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November 17 2004

A Buffy season 7 review. "It winds up being a mess of ill-conceived zeitgeist".

I have no idea what he's referring to with his comment about "an actress who had become a problem child on the set".

Interesting review. Although I loved Nathan Fillion coming on the show I wouldn't say his character saved the season. I liked season seven better than this guy did. I'm looking forward to watching it on DVD and I'm sure I'll like it even better. The middle of the season was weak for me but I felt that way about season six seeming to drag and I didn't feel that way when I got to watch it uninterrupted on DVD.

I don't know or care either about the actress is but I don't want to see a thread turned into speculation about who it could be. Cause let's be honest what does it achieve? Bugger all in fact.

Anyway, an interesting review all the same.
How the heck does HE know about actor's pettiness?
Ugh I think I've had my fill by this point of negative UPN Buffy reviews, at this point I'm officially tired of it and wish to just seclude myself from it.

I am one of those people who tends to be really really hard on TV shows and film, but I never really had a problem with Buffy's quality. There were some pretty bad episodes throughout the shows run, but I would not claim that any season ever truly dissapointed me.

So yah I don't agree with the claim that the last two seasons were bad, nor do I believe I am part of some "small-segment of fans" who doesn't "realise" the low quality of the series.

About the problem child on set, I think based on his comments (and all sorts of rumours) it's pretty obvious which actress he's talking about. I think I'll leave it at that.
and yes I concur Wheels Of Joy, I find it amusing that this writer seems to be so "in the know" about the actors pettyness.
Well, it's a different opinion. And that's about the best I can say for Mr. Mumpower. He really needs to learn how to write - cut out half the adverbs and adjectives, and try to form intelligible sentences. Unlike the one quoted by blwessels above. The show "winds up being a mess of ill-conceived zeitgeist"? That seems wrong both as a matter of fact (was the end of BtVS really part of the zeitgeist?) and as a matter of language (can one even "conceive" the zeitgeist? Isn't it just there by itself, waiting to be tapped into or referred to?)

And as for the throwaway gossipy and vapid comment about the "problem child" actress, and I think we can read between the lines to understand to whom he's referring, well, what has that to do with anything else in the review?

"Absurdly self-indulgent finale which attempts to celebrate female empowerment"? Could he share with us how the finale is "self-indulgent"? Attempts to celebrate? No, it does celebrate. Whether rightly or wrongly or subtlely or artfully is a whole other question, but there's no "attempt" about it.

And his one-line dismissal of Season Six, which appears to rest on the utterly-mistaken premise that the Trio were the Alpha and Omega of the season misses the point in such a laughably inept manner that it's hard to know where to begin arguing with him.

And what the hell can "small segment of stubborn Henna-tattooed vixens who refuse to acknowledge the painful truth" possibly connote, other than a ill-judged and offensive put-down of those people who, according to Mumpower, actually appreciated the final two seasons of Buffy?

But, yeah, I liked Nathan Fillion too.

(Added) I don't think he means the actor was "petty"; the way I read it, he was attempting to say that the show itself treated the actor in question in a petty manner.

[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2004-11-17 20:44 ]
Did anyone notice how he pretty much blamed Joss for moving Buffy to UPN? Because of more money? From everything I heard, it had really nothing to do with Joss. Am I wrong? Anyway, I don't have any problems with the season. I love the way it ended, and I love Faith's return. There were some funny episodes like the one about the football jacket...forgot the name. Anyway, I also liked the episode when Anya has her crisis about being a demon again and we see that additional song from OMWF. Yeah, we heard the same speech several times, but IMO this wasn't the weakest season at all.
Interesting review but I disagree on Caleb. Nathan Fillion is a great actor but Caleb wasn't a great villian. There was something missing in the character of Caleb. Intensity maybe. It sounds great on paper; a woman hater, devil worshipper priest facing the slayer who is the living image of feminism & woman power. Unfortunately it didn't quite come out like that. I can't agree on him saving the show either.

Season 7 is full of mistakes but it has some great episodes such as Lessons, Help, Beneath You ( just for the finale scene), CWDP,Sleeper, Selfless, LMPTM, Touched, Chosen etc..

And what's with a the gossip bit in a season review ? Grow up please.

Thanks blwessels.

[ edited by pelinxf on 2004-11-17 21:02 ]
I remember saying after I had downloaded watched the first few episodes of season 7, that it had the potential to be the best season of them all. Wasn't to be the case unfortunately, I liked the last 5 or 6 episodes but the middle of the season did not stand out for me.
Ok, I'm not even a fan of Season 7 - it's by far my least favorite – but this review even ticked *me* off. As SNT said, it's poorly written, and i felt like it claimed imflammatory statements, often misleading, without backing them up.
Even though I had a lot of problems with the season, i really liked the finale. It was flawed, sure - contained some scenes that felt like they were written in shorthand rather than fully developed, and it felt rushed - but I admired what it tried to do and thought the resolution it came to was a really fitting end for the series, given the themes of isolation, responsibility, feminism, empowerment, etc., that BtVS had explored throughout its seven seasons. It certainly was a lot better than "absurdly self-indulgent."
Season 6 - another one i thought was flawed - had much more to it than the trio, and i'd challenge the contention that they were the big bad. I think it's pretty clear that *life* was the big bad of season 6. (There was Evil Willow as well, of course, in the last few eps. But primarily, life was what all the characters were battling).

