Jun 10 2013 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: Beware of God

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Dawn

“The Gift,” by Joss Whedon

Zoom! As a special fannish gift, we get a little clip from everything that’s gone before! I call these blipverts—who gets the reference?

As “The Gift” opens, we’re still in the eye of the hurricane; things haven’t yet gotten apocalyptic with between Team Slayer and Glory. The story opens in the alley behind the Magic Box, with a disposable vamp of the week. It’s been a while since either we or Buffy has seen one of these, and it’s all so five years ago: the vamp hasn’t heard of her, and neither has its would-be victim.

“You’re just a girl,” the latter says, choking a little on his surprise at still being alive.

Ah, if only, thinks Buffy.

She returns to the store, where the Scoobies are hashing over the details of the ritual. Nothing good has broken there: the fact is that once Dawn’s bleeding, the hellverses open up and everything is doom, gloom and rain of fire until the kid has gasped her last.

Giles insists on raising the possibility that they kill Dawn. Buffy’s not up for that. “They made her out of me,” she says. I found this one of the most affecting monologues in the seven-series run.

Xander, by way of attempting to be positive, suggests they just kill Ben. Yay! We can do that, right? Then he’s appalled by himself. But he wants to live and not murder a child. That’s natural enough, right? Anya agrees, and is prepared to come up with real ideas, like using the Dagon sphere and arming Buffy with Olaf the Troll-god’s hammer. Tara’s contribution will be helping them find the ritual’s location.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Willow

Since by now the biggest weapon in the team gun rack is Willow, Buffy spends some time helping her get her nerve up.

Last minute chit-chat is also happening across town at the sacrificial tower. Here, it’s less about tactics and more about fashion statements and emotion. The minions are putting on their pretty robes. Ben is trying to get Dawn to dress up for her exciting death party and assuage his guilt by telling her comforting lies about how it won’t hurt. This leads Dawn to conclude that Ben is harder to take than Glory, who is at least up-front and honest about her evilness. She shrieks until Glory appears; when she does, her Effulgent Scrumptiousness brings her up to speed on the “Buffy will have to kill you if she wants to save Sunnydale” issue.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Ben

Neither Giles or Buffy really has the energy to be at odds, so they talk out their differences. She tells him, essentially, that she can’t sacrifice Dawn the way she did Angel. That she’s used up.

It’s fair. We loved her for killing Angel, but that was in part because Angelus went out of his way to make it necessary. Could anyone love her for slaughtering Dawn? Whatever one thinks of the sibling-as-sacrifice story, Sarah Michelle Gellar rocks these scenes. It’s bummerific, yes. The fun’s leached out of the Buffyverse—it’s not as darkly entertaining as seeing Buffy fight Faith, for example—but she is convincing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Giles

And after so many apocalypses, the conclusion she reaches seems utterly reasonable: “If Dawn dies, I’m quitting.”

Speaking of whom, Dawn does finally change into her ritual dress. (The alternative, one assumes, was getting forcibly changed by the scabby monks.) She folds up her old clothes and leaves them stacked, neatly, on a chair. It’s meant to be poignant and it works for me.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Dawn

The Gift takes time to give most of the Scoobies a few delightful little instants of connection. Now, as the time for the battle nears, XandAnya are taking a moment. Many of them, really. First a sex moment as they pretend to hunt for the Dagon Sphere in the basement, and then an ‘Eeek the Buffybot!’ moment and and a ‘Remember, Kids, Anya is afraid of Bunnies!’ bit. It all culminates in a lovely monologue about how much she loves him and doesn’t want him to die...

And then Xander asks Anya to marry him. Because, he says—when she slaps him for it—he believes they’re going to survive.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Xander, Anya

Buffy, of course, isn’t so sure. She heads back to Chez Summers with Spike for weapons and tells him they won’t all make it. She invites him back into the house and he tells her he knows he’s a monster. He also promises to protect Dawn to the end.

And that’s it for the pre-battle show! The Scoobies point Tara at the crazy-built ziggarut of Dawn Sacrifice and when Glory turns up, Willow reverses the GlorTara brain suck. It works: suddenly Glory needs a brain to eat. And there’s Buffy, saying, “Hey! Come and get mine.”

