Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 10 Buffy Episodes

What's this? A vintage top 10 post? One that's already done in many other places, I'm sure, but as it's summer and I like doing these sorts of things, I figured what the hell.

I'm not sure you can really have your nerd TV cred without being a fan of Joss Whedon's work, in particular Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At times hilarious, at times tragic, but always engaging, Buffy fought vampires before vampires were cool and sparkly. You can go many places on the internet and find cool articles on why it was a great show, but that's not why you're here.

Because, let's face it, you just want to see the list. Hey, I get it. Please keep in mind that it's subjective. Everyone will have their own favorites, and I encourage you to share yours in the comments!

 10. The Zeppo (3x13)

"You know, it's not like I haven't helped before. I've done some quality violence for these people." - Xander

Oh, Xander. We all love you and your quips! I picked this Xander-centric episode over the possible other one, The Replacement, because I enjoyed how there was this whole huge apocalypse-y thing going on with the rest of the group, and Xander was off having his own adventure that eventually leads to him saving the others without them even knowing it.

9. Chosen (7x22)

"I wanna see how it ends." - Spike

The series finale of the show had to make it, I suppose, though I almost swapped it for something else. It had some classic humor, some boy angst, a sad death, and eventually led to the complete destruction of an entire city. So, hey. Epic? Plus Spike saves the world. Sob. I also love how at the end Dawn asks what they do now, and even though it's not said, the answer is clearly: live.

8. Tabula Rasa (6x08)

"Sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks. Oh, God. I'm English." - Spike

By far one of the funniest episodes of the series. I don't have it as my quote above, but the part where Anya says something like, "keep it together, Joan." makes me laugh every single time. Really, what's not to love about this one? Spike thinking Giles is his dad, Anya thinking she's engaged to Giles, Willow and Xander thinking they're a couple, Spike figuring out he's a vampire, and them making a joke out of the whole vampire-with-a-soul thing.

7. The Gift (5x22)

"Someone else should be the gun. I could be a cudgel... or a pointy stick!" - Willow

Alright, complete honesty, this episode really makes it onto the list because of the ending. Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn, even though by this point she's found out she didn't exist until a year before. And we kind of all wish she had still never existed, right? Yes. Nonetheless, the score behind the whole sequence, and seeing the reactions of everyone to seeing her dead on the ground at the end make it all very affecting. 

6. The Wish (3x09)

"Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic." - Buffy

A classic Buffy episode, and a classic type of episode you see in most every supernatural series - the alternate universe. While more often than not these episodes tend to disappoint rather than enthrall, Buffy's was pretty good, depicting what would've happened had Buffy never come to Sunnydale. In short, the sh*t would've hit the fan. Xander and Willlow are vampires, the Master wasn't killed, Angel's locked up, and Buffy's sort of slayer robot. Definitely not a better reality. But it did introduce us in full to Anya, one of my favorite characters ever.

5. Innocence (2x14)

"To kill this girl... you have to love her." - Angelus

Buffy has sex for the first time, and the dude turns into a total demon. Figures! But it did make Angel more interesting, or Angelus, I should say. I mean, he did some really terrible stuff to try to break Buffy down, all because he had one moment of true happiness with her. Interesting that true happiness equals physical consummation of lovey dovey feelings. It's always about the sex for guys, isn't it?!

4. Becoming, Part 2 (2x22)

Angelus: Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends...No hope. Take all that away... and what's left?
Buffy: Me.

If you were a Buffy/Angel fan, the ending of this episode was heartbreaking. After dealing with the evil Angelus for half a season, hoping they might find a way to get Angel back, it's not until it's too late and she's going to have to kill him anyway that Willow is able to restore his soul. Of course it happens right before she has to do it! Of course! It has to be at the most gut-wrenching moment! The second season is one of the better entire seasons of the show, and this was a great ending for it.

3. Hush (4x10)

"Well, I guess we have to talk." - Riley

Do you want to know a secret about season four? Up through this episode, it's pretty damn good. And then it gets all Riley Initiative-y, and ugh. This episode gets a lot of props because it employs the idea of no dialogue for a good portion of it. And while some might call it a gimmick, it's nonetheless a gimmick that works. Because it's also not just a one-off episode, it propels the story forward as well, introducing Tara for the first time, and exposing Riley and Buffy to each other as being more than they appear. Plus, the gentlemen are creepy.

2. The Body (5x16)

"But I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore! It's stupid! It's mortal and stupid! And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why."- Anya

I know that's a really long quote to include, but it was one of my favorite speeches from Anya, because it totally encapsulates what loss feels like, the way you can be going about your daily life and it just hits you. Joyce's death was all the more poignant because it was natural; there wasn't anyone to blame or engage in avenge-y thoughts about. Also, not that you notice the first time you watch it, but later you do, there's no music throughout the entire episode, the silence of which made it all somehow even more effective. 

1. Once More With Feeling (6x07)

"Clearly our number is a retro-pastiche that's never going to be a break-away pop hit." - Anya

Had to go with the musical episode in the top spot, though I'm sure some would disagree. But here's the thing about it: it wasn't just some random one off episode that didn't have anything to do with the season's plot. Things were revealed, and Buffy and Spike kissed for the first time... not to mention the musical numbers were just a lot of fun besides. Most shows tend to jump the shark when they do a musical episode (hello, Grey's Anatomy), but it really worked for Buffy.

Honorable Mentions: Graduation Day (3x22), Something Blue (4x09), Fool for Love (5x07), Pangs (4x08), Beneath You (7x02)...

So, what are your favorites? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Tough to narrow Buffy down to just ten, isn't it?

    Love your picks, but I'd have to put The Gift at #1. Also, I might include Dopplegangland, Restless, Superstar, Primeval, Fool for Love, Family, Triangle, Checkpoint, Becoming Part 1, School Hard... I'd probably have to divide my lists up into best comedic eps, best dramatic eps... I don't know, but it would be very hard to narrow them down.

    I try to rewatch Buffy twice a year-- once at Christmas vacation and once over the summer. I'm re-watching Veronica Mars right now, Buffy will follow.

    1. It's definitely hard to narrow it down. I did a sort of informal of a bunch of my friends and a lot of the above episodes kept coming up.

  2. I agree with 'Hush', 'Becoming part 2', 'The Wish', and 'Tabula Rosa'. Not to be cold hearted but, I never liked Joyce or Dawn, so I will have to pass on 'The Body, 'The Gift' (I wanted Dawn to die), and 'Chosen' (I would have traded Anya's death for Dawn's).

    I would add to the above four: 'Halloween' ('Honey, I'm home' LOL), 'Helpless' (Giles and Buffy at the end, loads of love), 'Fear Itself' (Buffy's teasing and then stomping on the MOTW), 'Normal again' (anti-Dawn), 'Checkpoint' (Buffy putting the Council in their place), and 'Who are you part 2' (Faith finally comes to her senses).

    1. I wasn't really a big fan of Joyce or Dawn either, but I was going for a more universal list than one that was completely just mine.

      I totally love Fear Itself, too. Lots of fun.