Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (though if you’re only joining it now, where have you been?): Faith came back, the Potentials were an army, Caleb gouged Xander’s eye out, Caleb and The First were protecting something, the last episode happened, and there was a bomb.
The episode opens where Touched‘s cliffhanger left off – with the bomb exploding into a massive CGI ball of fire, with Potential Slayers flying out of it. Oh dear.
Meanwhile, Caleb tries to scare Buffy away from the mystical Slayer scythe, but she pulls it out of the rock like it’s a knife in butter, so, HA, Caleb, you suck. Post-credits (and wow, that was a freakily short pre-credits sequence), unfortunately, The First prevents Buffy from using her shiny new scythe to chop Caleb up by letting slip that “Faith go boom!”, so Buffy runs off to find the girls.
The girls, regrettably, are all lying in a pile of rubble; most of them are injured, some of them, including Faith, look dead. There are loads of Potentials in this scene I don’t remember even seeing before, but there were a lot of them so perhaps I just forgot about them. As if that wasn’t bad enough, a load of uber-vamps show up…
At Buffy’s, Andrew gets home with a ton of junk food, having raided a grocery store. Giles eats jaffa cakes, and everyone realises that virtually everyone who’s handy in a fight has disappeared and not come back. Oops.
Just as the uber-vamps are about to chow down on the Potentials, Buffy shows up with the magic scythe and chops them all up, then helps all the injured girls get back to her house where Andrew and Anya do their best to bandage them up using “festive” strips torn from bedsheets. There’s a really fun bit where Andrew and Anya start bonding over drinking the alcohol they’re using to dress wounds, and make a plan to rob some medical supplies from a hospital; apparently, I just love anything where people are being nice to one another, as opposed to bits where they sit and argue. I am totally a sap. Plus, after a couple of weeks of wearing utterly ridiculous clothes and silly hats, Anya’s looking fantastic – her hair is gorgeous. Yay!
The main Scoobies are all in research mode, trying to find out what the scythe might be. Buffy takes Xander aside and asks him for a favour, which he initially refuses because it’ll take him out of the game. This, too, is another scene I loved – I’m making a conscious effort to find the good bits here and not worry too much, I love anything where Xander gets to be earnest and heartfelt anyway, and this is just pitch-perfect. Xander says he always thought he’d be at Buffy’s side “at the end”, which leads to much backtracking because he basically just said she’s going to die in this fight, and he doesn’t want her to move him away from the action, but whatever she’s asking him to do is apparently more important…
There’s a brief Willow and Giles interlude here where they find out what the scythe is, but it’s quite dull. Xander carries out Buffy’s secretive plan – drugging Dawn and driving her far, far away from Sunnydale – and Caleb and The First have a moment, melding together so that Caleb will be stronger when Buffy comes to kill him, yadda yadda yadda, skip to the end…
Buffy goes to talk to Faith, and the two of them have an endearing heartfelt conversation about the difficulties of being the Slayer, and how it’s “a burden we can’t share.” Heh, heh. I do admire the way all of season 7’s themes tie up together in the finale, but I still can’t quite get used to the way they’re inventing problems purely in order to solve them again. Luckily, End of Days has another trick up its sleeve – a conversation between Buffy and Spike, where they both admit to having had the best night of their lives together, makes me actually cry. I didn’t expect that, but y’know. Like I said, I’m a sap.
Before I have time to get too weepy, the scene changes to Andrew and Anya at the hospital. This, too, is adorable and cute and heart-wrenching, as the two former villains discuss why they’re sticking around to fight on the side of good this time. And then they have a wheelchair fight. Hee. This is one of my all time favourite scenes in the whole series; it’s such a weird combination of characters, Anya and Andrew, and yet it works shockingly well.
Back in the part of the episode where actual plot is happening, Buffy visits the graveyard and finds a weird old woman in a tomb. She explains that the Shadow Men that Buffy fought against a few episodes ago, the ones who tried to imbue her with demonic power, eventually became the Watchers – which, judging by what we’ve seen of the Watchers Council, makes a surprising amount of sense – but that there’s another shadowy group of people sticking their oar in, the Guardians. These are, apparently, a group of women who watch the Watchers, and they’re the ones who made the scythe for the Slayer. This is complete and utter making-it-up-as-we-go-along nonsense, but I’m willing to forgive it because I was genuinely shocked (and jumped out of my seat) when Caleb appeared behind her and snapped her neck. And I’ve seen this before.
Meanwhile, Dawn wakes up, discovers what Xander’s doing… and tasers him in the neck, climbs over him into the driver’s seat, and sets off back to Sunnydale. Aw, I like Dawn, even if her character development has made little to no sense this season. I like where she is now, though.
Back in Sunnydale, Buffy is fighting Caleb and losing, when all of a sudden Angel steps out of the shadows and… er, quickly steps back into them again, commentating on the fight but letting Buffy kick Caleb’s ass for herself. I kind of get that that’s necessary, because the end of this series is all about the girl power, but this still comes off sort of condescending. Anyway, Buffy slices Caleb up a bit and then jumps into Angel’s arms for a kiss. Which is really, really, really, really stupid and annoying – and, typically, Spike’s watching from the shadows, with The First as Buffy beside him. She whispers “That bitch” and that’s it for the episode. Wow, there’s a lot left to happen in one episode.