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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 22 - Grave

9 October 2013

Xander breaks Willow

Synopsis: Giles temporarily contains Willow and catches up with Buffy. Willow uses Anya to break free and sends a ball of fire after Andrew and Jonathan. Buffy races after it while Willow drains Giles of the power he's using. It gives Willow such a connection to the world that she can't bear to feel all the pain and decides to destroy the world. The fire ball sends Buffy and Dawn into the ground while Xander races to stop Willow.

The Good: I thought Willow and Xander played their moment really well. It didn't feel like an organic culmination of her story but it was still quite moving. Xander panicked and proposed to Anya during the last apocalypse and now he is the saviour. The use of his friendship with Willow to stop her was cheesy at first glance. But really the affection of the Scoobies has always been what kept Buffy motivated so why shouldn't it save the world?

Dawn and Buffy's stories reached decent conclusions too. Buffy fully comes out of her depression by realising that her familial love for Dawn has helped her regain a thirst for life. While Dawn is finally acknowledged as being capable and trustworthy when demons approach. Buffy crawls out of a grave to bring the season full circle but this time with someone.

The Bad: This was the most contrived and least interesting of the apocalyptic battles we've seen. Giles came back just to play "exposition man." Seriously. He explained everything that was going on both before and after his own involvement (because magic is such a wonderful thing he was able to ‘stay in touch’ with events somehow). Willow sends a ball of fire at Jonathan and Andrew which inexplicably misses them. So it was magical enough to track them but when zooming in for the kill it can miss? Willow's decision to destroy the world came so quickly that it had no impact at all. She drags a temple out of the ground to symbolise how the writers pulled this plot out of thin air.

The Unknown: I wasn't a fan of Giles and then Buffy cackling about the travails of Sunnydale in recent months. It seemed to play on that "Normal Again" spirit that if you explained all the plots to someone they would sound ridiculous. But really I don't see how broken weddings, shop lifting or sleeping with Spike are that laughable.

The writers pushed way too hard to misdirect us as to Spike's intentions. There's no way he would keep using phrases like "give her what she deserves" or "what's coming to her" in an angry tone when he meant that he would get his soul back. It's obviously a dramatic, fascinating and impactful decision. But beyond the sense of surprise this was a slightly irritating way to present it.

I don't blame Jonathan for fleeing once Buffy had fallen down a hole. But it doesn't exactly fit with his determination to accept the consequences of his actions. I wonder if the shot of the two of them being driven away is goodbye or just au revoir.

Best Moment: Willow being broken by Xander's love.

The Bottom Line: This was the most disappointing season finale ever. It was far more flimsy than Adam's story and I remain convinced that "Wrecked" is the most damaging episode of Buffy ever made. It abruptly ended the story of Willow's power trip and turned it into a far less interesting story of withdrawal. If the issue of how magic corrupted her personality had been explored then the last three episodes might have been dramatic. Instead everyone jumped through hoops to explain how magic worked and it quickly became clear that no one, Willow included, was going to suffer any real consequences.

It leaves Season 6 in quite a similar position to Season 5. Both had strong stories for Buffy herself but served her friends less well (Spike excepted, again). Season 6 was less consistent; it had more highs and more lows. It's a shame because the build up to "Once More with Feeling" was the strongest the show has been since Season 3.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Grave
Season 6, Episode 22
Original airing: 5/21/2002

My Rating: 50

The end of this episode succeeded in spite of itself. Unfortunately, five good minutes does not unmake 40 icky ones.

The Good: Xander and Willow’s final scene stands head and shoulders above everything else in this episode. It’s well acted and quite emotional. Xander’s speech is perfect to reach Willow and I love how she progresses from magical attack to impotent fist thumping to sobbing. It feels very real and very human. I love the moment when her hair bleeds back to red and she’s obviously herself again. I’ve missed you, Willow.

The Bad: Unfortunately, the moment is underscored by heavy exposition and inappropriate character moments.

I was happy to see Giles, but I felt he was distinctly misused in this episode. His explanation for arriving from the coven was fine, but the idea that the magick he gave to Willow was the only thing that allowed Xander to reach her really undercut the strength of the moment. It was unnecessary and having Giles do nothing but say precisely what had already happened or what was currently happening was boring. A classic rule of any visual art is “Show, Don’t Tell” and this episode broke it hardcore.

I was also disappointed in the cheap and blatant attempt to scare up sympathy with Giles bald statement – “I’m dying” – when he then sat up a bit later and was just fine.

In other news, I have completely lost interest in Jonathon and Andrew. I don’t care that they lived and are now riding in a truck to Mexico. Good riddance.

But what really drove me nuts in this episode was the scene in the pit with Buffy and Dawn. Everything Dawn says is based on her typical teenager angst. She’s 15 so she deserves to know everything and deserves to fight even if she hasn’t been trained and is actually really good at it and suddenly Buffy has seen the light and realizes she’s back in this world not to save it from the darkness but to see Dawn grow up into a powerful and beautiful woman! Ugh. This whole collection of scenes felt very fake and stupid. Dawn picks an incredibly inappropriate time to demand things she hasn’t earned and doesn’t deserve. Buffy seems to come out of her depression almost magically and if she now spends all her time focused on Dawn, I’m going to be very bored very quickly with her character. And the pit seems all for naught when Buffy and Dawn crawl out of it pretty easily at the end.

The Unknown: It’s interesting for Spike to get his soul back. This was a great cliffhanger and definitely makes me want to watch the next episode immediately. I can imagine multiple ways this can affect the show and the Buffy/Spike relationship. I think this is a really cool idea to grow the character. He’s come as far as he can with an inherently and unchangeable evil nature. He needs to have moral choice to progress.

Favorite Moment: See The Good.

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Comments

  • Xander stopping Dark Willow with his yellow crayon story. Giles returning. Spike getting his prize.
    What's NOT to love about this episode?
    I like how Joss Whedon suckered EVERYBODY with making people think that Spike was fighting to have his chip removed so he could kill Buffy but instead gives us his soul back. GENIUS.
    The scene where Xander tells Willow he loves her and talks about the yellow crayon always makes question why the show never won or was even nominated for an Emmy. That scene is perfect. Xander doesn't have powers and the only thing he has as weapons is love and words. I remember that scene made my mother cry when she first watched it.
    One of the things I did find a bit dumb was the laughing scene between Buffy and Giles. I know you just reunited but you have an ultra-powerful witch tied up. Shouldn't you be watching her?
    Other than that I love the episode and I can't wait to see the aftermath and what happens next season

    On to a different episode.
    I recently finished listening to The Wish and the three episodes that came after. Cordia asks where Darla and Luke went and nobody responded with an answer. I believe Angel killed the both of them at The Harvest but not before Luke drank enough to release The Master. That is why he is being tortured. Willow is torturing him because she is kind of Darla 2.0 for The Master. That's my theory.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Andrew the Geek, 02/10/2013 6:04am (4 years ago)

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