Thursday, December 2, 2010

Exclusive: BIG Scott Allie Interview about Buffy #39 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Here we are at the turn of the tide. The penultimate issue of Buffy Season 8 has arrived and if you dare to read the interview below, you probably already know by now the events that have changed Whedonverse fiction forever. You may also be asking yourself "Well, how did I get here?" We're right there with ya, buddy.

So read on fellow Whedonite, as we take a journey with Season 8 editor and Joss' co-writer of the final arc - Scott Allie - and try to make some sense of our pain.

Major Spoilers ahead! Seriously, don't read this if you can help it, spoiler fiend.

Buffyfest: Why in the hell did you guys kill Giles?

Scott Allie: You're gonna spoiler tag this, right?

Buffyfest:  Heh. So, how did the conversation between you and Joss go about this major plot point? Was this something you’ve planned from the beginning?

SA: Revealing too much about this pulls the curtain back on the great and terrible Oz a bit too much. It was planned for a while, but not from the very beginning. I will say this. I've been involved now in killing two beloved characters—Giles, and Roger from Hellboy. And both times it had everything to do with the arc of the character, and in this case, the arc of the killer.

Buffyfest: Even though Angel and Giles have had a very tumultuous relationship, there was always an underlying camaraderie in the sense that they both cared for Buffy ("Prophecy Girl", "Pangs", etc.) Can you explain why Angel was chosen as Giles' murderer?

SA: I'm like you, Michelle—I love these two characters perhaps more than others in Buffy. There are qualities about them as fictional characters that make them appeal to me dramatically, as a reader, or a writer, and that's more about their flaws than their virtues. And I agree that they had a great dynamic. They were equals in a unique sense among Buffy characters. Back in the earliest seasons, they were the adult characters, so to speak. In a sense their dynamic is why it made sense for Angel to kill Giles. They served similar roles in Buffy's life, except with Angel as the lover who couldn't really be her lover, and Giles as the father who couldn't really be her father. But the real reason is that things were building for each character to where it made sense for one to die, and the other to do the killing. If Spike could've been Twilight, it could have made sense for him to do the deed, just a different kind of sense. These relationships are so intense that whoever did the deed, it would have been uniquely meaningful. Even if it were Dawn, it would have changed the world of Buffy in a very particular way.

Buffyfest: Season 8 seems to be the adult version of Season 2. Was that the intention?

SA: No, not the intention, but I think I know what you mean. I love Season 2, and what you're saying wasn't the intention, never anything we specifically decided upon, but there's clear similarities. I think what was great about Season 2 appealed to us in the setup of Season 8, and we ran with those things. But the differences are interesting too. In Season 2, it was fairly easy to say that Angel was not Angelus, but there's more ambiguity here, in terms of how responsible Angel is for Twilight's actions. I like moral ambiguity. I find that more adult.

Buffyfest: Continuing with that thought, was the decision to have Angel snap Giles neck a shout-out to the murder of Jenny Calendar?

SA: Well, yes, that's one of the real concrete similarities. When we set that scene up, Joss said we should specifically reference Jenny's death, visually, distinctly.

Buffyfest: What would you tell fans who are now fully entrenched in the "I hate Angel" club?

SA: I'd tell 'em they've never had more in common with the characters. I could see Willow doing a hell of a lot more than turning him into a frog, if she didn't have her own problems right now. This low point that we've taken Angel to is gonna be good fodder for Season 9. People felt we let him off the hook too easily after Buffy #34, but he's not off the hook. This is interesting, to me, as someone involved in shaping his story. He's a hero, sometimes a romantic lead, who has a long, long trail of bodies behind him. Killing Giles might not be the worst thing he's ever done, but for the readers and for the characters, it's the act we're gonna be most upset about. Angel's crimes have never been brought home as sharply and as viscerally for the fans as they've been brought home this week.

Buffyfest: Where does his story go next?

