Buffy 5×16: The Body

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 02/27/2001]

There’s not much I can say that hasn’t been said already about “The Body.” It’s a brilliant masterpiece that is further proof that the Emmy Awards are meaningless. I will not lie–this is a tough episode to watch and, honestly, I am repulsed by the idea of dissecting and analyzing it. In light of this I decided not to take very many notes, not discuss many of the details, and not nitpick about specifics.

This episode is presented in a manner that parallels our actual lives. Even shows that are based on ‘reality,’ such as the endless slew of cop, law, and medical dramas, are in reality very little like our actual lives, or even the lives of people in those professions. I’ve lost a loved relative and was there during the following hours after her death. What I experienced was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before in my life–this odd numbness where I couldn’t feel, couldn’t think, and felt like I was hearing people speak through an audio fog. To think that an episode of television could capture that unique feeling, and then convey it to complete perfection, seems like nonsense. After all, when a beloved character on a television show dies, you’ve got to have the endless sobbing and swelling sad music.

Somehow, though, Joss Whedon has done it. It’s well known that he wrote this episode from his own experience of seeing death. That must be why what is on display here is unbelievably powerful–a work of ‘life,’ if you will. “The Body” isn’t about Joyce at all, but rather the “negative space” around her body–as in, how this death affects everyone close to her. And affect everyone close to her it does, in a major series-changing way. From this point on Buffy the Vampire Slayer is not the same series. Some see this full-on dive into darkness as the wrong direction. I, on the other hand, see it as a welcome path. The characters have gotten older, so it’s time the series got older with it. What follows through the end of the series is dark, complex, compelling, and at times absolutely riveting.

How about Sarah Michelle Gellar? This girl puts out amazing performances on this show so often, I often forget just how talented she is. There’s not one moment in this entire episode where I don’t buy that she’s feeling exactly what I felt in my own experience. Whedon uses a whole variety of simple techniques to help us see through Buffy’s eyes and feel Buffy’s heart: quick cuts, hopeful dream flashes, odd framing, blurring, and brash physicality (among other things). Additionally, the complete lack of any music is a unique and gutsy move by Whedon, but it pays unparalleled dividends here. Instead of pointing each technique out let me just say they all work perfectly for me and wonderfully add to the realism that Whedon has achieved here.

The one specific thing I feel the need to discuss is the vampire in the final act. The first time I saw the episode I must admit that I was pulled out of the sense of realism that Whedon spent the entire episode holding onto. I even felt that it really hurt the episode. Since then, after hearing Whedon’s commentary and rewatching the episode several times, it just doesn’t bug me anymore. I accept Whedon’s reasoning at face value, and it makes well enough sense from a story perspective. It is meant to show us that even in the face of tremendous personal tragedy the world outside still goes on. This is shown in different ways throughout the episode which include Buffy staring blankly out her back porch and hearing the sound of children laughing, Xander getting a parking ticket, and then finally Buffy being forced into a very ugly fight with a vampire. For Buffy, this fight represents her day-to-day life forcing itself on her, not caring that she’s experiencing tremendous loss. I agree that the episode would have been just as potent without the vampire, but it being there doesn’t bother me anymore.

I want to apologize if you wanted a more detailed analysis from me. “The Body” is not complex nor is it meant to be. Simply watch the episode, listen to Whedon’s commentary, put yourself in Buffy’s shoes, and the episode will review itself. This is a piece of life that is rarely depicted outside of each of our lives. On display are emotions so naked and raw that we’re forced to see just how beautiful and magnificent human life can be. As Anya will soon say in “Forever” [5×17] , “I’m not ready to make life with you. But I could. We could. Life could come out of our love and our smooshing and that’s beautiful. It all makes me feel we’re a part of something bigger. Like I’m more awake somehow.” Anya, you nailed both the confusion of death and the miracle of life. Now, as Willow says, ” I wanna be there for Buffy.” As do I.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Buffy simply tells Giles “she’s at the house,” which is a simple way to get Giles over asap thinking Glory is there.
+ Anya being a lot more concerned about Xander’s hand being in wall now than she would have been before.
+ Xander’s little smile after Tara says, “it hurts,” which offers him a brief break from the numbness–a feeling of life.
+ Tara offering Buffy any help she needs. I’m reminded of Tara being Buffy’s cry doll in “Triangle” [5×11] , which was one piece of their growing bond. Their scene together here is another piece. These building blocks add up to why Buffy chooses Tara for assistance in “Dead Things” [6×13] .


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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106 thoughts on “Buffy 5×16: The Body”

  1. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on January 10, 2007.]

    “A daughter’s duty I suppose!”

    And another important thing to add up to Whedon’s greatness:
    The first girl-on-girl-kiss is in this episode!!!

    Like

  2. [Note: Rick posted this comment on January 10, 2007.]

    Your right to say the series really does change forever after this episode, and in my opinion, for the better. The complexity of the last three seasons is wonderful. And the darkness, oh, how I love the darkness.

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  3. [Note: Fallen posted this comment on January 10, 2007.]

    With all the great episodes that come after this one, it’s hard to think of The Body as anything but the peak of the show. It doesn’t get any better than this episode, and I think everyone in the world can related to it in some form or another. It’s the true meaning of art to inspire those feelings in people, and an episode like this shows just how seriously Buffy deserves to be taken as art.

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  4. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 11, 2007.]

    Probably the second best episode after Normal Again. Mike, your comment about the Vampire at the end pulling Buffy back into reality reminded me strongly about the way Buffy’s life is defended as reality in Normal Again. It’s the first time it seriously strikes you that Buffy’s life is much worse than reality.

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  5. [Note: Emily posted this comment on January 14, 2007.]

    I really felt that the vampire made the ending much more powerful. The scene where Dawn reaches out to touch her would not have worked so brilliantly otherwise.

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  6. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on July 20, 2007.]

    The episode that I consistently cry while watching. It gives me a stomach ache about halfway through, but its SO brilliantly done that I have to rewatch it. Joss has my undying respect no matter what he produces after this. I can’t imagine any other show on television or cable showing the immediate aftermath of a death like this.

    The killer moment for me? Buffy chasing Giles from the hallway and trying to tell him it’s too late to help her mother. That moment when she yells, “We’re not supposed to move the body!” and that awful moment afterward when you can see the horrible realization of what she just said on her face. SMG did such a phenomenal job with such a simple hand over mouth/eyes wide gesture that just physically slaps me every time.

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  7. [Note: Argo Plummer posted this comment on August 22, 2007.]

    I just watched I Was Made to Love You on FX. Tomorrow they will show The Body. I am alternately excited to see this brilliant piece of television and nauseous to have to experience it again. I recently listed my top 5 Buffy episodes of all time for a friend and this was my number 5. It is probably the best episode of the series, but not my favorite because it is too difficult and painful to watch. The difficulty and pain come not from the acting, which is superb, or the writing, which is spot on, but from the truth that those two things illuminate–the pain, confusion, and numbness that come from losing someone. For me, it always makes me think of my grandfather, who died alomst four years ago. I think it’s a testament to this episode that the mere thought of watching it tomorrow can bring me back to the joy of my grandfather’s life and the sorrow of his death.

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  8. [Note: James posted this comment on September 8, 2007.]

    I’ve always thought the vampire fight at the end was a sensational addition (not really in a good way, of course). It was just such a horrible thing to happen to them.

    It wasn’t so much the fact that they were attacked by a vampire that made it horrible, it was the fact that they were attacked by a naked man. Contrasted with Buffy and Dawn’s grief, his nakedness seemed like the ultimate disrespect. The girls were so young and lost in that moment, and it gave me a really uncomfortable feeling as though he was preying on them in an almost paedophelic way.

    Very disturbing, but truly great writing.

