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April 16 2013

Why Buffy's second season is the best. Den of Geek talks Buffy Season 2.

Simon I never manage to post things correctly,. I suspect that a spoiler tag was not needed, but there are some Dollhouse, Firefly, Doctor Horrible, and Avengers fans that may not have made the rounds to start and finish the Buffyverse.

In relation to the article, this looks to be a new series of articles by the author and I like the direction it has taken. Some shows go on too long and some not long enough, we know this fact very well around here. Lucky for us a series like this could help bring our attention back to our favorite seasons, and seasons of shows we might not have made it through.

I know a few people who watched season 1, and couldn't do it. Especially at this point it looks dated, but Buffy picked up the pace quickly to lose some of those qualities. I love season 2, I have a hard time deciding between 2 and 3 always.
Agreed, Season 2 is the best. But Season 5 also deserves a mention for overall flawlessness.
I suspect that a spoiler tag was not needed, but there are some Dollhouse, Firefly, Doctor Horrible, and Avengers fans that may not have made the rounds to start and finish the Buffyverse.

We would only use a spoiler tag for future events or very recent events (where applicable). Otherwise it would get a bit complicated. And Buffy is now seen as classic/historical so I think spoilers are no longer in the picture for non-fans?

I loved Buffy Season 2, it captivated me when I saw it on BBC2 all those years ago.
This is blasphemy I know but,

I used to have a special sequence of episodes in season 1 skipping certain episodes. Very often it would get people to season 2 quickly and then they would be begging for more. Then we would rewatch the skipped ones and they would say, " Those were great." But when I would watch through season one people would give me the why am I watching this face.
I like season 1, and I can't claim to know better, but for me and the people I showed Buffy to, season 2 was the payoff. It was the first sample that gets you hooked.

On the subject of blasphemy I guess I decided I would rather have them get hooked and then ask me why I skipped episodes, than lose them.

This article made me remember so many great moments.

[ edited by Stargyn on 2013-04-16 22:11 ]
Not sure I agree that the contest for best Buffy season is ''pretty much a straight fight between season two and season three'' - my feeling is that season five is just as popular as those two.
Season 3 is my favorite. The mayor, Faith, and all the stuff they did to set up Angel's own show. It was all fantastic. Season 5 is great, but I have never felt as high on it as a lot of other fans do. There was a lot of stuff happening in that season that I didn't really care about. My favorite seasons are 2,3, and 6.
The quality of villains on Buffy went down after season 3. None were as cool as the mayor and Faith combo, and that includes Glory
Back in September 2011, I polled our Facebook followers as to what their favourite seasons of Buffy were. The results are as follows.

One 2
Two 49
Three 84
Four 9
Five 86
Six 68
Seven 16
Eight 2

It's a slightly better indication of how the seasons are viewed by the fandom than those internet polls where multiple voting is rife.
I wonder if you did a poll of favorite season, vs season with the most "favorite" episodes, how they would differ. Some people remember episodes, and some people arcs.
Poor season 4. It really is underrated. Anyway, the great thing about BtVS is the way it all adds up. Each season has to move onto the next one, and each succeeding season makes the preceding seasons seem richer than they would have had the show not gone on. So I'm not sure it makes much sense to worry about which season was the "best".
Personally, I have a few favorite episodes from every season except the first one (all the first season episodes are of equal quality). Overall, I'd have to say 5 was best, with 2 coming in at a close second. I always tend to lean towards season 5 because that's the one season where everyone - and I mean everyone - is at the top of their game. Even Spike.

Seasons 1-4 seemed to be building up to 5. And seasons 6 and 7 seemed to be about tearing everything down.
I wonder if you did a poll of favorite season, vs season with the most "favorite" episodes, how they would differ.

Good idea Stargyn!

I just tried breaking my own thoughts up into the two approaches. Honestly I was a little surprised by my how different the results were.

