"CHOSEN." DVD Commentary.
Series | Season | Disc
BtVS | 7 | 6
Commentary By: Joss Whedon
The “Chosen” commentary begins “Hi, I’m Joss Whedon, and this is the very final commentary of the very final episode of the very final season of Buffy and if you’ve actually been through all the episodes and all the commentaries and you have a feeling of exhaustion, confusion and sort of a low riding rage you can’t really describe or understand, then you’ll know how I felt when we shot this.” This, in a nut shell, describes the episode to come. Being the finale, the most important responsibility in “Chosen” was to bring “closure but not a closing” for the series, as well as end that year’s story arc.
Like all Buffy episodes, Whedon worked under severe time constraints while filming “Chosen.” This is evident from the very first scene, which picks up where its predecessor “End of Days” left off. Featuring Angel, Buffy, and Caleb, this scene was especially difficult due to the fact Whedon only had David Boreanaz (Angel) for seven hours, and in that seven hours Whedon needed to film ten pages of dialogue. This lack of time affected the way Whedon approached the scene. The discussion between Buffy and Angel became the patented “over, over, two shot” that Whedon tried to avoid if possible. Time constraints also led to Whedon shooting and lighting Angel and Buffy together in the same shot. Fortunately, the second unit completed most of the fight scenes and other stunts. This included the huge battle down in the Hellmouth.
As Whedon has stated many times, Buffy was an emotionally driven show, with the characters’ various relationships with one another at its heart. The most important of these relationships involves Buffy and Angel and Buffy and Spike. According to Whedon, the opening act was difficult to write for that reason. In it, Whedon was trying to accomplish two things: give the fans of the Buffy/Angel relationship hope that they would one day get back together, and make it clear that Buffy was committed to Spike in the same act. The trick was to accomplish this without making Buffy seem like the “Slut Queen of Slutdonia.” Whedon partially resolved this dilemma with what is now known as the “cookie dough speech,” in which Buffy tells Angel that she’s not ready to commit to a relationship until she’s “done baking” (7:22). Executive Producer Marti Noxon presented the idea for the speech very early in the season and Whedon adapted it for the finale.
In talking about the various relationships that Buffy had over the course of the series, Whedon jokingly referred to Parker as Buffy’s most important relationship. However he was aware that some fans cared about the “Angel thing and some care about the Spike thing.” Whedon admits that the idea of having Buffy with Spike right after Angel left is confusing for the viewer as well as Buffy, and intentionally so. On the other hand, Whedon was trying show the level of trust to which Buffy and Spike had achieved. The second half of Act 1 featuring Buffy and Spike also shows Whedon’s one on set contribution to “Chosen:” Whedon drew the drawing of Angel on the punching bag in Buffy’s basement that day.
Whedon praises his actors’ performances in the episode through a good portion of the commentary. In the scene mentioned above, Whedon praises the “great” James Marsters’s (Spike) ability to go from “Dracula to Jack Benny in a heartbeat.” Special praise went to Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy) and the “girl who played the First.” (Gellar played both Buffy and the First in this scene.) Whedon complained that the actresses were difficult, each complaining about their trailers and wardrobe. Buffy’s speech to the potentials was actually twice as long as what appeared in the final cut. Whedon proudly points out that Gellar got the entire speech right the first time, causing the extras to burst out in spontaneous applause.
Whedon refers to several lines of dialogue that were inspired by the actors themselves. The scene between Faith and Principal Wood has one such line. “Dude, I got mad skills” was something Eliza Dushku (Faith) said to Whedon on the set one day. She was referring to her days at Dairy Queen scooping ice cream, but in Whedon’s hands, it became dirty. Later, Andrew exclaims, “I have swimmer’s ear” when fighting a Bringer. Again, this was something that Tom Lenk (Andrew) said that made Whedon laugh.
Whedon goes to great lengths to expound on his search for the “iconic moments.” Angel backing away into the dark was one such moment. He intended Angel’s departure to harken back to the end of Season Three. Another such moment almost did not happen, but one that Whedon himself calls one of the most important in the episode, the moment between Buffy and Spike the night before heading down to the Hellmouth. Whedon intended that scene to be one where the audience filled in the blanks, so that the mystery of their relationship would remain. However, Whedon was not trying to be mysterious when it came to the scene where all the potentials become slayers. Whedon decided to use that symbol of empowerment very early in the season, which is why he decided to show girls all over the world becoming slayers. The final “iconic moment” occurred between the four core characters: Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles. It was important to Whedon to make a statement about the characters he started with, when Giles echoes his line from “The Harvest” (1:2), “The Earth is definitely doomed.”
There are two aspects of the Jossverse that Whedon addresses specifically: the convenience of the magic and his penchant for killing beloved characters. One criticism Whedon talks about deals with the scythe that Willow uses to empower all of the potential slayers. Whedon agrees with the notion that the magic is a little too convenient, however, the magic is secondary to the story of empowerment he is trying to tell. Another point of contention stems from the ease with which the newly empowered slayers kill the ubervamps down in the Hellmouth. Again, according to Whedon, the story is more important than consistency. Whedon also does not shy away from the idea of killing characters for the sake of the story. Two key Scoobies and one prominent potential die in “Chosen.” The purpose of the Dungeonmaster scene was to give Amanda some airtime so Whedon could kill her later. Whedon knew he could not kill any of the original four characters or Dawn and still have a meaningful ending. However, being an apocalyptic battle, there must be a toll for it to be convincing. In that vein, Whedon killed Anya and Spike during the final battle. This is particularly true for Anya’s death, a brutal moment when a Bringer cuts her diagonally from behind.
Whedon also discusses several regrets about the episode. Since his episodes tend to run long, Whedon cut Buffy’s walk down the corridor short. Whedon intended Buffy to reminisce about the seven years she has spent in Sunnydale. He also says that he wanted more “funny Willow stuff” for “Chosen.”
“Chosen” includes a few of Whedon’s hallmarks as both a writer and director. Continuity is important to the Jossverse, hence Andrew’s “Oscar speech” which mentions his brother Tucker. Additionally, Whedon included Anya’s bunny phobia as a pay off for the audience. Another Whedon hallmark is the underscoring of a serious moment with humor. The final scene between Buffy and Spike epitomizes this. Whedon shot many of the scenes in “Chosen” as a oner, a directing style Whedon has used repeatedly. Examples of oners from “Chosen” include the Dungeonmaster scene and the final scene with what is left of the Scooby gang. As Whedon slowly pushes in on a hopeful Buffy, he concludes his commentary by saying, “That’s all I have to say. Thanks for watching my show.”
--Michelle R. Herr