Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 4, 2013

Cordia’s Review: S5, E22 – The Gift

The Gift
Season 5, Episode 22
Original airing: May 22, 2001

My Rating: 72

The Good: I appreciated a lot about the tension and mindsets in this episode among the Scoobies.

Buffy’s exploration of her life over the course of season five comes to a head here when she makes the gut-wrenching decision to save her little sister from certain death by sacrificing herself. But it is also explored in her determination to save Dawn before the portal is opened. She’s so committed to it that she threatens to kill even Giles if he tries to harm Dawn. She’s so committed to it that she asks Spike to kill Giles if he tries to harm Dawn. That’s pretty intense. But she really caps it off by saying that if Dawn is killed, Buffy will quit being the Slayer. The consequences are laid out very plainly here.

Giles was also fascinating to follow in this episode. Having him and Buffy at odds over what will need to be done was incredibly uncomfortable and sad, but really displayed the dynamic nature of their relationship. After the fight, they lay it out again and understand each other’s positions in a painful way. Giles’ speech to Ben also really details the special person Buffy is and the sacrifices he is willing to make to protect what innocence she has left. She can’t kill someone she sees as an innocent, but Giles will do what is necessary. I found it particularly powerful that he chooses to literally kill Ben with his bare hands, which is not only silent, but also extremely personal.

Willow gets some front and center focus as well. I liked Buffy’s acknowledgement of Willow’s distraction about Tara. She’s more focused on regaining Tara’s sanity than anything else. But it’s also a nice bit of a nod to the belief that the world will not end. So there’s support for Buffy in there too.

But the best side story, in my opinion, was Anya and Xander’s engagement. It was sweet and unexpected and a nice moment of hope amongst a rather hopeless situation.

The Bad: My main complaint is about Doc. I found it frustrating for him to reappear with apparently no harm from a sword through the belly (S5E21) and no explanation for it, either. He’s also able to quite easily over power Spike when Xander was able to beat Doc last episode. And then Buffy just strong arms him off the tower at the end like he’s no big thing. He has a creepy nature to him, but everything else is completely inconsistent and makes him seem pointless.

But I was also disappointed in my lack of reaction to anything Ben or Glory did. I think the threat level has not been built terribly well this season, so I never had any fear of Glory succeeding in her goal. And that definitely lowered the tension in the episode.

The Unknown: My big question at the end of the episode is what happened to the dragon? And the weird society of white aliens that took over that frat house?

Favorite Moment: As a Buffy and Spike fan, I really appreciate the scene in Buffy’s house where they just honestly and maturely lay out their expectations of each other.

The Bottom Line: This was a powerful episode with an awful lot going on. I really liked how this ended the season and everyone’s emotional roads. But the lack of consequence surrounding Glory’s story definitely kept me from getting really tied up until Buffy died at the end. Then I bawled.

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