Movies + TV

The Rodarte Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Serious spoiler alert!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned the stereotypes of the horror genre on their heads. Before she was “chosen” to be a slayer, Buffy Summers was a typical teenage girl with average ambitions. She seemed like the ditzy blonde that is usually murdered alone in the alleyway. And to top it all off, her name was the most harmless name that anyone could really think of.

Joss Whedon’s Buffy is one of the most powerful female characters ever developed. She was asked to save the world in every episode. She lost her mother, her life (a few times), and those nearest to her. She was almost always selfless, and always fast with a quip. She was always the person to root for.

Here’s a list of our favorite episodes from the show’s seven-season run. If you’ve never watched Buffy, these are a good starting point. If you’re already a fan, what do you need us for? Except as an excuse to look at some pictures from some of the best BtVS eps ever.

Spoilers like crazy throughout.

Season 1, episode 7: “Angel”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer compares high school life to various horror tropes. Here Angel, the first guy that Buffy truly likes, turns out to be a vampire.

Season 1, episode 12: “Prophecy Girl”
When guest editing a recent issue of A Magazine, we were allowed to visit the Buffy costume archives with Katie Lucas (who interviewed Joss Whedon for the issue), and we were amazed to find Buffy’s blood-stained white gown alongside Angel’s leather jacket.

Season 2, episodes 13 and 14: “Surprise/Innocence”
“Surprise” has one of our favorite lines by Willow—“It’s Happy Birthday Buffy!”—and is the best analysis of high school first loves. Joss Whedon created the vampire/human love story, and its shocking turn, with Angel becoming a mother’s worst nightmare and a 16-year-old’s evil boyfriend, is honest and intelligent.

Season 2, episode 17: “Passion”
This episode is perfectly written and captures horror in a very humanistic manner. The story is told through Angel’s narration; so while you are seeing the terror he is inflicting, it’s often from his point of view. He wants to torture Buffy. He stalks her. Harasses her. And his obsession leads to the murder of Jenny Calendar, which shatters her new boyfriend (and Buffy’s mentor), Giles, and has repercussions throughout this season and the next one.

Season 2, episode 22: “Becoming (Part 2)”
This is one of the hardest episodes for us to watch. It is heartbreaking. Buffy’s world is destroyed in season two, and while we hate to ruin it (stop reading if you don’t want us to ruin it), the climax, where Buffy finally has to kill Angel, coincides inconveniently with his sudden cure. He is no longer the evil character that had tortured Buffy and her friends. He’s Buffy’s ex-boyfriend, her first love, again. She stabs him and sends him to a literal hell and she still has to go on living without telling anyone that she killed the man that she once loved. It is pretty complicated.

Season 3, episode 15: “Consequences”
Buffy deals with what it means to live such a violent life.

Season 3, episode 20: “The Prom”
We were all excited to see Buffy awarded a token of her class’s appreciation of her commitment to saving their lives.

Season 4, episode 10: “Hush”
This is a masterpiece of television. It is a story told in silence. The episode’s bad guys, the Gentlemen, are the scariest villains ever on the show.

Season 5, episode 16: “The Body”
Buffy’s mother passes away, and this episode tells the story of her death in a second-by-second narrative. Haunting.

Season 5, episode 22: “The Gift”
“She saved the world. A lot.”

Season 6, episode 7: “Once More, With Feeling”
Another genius idea by Joss Whedon. He wanted to explore the most terrifying emotions related to Buffy’s death in season five through song…and dance.

Season 7, episode 7: “Conversations With Dead People”
An abstract ghost story involving the best characters. Perfectly written, again.

Season 7, episode 22: “Chosen”
The Sunnydale sign at the end is such a hard image to get past. The sign, which reads “Welcome to Sunnydale. Enjoy Your Stay!” is a constant reminder of where this story is taking place: a sunny California city that was built on top of a portal called the Hellmouth. It’s where Buffy and her friends live, and also a place where evil likes to lurk. The last-ever shot of this sign, next to the collapsed Hellmouth, was the perfect way to remind fans, and to celebrate, what the show accomplished in its seven seasons. ♦

Kate and Laura Mulleavy started the label Rodarte in 2005. They live in Pasadena, California.

