On this (delayed) eighth day of the 30 Days of Halloween, I’m finally writing the final “chapter” of this Buffy the Vampire Slayer retrospective that started over three years ago. I had a few thoughts left that I wanted to share about the show and the impact that it’s had on my life, but I never got around to finishing it for various reasons. Like Real Life not being very kind to me and giving me the necessary time nor creative drive to write. Being an adult sucks sometimes, but it also has its benefits. Like meeting cast members from one of your favorite shows, or reliving episodes with fans who remember them fondly, or convincing friends to watch the show for the first time.
One thing I forgot to cover initially when I first started posting the various parts of my retrospective was giving much-needed attention to the soundtrack of the show. Music plays a very important in our lives for a variety of reasons, and many shows have utilized the power of the audio arts in many terrific ways. Lost Girl – for example – has had so many great songs featured in its episodes that have worked well with moving along the story, as well as giving us background sound to listen to during very important scenes. The same goes for another recent favorite of mine, Person Of Interest, that is very aware of the power of music and is very particular about the songs used in the show to emphasize the emotional value of a particular scene.
Buffy was one of the major shows in the early-1990’s that used lots of great music to accentuate an episode or really bring a scene to the forefront. Before Sarah McLachlan was more commonly associated with really sad commercials featuring abused animals (the ASPCA ads that play constantly on U.S. television during the weekends and evenings), her music was featured a few times on the show. One specific song, “Full of Grace” from the Surfacing album, played at the end of the Season Two episode “Becoming, Part 2,” and the emotional impact that it brought with it still resonates with many fans of the show to this day. You need to make a scene even sadder or more mentally devastating? Play a Sarah McLachlan song in the background.
All sarcasm aside, Joss Whedon definitely understood the power of music and really made it shine on Buffy. All the songs that are featured in an episode have a place in the scenes, and it doesn’t feel like they were just put there to have some pretty background noise to listen to. Each song is important in the storyline of that particular episode, and the feelings that we get from listening to them are real. These songs stay with us long after the episode has ended and we’ve come to recognize their importance and sometimes include them in the soundtrack of our own lives.
The nifty embedded player that I’ve added below features many of the songs that appeared on the show. It’s a showcase of some of the best underrated Alternative Rock tunes of the 1990’s and early-2000’s, and these songs still hold up very well after all these years. It’s easy to sit back, listen to them, and revisit the scenes that they were featured in.
I’ve included – separately – two very important pieces of music that aren’t featured in the playlist below. The first one is the most important of all: the show’s theme song courtesy of alt-pop-punk band Nerf Herder (extra geek points if you get the reference). The second is an original piece of music that was written for one of the beloved couples from the series: Buffy and Angel, aka Bangel. Shout-out to my fellow Bangel fans! (I’m a multi-shipper that ships all the canon and fanon couples). The most important use of that theme song came at the end of “Becoming, Part 2;” we all know what scene I’m talking about.
“Close Your Eyes (Buffy & Angel’s Theme)” by Christophe Beck
There’s some theme songs that make me curl up into a tight ball and make me cry, curled up in a corner and letting all my fangirl feelings out. This theme song is a perfect example. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Buffy and Angel’s relationship, this is a really beautiful and haunting musical composition from series composer Christophe Beck. Starting off quietly before climaxing into a powerfully epic conclusion, “Close Your Eyes” was used most effectively in the episode “Becoming, Part 2.”
I’ve mentioned the episode several times in this retrospective. I’ve even mentioned how much that particular scene affected me. But I’ve got share it again to finally move on and cry over my other OTP’s.
Towards the end of “Becoming, Part 2,” Angelus was fighting Buffy in one hell of a ferocious battle, and he seemingly bested her at one point until she fought back. Just as she was about to defeat him and close the Hell portal that was opening from the ancient demon Acathla’s maw, Willow’s spell to restore Angel’s soul succeeded at the last minute – of course. Buffy stopped just before she ran him through with her sword, and the expression on his face… Ugh. Don’t wanna talk about it.
Anyway, the theme starts to play in the background as Buffy and Angel talk a little bit, and she professes her love for him. Then the time has arrived for Buffy to close the Hell portal using Angel’s blood (which opened it in the first place), but she can’t bring herself to do it while he’s tearfully staring at her, brooding even more than usual. She quietly (and also tearfully) asks him to close his eyes, and he obliges, before she does run her sword through him, killing the love of her life while saving the world. Sometimes ya gotta sacrifice one for the many, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
I’m a bit sad that this retrospective has come to an end. While it may be the “final curtain call,” it doesn’t mean that there’s not a possibility of more posts appearing in the future. You can’t truncate Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the impact that it’s had on pop culture in general in so many words – it’s impossible. I can offer my thoughts & feelings on it and share it with the rest of the world, as well as having fellow fans speak about the impact the show has had on their own lives.
Without Buffy, I wouldn’t be here on this soil. It’s saved my life in so many ways, and I will be forever grateful to Joss for his creation. Buffy helped open the door for me creatively in a lot of ways. It also led me to the series Angel, which helped me discover my current favorite actress, who I’ve had the opportunity to meet not once, but twice, this year. I can’t mention them JUST YET because they’re going to be the focus of Sunday’s Halloween Countdown post. The only hint I’m giving is that while they are the most genuine and kindest person I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting, they’ve played some of the most morally-gray characters ever, and even a villain or two.
Thank you for taking the time in following me on this very long journey. If you have never seen an episode of Buffy yet…why are you still on this site reading this post? Go watch it now! Binge on it! You’ll thank me later for being addicted to it and adding it to your own personal list of favorite TV shows. My lovely co-writer will be adding her own thoughts on the show too, so be on the lookout for that soon.
I leave you with two videos showcasing the wondrous joy and insanity that is Buffy’s musical episode: “Once More With Feeling.” Joss arranged & produced the musical arrangements with collaborator Jesse Tobias. Fun Fact: Jesse was one of the touring guitarists for Alanis Morissette in her backing band, named Sexual Chocolate, during her major Jagged Little Pill tour after that record was released.
“Once More With Feeling” – Behind the Scenes