Well, thanks to some oversleeping, I’m off to a later start than I’d intended, but all systems are go.
9:38 a.m. - The Season 5 Premiere, “Buffy vs Dracula” is on (original airdate: Sept. 26, 2000). I know some people think a Dracula episode is cliche, but let’s be honest, in a seven-season run, it’s not surprising that he showed up at some point. And they actually did a pretty good job with him.
9:46 a.m. - I love Buffy’s reaction to meeting Dracula. At first she doesn’t want to believe it’s him, and she even makes a reference to the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” movie with Lestat.
9:55 a.m. - When Spike is going off about he and Dracula being old rivals, it’s easy to blow it off as Spike just boasting and making stuff up. But there was a nice non-canon comic series, “Spike vs Dracula”, written by Peter David back in 2006. It covered the whole Spike-Dracula rivalry, from its inception through the destruction of Sunnydale. And we even find out why Dracula owes Spike 11 pounds.
10:04 a.m. - I love how Riley immediately jumps to the conclusion that because Buffy loved Angel, she’d fall for Dracula too. Jealous much?
10:11 a.m. - The Brides of Dracula are just a piece of the Dracula mythology that made it in to this episode. It’s interesting to see what the creators used in their version of Dracula and what they chose to leave out.
10:14 a.m. - The stuntpeople in the Buffy vs Dracula fight do a much better job of hiding their faces than they had in previous episodes. It almost makes you think it’s possible that Sarah Michelle Gellar is doing some of her own stunts (which she’s not).
10:19 a.m. - Hey, Dawn’s here! I’ll cover this more in the next episode.
“Buffy vs Dracula” Favorite Quote: “How do you like my darkness now?” - Buffy
Episode Two - Real Me
10:20 a.m. - “Real Me” (original airdate: Oct. 3, 2000) has started.
10:23 a.m. - Our introduction to Dawn (and her diaries) includes the line “Nobody knows whoI am. Not the real me.” Later, when Riley calls her “kid”, she responds, “I’m not a kid.” So it’s obvious in retrospect that the creators of the show knew exactly what Dawn was when they introduced her. I remember when I first started watching these episodes, I thought maybe Dawn had been Buffy’s sister all along. Maybe she’d been in L.A. with Buffy’s dad or something like that. I would have begrudgingly accepted an explanation like that, especially since so many students in the past showed up at Sunnydale and everyone acted like they knew them all along. Sure, they usually died in that same episode, but the creators could have used that setup for Dawn. But what they came up with was so much better.
10:30 a.m. - And just in case you thought Dawn’s appearance might have been natural, crazy guy shows up and acts all weird around her. This is going to be a theme for upcoming episodes, until everyone finds out Dawn is the key (and it even leads Glory right to Dawn after Tara gets her brain drained).
10:44 a.m. - I love the reference to Harmony and Xander’s last fight in “The Initiative”. This time, there’s less hair pulling and scratching and more Harmony almost kicking Xander’s ass, before he gets in a lucky kick. Even better is Buffy’s reaction to finding out Harmony has minions and wants to kill Buffy. She sure gets serious real quick once she finds out about the invite.
10:55 a.m. - Trivia note about “Real Me” - the first one of Harmony’s minions who gets dusted is played by Tom Lenk, who would reappear as Andrew Wells in Season 6 (and 7, and the character is pivotal in the Season 8 comic).
“Real Me” Favorite Quote: “Willow and Tara do spells and stuff, which is so much cooler than Slaying. I told Mom one time I wished they'd teach me some of the things they do together. And then she got really quiet and made me go upstairs.” - Dawn
Episode Three - The Replacement
11:00 a.m. - “The Replacement” (original airdate: Oct. 10, 2000) is underway.
11:11 a.m. - When I first saw this episode, I was convinced (much like “lame” Xander is convinced) that the demon Toth had created some kind of evil Xander clone.
11:14 a.m. - The first reference to Joyce’s headaches is done in a very comical manner, but it’s hard to laugh at the joke, when you know what the headache leads to.
11:20 a.m. - The actress that plays the building manager in this episode -- Cate Cohen -- has also been in episodes of “Firefly”, “Charmed” and “Alias”. She should be my favorite random bit-player ever. It helps that she’s hot.
11:24 a.m. - “I get in trouble and Buffy saves me.” It’s interesting that lame Xander brings up this point, because it’s kind of the point that Spike makes to Xander in “The Yoko Factor” and it’s what led to the gang trying to protect Xander in “The Zeppo.”
11:25 a.m. - I liked Willow’s reaction to Xander saying “wait ‘til you have an evil twin.” Because, as we know, Willow met her evil twin in “Doppelgangland” and, in fact, did handle it fine.
11:27 a.m. - Since we’re more than halfway through this episode, I feel the need to point out that the demon of the episode, Toth, is barely in the episode. Obviously, while the speculation is still on one of the Xanders being the demon, we can’t see Toth, because that would ruin the illusion. Still, this is a very demon-light episode.
11:31 a.m. - When we finally find out that Toth’s plan was to separate Buffy into a “normal” Buffy and a “Slayer” Buffy, everything starts to make sense. How cool would it have been to see the two Buffys, instead of the two Xanders?
11:33 a.m. - I’m just now coming to the realization that we’re three episodes into the season and we still haven’t gotten our Big Bad. I’d be more pissed about this if these early episodes hadn’t been so entertaining and Season 5’s Big Bad (Glory) wasn’t so worth waiting for.
“The Replacement” Favorite Quote: “Hey, I'm well aware of how lucky I am. Like, lottery lucky. Buffy's like nobody else in the world. When I'm with her, it's like... it's like I'm split in two. Half of me is just on fire, going crazy if I'm not touching her. The other half is so still and peaceful, just perfectly content... just knows: this is the one. But she doesn't love me.” - Riley Finn
Episode Four - Out of My Mind
11:42 a.m. - Episode 4, “Out of My Mind”, has begun (original airdate: Oct. 17, 2000). This episode serves as The Initiative’s last hurrah, which I guess is sort of a good thing, since last hurrah means “last”, but I didn’t really fancy seeing The Initiative again.
11:53 a.m. - Harmony and Spike were always a weird pairing. They’re pretty much completely incompatible, but they do have the joint desire to kill Buffy.
11:55 a.m. - Joyce’s little “who are you” to Dawn before she collapses is very telling. I really think by this point, people should have picked up on what Dawn was (or, at least, that she wasn’t normal). I’m excluding myself from this group, since by the first time I’d seen this episode, I’d already read about Dawn and what she was. Also, it doesn’t really count as a Big Bad sighting, but we do see Ben, Glory’s other half, in this episode.
12:05 p.m. - Obviously Buffy’s not really thinking straight because she misses Riley, but was it really the best idea to tell Spike where Initiative doctors would be? Given how he’s betrayed her and the Scoobies at pretty much every opportunity, did she really think he wouldn’t do exactly what he did, which is to go and get the chip out. It reminds me of “This Year’s Girl”, where Spike has to remind Giles and Xander that he’s evil and hates them. Sure, he’s got a chip in his head, but a chip isn’t a soul. Which, of course, doesn’t explain why he falls in love with Buffy, but that’s a story for another episode (or, ya know, later this episode).
12:12 p.m. - Look, I don’t like the Buffy-Riley relationship and this whole speech in the caves reinforces that. Buffy tries to make it seem like Riley’s the most important person who’s ever been in her life, but let’s be honest, he’s not Angel. And Riley’s jealously/inferiority complex is just annoying.
12:15 p.m. - Hey, welcome to the plot Buffy! She finally figures out what Spike is up to. There’s not really time for her to be all self-loathing, but this is really her fault for involving Spike in the first place. Not that she’ll ever admit it. Think about “Once More, With Feeling” when she sings “I was always brave and kind of righteous.” Well, she was. Nothing was ever really her fault, even when it was (if that makes sense).
12:23 p.m. - It’s funny, but the Buffy-Spike kiss (in Spike’s dream), reminds me of Xander and Cordelia’s first kiss. And when Spike wakes up startled from his dream, it’s hilarious.
Episode Five - No Place Like Home
12:24 p.m. - Episode 5, “No Place Like Home” (original airdate: Oct. 17, 2000) is now playing, and we’re finally getting some Big Bad story. If you don’t know to expect Glory, it’s weird to see how freaked out the monks are by a well-dressed, well-put-together girl.
12:33 p.m. - Buffy’s encounter with the crazy security guard at the hospital is all full of prophetic warnings. It’s tough to try and make out what all the crazy people say in these early episodes, but pretty much everything they say has a greater meaning.
12:35 p.m. - Glory! Finally! Look, I love Glory, primarily because Clare Kramer is really hot. But also, she’s a great foil for Buffy. She’s significantly stronger than Buffy, and despite the severe mental illness that seems to plague her, she’s also incredibly crafty. Plus, yeah, the hotness. Oh, and her speech to the monk is a little reminiscent of Agent Smith’s speech to Morpheus about how much he hates The Matrix. Glory has the same hatred for this dimension.
12:47 p.m. - Once again, Buffy looks for a a supernatural cause to what seems like a very natural part of life -- she did this back in Season 1’s “The Pack” and Season 4’s “Living Conditions” -- and once again, she’s right. But, as usual, her friends doubt her at first, and if fact, when she first casts the spell to see the reality of everything, she doubts herself. It’s not until she sees some of the pictures with Dawn fading that she realizes what’s going on.
12:51 p.m. - The scene right after Buffy’s figured out that Dawn isn’t her sister is very powerful. At this point, Dawn doesn’t know what she is, so she’s just all creeped out over Buffy’s actions. It probably reminds her of Joyce’s “who are you” quote in “Out of My Mind”, and sets the stage for more creepiness with what Dawn is. Ya know, a lot of people were down on Michelle Trachtenberg, but she actually pulled off this scene pretty well.
1:00 p.m. - It becomes obvious in their very first fight that Buffy really poses no physical threat to Glory. Even a room collapsing on Glory doesn’t really stop her for long.
1:04 p.m. - The whole ending of this episode, with the monk telling everything to Buffy just before he dies followed by Buffy reconciling with Dawn (during which Buffy stops in the middle of something, realizing it’s a fake memory), is very well done. And the creators have answered the “where did Dawn come from” question only five episodes into the season. They easily could have dragged that out for the entire season, but they didn’t.
“No Place Like Home” Favorite Quote: "I just want you to know -- this whole 'beat you to death' thing I'm doing is valuable time out of my life that I'm never going to get back." - Glory
Episode Six - Family
1:06 p.m. - This episode, “Family”, is the 6th of this season (original airdate: Nov. 7, 2000), the 16th appearance by Amber Benson and the first real Tara-based episode.
I like the scene at the hospital with Ben and Glory. They really make it look like that demon is about to attack Ben, and then Glory comes up and distracts the demon by kidnapping it. There’s no hint at all that Ben and Glory are the same person, other than they’re both in the hospital locker room at the same time. Good job by the people on the show to give us those little scenes.
1:18 p.m. - When I first saw the Buffy/Spike fight scene, I thought it was a real fight. It was funny when it turned out to be another Spike dream.
1:36 p.m. - Amy Adams has become a much bigger star than Amber Benson, so it’s weird to see her in a supporting role, as Tara’s cousin Beth.
1:39 p.m. - So Tara thinks she’s going to become a demon, because her family told her that’s what happens to the women in her family when they turn 20. Only, it turns out not to be true. This is another entry in the ongoing Joss Whedon’s daddy issues book. However, unlike previous entries, I think this actually works, because we’re not supposed to like Tara’s father. He’s trying to break up the group dynamic, which isn’t what we want. In fact, this episode serves to make Tara more a part of the group than ever before.
“Family” Favorite Quote:
Giles: Well, you didn't give me much to go on. She-she looks human, so the mug shots aren't any use, and, uh, You can't be more specific about what she's like?
Buffy: She was kind of like Cordelia, actually. I'm pretty sure she dyes her hair.
Giles: Ah, yes, that one, of course. Our work is done.
Episode Seven - Fool for Love
1:49 p.m. - I’m now on to episode 7, “Fool for Love” (original airdate: Nov. 14, 2000). This is actually part of a two-part episode, with the second part running on “Angel”. I actually like the Angel episode (“Darla”) better, because it focuses on Angel’s past instead of Spike’s. Still, this is a very cool Season 5 episode. I’m going to sit back and enjoy it.
2:02 p.m. - Ah, the Cecily/Halfrek dilemma. See, Kali Rocha plays Cecily in this episode, a noblewoman that the pre-vampire Spike is pining after. Next season, she reappears as Halfrek, a vengeance demon who was a friend of Anya’s. When she appeared in Season 6, the writers knew that fans would recognize her as Cecily, so they had to throw in a little line that acknowledged that. Then, IDW took it to the next level, adding in some non-canon background about how Cecily was actually already a vengeance demon when she appeared in this episode. I know it’s not canon, but I like to believe that story -- told in “Spike: Old Times” -- is what happened.
2:16 p.m. - It’s interesting that Buffy seems averse to the idea that she gets off on slaying, maybe because it reminds her of Faith. Spike, however, is right here. He knows what he’s talking about.
2:20 p.m. - Nikki Wood is obviously the more long-lasting slayer of the two Spike killed, in terms of impact on the series. In this episode, she’s played by stuntwoman April Weeden-Washington, but when she actually gets lines in Season 7, she’s replaced by K.D. Aubert. Still, despite the fact that Nikki Wood is more important to the series, I prefer the Chinese Slayer. She’s got the much cooler fight scene in this episode.