52 Comments

  • Susann January 26th, 2012 3:07 PM

    Good post! I have some serious catching up to do!

    http://fashioninpepperland.blogspot.com

  • christinachristina January 26th, 2012 3:12 PM

    i’m so glad this just happened.

  • January 26th, 2012 3:22 PM

    I would never have thought to explore terrifying emotion through song and dance! And is that Harriet I can spy in the 3rd last photo? [sorry] :-)

    • toridori69 January 26th, 2012 5:06 PM

      yes, she played buffy’s sister in later seasons

  • Threees January 26th, 2012 3:27 PM

    Yes yes yes! And also “New Moon Rising” from season 4, episode 19.

  • MissKnowItAll January 26th, 2012 3:28 PM

    Does Sarah Michelle Geller from cruel intentions play Buffy?

    • Anna F. January 26th, 2012 3:31 PM

      No, Sarah Michelle Gellar from Buffy happens to be in cruel intentions ;)

  • Anna F. January 26th, 2012 3:30 PM

    Becoming, Part 2 no joke changed my life when I was thirteen. That whole “No weapons, no friends, no hope” exchange had a huge influence on me learning to identify as a feminist.

    • crimsonandclover January 26th, 2012 6:29 PM

      Me too! I have that quote up on my wall as a sort of mission statement. ;)

  • Georgie girl January 26th, 2012 3:50 PM

    I watched this entire series a few summers ago. I remember going to bed after watching The Body and crying for hours. This show is just mind-blowingly good.

  • urpallk January 26th, 2012 4:01 PM

    When I was 14, I wanted to start a church with the central doctrine that watching Becoming, Pt. 2 over and over again is the key to salvation.

  • RockHatesMiriam January 26th, 2012 4:36 PM

    Even from the title I could tell this was going to be preeetty special… I mean how often do you get Rodarte and Buffy in the same article..

    http://www.rockhatesmiriam.blogspot.com

  • Lucas January 26th, 2012 4:42 PM

    Buffy have been one of my favourite shows ever!
    My sister and I use to sing and dance all the performance from once more, with feelings haha

  • toridori69 January 26th, 2012 5:07 PM

    i watched the episode ‘hush’ when it aired on television, i was 9 at the time and had nightmares for months!

  • unefillecommetoi January 26th, 2012 5:21 PM

    Oh god oh god Rodarte + Buffy… this is the greatest thing that has happened to the universe.
    The episode where Buffy’s mom dies is one of the best written episodes of the whole show, and I love that it has no background music so you have to deal with every emotion face to face.
    I really think you put together THE best Buffy episodes ever :)
    Well, also, the season finale of season 4 is awesome too! It goes through the main character’s dreams, and Giles sings at the Bronze!
    And what about that episode featuring Cibo Matto?
    And the first episode where Spike and Buffy make love! They destroy an entire house, but still. It’s (darkly and strangely) incredibly romantic.
    I agree that The Gentleman are the best villains.
    We should make a post about the worst Buffy episodes. Like the one when she turns into a caveman after drinking beer.

    And I just realized I’m a total buffy geek.. okay… I’ll go now

    I love your designs, girls in Rodarte :D
    xo
    Elena

    • Sarah January 27th, 2012 12:21 AM

      !!”Smashed” when Buffy and Spike first have sex AHHH i watched it last night for the trillionth time it’s SO FUCKING HOT
      ++ basically the Riley years weren’t my favorite
      EXCEPT the one where they go to a party at that house and it makes everyone really sexual and crazy and then yea//
      <3 Buffy 4eva

      • unefillecommetoi January 27th, 2012 10:58 AM

        yeah i think that’s the worse season too, but Hush saves it
        ohh that episode is so weird with the orgasm wall

  • nina19 January 26th, 2012 5:54 PM

    ah Buffy is the most wonderful show ever. I watched every single episode over and over last summer and I’m planning on doing that again. It could turn into a tradition. Like, the best tradition ever. Let’s just start a national watch Buffy day. Yes.

    http://heres-to-nina.blogspot.com/

  • Alexandra January 26th, 2012 6:10 PM

    BUFFY FOREVER!
    However I would like to add Storyteller to the list.
    Spike <3
    that is all.

