Posts tagged ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’


Chris’s Top Ten

10 | Lover’s Walk (308)

Spike returns, and we learn that Drusilla has dumped him — for a fungus demon, no less. Still, ever the optimist, he kidnaps Willow and Xander in an attempt to win her back. As the repressed feelings Xander and Willow have for each other begin to take physical form, Oz and Cordelia begin a rescue mission…

“Lover’s Walk” marked the beginnings of my love relationship with Cordy. Of course, my feelings for her never really came to fruition until Angel (where she actually got to, y’know… do things), but still. I love this episode for three reasons:

  1. Spike and Joyce. Spike on his own was alright, but Spike and Joyce together were amazing — and so bittersweet in hindsight, after ‘The Body’. These scenes were absolutely priceless. The fact that he actively sought out her company was just… cute, for lack of a better word. It also helped to lay the foundations for the Joyce/Spike relationship in Season 5 — watching Passions together and Spike bringing flowers to her funeral.

  2. Cordelia. So, so heart-wrenching. Though at this point in the series she’s still a total bitch, the look of agony on her face as she discovers Xander and Willow together shreds my nerves. Every. Damn. Time. Worse still, Cordy’s sheer emptiness at the hospital. Charisma Carpenter didn’t always get it right, but when she did? It was amazing.

  3. Spike’s wisdom. Surprisingly deep for Spike:

You’re not friends. You’ll never be friends. You’ll be in love till it kills you both. You’ll fight, and you’ll shag, and you’ll hate each other till it makes you quiver, but you’ll never be friends. Love isn’t brains, children, it’s blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will. I may be love’s bitch, but at least I’m man enough to admit it.— Spike

9 | Tough Love (519)

Willow and Tara have their first fight, sending Tara (unwittingly) into the sociopathic arms of Glory looking for blood. A race against time begins, with Buffy leaving Dawn behind in the search… only to arrive too late. Tara has been brainsucked by Glorificus. And then? Vengeance.

Four words sum up my unending love of this episode: “I. Owe. You. Pain.” I’d always had a soft spot for Willow — I mean, how could I not? — but this was when I finally began to love her. Willow managed to do the undoable — she hurt Glory. Although the idea of a darker Willow had been toyed with (see ‘The Wish’, ‘Doppelgangland’, and three to four seconds of ‘Becoming’), this was the first time we got to see our girl open an industrial sized can of whoop ass. And on a god, too.

‘Tough Love’ also marked the first time I actually felt for Dawn. Until then she’d been an annoyance, nothing much else. However, as the nature of her true existence came to a head (“I must be something so horrible to cause so much pain and evil”) and the tears welled up in her eyes, I finally began to develop sympathy for the character. Michelle Trachtenberg was fantastic in that scene… and Spike’s special brand of “comfort” is the cream on the big ol’ angst cake/strawberry/something else that goes well with cream.

You wanna know what I’m scared of, Spike? Me. Right now, Glory thinks Tara’s the Key. But I’m the Key, Spike. I am. And anything that happens to Tara… is ’cause of me. Your bruises, your limp… that’s all me, too. I’m like a lightning rod for pain, and hurt… and everyone around me suffers and dies. I must be something so horrible to cause so much pain and evil.— Dawn

8 | Hell’s Bells (616)

The day of Xander and Anya’s wedding finally arrives… but will a visit from a mysterious stranger claiming to be Xander from the future ruin everything? Short answer? Uh… yes.

Let me first just say: I love Anya. I love Anya, I love Anya, I love Anya. She is my favourite, and she always will be. And going by the Joss Whedon Rule of Happiness (that being, nobody can be happy. Ever. And if they are, they’re very likely to be shot, or mauled, or throw themselves into a mystical vortex of doom) and, say, every other episode in season six, I knew this was not going to be an easy ride. And it did not disappoint.

From Anya’s hilarious-yet-crushing wedding vows and the sheer hideousness of the bridesmaids’ dresses to the chilling flashes of the Xander/Anya married life, “Hell’s Bells” rode the fine line between comedy and angst freight train as only (good) BtVS can do. However, I must confess: the final images of the episode drove me to tears. Anya’s crushing walk down the aisle — sans Xander — never fails to make me cry.

I, Anya, promise to love you, to cherish you, to honour you… but not to obey you, because that’s anachronistic and misogynistic and who you do you think you are, like a sea captain or something?— Anya

7 | This Year’s Girl/Who Are You? (415-16)

Faith wakes up from her coma, and comes looking for a bit of payback. Said payback comes in the form of a present from Daddy/Mayor Richard Wilkins III (nee Giant Snake), with a doohickey that allows Faith and Buffy to swap bodies. The swap is a success, and as the Watcher’s Council cart away Buffy (in Faith’s body), Faith (in Buffy’s body) begins to wreak havok.

I always preferred Faith to Buffy. I mean, Buffy’s cool and all — she has a show named after her — but Faith was more interesting… especially after this two parter. The knock ’em down, drag ’em out bitch fight we all expected is there, but the great thing about these two episodes is when we see Faith start to become Buffy. She’s being touched by the love and affection B recieved, the love & affection she’d always desired, and there’s not a thing she can do about it. She has a line that repeats throughout — “You can’t do that… because it’s wrong.” By the time end of the episode rolls around, you can see she’s saying it because she truly means it.

