Buffy Season 5 Reviews

Buffy 5.1 - "Buffy v Dracula": Buffy v Dracula. Says it all really. Not a bad opening episode at all. The writers have come with a logical reason for Giles to hang around since he was largely redundant last season. Ditto for Xander, who finally seems to be grasping his future with both hands. Dracula himself wasn't great. Not bad, but not great. He simply wasn't my ideal casting. Buffy facing up to her dark side was good though, but I wonder if this whole Dracula thing was almost an out of continuity episode. It'll be refered to a couple of times, like "Teachers Pet" but no one will take it seriously. Very funny stuff from Xander when he is under the Masters spell. Probably the biggest twist is the introduction of Buffys sister. Time will tell how this plays out. - 3/5

Buffy 5.2 - "Real Me": Harmony gets a gang and tries to kill the Slayer. Good stuff this episode. Seeing things from Dawns point of view was very funny and interesting. I'm not a huge fan of Harmony to be honest though. She just doesn't engage me. Great idea with Giles getting the magic shop. I think the writers realised that without the library, there was no 'clubhouse' any more for them to neet in. This will do nicely, as well as giving Giles more to do. Riley seems to be the odd man out recently. He's just commenting on stuff, but not having a major impact. It's a big cast, but Anya and Tara seem to stick in the mind more. Riley needs to be given some plot direction or he could suffer. I liked this episode. - 4/5

Buffy 5.3 - "The Replacement": Xander is hit by a weapon and finds himself split in two. I liked this episode, but it wasn't a standout. Certainly not as good as "The Zeppo". Nick Brendon (And his twin brother Kelly in some scenes) is really good. The subtle mannerisms of sauve Xander are in complete contrast to the bumbling one. It's good that Xander has finally matured and when he finds out that the double isn't a demon, but is in fact his stronger qualities made flesh, he knows he is nobodys butt-monkey anymore. The rest of the cast don't really have much to do. Apart from one. Rileys admission to Xander that Buffy doesn't love him, or at least doesn't love him as much as he loves her, was shocking. Great acting from Nick again as he just stands quietly, staring at Riley in something like amazement. There's just a great feeling of thoughts running through his head. It's similar to "Restless", when he is standing with Buffy in the sandbox. A feeling of unspoken feelings going on. How will Riley cope? With no Army life to fall back on and the fact that he doesn't really know any of the gang that well might well mean trouble ahead. Overall then, not a bad Xander episode, but the seeds of plotlines in the future being sown are more interesting. - 3/5

Buffy 5.4 - "Out of my Mind": Spike realllly wants the chip out of his head. Plus Riley is having heart problems, emotionally and physically. Spike was the real star of the show. His attempts to get rid of the chip and his growing obsession with Buffy were fascinating. But the clincher was the end, when he dreamt of kissing Buffy. His emotions are so strong for her that if he can't give his hate full fruition by killing her, he's going to love her instead. A total curve ball that I didn't see coming. He also seems to have shacked up with Harmony again for a while. She truly is a poor mans Dru. Once again though I wonder about the chip. Maybe there really was only a penny in his brain. Some sort of warped humour by Professor Walsh possibly. That's assuming there even was anything in there. Harmony probably doesn't know shiny bone or internal flesh from metal. I loved his comments on Dawsons Creek.

The Riley/Buffy plot though left me cold. I just can't dig Riley. He is the ultimate Boy Scout and it just makes for a really boring boyfriend. Spike really would make a better match (or Forrest - gone but not forgotten) for Buffy. "Something Blue" showed us that it could work, in a bizarre fashion. It would be interesting if nothing else. Now Rileys been de-powered I wonder how he will cope. Usually with 'Super Heroes' that have lost their power, there is a period of change, where the character makes mistakes and breaks bones by jumping from too high a building, etc. Will Riley be affected by this? Maybe he should speak to Graham, just to try and get some advice. It's a shame he hasn't really bonded with Giles. They don't seem to have much screen time together and I think Giles simply assumes (correctly) that they have nothing in common. Perhaps Willow would be of more help.

