A Good Slay: The best episodes of ‘Buffy’ for a rainy day (Part 1)

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1:45 pm EDT, June 17, 2014

There is no denying that I am a TV addict. I have watched dozens and dozens of shows from start to finish, often binge-watching for hours at a time. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favorite series of all time. There are other shows I watch religiously and get so invested in that it hurts – Star Trek, Supernatural, Grey’s Anatomy, Merlin, Game of Thrones (trust me, the list is shameful). But it always come back to Buffy.

I didn’t actually start watching until after Buffy had already ended. I found Angel first (in its final season) and worked my way slightly backwards. Before DVR, before instant streaming, I waited patiently for Netflix to send me each disc, season by season. After watching the whole series, I saved little by little to buy the box sets one by one. I have watched this series front to back at least half a dozen times, not to mention the favorites that I have watched over and over when I’m feeling nostalgic.

Too many lists exist that try to rank the best or worst of Buffy – I have no desire to add another. But I thought it might be fun to share the episodes that I think are the most fun to rewatch when you are craving a reminder of why this show is one of the best. This doesn’t mean the most well-written or dramatic, with the most plot twists or sob-inducing scenarios. These are just episodes that are enjoyable, which I feel stand up to multiple viewings. There is always a joke you didn’t catch or a detail you didn’t notice – I’m never bored no matter how many times I watch these. They are also simply in chronological order, with no attempt to judge one over the other in any way. To me, this show is perfect in its entirety – hook, line, and sinker.

All of the GIFs were made by me for this article, feel free to do anything with them that you like. You are welcome to credit me, but I don’t mind at all if you don’t. I will also admit to having my biases just like anyone else, which influence this list. I love Spike and Angel, while I the-opposite of love Xander and Dawn. I regret nothing, but my favorites are often Spike-heavy and you will never see a Xander-centric episode anywhere. Please enjoy and I would love to talk to you in the comments about how much you also love Buffy, because why would you be reading this otherwise?

By the way, I know that “Once More, With Feeling” isn’t on here, but that’s just too easy, isn’t it? We all love it forever and always, no arguments.

1. ‘School Hard’ (season 2, episode 3)

I’m a sucker for Spike, bad or slightly less bad. So the first appearance of William the Bloody had to kick off this list. And with Spike comes my favorite unhinged vamp, the deadly and demure Drusilla. The chemistry between James Marsters and Juliet Landau is mouthwateringly macabre and one of my favorites in the entire Whedonverse. Buffy tries to fend off Principal Snyder at Parents’ Night, Spike has a touching reunion with his Yoda, and even Joyce kicks some ass. The episode wraps up with Spike turning the Anointed One into a crispy critter and promising less ritual and more fun.

2. ‘Halloween’ (season 2, episode 6)

And so begins a wonderful tradition of everything going tits up on Halloween. Ethan Rayne blows into town with a bag of tricks and his trademark cocky attitude. This is a bad guy who everyone loves to hate and who never actually seems to get ahead, always hightailing it out of town by the skin of his teeth. I never fail to chuckle at a helpless Buffy ranting about low apparel or Cordelia sassing around in her catsuit. Ethan isn’t the only character we get our first glimpse of in this episode – keep your eyes open for the late Larry and the kaleidoscope coif of Seth Green as Oz.

3. ‘What’s My Line’ (season 2, episodes 9 & 10)

Fine, picking a two-parter is cheating. But only this once, I swear. The Order of Taraka trying to kill everyone really gets in the way of ice skating, job fairs, and finding something in the berry family. But somehow Angel still finds the time to be shirtless and covered in sexy wounds, not to mention Willow and Oz finally connecting in an explosion of animal crackers and cute. I also cannot help but love Kendra, iffy accent and all. Watching her nerd out with Giles while Buffy pouts is a scene to treasure. Oh, and Cordelia makes out with Xander.

4. ‘Faith, Hope & Trick’ (season 3, episode 3)

At this point in the list, I’m realizing that I may be a sucker for first appearance episodes. Enter one of Buffy’s most beloved alumni – Faith. I’m also a sucker for Mr. Trick, because Sunnydale really isn’t a haven for the brothers. Faith brings with her a skanky psycho energy I can’t help but find endearing. Combine it with her penchant for brutal honesty and an immunity to shame, and it’s a recipe for hilarity. And Buffy isn’t fooling anyone with that nonfat yogurt line.

5. ‘Band Candy’ (season 3, episode 6)

This is definitely one of the episodes I have rewatched the most. There are few things in this life more amusing than a smoking, cursing, lady-killing Giles. I don’t actually have an overwhelming love for Ethan Rayne, but I can’t deny that his visits coincide with some of the funniest situations the gang ever gets tangled up in. I do, as it happens, have an overwhelming love for Joyce, and her reversion to ditzy teenager in this episode is nothing short of priceless. And bravo to Jane Espenson for making Principal Snyder genuinely likable in this episode. Summers really does drive like a spaz.

Check in next week for part two!

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