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ONTD Original: Top 10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes to Fight 2021

Welcome back to the fourth installment of the ONTD Original: Buffy the Vampire Slayer chronicles. If you’re interested in reading the first three, look here, here, and here. If you already have, welcome back!

Hello again, lovelies! As always, I hope you’re having the most excellent day, and if you’re not, I hope to (again) distract you for a bit and make you smile. You might be asking yourself, “Didn’t I just see a Buffy post?” And the answer is, YES. Yes, you did. The feedback has been that people are really enjoying them + I thoroughly enjoy making them = so I’m making anotha one.

Today is ONTD member ladychips's request: Top 10 Episodes to Fight 2021.

These are my favorite episodes of Buffy that provide feel-good entertainment, demonstrate strength, resilience, and generally make me happy for various reasons. They’re ranked based on how much I love them, but I’ve listed season/episode numbers if you’re not able to remember off the top of your head like a total geek (AKA me).

DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions only. 2020/2021 have been horrible enough: let’s be courteous and respectful toward each other, yeah? (Not that anyone’s been rude so far, just always a good reminder)

Let’s jump right in.

10. Chosen (Season 7, Episode 22)

Season 7 is, admittedly, my least favorite season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For many reasons. Mainly Kennedy, but so, so many others. Even though it is my least favorite season, it does still have its moments. Case in point: Chosen. We can gripe all day long about the horrible CGI (especially on the remaster), the flimsy/fake looking Scythe, or the fact that Kennedy is in it, or the fact that Xander lives while Anya dies...but, let's look at some of the positives. It's a generally feel-good episode. We see Buffy get knocked down and almost give up, but when push comes to shove, she gets up and fights through the pain. She gets up, takes that flimsy Party City Scythe, and she knocks several Ubervamps off the ledge! She runs and jumps across the tops of giant buildings (that are somehow connected to the high school even though in earlier seasons, it's shown that it has wide open spaces around it), and then hops onto a bus out of Sunnydale as it caves in on itself. Then we get to see the look of Buffy glowing with happiness that she's no longer "the chosen one." She's now one of countless slayers. She doesn't have the weight of the world on her shoulders any more, she gets to be "normal." It makes me giddy for her every time!

09. Showtime (Season 7, Episode 11)

Ok, ok, I know. I just said Season 7 is my least favorite, and here we are with another episode from Season 7. But hear me out. This episode always gives me similar feelings to the next episode on our list. Watching Buffy go from being 'weak', having her butt kicked, and feeling hopeless and being extremely confident, fighting the Ubervamp and beheading it in front of the potentials who were doubting her? It gives me this feeling of, "YOU GO GIRL!" every time. The episode definitely isn't my favorite, because it has SO much of the potentials, but Buffy's strength and resilience really shine in this episode, and I just love it.

08. Checkpoint (Season 5, Episode 12)

Season 5 is pretty close to being my top favorite. This episode is one of the reasons why. Watching Buffy stand up to the Watchers Council, throwing a sword at one of them and calmly saying, "I'm fairly certain I said no interruptions", watching her beat the group of knights that jump her in the alley... all of the things. The scene of Buffy talking up her friends, Anya panicking, "Willow's a demon?!" The only thing that could've made it better would be Buffy fighting for a slayer salary, honestly. This episode just highlighted the importance of recognizing your power and strength, and standing up to bullies and evil dictators.

07. Family (Season 5, Episode 6)

This is one of those feel-good episodes of Buffy that just make you tear up and feel the love. Tara's family comes into town and shares that Tara's approaching birthday is the same age her Mother was when 'it happened', and claims that Tara's magic is rooted in a part of her that is demonic. Hijinks ensue, and Tara casts a spell to stop the Scoobies from seeing the demon part of her, causing any and all demons to be invisible to Buffy and her friends. They're attacked by a demon horde sent by Glory, and Tara comes in at the last moment to save the day. Tara's family shows up and notices the destruction, and tries to use it as reason to pull Tara back home to take care of her Dad and brother. Buffy and her friends stand up and tell them that though they maybe her 'blood kin', they'd have to go through Buffy, Dawn, and everyone else, because they're family. Also, Anya asks what kind of demon, and the family can't give an answer, so suspecting something sinister, Spike comes up and punches Tara in the nose causing his chip to fire in his brain, indicating she is 100% human. The episode is the one of the first times you really get a taste of Tara beyond being "Willow's girlfriend", and I really love it.

06. Homecoming (Season 3, Episode 5)

I had to include Homecoming for a few reasons. First, it was a Cordelia-heavy episode, which is a type we didn't get enough of. Second, it was an episode that focused on Buffy just wanting to do a 'normal' thing. We got a chance to see Buffy call Cordelia a vapid whore, we got to see Cordelia fight with a spatula, and plus, Buffy looks cute in a tiara (which we can only assume, because two nobody's won Homecoming Queen). This episode is a feel-good episode mixed with the strength and power that comes with confidence: Cordelia, a physically weak but secretly intelligent human (she got into Columbia??? COME THRU SIS.) threatens an angry vampire, insults him, and intimidates him into running away from her instead of killing her while Buffy is temporarily unconscious. The humor in this episode along with the demonstration of confidence are enough to get this one to #6 on my list but lets jump in to the TOP 5!

