Credits. Aw. Now I'm blinking a lot. I do find it a little strange even now, though, that the credits this season end on a shot of First Buffy, rather than real Buffy.
Buffy swings The Little Red Axe That Could at Caleb. He blocks with Bast. Buffy does a backwards somersault. More axe swinging, more cat-blocking. Caleb gets frustrated, throws the statue at Buffy, and misses. Hee! They face off and exchange non-quippage. Caleb still has pudding dribbling out of his eyes and mouth as he works up to giving Buffy a real good chidin' about what a weakling she is. Buffy makes a succinct rejoinder -- in the form of an axe to his groinal region. She lodges the axe but good and then jerks it upwards, cutting him in half. Not that impressed with the Little Red Axe. I mean, how hard is it to cut up a straw man? We get a sound effect indicating that the two halves of Caleb have dropped to the ground, but no visual. CGI budget all spent on the Hellmouth blue-screen at the end, or grisly effect nixed by UPN's supposedly non-existent Standards and Practices department? Your choice. I remember a nice splitting effect on the Mayor's head in Season Three and I thought we might see something like that here. I know, I know, I complain about the violence on the show and then whine when I can't see the bodies. So inconsistent. I just think it would've been a mite more satisfying to see Dead Caleb. Although, of course, I'm snorting at the idea that defeating misogyny could ever be that simple.
Angel pops up, all pissed and ready to rumble, demanding, "Where is he?" Buffy does a dramatic eye-roll to the left and a dramatic eye-roll to the right and quips, "He had to split!" I perform an eye-roll of my own, but I must admit that it's a slightly amused one. Buffy giggles at her stupid joke. Oh, look! Spike's still sulking in the shadows. The First taunts him, but this whole plot amounts to nothing, so I'm just cruising on by. Angel retrieves his file folder from a corner and then pulls the Amulet of Assitude (tm Strega) out of his pocket. Buffy jokes, "I can already tell you, I have nothing that goes with that!" I think my six-year-old neighbor has one of those in her My Pretty Princess kit, though. In any case, that thing is a truly, truly, truly outrageous gem. Still holding the amulet up in the air, Angel explains that he doesn't know much about it, but it does "have purifying power, a cleansing power, and possibly…scrubbing bubbles." See, he had Wes do the translation, so he's just not sure what the damn amulet really does. And isn't Angel awfully chipper for a guy who just slashed his only son's throat? Hmm -- I'm making a connection here. Ah, yes -- like me, Angel must've vowed to just try to enjoy this moment and not be all burdened by the bitterness of past events and wasted potential. He's pulling it off better than I am, but forget I said anything about him killing Connor, 'kay? We're all very happy here. In addition to the cleansing powers, the Pretty Princess Pendant also gives the wearer strength, and, very, very conveniently, should only be worn by "someone ensouled, but stronger than human." Wow, it's like whoever made it knew Angel and Spike personally! Angel continues that the wearer should be "a champion." Shudder. Not the "c" word. Please, not the "c" word! I got this far without it and was getting a little cocky that it'd be stuck in Strega's realm forever, and then they hit me with it in the final hour. Anyway, it turns out that we're a tad short on champions on this show -- which explains why Spike ends up wearing it. Sigh. Angel wants to wear the Pretty Princess Pendant and says it's too risky for Buffy. Hey, Angel just referred to Buffy's weapon as an axe, not a scythe. Remind me why I ever thought he was stupid? While they're discussing weapons and jewelry, Spike sulks out of the crypt without either of our two heroes noticing. For a second, Buffy seems happy to think that Angel will be fighting beside her, but then she tells him he has to leave, because the WB only authorized him for an afternoon of shooting, not a whole week. Wait, I guess I misheard. She wants him to leave and establish a second front in Los Angeles in case she can't beat The First.
