Once More With Feeling: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #1

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Once More With Feeling is an episode that a lot of fans consider to be their favorite and it definitely tops my list because I’m a sucker for a good musical. In fact, I got introduced to Joss Whedon through Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. I know most of the songs in this episode by heart and honestly wouldn’t change a single thing about this episode. For the most part.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS ENSUE! Don’t read if you haven’t started Season 6!

The episode starts with a short recap of everything that’s been going on up to this point. Spike is in love with Buffy, who only sees his feelings as obsession. Willow resurrected Buffy and Dawn has kleptomania. Xander and Anya finally announce their engagement while Willow and Tara are having problems due to Willow becoming too dependent on magic. The short recap ends with Willow deciding to use a spell to make Tara forget a fight.

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The opening is a unique one compared to every other episode. The theme song is played in an orchestral style instead of the usual rock and roll theme. The cast’s faces are shown on the moon with old Hollywood style font. I so wish Amber Benson and Anthony Stewart Head got a part in this opening but oh well.

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The episode starts with the episode title being shown on screen as the overture begins to play. Buffy wakes up as her alarm clock rings. Willow, Tara, and Dawn are seen getting ready, but Buffy stays in bed. Cut to the Magic Box later that day, where Xander and Anya are looking at a bridal magazine, Giles reminds Dawn to go do her homework, Willow and Tara are studying, and Buffy is drawing a white light surrounded by darkness in her notebook.

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The overture then leads into the opening song that Buffy sings as she goes on patrol, “Going Through the Motions.” This song is majorly clever with the words syncing with Buffy’s fighting and slaying. She saves some random guy and laments that she wants to be alive. (Reminds me of Matthew West’s “The Motions.”)

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The next morning, Buffy goes to the Magic Box after dropping off Dawn at school. Xander makes a funny doughnut joke that Anya apparently heard before. Then Buffy asks everyone if anyone burst into song last night and everyone starts realizing that they did sing in some shape or form last night. This leads into the next song “I’ve Got a Theory.”

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This is a funny song because the song is so self-aware. I mean, how many musicals sing about why they’re singing? Scrubs kind of did that with their musical episode, but this song, to quote Commentary the Musical, basically “breaks the ninth wall.” Willow thinks some kid is dreaming and everyone is “stuck inside his wacky Broadway nighmare.”

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Xander thinks it could be witches, but gets shot down by Willow and Tara. Anya thinks it could be bunnies, which is met with the sound of crickets. Then she gets this hilarious solo about why she’s afraid of bunnies. It’s hard rock bordering on metal and Anya even plays air guitar. It is awesome.

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Then when Giles and Willow sing about how they should get to work, Buffy sings that it doesn’t matter.

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It sounds motivating at first, but then you realize that Buffy is completely disconnected from this latest danger. And yet I love it because the motivation is still there. Buffy even jokes about how she died twice. The song ends with the Scoobies saying “There’s nothing we can’t face” with Anya singing “except for bunnies.” Then she wonders if they’re the only ones singing, but Buffy looks outside to a crowd singing about how the dry cleaners got the mustard out.

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Later on, Dawn comes in, excited about everyone singing. Willow and Tara decide to get out of the Magic Box to get some kind of volume or text in Buffy’s house while Dawn steals a necklace she spies lying on the counter. You can pretty much tell from the way that Willow and Tara are talking that they actually just want to be alone together.

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The two of them are seen walking in a park, where a couple of boys are checking Tara out. Tara jokes about suddenly wanting the boys, but Willow hopes that she doesn’t have to fight to keep Tara. Keep in mind, by the way, that Tara is under the influence of Willow’s spell on her. This leads to Tara singing her beautiful ballad “Under Your Spell.” I know that Tara’s outfit kind of looks like a Renaissance Faire number, but it looks good on her. The song is a sweet number and it would be a genuine one if you forget about the fact that Tara is actually under Willow’s spell. The two of them go back home to…well…you know.