The Scoobies, more or less led by Spike, lay into the minions. Buffy tosses Glory the Dagon Sphere, which serves to make her even less effective in combat. WillTara get their sweet reunion in the midst of the battle. And it is sweet, though Willow’s “I will always find you,” is a bit of a stab to the heart, what with things to come.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Willow, Tara

Glory kicks the Slayer’s head off... and it’s the bot! Go Buffybot go!!

Xander’s thoroughly awesome contribution is to hit Glory with a wrecking ball.

Soon there are only a couple minutes left to go before it’s too late to do the ritual. And, wonder of wonders, Glory’s not up in the tower yet. Unfortunately, Doc is, and he’s only too happy to slice into poor little Dawnie.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Dawn, Doc

There’s a desperate rush to salvage the situation. WillTara telekinetically order Spike up the tower. He makes it, but Doc’s a little too much for him. He stabs him, tongues him (he did, I swear!) and tosses him down to the ground. Which is, in case we missed it, a long way down.

By now, Buffy is pounding the pudding out of Glory. Eventually she pummels her so hard she turns into Ben and leaves him gasping on the ground with a stern warning.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Glory

Giles isn’t willing to let it go at that. He tells Ben that Buffy shouldn’t have to pay for being merciful. In this moment, Giles is the ruthless evil-fighting pragmatist Quentin Travers of the Watchers Council can only dream of being: he makes the hard call and smothers Ben. Xander was right about that much: they could kill a normal guy. At least, one of them could.

Some of you were having an interesting conversation about this decision, several weeks back—about whether Giles was in the right to override Buffy’s decision on Ben. Was it disrespectful? Mutiny? Does it amount to ignoring her dying wish? Was it the right thing to do?

It would have been interesting to see how the two of them dealt with this in the alterno-verse where Buffy walked down from the tower with Dawn in her arms, where everything was puppies and kittens. How mad would she have been?  Me, I rather see Giles’s point. Ben didn’t ask for what happened to him, but he was no saint. In the end he betrayed Dawn to save his own skin. Also, he was pretty darned whiny. We’ve all probably wanted to smother characters for less. (I said characters. There’s no need to go checking up on my loved ones.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, Giles

By the time Buffy is up the tower, though, there’s no walking back down option. Dawn has started to bleed, and the walls of the universe are crumbling. She makes an attempt to jump off the tower—Dawn’s way nobler than Ben, it turns out—and Buffy stops her.

“It has to have the blood!” Dawn tells her.

This is when Buffy realizes what “Death is your gift,” means. She can die and save Dawn. And she can stop. She can save the world one last time and let someone else take over... or not. After the year she’s had, that would be a pretty seductive concept under any circumstance.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift

She says her goodbyes and sprints off the tower, falling through the portal, and as it’s happening we hear her final words to Dawn—the goodbye messages and expressions of love for the about-to-be-shattered Scoobies, and that last sentence, which’ll come up again, “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”

It’s a sad but fitting end for the Slayer. It was always the most likely outcome for her—this is what happens to the Chosen ones, right? Had the series ended here, it would have struck a note that was both tragic and hopeful.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift, headstone

But some of us just can’t let sleeping Slayers lie, am I right?


Next: The Reward for a Job Well Done is More Job

A.M. Dellamonica has tons of fiction up here on! Her ‘baby werewolf has two mommies,’ story, “The Cage,” made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd,” the first of a series of stories called The Gales. (Watch for the second Gale, too—“The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”!)

Or if you like, check out her sexy novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

1. build6
way back then, I wasn't one to follow "the industry", so I didn't know anything about season renewals/changing of networks etc. - I just watched the episodes as they came out.

So, all I *did* know was this was "the last episode" so I spent all that episode wondering how they were going to solve this one... did not see the end coming (did not see a lot of things coming, especially Giles' ruthlessness, though it made a lot of sense as it happened - I just didn't *expect* it).

The epitaph was just perfect - I cried and cried (really) when the show ended with that. Whoever thought of that and what to put on it - genius.

Dawn folding her clothes and putting her shoes neatly away - it worked on me too. Totally wanted to hug her. Really stuck with me.

For all those people who insist that this should've been the ending of the series and that S6/7 should never have happened - I can agree that "aesthetically" this is the best ending of the "Buffy story", but I'd say that if you actually felt for the character, it would be just *unbearable* for the story to end here.


