Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
We open on Buffy and Angel still snogging. They break off and look at each other with that heart-melty look. Then Buffy wants to know why Angel’s there. He pulls out his folder from W&H and she starts telling him about the enemy she’s facing and how it’s upped its game considerably since “Amends.” Before Angel can tell her much about W&H’s info, Caleb gets back up and knocks him across the room, where he conks his head pretty bad on a pillar.
Last credits ever! (They haven’t changed, but it still feels significant.)
Caleb knocks Buffy rolling, using some kind of statue as a bludgeon. Buffy is very annoyed that he’s not dead. He’s super angry now, but Buffy isn’t cowed. She does this super cool double-kick thing.
Okay, I actually researched this move, and the closest thing I could find to it in real martial arts is something called a tornado kick or a 540 kick. Technically there should only be one impact. Also, Sarah’s stunt double does a much more horizontal version of the kick than everything I looked at, which is why I’m not quite sure it’s the right one. In any case, this move sends Caleb to the ground, giving her an opening to swing the Scythe up at his crotch when he gets to his feet. Then she yanks it all the way up through him, cutting him in half. Angel gets up, annoyed, but Buffy just makes a pun about Caleb and snorts. The First continues to taunt Spike about Buffy/Angel. Buffy tells Angel she’ll have the Scoobies start looking into the W&H research. Then he pulls out the amulet. He’s not sure what it does, but it’s a key MacGuffin/Deus ex Machina for the final battle. He wants to join her for that battle and be the one to wear it. Spike leaves at this point. Buffy tells him she’d rather he be elsewhere to provide a second front. He can tell there’s more to this. She heads out.
Angel follows her, and now they’re discussing Spike, because Angel is very perceptive. She doesn’t want to have this conversation. She explains that Spike has a soul, and Angel gets hilariously pouty about it.
Also, he nicknames Spike “Captain Peroxide,” which is awesome. Buffy says Spike isn’t her boyfriend but he’s in her heart. She doesn’t see a future with him, but right now, provided that she survives the final battle, she feels like she needs to figure herself out before she gives relationships another shot. She explains this with a really awkward baking cookies analogy that is one of the Buffy/Angel fandom’s favorite things. He wants to know how much of a shot he has, and she doesn’t know. He starts to leave to go get her second front ready, and she stops him—she shares his hope that he’s in her future. He leaves, disappearing into the shadows just like he did in “Welcome to the Hellmouth.” Nice.
Buffy gets home, and there Dawn is, very annoyed. She kicks Buffy in the shin. Xander would like to stay out of this. Buffy tells everyone she killed Caleb, and they’re delighted. Then Buffy goes down to the basement, where Spike is beating up a punching bag with a rather unflattering, simplistic drawing of Angel taped to it. He confronts her about the kiss he witnessed. Buffy reacts with exasperation. She used up all her patience for jealous guys on Angel. Spike holds out his hand for the amulet Angel gave her. He wants to wear it. He figures he fits the bill. Buffy seems hesitant because it’s meant for a champion. Spike seems to think that disqualifies him, but then she hands it to him with a meaningful look. Then Buffy says Faith is still in her room, and Spike acts all offended at the implication that she wants to snuggle with him some more now. Buffy turns to leave, and he admits he wasn’t serious. She’s relieved. They do end up snuggling, but Buffy leaves while he’s asleep again.
She gets a visit from the First, which looks like Caleb. It isn’t pleased to have lost Caleb, but it still has its army of Turok-Han, and it isn’t afraid of Buffy’s army of teenage girls. Buffy does some trash talk about how the First is impotent. It’s planning to become corporeal once its army overruns the world. It taunts her about how nobody can help her. It morphs into her and recites the “Into every generation a Slayer is born” thing, emphasizing “alone.” Buffy doesn’t have a reply to that, but she also doesn’t seem especially discouraged. Spike wakes up from a bizarre dream about shoes. Buffy tells him she’s realized that they can totally win.
The next day, Buffy has already told the Scoobies her plan, and now they’re reacting with a similar amount of shock to how they reacted to her plan in “Graduation Day.” Giles completely loves the idea, and Buffy really appreciates that. Willow, however, is super anxious about it. Dawn calls herself “Watcher Junior.” Awesome! Anya calls the potentials “cannon-fodder.” Buffy hands Willow the Scythe. Cut to the living room, where it’s big speech time with everyone, not just the Scoobies. Buffy tells them she believes they can beat the First the next morning. They’re going to go to the seal, open it, and end this.
Later, Faith and Wood are working on blocking off all the underground exits from the school so the vampires will be forced into the main floor. They end up discussing their one-night stand, which he doesn’t want to be like that. She’s pretty comfortable with her cynical use ‘em/discard ‘em approach to men. He says maybe their sexy times weren’t quite top notch and she gets all indignant, ready to have another go right there in the Hellmouthy school basement to prove him wrong. He talks her into giving him an opportunity to show her something more, like, relationship-wise, if they survive the fight. Yessss.