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This is where the song loses me because the two of them are basically having sex under false pretenses. Joss Whedon even says in the commentary that this scene was basically porn. Back in the Magic Box, Xander takes note at Willow and Tara’s “get a roominess” while Dawn thinks that the whole musical extravaganza is kind of romantic and doesn’t think that anything can go wrong. Cut to a guy tap dancing so hard he spontaneously combusts.

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The next morning sees Xander and Anya enjoying a morning off of work. Anya starts singing “I’ll Never Tell” which turns into a duet with her and Xander. Their duet is sweet, but the cracks in their relationship also show. It’s also delves into their insecurities about the future. The song itself is reminiscent of Singing in the Rain’s numbers, especially when Xander and Anya collapse onto a couch laughing. Anya even tells Giles in the next scene that their song “is a retro-pastiche that’s never going to be a breakaway pop hit.”

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As Anya, Xander, and Giles talk about what’s going on with the spontaneous combustions, executive producer Marti Noxon gets a short solo in which her character tries to talk her way out of getting a parking ticket. Giles says that Buffy is looking for information from local demon haunts. Guess where she actually goes.

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Buffy asks Spike if there’s anything going on and Spike hates that she’s not coming to see him for, um, other things. At this point the two of them have a very strange friendship going on, with Spike being the only one that Buffy can talk to about being dead and hating her life because she longs for Heaven. Spike tells her to leave, knowing that he could break out into song at any minute. This, of course, leads into his awesome solo “Rest in Peace.”

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Now as you know, I have a Texas-sized crush on Spike and the actor that plays him, so even though Buffy is disgusted at the fact that she’s being serenaded, I’m slowly realizing what “Killing Me Softly (With His Song)” actually means. James Marsters, incidentally, actually has a band and some solo albums out, so he gets to show off his skills in this song. You may also realize that he’s not singing in a British accent. But who cares?!

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The only thing wrong with this song is that it’s the complete opposite of what Spike actually wants from Buffy. Yes, he’s sick of getting mixed messages from her, but you’re not helping things by singing a mixed message of your own, Spike. And come on, Buffy, he’s serenading you! Enjoy it!

"So, you're not staying then?" Not after what you sang to her, you moron!

“So, you’re not staying then?”
Not after what you sang to her, you moron!

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Back in Buffy’s house, Dawn preps to do math homework. Tara tells Dawn about a lead Willow got about some musical demon that got summoned. Dawn reminds Tara about the fight that she and Willow had the previous night and Tara genuinely forgets and decides to go to the Magic Box to look into the flower that she pinned on her shirt.

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Dawn takes the necklace she stole out of the jewelry box and wears it. She starts singing when some demons with puppet heads kidnap her. The next scene shows Michelle Tratchenberg in the Bronze, showing off her ballet skills as her attempt to escape her kidnappers is shown as a really well-choreographed ballet. Dawn slides over to the stage, where she meets the musical demon Sweet, who goes into a nice bluesy villain song, “What You Feel.”

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Hilton Battle, who plays Sweet, is a Tony Award winning actor who tap-dances through this song with a devilish charm. Only problem with this song? Sweet assumes that Dawn summoned him and wants to make her his queen. Keep in mind that Dawn is 16 years old at this point. Sweet sends his minions to get Buffy cuz he wants to see her burn.

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Over in the Magic Box, Buffy’s training with Giles. Something to note, by the way. Anthony Stewart Head has his own music albums out so this number, “Standing” is his chance to show off his singing. He did it twice in Season 4 and I love this song. But I hate that Giles had to leave because Anthony Stewart Head wanted to leave the show. I get that Giles thinks that Buffy is becoming too dependent on him, but on the other hand, Buffy needs Giles because she’s majorly depressed and can’t lose her father figure when she already lost her mother the previous year. If Anthony Stewart Head wanted to leave, they could’ve killed Giles off. It would’ve made more sense than having Giles destroy Buffy psychologically.

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Tara makes her way up to the loft in the Magic Box and finds a book that shows that the flower she wore is Lethe’s Bramble, which is used for spells for erasing memories and mind control. Tara has handled abuse from her family before, so she hates that Willow is starting to abuse her. This leads into a duet between her and Giles in which the two of them sing about leaving the ones they love in spite of how much they want to stay. It really breaks my heart but I side more with Tara wanting to leave Willow.

