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The 22 Best ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Episodes

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*credit to Entertainment Weekly for the cover photo*

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show which occupies a unique place in both pop culture and television history. While it began its life as a second-tier, mid-season replacement on the struggling WB network, by the end of its life cycle it would be home to one of the most ravenously devoted fan bases on the planet.

Buffy, like The X-Files, was a cultural touch point that helped to pave the way for horror to become a genuine successful television genre outside of anthology shows like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. Instead of going for the all or nothing horror of those shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer opted for a focus on characterization, and an increasingly well-established world where it really felt like almost anything could happen.

Through its deliberately subversive writing, its relentless questioning of social and storytelling tropes, and its talented cast, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has stood the test of time for 22 years as one of the best reviewed and most beloved television shows of all time.

With that in mind, we’re here to catalog the 22 best, most representative, and most essential episodes of Buffy across all seven of its seasons. Obsessives and newbies alike will find plenty to love in our collection of the best Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes below.

The Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes:

22) “Prophecy Girl”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is by far it’s most hit or miss collection of episodes. With several downright silly episodes (“The Pack”, “I Robot, You Jane”) and only a few that are stand-outs (“Welcome to the Hellmouth”, “Angel”), season one can make for a tough entry point for outsiders and newcomers.

Still, Buffy’s showdown with The Master in the season one finale, “Prophecy Girl”, is the absolute high point of this middling collection. Being the first time that Buffy feels downright out-matched and the first time she fails in her slayer duties, “Prophecy Girl” is also notable for giving every central character a purpose, and uniting them as the Scoobies in the final shot.

With high stakes, top-notch writing, and a genuinely thrilling battle as its centerpiece, “Prophecy Girl” re-wrote the rules for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and helped it to grow into the show it would come to be.

21) “Something Blue”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Some of Buffy‘s most charming episodes are also some it’s goofiest. Being set in a world where magic can wreak endless amounts of chaos and havoc allowed Buffy the Vampire Slayer to take a break from the heavy stuff for some truly funny episodes like “Something Blue”.

The premise of the episode (random phrases Willow says become reality at a whim) is so silly that the episode could have been an absolute flub, but thanks to some sharp writing and a lot of imagination, “Something Blue” is memorable as one of season four’s best episodes.

From the Spike and Buffy pairing (a scene-stealing notion that would have major implications for the future) to Xander becoming a literal demon magnet, “Something Blue” is an episode that embraces its wacky premise in a way that is supremely admirable.

20) “The Zeppo”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Another extremely silly outing, “The Zeppo” finds a season three Xander feeling like the only one in the Scooby squad who has nothing to offer. With that in mind, when Xander finds himself roped into a crime caper led by gang of undead classmates, he opts to handle it himself rather than ask his friends for help.

While this might easily turn into a tired message episode about learning to rely on those closest to you, “The Zeppo” instead doubles down by having Xander eventually come to terms with his weaknesses and even overcome them as the hour winds down.

Bonus points here for Xander’s short sexual encounter with Faith and a subplot where the rest of the central characters battle an unfathomable evil force and save the world in a collection of scarcely commented upon background scenes.

19) “Lie to Me”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The first truly great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer doesn’t arrive until well into the second season of the show. “Lie to Me” sees an old friend of Buffy’s come back into her life while harboring a dark secret. As Xander and Willow begin to suspect Ford is more than he appears, Buffy is blinded with nostalgia and affection.

The grim twist of “Lie to Me”, that Ford is dying of brain cancer and has cut a deal with Spike to become a vampire, isn’t revealed until late in the episode, making this knife twist all the more brutal. The thematic mirror between Spike and Buffy, as they are the only characters not to lie in this episode, is especially interesting when you consider where the show ultimately takes the two of them.

Finally, the tragic ending, which sees Buffy forced to stake her newly undead friend, cements the surrogate father/daughter relationship between Buffy and Giles, when she asks him to lie to her about how dark this world really is.

18) “A New Man”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Any time Ethan Rayne comes to town, Buffy fans generally know that they’re in for a fun episode. “A New Man” is no exception. Centering on an increasingly lost Giles feeling untethered to his life (with no job to do, no kids to teach, and no slayer to watch) and making a series of poor decisions that have dire, if hilarious, consequences, “A New Man” is a ridiculous hour of television.

After a night out drinking with his rival, a chaos warlock, Giles awakens to discover he’s been transformed into a demon. Only able to speak in grunts and roars, and having torn up his home in shock and frustration, Giles is now being confused for a monster and hunted by his own slayer.

The buddy cop style hijinks that unfold between Giles and Spike, the only one who can understand Giles’ demon grunts as a language, are just the cherry on top of this ridiculously silly and undeniably entertaining episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

17) “Two to Go”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Though viewers had already seen the beginnings of Dark Willow, it wasn’t until “Two to Go” that Willow went all in on the villain arc. As she continues to reel from the murder of her girlfriend, Tara, Willow goes after the people she holds responsible.

As Buffy, Xander, and Giles try to stop her, they also find themselves in her cross hairs, and as Willow grows increasingly unhinged, the stakes are raised considerably.

It’s a testament to the writing team of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that they could actually make this arc, in which the show’s meekest, nicest character turns into the surprise big bad, work. While there are some clumsy mis-steps along the way in season six, the pay off of seeing Buffy and Willow go toe to toe is well worth the price of admission.

