Friday, June 18, 2010

My Big Bad Buffy Countdown: #15-11

Here's why we're doing this.

And here are #s 30-26. And #s 25-21. And #s 20-16.

#15: "Helpless"
Season 3, Episode 12
Written by: David Fury
An underrated classic, particularly if you value the Buffy/Giles relationship like I did. Buffy is unwittingly subjected to a test by the Watcher's Council (first appearance by the delightfully brusque Quentin Travers) in which her powers are sapped and she's forced to defend herself by her wits and girlish flailing. (I'm guessing this had historically helped...promote a higher turnover rate among Slayers?) Giles's faith in the system comes crashing into his loyalty for Buffy, though not before Buffy feels the sting of his betrayal. It's utterly heartbreaking, though Giles does redeem himself a bit. And watching Buffy try to survive while powerless is both harrowing and genuinely thrilling.

#14: "Graduation Day, Part 1"
Season 3, Episode 21
Written by: Joss Whedon
Part 2 gets all the love, and rightfully so, but Part 1 shouldn't get too overshadowed. This wasn't just an hour of running in place before the big battle. An ailing Angel feeding on Buffy to survive got all the publicity, and it's a powerful moment, but when I think of the episode, I think of Buffy quitting the Watcher's Council, Anya inching her way into the gang, and especially the hellacious Buffy/Faith fight, which was the best action sequence in the entire series, and I will not argue this point.

#13: "Doppelgangland"
Season 3, Episode 16
Written by: Joss Whedon
For all the obvious reasons. Vampire Willow is delicious, but regular Willow reacting to Vampire Willow is even better. For as high concept as this episode is, it's all the tiny moments of hilarity that make it. The Scoobies mourning Willow's death, only to have her walk in; Cordelia subjecting Vamp Willow to a lecture on the ethics of boyfriend-stealing; Anya trying to order a beer. But nothing beats Vamp Willow hitting on regular Willow. "This couldn't be more disturbing."

#12: "Enemies"
Season 3, Episode 17
Written by: Doug Petrie
Another episode from the stellar Season 3, and another killer Faith episode written by Doug Petrie. This is the one where Buffy finally realizes Faith has gone all the way to the dark side, as she attempts to turn Angel evil and then lure Buffy into a trap. But it's Faith who gets trapped -- once again proving that intellect is not her strong suit -- and Buffy gets a rare mid-season "win" over the raven-haired slayer. Bonus points for the first shades of Angel's rehabilitation project on Faith, one which would pay off in some of Angel's best episodes.

#11: "Restless"
Season 4, Episode 22
Written by: Joss Whedon
There is just so much to enjoy here, from the gratuitous weirdness to the myriad foreshadowings, to the singing, to the First Slayer. Unlike any other episode in the entire Buffy catalog, making it an easy standout for a list like this. It's an episode that puts all the boilerplate "dream episode"s of other shows to shame, going beyond easy Freudian line-drawing into really abstract situations that nonetheless comment on each of the dreaming Scoobies. I also thought that, strangely enough, this was the one episode that took Tara as seriously as she deserved to be. Amber Benson has never looked as beautiful or seemed as integral to the plot as when she was standing in the desert, wearing that sari, asking Buffy if she thinks she knows what's to come.



i love this series so much. bringing back wonderful memories. But how on earth do you remember this much?

JA said...

I was wondering the same thing! So many great specifics brought up that my hole-riddled brain would've never remembered. Good job, Joe.

"Helpless" came really close to making my top 10. Giles and Buffy's relationship was maybe my favorite in the entire series, way more than any of her love affairs.

Joe Reid said...

Thanks, guys! Like I said before, this was the one show I went full-on geeky over. I can't say I've retained all of it, but it seems like there's quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

"You have a father's love for the girl." *sniff*

Kirk Hamilton said...

Okay, now we're getting to it! That closing run of Season 3 was the first time I ever watched the show (before going back and watching the whole thing in order), so the Evil-Faith and Buffy vs. The Watcher's Council plots will always have a spot in my heart.

I have the distinct sense that your top ten is going to right last week's cosmic wrong. Bravo!