Buffy 5×22: The Gift

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 05/22/2001]

Here we are, another mind-bogglingly good season finale from Joss Whedon. From the reflective opening scene to the shocking, tear-inducing final act “The Gift” doesn’t hold back. It would be naive to say that the season was built for this. The entire series up to this point was built for this. What a capper to an amazing five-year journey we’ve been through with the Scoobies. Buffy is full-on dead, and not in the do-a-little-CPR way. We’re talking full-on, buried in the ground, dead. This is something that never happens on television and yet here it is — the main character of the show dies to prevail. From the sad to the sublime, my goal is to discuss what exactly happened that drove Buffy to this kind of sacrifice. So here I go!

More than the first half of “The Gift” gives us a set of defining character moments of which I’ll discuss one at a time. The last part of the episode lets all the pieces be set into motion and is essentially one frantic, excellently executed, action scene that ends with some unbelievably poignant drama. Due to this clean split in episode content this review will be fairly chronological in nature.

Everything begins with a superb scene of reflection as a run-of-the-mill vampire attacks a guy behind the Magic Box. Buffy pops her head out and finds herself surprised the vamp doesn’t know who she is. This entire scene, including how the gang shrugs off the attack, is meant to remind us of where the show came from, of a time when one vampire fight was considered a big deal. For a brief moment Buffy is able to relive the earlier days which, while complicated-seeming back then, are now greatly missed. The guy she saves tells her, “How’d you do that? You’re just a girl!” Buffy aptly replies, “That’s what I keep saying.” This whole season and, most recently, “The Weight of the World” [5×21] , we have been frequently reminded of Buffy’s desire to just be “a girl,” nothing more. Poor Buffy is not a girl anymore as she is quickly realizing.

As the gang is debating what to do inside, Xander asks the question “Why blood?” Spike, speaking from obvious experience, answers “Blood is life, lackbrain. Why do you think we eat it? It’s what keeps you going, makes you warm, makes you hard, makes you other than dead. ‘Course it’s her blood.” This conversation brings the season back full circle as the idea of blood as life was also brought up in “Buffy vs. Dracula” [5×01] . Several other episodes also brought attention to the subject, most notably “Fool for Love” [5×07] and “Blood Ties” [5×13] .

This same conversation eventually works it way to the grim reality of the situation and is represented in some potent dialogue. If the ritual begins, killing Dawn is the only way to close the tear in dimensions. Buffy blatantly says “We are not talking about this!” This is when the Watcher in Giles fully seeps out as he yells back “Yes we bloody well are! If Glory begins the ritual… If we can’t stop her…” To support his case he reminds Buffy that Dawn isn’t really her sister to which Buffy claims “She’s more than that. She’s me. The Monks made her out of me. I hold her and I feel closer to her than… It’s not just the memories they built, it’s physical. Dawn is a part of me. The only part that I…” The end of this sentence is “have left.” This is the first hint that Buffy would show no sadness in dying for Dawn, because in her mind she will live on through Dawn.

From the enormity of the unwavering devotion of protecting Dawn to the simplicity of stroking her hair, Buffy quickly establishes a mother-like bond to Dawn in many ways. This is why what Buffy speaks of her so closely parallels how many parents feel about their children… almost a sense of immortality through them. A little later on there’s this scene of terrific mutual resolve in the training room as Giles tells Buffy he’s going to try to kill Dawn if that’s their only remaining option and Buffy tells Giles she’ll kill him if he tries (along with anyone else if they try as well). They both realize what each other must do and are at an unusual peace with it. This is a very unique scene that brings out some vital self reflection from Buffy.

“I sacrificed Angel to save the world. I loved him so much… but I knew. What was right. I don’t have that any more. I don’t understand. I don’t know how to live in this world, if these are the choices, if everything just gets stripped away. I don’t see the point. I just wish… I just wish my mom was here.” Buffy says a lot of important stuff there. In her past it was always clear what needed to be done, no matter how painful it may have been. From facing temporary death at the hands of the Master in “Prophecy Girl” [1×12] to killing Angel in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] to offering herself to heal Angel in “Graduation Day Pt. 2” [3×22] , Buffy has taken the difficult path and faced her fears. But if Dawn were to die here, the last piece Buffy has left, after all that has been taken away from her this season, would be lost and she’d be truly dead inside.

This speech also is a huge thematic tie-in to “Fool for Love” [5×07] , where Spike told Buffy that slayers have a death wish and the only reason she’s lasted so long is her “ties to the world,” specifically mentioning her “mum” and “brat kit sister.” Buffy’s lost a lot this season which is the reason why everything is so unbearable, and the last thing she’s got left, Dawn, is being threatened. This is why, had Dawn died, Buffy truly would have that death wish. At this point in the episode she’s almost there, with only Dawn’s life keeping her from passing through the veil of death.

During this solemn scene is where Christophe Beck’s score for “The Gift” really kicks in, and I must say it is stunningly beautiful and really pulls at the heart. What an affecting piece of music! Its reprise at the pivotal moment in the end is also a wonderful tie in theme to what Buffy realized in this scene. More on that in a bit though. Although “The Gift” is one of the defining moments of the entire series for Buffy, the other characters get serious attention as well.

First up is Xander and Anya. Their relationship has been getting stronger and stronger this entire season with the major change in their relationship coming during Xander’s beautiful speech to Anya at the end of “Into the Woods” [5×10] . Overall it’s been a steady progression of them getting closer and closer so now feels like a completely natural time for a marriage proposal. Here in “The Gift” they have inappropiately timed sex as a method to relieve the tension before a battle where there’s a decent chance either of them could die. After Anya hilarious freaks out over the stuffed bunny, Xander actually proposes to her! Wow! Instead of being a cheap “oh God, more melodrama” moment, this feels completely earned and true. Also fascinating is Anya slapping him and telling him he’s only doing this because he they’re going to die. Xander tells her otherwise, and I really think he means it. It’s just obvious that this decision wasn’t something Xander put a ton of thought into. His reactions about their future together seen in S6 prove this.

“Give it to me when the world doesn’t end.” Xander loves Anya a ton and feels that’s enough. Unfortunately, other things often obstruct ‘true love’ from succeeding in the long run. One of the biggest of these things is family, and we all know the kinds of issues Xander has with his family. For the moment, though, Xander’s proposal is genuine and touching. Also, because of their love, Anya is facing an apocolypse and doesn’t skip town like she did in “Graduation Day Pt. 1” [3×21] . This is some great continuity and development. It’s important to note that Anya isn’t staying and fighting because of her own desire to save humanity or to do what’s right, but rather for Xander and their love. This is the difference between her stand here and the one in “Chosen” [7×22] .

Another huge character moment is when Buffy invites Spike back into her home. This is a huge deal to Spike and Buffy knows it, which makes it all the more powerful. After Buffy puts her trust in Spike to protect Dawn “‘Til the end of the world,” he tenderly tells her “I know you’ll never love me. I know that I’m a monster. But you treat me like a man, and that’s…” That’s an amazing piece of growth from both of these characters, that’s what it is! A couple important things to take note of here. First is Buffy pointing out they’re not all going to make it. It’s sure surprising that she’s the only one that doesn’t make it! The other thing worth pointing out is Buffy’s position on the staircase when Spike tells her what he thinks. This is the same place she’s standing in “After Life” [6×03] when Spike first sees her back from the literal grave, which binds these episodes together. Their relationship picks up right where it left off only with Buffy being in a significantly darker state.

Finally, all the characters have had their moments (although Willow’s moment involves taking action towards the end). It’s showtime! The group uses Tara to find where Glory is and on their way out the door she points at Giles and yells “you’re a killer!” This, of course, foreshadows Giles murdering Ben in just a little while. All this leads to the phenomenal giant fight sequence that is the rest of the episode. There’s a lot of really cool moments in which the Scoobies throw all kinds of #### at Glory: the BuffyBot from “Intervention” [5×18] , the Dagon Sphere from “No Place Like Home” [5×05] , Willow tearing Tara’s mind out of Glory, the opposite of which happened in “Tough Love” [5×19] , and back into Tara, Xander’s wrecking ball gained from his construction job he got a promotion at in “The Replacement” [5×03] , and then finally Buffy herself with Olaf’s hammer in hand from “Triangle” [5×11] with an awesome ‘whack’ sound effect. This is how you use elements from throughout the season in tandem to end a season! Simply mesmorizing.

