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BtVS Season 5 Rewatch

Grace

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Black Thorn
#1
Who wants to rewatch Buffy Season 5? I'm going to be starting this week, and I think @Mrs Gordo and @Mylie will be joining me! Please feel free to join in rewatching or just chime in on our discussions. The plan is to watch one episode a week (plus an episode of Angel Season 2, which I will start a separate thread for).


So, this week: Buffy vs. Dracula! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
 
Taake
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#2
I’m so excited!!! I’ve been wanting to rewatch season 5 for a long time now.
 

Grace

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Black Thorn
#3
5x01 Buffy vs. Dracula
Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by David Solomon
Original air date: September 26, 2000

Overall thoughts: I love Buffy vs. Dracula. I know a lot of people don't, but it fits my sense of humor and I support the willingness to engage the classic vampire tropes head on. Plus, as a diehard Bangel shipper, I really enjoy the Angel parallels.

Right off the bat, I enjoy the shot of Buffy unable to sleep. It's been a whole summer but she's still "restless." We're basically picking right back up where we left off, with the repetition of the "You think you know..." line and the references to the First Slayer.

And the ending is such a perfect WTF moment that it makes the whole episode even better. What a ballsy move!

Those Angel parallels: We've got...
  • Riley is immediately threatened by him (and wants to fight him).
  • Xander is jealous of him.
  • Spike (also jealous) thinks he's overrated and lame.
  • He's a "darks-only man."
  • He suddenly appears and disappears a la early seasons Angel (School Hard as one example). And comes through the window into Buffy's room.
  • He "yearns" for Buffy and sees her as a kindred spirit (albeit for different reasons).
  • Buffy is attracted to him despite herself (and he bites her).
  • He chooses a castle instead of a crypt. Kinda like that vamp who lived in the big mansion.
Now some of this is just seeing how the classic vampire tropes informed Angel's character, but the fact that the episode draws the Angel parallel explicitly makes me think there's a bit of a dark mirror here. Angel left so Buffy could spend more time in the light; Dracula wants to bring her further into the darkness. It especially works well if the rumors are true, and Joss originally envisioned Angel as Buffy's dream guide in Restless. Then Angel would have been the first person to say the "You think you know..." line, with Dracula echoing it here. Anyway, the whole Dracula thing is a great setup for a season that focuses on what a slayer really is.

I have to say the "He was—" / "Unworthy. He let you go." exchange burns in my little Bangel heart, though.

It's also interesting that Riley thinks that Buffy would transfer her feelings for Angel to Dracula. Like, he still thinks she actively has feelings for Angel, even after The Yoko Factor? (I agree with him, but it's interesting that he just seems to take Buffy's feelings for Angel as a given.)

Miscellaneous notes:

Giles thinking about leaving is one of those storylines that only works on a metaphorical level, I think. It makes perfect sense if you see becoming a slayer as growing up. But in context, the idea of a slayer not needing support is so strange. Theoretically, Buffy should have like a 10-watcher team at her disposal to research and whatnot.

I like how the episode goes out of its way to remind of us of how Buffy has shuffled Joyce to the background over Season 4 (like Giles but even more so). It makes perfect sense for a college student to not spend a lot of time focused on her parents, but it makes it more interesting to see how the dynamic changes when Dawn is introduced.

Scripty stuff:

I skimmed through the script available online and I feel like they cut the more sympathetic Riley stuff...

For example, during the grilling scene:

XANDER
Not for long. The job is over in a couple weeks - then all my ends will be loose again.

RILEY
Tell me about it. I'm kind of in drift mode myself these days.

BUFFY
You're not drifty. You have school.

RILEY
Yeah - but I'm not even sure what I'm doing.
(back to Xander)
I mean, I figure I do want my masters in psychology…But, there's different areas… The new advances in psycholinguistics are intriguing - but I've really always thought of myself as a cognitive neurobiology guy.
And:

BUFFY
No way. This is so wrong.

WIDEN TO SEE

That she's helping Riley clean his room. Currently she's examining a plate she's just pulled from under his bed. Something black and moldy grows there.

BUFFY
Take this away. Whatever it is.

RILEY
It's tuna. Or… a pop tart.

