Jet Wolf's Top BtVS Moments

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#20: The Big Flamin' O
4x16 - "Who Are You?"

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"Hmm. How to talk about The Big Flamin' O without coming off like a huge lesbian?" I mused aloud. "Embrace it. Go with it. They did," my husband replies, proving yet again that he's a strange man. With this moment, Joss pretty much tosses aside any subtle implication that magic is often a metaphor for sex and starts waving a huge rainbow-coloured flag in our faces. The result could be tacky. In anybody else's hands, it very well may have been. Instead though, what we get is an extremely sensual moment that proves you can have whole bucket loads of eroticism with the most minimal of touches, and again makes me wonder how they were able to slip some stuff past the censors. This level of chemistry is uniquely Willow and Tara's, and its manner of presentation is uniquely Buffy.

#19: Standing
6x07 - "Once More, With Feeling"

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I've never sat down to figure out why, but something about music is able to elicit an entirely new range of emotions. It's like, things are so much bigger when sung rather than spoken. Sometimes just passages of music can give me goosebumps or bring a tear to my eye. If you add in just the right kind of voice, I can be reduced to a pile of mush within seconds. So, of course, Buffy has to do all of that at least once. "Standing" is hands down its biggest success. I'm not a big enough music expert to be able to tell you why it does what it does, but something about Tony Head's voice coupled with the subdued music, the pained lyrics and the way the sequence was shot with its slow-mo Buffy training as Giles moves around her in normal speed, it just works. If I'm feeling a bit under the weather, just hearing him sing this song makes me want to cry. I cannot think of any better way to illustrate not only how Giles views his current situation with Buffy, but how difficult a decision this is for him to make. Giles' love for Buffy shines in this moment, when he realizes he has to do what will break her heart. And of course, it all ends in typical Buffy fashion with a laugh to undercut all the emotion.

#18: Purple Means Royalty
5x16 - "The Body"

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As with so much of "The Body", it hurts so much because it's all so true. Every character reacts differently to Joyce's death, but every reaction is a real one and so true to the character. For Willow's part, she need something to latch onto, and it's as mundane as deciding what to wear to the morgue. She becomes obsessive about finding just the right outfit, pulling out practically her entire wardrobe in a desperate attempt to find just the right thing to wear, all the while getting more and more upset that she can't find the blue shirt that Joyce had liked. What also makes this scene so great is that throughout it all, you never lose the sense of Willow. With a moment like this, it would be easy to slip into the clichés, to have characters saying powerful, emotional things and sounding unlike they normally would. And you'd accept that, because it's an extreme circumstance, and people do act differently in different situations. But Joss knows his characters too well, and resolutely keeps their voice. So here, as Willow makes statements and observations that seem somewhat off and oddly-phrased, that's because underneath all that hurt, she's still Willow. That just hammers it all home all the more. And heck, it's been scientifically proven that there's no force on earth greater than Alyson Hannigan crying, and with those big ol' eyes spilling tears all over the place, an already upsetting scene becomes that much more. (I cheated a little bit on the clip, by the way -- it also includes moment #26, but it just didn't feel at all right to cut it out of the middle of the scene, so consider it a two-for-one special.)

#17: Bonded
4x10 - "Hush"

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We're as confused a Willow here, but you sure as heck know that something just happened. Something big and powerful, and not just in the "flinging a soda machine across the room" sense. That strange blonde girl from the Wicca meeting knows -- just knows what to do. She's tentative but firm as she takes Willow's hand, and then there's that spark as together they're able to do what alone they could not. Will and Tara connect here for the very first time, and nothing is ever the same again.

#16: Now Leaving Sunnydale
2x22 - "Becoming, part 2"

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Buffy's just lost everything. Her mother has thrown her out of the house, she's been expelled from school, her friends have been tortured, beaten and nearly killed because of her, and she's just had to shove a big pointy sword through the love of her life and banish him to hell. There's nothing left in Sunnydale for Buffy but pain and misery, so she hops on a bus out of town and doesn't look back. We hear several times throughout the series of how lonely the life of the Slayer is, how Buffy has to make the hard choices that nobody else can make. I think that this may be the only time when I really, truly feel it. At 17, Buffy has sacrificed absolutely everything that mattered in her life for the sake of the world, and to make matters worse, nobody knows and nobody can understand. There are several times when I don't like Buffy very much. She's self-righteous, self-absorbed, and often hypocritical. But then for every time I don't like her comes a moment like this when I marvel at her love and bravery. Which I'm okay with. Where's the fun in a perfect heroine anyway?

