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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

The First and The Apocalypse : Where Do We Go From Here ?

Cindy Bedrick & Jen Farnworth & Tanya Marsh

Thursday 2 January 2003, by Webmaster

Tanya: We are now nine episodes into the seventh season. Can you believe it? The weeks have flown by, yet so much has happened, I feel like we are much further along in the season. Since we still have to wait a few days for the next new episode, I thought we could take a few moments to reflect on what has happened thus far in the season and where the show might take us.

Let’s start with the basics. Joss promised us that this season would take us "back to the beginning." In many ways it has - we’re back at Sunnydale High, a new master-type vampire has risen from the Hellmouth, all of the Scoobies are single. Obviously, though, in more significant ways, we can never go back. When I watch those early episodes, I am struck by how much these characters have grown and how much they have been hurt. In Season One, despite the threat of the Master rising, everyone had this great innocence about them. I don’t think that even Dawn has any innocence anymore. They all know what death is, they all know what pain and sacrifice are. They have all had their hearts broken (except perhaps Dawn). Our poor Scoobies! Yet throughout all the pain, there have been glimmers of hope. Xander’s crayon speech. Angel’s tender comfort in "Forever." Everything with Tara (except her death). After all, Buffy isn’t Faith.

But globally, how will Joss end it all (assuming that he does end it all)? At one point, it probably seemed like a good plan to kill Buffy in the final episode. But that just seems wrong now. She’s already sacrificed herself for the good of humanity. Can’t have her walk off into the sunset with Angel (for more than one reason) or even with Spike. I hope that this season will really be about mending the wounds that Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, and even Spike, Anya, and Dawn have inflicted on themselves and each other over the past few years. I want to see my Scoobies happy. But I have seen enough of Joss’ cruelty to know that probably won’t happen. What do you guys ! think? Will an apocalypse destroy Sunnydale and all we love? Or will we be subjected to the horrific vision of Dawn, the Vampire Slayer?

Cindy: I, too, long for a happy ending, but don’t really hold out hope of that occurring. I don’t think Joss will destroy Sunnydale, but I don’t think he will let them all ride off into the sunset. The ultimate (for me) would be to see Buffy and Angel reunite and ride off to raise Dawn in a place that isn’t the Hellmouth. Alas, the horror of the spin-off prevents this joy. I am afraid the ending will instead be the killing of Faith and then the calling of another slayer, which brings me to the dreaded, Dawn, the Vampire Slayer. Have you noticed how they have been having more and more Dawn kicking ass scenes? This had better not be foreshadowing b/c I clearly don’t approve.

Actually, it seems to me that the most likely scenario is the death of Faith and then perhaps an attempted spin-off with a new Slayer, although I really think Joss has enough on his plate. I see Buffy leaving Sunnydale with Dawn to live a life of peace. I don’t have a prediction on the Scoobies, except that I can’t really see any future for Spike. The Powers That Be have really done all they can with him. I can’t envision a happily-ever-after type ending for him, so I am thinking sacrifice to save the world.

Tanya: I think you’re probably right - Faith will die and a new Slayer will be called. Maybe Buffy will get to take a vacation? Perhaps these proto-slayers are giving Joss a chance to audition prospective spin-off gals with his audience. Maybe Spike and Faith will both die? A chance to finally be heroes? I know that you don’t watch "Angel," but I am really excited about the inevitability that the "Buffy" and "Angel" apocalypse storylines are going to converge, if only around Faith’s appearance on both shows. I miss Faith. I’ll be sad if they kill her.

Jen : I’m not really sure about how Joss can end this without being untrue to either his characters! or his audience. This suggests to me that Joss should not end the show and Sarah Michelle Gellar must be forced to stay. I would like to see Buffy and Spike happy together and run off into the sunset (or moonset, given his vamp status) but this is both unlikely and wrong in Buffdom. The problem I see is that Buffy would never give it all up and run away - whenever she has given up before it has been a bad thing and she’s always come back fighting. I also don’t think a happy ending is true to the show in general anyway. The only way to be true to the character is for Buffy to die fighting and for her friends to leave her (after season six would you ever risk bringing her back) but this isn’t true to the audience as we have seen Buffy come back from the dead twice already. And we also want her to remain the hardest Slayer we have ever seen. It has been suggested to me that Buffy will have to switch bodies with someone thus we have Buffy still but no SMG. I don’t like that though - it’s a cop out a la ’Sunset Beach’ (which I loved by the way) I like the idea of Faith coming back, but I don’t really want her to die. What about ’Faith the Vampire Slayer’? Hey it’s better than Dawn.

