Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 7, Episode 5

Selfless (22 Oct. 2002)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Action, Drama, Fantasy
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Reviews: 6 user | 2 critic

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 ... See full summary »



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Title: Selfless (22 Oct 2002)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joyce Guy ...
Professor Hawkins
Jennifer Shon ...
Villager #1
MaryBeth Scherr ...
Villager #2
Alessandro Mastrobuono ...
Villager #3
Daniel Spanton ...
Viking #1


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. Meanwhile, flashbacks depict how Anya became a vengeance demon, and Willow returns to college. Written by Alex

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Release Date:

22 October 2002 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sarah Michelle Gellar got married while she was shooting this episode. See more »


When Buffy argues with Xander about killing Anya, she reminds him that she once killed Angel. While she is using the term more for semantic effect, the phrase "killed" is still misleading. As the Slayer, she knows that, as a vampire, Angel is technically already dead, and that vampires are "killed" either by a stake to the heart, being set on fire, or beheading. Actually, using a sword, she just sent him in Hell. See more »


Buffy: I just don't want you to get your hopes up.
Xander: Hopes? Oh, no, no, no, no. There are no hopes. Anya and I are done. I love being single. I'm a strong, successful male who's giddy at the thought of all the women I will no doubt be dating in the near future.
Buffy: Strong, successful males say "giddy"?
See more »


I'll be Mrs.
Written by Joss Whedon
Performed by Emma Caulfield
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All about Anya
7 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Selfless" is sort of like an Anya version of "Fool for Love," Spike's episode back in season five. In "Fool for Love," Spike is transformed from a Black Hat to a sympathetic anti-hero through flash backs and pivotal character turning points. Anya is one of my favorite characters on BTVS and I'm glad that she finally gets an episode. The only problem with "Selfless" is, Anya doesn't NEED to be reformed. She's helped save the world three separate times and fought evil on a weekly basis for years. I don't blame Anya for her return to vengeance demon work. Xander's right, it's is a reaction to her broken heart. She's not a bad "person" and she deserves some understanding from the Scoobies. If Anya's killing again, then Buffy should confront her... But she shouldn't try to stab Anya in the chest!! Has Buffy completely lost her mind? I watch this episode and I'm SO on Anya's side. The flashbacks just serve to make Anya seem even more sympathetic and misunderstood. If Buffy didn't make me so angry, I'd probably give "Selfless" more stars because it's a pretty good episode. And if you like Anya, you won't want to miss it.

Basically "Selfless" revolves around Anya. After a UC Sunnydale student is humiliated by her boyfriend, she calls on Anya for vengeance. Anya whips up a spider demon that rips out the hearts of the entire fraternity. Anya is horrified by what she's done and hurries out of the frat house. Willow is signing up for classes again and runs into Anya. Seeing blood on Anya, she goes to investigate the frat house and is attacked by the spider demon. She calls Buffy and explains what happened. Buffy kills the spider. Then she declares that she must kill Anya.

Xander panics. He still loves Anya and he refuses to let Buffy hurt her. He goes to find Anya, tracking her back to the frat house. Meanwhile, Willow calls on D'Hoffryn and asks him to undo the wish. Buffy also finds Anya and says that it's her job to kill her. She and Anya fight. Then D'Hoffryn shows up. He tells Anya that in order to undo the wish and bring the frat boys back to life, a vengeance demon must die. Anya agrees to give her life for their's. But instead of killing Anya, D'Hoffryn kills Halfreck to teach Anya a lesson. Anya is heartbroken, but human again.

There are some really great parts to this episode. I love Anya's flash backs. From the grainy footage of Olaf being turned into a troll, to Anya and Halfreck toasting the Russina Revolution to a new "Once More With Feeling" song, it's all really great. Olaf is especially hilarious, lumbering around after Anya curses him. The towns people run screaming "Hide your babies and your bead-work!" I laugh every time I see it. And Anya's shift from giving away bunnies, to espousing the "common sense" of "The Communist Manifesto," to her current love of capitalism is really cool. And I just love Anya trying to cover her frat house massacre with Willow. "My new boyfriend goes here. Yes, we just got through having lots and lots of sex." Anya always uses sex as a deflection and it usually works.

I think that this episode is trying to draw comparisons between Anya and Buffy, showing their contrastingly narrow views of life. We have Anya saying that she is "vengeance." Being a vengeance demon is her identity and all that she cares about. And we have Buffy saying that she's the "law." Being the Slayer is Buffy's identity and it consumes her. Both of them are seeing that world in black and white. To Anya, all men are evil and less than women. They deserve punishment. To Buffy, all demons are evil and less than humans. They don't deserve mercy. At the end of "Selfless," both women have to confront the shades of gray that surround them.

On the down side, I think Buffy was WAY out of line in this episode. Killing Anya was a total over reaction. This is Sunnydale! We fix stuff like this twenty-two times a season and we (hardly ever) have to stab our friends in the chest to do it. It's like Buffy didn't even want to hear any other options before she decided to kill Anya. Also, how could Willow have passed all her finals "like magic" last year? She swore off spells in "Wrecked," which is in the middle of the season six, and stayed clean until "Seeing Red," at the end of the season. Unless, Dark Willow stopped by UC Sunnydale to take some exams during her apocalyptic rampage through town, I don't think that chronology is right. And why did Halfreck have to die? I love Halfreck and it's not fair that she was killed for something that she had nothing to do with. Finally, if Anya wanted to return everything to normal, save those boys, and become human again, why didn't she just break her necklace? That's how Giles fixed everything back in season three's "The Wish."

My favorite part of the episode: Willow finally finding out that Xander lied to Buffy about the spell to re-ensoul Angel back in season two's "Becoming Part Two." It's about time that poor Willow heard that she was being blamed for telling Buffy to, "Kick his ass!" Honestly, I think that "Selfless" probably has more references to the show's history than any other BTVS episode. Right off the top of my head, I can think of stuff from, "Hell's Bells," "Once More With Feeling," "Older and Far Away," "Triangle," "The Wish," "Something Blue," and even some hints of what will happen in episodes come like, "Dirty Girls" and "Chosen." It's really cool.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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