Buffy 5×02: Real Me

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: David Fury | Director: David Grossman | Aired: 10/03/2000]

Dawn has finally arrived. Across the internet fans can be found mostly disliking this event. A popular character, Dawn is not. Instead of coming out and just saying what I think of Dawn, I’ll just let the reviews speak my opinion. Here, however, Dawn is intended very much by the writers to be this mysteriously annoying figure in Buffy’s life. This is a really good episode that not only shows us what the Scooby Gang is like with Dawn’s sly integration, but also it gives us a good opportunity to get inside this character’s head. Additionally, we get an update on what Harmony’s been up to for the last year. This turns out to be mostly amusing, but also occassionaly a bit boring. Want more specifics? Lets go then!

The episode opens up with a scene that picks up right where “Buffy vs. Dracula” [5×01] left off: renewing Buffy’s training. I really enjoyed seeing Buffy trying to tap deep into spiritual Slayer powers and instincts she never even knew were there before. Dawn then comes in and ruins everything, annoyingly sticking her head right over Buffy and demanding to leave. I love how the camera is positioned so we get to see Dawn from Buffy’s perspective. Buffy’s expression here is priceless.

The post-credits sequence where we see an ordinary morning in the Summers’ home is equally illuminating. I love the realistic feel to this whole segment where the three of them, Buffy, Joyce, and Dawn, act as a normal family. In most genre shows whenever the writers take extraordinary characters and put them in ordinary situations, they often feel very out of place and not real, or just plain goofy. These characters are so much different though. We see them in a run-of-the-mill situation like getting breakfast and talking about their day and it feels real. That’s the magic of Whedon at work again: characters that have unusual challenges but have the same emotions and problems (even if they’re in disguise) as the rest of us. However, there’s nothing supernatural about this particular interaction at all. This sequence makes me feel cozy with the characters, like I’m right there with them. Pure awesome.

Riley comes over to hang out with Buffy in this sequence, but she failed to tell him that she actually planned a Slayer shopping session with Giles. Riley says he’s not bothered by the inconvenience, and I don’t think he is put out much here, but this is the beginning of a growing stream of these instances of Buffy leaving Riley out of the loop. Eventually it starts to get to him, which culminates in his departure (see “Into the Woods” [5×10] ).

I find Dawn’s voiceovers, which permeate the entire episode, very effective in getting into her state of mind. Right from the start it’s established that she feels alone, left out, and that Buffy gets special attention because she’s the Slayer. It’s also fun how the writers play around with your expectations. “No one knows who I really am. The real me.” While all this dialogue could represent that she knows what she is and that she doesn’t belong there, we know in retrospect that she’s just talking about herself and doesn’t actually know anything. That’s really smart writing. Later on, Dawn’s face is covered with ice cream and she has her monologue about Xander seeing her “like a woman.” This is painful and frustrating to listen to for someone of Dawn’s age, but at the same I understand that the writers originally intended for her to be a lot younger. Here we see Dawn at her most childish state, because I think the writers started writing her closer to her supposed age in subsequent episodes.

While many people just state “Dawn is annoying” and leave it at that, I personally like to try to see where a character is coming from. All the characters, not just my favorite ones (they’re all favorites to an extent anyway). So when looking at Dawn here in retrospect, I can’t help but feel for her because she’s the product of a bunch of monks. The way I see it, how she changes from this point on is all that’s important when looking at her, because all her memories are fake. I’ll get a lot more into this when reviewing “No Place Like Home” [5×05] . Knowing this makes just about every one of these early Dawn scenes even more memorable — they’re her first real memories in life. So when Buffy gets really angry at Dawn for accidentally inviting Harmony in, I have some extra sympathy for everyone including Dawn. Xander and Riley don’t seem to think it’s as big of a deal, but I certainly see Buffy’s point. It’s funny that Dawn hasn’t lived in that house for all those years, everyone just thinks she has. I’d imagine it’s different to actually experience making a mistake rather than just remembering certain lessons.

At the Magic Box I really enjoyed the Tara/Dawn bonding scene. These two can relate because Tara isn’t really part of the Scooby Gang either. The two of them thumb restling is really cute/touching as well. Tara later tells Willow that the “outsider feeling” is tough, but Willow quickly catches on that Tara isn’t talking just about Dawn, but also about how she feels about herself in relation to the Scoobies. This is a recurring thread early on this season that gets addressed in Tara’s ‘acceptance’ episode, “Family” [5×06] .

I was really impressed with the little hints that Buffy can physically feel something is off with Dawn. It’s annoying Buffy that, just recently, Dawn’s “always around,” like Buffy isn’t used to having that added stress always around her. This is a cool way to acknowledge that, physically, she’s not used to having to deal with Dawn being there. It is new even though mentally she thinks Dawn’s always been there.

Anyway, as the flow of this day continues, we see Buffy, who has Giles driving her, forced to take Dawn with her to the Magic Box to get Slayer training supplies. This creates yet another very character-charged interaction that really impresses. Dawn keeps annoying, Giles is trying to impart his wisdom and is having problems with automatic transmission, and there’s classical music on his radio! It’s important to note that Giles admits that not even he is fully prepared to explore the realm they are about to explore. Buffy reassures him she’s completely committed to doing this.

Once they arrive at the shop, we really begin to see that Giles realizes he is hanging around in Sunnydale for a while, and he’s thinking about establishing a future here. He gets a stylish new red car and then gawks at the profit margins for a newly ownerless Magic Box. I like how Buffy cuts off Giles mid-sentence and reminds him that the place is a “death trap.” Giles’ insistent interest in the shop is really fun to watch. “Impressive square footage!” While he is very much ready to go back to England, Buffy takes first priority. It’s not until S6 that he realizes the more he hangs around taking care of things for Buffy, the harder it will be to be able to start learning to handle things on her own. The absence of Joyce is what creates this situation. Right now, though, Giles is going to do all he can for Buffy and put aside some of his wishes to go home.

The other stuff going on in this episode, and where it loses some points, is in the Harmony material. Now, don’t get me wrong. I do like Harmony and find her often entertaining. The idea of her getting her own gang is also certainly amusing. The problem is that the episode focuses a bit on her and she just can’t hold an episode by herself. The good news is that there is some genuine comedy here, which makes this still entertaining enough. I especially loved how they remembered Harmony’s unicorn affection and are allowing her to explore herself as a vampire. Harmony’s excessive stupidity after her group captures Dawn gets a little boring to watch after a while though. Her group slowly gets fed up with her, but them being pretty stupid too, it’s not much better. So the Harmony comedy is light fun but doesn’t really have the same level of substance and quality as the rest of the episode.

The last bit to mention is how Buffy beats up Spike for information on Harmony’s whereabouts. I love how she punches him in the nose again just for the fun of it. And thus continues Spike’s frustrations at not being able to respond to her physical abuse (which we know turns him on in some ways). The episode ends with a wonderful ominous warning at the end from Dawn in her journal entry. “She just thinks I’m her dumb little sister. Boy is she in for a surprise.” I so love that this statement has nothing to do with her just appearing recently. Back to the great writing!


