Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 5, episodes 1-14: Gosh Dawn it!

Well, well, well. Congratulations, Internet! I would like to formally congratulate you, as I just did, and thank you for not spoiling this huge surprise. I’ve been spoiled on so many things thanks to you — namely, spoiler alert if you’re watching the series for the first time, someone’s mom’s death… ugh… why Internet! — but I’m very shocked and pleased that you kept this one all to yourself. How you could do that is just about anyone’s guess. Dawn is Buffy’s sister (and “the key”). Whaaaat.

I wrote the following paragraph after I had just watched the first two episodes of season 5 and was planning to write about it:

Season 5, of which I’ve only watched two episodes, has been really good on me so far. I’m enjoying it a looot. Like, a lot a lot. I may even like the entire season more than season 4 already. Well, then again, season 4 has such great episodes. It’s tough, guys. But season 5 seems to be exploring something that I’m much more interested in watching.

And then I just continued watching the following 12 episodes. I’m now 14 episodes into this season and I can confirm that I absolutely love this season so very much, you have no idea. Right now, the only thing that’s in between me and another four or so episodes of Buffy is writing my feelings about these initial 14 episodes. What to do? What to do? Ugh, it would be so easy to just continue watching BTVS into oblivion and never speaking about it…

Okay, no photo recapping this post. Deal? Deal. (Plus, those take so much work oh, geez, I may never do them again.) Sorry you’re left with just my thoughts this time. I’ll try to make this really short. But here’s three caps I captioned like a month ago:

We sort of begin season 5 around the time we left season 4… emotionally, at least, since nothing of importance actually happens in the summer on this show. I can’t really speak as to which of season 5’s episodes are my favorite, because to me, everything has seemed like one huge amazing episode… except for perhaps the premiere. In many ways, that’s what differentiates season 4 and 5 for me: season 4 was very much structured episode to episode. Maybe it’s the fact that Joyce’s tumor story took so much of the beginning and it all bled into each other or something, but there really isn’t that one episode I’ll go back and say, “That one was so good because XYZ.” It’s more like, “This season is so amazing because XYZ happened.”

In short, I feel like the season has been written much more cohesively. And also, I just care about these people now, so that definitely adds up. Can you believe that I like Joyce now? Joyce is one of my favorites now; it’s weird. I think that the fact that Buffy ignored her for all of season 4 made grow a lot of sympathy for Joyce. (I still think she’s the stupidest for inviting a vampire into her home because it’s hard to date. Joyce, you never fail to be incompetent. But I love you.) Hm… or maybe I grew sympathy for her because OF THE TUMOR IN HER HEAD. I don’t know, one of those though definitely.

Yeah, sorry. This is basically all I have to say about season 5: it’s amazing, etc, etc. I mean, I don’t have much analysis of it, for that matter. Well I do, but that may be overwhelming, so let’s break that into segments.

On Dawn…

So apparently some people think that Dawn is annoying, but I’ve never really thought that. When the premiere episode ended and the collective “Mom!” happened, I li-truh-ly yelped. Have you ever heard someone yelp that wasn’t a Looney Tunes caricature? Well that happened to me. My initial reaction to it was mixed. On one hand, I knew that this made absolutely no sense to just retcon everything. But on the other (and of course this is just right after viewing Dawn’s first scene), I was growing in love with the idea that Buffy had this sister that was never acknowledged because of how self-centered Buffy can be sometimes, you know?

So then I played episode two, and I was still growing in love with that idea. I mean, the show had just spent an entire season on how she hadn’t visited her mom in ever and thought that she was better at leading her life in charge… and almost at isolation. And yet, at the same time, Buffy has always beens someone who cares a great deal about her family and friend’s safety (except for some weird inconsistencies in season 4, seriously). It would be weird for Buffy to never mention her sister in any of the million different apocalypses. Apocalypti? Regardless, as the episode wore on, it was obvious that Dawn was something more than just being Buffy’s sister. And apparently, she’s The Key, which I was spoiled about before finding out that was it. Of course, I don’t know what she “unlocks,” so to speak, but I’m really hoping that it’s worth it because there has been so much build up to it. I’m not holding my breath because season long villain arcs aren’t all that great.

