The Top 5 Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I was 13 years old when Buffy the Vampire Slayer started. I became gainfully employed at the age of 15 (I stayed there for 8 years but that’s another story) and one stipulation of my employment was that I did not work the night that Buffy was on. I worked my ass off but I always made time for Buffy. It is the only series that I kept up on while it aired. It is one of my favorite shows, probably only behind The Wire. My boyfriend (you may know him as ANO writer King Scumdogg) had never seen an episode and thanks to Netflix we watched the entire series together over the course of about two months. I told him going in that seasons 5, 6 and 7 were where it’s at. Seasons 1, 2 & 3 are very much “Monster of the Week” with a small underlying story line but a different adventure each week.  Season 4 coincided with college. Season 5 is just incredible. Hands down the best season. Season 6 was a dark and sad season and season 7 was not as majestic the second time around as it had been the first. I attribute that to the fact that I used to watch one episode a week. This time around there was a day where we watched 8 episodes in one day. There is so much down time in Season 7. You can tell that there are a lot of filler episodes until the real action starts within the last six or seven episodes of the series. But several of my favorite single episodes are in Season 7.

I’m not going to give a synopsis of each season or a cast of characters because I’m sure that if you’re reading this, you’re a fan looking to see how my list compares to your list and tell me “GAHHHH! How could you leave out this episode from your list, you big fat dummy dumb!” Just a heads up, there could be some spoilers but you probably knew that. Click on the episode name to view on Hulu. Anyway, here are my 5 favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

1. “Hush” – S4 E10 – Series episode #66

Ask anyone what the best Buffy episode is and 99.9% of people will say “Hush”. Even the casual fan is hip to “Hush”. It is the only Buffy episode to be nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. It was also nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera Series. Aaaaand it was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award. Trust me, “Hush” gets down to business. “Hush” is equal parts frightening and hilarious. The episode’s Big Bad are The Gentlemen. They are genuinely awful –looking, especially the main Gentleman with his lanky body and scary grin. The only thing that can kill them is the sound of a human voice. They steal the voices of all Sunnydale residents (including the Scoobies) so they can get what they came for in peace – human hearts.

Your voice, check. Your heart, give me it.

These dudes are scary as hell. The Gentlemen’s minions, not so much. The minions are the only negative thing about this episode. They are hokey and downright ridiculous but they don’t distract too much from the scary parts. The Scoobies, well, mostly Giles, figure out what The Gentlemen’s motive is. They meet at UC Sunnydale, Giles explains it via overhead transparencies and one of the series’ most hilarious scenes ensues. I scoured YouTube and Hulu long and hard to bring you a clip but I was not successful.

Bottom line, this episode sets a standard of TV series. It’s probably one of the scariest hours of television ever.

2. “Once More with Feeling” – S6 E7 – Series episode #107

Once More with Feeling is another fan favorite. Joss Whedon had wanted to do a musical episode at the beginning of the series but he didn’t have the time for it. Honestly, without the character development, I think a musical episode that early in the series may have let to the series’ demise. Whedon decided to have a musical episode in Season 6. The series was beloved and had an established fan base. Good move, JW. It took him six months to write Once More with Feeling and the cast underwent singing and dancing training that took 3 months. Alyson Hannigan wanted very few singing parts in this episode because well, let’s be real, girl can’t sing. Michelle Trachtenberg is trained in ballet so that’s why she wanted a dancing number as opposed to a singing piece. Hell, Whedon even recruited 3-time Tony winner Hinton Battle to play Sweet, the smooth and cool demon who summoned by Xander , to be the episode’s guide.

Sweet. Smooth. Demon.

I personally love this episode because we finally find out what Buffy is feeling. She’s always distanced herself from people in her life, unable to relate or connect. Fans had always related to other characters more and finally we get to see more of Buffy. It is striking when Buffy sings that she wished she was still dead. I get chills thinking about it. This sets the tone for Buffy as an emotional being that the viewer sympathizes with and understands for the remainder of the series.

