Written by David Fury
Directed by James A. Contner

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously on Buffy: Murder, death, mayhem, Willow wents nuts on the magic, and Giles showed up to help. What, did you sleep through Part 1? Go read the synopsis for
Two To Go, then come back.

Buffy and Anya regain consciousness hearing Giles' voice, and stare at the former Watcher incredulously. Giles continues to loom darkly in the doorway, as DarkWillow sprawls on the floor, snarking, "Uh-oh, daddy's home. I'm in wicked trouble now." Giles says calmly, "You have no idea. You have to stop what you're doing now." DarkWillow shrugs. "Sorry, can't do that. I'm not finished yet." Giles walks steadily towards her as she starts to struggle back to her feet. "Neither am I. Stay down." He gestures casually and DarkWillow flops back to the floor involuntarily. Anya stares and DarkWillow realizes, "That's borrowed power. No way is it going to be strong enough--" Giles cuts her off: "I'm here to help you." For a second, DarkWillow almost sounds like Willow: "Thanks, but I can kill a couple geeks all by myself. But hey, if you'd like to watch... " and she doesn't sound like Willow anymore, "I mean, that's what you Watchers are good at, right? Butting in on things that don't concern you?" Giles doesn't respond to her gibes. "You concern me, Willow. Stay on this path and you'll wind up dead." Everybody keeps saying that to her like they expect her to care. I promise, right now, she doesn't. But, for a second, it almost looks like it's getting through. Buffy chimes in, "Willow, listen to him. I don't want to fight you anymore." DarkWillow nods. "Neither do it." And her face hardens. "I want to fight him." And she floats back to her feet; this time, Giles' gesture doesn't do anything. She advances on him, reminding him of the fight they had when he came home after they raised Buffy. "You called me a 'rank, arrogant amateur'." Her imitation is derisively perfect. "Well, buckle up, Rupert -- 'cause I've turned pro." Her voice goes all gravelly and Goa'uld on the last words, and everyone in the audience who watches Stargate SG-1 waits for her eyes to glow. They turn dead black instead.

[And the music rises, 'cause this is where it's supposed to be the end of the teaser, going into credits. But it's not, so on we go.]

DarkWillow's obviously preparing for major mayhem, but before she can, Giles chants and a band of green shoots from his hand, wrapping around DarkWillow. She fights, then goes still, her head back, as she begins to float and the band turns iridescent. DarkWillow is under wraps for the moment, in a binding field, giving Buffy and Giles time for a quick reunion. "You cut your hair," Giles realizes; caught between a smile and sobs, Buffy lunges into his embrace. They cling to each other for a long time; Anya, watching, finally works up the nerve to approach. "I'm blonde," she announces wistfully. Buffy and Giles break slightly apart to look at her. "I colored my hair. Again. I'm blonde." Giles can take a hint. "Yes, I noticed," he says affectionately, and opens his other arm to an Anya Power Hug. He only cradles his two girls for a second before turning to the third, still hovering in midair and looking unconscious. "I'm very sorry," he tells her quietly. DarkWillow manages to lift her head jut enough to look at him. "This won't hold me forever," she warns him, speaking with great effort.

Giles and Buffy retreat to the training room for a briefing. Turns out a coven in England sensed the rise of a dark force of grief rising; when a seer told Giles about Tara, the entire coven imbuied him with their powers and teleported him to Sunnydale to deal with the problem. "What's happened here?" he asks Buffy. She starts with DarkWillow and, once she starts talking, she can't stop. "Giles, everything's just been so... Xander left Anya at the altar, and Anya's a vengeance demon again. Dawn's a total klepto. Money's been so tight that I've been slinging burgers at the Doublemeat Palace. And... I've been sleeping with Spike." That's the big one, the awful one; she looks at Giles with serious trepidation, waiting for him to yell or, worse, be disappointed. His expression is hard and unreadable -- until he starts laughing. The helpless, convulsive giggling of a man who must laugh or cry, and chooses the former. Buffy watches him with her jaw open, then starts to be offended Then the utter ridiculousness of the entire season starts to sink in and she starts laughing as hard as Giles.

Outside in the Magic Box, oblivious to the hysterics a few feet away, Anya starts cleaning up the mess; it's not likely she'll make much of a dent, but it beats doing nothing. "Anya," DarkWillow's voice echoes in her head. "I need you, Anya. I need you to do something for me." Anya twists her hands, worried. "I know what you're trying to do," she announces. "And I hate to burst your bubble, but that mind control mojo doesn't work on vengeance demons. So why don't you just--" DarkWillow's mental voice cuts her off. "Stop talking and listen." Anya, meekly: "Okay." DarkWillow orders Anya to free her; Anya gets enough control back to her no and turns away towards Giles and Buffy. DarkWillow gets her back before she can call out, telling her to take off the binding spell. "I don't know how," Anya says. "Do you want me to tell you?" DarkWillow doesn't really ask.