Tanya : Okay, moving on to more timely speculative topics - what do you make of the First? What is this thing’s plan? Going back to "Amends," I still wonder what the purpose of its episode with Angel was. It appeared to intend to manipulate Angel into killing Buffy and losing his soul, but was content to let Angel kill himself. But to what end? To simply cause trouble, or was that a first attempt at the plan that we are now watching unfold? And what are we to gather from its actions this year? It manipulated Andrew and Jonathan into uncovering the Seal of Danthazar (which, as I think Cindy pointed out earlier this year, even Xander’s construction crew should have been able to uncover), and Andrew into opening it. It has tried to manipulate Spike into either killing Buffy or killing himself, or both, or getting Buffy ! to kill Spike. It has tried to get Willow to kill herself. It has perhaps tried to turn Dawn against Buffy. What’s the point of all of these manipulations? I think it is likely that the "vampire with a soul" prophecies could apply to either Spike or Angel and that one key to defeating the First will be through one or both of those characters. That would help to explain why the First wanted/wants them to be evil or dead. Buffy is obviously central too, and it appears that the First either fears Willow’s abilities, although it could have just wanted to mess with her. I wonder if the "First" will haunt Angel again?

I guess the fundamental questions are - (1) does the First want to bring about the apocalypse? It certainly appears so, especially if "The Beast" terrorizing Los Angeles is connected to the destruction of the Watchers’ Council and the rise of the big bad vampire in Sunnydale. And (2) is there a countervailing force in the universe, besides Buffy and her friends, that will rally to stop it. What are The Powers That Be going to do about this? Is this why Cordelia has been returned to Los Angeles? And what does all of this have to do with Connor? I’m sorry, Cindy and Mike, I tried to stay away from "Angel," but it’s all just too interrelated.

Cindy: I have a vague notion of the going-ons of "Angel" and I do see the connectedness, which brings up the rumors of a return of Angelus on "Angel." Now if this is to occur, does he go torment Buffy or is he more bitter at Cordelia, who Angel recently "loved"? B/c the former brings up the possibility of an actual cross-over, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Joyce’s funeral. I will admit to knowing nothing of Connor and even worse, not caring, b/c he got on my last nerve (which might explain my not watching of "Angel"). I like the idea that this is a continuation of whatever was started in "Amends," part of a big plan and all. It would make up for the lack of fun big plan last year (Willow destroys the world was a little too predic! table). I think unfortunately our little jaunt into speculation has produced more questions than answers, but I suppose that’s why we watch the show (a little shout-out to ESPN’s "Primetime," which I would be surprised if most people got).

Tanya: That seems like a perfect lead-on to some kind of Mike comment. Unfortunately, Mike is kinda swamped with his real job this week, but he asked me to pass along his observation that unless "Angel" is cancelled, which is unlikely, the one thing that we can be certain of is that the Apocalypse will not come on either show. Unless Joss has thought of a way to destroy Sunnydale while sparing Los Angeles. Given that the hellfire on "Angel" is currently contained in L.A., however, that isn’t a completely impossible scenario.

One more thing I’d like to throw out there that came up during lunch yesterday (Mike and I tore ourselves away from our respective work-type "emergencies" to grab a little grub). Mike, who doesn’t have the benefit of watching seasons three through and including six, asked what the relationship between the Watchers’ Council and the Slayers is and how it was that Faith was "called" after Kendra’s death. My point of view, although much of this is speculation because it has never been explained fully on the show, is that the source of the Slayers’ power is supernatural and that the process of "calling" a new Slayer is that a normal girl is suddenly transformed into a girl with great quickness, strength, and other nifty Slayer-skills. Recall that Buffy had those skills, albeit in the rough, when she was approached by her first Watcher (see both Angel’s flashbacks in "Becoming" and the movie) but she didn’t know about her role as a Slayer. Contrast this with Kendra, who I believe remarked that she had been trained since the time that she was a little girl because her "people" knew about the Slayers. I think that the Watchers’ Council is a human attempt to control the supernatural Slayers. So it monitors what it sees as likely candida! tes for Slayerhood (how, we have no idea) and watches them. When one Slayer dies, it then searches for the one who has been called, as opposed to doing the calling. Any power that the Watchers’ Council has over the Slayers exists because the Slayers allow them to have that power. Buffy recognized this reality when she quit the Council. As I recall, she didn’t quit being a Slayer, she just quit the Council. Watchers can obviously be of great help to Slayers, as Giles has been to Buffy - a recurrent theme is that she wouldn’t be the Slayer she is, and obviously wouldn’t still be alive, if it wasn’t for her friends and her father-figure. I think all of this is relevant now because although it’s a setback that the Watchers’ Council has been obliterated (and I will miss Quentin’s imperious little ways), the Slayer is still with us, and hopefully her Watcher is as well.

