On Monday, the world celebrated the tenth anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the pride and joy of supernatural enthusiasts (myself included). While I haven’t watched Buffy since they stopped showing re-runs of the series every day before school, I can’t seem to go a week without remembering one of the show’s unusual storylines. Everything I see brings back memories of this series somehow, like I’m caught in some sort of bad break-up, except Buffy can’t point out my commitment issues or storm out of the house when I play Taylor Swift too loudly. Some of the episodes I recall, not because they were particularly heart-warming, but because they were so incredibly odd, it would be hard to forget them.
1) Restless (4×22) – I’m not usually a fan of dream sequences because I think it’s a cheesy way to express a character’s true emotions but the dream episode of Buffy was more transfixing than a basket of hairless kittens (which just confuses my emotions beyond comprehension). When the group of friends falls asleep during a movie, the camera plunges into the characters’ heads and brings us all into a very weird dimension. From Buffy talking to her dead mom through a hole in the wall of her high school to Willow scrawling Greek symbols on her girlfriend’s back for no apparent reason, “Restless” transports the viewing audience into a glass case of emotion that makes me mentally claustrophobic.
2) Once More, with Feeling (6×07) – What’s more unsettling than flicking on the TV to watch the regularly scheduled Buffy episode is finding a musical with all of the same characters in its place, only to realize that you are watching exactly what you wanted to see. In “Once More, with Feeling,” a demon places a curse on the residents of Sunnydale that forces them to spontaneously break out into song. (I don’t know about you but that sounds like the best demon curse I’ve ever heard.)
3) Who Are You (4×16) – No matter how much I try to like Eliza Dushku (she’s from MA so I feel like we have some sort of unspoken bond that we need to tap into), there’s something about her that makes me want to silence her vocal chords and there’s a good chance that feeling stemmed from her character, Faith, on Buffy. Faith, a slayer-turned-villain-turned-slayer, was an interesting character, to say the least. While she spent most of her time making poor decisions, Faith redeems herself through her impersonation of Buffy when her and the leading slayer switch bodies. This may be my fascination with Freaky Friday (2003) talking but I love these story arcs simply because I feel like a part of some inside joke with the characters, especially when I start saying, “Oh my god, that’s totally how Buffy would act” every five seconds.
4) The Wish (3×09) – With all the movies out there about wishing away someone’s existence and the consequences of such a decision, you would think that producers would stop trying to make this plot-line work but apparently, Buffy did not get the memo. And thank god it didn’t. Season three’s episode “The Wish” envisions what the world would be like without Buffy Summers, meaning, a world where Xander and Willow are very disturbing-looking vampires and Sunnydale is overrun with monsters.
5) Hush (4×10) – Before Joss Whedon was confusing audiences with his musical episode, he was captivating us by opting for the exact opposite extreme: total silence. In the episode “Hush,” a group of ghouls named “The Gentleman” strip everyone in Sunnydale of their voices. In the 44 minute episode, there is only 17 minutes of dialogue.
6) Halloween (2×06) – Remember that time that you dressed up as an 80-year-old, promiscuous Wonderwoman? Now imagine if, once you put on the costume, you actually became that person? In the 1997 “Halloween” episode of Buffy, a shop owner begins selling costumes to kids that turn them into whatever character they’re portraying. I feel bad for all of the people dressed as bees and M&Ms…
7) Band Candy (3×06) – There’s a reason teenagers don’t rule the Earth and if anyone had any doubts about that, this episode of Buffy would be the first place to look. When the principal of Sunnydale High School starts handing out cursed band candy, the characters begin channeling their adolescent roots. I can handle Buffy becoming a bad driver (though I’m tempted to believe this was also a commentary on women’s driving skills), but when Giles and Joyce Summers started making out, that’s where I drew the line. This episode weirded me out, which is how it ended up on this list.
8) Where the Wild Things Are (4×18) – When there’s an entire episode dedicated to demon-induced sexcapades, you know you’re watching Buffy. In the episode titled “Where the Wild Things Are” (thus forever ruining the innocent image of the cute little children’s book), Buffy and Riley (along with everyone else in the building) fall under the control of a poltergeist, one that forces the two characters to get it on for the full 45-minute episode. “Where the Wild Things Are” may have been uncomfortable to watch, but it was also interesting to see everything unfold (even though, as a member of Team Angel, I had to mentally push through it).
9) Normal Again (6×17) – “Normal Again” was the kind of episode that, by the end, you’re convinced someone slipped some sort of drug into your drink when you weren’t looking. The episode kicks off in an insane asylum where doctors are examining a catatonic Buffy while explaining to her parents that they are going to try one last time to snap her out of her alternate reality, thus suggesting that Sunnydale and all of the vampire-monster nonsense is a figment of Buffy’s imagination. This, of course, throws into question the reliability of the entire series, which is so mind-blowing to me that I just want to watch it on repeat until my head actually explodes.
10) Doppelgangland (3×16)– What’s better than Alyson Hannigan as Willow? Alyson Hannigan as Willow and her evil, alternate dimension, vampire counterpart. Written by Whedon himself, Doppelgangland discusses the aftermath of The Wish as Anya tries to reverse the Buffy-less alternate reality that she created. In the process, she drags new, psychotic Willow into the regular world and everything gets a little cray from there.
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