Buffy 7×05: Selfless

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Drew Goddard | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 10/22/2002]

Season 7, in general, does an admirable job using six years of back-story and character development to define the positions and actions that are taken in the critical situations that arise in it. There is no better example of this than the textured perfection of “Selfless.” All of my frequent readers will know very well how critical I am about nuanced and constant character connection. So it probably won’t come as a huge surprise to any of you that this episode is a blissful experience for me. It’s a brilliant late-series character piece that proves, despite what you’ll hear elsewhere, this series still has some steam left in it.

I’m one to rarely get on a soap box and stake my claim, but after many years participating in the Buffy community, I have to formally stand up and defend Season 7 from the relentlessly excessive hate and criticism it garners — much of it directed at the entire season, not just the last half of it. It feels like hardly anyone has anything nice to say, and I’m frankly tired of it. “Selfless,” one of many quality episodes this season, is here to prove that this is a respectable season in this series. Is it flawless? Of course not. Is it even one of the best seasons? No, I don’t think so. But it’s also distanced from the worst seasons and I’m making it my mission to make a case for all the wonderful things it has to offer, while also not shying away from valid criticism, as I hope I’ve always done with this show. My goal has never been to evangelize the series and ignore criticism of it, but rather to simply share why this humble reviewer feels — to this day — that this is a flawed yet uniquely brilliant show, right to the end, and remains my favorite television series.

Now with that off my chest, let’s move on to discussing this wonderful episode. The opening scene sets the stage with Xander’s lingering concern for Anya. He knows there’s no real hope of getting back together, but he still obviously cares for her. He says, “I just worry about her. She seems so sad.” Buffy points out that she doesn’t see “the sad” in Anya, just “a vengeance vibe.” Xander pushes aside her concern far too easily: “That? Nah. She just turned back to what she knows. I really think she’s coming around.” This opening conversation between Buffy and Xander sets up their confrontation later in the episode. Buffy’s looking through slayer-eyes, only seeing the vengeance part of Anya, while Xander is looking through, well, Xander-eyes, or as D’Hoffyrn will call it, “the eyeballs of love.” Anya is somewhere in the middle — definitely getting ramping up her vengeance, but also, deep down, still very regretful and shaken by what she did.

Spike gets an interesting scene thrown in here, as we see him with newfound appreciation for Drusilla’s “insanity.” He goes on, to an imaginary Buffy (the First) that has a white shirt on and a softer look, saying “I don’t trust what I see anymore. I don’t know how to explain it, exactly. It’s like I’ve been seeing things. Dru used to see things, you know? She’d always be staring up at the sky watching cherubs burn or the heavens bleed or some nonsense. I used to stare at her and think she’d gone completely sack of hammers. But she’d see the sky when we were inside and it’d make her so happy. She’d see showers. She’d see stars. Now I see her.” This is nice reflective moment.

Then the real Buffy comes in, in a black shirt, and more harshly tells Spike that the basement is killing him. She says, “This is the hellmouth. There is something bad down here, possibly everything bad … get up, and get out of this basement.” Spike, sadly, just tells her, “I don’t have anywhere else to go.” It’s interesting that the First is giving Spike what he wants while Buffy is giving Spike what he needs. Hmm, I wonder if Drew Goddard is channeling his inner Whedon here. I think the First’s goal is to completely control and use him which, most importantly, prevents him from being the wild card it knows he can be in the coming months.

I really appreciate that Goddard, using the excellent build-up of Willow’s concern about herself and her powers, bothered to show us the validity of everyone’s concerns. When Willow tries to find out what happened from the girl who made the wish in the frat house, the creature Anya summoned attacks her. Naturally, she quickly uses a reflex spell to protect herself, but in the process gets frustrated by the girl’s fright and lashes out at her — obviously backed by the black magic she’s tapped into. Clearly showing the audience what Willow’s been talking about excellently cements the set up to her dilemma this season. Good stuff!

This was hinted at since the end of last season, but Anya has finally initiated a disastrous vengeance event (“What have I done?”). On the way to the inevitable confrontation this will cause, we get to step into the past to see the building blocks of what made Anya into the person she is today. In a nutshell, this is very much Anya’s “Fool for Love” [5×07].

Anya is, at first, clearly quite distressed over what she did. Hallie’s all excited that “Anyanka’s back” and is totally confused as to why Anya isn’t feeling happy about it. Anya thinks she’s just “rusty” and Hallie calls it “a reflex,” and goes on to say, “you’ll get over it in no time. Trust me.” It’s clear that Anya gets some comfort from this conversation, at least until the first wave of consequences comes crashing through the door. Yup, that would be a pissed off Willow, who Anya knows to be very scared of — Willow kicked her ### last season.

Anya’s correct in so far as the frat boys were complete dumb-##### (as they often are) for what they did to that poor girl, but their crime did in no way warrant having their hearts ripped out of their chests. Willow’s genuinely trying to help Anya with the situation, but I can also sympathize with Anya’s response: “You’re here to help? Well that’s great, Willow. Flayed anyone lately, have you? How quickly they forget.” I really like that the characters are not letting Willow off easy for flaying Warren, and they shouldn’t. The problem for Anya is that it’s obvious she’s trying, and failing, to convince Willow, and herself, that these boys “deserved” what they got.

All I’ve discussed so far is the framework around the episode. It’s in the flashbacks, which are used to entertain and help illuminate some of the major moments of Anya’s existence to date, where we really get to the center of what’s going on here. I’m going to spend some time taking a look at each one of these flashbacks in an attempt to point out why I think they are useful. It all begins in the rabbit-filled time of 880, where a very human Anya is in love with her big Olaf.

The scene with Olaf back in 880 is not only totally hilarious and inventive, but also very revealing of Anya’s nature. We see that, back then, she loved rabbits and would “give the excess out to the townspeople, exchanging them not for goods or services, but for goodwill and the sense of accomplishment that stems from selflessly giving of yourself to others.” It’s extremely compelling that, back then, Anya had it right! It was her human flaws that instigated the need to enact vengeance on Olaf and then make a new life based around her pain and insecurities. It’s important to note that Anya’s S7 arc is to find the selflessness inside herself again, while completely releasing herself of the need for vengeance.

Also interesting is that, at Olaf’s first mention of the “bar matrons,” Anya puts on an angry face and questions Olaf’s devotion to her. Even back then, she seems to have had an inherent distrust of men — although with men like Olaf around, it’s not hard to imagine why. Olaf tells Anya, “It’s not hard to imagine why they talk about you. You speak your mind, and are annoying. It’s one of the things I love most about you.” Olaf’s sweet talk clearly works on her, so it seems her distrust is mostly an extension of her worry of being hurt. She tells him, “I simply love you so much.”

The next flashback is a follow-up to the previous one. Anya turned Olaf into a troll — the very thing he was complaining about in the previous flashback. It turns out Olaf did, in fact, sleep with a bar matron. Aside from more excellent comedy, this time coming from the townspeople, the conversation Anya has with an apparently ancient D’Hoffryn is especially note-worthy. It’s fitting that Anya, at that time, is named Aud — pronounced “Odd.” D’Hoffryn, by telling her “Anyanka” is her true self and that her “talents are not fully appreciated here,” is basically offering her what no one else will: a chance to not be odd, but to become vengeance incarnate. Although not the healthiest career choice, at least I can understand her motive behind it.

The 1905 flashback continues to dig into the core of who Anya is, and we can see what the last thousand years have done to her. This seems to be the time period where her vengeance is the most refined. She is a workaholic and takes joy in her job and of seeing the wreckage around her, with not the slightest thought of the lives she is affecting and the damage she is doing. In several of the flashbacks we see instances of destruction happening all around Anya, such as with the falling tree in 880 and the flaming man here in 1905, and she doesn’t seem to notice or care. Although these moments work as pure comedy, I can’t help but feel that they also reflect the very nature of a vengeance demon: to set destruction and death into motion, and then go about your business as the chaos plays out behind you. Hallie tells Anya, “But there’s a whole world out there.” Anya responds, “Yes, filled with wronged women that need my help. Vengeance is what I do, Halfrek. Vengeance is what I am.”

The “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] flashback goes back to Season 6 to further illuminate what was probably one of the happiest moments of Anya existence. Obviously, at this point, she is now human and has fallen in love again, but this time with Xander. As we know, when Xander leaves her at the altar, the cycle begins to repeat itself. Xander even mutters in his sleep, “Just… want… happy… ending.” But even in this idealistically beautiful song, Whedon (who wrote the song) manages to still slip in that sneaky little hint of the failure that was ahead of them: “Although he can be/I’ll never tell.”

When I say the song is “idealistic,” what I mean is that Anya is feeling what is the opposite of what the demon in “Hell’s Bells” [6×16] showed Xander as his nightmare version of their to-be marriage. Instead of a nightmare, though, she’s seeing the overly joyous opposite. Although, as most of my readers will know, I am nowhere near married, I do have several role models in my life that appear to represent what an excellent marriage looks like. It’s not about being blissfully happy at all moments of the day; it’s about hard work and a mix of joy and strife. There’s always going to be struggles, so approaching a marriage with the awareness of that reality, but with the confidence that you’re with the right person to handle it all with, is what makes the union have the potential for so much lasting power and satisfaction.

More than just all the above, though, this song is also very much about Anya’s identity. This is summed up in one of the first lines: “I’m just lately Anya/Not very much to the world, I know/All these years with nothing to show.” Anya’s been around a long time, and is pretty accurate when she says she’s got nothing to show for it, except for a lot of carnage. She then sings a list of specific things she’s good at, but ends with the important question of “who am I?” This is a fundamental theme of all the characters on Buffy, but Anya — once you strip away all the humor and everything she molded, or imprinted, herself into — is the most doll-like among them (yes, that’s a Dollhouse parallel).

