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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 5, Episodes 15-16

July 5, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5-16 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Ding Dong: A BTVS Restrospective, S5 E15-16


Episode 15

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

We open up with a furious Buffy hard at training while simultaneously bitching about Spike, who she just keeps leaving alive anyway, so maybe go yell at a mirror, dumbass. We eventually see that she isn’t pounding away at a heavybag, but instead at Xander in a big puffy suit, like what people wear in those sumo wrestling games at fairs. We get some classic Joss Whedon dialogue when Buffy says she could date a normal guy and laugh at his jokes: “Guys like that. The joke laughing at”. I sigh because Joss the writing on this show is a one-half trick pony.

We cut to a pretty young woman getting out of a car and saying she is going to find her true love in SunnyDale. Then: opening theme! Rock out to some Nerf Herder!

At the Buffy abode, Mom is trying on dresses for Buffy and Dawn, with the latter two teasing her gently and making her do repeated spins in the dresses. Mom has a date with a guy named Bryan. Buffy, ever stuck thinking about herself, laments the loss of all her boyfriends.

A rare pairing of Anya and Tara sees Anya bragging about using the stock market to triple her earnings from the magic shop. They run into the girl from the second scene, who asks them if they know where Warren is. They have no idea what she’s on about, so they brush her off and continue talking stocks like the sophisticated businesswomen they are. I hope–I HOPE–the stock market becomes an ongoing plot point here, but I doubt it. $AMC, am I right?

Later on at a party, we see Buffy and Xander dancing together, with Anya noting to others that he lets him do that. In the background of the party, people are limbo-ing, and I must admit that I attended precious few college parties in my day, but… did people often limbo at them? Was that a popular early-2000’s collegiate party activity? The limbo? Or, as Joss and his writers would call it, The under-the-stick going?

Buffy spies Ben the nurse from across the room, and… is he still in college? He is a nurse already. Why is he at this party? I’m serious… I want to know why he is here other than “the plot demanded it”. Whatever. Ben makes a lame joke and Buffy laughs in an exaggerated fashion before asking him to dance with her.

The girl looking for Warren enters the party and starts asking about him, and we flash over to one guy looking very nervous, grabbing his date, and rushing out of the party. Despite the fact that the presumed Warren was apparently RIGHT THERE, no one at the party knows who Warren is when pressed by the girl.

Spike shows up to the party and starts pestering Buffy who shoos him away. He takes up residence at the other end of the affair and peeps Buffy and Ben talking. Ben gives Buffy his number.

Spike then goes up to our mystery girl, who announces her name is April. Spike propositions her, and she responds by chucking him out a friggin’ window. Buffy tries to intervene, but April pretty easily tosses her aside and goes back to looking for Warren.

After the party, the Scoobies gather to discuss the night’s events where it’s played for laughs that they all immediately assume April is a robot. For some reason, they intuit that whoever Warren is isn’t in any danger, but other people might be.

Buffy heads home, confident that Warren is safe, and relieves Giles of Dawn Duty. She tells him about the robot. Mom comes home from her date before they can discuss much, and she torments Buffy by pretending she slutted it up with Bryan.

Willow uses her long-dormant computer skills to find out who Warren is; he’s a kid they went to high school with for a little bit who has since moved out of the area. The gang talks about how the creep who built April must have lived a sad and lonely existence, and Buffy, the single person of the group, gets depressed. She decides to call Ben up…

At Glory’s pad, we see Glory turn into Ben, still wearing Glory’s dress because it’s the early 2000’s and men wearing women’s clothes is hilarious and embarrassing and silly! He picks up the phone and asks Buffy out for coffee sometime.

We move on to where Warren and his girlfriend are staying, and he has them packing in a hurry. Not… the BIGGEST hurry since they did not leave last night, I guess. They are only in a hurry when the camera is on them. As they prepare to leave, Buffy shows up. Warren’s girlfriend gets offended at his being an asshole to her, and she runs off. Warren tells Buffy that April is a robot, and this moment, too, is played for laughs. HAHA EVERYONE KNOWS IT’S A ROBOT. This show and I have very different senses of humor.

At the magic shop, Spike rushes in half aflame with his jacket over his head. He expects to at least find camaraderie from Dawn, but she suddenly doesn’t like him anymore. Giles gives out to Spike something fierce, and he send the vamp packing back out into the sun with just a coat to protect him. The rules of sunlight on this show are arbitrary. Why don’t vamps just constantly dress like they are off to ski?

Back at Warren’s, he and Buffy are chatting about April. He gives us his whole sob story about being a loser with no one to love, so he built an incredibly life-like girlfriend robot who has feelings and everything.

You know, like you do when you are an 18 year old boy with an 18 year old’s ability to understand and apply robotics.

Something something Hellmouth, I guess? Whatever.

Despite her being everything he assumed he wanted, he quickly got bored with April and left her in his dorm room when he came back to SunnyDale. He says her batteries should have run out by now!

Don’t wory. This is BTVS. We will never get an explanation as to why her batteries are lasting as long as they do, so that bit of dialogue was pointless.

Elsewhere, April finds Warren’s girlfriend, and the girlfriend infuriates April as they talk about Warren. April attacks!

Buffy and Warren come upon April and an unconscious Katrina (the name of the girlfriend). Buffy tells Warren he has to break up with April and then… no And Then. There should be an And Then. Break up with her AND THEN dismantle her? Break up with AND THEN shut her down? What does Buffy think will happen after they break up!

To his short-term credit, Warren does try to break up with April, but she fritzes out, and it doesn’t work. So to his short-term discredit, he just sics April on Buffy. April can’t bring herself to kill Buffy, though, so they end up just girl-talking, and that’s when her batteries finally die.

Back at the house where the party occurred earlier, Buffy is talking to Xander as he fixes the broken window. The Buffster realizes she is a strong independent woman who don’t need no man, so she calls Ben up to break off their coffee date. In a curious moment, we see Glory hearing the voicemail and saying “She turned us down?!”.

So Glory KNOWS she is also Ben? Intriguing, because that had not been definitively shown one way or the other. It was implied that Ben did not know he was also Glory, though. Or I misinterpreted that scene with Dawn because I am dumb. Or the show is dumb.

One or the other!

We get two quick epilogue scenes!

First, Spike goes up to Warren and demands he commission a robot sex doll for him. Jesus Christ, every time I think this show can’t get any dumber.

Second, Buffy returns home to find Mom unconscious on their couch… with her eyes open? Uh-oh!

Episode 16

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

We open up by revisiting the last few moments of the previous episode, with Buffy calling out “Mom? Mom? Mommy?” to her mom’s unconscious body.

We then cut to a big group Christmas Eve dinner. The group tries to keep the secret of Santa Claus pure for Dawn, but she tells them she knows Santa is not real. I mean… they are wildly inconsistent on her. Why on Earth did they not cast a believable eight year old for this chick? Why did she have to be a teenage girl?

Nevermind! I know why, and it makes me feel dirty. His name is ALMOST Josh We Done.

Anyway, Anya reports that Santa Claus was, in fact, real. But before the conversation can keep going, we cut back to reality with Buffy still freaking out. She calls 911, and they instruct her on performing CPR. During the resuscitation process, Buffy reports that mom feels cold. The 911 operator replies “The body is cold?” which causes Buffy even more duress!

Honestly, this whole scene–this whole episode–was the Buffy The Vampire Slayer For Your Consideration reel for the Emmy’s. Sarah Michelle Gellar is acting her little tuchas off here!

She hangs up on 911 to call Giles and ask him to cover over. He just says “It’s her”, then hangs up as the paramedics arrive. Buffy briefly has a flash of imagination that they save her, but it’s not reality. The paramedics announce they are going to “bag” mom, AGAIN causing Buffy more distress, but they just mean the CPR bag. But it matters not; they quickly pronounce her dead.

And then… they just leave? They are like “We got another call. Just hang out here with this dead body, k?” and bail.

Is there only one ambulance in the city-state of SunnyDale?!

Still, in a really good moment, as Buffy is talking to the paramedic, and he is literally talking down to her. He is taller than she is, and we get a perspective where we can not see the paramedic’s eyes. We just view up to his nose. It really makes Buffy feel small and the paramedic feel disaffected and distant.