He throws it out. Moves to the dresser, picks through clothes.

BUFFY
That's it. I'll face monsters, but I'm done helping you clean.

RILEY
You're not seeing the whole sexy bohemian thing? 'Cause I had it on good authority that chicks dig slack.

BUFFY
Actually I'm starting to miss the whole military fold-your-clothes-with-a-ruler experience.

A shadow crosses his face at the mention of his past life, but he recovers instantly with:

RILEY
You should talk. Your drawer's a mess.

He lifts a sexy, frilly underthing out of Buffy's drawer.

RILEY
(joking)
-- oh, no. That's my drawer. Sorry.

Buffy moves to him, flirtatious.

BUFFY
You sure that's yours? Looks kinda…snug.

RILEY
Maybe you should try it on. You know - just so we can see who it belongs to.

BUFFY
Ooh. I'd love to.

They kiss. Then Buffy draws away, regretful.

BUFFY
But I promised my mom I'd hang at the homestead tonight. She's bummed that I'm going back to the dorm - feeling all empty nesty.

RILEY
That's cool. I gotta get through all this - hey, old mail. Bonus.

Riley starts to thumb through the mail - something he sees stops him. His face clouds a little but Buffy doesn't pick up on it. She stands and gets ready to go.

BUFFY
I'd better scram. I'm late.

RILEY
(distracted)
Okay… Say hi to your mom.

They kiss and Buffy's gone. A beat. Then Riley opens the piece of mail that stopped him, his grave expression returning. It's not a bill - it's a letter. He reads it. Clearly grows angry, he throws it out.
This is so cute:

JOYCE
Right. Of course…
(then)
I'm going to have you to get used to this place without you again. It gets so quiet.

BUFFY
(kindly)
You should get a pet. A loud one.

JOYCE
Not a cat. Too pathetic.

BUFFY
Understood. How about a rat? Amy makes a lot of noise on that little wheely thing.

JOYCE
Too creepy.

BUFFY
Then a puppy. One of those kinds with the smooshy face.

JOYCE
Maybe. I'll think about it.
I also like the fuller version of the scene with Joyce, Willow and Tara:

JOYCE
He seemed so nice and normal… A little pale…

WILLOW
A good Sunnydale rules of thumb? Avoid white-skinned men in capes.

JOYCE
(a tad defensive)
I didn't - he was in a suit. A lovely suit… He came by the gallery, and he was amazingly well informed about art history-

TARA
Probably because he was around for most of it.

JOYCE
I want you both to know, I am not like this. I do not invite strange men over for coffee. It's just , it's been way too long.
(quickly)
Since I met anybody. You know, someone even remotely interesting.
 
Taake
Taake
Really like that Briley stuff! And the Joyce scenes!
J

joseph

Guest
#4
5x01 Buffy vs. Dracula
Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by David Solomon
Original air date: September 26, 2000

Overall thoughts: I love Buffy vs. Dracula. I know a lot of people don't, but it fits my sense of humor and I support the willingness to engage the classic vampire tropes head on. Plus, as a diehard Bangel shipper, I really enjoy the Angel parallels.

Right off the bat, I enjoy the shot of Buffy unable to sleep. It's been a whole summer but she's still "restless." We're basically picking right back up where we left off, with the repetition of the "You think you know..." line and the references to the First Slayer.

And the ending is such a perfect WTF moment that it makes the whole episode even better. What a ballsy move!

Those Angel parallels: We've got...
  • Riley is immediately threatened by him (and wants to fight him).
  • Xander is jealous of him.
  • Spike (also jealous) thinks he's overrated and lame.
  • He's a "darks-only man."
  • He suddenly appears and disappears a la early seasons Angel (School Hard as one example). And comes through the window into Buffy's room.
  • He "yearns" for Buffy and sees her as a kindred spirit (albeit for different reasons).
  • Buffy is attracted to him despite herself (and he bites her).
  • He chooses a castle instead of a crypt. Kinda like that vamp who lived in the big mansion.
Now some of this is just seeing how the classic vampire tropes informed Angel's character, but the fact that the episode draws the Angel parallel explicitly makes me think there's a bit of a dark mirror here. Angel left so Buffy could spend more time in the light; Dracula wants to bring her further into the darkness. It especially works well if the rumors are true, and Joss originally envisioned Angel as Buffy's dream guide in Restless. Then Angel would have been the first person to say the "You think you know..." line, with Dracula echoing it here. Anyway, the whole Dracula thing is a great setup for a season that focuses on what a slayer really is.

