The Gift (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
||This article possibly contains original research. (May 2011)|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world by jumping into the portal
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Joss Whedon|
|Original air date||May 22, 2001|
|List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes|
"The Gift" is the fifth season finale, and the 100th episode, of the fantasy-horror television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). It was the last episode to air on The WB Television Network and was labeled as the "series finale", though the show was immediately picked up by rival network UPN for an additional two seasons.
The premise of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that an adolescent girl, Buffy Summers, is chosen by mystical forces and given superhuman powers to kill vampires, demons, and other evil creatures in the fictional town of Sunnydale. She is supported by a close circle of family and friends, nicknamed the Scooby Gang. In "The Gift", Buffy refuses to accept that her sister Dawn's death is the only way to defeat Glory and prepares to do battle. In the end, she discovers the meaning of her "gift".
The Scooby Gang considers plans to foil Glory, but can only suggest killing Buffy's sister Dawn before Glory uses her in the ritual, which Buffy refuses to consider. Anya suggests using the Dagon Sphere, which repels and confuses Glory, and the hammer of Olaf the troll. They hope to delay Glory until her deadline for completing the ritual has passed, preventing an apocalypse and making Dawn useless to her.
As Buffy trains with Giles, she reveals to him that the First Slayer told her, on her vision quest, that death was her gift, an idea she rejects. Buffy also notes that while she survived killing Angel despite loving him, losing Dawn will destroy her. Xander proposes to Anya.
Buffy and Spike gather weapons. She asks him to protect Dawn. Spike tells Buffy he knows she'll never love him, but is grateful that she treats him like a man rather than a monster. Glory's minions build a tower for the ritual to open the gates between dimensions.
Buffy and her allies confront Glory just as the ritual is to begin. Willow launches a magic attack, confusing and dazing Glory, while restoring Tara's sanity. Glory attacks Buffy, managing to destroy the Dagon sphere, thereby revealing she is actually fighting Buffy's robot double. Buffy attacks Glory with Olaf's Hammer, and Xander uses a crane to hit her with a wrecking ball. Buffy beats Glory until she reverts to Ben, but spares her, telling her to leave Sunnydale or die. However, the ritual set in motion continues, threatening apocalyptic destruction.
With the others' attention diverted, Giles kills Ben to prevent Glory's re-emergence. Glory's minions prevent Spike rescuing Dawn. Buffy reaches the top and frees the captive Dawn just as the portal between dimensions opens. Dawn is willing to sacrifice herself to seal the portal, but Buffy, realizing the true meaning of the First Slayer's revelation, in Intervention, stops her. Buffy throws herself into the portal, which closes because of her sacrifice after it kills her. She is buried with an epitaph closing "She saved the world a lot."
In an essay on the ownership of evil, Erma Petrova argues that Giles murdering Ben is comparable to Willow murdering Warren - both victims are human, and their deaths are necessary to prevent further suffering. Although the moral ambiguity of killing Ben is discussed earlier in the episode, as well as Ben's innocence ("I know he's an innocent, but...not like 'Dawn' innocent"), Giles is never shown to have feelings of guilt afterwards; he did what needed to be done. Contrast this with Willow's guilt over murdering Warren in a spirit of revenge, a theme that persists until the end of the series. Petrova feels the difference for Giles is that killing Ben is his only option - the police wouldn't understand the danger, Buffy is morally unable to take a human life, and leaving him alive presents too great a risk. Willow, however, had other options available and yet chose to murder Warren anyway.
Giles recognizes that Buffy, as a hero, lives by a more demanding moral code than most people. Her unique role and abilities confer special responsibilities, including moral rules by which Giles is not bound. When Ben marvels, "She could have killed me", Giles disagrees: "No she couldn’t. Never... She’s a hero, you see. She’s not like us." However, in an essay on the ethics in this episode, C. W. Marshall claims that Giles actually exhibits heroism, as his murder of Ben serves a greater good and protects those he loves.
- When Xander states, "Smart chicks are so hot," Willow asks, "You couldn't have figured that out in 10th grade?", a reminder of her long-time infatuation with Xander in high school.
- Xander proposes to his love, Anya.
- In the episode "Once More With Feeling" Dawn repeats what Buffy had said to her before she died: "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it."
- Rupert Giles thinks the Scoobies are dealing with their sixth apocalypse, and that "it feels like a hundred." This is Buffy's hundredth episode. Previous demonic attempts to destroy Earth include:
- Buffy's death becomes her second on-screen death.
- Spike is invited back into Buffy's home after being banned in "Crush". His invite is not taken away even after his attack on Buffy in season six.
- Spike's statement to Buffy on the staircase that she will never love him mirrors his last words to her in "Chosen".
- Crossover with Angel: in "I Will Remember You", the Oracles told Angel that Buffy would die.
- Crossover with Angel: In the final scene of "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb", Willow goes to Los Angeles to tell Angel and his crew that Buffy is dead.
- The Key ceases to be significant; as Dawn says in the next episode, "I'm not the Key. Or if I am, I don't open anything anymore." In "Storyteller", Andrew Wells says, "Dawn used to be a key. I don't really know what that means."
- Glory is defeated and dies, ending her reign as the "Big Bad" of season five. However, her death would allow the First Evil to take her form, in the seventh season premiere episode "Lessons."
- Petrova, Erma (March 2003), "'You cannot run from your darkness.' / 'Who says I'm running?': Buffy and the Ownership of Evil", Refractory 2
- Kawal, Jason (2003). "Should We Do What Buffy Would Do?". In James B. South (ed.). Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. Open Court Publishing. p. 157.
- Marshall, C. W. (August 9, 2003), "Aeneas the Vampire Slayer: A Roman Model for Why Giles Kills Ben", Slayage 9
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