The 10 best episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Two Buffy fans break down the best episodes of the original vampire teen drama series.

Today on q, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The cult favourite TV series premiered two decades ago and fans Andrea Subissati and Maxine Stoddard stopped by to reflect on the legacy of Buffy Summers and her monster slaying crew. 

To expand on their love of the show, we've asked them to name the top 10 Buffy episodes of all time. Below are their picks.

10. 'Grave' (Season 6, Episode 22)

Subissati: Willow becomes the big bad villain of that season. She's so grief-stricken that she becomes drunk with power, like an addiction. And at the end, Xander confronts her by supporting her and telling her that he loves her and it breaks her down. That scene is tremendously moving and it was also really refreshing to see that kind of platonic love.

9. 'Tabula Rasa' (Season 6, Episode 8)

Subissati: Willow's spell goes awry and it wipes everyone's memory. It's just hilariously entertaining for us to see these characters that we know so well acting completely contrary to the way they normally act. They're trying to put the pieces together based on what's around them and what their relationships must be with each other and they're just totally off.

8. 'The Body' (Season 5, Episode 16)

Stoddard: Buffy's mom dies in "The Body." It takes you through the really stark reality of how people react. I don't think I've ever seen any film or TV series take on grief and what it does to your mind the way that that episode handled it. Joss Whedon colours things differently, there's no music in this episode — it's one of the most powerful episodes, ever.

7. 'Hush' (Season 4, Episode 10)

Subissati: As a horror fan, this is possibly my favourite episode. It's got a real Tim Burton, Danny Elfman kind of vibe to it. In addition to that, the episode has a wonderful message, or maybe just an interesting discussion, on the role of language because these demons come around and they steal everyone's voice. In some respect, people find it easier to communicate without the hurdle of language but then, when they get their voices back, other things become difficult to say. It's a really interesting episode, it's super fun and it's possibly the scariest.

6. 'Once More With Feeling' (Season 6, Episode 7)

Subissati: It's the musical episode! The songs were very well written, but for an episode that seems to maybe be a standalone or gimmicky episode, there's a lot of plot movement. There are huge, thunderclap revelations and it was some of the most fun I've had watching TV ever. Joss Whedon is not afraid to pull punches and try things and this was a really weird, oddball episode but it fits so perfectly in the Buffy universe.

5. 'Checkpoint' (Season 5, Episode 12)

Stoddard: Buffy finds her power in 'Checkpoint.' Glory, the Big Bad, needs something from her. Buffy's not as overpowered by Glory as she's been feeling. She finds her power completely within herself, with her mind and not with her mantle of being the slayer or the strength that comes with that.

4. 'Beer Bad' (Season 4, Episode 5)

Stoddard: Buffy is reeling from her first casual sexual encounter that was not based on love and, feeling very rejected, she drinks beers with these guys and becomes Cave Buffy. It's a fun episode because it deals with things in a different way and it's just a fun release to see Buffy be able to club a jerk over the head the way you've wanted to.

3. 'Graduation Day (Part 1 & 2)' (Season 3, episodes 21 and 22)

Stoddard: High school is not fun for most people, I would wager. "Graduation Day" is where the Big Bad, the mayor, comes to graduation, gives a horribly long, boring speech and he ascends to a higher form and is going to kill all the students! When I was watching it, I was approaching graduation as well, and you kind of want to have that action star movie moment of flipping the cigarette, lighting the gasoline and having it all blow up behind you, on your way out.

2. 'Innocence' (Season 2, Episode 14)

Stoddard: This is where Buffy has sex with Angel, and it's her first time and it literally turns Angel evil. It's a super allegory for what a lot of young girls fear and what we're taught to fear about sex, that it's all the man wants and the morning after is going to be horrible. She suffers that through no fault of her own and it's addressed in an exaggerated way but in a really sensitive way.

1. 'Becoming (Part 1 & 2)' (Season 2, episodes 21 and 22)

Stoddard: It's where Buffy first learns that all the power is within her and it's only up to her and ultimately, she's going to be on her own. Giles takes a turn for the darker, Willow becomes seriously engaged in witchcraft — it takes the characters' arcs to the mature place we see in Season 3 and onwards.

— Melody Lau, q digital staff


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