Starts with the preview pages. Angel and Faith are in Peru, fighting some lizardy demons who keep regenerating until they're burned to ash by Angel's grenade. Demons dead, they leave with a MacGuffin, which Faith helpfully tells us is a McGuffin. It's a crown that the lizards were using to regenerate, and they test it by putting it onto a decayed corpse. Faith objects to this, but it works - the corpse is now freshly dead. Angel says that they're almost ready with a soul to reinsert into Giles' body, and that he's going to leave the crown with Alasdair for study. The next step is to dig up the body.
On the plane ride home, Angel sleeps and Faith looks out the window and remembers a conversation she had with Giles. (I'm guessing this is a memory rather than Faith imagining it, due to the background of Slayers working out on the countryside.) Giles is telling an irate Faith that her loyalty toward the people she's attached to is extreme, "to the point that you place their interests above your own. Even when it causes you harm." With their new project of helping problem Slayers, he worries that those who can't be helped will drag her down into their own dysfunction. Faith summarizes the conversation as him telling her to watch her ass, and asks if they're cool. Back in the present, she remembers him smiling as he replies, "Yes. We are most definitely cool," and a tear falls.
Page turn, they're back in London and digging up Giles. When they get the coffin out, Angel tells Faith she doesn't have to look, but she does, and he opens it up. It's empty. Page turn, they're at home talking to the aunts, who first blame Angel for "losing" their nephew and then admit that they might know a lot of people who would be involved in something like a grave robbery. As Faith is telling them to make a list, there's a loud knock at the door, and she looks through the peephole and sees Nadira and a crowd of other Slayers, looking Angry. Angel says he's going to leave by the roof, but he stops when Nadira yells through the door that she knows Angel is there.
Faith, shocked, opens the door and confronts Nadira, saying it's not her business. Nadira replies that Faith made it her business by lying about it, and brings up what Angel as Twilight did to her friends. She interrupts Faith's defense, that Twilight wasn't Angel, by saying that she's not here about that but about one dead Slayer. She steps back to reveal that they have a body on a stretcher with them. They all come in, and the Fairweather sisters leave to give them space.
The dead Slayer was killed by Drusilla, which Nadira blames on Angel and Faith because she knows they fought her and thinks they should have been able to win - and also because she knows Angel sired Drusilla. Another Slayer cuts into the rant to remind Nadira that they're here for the dead girl, Marianne. She and Faith talk about what a kind, giving person she was, and then Nadira points to Angel and insists that he's going to bring her back. She knows about the plan to resurrect Giles, and that they're close to success. She says that Marianne deserves to be revived instead, that even Giles would agree, and that she'll kill both Angel and Faith if they don't comply.
Angel asks Nadira about whether Marianne was in any way involved with magic in her life, and when the answer is no, he says he can't help and starts to explain why. She knocks him down with a punch, saying he's a liar and that since the Seed was destroyed, no one's soul can move on. Angel disagrees - "I'm pretty sure it doesn't work that way. Death is a natural process. I don't know the specifics, but souls still go where they belong when someone dies." Nadira holds a stake to his chest and says he's just saying what he wants to be true, and that if he can't or won't bring Marianne back, this can only go one way. Another Slayer stops her, saying she got a text from a ghoul and that Plan B's a go. They have to move fast, so Nadira backs off from Angel and says he's got some time to come up with an answer. Before she leaves, though, she informs Faith that they want nothing more to do with her.
When they're alone, Angel starts to touch Faith's shoulder. She tells him not to, and he turns away, both of them in their own pain.
The next page follows the group of Slayers with Marianne's body to a mansion in Guilford, guarded by two big men in suits. They know who she is and let her in, but show no reaction to her implied threat or anything else as they walk the group through the lavish halls and into a sitting room. They're welcomed by someone sitting in an armchair, whose face we can't see. He thanks them for coming and offers them tea, which Nadira angrily rejects. She gets them straight to the point - they brought their dead friend, and they heard he knows something about resurrecting the dead.