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Spike comes in with one of Sweet’s minions who tells Buffy about how her sister is at the Bronze and how Sweet wants to take Dawn to the underworld to be his queen and then makes a run for it. Buffy expects everyone to back her up, but Giles tells her to go alone. Spike offers to help Buffy, but Buffy refuses it.

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This leads into my personal favorite song in this episode “Walk Through the Fire.” It’s an ensemble number that I love singing along to. I relate to Buffy wanting the fire in her heart to come back. The idea of walking through the fire is reminiscent of the idea of “If you’re going through hell, keep on moving.”

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Spike broods in an alley over his love for Buffy. He hopes that Buffy dies, but decides to go help her in spite of that desire. Yeah, his love is complicated and messed up. Just go with it.

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In the Magic Box, the Scoobies wonder if staying behind was the right choice. They decide to go to Bronze to rescue Dawn and help Buffy however they can. Buffy, however, thinks that she’s alone and she doesn’t want to tell anyone the truth about what actually happened to her.

This leads into my favorite part of the song. Everyone gets a line that builds up to the final chorus.

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Buffy kicks down the door to the Bronze, where she confronts Sweet. She makes an offer: “I can’t kill you, you take me to Hellsville in her place.” Sweet tells her to sing and Buffy starts her 11 o’clock number “Something to Sing About.”

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This song is another favorite of mine because Buffy is singing about how much she wants to live, but she has nothing to live for. In the midst of this song, Buffy finally reveals to everyone that she wasn’t in a hell dimension like she thought, but in Heaven. (Being Catholic, I of course refuse to believe that Buffy was in Heaven because Heaven is a one-way trip. The show didn’t exactly handle Buffy’s resurrection all that well, but since the show’s canon implies that Buffy was in Heaven, let’s just go with it for now.)

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Buffy starts dancing frantically in the hopes of burning up, only for Spike to save her from spontaneous combustion. He tells her that she just needs to keep on living, in spite of how hard life is. Dawn tells her sister “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it” and the number comes to an end.

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Sweet decides to take Dawn and leave because she summoned him, pointing out that she’s wearing his talisman. Xander reveals that he actually summoned Sweet and the demon decides to leave because he doesn’t swing that way. Now personally, I think that Dawn actually summoned Sweet and that Xander decided to cover for her, but that’s just my headcanon. Sweet leaves with one last parting shot and then everyone goes into the closing number “Where Do We Go From Here?”

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This song is a bittersweet one because they saved the day but the problems they have are still lingering in the air. In the midst of the song, Spike and Buffy leave as the rest of the Scoobies sing of how “the curtains close on a kiss not known…”

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Spike and Buffy meet outside of the Bronze. Spike makes a shout out to the Music Man and Buffy starts singing. The two of them go into their final duet in which Buffy pleads about how she wants to feel and Spike wants Buffy to make him feel, leading into the kiss that closes out the episode, curtain closing on them and all. (If I had it my way, Buffy would’ve sang “This can’t be real, I don’t know how I feel,” but I digress.)

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What can I say about this episode that hasn’t already been said? You can tell that the cast and crew worked really hard on this episode and in the wrong hands, it could’ve been disastrous. According to what James Marsters said, Joss Whedon has many talents, but he can’t play the piano so the cast was majorly scared of creating this episode. Miraculously, though, the music and choreography and cinematography all came together beautifully. It’s a great episode to sing along to, but not one I can show to casual fans.

I tried watching this episode back in my college days after becoming a fan of Joss through Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. But when I watched this episode for the first time, I didn’t know anything about any of the characters and I honestly wasn’t ready to get emotionally invested in them. Yet. In spite of that, Buffy lingered under my radar. I knew of the show and the characters, but I never dived into the Buffyverse until I felt like I needed it.

My friend Charles shared something on his Facebook that I feel relates to this episode and Season 6 as a whole:

Life is anything but certain and there are a few things that are. God often times reveal our true purposes in life along the way, only giving us hints here and there, but never really revealing the whole thing to us all at once. There is an important reason for this, for it is not through intellectual intuition that one can learn the answers to life’s greatest mysteries…but it is through experience.

