Okay, here are the details behind the final season of my continuation of "Buffy" and technically concludes to "Angel" as well.
Episode one would have Robin Wood return to Cleveland, and show how things are in Los Angeles (Which are pretty much the same as they were during Angel Season 7): Angel and Spike have split to work independently, Gunn is still in a coma from the events of The Fall, and Illyria is watching over him, until Gunn is kidnapped. Now, for the casting of this season, I decided to promote D.B. Woodside to regular because I felt his character had a lot of potential for future storylines and I could do a lot with him, and also Amy Acker because I had big plans for Illyria in this season (And she hadn't been around that much, so I wanted to give her big moments here). I also re-added James Marsters as a regular because Illyria and Spike will stick together, and he is also a big influence on Illyria. I'm not really sure if in real life a former series regular who had been cut out could be re-added to the credits again, but for the sake of storytelling, I'll make it so. And cutting out Nicholas Brendon and Alyson Hannigan as regulars was difficult because they had been part of the show for so long, but for the sake of the story, they weren't needed for the whole season, plus if they had stayed in, there would have been eight regulars, which is too many in my opinion (When they had eight regulars in Season 5, the credits just seemed overcrowded).
In episode two, most of the "Angel" cast guest stars (Angel, Connor, Lorne, Gunn). Having Gunn kidnapped and brought to the Cleveland Hellmouth was a good excuse for Spike and Illyria to meet up with Buffy. This, here, was a big thing to consider how it would go down: Spike's return and everyone's reactions to it. I had Buffy being basically catatonic, Robin and Xander are pissed, and everyone else is just shocked. Robin isn't the biggest fan of Spike, and therefore would not be overly pleased to find out he's alive. Xander would naturally be upset at Spike and Angel returning since Buffy has decided to give him a chance at a relationship with her, and the return of her two biggest ex-loves certainly wouldn't help with that. Spike returning was also intended to have Buffy torn between the three of them over the course of the season. Willow's misunderstanding of who Illyria is, because she had met Fred before, was a good way to introduce Illyria to the Buffy group, and Spike's accusations of Giles' unwillingness to help Angel save Fred would have been a very powerful moment for both of them (Spike and Giles).
Episode three, the group discusses the reason why the demon brought Gunn to the Hellmouth: To destroy a portion of the Source of Magic. I know, you're all thinking something like "What a lame plot device", but I am actually basing the idea off of the 'cleverly' named Seed of Wonder from Joss Whedon's Season Eight comics. If he could do it, why not me? Except mine actually has a purpose to move the season forward and progress the characters to areas they've never been to. Anyway, Giles has the big exposition scene explaining what the Source is, why it is there, how it is there, and what it can do. The side-effects of its destruction were tricky to think about, because I had to make sure that nothing major conflicted with it, or was forgotten. Since Giles, and now Xander and Willow, won't be in every episode, and I knew they would at the very least return for the final three, I had decided to let the three of them leave after this episode to locate Cleveland's Hellmouth (Because nobody had discovered it yet, not even the Parallels from last year).
Episode four could be considered a filler episode, but I put some important revelational points in it. While waiting for Giles, Xander, and Willow to return, Spike and Buffy tell each other about everything they had done since Spike had died in 'Chosen', including The Fall of Los Angeles. Plus, Buffy finding out about Connor, and Angel's other relationships had to be done somewhere eventually. Dawn also returns. I think she and Connor would be an interesting pairing, so I have them interacting here. The episode also would have featured Faith, Robin, and Andrew trying to get to know Illyria (Who isn't interested).