3. “Showtime” – S7 E11 – Series episode #133

This episode is badass. The Potentials doubt that they can be of help in the coming Apocalypse and need a morale booster. Buffy, Willow and Xander secretly plan a battle with the Turok-Han (which Dawn later realizes was planned as it’s happening). They lead the Potentials and the Turok-Han to a construction site. Buffy battles the Turok-Han for everyone to see. It’s an intense fight but Buffy kills the ancient vampire. I love this because the Potentials doubted Buffy so hard and she’s like “This is how it’s done, bitches!”

Who's next?

Buffy gives a speech using less cocky words than I used and goes to save Spike from The First’s lair. Spike and Buffy…swoooooon!

4. “Primeval” – S4 E21 – Series episode #77

I like Primeval because it is the first time that the Scoobies – Buffy, Xander, Willow and Giles – all have a pivotal role in bringing down the Big Bad. Buffy can’t take down Adam by herself. He’s too strong. They invoke the powers of the Slayer lineage going all the way back to the first Slayer using a spell. In the past, Xander felt left out or felt that he was given bitch work (or in his words, he was the Butt Monkey) but in this episode they work as a cohesive unit, each role equally important.

I did this with the help of my friends.

It’s really a beautiful thing. After watching the characters for four seasons, the cohesion is finally there, each player having an important role in Adam’s defeat.

5. “Conversations With Dead People” – S7 E7 – Series episode #129

To me, this is The First’s most frightening appearance.  The First shows itself to Dawn, Willow and Andrew as Joyce, Cassie, and Warren respectively. The First appears to Dawn while she is home alone and unleashes destruction on the living room. The First appears as Joyce and makes Dawn think that Joyce is in danger. It’s rumored that Amber Benson did not come back to make an appearance as The First (as Tara) because she didn’t want to tarnish fans’ image of Tara. Whedon claims that Benson wasn’t available.

Yeah, I'm the First Evil. You got a problem with that?

I’m glad that Azura Skye had been cast as Cassie (we first see Cassie in “Help”, S7 E4) and that she was chosen to appear to Willow. She delivers her lines well and there’s something eerie or spooky about her. I can’t quite pinpoint it. Regardless, she’s awesome and convincing. Warren appears to Andrew and convinces him to kill Jonathan in an attempt to open the Hellmouth.

It was hard to narrow down 144 episodes to 5. I had originally wanted to write about 10 episodes but I quickly realized that I had much to say about 5. If I had done a top 10, I would have had to apologize to seasons 1 and 3 for not including them in on the action. Which episodes are in your top 5?

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About Christine Pyles

I have an unhealthy obsession with Prince, The Artist, The Purple One. You know who I'm talkin' 'bout. I have a shaved head and I like being dudes with hair for Halloween. My nerd claim to fame is my love of Thor, The Wire, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that I am the human version of C-3PO. Follow me on Twitter - @XineSoundclash. I'm real funny.

Posted on October 22, 2011, in Reviews, Television, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Casually watching Buffy for the first time ever on Hulu and watched “Hush” for the first time today. And, yeah, not even being a casual fan, I had heard of the episode and of The Gentlemen.

    The only thing I would disagree with you about is the Minions. I think they add a lot to the terror inspired by The Gentlemen.

    The Gentlemen project a sense of unavoidable dread and mystery with their tailored appearance and precise, strangely delicate movements. The minions, though, are the flailing, inexplicable and uncontrollable horror that The Gentlemens’ visitations bring.

    The Gentlemen, with their suggested slow softness, make you think you could maybe get away from them if you just run away fast enough. But if you start to run, you are likely to turn around and plow right into one of the straight-jacketed, bandaged, bloody faced… things… whose arms are twirling around like helicopter blades.

    Just my opinion, of course. But I think the minions add to the overall creepiness of The Gentlemen quite significantly. And really… what the hell are those things?

    (Didn’t read the rest of your post; didn’t want to read any spoilers. But it’s good to know there are more cool story lines to come.)

    (And, yes, The Wire is phenomenal.)

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