Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | December 18, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S5, E13 – Blood Ties

Cordia’s Second Look
Blood Ties
Season 5, Episode 13
Original airing: 2/6/2001

My Rating: 57

The Good: I was thrilled when the episode opened with Willow and Xander smacking Buffy down for not telling them at the beginning that Dawn was the Key. She should have learned to share vital information by now! I thought that was a stupid decision when Buffy made it back in No Place Like Home (S5E5). I’d glad to see Willow and Xander agree with me.

The moment when Dawn gives Buffy the picture frame was very well done. She presents it as a bit sappy and a big of a joke, but she doesn’t have the frame of reference everyone else has knowing that moment never actually happened.

The best parts of the episode for me were Dawn and Spike. Spike has such great relationships with each of the ladies of the Summers’ household. I love how he becomes a completely different person for each of them. With Joyce he’s vulnerable and willing to talk; with Buffy he’s generally pissed off and yet attracted at the same time; and with Dawn he let a little of his rebel attitude shine and rub off on her. Their scenes were very entertaining. Dawn’s teenage attitude of ‘no fear’ just makes it even better.

I like the reveal that Ben and Glory are one body, but not one person. It makes Ben’s previous statements about cleaning up after Glory and not being afraid of her take on a whole new perspective. Why would he be afraid of her if he knows she can’t hurt him physically? I really like that they can’t remember what’s happened between times. Glory potentially has no idea that Ben is “cleaning up her messes”. It makes for a very interesting dynamic.

The Bad: I thought the structure of this episode was strong and the emotional choices made a lot of sense. However, I wasn’t invested for some reason. I’m attracted to Dawn’s feelings and reactions, but I’m missing the emotional connection. Dawn’s emotions looked pretty realistic and understandable. She discovers something about herself that changes her entire perception of the universe. Suddenly, she looks at her possessions and memories and they don’t make any sense to her. However, her attempt to prove she’s real by cutting herself left me luke warm. It was an incredibly powerful image to see a young girl with a self-inflicted wound in her arm and the knife hanging from the other hand. But I did not feel punched in the gut that it was Dawn doing that.

If anything really hit me emotionally in this episode, it was Buffy’s off-hand comment to Giles that dealing with Dawn was “a family thing” and he wasn’t needed. In the show, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Giles doesn’t seem hurt by it or anything. But as a viewer with a serious investment in the Buffy/Giles dynamic and relationship, this hurt. Not a fan.

While the overall structure of this episode was solid, there were definitely scenes that made me roll my eyes concerning the creation of the moment. I don’t think the show could have been more heavy handed with Dawn’s discovery. The flashbacks are one thing, but to lay it all out there and then also have Spike actually read aloud from the diary that Dawn is the Key was massive overkill. As a friend of mine likes to say, “You don’t need a shotgun to swat a fly.”

The most egregious moment, however, is definitely Dawn overhearing Buffy describe how she thinks Dawn is feeling about everything. First of all, why would Buffy frame this speech as if she was actually voicing her own thoughts? Second, this is the third time in as many episodes where Dawn has snuck down the stairs and overheard important information. This has gone past lazy writing to absolute ludicrousness.

Favorite Moment: I really appreciated the quiet, still look of horror and comprehension on Dawn’s face when she realized she was the Key.

The Bottom Line: I liked the construction and overall arc of this episode. I think this is good information for everyone to know and the flow of Dawn’s discovery and reactions was organic. However, I wasn’t emotionally involved with the story. In an episode about such anger, fear, and sadness, I should feel wrenched and broken. At the end, I just felt ok. Solid structure, missing the warm gooey center.

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