Y’know how there’s that stuff that makes watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer worthwhile? This is really and truly not it. Just like our Best of… List, The 31 or so Things About Buffy That Make Us Want to Hurl are presented to you with no regard for order whatsoever.
Amanda: This episode sticks out as particularly bad, because it’s the one episode I initially missed from Season One. It took moving across the country, near someone who had it on tape, before I ever saw it. By then, it was season three, and so many good things had happened that “Nightmares” seemed particularly heinous. The special effects, to be specific, were terrible. The guy with the big club hand? Laughable.
The Anointed One (S1-2)
Melynee: In a word, he was ineffectual. He was an accessory for The Master, and filler until Spike and Dru could come on the scene. For a single episode he would have been okay. But because we had to look at him for portions of two separate seasons – during which he never got anything done, as if he was the only remaining figure in a storyline that got abandoned – the character was left, pardon the expression, hanging.
Buffy Killing Herself (“The Gift,” S5)
Amy: I hate this scene with a fiery fucking passion. I hate it, because it made NO SENSE. It is not some selfless act that Buffy did, it’s the most selfish thing that she could have done. In flashbacks, they bring up the whole “Summers Blood” BS that never felt right. Then Dawn is bleeding, and Buffy jumps off the tower because the portal won’t close until the blood stops flowing. Except, Dawn is still bleeding when Buffy dies – so that made no sense. But more than that – Buffy has now left Dawn without a mother or sister, and left the world without a Slayer. She wasn’t saving anyone, except herself a little pain. It’s so stupid. They want to kill off Buffy – fine, then do it for a believable reason, not just for the tearjerking quality. And damnit, do it right.
“Hell’s Bell’s” (S6)
Michelle: They have done many inexcusable things to our beloved characters and their loyal viewers in the name of “drama” over the years, but this was truly mortifying-from the overkill dresses to Anya’s “I finally know how to love” speech when you just know her heart’s going to get stomped on, to Xander’s handling of the situation. Mortifying. Has anyone on the Mutant Enemy staff had a decent relationship? Methinks not.
Amy: There are so many things that bother me about this episode: the anti-climacticness of finally meeting Xander’s family, Dawn’s oh-so-perfectly timed “Xander’s gone” line, the horrific dresses. Oh, and of course, Xander actually marrying Anya. However, what upsets me the most is the utter lack of friendshippy goodness in the whole thing. Xander’s pretty much left to fend for himself as Willow makes googly eyes with Tara. I don’t care if there are rekindling sparks going on, she was his supposed best friend, and she should have been with him. Willow knew what his family was like and she should have been next to him to hold his hand and be his confidant. There’s nothing like that, and the whole episode just irritates the hell out of me.
“When you kiss me, I want to die” (“Reptile Boy,” S2)
Amanda: I was never a big Buffy/Angel fan, and part of that was because it was so dramatic. A vampire in love with a slayer! This scene, where Angel tries to convince Buffy that he’s bad news, and she tries to convince him that she doesn’t care, seems clumsy to me coming so late in the relationship. By this time, Buffy has had many episodes to learn just how evil Evil really is. She knows what Angel could do, without a soul. Angel’s just protesting to keep the angst alive. Bah.
David Boreanaz’s Irish Accent (“Amends,” S2, and various)
Melynee: “Amends” is a great episode (excepting David’s moustache), but somewhere a dialect coach has keeled over on her couch in shame.
Michelle: “I want to show you the world”? What the hell kind of schlock is that? Oh, right. The kind of schlock that had Dawn wielding a sword like a slayer, wasted Giles’ return, and had Willow going all evil and deciding to end the world’s suffering by raising a spire so phallic the snake from Doublemeat Palace blushed. That kind.
Willow and Anya in “Triangle” (S6)
Amy: While I’m no fan of Anya (for those who hadn’t noticed), Willow bothers me far more here. What ever happened to the girl who I (over)identified with, who drew me in and kept me watching week after week? She’s gone, replaced by a spiteful, mean spirited girl. This episode is pretty much the point of no return for me: Willow (as well as Xander, Buffy, etc) has become a shell of her former self, and there’s pretty much no chance of seeing that former self again.
“Where the Wild Things Are” (S4)
Michelle: I wish I could like this episode, I do. It was one of the rare Season Four episodes where Xander got something to do besides talk about having sex with Anya. Granted, it wasn’t much more to do, and maybe that’s why I just can’t do anything but despise this episode. I just. I just can’t ever imagine a time when “Hey, let’s have Buffy and Riley have lots and lots of sweaty, heavy-breathing sex” ever seemed like a good idea. Seriously. Hopefully other TV shows can learn from this mistake. If you’re not clear on the lesson, let me spell it out for you: when your star has to go host SNL, find another way. Please.
