“In the end you’re always by yourself. You’re all you’ve got… That’s the point,” says Whistler to Buffy as she runs out the door, off to save the world again. As the episode opens Buffy is being pursued by the police for Kendra’s death and Giles is being tortured by Angelus for the clue to awakening the demon Acathla who will suck the world into hell. This episode tops the scale, and slides straight in at the number one spot as the best episode so far, by far. The plot weaves together themes, and plot lines from the entire season managing to conclude the Angelus storyline as well as coming out as the slayer to her mother. Angelus is a truly evil villain, and earns top marks, not just because he is one of the cruellest villains so far, but also because he is maniacally theatrical. Despite Angelus’ cruelty, this episode also scores top marks for humour as is a perfect example of how the series manages to capture real life. So often in the worst situations humour is the only way to cope. Not only that there are some very funny moments, especially when Spike meets Joyce- their interactions are always brilliant. It’s hard to find fault in this episode, and still it manages to keep pushing.
“Mom… I’m a vampire slayer.”
There’s always a lot of debate around whether this scene is a metaphor for coming out to your parents. I have always thought so. Buffy cannot choose her destiny, being a slayer is just the way she is and she’s always held back from telling her mother- partly to protect her- but also partly because Buffy is worried about how Joyce will react. Buffy’s mom reacts badly. I think I can understand why Joyce reacts badly to finding out her daughter is a vampire slayer, but the sad truth is that when this show first aired it wasn’t uncommon for parents to react in a very similar way when finding out their child was LGBT. Of course, it still happens even now. Buffy is being rejected by her own mother for something that she has no control over, and even though Joyce says it in the heat of the moment she still kicks Buffy out of her own home. I think it’s amazing how this show about made up demons can so effectively reflect issues that affect us all in real life. I think that’s why so many people, me included, love ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’- she’s got us all through some real hard times.
“Xander, you go to Buffy. Tell her what we’re doing.”
But Xander doesn’t tell Buffy that Willow intends to try again to restore Angels soul. Xander gets a lot of hate for this, but I think he says it for the right reasons. Buffy has spent the second half of the Season knowing that she will probably need to kill Angelus, thus losing Angel forever. When Xander meets up with her he can see that she’s ready. She has come to terms with what she must do. I think Xander knows that telling her Willow is re-attempting the spell would give her doubts, it might even prevent her from doing what she must. This is even more crucial than Xander realises, because even if the restoration spell works Angelus’ blood is still needed to close the doorway so she’ll have to stab him anyway. However, not being forewarned makes it even harder for her to accept that she sent Angel to hell.
This episode does not end on a high. I think that’s quite original (note the top marks) for a television show, especially when ‘Buffy’ first aired. Buffy saved the day, but she isn’t welcomed by a fanfare and a parade. She’s left alone in silence, having saved the world, but sacrificed her soul mate to do it. She can’t face the celebration, and so she leaves. The last shot is of the Sunnydale town sign: “come back soon.”
“Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals on legs.”- Spike