  • Stewart January 26th, 2012 6:42 PM

    BUFFY! So much Buffy. I approve.
    Although I think some Darth Willow needs to be added to the list.

  • insteadofanelephant January 26th, 2012 6:55 PM

    love this.

    instead of an elephant

  • steph.anie11 January 26th, 2012 7:29 PM

    Buffy is absolutely amazing! I feel like when I’ve been through rough times in life, I always turn to watch it. Truly Awesome!

  • pirateliat January 26th, 2012 8:03 PM

    Oh wow, I remember watching the episode ‘Hushed’ as a kid, and boy, did it FREAK ME OUT. I used to whisper to myself at night just to make sure I’ve still got my voice! I’m kind of glad to see that I wasn’t the only one spooked out of my mind from that episode…

  • Piranha D. January 26th, 2012 8:19 PM

    Buffy is awesome, but Rookie also needs an article about Willow Rosenberg! In a very bad way!

    • unefillecommetoi January 27th, 2012 11:03 AM

      AND one about actually hot vampire guys like Spike and Angel

  • Gabrielle January 26th, 2012 8:19 PM

    One of the actresses from Buffy was on a Miss Swan (the best youtube videos ever) spoof of Buffy. Look it up, I’ll never tell

  • impromptulove January 26th, 2012 9:23 PM

    Buffffy! Love this show so much.

    One thing, though–at the beginning, with all the touting of the show as great for women/girls in a girl powery, eff yeah little femme girls can kick ass sort of way, I would have liked to see a little bit of criticism, too. Buffy is amazing a lot of ways, but from a feminist perspective it is also pretty problematic. It’s even worse in terms of race stuff.

    All of that it really unfortunate, because in other ways it’s absolutely great from a feminist perspective. Yeah. But those really are totally awesome episodes! Hush is my favorite. Also, it’s really fun to dress in fuzzy Willow-inspired and tanktoppy Buffy-inspired outfits.

  • kaylafay January 26th, 2012 11:01 PM

    i cannot even describe how happy this just made me. is it weird that i want to hang out with Kate and Laura now?

  • amythecat January 27th, 2012 12:11 AM

    what designer will write the guide to Angel?

  • TheAutumnIssue January 27th, 2012 12:25 AM

    This is incredible! I just saw them speak at LACMA and I’m working on a recap of the lecture to post this weekend. Their appreciation, borderline obsession with horror really makes their stunning creations that much more beautiful and interesting.

    http://theautumnissue.com

  • SweetThangVintage January 27th, 2012 2:28 AM

    Ah buffy! I rank the ‘Hush’ episode right up there with the ‘are you my mummy?’ episode of Doctor Who. SO intense! I think I need to have another buffy marathon…

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetThangVintage

  • Lex January 27th, 2012 2:58 AM

    I have been watching Buffy since I was little girl and it is still one of my favorite shows of all time. This show represents something rarely seen on television.That is a woman who is not a victim..She is a warrior that is smart ,funny, and stronger than men. Plus it is a great fix for anyone who loves horror!

  • Zoe with two dots January 27th, 2012 3:35 AM

    This. Is. Amazing.

    Further reasons to love Rookie <3

  • timelady January 27th, 2012 3:50 AM

    It must be bunnies!

    I love Buffy so much. And Giles was my first older man crush. Anthony Head is the reason I started watching Merlin in the first place (besides Colin Morgan from Doctor Who).

    When Buffy finds out Angel’s a vampire, she screams in terror, which is the normal reaction (see Bella Swan for abnormal).

    The Body is my favorite episode. Anya’s speech was perfection, and she really turned out to be the most human of them all.

    She was my hero. All I ever wanted was her strength, Willow’s magic, and Anya’s quirkiness.

    Thank you for this post, Rookie. It makes a generation of Buffy fans happy.

    • S January 27th, 2012 12:27 PM

      To be fair, Angelus is a far more terrifying vampire than edward.
      (- -)
      (vv)

      And Anya’s speech? I cry every single time.

