Oh, how many times have you wished that you could take the reins of your favorite show? Especially when it started to slide off the path into a very bad place? Here’s our list of things we would have changed – and how we would write the series finale.
If Melynee Wrote Buffy
In seven seasons worth of story arcs, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has covered a lot of ground–from Buffy finding, losing, finding again and finally losing Angel for good; to bad guys turning good and good guys bad; to new loves; to finally getting out of high school; to the loss of those we held most dear. And, of course, she dies several times along the way. But there are still some things missing–events we never got to see, questions we haven’t gotten an answer to. And what better time to bring them up than right now, with The End less than a week away.
First, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way. As I mentioned in our Buffy Bad list, it would have been nice to see one really good female Big Bad. And while her year-long battle with magic-as-addiction and the death of Tara left Willow “bad” at the end of Season Six, I would have liked at some point to see one of the Scooby Gang as a season-long villain; to see a descent chosen–motivated not by outside forces but by his or her own inner demons (so to speak)–and the result of those decisions on the Gang as a whole. They came close, with Willow, but by having her “get better” in the middle of the season, and precipitating her final snap with Tara’s death, Willow was robbed of agency in her villain-hood. How much more interesting would it have been if one of Buffy’s inner circle went bad simply because she wanted to be? Perhaps even more interesting, what if Buffy went bad? Not just naughty-sex-having, I’m-The-Slayer-so-I-can-treat-the-plebes-however-I-want badness, but all-out, I-think-I’d-like-go-to-Hell-and-I’m-gonna-bring-all-you-suckers-along-with-me evility. At the end, Buffy is alone; we’ve heard it enough times by now, we know the drill. But how much more alone would she be if she were the one to betray her own destiny?
These, however, are choices that would have to have been made a long time ago. Where does this leave us today? There are a couple of options for a series that is ending. Buffy and the Gang pretty much have to win; I can’t imagine an ending in which The First gains control over the world, and humanity disappears under a horde of uber-vamps. Of course Joss frequently chooses to imagine that which we can’t, so who knows? But assuming the Gang is successful, and humanity is allowed to continue, the central question becomes what happens to Buffy?
Not that this is the question that is closest to my heart. No, in that personal fantasy Willow realizes that sexuality doesn’t have to necessarily be “either/or,” and instead can be “and,” and she and Xander make many beautiful little babies together, and who cares about Buffy? But the show is not called Willow and Xander the Non-Vampire Slayers, and whatever my personal feeling, it is Buffy’s fate that hangs in the balance. So, in option one Buffy lives, and continues as Slayer. A valid ending, maybe, but a flawed one. Telling a story involves a character on a journey; she has to grow, or at least change, in some way. If Buffy is alive and Slaying at the end of the show, she has not fundamentally changed from the point at which the show began, and the story has gone nowhere.
In option two, Buffy survives but is no longer The Slayer. I’m not talking about a renunciation–she’s tried that enough times that it’s pretty clear she can’t do it just by wishing–but, rather, that she is stripped of her destiny by some means which I leave to more imaginative minds than my own. This solves the dilemma of change for the character; Buffy, despite all her ambivalence about it, is defined by being The Slayer. There are intriguing questions raised when that definition is removed and she must write her own. The added bonus, naturally, is that the condition is potentially reversible, should Sarah’s movie career not ascend to the glowing heights predicted by the success of Scooby Doo and Simply Irresistible.
The third option, of course, is that Buffy really and truly, not just a little, once and for all dies. It’s an option that makes sense not just logistically–the heroine dies so the series ends, and vice versa–but thematically. In a performative medium–television, film, theatre–introducing an active object sets up a tension in the audience that can only be released when the object is used. When the plucky best friend mentions the gun she keeps on the top shelf in her closet, right behind the boxes of Manolo Blahniks, you can be sure it’ll be fired before the story’s finished. By killing Buffy not just once, but repeatedly, and not leaving her that way, Joss has set the audience up for a pay-off that can only occur when she, finally, can’t come back. Of course, the fact that I grow weary of the “me, me, me”-ness necessary to keep Buffy the “one girl, blah blah blah” makes this option personally gratifying, as well.