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  9. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 12, 2007.]

    Absolutely heart-wrenching episode. I usually start crying when Buffy’s doing CPR. I don’t stop until the end. It’s amazing what Joss manages to do with no music and just long scenes. The series doesn’t get any better.

    It is a painful episode to watch, though, and it does mark the point in the series where everybody has to grow up. Buffy, of course, because she no longer has her mom. That’s something she struggles with until the end.

    I give the biggest props to Joss for taking such a risk with this episode and for suceeding.

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  10. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 27, 2007.]

    This is a beautiful episode and a masterpiece but really painful to watch. SMG does a wonderful job here and the look on her face when she calls Joyce “the body” and she starts realising the truth is heartbreaking and the fact that there´s no music. I cry through the whole episode. Joss Whedon and team did it again.

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  11. [Note: Elia posted this comment on December 2, 2007.]

    I’ve never been so shaken up during an episode ever….but the Joss’ directing and EVERYBODY’s acting was just sooo freaking good that it almost brought me to tears.

    I usually hate shows or movies that try to be TOO REAL (a lot of independent movies try this) but end up completely lack the enjoyable factor and the entertainment factor. But this just WORKED on all levels.

    And again, I find more and more similarities between myself and Xander everytime I watch this show. Because that is exactly how I would be.

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  12. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on February 28, 2008.]

    I can only agree with what everyone above says. This episode for me is the best of the series because of the emotions and feelings it elicits. But it couldn’t watch it too often. It leaves me completely numb. Which it wouldn’t do, if it weren’t so utterly brilliant. I’m re-watching the entire series on dvd and ever since season 5 came into view I was both wanting and dreading this episode. Amazing.

    When I first saw the episode I had mixed feelings about the vampire. It didn’t fit for my feeling. When watching the episode again, it didn’t bother me much, but I’m still not sure if the episode wouldn’t have been better without it (for me, that is). Joss Whedon’s reasoning makes sense, but it is still something that takes you out of the moment a bit. For Buffy vampires might be daily life, for me they are not. Luckily it is near the end of the episode and the powerful scene after the fight draws me right back in.

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  13. [Note: lee posted this comment on May 4, 2008.]

    em, is everyone insane… best episode ever????? a 100 pt rating??? come on. yeah it a good ep, moving, emotional blah blah blah. boring too after the 1st time u see it. OK, here goes. B v D, out of my mind, no place like home, FFL, in2 the woods, checkpoint, crush, and the last 5 are all better. So its actually the 13th best episode of the season.

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  14. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    ahhh yes this only comes in just after that scene from star wars two when anikans mom has just died. yeh that had me crying big time. however i actually liked forever better.

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  15. [Note: Chance posted this comment on June 21, 2008.]

    The speech by Emma Caufield (Anya) about not understanding death is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever heard. Truly brilliant.

    Like

  16. [Note: Steph posted this comment on July 14, 2008.]

    I was always a little confused as to why Willow was changing her clothes so much. Was that symbolic somehow or just a way that she was expressing her grief?

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  17. [Note: Steph posted this comment on July 14, 2008.]

    Also, concerning that blue sweater that Wil was looking for the entire time, did Anya actually find it? I think there’s a short scene when she’s sitting down on it, then Anya picks it up and stuffs it back inside of the dresser without Willow seeing.

    I feel like that might mean something too.

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  18. [Note: Ray posted this comment on July 27, 2008.]

    I think this was the first episode of Buffy I ever watched (flipping through) before formally watching the series; the vampire scene being the most memorable since I caught it later on in the episode.

    When Xander punched the wall (I had reservations about this because it felt like overdone tough man acting), it immediately reminded me of Joyce talking to Buffy behind the wall in Restless. God I love this show.

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  19. [Note: Paula posted this comment on August 8, 2008.]

    Steph, Willow’s constant change of clothes stems (according to some interview) from Whedon’s experience of his own behavior following a death in his family or among his friends (I forget which). One’s brains don’t really function normally in such circumstances and it’s easy to become obsessed with little details like what you should be wearing. And having experienced such situations myself, it rang very true to me.

    So not really symbolic, no. It’s just the way real people tend to react to sudden shocks like this.

    Regarding the sweater: Anya didn’t know Willow was looking for it, and she just stuffed it away without Willow seeing. I guess that might possibly “mean something”, but I personally took it as just another piece of reality.

    Like

  20. [Note: Inferno posted this comment on September 2, 2008.]

    Simply put. The single greatest hour in the history of media. Im talking film, documentaries, television, music, everything. I have never witnessed a masterpiece like this episode.

    I watched BtVS from WTTH, to Chosen. Greatest show ever, but this episode is….well…Remarkable. There is nothing more to be said. After losing my father a few months back, it becomes even more powerful. I am currently rewatching the series, and am only 4 episodes away from this one. I must admit, I am scared to watch it. I tear up (yes, i am a straight guy) everytime I watch it, but now that I have actually endured what Buffy has endured, I am not sure how I will handle it. I may have another meltdown.

    When an episode of television, or film, or music, or whatever, can illicit that kind of response from its audience. It is a masterpiece. This is the best of the best IMHO.

    Like

  21. [Note: N2NOther posted this comment on September 4, 2008.]

    Easily my favourite episode of the entire series. I watched it last Friday, teared up and now just reading the moments everyone is bringing up made me tear up again. I’ve watched a lot of TV in my life and no other show bears repeat viewing and remains as entertaining as ever as Buffy. I genuinely miss this show.

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  22. [Note: from asturies, spain posted this comment on September 6, 2008.]

    Television can’t get any better than here. Everything in this episode is perfect… except the sad gut feeling one gets every time I watch it. But, wait a minute, that’s another point in its “perfectness”, isn’t it?

    When one of my closest, and dearest, relatives died after a long and painful illness I couldn’t bear to watch the body, I just felt so depressed and anguished… After watching this episode, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be ready to face the experience when it comes again. Because I know I’m not alone. And life goes on.

    Thanks Mr Whedon.

    Like

  23. [Note: adastra posted this comment on September 6, 2008.]

    The most perfect episode of television ever, as everyone already mentioned. I watched this about 3-4 years ago when I first got very curious about Buffy, and it was really shocking because I had no idea what the episode was about (someone just recommended it). On top of that, back then a member of my family recently had a brain tumor removed which kinda made things worse for me (though the tumor wasn’t malicious and everything went well).
    After that, for some reason it still took me until early this year to really start watching the show for real.

    I just rewatched it and I noticed that Anya has a very important moment in the episode when she breaks down in Willow’s dorm – if I’m right, this is the first time ever we see her showing real emotion without being overly literal, snappy or disrespectful or something. And this scene also explains that she really does have a hard time trying to be a ‘real’ human.

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  24. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on September 16, 2008.]

    “now remember you’re not drawing the body but the negative space around it”
    simply brilliant way of describing the episode just wish i could have picked up on it while actually watching the episode.

    Like

  25. [Note: Tony posted this comment on September 22, 2008.]

    Anya finding the sweater and stuffing it was for a bit of comic relief… It’s not supposed to mean anything, lol.

    The vampire at the end I think needed to happen. The show is about the evil villians. You had to have something in there to remind people that their’s still evil lurking about.

    Like

  26. [Note: Chan posted this comment on September 23, 2008.]

    There’s also a terrific bit of continuity with the scene where Giles is sitting alone in his flat listening to Tales of Brave Ulysses. It’s the same song he played for Joyce during Band Candy, and it wasn’t just a quick flash – it ran for about 30 seconds and he tells her to listen to the next bit cos it’s really great.

    Small detail, but it shows you how much Joyce meant to Giles, as well.

    Like

  27. [Note: Nix posted this comment on October 26, 2008.]

