Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Great Buffy Rewatch Archive

UPDATE: With the Buffy Rewatch over, I wanted to pull this archive post (which originally appeared in March) up to the top, for anyone who wanted a quick reference guide of where to find what episode, and also for anyone who is now finished and wanted to go back to see the spoiler posts. Quick word of caution: there's some Angel S5 talk in there, but it's mostly near the end.

At the behest of many people jumping in partway (and wanting to quickly catch up), here's your one-stop clickthrough guide to the Buffy Rewatch so far. I'll update this weekly so you can go back to any of the previous entries you may have missed. For first-time watchers, this will be a handy guide if you'd like to go back to the beginning when you're done and check out some of the spoilery comments on the other boards (or check out what I've been hiding under the invisible ink!).

For each week I'll provide the link to both the main post and the spoiler post (in some weeks, there's a large post on the spoiler board). An asterisk (*) indicates the names of the guest hosts for that week.

Week 1 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 1 Spoiler Post

1.1 Welcome to the Hellmouth
1.2 The Harvest
1.3 The Witch

Week 2 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 2 Spoiler Post

1.4 Teacher’s Pet
1.5 Never Kill a Boy on the First Date
1.6 The Pack
*David Lavery

Week 3 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 3 Spoiler Post

1.7 Angel
1.8 I Robot, You Jane
1.9 The Puppet Show
*Matthew Pateman

Week 4 Non-Spoiler Post, Part 1
Week 4 Non-Spoiler Post, Part 2
Week 4 Spoiler Post
1.10 Nightmares
1.11 Out of Mind, Out of Sight
1.12 Prophecy Girl
*David Kociemba, Jennifer Stuller

Week 5 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 5 Spoiler Post

2.1 When She Was Bad
2.2 Some Assembly Required
2.3 School Hard
*Becca Wilcott

Week 6 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 6 Spoiler Post

2.4 Inca Mummy Girl
2.5 Reptile Boy
2.6 Halloween
*Chris Lockett

Week 7 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 7 Spoiler Post

2.7 Lie to Me
2.8 The Dark Age
*Cynthea Masson

Week 8 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 8 Spoiler Post

2.9 What’s My Line? Part One
2.10 What’s My Line? Part Two
2.11 Ted
*Evan Munday

Week 9 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 9 Spoiler Post

2.12 Bad Eggs
2.13 Surprise
2.14 Innocence
*Tanya Cochran, Stacey Abbott

Week 10 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 10 Spoiler Post

2.15 Phases
2.16 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
2.17 Passion
*David Kociemba, Rhonda Wilcox, Janet Halfyard

Week 11 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 11 Spoiler Post

2.18 Killed By Death
2.19 I Only Have Eyes for You
2.20 Go Fish
*Ian Klein

Week 12 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 12 Spoiler Post

2.21 Becoming, Part One
2.22 Becoming, Part Two
*Nikki, Janet Halfyard

Week 13 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 13 Spoiler Post

3.1 Anne
3.2 Dead Man’s Party
3.3 Faith, Hope and Trick
*Cynthia Burkhead

Week 14 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 14 Spoiler Post

3.4 Beauty and the Beasts
3.5 Homecoming
3.6 Band Candy
*Jennifer Knoch

Week 15 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 15 Spoiler Post

3.7 Revelations
3.8 Lover’s Walk
3.9 The Wish
*Suzie Gardner, Stacey Abbott

Week 16 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 16 Spoiler Post

3.10 Amends
3.11 Gingerbread
3.12 Helpless
*Rob Wiersema, Janet Halfyard

Week 17 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 17 Spoiler Post

3.13 The Zeppo
3.14 Bad Girls
3.15 Consequences
*Ensley Guffey, Michael Holland

Week 18 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 18 Spoiler Post

3.16 Doppelgängland
3.17 Enemies
3.18 Earshot
*Suzie Gardner, Tanya Cochran

Week 19 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 19 Spoiler Post

3.19 Choices
3.20 The Prom
*Kristen Romanelli

Week 20 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 20 Spoiler Post

3.21 Graduation Day, Part One
3.22 Graduation Day, Part Two
*Jennifer Stuller, Janet Halfyard

Week 21 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 21 Spoiler Post

4.1 The Freshman
4.2 Living Conditions
4.3 The Harsh Light of Day

Week 22 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 22 Spoiler Post

4.4 Fear, Itself
4.5 Beer Bad
4.6 Wild at Heart
*Janet Halfyard
*Beer Bad Battle: David Lavery, Crissy Calhoun, Stacey May Fowles, Matthew Pateman, Evan Munday, Elizabeth Rambo, Cynthea Masson, Jennifer K. Stuller, Ensley Guffey, Dale Koontz, Kristen Romanelli, Ian Klein

Week 23 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 23 Spoiler Post

4.7 The Initiative
4.8 Pangs
4.9 Something Blue
*Michael Holland

Week 24 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 24 Spoiler Post

4.10 Hush
4.11 Doomed
4.12 A New Man
*Evan Munday

Week 25 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 25 Spoiler Post

4.13 The I in Team
4.14 Goodbye Iowa
4.15 This Year’s Girl
*Elizabeth Rambo, Lorna Jowett

Week 26 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 26 Spoiler Post

4.16 Who Are You?
4.17 Superstar
4.18 Where the Wild Things Are
*David Kociemba, Cynthea Masson, Tanya Cochran

Week 27 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 27 Spoiler Post

4.19 New Moon Rising
4.20 The Yoko Factor
4.21 Primeval
*Christopher Lockett

Week 28 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 28 Spoiler Post

4.22 Restless
*Matthew Pateman

Week 29 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 29 Spoiler Post

5.1 Buffy vs. Dracula
5.2 Real Me
5.3 The Replacement
*Cynthea Masson, Stacey Abbott

Week 30 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 30 Spoiler Post

5.4 Out of My Mind
5.5 No Place Like Home
5.6 Family
*Tanya Cochran

Week 31 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 31 Spoiler Post

5.7 Fool for Love
5.8 Shadow
5.9 Listening to Fear
*Rhonda Wilcox

Week 32 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 32 Spoiler Post

5.10 Into the Woods
5.11 Triangle
5.12 Checkpoint
*Bryan Curry, Lorna Jowett

Week 33 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 33 Spoiler Post

5.13 Blood Ties
5.14 Crush
5.15 I Was Made to Love You
*Kristen Romanelli, Tanya Cochran

Week 34 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 34 Spoiler Post

5.16 The Body
*Ensley Guffey and Dale Koontz-Guffey, Suzanne Kingshott

Week 35 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 35 Spoiler Post

5.17 Forever
5.18 Intervention
5.19 Tough Love
*Nikki Stafford and Nikki Fuller

Week 36 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 36 Spoiler Post

5.20 Spiral
5.21 The Weight of the World
5.22 The Gift
*Rob Wiersema, Tanya Cochran

Week 37 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 37 Spoiler Post

6.1 Bargaining, Part One
6.2 Bargaining, Part Two
6.3 After Life
*Elizabeth Rambo

Week 38 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 38 Spoiler Post

6.4 Flooded
6.5 Life Serial
6.6 All the Way
*Graham F. Scott

Week 39 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 39 Spoiler Post

6.7 Once More, With Feeling
*Janet Halfyard (analysis)
*Group singalong!:
Going Through the Motions (Nikki Stafford)
I’ve Got a Theory (Nikki Stafford’s family)
They Got the Mustard Out (Matthew Pateman)
I’ll Never Tell (Ensley Guffey and Dale Koontz-Guffey)
Parking Ticket (Rhonda Wilcox)
Rest in Peace (Cynthea Masson et al)
What You Feel (Nikki Stafford)
Standing in the Way (Robert Thompson)
Walk Through the Fire (Tony Burgess)
Life’s a Show (Nikki Stafford)
Where Do We Go From Here (Nikki Stafford’s action figures)