I’m hoping that Joss, in his wily-ness, will manage to dodge all these outcomes, and come up with an ending no one else could have thought of–that is why he’s Joss, after all. Just so long as Willow ends up in Xander’s arms.
If Amanda Wrote Buffy
In order for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series to truly end the way I’d like it to, we’d have to do a u-turn around season four, and completely rewrite the series. Somehow that doesn’t seem fair for this exercise, though, because the reality is that the show is not the same as it was three or four seasons ago. The characters have been completely transformed (with the exception of Buffy, who’s pretty much exactly the same, with a little extra narcissism), and the entire feel of the show has been altered. I guess it’s pretty obvious that I’m one of those fans who longs for the good old days, huh? Given the restriction of the show being what it is currently, there are two things I’d like to see at the end of this series.
The first is that Buffy should die, and stay good and dead. It is my understanding that The First was able to gain a foothold because Buffy’s raising-from-the-dead upset some sort of universal balance. Therefore, really, the only thing that should be able to restore that balance is Buffy’s death. This type of ending also makes me fearful. Because what I don’t want is another Sacrificial Buffy moment. I do not want her running headlong into battle, knowing she will die, so that others may live. Buffy is not my Jesus.
I guess you could say that the Buffy Death scenario is my safe option. It’s not very imaginative, and it’s not very hopeful, and it’s not very inclusive for the way I want a series to end – a series that I’ve spent seven years growing alongside. So I should probably admit that how I truly want the series to end is as it began.
Xander, Willow, Giles and Buffy.
I want just one moment for each of them, where they are able to admit what they have all meant to each other. I’m not looking for speechifying or confessions of love or physical comfort. I’d like for Giles to look over the cover of a book at Willow in the middle of it all, and for the two of them to connect like they haven’t in years. I’d like for Buffy to apologize to Giles, for all her hubris, and admit that she wouldn’t be a thing without him. I want Xander and Willow to have five seconds together, where I can really believe that they remember that one time once upon a time a goofy kid used to do the Snoopy Dance to make his friend laugh. I would like a scene, like at the end of “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date,” where they all sit together, and realize that their lives are different, but that they aren’t alone because they are together.
Mostly, I’d just like the last seven years to be worth it, for me and for the characters.
In order to make this happen, though, all the extraneous characters have to step back. I do not give a fuck about the slayers-in-training. I don’t care about what happens to Spike, or Principal Wood. Anya and Dawn and Faith should just be background noise at this point. Because, in my opinion, this show was never about all those other people. It was about the original four. Anyone else who showed up should have only been relevant as he or she affected the original four. The finale is a brief moment in time where the Mutant Enemy gang can prove they never forgot that.
If Amy Wrote Buffy
I came into Buffy late, during the summer between second and third season. I had caught up due to The WB’s diligent programming on Monday and Tuesday nights, and was an immediate fan. It was punchy, intelligent and subtly powerful – and had these rich, developed characters that I couldn’t wait to see each week. Buffy led me to the Bronze, the posting board community, and it’s due to the friends (especially my fellow popgurls) that I’ve met through that community that I’ve remained tied into the show long after I lost interest. Because I have lost interest – the past three years have been mediocre at best, with some shining moments. But the moments are few and far between.