2:26 p.m. - Ya know, it took me until this viewing of the episode to figure out why Spike gets so pissed when Buffy rejects him. It’s not just the rejection but the words she uses. When Buffy says “you’re beneath me”, it’s the same thing Cecily said to him on his last night of being human. Just like Angelus hated Buffy for making him feel human, Spike had that same hatred in that moment. Great job by the writers.
“Fool for Love” Favorite Quote: “Sooner or later, you're gonna want it. And the second — the second — that happens, you know I'll be there. I'll slip in, have myself a real good day.” - Spike
Episode Eight - Shadow
2:30 p.m. - Episode 8, “Shadow” (original airdate: Nov. 21, 2000) is on now. This is obviously the episode that takes the Joyce illness to the next level, and it’s tough to take, knowing what’s coming down the line.
2:35 p.m. - Kevin Weisman makes his first of three appearances as Dreg, one of Glory’s minions. This was a year before he upgraded to a co-starring role on “Alias”. What’s funny is I saw “Alias” way before I saw “Buffy”, so seeing him here in such a minor role was very weird.
2:41 p.m. - Wow, Tara actually nailed Glory completely. Something old, something different, something pre-dating language. And then Glory randomly shows up in the shop, which is AWESOME. God, she’s HOT (and an all-powerful Goddess -- I totally want my next girlfriend to be a hot, all-powerful Goddess... I’ll even put up with the psycho and evil parts).
3:08 p.m. - What I don’t like about this episode: Riley’s whole vampire biting high thing. It’s just weird. What I do like about this episode: Buffy going all out to protect Dawn. The way she goes after the snake-demon so Glory won’t find out about Dawn is much more big sister than slayer, and sets the tone for her actions at the end of the season.
Episode Nine - Listening to Fear
3:12 p.m. - And now we come to what I remember to be the worst episode of Season 5, “Listening to Fear” (original airdate: Nov. 28, 2000), which features some weird alien-demon thing.
This episode also featured more of Riley’s weird addiction to being bitten, which is actually more stupid than Willow’s magic addiction in Season 6.
3:27 p.m. - Aside from the pure stupidity of the alien plotline, this question needs to be asked: sure, the police in Sunnydale are epically incompetent, but really, no one bothers to investigate a meteor crash? No one? I find that hard to accept, even on The Hellmouth.
3:35 p.m. - Joyce’s freakout at Dawn is done very well, and almost salvages this episode. It leads to Joyce finding out that Dawn isn’t really her daughter, which is a tragic moment on the show. There’s so much sadness about this season.
3:40 p.m. - The scoobies do some good research on the alien demon (called a “Queller”), but come up one step short on the whole Glory idea (mostly because at no point would they have been able to make the connection between Glory and Ben. Also, I understand the need for them to keep Buffy out of the loop and concentrating on her family, but wouldn’t it have been helpful once they knew about this thing to tell her, if only to serve as a warning?
3:45 p.m. - OK, I’d forgotten just how ugly and creepy and scary the Queller demon actually looked. Nice job makeup/props department.
3:48 p.m. - And now we start working on some of the big picture of Season 5. Ben and Glory are related somehow -- obviously if you’ve seen the whole series you know they’re the same person, but t this point, all we can presume from what we’ve seen is that they’re working together. Still, this will start to become a bigger deal in upcoming episodes. Also, just as a wrap-up to this episode, the queller demon is actually a very small part of the episode, so it works much better than I’d remembered. It’s more about Buffy, Joyce and Dawn and the relationship between the three of them.
“Listening to Fear” Favorite Quote: “No matter what she is, she still feels like my daughter. I have to know that you’ll take care of her, that you’ll keep her safe. That you’ll love her like I love you.” - Joyce
Episode Ten - Into the Woods
3:53 p.m. - This episode, “Into the Woods” (original airdate: Dec. 19, 2000), starts pretty much right where “Listening to Fear” left off, which works really well when I’ve completely cut out end credits.
4:09 p.m. - Obviously it qualifies as “TV convenient” that Riley gets this new army offer right as Buffy finds out about his weird addiction. But it works for this episode, if only to get Riley out of the way so we can focus on the threat Glory presents.
4:15 p.m. - It’s amazing that Riley’s the only one who really picks up on Spike’s love for Buffy. And, of course, he leaves town before he can really say anything about it. Plus, it gives us the great scene where Spike and Riley discuss Buffy. Spike correctly points out that Riley isn’t really Buffy’s long-term type of man, something Riley’s known for a long time now.
4:24 p.m. - The break-up scene between Buffy and Riley lasts for about 8 minutes, and it’s well-written and well-acted, but it’s just not something I needed. At the simplest level, it just makes me sad. And I don’t like it, because I don’t want to feel sad about Riley leaving. I’m actually happy to see him go. It’s just too bad he had to have his best episode in his final performance.
4:30 p.m. - In Season 7, Xander is identified as the guy who sees things. And lo-and-behold, he’s the only one who saw Riley for what he really meant to Buffy. Too bad it came just a little too late. Still, Xander has always been the emotional center of the group, and he gets to play that role again here.
“Into the Woods” Favorite Quote: “The girl needs some monster in her man... and that's not in your nature... no matter how low you try to go.” - Spike
Episode Eleven - Triangle
4:35 p.m. - The final episode of the first half of the season, “Triangle” (original airdate: Jan. 9, 2001), is now playing. Once this episode is done, I’ll be halfway done with this project. And yes, somehow, I’m tired, just from sitting here watching TV.
5:00 p.m. - Ya know, everyone in Buffy’s group of friends is incredibly stupid. Why is Xander commiserating with Spike? Spike’s the enemy. But at least we get some fun jokes about the Bronze’s version of the Bloomin’ Onion. It’s the running joke for Spike that becomes his version of Anya’s bunny fear.
5:04 p.m. - Abraham Benrubi is really funny as Olaf the troll in this episode. I mostly remember him as Kubiak from “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” -- most people remember him from his role on “E.R.”, which makes sense since he was on that show much longer. He’s a great guest star in this episode.
5:15 p.m. - This episode actually concludes a little set of people working out their issues in some way. Two episodes ago it was Joyce and her family. Last episode it was Buffy and Riley (though they didn’t work things out so much as end things), and in this one it’s Willow and Anya. Also, Buffy’s little tantrum about Xander and Anya’s relationship at school ends up setting the stage for the big fight at the end. That scene didn’t make sense at first, but it does come the end. Also, Buffy’s constant overreaction to relationship drama is very funny, and helps might light of a tough situation after Riley’s departure.
Episode Twelve - Checkpoint
5:17 p.m. - “Checkpoint” (original airdate: Jan. 23, 2001) is the 12th episode of the season and a big step forward in the Glory story (hehe, that rhymed). I’m gonna watch this whole episode and write about it at the end, after Buffy’s great speech. See you in 40 minutes.
5:58 p.m. - Wow, that’s a powerful episode. First off, the whole review by the Watchers Council actually serves to strengthen the group dynamic, which comes to a head with the applause by Willow, Xander, Anya and Tara after Buffy gets the Council to accept her terms. But the scene I prefer is the one in Buffy’s home with Glory. The way she describes it to the Watchers Council is fairly accurate. In Glory’s twisted view, it does seem like a normal conversation. And the key is right in front of her face, but she doesn’t see it.
As for Glory turning out to be a God, this is one of the cool things about “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” -- the writing and acting is so good that even when you know something like that is coming, it still is spine-tingling when it happens. Major credit for that, in this particular case, goes to Harris Yulin, in his second of three appearances on “Buffy” as Quentin Travers.
“Checkpoint” Favorite Quote: “If I wanted to fight, you could tell by the being dead already.” Glory
Episode Thirteen - Blood Ties
5:59 p.m. - I’m back and on to “Blood Ties” (original airdate: Feb. 6, 2001)
6:00 p.m. - One quick point: I like that Tara is the one who’s most freaked out by the brain sucking thing, since she’s the one who gets brain sucked.
6:03 p.m. - I know this isn’t the kind of thing a guy should be saying, but I really like Glory’s outfit here. In fact, throughout the series, she wears the best clothes. She’s hot.
6:06 p.m. - Sorry, I gotta side with Dawn here. Glory IS prettier than Buffy. It’s close, but I’d actually take Clare Kramer -- with her Glory hairstyle and wardrobe -- over Sarah Michelle Gellar, who at this point in the series is in her too-skinny phase.
6:18 p.m. - Again, for all the crap Michelle Trachtenberg got about her whininess, she never really got enough credit when she executed a scene well, and the scene when she cut herself to prove that she bleeds, and therefore can’t be a key, is one of those scenes. Too bad any goodwill from that scene gets lost with the “get out” scream in the next scene.
6:32 p.m. - I still love seeing the Glory/Ben transformation for the first time. It’s also cool that we find out they don’t share a set of memories at all. There’s a lot of explanation that happens without direct explanation in this small Dawn/Glory scene. And once again, Glory slips into a great dress -- red is a good color for her, especially with that lipstick. Look, I know that sounds weird, but I can’t get over how hot Clare Kramer looks this season. When you look back, they did the evil-looking villain in Season 1, a normal-looking villain in Season 3, and now they’ve got this super hot chick villain. Good times.
6:39 p.m. - I have to be honest. I can’t watch Buffy’s last speech to Dawn (the one about the blood), without thinking about the final scene of the season. There are a few more moments like that coming up in the next few episodes -- the ones that get used in the flashback montage -- and I’m probably going to start tearing up a little more often.
Episode Fourteen - Crush
6:41 p.m. - Episode 14, “Crush” (original airdate: Feb. 13, 2001), is a personal favorite of mine because it marks the return of Drusilla to Sunnydale. She had just got her ass kicked by Angel on “Angel” and ran out of town, so seeing her appear here is awesome. I’m going sit back and enjoy the Dru/Harmony/Buffy action and see you in 40.
7:23 p.m. - So the question this episode raises is can a demon without a soul actually love? I think Spike is actually unique. I’ve never seen a relationship between vampires/demons like he had with Drusilla, and even from Drusilla’s side, it wasn’t quite the same (she cheated on him multiple times with multiple species and genders dating back 100 years). Angel and Darla both bailed on each other whenever it was convenient. So, Spike is very unique. And, yes, I do believe that he’s in love with Buffy. Obviously, because they’re fictional characters, anything is possible within the realm of the writers’ imaginations. But sometimes writers do things you don’t believe at all (this frequently happened on “Charmed”, where the writers just seemed to make decisions randomly). This isn’t the case with Spike.
Also, it’s worth noting that Buffy is completely appalled by the idea of Spike being in love with her. Things change drastically in Season Six on this front, but it takes Buffy’s death, trip to heaven, and resurrection, followed by a period of complete self-loathing to make any movement on that.
“Crush” Favorite Quote: “Spike, the only time you had a chance with me was when I was unconscious.” - Buffy
Episode Fifteen - I Was Made to Love You
7:24 p.m. - “I Was Made to Love You” (original airdate: Feb. 20, 2001) will always be, in my mind, the episode that was supposed to guest-star Britney Spears.
7:26 p.m. - And here, two minutes into the episode, we see Shonda Farr, who plays the robot April, the role Britney Spears was going to play. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that Britney wasn’t in this episode. Not because she went crazy (which she did), but because this episode has more importance than April. It’s Warren’s introduction to the Buffyverse. I can’t say for certain by this point that the creators knew Warren was going to be a major villain in Season 6, but they probably had some kind of inkling of that. In that case, a Britney cameo would have overshadowed Warren, as well as something much bigger that happened at the end of the episode.
7:41 p.m. - When Joyce returns from her date, she has some fun grossing out Buffy with sexual details. I laughed out loud multiple times. Then I got quiet, realizing its the last funny Joyce moment in the series.
7:54 p.m. - Another reason why it’s good Britney Spears wasn’t in this episode: for scenes like the ones where April is holding Katrina in the air, things are already ridiculous. They’d be more so if there were someone recognizable in the role.
7:58 p.m. - Given that April is a robot, it’s weird to hear her having a deep conversation with Buffy. I almost feel sad for her (even thought she’s a robot and doesn’t have reel feelings).
8:03 p.m. - This episode is sad enough, but then when we get the final scene, it’s just too much. We’ll get into that in the next episode.
“I Was Made To Love You” Favorite Quote: “She's a sexbot. I mean, what guy doesn't dream about that? Beautiful girl with ... no other thought but to please you ... willing to do anything... Too many girls. I miss Oz. He'd get it. He wouldn't say anything, but... he'd get it.” - Xander.
Episode Sixteen - The Body
8:04 p.m. - “The Body” (original airdate: Feb. 27, 2001) is probably the saddest episode of the entire run. And of course, thanks to my edits of the closing credits, I’ve just been forced to watch the Joyce death scene twice in a row with no break. I can’t blog during this episode. I can barely keep myself composed during it. So I’ll be back in 40.
8:46 p.m. - I can’t talk about the details of this episode, because, honestly, they make me cry, so instead I want to talk about a thematic shift in “Buffy”. On a “Buffy” podcast I used to listen to, the host suggested that this episode didn’t fit in the Buffyverse, because it made the viewer become emotionally invested in death for the first time.
Think about this: every vampire you’ve ever seen on this show is technically a murder victim, too.However, we don’t think of them that way, even when we see them rising at their on wake, like Theresa in Season Two’s “Phases”. To us, they’re just demons. We don’t like of the victim part of their human life, even with vampires like Spike and Angel, who are such a critical part of the show.
However, in this episode, we have to take death seriously. This isn’t demonic or supernatural, it’s just a permanent death. It’s sad, and it has consequences for all the characters beyond this individual episode. The podcast host suggested this was a negative shift in the tone of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.
