Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top 20 Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Part 2)

Continuing on, promoting season eight, with a countdown of Buffy's best episodes ever. Here, we have reached the top ten.

10. Chosen (Season 7, episode 22)

Here we have what was (until very recently) the series finale, and even if it isn't it marks the end of an era. It's an episode about changing the world, achieving a mission statement, and it pulls it off beautifully. The First Evil has amassed its forces and Buffy and the gang must prepare for war. Hatching a plan to defeat the first, Buffy has Willow perform a spell that results in every potential slayer worldwide becoming a slayer. Spike, given an amulet by Buffy, reaches a peak of his hero's journey when he sacrifices himself to close the Hellmouth and save the world. As far as series finales went, it was one of the best, and most touching, ever. With an eighth season now, it still holds up as one of the series' best.

Best quote: "Make your choice. Are you ready to be strong?"-Buffy

9. The Gift (Season 5, episode 22)

While "Chosen" tried to be the end of the series, "The Gift" was designed to feel like it could be the end of the series. Buffy finally reaches the meaning of the first slayer's cryptic message "death is your gift" and comes to reach the peak of her own heroism. Glory is going to use Dawn's blood to open the portal and destroy dimensions. Dawn's blood is the only way to close the portal too. But Buffy will let everyone die before anyone touches her sister. Her love for Dawn finally shows, and we see that she actually trusts Spike with Dawn's life... an improvement for them. But seeing Buffy sacrificing herself to save the world is a powerful, powerful image, bested only by Giles killing an "innocent" man because he can do what Buffy cannot.

Best quote: "Tell Giles... I understand now. And I'm okay. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be strong. Live. For me." -Buffy

8. "Becoming, Parts 1 and 2" (Season 2, episode 21 & 22)

Ending the season that kicked the show into high gear, Buffy is finally ready to put Angel down, while we see glimpses of where he came from, and how he came to be. In one night, Buffy is stripped of everything. She is expelled from school, kicked out of her house, and has to kill her boyfriend to save the world. It's one of the series most heartbreaking episodes, as proven by the Mutant Enemy, who proclaims at the end "I need a hug."

Best quote: Angel: "Take that away and what's left?" Buffy: "Me."

7. Conversations With Dead People (Season 7, episode 7)

A truly great episode, and again one of those episodes that sets up the entire season. It's also one of the scariest, especially when Dawn is visited by the possible ghost of her mother. This episode, is literally as the title states. Basically five interconnected short stories. Buffy awkwardly discusses her issues with a vampire psych major, Willow talks to The First as Cassie, who claims to have a message from Tara. Spike picks up a girl in a bar, and in a nice play on words, doesn't actually say anything the entire episode. Andrew is talking to the First as Warren, who convinces him to kill Jonathan, a character reoccuring since the first season. Great piece of storytelling, feels almost like a separate artwork unto itself.

Best quote: "I miss my friends. I miss my enemies. I miss the people I talked to everyday, and I miss the people who never knew I existed. I miss 'em all. I want to talk to them, you know? I want to find out what's going on in their lives."-Jonathan

6. Restless (Season 4, Episode 22)

Buffy's such a deep show, there have been many books and essays written on it. Restless is the only episode that has an entire book written on it. You can watch this episode over and over and over again, and never see everything that's there. The episode also uses TV's four act structure brilliantly, dividing it up into four parts, and the whole thing takes place in each character's (Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles) dream. On the surface, they're being stalked by the first slayer, but beneath that, they're facing their own fears, their own nerves, and Willow is facing the stangest performance of "Death of a Salesman" ever.

Best quote: "I showed up early so I got to be cowboy guy." -Riley

5. Passion (Season 2, Episode 17)

Though Angel had gone bad in "Innocence" and it had been bad, but he hadn't really done anything truly evil yet. This episode was written to fix that. Giles and Jenny are repairing their relationship after he learns her backstory and her role in Angel's fate. She desperately wants to make everything right with him, so she makes a move to restore Angel's soul. And we almost think it will work. Until Angel shows up and chases her through the high school, snapping her neck, in a truly terrifying scene. But what's really scary is also maybe the most beautifully choreographed shot in TV history. Giles comes home with a sweetly written note saying "upstairs" and a rose petal on each step, and disovers Jenny's body sprawled out on the bed. And then Angel's smile at Giles's call to Buffy and Willow to tell them what happened. And we understand that Buffy's boyfriend is gone.

Best quote: "Without passion, we'd be truly dead." -Angel

4. Who Are You (Season 4, Episode 16)

The second half of a two parter in which Faith wakes up from the coma Buffy put her in at the end of "Graduation Day". She has found the Mayor's final gift to her... a gift that allows her to switch bodies with Buffy, giving Faith what she always really wanted... Buffy's life. It takes the usual 'body swapping' plot and makes it so much more than that. Sarah Michelle Gellar playing Faith playing Buffy is a truly stellar performance. And Faith's repeating of the line "because it's wrong" finally meaning it the last time, is a huge step toward the character's redemption.

Best quote: "I could ride you at a gallop until your legs buckle and your eyes pop. And you know why I don't? (mocks Buffy) because it's wrong."

3. Hush (Season 4, Episode 10)

We're getting into obvious territory here, as Hush is probably the most revered and critically acclaimed episode of "Buffy". It's proven by its Emmy nomination for "Best Writing for a Drama Series" in 2000. And it's worth every acclaim. Whedon apparently heard that his series was only successful due to its witty banter and created this: an episode with 23 whole minutes of silence. On top of that, it is easily the scariest episode of "Buffy" ever, with the scariest villains in the form of the Gentlemen. Most people say to start the series with this episode. I say don't. You have to earn your way to this one.

Best quote: "When I kiss you, it'll make the sun go down." -Riley

2. Once More, With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 7)

There's nothing to say about this episode that hasn't already been said. Like Buffy at its best, it is groundbreaking television. But this breaks more ground than any other single episode of a television series. TV's done musicals before, with disastrous results. Joss taught himself how to compose music to come up with this musical episode (also one of the only musicals ever to acknowledge the singing and dancing is out of the ordinary). There's the perfect, Whedon twist in that the characters are singing everything that they don't want to say to each other. The things they can't express in words are coming out in song. It is, ironically, the polar opposite of "Hush". As with many of the greats, this is one of the most touching, saddest, and funniest episodes of the series all at once, and maybe one of the best musicals in general in a long, long time.

Best quote: "They Got. The Mustard. OOOOUUUUUUUT!!!" -Mustard Guy

1. The Body (Season 5, Episode 16)

"The Body" is a masterpiece in every since of the word. In terms of directing, writing, and acting, it is the single most well-crafted episode of television to appear before or after it. Everything fits. And everything is heartbreaking, because everything feels so real. The show, despite its demons, always feels real... but in this episode, in which Buffy discovers her mother's dead body on the couch and goes through the motions of the immediate way to deal with death, it feels as though it's happening to you. It's tough. And it's powerful. And it is, in every since of the word, remarkable.

Best quote: "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, I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead, it's stupid. It's mortal and stupid and Xander's crying and not talking and I was having fruit punch and I thought that Joyce would never have any more fruit punch and she'll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why." - Anya

1 comment:

  1. Just reading that quote from Anya made me tear up. Great list!