If I could go back and fix some of my biggest problems with Buffy, these are the things I would have done differently:
- Willow Goes GAY
There are so many things that I can say here, so I’ll keep my Willow/Xander ‘shippiness to a minimum. First off – I don’t buy it. I believe that Willow is attracted to men and women, but I don’t believe that she’s a lesbian. One word: Oz. See, I would accept that Willow was gay if all she had done was pine after Xander, but she loved Oz. Was in love with Oz. And is still in love with Oz, somewhere in her heart. And, while not the fist-pumping jock, Oz is most certainly male. So I don’t understand why the writers feel this obsessive need to completely disregard that love. Oh, I forgot, Tara died.And lord knows that once your girlfriend dies, you can never acknowledge the male sex.Anyway, aside from my issues with the Mutant Enemy staff ignoring the idea of bisexuality, I would like to address the ridiculous lines they had Alyson say. Was it really necessary to have her either announce her gayness, her predilection for breasts or other not-so-thinly-veiled Sapphic comments? What bothers me most is that Willow was never so obsessively blunt about, well, anything like this. Even references to her Judaism were cute and subtle. And not once did I ever hear Willow proclaim that she needed some deep-dicking, so what’s with the change? Now, I have had friends who were straight, then kissed one girl and decided they were gay, feeling that they needed to proclaim their sexuality in every spare moment. That doesn’t make them any more gay, nor does it make Willow any less bi. As my friend Tracy once said, “We know you’re a lesbian, Will. Let me tell you something. Lesbians don’t just stand around and proclaim their gayness all the time. They actually run around and *be* lesbians!”
At first, I loved the idea of Tara. I was really hoping for a knowledgeable witch to come in and guide Willow. And I loved the way their relationship unraveled. Then quiet, unsure Tara lost any smidgen of personality and became a talking head: “Willow will know what to do! Willow will know what to do!” It was so disappointing that I barely paid any attention when she was onscreen. Things perked up a bit when Tara and Buffy struck up a friendship, and I felt that was quite well done. Then they got Willow and Tara back together and *poof* went the Buffy/Tara chemistry. I didn’t even care when Tara was shot, I was too bored.
Contrary to public belief, or, really, my whining – I didn’t hate Anya from the beginning. When she arrived in “The Wish,” I thought she was a great character that would make a great friend to Cordelia. She’s funny and sassy in “Doppelgangland,” but apparently something happened during her escape from town after graduation. Either her brain got sucked out or she had a massive personality transplant because Anya came back as a cheap Cordy – the clothes were similar but there was no snark, no spark. Soon after she became a one-trick pony (how many freakin’ times can they write about her liking sex?) and the initial Anya was a distant memory. Sad, really. She could have been great. Not Xander-worthy, but still great.
They wanted to inject new life into the show, I get it. But did they have to do it with Dawn? Dawn, annoying girl from hell? Dawn, whiny bratty chick that occasionally didn’t grate on my nerves but TPTB would soon rectify that and I wanted to slap the hell out of her?
Okay, so I haven’t been paying that much attention to this season, especially since the potential slayers came along. (Although I did like Amanda, but that’s my Freaks and Geeks loyalty.) Anyway, Kennedy just irritates me. If they were desperate to get Willow a new chick, why couldn’t they get her someone, well, non-annoying? When Michelle recaps things for me, she always refers to her as “the stupid Kennedy.” That’s pretty darn fitting in my opinion.
- Sunday in “The Freshman”
I honestly didn’t hate the idea of the Initiative, and I realized that they killed Sunday off in the first episode because Buffy needed to be reminded that she was a capable!girl! But I still miss Sunday. She was snarky, smart and fun to watch. I would have loved to see her team up with Spike, if only to be a thorn in the Initiative’s side. Oh, and Harmony would get jealous and engage in all sorts of things for Spike’s attention – pure.comedy.gold.
- The Buffy/Spike Relationship
I am not a huge Buffy fan, nor do I dig the de-chipped Spike all that much. But I have to admit that when she came back from Heaven and admitted only to Spike her misery of being on earth – I fell in love with their friendship. He understood her – her loneliness, her apartness, her wondering what the hell she was to do with her life. There is great beauty in the quiet moments with them, so much potential in their friendship. Then Mutant Enemy made it all about sex and fucked it up. It still makes me sad.
The gurls have all come up with some great potential endings, and I have to say that I’m hard-pressed to come up with something different. In some ways, I would have loved to see them save “Normal Again” until the finale – weaving the events of the big fight with Buffy in the insane asylum. Make it ambiguous enough to keep the audience from feeling cheated, but leave them thinking – wondering what had really gone on in the past seven years.