I have to say the "He was—" / "Unworthy. He let you go." exchange burns in my little Bangel heart, though.

It's also interesting that Riley thinks that Buffy would transfer her feelings for Angel to Dracula. Like, he still thinks she actively has feelings for Angel, even after The Yoko Factor? (I agree with him, but it's interesting that he just seems to take Buffy's feelings for Angel as a given.)

Miscellaneous notes:

Giles thinking about leaving is one of those storylines that only works on a metaphorical level, I think. It makes perfect sense if you see becoming a slayer as growing up. But in context, the idea of a slayer not needing support is so strange. Theoretically, Buffy should have like a 10-watcher team at her disposal to research and whatnot.

I like how the episode goes out of its way to remind of us of how Buffy has shuffled Joyce to the background over Season 4 (like Giles but even more so). It makes perfect sense for a college student to not spend a lot of time focused on her parents, but it makes it more interesting to see how the dynamic changes when Dawn is introduced.

Scripty stuff:

I skimmed through the script available online and I feel like they cut the more sympathetic Riley stuff...

For example, during the grilling scene:



And:



This is so cute:



I also like the fuller version of the scene with Joyce, Willow and Tara:
favourite part of this when Joyce tell Willow & Tara you girls will understand when you get older sometimes you just feel like giving UP on men all together love the way Tara a Willow look at each other when Joyce says that.
 
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#5
Buffy vs. Dracula

I know this episode is ridiculous, but I love it!!! I love how playful it is and I think it's a very strong season opener. It introduces most of the themes and arcs of the season while having a stand alone story and fun scenes. The episode in general sort of has a movie feel to me.

The scene right after the cold open at the beach looks like the beginning of a horror movie and I love it. I wish we could have had more fun scenes like that with the scoobies just having fun together and relaxing.

I love that it picks up on Restless for both Buffy and Giles. We're seeing the repercussions of their dreams. Giles wants to start a life and Buffy wants to connect with her slayer roots.

DAWN!!!!! I'm sooooo excited!!!!

Some things I found interesting :

Xander's "blood is life"... foreshadowing to the end of season 5.

Buffy still has the scar on her neck and meanwhile Angel is wearing his claddagh ring. They both have reminders of each other in the season opener.

"You think you know, what you are… what’s to come… you haven’t even begun…" So this is the 2nd time Buffy hears this, no wonder she wants Giles's help to figure it out.

Buffy's "I need to know where I come from" I find it interesting that she said this and not "where my power comes from". She's become one with her power. I don't think I've ever felt her embrace her slayerness as her identity like this (but it works for season 5). And this reminds me of her telling Wesley "You can't just define me by my Slayer-ness." in Choices.

Random thoughts :

Buffy looks so beautiful, I can't help but be in awe whenever she's on screen.

I think the actor who played Dracula did well. It's not easy playing a role as iconic as this one and I love what he did with it.

Willow trying to make Giles feel useful was such a sweet beat.

Favorite line :

"You are strange and off-putting". I legit laughed at that part. The delivery was awesome as well.
 
HoppyHippy
HoppyHippy
That is a real cute Buffy/Angel observation with the scar and the ring. Not one I was aware of before :D YAY!

Grace

Destructo-Girl
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Black Thorn
#7
Buffy still has the scar on her neck and meanwhile Angel is wearing his claddagh ring. They both have reminders of each other in the season opener.
Love this! <3

Buffy looks so beautiful, I can't help but be in awe whenever she's on screen.
OMG, yes. She is impossibly gorgeous.

I think the actor who played Dracula did well. It's not easy playing a role as iconic as this one and I love what he did with it.
I think so, too! They really asked a lot of him, too, given the whipsaw nature of BtVS between camp and taking things seriously.
 

Mrs Gordo

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Black Thorn
#8
BvD

I've always found that the hate for this episode is a bit odd. It's not the best but it certainly not the worst season opener. I guess part of it is I'm not very attached to Dracula or his mythology so it doesn't bug me for them to use this guy in the show.

