Buffy the Vampire Slayer - End of Days

Summary

The bomb explodes sending Faith and the girls flying. Caleb catches up with Buffy and she pulls the weapon from the stone, stunning him. He tries to take it from her, but FE tells him to let her go. She says Buffy won't attack him now, her friends are in trouble. She says he can get her when her back is turned. It's not clear whether Buffy can actually see and hear FE at this point, she looks quizzically at Caleb as he talks to her. The girls are trying to regroup. Some were killed, some badly wounded, Faith is one of those. The girls pick her up and hear a growling, an ubervamp. They try to run for it. They come to a debris barrier and clamber over it. Just as they get over, an ubervamp appears. Kennedy has them form a circle and says they can take it.

At the house, Andrew has gotten groceries from an abandoned store. Giles is thrilled at the Jaffa cakes. Willow, Anya, Xander, and Dawn return from having looked for and not found Buffy. They just found the empty house she had gone to. Giles tells them Faith and the girls have not yet returned. Andrew says he's been staying at the house keeping up morale. More ubervamps appear and the girls try to fight them. One of them grabs Kennedy, Buffy arrives. The weapon is effective against the ubervamps. She slays them and tells the girls they have to get out.

The house has turned into a MASH unit. Buffy tells them she took the weapon from Caleb and hopes it might help. Amanda says she thinks they got punished. They explain they followed Faith and bad things happened. Buffy says it was a trap, it could have happened to her. They ask if she's back and if there's a plan. She tells them to get ready and goes upstairs. Amanda still thinks they got punished. Buffy finds the others gathered round Faith who is unconscious but breathing normally.

The gang gather to examine the weapon. Buffy just thinks it's a scythe and knows Caleb backed off. Giles thinks it is ingenious. Buffy senses its strength when she holds it and knows it belongs to her. Giles says it's ancient and mystical. He can't understand how he doesn't know about it. Buffy says the good guys aren't good at communicating. He wonders whether it is something in addition to a weapon. Buffy wants them to find out everything they can about it and Willow and Giles go to research. Andrew is using makeshift bandages on the injured. Anya is helping, although she's drinking some of the single malt antiseptic and Andrew takes a swig as well. She keeps talking about how it's a slaughterhouse and many of the girls will die, making the patient she's looking after really upset. Andrew says they need real supplies and the hospital must be abandoned just like the grocery store. He says he's going and so is she. Because the scotch has made him dizzy and he needs her to drive. She gets Kennedy to watch the girls saying she's tough and imminent death won't bother her.

Buffy is asking Xander to do something. He says if he does this, his role in the fight will be over. He feels he's being put out to pasture. She says she needs him to do this. He says he always thought he'd be there with her at the end. She's a little upset. He claims this isn't the end. He says he just wants to be with her. She says he will be, he's her strength, that he's why she made it so far. He agrees. They joke about his one eyedness and her going to die. He says if she does, he'll bring her back to life, it's what he does.

Willow is researching the vineyard which used to be a monastery. But Giles says the weapon is preChristian. She says there are stories from the monks about something older, like a pagan temple. They are frustrated and running out of time. Willow picks up the weapon. He asks if she senses the power and she says no. He suggests magic. She says it must be dangerous and she's scared to tap into it. He says she could do it safely, but she says it would turn her evil. She says even a locator spell gives her dark roots. He asks what she would do if it were necessary and she doesn't know. She goes back to her computer where she finds something that looks like m?. Giles says that's a symbol for glottal stop. He says hieroglyphs stand for sets of consonants. He says the m? sound was represented by a scythe. Willow starts looking for that symbol and he says it represents death so they should figure out where the dead were buried.

Dawn and Xander are at his car looking for her crossbow which he's sure she has misplaced. She says she never does that after the Miss Kitty Fantastico incident. He says now he has to take a driving exam every year. And he's annoyed by the bad jokes people make like 'no more fun and games' (that was Giles) and Cyclops (which Dawn finds funny). He says couldn't they go with 'eye of the beholder' or 'eye for an eye' or even 'I, Claudius'. He says it's about standards. She starts telling him everyone is still on guard around him. He chloroforms her, puts her in the car, and drives off.

Caleb is smashing up the vineyard, wasting a lot of Merlot. FE says Buffy is powerful and he is weak, that his strength is waning. She says it's been some time since they merged. She says when it's over and their armies spring forth, she'll be able to enter every man, woman, and child as she enters him. He asks if she's trying to make him jealous and she says she's trying to make him a god. They stand facing each other. She transform into an ethereal demon form and enters his body. He falls to the ground, then gets up speaking in a altered voice and stronger.

