Halloween: Another set of alternate personalities for two of our major cast. You can really see that Nick and Sarah must have enjoyed playing these roles. I think I like this episode because I'm really drawn to the whole dress-up fantasy come true thing. Plus, it's the first hint we get at Giles' past as Ripper. A story arc that I think was not explored nearly enough. Still, Ethan is, in my opinion, an excellent villain. Human, so Buffy can't simply slay him, but so utterly amoral.
Ted: There's one main reason why this is one of the best episodes ever. Two words: John Ritter. Ritter as Ted shows just how perfect his comic timing and sensibility was. The important thing here is that Ritter played Ted straight, there's no sly wink to camera, not a single clue that Ritter is in on the joke. And yet he is so very funny as this caricature of the perfect 1950s husband and father. Ritter's death really was a tremendous loss. This episode is also notable, whether deliberate or not, for foreshadowing Faith's dilemma in season 3.
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: This episode is just the epitome of fun. It really is the embodiment of 'be careful what you wish for', to paraphrase Ethan. Xander is swooned over by every woman in town, alive or undead, and it turns out that's really not such a good thing. Some great hammy acting from some of the ladies, too.
Honourable mentions to 'Killed by Death' for having the creepiest monster ever (until, perhaps, The Gentlemen) and 'Go Fish' for the line "Dude, what is that foulness?".
Innocence: The cigarette smoke scene introduces us to the new Angel with perfect efficiency, if a little unrealistically (smoke in the bloodstream?). It also gives us a sense of evil Angel's coolness, because, let's face it, good Angel is a total dork (BTW, I can't stand the whole using the Latinised version of his name to denote his evil side - they don't actually do it in this season, they use Angelus as it should be, as just the older version of his name). Aside from introducing evil Angel, this episode is notable for showing, in a fun way, the resourcefulness of the Scoobies - the Judge's bemused reaction to the rocket launcher is priceless. I also love that the emotional fight scene in the rain happens indoors - Joss Whedon is so good at taking a cliche and twisiting it until it is fresh.
Passion: The death of Flutie is taken that one step further, as the Scooby gang comes face-to-face with the death of one of their own for the first time. The sheer artistry of Angel's evil side is shown here, as the romantic surprise Giles so hopes for turns out to be an entirely nastier one. Whedon pulls no punches here, and he really punishes his characters, and some might argue, his audience as well. For future reference: don't get too attached to a Joss Whedon character.
Becoming, part 2: A great episode, made transcendent by its climax. Angel is saved in time to share a kiss with his lover, before she sends him to hell. Comparisons to Shakespeare must be made, as this tragic ending is up there with Romeo & Juliet's - no doubt an inspiration for Whedon. This perfect tragedy remained intact for only a few episodes, however, as I think it was rather spoiled by the cheapness and prematurity of Angel's return at the beginning of season 3. Oh well, I guess he had a contract.
Honourable mentions to 'When She Was Bad' because, although Buffy's angst is annoying, the show does a great job of keeping the continuity going from the end of season one; and 'Lie To Me' which really gets to the core of how much sadness and death the Slayer has to deal with.