Anger Management vs Big Picture Thinking.
Hello Season 8, we finally got to see you come back to haunt our heroes in honest. It is remarkable that, at least on the Buffyside of the verse, twas Xander of all people - the one Scoobie who welcomed the end of magic and felt he was entitled to walk away from the fight - who is now being caught in the post-Twilight web of consequences.
At this point at least a half dozen people commented on the very obvious parallels between Angel-as-Twilight S8 situation and choices, and the choices that Xander is about to make (?) in S9 - i.e. to 'get in bed' with Severin and Simone Doffler in their ultimate attempt to reverse the flow of time and revert the Twilight. One might object that Angel's choices were more foolish and the duration of his stunt was longer, yet the underlying thinking is shown to be the same : impending death of the beloved one vs the magic opportunity to be with 'her' happily forever , and save the world from the terrible danger in the process. I remind you that one of Whistler's projections on the world-without-Twilight was Buffy's impending death - that point was in one of Christos Gage's Q/A's as well. (I am now wondering if an opportunity to see this possibility (of Buffy's final death) will be used in S9 finale? )
From that perspective, there is a remarkable doze of dark irony in the opening scene of issue #20 : that of Xander angrily pounding on utterly lost and defenseless Angel's face in the Seed Chamber post-Giles death, then his attempt to stake the dazed vampire stopped by teary Buffy's interference. And I want to say that the same parallel between Angel's and Xander's choices applies to Buffy's choice to stop Xander from dusting Angel - her saying that she could not loose anybody else included both of them, albeit in different ways.
Now, I am not expecting Xander's choices to result in quite so bad consequences - he is a supporting character, thus , unlike Buffy's or Angel's, his mistakes tend to produce auxiliary dangers to the world. Likely, his decision to swipe the VAMPYR book from Buffy will not bring forth anything worse than, say Simone turning into a Turok-Han. Still, what Severin and Simone proposed to him boils down to the ultimate Making Big Decisions on Behalf of Others clause. Indeed, the very same sin for which Angel is being continuously and remorselessly bashed by many of his anti-fans.
A few random speculations of mine belong in this section as well. Mainly one about VAMPYR book containing the details of the ritual of making a Turok-Han from scratch - by mixing the blood of a human with that of an Old One. The beastie on Jeanty's variant cover for Buffy #23 has a sort of purplish tone to its skin and a bit of a Mohawk. It can be Simone after ascension, although I would not bet any serious money on it.
It would be really interesting to find out if the VAMPYR book in question also contains any actual information on Twilight - and if that was why Giles left it to Buffy in his final will. It still can be a misdirect and S&S might want it purely for the purpose of making a uber-vamp, or it might open a whole can of worm-hole possibilities. Such as Willow finding out the details of the prophecy and 'why' it needed to happen or else.
It is also remarkably ironic that at least one of this season's Big Bads show such a complete disrespect towards the 'Big Picture' thinking while favoring the 'protect the little guy' mentality. Yes, all Severin really wants is make sure that his Claire lives again and if she is desirous of becoming a vampire (again) that her wish would be fulfilled properly - i.e. she becomes 'the real thing' and he does not have to suck her dry of her unlife. Simone is more ambitious - she wants another shot at the Slayer Dominated Society a.k.a. the Brave New World. One can only wonder amusedly if she thinks she can really fool Twilight, both the Universe and the prophecy by sowing such blatant imbalance ? Especially taking into account that in the Severin's etch-a-sketch new reality Whistler is going to have his powers of premonition back, and would be back in the driver's seat.
The Witch is baaack!
But enough ironic digressions, I want to spend a little time discussing the most cheerful part of the issue - mainly Willow's return to 'Kansas' Dorothy's style. It was very touching, if yet not fully rewarding to see Willow come back in her full Sorceress Supreme outfit and heal Buffy's Giles' style scar with a touch. It was a little bit disappointing that the 'talk' about Willow's mystical journey is about to happen 'behind screen', so we would be left to guess what and how much exactly was left unsaid. But, it was only to be expected, since one of the writers main purposes this season seems to be to conceal as much information from the audience as they see fit.
Another guess on the matter of helping Dawn would be that either Willow remembers her plan to look for the Deeper Well of magic - and extrapolates from there on the possibility to tap the Sleeping Old Ones for their magic power or will come up with another outlandish idea that will involve travelling to the DW. Or somebody else comes up with the news of the Magic Council making a run for the DW and the gang decides to follow them in an attempt to ask for help. Or something in between will happen.
As for Xander actually switching sides and pilfering the book vs him confessing everything to Buffy - it is 50/50 probability. Likely though, S&S will have thought of some sort of safeguards to keep him in check. Like taking away his emergency supply of Pirate Booty snack, or some such. Seriously, if you are a supervillain you must think of such things in advance.