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Buffy The Vampire SlayerBuffy 7x22 Chosen - Review Again
Tuesday 10 June 2003, by Webmaster
Into every generation a Slayer is born. One who will stand alone against the . . . Not anymore, baby. At least the alone part.
"Chosen" ably written and directed by Joss Whedon, was many things: nostalgic, triumphant, transcendent. It was not perfect. There were loose ends. It felt somewhat rushed (Too much to do! Too little time!) But it served as a fitting end for a show that has meant so much to so many.
As Joss’s season opener told us, it’s all about power. Giles let his paternal power go, and acknowledged Buffy’s wisdom. Dawn channeled her anger at the fact that Buffy didn’t choose her (sending her away with Xander) towards positive, if violent, ends. Xander reaffirmed that his power is his warmth and humanity. And, strangely enough, that was Anya’s ultimate contribution as well. In the end she died a stupid, senseless death (because that’s what happens in war), but it was for a noble cause—to save the humans she had scorned, but now loved. Andrew’s power was that of a storyteller, spurring Anya on to acts of bravery by thinking of pleasant things . . . like bunnies. Later, he gives Xander solace, telling him that Anya died saving him. The reality was far more brutal, but sometimes it’s easier to believe a comforting lie. Buffy tapped into her most powerful ability—to think outside the box. The solution wasn’t simple violence. It was empowerment: the empowerment of a souled vampire with a penchant for peroxide. The empowerment of a slew of potentials. And the empowerment of a witch.
Let’s go in reverse order. First, Willow. While Buffy may have encouraged Willow, Willow had to overcome her fear of her own power, which, luckily, and somewhat inexplicably, she does, just in time for the apocalypse. Desperate times, I guess. She performs an incredibly complex spell, one that took her beyond the darkness into the light.
Now, the potentials. This spell put an end to Buffy’s sole superpower status, once and for all. No longer can the Buffmeister take unilateral action because she’s stronger and knows best (that pesky superiority complex that she had an inferiority complex about). She’s decided to share her power, to use it to create allies that are equally strong. The potentials all had to make a choice about power. Of course, they willingly took it. But what about the other potential Slayers? Did they also choose to accept the power, or was it foisted upon them? And if it was foisted upon them, then is Buffy really so different from the Shadow Men who started the Slayer line? The only palatable conclusion that one can reach (and I wish it had been clarified in the episode) is that every potential Slayer had a choice. She could choose to use her power. Or not.
But really, one mustn’t read this too literally. The whole creation of multiple Slayers thing was a not-too-subtle empowerment message from Joss to the women watching the show. The power is within. Every girl can be a Slayer (metaphorically speaking, of course). They too can be strong and the future is full of endless possibilities, stretching out before them like so much . . . raw cookie dough.
Ultimately, however, the Slayer’s plan was unsuccessful. Yes, that’s right. I said unsuccessful. Whatdaha? you might ask, channeling Xander-speak. Sure, empowering the Slayers was a brilliant idea, and it made for a wicked cool fight scene (one that apparently didn’t cool my own shoe cravings, as I went out and bought three pairs the day after the show). But it didn’t stop the hordes of Ubervamps. Nor would it have stopped the apocalypse.
While each character had an important role to play (Willow, the witch; Xander, the stalwart sidekick; Giles, the reformed father; Dawn, the watcher-in-training; Faith, the hopeful penitent; Wood, the former revenger; Anya, the lover of humanity; Andrew, the spinner of tales), it really was all about the empowerment of Spike. Buffy chose him as her champion, and it was up to him to save the world.
And he did. A lot. Right down to the Sunnydale sign falling into the chasm where the town used to be. Yeah, he died a glorious death, saving the humans, that, like Anya, he’d grown to love. Humans. Not just Buffy. They made that clear when Buffy told him she loved him, and, clear-eyed, he knew it wasn’t true (although it may have been, but, for the purposes of the story, he had to believe it wasn’t). Why? Because Joss wanted to demonstrate that Spike had transcended his fool for love status. He didn’t want to save the world because of Buffy. He wanted to save the world because it was the right thing to do.
And he was effulgent. And he was completely redeemed. His soul poured out of him as light, amplified by the scrubbing bubbles of the amulet. He purified the Hellmouth.
In every other season, Buffy saved the world. And this season she did, too, albeit indirectly. Because she was wise enough to trust Spike with the amulet, to recognize that he was a champion. And, as I pointed out last week, the series ending wasn’t All About Buffy. It was All About Spike. The torch passed to a new protagonist.
Who, I suspect, will show up on A: TS as a human, fully shanshued. Let’s look at the prophecy, shall we?