16) “Innocence”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The two-episode arc of “Surprise” and “Innocence” is one of the most daring moves a teen drama has ever had the audacity to pull. Buffy the Vampire Slayer began with the mission statement of using the supernatural as metaphors for real life issues, and “Innocence” brings this thesis to a chilling reality.

After losing her virginity to Angel, Buffy awakens to find that Angel is acting like a totally different person. What she doesn’t know is that through an elaborate confluence of events, he has lost his soul. The metaphor, however, probably rang horribly true for the many, many teenage girls who had given themselves to an older boy, only to be tossed aside and treated like trash.

While Buffy is initially destroyed by Angel’s cruelty, she eventually hardens her pain into a steely resolve when Angel attacks a movie theater full of innocent bystanders. Though Buffy is unable to kill Angel in the final moments of “Innocence”, she does emancipate herself from him with a very satisfying kick to the nuts. “Give me time,” she promises as she leaves him on his knees. It’s one of season two’s best moments.

15) “Hush”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
One of the most memorable episodes in the entire series emerged as a result of, and answer to, some of Joss Whedon’s most outspoken critics. They contended that Buffy the Vampire Slayer only worked because of its snappy dialog, questioning Whedon and co’s ability to tell a good story.

Enter “Hush”, an episode in which everyone in Sunnydale is struck silent by demons right out of a fairy tail. The delightfully creepy gentlemen hover about town in the silence, murdering women and stealing their hearts as part of a grand ritual.

Of course, outside of the main plot is where a lot of the fun is had, as the Scoobies make goofy gestures, draw pictures, and write on little erasable whiteboards to communicate with one another. A scene in which Giles stages an elaborate slide show, complete with music, in order to explain the results of his research remains one of the funniest scenes in the entire series.

Further, “Hush” has real implications for the story, as Tara and Willow come together for the first time and Riley and Buffy discover each other’s hidden lives. “Hush” is an all-around great episode and certainly the best hour of season four.

14) “Seeing Red”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Some of the most traumatic moments of the entire series emerge in the troubling and contentious final act of season six, which sets Willow up as the villain. The worst of these both occur here, in “Seeing Red”.

The trio, a group of man baby villains who grow to be a real and dangerous threat at last, is headed by the misogynistic and sociopathic Warren. In “Seeing Red” Buffy shuts down their plans at last, but at a deadly price. When Warren shows up with a gun and shoots Buffy in the chest, this is only the beginning of the damage he will do.

Unwittingly, he also shoots Tara threw an upstairs window as he fires wildly. The chilling final scene of the episode sees Willow look up to the camera, her tearful eyes red with rage.

“Seeing Red” also features a truly hard to watch scene in which Buffy and Spike’s incredibly unhealthy relationship comes to a head when Spike tries to rape Buffy in her upstairs bathroom. In terms of implications, this one episode sets up two major arcs: one in which Dark Willow is born, and the other in which Spike attempts to redeem himself by getting his soul back. It’s an unforgettable hour.

13) “Band Candy”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
As was mentioned above, the Ethan Rayne episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer are among the silliest and most fun the series has to offer. “Band Candy” is no exception.

As the students of Sunnydale High begin selling candy for a fundraiser, logically, their parents end up purchasing most of it. However, Rayne has cast a spell on the chocolate which reverts the parents to their teenage selves. As Giles becomes a dangerous rebel, Joyce becomes a swooning school girl, and Snyder becomes the world’s biggest dork, it falls to Buffy to keep them safe while getting to the bottom of their newfound youthful attitudes.

Filled with great gags, hilarious writing, and a certainly memorable tryst between Joyce and Giles, “Band Candy” is a season three stand-out for its strong comedic chops.

12/11) “Becoming Pt. 1 & 2”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
If “Innocence” introduced us to hard new realities concerning Angel, “Becoming” is the ultimate expression of this new dynamic between the slayer and her former lover.

While the first part showcases more of Angel’s past, as told by an enigmatic demon named Whistler, it also features the untimely death of Kendra (complete with Buffy’s epic blue trench coat run), a moment that will pave the way for Faith’s arrival in season three.

In the second part, as Angel seeks to bring hell on earth, it falls to Buffy to finally step up and take him out for good. However, the many moving pieces in the background of the plot give this already difficult task an even crueler edge. As Willow cracks the spell to restore Angel’s soul, at last, Buffy must finish him off anyway, as the portal to hell must be closed using his blood. As if this weren’t heartbreaking enough, the sappy tones of Sarah McLaughlin hammer the stake in even further as Buffy leaves town a shattered wreck of her former self.

Further, “Becoming” also features Spike flipping the script on Angel and working with Buffy, a moment that will have huge ramifications for all three characters for the rest of the series.

10) “Lover’s Walk”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Though Joss Whedon originally planned to kill off Spike, he loved James Marsters’ portrayal of the punk rock vampire so much that he let him live through the season two finale… and good thing he did. Had he followed through with the original plan for Spike and Dru, we wouldn’t have a fantastic episode like “Lover’s Walk.”

As a despondent Spike returns to Sunnydale a shadow of his former self, he seeks out Willow to help him with a love spell to get Dru to come back to him. His decision to confine Willow and Xander together has several unintended consequences, including the two of them hooking up, which leaves the Scoobies shattered and separated by episode’s end.

