Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | October 5, 2013

Robin’s Review S6, E22 – Grave

Synopsis: Giles temporarily contains Willow and catches up with Buffy. Willow uses Anya to break free and sends a ball of fire after Andrew and Jonathan. Buffy races after it while Willow drains Giles of the power he’s using. It gives Willow such a connection to the world that she can’t bear to feel all the pain and decides to destroy the world. The fire ball sends Buffy and Dawn into the ground while Xander races to stop Willow.

The Good: I thought Willow and Xander played their moment really well. It didn’t feel like an organic culmination of her story but it was still quite moving. Xander panicked and proposed to Anya during the last apocalypse and now he is the saviour. The use of his friendship with Willow to stop her was cheesy at first glance. But really the affection of the Scoobies has always been what kept Buffy motivated so why shouldn’t it save the world?

Dawn and Buffy’s stories reached decent conclusions too. Buffy fully comes out of her depression by realising that her familial love for Dawn has helped her regain a thirst for life. While Dawn is finally acknowledged as being capable and trustworthy when demons approach. Buffy crawls out of a grave to bring the season full circle but this time with someone.

The Bad: This was the most contrived and least interesting of the apocalyptic battles we’ve seen. Giles came back just to play “exposition man.” Seriously. He explained everything that was going on both before and after his own involvement (because magic is such a wonderful thing he was able to ‘stay in touch’ with events somehow). Willow sends a ball of fire at Jonathan and Andrew which inexplicably misses them. So it was magical enough to track them but when zooming in for the kill it can miss? Willow’s decision to destroy the world came so quickly that it had no impact at all. She drags a temple out of the ground to symbolise how the writers pulled this plot out of thin air.

The Unknown: I wasn’t a fan of Giles and then Buffy cackling about the travails of Sunnydale in recent months. It seemed to play on that “Normal Again” spirit that if you explained all the plots to someone they would sound ridiculous. But really I don’t see how broken weddings, shop lifting or sleeping with Spike are that laughable.

The writers pushed way too hard to misdirect us as to Spike’s intentions. There’s no way he would keep using phrases like “give her what she deserves” or “what’s coming to her” in an angry tone when he meant that he would get his soul back. It’s obviously a dramatic, fascinating and impactful decision. But beyond the sense of surprise this was a slightly irritating way to present it.

I don’t blame Jonathan for fleeing once Buffy had fallen down a hole. But it doesn’t exactly fit with his determination to accept the consequences of his actions. I wonder if the shot of the two of them being driven away is goodbye or just au revoir.

Best Moment: Willow being broken by Xander’s love.

The Bottom Line: This was the most disappointing season finale ever. It was far more flimsy than Adam’s story and I remain convinced that “Wrecked” is the most damaging episode of Buffy ever made. It abruptly ended the story of Willow’s power trip and turned it into a far less interesting story of withdrawal. If the issue of how magic corrupted her personality had been explored then the last three episodes might have been dramatic. Instead everyone jumped through hoops to explain how magic worked and it quickly became clear that no one, Willow included, was going to suffer any real consequences.

It leaves Season 6 in quite a similar position to Season 5. Both had strong stories for Buffy herself but served her friends less well (Spike excepted, again). Season 6 was less consistent; it had more highs and more lows. It’s a shame because the build up to “Once More with Feeling” was the strongest the show has been since Season 3.

53/100

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