Buffy And so it ends. For teatime BBC2 viewers Buffy: The Vampire Slayer ran in high heels one final time. I've held off from talking about this final season until the last stake had been thrown into an Ubervamp's heart. Three episodes most weeks has been a lot to take in, characters and subplots passing by with much speed, episodes bleeding together, losing their individuality as the plot reached it's apocalyptic conclusion.
As the season opened the old magic seemed to have returned. Section of Season Six had felt utterly laboured as though the writers were swimming through tar trying to get from teaser to credits. In the first few episodes, the slick dissipated and there was a conscious return to the joy of the first season when everything was shiny and new. Xander was wisecracking, Willow was looking things up on her computer and Buffy's sense of fun had returned. Slapstick all over the walls.
Then the season plot kicked in and things began to go all floopy, the balance thrown asunder. Xander started making big speeches. Willow began to worry about her witchcraft and the burden of responsibility again weighed heavy on Buffy's shoulders. The obsession with Spike showed itself again, the premise of the show being stretched again as the VAMPIRE who had KILLED PEOPLE was kept alive because he was a main character who was popular. The fact that all the fun had left him seasons ago when he was neuter didn't matter. I'm not anti-Spike. He's a great character. I'm just anti-whattheydidtohim.
Then, suddenly a show which had always been at its strongest with the four main characters was suddenly over run with hundreds of them. We didn't know most of their names and neither did Buffy. I point was being made but it was creating diffusion. Purposefully, the only of these potentials to come to the fore was Kennedy, new girlfriend for Willow and oozing confidence. But she lacked a depth. Tara had depth. But she had room to develop. Kennedy didn't have room. She was being stifled by lots of pointless running around and getting angry. Giles and Buffy had to fall out. The cool principal was trying to give Spike the beating he probably deserved. The show began to look like its spin-off Angel for all the wrong reasons.
Balls were being dropped all over the place. Two utterly exciting opportunities for great stories, all of the spectres which had haunting Buffy in past seasons returning to create mischief at the high school and the whole population of Sunnydale leaving town were blown off in a couple of scenes. Story possibility after story possibility passed the writers by as they concentrated on endless, ponderous scenes between The First (this season's big bad) and whoever would listen.
But then, suddenly, like an alcoholic given a very strong cup of coffee, everything woke up. Neglected characters like Dawn and Anya were getting something to do. Willow disappeared to Angel and brought back Faith. The First's evil was given a manifestation in the form of Caleb the most tangible enemy since Glory if not quite as much fun. And as the final few episodes played out against the backdrop of a night or two. The show we loved returned.
The final episodes brought together the iconic elements which had made the show the joy to watch all these years. Xander was brave and funny. The old Willow unsure of her obvious abilities returned. Giles was imparting advise. And Buffy had a plan, a big stupid impossible plan that might just work. And they would all need to work together. Hell even Angel himself put in an appearance one last time to offer to help and help with the final solution and to renew the tension of the love triangle with Spike. This was like the old days and we loved it. All of the abrupt attempts to be nostalgic about the glories of the series past receded, enveloped in the glories of the present, until in the final moments the premise of the show shattered.
Buffy was no longer the one girl in all the world … there were thousands of them all wanting to make the world a better place. In the moments we saw all of these young women fulfill their potential as they fought back domestic violence and angry pitchers at baseball games, the epic, world changing nature of the series, missing so long, suddenly returned. There was life outside the sets the few sets the show's creators had been concentrating all these weeks and suddenly we were left with the nagging feeling that the show was finishing too soon, even after seven seasons. Suddenly so many new stories to tell, a whole new Hellmouth in Cleveland to explore.
Buffy. She saved the world. A lot. And we wish she was still doing it now.