Once More With Feeling: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #1


Once More With Feeling is an episode that a lot of fans consider to be their favorite and it definitely tops my list because I’m a sucker for a good musical. In fact, I got introduced to Joss Whedon through Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. I know most of the songs in this episode by heart and honestly wouldn’t change a single thing about this episode. For the most part.

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS ENSUE! Don’t read if you haven’t started Season 6!

The episode starts with a short recap of everything that’s been going on up to this point. Spike is in love with Buffy, who only sees his feelings as obsession. Willow resurrected Buffy and Dawn has kleptomania. Xander and Anya finally announce their engagement while Willow and Tara are having problems due to Willow becoming too dependent on magic. The short recap ends with Willow deciding to use a spell to make Tara forget a fight.


The opening is a unique one compared to every other episode. The theme song is played in an orchestral style instead of the usual rock and roll theme. The cast’s faces are shown on the moon with old Hollywood style font. I so wish Amber Benson and Anthony Stewart Head got a part in this opening but oh well.


The episode starts with the episode title being shown on screen as the overture begins to play. Buffy wakes up as her alarm clock rings. Willow, Tara, and Dawn are seen getting ready, but Buffy stays in bed. Cut to the Magic Box later that day, where Xander and Anya are looking at a bridal magazine, Giles reminds Dawn to go do her homework, Willow and Tara are studying, and Buffy is drawing a white light surrounded by darkness in her notebook.


The overture then leads into the opening song that Buffy sings as she goes on patrol, “Going Through the Motions.” This song is majorly clever with the words syncing with Buffy’s fighting and slaying. She saves some random guy and laments that she wants to be alive. (Reminds me of Matthew West’s “The Motions.”)


The next morning, Buffy goes to the Magic Box after dropping off Dawn at school. Xander makes a funny doughnut joke that Anya apparently heard before. Then Buffy asks everyone if anyone burst into song last night and everyone starts realizing that they did sing in some shape or form last night. This leads into the next song “I’ve Got a Theory.”


This is a funny song because the song is so self-aware. I mean, how many musicals sing about why they’re singing? Scrubs kind of did that with their musical episode, but this song, to quote Commentary the Musical, basically “breaks the ninth wall.” Willow thinks some kid is dreaming and everyone is “stuck inside his wacky Broadway nighmare.”

jazz hands

Xander thinks it could be witches, but gets shot down by Willow and Tara. Anya thinks it could be bunnies, which is met with the sound of crickets. Then she gets this hilarious solo about why she’s afraid of bunnies. It’s hard rock bordering on metal and Anya even plays air guitar. It is awesome.


Then when Giles and Willow sing about how they should get to work, Buffy sings that it doesn’t matter.


It sounds motivating at first, but then you realize that Buffy is completely disconnected from this latest danger. And yet I love it because the motivation is still there. Buffy even jokes about how she died twice. The song ends with the Scoobies saying “There’s nothing we can’t face” with Anya singing “except for bunnies.” Then she wonders if they’re the only ones singing, but Buffy looks outside to a crowd singing about how the dry cleaners got the mustard out.


Later on, Dawn comes in, excited about everyone singing. Willow and Tara decide to get out of the Magic Box to get some kind of volume or text in Buffy’s house while Dawn steals a necklace she spies lying on the counter. You can pretty much tell from the way that Willow and Tara are talking that they actually just want to be alone together.


The two of them are seen walking in a park, where a couple of boys are checking Tara out. Tara jokes about suddenly wanting the boys, but Willow hopes that she doesn’t have to fight to keep Tara. Keep in mind, by the way, that Tara is under the influence of Willow’s spell on her. This leads to Tara singing her beautiful ballad “Under Your Spell.” I know that Tara’s outfit kind of looks like a Renaissance Faire number, but it looks good on her. The song is a sweet number and it would be a genuine one if you forget about the fact that Tara is actually under Willow’s spell. The two of them go back home to…well…you know.


This is where the song loses me because the two of them are basically having sex under false pretenses. Joss Whedon even says in the commentary that this scene was basically porn. Back in the Magic Box, Xander takes note at Willow and Tara’s “get a roominess” while Dawn thinks that the whole musical extravaganza is kind of romantic and doesn’t think that anything can go wrong. Cut to a guy tap dancing so hard he spontaneously combusts.


The next morning sees Xander and Anya enjoying a morning off of work. Anya starts singing “I’ll Never Tell” which turns into a duet with her and Xander. Their duet is sweet, but the cracks in their relationship also show. It’s also delves into their insecurities about the future. The song itself is reminiscent of Singing in the Rain’s numbers, especially when Xander and Anya collapse onto a couch laughing. Anya even tells Giles in the next scene that their song “is a retro-pastiche that’s never going to be a breakaway pop hit.”


As Anya, Xander, and Giles talk about what’s going on with the spontaneous combustions, executive producer Marti Noxon gets a short solo in which her character tries to talk her way out of getting a parking ticket. Giles says that Buffy is looking for information from local demon haunts. Guess where she actually goes.


Buffy asks Spike if there’s anything going on and Spike hates that she’s not coming to see him for, um, other things. At this point the two of them have a very strange friendship going on, with Spike being the only one that Buffy can talk to about being dead and hating her life because she longs for Heaven. Spike tells her to leave, knowing that he could break out into song at any minute. This, of course, leads into his awesome solo “Rest in Peace.”


Now as you know, I have a Texas-sized crush on Spike and the actor that plays him, so even though Buffy is disgusted at the fact that she’s being serenaded, I’m slowly realizing what “Killing Me Softly (With His Song)” actually means. James Marsters, incidentally, actually has a band and some solo albums out, so he gets to show off his skills in this song. You may also realize that he’s not singing in a British accent. But who cares?!


The only thing wrong with this song is that it’s the complete opposite of what Spike actually wants from Buffy. Yes, he’s sick of getting mixed messages from her, but you’re not helping things by singing a mixed message of your own, Spike. And come on, Buffy, he’s serenading you! Enjoy it!

"So, you're not staying then?" Not after what you sang to her, you moron!

“So, you’re not staying then?”
Not after what you sang to her, you moron!


Back in Buffy’s house, Dawn preps to do math homework. Tara tells Dawn about a lead Willow got about some musical demon that got summoned. Dawn reminds Tara about the fight that she and Willow had the previous night and Tara genuinely forgets and decides to go to the Magic Box to look into the flower that she pinned on her shirt.


Dawn takes the necklace she stole out of the jewelry box and wears it. She starts singing when some demons with puppet heads kidnap her. The next scene shows Michelle Tratchenberg in the Bronze, showing off her ballet skills as her attempt to escape her kidnappers is shown as a really well-choreographed ballet. Dawn slides over to the stage, where she meets the musical demon Sweet, who goes into a nice bluesy villain song, “What You Feel.”


Hilton Battle, who plays Sweet, is a Tony Award winning actor who tap-dances through this song with a devilish charm. Only problem with this song? Sweet assumes that Dawn summoned him and wants to make her his queen. Keep in mind that Dawn is 16 years old at this point. Sweet sends his minions to get Buffy cuz he wants to see her burn.


Over in the Magic Box, Buffy’s training with Giles. Something to note, by the way. Anthony Stewart Head has his own music albums out so this number, “Standing” is his chance to show off his singing. He did it twice in Season 4 and I love this song. But I hate that Giles had to leave because Anthony Stewart Head wanted to leave the show. I get that Giles thinks that Buffy is becoming too dependent on him, but on the other hand, Buffy needs Giles because she’s majorly depressed and can’t lose her father figure when she already lost her mother the previous year. If Anthony Stewart Head wanted to leave, they could’ve killed Giles off. It would’ve made more sense than having Giles destroy Buffy psychologically.


Tara makes her way up to the loft in the Magic Box and finds a book that shows that the flower she wore is Lethe’s Bramble, which is used for spells for erasing memories and mind control. Tara has handled abuse from her family before, so she hates that Willow is starting to abuse her. This leads into a duet between her and Giles in which the two of them sing about leaving the ones they love in spite of how much they want to stay. It really breaks my heart but I side more with Tara wanting to leave Willow.


Spike comes in with one of Sweet’s minions who tells Buffy about how her sister is at the Bronze and how Sweet wants to take Dawn to the underworld to be his queen and then makes a run for it. Buffy expects everyone to back her up, but Giles tells her to go alone. Spike offers to help Buffy, but Buffy refuses it.


This leads into my personal favorite song in this episode “Walk Through the Fire.” It’s an ensemble number that I love singing along to. I relate to Buffy wanting the fire in her heart to come back. The idea of walking through the fire is reminiscent of the idea of “If you’re going through hell, keep on moving.”


Spike broods in an alley over his love for Buffy. He hopes that Buffy dies, but decides to go help her in spite of that desire. Yeah, his love is complicated and messed up. Just go with it.


In the Magic Box, the Scoobies wonder if staying behind was the right choice. They decide to go to Bronze to rescue Dawn and help Buffy however they can. Buffy, however, thinks that she’s alone and she doesn’t want to tell anyone the truth about what actually happened to her.

This leads into my favorite part of the song. Everyone gets a line that builds up to the final chorus.

walk through the fire

Buffy kicks down the door to the Bronze, where she confronts Sweet. She makes an offer: “I can’t kill you, you take me to Hellsville in her place.” Sweet tells her to sing and Buffy starts her 11 o’clock number “Something to Sing About.”


This song is another favorite of mine because Buffy is singing about how much she wants to live, but she has nothing to live for. In the midst of this song, Buffy finally reveals to everyone that she wasn’t in a hell dimension like she thought, but in Heaven. (Being Catholic, I of course refuse to believe that Buffy was in Heaven because Heaven is a one-way trip. The show didn’t exactly handle Buffy’s resurrection all that well, but since the show’s canon implies that Buffy was in Heaven, let’s just go with it for now.)


Buffy starts dancing frantically in the hopes of burning up, only for Spike to save her from spontaneous combustion. He tells her that she just needs to keep on living, in spite of how hard life is. Dawn tells her sister “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it” and the number comes to an end.


Sweet decides to take Dawn and leave because she summoned him, pointing out that she’s wearing his talisman. Xander reveals that he actually summoned Sweet and the demon decides to leave because he doesn’t swing that way. Now personally, I think that Dawn actually summoned Sweet and that Xander decided to cover for her, but that’s just my headcanon. Sweet leaves with one last parting shot and then everyone goes into the closing number “Where Do We Go From Here?”


This song is a bittersweet one because they saved the day but the problems they have are still lingering in the air. In the midst of the song, Spike and Buffy leave as the rest of the Scoobies sing of how “the curtains close on a kiss not known…”


Spike and Buffy meet outside of the Bronze. Spike makes a shout out to the Music Man and Buffy starts singing. The two of them go into their final duet in which Buffy pleads about how she wants to feel and Spike wants Buffy to make him feel, leading into the kiss that closes out the episode, curtain closing on them and all. (If I had it my way, Buffy would’ve sang “This can’t be real, I don’t know how I feel,” but I digress.)


What can I say about this episode that hasn’t already been said? You can tell that the cast and crew worked really hard on this episode and in the wrong hands, it could’ve been disastrous. According to what James Marsters said, Joss Whedon has many talents, but he can’t play the piano so the cast was majorly scared of creating this episode. Miraculously, though, the music and choreography and cinematography all came together beautifully. It’s a great episode to sing along to, but not one I can show to casual fans.

I tried watching this episode back in my college days after becoming a fan of Joss through Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. But when I watched this episode for the first time, I didn’t know anything about any of the characters and I honestly wasn’t ready to get emotionally invested in them. Yet. In spite of that, Buffy lingered under my radar. I knew of the show and the characters, but I never dived into the Buffyverse until I felt like I needed it.

My friend Charles shared something on his Facebook that I feel relates to this episode and Season 6 as a whole:

Life is anything but certain and there are a few things that are. God often times reveal our true purposes in life along the way, only giving us hints here and there, but never really revealing the whole thing to us all at once. There is an important reason for this, for it is not through intellectual intuition that one can learn the answers to life’s greatest mysteries…but it is through experience.