Sometimes, God hides the answers to our greatest questions, because in His Infinite Wisdom, He knows we will not recognize the answers even if it were presented to us at face-value. It is only through experience, by living-out our daily lives, that we learn the “hidden clues” that bring us to the answers that we seek. This is the true nature of wisdom, learning something new from something old – of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. You do not need to know all the answers, just have faith that one day you will, and more importantly, that you will finally recognize them when they appear.

Season 6 of Buffy is an emotional rollercoaster. “Once More With Feeling” and “Tabula Rasa” were the calm before the storm. Buffy wasn’t going to get any answers to why she got ripped out of Heaven from Sweet or any Powers that Be. Her reasons to live were right in front of her but she didn’t recognize it because she was lost in her depression. It took her a whole season for Buffy to finally regain the will to live and Spike, being her mirror image, also seeks reason to live which culminates in him regaining his soul.

This episode encompasses Season 6 in a nutshell. The Big Bad wasn’t some demon who wanted to take over the world, but just life itself. And the answer to facing life? Just keep on living.

The Gift: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #2

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It’s not easy for me to pick which episode of Buffy will go in the #2 spot. I reserve my #1 spot for the episode I can watch multiple times and still love no matter what. The #2 spot goes to my favorite season finale. Joss Whedon is amazing at making finales and all the finales to Buffy were great. “Prophecy Girl” was the big finish to a less-than-stellar first season. “Becoming Part 2” is #3 on my list for being the first episode that got me crying over the show. The “Graduation” 2-parter in Season 3 is the most solid season finale. “Restless” is the best absurd theater ever. “Grave” was just a big sigh of relief after the roller-coaster that was Season 6 and still left me crying in the end. And “Chosen” was a contender for this spot because of one majorly awesome moment that changed my life forever.

But the reason I picked “The Gift” over the other finales is because in spite of how it ends, I felt like everyone was at their best in this particular episode. Everyone felt in-character and I actually believed in a good future for everyone if one thing didn’t happen. But  that’s stuff I’ll save for fanfiction.

MAJOR SPOILERS ENSUE! IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED SEASON 5, STOP RIGHT NOW! Also, Buffy fans, you’re gonna need tissues for this one.

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The episode starts out with a breathtaking 38-second recap of literally everything that has happened in the last five seasons before cutting to a shot of someone running down an alleyway. Joss Whedon said that the idea for Buffy was inspired by the thought of “what if the blonde girl who always ran away from the monsters only to get killed actually kicked the monster’s ass instead?” This opening scene shows a young boy running down an alleyway from a vampire, turning the tables on that classic horror movie trope. Then Buffy comes in with a nice opening snark and proceeds to kick the vampire’s ass and stakes him without too much of a struggle. Buffy’s actually surprised that the vampire didn’t recognize her as the Slayer and starts leaving. The boy is surprised that she was able to beat that vampire, saying “You’re just a girl.”

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“That’s what I keep saying.”

I should tell you right now that the Season 5 opening credits in this episode are my favorite. The only thing missing was a credit for Amber Benson. And no, her opening credit in a particular Season 6 episode does not count!

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Buffy returns to the Magic Box.  Everyone is figuring out how to stop Glory from using Dawn, Buffy’s little sister,  a ritual that would literally unleash Hell on earth. Dawn has the power to open up the portal to Glory’s hell dimension and her blood is what opens the portal. It would take Dawn’s death to close the opening and stop Glory’s hell dimension from bleeding over into Buffy’s world.  Xander asks why the ritual has to involve blood. Spike, ever the street-smart one, says that it’s always blood because blood is life.

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Buffy does not want to deal with the concept of killing her sister to save the world, even if Dawn isn’t actually her sister. Buffy points out that Dawn is a part of her because the monks created Dawn out of her. Giles reminds Buffy that if the ritual is complete, Glory’s hell dimension will bleed into Buffy’s world and that everyone will die. But Buffy, in spite of the fact that she loves everyone, loves Dawn so much that she doesn’t want to kill her.

