I’ve just read the finale of the Buffy Season 8 comic which Dark Horse have been publishing. I’ve got to admit that it did bring me back into the Buffy universe (to the point of re-watching the Season 2 DVD this afternoon – I’m fast coming to the conclusion that it is my favourite of the seasons though not for the Buffy/Angel but rather Spike/Drusilla (earlier post on madness)) and it began to make more sense.
The wondering into other universes (although I really have to dig Fray out of a comic box) and the whole airship thing did slightly alienate me. Now that we are at the end, it makes a little more sense. The reliance on the supernatural was, in my view, getting in the way of the ordinariness of Buffy. The show worked best when it focussed on the (dys)functional family of Buffy, Giles, Xander, Willow and so on with its attention to the minutiae. As Joss Whedon remarks in the editorial at the end of the comic:
If you’ve read this issue, you’ve got a sense of where we’re heading for Season 9. Back, a bit, to the everyday trials that made Buffy more than a superhero. That made her us. I was so excited to finally have an unlimited budget that I wanted to make the book an epic, but I realized along the way that the things I loved the best were the things you loved the best: the peeps.
The Dawn being a giant thing made perfect sense when it came out that it was a response to her own stupidity (though she did emit a good “eep” in the show). It was messy though and appears that the intent of the comic changed (mentioned in the same editorial) and I think it got back on track. The comic really came out off the rails for me during the Tibet episode. However…
What interested me was the idea that the empowering spell, the awakening of all the potentials at the end of Season 7, was a gift which was ultimately resented, as if it was seen as being imposed. I do wonder if it is an echo of the ‘some people’s heaven is other’s hell’ but it works with the show again in terms of the various roles in it. People just don’t want the same things. I’m hoping that this does get explored in more depth in Season 9 and that Whedon builds on it and the subtleties of the feminist debate (which the Observer has run a few articles on in recent months).
Somehow it also echoes the idea of the supernatural as good and bad within the universe. It helps Buffy and, initially, Willow but Willow ends up being consumed within it so that it becomes a metaphor for addiction.
Clearly the world cannot exist without the supernatural (it is after all a horror show) but the focus on the ordinary would bring it back to its best moments for me. (That and the snappy language.) I’m looking forward to Season 9 now.