Monday, March 28, 2005

The End of Buffy

This past weekend my girlfriend and I had plans to go out and do something fun. I work the night shift at a local NPR station, and for the past few months I've been working six nights a week (Monday through Saturday), as well as going to school part-time in the day. Usually Sunday afternoon is the only time we have together, and unfortunately this is also the only time I have to recover from the previous week. This past Saturday was the first I've had off in a long time, and we planned on spending it...well we had no concrete plans (though my girlfriend was leaning towards karaoke), but we knew we wanted to get out of the apartment. Due to some harrowing events involving my mother which I won't bore you with here (but which you can find on my livejournal page), we missed our chance. We didn't get home until about 8:30 pm, at which point our exhaustion left only enough energy to celebrate our day's good deeds by ordering in, proudly cheating on our low-carb diet, and watching the last two discs of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Seven DVD collection. Remember, as I wrote in a previous post, I jumped on the Buffy bandwagon quite late. I'm not including this post in the "Pleasant Surprises for A Latecomer" series because it wasn't much of a pleasant surprise.

Had I not known beforehand that this was the final season, I think I would have figured it out pretty quick. The light-hearted humor that helped define Buffy is all but gone, and seems contrived when it is present, replaced with an overpowering sense of finality. I think Whedon and co. took a big risk here, and in the end I don't think it worked. Take Season Five for example. Most of the season delivers the usual humor and introspection, with the occasional trip to a much darker place (e.g., "The Body"). It isn't until the last three or four episodes that things get persistently dark and perilous, and those last few shows combine to form one single work that's short enough to not exhaust the audience but long enough to give it the emotional weight it needs. Take those three or four episodes and stretch them into an entire season, and you have Season Seven of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

It seemed like a lot the creative team's ideas were exhausted. Rather than come up with some new concepts, they fell back on oldies, like the musical interlude in "Selfless" taken directly from the previous season's "Once More, With Feeling." "Lies My Parents Told Me" seemed like a direct swipe of Season Five's "Fool For Love," not because both featured part of Spike's origin story, but because Buffy's last words to Principal Wood ("The mission is what matters") echoes the quote from the flashback in the beginning of the episode just as the line "You're Beneath Me," worked in "Fool For Love." Even "Storyteller," admittedly one of the few humorous breaks in Season Seven and one of my favorite episodes of the season, was really-in many respects-a repeat of Season Four's "Superstar."

It certainly wasn't horrible. It was okay. It was watchable. It simply wasn't the high caliber of most of the other seasons.

Unfortunately, as to the questions of who lived and who died, there were no real surprises for me. I happened to stop by a Buffy/Angel message board a while back, and checked out the FAQ. Despite the fact that the FAQ is geared towards newcomers to the shows, the author of the FAQ gives away MAJOR plot points (the deaths of Tara and Anya, the death and subsequent resurrection of Spike, the fact that Dawn is "The Key"). On a related note, I should also express thanks to the folks who put together the packaging for Season Seven, which features a picture of Xander in his eyepatch.

I was glad to see Andrew survived, though I already had a vague idea about that from someone who had mentioned that he had appeared in an episode of Angel after Buffy ended.

I was surprised, though, at the brutality of Anya's death. As I mentioned above, I knew she was on the hit list, and she's a good choice considering she wasn't around as long the original Scoobies, but around long enough to be more of a favorite than Principal Wood or Andrew. I guess I expected some kind of emotional last words or something equally cheesy and predictable. Bravo to Whedon for not giving me what I predicted, I guess having her left behind in a pile of rubble and bodies seemed a little too brutal.

And maybe it's a minor quibble, maybe not, but what the hell was the point of leaving the non-super guys in the school so the vampires wouldn't "escape?" Escape? Where? Into the bright California SUNLIGHT? I don't know, maybe I missed something.

No comments: