Monday, January 17, 2005

The Best Of Buffy

To celebrate the occasion that Erik and I have watched the complete series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD I have decided to list my Top 10 15 episodes of all time (hey, I tried to keep the list to 10 ... you're lucky I kept it under 20!). Somewhere while we were watching season 6 it dawned on me that I had never compiled a list of my favorite episodes. I remember that one night, over dinner, Erik and I were discussing our favorite Buffy episodes and we found that we agreed on some episodes and disagreed on others.

So, in honor of the countless hours that Erik and I spent watching the entire 7 season series, here is my list (making sure that each season was represented) of my favorite Buffy episodes in chronological order (there was no way I could rank them, believe me I tried):

Season 1, Episode 11: Prophecy Girl -- The season finale of the first season was an easy pick. This was the episode where Buffy realized the full weight of her calling as the Slayer. She knew she was destined to die if she were to go up against The Master and she did it anyway because it was her duty to do so. I also love that Xander was the only person that could bring her back from death because Angel was incapable of performing CPR on her because he doesn't breathe. Even though Xander had no superpowers or abilities at all he proved to be the agent that helped save the day in the end (which, we soon learn, he does quite a lot).

Season 2, Episode 22: Becoming (Part Two) -- Season 2 was such a rough season for Buffy. She loved Angel so much and was devastated when he turned out to be the Big Bad evil that she had to battle for the second half of the season (when he lost his soul by having sex with Buffy). She tried so hard to help him and not really go after him but realized in the end that she had to kill him in order to save the world from complete destruction. It is so bittersweet when Willow is able to return Angel's soul but just a millisecond too late. The good Angel that Buffy loved so dearly was back but she still had to kill him. This was an amazing season finale. It really set the tone for how this series was going to play out over the coming years.

Season 3, Episode 9: The Wish -- Not only was this Anya's first appearance but it was the episode that showed us what the world would have been like if Buffy never came to Sunnydale. I love how this episode completely effed up everything we knew about Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a series. I have always been a fan of "What if..?" scenarios in comic books (i.e. What if Kal El had been raised by Bruce Wayne's parents? What if Batman were a mutant and a member of the X-Men?) and this episode was the Buffy version of that concept.

Season 3, Episode 16: Doppelgängland -- Okay, I really liked the idea that Willow could be evil (which we will return to a little down the line). This episode had the evil vampire Willow returning to Sunnydale and the mayhem that followed her. One of my favorite moments in the whole Buffyverse is where Willow picks up on the fact that evil vampire Willow "might be a little gay." Hilarious! Especially since Willow does eventually realize that she too is gay. Fun episode that I could watch over and over again.

Season 4, Episode 10: Hush -- This episode is pure genius. There is no dialogue at all for most of the episode. The Gentlemen were extremely scary monsters (Erik contends that this is the scariest episode of the entire series and I can't really argue with him). The music worked so well in this episode. This is the only episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was ever nominated for an Emmy Award (ironically, it was nominated for Best Writing). Also, Tara was introduced in this episode as well.

Season 4, Episode 16: Who Are You? -- Of all the episodes that involve Faith the Vampire Slayer (including her episodes on Angel) this one is my favorite. Faith wakes up from her coma, learns that The Mayor was killed a year ago and she doesn't have a friend in the world ... and it's all because of goody-goody Buffy! She is able to steal Buffy's body and is given the opportunity to steal her life as well. This is where she finally realizes that she can be a good person. Even though her rehabilitation isn't complete until her episodes on Angel, I really think that this is the turning point (much like the turning point in Bad Girls when she accidentally kills the deputy mayor, Allan Finch, and turns evil) where she begins to turn good again. I also really liked the acting jobs by both Sarah Michelle Gellar playing Faith in Buffy's body and Eliza Dushku playing Buffy in Faith's body. Killer!!!

Season 5, Episode 16: The Body -- If I had to list my all-time favorite episode it would be a tie between The Body and Once More With Feeling. I love this episode so much. Every time I watch it I swear I choke up. The acting, the cinematography, the story -- this is a perfect episode. When Anya has her breakdown in front of Willow and Xander I want to just cry with her. Buffy's mother, Joyce Summers, was such a great character. I really, really liked her character and was extremely sad when she died on the show. I thank my lucky stars that Joyce never became a vampire so that Buffy would be forced to kill her. Joyce died a natural death and for that I will always be thankful.

Season 5, Episode 22: The Gift -- This was a very epic episode. How was Buffy going to defeat a Big Bad that was a God?! I was sure that the resolution to this season was going to be disappointing ... how wrong was I! Everything just came together in the end, Buffy and the Scoobies defeated Glory (in a believable manner) and it STILL wasn't enough! In the end, Buffy, without hesitation, gave her life (again) to save the world. This very easily could have been where the series was to end. Thankfully, the show found new life on a new network!