Joyce fainting was the other plot, building on the headaches in previous episodes. It remains to be seen what this will bring or whether it was caused by Dawn, who still seems slightly mysterious. Xander talking about himself circa Season 2-3 was excellent insight from himself. Settling with Anya seems to have given him more self-confidence and an inner assurance that Riley would kill for. Plus he's the only one Riley has confided in about his fear that Buffy doesn't love him 100%. Perhaps Xander suspects the same and that's why he hasn't said anything.
Willow and Tara didn't seem to have much to do, but Tara realising that Willow has become a much more powerful witch than her was interesting. She didn't seem fully comfortable with the idea, maybe feeling like Riley that Willow will eventually not need her.

The insights into Spike make this a good episode, but my lack of real interest with the Buffy/Riley relationship means that as a whole, it won't ever be one of my favourites. - 3/5

Buffy 5.5 - "No Place Like Home": Buffy (and us the viewers) find out what Dawn is and how it will change her life. So we finally find out what Dawn is. I quite like the idea actually. It makes sense that the monks would send her to Buffy and turn her into her sister. But the reality changing aspect of it is the really cool part. How does Buffy know that the Monks only alteration to her life was Dawn? Did Angel exist or was he just a creation. If all memories of growing up with Dawn are false how cab she trust anything? And what of the Scoobies? They've been altered as well. So many potential ideas. I hope they are all explored. The scene where Buffy meditates was very cool. The washed out look to the film really gave the impression of some sort of magic going on. And the photos flickering back and forth from on reality to another. Spooky, but excellent. The best part was Dawns room, which was clearly a utility closet. I wonder if Buffy had wandered to the magic shop if she would have seen the original reality versions of the scoobies? Could she have talked with them, asked them about Dawn? Great stuff.

Spike didn't do much this episode, but he's clearly becoming obsessed with Buffy. The cigarette butts tell their own tale. Joyce and the headaches are becoming a running plot. Something bad is brewing for the elder Summers woman.

I really liked the ending, when you think Dawn is evil, but she turns out to be an innocent really. The final shot of Buffy brushing her hair was very touching. - 3/5

Buffy 5.6 - "Family": Tara's family come to pay a visit. A Buffy episode that is pure Joss, i.e it is written/directed by him, is always something to look forward to. They are usually the best episodes in the entire season. So I was really looking forward to this one. But I must confess to being disappointed. It wasn't bad by any means, but not as good as the previous efforts by the big man.

Tara is now officially one of the Scooby's and the end scene where the gang stick up for her against her father was excellent. I liked the whole birthday party sequence, especially the bit where Dawn says drink is for losers and the faces of the gang. Great way of subtlety saying don't underage drink. The finally shot with Willow & Tara floating was good and the music as well was cool. Tara's family were a bit poor though. A bunch of hill billys really and some more about Tara's mother would have been nice. But they did their job. It was also good to get some closure on the storyline from last year about Tara wrecking the demon spell. The fact she was human and she didn't know it seems odd to me. Surely there must be a spell out there to find out.

Spike was cool though, with his one punch solving the dilemma. Very funny when he shouted to the dad that he didn't care if Tara went or not. He also clearly is getting the hots big time for Buffy and even helps save her, even if she doesn't know it. More mature thinking from Xander and giving good advice to Buffy. Riley is going down the wrong path surely by hanging out at sleazy bars. Tears before bedtime in this case, but I think Buffy should have told him about Dawn. I feel she would have told Angel.

Not bad then, but after the likes of "Hush", a disappointment. - 3/5

Buffy 5.7 - "Fool For Love": Spike gets his long awaited 'origin' episode. Wow. This was very cool. Seeing Spike pre-vamp was just…strange, very much from the Wesley mould. I don't think the two characters have ever met and it would be interesting to see his reaction, though that was mainly Season 3 Wesley. On Angel he's matured a lot.