Episodes five, and six are essentially the climax of the season and the events from these three episodes drastically change the Buffy universe forever. After discovering where the Hellmouth is, Buffy, Spike, Xander, Willow, and Dawn volunteer to go to the Hellmouth and try to rescue Gunn (I chose these five characters for specific reasons, which I will explain eventually). Giles and Faith start to bond more during Buffy's time away at the Hellmouth, and Illyria is still trying to understand Buffy's allies. So, at the Hellmouth, the demon who kidnapped Gunn is killed after telling them that he wanted Gunn to destroy the Source to wipe out the Slayer's powers so they can't destroy the Hellmouth. Since a fraction of the Source had never been destroyed, nobody knows exactly what would happen (Giles and the demon are assuming what will happen). The fact that only non-super powered beings can approach the Source without being weakened was important to point out also. So they find Gunn, who was woken up from his coma and is in turmoil because he is flooded with memories of what he had done during The Fall, and the Source is with him. At the very least, everybody knows that the Source being destroyed would wipe out some part of magic in the world. In this case, since it is split, it would only take out a portion of magic, because if the whole thing were erased, there'd be no more show as far as I'm concerned. To Gunn, destroying the Source would mean erasing all magical effects on the world, including false memories, like The Fall which technically didn't happen (Because Connor and Angel are still alive and Gunn's vampirism was reversed). But Buffy realizes that erasing magic to any degree could mean her powers could be erased, or even Dawn (Who is a magical key and created by the Dagon monks with magic) could be wiped from existence. So, Buffy battles Gunn. This is the main reason why I had the Source weaken super-people and not affect humans, so that Gunn could defeat Buffy which could not have happened if Buffy was at Slayer strength, plus it makes a compelling excuse why Gunn, a human, was chosen to destroy the Source, because he could go near it without being weakened. So Gunn destroys it, and two major side effects occur: Buffy, Willow, and Spike's supernatural powers are erased and they are turned human, and Dawn gets erased, along with memories of her existence, and The Fall of Los Angeles. As Giles surmises later, the fragment of the Source only erased power within a few feet of itself, therefore they got turned human, while Faith and Angel did not (Because with a human Buffy and Spike for the whole season, we needed some supernatural power, which comes in Faith and Illyria). Now, the memories got erased everywhere, so no one remembers Dawn or The Fall. Connor and Angel take Gunn back to LA, and Giles leaves to work in England. Spike and Illyria decide to stay with Buffy. Now, you see why I had those five go to the Hellmouth: I knew that Buffy, Spike, and Willow were to be turned human, and that I wanted Dawn erased. Xander went also because not everybody who went had to be affected and since he was a prominent human character, it seemed necessary for him to go as well. Also, these five (Excluding Giles and Anya) were pretty much the most important long-running characters of the show until this point, so I gave them one last chance to be 'the group' until these major changes happened.
In episode seven, we would see Buffy and Spike's difficulties to adjusting to being human (Buffy's been depowered before, but now it's permanent, and Spike hasn't been human for nearly 100 years). Xander would naturally be the one to help them out, and it makes a good plot device to have an episode that centers around the Xander-Buffy-Spike triangle (Now that Spike and Buffy are human, they toy around with a possible rekindling of their relationship).
Episode eight was filler. They battle an immortal demon. That's pretty much it.
Episode nine pretty much rounds off the Willow/Tara and Willow/Kennedy chapter of the Buffy world. Now, since the potential Slayers were powered by Willow, their powers would be gone just as Willow's were. So we have a human Kennedy coming to find out what had happened. Willow finally gets to see Tara, albeit incorporeally. A Kennedy/Tara faceoff was something that had interested me for a while, so I put it in here. Naturally, Kennedy would get mad and storm out. After Willow clears the air, Kennedy convinces Willow to go with her to prove that they don't need superpowers to be tough (Something that seemed very Kennedy-like to me). Which, again, made a great excuse to result in Kennedy's death (technically her arrogance killed her, just like it should have in Season 7, right?). So now Willow is depowered and crushed by the death of her second lover in a row. Buffy tells her to take some time off to recover, then take over Kennedy's de-powered Slayer squad (The Slayers are going to start breaking off from Buffy now that they are back to being depowered again, so the most that Buffy can do is protect them). This would be the excuse as to why Willow is absent for most of the season. The scene that would have been the end of the episode, with Tara appearing once more and being able to touch Willow for this one occasion to comfort her, probably would have been one the most emotional scenes in my season. I thought that the Powers that Be allowing Tara to be there in reality would have been a strong message of their compassion towards their heroes and to show that are not just a bunch of "guys who sit on their asses while you die" type of people.
Now episode ten was a neat idea: Xander and Andrew go to a Star Trek convention, meet Leonard Nimoy, and find out that he is a sorcerer (FYI, he was not near the Source, therefore he has his powers still). All that talk on the show about how people like Martha Stewart are witches and stuff like that, I thought it'd be funny to show that at least one famous person actually was one. The idea that Nimoy would only give Andrew either his autograph or retain the knowledge of his powers was a funny idea. But, since he thought about it, he got to keep the memory, then after Xander and everyone else's memories were wiped, Xander got the autograph for him anyway. And finally, Xander departs. Buffy can't have him and Spike always at each other and reminds him that she will still be there when he gets back. Xander's statement that he is convinced that she and Spike will get back together if they are with each other for too long while he is away would give Xander's departure a big impression for most of the season. By the way, if they had managed to get Leonard Nimoy to guest star on Buffy, wouldn't that have been awesome?