That night, Willow is still stressing about her upcoming role in this spell. Kennedy isn’t worried. She’s going to be there to keep her grounded. And she insists that Willow will be fine because that’s what she wants, and she’s a brat who gets what she wants. They kiss, but Willow wants to keep studying.
Giles and Xander appear to be planning strategy. Andrew is with them, and oh, they’re actually playing Dungeons & Dragons. Giles gets badly wounded by Trogdor the Burninator. Amanda defeats Trogdor handily, to Andrew’s annoyance. None of them can sleep, except Anya, who is snoring on the table just beyond their game.
Buffy is standing on the front porch. Spike is in the basement, looking at the amulet. Buffy comes down there, and they look at each other across the room. Fade to black, so interpret that however you want. (I’m going to interpret it as Buffy told him she wanted to spend the night with Dawn.)
It’s the big day. Wood leads the way into the school. Buffy and Xander send people to their posts. Wood will be in charge of the civilians up in the school, where their job will be dealing with any vampires that get upstairs. Willow and Kennedy will be in Wood’s office, doing a spell. Buffy, Faith, and all the girls will be down inside the seal. Xander and Dawn will be a team, Giles and Wood will be a team, and Andrew and Anya will be a team. Andrew gives a written speech on all the people he wants to thank, but Anya pulls him along to their post. Buffy tries to talk to Dawn, but she doesn’t want to have a conversation that sounds like goodbye.
Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Giles stand in a circle, the camera revolving around them as they have a silly conversation about going to the mall later. Then the younger three walk off, and Giles echoes his “The earth is doomed” line from “The Harvest. Willow peels off, then Xander, leaving Buffy to go down to the seal, where all the girls and Spike are waiting. They go around the circle, cutting their hands to get blood to open the seal. It works. Buffy leads the way inside.
Willow is all set up with her spell. She’s very scared, and she wants to make sure Kennedy is prepared to kill her if she goes evil.
In the seal, Spike isn’t getting anything from the amulet. They walk farther in, over to a ledge, and see the Mordor-sized army of Turok-Han. Buffy jinxes everything by saying they’ll be fine as long as Willow finishes the spell before they get spotted, so of course, that’s when every last Turok-Han turns to look at them, then sprints in their direction.
Willow is doing the spell. The Scythe starts to power up and get all glowy,Willow gets hit with the power, which is overwhelming. Cut to Buffy’s speech the previous day. Right after she said that only she and Faith were Slayers, she went on to ask the potentials, what if they could all be Slayers too, right now? What if they broke the one Slayer at a time rule even more than she and Faith have broken it by both being alive? Willow is powerful enough to pull it off. It switches to a voiceover as all of the potentials become Slayers. They can feel their surge of power. And it’s not just the girls there at the school; there are girls becoming Slayers all over the world.
The Turok-Han reach the girls, who are all Slayers now. Kennedy reels a bit from her new power, then looks at Willow. Her hair is glowing white, and she looks completely awestruck. The power coming from this thing is good. Her own magic might even have been purified. There are tears on her cheeks. The glow vanishes, and she’s left kind of wiped out. She hands Kennedy the Scythe and sends her to join the battle, then falls over, kind of giggly about how awesome that was.
Cut to the battle. Kennedy arrives and tosses the Scythe to Buffy, who kicks major butt with it. All the girls are really enjoying their new strength. Upstairs in the school, Anya is totally freezing up with terror. Andrew encourages her to picture happy things. He includes bunnies in his list, which makes Anya angry enough to get grounded again. Vampires reach Wood and Giles, who are an excellent team. Andrew tries to avoid fighting by telling the vampires he has swimmers’ ear. Anya beheads two vampires, but then Harbingers come creeping up behind her.
Down in the battle, Spike’s amulet finally starts doing something. It heats up and seems to freeze him in place. Buffy is shouting orders to her Slayer army, but she fails to stay on guard and gets impaled from behind. It’s on the side, though. She’s probably fine. She stumbles a bit and collapses. Faith spots her and runs over. Buffy gives her the Scythe. She kicks lots of butt with it.
Upstairs, Dawn pulls open a skylight to fry three vamps at once. Andrew gets cornered, and then Anya gets diagonally cut almost entirely in half by a Harbinger. Dang, she killed über-vamps only to lose to a Harbinger? That sucks. Wood takes a pretty nasty slash to the stomach, but Giles kills his assailant.