A while ago, I’d discussed potential endings with Kristen, who thought of this: the entire town of Sunnydale and everyone in it to get sucked into the Hellmouth. Buffy gets on a bus or into a car and drives away. Then we switch to another city, another street, another dark alley – an indeterminate amount of time later. A blonde-haired girl in a dark alley being stalked by someone. She turns and stakes him. It’s Buffy. Fade to black.
And a third, and completely narcissistic option would be that Buffy dies and the remaining Scoobies say their goodbyes and go their separate ways. Maybe ten years down the road, Willow runs into Xander – at a hospital, perhaps? – and she realizes that she has been running all this time only to find him, her home. Sure that may be hard to script – hell, even Dawson’s Creek only went five years into the future. But I got the ending I wanted from them, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed on this one.
If Michelle Wrote Buffy
I apologize for this ungraceful intro, I wasn’t aware we were doing intros, so I come slightly unprepared. As I seem to have left my wit at the door this morning, I’m just going to say that no matter what bitterness Mutant Enemy has fostered in me over the years over the mishandling of the characters I loved, I still love Buffy even if I no longer love Buffy, if that makes any sense. I loved her before she became a bitter, strung out Spike groupie. I still think of her fondly. I still think of the others fondly. But am I attached to them any longer? No. Years of superfluous characters and characters that I felt were important but ME obviously didn’t changed that. How can I care about someone who’s never there, or is only there for a five second comic bit? I can’t. So while this season seemed to be designed merely to annoy me (to be fair, only after “Conversations With Dead People” is this true), there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the people who made me add –age to the end of every word and who inspired in me the random need to kick people as I pass them in the halls. But, that being said, there are obviously things that I would change. Ultimately, these are the things I wish they had done right:
- The Gift
Most of Season Five was pulled out of each writer’s individual ass each episode, and therefore is not high on my list of quality. But for a season that wandered without direction or a guiding principal or, so it seems, a coherently thought out plot, they managed to wrap it all up, if not convincingly (Summers’ blood, anyone?), at least beautifully. I just wish they had given Buffy an actual reason to die. That’s right, this ending, which would have been perfect for the series ending, was ruined by the fact that there was no reason for it. The way they wrote it, Buffy died a selfish death. Of course, they attempted to film it as if she was making a brave sacrifice, but the larger sacrifice would have been to push Dawn off the tower, and they couldn’t really hide the fact that they weren’t sure what was going on all season and tried to fix it in 5 minutes.
- Willow and magic
Instead of making it about power, even though that’s their annoying tagline this year and would have totally fit in with Willow’s not wanting to be just Willow, it was all about addiction. Crappy, afterschool special addiction. Shakes in the shower addiction. Guzzling water addiction. Whatever.
Introduced as a bad ass wicca who’d been studying all of her life, she was quickly downgraded to a shy girl sidekick without a personality that was only there to stroke Willow’s ego. A complete waste of a character.
- Season 7
If you insist on doing something with the stupid First Evil, have a freaking plan. Make it interesting. Don’t rehash the same freaking story and speech for 10 episodes. It’s just not cool.
As for the way it should end, well, I would love for Buffy to be the last one standing. To literally have her standing there alone, lost, after having sacrificed everything and everyone she’s ever loved, not knowing where to go. She’s died for the world twice, seeing the Scoobs realize it’s their turn to make the sacrifice would be hauntingly wonderful. I would love to have a moment in the middle of battle when Buffy realizes what she has to do-whether it be to blow up the building they are all in when she knows there’s no way she can get everyone out in time or she has to cast a spell or wield a weapon that destroys all in its wake, I want to see the Scoobs realize what’s going on, and realize it has to be. Maybe a nod from Xander, a look from Giles and a small, tentative smile from Willow before Buffy turns and does what she has to do.
And nary a speech nor bus in sight.