It’s amazing that it takes this much force to knock Glory down. I so adore Whedon for not using some cheap trick to stop Glory like a lesser show would do. The greatness doesn’t stop there though! After Buffy continues to beat the #### out of Glory with the hammer, Glory transforms back into Ben therefore giving Buffy a chance to kill her once and for all. But she doesn’t do it. Buffy will not take human life unless being directly attacked by it and left with no other option but self defense. Ben wasn’t attacking Buffy, Glory was. So she lets him live and heads up to the tower to help Dawn.

Just when you think that the villain is being set up for a later return, Giles comes over and does something that is both shocking and completely in character: he suffocates Ben to death. Right before said act Ben tells Giles “she could have killed me.” Giles responds, solemnly, “No she couldn’t. Never. And sooner or later, Glory will re-emerge and make Buffy pay for that mercy, and the world with her. Buffy even knows that, and still she couldn’t take a human life. She’s a hero, you see. She’s not like us.” Giles puts himself on the same level of Ben, the man he’s killing. What that says about Giles’ duty and life is truly dark and paints a moral landscape that is very messy and utterly fascinating to contemplate. Consider me blown away, again. Wow.

Even with all this indescribable greatness, the most shocking and heart-breaking moment is yet to come. Even in the most dire of circumstances Whedon slips in laugh-out-loud humor in the magical way only he can do. With Buffy at the top of the tower walking up to the Doc, who just threw Spike off, he tells her “this should be interesting.” Buffy’s response? Shove. Pure hilarity! Immediately after this Dawn’s blood opens the portal and the two of them are left on the tower with decisions to make. I really want to take this moment to say I love Dawn in this season and I feel she was an excellent addition to the cast. The moment that clinches this for me is when Dawn is willing to do what Ben could not: sacrifice herself for the world. How can you not love this girl right now? Shame on you if you don’t!

It’s not Dawn’s time to die, though, as she deserves a shot at life like the rest of us. As has been repeated in several places, “it doesn’t matter much how you got here.” Buffy wants Dawn to have a long life, the piece of life that is the only thing Buffy hasn’t lost of herself. Dawn’s comments about blood spark an amazing realization for Buffy. Everything just hits her all at once: blood being irrevocably tied to life, Buffy’s blood connection to Dawn, and the Spirit Guide’s true meaning. Death, here, now, is Buffy’s gift of love to Dawn, her friends, and the world. Pure, undiluted love. Spike told her back in “Fool for Love” [5×07] that if everything got stripped away like it has, she’d want to die. I can’t help but think that even at this point death is a little bit of a relief to her, but this moment isn’t the way Spike envisioned it at all. Buffy’s motivation here is purely that which she’s done throughout the series time and time again, whether it’s the daily grind or the big moments.

The instant Buffy realizes what the Spirit Guide’s message is the screen flashes to a shot of her eyes with instant recognition of what her calling as the Slayer means. The shot of the sun rising over the horizon beautifully symbolizes Buffy’s newfound understanding and imminent entry to her first ‘day’ in life after death. “Tell Giles… Tell Giles I figured it out. And… I’m okay.” This is such a beautiful moment I am without words to describe it and I will openly admit it easily brings me to tears every time I see it alone. The Slayer is not just a killer, but if used wisely is an instrument of love; a hardened fighter who is blinded by the very love she is full of — the gift she gives to the world.

Buffy tells Dawn, “Listen. I love you. I will always love you. This is the work I have to do … Give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now — you have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. That is one of the most profound and truthful phrases I have ever heard in my life. Coming from Buffy, with everything we’ve seen her go through… no, with everything we’ve been through with her thanks to Joss Whedon, it means even more.

As Buffy turns to the portal in slow-motion and dashes forward to her death, Dawn is not the only one crying. Buffy dives into the portal in a completely earned crucifix-like pose and it is very clear that she’s in tremendous pain when inside the energy, just as Jesus Christ was when nailed to the crucifix. Two figures who are aligned by sacrificing themselves out of the love of others. It is also clear that she dies before completely passing through it proving that she did, in fact, die a mystical death which of course plays a vital role in “Bargaining Pt. 1” [6×01] . As the Scoobies gather around Buffy’s body we can see Giles and Willow both sobbing while Spike is a complete wreck. Still in tears myself, the camera pans over Buffy’s tombstone that shows what is arguably the most painful thing in the entire series.

BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS

1981 – 2001

BELOVED SISTER
DEVOTED FRIEND

SHE SAVED THE WORLD
A LOT

Whedon managing to still pull a tearful chuckle in the midst of pure grief is astonishing. But that’s the way Buffy would want people to remember her and this story of her life. I emplore all of us to live by Buffy’s final words: “Be brave. Live. For me.”

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Anya actually coming up with great suggestions when put on the spot.
+ Buffy telling Willow she’s the strongest one there.
+ Glory expects Buffy will only show up to kill Dawn, which is also what Giles is trying to convince her to do if necessary.
+ Willow asking for a little courage so Spike pulls out his flask of bourbon and offers it to her.
+ Willow’s brain-suck revesal. Cool effect, go Willow!
+ Awesome use of the BuffyBot.
+ The Doc is really creepy, but where in the world did he come from? Teleportation?
+ Willow and Tara joining hands again, a throwback to “Hush” [4×10] , to gain the extra power needed to split the group of minions so Spike can reach Dawn.
+ The Doc out maneuvering Spike.
+ Special effects for the portal. And, hey! Dragon! I wonder if that’s the same dragon we see in “Not Fade Away” (AtS 5×22).
+ The cryptic “countdown to 7-3-0” from “Graduation Day Pt. 2” [3×22] leading to a worthy event.

– The confusion over Buffy and Dawn’s blood connection. This could have been much more clearly explained.


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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196 thoughts on “Buffy 5×22: The Gift”

  1. [Note: Rick posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    May I say Mike that this is your best review, imo. Thanks, you nailed everything, although I would have focused more on the connection of this ep. to Fool for Love (and thus the symbolic permeance of the slayer’s nature throughout the entire series and how it changes).
    I have only one complain with this episode that really bugs me: Glory’s strength. Why does she seem so much weaker here than in other episodes. For example, how did she so easily destroy Buffy in “No Place Like Home” and “shadow,” yet struggle with her here and in “Tough Love.” Her power is very inconsistent throughout the season and the speed she used in “Spiral” should have been used in all her fight scences for common sense. Also, with Illyria-like power displays when she knocks over steel doors in NPLH, its alarmingly odd that she doesn’t grap that hammer from Buffy and bash all their brains in. I’m sorry, but she’s a god. And Buffy should not be strong enough to wield that hammer like she does (remember how much Spike struggled with it and he’s not much weaker than her). END RANT. Sorry, it just seems that Glory was made consistently weaker so as to make her fights with Buffy longer and more equal…and to make her beatable in the finale, which she really shouldn’t be. This is a being that should arguably, in her true form, be stronger than Illyria in her original form. So how the hell did so much power get packed into Fred, but not into Glory’s body??? Am I the only one this pisses off…I can’t even explain why it does so much. ARGH…

    Besides that, STUNNING AND PERFECT EPISODE

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  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    I don’t have a problem with Buffy being able to wail on Glory after all the stuff they did to her before the fight. The key thing that I think weakened her was the Dagon Sphere, which was meant to repell her. That and Willow’s spell along with a little beating from the BuffyBot, and you’ve got a Glory weakened enough to be fought by Buffy, although she’s still helped by the hammer (I agree this should have been heavier for Buffy) along with Xander’s wrecking ball. I really don’t see this as an issue.

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  3. [Note: pjc posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    For me the key thing was the reverse brain suck. We see her basically helpless before the postman was brought in in a previouis episode.

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  4. [Note: Rick posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    Still can’t buy it….a building fell on her and she got right up. A truck hit her and it didnt even phase her. The damage is just consistent. She should have wiped the floor with them. A better explanation the writers could have come up with was: the mingling with Ben has brought her closeer to human strength (still way beyond, but closer).

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  5. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    The confusion over Buffy and Dawn’s blood connection. This could have been much more clearly exlpained.

