I’ve read a lot of posts in the past couple of days filled with lots of wonderful ideas and opinions. All of it has gotten me to think and, in some cases, reevaluate some of my original thoughts. Now, when I sit down to put my opinions in some kind of order I come to realize much of what I took away from ‘Chosen’ comes down to the not so simple matter of choice.
I tried to stay spoiler free for the grand finale but I was aware of the title weeks ago. I assumed, wrongly, that in entitling the episode ‘Chosen’ the fate of the world would come down to the Chosen One. But, it’s not about one individual, not all about Buffy. In essence, they were all chosen.
The first choice we see made is from Buffy, who chooses neither Angel nor Spike, but herself. I’ve read a lot of disappointment on various boards over Angels return. His appearance either labeled pointless or undesirable. Yet, Buffy needed Angel to be there. A large portion of Buffy’s feeling of inadequacy, her issues with intimacy, and allowing herself to be cut off from those closest to her can be traced back to her relationship with Angel. Part of her still seems to idealize the relationship as exemplified by the kiss and a hesitancy to just let him walk out of her life. Unlike previous behavior however, Buffy seems to want to let go, having the emotional maturity to realize she doesn’t so much need to be loved, but to love herself first. Only then can she have a healthy relationship. She sees now that she loves both men, yet the relationships with both were doomed to fail - she just wasn’t ready yet.
The cookie analogy may have seemed silly to some, but that speech was the quintessential Buffy logic and the best way for her to express herself. I’ve always believed her to be a smart cookie ;), though I would hardly call her an intellectual or eloquent speaker. She’s always had difficulty expressing her true feelings. Even Buffy could sense how ridiculous it was all sounding. Outweighing that is the need to voice what she has kept bottled up for so long - to admit she’s still a work in progress and that’s OK.
She also needs to share this with someone who was there and who gets it. Spike could have fit the bill, but did she want to burden him with what could have been perceived as another rejection? Spike probably would have handled it admirably, demonstrating a maturity we have never before seen from him. Obviously hurt and jealous by the kiss, he chooses not to drown his pain in liquor or plot revenge. Instead, he returns to the Summers home, putting aside personal pain, placing the mission and greater good first. Even better, Spike doesn’t even realize just how selfless he is being.
And how is Spike rewarded for all that he has become? He is deemed a champion by Buffy. Chosen as perhaps the worlds last hope. Having so long lived in Angel’s shadow, with a simple, but powerful gesture, Buffy made him Angel’s equal. Ultimately, he will outdue his grandsire.
At the beginning of the season we were told “it’s all about power”. The FE was right, it is - shared power. Buffy long ago gave Spike the ability to harness his power by choosing to believe in him - to trust him to do the right thing when the time came. And in the final days she chose to share power again, her own, not only with the SIT’s but potentials the world over. It’s this connectedness that formed the power to thwart the FE’s plans.
I’ve seen alot of criticism of Joss and his supposed sloppiness when it came to dispatching the First in the finale. Hey, I noticed it simply vanished before the fight was over too, but could there maybe be a reason for that? It did a disappearing act in ‘Amends’ as well. The thing is, evil cannot be eradicated. Not even a Slayer or thousands of Slayers have the power to do that. Buffy herself tells Spike that they can win this thing, she says nothing about destroying it. The goal was to stop the end of the world from occurring and by stopping the army of Ubies and sealing up the Hellmouth they did just that. At least for now.
“I love you Spike” Those words should be simple and straightforward but are far from it. My mind keeps bouncing back on the does she or doesn’t she question. I ultimately have to say yes and not just because it does my shipper heart good. She had to say the words, it freed her as much as Spike’s actions did. How long has it been since she’s felt safe enough to utter those words? When they joined hands, the fire didn’t freeze her but warmed her. As the smile crept across her face, she was as effulgent as Spike, she could feel what Spike has been trying to convince her of for years. He, in turn, witnessed her realization. She does love him. Is it the same love she felt for Angel or the all consuming love Spike feels for her? Probably not, but it is love.
Spike’s “No, you don’t” is more problematic. Does he truly believe that? Is it easier for him to face death believing that? The thing of it is, it really doesn’t matter. Spike’s reason for being is no longer tied to Buffy. Spike’s love has evolved from selfishness to selflessness. Being believed in and entrusted is enough. Where once he believed Buffy’s love to be his salvation, he now sees that it merely set him on the right path. Ultimately it is his own humanity and love for humankind that guides him to do the right thing and leads to his redemption.
The final image of Buffy, most likely, will be the object of endless debate. For me, it was a smile born of many things. As the rest prattle on behind her, she looks out at what represents both great loss and immeasurable gain. She’s free of the Hellmouth and Slayer servitude. No longer THE ONE, she has a future full of never before thought of possibilities and choices. She now can figure out precisely who and what she wants to be. Spike, in determining his destiny, releases Buffy from hers.
And one other thing struck me about being chosen, or, in this case, not. Andrew’s questioning “Why didn’t I die?” Andrew not only expected to die, I think he counted on it. For him, his death would have meant redemption and a get out of jail free card for his past crimes. But as we’ve seen with Angel, Faith, and Spike, it’s not that simple. Death doesn’t lead to one’s salvation, it’s what you do and how you live prior to that that counts. Why didn’t Andrew die? Because he has a lot left to do before he can rest.