Back in early Season 6, she is simply going to “be his Missis.” Aside from the identity theme, the song’s just plain emotionally compelling, as Anya sings about the point of love and marriage, and how “Maybe if you’re lucky/Being a pair makes you twice as tall/Maybe you’re not losing at all/No need to cover up my heart/So maybe love is pretty smart.” I’m, once again, amazed by how continuity-laden and character-rich everything in this episode is, all the way down to the little details. This is a really catchy song that has some substance, a lot of humor, and also pulls at the heart. It’s all very lovely until Whedon does what he does best — pulls your guts out so fast that he leaves you wondering what happened. To accomplish this here, he uses a tool called ‘juxtaposition.’

This episode makes a couple excellent uses of quick-cuts and juxtaposition. The first instance of this is at the end of the scene in 880 with Olaf. He tells Anya, “You are my perfect Aud. I could never want for another … Fear not, sweet Aud, you will always be my beautiful girl.” The scene then abruptly cuts to Anya, in the present, washing the blood off of her hands from the massacre she wrought at the frat house. The best use of this technique, though, comes after the “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] flashback. After hearing Anya sing about the excitement she has for her future with Xander and how happy she is to be alive, the abrupt scene change to seeing her impaled against the wall is just gut-vacating — it just sucked the air right out of me, mouth open in shock. It’s just such a heart-breaking picture to see Anya singing about her future and her love, and then abruptly cut to where she finds herself now — lost and alone inside. These quick-cuts make for some extremely impressive “moments.”

All of these flashbacks are wonderfully used to help inform us of the present. While the episode mostly focuses on Anya, it also spends some quality time looking at what’s being affected around Anya. This leads me to the brilliantly written argument between Buffy and Xander over what to do with Anya.

Xander’s initially exasperated when he finds out from Willow, well after she learned about it, who’s behind the spider demon. Buffy stops Xander because she knows why Willow was hesitant to tell him: Willow knew what Buffy would do, so she tried to intercept and talk Anya down first. Everyone approaches this conversation from their own perspective, which leads to extremely explosive results. Buffy knows it’s time to put Anya down. As the Slayer, with everything that she’s learned over the years, she knows that Anya’s a demon again and has crossed a very important line. Since Buffy has the power to stop her, she will try to. Xander’s coming from the obvious perspective of wanting to protect and help Anya, because he still loves her. Willow acts as the moderator here, as she understands Buffy’s duty — as she articulated to Buffy in “Same Time, Same Place” [7×03] — but she also can relate to Anya now due to the events of last season. It’s extremely compelling, then, to watch this conversation “go” with all these perspectives clashing into each other. I found the results electrifying.

Everyone quickly makes their initial arguments, but things get more interesting when their respective defense mechanisms start kicking in. Buffy makes the case, “she’s the not Anya that you knew, Xander.” Xander desperately tries to convince Buffy not to go as far as killing her. Buffy tells him, “Don’t act like this is easy for me. You know it’s not.” When Buffy tells him that “the thought it might come to this has occurred to me before,” she’s not lying — the evidence is subtly written all over her face during moments in several previous episodes since “Hell’s Bells” [6×16]. Xander, being scrappy and smart, brings up the whole mystical deaths loop-hole and looks to Willow for a potential “out.” It makes sense that Willow doesn’t have that kind of power if we remember how resurrecting just Buffy nearly killed her a year ago. While she’s definitely a lot more powerful now, it’s doubtful she could do it, not that she’d even want to go there again.

Xander doesn’t agree with Buffy’s logic, sarcastically claiming “you’re the Slayer. I see now how it’s all very simple.” Buffy truthfully says, “It is never simple.” This is when Xander, understandably not willing to just lie down and let the person he loves be killed, starts to really pull out all the cards he has to play. He brings up Spike, and how Buffy responded to him, bluntly saying, “You know, if there’s a mass-murdering demon that you’re, oh, say, boning, then it’s all gray area.” I have to admit that Xander has a real point here. Although Buffy throws back that the chip in Spike prevented him from hurting anyone, the fact that Buffy did not dispose of Spike a long time ago is still something that doesn’t sit right with me (as much as I love Spike as a character).

Xander asks if she even thinks about what Anya is going through, to which Buffy says, “I don’t care what she’s going through.” Clearly getting exasperated, Xander doesn’t stop there and really pulls out his personal knowledge of who Buffy is against her, saying “No, of course not. You think we haven’t seen all this before? The part where you just cut us all out. Just step away from everything human and act like you’re the law. If you knew what I felt-” This is when Buffy cuts him off, and responds with hard evidence that she’s not simply selectively putting her own interests above her friends. Xander’s got a convincing argument, but Buffy’s defense, based on years of pain and experience, simply trumps his case. She belts out, “I killed Angel! Do you even remember that? I would have given up everything I had to be with? I loved him more than I will ever love anything in this life. And I put a sword through his heart because I had to. … Do you remember cheering me on? Both of you. Do you remember giving me Willow’s message: ‘Kick his ###.'” This is when Xander gets into serious trouble. Willow appropriately jumps in, “I never said that!”

It’s at this moment — seeing the other shoe drop on that lie back in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] — that Xander’s just lost all high ground and has officially lost the argument. Ouch. But Buffy doesn’t stop there, she goes on to explain further that “It is always different! It’s always complicated. And at some point, someone has to draw the line, and that is always going to be me. You get down on me for cutting myself off, but in the end the Slayer is always cut off. There’s no mystical guidebook. No all-knowing council. Human rules don’t apply. There’s only me. I am the law.” Xander, realizing his argument is dead, can only desperately plea, “there has to be another way.” To Buffy’s credit, she gives him the opportunity to find it, but isn’t going to wait for him.

This entire scene is one that I can only see work on Buffy. No other show that I’ve ever seen before has characters that are this inherently likeable, well-drawn, developed, and defined, let alone having six years of solid character work as foundation and back-story. This scene is pure television bliss for me, where the fact that I’m watching film just isn’t apparent anymore; I’m watching real people having a potentially life-altering argument over an extremely important issue, with all the past uglies, character flaws, and nuanced history being thrown back and forth at each other. It’s a very character-based scene, is continuity-laden, and is one that simply couldn’t work at any other point in the series. For me, this scene represents television writing at its best. Soak it up, snuggle with it, and enjoy it. This is a rare sight to see. Also: a big round of applause to both Nicholas Brendan and Sarah Michelle Gellar for their performances in this scene.

Willow, the third party in this argument, realizes that there’s maybe something she can do about the situation. So, the wonderful Drew Goddard decided to tap into even more continuity by having Willow pull out the talisman that D’Hoffryn gave her back in “Something Blue” [4×09] — ironically as an offer for Willow to become a vengeance demon, which seems thematically relevant to a lot of what’s going on in this episode. Willow summons D’Hoffryn under false pretenses and convinces him to consider the situation a little more. Also, D’Hoffryn is utterly hilarious with his entire introduction: “The flaying of Warren Mears. Truly inspired. That was water cooler vengeance. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall.”

All Xander can do at this point is to try to talk to Anya about the situation, and apologize for his part in whatever led her to it. Although we know she isn’t happy about the situation, Anya’s flippant-y responses reflect her desire to not feel the pain that’s inside her. Anya’s right when she tells Xander that “you’ve always seen what you wanted to. But you knew sooner or later it would come to this.”

I appreciate how the fight between Buffy and Anya is particularly blunt and straight-forward. It’s interesting to note that Anya is the only one making quips during the fight — Buffy’s not in the mood to respond. Anya is still overly flippant about her entire situation, while Buffy is dead serious and obviously not getting any satisfaction over what she has to do. At one point after stabbing her, Buffy gets Anya knocked to the ground and is going in for another stab when, although only a on screen for a couple frames, we see Anya completely letting it happen. In this one moment, Anya’s done. She is really hurting inside and is willing to die for what she did. And this is before D’Hoffryn blows in and offers her the deal. This is why she’s so quick to accept D’Hoffryn’s terms, because she believes it will mean sacrificing herself.

When D’Hoffryn teleports into the action, thereby tossing aside everyone in the room like they’re nothing and following it up by hilariously saying “Oh, don’t mind me. Please continue with whatever it is that you were doing,” he quickly makes some keen observations. He tells everyone, “Look, Miss Rosenberg seems to think Anyanka would be better suited outside the vengeance fold. I think we already know what Lady ‘Hacks Away’ wants. And the young man, he sees with the eyeballs of love. But I’m not sure if anyone’s bothered to find out what Anyanka herself really wants.”

To Anya’s credit, she immediately jumps in and tells him, “I wanna take it back. I wanna undo what I did.” As with everything relating to magic in the Buffyverse, there’s always a price. D’Hoffryn explains, “Hmm. You want to take it back. Must be twelve bodies in there. Such a thing, not easily done. But not impossible. You’re a big girl, Anyanka. You understand how this works. The proverbial scales must balance. In order to restore the lives of the victims, the fates require a sacrifice: the life and soul of a vengeance demon.” Anya, having already made up her mind when she was going to let Buffy kill her, immediately says “do it.”

Anya doesn’t die, though. Halfrek — her best friend through the years — does instead. Hallie’s death is actually far more difficult and painful, character-wise, for Anya to deal with. This is because now she actually has to face herself, as a human and alone, with nothing to fall back on or “cling on to.” D’Hoffryn turns nasty on her, saying “Who did you think you were dealing with? Did you think it would be that easy to get away? … Haven’t I taught you anything, ‘Anya‘? Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain … I’ve got plenty of girls. There will always be vengeance demons. But now you, Anya, you’re out. Congratulations. Your wish is granted.” Anya, crying, says “You should’ve killed me.” And that’s precisely the reason why he didn’t — because that’s what she wanted. Yet, in a clever piece of foreshadowing, D’Hoffryn says, “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that. From beneath you, it devours. Be patient. All good things in time.”

