As Sarah Michelle Gellar stocks up on blunt instruments in preparation for the May 22 Buffy the Vampire Slayer season finale, viewers might do well to bust open a box of Kleenex. "The emotional stakes are as high as they've ever been," series creator Joss Whedon promises TV Guide Online. "There will be some resolution to the Dawn arc — her being the Key and whether she's Buffy's sister — as well as Buffy's journey about what it means to be the Slayer."

Of course, the showstopper — not only the horror dramedy's 100th episode, but its last original hour on the WB before moving to UPN next fall — is still in no danger of getting mistaken for Lifetime's latest Meredith Baxter movie: The heroine must dispatch demented deity Glory before she can bring about the apocalypse. "Saving the world is what we do here at Buffy Entertainment," Whedon jokes, "so there's going to be some punching and some death, too."

However, the Emmy nominee (for writing last year's half-silent "Hush" installment) maintains that this climax is as likely to leave the audience sobbing as it is to start them gasping. In fact, he puts it on a pedestal next to the classic tearjerkers in which Buffy "killed" blood-sucking boyfriend Angel and he left Sunnydale.

"We did a big finale last year, but not as the final episode, because the story wasn't really connected to the characters," he explains. "This time, it's more like the old days."