BTVS Season 8 #16: Time of Your Life, Part 1

“Bad day. Started out bad, stayed that way. Starting with, not chronologically, but in order of immediate importance… who the hell is this person?” – Buffy Summers


This issue kicks things off with some high-altitude Slayer on Slayer ass-kicking. Buffy and Fray are locked in combat. They are freefalling through skyscrapers and flying cars in the futuristic Haddyn. Buffy has no idea why or how she got there. The story jumps back to an earlier time-point and begins to fill in the gaps.

While Dawn yells out in pain in the forestry attached to the castle grounds, the Scoobies munch down on some Scottish takeout. They are discussing the vision Willow had while mind melding with Kumiko in the previous issue. Willow implies someone was using Kumiko to send her a message. Buffy questions whether that someone might be the sultry snake demon, Aluwyn. Willow unconvincingly denies this allegation, even though we know this to be true. She quickly tries to redirect the conversation.

Willow: The fact is, Buffy’s Scythe is the power source of our entire Slayer army. My contact – who shall remain name-and-snake-body-less – told me it would be found in New York.

But Buffy clarifies that they already have the Scythe. How can they find what’s already been found? Willow says that the message was sent for a reason. They need to figure out what it means before they get attacked again. She doesn’t want to lose anyone else. Xander senses that his fellow Scoobies are tiptoeing around the topic of Renee’s death. He assures them that he is dealing.

Xander: Guys. I appreciate the eggshells, But… Renee’s dead. I’m dealing with it. By myself. I’m not being a guy; I’ll ask for help if I need it, but we can’t turn war councils into awkward pausathons because I lost someone close. We have to stay focused. So… I need to know everything about the demon lover with the snake body and don’t shield me from anything deviant or… I don’t want to say kinky—

Before Xander can finish his sentence or Willow can reply, Leah bursts in. She alerts them that Dawn needs their immediate attention. The Scoobies rush to the castle forestry and are confronted with… Wait for it… Centaur Dawn.

Dawn: Neigh.

Meanwhile, Twilight has hooked up with Amy and Warren. They are examining a large magically enhanced nuke they’ve built. Twilight surmises that it shall do. Warren is offended by his underwhelming response and insist that this baby is going to bring the noise.

At Slayer HQ, Xander and Willow are standing next to a helicopter. Buffy is speaking to a mystery caller on the phone. “Good. You’ll let me know where?” She says. Xander tells her to hurry up. Buffy apologizes for leaving Xander to deal with Dawn’s new magical predicament. She and Willow board the helicopter and fly to NYC. During their flight, Buffy asks Willow if she has a timeframe for this upcoming mystical event thingie. Willow guesses Midnight. “I’m a witch. We like midnight.” She says. Buffy tells Willow that she’s gonna need to take a couple hours for a meeting in New York. When they arrive, they are greeted at the airport by Kennedy. Willow and Kennedy share an embrace while Buffy lugs around armfuls of luggage. It looks like she’s over-packed.

Willow: Buffy had an outfit crisis. We should have seen the warning signs.

Buffy: Well I’ve never been to New York – I Want to look… New Yorky… and there could be weather.

Kennedy reassures Buffy, stating that she doesn’t go to Denny’s without packing three bags. “Sad but true but also cute.” Willow says. During a limo ride we learn that Vi is head of the Manhattan Slayer Squad. When they reach this branch’s Slayer HQ, Vi gives them a briefing.

Vi: We’ve got mystical turf wars raging in almost every section of the city – and that’s just Manhattan. There’s dark Mages gathering in Tribeca, Harlem is overflowing with Fyarls, and there’s a blood war in the financial district, which is actually status quo. Oh, and an angry spirit is attacking the cast of Xanadu, don’t ask me why. All of which means that tracing the mystical signature Willow sent our wiccan squad has been… a little tricky. We think – operative word “Think” – it’s coming from this high-rise on 53rd and Lex. But it seems to be coming and going.

Willow says that the mystical signatures movement and instability makes sense. She begins drawing a diagram on a whiteboard to help explain. She deduces that the event is a temporal anomaly, meaning it affects the timestream. It’s like a pebble thrown in a pond. It creates ripples.

Back in Scotland, Xander tries to comfort Dawn by telling her how awesome she looks. (See Buffy Speak of the Week) He’s unsuccessful and Dawn gallops off. On his way back to HQ, he witnesses the missile Warren and Amy built strike the castle.

