Buffy Studies 101: The best (& worst) of Season 5

Reliving the Buffy days is quite fun and to celebrate Season 8 I discuss Season 5 and what makes this one of the best seasons of BTVS.

1. Glory/Glorificus – Bitchy hell-god Glory (played by Clare Kramer) who has been banished from another demon dimension and is planning to go back via a mystical energy called “the Key” is the ultimate villain . Powerful, crazy, diabolical, scary, she is equal parts worthy opponent and villain worthy of Buffy and the Scoobies.  The fact that she has a nice med student brother who shares the same body with her – a brother for whom Buffy shares an unwitting brief attraction makes this season very exciting. Long after she is defeated by Buffy and the gang, I will always remember this season as the season that turned it around for Buffy and the gang, and really showed how far the show had come.

2. Dawn Summers – Having a thousand-year old mystical ball of energy that is the key to opening the many demon dimensions be trapped in the body of a bratty 14-year old younger sister to The Slayer is a stroke of genius. My sister and I, who had followed BTVS religiously the first time it was shown on TV where absolutely blown away by how clever this plot twist was. It makes the big reveal – that Dawn is just a construct and that all the memories Buffy and the Scoobies have about her all the more dramatic…and heartbreaking.

3. Anya – Whether being rude to customers are the Magic Shop, offering her friends a chance to stroke the cash in the cash register to make them feel better (since it makes her feel better), offering to sleep with Willow after Tara is brainwashed, battling an ex-demon boyfriend, pressuring boyfriend Xander to marry her, or trying to figure out what death is all about, or coming up with the initial plan to defeat Glory (the dragon’s sphere, the demon’s ax, the Buffy-bot), while still managing to convey her repulsion and hate for bunnies,  Anya, as played by Emma Caulfield, always manages to be repulsive, effusive, adorable, funny and emphatic. She may be as dead as the TV series from whence she came, but she is still one of my favorite supporting characters on BVTS ever.

4. Tara and Willow’s relationship is taken to the next level – I’d missed this when I was watching it the first time many years ago but this season had hinted at Willow’s future forays to the dark side of magic. This season explores the complexities of relationships and it is portrayed sensitively in Tara and Willow’s relationship. Willow, sheltered and safe in the arms of a good childhood and good company,  is in for a maturity journey when Joyce dies and Tara is hurt by Glory. Pretty awesome, that.

5. Spike and Buffy’s ambivalent, ambiguous relationship –  Spike and Buffy have always had a love-hate relationship but this season makes their relationship more interesting: Spike falls in love for Buffy and though Buffy adamantly refuses to reciprocate his feelings, Spike proves his loyalty and love when Glory tortures him to the point of death, hoping doing so would make Spike squeal. Spike refuses to say who the key is, and earns a kiss and respect from Buffy.

6. Joyce dies -I know this is depressing, but my all-time favorite episode in this season has to be the two-part episode of Joyce Summers’ (Kristine Sutherland) sudden death. Surreal and existential, this two-part episode manages to convey the heartbreak, loss and pathos of losing someone close to you. The performances from all the actors are stellar and the writing is so superb as to deserve to have earned at least an award. And this is why this show is the best. 🙂

7. The awesome fight scenes –  Buffy is about the action as well and this season does not disappoint. From Buffy’s fight scenes with the Buffy-bot, with demons, with weird demons from outerspace, with Glory, to Willow’s gutsy fight with Glory, this season delivers.

8. The season finale –  This season finale is only matched by the show finale in Season 7. When despite all odds, and a spectacular fight involving the sphere, the demon ax, Willow’s powers combined with Tara’s, Spike’s strength and the killing of Ben, Glory’s brother-in-the-same-body, Glory’s minions succeed in bleeding Dawn so the portal can open, Buffy decides to sacrifice herself instead, I guarantee you not a few tears may have been shed. Which just goes to show, it’s not how you start that matters… it’s how you end that matters.

And so…many years later, it is any wonder its loyal fan base is still as loyal as hell?

Nuff said.

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