Worse still, he delivers the nail in the coffin for Angel and Buffy’s second try at a relationship. The shot of truth he offers, that they will never be friends, no matter what they say, is the first of many final blows that will separate them once and for all at the end of season three.

Luckily, “Lover’s Walk” isn’t all doom and gloom. Spike, Buffy, and Angel have some truly funny moments, including Spike playing up Angel’s evil turn for laughs, and the endless bickering the three get up to when forced to work together. Rich with drama and laughter, “Lover’s Walk” is one of season three’s best episodes.

9) “Passion”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
While the aforementioned “Innocence” established Angel as a villain, it wasn’t until “Passion” that fans were sent down the dark path for good. After Angel murdered Jenny Calendar, the audience knew that there was no coming back for him… and so did Buffy.

While much of the episode plays out like a standard season two episode of Buffy, the overarching voice-overs and bevy of flashbacks establish the fact that “Passion” is going for something more dynamic. As Ms. Calendar struggles to give Angel back his soul, and right the wrong she participated in, Angel becomes aware of her plan and arrives to stop her.

Though we’d seen Angel chase and threaten Buffy’s friends before, the chilling moment when he catches Jenny out of nowhere, before abruptly snapping her neck, was a total shock to our collective system. Ms. Calendar was the first main character death of the entire series, and as such, no one saw it coming until we heard that fateful crack.

From Giles discovery of his beloved, arranged like a come-hither date night, to his suicidal revenge attack on Angel, to Buffy and Giles collapsing in tears in the alley, “Passion” is a non-stop tour-de-force that not only makes irrevocable changes to the characters but also goes a long way toward explaining who Angel is and where he came from.

8) “Fool For Love”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
As “Passion” made us aware of Angel’s history as a vampire, “Fool for Love” did the same for Spike. As was mentioned earlier in the show, Spike has killed two slayers, and after Buffy almost dies in active duty, she corners him to ask how.

As Spike unfolds the story of his life, he trades barbs and flirtatious remarks over pints of beer and games of pool. We see flashbacks to 18th century Britain, the Chinese Boxer rebellion of 1900, and 1970s New York, as Spike explains how he became a vampire, and how he would eventually come upon, and kill, two slayers in his lifetime.

As if this weren’t enough, the second fight sequence is interplayed with a mock fight between Buffy and Spike in the alley behind The Bronze. As things get more and more intimate, Spike goes in for the kiss at last, only to be left on his knees weeping in the alley. Though a humiliated Spike initially vows to kill the slayer, he manages only comforting her while she worries about her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

This is the real beginning of what will be a tumultuous but eventually loving and amicable relationship between the two, and for that, as well as a great many other reasons, “Fool for Love” is an absolutely essential episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

7) “Conversations with Dead People”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
For a teen drama, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was always more audacious and experimental in its structure than the majority of its ilk. Case in point, “Conversations with Dead People”.

Focusing on 5 separate, yet connected stories, in which Buffy, Dawn, Willow, Andrew and a nameless young woman converse with the dead, “Conversations with Dead People” casts a wide thematic net more reminiscent of something like The Sopranos or Six Feet Under… and points for the writers, because they pull it off.

As Buffy is out on patrol she meets a vampire who was actually in her psych class, and instead of fighting, they talk about the old days while waxing philosophical. Dawn finds herself attacked by a demonic force in her home, while Willow, for her part, speaks to a dead girl who claims to be there on Tara’s behalf. The final two stories concern Andrew being visited by the ghost of Warren and Spike out on a date with a young woman.

Of course, part of what makes this episode work is how the light interplay and snappy dialog eventually turn incredibly dark. Buffy is forced to kill her classmate, Dawn receives a foreboding message from beyond the grave, Willow is encouraged to commit suicide, Andrew murders his best friend, and Spike kills the girl he’s on a date with.

As it turns out, The First is behind most of this, and “Conversations with Dead People” is an excellent centerpiece that exposes the powers of this new, and different, kind of villain. It’s also one of the first season’s seven episodes that shows how brutal of a challenge the Scoobies will be facing in their final season of television.

6) “Once More With Feeling”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The famous musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is commonly cited as an all-time favorite, and with good reason. If you’re one of those people who hates how every show has to have a musical episode these days, you can blame this pioneering episode of television for your rage.

However, “Once More With Feeling” is anything but a lazy episode of fluff and bad music. Featuring a staggering 19 original songs for its 50 minute run time, the styles cross a wide range of genres, from rock ballads, to pop ditties, to old Hollywood yarns, to Broadway show tunes.

Further, the concept that makes this all possible, that a demon has come to town with the power to make people burst into song at a moment’s notice, actually works, mainly because they’re singing about their hidden feelings and desires.

While this sounds fun, and it certainly is, it can also be wildly sad, as when Buffy reveals that she wished she’d been allowed to stay dead, before trying to kill herself (for the second time in season six). Xander and Anya’s song about their hidden relationship concerns also has very real consequences for the remainder of of the show.

For all of these reasons and more, “Once More With Feeling” is well-deserved of its status as one of the best Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes of all time.

5/4) “Graduation Day Pt. 1 & 2”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season three is home to Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s best villains in the happy go lucky mayor, Richard Wilkins, and the slayer gone bad, Faith Lehane. As such, the final showdown with these two baddies in the two-part season three finale goes down, without question, as one of the great Buffy arcs.

