BTVS Season 8 #4: The Long Way Home, Part 4

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

 

“Bored now. Do you even remember that’s what you said? Last two words of my human life, so I remember probably better.” – Warren Mears

 

Synopsis

 

The epic conclusion to A Long Way Home opens with a trip down memory lane. It takes us back to when Warren Mears met his fate at the hands of Dark Willow (Season 6, Episode 20, Villains). Warren is explaining to Willow how he survived being flayed alive.

 

“If Amy hadn’t been watching you, she would never have started watching me. Watching over me. Do you know she had maybe as four-second window after my skin came off before I died of shock alone? That flash-paper disappearing trick was pretty hokey, we kid about that, but thinking on your feet, this is the girl. Her magic is my skin.”

 

Warren also reveals that he was in cahoots with Amy when she cast the spell on Willow which turned her into him. (Season 7, Episode 13, The Killer in Me).

 

Back in Scotland, Dawn is venting her anger over Willow’s abduction, by pummeling a brick wall. Buffy reminds her that she’s not as proportionately strong as she is large. Dawn is freaking out, “Just bring her back. I trust you to do that, I do, Buffy, but do it. I’m not trying to slam you, I swear, but…Will is like a mom to me.” She says. (Ouch, poor Buff).

 

Our resident mystics are quickly put to work. They must pinpoint the exact location of the portal, so they can reopen it. Xander tells Buffy that teleportation is not an exact magic and that without Giles, it could take a couple of hours to create an opening big enough for just two of them. Buffy assumes Xander will want in on the action, but he decides this isn’t the best tactic.

 

“I’m not a fighter, I got no magic. If there’s any kind of satellite bounce I’m your eyes and ears, that’s it. It’s Will, we play it smart. And we remember she’s stronger than all of us.”

 

Instead, Xander encourages Buffy to choose the best person for the job. Buffy chooses Satsu. Surprised that she’s been chosen, Satsu tells her peers that it should’ve been one of them. Leah tells her to suck it up and warns her not to embarrass them. Buffy briefs Satsu and borrows her lip gloss before they head into battle. Buffy notes that the flavour of the gloss is cinnamon. Anyone paying attention to Buffy’s first words when she awoke from her mystical coma will know why this is relevant.

 

Meanwhile, Willow is still magically strapped to a medical table and being tortured by Warren. He is slicing her eye with a scalpel. We cut to another plane of existence, where a group of magical beings, known as Elemental Goddesses, have decided to grant Willow’s consciousness refuge in their realm, “This refuge is only temporary, as you know. We cannot undo what is happening on your plane, but your heart can bide here with us until you are free”. They also warn Willow that she is being lobotomised. 

 

In commando land, General Voll has been alerted by Willow’s screaming. Amy assures the General that there’s nothing to worry about and that Willow will lead the Slayer right to them. The General and his troops are prepared for Buffy’s arrival. They have a huge energy-blasting-canon guarding their end of the portal. It’s ready to obliterate anyone coming through. Luckily for our Slayers, Xander expected nothing less and has taken provisions to combat this. Using mirrors, they cleverly direct the blast back at Voll and his army. This destroys the canon and gives Buffy and Satsu the advantage when they pass through the portal. Many of Voll’s men have been taken out of action.

 

The two Slayers charge through the military installation, kicking some major ass along the way. Buffy looks bad-ass with her Scythe and Satsu sports a nifty sword. When they’ve just about taken all of their men down, Buffy has a one to one with their sergeant, “We tried to be nice here but some of these men are dying. There’s one person in this complex powerful enough to heal them.” she says. In the meantime, Xander has tapped into their satellite. Buffy asks for their location and he informs her that they’re about two miles south of Sunnydale.

 

Elsewhere, one of the elemental Goddesses tells Willow that her body has almost had it, and that if she dies a natural death, she can’t come back from it. Willow appears to be un-phased, “Did I ever tell you about my best friend? I like to think, in a way that she’s a part of me. That even when she’s gone, a part of her is with me. ‘Cause it is.” she says.

 

When Buffy and Satsu reach Willow’s location, Amy is guarding the door. But they have a Wiccan ace up their sleeve. Suddenly, Buffy’s eyes turn black. It appears Willow has synced her power with Buffy. Now, there’s no stopping a magically charged Buffster from saving her bestie. Amy tells Buffy that her new found power is no more than a lightshow and that she doesn’t have a fraction of Willows strength. Buffy’s not worried, “I saw your dreamspace Amy. I saw your nightmare.” She says, before turning into Amy’s mother, Catherine Madison. This distracts Amy long enough for Satsu to throw a grenade at her feet. The explosion breaks down the door and they rush to Willows side. Amy grabs Warren and escapes through a portal. Warren screams, “This isn’t over Slayer” before vanishing.

