We left things in a very dire place in the previous issue. The best thing about this month’s Buffy, though, is that it’s a whole lot of fun, even though it leaves us in an even more devastating place than we already were. Compared to what they’ve dealt with in the past, this hasn’t been a season of very high stakes for the Scoobies. Buffy’s had a pretty sustainable relationship with Spike, Giles may be very young but is at least alive, Dawn and Xander broke up but stayed on amicable terms, and Willow has sort of been doing her own thing working with the military with a good deal of success. They took it upon themselves to rewrite the rules of magic. It’s come back to bite them in only a few ways and they have always had the magic council to fall back upon when that happened.
Things are different now. Dawn and Xander are stuck in another dimension while everyone scrambles for a way to get them back home. And this causes Buffy to be at odds with all of her friends. She’s anxious, angry, and can barely look at them without pointing fingers—including Spike. It’s the most tense we’ve seen things between Buffy and her friends all season and it’s honestly kind of refreshing. Finally, the stakes are high, and like the best of the TV series, the stakes are high for reasons due entirely to the characters. Buffy isn’t angry and hostile for no reason, she’s acting out of a love for her sister and fear that she might never see her again. That makes things very interesting.
The timeline of the issue is pretty unclear. It could take place over a couple of days, but in the case of Xander and Dawn, it seems to last weeks, if not months. That could just be due to the time differences between the two dimensions, but either way, an explanation would go a long way.
A lot of the reveals regarding D’Hoffryn and the Magic Council are not in any way surprising, they’ve been coming for a long time, but it does make things interesting to get all of that now. It’s never been a question of “Is D’Hoffryn going to turn on them?” It’s “When is D’Hoffryn going to turn on them?” He couldn’t have picked a time when they would have been more vulnerable or less prepared, so that’s going to make things very interesting heading toward the finale.
This is a very strong issue that captures the balance of the show very well. It’s funny, it’s quirky, it’s emotionally weighty and compelling, but it doesn’t have to sacrifice any one of those things for the sake of any others. That’s what always made Buffy work and it works here. I think it will be interesting to see D’Hoffryn finally be a major antagonist. He’s been an ally for some time, and has been way too nice, considering he’s a really bad guy. I also fully predict Ghost Anya turning on him, but I can’t wait to see what happens, regardless.
WICKED RATING: [usr 8]