Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chosen   Rewatch 
May 26, 2016 8:46 AM - Season 7, Episode 22 - Subscribe

In the series finale Buffy dispatches Caleb, becomes cookie dough, hatches a final plan to defeat the First and shares her power.
posted by yellowbinder (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I still love this episode, and am annoyed by Anya's death (it should have been Riley).

But I don't hate S7 like many. I am a monster.
posted by Mezentian at 9:44 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wow. Only one comment so far, on the series finale? What happened to these threads while I was away?!

I remember this being a very effective closer, after far and away the worst season of the show. It was like everything snapped into place at the end, and suddenly the characters seemed more like themselves again. IIRC they'd already announced James Marsters was moving over to Angel, which made Spike's death here a lot less sad. But it was still epic, effective stuff.

It still bums me out that the Buffyverse basically ended with Angel. (I know they've done the comics and stuff, but I just can't read those things.) Every time Joss Whedon launches some new superhero TV show or directs another movie, I'm like, "What, STILL no Buffy?" The sad thing is that at this point all of those actors (with the possible exception of Alyson Hannigan) would probably be VERY willing to do a reunion TV movie or something, but Joss seemed totally done with the franchise circa 2004 and now he's busy making blockbusters. Sigh. Maybe they'll throw us a bone next year, the 20th anniversary of this show.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:39 PM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm still waiting for Ripper.
Still, because the idea can still work.
posted by Mezentian at 3:53 AM on May 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

Only one comment so far, on the series finale? What happened to these threads while I was away?!

Season seven happened?

I do like this finale, despite disliking the road that got us here. I love that it's Willow who activates all the potentials. Buffy has been an empowering force in Willow's life since the day they met, so it's symbolically fitting that she's the one who empowers all the others. If Buffy had not been the kind of person who supports and encourages her female friends, Willow would not have been able to activate the potentials and they arguably* would have lost to the First. This is foreshadowed in Same Time, Same Place when Buffy, after welcoming Willow back and supporting her after she tried to kill her and her sister and end the world, literally shares her power/energy with Willow.

* I say arguably because it's possible Spike and his necklace could have just exploded them all anyway, but the necklace reads as a deus ex machina to me and, as with much of season seven, I choose to ignore the plot in favor of the symbolism.
posted by galaxy rise at 8:15 AM on May 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I have mixed feelings about the finale, I love Willow activating the potentials and that Buffy's plan works for the same reason that she's been so effective as a Slayer-because she is part of a team, but also because she doesn't just accept what other people tell her. She's willing to challenge the idea "Well this is the way it's always been." That's also a very empowering message for any marginalized group, not just women. Buffy ends by changing the entire legend, but also with a message that things CAN change for the better.

The thing that gets me every time is Xander. He makes one comment about Anya, which only from Xander would that be considered an affectionate farewell and then half a second later an obnoxious quip about the mall. When I saw that the first time, I went absolutely purple with rage. After the way he treated Anya, I wish Caleb had just outright killed him. It's honestly so awful in episode that is so full of empowered women it makes it so I honestly have trouble watching never mind thinking about the finale. Really. It bothers me that much. I could handle Anya dying, but I really wish Xander had taken more to heart that this woman who loved him and suffered for him and became more human than he could hope DIED. I mean just a moment of "Oh fuck, I REALLY WAS A DOUCHE" not so much to ask.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:18 PM on May 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

IIRC they'd already announced James Marsters was moving over to Angel, which made Spike's death here a lot less sad

I don't think that's correct. Angel's season five renewal wasn't announced until after its season four finale - and while "Chosen" aired a couple of weeks later, I'm pretty sure the Spike thing was kept secret until at least until this finale aired. That said, it wasn't long after that we knew he was coming back to Angel, since that was part of the reason it was renewed for a 5th and final season.

Overall, I really like this finale - after such a shoddy season. And yet somehow, after all the time it took to get here and the five episode Caleb arc, this episode still feels super rushed.
posted by crossoverman at 3:28 AM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Looks like Marsters going to Angel was announced about 7 weeks before the series finale. On April 1st no less, and no one claims April Fools. A simpler time on the Internet.

