We were supposed to get only issue 8 this month. But as you may know, issue 9 leaked online a month early, and the outcome of issue 10 was more or less officially announced by Dark Horse at C2E2 (Chicago Comics&Entertainment Expo). You can read detailed recap of #8 here and #9 here (thanks, Zianna!)
In a nutshell: Buffy finds out that during the party in issue 1 Andrew transferred her mind into a high-tech robot who can eat, drink and pee on a pregnancy test (providing a positive result). Buffy's pregnancy symptoms were in fact "something in the pH balance of the trueblood". (We're supposed to suspend our disbelief about Spike not smelling a robot and about Severin siphoning the slayer essence out of a robot.) Andrew has animated Buffy's body with a Stepford wife personality and housed her in the suburbs.
Real Buffy watches the perfect life of her housefrau's doppelganger and envies her normalcy. Simone abducts housefrau!Buffy, realizes that she's not the real one, and "empowers" her (apparently, by telling her how evil the real Buffy is). In not-yet published issue 10 Buffy has a face-off with another Buffy and after that she says good-buy to Spike.
The last issue of the arc will be published in June, but thanks to Scott Allie, we already know that "In issue #10, Buffy and Spike say goodbye for a little while. The [Spike] miniseries picks up shortly thereafter. It fits neatly into the flow of the season, and it's not a flashback," the editor said of how his last Buffy writing gig for a while leads in. "In my issue #10, there's a moment I'm really happy with where Spike's dialogue to Buffy when they're saying goodbye reflects my current understanding of the character. He's sort of revising his attitude towards Buffy a little bit right now.
"It's interesting because some of the real diehard Spike fans feel like we're behind the times on this -- that Spike got over Buffy. I don't know if he's really over Buffy, but I feel like there's an opportunity for Spike's feelings about Buffy to evolve a little bit. It's not for him to create this huge distance between them, but just for him to take a new swipe at it. I think in the past his love for Buffy hasn't always been the most positive thing for him. That can really drag a guy down."
And here's an excerpt from EW's Shelf Life interview with Victor Gischler who will write Spike mini "A Dark Place". In that arc — which also deals with Buffy actually being a robot – Buffy confronts the fact that if she ever wants anything close to a “normal” life, having a boyfriend who’s a vampire probably isn’t the best thing for her.
“The focus is on Spike and his coming to terms with some things, sort of getting right in the head,” says Gischler. “He loves Buffy, but can’t be with her. What does that mean to a vampire with a soul?”
Back to the arc - all Spuffy scenes in this arc are so touching that it's frightening. After such display of love, tenderness and loyalty Joss usually kills his characters. If the only fallout for Spike is leaving for his own mini, I'd say he got off easy.
Is this the end of Spuffy? I don't think so. Even if Joss wrote himself into the corner and doesn't know to keep Buffy unhappy with Spike around, he'll never close the Spuffy door for good. He'll go on teasing and baiting; he'll never get off the fence.
Buffy and Spike's relationship is in a very precious and precarious place now. To push it further is dangerous - you can ruin the magic. Happy couples are boring. No conflict. No drama. The biggest challenge in serialized entertainment is the necessity to tear down every relationship you create to push the story forward.
And it's next-to-impossible to make Buffy and Spike unhappy because of inherent problems, like in case of Buffy and Angel. Spike is no Angel, pardon the pun. He won't come up with schemes behind Buffy's back for her own good. He'll always support her. He's eager to accept the position of her right-hand man, her trusted lieutenant. So the writers have to invent an outside reason to send him away. It's better than keep the relationship stagnating.
I hope that Joss won't use some nasty Twilight-like scenario to separate them. I wonder if Spike will kill Simone, and that will cause him to quit. But I doubt it.
It's apparent that Joss doesn't have a tragic arc for Buffy and Spike. A couple of months ago, simonf, Whedonesque mod, suggested that in season 9 Spike will sire Buffy and I thought that his idea was heartbreaking and very true to Jossverse. But apparently Joss decided that Spuffy has exhausted its limit of angst on TV. So he sends Spike away because he doesn't have an angsty story for him. Would it be better to keep him as a prop for a couple of panels each issue?
If Buffy and Spike part on a hopeful "maybe some day" note I'll be a happy camper. I never expected a happily ever after for Buffy, and, as soon as writers started pushing Spuffy in #6-7, I expected something horrible to happen. If Buffy and Spike part only because Spike wants Buffy to be happy and lead a normal life - it's a tried and true method to avoid definitive answers while keeping an overall Spuffy-friendly atmosphere in the comics.
I hope that sooner or later Spike will be back in Buffy's life. That she'll be missing him when he's away and they'll keep in touch via e-mail and Skype. That, as soon as he returns she'll hug and kiss him. With rising music. And then, of course, Joss will come up with something else to keep them apart. Yesterday I watched "The Cabin in the Woods" and I enjoyed it a lot - but the ending of that movie is a typical Joss ending when he works without studio interference.
I don't know if I'll continue to write reviews for the next issues. I'm not sure I'll be interested enough to dissect and debate the plot, but I'll go on reading, because I'm curious what happens to Buffy.