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Crazy guy making reference to Little Miss Muffet (see “Graduation Day Pt. 2” [3×22] ) and giving the audience its first real hint that Dawn hasn’t just appeared for no reason.
+ Dawn’s huge crush on Xander. This just feels…right somehow. Then Anya comes in, “hello there little girl!” Haha.
+ Seriously. The big smiley face on Harmony’s threat letter thrown through the window is awesome.
+ Xander laughing at Harmony when she threatens Buffy at the door. Haha. Then later when Buffy hears about it, she starts laughing uncontrollably too. Fun!
+ Spike also making fun of Harmony’s gang. I like their little chat. It’s amusing that Spike’s guess of how stupid Harmony’s plan probably is actually becomes Harmony’s new plan.
+ Dawn tells the Andrew vamp that if he touches her Buffy will kill him. I love how it happens almost immediately.


[Score]

80/100

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57 thoughts on “Buffy 5×02: Real Me”

  1. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 16, 2007.]

    I was frankly shocked to hear that Dawn was widely hated, until I discovered that some of my friends hated her too.

    The rule seems to be simple: if you had a younger sister with a year-or-five age gap, and you like *her* now, then you’ll like Dawn (probably out of woolly nostalgia). Otherwise you’ll probably hate her because she’s so annoying.

    i.e. this is a very realistic portrayal of a teenage girl. It takes enormous mental effort to realise that Dawn’s annoying as *well* as cute…

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  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 16, 2007.]

    Well, I don’t have have any siblings at all, and I don’t hate Dawn. So it doesn’t work for me. Then again, I’m different than most people. So we’ll just say that’s why. šŸ˜‰

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

    Well, there is a twelve year gap between me and my younger sister(same parents too!) and frankly I think she is adorable, but then she isn’t a teen yet and I won’t be around the house when she is so I guess that doesn’t really count. Non-the-less, I really like Dawn, mostly because of all she goes through, and being tossed into the middle of evil-central, while all the other characters have had four years to process it. I think she has a very strong personality, which really shows up in season seven when Buffy is preoccupied with he potentials, and then how she handles herself not being a potential (don’t remember the specific episode). I think a lot of what she brings to the show is how Buffy or any of the rest of the gang would have grown up living on the hellmouth had they been aware of its presence and yet not been apart of the scoobies. I’m glad they try to keep her innocence intact because it throws into sharp contrast how much of a normal childhood and adolescence Buffy lost when she became a slayer. Ok I’ve rambled long enough.

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

    Another bit of foreshadowing here that wasn’t mentioned:

    When Tara is talking to Willow about the outsider feeling, Willow gives her a hug. Tara’s facing away from her as Willow says “You’re one of the good guys.” Tara’s expression falls and she pulls away, clearly thinking of her demon secret.

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  5. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 11, 2007.]

    I don’t mind Dawn in S5. I understand that she’s supposed to be annoying at times cause of her “newness” (and cause they were intending her to be younger). In S6, though, I cringe every time she comes on the screen. She falls into a pit of teenage whineyness and annoys the crap out of me. Plus, she’s not central to the story arc in S6, so she’s left a little purposeless. But she significantly improves in S7. They finally let Dawn grow up and it makes a world of difference.

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

    This episode is a personal favorite of mine. Character development, Harmony and Dawn. Amazing.
    I have to say that I too don´t understand all the Dawn hate. I think Dawn is a wonderful character and an amazing addition to the series and to this season.

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  7. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on January 27, 2008.]

    actually this is the only season where i truly liked dawn. dawn really irritated me in the sixth season with her whole “i feel so lonely” drama which i couldnt truly understand becuase things seemed no different than before. even worse was the seventh season becuase dawn seemed to have no purpose AT ALL in that and had it not been for a few stand alone episodes, ‘him’ and ‘potential’, i would have forgotten about her completely. i thought her character progression in the fifth season was spot on and i would have loved to see more of that in the other seasons.

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  8. [Note: MsFeasance posted this comment on April 15, 2008.]

    A further bit of foreshadowing/cross-series continuity: Xander and Anya play the game of Life, and Anya complains about being “burdened with a husband and several tiny pink children,” a future she’ll accept in The Gift.
    Years later, in Seth Green’s series Robot Chicken, there’s a sketch about the Game of Life ,which I gratuitously mentioned so I could link to the video.

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  9. [Note: Steph posted this comment on July 7, 2008.]

    I just wanted to point out a specific scene in this episode that seemed to hold a little more symbolism to me than what it really appears.

    Buffy and the gang are walking to the Magic Shop.

    Buffy: So Giles and I worked out a whole schedule around school. A block of time every day to just focus on my new Slayer training.
    Willow: That’s a work ethic. Buffy, you’re developing a work ethic.
    Buffy: Oh, no… Do they make an ointment for that?

    Willow: People got to respect a solid work ethic. Look at you… motivated Buffy eager to soak up learning. You and I are going to have so much fun this semester.
    Buffy: Yeah, that reminds me. With the whole new training schedule… I kinda had to drop a class.
    Willow: That’s understandable. Your slayer studies are way more important.
    Buffy: So I won’t be taking drama with you.
    Willow: What? You have to. You promised.
    Buffy: I know, but Giles said that it just was–

    Willow: The hell with Giles.
    Giles: I can hear you, Willow.
    Willow: Drama is just Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. You can blow off training Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, can’t you?
    Buffy: What happened to “people gotta respect a good work ethic?”
    Willow: Other people, not me. There’s a whole “best friend” loophole.

    “Restless” was but two episodes ago, and so Willow’s discussion of drama class came to mind. In the dream, the drama class for Willow reinforced the idea that she would later lie, act, and be deceitful towards her friends when her magic starts to get out of hand.

    Now… when Buffy tells Willow that she doesn’t have time to take Drama (She doesn’t have TIME to pretend like it’s nothing when Willow’s increases her dangerous magic), Willow is immediately defensive and hurt and actually states, “There’s a whole ‘best friend’ loophole.” It’s almost as if she’s stating for later, “I know it appears to everyone else that my magic is getting out of hand, but you, Buffy, are my best friend and are suppose to take my side.”

    Coincidence? Perhaps. However, the gang is walking TOWARDS a Magic Shop where Willow had backordered more magic supplies. Tara is in the back (not in the conversation) much like her character did not have much of a say when Willow first started getting out of control with her magic. Tara was sort of oblivious when Willow got secret supplies (deer blood) for bringing Buffy back to life. The person that seems to notice Willow’s magic issues first is Giles. So what does Willow say when Buffy states that she can’t take drama because she doesn’t have time? Willow- The hell with Giles…

    Maybe, I’m reading too much into the lines, but I found it very foreshadowing, and it all seemed to fit together.

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  10. [Note: Tony posted this comment on August 6, 2008.]

    I don’t know how you didn’t enjoy the Harmony scenes. I loved them as much as I love that character. And when you say that she can’t hold an episode by herself, have you seen her two episodes on angel where she’s the main focus. Awsome.
    Also, I love the scene where Harmony explains how they aren’t going to kill Dawn, but all the vampires tell her that it won’t matter if they keep her alive or not and how they should kill her. But Harmony still refuses. Just plays with the whole supervillian cliche on how it makes no sense why they do that.
    Annd, was that the actor who played Andrew as a vamp? I thought that too and you mentioned above the Andrew Vamp.