Glory

Speaking of villain arcs, everyone was telling me that Glory is basically Cordelia except evil. I was so excited. Except, I don’t think she’s all that much like Cordelia at all.

Smashed perceptions aside, I love Glory! She’s the best villain that BTVS has crafted thus far. Congratulations, BTVS, you finally create a villain that isn’t a complete joke ever since Angelus. (Even then, those accents!) We just finished finding out that Glory is a god, so it’s going to be hard finding out how you defeat that in any which way, but I look forward to it. WHY CAN’T I TYPE FAST OMG???

Buffy and Spike (and Buffy’s “darkness”)

Season 5 of BTVS seems to be telling us a lot that Buffy is dark and likes darkness. But it really hasn’t been showing it. If I had one complaint, that would be it. Save for the premiere episode, where Buffy let Dracula bite her and she was “hunting,” there have been no other indications. And I hope that the back half of the season gives a bit more in that arena. I’m not a fan of that whole thing where everyone tells a character about themselves. It kind of pisses me off. Writers do this a lot for romance. “You love him/her. I can see it in your eyes!!!”

Okay. Anyway.

However, the way I see it is that Buffy definitely doesn’t want to be that way. Season 4 was very much about her finding someone that was normal — and yes, to an extent that just didn’t get in the way. A lot of season 4 for Buffy was that she didn’t want people to be in the way of her job, or her life. She isolated a lot of her friends and her mother because of it. She seems to be trying to eradicate that this season, however. The point is that she found Regular Joe Riley and it was great. The problem is that she thought she could continue to treat him like a Regular Joe after she found out that he was someone who also hunted down vampires and demons. And unfortunately for Buffy, people tend to crave to be craved in a raw, human way. I don’t blame Riley for leaving, even if Buffy believes that she’s given him her mind, body, and soul. It might be convenient for Buffy to compartmentalize everyone but, from the looks of it, that’s not what anyone else would want. So, yeah, I think that Buffy’s mind is rejecting the idea that she could want someone like Spike, but it’s ingrained in her core.

I guess I didn’t really talk about the pairing all that much, did I? For the most part, I don’t have much of an opinion. I’m not rooting for it to happen, but I’m also not actively hoping it won’t. Though Angel is always Angelus, too, feeling an attraction to Spike is inherently more “dark” than Angel. Spike might have a chip in his head, but he still has thoughts and desires of being his evil self on the surface of his mind… he just is physically incapable of exacting that. For the narrative, I’m not complaining and I await the moment this inevitably takes place.

But if I had to choose favorite episodes…

Okay, but now you’re like… choose some episodes please. Okay.

“The Replacement:” Xander is one of my favorite characters (they all are, anyway) and I love that the show gave him a true episode about him after his lacking presence is season 4. And not only that, but it seriously did give a great deal of development for his character. We know that Xander possesses the power to be the star of his own show, but he never commands it. All this episode did was reinforce that. Episodes after have continued to deal with how Xander feels inferior and does warrant being a part of the Scoobies, but I expect that to be an ongoing battle.

“Fool For Love:” I’m not really a fan of flashback episodes, by design, (except on Revenge, you guys, I think that’s the only show that has mastered it) but I really love this episode because it gives us great insight into a slayer’s death wish. Also, I wasn’t really annoyed with Dru in it, either. I think Darla really something that betters the dynamic. Anyway, back to slayers… I suppose this means that Kendra wanted to die, too. But I love that this sort of adds up with Faith’s declaration to Angel that he kill her, and it certainly gives a better understanding as to how she could spiral down so easily and so swiftly. I think the same is true for Buffy — she feels burdened and sometimes wishes she didn’t have to be responsible for… well, the world. A part of her resents that.