Angel: "Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what’s left?" Buffy: "Me."

Jen : Excellent quote - I love that line. I also think it is a perfect example of what the First is trying to do - previously it tried to take Angel, Buffy’s most powerful ally of the time, now it’s gone for Spike and Willow. It’s tried Giles and has now taken the Watchers (not much use as people, but an amazing resource in terms of knowledge). It clearly wants the Slayer alone. It’s emphasis has always appeared to be mental, rather than physical torture and it is probably aware of how much Buffy’s mates mean to her both as personal and powerful acquaintances. Notice that the First has so far left Xander and Anya alone, attacking Spike and Willow for their strength and Dawn for her personal relationship to Buffy ; remember Season Five "If Dawn dies I’m quitting." It’s forte is attacking from the inside and letting the emotional torture do it’s work for it - not a radical interpretation of "From beneath you it devours." It’s certainly no worse than "It eats you, starting with your bottom." (I miss Jonatha! n and Andrew.)

A quick note on the Slayer/Council ideas - It’s a bit of a grey area to me too but I generally hold onto the idea that the calling is supernatural but the Watchers monitor the supernatural. I don’t like the idea of the slayers-in-training at all but occasionally one has to suspend reality (all these monsters and demons and we suspend reality here). I would also like to draw your attention to Season Five’s ’Checkpoint’ where the Council return after Buffy has quit and Buffy really kicks ass. It highlights the whole Slayer/Watcher relationship and it’s a really great episode, especially the sword throwing.

Anyway before I pass back to you, Tanya, I have one more thing. I think that the First has made a massive mistake ignoring Anya. Even without her powers as a vengeance demon she has more knowledge and experience of the supernatural than any of them due to her age. I hate speculating about the show in terms of the cast’s contracts, but given that Emma Caulfield has not renewed her contract, I predict a dramatic sacrifice to save the world and atone for Anyanka’s sins. (Cindy: Has everyone else signed on for a Season 8?-although Emma has been more public about it, I don’t think they’ve got everyone else so I am not sure that I think it is more likely that Anya will die than anyone else, although I do think that she has progressed to sacrifice herselfness, as witnessed by the Anya-centric ep, which was pretty good.) Over to you Tanya.

Tanya: It would certainly complete Anya’s redemption if she sacrificed herself to save the world. One problem, well, I’m not sure it’s a problem, but one reality about BtVS, is that so many characters have committed so many massive sins that sacrificing themselves to save the world is really the only way to atone (i.e. Spike, Angel, Anya, Faith). I don’t foresee a mass suicide in the season/series finale, but you never know.

Jen : That’s one of the major problems I have with the possible ending of the show (that and the ! fact that I’ll have no life, anyway) There is no solution that is true to the way the show has progressed in the past. Buffy is the Slayer - she is the strongest slayer ever (testified by both Angel and Spike) and she has never let death slow her down. Therefore she can’t die. However any other ending just doesn’t seem conceivable - if there was a cheesy happy ending wouldn’t you just feel cheated? However, I have to put my blind faith in Joss Whedon as he’s never failed to surprise me yet. Lets just hope he keeps up his grand tradition! I can’t wait to find out anyway.

Tanya: Anyway, I think we’ve raised a lot of interesting questions here. As always, I invite our readership to send tanya@the-buzz.com their comments and theories. Coming soon to the buzz - a formal message board system that will allow readers to post their theories and invite responses!