I actually think the reviewer gives Caleb more credit than I would – I wasn't wild about him as a villain. Although i was glad to see there be somone tangible, rather than just the First. His introduction/development was just a little rushed for me, and he was a little cliched - he never resonated the way, say, the Mayor or Glory or Angelus did as a villain.

Anyhow, my basic view is that season 7 (and to a much lesser extent season 6) did represent a downturn in quality, but I'd never wish that we hadn't had those seasons, and there were excellent episodes in both of them. I've seen intelligent critiques of the season, but this review isn't among them.
For me season went downhill with Bring on the Night and potentials' arrival even there were still good episodes in the second half. I agree Simon, I thought season 7 was going to be the best when I watched the first half of it for the first time.
Season 7 had some fantastic moments, but I'm still not sure how I feel about it as a whole. Can't wait to see all of the eps again.
I loved S7 the first time i watched it and i am now in the process of rewatching it and i still love it. I always loved the emphasis on the Regulars in the first 9 eps, and i liked "Bring on the Night", and i did like "Showtime" although a little less. I thought that 12-15 were solid eps. They were not fabulous but they were not bad either, just good solid episodes. Then i absolutely LOVE 16-22. I thought 16-22 was a string of great eps. I never fully got why some people are so negative and how some people can claim that S7 (or any other season) "sucked". I never get that because there are NO bad seasons of BtVS (or Angel), there are favorite and least favorite seasons. I have always thought that Nathan Fillion was excellent as Caleb.
Regarding this review, this guy is not a good writer, period. He basically says that people who liked S6 and S7 are stupid in some way, and that is just ridiculous. People have their reasons for not liking some aspects of S6 and S7, and that is fine, just like people have reasons for not liking aspects of S1-S5, but that doesn't make them stupid. This guy should avoid writing reviews, as it is apparent that he is not capable of doing so.
[sigh] -- reviews that include that form of gossip automatically lose points with me. As others have said, if you read between the lines, you get a sense of who's being implicated. And heck -- I understand that in Chosen, some fans were indeed appalled by the final fate of one of the female characters. But to imply that Joss used the finale to purposely and 'pettily' punish that character and/or actress? Strikes me as rather unfounded, and far off base.

Apologies for giving that subject even a modicum of attention. But that sort of rumour is a pet-peeve of mine.
Inverse - Are you talking about Amanda or Anya? Or someone else? Because if you're talking about Anya, she was killed off because Emma Caulfield didn't want to appear in any future Buffyverse productions. So her death was sort of the actress' request.
I liked season 7 more upon rewatching. What really stands out to me are the plethora of amazing speeches and character moments. This season is bursting with them, including...

Buffy's therapy session with Holden, which gives wonderful insight into her character. Xander's speech to Dawn at the end of 'Potential'. Buffy's rallying of the troops at the end of 'Bring On The Night' and her Ubervamp smackdown at the end of 'Showtime'. Buffy's "life isn't a story" speech to Andrew in 'Storyteller'. Anya's amazingly touching view on humanity in 'End Of Days'. The conversation between Xander and Buffy where he tells her he always thought he'd be with her in the end. Caleb's speech that closes 'Dirty Girls'. Spike's "you're the one" speech.

And on and on and on. I felt that season seven really allowed our characters to grow up after the darkness of season six. Some plot holes here and there, yeah, but this still ranks near the top of my list simply for the themes present and the excellent character moments listed above.

[ edited by MindPieces on 2004-11-17 21:45 ]
Storyteller -- I don't think I should say anything further on the matter, as Simon doesn't want a speculation thread.

But in general, my point was that this reviewer seems to be taking an event in the finale of the series and uses it to extrapolate a supposed real-world problem between Joss and the actress. Which I think is a rather off-base thing to do, and thus it tends to bug me a bit.

[ edited by inverse on 2004-11-17 22:02 ]
Talk about staring at a mirror from a different direction. BTW, that's towards this article.

[ edited by Madhatter on 2004-11-17 21:57 ]
she was killed off because Emma Caulfield didn't want to appear in any future Buffyverse productions.

Because no one who died ever came back.... ;~)
Wow, I agree with SNT, that this guy is not a very good writer. (and there I'm completely sidestepping his other article on that page about Buck Rogers which he constantly insists upon writing as "Buck Rodgers")

First off it annoys me to no end when reviewers post their opinion as the Ultimate Truth. They should always toss in a few 'in my opinion' or 'to me' and things like that. He speaks of S6 and 7 as if it's universally accepted that Buffy 'went to hell' in those seasons. It isn't. Everyone has their opinion. Yes I have my share of problems with 6 & 7 but then I had my share of troubles with every single season to some degree. Nothing is ever really perfect.

And like some said, it's ludicrous to blame Joss for the move to UPN. The WB wanted to stop. They weren't willing to pay the post S5 fees of the show. What else should they have done?