Week 40 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 40 Spoiler Post

6.8 Tabula Rasa
6.9 Smashed
6.10 Wrecked
*Dale Koontz-Guffey

Week 41 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 41 Spoiler Post

6.11 Gone
6.12 Doublemeat Palace
6.13 Dead Things
*Stacey May Fowles

Week 42 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 42 Spoiler Post

6.14 Older and Far Away
6.15 As You Were
6.16 Hell’s Bells
*Graham F. Scott, Lorna Jowett

Week 43 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 43 Spoiler Post

6.17 Normal Again
6.18 Entropy
6.19 Seeing Red
*Alyson Buckman, Cynthea Masson

Week 44 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 44 Spoiler Post

6.20 Villains
6.21 Two to Go
6.22 Grave
*Nikki and Robert Thompson

Week 45 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 45 Spoiler Post

7.1 Lessons
7.2 Beneath You
7.3 Same Time, Same Place
*Elizabeth Rambo

Week 46 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 46 Spoiler Post

7.4 Help
7.5 Selfless
7.6 Him
*Nikki Stafford

Week 47 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 47 Spoiler Post

7.7 Conversations with Dead People
7.8 Sleeper
7.9 Never Leave Me
*Crissy Calhoun

Week 48 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 48 Spoiler Post

7.10 Bring on the Night
7.11 Showtime
7.12 Potential
*Jennifer Stuller

Week 49 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 49 Spoiler Post

7.13 The Killer in Me
7.14 First Date
7.15 Get It Done
*Elizabeth Rambo

Week 50 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 50 Spoiler Post

7.16 Storyteller
7.17 Lies My Parents Told Me
7.18 Dirty Girls
*David Lavery, Lorna Jowett

Week 51 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 51 Spoiler Post

7.19 Empty Places
7.20 Touched
7.21 End of Days
*Cynthea Masson

Week 52 Non-Spoiler Post
Week 52 Spoiler Post

7.22 Chosen
*Nikki Stafford

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Great Buffy Rewatch: ChristinaB

And for our final post of the night, I saved this wonderful, heartfelt post from the last of our commenters who I'm pulling up on stage. ChristinaB only recently discovered Buffy and watched the series for the first time right before the rewatch began, so she followed along as someone who'd seen the show already, but was still new to Buffy fandom. We'd chatted a lot back and forth on Facebook, and then I finally met her face-to-face this past August at Fan Expo. I was at a booth, and suddenly I saw a flash of a Tom Baker multi-coloured wool scarf, and this woman appeared in front of me, dumped a bunch of knitted Daleks onto the table in front of me and said, "Your choice!" and I looked at her, recognized her instantly and said, "Christina!!" It was wonderful to put a voice to the face and name that I knew so well.

A couple of weeks ago she left a comment on one of my posts (where I was talking about extending the Buffy Rewatch into Angel S5) and it surprised and touched many of us, where she mentioned she'd been wary of fandom because of dealing with anxiety, but that through this Rewatch and the generosity of the people here, she's come out of her shell.

Well, not only has she come out of her shell by typing up her comments, but here she is in VIDEO (!) with an amazing poem she wrote. As I said to her, I've seen people try to sum up BtVS in 10 minutes or less, but I've never seen anyone actually accomplish it as well as she has. I hope you enjoy her summary as much as I did. Thank you, Christina!

And thank you to all of you. Here endeth the Rewatch.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Kristen Romanelli

A Haiku for Anya

Vengeance, money, love...
She falls swiftly in battle,
Centuries crumbled.

An abrupt poem for an abrupt death of someone who spoke... abruptly. ;)

Next up: The final post of the rewatch!

Great Buffy Rewatch: Lorna Jowett

This seriously made me laugh out loud (and I also had to look up the word "stotious").

Lorna Jowett

One thing I was always kind of glad about was that they never tried to do a Scot in Buffy. So when I lacked inspiration for the final Buffy Rewatch I thought of this…

If Giles were Scottish.
BUFFY: You don’t think it’s a good idea?
FAITH: It’s pretty radical, B.
GILES: Better no’ mess wi’ us, by the way - it’s pure dead brilliant!

If Xander were Scottish.
XANDER: Pairty n ma ee-socket n youse ur a’ invitit.

If Buffy were Scottish.
DAWN: Yeah, Buffy. What are we going to do now?
Buffy looks off into the future, a smile spreading across her face.
BUFFY: Get stotious.

Here’s tae us, Buffy fans, wha’s like us? Damn few, an’ they’re a’ deid!

Great Buffy Rewatch: Dale Koontz

(with apologies to Rhonda Wilcox for nicking the title of her book!)

It’s not going too far to say that Buffy changed my life. Really, it did – and no one was more surprised at that development than I was. Through a show that I at first resisted watching due to the silly title and ridiculous premise (I was a heathen back then), entire worlds have opened up to me. I’ve written blog posts, articles, chapters, and a book devoted to the creations of Joss Whedon and that all started with Buffy. I’ve talked about Whedon’s work in locations ranging from map-dot-small university towns to the metropolis of Istanbul. I’ve signed books and asked for autographs. I’ve met people whose intellect, kindness, and creativity could power the space station if you could figure out a way to harness it. Moreover, I met my husband through Buffy and for that alone, I should send Whedon a fruit basket.

In addition, through Buffy I’ve learned a few things. Among the lessons:

• Darkness can be fought, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll win. That’s why you fight in the first place.
• Family matters – and that family extends far beyond the one we’re born into.
• Courage is found on battlefields, but it can also be found in high school hallways.
• Libraries matter.
• We’re better off not knowing what other people think.
• Love is stronger than death.
• Souls are pesky things, but life without one isn’t really life.
• Humans can be worse than demons and better than angels.
• Everyone – always – is dealing with their own pain and that’s why sometimes they don’t notice yours.
• Sometimes, no matter how hard you try and how skilled you are, you lose.
• And sometimes, despite the odds and the prophecies, you win.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Nikki Fuller

An Ode to Anya

Whenever I think of “Chosen,” I see that final smile on Buffy’s face. It makes me smile. However, we die-hards know it doesn’t end there. I won’t spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t cracked open the comics yet, but the truth is we didn’t really have to say goodbye to our beloved Slayer, Giles, or the core Scoobies. We didn’t even have to say goodbye to Andrew. There’s only one character we really had to say goodbye to, and because there was no time to grieve for her in the final battle, I wanted to write about Anya. I think she was one of the strongest characters in the series, and she was amazingly well-written. While it may have seemed at first that she was a plug-in for killer one-liners after Cordy went to work for Angel Investigations, Anya had more depth than even Joss had imagined when he originally created her for a stand-alone episode. She bravely portrayed some key human struggles we all face from time to time: mortality and insecurity. She tapped into the very heart of the human condition and was not afraid to ask questions and express what was on her mind. She was bold, she was beautiful, and she was brave. Xander was proud of her in the end, and so are we. May you never look at bunnies in the same way!

