Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Wow, the previouslies go all the way back to S1 for some reason. We pretty much get flashes of every single thing that’s happened in the last five seasons. Then we open on a teenage boy in a striped shirt fleeing down an alley. A vampire strolls up to him, then taunts him a bit. Buffy pops her head out into the alley from what seems to be the backdoor of the Magic Box. This vampire hasn’t heard of her. That’s rare these days. The boy tries to convince Buffy to run, but Buffy calmly strolls up with the banter. They fight. It’s a pretty good fight. Buffy wins, and the boy is shocked that a tiny girl like her could win against a big vampire like that.
Buffy goes back inside the Magic Box. She insists on going through the lore until they find a way to stop Glory’s ritual without killing Dawn. It seems that the barriers between dimensions will only be down while the ritual is happening (while Dawn’s blood is still flowing after it’s been spilled). Glory isn’t collapsing all reality into a single chaotic dimension forever; just for a few minutes while she makes the trip home. But it will pretty much destroy Earth in the process, even if the barriers go back up afterward.
Tara is upset that they’re keeping her at the Magic Box. Xander is annoyed that Dawn’s blood is the thing, and Spike explains that blood is life; of course it’s her blood. Buffy decides the plan is to stop Glory before she starts the ritual. That way, Dawn won’t have to die. She doesn’t want to talk about the alternative. Giles angrily insists on it. Buffy will not entertain the notion of having to kill Dawn, because Dawn is a part of her. Giles knows the price will be universal suffering and torment; she can’t put Dawn above all that. Anya wants them to come up with ideas about stopping Glory before the ritual. Xander votes they kill Ben to kill Glory, but he can’t quite stomach it. Giles doesn’t think Ben will surface so close to the ritual. Spike and Willow vote distract Glory until the specified time passes.
They can use the Dagon sphere, which was designed to repel Glory. Also, Olaf’s hammer. And as to finding Glory, crazy Tara might be able to lead them to her.
Ben brings Dawn a ceremonial dress. Dawn isn’t interested in participating. Ben has the gall to be apologetic even as he’s trying to push her into cooperating. Dawn yells at him until he switches back to Glory, because at least she doesn’t pretend she cares about her. Glory thinks Ben’s the reason she hasn’t killed any of the Scoobies yet. Dawn thinks Buffy’s just stronger than Glory. Glory tells Dawn about what happens when the portal’s open, and how Dawn’s death will be what closes it. Maybe when Buffy shows up, she won’t be there to save Dawn.
Buffy goes to town on a punching bag. Giles informs her they’re still coming up with plans. They want to wait until the last possible moment, to maximize their chance to delay Glory. He apologizes for taking such a hard line about Dawn. Buffy understands, but she will stop him if he tries to hurt her. Buffy thinks back on the other apocalypses she stopped. Particularly sending Angel to hell. She doesn’t have it in her to make a sacrifice play like that again. What’s the point of living in this world if everything gets taken away from her like that? She wants her mom. She tells Giles about how death is her gift. If Dawn dies, she quits.
Dawn is wearing the ritual dress now. Minions grab Dawn and she screams for Buffy. They drag her to a scary metal frame tower made by crazy people. Back at the Magic Box, Anya and Xander have been wasting precious pre-apocalypse prep time with sex, when they were supposed to be looking for the Dagon sphere. They find the Buffybot, sitting there, off. Anya finds a stuffed bunny and thinks it’s an omen of doom. She usually runs away when an apocalypse rolls around, but she loves Xander too much to run away this time. She’s falling to pieces. Xander proposes. She slaps him for proposing during an apocalypse. She says yes, but she won’t take the ring until after they save the world.
Willow has some ideas. She’s terrified that Buffy considers her the big gun in this fight. She’s the only one who’s ever hurt Glory. Willow thinks she might be able to reverse the brain-sucking of Tara, which should weaken Glory. Tara smacks Willow, angry that she can’t be where she’s supposed to be.
Xander, Anya, and Giles have an idea that we don’t get to hear (which means it’ll probably work). Buffy interrupts a snark-fest between Spike and Xander and has Spike come with her. To her house, to get weapons. She has to invite him in again. He makes rather a big deal of it, and then they gear up. Buffy very much doubts everyone will make it out alive. She gives Spike the job of protecting Dawn. I guess she’ll be focusing on Glory. He thanks her for treating him like a person.