My personal "best overall" ranking has fluctuated somewhat over the years, but it's along the lines of this (with slashes representing ties):

But when I looked at the full episode list and tallied the episodes that really stood out to me the list changed a fair bit:

When I think about it the changes make sense though - particularly in terms of the S5 drop, which I think really illustrates the point of your suggestion. While I love S5, there are only a few episodes that I ever really feel like watching on their own. I'm much more inclined to do a full season rewatch and admire the strength of the arc while being occasionally wowed by smaller stories.
For me, I love the run of Seasons 1, 2, and 3 as a whole chunk. I also preferred Angel (the show) over Buffy, and those 3 seasons set the universe up perfectly. But yeah, I'd say Season 2 was probably the best Season of Buffy. And I'd say Season 5 was the best season of Angel.
Having just gotten through rewatching season 2 (I'm introducing a childhood friend to the works of Whedon) and started season 3 (through Lovers Walk), I have to say I disagree. Season 3 had Oz as a regular, which counts in its favor, and season 3 is also much less episodic much sooner than season 2, which takes about half the season to really get going (and in my opinion, Buffy was always at its weakest when it focused on the 'monster of the week' aspect over the serial aspect). Season 2 had great material in it. So did season 4, which introduced the higher level of genre experimentation that made the show shine in its latter half. But in terms of strongest season, I think you have to look at the season as a whole, either as a story or in terms of consistent quality, and I think season 3 wins on both of those points, as well as the cast, setting and general vibe of the show. I love season 2, but it has too many season 1-style episodes to come out on top in my opinion. Season 3 of Buffy is right up there with Angel season 5.
Season 3 is pretty much my favorite thing ever. It's the structure, symbolism and all of the callbacks between episodes.

As is referenced in Earshot, Faith plays Iago to Buffy's Othello. "... the dark side of Othello himself.".

Teacher: "Jealousy clearly is the tool that Iago uses to undo Othello." (a repeated theme between the two slayers)


In Enemies:

Faith: What are you gonna do, B, kill me? You become me. You're not ready for that, yet. (kisses her on the forehead)

In Graduation Day Part I:
Buffy: You told me I was just like you. That I was holding it in.
Faith: Ready to cut loose?
Buffy: Try me.
Faith: Okay then. Give us a kiss.

In Graduation Day Part II:
(Buffy awakens from her dream and walks over to faith and kisses her on the forehead)


In Enemies, Faith says this to Buffy as she's chained up. In Graduation Day Part I, Buffy repeats the line to Faith as she chains the two together.


In Enemies:

Faith: See, when I was a kid I used to beg my mom for a dog. Didn't matter what kind.I just wanted, you know, something to love.

In Choices:

The Mayor: A dog's friendship is stronger than reason, stronger than its own sense of self-preservation. Buffy's like a dog. And hey, before you can say 'Jack Robinson,' you'll get to see me kill her like one.

In Graduation Day Part II:

(Faith's body transforms into a cat.)

Faith: It's a she. And aren't these things supposed to take care of themselves?

Interesting to note Buffy and Joyce's reaction to the dead cat in Dead Man's Party. Intentionally written or not, it could be taken to echo their eventual thoughts on Faith.

Buffy: What? Thanks for stopping by and dying?
Joyce: How about - goodbye stray cat, who lost it's way. We hope you find it.


In Graduation Day part II, this is Buffy dealing with how much she will let herself become like Faith. My belief, Buffy is talking to herself in the dream - both Buffy and Faith are in fact, aspects of Buffy. Faith herself lies on the bed (transforming into the cat.) The weapons lying around are Faith's edge and aggression, something Buffy will need for the coming war with the mayor, but where to draw the line... Buffy has just stabbed Faith - almost become a murderer herself.

Buffy: I can't use all of this!
Faith: Just take what you need.

And of course: Oh yeah. - Miles to go - Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0. A two year countdown until Buffy "sleeps" in the gift.


Buffy stabs Faith. It's interesting to note that although Faith was always portrayed as the slayer willing to take things all the way, it's Buffy who actually does. For her part, Faith wanted to beat Buffy and gain her respect in the sibling rivalry dynamic, but I don't believe Faith ever wanted Buffy dead. She doesn't take direct action against Buffy instead targeting her friends and Angel. The thing is... we know Faith later has a death wish. I'm not convinced she wasn't already headed down that path here. She has Buffy hanging off the roof dead to rights. "Man, I'm going to miss this." In having Buffy kill her she "wins" for two reasons - 1) Her desire for punishment. 2) Buffy is reduced to the same crime she committed. But even believing she's dying she still wants to share a childhood adventure (the quarry in Boston) with Buffy. "Should have been there, B, quite a ride." So did Faith let up? If so, was Buffy aware of it - and is that why she's initially eager to give Faith the benefit of the doubt in S4? In the comics or however it can be arranged, I'd love to see these two stuck together in a situation where they're forced to cooperate to survive and have all of this come bubbling to the surface.

