So sometimes I re-watch episodes of Buffy. When I say sometimes, I mean a lot. Usually in order, although I might skip episodes based on mood or if they are just not my favorite. Generally the DVD gets popped in when I am going to bed and so I only watch the beginning, and then the next time I just move along to the next episode. I'm mid-season five right now, which can be a little emotional. In fact right now I'm deciding whether or not to watch the Body or just skip a few episodes. It's hard because it's such a brilliant episode with some of the best performances in all seven seasons, but it's so sad and intense. But I'm getting off track, what motivated this little post is the episode Checkpoint that I started a couple nights ago. In this episode the Watcher's Council (who fired Giles and Buffy later quit in season 3) has come to town because they have information on the season's big bad (namely that Glory is actually a god), but before they will share they are putting Buffy through a series of tests to make sure she's worthy. Just when you think that maybe Buffy isn't up to it, she pulls it together at the end to call them out on their own uselessness. Sure, she needs information from them, but who are they without her? Their whole purpose in life to watch and aid her (and her predecessors and successors, but until she dies, again, it's pretty much just her) so if she doesn't let them in, what do they really have going on beyond their books. It is a fantastic monologue where she stands up for her friends and yet again demonstrates her leadership. I love this scene, it makes me want to keep watching the rest of the season even though I know it is going to end with me in a pile of tears. So, I started thinking, since I have watched this a million times now what are my favorite emotional/empowering moments? And since I mentioned the Body at the top, I am going to throw out that I'm not including when people die. Those episodes are always handled well, and kind of go without saying. But what else makes me, as the internet would say, feel all the feels. (And I promise, I'll do a humor one some day soon that consists mostly of Spike moments)
1) Season one finale - Buffy learns she is supposed to die. Season one of Buffy is, well, less awesome than the rest of the series. It is not without its moments of entertainment, and if you start watching it after viewing the film, you'll probably find it to be a work of genius in comparison, but it's not the best. The season finale is when, in my opinion, we first glimpse that this is a show that could be something special. Also, Sarah Michelle Gellar is her usual brilliant self, tearfully laughing, and then adding in a way that pulls our heartstrings along with Giles & Angel's "I'm 16 years old, I don't want to die." With that, we remember what the show balances so well, that our supernaturally powerful slayer is also just a teenager.
2) Giles tells Buffy he is not disappointed in her after she has sex with Angel, causing Angel to lose his soul. It used to be that Becoming (the two part season two finale) was what killed me emotionally from this season, and I don't know if it's age or just what stands up on repeat viewings, but it is now this episode, Innocence that brings on the emotional overload. The episode is filled with gut-wrenching moments as Angelus taunts Buffy, but the best is the seemingly subtle end scene with Giles dropping Buffy off after they have defeated the Judge and assures her "But if it's guilt you're looking for Buffy, I'm not your man. All you will get from me is my support. And my respect."
3) Prom - Buffy gets a special award from the student body. This sets up the epic season three finale where the entire student body is armed to fight the mayor and his army of vampires by finally indicating that the students at least aren't completely oblivious to all the weird crap that is constantly occurring in Sunnydale. Or all the people that die. They give Buffy a class protector award as Jonathan's speech notes they have the lowest mortality rate of any class in Sunnydale history. (Can you imaging what prior years must have been like?). It's Giles (why is it always Giles?) that sums it up nicely, noting he had "no idea that children, en masse, could be gracious."
4) Buffy & Co. explain to Tara's family, that she is part of their Sunnydale family now. When Tara's conservative, paranoid, crazy family comes to town to take her back home - presumably to get her barefoot and in the kitchen - she is at a bit of loss as she doesn't quite feel at home with the Scooby gang yet. But this episodes brings her fully into the fold when they stand up for her at the end, realizing that her spell and lies were a result of emotional abuse and a need to protect herself, not anything malicious toward them. When Tara's father asks them who they think they are, Buffy responds with the simple but perfectly stated "we're family."
5) Checkpoint monologue where Buffy puts the council in its place. This is described in my introductory paragraph, and my favorite line (besides when she throws the sword at the guy's head as a reminder that she said no interruptions) is in reference to Xander when Buffy notes that " 'the boy' has clocked more field time than all of you combined. He's part of the unit."
