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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 5, Episode 22
522 TheGift1
Air date May 22, 2001
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Episode Guide
previous
"The Weight of the World"
next
"Bargaining, Part One"
Angel
"There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb"
Cast
Starring
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Clare Kramer Glory
Charlie Weber Ben
Amber Benson Tara
Joel Grey Doc
Co Starring
Todd Duffey Murk
Craig Zimmerman Minion #1
Josh Jacobson Teen
Tom Kiesche Vampire
Uncredited
Sharon Ferguson Primitive

"The Gift" is the season finale of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the one hundredth episode altogether. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon. It originally broadcast on May 15, 2001. It was the last episode to air on The WB Network and therefore, the network called it the series finale. The series moved to rival UPN.

Buffy faces Glory as the ritual commences. In order to save Dawn and the world, Buffy must sacrifice her own life.

Synopsis

The episode begins with Buffy slaying a vampire to save a teenage boy in an alley. When the boy doesn't understand how Buffy could save him as she's just a girl, Buffy wistfully responds that's what she keeps telling everyone. The Scooby Gang, knowing that Glory has the advantage over them, decide to go over the information they recently gained.

The Key (Dawn) is living energy that, when poured into a specific spot at a specific time, will break down the walls between dimensions. Glory intends to use Dawn's blood to open the door and return to her home not caring that hell will be unleashed on Earth as a result. However if the energy is stopped, then the dimensional walls will go back up, and Giles puts forward the notion that killing Dawn may be the only solution, which Buffy refuses to consider. Giles states that if Glory succeeds in her plan, every living being on Earth will be subjected to torture, agony and death. Buffy is unswayed, telling the gang that Dawn is more than just a sister but a part of her; physically, emotionally and spiritually and will not allow her to die no matter the cost, and tells her friends how sorry she is that she is putting her sister ahead of them,

Anya breaks the grim mood by enthusiastically tries to perk everyone up in order to get some suggestions or a battle plan together to stop Glory before the ritual. Xander reluctantly suggests killing Ben as, although he is an innocent, his death will destroy Glory however Giles points out that it's unlikely Ben will resurface this close to the ritual. No-one can work out how to kill Glory, but then Willow points out they don't need to... Glory only has one opportunity to perform the ritual, if she fails then she won't get another chance and Dawn will be safe from her. It's simply a case of keeping her busy until her window of opportunity has passed. Anya continues to press for ideas, and points out two items the Scoobies have possession of that could help; the Dagon Sphere, which is supposed to repel Glory, and Olaf's hammer (which Buffy, with her enhanced strength, can easily wield). Although the workings of a good plan are starting to form Buffy points out the gang still have no way to find Glory, when Tara suddenly starts to try and leave babbling that she has places to be. Everyone realizes that Tara is being instinctly drawn to where the ritual is taking place, so it'll be a matter of following her when the time comes.

Back at Glory's lair, Ben (who is now willingly going along with Glory's plan) gives Dawn some clothes that she needs to change into. He attempts to reassure her, but Dawn doesn't want to hear it and screams a demand that he changes into Glory. The goddess herself appears, and wants to know why Dawn chose her over Ben. Dawn tells her that while both are monsters, at least Glory is upfront about it. Glory boasts that she could have killed Buffy at any time, but didn't because of Ben's residual humanity. Dawn suggests that maybe Glory knew she couldn't take the Slayer. Glory doesn't take kindly to this, and tells Dawn that her big sister won't be turning up, and even if she does she might not be there to save her, but to kill her.

