Sigh … I finished! I finished the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (well, on TV … there’s always the comics!). And I have so many feelings! Of course, for the last season, the whole gang was there – Faith, Giles, Angel, the First, even Jonathon, all back and ready to go.
It was really great to get past season 6 with the promise of a brighter season 7. Although, you could tell off the bat it wasn’t going to be quite a normal season. There were some things I picked up on fairly quickly after going through the whole series in the span of a year.
The principal was always too pretty to be trusted. Of course he had a secret. Luckily, it turned out to be a (mostly) good one. As soon as he said his mother was a slayer I knew it was the one that Spike had killed. The timelines matched up and why else would they write it into the plot if not to make it an issue?
About three episodes in, we were seeing teenage girls killed at the beginning of each episode, and I started wondering if they were potential slayers. I really liked that overall arc of training a new generation and how everything changed at the end by activating all of the slayers – creating an entirely new world.
While I was glad to see Willow begin to recover from Tara’s death, my roommate and I were immediately squicked at her relationship Kennedy since we were under the impression that she was about 16 or 17 to Willow’s 21/22 (later research implies that Kennedy is closer to 19 which makes more sense). Also she came on very aggressively to a suffering and gentle Willow. It was nice to see Willow fall in love again, and revisiting Tara’s death handled some very important issues for her, and while I liked Kennedy’s character (finally, a Latina!), she didn’t seem right for Willow.
Giles frustrated me this season. He left for England, and then comes back and tells Buffy “you’re in charge now, it’s all on you, you have to be an adult” and then turns around and says “you’re doing this wrong”. It really grated on me. Either stay and help and guide, or don’t criticize when you put all of the responsibility solely on her. Though my frustration didn’t stop my panic for the couple death scares – still really glad he made it through.
The whole mutiny really frustrated me. The entire scene made me want to throw something. At first I was like, wow, Faith is being reasonable (really appreciated her this season). She was asking to take a step back and re-evaluate the plan calmly. Then, things escalated extremely quickly. The scared teenagers revolted, having finally confronted death and real war. Buffy’s reaction was to go full-on authoritarian, unmoving and uncompromising, which of course served only to alienate her friends who normally would have backed her up. And she was already feeling betrayed because of Giles’ and Robin’s move to kill Spike. While I was sitting there saying, “Why on earth would you want Faith to lead you over Buffy? Faith has less than half of her experience,” at the same time Buffy handled it all horribly – but with the weight of the world that everyone had decidedly put on her, could you blame her for overreacting?
I’m going to be honest, I was happy that Faith then proceeded to lead them into a trap. Not because I thought she was leading poorly, but so that these teenagers would wake up and realize they are fighting a war and people will die, regardless of who’s at the helm. It was the second wake up call they needed. Also when Spike came back and tore them all a new one.
Speaking of Spike …
Let’s start at the beginning. I was startled to see him gone mad in the first episode, I hadn’t thought getting his soul back would do that. Then I realized I was thinking of Angel, who’d had his soul back for years before ever meeting Buffy. However, there was clearly something more at work than just his own personal torture from souls he’d killed. His struggle with The First, and the memories of his mother, were all very twisted and disturbing.
The whole argument about whether or not to kill Spike … I would mostly agree with Buffy, if she hadn’t gone after Anya. She can’t argue that it’s worth taking a chance on Spike but not Anya, who’s done far more good for far longer than Spike. Yet, that’s what Buffy does. Like the rest of the cast, I couldn’t see much of a real reason to let Spike live, even though I wanted him to. But that’s because it wasn’t logic that guided Buffy’s decision.
All through season 6 I wondered how people could possibly ship Buffy and Spike’s abusive relationship as compared to Buffy and Angel. I started seeing these actual tender moments between them now that he had a soul. Since it’s the Whedonverse and Buffy is an awesome Strong Female Character, obviously she wasn’t all over him the minute he came back with a soul. But the soul allows him to change and – most importantly – let her go. The action was originally selfish, hoping that getting his soul back would “win him the girl”. But after he had it, he understood that she wasn’t beholden to him and he wasn’t entitled to her affection. He understood that it was her choice and she had rejected him, and he chose to live with that – and be there for her anyways.
And it’s those moments, when he’s there for her without expecting anything in return, that a real connection begins to develop between them. It’s such a drastic change from their season 6 relationship. It’s implied that they never even have sex again, but instead share far more intimacy than they ever did before. And it was so brief, so beautiful, that of course it had to go up in epic flames. That last moment between them (and almost the last moment of the entire series), when Buffy says she loves him and Spike says, you don’t but thanks for saying it, is as heart wrenching and iconic a moment as in any fandom.
So after all that, such an incredible show … I guess now I have to watch Angel and buy the comics 🙂