S7 had a much more hopeful ending (though it really made me unhappy re: Anya) which I felt made up for the below-averageness of the rest of S7 (which really disappointed me since I'd been so looking forward to it).

(and, except for the Dawn-haters - can you imagine, mom gone, Dad who-knows-where, only sister jumped off to take your place... forget saving the world, Buffy *needed* to come back).
Jack Flynn
3. JackofMidworld
I shudder to think of what would've happened if Giles hadn't taken out Ben; I always thought that Glory would've just popped back up at some point, pissed off and completely insane (and the Scoobs without a handy dandy Dagon Sphere!)

The thing that pops into my head every time I think about the end of this ep (besides "Don't cry, don't cry, don't you dare cry") is Spike collapsing as he draws closer to Buffy's body (which, yeah, starts a whole new round of me telling myself not to tear up).
4. build6
@2 - do not understand

@3 - yes, Spike seemed the most utterly "destroyed" of them all (then again British "stiff upper lip" and all that for Giles?)

What Giles said before he killed Ben made total sense. "She's not like us", indeed
Marie Veek
5. SlackerSpice
@3: Yeah, count me in as one of the "necessary evil" crowd. One only needs to look at the damage Glory did when she finally started playing hardball, hell, even the stuff she managed to do when she wasn't. Really not a smart thing to let her keep breathing, especially when Buffy just screwed over her plans.
Milton Pope
6. MiltonPope
There are a handful of perfect episodes in Buffy (there is one more to come), and this is right at the top. It was obviously conceived as the finale, and as such it's -- well, perfect. You knew it from before it started: "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer", followed by snippets from, near as I could tell, EVERY episode in five seasons. All the way to the (literal) epitaph: "She save the world -- a lot".

Ever since The Fugitive, a lot of series have explicitly ended. (Some didn't work out, like this one, or Thomas Magnum's death. Still, they were written and produced to be series finales.) "The Gift" is the best one I've seen in any series.

Honorable mention: Newhart.
7. Gardner Dozois
I like this episode a lot. I consider it to be one of the two best BUFFY season finales, along with the Graduation finale, and I'm one of those who consider it to be the perfect SERIES finale, far more powerful than the actual one in Season Seven. There's a couple of episodes I'd miss if the series really had ended here, especially "Once More With Feeling," "Tabula Rasa," a few others, but on the whole, I've always felt that the series "came back wrong" after they switched to another network, after "The Gift." Season Six was generally diasppointing except for the episodes already mentioned and the Buffy-Spike hookup, and Season Seven was REALLY disappointing. I know that the actual series ending left the door open for Buffy to have further adventures in the comics, but really, it's hard to think of an ending more fitting, more powerful, more satisfying, than that tombstone with "She Saved the World. A lot." written on it. Perfect.

The scene of Giles sadly but ruthlessly killing Ben is one of my favorites of the whole series, and I agree that there was no way they could have let Ben live, with the threat of an enraged and disappointed Glory returning at any time hanging over them. Buffy was wrong; the threat was too great, even if she had come down from the tower alive. In a way, Buffy saved the world by sacrificing herself, but Giles ALSO saved the world by finishing the job Buffy couldn't bring herself to complete.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
I also thought Ben had to go. This was a really good episode and it certainly would have worked as a series finale but I was glad that it proved not to be the end. The Dark Willow arc of season 6 would have been particulalry missed had the series ended here.
Jason Parker
9. tarbis
There's a lot to like in this episode, but for me it gets worse every time I rewatch it. The dialogue starts to grate and the middle drags a bit. More than that, I read Buffy's jump as suicide not sacrifice. Partially because the blood plot device is so dumb and out of left field. (Buffy's blood has identical magical properties to the Key because the monks built the Key's hiding place to look like her. Say what?) It works on fairy tale logic, but fairy tale logic is not good plot logic. Then factor in Buffy spending the last episode moping, "I can't do this anymore" which is a fairly common refrain among the suicidal, and that her final speech before jumping can be boiled down to "life is hard."
Jumping to her death was a bit of story logic that let Buffy remain the hero. She couldn't have let Dawn be noble and still been the hero of the series any more than she could have kept the title if she killed Ben. Still the context of the leap makes me see suicide, even if that wasn't what Whedon was going for.
Chris Nelly
10. Aeryl
While I agree that Giles made the right decision, it's the start of this diverging road he and Buffy are on. Once he's taken this decision away from her, he finds it easier to do it, again and again. This right here was that fundamental break of trust that leads to his unilaterally deciding to leave in S6, and having Spike killed in S7(and his actions in S8).

