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Date Posted: 16:48:46 01/22/11 Sat
Author: Michael
Author Host/IP:
Subject: Thoughts on Buffy Season 8 (Spoilers)

Quick summary: Season 5 writ large plus parallels to Season 2. Season 3/6 to come?

I've always thought of Season 8 as being a lot like Season 5 but on a larger scale. We start S8 on a hopeful note with Buffy in her new role as leader of the Slayer army. But, as in Season 5, she becomes aware of a new threat. One which proves to be more than she can deal with. The pressure grows on multiple fronts until in the "Retreat" arc (as in S5 "Spiral") she basically bolts in panic. And when that fails she escapes into a private universe. Unlike Season 5, however, she leaves the private universe on her own, without needing anyone's help. Like Season 5 she returns to a desperate situation. One which she does find a way out of but at great cost. Not her death this time, but four other "deaths". The death of magic, the disintegration of her Slayer Army, the death of her father-figure and adviser Giles, and Angel's descent into his own private hell inside his mind.

There are also parallels to Season 2. The person who is guiding the attacks on the Slayer army turns out to be Angel. Not a soulless Angel as in Season 2, but instead one who honestly believes he is doing the right thing--choosing the only possible alternative that doesn't end in annihilation. And just as in Season 2, Angel is trying to break Buffy down emotionally. And, of course, he ultimately gets sent to hell, at least metaphorically.

A frequent division of the broadcast seasons is to divide them into two trilogies: Seasons 1-3 and 5-7, with Season 4 as a transitional season. Looking at S8, I think there is a case for a different division. Seasons 1-3, Seasons 4-6, and Seasons 7-9. Seasons 1 and 4 both introduce a new situation. In Season 1 Buffy comes to Sunnydale, while in Season 4 she enters college. And both Seasons 1 and 4 end on a reasonably straightforward victory. Season 7 isn't as much of a new situation, although it is Buffy's first introduction to her role as General. But like Seasons 1 and 4 it ends in a solid victory. Seasons 2, 5, and 8 all show Buffy overwhelmed by circumstances. And they all end in death or the equivalent. And in a "victory" that is very much Pyrrhic. And in all three cases, Buffy takes a break from her duties before being recalled to them. Seasons 3 and 6 both deal with the consequences of "death" and "resurrection" and both end in a "graduation".

Which brings us to Season 9. There are four "deaths" in Season 8. I do not expect Giles' death to be reversed. Angel's "death" however will be. Story-external, we know that Angel will have his own S9 series. Story-internal, he's actually already survived worse. And Faith is perhaps the best person to bring him back from his particular paralysis. Of all the people who know Angel, she's the only one he might be able to face right now. She's the one HE helped save from her own darkness.

The Slayer army may reform in part, at least informally as events unfold. I suspect one reason it fell apart so completely was that Buffy may not have made any effort to keep it together.

Which brings us to magic. Willow seems determined to find some way to bring magic back. Partly for personal reasons (she seems to suggest she has fallen in love with Saga Vasuki) but also because she thinks the world needs magic. I suspect she will at least partially succeed, but with results that are not entirely pleasant.

Remember my suggestion of a triple trilogy structure. And that Season 8 has elements of both Seasons 2 and 5. This may suggest that Season 9 will have elements of both Seasons 3 and 6 (which is fitting since 3+6=9). That it will see one or more of the Scoobies put through the emotional wringer. And perhaps will end in some important milestone.

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