At the Magic Box, Buffy trains for the upcoming battle as everyone else works on ideas. Knowing they can't set off for Glory's location too soon (as, if they get defeated quickly, they'll be no way to stop the ritual), it's just a case of waiting for the right time. Giles apologizes for suggesting that Dawn be killed but explains that he promised to protect the world, and sometimes has to say... or do what others feel they can't. Buffy understands, but warns him she'll stop him if he tries to hurt Dawn. The two reflect on the amount of times they've saved the world. While the apocalypse has been averted on several occasions, it feels like they've done it a hundred times. Buffy remembers how, despite her love for him, she sacrificed Angel to save the world and although it broke her heart to do so she knew it was right. However now she feels she is being asked to sacrifice too much, and doesn't understand how she is meant to live in a world that demands so much from her before telling Giles, with tears in her eyes "I just wish my mom was here". She then tells him how the First Slayer told her that 'death is your gift' and believes that all a slayer can ever be is a killer. Giles tells Buffy that he thinks she's wrong about that. Buffy tells Giles that, regardless of what the First Slayer meant, if Dawn dies then she's finished as the Slayer..

Xander and Anya finish having sex in the Magic Box's basement while supposedly looking for the Dagon Sphere, then get back to work looking for it, when Xander suddenly finds the Buffybot that Spike had built. Anya then screams at the sight of a pink, stuffed bunny and tells Xander it is an omen and it is telling them it's the end of the world, Anya also notes how normally when there's an apocalypse she would head for the hills, but her love for Xander is preventing her and as she talks about her conflicted feelings Xander suddenly proposes to her. Anya is initially angry, thinking that he's only proposing to look brave because the world is going to end and he won't have to go through with it. Xander assures her that he doesn't think the world is going to end, and wants to spend the rest of his time on it with her. Anya tells him she'll accept only "after the world doesn't end."

Upstairs, Buffy asks Willow if she can use magic against Glory, given that the only time any of them have hurt Glory was when Willow attacked her. Willow points out that the spells she used only worked for a couple of minutes and Glory has likely prepared for that, but then tells Buffy she thinks she Can reverse the brain-suck that Glory inflicted on Tara. Not only would this restore Tara's sanity, but could also weaken Glory. Xander and Anya return with the Dagon Sphere, as well as a couple of other ideas for slowing Glory down.

It's time for Dawn to take her place for the ritual, and Glory instructs two of her minions to take her. Dawn struggles against them, and then sees what Glory's army of crazy people have been building... a huge tower on top of which Dawn will be placed to be bled.

Buffy heads back to her house to collect weapons with Spike in tow. She invites him back into her house, and they both let one another know they respect each other. Buffy asks Spike to protect Dawn, to which he promises and tells Buffy he knows she'll never love him, but appreciates her for treating him like a man.

522 TheGift2

Willow restores Tara.

Sundown approaches, and the gang know that it's the right time to leave and let Tara out. She leads them directly to the tower, however Glory is there when she arrives and demands to know what she is doing there. Glory is then ambushed by Willow who reverses the brain-suck and returns Tara's sanity before throwing the three back. Glory is left dazed and decides that she needs a brain to psychically feed on and sees Buffy. Knowing this is probably a distraction, she orders her minions to guard the path up the tower.

Glory is having trouble maintaining her composure, and believes it is due to what Willow did until Buffy reveals the Dagon Sphere and throws it to her. Glory instinctively catches it, causing her severe pain for a few seconds however she still manages to easily crush it... however Buffy uses this time to run up and attack her, initially gaining the upper hand. Giles, Spike and Anya attack the minions at the base of the tower, with the hope of breaking through to rescue Dawn. Meanwhile Willow approaches a waking Tara, who recognizes her girlfriend showing she has been restored to normal. Willow is overjoyed at having her back, as Tara dissolves into tears after her ordeal.

Glory has regained her senses and decides she's had enough of fighting Buffy punches so hard her head flies off... revealing she was actually fighting the Buffybot. The real Buffy then sneaks up behind Glory and strikes her with the troll hammer, the sheer force of the strike sending the hellgod flying. Dawn calls out to Buffy who forces her way past Glory's minions and attempts to climb the tower but Glory recovers and gives chase, quickly catching up. The two have a running fight on the path up the tower as Buffy desperately tries to climb higher, but is hindered by Glory. Buffy is eventually thrown off, but manages to take Glory down with her and the two fall to the ground, the hammer landing several feet away. Before Glory can take any action against Buffy, she is knocked off her feet by a wrecking ball operated by Xander. Buffy then grabs the hammer and begins to beat Glory with it. When Glory points out she can't be killed, Buffy doesn't care... right now she's more than happy to deliver the pain.