Buffy is talking to the revived Faith. She has given her the weapon and Faith senses its strength and age. She also feels like it is hers, which means she says it is Buffy's. Buffy says it belongs to the slayer and Faith says the slayer in charge which would be Buffy. Buffy isn't sure and asks if it matters. Faith says not to her, someone has to lead. Faith feels she was responsible for the disaster. Buffy says if you lead people into battle, some will die. It isn't her fault. Faith says her whole life she has been a loner. Her relationships have been short. She says Wood actually had a lot of stamina and Buffy is taken aback that she and Wood did it, in her bedroom. Faith says she always looked to Buffy and was jealous. But when everyone turned to her to be leader, she never felt lonelier. She realizes Buffy always feels that loneliness of command.

Spike arrives and finds Buffy with the scythe. He's happy she's back and in charge. He says last night was just a glitch and didn't mean anything. She says she has to go, he says it's probably a solo mission, she says yes, he says that's fine she doesn't have to get shirty about it. She says she's not shirty and shirty isn't even a word. Buffy explains she has to look for a tomb on unconsecrated land. Spike says if Caleb wanted to keep the scythe away from her he should swing by the vineyard and make sure where Caleb is. He turns to leave and she runs after him calling him a dope. She tells him the scythe might help her win her battle and she only has it because of him, because of the strength he gave her last night. She says she's tired of the defensiveness and weird mixed signals. She says she doesn't know how he felt about last night and he says terrified. She asks why and, after stumbling and calling himself a jerk, he says it was the best night of his life. She says it meant an enormous amount to her. He says he's never been close to anyone until last night. So he's terrified. She says he doesn't have to be. He asks if she was there with him and she says yes. He asks what that means. She asks if it has to mean something. He says no. She says maybe after and he says lets go be heroes and leaves.

Andrew and Anya are looting the hospital. Andrew sees an oxygen tank and Anya says it would only be useful if they used it as in Jaws. He thinks she's the perfect woman and so does she. Andrew asks if she thinks it will be bad and she says yes. He asks why she's still there. She says she took off before, but now she has grown to know humans more. She says she's discovered they are amazingly screwed up. They have no uniting purpose and just drift through life until they die. But when something really matters, they fight. She says they are lame morons for fighting, but they do. They never quit. She says she'll keep fighting too. He says that's beautiful and she loves humans. She denies it and they fight over it and she says if he tells anyone she'll kill him. He says he won't survive the coming battle, although she might. He'll be one of those lame humans trying to do what's right. Then he suggests a wheelchair fight.

Buffy enters a tomb. An elderly woman greets her and says she'd forgotten how young she would be. The woman says she's the last of her kind and has been waiting for a long time. Buffy hands her the scythe. The woman says she is one of those who put it in the rock. That it is a weapon forged in secrecy. She asks Buffy her name and is shocked to learn it's Buffy. She says they kept it a secret from the shadow men who became the watchers who they in turn watched. She says they used the scythe to destroy the last pure demon, then hid it. Then men came, then monks, then the town, then Buffy. She says she is the last surprise. Buffy asks if the scythe means she can win. She hands the weapon back to Buffy and says it is powerful and Buffy has other weapons. She says maybe she can fight back the darkness. She says the end is near. Caleb comes from behind and snaps the old woman's neck and asks if she said near or here.

Xander is driving. Dawn awakes. He explains he chloroformed her and gives her a letter from Buffy saying not to be mad with Xander he's doing what she asked him to. Dawn uses a stun gun on Xander. She then turns the car around and starts driving back. Buffy and Caleb fight and he's really strong. Even with the weapon, she's getting the worst of it. He's about to deliver a killing blow when Angel suddenly appears and knocks him down. He says he heard she might need some help. They tell each other they look good. He steps aside realizing this is a battle she must fight alone. She and Caleb go at it again. She cuts him with the scythe. He falls to the ground. She and Angel kiss. Spike watches from a dark corner. Beside him, FE says 'that bitch'.

Analysis

Buffy has great fight scenes and some solid group scenes, but at its best it's a two person show. It can be pretty well any two people, but when there are just two on screen it really seems to shine. This week the pairings were Buffy/Xander, Buffy/Faith, Buffy/Spike, and Andrew/Anya. But before I get into that, a plea with characters in fantasy tv. Please, when you've just defeated the big bad, don't drop your weapon, don't turn your back to it, chop the baddy up into a million tiny pieces, set them on fire, and grind them into dust. Then bury them down the deepest, darkest hole you can find, fill it with concrete, and top it off with the largest boulder you can move. And even then, it'll likely come back. Also, always check the dark corner for eavesdroppers. They are always there.

