Rewatching Buffy – A Top Ten List

Kids, we made it through seven seasons of my favorite TV show of all time in just about half the time! I’d say that’s an accomplishment.

In recognition of this historic milestone sort of cool thing, I thought I would revisit the Top 10 list that I did for Buffy the Vampire Slayer prior to rewatching it. I figured that there would be some changes after watching everything from start to finish once more. And you know what? There was a change. But just the one… everything else basically stayed the same.

You’ll notice that each episode in the Top 10 is linked back to the blog post that I wrote for that particular episode, so feel free to go back and check it out if you need a lengthier reminder of how awesome each episode was.

Oh, and by the way… You know those body counts I was doing at the end of each post? I tallied them up! Throughout the course of Buffy‘s seven televised seasons, we witnessed the deaths of 136 people and 185 vampires! Please remember that these numbers may not be 100% accurate as I am imperfect and am likely to have missed a few things here and there. These numbers, of course, do not reflect random demons or various other creatures featured on the series. Those numbers are recorded on individual episodes, so you are again free to check those out at your leisure.

Now, without further ado… The Rewatching Buffy Top 10 List!

10. Innocence – Episode 26 – Season 2

It’s the one where Angel lost his soul and became the Big Bad that Buffy would face for the rest of the season. It’s bad enough that she had to deal with Spike and Drusilla, but then the love of her life turns to the dark side after a moment of true happiness. But even though watching Buffy get her heart broken was… well… heartbreaking… watching Angelus torment her and her friends was pretty much awesome. Angel was pretty depressing as a good guy, but as a bad guy he was all kinds of fun.

9. Checkpoint – Episode 90 – Season 5

Buffy has been having a hard time nailing down what she’s fighting whenever she faces this season’s Big Bad, Glory. Giles has exhausted all his resources and they still cannot determine what sort of demon she is. So the Scooby Gang is forced to turn to the Watchers’ Council, those overseers that Buffy kicked out of her life back in Season 3. This episode is amazing for two spectacular scenes… First, when Glory visits Buffy in her living room for a little hero/villain parlay. Second, when Buffy informs the Council that she will no longer jump through their hoops because she finally understands that it’s not about whether she’s good enough for them, but whether they’re good enough for her. Oh, and they drop the bomb that Glory is a god.

8. Helpless – Episode 46 – Season 3

Buffy prepares to celebrate her 18th birthday by having her Slayer powers taken away from her. The Watchers’ Council performs this test on all Slayers that reach their 18th birthday. The Slayer’s typical strength and reflexes are removed, then she’s placed in a difficult situation facing a dangerous vampire which she must slay relying only on her wits. What’s great about this episode is that it really strips Buffy down to who she is beyond being the Slayer. It also deeply explores her relationship with Giles, who proves to love Buffy like a father, rather than merely being her Watcher.

7. Restless – Episode 78 – Season 4

The fourth season finale had no Big Bad. The Scooby Gang beat him in the previous episode by performing a magic spell that ticked off the spirit of the first Slayer. The first Slayer then attacked our heroes in their dreams. In each dream, we saw a bit of each character’s fears and fantasies. And we found out a little more about the Slayer mythology, discovering a little more about what makes her tick.

6. Becoming, Part II – Episode 34 – Season 2

In the Season 2 finale, Buffy was forced to kill Angel in order to stop an awakened demon from sucking the world into Hell. I know that sounds really complicated. But what it boils down to is that Buffy had to give up everything in her life to do what was right. In the end, she was fighting an evil Angelus without the support of her family or her friends. When Angelus pointed this out to her, she realized that she was left with herself, the Slayer, which was more than enough to take out her former boyfriend. But just before she made the killing blow, Angel’s soul was restored. But Buffy still knew that Angel had to die in order to save the world. Slightly more heartbreaking than when Angel lost his soul in the first place. Maybe it was the moving number by Sarah McLachlan at the end while Buffy was riding a bus out of town.

5. Once More, With Feeling – Episode 107 – Season 6

It’s the musical episode. Like I wouldn’t put the musical episode in my Top 10.

4. Earshot – Episode 52 – Season 3

At the time, this was a pretty controversial episode. I guess even today it would be considered controversial, considering part of the plot revolves around a kid that brings a high powered rifle to school. Buffy gains the ability to hear people’s thoughts and hears someone’s thought that they’ll kill all the students in the school. The psychotic thinker turns out to be a crazy lunch lady. But Buffy is still able to reach out to Jonathan, a student that wants to commit suicide. Buffy learns, while hearing everyone’s innermost thoughts, that everyone deals with their own crap. Jonathan is whining about how no one notices him or even knows he exists, but Buffy knows that’s only because people are busy whining about their own pain, their own fears, their own insecurities. It’s a pretty good put-yourself-in-someone-else’s-shoes kind of lesson.

3. Passion – Episode 29 – Season 2

This is one that took place while Angel was still a bad guy. And in it, we see just how evil Angelus really is. The writers weren’t playing around when they made him the Big Bad. Buffy’s boyfriend wasn’t just going through a phase, and they wanted the audience to know that he was seriously bad. Giles’ girlfriend, Ms. Calendar, was attempting to find a way to restore Angel’s soul, which would bring him back to the good guys. And as a way of thanking her for her trouble, Angel snapped her neck. Knowing that he was playing for keeps prepared Buffy for what she would have to do to stop him.

2. Hush – Episode 66 – Season 4

Much of this episode was done with zero dialogue, which was just an awesome way to get back at critics that claimed the show relied too heavily on dialogue. Everyone in Sunnydale has their voices stolen by a group of demonic creatures known as the Gentlemen: real creepy looking guys with permanent smiles plastered to their faces. They steal voices because a human scream can destroy them. Turns into a pretty nasty ending for them when Buffy gets her voice back.

1. The Body – Episode 94 – Season 5

And my favorite episode of all is still the one that sees the death of Buffy’s mom, Joyce. She wasn’t killed by a vampire or a demon or some other supernatural entity. She died from an aneurysm, thanks to a complication from an earlier brain surgery. It was sudden and it was unexpected. Watching this episode again after losing a parent myself, it hit a little harder than the first time I saw it. It’s a great look at how each of the different characters express their feelings of loss when someone they know and love is suddenly gone.

So, that’s that. Out of seven seasons and 144 total episodes, which ones stand out to you? Let me know what you think down in the comments! And be sure to come back next week for the beginning of the end of Angel.

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