Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 4, 2013

Podcast #102: The Gift

Here’s the podcast for Season 5, Episode 22 – The Gift

Buffy chooses to die

Buffy chooses to die

Download: The Gift

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 11th March 2013 with feedback on “The Gift” and Season 5 in general.

Comment on this post to get your views on the podcast.

You can get your voice on the podcast by leaving a message on our voicemail 206-338-7832 (It’s a US number, so add 001 if you are elsewhere).

You can email an audio clip to thetvcritic@gmail.com

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Responses

  1. I really didn’t think I was going to get more comments in on “The Gift” because I’m currently in the grips of midterms at college but I got more work done then I was excepting today so here are my semi-coherent thoughts:

    Some final thoughts on “The Gift” I think I mentioned in my voicemail but it bears repeating that while Becoming overall is probably a technically better episode the final ten minutes of “The Gift” (except Doc’s end) elevate this finale over season two’s, it is such a wonderful encompassing of what the show is and who Buffy is as a person. While I’m sure Buffy’s final words will be discussed a lot it is just one of this best “this what the show is about” quotes, it’s may be my favorite quote in a show that is full of quotable moments.

    Moving in to season 5 in general, one of the biggest surprises of this Rewatch is how well Spike is constructed and how much I’m enjoying him as a character. When I first watched the show I loved Spike in season two and three but when he became a regular it kind of ruined the character for me. At this point he is the second most interesting character on the show for me, next to Buffy, they have done a wonderful job of keeping him have a hard edge and still do “good” things. There is always going to be an element of Spike’s story that bothers me because it was created to keep on the show and not planned for awhile like Buffy’s death obviously was given the dreams with Faith. I really hope they keep the solid portrayal of Spike up because I don’t have fond memories of the last two seasons considering Spike (or anything). Right now Spike is neck and neck with Faith for Rewatch’s Most Improved, because she was a character who I didn’t particularly like and now has become on my favorite characters definitely in the top 5.

    On the flip side I was always felt a disconnect with Willow as a character after season 4 and it hasn’t been since Rewatch that I have figured out why. It’s not a matter of the cast being too bloated Dawn is only one more character than usual number of series regulars (Anya and Spike fill Cordelia and Angel’s spots). Willow is just pushed to the background. I don’t think Xander is pushed to the background in quite the same way. He’s given a story arc in The Replacement and the rest of the season he fills that role. i easily imagine his life with Anya and Anya’s life with him, they are pushed more into the background then I think they would be if Dawn wasn’t introduced but I don’t think it is a glaring issue like Willow’s shelving is. After Willow chooses to be with Tara that is the last time we see the character struggle with something on her own. It’s not until the awful “Blood Ties” that Willow gets a story and its that horrible awkward fight with Tara. For almost all of season five I have no idea what Willow is doing if she isn’t on screen besides magic stuff. All we really get is mentions that she is becoming more and more powerful. We also rarely see Tara and Willow together alone and it’s really hard for me to imagine their life together the same way I can imagine Xander and Anya’s from e snippets we see them.

    I have two theories for why Wlllow is so marginalized. The first is the fact that the network didn’t want to rock the boat too much with showing Willow and Tara together. I’ve heard both Alyson and Amber state in interviews that they had to fight to get the kiss in “The Body” and they wanted to be more affectionate on screen and the network was against it. I just feel like life stops for Willow and Tara when they aren’t on screen.

    The second more likely theory (in that it is true) is that a large portion of Willow’s story was scrapped for the season. I have read (and I’m fairly certain its on the DVD commentary) that after Tara was brain sucked Willow was supposed to fall to the dark side and it was supposed to her not Doc that bleeds Dawn and this idea was scrapped. This would have been such a stronger finale and end of the season for me (if done correctly). Willow would have had more screen time given that she’d be a second big bad and make Tara’s brain suck that much more impactful. Sure the problem of Willow would be absent for the majority of the season with only those mentions of her power growing still but she’d arrive in a very big way towards the end. It like Angel turning into Angelus, there were hints of how awful Angelus early on in the season but once he turns it is nothing like we have been prepared for at all. Willow turning evil would have also probably made the sort of meandering episodes leading up to “The Gift” nonexistant because there would be Evil Willow to deal with.

    I actually read the original post it’s over on the BuffyWiki for “The Gift” there’s spoilers for the whole series so I won’t post the link but Xander was also supposed to be Glory’s other half according to that post and Anya was supposed to be killed in the final battle of “The Gift” as well.

    • I’m not sure the entry of The Gift on Buffy Wiki is accurate, because they also say that the original script ending had Dawn jumping into the portal and sacrificing herself, but that makes no sense with all of the Faith dream foreshadowing, because there is an allusion to Buffy’s death. I so wish there had been a DVD commentary on this episode!

      • Yeah I’m beginning to think its not just because some of what it says is too crazy to be true though I do think its interesting to think what would happen if Dark Willow was in the season.

  2. I swear this in my last post on “The Gift”…. maybe… probably not. But I found this on tumblr and I thought it was worth sharing. http://thecomfortador.tumblr.com/post/37866479665/gifygoodness-i-should-have-known-that-wouldnt

  3. I’m reposting this Movie version trailer of Season 5 here….well because its awesome!

    • These trailers are so well done. This makes the season look as exciting as it should have been if all the episodes had measured up to The Body and The Gift. Even the snake thing is in there for a second and looks cool. And what a classic choice for the ending. Love it!

  4. Clearly Season 5 is going to garner a lot of comparisons to Season 2. While I think the more personal Big Bad of Angelus works a lot better than Glory. I still felt like Season 5 had better “filler episodes” than season 2. Also Season 5 had a feeling that this was the collimation of the series as a whole leading up to Buffy’s death. You can stop watching after Season 5 and it still be a satisfying, albeit sad, ending.

    I was looking at Robin’s scores of both season 2 & 5 and they’re pretty close. Most of the season float around the same score which just shows that its a well written show. I had a more emotional connection with the stand out episodes this season than Cordia and Robin (Fool for Love, The Body, and the Gift) and would rate them higher as such. So really I’m blabbing on a bit to say Buffy is a great show and I love Season 5 and Season 2. The end.

    Oh also Angelus did a lot of waiting around like Glory. *cough*

  5. Prior to listening to your podcast I had certainly found season 5 to be one of the better ones. I was surprised at how critical you have been but I can’t fault your arguments. I think a lot depends upon how you watch it.

    I only started watching Buffy relatively recently. I haven’t had a TV for years and I normally only watch films but I needed something to occupy me before night shifts. I saw Buffy on Netflix and thought that will fill quite a few hours of inactivity. I would watch a huge batch in one go once a week. It’s very different from watching a single episode and then really pouring over it to judge it’s strengths and weaknesses. I just drifted through the seasons, generally feeling more positive about the show. I got a bit fed up with it during season 4 but I definitely became very wrapped up in season 5 – to such an extent that even after a night shift I carried on watching. I was far too sleep deprived to be a critical viewer but I was very emotionally engaged.

    I think there is something about this season that made me care a lot more about Buffy – I’m not completely sure what. This is the first season where she acts more as an adult and tries to define herself as a person by finding out more about her ‘heritage’ as a slayer. I liked the fascinating ideas thrown up by Fool for Love that all slayers eventually exhaust themselves in the constant killing and can’t help but wish for their own deaths. I love your idea that by sacrificing herself in The Gift, Buffy was able to avoid this and meet death on her own terms. Certainly her sacrifice adds to the emotional resonance of the season.

    Joyce’s death in this season was something that I connected with very personally and I found The Body a harrowing but quite amazing episode of television. Although since I haven’t watched any other television since about 2000, I may not be in a position to compare very well.

    My other theory, and this isn’t one I’m proud of, is that my enthusiasm for the season started when Spike ripped his shirt off at the end of Out of My Mind. To be fair, and slightly rational, Spike’s story line through the season was one of its better points. Fool for Love stands out as a great episode and his development from wanting Buffy dead to being a trusted ally was slow enough to be believable. There’s such an interesting balance between the evil and the human that only a show with a supernatural thread like Buffy can examine. I know there were several points where it would have made sense for Buffy to kill him but…..sorry I’m going back to the shirt ripping off scene again…..rationality failing….

    But there are lots of flaws in the season that were more apparent when watching one a week and some of which I had more of a problem with than others. Glory dropping out of the storyline was something that didn’t bother me as much as it did you. I mostly just accepted it as part of TV artifice but I agree it could have been improved. Tara’s development isn’t fantastic either but again it didn’t seem that important to me, although we would have been more upset by her being brain sucked if were cared about her more.

    Ben’s character particularly irked me when re-watching it. There were lots of logical inconsistencies and his acting wasn’t great. And the Knights of Byzantium were a complete waste of space.

    Sorry, this is a lot of waffle and still no point in sight so please do edit as much as you like. I feel I’m coming to the irrational conclusion that the season was pretty flawed but I still love it. It’s funny that now I’ve finished Buffy I’m finding it difficult to replace. I’ve watched the first few episodes of both Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I think they are both really good while I’m watching them but I’m just not so engaged and I’ve dropped them both.