At the top of the tower, Dawn is nervously watching the battle raging below. She is surprised to see Doc at the top of the tower, Glory having arranged for him to bleed Dawn if she wasn't able to make it up there herself. Dawn, unaware that he is a worshiper of Glory, cries to him for help. He instead pulls out a knife and advances on her.

Giles, Anya, and Spike are not making any progress through the minions and fall back, but believe that they're winning since Glory can't get anywhere near Dawn either. Spike then notices that there is someone at the top of the tower along with Dawn, and the base of the tower is still heavily guarded by Glory's minions and the crazies. Willow communicates telepathically with Spike, telling him to run to the top of the tower and rescue Dawn before she and Tara use magic to knock all the guards away to clear a path. Spike takes his shot and sprints to the top of the tower. When he gets there, Dawn calls to him. Doc turns around to see Spike advancing on him.

The two begin to fight. However, Doc proves to be far stronger and faster than suspected, allowing him to get the better of Spike and gets behind him before plunging a knife into his back. Spike briefly recovers, but Doc is still too much for him. Doc questions why Spike, a vampire without a soul, is going through so much to protect a girl, and Spike replies by telling him he made a promise. Intending to make Spike break it, Doc gets behind him again and locks him into a hold. Spike and Dawn share a horrified look, as Spike realizes that he's failed to protect her. Doc throws him from the tower, and Spike smashes into the ground below. Doc then proceeds to start initiating the ritual himself.

Dragon

A dragon flies from the portal.

After a sustained beating by Buffy, Glory asks the Slayer to stop. Buffy simply responds that if Glory is truly a god, she'll make her stop. She then starts to beat Glory's face with the hammer, causing her to revert back to the form of the mortal Ben. Buffy initially seems to consider killing him in order to prevent Glory from resurfacing, but instead gives him a message to deliver to Glory; she's missed her chance, and now they're to leave Sunnydale and never return, with the warning that if he or Glory go near any of them again, she'll end both of them. She then leaves to try and rescue Dawn. Giles approaches a panting Ben who admits that he thought Buffy was going to kill him. Giles tells Ben that Buffy couldn't do that, even though she knows that one day Glory will re-emerge and make Buffy, as well as the world, suffer for her act of mercy. Despite that, Giles tells him that Buffy couldn't kill him because she's a hero... "not like us". Ben realizes what Giles has said but before he can do anything or say anything in reply, Giles puts his hand over Ben's mouth, suffocating him in order to kill Glory.

522 TheGift

Buffy after she jumped

Doc begins to cut Dawn, and her blood drips off her foot and opens the portal in mid-air from which all manner of demons and horrors emerge. Buffy runs to the top of the tower and Doc looks forward to taking on the Slayer. However, Buffy isn't interested and quickly pushes him off the top of it as she heads for Dawn. She unties her sister, but Dawn knows that it's already too late. Knowing the portal won't close until her blood stops flowing, Dawn plans to jump into the portal, believing that doing so would close it and save the world, even if she dies in the process. Buffy stops her; she then suddenly has a flashback of several points in the season--telling Dawn they both shared "Summers blood", her earlier proclamation that "the monks made [Dawn] out of me," and most significantly, when she met the spirit guide, who told her that death was her gift. Buffy realizes that she and Dawn share the same blood, and that if she (Buffy) throws herself into the portal, it will close. She also realizes what the First Slayer's message really means: instead of being what she has to offer people, death is actually a gift for Buffy.

