|Written by:||Joss Whedon|
|Directed by:||Joss Whedon|
|Starring:||Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers|
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
|Guest Starring:||Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles (Special guest star)|
Eliza Dushku as Faith (Special guest star)
Nathan Fillion as Caleb (Special guest star)
David Boreanaz as Angel
Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells
Iyari Limon as Kennedy
Sarah Hagan as Amanda
Indigo as Rona
DB Woodside as Principal Wood
|Co-Starring:||Felicia Day as Vi|
Mary Wilcher as Shannon
Demetra Raven as Girl at Bat
Katie Gray as Indian Girl
Lisa Ann Cabasa as Injured Girl
Ally Matsumura as Japanese Girl
Kelli Wheeler as School Girl
Jenna Edwards as Trailer Girl
Julia Ling as Potential with Power #2
A three dei ex machina helped Buffy defeat the latest threat, destroying the local mall in the process.
The episode opened with Buffy and Angel finishing their kiss, oblivious to others in the room, such as Spike, the First Evil, and a not-quite-dead-yet Caleb. The latter was very upset at being ignored and demanded a finish to the fight. He was in the process of telling Buffy that she lacked certain organs when she planted the blade of her ax right into his organs.
Angel brought information about the apocalypse and a very special amulet. He was ready to fight by her side, but she wanted him in Los Angeles to provide a second line of defense if she failed. He realized that there was another reason involving a bleach-blond vampire. She gave a speech about cookie dough, which seemed to satisfy him enough to give her the amulet and return to Los Angeles.
Buffy returned home to find an angry Dawn. However, Giles, Willow, Anya, and Xander were happy to hear about Caleb's demise. She went down to the basement, where Spike was pounding on a punching bag. He was not happy about what Buffy and Angel did, but he was quite pleased to receive the amulet. He pretended to still be hurt, but he backed away quickly and let her stay with him.
That night, she got up and walked around. The First Evil, in the guise of Caleb, started to taunt her. She seemed to be uninterested in what it had to say, but, after it left, she told Spike that she just realized that she was going to win.
Buffy told her plan to the main characters but not the audience. Giles liked the idea, but Willow was unsure of her ability to pull off her part. The others seemed supportive. Buffy started to present her idea to the potential slayers, but was cut off before we could hear her plan.
One part, at least, involved Faith and Principal Wood moving heavy objects in front of vents in the Sunnydale High basement. They discussed their encounter in "Touched." It appeared that Wood was a bit hurt about Faith using him. He also did not like her low expectations for men. His assessment of her was also not flattering enough.
Willow did more worrying about her ability to pull off her part without turning evil, but Kennedy reassured her that everything will be fine, as if Kennedy knew anything. Meanwhile, Giles, Andrew, Xander, and Amanda were busy playing Dungeons & Dragons, and Buffy approached Spike to do something ambiguous.
The next morning, Principal Wood led the characters to Sunnydale High School. Buffy sent the potentials to the basement with Faith and Spike. Giles and Wood, Xander and Dawn, and Anya and Andrew were to cover three possible escape points for anything evil that would make it up there. After the others left, Buffy, Xander, Giles, and Willow discussed plans to go to the mall. Actually, three of them discussed the mall while Giles repeated something he said at the end of "The Harvest."
Buffy, Faith, Spike, and the potentials gathered around the Seal of Danzalthar. Buffy cut her hand to bleed on the seal to open it. They went down to a ledge where they could observe a lot of ubervamps standing around making a lot of noise. However, it was apparently not enough noise to drown out the conversation on the ledge.
Meanwhile, Willow started to cast a spell using the ax. The ax glowed just as we got to hear Buffy's plan. Apparently, Willow was casting a spell that would cause all potential slayers to drop the "potential" and become slayers. This way, instead of leading 30 whiny brats to battle, Buffy would be leading 30 whiny brats with superpowers to battle. She would also empower various girls around the world to hit softballs farther than they ever have before.
