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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Peter David Reviews 7ABB22 ’Chosen.’

Monday 26 May 2003, by Webmaster

Well, THAT was epic.

Spoilers follow...

A major female empowerment story that drove the series to an eminently satisfying thematic conclusion. Just...not entirely blown away by the elements that got us there.

What I liked: Dialogue. Thank God. Everyone sounds identifiably like themselves again. Even though the first half suffered from stand-around-and-talk-itis, at least this time out I was more than happy to listen to it. Everything from the throwaways (Giles repeating his "The world is doomed" from the end of the second half of the pilot) to the self-deprecating ("Once I was a respected watcher; now I’m a wounded dwarf with the magic level of a doiley) to witticism ("Get out of my face") to, most particularly, Willow sounding like Willow ("That was nifty!") to the poignant ("I love you." "No you don’t, but thanks for saying it") indicated that Whedon was at the helm. Although I’m getting so keyed into his set-ups and punchlines that when Spike said "You don’t need your tongue to say hello," I immediately said, "Well, yeah, you do," and then Spike blinked and said much the same. And Wood’s principal-like introduction to Sunnydale high as he led the way was priceless.

Buffy taking charge, and doing so so confidently that the Wanna-Slays literally follow her into hell. Quite a change considering a few weeks ago.

Ending with a bang. Well, we saw it coming. Although there was no story reason for it, everyone in Sunnydale cleared out, clearly signalling the town was toast by season’s end. Still, if you’re going to top blowing up the school, that’s the way to do it.

Dawn lightly kicking Buffy in the shin and their exchange. Easily Dawn’s best moment in a season in which even Whedon admitted she got short shrift.

Caleb’s demise. As Bill Mumy would say, Ouch, babe. For someone who considered Buffy an emasculating bitch, demises don’t come any more aptly than that.

Wood didn’t get eaten, making that a first for Sunnydale principals.

What I didn’t like:

You say one deus ex machina isn’t enough? You say you want two? You got it!

It bugged me back in season 5 when the Scoobys pulled a spell out of their butt to defeat Adam, but it made thematic sense and it also set up the wonderful following episode. Here, Willow briefly goes cosmic and, boom, all the Slayer-be’s become Slayer-ares, as does every other girl with a smidgen of potential (although granted, I want to see that little girl with the baseball bat in action.) I’m not entirely certain WHY Willow had to wait until Buffy & Co. were in the midst of danger before empowering. I can come up with a few rationalizations, but I kind of wish we’d simply been told.

But that’s not all. A doo-dad which we’ve never heard of is given to Angel who gives it to Buffy who gives it to Spike, like a social disease. And it Just So Happens that said doo-dad is a major element in the destruction of the Hellmouth, even though no one knows what it is, how it’s going to work, if it’s going to work, what’s required to make it work, etc. It’s like planning the invasion of Normandy armed with weapons you’ve never seen, the instructions for which are written in Aramaic (yes, yes, I know Giles can read Aramaic, that’s not the point). With a storyline that seemed remarkably padded over the last ten episodes, we couldn’t have found time to build in a story arc in which they themselves acquire the doo-dad? Because if the object was to work in Angel for five minutes, they could certainly have come up with another reason.

No explanation for Giles acting out of character. No explanation for why, if the First simply wanted to destroy the Slayers, he didn’t just blow up Buffy’s house. If it was good enough for the Watcher’s council...

In sum, an ambitious episode that succeeded more than it failed, made some important points about taking charge of one’s life, and brought the series to a satisfactory conclusion...and considering the many series that fail to achieve that, it’s no small accomplishment. I just wish that more thought had been given to breaking down the overall season so the story arc would seem less hodgepodge and not feel so much as if they were—as Whedon himself said—coming up with plot twists just to have plot twists.


From Boilsandblindingtorment.com :

In this very final installment of Buffy, Buffy wears heels to the final battle, Willow and Kennedy continue to be the most forced couple on the planet, Vi is the least annoying character in a battle scene, I do not get the Scooby moments I crave, Faith utters the dumbest line of the episode "ease off, we’re clear" while Willow gets the most annoying with her "we changed the world. I can feel them…" schtick, Anya dies a bizarrely abrupt and mundane death and nothing is actually explained. Which I suppose is how it happens more often than not, but it was more than a bit whack.