And then this line about another effect of Joss' 'missteps': "The result was that Angel's quality grew inconsistent, Whedon's new baby, Firefly, received heinous treatment from its exhibitor, Fox, and Buffy went to hell."

So....it's because Joss juggled too many shows at once that FOX treated Firefly they way they did? If Joss only had Firefly at the time FOX would've let it stay on the air?? Does this guy even read his own sentences?

And his complaints about the Trio being poor villains...wow, the lack of insight is astonishing. The whole point of that was that the Trio were the opponents, but not the actual 'Big Bad' of the season, everyone's personal inner demons were. It's really not that hard.

And yes I enjoyed Nathan in the role of Caleb too. He was great and it was a welcome addition to the villains' roster, but I can't really say he 'saved the season'.

As for the 'absurdly self -indulgent finale of female empowerment' does he know that female empowerment was one of the main themes of the entire show or has that little fact eluded him for 7 years straight?? And frankly, the complaint of 'self-indulgence' is always a hazy one and I've seen it brandished about way too often in articles lately, used in an array of wrong ways. SNT already correctly pointed out the odd use of 'zeitgeist' here so I won't go into that.

As for the actress he refers to either, (I don't care about gosspiy speculation) and the 'pettiness' that she was shown, if he refers to Anya's death then it's ludicrous. Joss doesn't kill characters with the motivation to be 'petty' to his actors and the very notion makes me think this person is in no position to write anything about Joss' work whatsoever.

But most of all, it's just another opinion which is fine, but for pete's sake shake off the notion that you should display your opinion as pure fact just because you fancy yourself a 'reviewer'.
I tend to agree with those that say that the strength of BtvS always was the mixture of comedy, drama, Horror/fantasy, the episodes where the mixture is right is fantastic viewing, when the mixture is off in some direction it makes for a lesser show. Season 6 and 7 where primarily drama with very little room for jokes, the funnier moments (like when they speak Swedish in Selfless) shines clearly against an otherwise consistently bleak landscape.

I also agree with the many people that have said that the last season suffered from having to many people with little to do.
Even if it might have made for some darker episodes some creative culling of the cast would have made room for some interesting storylines.
I believe we all have a short list of characters we would have liked to see disappear in a puff of smoke, but I guess after the fans reactions to Tara's death there was a strong motivation to avoid such storylines.
The concept of 'Kill your darlings' always make for an fascinating story though as Joss have proved a couple of times.

But yes even the worst BtvS episode is still better than 90% of the rest of whats shown on TV, thats why it is so fun to discuss.
I think most of us know the rumours and such, and it's idiotic to drag them into a review.

I loved S6 and 7, and also I think a lot of people get carried away when they talk about crappy Buffy things. Even the worst episodes of Buffy were above average quality for television and I think the rabid reviewers who start talking about how bad it got should consider any other show on television before they start complaining. I don't think there were any bad episodes of Buffy, just some that were worse than others. My least favourite episodes are Bag Eggs and Doublemeat Palace, but I'd rather watch them than an episode of my other favourite shows like Nip/Tuck or Six Feet Under any day. I'd never call any episode of Buffy crap. And I certainly wouldn't call someone else stupid because they liked something I didn't, not even subtley.

If the reviewer hated the last two seasons of Buffy so much, then why did they even watch them? If you hate something watching it seems pretty stupid, since you're just keeping it on air by doing so.
The result was that Angel's quality grew inconsistent, Whedon's new baby, Firefly, received heinous treatment from its exhibitor, Fox, and Buffy went to hell.

I thought the result was Angel's best season, Firefly showing that it was (probably) on its way to becoming the best of the three shows, and Buffy...alright, wasn't on it's best year, but was still pretty durned solid. But I guess that's just me.
For loyal Firefly fans and the small segment of stubborn Henna-tattooed vixens who refuse to acknowledge the painful truth about how Buffy's UPN run went:

Excuse me?? IMO that one sentence alone sums up the main problem with this review - stating his beliefs as universal truths while generalizing dismissively about those who may disagree. Ugh. Never mind the fact that I don't agree with him on most of his points, people are entitled to their opinions. But the way it's stated just rubs me wrong.
I agree that he misses the whole point of S6 if he really believes the Trio were the big bad, and the show itself even said it in Normal Again. It's the arguement I have with people who think Hex is "just like" Buffy, Hex is about the spooks and demon, in Buffy they're metaphors. Take them away and you see what the episode (and Season) is really about.

People critisizing S6, and suggesting that "you can tell SMG doesn't care anymore" because of the on screen mood of Buffy Summers are the same people who critisize Michelle for Dawn being annoying.

BtVS showed this willingness to take risks, and show a character in unfavourable light, early on. S2 opened with Buffy being a complete Bitca, S6 was just going deeper into similiar ground and showing us real feelings and emotion in a character.

And if he really believes Joss decided to leave the WB then he has no understanding of how the business works or wasn't paying attention at the time ( and it was reported enough! ) and suggests any other 'inside information', such as an actress's behaviour, should be viewed with a healthy distain.
I don’t have a single problem with this review...aside from factual errors concerning the production of the show I think he is right on.

