(Seriously, I know there's a bit of silly in doing the summary thing at this point, but I didn't want to leave a gap in my archives, and I figure I'm at least getting this one in before the next issue comes out tomorrow. Just pretend I was never gone. Moving along...)
Andrew's sleeping when his window lights up, a gust of air blows into his room, and he sees two silhouetted figures. Assuming he's being abducted by aliens, Andrew begins to pack, chattering about how excited he is, while the figures enter and are revealed as Spike and one-armed robot Buffy. Andrew greets them, resigned, but Buffy wastes no time in grabbing him and demanding answers.
The next page shows Dowling identifying the remains of his partner, Cheung. He listens to the pre-autopsy analysis of her injuries without comment.
Back at Andrew's place, Spike is trying not to step on something that looks like a rawhide bone while Buffy listens to Andrew speculate on what gave Buffy a positive pregnancy test - "Maybe something in the PH balance of the Trueblood". She tells him about her late period and stomach sickness, and he has robotic reasons behind those, too. He opens up a cabinet of robot parts to find her a new arm, but only has a left one. Buffy declines, again demanding to know why she's a robot. He flinches away from her and says that Spike asked him to help, and Buffy whirls around to Spike, who says, "I bloody well didn't!"
Andrew clarifies that Spike simply asked him to track down whatever was after Buffy, and leads us into a flashback to the party in the first issue. He explicitly states that he roofied her, and that's how she ended up in the bedroom with Spike - we see how he led her to her room after she got out of the pool. She's clearly affected (there are even pink bubbles floating around her head, but her dialogue and movements are indicator enough), and falls off the bed, unconscious, while trying to take off her shirt. Spike lays her down and covers up her bare chest, putting her to bed. He assumes that she's simply drunk and the hangover she'll have the next day is her own fault, and back in the present-day panels, Andrew quotes him on that.
Spike defends himself against the lack of context, but Buffy shushes him and asks if Andrew was watching all this. He was, and the next pages show how he brought her robot body in after Spike left and switched its mind with hers, using a compact device that looks like two cups attached by a telephone cable. Back in the present, Buffy in her broken robot body says she's not real, not Buffy, and Andrew says she is, because Buffy's mind is in there. "Are you less real than your memories?" he asks, and then backs it up with some geek references, causing Buffy to turn away from him, saying "Oh God."
Andrew babbles on about how he got the tech from Warren's lab (a reasonable explanation, considering what we've seen Warren do in canon versus what we've seen Andrew do), and how there had been a risk that the transfer would leave Buffy permanently drunk. Spike interrupts by grabbing his lapels and shouting in his face, "You have any idea what you put her through?" Andrew claims it was all about protecting Buffy, keeping her body safe, and counters Buffy's interjection that he should have told her by saying that witness protection doesn't work if anyone knows about it. He reiterates that it's her mind in the robot, and says he's using the Trio's evil know-how to good. He even points to his acceptance into the Scooby Gang, which Buffy instantly revokes by saying that this is how he screws that up.
Spike points out that the danger, the Siphon, is now gone. Buffy asks again, brandishing her solitary fist, where her body is.
For the next page and a half, we see firsthand where her body is. First she gets out of a nice car in a nice car in a nice neighborhood, wearing a nice suit. Then she goes through a series of domestic chores in a nice house and yard. There's no dialogue, but she seems to be handling everything well until she's stirring some batter and breaks her thick wooden spoon, saying, "Oops."
The bug ship is in flight, the bridge visible below. Buffy's peeking out the window, crying, when Spike comes in and greets her. She says she doesn't want him walking on eggshells, and asks him to say something that will make her forget that none of what she went through was real. He wants to talk about how it's not over yet, but she interrupts to express her frustrations over her choices about "something normal" being irrelevant, as the supposed pregnancy turned out to be "more bizarre Slayer crap". She then thanks him for giving her one real thing by being there when she needed someone. They clasp hands and Spike leaves, smiling, while Buffy goes back to the window.
Andrew's in the control room, badgering one of the bugs about turning on the cloaking device that he's sure they've got, though the bug says it doesn't know what he's talking about. Spike walks in and confronts Andrew again, this time in vampface. He says he could throw him off the ship for the baby scare alone, and threatens him with "one decisive solution" if he doesn't fix this.
We cut to Xander and Dawn's apartment. Xander's calling from the bathroom for Dawn to get his eye patch. She doesn't answer, and he calls louder, slamming his fist into the wall and cracking a tile. She enters and sees it and tells him to relax, and he apologizes, interrupted by the doorbell. It repeats until Dawn opens the door to see Dowling, incapacitated and leaning on the wall. Confused, she says she doesn't have anything to report about Buffy, and asks if he smells gas. In slurred language he says no, that he saw Buffy, and that he and his partner hit a zompire swarm, and asks if he can come in to talk to her and the guy with the patch. "Jesus. Dead officers everywhere..." he goes on. Dawn asks if Buffy's okay, and he replies, "Sure, aside from being a robot, she's fine."