Despite best efforts to keep up with Season 7, I again fell off about halfway through. I'm hoping to find time in the next day or two to watch this one and come up with some closing thoughts. I do want to say thank you to everyone who's participated in these threads over the last year and a bit, it's been a great journey and reading all your thoughts and theories has been a great part of my week. I'll miss it!.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:53 AM on May 29, 2016

Thank you yellowbinder for all your efforts, and everyone for a great discussion! I think interest has tailed off, understandably, with this season, but we have had some great discussions along the way!

So, to the episode itself. There's no doubt that having Whedon back really boosts this, and makes it a highlight of Season 7. There are some terrific sequences here, I'm thinking particularly of that final flight as the city collapses, but the fight underground is pretty good too.

There's a lot of work to do with the characters here, and I don't know if completely works, but I'm grateful for all the little moments we do get. That final scene in the school with the core 4 is just really great to have, even if it is maybe too little too late. I mean, the contrast between Giles this episode and Giles the rest of the season is genuinely striking and makes me feel like they forgot how to write him!

The scenes with Buffy and Spike are just really good, and Faith and Wood are surprisingly good for two minor characters. Wood is definitely the best new character, and I can easily see him fitting in in a hypothetical Season 8 (the comics don't exist, the comics don't exist...)

There is certainly an argument that the metaphor at the core of this episode is quite flawed, but I like the intention. Buffy, who has struggled with the fact that she is more powerful than others, and the responsibility that forces her to take, often with negative consequences, makes a choice to gift it to all her sisters. I appreciate that the practical effect of this is to only make a small percentage of women really strong, but there we are.

But, this being Season 7, it can't quite be perfect, and the problem is in the plot, as it always is. The plan is the worst plan that ever planned:

1)Ignoring the point that there's no reason to think that Buffy's plan will even work, why do the magic so close to the hellmouth? This would have been fixable with one line of dialogue, so maybe it's not that big a deal
2)The containment plan was terrible and hardly worked. It shouldn't have worked at all. I can buy newly empowered slayers taking down the uber vamps, but the civilians really shouldn't have been able to at all.
3)The actual plan seemed to be hinged on the slayers killing all the vamps? This clearly was never going to happen, and it's only the magic doohickey that saved the day
4)Not knowing what the magic doohickey does in advance makes everyone look criminally stupid

It's all the magic doohickeys fault, because it really steals the show here. Having it come from Angel is so cheap, it would have been much better for Willow to come up with a way to focus the sun through an amulet, so that the plan would make sense:

Willow :I've got this plan... but it's risky. This amulet can channel sunlight, it could theoretically wipe them all out, but it needs time to channel
Whiny potential: And how the hell are we going to hold off an army of vamps while we wait for that?
Buffy: I know exactly how...[explains slayering plan]

This would make the scenes almost identical, but would actually make goddamn sense. Hell, it would even explain why Willow just chills upstairs while the others fight for their lives. In fact, I'm just going to pretend that's what actually happened.

On a minor note, I don't love the death of Anya, but the actor specifically requested it, and, given that the final tone needs to be an uplifting, I can see why they went for a quip rather than a breakdown from Xander. I also enjoy Andrew not being certain why he's alive, but being able to make Anya's death sound more heroic than it actually was.

So not the best episode to end the show on, but not a bad one either. The core idea is really good, and a lot of the individual scenes are really great. Just plotting lets it down.

And that's really Season 7 in a nutshell. It just didn't feel very well planned, and staggers around trying to sustain 22 episodes on 11 episodes of content. To service the plot characters have to act in out of character ways: Giles, in particular becomes a shadow of what he once was. Worse yet, character arcs which seem to be happening at the start just get dropped: I'm thinking Dawn in particular, who is completely under-serviced, but also Willow who really doesn't have much time to go through what should be some big moments for her. I feel like Faith got more time than Willow did towards the end!

But in spite of all that a lot of 7 worked. That first run of episodes are really, really good, and a lot of the scene to scene writing is fun. Andrew was probably a mistake in plot terms, but he's an enjoyable one, and Storyteller is definitely a highlight, for all that it sucks up time that should have been given to other characters. I think Spike and Buffy's relationship in this season is really well written, and Spike in general is very interesting, to the point where the show ends up in danger of being the Spike show.

