BTVS Season 8 #13: Wolves at the Gate, Part 2

“Magnificent. Then please, enter. Both of you. I’ll alert the kitchen. If I know my manservant, he could use a plate of hot mealworms before he changes into his manservant bloomers.” – Dracula

Synopsis

The previous issue ended on a big reveal. As Xander and Renee rocked up outside a creepy old castle, they were greeted by the one and only, Dracula. This issue opens with the Count, fifteen minutes prior to Xander and Renee’s arrival. He’s a far cry from the dapper devil we’re used to. He’s old and haggard with a long white beard and overgrown fingernails. He’s wearing a scruffy bathrobe and clutching a bottle of booze. His miniature demon butler, Butterfield, appears to be quite worried about him.

Butterfield: Master, the servants are concerned. You rarely leave this room. You spend your time stumbling about in a liquor-drenched oblivion, you haven’t killed so much as a peasant in months… People are beginning to wonder aloud… What has become of the mighty Dracula?

Dracula asks Butterfield to leave him be. He tells his stout purple butler that he doesn’t require anyone’s help. As he gazes out the window, he see’s Xander and Renee’s helicopter approach. He appears to have a change of heart. He asks Butterfield to fetch him his razor.

This brings us up to speed. The story picks up where it left off last issue. Xander tells a now young and handsome Dracula that they need his help. Dracula declines, claiming he’s far too busy. Butterfield has just loosed an Albanian boy in the hedge maze. If he doesn’t slaughter him quickly his blood will become alkaline from terror. Xander begs, telling him it’s both urgent and important. Dracula agrees and invites Xander in. He tells him he can leave his moor (referring to Renee) in the stables. This is the first of many racist comments. Xander explains that Renee is with him and they both proceed to enter and follow Dracula. Xander suggests it might be safer if Renee waits outside. But there’s no way she’s leaving him alone with this guy.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Andrew is giving a group of Slayers another one of his famous pep talks. This time, he’s giving them the lowdown on Dracula and his various abilities. He’s wearing George Hamilton’s outfit from Love at First Bite. He also explains to them that Dracula and Xander have a unique relationship. He reveals that Xander even went to live with Dracula for a few months.

Andrew: Xander took a leave of absence and went to Transylvania. It was right after Anya’s death – he needed some guy time.

Inside Slayer HQ, Buffy is getting an update on their latest threat, the Japanese vampire squad with Drac-like abilities. A Slayer named Aiko has uncovered that their leaders name is Toru. She’s communicating via satellite. She’s also pinpointed the vamp gang’s location. Buffy warns her not to approach. She is under strict instruction to wait for back up. Buffy tells Satsu to prep the others. She wants the whole team on this one. Satsu suggest leaving a squad behind as safeguard. Buffy cuts her off. She tells her it’s not up for discussion.

Back in Transylvania, Xander and Renee are having tea with Dracula. Renee is growing tired as Xander and Drac gush over each other (See Buffy Speak of the Week.) Eventually, she gets the pair back on topic and Drac reveals how this new gang may have gotten hold of his abilities.

Dracula: Oh Balls. These vampires you speak of… They wouldn’t happen to be Orientals, would they?

It turns out, he gambled away his secrets for a motorcycle. Although, he’s fairly sure they cheated. Furious and spurting racist remarks, he decides he wants vengeance.

Dracula: Let’s be clear about this, manservant… I don’t owe you anything, I’m not interested in your cause, and the next your moor smarts off at me I will slit her throat. I loathe Buffy Summers, her whole army makes me want to retch, and I’d just as soon see them wiped off the map once and for all. However. Nobody steals from Dracula.

As the Slayers fly to Tokyo, Willow has a heart to heart with Satsu. She reminds Satsu that Buffy isn’t one of them. She’s the general. They’re the army. She also cautions Satsu not to get her hopes up with Buffy, romantically speaking. Because Buffy isn’t a lesbian. Afterwards, in true Willow fashion, she cuts the tension by asking what Buffy is like in the sack.

On the busy streets of Tokyo, Aiko is tailing Toru and Raidon. In her attempt to keep a close eye on them, she’s put herself in serious danger. They’re on to her. She spots a red glowing object in an alleyway. She proceeds to inspect the mysterious item and walks right into the vamp gang’s trap. As she lifts the circular object, Kumiko pounces from above. She’s holding the Scythe and it appears to react with the object. Red glowing energy passes from Aiko to the object. Without warning Toru appears. He punches Aiko, knocking her to the ground.

Toru: Shoot. I just broke your jaw, didn’t I? That’s unfortunate. I was hoping you could tell me what it feels like to be a regular girl again. Must be terrifying.

Toru then feasts on the Slayer. It appears they have found a way to use the Scythe and this mystery object to steal the Slayer’s power.

Toru: Raidon. I’d call that a successful Beta test…

Raidon: Indeed. I think it’s time we take this technology global.

To be continued…

The Watcher’s Files

Wolves at the Gate, Part 2 was written by Drew Goddard and features artwork by Georges Jeanty and Jo Chen.

Solid issue, but not my fave. I definitely enjoyed the first issue of this story arc the most. It’s just a little too OTT for me in parts.

I didn’t really buy Dracula and Xander’s bromance. Sure, once upon a time he was under his thrall. But I just can’t see him going to live with him for a few months after Anya’s death… What? Like seriously… and Buffy and Willow are supposedly cool with him swanning off to Transylvania to hang out with a mass murderer in his grieving state. It was all just a touch too far. Yes, Buffy could at times enter the realm of absurdity, but they always found a way to make it feel plausible. That was its genius. This issue lacked that craftmanship. I’m not saying the issue wasn’t fun, just that they could have found a way to bring the pair together again that felt more organic.

Also, the whole comparing Drac to an elderly racist was a little over played. He’s old and therefore racist. We get it! I’m not sure having him yell “Those Filthy Yellow Swine!” would fly in today’s climate. I get that Goddard was trying to make fun of racists and not Japanese people, but it was a little much. (Side note: I’m rereading and reviewing this issue in a busy Hong Kong airport, so I flicked through those pages quickly.)

On a more positive note, Andrew was comedy gold as always. God, I love his pep talks.

I also loved the scene between Willow and Satsu on the plane. It felt honest. It had heart and humour.

The final scene in which Aiko was slaughtered really amped things up. It proved this new vamp gang mean business.

Trivia

In the Season 5 premiere, Buffy Vs Dracula, Dracula was played by actor, Rudolf Martin. This wasn’t the first time Rudolf and Sarah Michelle Gellar shared the screen. They also played onscreen lovers, Kendall and Anton, on All My Children.

Buffy Speak of the Week

Even though I had my gripes about the Xander and Drac team up. There were some quality moments. This scene in particular made me giggle.

Xander: I’m glad to hear you’re doing well.

Dracula: You’ve lost weight.

Xander: Can you tell? I’ve been trying to exercise more.

Dracula: Yes, it suits you.

Xander: Thanks, you look good too.

Dracula: Oh, you’re just saying that because I complimented you.

Xander: No – I’m not! I promise.

Dracula: I can’t see myself in mirrors. I fear my best days are behind me.

Xander: No – You’re more handsome than ever.

Dracula: Do you really think so?

Xander: Yes

Renee: Oh, for the love of God…

Slayer Rating: 3/5 Stakes

©2017 by Daniel Devenney.