Willow's hair turned white while the spell was in progress. When she was done, she gave the ax to Kennedy to bring to Buffy. Meanwhile, Anya was getting quite jittery. So jittery that the mention of bunnies actually calmed her down.
The new slayers were eager to try out their new powers against the ubervamps. However, they were kind enough to let a few escape in order to give those without powers something to do. Giles and Principal Wood took on a few, and Anya killed a couple without noticing bringers sneaking up behind her.
Buffy was also not paying attention to what was behind her, which allowed one ubervamp to stab her in the back. Faith took the ax and continued the fight. Meanwhile, Dawn exposed three ubervamps to sunlight, a bringer sliced Anya nearly in two, and another bringer slashed Principal Wood.
While on the ground, Buffy saw ubervamps overpower one new slayer and watched Amanda drop dead. The First Evil took on Buffy's guise to taunt her as if she were dying. However, this was just motivation to get Buffy back up. Buffy proceeded to kick three ubervamps off the ledge. Seeing this, Faith decided to do the same.
Eventually, Spike's amulet started to work. A bluish visual effect shot directly upward from the amulet. An orange light soon replaced it. Additional beams shot out and burned up ubervamps. Faith called for a retreat as she and the new slayers fled upstairs and out of the building. Those without superpowers soon followed, although Dawn had to keep Xander from looking for Anya.
The cavern was starting to collapse. Spike and Faith begged Buffy to leave, but she stuck around enough to say that she loved Spike, although he was still not convinced.
Principal Wood guided the characters to a convenient school bus. They drove off as soon as Faith jumped on board. Buffy stayed behind until just before Spike burned up. She then sprinted out across collapsing rooftops until she landed on the top of the bus. It escaped as the entire town of Sunnydale (or, at least, the northwest portion of the town) collapsed.
Once they were clear of the city limits, a badly wounded Principal Wood brought the vehicle to a stop better than a badly wounded Giles did in "Spiral." Andrew assured Xander that Anya died saving his life. Wood pretended to die in order to get Faith to show a gesture of affection. Buffy, Giles, Dawn, Willow, Xander, and Faith looked out over the crater that was their home town and regretted the destruction of the mall.
The episode did a very good job at providing scenes to satisfy both Buffy/Angel shippers and Buffy/Spike shippers without offending the other.
Watching Giles play D&D was a comic highlight of the season.
There was a great battle scene at the end.
This was a good episode, overall. However, there are far too many nitpicks for this to be a great episode. These complaints are dealt with in a separate essay.
Buffy finished off Caleb.
Buffy, Spike, Faith, Giles, Principal Wood, Xander, Dawn, Anya, Andrew (sort of), and about 30 slayers fought ubervamps and bringers.
Spike had an amusing drawing of Angel on his punching bag.
Giles transformed from a highly respected watcher to a wounded dwarf.
The characters worried about the fate of the mall.
Buffy and Angel had a discussion about cookie dough.
Spike was hurt after seeing Buffy kiss Angel, but a heart-to-heart with Buffy cheered him up.
Willow worried about her ability to pull off the spell without turning evil.
There were conversations between Buffy and Spike, Faith and Principal Wood, and Willow and Kennedy that were all at least meant to be meaningful and heartfelt.
The episode opened with Angel kissing Buffy.
Buffy spent the night with Spike.
Faith and Principal Wood talked about their encounter in "Touched."
Willow and Kennedy had a moment together.
Angel is jealous over Spike obtaining a soul.
Dawn is not happy about Buffy sending her away from the fight.
Spike is not happy about seeing Angel kiss Buffy. He does appear to be a bit confused about how humans talk.
Willow has discovered magic that turns hair white instead of black.
The First Evil's latest plan is foiled.
Sunnydale had been changed from a town to a sinkhole.
Spike and Anya are dead.
One of the greatest shows in history has completed its run.
Willow gets a lot of credit for pulling off her spell. However, it just allowed the potential slayers to provide support for the real hero of the episode, Spike. Spike gets the final MVP for channeling the energy that wiped out the entire army of ubervamps.
Buffy easily wins this award by coming up with the plan to stop the First Evil's army of ubervamps.
