Chosen (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
The final image of the series.
|Episode no.||Season 7
|Directed by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Joss Whedon|
|Original air date||May 20, 2003|
"Chosen" is the series finale of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the 22nd episode of season 7 and the 144th episode of the series. It was written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon and originally aired on UPN on May 20, 2003. The Buffy story would not be continued beyond this point until "The Long Way Home", a comic book, in 2007.
A bloody Caleb rises and Buffy finally kills him with the scythe by slicing him in two from the crotch up. Angel has brought an amulet intended to be worn by someone ensouled, yet more than human. He tells her he will fight alongside her, but she turns him down, asking him to instead organize a second front in case she loses to The First. They discuss Spike, his soul, and Buffy's feelings for him, with Angel clearly unsettled and jealous. When Angel asks whether he has a place in her future, Buffy explains that she still needs to grow up; there might be a future for them, but it will be a long time coming, if ever. Angel walks into the shadows (as in his very first appearance), saying with a smile, "I ain't getting any older."
Back at the house, Dawn angrily kicks Buffy in the shin for having Xander try to take her away from Sunnydale in the previous episode. Spike is in the basement, working out his anger on a punching bag with a crude drawing of Angel's face on it. He asks for the amulet, whose exchange he had witnessed from the shadows, and she explains that it is very powerful and meant only for a champion. She then hands it to him. Buffy tells Spike coyly that Faith is still sleeping in her room. Spike says he doesn't want Buffy downstairs with him, because he still has his pride and she has "Angel Breath". When Buffy starts to walk upstairs, he says that the whole pride thing was just a smoke-screen and he has none when it comes to her so she can stay.
Late at night, as Buffy and Spike are sleeping in each other's arms, the First appears to taunt Buffy in the form of Caleb. His words give Buffy a plan; when Spike wakes up, Buffy tells him that she now knows that they will win.
The next morning, Buffy unveils her plan to the potentials off-camera. Afterward, Willow expresses to Kennedy her concerns about using magic again. She says this is the most powerful magic she will have attempted and asks Kennedy to kill her if it turns bad. Faith and Principal Wood also have a discussion while preparing the school for the battle. Wood demonstrates that he understands her defensiveness over getting emotionally involved with men and asks her to give him a chance after the battle. During the night, Buffy goes to the basement, where she apparently spends her last night with Spike.
The next morning, everyone arrives at Sunnydale High in a yellow school bus. The Slayers and the Potentials head to the seal in the basement while Kennedy helps Willow set up her spell in Principal Wood's office. After trying to give a farewell speech, Andrew is dragged off by Anya. Dawn leaves to set up her post with Xander, determined to see her sister again. Principal Wood leaves to wait at his post for Giles. The core four share a moment talking about going to the mall after saving the world which causes Giles to say "the earth is definitely doomed," echoing the end of the second episode of the first season of Buffy. Xander and Willow walk down the hallway with Buffy before each one peels off, leaving Buffy walking alone to the seal. The Potentials, Faith and Spike are waiting, and the potentials/slayers cut their hands to open the seal with their blood. They climb down the hole in the ground and come face to face with the army of Turok-Han. The Ubervamps spot Buffy, Faith and the Potentials, and attack. "Come on, Will," Buffy pleads.
Willow sits in the school principal's office directly above the Seal, the scythe before her. While chanting a spell, she places her hands on the scythe, and both she and the weapon light up in an ethereal glow and her hair turns white, the opposite of Dark Willow. A flashback to Buffy's final speech to the Potentials reveals that Willow is channeling the essence of the scythe in order to activate Potentials all over the world. Defying the tradition of only one slayer per generation, Willow's spell will raise an army strong enough to do battle with The First. As Willow performs the actual magic, Kennedy tells Willow that she is a goddess. "And you're a Slayer," Willow replies. Kennedy takes the scythe to Buffy, who is deep in the fight with Faith and Spike against the army of the Turok-Han, numbering in the thousands.
As she pauses to give orders, Buffy is stabbed through her abdomen from behind by a Turok-Han and falls to the ground. She passes the scythe to Faith and asks her to hold the line. As she lies on the ground, she sees several Slayers fall, including Amanda. In the halls of the school, a few Turok-Han make it to the surface and attack the group guarding the entrances. A small group of Bringers also appear and attack. During the battle, Anya is bisected by a Bringer. Andrew fights until he is overwhelmed. Principal Wood is stabbed by a Bringer who is then killed by Giles. Xander and Dawn take on some Turok-Han who are disintegrated by sunlight when Dawn throws open a skylight window, but more follow. In the Hellmouth, the First then appears to Buffy as a mortally wounded Buffy herself, saying "What more do you want?". Ordering The First to "get out of my face!" Buffy arises with renewed determination and knocks several Turok-Han off the ledge. Other Slayers are reinvigorated as well. Just then, Spike's amulet consumes him in blue light and blasts a hole upward into the sky. The sunlight is channeled through his soul to the amulet and in powerful rays that begin dusting the ubervamps. The ground begins to shake and rocks tumble. The few surviving Slayers start to flee. Buffy tells Spike to do so as well, but he insists on finishing it. They share a quiet moment as the world crumbles around them. With tears in her eyes, Buffy tells Spike she loves him (fulfilling a prediction by Cassie in "Help"); Spike replies, "No you don't. But thanks for saying it." He orders her to leave as he has to stay and finish the job. As Buffy flees, Spike laughs, "I wanna see how it ends." Spike burns to dust as the Hellmouth collapses.