Anya is a pessimist, sure things will go badly. Andrew is a coward. And those traits, which are undeniable, make their decision to remain, fight, and die all the more laudable. Andrew comes up with the idea of going to the hospital by himself. It's a scary and dangerous thing to do. After all, the town has become demon central. But he's decided he's going to help and they need medical supplies. It's probably the first brave and unselfish act of his life. There, Anya reveals why she's not running this time. She's come to appreciate the human characteristic of going down with your cause. She'll fight because it matters and that's what humans, good ones, do. Andrew realizes she has come to love humanity, even though she denies it. And he realizes he wants the same thing. Anya has come to care and Andrew has developed courage. He has realized that there are things worse than death and better than life. These two - the young man whose life has barely begun and the 1000 year old demon who has lived past her time - have both found something worth living and dying for. They share that realization and it makes them stronger and better. It makes them human.

Xander wants to fight. He wants to go down swinging with Buffy. But she has another mission for him. She needs him to save her by saving Dawn, the one part of herself she can take out of danger. She tells Xander he's her strength, he's the reason she got this far. This reminds us of Primeval, where Xander was defined as her heart and The Freshman where he helped her get back on track. Xander has always supported Buffy and despite his lack of super powers, she has recognized his value (most notably in Checkpoint where she defends him to the watchers). Xander has always been the one who sees (as he notes in Potential). This time he sees the end. He and Buffy are saying goodbye here, remembering what they meant to each other and doing what they can for each other before it all ends. As with most deeply emotional Buffy scenes, it ends with humour because the intensity of emotion is too great and has to be broken. But we all felt it and know what was really being said.

Faith and Buffy have always been jealous of each other. Faith has envied Buffy her connectedness, the very thing Buffy feels she doesn't have. Faith has seen Buffy as part of a family, having a strong circle of friends, being loved and admired while Faith has been the outsider living on the edges of civilization. Buffy has envied Faith's freedom, her casualness, her lack of connectedness - the very things Faith doesn't want. Buffy is always forced to do her duty. Her relationships are always difficult and confusing and full of angst. Faith does what she wants, goes where she wants, and has no strong ties. Her relationships are quick and painless - no emotional commitment, just pleasure. But when Faith takes on the role of Buffy (first in Who Are You and later in Touched) she realizes how complicated and painful the slayer's life is. Meanwhile, when Buffy leaves and takes on Faith's role of outsider in Touched, she realizes that she cannot do it.

Buffy and Faith are the victims of circumstances, they are what they are. Faith is a loner, Buffy a leader. They are not incapable of assuming each others roles, but they aren't happy or entirely comfortable in them. Realizing that, they can finally come to some agreement, a settlement of their differences. They accept that while they share the slayer burden, and sharing it makes it easier, they still have to bear their own burdens separately. Faith has to learn to connect and get over her fear of letting others control her. Buffy has to learn how to abandon her fear of what will happen if she connects, possibly a fear born of that first connection with Angel and its horrible ending.

This dialogue, as often is the case with intense dialogues on Buffy, ends with humour - the hot chicks with super powers line. Buffy and Faith need that humourous moment in order to cope with the horror of the hand fate has dealt them.

Right after Faith and Buffy have talked about loneliness and not being able to share and being hot, Spike arrives and tries to pretend - stupidly - that the night he and Buffy had together meant nothing. They fight because that's easier than admitting the depths of their feelings for one another. Buffy tries to break through. She tells Spike how important the night was to her and how he gave her strength. She tells him that she's tired of the defensiveness and mixed signals. And in that moment we see Spike listening really hard. For the first time in his life/undeath someone is trying very hard to tell him something, to connect with him. And he opens up. He tells Buffy he was scared and he tells her how much the night meant to him. He tells her he never connected with anyone until that night and it terrifies him. She says she was with him. But they aren't sure if it means anything or has to and, unlike the other dialogues in this episode, it doesn't end with humour. It ends with Spike talking about being a hero and leaving.

These two lonely people managed to connect and more miraculously managed to talk seriously about it. But the world is in chaos and neither of them knows if they will survive the coming battle. And neither knows how this relationship can fit within the jigsaw puzzle of their relationships. In the final scene, Spike watches Buffy and Angel kiss as FE goads him. But Angel was Buffy's first love. The love which changed and hurt and terrified her. He can't reasonably expect that to disappear and be forgotten. He has to remember what Buffy said to him - he gave her strength. Only one other man has ever done that - Xander. The others were always people she had to be strong for. She was able to be weak with Spike and he was there for her.

