“All that matters is the Scythe. Once we get that back, they can’t hurt us. I mean, except, you know, in the traditional biting and stabbing and clawing sense. But we’ll deal with that when it comes.” – Buffy Summers
This issue was intense. It both opens and ends in tragedy. Buffy and the crew have reached Tokyo. But not in time to save Aiko. Her body is strung up in front of a building in the middle of the city. Underneath is a message written in Aiko’s blood. It translates “Welcome to Tokyo.”
Buffy asks the other Slayers to help cut her down. She carries the body to the Tokyo branch of Slayer HQ. She lays the body to rest in a small Buddhist temple and mourns the fallen Slayer. She sits with her until nightfall. Eventually, Willow comes to check on her. She asks Buffy how long she’s going to stay there. Buffy replies, “Just ‘til I figure out what to do next.” Willow offers her a blanket, but Buffy just wants to get her hands on one of the vamps responsible for Aiko’s death. Which is easier said than done when your enemy can turn into fog. As the pair struggle to come up with a plan, Dracula appears. Xander is trotting behind with his luggage.
Dracula: I’m assuming you’ve considered using Carolina’s grasp… I mean, you’re not complete idiots, are you?
Neither Buffy nor Willow know what he’s referring to. I love Buff’s reply, “Who’s grasping Carolina’s what now?” It’s just a classic Buffy response. Dracula explains that it is a rudimentary containment spell. He also offends Willow by asking the Slayer if she still has a witch in her employ.
Willow: I’m standing right here.
Dracula: Ah yes. I should have recognized your acrid stench.
He offers to teach them the incantation, once someone has installed his coffin in the master bedroom. He then, rather insensitively, points to Aiko’s body and asks, “Is somebody going to finish eating this?”
Meanwhile, our super-vamps continue to hatch their evil plan to rob the Slayer’s of their power. Raidon and Toru discuss countermeasures and their robotics division on the top floor of a swanky apartment tower. They have set up a large red mystical lens on the roof of the building.
In another part of Tokyo, Renee is playing bait. She’s running through an alley dressed like a schoolgirl. She approaches a man smoking a cigarette and begs for help. She pretends to be lost and he offers his assistance. He suggests they take a shortcut through a nearby park. It isn’t long before he goes all vamp face, but Buffy and crew are at the ready. As soon as he bears his fangs, they pounce. Willow casts the spell Dracula taught her and traps the vampire in a mystical cage. Buffy begins to interrogate.
Buffy: So. Here’s the problem we keep having… Every time we try to fight one of you guys, you turn into air… and it’s really hard to hurt air. At least until you remember… air burns.
Willow begins pouring gasoline on the vamp. Buffy asks him to tell her everything he knows, starting with where her Scythe is. He tells her that Toru’s got it and that he’s holed up in the Ashikaga building Downtown. When she asks what he wants with it, he explains that he’s planning on reversing Buffy’s spell. He wants to take away their power, making all the Slayers human again. Willow asks how this is possible? He explains that they have a witch named Kumiko. She can perform the incantation and use the lens on top of the building to amplify the spell. The lens will be ready by dawn. The vamp begs to be released, claiming he’s told them everything he knows. Buffy clicks a lighter and sets him ablaze. “I never agreed to that.” She says, walking away, ready for war.
When they arrive back at the Tokyo’s Slayer HQ, Buffy and Satsu enter a heated debate. Buffy has ordered Satsu to sit this one out. She wants her to take care of the girls that are too shook up by Aiko’s death to enter battle.
Buffy: I need you to stay here and look after them. And I need you to help them bury Aiko.
Satsu: You want me to stand down. You said I’m your best fighter…
Satsu is not convinced Buffy’s motivations are as she says.
Satsu: You’re either leaving me behind to avoid me or protect me. I don’t know if I should be hurt or touched, but either way… I’m not following your orders. Not this time. I’ll see you on the battlefield. Ma’am.
Satsu marches off, leaving Buffy alone to ponder.
Buffy: I can’t believe I find it sexy when she calls me “Ma’am.”
Inside, Xander and Renee are gearing up for battle. Xander is explaining to Renee why he finds first dates so awkward. He suggests that they count tonight as their first date, so, their real first date will be their second date and therefor more relaxing for everyone involved.
Renee: Okay, so, just to be clear… when people ask what we did on our first date, you want me to tell them we… dressed me up like a schoolgirl. Used me as bait on the streets of Japan. Lit a vampire on fire. Then, geared up to go into battle with several hundred other girls… and Dracula.
Renee tells him that they absolutely cannot count this as their first date. However, she does offer to make their first date less awkward. She kisses him. “Now you don’t have to worry about what happens at the end.” She says. Dracula interrupts, reminding them that they must go to war now.
As Buffy and her squad zone in on Toru and his gang, their odds aren’t looking great. There are thousands of vamps surrounding the apartment building. Buffy has girls in position all around the perimeter. But these are no ordinary vamps. They can’t fight something that can turn into fog.
Buffy: Right now, our only mission is to get into that building and retrieve the Scythe. All we need is a really big distraction so we can slip in the back door…
Luckily, Willow has just the trick. She teleports giant Dawn to Tokyo.
Dawn: Hi. Or, I mean… ROAR?
Dawn crashes through the city distracting the army of vamps. The coast is clear and Buffy and the crew sneak in the back entrance. When inside, Buffy approaches Toru. She tries grabbing the Scythe, but her hand goes right through it. He’s nothing but a projection. Before Buffy can even alert the others, the real Toru appears behind Renee. He pierces her with the Scythe, lifting her into the air. Blood Splatters from her chest.