Episode eleven, I admit, was filler. But the idea of Faith and Illyria having a one-to-one about each other's past evil lives, along with Spike and Andrew discussing the same thing, and admitting how much meeting Buffy had changed them for the better, would have been great material.
Episode twelve was another example of something I'd have wanted the show to do: Robin's old mentor, and his mother's Watcher, Bernard Crowley, comes to see Robin for the first time in years. The idea of him having heard of the Watcher's Council being destroyed was a good excuse for him to be active again. Then having him learn of Robin working with his mother's killer would've be a great moment had they done it in the show. After Spike saves Crowley's life and he accepts Robin working with him and leaves, Robin's statement of how he'll never forgive Spike for killing his mother, but accepts that he has changed, was a big character development move for Robin. Thinking of big British actors who could play Crowley, I had to think of someone who would have been in about his fifties or sixties in 2007 (When the episode would have taken place). Since Cowley had known Robin since he was four, and Robin would be about in his late twenties or early thirties now, and Crowley couldn't have been that young of a Watcher, I decided to use Pierce Brosnan. He was age-appropriate and seemed to fit the character description.
Episode thirteen re-introduces an old Big Bad and an old relationship: The First Evil and Spuffy. Now, I knew that I'd wanted The First involved because after Season 7, it was still running around out there somewhere, and I figured it would want revenge on Buffy and Spike, so I have it trying to convince Illyria to switch sides with a promise of her ruling the world like she used too. Illyria deciding to work with The First to gain power just seemed like what she'd do, especially the fact that she says she's working with it, not for it, seemed just like her. I mean, she's an Old One, one of the most powerful beings back when the world began, of course she'll want power back. She's only a good guy because of Spike and Fred's memories, but she can repress them back if she was consumed with the idea of something greater, right? Given any opportunity, she would take advantage of it, I think. This therefore leads up to Illyria being part of the Big Bad trio for this season. On the other hand, Buffy falls for Spike again and is ashamed for betraying Xander. Spike tells her to do what she wants, but she can't decide. Since Spike doesn't feel that Buffy really loves him and that he partly doesn't deserve her, he's not trying too hard to get her back, but since his competition is Xander, he's more motivated now.
Episode fourteen was big. It was mainly an excuse to bring back a whole bunch of long gone characters, a convincing way to look back at all the previous seasons, and it rounded of the Spike/Drusilla story nicely. I had to think of a key event in each main character's history that wasn't shown in the show and use that as a story for the characters to tell each other (Andrew's inclusion in The Trio, Robin discovering his mother was a Slayer, Faith's relationship with her Watcher and Kakistos, Buffy telling Joyce everything about her previous activities as the Slayer, and Spike meeting Harmony). The faceoff with Harmony and Drusilla was a deliberate callback to "Crush", where Spike is alone with his three 'ladies'. Harmony's death was quick and pointless, just like her character. Spike's revelation to Drusilla was very touching, I thought, then him being forced to stake her to save Buffy made his speech to her much more tragic. Andrew visiting Tucker in jail after Spike's remark that you never seem to know how important people are in your lives until they're gone, showed that he does care about him somewhat and wanted to see him again in case something happened to either of them.
Episode fifteen was another filler episode: Robin and Faith try dating again. Pretty simple.