The final scene of the episode provides us with the perfect epilogue to this big moment in Anya’s life. Xander, trying to provide her some amount of comfort, tells her “Whatever’s between us, it doesn’t matter. You shouldn’t be alone in this.” Anya, finally understanding her major character flaw, sets the record straight: “Yes, I should. My whole life, I’ve just clung to whatever came along.” Still, she worries, “Xander? What if I’m really nobody?” He simply replies, “Don’t be a dope.” Anya asks, “I’m a dope?” Xander says, “Sometimes.” Then Anya, really getting it now, responds with not only the final line of the episode, but with the first building block of her new, own, identity: “That’s a start.” Yes, Anya, indeed it is. If I were forced to pick one word to describe what I thought of this episode, it’d be “bliss.”

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Xander telling us that he hasn’t seen Anya “since the night with the Gnarl demon.” Getting a frame of reference in nearly every episode never gets old.
+ All the flashback scenes are just delicious and hilarious.
+ Anya used to love bunnies!
+ Buffy spinning around in her chair with a mug of pencils balanced on her forehead. Wow, she looks like me at work!
+ The flaming man in the background of the St. Petersburg flashback. 🙂
+ Anya being pro-communist back in 1905.
+ The Mustard Man and the Parking Ticket Lady are singing outside of Anya and Xander’s place in the “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07] flashback! Wonderful!
+ Anya references the same maiden name she gave herself in “Checkpoint” [5×12] to decieve the Watchers Council about her demon heritage. She then later, in the same song, refers to it as the “Lame-###-Made-Up-Maiden-Name.” *grin*
+ How genuinely painful it looks when Anya pulls the sword out of her chest. It may not kill Anya, but Emma Caulfield sure sells it well that it really hurt.
+ Although D’Hoffryn is consistently pure comedy gold, we finally get a sample of Anya’s earlier warning about not getting him angry. The guy goes from laughs all around to disquieting fright in an instant. What an impressively dynamic character, especially considering the limited amount of screen time he gets.

– The close-up of the spider demon was acceptable cgi, but it really failed to make me buy it simply because the drops coming out of its mouth didn’t actually land on Buffy. It’s a shame that that little detail took me out of the moment.


Foreshadowing

* D’Hoffryn tells Anya, in response to her saying he should have killed her, “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that. From beneath you, it devours. Be patient. All good things in time.” We all know, of course, that Anya dies in “Chosen” [7×22].


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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140 thoughts on “Buffy 7×05: Selfless”

  1. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Wow Mike, you know you’re spoiling us rotten, right? 🙂

    And a good review, too! This is an excellent episode all the way through. I really like the insight that Anya has, starting with her original human life more than a thousand years ago, always been selfless in both the positive and the negative sense; and I’m glad she finally sets out to find out who she actually is, outside of her job, ideals, relationships.

    And I know many people have trouble accepting that argument among Buffy, Xander and Willow about what’s to be done with Anya now, but like you, I buy it entirely and I think it’s wonderful.

    I think though that it’s a bit unfair to blame only Buffy for not killing Spike, since it very much seems to me that the original decision not to kill him so long as he was chipped and unable to kill was more or less collective. While Xander himself has been fairly hostile toward him all the time, all the girls except for Buffy herself (who was originally pretty damn stake-happy when it came to Spike) have actually been pretty sympathetic and sort of accepted Spike as one the gang, and Giles even tried to appeal to Spike’s hypothetical better nature back in S4 before adopting his pragmatic approach to him. There are a couple of points in S4 and S5 when killing Spike would have been a more than reasonable thing to do, but at those I tend to hear Buffy tell me, “Yeah, you know, I should have and I really wanted to, but the writers forbade me to.” So I blame the writers, not Buffy. 🙂

    Also:

    It’s interesting that the First is giving Spike what he wants while Buffy is giving Spike what he needs.

    Yes, yes, exactly! And poor Spike is confused as hell, as he seems really not to be able to tell who around is real and who isn’t.

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  2. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    I think you’re being too hard on people who criticize S7, mikejer. I know I’ve criticized S7 quite a bit, but I still think that the first third or perhaps even half of the season is as good a run of episodes as any Buffy season started with, and some of my favorite episodes of the series are in S7 (“Selfless”, “Conversations with Dead People”, “Storyteller”, “Lies My Parents Told Me”, “Chosen”). So, the only reason why I criticize S7 is because I like it enough that I consider investigating its flaws to be worth my time. I do think that it is probably the most deeply flawed of any of the series’ full seasons, though. (S6’s flaws are perhaps greater, but the whole sweep of S6 never fails to astound me with its audacity.)

    Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I have to say, your review of “Selfless” has given me a lot of think about. I do have a couple of questions, but perhaps I shall ask those another time. Thanks once again!

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  3. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    WWS, people (not saying you here) don’t generally criticize S7, they spew venomous hate at it — there’s a big difference between the two. I’ve seen people compare S7 to some truly wretched TV shows; I’ve seen them call it awful, abysmal, pure crap, and totally useless.

    No, I don’t think I’m being too harsh on many of S7’s “critics.” This is just me standing up in its defense for a change because I’m fed up with all the hate. S7 is most definitely a flawed season, and you’ll see me point that out in my reviews (like I did with S6). The review even states that I “not [be] shying away from valid criticism.” But, even as a whole, it is a fascinating season with some smart themes and entertaining episodes, and I will not stand aside and watch people throw it in the trash bin anymore.

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  4. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Fair enough. I guess I’ve never really heard some of the hate which you have heard concerning S7; but then again, most of my experience with the online Buffy community has been on this site. But I do think that you are making a bit of sweeping overgeneralization, which is not going to make reasonable critics of S7 (which I consider myself to be–perhaps presumptuously) particularly eager to make their case.

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  5. [Note: Darth Bunny posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Although I love this episode for all the mentioned things, one detail bothers me:

    PROFESSOR: What am I gonna say? ‘No, I don’t want my best student back in my class?’ Well, of course I noticed that drop-off in your grades at mid-term last year, and I was concerned…
    WILLOW: Yeah, that was-
    PROFESSOR: You turned it around and aced all your finals like, boom. Magic.
    WILLOW: Yeah, similar to, but, um…

    Although it’s not stated, it sounds like Willow used magic to pass her finals in season 6. But given the events of last season, I doubt Willow would use her powers in that way.

    Did this occur after she broke up with Tara? Couldn’t be, since she was ‘going cold turkey’. After Tara’s death and her rampage as Dark Willow? Again, highly doubt that she would use magic so casually after that. Someone might suggest that this was before Tara even broke up with her, but the ‘drop off in grades’ indicates that she was going through her magic addiction at that time. I’m having a hard time placing this conversation in with the context of season 6.

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  6. [Note: AaronJer posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    The cut from Anya singing back to “dead stabbed to wall” Anya in reality is utterly heart-wrenching and beautiful. Season 7 manages to have the most impactful scenes throughout the entire series… which is why I can so easily forgive any of it’s flaws.

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  7. [Note: WorldWithoutShrimp posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    That’s a very good point, AaronJer, and I’d say that goes for S6 as well, perhaps even more so–the last two seasons of Buffy, especially S6, had many, many scenes which really hit me emotionally and stayed with me afterward, which is why I’m very happy that the writers didn’t rest on their laurels and just keep doing what they did before. In some ways, the flaws and the greatness were caused by the same impulse, namely, to try something different. So while I may dislike the flaws, I don’t think I’d trade away the S6 and S7 we got for seasons with fewer flaws, but which didn’t aspire to greatness.

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  8. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    WWS: Most of the regulars that visit my site and forums tend to have a much more reasonable outlook on the later seasons than most in the community. The moment you step outside of this site’s community, you’ll quickly begin to see what I’m talking about.

    Also, your point about how the flaws in these seasons are largely a result of the writers taking risks, really rings true for me as well. 🙂

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  9. [Note: jun posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Great review, Mikejer! I love this episode a lot.

    One thing I wanted to point out was about this line:
    Xander even mutters in his sleep, “Just… want… happy… ending.”

    I’ve always taken this as Xander’s sleeptalking admission of guilt in the summoning of Sweet to Sunnydale.

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  10. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Darth Bunny: I think it’s quite justifiable to criticize that bit as unnecessarily unclear writing.

    To decipher things, it would certainly help if we knew when the finals took place, but my best guess is that Willow took the finals after quitting magic and before she and Tara got back together. I think she drowned her sorrows in her studies and just plain did well at the finals, which would actually be typical Willow. Then the drop in her grades that the professor mentions would have been during her “addicted-to-magic” phase and probably partially while she was quitting and having a hard time with it. I think that response of hers is simply due to general feelings of guilt – of course the professor isn’t actually accusing her of using magic to pass the finals, but she can’t help wanting to deny it all the same.

    My second-best guess is that the coven Willow was taken to somehow took care of these things in order to facilitate her return to Sunnydale later.

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  11. [Note: Tom posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Hey Mike, stumbled on to this site when Whedonesque linked your Season 6 overview, and I’ve been hooked since. I agree, Buffy fans in general tend to be overly harsh when it comes to S.7.

    I think the problem stems from people not being happy when a series (or whatever) they enjoy doesn’t end on it’s absolute highest note. They get bitter. Also for some odd reason the internet is like a big hyperbole enabler. Too few people “are dissapointed” with an episode, instead we get declarations of hate and disgust. Oh well.

    All of this is why Season 8 is so heartbreaking for me… at first I took all of the negativity as the classic fan-hate, holding something up to an impossibly high standard. But it just doesn’t feel like BtVS anymore.

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  12. [Note: Nix posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    This series has always used juxtaposition excellently, both visual and aural, but the use of juxtaposition after Anya’s singing scene here harks back to another more subtle moment, in OMWF itself. At the end of Tara’s song (_Under Your Spell_), we cut abruptly away while the song is still going on (though probably on its last few notes). It’s notable that the *only* song that gets cut away from is Tara’s, and the only character who dies that season is Tara.