More violent (and, perhaps, more obvious) is her assault on herself — the beating she gives Buffyfaith. The audience knew Faith had issues, but here we truly begin to see the madness and self loathing lurking just beneath the surface of her character… and although she’s violently insane, we feel empathy for her. Well, I did.

What’d you think, I’d wake up and we’d go for tea? You tried to gut me, Blondie.— Faith

6 | Conversations With Dead People (707)

Buffy, Willow, Jonathan and Andrew all have conversations. Conversations with dead people. Except for Dawn. Dawn fights evil. And Spike bites people. And oh yeah, it’s really, really creepy.

I don’t, as a rule, get scared by Buffy. ‘Hush’? Pretty to look at, in a Tim Burton sort of fashion. Evil Willow? Not scary, so much as really, really cool. But ‘Conversations With Dead People’? Guh. Though the episode, on a whole, was quite amazing, Willow’s segment manages to sum up my feelings quite succinctly (and, indeed, the potential the First had to be the Baddest of the Big Bads1 ). “Not it. Me.” With that single line, the First made itself well and truly known to the Scoobies, managing to pass even Angelus in the mind-fuck scales. As Cassie vanished into thin air, I felt serious fear for our heroes… it seemed the First truly could follow through with every single one of its chilling promises. The scene with the split second flash of Joyce, dead on the couch, didn’t help too much. Blink and you’ll miss the fucking terrifying.

But the way the episode began on a high note (Willow in contact with Tara, Joyce back from the dead, the potential of Spike having sex with someone not Buffy) before masterfully spiralling downwards just highlights the brilliance the writers of BtVS could reach. Y’know. When they actually tried.

CASSIE: You don’t know hurt. This last year is going to seem like cake after what I put you and your friends through and I am not a fan of easy death. Fact is, the whole good versus evil, balancing the scale, I’m over it. I’m done with the mortal coil, but believe me, I’m going for a big finish.
WILLOW: From beneath you, it devours…
CASSIE: Oh, not it. Me.

5 | The Body (516)

Joyce has passed away, and the Scooby Gang must deal with death in a way they’ve never done before.

Joss Whedon is a cruel, unusual man. I — like most, it appears — was thoroughly sucked in to the start of this episode. As the ambulance drove off with a barely-concious Joyce (barely concious, but alive), I believed that she would be okay, because I wanted it so badly. Then, of course, she wasn’t. It was brutal, and harsh, and nothing would change it. ‘The Body’ features in my top ten, though, simply because it acts as such a wonderful character study. The reaction of each character — Xander’s wall punching, Dawnie’s break-down, Willow’s clothing obsession (“Purple means royalty!”) — is so raw and intensely true to the character. But the moment that hit me the hardest was not Dawn or Buffy or even Willow, but Anya’s sheer confusion. Her soliloquy is so striking as it asks the question on everyone’s mind: why? Despite having lived for thousands of years, she has absolutely no idea what to do with her grief and sorrow. She wants so desperately to deal with the sadness, to help herself and help her friends, but she doesn’t even know where to begin. The beauty of it is that you realise: she’s not just being tactless, blunt Anya. Though she’s been a demon for centuries, she’s only been human for two short years. She’s asking questions because she honestly can’t understand it… yet nobody has any answers.

ANYA: I don’t understand. I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she can’t just get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid, and, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and I was having fruit punch and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever. And she’ll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.

4 | 522 – The Gift

An increasingly despondent Buffy decides to take the fight to Glory as the hour of the Dawn’s sacrifice approaches.

There are so many reasons I could give for loving this episode. I’ve always loved the Buffy season closers (yes, even “Chosen”), and this was no exception.

  • The Opening. Buffy’s apathy as she saves yet another innocent (“But you’re just a girl!” “That’s what I keep telling everyone.”)
  • “Previously on…” A clip from every single episode before it. Always gives me chills. It’s the little things.
  • Growing Tension. Buffy threatening to kill anyone who goes near Dawn — including Giles.
  • “She’s with me.” The way Willow swings into the shot, grabs hold of their heads and delivers the line… amazing. Every time it gives me goosebumps… and I love the aftermath — in the midst of this vicious, chaotic, world saving battle, everything stops for just these few moments, and Willow and Tara are finally back together again. “I will always find you.”
  • The Swan Dive. The utter poignancy of this shot… Buffy’s monologue, the fact that there was never any doubt in her mind that she should make the ultimate sacrifice for Dawn. Buffy knew she would die young — this was the fate of the Slayer — but she, unlike most, had the choice. She goes out as any true hero should: saving the world, and everyone in it. Not only that, but the reactions of her friends: Spike’s breakdown. Dawn’s helpless sobbing. Xander and Anya’s utter disbelief. The look on Giles’ face. Everything about this is so so perfect.
Dawn, the hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me. — Buffy

3 | Once More, With Feeling (607)

Xander summons up a demon — Sweet — who promptly turns the whole of Sunnydale into a musical.