On the last page, the angle spins around so we see the speaker. It's Giles, smiling and holding a steaming cup of tea and even touching his glasses. "Why, yes..." he says, "...You might say I have some experience in that area."
GUYS LET'S SHARE SOME BUFFY COMIC MEMORIES. Remember Twilightgate? The big surprise got spoiled and in the issue in which it was supposed to be revealed for the first time, Scott Allie kicked off the lettercol with an abashed "Uh...didn't see that coming...did you...?" Punchline? This time the lettercol started with, "Did you see that coming...?"
And nobody did! Except those of us who read the spoilers yesterday. I think it's about time to break myself of that habit. I always forget that it makes a difference when it's a good comic.
Possibilities, in the order in which I think of them:
That's not Giles.
---Ethan didn't die at the beginning of Season 8.
-----Or he did, but his soul got trapped in magical items, and Ripper's body was easier for him to revive than his own. (Didn't his head get blown off?)
-------He performed this stunt without a body. This is beginning to sound unlikely.
---------Or he had help!
---Ethan's got no better reason than chaos, as usual. Boring!
-----Or he does, which brings up important questions about Why Giles.
-It's some random evil thing. Booo-ring!
It's Giles, but he's changed.
-He's evil now, bummer.
---He didn't bring himself back.
-----Or he did, but didn't understand what would happen.
It's the real Giles.
-He's got a plan.
---Which apparently involves Nadira, or how would she find him? Actually, this one's true whether or not it's the real Giles.
-----And he's got a rep for resurrection, so he's done this on more than his own body.
-------Sounds more like Ethan than Giles, huh?
-----He's living in apparent safety and comfort, so he's in control of his situation.
-------Also in wealth and shady dealings, so he's apparently indulging himself in a very un-Gileslike manner.
---------Or wealth and shady dealings are consequences of his master plan.
-----------In which case you wouldn't think he'd look quite so chill about it.
What I really want to know is who else knew about this. The automatic answer is nobody, but what kind of light would it cast on Buffy's story if she was in on it? No wonder Giles is barely getting a mention - she misses him, but she knows he isn't gone for good. And Xander's in on it, though I fail to understand why that's causing him to worry more about Dawn. Maybe Giles has been protecting her from dissipating, somehow?
Doesn't seem possible that Angel was in on anything, unless it was so important for him to hide it from Faith that he fought demons in Peru and dug up a grave just so he could pretend to be shocked that it was empty. But here's an unfinished sentence that sounds like it probably matters: "And even with that, there's one important thing that makes Giles different from anyone else. That kept his soul from moving on when he--" I'm pretty sure we haven't heard about this before. Add it to Angel's beliefs about how the end of magic hasn't disrupted the natural life cycle (and honestly I'm totally ready to just take his word for it, because no other explanation will make me happy), and I think I can adjust my old theory a little. Angel is indeed trying to resurrect Giles, but it's purely for the purpose of letting his soul move on. I'm not sure why he needs a body for that, but damn. If you knew your dead friend was trapped in nine objects...or was it seven...
Another line I hope is more significant than it looks is, "As one who's worked with Slayers for...well, the exact amount of time isn't relevant..." Okay, this could just be Giles not wanting to discuss his age. But didn't we always assume that Buffy was his first Slayer? That's not a hard number of years to calculate, and it doesn't say anything about his age. Does he not want to talk about Buffy's predecessors? Why?
And, damn. I just realized I was the opposite of right in my summary. The Slayers in the background in the dream scene mean it's not a memory; Giles wasn't around when Faith started that project. Okay, I'm still not feeling like it's pure imagination. Faith couldn't do Giles' voice that well. Memory on top of different memory? Literal dream? Projection from the mind of whatever version of Giles is still out there? Sure doesn't seem like an evil one. He's right about the way Faith operates, and the danger of her being pulled into Angel's or Nadira's downward spiral is real.
This really isn't a review, but I think speculation is more fun this time. Just for starters, we apparently have someone in play right now who can put a soul back into a fresh corpse. We also have someone who can turn vampires into fresh corpses. These guys should get together, no?
Keep talking, I'm sure I have more to say on this...