The first part ends with the knockdown, drag-out fight of fights between Faith and Buffy, as Buffy arrives quite literally out for Faith’s blood in order to heal Angel’s wounds. As the two slayers go toe to toe at last, they battle around Faith’s apartment, smashing and destroying the place as they go. As the battle finishes up on the roof, Buffy plants Faith’s own dagger in her gut, and sends her off the roof of her apartment building, putting an end to their rivalry… at least for the time being.

Meanwhile, part two sets the entirety of Buffy’s graduating class against the monstrous Mayor Wilkins and his vampire army. As an eclipse heralds the apocalypse on graduation day, the students reveal the weapons they have hidden under their robes, and the battle for Sunnydale begins. For her part, Buffy leads the mayor through the school, and escapes out the other side, triggering some explosives to take out the previously unkillable Big Bad for good.

Finally, season three wraps up with the appropriate melancholic mixture of Angel leaving Sunnydale behind, and the scoobies looking joyfully toward what the future holds… now that they have one, that is.

3) “The Gift”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Initially meant to be a last-minute series finale after the WB pulled the plug on Buffy the Vampire Slayer just in time for its 100th episode, “The Gift” isn’t just one of Buffy‘s best finales, it’s also one of its finest episodes.

As Dawn is taken away to be sacrificed in Glory’s ritual, Buffy and co. face their greatest challenge yet. As hope begins to seem fleeting, the scoobies come up with a last-ditch plan, using all of the tricks in their playbook in order to beat Glory down and scale her tower.

Unfortunately, by the time Buffy arrives, the ritual has already started, forcing Buffy to make a terrible choice. Suddenly all of the clues given throughout the fifth season come together (“it’s always the blood, blood is life”/”death is your gift”) and Buffy offers Dawn some final, touching words of encouragement before hurling herself valiantly from the tower and giving her life in order to close the portal.

As her friends gather around her body in heartbroken disbelief, we see her grave, marked with the entirely appropriate phrase: “She saved the world… a lot.”

Finally, extra points must be given for the best Giles moment in the entire series, when Ripper shows his dark side once again, smothering Ben in cold blood after Buffy spares his life. “She’s not like us.” An amazingly dark, and undeniably awesome turn for Giles.

2) “Chosen”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
While season seven of Buffy The Vampire Slayer definitely has its detractors, most can still agree that the final episode of season seven, and of the series, sends the scoobies out in fine style.

As Buffy and the potential slayers prepare to go to war against the demon hordes of The First, the stakes have never been higher than in “Chosen.” However, when Angel arrives with a last-minute pick-me-up, and Willow finds in herself the power to change the world, it finally looks like team slayer might have a fighting chance.

“Chosen” is filled with brilliant moments, from the last minute Dungeons and Dragons session, to Buffy’s cleaving domination of Caleb. The last walk that Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles take as the original scoobies, heading into the final battle is light and fluffy but filled with heart just the same. Buffy’s heartfelt speech about every girl in the world being a slayer is not only tear-inducingly powerful but also a gorgeous love letter to the fans and what Buffy has meant to so many people.

Finally, the epic battle in the hell mouth is Buffy’s biggest and best set piece ever. It genuinely feels, right until the moment that Spike’s necklace begins glowing, like this could be the end for every last one of our heroes. Further, many characters do die, including several of the potential slayers, as well as Anya and Spike. The gut punch of Spike’s death, and Buffy finally deciding she’s ready to live in the world again is affirming, and the episode’s closing moments, where Buffy is finally free to live as she pleases, make a beautiful send-off for her.

All in all, “Chosen” is a brilliant series finale, and would be the absolute stand-out of the series, if it weren’t for a certain stellar season five episode.

1) “The Body”

Best Episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Inspired by the Joss Whedon’s real-life experience of losing a parent, the absolutely jaw-dropping quality of an episode of television like “The Body” cannot be overstated.

As Buffy arrives home from an otherwise normal day, she discovers her mother’s lifeless corpse, already cold, lying on the couch. As she flies into a tearful panic, the abject anxiety of what is occurring sinks in immediately. From this moment on, “The Body” is a total tour-de-force of emotional turmoil and the unmistakable pain of loss.

While the scoobies rally around their friend in her time of need, no one really knows how to handle a threat of death that isn’t supernatural in nature. Willow frets over her clothes, Anya struggles to understand mortality, Xander punches a hole in the wall, and Dawn reverts to a shattered state of being.

Making the drama even more palpable, the camera pans off occasionally to remind us how the world continues to revolve around us, unflinching and uncaring, even during a time when we feel it must stop. Parking tickets are still being given, lawnmowers are still going, and the gentle breeze of a summer day still rustles our hair.

It is this painstaking attention to detail that makes the grief and sorrow of “The Body” work so insanely well. Because Joss Whedon had experienced a similar event, the nuance and panic of it all never rings hollow. On the contrary, the cruel silence and lack of easy platitudes force viewers to join in this painful process with these characters in a way that feels almost too real.