Anyway, all of that and more... that's why I love S3.
I recognize I am probably in a small minority in thinking this way, but to me each season of Buffy got better until and including season 5, and then season 5, 6, and 7 were equally strong. I cannot decide my favorite between them. I agree with the point someone made about the overall arc of the whole series, the way all the seasons work together, being the even more impressive thing about Buffy. But even though I liked 5, 6, and 7 equally well, I still find Glory to be my favorite villain. And then the Mayor (and I did love season 3, I just liked what came after even more). (I guess I liked about 5-7 partly what some people don't like about them,esp. 6-7. Which I guess is the darkness, some of the silliness (maybe some people didn't like this, I don't know), the disruption in the lives of the gang, and oh yes, Dawn. I loved what they did with Dawn all the way--best character intro ever, IMO. So, I guess I'm in the minority. Just thought I'd mention it, since I don't know if I've ever run across anyone who agrees with me on this.
Season 2 is my favorite season of anything ever (besides Season 5 of Angel, of course).

Spike and Drusilla being completely badass, their twisted relationship, Buffy and Angel's relationship, Angelus, all of the relationships taking shape (i.e.: Giles and Jenny, Willow and Oz, Xander and Cordy), the metaphors of the season...

I can go and on and on, but I really do feel like that season is what Joss intended that show to be: how much high school is hell, vampires are your inner demons, ect. Live on Season 2! Haha.
I rank the seasons as:


I used to like Angel season 4 more but in hindsight the season doesn't have very many 'great' episodes. Theres 3 or 4 in there but the season is best viewed in one long watch whereas I can pick out about 10 great episodes from Buffy seasons 5,3, 2, and Angel seasons 5 and 3.
I don't even bother trying to say what my favourite season is anymore because it really changes depending on my mood. Funnily enough, I'm just in the middle of a S2 rewatch and I still have a great fondness for those few early episodes. What comes later in the season is undoubtedly better but I always feel nostalgic watching the likes of Some Assembly Required, Inca Mummy Girl or Halloween. I also still absolutely love When She Was Bad as well and find it to be one of the most underrated episodes of the show.

But favourite season? I couldnít tell ya. Sometimes I feel like watching S2/S3 and then other times Iím really in the mood for, say, S6. I also agree with Maggie that S4 is terribly underrated. Iím pretty luck as I pretty much enjoy the entire series and am not one of those fans who split into camps of only preferring S1-S3 or the later years etc. The best thing about the show is that every season was different and that really sets it apart from most other shows out there.
The top three shuffle around a bit depending on my state of mind, the bottom three are always the same.
Of course I love the big arc-y episodes of Season 2 but my favorite seasons overall are 3, 5 and 7.
Season two was the one that really hooked me but I have a personal preference for Three. In all truth though I'm happy to watch all of them.
I'm with vampmogs; depends upon my mood. I rarely watch any episodes in isolation, tend to do a rewatch and watch 1-7 Buffy and then 1-5 Angel on a constant loop anyway. The only episode I ever really just 'slip on' is OMWF, and then it's just to sing and dance along to - and it always has me heading back to watching the loop again. I can see an episode one day and think it's the best, then the next day I'll watch a different one and THAT's the best. Mood is all, and Joss caters for every single different one you could have.
i believe all 7 seasons had very good eps, cheesy ones, confusing ones, tearful ones and plain odd ones but i worked.
Season 2 is great - but I'd be hard-pressed to pick out a favourite season, or even one I could impartially consider 'the best'. Like others here, it can depend on my mood, and I have a great amount of love for all the seasons, and how they all work together.

(Although, IMO, Season 2 is where shit gets real, and has transformed the friends I've introduced to Buffy from 'yeah, pretty good' to 'OMG MUST WATCH IT ALL NOW.') So in that sense, yeah, it's the best ;)
Just finished a rewatch a few months ago, and this time I would have to say five is still my favourite. Followed by three, four, two, six, seven and one.

Love them all, though.
I don't know that there is a "best" season. Obviously people have favourite seasons, but that doesn't make any one season the best.

As some other have mentioned, what I love most about Buffy is the way the seasons build on each other. I came in to Buffy part way through season 3, and started watching regularly in season 4. When I went back to the earlier seasons, I loved seeing so many things that had been referenced in later seasons. It's the continuity that gets me (not that there weren't a few issues with that along the way).

I just watched season 1 not long ago actually. I had watched the Much Ado trailer on youtube, and then started clicking on all these old interviews with the Buffy cast that showed up. It made me nostalgic, so I watched season 1 and I enjoyed all of it. I suppose the view changes with where you are looking from. :)

I will say season 2 was powerful. I watched it knowing that Angel was in season 3, and had his own show, but the end of season 2 ripped my heart out anyway.
The latter half of season two was where I started watching, and it thoroughly hooked me and broke my tweenage heart.

I really can't decide which one is my favorite though; they've all got their shining moments that contribute to the evolution of the characters and world that I am still, many years later, so completely in love with.
For me it's 5 & 6 as my very favorites, followed (*very* closely) by 2, 3 and 7. However, it's the second half of season 2 that made me a Buffy fan (I still remember rushing to order the boxset on Amazon right after watching Becoming II, still teary eyed, heh!)

I had this idea that among people who watched Buffy for the first time after the show ended, on dvds or with other means that make it possible to marathon through the episodes, 5 (especially) & 6 are more popular while 2 & 3 are loved the most by the fans that were there from the beginning.
There might be something to that, nyrk. I started part-way into season four and got addicted in season five. Five and Six are my favourites - it's a Spike thing, and I freely admit it.
Season 1 always comes out at the bottom, and I can't argue with that. But after I get to the end of S7, I always look forward to restarting with those early episodes. Free as they are from all the complications that came later, they always seem fresh, with first hints of later developments.
I'm pretty sure "Little Miss Muffet counting down" was a reference to Dawn showing up in Buffy VS Dracula, not Buffy sacrificing herself in The Gift.
"Miles to go, Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0" is indeed referencing The Gift. 730 days is 2 years, 2 years after Graduation Day is The Gift.
I got bored and asked what's the best tv season of Buffy via our Whedonesque Facebook account.

Season 3 seems to be storming into the lead but it's still early days.
In regards to "Miles to go," I always thought that it being a countdown to Buffy's death worked better, as it happens 2 years afterwards (at least in TV season terms.) However, I've heard that the line was actually in reference to the original intention of Dawn appearing at the end of season 5, but they decided to bring this forward. The reason Tara says that the clock is wrong in 'Restless' is because that 7-3-0 line was incorrect and it would happen sooner than Faith prophesied. This also makes more sense given that those who see Dawn for what she truly is also reference the nursery rhyme.

I don't remember where I heard/read this though, so might have just been spurious speculation and not accurate.
I don't have a facebook account. [sigh] You kids and all yer newfangled social networks...
3 & 5 were the most thematically cohesive. 2 may have been the most emotionally poignant.

[ edited by WhatsAStevedore on 2013-04-18 01:45 ]
In re: to the 730 thing, in Who Are You?, Faith(in Buffy's body) is shown looking at Buffy's i.d. card and the expiration date says 05/01. Thats a intentional foreshadowing of The Gift.
I' ve always thought 4 was underated.

Imo, the best season is 5, which is practically perfect.
I think there's something to the "speed watching on DVD vs. watching once a week" theory and that affecting how the seasons feel. Whenever I do a binge watch with a new convert, season 5 really stands out as the best for that. It flows together the best and just feels the more flawless the faster you watch it. Season 3 is a close second.

But for themes, I love S2 and S6. And S4 has really great stand alone episodes (RESTLESS!) and IMO is overall very underrated.

If I was to give the seasons points for the different qualities (themes + ovearching plot flowing together + good stand alones) and artificially try to determine an overall winner that way, I believe S3 would come out on top for me. So that tends to be the one I name as my favourite season. But it is a very complicated question!

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