Buffy 5×01: Buffy vs. Dracula

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Marti Noxon | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 09/26/2000]

And so S5 begins! This is an often disliked episode and after looking at it closely I still cannot figure out why. It’s got its problems, just like all the season openers, but it’s certainly not without meaning and merit. There’s a ton of incredibly juicy material at work here which works side-by-side a lot of sharp humor. I like this episode, a lot. The reason behind that position has a lot more to do with how the episode works as a wonderful setup to the season, and even the series as a whole, than it does with the plot at work: Dracula. While I didn’t dislike Dracula’s appearance, I do feel it’s both unnecessary and a bit overplayed. However, what’s more important to me is that we see the major issues of the season for each character subtly and intelligently touched upon right here.

The episode starts with a completely awesome teaser that actually says a lot in of itself. Before I get into that I’d like to briefly mention how utterly cool Buffy’s fight with the vampire is here. I love the way this was shot: she’s running in the graveyard, leaps off a tombstone, and pulls some wicked moves on the vamp that smoothly transitions into a flip and a staking. I’ve always loved how Buffy’s fighting style has changed and improved as the seasons went by. In conjunction with this is a new music score for the fighting, which is a very refreshing change after S4. This, more or less, changes each season as well to my pleasure.

Anyway, Buffy can’t sleep because she has an urge to be out killing vampires. This is something that’s always been in her, and was talked about in some detail when Faith was around in S3 (see “Consequences” [3×15] ), but her encounter with the First Slayer in “Restless” [4×22] seems to have brought out this aspect of her even more. Now she seems to have a hunger for it. The appearance of Dracula really goes to solidify the focus of the narrative. He knows about the root of the Slayer’s power, that it is similar to that which vampires possess. We find out the exact nature of the Slayer’s power in “Get it Done” [7×15] .

As the episode moves on, the connection between Dracula and Angel is made several times. The most prominent, though, is in the creepy scene where Dracula wafts into Buffy’s bedroom and has the freedom to do whatever he wants to her. He’s right there and she can’t repel him because his mind control powers are tapping into her primal fascination of him. This is when Dracula sees the scar left by Angel when he bit her to save himself in “Graduation Day Pt. 2” [3×22] and gets ever more hungered for her. Although I must say, with what Buffy is wearing in her bed, I’d be hard-pressed to find any guy that didn’t get hungered over her, undead or not!

Dracula tells her that Angel was “Unworthy. He let you go. But the embrace … his bite … you remember.” She tells him very unconvingly, “no,” and he replies, “Do not fight. I can feel your hunger.” Now, obviously he’s pulling some mojo on her, but I have no doubt that Dracula isn’t lying when he claims she has a kind of hunger for what they’re doing. To me, though, that’s one of the many reasons I find Buffy so utterly fascinating. She’s a very good person but she’s got unnatural darkness built into her that she’s always fighting. It’s to Buffy’s credit that that darkness almost never prominently seeps out to the surface. Dracula’s not the only one with insight into the Slayer’s mind, Spike is too, maybe even more so, which is something we get to deliciously discover in “Fool for Love” [5×07] .

Towards the end of the episode, when Buffy is at Dracula’s castle, we really get some forward progress for Buffy. First of all, I’d like to briefly mention something I found interesting. Buffy tells Dracula, “what happened last night. It wont happen again.” Dracula replies, “stop me. Stake me.” I feel the need to make a connection between Dracula and Buffy’s sexual relationship with Spike during S6. In “Dead Things” [6×13] we even hear Buffy say “don’t” to Spike making a sexual move on her, and he says “stop me.” The dialogue is not only remarkably similar, but some of the underlying themes being touched on line up as well. Through the darker part of her nature, Dracula is able to do things to Buffy she’d normally never let herself do. But there’s something within her that Dracula could tap into and metaphorically feed off of. In S6, Buffy finds herself so depressed and out-of-touch with the world that she allows herself to indulge in this side of herself. I think in both situations she ends up going to a similar place, but the big difference is that Dracula uses mind control to bring it out of her here, while in S6 it’s her own depression that gets her to the same place.

This experience with Dracula has really opened her eyes up to what she’s been experiencing but ignoring over the summer: the ‘hunting.’ It gives a clear indication that she acknowledges there’s a lot about her Slayer heritage that she has no clue about, and that it is important she starts learning. It’s really the end scene between Buffy and Giles, though, that beautifully sets up the rest of the season. It makes complete sense that this realisation she has come to would motivate her to ask Giles for help in exploration of her Slayer heritage and in beginning training again. Buffy’s not only touching here but it also makes sense for the character. I love that afterwards Giles decides to stay in Sunnydale without any words at all, because Buffy gave him exactly what he wanted: being needed.

Now, very greedily grabbing this opportunity for paragraph fluency, I’m going to move onto Giles, who immediately gets his issues that were built-up over the entire fourth season directly addressed. In S4 Giles was very lost and couldn’t decide what he wanted to do with his life now that Buffy seemed to be coming into her own and didn’t rely as heavily on him anymore. Giles very much wants to be needed, and until Buffy offers that to him at the end of the episode, he figures it’s best that he goes back to England and try to make a life for himself. I love how Giles explains to Willow that “it’s become quite obvious that Buffy doesn’t need me. I-I don’t say that in a self-pitying way, I’m, I’m quite proud, actually.” When Buffy does express that need, he looks positively happy in a way that reminds me of his response to her return back in “Dead Man’s Party” [3×02] . This is a man who will always be there for Buffy when she needs him, unlike her real father. This is a notion that was really touched on in “Restless” [4×22] and intelligently followed up on here.

All of the issues surrounding Buffy this season affect Riley tremendously as well. Right from the beginning we can see Riley getting a bit jealous of Dracula, once again showing how insecure he is in his relationship with Buffy. While amusing, his bit about the “dark penetrating eyes” turns out to be revealing of these insecurities. Riley even voices that he’s not surprised there would be some transference of primal feelings Buffy had from Angel to Dracula. In “New Moon Rising” [4×19] Buffy discloses a lot about her romance with Angel. I say good for her that she was open about it. It’s obvious that Riley didn’t like what he heard and is having trouble getting over it.

Another character thread that gets briefly touched on is how lost and out of place Riley is. When trying to get information about Dracula from Spike, Spike says “You can take the boy out of the Initiative, but you can’t take the Initiative out of the boy.” Purpose. This is something that Riley needs and doesn’t have. Like Giles, he also wants to feel needed by Buffy as well, but in a very different way. Spike also says, “Tough talk cowboy,” which seems to be in direct reference to Riley’s costume in Willow’s dream during “Restless” [4×22] . This chat between Riley and Spike not only illuminates Riley’s problems, but it also highlights Spike’s growing frustrations. Riley tells Spike that he doesn’t have a problem with killing him. Spike tries to defend himself but quickly realizes he’s helpless and everyone knows it. This frustrates him beyond belief here, because he has to back down from Riley of all people. This issue continues to grow and finally amounts to something for Spike in “Out of My Mind” [5×04] .