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Anya decides that they need to stop Glory before the ritual and Spike asks Buffy “When you say you love us all-” only for Giles and Xander to tell him to shut up. It’s a relieving moment in a majorly serious episode.

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Xander contemplates killing Ben, but since Ben and Glory share a body, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll come around. In my honest opinion, Ben was never actually human. He was just a “host body” for Glory in the same way Professor Quirrel was the host body for Voldemort. The Scoobies decide that since the ritual needs to take place at a certain allotted time, Buffy can stall for time. Anya remembers the Dagon Sphere to make Glory weak and points out that they have a troll hammer that Buffy thankfully can wield. (In my honest opinion, I wish that the hammer was Mjolinir but that’s just the Avengers fangirl in me.) When they start wondering about how to find Glory, Tara, whose mind has been damaged from Glory stealing her memories, starts crying out about the “big day.”

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Over in the bad guy’s hideout, Ben gives Dawn a dress for the ritual. Dawn snarks at him and asks for Glory to come around. And since we’re talking about the Big Bad of Season 5, allow me to use this scene to gush about how awesome Clare Kramer is as an actress for making Glory my favorite Big Bad. Glory knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t care about unleashing Hell in order to get it. She’s hilarious and a total knockout when it comes to looks. She’s basically like a Bond villain only with super strength. You’d be surprised to find out that in real life, Clare Kramer is the nicest lady there is. I actually got to meet her in Comicpalooza and told her about how much I loved the show.

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The next scene in this episode finds Buffy taking her frustrations out on a punching bag. She punches the bag off the chain in a scene that Joss will later use for Captain America in Avengers when Giles tells her that stopping Glory is a matter of waiting for the right moment to strike. Giles says that sometimes saving the world comes at the cost of doing something bad, but Buffy refuses to consider it. The two of them sit down on a couch and think things over.

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Then Buffy breaks out into a heartbreaking monologue about how the burden of saving the world is taking its toll on her. She doesn’t want to save the world if it means losing everything that she loves. She laments about how the First Slayer, a spirit guide seen in a previous episode, told her that death was her gift and says that if Dawn dies, she won’t be the Slayer anymore.

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Dawn changes into the dress that Glory picked out for the ritual and gets taken by Glory’s minions to a tall tower overlooking a construction site.

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Back in the Magic Box, Xander and Anya are down in the basement, dressing up after having sex with each other. Xander finds the Buffybot while Anya looks around the basement for the Dagon Sphere. She finds a stuffed bunny instead and freaks out, since she has major bunny phobia. Xander comforts Anya, who tells him that before, she would run away whenever an apocalypse was coming around but since she’s a human and not a vengeance demon, she actually cares for Xander and wants to help save the world. This prompts Xander to propose to her. Anya rightfully thinks that he’s proposing just because the world is gonna end and Xander won’t go through with it. Xander insists that he’s proposing because he believes that the world won’t end and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Anya accepts on the condition that she gets the ring “if the world doesn’t end.” It’s at this point that I cry out “We could’ve had it all!” from Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Screw you Season 6!

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Buffy goes to Willow and asks her if she is ready to help. Willow is the only one, at this point, that was able to hurt Glory with the power of her magic. Willow is more focused on helping Tara and thinks that if she can reverse what Glory did and get Tara’s memories back, it could weaken Glory. Willow is at her best in Season 5, in my honest opinion. She uses her magic to help others instead of using it as a quick fix to solve her problems. I have to give Amber Benson major cred for her performance in this episode because it’s not easy to act insane.

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Buffy takes Spike to her house. It should be noted, by the way, that at this point, Buffy has disinvited Spike from her house. So when she tells Spike to come in, it’s a majorly important thing. Buffy tells Spike to protect Dawn and Spike promises “til the end of the world.”

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Buffy goes up the stairs, but stops when Spike tells her that he understands that Buffy will never love him. (He’ll be proven wrong about that later.) He understands that he’s a monster, but Buffy treats him like a man. Which is surprisingly true. It’s one of the best Spuffy moments in the whole series. And yes, I am screaming at Buffy to kiss him at this point.