    It is confused, but the key thing to remember I think is that it doesn’t matter – and that because of the fact Dawn is manufactured, in some way unnatural in material, that a more “real” blood that her’s was copied from would easily work in closing the portal.

    Still in tears myself, the camera pans over Buffy’s tombstone that shows what is arguably the most painful thing in the entire series.

    I agree, but it’s also the most beautiful. It’s the quintessential example of how I think season five perfected the mix of comedy and tragedy, managing to seamlessly entwine them into many bittersweet moments towards the end, none of them as powerful or compelling as this one.

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  6. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    Well, all the stuff they used to weaken her makes sense to me. Willow’s spell + Dagon Sphere (check out how much pain Glory is in when she catches it!) are the things that bring Glory down to manageable strength. Then the rest of the things they throw at her continue to chip away at her. Seriously, they threw a LOT of stuff at her. I think it was done perfectly.

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  7. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    Still can’t buy it….a building fell on her and she got right up. A truck hit her and it didnt even phase her. The damage is just consistent. She should have wiped the floor with them. A better explanation the writers could have come up with was: the mingling with Ben has brought her closeer to human strength (still way beyond, but closer).

    You’re not the only one, Rick, who found it to be a little dodgy, and I thought that they should have specified as to why Buffy was able to defeat her like she did, but in all honesty in the context of the episode’s strengths it hardly matters to me.

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  8. [Note: Greyfable posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    I had no trouble buying that she was weakened by the sphere and the hammer, but… well, even though they established that Willow can hurt Glory in “Tough Love” I still find her spell a little bit hard to swallow. I mean, what a wonderful reset button, right? Not that I wasn’t glad to have Tara better, but still.

    Spike is, as usual, amazing in this episode. I’m not a rabbid “ong! Spike and Buffy!” fan by any means, but I must say they did an amazing job with his arc this season. Every time I hear him say “I made a promise to a lady” I’m ready to lose it, and his reaction to Buffy’s death gets to me more than anyone — well, except Giles. And Dawn.

    Dawn did really well in this episode. The scene where she demands that Ben turn into Glory was very powerful.

    I agree that they could have done more with the Doctor. He was very creepy in “Forever”, but it still felt odd having him pop up here. But it was okay. I have to give the show that: the two things I have trouble with (willow’s spell, the doc) are elements the show had already established before this episode, and that is good.

    All and all, this was a fantastic end to the season.

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  9. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on January 20, 2007.]

    there’s some fun with the dvds. r1 dvds don’t have the superzoom of what has happened so far at the beginning of the gift (the way it was aired originall, twop) but in the end of chosen, which is strange, cause it doesn’t fit there. but here… as it goes faster and faster and then there’s this tum-tum-tum with the chase high motion following high motion, great…

    r2 dvds have this “what happened so far-previously s1 to 5” at the beginning of the gift too.

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  10. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 20, 2007.]

    Spammers (in this case) aren’t real people, they are computer programs that just bombard the server with form input. By creating a randomized security code, it forces an actual human to be at their computer to recognize what it is and manually submit it.

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  11. [Note: Sunnycide posted this comment on January 22, 2007.]

    IMO, Glory was never at full power here in this episode. I know in the beginning of the season, she seems unstoppable, but throughout the season, we also learned that she needs to keep “sucking brains” to maintain her strength. Willow’s reversal spell to restore Tara, hammer, Buffy-bot, Dagon Sphere, Xander’s wrecking ball and Ben’s humanity kept her in check. Yes, I believe Ben is there in the background. One may “rule” at the moment, but the duality of the persona is there. She was never a “pure” God in this reality. Yet, Glory still gave everyone a run for their money. Nope, I have no trouble believing the defeat of Glory.

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  12. [Note: AaronJer posted this comment on February 12, 2007.]

    I don’t think there is any problem with Buffy’s ability to defeat Glory in this episode… there’s no reason to think, “The Dagon Sphere isn’t powerful enough to weaken Glory to this state” because it’s never explained what it actually does. All we get is “Shiny magic thing/Glory doesn’t like it” and for all we know it could have absorbed the majority of her power the moment she touched it. It could have been slightly better if it had in some way been explained that it hurt her tremendously, but it’s fine the way it is. Even without all the other junk they threw at her, that’s enough of an explanation for Buffy’s victory.

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  13. [Note: tomrd16 posted this comment on February 17, 2007.]

    I’m seriously in love with BTVS and I love your reviews ‘cuz they make me relive the show.
    I have no complaintas whatsoever from this episode, and I totally accept the defeating of Glory, of course she was more powerful earlier in the season, but had the Scoobies ever thrown at her all the things they did here AT ONCE ? and although I love the series too much to ever pick a favourite episode, this one’s definitely one of the best (if not the best) episode in the entire run of the series (oh, wait now I’m remembering “The Body”, “Hush”, “Becoming”…, see my point ?), I mean when the “previously on” segment of the episode at the beggining is enough to keep you mesmerized we’re dealing with something special here people.

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  14. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on February 19, 2007.]

    If you enjoy podcasts, there is a really excellent one by Revello at Buffycast all about the character Dawn and how perhaps she should have died instead of or as well as Buffy in this episode. It discusses the weaknesses of the whole Buffy blood/Dawn blood thing too. It’s good, thought provoking discusion. Well worth a listen.

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  15. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 1, 2007.]

    The blood connection between Buffy and Dawn reminds me of a scene in Forever. Spike takes Dawn to see Doc to find out if they can bring back Joyce. Doc plucks out a strand of Dawn’s hair and says something like “You have strong DNA”. At the time Dawn thought it meant that Joyce had strong DNA and so the resurrection spell would work properly. But it was referring to the fact that BUFFY has strong DNA (being a slayer)and Dawn was made from Buffy, not Joyce.

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  16. [Note: Nix posted this comment on August 27, 2007.]

    Hah. Another nice reference: in the Magic Shop, Buffy says `I’m way ahead of you’ to Giles, immediately after Xander has spoken. Yet another reprise of a theme from Restless, I suspect…

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  17. [Note: Xenophon posted this comment on October 28, 2007.]

    I must say I really enjoyed S5. I only finished watching it this morning and to say I cried from “The Body” almost all the way through to “The Gift” (or at least it felt that way). And not to make fun of you Mike, but being a girl I don’t need to be alone before I can cry ;-).

    Hopefully tomorrow I’ll start on S6, but I will miss your reviews, because I noticed you are still busy with those, but will be reading the ones you already did.

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  18. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 13, 2007.]

    Absolutely my favorite season finale. Of any show, actually. But, then again, S5 is my fav Buffy season. The final scene with Buffy turning and making the jump is just gorgeous.

    And I’m glad you pointed out the stairwell connection between this episode and After Life. I like the Buffy/Spike relationship a lot at the beginning of S6 because it is such a natural extension of where they left off here…ya know, before things go all screwy.

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  19. [Note: Nix posted this comment on November 19, 2007.]

    I must admit that, like the equally brilliant S2 finale, the only part that annoyed me was the stunt doubles. In _Becoming Part 2_ the switches to Boreanaz’s stunt double are blatantly obvious (look at the hairline) and really distracting: the last thing you want in a climatic moment like that is a distancing technique.

    The same is true here. SMG’s stunt double has a completely different facial shape, and for me at least the face shape is what I’ve always used to recognize that character: so it’s as if she, e.g. turns from Dawn at the top of the tower and has instant plastic surgery.

    I know there’s nothing they could reasonably have done about it modulo finding an entire cast of identical twin actors (having one pair available was lucky enough), but still, it’s annoying.

    Now I’ve come out with an annoying criticism, a plus point nobody has commented on: one wonderful technique in that last scene is the silent pull-back from Buffy and Dawn, with her words played over the climatic leap and its aftermath. This serves to effectively fill up what could otherwise have been annoying blank time, and made a nice long slow treatment of this event reasonable. (Plus, it gave us an excuse to have more of Beck’s wonderful score!)

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  20. [Note: Nix posted this comment on November 20, 2007.]

    The Sun rising when it does has another nice consequence. When Buffy has her revelation atop the tower, she turns from Dawn into the dawn. Dawn on both sides…

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  21. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 28, 2007.]

