When I was growing up, I, unsurprisingly, loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy had quick quips, lovable characters, ham-fisted romance and all the action you could want. So, it’s no surprise that I introduced it to my teenager once I thought she’d get into it. Now, well, she’s more of a fan than I could ever be! My teenager, Bella, gave me five must-watch episodes to share with newbies and fans alike.
1. When She Was Bad – Season 2, Episode 1
Bella’s Take: “This is an episode that peaks and truly transforms Buffy Summers. Think about it, she was killed, her heart stopped and then she came back with the one thought on her mind to finish off killing the Master to protect her friends. This episode follows her as she struggles with that but also she struggles with this emotional trauma that’s left her with a ‘tude’ as Cordelia calls it. You can tell it’s crushing her, between the nightmares and the behavioral mating dance she was trying to do with Xander. Yuck! Sorry, Xander. Her friends still try to get through to her even as she screws up and goes to confront the vampires that are trying to bring the Master back, thus saving her friends but also facing the harsh reality of how she’d been acting. She faces that demon and all is right in the world again, her friends accept her, Angel is moopy (but obsessed again,) and she’s finally recognized her role as The Slayer.”
2. The Wish – Season 3, Episode 9
Bella’s Take: “Alright, so, this is in its own way centered around Buffy and Cordelia. Cordelia is a little bit peeved and has had this nasty resentment building up since Buffy showed up in Sunnydale. So, Cordelia makes a wish with a Vengeance Demon currently going by the name Anyanka, to wish that Buffy never came to town. In doing that, it changes everything and Sunnydale turns into a place where vampires freely roam, with humans not just knowing about them but fearing them. The interesting point comes where, even with her being wished away, Buffy has to come to Sunnydale. She’s the Slayer and not only does the world need that, but they definitely need their own Buffy.”
3. The Gift – Season 5, Episode 22
Bella’s Take: “The Gift is one of the most heartbreaking episodes I’ve ever watched. The world is on its deathbed and it’s all because of Buffy’s sister, Dawn. In my opinion this is where Buffy truly takes over her role as sister, because she realizes that Dawn was made with Buffy’s blood and sacrifices herself so Dawn won’t die. This is where everything she feels comes to light and she leaves the safety and care of her friends up to her sister. Essentially, it’s Dawn’s turn to keep them together and watch over them. It also shows just how truly tired Buffy is with slaying. She’s drained, and worn out and she finally died in a way that would send her to Heaven. She finally found peace and died saving the world, like she’s done many times before.”
Sure, this is essentially TWO episodes, but think of it as a long season opener! (They did air on the same night. IT COUNTS!)
Bella’s Take: “This two-part season opener centers around how the gang handles not having Buffy anymore, and it’s not going very well. Watching the Scoobies juggle coping and trying to kill all the Big Bads when they don’t have their Slayer to lean on. The majority of their time is spent trying to figure out how they can both dispense of the enemies and also try their hand at bringing Buffy back. At the end of Bargaining part 2 they finally summon her back when Sunnydale is taken over by a vampire biker gang. (Sooo cliche.) However, this time it’s different, she didn’t just suddenly poof out of her coffin, out of her 6 feet under burial site, she had to physically crawl out of her grave and with super-awesome amnesia to boot! Consequences Willow, consequences. At the very end of this episode Buffy is back up on the same tower where she jumped when she sacrificed her life, reliving her memories and gaining them all back. You can tell she wants to jump again and later we find out that it’s because she wants to go back to the Heaven she was pulled from. Buffy’s sister Dawn gets up on that unstable mess of iron rods and talks her off the ledge (Literally!). But no one yet knows what’s truly troubling Buffy even when her memory returns. Well, for now.”
Buffy: Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles… tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I’m okay. And 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.
5. Once More With Feeling – Season 6, Episode 7
Bella’s Take: “This demon named Sweet visits Sunnydale and causes quite the hysterics before the true nature of what happens comes into the open. It’s definitely amusing to see the entire town filled with people dancing and singing about things as trivial as parking tickets and clean shirts but then it turns out that it’s not so much of a Broadway musical as it is, dancing to the point of combustion. I mean, at least you can say that their moves are ‘fire’. (That’s not funny… It kind of is). The singing part though brings some secrets between the members of the ‘Scooby Gang’ to light. The bad thing about that is… Well, they get to find out how Buffy truly feels about living. She (in song) tells her friends about having resentment toward them for pulling her out of Heaven and bringing her right back to Sunnydale. While Buffy is able to get the weight of what she was hiding off her shoulders, it then leaves the question of, ‘Where do they go from there?‘.
While noting what Buffy had told her, she sings to her sister those very same words after finding out Buffy is struggling with being brought back to life.
Dawn: The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it.
Honorable Mentions: Tabula Rasa – Season 6, Episode 8. The Witch – Season 1, Episode 3