    An aside for anyone wondering what they’ve missed: the Brace Ulysses stuff is in _Forever_, the next episode.

    Like

  28. [Note: Suzie posted this comment on November 7, 2008.]

    Anyone who has ever lost anyone can relate to this so much because of the simple fact that when someone you love dies, you have no swelling music to save you from the reality that that person is gone forever. And I can’t even read, much less watch the part with Anya breaking down without crying and wanting to give her a hug. Xander and his numbness of the hand in the wall. You don’t feel anything. And that’s just what Buffy feels when she is brought back from heaven, but at a greater scale.
    Joss Wheadon does a great job breaking your heart.

    Like

  29. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on December 1, 2008.]

    Hmm.
    I dunno.
    On the one hand, yes, it was a pretty good portrayal of death and immediate aftermath. From a purely artistic sense, you can admire it for that.
    But I don’t actually think “The Body” is a particularly good Buffy episode. It’s not terrible; I’d certainly rather watch it than any of the really bad ones; but it certainly wouldn’t make my top 10 list.
    In the first place, it does an unexpected Genre Shift. Buffy is fundamentally a Fantasy show; that’s most of the reason I watch it. I’m not saying you can’t do bereavement in Fantasy; I suppose my complaint is that nothing in the episode (other than the totally forgettable and irrelevant vampire at the end) couldn’t have been done in, say, a soap opera (though I’d be the first to admit that it probably wouldn’t have been done as well).
    Secondly, and call me a Philistine here by all means, my essential problem with the episode is that I didn’t much enjoy watching it. Except perhaps for Willow’s tearful clothes-changing, most of the episode was downright painful to watch. And that’s not a good thing.
    Incidentally, I note, in passing, that Spike doesn’t appear in this episode at all. Is this the only episode in which a credited character has zero screen time?

    Like

  30. [Note: Sanjuro posted this comment on December 1, 2008.]

    Why is the fact that it’s painful to watch “not a good thing?” And it’s not like this is the first (or last) time that Buffy really hit you in the gut. Passion, Becoming, Pt. 2, and later on The Gift, After Life, Dead Things, etc. The Body is indeed painful to watch, but that’s what makes it so fascinating; any other show would have pumped up the melodrama ad made it cliché, mmaaaaayyybbee good for a few tears, but quickly forgotten. But The Body stays with you. It drops all the fantasy to show detractors just how real Buffy is.

    And I think Spike never showed up because it’s about how Buffy and adolescents must deal with death, well, death that really affects them. The next episode gives us some very brief but touching moments from Giles and Spike on the matter.

    Like

  31. [Note: Adam posted this comment on December 29, 2008.]

    You just obviously don’t understand the concept of the episode if you think this does not deserve the praise it gets. This episode is truly brilliant– no question about it.

    Like

  32. [Note: Exit8buffy posted this comment on January 16, 2009.]

    I didn’t like how Joss played with us in the beginning thinking that Joyce wasn’t dead — he must’ve gotten a laugh with that part. The best scene would have to be the one with Xander, Willow, Anya and Tara in the dorm room. Everything in those parts are great — from Anya’s speech, to Xander punching the wall to Willow not knowing what to wear <– My favorite line for that part was "I can't see Buffy at the morgue and be all royal"… I laughed at that amongst all the serious sad parts.

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  33. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 26, 2009.]

    I must concur with Sanjuro. This episode is, perhaps, not good entertainment: nothing this painful could be considered entertaining (at least not in large doses).

    But it’s undoubtedly good art. This episode taught me something about the human condition: perhaps not something very pleasant, but something important nonetheless. And personally I value that more than forty minutes’ entertainment.

    (As long as not all the episodes are like this. Fortunately most of the rest, even in season six, mix some humour in with the grimness.)

    Like

  34. [Note: Maddybee posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    This episode was wow…. definitely an origninal compared to all of the others.
    The emotions in “the body” just seem to scream out at you, the music or should I say lack of music – made it sadder, i couldnt catch my breath by the time episode finished~ I was that upset.
    I knew that Joyce was going to die before I watched this episode, I came across it on the internet by an accident one day, when reading I presumed I wouldn’t be phased by her death- that it would just be another event: How wrong I was.
    I loved the scene with Dawn, when she is crying in the bathroom immediately you think it’s the news of her mothers death in result of her crying but instead her tears are over a socially trivial matter.
    The art class was effecting too, especially how Dawn finds her negative body when she is given the news.
    I was overwhelmed by the actors/actresses in the episode.
    I really loved Anya’s “fruit punch” speech- what a tear jerker it really set me off and how she picked up the ble jumper and hid it away.
    Brilliant actors that really get you ‘lost in the moment’.
    It’s so hard to pick out highlights in this episode because it’s fascinating from start to finish.

    Like

  35. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on April 18, 2009.]

    Here we have a great episode in terms of what it does for television and one of the greatest of the series, no doubt. It’s on fans top 10 favourite episode lists alot although I’m not sure why. I myself like it but it is nowhere near my top 10 of the season for the very reason that I cannot watch it time and time again. It’s not of much entertainment value for me which is what my top episodes of a season are made up of. I love the concept and execution of it but in all it’s a once in a long while viewing.

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  36. [Note: Morten posted this comment on April 19, 2009.]

    Just finished watching it for the second time.
    I find the scene with the vampire at the end very fitting. The fight results in the uncovering of Joyce’s body, something Dawn hadn’t the strenght to do. The symbolism here, while maybe unintentional, is obvious.

    The first scene shows some brilliant acting from Sarah, and my only complaint lies with her vomiting, which seems somehow out of the broken-staccato rythm of the scene. I can of course appreciate that it is done to realistically portray the shock of the character – especially in a segment of televised entertainment wherein such scenes are often depicted in the exact opposite manner.

    As strong as that scene may be, the first manly tears rolled down my face during the scene where Willow is trying to decide what to wear. Much more than portraying confusion, Hannigan shows us a character whose ‘power’ in this scenario is reduced to being there for her friends. In that case, with no other way to contribute, selecting the right outfit poses a frighteningly genuine problem.

    Also, and this might seem a tad harsh – Alison Hannigan is just a terrific tragic actress. She conveys the lowest extremes of emotion more skillfully than anyone on the show. This is true of everything she has been in. To put it inappropriately blunty, she’s a very convincing weeper.

    Sadly, I find the dorm-room scene to be hindered by Anya’s outburst. Emma Caulfield is a decent actress, but here completely fails to convey the emotional confusion of her character and, watching it, my eyes dried up, and i kept wishing for the camera to get off her. More than an emotionally confused Anya, I just see a confused Emma Caulfield. This is my only point of criticism

    All in all, a terrific episode, certainly my favorite of all the episodes up to this point. This is propably because I watch the show for character development and interaction only. The occasional Gummi-demon is just to keep it from overwhelming.

    This is my first comment here, I hope it’s not a complete waste of anyones time – I’m kind of new to this.

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  37. [Note: JoeW posted this comment on May 23, 2009.]

    Wow, Morten–I couldn’t disagree more about Emma Caulfield’s outburst in the dorm room. To me, it and Amber Benson’s interaction with Buffy at the end are two of the most heart-wrenching and beautifully acted moments of the episode–and therefore of the series. When Anya says “and no one will explain to me why!” I choke up every time. I think it’s superb acting, and amazing coming from an actress who is usually just a terrific comedienne.

    Magnificent episode. I’ve gone through what Buffy has, and it’s clear that Joss Whedon was writing what many of us have experienced.

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  38. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 31, 2009.]

    Morten, I’ve got to agree with JoeW- the way Anya’s speech was delivered was unbelievable, IMO- and I think with most other people’s opinions. That whole scene in Willow’s bedroom was beyond well done- perfect, like the rest of the episode, but to me, the best part. Wow. I agree with many people who say this isn’t perfect in terms of entertainment value, but to me, that’s not what Buffy is all about- there’s more to it than just entertainment. (And as long as not all the episodes are like this one, I’m fine with it.)

