Sunday, 11 December 2011
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Prophecy Girl
“I may be dead, but I’m still pretty.”
Let’s talk about first seasons, shall we? Because I’m well aware that this season doesn’t have too good a reputation among fans, and I don’t think this is fair. First seasons are different, and they’re not quite doing the same job as subsequent seasons. The show’s premise has to be established, we have to get to know the characters, and everything which we will later take for granted has to be set up. This season does all of that brilliantly.
It’s very obvious, watching this season finale, that all the stuff about the Master, the prophecy, the Anointed One, etc, is more than a little perfunctory and predictable- as the show will cheerfully admit in about three episodes’ time. But it would be a mistake to see this as a problem. It’s actually a wise move for the season arc to take a back seat while we learn about this show, its rules and its tropes, and get to know and love these brilliant characters.
So yes, the Master is an off-the-shelf villain, but he’s supposed to be. And, wonderfully, he knows he is, as the end of this episode’s teaser makes clear. And yes, the nature of his plan is a bit ho-hum, but it’s supposed to be. Because this series finale is essentially about the characters- pulling them apart from each other and then finishing off with the gang as strong as before.
One by one they all alienate each other. Xander asks Buffy to the “Spring Thing” (another of these traditional events which seem to punctuate life in an American High School!) and she turns him down. He takes it badly. He’s unreasonable, of course, but rejection is a lot more crushing when you’re a teenage boy. I know; I was one. As I keep saying, being a teenager is horrible.
Things now get even worse as Xander unthinkingly asks Willow to go with him instead as an obvious second choice. Oops. And, just to ensure that all the Scoobies are alienated from each other completely, Buffy overhears Giles and Angel discussing the prophecy of her imminent death. She, er, doesn’t take the news at all well.
We get a nice scene with Joyce here which makes it clear what the metaphor is; stress about who to go to the prom with is, like, the end of the world if you’re a teenager. Er, how subtle. But it was right that Joyce should appear (all the other semi-regulars are present and correct; Jenny Callendar gets her second appearance and is seemingly integrated properly into the team), and this is probably the best way to do it.
It’s Willow’s upset at seeing the world of the vampires invade her own sanctuary, killing two boys she knows in a place she knows well, that leads Buffy to snap out of her state of denial and decide to go ahead and do the hero thing. Giles, bless him, insists in going in her place, but there was only one person who was going to win that argument.
It’s fascinating that Xander and Angel, rivals for Buffy’s affections, should be thrust together and should find Buffy’s body once she’s been killed by the Master. Interesting, too that Angel as a vampire is unable to perform CPR and that Xander has to do it. I can’t help thinking that there are… other things… that a vampire may not be able to do and that they might not quite be able to cut it as sexual partners. There are things like, er, blood circulation to consider…
Anyway, Buffy is revived. Which is a bit of a problem, really. If she can be revived by CPR then she was never actually dead and it’s a bit of a cop-out to treat this as the fulfilment of the prophecy. She didn’t die, simple as.
We get a nice, epic finale, though, with loads of vampires and the school library under siege from a Muppet Hellmouth. The Master is dead and everyone is off to the Bronze. Including Jenny (who clearly has something going with Giles) and Cordelia, who is now definitely a full semi-member of the gang.