SA: Season 9. There’s one more issue that will show you were people are at in the wake of all the horror, but I can’t tell you where it goes next, not just yet. We’ll spill some more info when #40 comes out. But for Angel, it is going to be about redemption—that’s sort of what his story has always been, and maybe now he needs it more than ever.

Buffyfest: As a fan, do you hate Angel for what he’s done? Or pity him for being taken over by Twilight and committing this horrible act?

SA: It's not pity, but the second option is closer to how I see him. Twilight didn't take hold of Xander. Angel was the appropriate vehicle for Twilight. So he bears responsibility for being that appropriate vehicle. I don't just mean appropriate because he's a vampire—but because he's a guy who'd sign up for a plan like this. There's a reason the talking dog went to him first, and not Buffy. I've read some interesting fan reactions to Season 8 centering on a wholly dualistic view of free will—either there is or there ain't. In fiction like this, you have to account for a certain amount of mysticism, fate, predestination, etc., because that's the genre. But you also have to allow for free will, for characters to be responsible for their actions. You can have both. You have to, or this stuff doesn't work as good fiction. Even though the gods manipulated the Greek heroes, the heroes' actions were still tragic. So even where fate is involved, predestination, and even possession, there has to be a level or personal responsibility. You can pity Regan in The Exorcist, but you can't simply pity Angel. He's a hero, not a victim. He bears responsibility for his actions, even if that responsibility is unclear and subject to debate. So I do feel sympathy that his own character—who he is, his characteristics—set him up to be in the spot to do this thing, though this specific action was not his choice. If he were another guy—if he were Spike—this would not have happened. Spike would not have accepted the Twilight mission in the first place. Buffy wouldn't have accepted the mission, didn't when presented with it. Ironically, Giles may have. Maybe, if it were framed the right way.

Buffyfest: Does that make Angel less of a hero or more of a human?

SA: I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive, by any means. If he is more human than he was before, he should be more relatable. But he’s certainly a flawed hero, a very challenged hero. That’s what’s so boring about Superman. Not enough flaw. No challenges. A weakness to an extremely rare mineral doesn’t humanize a character, and I like my heroes humanized.

Buffyfest: Buffy and Angel have been challenged since the beginning of the TV show. Will Angel killing Buffy's pseudo-dad be the final stake in the heart of that relationship?

SA: Nope. Buffy #40 is the wedding issue. Because readers unanimously demanded it!

Buffyfest: Georges Jeanty recently said, "Faith does something really remarkable" about forgiving Angel. Care to elaborate on this?

SA: Not yet.

Buffyfest: Is anyone else going to die in Issue #40?

SA: Yes.

Buffyfest: Wait, what? Say again?

SA: Oh, it’s not what you’re thinking. Next?

Buffyfest: OK, speaking of issue #40, will we see a conversation between Buffy and Angel about Giles’ death?

SA: You will not.

Buffyfest: What about Spike? Will we see him again in issue #40 or is he off to the unknown with bug crew?

SA: He gets a scene in #40.

Buffyfest: In this issue, Spike says about Angel “He finally picked a side.” What does Spike mean by this statement?

SA: Well, he says it after seeing Angel punch Buffy through a wall, right? Angel's agenda has been unclear, and he's drenched in moral ambiguity, especially from Spike's point of view. Seeing Angel deck Buffy while the big war is waging above draws the lines in such a way that Spike feels justified in trying to kill Angel, no reason to hold back.

Buffyfest: Willow’s agenda is back to magic being her main focus. Do you think she's learned anything from Season 6?

SA: Absolutely, but what she learned in Season 7 is that there are certain roads to great power that don't destroy you, that are truly good. Frankly, given my interests, what's going on with Willow in #38 and #39 is some of my favorite stuff. There was so much I wanted to do with it, but it's not what the story's about. In the Seed, Willow found a battery for the kind of power she channeled in the empowerment spell. The empowerment was the ultimate payoff of everything she'd learned over the course of the series. It was redemption after Season 6, and it was the ultimate expression of her relationship and partnership with Buffy after seven years. It was a good thing, and it was a contrast to how badly magic had gone for her in Season 6. And the Seed offered her another perspective on that sort of power. I think we'll have time and need to reflect on this in Season 9. But in response to your question, I think we can learn a lot from our experiences and remain subject to our own hubris, and Joss's characters explore that idea really nicely.