I love that Dracula helps Buffy identify that there is a darkness that she has failed to explore in her powers. But one thing I'll have to keep an eye out is whether s5 really sufficiently explores this theme. I do feel like we don't get resolution on this notion of the dark/demon root of what a Slayer is in s5. And in fact, we don't really get a resolution to this until Get it Done.

I never noticed that when Buffy comes back to bed after her restless slaying, and she comes to cuddle with Riley, you can see her Angel scar.

Buffy's hair is amazing in this episode.

What would the significance be of Buffy wearing pink pants and a black shirt? Is it perhaps a metaphor of her duality. Girl v. Slayer? It seems strange that it would be pink and not white or beige etc.

Those Angel parallels: We've got...
  • Riley is immediately threatened by him (and wants to fight him).
  • Xander is jealous of him.
  • Spike (also jealous) thinks he's overrated and lame.
  • He's a "darks-only man."
  • He suddenly appears and disappears a la early seasons Angel (School Hard as one example). And comes through the window into Buffy's room.
  • He "yearns" for Buffy and sees her as a kindred spirit (albeit for different reasons).
  • Buffy is attracted to him despite herself (and he bites her).
  • He chooses a castle instead of a crypt. Kinda like that vamp who lived in the big mansion.
Also, Buffy talks about Dracula's penetrating eyes (same as Buffy talks about Angel's penetrating eyes in 1x07). I think this episode is better as a result of the call back to the bite with Angel, the reaction we see from Buffy in GD2 how she is turned on. We understand the underlying desire she felt and we can understand what Dracula is tapping into.

Then Angel would have been the first person to say the "You think you know..." line, with Dracula echoing it here.
We were robbed I tell you!

It's also interesting that Riley thinks that Buffy would transfer her feelings for Angel to Dracula. Like, he still thinks she actively has feelings for Angel, even after The Yoko Factor? (I agree with him, but it's interesting that he just seems to take Buffy's feelings for Angel as a given.)
I agree. And also, when will Buffy ever have a relationship in which she doesn't have to keep re-assuring her significant other that Angel is not an issue? Probably never which is why she should just be in a relationship with Angel! ;)

Buffy still has the scar on her neck and meanwhile Angel is wearing his claddagh ring. They both have reminders of each other in the season opener.
I love this!!
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#9
Buffy vs Dracula
It is certainly the worst season opener. All the other openers are seminal. This is so weaksauce. I think the idea was to have one entry episode at the start of a season that would be rough for the uninitiated to get into mid-way. It was the first Buffy episode I remember watching from start to finish, and it did little to endear me to the show.

The whole thing feels like Marti Noxon doing Jane Epstein poorly. It is so weird to see Noxon of all people do a Buffy-by-the-numbers episode. There are so few of these episodes - the kind of episode that does not stand out in any big way. Most of the Buffy episodes are special in some way and add something significant to the Buffy story. After S2, the number of filler episodes dropped dramatically.

Criticism aside, Dracula is a fun character, which I think they could have brought back. He was one of the few bright spots of the comics, even if his relationship with Xander was a little weird and most of all irresponsible. If you haven't read the book, pretty much everything about Dracula is taken straight from the source material, except his fame and his camp personality. Xander plays the part of the asylum inmate Renfield who goes increasingly more insane as Dracula's power over him grows. Dracula mostly hunts through extended seduction, rather than violence. The idea of turning him into a cheesy rock star was very clever.

I like to think of Dracula more in relation to Spike rather than Angel. Spike and Dracula both construct a very deliberate image for themselves. It is not just about the killing for them. They seem in love with the idea of being a vampire and how cool it makes them feel. Traditionally, vampires were mysterious and mostly portrayed from the outside. The undressing of Spike and Dracula's personæ is an interesting subversion of the genre. Of course, Angel's self awareness is explored in episodes like Guise Will Be Guise, but he isn't nearly as flamboyant or as deliberate as Spike and Drac.