Do I even need to go into why I love this episode? I’m a drama freak, and a Buffy freak. This is like… I don’t know. A liger. Two so very awesome things smushed together to create something even cooler. It has humour in spades — “The Mustard,” “The Parking Ticket”… and, of course, “Bunnies” — yet it still drips with trademark Whedon angst (“Walk Through The Fire,” “Standing, Reprise”). It marks the beginning of the end for Willow and Tara. It expresses the fear we’d suspected was lingering within Xander and Anya’s relationship. It shows just how far gone Buffy really is. And it’s just so damn catchy. Every single element of “Once More, With Feeling” is so excellently executed (woo, alliteration!), you truly believe everyone is immersed in this musical spell, from the dancing cleaners to Buffy herself. Sure, some of it is a bit off — Giles’ blind insistence that Buffy should fight Sweet on her own… for no good reason… then two minutes later completely changing his mind, for instance — but, c’mon. It’s Buffy. Singing. What’s not to like?

DAWN: Oh my god, you’ll never believe what happened at school today.
BUFFY: Everybody started singing and dancing?
DAWN: I gave birth to a pterodactyl.
ANYA: Ohmigod, did it sing??

2 | Selfless (705)

Anya’s recently re-instated vengeance demon status finally comes to a head as she kills a whole fraternity, and Buffy comes to a realisation (rather quickly, if you ask me): she will have to kill Anyanka.

So much about this episode is just right. We finally see some sort of resolution to the Anya/Anyanka storyline… and, of course, a bevy of Anya-related flashbacks. I love that Anya’s “insane and happenstance” way of speaking isn’t because she was a demon. I love that after a few years on inaction, we finally get to see Anya rip it up. I love her lost ‘Once More, With Feeling,’ song, and the ferocious cut between that and Anyanka, impaled on the wall. The song — “Mrs.” — is the last time we see her happy, and in a way it’s symbolic that she doesn’t even get to finish singing it. She ends up sad, alone, and unsure of where to go and what to do.

If only the writers had gone on to actually remove her from this state, instead of shoving her into the background for the rest of the season. In fact, the only thing that really stopped “Selfless” from taking the top spot was hindsight, really… and the fact that Buffy was far too trigger happy. “What’s that? A friend has gone evil? That friend isn’t Willow? QUICKGETMYSWORD!”

ANYA: What would I have to do?
D’HOFFRYN: What you do best. Help wronged women punish evil men.
ANYA: Vengeance.
D’HOFFRYN: But only to those who deserve it.
ANYA: They all deserve it.
D’HOFFRYN: Well, that’s where I was goin’ with that, yeah.

1 | Restless (422)

After the events of ‘Primeval’ and the binding spell the Scoobies cast, The First Slayer begins to hunt them in their dreams.

One can take ‘Restless’ in so many different ways. On face value, it seems odd. A trinket, at best. It’s when you dig a little deeper, though, that you can really start to get into this episode. Visually, this is one of the most striking episodes in the entire series. So many shots stand out to me: Buffy and Tara standing in the desert, Buffy spreading mud over her face, Willow lost in a sea of curtains… the list goes on. It stands out musically too: the constant, African inspired, pulsing drum beat and savage melody help to create the astonishing dream like qualities of this episode. Xander’s dream especially contains many disconcerting qualities: the steady cam shot through Sunnydale, for instance: from the basement, to the ice-cream van (complete with green screen and emphatic gestures courtesy of Anya) and back to the basement again. The way “Restless” is shot goes a fair way towards towards creating the unsettling mood that prevails without.

What — in my opinion — is even more astounding is that although each segment is vague and (for lack of a better word) seemingly random, each still acts as a deep character study. Willow’s fears that she is still the weedy little nerd we first met in ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’. The overbearing sexuality of the strong women around Xander (and his inherent desire for them) is shown through the uncontrollable, unreachable lust of every woman he comes across… along with the fear of male authority figures (Snyder/Apocalypse Now, his father) he seems to possess. Giles’ fear of being unheard and being left behind (it’s interesting to note that his segment is comparably shorter to that of, say, Xander’s… this may be because he realized exactly what they were dealing with far earlier than anyone else, and Xander seems to have a myriad of issues). Joyce living in the walls (foreshadowing of the events of Season 5). Tara, usually in the background, acting as the spiritual guide for each dream (“I was borrowed.”) And, of course, the Cheese Man. Even the little things amaze me — the clock displaying 7.30, for instance (“Little Miss Muffet countin’ down from 7-3-0” — Faith in Graduation Day… exactly 730 days before Buffy’s death), and Tara’s foreshadowing (“Be back before Dawn”).

Everything about ‘Restless’ just works. I could write tomes about it and still not get to the reason I love it so much… and maybe that has some part in why I do.

You think you know… who you are. What’s to come. You haven’t even begun.— Dream Tara

So, yeah.
That’s pretty much it.

  1. Hah! Potential.

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200 Reviews Extravaganza, Part 2

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