Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thirty Days of Buffy, Day 1: Favorite Season

And the winner iiiiiiiis: 

This one really should be a tie, but I think Season Three beats out Season Two by just a hair. While Two is what really got me invested in the show, Three definitely made me love BtVS. It has one of the most cohesive storylines of the entire series. From the first episode all the way to the last, the theme of growing up and all the shittiness that it involves is woven beautifully into each plot point and ugh. I just love this season. We watch as Buffy starts pulling away further and further from people, which I'll get into in a second, as Willow is starting down the path that will lead her to be Season Six's villain, as Cordy begins her maturation process that she completes in Angel, as Xander is being the biggest douche that has ever douched, as Giles gradually becomes the sexiest thing ever and, on a more serious note, is slowly turning into more of a mentor instead of a father figure, as Oz is officially made an integral part of the Scooby Gang, a place that I don't think Tara ever really got (even though I prefer Willow with Tara for many reasons). The characterization is just supreme, even with the minor characters (except for in "Beauty and the Beasts" which ew, just gross).
This also happened.
Another theme, that I think pairs well with growing up, is the study of identity, which like growing up, is present from the very first episode. I mean, the series premier, "Anne," has Lily assuming Buffy's LA identity at the end of the episode, and Buffy is reflected (and juxtaposed) by Faith throughout the season. Willow is starting to come into her own, and Giles' role of the Watcher is in a flux that he will resolve in the following seasons. It's actually a little bizarre to look back on Season Three and know where everyone is headed, and it kind of fills me with a bit of happiness and dread all mixed together.
Three is also that season that is just full to the brim with excellent episodes ("Anne," "Homecoming," "Band Candy," "Revelations," "Lover's Walk," "The Wish," "Helpless," "The Zeppo," "Bad Girls," "Consequences," "Dopplegangland," "Enemies," "Choices," "Graduation Day" - seriously, sixteen out of twenty-two episodes being incredible is ... well, incredible), and even the not so good ones ("Dead Man's Party," "Faith, Hope, and Trick," "Beauty and the Beasts," "Amends," "Gingerbread," and "Earshot") outshine the worst of Season Six and Seven, although, to be fair, that's not so hard.
"Dead Man's Party" comes pretty close to being all-consuming suckage.
Now, this is also the last season that I really feel the core group is at its best. Seasons Four through Seven just don't show the same interpersonal connections as the first three do, which is a part of growing up (see, theeeeeeme!). In those later seasons, it's almost as if they hang out because of the history they have as the Scoobies and the common duty of protecting the world of demons and not because they are friends. Part of the blame, I think, lies on Buffy and the events of the previous Season Two. She is the Slayer, after all, and a great deal of that duty is understanding that she is supposed to be a solitary fighter. She still relies greatly on her friends in Season Three, but you can see how she's starting to pull away: she doesn't tell anyone about Angel being resurrected and keeps a lot of her emotions to herself. In Season Five, Spike tells her a major part of her difference from previous Slayers is because she has something to fight for (friends, family, etc.), but she does a pretty damned good job of trying to keep those same people from getting in. While that does start in Season Two ("When She Was Bad"), it really starts to show in Three.
Poor, lonely Buffy.
This season is as close to perfection as Buffy ever got. Season Five is probably the closest in cohesion (and was actually the reason that I decided to continue watching the series during its initial run - Season Four wasn't exactly the best follow-up to the wonderfulness that was Three, although I've come to appreciate Four more since I bought the entire series on DVD), and Season Two really pulls at your heartstrings like nobody's business. Three is the one that I continually go back to, just to rewatch the awesomeness. You know, I am going to go do that right now.
"We survived."

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