Writer: Jordie Bellaire & Jeremy Lambert, Artwork: Ramon Bachs & Raúl Angulo, Lettering: Ed Dukeshire
Cover: David López
Page 01: We open on Xander, or at least his vampire counterpart, just after he's sensed Willow's astral form. He asks Willow if they're not bound to each other.
Page 02: Xander is there to convince Willow that they're still friends - of a sort, and possibly to distract her from worrying about locating Jenny by bringing up shared experiences.
Page 03: Vampire-Xander seems almost desperate to talk to Willow like they're friends, still. He seems genuinely annoyed when Willow keeps bringing up that he's not Xander Harris, and questions who he is, if not him.
Willow keeps bringing the conversation back around to Jenny, who Xander doesn't want to talk about. He tries to insist that Willow accepted him when he was a vampire before, and she rightly points out that he had a soul, then.
Page 04: Xander seems lost in a bit of self-pity, insisting to Willow that what happened to him wasn't his fault. He complains about having to wear super-SPF protection just to crack a peek at the
dawn sky [as well as hinting at the Initiative in a silly-throwaway]. Xander complains that he's lost everything, while Willow tells him that she's having trouble buying the "I'm not such a bad guy" act, what with his kidnapping Jenny, and all. And - y'know - that whole being a demon unmoderated by a human soul thing.
Commentary: I liked some of this, but there are other parts that felt like filler. Like the SPF-comment and the Ice Cream Guy 'joke'. I wish that this had been scripted differently to add much more focus on Vampire-Xander guilt-tripping Willow for his current state, his current sense of lonliness [whether sincere or manufactured], and Willow not getting so sidetracked so easily. In fact, overall, Jenny's abduction seems to not be hanging nearly heavily enough over Giles and Buffy, especially. They both seem to be overly attentive to other things, too, for my liking considering the situation.
Page 05: As Vampire-Xander morphs into Xander-face, Willow is being called out to by Rose - who is telling her to abort. Xander begs Willow not to leave him alone, and she responds that he needs to prove to her that he's really him, by letting Jenny go. If he does that, then she'll see about helping him come 'home'.
Page 06: Rose has called Willow back, because Buffy is in a state of hysteria. Rose excuses herself, and Willow turns attention from Xander to buffering up Buffy. She tells Willow that she rushed things with Robin and may have ruined things, like she ruins everything.
Page 07: Willow gets from Buffy that she thought she and Robin were going to have the sex, but Robin turned her down, saying that they weren't ready. Buffy took that to mean that he didn't trust her judgement. When Willow asks why she thinks that, Buffy brings it back to the night that Rose almost died because Buffy handled the attack badly.
She tells Willow that she has every right to be pissed at her, but Willow denies that she is. She tells her the first night that they met, Buffy saved her life and she trusts her instincts.
[Well. That's a nice sentiment, Willow - but you weren't there. Buffy did fuck up defense against that plant-creature attack that led to Rose getting speared, because she wouldn't listen to Kendra's experience with that very demon. I mean, I'm all for supporting your friends, but.... On the other hand, Willow probably hasn't been told all of the particulars by someone in the know, like Kendra herself.]
Page 08: As Buffy is dumping on herself for dragging Willow into the mess that is her life, Willow offers that she's not to blame for Sunnydale. She insists that Buffy stop talking herself down.
In the meantime, one of the crows under Xander's power [as we saw when he was looking Willow up in Abhainn -- though how he managed any such thing hasn't been explained] is spying at them.
Page 09: Willow hugs Buffy and asks if she's feeling better. She is, but still a bit of the bleh.
Page 10: The next day, Buffy is very standoffish and sorta pissed with Robin still, as he tries to give her space while running through the conversation from their night of not-passion. From his viewpoint, he was being reasonable and wasn't rejecting her so much as thinking there was too much happening at the moment for them to jump on such a big step.
Buffy is very obvious in her not-taking-it-well.
Page 11: That late afternoon, Robin has taken up residence in the library. Giles offers that he'd like to go, but can't as long as a student is there. Robin asks after Buffy, because she's supposed to show up in the library every afternoon, but Rupert tells him that she's not coming today.
Robin frustrates about her not wanting to see him, right after she wanted to see so much of him. Giles tries to help, but Robin points out that talking to Buffy's Watcher about Buffy is weird.
Page 12: Alas for Rupert [and me!], Robin doesn't just leave. He torrents out that Buffy is driving him crazy by punishing him for not trying to rush her and trying to be the nice guy, instead of just using her when she's vulnerable.
Somewhere in his barrage, Giles reads that he thinks Buffy is being distracted - by him - from thinking ahead to her duties. He suggests that Robin is feeling like she should choose between being the Slayer and being his girlfriend.
Robin snots at taking advice from someone whose girlfriend just dumped him, before apologizing.