Inside the training room, Buffy and Giles' laughter finally begins to peter out, both leaning weakly on training equipment as Buffy winds up telling him about the insane asylum. "All of it -- you, Sunnydale... and I was just some nutcase in LA." Giles giggles, "Of course. Why didn't we see it before?" They finally get it under control, and Giles asks her to forgive him for leaving. "You were right to leave," Buffy tells him. "We're just... stupid." She admits that she wanted to handle it herself, to prove she was an adult. Giles tells her, "Sometimes the most adult thing you can do is ask for help when you need it." Buffy: "Now you tell me." She admits that it took her a long time to get over the feeling of not really being there. "It's like, when I clawed my way out of that grave, I left something behind. Part of me. I don't understand why I'm back." Giles doesn't have an answer; Buffy sighs and asks another hard question: "What's going to happen to Willow?" Giles says the coven is working on a way to take away her power; "Should she survive... You ought to know, Buffy, that's there's no guarantee she'll be... as she was. DarkWillow's killed a human being. How will she be able to live with herself?" From behind them, DarkWillow informs him, I wouldn't worry about that." She walks in behind Anya's limp body, which she's moving like a puppet until lets her drop. "Willow doesn't live here any more."

After a panicked look at Giles, Buffy rushes DarkWillow, who knocks her back against a wallwith a handful of lightning. Giles shoots out another binding spell, but DarkWillow disperses it with a word and a gesture. Fool me once..." she says, as a display of knives and other pointy things leaps away from the wall. "Shame on you." Giles levitates over a training dummy just in time to intercept the hail of steel. DarkWillow bats the dummy away from Giles; he responds with a ball of green light that literally knocks DarkWillow through the wall back into the shop.

Ouside on the streets, Xander and Dawn are walking purposefully with the Duo of Dorkness still trailing behind them. But when Dawn asks where they're going, Xander responds grimly, "I have no idea, okay? I can't even run away well. That's something I'm usually good at." Dawn suggets, "Maybe we should go back and help." Xander: "Yeah, cause I've been sucha big help already." Oh yeah, I'm sensing a major league pity party, which Xander so doesn't have time to be indulging in. As Dawn immediately points out to him. Thens he tries another approach: "You know, if Spike were here, he'd go back and fight." Xander tosses back casually, "Sure, if he wasn't too busy trying to rape your sister." Pardon me while I bitchslap the living hell out of him. Dawn, of course, demands explanations, refusing to believe him, and Xander bitches, "Is there some kind of genetic blind spot with Summers' women? The only useful thing Spike ever did was leave town." I'm going to bitch at Xander to some extent over that sweeping and completely inaccurate generalization, but not just now. Just now, the platinum blond vampire in question apparently just won another trial, judging by the demon head that comes flying out of the darkness. Spike emerges himself, carrying another head, staying on his feelt mostly through attitude. And no, now he's down on his knees, still shirtless, but battered and bloody. "Go any more ruddy tests for me, youponce? I'll take on anything you can throw at me, long as it'll give me what I need to take care of the Slayer. Give her what's coming to her. Bring on the whole--" He stops and looks down at a sudden chittering. Everyone's seen The Mummy, right? Remember those scarab beetles, the crawly ones that roamed around inside people's bodies? These don't look quite as cool, but seem to be prepared to do the job. Pardon me while I have severe Is-sues.

The Magic Box is thoroughly trashed by the Clash of the Titans. Books are burning, wires are sparking, and DarkWillow's still standing. Giles barely is. "Your powers may be undeniably greater," Giles pants, "but I can still hurt you. If I have to." DarkWillow is unimpressed. "Boy, you just don't get it, do you? Nothing can hurt me now." She passes a hand over her face, and all of the injuries disappear. "Nothing." Giles nods, as Buffy appears behind him. "I see. If you lose someone you love, then the other people in your life, who care about you, they don't mean anything. I wonder what Tara would say about that." DarkWillow's eyes narrow; a hit, a palpable hit. "You can ask yourself." Her attack misses, because Buffy tackles Giles from behind. "You're always saving everyone," DarkWillow comments as the pair sprawl at her feet. "It's kind of pesky." She pulls up a ball of fire, which hovers over her hand. "You probably think you're buying escape time for Jonathan and the other one. Well, I got a little secret for you. I can kill them from anywhere I want, with this." The fireball grows as she passes her hand over it. "It'll find them, it'll bury them -- along with anyone else helping those dead men walking." buffy staggers to her feet. "Don't," she begs. DarkWillow keeps talking. "Unless someone, somehow, can get ther ein time to save them. Oh, well. Fly, my pretty, fly." She gestures one last time, and the fireball flies away from her, through the roof and into the sky. Buffy gives Giles one anguished look. "Go," he tells her, still on the ground, and she races out. "Good luck," DarkWillow calls out casually, before returning her attention to Giles. "I thought she'd never leave. Now i fainally have you all to myself."