Great Buffy Rewatch: David Kociemba

Understanding How “Chosen” Went Right When So Many Series Finales Go Horribly Wrong
David Kociemba, Emerson College

Jason Mittell’s influential article, “Narrative Complexity in Contemporary American Television,” suggests that the past two decades of television has seen a new approach arise: narrative complexity. This approach spans network hits (ranging from Seinfeld to LOST to West Wing to The X-Files), premium cable breakouts (The Wire, The Sopranos, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Battlestar: Galactica, Mad Men), and cult hits (Veronica Mars, Arrested Development, Firefly, Angel, and, of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) This shift was sparked by shrinking audience sizes sparking an appreciation for boutique audiences, DVD and download sales providing an economic incentive for Most Repeatable Programming, a talent influx of writers fleeing the empty-headed blockbuster-dominated film industry of the last 30 years, and the internet permitting audiences’ to work together to document and critique the narrative’s evolution, convolution, and involution. The spectacle that stuns the audience in TV is increasingly the narrative, as more narrative lines are more intricately woven together than the classical A-B storyline structure. A complex narrative series’ range of genres, rebellion against episodic conventionality, and evolving and deep ‘verse demands more out of its audience, who must not only be invested emotionally but analytically to fully understand the program.

So why do so many finales to these shows stink? Is there something about this narrative form that makes it more difficult to end these complex shows than, say, M*A*S*H? And does “Chosen” stick the dismount where others failed?

The classic example of a series being unable to rise to the narrative challenge posed by the long-form series is Battlestar: Galactica, which never had a plan, according to series re-creator Ronald D. Moore. The last half season provided a variety of disappointing dénouements, culminating in a finale that managed to combine moral ickiness, an incredibly underwhelming resolution to a central prophecy, wholesale betrayal of social psychology, and a late pair of smugly-delivered nonsensical revelations. Other examples of audience betrayal finales include Roseanne and St. Elsewhere.

Networks not understanding how narrative complexity works is another cause. The X-Files and Babylon 5 got unexpected extra seasons, which meant either stretching out mythology long past its expiration date or coming up with a season-long coda. Some aren’t given the chance to develop an audience, such as Firefly, My So-Called Life, and Wonderfalls. If an excellent finale isn’t aired, does it make a sound? Dollhouse clearly went into hyper-drive to cram everything in its last season, somewhat successfully albeit haunted by the what-if scenario of what the show could have been on a better network.

Sometimes, it’s the loss of a key artist. The only thing the last half-season of Twin Peaks did right was its surreal finale after network meddling caused David Lynch to petulantly abandon the show until the last episode. (That last line still haunts me.) The loss of Larry David’s guiding pathology doomed Seinfeld to repudiate everything we loved about its characters in its prosecution of them for violating Good Samaritan laws.

But schadenfreude is bad for the soul. Let’s think about how to successfully end a show built on narrative complexity.

LOST’s solution was to make one of the most heavily-promoted clip shows of all time. This was not an uncontroversial choice, as what surrounded the clips was not well received. Hopefully future series will learn not to have the protagonists blindly follow a god-like jerk who ruins the lives of children and lets a woman get run over by a car. The fact that its underwhelming final fight consists of a 37-year old man punching a 48 year-old man (as played by a 59 year-old actor) means that the flashbacks take center stage. Surprisingly, the clip show stirred viewer emotion so well that the genre’s appeal to memory might be a viable model for future TV series dabbling in narrative complexity. Think of LOST as the shipper’s solution to the problem of narrative complexity: an audience sobbing over Sun-Jin, Sawyer-Juliet, and Jack-Vincent will forgive a lot.

Another solution is insanity. That’s really the only way to describe the finale of The Prisoner (and several of its other episodes too.) Steeped in symbolism and theatricality, the finale crams more surrealism into one hour than had ever been aired on the networks. You thought LOST fans wanted answers? Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof didn’t need to leave the USA to escape irked viewers, unlike Patrick McGoohan after The Prisoner aired in the UK. McGoohan’s bravery in creating such a difficult, complex finale at a time before VCRs throws the gauntlet down to today’s producers and audiences. Could this be the path taken by Community? Or Mad Men, if it lasts until LSD becomes part of the cultural zeitgeist? If the show’s based on complex plotting, characterization, visuals, and symbolism, perhaps the finale should be the most difficult one of all.

Which brings us back to good, old Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Honestly, I was just hoping for a dignified death when I watched the seventh season finale in broadcast, because its acting and writing had been so uniformly bad. (Seriously, how do you get a bad performance out of Nathan Fillion?! “Conversations with Dead People” and “Storyteller” are really the only two good episodes, and it’s not a coincidence that they both depend on meta-narrative rather than originality for their excellence.)

Yet, Mutant Enemy came up with a stunning series finale that provides a great model for how to end a complex narrative. There’s a final battle that’s epic in scale and while still having a small enough scope for us to mourn the soldiers lost. There’s two layers of trickery complicating the war against the First Evil: Willow evens the odds, tucked away from the melee, and The Senior Partners from Another Network provide Spike with a handy amulet because they’re working on their own apocalypse, thank you very much. There’s something nice about the script doctor of Speed having the great escape portion of the final fight consist of the protagonist literally leaping onto the last bus out of town. When it comes to romance, both warring parties in the biggest shipping debate in the series have scenes to warm their hearts, while the writers carefully refuse to ruin the fun with closure. They fill a major hole in the Buffyverse, just a few episodes after finally revealing the origin story of the Slayer line. Willow’s spell shows there’s genuine divinity in the Buffyverse, as it references the Wiccan drawing down ritual that channels divinity directly into the supplicant. That’s a pretty nifty payoff after they got so much wrong about the religion. Best of all, the protagonists change the world rather than saving the status quo, which every blockbuster would tell you is sacrosanct. Who doesn’t cry at the montage of women and girls empowered? And that final shot that goes straight into the TV canon of image-making: that enigmatic expression on Gellar’s face, which suggests everything from “It is finished” to “We are not alone.”

What “Chosen” shows future creators is that a series ends best that doesn’t end at all. Characters grow and the world evolves even as the show dies, which means that it never really does.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Steve Halfyard

The wonderful Steve/Janet Halfyard is back to talk about the music of Buffy in "Chosen," after I asked her if she wanted to comment on that beautiful music that played when Buffy stood up after we thought she was done for.

I have been a very bad Rewatch contributor since the start of the summer (life caught up, alas) but the lovely Nikki is very forgiving! She sent me a message and wondered if I had any comments about the music we hear in the final fight scene in "Chosen". "I was rewatching it last week” she said, “and the scene where Buffy stands up after we think she's dying is amazing, and the music is unlike anything else I've heard on Buffy". Hmm, thought I. Unlikely to be new...if it's cropped up before, where would it be? And there was one really obvious place to look for it and that is the fight with the ubervamp at the end of "Showtime". Go have a listen sometime: after she has killed the ubervamp, as Buffy makes her speech to the Potentials, there is a slow theme low in the cellos, the first five notes of which are hopefully shown below if Nikki has worked her HTML magic.

Cut to "Chosen": as we flashback to Buffy telling the Potentials her plan to make them all Slayers, the same theme comes back, develops, transforms and continues in the underscore as we flashforward again and the final battle begins. We loose it when it looks like Buffy is going to die; but when she gets up and resumes the fight there is it again, gloriously triumphant. The reason it sounds new at this point is because of some fantastically film-music-ish orchestration, a grand old ultra-emotive trick in creating ideas of heroic powerwhere you have a steady, controlled melodic line against a furiously energetic, higher pitched accompaniment (Danny Elfman does it all the time in Batman, but he's not the only one): it juxtaposes something controlled and powerful against something that's making your heart race at the same time, and in this case the wonderfully Riverdancey feel of the accompaniment turns it into something joyful as well as powerful: we know they are going to win now. It only stops when Spike goes nuclear (oh, how I wept when I thought he was dead!) but we get the theme back (slower now, battle over) at the end when they get off the bus and look at the crater. Robert Duncan, scorer or the final series only, loves his film music borrowings: he uses lots of ideas and gestures from The Matrix and Lord of the Rings (well, Turok-han does rather obviously rhyme with Uruk-hai, if you see what I mean), and he poaches a motif from Gladiator for the Buffy/Spike relationship in the last few episodes, but that final battle orchestration of the Slayer Power theme is a little moment of musical genius, a final big theme to unite all the Slayers - note the way the camera does not focus on Buffy in the Riverdance bit, but cuts from one Slayer in action to the next - at the series' close.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Matthew Pateman

Great Buffy Rewatch: Colleen aka redeem

Another of the commenters who was loyal all the way through is Colleen aka redeem, who I first met probably over 10 years ago now as part of Buffy fandom, when we were in the same group, OBAVA (Ontario Buffy/Angel Viewers Association). Since then we see each other a couple of times a year and she's always delightful, as were her posts and comments throughout the year. I asked if she'd like to contribute something, and she said yes: a bit of fanfic!

After discovering Buffy I joined some message boards, but found I was having trouble expressing what I tried to say about the show. I found that if I put the points I wanted to make in the form of fiction, people seemed more receptive to what I was saying. While not new to fan fiction, Buffy inspired me to a whole new level of involvement and in one year I wrote a fic, or chapter of a fic, every day. Later in the series I discovered drabbles, and while they have a few different definitions, I prefer the one that states a drabble is a one hundred word story, no more, no less.

Though fan fiction I made some very close friendships, both with other writers and readers. In 2004 I was proud to be a committee member for the first Whedonverse fan fiction convention, Writercon, held in Las Vegas.

Nikki asked me to write a little something about the finale and I did it my favourite way, in the form of a drabble.

If anyone would like to read any of my other fan fiction, you can find it under redeem147 here.

Thank you for the rewatch Nikki. It's been a truly wonderful experience.

Colleen, waiting to see what Joss gives us next.

She almost couldn't believe it was over. Buffy knew things could have been so much worse. Her sister was safe. Her best friends, not only unscathed, but joking. Relieved. Happy. She had transportation and a bus full of newly-minted Slayers to carry the load. She looked out over the crater that had once been her home. The town had emptied before the devastation so very few lives were lost. But she thought about the sacrifices. So many young women. Amanda. Friends. Anya. More than friends. “Spike.” Yes, she thought, we can rest now. We can rest. And she smiled.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Rhonda Wilcox

When I threw out the idea for people to make a video or write an essay or a poem or even a haiku, the wonderful Rhonda Wilcox took me up on that last one. ;)

Like a Sneeze
By Rhonda Wilcox

By the crater a
Smile in the sun; our bus rides
With the Chosen ones.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Evan Munday

My only response to the end of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer is a short and ridiculous one: to one day hope they would make a Grosse Pointe Blank type movie, where Buffy Summers returns to Sunnydale High for a ten-year high school reunion. Though she's just there to meet up with Xander Harris again, she ends up having to slay a bunch of vampires and demons. And the reunion movie/episode would replace the songs of The English Beat and Violent Femmes with K's Choice, Rasputina and Nerfherder. As in this poster.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Elizabeth Rambo

Buffy Flashback

Since 2001 I’ve been co-moderator of a YahooGroup that started out discussing Buffy and Angel. With the ending of Buffy season 7, May 2003 saw the highest number of postings ever on that list. With minor editing for clarity, this is what I wrote the day after “Chosen” aired at SunnydaleU.

Wednesday May 21, 2003:
I'm posting this before I even try to read the 104 postings since last night, most of which seem to be replies to "Hated it, hated it, hated it." [People hated that Buffy & Spike didn’t end up happily ever after somehow, or that Anya died, or that Andrew survived, or…many, many things.]

I can just imagine. As for me, I was very pleased with "Chosen." Bittersweet that it's all ending, of course, but I came to the final episode with very few expectations, and I wasn't disappointed, mostly. I'd invited three of my friends--Gina & Donna, fellow English profs., and Donna's husband Peter, and Jacki, a history prof., to watch with me. We had dinner together before and talked about how we discovered the series, favorite characters, etc. They all started watching within the past two years, more or less by chance & got sucked in (the "whole big sucking thing" Buffy the Vampire Slayer effect that some of us are familiar with). It helped a lot to have friends to laugh with, sigh, discuss the fine points during the commercials. No one actually cried. They commented that the writing seemed snappier than almost any other episode this season--before I pointed out that Joss Whedon had written it.

Peter claimed to like Spike best, but Donna insisted that he really has a crush on Willow. Jacki, it turned out, was most distressed by Spike's disintegration. We're all sure he'll be returned to this dimension somehow, though--perhaps resurrected by Angel Investigations using info provided by Wolfram & Hart (similar to the spell used to bring back Darla, but hopefully not so dark), sent back as a reward by the Powers That Be, or by the power of the amulet--or by some other arcane method dreamed up by Whedon. It seemed to me a good ending, one he chose for himself, and I'm not sure I believe him when he says Buffy doesn't love him--he may be saying that to get her out. Telling the truth with lies, lying with the truth has been an interesting thread throughout this season.

In fact, almost everything the First Evil says is, in some way, a lie.

Other things I really liked about "Chosen":

Angel's petulance about Spike's soul and Buffy's involvement with Spike--"going all Dawson"--"What are you? Twelve?" She is so over him. They'll always have Paris, but she's her own woman. Yay!

Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz made the dorky cookie-dough metaphor work. Very typical of season 1-2 BtVS style--deep thought, goofy words.

Angel disappearing into the night with exactly the same turn as in “Graduation Day” 2. "I'm not getting any older" was nice touch.

Anya stroking Xander's hair in the kitchen--she so loves him--reinforcing my contention that their kitchen floor passion was not meaningless.

Buffy reaching out to Spike, reiterating his reaching out to her from 7.1"Lessons" and 7.20 "Touched"

Giles doesn't take off his glasses when Willow refers to her girlfriend's pierced tongue--evidently he's grown up a bit too.

Wood--"That's bleak" echoing Sweet, "That's gloomy." Taking Faith down a peg--just what she needs to keep her interested. Again--their encounter was not meaningless.

Loved Andrew, Giles, Xander, and Amanda playing D&D. Giles seemed to speak for Joss?--"I used to be a highly respected Watcher. Now I'm a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily." [Whedon made many comments in interviews that season about being tired. He was running three shows and wearing himself out.]

[Robin Wood’s ] "Welcome to Sunnydale High"--back to the beginning with a vengeance, both back to 7.1, and back to 1.1--very, very nice.

Absolutely beautiful: Scoobies "So, what do you want to do tomorrow?" discussion, leading up to Giles "The earth is definitely doomed" echoing the conclusion of 1.2 "The Harvest", Giles "The earth is doomed."

My one quibble: when the girls open the seal, how do they know ubervamps won't start popping right up immediately? If this was explained, I missed it both times I watched. I'm willing to let it pass, however.

Spike's hand flames--as in 3.8 "Lover's Walk"--and at last Buffy touches the fire and it doesn't freeze her. As I said above, I'm not sure that Spike doesn't believe her when she tells him she loves him. He wants her out of there. There are more ways than one to love someone.

Andrew tells his best story, one that's not quite all about him, about Anya--"She was incredible. She died saving my life." Xander's "That's my girl." is the important part of his response, not "Always doing the stupid thing." What does he mean, not what does he say? It's Xander--and although Xander's been known to make the heartfelt speech, it's just as typical for him to say something dumb because his real feelings are impossible to express. What was stupid? It's stupid that Anya's not alive, that's all. Compare Anya's speech about Joyce's death in "The Body."

And finally, one last echo from “Once More with Feeling,” "Where do we go from here?"

When I turned on FX this morning [FX ran daily Buffy reruns for several years] and found it was "Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest"--interrupting what had been season 4--I almost did cry. All that innocence. Then I picked up what might be one more echo from 7.22--Spike's "weird dream" in which he's "Drowning in footwear!"--possibly a little wave to Cordelia's greeting to Buffy: "I would kill to live in LA--that close to that many shoes!" Could this be prophetic? [It had already been announced that James Marsters would join the cast of Angel season 5.]

Great Buffy Rewatch: Marebabe

I wanted to include some voices from the commentators -- those readers who followed the Great Buffy Rewatch from beginning to end. One of my favourites was Marebabe, who was actually watching the series for the first time all the way through with us, and through whose eyes I was able to see many things for the first time again. Every week she gave us great posts (she was usually the first one up!) and so I asked if she might be interested in writing something for us. And happily, she was! Take it away, Marebabe!

My First Time
By Mary everything-reminds-me-of-something-else Evans

Thank you, Nikki, esteemed Buffy scholars, fellow n00bs, loyal minions of the Nikkiverse, and honored lurkers. *adjusting glasses, glancing at notes*

Back in November, I did sort of a marathon, zooming through the last dozen-or-so episodes of Buffy S7 and Angel S4, well ahead of our rewatch schedule, so that I could prepare my comments and “hand them in” to Nikki, giving her plenty of time to arrange and format everything for this huge finale event. It was only AFTER I’d watched “ Chosen ” for the first time that I discovered I really should’ve seen “Home” first, in order to make sense of the amulet and Angel’s trip to Sunnydale. I looked up the original broadcast dates and found that, back in 2003, fans got to see “Home” TWO WEEKS before “ Chosen ”. Oh, well. I soon got straightened out and became less confused.

I liked how Angel called the scythe “that real cool axe thing”. It’s fortunate that Buffy got the scythe when she did, because Caleb seemed totally unstoppable and unkillable. But then Buffy’s line, referring to dead Caleb, “He had to split” was SUCH a groaner in my book. I could see it coming, and I was actually wincing, thinking, “Don’t say it. Please, don’t say it.” That’s exactly the kind of punny, wink-wink line that Arnold Schwarzenegger was always saying in his 1980s action movies. It seems to me that lines like that should be followed by a Groucho Marx eyebrow-waggle. It just didn’t work for me in Buffy. A minor nitpick, but there it is.

Moving on. My theory is that Joss had Dawn kick Buffy in the shin and call her “Dumb-ass” in order to demonstrate to the Dawn-haters that they were correct to hate Dawn.

I loved EVERYTHING about the Dungeons & Dragons scene, even though I didn’t immediately know it was D&D. (I’ve never played it or even seen anyone play it.) And Giles is this week’s winner in the best line competition: “Could it possibly get uglier? I used to be a highly respected Watcher. Now I’m a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily.”

I like to think that this D&D scene was the inspiration for the Risk scene in LOST: “ Australia is the key to the whole game.” In both stories, they did a very elegant fake-out, making us think the characters were having a real-life strategic summit conference when they were actually just taking a game-break.

I know it served to ratchet up the dramatic tension, but I kept wondering why they waited so late – until the last possible second – to have Willow do the spell that turned all the Potentials into Slayers. Was that necessary, for some reason I missed? (Seems to me that it could’ve easily been done that morning, or even the night before.) The massive army of Orcs, er, Turok-han, was already charging at them before the spell was complete. (Shoot. I just noticed how similar Turok-han is to Uruk-hai. They’re really, REALLY similar.)

I think White Willow was one of the most beautiful images of the entire series. It was “nifty”.

Let’s talk about the awesome, powerful music in this finale. That beautiful piano theme I’ve been enjoying all season long on the “language selection” screen of my DVDs played ever so softly over the end of Buffy and Angel’s farewell scene in the cemetery, as he backed into the shadows. It was exquisite, and I was delighted. Then when Buffy was wounded and handed the scythe to Faith, saying, “Hold the line”, we heard the start of that great battle music, which has been playing on the menu screen for S7. It reminded me of some of Howard Shore ’s fabulous score for “The Lord of the Rings”, and that is high praise! I hope to hear more of Robert Duncan’s compositions in the future. I’m a fan.

I had heard that the series finale of Buffy was very divisive, that some fans absolutely HATED it. Before watching “ Chosen ”, I guessed that it had to do with some character deaths, or about the destruction of Sunnydale. (Yeah, that’s one of the major plot points that got spoiled ages ago.) My first time watching the finale, I failed to notice Willow running out of the school, and until the moment when everyone exited the bus, I thought maybe Willow had died. Wouldn’t THAT have sent the fans into an enraged snit, complete with torches and pitchforks, tar and feathers!

Regarding Spike’s heroic death, I used to think that only latter-day fans like myself would’ve been spoiled about it, because of Angel cast pictures that included Spike, and because Nikki’s book has a picture of Angel and Spike on the cover. So I knew that, no matter what happened to Spike in the Buffy finale, he was going to eventually show up in Los Angeles . THEN I learned that the stupid WB suits ruined it for everyone by loudly announcing that Spike was moving over to Angel in the next season. I’m sure it was an extremely rare first-run Buffy fan who went into the finale completely unspoiled about Spike’s fate. But can you IMAGINE the impact of seeing Spike disintegrate/burn up, believing that his death was final?! That would’ve been such a powerful, emotional moment, and the network boneheads robbed everyone of that. I am offended on behalf of all you first-run fans!

The Mutant Enemy monster looked out into the audience, as if in a farewell salute. That was very nice. “See ya, Monster!”

At the end of my first viewing of “ Chosen ”, I was pleased to realize that I could now listen to Joss Whedon’s commentary on it. Nothing is off limits now! There’s no more getting spoiled on anything in Buffy seasons 1-7. And eventually, after a break (Nikki isn’t the only one who wants/needs a break), it will be fun to listen to the DVD commentaries and watch all the Special Features. But the thing I’m most looking forward to is reading all of the spoilery comments that y’all have made this past year. When I do my own private rewatch, those comments will be most enlightening.

Here’s an afterthought, one we can file under Things That Don’t Matter Anymore. Back when we were discussing “Get It Done”, I mentioned how burying dead Potentials in the backyard could really backfire. No worries. ALL of Sunnydale’s backyards were completely obliterated when Sunnydale became a gaping crater.

This week in Angel news, we have Lilah as the mysterious and very surprising “messenger”. So, was she Ghost Lilah? Reanimated Lilah? Or (my favorite), Nearly Headless Lilah? Thankfully, Tim Minear knew the fans would be scratching their heads over that one, and he addressed it with full writerly authority in the episode commentary. She’s not “back from the dead”. She’s just “back”. Good, I’m glad we got that cleared up. :/

Technically, I shouldn’t have listened to the commentary on “Home”. There’s a whole ‘nother season of Angel to go! (Duh.) The freedom I was feeling about having open access to all things Buffy accidentally spilled over into the Angel corner of my brain. So, it was an Oops! on my part. But fortunately, there were no shocking revelations about S5. Just a few things I had mostly figured out on my own.