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  11. [Note: Paula posted this comment on October 2, 2008.]

    The whole Spike/Harmony talk pretty much cracks me up. “You look good.” “I feel good.” “I remember.” Hahaha. Spike really gets away with the most outrageous lines (and tones of voice to go with them for that matter).

    One thing I’m surprised at no one ever mentioning is that the opening scene with Buffy and Giles at the gym and Dawn breaking her concentration is a blatantly obvious nod at Star Wars (the old trilogy). This scene so close to one of the Luke/Yoda training scenes in [i]Empire Strikes Back[/i] that just about the only thing missing is Buffy making things move with her mind.

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  12. [Note: Paula posted this comment on October 11, 2008.]

    I just realized that in addition to all the other things that gym scene has with the training scene in The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker and Buffy are also both distracted by their sister! šŸ™‚

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  13. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 22, 2009.]

    I wanted to point out that they all seemed extremely overprotective of Dawn, which, I’m assuming, is a by-product of the monks’ hocus pocus. Like they wouldn’t let her out of their sight! I mean, who needs a babysitter when they’re 14?

    Since everyone is pretty much throwing their opinion in, I will too. I’m one of the Dawn-haters!

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  14. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on July 31, 2009.]

    “The last bit to mention is how Buffy beats up Spike for information on Harmony’s whereabouts. I love how she punches him in the nose again just for the fun of it.”

    Why would you love a scene featuring Buffy acting like a bully?

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  15. [Note: Kate posted this comment on August 4, 2009.]

    Has anyone else noticed that one of Harmonys minions is Tom Lenk, who portrayed Andrew in seasons 6-7? i thought it was very funny to see it, as I watched seasons 6 and 7 before I saw this episode. His voice gives him away.

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  16. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on August 20, 2009.]

    Rosie-I don’t think it’s that bad to bully a vampire. He IS a known murderer after all!

    I always feel like this episode marks the beginning of Anya’s devotion to capitalism. When she’s playing the game of life she’s disappointed at first that she’s tied down by so much money, until Xander explains that this means she’s winning. From this point on, she actively tries to hoard as much money as possible. It’s almost like life IS a game to Anya. If she gets the money and the husband, she wins.

    It also ties in with Xander’s dream in ‘restless’ when she was driving his truck by gesticulating wildly. She wasn’t driving the truck, she was playing at driving the truck, just like she’s not living life, she’s PLAYING life.

    Does anyone else agree? Am I a genius now? I was a bit proud of myself for that!

    And I totally agree with gabriellabelle about Dawn

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  17. [Note: Cat posted this comment on December 26, 2009.]

    I have a younger sister who is five years younger than myself, and I have to say, all I ever want to do when I see Dawn on the screen is hug her! I don’t know why! It’s so weird! I never find her annoying, in fact I found Buffy annoyin when she was going on and on about Dawn inviting the vampire in. I felt so bad for Dawn standing outside and listening.

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  18. [Note: Beth posted this comment on May 12, 2010.]

    I’m on the fence about Dawn. I didn’t mind her in Season Five but agree she gets annoying in Season Six at times. I know Joss gets upset with all the Dawn hate, but didn’t the writers make her deliberately annoying in her first episode? Inviting a vampire in, running outside and getting Anya hurt…it was supposed to be annoying, right? I do like her voiceovers and I feel sorry for her (when she’s not screaming “get out, get out, get OUT!”), but I see both sides.

    I LOVE this episode. Can’t have too much Harmony, for my taste. Not enough Spike, though.

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  19. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    Spot on review, Mike. I too have often thought that Buffy’s high level of intolerance for Dawn in early season 5 is because, on some deep unconscious level, she’s not used to having a sister yet. The point that this episode represents Dawn’s first real memories is interesting too.

    Inserting Dawn could have been very bad, but they did it really well. I always thought that bringing Dawn into the show raises some really interesting questions about the nature of memory, experience, and reality. What does it mean to say that the things that the Scoobies remember of Dawn didn’t happen, when every single character, including Dawn herself, remembers it as if it did happen? Is there any difference between Dawn’s “real” memories and the ones that the monks manufactured? Is it useful to think about Dawn’s insertion as creating a new universe?

    However, I think it was very good that the show didn’t dwell on these questions and left them mostly as subtext. The emotional aspects of creating Dawn, and her ensuing relationship with Buffy (Joss Whedon said he created Dawn so that Buffy’s love interest wouldn’t be a boyfriend) are the focus, and that’s exactly why it works so well.

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  20. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    Exactly fray. It’s also very interesting to think about all the times altered and manufactured realities are used throughout the Buffyverse. One has to wonder if the show we’re watching at any given point hasn’t been altered somehow. It’s first strongly introduced in “The Wish” and then “Superstar” but ends up having much more serious ramifications later on with Dawn’s arrival.

    Then there’s Cyrus Vail in Angel S5 who makes everyone forget about Connor. Vail also ‘builds’ new memories for Connor and his surrogate family. I was just watching A5’s “Origin” the other day and it hit me how related all this is to what happened to Dawn, especially early S5 when Buffy first finds out about it all. I wonder if there’s an Orlon Window somewhere for how things were without Dawn. Vail says “Do you know what an Orlon Window is, Angel? It’s a fascinating little spell. It allows warlocks such as myself to see the past as it once was.” Wesley and Illyria’s conversation about what makes us who we are, in relation to our memory, is utterly fascinating when applying it to Dawn. It’s times like these that I just love the continuity and inter-connectedness of the Buffyverse. šŸ˜€

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  21. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on June 12, 2010.]

    I actually think that Dawn’s appearance is a great twist to the show. It changes Buffy. I think it’s a good thing to have someone for whom you would forfeit your own life. It says a lot about a person’s character. Even though Buffy has some other people she would die for, it is only Dawn at the end that she’s not willing to give up (well, except for Normal Again, when she almost gets her, along with Willow and Xandar, killed). Because even though Buffy says that Angel was the single person she loved the most in Selfless, she killed him in order to save the world, thing she didn’t even consider when it could have been Dawn’s death the one in position to save it. Instead, she gave up her own life (I’m sure she would’ve done the same for Angel if things had been different,as she did when she gave him her blood so that he could live, but I don’t think she would ever let Dawn die, no matter the consequences). So, to conclude my extensive nonsense babbling, I am proud to say that I love Dawn’s character!

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  22. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on July 8, 2010.]

    I think one of the things that creates this Dawn-hate is not so much Dawn, but the change we see in Buffy. When Buffy was an only child, she was a lot more fun and carefree. She had nonsense rants in the past, like about Ted or that jerk professor, but she’d bounce back from them. Once Dawn showed up, Buffy’s rants were more intense because Dawn has been and will always be this part of her life. At first, the change we saw in Buffy was an increase in crabbiness and irritation. Once she found out the truth about Dawn, the change was an over-protectiveness. While the changes in Buffy are certainly understandable, this new Dawn-affected Buffy isn’t the Buffy that many viewers fell in love with.

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  23. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 8, 2010.]

    Elbie, I think what you’re describing is called ‘growing up’ and having to deal with new and unexpected responsibilities. I’d much rather have a show develop its characters realistically than artificially hold them back from growing just keep their personalities more happy. To do otherwise isn’t being true to life. Even with Dawn around Buffy still had quite a bit of fun dialogue from time-to-time. Also, from what I’ve seen, most people really do primarily just hate Dawn.

