©2017 by Daniel Devenney.

BTVS Season 8 #15: Wolves at the Gate, Part 4

Thursday, September 12, 2019

 

“Scales are balanced again, girls! They’re vampires. We’re vampire slayers. Time to do what we do.” – Buffy Summers

 

Synopsis

 

This issue opens with Renee’s final thoughts as she slides off the pointy end of the scythe and falls to her death.

 

Renee: I hope he knows. I never got to tell him. Xander I’m not ready. I’m so scared.

 

Xander runs to her side and holds her as she bleeds out on the ground. Buffy tells the other slayers to close ranks around Xander as they fight for their lives. Dracula tells Buffy to get Willow. He claims he can stop the army of vamps, but he needs the witch. Buffy protests initially. She doesn’t want to leave Xander alone. Dracula assures her that he’s not alone as he tears through the attacking vamps. Buffy leaves Satsu in command as she hurries off to retrieve Willow.

 

Willow is a little preoccupied. She’s busy fighting Kumiko. The pair are locked in a magical showdown. Buffy watches from the rooftop as they fly between skyscrapers, throwing incantations at each other. It’s revealed that Willow and Kumiko have been trained by the same mentor, the snake Goddess, Saga Vasuki (Also known as Aluwyn.)  Willow grabs Kumiko’s face and she has a vision of the snake Goddess, a city is burns behind her.

 

Aluwyn: Darling Willow. Did you think I could not find you? Did you think you could hide from what you are? Or what’s to come?

 

The vision appears to have knocked Willow unconscious. Kumiko is choking her. “It’s just like a diving board.” Buffy tells herself, before leaping from the building and staking Kumiko mid-air. Willow is still out of it and the pair hurtle towards the ground. “Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.” Buffy yells. Luckily, Willow snaps out of it just in time. She uses her magic to turn the sidewalk into water, breaking their fall.

 

Meanwhile, giant Dawn and the other slayers are fighting off the army of vamps as they continue to transform into smoke and panthers. It appears they are making progress. Dawn orders them to head for the building containing the slayer draining lens. But before they can move, Dawn is punched in the face by Mecha Dawn, a giant robot version of herself with a tail.

 

Without Kumiko, Toru begins to perform the incantation to deactivate the slayers. Dracula and a bunch of slayers burst onto the scene just in time. Dracula tackles Toru to the ground and orders Satsu to grab the Scythe as it flies out of his hands. They can’t perform the spell without the scythe. Satsu jumps off the roof of the building and catches the scythe. Buffy and Willow see her falling. Willow flies to her rescue. She levitates Buffy and Satsu back to the rooftop to fight Toru. However, Buffy can’t stake him. He still has the ability to turn to fog. Dracula calls for Willow’s help. He hands willow his sword and tells her how to negate the vampire’s abilities.

 

Dracula: Take my sword. It’s one of the ancient relics. Bound with demon spirit – like your scythe. Angle a reverse incantation of Augustine’s curse through the portal.

 

Willow flies to the portal and performs the spell.  It is successful and the scales are balanced. The vamps have lost their extra abilities and Buffy and the crew can finally take them out.

 

Dawn is still busy fighting her mecha counterpart. As the pair crash through buildings, Andrew offers his expertise.

 

Andrew: Okay, Dawnie, listen to me very carefully. Most mecha creatures are susceptible to forced detachment of the control center. As long as it doesn’t have a backup brain in its neck, you should be able to defeat it through simple decapitation.

 

Dawn is enraged as the robot imitates her. “My name is Dawn. I am a teenage girl. I like irony and blue jeans. I cry a lot. I often let boys take advantage of my weak emotional states.” It taunts. Dawn finally has enough and rips it’s head off.

 

Raidon attempts to bite Buffy, but Satsu stakes him. Willow tries to throw Dracula his sword, Toru catches it instead.

 

Toru: Just like an old man. He needs his cane to stand. He doesn’t know what to do with himself now that he’s an ordinary vampire again. Like the rest of us.

 

Dracula: My boy… I was never an ordinary vampire. Or did you forget who I used to be? I’ve killed more men than God’s plagues combined. And that was before I started eating people for fun.

 

Dracula cuts off Toru’s hands and feet. Toru begs for death. But Dracula tells him that it’s not his place to kill him. He hands his sword to Xander. He quickly decapitates him. Buffy orders her army to finish off the remaining vampires. She tells them to kill every single one of them, while she comforts Xander.

