Buffy: Buffy vs. Dracula

Buffy: "You know, I really think the thrall has gone out of our relationship."

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 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.

I really enjoyed Buffy's "count encounter" and what they did with Dracula; they cast a seriously gorgeous guy and I think he was able to pull it off. It was fun the way they put in references to all those Dracula plot elements, with Xander as Renfield, Giles with the sisters, and the magically appearing castle. I loved Xander doing the Count from Sesame Street. And of course, there were also some wonderful zingers: "I really think the thrall has gone out of our relationship." "A good Sunnydale rule of thumb: avoid white-skinned men with capes." "No more chick-pit for you."

But I also thought it was jarring for Riley to be playing the straight man fearless vampire hunter while Buffy, Giles, and the Slayerettes turned into Drac's comic sidekicks. Wouldn't it have been much more in character for Giles to figure out what was behind Buffy's scarf? Plus I just don't see Buffy letting Drac bite her the way Angel did. It was a much different situation with Angel, not just an attraction to a gorgeous, unusual vamp in a black coat.

On the serious side, it was about time that Buffy asked Giles to be her Watcher again. She really does need him. What is a Slayer, after all? Buffy most certainly is a hunter and a killer like Dracula said, when you come right down to it. If Slayers tend to die young, do they develop into something else if they manage to survive? I noticed that Buffy sounded a lot like Faith a few times during this episode; I'm really looking forward to Buffy the Vampire Slayer exploring the issue of the darker side of Slayer powers and the possibility of being tempted by immortality.

Finally, I like the way they just snuck Buffy's new "little sister" in there. She so obviously wasn't there earlier in the episode when we saw Buffy and Joyce eating dinner alone and Joyce was talking about how lonely she'll be when Buffy went back to school, so somehow Dawn sneaked her way in there sometime during this episode. I'm really interested in seeing what they do with this story line.

Bits and pieces:

-- I thought it was cool that they added references to other established vamp universes (the Masquerade, with references to "kindred" and "embrace," as well as the "pimply, overweight vamps calling themselves Lestat").

-- Emma Caulfield is now in the official cast. And speaking of Emma Caulfield, it's a shame they didn't show Anya and Drac together, since they actually knew each other once.

-- Willow's hair just gets shorter every season. She also seems to be dressing sexier and using more make-up. Hubba hubba.

-- Spike's crypt has gotten a lot more homey. I like it.

-- It looks like Xander might finally be ready to do something about his life. Yay!

-- Scanning an entire library usually takes a couple of years and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities; it's not exactly a project that Willow could whip through during the summer. Sorry, the librarian in me just has to come out sometimes.

Quotes:

Giles: "Thank you, Willow. Obstinate bloody machine simply refused to work for me."
Willow: "Just call me the computer whisperer."

Buffy: "Who are you?"
Dracula: "I apologize. I assumed you knew. I am Dracula."
Buffy: "Get out!"

Buffy: "So lemme get this straight. You're ... Dracula. The guy, the count."
Dracula: "I am."
Buffy: "And you're sure this isn't just some fanboy thing? Cause I've fought more than a couple of pimply overweight vamps that called themselves Lestat."

Xander: "Look who's got a bad case of dark prince envy."
Dracula: "I have no interest in you. Leave us."
Xander: "No, we're not going to (in Dracula's accent) 'leave you'. And where'd you get that accent, Sesame Street? Vun, two, three -- three victims. Mwa ha ha!"

Joyce: "He seemed so nice and normal. A little pale."
Willow: "A good Sunnydale rule of thumb? Avoid white-skinned men in capes."

Giles: "Oh, my shoe. Silly me, I'll just pop..."
Riley: "No no no, sir! No more chick pit for you."

Riley: "Buffy! You okay?"
Buffy: "Yeah. Chock full of free will."
Giles: "And Dracula?"
Buffy: "Eurotrashed."

Three out of four stakes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I loved that they got "Anton" and "Kendall" back together! I used to watch All My Children back in the day when SMG was Kendall and Rudolph Martin was Anton and their characters were in love.

So when Dracula appeared, I was like "Hey, it's Anton! Awesome!" :)

MovieFanGirl said...

Cool! I like the episode Buffy vs Dracula, and Rudolf Martin sure did an awesome job as Dracula, too. :)

The one part of Buffy vs Dracula that's really inspiring for me (since I write fanfiction, and crossovers, too) is the part where Buffy awakens to find Dracula in her bedroom. She is helpless against his powers and unable to stop him from biting her. Very intriguing and cool! ;)

Miguel said...

I wasn't a big fan of this episode the first time around for some reason, but this time I really enjoyed it. Everybody falling for Dracula's charm was a hoot, especially Xander, and I enjoyed hearing about Anya and Spike's separate encounters with the "Prince of Darkness".

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 favorite seasons once again.

ChrisB said...

While this episode can be a bit silly and derivative, there are a lot of fun moments. Giles and the chick pit always makes me laugh out loud.

What makes this one an exceptional season opener is that we can already see where the season is headed -- but in a good way. Giles and Buffy need to work together; Xander needs to grow up, not have the funny syphilis but a proper girlfriend; Tara and Willow need to explore their relationship; Riley needs to figure out where he fits in to all this.