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  24. [Note: Shiny posted this comment on July 9, 2010.]

    I’m a Dawn-hater, and I’m not ashamed! I actually found her Season 6 whinyness to be a perfect mirror to normal teenagers, who can throw a massive wobbly over nothing at all. In this season, however, she’s… don’t get me wrong, I love the purpose she has, the stories she helps to portray (like the adoption metaphor) and the new dynamic she creates. I love that Buffy starts to really grow up, and the impact it has for the character’s journey. But re-watching the early eps of S5, I’ve managed to pinpoint why she pisses me off so much.

    It’s not necessarily her. She’s infuriating, but she’s supposed to be, and unfortunately I’ve dealt with many teenagers just as irritating. What gets me is how Joyce (and Riley, and soon Willow) reacts. Buffy getting in trouble because Dawn almost saw a dead body? How the HELL is that Buffy’s fault? Joyce forced Buffy to take Dawn with her to the magic shop, and Buffy immediately got Dawn out of the area when they saw a corpse. But she still gets in trouble.

    Little things like Dawn ranting in her voice-over about how hard it is to live with Buffy, while on screen she takes Buffy’s bowl, cereal, then the last of the milk, and Buffy has to put up with it. Saying it was cool of Buffy for not telling on her re: Harmony, but that she’d probably have gotten in more trouble anyway (and let’s face it, she probably would have). Dawn blabbing on and on in the next episode about things Buffy said in confidence, and Willow defending her. Taking credit for Buffy’s pamper-mom platter with Joyce blindly accepting it.

    It’s less about Dawn, who serves as the deliberately annoying foil, and more about how other characters react to her — the unfairness really rankles me. There are times when Dawn deserves a pat on the head or a giant chocolate shake and a big hug, but there are times when people come down on Buffy because of Dawn, and that’s what gets to me. And while I consider MT to be a good actress now, she really hadn’t got the hang of it for the first season or two of Buffy (your mileage may vary) — which may have added to my lack of appreciation for the rather frustrating characters flocking to her defense in the early days.

    I can see why a lot of people would find her endearing, and she really does have her moments (her squeeing over Willow and Tara getting back together always makes me smile!) her earliest appearances bug me. I’m glad they put her into the show, but I’m undecided on their decision to keep her after S5. Like others have said, once she’d served her main purpose, the writers flailed to give her a motivation for the next season. I’d have loved to see something worthwhile happen there; maybe Buffy’s dad getting back in touch and taking Dawn away, which would have been a terrible blow during the bleakest season. Hope that doesn’t make me sound sadistic…

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  25. [Note: SasukeMan posted this comment on November 28, 2010.]

    Hi Mike,

    Love the reviews, as always. I am also enjoying your re-reviews quite a bit. It is quite clear that your writing ability, and the level of your analytic insights increased considerably over the years; so it will be nice to your take on the older episodes.

    I have to say, regarding Dawn, that I agree with Elbie’s comment about Dawn’s effect on the show. I don’t hate the Dawn character, and I sympathize with her struggles a great deal. However, I think Elbie makes a very important point about Dawn’s arrival and its effect on Buffy, the Buffy we knew up to that point. You say you prefer “realistic” development to “artificial” stagnation – a point I agree with wholeheartedly. However, Buffy’s situation – waking up one day with a teenage sister who was magically placed in your reality at the expense of all that you knew and experienced, and being left with the responsibility of protecting that girl and then raising her – is anything but “realistic” or natural. That is, in fact, what gives the story its dramatic weight. Buffy lacks the real experience of having a sister, dealing with her and understanding her – it is nothing but implanted memories (and, as we saw in “Superstar” the ‘real’ Buffy always comes to the surface). Buffy is forced to grow up way too fast and put in a situation that no 20 year old girl ever would (unless, by some crazy turn of events, she managed to successfully adopt a 15-year old girl despite having no independent source of income, etc.). Thus, Dawn’s presence makes it so Buffy can never be the Buffy we once knew. Sure, losing Joyce is a huge blow regardless, but it is only when combined with the overwhelming sense of responsibility regarding Dawn that Buffy mentally collapses at the end of the season. After all, she had bounced back from the death of those around her before (the situation with Angel).

    For me, the difficulty with Dawn is, in part, this effect on Buffy. I sympathize with Buffy a great deal (having gone through similar personal experiences) but I can’t say I am ever particularly taken in by the character again (except in “Life Serial” – cutest alcoholic ever!). More importantly for me, however, is that Dawn forever throws off the chemistry of the Scoobies themselves. The show is – from this point on – never about Buffy and her friends again, it is about Buffy and Dawn (and Spike). Dawn becomes a focal point for Buffy that, in many ways, excludes her friends, which would not necessarily be the case if Buffy, say, was stuck with an ‘accidental’ newborn baby (see the Angel crew and how they come together around baby Connor). I kind of resent the impact Dawn’s intrusion has on the Scoobies because up until then, the writers had done such a great job developing all of the characters. Not to mention, I constantly wonder how the events of seasons 1-4 went down in the new Buffy reality; did anything we saw actually happen in their memories?!

    Sorry for the ramble. Keep up the great work!

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  26. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    SasukeMan, thanks for the interesting comment. I can certainly see your point about the effect Dawn had on Buffy and the show in general, but I think you’re possibly taking my point about realistic development a little too literally. As we all know, Buffy is a fantasy show that uses the supernatural as a springboard for commentary on life, sometimes in a broad sense but often as it relates to the characters and who they are as people. In a literal sense, there’s nothing “realistic” about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    I don’t see how Dawn’s very foreshadowed arrival is any less “realistic” than many of the other supernatural burdens that have befallen Buffy over the years. How is Angel’s soul being expelled after a moment of pure happiness, thereby leaving Buffy with the burden of killing her first lover (and the fallout of that event resulting in a friend’s brutal murder), for example, “realistic” in the way you put it? This is what gives the middle of S2 its dramatic weight, but it isn’t any less fantastical than Dawn’s sudden arrival. Both are events in the characters’ lives that have a dramatic effect on them and those around them — events that irrevocably change them and force them to grow up much faster than one would otherwise expect people of that age to have to. What 16 year-old girl has to deal with the literal weight of the world on her shoulders? The very premise of the show, which has major themes involving the nature of heroism and sacrifice (among many others, of course) running through its veins, puts those accelerated burdens on Buffy fast and frequent. As Buffy grows up and enters young adulthood, the magnitude of the sacrifices she must make grows along with her. As we begin to leave behind our childhood and wade our way through the often murky waters of young adulthood, things get complicated fast and the consequences of our decisions begin to grow exponentially. Buffy as a show reflects this change excellently, only in its signature symbolic and metaphorical fashion.