Xander doesn’t get left out of the mix of development either. Last season we saw him in a pretty pathetic state, stuck in his drunken parents’ basement getting crap job after crap job. So when he gets used and abused here by Dracula and then steps up and says, “######! You know what? I’m sick of this crap. I’m sick of being the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis. As of this moment, it’s over. I’m finished being everybody’s butt-monkey!,” I’m standing up there with him. Good for you Xander! This is forward progress that is not forgotten but immediately seized upon and taken much further in “The Replacement” [5×03] .

Since I’ve touched on the many, many wonderful aspects of this episode that seem to be conveniently overlooked by its critics, I will now address the plot and where it does, admittedly, falter in places. While I found much of Dracula’s dialogue interesting, it is unfortunately also very slow and quite a bit overdone at times. Most of his scenes just drag on too long. By the time Buffy unclearly snaps out of Dracula’s ‘thrall’ and starts kicking his ###, I found myself somewhat relieved. Additionally, the Scooby meetings on Dracula wore thin quickly. When the second meeting began I was ready for the plot to get moving. Even though Dracula was creepy in the bedroom scene, I didn’t really find him scary or a real threat at all.

It feels a little bit convenient that both Anya and Spike know Dracula (thankfully their comments didn’t lead to his defeat), although I did find Spike amusing when going off about how Dracula got popular which in result caused the public to gain knowledge of how to kill vampires. Another thing that bugged me a bit was that the ending is a bit too ‘TV’ for my taste. Riley and Giles meet up with Buffy right after she’s won, they all have a funny chat, and then walk out happy. Way too scripted. All these flaws bring the episode down a level, but otherwise I feel this is still really good stuff.

Overall, I felt the plot serviced the characters rather than the other way around. Plus, this episode is really funny, in the good way. These are ultimately the reasons why I really like this episode and consider it a pretty solid season opener, flaws included. Before I conclude here, let me just say how awesome I think Dawn’s introduction at the very end of this episode is. The first time I saw it I was completely shocked and even thought I’d missed an episode. It made me want to rewatch this one again. Joyce’s comment about how it will be lonely again without Buffy around the house proved that Whedon had something interesting in store. Thankfully, he did.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Scene at the beach. How often do we get to see the gang out like this? This is fun and wonderful to watch with everyone happy.
+ Seeing Buffy and Joyce eating dinner together. Really good to see.
+ Willow spazzing out to Xander about Giles’ secret. Reminds me of her doing the same thing with Buffy in “Revelations” [3×07] .
+ Xander hiding behind Buffy when he finds out Dracula’s actually there.
+ Tara getting a little worried that Willow thought Dracula was sexy.
+ Willow over-trying to make Giles feel useful in their Dracula meetings.
+ Anya talks a lot and then Xander stuffs her in the closet.
+ Buffy thinking she can resist the mind control stuff if she tries hard enough. This doesn’t work at first and she begins to panic a bit.
+ Buffy staking Dracula again and then telling him “I’m standing right here!”

– When Buffy sucks on Dracula’s blood, it’s unclear why she snaps out of his thrall.


Foreshadowing

* Giles expressing his wish to get his life back in England. This resurfaces in S6 when he actually does move back to England permanently.
* Buffy overpowers Riley again (the football). This is something that obviously affects Riley as we find out more and more throughout the season. Additionally, Riley can tell that Buffy is intrigued by Dracula. Buffy’s attraction to vampires is something that Riley has never understood and will try to in the first half of this season.
* Willow’s use of magic for small stuff (lighting the barbeque) hints at much carnage to come. Her line “I think I just figured out why we’re the sidekicks” is told in jest, but in reality I think has a much deeper meaning. In “Two to Go” [6×21] we hear Willow say, “Come on! This is a huge deal for me! Six years as a side man. Now I get to be the Slayer.”
* Xander’s uselessness and abuse. This is addressed very early this season with “The Replacement” [5×03].


[Score]

85/100

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72 thoughts on “Buffy 5×01: Buffy vs. Dracula”

  1. [Note: Starbaby posted this comment on August 3, 2006.]

    When Buffy was drinking Dracula’s blood (I agree with her – gross!) I think that the dark power in his blood fed the dark slayer power in her. Ironically, this then strengthened her to break out of his thrall and give Dracula his drubbing. There were a lot of references by Dracula to the shared dark heart of both Buffy and his own power, and then when she was drinking the image of the first slayer flashed up as she broke out.

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  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 4, 2006.]

    You bring up a good point. But I’d argue that it’s still unclear by your explanation. I’d think drinking Drac’s blood would make her more into his thrall if anything (and Drac seems to think that as well). Why does the image of the First Slayer help snap Buffy out of it suddenly? Sure we can speculate, but the problem is that I felt it was left too unlcear for my tastes. 🙂

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  3. [Note: Jerry posted this comment on August 21, 2006.]

    Why does the image of the first slayer help Buffy snap out of it? Because its a realization of what she is AND what she isnt. Its as if she remembers that she is Buffy, and oh yeah, she can kick the crap out of Dracula. Its a moment of self-realization, an empowerment of her own self, and as the season develops, Buffy tries to incorporate being the slayer with being a woman. She hunts, she loves, she is the slayer, she is a woman, and through it all, her journey of self exploration begins in earnest in Fool For Love. Buffy discovers that she isnt a killer, she isnt what Dracula thought she was, and in that moment when she drinks his blood she is infused with that thought. After that, she wants to know why.

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  4. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 9, 2007.]

    We’ve seen time and time again that Buffy always fights best when she’s angry. Not only does it make her more focused and aggressive, but it actually seems to give her power. I think the blood and darkness business in Buffy Vs. Dracula is our first big overt hint that that darkness is something supernaturally evil (as MikeJer noted, all will be explained in Get It Done, S7). So as I see it, the “darkness” she obtains from Dracula’s blood powers her in exactly the same way (except that it’s even more direct) as the “darkness” she derives from her personal rage.

    As Jerry points out, that isn’t supposed to be obvious and certainly wouldn’t be obvious to Buffy herself. That big Why that MikeJer is raising is the impetus for Buffy’s big voyage of self-discovery that launches Season Five. We only really get an explanation two and a half seasons later. At least, that’s how I see it.

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  5. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 9, 2007.]

    I love this episode myself, by the way. I think it’s definitely the best of the season openers to date (that is, before Bargaining I & II). I agree with MikeJer that it did a great job of introducing the themes and issues of Season Five, while at the same time being very funny and a little scary (the principal theme of Season Five, family, was introduced subversively with the sudden and completely unexplained appearance of Dawn). Season openers had been a weak point of the series until Season Five – Welcome to the Hellmouth is as good as almost anything else in Season One, but that’s not saying much.

    I just have a couple of little piggybacks on points MikeJer made in the review. Regarding Willow, we don’t really need to wait for Season Six to see how much she resents living in Buffy’s shadow and being the sidekick – those issues were raised in Dopplegangland and again with great emphasis in Fear Itself. Here (in Buffy Vs. Dracula) it’s subtle, Willow appears cheerful enough, but the choice of the word “sidekick” is telling (calls back to the line in Fear Itself, “I’m NOT your sidekick!”) and Willow almost immediately follows it with a magic trick to prove to herself that she’s cool and powerful (not the sad little doormat of Season One and Willow’s dream in Restless).