The minions are tying Dawn to the platform on the top of the tower. At the Magic Box, everyone’s ready. Willow has Tara lead them to Glory. She tells Giles (or Spike?) that he’s a killer, then heads out of the shop. Buffy’s pep talk is pretty much just “Remember, we better stop the ritual before it starts or I’ll kill anyone who tries to hurt Dawn.” Tara picks at her cast as she leads them to the tower. Yeah, sweetie, you still need that. It’s been what, two days max since all the bones in your hand got crushed by god strength? They can see the tower now.
Tara goes in first, and she does get the cast off. (Argh, seriously?) Glory spots her, and then Willow pops out to reverse-brainsuck Tara. The three ladies get blasted apart by the spell, Glory is definitely less sane now. And now Buffy’s there to fight her. Glory sends her minions to guard Dawn. Buffy tosses the Dagon sphere at Glory. She crushes it. Not sure it did much, but Buffy starts punching and kicking her before we can know for sure.
The Scoobies rush in to attack the assembled minions. Dawn is still on the top of the tower, but she can see the fight below. Willow gets up and finds Tara, who still has a very broken hand but is sane again! They cry and hold each other tightly. Glory kicks Buffy’s head off, except, that was the Buffybot. Now here’s the real Buffy, with Olaf’s hammer. She smacks Glory across the alley. Dawn screams for Buffy, and she starts going up the tower.
Glory chases her. They fight on the stairs. Buffy can’t get enough of a lead on Glory to get all the way to the top, but she keeps trying. It’s like a very intense version of Chutes and Ladders. Glory succeeds in knocking them both all the way back to the ground. Glory taunts her for losing the hammer, but then she gets hit by a wrecking ball, courtesy of Xander.
Glory’s window to start the ritual is closing. But Doc is at the top of the tower, and he’s not there to help Dawn. He whips out a knife. Spike knows there’s someone up there. Willow starts talking to him telepathically. She orders him to go up to the top of the tower. She and Tara clear his path telekinetically. Spike makes it to the top before Doc can stab Dawn. Doc grabs Spike and stabs him.
Buffy and Glory are still fighting. Glory is not having fun. Buffy whacks her with the hammer a few more times. Doc wonders why Spike would bother protecting Dawn, since he doesn’t have a soul. Spike says it’s because he made a promise. Doc tosses him off the tower. He lands hard on the ground a hundred feet below.
Glory begs Buffy to stop it, but Buffy doesn’t. She hits her in the gut with the hammer until it starts making very gross noises. Glory changes back to Ben, who is too hurt to move. Buffy tells him and Glory to leave her and her friends and family alone forever, or she’ll kill them. She races up the tower. Giles comes over to Ben. Ben’s surprised Buffy didn’t kill him/Glory. Giles explains that Buffy is a hero, unlike him and Ben. Then he calmly smothers Ben to death. Bye forever, Glory!
Doc slices Dawn’s arms a few times. Buffy casually shoves him off the tower. Dawn’s blood falls onto the spot where the portal opens, and open it does. Whoops. It’s too late. Hell dimensions start infecting Sunnydale with lightning-strike type energy projections from the portal. The earth cracks open. Anya gets buried under a pile of collapsing rubble.
Dawn apologizes to Buffy, then makes to run and jump into the portal, which will kill her and then close. Buffy won’t let her. A dragon appears out of the portal! Awesome. Dawn is determined to sacrifice herself to stop the portal. It occurs to Buffy that there may be a loophole. She knows what “death is your gift” means now. The sun begins to rise. Dawn realizes what Buffy’s going to do. She tries to argue, but Buffy has something important to tell her. Then she kisses Dawn’s cheek, turns, and runs to dive into the portal.
As Buffy gets buffeted by the portal’s energy, we hear a voiceover of what she told Dawn. The portal closes and Buffy falls, dead, to the ground. In the voiceover, she has messages for all the gang. She wants Giles to know she figured it out and she’s okay. She wants her friends to know she loves them. Dawn has to take care of them and be strong and brave. The whole gang approaches Buffy’s body, stricken with grief.
The final shot of the episode is a slow zoom to Buffy’s grave. She saved the world a lot.