In New York, Willow and the crew (minus Buffy) have reached their desired destination on the high-rise on 53rd. As Willow performs an incantation, Kennedy questions the identity of her source and what’s supposed to happen here. Willow begins to talk about temporal rifts, Kennedy cuts her off, “Yeah, I saw the diagram.” She says.

Willow: Oh, right. So, the event is in the future. But every time those ripples swell, anomalies can occur. Something may be coming through to us. Hopefully something helpful.

Kennedy: It’s about the Scythe.

Buffy appears with her Scythe, she’s back from her meeting and wearing a short dress and boots. Kennedy says that she feels underdressed. Buffy remains cryptic, she explains that she’s undercover and wasn’t expecting to make with the fighty. She offers to change, but before the gang can respond, Buffy vanishes into thin air. She’s replaced by a ferocious looking green demon.

Buffy has somehow been teleported into the future. She has taken the place of the demon. It just so happens that Fray was busy pummelling said demon. She punches Buffy in the face knocking her to the ground. She thinks the demon is trying to trick her by shapeshifting into a past Slayer.

Fray: This is toy! You think you can spin me with a half-coi glam of a Slayer been dust more than two cen? You’re lower than a Lurk.

Buffy: Uh… English?

To be continued…

The Watchers Files

Time of Your Life was written by Joss Whedon and features artwork by Karl Moline and Jo Chen.

I was glad Moline returned for the Fray crossover. He’s inked every issue Fray has ever appeared in. He did an amazing job of bringing this character and her world to life.

This story arc was a real treat for Fray fans. Given that Fray was set 200 years in the future, I never contemplated a crossover being a remote possibility. I should have known better. Where there’s a Whedon, there’s a way.

I love Melaka. I always felt that there was more story left to tell with that character. So, I was majorly psyched when she finally resurfaced in Season 8.

This crossover gave me serious Kendra vibes. The side by side cover shot of the two Slayers for Time of Your Life, Part 4, was no mistake. It was clearly an homage to the iconic photo-shoot featuring Buffy and Kendra. This issue also ended a lot like Kendra’s introductory episode, What’s My Line, Part 1, as Buffy gets her butt kicked by a new Slayer mistaking her for a threat.

Buffy’s excitement about her first trip to New York was adorable. I also loved her Season-One-Esque outfit at the end.

I prefer Centaur Dawn to Giant Dawn. I found her story arc absurd during my first reading, but I appreciate a lot of the larger than life aspects of Season 8 more during rereads. The writing was definitely stronger during this Season of the Dark Horse Comic’s run, even if the story was a little OTT at times.

This was an exciting first instalment to this incredible story arc. It was debatably the best cliff-hanger in the comic series to date at this point.


Slayer Syntax

“Buffy blames herself for what’s happened to the English language, and there’s a lot of hubris in that joke. I like to think that adding Y’s to words that don’t usually have Y’s is going to destroy the whole fabric of our society.” – Joss Whedon

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has had an undeniable impact on pop culture. In many ways, it helped pioneer the template for many of the genre TV shows we know and love today. One of the reasons for this, was Whedon’s distinctive use of language. I can often place a fellow Whedonite from their diction alone. There’s a certain whimsy and zing in Whedon’s dialogue that is simply unmistakable. It’s intelligent and profound without being pretentious. He’s had an irrefutable influence on my own speech and writing.

The world of Fray took this one step further. It seized abbreviation and brought it to another level. Here’s a quick glossary of some key phrases and terminology from Haddyn.

Haddyn – Manhattan

Lurk – Vampire

Radies – Mutants created by the sun’s radiation

Runner – Hired thief

Uppers – Inhabitants of the upper east side

Toy – Fake, lame, bullshit

Spin – Lie, deceive

Grab – Heist

Celled – Imprisoned

Nessa – Necessary

‘Fore – Before

‘Merican – American

Cen – Century

Buffy Speak of the Week

Hey, look everyone… Dawn made a funny! The poor Dawnster has had a rough ride this Season.

Dawn: Great. Three magic enchantments wherein my ass is huge.

Xander: Are you kidding? Dawn… you really don’t know how awesome you look? You’re a frickin’ Centaur! Majestic creature of legend! I’m actually jealous.

Dawn: I sleep standing up. I pee a crazy amount of pee. I want hay – I actually want to eat hay. I don’t feel like a majestic creature of legend. I feel like a freak.

Slayer Rating: 4/5 Stakes