GILES: "We few..."
GILES/SPIKE: "we happy few…"
SPIKE: "We band of buggered..."
There's the terribly sweet moment when Buffy and Spike head back to the house for weapons. There's the very cute opening with Buffy going back to basics protecting the hapless guy in the alley. Anya gets to shine in a way that just makes me wish she'd had the chance more often. Willow needing "courage" and Spike's response always cracks me up, as does the bit in the shop with the troll hammer. All those things are great — but it really isn't one of my favorite episodes. For late-season 5, I prefer Checkpoint, Intervention, and even Spiral to the finale.
I have my reasons. As a general rule, I don't count the episodes wherein my darlings die as "favorites". Since Buffy — the lead, the heroine, my girl — meets her end in this, I can't really love it. Also, Dawn being so thoroughly endangered is not enjoyable to me. But the real reason I'm not as enthusiastic as some is that I can't made sense of the ending.
Yeah, yeah. "It's Summers blood." "The monks made her out of me." "Death is your gift." "It's always gotta be blood." I get all that. But...Buffy's blood is NOT Dawn's blood. Buffy is NOT the Key. If she were, Glory could've gone for her, and she didn't. So I just don't buy that Buffy's literal life's blood is interchangeable with Dawn's, however much she might wish it. The ending that would have made sense to me is Buffy thinking she had figured it out and making the ultimate sacrifice...but being wrong. That she wasn't wrong is sort of unbelievable. I've read fic wherein Spike drains or almost drains Dawn to make the blood stop flowing, and I can see that. Buffy jumping? Very heroic and tragically beautiful, but not actually sense-making.
Also, if Buffy dying at this point had been the end of the series, I would not be such a fan. That's not a satisfying finish for me, not as the end to a hero's journey and certainly not a female hero's journey, since those stories are so rare. She comes back in 147 days, so it's moot and I won't belabor it. But I would have been very cross, and disagree with people who wish the story had ended there, just as I disagree — on different grounds — that the show should have ended at Graduation Day.
Obviously, other people have different opinions about this episode and every other thing to do with BtVS, and power to them. I'll just continue on preferring other things about the show.
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