I for one never thought Joss or Me would ever produce a bad or sub par season but Buffy Season 7 changed that...I remember writing about the script inconsistencies and dropped or ignored plotlines back while the season was falling apart, errr, I mean developing...I must admit that CwDP and Lies My Parents Told Me are some of my all time favorite episodes but they are not enough to make up for the overall disjointed and meandering storyline(s) of season seven...After being a rabid Buffy watcher for six seasons I felt as though I deserved more than this final season had to offer...
I could go on and on but that is not the point of this thread...

[ edited by Simpleba on 2004-11-18 00:49 ]
Well you know, Simpleba, it's not that I think Season 7 is all beer and skittles myself. I don't; it's by far my least favorite season for reasons that I've tried to set out in other threads.

The point I was trying to make earlier was that this guy (a) isn't a good writer; (b) doesn't marshal any support for his opinions; and (c) makes rather obnoxious and gratuitous comments into the bargain. And as EdD and others said, he states his one-sided opinions as obvious facts that only fools would disagree with. I couldn't call S7 "bad", and probably wouldn't even go with "sub par" (although if par is defined by seasons 1-6, I supposed I'd have to agree with that), but there are ways and means to criticize and write reviews, and I don't think this reviewer was able or wanted to get his opinions across in an effective and fair manner.

And let's not forget he took a heavy and unsupported swipe at Season 6 too, which you imply you liked much more.
Not agree with the review.
I LOVE Season 6 and S7. I don´t think they´re bad.
But, i know, not all the people like changes.

I hate when people use The Trio, to criticize S6. They`re not the Big Bads, or simply The Bads. The real bad, was life. Like acp said ;)
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and what ticks me off is this writer makes it sound like anyone who doesn't agree with him is stupid. Seems to me he is just a bad writer, so anything he says is questionable.

This review reminds me of a hit-and-run accident. The reviewer does his damage and then runs away.
Forgetting this guy's review for a moment, has anyone looked at the packaging yet? I got mine last night - they BADLY photoshopped season 6 and season 4 promo head shots of SMG onto different images of her body. Looks horrendous! These people are supposed to be professionals?
As others have said, what bothers me most about this review is the sloppiness: a two-time slayer named Spike. The fact that this phrase is missing a very important word (albeit a repeat of one already in there) indicates that the writer and/or the editor of the site are sloppy. If one wants credibility, one makes sure not to have silly errors, especially on a review site (as opposed to a blog).
Hello, all. Trying my first comment on this site. The review revealed an incomplete knowledge of the show. Guadior mentions the two time slayer, but also, there was something about Spike going crazy from guilt in Season 7 (the crazy was more from The First, sort of supplemented by the guilt.) Other things also, just weren't quite right. Anyhow, I loved the show from beginning to end, I especially loved Season 6. I don't take a word of that review seriously, or even consider it an interesting, legit, alternate opinion. I think it's pure smoke-blowing.
Hello, sari...agree that this review was a gassy piece of nothing...I adored Season 7 and look forward to re-watching this weekend (my DVDs arrived today) for many of the reasons given...about half way through the season I was certain there could never be a logical resolution, but there certainly was...an amazing achievement.

Season 6 is simply magnificent, on any and all levels. One man's opinion.
Personally i loved season 6, the trio were hysterical, and Xander's yellow crayon speech breaks my heart-spike's progress was also really interesting. Season 7...when i watched it for the first time, i disliked it...thought it rather ill-conceived and pointless, but i watched the boxing day marathon on space channel, and oddly enough, getting to watch it mostly uninterrupted, i loved it! The writer of this review is obviously not a loyal buffy fan, or he would "get it" more.
I really don't know what this reviewer was watching--I loved season 7--possibly because I'm a Spike-fan,and he had some wonderful moments! My only complaint about the season was Spike and Buffy never had sex like their wonderful bringin' down the house scene! I did melt in a puddle when he told Buff he'd spent the best night of his life when he simply held her all night. Caleb was a creepy kind of sexy. I think Joss should have let the potentials give him a night to remember!!
The highlight of Season 7 for me occurred in the final episode, when it showed what would happen if the Sailor Scouts fought against the Ferangi of STAR TREK fame. That aside, season 7 was a let down for me, it started stong but petered out near the end. Aside from the obvious Buffy and Spike complaints, I had issues with the disjointed narrative and the overall lack of scope (78 % of the entire season took place in Buffy's living room). Xander was reduced to a glorified piece of set dressing and Willow existed little more than as a plot device. The proto-slayers were annoying, with most of the actresses playing them just not very good. Also The First had to be the least effective villain to exist on either series; it was the super-villain equivalent of a stand up commedian.
I'm deeply confused by this statement: "...an absurdly self-indulgent finale which attempts to celebrate sexual empowerment." The finale was about SEXUAL empowerment? I missed that. Everyone was having sex (or some form of intense intimacy), pre-apocalypse, but I never saw the message as being about sexual empowerment.
Season 6 & 7 stepped the BTVS game up into another level of characterization and storytelling. It took BTVS from fast and funny with side moments of poignant and heartfelt storytelling to...well, more like Chekov or Shakespeare. Season 6 was perfect--I'm on record about that and need not wax that car again. Season 7 if not perfect gets the double nod and hands gripped together in a humble thank you for working the harder parts of the story. As you get older, man, life just gets more complex.