    Another issue subtly raised is Riley’s discomfort with aspects of his relationship with Buffy. The business with the football reminded us of her physical superiority, but it didn’t seem to bother him, and I think that he wasn’t particularly hiding any resentment there (unlike Willow). The resentment he does feel is later in the episode, when Buffy hides her encounter with Dracula from him. He expresses it in the language of concern (and the eternal graduate psych student – transferrence, indeed), but it seems as if he’s taking it personally and we will see later in the season that he has been taking a lot of this stuff personally.

    Riley’s problem about Buffy and Dracula plays as jealousy, and I think there’s some jealousy tangled up in it, some residual feelings about Angel left over from The Yoko Factor. But I think what really bothers Riley here is that Buffy doesn’t confide in him – that her instinct is to hide things from him. Throughout the Scooby scenes (which I think may be so long and numerous for this reason, to establish this point), Buffy pays no more attention to Riley’s concerns than to any of the other Scoobies’ reactions. She treats him as one of the gang, not like someone with whom she has a special relationship and a special reason to confide and trust.

    Riley does a lousy job of parsing his own motives and putting his finger on the problem, but I think that’s it. It keeps happening throughout the early episodes of the season – Buffy doesn’t confide in Riley and keeps him out of the decision loop. It’s not unreasonable for him to think that she should trust him and confide in him more than, say, Xander. The reason she doesn’t is that, bottom line, the only person she really trusts is herself (at least as of Helpless). Her decision-making circle stops at her epidermis. Which is understandable too, but that doesn’t make Riley’s position any easier to bear.

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  6. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 9, 2007.]

    I’d also like to put in a plug for Rudolf Martin’s performance as Dracula in this episode. This was not an easy gig. Everyone has their own idea of Count Dracula, from the tons of words and images on page, stage, and screen about him. Ultimately, Dracula is an image of power that has to be simultaneously threatening and attractive, and distinctly sexual both ways.

    Add to that that this is Buffy’s show, not Dracula’s show, so he also has to be faintly ridiculous, both to keep the episode entertaining and to keep the focus on her. MikeJer found the role overwritten and overplayed, but I think that was the whole point. Martin took it not-quite over the top, exaggerated enough to slide back and forth into comedy but not quite exaggerated enough to drop completely into buffoonery (they saved that for Xander). So that we could feel that Buffy was in real danger, yet still not feel cheated when she announced that “the thrall has gone out of our relationship.” Drac blew it by being enormously overconfident, but that’s a central theme of the character in all its countless incarnations (from Stoker on) and also a characteristic shared by many vampires in BTVS (how many run for it, after all, when they see The Slayer?).

    So it was a tricky line to walk, between viewers’ expectations when they heard the name “Dracula” and the needs of the episode, and I think Martin did a great job. I mentioned elsewhere how funny I found his reading of “Alone – always alone” in Buffy’s room. He cranked up the accent to make it “Alo-en – allvayss alo-en,” and just slathered self-pity all over it – I am sure the intended effect was to make the viewer think, “Oh, shut UP, you big drama queen!” There were dozens of readings like that, just teetering on the edge of farce without ever entirely dropping into it.

    I think Rudolf Martin’s Dracula is one of the best non-recurring guest performances in BTVS, maybe THE best. What’s the competition? Serena Scott Thomas’s Gwendolyn Post in Revelations, Shonda Farr’s April in I Was Made To Love You, Jonathan Woodward’s Holden Webster in Conversations With Dead People? Any others? It’s not fair to compare Andy Umberger’s D’Hoffrin or Harris Yulin’s Quentin Travers, as those characters did eventually recur (even Abraham Benrubi’s Olaf recurred in Selfless).

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  7. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 28, 2007.]

    I really like this episode, it is much better than any other openings so far and I found myself wondering at some point in my first viewing of season 4 why Buffy hadn’t faced Dracula yet. I was also pleased that he wasn’t interested in ending the world as lots of the MOTWs are, instead, he is here for Buffy and I agree with Libmax about Martin’s performance, personally I consider this to be an A episode for many of the reasons stated by Libmax and yourself.

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  8. [Note: jun posted this comment on November 5, 2007.]

    Upon my first two viewings of this episode, I also found the reason for Buffy’s breaking the thrall to be unclear, but now it makes sense.

    What hasn’t been stated above is that Dracula told Buffy that the blood was going to reveal her “true nature.” And so when she drank, she saw the first slayer, she saw herself in full-on hunt mode, and then suddenly her head snaps up and she informs him that this is her true nature.

    It could’ve been the darkness of them both resonating, or it could’ve been that his claim about the true nature was actually correct, and it just manifested in a way he hadn’t expected.

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  9. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 20, 2007.]

    Amazing review, mike. You did a great job introducing us the themes of this season and, although this episode is funny, I love it more because of what says about the characters and what says about the upcoming themes of this wonderful season. The last scene with Giles and Buffy is wonderful.

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  10. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on March 1, 2008.]

    I used to be a ‘Buffy Vs Dracula’ critic, but I’m not anymore. My main problems with the episode that still reside are the fairly weak plot, and some typical Marti dialogue. I think they could’ve at least put a BtVS spin on the concept of Dracula, like they did with other horror classics in the past. The plot just seemed uninventive to me. But with that said, as Mike noted, the plot aided Buffy’s character development (and, to different extents, Giles, Riley and Spike), and that’s quite important.

    God, the title of this episode was just dire, though, wasn’t it? Worst. Title. Ever.

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  11. [Note: lee posted this comment on May 4, 2008.]

    thats a good title. simple, it stands out. I liked the episode alot too, i love it when, throughout buffy, the main vamp/demon characters refer to things that happened hundreds of years ago, Like Anya n Spike talkin bout Drac back in the day. ‘Poncey bugger owes me eleven pounds for one thing’. class act

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  12. [Note: Llinnae posted this comment on June 6, 2008.]

    Wow, I dont understand why someone would dislike this epsiode what with the deep themes and great set up for the rest of the season! My take on the Buffy-drinking-blood scene was that it was making the point that although power is derived from darkness the truly strong can take that power and use it anyway they wish. As the blood surges through her, a part of her curiosity towards that unexplored darkness has been (temporairly) quenched, and a little disgusted by her own desires, that power brings her back to herself, the vampire slayer, not a killer. She is however curious as to why she is drawn to such urges like tasting blood (as she understands that it is more than just Dracula’s thrawl, bringing her to Giles for answers. I didnt think that ambiguious scene was a flaw though, on the contrary thats what I love about the show, the material is open to different interpretations!

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  13. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on June 14, 2008.]

    “thats a good title. simple, it stands out.”

    Do you think? I hate it, it’s so cartoonish and camp, in my opinion. But luckily, titles don’t maketh the episode.

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  14. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on November 6, 2008.]

    Not one, but two pop culture references . . .The Count in Sesame Street (I always loved him – c’ept Xander didn’t do the thunder/lightning after counting) and the Lestat reference.

    Ewww. Xander eating the bugs . . . but loved the way he snatched the jelly doughnut.