So then, the actual plot? Buffy, after sending Angel packing to LA [after a whole "I just want to bask, blah blah blah" routine and "explainy?" Who the hell says "explainy"? I know Joss is real proud of making up his own language, much in the manner of Shakespeare, but somehow, I don’t think "explainy" is going to make it into the general population except possibly with moms of preschool age children.] with a painful cookie dough analogy to mull over and a promise of future nookie when she’s ready to be eaten after she chops Caleb in two while dressed in a sassy yet practical number of cargo pants, jean jacket and flats, decides that —

[—Wait, wait, wait. I know that ST likes to pretend the whole Buffy/Angel and Buffy/Spike fanfic moments didn’t actually happen, and I know denial helps dull the pain, but it is, after all, our duty to mock, and it doesn’t get much more mockable than this. First, we’ve got the:

"You can’t be here with me now even though I just attacked your lips; maybe we can never be together but it’s possible, years from now. Years! Don’t give up hope!"

"Oh, Buffy. Even hope for years from now is something! Even though I can smell that Spike on you. I hope you don’t love him forever now. I know how you have a thing for vampires with souls!"

"Oh, I’m still half-baked, I’m not ready for anyone to eat me just yet. I mean, well last season I so was, but now I realize I’m doughy and not yummy goodness."


And then soon after we get the "you have Angel breath; go away. No not really, that was just me being vulnerable and pouty. Come here! Hold me! No, you hold me!" Spike and Buffyathon. Very romantic, truly. Anyway, carry on.]

— the scythe is going to be used to share her power, though it’s really her and Faith’s power, with the Potentials. She sweetly informs them that she’s giving them a choice, but she’s not really. They get the power whether they want it or not. And really, who wouldn’t want it, right? So they take it, because it’s going to be given to them whether they like it or not, and then saying no to going down to hell would just seem a bit gauche, no? And who’s going to stand up and say hey, no thanks in a room full of people whose hair you’ve been braiding for months? So these people all accept their fate, just because some maybe-genetic freak accident singled them out as potential stabees. Fine.

[—And see, I have to interrupt here too. Because they do that whole suspense thing that they’ve become so fond of lately, where the characters talk around something and they’re all serious and dramatic but we don’t actually know what in the hell they’re talking about. We’re just supposed to be all curious and ooh, aah, what could it be, but really we’re just oh whatever, tell us or not. Like we even care anymore. And then when we see what they were talking about, we get a flashback to the part of the speech that we missed before that fills in the details. You know the type of thing I’m talking about. Like in The Gift, when Buffy talks to Dawn about the big swan dive of death, but we don’t actually see that part of the speech until actual said dive. And in whatever hell episode that was where Buffy, Willow, and Xander do that handy ESP to talk about Andrew’s healing hellmouth tears.

So, this time, it’s the slayer power sharing extravaganza. They already know they can do it, what with the whole two slayers no waiting deal, so they figure why not get all the girls in on it. If the scary shadow puppet men can give the power to one, surely Willow can give the power to all. With the scythe. Maybe Buffy got all this from the old cryptic woman who got her neck broked last week. But all she seemed to babble on about was how she was so old and guardian-like. Good thing the plan worked or we could have seen fun potential soup. Where they got the spell, I dunno, and in fact, the spell seems to consist of a few candles and Willow saying "oh goddess" and going blonde.

And they decide the cool thing to do is head down to the school. To the hellmouth. Where all the orcs, I mean ubies are. And even though there are millions of ubies, and maybe 30 girls, they will be slayer girls, so they can win. Even though Buffy, with years and years of slayer experience, found it hard to hold her own against one.

And speaking of this hellmouth, I have some questions. First, what happened to all those Little Shop of Horrors plants that sprouted out every time it was opened before? You know those things that Willow has nightmares about fighting when she’s naked and hasn’t studied for a test. And also, since when did the seal stop operating as an ubie pez dispenser that popped out an ubie every time it opened? Now they can just open the seal and march down some stairs? And another thing, where were all these ubies all the times the hellmouth opened before? Were they in some cosmic battle with the Andrey II plants and finally got the upper hand?

So anyway, they get to the school and all the potentials get ready to go in. All the "civilians" (aka those who don’t get the fun slayer power) get to guard the halls in case some ubies manage to escape. Because you can’t leave ordinary people with no special powers out of the ubie-killing fun!]

