#80: "I love you guys!"
6x19 - "Seeing Red"
This has a special place in my heart because, at that exact moment in time, Dawn reminds me totally of a good friend of mine who has been known to spout this quote with equal enthusiasm at seeming random instances. My relating aside, I love this because: a) it's cute; b) it's so nice to see somebody truly happy in this season, even if only for a second; c) it's funny as hell; d) it's a quick but effective insight into Dawn's view of her family; e) it's echoing my own excitement; f) given how the episode ends, it's unbelievably bittersweet.
#79: No Punchies
5x16 - "The Body"
I get warm fuzzies when I watch this for a variety of reasons. First, it's a muchly needed spot of quiet levity in an otherwise depressing episode (brilliant, but depressing). Second, it's a nice look at Willow and her relationships to the others. Since we've seen her, she's been a wreck, only barely held together by Tara. But when Xander and Anya enter things change, and when Xander needs her, she assumes a completely different role. Thirdly, it's a wonderful Willow/Xander moment, which I have the biggest soft spot for. Will knows just what Xander needs, and he knows her well enough to see exactly what she's doing and why and love her all the more for it.
#78: Joyce's Madness
5x09 - "Listening to Fear"
Joyce's ramblings in her room seem funny at first. She's raving and ranting to (seemingly) no one, and the words and delivery are kinda funny. For all of about two seconds, then it hits home how unspeakably painful this is for her daughters. Dawn lying in her bed in the next room, hearing everything all too clearly and trying unsuccessfully to block it out. Buffy downstairs, forced into being the grown-up and doing grown-up things like dishes while her mother's illness crashes down on her. Already our sympathy is immense for the Summers clan, but watching Buffy trying so hard to be strong and ultimately failing is just heart-breaking to watch. And poor little Dawnie. Beautifully crafted scene.
7x05 - "Selfless"
Anya in her pre-vengeance demon days. I really shouldn't have to say any more than that, but I will. These scenes were absolutely priceless, as we watch Aud cuddle with bunnies, discuss the virtues of sharing because it feels right and not for the exchange of goods and/or services, and realize that her directness and lack of tact is a trait she was born with, not just acquired by being newly human. We see pre-troll Olaf, watch Aud be recruited by D'Hoffryn, and the whole thing is grainy and subtitled to enhance the viewing pleasure. This glimpse into Anya's distant past was a treat, and just one of the reasons why "Selfless" was such a good episode. The only other thing I would've liked to have seen is a reason for Anya's rabbit phobia, but its exclusion is a small thing in light of everything else we got.
#76: "Who are you?"
7x07 - "Conversations with Dead People"
I must confess, I was worried for a few minutes there. The First almost had me thinking that Willow was in fact talking to Tara ... and then the scary suicide talk started. "So go! Be with her! Everybody will be safe and you'll be together again!" the First says, praying on Willow's intense loneliness for Tara and fear about her powers getting out of control again. And for the briefest split second there ... Willow thinks it sounds like a pretty good idea. I nearly cheered for her when she saw through the ruse and realized that the very last thing Tara would ever want is Willow to kill herself. This encounter, painful though it is, actually makes Willow a bit stronger, and although this too falls by the wayside in the glut of uninteresting things in the later half of season 7, the moment that Willow knows that she's not talking to Tara after all is powerful; a gripping mixture of hurt, anger, and more than a little fear.
#75: They Can Never Know
6x03 - "After Life"
Okay, didn't see that coming. Buffy was out of sorts, that much was obvious, but I chalked it up to the whole dead/resurrected/clawing out of grave extravaganza. Then this bombshell: Buffy was in heaven. And she didn't want to leave. This is, of course, the root of all the dark depressing stuff in season 6 which was more than a little hard to watch at times, however that in no way detracts from this twist. Making it even more moving is the fact that Buffy, despite being in a place far worse than any she's ever been, still wants to protect her friends, even though part of her is blaming them for doing this to her. It says a lot about the Slayer's character that they're still at the forefront of her mind, even if that sometimes gets lost and fuzzy along the way.
#74: The Death of Xander, Willow and Buffy
3x09 - "The Wish"
I love "The Wish", no doubt about it. Its like a DarkFic come to life, and I adore DarkFic. Everything we know and love about our gang is twisted and broken, and all the horror of the Wishverse comes to a head in this climactic battle. Buffy stakes Vamp Xander without so much as a passing glance. Vamp Willow is impaled and dusted by Oz. And then the Master snaps Buffy's neck. All in appropriately dramatic slow-motion with the swelling music that absolutely works. It doesn't matter that it's in an alternate universe and not real. When you're watching, it feels real. Then you thank The Powers That Be that Buffy never went to Cleveland.
#73: Goodbye to You
6x08 - "Tabula Rasa"
"Tabula Rasa" is great for a wide variety of reasons, not the least of which is how skillfully it manages to pull off two of the most depressing moments of the entire series: Giles leaving Buffy and Tara leaving Willow. Or perhaps I should clarify. It's not even how they leave, it's the fact that the rest of the episode is so damned fun that you actually forget that these crippling events are just right around the corner. When they inevitably happen, it makes the grief that much more pronounced. Adding in Michelle Branch and the fact that nobody says a word throughout this entire sequence, and an already upsetting moment is compounded. Like we really needed the help to feel sad.
4x20 - "The Yoko Factor"
This is the moment that the entire season has been building up to, and it doesn't disappoint. Every single fear and anxiety, every bit of hurt and uncertainty, it all comes to a boiling point in Giles' living room and the shouting match begins. Xander's feelings of inadequacy and being left behind. Giles' uselessness and depression. Willow's fear of rejection and her perpetual self-loathing. Buffy's need to be both supported and left alone, frequently at the same time. There's so much poured into this verbal sparing match as each friend turns on the other, and yet it never becomes too difficult to watch thanks to the ever-present humourous phrasing and, of course, an extremely drunk Giles. I don't know that I could say it was worth the season of tentatively connecting Scoobies for this moment, but it certainly helped make it better.
#71: Daddy's Home
6x21 - "Two to Go"
Willow is at the height of her dark mojo, admirably kicking every square inch of Buffy's ass. "There's nobody in the world with enough power to stop me now," she gloats, only to be blasted across the Magic Box by the last person anybody expected to see: Giles. "I'd like to test that theory," he says. Did you cheer too? Such an awesome entrance, quite possibly the best ever. Huge kudos to Mutant Enemy for keeping Tony Head's name out of the credits, making his appearance as much a surprise to the audience as it was to the characters.
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