“Buffy” is at that point now that most show’s with a core group of friends usually does where above anything else that the show does it’s really just fun to hang out with these characters, ones that you know so much by now and seem like just another extension of friends of yours. By this point the show isn’t really tied to having a baddie each episode for Buffy and company to dispatch all the while slowly moving along the overarching story. It’s still in effect, yeah, but it seems more freer, less concerned with sticking to a formula each episode, and just goes with the flow with whatever the writers feel like following that week, whether it be taking down a demon, focusing more on the characters relationships, hitting largely on the overarching story, or just menial things like people in their early twenties buying a house or getting a job or whatever. For at least the first 2/3 thirds of the season, it has a very laid back feel, and one that is a nice change of pace and works well as a foil as things eventually unravel in the back portion of the season.
Perhaps the biggest thing of the season is the literal random introduction of Buffy’s sister Dawn, where the show just literally drops her into the proceedings all like “What? Over four seasons you hadn’t noticed Buffy has a sister? She’s totally been here the whole time.” It’s hilarious how they introduce her like that, and at first I thought they just really wanted to introduce a new character, especially a sister to Buffy, and were just like “Screw it, this is the easiest way to put her in, nobody will notice after awhile.” But, thankfully, it wasn’t that dumb, and played into the series where she was placed there as a key between dimensions and memories of her were implanted into people who know her, which was slowly discovered by Buffy until they realized who she was and how she plays into things.
Oh, yeah, this whole “key” situation. So, sweet ‘ol young as hell Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn is a sort of “key” that the big bad of the season a goddess from hell needs to return to her realm of hell and subsequently wreck havoc on Earth. Glory, as she so affectionately is called, was kind of a letdown for me, where she was supposed to be built up as this all-ruling GOD, which the show was always quick to remind you was totally way worse than any other villain Buffy has faced, yet she never seemed all that formative in and of herself. I really liked the idea of Buffy having a sister, even if she just continually treated her awful time and time again. It provided a nice dynamic, and eventually would wring some much-needed humility from Buffy.
The rest of the cast honestly wasn’t really up to much this season, honestly. Giving credence to the whole laid back vibe of much of the season. Xander and Anya continue to develop their relationship, they get a place together and just generally try to juggle a relationship of human and emotionless demon. Anya also gets a job at Giles new magic shop, which basically just provides another location for the gang to hang out and scheme in. Nothing happens with Willow, until near the end of the season, but that can be said with all these characters I’m mentioning, really, and same with Tara, besides them delving a bit into her past with her family, but it’s never fully explored besides an episode or two, but it eventually pays dividends with her opening up to Buffy and helping her change her mind in regards to her sister’s role in everything.
And Spike, I guess I kinda shoulda figured that he wasn’t just going to go back to being a straight up villain who hated and tried to kill Buffy and co. He’s basically a good guy now, especially with his whole thing this season was just how much he’s in love with Buffy. I mean, I love him as a comedy outlet, but I still thought they’d utilize him in a more central and serious role, but he’s good with whatever he’s given, so it’s largely hard to complain. Speaking of Buffy and her love interests, Riley leaves halfway through the season because he pretty rightfully discovers that he’s not really a priority in Buffy’s life (que the Buffy complaining how it’s so hard to juggle her love life with demon slaying. Sigh.). I honestly just thought he’d be back the next episode, but it was literally until the last few episodes where I just realized that Riley was no longer regularly on the show, that’s how much I missed him. It was definitely a breath of fresh air, though, not having Buffy pine over someone each episode.
As most of my other reviews/recaps/whatever you’d call these things would suggest I’ve been counting down the episode until Giles dies, but damn, it’s the end of season five and he’s still alive, colour me surprised. But, I guess, the old, authoritative figure to die wasn’t going to be him now, or yet… but that role shifted to somebody else. Buffy’s mother was in the hospital early in the season with a brain tumor that was eventually cleared as nothing and just really seemed to serve as a minor storyline to further the Buffy, Dawn, mom relationship. But, then, to kick off the last third of episodes that ratchets up the dramatic core and drive of the season, Buffy walks into her house and see her mom’s cold dead body lying on the couch. The following episode “The Body” is one of the best of the series, following how the very real impact of Joyce’s death affects each of the gang in its own different way. Buffy imagines her mom alive in a fleeting hope of reality, but it’s all for naught, and no matter what spell attempts to be concocted Joyce is dead and gone. In the most real and grounded part of things, it’s not as if a demon or something in Buffy’s line of work caused where she brought a vampire too close to home and it costed her mom. Nope, Joyce died of that honest to goodness brain tumour, nothing fancy, just a sad reality of stuff that randomly affects humans, because we’re just that, human.
And so in the wake of all that, Glory’s forces close in on the Scooby gang, with Glory zeroing in on Dawn to fulfill her mass destiny and kill her and score one for the bad guys. But, Buffy decides to be nice to her sister for once and sacrifices herself in place of Dawn as they share the same blood. And that’s how the show ends, with Buffy dead and everybody just going on their merry ways. No, of course not, we still got two more season of this thing! At least. So, now I sit here wondering what I have the last few seasons, what will next season look like, especially since the last two have been vastly different from each other in style, scope, emotion and form. Buffy’s gotta come back and she’s gotta have another love interest, that’s like death and taxes! Season six, let’s see what you got.