Fred: “We ended a nefarious global domination scheme. Not world peace. [long beat] Right?”

The snappy chorus of “Good morning, Mr. Angel” at Wolfram & Hart reminded me very much of “Trading Places”. Remember at Duke & Duke? First we had, “Good morning, Mr. Winthorp”, and later, “Mr. Valentine”. (I love the classics!)

This was the moment. With the appearance of the shiny amulet and the file on Sunnydale, I realized that I was watching these final episodes in the wrong order.

I liked that Wesley tried to release Lilah from her Standard Perpetuity Clause. A very convincing sign that he really, truly loved her. (I was dead wrong, several weeks ago, when I theorized that Wesley was only getting close to Lilah because he was a spy, after secret info or forbidden access.) And Lilah was so right: “It means something that you tried.”

I’m left with several questions at the end of Angel S4. First, what was the meaning of Gunn’s encounter with the beautiful black panther? (Then I said to myself, said I: “Whoa! Back in his gang days, was he a Black Panther?!”) The episode commentary was most informative. Tim Minear said, without spoiling, that more interesting stuff happened to Gunn on his tour of W&H, which we haven’t seen yet. We’ll find out about it in S5. Also, about the big, black kitty, they originally wanted a regular spotted leopard, but none were available. So they thought a black cat would look cool in the all-white room. And it most certainly did! (Didn’tcha love its great big FEET?) There was nothing political about it, however. Gunn was never a Black Panther.

Why did Connor decide to become a terrorist/hostage-taker? Was it despair over losing Jasmine? I mean, was that the last straw that finally pushed him over the edge?

Here’s another choice item from the commentary: Charisma Carpenter had just given birth, but she agreed to come in and lie on the floor for the scene in the sporting goods store. I knew she was pregnant, but not THAT pregnant!

What exactly happened in that white-flashy moment between Angel and Connor? It sure LOOKED like the fulfillment of the prophecy, “The father will kill the son.” According to the commentary, Angel struck a deal with Lilah, and there’s “some sort of blood magic going on.” OK. That’s sufficiently vague.

Seeing happy, well-adjusted, family-oriented, college-bound Connor at the end reminded me of the sideways world on LOST. That is to say, I did not understand it one bit. So, I relied on my fallback strategy: just go with it. Ours is not to question supernatural wheeling and dealing.

Fred’s exit line was a doozy: “Who’s Connor?” Hoooowee! I’ll bet that made a lot of fans mad! This was first shown the year before LOST came along to teach us the true meaning of freaky and mysterious.

Well, I’d better wrap this up. I hope x infinity that I will continue to see all of you lovely people around Nik at Niteland. I will certainly be here. And if you’re on Facebook, do look me up! I’ve already connected with many of you on Facebook, and we’re having such fun! My email address is

Grrr! Argh! ~ M

Great Buffy Rewatch: Stacey Abbott

‘Chosen’ – Goodbye to Buffy
Stacey Abbott

I am a professional film snob. I have been a film buff all my life and began studying film when I started college in Montreal when I was 17. I have been studying and teaching film ever since. My undergraduate degree in Film Studies at Concordia University taught film, all film popular and art-cinema, as a form of Fine Art. I have been trained to see film as second to none. As a result, while I have always watched TV, I never really took television seriously. I watched loads of silly action series while growing up, and loved Star Trek more then any other show but that was my inner geek speaking – or so I thought. Like every good film student in 1991, I stopped and basked in the brilliance of Twin Peaks but that was ok because it was made by a film director, David Lynch. So when I heard that the film of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was being made into a television series, I was bemused and dubious. I watched because I was writing my PhD thesis on vampire films so it seemed necessary. I didn’t think it would amount to much more then an interesting footnote – how wrong could I be? It was this little show with a rather silly name, adapted from an unsuccessful teen-horror-comedy, that taught me that television could not only be equal to film but in some ways could exceed film as a narrative and art form. That is not to say that television is better then film but simply that there are certain things that can only really be done in television.

Buffy taught me not to judge a series on one or two episodes, or even an entire season, but to let a show unfold and slowly reveal its secrets and complexities. It taught me that sometimes you need to earn those wonderful dramatic revelations or disturbing moments, like Angel losing his soul after sleeping with Buffy or Angelus murdering Jenny and leaving her body for Giles to find. The horror of these moments is so overwhelming because we have the spent time watching these characters grow, watching their relationships develop, and learning to love them so we feel the loss almost as poignantly as Buffy and Giles.

Buffy taught me that within the narrative drive of commercial television and despite the budget and production constraints that are unavoidable when making twenty-two episodes of television a year, there was space for some of the most audacious experiments in style and narrative. It showed that audiences who become invested in a series and its characters will be more than willing to accept playful experiments like the fairy-tale silence of ‘Hush’, the narrative poetry of ‘Conversations with the Dead’, or the dream logic of ‘Restless’. While it might be fair to say that Twin Peaks paved the way for Buffy, it is equally fair to say that we would not have had Lost, Supernatural, or Fringe without Buffy.

Buffy taught me that television could be multi-layered, complicated and wonderful to discuss and analyse. The textual analysis skills I learned as a film student were put to the test with Buffy, a show that continues to invite analysis (as evidenced by this Rewatch).

Buffy taught me that in the darkest of moments, there is a space of tenderness – Tara sharing her own experiences of bereavement when Buffy loses her Mom in ‘The Body’ – and humour – Angel and Spike’s school boy jealousy in ‘Chosen’ (I love, love, love, Spike’s drawing of Angel pinned to his punching bag).

The season finale for a show like Buffy was always going to be a tall order and it has its weaknesses – the special effects in the final battle especially. It is, however, an immensely satisfying, if open, conclusion (at least until the comics) to the story of the Slayer. The series that begins with the narrative voice over explaining the Slayer myth ends with the rewriting of that myth by turning all potential into slayers, showing the epic narrative vision that encapsulates the series (and who doesn’t feel a surge of power when all of the potentials are activated – especially the girl at bat – what a wonderfully knowing smile she gives). The finale begins with humour – Spike and Angel – includes anguish – Anya’s death – and warmth – Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles sharing a moment together before launching into battle – and concludes with hope – Buffy’s smile. In effect, it brings together the best the series had to offer and leaves you wanting more.

Buffy taught me to love and appreciate television, and to take it seriously. I began writing about television after Buffy completed its fourth season and I wrote my first Buffy article for Slayage. Since that moment, I haven’t stopped writing about television (Angel, Firefly, Alias, Lost, Supernatural, True Blood).

Thank you Buffy.

Great Buffy Rewatch: Buffy Book Club

As promised, today will be a day of our Great Buffy Rewatch contributors (and a few new faces!) talking about "Chosen," Buffy the Vampire Slayer in general, and/or the Rewatch itself. To start things off, I wanted to pay tribute to the many authors we had involved in the yearlong Rewatch by discussing the Buffy-centric books that many of them wrote (see below for links to most of them). So here is a VERY long video... you can zip ahead to see if I cover your book. (I think my voice actually goes out of synch at one point, but I haven't watched it back all the way through...) Enjoy! And please stay tuned to this blog, for throughout the day, every hour on the hour (the last one will go live at 10pm!), we'll have another post from someone talking about our favourite Slayer.