Outside, Buffy follows the fireball, now huge, through the sky and down the streets of Sunnydale. Inside, DarkWillow has apparently fallen in love with the sound of her own voice; she wandering around informing Giles why he sucks and she's now ignoring him. "I don't think you're in any position to be telling me what to do. Do you?" She looks up at Giles, plastered at against the ceiling, then gestures, and he drops to the floor. "I used to think you had all the answers, I had so much to learn from you." He tries to speak, and is abruptly slammed back against the ceiling. "You were jealous," DarkWillow spits. "Still are. Just couldn't bear that I was the one with power. That's why you ran away." Giles manages to gasp a spell, breaking her concentration as she's knocked back and off balance; not the best move, since he's rather abruptly back on the floor. "That... was rude," DarkWillow says, offended. "I forgot what I was saying." Giles tells her she's using power too fast, and she's going to burn out soon. "Blah, blah, blah," she intones. "What I need... is a little pick me up." In a flash of white-red light, she puts her hand into Giles chest, sucking the power of the coven out of him as she drained Rack. She jerks away as Giles slumps to floor. "Whoa. Head rush." She's certainly tripping on something, the room dancing and swaying around her. "This is... incredible. I'm so juiced. Giles, it's... it's like no mortal person has ever had this much power. Ever. It's like I, I'm connected to everything. I can feel, and it feels like I can feel... everyone. Oh. Oh my god. All this emotion, and.. the pain. No, everything's too much. It's just too much!" Giles gasps from the floor, "Willow. It doesn't have to be like that. You can stop it" She tries to stagger back to her feet. "Yeah, I can. I have to stop this! I'll make it go away." Giles twitches on the floor, unable to move much less speak again. "Oh, you poor bastard," DarkWillow gasps, as the whirlwind of of travel begins to form around her. "Your suffering has to end." And she disappears, leaving Giles alone in the wreakage of the shop.

Dawn stands by watching as Xander and the DoD try to break into crypts in the cemetary; apparently, this seems like a good hiding place. They meet with a remarkable lack of success, punctuated by bickering. Said bickering is diverted from active violence when Dawn notices something strange in the sky, heading right for them. Can we say massive fireball? Buffy comes racing through the cemetary just in time to tackle the DoD out of the way; the fireball hits the gounds next to them, kocking everyone sprawling. The ground opens up underneath Dawn, and both she and Buffy fall about 50 feet into a tunnel under the cemetary, probably an old crypt. Jonathan's sword falls after them, barely missing skewering Buffy. Upstairs, Xander lies unconcious, and the DoD look at each other. "Mexico, huh?" Jonathan says finally, and they both take off running.

Anya makes her way through the wreckage of the Magic Box, and finds Giles on the floor. I'm so sorry!" she cries, kneeling next to him. "DarkWillow forced me to free ehr with her brain! Are you okay?" Giles said weakly, "I can see." Anya isn't sure how to respond to that, and he elabortaes that Willow took what magic he had, and now he can see her. "I know where she is. I can feel what..." His voice trails off and Anya fusses at him to rest. "Silly girl," he says. "I'm dying. It was the only way. i thought there'd be a chance... Now, I know where Willow is. She's going to finish it.... The world."

Dawn breaks over the cemetary, where Buffy and Dawn are still trapped below ground. Buffy can't climb out and they haven't managed to rouse Xander yet. Buffy starts yanking on coffins to try and get them some height; Dawn suggests they look around for one of the tunnels Spike uses, so they can get to his crypt. "That's the last place on Earth we need to be," Buffy grunts, working at prying a coffin. "Oh," Dawn says. "But it was good enough for you to take me to after what he did to you? Tried to do. Whatever." Buffy tries to blow it off but Dawn won't let her. "Dawn, I am trying to protect you!" Buffy says in frustration. Dawn shouts back, "Well you can't! Look around you! We're trapped, Willow's evil and people I love keep dying. You cannot protect me from that." Buffy seems to be trying to form a respond, but Xander shouts from above them before she can. He reports that the DoD have skedaddled, and starts to look around for rope. Both Buffy and Dawn get startled when Anya suddenly teleports into the hole next to them. She tells them that Giles couldn't stop DarkWillow, and she's out to destroy the world. She's heading for an old Satanic temple on Kingman's Bluff. Buffy blinks, confused. "There's no temple on Kingman's Bluff."

But there will be when DarkWillow finishes raising it. The building comes out of the ground spire first, rising into the air as DarkWillow commands it. There are naked women, and snakes and other generally not-nice things carved all overit, topped with an inverted pentacle. The temple was dedicated to a high-level she-demon, whose followers intended to end the wold, but died when the temple was destroyed in the earthquake of 1932. (The same one that trapped the Master, if I recall correctly. Bad quake all around for world-ending plots.) Anya says DarkWillow plans to steal all of the energy from the world, channel through the demon's effigy, and burn the Earth to a cinder. "Not if I can help it," Buffy says grimly. "You can't," Anya answers. "Something else Giles said -- no magical or supernatural force can stop her." Nobody knows what that means, since Giles isn't being too clear. "i should get back to him. He's alone." Buffy asks fearfully, "Is he okay?" It takes Anya a long time to answer. "I don't think he has a lot of time left. I'm sorry." She disappears again, and Buffy screams for Xander again. But there's no answer. Buffy resumes her efforts to escape. "I am not going to stand by while Willow incinerates what I was Chosen to protect. I have to stop her."

Chanting in front of her temple, DarkWillow 'overhears' Buffy's statement, and turns to smile. "Always the Slayer. Straight to the last." Buffy straightens as DarkWillow's voice sounds in her head. "And it is the last. For all your fighting, thinking you're saving the world. In the end, I'm the only one that can save it." Buffy: "By killing us?" DarkWillow: "It's the only way to stop the pain. I can't take it anymore. But I know you, Buffy; you're all warrior. You won't go out without a fight, and I don't really have time for one. But you should go out fighting. " She smiles again. "It was me who took you out of the earth. Well, now... the earth wants you back." The ground shakes, and things emerge from the wall. I'm going to guess earth elementals, very ugly and out to kill.