Sometimes, God hides the answers to our greatest questions, because in His Infinite Wisdom, He knows we will not recognize the answers even if it were presented to us at face-value. It is only through experience, by living-out our daily lives, that we learn the “hidden clues” that bring us to the answers that we seek. This is the true nature of wisdom, learning something new from something old – of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. You do not need to know all the answers, just have faith that one day you will, and more importantly, that you will finally recognize them when they appear.

Season 6 of Buffy is an emotional rollercoaster. “Once More With Feeling” and “Tabula Rasa” were the calm before the storm. Buffy wasn’t going to get any answers to why she got ripped out of Heaven from Sweet or any Powers that Be. Her reasons to live were right in front of her but she didn’t recognize it because she was lost in her depression. It took her a whole season for Buffy to finally regain the will to live and Spike, being her mirror image, also seeks reason to live which culminates in him regaining his soul.

This episode encompasses Season 6 in a nutshell. The Big Bad wasn’t some demon who wanted to take over the world, but just life itself. And the answer to facing life? Just keep on living.

The Gift: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #2


It’s not easy for me to pick which episode of Buffy will go in the #2 spot. I reserve my #1 spot for the episode I can watch multiple times and still love no matter what. The #2 spot goes to my favorite season finale. Joss Whedon is amazing at making finales and all the finales to Buffy were great. “Prophecy Girl” was the big finish to a less-than-stellar first season. “Becoming Part 2” is #3 on my list for being the first episode that got me crying over the show. The “Graduation” 2-parter in Season 3 is the most solid season finale. “Restless” is the best absurd theater ever. “Grave” was just a big sigh of relief after the roller-coaster that was Season 6 and still left me crying in the end. And “Chosen” was a contender for this spot because of one majorly awesome moment that changed my life forever.

But the reason I picked “The Gift” over the other finales is because in spite of how it ends, I felt like everyone was at their best in this particular episode. Everyone felt in-character and I actually believed in a good future for everyone if one thing didn’t happen. But  that’s stuff I’ll save for fanfiction.

MAJOR SPOILERS ENSUE! IF YOU HAVE NOT FINISHED SEASON 5, STOP RIGHT NOW! Also, Buffy fans, you’re gonna need tissues for this one.


The episode starts out with a breathtaking 38-second recap of literally everything that has happened in the last five seasons before cutting to a shot of someone running down an alleyway. Joss Whedon said that the idea for Buffy was inspired by the thought of “what if the blonde girl who always ran away from the monsters only to get killed actually kicked the monster’s ass instead?” This opening scene shows a young boy running down an alleyway from a vampire, turning the tables on that classic horror movie trope. Then Buffy comes in with a nice opening snark and proceeds to kick the vampire’s ass and stakes him without too much of a struggle. Buffy’s actually surprised that the vampire didn’t recognize her as the Slayer and starts leaving. The boy is surprised that she was able to beat that vampire, saying “You’re just a girl.”


“That’s what I keep saying.”

I should tell you right now that the Season 5 opening credits in this episode are my favorite. The only thing missing was a credit for Amber Benson. And no, her opening credit in a particular Season 6 episode does not count!


Buffy returns to the Magic Box.  Everyone is figuring out how to stop Glory from using Dawn, Buffy’s little sister,  a ritual that would literally unleash Hell on earth. Dawn has the power to open up the portal to Glory’s hell dimension and her blood is what opens the portal. It would take Dawn’s death to close the opening and stop Glory’s hell dimension from bleeding over into Buffy’s world.  Xander asks why the ritual has to involve blood. Spike, ever the street-smart one, says that it’s always blood because blood is life.


Buffy does not want to deal with the concept of killing her sister to save the world, even if Dawn isn’t actually her sister. Buffy points out that Dawn is a part of her because the monks created Dawn out of her. Giles reminds Buffy that if the ritual is complete, Glory’s hell dimension will bleed into Buffy’s world and that everyone will die. But Buffy, in spite of the fact that she loves everyone, loves Dawn so much that she doesn’t want to kill her.


Anya decides that they need to stop Glory before the ritual and Spike asks Buffy “When you say you love us all-” only for Giles and Xander to tell him to shut up. It’s a relieving moment in a majorly serious episode.


Xander contemplates killing Ben, but since Ben and Glory share a body, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll come around. In my honest opinion, Ben was never actually human. He was just a “host body” for Glory in the same way Professor Quirrel was the host body for Voldemort. The Scoobies decide that since the ritual needs to take place at a certain allotted time, Buffy can stall for time. Anya remembers the Dagon Sphere to make Glory weak and points out that they have a troll hammer that Buffy thankfully can wield. (In my honest opinion, I wish that the hammer was Mjolinir but that’s just the Avengers fangirl in me.) When they start wondering about how to find Glory, Tara, whose mind has been damaged from Glory stealing her memories, starts crying out about the “big day.”


Over in the bad guy’s hideout, Ben gives Dawn a dress for the ritual. Dawn snarks at him and asks for Glory to come around. And since we’re talking about the Big Bad of Season 5, allow me to use this scene to gush about how awesome Clare Kramer is as an actress for making Glory my favorite Big Bad. Glory knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t care about unleashing Hell in order to get it. She’s hilarious and a total knockout when it comes to looks. She’s basically like a Bond villain only with super strength. You’d be surprised to find out that in real life, Clare Kramer is the nicest lady there is. I actually got to meet her in Comicpalooza and told her about how much I loved the show.

comicpalooza panel


The next scene in this episode finds Buffy taking her frustrations out on a punching bag. She punches the bag off the chain in a scene that Joss will later use for Captain America in Avengers when Giles tells her that stopping Glory is a matter of waiting for the right moment to strike. Giles says that sometimes saving the world comes at the cost of doing something bad, but Buffy refuses to consider it. The two of them sit down on a couch and think things over.


Then Buffy breaks out into a heartbreaking monologue about how the burden of saving the world is taking its toll on her. She doesn’t want to save the world if it means losing everything that she loves. She laments about how the First Slayer, a spirit guide seen in a previous episode, told her that death was her gift and says that if Dawn dies, she won’t be the Slayer anymore.


Dawn changes into the dress that Glory picked out for the ritual and gets taken by Glory’s minions to a tall tower overlooking a construction site.


Back in the Magic Box, Xander and Anya are down in the basement, dressing up after having sex with each other. Xander finds the Buffybot while Anya looks around the basement for the Dagon Sphere. She finds a stuffed bunny instead and freaks out, since she has major bunny phobia. Xander comforts Anya, who tells him that before, she would run away whenever an apocalypse was coming around but since she’s a human and not a vengeance demon, she actually cares for Xander and wants to help save the world. This prompts Xander to propose to her. Anya rightfully thinks that he’s proposing just because the world is gonna end and Xander won’t go through with it. Xander insists that he’s proposing because he believes that the world won’t end and he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. Anya accepts on the condition that she gets the ring “if the world doesn’t end.” It’s at this point that I cry out “We could’ve had it all!” from Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Screw you Season 6!


Buffy goes to Willow and asks her if she is ready to help. Willow is the only one, at this point, that was able to hurt Glory with the power of her magic. Willow is more focused on helping Tara and thinks that if she can reverse what Glory did and get Tara’s memories back, it could weaken Glory. Willow is at her best in Season 5, in my honest opinion. She uses her magic to help others instead of using it as a quick fix to solve her problems. I have to give Amber Benson major cred for her performance in this episode because it’s not easy to act insane.


Buffy takes Spike to her house. It should be noted, by the way, that at this point, Buffy has disinvited Spike from her house. So when she tells Spike to come in, it’s a majorly important thing. Buffy tells Spike to protect Dawn and Spike promises “til the end of the world.”


Buffy goes up the stairs, but stops when Spike tells her that he understands that Buffy will never love him. (He’ll be proven wrong about that later.) He understands that he’s a monster, but Buffy treats him like a man. Which is surprisingly true. It’s one of the best Spuffy moments in the whole series. And yes, I am screaming at Buffy to kiss him at this point.


As Dawn gets tied up at the top of the tower, the Scoobies assemble at the Magic Box. Willow tells Tara to lead the way. Buffy tells everyone that the mission is to stop the ritual from happening or else she’ll kill anyone who gets near Dawn. Giles and Spike leave quoting the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V, only Spike says “we band of buggered” instead of “band of brothers.”


Tara leads the Scoobies to the construction site and there’s a small funny moment when Willow says she needs courage and Spike offers his flask. It’s at this point that I realize that Spike has officially become part of the team, however reluctant an ally he is. It totally sucks at how everyone’s gonna treat him in the next season.



When Glory finds Tara wandering onto the site, Willow comes in and performs the spell that helps Tara regain her memories. Glory starts feeling weak and needs a brain to eat. She finds Buffy standing and snarking at her.


Buffy throws the Dagon Sphere at Glory, who crushes it in her hands. Buffy proceeds to kick Glory’s ass even as her minions pun about this being their day of glory  and the other Scoobies proceed to fight off the minions. Willow goes to check on Tara and the two of them have a beautiful exchange.


I will always find you.

Who knew those words would be later used between Snow White and Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time? 


Glory starts to get the upper hand and kicks Buffy’s head off. It’s at this point that we realize that the Buffy that Glory was fighting was actually the Buffybot. Then the real Buffy appears and hammers Glory Super Smash Bros style. (Incidentally, Clare Kramer has said that ” Did everybody else know the Slayer was a robot?” is her favorite line.)


Dawn starts screaming for Buffy, so Buffy goes up the tower, with Glory following after her. I seriously love the fight scene in the tower because it’s different from all the other major fights in the series. It’s a a close-quarters brawl that really takes advantage of the tower setting, much like Hawkeye and Black Widow’s fight in Avengers. Unfortunately, Buffy and Glory get knocked off of the tower and Buffy loses her hammer.

"And the glorified bricklayer picks up a spare." He came in like a wrecking ball.

“And the glorified bricklayer picks up a spare.”
He came in like a wrecking ball.

Thankfully, Xander comes in with a wrecking ball that pummels Glory down.


The Scoobies are cornered by Glory’s minions. Up on the tower, Dawn sees Doc, who once helped her acquire a magic spell in a previous episode. It turns out, however, that he’s one of Glory’s minions. Spike notices that someone is up there with Dawn. Willow communicates with Spike telepathically to go to Dawn and uses her magic to push Glory’s minions aside psychically. Spike confronts the Doc and the battle is unfortunately one-sided in the Doc’s favor. This is a usage of a trope called “The Worf Effect” in which a character who would usually have the upper hand in a situation is suddenly made weak for the sake of drama. Doc takes note that Spike doesn’t even have a soul and asks why the bleach blonde vampire even cares. To which Spike replies:


“I made a promise to a lady.”

How can you say that Spike can’t love without a soul when you have something like that?! Seriously, it just proves my theory that the “soul” is just a lack of conscience and vampires are really just humans with majorly corrupted souls. Spike is selflessly putting himself out there to protect Dawn and all out of love for Dawn as well as for Buffy. Unfortunately, the Worf Effect gives Doc the upper hand and pushes Spike off the tower.


Buffy hammers Glory so much that she reverts back to Ben. Buffy tells Ben to get out of town or else. Then Giles comes in.


Take a note that Giles isn’t wearing his glasses. The show points out in an episode that Giles has a habit of taking off his glasses when he doesn’t want to actually acknowledge the reality in front of him. However, he chooses to put on his glasses as he smothers Ben and kills him.


As the Doc cuts Dawn open, Buffy pushes Doc off the tower and Dawn starts bleeding, causing the portal to open. Dear God, I wish this didn’t happen. Glory is dead. Dawn’s blood shouldn’t have caused the portal to open. But it did anyway. Everyone braces for the end of the world.


Dawn prepares to jump off the tower, but Buffy stops her. Dawn knows that she dies if she makes that jump, but the portal will only close with her blood. It’s at this moment that Buffy realizes that her blood and Dawn’s are the same and remembers what the First Slayer told her.


As the sun rises, Buffy realizes what she needs to do. She turns to Dawn and tells her something we don’t get to hear until the end of the episode. She gives Dawn a loving kiss and runs to make a swan dive off the tower.



Buffy’s death is shown as a struggle, followed by a sigh of relief as the magic of the portal kills her.