    Ok, I guess it’s supposed to be this way, but my pick for the cutest rotates constantly . . . from Willow to Anya to Tara and now I have to put Dawn in the mix.

    LOL – Dracula owning Spike eleven pounds.

    Spike dismissing Dracula’s powers as “gypsy tricks”

    Great physical humor by Xander falling back on his butt when Willow lit the barbecue pit.

    I’m wondering . . . was the cloudburst after Willow lit the pit an aftereffect of her magic or was it Dracula’s arrival?

    Yah, it was corny, but I laughed at the dialog at the end, especially b/w Giles and Riley (Giles: “loathsome creatures”)

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  15. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on November 15, 2008.]

    I’m going to dissent and state that I didn’t like this one much at all. Far from being the best season opener, I’d rate it the worst of those I’ve seen so far (for my money, The Freshman is the best, followed by Welcome to the Hellmouth; though I would add that *none* of the season openers are stand-out brilliant).
    The main problem with the episode is the dialogue, which runs the gamut from dreadful to average. But it has other issues.
    I don’t think Dracula can (given all the expectations of what Dracula ought to be) really be done justice in a single episode. If the writers really wanted to introduce him, they should have at very least given him a 2/3 parter, if not made him the season villain.
    The plot makes little sense, also. Dracula has never been mentioned before, yet it transpires that both Anya and Spike know him (in both cases, purely to give Anya (now on the credits) and Spike some screentime that wasn’t really justified), and that he has all these strange powers normal vampires don’t (which are never explained).
    Then, too, Dracula suddenly seems to lose his awesome powers of turning-into-mist when attacked in the fight at the end, for no apparent reason. And the ending implies, unless I’m totally missing something, that, even staked twice, Dracula hasn’t actually been permanently despatched, and yet no one seems concerned about this.
    Finally the episode is full of supposedly funny bits that actually fall totally flat. The one genuinely funny line in the whole thing is Dracula’s “strange and off-putting” remark to Xander, besides that it’s devoid of humour.

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  16. [Note: Paula posted this comment on November 15, 2008.]

    Andrew, you’re not the only one. I never really liked this episode, for largely the same reasons that you state.

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  17. [Note: Paula posted this comment on January 19, 2009.]

    Just re-watched this last night (I’m starting S5 on my second round of the complete show). I just can’t help feeling that in this episode, both the writing and the acting are off and nothing makes sense. Dracula is annoying and his “special powers” go totally unexplained, as does just about everyone calling him The Dark Prince or whatnot even if they haven’t met him at all (like Riley).

    Just about the only bits I like are the opening, and Willow’s and Buffy’s private conversations with Giles.

    The end scene is a little funny, I always wonder whether the moment when Buffy looks at Dawn strangely just after asking her “What are you doing here?” is when the magic of those monks kicks in, or whether that was at some earlier point in the course of this episode.

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  18. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 29, 2009.]

    Paula @#18, the whole episode has a strange dreamlike quality. I’ve always thought this was thematic overspill from _Restless_, but the tvtropes folks had a much more interesting and bizarre idea: possibly the entire episode never happened at all, and what we’re seeing is reconstructed *memory*. After all, the monks were, at some point in this episode, rewriting everyone’s memories to incorporate Dawn. It’s fairly likely that the final ‘commit’, as it were, happened just before Buffy walked upstairs at the end of the episode, from the ‘what are you doing here?’ confused initial reaction to Dawn (the monks evidently rewrote long-term but not short-term memory, so for a few seconds Dawn was there but Buffy knew that *she* didn’t know who this person was)… but there’s nothing saying that they didn’t rewrite other things before then. That degree of editing probably took some time.

    It’s total wild-assed hypothesising without any real backing in the episode itself, but it’s fun to think about.

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  19. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 20, 2009.]

    So….I used to hate this episode (love the title though). And the reason I used to hate it is because of Drac himself. I never even really thought of Buffy fighting Dracula, but when I saw the title of the first episode, I was psyched!!! I *knew* it was going to be great….and then he turned out to be…boring, ugly, weirdly powerful (without any explanation of where he got these magical powers). I don’t understand Willow saying he was sexy. The man is butt-ugly. He also didn’t have a game-face. And- did he die in the end or not? His character makes no sense.

    However, since I started reading your reviews, Mike, I have learned to look past certain stupid plot mistakes and look at what’s under it to really find the essence that is BtVS. So, I agree with your B-plus. Drac is sooooo disappointing:(

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  20. [Note: O_Hai posted this comment on May 22, 2009.]

    I think Buffy’s reaction to seeing Dracula for the first time is priceless:

    “Get out!”

    Otherwise, nothing special nor horrible about this episode. I felt it was just kind of…well, nothing special.

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  21. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on May 29, 2009.]

    Didn’t know that Rudolf Martin actually played Dracula before, in “Dark Prince: The true Story of Dracula” (2000)! And he also starred as “Anton” together with SMG in “All my children”. I don’t know this series, but there is a scene with them together that really seems to “fit”, even forshadowing some events of Buffy (not intended of course), Kendall/SMG expressing her worries about being “disfunctional in the man-woman-department”; Anton telling her that it’s because she “never had the right teachers” and even kissing her neck! Reaction of Kendall: “I can’t stand it…!” The scene is to be found at Youtube if you search for “All My Children’s Kendall Hart (SMG) and Anton!”

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  22. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on August 19, 2009.]

    My favourite part of this episode was when they were having a scooby meeting after Xander had become Dracula’s emissary and he said something like: “You can’t kill the dark master…….bater.”

    and then moments later refers to him as “the dark prince…..bater”

    That might have been my favourite joke in the whole series.

    Also, for the foreshadowing section, Xander said “and blood, blood is life” which maybe hints at the events of the gift a little bit. It reminded me of Spike’s speech about “it’s always got to be blood”

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  23. [Note: Dino posted this comment on February 3, 2010.]

    I just re-watched the episode and right before Dracula feeds Buffy his blood Buffy’s(or the slayer’s) power is “near [his] own”. Is this Dracula’s ego or an error from the writers?! The slayer is, after all, stronger than vampires. An example would be later in the episode “The Gift” where Spike tries to pick up Olafs hammer but could not, but Buffy picks it up with ease and uses it against Glory!

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  24. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on February 23, 2010.]

    Really good that they didn’t kill Dracula…..as of course they couldn’t.

    Riley “going through” Xander. Giles and the sisters. Riley should have given him more time.

    The introduction of Dawn. I remember being shocked and dismayed when it first aired all those years ago and she grew on me…..during season 7 anyway.

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  25. [Note: sacundim posted this comment on April 8, 2010.]

    Paula @18, Nix @20: I don’t think there’s any good reason to believe that Buffy’s “What are you doing here?” line at the end of the episode is any more, from her perspective, than Buffy asking her sister what she’s doing in her bedroom. We as viewers at that point know more than Buffy does, and can see more significance in the statement. That’s simply dramatic irony—it’s not about what Buffy knows, it’s about what the viewers know that Buffy doesn’t.