#15: Gachnar, the Fear Demon
4x04 - "Fear, Itself"

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God, when I first saw this, I thought I was going to start hacking up internal organs, I was laughing so hard. For straight-up, kick-you-in-the-groin funny, this is the Buffy moment. The entire episode has been so serious. Scary stuff is going down all around the gang. They're being tortured with their own fears and insecurities. They're trapped, scared and separated. They escape near death, only to rejoin in time to face the demon who's been causing all this pain and bloodshed ... Gachnar. They wait, trembling in terror as Gachnar makes his mighty entrance ... only to be Smurf-sized. In a heartbeat, this big bad scary thing becomes something to taunt and mock and squish. I could make an insightful and poignant comment here about the nature of fear and how it's really our own imaginations that give it the size and power necessary to dominate us, and how when you step back and examine the cause you see that it's something tiny and easily conquerable ... but then, that's not even remotely why this moment is here. It's here because it's funny. That tiny little voice proclaiming, "I bring the terror! I bring the FEAR!" while Xander openly teases it just way overshadows any other intended meaning. I so love Gachnar.

#14: "We're family."
5x06 - "Family"

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Family is one of the chief themes in season 5, and it's epitomized in this moment. A large portion of the episode has been spent establishing how the Scoobies really just don't get Tara. Buffy and Xander have no idea what to get her for her birthday, absolutely no one on earth (except Willow) gets her jokes, and as for Tara herself, she doesn't quite feel like she fits in. But when Tara needs them the most, the gang backs her up. They may not get her, but they're there for her all the same, just as they would be for anybody else. The line is drawn in this episode, clearly making the distinction between people who share your DNA and your true family, stating that in no uncertain terms they are not necessarily one and the same. That's a nice sentiment, and I love how this scene plays out, but that's not full reason why it's here. What really makes this moment for me is the fact that right then, the group of characters that will always and forever be the heart of the show for me come together. The Core of Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles. The addition of Dawn. The Scoobie-in-laws, Tara and Anya. And even Spike, who is noticeable in his hovering on the fringes and declarations that he doesn't care. This is the group of characters that I love, that worked better and felt more right to me than any other, and it was a special thing to have it encapsulated in a definable moment.

#13: "Your shirt..?"
6x19 - "Seeing Red"

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If you've made it this far into the list, then this shouldn't come as a surprise. Or, actually, perhaps it does, since you're probably expecting nothing but favourite moments, and this isn't really something that I'd say I'm happy about. But then, this is a Top 100, which isn't quite the same in my world. This moment ranks so high on pure, unbridled emotion. Nothing I have ever seen in media -- not books, TV, comics, movies, plays -- nothing has ever upset me as much as Tara's death. I've been sad when characters have died before. I've cried about them and for them. But I mourn Tara. I miss her like I would if she were a personal friend. When I first realized this, I came to know just how effectively Buffy had wriggled into my life and I hadn't even really noticed. I'm not sure if it could be counted as an advantage or disadvantage, but watching the episodes one after the other courtesy of downloads puts you in something of a different place than watching it week after week. For one thing, there's no waiting. Finish an episode, open the next file, simple as that. On the one hand, that's great because there's no torturous week (or weeks) waiting for the next ep to air. On the other hand, though, it means you don't really sit back and analyze where the story is going very much. You don't have to, because you can just open that next file. As a result, much as I probably should have, I never, ever saw this coming. I hadn't heard rumours of a character death, May wasn't approaching so I wasn't dwelling too much on what the season finale would be. I was just watching and enjoying the hell out of the reunion. And then ... Just like that, it was all over. Tara was gone and Willow's world was destroyed. I won't ruin a perfectly good future essay topic by going into my own reactions to her death and the controversy that it spawned. I will instead simply say that I love Tara. Months later, I still mourn for her. Depending on my mood, this scene either makes me sad or makes me cry like a little baby. And I think it speaks volumes for everyone involved, from Amber and Aly to the production and writing staff to Joss himself that I could care so damned much about people who don't exist.

#12: Romantic Evening
2x17 - "Passion"

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This moment is less about Jenny's death and much, much more about the unspeakably cruelty behind Giles' discovery of it. If you weren't sure before now, after watching this scene you have no doubt whatsoever that Angelus is a sick, evil creature. You can practically see him snickering with delighted glee as he pops open the champagne bottle and lights the candles leading to Giles' bedroom. You can see him standing back and arranging Jenny's body just right, so that the first thing Giles sees as he walks in is her cold, lifeless eyes staring up at him. There's so much tension in this moment, because as the hapless audience member, you know that this is all a trick, but poor Giles hasn't a clue, and every smile just makes it that much worse. His eventual discovery of the body is just perfect. The look on his face and the shattering champagne bottle say it all.

#11: I Will Always Find You
5x22 - "The Gift"

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It's a warm fuzzy moment, bottom line. I love how, in the midst of this chaotic, world-saving battle, everything just stops while Willow crawls on her hands and knees, hoping against hope that she has Tara back. This moment is so powerful. All the emotions that play over Willow's face, from hope to fear to joy. Tara, sounding more lost and afraid than we've ever heard and ever will again, sobbing at the horror she's been trapped in. This moment is all about the interplay of personal needs and emotions, and how even apocalyptic events can seem insignificant by comparison. It's a reminder of the things that make the world worth fighting for.

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Last updated: 1 January 2004.
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