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ONTD Original: Top Episodes with Powerful Messages from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Greetings, ONTD.
It's been a while. I'm back after an ONTD hiatus for the 11th installment of the ONTD Original Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Today, I'm doing an installment that reflects what I've needed over the past few weeks: Episodes with Powerful Messages.



Disclaimer: The ranking is my opinion, and my opinion only. <3 I love commenting back and forth, and I'm absolutely open to opposing views, but please be kind and respectful to each other. These posts are bringing me such joy in the middle of intense isolation, and I truly enjoy making these posts and commenting back and forth with my fellow Buffy fans. <3. That being said, let's jump in!

[The hardest thing in this world is to live in it]

7. (two episodes, same message)
The Zeppo (S3E13) & Potential (S7E12)


I know, I know. "But ummnothx, you don't like Xander!" Truth. I don't like his character, but the point of The Zeppo is one helps him become a bit more tolerable in my book. He's a "normal" guy with little to no abilities outside of a normal, clumsy human. He starts the episode feeling like the least special person in his circle who doesn't contribute. Everyone brushes him off because he's at risk of getting hurt (more so than his pals), and he ends up saving them all without saying a word, despite the absence of any super power. The scene where he walks away confidently from Cordelia and leaves her confused is absolutely epic. For someone who has always bashed Xander, I have to say I actually enjoy this episode.

I KNOW. "But ummnothx, Xander AND Dawn? What about your other posts?" Again, truth. Dawn is SUPES annoying in the fifth season, and I will never get over what a jerk Xander is. However. Upon my rewatches, I have to admit I've recognized their sides and struggles, and I've come to value them as characters. The lesson of this episode is that being 'told' you have potential, isn't the only way you become valuable or special. I love the mini-speech Xander gives to Dawn, and it rings true for so many people.

6. I Was Made to Love You (S5E15)

For a lot of people, this episode is gross and only serves the purpose of leading to the absolute saddest episode in the series. For me, this episode highlights the truth about the perfection we all think we want: it's boring. Warren builds his literal perfect woman. She does everything he wants, treats him like he's a God...and he leaves her for a 'real' girl. Katrina (his girlfriend) isn't perfect; she's got imperfect hair, she's opinionated, and likely doesn't worship him. The "perfect" robot girlfriend, April, is left alone despite doing 'everything right.' In juxtaposition to how Buffy felt she was toward Riley, I think it gave the message that even being the 'perfect' girlfriend sometimes isn't enough.

5. Helpless (S3E12)

Helpless was such a great episode. Not only because we got to see Buffy tell Travers to bite her, but because we saw Buffy learn that she's cunning. She's not just muscle, she can strategize and execute an effective plan without the super strength she's given as a slayer. She's put to the test and she passes. The test is archaic and horrible, but I think the message it sent to 12-year-old me when I watched it was, it doesn't take super powers to save the world. It just takes experience, willingness, and some(most)times, pressure.

[If I had friends, and they heard about this...]
4. Checkpoint (S5E12)

Checkpoint has some of the best moments of season five, in my opinion. Throwing a sword at the rude watcher, telling Travers off, the scene with Glory, the fight with the knights on the way to the Magic Box...all leading up to the lesson. The people around Buffy were lining up to break her down. She's their tool, she's weak, she has no control...and in the end, she learned that the people trying to break her down only want what she has: power. She learns that the people who are trying to tear her down are desperate, unhappy, and need her to give them something to feel better. GURL. Let me tell you, 14ish-year-old-me NEEDED this lesson.

3. Earshot (S3E18)

I have to admit, I have fluctuating feelings on this episode. Part of me goes to a place of them trying to push that popular, beautiful teenagers who mercilessly bully deserve sympathy because they're dealing with everyday problems 'just like you!' For me, the message is a bit lost in translation, but I attribute that to Buffy's interpretation that he meant to kill them all, and not himself. I wish there would've been more of a conversation after he disclosed the truth, but I think the message/lesson in general was absorbed (insert bumper sticker quote and me holding my gag reflex here): everyone you meet is fighting a battle, be kind. All jokes aside, it was a nice reminder that the absence of sound doesn't mean everything is OK.

2. Anne (S3E1)

Anne is an episode that grew on me. I didn't love it when it first aired, because it was not the Buffy I had known from seasons one and two. She was sad, disconnected, hiding, and avoiding her calling. I didn't like that. (I was also like 12 or 13, give me a break!) Over the years I've come to love this episode. Watching Buffy come to the realization that this is who she is, this is what she does, and the epic line, "I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. And you are?" before she knocks everyone out and the sass returns? Yep. The message I took from this episode is: you can't run from who you are. And if you do, it'll catch up to you. Embrace it and make it your b****.

[Must be Tuesday...]
1. Family (S5E6)

Ohhh, this moment. Personal note: as a teen, I came out to my family and dealt with the similar moment Buffy did in season two after telling her Mom she's the slayer. Initial shock, confusion/bargaining, trying to belittle it or write it off, and ultimately kicking me out of my home. Watching Buffy and her friends stand up for Tara and let her 'blood kin' know they're her actual family is a moment that ALWAYS brings tears to my eyes. Always. <3 The message that you aren't "stuck" with the "family" you're born into and you're able to build your own family as needed is the message I needed at that age. And I know so, so many folks on here can relate.


If you're interested in seeing the previous posts:
Post 1: Ranking 'Series Regular' Buffy the Vampire Slayer Characters
Post 2: Top 10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer 'Hellmouth' Metaphors for Real Life Struggles
Post 3: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Defense of Season 6
Post 4: Top 10 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes to Fight 2021
Post 5: The Fashion of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Post 6: Character "Best and Worst Moments" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Post 7: Top 20 Quotes/Lines/Dialogue Moments from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Post 8: Top 15 "Wee Little Baddies" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Post 9: Foreshadowing of Future Events in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Post 10: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Cast: Where Are They Now?


Sources: My brain, 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Tags: alyson hannigan, buffyverse / whedonverse, ontd original, sarah michelle gellar
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