    Just….WOW.

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  39. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 11, 2009.]

    Truly a brilliant episode of TV. For me it ranks right there with M*A*S*H’s Abyssinia, Henry for the sheer emotional impact.

    The look on SMG’s face after she tell Giles they’re not supposed to touch the body, realising she just referred to her mother as only a body is devastatingly powerful.

    The whole dorm room scene, with Willow’s “I can’t be all royal!” and Anya’s “Why?” speech are as good as it gets. Plus Willow and Tara’s first onscreen kiss and it happens organically, without a big fuss being made over it.

    Tara and Buffy’s scene at the hospital was sweet and I loved the touch of humour when Willow, Xander, and Anya come back with their arms full of snacks “We panicked.”

    I always thought the vampire in the final scene was the Universe’s (aka Joss’) way of letting Buffy know that much as she may want to, she won’t get the luxury of wallowing in grief; that life isn’t going to let her.

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  40. [Note: Blue Fan posted this comment on August 19, 2009.]

    A fantastic review Mikejer, as usual. I agree with you (and possibly most people who has wirtten here before) in this is one of the 10 best episodes of the entire series.
    However, I couldn’t possibly say that it is THE BEST episode ever. Like Andrew, I watched the series because of the fantasy and humour. Altough, the episode really portrays what death of a beloved one means to a person, it lacked the kind of mixture between humour and fantasy that series represents so much. In my opinion, this episode doesn’t top Doppelgangland or Hush.
    All in all, one of the greatest episodes ever made in the series. Thanks for your reviews, and this possibility of seeing this amazing story from another and new perspective.

    Like

  41. [Note: Shelby posted this comment on September 22, 2009.]

    Heartbreaking in every possible way. Rather than just finding her dead and going straight to the funeral and moving on as any other series would do, we see what are truly the pivotal moments of the death of a loved one. I love how realistic every aspect is, the vomit, the lighting, the rib cracking, there is not a second of comfort allowed. We have to go through every second just as the characters do. What is particularly upsetting about this episode is that this is an event that could happen to any one of us at any time. It’s not about apocalypses or vampires…it’s about something that is very real to each and every one of us, something we’d rather not be faced with but will be at some point. This episode is the perfect example for me of Joss and his team achieving what they always strive to, to make the audience feel the way the characters do. I felt like there was a hole inside of me, I felt sick, I didn’t know how the show was going to go on after such tragedy. I’d rather not willingly feel that way again, but it makes for an excellent example of how great Buffy is.

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  42. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on November 16, 2009.]

    This is without a doubt one of the most over rated episodes in the series. First off the episode is a fantastic piece of television and deserves a rating of somewhere in the 90s, but it is one that I cannot watch again and again with enjoyment.

    A lot of people rate this in their top 10 best episode lists, but I wonder if they are putting it in because they enjoy it or because it is one of the best episodes.

    I know it is great artistically, but it isn’t an episode that I have in my personal top episode list.

    I liked the opening scene and the part where Xander is trying to blame someone for the death and Willow offers to fight him and he responds that he can’t take her. That part was really touching and still a little funny.

    I also have to disagree with many fans about Anya’s crying. This didn’t seem to fit in with the scene because Emma just couldn’t pull it off.

    Fantastic episode, just not one of my favourites.

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  43. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on November 16, 2009.]

    @Nathan.Taurus: I have to disagree with you a bit. This episode is extremely cathartic, which for many is enjoyable. Tons of people love to watch movies that move them, make them feel extreme emotion, whether it be good or bad. Think of all the ladies (and men) that enjoy watching tearjerkers, and they tend to watch them over and over.

    Basically, just because the episode is harsh emotionally doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable. The catharsis element is part of what makes it enjoyable.

    And yes, I personally can watch this episode over and over again. Frankly, I freaking love it. It is, in my opinion, a shining example of a pretty much darned perfect hour of television.

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  44. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on November 22, 2009.]

    Leelu: I agree that some people like watching sad movies or shows; just like any genre; like romantic, horror, comedy etc. I can watch this episode repeatedly, although I just don’t get as much enjoyment as many of the others.

    I will admit that some scenes in movies have made me feel sad for what’s going on and I still enjoy the movie, but I actually find it sadder to watch the last minutes of ‘The Gift’.

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  45. [Note: FinallyFinished posted this comment on December 22, 2009.]

    This is my first comment, but I really wanted to give my input on this episode, personally because of the brilliance of the writers and the actors.

    I also finally finished the series for the first time this Saturday after starting it at the beginning of the year on Hulu (I suffered a several month gap due to my inability to find a place to watch Season 5.)

    This episode for me personally, would be within my top ten, maybe my top five.

    This episode made me the saddest I had ever been while watching this show.

    Xander, Anya, Tara, and Willow’s part was one of the most well-acted scenes I have ever seen on television. All of them are able to pull off their separate ways to grieve so well. From Xander’s desperation to find something to blame for it to Willow’s panic about how to appear to console her friend to Tara’s soft strength to be the grounded one to help the others.

    Then finally Anya, whose “I don’t understand” speech was one of the best monologues on the show. The writers of Buffy are excellent at pulling off heartwrenching monologues, such as Xander’s confrontation with Willow in the season six finale.

    I can’t leave out Sarah’s incredible acting ability in the beginning of the episode. From her scared “Mommy?” to her final cry of “We’re not supposed to move the body!” I couldn’t help but feel for her as she stumbled blankly through the house.

    Overall this episode really showcased all of the actors’ abilities and I remember sitting and staring at the screen in silence after the episode, awestruck.

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  46. [Note: Victoria posted this comment on February 6, 2010.]

    “I didn’t like how Joss played with us in the beginning thinking that Joyce wasn’t dead — he must’ve gotten a laugh with that part.”

    I don’t know about a laugh. I loved that bit, it kind of makes me think of the beginning of S6 when Spike sees Buffy again and he says something along the lines of, “I want you to know that I saved you. Not when it counted, of course. But every night after that… I saved you, in a million different ways.”

    It’s like armchair quarterbacking your life. People do it all the time. Haven’t you ever… had a fight or an argument with someone and after-the-fact thought back to something more effective you could have said? Or, in a more personal experience, when you lose someone you love be it through death or just the circumstances of life pulling you apart, you always look back, sometimes in dreams and just… wonder if something could have happened differently. It’s natural, but… not really very funny. 😦 It’s very sad, esp in this case.

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  47. [Note: Stephie posted this comment on February 28, 2010.]

    This is such a beautiful episode. Anya’s speech is beyond touching, and reminds me of what it’s like to explain death to a child. This episode displays so well how brilliant of an actress SMG is, and just how sadistic Joss Whedon is.

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  48. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 26, 2010.]

    Great episode, apart from two things. Xander putting his fist through a wall: way too overdramatic. And Anya breaking down felt false to me. She barely even knew Joyce.

    That’s enough to prevent this from being quite as good as the very best “Buffy” episodes. But it’s pretty close. Everything else is stunning.

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  49. [Note: Amanda posted this comment on June 8, 2010.]

    @G1000, it’s true that Anya didn’t know Joyce all that well, but she saw how Joyce’s death was affecting her friends and in particular Xandar. She broke down because she truly didn’t understand why this was happening and why everyone was acting so strangely. If you look at her as if she were a child (because, she’s really only been alive now for 3-ish years) her reaction is a much more understandable.

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  50. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 8, 2010.]

    Amanda, if you check out the forum on overrated/underrated episodes, you’ll see that I have really changed my opinion of this episode after rewatching it. I now agree that it’s a masterpiece, and that Anya’s reaction is appropriate (for the reasons you mentioned).

