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From Msnbc.com

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Farewell to the Hellmouth

By Lori Smith

Monday 26 May 2003, by Webmaster

’Buffy’ finale not perfect, but fitting sendoff

May 21 - Not every question was answered. (What happened to the First Evil, anyway?) Not every plot twist made sense. (Willow spread the Slayer power how exactly?) And not every favorite character was brought back from the dead for one last ghost cameo. But the series finale of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Tuesday night did bring back something perhaps more important: a reminder of why so many viewers fell in love with the show in the first place.

FEEL SURE that a "Buffy" fan (probably more than one) is even now compiling a list of problems with this episode, starting with its name, "Chosen", a reference to the finale’s biggest plot development. Buffy, as the series used to drum into our head, was the "chosen" one of her generation, the Slayer. When the Slayer died, according to the mythology, another one arose. Earlier this season, dozens of potential Slayers began arriving in Sunnydale and Buffy and her friends had been training them to fight. In the finale, however, Buffy tells the potentials that they should forget the one true slayer myth and choose to become the real thing themselves. It’s not really clear that they actually choose anything. Instead, Willow the Good Witch taps into the powers of a sort of Slayer Excalibur, granting all the potentials full Slayer Strength. In other plot holes, the First Evil’s plan is revealed to be paper-thin, the übervamp minions are suddenly easy to kill and many people who were stabbed seem to survive just fine for no particular reason.

Many fans will likely bemoan the deaths of Anya, Xander’s on-and-off-again girlfriend, or Spike, Buffy’s on-and-off again vampire lover. Personally, I liked the symmetry of having former demons Anya and Spike being the ones to die, though Xander did seem to take Anya’s death a bit lightly. It also was nice to see Spike finally realize a purpose larger than that of being in love with Buffy. And I was relieved that the returning Angel, the original vampire love of Buffy’s life, didn’t dominate the episode as previews had suggested he might.

ESSENTIAL MESSAGE But what really sold me on the "Buffy" finale was the return of the heart and the wit that have been creator Joss Whedon’s calling card these past seven years. He wrote and directed this episode, and it showed. These were the Scoobies we know and love: Buffy, growing up enough to realize that she doesn’t need a relationship in her life right now, but still silly enough to use a terrible cookie-dough analogy to explain it to Angel. Willow, nervous as ever about her power but then reveling in it. After tapping into the Big Sword of Slayer Power, she says "That was nifty." Xander, going too far with his enthusiasm after a key evil henchman is killed and sheepishly admitting "Sometimes I shouldn’t say words." Buffy’s mentor Giles, playing Dungeons and Dragons in a scene that is one of the episode’s best: "I used to be a highly respected Watcher. Now I’m a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily." Advertisement

Even secondary characters had nice moments, whether it was Faith the Other Slayer getting a quiet slapdown from her latest one-night stand; Anya using her hatred of bunnies to motivate her to fight; Dawn, Buffy’s sister, telling her enough with the dramatic speeches already; or nerdy former villain Andrew’s quiet angst at the end, asking why he didn’t die. This was the show fans know and love. Whedon hearkened back to some of the series’ best moments not just in his script, but in his direction. I was most struck by the way the camera circling the original Gang of Four just before they went into the Hellmouth echoed the shots in the Season Four episode "Primeval," in which the characters joined forces mystically. And even if some of the one-liners seemed forced or out of place, particularly toward the end ("We destroyed the mall? I fought on the wrong side"), the essential message of "Chosen" was entirely in keeping with the Buffy ethos: Growing up is hard, but possible. Our friends are what sustain us. And we all have more power than we know. It’s fitting that when Xander remarks "We saved the world," Willow reminds him that they’ve done something much more powerful: "We’ve changed the world," she says.