    I don´t have a problem with the blood connection, really. It´s just all the emotions that are happening are far more important and the themes of the episode are so memorable. I don´t have enough words to praise this. I love it, from the first to the last scene. Amazing and at the end, I´m crying my heart out. Stunning action, drama and humour blended together to make an extraordinary finale and an extraordinary season. And once again, mike, really great job. Your reviews are amazing, insightful and just full of love for this series.

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  22. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 6, 2008.]

    Yet another potential parallel between two apocalypses. In Becoming (both parts 1 and 2), Angel refers to Acathla as setting him free (`you will be free, and so will we all’). Here, the Doc says `let the blood flow… free’, with a long pause before `free’.

    A lot of the Big Bads seem to assume Death == Freedom: I suppose if this just made them suicidal they’d not be Big Bads. (Buffy comes to share this attitude to some degree in S6, but that’s probably simple depression).

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  23. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on February 20, 2008.]

    As a reply to rick the only reason i can come up with for why glory is so damn weak is becuase ben and her were merging and she herself said she was in pain and really weak. but its a very common in buffy (not to mention other shows and movies) for big bads to become big babies near the climax (like with the master, adam and caleb) also with the turokan joss made the same mistake we saw in aliens and used the idea “that in quantites creature tend to be weaker” which doesnt really work. but still i loved so much about this episode!

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  24. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on February 20, 2008.]

    oh and did anyone else notice the similarity between buffys death and ripleys in alien 3? i think that they were SO similair that i had to bring it up.

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  25. [Note: Nix posted this comment on February 28, 2008.]

    The `in quantities creatures tend to be weaker’ is a reference to the way monsters tend to behave on horror shows, not a comment on real life πŸ™‚ (where, as Anya says, the larger they are `the harder they stomp you into nothing.’)

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  26. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on April 30, 2008.]

    I saw this episode again today, and I simply love it. The final scenes are so beautiful, I can’t help but shudder when Buffy jumps off the tower.

    I think this part of Mike’s review sums up Buffy’s calling entirely:

    “The Slayer is not just a killer, but if used wisely is an instrument of love; a hardened fighter who is blinded by the very love she is full of — the gift she gives to the world.”

    Like

  27. [Note: Rockalla posted this comment on June 28, 2008.]

    I’m probably the only person out there who actually found Doc really weird, creepy and awesome. I mean the black eyes that weird tongue thing, he’s just so SPOOKY! And why did he die from falling off the tower when it didn’t kill Spike? The guy lives after getting stabbed but he can’t survive falling off a little tower? WEIRD! I’m real happy it wasn’t Glory who bled Dawn because you know a teenage girl trapped and getting attacked by a creepy old man is so much better then an insane hell-bitch cutting her. And Glory would’ve done a big boring speech if she was the one bleeding Dawn.

    So yeah, no one but me loves the DOC!!!!! DOC COME BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  28. [Note: Steph posted this comment on July 21, 2008.]

    Did anyone else find it a bit jaring when Tara slapped Willow? The first time I saw that scene, it completely freaked me out.

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  29. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on November 25, 2008.]

    The scene where Giles kills Ben works perfectly with what we know about Giles. The Ripper is always a part of him. The way we’ve seen his character evolve is kinda like Willow. When I look back at Season 1 – it is amazing the character development. Giles killing Ben has to be one of my definitive moments so far in Buffy.

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  30. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 25, 2008.]

    Despite my desperate pleas of “Please God, let them take Dawn instead!” going unheeded, this is still an amazing season finale. Truly brilliant. I sat there with my jaw on the floor as that final tombstone shot faded out. I was actually confused when it was followed by an announcement thanking the show for 5 great years, only to realize what a cheap shot it was later that the WB was actually TRYING to trick some people into thinking the show had actually ended and that it wasn’t moving to the WB.

    Anyway, great review. Fantastic job!

    Like

  31. [Note: Zillex posted this comment on February 26, 2009.]

    Just saw this episode, wow! Loved it.

    One funny bit of irony was when “Buffy” (The Buffy-bot) is taunting Glory, and Glory says “This is a (diversionary tactic)”…she could not be more right. The Buffy-bot was indeed a diversionary tactic so Buffy could sneak up on her and bash her with the hammer.

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  32. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 3, 2009.]

    I just finished S5 on my second round of the whole show. While “Spiral” pretty much just made me yawn (even with all the urgency, knowing Giles was going to live and Tara get her sanity back took away most of the impact, and the Knight of Whatever are pretty lame and pointless – I was downright happy that Glory slaughtered the whole lot of them), “The Weight of the World” was excellent, and this episode just plain made me cry. It didn’t do that to me the first time I saw it, but all the best bits of BtVS just seem to cut deeper the more times you see them.

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  33. [Note: Twiggy posted this comment on March 10, 2009.]

    Great review. I’ ve seen “The Gift” so many times and I still cry everytime; I actually got teary just reading the review..=P Kinda sad.
    @paula: absolutely true, the first time I saw it, I didn’t burst into tears, but everytime after it; it’s just getting better and better.

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  34. [Note: Guido posted this comment on March 13, 2009.]

    It’s too bad some of us men have to wait until we’re alone to cry, but that’s the way it is. Buffy is such a deeply personal experience for me, which is why I watch it alone. I would love nothing better if my friends all loved Buffy as much as I do, and would all cry freely as I do, but that’s not the world I live in, unfortunately.

    My one minor cringe-worthy scene in this episode is the wrecking ball. I let it slide every time, however, as I don’t want it to interfere with the beauty of the ending. But if I did let it bother me, this is how it would play out: At some point during the fight, Xander had to notice the crane, concoct the idea, leave the fight, start the crane, swing the ball, and time the swing so that Glory (who has not exactly been standing still all this time) just happens to be in its path. Plus, he’s on the other side of a wall, unable to see what’s going on. It’s just a little too slap-stick, and I wish Xander’s worthiness and contribution could have been affirmed in some other way than simply making him into a comic book hero (Construction Worker Boy).

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  35. [Note: Connie posted this comment on March 30, 2009.]

    Guido,
    I totally agree with you when you say “Buffy is such a deeply personal experience for me” and I also agree about the alone thing. Of course I can watch it with my friends, but to get the full experience of Buffy, I need to be alone. Oh, and just in case I cry as well >_<

    Before I saw this comment, I was going to say… there is so much sorrow in this episode, so much. It is heart breaking.

    Like

  36. [Note: Ollie posted this comment on April 27, 2009.]

    Guido – I have to say that Xander’s wrecking ball was just too frickin cool for me to notice the lack of realism. I can easily suspend my disbelief for a moment so cool, and perfect for the character of Xander, and how much he has grown that season. The crane is symbolic of his new direction in life, with a real career, the direction he was lacking back in Restless. It’s only with that direction and purpose that he can fight the Big Bad. It’s interesting to note that the last time he played a role like this was in Graduation Day, where he is the General. Back then, he has a vague function in the Scooby Gang that he clings on to – he’s Army Guy. A role which he loses to Riley in season four, and loses his direction in life. But now he’s found a new role – Construction Guy, with a big crane.

    God, this episode is incredible. When you can get complex analysis out of a crane, you know there’s great writing about. I can’t even begin to write about the bigger issues at stake in this episode, but it’s just too good. Wonderful episode, great review.

    Like

  37. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 12, 2009.]

    I don’t understand why everyone is so surprised that Giles killed Ben. As he said, he swore a long time ago to protect this sorry world. If he was willing to kill Dawn to save it, he’d certainly be willing to kill Ben, knowing that as long as Ben lives, Glory lives. And as long as she lives, she’ll have to brain-suck innocents to keep her sanity. So that means Ben has to die. And Buffy won’t do it, so Giles will.

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  38. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on September 10, 2009.]

    My favourite quotation:

    “OK campers, it’s almost stab time!”

    I think this might be my favourite episode

    Like

  39. [Note: Huh posted this comment on September 22, 2009.]

    Regarding the Buffy being able to fight Glory issue, wasn’t the magic separating Glory and Ben was fading and causing her to become more and more human? Then there was the Dagon Sphere and Willow’s magic like the others mentioned. I haven’t watched the episodes in over 5 years, but that’s what I remember.

