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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 5 Episodes 5 – 6

April 12, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5-05 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Lois Lane, Reporting Live From SunnyDale: A BTVS Retrospective, S5 E5-6


Episode 5

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

WE start off the episode two months ago in a monastery with some monks running from something. They must protect the key, they cry! As they start their little monk chanting circle, something breaks through their barricaded door.

Now: Buffy is fighting a big biker vampire outside of a factory. She pretty easily kills him because he is a nothing foe, and that’s what you do to Nothing Foes on this show. As she starts to leave, a security guard comes up to her and gives her a glowing orb that Vamp Of Anarchy seemed to have dropped.

At the Buffy abode, mom is STILL sick or sick AGAIN or whatever, leaving a food-preparing Buffy very concerned and Dawn feeling kind of neutral about the whole thing. Mom reveals she and Dawn have a book club together, and Buffy is jealous.

At the grand opening of Giles’ gift shop, the former teacher is dressed in silly wizarding robes until Buffy silently shames him over it. This is a good anti-Whedon scene where, instead of delivering a sizzling zinger, she just kind of stares at him disapprovingly until he takes the cone hat and cloak off in shame. I could do with more moments like this from you, BTVS.

Anyway, the store is empty, probably because SunnyDale has had a magic shop for years, so why would Giles expect a big sudden rush for a grand re-re-opening? It’s not a new offering to the townsfolk; eye of toad was always available to them.

In the lull, Buffy gives him the orb to research. Right in front of Riley, Dawn mentions Buffy has called him as weak as a kitten and essentially useless in a fight now. Buffy wishes she was an only child.

I hope that’s not the plot here. We have done wishes gone awry before, show!

Buffy has to get a prescription filled for mom, so she goes to the HOSPITAL, which can’t possibly have been the closest or most efficient way to go about that. I’m positive SunnyDale has drug stores. Hey, remember when pharmacies were called “drug stores”?! Or am I just old? That’s a pretty wild name for them, anyway. We should go back to that. Write your Senator.

Anyway, at the hospital, she sees now-recurring character Ben The Nurse wheeling a crazy man around. It’s the security guard from earlier! The crazy guy tells Buffy someone is coming for her family.

We cut back to the factory, and now there’s a monk there, too! Monks get around, I guess. Something is smashing its way through the door to get to him; it’s a lady in a red dress.

Back at Giles’ shop, he suddenly has some customers. Buffy thinks that mom’s malady is supernatural now due to the rantings of a crazy man, which is as good of a thing to base a diagnosis on as anything. I mean, you usually go to a doctor, pay them $50, tell them your symptoms, and they go “Oh wow, that sounds awful. Oh well, could be anything. Have you tried physical therapy and losing weight, fatty?”.

I just mean… I’d rather believe a delusional man, too. He doesn’t even need $50, and he takes all insurance plans!

To the factory again, and Red Dress has the monk tied down, and there’s, like, another whole guy there, too, all of the sudden? He’s just there for Red Dress to kill with some truly woeful special effects, as of course is tradition for this series.

The episode starts giving me whiplash as we go BACK to the magic shop, and Giles has plenty of customers who apparently all heard that the MAGIC STORE THEY HAVE HAD FOR YEARS has reopened. Anyway, we start seeing that Anya is really good at handling the store for Giles and will be hired on as an employee by episode’s end, and she gives a studying Buffy some advice on a spell that creates a trance and lets the user see if other magic is at play. Despite some warnings from the others, Buffy is like “Yes, that is the spell for me”.

Buffy and Riley are at home preparing the spell, though it turns out that Buffy doesn’t really NEED him; she just wanted him to feel useful. He takes his leave, but everything seems fine. No drama here. Buffy starts doing the spell, but Dawn interrupts to be a pest. Buffy sends her away.

Buffy finally completes the spell and enters the trance. TURNS OUT, mom is fine. No trace of magic on her, and she’s feeling better. What Buffy DOES discover is everything about Dawn is a lie, though! Pictures of her fade in and out. She starts seeing Dawn’s bedroom is actually an old storage room. Then when Dawn comes up to her, lil sis herself fades in and out of reality.

Well that was fast. It’s so early in the season. The show really blew its load on Dawn with the early clues and now this already. I’d have just let this simmer, like “Yeah, she’s always had a sister; what’s wrong with YOU?” for, like, half the season before revealing anything was up. But this show, you know? Tact is not thy name.

Anyway, Buffy full on attacks Dawn until Giles calls with info on the orb. It’s called Dagon’s Sphere, and it offers protection against a primordial evil. Buffy, still untrusting of Dawn but also wanting to know what this evil is, heads out to check out the factory. Outside, she catches Spike snooping around, and DOESN’T KILL HIM despite his VERY RECENT reveal that he is STILL MURDEROUS AND EVIL. What the hell, Buffy?

Mom comes home early, not feeling well again. Dawn approaches menacingly to offer some tea. Sigh, lazy. Come on, show. Knowing what I know from the end of this episode, this is just cheap suspense.

And it’s only a scare if you assume I care if Mom lives or dies. WHICH! Not so much.

At the factory, Buffy finds the tied-up monk. Red Dress is there, too. She and Buffy start brawling, and she whips Buffy’s ass. Buffy grabs the monk and jumps out the second story factor window to… safety? I guess. Red Dress throws a tantrum and stomps the roof down on top of her.

I just… sure, okay. Let’s save the day that way. Why not, besides its frustrating stupidity?

The monk goes full Exposition Mode before he dies: Buffy has to protect the key, pure energy that will be needed to do stuff later this year, I’m sure. And Dawn is that key! She is an innocent in all of this. She does not know what she is, and she believes she really is Buffy’s sister.

Buffy heads home and apologizes for assaulting Dawn earlier.

Episode 6

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

With the reveal of Dawn’s secret having been, uh, revealed, we kick off this next episode with Tara and Willow in bed together (clothed sure, but also not allowed by the network to kiss, don’t you know). Tara is studying magic so she can be more useful to the team.

We move on to Buffy and Giles, with Buffy having explained what she has learned about Dawn to her mentor. She doesn’t want to tell anyone else on the team since hiding secrets is lazy writers’ shorthand to create drama later on in TV shows. And I can say that because I was a fan of Supernatural, and they used that trope CONSTANTLY. KEEP YOUR SECRETS, SAMMY!

Back at the factory, Red Dress unburies herself, so she’s NOT dead, okay! I feel better then that she didn’t just moronically off herself like I assumed.

At the college, everyone is busy moving Buffy out of school and back home because this show doesn’t even have a pretense of caring about being about Buffy’s university work any longer. Willow sends Tara to the car with boxes, then uses the moment to remind everyone that Tara’s 20th birthday party is coming up at the Bronze.

Back at the hospital, another babbling crazy person is being wheeled off. Nurse Ben heads to the break room and is about to be attacked by a clown-paint demon, but Red Dress stops the beast.

At the store, Anya is working out like gangbusters for Giles. Buffy is underwhelmed by the idea of a birthday party for Tara; she and Xander discuss Willow’s partner and realize they know nothing about her, but emphatically agree that she is “nice”. They expect the party will be a bunch of boring Wiccan folks.

We cut to Buffy brawling with Spike, but it’s just Spike’s fantasy while he bangs Harmony. This episode clearly had 30-40 seconds to fill, so that’s a thing that had to happen.

A guy comes into the store and starts going through all the research books the team is using. He makes light of the idea of witchcraft, and then it’s quickly revealed he is Tara’s brother. The rest of her family comes into the store: it’s Tara’s dad and Tara’s Amy Adams!

It’s actual Amy Adams! Wow! Take any role you can get on your way to superstardom, right? Even a thankless nothing part as Tara’s cousin, Beth.

Buffy heads home, and Riley is there, having put away her stuff from college. Dawn wants to head over to a neighbor’s house, but Buffy loses her mind at the idea of Dawn leaving the house. Riley senses something is up, but Buffy won’t talk to him about it, so he just leaves.

SEE? Isn’t this crappy melodrama around secret keeping so exciting?!

Tara is in her dorm room when her dad comes in to talk to her. He thought she would get over the witchcraft stuff by now. They talk around a big secret about Tara’s 20th birthday, whereupon something happens to all the women in Tara’s family, including her mom. Dad just keeps saying it is EVIL! He wants the whole family, including Tara, out of SunnyDale by morning.

Red Dress Lady–no longer wearing a red dress and therefore causing me a lot of confusion as to what I will call her, but you know what? I’m still calling her Red Dress because change is hard—has the demon from earlier chained up. The monster tells Red Dress that Buffy is the slayer, and this upsets Red Dress that she wasted her time on something so common. Joss clearly based this character on Emma Frost, and I’m here for that.

Red Dress sends the demon and his brethren after Buffy.

The Scoobies gather to have a meeting at the magic shop to discuss the primordial evil that Buffy has been warned about. Without their knowledge, Tara appears around a corner and casts a spell on all of them.

At Willy’s bar, Riley is getting a drink, but Willy is not the bartender. A pretty girl saddles up next to him at the bar and wants to take him out somewhere more private. Riley refuses, but because she is a vampire. Not, as far as I can tell, because he is in a fulfilling and happy relationship.

In his lair, Spike is looking forlornfully at his Buffy mannequin head when Harmony comes home from shopping. She heard that the monsters from earlier are after Buffy. Spike decides he wants a front-row seat to the death of Buffy, so he heads out.

Tara meets up with our future Princess Giselle and, after starting things pleasantly enough, Beth calls Tara a bitch when Tara says she refuses to go home with them. It turns out the familial curse sees all of the women become demons on their 20th birthday. Tara tells Beth that she cast a spell so the people in her life won’t be able to see the demon side of her. Beth demands that Tara apologize to her friends, lift the spell, and come home with them.

The demons show up at the magic shop, but none of the Scooby Gang can see them thanks to Tara. They sneak around the shop, find Buffy, and strike! Big invisible enemy fight! Spike is there watching, but he jumps in to save Buffy when an unseen second demon is about to cut her down. He expects a thank you, but Buffy can’t see his presence, either.

Tara barges in and lifts her spell, allowing for the quick defeat of the remaining demons. Her family is close behind her coming into the store, and we get Explanationmana running wild from everyone. Willow, Buffy, and Dawn all defend Tara from the slings and arrows of her family. The latter cry out “We are her blood kin; what are YOU?”, and Buffy replies “We’re family”.

OH MAN. remember when characters could get away with that shtick, and our brains would not immediately crash under the weight of a half-dozen years of Fast & Furious memes? Good times.

The team is skeptical as to Tara actually being a demon, so Spike punches Tara, which results in a burst of pain for himself, proving that Tara is NOT actually a demon (and, once again, that Spike’s implant is fucking omniscient, which I HATE). Tara’s family gets all pissy and leaves.

Later, everyone is having a blast at Tara’s party. Riley ends up showing up, and everything seems fine between himself and Buffy as they have some kisses. Willow and Tara share a moment where they say they love each other, and the episode fades out with their dancing on air.