[Dawns in trouble? Must be Tuesday.]
05. Once More With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 7)

How ANYONE isn't absolutely in love with this episode, I will never understand. A musical demon comes to Sunnydale and causes everyone to begin singing and dancing. The price for things being so lovely? You dance and sing until you spontaneously combust. Vocal ability aside, hearing the inner thoughts of the characters and watching them be honest while singing and dancing? I am obsessed. The songs and jokes from this episode alone make it top 5 material. There are two pieces to this episode that made me like it less. First, that it was Xander who did it. Gross. Second, the demon wouldn't take him as his queen and rid the world of him? Ugh. I guess the demon really WAS evil. Either way, this episode sparks joy in me each time I watch it. The admission from Buffy to her friends that she was in heaven and they ripped her from it is devastating, but there's still just something about this episode that makes me so happy. Plus, Tara singing and being so gorgeous dancing around? In my re-watches, this moment has an even deeper impact on me, knowing what's coming at the end of Season 6.

04. Anne (Season 3, Episode 1)

This episode starts in a pretty dark place: Buffy, in Los Angeles after she fled Sunnydale following her expulsion from Sunnydale High School, being kicked out of her home, and having to kill the love of her life to save the world, has decided living in a rundown studio while waitressing is better than being the slayer. Going by her middle name, Anne, she comes across one of the vamp-worshipping weirdos from the second season (who goes by Lily now), who then clings to Anne and begs for help when her boyfriend goes missing. Buffy Anne decides to help Lily, and discovers something sinister is going on at a blood bank. A lot happens, and Buffy Anne ends up in an underground sweatshop where time moves differently, and people are worked to an old age while being abused and beaten down, and then thrown out on the street when they're too old. Buffy, the slayer, comes out and decides this isn't how she's going down. Watching this episode gave us the above, bad-ass screen grab of Buffy, along with watching Buffy realize the importance of being "her", and how much her destiny as the slayer matters to the world. For me, it was like watching her get her will to live back, and it was very inspiring.

03. The Prom (Season 3, Episode 20)

Class. Protector. End of explanation.
Just kidding. But seriously, this episode shows Buffy's resilience through a tough breakup. She puts everyone else's needs before her own despite her broken heart, and decides everyone is going to have a nice, fun, normal evening, if she has to kill every single person on the face of the earth to do it. When Buffy finally gets to prom, she is thinking it's just going to be a chill, solo night, but Jonathan (who the writers later RUIN) presents Buffy with an award as 'class protector', after sharing that the past year Buffy's been there has been the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class. They give her credit, and the award, and it brings a tear to my eye every time. Then Angel shows up and dances with Buffy to give her the prom moment she wanted, and it's just a feel-good episode for me.

02. Band Candy (Season 3, Episode 6)

Evil chocolate that turns adults into their immature, bratty teenage selves? Buffy being given the keys to her Mom's jeep so she can have sex with Giles? Twice? On the hood of a police car? I'll take it. This episode, aside from the whole concept of infant babies being gathered to be fed to a giant snake demon, was hilarious. Principal Snyder being outted as a giant nerd, Giles being a total douchey bad-ass, Joyce being desperate for approval and attention from Giles... it's just too good. This episode always makes me laugh. Watching Buffy be mature and bossing around Giles and her Mother, and the content of this episode providing the epic moment of Giles walking into a tree at the end of "Earshot"? Totally top 2 material.

01. Becoming (Part 2) (Season 2, Episode 22)

I know, this one might be surprising to a lot of you. How is this episode feel-good or inspiring of anything positive when Buffy gets expelled, has just found Kendra's body, got kicked out of her house, and has to kill her lover? Well, it all lies in the subtext of what's happening, for me. Sure, a lot of it sad and upsetting. But the moment in this screen cap redeems ALL of that for me, and then some. I know many, many people feel who feel this moment was Buffy at her most bad-ass. "No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what's left?" "Me." This moment literally got me through some of my hardest times in my life. When things get really bad, I do a season 2 re-watch. I don't care what it is--somehow, watching Buffy go through all of this and demonstrate the strength and power she does in that moment ALWAYS helps me get up, brush myself off, and keep it pushing.

Sources: My brain, 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

So, ONTD: what are some of your favorite episodes of Buffy to watch when you're having a bad day, or need inspiration? Are there any that truly inspired you by the message or strength one of the characters demonstrated?

Also: I'm open to ideas to continue the Buffy post series. As always, thank you for reading. <3
Tags: alyson hannigan, buffyverse / whedonverse, ontd original, sarah michelle gellar

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