Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 5, Episode 16: The BodyWritten and Directed by Joss Whedon
As was pointed out in one of the BuffyCast podcasts, this is arguably the episode that signalled the end of Buffy as we knew it. No longer hiding behind metaphors and magic, The Body deals with a genuine death of natural causes, with no witty double entendres or wacky quips. This eventually paved the way for Marti Noxon to wield her Baseball Bat of Anti-Metaphor in Season 6, but as a stand-alone episode, The Body is a fascinating experiment and, because it's so different from your average episode of Buffy, extremely powerful. Shot in quasi-realtime, with absolutely no music, it's uncomfortable because it feels so real, and something tells me that people tuning into a show of this name would expect something rather different.
As a side note, this episode contains the show's first ever on-screen same-sex kiss (yes, Buffy and Riley can have sweaty on-screen sex for an entire episode, but Willow and Tara are barely permitted to hold hands). Joss Whedon claims that he threatened to walk if the scene was cut, but given the amount of self-aggrandising crap he tends to spout, I'm less than convinced.
Overall rating: 10/10.
Next time: Forever.