The story behind this episode, Buffy nearly loses to a frankly lame vampire and wants to find out how Spike killed 2 slayers, is excellent. The flashback scenes were very well done and I liked the semi crossover with Angel (though Angels wigs seen to get worse). The best part was when he was fighting the 2nd Slayer in New York in '77 (yeah, if you're a pedant you can see his reflection in the windows but it doesn't detract). Great stuff. And the way he was going to kill her (very dubious with the Chip in his head. How the hell does that thing work exactly. Can he be evil if he withstands the pain? Would his explode if he killed someone?) at the end then comforts her was very nice.

The rest of the crowd were largely absent, though Riley continues to slide slowly of the path called sanity by taking on a nest of vamps himself. But this was Spikes episode and it was brilliant. - 5/5

Buffy 5.8 - "Shadow":Buffys Mom has an unwelcome discovery at the hospital, Riley starts to lose it and Glory gets closer to finding the key. David Fury's one of my favourite writers on Buffy and he doesn't disappoint. Joyce finding out she has a shadow on her brain was a shocker, but not as much as Riley going of the deep end and tempting death or the possibility of being vamped. Spike was funny as well in stalker mode, and stealing her clothes (a pair of pants?) is bizarre enough to be outrageously funny.

Tara is continues to cement her role as one of the Scooby's and gets to give out good advice. Xander also has his mature head on these days, wanting to help Riley but not sure how. It's hard to associate this character with the previous season. I still don't know if I like Glory in the body of the man eater woman (probably literally) but she may grow on me. I didn't like the Snake monster though. When it was CGI it looked fine, but up close it looked kind of lame and a bit rubbery (I know snakes look rubbery anyway but not in a bad way). Good storylines being developed for the future then and it will be interesting when the payoff comes. - 4/5

Buffy 5.9 - "Listening To Fear": As Buffys Mom prepares to go into surgery, a strange beastie comes from outer space. The best stuff in this episode was when the 3 Summers girls where on screen together. Really moving stuff, especially at the end when Joyce asks Buffy about Dawn. The scenes where Joyce is losing it are quite spooky as well. You feel she could attack them with a knife and then be none the wiser. The Demon from space story was a bit out of place amongst all this drama. But it was the scariest monster I've ever seen on TV. Very creepy looking, like a cross between a slug and something from a freakshow. Its method of killing its prey was gross as well. I don't know if it was strictly evil though. All it targeted was the hopelessly insane. Of course, they might well recover and killing them off is just a tad premature. But it presumably wouldn't have targeted children or innocents. Just the clinically insane. It's still not nice and not welcome, but it's not exactly malevolent. It just exists to kill the insane, with no measure of good or evil. At the end of the day though, it still looks spooky looking, so I'd kill it to be on the safeside. Either that or adopt it as a pet. Just think, if you could breed them you could get them in the shops for Christmas. They could be the new Pokemon.

Good to see Tara being strong in her self and giving out advice and opinions. And Xander comes through in research mode! Way to go Xan man. Riley continues to fall away from the group and it's no coincidence that he felt more assured, more confident he was in the right place surrounded by the Initiative. I can feel a recruitment drive coming on. I'm still not sure why he's 'cheating' on Buffy by getting his blood sucked. I suppose it's good he's got a hobby if nothing else. And Stalker Spike continues to rifle through Buffys possessions. He's still funny, but in a spooky way now. I don't know why Buffy snubbed Riley at the end though. Seemed a bit harsh. Quite a good episode, but I could have lived with out the demon part. - 3/5

Buffy 5.10 - "Into the Woods": Buffys Mom come out of surgery, but Riley is going deeper into the darkness. This is a strong showing. Buffy wants to rejoice when her Moms okay and in a rather cheeky scene, her and Riley get jiggy. But Riley still doesn't feel needed and checks in with Vampire 'hookers'. Spike finds out and tells Buffy. She is not amused.

