Buffy The Vampire SlayerEnd of the Buffyverse
By Kat Giantis
Tuesday 13 May 2003, by Webmaster
As the slaying ends, we honor ’Buffy’s’ 10 best moments
Beautiful, petite, fashion-conscious blondes don’t normally strike fear into the heart of bad guys. But Buffy Summers has never been an ordinary girl. Beneath her endless supply of stylish yet affordable leather jackets beats the heart of a warrior — a Chosen One, the one girl in the world who will stand against the vampires, demons and forces of darkness. She is the Slayer, and for seven TV seasons she has kicked major undead ass.
But after May 20, she will slay no more, ending an epic hero’s journey that has run the gamut from action-packed fisticuffs to pun-loving comedy, bone-chilling terror and heartbreaking drama.
In the Buffyverse created by Joss Whedon, Buffy and the Scooby Gang — computer-nerd-turned-powerful wicca Willow, everyman Xander, tell-it-like-it-is Cordelia, lycanthropic Oz, witchy Tara, former vengeance demon Anya, and librarian-cum-Watcher Giles — fight demons of both the horned, scaly variety and the more pesky psychological kind. A monster is rarely just a monster, and in the blink of an eye, friends can become enemies, loved ones can die, and the world can nearly end — a lot.
We’re not just projecting (OK, maybe a little) when we say Buffy fans have a deep emotional connection to the series. Why? Because while the Slayer and her friends have faced off against all sorts of uber-evils, they’ve also coped with the pain, pleasure, passions and responsibilities of real life.
And now it’s over. So in honor of a series that has meant so much to us, we’ve selected our 10 favorite Buffy moments. It wasn’t easy; this could have been our 184 favorite moments, but time is short, and our Buffy DVD box set calls. So cuddle up with Mr. Pointy, hug Mr. Gordo, and sink your teeth into our picks for the best Buffy moments ever:
10. Buffy and Angel Kiss for the First Time Episode: "Angel" (Season 1, originally aired April 14, 1997)
What’s the What: Buffy locks lips with the mysterious Angel (whom she describes as "dark [and] gorgeous, in an annoying sort of way"), only to discover that her hottie honey is a 240-year-old vampire. Too bad she’s already invited him into her house. The Buffster vows to take the bloodsucker down after she mistakenly believes he made a meal out of her mom.
The Defining Moment: To save Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Angel (David Boreanaz) dusts Darla (Julie Benz), his sire (that’s the vamp who made him) and ex-girlfriend of a couple hundred centuries. After coming clean about his murderous past and the gypsy curse that gave him back his soul, Angel broods to Buffy, "This can’t ever be anything," and insists he needs to "walk away." They share a passionate goodbye kiss, and as Buffy turns to go, we see that her silver cross, her first gift from Angel, has seared a mark into his chest.
Killer Dialogue: ANGEL: For a hundred years I offered an ugly death to everyone I met, and I did it with a song in my heart.
Why It’s Great: A Slayer and a vampire in love. Talk about your dramatic irony. And nothing mirrors the pain and pining that will define Buffy and Angel’s star-crossed love affair better than that cross burn so close to his heart.
9. Angel Kills Miss Calendar Episode: "Passion" (Season 2, originally aired Feb. 24, 1998)
What’s the What: Angelus (that’s the evil, soul-free version of Angel, identified by his love of leather pants and heavy black eyeliner) continues his campaign of torment against Buffy and the Scooby Gang with the shocking slaying of technopagan teacher Jenny Calendar, who was trying to make amends for her part in Angelus’ return by restoring his soul.
The Defining Moment: Hours before her death, Jenny (Robia La Morte) confessed her love to Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), who was giving her the silent treatment over the whole Angel-becoming-an-evil-killer thing. Giles returns home and is happily surprised to find an elaborate seduction scene: wine, opera, rose petals — and Jenny dead in his bed. Angelus, hidden outside Buffy’s house, savors the painful aftermath of his evening’s work, watching as Buffy and Willow (Alyson Hannigan) break down when they hear the news. In short, their overwhelming grief gives Angelus a happy.
Killer Dialogue: BUFFY (to Giles): I’m sorry I couldn’t kill him for you ... for her ... when I had the chance. But I think I’m finally ready ... because I know now that there’s nothing that’s ever going to change him back to the Angel I fell in love with.
Why It’s Great: No one is safe in Whedon’s world, and the death of Miss Calendar foreshadowed other shocking losses, from Buffy’s mom (Kristin Sutherland) to Willow’s girlfriend, Tara (Amber Benson). And Angelus’ transformation into the Big Bad isn’t limited to his homicidal tendencies: he reveals to Buffy’s mom the crypt-shaking night of passion he shared with the Slayer, prompting the dreaded mother-daughter sex talk. Talk about evil.