Buffy and her friends are unbeatable at their best, so I cannot fault anyone for losing to them. Caleb probably would have remained in one piece if he played dead, but his wound may have been fatal anyway. Andrew provided poor backup for Anya, but there was little reason to expect much from him in the fight.
The obvious question is what happened to wimpify the ubervamps? The original one that we saw in the middle of the seventh season was easily a match for Buffy. These appear to be no stronger than ordinary vampires.
If the local army base was abandoned like the rest of Sunnydale, why did the characters not loot it for supplies? Flamethrowers would have been very useful against the ubervamps, and M-16s would have been very effective against bringers.
If the concern of the characters without superpowers was to keep stray ubervamps from escaping into the general population, why did they split up into three pairs when all six of them could have congregated around the bottleneck at the Seal of Danzalthar?
Finally, if the plan involves imbuing characters with superpowers so they can better face danger, why do those characters walk into danger before receiving the powers. It would have made far more sense for Willow to cast the spell before opening the seal. This way, they could just back off if the spell failed. Furthermore, they would have their powers already in place before they started fighting. This was the same error that was made in "Restless."
There is one complaint that is less reasonable. Many people wondered why we did not see docks or the beach in the overhead shot of Sunnydale collapsing into a giant sinkhole. There was no reason to. First, we saw only the northwest portion of Sunnydale. The docks and the beach would be to the south. Furthermore, in the third season, a map in Mayor Wilkins's office stated that the city of Sunnydale was in Sunnydale County. Therefore, any reference to a beach or docks in Sunnydale could refer to being in county of Sunnydale rather than the city of Sunnydale.
Spike is one of the great iconic characters from genre television. However, this status came about through a very fortunate accident. The character was created just so Buffy would not have to fight a different enemy in each episode before Angel became the primary villain of the second season. Spike was supposed to be around only for a few episodes before being killed off. James Marsters said that all he hoped for was a high body count and a good death. I doubt that he could possible imagine the extent to which he eventually got this wish in "Chosen" or how long it would be until it came to fruition.
Spike survived the second season because it soon became clear what he could be. After his initial appearance in "School Hard," fans wrote in saying how much they liked his character. This was sort of a problem because fans were supposed to hate him. He was a villain after all. However, the writers kept him around a lot longer than planned. He was allowed to survive the fire in "What's My Line? Part 2." Angel did not kill him as Angel's first evil act. Spike was allowed to leave town at the end of "Becoming Part 2."
Nietzsche (sure sign of pretentiousness) observed that those who fight monsters have to watch out or they will turn into monsters themselves. Spike was an example of the opposite: Monsters who fight good have to watch out or they will turn into good themselves. This causes Spike to have one of the most complex character arcs on the show, with Willow being the only serious competition. Marsters often noted that it felt like he was playing a new character each season. In the second season, he evolved from the villain to reluctant ally. After a brief appearance as a pitiful, broken-hearted character in the third season, he returned in the fourth season to become what some described as the wacky neighbor, albeit with a treacherous bent by the end of the season. In the fifth season, he was half unrequited lover and half creepy stalker. By the sixth season, he became the bad-boy lover. By the end of the show, he was a more sensitive lover. It is a tribute both to the writers and to Marsters that all of these transitions made sense for the character. Spike leaves the show with 15 MVPs, six Sherlock Holmes Awards, and six Goats.
There is a lot of credit to go around. James Marsters often claimed that Spike's popularity was largely due to the material written for him. However, Marsters is being far too modest. The writers kept giving him good material to work with because they knew what he was capable of doing. It was his charisma that caused Spike to be so well liked in the beginning that led the writers to keep Spike around a lot longer than originally planned. I rank Marsters along with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, and Amber Benson as being the best main actors on the show. Finally, some credit for Spike's success as a character has to go to Juliet Landau, who, along with Harry Groener, is one of the best recurring actors on the show. Landau's chemistry with Marsters contributed a lot to Spike's popularity.
