Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Big Bad Buffy Countdown: #20-16

Here's why we're doing this.

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

#20: "Triangle"
Season 5, Episode 11
Written by: Jane Espenson
Oh, my beloved "Triangle." It's been a pet favorite for a long time. Partly because it came on the heels of "Into the Woods," my least favorite episode of Season 5 and a Top 5 least favorite of the series (Buffy chasing down Riley's helicopter ... no). "Triangle" was like a palette cleanser: heavily comedic (Jane Espenson at her best), focused on the supporting characters (Anya and Willow go toe to toe with Xander stuck in the middle), and a great performance by Abraham Benrubi as Olaf the Troll god.

#19: "Superstar"
Season 4, Episode 17
Written by: Jane Espenson
This is a more celebrated Espenson effort, and with good reason. Buffy always did well with alternate realities (Normal Again excepted), and much like the way the musical aspects were introduced in "Once More With Feeling," I liked how this episode jumped right into its new world order, funky new credits and all. The episode gave us a meek, unsure Buffy, which served as a great commentary -- as obnoxious as this sounds -- on the crisis of confidence young girls endure under a patriarchy. (...Told you.) Great performance by Danny Strong, too.

#18: "Innocence"
Season 2, Episode 14
Written by: Joss Whedon
I'm pretty sure this was the first episode I ever saw. Quite the turning point to enter on, yes, but man was it a swell springboard into the rest of the series. Watching Buffy's heart break over Angel's rejection -- and his abrupt transition into soulless tormetor -- was palpable. But this episode isn't all angst. The showdown at the mall with Angel, Drusilla, and the Judge is pretty epic.

#17: "Revelations"
Season 3, Episode 7
Written by: Doug Petrie
If you know me, you know I loved Faith something serious. And yet I also loved this episode, in which the most meorable line (spit by sinister watcher Gwendolyn Post) was "Faith, a word of advice: you're an idiot." Petrie did a great parallel story in which Faith and Giles allow their inferiority complexes (to Buffy and Gwendolyn, respectively) lead them to some foolish actions. Especially Faith, who allowed herself to be goaded into attacking Buffy, some nice foreshadowing of the season to come. Any episode in which the Scoobies finding out Angel's alive and Buffy's been hiding him is the third most compelling plot is doing something right.

#16: "Prophecy Girl"
Season 1, Episode 12
Written by: Joss Whedon
"So that's it, huh? I remember the drill. One slayer dies, the next one's called. I wonder who she is. Will you train her? Or will they send someone else? ... Does it say how he's gonna kill me? Do you think it'll hurt? Don't touch me! Were you even gonna tell me? ... I've got a way around it. I quit. I resign! I'm fired! You can find somebody else to stop the Master from taking over. ... Read me the signs! Tell me my fortune! You're so useful sitting here with all of your books! You're really a lot of help. ... Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die.


Jeff Hansen said...

Weird, I think "Innocence" was my first as well. The bazooka was such a great payoff.

beadgirl said...

Since (I'm guessing) "Normal Again" won't be in your top 15, do you mind explaining here why you don't like it? I know it is a polarizing episode, and I am always interested in what people think of it.

Melissa said...

The bits you quoted from Prophecy Girl get me every time. And SMG sold the hell out of all of it.

Joe Reid said...

Re: "Normal Again," I get why that episode fit the theme of the season, and it's not bad in the execution. it's just -- like much of that season -- unrelentingly grim. And they misplayed the ending badly, going for a cheap "what if...?" joke that instead made the fanbase lose their minds and assume the entire series didn't happen (and was continuing to not happen).

Tom said...

You don't like the episode that rendered the entire universe as a hallucination? Awe.

There is no "what if?" The "she's gone" part happened after Sunnydale Buffy was "cured." It was a dumb move.

Loved that Prophecy Girl quote. I used it, too.

Joe Reid said...

Well, that's what I mean, Tom. The whole episode was put together so poorly that it ended up invalidating the entire series accidentally. All for the sake of a cutesy tag.

beadgirl said...

Thanks, Joe. It was unrelentingly grim, and I found it horribly depressing, and yet it has stuck with me. I see it as something completely outside the rest of the series, an unusual alternate universe that did not just rely on goatees and vests and gimmicks but presented a truly different world. But man, was it depressing. I don't love it, but it sure as hell was effective.

Dale said...

Superstar is really one of my favourite comedy episodes, and probably in my top 15 epis overall. I adore the credits, and the way Jonathan posters (including one on Riley's door, which cracks me up for some reason) and references to his incredibility are scattered throughout the episode. And I love the way everyone seems to have a crush on Jonathan, from Anya and Karen to Giles, Xander and Tara. Plus, it's really interesting to see how Buffy, and to some extent most of the gang, were different in the alternate reality.

I have no idea why I focused on that one so much - I mean, I love Innocence and Prophecy Girl more - but whatever.

Anonymous said...

Joe now that the best episode countdown is over, I would love to hear what other episodes would make your top 5 least favorite.

Joe Reid said...

"Beer Bad." Assorted others.