Buffy the Vampire Slayer Review

Buffy the Vampire Slayer created by Joss Whedon


Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Anne Summers) Website: SMGfan.com | James Marsters (Spike aka William the Bloody) Website: James Marsters.com | Nicholas Brendon (Alexander 'Xander' LaVelle Harris) Website: Nick Brendon.com | Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg) Website: HDC - Alyson Hannigan Central | Emma Caulfield (Anya Emerson aka Anyanka) Website: Anya.Org.UK | Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers aka The Key) Website: Michelle-Trachtenberg.com | Amber Benson (Tara MacLay) Website: The Essence of Amber

6.22: Grave

Written by David Fury | Directed by James Contner

Brief Summary: It's the end of the road as Willow decides to destroy the world and only one person can stop her.

So it's finally over. 22 episodes of year 6 have come and gone. And it must be said, I think this was one of the most disappointing Seasons I've seen on Buffy, even including Season 4. However, in a curious ironic twist the finale was probably one of the best.

After an almost relentless grind of depressing episodes, this one finally had some happy endings. Which doesn't excuse the fact that we had to sit through a year of misery. It's a good idea in theory. Put the gang through hell and watch them rebuild their lives. And yes, as a story arc, maybe 6 episodes, it would have probably been fine. But a whole year?! Jesus, it's a miracle I wasn't forced to take Valium to cheer myself up. Strangely, I still think the basic idea's sound. But the execution wasn't right and while I don't blame Marti exclusively for this Season, she's still got to take some of the rap since she's creatively driving the show. But ultimately the blame must lie with Joss. He's still heavily involved with the show and the major plot decisions must be placed at his feet. But unfortunately, it's because he's not involved enough that the show suffered this year. Things would have been done differently if he was 100% hands on and maybe there would be a better balance in the show. But when you've got 3 on the go at the same time, then he has to step back. It's no coincidence that the first 3 seasons are very much 100% Joss Whedon and they are simply brilliant. Start to water down his influence and you lose that creative talent. But hey! I'm digressing. I'm here to talk about this episode and it was indeed a cracker.

The major scene was of course Xander talking Willow out of destroying the world. It sounds a rather lame way to stop the Big Bad when it's written down. But it works. It totally, totally works. Xander saying 'I love You' as Willow hits and cuts him, trying to hurt him but with less enthusiasm every time. Magic, pure acting magic. The sort of chemistry you can only get from 2 actors who have spent 6 years working together. Xander feeling impotent all season and making mistakes finally makes sense, as he is reborn as the true heart and soul of the group. I'm not going to repeat myself again, but I only needed a few episodes of Xander going downhill, not a whole year. But yeah, Willow crying and holding on to Xander, the blackness draining from her hair being replaced with a vibrant red. Emotional stuff. (I remember Willow had Blonde hair in the promo shots at the start of the season - what happened there?)

Giles thankfully wasn't knocked out after 2 minutes. His handling of Willow was excellent, quietly speaking but with a steel undercurrent. But his reunion with Buffy was even better. Just hugging her, letting her know he was going to try and right things was great stuff. And laughing at all the misfortunes that had befallen the gang this year, a totally unexpected but bright reaction. His laughter truly was infectious and I'm sure many a fan was laughing with them as well. I'm glad that Buffy and Giles are indeed back together, even if it is only for a few episodes.

The other big winner of this finale was Dawn. She was written exactly the way I thought she was going to be this year. Instead of a whiny little sister who stole stuff, she was portrayed as a worthy successor to Buffy. Fighting against the monsters at the end, watching Buffys back, she truly has come of age. The whole stealing plot was and still is a misfire, probably the most pointless story arc in the history of BtVS. But I presume it's gone now and we can see Dawn as more of a partner with Buffy instead of a liability.

And of course Spike. So his big reward was getting his Soul back. I actually suspected this was more likely than getting the chip out. But the more I think about it, the more I am genuinely pleased the writers have done this. Because this is the one way, possibly the only way that Spike can be redeemed in my eyes after the attempted rape. He is effectively a different person. The old Spike, driven to almost unspeakable acts by a frustration born of being neither a hero nor a monster, is effectively gone. He has a soul and is a new man. Just as Angelus is not Angel, so Spike is not William. I wonder if he will change his name now to reflect his new status. Of course, none of this excuses what he tried to do. But he really is a different character now and I have hopes he will be truly redeemed.

Other moments of note:

  • Anya was also very well portrayed this episode. She really has come back to form after a rather annoying personality change. She also worked very well with Giles. Any chance of spinning her off with him in England?

  • Well, Amy never showed. Quite why she was even brought back is something of a mystery. Yes, it's great continuity, but the character just isn't the same person.

  • I was quite surprised Jonathon & Andrew escaped. I'd bet we see them again, perhaps as a failed Batman & Robin duo.

  • Did Spike go to Africa? I'm hearing he may have gone to South America now. It would certainly explain the time gap.

  • Great ending with Buffy and Dawn walking into a paradise aka Season 7

  • I think we may have seen the foundations laid for Season 8 and Dawn, or maybe a spin off. Time will tell.

So that is that. What a great finale, which doesn't make up for a dissapointing Season, but taken on it's own terms, this was brilliant. I have high hopes for Season 7, a back to basics approach and hopefully more like Joss's funny, earlier episodes. 5/5

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    Copyright © 2001 - 2002 David McNulty