Buffy the Vampire Slayer created by Joss Whedon

Drop me a line | Season Seven Archives Sunday Nov 3, 2002
  Buffy Reviews, Vol #7 Issue #5

7.5: Selfless

So finally, Anya get's her 'origin' episode, much like Spike did with 'Fool for love'. In fact this is the first Anya-centric episode since, ohhh, ever.

To be honest, it's not quite as good as Spikes, but the flashbacks were funny and slightly enlightening. Not as dramatic as Spikes but still good. This is the first time that ME have addressed the fact that Anya is in fact a demon and all that goes with it. More often than not her wishes are humorous or fixed easily enough. But we saw the actually carnage than she can cause. In many ways, she's a worse monster than Spike as she doesn't feel any real guilt for what she's done. Sure, she's sorry and a bit sad, but she hasn't gone insane with guilt a la Spike & Angel.

We also saw a subplot from 5 years ago as Willow finally finds out that Xander lied to Buffy about Angel just so she would kill him. It's a true credit to Whedon that he trusts long term fans to know what his characters are talking about. Newbies should wait for repeats though as this isn't the best time to be getting into the show. Willow also had a flash of her Season 6 self and shows that when she's pressured and dealing with magic, she can fall off the wagon.

I don't truly buy Buffys sudden decision to kill off Anya without looking for alternative options. Seems to me though that she didn't really intend to go through with it as every one knows that you can't kill a VD with a sword. Maybe it was more to warn Anya that she was serious. I also find it odd that Angel is being mentioned so often. Considering the two shows are supposed to be separate now, they keep referencing each other.

Not much time for Spike or Dawn really, but they've had a lot of the action recently. The 2 buffys who were talking to Spike were interesting, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was all in his mind. It's only Xander really who hasn't had the spotlight recently. I've also got to say the warning of something devouring from beneath is starting to get a bit annoying. We get it, it's a big bad coming. Show us or stop telling us.

This was a good episode, but seemed to lack that certain something that 'fool for love' had. But still very enjoyable.

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David McNulty
'Vengeance is what I am.' - Anya
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Fanzone - Genuine comments from various message boards

Fan 1: 'No one else brought up the things that bothered me about this episode (well, accept that they still didn’t really explain Anya’s bunny phobia), so here goes. Does anyone else get the creeping feeling that Anya’s motivations are subject more to Emma Caulfield’s agenda than Anya’s development? In much the same way that Gile’s exit felt forced and unnatural, dictated by Anthony Stewart Head’s desire to spend more time with his family, Anya and Xander’s parting at the end of the episode just didn’t feel natural at all. He had, after all, just tackled the slayer to try to save his ex’s life -- a most un-Xander-like action. While I realize Josh Whedon’s mission in life is to keep these characters as miserable as possible, life is not totally joyless. (Nor, for that matter, does every moment of happiness have to be a prelude to agony -- Buffy and Angel’s initial co-mingling, Willow and Tara’s final co-mingling. As an aside to which, I might point out that Anya’s life is safe as long as she remains conflicted -- has anyone ever noticed that only the really evil or the really good die on the show?) The other impression I got was that Anya wanted to die, even before Deus ex D’Hoffryn showed up. When Anya pulled the sword out of her chest, I fully expected her to fling it back at Buffy screaming, "You dumb bimbo! You can’t kill a vengeance demon with simple impalement! You’ve got to decapitate me!" (Or "disembowel me” or however one actually does kill a vengeance demon.) And then throw her through a couple of walls to make sure she was paying attention. One other small point: Anya’s directness was always attributed to her trouble transitioning to human (though it was created to replace Cordelia’s self-involved cluelessness); I was disappointed to find out her original human self was just as direct. Frankly, I think it would have been more poignant (though less funny) to have her original human version a woman of the period who never got to speak her mind, who kept getting batted around by her boyfriend (continuity check -- Anya said she and the troll used to date, not that they were husband and wife), and that she became a vengeance demon in part so that she could finally say what she wanted. Oh . . . and I have no idea where Spike’s brainpan-induced hallucinations end and his original evil-induced hallucinations begin. I don’t think we’re supposed to. '

