Chosen (Joss Whedon)
“Chosen” is not the best season finale (seasons 2, 3 and 5 have better ones) but it is an adequate way to end the entire series. I have major issues with the empowerment spell and with the huge role that Spike plays in the conclusion and that taints it for me.
Joss Whedon has this to say about Buffy’s cookie dough speech: “She comes to this conclusion a little bit out of the blue, and that's my fault, but we knew that emotionally, that's where we wanted her to get.”
And this about the Scythe: “Some people have complained that the magic that this Scythe – originally from the Fray comic that I was writing at the same time – is a little too convenient. And my answer to those critics is, "Well, don't tell everybody!" It is convenient, and that doesn't really bother me, because ultimately, to me, the magic, the phlebotnum is always secondary to what needs to be said. And what needed to be said had to do with empowerment.”
And this about the Ubervamps: “Some people complained, again, that the vampires were too easy to kill. That they were supposed to be stronger than other vampires. And the fact of the matter is… it's true. Like the convenience of the magic, it's true. Because, again, I was more interested in showing the empowerment than I was in the continuity.”
These three quotes from Joss Whedon’s commentary to ‘Chosen” (transcript by stormwreath) make it clear that he doesn’t care if a story is a little strained if the story being told has heart. However, what happens if the heart is in the wrong place?
This is what he says about Anya: “That was because I needed a toll, I needed this battle really to feel like a battle – and I couldn't kill any of my Core Four and still call it a happy ending. I couldn't kill Dawn and still call it a happy ending either. So Anya got the nod. And to make it as unheroic as possible just felt very real and very creepy – and that shot was in fact her last shot.” (I like that Anya was steeled by the thought of bunnies but, otherwise, just another woman to add to the pile.)
And here’s what he says about Spike: “Another beautiful image. Our boy, going down for the last time. Even though everybody already knew he was going to be on Angel...”
Well, I didn’t! I thought he was bloody dead. And answer this question: who gets to die in a literal blaze of glory and whose body is left buried under Sunnydale? Many people die in Buffy and, in a series with a disproportionate amount of female characters (compared with any other TV series that is), many of them are women. What I resent is the number of women who die compared with the number of men who leave rather than get killed off. And this Spike thing is even more galling. He dies (completely incinerated) and yet there he is in bloody Angel. Joss is famous for his character deaths which are tremendously resonant and powerfully effective which some people justify by pointing out that death happens and is even more likely to be early and violent in the Buffyverse (this is undeniable) but when the deceased return from the dead then where is the power in that?
I have problems with the empowerment of thousands of young potentials; not with the ones that Buffy explicitly asks if they want to do this thing (“So here's the part where you make a choice…”) but with the ones who have it thrust upon them. It is done without their consent. How is Buffy different from the Shadow Men who did the same to the first Slayer? When she met them in “Get It Done” she is miffed with what they did to the First Slayer “You violated that girl, made her kill for you because you're weak, you're pathetic, and you obviously have nothing to show me.”
A few other remarks:
If you are going to use lines like “he had to split”, it really helps when the character then laughs at its cheesiness.
Dawn kicking Buffy in the shin is acceptable violence.
Spike's drawing of Angel on the punchbag is amusing.
I liked Robin and Faith together. Faith’s horror at, perhaps, not being that great at sex was most amusing ("Dude, I got mad skills."). However, I don’t like Robin’s “death”. Back to Joss: “Dying – having a character die then suddenly bringing them back is something you can only earn after you've actually killed a couple of people. So this was a nice opportunity to say, "This isn’t over yet." Have the call-back and – but I wouldn't have been able to do it if I hadn't legitimately offed a few beloved characters.” I really detest that fake-out storytelling: it feels like cheating to me and is also a tad repetitive since it had already been done to Cordelia and Kaylee.
Giles and the others playing Dungeons and Dragons was also amusing particularly since he summed up his S7 persona: "I used to be a highly respected watcher, and now I'm a wounded dwarf with the mystical strength of a doily."
After reading Joss’s words, I should know better than to complain but Buffy’s plan could really have done with better timing like waiting for Willow’s spell to, um, work.
I love the lull before the final fight as other characters disappear to get on with their tasks leaving the original four in the high school corridor and a shot of Buffy on her own: Giles’s remark the “earth is definitely doomed” is a perfect reminder of “The Harvest”.
What happens to Kennedy? I’m pretty sure we never see her after the escape from the Hellmouth. It seems a bit odd not to have a proper shot of her on the bus.
The Welcome to Sunnydale sigh falling into the crater is an important touch.
Buffy’s last words are “I love you” and “Spike” which surely somebody has analysed the significance of.
In the final, final scene, I like that Buffy doesn’t say anything while everyone yammers but just smiles, sadly.