The fifth season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” introduced the character of Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg). Dawn is the sister of Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Now, if you have been watching for the first four seasons, you know that Buffy doesn’t have a sister. She is an only child. But, if you have been watching the show for several seasons now, you may also have noticed some odd things. It began near the end of Season Three, where we see Buffy and Faith (Eliza Dushku) talking. There is a flash of something on the bed, so quick that we can only get a hint that it is a person, but it is never explained. In Season Four, there is more clues that something or someone is coming and Buffy has dreams of preparing a bed for someone and in that dream Tara (Amber Benson) mentions the word “Dawn”, though we don’t know at the time that what she is referring to is Buffy’s sister.
Things are explained in due course, but the set up for this is that at the start of the season everyone is acting as if they have known Dawn for years and she has a family history. There is a reason for this, of course, but telling what the reason is would be spoiling the fun of discovering this fresh.
Season Five brings the characters back home again after the fourth season focusing on college (and the first three working around high school). There are several key elements introduced. The first is obviously Dawn, and Buffy’s relationship with her. This also changes the family dynamic with Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), of course. Another key element is the Big Bad for the Season, Glory (Clare Kramer). Telling too much about Glory would ruin nearly all of the surprises for the season. As in all of the seasons, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is ultimately rooted in the lives of the characters and while they are out killing vampires and fighting demons, the characters are also dealing the mundane details and facts of ordinary life, in all facets of life. This has been one of the strengths of the show (and this season, in heartbreaking detail).
I hesitate to say that any one season is “superior” to another since this is my favorite program. This season is slightly different than Season Four in that this time there is more of a direct storyline progression that Season Five is following. The Fourth Season was more a collection of episodes that tracked the emotional growth of the characters, but not really against a Big Bad. Season Five ended in such an incredible way that, some have suggested, it would have been the perfect place to have ended the series. While I agree that it would be a perfect conclusion, I am glad that I have two more seasons to watch. There are so many strong episodes in Season Five that it is tough to highlight just a couple, but some episodes of note are “The Body”, “The Gift”, and “Family.” Despite the fact that this is a show about a “Vampire Slayer”, this show is about so much more and is much deeper (and better) than the title might suggest.