As much as I love Spike loving Buffy, his collapse as he walks towards her body has more to do with walking into sunlight, than emotional collapse.

The plot logic made sense to me. They made Dawn out of Buffy. In a mystical sense, they have identical DNA.
Alyx Dellamonica
11. AMDellamonica
I can dimly call thinking about an end for Buffy well before S5 had come and gone, and I saw two paths: death and some form of retirement. With "The Gift" and "Chosen," I feel like I got both--sort of a choose your own adventure outcome.

It was a good ending, but it was harsh. As I work my way through the beginning of S6, I find that though I hurt for Buffy's situation, I'm just as glad as the others that she is back.
Constance Sublette
12. Zorra
This was a wonderful finale, and it would have made a perfect final end to the whole series if it had turned out that way.

Part of what makes it perfect is Buffy chosing her death, giving her sister, her friends and her world the gift she had to give. Was there ever another Slayer who wasn't taken down by a vampire?

That they got the Troll Hammer to be a part of the plan, along with the Bot -- brilliant.

Now I feel I can ask this question: when a Slayer dies, another Slayer arises. Did another arise while Buffy's in heaven, or is Faith still considered a Slayer and thus no need to call another one?

Love, C.

P. S. I'm in the corner of Ben Must Die, thank you wise Giles. He wasn't human -- just a part of Glorificus.
Michael Ikeda
13. mikeda

While we can't entirely rule out the possibility that a Slayer might have been called on Buffy's death in "The Gift", we can say the following:

1) There is never any indication that a Slayer was called.
2) Those characters who might have been in a position to know seem to be assuming that no Slayer was called.
14. sofrina
@12 - as i recall, it was explicitly stated somewhere, by the producers, that buffy's death in "prophecy girl" was her one and only shot to trigger the slayer succession. they were emphatic that her death in "the gift" had no effect on potential slayers. only faith's would do that. but i couldn't get you citation after so many years. (maybe btvs magazine? or

giles makes the call that buffy says she cannot make. in their conference, she says "i don't know how to live in this world if these are the choices." well, giles knows how. and so does ben, which i'm sure crossed giles' mind once dawn was kidnapped. buffy only put a restriction on dawn - "i'll kill anyone who gets near dawn" - she didn't place any boundaries on ben. giles did the necessary which is his duty as a watcher.

buffy's decision is both sacrifice and suicide. she gives up her life willingly because it solves her dilemma - her sister or her duty - perfectly, and also because she's exhausted of the work that she has to do. one of the threads explored in the season was about previous slayers and how they are done down. spike told her, in the end the slayers he killed "merely wanted it." as death dealers they become increasingly wary of their own fortune and both fearful and curious about death itself. the struggles with glory and the watcher's council and her mother's death finally bring buffy to that precipice. and when she goes it is with relief and even joy, it is vitally necessary and predestined. the spirit guide told her as much. and season 7 is the proof. buffy is the slayer who was meant to change the paradigm of "she alone in all the world" and she passed every test on the road to achieving the multi-slayer phenomenon of "chosen" from the night she went out to fight the master until the end.