Buffyfest: Now that Buffy has destroyed the seed and ended magic, how will this affect Willow and Buffy's friendship?

SA: Not insignificantly.

Buffyfest: More on that, we’ve seen that Willow and Amy lose their abilities to use magic. What other consequences are there to the breaking of the seed?

SA: The events of Season 8 were largely the result of the empowerment spell, and a huge amount of what goes on in Season 9 will be the direct result of the breaking of the Seed.

Buffyfest: So, was the empowerment spell a bad idea in terms of the universe and was this the universe's way of balancing good and evil in the world again?

SA: Not a bad idea, no—the empowerment spell brought great things to the world, but everything comes with a price. The balance swings back and forth, like a pendulum. Things are not in balance at the end of Season 8, but they’ll keep swinging.

Buffyfest: Now that the seed is broken, is the Fray future a certainty? Will we be seeing more of that future in Season 9 (or maybe even in Buffy #40?)

SA: To some degree, the Fray future is here, right? Listen to poor Willow … But I don’t think we’ll be doing a lot more time travel soon. It’s hard. Between Terminator, Season 8, and Umbrella, our heads are spinning.

Buffyfest: We asked you this question two years ago at NYCC and then again at SDCC last year, and we hope we can finally get your answer. What is the theme of Season 8?

SA: Betrayal. And the reason I wanted to be cagey about that, even though a lot of the fans had identified it, is because of a little anecdote from Joss. Joss himself has this running theme about awesome women, right? Smart women? Well, wayyyyy back in the beginning of this thing, he was talking to Kai, his wife. He was talking the story up to her, building to the big finish, "the closest, most unexpected betrayal," and she cut to the chase and said, "Buffy betrays herself, right?" If your theme is betrayal, self-betrayal is the harshest place you can go. So I was afraid that if I confirmed that betrayal was the theme, if I singled betrayal out as where we'd be heading in the climax, and you looked at that panel from #10, you'd figure it out, it'd step on the ending. I've had a couple readers write to me with the theory that Buffy would bring an end to magic, that Buffy would betray herself, etc. And they threw those theories out into the universe, and there was no word from me or Joss or Georges to confirm it, so readers were free to do with it as they pleased, to prioritize it as they saw fit, based on what was presented in the story. To tip the scales, outside of the text of the story, in a way that would promote one theory over another would damage the story worse than the accidental spoilers we leaked over the years.

Buffyfest: You mentioned that you saw a lot of fans had figured out that the betrayal was Buffy betraying herself. Were there any fan theories along the way that you found interesting even though they wound up being incorrect?

SA: Oh yeah, absolutely. I heard some cool ideas that were very much based on an intimate understanding of the characters, and that’s always exciting. The fan speculation about where it was going was rewarding to see, because it showed a pretty sophisticated level of engagement with the story.

Buffyfest: Completely unrelated, but important, what’s your take on the Buffy reboot movie?

SA: They should cast Miley Cyrus. Is there any way we can make that happen? That would be amazing. Only way this idea could get any better.


angeliclestat said...

I just think it's a pity that despite all the good deeds Angel has done, all the countless lives he has saved - he is going to be remembered by the majority of the fandom as "the guy who killed Giles"

Yes I know he was possessed, but the events that he and Buffy put into motion led to the death of a beloved character.

Thanks Joss...I hope it was worth it...

gigi said...

Well, not totally correct, he will also be remembered as the one who tried three times already to cause an apocalypse and actually succeeded twice, in Not Fade Away and in season 8.
And he will also be remembered as the one who totally forgot his son.
And as the one who basically used everyone, Buffy, the scoobies, the army, Amy, Warren, Gigi, people, to actually ascend himself and Buffy into another world leaving billions of lives back in earth to die.
And he will also be remembered as a destiny's bitch idiot who just believes whatever others are telling him without doing any research of his own or trust the ones he "loves" to tell them the truth.
And he will also be remembered as the one who basically is CURSED WITH A SOUL, that kind of sums up everything.

cil_domney said...