An utterly perfect episode of television, “The Body’ is unquestionably the highest quality episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the beating heart of this series.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Marty Allen

    March 10, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Great list, we definitely see eye-to-eye on a lot of Buffy! In particular the #1 episode, which is to my mind one of the finest episodes of television ever created. Bold #2! I love seeing ‘The Zeppo’ in there, that great ep does not get enough love. A few other favorites of mine are ‘Restless,’ ‘Normal Again,’ and ‘Superstar.’ Seriously, how can we get a Goomba podcast together where we talk about Buffy? I’d do it in a heartbeat. Here’s my article from the 20th (before I wrote for Goomba): https://medium.com/@martyallen/buffys-best-big-bad-by-season-59c2c708cb9

    • Mike Worby

      March 11, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      I’m glad to be one of many Buffy fanatics on Goomba Stomp. I had to leave some great episodes on the sideline even with 22 to go from. I’d love to do a podcast on Buffy, if that’s somehow possible. We’d probably have to check in with a few folks first though.

  2. Wayne Chapman

    July 26, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    I’m a huge fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and anyone who knows me can tell you it’s my favorite show. (I suppose I would put “Angel” at 1.5 on my list since it shares the same universe as “Buffy.”) I generally cite “Once More, With Feeling” and “Doppelgangland” as my co-favorites. The musical episode was destined to be so before it even aired, but I was disappointed that Willow, my favorite character, was the only character without a showcase number. (Seriously, couldn’t Joss have had someone serve as a voice double for Alyson Hannigan?!) I actually wrote a song for Willow just a few days after that episode aired, and it was one of my proudest moments as a fan. “Doppelgangland” was a no-brainer for me since it offered twice the Willow and left us with the obvious hint that Willow was gay or bi. (By the end of the third season, I was hoping she’d hook up with bad girl Faith. I was cool with Tara though.) A few other episodes that are personal favorites include “Restless” and “Who Are You?” The two that really unnerved me were “The Body” (I’m still having to face the inevitable death of my parents) and “Normal Again” (which played on my fears of questioning my sanity), so they’re both standouts for me. Could go on and on about the show, but that’s it for now.

    • Mike Worby

      July 27, 2019 at 10:08 am

      Thanks for commenting Wayne. There are so many stand-out episodes of Buffy that it was a legitimate challenge to nail down only 22 for this list. I really love Normal Again, as the ending leaves it up for debate as to which reality is correct, and whether we truly got a happy ending. It’s a daring, chilling trick that The X Files pulled on several occasions, and one of the reasons that show endured for so long as well.

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The Expanse Season Four Episode 1 Review: “New Terra”

The Expanse’s long hiatus proves worth the wait, in an hour full of familiar faces and intriguing mysteries.

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The Expanse New Terra

With belters, humans, and Martians alike side-eyeing the unknown, The Expanse‘s own transition to a new home for its fourth season serves as a fitting metaphor for “New Terra,” the long-awaited season premiere. Moving to a new world is a frightening proposition; for some like Naomi, it isn’t even possible without some serious modifications – but thankfully, that’s where the meta-textual comparisons end: “New Terra” is an abundantly confident season premiere, an elegant table-setting episode with enough touches of flair and emotion to keep it feeling from like a greatest hits album.

“New Terra” is a wonderful re-introduction to The Expanse’s slow-burn storytelling, and proof that a new home hasn’t fundamentally changed television’s best science fiction series.

Though if the entire 48 minutes of “New Terra” was just spent catching up with characters, I wouldn’t have complained: be it Jim having a moment with his mother, or Bobbie and Alex’s phone call, The Expanse‘s premiere is a heartwarming re-introduction to its world and wide ensemble of characters. Eight months have passed since the Sol Ring opened its gates to humanity; and since then, the UNN has shot just about anyone down that’s tried to pass with impunity. Though “Abaddon’s Gate” proffered the hope that humanity could evolve, “New Terra” is a reminder of how slow and meticulous the process of evolution can be: everyone remains desperately afraid of the unknown, even after four small ships of refugees escape through the ring, landing on a fully habitable planet on the other side.

The Expanse New Terra

“New Terra” doesn’t take us to that new planet – dubbed Ilus by the belters who’ve claimed it as their new home – until late in the episode, but the weight of its appearance on humanity’s radar reverberates through The Expanse‘s world, an event that begins to draw the many scattered pieces of its ensemble back into each other’s orbit. Sure, it is convenient for the OG Rocinante crew to be tasked to going to Ilus, passing upon characters like Camina and Avasarala (who is now the Secretary-General) along the way – but goddamnit, it’s still a blast to watch, a series of heartwarming moments giving the 18-month absence between seasons some literal weight.

It’s also fitting the belter refugees (who had been reeling through space since Ganymede was destroyed) landed on Ilus, because that’s exactly where the proto-molecule wants to head. “Miller,” who appears to be glitching a little bit, is still tagging along in Holden’s brain, casually begging him to get back into space and head towards the ring; “it’s where the next clue is” he repeats to Holden, who clearly just wants a bit of time to chill out, and digest the cascade of insane experiences he’s had over the past few years of his life.

The Expanse New Terra

But destiny calls, and it’s only a few scenes before Holden is back on the freshly upgraded and restored Roci, back in space with Naomi (whose added a few tattoos), Alex, and Amos, a throwback to simpler times aboard their stolen/salvaged/now properly owned MCRN spaceship. Propulsed by their return, and a depressed Bobbie’s reminiscing about having a mission that mattered, “New Terra” pushes forward by leaning on familiar faces in unfamiliar settings; until its harrowing final moments, when an RCE science vessel crash lands on Ilus after being attacked.

