“Last Gleaming” (part 2)
Okay, before I get into the review, let me stress that I think of the Bullet scoring system as a range, not a single unit. This issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is superior than the last, light years better than “Twilight” but less involving than “No Future for You” and the huge body of excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer work from Joss Whedon and company. So, this issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer earns a low four.
What this issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer does is foreshadow the answer to one of the biggest questions Joss Whedon raised: Is the future seen in Fray a certainty or a probability?
Melaka Fray’s universe is different than what one imagines to be Buffy’s future. Fray’s Earth is filled with lurks (vampires) and demons, but there is only she, the Chosen One, to fight the good fight. What happened to all the other Slayers? What happened to Buffy’s superb cheat against the First Evil?
I predicted that Fray’s future world exists in an alternate timeline. The Dark Willow in Fray’s realm was attempting to prevent another timeline from succumbing to the same fate as her world. Aluwyn the Lamia, who is hopelessly in love with Willow in my estimation, also interfered through a sly calculation. She told Willow not to look into the future. Our Willow never saw Dark Willow, a potential but not definite future incarnation. I suspect Dark Willow is a result of an alternate Willow seeing the future and giving into perceived inevitability.
In the Buffyverse, events need not follow a predetermined course. In the television series, Buffy continuously defies prophecy and destiny. According to prophecy, The Master kills Buffy in the first season. Xander Harris, however, uses CPR to bring her back to life in the second season. Buffy’s death results in a second Slayer operating concurrently, thus conflicting against the Chosen One. In the fifth season, Buffy prevents Dawn’s sacrifice by using her own life to close the gates heralding Ragnarok. Then, in season seven, Buffy stops the end of the world cold through one of the finest tactics ever conceived.
That is why an army of Slayers backs up Buffy in her crusade. What however happened to that army in Fray? If these Slayers died, others would still be called and in force, but Melaka Fray was clearly a special case. The line of Slayers was broken at some point in Fray’s timeline. Is this the point of schism?
The demons that evolved from the Twilight universe want to pop the cork and break down the walls separating the multiverse so all the Big Bads can pay last respects to the Earth. Buffy and the Scoobies are out to stop that from happening, but in this case, execution is everything.
Aluwyn returns this issue, and she describes a universe very much like Fray’s universe as a possible outcome. Remove the seed, and you bring about chaos. Destroy the seed, and all the magic goes away. So the witches will become powerless and every magical crossroad will be closed. Only the vampires, demons, and Slayers already called will survive the magical apocalypse.
While some will argue that the best scene is when Buffy wails on the Master with her beefed up superpowers or when Angel goes medieval on some of the Twilight demons’ collective asses or when Buffy conceives a tasteful yet energetic sex fantasy involving Spike, I must respectfully disagree. All these scenes are beautifully illustrated and written, but the pivotal moment occurs when Aluwyn comes back on stage and underscores the big question. The art in this moment also blows everything else out of the water.
Aluwyn is in danger of losing Willow forever and that shows in her expression. She’s in pain, and you really feel for this surprisingly innocent, traditionally evil creature. She’s also willing to lose Willow rather than see her die or suffer. This pure love felt in her words, seen in her gesture transforms Aluwyn into a heroic, yet tragic figure. You get the impression that Fray’s future isn’t just a probability. It’s a high probability. Perhaps the highest probable outcome–which might explain how it can exist. Maybe the greater probability creates a kind of magical stability.
For the first time, since “Twilight” began, I feel that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is building up to something tremendous, and this time I don’t believe Dark Horse and Joss Whedon will pull a Monarch. To be fair, Whedon may have always intended Twilight to be Angel, but that decision is pretty damn close to the Monarch debacle, and I don’t think it was necessary. He could have beefed up Angel without the annoying, superfluous pretense of villainy. The new universe didn’t need to be bonked into existence. It could have come into being through another means. I’ve been really searching for a point where “Twilight” was necessary and I haven’t yet found it. That’s why Buffy the Vampire Slayer is only still earning my trust.