Yes, still calling you Joss, Joss. They say you get to know someone through their art, so I really am getting to know you enough to call ya Joss.
And yes, I am back yet again with another report card on Buffy, this time Season Five. Season One had your half season, Season Two was your first full foray, Season Three had a graduation to end all graduations, and Season Four was The College Years with the misstep of Adam.
Buffy Season Five has you come raring back Joss, probably because the warped sister show Angel is becoming more settled, and you provide plenty of massive changes to our Slayer.
So let us start with the battering Buffy took this year, both physically and emotionally.
Buffy has the following all happen in less than a year: Suddenly an annoying younger sister exists, her mom has health issues, her devoted boyfriend inexplicably turns junkie and leaves, her once mortal (actually immortal) enemy develops a crush/fixation on her, her mom passes away, her newest enemy is waaaay more powerful, and last but not least, Buffy dies. That’s a lot Joss, and yes we all blame you for all the mostly excellent craziness to plague our dear Buffy this year.
This also means the year of Buffy’s twentieth birthday, and her last, was pretty epic.
I also quite liked how Buffy’s demise was foreshadowed all season long. Her constant wondering about death, and whether she has a deathwish, was interesting, and how she misinterpreted the First Slayers message.
All this leading up to the big big big finale that I shall rhapsodize about later Joss.
Family became a larger issue for Buffy this year, what with the sudden magical addition of Dawn, and the sudden non magical subtraction of Joyce.
I gotta admit, the Dracula one sucked, and I mean this without meaning the obvious pun, but that one curdled. But it did bring us Dawn at the very end. And unlike it seems the vast majority of fandom, I really like Dawn. Buffy runs the gamut of treating Dawn like the sister she was raised with, to being suspicious because of Dawn’s mysteries, to accepting Dawn again as her sister. This all feels very real, very much of a natural vein, and kudos to Buffy for accepting, protecting, and loving Dawn.
Which is all very good, because when Joyce passes away, Buffy and Dawn will need each other. Their mom evolved from bitchy and self centered in earlier seasons, to caring and loving for the last two years. So much so, that when Joyce does die, we all feel the whammy with Buffy, Dawn, and the Scoobies. Plus the lingering ongoing mystery of what ails her just makes it worse. The Body was one of the best of Buffy The Vampire Slayer so far Joss. And I love how Angel shows up for the funeral.
The hit of this is so massive that not only does Buffy drop out of college, where she was finally getting her groove on with (Poetry? Really?? Poetry???), but makes the insane decision to make a run for it when Glory proves too formidable. And Buffy’s now jerk father being a no-show does not help either with her mental state. Heck, even the Scoobies think Buffy is off kilter since they mistake a robot for her. This leading to the complete withdrawal of our poor Buffy from reality is sad but not surprising.
On last note on our heroine, I love love love Joss how you had Buffy and Riley being a complete couple during the course of their relationship. They had a sexual connection and made no excuses or apologies for it, since none were needed. Very current and mature and responsible, and I love it.
Now onto the sparkling new wonderful character Dawn. While my bets was on this being a sinister Jonathan plot, I found the new found way of plopping in new characters very interesting. Not only is Dawn a great and potent spice in the mix, but she adds some very different humour and drama. Real Me showcases this supremely Joss. Dawn’s crush on Xander hits both emotionally beats and we know it feels so real to everyone. Unfortunately, Dawn also suffers mentally, with her cutting and burning and blossoming kleptomania, partially because of the Key reveal and somewhat from her mom’s death. Also, I really dislike how virtually treats Dawn like a five year old. She is a teen, you twits.
Before I move onto the rest of the Scoobies, let me take a moment and say a goodbye to Riley, the best boyfriend Buffy ever had. And while the Angel fans scream through the internets at me, I shrug their whininess off and enjoy the far more healthy and happy relationship these two share. Until this season when the foolish other writers and producers, I refuse to believe you were involved in this character assassination Joss, made Riley an adrenaline junkie, then a blood being sucked junkie, then an idiot with an inferiority complex. Hope he comes back and this can all be fixed. I miss the real Riley.