Sometimes this show is so damn capable, and the rest of the time… it’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Guys, why can’t we get this more often?

After the paramedics leave, Buffy collapses and pukes. As she is cleaning up the vomit, Giles shows up. Buffy shows him the body and explains the last several minutes to him. She tells him not to move the body, causing another breakdown for her, as her vocalization of the reality of the situation is more than she can bear. This has all been the same scene ever since the Christmas Dinner flashback.

We cut to Dawn at school, crying. It’s all a fake out that she already knows what is going on and a friend is telling her it’s no big deal. But in reality, she’s upset that a boy she likes called her freaky because they believe she cut herself.

She goes off to an art class and takes her spot next to the aforementioned boy. They talk for a bit, and he thinks it is cool she may have cut herself? So Dawn leans into it.

Buffy shows up in class and pulls a reluctant Dawn away. We get ANOTHER good, emotional scene–though one the show has used before, and I bet it thought I wouldn’t catch that BUT I DID–where we see Buffy give her the news, but we can’t hear it.

We get a silent moment of the rest of the group reacting to the news, but then they all convene at Willow’s dorm to discuss what they should do. Willow is freaking out over what to wear and wants her blue top, but she can not find it. She determines all the rest of her clothes are either too somber or too immature. TARA AND WILLOW KISS! For the first time on screen! See? This episode DOES rule.

Will keeps changing outfits, and Xander briefly ponders if Glory killed mom. Then his anger redirects, and he blames the SunnyDale doctors for letting mom out of the hospital to begin with. Anya breaks down, as she does not understand how to cope with death despite the fact that she is thousands of years old and has seen many people die. Though, admittedly, she was a demon and probably did not care for them. A frustrated Xander pulls a Kyle and punches a hole in the wall of Willow’s dorm, and this is played for quick laughs as his hand gets stuck, but thankfully this is resolved and the group heads out to see Buffy.

We see mom’s body in the morgue, and outside the actual morgue-y area, the whole team is there. Dawn wants to see the body, and Buffy notes that she thinks Dawn does not believe her.

Which… AGAIN… would work if Dawn was eight, but she’s clearly, like, fifteen. Why is she written to be mentally half her age?!

The coroner approaches and reports that mom had an aneurysm. He notes there is paperwork to complete, and Giles offers to help. Dawn, still being a bitch to everyone, states that she has to pee and heads off. Anya is awkward and uncomfortable, but Buffy thanks her for attempts regardless. The group leaves to find food, and Tara relates to Buffy by reporting her own mom died when she was 17.

Dawn, fresh from the restroom, sneaks into the morgue proper and… locks the door behind her? What the hell? OH, it’s so we can quit being a solidly heartfelt and grief-stricken episode for a while: behind Dawn in the morgue, a vampire awakens from its slumber.

Buffy realizes Dawn has been gone a while, so she gets up to check. She sees the vampire about to strike and breaks down the door in one shot.

So… I’m glad we wasted time with the locked door. WHY EVEN LOCK IT IF IT’S NOT GOING TO BE AN OBSTACLE, WRITERS?

During the fight, the cloth over mom’s body is dislodged, and Dawn sees her mother. Buffy beheads the vampire. With Dawn focused on the body, Buffy comes up to reassure her. “It’s not her. She’s gone,” Buffy tells her little sister.

Dawn reaches out to mom, but before she can touch her, the episode ends.


WHEW, that was some powerful stuff. And I’m not kidding, for as much shit as I lob at this silly-ass show, every great once in a while, they show us they are capable of something like this episode. And it blows my tiny mind. This episode was so brilliantly handled. The constant weird flashes to mom, showing her [lack of] presence looming over the episode, the scene without the paramedic’s eyes, the whole first half of the episode being Buffy in the house with the body, the very last moment getting cut by the credits… it’s all breath-taking stuff.

I’m sure next week they’ll fight a were-merman or something ludicrous, and Xander will make absurd attempts at humor, and everything will go back to normal, but for one brief moment in time, we got a nearly perfect episode.