    There is something about Buffy that makes fans love it rather than just like it. It does feel a bit like Fool for Love, The Body and The Gift make a kind of holy trinity and us true believers will just try to fit all the rest of Buffy into our doctrine that’s is the best thing on TV. Please do carry on trying to make us see sense, it’s a hard job but you’re the guys for it.

  6. I watched “The weight of the world” and “The Gift” in a row and I was a bit irritated by the beginning (and the previous-scenes) of the episode..first I thought I accidently had chosen the “Special Features” chapter on my DVD 😉

    Although I watched it several times I forgot a lot: I forgot how good this episode was and I really enjoyed watching it. I totally forgot that in this episode Xander asks Anya to marry him. And I totally forgot that the doc plays a role in this episode, too… I guess that’s because I tend to watch a season in a row and I can’t remember exactly in which episode certain things take place

    The Gift is a very emotional episode. I particularly liked how Buffy’s speech to Dawn was heard as a voice over as Buffy sacrificed herself. I think my favourite scene is when Buffy decides to jump and Dawn realizing it. Her facial expressions are great. When I first watched this episode I always thought Buffy would land in some hell dimension where Willow could bring her back again. I was quite shocked when we see Buffy dead at the end and the gravestone and thought “what will they do in the next season?!”

    The Bad:
    They had the dagon sphere and the hammer nearly all season but didn’t think about using them before? Doesn’t anyone notice Glory’s tower? Since when was Olaf a troll ‘god’? Why didn’t real Buffy go and rescue Dawn, while the Buffy bot was keeping Glory occupied?

    Some Trivia:
    Joss Whedon originally planned this episode to be the series finale at the beginning of season five. He knew he was going to kill off both Joyce and Buffy and didn’t know how the Dawn character would be received. Midway through the season he received an offer to move the show to the UPN network. Whedon decided that there was still a lot of things he could do with the show and accepted the offer.

    On the DVD Joss says the mission statement of this episode or the whole show was “Buffy’s just a girl or just wants to be normal girl”. And he wanted this episode to start with a generic scene where she kills a vampire.

    It was rumoured that this episode was going to be a two-hour television event called “Centenary” and to feature almost every single character from previous seasons including the entire Angel cast.

    Earlier in the season, it was rumored that the entire town of Sunnydale would be sucked into the Hellmouth in the finale. Although it has never been completely confirmed, Joss had another plan for the season. The original idea was to have Anya die in the rubble, Xander be Glory’s other half (instead of Ben), Willow was going to become evil and join forces with Glory, and Dawn was to be bled by Evil Willow in the end, and Sunnydale was supposed to be completely destroyed by the Hellmouth.

    In third season finale episode, Faith says, to Buffy, “Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0.” 730 is the number of days until the end of Season 5, when Buffy dies.

  7. Hey there! I am a long time listener, first time commenter (I have always wanted to say that :-). First, let me say that you guys do a GREAT job and I really look forward to listening every week.

    I got into Buffy on DVD back in 2009, based on the recommendation of a friend. When the show was actually on the air, I didn’t really follow it so I was suprised by everything that took place.

    The Gift was a great episode. I loved seeing Willow step up and take charge. She really showed how powerful she has become in the witchcraft. The whole end scene still takes my breath away. Buffy’s monologue as the background for her friends’ reactions to her death still guts me-especially Spike. I wonder what people who actually watched the episode live thought. If I remember correctly, this was the last Buffy episode on the WB and no one was sure if they were coming back. I think her death was supposed to provide closure in case the show didn’t get picked up on CW.

    Speaking of emotional episodes, I have to share my experience with The Body. As I said before everything was a surprise so when the “I Was Made to Love You” episode ended OF COURSE I had to tune in to the next episode-I couldn’t believe Joyce was dead. I should have thought it through. Immeditaely after watching I had to go to my son’s school for a conference. I am sure the school thought I was CRAZY. I had just spent 42 minutes ugly snot crying so my face was all blotchy and my eyes were red. There were several times during the conference (which was just your average here’s what we are working on in 3rd grade type thing) where I got really choked up. Just thinking about Dawn’s silent, emotional response…I have only been able to watch the episode once since. Even listening to your podcast on the episode got me all choked up.

    Looking forward to hearing your summation of Season 5 and I can’t wait for Season 6!

    Noelle

  8. Alright whedonesque just shared this and I had to put it up on here. It’s the Buffy theme in reverse. Take a listen!


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