Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | November 25, 2013

Robin’s Review S7, E05 – Selfless

Synopsis: Anya grants a humiliated girls wish and slaughters a whole Frat house. Willow discovers the bodies and Buffy decides to kill Anya despite Xander’s protests. Willow talks to D’Hoffryn who steps in to offer Anya a choice. In flashback we see Anya becoming a Vengeance Demon, revelling in her work and then singing of her love for being Xander’s wife.

The Good: The main plot was very strong. The Frat house slaughter was suitably horrific to bring Anya’s story to the conclusion it’s been calling for since she became a demon again.

I really liked the way Willow stepped in and was able to access her power but can’t stop the dark behaviour that accompanies it. It frames her struggle nicely and forced her to seek another way to help. Her intervention was especially relevant given how her recent behaviour mirrors Anya’s.

The argument that Buffy and Xander had was another strong moment. If you are going to talk about life or death morality than Angel and Spike were always likely to come up in the discussion and Buffy had good answers to Xander’s questions. However it was cathartic to hear him point out the obvious, that Buffy doesn’t like Anya nearly as much as Willow, Spike or Angel and so to some extent was likely to cut her less slack.

The initial burst of the fight scene between Anya and Buffy was excellent. Intensely staged and fast paced it led up to Anya getting stabbed very nicely. I’m not a fan of the “oh didn’t you know this particular demon could survive that” moment. However I thought once D’Hoffryn showed up the story got back on track. Anya’s conscience forces her to ask for her actions to be taken back. And despite his polite demeanour D’Hoffryn reveals himself to be the evil pimp he really is and kills Halfrek to punish Anya and then casts her out.

The Bad: I thought the flashbacks were terrible. The old school film effects used to show us Anya’s human life were beneath the standards the show has set itself. The endless references to the fate of Anya and Olaf were annoying and contributed to poor sketch-comedy-style dialogue that made her turn to vengeance seem like a joke. Similar but less dramatic problems plagued the other flashbacks including an uninspiring song that makes you even happier that Joss Whedon spent so long on “Once More with Feeling.”

I wasn’t happy with the idea that Anya had always been very literal. It always came across as her adaption to human life after being a demon for so long. To present her as having been a medieval pedant made it clear to me that they’ve never really given Anya’s character more than a seconds thought. And really that’s the point of the story they create for her. She has always latched onto the thing in front of her; be it Olaf, Vengeance of Xander and defined herself in relation to that. That’s not a character description it’s an acknowledgement of failure by the writers who shoved her into Cordelia’s shoes without giving her more to work with.

The Unknown: I guess now the question is will we see Anya much? Will she work toward becoming someone? Will the writers actually focus on that? Will we care?

Finally Buffy discovers that Willow didn’t say “Kick his ass” in “Becoming.” Will that actually be followed up or was it just a nod toward the hardcore fans?

Buffy tells Spike to leave the basement but where does she think he should go?

Best Moment: The fight between Buffy and Anya was very well staged and dramatic.

The Bottom Line: The writers did well in the present and badly in the past.




  1. I agree with absolutely everything you’ve said and written regarding this episode. Great review and podcast.

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