    A similar thing happens in the next episode when Dawn ominously says that Buffy has no idea what she is. What happens over the rest of the season leaves no doubt that from Dawn’s perspective, it’s a pretty innocent statement. The statement creates dramatic irony because we, the viewers, know at that point that Buffy doesn’t know that there’s something supernatural about Dawn, and it’s ominous because we don’t yet know what that is, and whether it’s dangerous.

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  26. [Note: Clem’s Kitten Basket posted this comment on July 17, 2010.]

    I can’t remember exactly how I felt about this episode the first time I saw it, but like so many other episodes it has grown over the years. I like it quite a lot now and I see it as a spoof, but respectful – homage with spoof (there’s probably a better wording for it). There are a lot of important and serious stuff presented in a very funny way.

    As for Rudolph Martin, I completely agree with LibMax. Martin’s Dracula is a perfect blend of scary, sexy and funny (okay, he’s hot). So that’s one part that really works for me.

    He’s like a modernised version of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, which brings me to that black and white montage of Spike-posing in Restless, which can be seen as forshadowing Dracula.

    SPIKE: I’ve hired myself out as an attraction.

    GILES: Sideshow freak?

    SPIKE: Well, at least it’s showbiz.

    Says Dracula to me, the film character Dracula, hired out as an attraction, a side-show freak etc. Especially in combination with the things Spike says in this episode:

    But then he got famous, … That glory hound’s done more harm to vampires than any slayer. His story gets out, and suddenly everybody knows how to kill us. You know, the mirror bit? ( A piece of vampire lore made popular by Bram Stoker.)

    RILEY: But he’s not just a regular vampire. I mean, he has special powers, right?

    SPIKE: Nothing but showy gypsy stuff.

    That last line is especially funny, because of Angel and his pesky curse. Anyway, it’s a great scene, but why does Riley actively seek out Spike? He must be really desperate. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.

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  27. [Note: Conor posted this comment on May 3, 2011.]

    I actually thought this was one of the few episodes of the series where the humour actually misses the mark. The normally sharp wit is off kilter. Xander’s ‘amusing’ quips didn’t really do anything for me. Actually felt Nicholas Brandon was pretty poor here – the sole exception being the butt monkey scene. The plot was very weak and I didn’t like this version of Dracula at all (It’s Christopher Lee all the way for me!). The only character who got a good showing was Giles. All in all, a fairly poor episode with some positives, i.e. Buffy’s acknowledgement of her need to learn more about her Slayer background and the outright oddness of Dawn’s sudden appearance just before the closing credits.

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  28. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 3, 2011.]

    Conor, it’s all about theme with “Buffy vs Dracula.” That is where it’s biggest strengths lie, as it quite solidly opens up Season 5 on those terms. I personally felt most of the humor here worked, but that’s definitely in the realm of personal taste. Thematically, though, I find a tremendous amount to appreciate in the episode. And, of course, on Buffy, theme is always eventually cashed in as character development making it all that much more rewarding.

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  29. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on May 4, 2011.]

    This episode gets a B from me. I have quite a few problems with the plot but there is so much crutial character relevance that I can’t put it any lower. We get to see some interesting development, or a fantastic example of where that person is developmentally speaking, for everyone in it (aside from dracula!).

    BUFFY is where a girl of her age should be:at a stage of experimentation with a craving for knowledge and self discovery. However, being the slayer, she has so much more to contend with and to discover in comparison to most girls her age. Having had to grow up so fast she has already made a lot of the mistakes that young adults make and learn from around this age. Considering this, her choice of Riley as a boyfriend makes a lot of sense, he is a steady, stabilising influence. She feels safe and always knows where she is with him. Unfortunately for him she has so much more of her journey to travel before she truely knows herself, and because of this I believe that no relationship would have worked for her at this point in her life (as pointed out by her ‘cookie dough’ analogy in S7). As the slayer there are so many aspects of herself and her powers to explore, along with all the other things which every one of us goes through in growing up, and with all of that to contend with she just doesn’t have the time or inclination to give enough to make a relationship last long-term.

    This is unfortunate for RILEY and we can already see his insecurities surfacing in this episode. The events of this episode are a massive motivator in pushing an already insecure Riley to try to understand what it is about darkness that facinates Buffy. He is becoming more and more aware that he is missing something that Buffy seems to need (or at least craves) in a man. Riley has no dark side, he is genuine, loyal, kind and very much a gentleman, all things that a girl should want. But without a dark side he will never truely understand Buffy. Because of this he searches out this missing part and ultimately causes the enevitable end of their relationship.

    WILLOW is in such a different place from when we first saw her. She is so much more confident and secure in herself. Unfortunately though we can see that a lot of this is due to her use of magic. This episode gives us a great look at where she is and has some hints as to where she may end up if she continues her exploration of her dark side which it seems is inevitable to some point if she wishes to get more and more powerful. I think her fear of Giles leaving for England is due partly to her subconscious awareness of where she may end up if her use of magic isn’t monitored.

    We can see that GILES has realised that buffy no longer needs him. He recognises how much at a loose end he has been and knows he needs to start to work at fulfilling his own life, not just helping Buffy find herself. However at the end of the episode Buffy tells him that although she doesn’t need him as such, she can still lern a lot from him and wishes to do so. This revelation doesn’t prevent Giles from wanting self-fulfillment though, and so brings him to buy The Magic Box.

    This episode is important for XANDER in that it is the breaking point which puts him on the path of sorting his life out, and growing up. He is sick of not being taken seriously and does start on the path of stability and adulthood. We see him get his own place, become serious with Anya and have a stable job which he is good at.

    We can see that the group have become a lot more accepting of ANYA which is nice. And the scene at the beach is a great look at how the group is back together and has embraced Riley, Anya and Tara also. They all seem to get along as friends.

    We see a little of TARA’s insecurities about Willow perhaps just experimenting and really preffering men: ‘You thought Dracula was sexy?’ She is pretty lighthearted with it here, but becomes more insecure as S5 continues.

    SPIKE is clearly very frustrated with the position he is in. He reminisces about the days when he and Dracula were rivals, now he can’t even stand up to Riley. This pushes his development to find a way to have a fulfilling life considering his situation. We see him trying to remove the chip not long after, and he struggles with his identity and his nature through the rest of the series.

    We get to see JOYCE at a loose end again with Buffy heading back to college, but not for long considering….at the end of the episode we get our first glimpse of DAWN!

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  30. [Note: Conor posted this comment on May 9, 2011.]

    Mikejer-

    Oh, I totally agree with you about the overall thematic importance of the episode, but I still think the defective (in my view) portrayal of Dracula and the unsatisfying plot robbed this particular episode of much of its vitality and took away from the end product. Conflating the exact same theme as presented here with a more solidly-written story would have improved this opener considerably.

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  31. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 9, 2011.]

    @Conor:

    I’m no fan of Dracula’s appearance either, as the review points out, but if I let unsatisfying plots bother me a lot I wouldn’t find Buffy as a show nearly as special as I do. I agree it could have and should have been better, but when the character development and thematic relevance are as strong as they are in this episode, I can fairly easily overlook a weaker plot. I think it definitely hurts the episode a bit (hence no ‘A’), but not nearly as much as you seem to. Each to their own, though. 🙂

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  32. [Note: ZIONE posted this comment on September 9, 2011.]

    since im not an english speaker i have to ask… what the hell does “bator” mean??

    that entire exchange with xander is one of the funniest things in the whole series, yet i feel like i have never really gotten it…

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  33. [Note: haywire posted this comment on September 24, 2011.]