Unfortunately, Dawn is among my least favorite characters in the Buffy universe. I always mentally sigh when I get to the beginning of season five. The upside is Spike's new crypt hints that he will be around much more this season.

Josie Kafka said...

I really like Riley in this episode, with "That's thrall!" and his "okeydokey" after punching Xander.

Sometimes--not that often--I do a Count from Sesame Street voice. But I'm not really doing the Count. I'm doing Xander doing the Count.

And I'm the only one who gets the joke. :-(

Annie said...

Great fun episode, ruined a bit by the arrival of scrappy doo at the end... not much of a Dawn fan here.

I think Xander is fab in this one, I love his outburst once he is no longer under Dracula's power. I'd also forgot how good looking Dracula is, so that was a nice surprise.

Look forward to more re-watching in May, unlikely that I will not be watching any Buffy between now and then though.

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Season five spoilers are posted here.

Lamounier said...

This episode is such a strange beast. It introduces season five’s themes very nicely, it has a great villain (in theory, at least), it feels like a natural continuation of season four, yet it’s very matter of fact, as if it was just another stand alone, not the season premiere.

I love the teaser, with Buffy going on the hunt in the middle of the night. There are so many kick ass women on TV nowadays that it’s easy to forget Buffy was a pioneer, but the sequence of Buffy running to catch that vamp always makes me excited. It’s such a callback to how Joss created Buffy the character: the blond girl chases and kills the monster, not the other way around. Great way to start the season.

The rest of the episode is pretty good too, with a lot of comedy in it. Not a huge fan of Xander eating bugs, but Willow cracks me up so much while being cute at the same time when she’s trying to make Giles feel relevant to the group. Another great moment is Buffy’s “get out” reaction to Dracula.

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.

If I have a complaint about this episode, it’s this: Dracula takes himself too seriously. It’s fun when the characters are making joke at his expense, but by the third act the characters aren’t making jokes anymore and it downgrades the episode a little. The showdown is pretty great, though.

Last but not least, Dawn! I really like Dawn and I’m so glad we’re finally at season five. I do love this season and I’m looking forward to the rewatch. :)

Josie Kafka said...

Season Five is fun, but rough. So many emotions. Or "feels," as the kids call them these days.

Bea said...

This one worked for me better in the re-watch.Perhaps knowing the full season arc helps accept a silly opener like this one?

Any case, it was fun, and it actually did a pretty good job of introducing the main themes of the season, as Lamounier mentioned.

I love the introduction of Dawn. It's so jarring to suddenly introduce this character into such a established universe in the way they do, like, yep, totally was here before, didn't you see me?

I'm ready for this season, yeah!

Jane said...

I had trouble with the whole Dracula thing, it kind of felt like a character had wandered in from another production. Not the worst season opener for me but that is mostly due to the whole Dawn intro. I love the ballsy feeling of them just inverting the trope of the kid in a tv family who just disappears one day and is never heard from again. Like I said in my Angel comment for "Judgement," the writing just feels fearless when they go for something in a big way like that.

pucklady said...

I'm completely unspoiled, so I have no idea who Dawn is. Well, since she's the third face on the Buffy logo, I'm guessing she's pretty important. But my first thought was, Cousin Oliver!

drnanamom said...

Yeah season five! This episode is one of my favourites because it takes the whole myth that this show is built on and does its own version. Only Buffy could do something like that in such a fun and entertaining way. So many fun little bits - like the scene with Joyce on the stairs explaining why she let Dracula in and talking about giving up on men and Tara and Willow's reaction. I agree that sometimes you forget how forward thinking this show was in its treatment of so many themes and issues. So glad the re-watch is back.

AndyDecker said...

When I first watched it I was a little disappointed that they made Dracula such a joke. But in hindsight it was the best decision. If you take the character seriously you had to put him in more episodes, and frankly Xander's Sesame Street joke made a good argument why this was the best take.

I love this season. It had so many great ideas and it mostly worked like a clockwork. So many wonderful episodes.

Docnaz said...

Just to let you guys know, I am torn between jumping ahead and plowing through. I am only on Season 2 episode 2, but I am going to try to catch up. My 12 yo started with me and she is already on Season 5 and started watching Angel without me even mentioning it to her, lol.

Billie Doux said...

Docnaz, if it helps, I think you should plow through. Seasons 2 and 3 are just excellent and there's a lot further on that probably won't make a lot of sense if you don't see them first. You can always post comments later -- they'll be here.

Docnaz said...

End of Season 2. Aim am making progress,lol.

magritte said...

Mixed feelings about the episode. Although it had its moments, it felt a little silly and Dracula doesn't really fit well with the show's take on vampires. What really struck me was that Dracula says almost exactly the same thing to her as Tara (in her dream) in Restless: You don't know what you really are, what you will become. I remember thinking how strange it was that Tara would figure prominently in Buffy's dream when she hardly knows her, it would be like Riley appearing in Giles dream. Is there more to Tara than it appears?