Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | September 10, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S5, E01 – Buffy vs Dracula

Buffy vs. Dracula
Season 5, Episode 1
Original airing: 9/26/2000

My Rating: 72

The Good: I was surprised that I really enjoyed this episode. The first time I saw it, I thought the inclusion of “classic” Dracula was really kitschy and annoying. I was so distracted by him I missed all the good ground work the story was creating about the Slayer history and power.

This time around I loved the conversations Dracula had with Buffy. His comments are mysterious and intriguing. I really look forward to learning more about where Buffy’s power comes from. Is it demon related? How did the First Slayer become the First Slayer? Why was Buffy able to resist her? This seems like a much more interesting area to explore than the Initiative was in season four.

I also enjoyed how the episode folded Dracula into the Buffy-verse. Having him be real made it very fun to see everyone’s reactions. Buffy actually gets a little star struck, Anya remembers the good old days, and Spike thinks Dracula is a jerk. These felt like fun, realistic reactions that made Dracula seem like he could actually belong (aside from his terrible makeup and costume).

I found Xander pretty amusing in this episode too. It gave him a chance to be super goofy, but in a different context. His performance was silly and single-minded, which I think fit well with the Dracula mythology of how his minions act. His terrible attempts to distract the group from Dracula were well-written. I absolutely loved when he stuffed Anya in a closet and told Buffy he was trading her for immortality. Obviously he can’t force Buffy to come with him, but he’s hoping she’ll understand and help him out.

And I really enjoyed the ending when Xander ran into the room after Dracula was “staked” and declared he would no longer be the punching bag of the supernatural universe. I thought this was a good foot for Xander to start off from in season four. Hopefully, the show will follow through on a Xander that has more substance than he has recently.

Finally, I liked how the story handled Giles. All last season he was floating with no direction, much like Xander. But now he has a purpose again. He had made his own decision to go back to England, but there was no hint what he planned to do there. It’s possible he just didn’t want to be on the outside looking in at the Scoobies anymore. But when Buffy asked him to be her Watcher again and help her explore the history of her power, he relearned his purpose.

The Bad: Despite my earlier comments, I did still find Dracula a bit distracting. Mainly, it was his way too white face, normal colored neck, and crazy tux and black cape. He was so stereotypically Dracula I couldn’t help but make fun of him in my mind when I should have been watching the show.

And, of course, it was quite silly that Dracula was unkillable and nobody cared. Basically, they know he’s going to go back into the world and murder more people. But there isn’t even a shrug about it. This felt like a huge loophole that the show just decided to ignore. If Buffy and crew didn’t know about his resurrection, this wouldn’t bother me at all. But since they had Buffy come back and kill him again and then acknowledge that she knew he was going to reform, it just made the Scoobies look stupid.

The Unknown: Being a spoiler-free Rewatch, I’m just going to say this. The first time the young girl appeared at the end and Joyce referred to her as Buffy’s sister was one of the biggest twists I’ve ever seen on television. It was literally jaw-dropping.

Favorite Moment: My favorite scene was the one between Buffy and Giles at the end. Specifically, I love the moment when Buffy asks Giles to be her Watcher again. Anthony Stewart Head is the master of extremely powerful facial expressions and he does it again here. The look on his face of pride, honor, and joy is so strong. But it’s also quite and subtle as he just nods and goes along with it.

The Bottom Line: There is actually a lot to like in this episode. The humor was goofy, but not too crazy. The setup for the season was interesting and the characters were well-scripted and fun. It’s too bad the show couldn’t have had its own vision for Dracula, but I still enjoyed it.

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