The Expanse knows how to make space feel vast and dangerous – but what it does best is capture the absolute fucking terror of the unknown; Adolphous Multry’s attempt to land on Ilus with his very excited crew is an encapsulation of the show’s versatility, the latest tragic event shrouded in extraterrestrial mystery. Multry’s introduction is particularly brilliant; watching the man brace himself as his ship crashes and people begin violently dying around him, offers a bracing portrait of resilience, one that could be quite the force to contend with among the unsettled refugees, the inquisitive mission of the Roci crew, and the scientists poking around to find some of that infamous Yukon gold (Avasarala’s story of the bodies stacked next to the people willing to throw themselves into danger takes on quite a bit of power in the aftermath of their mysterious crash).

But push forward into the dangerous unknown we will; that notion comes through no stronger than with Naomi Nagata, who puts herself through a brutal montage of preparation to land on Ilus. The tragedy of the belters, as Camina reminds her, is that they are truly the people of space, the survivalist evolution of their physiology making it an arduous journey to try and adapt to living on a surface, with gravity (even those who have gravity, as we saw when Bobbie went to New York in season three, struggle to move to a new planet). It’s so arduous, in fact, the notoriously resilient Camina wants nothing to do with it – and ends her SpaceTime call with Naomi on a particularly ominous, unsettling note.

The Expanse New Terra

If there’s a true conflict to be found in “New Terra,” it comes from the familiar place of the belters and survivors of Ganymede; as they dream of a new home among the stars, their identity as the tough, unstoppable force between the “inners” is bound to shift and evolve, as their bodies and minds adjust to living on new worlds. What does that mean for the belters – and more interestingly, for The Expanse? Humanity’s continued struggle to find common ground among the stars is a reminder that no matter what wonders we may experience, our instincts towards violence and hostility will remain – and in fact, are set to thrive in a world where the UNN controls the destiny of every life in the known galaxy.

“New Terra” uses the splintering identity of belter culture as an interesting prism to set the stage for the season to come: as they fracture into belters, pirates, UNN employees (or “traitors,” as some are referring to Klaes) and Ilus settlers, Camina is right that the old belter way may be lost. “Two generations, and they will be inners,” she tells Naomi, afraid that the safety and security potentially offered by these new lives will insulate them from the harsh truths of the universe. That fear is palpable, and dangerous: as humanity heads out into the unknown together, clinging onto the familiar remains an enticing, and sometimes necessary, anchoring mechanism.

The Expanse New Terra

But if we are to truly evolve, we must learn from the lessons of the past: despite the UNN aggression, there’s a sense nobody wants to go to war again. There’s a sense that the next war might actually be the last one for humanity – it may be the weapons that vaporize them all into space junk, but its the divisions defined by the identities of the old world that could kill them all. That tenuous, frustrating peace formed between the inners and belters is always an engaging ground for sociopolitical theory; the existential crisis facing the belters only makes that conflict even more strained, and dramatically engrossing.

Evocative and mysterious, “New Terra” is a wonderful re-introduction to The Expanse‘s slow-burn storytelling, and proof that a new home hasn’t fundamentally changed television’s best science fiction series. Though it certainly utilizes the nostalgic crutch of seeing old friends as a driver for what is a particularly quiet premiere, it’s hard to argue it doesn’t succeed – especially in the episode’s second half, as “New Terra” firmly begins to take steps forward into the narrative labyrinth of its fourth season. It may be a strange new home for The Expanse and its characters – but it is clearly the same enthralling, ambitious space drama it was before its cancellation, making for an exciting, welcome return to the nuclear-powered adventures of the Rocinante.

Other thoughts/observations:

Just want to get this out at the beginning of the season: Fuuuuuck, I have missed The Expanse.

Avasarala has bigger problems than four belter ships sneaking through the belt; half of earth’s population is unemployed, desperate to take to the stars to give their lives purpose. Bobbie does make a great point, after all.

Jim’s mother Elise gives him a copy of Don Quixote before he leaves for Ilus. For those unfamiliar with the novel, Rocinante is the name of Don Quixote’s horse (who went from ashy to classy in his own right).

Bobbie’s hair! Naomi’s hair! Everyone’s hair! It looks so good!

“Madman and prophet; it’s possible to be both.”

Avasarala warns Holden not to “put his dick” into whatever’s going on on Ilus, advice he is destined to fail to adhere to

Klaes refusing to give his verification code to the UNN warships until the very last moment, and Bobbie angrily yelling at a stranger in a bar, are the kind of character touches that make The Expanse shine.

It speaks to The Expanse‘s writing that they’ve made a couple like Naomi and Holden work; his smile when she begins to walk on Ilus’s surface is a real tearjerker.

Bobbie has multiple roommates, as if her life couldn’t be any more challenging and seemingly pointless.

black weaponized smoke? This LOST fan is ready to fucking go!

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Degrassi Junior High, “Season’s Greetings”

25 Days of Holiday TV Specials

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Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today we look back at Degrassi Junior High, “Season’s Greetings”.

What’s it About?

After Arthur and Yick having a falling out, Dorothy decides to take it upon herself to mend their friendship by recollecting the best moments they spent together. Meanwhile, Emma’s daycare falls through and Spike is forced to care for her at school. While there, Spike can’t avoid Shane and finally agrees to allow him to hold and see his daughter for the very first time.