Anya, like Spike, was never supposed to be nearly as important as she turned out to be. Some sources say that she was supposed to be a one-shot villain in "The Wish." Others suggest that a return in "Doppelgangland" was a possibility from the start. In any case, we were not supposed to see her for very long.
I admit that the transition from the character that Anya was in those two episodes to the character we have seen since was fairly abrupt. In "The Wish," Anya was capable of being subtle and did not always speak her mind. She was occasionally tactless in "Doppelgangland," but that was due more to arrogance than to not understanding human social rules. Furthermore, nothing in her first two episodes would give any reason for her to bond with Xander. She was a crusader against infidelity who came to town because Xander was unfaithful. This alone should have driven her away from him. Furthermore, his infidelity was an indirect cause for her losing her powers, something she resented.
The departure of Cordelia to Angel left two vacancies: a love interest for Xander and a character who always speaks her mind. The character of Anya seemed unsuited for both roles, but somebody realized that they had a good actress on their hand and decided to have her fill at least the first role. Even though the second role was pegged for Spike, Emma Caulfield's comic abilities allowed Anya to take it away from him. In the end, I think that she filled both roles better than Cordelia did.
Based on what their characters were like before dating Xander, neither Cordelia nor Anya seemed like a suitable candidate for him. However, Anya grew to be a good girlfriend. This was obvious at least by the time she comforted him in the beginning of "Primeval," but perhaps the clearest moment was well after they had broken up. In "End of Days," Anya talked about using an oxygen canister in the same method as in the end of the film Jaws. It was Andrew who responded that Anya was the perfect woman, but she became that way because she used Xander as a model for being human. She simply reflected Xander's interests.
This also carried on to her always speaking her mind. I trace this to a moment in "The Harsh Light of Day" in which Xander stated that he preferred people who said what they mean. Cordelia's tactlessness served mostly to provide comic relief or to speed the plot along. Anya's served these roles as well, but it also allowed her to play the role that characters like Spock and Data played in the first two live-action Star Treks: the character who allowed the writers to explore what it meant to be human from the point of view of an outsider, most notably in her speeches in "The Body" and "End of Days." Anya leaves the show with four MVPs, nine Sherlock Holmes Awards, and two Goats.
All actors on Buffy have to be multi-talented. They have to convey comedy and pathos, often in the same episode. They sometimes are asked to use other talents, like singing. Emma Caulfield was probably the best natural comedian on the show. Like Marsters, Caulfield claims that it is all due to the writing, but, like Marsters, there is a very good reason why many of the best lines were given to her. Her delivery was perfect. In fact, she was so good a comedian that people forget how good she is at other material. Her speech in "The Body" was one of the dramatic highlights of the entire show. Performances in "Hells Bells" and "Selfless" showed that it was no fluke. She was also one of the best singers in "Once More with Feeling" and was the only one asked to sing afterward.
Note: Good-byes for all the characters who survived this episode will appear in a separate essay.
