Selfless-Anya grants a young woman's wish, and the violent and deadly act of vengeance leaves everyone stunned. Buffy must put aside her feelings for her friend and take action before more people die.
Anya, at this point, has become one of the most beloved characters of the series. Since her debut in Season 3's "The Wish", we've seen Anya evolve from a one off demon of the week to a comic foil for Xander to anintegral part of the Scooby Gang to here, an woman who finally realizes that she needs to form her own identity and do what's right. Emma Caulfield is truly a gifted actress who we've seen deliver some of the series' funniest moments as well as some of it's most heart-breaking ("The Body"). In an episode that explores Anya's 1000+ year history as well as her internal struggle to find her true self, she gives possibly her best performance yet! You feel for Anya deeply, even after her latestvengeancespell caused the death over a dozen innocent people, Anya is guilt andsadnessover what she did reminds the audience that even being a demon again, she's still Anya. She got a taste of humanity and a part of that she remains inside of her. You just can't help but route for Anya to pull through and find the way out of her situation, especially when the others find out what she did.
One of my favorite scenes from the episode isBuffy, Xander and Willow. From the actors' performances to their point of views on the situation, the scene was exceptional. I also loved the reference back to "Becoming, Part II" and how Buffy was willing to sacrifice her own personal ties with Angel to save the world.Buffy's point was very understandable, Anya crossed the line and she has to do what a slayer is needed to do. Xander of course still loves Anya and wants to help her like he did with Willow, even though Willow is human and Anya is a demon, so there's really no point.Then you have the "Kick his a$$" moment being brought back up after all these years and Willow's reaction was priceless! It just shows how much the writers of Buffy really pay attention to their continuity, considering most shows in their genre (like Smallville, especially Charmed) almost forget or retconn previously established events. In fact, this episode was so full of continuity and references to the past events discussed, it made the episode even more enjoyable and fascinating. From Willow using the summoning talisman D'Hoffryn gave her in "Something Blue" to Olaf and how Anya turned him into a Troll, this was all brilliantly revisited and interwoven into the story. The flashbacks from the old fashion cinema style of Anya's 9th century humble beginnings to her early 20th century chaos ridden chat with Halfrek to her never before seen musical number from "Once More, With Feeling" were all masterfully done as well. We even find out how her infamous bunny phobia began!
One moment I also love and find so brilliantly edited was Buffy and Spike in the basement. What seems to be a very touching scene between Spike and Buffy, turns out to be the First as Buffy once again as the real Buffy confronts Spike soon after. It's a scene that literally gets me everytime and I forget it's not really Buffy at the start of that scene. Anyway, the final confrontation between Anya and Buffy is tense, with good fight choreography and quick flash editing that was really effective when you see Anya impaled by Buffy's sword. I also loved D'Hoffryn in this episode and how he pretty much owns everyone during the last few moments of the episode. Only seen in small doses in priorepisodes, he makes for amenacing,formidablevillain here and the fact he kills Halfrek to make Anya feel even more guilty and ashamed of herself is just plain cruel. With Anya once again human now, the episode ends with a touching scene between Xander and Anya. The beginning of their healing and rebuilding their relationship, Anya and Xander come to terms with Anya's identity, coming to terms with who she is now. It's a pivotal moment for Anya that will continue to evolve her character until her heroic demise in the series finale. All and All, "Selfless" is a superb look into all things Anya. Showing a deeply thought out and well developed character, who after 10 centuries of vengeance and humanity, is still growing and changing. Amazing!