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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 - Chosen

8 April 2014

Synopsis: Angel drops off a necklace to be worn by an ensoulled champion. Buffy decides on a momentous plan to empower all Potential Slayers with her power. The next morning they occupy the school and open the portal. The Slayers, Potentials and Spike march down to take on the Turok-Han. Willow performs the spell and the Potentials become Slayers. The battle is going against the good side until Spike's necklace lights up and Sunnydale begins to collapse around them. Anya dies battling Bringers. The rest escape as the Hellmouth closes for good.

The Good: There was a lot to like about the end of Buffy. Considering the poor job Season Seven had done setting it up I think it was about as good as it could have been.

The twin messages of female empowerment worked really well. Buffy concludes not just the Spuffy story but the Bangel one too with her cookie-dough speech. She isn't done developing as a person. That's why no relationship with a man has really stuck. Given all that poor Buffy Summers has been through, that was a bit of an understatement. But her conclusion felt like an entirely appropriate message to send out to female viewers. Unlike every other love story you'll see on TV, this one isn't about tragedy or a happy ending. It's about understanding that you should be happy with who you are rather than looking to someone else for definition. Only a show that tells compelling stories can get away with a message aimed so squarely at its audience and thankfully Buffy has more than earned the right to underline it's point of view.

Similarly the montage of young women being imbued with supernatural strength sent the message that women do have the strength in everyday life to be masters of their own destiny. The whole reason for the show is to underscore that idea so it felt ideal as the concluding science-fiction metaphor. It also tied up Willow's season long angst as she taps into the power of goodness to such an extent that she goes white rather than black with magic.

Finally giving the Potentials the power to fight back and free Buffy from the responsibility of being "the one" was an ultra-happy ending. But again it felt earned after all the misery she's suffered and the expectations for the Slayer which she has shattered. If she can conquer death then why not pass on her power now to all who can wield it. To see her standing, smiling, free of Sunnydale and her calling was a fine final shot.

The callbacks throughout were solid. It was nice to give us a repeat of Giles' "doomed" line from the pilot and I smiled at Andrew mentioning bunnies around a scared Anya. Spike also gets to knock down the Sunnydale sign one last time.

Spike finally becoming a champion and giving his life for good was adequate. Without more build up I can't say it hit the emotional moment it was going for. But it did again cross my mind that Buffy's goodness rather than her strength had won this demon over to such an extent that he turned out to be the key to her salvation.

For the first time in what feels like ages I really liked Robin Wood here. The way he went all Principal on Faith and overcame her defensiveness and objectification of men was well played. It gave both characters an unexpectedly optimistic sendoff.

The Bad: The big moments would have been so much better if the preceding episodes had hinted at what was to come or what both sides needed to do. In retrospect you can see why the Scythe was so important and why the First was so determined to corrupt Spike. In both cases though it would have been nice to have more focus on them as key to winning the war. The fact that Angel drops off the amulet for Spike with the flimsiest of explanations was very unsatisfying.

More than that though I feel like Spike's story didn't really drive toward his heroic death. He got his soul back out of guilt and desire for Buffy and then spent the season being tormented or frustrated. It didn't seem like he was looking for a role as a champion, it was moe that Buffy wanted that for him. I do see the long term significance of this story. Back in "Becoming" Spike saved the world to serve his own desires. Now he gives up everything to save it. But again more build up would have helped, perhaps more detail on the power of a restored soul could have made the Amulet seem less convenient.

Similarly we only found out here that the First can become corporeal once there are more Turok-Han on the Earth than people. That information could have been used to fuel the arguments between the Potentials and Scoobies rather than the vaguer and ultimately pointless questioning of Buffy's leadership skills.

The use of the Turok-Han this season is a problem I've discussed before. Their strength is ambiguous to the point where I don't have a problem with the En-Slayed Potentials holding their own for a while. But Buffy's plan seems very foolish when you see thousands of them still advancing as the battle goes on. Buffy has no understanding of what the Amulet will do so it feels like she has simply delayed their inevitable slaughter rather than found a winning strategy. Maybe I missed it but it still felt like the First had no way of opening the portal with Caleb gone. If the point was that (as in "Prophecy Girl") it was actually Buffy who was detstined to open the door then that too should have been worked into the story.

The idea that the Turok-Han were desperate to get out of the School and into the sewers was an idea which just about explains why they didn't tear Robin, Giles, Andrew and Anya to pieces. But really, they should have done. Anya seems to have been killed by Bringers who randomly arrived on the scene.

Buffy's wound didn't seem to have any lasting effect on her once she stood up. I know she's strong but shouldn't that have slowed her down a little?

The Unknown: What do they do now?

Best Moment: The cut back to Buffy's "Chosen" speech as the show comes full circle from "every generation a Slayer is born" to a whole generation being gifted all at once.

