The Gift (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
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|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world by jumping into the portal
|Directed by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Joss Whedon|
|Original air date||May 22, 2001|
"The Gift" is the fifth season finale, and the 100th episode, of the fantasy-horror television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). The episode serves as the "WB Finale" of the series, as it moved to the UPN channel for the remainder of the series.
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 the hell-god 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 (in "Intervention"), 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. Buffy attacks Glory with the Dagon sphere, but Glory manages to destroy it. As they fight Glory punches off her head, revealing she is actually fighting Buffy's robot double. Buffy surprises Glory by attacking her with Olaf's Hammer, and then races to save Dawn, but Glory slows her down as they battle on the tower. The two of them fall to the ground below and Xander uses a crane to hit Glory with a wrecking ball. Buffy beats Glory with the hammer until she reverts to Ben, but spares his life, telling him that Glory must never return or they will both die. With the others' attention diverted, Giles kills Ben by suffocating him, to prevent Glory's re-emergence.
With the window of time to stop the ritual about to close, the Scoobies spot someone up on the scaffolding with Dawn. Willow telepathically tells Spike to go up to Dawn, and she and Tara magically clear a path for him by throwing aside Glory's minions and guards. Spike finds Doc the demon threatening to start the ritual. A fight ensues, but Doc tosses Spike off the scaffolding and then cuts into Dawn with shallow cuts, starting the apocalyptic ritual. Buffy reaches the top, kills Doc 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, stops her. Buffy throws herself into the portal, which closes when she dies. She is buried with the epitaph, "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 (in "Villains")- 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.
- In response to Buffy's declaration that she'll kill anyone who tries to hurt Dawn, Spike says, "Well, not exactly the Saint Crispin's Day speech, was it?" To which Giles replies, "We few, we happy few--" and Spike finishes, "we band of buggered." The original line is, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers."
- Xander exclaims that smart chicks are hot and Willow asks, "You couldn't have figured that out in the tenth grade?" This is a reference to the crush Willow had on Xander during Seasons 1 and 2. Her feelings are unrequited until Season 3.
- On her way out of the magic shop, Tara points to Giles and says, "you're a killer" foreshadowing that Giles will kill Ben.
- Buffy dies a second time; the first was in "Prophecy Girl". She will joke about this in "Once More, with Feeling".
- Spike is invited back into Buffy's home after being banned in "Crush". He will not be disinvited again, even after his attack on Buffy in season six.
- Spike also says to Buffy while they are getting weapons, "I always knew I would go down fighting" which foreshadows his death to save the world in season seven.
- 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. Additionally, in an instance of foreshadowing in the episode "Who Are You", if you look closer at Joyce's credit card, it expires in May 2001–the month Buffy dies in "The Gift" (aired May 22, 2001). Faith (in Buffy's body) also words this expiration date while buying a plane ticket on the phone.
- 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. Her death allows the First Evil to take her form, as seen in the seventh season premiere episode "Lessons."
- Giles commits murder for the first time when he kills Glory while she is in the form of Ben, suffocating him. Giles has never directly taken a human life (with the exception of accidentally causing the death of a friend when he and a group of Wiccans summoned the demon Eyghon, which is revealed in Season Two). Before he kills him, Giles explains to Ben that Buffy could never bring herself to kill a human, a statement which directly contradicts the events in "Spiral", when Buffy kills several Knights of Byzantium, who are human, albeit in defense of herself and the gang. He most likely meant Buffy could never commit a murder since the knights she killed were in self-defense.
- 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, archived from the original on September 27, 2007
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