Just want to say "Thank You" for all the great Interviews your site has done throughout the entire Season 8.

It was a great resource for all the readers and fans.

Now, like the TV Era, each reader will have to make their own decisions on what Season 8 means to them.

It's been a long time spent with Season 8 -

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview, thanks for doing it, Buffyfest!

I totally agree with Mr. Allie - Spike would not have accepted the Twilight mission - Spike's so different than Angel - he's not so persuadable, i.e. he's not a destiny bitch. And Spike always will choose Buffy above everything – she is the love of his un(life) and his religion. Her love has changed him from a monster to a man. Spike is loyal to his friends, to the people who love, not to some abstractive "greatest good". Buffy is just like Spike – both of them are so equal – she would give her life for her friends and she would choose the free will, not what she is destined for...
Whereas Angel is persuadable and easy to misled– he always listen to some voices – the voice of Whistler, the voice of PTB, the voice of Twilight, but he has never listen the voice of his own heart – that's why he is easy to manipulate, that's why he became Twilight's pawn and did all these crimes.
About the Buffy/Angel relationship – I don't like their relationship from the beginning - Angel brings Buffy only a pain and when he is with her he turns into a monster and some good character dies in his hands... I don't know how Angel will deal with all that guilt, but I hope he would find the path to his redemption.. I used to love Angel in his own show and l'm not a fan of him right now, but I don't hate him as well... And I hope the end of Season 8 to put a permanent end to B/A relationship! If Buffy forgives him after everything that he done and if I ever see Buffy into Angel's arms again, I will lose my respect for her as a character and as my hero. I almost did it during the space-frak and her "bestest day" revelation... Please, no more Buffy and Angel "together forever"!

Anonymous said...

If season nine reads like fanfic too, I will not be buying it past the first issue. What a crappy storyline. This is what happens when creators develop patterns. They force things.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous.


Love Me.

kohakusama said...

so whats going to happend with Willow?

Melinda said...

I think it's a bunch of crap too. THey screwed over Angel just as badly as they did Giles.


WHy do people like Spuffy so much anyway? That's not asked meanly, I just have never gotten the attraction to the ship.

And they're wrong for not having a talk between Buffy and's like really needed now.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the idea of a permanent end to the B/A relationship or Buffy not forgiving Angel.Buffy is full of forgiviness.She forgave Willow for willingly trying to destroy the world in season 6.If spuffy can come back from Spike trying to rape Buffy than bangel can come back from this.

That's a big part of what I hope is season 9.The rebuilding of the Buffy/Angel relationship over the course of the season.

Nick aka Puppet Angel said...


Not Giles!

Joss seriously likes to f*%&k with us and to bring the pain. He's a bad man...but I still love him in a purely hetero way. :)

Vankay said...

Well, Oh shii- pretty much sums up all of my feelings t this point. Giles is dead, by Angel's hand... Man that's rough on Buffy.

Poor Angel, it seems that his quest for redemption, like the house cleaning, never ends.

Tough I found delicious how they referenced Jenny's death, kudos for that, I'm so sad, Why Giles??? Why does Whedon disposes of his characaters like crusty socks?? Man, Im going to cry.

Stil have hopes for OTP Bangel, Cause Spike belongs with Illyria dammnit!

Anonymous said...

For me, it appears that there's no going back to Bangel. And that's as it should be. When those two get together, BAD things happen, people die. If Buffy's attitude now is that she's still cookie dough for Angel, and wants to wait for him to redeem himself, then she's obviously learned nothing from these disastrous events brought on by Angel. I hope that Buffy will redeem herself by acknowledging her own mistakes and by kicking Angel to the curb permanently.

anca said...

Good job, guys!