    I think the problem with this episode is it is the first of the season. So if you see Dracula, you think he is going to be the big bad of the season! But he is not, he is exactly what Spike says he is, “a ponce” with gypsy powers.

    So you have the Dracula lovers thinking its going to be something cool… and he totally is not.

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  34. [Note: snowflakesaway posted this comment on October 29, 2011.]

    I think when Buffy sucks on Drac’s blood, she sort of remembers who the Slayer is and what the Slayer does, a little bit. That’s why we get the flash of the first slayer. Tasting a vampire’s blood puts her in touch with her self, so Drac’s thrall no longer works now she’s more self confident.

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  35. [Note: Brad posted this comment on December 13, 2011.]

    A very memorable quote that always gives me chills in each episode it occurs in is when Dracula repeats Tara’s narration from “Restless”:

    “You think you know, what you are, what’s to come? You haven’t even begun.”

    Truly powerful foreshadowing of the enormous sacrifice Buffy, (unknown at the time to her), has been preparing to make for the world at the end of this season.

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  36. [Note: Nobody posted this comment on December 31, 2011.]

    Sorry to keep expressing my hate for much-loved episodes, but I really disliked this one. It was weak, boring at times, and Dracula was a total cop-out. He acts like a regular vampire, albeit a conceited one, and his showdown with Buffy was extremely disappointing. Buffy is facing the most famous vampire in history, and the writers couldn’t have even put a small slug-fest between the two in the episode?! It boggles my mind. There were a few funny lines, mainly from Xander, and I agree that it introduced Season Five’s theme quite nicely, but I thought this was too low-key and didn’t contain any real sense of danger. Maybe if they had written Dracula a bit better, and maybe made this a two parter, it would have been better.

    And that’s my rant of the day. I absolutely love your site, MikeJer, and your reviews are exceptional!

    Like

  37. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on June 14, 2012.]

    I think the reason Buffy broke Dracula’s thrall was because he made her realize the true power of the slayer. This realization gave Buffy enough strength and focus to resist his thrall. This sets the stage for Buffy’s character for the entire season. Buffy becomes more focused (she trains a lot more, and explores the nature of her power in more depth) and she becomes stronger.

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  38. [Note: Pineappler posted this comment on June 25, 2012.]

    In your pro list: “Xander hiding behind Buffy when he finds out Dracula’s actually there.”

    “When things get rough, he just hides behind his Buffy.”

    Like

  39. [Note: Ben posted this comment on August 17, 2012.]

    Thanks for a very well thought out review. You have actually made me view this episode on merits that I had missed the first time round. I agree with everything you say actually, and do rate this episode higher for it.

    What really bugs me about this episode though, was Dracula.

    The Buffyverse had, up to this point, clearly established vampires in its mythology. When they drink, they turn on vamp face. Some can be extremely powerful (The Master, Angel, Spike) where some can be pretty pathetic. One stake through the heart and its over. No coming back. Vampires do not change into bats. In fact, vampires in the Buffyverse always seem to be depicted as wild animals, unless of course they are in the more powerful category.

    This episode could have used the established Buffyverse rules and given us a Dracula from them. Instead, it doesn’t. It takes the Dracula from popular culture and shoves him in there with no explanation, apart from Spike’s off hand comment of it all being fancy gypsy stuff. Dracula has no vamp face and seems to just have fangs all the time like the more traditional vampire of old horror movies, which the series had very much done away with at this time. And if there really is some gypsy magic that makes a vampire invincible, Gem of Amarra style, then why the hell is it never mentioned again? Why does Angel (or Angelous as that would make more sense) or Spike never try and track this power down?

    In all, the character of Dracula is incredibly weak and completely ignores everything that has been established in the Buffyverse. This could have been an amazing character and a battle we all wanted to see! Instead, the battle is actually kind of comical, and if it wasn’t for the character developments that Dracula’s presence has in this episode like you have listed above, this would be a pretty ridiculous episode.

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  40. [Note: NewSpock posted this comment on August 17, 2012.]

    Yes, Dracula was quite a bit disappointing. He could and should, of course with a much more powerful and serious characterisation of his, have been turned into the big bad of season 5, instead he merely gets used as a tool to make a single point about the slayer’s roots in darkness.

    The other thing that was disturbing was the lighthearted tone of Riley talking to Buffy after she was bitten by Dracula: “You are under dracula’s thrall”. He said it with a little laughing. That alone dragged the episode down.

    And the last “wrong” thing was when Buffy staked Dracula and he came back again. He should have stayed dead to give it more meaning.

    But otherwise it was entertaining.

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  41. [Note: Janice posted this comment on November 5, 2012.]

    Mike, that’s a very nice call about the “stop/make me” comparisons re: this episode and DT (which is one of my favorite episodes.) I believe that she also repeats the line “What happened last night won’t happen again” to Spike in Tabula Rasa (re: the kiss in OMWF). I enjoyed the way you connected this episode to Buffy’s arc in a way I couldn’t have appreciated watching it for the first time this year. That said, I’m in agreement with Ben and NewSpock – as an episode, this one didn’t quite work for me much for the reasons they mention. For one thing, Dracula’s ridiculous make-up put me off immediately; other BtVS episodes have balanced opposing moods beautifully (The Wish and Tabula Rasa are good examples IMO); but for the contrast of outright parody and psychological characterization to work for me, I think I would have needed more subtle, careful writing. (And better make-up on Drac.)That was my feeling at the time (earlier this year when I watched it); but your write-up actually makes me want to watch this episode again, and I haven’t wanted to do that since I finished the series, which is a testament to a good review.

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  42. [Note: Shask. posted this comment on November 26, 2012.]

    I think she snapped out of it because the slayer line is similar to the vampire line and are highly incompatible. When she drinks his blood, she gets glimpses of the first slayer and killing vamps. Maybe that’s also why we never heard of slayer turned into vamps.They are both human/demon hybridization, even when one’s physical and the other seems to be in essence or mystical.

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  43. [Note: JEL posted this comment on December 8, 2012.]