6) One more from season five (a season that is just full of intense feelings, even more so than the uber-depressing season six), because I can't make a list about Buffy without a Spike moment or two. At the end of Intervention when Buffy pretends to be the Buffy-bot to make sure that Spike didn't tell Glory that Dawn was the key, Buffy realizes that while Spike is a creepy disturbed demon, he does seem to have some seem to have some actual feelings for her and has not betrayed her secret. She reiterates that the robot was creepy and not real, but adds "What you did for me and Dawn... that was real. I won't forget it."
7) Xander saves the world by telling Willow that if the world is going to end (at her hand), then he can't imagine any place he'd rather be than with her, his oldest friend. Of course it's Xander that is only person who can make Willow human again when her grief over Tara envelops her. Buffy's strength and Giles' borrowed magic were nice, but Willow had to make the choice to stop the destruction, and only Xander could remind her of who she really was. She was the girl who "First day of kindergarten. You cried because you broke the yellow crayon, and you were too afraid to tell anyone." But even though she's out to destroy the world now, he still loves her, which is what leads to her finally breaking down and crying over the loss of Tara. And opting not to destroy the world.
8) Xander tells Dawn how special she is, and even more so for doing all that she does despite not having super powers. Much like most Buffy fans, I can't stand Dawn in seasons five and six. This is nothing against Michelle Trachtenberg who nails the whole annoying little sister thing, I just found the character highly annoying. But as she grows up and becomes more capable (and when Buffy kind of lets her) in season seven, I am a much bigger fan. So much so that this scene following the realization that it is Amanda and not Dawn who is the potential slayer makes me tear up. Plus, Xander as the wise observer always gets me. He tells her "They'll never know how tough it is Dawnie, to be the one who isn't chosen. To live so near the spotlight and never step in it. But I know...I saw you last night. I see you working here today. You're not special. You're extraordinary."
9) Buffy gets kicked out of the house and on her way out gives Faith some advice. When the potentials and the Scooby gang vote Buffy out of her own house, I get so angry. I know they are scared and frustrated, but come on, she's Buffy. You ungrateful little twits. But even when she's down, she keeps trying, telling Faith on the porch "don't be afraid to lead them."
10) Since this is my list, I get to end with two things I love: season seven and Spike. From the tortured, crazed Spike seeing the First as all the villains from all the previous seasons in the opening episodes to Buffy lying and telling Spike she loves him before he dies to save the world, there are many great choices. However, it's this monologue when he tells us why he loves Buffy, that so perfectly highlights why we all love Buffy that is my favorite:
"You listen to me. I've been alive a bit longer than you, and dead a lot
longer than that. I've seen things you couldn't imagine, and done things
I prefer you didn't. Don't exactly have a reputation for being a
thinker. I follow my blood... which doesn't exactly rush in the
direction of my brain. So I make a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong
bloody calls. A hundred-plus years, and there's only one thing I've ever
been sure of. You... Hey, look at me. I'm not asking you for anything.
When I say I love you, it's not because I want you, or because I can't
have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are. What
you do. How you try. I've seen your kindness, and your strength. I've
seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand, with perfect
clarity, exactly what you are. You're a hell of a woman. You're the One, Buffy."
I should end this there, that would be a good choice, but I can't help myself. Here are a couple honorable mentions:
Oz not kissing Willow in the van while they are waiting for Cordelia & Xander to come back with the weapon because she is clearly still into Xander and he wants her to want to kiss him, not just get even with Xander for his Cordelia relationship. This is when we all fall in love with Oz.
Cordelia falls on the rod running up the stairs away from Xander & Willow's infidelity. I try to stop this episode before I get to this part. The earlier parts of the episode with Spike, Angel & Buffy makes this one of my favorite episodes ever (and "I may be love's bitch but at least I'm man enough to admit it" is my favorite Spike line, actually, my favorite line from the entire series), but I can't watch Oz & Cordelia come in to rescue Xander & Willow only to discover them making out.
Books read: 45
Coming soon: Sarah heads to Spain to audition for Operacion Triunfo, which is their version of American Idol. Given that she sings like the rest of us, it probably won't go well.