    The reason why Dawn ultimately works for me is because, like the best of Buffy, she is used as a springboard to evolve the characters — characters which very much do react and develop quite realistically to what her arrival means for them. This, yes, ends up causing Buffy to have to take on a whole new kind of responsibility that will test the limits of who she is both as a person and as a slayer, but not in a way that isn’t an extension of the tests she’s faced before. Dawn’s arrival is very thematically relevant in how she plays into Buffy’s overall arc (i.e. sacrifice and family, for starters), both functioning as an instigator of Buffy’s burgeoning adulthood but also the savior of her childhood, innocence, and future that isn’t tainted by the toll slayer-hood has had on her life. Dawn, both in blood and in the relationship Buffy has built with her since “Real Me” (and not necessarily in those constructed memories), becomes a a very real extension of Buffy herself. Many of these themes permeate Season 5 of Buffy, which is what makes the culmination of all of them and Buffy’s realizations in “The Gift” carry so much emotion and weight.

    The way the group dynamic changes after Dawn’s arrival doesn’t feel like as drastic of a change to me as you claim. While the group reconciled their immediate issues in “Primeval,” that doesn’t change the fact that S4 went to great lengths to show how new, post high school, relationships were causing a separation between this group of old high school friends. The themes and development of S4 are actually quite naturally carried over to S5, and then further evolved.

    While I don’t agree with your premise, I can certainly understand your anxiety over how Buffy’s history has been impacted by this change. The fact that they’re aware that their memories of Dawn are fabricated, though, takes away a lot of the unsettling effect it otherwise it would have had on me. I, too, also occasionally share your curiosity on how earlier events would have played out had Dawn been around, but it’s ultimately an irrelevant tangent as it’s clear that the constructed memories did not, in fact, alter who the characters were as people in any significant way and that all the important moments and conversations in the show’s history went down pretty similar — if not often exactly the same — in their altered memories as to how we saw them. After all, all the same events happened, it’s just that those memories were altered to include the existence of Dawn. Unlike Jonathan in “Superstar,” Dawn never plays a huge role in their memories of what we saw happen earlier in the series, so the whole situation isn’t as disconcerting as it may initially appear.

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  27. [Note: SasukeMan posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for the detailed and intelligent response. I should have known I was welcoming a heavy butt-kicking regarding the thematic aspects of the show – but hey, that’s the fun in debate. For me, Dawn – and season 5 in general – often comes down to general opinion – one’s gut response to what they see on the screen. It never carries the emotional weight of other seasons (I much prefer season 6) mostly because of some of the issues I mentioned before. Your response is fantastic, and I can’t come up with a sufficient counter-argument to all your points (the thematic relevance of Dawn for example) but I will give it a go with the others.

    I am sorry if I was not effective in my discussion of “realism,” but I did not intend, as you infer, to imply that Buffy should be completely realistic – as in, representative of the life of every 16-23 year old. What I meant was that, to me, the show is most interesting when the themes correspond well to the phase of life Buffy is in – when the real is reflected and engaged through the supernatural. I feel relating the unrealism of Dawn to the unrealism of Angel losing his soul is a bit of an overstatement. For example, the Angel story is an excellent case in point of the reality-supernatural connection in the show. Sure, very few teens can claim that their first boy/girlfriend lost his/her soul and tried to destroy the world. At the same time, the experience of being betrayed, possibly used in a sexual relationship is far more common. Angel turning into a “different person” is immediately understandable for those around Buffy (several people, without knowing of Buffy’s supernatural life, are able to thoroughly understand Buffy’s rendition of her relationship with Angel). The story is so effective, in part, because it is an exaggeration of real life.

    On the other hand, the events of season 5 are much harder for me to follow. Single motherhood at age 20 does happen. But single mother to a 15 year old? Less likely? There is the adoption metaphor, but it feels a bit forced to me, and isn’t so relevant to the life of late teen/early twenties girl like Buffy. My point being, Buffy’s experience of first love, her search for identity, her acceptance of her slayer role, her move to college, her slow separation from the Scoobies, her more sexually liberated relationship with Riley, all seem like a logical and reasonable life progression. Losing Joyce is one of the sad realities that many young (many younger than Buffy) people deal with, but the Dawn situation always seemed a bit more forced to me, with less real world relevance. At least, that’s my take, and I know many have alternative opinions in the matter.

    As for the Scoobies’ dynamic, my issue isn’t with them drifting apart. As you correctly point out, this was covered in season 4, well before Dawn shows up. My issue? I actually don’t think it is evolved much in season 5. Xander, Giles, and even Willow are rendered periphery characters for the Dawn/Buffy/Spike centric season, while the former are the characters I have invested in from the beginning. Furthermore, their conversations almost solely revolve around Dawn and that particular issue, leaving little space for any of the other characters to adequately grow, especially after the first part of the season (where we have “The Replacement” and “Family”). Heck, I love “Triangle” becomes it actually puts the spotlight and these other characters for awhile, which is a very nice change of pace for me. Boy, I am rambling. Essentially, what I mean by a change in the group dynamic is that the Scoobies aren’t at all the focal point in the show anymore, and little concern is shown for the group or its relationships. Again, the effect this has on one’s viewing experience depends on the person.

    Finally, about the memory. I don’t feel it is as irrelevant as you claim. Off the top of my head, the spell that brings Dawn into the world is the only mass or single mind alteration spell that: a) is presented as “not so bad,” even as a positive thing; and b) does not become undone at any point. Even Angel’s attempt to save Connor (and indirectly the AI team, since Wesley, for example, did not remember the whole Connor issue) is undone and presented by Cordelia as ‘raping’ the minds of his friends. I find it interesting that the Scoobies show relatively little interest in figuring this stuff out.

    Oh well, hopefully that wasn’t too long.

    Looking forward to discussing it more!

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  28. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    I imagine they would fight the memory change a lot harder if they didn’t know that doing so would destroy Dawn, who -is- an innocent in this and who, artificially or no, they do love.

    I don’t think the memory change is ever portrayed as a “good thing” so much as nobody can ever say that it was not because doing so would really hurt Dawn, who is struggling enough with not being real as it is.

    It gets brought up a time or two. By Giles in the Gift for example, when he tries to convince Buffy Dawn perhaps will have to be killed.

    Still, I agree that this could have been explored more on the show. Instead, after season 5 the entire key/adoption plot kinda falls by the wayside and Dawn instead gets typical teenage-plotlines. A pity, and a missed opportunity I think.

    As for the rest of the discussion, very interesting points on both sides but I think I’ll leave Mike to write another response if he’s so inclined. I’m not sure what to think myself, yet.

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  29. [Note: SasukeMan posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    Fair points Iguana. And let me just add that I am thoroughly enjoying your Angel reviews. Very well written and insightful.

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  30. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    Fun discussion, SasukeMan!

    In regard to your first point, about the “reality-supernatural connection” (thanks for clarifying, by the way!), I’ve got a couple thoughts.

    1. While not necessarily “common,” having a young woman put in a situation where she must care for her younger siblings as if they are her own children due to possibly an absent father and a deceased/sick mother is quite a real thing people actually go through. I recently saw a pretty good movie called Winter’s Bone in which a 16 year-old girl must find her missing father (a drug dealer) so that the house she lives in won’t get taken away from her and the two younger siblings she is forced to care for because her mom is extremely mentally ill. So I definitely wouldn’t say this situation isn’t relatable, even if it isn’t something you personally can directly identify with.