I'm still trying to absorb the story: Angel was purposely set up on this path from the beginning and Giles is dead because of who his killer is.

This is a hard "lesson" for Angel and it will be interesting to see if/how he will be rebuilt from here. Spike went to get himself a soul, what would Angel do in this case? I heard some rumors that in S9 he will try to undo things; if it's true he's again on the wrong path (controlling things).

But this is Buffy's story and most of her controversial decisions/acts have no (proper) motivation. For me, S8 did a great disservice to Buffy Summers.

Anonymous said...

Season 8 was awesome until Angel came back. I really love Angel. He's one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. But, the revelation of him as Twilight was a perfect cop out. I'd rather have seen Buffy kill Giles than Angel. Give Angel back to IDW.

Spok said...

Don't you get it? Don't you see?!
Bangel is dead! SPUFFY ALL THE WAY!

Anonymous said...

Ugh... completely agree that Season 8 turned to garbage the moment Angel reappeared.

It's time to put a stake to this title.

Anonymous said...

and again spike show thta he is better than angel! always!!! angel killed giles..I cant beleave so sad..I WANT ANGEL DIED RIGHT NOW!! he cant do this things and later just be forgive HE NOT DESERVE IT!
BANGEL IS DIED this died in season 3 when he left buffy..and now he do it?
Buffy never can forgive him! giles is like a father for her!! ANGEL KILLED HER FATHER!
spike and buffy are the real champion in all this!!SPUFFY FOREVER!!

Anonymous said...

The Spuffy declarations are so ridiculous. If only they could think outside their ship....

Thanks for the interview. It makes me want to read the season 9.

Nora said...

It couldn't have been Spike.
Spike is not the Hero.
Spike has no Destiny.
Spike is a secondary character.

It has always been Buffy and Angel. From the beginning and from what I read, it won't stop.

Get over it Bangel haters.

Spock said...

Spike is the HERO and a true champion! He's not a mass murderer psychopath like Angel!
Yep, Spike has no destiny, he has a free will and he's not a destiny stupid bitch and delusional psycho like Angel.
Spike might is a secondary character, but he is thousand times better than Angel!
And he deserves Buffy more! Angel deserves a painful death and to suffer in the hell forever!
Oh, and I forgot to say - BANGEL SUCKS from very beginning!!!
And that lame relationship is DEAD now! Take it!!!

Nora said...


I'm always amazed how violent are some Spuffy fans. Maybe because they can't do otherwise in order to be heard.
You won't re-write the story. Not liking Angel is your choice but stop the blindness.
Spike is A hero, not THE one who got his own show.
Free will ? Spike has been manipulated by the Force and killed people. Spike was stupid enough to be taken by the Initiative and became "impotent".
Spike loved Buffy but not enough to come back to her after his "revival". Not mentionning that he tried to rape her....
You have your arguments, I can find others.

You can hate as you want. You won't change the story.

If only you could respect what brought Buffy The Serie at a high level during season 2 : Bangel. BTVS became really popular and won its place among great shows thanks to season 2.
Denying this is denying the whole serie and Whedon.

Nora said...

The Force = The First
(sorry, sometimes my native language slips over )

Nessie said...

I'm a spuffy lover, but I dislike how people assume from this that i'm biased, blind and a fool. I could say the same about bangel fans but it wouldnt be true. We like different shippings more because of the goodness we see in either Spike or Angel. Personally, I see more in Spike. That doesn't mean there isn't any in Angel or more that I havent seen. Believe it or not I have considered both pairings. There are pros and cons for both so theres no point debating.
What I do know is that Spike has managed to prove himself worthy, and I hope that whether you actually want him to end up with Buffy or not you can at least see that much. Regaining his soul isnt something to brush aside easily.
Therefore if Angel is ever going to get Buffy back then he's going to have to do something pretty big to get redemption. Obviously I hope that if he ever succeeds it will be too late and Buffy will have realised just how amazing Spike is. But thats just me on behalf of the Spuffy lovers. Afterall:
May the best man win!