Now for something a little different. As we were talking about vampires in film earlier today I thought I would use this opportunity to discuss some of the best episodes from my favourite TV show of all time, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It goes without saying that there are going to be big spoilers for whole series, so read on at your own peril.
Fool For Love (Season 5, Episode 7) – After nearly being killed by a random vampire Buffy turns to Spike, who is known for having killed two slayers, for help. It’s a great episode because we get to delve into Spike’s past and it gives James Master a chance to really play up Spike’s evil side, which had started to wane by that point. We also get to explore the psyche of slayers and explores their mentality, something that really plays into Buffy death at the end of the season. Finally it also explores a little more of Buffy and Spike’s relationship that really develops throughout the season.
The Body (Season 5, Episode 16) – This is only Episode of Buffy that I’ve never been able to bring myself to rewatch. It follows the aftermath of Buffy finding her mother’s body at the end of the previous episode. It is such a raw and moving episode. The complete lack of music in the episode is extremely powerful and gives it such a real edge. For a fantasy show dealing with vampires and demons to deliver one of the most realistic episodes of TV ever is just incredible, but that’s the brilliance of Joss Whedon.
Becoming Parts 1 and 2 (Season 2, Episodes 21 and 22) – The second season finale is by far the strongest that the show delivered (although all were great in their own ways). It’s great for many reasons including the ending of Angelus’ evil arc, Spike’s betrayal of him out of jealousy of his closeness with Drusilla, and Buffy revealing her life as a slayer to her mother, along with several others. But what makes it so brilliant is the heartbreaking moment where Buffy has to kill Angelus right after Willow succeeds in restoring his soul. It’s so much more painful that Buffy has to kill an ensouled Angel, rather than the heartless killing machine he was without it.
Hush (Season 4, Episode 10) – Joss Whedon is a director and who writer who is known for taking some incredible storytelling risks and I don’t think that anywhere is that clearer than Hush. When the Gentlemen (who are some of the creepiest monsters ever put to screen) come to Sunnydale they steal the voices of everyone in town. This means that for the majority of the episode there is absolutely no dialogue, and instead the characters have to find different ways to communicate with each other. Previously Buffy and Riley’s relationship with one another has been hampered by their inability to communicate how they’re feeling and what they do with one another. But it’s the genius of Hush that it’s without their voices that so many characters are able to truly express what they mean to one another. The episode marks the start of Buffy and Riley’s relationship, as well as Willow and Tara’s, and gives Xander the opportunity to prove that he truly cares about Anya. It’s such a brilliantly written episode, and this was marked with the show’s only Emmy Nomination for Writing.
Once More With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 7) – I must have watched Once More With Feeling well over 10 times, and listened to the soundtrack countless more. Yes that’s right, my favourite episode is unquestionably the musical one. Joss Whedon had never actually written music like this before, and decided to challenge himself with a lot of different styles. It also gave the chance for some of the cast to exhibit their brilliant vocal talents, especially Anthony Stewart Head as Giles and Amber Benson as Tara. It’s also a hugely important episode in the season that led to a lot of changes in character dynamics. The pivotal moment of the episode is when the Scoobies discover that they didn’t actually pull Buffy out of Hell dimension, but heaven. This has a profound effect on them, especially Willow and is part of what starts her spiral into dark Willow, along with Tara leaving her in this episode due to her overuse of magic. This is also the start of Buffy and Spike’s romantic relationship that had been building over the past couple of seasons. Once More With Feeling is just a wonderful episode of television, crucial to the direction of the season, filled with songs that I still sing to this day. Perfection.