On the way out of the school, the Slayers find Andrew crouched in a corner. Xander yells for Anya, whose body lies nearby, unseen. Dawn pulls him out. The survivors board a school bus and flee. Buffy runs across rooftops to catch up, and leaps onto the top of the bus. The entire town of Sunnydale collapses into the Hellmouth cavern, leaving a large crater.
The ground stops shaking. Andrew comforts Xander by telling him that Anya died saving him; Xander smiles, "That's my girl: always doing the stupid thing." While a few of the new Slayers tend to the wounded, the other survivors look back at the crater's rim.
Dawn ponders, "What are we going to do now?" Buffy slowly begins to smile, knowing that she is no longer alone in the world and that the burden of being the one chosen Slayer is no longer on her shoulders.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Stewart Head and David Boreanaz are the only actors to have appeared in the first and final episodes of the series, with all of them except Boreanaz appearing in the 100th episode as well.
- According to Joss Whedon's commentary, David Boreanaz was only available for 7 hours to film his scenes.
- The lead actors from all four of Joss Whedon's original television shows appear in this episode. Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy, David Boreanaz as Angel, Nathan Fillion as Caleb/Malcolm Reynolds on Firefly and Eliza Dushku as Faith/Echo on Dollhouse. No main actors from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. appear, however.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers/The First
- Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
- Emma Caulfield as Anya Jenkins
- Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
- James Marsters as Spike
- Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Special guest star
- Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
- Eliza Dushku as Faith Lehane
- Nathan Fillion as Caleb/The First
- David Boreanaz as Angel
- Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells
- Iyari Limon as Kennedy
- Sarah Hagan as Amanda
- Indigo as Rona
- D. B. Woodside as Principal Robin Wood
- Felicia Day as Vi
- Mary Wilcher as Shannon
- Demetra Raven as Girl at Bat
- Katie Gray as Indian Girl
- Lisa Ann Cabasa as Injured Girl
- Ally Matsumura as Japanese Girl
- Kelly Wheeler as School Girl
- Jenna Edwards as Trailer Girl
- Julia Ling as Potential with Power #2
Originally the series finale was planned as a two-hour event. Unfortunately UPN only ordered 22 episodes instead of the required 23. This was why stories were so rushed at the end according to Gellar.
It was also necessary for UPN to not have aired a two-hour event, because it may interrupt local programming (likely Newscast).
- Season Seven explores the fundamental separation between the Slayer and other people, which the series finale turns upside down. As J. Lichtenberg points out in her essay on heroism in the Buffyverse, Buffy is a hero because she makes her own rules. "Finally an adult, Buffy rejects the fate laid out for her by the Council of Watchers and a couple of old men millennia ago," Lichtenberg writes. "She finally achieves her goal of normality - not by changing her own nature, but by making others like her."
- In a BBC interview before this episode aired, writer/director Joss Whedon said, "If nobody cries... then I've definitely failed. It's really emotional - you're supposed to laugh, cry and gasp with excitement - as well as take away a beautiful feminist message." He acknowledges that the magic unleashed from the scythe in this episode is "somewhat convenient," but as a writer, it was more important for him to get to the show's message of empowerment by showing what Willow's magic and Buffy's status as the Slayer means to each of them. He also admits that the Turok-Han vampires are far easier to kill in this episode than in previous episodes (in which Anya noted their tough chest bones make staking them extremely difficult) because "Again, I was more interested in the showing the empowerment than I was in the continuity."
- Whedon knew he "wanted to kill somebody, and [...] wanted to do it brutally and suddenly and never really pay it off. [He] wanted a death that was a real middle-of-the-battle death — the opposite of the Spike death, [which was] perfect, noble." Emma Caulfield stated at the beginning of Season 7 that this would be her last season on Buffy, even if the show was renewed for another season, and so Caulfield was fine with having Anya be the character who was killed.
- In the DVD commentary, Joss Whedon says that he wanted Angel to exit the show exactly like he entered, backing out into the darkness behind him.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Giles, Andrew, Amanda, and Xander play the popular role-playing game the night before the final battle.
- Trogdor the Burninator: During the D&D game, Andrew refers to the character Trogdor from Homestar Runner.
- Dawson's Creek: When Angel returns to help Buffy and shows jealousy towards Spike, Buffy gets annoyed and says, "Are you just going to come here and go all Dawson on me every time I have a boyfriend?" implying that Angel's emotions echo that of Dawson Leery, the love-lorn and sensitive title character of the show, which also aired on the WB.
