Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #5-#1

It was tough to do, but I think these truly are my favorite episodes of Buffy. There aren't any real left-field picks out of these last five, although as you may have noticed from the earlier installments of this list, it continues to skew toward the latter seasons. Well, except for...

5. The Prom (Season 3, Episode 20)
I'll be honest - this is the first Buffy episode that made me almost cry. Jonathan's speech is wonderfully affecting, especially considering the events in "Episode" just a few weeks before, and Sarah Michelle Gellar seems genuinely moved. Sure, the monster was secondary this episode, but that occurs in some of the best. "The Prom" wrapped up Buffy's high school years with class. (Pun totally not intended.)

4. The Body (Season 5, Episode 16)
Although I list it as one of my favorites, I don't know if I'll ever be able to watch this episode again. It is one of the most difficult, painful hours of TV I've ever seen, and I'm not eager to relive it. Having said that, it is almost one of the best I've seen; every aspect is artfully done (with the choice to forgo incidental music being one of the best decisions Joss Whedon ever made.) It also has Anya's speech about death, which I consider to be the single greatest moment in the series.

3. Once More, With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 7)
The musical episode! SO FUN. Plus, Willow goes down on Tara in entirely unsubtle fashion. The songs are mostly great, and unlike most other series that would have a musical episode as a gimmick, they actually advance the story. We see Anya and Xander's growing dissatisfaction with each other, Tara learns that Willow has gone too far with the magic, and Buffy tells everyone that they yanked her out of heaven. Oops. My only real complaint is that there's no fight at the end, but eh, it's still pretty damn good.

2. The Gift (Season 5, Episode 22)
I had a really hard time picking between this and my number one spot. "The Gift" is the best fusion of the comedic, dramatic, and action elements of the series, and I'm sure there are many times I would favor it. There's just so much to love: Willow saves Tara, Joel Grey is ultracreepy, Giles is a total badass about killing Ben/Glory, Buffy repeatedly hits Glory with a giant hammer, and oh yeah, Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world and makes us all cry. And as corny as they were, Buffy's last words to Dawn get me every time. Although I enjoyed the last two seasons a great deal, this would've been an excellent closing to the series if things had worked out differently. (They still could have revived her for the comic books or whatever.)

1. Hush (Season 4, Episode 10)
I'm sure this will surprise absolutely nobody, but yeah. "Hush" is simply the most entertaining, engaging and interesting episode in all of Buffy. Again, the premise could be a gimmick on other shows, but Joss turns it into a musing on the way we communicate, down to the absolutely brilliant ending. It's also the most genuinely horror-filled episode of Buffy; the Gentlemen are by far the creepiest enemy Buffy faces throughout all seven seasons. And I could watch Giles give his overhead presentation about the Gentlemen to "Danse Macabre" over and over and over.

There it is! The conclusion of my favorite episodes of Buffy. I know I left off some of the early favorites ("Becoming, Parts 1 and 2," "Innocence," "Prophecy Girl"), but I realllly didn't like Angel, so those episodes are irrevocably tainted. Deal with it. Check back tomorrow for my least favorites!

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