Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | November 25, 2013

Cordia’s Review S7, E05 – Selfless

Season 7, Episode 5
Original airing: 10/22/2002

My Rating: 68

The Good: It’s nice to see Anya’s backstory, finally. The episode did a good job of tying in what we know about her and twisting her from her original human character. She used to be selfless, but still literal and awkward. She was driven to a lot of her current characteristics by being a societal outcast.

I really liked how the flashbacks showed her tendency to define herself by her situation, instead of finding internal strength and understanding. It’s a sad state, but it feels true for her character.

Willow’s story was blended wonderfully with Anya’s. Having Willow on campus to spot Anya at the frat house worked really well. And I thought Willow approaching Anya at her apartment was a nice connection to Anya and Willow’s scenes in Same Time, Same Place (S7E3) where they had a bit of an understanding. It felt reasonable for Willow to try and help Anya first, before taking her knowledge to Buffy. Willow knows exactly what it’s like to be lost and out of control.

Buffy’s determination to kill Anya led to a great fight scene at the frat. It had a nice punch when Buffy stabbed Anya through the heart and I really liked when Xander tackled Buffy to keep her from doing it again.

D’Hoffryn’s scenes were some of my favorites. His characterization as a father figure to his vengeance demons was hammered home in his first two scenes. He invites Aud to join his “family” and he seems to drop his façade when Willow summons him. But his vile trick on Anya at the frat shows his true nature. He’s in it for the pain and nothing else. It was quite sad to see a happy, smiling Halfrek be suddenly sacrificed for Anya’s sins.

Finally, Spike’s scene was quite interesting. I’m quite curious if his white-clothed Buffy visitor is all in his head, from the Hellmouth, or related to the shape-shifting creature in Lessons (S7E1).

The Bad: I liked Willow’s black-eyed moment and her fearful reaction to it, but it felt marginalized when she turned around and cast a spell to summon D’Hoffryn. She just turned down using magic to help Buffy stop Anya because she indicated she was scared. Then she ran off to do a spell the second she was alone. I couldn’t tell if she was being deceitful in the vein of season six (ala Tabula Rasa S6E8) or if the writers just didn’t think that bit through.

I was disappointed in the final scene between Anya and Xander. Neither of them really came out and said what they needed to say. It felt unfinished and awkward.

Favorite Moment: I really enjoyed the reminder that Willow left England early. The small moment where she taps her magic to save herself and the college girl is all it takes for her personality change to come on. It shows she still has a lot of work to do on herself.

The Bottom Line: I enjoyed finally seeing Anya’s backstory. I thought the writers did a nice job of folding our current knowledge into the scenes and pointing out that Anya truly is a lost soul. But there was a spark missing from this episode that kept it from being great. I’m not sure exactly why I feel a bit flat and let down, but I’m guessing it has to do with my severe dislike of the final scene.



  1. I agree with absolutely everything Robin has to say about Anya’s backstory. I found myself shouting “YES! EXACTLY!” over and over as I listened. Very well said, Robin. Entertaining podcast over all.

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