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As Dawn gets tied up at the top of the tower, the Scoobies assemble at the Magic Box. Willow tells Tara to lead the way. Buffy tells everyone that the mission is to stop the ritual from happening or else she’ll kill anyone who gets near Dawn. Giles and Spike leave quoting the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V, only Spike says “we band of buggered” instead of “band of brothers.”

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Tara leads the Scoobies to the construction site and there’s a small funny moment when Willow says she needs courage and Spike offers his flask. It’s at this point that I realize that Spike has officially become part of the team, however reluctant an ally he is. It totally sucks at how everyone’s gonna treat him in the next season.

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When Glory finds Tara wandering onto the site, Willow comes in and performs the spell that helps Tara regain her memories. Glory starts feeling weak and needs a brain to eat. She finds Buffy standing and snarking at her.

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Buffy throws the Dagon Sphere at Glory, who crushes it in her hands. Buffy proceeds to kick Glory’s ass even as her minions pun about this being their day of glory  and the other Scoobies proceed to fight off the minions. Willow goes to check on Tara and the two of them have a beautiful exchange.

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I will always find you.

Who knew those words would be later used between Snow White and Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time? 

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Glory starts to get the upper hand and kicks Buffy’s head off. It’s at this point that we realize that the Buffy that Glory was fighting was actually the Buffybot. Then the real Buffy appears and hammers Glory Super Smash Bros style. (Incidentally, Clare Kramer has said that ” Did everybody else know the Slayer was a robot?” is her favorite line.)

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Dawn starts screaming for Buffy, so Buffy goes up the tower, with Glory following after her. I seriously love the fight scene in the tower because it’s different from all the other major fights in the series. It’s a a close-quarters brawl that really takes advantage of the tower setting, much like Hawkeye and Black Widow’s fight in Avengers. Unfortunately, Buffy and Glory get knocked off of the tower and Buffy loses her hammer.

"And the glorified bricklayer picks up a spare." He came in like a wrecking ball.

“And the glorified bricklayer picks up a spare.”
He came in like a wrecking ball.

Thankfully, Xander comes in with a wrecking ball that pummels Glory down.

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The Scoobies are cornered by Glory’s minions. Up on the tower, Dawn sees Doc, who once helped her acquire a magic spell in a previous episode. It turns out, however, that he’s one of Glory’s minions. Spike notices that someone is up there with Dawn. Willow communicates with Spike telepathically to go to Dawn and uses her magic to push Glory’s minions aside psychically. Spike confronts the Doc and the battle is unfortunately one-sided in the Doc’s favor. This is a usage of a trope called “The Worf Effect” in which a character who would usually have the upper hand in a situation is suddenly made weak for the sake of drama. Doc takes note that Spike doesn’t even have a soul and asks why the bleach blonde vampire even cares. To which Spike replies:

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“I made a promise to a lady.”

How can you say that Spike can’t love without a soul when you have something like that?! Seriously, it just proves my theory that the “soul” is just a lack of conscience and vampires are really just humans with majorly corrupted souls. Spike is selflessly putting himself out there to protect Dawn and all out of love for Dawn as well as for Buffy. Unfortunately, the Worf Effect gives Doc the upper hand and pushes Spike off the tower.

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Buffy hammers Glory so much that she reverts back to Ben. Buffy tells Ben to get out of town or else. Then Giles comes in.

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Take a note that Giles isn’t wearing his glasses. The show points out in an episode that Giles has a habit of taking off his glasses when he doesn’t want to actually acknowledge the reality in front of him. However, he chooses to put on his glasses as he smothers Ben and kills him.

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As the Doc cuts Dawn open, Buffy pushes Doc off the tower and Dawn starts bleeding, causing the portal to open. Dear God, I wish this didn’t happen. Glory is dead. Dawn’s blood shouldn’t have caused the portal to open. But it did anyway. Everyone braces for the end of the world.

