Greatest Series Finales: Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Chosen” brings Buffy’s seven-season saga to a bittersweet close

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 22, “Chosen”
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Aired May 20th, 2003 on UPN

After seven seasons of vampire slayage, rocket launchers, finicky hellmouths, heroes being hero-y, villains being evil, tragic deaths, hopeful redemptions, heartbreaking relationships, touching friendships, and an endless supply of emotional character development that was sometimes fantastical but always relatable, Buffy the Vampire Slayer ends with the bittersweet (but mostly sweet) finale “Chosen.”

Despite the epic, series-ending battle looming over the episode, “Chosen” takes its time heading to the finish so each major member of the Scooby Gang can receive their due. Even Scooby alumni Angel stops by Sunnydale for a final visit and shares a sweet reunion with Buffy, giving Buffy/Angel fans a nice dose of satisfying payoff. Of course, the Scooby Gang has featured a constant rotation of members since the show’s beginning, with only the core four of Buffy, Giles, Xander, and Willow remaining permanent. Thus, one of the best character scenes in the episode features the four talking together in a circle, pre-battle. Whedon keeps the conversation light–using his trademark witty and fluid dialogue–as the group discusses their post-battle plans. Before they head to their separate battle stations, Giles emits a line (“The earth is definitely doomed”) that nicely references a similar moment from season one. 

And the final battle–though not the episode’s focal point–does not disappoint: the First’s season-long rampage is brought to a head, with both sides taking plenty of hard hits (Whedon even takes a beat to show the Scoobies suffering and falling during the fight, making the end result so much sweeter), followed by some extremely satisfying closure that gives Buffy and co. a chance for a fresh start, away from the demon-ridden Sunnydale.

Now, as far as heroes go, Buffy will always be one of the best. Some obvious reasons include her tough-but-vulnerable personality, her willingness to sacrifice everything for friends, family, and complete strangers, and her reluctant leadership (which she struggles for years to accept but ultimately embraces by series end), but all of the best heroes have those, or similar, traits. What truly sets Buffy apart, and heightens her to a higher level of heroism, are the smaller and less obviously-heroic things that make up her character. Things like her optimism in the face of monstrous things, both supernatural and natural, her reliance on her found, and biological, family despite her “chosen one” status, her rebellious nature, her willingness to voice her doubts and fears and misgivings, her unfailing ability to fall in love with the very creatures she hunts, and even her crippling, season-long depression that she manages to overcome. Because a hero’s only as great as their multitude of strengths and weaknesses that simultaneously balance and define one another; sometimes they even change definition, as strengths become weaknesses and vice versa. Buffy’s not a hero because she’s the super-powered chosen one, but because she’s 100% human, in all of its wonderful and not-so-wonderful forms.

Joss Whedon understands this perfectly, and (almost) always put Buffy‘s characters at the forefront, allowing the action to enhance and reveal even the most minuscule details about the show’s multitude of characters. Naturally, he makes no changes in the finale, and he even forces the audience to move on from Sunnydale and seven years of Buffy in unison with Buffy and her gang of loyal Scoobies. As Buffy looks toward the future (literally–there’s a lovely shot of her staring down the road that leads out of Sunnydale), you can’t help but smile along with her when Dawn asks “What are we gonna do now?,” and Buffy realizes the world has finally opened up for her.

Very few shows are given the chance to end on such a high note, and even fewer remain so well loved a decade after airing. “Chosen” wholeheartedly deserves its praise, not only for bringing Buffy fans such open-ended and hopeful closure, but also for rounding out this chapter of Buffy’s life in such a brilliant and satisfying way.

– Ashley Laggan

 

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