season 6, i did not care for. buffy is miserable and struggles with a lot of internal darkness. unbearable to watch and distinctly unheroic. until that moment when she tells spike it's over and walks back into the sunlight.
16. Dianthus
Alyx, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed Max Headroom (before it got dumbed-down) and I appreciate your reference to it here. One thing tho': you forgot to mention Spike's full line after Buffy invites him back into the house. To wit: "Know I'm a monster. You treat me like a man." (Emphasis mine). How others, most especially Buffy, treat him has a big influence on him.
Buffy's suicide/sacrifice (no reason it can't be both) represents, to me, the sacrifice(s) made for us by our sister/mothers, i.e. the women who came before us. They did a lot of the heavy lifting, but they did it as much for themselves as for future generations. The thing some folks fail to realize is that "Womens' Rights" and 'Womens' Issues" are human rights and human issues. Others realize it, and want to crack down on them for that very reason. I'm not sure which is worse.
@10. As for Spike collapsing, I think it has as much to do with being injured as anything else. Not even a vampire can take a fall like that and walk away unscathed. It means something tho' for a vampire to climb so high. Dawnie's response is certainly understandable, but if only she'd kept her big yap shut... Ah, well.
Buffy's return in s6 is what's known as The Reluctant Return in 'hero-ing' parlance, IIRC. She was gonna be traumatised no matter what, but I maintain it didn't need to be as over-the-top as it was.
@14. Sorry, but I f*ckin' hate that scene. She goes sailing out into the sunshine, wrapped in her own self-rightousness, leaving emotional destruction in her wake. I once caught some unaired footage (dunno if it's still out there) from the end of AYW. It's Spike's reaction. He knows she means it this time, and his pain and vulnerability are heartbreaking. It might've gotten cut for time. It's also possible they would've had a riot on their hands if it had made the broadcast.
Her "I'm sorry, William" is worth something, tho'. She's finally acknowledging his latent humanity in words, and she's breaking it off with him 'cuz she can no longer pretend he's just a thing.
Alyx Dellamonica
17. AMDellamonica
Yes, Spike's "You treat me like a man," is a pivotal moment. It expresses, I think, some intent to act like a man, as far as it's possible. Something of an attempt to force himself to have or mimic a soul.
Mordicai Knode
18. mordicai
Giles did the right thing. I have always thought this season should have made it explicit that either Ben or Dawn HAD to die. Glory was great but needed to be like, a notch or two more powerful; as a god, she still mostly just is a tough puncher. Making her unkillable-- completely-- would have helped fix that.
19. Dianthus
Generally, how we treat others is important. Specifically, how Buffy treats Spike has a powerful influence on his behavior. He responded to Dru's influence by going as dark as he could. He responds to Buffy's influence by striving to be better.
Again I refer you to his exchange with Sheila in School Hard. His first instinct was to be whatever his woman wants him to be. Had Buffy known what she wanted in s6, that's what he would've given her (to the limit of his ability). As it is, he can only give her what he thinks she wants at any given time, or what little she's willing to accept from him.
I think it was The Go-Gos (or maybe The Bangels?) had a song about it:
If he knew what she wants/He'd be givin' it to her.
Matt Stoumbaugh
20. LazerWulf
Buffy's epitaph reminds me of the one on Harry Dresden's (from The Dresden Files) grave: "He died doing the right thing".
21. gewbook
@19 it's The Bangles

Giles killing Ben is one of my favorite moments in all of Buffydom. I believe he does it for her knowing full well that she may or may not appreciate what he has done and he is ok with that. But he does it because he knows that if Buffy did, she wouldn't be able to function afterwards (she sees Ben as an innocent and cannot cross that line) and he needs his Slayer to keep working. He also does it because he cares for Buffy and he wants to protect her from the dark and the gray areas in his role as a father-figure. Buffy is so black and white and that is one of the few things that eventually gets to me in this series, especially as regards Spike in season 6 and as regards everything in season 7. If I were the slayer and found out what Giles had done, I think I would spend a little while being mad that he made that unilateral decision without me but would ultimately realize that my main reaction to what he did was relief that I don't have to look over my shoulder wondering what became of Ben and what that means for Glory. But I think that Buffy, had she lived and had Buffy and Giles had to really deal with this, would have stuck to her priciples and carried this against Giles forever. I feel like that would have been spectaculary unfair of her, but made for terrific character interaction and that's the reason why this is such good television. These characters are developed enough as people that we can all sit around pyschoanalyzing them and it works.
22. Mannz
@12 & @14--it seems clear that the characters don't know for sure if a new slayer will be triggered or not. In S-3, in Enemies, when Faith and the Mayor are scheming with Angel, the Mayor says to kill Buffy slowly so a new slayer isn't triggered anytime soon. And in S-6, when Giles returns at the end of the season, (I think in Grave) Buffy says to him that it was her time, someone would have taken her place. I can't think of other mentions off the top of my head, but I imagine there are some. So even if the writers were sure of the protocol, they chose to keep it murky in the series. I think it's also possible that they wanted to keep their options open.
Alyx Dellamonica
23. AMDellamonica
I'd definitely buy that they were keeping their options open, Mannz, but it doesn't seem odd to me that the Mayor wouldn't be in on the intricacies of the Kendra/Faith line.