I am currently watching S6, and it struck me that Willow might be using magic around Tara in order to test her loyalty. It is a pretty common thing for insecure people to do, especially in relationships. It is possible that Willow is doing the same when she is talking about finding Giles and Dracula sexy, and that it is a set up for Tough Love, where Willow forces Tara to admit that Tara is afraid Willow's gayness is just a phase. It may sound a little far fetched, but the fight in Tough Love isn't given much set up, and these two scenes where Willow makes Tara uncomfortable by expressing attraction to a man are a little odd.
 

Grace

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Black Thorn
#11
What would the significance be of Buffy wearing pink pants and a black shirt? Is it perhaps a metaphor of her duality. Girl v. Slayer? It seems strange that it would be pink and not white or beige etc.
I like this! That choice feels very 2000 to me, as well. ;)

Also, Buffy talks about Dracula's penetrating eyes (same as Buffy talks about Angel's penetrating eyes in 1x07).
Nice catch!

I am currently watching S6, and it struck me that Willow might be using magic around Tara in order to test her loyalty. It is a pretty common thing for insecure people to do, especially in relationships. It is possible that Willow is doing the same when she is talking about finding Giles and Dracula sexy, and that it is a set up for Tough Love, where Willow forces Tara to admit that Tara is afraid Willow's gayness is just a phase. It may sound a little far fetched, but the fight in Tough Love isn't given much set up, and these two scenes where Willow makes Tara uncomfortable by expressing attraction to a man are a little odd.
Ooh, this is an interesting idea. It reminded me of Tumblr post I read recently: https://counterpunches.tumblr.com%2Fpost%2F178491538512
Loving all the comments, everyone! This week is, of course, Real Me. (But feel free to jump in any time and post your thoughts. This is informal and we don't worry about keeping episode commentary in order or anything like that.)
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#12
The Real Me

This episode is a little hard to classify, because even though the introduction of Dawn makes it a special episode, the episode refuses to acknowledge its own specialness, so on a second viewing, it feels very much like another day-in-the-life episode. If any new viewers think they are going to get an explanation for what is going on, the show is like, "No! And f**** you for asking!"

I like this episode much better than B v D. It feels much more like the opening episode, because it does a better job of bringing us up to speed with what has been going on. We learn that Tara is still a bit of an outsider in the group and Riley is feeling restless. While B v D tries very hard to be laugh-out-loud-funny, this episode is confidently amusing throughout. It is not the funniest episode, but I find it very enjoyable to watch.

Dawn is great. When you're a kid, grown ups hardly recognise your personhood. They expect you to be kid-like, to like the stuff that kid likes and to be happy being treated like any other kid. Paradoxically, this is the time when one starts developing a stronger sense of oneself as an individual. Unless your friends are willing to listen to your endless rant about your journey of coming into yourself, it can be hard to find an audience, so Dawn uses her diary as an outlet. Again, this episode is a better opener than B v D, because the diary sequence gives new viewers a nice overview of the characters.

There is a nice parallel here between Dawn's spontaneous appearance and her desire to be recognised for who she is.

The episode establishes Tara and Xander as Dawn's most constant defenders. Dawn's crush on Xander is cute, but you don't consummate your older childhood crush. Stunted development, much?

There are three great Harmony episodes - Harsh Day of Light, Dishmarmony and Harm's Way. At the moment, Harmony is a bit of a limbo, waiting for the writers to find a more suitable use for her. She is workable as mere comic relief, but it feels like wasted potential. The Scoobies lack of concern for her is a little jarring. I know that there was never much love between them, but they knew her and she died fighting shoulder to shoulder with them.

Tom Lenk is an adorkable vampire.
 
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#14
Real Me

I love this episode a lot. I think it does a great job of introducing Dawn and her relationship with Buffy.

I'm surprised at how quickly I get into Dawn's pov and how much I feel for her in this episode. It might be because I already know the character and I'm very much attached to her but I think a lot of it has to do with Michelle's acting. Her facial expressions while writing in the journal are so on point.

Some things I found interesting :

Dawn starts the episode after the cold open with "Nobody knows who I am" and later when that man bumps into her in front of the magic shop, he tells her "I know you". So the episode is about the real Dawn but it doesn't really touch on who she really is. It mostly works as an introduction to the character's quirks but her real identity will be revealed later. That said, I do get the feeling, watching this episode, that this is Dawn. She already feels like a real character to me.