- Alice Cooper: Before Spike dies, he says "I think it's fair to say, school's out for bloody summer," loosely quoting the Alice Cooper song "School's Out".
Reception and reviews
The episode was nominated for both a 2003 Emmy Award in the Category of Special Visual Effects for a Series, and for the 2004 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form.
In the UK, "Chosen" had become the highest rated Buffy episode ever to air on Sky One, reaching 1.32 million viewers.
The Futon Critic named it the 50th best episode of 2003, saying "the final Buffy from Joss Whedon's pen was a reason to celebrate in 2003: back was the snappy dialogue we've come to expect from the show over the years. In essence the show came to life just as its run drew to a close. Not a bad way to go out."
In May 2013, Entertainment Weekly named "Chosen" as number nine on their list of 20 Best TV Series Finales Ever. L.A. Times also named the episode number 13 as their most memorable TV series finales.
- When Spike says Angel wears lifts, it's a reference to his own character who wore lifts in season two when filming with Angel to minimize the height difference.
- After Sunnydale collapses, Giles mentions that the Hellmouth has another opening located in Cleveland. In the alternative reality in which Buffy never came to Sunnydale created by Anya as a vengeance demon in the episode "The Wish", Buffy is mentioned to have wound up in Cleveland instead and performed her Slayer duties there.
- Giles, Buffy, Willow, and Xander have a short private moment together before they separate and go into battle. After watching the three others make some casual jokes even as they face possible death and the destruction of the world, Giles mutters to himself, "The earth is definitely doomed." This is a direct reference to the second episode of the series, "The Harvest." That episode also ends with Giles, frustrated by Buffy's lax attitude towards her responsibilities, muttering, "The earth is doomed."
- When Spike is about to die, Buffy tells him she loves him, to which he replies "No, you don't". This is a reference to a previous discussion they had in Dead Things, when he told her he loved her and she said he really didn't.
- Crossover with Angel: Angel comes to Sunnydale to give Buffy some information obtained in "Home" from Lilah Morgan's ghost.
- Sunnydale is destroyed, and the Hellmouth there closed. The "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign is knocked down for a third time in the series, and again because of Spike's actions (he crashed a car into it when he arrived in "School Hard" and again in "Lovers Walk").
- The First is foiled in its plans, although it remains an omnipresent threat.
- Anya is killed in battle by a Bringer. Whedon joked about having her killed in the fifth season finale, which was originally intended for series finale. She later returns as a ghost in the canonical comic book series Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten.
- All potential Slayers in the world are now actual Slayers, with the attendant physical strength, instincts, and visions. This is explored further in the Angel episode "Damage" and Season Eight.
- Amanda is the only named Potential to die in the final battle. Kennedy, Rona, and Vi go on to have roles in Season Eight. Chao-Ahn and Shannon are both alive at the end of the episode as well, although neither one has made any appearances since then.
- Although Spike dies, he returns nineteen days later in the Angel episode "Conviction" incorporeal until Lindsey McDonald restores his corporeal form.
- Irritated by the jealousy between Angel and Spike, Buffy says "I should let you two just wrestle it out." This comes to pass in "Destiny".
- Cordelia Chase (played by Charisma Carpenter) was the only regular character of the first season not to appear in the series finale.
- Fischer, Paul (October 11, 2004). "Interview: Sarah Michelle Gellar for "The Grudge"". Dark Horizons. Retrieved November 1, 2006.
- Miller, Laura (May 20, 2003), The man behind the Slayer, archived from the original on January 7, 2007, retrieved 2007-07-17
- Lichtenberg, Jacqueline (2004), "Victim Triumphant", in Glenn Yeffeth, Five Seasons of Angel, BenBella, p. 135, ISBN 1-932100-33-4
- Interview with Joss Whedon: The crying game, BBC, retrieved 2007-07-17
- Whedon, Joss, "Chosen" (Commentary by Joss Whedon), Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, Twentieth Century Fox, 2004.
- Buffy Postmortem: Is Spike Dead?, TV Guide, May 23, 2003, retrieved 2014-01-30
- Anya's final vengeance, BBC, 22 July 2002, retrieved 2007-09-28
- Stacy, Greg, FROM THE VAULTS: Emma Caulfield on BUFFY’s final days, retrieved 2007-09-28
- "'Buffy' Finale Stakes Strong Ratings for UPN". Zap2it. May 20, 2003. Archived from the original on February 11, 2007.
- Hugo and Retro Hugo Nominations, retrieved 2008-02-22
- Brian Ford Sullivan (January 12, 2004). "The 50 Best Episodes of 2003 - #50-41". The Futon Critic. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
- West, Abby (May 16, 2013). "20 Best TV Series Finales Ever". Entertainment Weekly. EW.com. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- "Memorable TV series finales". L.A. Times. LATimes.com. May 20, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
- Gage, Christos (March 2014). Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten. Dark Horse Comics. p. 12.
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