Full disclosure: Season Five has always been my least favorite season, but when it comes to a show like “Buffy,” it’s a bit of a blessing to rewatch formerly less-favored seasons, because I don’t know them all like the back of my hand. And this time around, I really enjoyed Season Five. Particularly the first ep on my (chronological) list of favorite Season Five eps! So with no further adieu…
As a fan, I find it remarkable that this episode is on my list. Because I used to loathe “Family.” It always confused me, that this ep was written by Joss Whedon, because among all the diamonds of “Buffy” writers, Joss is the Gem of Amara. Upon rewatching “Family” this time around, all of my confusion was lifted as I realized one simple fact: I was totally wrong about “Family,” in the past. This episode is freaking phenomenal. I think back in the day, this ep felt heavy handed to me. But a decade later, I think “Family” was simply ahead of its time, at least for my own naivete. Like back then, I didn’t realize just how awful people can be. The Maclay family unfortunately resembles a lot of the extreme intolerance that still exists, and I must say that while I always loved Amber Benson (and she is one of the most fan-friendly actresses I can think of, love her Facebook updates from Twitter), this time around, I truly fell in love with the character of Tara. She broke my heart all over the place in “Family;” it was one of those eps where my tears were flowing everywhere, in the way that I love. Plus! Amy Adams, before she was famous! And also! Floating Willow and Tara, due to all of the love and the happiness! And my own personal favorite scene: all of the Scoobies, including Giles and Anya, defending Tara, and watching Amber Benson realize that she’s part of the crew after all, beloved, and amongst – well, family.
Fool for Love
Even back in the day when I didn’t appreciate S5 as much as I should have, “Fool for Love” topped my all-time favorite “Buffy” episode lists. I mean, guys, not only is it SPIKE, one of the best characters of all time, anywhere, movies or television, but “Fool for Love” is All About Spike, and not just Spike, but William, and his poetry.com effulgence.
I can’t do this episode justice. I’m way too huge of a fangirl, like I was already a die (School?) hard Spike fan, but then Josh became possibly even a bigger Spike fan than I am, to the point of bleaching his dark hair so as to be Spike for Halloween. So now I’m completely Spike obsessed, and while I think my boyfriend could play Spike with authority, he was too young back in the ‘90s, and James Marsters kicked the shit out of that role. Dude was a total and complete rock star. Not just because Spike was so deliciously fun and evil, but because, thanks to Marsters’s chops, the Buffyverse really got to explore not just Spike, but William. And it doesn’t get much better for Spike fans than in “Fool for Love.” He is everywhere, all over the place – back in time as the lameass poet (whom I would have dug, to be clear), back in a different time, being ruthless, back in yet another time, spinning a big baton weapon on a New York City subway, and back here, in the present, in love with Buffy, and being totally freaked out by it. But still following his passion and heart, and leaning in for the kiss…only to be brutally rebuffed (TM Cher Horowitz) by Buffy, quoting Cecily, and foreshadowing Season Seven. Because Spike is beneath everyone, he thinks at his self-loathing core, underneath all of the peacock feathers and stolen leather jackets.
I almost didn’t want this on my list. Because it is SO. SAD. But the power of the ep that made me want to hide from it, is the power that gives it an undeniable spot on my desert island picks.
The first time I saw “The Body,” I was living on the third floor of my parents’ house, a little haven with a bathroom attached to the bedroom, and best of all, cable on the television. I’d taped “The Body,” and watched it when I came home from work? A date? I’m not sure. But I remember that it was later at night, and I was up all night, crying. Y’all know I love my television and movies that make me cry, but normally it’s a catharsis within the viewing. Not with “The Body.” That episode ripped my heart out from the jump, and continued to rip my heart out even harder, afterwards. Even today, after having watched “The Shield,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Hostel” both I and II, I think that “The Body” is one of the most devastatingly effective pieces of art that I’ve ever witnessed. I could go on, but I kind of don’t want to. This episode is too special.
The finale of Season Five is possibly my favorite “Buffy” season finale ever. Which is saying a LOT, because there are few things awesomer than a “Buffy” season finale.
But “The Gift” is – I don’t have a proper adjective. I’ve already said “spectacular” and “awesome,” and assorted other words of fan praise. I don’t have any others that could do “The Gift” justice.
In retrospect, now that I think about it, I think S5 is my least-favorite season because I didn’t particularly love my life, back when it aired. After reminiscing over watching “The Body,” a few things are coming back to me more clearly. I also vividly remember watching “The Gift” in aforementioned third-floor bedroom, and when it ended, my jaw had dropped hard in a way that it hasn’t done since the S1 “Revenge” finale.
“Buffy Anne Summers 1981-2001. Beloved Sister, Devoted Friend. She Saved The World A Lot.”
And “The hardest thing in this world, is to live in it.”
Sob. Love. O(S?)mg.