The Bottom Line: The good of this finale is that the message of Buffy the Vampire Slayer rang out loud and clear. It's proudly a feminist show and the line where Buffy says "because a bunch of men who died thousands of years ago made up that rule" applies not just to Potentials and Slayers but to women's lives everywhere.

The bad is pretty much everything that happened between this episode and "Conversations with Dead People." It's a real shame that the final season didn't provide many highlights and wasted so many opportunities but it didn't ruin the legacy of the show. The show still stands tall for its compelling super hero story and its ground breaking approach to storytelling.

If you're watching Buffy after the modern TV era with its Lost or Breaking Bad then you may not fully appreciate what a force for change the show was. When it began shows didn't have ongoing stories very often. They certainly didn't show characters growing, changing and dying like they did here. Buffy broke a mould in more ways than one and I'll be forever grateful for the way in which it showed me how great television could be.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Chosen
Season 7, Episode 22
Original airing: 5/20/2003

My Rating: 64

The Good: I liked this episode much more than it deserved. There are some serious logic issues, which there have been all season, but it did a good job of wrapping up several relationships and touching on the purpose of the whole show’s existence.

When Buffy the Vampire Slayer came out it was designed to basically celebrate the idea of the powerful girl. Wandering into a dark alley doesn’t make her a victim. It’s pretty obvious this episode is a love letter to that idea. Buffy literally slices Caleb open from the crotch up while Angel is incapacitated. Buffy “gifts” the potentials with their powers after pointing out Willow, a super powerful witch, is going to break a rule imposed on them by old men from centuries ago. The montage of potentials gaining their powers only shows women/girls who seem happy to be getting them and the image of the one girl standing up to an abuser was particularly powerful. So I think the show really hit this part out of the ballpark.

Along with this was Buffy’s discovery of her need to grow and develop as a person before she really can be in a fulfilling, long-lasting romantic relationship. I also liked that she’s able to be honest about her feelings with Angel and Spike. It seems a bit like she’s keeping them both on a string, but at the same time, I think she makes it pretty clear where she stands. So it’s up to them how much they want to hang around.

Anya’s death was well done. It’s quick and brutal, leaving the scene of her wide-eyed body to really bring it home. Xander’s necessarily brief search was rather heartwrenching.

I really liked the scene between Robin and Faith in the basement. He manipulated her rather excellently into looking at men in a slightly different light. I don’t really get why he’s so into her and willing to go through all this effort. Perhaps he’s just drawn to a challenge? Either way, I thought the dialogue was well done and the “prettier than thou” joke was great.

The biggest surprise for me was how much I liked Kennedy in this episode! She finally had the right words for Willow in the bedroom scene and she managed to admit she was a headstrong brat without it feeling out of character. I also really believed that despite herself, she would have taken Willow down during the spell if needed. Because that’s what Willow would have wanted.

I really liked the end of the episode (Robin’s fake death excluded). I started crying as soon as Dawn hoped out of the bus and hugged Buffy. I didn’t stop till the credits were rolling. It hit home to see our Scoobies looking out over the ruins of Sunnydale and Buffy’s wonderful little happy smile really sealed the deal.

The Bad: There are some pretty serious issues in this episode that I think could have been resolved if they had more time to be explained and introduced. The biggest left fielder is the amulet. But the silliness and morality questions surrounding The Plan were of a major concern to me.

But let’s start with the more minor issues. Robin’s fake death was really annoying. It wasn’t funny and I think in some ways it made Anya’s death less potent. Of course the series is going to end on a funny note, but I don’t think mocking death was a good way to go after all that intensity.

Angel’s appearance seems rushed and unnatural. He makes a lot of jokes and jumps to the Buffy and Spike relationship pretty quickly. He has no explanation for where he got the amulet or his information on the First. The jealousy he sparked in Spike last episode was commented on by the First and then completely ignored later. In the end, it felt like a wash. Why was he really there except as fan service?

The amulet Angel brings actually beats out the appearance of the scythe as ludicrous. Just last episode I was complaining about how the scythe felt like a huge bandage on the story and then we get something even MORE powerful from an even MORE obscure source with even LESS information on its abilities.

The worst part is how much of The Plan to prevent the end of the world depended on these two items and their abilities – which no one really knows. If one assumption had been flawed, everyone would have been screwed. Why does Buffy think the scythe is capable of activating the powers in the potentials? Why does she go into the Hellmouth with them before that activation takes effect? Why depend on the amulet to save them when they have no idea what it does and Spike points out it isn’t doing anything at first? What was Buffy’s real plan? It seems like it was – Welp, I hope the potentials get all strong and stuff and there’s enough of us. Otherwise we’re screwed. She had no way of knowing the amulet would wipe out all of the Turok-Han and close the Hellmouth.

I think if a bit more time had been dedicated to these objects and research about them, this would have felt more solid. Buffy decides to rush ahead with very limited knowledge and a lot of guess work. With Caleb dead, it didn’t seem like there was all that much of a timeline on the apocalypse.