I disagree. Not because this episode isn’t negative or sad or influential. It’s all of those things. It’s just, this isn’t the first time a death has been like this. Sure, Joyce’s death is more personal to Buffy, but I’d argue that Jenny Calendar’s death had a negative impact on multiple episodes and resulted in a shift in tone for the characters and how the view was supposed to accept death. The only difference is Jenny didn’t get her own sad memorial episode like Joyce did.
So upon review, this episode does fit in with the Buffyverse. In fact, with everything that’s going on with Season 5, it’s a perfect fit. I just wish it had never happened.
That said, this is listed among the favorite episodes for Joss Whedon, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan. I would KILL to watch this episode with any of them. I’d love to see how the people involved in making it react to seeing it again.
Episode Seventeen - Forever
8:47 p.m. - More aftermath from Joyce’s death in “Forever” (original airdate: April 17, 2001). Again, I’m going to leave my thoughts for the end, save for one moment in the middle when I’ll jump in. See you mostly in 40.
8:56 p.m. - Yay! It’s Angel! I’m so glad he showed up. He makes Joyce’s death just marginally easier to take (a very small margin, but a margin nonetheless).
9:29 p.m. - It’s interesting how different people respond to being faced with death, but that’s not what I took away from this episode. The thing that struck me is when Dawn is visiting Doc, he warns her about the resurrection spell by saying things can come back wrong. We never see how this plays out with Joyce, but, in my opinion, that’s not who the warning was about. It was about Buffy. After Buffy’s death at the end of this season, the Scoobies bring her back in the beginning of Season Six, only it turns out that she comes back “wrong”. Dawn, Tara and Buffy all knew this was a possibility. Only, come Season Six, Dawn doesn’t know about the plan to bring back Buffy, Buffy is dead, and Tara, being the meekest of the group, can’t overpower the opinions of Willow, Xander and Anya.
Oh, and I think Sarah Michelle Gellar did a phenomenal job when talking about dealing with Joyce’s death in the final scene. It’s too bad she doesn’t get a lot of good roles these days, because it’s episodes like this that prove she really can act, when given good material to work with. And yes, I’ve got tears in my eyes again. God, this season is sad.
Episode Eighteen - Intervention
9:30 p.m. - “Intervention” original airdate: April 24, 2001) features the debut of The Buffybot and the spirit walk that leads to Buffy finding out about her “gift”. Again, I’m gonna let this one play out and enjoy some of the Buffybot comedy to lighten the mood.
10:11 p.m. - The spirit walk turned out to be the most important part of this episode, with the first slayer giving Buffy the message that “death is [her] gift.” She tells Buffy that she is full of love, love will lead her to her gift and death is her gift. All of that turns out to be true.
Beyond that, the next most important thing is actually the final scene where Buffy is pretending to be the Buffybot. We find out, through his protection of Dawn how deep his love for Buffy actually goes.
As for the Buffybot, Buffy has a legitimate beef that her friends didn’t recognize that it was a robot. They picked up on that with April pretty quickly, but they somehow didn’t recognize the robot behavior in Buffy, who they should know so much better.
Episode Nineteen - Tough Love
10:12 p.m. - “Tough Love” (original airdate: May 1, 2001) is really the first part of a four-part episode that wraps up the Season 5 arc. I love how all the episodes flow together from here on out.
10:17 p.m. - When Dawn’s principal says “I think we all know Dawn is more than just a kid”, Buffy and Dawn share this look of fear. It’s becoming more and more obvious to everyone in the gang that they really don’t have any answers for Glory and they know time is running short.
10:21 p.m. - And here’s the beginning of Buffy’s over-reliance on Giles to solve her problems with Dawn, which leads to Giles eventual departure in Season Six (at least in the fictional world... in the real world, Anthony Head left the show to spend more time at home in England).
10:24 p.m. - Glory’s description of The Key is actually fairly accurate to what the monks did in its creation, but they just have the wrong person in Buffy’s life.
10:33 p.m. - When they capture one of Glory’s minions at the Magic Box, Giles distracts Willow and Anya, does something to the minion off screen and makes him suddenly decide to talk. Given Giles’s Ripper past, I’d love to know exactly what he did in two seconds to get that demon to be so scared.
10:39 p.m.- With all the other emotional stuff that’s happened this season, the brain-sucking of Tara doesn’t quite have the same impact. I think part of it is the moment relies a lot on Willow’s reaction and it’s just not he same once you’ve seen her reaction to Tara’s death in Season Six. Everything in their relationship gets measured against that, and this moment, while very sad, just doesn’t quite come close.