Consider Spikes arc for busting things out into the open:

Look at that church scene carefully, We now know that Joss rewrote that and reshot that scene with a revised script and different lighting so it would say exactly what he wanted it to. Remember the feeling you had when Spike first stretched himself on the cross? Humility...perfect humilty. When people reach the level of their lives where they wanna burn the black out of their souls, they are at their very lowest with only one place to turn...and it isn't to people like Buffy. It isn't to a person at all.

Remember in 'Beneath You' when Spike was in the alley and he calls out to Buffy: "Help me..." and she just stares at him and then he runs off to where he can get help.

The chapel.

What? You think this is all accidental? The writers were drunk maybe? No, BTVS made sense.

There is a place in ones life when one learns a lesson so completely, it's done. And now you are on a one way street. Spike says, while framed in the background with the cross--remember this is Joss we're talking about here--framing this shot isn't an accident. While framed by the cross in the background Spike says while looking 'up' which is traditionally understood to be heaven or dare we say it: god. "this is what YOU wanted..."

The amazing idea is introduced that Spike was being influenced through love which is synonomous with god--to make a free will choice for change. Except, he's feeling sorta compelled--which is right too. Many people on a spiritual path feel compelled and this goes along with paralell themes of Buffy being the chosen one or Angel being cursed. AND. Buffy sees Spike's pennance. She says so later. This pennance was not directed only toward her, to put yourself on the cross is an act of soulfelt desperation.

He puts himself on the cross in order to rest...he is held up now LITERALLY by the only thing that will burn the black away. By the only thing that can hold him up, while there in the chapel, does he go to Buffy to throw himself in her arms? Nuh uh...he walks to the cross.

His change isn't only about Buffy, she was the catalyst...he's in deeper water now. And here's a nod to the idea that people, events, heartfelt affection, all this is sometimes just the trigger to point you in a better direction.

So in season 7 Joss decides to talk about the symbol (you know THE symbol) used throughout the series, albeit, undercover. Through metaphor.

Spike turns to the cross--a symbol of perfected submission, grace, and potential forgiveness. You think I'm making this up from my mother wit?

Buffy is always wearing a cross--throughout all seasons--now Spike lays himself on the thing, the ONLY thing that can transform him. Submission to grace. Buffy herself is freaked at this point--she can't handle what she sees, she needs time to readjust her appreciation of what Spike has done and is doing. And when she does, she acknowledges this by saying to Spike and to Giles "He can be a good man."

We are given two very important scenes at the end of BTVS7.

The scene with Spike gently asking questions of the monk who was attacked by Caleb. We see him kind and concerned, not at all the callus idiot making fun of the people he rescues. To say he only behaves one way with Buffy around to watch him is to minimize what it means when he becomes a man.

And he becomes a man with "lies"--he accepts without shame that he loved his Mother and that he was loved in return--love is a source of strength as it should be. He is calm and quiet as he lectures Wood. This place of quietude comes from a hard lesson learned. You don't need to shout...when a truth is true. People only yell at each other to make what they suspect might be true more powerful by increasing the volume. No, here, truth has it's own power. He has become man. He knows who he is. When this happens--can you imagine ever being tempted to become the simp again?

He arrives as himself and who he will grow up to be completely when faced with his particular ultimate test: he sees Angel kiss Buffy--he is devasted. Completely undone and a child, a bully, a toady would run away. But he sucks it up--not knowing what she would do next--he sucks it up and takes it on the chin. To continue, regardless, even if he believes himself to be unloved--he is a man. He is a man now. He may be heartbroken, but some changes in life affect one completely and becoming an adult is one. He pokes a little at Angel, but we see him calm, steady, he stands with Buffy, for her, but for himself too. REGARDLESS. That was a very important element in play. He is who he is now, regardless of outside circumstance. Person, persons, Entities singular or plural.

How you behave toward one person indicates how you will behave toward a stranger. Spike's kind treatment toward the monk indicates this change is permanent. After 'lies' busted his worst secret open into his mind, he needn't fear himself...or anyone else. So he can afford to show kindness.

Now here is the thing the world will do--the thing the world will ALWAYS do in the face of such effort. And this is where season 7 shines.

There is a kind of mercy the world/god/love/younameyourdeity shows people who take enormous risks in love and here I must nod to Joss for this. (At least in BTVS--ME acted differently in ATS) When you love the way Spike loved Buffy--that leads to a kind of tranformation...it becomes selfless. When you put that much effort, take such a leap of faith in the world---you may not have your loved one love you back, you may loose your life and property...BUT. And here's the big one. You will not miss the attention of heaven. It's metaphysically impossible in my experiance for god to turn away from such effort.

Remember the preview tape of 'previously on' that ran before 'Chosen'? It was the clip of Spike on the cross. Joss has said in interviews that he can't say stuff about god or religion outloud because he would have all kinds of judging forces fall down all over him--but I believe Joss talks about faith throughout Spike's journey especially--Spike was changed permantly and forever on the Hellmouth. Fire consumes and transfigures something forever. Fire is an active symbol that changes irrevocably. Hey,these are the mythic symbols Joss picked.

