BTVS Season 8 #21: Harmonic Divergence

“I have a television show! I have a camera crew! I have a storyline! The numbers are soft, but I think we can turn it around. We’re going to put more money into promotions. I’m going to be in PEOPLE! They even give me billboards. Old media sucks but so do I L.O.L.” – Harmony Kendall

Synopsis

This issue opens with a blast from the past… Harmony Kendall returns! And she’s bigger, badder and blonder than ever! After getting rejected at the entrance of a swanky night club, Harmony makes front page news by killing Z-list celeb, Andy Dick. The paparazzi capture the whole thing and pictures of the fame-hungry vamp chomping down do the rounds on social media. The world is now woke to the existence of the supernatural. A sleezy headline reads, HOT VAMP GETS TASTE OF A. DICK.

Harmony: T.M.Z. picks it up, and E.T. has it, too. Everyone’s curious about us vamps these days. I think I fingered a zeitgeist.

Not missing a beat, Harmony strikes while the iron is hot. She meets with an agent and lands her own MTV reality show, Harmony Bites. Naturally, Buffy and Willow are stunned when they see Harmony on the cover of a magazine, which reads, SEXIEST GIRL (NOT) ALIVE.

Buffy: What the hell?

Willow: She’s no Tina Fey.

Elsewhere, a potential Slayer, Soledad, is trying to fight her way out of a female street gang named, Las Tuchillas. She’s heavily outnumbered. But just as the gang close in on her, the potential Slayer is activated. Imbued with her newfound Slayer strength, she overpowers them with ease. She’s finally free, but having left all she’s ever known behind, she wanders the streets aimlessly. Coincidentally, she comes across Andrew and Vi’s Slayer recruitment commercial in a store window.

Soledad: I feel totally free. But I figure it won’t last. If I know anything about good luck, it’s that someone always shows up to take it away. I’m not gonna go find them. If they want me, they have to find me.

A week later, Andrew approaches her on a park bench and asks if they can talk about her destiny. They talk about vampires and Andrews words resonate with her.

Andrew: They are without conscience! No sense of empathy, no connection to the sorrows of others! Undead soulless creatures of the dark! They take advantage of the weak ones… people without protectors, people who turn toward power because they have none, and then find themselves victimized by it.

Soledad: I’m in. Where are they and how bad can I kill ‘em?

Andrew calls Buffy and hands the phone to Soledad. Buffy gives her the whole Slayer army pitch… Togetherness, unity, sisterhood, yada-yada. But having just left one squad of women with a similar company line, she passes.

Soledad: I understand those words. I’ve heard ‘em before. I’ll slay the hell out of vampires. But I ain’t joining no other bunch of girls. I’m doing this alone. I don’t even like the membership card I still got.

The membership card she’s referring to is a tattoo on her arm. It’s the crest of her old gang. She visits a tattoo parlour, and has it covered up with roses. As she admires her new ink, Harmony and Clem walk in with their reality show camera crew. As Harmony peruses the walls for inspiration, a member of the crew invites Soledad to a party later. They are shooting at a rented house up in the Hills and they need hot extras for a party scene.

Later that evening, Soledad arrives at the party. There’s security working the entrance, they remove a footlong stake from her bag before she enters. The producers prep the crowd before Harmony’s big entrance. They blast some music and the extras start dancing. As Harmony emerges at the top of a large staircase, Soledad grabs the director’s clapboard. She breaks it in half and charges towards the vapid vampire queen. Harmony drops her tiny dog and Soledad knocks her to the ground. The pair get into a scuffle and Harmony comes out on top. Soledad pounces on Harmony, landing on her own homemade stake and Harmony drains her on live TV. The world watches in disbelief. Ratings go through the roof. The scooby gang recoil at the implications. Since Soledad attacked Harmony, the world perceives the Slayers as the real threat.

Anderson Cooper: Slayers. What is this shadowy organization? We’ve done some digging. They say they’re our protectors, as fighters in some grand battle against “evil.” But who decides what is evil? And, some are asking, who protects us from them? Keeping us honest tonight, our guest, television personality Harmony Kendall.

Harmony interrupts Anderson Cooper, holding a tiny dog in a white hat.

Harmony: You promised to introduce…

Anderson Cooper: And her dog, Queen Puffles of Pomerania.

The scoobies are worried, it would appear as though the world doesn’t know that they are the good guys.

The End

The Watchers Files

Harmonic Divergence was written by Jane Espenson and features artwork by Georges Jeanty and Jo Chen.

I was absolutely delighted to see Jane Espenson’s name credited on this issue. She wrote some of my fave non-Whedon episodes on the show. She’s a smart, passionate, lovely lady and an amazing writer. She also went on to write some fantastic issues throughout the next couple of comic seasons.

The reaction to Harmony within the fandom is mixed. Personally, I find her hilarious. I love every Harmony-centric episode in both Buffy and Angel. Mercedes McNab is a seriously underrated comedic acctress, her timing is impeccable. I was so glad when she appeared in the comics and pairing her with Clem was genius.

Harmony killing Andy Dick was gold LOL.

I actually found this issue a little jarring upon my first reading. On the surface, it’s a light and fluffy one-shot. Yet, it has major implications on the mythos of the series. Until now, Buffy and the gang have managed to keep the vampires, demons and the forces of darkness out of the public eye. At least outside of Sunnydale. Harmony catapulting the existence of the supernatural into the media was a huge WTF moment. She essentially changed everything… Harmony… WTF!

This is the first of five one-shots which compile the fifth Volume of Season 8, Predators and Prey. They are wacky, original and experimental issues, which usher the Buffyverse into a new era. So, buckle up, because things about to get even weirder.

Trivia

The Harms of Typecasting

Harmony Kendall was played by Mercedes McNab. Most of us recognised this actress from The Addams Family Values, in which she portrayed another vapid character, Amanda Buckman. Amanda could have literally been Harmony as a child. Mercedes also went on to play a vampire in another popular horror TV series, Supernatural. She appeared in Fresh Blood, episode seven of the cult shows fourth season. Supernatural is well worth checking out, not only does it feature demons and vampires, it also has many Buffyverse alumni pop up over the course of its impressive 15 seasons.

Buffy Speak of the Week

In true Espenson fashion, this issue was crammed with funnies. But Harmony reacting to the image of her feeding on Andy Dicks lifeless corpse has to take the win.

Harmony: Here’s the thing about fame. It’s good to touch. I’m gonna touch some fame. Check out how hot I look! Sleep eyes. Very Paris. Tousled hair. Over the S.V.F.* exotic. (We think S.V.F. means “Sexy Vampire Forehead” – Editors.) Bloodstained and also plump lips. Cut that guy out of the thing and it’s my best darn headshot I ever had!

Slayer Rating: 4.5 Stakes

©2017 by Daniel Devenney.