 

Willow heals herself and all of the injured soldiers, because let’s not forget, Slayers aren’t killers. Before they make a break for it, Buffy comes across a door branded with the number thirty. She has an epiphany about the three X’s she saw in her Dreamspace. They were Roman Numerals. She surmises that Ethan is behind the door, and she’s right. However, when they open the door to free him, he’s dead. General Voll has shot him in the head. Voll charges at Buffy and she knocks the gun out of his hand and throws him at a wall. Voll’s shirt was torn in the kerfuffle, exposing his chest, which bears the crypic mark they’ve been trying to translate. Voll reveals that the mark symbolises Twilight, “Twilight is coming. For you, for all your monstrous spawn… it all ends very soon.” He says. Their organisation views the Slayers as the ultimate threat to mankind.

 

“Evil, Demons? Where do you think your power comes from? Oh, wait, you already know. You’ve upset the balance, girl. Do you really think we were going to sit by and let you create a master race?”

 

Voll warns Buffy that she’s not just dealing with monsters anymore; she’s now at war with the human race.

 

The Watchers Files

 

The Long Way Home #4 was written by Joss Whedon and features artwork by Georges Jeanty (Ink) and Jo Chen (Cover).

 

I thought this was a strong conclusion to Season Eights first story arc. It was certainly eventful. We finally got more info about the mysterious symbol introduced in the first issue, a recurring character was killed off, and General Voll’s little revelation at the end posed some very interesting questions for the future.

 

I definitely felt the lack of Giles in this story, but his role in the season becomes more apparent in the next story arc. I love that Buffy, Xander and Willow have really come together as a unit. Their roles are much clearer and they really play to each other’s strengths.

 

On the show, Xander felt like a bit of a weak link at times. His progression to Watcher feels natural and has given him more purpose. Xander has undoubtedly grown the most since they left Sunnydale.

 

Willow merging with Buffy was bad-ass and gave me serious Primeval (Season 4, Episode 21) vibes.

 

Ethan’s death was a real surprise and proved that these comics aren't messing around.

 

The name of Buffy’s new foe was finally revealed. I thought it was hilarious that this seasons Big Bad was named Twilight. Was this a dig at another popular vampire franchise?

 

Trivia

 

Chaos Raynes: The Mischief & Mayhem of Ethan Rayne

 

“Chaos, I remain, as ever, thy faithful, degenerate son.” – Ethan Rayne, Halloween

 

For a character that only appeared briefly in four episodes, Ethan Rayne certainly left his mark on the series. Fans knew that when Ethan was in town, things were about to make with the wacky. With Rayne’s sudden departure from the Buffyverse, I thought I’d take the opportunity to pay tribute to this memorable rogue.

 

So buckle up, and let’s take a look back at all the havoc this chaos worshipping sorcerer caused our heroes on the Hellmouth.

 

#1 Halloween, Season 2, Episode 6

 

This episode featured Ethan’s first appearance in Sunnydale. When Buffy and the gang go costume shopping for Halloween, they get a little more than they bargained for. After purchasing their costumes at a new place in town called Ethan’s, the gang are literally transformed into the characters they’ve dressed up as. The episode delivered some unforgettable moments from the second season. It introduced us to commando Xander, a Victorian Buffy and a scantily clad ghost Willow. We also find out that Ethan and Giles share a history. Ethan refers to Giles as Ripper and implies that our stuffy librarian isn’t as straight-laced as we’ve come to believe. Ethan skedaddles at the end of the episode, but not before leaving a note for his old pal Ripper. It simply reads, ‘Be seeing you…’   

 

#2 The Dark Age, Season 2, Episode 8

 