Angel believes that's one reason why Buffy doesn't want him to stay, and asks what the other reason is. Buffy insists that she doesn't have one and stomps outside, Angel following. He tells her he can smell Spike on her. Oh! So that's the real reason Spike was written into the Tomb of the Useless Guardian scenes? Not to be tempted by The First, but so that Angel could smell him in Buffy's vicinity and we could launch into a "what does this non-relationship mean to you?" discussion with Buffy's other vampire ex? Greeeat. Angel mopes, "Is he your boyfriend?" and his tone makes me laugh out loud. I really get a kick out of Angel's dopiness sometimes. But honestly, how high school is this? Is this part of all those promises to "go back to the beginning" that were bandied about by ME in interviews? Buffy's voice reflects a world of exhaustion I can really relate to when she replies, "Is it really any of your business?" She walks away, and Angel hurries after, demanding, "Areyouinlovewithhim?" Hee. Funny. I find Angel's stupid insecurity and dog-in-the-manger-ness here a million times more entertaining than all the "Saint Spike praises Beatific Buffy" drivel we've had to suffer through in the past few episodes. Joss's Angel seems a lot more like a real guy than Jane's romance-novel dialogue-spouting Spike McHunkychest does. Angel is confuzzled that Buffy is/was/whatever involved with Spike, and Buffy actually says -- wait for it -- "It's different. He has a soul now." KHAN! But you know, I'm just stumped for an appropriate quip here. Last episode ever, Buffy utters the one line we've come to hate and mock the most and -- I've got nothing. I'm sorry; I'm hanging my head in shame for failing you guys. And smiling a little, because hearing that line uttered YET AGAIN really takes the sting out of losing this show. Angel digests the fact that he now has competition in the ensouled arena and bobbles about, hurt. He blinks some more and incredibly insincerely offers up, "Oh. Well. That's…great!" Then under his breath: "Everyone's got a soul now." And I'm so amused that I'm totally not caring that this Angel is pretty inconsistent with the Angel from "Home." Did I mention how happy we all are here. Because we are. Happy. Angel whines, "You know, I started it. The whole 'having a soul.' Before it was all the cool new thing" Snicker. Buffy's disgusted and demands, "Oh my god! Are you twelve?" Just what I was thinking. Angel sulks about getting the "brush-off" in favor of Spike, and they bicker some more. I'm amused, but the amusement abruptly ends when Buffy describes Spike as a bizarre strain of heartworm. See, he's "in [her] heart." I think they have medications for that, Buffy -- ask your vet.
I was going to say that this is where this scene starts dragging, but then I remembered my happy resolve. Love this scene! Buffy says she doesn't see "fat grandchildren in the offing with Spike," and I'm going to resist making any jokes about the six-percent body fat that Spike and Buffy have, combined, most likely not leading to any grandchildren, let alone "fat" ones. The rest of this scene is drowned out by what sounds like the Concorde flying repeatedly right over Buffy and Angel's heads, but Sep tells me it must have been a local audio problem because she didn't have it where she lives. Thank goodness for closed captioning, eh? Buffy has figured out a thing or two about herself recently. She used to think she was deficient because her relationships didn't work out, but she's finally opened her eyes and realized that, in that aspect, she's a perfectly normal twenty-two-year-old. A young person, with no reason to settle down and many, many experiences to still enjoy. Well, actually I'm paraphrasing. There's a whole strange baking analogy wherein Buffy says, "I'm cookie dough. I'm not done baking." Sep and I bickered a little over what kind of cookie Buffy will become. I believe Sep won by declaring, "Buffy is a SNICKERDOODLE!" Can't argue with that. Buffy muses that one day she might be "cookies" and "done" and find a guy to eat her. Uh, "enjoy warm, delicious cookie [Buffy]." On the one hand, I was very, very happy to see the message that not every relationship is the stopping point, especially when you're young. That relationships aren't failures or wastes of time simply because they end. That it's good to explore who you are and have a variety of experiences before settling down. I don't even mind the dough analogy, silly as it is. I'll just quibble that I don't think we're ever "done" becoming our adult selves. I get what Buffy's saying, though, and it's fantastically nice to see her make a genuine realization about herself and get the chance to articulate it to someone. Why were we so deprived of real character moments like this for Buffy all season? I'm laughing, though, thinking this is her Kelly Taylor moment, as she is quite clearly saying, "I chose me!" Snerk. Angel offers up that he, um, likes cookies and wonders if Buffy might be sharing in the future. She can't tell him -- she doesn't think that far ahead. He gives her the Pretty Princess Pendant and walks away. As he goes, Buffy calls after him that if she's ever going to show up at his door with a plate of warm snickerdoodles, it will "be a long time coming, years, if ever." Over his shoul