Degrassi is one of those very few Canadian TV programs that had success outside the country. The CBC Television teen drama followed the lives of a group of students attending the titular fictional school. Many episodes tackled the true issues facing teenagers every day. Such difficult topics included drug and child abuse, teenage pregnancy, homophobia, racism, and divorce, and the series was acclaimed for its sensitive and realistic portrayal of the challenges of teenage life. Following the short series The Kids of Degrassi Street (1982), Degrassi Junior High (DJH) went on to establish the franchise’s popularity. Hailed as “groundbreaking,” “powerful,” and “totally authentic,” Degrassi Junior High did it all and long before any other teen series.

degrassi-junior-high-seasons-greetings-18

It’s hard to say whether or not the program holds after so many decades. Those nostalgic for the ’80s and those who grew up watching the show could very well find it entertaining. Others may be immediately turned off by the overall look of the program. After all, this was the 80’s and Degrassi wasn’t afforded a big budget– so it’s no surprise that each episode looks likes something Cindy Lauper or Boy George would disgorge. Still, there could very well be some fascination for teenagers of today to look back on what high-school was like before mobile phones, mp3 players, and Lady Gaga were ever invented.

If you’ve never seen an episode of Degrassi, “Seasons Greetings” wouldn’t be the best place to start. The main casting draw, heartthrob teen idol Joey Jeremiah (played by the charismatic Pat Mastroianni), hardly gets any screen-time, nor does any of the other major players. Instead, the writers opted to focus on two minor characters Arthur and Yick, best friends, both geeks and both under-appreciated despite sharing some of the series’ most memorable moments (Robot porn anyone?). “Season’s Greetings” basically acts as a highlight reel for the two. Incorporating flashbacks through the narrative, audiences are treated to a trip down memory lane as we watch their best moments on the series unfold again.

Degrassi Junior High Christmas Special

This quintessential teen series is a show that served as a model for dozens of others shows like it since it first premiered. While “Seasons Greetings” is a very weak entry in the groundbreaking series, one can’t deny how each episode captures what being a teenager felt like, and well sometimes even life as a teenager can be pretty dull, even around Christmas.

  • Ricky D

How Christmassy is it?

like 20% Christmassy since 80% of the episode was spent on flashbacks.

You May Like It If…

If you are nostalgic for the ’80s, grew up watching the series, or is someone who loves to torture him or herself.

Final Thoughts:

Yeah, this kind of sucked.

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“Crisis on Infinite Earths” Is an Endearingly Clumsy Love Letter to DC’s Television Legacy

DCTV’s sprawling, ambitious crossover is creatively uneven, but its endearing nostalgia easily outweighs its flaws.

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Crisis on Infinite Earths

The ambition of The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover can’t be understated, an attempt to integrate the network’s sprawling set of universes into a single, coherent reality – and perhaps more importantly, to say farewell to the series, and star, at its heart. A world-hopping, universe-jumping adventure acting as an homage to 50-plus years of DC television (and, in one notable case, film), the first three parts of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” are unfiltered joy, embracing its limited budget and impossibly large cast of characters (and famous cameos) in a wildly entertaining – if creatively uneven – journey through DC’s strange history on the small screen.

The sheer audacity of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is, frankly, incredible to watch: while it doesn’t always work, it makes the crossover event utterly fascinating to dissect.

The CW’s sixth official crossover technically began during its fifth; last season’s “Elseworlds” established the broad strokes to follow, setting Oliver Queen on his path to destiny – and in the process, muting the impact of every isolated storyline of the extended DC lineup. The reveal of The Monitor in “Elseworlds (Part 3)” (which was Supergirl‘s ninth episode of its fourth season, if anyone is keeping score) was intriguing, but ultimately distracting: knowing the fate of the multiverse was casually hanging in the balance, limited the ability of stories like Lex Luthor and Barry’s convoluted time-traveling to have any sort of noticeable impact. Knowing what was coming made these (slightly) smaller-scale stories just not matter; knowing the final season of Arrow was directly integrated with the “impending crisis” only further overwhelmed any sense of purpose the stories of its shows held.

(and if we’re being honest, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” has kind of been teased since The Flash‘s pilot episode in 2014, though that’s splitting hairs a bit.)

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Perhaps it is all that hype that makes “Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 1)” the weakest entry of the three to air this week (parts four and five air in mid-January) feel like such an underwhelming, rushed introduction to this universe-hopping story of Drama and Emotion. When an anti-matter wave begins wiping out parallel Earths (including Earth-66, letting them sneak in a quick Burt Ward cameo), “Crisis on Infinite Earths” begins pulling it its many iconic major characters – which, let’s admit, doesn’t quite have the same impact it did back in “Invasion” or “Crisis on Earth-X”.

It then spends an inordinate member of time trying to integrate Supergirl‘s supporting cast into the fray (albeit briefly); which, as fans of previous crossovers would probably agree, always ends up being the weakest part of any crossover. Lena, Querl, Alex, and Kelly feel like nothing but obligatory inclusions in the episode – whatever is going on with Supergirl and the DEO, “Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 1)” struggles mightily to make it feel like anything meaningful.

In their defense, it’s hard to invest in whatever side stories Part 1 is trying to nod towards; it all pales in comparison to seeing Kara fawn over momma Lois and poppa Clark, which is a tall task to compete with. But the DEO’s characters are noticeable momentum killers, moments where “Crisis on Infinite Earths” fumbles at grounding its outlandish, epic story with the non-powered entities of its universe.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Unfortunately, it gets worse before it gets better: once we get all the heroes arranged, we get a lame-ass fight scene where the heroes (Supergirl, The Flash, Green Arrow, Atom, White Canary, Superman, and Batwoman) battle against some terrible CGI demons. It is easily the low point of all three hours, a clumsily-executed scene that utterly fails in providing any sense of urgency to the larger story (The Monitor’s nemesis killing off entire planets and realities with a massive wave of anti-matter, in case you were wondering).