The vampire with a soul, once he fulfils his destiny, will shanshu [live and die, that is, become mortal].... And if the beast shall find thee, and touch thee, thou shall be wounded in thy soul, and thou shall know madness, and the beast shall attack and cripple thee, and thou shalt know neither friend nor family. But thou shalt undo the beast... and thou shalt be restored.... Even as life and death are not two things but one. In darkness is the light, in light is the darkness.
Well, we saw most of this already. Spike was mad at the beginning of the season and was completely isolated. The beast found him, wounded him by making him kill, kidnapped him and tortured him (crippled him). But Spike undid the beast and "shall be restored." Come on, we know he will.
The question is how will Spike react if he becomes human? He had all that lovely power for so many years. Will he consider being a weak human a gift or a curse? Angel will certainly be jealous, but, we must remember, even Angel rejected the gift of humanity in "I Will Remember You." When he was human, he felt as though he couldn’t be a champion. Will Spike feel the same way? Will he and Angel wrassle it out, once and for all (with oil involved?) Stay tuned.
As I noted above, some of the plot threads were a bit dangly. We never found out what Beljoxa’s eye meant about the weakness in the Slayer line and the balance being out of whack because of Buffy’s resurrection. Was this just the reason why the First could gather an army? Because of Buffy’s friends’ involvement with black mojo and deer slaying? It’s possible. I assume that Joyce was really the First Evil, but we’ll never really know for sure. I assume that Buffy will go off to bake her cookie dough as an independent woman, unfettered by Angel or Spike shippage. I assume that Spike wasn’t even tempted for a moment to go to the dark side after witnessing the Angel and Buffy kissage. I assume that Willow will dump Kennedy’s ass in a few weeks, tongue stud or no. (That last one just makes me happy). I guess that Almost-First-Evil Giles was actually the Real Giles—he just acted like a jerk for most of the year for no apparent reason (hey, someone had to represent the evil patriarchy!). Joss tried to smooth this over with one dialogue exchange between Buffy and Giles, as he praises her plan as "bloody brilliant" and Buffy acknowledges that she does want his opinion. Yes, some things were glanced over that should have been accorded more time. But what can you do, in one short hour?
Other things were addressed more successfully. Faith and Wood have a poignant scene. I actually wondered if these two crazy kids might make a go of it! Buffy and her friends and family also do some reconnecting before the final showdown. A potentially fraught situation between Dawn and Buffy is resolved with a simple, half-hearted kick in the shins. With that action, Dawn demonstrated how much she has grown up. No tantrums. No shrieking. Just a teasing reminder that Buffy shouldn’t make decisions for her. Then, there was the reassertion of the friendship among the core Scoobs. As they go into the school the four that started it all (Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles) stand awkwardly together, not sure what to say. Buffy breaks the silence, wondering what they’re going to do after the apocalypse. Ah, still laughing in the face of death. The foursome fall easily into their teenaged banter—back to the beginning, indeed, right down to Giles’s "The earth is doomed." And that’s what the mall discussion at the end was about, too. It’s not that Xander didn’t mourn Anya’s death, or that Buffy didn’t realise the import of Spike’s sacrifice. The Scoobs have always used gallows humour to get them through difficult situations. Not a bad strategy, really. But one shouldn’t mistake their flippant remarks for callousness. If anything, they feel too much (see Seasons 1-3, in particular).
The Angel/Buffy snoggage was resolved humorously, although it did smack a bit of cake-having and eating it too. I particularly enjoyed Angel’s reaction to Spike’s souled-up status. "I started it. The whole having the soul. Before it was all the cool new thing." Hee. It’ll be fun to see Angel & Spike together next year. They have so many messy issues to resolve. But, while Angel may get a chance to sort things out with Spike, he doesn’t get the resolution with Buffy that he craves. She rejects him as a champion and sends him packing to L.A. to set up a line of defense. He also doesn’t get the answer he wants in regards to their future relationship. When he wonders if they’ll ever be together, her response is fairly lukewarm: "It’ll be a long time coming. Years, if ever." Just enough to keep B/A shippers dangling. Naughty, Joss.
Likewise, any Buffy/Spike shippers were probably disappointed. What? No kiss? And all that cutting to black! I personally, didn’t mind (but I’m not really a Buffy/Spike shipper, so that’s probably why). Buffy and Spike had an exceedingly complex relationship, right down to the wire. They also had a deep connection with each other. So I didn’t really care about the lack of kissing and sex-having. Plus, Joss told us that it wasn’t about the ships this year. It was about Girl Power. And it was. That, and redemption. Spike’s redemption. That’s what I really wanted all along. And I got it.