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I guess I just like liking things

Today’s guest post is by Meags


I was a (way) latecomer to the Buffyverse, but I devoured the series (and its spinoff, Angel) in a matter of weeks. I now completely understand the general fascination with this show. I spend an inordinate amount of time rewatching and reading essays on it, and so I’m sharing my top ten favorite episodes. It was hard to whittle it down to merely ten, because there are so many fantastic episodes, but I tried my hardest to cull the absolute best.

10. S02E06 Halloween

I love the play on masculine and feminine expectations in this episode, where the usually kick-butt Buffy becomes a damsel in distress and the putzy Xander becomes a gun-toting soldier boy. Willow comes out of her timid exterior to take charge when she’s the only one who can. It’s a great commentary on the characters (and on stereotypes) when they are suddenly doing the opposite of their normal, and that includes Giles. The only low-point is Buffy’s horrible noblewoman accent.

TRIVIA: A spin-off show about young Giles called Ripper was conceived but never produced. Unfortunate.

9. S05E07 Fool For Love

For an episode that basically recounts how Spike gleefully slaughtered two slayers, it’s surprisingly moving. The viewer knows that Spike has feelings for Buffy, but she doesn’t, and that colors how we view the events. Spike is obviously not a safe love interest, but his story is still sympathetic and compelling and gives a lot of background on his motivations. He gives a fantastic monologue about how slayers have a death wish, and the camera perspective as he tells the story is really interesting.

TRIVIA: The flashback events are expanded in the following episode of Angel entitled “Sanctuary”, from Angel’s viewpoint. During the slo-mo walk, Angel already had regained his soul.

8. S02E17 Passion

This episode is amazing in establishing Angelus as the greatest villain in the series. He’s cutthroat in this episode, and relentless in his pursuit of Buffy. He brings out all the stops to taunt and tease, including the death of a major character. David Boreanez is fantastic in his portrayal of Angelus, who is a sinister precursor to Edward Cullen. (See, stalker vampires are CREEPY.) His passion for Buffy is what drives him to such sadistic extremes.

TRIVIA: Willow mentions that she loves watching Xander do the Snoopy Dance from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. He demonstrates this in season 5, The Replacement, to prove he is really himself.

7. S02E03 School Hard

This is where Spike and Druscilla are introduced, arguably two of the most interesting and complex characters in the series. A play on Die Hard, the fighting takes place in the school during a parent-teacher event, where Buffy is simultaneously trying to keep her mom away from the principal and stay alive. The relationship between Buffy and her mother is so great in this, especially when Joyce attacks Spike with an ax when Buffy is about to be bitten.

TRIVIA: The Anointed was supposed to be season #2’s Big Bad, but the actor’s voice began to change and so Joss had to come up with someone else. You know, because vampires are not supposed to age.

6. S03E16 Doppelgangland

This episode deals with the events that happened in The Wish, a few episodes earlier. The ex-vengeance demon Anya, in an effort to regain her powers, accidentally summons Vampire Willow from an alternate dimension. This causes a lot of confusion when Vampire Willow runs into the Scooby Gang. When they manage to switch out the Willows to avoid a mass killing at the Bronze, Willow has to assert herself in a way that she is not accustomed to.

TRIVIA: The woman that Vampire Willow attacks in the Bronze turns out to be Sandy, whom Riley meets in Willy’s bar the following season. After letting her bite him, he stakes her.

5. S05E16 The Body

The saddest but most beautifully filmed episode. It’s meant to jar the viewer, to feel disjointed and out of sorts, much like a grieving person. There’s no music in this episode; it is stark and quiet. All the members of the Scooby Gang show their own unique ways of dealing with grief. All of these reasons make the episode difficult to watch, but it is amazing television.

TRIVIA: Out of all the deaths in the series, this is the first to be of natural causes.

4. S04E16 Who Are You

Both SMG and Eliza Dushku are amazing in this body swap episode. They pick up the other character’s mannerisms perfectly. Faith’s characterization is pretty incredible in this episode as well, as she goes from bad girl to confused girl, when she understands the calling of Slayer from Buffy’s point of view. Faith’s goal is to hurt Buffy as deeply as she can, but in the end the person she hurts most is herself.

TRIVIA: The credit card expiration that Faith-as-Buffy gives to the airline is May 2001, when the episode The Gift aired, foreshadowing Buffy’s sacrifice.

3. S02E14 Innocence

This episode is so great and was a huge game-changer for the series. Combined with Surprise, the previous episode, it showcases the incredible switch in Angel/Angelus. His whole appearance and demeanor changes; he talks, walks, and even stands differently. The scene where Buffy cries on her bed is amazing and heartbreaking, as is the one where Angel and Buffy talk before she knows she has lost his soul. Plus, there’s a super cool scene where Buffy blasts the Judge with a bazooka.

TRIVIA: Angelus’ first victim is played by SMG’s stunt double for the first four seasons. Also, the Judge is played by the same actor as the vampire Luke from the series premiere.

2. S06E07 Once More With Feeling

A musical episode could be completely hokey and cheesy, but this one works. The rationale for the singing and dancing (spell from a demon) and how the episode is both serious and silly at once completely redeem any potential cheese. The songs match up with each character’s personality beautifully, and are fantastic to boot.

TRIVIA: Several behind-the-scenes people had parts in the musical, including episode writers David Fury, who sang “They Got The Mustard Out”, and Marti Noxon, who sang the song about the parking ticket.

1. S02E22: Becoming Part 2

This is a great episode from start to finish. It’s fast-paced, with lots of important changes and character development, but still has subtle nuances that you can pick up on subsequent viewings. Willow casts her first major spell, Joyce finally finds out that Buffy is a slayer, Spike shows his humanity for the first time, and Buffy makes a huge sacrifice when she stabs Angel into Acathla to save the world.

TRIVIA: At the end of the episode, after the credits, the Mutant Enemy logo says “Oh, I need a hug!” instead of its typical “Grr Argh!”


Honorable mentions:

  • Him – the scene where Principal Wood is in the foreground and Spike tackles a bazooka-bearing Buffy in the background is one of the single best comedic scenes in the entire series.


  • Band Candy – I love Giles and Joyce in this episode, and especially how their tryst keeps coming up in later episodes.
  • Wrecked – I love this episode. There’s a lot going on, and it’s incredibly dark (as is most of season 6), but it’s still a fascinating portrayal of poor choices, addiction, and desire.

Because I know it’s going to come up: No, Hush isn’t on this list. Why not? It is a pretty good episode, and I rate is highly, but aside from some incredible face-acting, it’s pretty much a monster-of-the-week episode for me. It doesn’t really change much, except for the kiss that Riley and Buffy share and the end reveal where they find out each is involved in the demon biz. Oh, and I think this is the last time Giles ever got to be in a relationship. Poor Giles.

Did I leave out your favorite episode? Make a case for it in the comments.

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