Fan 2: 'TRUE-Scooby's new she was a vengence demon. Talked about many times season 3. The Prom, Graduation Day part 1-2. TRUE-There was an alternate reality where Willow and Xander were vamps. TRUE- VAmp willow came when the pendant spell backfired. But your conclusion that Anya told them anything is wrong. All the demon stories Anya told never mention Cordy's wish or the alternate relhm where Willow/Xander were vamps. It never happened in the Scooby's memory. Vamp Willow told Xander that there was A vamp Xander at end of Dopplegangland. Xander said it was cool to vamp Willow, not Anya. Anya LIED to Willow about the pendant. She could't tell her the truth about it because Willow wouldn't help. At the end of Dopplgangland Anya really wanted to be a demon again but never mentioned how she became human again. It was never brought up in any episode how she lost her demon powers. You can't conclude that she told Anyone anything. The only person she would have told is Xander. And if Xander knew anything about how Anya stopped being a demon he would have done it to save her. And if Buffy knew about the pendant she wouldn't have stabbed her-she obviously didn't remember Hallie getting stabbed and that not working. I'm not even sure why the alternate reality still existed if the Wish was cancelled but I'll accept it. But unless we see or it's referenced I won't accept that Anya told anyone how she stopped being a demon. But Anya did go for Hallies pendant and may have mentioned that was her power souce but I can't remember. If someone has the tape from the eppy where Hallie gets stabbed please look. It was never in Anya's interest to tell the Scooby's the truth about how she lost her powers. '

Fan 3: 'I'll concede that the ep title may have multiple meanings, but the main one lies in Anya's identity crisis. She never fit in with her village. She wasn't normal enough (in the sense that normal women tend to procreate) to please Olaf. She found a pleasing identity as a vengeance demon, but was it a healthy identity? Was it who she truly was or simply what she had become? After being humanized in S3 she was desperately searching for a new identity. She didn't enjoy being human at all until she latched onto Xander. Xander, despite himself, fell for Anya and she became complacent with being Xander's g/f. And if you'll notice her role on the show has rarely gone beyond that. That's who she had become: Xander's s/o. After the wedding debacle she was desperate for a new identity again. She fell back to the only other one she was comfortable with: vengeance demon. Except after living as a human with Xander for the past few years she'd grown a conscious and the vengeance game just wasn't in her anymore. The frat incident was something she did to force herself into her new identity. Except it didn't work. She's never had a good sense of self. She's always looked to others for her identity. Olaf. D'Hoffryn. The women she granted wishes to. Xander. The Scoobies. She doesn't know who she is or that it's okay to simply be just who she is. She's got a little bit of a Willow-complex here, looking for affirmation from others. The reason she was so destroyed after "Hell's Bells" last year wasn't simply because Xander stopped the wedding. He tore her very identity from her and she was floundering. For the first time since S3 she didn't know who she was or what to do. When the offer to go back to something she knew came up, she took it because it was easy and comfortable and was an instant identity-restorer. She learned in "Selfless" that she isn't that person anymore. And I gather that she'll spend a good deal of this season figuring out who she is and what role she has to play. I hope that makes things clearer. :) L8r'

Fan 4: 'I've been a huge Buffy fan since season two and have faithfully followed the show. I was wary when Angel went on the air and have grown to love that show as well. Watching "Selfless" I was compelled to write about what makes these shows so great...and also some of the things that have gone wrong (and right). Buffy has always been a show that took risks. It's very format was riksy: a season-long build up to one final confrontation with a "Big Bad". Many "stand-alone" episodes but that still manage to service the overall plot. Rich characterizations and interactions. Season two was great. Buffy sleeping with Angel and enacting the curse... Him torturing Giles and killing Jenny Calendar. When Buffy made reference to how she had to kill Angel in "Selfless" I was blown away by the emotion. Season 3 was a marvel. The Mayor, the Ascension, Faith, Faith, Faith. And episodes that blew your mind. "The Wish" in particular. The introduction of the Anya character (always my personal favourite). Season 4, which some people have maligned, I also found outstanding. The way they were referencing the entire Initiative plot from the very first ep...the "Hush" episode, even the interaction between Buffy and Riley (granted, not the best character ever, but still...) I loved season four. Season 5 was also kick-ass. Sure, the Dawn thing was a bit convoluted, as was Riley's decision to depart but the interplay of Ben/Glory with the whole madness of the townsfolk when they had their brains sucked. That season really had momentum. I'll get to Season 6 in a minute, but I want to talk about Angel first. Angel's first season was pretty awful. No dominant theme. The weird way they spent so much time setting up the Doyle character just to kill him off (sure Joss said he always planned to do that, but come on!) But then season two and the reintroduction of Darla, a masterstroke. And bringing in Drusilla. I was totally on board. Sure, it went a bit wonky when they went to Pylea but in the end they brought back Fred and she's turned into one of my favourite characters. Season 3 was the shit. The end of every episode made me gasp. Darla staking herself. Holtz taking baby Connor into void. Wow. And now Wesley's turning to the dark side...Wolfram and Hart is getting more and more interesting as Lilah is climbing the ranks (how amazing is it that they've been able to sustain Wolfram and Hart as an adversary over four seasons and never make it boring). To be honest, over the last season I enjoyed Angel much more than Buffy. And that brings me to Buffy Season 6. Oh God, what went wrong?!? Of course, "Once More..." was amazing and I enjoyed an ep here and there...but could the show have taken a worse turn. I know some people will disagree but I think the problem lies in the Spike character. Don't they get it. Spike was a bad guy, he worked as a bad guy. He was even interesting when they brought him back at the beginning of Season 4 with the chip in his head. The moment that character started going wrong was the moment he started developping a crush on Buffy. Oh come the fuck on! Why don't they just give it up. I know a lot of you like this drivel but it destoyed the show last season. I just don't buy it. And the way Buffy justifies how she feels for Spike...it seems to change every week. She loves him? She was using him? She was exploring her dark side? Which is it? And what does Spike see in Buffy? Did they explain that. Some people are saying that Season 7 is shaping up to be great. I don't agree. "Selfless" was amazing...but I'm biased, I'm in love with Anya, think she's the best character in the Buffyverse and have always felt she needed more to do. But overall, the dragging on of Spike's insanity in the basement. James Marsters simply is not convincing trying to portray insanity. And Buffy's reaction to him, non sensical. "From beneath you it devours..." Ominous, for sure, but let's go guys, show us something. By this point in Season 4 we at least new something of the Initiative. In Season 5 Buffy was already figuring out Dawn wasn't her sister. Buffy has gone down in quality. Season 5 was the last great season. I'm never going to give up on it, I've invested too much into it. But Angel is the way to go. This season has been amazing so far what with Fred freaking out and tazering Connor, with Gwen the lightning woman, with the Vegas ep...all genius (yup, the Cordelia stuck in heaven thing is a bit tedious and I'm not sure if I buy Angel's undying love for Cordelia...um, excuse me, don't you love Buffy?). I just wanted to put my very long two cents in. '

