Willow's back to being a self centered jerk like I'm used to but the family dynamic just keeps getting stronger and stronger and the interview went smashingly well .
The family really is getting super strong, and for Willow, that's kind of an issue. She's used to being the gatekeeper between Tara and the Scoobies, used to them not being "their" friends, but "her friends. Now, Tara's gotten so close to them (Buffy specifically) that their positions have nearly reversed. Willow doesn't handle change very well in general, and there's been a seemingly endless amount of in recent months. It's a bit too much for her, especially considering she hasn't been told the reasons behind it.
I'm just as surprised as Dawn. What no fight? Well good? Yay that's good! Feel a little bad for Tara and her phone call with Willow could definitely see Willow's feeling being hurt. And Buffy's. It almost seemed like her two Watcher's didn't want her.
Willow's not-so-subtle assumption that Tara's life has been totally on hold while she's been away is frustrating. As Dawn pointed out, however, Willow doesn't know the true context of Tara's life, of her real reasons for living at the Summers house, of the tight working bond that has facilitated the friendships within the house.
But that lack of information still doesn't justify assuming nothing in Tara's life has changed at all. Willow was just in town last month. She saw the closeness between the travelers. She even commented on Tara acting like a full-fledged Scooby. She may not know the full story, but she's choosing to ignore what she DID see, in the hope that everything will be just as it was... with Tara's life basically revolving around her own.
Re the watcher catfight: It seemed that way to Buffy, at least on an emotional level. Intellectually, I think she understands what that fight was really about. Each watcher thinks the other is Buffy's true guardian in the slayer/watcher sense, and want the "magic gourd hokey pokey" ritual to work, for her sake. But the comparison to her parents' divorce wasn't just a joke. The argument was unsettlingly familiar for her emotionally, likely bringing forth old feelings of vulnerability and helplessness, feelings she's notorious for not handling well.
But Anya came to her rescue with distraction ideas, and Spike (off screen) showed he understood her child-like urge to run away by not even trying to talk her into coming home instead. He only made her promise to come home when she got the "run away" urge out of her system. We should all have an Anya and a Spike in our lives, encouraging us to escape from the things that trouble us/bring up bad memories for a few hours, long enough to get our heads on straight.
From a pair of comments here, it seems like the Slayer demon gives Buffy fangs, nice. The meeting with Mrs Kroger went well, but of course, this situation is a lot better then in season 6.
The phonecall between Tara and Willow didn't go that well though. It forced them to see some of the issues that will come up. They sort of talk around each other here, and both think the worst of the scenario. Willow sees that Tara is the best friend, a part of the family, the one that is needed, and if Willow stayed away noone would miss her. Buffy clearly doesn't miss her, and to Willow it seems like Tara doesn't miss her that much either. For Tara it seems like Willow would prefer if both her and Buffy was sad and lonely. We could see some of controling Willow here, but that's part of who she is and all of it will never go away.
I must say that I acctually feel more for Willow here. So much has changed, her place is sort of taken, and she don't know why. Xander has adapted better, but he hasn't lost his place, in the same way, and Spike has spent time with him, made him part of the new gang, while Buffy more or less has dropped Willow. A bit unfair to say that about Buffy perhaps, but there is some truth to it. Willow and Tara has switched places, it's Willow who is the girlfriend now.
Buffy spending time with Anya was nice and I liked Giles and Lydia's "fight". From the last part it seemed like Giles lost Poor Spike can't go out with the boys then It was also good that they started to train Dawn, good talking there.
Don't take other people's unfounded asssumptions as gospel, magnus. If I was going to do something so drastic as to give Buffy fangs, I'd probably say so. I doubt I'd leave something like that in quiet implications. The implication I AM dropping (since Power Shifts, when it first came up) is that both parties are responsible for the pillow destruction, even if the guy known for using his teeth as weapons is taking all the blame by third parties (readers included, if they'd never heard Buffy's thoughts in Unfought Demons) by default.
You're right about Willow. A core character flaw with her is that she's self-centered. In her mind, her girlfriend and her best friend should be pining away for her presence, at least a little. While Tara misses having her girl around, she isn't lonely in any other sense. She finally has tight Scooby buds that aren't just accepting her because she's Willow's girl (like canon), but because of who she is as an individual. The relationships have been shifting since the time travelers landed, and Willow is finally piecing together exactly how much they have, even if (as Dawn pointed out) she doesn't actually know the reasons for it.