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  51. [Note: Tara posted this comment on June 20, 2010.]

    What made this episode great was the sheer *lack* of melodrama. The small moments – such as Buffy pulling at Joyce’s skirt, the fact that she’s so dazed that she can barely *see* the numbers on the phone to dial and SMG’s make-up free, pallid, waxen face after she throws up – are stunningly effective, because they aren’t consciously *trying* to tell the audience this is a big deal. The first act is particularly effective: the lack of music and the real time in which it is shot is brutal in its realism. Another moment that always gets me is when asked if she’s alone in the house, Buffy answers ‘yes’. She already knows, on a subconscious level at least – that her mother is dead.

    I watch this episode only rarely. It makes me hurt in a way I can’t explain.

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  52. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on July 30, 2010.]

    mikejer, if there’s one thing I’d suggest in your “polish pass”, it’s that you get over your repulsion about analyzing it. It’s such a good episode that it deserves the kind of thorough review you’ve given pretty much every other episode in the series. Just a suggestion.

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  53. [Note: Ari posted this comment on August 27, 2010.]

    Anya’s speech reminded me of a little kid. Just the way she spoke, the way she ran through everything… it reminded me of the first time I was told I wouldn’t be seeing somebody again and nobody could tell me why. As it happens, that was the part that made me cry the hardest.

    Of course, the entire episode was tear-worthy. Everything that Joss managed to work in was just brilliantly done, and very tasteful. Life going on all around death is something we see with every tragedy, and I thought it was nice to see it dealt with in a very mature, realistic way.

    I, for one, spoiled the episode for myself a long while before I ever saw it. I caught hold of a rumor about Joyce, and I looked into it. As Tara said though, “It’s always sudden”. I was no less moves by the episode, and I personally think it’s one I could watch more than once and still get the same impact out of it.

    It warrants a spot in the “best episodes” column, even if it might not make my personal favorites list.

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  54. [Note: Susan posted this comment on September 13, 2010.]

    Mike, I re-watched The Body last night and checked your comments today as I usually do after a re-watch. I just wanted you to know that I found your comments comparing Dawn’s art class assignment of painting negative space in relation to the concentration of the negative space around Joyce’s body (family and friends) rather than on the body itself to be a really insightful observation. I don’t know if I was particularly dense when I saw this episode before or not, but I get it now thanks to you. And it makes me appreciate what was going on here a lot more.

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  55. [Note: Kat posted this comment on September 20, 2010.]

    I remember watching this episode and not crying. Not because I didn’t think it was sad (God it was downright depressing), but because the episode did a great job of portraying how death makes people feel. Like you said, it’s not all floodgates and sobbing. Everytime I watch this episode it’s like I can feel my chest tightening and feel all this tension just rushing into my body. At this point in my life I’m very fortunate to not have lost a loved one, but I have seen close calls and (lame as it sounds) lost family pets and like others have pointed out there’s no music to save you from your grief, there’s just a feeling of not knowing what the hell to do next. This is definitely an episode I have a very hard time watching, but I kind of think that’s the point. Losing a loved one is not comfortable, and this episode portrays the feelings that can accompany death.

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  56. [Note: BTVS posted this comment on November 7, 2010.]

    This episode was brilliant, but incredibly painful, just like you said. Honestly, the part that really effects me the most is Anya, when she says “I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s, there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And, and Xander’s crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

    Something about that was just incredibly painful.

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  57. [Note: Stacey posted this comment on March 21, 2011.]

    My dad died 2 years ago this October, and–without trying to sound oddly superior–it is something you cannot fathom until it happens to you. But this episode hits every mark perfectly, showing how significant, heartbreaking and cruel it is to lose a parent.

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  58. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on March 26, 2011.]

    I’m really surprised I never posted a comment on this episode before, probably because I looked down the list and realized that everyone else pretty much covered everything I could have said.

    Needless to say, this episode is absolutely phenomenal, and without a doubt the best of Joss’s “experimental” episodes. It is truly a magnificent piece of filmmaking from first frame to last, and in a television series that was pushing the boundaries from day 1, this is–along with Becoming: Part 2–its finest accomplishment. Kudos!

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  59. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on June 4, 2011.]

    I have been writing my opinions here after watching each episode, however I’m now on to series 6 and haven’t yet completely decided what I think about this episode. It is undoubtebly beautiful and great art, but it wouldn’t make my top ten as there are so many episodes that I enjoy more. However some episodes that make my top ten I would not, objectively speaking, give a ‘P’ rating, yet they beat out some ‘P’ episodes for how much I enjoy them inspite of some mistakes etc. I guess this is an episode that if reviewing I would give a ‘P’ as it is perfect for what it is trying to do and for it’s portrayal of a death of a loved one, however it would never make my top ten because I find watching it facinating and emotional but mostly not enjoyable as such.

    My favourite bit is the ‘negative space’ bit in dawn’s art class and how wonderfully it sums up what the episode is all about.

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  60. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 24, 2011.]

    Oddly, in the DVD extras, Joss says that he doesn’t consider this episode an experimental one like Hush or Restless because it’s so unremittingly realistic. Myself I’d call that an experimental choice, seeing as it’s so rare in television.

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  61. [Note: xfactor posted this comment on August 20, 2011.]

    I think this episode is overrated. No different than a million other melodramatic soap operas. Buffy works because it subverts. It uses metaphors. It surprises us with amazing plot twists. And it sets us up for huge emotional payoffs at the end. This episode achieves none of the above, except arguably for the last point.

    This episode does represent another signpost, a turn towards a much less entertaining, much less engaging series. From here on out, the series has turned for the worst. The only thing that saves it is the occasional brilliance of a well-written individual show and the marvelous acting of SMG and AH, plus EC’s hilarious Anya. The writers even managed to destroy the last remaining relationship that matters, the heart and soul of this series, Buffy/Giles, before they mercifully ended it.

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  62. [Note: Mott1 posted this comment on September 1, 2011.]

    A great episode, and the ‘no music’ plus the strange framing and blurry feel help produce a beautifully-directed, dramatic and moving piece of TV. Buffy comes up trumps again in the hands of Whedon.

    One curious thing I notice is that the vampire fight at the end almost acts as a lifter, despite Dawn and even Buffy herself being in real danger. It’s partly a case of life goes on, and also a way to ensure that for both of them ( particularly Buffy ) it does, rather than letting them dwell in their loss…

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  63. [Note: serenissima posted this comment on October 21, 2011.]

    i just watched this episode again on netflix and i was completely moved to tears. it is indeed ‘painful to watch;’ but death IS painful, and it was also refreshing to see it portrayed as such on television. the only other scene ive seen that comes close to this is the Charmed Season 3 finale ‘All Hell Breaks Loose,’ when Piper dies. That is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE Charmed episode for the same reason I love this episode of BTVS: when Piper whispers ‘I can’t feel my legs’ and Prue breaks down, I cant stop crying.

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  64. [Note: evie posted this comment on November 5, 2011.]

    An absolutely amazing episode and great review! I very much agree that the no-music thing was a tremendously bold move for Joss, but I think it heightened the intensity and it allowed the audience to see the characters raw. And of course the actors pulled it off, Alyson Hannigan’s portrayal of Willow as she desperately looks for the right outfit? Superb.

    I also loved how there were touching funny moments in the episode, without ruining the dynamic of the episode at all.

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  65. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on November 24, 2011.]

    It has been over a year and I have watched ‘The Body’ again and I can say my opinion of it is better than before. It took quite a few viewings over many years but some of the things that I didn’t like before I am okay with now.

