BTVS Season 8 #10: Anywhere But Here

“Hey, the demons are after us, the humans are after us, this whole ‘Twilight’ thing is looking very creepy and hey, Faith tried to kill me again! My grip on reality is not that grippy. I’m protective of it.” – Buffy Summers

Synopsis

Buffy is sunbathing on the beach in her bikini. Suddenly, Daniel Craig appears in a pair of speedos, sunblock at the ready. Is this for real? Of course not. Willow and Buffy and simply partaking in a little game of Anywhere But Here. In reality, they’re flying. And not by plane, via Willow.

Willow: That’s it?

Buffy: You don’t like Daniel Craig?

Willow: No, he’s got a thing, I just… The beach? Rubbing oil? It’s a little generic.

Buffy: Well, I’m having trouble concentrating! It’s not that I don’t have other places I’d like to be… I’m just feeling really… present.

Buffy looks nervous. She’s clinging to Willow for dear life. Willow is smiling blissfully as she soars through the sky.

Meanwhile, back at the castle, Xander has a surprise for Dawn. He arranged for a couple of their new wiccan recruits to work their mojo. They can’t make Dawn regular-sized just yet. So instead, they make a suitcase full of her things giant-sized. Dawn is ecstatic to have clean clothes, “Oh, blessed sockies, you still have dryer smell.” Mixed in with her clothes is a picture of her and Kenny. She breaks down upon seeing it and confides in Xander. She tells him that she didn’t sleep with Kenny, she slept with his roommate, Nick. That’s why Kenny really put the whammy on her. Xander comforts her by letting her know that she’s not the only one who’s ever made a mistake.

Xander: Dawnie, stop. You’re hereby found guilty of being a cliché. And that’s it! You ever see the first guy Buffy slept with in colloge?

Dawn: Riley?

Xander: Oh, how she wishes. This is all good news. Now we have a real lead on whatever mojo Kenny might’ve used. And more importantly, it was me you opened up to. I’m special.

Willow and Buffy continue to play their fantasy role play game. This time it’s Willows turn. Her fantasy includes a ski adventure with Tina Fey. Buffy asks Willow where Kennedy fits into this fantasy. Willow tells her that she doesn’t, it’s a game, no significant others.

Buffy: I just haven’t… seen her… but then I haven’t seen you much – But I know you two are… Well that she can be… Bratty… But not bratty… Are we there yet?

Buffy is saved by the bell. They’ve reached their destination, Sephrilian’s lair. Sephrilian is a demon with the capability to walk between realities. His lair looks like an old dilapidated cottage. Willow informs Buffy that it’s not what it seems. It’s bigger on the inside. The entrance is guarded by a Minder, Robin. She was chosen to watch over Sephrilian’s domain. Her presence stabilizes reality around the lair. She tells Willow that they must not use magic inside. She also imparts a cryptic message upon Buffy, “Rescue the prince.” (I have a theory as to who she’s referring to. But I’ll have to keep it to myself for now to avoid spoilers.)

When they enter the lair, they’re greeted by an endless staircase. They eventually find Sephrilian, but he’s in no mood to talk. They ask if he knows anything about Twilight. His reply is ominous to say the least…

Sephrilian: The end, of course. Of the struggle, of the hellmouths… The final triumph of the base humans over the demons. It’s your life’s goal achieved, Slayer. The death of magic.

Sephrilian proceeds to tell Buffy and Willow that mankind is built out of lies, delusions and gross simplifications. To prove his point, he invites them to take a look. He gives them a glimpse into both the past and the future, through a series of visions.

The first vision takes place in the past. It features Buffy and a squad of Slayers robbing a Swiss Bank. Buffy is holding a large diamond as she orders the others to get a move on before the guards wake up. Natuarally, Willow is disappointed. She tells Buffy that this feeds into everything the government fears about Slayers. (See Buffy Speak of the Week.)

Next, we get a look into Willow’s past. She’s getting very intimate and very naked with a Snakelike demon lady. “Wow, your bad is way better than mine.” Buffy says.

The third and final vision takes place in the future. Robin has joined them now. Buffy is laying on the ground of a foggy tomb. She’s wounded and crying. There’s a broken red egg (seed) floating above them (This is relevant, but again my lips are sealed *spoilers*) Buffy asks what happened here. Robin tells her that this is where she is unexpectedly betrayed by someone closest to her.

Buffy asks Willow if it’s her, If that’s the real reason they are here together? Willow tells Buffy that she will not betray her... anymore than she already has. She explains that she’s kept Kennedy away from the group in order to protect her. She feels guilty for Tara’s death. She feels like bringing Buffy back from the dead put Tara in harms way. She tells Buffy that she chose her over Tara and she cant do that again.

Robin says she has to leave because they are about to cause a disruption. Sephrilian returns looking for a fight. He tells them that he welcomes the upcoming war and that he knows their weaknesses and soon his brethren will too. Buffy makes with the stabby and Willow makes with the mojo. Because Willow used magic, the reality field becomes unstable and begins to collapse. The lair goes kaboom! Robin stabilises the field and contains the explosion, saving Buffy and Willow.

Willow: I can’t believe you contained that whole surge! Sorry about the mojo abuse –

Robin: No, no! The field’s stable now! You guys bought me some time off till I’m reassigned. I’m really grateful.

Buffy: Glad we could accidentally help. Do you remember being in there? What we saw?

Robin: I’m sorry. If I projected a remnant in there, it went when the field closed down. But I imagine it wasn’t something fun.

Buffy: It was demons.

Willow: Playing games.

End.

The Watchers Files

Anywhere But Here was written by Joss Whedon and features art work by Jo Chen and Cliff Richards.

This was the first issue Joss had written since The Chain. It’s also the first issue Cliff Richards pencilled this season (And no, I don’t mean the singer. Different dude, thankfully.) While this may be the first canonical comic Richards has worked on, he’s no stranger to the Buffyverse. He pencilled several non-canonical comics. Perhaps most notably, Slayer Interrupted. (Well worth checking out.) He did a fantastic job in this issue at capturing the characters likeness and emotion.

I really enjoyed this issue. Whedon’s zingy dialogue was in full play. It packed an emotional punch while making you laugh at the same time. No one does that quite like Joss.

The fantasy sequences were hilarious. I particularly enjoyed Buffy’s Christian Bale double bill and Willows icy escapades with Tina Fey. You’ve gotta love a good game of Anywhere but Here. Here’s my current go-to… Antoni Porowski, giving me a private cooking lesson, in Sicily.

This game also provides a super cute throwback. Buffy and Willow played this game on the show as well. (Season 2, Episode 8, The Dark Age.)

I loved that Buffy and Willow got some one-on-one bestie time in this issue. Buffy’s snooping about Willow’s relationship status was priceless. I did get a kick out of her referring to Kenney as bratty (Poor Kennedy, she’s never gonna live that down.)

This issue also featured several juicy revelations…

1. Willow’s reason for keeping Kennedy separate from the group was heart-breaking, but it made sense. It was a complex and emotional scene. The wound Tara’s death created is still very raw. I think it always will be, for the characters and fans.

2. Dawn did what? With who? They grow up so fast.

3. Buffy the jewel thief! Say what?

4. Willow got jiggy with a sexy-snake-lookin-demon-lady. Okay… We’re all for interdimensional/Species mixing in the Buffyverse.

5. And let’s not forget the biggie… They saved the best for last. Someone close to Buffy will betray her (No! The horror of it all!) The glimpse of the future we got was genuinely intriguing. I was shook by the implication that Willow might be the one to betray Buffy. I literally gasped. Yup, I’m that dramatic. (Stay tuned to find out who our Judas really is. This Season is going to be a bumpy ride folks.)

Trivia

Robin’s Story

An intriguing new character was introduced in this issue. Robin is the Minder of Sephrilian’s reality field. And as Willow says, “You don’t volunteer to be a Minder, Buffy. You get chosen.” The person on which this character was based, Robin Balzer, was also chosen, by Joss himself.

In 2007, MySpace Comic Books and Dark Horse collaborated by holding a competition which offered Buffy fans the ultimate prize, the chance to cameo in Joss Whedon’s upcoming BtVS Season 8 comic series. Fans were asked to submit personal essays about how Buffy effected their lives. There were thousands of entries, but just one winner, Robin Balzer. Robin’s essay was written by her husband, Jerrod Balzer. Jerrod wrote about how Buffy had helped Robin when she was first diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He talked about how Buffy gave his wife something to look forward to during these difficult and confusing times. The Whedonverse provided her with characters that she could relate to. Joss was so touched and inspired by the essay that he upped the prize. Robin didn’t just earn a mere cameo. She became a character with a much bigger role in the story.

If you’d like to learn more about Robin’s story check out CBR’s article A Mind Interrupted: Robin Balzer’s “Buffy” Story by Emmett Furey.

Buffy Speak of the Week

Upon witnessing Buffy’s little bank heist, Willow had some wisdom to impart...

Willow: So the Mysterious benefactor banrolling the Slayer army…

Buffy: It’s all insured! It’s a victimless crime! And we totally found a Watteau the Nazis hid and sent it to the Tate! That happens in a minute. It’s only money…

Willow: And money changes everything. This is where it all starts, Buffy. What your enemies saw. Slayers acting above the law, and endangering their most precious possession: their possessions. This is the first domino.

Buffy: Ooh! Look! Here’s a you bad thing!

Willow shows Buffy the severity of her actions. She’s crossed a line, put herself above the law. I love that the mysterious benefactor is finally revealed because it has been bugging me trying to figure out how they’ve been funding their new digs. I also love how Buffy comedically diverts the spotlight onto Willow’s misdemeanour. Classic Whedon!

Slayer Rating: 4.5/5

©2017 by Daniel Devenney.