    2. Maybe this is just me, but I don’t need to be able to personally identify with the material in order to have it fully impact me. In all honesty, there is almost nothing in all seven seasons of Buffy that I can personally relate to. I didn’t have any romantic relationships in high school, happily lived at home during college to save myself and my parents money, and went straight into the beginning of a solid career after graduation. I say all this just to show that my experience in no way parallels that of the characters on the show, yet due to the themes, symbolism, subtext, and psychological depth of the characters I am able to step outside myself when thinking about these people and put myself in their shoes even though I’ve never worn them. So while their experience may not parallel mine, I can still fully experience and appreciate them through their eyes. While the situation with Dawn may very well be a bit forced on the surface, I personally feel it was entirely natural to the flow of Buffy’s journey throughout the series, particularly when we consider the thematic underpinnings of what Dawn represents. The usage of Dawn in Season 6 is another discussion entirely though. šŸ™‚

    To comment on Season 5 as a whole, I find it interesting that you feel it doesn’t carry any emotional weight. To me the season carries the most emotional weight in the entire series, with the possible exception of Season 6. The only seasons that really felt lacking in emotional weight for me are Seasons 1, 3 (one of the biggest flaws of the season), and 4. I get pretty teary-eyed every time I see 5×08 – 5×10, 5×16 – 5×17, and then again come 5×21 – 5×22 (with several others that move me, like 5×05 and 5×15). “The Gift” in particular really does a number on me, although that didn’t really happen until my second or third time through the season when all the themes really started to fully coalesce for me. Half of my emotional investment in Season 5 is on the surface (the Joyce stuff) while the other half is entrenched in the rich themes of the season, and what those themes mean for Buffy and say about Buffy (along with the other characters, to a lesser extent).

    On the group dynamic front, I do see things evolving quite nicely from where Season 4 left off. We see Buffy take a step back to focus on her immediate family (both Joyce and Dawn) with a renewed sense of purpose training with Giles. We see Willow and Tara really getting settled into their relationship right as some of Tara’s concerns about Willow start popping up (which carry over into S6). We see Xander and Anya taking their relationship to the next level. Each of these little groups all come together for the plot, but are largely starting to settle into their own independent relationships. With all that said, I’d agree with you that the season is focused on Buffy herself and those in her primary orbit, which happens to be Joyce, Dawn, and Spike. I honestly don’t see a problem with this, as not every season needs to spread its development to every character equally. When a season decides to really develop its title character, even at the expense of some of the others, I think that’s a completely viable option. Now if that development was terrible, I’d be complaining about the lack of attention towards the other characters too. But what Buffy got in Season 5 is nothing short of sheer beauty as far as I’m concerned. I guess I just don’t feel like the other characters got a lack of screen time or development, especially when considering how much of a Buffy/slayer-focused story this was. Maybe I’m a bit biased here, as I find Buffy to be the most compelling and well-developed character on the show, but she’s also the title character.

    My opinion on the memory change is very similar to what Iguana said above. I really don’t think there was much they could do about it, as any kind of reversal would either kill Dawn or remove everyone’s memories of her existence which would leave her completely abandoned. Buffy’s reaction to the news of this violation in “No Place Like Home” was not ‘okay’ — she was furious! But Buffy and the gang come to realize that there’s now an innocent life involved in all of this. I also see the memory violation (while not cool) as a little less severe of what happened over on Angel, as none of the Scoobies’ memories appear to be removed. No data seems to be missing (just added to) and the essence of who they all are remains intact. The memory wipe on Angel fundamentally altered who those people were and huge things that happened to them (e.g. Wesley).

    That’s how I see all of this, at least. šŸ˜€

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  31. [Note: A posted this comment on April 11, 2011.]

    Vamp1: If I dont eat soon I’ll get dizzy.

    Vamp2: Let’s go back to the lair. The census taker might want more action.

    Vamp3: Not me. The night is young, and I’m reading for some action.

    Spike: Happy to oblidge. *punch*

    Foreshadowing of the Riley situation, anyone?

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

    @mike

    ‘While not necessarily “common,” having a young woman put in a situation where she must care for her younger siblings as if they are her own children…. is quite a real thing people actually go through. I recently saw a pretty good movie…. in which a 16 year-old girl…..and the two younger siblings she is forced to care for because her mom is extremely mentally ill.’ – Having just read this comment you wrote (see #32 above), I was shocked at the similarites to my past.

    @SasukeMan: When I was 16 I had to take care of my two younger brothers because my mother was extremely mentally ill. Believe me that the situation of having to jump into the role of guardian to ones siblings at a very young age is something that happens to a lot of people. I find Buffy’s situation after her mother’s death very relatable, it is terrifying knowing that you have to hold things together, and that you are the only thing that is keeping your brothers from having to be taken into care:hostels, group homes or foster care. There is something about this kind of relationship to your siblings that makes you become so protective of them, even if things go back to somewhat normal (in my case as my mother got better and more able to cope)you always feel that extra responsibility towards them. This bond is something that makes buffy’s sacrifice, and her descision to put dawn’s life before saving the world if necessary, something I can understand and totally relate to her emotions knowing that I would feel the same.

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

    ….oh and, more on topic, I agree with the B grade for ‘Real me’. It is on the whole a great introduction to the Dawn situation, but has some real plot issues with Harmony’s attacks. Apart from anything I think it is very out of character for Harmony to be going after Buffy at all.

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  34. [Note: Louisa posted this comment on May 5, 2011.]

    Harmony’s threatening note with the smiley face was hilarious enough to elevate this entire episode into genius comedy. And Giles wondering about the unholy creature that fancies cheap statuary? Great cut to Harmony.

    Yes, Dawn is annoying, but I put up with her the way I will put up with the potentials in Season 7, because the momentum of the season and the series requires them. It’s worth the effort. I felt so pleased when I later recognized Andrew as one of Harmony’s lackeys. Good for Joss for putting him in the season 6 Trio, then later making him a Buffy regular in season 7. Tom Lenk was perfect for that role.

    I love this episode. It has Harmony with Minions, Spike’s comment about “Evil for Dummies,” Giles’s excitement about showing off his new red convertible, and decision to take on the Magic Box as his business, and even the first clue that Dawn is not just Buffy’s little sister. Dawn didn’t understood the curds and whey reference, but Buffy fans picked up on that. Even Buffy’s relationship with Riley shows its weakness here. Everything that’s going on in Sunnydale at this point is addressed.

    This episode is always worth watching. It’s very funny, but important momentum of the story lines are there too. It’s good.

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  35. [Note: andreea posted this comment on March 3, 2012.]

    Just rewached the episode……one of Harmony’s minions it’s the actor that plays Andrew later on…..it’s vamped up but i recongnised his voice :d

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  36. [Note: Ray posted this comment on May 1, 2012.]

    Dawn is an annoying little sister so that in itself is why most people hate her. But for me Dawns appearance changed the outlook of the show. All the characters in Buffy have the memories of them and dawn but we as the viewers don’t. We have to care about this interloper who has not been a part of the show for 4 years now. Someone who Buffy sacrifices her life for. I remember hoping that Dawn would just cease to exist and that the Scoobies could have all their memories back without Dawn being a part of them.

    However now I realize that Dawn was important to the character development of both Buffy and Spike.

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  37. [Note: Helen posted this comment on June 18, 2012.]