“Into the Woods:” Even if Riley is a bit bland, something inside me really loves this episode. I think it’s the way it’s structured, or written, or something. I also like that we get a peek into Buffy’s mind a bit… and I certainly love that they establish that Xander and Buffy actually have a friendship, because yeesh it’s been a while.

…I can’t anymore. I like them all. Even the ones I skipped. “No Place Like Home” is amazing. I even like “Family” as much as I was annoyed by it. I like “Shadow.” I think “Triangle” was hilarious and revealed a lot about Anya and Willow’s relationship. I liked “Blood Ties.” I even liked Dru-ridden “Crush.” They’re all good!

Ugh, except maybe “Checkpoint.” I don’t know why, but I really just could not care less about the watchers’ council. (EDIT: Except for Buffy’s speech, which gets all of the awards. ALL OF THEM.) The episode where they run a test on Buffy is one of my least favorites of the series, actually.

But yeah, I seriously don’t know what else to say except that I’ve enjoyed every episode. Picking and choosing one or the other is moot. Season 5 doesn’t have any standout episode thus far (there’s no “Fear, Itself,” there’s no “Hush,” etc), but it’s been so consistently good that I could not care less. I think I’ve come to a point that I just want to spend time with the characters and so I enjoy their company. Which brings me to…

A few words about Angel season 2

I’m actually up to episode 17 “Disharmony” of Angel, as pictured. That’s because I’ve been watching clumps of one show and then the other. This last clump of Angel was sooooooo exhausting because it was like six episodes so that I could finally get back to BTVS. Really, that’s how I feel about Angel about this point. Whenever I’m watching an episode, I’m thinking… “Can I get back to Buffy now… or?”

That said, Angel season two is vastly superior to season one, no doubt. I’ve actually been enjoying everything with Darla and how Angel has been flirting with the Angelus side. What I love the most about that storyline is that the series stopped talking about the curse as if any time that Angel orgasms he will become evil. Not only was it disrespectful to what the writers built up for Angel and Buffy, but it was completely absurd.

I also was hoping that Harmony would stick around for good here. From one episode to the next, the series established that Cordelia was kind of bad ass, which is something I’ve always wanted. In the season one credits, there’s an image of her with a crossbow and I was excited to finally see that play out on the show. But when it came up, she basically just fell to the ground and someone else had to help her. That’s been pretty consistent and I’d like for that to stop. But on the other hand, I know that making Cordelia mature (even if it’s because of getting visions she can’t control) in that sense means she might stop being a bit of what makes Cordelia so damn likable. In a way, Harmony could become that comedic relief. And I relatively like Harmony.

So yeah, I guess when I think about Angel, I like the show. It’s just that sometimes I feel like it gets in the way of me watching BTVS. And it just can never have that Buffy charm.

And that’s that. I’m going to go watch some more Buffy before we all die today!

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About the author: Michael Collado
Michael Collado
Mike's a television junkie located in Miami, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.

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  • Monika Alem

    YES! I agree with all the thoughts! Season 5 of Buffy is definitely the strongest one. It has the most interesting episodes and Glory, IMO, is definitely the best villain on the show. I cannot wait to read your thoughts on the latter half of the season and on season 6, which is the second best.

  • cacherr1

    The Fab 4 (Darla, Angel, Spike, and Dru) dynamic in flashback made it fun for me when it originally aired. I also like they dispel the whole sex part of the curse it was ridiculous but then again BTVS really doesn’t delve into the curse like Angel does. But that ridiculous part made for good jokes. Angel and BTVS definitely have two different grooves.

  • http://twitter.com/ErinHmm Erin Setter

    Oh BTVS, I will always remember watching you in secret/without permission in my parents’ basement. Season 5 was pretty good, but I remember liking 6 more. Dawn was a huge curveball and I think it was just what the show needed!

  • blackwan

    I really love S5 and Dawn was a surprise and in The Real Me I thought she was evil. After watching the whole season and realizing in truth she’s just a baby blows my mind

  • http://twitter.com/jennyad Jen

    Yay, I’m glad you’re getting so into it! Season 5 IS amazing. Even though I am one of the Dawn haters. :)