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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

Keith McDuffee

Monday 24 October 2005, by Webmaster

buffy the vampire slayer logoY’know, I thought it would be a cool idea and all to let you in on what I think are the top five episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seeing as it’s almost Halloween and all (and yes, I know, baddies find the day to be boorish and cliché). But can I really sum up seven seasons of episodes within a measly list of five? Well, I’ll do my best, and I’m sure no matter how I order them or list them, someone’s going to disagree. Big time. So, without further ado...

First, I need to have some honorable mentions here, because I just don’t feel right at all not having them in the list. If I could, I’d have listed ’The Wish’ (3.9) and ’Tabula Rasa’ (6.8) among my favorites, but this is ’The Five’, after all. I know many will tell me I should have added ’The Body’ (5.16) to the list, but sorry, it’s not one of my favorites.

5) The Zeppo (3.13) — This episode is better known to me as "The Xander Episode". Finally the guy with no special powers gets his day in the sun, except nobody’s around to witness it. Xander takes down a high school bully zombie gang, saving the school and the rest of the Scoobs in the process. Not only that, but the man loses his virginity to Faith. Faith! A nice touch was how much the writers downplayed the battle that Buffy and gang were calling the possible "end of the world," as we barely caught a glimpse of what was going on during brief scenes when Xander was in the high school. Cap it all off with the look he gives Cordelia. Perfect.

4) Fear, Itself (4.4) — I just loved Oz. I hated that he later left the show, and I always dreamed up scenarios in later seasons when he’d return for good. He plays a great part in this episode, where a "fear demon" takes hold of a fraternity house during a Halloween bash, turning everyone’s worst fears upon themselves. Oz’s worst fear was, of course, turning into a werewolf outside of a full moon and then hurting Willow. And then there’s Anya’s idea of a scary costume: a rabbit. In a classic ending, the gang finally comes face-to-face with the fear demon, and we learn that the heading next to its picture in Giles’ book translates to "actual size".

3) A New Man (4.12) — This had some great interaction between Giles and Spike, something we hadn’t really gotten to see in the past. I also love the Ethan Rayne character, who in this episode changes Giles into one of the very things he fights: a demon (I always thought that the BBC’s Ripper series should start out with Giles meeting Ethan, so we could learn more about their sorted past, but I digress). Since Spike is the only one who can understand the Fyarl demon language, Giles relies on his help. I didn’t really care for season four all that much, mainly due to the featured big-bad being a bit disappointing. Thankfully this (and one other) episode brightly outshines what was a rather lackluster season.

2) Once More, With Feeling (6.7) — The famed musical episode had me a little nervous. Could these cats actually sing? And could Joss put together a story that made sense in a musical setting? Oh, why oh why did I doubt the Whedonmyster. It’s evident that a lot of time and planning was put into making sure this episode worked and worked very well. Not only were the songs well done, but the lyrics made complete sense with the story and the characters. Some of the songs were sung very well, too. Everything’s explained in a very Buffyverse-believable sort of way, and we even get a huge plot point for the series thrown in there for good measure: Buffy and Spike’s first kiss. No list of Buffy favorites is complete without this episode. None, I say!

1) Hush (4.10) — No brainer. If someone who had never seen Buffy (blasphemy!) asked me to show them just one episode of the show to get them hooked, this would be it. Joss and company pull off one hell of a stunt by making an almost completely speech-free episode, and damn does it work. Also, this is one scary-ass episode. Holy creepy on those ’Gentlemen’ and the gimps that hurried after their floating bodies. And those plastered on grins. Parents, do not show this episode to your young kids; they will have nightmares for months following watching this. And once again, we get a huge piece of the Buffy story added in the mix, as Riley finally finds out that Buffy is a little bit "special".

11 Forum messages

  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    24 October 2005 19:49, by Simone


    I loved Fear Itself and A New Man - they are on my top 5 as well, along with Tabula Rosa, "Once More...." and Pangs. I know I’m in a minority, but season 4 was the best; I also think the humor was the best quality in this season. One episode in Season 4 that often doesn’t make the list - much to my amazement- is Pangs. How funny is it that Buffy is trying to make Thanksgiving dinner, while Spike is now hanging around and neutered; Xander is combating five diseases at the same time, including Smallpox and Syphylus and Willow is being politically correct and trying not to kill a murderous indian spirit!!!!!! I think people need to re-watch this episode.