Another character troubling me is some ways, but thankfully still on the show, is the wonderful Willow. My concern is how flippant Willow is with her use, and quite often abuse of magic. It just feels like she thinks like a Republican and that all magic is their forever for her to use as she feels likes with no respect to its rules and regulations. And whenever anyone brings this up, she cops an attitude. That’s why when she goes nutso, understandably, and blasts into Glory, we are all not too surprised. But we are kinda scared. That much power, half cocked, is not good. Maybe Oz can come back and teach her some chants? But I do wonder what her Magical Proficiency Level is, don’t you Joss? The good news for my fav Willow is how her steadfast her friendship is. Willow is the one who snaps Buffy out of her mental funk, not just to help save the day, but to save her BFF. And I other thing thing I love about Willow is her with…
Tara. Willow and Tara are awesome. They are the coolest, nicest, sexiest, couple ever on this show. And even after Tara’s incredibly evil whackadoodle family shows up, and Tara screws up by making the demons invisible, Willow sticks by here and loves her even more. Plus, the rock of Tara stutters a whole lot less this season, and provides Buffy with so much support when Joyce died. Tara is awesome, long may she reign.
Xander finally started growing up this year. Thankfully. Only took him meeting his replacement, which was really him, to get the idiot out of his parents basement, get his own place, stabilize his job, and take his biggest step of all, get engaged to Anya. That’s a lot, and long overdue, for him. Heck, he even does a better job analyzing Buffy and Riley’s relationship then they do. Looks like that interesting meet up, and thought provoking, seeing and influencing himself did the trick.
Anya is funny and cute and still someone I don’t quite have the pulse on yet.
Giles starts off strong this season four Joss, by finally getting out of his house and taking over the Magic Shop. But he doesn’t do a whole much otherwise this year, not till the end. Seeing him and Buffy argue is always fascinating, and having it be about the fate of Dawn raises the stakes. Buffy would kill Giles to protect Dawn, and he knows it and is ready to try anyway if he has to. That’s why he takes the second option, one Buffy knows nothing about, and kills Ben instead.
Someone inching onto the cast is former villain Spike. He is funny and useful and causing chaos, just like he always does. But this time, because of his love/obsession/infatuation with Buffy, he is so trying to prove himself worthy. Holy Hellmouth, he even lets Glory torture him! But this loyalty/craziness becomes unsettling as well. I mean, seriously, the Buffy bot? That goes beyond gross. And Spike’s lack of soul means he knows it is wrong, but doesn’t quite understand it. Which means Joss, I am slightly conflicted about this relationship, as is Buffy, who despite her protests, knows what Spike feels. It was also interesting to see more of Spike’s history, and how he slayed those two Slayers.
As you can see Joss, I liked a whole lot of Season Five. Harmony was a blast and I hope she comes back. The meteor demon was scary as hell, and the Watchers Councils have to die now in many painful ways. Drusilla was awesome again, while the Knights added a different tension to it all. Warren is complete scum and you will believe a robot can feel. Olaf is now my favourite troll, and Joyce loving her sudden daughter Dawn even when she knows the truth is very touching. And speaking of Joyce, what did come back from Dawn’s spell?
But now some nitpicks of what didn’t work. What was Buffy and Giles thinking not telling Dawn and the Scoobies about the Key? Dumb, dumb, dumb. The giant snake sucked. The minions should have been squashed. The almost inclusion of sci fi with the meteor was great, but then you all backtracked at superspeed. And the Ben in Glory’s dress jokes are not funny to put it mildly, just offensive to homosexuals.
And now, my final bit. Your sigh is audible over the net Joss.
Buffy versus Glory, all to save Dawn and the universe, and resulting in Buffy’s death.
Glory is a glorious villain. And this time I meant to say that. She is evil and only cares about herself and everyone else can go to hell. We are all just obstacles in her way, to be squished and slammed and fed upon. Heck, almost destroying Tara mentally is just par for the course for her. I also loved the side effect of how no one but Spike remembers at first that Glory is Ben, which gives us such a great head smack for Xander. So when Ben is infested by Glory’s evil, we know even more how serious this is all becoming. Glory deserves the wrecking ball at this point!
All this leads to Buffy doing the brave, wise, and loving action of sacrificing herself to save Dawn and all of everything.
This is a fate that might have happened many many times before, but unlike some other Slayers, her death was meaningful, for family, for the universe, and for love.
She is not happy but does it anyway. Because it is her duty, as sister and Slayer.
Buffy will be back, we know that Joss, but this death was a massive and will not be forgotten.
RIP Buffy Summers. Till next season.
…is currently reading The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler