Buffy goes art house! Season 7 was a bit hit and miss, but Conversations with Dead People was one of the few major highlights of the season. Each of the main characters are visited by The First who takes the form of a dead person they once knew. Buffy has an honest sit down conversation with an ex-student who is now a vampire, Willow gets a visit from a girl who died a few episodes earlier, and Dawn has the most bizarre visit of all, with The First appearing as her Mother during a group of very creepy hauntings while Dawn is home alone.
Spike had a fascinating history, and we saw glimpse of it in this episode. Not only was this a great insight into his past, but it was also the start of what would eventually be a close but messy relationship between Buffy and Spike. They could have made a whole movie out of this.
Xander casts a love spell on Cordelia which backfires and makes every woman in town fall in love with him instead. They could have played this safe, but they actually went all out in this episode with Willow chasing Xander with an ax, Buffy getting turned into a rat and even Buffy's Mom lusting after Xander when he tries to find sanctuary in her home.
What a hilarious concept for an episode! The adults of Sunnydale revert back to acting like teenagers when the town starts eating some new [and suspicious] chocolatete bars that clearly have a secret ingredient not listed on the back of the wrapper. The sight of a rock n' roll bad boy Giles and a vandal happy gum chewing Joyce Summers is something you'll only ever see once in this series, so this episode is a must!.
Joss Whedon goes for a much more realistic style of direction in this episode, when Buffy has to deal with the consequences of finding her Mother dead. The deafening silence of the episode [which features no music whatsoever] is very powerful and makes the entire experience the characters go through that much more effective.
05 When She Was Bad [Season 2]
Buffy comes back from summer vacation and it seems like she has a few unresolved issues after dying [and coming back to life] at the end of season 1. Unfortunately for everyone around her, they have to deal with her rather nasty and unpleasant attitude. Other than her bipolar character turn in season 6, you won't see Buffy as far removed from her usual self as you do in this episode. Buffy's a bitch!
The town of Sunnydale have their ability to speak taken away from them when a group of creepy floating fairytale demons come to town. Buffy and friends have to try and find a way to solve the mystery behind how to stop the creatures, all while awkwardly signing/miming their way throughout the episode. The scene where Buffy motions using a stake, but looks like she's masturbating makes the episode worth it alone.
In my opinion, this was the funniest episode from the whole series, and there were many of those, so that says a lot. Buffy goes to college for the first time in season 4 and finds herself sharing a dorm room with the most annoying roommate on Earth. She borrows Buffy's clothes, eats Buffy's food and is constantly listening to Cher's "Believe", much to Buffy's horror. The Scoobies think Buffy is starting to lose her mind when Buffy announces she wants to kill her roommate to end the torment, but later it's revealed that the roommate is in fact a demon, which Buffy is more than happy to use as an excuse to destroy her.
From a direction point of view, this was the best thing we ever saw in the series. Joss Whedon goes all David Lynch as he weaves in and out of characters dreams as they recieve prophetic messages from a dark figure that stalks them in their sleep. The weird moments and fantastic transitions between worlds are perfectly executed, i also love the confrontation between Buffy and the first Slayer during the last part of the episode. The visuals are hypnotic, but the interesting use of music and sound in the episode also adds to the strong eerie atmosphere of the dream worlds the characters encounter.
I know technically i'm cheating with this since i've included both episodes in the #1 spot, but if i had to choose just one side of this epic 2 part finale, it would be part 2. I figured i'd write about both of them since they work best as one long double episode anyway.
It doesn't get any bigger in terms of "wow" moments for me in Buffy than it does with Becoming parts 1 and 2. From the death of Kendra, to Angel's plot to open the gates of hell, through to Buffy being framed for murder and eventually taking Angel head on in a battle to the death, it's like a mini movie!. While part 1 builds up the momentum to part 2 perfectly [especially with Kendra's death], it's part 2 that brings it all full circle.
I'm sure every fan who watched this back in the day remembers how tense the lead up to Buffy and Angel's confrontation felt. It was even more shocking when Angel's soul was finally restored thanks to the Willow's magic, only to have Buffy still need to kill him to close the portal he already opened. It was the most dramatic the series got at the time, and the cinematic feel of the story showcased how capable the series was at telling really great epic stories.
Prophecy Girl [Season 1]The Gift [Season 5]
Witch [Season 1]
Tabula-Rasa [Season 6]
Wrecked [Season 6]