    I wonder if the cutaway this time (to a scene of apparent death, no less) is another piece of foreshadowing of Anya’s death?

    It’s also notable that Anya’s past explanations for her excessively literal behaviour, that she’d been a demon for a thousand years, are… inaccurate. She was always like that. 🙂

    Finally, the title. I think ‘selfless’ describes Anya, not just in her early days, but throughout her life. She’s like Spike that way: always throwing herself completely and selflessly into some higher goal. In Anya’s case these are abstractions (communitarianism, capitalism, helping-through-vengeance), while in Spike’s they’re specific women, but there’s definitely a similarity there. This may be one reason why they always got on so well: they both understand selflessness.

    (I think D’Hoffryn’s comment about “Haven’t I taught you anything, ‘Anya’? Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain?” was also interesting. Vengeance demons’ wish-granting is supposed, by D’Hoffryn’s lights, to be classic djinn stuff, giving them what they ask for as opposed to what they need, and creatively misinterpreting it so as to do as much harm as possible to both parties, and if possible to everyone else as well. But while Anya may have grasped that in 1905, she’d certainly lost it by now. Her comments about her past demon life, from S4 on, never mention harming the wisher. If she was interested in that once, she’s not anymore. Halfrek certainly still gets it, as _Older And Far Away_ makes clear.)

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  13. [Note: llinnae posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Am I alone in thinking that the cut from singing Anya to stabbed Anya was a memory of hers? I always took it as the vengance demon equivalent of a flashback of life before death, especially since when she opens her eyes she’s now crying. or maybe thats just from the pain of the sword. Not sure, but to me its more effective if she is feeling both kinds of pain. Thinking that she was remembering her former self and comparing it to herself today makes the identity crisis in the last secene even more heartbreaking, IMO.

    I also thought the title “Selfless” was a bit of a play on words: referring to Anya’s changes over the years from being selfless in the caring sense but also referring to the fact that she is lacking a “self”/ identity.

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  14. [Note: Beppe posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    To me, season 7 is heartbreaking because it gives me that “lights are on but nobody’s home” feeling that some great shows of yesteryear (Moonlightning, Northern Exposure) gave me when they were in their final throes. Sure, there are some great episodes (and I completely agree with you on Selfless), but the general rudderlessness (is that a word?) of the season kills me. When Buffy is cast out of the house, it feels like nobody was really in charge of the show at the time. The problem is not that season 7 is bad, that I could’ve handled. It’s just that it gets increasingly stoopid and _neglected_ towards the end, and after six seasons of War-and-Peace greatness, that’s truly sad.

    Come to think of it, that’s exactly why I enjoy season 8 more — even though it’s such a radical departure, it feels like there’s some actual guidance and supervision going on behind the scenes.

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  15. [Note: Rick posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    I think you hit on all the major points of the episode quite well. And props for defending season 7…I probably like it even more than you, ranking it as second or third out of seven. A small nitpick, from an objective perspective…this review seems a bit gushy. For me, I enjoy watching a reviewer analyze the episode (which you did well), as well as offer some feedback and visceral opinion. However, I think that this review spent a bit too much time talking about how this episode made you “feel” and how “good it is.” I think the arguments should stand for themselves, rather than be consistently validated. Of course, this is a stylistic matter, and opinions will vary on the appropriate mode of review; again, I’d just say the potency of a discourse is stronger when the analysis comprises a near monopoly of the praise. The review is always subjective, but the nuanced review is very good at pretending to be objective!

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  16. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Rick, your point is definitely noted. I’d like to state, though, that one of the initial “mission statements” of this site is to provide a blend of fun fanboyish glee and real, hard analysis. Personally, I find articles that dwell entirely on the academic to be too dry to read. So, while I’d agree my reviews can be “gushy” at times, it is done with the purpose of attempting to put into words what I’m actually feeling during a given moment or scene.

    So, I respect your opinion, but to change my review style — especially at this point in the game — would be to betray my original intent. I do understand that the style may not be suited to your tastes, and that’s completely cool.

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  17. [Note: Adam posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Thanks for the review!

    I need to point out season 7 has some GREAT episodes, like this one for example and CWDP, Sleeper (a personal favorite of mine), and Chosen. Season 7 is not horrible television in any means but it loses it’s spark and quality that the series possessed that made it the cult success it was. So, technically I like season 7 but it’s just a huge dissapointment compared to how good the show truly is.

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  18. [Note: Rick posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Actually, Mike, I wouldn’t say the issue is stylistic at all. I actually appreciate your non-academic reviewing, and for the most part it works really well. Just wanted to clear that up…it’s not a general issue I have with your reviews…it was more just a concern I had with this episode in particular…isolated case.
    In any event, I look forward to “Him.” Some of the funniest dialogue in the series since Pangs and Something Blue!

    Like

  19. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 5, 2009.]

    Well, it was your comment about how “Of course, this is a stylistic matter, and opinions will vary on the appropriate mode of review” that sparked my response. 🙂

    Like

  20. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on March 6, 2009.]

    I always kind of took the “happy ending” line of Xander’s to be more sexual in nature. haha I guess it’s a complex line, since it’s probably to do with Sweet, their marriage, AND sex all at once.

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  21. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on March 6, 2009.]

    Mike, great review. The analysis you made was great and even managed to slip in some new information I’ve never noticed. Also, the fact that I relive the episode in my mind makes me very happy.

    About S7, I just want to add that, had I listened to some reviews of S7 on the other forums, I wouldn’t even care to see it. But gladly, I did (thanks to some people here that told me to keep an open mind) and I couldn’t be happier! I also agree with WWS, I wouldn’t trade my Buffy for anything else. I agree, it is flawed but it also takes risks that other shows are scared to take. Flawed but awesome, nonetheless.

    Like

  22. [Note: Bree posted this comment on March 6, 2009.]

    That was a fantastic review, mikejer, but I really wish you had made more mention of Emma Caulfield. She was falat-out amazing in this episode and you barely mentioned her, but you mentioned SMG and NB. While that argument was extremely well-acted by both of them, Emma had to carry the entire epsiode and go from comedic to tragic quickly, many times. She deserves more than a small mention in the minor pros.

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  23. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 6, 2009.]

    Go Mike, with another awesome review! I’m somewhat less in awe of this episode than you are, mostly because I find it odd that we’re suddenly given a deep background check of a character who never had her own autonomous role before and who we were never asked to take seriously until now. Still, between the bunnies, the songs, and the swordfight (and a great reference to “Becoming Part 2”), this one still qualifies as good times.

    Thanks for your tireless efforts! Can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

    Like

  24. [Note: Tommy posted this comment on March 6, 2009.]

    Nice review. I was half expecting you to give this episode an excellent rating, It’s definately one of the top five in my opinion.

    I don’t get it how some people can be harsh when they do reviews. You review the episodes fairly, whereas some DO use words like ‘crap’ and ‘rubbish’. These people make me wonder if they ARE fans of Buffy…

    If i reviewed episodes, even with the ones i thought were really bad, i could point out at least one or two good things about it.

    Like

  25. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    A great review of my favourite episode of TV ever. I’ve been looking forward to this review of yours for a long time, and you didn’t disappoint. You verbalised my thoughts exactly. This is one of the funniest, most heartbreaking, well-written episodes of BTVS, and I’m glad to see this recognised by others. The fact Drew Goddard is a die-hard Buffy fan is extremely evident in the episodes he was involved with in s7, especially in this one. Perhaps if Joss had hired more ‘fan’ writers, the show might’ve been even more continuity-heavy and indulgent in this way. I certainly could’ve done with more episodes like Selfless.

    A couple of things you didn’t note:
    As someone said, there was the iffy timeline with Willow’s magic pass grades. That was a bit sloppy. Also, considering this episode was rife with continuity, it’s surprising that the Vengeance Demon amulet wasn’t brought up as a solution to undoing the spell. Even a fleeting mention that the amulet wouldn’t account for such disastrous carnage would’ve been appreciated.

    On the commentary, Drew Goddard mentions the theme of blood throughout the episode. There’s a lot of it. From the Lady Macbeth scene in the teaser, to Willow’s attire, to Buffy and Anya’s wounds, to 1905, to the blood splattered frat house and Anya touching the bloody wall tentatively… Anya literally has blood on her hands and causes all this bloodshed. This theme echoes throughout and makes it so much easier to buy that Anya would be willing to sacrifice herself to undo this bloodshed.

    All in all, I think this episode was destined to be a hit, and only because Anya was one of the most adorable, funniest, quirkiest characters on the show. What I think elevates this episode to near perfection is the fact that they take the most adorable, funniest, quirkiest character, turn her inside out and scrutinise WHO she really is and WHY she is that way, and question what is left when you take all that away. This episode is heaven on earth for me, heh.

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  26. [Note: Ursus posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    This was definitely a top 20 episode. Drew Goddard combines comedy, horror, tragedy and character insight with great dialogue.

    Like

  27. [Note: Paula posted this comment on March 8, 2009.]

    Wilpy: regarding the amulet, as I’ve argued before on Mike’s BtVS forum, I don’t think anyone but Anya herself even knew about it or that it could be used to reverse her vengeance spells. None of it happened in this reality the last time, after all, so the Scoobies don’t really know it’s an option, do they? And it may well be the case that a vengeance demon can’t destroy their own amulet or ask others to do so, although I’ll admit that’s far less obvious. The more likely explanation may be that Anya herself was so defiant and so uncertain of what she really wanted until D’Hoffryn turned up that even she didn’t really come to think of the amulet. It seems to me there’s some of the same thing in the Buffy vs. Anya fight scene as in that fight of Angel and Faith in “Five by Five” – Anya wants to be hurt and punished more than to fix things.

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  28. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on March 8, 2009.]