After exchanging a few words with Dawn (which are unheard by the audience), Buffy runs to the edge of the tower and throws herself into the portal, and endures the supernatural energy for several seconds before she dies, closing it. At the bottom of the tower, Buffy's battered body lies where it is found by her friends as the sun is rising. As this happens, Buffy's final words to Dawn are heard:

Buffy Grave

Buffy's grave

"Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me."
―Buffy
The heartbroken gang slowly approach their fallen friend and the last scene of the episode is Buffy's grave bearing the epitaph:

BUFFY ANNE SUMMERS


1981-2001


BELOVED SISTER

DEVOTED FRIEND


SHE SAVED THE WORLD

A LOT

Continuity

  • Buffy's speech to Dawn atop the tower are the last words spoken by Buffy on WB, and also the last thing that she says to her sister, Dawn, before giving her life to close the portal.
  • This episode marks the first time that Rupert Giles kills an unarmed opponent onscreen - though, being nicknamed "Ripper", it may not be the first time he did.
  • Giles would have later confessed to killing Ben in Season Seven, "Lies My Parents Told Me", but the scene was cut right before it aired.
  • Right before leading the gang to Glory, Tara turns to Giles and says "You're a killer" hinting at his murder of Ben later on in the episode.
  • Giles kills Ben in cold blood despite his earlier agreement with Buffy about the seriousness of even accidentally killing an human.
  • Olaf is never mentioned as being a Troll God until this episode. In "Triangle" he is simply referred to as a man who was magically changed into a troll. Anya mentioned that his power was contained in his hammer, however, which makes the hammer a more valid weapon. Additionally, while Xander didn't even have visible bruises despite being struck by the hammer repeatedly, Buffy uses it in this episode to literally beat Glory to a bloody pulp.
    • The hammer also seems to prove that the Slayer is seemingly stronger than most vampires: Buffy easily lifts and wields it with one hand, whereas Spike was unable to lift it with both hands in "Blood Ties". However, when Buffy fights Spike in other episodes she does not appear to be stronger. It may be that her ability to lift the hammer is instead a special Slayer power like her ability to pull the Scythe out of the stone (Caleb, who was generally stronger than Buffy, was not able to pull out the Scythe).
    • However, when the hammer is knocked off the tower during Buffy's fight with Glory and lands hard on the concrete below, it does not do any damage to the ground beneath it (which an object that heavy surely would do). This shows once again that its weight and deadliness depend on who is wielding it and who is beaten by it.
  • The outfit that Buffy wore when she jumped off the tower is the same one that she wore in "I Will Remember You" when Angel walked out to her in daylight and kissed her.
  • Buffy's statement to Dawn, "The hardest thing in this world... Is to live in it", is repeated by Dawn in "Once More, with Feeling" after Buffy reveals that she had been in heaven and that she feels miserable for being alive again.
  • Willow demonstrates the ability to communicate by telepathy with Spike, which she will later use to give orders to the group while hunting vampires in the Season Six premiere. This ability will also be utilized later on in the Season Seven episode "Showtime".
    • Willow's successful communication with Spike via telepathy indicates that vampires can receive projected thoughts even though, as Angel stated in "Earshot", their own thoughts cannot be read as their minds are like their reflections in a mirror. Willow, however, is an extremely powerful witch, and is evidently capable of outdoing this limitation.
  • Buffy acknowledges that Willow is now the most powerful of the Scoobies, and that she is the only one who had demonstrated an ability to hurt Glory until this point. This will culminate with Dark Willow being so powerful that "no Slayer could stop her" from ending the world, leaving Xander to stop her by talking to her instead, and with Willow later having the power to permanently activate all the Potential Slayers.
  • Spike is invited back into Buffy's home after being barred in "Crush". His invite is not taken away even after his attack on Buffy in season six.
  • Dawn being the Key becomes a non-issue after this episode; from here on characters will mention that she "was" the Key, (past tense). Dawn herself says later that she's "not the Key. Or if I am, I don't open anything anymore".
  • Giles states that in order to close the portal, 'the blood must stop flowing.' However, since Buffy dies and not Dawn, Dawn's blood does not stop flowing, even supposing her blood is identical to Buffy's, since she remains alive.
  • Interestingly, the two characters (besides obviously Dawn) who seem to mourn Buffy's death the most, openly crying, are Willow and Spike. In next season Buffy violently and viciously fights with them both.
  • Buffy's death in this episode does not cause the activation of a new Slayer. This can be attributed to the fact that her death in the season one episode "Prophecy Girl" caused the activation of Slayer Kendra Young, who then died and was replaced by Faith Lehane. It can be assumed that because Buffy has already died and been replaced by a new Slayer, she is technically no longer the "active" Slayer, and that the Slayer line now runs through Faith.
  • When Buffy asks Giles how many apolcalyses they've been through, he replies "At least six, but it feels like a hundred." Depending on what you consider an apocolyse, this is correct. That it 'feels like a hundred' is a fun nod to the fact that this was the hundreth episode.