    What bothered me was Buffy’s inability to take on the uber-Vamp thing and Caleb and then suddenly being able to do both later in S7.

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  40. [Note: Mandy posted this comment on October 7, 2009.]

    Was anyone else a tiny bit disturbed when Spike said ‘Blood is what keeps you going. Keeps you alive. Keeps you hard,”

    Is he meaning ‘hard’ in the strong’ sense or the physical?

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  41. [Note: Thrupcat posted this comment on October 14, 2009.]

    I think Spike means “hard” in the sexual way. This is who Spike is … I find it quite bold of Whedon that he has Spike say something like that. It’s totally in character, yet, of course, kind of repelling, even if it is true (that this is what blood also does).

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  42. [Note: Nix posted this comment on October 14, 2009.]

    I strongly suspect that the magic separating Glory and Ben wasn’t *fading*: it was being *broken down*. That’s the Key’s purpose: to break down walls (sort of like a wrecking ball). It makes sense that it’s breaking down the wall between Glory and Ben, even inactive: Glory’s spending a lot of time very close to it, after all, and it’s fearfully powerful: it makes sense that it has some effect even in its inactive state. (Note that the breakdown only starts when Glory finally captures Dawn. Before that there’s no sign of it.)

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  43. [Note: Ben posted this comment on February 11, 2010.]

    The biggest issue I had with this episode was that they said that as long as Dawn’s blood was flowing, the portal would stay open. How does Buffy’s sacrifice stop Dawn’s blood from flowing?

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  44. [Note: joe posted this comment on March 1, 2010.]

    Ben: I think the idea was that the portal would THINK that it was Dawn, and that Dawn was dead, because she was constructed using Buffy as a blueprint–they have “the same” blood. So when Buffy dies, her “blood” stops, and the portal closes.

    To me, though, it’s not that important–the fact that Buffy’s arc comes full circle here is way more worth dwelling on. Valid question, though.

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  45. [Note: thedancingslayer posted this comment on March 21, 2010.]

    This would have to my favourite Buffy episode!

    I downloaded the score for this episode on my Ipod and decided to listen to it on the bus…

    I cried like a baby and got weird looks on the way home :O

    I really don’t see how anyone could NOT cry during this episode.

    Like

  46. [Note: Mark posted this comment on April 23, 2010.]

    I remember watching this episode almost 10 years ago and feeling really really sad at the time, and I have since bought the entire series on DVD so I’ve seen this episode numerous times. But today, April 24, 2010, I watched “The Gift” again and, man! I got teary! And I’m not afraid to say that, even being a man. I love this series, it is without my favourite of all time, and episodes like “The Gift” are the reason why. Amazing, sad, beautiful, funny…that sums up “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”.

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  47. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 19, 2010.]

    This is my favorite episode of all-time. So stunningly dramatic and action packed, it’s just flat-out amazing.

    Like

  48. [Note: C posted this comment on August 27, 2010.]

    Just recently discovered your reviews, and today I find myself wondering how I could have lived without them – thanks for the excellent work! πŸ™‚

    One really amazing detail that always gets to me is that in this episode Spike and Buffy talks while Buffy is moving away from him and up the stairs, which can be seen as a metaphor for her journey towards death and “heaven”. When they meet again in “After Life” (6×1), she is moving down the stairs and towards him. She is now moving towards him, soon qiving in to the temptation of his life in the shadows, which she refused in S5…

    That’s how I see it anyway… Especially since I’m a Bruce Springsteen fan (Up the stairs.. Into the fire πŸ™‚ ) Thanks once again!

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  49. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 27, 2010.]

    C, the stairway connection with “After Life” is something I’ve certainly made note of, but I love your take of it. Thanks for the kind words and the comment. πŸ™‚

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  50. [Note: C posted this comment on August 29, 2010.]

    Yeah, I read your review, what I meant was how amazing I think this detail is πŸ™‚

    Didn’t mean to steal your glory πŸ˜› I’ll keep reading your reviews, your insight adds a much valued zest to my favourite time of day – my-daily-Buffy-episode-time!

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  51. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 29, 2010.]

    No glory stolen! I’m only one guy and I can’t see everything. I love finding new little details about this wonderfully textured series even if I’m not the one that finds it. πŸ˜€

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  52. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 2, 2010.]

    This may be totally obvious, but no one’s explicitly mentioned it, so I will: There’s an interesting misunderstanding or misparsing by Buffy of the First Slayer’s “death is your gift”. When she first hears it, and for several episodes afterwards, I think she interprets this as “causing death is your gift”. One way of seeing the transformational moment at the very end, when she makes peace with her fate, is that she reinterprets of the statement, from “[others’] death is your gift”, to “[your] death is your gift”. Everything clicks into place, and she realizes not only what she has to do, but what she can choose to do.

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  53. [Note: Theresa posted this comment on September 8, 2010.]

    As a mature (57!) fan of Buffy I have just found this site and am working through the reviews. Can I say how good this site is, I have picked up on so many details, continuity, character development, etc which had passed me by; great stuff!

    Giles’s killing of Ben I found quite shocking, but a necessary evil, and perhaps a kindness to Ben – how could he have lived a normal life with Glory always fighting to get out? Question, though – do the others know what he did? and if not, what do they think happened to Ben? Does Buffy not ask, when she returns from the dead?Ben is after all, basically as innocent as Dawn, a vehicle for a creature he can’t control. It’s understandable that he wants to live, and will consider Dawn’s death to be his price.

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  54. [Note: Kat posted this comment on September 19, 2010.]

    I just found this website and god do I love it! I’m such a Buffy nut because it creates all these wonderful discussions.There’s a lot of metaphors and symbolism and it’s rather entertaining and interesting to try and figure out what it all means. This is by far one of the best reviews/analyses I’ve read about the Gift. I NEVER picked up on the staircase thing nor the idea that as the sun was setting this was supposed to be the first “day” in her after-life. Just phenomenal!

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  55. [Note: Dimitri posted this comment on November 10, 2010.]

    Wow, your reviews are great.

    They helped me understand so much more. A lot of the forshaddowing just went by and I could definately use some info on the Faith/Buffy dream sequences and geez, Restless!

    I wanna give kudos to Anya for pushing Xander away and taking the shitload of bricks that fell right down on her.

    Overall S5 is my favorite Buffy season. So much emotion and depth. The Body was amazing, I went through that so it really got me.

    Getting a bit og topic now =)

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  56. [Note: dr. horrible posted this comment on November 13, 2010.]

    Perfect episode- and perfect previously on buffy the vampire slayer. I’m surprised no one’s mentioned it before. Everything Buffy’s experienced blurs together, fight after fight, monster after monster faster and faster until it’s a dizzy, insane speed. It gets us right into Buffy’s head.

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  57. [Note: yippers6 posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    the faces at the end were priceless and xander was holding anya she leaned her head back so she couldn’t see and xander was just staring into space, willow and tara were crying, dawn the last time we saw here was almost crying (or she was i’m not sure) and looked disgusted and annoyed when buffy jumped, giles was staring too and spike was actually crying and he also fell on his knees (i think) please correct me if i messed something up on here.

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  58. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    Mike, you misspelled “mesmerizing” in the review. :-p

    Other than that, a great review for a great episode. It nails all the things I really love about it. And that’s a lot of things. I just saw it for the second time and… well, let’s just say it hadn’t gotten over-hyped in my mind. Just as powerful as the first time, now with an additional layer of appreciation of just how it will tie in with what comes next.

    When Buffy is fighting behind the magic shop, when everyone is desperately planning inside, when the Scoobies march to battle, when all hell breaks loose… I’m right there with them emotionally, with all of them, all of the time. Every single minute of the episode.

    God I love this one. I think that now I’ve seen both of them twice I’m pretty sure it even beats out “Becoming part 2.” (Also because it doesn’t have a song-ending. Beck’s score is so much better. Thanks for pointing out how much it contributes, Mike.)

