Buffy Reflections: Season 7

All journeys come to an end, now don’t they? Well there are still comics to get to and all that, but this journey, the actual series, and chiefly my experience of watching it over seven beautiful months is through.

So what have we learned? That I like Buffy, mostly.

And that I do not understand how so many people say the show loses it’s way in the final two seasons; I considered them both entertaining as hell.

True, the setup for this last year had me apprehensive, what with the premiere’s chief concern being the reopening of Sunnydale High. I felt we’d moved past that, and while the fourth season was the weakest, since then the series had found a clear identity outside of its secondary school origins.

My concerns were soon put to rest, as the season’s overall theme of going back to the beginning tied in nicely with the new and improved annex of learning and its notoriously high body count. It helped that—save for the hilarious “Him”—not many episodes actually utilized the setting in the same way as the first couple years of the show might have.

Instead it was all about the Hellmouth, and the incorporeal big bad trying to open it. The First Evil was a risky move, and there were many ways the idea of an antagonist who took on the intangible form of the deceased might have failed, but instead it made for some great viewing. Buffy as its default form (she’s died twice, after all) was a perfect conceit that made sense and no doubt lessened the burden on the guest star budget.

More than any other, it seemed like the seventh season was driven entirely by its central conflict, yet it still managed to have fun and do all of the characters justice.

Willow had to adjust to her life after nearly ending the world, and did so with the adorable charm I’d come to expect (not to mention her incredibly attractive new love interest). Xander never had too much of the spotlight, but anchored the group like always. Giles might as well never have left the show at all, since he was the special guest for something like half these episodes. Spike was far more damaged than I thought he might be after getting his soul back, and the final progression of his relationship with Buffy was absolute beauty. Andrew endearingly and awkwardly earned a place for himself amongst the scoobies after he reached his darkest point earlier in the season (RIP Jonathan). Anya had a sad final few months as she became human for good, but managed to admit her genuine love for our species before the end. Faith returned to take part in the climactic episodes in a manner that felt completely natural and fitting, even if she hadn’t been on the show in three years.

Oh, and Dawn didn’t get in the way too much.

The new characters were able to find places for themselves as well. Principal Wood was a great addition following his wonderfully over-the-top mystique before we learned his history. And though he only had a few episodes, Nathan Fillion’s Caleb was an incredible villain.

Naturally, Buffy herself was the focal point as she became general of a slayer army in order to defeat the forces of evil once and for all (for now). I’m not sure I bought everyone rejecting her leadership at the eleventh hour, but the inevitable reconciliation meant it didn’t matter too much.

This was a fun, thrilling final season to a show that I loved almost from the start. It’s grown to become one of my favorite TV series, and something I now regard as near-essential viewing. Watching it was long overdue, and I’m not sad at all to have finished. Merely grateful I got to go along for the ride.

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