Nice scene where Riley & Spike are sitting drinking, both in love, both knowing that they aren't the one. Riley was out of order with his vamp sucking antics, but you can see why he would start to turn inwards with his mental problem. He really needed someone to confide in and no one was there. Xander dishes out sensible advice again and also takes it himself when he tells Anya he loves her. It's all too late though and Riley departs for pastures new on a helicopter, out of Buffys life forever. Emotional stuff. - 4/5

Buffy 5.11 - "Triangle": Willow & Anya have to work together when a Troll is accidentally conjured up. Bit of a filler episode this, despite some crucial story arc developments. The major one being Dawn overhearing Buffy, Giles & Joyce talking about her. Now this is really one of my pet hates. A character overhearing a sensitive piece of information that could easily be avoided if more care was taken. It's the only flaw I've ever seen in the incredibly strong story telling of Buffy. But this does my f--king box in! Please do not have characters be so stupid as to discuss secrets in incredibly inappropriate situations. I really dislike it as a plot device. Moving on, Spike also is starting to get scarily obsessed with Buffy. Really nice scene when she's practising his lines on a mannequin and ends up pummelling it with the chocolates! The troll story was plain daft, but it helped Willow & Anya come to terms with each other so that’s good.

Buffy is still trying to overcome Riley leaving, but it's played pretty much for laughs. I dunno, it just seems that no one is that bothered that Rileys left. She'll feel bad, but I just sense that it's not a life changing blow. Nice gag with the nun by the way. An amusing episode, but pretty light stuff really - 3/5

Buffy 5.12 - "Checkpoint":The Council comes to Sunnydale. Quite an enjoyable episode this, with some tense moments and some scenes played just for laughs. Buffy has a déjà vu moment when her lecturer makes a fool of her in class. All these professors seem to be absolute wankers. Then she has to deal with Quentin and his band of clowns. But she come through in the end and turns the table on them expertly. Plus the final moment when we find out Glory is a God…bit more threatening than a cyborg, that's for sure.

The interviews with the gang were funny, especially Spikes when the council member mentions she did her thesis on him. Giles was also very good, showing the paternal affection he feels for her without thinking twice about it. I'm still not sure about if I like Glory though. I need to see her do something powerful and destructive to really fear her. But this was a strong episode. - 4/5

Buffy 5.13 - "Blood Ties":Once again, it's Buffy birthday. Do you think she'll have a happy one? Not on your nelly. This was really Dawns episode as she finally finds out that she didn't exist until earlier in the year. And she does what anyone would do in that situation. She freaks! She runs off and nearly gets killed by Glory (who it turns out is Ben, but not in a cross dresser way I hasten to add), but Buffy manages to rescue her with the aid of her pals. Blood is a very strong theme throughout this episode. In a brutally disturbing way when Dawn cuts herself, but also in a redeeming way as Buffy shows her blood is the exact same as Dawns, but that's not even the point, even if Dawns blood was glow in the dark green, they are still family. I've gotta say though, that my pet hate, when a character overhears 2 other people talking and gets the wrong idea, was used again this episode. I swear, I really hate it as a plot device. Please don't use it!

The rest of the gang were background players largely, though Willow & Spike were crucial. Spike for helping Dawn find out about her true self and Willow for conjuring up the rather powerful spell that transported Glory outta there. I'm glad Willow said that it would be a while before she used it again as it could easily be a can of worms opened, since she could theoretically transport every villain away every week. Good episode featuring strongly on the Summer's sisters. - 4/5

Buffy 5.14 - "Crush":Buffy finally finds out that Spike loves her, plus Dru is back in town. Well She finally knows that Spike is no longer planning to kill her. He's doing something even worse. He wants to date her. It's a bold move to reveal his secret so early in the season (with 8 episodes still to fill). I thought the writers were going to drag it out until near the very end, so kudos to them for that. Having Dru back in town actually didn't work for me, though I appreciated the nod to goings on in Angel. I just felt that the story was good enough and big enough to carry the episode by it's self. It didn’t need another element thrown in the mix. Still, it was fun seeing Spike & Dru back together, even if it was only fleeting. And really, can Spike ever trust Dru again after abandoning him twice? The end set-up was excellent, with Buffy & Dru tied up and Spike wanting Buff to profess even a little love for him. Harmony was largely forgotten about by the characters, but she was crucial to Buffy & Dru escaping.