Amanda begins the thread of punishment, of guilt. The slayerettes have a false causality in their minds. They believe the explosion and the injury to Faith and the other girls was the result of them defying Buffy and choosing Faith as their leader. But there's no connection between those events. Buffy might have done the same thing. But people always seek connections and causes, especially when bad things happen. The slayerettes are good, yet they've suffered horribly. So they have to imagine that they have somehow sinned, else how could they be deserving of such torment.

Eventually, the Beljoxa's Eye storyline has to come up again. There has been no mention of it since it was introduced in Showtime. I can't believe that revelation has been forgotten nor can I believe that it doesn't foretell death and destruction for at least some of the good guys. I can't help but believe ultimately Xander will feel he got off lightly. By defeating Caleb, if he is in fact defeated, all they did was destroy a tool of FE. FE has plenty more. Evil is endemic and as long as the balance of the universe is off, FE can find other vessels for itself and continue its attack. The balance of good and evil has to be restored. The shadow men said Buffy was the last guardian of the hellmouth and that's another element of the prophecy which has to be worked out. The hellmouth itself has to be destroyed or at least blocked off so it doesn't need a guardian. And the woman who watched the watchers spoke of other weapons and I think those are the long term weapons, the ones which will effect eternal change. I think she meant people, not objects. The people Buffy has transformed like Anya (who was ready to die to make up for her evil in Selfless [Anya], Andrew who this week talks of being ready to die for the cause of good, Spike who has been ready to sacrifice himself countless times, and Angel who was saved by Buffy and who has always been ready to die for her. Add to these Dawn, Xander, and Willow whose lives would have been ordinary or not at all were it not for the slayer and you've got a formidable collection. These are the people she has touched and changed and turned into weapons for good. You might even add Faith and Giles and the slayerettes.

Some quick final thoughts. The way I read it, at long last we have closure on the oft debated fate of Miss Kitty Fantastico. If Buffy didn't hear FE, how did she know Faith and the girls were hurt. And how did she find them? Okay, a laptop can run off a battery but not for long. Still even if Willow has an extraordinary laptop, how can she get an Internet connection if power is off and all the authorities have left town. I doubt the phone system and the local service providers or cable guys would still be up and running. I can't believe Willow doesn't know what a glottal stop is. I may be wrong about this, but I believe hieroglyphs are symbols standing for concepts or things. However, a lot of middle eastern languages (where older civilizations used hieroglyphs) have consonantally based languages. For the record, the OED lists shirty as a slang word meaning annoyed. Where are they getting gas. Yes, unguarded gas stations can be looted, but I thought the gas was in underground tanks and pumped up with electrical pumps. No electricity, no pumps. Angel leaves for Sunnydale in Home, the final episode of the season for Angel the series. He's wounded in that episode with marks on the side of his face. Those have disappeared by the time we see him in Sunnydale. It's not that long a time and they really should still be there.

Lines of the week:

"I think we got punished." - Amanda feeling guilty.

"I still think we got punished." - Amanda not convinced.

"So it's true, scythe matters." - Willow putting in a contender for line of the series.

"The good guys are not traditionally known for their communication skills." - Buffy getting to the core of a serious problem.

"What?" - Slayerette wishing Anya would just shut up.

"You're my strength, Xander." - Buffy recognizing one of her weapons.

"I can hardly do a locator spell without getting dark roots." - Willow on the perils of magic.

"Do what you can. That's all any of us can do." - Giles on the secret of salvation.

"War is about death. Needless, stupid death." - Buffy getting political.

"That's you every day." - Faith realizing how hard it is for Buffy to be the slayer.

"Thank God we're hot chicks with super powers."
"Takes the edge off."
"Comforting." - Faith and Buffy on what makes it worthwhile.

"Last night was just a glitch." - Spike telling a really stupid lie.

"You're a dope." - Buffy letting Spike know she loves him.

"Have you gone completely carrot top." - Spike demonstrating once again that vampires have an incredible grasp of popular culture.

"Because of the strength that you gave me last night." - Buffy on what she owes Spike.

"I am tired of defensiveness and weird mixed signals." - Buffy trying for a grown up relationship.

"Terrified." - Spike on how he felt.

"It was the best night of my life." - Spike on what the night was to him.

"Done things with you I can't spell." - Spike on his relationship with Buffy.

"Were you there with me."
"I was." - Spike asking Buffy if it meant something to her and her saying yes.

"You are the perfect woman."
"I've often thought so." - Why Andrew and Anya are made for each other.

"So I guess I will keep fighting too." - Anya on what she'll do.

"You love humans." - Andrew on why.

"I think I'd like to finish out as one of those lame humans trying to do what's right." - Andrew on how he plans to end.

"Wheelchair fight?" - Andrew getting back to normal.

"No, really." - On Buffy.

"We're the last surprise." - Old lady not quite accurate.

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