If I had to rank the seasons, and I do, I think I might surprise myself and go like this:

1)Season 2. This wasn't my favourite season going in, and it does suffer from early Buffy issues (some bad monster of the week episodes). But it manages to have a terrific ongoing arc, and that perfect final fight between Buffy and Angel.
2)Season 4. OK, this is a bit of a strange one. I just like a lot of individual episodes in 4. I enjoy watching it, it's a fun time for the most part, even as the season plot doesn't work. The character arcs are all really great, with the exception of Riley.
3)Season 5. This is the all about Buffy season that really nails it. It's quite harrowing in places, and the tension from the main plot really holds up. Again, a terrific concluding episode, probably the best the show ever did. This would have been a worthy final season
4)Season 3 is really good, no doubt about that, but I do think the show didn't pay quite enough attention to it's season arc to make the Faith stuff really work. I also think clearing her from the slate before the final fight was probably a mistake, but the whole school taking up arms was really cool.
5)Season 6. I love what the show is going for in Season 6, I just think it misses the mark a lot, especially with the Willow arc.
6)Season 7. See above.
7)Season 1. Yeah, there's some great stuff here, but the show doesn't know what it is yet, and it shows.

I still love Buffy. I think it's a masterpiece, but also a mess. Buffy came out at the start of the golden age of television, and it shows. It does have a clear central idea, but it's also compromised by being made by a network and being forced to produce 22 episodes with all the various restrictions that involves. Shows like the Wire and Breaking Bad got to be as long as they liked, with much less network interference, and also had the budget and talent to produce truly beautiful looking content. Buffy is great, but the direction is often very pedestrian, and those hammered out episodes to fill a slot really show.

That said, the highs of Buffy truly are magnificent, and they're unique, and weird, and impossible to replicate. I know it's not a show everyone can get along with, but it will always have a big place in my heart.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 4:12 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Having it come from Angel is so cheap, it would have been much better for Willow to come up with a way to focus the sun through an amulet, so that the plan would make sense
But it actually comes from Wolfram & Hart. Which sets up a huge turn of events with GhostSpike and so forth. In theory, WH could have expected Angel to wear the amulet to help out dear old Buffy and get vaporized in the process thus ridding themselves of this obnoxious new CEO.

But in the end, this ended how I wanted it to. With Buffy smiling.
posted by teleri025 at 2:06 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

But it actually comes from Wolfram & Hart. Which sets up a huge turn of events with GhostSpike and so forth. In theory, WH could have expected Angel to wear the amulet to help out dear old Buffy and get vaporized in the process thus ridding themselves of this obnoxious new CEO.

But doesn't that make it even worse?

But in the end, this ended how I wanted it to. With Buffy smiling.

posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:17 PM on May 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

So here's my thing? Remember that scene where Andrew, Amanda, Xander and Giles are playing D&D? ANd they're encountering "Trogdor the Burninator" (something they say kind of a lot in that scene?) Because:

1. It's the series finale, and these are precious seconds they're spending on a scene that has no plot-purpose and little thematic purpose, even.

2. This episode aired in May, 2003. The "Dragon" Strong Bad email (in which "Trogdor" was introduced) was released in January 2003. Considering how much went into this episode, that's not a lot of lead time, especially considering it needed to percolate through the early-aughts net-o-sphere long enough to get to Joss Whedon's attention, and he's basically as in touch as a dad who really wants to seem hip to his teenage kids' friends. How late-in-the-game was this scene added in? And why was it that important to him?

3. Anya, one of the best characters in the series, dies in this episode, with almost no time spent on it in the moment or in the aftermath. Name-checking Trogdor literally gets more screen time. WHY?

I'm okay with Anya (my personal favorite) dying here. In human form, she's not particularly a fighter (not like the rest of them, anyway) and it's set up through End of Days and Chosen, with her constant tactless warnings about how everyone else is going to die, particularly to Andrew. I'm okay with it being just a random bringer slicing her from behind, and Andrew making up a myth to better fit what her memory deserves - that's both real and poignant in its own way. Also, Emma Caulfield didn't want to go onto any potential Season 8, so whatever.

But her death is literally blink-and-you'll-miss-it, and barely touched on at the school bus later. The trouble here is in the execution.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:42 AM on November 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

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