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Joss Whedon Says The Best Thing He’ll Ever Do Is Buffy’s ‘The Body’ Episode


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Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, says that season 5's "The Body" is the best thing he'll ever do. Buffy was the cult-classic supernatural drama series about a young girl chosen by fate to battle against the forces of darkness. The series ran 7 seasons long before coming to a close. It starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as the titular character, as well as Alyson Hannigan, David Boreanaz, Nicholas Brendon, and Anthony Stewart Head. The series has spawned comics, video games, a spin-off, and legions of enthusiastic fans. The show garnered critical acclaim, has been studied for its cultural impact, and is found on several lists of the best television shows of all time.

There were some truly incredible episodes and story arcs throughout Buffy the Vampire Slayer's run. It's hard to forget the Acathla arc that culminates in Buffy being forced to kill her love, Angel, for instance. The musical episode from season 6, "Once More, With Feeling" is another unforgettable episode that led to fan meetups and joint singalongs across the country. "Hush," an entire episode without any dialogue at all, won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2000. Perhaps the most memorable episode, however, was "The Body." The episode starts with Buffy returning home to find her mother, Joyce, lifeless on the couch. The rest of the episode deals with the direct aftermath of this recurring character's death.

Joss Whedon sat down with Metro to discuss this emotionally powerful episode of television. Whedon breaks apart the different elements of this tragic story and talks about his own personal grief and experiences with loss, as well as how it impacted his approach to "The Body." Whedon explains, "My mother died when I was 27 in a car crash. But I didn’t really think about mining [the experience] until around season three." During the talk, Whedon shares that he believes, "[The Body] is probably the best thing I've done and the best thing I will ever do, and I'm OK with that. You know, there are worse epitaphs."

Whedon also discusses how he wanted to tell a story about grief, and in particular, its "dull eccentricities." He wanted to avoid giving any lessons or any sense of catharsis. Whedon was able to actualize this goal in the episode, through the brilliant performance by Gellar, the writing, the chilling absence of music, the direction - all the elements that came together to deliver a raw and impactful episode of television. In a show that focuses on the Slayer as she kills demons and vampires and countless innocent Sunnydale residents being doomed by virtue of living on a Hellmouth, this grounded-in-reality episode found a way to carry more emotional weight than almost everything that had come before it.

Leading up to "The Body," Buffy had been able to overcome almost every obstacle that had come her way. With her will, her strength, and the help of the "Scooby Gang," Buffy had always managed to pull through. Count on Buffy to kill the monster in the final hour, defeat the "Big Bad" when all hope seemed lost. But the one thing that she couldn't stop was death. There was no coming back, no incantation, or plot armor. Death was final, death was real. "The Body" was hard to watch and difficult to forget. It remains a quintessential story in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the genre in large.


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