Episodes sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen strung together made an interesting and important segment of the season. The First's plan is set into motion: Illyria defeats the now-human Buffy, takes her to The First's base, she and the Bringers uses her blood to resurrect The Master, who would begrudgingly become an ally for a purpose to be revealed later. Now, I figured that since Buffy was also near him at the time of his death and since they killed each other, it is perfectly reasonable that the 'bond' between them could bring him back to life as well (Maybe Absalom in Season Two did know this, but didn't think he could subdue Buffy to do it). I brought The Master back because I thought that he deserved more screen time than he'd gotten in the show, plus I thought he, Illyria, and The First would've made an interesting villain trio for the season. Plus, we'd have the first villain of the show, the last villain of the show, and a new villain to round things up. Now considering who The Master is, I had to wonder how he would react to being revived and finding that the original source of evil and an Old One were responsible for it. I figured he'd naturally try to prove his dominance over the other two, until convinced that if he worked with them, he might have a better chance to kill Buffy, since she doesn't yet know that he is alive again. Anyway, the idea of The First being the double-agent inside Buffy's base was something that they did on the show, I know that, but I thought "What if it was Buffy herself who was the spy?" Since Illyria had given herself away as The First's spy by attacking Buffy, it seemed logical that The First could replace her and pretend to Buffy to lead Spike and the others in the wrong direction while they had the real Buffy captured. I mean, if it could blend in as that potential Slayer for days, why couldn't it do the same thing as Buffy? The excuse I made for it to get away with it I thought was very clever: Having it say that it doesn't want anyone to touch 'her' because 'she' is very sore from fighting off Illyria. Then it goes to each member of the group and places doubts in them (Which The First is very good at), then having them begin to accuse and eventually fight each other over jealously and anger (In other words, The First was trying to destroy the group from the inside). Then having Spike (Who had, after all, personally experienced The First's mind games himself) be the one who realized something was going on and confront 'Buffy' about it was ideal for the situation. Then Buffy fighting her way back to the group and revealing The First to them by running through it would've been a nice visual effect. After The First leaves, the awkwardness of the last few days hangs over everybody, because what's a story without a little angst? Buffy's revelation to Spike about how she loves him in the same respectful way that he loved Drusilla seemed a very real description of their relationship (Mostly emotional). Spike's response would of course be slight irritation, but, since he has had his soul, he has become more humbled, and accepts her decision respectfully, but adds that he will continue to tease Xander no matter what. Then comes the ending with the cliff hanger of two old characters returning unexpectedly: Oz and Riley Finn.
Episode nineteen is about Oz and Riley explaining what had happened to them since they'd left and why they are here. Riley's army group had purged Oz's village for demons and werewolves (Good or Evil). Riley was considered a traitor to his group for resisting them, while his friend Graham had looked after the non-evil magical people they'd managed to save before he was executed. Riley comes to terms with Faith and their 'meeting' in Season 4, while Oz is surprised to realize that Spike is good now and doesn't have his chip (Emotionless as always in appearance). Meanwhile, mostly to give Illyria something to do and to fill out the rest of the would-be timeslot, I included scenes where The Master and Illyria, who are after all, beings who felt superior to others, arguing and comparing themselves to each other to try to prove who is better than the other (The effect would be mostly comedic here, but there could some serious undertones as well).
Finally, we reach episodes twenty, twenty one, and twenty two, the final three part episode finale of the Buffy universe. Obviously, Xander, Willow, and Giles had to return for this. Their reactions to seeing Oz and Riley again (Especially Oz and Willow) were thought of as very shocked and very emotional. I gave Xander and Riley scenes with The First because they also have insecurities, and The First would figure that anybody close to Buffy doubting her would ruin her chances of winning. The First's plan is elaborated: The Master was revived to mutate another portion of the Source, which Illyria was recruited to transport it there, to make it alter its effects after being destroyed to erase good power only and leaving the dark powers intact (To allow the three of them to rule unchallenged except for each other, after which they would fight each other to decide who officially rules without interference from the good guys). When Spike is sent to find The First and Illyria (He is very familiar with both, so could easily find them) and he overhears The First and The Master talking about the plan, and finds out that The First has become corporealized. I did this to make The First more intimidating (An eternal being who can also inflict harm physically) and to give it a reason to participate in the actual fight. Since it chose to be Buffy (For now, it indicates that once good magic is gone, it will become its true silvery, horned demon self) it would have her powers from Season 5 (The time Buffy died last, therefore the time period it's form is taken from). It would literally be Buffy fighting herself in that sense. But since Buffy is powerless, she and Faith together fight it, which must've looked neat onscreen, don't you think? So Spike calls Buffy and updates her. So, another reason to bring The Master back was to have Buffy feel vulnerable: Powerless and two of the worst villains she's ever faced going against her at the same time? Great angst. Anyway, after Buffy informs everyone about what Spike told her, Giles departs to get help. Brining Ethan Rayne back was a clever move as far as continuity goes (At least for me, if you accept my story "The Way Season 5 Should Have Ended" instead of the last four 'real' episodes of that season), since Ethan had worked with The First before and knows something