Bite Me! The Unofficial Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Edition
by Nikki Stafford

Once Bitten: An Unofficial Guide to the World of Angel
by Nikki Stafford

Investigating Firefly and Serenity: Science Fiction on the Frontier
Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and Tanya R. Cochran

Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Edited by Rhonda V. Wilcox and David Lavery

Why Buffy Matters: The Art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
by Rhonda Wilcox

The Aesthetics of Culture in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
by Matthew Pateman

Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology
by Jennifer K. Stuller

Sex and the Slayer: A Gender Studies Primer for the Buffy Fan
Lorna Jowett

Buffy Goes Dark: Essays on the Final Two Seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Television
Edited by Lynne Y. Edwards, Elizabeth L. Rambo and James B. South

Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon
by K. Dale Koontz

Inside Joss's Dollhouse: From Alpha to Rossum
Edited by Jane Espenson

Joss Whedon: Conversations
Edited by David Lavery and Cynthia Burkhead

Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Edited by Paul Attinello, Janet K. Halfyard and Vanessa Knights

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 52: THE END

7.22 Chosen

Follow along in Bite Me!

And if you’re watching Angel, this week’s episode is the season 4 finale, “Home.” Follow along in Once Bitten.

And with the Sunnydale sign finally giving up and falling over for the last time, and Buffy smiling the most sincere, genuine, and relieved smile she’s ever given… our romps with the Scoobies come to an end. (Well, in live-action form, anyway.)

Now, I’m going to be up front about something in this episode, and I know a LOT of people will disagree with me. But I really hate the cookie dough speech. As I said in Bite Me!, it came off like Joss trying too hard to be cute. “See, I’m cookie dough…” Ugh. Even the memory of it irks me. And I hear Buffy fans quote that all the time, or even just roll with the metaphor. “Well, maybe you’re not done baking yet!” I can live with it, though, because there’s just too much else to love about this episode.

The ongoing friction between Angel and Spike is one of the key ones. From Angel calling Spike “Captain Peroxide” to Spike punching a bag that has a caricature of Angel drawn on it, the little bitchy asides from these two about the other are always hilarious. (In the commentary, Joss admits that he drew the picture of Angel and that a crew member saw it and said, “Why does he hate Butthead?” HAHA!!)

I also love the D&D game, and the idea that in the face of impending doom where these people are going to stride into the fight of their lives, they’re still not above role-playing games where you just pretend to stride into the fight of your life. In fact, if you think about it, they probably welcome RPGs because it’s nice to imagine that the apocalypse is just fantasy. But for them, it’s not. (Note that Andrew is wearing Buffy’s red riding hood outfit from “Fear Itself.”)

I love the roundtable scene in the school where the gang all talks about what they’ll do after they avert the Apocalypse. Giles’s comment, “The earth is definitely doomed” is a continuation of his “The earth is doomed” comment that he made way back in the second part of the show’s pilot. Joss wanted this season to go back to the beginning, and so much in this episode does.

Of course, there are the things in there I didn't like the first time, and no matter how much I can explain them in my head or try to reason with the plot, my heart still doesn't like it. Like Anya's death. I know it's meant to be shocking and we see what happens in the heat of battle -- sometimes there is no time for mourning, and people just die. But I think it's Xander's flip response, and the fact he's joking about the Sunnydale mall afterwards, that has always bothered me. Yes, this is Xander covering up, and we can assume he'll go off and mourn somewhere else, but if this weren't the final episode, we would have watched him crumple and then sit in a basement with a bottle of something strong, thinking of everything he might have done to change things. He wouldn't have been joking about Toys R Us.

And to put you in the context of May 20, 2003, the date of the actual finale, the WB did the really cruel and dumbass thing of issuing a press release about one week before the finale, announcing that a certain star of Buffy was going to be joining the cast of Angel in its fifth season. Joss Whedon was immediately on the warpath, but he waited until after the finale to announce how angry and upset he was that they couldn't have waited one week, because by knowing this character was coming back, it rendered his death in this finale almost meaningless. I had a finale party that night, and the room was filled with fans, and it was interesting to look around the room at the end of the episode and see the faces. To a person, those who had read the press release were dry-eyed and thought the episode was okay. Those who knew nothing about the press release were bawling and declaring it one of the best endings of all time. Stupid WB.

And so, I write the next part as if I didn't know what was happening next, because within the context of Joss's arc, Angel notwithstanding, it was beautifully done.

“Chosen” isn’t my favourite Buffy episode, and doesn’t come close to being my favourite television series finale, but I like it a lot. It’s epic, and brings so many stories full circle:
• Willow began by dabbling in magicks and soon became a powerful witch, but when she let the magicks take her over she was no longer a help to her friends she was a serious danger, and now she lives with a constant terror that she will be the one who will doom all of them.
• Buffy has resisted being the Chosen One from the beginning of the series, seeing her mantle as a curse rather than as a gift. She’s died, she’s been brought back, she’s faced things no one has had to face, and no matter how many times she saves the world, she’s not thanked by anyone, and is just expected to do it again and again. It’s the most thankless of thankless tasks, and it keeps getting bigger. She runs on no sleep, and when she does sleep her rest is filled with nightmares. She’s unable to have a relationship with a “normal” guy, but the undead guys are both dangerous and fill her with guilt and remorse that she’s in bed with the dark side. She is the first Slayer to be completely surrounded by friends, yet she’s always alone. Way back in “Prophecy Girl” she discovered that her destiny was to die, and that death would simply signal the next girl to step up in her place.
• Spike came on the scene as the Big Bad in S2, the stronger of the Sid & Nancy co-dependent vampires, but soon was usurped in power by Drusilla when we realized he was almost powerless around her. He had a soft spot from the get-go, and was unlike the other vampires. Angel was cursed with a soul – Spike never seemed to have lost his. He was turned by Drusilla, and remained true and loyal to her always. And when she finally walked out on him after 120 years of dating, he realized he was in love with Buffy, something that filled him with more self-loathing than Buffy’s feelings for Spike did her. When he gave in to those feelings, he realized he might be dead, but perhaps this undead existence holds more in it for him if he stops pretending to be the Big Bad and actually embraces the softer side within him. But Buffy refused to let the relationship continue, and he was lost. Ultimately, we saw that Buffy means more to him than anyone ever has, and when it comes down to the final, total end of the world, he will still fight by her side.

With these three key stories as the ones most in need of resolution, “Chosen” weaves them all together into one beautiful ending: Willow finds a greater power within herself that can perform powerful magicks for good, and in doing so she empowers women around the world to no longer be Potentials, but Actuals. Slayers everywhere are born, and at the moment where Willow no longer lives in fear of her power and stops being a wallflower and becomes the goddess, Buffy is no longer alone. And moments later, Spike proves himself to be the worthiest of friends when he channels the sunlight through his amulet and immolates himself in the process. With Buffy holding his hand and saying she loves him, he looks at her and says, “No you don’t, but thanks for saying so.” She smiles a smile of agreement and leaves. And yet, in that moment I really do believe she loves him. Maybe not in a lusty, throwdown, passionate kind of way, but a much deeper, richer, appreciative way.

So I see all of these stories coming to a wonderful close. Now, there’s been a lot of criticism of the idea that all of the Slayers would be empowered. For one, Buffy and all Slayers before her were logged by the Watcher’s Council, and the moment they were imbued with the power they had Watchers standing by to tell them exactly how to use it. They had their calling explained to them, and rather than live with the confusion of “what the hell is happening to me,” or worse, the danger of seriously hurting someone with this new power (what’s to stop a girl from accidentally killing a bully at school, or a younger sibling?) they had someone there to guide them through it and train them. These girls will no longer have training available to them. So in many ways, the idea of all girls being empowered is more attractive than the actual execution of it.