Amanda: Buffy and Riley going at it like rabbits really bothers me. Okay, sure. This happened a lot. But this time they are forced to have more and more sex so their energy can feed a bunch of poltergeisty children. I will never forget the first time this episode aired. I was at the gym. I had lifted weights, and it was time to run on the treadmill. I begged one of the gym managers to change one of the TVs to Buffy. It was a small gym, so everyone else working out on treadmills or stationery bikes knew that I was the one who requested it. And then it was like porn. Everyone turned to look at me. It was awful. So was the episode.
Melynee: Buffy fights, Giles Watches, Willow magicks, and Xander…lends support; much has been made of Xander’s lack of fighting ability. When a show is based on the premise that the helpless, blond victim turns the tables on the creatures of the night, it’s only fitting that there is a corresponding non-triumphant boy. Xander, however, seems to have devolved as the show has grown; whereas in Season Two he stood up to baddies (and Angelus), did some pinch-hit patrolling, and threw several creditable punches, by the time Season Four rolled around he was left cat-fighting with Harmony. While it made for good comedy, it’s been depressing watching a show intended to subvert stereotypes fall back into them, even if the players have changed.
“Dirty Girls” (S7)
Michelle: They introduce a last-minute character who is so over-the-top evil all you can do is laugh. And not in a good way. They continue to squander the last few episodes by not accomplishing anything and they do such a poor job of killing off some of the annoying potentials that it’s not even worth it. Bah.
General Exposition (“Spiral,” S5)
Amy: Oh Marti, Marti, Marti. When the producers and writers give a record number of interviews in a season to explain what the hell is going on plotwise, it is not the audience’s fault. Nor is it our fault that y’all did such a piss-poor job of developing a strong storyline that you needed to drop in General Exposition a few episodes before the finale to explain the entire Glory and Knights backstory. Generally it’s a good thing to have this stuff established way before the end of the season, without the monologue of some random guy. I’m just sayin’.
Michelle: Horses. Ill-defined literal knights on horseback. A crappy Winnebago. A crappy fight on top of and around said crappy Winnebago. Ben. There was no good here.
Michelle: Stupid snow.
Willow And Tara Move A Vending Machine (“Hush,” S4)
Amanda: I do not hate this moment because it signaled the beginning of Willow being Gay. I hate it because it turned The Bronze Internet community into someplace I never wanted to go again. The message board was flooded with homophobes, swearing they would never watch the episode again. It was all anyone could talk about. “Willow’s going to be gay!” they said, even though, as indications go, this was a weak one. I hated this moment because, for once in the Buffyverse, speculation was ugly, and not light-hearted. And, yeah, if Willow was Gay, then she wasn’t going to end up with Xander.
“Bad Eggs” (S2)
Melynee: Not awful, just – nothing work making television out of, plus some truly unfortunate dialogue. No one can say, “Well, alright sugarlips. Giddyup,” and get away with it.
Amanda: Where do I start? Kendra was a character without a purpose. No, really. Before you start telling me that Kendra is the evidence that a new slayer is activated when the old one dies, thus resulting eventually in Faith, let me say my piece. Kendra’s only job, originally, was to be a plot twist in “What’s My Line, Part 1.” She’s not evil, she’s a slayer! Once we knew the truth about her, she got boring really fast. Did anyone really care when she left town with her embarrassing accent? Of course not. Did anyone really care when she died? Of course not. I, personally, was too worried about poor Willow under the bookcase. Kendra was denied a good death scene – rumor has it, they couldn’t get a decent stunt double for the fight with Drusilla – but that’s not the only thing that wasn’t good about her. Try everything.
Melynee: She wasn’t necessary, for plot, or style. Joss should have just skipped to Faith and been done with it.
Michelle: They totally and completely destroyed what could have been a compelling storyline for Willow in one bad, evil, really stupid episode. Hey, that would be this episode!
The Class Protector Award (“The Prom,” S3)
Amanda: I liked Sunnydale better when evil was a secret. I liked it better when Buffy and the Scoobies had to keep the saving of the world on the down-low. When Jonathan presented Buffy with the class protector award, it was (at first) cool to know that everyone wasn’t as deeply stupid as we had thought. But then I thought about it. And it meant that mankind was RIDICULOUSLY stupid, because people realized what was happening and they waited for someone like the slayer to solve the problem for them. Also, I’ve always thought Buffy needed to suck it up about her destiny. This gave her ammunition for pity parties farther down the line.
Michelle: Naked Spike screwing naked, invisible Buffy but pretending to do naked push-ups when Xander entered the room. Stupid all-invisible people fight. Stupid in general.
Amanda:The show sunk to new lows with the sexual nature of Spike and Buffy’s relationship. It was crude, and often unnecessary, and moments like this felt as if they existed entirely to test the censors on a new network. I remembered when the show didn’t need this shit to be good.
Buffy and Spike Outside the Doublemeat Palace (“DoubleMeat Palace” S6)
Amy: I know a lot of people have issues with the implausibility of all the Spike/Buffy sexual positions – especially the scene at the Bronze. But this one bugged me far more – I just. eh. It makes me itchy in so many bad ways.