Body Count

  • One vampire, dusted by Buffy
  • One minion of Glory, killed by Spike with a crossbow
  • One minion of Glory, killed by Giles with a sword
  • Ben, suffocated by Giles
  • Glory, died with Ben
  • Doc, pushed off the tower by Buffy
  • Buffy Summers, killed by mystical energy sacrificing herself to save the world

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • The Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer... segment immediately preceding this episode is unique compared to other episodes (both before and after). Instead of simply showing the key moments from previous episodes, this segments begins by showing clips from "Welcome to the Hellmouth" in which all the main characters that first appeared in that episode (including Angel and Cordelia) introduced themselves, then clips from each episode following that one up this episode are shown. As they continue, the clips begin to go by faster until they're only a fraction of a second long. Almost all the main and recurring characters from this and previous seasons are represented, and many of the show's major events are also included.
  • As mentioned by Joss in the commentary for both this episode and "Chosen", this episode was originally written to serve as the series finale, and several ideas that were used in the real finale were originally written for this episode.
  • Originally Sunnydale was supposed to be destroyed by the Hellmouth in this episode, but it was decided to save the idea for the series finale, "Chosen".
  • The outfit that Buffy wears in this episode is almost the same outfit that she wears for most of "I Will Remember You". Additionally, Cordelia also wore a similar outfit in "First Impressions".
  • It was rumored that this episode was going to be a two-hour television event called "Centenary" and to feature almost every single character from previous seasons including the entire Angel cast.
  • Earlier in the season, it was rumored that the entire town of Sunnydale would be sucked into the Hellmouth in the finale. Although it has never been completely confirmed, Joss had another plan for the season. The original idea was to have Anya die in the rubble, Xander be Glory's other half (instead of Ben), Willow was going to become evil after Tara's death and join forces with Glory, and Dawn was to be bled by Evil Willow in the end, and Sunnydale was supposed to be completely destroyed by the Hellmouth.
    • Many of the above ideas were used later in the series. Anya was killed in "Chosen" and had fallen behind rubble, Willow did become evil after Tara's death in "Seeing Red", and Sunnydale is destroyed in "Chosen".
  • This episode also marks the final episode that Anthony Stewart Head is featured in the opening titles as "and Anthony Stewart Head as Giles", and is now replaced with Alyson Hannigan taking over as "and Alyson Hannigan as Willow" for the remainder of the series. Anthony Stewart Head is henceforth classed as a Special Guest Star.

Broadcast

  • This is the last original episode to air on the Warner Bros. Network. Because of this, the WB promoted this episode as the "series finale" and not the "season finale" since the show will air on UPN for season six.
  • The "Previously on..." portion of this episode, which included clips from every previous season of the show, is not on the Season Five DVD set for all region 1 DVDs however, it appears on all region 2 DVDs. It is, however, available as an Easter Egg on the Season Seven DVD set for region 1.
  • It was virtually impossible to avoid spoilers for this episode, with one national UK newspaper running a "Buffy Dies!" article. Sky One even ran trailers showing Buffy's grave!