Everyone gathers around Buffy’s dead body. We see Buffy with a look of peace on her face. Spike cries genuine tears over her death as do the rest of the Scoobies and everyone watching this episode.


The last shot of the episode is of Buffy’s tombstone.


Throughout this final scene, we hear Buffy’s last words to Dawn:


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 okay. 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.

Now this is where I dive into my own personal speculations with the show.

I never thought that death was Buffy’s gift. It’s the gift of every other Slayer, yes, but the show has gone out of its way to show that Buffy lived longer than every other Slayer because she had friends, family, and a semblance of a normal life. She had things to live for and her will to live outweighed the usual Slayer death wish.


If you asked me what I thought Buffy’s real gift was, it’s love. It’s Buffy’s love that drives her to protect the world from evil. Buffy’s motivations throughout every single season were based on some kind of love, even if she was unaware of it. It was Buffy’s desire to live and accepting her role as the Slayer that gave her the upper hand in “Prophecy Girl.” Buffy loved Angel enough to let him go in the Season 2 finale, even though it crushed her. It was Buffy’s love for Angel that motivated her into fighting Faith. Once Angel’s life was saved, Buffy’s love for the world pushed her into taking down the Mayor in Graduation, Part Two. It was the combined love of the Scoobies that helped Buffy take down the Initiative in Season 4. Even though Buffy didn’t take down the Season 6 Big Bad, Xander’s love was a major factor in helping to save the world and Spike loved Buffy so much that he sought out his soul for her. In the Season 7 finale, it was Buffy’s love for the potentials that gave her the idea to share her powers with every girl in the world.

Buffy can’t ever be a normal girl but she can’t be a killing machine, either. It’s when Buffy embraces being a Slayer and being a normal girl that she is at her best. It’s Buffy’s love for Dawn that drives her to sacrifice herself, even if it has majorly bad consequences in the next season.

So yeah. As much as I’d love to fanfic the heck out of this episode and make it so that Buffy doesn’t have to die in the end, I still love “The Gift.” It shows everybody at their best and, in spite of Buffy’s death, still left me feeling hopeful.

Because Buffy was right. Life is hard. Just living day to day can be the hardest thing to do because we live in a broken world. And yet, through grace, we are given the gift to find the beauty within this broken world. Through grace, we are given the courage to try and make the world a better place.

Joshua 1:9 says “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed.”

Be brave. Live.

Screenshots are copyright to Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox and are used for editorial purposes only.

Becoming, Part 2: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #3


I just think…that when it’s all over, it just comes back in flashes, you know? It’s like a kaleidoscope of memories. It just all comes back. But Becoming Part Two? It was the first time that Buffy ripped my heart out and crushed it in front of me. I think part of me know the second I watched this show that this would happen. It’s not really anything the characters said or anything they did. It was the feeling that came along with it. And the crazy thing is, I don’t know if I’m ever gonna feel that way again with any other show. But I don’t know if I should. I knew this show was going to break my heart into a million pieces and leave me begging for more, but I just thought “How can Joss Whedon break my heart when my heart has been broken in real life already?” Maybe he knew that when he started writing and directing this. All I knew was that I was never the same after this episode. I think that the worst part of watching this episode wasn’t Buffy losing Angel. It was when Buffy lost herself.

MAJOR SPOILERS ENSUE! Don’t read if you haven’t watched Buffy at all. Also: Bangel shippers, leave while you can. I’m not gonna be nice to Angel in this post.


Becoming Part 2 picks up where the previous one left off, with the police catching Buffy next to her friend Kendra’s dead body. The police assume, from Principal Snyder’s testimony, that Buffy killed Kendra and proceed to arrest her. Thankfully, Buffy makes her escape, but now she’s become a fugitive.


She appears in the hospital dressed like a conspicuous hobo and finds Xander. Willow is lying in a coma after Drusilla and her minions attacked the Scoobies and killed Kendra in the previous episode. Cordelia comes in and her genuine compassion is one of the few glimpses we get to the “real Cordelia” that will appear in the Buffy spinoff Angel.


Speaking of the brooding blockhead, the next scene shows Angelus continuing to torture Giles for information as to how to open the statue of Acathla, an apocalypse demon.



Although the show and the spinoff Angel has gone to great lengths to establish Angel and Angelus as separate entities, I never bought that for a second. (Neither did other fans.) The “soul” in Buffy is supposed to be a moral conscience, since vampires represent the unwillingness to change and become an adult. However, in the previous episode, we see that Liam, the human that Angel was before he became a vampire, is a careless womanizing slacker. When he gets sired by Darla, the nature of the vampire emphasized Liam’s lack of empathy for his family and turned Liam into a sociopathic serial killer.



When Angelus gets cursed by the gypsies, he spends centuries wallowing in guilt and doesn’t make a lot of effort into saving anyone until some guy named Whistler comes along and shows him the Slayer who happens to be a very attractive young blonde Buffy, a popular girl at Hemery High School, sitting on the steps sucking on a lollipop.



And what makes Angel lose his soul again? Sleeping with Buffy when she’s a 17-year-old virgin. Over a century of having a moral conscience and it’s having sex that makes him lose his soul. If you’re starting to hear alarms in your head that blare out: LOLITA COMPLEX! LOLITA COMPLEX! CREEPY STALKER IS CREEPY! Then congratulations, you just learned one of the many reasons I don’t ship Bangel!

Back to the episode.

Over in Buffy’s house, Joyce gets informed by the cops about how Buffy is wanted for murder. Buffy goes over to Giles’s apartment only to find a stranger there instead.


Meet Whistler, Angel’s former “wingman” so to speak. It’s never exactly established who or what Whistler is. He says he’s an agent of the “Powers that Be,” a pantheon of “higher beings” that play a larger role in Angel than they do in Buffy. Whistler asks Buffy what she’s prepared to lose and warns her that “In the end, you’re always by yourself. You’re all you got — That’s the point.” Buffy rightfully storms out, frustrated, only to run into a police officer out on the streets. The cop starts approaching Buffy, but gets knocked out by a very familiar face.




So I bet y’all are wondering why the heck Spike is talking to Buffy when, at this point, they’re mortal enemies. Spike wants to help Buffy take down Angel and tells her that Angel has Giles hostage as proof. When Buffy asks her why Spike wants to save the world, Spike launches into a monologue that established the kind of villain he is. Most of the time, vampires talk about destroying the world, but it’s just a lot of hot air. Angelus, however, is the kind of vampire that actually wants to destroy the world without realizing that it would come at the cost of destroying a vampire’s only food source: humans. Spike also likes the world that we live in and on top of all that, he wants Dru to stop cheating on him with Angel, to which Buffy replies:


The whole earth may be sucked into Hell, and you want my help ’cause your girlfriend’s a big ho? Well, let me take this opportunity to *not* care.

It’s kind of funny that Buffy is unsympathetic to Dru sleeping with Angel because, Angel essentially dumped Buffy for Dru after losing his soul. You’d think that Buffy would empathize with losing your ex to someone else. But again, Buffy is still under the belief that vampires are incapable of love. Oh well. That’s stuff I’ll save for when I’m writing fanfiction.


Buffy and Spike make their reluctant alliance. Spike looks to the unconscious cop with the intent on killing him, but Buffy stops him. Oh Spike. Buffy already has you whipped and you’re not even in love with her yet.


In the hospital, Cordelia leaves to get coffee while Xander makes a heartfelt plea to Willow, saying that he loves her. I really hate that they never actually played around with the Xander/Willow relationship and only used it as a pseudo-romantic conflict in Season 3. Either give these two a “just friends” level of closure or actually have them hook up and break up later. It’s not that hard.


Willow starts waking up, thinking that the “I love you” she heard came from Oz. Thankfully, Oz comes in the room. Xander leaves as Willow and Oz have an adorable moment together. I seriously loved the Willow/Oz ship in all its adorableness. But you can never make me choose whether I love Oz or Tara more with Willow. Both relationships are important to Willow’s character arc.


While Angelus continues to torture Giles, Spike and Buffy make their way over to Buffy’s house. Joyce asks Buffy who Spike is and the two of them lie about being in a band together. As they head towards the front door, a vampire attacks. It’s just awesome to see how easily Buffy and Spike work together when taking out the vamp and I’m so glad that Buffy ends up finally letting the secret of her Slaying life out to her mother. When I first watched this episode, I seriously liked the way that Spike and Buffy fought together and wanted more. What was this feeling, so sudden and new? (From a distance you can hear the sound of Spuffy fans saying “I ship it.”)


Inside Buffy’s house, Buffy talks to Willow and Xander on the phone while Joyce and Spike make awkward (yet hilarious) conversation in Buffy’s living room. After the phone call ends, Buffy and Spike work out their deal in the living room while Joyce is still trying to process the fact that Buffy is a Slayer.


Spike heads back to Angelus’s mansion while Joyce and Buffy argue over Buffy being a Slayer. Joyce is having a hard time accepting it and I’ll admit, it’s really bad timing for Joyce to find out that vampires exist and that Buffy is not a delinquent but a superhero, but the role of the Slayer is a metaphor for adulthood. Some parents out there do refuse to accept the reality that their children are growing up or only want their children to grow up on their terms. It makes Buffy’s monologue about how she wishes she could just be a normal teenage girl all the more heartbreaking.

Do-do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea 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.

Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea 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.

Joyce thinks that Buffy is going crazy, but Buffy assures Joyce that everything is fine and starts to leave. Then Joyce gives Buffy an ultimatum: “You walk out of this house, don’t even think about coming back!” Joyce obviously didn’t mean it. Most parents don’t actually kick their kids out of the house when their kid decides on growing up, but Buffy takes it seriously and leaves.


It really, really sucks that Joyce lacks empathy for what Buffy is going through because I honestly feel that it’s out of Joyce’s character, or at least the way I perceive Joyce’s character. But this show goes out of its way to establish that the life of a Slayer is supposed to be a lonely one. And yeah, growing up sucks. But in spite of what the show says, we never have to deal with growing up alone. And Buffy isn’t alone.



In the hospital, Willow decides that in spite of the fact that she got knocked out, she wants to try the ensouling curse on Angelus that she attempted in the previous episode. It’s established that the curse is powerful magic and Willow is not at 100%, but regardless Willow is resolved to do it because they could stop Angel from awakening Acathla. Oz and Cordy go to the library to get materials and Willow asks Xander to tell Buffy about what’s going on.


Over in Angelus’s mansion, Giles does his best to keep calm even as Angelus continues to torture him. Spike comes in, keeping up the appearance that he’s still in a wheelchair from getting crushed by an organ several episodes ago, and asks Drusilla to try and get into Giles’s head.


Buffy returns to the library to grab the sword that Kendra gave to her. Snyder comes in and expels Buffy from school. Buffy leaves with a snark and Snyder makes a call to future Big Bad Mayor Wilkins.


Back in Angelus’s mansion, Dru uses her psychic powers to get inside Giles’s head and hypnotizes Giles into seeing her as his deceased lover, Jenny Calendar. Giles gets caught up in the enthrallment and reveals that Angel’s blood is the key to unlocking Acathla. Of course, Drusilla gets caught up in the moment as well and it’s not until she breaks character that her spell over Giles gets broken and Giles realizes that he’s been tricked.


Buffy goes back to Giles’s apartment and asks Whistler about how to stop Angelus. Whistler tells her that Angelus’s blood doesn’t just open Acathla’s portal into hell, but also closes it. Buffy will need to kill Angel in order to either prevent Acathla from literally unleashing hell on earth or send Angel to hell and close up the portal to Acathla’s hell dimension. Buffy is resolved to do whatever it takes, thinking that she’s got nothing left to lose.

As she leaves, Whistler says:

Wrong, kid. You got one thing.

Wrong, kid. You got one more thing.

Buffy heads off to Angelus’s mansion and runs into Xander, who’s there to back her up. She tells Xander to get Giles out and get to safety. Then Xander tells Buffy about what Willow told him to say only to backtrack. When Buffy asks Xander about what Willow says, Xander lies and says:


“Kick his ass.”