Gewbook--you think she'd never forgive him? Never's a pretty long time. If I were going to hold anything against Giles forever, it'd be the drugging in "Helpless."
Mordicai Knode
24. mordicai
Giles killing Ben is interested when contrasted to...well, everything Wesley does in Angel.
25. Gardner Dozois
@23--I agree with you about the drugging in "Helpless" being the worse betrayal, and the one I'd think she'd take the longest to forgive him for. With killing Ben, it's something that she KNEW had to be done that she couldn't bring herself to do, in spite of the potentially dire consequences, so if she'd come down from the tower alive, she might have been pissed at Giles, but I think that she would have also been secretly releaved to have the burden of that decision taken off her shoulders, and would have forgiven him eventually.

It's interested that the resurrected Buffy never once asks "What happened to Glory?", in spite of dying before finding out what ultimately happened. When she went up the tower, Glory, in the form of Ben, was lying battered but alive on the ground. You'd think she might be concerned that Glory would pop out of someplace and attack her again. Guess she's too numbed by the resurrection experience to think of it or even care (which is the problem with the next season--Buffy walks through almost all of it in a numbed, emotionally shut-down fashion, like a zombie).
Emma Rosloff
26. emmarosloff
I'll admit this would've been a powerful ending to the show. But even watching it now, the finality it, it feels a bit like a "we're canceling the show, deal with it." ending, instead of a premeditated one in terms of the overall series arc. Obviously "death is your gift" was foreshadowed within the context of this season, and Buffy's death in the line of duty has always been a possibility, but beyond that the Season 7 ending felt far more fitting to me.

It's true that seasons 6 and 7 are a little uneven, plot and tonewise, but I'm still glad they exist. I'm still glad that Buffy gets something of a happy ending, at least in the context of the TV show.

And despite the heaviness of this episode, I still laughed out loud several times (Xander: Smart girls are sooo sexy. Willow: You couldn't have figured that out in tenth grade? Buffy: I love all of you. Spike: When you say you love all of us... Anya: This is an omen. A higher power trying to tell me through bunnies that we're all going to die!). Even when things are darkness, Joss manages to inject humor, and that's part of what I love about his writing. And of course the actors for pulling off drama and comedy all on the same breath.

Many poignant moments throughout. Love Buffy speech in the training room: I don't know how to live in this world if these are choices. You're left wondering... is that weakness, or strength? Weakness that she can't do what needs to be done, or strength that she refuses to strip away her humanity to do it?

Giles, on the other hand, has a more meta perspective of things. Him killing Ben was rather selfless, although I found it particularly ironic, considering Ben saved Giles' life during the stake out at the gas station. A callback to that would've been great here, if Ben mentioned it. "I saved your life." and Giles could've simply said "I know" and killed him. Still, the calm way he did it was chilling. Proof that Giles has the capacity to close off his heart completely, something Buffy simply cannot do.

Love Spike in this episode too, although I've always thought that the Doc throwing him off the tower at the end was a bit of a cop out. It's been established that Spike's both strong and relentless... so how is it this little man is able to overpower him so easily? In the very least I'd expect Spike to pull the Doc down with him when he fell. I feel like it would've been better that way -- if the Doc had already cut into Dawn but Spike managed to get him out of the way so Buffy's way to Dawn was clear. It would still be failure on Spike's part, but not a total and complete one. Buffy seemed to have no problem shoving the Doc aside for dramatic purposes, but it really felt like Spike should've been able to do as much. Although I suppose he makes up for it by watching after Dawn while Buffy's dead.

I guess I can concede that in some ways this would've been the better ending. Buffy's love for Dawn is so pure here; she's no longer tangled up in resentment, and in a way it shows that she's truly grown up. If Dawn symbolizes innocence, than Buffy's sacrifice symbolizes her willingness to give everything up to protect innocence. I disagree that it was, in anyway, suicide. Yes, it was a way out, but for Buffy, it was a way out of sacrificing Dawn. I feel like she's that singleminded about it, and that's part of what makes her so noble. In that moment, nothing but keeping Dawn safe matters. She gives up her life to do just that, and yes, to save the world, and her friends, but I don't think getting to be 'done' slaying ever crosses her mind until after the fact, when she's pulled out of heaven and forced back into her body. She was rewarded precisely for being selfless, so it's small wonder that when she returns, everything feels wrong.
28. build6
@26 -

