According to Facebook, everyone is talking about the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer reuniting (don’t get excited) for… an interview. (I told you not to get your hopes up.)
I mean, you can’t tell who half of those people are. They could have just grabbed people off the street. (Except Angel. Angel looks EXACTLY the same. Which means still gorgeous.)
Apparently the interview took place because it was recently the 20-year anniversary of the Buffy premiere – how mad is that? The show is nearly as old as me.
I’m a huge Buffy fan, and I was actually considering going all non-bookish and doing a top 10 Buffy episodes post anyway, so this was the perfect excuse. In terms of the order, I’ve gone with a mix of my favourites and what I think are the most technically good, well-crafted episodes.
10. Buffy Vs Dracula from Season 5.
This was such a fun, lighthearted way to start the new series.
From the beginning, Buffy was very clear about which parts of vampire folklore it was going to run with, and which ones it was going to stay away from. But in Buffy VS Dracula, the Slayer was tested against everything she thought she knew about vampires. Dracula was unlike any other vampire she’d ever come up against – and he’s the only one she never beat. (It’s pretty clear at the end of the episode that he’s going to come back.)
9. Killed by Death from Season 2.
In my opinion, Seasons 1 and 2 aren’t as good as the later series (except Season 7 – I’m not a fan of that one and you won’t find any episodes from Season 7 on this list), but Season 2 does have the odd gem. In Killed by Death, one of my favourites from that season, Buffy has to go into hospital and discovers that a demon is terrorising the children’s ward there. It’s an interesting episode because it looks at the things Buffy can’t fight with fists and weapons – disease. The monster is also pretty terrifying for a TV show that most people probably think is quite tame.
8. Once More, With Feeling from Season 6.
Come on – I had to mention the musical episode.
I genuinely think it’s really good. Yeah, the lyrics are a bit basic and in places it’s silly, but that’s the charm of the whole TV show, isn’t it? It’s kind of silly and a bit rough around the edges but ultimately, it’s brilliant. The same goes for this episode: yes, not all the actors can sing, but hey, they give it a go and I like what they came out with.
(Buffy was also one of the shows to do a musical episode before musical episodes were a thing, so there.)
7. Ted from Season 2.
I always forget about Ted, but as soon as I remember it exists, it brings a smile to my face. This is another stand-out episode from Season 2.
Ted, played to perfection by John Ritter (who loves 8 Simple Rules? I love 8 Simple Rules), becomes Buffy’s mum’s boyfriend and everything starts to change. Everyone around him loves him – except Buffy, who sees a different side to him in private and suspects something supernatural is going on. It’s an interesting one to look at when you’re older, because I completely missed what was clearly a metaphor for child abuse – Ted always treated Buffy differently in private, belittling her while claiming to Joyce that he just wanted to help her.
6. Gingerbread from Season 3.
This is another one that I tend to forget about, but as soon as I think of the storyline, I really want to watch it. It’s one of the few episodes that really looks at the community outside of the Scoobies, and how all these supernatural goings-on must look to them.
After two children are found dead in what appears to be a ritualistic murder, Buffy and Willow’s mothers start a petition to bring the children’s murderers to justice. It takes a while before you even realise that anything supernatural is going on – at first glance it appears to be mob mentality, but eventually we discover that the children have appeared several times throughout history, each time igniting a witch-hunt that, this time, Buffy, Willow and Amy become the victims of.
5. Normal Again from Season 6.
There are so many Buffy episodes that really make you think. This episode could have changed the whole show. You could even theorise that it did change the whole show – after all, how do we know that the Buffy we know and love is the real one? How do we know she’s not really a regular human girl suffering from severe delusions?
In this episode, Andrew, Warren and Jonathan summon a demon which Buffy fights. When she is infected with its venom, she begins to see flashes of another life, in which she is a patient in a mental health clinic, where she has been for years due to her belief that she is really a vampire slayer.
I think people love this episode because it shows such a different side to the show, and it’s probably the scariest demon Buffy ever met because it made her doubt who she was.
4. Earshot from Season 3.
I’m noticing a lot of my favourite episodes all revolve around Buffy being isolated. I must like seeing her overcome adversity.
In this episode, Buffy fights a demon whose blood mixes with hers. On speaking to Giles, she discovers that she may become infected with ‘an aspect of the demon’. We have a few amusing moments debating what this aspect might be, but eventually we find that Buffy can now hear people’s thoughts.
At first, this makes for a very funny episode.
But soon, Buffy can’t process all the thoughts she’s hearing, and it becomes one jumbled mess, resulting in a never-ending migraine. But within the mess, she picks out one thought: ‘This time tomorrow, you’ll all be dead.’
The gang embark on a mission to find the killer, but it’s Buffy who finds him: Jonathan, the side character who was there from the pilot to the finale, who has climbed to the top of the clock tower to shoot himself.
3. Helpless from Season 3.
I think Season 3 must be my favourite. It has so many of my fave episodes in it. Plus, who doesn’t love Faith?
If I really had to choose one episode of Buffy to call my favourite, it would most likely be this one. It’s really clever. Giles, on the Watchers’ Council’s orders, is systematically injecting Buffy to make her temporarily lose her Slayer strength. She becomes just like any other human, and we discover this is because of a test she must go through, to see if she can defeat a vampire without her super-strength.
Giles tries to call off the test, but the mad vampire they were going to use for the test has escaped, and he comes after Buffy to torment her, kidnapping her mother. Buffy must use brains, not brawn, to defeat him, eventually burning him up from the inside with holy water.
2. Hush from Season 4.
Season 4 is one of my least-favourite seasons – I mean, I still love it, come on – but it boasts the cleverest and probably most popular episode ever. Hush has very little speech, relying heavily on music instead, but still manages to create humour – in the first part of the episode, at least.
The second half of the episode is anything but funny. The Gentlemen are terrifying, with their creepy, clown-like smiles on their skull-like faces. Their trick is to zap a town of its ability to speak and then come for the citizens in the night to cut out their hearts, while their screams can’t be heard.
Some honourable mentions:
- Beer Bad from Season 4
- Band Candy from Season 3
- The Puppet Show from Season 1
1. The Body from Season 5.
This has got to be the most heart-wrenching episode in the entire show. Buffy comes home to discover her mother, Joyce, has died, from the brain tumour which they thought she had survived. There is no music throughout, giving the entire episode a sense of being at a memorial. We see the different ways that people deal with their grief: Willow continually changes her shirt, convinced it’s not ‘right’ for when someone has died; Anya asks the questions everyone wants to ask when someone they love has died, but can’t because they’re inappropriate. Her ‘I don’t understand’ speech is heartbreaking.