    On a more negative note, part of what made me appreciate this episode even more the second time around is knowing how it will all end with Chosen. In that episode I kept being yanked out of my suspension of disbelief and grimacing as yet another plot point was pulled out of the writers’ collective arses and the characters were so much harder to relate to and didn’t develop all that much. Well, arguably Willow but I didn’t like that development either. Mike, you adore Whedon for not pulling a cheap trick to beat Glory and I wholeheartedly agree. Yet a whole series of cheap tricks is just what is pulled in “Chosen.” Watching “the gift” again is a relief in comparison because this time I get to mentally cheer at every new twist of the plot, every bit of character development. (And there’s a lot.) I don’t necessarily wish “Buffy” had ended in season 5 as a lot of wonderful stuff came after, but I wish season 7 had been half as suspenseful and momentous as season 5. I wonder what I’ll make of “Chosen” this time when I get there on my re-watch.

    Anyway, enough of that. If an finale where I already know what is going to happen can nonetheless make wince at every hammer blow and cheer at the same time, and make me mentally yell at Spike not to be tricked by the Doc, and at Buffy to be quicker and get up that tower first, or not to jump even though I know she has to, and on some level wants to… then that says enough about how good it is.

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  59. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    Iguana, my polish pass will eventually make it here and clean up that dreaded typo!

    I think you’ll find yourself more impressed by both Season 6 and Season 7 the second time around (even though they still both have their flaws). While neither of them can really touch how tight Season 5 was, I feel they’re both significantly better when one revisits them and is able to more easily piece together their underlying themes and character arcs.

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  60. [Note: Niko posted this comment on January 30, 2011.]

    Masterful episode. I was sobbing so bad by the end, even though I had watched the series before and knew what was coming. Now that I’m older it hits so much harder, understanding everything about life and death and love….amazingly powerful and poignant episode. Joss Whedon and staff are incredible, the characters they’ve created are much more than that; they become like family. I’ve lost several people in real life, and as silly as it may sound, Buffy’s death emotionally had a much more powerful response in terms of outward uncontrollable sadness than anything. Words cannot fully express how much I love and am thankful for this series and everyone involved. This show proved that television shows can be much more than “a program on the idiot box that saps brain cells and wastes time”.

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  61. [Note: xfactor posted this comment on August 17, 2011.]

    How can a review be so right and so wrong at the same time? The Gift deserves your praise and its elite rating. But the remarks about Dawn are so wrong that it makes me wince. The high points of this very average mixed bag season have occurred in spite of Dawn, not because of her. This show was teetering on the edge of the shark jump in season 4 with the Riley/Initiative disaster and BAM…the jump happened with the ridiculous insertion of Dawn and then expecting longtime fans of this series to actually care about this character…ugh…why should any of us care about Dawn? What did the writers do to EARN that emotional investment?

    It is a testament to SMG and the writers though that even in spite of the disaster that was Dawn, that they still managed to crank out some amazing moments of television. That scene with Buffy and Giles. Wow. Now THAT relationship is the ones we fans care about. THAT is the relationship that has EARNED our investment.

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  62. [Note: Dave posted this comment on August 17, 2011.]

    Totally agreed, xfactor. Dawn felt far too forced and contrived to give Buffy a reason to jump at the end. If Buffy hadn’t had to jump, Dawn could effectively have not existed; the character is weak and the acting is weaker.

    That’s my feeling on the matter, anyhow.

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  63. [Note: dml1980 posted this comment on August 24, 2011.]

    You know, had it not been for you, Mike, I never would have started watching this series. And boy, am I glad I did, as Joss created something truly special with Buffy. For me, this season was the highlight of the entire series, as it was a perfect mixture of action, sharp humor, and relevant themes, but more importantly, this was where I really grew to love all of the characters, especially Buffy. I think the moment she jumped into the portal confirmed my belief that she is, and always will be, one of television’s greatest characters.

    Thank you for all of your hard work on this site. Your reviews are really beautifully written, and it’s especially fun to read the numerous other responses to those reviews. One more thing: thank you a thousand times over for getting me hooked on this show. ^_^

    Like

  64. [Note: meh posted this comment on October 9, 2011.]

    A good episode, all in all, but there is something in here of the Star Trek reset-button. I mean, you have that Hammer of the Gods thing, and it’s a wonderful weapon, probably even more powerful than the scythe of season 7, yet we never, ever see it again. I would like to have seen the effect it would have, probably even Caleb would find it quite unpleasant. But because it works, it vanishes.

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  65. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 9, 2011.]

    The hammer is one of many tools the group uses to take Glory down. I certainly don’t place that much emphasis on that one tool. Many things came together all at once to weaken Glory. Frankly, if Willow hadn’t weakened her right from the start (not to mention the orb), I doubt the rest would have done much.

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  66. [Note: meh posted this comment on October 10, 2011.]

    I completely agree with you, that the hammer wasn’t the only weapon, and that without weakening her beforehand, even the hammer might not even make her flinch. But the fact remains, it was a formidable weapon even against a weakened Hellgod, so imagine what it would do to something less powerful, even an uber-vamp or Caleb, let alone a regular demon or vampire. But it was forgotten. In that sense, it was the first “Excalibur-like” special weapon of the series, but it was never mentioned again.

    I mean, I get why; even Superman has his kryptonite and you can’t make your hero too strong. But still, in a show where almost no details get lost, and even the most minor details usually foreshadow something or other, it seems very un-Buffy to let something like that slide.

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  67. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 10, 2011.]

    I guess it just doesn’t bother me that much. Beyond rare cases Buffy has always enjoyed using the simple weapons (mostly stakes, some axes, some crossbows; not, say, wooden bullets) to do her job. I mean, besides a gag in “Him,” the rocket launcher in “Innocence” never appeared again too. It’s just not Buffy’s style on a day-to-day basis. Plus, I just didn’t really have that high an impression of the hammer. It seemed like a slightly more powerful weapon than if Buffy just swung a regular super-wide hammer. *shrugs* Just not a big deal to me, regardless.

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  68. [Note: Alex posted this comment on October 11, 2011.]

    I agree with both of you. It wouldn’t have been right to keep the hammer in the show after ‘The Gift’. No one wants to see Buffy smacking all the bad guys with a hammer from now on. At the same time, though, it might have been nice for completeness if we’d seen the hammer get lost or destroyed rather than simply never getting mentioned again.

    I guess that’s always a problem when you introduce something powerful into the show, which could potentially solve a lot of problems, and we the audience sometimes have to accept that a good story is more important than completely airtight continuity. I sometimes feel the same way about some of Willow’s spells. She’ll sometimes use a spell in one episode, but then it’s never mentioned again even when it could potentially have been useful. The one which I usually notice the most is the ‘locator spell’, which she uses a lot, but sometimes we still have episodes where the gang are running around trying to find someone with no mention of using the spell.

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  69. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 11, 2011.]

    [quote][W]e the audience sometimes have to accept that a good story is more important than completely airtight continuity.[/quote]While I agree with this statement, I wanted to point out that there’s a very distinct difference between plot continuity and character continuity. Buffy is just decent at the former, but it’s exceptional at the latter. Not to imply that you don’t understand that, Alex, but it’s something I feel a lot of fans don’t distinguish well.

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  70. [Note: salmon_lox posted this comment on October 31, 2011.]

    It’s not really important, but I can make a case for the hammer’s disappearance. Remember that Buffy was the only one who could lift the hammer, not even Spike could do it (a disproportionate difference in strength if you ask me- unless the hammer can only be wielded by a bonafide champion, which Spike is still far from at this point. But that is all a separate discussion). So, with Buffy dead, I imagine they had no choice but to leave the hammer at the construction site. Maybe Xander could have used the crane or something, but that would be a little far-fetched.

    After Buffy is resurrected, of course, she’s much too preoccupied to remember the hammer, and she really didn’t have any need for it throughout Season 6; she’s certainly not going to use it on the Trio or Willow. By the time Caleb arrives in Season 7, I’d say enough time has passed that she had forgotten about it. I forget what happens to Glory’s tower after Bargaining Pt. 2, but let’s say it collapsed, burying the hammer. It was a useful tool against Glory, but a bit overkill for much of Buffy’s regular activities.

    By the way, another fantastic review, Mike. I really love your site, and the reviews are a good companion piece to the rather academic viewing of the series I am currently undertaking.

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  71. [Note: OrzBrain posted this comment on January 13, 2012.]

    It’s actually very easy to explain what happened to the Hammer — the same thing that happened to Glory/Ben’s body. See, the Scooby gang was too depressed after Buffy died to do more than carry her body off and herd the crazy people back to the hospital. And they left the Hammer there, lying beside Ben’s body.