    I guess those are decent explanations. An actual verbal explanation wouldn’t have gone amiss, though. 😛

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  29. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 8, 2009.]

    I re-watched this episode last night, and now I get how awesome this episode is. It’s the first classic episode of the season. It also shows what an amazing performer Emma Caulfield is–her musical number “I’m the Mrs.” is as enchanting a number as anything in Disney films at their peak, and she looks ravishing and performs it with grace and beauty. I just wish they hadn’t ushered Anya to the rear after this, but there’s so much going on here that it ends up working so well.

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  30. [Note: wilpy posted this comment on March 9, 2009.]

    One thing that hasn’t been pointed out: in the first 880 flashback scene, when Olaf laughs, they subtitle “ha ha ha!” I don’t know why, but I find this so freaking hilarious and burst out laughing whenever I see it.

    Like

  31. [Note: JohnF posted this comment on May 5, 2009.]

    On the general issue of the quality of S7 -v- the other series, I have to say that S7 – for me – ranks among the best; I only started watching BTVS from near the end of S5 (“General forehead guy”!) and I think Series 5-7 are the best of the lot; I feel that they’ve “found their groove” in the last three series and the humour in Buffy is right up there with the best comedies.

    But getting back to “Selfless”; one question I’ve always wanted an answer to: what language are Olaf and Aud speaking back in 880? Whatever it is, it’s very convincing!

    As to the episode itself, definitely right up there with the best of S7; it wouldn’t be anything like as good were Emma C. not up to the job as an actress, so let’s give her every credit for this – for humour, singing, playing the tragic figure; I can’t recall ANY tv programme where such a massive diversity was expected of one actor/actress.

    I also feel that a common thread in S7 is that Xander has become a much more likeable character and you see it here, not just in trying to protect Anya from Buffy, but also at the end, when Anya said she just “clung onto whatever came along” and Xander says, “kinda didn’t mind” … I guess this is where the two finally bury the hatchet after the sadness of S6?

    So, really, no argument against this getting the perfect score, but I really love this series – as evidenced by the fact that I’m now watching “Chosen”!

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  32. [Note: Paula posted this comment on May 5, 2009.]

    JohnF, they’re speaking Swedish. One can tell that neither actor can actually speak the language though. (I’ve studied Swedish and one can just about follow them in that language, but the pronunciation is not very good.)

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  33. [Note: Guido posted this comment on May 21, 2009.]

    I agree with Llinnae, I think Anya’s song was her own flashback. Her tears are what convinces me of this.

    Like

  34. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 17, 2009.]

    Anya tells Willow in her apartment, “I am a vengeance demon!” She says it so adamantly that later on, when they show the flashback to Russia, and she says, “Vengeance is what I am!” I get the idea that when she’s talking to Willow, she’s trying to go back to the time when there were no doubts, when there was nothing and no one- not even herself- to say, “Who am I, really?” Back then, that’s all she was- a vengeance demon. Now she’s trying so hard to convince herself of the same thing, even though we all know- including Anya- that she’s more than that.

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  35. [Note: Dave C posted this comment on June 28, 2009.]

    *side note: just came to this site for the first time from a link at Whedonesque. Good stuff, Mike!*

    One of the reasons I love Buffy so much is all the continuity. And nobody did continuity better than Drew Goddard, and this was, I think, his finest episode. The point in the argument between Buffy and Xander when she reference’s his lie in “Becoming, Part 2” just kills me. What Xander did in that episode has pissed me off every time I’ve watched it (or thought about it), and the fact that it was never addressed just made things worse. Props to Drew for calling that one back and, at least partially, paying it off.

    So many good things about this episode, but you’ve done an admirable job highlighting them, Mike.

    Like

  36. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 19, 2009.]

    Many things to like about this episode:

    Willow’s excitement at returning to college. Knowledge Girl is back in action!

    Willow’s discomfort with Anya’s declaration that she and her ‘new boyfriend’ just had lots and lots of sex.

    Willow’s apology to the wish-girl for the bit of black-eyed Willow snapping at her.

    Anya attempting to throw Willow’s actions back at her, unsuccessfully, and then in trying to convince Willow (and herself) that the frat boys deserved what happened to them.

    Is it me or isn’t the eye that gets the spider demon gunk near it on Xander the same one he ends up losing?

    The whole fight between Xander and Buffy is just about as good as it gets, though it doesn’t really resolve his s2 lie about Willow (nor does it explain how Buffy could believe Willow had actually said that all these years. But that’s my problem)

    The Willow/D’Hoffryn interaction. And bonus points points to Willow for trying to find an non-lethal, reasonable way to fix the problem!

    All the flashbacks, especially the “Mrs.” number.

    Anya pulling the sword out her chest made me hurt!

    ‘Lady Hacksaway’ LOL!!!

    “I’m a dope?” “Sometimes.” “That’s a start.”

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  37. [Note: GSilver posted this comment on July 28, 2009.]

    One thing that stuck out for me was the line “The flaying of Warren Mears. Truly inspired. That was water cooler vengeance. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall.”

    It’s entertaining enough on its own, but when you recall the sketch of it in the cave Spike visited in Africa, it just helps build on the continuity even more.

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  38. [Note: Chris posted this comment on November 20, 2009.]

    Gsilver I had never made that connection before. That guy will hereafter me known as lloyd! Its interesting to think of him as a vengence demon, he was granting spikes wish, spike had been wronged( whether you argue that it was by buffy in season 6 or by drusilla killing him), and the afterafects hurt spike as well to an extent. Its classic vengence demon behaviour and i’d never noticed it before.

    D’hoffryn has amazing here, the unltimate mix of scary and comic. I wish he had been used more, an amazing character.

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  39. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on November 25, 2009.]

    Great review, and great picks for the quotes: I had forgotten just how funny the episode is.

    Gsilver

    Oh, I hadn’t made that connection either! I really hope you’re right, and I think you must be, because that is a fantastic and hilarious bit of continuity!

    Nix

    I thought this was really interesting:

    “Finally, the title. I think ‘selfless’ describes Anya, not just in her early days, but throughout her life. She’s like Spike that way: always throwing herself completely and selflessly into some higher goal. In Anya’s case these are abstractions (communitarianism, capitalism, helping-through-vengeance), while in Spike’s they’re specific women, but there’s definitely a similarity there. This may be one reason why they always got on so well: they both understand selflessness.”

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  40. [Note: Miscellaneopolan posted this comment on November 25, 2009.]

    This is a delightful episode, but you all already knew that.

    I enjoyed the way that Willow and Anya’s relationship was built upon here. These two had already connected over their guilt in ‘Same Time, Same Place’ and it’s telling that once Willow knows what’s going on, she confronts Anya without putting on any airs. “You’re in trouble. You know it.” Willow’s talking to Anya as one murderer to another. How far they’ve come from the petty squabbling in ‘Triangle.’ As different as they are, Anya and Willow now have a unique understanding, and it’s put to good use here.

    I was also really impressed with D’Hoffryn in this episode. Funny and scary. I, too, wish that he would have been used more. I think he would have made a great foot soldier for the First and could have filled the time after the Ubervamp and before Caleb quite nicely.

    I like Season 7, but it does reek of unfulfilled potential. Anya and Willow had developed such an interesting dynamic that was… never seen again. D’Hoffryn was such a menacing villain who was… never seen again. There’s a lot of that going around this season. Season 7 has a ton to offer, but it’s hard not to see the flaws.

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  41. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on January 1, 2010.]

    This is without a doubt one of the best episodes of the season and the series.

    The way the old scenes were done with less colour and adding markings to make it like old film footage was a great artistic addition. Liked the use of the frat house building again as has been used several times before as different locations.

    The last ten minutes or so were just fantastic, although I don’t know why Anya would let Buffy just stab her again after she said how much swords through the chest hurt as it cannot kill her.

    Some things that didn’t add up were Anya’s blood on her wrist that somehow she missed. Buffy saying she loved Angel more than anything when in ‘The Gift’ she said the same thing about her mum. D’Hoffryn telling Aud that she is to help wronged women, yet in ‘Entropy’ Halfrek made it seem that Anya chose only to help women and, similar to Spike, the fact that Buffy let Anya live for so long after finding out she was a vengeance demon again.

    And, of course the demon spiders webbing lands down Xander’s left eye.

    Like

  42. [Note: vix posted this comment on July 19, 2010.]

    This is one of my favorite buffy episodes… Anya has always been one of my favorite characters and I feel like shes underestimated or thought of only as comic relief… but she’s so much more!!

    That being said theres always one thing that bugged me about this episode, why doesn’t buffy just go for Anya’s amulet! She doesn’t have to kill Anya, just make her human again!

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  43. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 19, 2010.]

    Buffy’s only awareness of the amulet is Anya yelling out for it and Halfrek being a bit grabby over it in “Older and Far Away.” The events of “The Wish” got reverted, remember? Buffy doesn’t know that destroying the amulet can break a vengeance spell (at least provably in certain situations). This is, of course, unless I’m forgetting something, which is entirely possible.

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  44. [Note: TK posted this comment on July 26, 2010.]

    Vis a vis the ‘breaking the amulet’ option, I assumed that that only works to end a Vengeance Demon’s actual spell, not the effects of it. So the creation of the Wishverse, or Halfrek’s spell to keep everyone in the house would break, because they’re active spells. What Anya did in this episode, I’m guessing, is use a Vengeance spell to control/summon the Crenshaw Demon. Breaking the amulet would have done nothing, as the actual spell was already over. Doesn’t seem at all like sloppy plotting to me.

    Love these reviews, Selfless is hands down one of the best in the series.

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  45. [Note: Meatball posted this comment on August 21, 2010.]