Dawn's "Touch me and my sister's going to kill you" is kind of awesome. Despite it all, she still sees Buffy as a hero. It makes me awww.

Random thoughts :

Riley using the word "violate" felt very jarring to me.

Buffy's scar from last week is still visible in some shots.

Tara looks so pretty in this episode, I love her outfit.

Dawn thinks Xander is smarter than everyone else because he decided to skip school but she thinks Willow is cool because she loves school as much as she does?

Favorite line :

"I was a librarian for years. This is exactly the same, except people pay for the things they don't return."
 
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#15
Dawn is a odd person to add to the Summer family. I still do not feel it was a well thought out problem.
I agree. Don't get me wrong, MT does a great job as Dawn (even if Dawn eats ice cream like a moron), but Dawn's personality means there is a big disconnect between Seasons 1-4 and Season 5 onwards. Dawn is "supposed" to have been there all along as far as Joyce and Buffy are aware but her personality is not one that could lead to her being overlooked. What I think would've been better is if they'd had Season 5 Dawn (at least) be someone who was quiet and kept herself to herself in her bedroom. Therefore when Seasons 1-4 was happening, Dawn was simply in her bedroom and Buffy and Joyce didn't mention it because it was such a regular occurrence. It also puts the audience kind of in the same boat as Buffy, had her sister been around all along and just hadn't been noticed?

As for Buffy Vs Dracula, I thought Riley was a little out of order at the start of the episode. Buffy was super excited at having met Dracula (as were Willow and Xander) yet when she's excitedly telling Giles of her encounter, Riley's kind of raining on her parade as if he's bored of hearing her talk about it.
 

Grace

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Black Thorn
#16
5x02 Real Me
Written by David Fury
Directed by David Grossman
Original air date: October 3, 2000

Overall thoughts: I love the teaser of this episode so much! The first time I watched, I was really into Buffy's training session, and I felt that annoyance with Dawn sooo acutely. Hahahaha, it's great.

Dawn is adorable and I agree with @Mylie that she feels so real and fleshed-out already. The scene with the mentally unhinged man is really disturbing, and that ending is so ominous. I love how that sense of unease/unreality mixes in with the teenage diary and normal life elements. (I just wish they had done something more believable with the ice cream scene, because there were so many ways they could have pulled that off.)

I also really enjoy the decision to go from Dracula to Harmony, total opposites when it comes to vampires.

Other stuff: I really feel bad for Tara's fear that she's a demon on rewatch! On first watch, I'm sure I had forgotten about the botched spell in S4 by now, so I'm not sure I even picked up on it.

I also enjoyed the contrast of Anya asking if she could trade her children for cash during the game of Life, but still running after Dawn when she went outside because Anya wanted to keep her safe.

I really love Mark Field's take on this episode, so I'm just going to quote it (from his post on The Gift, because of his no-spoilers policy):

"Real Me opens with Buffy seeking her true self: 'GILES VOICEOVER: You are the center. And within you, there is the core of your being ... of what you are.' Buffy’s search is interrupted when Dawn interferes, knocking over the crystals and demanding to leave. In part, at least, Dawn is Buffy’s true self, the core of what she is.

"In Real Me, Dawn tells us about herself, but what she’s really telling us all along is about Buffy. That whole episode isn’t about Dawn at all; it’s about how Buffy’s human half sees the world. Think about this language from Dawn’s first voiceover (the first meaningful words we hear her say): 'Nobody knows who I am. Not the real me. It's like, nobody cares enough to find out. I mean, does anyone ever ask *me* what I want to do with my life?' That’s Buffy talking about herself.

"If you recall, I made a list of Dawn’s attributes in my post on Real Me. Here they are again: 'She keeps a diary. She loves Willow, she loves Xander, she loves her mother. She thinks Giles might not like her because he’s so old, she finds Buffy’s training boring, and she resents the fact that Buffy is always telling her what to do even if, in some sense, she idolizes her sister. She likes Tara, she’s not so sure about Anya. Interestingly, she expresses no opinion about Riley. She feels isolated at times, and she gets to be the child of the family in a way that Buffy wishes she could.'