 

Later, Xander sits on a bench outside the Tokyo HQ. He’s holding Renee’s ashes. Dracula appears behind him. He offers to help with the ceremony before he leaves. Xander declines. He tells him he’d like to do it by himself.

 

Dracula: Very well. Goodbye, Manservant.

 

Xander: Hey, Dracula… If you call me “Manservant” again… I’ll kill you in your sleep.

 

It appears Dracula has lost his thrall..

 

Inside, Buffy and Satsu finally have time to talk about what happened between them. Satsu tells Buffy that she can’t be around her right now. She needs space to work through her feelings.

 

Satsu: I’m in love with you. And I need to not be. And that’s never gonna happen when you’re right in front of me.

 

Satsu decides that it would be best if she stays in Japan. She asks Buffy for a promotion. She wants to lead the Tokyo branch. Buffy tells her that it will be a lot of work. But she knows she’s up to the job. Buffy is worried that she hurt her. But Satsu tells her that what they shared was one of the best nights of her life. Buffy Agrees.

 

Buffy: What do we do now? Say goodbye? Go our separate ways and such?

 

Satsu: Well, I suppose we could always save goodbye for tomorrow…

 

The issue ends with Dracula sailing home, Willow summoning Aluwyn, Buffy and Satsu sleeping with each other one last time, and Xander scattering Renee’s ashes.

 

 

The Watchers Files

 

Wolves at the Gate, Part 4 was written by Drew Goddard and features artwork by Georges Jeanty, Jo Chen and Jon Foster.

 

As I’ve said before, Wolves at the Gate was a mixed kettle of fish for me. I loved parts 1 and 3. But I felt parts 2 and 4 hit a few bum notes.

 

I adored the Buffy and Satsu storyline. It was one of my highlights of the entire season. It felt honest and was handled beautifully.

 

I forgot how many great moments this story arc had. Because, all I remembered was… Mecha Dawn. This really brought the tone down for me. I found myself asking, am I supposed to take these comics seriously? They are considered canon, after all. Part 3 was intense. Xander lost Renee. It was building towards this epic battle. But what we got, felt more like a farce. How and why did the Japanese vamp gang build a Giant robotic Dawn with a tail? How did it know how to imitate her? Had they been spying on Dawn from the start?

 

Two Slayers just died in the previous issue. I simply expected the conclusion to have a little more weight to it. It’s a shame. The dialogue was on point. If the conclusion had taken itself a little more seriously, it may have even been one of my favourite volumes of Season 8.

 

Joss acknowledged that without the monetary confinements they had making the TV show, they went a little OTT this season. This is a perfect example of that. Thankfully, the settings and storylines in future seasons felt truer to the show.

 

Trivia

 

The Comeback King

 

 

 

"You think I don't watch your movies? You always come back." - Buffy Summers, Buffy Vs Dracula (Season 5, Episode 1.) 

 

 

You’d be forgiven for mistaking the picture above for a still from Buffy Vs Dracula. Interestingly, Rudolf Martin played the famous vampire again that same year in the televised movie, Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula. It aired a month after the Buffy episode. The film focuses on the real-life inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. It was released in October of 2000 and was met with mixed reviews from critics and viewers. Funnily, Martin’s depiction of the character is very similar in both, he looks and sounds like he did in Buffy. 

 

Buffy Speak of the Week

 

There was a lot of killer dialogue in this issue to choose from. But this exchange between Buffy and Willow regarding Buffy’s recent sexual experimentation, was priceless. Did anyone else feel like Willow protested a little too much?

 

Willow: And just so you know… I never wanted to sleep with you either.

 

Buffy: What are you talking about?

 

Willow: I’m sayin’—it’s a good thing you didn’t try your little experiment on me. ‘Cause it wouldn’t have worked, Summers. You’re not even on my list.

 

Buffy: What list? There’s a list?

 

Willow: Yep. And you’re not on it. Not my type.

 

Buffy: Oh yeah? Well, then, you’re not on my list either!

 

Willow: Good. I don’t want to be.

 

Buffy: Sure you do. It’s a very distinguished list. It has people like… um… Judi Dench and Eleanor Roosevelt on it.

 

Willow: Ew. Just got the visual.

 

Buffy: And other people too. Those are just examples. Off the top of my head.

 

Slayer Rating: 3/5 Stakes

 

 

 

 

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