Buffy lunges for the sword and starts hacking away, but more emerge from the walls every moment. "I can't take them," Buffy realizes -- and turns to her sister. "Dawn --will you help me?" Carefully, Dawn takes the sword Buffy offers her, and nods. "I got your back." Buffy grabs a second sword (must be Andrew's) and both lunge into battle. DarkWillow has finished raising the temple, and chants to the effigy of the aforementioned naked woman with snakes, as lightning flashes from the ground around her, "Let the cleansing fires from the depths burn away the suffering souls, and bring sweet death." The lightning increases, then, suddenly, balls of green lights start flashing from DarkWillow to the effigy. The ground shakes again, in the crypt and in the Magic Box, when Anya tearfully tells an unresponsive Giles, "Don't die. Not yet. There are things I want to tell you. Thanks a lot for coming. It was good of you to teleport all this way. " The ground shakes again. "Though in retrospect, it would have been better if you hadn't come and given DarkWillow all that magic that made her, like, ten times more powerful. That would have been a plus."

That power keeps bolting from DarkWillow into the effigy -- until a figure suddenly jumped between DarkWillow and the temple. DarkWillow looks up, her concentration broken, and faces Xander. "Hey, black-eyed girl! Whatcha doing?" DarkWillow: "Get out of here." Xander: "Oh, no. You're not the only one with powers, you know. You may be a hopped-up uber-witch, but this carpenter can dry-wall you into the next century." DarkWillow: "I'm not joking, Xander. Get out of my way now." And she blasts him out of the way -- but has to stop as she sees him fall to the ground. Giles comes around slightly and almost smiles. "There... It's not over."

Dawn goes down under the assault of one of the monsters, her sword knocked away. Buffy tries to fight her way through, but before she can, Dawn gets back to her feet, face resolute, and somersaults under the monster's arms, coming up on her feet with sword in hand to kill it. Buffy watches in shock. "What?" Dawn asks with casual pride. "You think I never watched you?" But before buffy can answer, more monsters come out of the earth around them. The sisters stand back-to-back as they're surrounded, fighting for their lives together.

DarkWillow's recharging, and green stuff is flying out of her again -- and there's Xander crawling to his feet, and getting in the way. "You can't stop this," DarkWillow tells him. Xander sighs, "Yeah. I get that. It's just... where else am I gonna go? You've been my best friend my whole life. World gonna end... where else would I want to be?" DarkWillow: "Is this the master plan? You're gonna stop me by telling me you love me?" Xander: "Well, I was gonna walk you off a cliff and hand you an anvil, but it seemed kind of cartoony." DarkWillow looks disgusted. "Still making jokes." But Xander is very serious. "I know you're in pain. I can't imagine the pain you're in. And I know you're about to do something apocalyptically evil and stupid, but hey -- still want to hang. You're Willow." She warns, "Don't call me that." He ignored her, walking closer to her. "The first day of kindergarten, you cried because you broke the yellow crayon, and you were too afraid to tell anyone. You've come pretty far. Ending the world, not a terrific notion. But the thing is, yeah, I love you. I love crayon-breaky Willow, and I love scary-veiny Willow. So if I'm going out, it's here. If you want to kill the world, then start with me. I've earned that."

DarkWillow is seriously getting confused. "You think I won't?" she blusters. Xander keeps moving closer. "It doesn't matter. I'll still love you." She lashes out with one hand; he rocks as something tears at his face and comes up bleeding. "I love you." She knocks him to his knees this time, but he staggers back up. "I love y--" DarkWillow screams, "Shut up!" and starts with the lightning. He staggers back... and the lightning dies. DarkWillow stares around her, scared and confused. Xander's coming back -- "I love you, Willow." -- and none of her stolen powers are answering her any more. She keeps trying to fire at him as he keeps telling her he loves her, and she finally lashes out with her fists, beating at his chest. But not like a dark witch fighting a Slayer -- more like a girl pushed past every limit she ever had. Xander lets her hit, then gets his arms around her, and holds on as she collapses in racking sobs. They rock together on the ground. "I love you," he whispers into her hair... as red slowly washes away the black.

Dawn and Buffy's opponents crumble to dust; Giles wakes up, and sits up, and is almost knocked back over by Anya's joyful hug. "Why aren't you dead?" Giles finishes sitting up, painfully. "The threat's gone. Willow's been stopped. She's alive. The magic she took from me -- it did what I hoped it would do." Anya suddenly gets it. "You doped her. You knew she'd take your powers all along!" Giles explains that, "The gift that was given me by the coven was the true essence of magic. Willow's magic came from a place of rage and power." Anya reminds him, "And vengeance. Don't forget vengeance." Giles: "Oh, how could I? In any case, the magic she took from me tapped into the spark of humanity she had left. Helped her to feel again. Gave Xander the opportunity to reach her." Anya: "Xander?" Giles: "Yes. It was he who got to her in time. He saved us all." Giles smiles with pride. After a second, Anya almost does, too.