Glory wasn't featured in the episode, which was a nice break. Dawn was very cute hanging around with Spike and clearly having a crush on him. Xander's reaction to this was also nicely played. Not much action from the supporting cast really as this was Buffy & Spikes episode. Shame Dru had to be forced in as well. - 3/5

Buffy 5.15 - "I was made to love you":And can I just say, AAARRGGH! I've just written the review and now i've accidently deleted it. Shite! Awright this is gonna be very brief, as I don't have time to come back off the 'net and re-type this. There's a sexbot in town, looking for her creator. Daft but fun. Nice piece of empathy from Buffy with Alice regarding boyfriends and her death was actually kinda touching

Spike & Giles have a great scene together with some softly dangerous acting from ASH. Plus Xander continues to dish out good advice which is nice to see. And of course, the shocker at the end of Joyce being dead. I never really liked Joyce, but once she found out about the slayer, she was well cool. She started being a lot more interesting to my mind. And now she's gone. A good episode, but setting up more storylines than actually telling one. Still very enjoyable though, - 4/5

Buffy 5.16 - "The Body":One of the strongest episodes of the Season, this is Joss at his best. Joyce is dead, her operation only grating her a reprieve. The rest of the cast must come to terms with it and how it will affect them. As you might imagine this is an acting tour de force. Sarah is particularly good, going from outright denial to gradual acceptance, but never in an over the top way. Dawn is also played beautifully, hitting all the right notes. All the cast have some scene or line that sticks in the head.

What is also haunting is the lack of music. None at all. It makes for a much more stark episode. The ending is also extremely well done, with Dawn reaching out to touch her mother, only for the credits to cut suddenly in before we can see it. Great stuff all round. - 5/5

Buffy 5.17 - "Forever":The fall out continues as Angel visits Sunnydale and Dawn won't accept her Mom is dead. Not as strong as the previous episode but what could be really? The cameo by Angel was very nice and was all the more startling due to the fact it is his only appearance on the show this season. Dawn & Spike teaming up was cool and I was actually surprised that the spell to resurrect Joyce worked. It's quite creepy when you see the shadow walking past the window, like a short horror story (the Monkeys Paw I think). And the final scene with Buffy finally breaking down with dawn was once again beautifully acted. Good stuff - 4/5

Buffy 5.18 - "Intervention":Spike finally gets Buffy?! A bit of light relief after the previous dark episodes. The Buffybot is excellent and I loved the OS commands. Her comments about Angel were also funny. Buffy's quest into the desert about her past wasn't quite as interesting as I thought it was going to be. Maybe one of those ideas that sounds better on paper. But the best scene was at the end when Buffy pretends to be the 'bot and finds out that Spike is actually turning into a good guy. Again a good turn from Sarah playing Buffy, pretending to be a buffybot. I liked it. - 4/5

Buffy 5.19 - "Tough Love":Glory comes after Tara and Buffy. I don't like this storyline of Tara being lobotomised. You know it's not gonna last so what's the point? Seems to me like a cheap way of cutting down on a large cast in a confined environment. I also didn't like the fight between Willow & herself. It felt too manufactured, more plot driven than anything else. Still, the final scene with Glory ripping the wall of is very cool. But still, not my favourite ever episode - 3/5

Buffy 5.20 - "Spiral":You want action? We got action. Buffy & Co go on the run from Glory, the knights and anyone else who wants the key. This is really good the first time you watch it. The chase scene aboard the camper with the knights on horses was very ambitious and well done. The Alamo feel at the abandoned building was also suitably tense. But I didn't like the contrived way of getting Ben in. And the more you think about it the more it seems the episode is just one big chase scene. Which is cool, but can feel a bit empty on reviewing. I did like Spike still playing the nice guy when Tara accidentally burns him. Not bad. - 3/5