I was disappointed to see how easily the Turok-Han overwhelmed all the new Slayers. It led to The Plan really feeling flawed when they made it upstairs. But I was even more annoyed to see how easily the humans upstairs were able to dispatch these monsters. The Turok-Han have been so reduced in power it makes the threat feel like even less. It also seems The Plan would have failed without the amulet, which makes it even more annoying that the amulet was just introduced and so important.

What I found most unsettling about it all though was the idea of forcing Slayer powers on all the potentials around the world. That’s fine for the ladies at the house who have some clue what it means. But all I could think of was the women who wouldn’t understand this power, might not want it, might abuse it or have someone else use them because of it, and a myriad other issues which could arise. Plus, Buffy made such a big stink about how unfair it was to do this to an unwilling woman in Get It Done (S7E15). She even references the obnoxious Shadow Men in this episode. Then she turns around and does the exact same thing. I think we’re meant to miss or ignore this in favor of the Woman Power message, but I just don’t think I can.

Logically related to this issue of imbuing potentials around the world is the question of the age discrepancies when every single potential at the house is early teens. Why then do we see middle-aged mothers and young girls also affected? The biggest question is why any of these women are still alive at all. Weren’t the Bringers hunting them all down and killing them? Were they only capable of finding the teenage potentials for some reason? It makes the First’s plan to wipe out the Slayer line look pretty stupid.

Favorite Moment: It’s beautiful to see the core four standing around before the battle, joking and mocking. I loved the tie in to the very beginning of the show with Giles line of the world being doomed. Lovely.

The Bottom Line: Despite major logic flaws and the lazy feeling generated by the introduction and subsequent importance of the scythe and the amulet, I liked this finale. In the end, it came full circle to the show’s ultimate point – women are powerful. It also had some wonderful character moments and ended with an excellent shot of Buffy. But I really think you have to be a fan of the show to appreciate the good parts of this episode. As an hour of television, it’s just not that good.

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  • For clarification's sake, I wanted to make it clear that my remark about Faith's rack in this episode was meant to be sarcastic. She's sleazy at a strange time, and I found it odd, but perhaps that's just me.

    Posted by Matt E., 08/04/2014 2:23pm (4 years ago)

  • Since this is the last episode I'm just going to be nice and give this episode 100%.

    As a final episode I think they did a pretty good job. While there was some stuff that was kind of dumb I can forgive them.

    I'll start with the bad.
    Angel's return. I know since he was a major character it makes sense for him to return but it just felt kind of pointless.
    The Uber-Vamps. When they first appeared Buffy could barely fight one and now even Dawn is able to kill one with just a sword. Also the Uber-Vamps are really dumb. They leave their cave in the middle of the day and escape to the school. What were they going to do until the sun went down.
    Andrew screaming "I have Swimmers Ear". What made him think they wouldn't try and kill them?


    Stuff I liked.
    The First appearing one more time before the battle as Caleb. It appearing out of the darkness was cool.
    The main 4 talking about going shopping at the mall. Giles saying they were doomed mirrors his final line from the first episode of the series.
    The separation scene as they part ways and go into different rooms. Very sweet.
    The battle. Huge and badass.
    Willow's spell and Buffy's power speech. Great moment as they show all the girls who are becoming Slayers becoming stronger as they gain they're powers.
    The battle becoming more intense as the Potentials become Slayers. Each of them are given their own badass moment with the scythe.
    Spike's death. Spike dies in a very Spike way: like a badass laughing until the very end.

    Random thought.
    Every time I watch the finale I get kind of sad. Buffy the Vampire Slayer started when I was 8 and ended when I was 14 so I pretty much grew up with it. It was the first live action "adult" show I fell in love with and when it ended I felt like a little part of me died. Almost 20 years later and those feelings have never disappeared.

    Viewer score: 100 / 100

    Posted by Andrew the geek, 04/04/2014 5:56am (4 years ago)

  • The Good: Besides the awesome nod to Spike, knocking down one last Sunnydale sign, there were only two really outstanding things about "Chosen"--Faith's rack. Call me a jerk, but this episode was not good.

    The Bad: I haven't seen most of Angel, so maybe I'm missing something that was later made clear... I'm dumbfounded that Buffy not only was kept alive, but basically the show destroyed its own legacy. How will any of the thousands (millions?) of Slayers ever be the hero that was Buffy, if they don't have to sacrifice anything? And we get it, Joss--men are evil. Notice there were no apparent female turok hans, and Caleb only died after taking an axe to the testicles. Subtlety!

    The Unknown: Did the writers just get as drunk as possible when writing season 7? I had voted for Becoming pt. 2 to be your "drunk podcast" episode, but now I'm thinking anything from S7--maybe then it'd make sense. Also, do you see now why I compared Dawn to Scrappy Doo? She's annoying, serves no purpose, and won't go away. Scrappy Doo!

    Alternate Universe Matt E.: Gosh, I love the Potentials!

    Viewer score: 25 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 02/04/2014 6:18pm (4 years ago)

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