of its plans since it first tried to recruit him earlier. Finding out that Ethan's time in the Initiative actually did have an effect on him in a way showed some long awaited development for his character: Knowing that The First had used him back in Season 5 and how the gods of Chaos had not helped him during that time, he wanted to get revenge on both. And, seeing as he had been approached by The First and was likely told of what its plans were and what had happened before, Ethan was a good excuse to give some exposition on subjects that the other characters would have forgotten (Dawn, The Fall of Los Angeles). Gunn needed to know about The Fall and his actions resulting in destroying the first Source fragment, erasing Buffy, Spike, Willow, and the Slayer army's powers and Dawn in order to make his sacrifice later to save Buffy and 'redeem' himself in her opinion. So Ethan is, as Robin describes "Not bad, but not good either". I couldn't just say he'd changed completely for the better, he just has a little more sense now, even if it is caused by a desire for revenge. I had to make the Source immune to physical attack this time because otherwise Gunn or Xander (Or even at this point Buffy or Spike) could just run up to it and shatter it like Gunn had to the first one. Ethan accepting to be the one to merge with and stabilized the Source was to really prove that he had changed for the better in some way, but obviously getting killed just prior to this act prevented him from truly redeeming himself, but it was a nice notion to the others. The decision to bring in Wesley's ghost to talk to Illyria was a way to convince Illyria to realize that what she is doing will not benefit her and to do what is right. I knew since I first started that Illyria would switch back to being good and try to save everyone to make up for it. The tragic part (Which I'm sure Joss Whedon would be proud of me) is that even though she came to a moral epiphany, and realized what she was brought back for and was willing to save everyone by giving up her life, it didn't work. Just like Ethan, Illyria's long story arc and revelation and willing sacrifice proved to be ineffective except for being a good notion. Now comes the biggest part of the series: Angel's sacrifice. When The First lets it slip that someone with a soul had to do the action, Angel realizes that he was destined to end the final climactic battle of good and evil and that his role in the Shanshu prophecy is actually meant for both him and Spike (I did this so that the Spike supporters and Angel supporters both have some satisfaction, knowing that Spike got his reward for getting his soul back, and that Angel finally has completed his life's mission of redemption). Besides, if any character had to make the biggest and final sacrifice of the series, it should be only appropriate that it is Angel, who had gone through so much throughout the series of both shows. Something I'd always wanted to see was the Buffy characters to see the changed Wesley, so since I had Wesley's ghost there anyway, I decided to let himself become visible once the Source was stabilized and give the final exposition lines of the series. I had The First trapped in limbo in order to stay true to the fact that The First can't be fought or killed and must keep existing in order to keep the balance of power intact, while also keeping it permanently out of the way for the future. Stabilizing the Source fragment would do this to The First because since The Master had used the Source to corporealize it, they would be magically linked to each other, so since it was stabilized, so was The First. The 'epilogue' of the show had to be thought out very carefully. I knew that Oz and Riley would go back to Tibet already (Since I had written a story about it earlier), and I knew that Connor would return to Los Angeles. I thought that the idea of him and Lorne continuing to run Angel Investigations would be the ultimate way to honor his father's memory and his mission. I had Robin and Andrew hired to the newly rebuilt Watcher's Council (Of which Giles is founder) as a trainer and a Watcher-in-training respectively. I felt that Andrew would return to his original status of trainee Watcher, especially since he can fight proficiently now, and Robin taking up basically Bernard Crowley's role to him within the Council would be appropriate for him (By the way, it is not mentioned in the story, but Crowley would return back to being a Watcher to help Giles rebuild it, along with other surviving Watchers). Since Faith is and has been for a while, the only Slayer active, the original line is restored (As Wesley had said, making an army of Slayers was necessary to defeat The First the first time, but in the long run, the line would've died out since everyone who could've been a Slayer was one, so the power would have died out with them). She and Giles now being the Watcher/Slayer combo team seemed a long time in the running, so it was good to finally get to that point. As for the main characters, Buffy and Xander remain an 'almost' couple, because I didn't want them rushing into anything, and they decide that if they proceed further in their relationship, they will not get married. Based on how Xander's fear of marriage was displayed in "Hell's Bell's", I figured he'd stick to that train of thought, and Buffy would see it as well. The two of them bunk together with Willow (Who is open to the idea of dating someone new, boy or girl) and Spike visits them occasionally, having constructed a life of his own (By stealing and lying, which shows that old habits can't just die out because you're human). I tried to show that the four of them live quite happily after the years and years of fighting. To round off Willow, I had Tara return one last time to start training Willow on channeling her magic back because, as she says, Willow's magic was already inside her before the Source was destroyed, so all she has to do is channel it back. This was to show that Willow's journey is not quite over yet. Giles and Faith still battling the minor forces of evil are also the indication that the battle will never be completely over, but that the main arcs of all the main characters have ended. Whistler turning up at the very end to congratulate Angel's success at saving the world was a nice touch, since he is the one who sent Angel on that path in the first place.
So, there it is, the reasoning behind the decisions. If anyone agrees, disagrees, or wants to make any comments or recommendations or demands, comment and I will appreciate the feedback.