    I also think the vampire was added because the series is a fantasy/supernatural one so each episode needs something of the weird variety and one vampire at the end would fill the quota and be extremely distressing at the same time.

    Nicholas Brendon is good in the dorm room scene and has his eyes welling up. This is the first time in the series that he looks really upset and I always enjoy Willow bringing him back by offering to fight. I find these two make the scene.

    I will also add the natural looking Buffy as she looks out the back door into the sunlight. They didn’t make her look glamorous with make-up and lighting but real.

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  66. [Note: BGAP posted this comment on March 3, 2012.]

    Whether you think this is great or not may depend on whether you accept almost an entire episode without any fantasy elements. Adding the vampire at the end was almost necessary to make it BtVS, rather than a reality based drama show that happened to have the same characters.

    I loved it, especially the artistic touches, and the choice to not have music (which often tells us how to feel, rather than letting the characters and story move us) The first 20 minutes are truly masterful; the way it was shot, edited, acted. The rest of the episode falls a bit short of this. For example, the dorm room scene felt too long, with a bit too much exposition without a balance of story. Maybe if 1/2 of the scene was played in another location it would’ve felt less draggy.

    This episode reminded me of one of my favorite shows of all time – “Six Feet Under” which ran on HBO from 2001 – 2005. Every episode of that show had the same tone as “The Body.” I even wondered if “The Body” was a catalyst for the conception of “Six Feet Under,” but when I looked up the dates, it must have already been in production in Jan of ’01 (when “The Body” aired) ) for its June premiere. Some people have commented here that “The Body” is the best, most moving TV episode of all time. For me, that has to be the final episode of “Six Feet Under,” which flashes forward across several decades to show how all of the main characters pass away, while also very subtly suggesting that what we’re seeing might be one of the character’s day dreams while on a road trip.

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  67. [Note: BGAP posted this comment on March 3, 2012.]

    Also, a bit of trivia connecting BtVS and Six Feet Under. Eric Balfour, who was Xander’s buddy in the first episode of BtVS, played the love interest of Claire in the first couple of seasons of SFU.

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  68. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 3, 2012.]

    I agree with you, BGAP, that the ending sequence to Six Feet Under was fabulous. That finale was quite good altogether. With that said, most of the characters on Buffy are more well-developed and likable than everyone over on Six Feet Under, even more so when you go beyond Nate and David, which means I’m far more moved by the serious events that happen to the Scoobies than I am to the gang at the funeral home. It didn’t help that I lost all emotional and psychological connection with the characters on SFU from Season 3 to, if I recall, almost halfway through Season 5 (the final season), which is about half of the entire show!

    I actually like to compare SFU’s problems to Angel‘s problems: not many characters that are well-developed, really problematic third and fourth seasons, strong second seasons, and a great final group of episodes leading up to a fantastic series finale. There are differences, of course, such as the fact that most of Angel‘s characters are more likable than SFU’s, and SFU’s first season is notably superior to Angel‘s, but I think there are more similarities than differences, at least at a broad level.

    But, each to their own, of course. 🙂

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  69. [Note: BGAP posted this comment on March 3, 2012.]

    Good points, MikeJer

    Re-stating the obvious, interest level of a show is driven to a large degree by identifying with the characters. Part of my love for SFU is due to a my similar life path with Nate. Like him, I moved back to my hometown in my 30’s to run a family business and got to deal with my dysfunctional family. I agree that the later seasons of SFU had less interesting story arcs and yet there were still a number of exceptional episodes and scenes. For example, Nate’s death and the merging of his dream with David’s at the beach is sheer genius.

    That said, I have little in common with the characters on BtVS, (I’m closer in age to Giles, though admittedly, in my teens, I was similar to Xander) and still find the show incredibly entertaining and look forward to my Buffy fix at the end of each day. When I’m done streaming season 7, I’ll give Angel a try.

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  70. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 3, 2012.]

    If I’m being honest, I don’t really personally relate to any of the characters’ on Buffy either (e.g. I’m a fairly well-adjusted 27 year-old software developer who couldn’t care less about the traditional ‘high school experience’). But the character writing on this show is so fabulous that, despite personal differences, I kinda love the Scoobies and feel as though they’re real human beings with self-sustaining lives that I have come to understand and respect. They’re also fundamentally decent people, or working to become decent people. It’s not every day (or year, or ever) that you see that in a television show. So, I definitely understand where you’re coming from. 🙂

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  71. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 17, 2012.]

    I think I have a way to make Anya’s speech even more depressing: She’s been killing people for 1100 years, and apparently forgot what that meant, that all of her victims had families and loved ones like Joyce did, even if the people themselves were assholes. And now she remembers.

    Remember when Liam woke up in 1898 and started remembering that Angelus had been killing people (starting with Liam’s own family) for 120 years in his body? Anya had been killing for almost 10 times as long before this, and she didn’t have the “I was possessed” excuse, that really was her inflicting thousands of times as much damage as she was seeing now for basically the first time.

    Joss Whedon, you Bastard

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  72. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on May 17, 2012.]

    I agree, but it’s not entirely clear that Anya herself recognizes this. She seems remarkably good at compartmentalizing/not worrying about her past misdeeds. I do wish the show would have delved into this a little more, and this time would have been a good one to do it. Well, maybe not in “The Body” itself, but in “Forever” or “Intervention”.

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  73. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 5, 2013.]

    It is a masterpiece of writing and realisation for television. Though I understand why some viewers don’t put it in their top. What I like about fantasy or sci-fi is analysing what’s beneath: the metaphors, the allegories, the mythology. Here, someone asked MikeJer to further analyse: I don’t think there’s need for it because the story speaks for itself. It’s not a metaphor, everything is just right in front of your eyes for you to witness. It’s simple and gets right to the point, with every character.

    In a nutshell, it’s totally BtVS and it’s totally not, which doesn’t make it any less brilliant ! It’s about the one event everyone, without exception, have or will experience: the loss of a loved one.

    But it’s not one of those episodes you will rewatch with delight for the fun or to further analyse little details of plot and characters. It is what it is, a powerful punch of reality, painful and gutwrenching.

    I have to agree with Morten: E. Caulfield is excellent with comedy, but not with the crying. The acting was completely off and it’s the only moment in the episode that put me out of it: I’m seeing an actress trying to cry… and fails horribly. But the words and their meaning are powerful, because for the first time, Anya is confronted with the death of someone close. She’s sad for Joyce, but more than that, it confronts her with her own mortality. She didn’t have any problem with killing and maiming because she couldn’t grasp, until now, the concept of loss, pain and sadness.

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  74. [Note: tangobob posted this comment on March 21, 2013.]

    good looking out. I’ve seen this episode many times and didn’t catch the ‘cream’ song replay. I do remember the scene in band candy, just before joyce asks giles if he has any albums by seals and crofts..

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  75. [Note: Erick posted this comment on April 8, 2013.]

    Did anyone else notice that when Buffy threw up, and she dried it up, the form on the napkin was a brain!!! 😥

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  76. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on August 29, 2013.]

    This episode is such a powerful work of art that it is dangerous. I have seen it many times, and though I appreciate it, it has never been one of my ‘favorites’. The reason is that I can’t get close to it. If I did, I don’t trust that I could come back from it. It’s that… I’m not sure how to say it, if one can say it.

    And as a foreshadowing that I think supports your thesis about this being the beginning of Buffy Act III, I would point to Willow’s line to Tara: ‘Can I do this? Can I be an adult?’ That’s what we’re about to find out, for all of them.

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  77. [Note: FRank posted this comment on September 26, 2013.]