    I was thinking at the beginning that the frat victims were the same ones who were going to sacrifice the poetess in the previous episode. Perhaps they were in the original concept but they decided to remove any mitigating circumstances to Anya’s massacre. Willow seems to have got a pass for killing Warren “righteously” because he was a murderer (of at least two women). The demon summoners were were arguably worse, premeditating and planning their sacrifice, and would likely have gone on to do more. So that would have made a stronger moral dilemma.

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  46. [Note: Selene posted this comment on September 11, 2010.]

    Just watched this episode again and one thing kind of stuck out for me”

    XANDER

    (stands) No, of course not. You know, if there’s a mass-murdering demon that you’re, oh, say, boning, then it’s all gray area.

    BUFFY

    Spike was harmless. He was helping.

    XANDER

    He had no choice.

    BUFFY

    And Anya did! She chose to become a demon. Twice.

    Er, um…excuse me Miss I-am-the Law-but-but-I-choose-to-interpret-it-to-suit-me, but Spike chose to become a vampire. He chose to become a demon. So how does he get a pass when Anya doesn’t? Double standard much?

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  47. [Note: Keaton posted this comment on September 25, 2010.]

    @Selene:

    That quote about Spike is related to the chip in his head, not his lack of resistance when Dru bit him.

    Xander meant that Spike had no choice but to be harmless after they implanted it.

    on topic:

    I also liked this episode quite a lot, especially the musical part and its abrupt ending.

    But what I dont really understand is why Buffy is so eager to slay Anya. I didnt see her hesitate for just a second, which is odd considering their friendship and all.

    For me that spoiled the quarrel between Buffy and Xander which mikejer liked so much.

    I just dont see how Buffy can make such a decision without more apparent hesitation (at least not apparent to me).

    Buffy is the Slayer so she slays evil demons. Anya now is a demon again and she does evil things. Lets grab the sword and slay her.

    Not very sophisticated in my book…

    I know Anya did sth terrible and was just gaining momentum. So of course they had to stop her. But you cant just state sth like “She’s not the Anya that you knew, Xander.” and thats all you need to justify to kill her.

    And the comparison to Angel isnt convincing either, because back then Buffy had no other choice. She had to kill him if she wanted to prevent the apocalype. Here we “only” have a frat house full of dead bodies and no real hurry.

    Well, as I said, nice episode, except for Buffy being way too bloodthirsty and for my taste.

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  48. [Note: Joe posted this comment on September 27, 2010.]

    Keaton:

    I think the argument is indicative of how much Buffy has changed since season two. She’s moving more into the general/leader mentality she completely accepts toward the end of the season. She does make these kinds of choices every time she slays a vampire. A newly risen vampire, for example, hasn’t actually done anything yet to earn a stake to the heart–but Buffy knows it’s a matter of time. I think the same is happening with Anya here. Buffy feels she has to cut off the threat before it becomes worse. Think about “Beneath You”: Anya is getting back into the game slowly, even if she doesn’t like what it’s turning her into. Imagine if she granted a wish like Cordelia’s from season three again. Obviously the characters don’t remember that experience, but it indicates how dangerous she could become. I think Buffy being very single-minded about this shows how her view of the world has changed over the years, and is more indicative of deep character development more than anything else.

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  49. [Note: ellecat posted this comment on November 11, 2010.]

    Just a note: The line of Spike’s when he is talking to Buffy in the basement: “Scream ‘Montresor’ all you like, pet” is from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of the Amontillado” – Montresor murders Fortunato by chaining him to a wall and bricking him behind it. Fortunato yells for help but no one can hear him, and he dies.

    And the line delivery of the professor to Willow always annoys me – it’s her pronouciation of the French ‘voila’, she says incorrectly, “walla”. EEEK!

    Like

  50. [Note: Dimitri posted this comment on November 24, 2010.]

    This is one of my favorite, if not my all-time favorite, episodes.

    I love the use of all the continuety in this episode.

    And Willow finally getting some justice on the ‘Kick his ass’ thing, awesome!

    Also very funny, and actually true, line from Anya is: ‘Geez Buffy, are there any friends of yours left that you haven’t tried to kill?’

    I mean she tried to kill Xander, Willow, Tara and Dawn in ‘Normal Again’ (and other episodes) She attacked Cordelia in ‘Welcome To The Hellmouth’ and Giles in ‘A New Man’. She actually killed Angel in ‘Becoming Part 2’ and went after Oz when she didn’t knew he was a wearwolf. And let’s not talk about Spike, that is a list of it’s own. =)

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  51. [Note: debisib posted this comment on December 13, 2010.]

    One of the greatest uses of past plotlines takes place in this episode just like you said MikeJer.

    When they brought up the ‘kick his ass’ comment from Xander to Buffy, saying that willow sent that message… i just couldnt believe that after 5 years, that FINALLY, FINALLY was brought up. Its amazing, and just so GOD DAMN REAL. For a television show to use such a small subtext from so long ago, and use it to make an impact on what is already a great episode is impossible to find. I may not appreciate anything else in this show as much as that one piece of dialogue now.

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  52. [Note: John posted this comment on January 10, 2011.]

    This was an amazing episode, great combination of hilarious humor (insane troll logic ftw!) and actual serious development. Seeing Willow still actively struggling with her powers was also awesome; we see that she still has conflict rather than her coming back and talking about not being sure but being fine. One of the standouts of Season 7.

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  53. [Note: John posted this comment on January 10, 2011.]

    My one disappointment was that there wasn’t much of a reaction to Willow finally calling Xander on lying to Buffy at the end of S2; while I wouldn’t expect it to be a huge deal at this point that’s certainly something Willow would have a strong desire to clarify.

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  54. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on January 10, 2011.]

    I love, love, love this episode! Anya is one of my favorite characters on the show. I remember when I first watched this, I couldn’t believe that they “went there” with her. I mean, I knew she was a vengeance demon again but it still caught me way off guard.

    I loved seeing little flaunty Aud with her bunnies all the way through to tough Anyanka who fights with Buffy towards the end.

    The Mrs. song was perfectly put into the episode (and total props to the writers for putting in the mustard on the shirt part — great touch!). The song really showed that even though she might have had a few doubts, she was ready to marry Xander and be with him for the rest of her life. It highlighted just how hurt she was by his leaving her. And then the stark cut off to the song with her with a sword through her chest was a stark reminder of how much things have changed. Brilliantly done.

    I never noticed the foreshadowing of Anya’s death before. Pretty cool (well not that Anya dies but that D’Hoffryn says it).

    I agree with your P grade for this one MikeJer!

    @Keaton: I think you see Buffy make the decision without much hesitation because she has given this so much thought before. I assume that she has already wrestled with this in her mind and had come to accept that if Anya goes full out vengeance demon then she has to kill her. It does kind of seem that she is cavalier about it but I think it is because she had made up her mind already and was just trying to be matter-of-fact about it so she doesn’t get all emotional and change her mind. At least that is how I believe it to be.

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  55. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on January 11, 2011.]

    @Keaton & Coyote (hey, join the forum! lots of fun discussion there!):

    The trouble I have with Buffy’s decision to kill Anya is that, while she may have thought about it beforehand, she clearly didn’t do a lot of *research* on it. If she had, she would’ve discovered, as Giles did in “The Wish”, that you can destroy a vengeance demon’s “power center” (the necklace) and make them normal humans. It seems that Buffy really didn’t consider alternatives to killing Anya.

    Although I tend to agree with Joe’s assessment of how this fits into Buffy’s character development, I certainly don’t like her more for it.

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  56. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on January 11, 2011.]

    Sorry, I see that folks have discussed the amulet option pretty recently. However, there the focus was on reversing the spell, which Buffy wasn’t looking to do. She wanted to stop Anya from doing *future* vengeance by killing her. And she appparently didn’t try to find any other way of stopping her.

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  57. [Note: John posted this comment on January 21, 2011.]

    As we know, Buffy’s not exactly the most research-mode person when she sets her mind to something, so I’m not surprised she just went straight for Anya to stick a sword in her without doing the research first. I see that as very in-character for her.

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  58. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on January 24, 2011.]

    Buffy may be Lady HacksAway with your run-of-the-mill demon, but this is Anya, who, if nothing else, risked herself to help them when Willow was attacking in the S6 finale. I’m not arguing it’s out of character (as I’m not in my comment on LMPTM), in fact I think it’s really well done in terms of character development, as are her arguments with Xander, but S7 Buffy just … frustrates me at times.

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  59. [Note: Conor posted this comment on March 25, 2011.]

    I must own up to being one of those people who has traditionally held a fairly negative opinion of Season 7. Never to the point of spewing venom at the entire season or anything of the sort – simply that I never felt it quite measured up with what went before. The Willow arc is competently done, but that’s about it. Her main storyline pretty much ended in the preceding season. This time round, she’s simply learning to use magic safely again. Not the most interesting story around. And Kennedy I always found unbearable. Awful character with and a wholly inapporpriate match for Willow to boot. Anya and Xander have some nice moments. “Selfless” concludes her main arc very effectively, but after that the writers don’t seem to have any idea what as to what more should be done with them. Giles is basically a background character throughout much of the season, while Buffy has become domineering towards her inferiors and a tad melodramatic.

    Speaking of melodrama, the Big Bad is a major disappointment in this season and way too much time is devoted to what is a largely unremarkable central season plot. The series just feels a bit stale at this point, and this isn’t helped by the absence of The Magic Box and the persistent use of Buffy’s house as the main set. Not the most colourful base of operations. The Potentials are also pretty unremarkable, and at times downright irritating.

    That said, there are numerous positives attaching to the season. As a big Spuffy fan, I enjoyed the Buffy/Spike storyline immensely. Dawn is actually likeable for the first time in this season and Xander seems a more well-rounded, mature character. Andrew is always good for a laugh and Principal Wood is the most likeable principle ever. The return of Faith was a nice added touch, the uber-vamps were epic, Caleb was a wonderful addition to the cast of baddies and it was lovely to see Buffy’s mom again after all this time. “Chosen” was a great series finale (though the amulet concept was a bit hokey and struck me as a plot device introduced in order that Spike could be allowed to sacrifice himself heroically).