Now this scene is the first of many “base breakers.” The fandom is still divided over this scene even though it’s been almost a decade after the episode aired. Some people think that Xander lying to Buffy was justified. On the other hand, Ian AKA Passion of the Nerd points out that “Buffy trusts Xander and always expects the truth from him, especially given information that might affect her tactics in battle and Xander decides that he knows better than either of them. Nobody knew how the battle would play out and Xander’s decision actually limited Buffy’s options. Whatever his motivations for that decision, that is very simply wrong. He cannot elect himself commander.”

What do I think? All I can say about it is: NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! Xander should not have lied to Buffy because this lie will have major consequences into the ending of this episode and will come again into play in Season 7. And it majorly sucks that Xander was never called out on that lie at all in this series.

Moving on.


Angeuls’s ritual with Acathla is interspersed with scenes of Willow, Cordelia and Oz preparing the ritual of the ensouling curse. Buffy makes her entrance and starts fighting Angelus. Spike gets a couple blows at Angelus as well and then proceeds to fight Drusilla. Xander rescues Giles and the two make their way out after a comically relieved exchange. Angelus gets the sword out of Acathla and Dru is enjoying the chaos that will ensue only for Spike to knock her out by smothering her.



Angelus and Buffy have an epic swordfight as Willow continues the ensouling ritual. The swordfight leads out to a courtyard where Angelus corners Buffy. Spike has Dru over his shoulder, sees Angelus cornering Buffy, thinks Angelus is gonna kill her, and decides to leave. If I had it my way, Spike would’ve at least tried to stop Angelus for the sake of wanting to be the one to kill Buffy, but that’s something I’ll save for a fanfiction.


Angelus points his sword close to Buffy’s neck, flashing a Bond villain smile at her. “Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons… No friends… No hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?”



She shoves the sword back at Angelus’s face, gets up on her feet, and kicks him in the chest in a moment that makes you go: “YES! KICK HIS ASS!”


The sword fight continues as Spike leaves Sunnydale with Dru and Willow finds herself overcome with the power of the ritual, speaking in tongues as she channels the gypsies who created the curse.


Buffy finally corners Angelus at Acathala’s statue and just as she’s about to take a swing to kill him…




Buffy is shocked to see Angel re-ensouled. The two of them comfort each other and Buffy hugs Angel. However, as Doctor Who has established, “Never trust a hug. It’s just a way to hide your face.” In the hug, Buffy sees Acathla’s mouth open. Angel asks Buffy what’s going on as tears are streaming down her face. She tells Angel to close his eyes and the most tear-jerking music plays as Buffy and Angel share one last kiss before Buffy skewers Angel with a sword and sends him to hell.


As the portal to hell closes and Angel gets sucked into Acathla’s hell dimension, Buffy breaks down in tears as another tear-jerking song plays. Buffy packs up, leaves a note to her mom, and gives one last look at her friends and high school before going off on a bus out of Sunnydale.


It is in this moment that I felt like Joss Whedon ripped my heart out of my chest and crushed it in front of me. It took a whole month for me to get the nerve to get back to Buffy and watch Season 3. Partially because November was around the corner by the time I finished Season 2 and I needed to set aside that month for National Novel Writing Month and partially because I didn’t know how much more I could handle.

There’s a certain song that comes to mind when I think of this episode and the show in general. I’m just gonna leave you with this song and let you wallow in feels again:


Fool For Love: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #4



I. Love. This. Episode. It’s my favorite episode of Season 5 (my fave season) even though it doesn’t involve the Big Bad, because it shows Spike’s backstory, establishes a majorly important theme, and captures the nature of Spike and Buffy’s relationship. If you ever wonder why the heck I ship Spuffy, this is one of the episodes I would show you.




The episode starts out with  Buffy fighting a really badly dressed 80s vampire. Buffy does her usual snarking but right before she gets to staking, the vampire ends up staking her in the gut instead. Buffy punches the vampire in the face and removes the stake from her gut as she runs. 80s vamp catches up to her and you’d think Buffy is on the ropes, but Riley ends up saving her.




Again, apologies to Marc Blucas, but you can pretty much replace this scene with any other character and it would’ve been the exact same thing. Buffy isn’t usually the damsel in distress but given that she had to deal with a major stab wound, you can allow Buffy to be vulnerable for a bit. I am gonna do my best to be nice to Riley, but I’m not gonna make any promises.



Riley patches up Buffy back in her bedroom. Riley asks Buffy if there’s something special about the vampire who got her, but Buffy says it was just a regular vampire. Dawn and Joyce come in and Dawn covers up for Buffy. Buffy shows the wound to her sister and makes her promise not to tell. Riley decides to take over for patrol. Buffy accepts under the condition that he takes the rest of the Scoobies with him.




I won’t go into detail on the scenes with Riley’s patrol because honestly, this is not what the episode is about. The scenes where Riley goes after the 80s vamp and his friends establishes how Riley’s “demon hunting” style is different from Buffy’s. Riley was trained in the military, so he uses guerrilla tactics and some major overkill. Buffy  in contrast, has a more improvised style. Yes, she does research but she usually thinks on her feet.




Said “thinking on the go” applies to the next two scenes. After pouring over tons of Watcher Diaries with Giles, Buffy laments that the Slayers’ final battles were never recorded. Giles says it’s because the Watchers found themselves unable to detach from the pain of losing a slayer. Pop quiz: Who in this show has killed two Slayers and lived to tell the tale?




Right on cue.


Buffy and Spike go out to the Bronze to talk about the two Slayers that Spike killed in exchange for cash. He tells Buffy that it’s not about the moves and demands that she order a plate of buffalo wings. I know Spike is coming off as a jerk in this scene, but, well, Buffy is acting equally jerkish to him. And as sad as it is to say, Buffy is not gonna get any easy answers from Spike. Spike brags to Buffy that he was always bad. We’re about to find out, however, that Spike is lying.


The flashback shows a very adorable William Pratt working on a poem. He sees a beautiful woman named Cecily walk into your typical Victorian England party and goes to talk to her. He finds her with some of his “friends,” ask him about some strange disappearances happening in London. He tells them that he prefers to think of things of beauty, referring to his poem. The upper crust frenemy reads the poem out loud and, well, it’s bad: “My heart expands, ’tis grown a bulge in it, inspired by your beauty, effulgent.”




It might just be my long experience with my own bad writing, but it wasn’t actually bad. Regardless, everyone starts laughing at William’s couplet, so he takes his poem and follows Cecily to a sitting room. Before he leaves, though, we find out that William was called “William the Bloody” because of his bloody awful poetry and not because he was already some kind of pugilist or serial killer. The upper crust bully who read the poem says that he’d rather have a railroad spike through his head than listen to that awful stuff. He’s gonna regret those words.




William goes to Cecily inside a sitting room. Cecily asks if the poems are about her and is aghast to find out that they are. William professes his love to her only to get shot down. She says “You’re nothing to me, William. You’re beneath me.”




William leaves the party sobbing, tearing up his poem as he walks. He crashes into a trio of very well-dressed aristocrats. (Spoilers: The aristocrats are Drusilla, Angelus, and Darla.) He ends up inside of a barn where Drusilla ends up finding him. William mistakes Drusilla for a pickpocket, but that’s not what she has in mind. William is intrigued by her, but, well, Drusilla has a way with getting what she wants. And, well, you know what happens after she starts biting his neck.




Spike explains the allure of becoming a vampire over a game of pool. My personal theory about vampires in the Buffyverse (and in general) is that vampires are human souls corrupted to varying degrees by the demon that takes over their bodies. And not all vampires are the same.




This is clearly shown when Spike joins Angelus, Darla, and Drusilla. Angelus and Darla aren’t exactly keen on Spike because “William the Bloody” (which has now taken on a more sinister tone) likes starting riots for the sake of, well, having a riot. Angelus, for those who don’t know, is a lot like a stylized serial killer. He likes playing mind games and putting a lot of thought and effort into the way that he kills people. Spike, on the other hand, is a rough-and-tumble kind of vampire. And yeah, David Boreaneaz’s Irish accent sucks. (Apologies to the David Boreaneaz fangirls.)  The two vampires start fighting and when Angelus starts realizing that Spike has a point on the appeal of the rough-and-tumble fighting style, he tells Spike that he’ll probably end up killed by an angry mob or the Slayer. Now usually, vampires go running from the Slayer. Spike is a unique vampire because he actively seeks out Slayers. The first lesson that Spike tells Buffy is that she always needs her weapon at the ready. He then starts telling the story of his battle with the Chinese Slayer.




Way back in the days of the Boxer Rebellion in China, Spike fought a Slayer named Xin Rong whose swordfighting skills gave Spike the scar on his eyebrow. The fight scene is amazing, like something out of, well, a really good action movie. But ultimately, Spike gets the upper hand and kills her. Drusilla comes in very turned on by the fact that Spike killed a Slayer. Spike tells Dru that the blood of the Slayer is a powerful aphrodisiac and shares the blood with her. Then, well, you can guess what happened after that. Even if they are vampires, they are also very much in love.




The two of them meet with Darla and Angelus out in a town square and Drusilla announces Spike’s latest victory. You might notice that Angelus is a bit odd in this scene. Let’s just say he’s not himself right now.





The shot of the Whirlwind doing a slow walk through the town is nothing short of epic, especially for fans who’ve wanted to see Darla, Angelus, Drusilla, and Spike all together. And Spike says that the night he killed the Chinese Slayer for the first time was the best night of his life. Buffy is disgusted that Spike and Dru got off on the kill, only for Spike to snark back “And you haven’t?” Incidentally, another Slayer would say something about how slaying gets a girl “hungry and horny” but I digress.




Spike tells Buffy that the one thing all vampires hope for is one good day and that Buffy is starting to think that she’s invincible. Buffy says that she can handle herself. Spike points out the wound in Buffy’s gut and they take things outside.




Buffy starts sparring with Spike and Spike tells Buffy Lesson Number Two: Ask the right questions. It’s not “Why did he win?” It’s “Why did they lose?”




Cut to the 1970s where a very cliche disco track plays over 1970s Spike’s battle with the New York Slayer, Nikki Wood. The flashback is interspersed with Spike and Buffy’s sparring in the alleyway. Spike explains that Nikki was more cunning and resourceful, similar to Buffy.

spike vs nikki



“I could’ve danced all night with that one.”



“You think we’re dancing?”



“That’s all we’ve ever done.”





Spike points out that the only thing about the dance of the Slayer is that the Slayer dances with death and it never stops. He knows that sooner or later death will catch up to Buffy. Every Slayer eventually has a death wish. What makes Buffy different, the reason she’s lived longer than most Slayers, is that she has ties to the world.




Spike makes one more intimidating glare to Buffy, boasting to her that when she gets that death wish, he’ll be there to grant it.



You can tell by Buffy’s face that Spike really got under her skin this time. And, well, even if Spike wasn’t a potential love interest, I would’ve been okay if Buffy died by Spike’s hands because he is a worthy opponent.





Okay, I am gonna save the feels for later. Calm down.



Buffy shoves Spike away and tells him that he’ll never get to her and says


“You’re beneath me.”

Now, I’m not sure if Buffy knew how much hurt those words had on Spike. The episode never shows how exactly Spike told his origin story to Buffy. But she knew that they would hurt. I don’t blame Buffy for wanting to have the last word because, let’s be honest, Spike scared her. But I end up feeling sorry for Spike at the end of this scene instead of siding with Buffy and usually I am on Buffy’s side.





Spike gets a shotgun at his crypt and plans on killing Buffy once and for all, but Harmony (Spike’s really lame “girlfriend”) points out that he won’t be able to kill Buffy because of the chip in his head that prevents him from really killing people. And she yells that even before Spike got the chip, he was never able to kill Buffy even though he had plenty of chances.




Cut to a flashback with Drusilla, who still sees Buffy in Spike’s life. She’s cheating on him with a demon with antlers because she still sees Spike as covered with the Slayer. This flashback, by the way, takes place in Rio, where Spike and Dru went to after Season 2. The aftermath of this argument would lead to Spike appearing in Season 3’s “Lovers Walk.”




The episode ends in Buffy’s house, where Joyce is packing for an overnight stay at the hospital. Joyce explains that she’s getting a CAT scan for whatever she has in her head. Buffy heads out to the back porch, burdened with the knowledge that something is wrong with her mother and that there’s nothing she can do about it. She starts crying as Spike slowly walks towards her, gun in hand. He starts arming himself when Buffy looks up at him with tear-filled eyes.




