Buffy the Vampire Slayer, like any show, had its fair share of ups and downs. From the moment that Buffy sacrificed Angel to save the world in season two to the show-stopping musical episode, “Once More With Feeling,” in season six, Joss Whedon’s ability to blend pain with wit was truly masterful. There is a lot of debate over which Buffy episode reigns supreme, but it’s hard to deny that the season five finale, “The Gift,” is anything short of a masterwork, perfectly encapsulating everything that made the series great. In the opening scene, Buffy fights a vampire in an alley, and for once, the lore of the slayer doesn’t precede her. Right before delivering the killing stake, a telling exchange takes place between the two.
“You’re just a girl.”
“That’s what I keep saying.”
The fact that Buffy was just a girl (while at the same time more than that) is one of the hallmarks of the series: her humanity is what gives her power, but also what makes her vulnerable. As she makes life and death decisions regarding the fate of the world and her relationships, “The Gift” is still lauded as one of the best episodes of the series run fifteen years after it originally aired.