    All in all, though, I think the season suffered from a dearth of ideas concerning what to do with the already well-developed main characters, relied to heavily on background characters and adopted a heavy-handed approach towards a central arc that lacked subtlety and true inspiration and was permitted to dominate every crevice of the season.

    “Selfless” was a top quality Anya episode though.

    Like

  60. [Note: Mash posted this comment on June 10, 2011.]

    I too thought that the flashback to the Once More With Feeling song was Anya’s personal memory/flashback.

    Also, based on the fact that the Buffy Spike was talking to in the basement actually touched Spike, I think its safe to say it was Spike’s illusion and not the first. Again, because that illusion touched him.

    Like

  61. [Note: James posted this comment on November 5, 2011.]

    I was just watching this episode and caught on to a little detail I hadn’t caught on to before. Remember in “Once More With Feeling” when they looked out the magic shop to see if everyone was singing and they saw a bunch of people singing “they got the mustard out”? Well I noticed tonight when I was watching “Selfless” that when they flash back to Anya’s song about being Mrs. Harris, right before she closes the window and starts to sing, there are people outside singing a sad sounding song about mustard stains on a short. Talk about attention to detail! Just thought I’d share that 🙂

    Like

  62. [Note: Rob posted this comment on November 9, 2011.]

    “That’s where I was going with that, yeah.” One of the funniest lines in BtVS. It probably helps to be raised on the Monty Python and the Holy Grail school of humor.

    Like

  63. [Note: Gon posted this comment on November 17, 2011.]

    Regarding how quickly Buffy set up her mind on killing Anya: I find the reationship between Buffy and Anya very interesting.

    If we think about it, Buffy established personal relations with every scooby but Anya. She surely had a conflictual relation with Cordelia but they fought together, she was concerned about Oz condition as werewolf and talked to him when things got stressed between him and with Willow, she became a real friend of Tara…

    I honestly don’t remember any real significant Buffy-Anya moment. Do you? I mean, even when Joyce died, Anya could have expressed her feelings to Buffy, but instead she did it to Xander, Willoe and Tara. As for Buffy, I always had the feeling she was a bit blasé about Anya. I think she has always seen her just as Xander’s dull girlfriend and she just didn’t care for her.

    Someone wrote a comment in “Beneath you” considering that Buffy and Anya could have shared the same glance than Xander and Spike when the girl asked if there were anyone there not having slpet together. See, that would really surprise me as I don’t feel any cumplicity between them.

    It’s interesting though that Anya established strong relations both with Xander and with Giles (who was very foud of her) – representing somehow a rival to Buffy – and then slept with Spike.

    Considering this background, I suppose it’s natural that from the moment Anya turned demon again Buffy wouldn’t trust her again.

    Like

  64. [Note: Rob posted this comment on December 14, 2011.]

    Seriously, does it get any better than D’Hoffryn? I just woke up thinking about that “water cooler vengeance” quip.

    Like

  65. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 17, 2011.]

    I enjoyed a myriad of things about season seven and Selfless was one of them, it being a little unprecedented for Buffy-Verse. It is possibly the only truly Anya centric episodes and to be honest it was worth the wait. It dealt with all of Anya’s conflicting issues and her moral outlook. Most prominently though the episode explored the Anya defined herself with those she ‘latched on to’, slotting herself into their lives instead of making one for herself. Selfless was the perfect title for this. Especially the tying in her selfless decision to take back what she had done, sacrificing herself because it was right.

    At each time frame we have now seen Anya we have seen her loose her universe, the thing that links or grounds her to earth, at first it was Olaf, then D’Hoffryn offered her a place in his ‘family’ as a vengeance demon, this though was lost because of the events in The WIsh, then she had Xander. Anya choosing to be alone at the end of Selfless is a big step for her character development. She wants and needs to find her own identity, something we as an audience can resonate with.

    An amazing episode, there are many in this season, in fact i agree with you Mike, season seven does get stick it doesn’t deserve. It has a few problems but all the season’s had flaws. This season just had more noticeable ones. The First wasn’t utilised to its full potential, there was a volley of plot devices in the last two episodes and turbulent attitude brought by the potentials were annoying and often felt contrived but the idea was grand and most of the writing superb. This season used the back story of each character to add closure and to evoke different emotions and outcomes. Giles for instance is very much the Ripper persona, Willow and Xander have out grown Buffy’s stand offishness and are over the being cut off from analogy. Each character has grown from the ones we first met. It was right to show it.

    Like

  66. [Note: x factor posted this comment on December 26, 2011.]

    I have no problems with Buffy deciding that Anya needed to be stopped, with deadly force. She could have ended up maiming and killing hundreds, thousands of people. And i think Buffy was right on with her comments about doing whats right in killing Angel in season 2.

    But my biggest problem is Spike. If killing Anya was what she chose, why in God’s name did she let Spike live? The chip in the head is the dumbest argument in the universe. Spike was STILL a soulless psychopath with no conscience and no remorse – the writers didnt think he could have found a way to kill a few innocent people to feed on by say hiring someone to do the dirty work? lol. Makes absolutely no sense.

    This is the main thing that detracts from this episode, although it was one of the few decent spots of the season.

    Like

  67. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on February 6, 2012.]

    Agree with everything you’ve said. PURE BLISS. I will never be over this episode. Also, just wanted to point out that I really liked the music at the very end when Anya is walking away alone. I think it’s the only time that particular piece is played, sadly, but for some reason it really stuck with me. Beautiful sadness is how I’d describe it, it fit the mood perfectly. It captures the painful, scary, yet ultimately beautiful journey that lay ahead for Anya as she learns who she is. It just makes my heart swell.

    Like

  68. [Note: Helen posted this comment on April 29, 2012.]

    I love this episode- anything that includes scenes from OMWF is awesome! Emma Caulfied does a really excellent job here, even if it’s a shame that Anya’s development is almost forgotten about in later episodes.

    One thing that annoyed me about this episode though was how quickly Dawn and Willow made up, acting like sisters again. As we can see from her behavior with Spike this season, Dawn can hold a grudge, and Willow’s actions in the previous season should have at least put strain on their bond. At the end of s6, Willow actually tries to convert Dawn back to key form, and in Wrecked she almost got her killed. Dawn is shown to be angry towards Willow for short amounts of time (ie- slapping her in Wrecked) but it strikes me as odd that they are so friendly at the beginning of this episode when we don’t really see a scene where they make up, and that Dawn continues to be so hostile to Spike.

    Like

  69. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 20, 2012.]

    I was going to say that D’Hoffryn simply gave Anya a different conduit for her new power that wouldn’t be destroyed and backfire as easily as in “The Wish (3.09),” but now I think I like TK (#47), Paula (#30), and Fray-adjacent ‘s (#58) explanations better.

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  70. [Note: Craig posted this comment on July 6, 2012.]

    I really don’t think the vengeance demon mechanics are very consistent or clearly illustrated. In The Wish, Cordelia’s wish resulted in the presence of an entirely alternate universe. And, after destroying Anyanka’s talisman, the universe “resets” to the point when Cordelia made the wish, and nobody but Anya has any knowledge of what happened in the alternate reality.

    Yet in Triangle, Beneath You, and here, it’s quite clear that it’s not always a matter of creating an alternate universe, but sometimes just of altering something in our current world. That wouldn’t bother me so much, but what seems very inconsistent here is that it seems like if the frat house murders were to be reversed, it would mean that the universe would be “reset” to when the wish was first made, and nobody would have any knowledge of anything that happened in this episode.

    Also, wasn’t it explained in The Wish that the only way to have a vengeance demon grant your wish is if you’re wearing a special talisman, as Cordelia was at the time? That’s never been brought back or explained.

    Anyway, that’s a minor gripe. This is a nearly-flawless episode and is easily one of my very favorites in the series.

    Like

  71. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on July 6, 2012.]

    I don’t wish to babel on about how time works, but in the wish Cordelia said she wished Buffy had never come to Sunnydale, this required Anyanka to alter the past, so when the spell was reversed the past then was changed back and everything was normal again. However, in this episode, Anya didn’t have to change the past, or make any time alterations, therefore they could reverse the spell without having to change the timeline. I hope that made sense…

    Like

  72. [Note: Candice posted this comment on July 15, 2012.]

    I just have one question I’m confused about. Spike tells Buffy he has no where else to go when she tells him to leave the basement, and then in the next episode we see him moving in with Xander. What happened to Spike’s crypt in the cemetery? I thought Clem was holding it for him till he got back. Why can’t he live there anymore?

    Like

  73. [Note: Amelia posted this comment on July 30, 2012.]

    One thing that bothers me- why is Anya covered in so much blood when she didn’t directly kill the frat boys (it was the spider)?

    Like

  74. [Note: Rob W. posted this comment on July 30, 2012.]

    Just coming ’round again to this episode and once again have to give it up for D’Hoffryn. Comedic gold. “That’s where I was going with that, yeah.”

    Like

  75. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on July 31, 2012.]

    Xander: Her name is Anya.

    D’Hoffryn: Actually, funny historical side-bar, her original name was—

    Anya: I wanna take it back.

    I was watching this episode some days ago, and I almost fell out of my chair when I realized this: She wants to take her old self back! Look at the way the lines are placed. You think she is referring to slaughtering the frat boys, but the line could also refer to her “original” name. Anya now wants to take it back which means she wants to reclaim her original identity, the one she had before she started clinging to whatever came along.

    God, I love this show. Such clever writing!

    Like

  76. [Note: Craig posted this comment on July 31, 2012.]

    @Amelia: I think they needed the opening shot to have a literal “blood on the hands” image as a shocking beginning, but that they also realized the audience would never be able to sympathize with her if she had actually done the killing directly. It seems to me like an inconsistency the writers were aware of and chose to go with anyway for the sake of an engaging beginning to the episode.

    Like

  77. [Note: Dave posted this comment on February 11, 2013.]

    It was a excellent episode any bit d’hoffren is awesome he is so funny. Also in the part when anya is singing the missus song she has long blonde hair but in the orignal once more with feeling episode didnt she have short brown hair ??

    Like

  78. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on February 11, 2013.]

    Hi Dave,

    I think Anya’s hair in that ep was blonde, cury maybe not as along as seen here but definitely not brown 🙂

    Like

  79. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 23, 2013.]

    The Scoobies argument is absolutely delightful. Buffy and Xander are both right and wrong and we can understand their points of view because of 6 years of marvelous storytelling. My only nitpick: I regret that the “kick his ass” didn’t have more impact.

    Anya tells Xander: you’ve always seen what you wanted to. It’s true and is so revealing that Xander is the heart, but definitely not the sight.

    What we see of Willow is indeed interesting. When she lashes out at the poor frightened girl, she also sees herself – whining and wanting the pain to go away. The “two” Willows are still in conflict. Also, she’s the one trying to find an alternative because she knows where vengeance can lead to, helping Anya is also helping herself to their paths to redemption.

    D’Hoffryn is definitely one of my favourite demons: he’s got incredible insight, good manners, an hilarious low-key humour and is also terribly scary.

    About Buffy not killing Spike: I connect it with the fact that Buffy feels she owes him. (When he didn’t reveal that Dawn was the key, she says “I won’t forget it”). Afterwards, he willingly helps the gang even after she died and then she felt guilt because she used him. That’s not to say that Spike was an innocent Angel, but there’s an explanation as to why he’s still alive. What I mean is she had a connection with Spike that she never had with Anya. To be fair, try to remember that Anya has been a lover but never a friend (except in two to go), her discussions with Willow and Buffy – if you get past the comical relief – are disdainful and cynical. Her attachment to Giles came to life when he became her boss and gave her money. But the experiences with the group made her realize wrong and right over time and, even if she wasn’t conscious of it, made her grow attached the scoobies.

    Anyway, an excellent and very much needed episode for Anya.

    Like

  80. [Note: Henrik posted this comment on July 15, 2013.]

    If anyone is still reading this:

    I am a Swede and their pronunciation is HORRIBLY garbled at times. I assume there is a script in Swedish that they are reading from but I’m pretty sure Emma goes full Swedish chef a few times and just goes for Swedish-sounding, because I can’t for the life of me figure out what Swedish words she is supposed to be using!

    The parts I do hear are correct, though. And Abraham is slightly clearer, if anyone’s keeping score.

    Like

  81. [Note: RetepAdam posted this comment on September 12, 2013.]

    Buffy’s argument that she killed Angel because she had to — therefore, she “has to” kill Anya — didn’t really work for me. She killed Angel to close the portal that was going to suck the entire word into hell. There were pieces in motion, and she did what was necessary to stop an impending apocalypse, even if it meant killing the one she loved. Conversely, she set out to kill Anya as penance for killing those frat boys. If Anya “crossed the line” and had to be killed, why did that logic not apply to her re: the hundreds to thousands of people she killed in the past? Or all the people Spike has drained in the past? Or Angel?

    It just kind of rung out as hollow to me, since the circumstances were incredibly different, and it kind of bugged me to see the show treat that as a trump card. Ultimately, I guess it didn’t really matter in this episode. I just would have liked to have seen them delve even deeper into the gray areas that this episode offered, since the opportunity had presented itself.

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  82. [Note: Seele posted this comment on September 12, 2013.]

    I think that the difference is that Anya was already a power-drained mortal before the Gang learned about her actions from when she wasn’t: as Buffy described chip-Spike, a serial killer already in prison.

    By the time Anya got her powers back – and everybody else found out – they either had bigger threats to worry about (Dark Willow) or were down the spell-casters (Giles and Willow) that they would normally use to survive a battle against a spell-caster like Anya. With only the melee fighters of the team, they probably spent the next month focusing on the strong-demons over the magic-demons and planned for a fight with Anya primarily as “I really hope we don’t have to, let’s focus on all of the other demons for as long as possible.”

    Not just in the sense of “Anya is our friend,” but as much because they felt they were legitimately out-matched: Buffy might have the physically strong demons beat, but had Anya the spell-casting demon not been going “suicide by Slayer” in the frat-house fight, Anya could’ve won.

    Like

  83. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on September 16, 2013.]

    ‘I’m good at math’. A seemingly throwaway that goes all the way back to Dopplegangland’s opening scene. Hilarious.

    Like

  84. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on September 16, 2013.]

    And also, the fact that Emma Caulfield didn’t win an Emmy for this episode is further proof that the Emmy’s are pointless(this show provides a lot of evidence for that proposition). As someone above commented, the range that she displays in this episode is amazing: singing, dancing and choreography, dramatic acting, comedic acting, sword fighting and action, playing a character in successive incarnations of human, demon, human again and childlike, demon again, and finally human again. Holy cats! Name one actor who’s ever had to invest that much in an episode of television, with the possible answer being Sarah Michelle Gellar in OMWF, not to mention performed one who brilliantly in every single aspect of the show. Wow. WOW.

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  85. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on September 17, 2013.]

    That’s because the girl wished for the boys to have their hearts ripped out — she didn’t wish for anything that would have needed historic events to shift in order to work. That’s why Anya didn’t have to change the past or make time alterations — the only thing she needed to do was to make the fraternity boys alive again.

    Like

  86. [Note: qwerty posted this comment on September 24, 2013.]

    I never really understood anya’s character because of soul thing. I mean, it’s obvious that she has a soul. But how is it possible to kill people for hundreds years with a soul?

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  87. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on September 24, 2013.]

    1) Just because Anya has a soul doesn’t mean she’s an inherently good person. There are plenty of humans with souls on this show who do horrible things — The Mayor, Warren, etc. It really depends on the moral fiber of the character, not their souls.

    2) Only vampires are explicitly stated as not having souls. Werewolves, among other creatures, certainly seem to possess them.

    Like

  88. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on December 14, 2013.]

    For some reason, Canadian Netflix doesn’t have subtitles for the Olaf part. I sat there thinking this was a deliberate effort from the writers to not have us know what was going on, which I found very strange. Apparently, this isn’t the case.

    So, yeah, if that part wasn’t 5 minutes of me sitting being confused, I think I’d like this episode a fair amount!

    Like

  89. [Note: Monica posted this comment on December 15, 2013.]

    Buffy really frustrates me in this episode. Her decision to kill Anya, I felt, was ridiculous and I didn’t buy into it when she connected it to Angel, as this is a totally different situation. Angel wasn’t able to be dealt with at any level, but Anya was. There was a much better way she could have handled this, and it really gets to me that she doesn’t think in what I believe is a more rational way. It’s probably the first time in the series I blatantly didn’t like Buffy, and that trend continues this season.

    Like

  90. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on December 16, 2013.]

    I think that that’s misinterpreting the point that Buffy is trying to make to Xander when she rejoins that she killed Angel. She isn’t saying that killing Anya is equivalent to killing Angel, or that the situations are identical. She’s refuting Xander’s accusation that she’s hypocritical about killing demons that she has an emotional attachment to. It’s obvious from the way that the fight plays out later that Buffy isn’t taking any pleasure at all from trying to kill Anya, but it’s something that she thinks has to be done.

    Speaking of that decision, you can dislike it, but calling it “ridiculous” is to do a serious disservice to the validity of the points that Buffy makes (and doesn’t make) in this episode. I love Anya a great deal, but I completely sympathized with Buffy in her view that she had to be put down. Becoming a Vengance Demon again was something that she consciously chose to do, and after a number of earlier minor misdemeanors that Buffy allowed to slide, she’s now carrying out full-blown massacres of (more or less) innocent people, and showing no signs of repentence for doing so. There’s really only one way that this can end: either she stops (and even in that case, what about the deaths she’s caused?), or she dies, and when Buffy shows up at the frat house, Anya isn’t showing any signs of doing the former.

    We’re all happy (including Buffy, I think) that Willow’s plan works out, and Anya’s crime gets undone (and her demon status revoked), but if it hadn’t worked, and D’Hoffryn never showed up as he does at the end, then I don’t see how Buffy could possibly be justified in letting Anya live at this point.

    Like

  91. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on December 16, 2013.]

    I think it´s also important to note that putting a stop to Anya´s vengeance deeds must have been on Buffy´s mind for quite some time now. Just look at the scene in “Beneath you” when she puts the knive down at Anya´s table at the Bronx: She means business. After Anya reversed the spell on Ronnie Buffy had good reasons to think that she might stop doing vengeance again. And then BAM! she kills a whole room of people in the beginning of “Selfless”! How much more justification does Buffy need to put an end to this? Only she has the ability to stop her.

    Like

  92. [Note: Firewalkwithme posted this comment on December 16, 2013.]

    One more thing: I think Buffy and Anya never had that great of a relationship in the first place which might have made it easier for Buffy to consider killing her. They tolerated each other because they both knew Xander but apart from that? I can´t think of one meaningful scene between the both of them where they connected on an intimate and profound level as friends.

    Like

  93. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on December 16, 2013.]

    Also, with regard to Buffy and Anya never having had that great a relationship in the first place, I think that’s true of the Scoobies in general, to a certain extent. Willow had a sort of love/hate thing going on with her, Dawn was really ambivalent (and then came the shoplifting), neither Reilly nor Tara ever got close to her (that I can recall) while they were still around, and even Giles was pretty distant with her considering that they were business partners. Xander aside, the only members of the (extended) main cast who ever seem to have gotten close to Anya were Spike and Andrew – and those are exceptions that rather prove the rule, since at least part of their bonding arose from a shared sense of being outsiders within the group.

    Like

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