And so that’s what I’ve always gone with: the idea. I love the idea that Buffy was a show that was about women being empowered. At the time, it was a strange thing to see this young girl with powers on television. Women (well, most women, not Xena…) were damsels in distress, supposed to be saved by male superheroes. Even female superheroes (including Xena) could be one-upped by men who had to save them. But not Buffy. She was more powerful than anyone or anything. She could always rise to the top. It wasn’t always pretty, and she had a lot of Dark Knight–type issues to deal with, but she did what she had to do. And since Buffy I’ve noticed how much stronger and more powerful women seem to be in popular culture. Not just superhero strong, but mentally, emotionally, strong.

We see a montage of women becoming strong, but imagine that in a broader sense, of the television landscape changing as Buffy’s voiceover happens.

“From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer…”

Kate Austen strides into the woods and refuses to listen to Jack telling her to stay behind. She lets the men chase after her (Jack = Angel; Sawyer = Spike) and she won’t choose one, but keeps her options open. In the end, she doesn’t allow her life to be controlled by the men, but makes her own decision.

“…will be a Slayer.”

Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights is a strong, independently minded woman who fiercely loves her husband and family and will do anything she can to maintain order within her household and throughout her friends, but even her husband can find himself on the wrong side of Tami if he pushes too hard.

“Every girl who could have the power…”

Skyler on Breaking Bad

“…will have the power...”

Gemma on Sons of Anarchy (no really, do NOT mess with her)…

“…can stand up…”

Zoe on Firefly

“…will stand up…”

Margaret on Boardwalk Empire


Laura Roslin on Battlestar Galactica

“…every one of us…”

Donna on Doctor Who

“Make your choice…”

Kima on The Wire

“Are you ready to be strong?”

Yes. Women have always been ready to be strong, and the television landscape was utterly changed because of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, if you think about it too hard you’ll realize the dangers of activating a bunch of unwitting women, but the idea that Joss was trying to get across – that women everywhere are powerful and strong and capable and they just need to be given the opportunities to show these things – was far more important.

Buffy changed television. It changed lives, regardless of how corny that sounds. It changed my life, and because of Buffy I have become a discerning viewer of television. It’s made me demand far more of the storytelling that TV shows offer. It’s made me love television. Believe it or not, before Buffy I really didn’t watch much television. (No, really, it’s true.) I watched Xena and The Simpsons and King of the Hill and reruns of Roseanne and that’s about it. Going through university, my main distraction was movies. I watched half a dozen films a week, and I wasn’t in the film studies program. And then Buffy came along and showed me what television was truly capable of. And since then I’ve seen so many shows that are vastly superior to anything in the movie theatres, shows that have stretched my imagination, introduced me to new ideas, and have given me characters that I’ve completely fallen in love with.

I spent six years writing about Lost, and through my blog and books probably published over a million words on the subject. And yet despite my deep love for that show, Buffy will always be #1 in my heart.

And now, because of this Rewatch, I hope I’ve demonstrated to the newcomers exactly why that is. Thank you to everyone who has watched and commented along the way, and who have contributed to make this Rewatch what it is.

I have so many thank-yous to give out, and many of those will happen tomorrow when I roll out a lot of final words from many of our longstanding contributors and even a few new ones. I can’t thank the following people enough:

Cynthea Masson
Tanya Cochran
Rhonda Wilcox
Lorna Jowett
Steve Halfyard
Michael Holland
Alyson Buckman
Matthew Pateman
Elizabeth Rambo
David Kociemba
Ensley F. Guffey
Dale Koontz-Guffey
Kristen Romanelli
Evan Munday
Cynthia Burkhead
Stacey Abbott
Jennifer K. Stuller
Chris Lockett
Nikki Fuller
David Lavery
Graham F. Scott
Stacey May Fowles
Bryan Curry
Robert Thompson
Tony Burgess
Suzie Gardner
Ian Klein
Becca Wilcott
Crissy Calhoun
Jen Knoch
Rob Wiersema

Thank you for giving us your time, for showing us Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a new and exciting ways, making the Rewatch valuable not just for the new viewers, but for those of us who have watched it again and again. I’ve written two books on the subject, and I learned so many things from those of you who contributed.

Thank you to everyone who tuned in week after week, who contributed their own comments and who made all of us know we were doing this for a reason, who gave positive feedback to the guest hosts and who stuck with us all the way through, offering your insight and allowing US to see the show with your eyes.

It really seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago that I called the first person on my contributor list and said, “What do you think of this idea?” I figured I ran a Lost Rewatch in 2009 and it was a lot of work, but if I had a bunch of other people running this with me, it would be a breeze. I was wrong. In the Lost Rewatch, I only wrote a paragraph or so per episode, but I not only had three episodes per post to comment on, I wanted to offer something different than my guests. So this Rewatch turned out to be a big undertaking, and I’m REALLY looking forward to getting several hours of my weeks back (wow, think of all the new shows I’ll watch!) and yet I can’t help but think, “Hm, what rewatch could I take on next?”

The thing is, if I do another one, it’ll probably be alone. And it’s not because I didn’t enjoy doing it this way – like Buffy, I knew I really couldn’t do this alone, and instead called upon all the other tough Slayage kids I knew who stepped up and helped me. But it’s because I don’t think there’s another show on television, now or before, that has this kind of scholarship backing it up, that has an academic conference devoted to it with so many people who come back again and again. I LOVE going to Slayage (it’s in Vancouver in 2012 and I hope to see some of you first-timers there!) so I can talk about my favourite show with so many brilliant people. I’ve met some people who have become very close friends, and I’m so thrilled to have been asked to come to it back in 2008.

As I’ll mention again tomorrow (watch for my Buffy Book Club video!) there’s an award given out at Slayage called the Mr. Pointy, given to the best book and the best article in the Whedonverse. I am THRILLED to have had on this Rewatch so many people who not only qualify, but who have been nominated and have won. And many of them will be nominated again. I’m so blessed to have had so many of these fine academics join me.

But I’m also thrilled to have had so many non-academic writers join me on this, with both novellists and companion guide writers like myself, and bloggers and journalists, coming on here to talk about the show with as much insight as those who give university lectures.

I had several reasons for doing this Rewatch:
1) I wanted to rewatch Buffy myself
2) I wanted to introduce Buffy to all of you who have watched Lost along with me and who have heard me going on and on about the superiority of Joss Whedon
3) I wanted to show my pop culture savvy readers that pop culture academia is neither dry nor stuffy, and is in fact exciting and fun to read
4) I wanted to show that bloggers and non-academic writers could go toe to toe with the academics, and together we could form a large conversation from many walks of life, various voices, different points of view and differing opinions

It took a show like Buffy to make those last two things happen. Buffy ended in 2003 and the discussion now is as dynamic as it ever was; more so, in fact. I hope the Great Buffy Rewatch of 2011 contributed to that discussion and brought it back to life, and introduced it in just the right way to so many of you new viewers. Thank you to whoever it was early on who suggested we offer a spoiler forum away from the new viewers; it was an inspired suggestion, and one that has kept people from finding out things that are going to happen, while still allowing us seasoned viewers to discuss those upcoming episodes in light of what we were watching.

Thank you to all of you. This has been an extraordinary task and I owe all of that to the guest contributors and to everyone out there reading along with all of us. Please do check out the books written by the contributors (again, watch my video tomorrow for some recommendations!) and keep talking about Buffy. Just think: maybe YOU can introduce someone to this fabulous show.

So, Buffy… what are we gonna do now?