Slain, At Last - Slate.com
"But in Season 7, as Buffy took on The First—as in the first and most evil being ever—the complexity that once differentiated Buffy from Mutant X and other supernatural schlock vanished. A simplistic, apocalyptic, weirdly religious good-versus-evil narrative took over..."
A hole in our hearts - Salon.com
"But Spike and Buffy were something else again -- less iconic, definitely, but also less matchy-matchy perfect. You couldn't see them snuggling in a cottage built for two, but you could see them egging each other on, year after year (one growing gray and the other progressively blonder), with their banter and casual insults, their love an uneasy but always-crackling energy."
Bye-bye, Buffy! - Salon.com
"An early influence on Whedon was Richard Slotkin, a novelist, historian and professor of American studies at Wesleyan University. In his 1992 book, "Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in 20th-Century America," Slotkin surveys hundreds of westerns -- films, books, radio and TV shows -- and notes the emergence of a particular kind of American hero after the fading of the New Deal. This hero, the lone gunfighter, is cut off from the very community he defends."
(A lot of Salon content requires subscriptions--but you can get a free day pass.)
laurashapiro's review of the finale, which was thoughtful and interesting.
wisteria_'s Wish List for the characters, post-finale. Spoilers for Angel S5 casting.