10:46 p.m. - I love our first glimpse of badass witch Willow. Of course, this, while cool, definitely sets a bad precedent for Willow. She becomes the queen of overreaction next season. Right here, she’s only the princess or maybe dutchess of overreaction.
10:48 p.m. - When Glory’s dress gets ripped by Willow’s mirror-shattering spell, and she just tears it off and has another sexy one on underneath, yeah, that’s hot. Even when she’s right about to stab Willow, too, she’s still sexy. And yes, I know, I have a problem.
10:53 p.m. - Even though I know it’s coming, when Tara accidentally gives away Dawn’s secret at the end of the episode, it’s still an “oh God” moment. Oh, and I know I’ve bailed on the whole “favorite quote” thing, but these episodes at the end of this season are about so much more than single quotes.
Episode Twenty - Spiral
10:54 p.m. - And thanks to my editing, “Spiral” (original airdate: May 8, 2001) picks up exactly where “Tough Love” left off -- no annoying credits to go through.
11:01 p.m. - I’d love to know where Spike stole that RV from. Also, the whole Ben scene that preceded that was kind of slow and boring, but it at least set the stage for Ben to give up Dawn when it came down to it.
11:07 p.m. - You can feel the tenseness growing with every minute in this episode and the longer it goes on without Buffy having an answer, the more frustrated she gets, and she doesn’t know how to deal with it. This is the first time in her slayer life she hasn’t had the answer. I do love though when Dawn says “at least things can’t get any crazier” and then an arrow comes through the RV, Buffy does at least know enough to quip, “you know this is your fault for saying that.” Sure, she might not have the solutions, but that doesn’t mean her punning has to suffer.
11:13 p.m. - OK, I accept a lot on this show in the name of creative license, but the idea that Spike really could have made it that far from the RV to the abandoned gas station with just a blanket and his goggles is kind of ludicrous, especially when we’ve seen so many vamps in the past get dusted at the quickest exposure to sunlight.
11:20 p.m. - When Giles is all wounded and telling Buffy how proud he is of her for placing her heart above everything else, I wonder how Wesley would have reacted in this same siutation. My guess, given what he eventually did with Connor, is that he would have offered up Dawn for sacrifice to the Knights to save the world. Obviously, Buffy would have hated that, but that’s the difference between the two main Watchers we’ve seen.
11:25 p.m. - There are little things that foreshadow what’s going to happen at the end of the season, including when Buffy says to Spike and Xander “I’m not going to lose anyone.” Well, technically, she doesn’t. They lose her. Only about two hours to go.
11:34 p.m. - In a glimpse of Glory’s true power, Buffy goes back inside after Glory grabs Dawn for no more than 10 seconds, and the entire army of Knights has been killed. Yeah, things looked pretty bad at this point.
Episode Twenty-One - The Weight of the World
11:35 p.m. - “The Weight of the World” (original airdate: May 15, 2001) seems like a strange episode to lead up to the finale, so I’m gonna let it wash over me and get back to you.
12:16 a.m. - The bulk of this episode, and where it gets its title from, features Buffy in a catatonic state, going through memories -- both real and fake, with Willow observing and trying to get Buffy back to normal. It’s all pretty cool and shows the tough emotional state that Buffy is in.
However, as it turns out, my favorite part of this episode isn’t the Buffy/Willow dream interaction. It’s the Glory/Ben stuff. Not only is this the episode where everyone figures out that Glory and Ben are the same person, but the magical barrier between them is also breaking down. It leads to some really great scenes between Clare Kramer and Charlie Weber, with occasional interjection from Michelle Trachtenberg. Weber actually does his best work on the series in this episode, leading to Ben’s eventual choice to sacrifice Dawn to save his own existence.
Imagine being faced with that choice. If Glory fails, then Ben likely dies. However, if she succeeds, he either disappears from existence entirely, or -- the scenario Glory presents to him -- Glory can make him immortal. Obviously the second choice is slightly better, but it involves the sacrifice of Dawn, an innocent child. It’s a near-impossible choice to make. I know I couldn’t.
Episode Twenty-Two - The Gift
12:17 a.m. - After watching the 100th episode “Previously On Buffy” montage (which I ripped off the Season 7 DVD), it’s time for “The Gift” (original airdate: May 22, 2001), the season finale and the last episode to air on The WB. I’ve seen this episode dozens of times and written about it before, so I’m just going to enjoy this. I’ll be back once it’s over to post my final thoughts.
1:00 a.m. - OK, I can’t rationally discuss this episode. It’s too sad. And since my eyes are watering too much for me to type well, I’m just going to leave you with my favorite quote of the series, from my favorite episode of the series, which is obviously this one.
“Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles ... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world ... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.”