And we see Spike peaceful with his choice, Spike in an almost serene state of joy as he experiances the totality of his soul.

His reward for trying, for loving as he did, wasn't Buffy, it can never be another person--no, he was given the gift of feeling his soul without the demon to influence it. We see his face, his simple eloquence with--"my soul...it's really here..." or something like that; go back and recheck the dialogue--he is being given what he wanted, what he asked for at the begining of the season--the black burned out of him on the cross.

Hey, where there's smoke, there's fire. (Eventually)

(Remember the lead-in clip of Spike on the cross before the finale? That was no act of Dadism--Joss selected that image for that particular association--why else? He wanted us to remember that image and hold it as subtext during 'Chosen')

That's the genius of BTVS.

Now, there were echos and subplot versions of this in the potentials, in all the characters, really. It was about moving from fear and doubting yourself and what The First would put in your ear to a place of understanding your function in the world and to trusting yourself to have faith in yourself despite the catcalls from hell. Faith in yourself and others that you love.

Of course, The First and the physical manifestation at it's beck and call, would become easier to manage as one gains true, calm confidence in oneself...and through love. Love will be the glue to help hold it all together (Spike/Buffy) when the world turns againest you. All that energy put into that piggy bank will blossom when you need it most. Buffy steps up for Spike, Spike steps up for Buffy. Faith steps up to her fears about herself and how to be a leader, Dawn steps up to claim her identity, Xander too (and yes, yes, we could have seen much more of Xander and Anya)

Buffy's leap into the Hellmouth was typical of her better nature. Much like in the "The Gift." She uses her instinct to direct her actions, she chooses Spike to stand by her and makes the leap into the Hellmouth againest all odds.

There is a moment, before Buffy tells Angel to leave, where we see her go inside herself to feel out what should be done.

If there is any real female empowerment here, this is it...Buffy trusting her 'woman's intuition.' Her feelings. Trusting her feelings is her gift as a leader. It is Williams soul with the amulet that will break through Hell. Not Liams. She doesn't know that literally, but it is within character for her to inntuit the way to go. To make the outragous leap into the pit, with the right people at her back.

All this to say, season 7 was talking about life in an interrealted way with cosmic law. With the spiritual ties that bind humans to the ethers.

Anybody think Caleb as the big bad portraying a 'preacher' was an accident? Just any ole occupation? No, Joss was talking about the upside and downside of faith as it can work it's way through politcs and the politics of religon. Man, that's another treatise.

Oh yeah, they knew what they were doing. Now, because this is a much more complex appreciation of the world...not every writer...even the best of them, will have a good grasp on how to talk about this. This kind of subject matter, almost requires first hand experience, which may account for the uneven feeling across the season...but should never discredit the overall picture or intention.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the only complaint...and yeah it's a big one but the ONLY complaint I have about season 7 or the whole BTVS series, are the final five minutes of Chosen.

Those terrible eight words Spike says to Buffy hurt in a way that was absolutley not cathartic. And even Jane Ep. said at the Writercon that she felt Buffy not challenging those 8 words or slugging him for saying it or something did a diservice to her character. I would agree wholeheartedly. To deprive us of an exchange of love between these two characters who went through so much together...was hard to take. Very Hard.

And I understand that Joss might believe this to be their version of an exhange of love, but man, when he saw it wasn't working, as made evident by him having to give two very fine actors notes about it--he should have rewritten it, or forced a performance out of SMG that would reflect the romantic love he wanted her to show Spike. (from Joss commentary)

I actually became sick for a few days over it. No kidding.
That, and the sight of those laughing smiling faces over the crater that held the dust and bones of beloved and still be able to joke about shopping malls done gone was almost obsene to me.

I cannot imagine anyone, ANYONE, a soldier or non combantant standing over their fallen comrades laughing and joking.

The last five minutes felt pasted on and inorganic to the heart of the series and I understand Joss probably wanted a feeling of celebration at the end...but the timing of those last five minutes were so desparately out of tune, I was left reeling.

I know I've really, really gone on--but 7 is so huge there is no way to shorthand it and I still barely scratched the surface.

Now I can admit the final five minutes of Chosen has put a damper on my enjoyment of season 7 for the time being, I'm sure, in time I'll be able to incorporate it(or just never watch that ending)--but while 7 was happening--WHILE it was happening, I thought it was a miracle.

Sometimes effort equals miracle.
Beautifully said, BforBeth. Joss knew what he was doing, from beginning to end, and this series is a masterpiece.

Season 7 had imperfections born, it seemed to me, of trying to force fit certain things into the season, in in order to take us to that ending in time. And it seemed that they were, at the same time, trying to keep spin-off options open, and trying not to alienate any large contigent of viewers. I felt its imperfections, were, in short, due to business realities.

I am OK with the eight words, and the five minutes, though they hurt. On the eight words, it seemed to me that Spike did not so much feel unloved, as understand the limits of Buffy's ability to love. They've reversed roles: No matter how low she sank, it was a souled and more enlightened Buffy, always, telling a confused and soulless Spike, "No you don't love me, no it's not really love." Now, here at the end, it's Spike who's taken the higher ground; It's Spike who understands love better than Buffy does.