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Dawn prepares to jump off the tower, but Buffy stops her. Dawn knows that she dies if she makes that jump, but the portal will only close with her blood. It’s at this moment that Buffy realizes that her blood and Dawn’s are the same and remembers what the First Slayer told her.

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As the sun rises, Buffy realizes what she needs to do. She turns to Dawn and tells her something we don’t get to hear until the end of the episode. She gives Dawn a loving kiss and runs to make a swan dive off the tower.

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Buffy’s death is shown as a struggle, followed by a sigh of relief as the magic of the portal kills her.

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Everyone gathers around Buffy’s dead body. We see Buffy with a look of peace on her face. Spike cries genuine tears over her death as do the rest of the Scoobies and everyone watching this episode.

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The last shot of the episode is of Buffy’s tombstone.

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Throughout this final scene, we hear Buffy’s last words to Dawn:

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Dawn listen to me. Listen. I love you. I’ll always love you. But this is the work I have to do. Tell Giles I… I figured it out. And I’m okay. Give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now — you have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.

Now this is where I dive into my own personal speculations with the show.

I never thought that death was Buffy’s gift. It’s the gift of every other Slayer, yes, but the show has gone out of its way to show that Buffy lived longer than every other Slayer because she had friends, family, and a semblance of a normal life. She had things to live for and her will to live outweighed the usual Slayer death wish.

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If you asked me what I thought Buffy’s real gift was, it’s love. It’s Buffy’s love that drives her to protect the world from evil. Buffy’s motivations throughout every single season were based on some kind of love, even if she was unaware of it. It was Buffy’s desire to live and accepting her role as the Slayer that gave her the upper hand in “Prophecy Girl.” Buffy loved Angel enough to let him go in the Season 2 finale, even though it crushed her. It was Buffy’s love for Angel that motivated her into fighting Faith. Once Angel’s life was saved, Buffy’s love for the world pushed her into taking down the Mayor in Graduation, Part Two. It was the combined love of the Scoobies that helped Buffy take down the Initiative in Season 4. Even though Buffy didn’t take down the Season 6 Big Bad, Xander’s love was a major factor in helping to save the world and Spike loved Buffy so much that he sought out his soul for her. In the Season 7 finale, it was Buffy’s love for the potentials that gave her the idea to share her powers with every girl in the world.

Buffy can’t ever be a normal girl but she can’t be a killing machine, either. It’s when Buffy embraces being a Slayer and being a normal girl that she is at her best. It’s Buffy’s love for Dawn that drives her to sacrifice herself, even if it has majorly bad consequences in the next season.

So yeah. As much as I’d love to fanfic the heck out of this episode and make it so that Buffy doesn’t have to die in the end, I still love “The Gift.” It shows everybody at their best and, in spite of Buffy’s death, still left me feeling hopeful.

Because Buffy was right. Life is hard. Just living day to day can be the hardest thing to do because we live in a broken world. And yet, through grace, we are given the gift to find the beauty within this broken world. Through grace, we are given the courage to try and make the world a better place.

Joshua 1:9 says “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed.”

Be brave. Live.

Screenshots are copyright to Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox and are used for editorial purposes only.

My Year In Photos: May

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May was a majorly awesome month for many things, but one thing stands out even now: Comicpalooza.

This picture will forever be my favorite picture from Comicpalooza. The only thing I regret was not holding my right arm high enough so the stake could really be seen in the picture. This is one of those pictures that is actually worth a thousand words. The last time I went to a convention was in college for anime-related cons. I went with friends, but only met two actors I liked, but didn’t love.

Comicpalooza blew every convention I ever went to out of the water. Not only did I meet my favorite actor, but also other actors from a show that still means more to me than words can ever say. After binge watching Buffy for 5 months, I was in a slump.  I had the same question that Dawn had in the series finale:

I didn’t want to read the comic books because I felt they didn’t fit what I wanted to happen after everything ended and Angel was too depressing for me to deal with. This convention was me getting out of that slump and remembering why I love Buffy so much: I felt like I was part of the Buffyverse and meeting James Marsters, Clare Kramer, Nicholas Brendon, James Leary, and George Hertzberg only made it all the more real. The catharsis I experienced when I started watching Buffy found completion upon meeting these actors.

