Originally broadcast in May 2003, this was a sad day for Buffy fans around the world. For seven years we have watched the characters develop, the narratives become more complex and the monsters become scarier but every show has to end at some point and I think Joss Whedon chose to end the show on a poignantly perfect point. In this article, I give a few reasons how Whedon did the show justice in the highly anticipated series seven finale.
Every season finale of Buffy The Vampire Slayer has always been epic but this time Whedon used the final episode to both commemorate and reflect on the history of the show, its characters and narratives that have been crucial to fan interaction. The final battle takes place in Sunnydale High School, a place where the show began and a place that several demons destroyed throughout the first three seasons. Most notably, the return of Angel is the most significant reflection on shows first few series. Fans had followed the romance of Buffy and Angel throughout the first few seasons, he made appearances in both series four and five but was absent in the sixth series. By bringing Angel back in the last episode, Whedon shows an acknowledgment to the significance of the Buffy and Angel relationship for both the fans but also for Buffy herself. His appearance is a way of reflecting of how there will always be a love between the two characters. This kind of love is everlasting. Whether he is in Los Angeles and she is in Sunnydale or whether he is involved with Cordelia or she is involved with Spike, there will always be an unsaid but a known love between them. He disappears into the shadows as he does in the first episode, ‘Welcome To The Hellmouth’. Her rejection of Angel’s help to fight the battle with her is significant to Buffy and Spike’s relationship, with Angel gone, she is able to accept Spike as the hero he really is and accept him as a love. Whedon also points to the ending of the first episode of the show as he says ‘The earth is definitely doomed’, he said ‘The Earth is doomed’ at the end of “Welcome To The Hellmouth”. This is significant of the entire premise of the first series, going back to the beginning.
There are several character resolutions in the final episode. Faith’s relationship with Buffy has been complex throughout the series but during the battle, their relationship finally seems to reach a conclusion. They will never be close friends, too much has happened, but they will always be there for each other, looking out for each other and protecting each other in battle. The connection between Faith and Buffy has always been vague however the connection between Faith and Buffy as slayers is undeniable. It is also interesting to see Faith’s interaction with Wood. Her relationships with men have been complicated throughout the series; Faith and Angel, Faith and Mayor Richard Wilkins. Neither of the relationships have facilitated her needs, Wood seems interested in “surprising” her and there seems promise of a relationship post-Chosen.
One theme that stays concurrent throughout the show and that is given a huge place in the series finale is female empowerment. This is shown both through the new found slayer powers within girls all over the world and through Willow’s final spell of the series. This is summed up by Willow’s declaration of “Oh My Goddess”. Female empowerment is celebrated through magic and the slayers. The show also focuses on the complicated but importance of female relationships; Willow and Tara, Buffy and Faith, Willow and Kennedy, Buffy and Willow and Buffy and Dawn. The final message of the episode and thus of the series is that every woman can be powerful and every woman has the potential to be strong.
In an epic battle such as between Buffy and The First, deaths are inevitable. Two principal characters of the show are killed. These are Anya and Spike. Anya’s death is unbelievably quick, too quick to comprehend what has happened. It is Andrew’s declaration of why he has survived over Anya that is potentially the saddest moment of her death. There was little Anya in the last episode which was disappointing but necessary for the bigger story to be told. The bigger story here was Spike and his sacrifice. Spike finally becomes the champion he had tried so hard to be. His past sins disappear as he does as he finally finds his purpose. Spike and Buffy’s final moments are enormously touching. As she tells him she loves him, he replies with “No you don’t, but thanks for saying it”. Whether Buffy does truly love Spike has always been debatable, to me the declaration as Spike was dying was very convincing however in Spike’s reply, I think Whedon wanted to leave it uncertain, leaving it up to the fans to decide.
The last moments of the episode have been controversial. On first viewing, I was disappointed. For a show that invites the bold and the epic, the last shots seemed undeveloped. However, when re-viewing the episode again, I realised that this was a perfect ending for Buffy. Her smile is not just a recognition that good triumphed evil once again but that some of the weight has been lifted off her shoulders. She is no longer the only slayer for this generation. She no longer has sole responsibility, it is now shared with many other females throughout the world. This is the beginning of a new type of world; a world where females lead.