8. Buffy’s Mom Dies Episode: "The Body" (Season 5, originally aired Feb. 27, 2001)
What’s the What: When Joyce Summers, Buffy’s mom and the stabilizing force in her freaky life, dies suddenly from a brain aneurysm, the Scooby Gang rallies around the grief-stricken Slayer and her sister, Dawn.
The Defining Moment: Giles, summoned to the house by Buffy, arrives to find Joyce on the ground. He races to her, unaware that the paramedics have declared her dead. Buffy hysterically screams, "We’re not supposed to move the body!" Suddenly her face crumbles, registering horror and confusion over having called her mom "the body," and forcing the full realization that her mother is truly gone.
Killer Dialogue: ANYA: 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, I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead, it’s stupid, it’s mortal and stupid, Xander’s crying and not talking and I was having fruit punch and I thought that Joyce would never have any more fruit punch and she’d never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever and no one will explain...
Why It’s Great: Death and "natural causes" don’t usually go hand in hand in Buffy’s world, which is why this unblinking examination of Joyce’s passing and its immediate aftermath is so agonizing. Hauntingly quiet and surreal, it marks some of Whedon’s finest work as a writer-director, and sparked a viewer campaign to garner the show an Emmy (it didn’t work). And while Gellar’s emoting rends hearts, it’s the subtle performances of the supporting players that deserve major props, including Tara urging Willow to be strong "like an Amazon" as they share a tender kiss, and 1000-year-old Anya’s (Emma Caulfield) aching attempt to understand mortality.
7. Willow x 2 Episode: "Doppelgängland" (Season 3, originally aired Feb. 23, 1999)
What’s the What: Anya, unhappy as a teen-aged mortal (she’s flunking math), tricks Willow into helping her cast a spell to get her powers back (see "The Wish"). But the spell goes awry, and instead brings forth a leather-clad, cleavage-baring, sexually liberated vampire version of Willow.
The Defining Moment: After crossing paths with vamp Willow, Buffy and Xander (Nicholas Brendon) retreat to the library, where, with Giles, they hold an impromptu memorial for their beloved friend. "She was ... truly the finest of all of us," says Giles. "Way better than me," says Xander. "Much, much better," Giles agrees sadly. When Human Willow walks in on the mope-fest, Xander holds up a cross and screams, "Get back, demon!" When it has no effect, he gives it a little shake to recharge it and tries again. A touching group hug follows. Awwww.
Killer Dialogue: WILLOW: It’s horrible. That’s me as a vampire? I mean, I’m so evil, and skanky, [softly, to Buffy] and I think I’m kind of gay.
Why It’s Great: "Reliable dog geyser person" Willow realizes that being a good girl isn’t such a bad thing once she sees the wake of destruction left by her evil counterpart. A seminal episode in the Willow mythology, it first illuminated her magic control issues and lesbian leanings (her doppelgänger bad-touches her before heading back to her own reality).
6. The Gentlemen Come to Town Episode: "Hush" (Season 4, originally aired Dec. 15, 1999)
What’s the What: There’s a communication breakdown in Sunnydale when the fairytale frightmeisters The Gentlemen arrive looking to steal hearts (yes, literally). But first they seize everyone’s voices so their victims "Can’t call to mom. Can’t say a word. You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard."
The Defining Moment: Whedon packs equal parts horror and humor into 27 brilliant dialogue-free minutes, which peak as the Gentlemen first float out into silent Sunnydale, creepily accompanied by their strait-jacketed minions. Try not to gasp as Giles’ girlfriend Olivia comes face-to-dentally-challenged-face with a Gentleman as she looks out the window. And try not to laugh as the oh-so-polite Gentlemen clap courteously as their leader shows off a victim’s heart.
WILLOW: Buncha wanna-blessed-be’s. It’s just a fad. Nowadays every girl with a henna tattoo and a spice rack think she’s a sister to the dark ones.
Why It’s Great: Sure, the Gentlemen bear a wee bit of a resemblance to the baddies in "Dark City," but that doesn’t make them any less terrifying. And even in silence, Whedon never loses sight of his characters or their motivation. Among the ep’s indelible moments: Willow and Tara’s first witchcraft-filled steps of Sapphic self-discovery; Giles’ inspired use of an overhead projector; Xander’s misguided defense of Anya at Spike’s (James Marsters) expense; and Buffy and Riley’s (Marc Blucas) first kiss. This episode leaves us (you know it’s coming) speechless.