To be continued…
The Watchers Files
Wolves at the Gate, Part 2 was written by Drew Goddard and features artwork by Georges Jeanty and Jo Chen.
This issue was hardcore. Definitely the goriest to date. I really didn’t expect Renee to die. I was convinced, as I’m sure many were, that they were setting her up to be Xander’s new love interest in the comics. Their first date debate was so cute, and they finally had their first kiss. But just as I was starting to like her, splat! I swear, a demon must have jinxed Xander at some point. Ladies, beware! More on that topic below in the Trivia.
In rereading and reviewing Wolves at the Gate, I’ve realised I like it a lot more than I’d originally thought. I just have a couple of issues with its conclusion, which must have clouded my judgement. More on that next week.
It was a great issue. The stakes were high. The threat was real.
I loved Buffy’s little tug war with Satsu. There were some subtle little scenes and interactions between characters that felt so true to the show.
It was fast paced and action packed, but it still had humour, heart and an emotional weight to it. All the components that make a great Buffy story.
Xander Harris: Ladies Man or Ladies Curse?
“What happened? What do you think happened? Another demon woman was attracted to me. I’ve decided I’m turning gay. Willow, gay me up. Come on, let’s gay. What? You heard me. Just tell me what to do. I’m mentally undressing Scott Bakula right now. That’s a start isn’t it? Captain Archer. Let’s get this gay show on the road.” – Xander Harris, Season 7, Episode 14, First Date
Poor old Xander hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to the ladies. From unrequited love to demons and death, it’s been a bumpy ride. Renee is just the latest in a long line of women that met a fatal end after canoodling with Mr Harris. Here’s a chronological look at Mr Harris’s most tragic romantic endeavours.
1. Love Bug
Wasn’t it so ro-mantis? When Xander gets hot for teacher, she’s the one who bites off more than she can chew. When sultry substitute, Natalie French, walks down the halls of Sunnydale high, the boys lose their heads. In some cases, literally. Turns out this maneater is a giant-demon-praying-mantis with an appetite for virgins, and Xander Harris is on the menu. Luckily for him, Buffy shows up in the nick of time and teaches this teacher who’s boss. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time Xander falls for a demon.
2. From Slayer Unrequited to Slayer Interrupted
Demons aren’t Xander’s only weakness. He also has a thing for Slayers. At the end of their first school year together, he finally professes his feelings for Buffy. He asks her to the school dance. Awkwardly, Buffy’s feelings for him are strictly plutonic and she declines. But on the bright side they went on to become besties and neither of them died. So, kudos. Buffy wasn’t the only Slayer to catch Xander’s eye prior to Renee. Let’s not forget his dangerous little tango with Faith.
3. Inca Mummy Girl
When foreign exchange student, Ampata Gutierrez, arrives at Sunnydale High, Xander is quick to volunteer as her guide. Why not? She ticks all his boxes… She’s pretty, exotic, intelligent, and a murderous psychotic demon. It’s a match made in Sunnydale. Luckily for Harris, Buffy’s here to bail him out, yet again. She puts this mummy back in her tomb. I’m sensing a pattern forming.
4. All Hail Queen C
It seemed like Xander’s luck had changed, when he finally won the heart of the most popular girl at school, Cordelia Chase. But it wasn’t to be, and Demonic forces weren’t to blame in this instance. Perhaps, for Xander, the grass was always greener. Because just when it seemed he had it all, he developed feelings for long time bestie, Willow Rosenberg. The pair began a secret affair behind Oz and Cordelia’s backs. But in Sunnydale, much like the dead, secrets don’t stay buried for long. In the end, he lost both beauties. Oz eventually forgave Willow and Cordelia moved to LA and teamed up with our heartthrob hero, Angel. She also went on to become part demon and ultimately die. Was she a victim of the Xander curse?
5. Hell Hath No Fury Like a Vengeance Demon Scorned
There’s no doubt that, Anya Christina Emmanuelle Jenkins, was the leading lady in Xander’s life. Their relationship seemed a sure thing. This ex-vengeance demon stole his heart and ours along with it. It seemed like they could make it through anything. Together, they overcame demonic pasts, syphilis, retro musical numbers, apocalypse after apocalypse… but unfortunately, the one thing they never made it through, was their wedding vows. On the day of their wedding, a demon played on Xander’s insecurities by showing him nightmarish visions of their future marriage. Even though the visions were proven to be false, it was enough to give him cold feet. Fearing his relationship would meet the same fate as his bitter bickering parents, he left poor Anya at the altar. The couple never quite recovered. Anya became a vengeance demon, and then an ex-vengeance demon once more. In the end, she died honourably, fighting alongside the scoobies.
6. Never Bleed a Boy Over a Portal to Hell on the First Date
While attending a tool demonstration, Xander scored a date with a beautiful girl named, Lissa. We all smelled trouble, and rightly so. Before he knew it, he was tied up in the school basement, bleeding over the seal of a hellmouth. Turned out the lovely Lissa, was just another demon aligned with the First. By now, you know the drill. As with all of Xander’s demon dates, Buffy is there to assist and decapitate.
And there you have it, folks. That just about brings us up to date. Looking at his track record, did Renee and Xander ever really stand a chance?
Two Humans, three Slayers and four and a half demons later, he’s still unlucky in love. The only ones less fortunate are the ladies in his life. Six out of the nine mentioned here are now deceased. What do you think…
is the Xander Curse real?
Buffy Speak of the Week
Willow: If Giles was here, he’d say “precisely” and then rub his glasses on his shirt.
And that’s precisely why we love him so. The scoobies without Giles is like the Spice Girls without Geri. It just isn’t the same.
Slayer Rating: 4/5 Stakes