Given how "out of the loop" Willow is, some of her behavior is understandable. But the continued theme of her pouting because she's not the center of Tara's universe, and not even close to the center of Buffy's, is still a little grating. I focus on three character flaws in Willow in Echoes: the self-centeredness, the use of magic as a "fix all," and her poor reaction to change. And things have changed, big time. In Right There, she saw that Tara's place in the Scooby world had changed, and acknowledged (openly) the shift in her place in Buffy's. But knowing it intellectually (she's a smart girl, after all) isn't the same as handling it well, or even accepting it, especially where Tara is concerned. Willow wants to come home and find everything just the way she left it, including her girlfriend. She's not adjusting to the changes as fast as they are happening. That doesn't make her a bad person, of course. Just someone who doesn't have all the information and doesn't have the 'best case scenerio' reactions to the information she DOES have.
I covered a lot of ground in two rather short scenes at the end of this chapter. Both Lydia and Giles want the ritual to work, for Buffy's sake, and both think the other is the qualified party. The resulting argument brought up a little of Buffy's "my parents' divorce" baggage. Anya (and an off-screen Spike) supported her, encouraging her to have some fun to get her mind off those memories. And then Giles lost the argument (or simply capitulated, we aren't told which). Spike's guys' night got cancelled. We see that Dawn is being trained. We see that Buffy realizes how much she screwed up with Dawn's training in the time period we know as season 7. Tara is told the "Dawn will be a watcher" theory Buffy and Spike have been kicking around since before the time travel. We find out Dawn has been open about her wish to be a real Scooby, not just putting it in her journal. Spike and Buffy rag on each other about their first fight, but in an educational way, subtly showing off their experience as trainers. All of that is covered in about two and a half pages that -at first glance- look like scenes that are about 50% comedy. Definitely a dense section. I'm kind of proud of it.
About the fangs: Dawn said it looked like the pillow was destroyed by fangs,, and later it seemed like Buffy took the blame for it. It was just the ending of a lager conversation we heard, so we don't really know what was said. The fangs had been cool though.
Then can I ask you a big favor? Can you point me at the bit where Buffy took the pillow blame? 'Cause I really need to fix that before it confuses someone else. Thanks in advance.
Well she didn't take the blame as such, it was my thoughts around what was said that gave me the thought. When Tara asked them what Dawn found in the thrash, it was Buffy who said "I guess we have to tell her". Then the ending lines of the talk when Mrs Kroger arrived. Dawn said theyboth were freaky and Buffy said that, an itty bit of a Slayer demon shouldn't cause these problems.
It was these small parts that made me think that Buffy destroyed the pillow. So it was really me thinking too much about the small pieces we heard of their conversation, as usual we didn't hear most of what was said. So I don't think you have to change anything.
Brilliant! They really have to deal with Glory soon, or I'm going to expire from the suspense.
And Willow is still just as self-involved. How can she expect nothing to change while she's away? She's clearly expecting to step straight back into the exact situation that she left. On top of that, even though she recognises that she still needs more training, she casually assumed that Tara would immediately drop everything to fall in with her plan.
Looking forward to the quest... and is this where Glory's scabby hobbits become a factor?
Glory stuff is coming very soon. We're almost there.
I tried to keep the canon events that still happen in the Echoes 'verse close to their air dates, as a loose framework. But the latter portion of the season threw that plan into chaos. By airdates, Joyce died at the end of February and was buried in mid-April. (Yikes!) Then -with only 1 other April episode after the funeral- the entire month of May was covered by events that took place over about four or five days. When goofy date gaps happened earlier in the season, that was great for me. I had other storylines and character building to do. (You saw what I did with the Christmas hiatus!) But at this point in the story, most of that work is done, so I had to do a little shifting. I moved Joyce's death -and the events surrounding it- into a stretch of about 10 days in late March, and showed nothing else from that month. Then I jumped us ahead three weeks, so we're already in the latter half of April. We've given our characters some time to settle into this post-Joyce reality, and we will see some interesting developements. Then we'll move on again, finding ourselves in May very, very soon. Echoes as a whole has terribly irregular pacing. The canon tie-ins -even with all the changes- just made it slightly worse. In short, we're a lot closer to big Glory events that it appears. The spring chapters move at a very different pace from the rest of the story.
You're so right about Willow. She still doesn't see things from any perspective but her own. Sure, she's not using magic to bend others to her will (so far), but she hasn't really changed much. Our travelers have. Not just from the traveling, but also from everything that has happened since. Tara is really starting to show that shift. Willow doesn't appear to be the center of her world anymore, at least not to the extent Willow wishes.
Love that they're training Dawn. and relieved to see the spell is much less potent this time.
Also exciting to finally understand that bit about the pillow more... so Buffy's demon has fangs? It's not her gaining vampire abilities?
Dawn's training is important, and it's about time Buffy realized that. She really blew it in season 7. The training really was her last best chance to improve her relationship with her sister, and she dropped the ball.
A much less potent suppressant is a "sigh of relief" moment for everyone, from Buffy to the readers. For me, I got what I needed out of the extra strength dose: time, some dealing with season six baggage, and an opportunity to show exactly how strong the underlying friendship has become since season six. It carried them through, and made the gradual fading of the spell less obvious, as further proof of its strength.
