The hills… ahem… I mean, Buffy’s alive… with the sound of music! “Once More With Feeling” is one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, largely due to the fact I just have an unending love and appreciation for musicals. Another reason I love the episode is because of how different it is and how they were able to seamlessly blend this episode in to the story line. Another added bonus is that the demon behind causing everyone to so haphazardly burst into song and reveal hidden truths is realistic, well, as realistic as can be in the Buffyverse. It just so happens that this episode is currently playing on my re-watch of the series and coincides with SMG’s release of the Cinderella vs. Belle rap battles! Coincidence? I think not! This episode is just another shining example of how Joss Whedon was way ahead of his time and peers/competitors, as other shows later attempted to mimic Buffy based on its success and Emmy nomination: Scrubs, Grey’s Anatomy, and may have even helped influence Ryan Murphy to create Glee. IMDB.com shows a rating of 9.7/10 which is utterly insane! This episode was also voted #1 in TV Guide’s viewer’s poll for the 50 Top Musical Moments on Television from 1990-2002 in 2002. There are so few things rated that high! Let’s get down to the dirty itty gritty and talk about why I love this episode so much.
We’re ALL Under Tara’s Spell
Can we talk about Tara for just 5 seconds? Her voice is angelic! Her solo, “Under Your Spell,” is one of the biggest showstoppers of the episode! First of all, Tara has really started to blossom into a beautiful woman (physically) for one of the first times. Her hair is styled, she is wearing appropriate makeup, and her clothing has improved. She looks completely majestic when she is singing to Willow throughout the duration of the entire song. Secondly, the irony of the song can’t be lost on all us Buffy lovers. Tara thinks Willow has been doing too much magic and they were fighting about it. Willow put Tara under a mind-forgetting spell just the episode prior unbeknownst to Tara. Lastly, the way the song ends is pure genius. Tara is floating above the bed where Willow also sits moaning/singing, “You make me com-plete… you make me com-plete… you make me…” and the scene abruptly ends. Not sure about you, but I was able to pick up on that sexual innuendo! #WinkyFace
And how can you not be totally in love with the reprise duet of “Under Your Spell / Standing” with Giles? Their overlapping verses and voices are hypnotic and pure magic. I even got a little teary eyed with the combination of Tara’s “Wish I could trust that it was just this once but I must do what I must! ” with Giles’s “Wish I could say the rights words to lead you through this land. Wish I could play the father and take you by the hand,” culminating in them both emotionally exclaiming, “Wish I could staaaaaaay! Wish I could staaaaaaay!” All the sad faces… but everything is made better by Tara’s “Jazz Hands!”
Fury and Noxon, Mustard and Underwear
Two of the show’s writers, David Fury and Marti Noxon, have small singing parts. Fury can be seen singing “They Got the Mustard Out” outside the magic shop when Buffy checks to see if other people are singing. Now let’s be honest. We can totally understand where Fury is coming from. How often have we thought we ruined one of our nice shirts with some mustard and then those amazing women at the dry cleaners worked their magic and got the stain out?! Am I right? Yea! Then Noxon sings about a parking ticket (“I think that hydrant wasn’t there”) while Giles, Xander, and Anya are walking on the street after Xander and Anya’s duet. The first time I saw the episode I missed it. Maybe even the second time. But once I purchased the soundtrack, I was able to hear the song in its entirety. The last line of the song goes, “Hey, I’m not wearing underwear…” Again, who hasn’t gone to desperate measures in negotiating with cops to get out of a parking or speeding ticket? That’s what I thought. Thanks.
I’ll Never Tell
I simply love the duet between Xander and Anya. On the surface the song is hilarious. With lines like “His penis got diseases from a Chumash tribe!” and “You’re the cutest of the Scoobies, with your lips as red as rubies and your firm yet supple [staring at her boobs] tight embrace!” I like how they are able to incorporate the past story line into their amazing dance sequence with lyrics like, “There’s these fears I can’t quell,” because it makes the song seem less random and the episode even more brilliant.
Even Spike Is Affected
Season 6 is the first time I finally began to like Spike’s character. So was I glad to realize he had a big role in this episode? YES! Spike gets to sing and dance, too! And what a voice he has! But after listening to him narrate so many of the Dresden Files books on Audible, I expected nothing less. What I liked most about his solo performance of “Rest In Peace” are his actions, dance moves, and facial expressions. He is totes dramatic in this entire number: “If my heart could beat it would BREAK my chest!” he exclaims as he clutches his chest and leaps to the top of a coffin being carried by pallbearers. Epicly epic.
The next time we love him and recognize how adorable he is must be during the group song, “Walk Through The Fire.” He sings, “I hope she fries. I’m free if that BITCH dies!” and then so sweetly, innocently, and completely in-the-clouds-in-love says, “I better help her out!”
But he really gets to us during the big group sing at the end, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Everyone begins to sing and dance. Spike joins in and as soon as he starts waving his hands in the air with the rest of the gang he snaps out of it. I don’t know if anything in the episode made me laugh as much as Spike during that moment!
We Still Don’t Care About Dawn
By this point, we are all completely over Dawn and her selfish, whiny attitude that she carries around every episode. Boohoo, my sister’s the Slayer and they pay her more attention than me. Boohoo,, my mom (even though I am not real) is dead. Boohoo, I’m gonna totally start stealing everything from all my friends…. “Does anybody even notice? Does anybody even care?” She starts her lament/ballad and this is about the time we are going to leave the couch for a bathroom break. But thankfully even the writers know how sick we are of Dawn and she gets kidnapped after just two lines into her whiny song! Hooray! There is a God (not Glory, since Buffy beat the hell out of her and Giles put down Ben like Old Yeller)!
Life’s A Show
If it has never been apparent and obvious before, I am obsessed with SMG. I think she has a great voice and I think her choreography for every number matches the message and lyrics of the song perfectly. From dusting the vampire during “Going Through The Motions” while singing the lines, “And I just want to be… ALIIIIIIVE!” to removing her jacket and exposing her red shirt during “Life’s a Show” while singing, “And when the music starts… we open up our hearts…” This statement is further indicative of the episode itself, as everyone seems to be spilling their innermost secrets when they probably don’t want anyone else to know.
Case in point, Buffy shocks Dawn and the all their friends by informing them how she was not in hell and that she was, in fact, ripped from Heaven. “There was no pain, no fear, no doubt… ’til they pulled me out… of heaven. So, that’s my refrain. I live in hell, ’cause I’ve been expelled from Heaven. I think I was in Heaven. SO GIVE ME SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT!!!” And we all cried. And cried. (This scene should have so been on the list of Buffy moments that made us ugly cry…) And died. The look on Willow’s face when she realized what she had actually done is heartrending.
The Kiss Heard ‘Round the World
We’ve all seen Spike and Buffy kiss before. They have kissed in his dreams. She has given him a peck kiss out of gratitude for saving Dawn. And he has sexed the Buffy Bot up and down, forwards and backwards. But at the end of “Once More With Feeling,” Buffy is the one to initiate the kiss. And I mean it is EPIC! Every nominee for Best Kiss over the last two decades is jealous of their kiss. According to Spike in the following episode, “We kissed, Buffy… we… we kissed. You and me. All Gone With The Wind. With the rising music! And the rising…. uh.. music!” Hilarity ensues!
I know I have only captured a small handful of reasons why I love this episode, but hopefully it was enough to get my point across. Now I encourage everyone to watch or re-watch this episode and then purchase all the songs and sing them every day! “Where do we go from HERE???”