"I saved your life" "I know" --> that would have been *awesome*, wow
Emma Rosloff
29. emmarosloff

Right?? Because even though it's so very true, it doesn't change a damn thing.
30. Dianthus
@25. What's worse IMO is Buffy's sense of victimization/helplessness. Buffy's not a Victim. That's the whole bloody point of the whole bloody show!
Whedon once likened Buffy's condition to clinical depression. Having been thru a bought of severe depression myself, I can say that one of the worst things about it is that it makes it harder to do the very things that can help you feel better.
OTOH, two of the best (drug-free) treatments are getting regualer exercise and helping others. Seems to me Buffy's got both of those things going for her already.

@28. & @29. Yes! I often wondered about Spike going off that tower all alone. Taking Doc down with him hardly seems like a stretch.

Interesting aside: The Tower is one of the Major Arcana cards of the Tarot. It is commanly pictured as a stone structure crumbling from a lightning strike, while two figures are flung into the air. It is a card signaling change. The change is likely to be permanent and driven by outside forces beyond your control.
Alyx Dellamonica
31. AMDellamonica
I have very little problem with the state Buffy's in after her mother dies, and I buy her depression after her resurrection, too. It doesn't make it any more fun to watch, though.

Joss is funny, I agree, even when the stories are dark. Jane Espenson does this well, too, I think. As I watch S6, I appreciate the Espenson stories more and more.
32. Dianthus
It's totally understandable/acceptable that Buffy would be depressed under the circumstances. Less so IMO is the self-loathing and misogyny that lead toward her abusive behavior, and it's a real drag.
I felt bad, and things looked pretty bleak for a time, but I never hated myself. I was lucky to have the reources I needed to get help. Buffy is self-medicating with Spike. Of course, this wasn't meant to be a realistic portrayal of what it's like to suffer from depression, either, never mind that depression seems to affect women in larger numbers.
33. missallen
Y'all can talk all you like. Truth is, there's never been a show like Buffy before Buffy and there's certainly NOTHING like it now.
Name one empowered, strong, smart female role model on television right now.
Uh-huh. Thought so.
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
Bo from Lost Girl. The Chick from Orphan Black(don't watch but I hear great things). Alana Bloom from Hannibal.

Don't get wrong, Buffy's great. But there are a LOT of heirs to the throne now, THANKS TO BUFFY, and it's a discredit to the show to act like she has no successors. Hell at the same time Buffy was airing, Veronica Mars was on.

Plus we got Starbuck, Sarah Connor(on TV), Zoe Washburne after her. Buffy was awesome. But she was not the be-all-end-all of empowering women's entertainment, and I don't think we want her to be.
Emma Rosloff
35. emmarosloff
@Alyx: Jane Espenson must use the same actors, because the latest episode of Warehouse 13 has the actor who played Ben in it (another recent one had James Marsters, and the word on the street is that Anthony Head will appear soon!). It was really crazy to watch this episode of Buffy and that episode of Warehouse 13 in the same day! I had no idea 'Ben' (Charlie Weber) would be in both. Gotta say the floppy hair always kind of turned me off, but now he looks like a legitimate underwear model, lol. He's hunky... and playing a gay guy, which I think is awesome.
36. Dianthus
@33. So we're not allowed to express any opinion other than 'BtVS is the bestest show ever, F*ck yeah!'? Seems to me that discussion would get really old really fast.
Why do you think Glenn Close and Kyra Sedgewick decided to do television? It's a good medium for strong female characters. Go back and watch The X-Files and/or Murphy Brown. Strong female characters on TV do not begin and end w/ Buffy.
Alyx Dellamonica
37. AMDellamonica
Emma, floppy hair was never a look I went for either.

Glenn Close! I am blown away by Damages.
38. Dr.Thanatos
Name one recurring female character on Once Upon A Time who is not a strong Buffy-heir!
39. I Walked Through The Fire
I have to say - awesome intellectual comments on here.

I would just like to add something in regards to Spike breaking down; that part was not even in the script - JM had improvised it into the scene while they were rolling the cameras.