I went to Comicpalooza with a friend who wanted to meet the Power Rangers actors and that was just as cool. I actually felt conflicted for a bit when I found out that the Buffy panel took place at the same time as the Power Rangers panel…but once I made my choice, I had no regrets.

It’s crazy to think that a year ago, I suffered from anxiety attacks. Keep in mind that I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I was in a building with tens of thousands of people and in a room with possibly hundreds, standing in line to ask a question for everyone to hear. My days of anxiety attacks were long gone and the only thing driving me nuts was me wondering if one of the actors was staring at me. (Three guesses as to who.)

I honestly can’t wait until I can go to another convention just to see these actors again because I can honestly say that being a part of the Buffy fandom was one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Comicpalooza. Nope, I Still Can’t Believe It!

So yesterday was awesome. As you can tell from the title, I went to a convention. It was the first time I’ve been to a con since college and the first time I went to a con as huge as Comicpalooza.

Cons are one of the few places where I can say it’s safe to talk to strangers. I wasn’t sure what line I was supposed to be in going in. The first thing I went to was the weapons check since I was cosplaying Buffy, stake and all. The people at the weapons check told me which line to go into. As I was in line for those who pre-registered, I talked to a guy who cosplayed as Indiana Jones. He was a con veteran and he gave me some advice about how to go about cons as huge as Comicpalooza.

After getting my pass (a red bracelet since I only paid for a one-day ticket), I went straight to the autograph area to get in line for one particular Buffy actor: James Marsters, the man who played Spike. I found one other Buffy cosplayer. Most of the people in Comicpalooza dressed as something Doctor Who related, Firefly, Doctor Horrible, Marvel…but not a single vampire to be found.

But who the heck wants a Spike cosplayer when I got to pretend to stake the real deal? I told him that I was going to the Buffy panel and he told me (and later everyone else at the Buffy panel) to ask him the most embarrassing question we can think of. There is a word for a man like that, but that word might make this blog NSFW! Just take my word for it, James Marsters is seriously self-assured.

After getting my picture taken with James Marsters, I convinced my friend to get a photo with one of his favorite actors. A good handful of actors from Power Rangers were there and my friend had my eye on one particular actor. Since I was Buffy, I basically told him “Seize the Day!” My friend did so and was forever grateful for my encouragement.

My friend and I headed straight to the Buffy Panel, taking some pictures along the way. It was so awesome seeing Xander, Glory, Clem, Adam, and Spike! I was bouncing and screaming and I was pretty sure I was embarrassing myself, but hey, I’m at a con! Where else can I get away with it?

I had two questions for the cast. I asked Nicholas Brendon if he knew about the schwarma line in Avengers and how that line was inspired by something he said on the set of Buffy. Nicholas said that he did hear about it and that he hasn’t watched Avengers yet. But apparently Robert Downey Jr stole the credit for coming up with the line.

My second question was for James Marsters. I asked him something along the lines of “So did you have to work to get into the character of Spike or did it just come naturally?” His answer was something along the lines of “A bit of both and it’s kind of embarrassing to think about it.” That’s right. I met the challenge he asked the entire audience! This bouncy, crazy, slightly autistic girl managed to embarrass her favorite celebrity in the best way possible!

After that, my friend and I debated on whether or not we should go to the Agents of SHIELD panel. The line was a mile long and we were getting hungry. I was basically set on just shopping in the Dealer’s Room for the rest of the day, so we went to get lunch. After lunch, my friend and I got drafted into playing Quidditch. I played the position of Beater. It was actually pretty fun even though I had no idea how to play.

I spent the rest of the con shopping in the Dealer’s Room and star-gazing at the celebrities in the autograph area. I got a gift for my brother and an art commission for myself. By the time I was ready to go home, I was lying down in a sitting area, exhausted in the best way possible.

So yeah. Conventions. Definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences! I highly recommend going and going all out! Cosplay! Meet your favorite celebs and get some seriously awesome merchandise.

Also, check out the highlights…