I wouldn't make such big assumptions about the pillow situation. If I were going to do something so drastic as to give Buffy fangs, I'd like to think I'd say so directly. The implication I'm ACTUALLY dropping is that BOTH parties are responsible for the pillow destruction. The guy who's known for using his teeth as weapons is naturally the fall guy to a third party's perspective (readers and characters alike). Buffy's thoughts about it in Unfought Demons were only included to tell you he wasn't the only one.
That visit from Mrs. Kroger went a thousand times better this time. Forget the coven. Willow needs a team of shrinks. She planned the next year of Tara's life without even asking her! Then gets upset when Tara didn't immediately jump on board. When is that girl going to realize that she doesn't have the right to make decisions about other people's lives? Never I guess. Boo hoo. Willow feels left out. Put on your big girl panties and deal. Loved the argument between Giles and Lydia. Buffy and Anya out together drinking and shopping? Adult store here they come!
Willow has (over the course of this story) done a rather poor job of adjusting to not being near the center of Buffy's world anymore. Now we see that she's noticed she isn't the center of Tara's either. Tara obviously still misses her, and wants her home, but Tara had changed, as has her place in the Scooby world. She's not just "Willow's witchy arm candy" (canon) anymore. For someone with a controlling streak, like Willow has, Tara being the outsider was a bit of a power position. She was the gatekeeper to friendships and a place in the group for Tara. But Tara's in on her own merits now, separate from Willow. It's an uncomfortable situation for Willow, to suddenly feel like SHE is the outsider. And it's uncomfortable for Tara, who can't explain WHY things changed so fast.
I wish I had a reason to show more of Buffy and Anya hanging out in Echoes. But, as I didn't, I couldn't justify making time to do so. It would have been so fun to see them having some quality girl time at Willy's, drinking and talking. I can just imagine Anya getting to her third or forth round, and losing her volume control as she talked about her sex life. As for shopping, you just KNOW she at least tried to get Buffy to shop at an adult store, at least once. She wouldn't be Anya if she didn't.
Great update, looking forward to hearing what the first slayer has to say about the new developments.
I think you'll like Buffy's reaction to the first slayer's commentary even more than the commentary itself. This version of Buffy isn't going to be awed and/or confused by the vision. She knows what she's going into this time, which means she's a lot less likely to take the vision with a wrinkled nose and a "Huh?"
Groan. Not the suppressant again. I can't figure out where the story's conflict is supposed to be.
The conflicts are there, and have been building up for a long time. We'll get to the breaking points very soon.
Off to see the kitty and Sineya while Giles does the goard dance of silliness! WIll be interesting to find out what she is told this time around.
Lovely update. Mrs. Kellog wan't a harpie this go. Willow is so terribly jealous, hope Tara can smooth that over.
Love the connections between the characters, feels quite believable.
Unfortunately, we don't get to actually see the hokey pokey or the big kitty. The quest scene focuses on the vision itself, leaving the implication Buffy reached that point by the same methods as before.
The familial-like connections among the members of the Summers household have been building for a while, but this is where I finally put it on the table as something developed enough to be openly acknowledged by the characters. Joyce's last scene set that particular ball rolling, of course. So I quoted her in Solid Bonds to acknowledge that. Tara's comments to Willow are a big part of the "coming out and saying it," obviously.
But for me, the bigger proof was Dawn going to Tara's room after. I'm in love with that scene, for all it tells you about the household. Even Dawn and Tara have gotten to be close over the course of this story, especially since Tara moved in, and likely even more since Joyce's death. They're close in a very sisterly way, close enough for Dawn to not hesitate to barge in to comfort Tara, and close enough for Tara to confide in her with an equal lack of hesitation.
Of course, the scene's other purpose was to further Dawn's character development. She's become the observer, showing her intelligence by putting into (almost) concise terms what she's seeing happen around her. But she's still funny, goofy Dawnie, using humor as her best weapon of consoling. Also, she's relaxing into this new situation. Her mother is gone, she's living with a trio of time travelers, and family has taken on a new meaning.
I've already done the "bad first impression of the weird family" bit with Lydia's arrival, so I flipped it on its head this time: Mrs. Kroger caught them at a bad time, in the middle of having a serious "demon weirdness in the household" conversation, while the non-related surprise (to the social worker) housemate was casually puttering around the kitchen like she belonged there. And it still went well. It was fun to build up the dread for the readers and have it crash down into a really good scene, showing what marriage, financial stability, and the creation of this cobbled together family are actually worth. They didn't HAVE to be on their toes for the visit, or poorly fake their way through it. They could even be (mostly) honest during the interview. They're already giving Dawn a good home. If nothing else, the time travel work as already paid off, in that regard.