Buffy 5.21 - "The Weight of the World":Smells like filler. Wait, it is filler. Glory and Ben prepare Dawn while Buffy has left the building. To be fair, I've never seen an out and out filler Buffy episode before. But this is clearly biding it's time before the big finale. Willow going into Buffys mind is interesting, but the Dawn/Ben stuff is a bit tedious. It's like, come on already, lets get this show going! But considering what a strong season this has been and that the next episode is the 100th, I guess I can forgive it. - 2/5

Buffy - 5.22 - "The Gift"

--- 9 - June - 2001 ---

Summary: As Glory prepares to sacrifice Dawn and Ben decides it's better to live and be a coward, Buffy and the Scoobies plan their attack. Buffy manages to beat Glory, but doesn't kill her as she changes back into Ben. Giles has no such problems with killing a human being and murders him so Glory can never come back. The victory seems to be Pyrrhic as it looks as if Dawn will have to sacrifice herself to close the portal that opened. Buffy however finally understands the words from her vision, "Death is your gift", and gives her life to close the portal and save Dawn.

Best Scenes: When Buffy realises that she can save dawn by sacrificing herself was very emotional stuff. Giles killing Ben in cold blood was pretty shocking. I've seen more emotions on a Terminator. I loved when Buffy just shoved Doc off the walkway with out even stopping. Xander proposing to Anya was touching. Great stuff between Spike and Buffy when he says she treats him like a man.

Worst Scenes: I thought Spike had a pretty poor performance against Doc. Maybe he was just tired from fighting Glorys goons. Bens character got pretty turned arounded in the last few episodes. I though this guy was a doctor trying to preserve life? It would have been a lot more interesting if Giles had killed him and Ben hadn't betrayed Dawn. I guess Tara coming back was inevitable, but it killed any real suspense for the episodes she was a vegetable. We all knew it wouldn't last. The troll hammer looked a bit fake to me.

Best Character: There are a few nominations in this episode. Spike's always great, but Giles was a curve ball as well. But, of course, it has to be Buffy. She fought a God and won, saved her sister and has a moving death scene. Great stuff.

Most Underused Character: Actually every character had something important to do this episode, so it's not as easy as usual this week. But it's gotta be Tara, rather unfairly. She was suffering from a lobotomy for most of the episode.

Funniest Scene: Not exactly a laugh riot this week but there were a few scenes. Buffy throwing Doc of the tower was good, but Xander finding the Buffy Bot and thinking Buffy had been watching him and Anya getting jiggy was hilarious.

Laugh Line Of The Week: "Smart chicks are so hot" - The Xan man finally working out that sometimes brains are better than beauty

Quality Of The Villain: Well it's Glory innit. She's a God so you can't get much tougher that that. She wasn't in a monster outfit so I can't really comment on how good or cheesy the make up would have been. She wore nice dresses though.

Things That Make You Ponder: Well the 100th episode certainly lived up to it's hype. I do wonder how Buffy is gonna come back from the dead. I wonder if that Buffy Bot will have anything to with it? And who is she going to fight? She's beaten a God for, eh, Gods sake. How do you top that? Joss will come good i'm sure. Theres got to be repercussions for Giles after killing Ben, who he didn't know had betrayed Dawn. Some sleepless nights ahead for our fave magic shop keeper. I think Spike will end up becoming a big brother figure to Dawnie.

Final Verdict: What a cracking Season Finale. Buffy dying to save Dawn, Xander proposing to Anya, Willow getting Tara back and Giles murdering someone in cold blood. Add in great special effects, the brilliant writing by Joss and you have an episode you can watch again and again. 5/5


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    Copyright © 2001 - 2002 David McNulty