    I do like Dawn quite a bit. However, since I started watching Buffy only a year ago, naturally I was exposed to some spoilers like her. As a result, I was prepared for her character and was pleasantly surprised to find out she doesn’t deserve the hate she gets. I like her, even if she “doesn’t do much of anything” as Anya later says, and I find her a character who is easy to sympathize with. I can see where people watching the series as it first aired would dislike her though- she changes the dynamics of the group, and took a couple of episodes to start acting her age.

    My main issue with Dawn is that she seems abruptly forced into the show. I don’t think that MT should have been included in the title credits until after “No Place Like Home” or even later. Kristine Sutherland (Joyce) was never included in the opening sequence despite being in most episodes in the first three seasons, and Dawn serves the same type of role as her for the first half of season 5. Besides the original five, all of the other main characters were recurring for at least half of a season before being placed on the official roster. I’m sure that this had to do with MT’s contract, but it still slightly annoys me.

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  38. [Note: Louisa posted this comment on October 22, 2012.]

    This is one of my favorite episodes for laughs, mostly because of the note “Slayer Come out and Die” with the smiley face and Giles with the car. I also love the verbal sparring between Harmony and Xander. Pure genius. I don’t hate Dawn, but after season 5 I think her character could have been better developed. She just goes from being even more trouble to being mostly irrelevant as the potentials take over the prime spot of being annoying. Oh well.

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  39. [Note: Wolven posted this comment on August 5, 2013.]

    I’m currently on my 3rd viewing of buffy now. 1st time I saw it when I was a young teen and loved it. 2nd time was about 4 years ago. Now I’m watching it alongside angel in the ‘correct’ish order. Amazing shows. This site is great for getting the extra info and connecting all the pieces of the story, understanding the whole character dev etc.

    So would like to say the fact this site is around and people have been commenting for 6/7 or more years is a testament both to the show and to the quality of analysis, review and comments.

    Dawn – I just wanted to add my 2 cents. I’m 27m with 2 younger brothers. When dawn came in it was hard to understand like most people, a bit of a shock. But I really feel love for her character, and I felt that buffy really developed that love for her as well.

    I feel like the hate is quite a superficial reading just because she is seen as annoying by many. But I feel sorry – the poor girl has been magicked into the world, and i felt she’s very fragile. Perhaps my protectiveness or love for my brothers plays into this. I think perhaps its also that sometimes we say or do things we regret – fight or say things that can be harsh, things that stem from insecurities on both sides. My brothers and I are tight, the family is but even that little regret, understanding human sensitivity and fragility makes me appreciate and love dawn and understand that.

    I really think that dawn tested buffy and developed her ability to look after more than herself. In s1-4 it was very much her and ok her friends, but mainly her finding her place in the world and understanding her slayer – in the end realising that she really knows nothing, she needs to learn more, Bout where she came from, her nature etc. that was a real sign of maturity. Her developing her selflessness and in the end her ultimate sacrifice, through developing her love for dawn – caring for her etc is the next major step in maturity.

    Just some thoughts.

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  40. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on September 20, 2013.]

    This is the first Buffy/Angel rematch I’ve done since reading the comics. There is so much fantastic foreshadowing happening for things that they never got around to on tv, but quite clearly had at least thought about doing if they could, and that they are now doing in the comics. Pretty neat to see.

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  41. [Note: alfridito017 posted this comment on September 21, 2013.]

    I like how the story didn’t get to the glory plot/ key plot in the second episode because then it wouldv’e been sudden. Instead we got to know who Dawn is as a person first and what she’s like with her family with their morning and around Buffy’s friends, then “No Place Like Home” comes along where Buffy has to protect “Dawn” from Glory because Dawn is the Key. I hope this makes sense everybody.

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

    I think that, whilst Dawn is incredibly aggravating, it was good for the show to move on and introduce her. I think Trachtenberg does very well with the part. She does get better in S7 but in Season 6 she is so annoying! I mean, Buffy died for her, and she is so ungrateful and self-obsessed that she still thinks Buffy doesn’t love her.

    “Oh, I’m soooo lonely. Get out, Get out, GET OUT!” Not an actual quote but a little contradictory. It’s like she revels in her own angst.

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  43. [Note: Anonymous1 posted this comment on February 11, 2014.]

    I think that part of the issue with Dawn is that Buffy’s personality doesn’t change. Which makes sense, as her memories of Dawn are fake, but does cause a certain clash. Buffy is an only child, and her personality reflects this. A lot of the issues that she has with Dawn come from that perspective. Even when she becomes an older sister, her personality doesn’t reflect this shift. I’m an older sibling myself, and taking care of a younger sibling is engrained in your personality. From the moment they’re born, they become a priority, even if it’s subconscious. A lot of the things that Buffy complains about are things that an older sibling would be used to. They can sometimes be annoying, but not to the extend that Buffy claims. She’s reacting as an only child who’s suddenly forced to share. (Which she is, but it makes the relationship forced) Her protective instinct is part of being the Slayer, rather than part of being a sister. So when she tries to make it part of her role as a sister, it feels out of place.

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  44. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on February 11, 2014.]

    In my opinion, Buffy does sense that Dawn is off. It’s very subtle, yes. However, I remember a quote from Buffy where she says “She’s [Dawn’s] always around.” I think this feeling that Buffy has hints at the possibility of her, on some level, sensing that Dawn isn’t right. While, like I said, it’s subtle, however, Buffy complains so much that it isn’t something that can be overlooked. She is in conflict with Dawn, because Dawn is not supposed to be here. That’s my (somewhat not well supported) opinion of it anyway… šŸ™‚

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

    I really don’t get all the Dawn hate. If there’s one person who I thought I could really relate to on this show, it would be Dawn. I love Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies, but all of them aren’t exactly easy to relate to unless you’ve been put into similar situations. If I were Dawn, I would be grouchy too. And you know what? If I suddenly found myself as the Slayer’s sister, I’d act similar to Dawn. Maybe this makes me pretentious and immature, but I know how it feels like to live in someone else’s shadow. Sure, Dawn’s too young to understand the reality and the danger that comes with the Buffy package, but all of her analysis on the Scoobies was super amusing. Her crush on Xander, her love for Tara and Willow, and the way she rants on about Buffy. We get to see the gang from an outsider’s perspective, and its so fun to see how it varies from what we usually get. I think Dawn was a great addition to the show, her relationship with Buffy, her friendship with Spike and Xander, are really interesting to watch. She DOES get a little whiny in Season 6, but I think we feel that way because Season 6 is a season about Life and Reality and Dawn’s issues just aren’t a big deal compared to Buffy’s angst. Still, she’s shown to be an immature young girl who is just starting to fall into her teens, even though, I guess, technically she’s not even a one year old. Point is, there comes a point in a lot of young girls lives when they’re whiny and annoying, I remember myself when I was 13, and now I cringe at how stupid I was.

    What I love about this episode is how authentic the characters feel. Buffy, the Slayer who saves the world on a daily basis is having Mommy issues because her little sister gets treated better! It makes you feel like you are right in their with the characters! Anyway, I think I can really sympathise with Dawn’s situation, and Buffy’s too. I had fun watching Harmony she’s positively hilarious in this one and I didn’t find myself getting bored at all, but I guess it depends from person to person. I also enjoyed what they’re doing with Giles — the new focus on Buffy’s training, his being seduced by a red convertible, and his interest in taking on the magic shop. And Spike was also funny in this one, I want more!