Melynee: John Ritter is creepy. Not good, adrenaline-inducing, leave-the-lights-on creepy, just uncomfortable-to-watch creepy. Kudos to you, man, for getting past Three’s Company, but, yick.
Typical Teenaged Dawn (S6)
Amanda: I did not hate Dawn when she was first created out of a ball of energy and inserted into the show. I thought I would. But then she had a crush on Xander, and I thought, ‘Oooh! I had a crush on Xander, too!’ so I was willing to deal with her. Until she started stealing things, and rebelling, and acting like a brat. Of course, I was a bratty teenager, too. Dawn, though, couldn’t be bratty about the right things. She WASN’T REAL. Angst over that was deserved, and sometimes touching. Angst over not being as cool as Buffy? Less deserved. Because again, NOT REAL. Plus, again, Dawn took precious screen time away from people I liked much, much better.
“Once More with Feeling” (S6)
Amy: Ho-fucking-hum. I know I was supposed to be all excited and thrilled with this, and maybe I would have been far more open minded if I wasn’t bombarded with interview upon interview of Joss patting himself on the back. Sure it’s an accomplishment, but if he’d spent a little more time developing a storyline instead of talking about how fan-fucking-tastic he was for writing a musical episode, just maybe I could see past the glaring problem with the episode: it’s little more than a Deus ex Machina. The plots were trodding on slowly so Joss figured he’d speed ’em all up by having everyone announce all their feelings instead of actually developing them in a timely manner. And to have it be Xander’s fault – Xander! Who has seen enough spells go wrong not to try something like that. Bah, I say, bah.
“The Killer in Me” (S7)
Michelle: I really, really hate the character of Kennedy. I do. I really, really hate that Willow always has to have somebody. I really, really hate that they brought back Amy the rat for this. I really, really hated this episode. Which is kind of too bad, because the guy who played Warren was really good here.
Melynee: Like The Anointed One, Adam was left stranded. Not demon, not human, not robot, the character was both literally and figuratively thrown together, and there’s no way this can make for a compelling Big Bad.
“Lies My Parents Told Me” (S7)
Michelle: Do I give a crap about Spike’s life? Especially stupid, poorly-written, revisionist crap like this? The answer, in case you were wondering, is no.
Willow Catching Xander And Cordelia Kissing (“Surprise,” S2)
Melynee: This isn’t a bad-bad moment. But when I watch Willow tell Xander, “You’d rather be with someone you hate than be with me,” I have to turn away.
Xander Talks Down Evil Wicca Willow (“Grave,” S6)
Amanda: This should have been a moment that brought me back to the fold. Why didn’t it? Because it was a little too little, a little too late. By season six, Willow and Xander barely talked to each other. They were not best friends. They were not confidants. They didn’t know what was going on in each other’s lives, they didn’t talk about how important their lovers were. Willow was on the verge of taking out the entire world, so deep was her pain from the loss of Tara. And I’m supposed to believe that Xander can kiss that and make it all better, just because they used to be close five years ago? Uh-uh.
Amy: I couldn’t have said it better myself.
“The Weight of the World” (S7)
Michelle: Heavy-handed schlock that didn’t really advance the plot and was a waste of time. Like almost all of Season Seven.
Jenny’s Technopagan Line (“I Robot, You Jane,” S1)
Amy: I really can’t explain why this bothers me so, but it does. I’ve hated it since the first time I heard it, and it continues to make me itchy in repeats. It reminds me of something an “I just picked up Spiral Dance and now I’m an authority on Witchcraft” chick would say. And it really makes me want to slap her.
Xander’s Eye (“Dirty Girls,” S7)
Melynee: Each week, when they show “Previously on Buffy…” I expect this moment to show up. And each week, I make an involuntary noise somewhere between a gasp and a moan.
Amanda: Admittedly, I had far less invested in Buffy by the time Glory came around. The show, and its characters, just weren’t as special to me. However, Glory was like the nail in my fandom coffin. Just the sound of Claire Kramer’s voice was enough to make me turn off the TV. Glory’s dialogue – about shoes and cute dresses and looking pretty – often reminded me of bad Cordelia lines, circa season two. It was like they recycled her character, and made her evil and annoying. (Hey. Didn’t they do that this season on Angel?)
Melynee: My feelings about Glory are so emphatic that I need to limit myself, or I’ll be here all day. Basically, I can’t understand why a show with possibly the most complex, conflicted, funny heroine on television to date can fail so spectacularly to have a solo female villain. (I don’t count Willow here; sticking a baddie in for the last three episodes of the year does not a Big Bad make, even if she is trying to end the world.) And when it finally does get one, she’s not only written to embody the very preconceptions the show was created to undermine in the first place, she’s unstable, to boot. Glory’s irrationality may have been intended to keep her actions unexpected, and I can only hope someone thought her petulance and obsession with her appearance was somehow doubly subversive, but she came off as weak, offensive, and most disastrously, uninteresting.