Faith gets buried by vamps and tosses the Scythe to Rona. Amanda and a Chinese Slayer are killed. The First appears as Buffy to taunt Buffy, who’s still on the ground. She grits her teeth and tells it to get out of her face. She gets back up, and the AWESOME MUSIC starts up. I love this track so much. It’s on my playlist of most epic score tracks. It is the music of the good guys rallying and moving towards victory. Spike has been fighting, but then the amulet activates for real. It blows a hole right up to the surface and through the school, past Willow in Wood’s office. Sunlight beams down directly onto him and the amulet. It reflects off it and dusts hundreds of vampires. He can feel the power of it, and he can feel his soul. Faith yells for everyone to get out of the school, because the ground is shaking. Upstairs, Andrew is slumped in a corner while the Harbinger that attacked him is lying dead with his sword through its chest. He can’t believe he’s still alive. One of the girls grabs him and pulls him out. Giles and Wood are outside. Wood yells for everyone to get on the bus. Xander tries to find Anya, but she’s dead on the floor, just out of his line of sight.
Down in the Hellmouth, Spike is still stuck there with the amulet. Buffy doesn’t want to leave him, but the entire cavern is collapsing now. She grabs his hand, and both their hands burst into flames (or maybe it’s just his, ‘cause sunlight—not sure). She tells him she loves him, he tells her she doesn’t, but thanks. Then the ground shakes again, and he tells her to leave. She finally does. He stays (not sure he has any other choice anyway). Faith comes running out of a cloud of rubble that exploded from the school. She makes it onto the bus. Dawn is sitting in the very back seat, watching for Buffy as they drive away. Buffy is running through the school. Spike slowly burns to dust while laughing.
Various characters try to tend to each other’s injuries as Wood floors it. Dawn is still watching for Buffy. She’s running along the rooftop next to them, and she makes an enormous leap, landing on the next building. Then, as the bus passes the Sun Cinema, she jumps on top of it. The entire town is caving in. The bus makes it past the city limits, and Faith has Wood stop. Buffy jumps off the bus. Dawn gets out and hugs her. The Scoobies and some Slayers climb out and marvel at the sight of the crater formerly known as Sunnydale. The Sunnydale sign topples into the crater. Xander asks Andrew what happened, and Andrew tells him a story of how Anya died nobly in battle. Xander is grieving, but proud.
Wood asks Faith if they made it, and she says they did. He’s glad. Then he stops moving. She thinks he’s dead, and she’s clearly sad about it. She goes to close his eyes, but then he coughs and jolts back to awareness. They laugh about how he surprised her, just like he said.
Faith, Willow, and Xander join Buffy, Dawn, and Giles at the edge of the crater. Giles points out that there’s another Hellmouth in Cleveland. Willow can feel all the Slayers awakening across the world. Xander jokes about all the shops that fell in the crater. Giles tries to be serious about what they’ll do next. Faith just wants to rest for a while. They all ask Buffy what they’re going to do next. She just smiles the smile of someone who, for the first time since she became a Slayer, feels like she has a future.
“Chosen” is a fantastic finale. It has so many cool nods to the history of the show. There’s Angel making his classic exit, there’s the core four Scoobies having a moment together (that’s actually full of good feelings, rather than tension), and there’s Giles repeating his line from “The Harvest.” Also, an excellent fight scene between Buffy and Caleb and then just phenomenal battle sequences during the actual final battle. The pacing is good. I liked the pre-battle scenes, particularly Faith/Wood and the D&D game. The music is absolutely stunning. The amulet is definitely a massive deus ex machina, and it sort of undermines a lot of the rest of the battle. For instance, if they’d known exactly what it did, could they have just sent Spike down into the seal by himself and wiped out the entire Turok-Han army in one swoop, without even fighting? Were the deaths of Anya and several new Slayers avoidable? Or could the amulet only be activated by, like, mass acts of valor, or something? Was it feeding off the energy of all the new Slayers fighting? Regardless, “Chosen” is probably my favorite episode of the season, and I love how it ends on such an optimistic note, despite the one and a half major character deaths. (Spike is the half, because he’ll be back in the next episode of Angel.) I think what I like most about it (after the music, anyway) is Buffy’s brilliant game-changing move. For seven seasons, we and the characters have just kind of taken it for granted that Slayers getting called only when the previous Slayer dies is just how it works. But is that really how it needs to work? Why not change that, if you can? Freaking brilliant. So the Slayer calling goes from being one girl’s insurmountable burden to being something that a couple thousand girls at a time can share, making it much less of an obstacle to them pursuing the things they want from Plot B. Oh! And it also has a thing that I’m starting to think is a staple of Joss Whedon’s stuff: the villain accidentally giving the hero their idea for saving the day while muah-ha-ha-ing at them. It happens in Serenity too. And that concludes my final Buffy review! (Not counting the character analysis. Obviously.)
