I’ve never been so tempted to sugarcoat a review. My memories of this show are so great that it just feels wrong to end things on a down note. I’ll have something to say about the series as a whole next week, but this is the last time I’ll be reviewing a particular season and I must admit that it simply isn’t good. Not, “not good for Buffy,” but just plain not good. There are still some great elements here and plenty to enjoy on a selective rewatch but the parts of the series I loved had to compete for scarce screentime with too many that I didn’t. It’s still Buffy, and I can’t really say that I hate it but, as a season of television, it fails.
Andrew! By far the best addition in season seven’s cripplingly bloated cast, Tucker’s brother brought the funny every time. More important than his capacity as a joke machine, he had fabulous chemistry with every other cast member. A few choice tidbits to take away:
Check out Spike and the principal… There’s something going on there. Sexual tension you could cut with a knife.
A little tale I like to call Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyres.
I respected your ideas for evil projects and I thought you had good follow through.
Speaking of Andrew, “Storyteller” is the best episode of the season and the only real contender to be among Buffy‘s best. I’d probably call it the show’s finest piece of genre busting and that’s saying a lot. Honourable mention to “Conversations with Dead People” “Sleeper” and “Lies my Parents Told Me”
I’ll give Buffy & Spike’s relationship a marginal “worked” here. I wasn’t wild about the conclusion but, for the most part, they managed to explore the ensouled vampire romance without retreading Buffy/Angel.
Further to the above, James Marsters brought his A game this season. Looking back on it, I’m on the fence about Spike’s arc, but none of the fault lies in the performance.
Caleb. Nathan Fillion’s always a joy to watch and while his presence was far too brief, it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Caleb was a refreshingly straightforward representative of misogyny for Buffy to fight, one so entertaining he managed the seemingly impossible task of elevating The First.
I’ll give it up for Dawn as the most improved Scoobie. She wasn’t exactly a pivotal part of the season but all it took for her to become a worthwhile character was to stop whining and start contributing. Who knew?
It’s clear from my review, but I’ll say it again, Buffy ended in the best way possible. Thematically speaking. Defying expectations was a central pillar of Buffy and for her story to end with her defying her own destiny just felt right.
Potentials! This one’s obvious but I’ll say it anyway. Even if we set aside the fact that their personalities seemed to range between nonexistent and annoying, the fact remains that adding this many characters to an already heavy ensemble was simply ill conceived and left the characters we care about having to vie for screen time with ones we didn’t.
Further to the above, Xander and Willow were pretty lost all season. I’m not sure which is worse; Xander, who had nothing of significance to do all season or Willow,who had an interesting story completely boggled through inattention.
Add Giles to the list of misused characters as his falling out with Buffy was a story that wasn’t. I’ll also point out that his return, partial or not, was the first time since season five that the core four have been together for an extended period. Combined with the return to Sunnydale High this was a colossal missed opportunity for some old school Buffy stories.
The First Evil may be Buffy‘s worst evil and that’s really saying something when it’s got Adam to contend with. The source of all Bads, big and little, was certainly a cool concept, but “evil itself” is a damn tricking thing to pull off and this season simply wasn’t up to the task. Faceless and incorporeal, the First was a hard villain to care about and while I can appreciate it being more about mind games than carnage, those mind games came to very little. Its biggest “win” was convincing Andrew to kill Jonathan and we’d largely forgotten about that by the time the finale rolled around. Shouldn’t the ultimate evil be able to do more than council suicide to one Potential?
There was way too much in this season that never came to anything. What was The First’s plan for Spike? What was up with the Joyce visions? Why bother going back to the high school? Where was the implied Buffy/Faith confrontation?
Kennedy. ‘nuf said.
Principal Wood was a pretty pointless character. The son of a Slayer wasn’t a bad idea but he didn’t really add anything to the season beyond being a foe for Spike and his presence beyond that confrontation was utterly baffling. Wouldn’t it have been cooler if he’d been evil and/or died?
Did I say The First was Buffy‘s worst villain? I forgot about the Turok-Han. Let’s take a vampire, strip away the humanity that makes them interesting and make them look like an orc. Yeah, great idea.
I’ve already taken plenty of shots at “Chosen,” but to add some more: what the hell was up with that run along the rooftops? Other season low points include “Empty Places” “First Date” & “Him”