    After the gang was gone some of Glory’s bumpy minions snuck back and took Ben’s body for proper burial rites / an attempt at a resurrection. One of the bumpy minion shaman types had the others bring the Hammer, since it had tasted Glory’s blood and hence was sanctified / might be useful in a resurrection spell.

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  72. [Note: BGAP posted this comment on March 6, 2012.]

    Echoing a couple of comments above…I LOVED the opening montage of clips from all of the previous seasons, as a ‘it all….leads up….to this’ start to the episode. In a way, it was as if the life of the show was passing in front of our eyes before it ended. That and other elements in the finale gave me a feeling that this was going to be the last episode of the series. Everything is wrapped up so well at the end with all of character arcs across this season and series (beyond of course, the obvious, ‘is Buffy dead for good?’ which works equally well as a cliff hanger, or a ‘she sacrificed herself so that others may live’ tragic ending) Is anyone familiar enough with the production history to recall if there was doubt that the show would come back for a sixth season?

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  73. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 6, 2012.]

    There was a lot of doubt, BGAP. “The Gift” was intended to be the series finale. The show had effectively been cancelled by The WB, the network it was on. It was only a pickup by UPN very late in the fifth season (if I recall) that kept the show alive for another two years. My specifics here might not be rock solid, but I think that’s the general timeline.

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  74. [Note: Alex posted this comment on March 6, 2012.]

    There’s also the fact that this was the 100th episode, so the ‘special’ introduction would still have made sense even if this hadn’t been intended as the series finale.

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  75. [Note: BGAP posted this comment on March 6, 2012.]

    Thanks, MikeJer. It’s always interesting to consider the influence of production realities on the story. Along those lines, it felt forced whenever Angel made an appearance in the show over the last couple of seasons, with dialogue referring to action and plot on AtS. Seems to be more about promotion for his show rather than anything crucial to the BtVS story. I can imagine the money people going to the writers and demanding they add in bits for him, as a reminder for the audience to watch Angel. That said, his appearance at the end of ‘Forever’ was sweet and felt appropriate.

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  76. [Note: BGAP posted this comment on March 6, 2012.]

    Good point, Alex. Also, the introductory montage and the final image of the gravestone frame the episode in a way that is genius. If you cut from the opening to the last shot, it would work as a visual ‘In Memoriam,’ to the show and to Buffy.

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  77. [Note: VeloxMortis posted this comment on April 2, 2012.]

    I think that I may have found a plot hole. When Buffy died in “Prophecy Girl” in season 1, it activated Kendra, who in turn activated Faith. In “The Gift” Buffy dies again, but who is the third slayer? This is either not written upon or forgotten.

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  78. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on April 2, 2012.]

    I think, as Buffy died and then krenda the prophecy lies with Faith. Have you read the Christopher Golden book the Lost Slayer? He explains sort of…Buffy is THE slayer; first called and did the unexpected, made friends and with them cheated death. When Faith dies a new slayer would be called. This is mentioned in the book The Lost Slayer, a new slayer called August is called even though Buffy is alive but lost. This goes the same way in the series in view, Buffy is lost to the council when she quits in season 3 and with Faith already called when she dies in The Gift there is already a slayer.

    Buffy in all her glory messed up the councils grand order with Xander’s help and CPR.

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  79. [Note: Craig posted this comment on June 28, 2012.]

    I really just wish they gave The Doc a credible motivation. Maybe he didn’t realize the extent of what the ritual would do? Maybe he thought that, like Ben, he would be given power and privilege by Glory when she returned to her dimension? It was just unclear. He was very cool and creepy as a villain, but I wanted to know why he did what he did.

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  80. [Note: Craig posted this comment on June 28, 2012.]

    Also, VeloxMortis, the rules of slayership only consider one active slayer at a time. Buffy is the only slayer to have died and been brought back to life. As soon as she died in Prophecy Girl, she was never again the “active” slayer; the “active” slayer was Kendra and then Faith. This is the only time in slayer history that there have been two people at once who have slayer power, but still only Kendra and then Faith are considered the slayer.

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  81. [Note: Peter posted this comment on December 17, 2012.]

    I watched this episode last night and man it was amazing total agree with your review Mikejer, Also when Dawn says ” the hardest thing in this world is to live in it” she also repeats that in season 6 “once more with feeling” when talking to buffy at the end after she reveals about being taken from Heaven. Nice connection I think.

    Also Anya says to beat a god use the weapon of a god , how is olaf the troll a god ???

    Lastly I love the 2 follow on seasons but does anyone think if they had ended Buffy at season 5 it would have been superb ?

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  82. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on December 20, 2012.]

    “Us?” Oh that was great. If I were female, I’d have a massive crush on Giles. Then again, Spike also has his moments. Joss, what are you doing to me? That hammer looked faker than a 2nd grader’s Halloween costume. The fight scene was classic Buffy, clever and hokey, great comic book fun.It must be only me, but I found Buffy dying in The Wish at the hands of The Master to be sadder than her death in The Gift. No, really. This gift saved a world, not to mention Dawn. Whereas Buffy’s death — and life — in The Wish was wasted. A death without meaning, following a life without meaning. Shiver.An excellent episode, of course. Good review by Mike.

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  83. [Note: Summer posted this comment on January 1, 2013.]

    Great review, great comments. I agree with Giles but that wasn’t the point of the episode. We see Buffy fights to the death for the people she loves. She has a blind focus when it comes to protecting them. She’s like a pitbull. It used to be like this for her boyfriends. Now it’s like this for Dawn. I agree with those who said that we didn’t really have the time to truly care for Dawn. She’s never been my favorite and everything would have been solved if Buffy pushed her in the pit but… I care about Buffy and since she cared so fiercely for Dawn then I cared about her too. So I think that’s where they earned the sacrifice.The “previously” was probably my favorite part. And then Buffy slaying a vampire as “just a girl”But I wanna know what happened to the dragon. When the portal opened and the worlds started colliding… that was the coolest part. Especially the dragon!I thought the blood and Glory’s weakness was explained pretty well. Not only were they hitting her with everything they got but the wall between her and Ben was really breaking down, making her weaker. Luckily, it happened in the nick of time.

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  84. [Note: Gon posted this comment on February 21, 2013.]

    The problems I have with this episode are pretty much the same I have with season 5 as a whole. They’re difficult to explain, but I’ll try to do it the best I can (English is not my language).

    1) (MONO)TONE

    I love the opening scene: Buffy saves a dorky boy in a very lightly and still powerful way, while saying very funny and still deeply lines. As MikeJer put it, the scene “is meant to remind us of where the show came from, of a time when one vampire fight was considered a big deal.” So, of course the tone from this scene is really different from the tone of the rest of the episode. I actually see this scene as an auto-homage

    Buffy is in another period of her life, the show is in another period of it’s existence. That’s normal. But why then would I hear Buffy asking the viewer “missed me?” in that opening scene? Because here’s the problem for me: as I go back to the Magic Shop with Buffy I feel I’m being pushed back to the season. And I feel the weight of it right away.

    I’m gonna say it: I don’t like S5 so much. Normally S5 is considered to be perfect because everything is so tied up, one episode calls another. I agree with that, I recognize that, but I just don’t appreciate it. It tires me, I find it is heavy and, in a way, soap-style. I prefer S4 by far: the main arc is horrible, some episodes are bad, but I find a variety of tones and structure I don’t find in S5. S5 has it’s tone and hardly allows itself to escape from it (although the most memorable episode, “The Body”, manage to do so). I find this aspect of S5 very contrieving. And that’s why the opening scene works for me so well; it reminds me Buffy can work with other tones too. S6, wich is considered by many as heavy and monothematic, is not hooked to a single tone, I think, and it doesn’t tire me at all.

    2)DIDSCALIC TALKING

    Me too, I love character development, that’s more important for me than the plot of the episode. But what I love must about Buffy is how supernatural situations make normal characters feel and grow in a way we can reate to. So the plot is important for the character development.