But, see, other people get it too [In case my long rant made you lose your place, the "it" would be the slayer power, due to the aforementioned "oh goddess" blonde ambition spell]. All over the world. [So much for the First’s plan of getting rid of all the potentials and then killing the active slayer(s). Seems like every girl in the world might just have the potential within her. And possibly there’s a message there about girl power but I’m too tired to see it.] Setting us up for the horror of the Scooby gang traversing the world in a yellow school bus (and don’t think I’m not having horrible Roswell flashbacks here), stopping every few towns to ask random girls if they feel oddly strong today, and if so, how do they feel about kicking undead ass? What are you going to say? "Hey, thanks for the power, that’s great, but I’ve got other shit to do?" Like Buffy would let you get away with that. She’d follow you around and sermonize until you just couldn’t handle it one. more. fucking. time. Much like us this season!

Sadly we didn’t see Caleb get halved [In case you’ve forgotten who Caleb is, due to my ramblings, he was the serial killer priest last seen alive in the first scene of this episode, way up there in the first paragraph, during the Buffy/Angel fanficarama], presumably because they blew their entire budget on a final battle that wasn’t nearly as painful as it could’ve been but way more than it should’ve been. We had people leaping around on wires and people charging into battle without weapons and we had tons of Ubies-who, you will be glad to know, can now apparently get their asses kicked by anybody, as demonstrated by Giles and Wood knocking them willy-nilly with a few well placed kicks and by the easy dusting that occurs down in the Hellmouth. Apparently the more you make, the thinner their hides become. Which makes perfect sense. As does their wielding of swords. They just had ’em, you know, laying about the Hellmouth. And they’ve always shown such an understanding for the finer elements of the sport. They’re really quite fabulous chaps, once you get to know them. Which is hard to do, when you’re chopping off their heads and they’re sticking you through the gut while your back’s turned. Hey, nobody said this was cricket. [Right. Where were those magic swords when Buffy, she of slayer strength couldn’t even budge these guys? And now Anya can dust three of ’em in one swoosh?]

How Buffy thought she and a handful of teenagers were going to kill every single Ubie in the hellmouth is truly beyond me. How that many Ubies got there and no one knew a thing about it is just one of those things we have to ignore. Much like that question I had to stop pondering long ago because it was driving me mad: why does Buffy insist on wearing good clothes into battle? Where are her overalls of sadness? Her Doc Martens of Emotional Anguish? See? Some things you just can’t ponder.

While the girls and Spike, who has decided he’s a champion since Buffy booted Angel and while I’m on the subject of these three, I’m going to say that I liked the drawing of Angel that Spike taped to his punching bag. I may want it. But that’s another story. [Maybe they’ll put it up on eBay! -SP] Spike wears the really ugly deux ex machina brought over from Angel, which just means ME couldn’t figure out how to write themselves out of the proverbial corner they painted themselves into, much like John Candy literally did in that Summer Rental movie he did, and it is almost as hideously annoying as the snow. You know, the stupid snow? [Oh, we may have not mentioned the deux ex machina pendant earlier. See, Angel brought it with him when he thought he was going to fight side by side with Buffy, then be her snugglebunny forever. He wasn’t sure what it was or what it did, just that it had to be worn by someone who a) had a soul b) was more than human and c) (our favorite) was a champion. He thought he fit the bill pretty well, but he didn’t realize that Joss had run out of new plot lines and made recycled old scripts using Spike in Angel’s place. Anyway, Spike is wearing the Pendant of Power. Carry on.]

So the deux around Spike’s neck starts aglowin’ [we never find out why, where it came from, or what or how powers it, by the way] and the cave starts a tumblin’ down and the girls all start a runnin’ out. Buffy stays behind to tell Spike she loves him and to give him one last look at her doeful, crying eyes to take to hell with him. [Don’t forget the part where they hold hands and their hands catch on fire! From the power of their love! Like a Bryan Adams song! And he says she really doesn’t love him, but he’s glad to hear it anyway before he crumbles into skeletal dust.]

She then runs across the rooftops of the crumbling city and I find myself screaming at Buffy to kick off the heels. I don’t care of they’re Manolos, it’s the sensible thing to do when a city is dropping into the earth right behind you, yes? She leaps atop the bus [Note that only moments earlier she had been stabbed through the back, seemingly dead, but her wound has mysteriously healed such that she can now leap and run and straddle the roofs of speeding buses!] that the surviving girls and Scoobs are in and damned if that lot doesn’t still count Kennedy among the living. They stop at the end of the Hellmouth and promptly start joking, ignoring the death and destruction they just left in their wake. It’s all very touching.

