10. Normal Again (6x17)
Taf: Another heartbreaker of an episode, and so effective — even though you’ve been watching the show for six seasons, at this point in the show it feels plausible that everything is a nightmarish hallucination.
Waffles: God, this episode is upsetting. Especially every moment with Joyce. Joyce coming back here stabs me in the heart. But yeah, um…. perfect episode.
9. This Year’s Girl/Who Are You? (4x15-16)
Waffles: “You can’t do that. It’s WRONG.” and variations thereupon are probably mine and Taf’s most quoted lines from Buffy. It is so good to have Faith back in these episodes. Her relationship with Buffy is, to me, one of the most interesting on the show and having her live in Buffy’s body is really the perfect way to examine Faith’s sort of muddled feelings of love and respect but also jealousy and bitterness when it comes to Buffy.
Taf: These episodes do a great job of deepening our understanding of Faith’s character while also moving her in new directions, setting her up for her awesome arc on Angel (and eventual return to this show).
8. Bad Girls/Consequences (3x14-15)
Taf: SPEAKING OF FAITH, how can you beat these episodes? You can’t! (Except by adding musical numbers to the show, I guess!) I love the wildness of the first episode, and then Faith’s vulnerability in the second even as you see the beginning of her slide to the dark side.
Waffles: It’s also interesting to really see the important differences here between Faith and Buffy. I always love getting to know other slayers (Kendra, Faith, Nikki, etc.) because all of them take on the responsibility so differently and provide such interesting context to Buffy’s character. Here, Buffy gives Faith’s approach a try and ends up in a police car in, like, 3 minutes. Soooo… interesting to see, but clearly Faith’s methods can have consequences (eh? eh? Get it? GET IT?)
Taf: Honestly, I hate you so much. Flames on the side of my face.
7. Surprise/Innocence (2x13-14)
Waffles: Aaaaand the winner for WORST BUFFY BIRTHDAY (but best Buffy birthday episode) is —-
Waffles: — this one! Not much to say, lots of character growth for Buffy in a really depressing sort of way……. She should never celebrate birthdays.
Taf: This gets me caught up in the romance and tragedy and etcetera of Buffy and Angel’s relationship in a way no other episode really does, and I just think Buffy is so wonderful and brave in it that I can’t even.
Waffles: Readers, we simply cannot even.
6. Villains/Two to Go/Grave (6x20-22)
Taf: We had to count these as one episode, because we wanted to fit them all in here and we couldn’t possibly choose between them. I know some people don’t love season six, but it’s one of my favorite seasons of the show and I think this final arc, which pushes every character to tap into parts of themselves it seems like they may have lost in the unremitting grimness that preceded, is truly wonderful.
Waffles: Yeah, this arc is probably the reason I so often forgive (or, more like, forget about completely) the misguided Magic=Drugs plotline of the middle of the season. What they do here is just much more interesting. And I love Willow. She does awful things and is a flawed character and not necessarily handled perfectly by the writers this season, but I love the dark place she goes to here and, like Tafadhali said, how it forces her and the people around her to really make some changes and face their issues. Also it makes me cry like a baby.