Down in the pit, Buffy and Dawn try to adjust to the fact that they're not going to die. Shock is the order of the day. "I-I think it's over, Buffy," Dawn says hesitantly. "We're all still here." Buffy suddenly starts crying in racking sobs, and Dawn says bitterly, "Sorry to disappoint you." Then she sees that her sister is smiling through the tears. "Wait, is that happy crying?" Buffy: "Yes, dummy! You think I wanted the world to end?" Dawn shrugs. "I didn't know." That sinks in, and Buffy suddenly lunges up to hug Dawn, telling her how sorry she is. Dawn comforts her sister, telling her it's okay, but Buffy begs to differ. "It hasn't been okay. But it's gonna be though. I see it." Dawn is bewildered and starting to fear for Buffy's sanity. "See what?" Buffy holds her away by the shoulders and looks into her eyes. "You. Things have really sucked lately -- that's all gonna change. And I want to be there when it does. I want to see my friends happy again, I want to see you grow up. The woman you're going to become. Because she's going to be beautiful, and she's going to be powerful. I got it so wrong. I don't want to protect you from the world. I want to show it to you. There's so much that I want to show you. " She wraps her arms around her sister and they sway together as Sarah McLachlan begins singing "Benediction." Eventually, they pull each other out of the pit, as Xander and Willow huddle together on the hill, Willow's hair shining red in the sun, And Anya and Giles stagger out of the Magic Box leaning on each other. Somewhere far from Sunnydale, and getting farther, Jonathan and Andrew huddle in the front of a rig, going God knows where, and Buffy and Dawn walk together through the sunlight world they almost lost, looking out over Sunnydale.

And in a dark cavern on the other side of that world, Spike lies alone, battered and bloodied. "You have endured the required trials," the entity intones. "Bloody right I have," Spike agrees, without moving. Then he drags himself as far as his knees. "So you'll give me what I want. Make me what I was, so Buffy can get what she deserves." The entity's eyes glow green as it agrees, "Very well." And as it's hand slaps onto Spike's chest, it intones. "We will return your soul." Spike screams as golden light flares from his chest, matching the light suddenly glowing from his eyes....

End credits. End season six. Thank god.

Willow has been stopped and the world didn't end. Yay.

Spike's soul has been restored to him. God/dess help us all.

Everyone was too busy saving the world, really. Anya may be softening towards Xander, but we'll see.

This episode was Xander is so many ways that it's not even funny. . Xander who will lose himself in a pity party for hours, then go to the ends of the earth to help a friend. Xander who hates Jonathan and Andrew with everything in him, and will still bust his ass to save their lives. Xander who loses his temper and says stupid things (proving that you can trust Xander with your life, but not your secrets), and Xander who will face down darkness incarnate because he rather than abandon a friend. He's only human, and that's perhaps the best thing you can say about him, because it was that humanity that saved the world this time around. No magic, no supernatural skills, no Slayer -- just a normal guy who was willing to die, as long as he could do it with his best friend. No matter how pissed you get at him sometimes, no matter how often you want to dope smack him, it always rolls back around to one thing -- he's Xander. So you have to love him.

And the episode is equally completely Willow, in some ways. This is a path she's been wandering towards since early in season 3, but by the time she reaches DarkWillow stage, it's impossible to tell what is Willow, and what is the dark magic talking through her. But we can't just blow off everything as 'the magic made me do it', because the words coming out of DarkWillow's mouth unmistakably came from Willow's mind. The "rank, arrogant amateur" has obviously been rankling for a while, as has the feeling of being Buffy's sidekick, and the desire to be the one with the power, the one with the ability to change it all. And, at the end, it was Willow who came back out through the darkness -- the magic of Giles' coven just gave her a little extra kick, put the emphasis back on the Willow who has spent six years fighting to save everyone else, the girl who was almost too inclined to bleed for everyone else, to feel everyone else's pain -- back on the 15-year-old girl who loved Xander more than anything in the world. Full circle for both of them, right back where they started -- pretty cool.

Buffy also gets to go back to where she started -- alive. She's had her own little Angel-style epiphany, and we can only hope that her determination to see her friends happy again really comes true -- 'cause frankly, I've had more than enough of this gloom-and-doom crap. And much as I could have lived without the teary scene with Dawn, it was good to see Buffy finally getting a clue, and sharing. But Dawn reacted well -- she's grown up so much in two years that it's fairly incredible. Brains, reflexes, and she's learning the moves -- Buffy's right. When Dawn's all grown up, she's going to be damned impressive.

Has anyone else notices that, ever since Anya turned back into a demon, she's become more and ore human? Like she's not trying to hard to be human that she becomes a parody of herself; she simply is herself -- compassion, impatience, hurt, love and all. She stays behind to protect Buffy and shield against Willow without being asked, as if there's simply no other alternative, instead of running and hiding from an Ascension. She doesn't lunge at Giles, she waits to be invited into the hug she wants so badly. She doesn't try to think of what a human would do when faced with a dying friend, she simply does what comes naturally, and is all the more sincerely sweet because of it. I liked human Anya; I'm very close to adoring demon Anya. Massive Kudos to Emma Caulfield for the amazing development of her character,

Giles is the coolest person on the face of the Earth, that's all there is to it. He was wonderful with Anya and Buffy when he first arrived, his giggling hysterical reaction to Buffy's confession was perfect, and he joins the list willing to sacrifice himself to save the world -- and his children. Plus, you know, he kicks major magical butt given the right power to draw from. Gotta love it.