Instead of killing her, he asks Buffy “What’s wrong?” She replies that doesn’t want to talk about it, so Spike goes to sit next to her, setting his gun aside to comfort her.




Even though the two of them never exchange words, this final scene captures the nature of the Spike and Buffy relationship. In spite of Buffy not wanting to open up to Spike, Spike will always be there anyway because, unlike all the other vampires in the show, Spike has some levels of empathy.


In several interviews, James Marsters has confessed that in spite of what Joss laid out about vampires being soulless, he always played Spike as having a soul. Spike having at least an echo of a human soul is clear in this episode. As I said before, I always interpreted the nature of the “soul” in vampires to be like souls of humans in a completely fallen state. The nature of the vampire brings out a person’s dark side and the human soul is still part of the vampire, but in a corrupt form. Humans, after all, are capable of horrific deeds in spite of the fact that we are created with souls.


Buffy and Spike’s “relationship” from Seasons 2-7 takes on different natures. I’ll explain more as to how in another post. In Season 5, Spike is in love with Buffy, and yes, in spite of his idiotic actions in later episodes, I do think he’s in love and not just obsessing. He just acted in a very misguided manner because in my honest opinion, vampires don’t exactly lack souls as they do a moral conscience. The only reason he acts so rude to Buffy is because she’s acting rude to him. And yes, there is still a part of Spike that wants to kill her. But Spike fights against that nature more and more as the series progresses.



I know I’m probably sounding like a blind fangirl here. I understand that some people see Spike as an evil being whose actions in Seasons 4-5 are like a criminal in a straitjacket, being forced to do good against his will. And well, a certain episode in Season 6 doesn’t help things. But when you look at the scene at the end of the episode, you can see that Spike hates seeing Buffy crying. And I think it’s because there’s still a part of William in Spike that empathized with Buffy’s sadness.




It says a lot about James Marsters’s performance that Spike was able to capture the hearts of at least half the fandom. Spike wasn’t supposed to be sympathetic and yet he changes way more than Angel does. And Angel was given his own show. Five whole seasons of Angel and the brooding blockhead is still a brooding blockhead. By Season 5 of Buffy, Spike became complex and layered. It’s really no wonder why I have a Texas-sized crush on him.




So if you’re a Spike fan like me, check out this episode. It’s actually a good standalone compared to the rest of Season 5. It shows the stakes that Buffy has to deal with and, as I said before, shows the complicated nature of the Spike/Buffy relationship.

Screencaps are copyright to 20th Century Fox and Mutant Enemy and are used for editorial purposes only.


The Body: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #5

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THIS SHOW ENSUE! Also, if you’re a long-time fan of the show, there will be feels. Get tissues.


“The Body” is the episode that I wish could’ve won an Emmy. Unlike most of the episodes here, this one is an out-and-out tear-jerking, dramatic episode. There isn’t any musical score in this episode, but to me, this episode didn’t need it. Music was necessary in “Hush” because it basically narrated throughout the silent parts. But this episode didn’t need music because the acting and story pretty much told you how to react. Lazy movie writers often use musical score as a manipulative way to tell people how to feel about a scene. Heck, even the theme song playing feels jarring compared to the silence of the rest of the episode. So yeah, in spite of what one of my friends said, I don’t mind the lack of musical score in this episode. The sounds of fans crying their eyes out is enough.


The episode opens where the previous episode left off. Buffy returns home to find that her mom received flowers from a guy named Brian. She calls to her mom about picking up Dawn from school and then looks into the living room to find her mother on the couch, lying down, staring at the ceiling. If you’ve ever watched NCIS or any crime-scene procedural, you already know what happened to Joyce. But that doesn’t make the fallen expression from Buffy’s face any easier to take.


After the opening, we see a flashback to Christmas dinner. It’s the last time that this show would make a reference to Christmas, by the way. It’s a happy memory, with Anya telling Dawn about what Santa Claus is really like and Buffy joking about Giles and Joyce staying away from the band candy. When it cuts back to Joyce’s blank expression and Buffy trying to wake her mother up, it’s really upsetting.


Buffy calls 911 and tries to administer CPR to her mom, not accounting for the fact that her Slayer strength made her break one of her mom’s ribs. When Buffy gets off the phone with 911, she makes another call to Giles. The paramedics come in. Buffy explains that Joyce had a brain tumor that was operated on. Joyce starts coughing and regains consciousness and you think everything’s gonna be okay, but it’s just a cut-away daydream. The paramedics tell Buffy that Joyce is dead due to an aneurysm or a complication from the surgery. They plan to call the coroner’s office to take the body. What’s interesting is that the paramedic’s face isn’t shown as Buffy is looking at him and his tone is seriously cold.


Buffy wanders around the house and vomits in a sitting room between her living room and kitchen. She looks outside to her backyard and the camera shows the despondent expression on her face. The only sound we hear is the windchimes until Giles comes in. When he finds Joyce on the floor, he goes to her until Buffy yells: “We’re not supposed to move the body.” There’s complete silence as Joyce’s body is taken out.


Cut to Dawn crying over a boy teasing her. She and her friend complain about a mean girl who’s spreading rumors about Dawn. Dawn heads into art class, where there’s a class on negative space. The camera makes use of negative space throughout the episode. She starts making conversation with the cute boy next to her when Buffy comes in to deliver the bad news. Negative space is used again as Buffy takes Dawn out to the hallway. Instead of the scene being shown in close-up, we watch the scene through the window of the art classroom and the camera pans to show Dawn’s drawing of the statue, which looks like those dead body outlines from CSI.


The next scene shows Willow and Tara in their dorm room. Willow is trying to decide what to wear. Xander and Anya are on their way to pick them up. Willow breaks down in tears, leading Tara to comfort her with the very first on-screen kiss between the two lovers. Now please don’t fire up the comboxes about LGBT issues. Willow and Tara’s relationship is a major part of this series and no matter what my personal feelings are about gay marriage, I loved them as a couple. And I’ll give Joss credit for showing this kiss as a completely natural thing between Willow and Tara and not just a thing for Sweeps Week.


Xander and Anya arrive. Anya has no idea what to do. Willow, Xander, and Tara wonder if Joyce’s death was caused by the Big Bad of season 5, Glory, but that’s not the case. Xander blames the doctors for not taking care of the post-surgery complications. Anya keeps asking questions that make everyone uncomfortable, but she’s at a loss at understanding how she should deal with everything. Her monologue is one of my favorite moments in this episode because in spite of the fact that Anya’s a former vengeance demon, the things she said are very similar to what it feels like to experience loss for the first time.


Xander punches a hole in the wall and the scene ends with a bit of comic relief as Xander, in his usual comic relief fashion, jokes about the hole in the wall. The gang all heads out as we see a police officer putting a parking ticket on Xander’s car.


At the hospital, the doctor tells Buffy the results of the autopsy. Joyce died of a sudden aneurysm. Even if someone was with her, it would’ve been too late to do anything. There’s a quick scene that shows what might’ve been, but it was just another daydream, another empty wish. The doctor gives Buffy and Giles paperwork to fill out and leaves. Xander, Anya, and Willow all try to find words to comfort Buffy, but decide to go off to find Dawn, who went off to the bathroom. Tara, who lost her mother in the past, is the only one who stays with Buffy. Tara tells Buffy about how she lost her mother and says that she can help if necessary. Buffy asks Tara if her mother’s death was sudden. Tara says “It’s always sudden.”


The last scene of the episode focuses on Dawn in the morgue, looking at her mother’s body. A vampire comes to life. Buffy rescues Dawn from the vampire and the two of them look at their mother’s body. My friend Welshy says that this last scene felt completely unnecessary and I can’t help but agree with him. Yes, this show is called Buffy the Vampire Slayer but aside from the fact that I wish Spike was in this episode to see how he handled Joyce’s death, there was no need for a vampire to come into this episode. This entire episode feels the most realistic and the vampire attack in the end just felt out of place.

“The Body” is a seriously wonderful episode in how everything was written. For me, it portrays how everyone tries to cope and deal with actual death. I don’t know how other people deal with the death of a loved one who died of old age or of cancer or some other kind of slow death, but for me, my first loss was sudden. In spite of the deaths and supernatural stuff that happens in Buffy, there were only two deaths in the show that made me cry. This was one of them. I don’t want to talk about the other one. And don’t guess in the comments either or I’ll be seeing red.

This is not an episode I recommend to casual viewers and most Buffy fans still have a lot of feels when they watch this one. But it’s a mark of a good show when the audience is affected so much by the death of a beloved character.

Hush: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #6


Hush is a unique episode in the Buffy lineup. It’s the only episode that was nominated for an Emmy and it feels like a mix of a silent movie and a Doctor Who episode. The episode is written and directed by Joss Whedon and it shows his range as both. Joss Whedon is known for his memorable dialogue and wit, so an episode where the characters are silent for most of the time is seriously different from that.


The episode starts out with Buffy in psychology class. Professor Maggie Walsh is lecturing on communication and language. She calls Buffy down to the front and tells her to lie down on the desk. She calls her TA, Captain Cardboard  Riley Finn to help her with the demonstration. The two of them share a kiss as the sun goes down. Apologies  in advance to Marc Blucas, by the way. Out of all the love interests in this show, Riley is one I particularly dislike. Anyway, the sun goes down and Buffy hears a girl humming from the hallway.


I have to wonder if Steven Moffat ever watched Buffy because this scene feels very much like the creepy scenes in the scarier Doctor Who episodes, with a little girl singing a creepy nursery rhyme about something called “The Gentlemen.” We get a quick glimpse of the Gentlemen only for Buffy to wake up in class.


Turns out that Buffy fell asleep in class and the whole previous scene was just a dream. Willow heads off to Wicca group and watches Buffy and Riley make conversation. Yes, she ships it. I don’t. Buffy and Riley’s conversation is majorly awkward even with Buffy wanting to kiss him and Buffy leaves, miffed that she didn’t get the guts to tell Riley about her feelings.


Buffy calls Giles about the dream that she had, since Slayers like her often have precognitive dreams. Spike, who is staying in Giles’s house, acts like your typical sitcom annoying neighbor, complaining that they’re out of Weetabix. Xander and Anya come around in the middle of having a “where do we stand in this relationship” argument. Anya doesn’t exactly have a filter on her mouth, which leads to the argument being a source of humor for Spike. Giles tells Xander and Anya that he needs Spike to stay with them since he’s having a friend over, much to everyone else’s chagrin.


Willow attends a Wicca group meeting that is about as authentic as, well, a really bad youth group meeting. (No offense to actual youth groups.) Willow wants to study magic, catching the attention of a shy blonde named Tara.



Every other girl in the group, however, is dismissive of Willow’s suggestion. Willow complains to Buffy about how they’re all a” bunch of wannablessedbes.”  They walk back to their dorm, where Willow eggs Buffy to get to the making smoochies with Riley already. Buffy wants to open up about her secret life as the Slayer, but can’t. Riley, of course, has his own secret life as a soldier of the Initiative.


Xander ties Spike up inside his basement and no, in spite of the dialogue there won’t be any bromance between the two of them. Although memories of Nicholas Brendon admitting to having a crush on Spike still makes me giggle, especially with this scene. Spike mocks Anya’s voice to keep annoying Xander while Giles greets his girlfriend Olivia.


Over in a clock tower, a creepy white hand opens a box. All over town, voices escape from people’s bodies, flying inside the little box. The creepy hand closes the box to reveal an equally creepy face that reminds me of the Smilers from Doctor Who.


The next morning, Buffy gets ready and hears someone crying as they walk down the hallway. Willow wakes up and Buffy greets her, only for both of them to realize that they have no voices. Willow thinks she’s gone deaf, but both of them realize that they just don’t have voices. Xander wakes up with no voice and thinks it’s all Spike’s fault. He calls Buffy and Willow, but since neither of them can talk, it’s a major problem. Riley and his friend Forrest head on over to the Initiative and panic when the elevator stops working. They make it down to the base to find Maggie Walsh, who points to the “In Case of Emergency, use stairs” sign. Keep in mind, btw, that this episode takes place before the invention of social media and text messaging. So it’s not like these guys can just Tweet each other.