5. Angel Loses His Soul Episode: "Innocence" (Season 2, originally aired Jan. 20, 1998)
What’s the What: Buffy and Angel make with the smootchies (Whedon-speak for "they do it"), which gives the melancholy vampire one true moment of happiness, a big no-no curse-wise. He loses his soul, and immediately strikes out against the things that made him feel the most human, with Buffy No. 1 on the hit list.
The Defining Moment: After her night of undead love with Angel, Buffy wakes up alone in his bed, unaware that he’s off being all evil. She returns later, only to find him cold, distant, and cruel. "Was I ... was it ... not good?" asks a confused, crushed Buffy. "No, you were great! Really. I thought you were a pro," sleazes Angelus, who responds to Buffy’s heartfelt, "I love you," with a smarmy wink and a "Love ya too — I’ll call ya." Grrrr ... aaargh.
Killer Dialogue: SPIKE: You’ve really got a yen to hurt this girl, haven’t you? ANGEL: She made me feel like a human being. That’s not the kind of thing you just forgive.
Why It’s Great: Virginal Buffy sleeps with the man she loves and wakes up with a big jerk. Every woman who’s ever suffered angst over the "Will he still love me tomorrow?" question can relate. But Buffy being Buffy, she still has a battle to fight, with her former honey leading the charge against her. Her broken heart can wait; her responsibilities can’t. And has revenge on an ex ever been as satisfying as Buffy’s Slayer-strength kick right to Angelus’, um, leather pants.
4. Buffy Dies — Twice Episode: "Prophecy Girl" (Season 1, originally aired June 2, 1997); "The Gift" (Season 5, originally aired May 22, 2001)
What’s the What: In "Prophecy," Buffy learns she is destined to die at the hands of the Master, who is about to bring forth Armageddon. Making matters worse? Their final showdown is scheduled for prom night. Four years later, and it’s the end of the world — again. In "The Gift," evil god Glory (a.k.a. She of the Unholy Perm) tries to unleash hell on Earth using Buffy’s little sis Dawn, a mystical Key made by monks (just go with it) whose blood unlocks the barriers between dimensions.
The Defining Moment: "Giles, I’m 16 years old. I don’t want to die," says Buffy in her take-this-Slayer-gig-and-shove-it speech. But she has a change of heart when vampires go on a student feeding frenzy. "It wasn’t our world any more," Willow tells Buffy after finding the bodies at school. "They made it theirs. And they had fun." That’s all the Slayer needs to hear. She goes to meet the Master (Mark Metcalf) and she dies — for all of 30 seconds. Thanks to a CPR assist from Xander, Buffy returns to this mortal coil and takes the Master down.
In "The Gift," Dawn’s (Michelle Trachtenberg) blood starts the apocalypse, and only her blood can stop it. Or not. Turns out Summers blood is the key to stopping Glory (Clare Kramer). Buffy saves her sister and the world by sacrificing herself. Her gravestone succinctly wraps up the series’ first five seasons: "Buffy Anne Summers, 1981-2001. Beloved sister. Devoted friend. She saved the world. A lot."
Killer Dialogue: BUFFY (from "The Gift"): Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I’ll always love you. But this is the work I have to do. Tell Giles I ... I figured it out. And I’m OK. Give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now — you have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn. The hardest thing in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.
Why It’s Great: The events of "Prophecy Girl" reverberated for seasons to come (hello, Kendra and Faith), and are a testament to how well Whedon plotted out the intricate mythology of the Buffyverse. But one death is not enough for the Slayer. The second time she dies, there’s no season-ending "maybe-she’s-still-alive" wiggle room. Sure, Buffy’s sacrifice in "The Gift" set the depressing tone for the next two seasons, but her final words to Dawn (above) are everything that is uplifting in the Buffy folklore.
3. Everybody Sings! Episode: "Once More, With Feeling" (Season 6, Nov. 6, 2001)
What’s the What: When a mysterious zoot-suited demon named Sweet arrives in Sunnydale, its citizens begin bursting into song — and flame. For a back-from-the-dead Buffy and the Scooby Gang, it means that all those deep, dark secrets they’ve been hiding from one another are about to come out — rhymed and with musical accompaniment.
The Defining Moment: Buffy sings to her horrified friends that they tore her out of heaven, and she implores Sweet to "Give me something to sing about," desperate for her hell on earth to end. Buffy begins a whirling dance, starts to smoke, and is seconds away from combusting when she’s saved by a singing Spike: "Life’s not a song/ Life isn’t bliss/ Life is just this: It’s living/ You’ll get along/ The pain that you feel/ You only can heal by living."
