I liked Season 7 for the most part. Sure, it had its problems, but what season hasn't? Having rewatched the first eight episodes again (without long breaks in between) I'm enjoying the season even more. There are several exceedingly good episodes (Beneath You, Same Time, Same Place, Help) and one that could probably rank amongst Buffy's all time greats - Conversations with Dead People. Within these and the rest of the eps are some marvelous character moments both great and small.
Whatever problems with the season that there were seem to lie in the main story arc involving the FE. And the problems may have begun with Sleeper. I like Sleeper - a lot. But, the revelation of Spike's killing and why raises many questions and I'm not certain they were ever really answered.
Actually, the first signs of plotholes may have been planted in CwDP. Why did the FE need Andrew and Jonathon to dig up the seal? Couldn't it have had Caleb lend him a couple Bringers to do the job? Enough of them were around to kidnap and bleed Spike a couple of eps later. I can seem to let that go because it was a way to bring Jonathon and Andrew into the story and set them on their own redemptive paths.
But, the FE's intent in Sleeper confuses me. Does it just get it's jollies screwing with people? I can actually except that. It's successfully scaring the crap out of Willow and Dawn, keeping the Slayer off balance, and tormenting Spike. Spike, already living with guilt via the voices of his victims, now must deal with the FE in his head. He's a puppet forced to kill without consent or knowledge.
Yet, it seems the FE has more plans for Spike then just additional craziness. It specifically tells Spike after he phones Buffy "It's not time yet. You're going against the plan, but we can make it work." Then we proceed to the house, Spike being triggered and attacking Buffy, the mass vamp attack (On a side note, don't vamps rise after twenty four hours? Some of those guys and gals had been buried for days. I know, shut up Asta, you're nitpicking.), then Spike coming to his senses after licking Buffy :p.
Now the tables seem to turn. The FE having failed with Spike switches gears and patiently waits for Buffy to take out Spike. None of what has happened, or it believes is about to, will apparently spoil it's grand plan. And while we know now what the plan was - open the Hellmouth, unleash the Ubervamps, and bring Hell on earth - I'm not seeing how any of this had anything to do with that.
There are several possibilities. The FE used Spike greatly increase the vampire population in order to keep Buffy occupied while the FE put the real plan into action. It used Spike knowing he'd be revealed as 'evil' eventually and she'd have to kill him. Which, emotionally, would have devestated her and kept her off balance while the FE reaked havoc. And if Buffy failed to fall into the trap, it would simply have Spike kill Buffy eliminating it's greatest threat.
I argued all season the FE needed one of them eliminated because, in the end, it would be both of them, together, to save the world. I was right about that. Without the two of them unleashing their various powers, the FE would have succeeded. Still, if my theories were correct, ME could have made their intent a bit clearer. Or, if I'm wrong, they could have made their intent clearer. ;)
I've rambled long enough and am probably leading you to question my original statement about liking this season. I think it's time to go to bed. :)
ETA: chase820 just posted some interesting stuff about the Tampa Con. For some reason I thought James' son would be older. Oh, and I was right...again! (I love being right ;) James is shooting some of his stuff for Angel in advance because Joss was kind enough to release him to do the film. If this film will further James' career, I'm all for less Spike time. :)
Another ETA: Just finished watching Dead Zone. What the frell? Next week Johnny helps hunt down Osama? Puh-leeze. In the premier he faced down a tornado. Last week he stopped a 21st century plague. And now this?