It’s strange, because the fight scene ostensibly serves as the kicking off point for the whole crossover: and boy, is it awkward when it tries to make the CGI ghost fight the moment Oliver sacrifices himself to save the universe (or does he?). It’s a halting way to end Part 1, after a herky-jerky hour with a few choice cameos (including Griffin Newman as a trivia host, and Wil Wheaton as a protestor) and a lot of sci-fi mumbo jumbo establishing the stakes of the anti-matter wave.

“Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 2)” is really where the crossover comes to life; both as a contained story, and a cumulative celebration of the strange, long legacy of mixed DC media. Batwoman travels to a parallel Earth to visit an embittered Batman (played by longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy), Sara Lance gives Jonah Hex his signature scar outside a Lazarus Pit, and there’s an extended cameo of Tom Welling and Erica Durance as the OG The CW Clark and Lois; though all of those things are exactly as ludicrous and self-indulgent as they sound, the more Part 2 – and as a byproduct, Part 3 – bounce around worlds to visit iconic characters (and performers) from its past, the more powerful it becomes as a true crossover event.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

And despite the abundance of casting announcements and on-set photos, “Crisis of Infinite Earths” is still able to deliver a number of surprising appearances: who could’ve predicted a scene where Netflix’s Lucifer Morningstar talks to NBC/The CW’s John Constantine, which occurs after Part 3 does a motherfucking Birds of Prey cameo with Ashley Scott (AND the voice of Dina Meyer as Oracle, to boot). It is a fanfiction wet dream come true, even FINALLY integrating Black Lightning‘s Jefferson Pierce into the multiverse, with a shockingly (sorry) strong introduction of The CW’s most underrated hero into the already-crowded mix.

The sheer audacity of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is, frankly, incredible to watch: while it doesn’t always work, it makes both Parts 2 and 3 utterly fascinating to dissect. It is Justice League by way of Into the Spider-Verse and Avengers: Endgame, as clumsy and endearing as that sounds; at times, it utterly fails to make its universe-ending narrative hold any actual weight, but it is an emotional powerhouse of iconic, often underappreciated performances in DC’s television history (I swear to God, if they bring in Linda Hamilton for a Wonder Woman cameo, I’ll lose my shit).

If we’re being honest, it’s more interesting in its construction than it is in execution: after ingesting 200+ episodes of DC television over the years, I hold no expectations for “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to ever capture the immense dramatic potential of its narrative.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

That’s just not what DC television is good at (save for a couple of seasons of Arrow, and most of Legends of Tomorrow): where these shows shine is their heartfelt depictions of human connection, of the beauty in finding shared purpose. At that, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is a pretty resounding success; whether Batwoman and Supergirl’s young friendship, or Barry’s tunnel-visioned optimism, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” proves the DC universe still has engaging stories to tell with the biggest stars of the present – and with characters like Kate Kane, Jefferson Pierce, and Ryan Choi (introduced in Part 3, in what appears to possibly be establishing a new Atom), the future.

We’ll have to wait until January to see how the grand experiment to unite all the timelines works out – but in its holiday send-off, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is a pretty touching love letter to decades of superhero television, earning its entry into the annals of modern television’s most ambitious endeavors.

Other thoughts/observations:

In what appears to be his swan song (knowing that he is departing Legends of Tomorrow), Brandon Routh’s double-duty as Ray Palmer and Superman (reprising his role from Superman Returns) is wonderful.

Even Wentworth Miller makes an appearance, kind of: the alternate-reality Wave Rider the team of heroes, paragons, and ominous entities are guided by Leonard, an AI who ironically sounds exactly like Captain Cold.

We forever stan Sara Lance; to see her guide and organize the team in Part 1 and Part 2… well, it’s just beautiful to see.

Boy, it is strange how “Crisis” just kind of glosses over Batwoman killing the bitter, murderous version of Batman her and Supergirl visit in Part 2.

Easy litmus test to know whether you’re in or out on this whole endeavor; whether you jump for joy or scream in agony when hearing the word “infinitude” in the opening moments of Part 1.

There is a very, VERY brief shot of a few characters from DC Universe’s Titans, which I always forget exists. No Doom Patrol or Swamp Thing, unfortunately.

Unlike previous crossovers, only Supergirl‘s episode feels like it is still kind of trying to be an episode of its own series. I haven’t watched much Batwoman, but part 2 definitely does not attempt to make any play at drawing in a new audience with a unique display of personality (and in fact, I don’t think there’s a single other Batwoman regular in the episode).

Apparently the Brec Bassinger Stargirl character will make her debut in the final part of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, even though her series is not airing until 2020… on DC Universe? Modern television is so fucking weird.

It is still hard to believe Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor.

There are hints of the theme from the 1989 Batman film in Blake Neely’s score, which is just fucking insane.

When Earth 90’s Barry Allen makes a major sacrifice, we are treated to a brief flashback to actual footage from the 1991 The Flash series. It is perhaps the most breathtaking surprise of the whole crossover.

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