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Discussion of 5.22 "The Gift" - Aired 5/22/01 (WB-US)

Oromous

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Sineya
I’ve always hated the idea of this episode being the series finale. It’s a better episode than Chosen I think but I hate the idea that Buffy dies at 20 and would end up like any other slayer that she was trying to research in Fool for Love ‘big battles, great protector blah blah oops she’s dead. The journals just stop’ when the show has always been about how different Buffy is to any other slayer before her
I think it's different than other Slayers. Other Slayers were killed; she chose to sacrifice her life as a gift to humanity. That's the point; that's always been the point of the series: with great power comes the necessity to choose responsibility over self-interest.

"Not a good choice, but you have a choice!"
 

Priceless

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I think it's different than other Slayers. Other Slayers were killed; she chose to sacrifice her life as a gift to humanity. That's the point; that's always been the point of the series: with great power comes the necessity to choose responsibility over self-interest.

"Not a good choice, but you have a choice!"
But we don't know that, as we don't see many other slayers sacrifice themselves. Many slayers could have died in the same way, and I suspect many of them believed their sacrifice was to save the world and every Slayer had a choice.
 
Oromous
Oromous
Perhaps, but that wasn't reflected in the show upon season 5, which is what Faded90 was referring to - the idea that Buffy seems like an average Slayer who just dies. Her role as a Slayer still feels special to me at the point of her death.

Ethan Reigns

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Sineya
The one jarring thing about "The Gift" is how quick Buffy was to conclude without any corroboration that because Dawn was made from Buffy's blood, she could sacrifice herself in place of Dawn and it would do the same as sacrificing Dawn, effectively stopping the intermixing of different realities. If Dawn was made from Buffy's blood i.e. genetically similar to Buffy, they would look like twins. I understand that sisters do not always look alike - I went out with a girl once who was one of four sisters, two were short redheads like her and the other two were tall blondes. It gives some credence to Spike's idea that every slayer has a death wish, which I think is too facile an idea - it just doesn't seem real that someone would sacrifice her life just for the unsupported conjecture that it might save her sister and the world. This kind of took me out of the drama - it just didn't seem real.
 

Faded90

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I’m amazed that nobody after hearing about Olaf said ‘wow so Anya you not only turned your big oaf of a boyfriend into a troll but actually into a troll GOD! Willow sit down, Anya is now magic gal’
 
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TriBel

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The one jarring thing about "The Gift" is how quick Buffy was to conclude without any corroboration that because Dawn was made from Buffy's blood, she could sacrifice herself in place of Dawn and it would do the same as sacrificing Dawn, effectively stopping the intermixing of different realities. If Dawn was made from Buffy's blood i.e. genetically similar to Buffy, they would look like twins. I understand that sisters do not always look alike - I went out with a girl once who was one of four sisters, two were short redheads like her and the other two were tall blondes. It gives some credence to Spike's idea that every slayer has a death wish, which I think is too facile an idea - it just doesn't seem real that someone would sacrifice her life just for the unsupported conjecture that it might save her sister and the world. This kind of took me out of the drama - it just didn't seem real.
Just a thought. You're looking at it from the point of view of biology. What happens if you look at it from the perspective of physics? Genuine question - you're much better equipped to do this than me. Dawn in her original state is a ball of energy; what if the relationship between Dawn and Buffy is energy...not matter?

Energy's implied here:

Xander: Why blood? Why Dawn's blood? I mean, why couldn't it be, like, a lymph ritual?
Spike: 'Cause it's always gotta be blood.
Xander: We're not actually discussing dinner right now -
Spike: Blood is life, lackbrain. Why do you think we eat it? It's what keeps you going, makes you warm, makes you hard, makes you other than dead. 'Course it's her blood.

I quite like the fact that Buffy appears to leap into an electrical field and that the Bot who replaces her is plugged into a battery.

"As we know through thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed. It simply changes states. The total amount of energy in an isolated system does not, cannot, change. And thanks to Einstein, we also know that matter and energy are two rungs on the same ladder.

The universe as a whole is closed. However, human bodies (and other ecosystems) are not closed — they’re open systems. We exchange energy with our surroundings. We can gain energy (again, through chemical processes), and we can lose it (by expelling waste or emitting heat).

In death, the collection of atoms of which you are composed (a universe within the universe) are repurposed. Those atoms and that energy, which originated during the Big Bang, will always be around. Therefore, your “light,” that is, the essence of your energy — not to be confused with your actual consciousness — will continue to echo throughout space until the end of time".