Buffy and Willow walk around town to find Sunnydale in complete chaos. The liquor store is open but other places are closed. There’s a priest telling his flock to open their Bibles to Revelation 15:1 “Then I saw another portent in heaven, great and amazing: seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is ended.” This verse is relevant because, if you remember the rhyme, the Gentlemen need to take seven somethings. 


Buffy and Willow buy a couple of white boards and head over to Giles’s apartment. In spite of the fact that there’s no dialogue, the key relationships between everyone are clear to see. Buffy checks to see if Giles found anything in his research, but there isn’t anything. Willow writes “Hi Giles” in her sweet adorable little way. Buffy thinks that the Gentlemen may have something to do with everyone being silent. Xander draws everyone’s attention to the news and it turns out that Sunnydale is the only place affected, with the town put under quarantine. Buffy tells Giles to keep researching while she goes on patrol. Maggie Walsh tells her soldiers via text-talk to make sure that the town doesn’t descend into chaos. Buffy finds Riley out on the town and hugs him. Then Riley kisses Buffy as he goes to take care of someone breaking into a store.


It’s at this point that the Gentlemen finally come out in all their Slender Man/Smilers/Silence-type creepiness. They float around town with their minions looking for…well, something. Olivia sees one of the Gentlemen through a window and gasps. Two Gentlemen float down to the dorms of UC Sunnydale and you’d think they’d go after Buffy and Willow or even Tara, but instead they go into the dorm room of a random college student, knocking on his door. Once inside, they literally steal the poor guy’s heart, ripping it straight out of his chest with the help of some surgical tools. Thankfully we don’t actually see the heart-ripping thing. When we return to the clock tower, we see that the Gentlemen already have three hearts.


The next day, Buffy goes to the dorm room of the student whose heart got ripped out while Olivia, in Giles’s apartment, draws a picture of the Gentlemen, prompting Giles to grab a book of Fairy Tales.


The scene in the classroom, with Giles on the projector, is one of my fave scenes in this episode. Giles plays “Danse Macabre” on a stereo as he tells everyone what the Gentlemen are. Willow knows that the Gentlemen are after hearts, pointing to her chest, but Xander thinks of boobs instead. Giles explains via slides and crude drawings that the Gentlemen come into a town, steal everyone’s voices, and rip the hearts out of seven people. Everyone is grossed out over Giles’s drawing of a Gentlemen killing a human and ripping out his heart except for Anya, since she used to be a vengeance demon. She eats popcorn, sitting a few rows away from everyone else. Xander asks “How do we kill them?”


Buffy makes a motion with her hand that we know looks like staking but the way she’s pumping her hand makes everyone else think of something else until Buffy takes out her stake. Giles says in another slide that the Gentlemen can’t be killed by any weapons, just a human screaming. Willow thinks they can use a CD of screams, but only a real human voice is capable of killing them. So Buffy asks “How do I get my voice back?” Giles’s next slide says “Buffy will patrol tonight” with another crude drawing. Buffy scoffs at how big her hips look in the drawing. Over in the Initiative Base, Riley and Forrest prepare for their own patrol.


Out on the town, nobody’s around except for Buffy and Riley. Inside a dorm room, a list of phone numbers lies on top of a page that says “Spells of Speech and Silence.” Willow’s number is highlighted. Tara is shown leaving her dorm room, probably heading to Willow since she has Willow’s dorm room number written on a Post-it. As she leaves her room, you can’t help but think “Uh oh,” especially when the Gentlemen find her as she walks around the UC Sunnydale campus. Tara starts pounding on doors in Stevenson Hall, looking for Willow as the Gentlemen follow her. Tara starts pounding on one door and the editing tricks you into thinking she’s pounding on Willow’s door until the door opens revealing a Gentleman with a heart in his hand. Willow steps out of her dorm, literally crashes into Tara, and the two of them run away from the Gentlemen.


Meanwhile, Buffy fights off the Gentlemen’s minions and Riley inspects the clock tower. He fights off a couple of minions and Buffy crashes in with the minions she was fighting. The two of them have a stand-off with their weapons, but decide to keep fighting the minions first.


Over in Giles’s apartment, Spike sips some blood out of a mug, going into vamp face, and goes into the living room, where Anya is resting on the couch. Xander walks in and finds the vamp-faced Spike looking like he bit Anya and drained her. He starts beating Spike up to a pulp, which wakes Anya up. Anya breaks up the fight and Xander kisses her as romantic music swells. Then Xander and Anya decide to go off to get a room.


Willow and Tara make their way down into the laundry room and try to push a soda machine over to the door to no avail. The Gentlemen are pounding at the door. Willow tries to make the soda machine move, but it’s not working. Then Tara holds Willow’s hand and the two witches combine their magic to move the soda machine and succeed. Tara doesn’t let go of Willow’s hand, however, which hints at the relationship the two of them will later have.


Back in the clock tower, Buffy follows a minion up the stairs to the Gentleman’s base. She gets captured by the minions and the Gentlemen move towards her, only for Riley to taze them. Buffy and Riley fight off the minions and one of the Gentleman cuts her. A minion gets Buffy in a chokehold as she recognizes the box on the table as the box from her dream. She motions to Riley to break the box, but he doesn’t get it right the first time. When Riley actually gets it right, Buffy gets her voice back and unleashes a loud, piercing scream, causing the Gentlemen and their minions to die via head-explosion.


The next day, Willow and Tara make conversation about being real witches and magic. It’s clear from this scene that Tara is seriously attracted to Willow and that Willow is picking up on Tara’s interest. Giles and Olivia have a small moment, but given that Olivia doesn’t appear again until the comics, she’s not gonna stick around after this episode. The episode ends with Riley entering Buffy’s dorm, telling her that they should have a talk. Instead, the two sit across from each other in awkward silence.


I seriously love this episode, Captain Cardboard aside. It’s suspenseful and scary without actually being gory. You never see the Gentleman’s victims, just Giles’s crude drawings. I also love the way that everyone plays off of each other. It takes a lot of chemistry and good acting to convey how everyone relates to each other without having any dialogue whatsoever.

If you’re a fan of Doctor Who and have never seen Buffy, check out this episode. I also recommend this episode to those who want to see Joss Whedon do silent film. (Until he does an actual silent film, that is.)

Band Candy: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #7


Band Candy is a fun episode to watch. The whole “adults acting as teens” has been done before, but this one is unique in just how it executes the idea. It’s basically like “Freaky Friday” without the body switching. This is also notable for being the first Buffy episode written by Jane Espenson, who would go on to write for Torchwood: Miracle Day and is currently a producer for Once Upon a Time. She also wrote Firefly’s “Shindig” and several episodes of Buffy that didn’t make this list, but I still love nevertheless including “Intervention” and “Storyteller.”


The episode opens with Buffy studying for her SATs with Giles out in a cemetery. She fights a vampire and stakes it with a pencil. Giles gives her the answer to the question she was going over: “All things tend towards chaos.” Buffy laments that nobody else is working as late.


The next shot shows the Mayor (Season 3’s Big Bad) working late with his right hand vampire Trick. Trick plans on hiring out a “distraction” so that the Mayor is free to pay tribute to a demon. You may notice that the Mayor has a bit of a Mitt Romney/Donald Trump feel in how disturbingly cheery he is, even when he opens a cabinet filled with preserved dead things and occult items.


The next morning, Buffy laments with her friends about her SAT-related anxiety and the pressure her mother and Giles are putting on her. They walk to the cafeteria to find Principal Snyder handing out candy that everyone needs to sell to raise money for the band.


After school, Buffy begs her mom to let her practice driving. Problem is that Joyce doesn’t want Buffy driving off somewhere and never coming back. Buffy jokes about how she ran away on a bus in the previous season, which is still a sore spot for Joyce and most of the fandom that hasn’t gotten over “Becoming Part 2.” Buffy goes off to spend time with Giles but gets out of her training by saying that she needs to be home. We know that she’s lying to both of them. Wanna guess why?


Yep. Angel. Back from Hell and practicing tai chi without a shirt. I can completely understand Buffy wanting to spend as much time as possible with Angel, but can he at least put a shirt on? (And yes, call me a hypocrite because if you showed me a scene involving the other hot shirtless vampire, I would be drooling. I’m just not attracted to David Boreneaz. Never was.) Pointless fanservice aside, the Bangel subplot was one of the things I didn’t like about Season 3. While I can relate to wanting to be with the ex you never get over, Buffy is kind of proving her parents right about her lack of responsibility.


When Buffy gets home, she gets in major trouble with her mother and Giles for lying to them and to Willow about her whereabouts. Buffy decides to lie to her parents about where she was and complains about how much time both of them demand from her. Buffy gets sent to her room after Giles tells her to not “freak out.” This is a nice scene for both Giles and Joyce because they both want to protect Buffy, but have no idea how. If you notice, this is when both Giles and Joyce start eating the candy. Keep that in mind. Over in some mysterious factory, Giles’s old frenemy Ethan Rayne is managing the band candy assembly line. He tells one of the workers not to eat the candy, which sends up a red flag.


The next morning, Cordelia and Buffy wonder where Giles is while Xander and Willow play footsie under the table. The scene between them would be adorable but the problem is that they are in perfectly happy relationships with other people. Another lament I have with this show: They played around with Xander and Willow having more-than-friends moments, but never actually let them have a relationship or gave either of them closure on why they can’t be in a relationship. Principal Snyder whines about Giles not showing up and gets Ms. Barton to substitute.


After school, Buffy goes over to Giles’s apartment and finds her mother there with him. The two of them tell Buffy that they were talking about making a schedule that would accommodate to Buffy’s needs.  Joyce gives Buffy the keys to the Giles (another red flag) and Buffy takes off faster than you can say “Bite me!” Then Giles lights up a cigarette while Joyce takes out a bottle of wine. Later on, they are seen smoking and listening to old records. Can you say “Uh oh.”


Buffy drives with Willow to the Bronze and find the place is packed with older adults, even as Oz and his band are playing. Buffy and Willow wonder what the heck all the grown-ups are doing at the Bronze. They come across a very ditzy Ms. Barton and a very dorky, fun-loving Snyder. Buffy, Willow, and Oz watch the night turn into a squick-inducing spectacle and Buffy decides to figure out what’s going on. Snyder tags along with Buffy as they head out into town.


Out on the town in the shopping district, Joyce admires a jacket in a store window and Giles breaks a window to get it for her. They get held at gunpoint by a cop who’s under the influence of the candy. Giles fights off the cop and takes the gun. Then the Giles/Joyce ship turns into a steamboat as they make out on the hood of the cop’s car (and do a lot more off-camera).


When Buffy and company look around town, Buffy notices that no vampires are out attacking the vulnerable adults. When Snyder whines over someone stealing his candy, Buffy asks Snyder about where the candy came from. She sends Willow and Oz to the library while she goes off to the factory.


At the factory, a small group of adults are raving over getting more candy while Buffy gets a major gross-out at the sight of her mother making out with her Watcher. Buffy has a spat with both of them and fights the guy handing out the candy, taking her mother and Giles inside. Snyder follows in, wanting a piece of the action. Inside the factory, Buffy finds Ethan on the phone. Ethan, at the sight of his old frenemy, runs off. Buffy and Giles give chase and eventually find Ethan hiding inside a crate.


Giles wants Buffy to punch Ethan’s light house while Buffy interrogates Ethan about what he knows. Ethan admits that he was hired by Trick to create the candy as a diversion while Trick collected a tribute for the demon Lurconis. When Buffy asks Ethan what the tribute is, the camera cuts to a group of vampires collecting babies from a hospital.


Buffy asks Willow to get some further info on Lurconis.  Ethan tries attacking Buffy but Giles holds him at gunpoint and Buffy knocks Ethan to the ground. Still on the phone, Willow tells Buffy that Lurconis has a ritual every 30 years and that he eats babies. Joyce gives Buffy handcuffs to use on Ethan and the four of them head out to the hospital. Giles remembers something about Lurconis, that he’s a glutton who lives in the sewers. He starts sniping off at Snyder but Buffy quickly takes control of the situation. She tells Snyder to go home and tells Giles to come with her to the sewers and stop making out with her mom.