    I don’t like so much when characters just tell the audience how they’re feeling and growing. This is, for me, another probem with “The Gift”, mostly in the Magic Shop scenes. Of course these are not bad dialogues but I find them too explicit. I’ve seen “Becoming Pt 2” today too – what a difference! The situations, and the way characters react to them, talk for themselves. We get so much from the characters (Willow and Xander in the hospital, Giles with Drusilla/Jenny, Buffy vs Angel)and they don’t have to explain a thing. That’s why, in my opinion, it is way superior to “The Gift”.

    Now, I agree the last sequence is superbe. Buffy’s sacrifice is intense and beautiful. The grave’s inscription really touch me (again, because it’s not monotone). But I feel Buffy’s speech to Dawn was really unnecessary. The action speaks for itself. The line “you have to be strong” just annoys me terribly (you have no idea how!). That is such a clichΓ©! Do we really needed to hear that?

    3) DAWN IS A TEENAGER, NOT A CHILD

    Then there’s Dawn. Another problem this episode and S5 share. I mean, I think the story of key-becoming-sister in the paper is great. And I want to like Dawn. I understand what MikeJer says: “Dawn is willing to do what Ben could not: sacrifice herself for the world. How can you not love this girl right now? Shame on you if you don’t!”. Well, the thing is: a lot of people don’t. So, does this mean they’re all heartless?

    I think the main problem is that when the creators decided to create a little sister for Buffy to take care of, they should have searched for a real kid. Seeing an innocent kid in that scene would’ve been heart taking. But the fact is I don’t see Michelle Trachtenberg as an innocent child, I see her as an adolescent. A teenager in peril would have worked for a show like “The X Files”. But this is Buffy: a show about teenagers having power! I really believe that’s the problem. If Dawn was 8 or 9 years old, ok, it would have been plausible. I might love her not just in theory and fear for her wel-being. Here, in this episode, with MT screaming? She just really annoys me. I’m sorry, I can’t feel pity for her. (I also think MT’s acting doesn’t help, but tht’s another story).

    4) UNCLEAR MEANING OF BUFFY’S SACRIFICE

    I’ve read MikeJer analyse on the “death wish”. If I understand, you’re saying Dawn is Buffy’s tie to the world, the one that prevents the “death wish” and that, if she’s gone, the “death wish” will prevail. But one might say that the “death wish” prevails anyway, like in every other slayer.

    Buffy was talking about “quiting” with Giles in the Magic Shop (that word reminds me of “Prophecy Girl”) and at the end she decides to quit. She’s doing it to save Dawn, apparently, but she’s leaving Dawn unprotected, because she know there won’t be another slayer to take her place: Faith is gone or in prison (I don’t remember “Angel”) and she’s not reliable anyway. So, Buffy is leaving all Sunnydale (and Dawn!) alone in the dark. Saying “you have to be strong” won’t do a thing. If Willow wouldn’t have bring Buffy back, Sunnydale might be taken by evil forces (like in “The Wish”). This is my problem with her sacrifice: I don’t find it clear, I don’t trust it’s pure intentions. It seems to me as “quiting”, and this idea is somehow reinforced by Buffy’s feelings when she is brought back to the world.

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  85. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on February 21, 2013.]

    If she hadn’t “quit,” Dawn would have died then and there, either by sacrificing herself or when the world ended. Buffy’s sacrifice gave Dawn a chance to live, which was more than she would have had otherwise.

    And Dawn is supposed to be 14. An 8th grader is very, very much a child, even if she doesn’t seem as much like one because of how young the rest of the non-Giles cast is. My little brother is in 8th grade and he is just a kid, so I don’t really buy into the idea that the ending isn’t effective due to Dawn’s age.

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  86. [Note: Alex posted this comment on February 22, 2013.]

    Totally agree with StakeAndCheese about Dawn still being a child. I have a younger brother too, incidentally. It really bugs me when people complain that Dawn acts too young because I think fourteen *is* very young.

    Yes, there are some super-cool, mature fourteen year olds out there who dress older and perhaps act more like adults, but there are also plenty of dorky, awkward gangly ones who are still very child-like and enjoy ‘childish’ things. I was definitely in the latter category – when I look at photos of myself at 14 I’m really taken about by how childish I look. Dawn maybe isn’t as street-wise or mature as Buffy was at sixteen (and that’s still two years older than Dawn is now!) but her immaturity is really nothing out of the ordinary.

    I think we’re just so used to seeing teenagers on TV played by much older actors, who talk and behave much more like the twenty-somethings that they really are than the teenagers they’re supposed to be, that we can’t handle a fourteen-year-old actually being played by a fourteen-year-old!

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  87. [Note: Gon posted this comment on February 22, 2013.]

    Let me be clear, I’m not saying 14 year old is not a child. I’m saying that, in this show – that started with 16-year-old Buffy, 16-year-old Willow and 16-year-old Xander fighting demons and vampires and watching friends die – a 14-year-old teenager doesn’t really work as “kid that must be protected” so good. As I said, if she was 8 or 9, it would have worked much better to me.

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  88. [Note: StakeandCheese posted this comment on February 23, 2013.]

    But remember how heartbreaking Prophecy Girl is when Buffy decides to sacrifice herself? Dawn is doing the same thing, albeit without a prophecy to guide her, when she’s two years younger. And a 14 year old is a lot closer emotionally to a 12 year old than a 16 year old.

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  89. [Note: Gon posted this comment on February 23, 2013.]

    You’re wright. Again, I think in theory this is heartbreaking and I really wish I could be moved by that gesture. But the sad true is that I’m not. Neither are most of the viewers.

    Dawn is a very hated character and her story is also very hated. I don’t hate Dawn and, as I said, in theory I love her S5 arc. But on screen she just doesn’t work for me, never did. So, I just thought and thought this over and the only explanation I find is this one: she doesn’t work because I don’t see her as a kid while everyone is trying to convince me of this. I’m not saying, again, that at 14 you’re no longer a kid, I’m saying this Dawn doesn’t look a kid to me.

    You put Prophecy Girl 16-year-old Buffy with The Anointed One? I see one teenager and a kid. You put The Gift 19-year-old with Dawn? I see two teenagers, not a teenager with a kid. I’m sorry, really am, but this is what I see. Of course The Anointed One is much younger, but I can’t think of another example fro this show.

    But, oh, have you seen My So-Called Life? Now, there I see some teenagers (Angela and her friends) with a kid (Angela’s sister). If you haven’t seen that show, just google “My So-Called life cast”. You can spot the kid immediatly. Then you google “Buffy season 6 cast”, you get the promo pictures (those without Giles). Ask to anyone who doesn’t know a thing about Buffy what they see. People will say: a bunch of teenagers, and not a bunch of teenagers with a kid.

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  90. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 23, 2013.]

    Just because Dawn doesn’t “look” like a kid to you (fair enough) doesn’t mean she isn’t one emotionally. Heck, most 18 year-olds I’ve known are still emotionally a child. They may have an adult body, but they still act like children. So while I get why the scenario here doesn’t work for you, I can’t say I agree with it. Regardless, Dawn looks like a child to me anyway, at least until Season 7. But, you know, each to their own. πŸ™‚

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  91. [Note: Alex posted this comment on February 26, 2013.]

    I do understand what you mean, Gon. You make an interesting point about how the show’s generally centred around a teenager who routinely face all kinds of peril and manages to kick its butt, so it doesn’t necessarily follow that Dawn’s youth means she can’t look after herself. And all you’re really saying is that it doesn’t work for you, which is of course totally fair enough.

    The way I see it, though, is that Buffy and Joyce have always tried to keep Dawn very much apart from the whole Slayer scene and give her a ‘normal’ upbringing. Obviously that’s not worked, but I do think Dawn has been brought up as very much the ‘baby’ of the family and not been given any of the responsibility that Buffy’s had. Buffy expresses her frustration about that in ‘Real Me’, but in reality I don’t think she’d ever want it to be any different. She wants Dawn to be a normal kid, and not be forced to grow up the way that Buffy (or even Willow or Xander) had to. That’s why it’s so heartbreaking that Dawn ends up having to make the same choice that Buffy did all those years ago – Buffy never wanted her fourteen-year-old sister to have that kind of burden on her shoulders.

    I guess perhaps a younger actress could have driven the point home a little better, but then we wouldn’t have been able to see Dawn grow into a young woman as she does in S6 and S7.

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