I would also like to defend season 6/7.
Season 7 was so structure-less overall because the writers had been prepping for a storyline arc that would cover multiple seasons when, rather suddenly, SMG decided not to renew her contract. A few episodes in. The writing team had to scramble and really seem to have been at a loss. If you look at each episode, in itself, they are actually not bad at all and some are quite great; another element in some is that while have incredible parts, they are to be found lacking in the quality overall. It's the overview of the entire season (and how much those lacking parts stand out) that's more than messy and just kind of last-season-of-Dollhouse-y.

As for season 6, I have to say it is my favorite even though I agree it probably isn't necessarily the best. If that makes sense.
This next part is overly long and weepy just so you are aware. I eventually have a point and am not doing this for attention but in the hope somebody can relate to this. BTW please comment with whatever you wish to share and any questions. I also apologize for any spelling/grammar mistakes as I am composing this at 2 in the morning and am just too damn tired to read this over and too brain numbed to recognize any mistakes anyway at the moment.
I have a life-long chronic ailment which is full of pain and means I will never get to have a normal life. I missed almost all of high school, that's when it really got to its worst, as I spent it in a hospital bed. At the age of 16, 4 years ago now, I was given about ten more years til I would need a liver/GI tract transplant. Which is not a process that is usually survived. That is, as long as I make it through all the bouts of sepsis that is a complication of relying on various types of central lines that are needed for my condition. Ok so long story short I could relate to Buffy - just like so many, but in a different way. When Infirst saw BTVS I had recently survived Aseptic Meningitis. I should have died and had the whole white light/what heaven feels like experience and was sent back because there was more for me to do. I was left unable to walk and with an excruciating migraine (I had to literally be in the dark because of the light sensitivity) for about 7 months on top of the excruciating abdominal pain I had had my entire life, and still have. Now whether it really was heaven or whether it was just my brain getting over cooked by a 105.8 temp and firing wierdly, I do not know. Believe what you will about that. I still felt what I felt and remember it all too wel. I did feel it was over and just.... Perfect. The speech Buffy gave at the end of Afterlife was exactly what I had felt (that speech spooked me so much I could not watch another episode for a week). All I know is, after having experience that blissfull release, I was so far beyond devastated when I woke up to a painfully broken body. I had to keep fighting and I was ready to be done. I just couldn't deal with it at all. I would go from feeling like I was dying from complete despair to being utterly empty/more than numb. I was gone and nothing but physical and emotional pain was left; the constant physical pain only fed the emotional. Season 6 slowly broke me out if it. Once More With Feeling was my soundtrack. I found inspiration from the first five seasons and a reasonably relatable character in Buffy. I began to have a safe place when I would watch. It wasn't until season 6 that I began to process what had happened and what I had become. I found my pain, my misery, my apathy and watched as Buffy suffered from the same feelings. "Life's not a song, life isn't bliss; life is just this: it's living. You'll get along. The pain that you feel, you only can heal, by living" and "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it" became my mantras. Normal Again terrified me - I had been terrified I would wake up one day and still be in that hospital bed - but it also helped because it made my fears not seem so crazy. There were so many episodes that let me feel what I felt without being desperate for the world to just end so I could be done with everything. Then I saw Willow slip into her darkest form and I saw her release it.
So many are the other elements of the season that were what I needed, that I would make this even more rambling and possibly depressing if I was to describe them. The point is, not only did I become aware, but I shattered my own trance because of Buffy - especially because of Season 6. All in all, I began to find what had eluded me for so very long: solace.

The importance of Season 6 lies in its darkness. Darkness is apart of life. It is necessary to immerse yourself in the darkness (upon occasion) but it is just as necessary that you do not let yourself drown in it. I don't know what I would have done without watching Buffy. I saw as she would pick herself up and fight again - even if she didn't deserve to have to face such a fate. I witnessed that even if she missteped or got lost, she carried on eventually. She got through it despite the fact that her fight is never-ending. In From Beneath You, when Spike asks "Can we rest now? Buffy, can we rest?" the "we" isn't just crazy babble, nor does it just apply to Buffy and Spike. Resting cannot but sound wonderful; though we all have to keep trudging through the field of battle. Thanks to Buffy I have done this and will continue to do so. I know she has done this for others; and so, for all of it, I am forever indebted to the powers that made BTVS what it was and to those who understand.
40. I Walked Through The Fire
Hahaha I do love watching TV/movies and connecting the actors and actresses to each other and to Joss! XD

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