 

whatdBuffyDo

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Trigger Warning
Upon my first viewing, I thought Buffy's death was her gift to the world, she wouldn't consider going if she didn't have to; and that the viewers should be sad to see her go. (At this point, I disregarded the foreshadowing intended by "the death wish" speech of Spike.) Then I slightly changed my mind. Interpreting Buffy's death as the happy ending for her might be comforting for some people. She didn't choose her duty as a slayer herself, but in Prophecy Girl, she finally accepted it and made her inevitable duty into her own meaning of life. In The Gift, she was going by knowing it was not only the way to fulfill her duty but also the way to fulfill her own meaning she chose to give to her life. It wasn't her gift to the world but it was the gift for her.
If it is considered as a suicide, it wasn't a suicide executed with the intent of running away from hardships due to feelings hopelessness, powerlessness, or weakness; but one that can be read as empowering, peaceful, even happy. To affirm life is important, it is most probably the only chance we ever get to experience a conscious and sentient existence; however going the way Buffy did might be what some people want, wait or hope to achieve in order to peacefully leave.
 

DeadlyDuo

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Trigger Warning
Upon my first viewing, I thought Buffy's death was her gift to the world, she wouldn't consider going if she didn't have to; and that the viewers should be sad to see her go. (At this point, I disregarded the foreshadowing intended by "the death wish" speech of Spike.) Then I slightly changed my mind. Interpreting Buffy's death as the happy ending for her might be comforting for some people. She didn't choose her duty as a slayer herself, but in Prophecy Girl, she finally accepted it and made her inevitable duty into her own meaning of life. In The Gift, she was going by knowing it was not only the way to fulfill her duty but also the way to fulfill her own meaning she chose to give to her life. It wasn't her gift to the world but it was the gift for her.
If it is considered as a suicide, it wasn't a suicide executed with the intent of running away from hardships due to feelings hopelessness, powerlessness, or weakness; but one that can be read as empowering, peaceful, even happy. To affirm life is important, it is most probably the only chance we ever get to experience a conscious and sentient existence; however going the way Buffy did might be what some people want, wait or hope to achieve in order to peacefully leave.

I think there is a difference between sacrifice and suicide, otherwise Buffy murdered Angel because she stabbed him through the chest with a sword rather than having to sacrifice him to save the world. It's all about the mindset. Suicide is the result of desperation and hopelessness, seeing no other way out of the situation. Sacrifice is about giving up your own life for a noble cause eg saving people.
 

whatdBuffyDo

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I think there is a difference between sacrifice and suicide, otherwise Buffy murdered Angel because she stabbed him through the chest with a sword rather than having to sacrifice him to save the world. It's all about the mindset. Suicide is the result of desperation and hopelessness, seeing no other way out of the situation. Sacrifice is about giving up your own life for a noble cause eg saving people.

I don't think suicide is always an act of desperation and hopelessness, that is why I said what I said.
Edit: My statement is not clear without adding this: I think the line between sacrifice and suicide may not always be clear. I don't say that what Buffy commit was suicide, but it can be read as such. Killing oneself for others might in fact be considered as a service for one too. It is one's own choice, and they choose to go by doing the thing they believe is right, eventually serving their own mindset. For Buffy's case, there won't be a slayer after she dies until Faith dies. And Faith is in prison. So it actually might not be the best option to erase herself, the working slayer, from the scene. She could have chosen to sacrifice Dawn in order to keep the only working slayer people can have at that moment alive and live with the guilt of killing her own sister while continuing to protect other people. It might be just as valid a choice as sacrificing herself. She didn't do that. She chose the other way around.
 
Reason: Edit: My statement is not clear without adding this
Last edited:

whatdBuffyDo

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I think there is a difference between sacrifice and suicide, otherwise Buffy murdered Angel because she stabbed him through the chest with a sword rather than having to sacrifice him to save the world. It's all about the mindset. Suicide is the result of desperation and hopelessness, seeing no other way out of the situation. Sacrifice is about giving up your own life for a noble cause eg saving people.

Another addition to my answer:
What Buffy did to Angel again may or may not be considered murder. Murder is a word describing a crime. It can also be open to discussion and one's freeing or conviction depends on what the judge or the jury would decide in a hearing she would be brought to according to the slayer law (or whatever that is called in Buffyverse, I doubt there is a well-established one in Buffyverse though.) There are a lot of real-life or fictional incidents focused on debatable killings of other people, and some laws and legal decisions are brought into literature as a result of these discussions. I think killing oneself and its surrounding circumstances are debatable issues as well though suicide isn't necessarily a word describing a crime. Its discussion should be on another level. It is defined as the act of killing yourself intentionally. It may be due to many reasons. Self-sacrifice is defined as a decision to give up something you want or need so that others can have what they want or need. Maybe Buffy did them both? She gave them what she thought they needed by taking the other thing she didn't know she would want until the right moment came?