It doesn’t take long for Rayne to resurface. When a demon named Eyghon starts killing off Giles and Ethan’s former college buds, Buffy and the gang are forced to protect him. It turns out Giles had a bit of a rebellious streak in his youth. He and Ethan were part of a cult that used dark magic to summon the demon. They even had the mark of Eyghon tattooed on their forearms. The group went their separate ways when one of them was killed by the demon. Now, Eyghon’s back and he’s picking them off one by one. It’s using their tattoos as a tracking device. When the demon possesses Jenny Calendar, Buffy must defend Ethan, while trying to spare Jenny. Unsurprisingly, Ethan double-crosses Buffy. He knocks her out and brands her with the mark of Eyghon. He removes his own tattoo with acid. Now, Buffy is the demon’s target. Luckily, Angel shows up in the nick time. He chokes Jenny until she’s unconscious, forcing the Demon out of her body and into his own. Angel’s inner demon wrestles with Eyghon. Our champion is victorious and Eyghon is defeated. Ethan sneakily scurries away, and poor Buffy has to use all her savings on tattoo removal. We get to see a different side of Giles when he interacts with Ethan, adding a whole new layer to the character.   

 

#3 Band Candy, Season 3, Episode 6

 

When mystical candy turns the adults of Sunnydale into immature buffoons, it’s no surprise when we learn that Ethan Rayne had something to do with it. Although, this time, he’s not working alone. With the help of the Mayor and Mr Trick, he causes quite the stir. As the band candy does its rounds, hilarity quickly ensues. Giles and Joyce hook-up and Snyder and the Sunnydale High faculty hit the bronze. This episode was hugely entertaining. Teenage Snyder was comedy gold. We also got a glimpse of what Giles might’ve been like in his Ripper days. Watching Buffy deal with a teenage Joyce was also very funny. The episode takes a more sinister turn when we learn that the chaotic candy is just a distraction. Under the Mayors orders, Mr Trick and his cronies are planning on kidnapping and sacrificing new born babies to the demon Lurcronis. Not to worry, Buffy and the gang indubitably save the day and Ethan eludes capture once more. I love the last scene, when Giles and Joyce awkwardly meet after the effects of the candy have worn off. Their reaction when Buffy says “At least I got to the two of you before you actually ‘did’ something.” says it all. I always hoped that something more might’ve transpired between Giles and Joyce, romantically speaking. But oh well, thanks to Ethan they’ll always have Band Candy. 

 

#4 A New Man, Season 4, Episode 12

 

Ethan’s final appearance may have been his most memorable. When Ethan meets Giles at a bit of a crossroads, he convinces his former pal to go for a drink with him. He claims to have info on a new threat looming over Sunnydale. Now that Giles is no longer Buffy’s Watcher, he’s feeling a bit lost and out of the loop. He agrees to go for a drink, but suffers a bit more than a hangover the next day. Unbeknownst to Giles, Ethan slipped a potion into his drink. The next morning, he wakes up as a Fyarl Demon. This leads to a whole lot of hijinks, including a comedic team up with Spike and a sweet moment between Giles and Buffy as they reconnect. Giles is reverted back to his human form and Ethan is finally captured by Riley and the Initiative. They transport him to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert. This is the last time we see Ethan until he resurfaces in Season Eight’s The Long Way Home.

 

Ethan sure knew how to raise hell for our heroine. He delivered some truly unforgettable situations for our Scooby’s. Looking back, it’s unsurprising that this trickster made such an impression. The part was acted superbly by British actor, Robin Sachs. He also appeared in the 2003 Buffy video game, Chaos Bleed.

 

Sadly, Robin passed away in 2013. He died from a heart attack, just a few days shy of his 62’d birthday.

 

R.I.P Ethan & Robin

 

Thanks for the memories.

 

Buffy Speak of the Week

 

Buffy: This isn’t about demon at all, is it? It’s about women. It’s about power and it’s about women and you just hate those two words in the same sentence, don’t you?

 

General Voll: You think it’s only men want to bring you down? You’re not human. You’ve been to war with demons, with the first, but believe me you picked the wrong side. ‘Cause god help us, if you win then you’ll decide the world still isn’t the way you want it and the demon in you will say just one thing. “Slay.”

 

General Voll: We’re not waiting for that to happen. We will wipe you out. Not just monsters anymore. It’s you against the world. You’re at war with the human race.

 

The dialogue between Buffy and Voll as they face-off at the end of this issue, is without a doubt, it’s most compelling. The revelation that Buffy is now at war with the human race is a game changer. Over the years we’ve witnessed Buffy take on all kinds of demonic, supernatural, even godly foes. But, this opens up a whole new can of worms. Buffy has always lived by a code. She does not kill humans. Being a Slayer is not the same as being a killer. It doesn’t give her a license to kill. So, this poses a very interesting question. How is Buffy going to defeat this new threat?

 

Slayer Rating: 3.5/5 Stakes

 

 

 

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