The next pages are from the preview; Dowling describing the attack to Xander and Dawn, and Cheung rising as a zompire. Next we go back to the bug ship, still cruising as the sun sets. Andrew is narrating the situation with his usual dramatization, excusing his own part in it by calling his plan "perhaps flawed". He's not bothered by the bugs, although they're getting irritated by him. Spike and Buffy enter, and Andrew shows them Buffy's body in its safe house on camera. Buffy peers at it with an unreadable expression, then says, "My kitchen is awesome." Andrew points out the entertainment center, and Spike asks if this is what Buffy had in mind if the two of them were going to run away. Buffy says, "It wasn't..."
The screen goes red and an alarm beeps. Andrew says that the Buffy stand-in doesn't hear it, but he doesn't know what set it off. Spike orders the ship to advance at full speed, and we cut to suburbia. Buffybodybot is taking a sip from a glass of wine (?!), and suddenly finds herself at gunpoint. It's a woman in a ski mask, who says "How the mighty have fallen," and then claims she's going to liberate her from "this Betty Crocker bull$%*". She appears to pistol-whip her before throwing her unconscious form into the back of a van. Before she gets in herself, she takes off the mask (don't know what kind of sense that makes, either). It's Simone.
It's an understatement to say that I'm not happy with where this issue brought us and what it's doing, but time has passed since I read it and I'm prepared to say so without ranting and raving. When the series concludes, I hope and to some extent expect that we're all going to look at this issue and the ones right before and after it as the low point. It's more bad luck than anything - the weakest character from TV canon took the spotlight just as a promising plot was severed and replaced by an unwelcome one, hoisted on the shoulders of the shakiest moral message in the Buffyverse, and the whole thing wrapped up with an appearance by the least interesting villain. The characters' relationships were treading water, I didn't find an occasion to laugh, and only one panel made me feel any real sentiment.
That one panel (it actually took two to make the point, but you know what I mean) was Buffy gazing wistfully at "her" kitchen. Over-identify much? Sometimes you see a beautiful home, or even a picture of a beautiful home, and you can't help associating it with a beautiful life. Does anything symbolize domestic bliss like a fully equipped, clean, pleasant kitchen? I could fully believe Buffy's longing for that environment, and I feel a little dense for not getting her next line, when Spike asks if that's what she had in mind. Why would it not be? Is it him? Did she not have a clear picture at all? Am I missing her tone?
Second place for almost-making-me-have-an-emotion was Xander's violent reaction to losing track of Dawn for five seconds. I have no idea what this is about, but we're clearly meant to see that it's about something, and I'm looking forward to finding out what (finally).
Alright, but the real matter at hand here, yeah. If this is all there is to the pregnancy plot, and that's certainly how it appears right now, it really was pointless and I am deeply disappointed. I refuse to feel sheepish about all the speculating that we put into it, all the talk of fathers, and all the feelings we expressed about it. Falling for a bait-and-switch doesn't make the suspense worth it; it just makes the payoff a failure.
I have theories, of course. There are two ways that I could see this dead end being (somewhat) redeemed. First, Buffy's body is, in fact, pregnant. Andrew engineered his "Trueblood" using a sample of Buffy's blood that he got post-Twilight and pre-switch, so it showed up on the pregnancy test. (I mean, his answer for that was pretty flimsy.) The obvious hole in this is that we just saw Buffy's body and there's no sign of anything of the sort, but we shippers did come up with a few workable ideas for how and why the pregnancy could be paused if it happened during Twilight, so we might as well recycle those. Hey. Has anyone come up with any new thoughts on Heinrich and his role during the party?
My second theory is a bit more meta. Basically, Buffy was put in a position where she had to think about what it meant to be a mother, how it would affect her life, whether she was ready, and who she could or couldn't trust to raise the child with her. Why? Well, because she's going to get pregnant for real at the end of the season. By then, things will be different - she'll have learned Valuable Lessons about herself, she'll be independently stable, and the conception will have happened while she was sober and passionate.
I'd like this one a whole lot better if I could say that it will turn the pregnant-robot scare from a bad joke into a foreshadowing. If it does happen, though, all I'm going to be able to see is Joss looking at an outline for the season and realizing that he's allowing Buffy to be happy in motherhood before he made use of her to display his pro-choice colors. All in all, though, it would still give the first third of Season 9 a bit more of a long-term purpose, and it seems more of a possibility than my first theory, so I'm for it. Not greatly optimistic, though. The whole thing might very well have an ending that has nothing to do with the beginning.
The other major complaint that I/everyone have/has about this issue is Andrew, and the utterly contemptible thing that he did to Buffy. He doesn't get it; of course he doesn't get it. No other character would be allowed to exhibit that kind of crudeness and have it played as humor, but here's Andrew, practically invincible. It's nice to see Spike give him the good-and-angry talk, but we know it'll come to nothing. (We've been promised several times that Andrew's getting a boyfriend this season. OH I HOPE THEY'RE HAPPY TOGETHER.) A man with a child's sense of responsibility doesn't necessarily need to be locked up...until he makes friends with rapists and murderers and starts to participate in their activities. Anyone remember when that happened?
Sorry, this did turn into ranting and raving, didn't it? Well, it's late and I'm...out of practice? Now I can't make that excuse tomorrow!
Buffybodybot's kitchen really is awesome, though.