Killer Dialogue: BUFFY: I was always brave / And kind of righteous Now I find I’m wavering / Crawl out of your grave You find this fight just /Doesn’t mean a thing
VAMP: She ain’t got that swing
BUFFY: Thanks for noticing
Why It’s Great: Let’s start with the catchy tunes, penned by the almighty Whedon (all bow down before him) and sung by a game cast with varying degrees of skill, from good (Gellar, Brendon) to great (Head, Benson). Most amazing, each number packs in more character development and plot advancement per word than any other episode in that season or the next: Buffy’s disconnect from life; Giles’ realization that he’s holding Buffy back; Tara’s discovery that Willow is manipulating her with magic; Xander and Anya’s doubts about their impending marriage; and Buffy and Spike’s passionate curtain-closing kiss. All this plus a stirring solo on the evilness of bunnies? "OMWF" totally rocks.
2. Buffy Is Given the Class Protector Award Episode: "The Prom" (Season 3, originally aired May 11, 1999)
What’s the What: Buffy’s plans for a little prom-y fun hit a couple snags: A psycho student has trained a pack of hellhounds to attack students in formal wear (the mutts aren’t crazy about disco balls, either), and Angel decides to pull up, uh, stakes and leave Sunnydale, devastating Buffy by telling her, "You should have someone who can take you into the light."
The Defining Moment: Buffy, having disposed of the devil dogs, arrives at the prom stag (but in a "kick" dress), happy that she’s given her friends and classmates the night they deserve. What she doesn’t expect is to be singled out during the awards presentation by a senior class that isn’t as completely oblivious to her extracurricular activities as they’ve let on. Thanks to Buffy, the class of ’99 has the lowest mortality rate in Sunnydale history, and in recognition — and amid rousing cheers — they present her with a glittery umbrella emblazoned with the words, "Buffy Summers, Class Protector."
Killer Dialogue: BUFFY: You guys are gonna have a prom. The kind of prom everyone should have. I will give you all a nice, fun, normal evening ... if I have to kill every single person on the face of the Earth to do it. XANDER: Yay?
Why It’s Great: "[This episode] stood for everything Buffy was about: the fact that she so badly wanted to be part of the other kids’ lives," Gellar told Entertainment Weekly. It also perfectly encapsulates the paradox of Buffy’s life: balancing her Slayer duties with her personal life. And while the three-Kleenex award presentation is the stand-out in this episode, several other scenes resonate: Cordelia’s (Charisma Carpenter) confession to Xander that she’s broke; Willow comforting a devastated post-breakup Buffy ("I can’t breathe, Will! I feel like I can’t breathe!"); Anya’s demon remembrances; and, finally, the stirring fade-out of a tux-clad Angel slow-dancing with Buffy to "Wild Horses." Sniff.
1. Buffy Kills Angel Episode: "Becoming, Part 2" (Season 2, originally aired May 19, 1998)
What’s the What: At the conclusion of the two-part season finale, Buffy has lost everything she cares about: Kendra the Vampire Slayer is dead; Willow is in a coma; Giles is missing; she’s been expelled; and her mom, after learning Buffy is the Slayer, kicks her out of the house. Then there’s the small matter of Angelus’ plans to awaken the demon Acathla and end the world. To paraphrase Xander: on a scale of one to 10, Buffy’s day sucks.
The Defining Moment: After a sword-clanking battle (ignore the obvious stunt doubles and you’ll be fine), Buffy moves in to deal Angelus the fatal blow when Willow’s spell restores his soul. Only it’s too late. Acathla is open, and only Angel’s blood can close it. Buffy realizes what she has to do, and shares a last tender kiss and "I love you" with Angel before gently telling him, "Close you eyes." He trustingly complies, only to have Buffy violently thrust the blade through his gut. As he’s sucked into hell, he reaches out and desperately calls out to the only woman he’s ever loved.
Killer Dialogue: BUFFY (to her Mom): Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you know how lonely it is? How dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or, god, even studying. But I have to save the world. Again.
Why It’s Great: A Shakespearean tragedy with fangs and an impending apocalypse. In seconds, Buffy’s greatest enemy once again becomes her true love, and yet she must kill him for the greater good. She finally understands that, ultimately, the Slayer is always alone. "That’s everything, huh? No weapons, no friends. No hope. Take all that away and what’s left," taunts Angelus during their climatic sword fight. Buffy’s archetypal reply: "Me."