Like the previous episode, I like the way “The Gift” does a fantastic job of bringing the season to a close by tying almost all of the one-shots of S5 together. However, it just occurred to me this second that the one one-shot they didn’t tie into “The Gift” was “The Replacement,” which is a shame, because that ferrula gemina rod could have split Ben and Glory into two separate parts. What happened to that rod? Did they break it? And maybe it wouldn’t have been a good thing to separate Glory from Ben, because last time we learned that when Glory was banished from her dimension, they stuck her inside the body of a human so that she’d be weakened. Maybe separate from Ben she’d be at her full strength and completely unstoppable. Possibly even immune to the effects of Ben getting killed. *shrug* (By the time I’ve finished reviewing all 254 episodes of the Buffyverse, you will fully appreciate how much I overthink things.) Olaf’s hammer is certainly way more powerful than it used to be, though, because if it was strong enough to beat up Glory, then Xander should have been a sticky paste on the Magic Box’s floor in “Triangle.” I suppose it’s possible that Olaf himself wasn’t worthy of the hammer, so when he used it, it was only at a fraction of its full strength. Buffy, on the other hand, is basically Thor. I’m not sure they sufficiently explained how Buffy would be an adequate substitute for Dawn to close the portal, and that detracts a little bit from her sacrifice. On the whole, though, it was a very powerful and well-earned moment. I like the way the episode starts out with an ordinary bout of vampire slayage, too, because it can come full circle by the end. As for what I actually don’t like, it’s pretty much just how Xander and Anya were literally screwing around when they were supposed to be helping save the world. I mean, that’s what Willow and Oz did in “Graduation Day,” but only after they’d completed their assigned task. It ruined the proposal scene a little bit. I’d say “The Gift” is probably not as strong as “Graduation Day,” “Becoming,” or “Prophecy Girl,” but I think it’s the best finale of the post-high school seasons.
I pretty much agree with both Buffy and Giles about the solution to this apocalypse. Yes, let’s shut it down before it gets off the ground, and it’s completely unreasonable that Buffy would have to sacrifice her baby sister to save the world. She’s already given up so much. She sacrificed her own life once already, she’s had to give up so many of the things she cared about—she essentially gave up the last years of her childhood to save the world, and she had to send Angel to hell. How is that not enough already? So sacrificing herself again instead of letting Dawn die, even though Dawn was willing to do it that way, was definitely the best option. Buffy is amazing. What’s kind of tragic, though, is the almost relieved look on her face when she finally realized this loophole. She’s been run completely to the bone by the events of this season, and she just wants to be done now. If she sacrifices herself one more time, the world will be safe, Dawn will be alive, and it will all be over. Buffy needs lots of hugs, followed by a long vacation.
I like that Xander came up with the idea of killing Ben, but I wish he hadn’t winced so much over it. Glory is a god, and she’s not going to stop until at the very least, one innocent girl is dead, and at the very worst, the entire multiverse is in utter chaos. If the only way to stop her is by killing her human half, then suck it up and kill her human half.
Willow is a very selfish person, but fortunately, she was able to figure out a way to get what she wanted and hurt Glory at the same time. Kudos. (I’m not being sarcastic; I genuinely like her plan.)
Anya, at the end of a rather excellent character arc about facing her mortality, is sticking around for the apocalypse! Go Anya! Yes, she might just be the character with the most positive character growth this season.
I love how much Dawn believes in Buffy, and if we needed convincing that she’s really Buffy’s sister, well, there she was, willing to jump in the portal to save the world herself.
It’s time for another round of “how are Spike’s actions possible if he has no soul?” My favorite game! (Not.) I have no problem with the idea of Spike diving headfirst into a battle he thinks might kill him, because he’s always been that way (just not usually on the good guys’ team). He loves his violence. The scene where Buffy invites him into her house again and he’s all honored is so weird. He makes a big deal of it, but I do not think Buffy meant it to have that much significance. He’s basically useless in the battle (which validates my belief that the Scoobies could’ve survived just fine if they’d killed him off in S3 or early S4). And then he’s so grief-stricken when Buffy dies that he can’t even stay upright. I still don’t believe it’s possible for him to genuinely love Buffy, but even someone harboring a deepseated selfish obsession would be devastated if the object of that obsession died.
Giles quietly smothering Ben is one of the most chilling moments in the series, but it was very necessary. There’s no way Glory would’ve taken her defeat lying down. She would’ve come after them again and again and again, like a Batman villain. Or, Giles could just kill Ben, and that would be the end of it. I also agree with Giles that killing Dawn would be the better option if the only other choice is chaos and destruction for every dimension ever. Luckily, Buffy is the master of finding a third option.
“We few, we happy few.”
“We band of buggered.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.