Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Episode 14: Wolves at the Gate, Part Three
Written by Drew Goddard; Illustrated by Georges Jeanty
Well, Renée is now dead, bloodily speared through the heart with the mystical scythe by a grinning vampire in what I’m sure was meant to be a deeply shocking and heartbreaking moment, but which just leaves me rolling my eyes and thinking “Jesus, get a new favourite plot contrivance, Joss.” Sudden Unexpected Deaths are all very well when used in moderation and for meaningful purposes, but when you roll out the exact same thing again and again, then please forgive me for not being entirely enthused by it. Jenny Calendar worked, Joyce worked, I’ll even concede that Doyle worked to some extent, but now we’ve had (off the top of my head) Tara, Jonathan, Cordelia, Fred, Wesley, Christian Kane, Shepherd Book, Wash, Random Japanese Slayer… Really, when you add up all the Sudden Unexpected Deaths that have been thrown at us by Buffy, Angel and Firefly/Serenity combined, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was nothing more than a big joke.
Maybe it is. Maybe Joss Whedon is sitting at his desk cackling as his unquestioning fans slavishly lap up each tall steaming glass of liquid fertiliser he serves them and then ask for more. However, if so, I’m sorry to say I don’t share his sense of humour. Oddly enough, what I find particularly obnoxious about the whole affair is that I had no reason to care about Renée in the first place. She was never characterised in anything but the broadest sense, and her entire function, it is now clear, was simply to dump yet more heartache on Xander. Are we at all surprised that the pair shared a kiss not six pages before she was skewered? Then again, given how Whedon and Goddard have treated the Xander character so far in this arc (see his “relationship” with Dracula), perhaps they’ll expect us to see his bereavement as highly amusing. After all, this issue began with Buffy cutting down the body of Random Japanese Slayer, which the vampires had strung up over the streets of Tokyo for all to see, and yet, four pages later, had Dracula hilariously asking if anyone was going to finish eating the corpse.
I haven’t yet mentioned Buffy treating Dracula as a mere annoyance (rather than as the mortal enemy that he is) or the sight of giant Dawn stomping through Tokyo à la Godzilla, but in all honesty I don’t see the point. This comic is a train wreck even by the already extremely low standards set by Seasons 6 and 7 of the television series. I’m sorry to say that I have less and less hope for Whedon’s new TV project, Dollhouse, with every page I read of this travesty. It astounds me that the person who once gave us excellent television like Hush, Restless and The Body has fallen so far from grace, but quite frankly, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to bring myself to care.
My next Buffy comic review will be my final one. My subscription stops after Episode 15, and I most assuredly won’t be renewing it. So, you can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.