    Three minor observations:1) When I recently watched Buffy all the way through I had forgotten the opening of this episode by the time I got to “Once More with Feeling”. Watching this now with OMWF fresh in my mind the contrast between Buffy hunting in the opening of this and her attitude expressed in the first song of “just going through the motions” is really stark. 2) There is what I thought a nice bit of character continuity when Riley proposes that they go stake Dracula right then and Xander immediately “seconds the motion”. Xander doesn’t like vampires of any kind. 3) It has been a couple of days since I read everyone’s comments on the breaking of the thrall and the events around it, so this may be just a rehash, but I wanted write down my own thoughts:Dracula thinks that Buffy’s, the Slayer’s, power is “near” his, which I interpret as “near in nature”. He thinks it is darkness. If I remember correctly this is similar to what you postulate that Spike thinks in Season 6; that Buffy’s nature partakes of darkness and she would be happier if she joined him in it. Dracula thinks the same but is also wrong. He also thinks that by drinking his blood Buffy will find her true nature and thus find the darkness. (To reverse the order of what he actually says.) Let’s assume that Dracula is correct about that, that drinking his blood will help her find her true nature. Then the images that follow are indicative of Buffy’s, the Slayer’s, true nature: The hunt, the first Slayer and blood and the sound of the heartbeat. The last two being something that is true for a Slayer but not vampires. The Slayer’s true nature partakes of life (hearts beating) in a way that the vampire’s true nature does not. The Slayer’s power may be near that of the vampires (both come from demons) but not as near as Dracula thinks and not near enough for Dracula’s purpose. By drinking Dracula’s blood, Buffy finds her true nature but doesn’t find the darkness that Dracula expects. (There may be darkness there, but not the same.) And finding her true nature breaks the thrall.Another connection that occurs to me with respect to the image a blood moving and the sound of the beating heart that Buffy sees at the moment she drinks and that is to “The Gift”. What matters there as well is blood flowing, blood as life. So at the very beginning of the season we have an image of blood and at the end of the season it is blood that matters. (As someone else pointed above, there is a lot of discussion of blood in this episode in general and the same at the end of the season.)(On previous viewings I wondered about the image of the blood moving and the beating heart. Now it feels like it makes a little more sense. Even if it is just her blood flowing that she sees (feels?) and her heart beating that she hears. It means she is connected to life. It means this episode is connected to the last episode of the season. Or at least it feels that way in my mind!)

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  44. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 28, 2012.]

    I’m on Season 5! This ep has always been pretty boring to me. But the discussion here gives it some good meaning. I like Xander’s butt-monkey speech. Put his outfits in this episode were pretty horrible.

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  45. [Note: Spuffy4eva posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    I think it’s weird that Michelle Trachtenberg gets added into the credits with only one word, whereas Amber Benson has to wait until her last episode-sort of-to be added in.

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  46. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    Two reasons. Firstly, they knew Dawn was going to be crucially important to this season, so they probably contracted her as a regular from the start, which in turn means she has to be in the credits. (Note how Giles disappears from the credits as soon as he’s no longer a regular, even when in season 7 he plays a pretty big role.)

    Secondly, they did it for the same reason they added Amber Benson in her last episode: to surprise and shock the viewers. They wanted to play the “Buffy suddenly has a little sister” reveal as straight as possible, so they added Michelle Trachtenberg to the credits like she’d always been there.

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  47. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on July 7, 2014.]

    This episode is definitely one of the better season openers in the series run, but I have to agree to the people above who were excited about Drac being in this episode and then dissapointed because he wasn’t as awesome as we thought he’d be. The make-up was so overdone that it was quite obvious that this is fake and it made me think that this might be a spoof of some kind. Dracula defies all the vampire lore in the Buffyverse and we learn nothing about the guy’s anti-vamp ways after this episode. When did he turn? How did he get so popular? Why does he reappear after being staked? Is it all really gypsy stuff? As some people already mentioned above, the Dracula character and arc was handled poorly and is a total hit-and-miss. This could have been a very good season opener and there was so much more they could have done with this. Buffy has a reputation of spinning some cliche and overdone theme around and adding a Buffy Twist. Which is exactly what I kept expecting until we reached the very end of the episode.

    That being said, BtVS tends not to have really good season-openers; I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because the show is best when the story arc heats up and momentum builds and the characters really have something to work with. This one was fun and introduced some good stuff, though, and we got a strong indication of what may be happening this year. The “counter encounter”, Xander’s Drac-voice and mocking jokes, and Buffy’s initial, “Get out!” is pretty good stuff. And I have to agree, loving the humour. I’m glad this show never loses its sense of humour. The “dark master!…Bater.” comment from Xander almost had me falling off the bed in a laughing fit. I mean, yeah, the episode can be a bit silly and derivative but it has a lot of good character moments to cover up. Giles and the chick pit was particularly amusing. Oh, Giles!

    I also noticed that this is the second time Willow has admitted to having an attraction to someone from the male gender AFTER coming out of the closet. First it was with her crush on Giles, and now she finds Dracula sexy. I’m going to assume she’s bisexual and stop confusing myself when it comes to her sexuality from now on. Also relating to Willow, I still don’t get the abrupt thunderstorm thing that just comes up out of nowhere once Willow does the fire spell. Does this have to do with Drac or Willow’s magic going kablooey?

    Buffy is actually pretty kickass throughout the episode. She enjoys hunting and slaying, is hungry for more and her attitude is somewhat Faith-esque. It’s pretty cool to watch, especially considering the time it took for her to accept her fate. Maybe season four was easy on her and the burden of slayerness isn’t too much to carry anymore. I love when she asks Giles to learn more about the other slayers. That’s actually something the show has explored way too little so far. I mean, if I were the slayer, I would totally want to know more about the ones that came before me.

    Also, we can totally see all the themes being set up in this episode’s run itself. You can really tell that the writers really knew what they were doing when they got to Season 5, something that I am grateful for. Also, Anya and Spike were so fun! I’m happy Emma’s a main character now, I can’t get enough of her, I wish she’d had more episodes that revolved around her than simply ‘Selfless’.

    I got so wrapped up in the episode that I almost forgot about that ending. In retrospect, I can say that I think it’s brilliant the way in which Joss introduced Dawn into the fold. It’s done in such a subtle and unusual storytelling manner and really sets up the season well. Twists like that only work if you’re able to explain it in such a way that it makes sense later on, and thankfully it does. I’m excited to see one of my favourite seasons for the second time around.

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  48. [Note: Nix posted this comment on August 8, 2014.]

    Hm. A possible reason for the castle: it hints that major reality-bending is possible in the Buffyverse. Sure, this is space, rather than time and/or memory, but it’s still a vaguely analogous sort of thing, preparing you (without knowing it) to swallow the enormity at the end of the episode.

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  49. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 11, 2015.]

    One thing I’ve officially come to realize about this episode after watching the Supernatural episode Slumber Party is that this episode did a pretty crappy job with the logistics of having Dracula exist in the Buffyverse. While the the fact that Oz exists in the Supernatural universe was also pretty weird they at least went as far as to establish that L. Frank Baum got the idea for the books from the place that he was in contact with. In contrast this episode doesn’t even bother to mention Bram Stoker, just the movies the character is in, which makes actually meeting him all the more weird.

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  50. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on January 11, 2015.]

    They don’t spell it out, but I don’t think they really need to. In the Buffyverse, Dracula is just an ordinary vampire who learned some magic tricks and then got famous. According to Spike “That glory-hound’s done more harm to vampires than any slayer. His story gets out, and suddenly everybody knows how to kill us.”

    So it’s not really a stretch to assume Stoker got some “interview with the vampire” kind of deal to base his story on. No need to really explain the what and how in detail.

    Short version: alternate dimensions in the Supernatural setting require a lot more explanation than a specific vampire existing in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” setting.