The joking around at the end was hard to buy. I could rationalize it: These folks are hardened warriors, and they have not yet truly internalized the events and the losses. But still, it rang a bit false. But I forgive all, because I got to see that Sunnydale sign fall over, and hear Buffy say her last word ever on BtVS: "Spike." And look at that smile. I had the same one on my face. Didn't cry, till later.

I'm with you all the way on those two final "UPN" seasons. The series was wonderful from Season 1 onward, but it was with 6 & 7 that it became truly extraordinary.
Great read BforBeth. I felt hit in the gut over that scene between Buffy and Spike too. I just wholeheartedly think she did love him by that point. Theirs was such a fascinating progression.

In the BtAS thread, Nuke I believe, mentioned Buffy “letting Spike off the hook” so much in S7, in relation to his being controlled by The First. I actually saw that as a close look at the redemption theme that has been touched upon so much in this series. It is easy, in general terms, to discuss “forgiveness”, and it’s even easier when talking about forgiving someone you love. Everyone can forgive Willow’s actions in S6, Xander’s actions motivated by jealousy in earlier seasons (i.e. not telling Buffy Willow was working on the spell to restore Angel’s soul in S2), even Angel was warily given some degree of acceptance and forgiveness by the others (to varying degrees) because they love Buffy, who loved him, and their first experiences with Angel were positive, allowing them something “warm and fuzzy” to fall back on in the wake of Angelus’ actions. But Spike. Here, the Gang is faced with the test of forgiving someone they dislike or at least don’t respect, absent any obvious deep emotion on Buffy’s part to him, because there relationship was much more private, for obvious reasons in S6, but even as it progressed in S7, because as we get older, and more mature, the progression of our relationships tends to be more private. Here, they had to move past their “first impressions” of Spike, ingrained in them all this time. They had to recognize that re-ensouled, forgiveness is about allowing him his path to redemption – seeing him as a different man.

Look at Wood (supported by Giles right? Do I remember that correctly?), harboring some understandable loathing, he was willing to deprive them of Spike’s presence, and thus strength and was willing to kill a man who now has a soul, who deserves his shot at redemption. Reminds me of Holtz and Angel. Understandable reasons to harbor hatred, but an inability to recognize change and allow someone to work towards their redemption. Really – what is worse, on a fundamental level – avenging those who died at the hand of soulless being with no conscience, or denying someone their chance at redemption – at employing their free will - by throwing your own conscience to the wind?

Now, I say this having seen S7 once, when it originally aired, so I’m struggling to remember some specifics. What I do remember is that Spike’s behavior was off, worthy of some attention. The gang was not interested in questioning his actions at all, merely condemning him and I don’t remember them being anxious to explore the reasons behind his behavior. Buffy’s “excuses” for Spike were not excuses, imho, they were chances. Chances to figure out what was going on, brought about by a fundamental belief that he “can be a good man”. She was the only one able to allow him the benefit of the doubt, coupled of course with a pragmatic realization that she needed his strength in the battle to come. I remember thinking – guys, figure it out – but it can be argued that the majority did not care to - and Buffy may have felt he needed to find his path, was totally consumed by guilt and his own struggle to find his place, and let’s face it, she was rather busy.

Back to the end of Chosen, while emotionally, I wanted Buffy to tell him she did love him, I saw that evolution in him you speak of BforBeth – he didn’t do this for Buffy. He didn’t do it trying to win her love, he sacrificed himself believing she did not love him, and did so for his own reasons. I remember the more I thought about that scene in the days after it aired, that settled in, quite possibly as a means of accepting it.

“When you love the way Spike loved Buffy-that leads to a kind of transformation…it becomes selfless”.

Key point for me. When love for someone else goes beyond wanting to keep that person “all to yourself” and moves to selfless – by wanting who you love to be happy, even without you, it is beautiful, and redeeming, and also offers a certain degree of clarity. You discussed his seeing Buffy and Angel kissing and his behavior after so eloquently that I won’t bother to reiterate.

While Spike’s love of Buffy drove much of his desire to be present and by her side through S6 and S7, Spike sacrificed himself yes, out of love for her, but this time, out of the kind of love that wanted her to live, and be happy, but far more importantly, out of his own deep need for redemption, irrespective of how Buffy felt about him or his sacrifice. This man, forever trying to get out of that place in his head that hears "you are beneath me" - made the ultimate sacrifice to prove to himself, not her, that it was no longer true.
Angela and sari, wonderful comments and isn't it interesting that 7 effects us in our souls more than any other?

Angela's right, Buffy tells Wood that he's trying to take vengence on a man that no longer exists. She recognizes that change can happen. She recognizes redemption as something to be respected, even revered. To reverse a pattern and move in the other direction takes a great deal of strength and fortitude and...inspiration. She sees something in Spike that is uncommon and needs to be protected so it can grow. She tells Wood that Spike is the 'strongest warrior we have', I would assume she is including herself in the mix.

In 7, She displays her best trait...mercy. The same mercy she showed Ben...this mercy is what makes her a great leader. A true hero(ine). Mercy is the brave new solution to ancient and repeating dilema. Mercy breaks the cycle with a proposal from the heart.