[Also the touching Faith and Wood moment where she thinks he’s dead and starts to close his eyes and he says "surprise!" and she’s all, "hey earlier when you said you’d surprise me after this was over, I was thinking more handcuffs and whip cream, yo."

And then the also touching Xander/Andrew moment where Xander wants to know how Anya died and Andrew says it was protecting him and Xander’s all, yeah, that Anya, she always was dumb. Speaking of Anya’s death, could we get any less of a scene? We get seemingly hours of Buffy pacing the floor while Spike speaks, waiting for the First to show up as her and give her the epiphany that she can win, and yet we get approximately 1/10000 of a second of a far away figure that might possibly be Anya if we squint hard enough, or maybe a cardboard cutout left over from a convention being maybe stabbed or sliced with something and falling over. Thanks for that touching scene.]

Speaking of the Hellmouth [I believe ST was speaking of it before I interrupted her with another long rant], there’s another one in Cleveland! How fabulous is that? I assume it’s dormant, though, considering the world hasn’t ended from that direction in the last seven years. I’m not going to dwell, though. I’m going to pat the writers on the back and give them props for remembering The Wish episode. Ah, The Wish. That was a good episode…

[Yeah, let’s go back and watch that one again so we can actually see some core Scooby interaction again. You know, I see that Joss tried, sort of, to give us that moment. But let’s face it. It was a pretty crappy moment. There were better Buffy/Willow/Xander/Giles moments in throwaway scenes in a hundred episodes. And this one should have mattered. It was the last one we’ll ever get. But I do appreciate the effort. What of it there was. Which I guess sums up my feelings on this entire season.]

From Slayage.com :

In a word: Perfect. Loose ends were tied up masterfully. Some were left peeking out for future spin-offs. The last scene was thought provoking and tear inducing. There were deaths, none were arbitrary, and each was meaningful in its own way. Of course I am talking about the series finale, "Chosen", one last masterstroke from Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon.

Right now as I write this, I’m an hour and four minutes removed from The End. The curtains didn’t close on a kiss. They closed on a beautiful smirk, displaying to us the reason that this show existed.

Today, to commemorate the final episode of Buffy, I wore a Buffy T-Shirt that I bought during the second season, and I chose an episode at complete random to watch (it turned out to be "Consequences"). Today was a great day.

There will be those that complain. I don’t know what they’ll say. Maybe they’ll wonder why Willow didn’t have a bigger part, or they’ll gripe over the deaths of Anya and Spike. Perhaps they’ll contemplate the lack of Angel in the episode. But I thought everything was perfect. From Spike’s glorious sacrifice to Joss’s beautifully executed homage to the final line of "The Harvest", this episode satisfied me to the utmost degree.

And the performances of all people, Tom Lenk as Andrew brought the major tears to my eyes with his comments both in the school and on the bus afterward. And Nicholas Brendon once again proved why he is the best young actor working in television today with his reaction to Andrew’s speech. Sarah Michelle Gellar gave her most nuanced performance in years with her uniquely Emmy-worthy acting. There was so much greatness to go around in this episode.

Joss Whedon truly delivered again both in the writing and directing departments. Every line of dialogue truly flowed and I’m still convinced that he’s the only writer that can make Xander sound how he’s meant to sound. In the directing department, I think we need only look at his pan-and-scan in Angel’s scene after the teaser, or his overhead shot of Buffy running across the rooftop of the school building.

James Marsters, brilliant always, gave perhaps his best performance to date, living up to all of the hype that inevitably surrounds him due to his impossible good looks and equally impossible acting ability.

Alyson Hannigan gave her last performance on the show as well, and I refuse to forget her. She gave a nice understated performance in "Chosen" that spoke volumes about her character.

Eliza Dushku as Faith, D.B. Woodside as Robin Wood, even the usually less than worthy Iyari Limon as Kennedy, gave equally fine-tuned performances rising to the challenges that Joss gave to them with his final epic opus.

Gosh, this is far shorter than any of my other articles but that’s because I’m only writing about a single episode. "Chosen" is the last episode and, perhaps, the best. However, one thing is for sure. It was the perfect note to go out on. "What should we do now, Buffy’" And I smile at the thoughts rushing to my brain.

One last thing: Despite what many of you think, Slayage.com and my column along with it, will go on after "Chosen". Remember: The mind of Joss Whedon still exists and so does Angel.