This is Buffy at her best. She’s a fantastic leader, particularly when she has hope. She’s extremely good at coming up with outside-the-box solutions. She believes in her friends. She puts herself last. And she has been so lonely in her role as Slayer for seven years, so she can kick her superiority complex right out the window for an opportunity to share her power with all these other girls. She has defeated everything that’s come at her, but now she doesn’t have to be the Chosen One anymore. And regarding her and Angel, I think she refused to let him stay for the battle for the same reason she didn’t want Dawn to stay for the battle. She loves him, and she would be very distracted in the fight if she was worrying about his safety.
I feel like it’s been a while since Xander really had a solid, goofy joke. I’m glad he had one in the finale. For all the times he made me angry in the early seasons, Xander grew up a lot and became a character I both like and respect. Kudos.
I love the moment where Anya uses her fear/hatred of bunnies to motivate herself in the battle. It’s like she decided to fight but didn’t really process what it might mean until it was upon her. And then, of course, she died the death of an extra. Brutal.
Dawn has the same clever resourcefulness as Buffy. I kind of like how she refuses to have a “final” conversation with Buffy, but I do wish that there had been more scenes for the two of them, considering all the “she won’t choose you in the end”/kicking Buffy out of the house drama. All the screentime that could’ve been used for Buffy and Dawn was sort of wasted on lengthy scenes for both of Buffy’s ships. I’m not saying I’d give up a second of Buffy/Angel for some sister bonding time, but I’d happily trade the Buffy/Spike scene for it.
Spike’s reaction to the amulet, where he’s kind of surprised to feel his soul, is interesting. Has he been worrying ever since he got it that it was really just the placebo effect and he hadn’t changed? What kinds of insecurities has he been burying under his “Spike” persona? Also, I really like when he tells Buffy that she doesn’t love him. I think she does, but not in the same way he loves her, and he’s finally made his peace with that.
The way I’ve always interpreted the effect of the mass Slayer spell on Willow is that it repaired the damage her rampage as Dark Willow did to her. This was her first truly positive experience with magic, where it felt right instead of like she was teetering on the brink of evil and madness, in a long time. It was just as overwhelming as the dark magic, but it was pure and good, and it healed her. I would be very surprised if she had any difficulty performing neutral or white magic spells from this point on, and black magic probably isn’t even a temptation for her.
I was right! Giles is totally back to being the Giles I loved so much in the first five seasons. He’s impressed by Buffy’s ideas and wholly supportive of them. Also, he still can’t stop thinking about the next problem. What about Cleveland? What about finding the other Slayers? Nope, no breathers for Giles. He wants a project, and more fascinating Plot A stuff to unravel. It’s great.
Angel’s role in this episode has frequently been criticized as being incredibly incongruous with his arc in his own show. I can sort of see where the skeptics are coming from, and I’m fully aware that I’m rather biased in Angel’s favor, but to me, it seems like after the madness of Angel S4, giving Connor up to his happy family and losing Cordelia to Jasmine’s schemes and the coma, this detour to Sunnydale is like a brief reset for him. Sunnydale and Buffy are familiar and comforting, and they kind of represent the beginning of his own journey. It would be very welcome to be part of a straightforward good versus evil battle after the more ambiguous stuff with Jasmine and Wolfram & Hart. Yeah, I’m good with this. And him being a total hipster about soulfulness is freaking hilarious.
Faith has been awesome the entire time since her prison break, and it definitely doesn’t stop here. It really feels like she’s achieved the level of acceptance by the whole group that she always wanted but was too belligerent to let happen in S3. She does a great job as Buffy’s second-in-command during the battle, and it’s clear how much Buffy means to her when she’s so reluctant to accept the Scythe from a seemingly mortally wounded Buffy. But I also like the evidence of her selflessness when she throws the axe to Rona just as she gets buried by vamps. And then there’s her and Wood, which I super ship. I like that instead of her being immediately interested in a real relationship with him, he has to work past her old emotional barriers. It wouldn’t make sense otherwise.
I love Wood! I love how he handles Faith’s attitude. Sass and reverse psychology. Bahaha. But he clearly genuinely cares for her and wants her to see that intimacy doesn’t have to be just physical. And I’m so glad he survived the episode, because it would’ve sucked for Faith to lose him just when she was willing to give him a shot.
Andrew was surprisingly less annoying than I remembered him. I still don’t understand the in-story rationale behind his transition from prisoner to second-tier Scooby, but I didn’t hate most of his scenes. He was pretty funny, and everyone else’s reactions to him were also entertaining. I’m sure I would’ve preferred Jonathan, but Andrew is no longer one of my major issues with this season.
“Hey, party in my eye-socket and everyone’s invited!”
“I used to be a highly respected Watcher. Now I’m a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.