I think judgments related to ethics and justice can become very tricky, in those tricky cases, I usually can't make statements about their "true natures" -if there is such a thing- for sure other than brainstorming. Because of this, I can't picture myself having a job in criminal law etc.😄
 
Reason: Spoiler tag

GothicBuffy

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Buffy was struggling with depression and thoughts of giving up for a lot of season 5, ex, the ep where she goes catatonic.
Her death was both a sacrifice, and a suicide. Buffy was okay with dying. That's another reason why ending the show on season 5 would be a bad idea, with glorifying the main character's suicide.
The show ending on Season 5 is also not thematically consistent with the message of the show, which is that of defying fate, changing destiny, etc. Having Buffy die and accept death defies that. This is also a show about Buffy growing up and her succeeding and sometimes failing at it, so having her die in this inescapable, suicide coded way, just when she's become an adult is going against the whole point.
 

Faded90

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I think Seasons 5-7 do an awful job of portraying adulthood. Life doesn't go to hell the moment you turn 20.
I think S6 absolutely takes the ‘adulthood is tough’ to a ridiculously maudlin level. A season that writers admitted planning at one point was ‘what was your worst day? Ok we’ll make this happen to the characters’
 

thrasherpix

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I actually have a hard time not seeing it as manslaughter by the monks. Buffy's motivation is a magical delusion. Her going catatonic is from false memories and programmed directives placed within her to protect the Key at all cost, and in my mind, it's a magic related to (if a lot more complex) than when Amy and Xander cast a spell that misfired to make all the girls willing to die (and kill, possibly themselves going by the season 7 ep with the jacket) over Xander. It just muddies the issue too much for me to be able to think on the end with any certainty.
 
whatdBuffyDo
whatdBuffyDo
I didn't consider this before. Intriguing approach. 🤔
BelieveInFaith
BelieveInFaith
Love this train of thought!

Faded90

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I actually have a hard time not seeing it as manslaughter by the monks. Buffy's motivation is a magical delusion. Her going catatonic is from false memories and programmed directives placed within her to protect the Key at all cost, and in my mind, it's a magic related to (if a lot more complex) than when Amy and Xander cast a spell that misfired to make all the girls willing to die (and kill, possibly themselves going by the season 7 ep with the jacket) over Xander. It just muddies the issue too much for me to be able to think on the end with any certainty.
Completely agree! Particularly when you really look into the monks motives, apparently they wanted to ‘harness its power for light’ ok so does that mean they’ll eventually kill her or do something to her for their own purposes? I completely agree with the general that ‘they were fools’

The Gift is an astonishingly good episode but if it ended there it ended because Buffy got majorly screwed over and you have to kind of wonder if the others may have even ended up feeling a bit of resentment towards Dawn, it’s not her fault obviously but emotions and feelings aren’t always logical
 

GothicBuffy

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Hmm yeah I can definitely see this. Buffy has proven before that she'd kill those she loves to save the world, so why is Dawn different, especially considering she's not human and her memory will be erased from existence? The spell compelling them is a good explanation.

Giles also has proven that he would kill/threaten to protect Buffy- I can see him doing something like killing Dawn, justifying it by the fact that Buffy and the fate of the world is more important. Not saying that this is the right thing to do, but definitely something Giles would do.

I think on the metaphorical level it was meant to represent suicide, but I agree with this take as the monks being 100 percent responsible for Buffy's death.
 
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She could have chosen to sacrifice Dawn in order to keep the only working slayer people can have at that moment alive and live with the guilt of killing her own sister while continuing to protect other people.

I always thought that too!
I always thought she actually took the easy way out. Even when she tell Dawn: "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it... so live for me."
It re-iterates that she herself is not choosing "the hardest path". She is leaving her friends with a lot of grief. She is leaving Dawn with the guilt that her life caused her sister's death and she is leaving the world unprotected. The much harder sacrifice than giving her own life would have been to kill Dawn!

And also... what's with the monks? Making the key human makes it one of the easiest things to find!
Couldn't they have made it a grain of sand or a leaf on a tree or even a bicycle pump, like Glory suggests. Also sending it to the Slayer gives Glory a very clear starting point to look for this key!

After all this I do have to say that I love this episode and I love what it leads to in S6!
 

Miss Muffet

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I just re-watched this episode, and it's just... amazing.

It's probably the highlight of Buffy (the character). She basically defeats a god. And it's really cool to see the difference in how SMG plays the Buffybot vs Buffy.
Giles. He kills someone, but it feels in character, and it's... almost devastating to watch, if you know what I mean.
The reunion scene between Willow and Tara is just great. I love it, even though I don't really care for them as a couple. And I also love the callback; that when they push the people out of the way with magic, they hold hands.
Xander proposing to Anya. Perfection. It makes Hell's Bells even sadder in retrospect.
This is probably my favorite Dawn episode. The way she's so willing to sacrifice herself for the world... She doesn't back down. (And she's only 14!)
Finally, Spike. He's a really confusing vampire. It's so weird for me to watch, but seeing him breakdown after seeing Buffy's body... I'll try to keep that in mind as I re-watch Season 6 (though I know I'm not about to become a Spuffy shipper).
And the final shot of Buffy's grave is just heartbreaking. The perfect hero ending (though I'm still happy she came back to life-- I love this show and don't want my favorite character to be dead).
 
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