    “further proof that the emmys are meaningless..”, best comment ever! I think in the long run, when joss become universally recognized as the absolute genius he is, the fact that he, and buffy, even with episodes such as this, never got and emmy will only matter to the credibility and relevance of the award, which to me is 0, to the greatness of this show it does not have any influence.
    I watched this ep again, and I´m still in shock with how briliant it is, every shot, every frame, every line, every silence, every sound, is not only perfect artistically, but everything is meaningfull and emotionally powerfull. this the masterpiece episode of the masterpiece show, of the master of masterminds…

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  78. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on September 28, 2013.]

    The number of long takes in this episode work so well. Along with the lack of music, the minimal cuts really draw you into the scenes. Real life, after all, doesn’t cut. When a cut does occur, it’s almost like a reminder to breathe. This is, in my opinion, the best episode of television ever and my favorite episode of television of all time.

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  79. [Note: JoJo posted this comment on October 20, 2013.]

    As a medical professional, it kind of takes me out of the moment a little that a paramedic makes the decision that Joyce is dead and to end CPR. Not sure how it all works in death central Sunnydale, but around here only a doctor can make that determination and the EMT’s would have to continue compressions until they got her to an emergency room. Every ER I’ve ever worked at also had some sort of policy for how long you had to work on an unresponsive code patient before you could decide to call it (20 minutes i think was the min). I know this show isn’t a medical drama and the point of this episode is that Buffy’s mom is already gone, but it just seems unbelievably cruel to me that this ambulance team just goes off and leaves Buffy all alone in the house with her dead mother after barely doing anything at all. I suppose it sets up the scene where Giles comes in trying to help and Buffy refers to “the body”, but I always have to grit my teeth through it.

    I also don’t like the inclusion of the vampire much in the last few scenes. I do understand the reasoning that Buffy’s world doesn’t stop just because a personal tragedy happened, but i think this concept was portrayed much better at the beginning of the episode when Buffy’s all alone at the house listening to the sounds of children playing outside and cars driving by, the outside world completely oblivious to the turmoil that’s going on inside. We’ve been told very clearly that Joyce’s illness is not supernatural at all, and I wish for one episode we could have left that all out and only dealt with the human reactions to human problems and weaknesses. I think it says a lot that this episode could have stood on its own purely due to the strength of its characters; no action, no music, no real plot, and no mystical otherworldly happenings, just human grief and emotion.

    Now that I’ve picked the nits I will say that this episode is probably one of the best of the series. I particularly love the scene where Tara tells Buffy that she’s done this before, because it means that despite Tara being the newest member of the group and the one that Buffy knows the least, she’s the one that can most relate. I also like the scene where Willow keeps changing her clothes. That’s such a girl thing that I’ve done a lot when I have somewhere important to go. I’m sure if I had all my friends watching and waiting on me during the process I’d look just as neurotic as Willow does there.

    I can’t really call this episode my favorite because it’s just so depressing but I have to say that while other episodes like Becoming have been really gut wrenching and made me feel sadness for Buffy and crew, this episode is so humanly relatable that it actually makes me feel sadness for myself. Bravo Joss

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  80. [Note: Mike Patton posted this comment on January 1, 2014.]

    So, I just watched it for the first time, been seeing this episode labeled as one of the best episodes, so I was excited but I had no idea of what was I about to see nor of how much would it hurt… This was really rough, it felt like I had a clench in my throat and a weight in my stomach, it was brilliant, but a really, really painful reality check. Althought this episode was extremly heavy to watch, during it I only cried at Anya’s breakdown scene (but got my eyes wet in a couple of other scenes). When the episode ended and I started looking up reviews and comments about this episode, it all hit me and I just start crying, and it wasn’t because I found out something I didn’t realized in the episode (even though there was stuff I didn’t realised like the ‘negative-space’ thing and other stuff), it was because the episode was exactly what I felt it to be… the feeling of reality breaking in, no music, long scenes with no cuts in order to keep you in the reality of the moment, everyone around changing but the world it’s still the same (ok, that last bit I only got after reading the review and comments)… damn, I was planing on watching another Buffy episode, but after this… I just can’t, not today…

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  81. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on January 2, 2014.]

    You might want to watch out … this is Buffy at it’s most depressing but Season 6 is like a slightly milder version of this for about 10 episodes in a row.

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  82. [Note: EdwardH posted this comment on January 25, 2014.]

    I know that in some cities in the case of unattended death the body can’t be moved until police and a coroner arrive. And considering how cold the body appeared to be, continuing resuscitation would have been unnecessary and, frankly, cruel. To a loved one, continued resuscitation would give false hope that it’s not too late.

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  83. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on August 10, 2014.]

    There isn’t much to say about this episode, I don’t think anyone can describe in words the level of perfection this episode has achieved. It is raw, emotional, and gut-wrenching. I watch A LOT of TV, and I don’t think there is one episode of television that has ever made me hurt so much. You can literally feel your heart breaking for the characters, you feel just like they do on screen. You feel numb, and your throat clenches up; it’s hard to speak or think or eat or move — even. I can’t even begin to explain how much of a genius I think Joss Whedon is for this. And I couldn’t agree more that this is one of the most amazing pieces of art and television combined that I have ever gotten the pleasure to experience and that it’s silly that this show hasn’t won more Emmys. Anyway who waves this off as a gimmick or sappy ‘melodrama’ has clearly misunderstood the message. Most shows skip past the naked truth and fast forward to shots of funerals, cheesy monologues and swelling music. But not BTVS.

    Even the monologues were brilliant. I think Emma was simply breath-taking when she was making her little speech — and it was a real turning point for her character, too. On rewatch, her speech was the part where I bawled up. It proves that she really doesn’t understand, she sounds like a little girl who doesn’t understand the way of the world. Her words are very small and simple, but they’re enticing and come as a sudden swipe of a knife. As Tara says, it’s always sudden. Even in the show, nobody saw it coming. Suddenly, she’s just… gone. And it’s over. No more eggs. No more fruit punch. This is the one TV show that has come close to depicting the unfathomable feeling of utter loss, helplessness and pain. With the help of some amazing directing and acting, of course. Kudos to the cast for being so convincing. The episode itself was like a journey, we got to experience everything with the characters. As many have mentioned, this is a difficult one to watch, one that I was simply dreading to get back to — but that shouldn’t put down it’s credibility. It just proves how successful it is in capturing what it wanted to.

    What makes this even more special is the way they handled all the “small moments”. Like the way Buffy pulled down her mom’s skirt, Xander kissing Willow on the forehead, the parking ticket, Willow’s fuss over what to wear, the smile Xander and Tara exchanged, Buffy hearing things like “I have to lie to make you feel better”, Buffy’s “what if” daydream shots, Dawn’s fussing over something trivial and silly; right before the big news came her way, and then the way Dawn breaks down crying, Buffy’s silent “Thank you”, the way she vomits and then goes out the door and stands there, listening to the sounds of the bright, sunny day outside. It was all just… captivating. There aren’t enough positive adjectives in the dictionary for me to be able to convey my love and respect for this episode. I even liked the vampire, because it is something that is the norm in Buffy’s world, it just proves that the world is not going to wait around for you, it goes on, it keeps spinning and you’ve got to keep going. Somehow… I don’t think that last scene when Dawn reaches out to touch her mother would have been as harrowing as it was if the vampire hadn’t attacked.

    This episode hit me harder than anything else I have ever seen or experienced. I have never lost anyone close to me and don’t even want to imagine it. Joyce’s death and Buffy’s reaction felt all too real, like I had actually lost someone in that moment. Powerful storytelling, Whedon. I felt like we were intruding upon someone’s real-life loss, it was so acute.

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  84. [Note: Joy posted this comment on August 11, 2014.]

    It’s the oversized, surrealistic emphasis on small details from Buffy’s POV that make The Body so realistic. The tunnel vision of shock:

    Seeing people only from the mouth down when they talked to her… the zoom in on the phone keypad… the vomit slowly being absorbed into the paper towel… the altered quality of daylight and the disconnect from the sounds of life outside when Buffy stands in the kitchen doorway. I lost my husband to a distracted driver; the following hours of shock were exactly like that for me.

