Just so you know: you’re going to disagree with this list. I’m rereading it right now and I already disagree with it. I know that the top 3 entries belong up there in some sort of order, but that’s it. The wonderful thing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that it’s a teen TV show about a girl that isn’t just for teens, or girls. Different episodes can speak to you in different ways at different times of your life.
Like reading Faulkner, but with less wanting to kill yourself.
Anyway, let’s get started with my poor decisions. I’m going to stick with stand-alone episodes for this list. I know that a lot of the season finales are phenomenal, but they’re the product of a season’s worth of buildup. These are ones that can blow you off your feet all by themselves.
[Warning: There are major spoilers below of a show that ended ten years ago. The warning is that you are seriously out of touch with pop culture. Fix that by watching these episodes.]
10. Earshot (Season 3, Episode 18)
“How am I supposed to commit suicide with a gun that’s longer than I am tall?”
There are so many great episodes that this entry was almost a 3-way tie alongside “Tabula Rasa” and “Something Blue” because they’re all funny, mix-it-up episodes with an underlying sadness to them. I went with “Earshot” because it revealed the most about character while still giving the show a good shake.
In “Earshot”, Buffy becomes magically endowed with the ability to hear others’ thoughts, which quickly turns out to be more of a hindrance than an advantage. This episode gave us our first dramatic look at Jonathan, who had previously been used, not even as comic relief, but as a backdrop. It reminded us that other people are starring in the brilliant epic that is their own life, and maybe you should pay attention to that sometimes.
Especially when he suddenly stars in the epic that is your life.
Really, though, I just love this episode for the funny moments of insight into others’ minds. We learn that Xander does math badly to keep from thinking about sex, Oz is the embodiment of Hemingway’s iceberg theory, Cordelia says the first thing that drifts through the vacuum of her cranium, and Angel literally has no thoughts (or they just “make no reflection in your mind”, as though that should mean something.)
Wait. A vampire who’s immune to mind-reading? Didn’t they steal that from Twilight?
Best Line: Oz: [Thinking] I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me, and she becomes me. I cease to exist.
[Out loud]: Hm.
Best Moment: Buffy mentions that she knows that Giles and her mother had sex and Anthony Stewart Head uses this opportunity to walk into a tree.
9. Intervention (Season 5, Episode 18)
The episode that called into question exactly how much silicone makes up SMG’s genetic structure.
Season 5 is all about growing up and while it’s still witty, there are far fewer fun and funny episodes in this season than in others. It’s sort of a downer when the main character loses her lover, finds her mother dead on the couch, gets her ass kicked every time she meets the Big Bad and gets saddled with the world’s worst genetic bag of hormones.
No, Dawn. You know what? You get out.
And then “Intervention” comes along. And it’s classic, oh-shit-topsy-turvy-let’s-make-Spike-and-Buffy-kiss magic and fun. Spike gets a Buffybot for lascivious purposes, but everyone mistakes it for the real Buffy. Hilarity ensues. And then it ends on a surprisingly serious (and astoundingly tender) note. I actually enjoy watching Sarah Michelle Geller in this episode.
Gee, I wonder why.
Spike is easily the most interesting character in this show, because he is victim to some really contradictory feelings. There is nothing more wonderful than seeing him be gentle and loving. When Buffy rebuffs him (leave that pun alone and I will too and we’ll just keep soldiering on here), it’s funny. When she responds with enthusiasm, it’s hot. When she’s touched by his loyalty and kisses him for real for the first time in the show, it melts your soul a little bit.
Aww, his heart is just as tenderized as his face!
Best Moment: Probably a tie between Spike convincing the minions that Bob Barker is The Key and getting to see post-coital Spike with mussed-up hair (I’m a fangirl, shut up, I squee sometimes.)
Best Line: Xander: No one is judging you. It’s understandable. Spike is strong and mysterious and sort of compact but well-muscled.
Buffy: I am not having sex with Spike! But I’m starting to think that you might be.
8. Chosen (Season 7, Finale)
“Buffy, weren’t you gut-stabbed like, an hour ago?”
I said I wasn’t going to include finales, but I lied. I have to talk about this episode. I loved “The Gift”, which was a great way to end Season 5, but deep down I always had a problem with the heroic sacrifice. Although Buffy chose to give her life for the cause, she always had to play the game that other people forced upon her. She was forced to be a Slayer, she was forced to take in Dawn, she was forced to kill. She chose to die, but she had limited options there.
“Chosen” changed all that. It’s the most feminist episode I’ve ever seen. It’s about a woman who flies in the face of every patriarchal tradition, empowers a bunch of women, defeats evil, and then is free to do whatever the fuck she feels like.
Sadly, not this anymore.
It also has Nathan Fillion as the world’s creepiest preacher, Angel showing up and being shut down, Willow finally embracing the sacred side of magic, Spike’s heroic sacrifice and the brutal slaying of an established character. What more could you ask for?
Nope, sorry. She never comes back. Give it up already.
Best Line: Spike: Most people don’t use their tongue to say hello. Or, I guess they do, but…
Best Moment: The “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign falls into the gaping pit that was once the thriving, demon-infested town. The sun is bright. Everything is still. The cluster of survivors survey the remains of their city uncertainly. Dawn turns to her sister. “Buffy…What are we gonna do now?” The camera pans in on Buffy as a slow realization sinks in. She smiles.
END OF THE FUCKING SERIES, HOLY SHIT, JOSS WHEDON Continue reading