And Spike. How many people predicted that Spike wasn't going to get what he thought he wanted? How many people yelled, "Be specific, Spike!" at the screen multiple times? How many people shrieked with utter glee for about three hours after that gorgeous, priceless last line? He should have known better than to assume that the Powers would have the same interpretation of "what Buffy deserves" that he does. Wow, is he gonna be pissed. And wow, is this gonna be fun to watch!! Best Moments:
Giles cracking up after Buffy's confession. Completely unexpected and absolutely priceless, and one of the three or four best moments of the season.

The entire fight between DarkWillow and Giles. Alyson Hannigan gives great snarky, and ASH gives fabulous grim and determined.

Willow sending off the fireball -- loved the Wizard of Oz bit.

Jonathan and Andrew taking off. I'd hoped Jonathan wouldn't, but it's understandable, and I hope to see him again.

Buffy giving Dawn the sword. A far simpler and cooler bonding scene than the overwrought one at the end.

Xander jumping right in between Willow and the temple. Mostly unexpected, and very cool.

Dawn rolling and coming up with the sword. Go girl!

The entire confrontation between Xander and Willow. Both Alyson and Nick have spent six years working up to that scene, and they both carried it off gorgeously. Really loved the wash effect of Willow's hair changing back.

Spike getting his soul back. That's just never going to get old. < g >

Questions and Comments:
And the FX people really came through throughout both parts of the finale --- they must have been hoarding the budget for a while for this one (which explains a few things). But the magical firefight, the earth critters, the raising of the temple -- all fabulously done.

The payoff of the finale is almost enough to resign me to the depression and Other Things Wrong that made this probably the least enjoyable season of Buffy ever. Note I said least enjoyable, not worst -- that honor still belongs to season 4. But a season redeemed by actors pulling the best they can out of heartbreaking plots, somehow still making us care about the characters despite the writers' best efforts to leave us completely burned out... it can't really be classified as good. "Once More With Feeling" was brilliant. "Tabula Rasa" was funny, and the finale rocked the house down. The rest of it... won't be watched again any time soon. If ever. I miss Tara, I'm still pissed about Spike, and Buffy and Willow are both far down on my list of favorite people. Next season, we've been promised fun and light. We'll see.

Rating: 5 stars out of five. Did I mention the house rocking down part? The denouement was a little over-the-top sappy for me, but everything leading up to it was easily up to the standards of the Best of Buffy.


"GAH!!!! GAH!!!! And this time. . . . it's "GAH" in a good way! In a phenomonal way! In a "could that possibly have rocked any more?!" way! Thank you thank you thank you Joss and David Fury and Doug Petrie and all the cast for restoring the enirity of my faith in this show in 2 entirely too short hours. Giles!!! Xander!!! Willow! (Evil Willow is SUCH a bitch. I love it!) Dawn! (Totally kept saying everything she needed to in this one. FINALLY! I can like this girl.) Buffy! Welcome back! SPIKE!!!! He's so going to be wanting to return that thing. . . . and I don't think those guys take it back. WHEE!!! I love being incoherent with glee!!" Mary Beth

"Is it me or do we now have a loophole where Willow can use magic without going crazy? Maybe if she uses Giles' organic magic--New! Fortified with Humanity!--instead of the gothmaker stuff, she'll be able to be a part-time witch again? Really not going to be the same without Tara, though. Best season finale since 2, I'd say." -- Mike

"Wonderful scene with him and Buffy talking and laughing at the absurdity of everything that's gone on in the last few months as Buffy's updated him. It's a much needed laugh, given the morbid humour of the situation."
"Loved that bit. All of it. Laughter's also something they needed more of. So yay for them!"
"Buffy so needed to have a good laugh at herself. I know Slaying's a totally serious responsibility and all, but the weight of the world is not *always* on her shoulders, and she's forgotten that. Maybe understandably so, but I still kinda miss the girl from first season. She's never really been that carefree again. (Yeah, I know, dying twice will do that to you.)" -- Lynn, Jennie and Tina

"Willow's got some Serious Mojo due to be comin' back at her. She's really gone off the deep end. In such a way that I was concerned that she was too far gone that they couldn't get her back. I really hope Joss works the consequences into next season."
"I somehow suspect Osiris will want retribution."
"Ya think? Don't frell with the lord of the underworld, because you too will die someday." -- Lynn, Jennie and Tina