"Just to tick off quickly the similarities, Buffy kept a diary when she was younger (Angel, Ted); Giles called Buffy to her Slayer destiny in Welcome to the Hellmouth and has pushed her ever since (From Nightmares: 'I should have been more c... cautious. Taken more time to train you. But you were so gifted. And the evil was so great.') As a result, he tends to have little patience for Buffy’s less adult moments ('I'm serious, Buffy, there's going to be far less time for the sort of flighty, frivolous-….' Real Me); Buffy has a mixed relationship with Anya (see, e.g., Superstar or Buffy v. Dracula); Riley is pretty self-explanatory at this point; Buffy’s sense of isolation is well-established; and the whole point of the season is that Buffy needs to overcome the belief that her human/child side is a hindrance to becoming an adult."

Not everything is an exact fit, but overall I think it works as a way of looking at this episode. To me, this idea that no one knows the "real" Buffy is great as a follow-up to Season 4, where we saw that none of Buffy's friends other than Tara recognized that Faith in Buffy's body wasn't Buffy and Buffy was upset by that. (It also fits then that Tara is also the most worried about Dawn. She's the one who pays the closest attention to Dawn and sees her the most clearly.)

I checked out the script online and there's nothing much to note this time.
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#17
@Grace I think you are being too specific in your comparisons between Dawn and Buffy. There may be a parallel, but they are also two very distinct characters. Here's what I see as the differences.

1. Buffy does not like school as much as Willow.
2. Buffy is closer to Giles this season than she has ever been.
3. Buffy is not in love with Xander.
4. Buffy does not like Tara all that much.
5. Despite Riley's insecurities, Buffy seems quite happy with him. They may not have a miraculous love, but still.

The way I read the opening, Buffy wants to find herself by looking inside. A suddenly appearing sister takes Buffy's focus away from herself. Many people would argue that we discover ourselves in our interactions with others, rather than through introspection. Relationships are really important this season. There is an added emphasis on non-romantic relationships and romantic relationships continue to be important.

Rather than saying Dawn is Buffy, I would say that Buffy's love for Dawn will quickly become an increasingly important part of who Buffy is. But Dawn is Dawn and Buffy is Buffy.
 

Grace

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#18
@Grace I think you are being too specific in your comparisons between Dawn and Buffy. There may be a parallel, but they are also two very distinct characters. Here's what I see as the differences.
Well, I don't want to take credit for Mark Field's observations, so I'll just clarify that everything in quotation marks comes from him. But I do like that way of looking at the episode (and the season as a whole). I agree that some things he points out are exaggerated (probably for effect), but I still think there are more parallels than not.

To me, looking at a character as a metaphor does not preclude seeing them as a character in their own right. Yes, Dawn is not actually Buffy, but I think Dawn is used as a metaphor for Buffy's inner child / humanity multiple times throughout the series, and I think the groundwork for it is laid here. I think there are counterpoints to almost every point that you made, but I don't really want to argue about it because to me it adds to my enjoyment of the episode and of Season 5 and I'm fine with leaving it there.
 

Grace

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#19
Looking forward to hearing thoughts on The Replacement this week!
 

WillowFromBuffy

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#20
The Replacement

This episode has a nice little lesson. If you take full advantage of your personal resources, you may very well get the girl, the job and the apartment, but if you get too hung up on your shortcomings, then you will have none of those things and your confidence will slowly corrode until you believe you were always bound to fail. They're both Xander. Xander can be the self-assured guy who gets things done. It nice that Xander will now get a break, because he had it rough in S4.

Xander and Anya's relationship is great. Anya is like an alien who read a book about what human life is supposed to be like and pushes Xander to provide her that. I love this kind of deconstructing and reconstructing of societal norms.

The episode is good, but not amazing. The overall quality of the show is very high at this juncture, but this early in the season we are puttering away on a low boil. I kinda like it. Sometimes too many special episodes in a row can be a little fatiguing. I like being able to spend time with the characters without too much drama.

Poor Riley. Buffy asking him to step on the pedal feels like fore-shadowing.

The precursor to the Buffy-Bot makes her first appearance.

I wonder if an episode where Xander was split into angry, impulsive, horny, and jealous Xander and sweet, supportive, and intuitive Xander would have worked or if it would have been too hamfisted.
 
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