Bye Bye Buffy

May 20, 2003

After seven years of mixing dramas and being surprisingly intelligent for a show called "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the series ends in haphazard, but an ultimately satisfying fashion. Since the show has always been about its characters, leaving the title character with what she most desires and provides closure. The finale is satisfying, although not up to the standards of other episodes written by series creator Joss Whedon.

As a whole, Buffy season 7 meandered. Although the season began with much early potential, it loses energy somewhere in the middle and never gains that back. The theme of the season is power. Buffy deals (as she always has) with the fact that she is burdened by power and no one else can understand. Willow deals with having power that she is afraid to use because she does know how to control that power. Xander and Dawn deal with not having power, but being surrounded by those who do. Anya deals with the remorse of abusing power, then runs out of arc. Giles deals with no longer having power (and apparently all the writers forgetting that he's there.)

The pacing of this season was odd, because nearly none of the episodes stand on their own. In the better seasons, the individual plots serve to move the characters from one place to another and advance the overall arc while standing alone with distinct plots. Very early on in this season, there are no more monsters of the week and the plot is more seamless. Episodes don't seem to conclude anything. (When watched on DVD, the pacing might work much better.)

Until Caleb appears, there is no compelling villain. Although Sunnydale's denizens finally find something scary enough to induce them to leave town, the First's growing influence happens entirely off screen. All that we see is Buffy giving speeches and Buffy giving more speeches. The story elements of this season are good, but added to the recipe in the wrong quantity. Too many speeches, too little character development for the core characters.

Why have the later seasons been weaker? Less Joss. As a script doctor, Whedon's learned how to tweak ideas and tighten up scripts. He knows pacing. But more importantly, the overall arc of the season is mainly his idea. Without its creator and best editor, the show didn't have the same consistency. Although the high points were probably higher in the later seasons ("Hush," "The Body," "Once More, With Feeling," "Selfless"), after Whedon spent time on Angel, the stories on Buddy aren't as consistently good as seasons 2 and 3. After Fox picked up Firefly last year, Joss devoted less of his time to season 7. It shows.

The finale itself was exactly what it needed to be (and fortunately not "A Very Special Buffy.") Although the deus ex machina seems forced, it enabled Whedon to give Buffy what she always wanted: to not be the single chosen one. Joss got to blow up something really big. The orc extras from Lord of the Rings got to use their costumes once more (with feeling). And, mention of Trogdor, the burninator. Trogdor!

grrr. arrgh.

Posted by Andrew Raff at May 20, 2003 10:46 PM
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im crying buffys over not fair why sarah why

Posted by: kelly yuen on June 9, 2003 5:36 PM

Trogdor was a man! ... um ... I mean he was a DRAGON MAN! ... er ... he was ... just a DRAGON! ... umm ... ... but he was still TROGDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR!!!

Posted by: Murray on June 13, 2003 1:02 PM