[RE: Speculation that Giles will take Willow to England to join the Watchers] "One of the problems I have with this whole scenario is the tendency to keep letting Willow off the hook. She does bad things which are frowned upon for a short period and then it's "hey, it's Willow, she's one of the good guys" so all is forgiven. I sooooo hope Joss doesn't let that happen this time. For example, compare Willow's actions to Faith. Faith goes all dark-side and kills someone, does nasty things to the Scoobies, the Watchers come after her in force to haul her off in chains, and finally she realizes she has to pay for what she's done (okay, with a little help from Angel), and TURNS HERSELF into the police. And presumably is still in jail. Are we going to see Willow be accountable for her actions? (With the no-body scenario I don't see the police involved, but everyone else knows what went on. And I'm assuming here that she still has all her magic abilities intact so what happens the next time she gets mad?) I really hope there's some long-term consequences to he! r actions. If I was Dawn I wouldn't want her anywhere near me, ditto for Anya."
"You have a good point, but in this case I don't think it *is* letting her off the hook. If it were a case that the "real-world" legal system could deal with, any lawyer worth paper the his/her diploma is printed on would have her off on temporary insanity without breaking a sweat. I might not agree with the verdict any more than I suspect you would, but it's a pretty damn likely scenario. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Watchers' Council ain't gonna put her in a frilly pink bedroom and feed her Krispy Kremes. She's going to have to work her ass off, and she's going to have to prove every day for a *very* long time that she is committed to shaping up. Your Faith comparison is a more than fair one, but I submit to you that Willow putting herself in the charge of Watcher disciplinary procedures (which I'm sure are as hidebound and inflexible as everything else they do, and for once that could actually be a useful thing) *is* comparable to Faith turning herself in to the mundane authorities. Faith made that choice for much the same reason: she recognized that she was out of control, and needed more help than Angel could give her. She needed to be in the charge of a system that could provide the mental health care she needs, while taking away her option of quitting the process and protecting the rest of the world from her. From what we've seen of the way the Watchers operate, this is exactly what I see them doing with Willow. " -- Rastro and Maddog

"And what about Spike? Everyone's always on about Spike - he's so evil, he doesn't have a soul, etc - but he never tried to destroy the world, in fact he actively worked against it. (Yes, I like Spike! Yum!) And you just know that when he does come back (as a vampire with a soul, human, or whatever) he's gonna be even more on the out because of what happened with Buffy."
"Well, of course. The timing of the universe pitching him this little curveball is cruel and unusual. Prior to the assault on Buffy, even Xander's mouthing of the whole evil-no-soul-blah-blah-blah thing had become as empty and automatic as it ever was with Angel. Whatever anyone *said*, Spike was a member of the team, had been one for over a year, and was consistently treated as such. Now he's in the doghouse in a way that necessarily prompts an extreme emotional reaction, just as he'll be coming back quite literally a different man. It's gonna suck for him. A lot. Which is why TPTB (the ones in whatever dimension they're watching from in the Buffyverse, *and* the ones in the offices in Hollywood) did it to him now."
"Though I still think that wasn't really fair either (now I'm not condoning violence against women, which is WRONG and I HATE), because the whole Spike/Buffy relationship was so violent and so dysfunctional that "normal" standards of behaviour hardly apply. (Buffy beats the crap out of Spike cause she's upset and he's a convenient punching bag and that's okay? He just stands there and takes it)."
"Completely disagree on the unfairness. "Normal" standards may not apply, and there should have been an overt statement of what their own standards were, but they did exist and Spike did exceed them. He doesn't get off the hook. [And] no. It's most definitely *not* okay, and Buffy is most definitely not off the hook for it in my mind. Spike's choosing to stand there and take it does not in any way make it okay.""
"It'd be nice if everyone was actually in possession of all the facts - for example, Xander knows Spike tried to rape Buffy but also knows that in their "relationship", "foreplay" involved demolishing houses and beating! the crap out of each other. But of course Joss is evil and that'd spoil his fun! How different would be Xander's view of the Spike/Anya thing be if they'd tuned in a few minutes earlier and heard the preceeding comments? Xander would have a much better understanding of how much he hurt Anya and of why she did what she did. But instead he just sees the sex part and can therefore be the injured party. (Again, ditto for Buffy.) I swear that Joss person just delights in winding us up and then letting us stew for months. ARGH!!"
"*blink* *blink* This needs to be stated? Oh, wait. You're not stating it. You're bewailing it to keep your head from exploding. Totally understand. Carry on. :-) " -- Rastro and Maddog

"Wow, Willow makes the same noise as the Nazgul in Lord of the Rings." -- Jennie

"Okay, so I'm gay, not dead. Yeah Giles lookin good." -- Lynn

"Spike is fighting the flaming fists of fury!!!"
" I kept waiting for the voice to say "Finish Him" like in Mortal Kombat"
"Adam (the aforementioned husband) just *had* to comment on the Mortal Kombat similarities too. < snerk > I was too busy goggling at the shirtlessness." -- Jennie, Tom and Tina

"[Spike] should *so* know better. And he actually *does*, but to act on that knowledge would require actual Thinking Things Through, of which Spike is pathologically incapable. Result: I was *vastly* amused, and not feeling bad for him at all." -- Valerie

"The wording was slightly different in the closed-captioning. Instead of matching what was said, "We will return your soul", the CC has it being "Your soul is returned to you." It might not mean anything, but the soul can mean many things "
"And, hey, no Gypsy curseage involved. Spike -- is he going to go by William now? He is *so* gonna be able to have perfect happiness. < snerk > Angel's gonne be *pissed* when he finds out." -- Tom and Tina

"Anya "I dyed my hair.. I'm blonde....again..." By far the funniest line in my opinion of the whole show"
"< snicker > I really like Anya. Betcha it takes a *damn* long time before she and Willow start speaking again." -- Tom and Tina

"You know, everybody talks about Xander and Giles, but for my money, Anya was the unsung hero of this episode. Totally pitching in and helping when Willow's never been her bestest buddy, and she's not feeling kindly to Xander, and by extension the rest of the Scooby gang, but she puts her personal stuff aside to focus on the crisis. I can't see S4 Anya even bothering. And she handles herself with aplomb; how great was she at the police station? Calm, collected, focused, laying it all out for the nerds and the guard. And as powerful as Willow is, Anya doesn't back away from her an inch at any point, and pays for it too. And she was so sweet and tender with Giles--I think she cares about him almost as much as Buffy does. She even broke the news about Giles being near death with some tact and sensitivity. For a character who started out as a one-shot villain and spent rather a bit too long as a one-note sex-positive joke, she's really come into her own as a character. And just a hunch--I think she'll stay a vengance demon for a while. Partly because we can't just go back to Xander and Anya in a relationship because that would be simple and easy, which, come on, but also because with Tara and Spike gone and Willow (presumably) depowered, Buffy's gonna need some extra muscle on occasion." -- Mike

"Poor Xander."
"Poor Xander? I have to disagree! The guy finally got to be the TRUE hero. And in a way that was all his..Not following buffy, not doing what someone tells him.. Not screwing up and saving the world in the process.. Just being him and in the end that's all he needed. I pity him for whats going on with Anya, but I'm hoping that they get back together next year."
"Yeah, but early in the episode he was all, "Poor me, my life sucks." Which it did, no doubt. But I love, love, *love* that Giles had faith that Xander would be able to stop Willow. Buffy's always saying that Willow's her best friend, which is true, but Xander knows her far better. I *so* hope he and Anya get back together next season. Ooooh, and can I just say that the teleportation effects were really cool?" -- Jennie, Tom and Tina

"Speaking of Xander, though, what was so great about it was he so wasn't trying to be a hero. His actions just came naturally to him; being Xander, he could not have done otherwise. He would never have reached Willow if the whole thing had been some kind of plotted stratagem; the unrehearsed, unguarded sincerity of it was what made it impossible to resist. And the moment where she gives up and starts pounding on his chest still makes me choke up. You do have to wonder, though, how much in the way of long-term consequences this is going to have. Will this lead to a new direction of some kind for Willow next year? It almost has to, or it has about as much resonance as Buffy's actions in Normal Again. I definitely agree with Tina when she says we should see the results of this." -- Mike

"Ok let me set this up for you.. I recorded Buffy and watched it at about 10:00 so by the time giles appeared it was about 11:15 or so. My wife was upstairs sleeping, My puppy was outside on the other side of the wall sleeping and I was trying to be quiet so not to wake them.. But when Giles appeared and delivered the line "I'd like to test that theory" I screamed "Hell Yeah!" at the top of my voice and woke both up.. Whoops :)" -- Tom

"Wow, is Willow's life gonna *suck* for a long time. Not only did she kill two people, she bitched out Dawn and threatened her, she tried to kick Buffy's ass *and* bitched her out, she nearly killed Giles, she hurt Anya and Xander (though Xander will forgive her, I'm sure), and she trashed the Magic Box, about which I must admit that I am quite sure that Giles and Anya have insured to the absolute hilt. I really do hope that the start of the season still deals with these issues, even though there will have been a whole summer of us not seeing what dealing has been done. And I hope Willow moves out of the Summers house, at least for a while, because being there will not help her, Buffy, or Dawn." -- Tina

"Dude. Can I just say that Michelle must have had way too much fun now that they finally let Dawn fight demons?" -- Tina

"It may be pointless to try and shelter Dawn from the Hellmouth's forces, but the girl still needs to be reined in; going to find Rack was not the brightest move. And I am so glad Willow killed him; easily the corniest villain in Buffy history, right up there with the demon casino owner in Angel." -- Mike

"Danny Strong was great. I don't know if I could take Jonathan in the Scooby gang, though. And I have to say, I really enjoyed Adam Busch's performance all season; he did such a good job embodying the little creep. Tom Lenk had a thoroughly thankless role (let's hope he doesn't get typecast) but all the actors playing the Trio appeared to be having the time of their lives." -- Mike

"Was I the only one who wasn't completely convinced by Buffy's "I see the light" speech? I just couldn't place the catalyst for the sea change in attitude. Was it escaping the end of the world? The fact that Willow was going to be all right? Having Dawn fight by her side? Or was it just one of those things where you finally decide you're sick of being miserable, and you're going to try being happy for a while? It wasn't bad, necessarily, but I would have liked it to be more pointed."
"I finally figured out what bugged me about was very soap opera. Kinda over-dramatic, and the way SMG delivered it, standing sort of faced away from Dawn--I thought for one uncharitable second, "Was there an AMC reunion I missed?"" -- Mike and Celli

***** "Shirtless Spiiiiiike."
" I'd say 'yeah' here but it doesn't really have the same appeal for me - now Amanda Tapping (Sam, SG1), she doesn't even need to strip down - her smile is enough to make me all mushy."
"You, me, her CO, and a good 3/4 of the galaxy. *giggle* However, I am also *quite* appreciative of extensively shirtless Spike."
"Umm nope sorry.. Doesn't do anything here.. However that look Anya gave when Giles told her Xander saved the world? Ahhhhhhh-yeah.."
"I've checked with my husband for an additional guy perspective, and been told that the ponytail "works" for Anya. I'm really not sure what this means, except that it's a compliment." -- Jennie, Lynn, Val, Tom and Tina (for Adam)

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