    I agree with JoJo in that I wish they had left out the fight with the vampire at the end. IMO it’s a jarring note to everything that had come before.

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  85. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on August 11, 2014.]

    I believe the vampire at the end is necessary though. The characters live in a fantastical world, and the demons won’t just stop coming because Buffy had a great loss. Sure, it’s off pace with the rest of the episode, but it’s like that for a good reason. Buffy and Dawn can’t mourn their mother in piece and quiet. It’s a harsh cruel world out there, and it will throw all kinds of stuff at you, even at the worst of times, and the vampire at the end perfectly symbolizes that.

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  86. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on August 11, 2014.]

    I believe the vampire at the end is necessary though. The characters live in a fantastical world, and the demons won’t just stop coming because Buffy had a great loss. Sure, it’s off pace with the rest of the episode, but it’s like that for a good reason. Buffy and Dawn can’t mourn their mother in piece and quiet. It’s a harsh cruel world out there, and it will throw all kinds of stuff at you, even at the worst of times, and the vampire at the end perfectly symbolizes that.

    QFT.

    It’s worth mentioning that Anya’s speech is very similar to the vampire in that it provides a connection between the very real, human reactions to death and the supernatural show that Buffy has to be. If you remove these aspects of this episode, then you end up with a brilliant portrait of death, but one that feels terribly dissonant from the show it takes place in.

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  87. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on September 19, 2014.]

    Fantastic and tragic episode. It’s ridiculous that this episode (BVS as a whole btw) didn’t win an Emmy. Another example that those don’t have a clue what good tv is.
    Btw Tara is so beautiful and sweet in this ep.

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  88. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on September 19, 2014.]

    correction: ”It’s ridiculous that this episode (BVS as a whole btw) didn’t won an Emmy. Another example that those ‘folks don’t have a clue what good tv is.”

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  89. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on September 19, 2014.]

    OK, so “The Body” is probably a better directing feat than an acting feat. Here’s what it would have been up against if the Emmy’s knew that The WB existed:

    “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen” – The West Wing (winner)
    “The Visit” -ER
    “Pine Barrens” – The Sopranos
    “University” – The Sopranos
    “Amour Fou” – The Sopranos
    “Shibboleth” – The West Wing

    We’ll have to ask our resident West Wing expert about In the Shadow of Two Gunmen and Shibboleth. From a Sopranos standpoint, the directing in The Body is definitely better than Amour Fou, almost certainly better than University (though University is a great episode).

    Pine Barrens though, that episode has some spectacular directing. I may put The Body over it, but it would be awfully close.

    Anyone seen ER and remember that episode?

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  90. [Note: Jeremy G. posted this comment on September 19, 2014.]

    See, but they did know that The WB existed, since they nominated “Hush” the previous year. Which only makes their omission of “The Body” even more baffling.

    “Shibboleth” is well-directed, but nothing beyond standard West Wing production levels. “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen”, on the other hand, is a spectacular feat of directing, and definitely worthy of consideration.

    I’ve only seen the first season of ER, so I can’t speak for “The Visit”. However, that show has borne some of the most influential directorial techniques of the last twenty years. And “Pine Barrens” is one of The Sopranos‘ more remarkably directed episodes.

    Ultimately, though, I’d probably pick “The Body” over any of them, simply because that episode’s attentiveness to detail and minutiae is some of the best I’ve ever seen in a television episode.

    Now, if Thomas Schlamme had submitted “Two Cathedrals” instead of “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen”, it may have been a different story…

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  91. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on September 19, 2014.]

    I honestly don’t know if the Emmy’s work like the Oscars, where there’s a specific directors wing that does nominations for directing, and a specific writing wing that does nominations for writing. In the Oscars, often the writing wing will nominate the stuff off the beaten path much more than the directors will.

    I don’t think the Emmys work like that though. I think everyone in the TV Academy get to nominate in every category, which is one of the factors that lead to the same shows getting nominated in every category, even though one show may not be that good overall, but have fantastic stunts or something like that.

    Ultimately, it could just be a numbers thing. Hush could have been nominated because the other nominees were more spread out, where the same amount of people (and likely the same people), voted for The Body but the actual nominees just had more concentrated support.

    The other factor is people don’t like to nominate episodes for both writing and directing (which is the only possible explanation for Ozymandias being left out of the best directing field last year, even though Felina did get both nods), so there was some split among the small number of Buffy voters as to where the nomination should be.

    I did know about the “Hush” nomination, but my meaning was that the group of voters who would nominate a CW/UPN/WB show is so small that any little blip could cause even the best episode (and there’s a very good argument to be made that this episode is the best to ever air on any of those channels) to go unnominated.

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  92. [Note: Odi et Amo posted this comment on September 20, 2014.]

    Which of the episodic Emmy categories — writing or directing — is considered more prestigious? To me it seems like writing, due to the greater emphasis on directing in movies vs. TV, the more fragmented nature of television directing during the course of seasons, and the fact that the writing is usually what is making TV episodes shine. I think, with the mindblowing directing of True Detective S1 especially as well as some of the directing for Mad Men, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire, and Breaking Bad just to name some recent examples that the two will converge more in prestige going forward.

    It blows my mind that Buffy S5 has three episodes of “Best Writing”/”Best Directing” quality…but just look at how stacked the rest of the year was. Sopranos S3 (possibly its best season), West Wing S2 (possibly ITS best), & Angel S2 (once again, possibly its best).

    I wonder what a Critically Touched list of 2000-01 would look like.

    Mine —
    “The Gift” (WINNER)
    “The Body”
    “Employee of the Month”
    “Two Cathedrals”
    “Reprise”

    Never been as hot on “Pine Barrens” as…the rest of the world. “Amour Fou” or “University” could easily be there. Ditto for “Fool for Love”, “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen”, “Noel”, and “Reunion”.

    Like

  93. [Note: Marco posted this comment on January 10, 2015.]

    Just to say, I agree that the Vampire was needed because it was Joss’ way of saying that life goes on, even when we lost our loved ones, Buffy’s life being fighting evil. Her responsabilities (specially, having to take care of Dawn) don’t shrink, actually only grow.

    But, in tune with the episode, the fight itself was remarkably raw, desperate, not the defying-laws-of-physics wire-fu ballet we (I, at least) love to see in the series. I don’t recall ever on the series a fight like this one – and it makes every bit of sense.

    Like

  94. [Note: John posted this comment on April 4, 2015.]

    I’m going to be watching this epsiode tonight with my fiancee and I recently, 6 months ago, found my mother collapsed in a position very similar to Joyce following a fatal heart attack.

    Initially i was going to give this episode a miss but then I remembered how well made it was as I watched Buffy on its first run from the late 90s through to the finale with a previous girlfriend and, tbh, I don’t think I was mature enough to understand many of the themes and that relationship ended very badly which unfairly coloured my opinion of the series. Eventually my fiancee suggested watching it and I decided to give it a go and boy am i glad I did. I love the overturned tropes, the feminism that runs through the series and its general kickass nature but tonight is going to be very testing, cathartic but I fully expect to be a wreck for most of the night. Only truly well made TV/media can do that to you so while it will hurt I’m going to soak the episode in as one of, if not the, best protrayals of grief, the numbness, the isolation and other-worldliness of an emotion we all experience at one point or another.

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  95. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 26, 2015.]

    One thing that’s always kind of bugged me since I’ve watched this one (maybe because I knew what was going down going in and maybe it’s more Forever fault) but did they ever break the news to Joyce’s date that she was dead. That would have been an interesting reaction.

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