What are we in this world without mercy? What are we doing here if change is impossible? We should just chuck it all and call game over. No, season 7 offers faith and mercy as real medicine. I'm with you guys absolutley. This season was fathoms deep and mountains high.

And, I am making peace with the ending, mostly because, I cannot imagine Buffy, being with this guy, being around him every day and NOT loving Spike. That, and the fact that Buffy doesn't lie. I think sari is right--I think there were commercial concerns that distorted the heart of the story somewhat...keeping sidroads open for spinoffs and Angela's right too--that Spike does not recognize this love can work on the level she put so well. It is so important to see that Spike does this thing first and foremost for himself, and with the story set up this way, he proves this. When Buffy tells him to come away, he's done enough, he says something like: "I need to do this now..." and she respects this. She respects him.

And...and maybe the sign falling over...can be his kiss goodbye...

God, I love those two.
As a Xander-fan (Xander, Giles and Willow), I wanted to make several comments. Yes, Xander-fans still do excist. Many of them, actually. I don't dislike Spike. As matter of fact, during S4 and S5 he was my favorite character.

Whenever Spuffy lovers (=Spike lovers) say that Buffy should have kissed him or whatever look at what you already have had. Spike and Buffy *never* had a relationship in the first place; so why would she kiss him? Main characters like Giles, Willow and Xander have been used as a plotdevice to let Spike have his moment.

In S4 Xander was replaced by Riley as Buffy's helping sidekick in the fight. In S5 he didn't have an arcline. In S6 his character got heavily bashed and also extremely unfair IMO. But, I still think it's okay. I gave his his character depth and like Dawn he has always been used to make others look better.

But, S7 was an insult to me. He can't have Buffy. Okay, I am fine with that. He can't have Willow, cuz she is gay. Again, I can live with that. He can't have new girlfriend. He can't be Spike's antagonist anymore. I am all fine with it. He got replaced - by Andrew (whom I do like) and the one dimentional cardboard Mr Sue character, Robin Wood (whom I loath). He also can't have a visit from the First. No wonder that he didn't have his own arcline in S7. I hate it, but I can live with it and still enjoy the show.

This is what I hate.

Xander is the most misunderstood character of all. Nobody knows the real reason why Xander left Anya at the altar. Not the viewers and not even Anya. He never told her. Nobody knows why he told Buffy to kick Angel's ass; (the lie) (and motivated by jealousy has not been proved at all. Saying that is bashing). They brought it up, but didn't deal with it. Every explanation is mere speculation as Xander never had the chance to tell or show why he did it. Nobody knows how he thinks about vampires, Spike and Angel in particular or demons in general. Nobody knows how his relation with Giles is (apparently very good) as they haven't had one single scene together in the entire S7.

Very bad, and showing no respect to the character at all. Still not insulting though.

Why the hell did we not have a scene between Xander/Anya after their ridiculous short scene in Touched?

Spike fans are crying that Buffy didn't kiss Spike. Did Xander get a hug when she send him away to take care of Dawn and not knowing she would see them ever again? Did Xander got the chance to say goodbye to Willow or Giles. Or with Anya? No! Sure, the world didn't end?

Xander saved Buffy's live in Prophecy girl (and indirectly also in Welcome to the Hellmouth). He came up with the plan to stop the Judge. He was Buffy's keyguy and made the bomb that blew up former highschool. (All Joss episodes). He stopped a dead zombie gang from blowing up highschool. He came up with the idea that lead to the SuperBuffy that killed ADAM. He stopped DarkWillow.
Just to name a few of the things he has done.

But, in the entire S7 and especially in Touched, he can't come up with one single idea? Nonsense!

The worst:
Not one single word with Faith. None. While Xander/Faith was a preview on Buffy/Spike. While Faith and Xander had some real serious issues, we get to see a naked Spike with Faith in the basement scene. As if we didn't have enough Spike already. That's insulting and frankly I felt betrayed by that. I have been waiting for four years for a scene between the two. How would you feel if Spike hadn't said one word to Buffy in S7?

One last comment about the Buffy/Spike connection, that she helped him because he was needed in the fight. (Spike is not the most powerful, Willow is). I thought the same for a while. But, it's not true. Buffy did not have connection with him. She helped him because she wanted to believe in him. She wanted to trust him. Forgive him. She did not at first. Selfless changed that. Xander said that when a friend needs help then we help them. Buffy disagreed and went out to kill Anya (to make up for her past mistakes). Anya showed that forgiveness and redemption is possible. That changed Buffy's mind. The next episode we see Spike out of the basement and in Xander's apartment. Anya is Buffy's house. Willow, Xander and Buffy silently had agreed on Xander's comment. That's why Xander agreed with helping Spike, he had no choice.

Final words about this rant.

I can make similar rants about Giles and Willow. S7 is all about Spike. It's not even about Buffy anymore, let alone Xander, Willow or Giles. But, don't forget that BtVS was made by the sidekicks; Xander, Willow and Giles. Not Angel nor Spike. It would never have been made possible without them. Never forget that. The emphasis should have been on the core-scoobies and not Spike.

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