Commentary: My head is spinning. Nothing in Robin's rant seemed to lead to Rupert's conclusion about his thoughts or feelings. And the suggestion that Buffy shouldn't have a personal life in addition to her Slayer-role seems far more Watcher-opinion, than Robin-feeling. This was horribly, clumsily written and it feels super-wrong that Rupert Giles would be talking to Robin about his possible sex-life, whether with Buffy or not. I hated this page, is what I'm sayin'.
And considering that Jenny is missing and in the clutches of a vampire -- his being a little shit to insult Giles about her is unforgivable. This page left me fuming and disgusted.
Page 13: Rupert chooses to ignore the Jenny-cut at him. He tells Robin that he believes the real issue is the young man's being unsure of his place in Buffy's life because her duty can so often preclude normal relationship stuff. [Again, I have no idea where Giles got any of this from Robin's rant that Buffy is being bitchy because he's not trying to rush her into bed.]
Giles suggests that if Robin is feeling frustrated, and Buffy isn't ready to talk it out with him, he should go on a patrol and work out his feelings. [Okay. What the fuck, Giles?? He's a failed Watcher-in-Training, and a high school student! You're suggesting he go patrolling, alone?! While he's very obviously distracted? What are these writers doing to Rupert?]
Page 14: Left alone in the library again, Rupert sighs that he tried. He picks up a photograph [appropo of nothing] that shows him in his younger days with three of his friends.
[Presumably, one of which was Ethan, since he's on his way to Sunnydale as a ghost attached to Wesley.]
Page 15: Giles tries to check in with his mother, but only gets a voicemail.
Page 16: Elsewhere, Kendra is with Rose watching the sun set.
Page 17: They discuss their relationship, and although it has moved fast and even though Rose only recently broke up with Willow, they're sure that they are in love with one another.
Page 18: Rose tells Kendra that she wants her to teach her all of the things that she knows about the Slayer stuff and they both profess their love with a kiss.
Page 19: After dark, Robin heads into Sunnydale Cemetery - complaining to himself about being in trouble from Buffy for caring about her.
In the meantime, Willow sighs that Rose must be too busy to be her anchor, and worries herself by considering going on another astral-walk without an anchor.
Page 20: Robin wanders the cemetery, calling out for vampires. He finds three, who see him as an easy meal.
Willow wanders the astral plain, but is interrupted by a spirit-crow who gets her to follow it. Willow comments that the bird is leading her away from where she knows Xander is, but apparently this bird isn't tied to Xan. She chooses to ignore her re-visit with the vampire, in order to follow the crow.
Page 21: Robin, while dodging the first attack, is tackled to the ground. He shouts at the vampires to stop, in terror, as he finds himself overwhelmed [Because he's fucking stupid, and Giles is fucking stupid, and the Slayers are too busy with their romantic lives to be out patrolling and reducing the vampire population... I just feel the need to point out].
In the meantime, Willow is led to a secretive meeting between someone hidden in a heavy cloak and a large, hunching demon. The demon is speaking down at the cloaked figure and telling him that things are coming together to lead to the fall of the Council.
Back with Robin, just as he's about to be torn open, someone from off-panel shouts at the 'creep parade'...
Page 22: ... Our shouter is a young, dark haired woman, dressed in leather and holding a stake. She asks if any of them know any good local places for a girl to get a little wild.
The Good: The only thing I liked in this one outright, was Faith's entrance. This was definitely the sort of dramatic entry she'd take.
The Bad: Rupert Giles' handling. I hate this... everything in this issue.
Other Thoughts: I was so excited when Willow ran into Xander on the ether-plain, but the writing was really underwhelming. I do like Willow's bargaining Vampire-Xan's desire to 'be back in the fold' against Jenny's safe return, and the overall feeling of sadness surrounding Xander [but whether it's genuine, I'm just not sure].
Boom!Buffy's on my nerves. Her woe-is-me is wearing thin, and I just don't care about her and Robin's tribulations.
Does Buffy and/or Kendra still patrol? They do realize that Xander is probably out there trying to grow a vampire army, right? Is anyone checking in with the Hellmouth, just to be sure that it's not rumbling?
The conversation between Rose and Kendra brought up the fact for me again about Kendra's presence in Sunnydale. With Buffy alive and well, I would think that Kendra would be assigned back to her original Watcher, and she'd be called home - or sent on the road to other 'trouble spots'. And if the Hellmouth was of such continual concern to the Council that she'd be kept where she is, I really wish that they'd send Zabuto to Sunnydale as well. They're apparently already going to have Wes hanging around to manage Faith, so why not throw one more wrench into the relationships between the Slayers?
The Score: Hmmm. The only thing of any relevance is Willow's interactions with Xander and her being led to whatever this meeting is with the demon and cloaked person. So much of this issue was take up with uninteresting and irrelevant relationship-angst. I'm not into it. Your mileage could wildly vary, of course.
3.0 out of 5 stars