  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    24 October 2005 23:07, by martianhoney

    I have to say though, anyone who includes 3 episodes from season 4 in their top five EVER, is a bit insane. But still, you picked a Xander-centric episode, so mucho respect for that.

    For me The Gift is the best ever by theway. Wouldn’t like to try and pick a whole top five right now though.

  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    24 October 2005 23:22, by Nick
    It seems to me, that Keith is making a none-too-subtle attempt at trying to ’be different’ and chose episodes that no one else ever has (specficially in numbers five to three of his choices). The fact is that ’A New Man’ is on nobody’s list as a top five Buffy episode; I just don’t believe that out of 7 seasons of amazing episodes, anyone truthfully regards this episode as a favourite. As for Fear, Itself, again it’s great, but there is nothing particularly special about it - nothing that represents the essence of the show’s magic. The Zeppo is a quirky, if not bizzare choice.
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    24 October 2005 23:28, by Anonymous
    Hmmmm, good list of one-off episodes, although I’d maybe it without A new man and The Zeppo, I’d rather have some of....Restless, Fool for Love, Selfless, The Body and Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered. Although I don’t see why the top 5 or 10 episode lists people always make ALWAYS have one-off episodes in, just cos they stand on their own. There are so many amazing episodes to do with huge arcs, examples - The Gift (best hour of tv ever imo), Becoming (a close second) and Graduation Day, which would be the top 3 episodes on my list any day.
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    25 October 2005 00:23, by Kim
    I have shown "Hush" to someone who isn’t familiar with the series and it doesn’t work. You need to have seen "The Initiative" first to understand the Buffy-Riley dynamic which takes up a large chunk of the episode.
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    25 October 2005 09:16, by Samanta
    I so much agree with the last posting, the list isn’t the best at all... OK for OMWF and Hush. but the rest - I think the author of the list is very much into S4, agree there’s bunch of great episodes there, like Rangs - it’s so much fun so it’s definately got to be in the list. As for me Passion is always #1, then Becoming, Graduation Day, Gift, Doppelgängland - they all got to get a part in the list
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    25 October 2005 19:06, by Anonymous
    how about mine. 1. passion 2. becoming 1 & 2 3. the zeppo 4. lovers walk 5. inca mummy girl
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    26 October 2005 03:13, by sambuca
    Yeah, I have to agree with those that said Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered as well as Lovers’ Walk. Two very powerful episodes right there. At least one of the two should be on the list. I do like The Zeppo, though. Very good episode, and I also like the fact that the ’epic battle’ is only scantly shown. Very good showmaking, Whedon. Time for Joss to do a sitcom about crazy brothers in an apartment that run a burger shop together. It could be called....Sesame Seed Buns.
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    26 October 2005 22:22, by Chris
    I only have to contend with one statement in this list (since lists are formed by their authors and are the epitome of simple personal opinion) and that is the statement that season 4 is not his favorite season. Yet he chose 3 episodes out of a total of FIVE from that season for his best of Buffy list? I just wonder how much the others accusing him of ’one-off’ baiting or favored episode list-itis might have caught on to something? And any list without The Gift is faltering. I mean, I can see where The Body, and OMWF could alienate or not particularly resonate for some viewers, and I can find a couple of tiny faults with each of them myself, though I should say that, as is true-to-form for other lists, both of those would be on mine as well. But the Gift rawks!!
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    1 November 2005 18:01, by Anonymous
    i’d have to disagree, i think the zeppo’s great etc but passion,the body, normal again are all brilliant episodes. atleast one of them should be up.
  • > The Five (by Five) : Best episodes of Buffy

    11 December 2005 21:36, by Anonymous

    Beer Bad.

    But I am a caveman. Yes, one of the two on the commercial, I’m the one who orders the duck And also yes, we can kick any part of any astronaut at any time. When & Where.