Friday, July 09, 2010

Why the last epsiode of Buffy the vampire slayer is the worst, and best, episode of Buffy the Vampire slayer.

The final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Chosen, is a great piece of television. It brings together themes that have existed in the show from the beginning, and the victory is entirely about female empowerment.

The episode begins with Buffy splitting Caleb, the embodyment of misogny (and a terrific villain) in two, and a quick unification with Angel reminds us of Buffy's journey. She returns home triumphant, with the spoils of war, and forms her plan for the final fight.

The final battle is triumphant and epic. Hordes of vampires descend on to girls who quickly become women as the power of the slayer is finally taken from men (in the form of the watchers, who are usually male), and given to all the potentials there. This is the reason why they win, because they have dared to do something different, something unthinkable.

Along the way we tie together loose ends, and we have a lovely moment with the original 4 which ties directly to the start of the series again.

In a moment of sheer genius, the whol of Sunnydale gets dragged into the earth, meaning Buffy has to make an exciting roof top, leading to that final moment of joy as Buffy realises she is finally free of the burden of responsibility she has carried for seven years.

Of course, thats all nonsense.

Caleb is a terrific villain who brings a sense of pace this series badly needed. So he is killed at the start of the show, a massive mistake. Next, the conflict set up only last episode is apparently resolved, but not well- the writing basically resets half the characters to earlier status (including Giles). While this means that we get back our likable cast, it makes no goddamn sense. The magic axe, and plan associated with it, seems to come straight out of the writers arses, and worse yet, its not even the item which ensures the heroes victory. Instead a magic amulet found in a different series is what really kills off the horde of evil vampires.

The entire episode sacrifices sense for theme, with vampires who were originally incredibly hard to kill going down more easily than standard vampires and Buffy collapsing from a fatal wound and then apparently being fine. With the main villain dead, the First evil, represented by a ghostly Buffy, lacks menace, as she has all series, and while her army presents a threat, its a somewhat mindless one, and certainly has no deeper thematic meaning behind it.

While Spike's death makes sense, Anya's does not. Understandably Joss Whedon wants to show that this is a battle where people will die, but by having the deah off stage we have to be fine with it in the space of a few minutes, which is more than a little frustrating.

Ultimately the final episode of buffy is a blending of the problems and successes of the rest of the show. It doesn't really hold a candle to the Gift, an episode which was originally intended to be a possible end to the show, even if the ending to that was a lot darker.

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