Down in the sewers, Giles and Joyce rescue the babies while Buffy takes care of Trick’s minions and burns Lurconis to a crisp. Trick escapes with a snark. At the Mayor’s office Trick tells the Mayor that Ethan left town and that he doesn’t have to worry about owing anything to Lurconis. The Mayor hints at his darker side, but we won’t get to see that until later this season.


Things at Sunnydale High are back to normal, with Snyder asking Willow, Oz, Cordy, and Xander to clean up a “Kiss Rocks” graffiti on the lockers. Buffy laments to Giles about how “nothing made sense” and how she felt “so alone”…about taking the SATs. She meets her mom outside and sighs in relief that nothing happened between them. Of course, her mother and her father figure know otherwise.


I gotta give kudos to Anthony Stewart Head and Kristine Sutherland for how awesomely they acted in this episode. It was awesome to finally see Ripper in action and it’s hilarious to see that Buffy and her mother aren’t all that different. The only thing I wish is that the writers would’ve taken advantage of the Giles/Joyce romance. It’s also good to see Buffy taking responsibility when the situation calls for it, but I still wish she wasn’t sneaking around because of Angel.

I recommend this episode to casual as well as die-hard fans of the show because it doesn’t really have any major plot points, but it doesn’t feel like a “filler” episode the way other episodes in the show feel.

School Hard: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #8


If someone were to ask me what episode I would show to someone who’s never seen Buffy before, I would show them two episodes: “Prophecy Girl” and “School Hard.” Prophecy Girl is the Season 1 finale and it introduces the world that Buffy takes place in and all the characters really well. However, the reason I choose “School Hard” for this blog post is because this episode establishes the theme of the season, establishes the main cast, and introduces two characters who will be a staple of the show for years to come.



The episode starts out with Buffy in the Principal’s office with a delinquent named Sheila. Principal Snyder wants the two of them to work together to decorate and make refreshments for Parent-Teacher Night. Buffy meets up with Xander and Willow and Xander tells Buffy to not worry so much. “As long as nothing really bad comes along between now and then, you’ll be fine,” he says.


Buffy and Willow are quick to point out that now something bad is gonna happen in an almost self-aware sense. Xander thinks this time may be different. He’s totally wrong, of course, because in the next scene we see a black car running over the “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign and an intimidating, black leather duster wearing, punk-rock vampire steps out, lighting up a cigarette.



Ladies and gentlemen, meet the vampire that stole my heart.

In the previous season, there was a minor villain called the Anointed One who is scene in his lair with his cronies. They all plot on killing the Slayer on something called “the Night of Saint Vigeous” and one of them says it’ll be the greatest thing since the crucifixion, bragging that he was there. Spike, of course, is not amused. Neither am I, for obvious reasons.



When Spike walks in the room with the other baddies, the attention is all on him. Mostly because all the other vampires in the room are about as interesting as the back of a cereal box. Spike starts bragging (he likes to brag) about the Slayers he’s killed when a haunting music box type melody takes over the room. Spike turns around and we get to see his human visage for the first time as his lover, Drusilla, walks in the room.



Like Spike, Drusilla is a vampire that you can’t help but be drawn to. She reminds me of those creepy ladies in horror movies that talk nonsense and walk like ballerinas. There’s a certain fragility to Drusilla and the love and affection the two of them have for each other feels genuine even when you take into account that vampires supposedly “can’t love.” When Drusilla asks Spike to kill the Slayer, Spike tells her “I’ll chop her into messes.” Shakespeare buffs might recognize this line from the play Othello in which the titular character says this line in reference to the woman he loves. However, Spike is saying this line in reference to Buffy.


In the next scene, Buffy has a short conversation with her mother regarding Parent-Teacher Night in which Joyce wants to believe in the best for Buffy but worries about her being irresponsible, since she’s totally unaware of Buffy’s life as an unofficial superhero. Our favorite Slayer laments about the responsibilities she has to deal with as she paints the banner for Parent-Teacher night.



My internet friend Ian AKA Passion of the Nerd points out that there’s an interesting parallel between Spike and Buffy, when Dru cuts Spike’s cheek and Buffy shows up in the next scene with a line of paint on her cheek in that same area. Trust me when I say this will be the first of many parallels between Buffy and Spike. But to go any further would make this a mile-long Spuffy post. Moving on!



Giles and another teacher, Jenny Calendar, come in to warn Buffy about the Night of St. Vigeous which is supposedly a night when vampires (after three days of fasting and rituals) are at their strongest. I’m honestly not gonna go into much detail beyond that because the show never actually showed the Night of St. Vigeous happening. It’s honestly just a MacGuffin that goes nowhere.

Later that night, Buffy tries studying at The Bronze to no avail because she’s pining for Angel. She goes off to the dance floor with Willow and Xander and a very telling song plays as Spike watches Buffy dance.


Spike does a stage whisper about calling the police about someone getting bitten outside, which prompts Buffy and company to make for the alley. Buffy beats up the vamp and stakes him easily (with a bit of Xander’s help) and Spike walks in, applauding her.



“Who are you?”


"You'll find out Saturday."

“You’ll find out Saturday.”


"What happens Saturday?"

“What happens Saturday?”


"I'll kill you."

“I’ll kill you.”

Spike goes off to another nightclub to catch Shiela while the Scoobies convene in the Sunnydale High School Library to research on Spike. Angel comes in to warn everyone about Spike, but leaves before giving any actual useful information. Meanwhile, Spike returns to Drusilla with Sheila in tow and a bit of backstory gets revealed. Dru was attacked by a mob in Prague which left her in a weakened state, prompting Spike to take her to the Hellmouth and help her recover. Spike goes off to perform the rituals with the Anointed One and tells Drusilla to feed, shoving Sheila at her.



The next day, the Scoobies prepare for battling the vamps while Buffy preps for Parent-Teacher Night. Cordelia, Buffy’s high school rival, shows up in the scene as sort of a “frenemy.” Joyce inevitably meets with Principal Snyder and it’s clear that Buffy will be on a one-way trip to Grounded-ville. Of course, just as things are about to go south for Buffy, Spike and his cronies break into the school. Why? He was bored and has major impatience issues.



Now the reason the episode is called “School Hard” is that the ensuing moments are reminiscent of the movie Die Hard, in which a bunch of people get trapped in a building while the hero saves them from terrorists by sneaking on the enemy through air vents. Buffy takes initiative and hides the adults and teachers in a classroom. Giles and computer teacher Jenny Calendar hide off in the library, Xander goes off to get Angel’s help, and Willow and Cordelia hide in the janitor’s closet, which they still end up staying in by the end of the episode.


When Angel gets Xander’s help, Angel tries to use Xander as bait. Spike recognizes Angel as his “sire” and calls Angel “Angelus,” which was his old vampire name. In the Buffyverse, a sire is the vampire who creates another vampire, their Childe. It’s later established that Drusilla was the one who created Spike but that Angel was Spike’s mentor in all things evil.


Spike takes down a vamp and fights off a newly vamped Sheila while getting her mother and all the other adults out. Spike’s minions give chase to Angel and Xander, but Spike stays behind when he smells Buffy’s blood.


The scene in the hallway between these two is majorly important and I’m not just saying that because I’m a Spuffy shipper. The banter between Buffy and Spike is laced with innuendo, establishing that the theme for this season is about relationships, sex and the consequences thereof. Fellow Spuffy shippers, take this bit of dialogue as a word of warning. The Spuffy ship ain’t all puppies and rainbows, but by God it is beautiful:


"I'll make it quick. Won't hurt a bit."

“I’ll make it quick. It won’t hurt a bit.”


"No, Spike. It's gonna hurt a lot."

“No, Spike. It’s gonna hurt a lot.”

But enough swooning. Time for a fight scene! Spike and Buffy spar out in the hallway while Angel and Xander fight Spike’s minions outside. But just as Spike was about to get the upper hand on Buffy, Joyce hits him on the back of the head with an axe and says “You get the hell away from my daughter,” prompting Spike decides to make a run for it.


Snyder and the police talk about what the “cover story” of the attack on the school will be while Joyce and Buffy have a heartwarming moment in which Joyce realizes that Buffy is capable of taking responsibility when the moment calls for it.


The episode ends with Spike pretending to ask the Anointed One for mercy, but we all know that Spike isn’t one for apologizing when he doesn’t actually feel sorry. He throws the Anointed One into a cage and lifts the child vampire into the sunlight, establishing that he’s the new Big Bad in town. I seriously love his bravado!



If you’re not familiar or a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I highly recommend you watch this episode. If there was one thing about this episode that I wish could’ve gone differently, it would’ve been that Joyce would’ve found out about the vampires and decided to accept Buffy’s life as the Slayer. But overall, I love what this episode had. For old school fans, it’s a major nostalgia trip because you get to see the characters in the earlier days and think of how things could’ve played out differently and for newcomers, it’s a good way of learning who everyone is and what exactly Buffy is about. So yeah, go watch it!

Tabula Rasa: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #9


“Tabula Rasa” has a similar plot to “Something Blue” because the events of the episode are triggered by a spell cast by Willow gone awry. But whereas “Something Blue” was mostly a hilarious episode, “Tabula Rasa” is both the funniest episode and one of the saddest episodes in the entire series. How the heck does that happen? Read on further to find out.

SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer or haven’t seen this show in a long time, stop reading right now. Major plot points are gonna be revealed here.


The episode follows straight after “Once More With Feeling.” Spike finds Buffy on patrol to try and talk about how they kissed in the previous episode, but Buffy isn’t up for talking. Spike gets attacked by a literal loan shark named Teeth and his cronies, leaving Buffy to save his sorry pale butt. (It’s a show with monsters. Just go with it.)


Meanwhile, at Xander’s apartment, Xander, Anya, Willow, and Tara are feeling majorly guilty about ripping Buffy out of Heaven. (While I personally believe that Buffy wasn’t actually in Heaven, the show never says otherwise, so for the sake of argument we’ll just go with what the show says.) They think about how to help Buffy adjust to not being dead anymore. Willow, of course, wants to use magic to fix things, considering a spell that would make Buffy forget about Heaven. This angers Tara, who doesn’t want Willow to abuse magic anymore. 

One major complaint from the fandom is that Season 6 portrayed magic as a drug, which isn’t actually how magic is. In reality, Willow’s addiction isn’t to magic in and of itself, but the power and control it gives her. Willow always wanted to find a way to fix problems without actually having to deal with them, which is a really bad way of thinking. So yeah, I’m siding with Tara in this episode.


Tara even says outright: “You did it the way you’re doing everything, Will. When things get rough, you don’t even consider your options – you just do a spell. It’s not good for you – and it’s not what magic is for.” Willow pleads for Tara to stay with her, but Tara knows that as long as Willow has the control freak complex, things aren’t safe for her. Tara contemplates breaking up if Willow can’t go without magic for a week. And she’s not the only one who wants to leave.

Before I cut to the next scene, I’ll tell y’all right now. Just because I love an episode doesn’t mean that it’s perfectly written. Every episode of any show will have its flaws. So forgive me for not liking this upcoming scene.


Giles and Buffy are at the Magic Box’s training room. Giles is telling Buffy how he’s planning on leaving for England. Now in the context of the behind-the-scenes stuff, Anthony Stewart Head wanted to leave the show to go back to his homeland. But the writers made a really bad decision in having Giles leave because Buffy can’t handle things without constantly turning to him for help. To some extent, yes, Buffy needs to learn how to make her own decisions. But Buffy already has abandonment issues bigger than the state of Texas and she has depression on top of that! The last thing she needs is her father figure, one of the few people she feels she can still trust, leaving her. As much as I hate saying this, killing Giles off would’ve been more believable than having him abandon Buffy for what feels like a seriously contrived reason.

But maybe it’s just because Giles leaving is the start of everything getting worse for Buffy and the Scoobies.


The next morning, Willow casts the Tabula Rasa spell, but leaves the whole bag of Lethe’s Bramble in front of the fire. The fire consumes the whole bag, which foretells some major consequences ahead.