Deleted Scenes

  • In the original script the end would be a lot different:
A rift opens and a huge dragon flies out screaming as it sails past the girls.
Dawn: "Buffy-"
Buffy: "I don't care! Dawn, I won't lose you-"
Dawn: "You have to! You have to let me go! Blood starts it, and until the blood stops flowing, it'll never stop. You know you have to let me."
Buffy takes in Dawn's words and knows it's true.
Dawn takes a few steps away from her sister.
Buffy does nothing to stop her.
Dawn begins running toward the end of the platform and swandives into the ball of energy. She starts down.
Buffy watches and cries.
Dawn's body disappears in a white light and the energy goes even wilder.
The Scooby Gang looks up in vain to see what happened.
Dawn floats into the center of the maelstrom and is being hit with equivalent of a million jolts of electricity.
Buffy is unable to leave the platform...
Dawn slowly closes her eyes, and the energy ball explodes and is out of existence. Dawn disappears with it, and the last thing we see is Buffy's face...

Pop Culture References

  • As Giles and Spike leave to take on Glory, Spike says, in response to Buffy's "Everyone knows their jobs" speech: "Well, not exactly the St. Crispin's Day Speech, was it". This is a reference to Shakespeare's Henry V, in which the "St. Crispin's Day Speech" appears. Giles follows this with the most famous quote from the speech, "We few, we happy few", and Spike finishes the line, with his own interpretation, "We band of buggered". The real quotation is "We band of brothers".
  • When the group first sees the tower, Xander says "Shpdoinkle". This is a slang term first used in the student film directed by, and starring, the creator of South Park, Trey Parker, Cannibal! The Musical.
  • Dawn, standing atop the tower with her arms bound to poles, is strongly reminiscent of Rogue in the climactic scene in the film version of X-Men.

International titles

  • French: L'apocalypse (The apocalypse)
  • Brazilian Portuguese: O Dom (The Gift)
  • German: Der Preis der Freiheit (The Price of Freedom)

Music

  • Christophe Beck - "The Tower"
  • Christophe Beck - "Losing Battle"
  • Christophe Beck - "Apocalypse"
  • Christophe Beck - "Sacrifice"
  • Christophe Beck - "Sacrifice" (Alternate version)

Other

  • This episode was criticized by the Parents Television Council for showing a character committing suicide, ignoring the context in which Buffy's self-sacrifice occurred.
  • Joss Whedon joked at the Noctural convention in 2001 that Anya was originally supposed to die in this episode, however, he had to keep her alive because Emma Caulfield kept moving as Xander was carrying Anya.

Quotes

Buffy - "You're my big gun!"
Willow - "Gun? I can't be a gun! Maybe a cudgel! Or a pointy stick!"
Tara - "You're a killer"
- Giles - "Oh, uh, well... six, at least. Feels like a hundred."
Glory - "The Slayer's a robot? Did everybody else know the Slayer was a robot?"
Buffy - "Glory. You're not the brightest god in the heavens, are you?"
Buffy - "Everyone knows their jobs. Remember, the ritual starts; we all die. And I'll kill anyone who comes near Dawn."
Buffy - "Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles ... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world ... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me."
Ben - "She could've killed me."
Giles - "No she couldn't. Never. And sooner or later Glory will re-emerge, and... make Buffy pay for that mercy. And the world with her. Buffy even knows that ... and still she couldn't take a human life. She's a hero, you see. She's not like us."
Xander - (after hitting Glory with a wrecking ball) "The glorified bricklayer picks up a spare!"
Glory - "Your just a mortal, you can't understand my pain!"
Buffy - "I guess I'll just have to settle for causing it!" (hits Glory with the hammer)
Glory - "You can't kill me."
Buffy - "Maybe not, but my arm's not even tired!" (hits Glory again)
Glory - (as Buffy brutally beats her) "Stop!"
Buffy - "You're a god, make it stop!"

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