Episode Title: Buffy Vs. Dracula
Original Air Date: September 26, 2000
“Oh, good show, Giles. Uhh… at least you didn’t get knocked out for a change” – Giles
So after the mixed results of the diversive season 4 we have a chance to tidy up some of the chaos as we rejoin the group in something of a down period as they hang out on the beach, where the only slaying being done is to the football Buffy is tossing back and forth with Riley. At the same time Willow shows off some of her new control over the elements as she uses her powers to light the barbecue because that’s not an abuse of power or anything. Still its during these opening scenes its established just how restless Buffy has been as she lays awake at night, sneaking out to slay a vampire before being able to finally sleep.
While the previous seasons have opened to Buffy being in transitional state and usually struggling to deal with the events of the previous season, so its something of a change of pace to see her happy for a change. Of course this being Sunnydale it can’t last as the peace is disrupted by the arrival of the legendary vampire Dracula. Okay Okay this might sound like a crappy cash in but here somehow it works here despite the episode not originally being written to feature Dracula as they envisioned just a generic evil vampire for Buffy to face until writer Marti Noxon suggested Dracula which when Joss Wheldon realised that the rights to Dracula where in the public domain was more than happy to change the story to give us this legendary showdown.
With the Dracula mythos being as overworked as it is, what with years of books, comics and movies to establish his legend and his general abilities that this episode is in many ways writes itself with Xander soon being turned into a bug eating minion for Dracula who has set his eyes on claiming Buffy. What follows is the usual Dracula nonsense as he uses his powers to not only charm Buffy but Anya and Willow aswell, her abilities seemingly even able to overwrite the fact that Willow is a lesbian much to the dismay of Tara. Giles and Riley meanwhile take on the roles traditionally associated with Jonathan and Van Helsing as they attempt to save Buffy from Dracula’s castle which somehow has popped up in Sunnydale with no one realising it was there.
Thankfully the Buffy seduction isn’t as overplayed as to be expected and comes off largely unbelievable thanks to Rudolf Martin being kind of a pasty Dracula making these seduction scenes kind of creepy to watch and left me kind of wishing that they had gone with their original choice of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s husband Freddy Prince Jr. who no doubt would have made these scenes a whole lot more believable. On the plus side we also get a dose of reality thanks to Spike sharing his own connection to Dracula who he besmirches for giving away the weakness of vampires through the popularity of his legend.
Outside of the fun of Buffy battling Dracula this episode is also key in Buffy rediscovering her focus, as she realises through Dracula’s reading her mind that she hasn’t been slaying but instead hunting. After the rogue slayer we got in season 4 with Buffy essentially working her own agenda, flitting with “The Initiative” and generally only having Giles for his knowledge its something of a relief to see her and Giles return to their Slayer / Watcher partnership let alone to see a focused group once more. The real kicker of this episode of course comes with the ending when we are introduced with no warning to Buffy’s little sister Dawn!!
Next Episode: Real Me