    I would have given this a B+.

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  46. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on July 8, 2014.]

    First, I think Michelle Trachtenberg is a terrific actress. There are very few scenes in all the episodes where I think she is off – and that is often due to awkwardness in the writing.

    Second, I think that Joyce’s death is caused by the insertion of memories of Dawn into her brain. She only starts complaining about the headaches after Dawn’s arrival.

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  47. [Note: Nix posted this comment on August 9, 2014.]

    I’ve been wondering about the Little Miss Muffett / curds and whey reference for ages, and I think I’ve finally got it. Curds and whey are produced by adding acid to milk, thus splitting a single thing (milk) into two immiscible substances. Sound like Dawn and post-Dawn-creation Buffy much? (You’d think the process doesn’t change Buffy much, but, oh, it does. Not directly, perhaps, but the responsibility of looking after Dawn after Joyce’s death soon changes her radically.)

    Going back to the nursery rhyme… the next line talks about a spider sitting down beside her. Spiders are singleminded predators, suck the life out of entrapped prey, and are not notably subtle (despite their reputation in popular culture). Sounds more than a bit Gloryish to me, though her obsession with appearance is not terribly spiderish šŸ™‚

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  48. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on January 19, 2015.]

    My only complaint with this episode is that Joyce getting mad at Buffy for “bringing Dawn to a crime scene” is incredibly illogical. First, Buffy begged to not have to take Dawn with her on her slayer duties, but Joyce forced her to. Joyce should know that Buffy tends to run into traumatizing scenes whenever she’s doing her slayer business. Secondly, Buffy had no way of knowing that there was going to be a dead body in the magic shop! She didn’t bring Dawn to a dead body on purpose, and once she realized it was there she rushed Dawn outside before she got a good look. Buffy didn’t do anything wrong and has nothing to apologize for.

    I have a hard time believing that Joyce could possibly be this dense. She’s not exactly a great parent, but she’s not incapable of following basic rules of logic in order to properly assign blame, either.

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  49. [Note: Courtney posted this comment on May 1, 2015.]

    Dawn’s age was supposed to be about 14 when she showed up? I was the exact same age as her when this season came on, and I even thought she was annoying. I didn’t start liking her until Season 7, when she started growing up. Cause before that I just spent the entire time yelling at the screen for her to stop whining and shut up. Lol

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  50. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on May 1, 2015.]

    Her original age was supposed to be 12 as is revealed in the season 6 DVD commentary. They ended up hiring Michelle and thus had to increase her age. As such, a lot of her character as was laid out before her hiring comes across as being less mature. Once her character was shown to be this way in the first few scripts, they couldn’t go back and have her magically become more mature for later episodes. Admittedly, they should have made it a priority to develop her character more so as to get up to that level of maturity faster in believable fashion. But alas, they didn’t unfortunately.

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  51. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 8, 2015.]

    I think it’s safe to say that characters like Dawn and Riley who are brought in on the show mid-run didn’t work as well as other ones like Spike and Anya outside of the latter’s subtle integration is that the former didn’t really add much to the show outside of giving Buffy another dynamic to work off or some kind of plot related crap. The latter group worked cause they added a lot of good humour and added to show as a whole with their different attitudes and such whereas the former group only gave Buffy a new dynamic and that was about it. Even Castiel despite his no-so subtle introduction to Supernatural managed to be far more successful than Dawn and Riley since he felt like a wholly unique being in that universe with his own goals and what not even if he was mostly there at first for plot reasons and to affect Dean’s path. If anything that’s why Dawn and Riley really failed in comparison to everyone else, it wasn’t the actors, it wasn’t even that they were THAT bad as characters, it’s that they just weren’t that successful as characters in their own right.

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  52. [Note: Paula posted this comment on February 25, 2016.]

    I disagree with Harmony not being able to take on an episode all by herself, proof on (Disharmony and Harm’s Way) which are both pretty decent episodes, although they are both on Angel I find her character very entertaining and great for comedic relief.
    You have a point though because this episode was about kind of introducing Dawn and her relationships with the scoobies and with Harmony it just feels like a lot is going on without a greater plot.

    I must confess, I disliked Dawn in Season 5 because she is just too childish and annoying however in Season 7 she is one of the best characters and you can clearly see her development during those three seasons. Even if I disliked her, I think she was introduced pretty smoothly which is something weird to say refering to a “new” sister to main character of a show in its 5th season

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  53. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on April 25, 2016.]

    I personally love season 5, but I think this in spite of the Dawn character rather than being assisted by it. Dawn is put into the show for a few reasons, and none really for me justify putting a completely new character into the mix for what was almost the final season of the show.

    1) Dawn is an item, a damsel to be protected. A good measure of whether characters have worth in fiction is their interchangeability with a paperweight that has sentimental value. It’s obvious to me that as Dawn doesn’t really have any abilities or any actual contributions to make this season besides be protected, be captured and then rescued, the character is largely redundant. As was put on another site that examines fiction from a writer’s perspective, Dawn could literally be an actual bunch of keys that Buffy is protecting and it would have no impact on the main arc of this season. It would actually make the Key a lot easier to hide and a lot less trouble. This was a BIG mistake by the writing staff and created a character that was central to the plot of a season without actually contributing to it in any way, and being entirely redundant in the last two seasons. Glory should have been given a reason to want to attack Buffy other than ‘you have something of mine!!’ Buffy didn’t need to create a major character just to use them as a prop.

    2) Dawn exists to be the ‘annoying little sister’ trope that I thought had disappeared from genre fiction. She’s more of a soap opera character than one that belongs on Buffy. In S5 she seems to exist purely to annoy, and her dialogue reflects that. I don’t think it has any bearing whether you had a younger sibling or not; irritating characters are irritating whatever the angle.

    3) Dawn from S5 onward becomes a focal point for the Scoobies. S4 ended with a shift from a group of friends to a slightly dysfunctional family. The character also exists to provide more angst to Buffy once her mother dies. Heaven forbid Buffy would have to be by herself once her parent dies, forced to cope on her own and lean more heavily on her friends for support. Instead, everything has to be viewed through the prism of Dawn.

    This character is also one of the reasons the show takes a nosedive into S6, because a lot of characters are stripped out of Buffy in that season. With the writers’ focus shifting heavily towards Buffy and Spike during S5 and even more in S6, we had to have fewer characters to share the limelight. Unfortunately this also means we get terrible episodes like ‘All the Way’ which is really a poor attempt at making the character seem important. After S5, there is literally very little reason for Dawn to be there except to be highly annoying, which the writers at least acknowledge during the Dark Willow episodes. Willow even suggests in ‘Two to Go’ that perhaps she should just turn Dawn back into a ball of energy, it only to STOP THE WHINING. She even says it would probably good for Dawn to be the Key again, which for me is a highly telling piece of dialogue that suggests they knew they weren’t going anywhere with this character, and never would. It’s only the comics that Dawn starts becoming a useful member of the gang, and becomes important to Xander, which is key to the plot of the S9 story.

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