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The Best Buffy The Vampire Slayer Episodes Ever! | LRM’s Top 5

Welcome to LRM’s Top 5, the new evolution of LRM Ranks It. This weekly column will be a hybrid written article with podcast support. Kyle Malone will still provide you with engaging multi-party debate on rankings, but occasionally guests will come in to write a compelling argument for their rankings. Be sure to engage us and tell us what’s on your list in the comments. 

Oh Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), how I love thee? Let me count the ways… Buffy the Vampire Slayer started out as a film written by Joss Whedon and was later turned into a great TV series by the same man. It ran for seven seasons, of which four are great, two are okay, and one is mostly bad, and broke barriers and glass ceilings before the CW was ever a thing and was woke in an appropriate and natural way. What do I mean by that last statement? I mean that it gave us strong women characters, sexually liberated women, LGBT representation, and more without attacking straight white males. I would bet the overwhelming majority of people that complain about Rey being a Mary Sue in the new Star Wars films have no problem with Buffy.

Check out last week’s Top 5 HERE

Buffy and the Scooby-gang (Buffy’s friends and helpers such as Xander (Nicholas Brendon), Willow (Alyson Hannigan, and Anya(Emma Caulfield) are near and dear to my heart. I recently finished rewatching the entire series with my wife and found myself noticing how well the characters were developed, that many episodes were expertly edited, and that there are a ton of mistakes left in the final cuts. The show is funny and heartfelt and still relevant today. Other than the clothing and lack of smartphones, the show is completely timeless. There’s been a recent comic book revival and there’s always someone trying to get a reboot, but it’s not needed. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a lot of great episodes, but these are my top 5…

5: Beer Bad (S04E05)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Beer Bad

This episode takes place early in Buffy’s college career and has a special guest star, Kal Penn. In it, Buffy, who was recently part of a one-night-stand with a man named Parker, joins a group of older super-smart students in drinking a special beer to help her deal emotionally. This beer is enchanted though and slowly turns the drinkers into cavemen, or in Buffy’s case a cave-woman. Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), Buffy’s Watcher, and Xander have to help rescue Willow and Parker who are taken by Buffy’s four drinking buddies. The cavemen start a fire and all are in danger. In the end, Buffy’s instincts as the Slayer take over and she saves the day.

The episode is hilarious and has some of the best banter in the series. The mystery of the beer and its enchantment is a good one, and you almost don’t know who’s to blame until it’s revealed. Cave-woman Buffy is funny and the message of jealousy, hurt, and revenge and what that does to a person is clear. It’s a great stand-alone episode and is a great introduction to Buffy’s college years.

4: Fear Itself (S04E04)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Fear Itself

Early on in Buffy’s adventures, we’re told the evil things that go bump in the night don’t like to do it on Halloween night because… well, it’s Halloween. A little too on-the-nose for the baddies. However, Buffy seems to always get into trouble on All Hallow’s Eve. In this episode, a frat house turned haunted house, goes horribly wrong when one of the fraternity brothers accidentally uses real magic to summon a demon. Buffy and the Scoobies get caught in a house where the fake haunted attractions are becoming real and their individual fears are manifesting.

We get great humor from Giles and Anya as they attempt to rescue Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz (Seth Green) from the haunted frat-house. Giles uses a chainsaw to make a door and Anya dresses up as the thing she finds most frightening, a bunny rabbit. However, the funniest part comes at the end when Buffy accidentally brings the fear demon into the real world and it turns out the image of it in a book is its actual size.

3: Pangs (S04E08)

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Pangs

Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn’t do an episode for every holiday every year, but in season four there’s a great Thanksgiving episode. It’s weird how many great episodes are in season four and it’s probably my favorite season, despite season three having the better overall story arch. I know many people who see the 3rd season as their favorite.

This episode sees Buffy wanting to have a fun and normal Thanksgiving, but it’s ruined by the spirits of some Native American’s seeking vengeance on the Sunnydale locals. Xander gets ghost syphilis, Willow sympathizes with the ghosts, and Spike (James Marsters) gets shot with a bunch of arrows. The funniest part is when the Native’s leader turns into a bear while fighting Buffy and Spike freaks out demanding she undo what she did. In the end, the Scoobies and special guest hero Angel (David Boreanaz) save the day and have their happy little Thanksgiving meal.

2: Once More with Feeling (S06E07)

I generally hate musicals. However, there are a few that I like and this episode is one of them. One of the Scoobies has accidentally summoned the demon Sweet (Hinton Battle), who wants to take his summoner to hell to be his bride. He causes the town to randomly burst into song and dance, but once you have nothing left to sing about you dance until you ignite and die in a fiery death.

The best songs are Spike’s and the duet by Xander and Anya. Spike really fights the urge to sing before giving in, which shows hilariously on screen through his body language. Anya and Xander do a great jazzy song about their nerves and their impending marriage. Sweet thinks Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) is the one that summoned him, but it was actually Xander. Sweet decides he doesn’t want Xander as his “bride” and lets the Scoobies and Buffy go. It’s a great standalone episode that delivers some major season plot points and has repercussions throughout the rest of the show.

1: Hush (S04E16)

Joss Whedon is known for his witty dialogue. His characters talk… a lot. You can see it in everything he does from Firefly and Buffy The Vampire Slayer to his Avengers films. He couldn’t possibly do an entire upside with no talking, could he? Well, he does 95% of an episode with no talking! Hush introduces us to The Gentlemen who are fairy tale monsters that have stolen all of the voices in Sunnydale, voices are deadly to them, and they intend to remove seven hearts to complete a ritual.

The episode deals heavily with the governmental force known as the Initiative and leads to one of their agents, Riley (Marc Blucas), running into Buffy doing the Slayer thing. Did I mention Riley and Buffy know each other from the college? There are numerous funny scenes with the Scoobies writing on whiteboards to communicate, Giles’ drawings to brief the gang on what the situation is, and some genuine horror when the creepy guys in the photo above cut out your still-beating heart and you can’t make a sound.

Conclusion:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show with a diverse story, diverse set of characters, and a diverse set of tones. It rarely feel stale, and only has one really poorly done season villain in my mind, and that’s Adam from season four. I’ve watched the show all the way through six or seven times, I think, and I’ll probably watch it another six or seven times before I die. Horror, comedy, character development, mythology, and world-building… what’s not to love?

Tell us your favorite episodes in the comments below and be sure to check out the LRM’s Top 5 Podcast to hear more from Kyle and his guest’s list.

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