    Though internal logic aside, I don’t really think adding Dracula as such adds much to the show’s mythology, and possibly detracts from it. The episode itself has thematic value, but did they really need Dracula for it? Meh.

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  51. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 11, 2015.]

    Sure Dracula wasn’t needed here, but I thought Marti Noxon did a good job poking fun at his presence in the show.

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  52. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on January 12, 2015.]

    Oh, he’s a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong: I like this episode quite a lot by itself, as a Dracula spoof. It does still feel slightly “off” to me, setting wise, and would have preferred a non-Dracula Buffyverse. But that’s purely from a world-building perspective. The episode is pretty good.

    But it’s like your review says: people get hung up on Drac’s presence so much, it’s easy to forget to judge the episode on its own merits.

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  53. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on January 12, 2015.]

    Honestly, this is one of my favorite episodes of the season (which is saying something, ranking it on approximately the same level as The Gift and Fool for Love and et cetera), and the guy who plays Dracula is one of the reasons for that. He’s melodramatic, but he’s not campy. And he sort of banks in on the unreality of the situation.

    Real talk here? Buffy’s worldbuilding is… kinda poopy.

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  54. [Note: Zach posted this comment on January 12, 2015.]

    “Kinda Poopy”

    I chuckled xD

    and I agree, Buffy’s worldbuilding isn’t very good. Borderline adequate.

    But as far as this episode ranking among Fool for Love, The Gift, or The Body? BLASPHEMY!

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  55. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on January 12, 2015.]

    I’ve been trying to cut down on my swearing as of late. When I say poop, I mean a different four-letter euphemism for feces.

    Okay, so all those episodes are better. How about this: this is the best season opener of the show, and possibly cross-Whedonverse. (“City of” is right up there, I suppose. But otherwise? “Serenity” is bleh, “Ghost” and “Vows” are alright but they’re plotted so poorly that I can’t rank them higher.)

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  56. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 12, 2015.]

    I’d argue that Bargaining Pt.1 and definitely Deep Down were a lot stronger than this. While this episode gets points for thematic set-up the whole idea of actually meeting Dracula if just so bizarre. And while Igunana did mention some of the consequences his existence evoked would it have killed them to name drop good ol’ Bram especially since he is apparently responsible for the modern vampire.

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  57. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on January 12, 2015.]

    I would argue that this is the weakest season opener of Buffy. I felt that this episode’s plot was a bit too convenient and its character development predictable. As for the strongest opener of the show, I think either “When She Was Bad” or “Lessons” are the best candidates.

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  58. [Note: Zach posted this comment on January 12, 2015.]

    Definitely “When She Was Bad” I think. Either that or Bargaining (S6).

    This one comes in third for me, I think it’s a fairly good episode, the only thing I really didn’t like was that Dracula kept coming back…

    It just bugged me, I wanted that guy dead man 🙂

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  59. [Note: MustardOfDoom posted this comment on January 16, 2015.]

    i think the episode is pretty good and extremely entertaining. but it doesn’t feel like a season opener at all. It seems like a plot that could have taken place a few episodes in and not have lost much in the way of narrative or structure. It’s a good episode but a strange way to start a season.

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  60. [Note: lolo posted this comment on February 15, 2015.]

    For me the main issue with this episode is that Dracula just is so mundane. There isn’t even any thing really creepy about him except he’s a stalker. I know he shows up in Buffy’s bedroom and bites her, but I don’t know why she is enthralled with him. In comparison with Angelus and Spike without a chip, Dracula is rather boring and not the least bit evil and just slightly spooky. Angelus and chipless Spike are totally unpredictable. Dracula is very predictable and dull.

    I do think there is something to the whole “transfer of feelings from Angel” theme mentioned by Riley because, if I remember correctly from season one’s “Angel” episode, Buffy describes Angel in her diary as having “dark, penetrating eyes”. It looked like Dracula’s eyes are blue to me, not dark. Just a thought….maybe she is thinking about Angel.

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  61. [Note: Random posted this comment on March 15, 2015.]

    I think what a lot of people tend to forget amidst the high drama, melodrama, overarching thematic considerations, metaphors, allegories, and just plain character development, is that this show is Buffy…the…Vampire…Slayer. Even Joss (or, more to the point, Marti) seemed to forget toward the end of the series’ run. But as of the opening of Season 5, Joss still understood the campy roots of the entire concept, and gave us an excellently campy episode mixed in with the usual deeper developments that lift the show above the dross of other supernatural-themed shows. “Buffy vs Dracula”. It was just one of those ideas (and with the perfect title to boot) that had to happen eventually, and had to play up the show’s humorous underpinnings. The jokes scattered throughout, up to and including the hilarious sequence of stakings at the end, all played to the sort of lighter sensibility that Joss excels at writing. I share your befuddlement that so many people rate it so low (though I have a sneaking suspicion that the bulk of said people are too engrossed in the soap operatic aspects and melodramas and dreamy-eyed obsession with romantic pairings to remember to actually enjoy what makes the entire series special). If I wanted mediocre writing or constant unrelenting seriousness, there are other options available. Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s charm lies in the writers’ (and actors’) ability to create layers of drama and humor at the same time.

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  62. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 25, 2016.]

    So I was watching the beach part of Buffy vs Dracula (since Dawn mentioned in Fool for Love that it wasn’t bikini season and I realized that Buffy didn’t wear one in this episode nor in the rest of the series as I recall) and I noticed this red mark thing around her neck and shoulder. I suppose it was the scar from Angel or the Master but it looked a little weird. Can anyone confirm this?

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  63. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on January 25, 2016.]

    It shows up because Dracula traces over it while Buffy’s in his thrall.

    I’m not going to ask why you were seeking out scenes with Buffy in a bikini.

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  64. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on January 25, 2016.]

    I checked the scene where Drac is noticing the Angel scar and it looks nothing like what I saw in the beach scene. That scar was more pink and bite like whereas the thing I saw was more red.

    Still it’s kind of a shame that the only one rocking the bikini was Anya (not that Emma was bad mind you). I mean if we can get Xander rocking the speedo some more bikini action while there on the beach wouldn’t hurt.

    Perhaps Obscurus Lupa’s Baywatch video’s are getting to me.

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  65. [Note: TheDoThatGirl posted this comment on July 5, 2016.]

    I actually re-read Dracula and I have to say that I loved Xander the bug eater. NB’s performance was spot on. He was the perfect, modern Reinfield.

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  66. [Note: Poltargyst posted this comment on December 26, 2016.]

    When I first saw Dracula on the show, I was looking forward to a badass throwdown. I thought Dracula was going to be the big bad of the season. There was a lot they could have done with that. I was disappointed that Buffy just kicked him to the curb so easily at the end. It seemed disrespectful to what should be a really powerful character.

    I’m not concerned that Dracula doesn’t fit how other vampires are depicted. He’s Dracula! He should be different! My thinking is that either his powers are normal for all vampires who live long enough or Drac is a sorcerer in addition to being a vampire who is unique in having these powers. Like if Willow becomes a vampire and keeps up with her magic she could do special stuff too.

    I really would have liked to see scenes between Dracula and Anya and Dracula and Spike. That just would have been fun.

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