  • Helena January 27th, 2012 4:32 AM

    Buffy and Rodarte…too good to be true!!! hahaha LOVE IT, so many good memories come to my mind every time there is something related to this show!!<3

  • mamacass January 27th, 2012 10:48 AM

    I kind of want to watch all of Buffy now.

  • glosushilover January 27th, 2012 12:48 PM

    I love buffy it changed my life.. wish I’d seen it sooner!

  • Taylor January 27th, 2012 4:25 PM

    Should have mentioned the Lynchian episode “Restless.” But seriously, Buffy is so good so good so so so so so so good and I firmly believe that if all but ONE person on this planet were to watch Buffy, it wouldn’t be enough.

  • preachypreach January 27th, 2012 6:46 PM

    i’m still as obssessed with buffy now as i was when i was 10.

  • koolkat January 28th, 2012 4:21 PM

    I kind of did a silent scream when I saw the word ‘Rodarte’ and then I saw ‘Buffy’ and the world was complete. :D

    When I was a kid I remember my mum was obsessed with Buffy (which is weird because she’s… old?). I don’t really remember it but this has totally convinced me to go and watch, like, every episode.

  • Arturo82 January 28th, 2012 8:50 PM

    I loved Buffy throughout high school and college. It somehow made being a teenager easier, especially as a gay guy. To my surprise, this article (and the fact that Rodarte is tied to it) coincidentally comes at a time when I’m reliving the Buffyverse on Netflix. It’s awesome!

    *Spoilers Ahead*

    But as a geek, and don’t hate me for this, I have to point out a few things:

    1) While I understand that you described Giles as her mentor in this article, I can’t stand by it. He was her Watcher.

    2) What made “The Body” so compelling wasn’t only the fact that her mom had died. It was harder to bear because her death wasn’t caused by mystical forces. It was also heartbreaking to see Anya experience a whole new human emotion that she couldn’t grasp.

    3) A best episode that wasn’t listed: Willow becomes the Big Bad. How gnarly was that? You cheered for/against her.

    4) Another episode not on the list: Showtime. After a tough season watching Buffy tortured with the thought of her own resurrection, it was amazing to see her practice what she preached to the Potentials: bringing the Apocalypse to The First by killing uber-vamp, Turok-Han.

    Okay, I just think I out-geeked myself. Rodarte + Buffy = What A Dream! I just now hope producers for the upcoming Buffy re-make/re-adaptation won’t approach the Mulleavy’s to work on costume/styling. That would ruin the Whedonverse.

  • KinuKinu January 29th, 2012 5:01 PM

    Never watched this before. But i Love Joss Whedon, so maybe I should.

    • KinuKinu February 9th, 2012 5:31 PM

      I watched it.LOVED IT.

  • loveandsqualor January 29th, 2012 7:36 PM

    this is so awesome…I love buffy! check out my blog
    http://fromesmewithloveandsqualor.wordpress.com/

  • Brookems January 29th, 2012 11:05 PM

    A buffy article to end my night with? Love it. buffy is for girls of every generation.

  • lionhairedgirl February 7th, 2012 12:12 PM

    the fan in me wants to share this with everyone i know, but i don’t wanna spoil anything so wonderful!!!

    this list is magical. from one slayerette to another, good job!

  • KinuKinu February 9th, 2012 5:29 PM

    O.K so I watched it and and i loved it.This is my type of thing(monsters vampires demons) with a mix a GIRL POWER!!Joss Whedon is THE BEST!

  • pantypockets February 16th, 2012 5:07 PM

    Kristy Swanson “Buffy” > Gellar “Buffy”… hands down. How can you overlook the amazing movie that came YEARS before the television show… Luke Perry’s character “Pike” was the icing in the cake!

  • mextasy February 20th, 2012 11:13 PM

    BUFFY4EVER

    http://slayerstitches.tumblr.com/

  • Fireflyeyes April 17th, 2012 8:59 PM

    Oh Buffy, I started watching it 14 years after the first season aired but now I am hooked. Changed my life. And I definitely have the soundtrack of “Once More With Feeling” on my ipod and listen to it repetitively when I’m sad. My husband makes fun of my crush on Spike.

  • yesgrrrl May 14th, 2012 7:07 PM

    Hush and The Body are srsly two of the best episodes of TV ever (not just this series).