Season five is definitely worth splitting; it becomes this whole different thing once Glory (Clare Kramer) is revealed as a god, and it goes from the sometimes amusing to the absolutely devastating all over the place.
10. Don’t get hypnotized by Dracula! (5×01, “Buffy vs. Dracula”)
Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has been lacking in her Slayer training from an educational standpoint. She thinks that Dracula is just like the movies, but she doesn’t know how not to get hypnotized by him. And Xander (Nicholas Brendon) just doesn’t know that because it’s completely a normal thing not to know. Dracula (Rudolph Martin) just exploits their not knowing. Really, this lesson is twofold: know things, and don’t let people take advantage of the things you don’t know.
9. Aliens can be demons too (“Listening to Fear,” 5×09)
There aren’t too many otherplanetary demons in the Buffyverse, but when you’re against a hellgod who you don’t know is a hellgod, they can summon some weird crap. Just because they’re from space doesn’t mean they’re funny and not to be taken seriously.
8. Don’t try to battle with yourself, ever (“The Replacement,” 5×03)
Now, Xander has to do battle with himself because there is literally a physical clone of himself. But this brings up an interesting psychological point, because Xander is doing battle with what he perceives as a more suave and ideal him, and everyone seems to prefer the him that’s not just goofy, stupid him. This is a pretty common Buffyverse theme, battling yourself, but it never ends well. Just embrace all of you and you’ll be totally happier.
7. Having vampires drink from you is not an acceptable recreation activity (“Into the Woods,” 5×10)
Riley (Marc Blucas) feels insecure and detached from Buffy’s life. He feels like he’s not enough for her. So what does he do? He… offers himself up to be nommed from. Which is pretty ridiculous. It’s self-destructive, it serves no purpose, and it’s not like Buffyverse vampires are lax with their own blood being used like a drug.
6. And at least in the Buffyverse, it’s totally cheating (see above)
When Spike (James Marsters) tells Buffy that her boyfriend’s off being someone’s snack, she’s hurt. Like many other fandoms, vampirism in the Buffyverse is often equated with sex; just because Riley’s not having sex with the random vampires, or Buffy’s not nomming on Riley’s blood, doesn’t mean that those are things they can be looking for elsewhere. And his thinking that they are is selfish and immature.
5. Councils of anything are pretty much crap (“Checkpoint,” 5×12)
Buffy has never respected the Watchers’ Council. She respects Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), but that’s because Giles doesn’t do everything 100% by the Watchers’ Council book. He learned quickly that she was going to make her own rules, and adapted. And the Council punished him for that, which is rotten of them. When they show up to investigate the Sunnydale slaying operation, the Council does nothing to make themselves seem better. They ask stupid questions of the other Scoobies (though it makes for some amusing tl;dr on Anya [Emma Caulfield] and Tara [Amber Benson] and Willow’s [Alyson Hannigan] parts). They threaten Giles… again. Buffy doesn’t need them, she can handle this with her friends and herself. And most councils anywhere of anything… are similarly useless, at least in fiction.
4. Sibling rivalry is silly (throughout the season)
At first, we don’t know where the hell Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) came from. She’s just there suddenly and we have to take their word for her being Buffy’s sister. Even as we learn more about Dawn, and as Dawn learns more about Dawn, she and Buffy have a completely unnecessary rivalry. Dawn’s bitter that Buffy is an important Slayer person; Buffy is bitter that their mom (Kristine Sutherland) seems to be nicer to Dawn. There is much squabbling and arguing, and when there’s not that there’s overprotectiveness that feels more duty-born than anything.
3. And best friend/girlfriend rivalry is silly (“Triangle,” 5×11)
The relationship between Willow and Anya has always been a little weird. Anya’s sole purpose in coming to Sunnydale was to avenge Willow and Xander’s affair on Cordelia’s (Charisma Carpenter) behalf, and then she started dating Xander, and it was awkward for everyone. Willow sometimes wants to tell Anya to shut the hell up with her not-properly-human-ness; Anya sometimes wants to tell Willow to shut the hell up with her too-smart-for-her-own-good-ness. But it really serves no purpose, and they don’t need to compete; Xander loves them both in very different ways, and they should try to get along, because the conflict, as evidenced, serves no real purpose.
2. Also, trying to be bad when you’re not is silly (throughout)
Harmony (Mercedes McNab). Baby. You are nobody’s big bad. You’re just a valley girl who became a vampire at high school graduation and is trying to find her place in the world. That place is not wreaking havoc on the Slayer and her pals. That place might be on Angel, but I’m not there yet. But really, Harmony’s attempts at big-badding are laughable. Good laughable, but still laughable.
1. Family ain’t always blood (“Family,” 5×06)
(As this is something I say often, you will have to bear with the slanginess of the declaration.) Tara’s blood relations want to manipulate her into believing herself a demon in need of controlling. That’s not cool on a lot of different levels. But the Scoobies aren’t hearing it. They’re a family unto themselves, and sometimes the family you make is more important than the one you’re born in; that’s a lesson you can never learn too many times.
–your fangirl heroine.