In the magic shop, the Scoobies are all gathered and Buffy urges Giles to just announce his eventual departure, only for Spike to interrupt things. He comes in looking like this:



Spike is still on the run from the loan shark but the conversation soon returns back to Giles who tells everyone of his plans of returning to England. Buffy can’t take any more bad news, so she starts to leave. Willow’s crystal starts glowing black, which means the spell is about to take effect. And take effect it does. Everyone in the room suddenly passes out.



Day turns to night in the next scene. The way that everyone is arranged is important. Giles is leaning on Anya’s shoulder. Tara is asleep in her chair. Willow and Xander are asleep next to each other, with Willow wearing Xander’s jacket. Dawn is curled up on the floor. Spike is asleep on the store counter. Buffy is slumped on the stairs and is the first to wake up. As she turns on the lights, everyone else starts waking up with complete amnesia. This is where all the laughs really start coming.



First of all, Giles finds magic to be “balderdash and chicanery,” which is pretty hilarious if you remember that Giles’s young, rebellious youth consisted of using dark magic as a drug high. Buffy instinctively comforts Dawn while Giles realizes that he’s British. Spike snarks at Giles about being all “Mary Poppins” only to realize that he’s British as well. His little bit gets me laughing so hard, my stomach literally hurts because James Marsters is actually American and he does the British thing so well, it’s hard to believe that he isn’t. (The fact that he does the British thing in Torchwood doesn’t help much, either.) Giles and Spike wonder if they’re related and Spike thinks that Giles is his father. This is a shoutout to a scene from a previous episode in which Giles refers to Spike as “like a son to me.”


Spike also thinks that Giles and Anya are together due to seeing them waking up together. Anya looks at her ring and remembers that she’s engaged. Problem is she’s engaged to the wrong man! The ensuing argument about Giles apparently marrying someone half his age leads to everyone checking for their driver’s licenses and IDs. Unfortunately, Buffy, Dawn, and Spike don’t have any. Buffy points out Dawn’s necklace, which has her name on it. “Or Umad,” Dawn joked. Spike checks his jacket and thinks that his name is Randy, leading to yet another gut-busting hilarious line.


“‘Randy’ Giles?! Why didn’t you just name me ‘Horny Giles’ or ‘Desperate-for-a-shag Giles’? I knew there was a reason I hated you!”

Willow thinks that she and Tara are study buddies while Xander is her boyfriend. But since Buffy doesn’t have a license or a student ID, she decides to name herself “Joan.” Dawn’s snarking at Buffy’s lame name leads them to realize that the two of them are sisters. Buffy decides on everyone going to the hospital but when they open the door, they are greeted by vampires. Leading to this hilarious shot:



The amnesia everyone has made everyone forget that they live in a world where vampires exist. Giles proposes using magic to fight back, even as the vampires bang on the door, demanding for Spike and the Slayer to come out. Xander finds a trapdoor that leads to the sewer. The vampires break into the shop through a window, since they can’t actually enter a door without being invited. In the ensuing fight, Buffy stakes a vampire and seriously loves the power she has.



As the other vampires run back to their loan shark boss, Buffy formulates a plan. She and “Randy” will go out to fight the vampires while everyone else goes to the hospital through the sewers. Anya and Giles decide to stay in the shop and use magic to ward off anyone else who might come after them.

Buffy and Spike run out to fight the vampires. As the fight ensures, Spike instinctively goes into vamp-face and thinks that he’s a superhero, only for Buffy to go running, scared at the sight of his vamp face.



Down in the sewers, Xander, Dawn, Willow, and Tara try to navigate around a place they’ve never been to and come across a vampire. Up in the Magic Box, Anya does a spell that summons a rabbit, which she is completely terrified of. Meanwhile, Spike catches up to Buffy to try and talk things out with her. Buffy tries to keep him away and then this happens:



Spike realizes that he doesn’t want to kill Buffy, nor does Buffy want to kill Spike in spite of the two of them seemingly being natural enemies. Spike thinks that he’s a vampire with a soul, but Buffy thinks the idea is totally lame. (Take that, Angel!) Sparks kind of fly between the two of them. And they’re not the only ones.

Giles and Anya are still fighting as her attempts at magic keep going awry and Giles thinks that the plane ticket in his pocket was an indicator that he was getting out of the relationship. Giles eventually finds a way to reverse all the magic and the two of them kiss and make up.



Down in the sewers, Tara and Willow are instinctively drawn to each other as the vampires in the sewer  Dawn and Xander try fighting the vampires only for Xander to step on the crystal that fell out of Willow’s pocket.

And it’s at this point that the laughs stop (except for Giles and Anya being grossed out about their kissage) and starts turning to tears.

When I was in middle school, I was seriously into an artist named Michelle Branch. So imagine my surprise to find her being the musical guest of the week, playing in the famous Buffy nightclub The Bronze. The song that she sings plays as Tara packs up to leave, Willow cries in the bathroom, Giles flies back to England, and Buffy turns down Spike only for her to make out with him as the episode ends.



This episode is something TV Tropes calls “fanfic fuel.” Mostly because there were so many possibilities that this episode could’ve explored but chose not to, which behooves fans of the show to write fanfics that explore said possibilities. It would’ve been interesting to see the amnesia last longer than one episode. It would’ve been interesting to see Giles and Anya in a relationship. There were even hints of Dawn and Xander having some potential. Dawn had a crush on Xander before, after all. I wish I knew how Buffy went from not wanting to talk to Spike to actually kissing him. I wish that Tara stayed and Willow left the house. I wish that Giles would stay. I wish that Xander and Anya realized that they didn’t exchange any conversation while they lost their memories. Part of me wishes that the amnesia could’ve gone on a little longer, at least long enough for Buffy to realize that she was instinctively attracted to Spike in spite of the fact that he’s a soulless vampire.

But in spite of what I wish could happen, I love this episode. It’s not one I would show to casual fans or people who haven’t watched the show. For major fans of the show, it’s a favorite. It’s hard to find a show that can make you laugh and cry in the span of one episode and Buffy is definitely one of those shows.

Screencaps are copyright to Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox and are used for editorial purposes only.

Something Blue: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #10


On paper, “Something Blue” should have been a bad episode. It was written by Tracey Forbes, who also wrote “Beer Bad” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” two of the least-liked episodes in the whole series. The episode is about Willow using magic to get over her broken heart, only for the spell to go totally awry. But something about this episode just had me laughing out loud. You wanna know what it was? Read the recap to find out!

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow’s boyfriend, Oz, broke up with her and left Sunnydale in the hopes of taming his inner werewolf. Former Big Bad Spike has now become the Sitcom Annoying Neighbor when the mysterious government organization called The Initiative put a chip in his head that prevents him from hurting or biting humans. Also, Buffy has a new potential boyfriend in the form of one Riley Finn, who in my opinion is as boring as a cardboard cut-out. But I digress.

The episode starts with Willow going to Oz’s empty dorm room, sniffing out one of his shirts and missing him badly.

willow misses oz


Cut to a daytime shot of the UC Sunnydale campus, where Riley is found hanging a banner for the college’s lesbian alliance.



Riley asks Buffy out on a date, a picnic on-campus. And Buffy is definitely all for going out. When she goes out on patrol with Willow later that night, however, she admits that while Riley is safe, there’s still something missing. Willow points out that Buffy doesn’t feel like she’s in misery the way she did with Angel. Buffy fesses that something in her associates love with pain and fighting.



It’s clear that Buffy never heard the CS Lewis quote “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” One reason I never invested in the Buffy/Riley relationship was because they lacked serious chemistry and were never completely open and honest with each other. Besides that, Riley had major competition in the eye candy department:



Spike is currently chained to Giles’s bathtub as part of Buffy interrogating him about the commandos. Spike, however, doesn’t exactly recall much. He’s fed blood via a “Kiss the Librarian” mug since the chip in his head renders him unable to bite people. Giles and Buffy want to be certain that Spike isn’t a threat to him and Spike isn’t taking the fact that he’s now been reduced to comic relief all that well.

And then Buffy teases him. And then a giggle escapes from my mouth. An then there’s a certain look in Spike’s eyes-



But enough of that. Willow proposes using a truth spell on Spike. Buffy and Spike think that Willow’s doing alright, but Spike says that she’s hanging by a thread. The bleach blonde vampire turns out to be right. Willow goes to Oz’s room again to find it empty. She finds out from a friend that Oz has asked for his things to be shipped to wherever he moved to. Buffy tries to give advice to Willow, but it’s clear the redhead is in pain.


The next day, Giles calls Willow to check on whether she has the ingredients for the truth spell and Spike whines about missing Passions. Buffy and Riley have their picnic and Willow arrives all mopey.


Later that night, the Scooby Gang goes out to the Bronze as Blink 182’s “All the Small Things” plays. At first, everyone thinks that Willow’s doing okay and Willow boasts about her newfound resolve only for a small beer bottle to spill out from under her skirt. Willow asks Buffy “Isn’t there some way I can make it go away? Just ’cause I say so? Can’t I make it go poof?” Buffy gives Willow a look that says “No.” But that doesn’t stop Willow from trying anyway.



The next morning, Giles visits Willow to check on why she forgot about doing the truth spell. The two of them have a minor argument and Willow declares “You don’t see anything!” to him.


Later on, Giles tries doing the truth spell on his own, only for his vision to worsen. Spike takes advantage of the situation and escapes. Giles quickly calls Buffy to tell him of Spike’s escape, just as Buffy was trying to help Willow get over the fact that she seemingly failed the “Will be Done” spell. Buffy finds Spike and drags him back to Giles’s house where the two start arguing. Meanwhile, Willow mopes at Xander’s house and Xander tries to help Willow understand why Spike is necessary to have around. Which leads Willow to say: “Well fine! Why doesn’t she just go marry him?”

Back in Giles’s apartment, Giles finds Spike kneeling before Buffy. A strange feeling starts rising inside of me. As Buffy says “Yes” to Spike’s proposal, Spike stands up and they kiss for the first time. Then Buffy shows Giles her ring and says: “Giles! You’ll never believe what’s happened.”



And in that moment, I gasp three little words:


Yep, dear readers. This was the episode in which the “Spuffy” ship attacked my heart and never let it go. For the purposes of this blog, I will try to keep my squee to a minimum, but I can’t make any promises.

Willow continues moping at Xander’s, calling him a demon magnet. Meanwhile, Giles calls Willow and Spike and Buffy start planning their wedding. The kissing scenes between these two turn me into a pile of bubbly giggles and I’m still grinning as I write this. I mean LOOK AT THEM!



Okay, okay. I’m gonna try and hold back my giggles now. Moving on!

Giles discovers that he’s gone completely blind, so Spike offers to help while Buffy goes out to get some ingredients from the local magic shop. As she wanders around town, she sees a gorgeous wedding dress on display.



Riley comes across her and the two of them have the most hilarious conversation, in which Buffy tells Riley she’s not interested in him because she’s getting married to Spike and invites Riley to the wedding.

Xander and Anya get attacked by demons and make a run for Giles’s apartment. Buffy announces her upcoming nuptials to them and Xander goes:

"How?! What?! How?!"

“How?! What?! How?!”

Three excellent questions, Xander. But in the midst of trying to figuring out what’s going on, Xander realizes that all the weirdness goes back to Willow, who got kidnapped by a demon named D’Hoffryn. According to Anya, D’Hoffryn turns humans into vengeance demons and Hoffy, as she calls him, makes Willow an offer. As demons rampage on the Scoobies, Willow decides to turn down D’Hoffryn’s offer. She undoes the spell and Spike and Buffy go right back to hating each other again.


Willow bakes cookies to make up for the mess that she made. Spike teases Buffy about how she wanted “Wind Beneath My Wings” to be their song. Buffy blames the spell, but I know she’s lying. In spite of the fact that Spike and Buffy were only this adorable under the influence of a spell, and Buffy quickly went running into Riley’s arms at the end of the episode, my mind was already made up. I stepped onto the Spuffy ship and never looked back.

The episode shows that you can’t use a quick fix for your problems. It also shows that Spike and Buffy have enough chemistry to set off a nuclear warhead and have the power to divide the fandom for days to come.

I realize, of course, that I am horribly, horribly biased. But give the episode a watch if you want to see the mindset of Spuffy shippers. And if you’re not a Spuffy shipper:



Screencaps of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are copyright to Mutant Enemy and 20th Century Fox and are used for editorial purposes only.