Commentary by Writer/Director Joss Whedon is much better than most of the commentaries in the seventh season for two reasons. First, it is by Joss Whedon, who is very insightful about his filmmaking process. Second, it is by him alone, so there was no diffusion of responsibility in keeping things interesting. Being the final episode, there are no spoilers for Buffy. There is one spoiler for Angel that anyone could figure out simply by looking at the cover of the DVD for the fifth season or the opening credits for the first episode. Insight include:
"You think you have power over me? Stupid girl, you'll never stop me. You don't have the..." Caleb
"He had to split." Buffy
"Are you just gonna come here and go all Dawson on me every time I have a boyfriend?" Buffy
"Aha, boyfriend!" Angel
"He's not, but he is in my heart." Buffy
"I'm cookie dough. I'm not done baking. I'm not finished becoming whoever the hell it is I'm gonna turn out to be. I make it through this and next thing and the next thing, and, maybe, one day I turn around and realize I'm ready. I'm cookies, and then, you know, if I want someone to eat or enjoy warm, delicious cookie me, then that's fine. That'll be then, when I'm done." Buffy
"Any thoughts on who might enjoy... Do I have to go with the cookie analogy?" Angel
"I do, sometimes, think that far ahead." Buffy
"Sometimes is something." Angel
"Be a long time coming, years if ever." Buffy
"I ain't getting any older." Angel
"Most people don't use their tongues to say 'hello,' or, I guess, they do, but..." Spike
"Faith still has my room." Buffy
"Well, you're not staying here. You can't buy me off with shiny beads and sweet talk. You got Angel breath. I'm not gonna just let you whack me back and forth like a rubber ball. I got my pride, you know." Spike
"I understand." Buffy [turns to walk away]
[Blocks her] "Clearly you don't, because the whole 'having my pride' thing was just a smokescreen." Spike
"I'm drowning in footwear." Spike
"I just realized something, something that really never occurred to me before. We're gonna win." Buffy
"This goes beyond anything I've ever done. It's a total loss of control, and not in a nice wholesome my-girlfriend-has-a-pierced-tongue kind of way." Willow
"I'll dig up my sources, quite literally, actually. The only two people I have to speak to are dead." Giles
"Let's go assemble the cannon fodder." Anya
"That's not what we're calling them, Sweetie." Xander
"Not to their faces. What am I, insensitive?" Anya
"I hate this. I hate being here. I hate that you have to be here. I hate that there's evil, that I was chosen to fight it. I wish a whole lot of the time that I hadn't been. I know a lot of you wish I hadn't been either. This isn't about wishes. This is about choices. I believe we can beat this evil, not when it comes, not when its army is ready, now. Tomorrow morning, I'm opening the seal. I'm going down into the Hellmouth, and finish this once and for all. Right now, you're asking yourself what makes this different? What makes us anything more than a bunch of girls being picked off one by one? It's true. None of you have the power that Faith and I do, so here's the part where you make a choice." Buffy
"Come on, you gotta have a little faith." Faith
"I think I've had my share, thanks." Principal Wood
"I am so much prettier than you are." Principal Wood
"I used to be a highly respected watcher, and now I'm a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily." Giles
"Welcome to Sunnydale High. There's no running in the halls, no yelling, no gum chewing. Apart from that, there's only one rule: If it moves, kill them." Principal Wood
"If you have to go to the bathroom, it's to your left. If you don't have to go to the bathroom, picture what you're about to face. Better to go now." Xander
"We will defend it with our very lives." Andrew
"Yes, we will defend it with his very life." Anya
"And don't be afraid to use him as a human shield." Xander
"The earth is definitely doomed." Giles
"Oh, my, goddess." Willow
"So here's the part where you make a choice. What if you could have that power, now? In every generation, one slayer is born because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule. They were powerful men. This woman [Willow] is more powerful than all of them combined, so I say we change the rule. I say my power should be our power. Tomorrow, Willow will use the essence of the scythe to change our destiny. From now on, every girl in the world who might be a slayer will be a slayer. Every girl who could have the power will have the power. Can stand up, will stand up. Slayers, every one of us. Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?" Buffy
"I'm terrified. I didn't think. I mean, I just figured you'd be terrified, and I would be sarcastic about it." Anya
"Picture happy things: a lake, candy canes, bunnies." Andrew
"Bunnies, floppy-hoppy bunnies!" Anya
"Mommy, this mortal wound is all itchy." The First Evil
"I love you." Buffy
"No you don't, but thanks for saying it." Spike
"Looks like the Hellmouth is officially closed for business." Faith
"There's another one in Cleveland, not to spoil the moment." Giles
"The mall was actually in Sunnydale, so there's no hope of going there tomorrow." Giles
"The First is scrunched, so what do you think we should do, Buffy?" Willow
"Yeah, you're not the one and only chosen anymore. Just gotta live like a person. How's that feel?" Faith
"Yeah, Buffy, what are we gonna do now?" Dawn
"Grr, argh." Mutant Enemy
Ordinarily, an attack by even one ubervamp is enough to put the strongest slayer in peril. However, the wimpified version seen in this episode was hardly a challenge even when they have the numerical advantage against those without superpowers.
Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.