Season 6, Episode 7: Once More With Feeling -- The musical episode! Definitely one of my most favorite episodes ever! There really isn't enough that I can say about this episode that would do it justice. The songs, lyrics, dance routines, storyline ... the revelations! This episode had it all -- air-tight and completely solid. This, too, is an episode that I could watch over and over and over again. This was the first Buffy episode that Erik and I watched together on our 4th date (our first "stay home" date). I'm under your spell ... indeed!

Season 6, Episode 17: Normal Again -- This was another of those "What if ..?" scenarios. What if Buffy really was just another insane girl in a mental hospital who just lived a fantastical life in her head? Even though I knew throughout the entire episode that what Buffy was experiencing in the mental hospital wasn't real I still kept wondering But what if it is??? The last scene of the episode is amazing ... kept me thinking about it for days afterwards.

Season 6, Episodes 19-22: Seeing Red, Villains, Two To Go & Grave -- Okay, I might be cheating a little by listing these 4 episodes as 1 episode but it's my list and I make the rules. Honestly, I really consider these 4 episodes completely joined as one. From the point where Tara gets killed to the very end where Xander becomes the only person on Earth who can get Willow to NOT destroy the world the viewer is just gripped in anticipation. Warren is such a vile person and I was very happy when Willow skinned him alive but that act did put Willow on a slippery slope that led to her maniacal powertrip resulting in her attacks on Buffy, Giles and even the world. As these episodes unfolded I just kept wondering how could the little mousy Willow from season 1 become this evil bitch who was threatening the world? Then I began to think about all she had been through and it was just plainly obvious. She struggled with her addiction for so long and it was her love of Tara that really kept her from losing herself to Black Magic. Once Tara was murdered she lost everything that was keeping her good. Joss Whedon is a genius but I don't know if I can ever forgive him for Tara's death.

Season 7, Episode 5: Selfless -- Anya is definitely one of my favorite characters of all. She is most definitely the funniest and wittiest. This Anya-centered episode was such a shining light in season 7 ... I love it from beginning to end. My favorite part is the formerly unknown flashback scene where she had her own solo song during the musical episode of the last season. A classic Anya moment. A classic Whedon moment.

Season 7, Episode 7: Conversations With Dead People -- There is something about how this episode is presented that makes me love it so. Buffy's psych session with a newly born vampire (who she knew when he was alive) is just wonderful. And I can't tell you how much I wish Tara was brought back for this episode ... but Joyce's return kind of made up for the fact that Tara did not appear. There are a few important bits of information that clue the viewer in to how the season and, in fact, the series will end. From beneath you it devours ...

Season 7, Episode 16: Storyteller -- If Anya is the funniest character on the show then Andrew is #2. I loved him as a member of The Evil Trio (the Big Bad from season 6) but I really came to love him as a prisoner of the Scoobies in season 7. The stuff that comes out of his mouth (about geek stuff like comics, movies, TV shows) is just effing hilarious! You have to be a super geek to get all the jokes and I get all the jokes. Duh, how can I not love Andrew?

Season 7, Episode 22: Chosen -- The last episode ever. You may be asking, Does he really like the last episode because it was good or because it was the last episode ever? The answer is both. There is no way in hell I could have ever dreamed that the series was going to end with Buffy (with Willow's help) bestowing her Slayer powers on every single potential slayer in the whole world. It's just pure Buffyverse genius! So many things made sense after this episode. I finally realized that Buffy was the kind of Slayer she turned out to be for a reason. Only an unconventional Slayer like Buffy would have the clarity to see that this was the only way to defeat the First Evil. I finally realized why Willow was born to be such a powerful witch. I finally realized why Xander had to be completely human throughout the entire series. I finally realized why Spike really had to get his soul back. I also finally realized that Sunnydale/The Hellmouth was never destined to exist forever (it also made me realize that because there is another Hellmouth under Cleveland, OH there is the possibility that the story could continue someday). Many people were disappointed with the last episode of the series. Those people are fools. If you really get Buffy then you really understand that this was the most perfect way to end the show. It is definitely one of my favorite episodes ever.

Yeah, if this treatise is interesting to anyone, please let me know. It's not that I wrote this for anyone but myself but I wouldn't mind knowing that someone else "gets" Buffy the Vampire Slayer like I do.

I was tempted to list the episode Go Fish from season 2 (just because Xander appeared wet and in a speedo) or Bad Girls from season 3 (because the accidental murder of deputy mayor Allan Finch was the point where Faith started to turn evil) but I thought better of it ... the list would be enormous if I really listed all my favorite episodes.

The bottom line is ... Buffy the Vampire Slayer rules all. It is such an effing amazing TV show. I will love it for all time. I can't wait to start watching all the episodes, all over again.

All screencaps courtesy of A Buffy Screencap Site
Some information obtained at