Fan 5: 'What a great fucking episode, although its sad that the rest of ME can't get close to Joss's level, yet this freakin' newby comes in and drops this mother outta the gate. God, I hope we get more of him and less of Marti. The highlight, of course, was the Buffy-Xander-Willow argument in which the Season 2 secret finally came out. It better come back. The Buffy-Anya fight, the return of Dark Willow? Great. The ending, with Anya realizing she's never really lived, always been a appendage to someone or something else? Tremendous, tremendous television. This is exactly what Season 6 _should_ have been--all the apologists for that season always whine, "But they were growing up, dealing with life's problems," blah, blah, blah. This episode proves that they _weren't_. As somebody noted earlier in the TB, here they dealed with things, here Season 2 came back on the table, here Anya grew up. Last season we got sidetrips to Rack and the Doublemeat--only now do we get honest, human, painful emotion, really working through physical and emotional issues. Marti blew it on the execution of Season 6, and the new guy has saved the fucking day. And I gotta give it to D'Hoffryn for the A&F line and all the other funny besides--he perfectly filled the Clem and Skip role as the funny, slightly detached demon. Brilliant. The worst parts, ironically, were the flashbacks--Aod and Olaf was mildly amusing, but it didn't really get us anywhere, didn't really explain her _fear_ of bunnies, and then suddenly she was speaking perfect English at the end. Plus, Anyaka's breakdown of the Russian Revolution places in sharp contrast just how dumb and naive she was in Seasons 4 and 5. What happened there? She's a wise and intellectual creature for several hundred years, then becomes human again and loses her mind? I know they made her naive-girl for the funny, but it makes zero sense looking back on it. Finally, although the song was nice, it was not filmed at the same time as the rest of OMWF, kids. Anya's hair was a lustry brown in OMWF, not the cheesy platinum blonde of last night. Plus, it wasn't the same apartment as OMWF--it was instead Anya's new apartment, I think. Perhaps they dismantled the set of Anya and Xander's old pad? It was clearly filmed later, probably specifically for this episode, with the mustard thing stuck in to tie it in somehow. As a postscript, the frat boys did _not_ get what they deserved. I do hope that was sarcasm on your part. I'm not condoning what they did and they certainly deserved to be punished, but the death penalty is far too severe. No one deserves to die just for being a jerk. Peace. '


Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Anne Summers) Website: SMGfan.comJames Marsters (Spike aka William the Bloody) Website: James Marsters.comNicholas Brendon (Alexander 'Xander' LaVelle Harris) Website: Nick Brendon.comAlyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg) Website: HDC - Alyson Hannigan CentralEmma Caulfield (Anya Emerson aka Anyanka) Website: Anya.Org.UKMichelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers aka The Key) Website: Michelle-Trachtenberg.com

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