Sunday, February 1, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #15-#11

Over the weekend, I finished watching the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and despite my initial misgivings, it turned out to be pretty darn good. Sure, there are rough moments, but overall, I was quite satisfied. So, in celebration of my completion of this journey, I'm declaring it Buffy Week here at Arsenic and Old Face. Over the next three days, watch for my top 15 episodes to be revealed, five at a time. (I know 15 seems like a lot, but hey, I have 144 to choose from.) That will be followed by my five least favorite, and then possibly a more general post about the show to conclude the week. (But I'm not making any promises on that.) Anyway, here are episodes #15-#11 on my list:

15. Witch (Season 1, Episode 3)
One of the only genuinely memorable Season 1 episodes for me, "Witch" introduces us to the character of Amy Madison, who recurs in interesting ways throughout the series. It also is the first "teenage-trouble-manifest-as-monster" episode; in this case, the archetypal overbearing mother who tries to force her daughter to follow in her footsteps as a cheerleader turns out to be a witch who sets other girls on fire. Which is really kind of awesome.

14. No Place Like Home (Season 5, Episode 5)
This episode makes the list for two major reasons. First is that the wtfery of Dawn's sudden appearance is explained, and while Dawn turns out to be pretty lame, at the time, the reveal is fairly devastating; Sarah Michelle Gellar does some of her best acting as she deals with the shock of a fake sister, fake memories, and an altered life without her consent. Second, we meet the best Big Bad (well, maybe second best after The Mayor) of them all: Glory. Now, I know from the Internets that some find Glory to be really obnoxious, but I. Love. Her. I love the way the actress devours the scenery each time she appears, and I love that in her first appearance, she breaks a heel, throws a tantrum, and causes an entire building to fall around her. That moment epitomizes everything I so enjoyed about Glory.

13. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (Season 2, Episode 16)
So Xander (especially high school Xander) is ADORABLE. That's why this episode made the list; it gives him plenty of opportunity to be all cute while he deflects overzealous lovers (including Joyce, which is amazing) from all around. Also, it ends with Cordelia finally losing her shame over dating Xander, creating my favorite coupling in the early seasons.

12. The Zeppo (Season 3, Episode 13)
Two Xander-centric episodes in a row! "The Zeppo" is fun not just because of Xander's awesomeness, but because of the way it plays with the structure of the show. What would normally be a B-plot or C-plot (Xander's mini-quest) becomes the focus, while we continually receive hints of a near-apocalypse being averted by the rest of the cast. And as a result, we get a more confident, more self-assured Xander.

11. Dirty Girls (Season 7, Episode 18)
This is where Season 7 really starts to pick up steam. Faith returns to Sunnydale, Caleb shows up (God, Nathan Fillion is so creepy in this), and Buffy makes her biggest error of perhaps the entire series, blindly leading the Potentials into battle. Also, it has two of the most unsettling Buffy scenes: Caleb's vicious stabbing of the Potential at the open of the episode, and the destruction of Xander's eye, which was waaaaay gross. From "Dirty Girls" on, Season 7 is gold.

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