Start of Season 5 (5.1 - 5.11)
5.1 Buffy vs Dracula
We see Sunnydale's beach again, for the first time since high school. As it's close enough for the high school students to hang out at after school, it's surprising they don't go more often.
BUFFY: Hey, check you out! Witch-fu!
Giles breaks the alarming news that he wants to go back to England to "get a life".
BUFFY Do you know what a slayer is?
DRACULA: Do you?
Xander makes Sesame-Street fun of Dracula who makes a point of turning into a bat in front of them all then recruiting Xander next time he's alone.
DRACULA: Serve me well. You will be rewarded. I will make you an immortal. A child of darkness that feeds on life itself... on blood.
XANDER: Blood? Yes, yes! I will serve you, your excellent spookiness. Or master. I'll just stick with master.
DRACULA: You are strange and off-putting. Go now.
I like the way Dracula enters a room as a cold mist even when no-one's watching.
RILEY: What'd I tell you? That's thrall.
The thrall is played for laughs, but the moment when Joyce tells Willow and Tara she's tempted to give up men is just corny, and the unexplained appearance of a castle is left unexplained, but not unremarked upon.
RILEY: I've lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now. Know what I've never noticed before?
GILES: Uh, a castle?
And Giles comments on the fact that he "didn't get knocked out for once". Nowadays they call this sort of thing "jumping the shark".
GILES: And Dracula?
The scene where Buffy asks Giles to be her Watcher again is kind of touching, though. And then it's time for Dawn.
5.2 Real Me
The diary-themed episode. In spite of being a Watcher again, Giles has not gone back to the tweed of seasons 1-3; instead he has a leather jacket and a red sports car.
MADMAN: I know you! Curds and whey. I know what you are - you don't belong here!
...a reference to Buffy's dream in Graduation Day, Part 2
Giles is interested in the profit margins of the Magic Box, Harmony has minions, and Dawn has a crush on Xander. Dawn gets captured, Buffy has to rescue her, and it's back to normal slayage after the worryingly dodgy dialogue and self-referential non-laughs of the Dracula episode.
5.3 The Replacement
This week's demon is impressively glowy - in fact, the CGI has taken a definite step up this season - in the previous episode we saw every vampire turn to dust (with skeletons, even) instead of just seeing one and hearing the sound-effect for the rest.
ANYA: We can have the Scooby meetings in the living room, and Giles can explain the boring things over there.
For some reason, whenever we go to Giles' place, we get an outdoor establishing shot - this was often the case in season 4 and is continuing with shots of the Magic Box now Giles has bought it. I suppose we did get the occasional outside view of Sunnydale High, but it was pretty rare. The shots of the residential area where Giles lives (there's another one in this episode) are more interesting - they show Sunnydale to be a hilly, wooded town. (Also, it's raining again. Did it ever rain in Sunnydale before this year?)
GILES: I said, "Oh, dear lord."
BUFFY: You always say that.
GILES: Well, it's always important. Neither Xander is a demon.
WILLOW: Um... is one of them a robot?
I think this is one of the better episodes actually - it could have been treated in a corny way but isn't, and it moves Xander's story on in unexpected ways - it's interesting.
RILEY: Psychologically, this is fascinating. Doesn't it make everyone want to lock them in separate rooms and do experiments on them?
5.4 Out of My Mind
BUFFY: Thank you guys so much. You're like my fairy godmother and Santa Claus and Q all wrapped up into one. ... Q from Bond, not Star Trek.
It's very hard to keep in mind that Harmony is evil (or at least, any eviller than she was in high school).
SPIKE: Taking up smoking, are you?
HARMONY: I am a villain, Spike, hello?
Another establishing shot (of night falling on Sunnydale). I'm sure we're getting more of these this season. Xander gets to look for Riley at the docks for some reason, and Willow gets the high school.
TARA: This place kinda creeps me out.
WILLOW: You should've been here when it was a school.
Buffy pays Spike to search the caves and then, strangely, searches them herself.
RILEY: Just another guy.
BUFFY: And that's not enough for you?
RILEY: It's not enough for you.
BUFFY: Why would you say that?
I'm far from convinced that people have brain surgery without something to stop them moving their head, or that chips "tied directly into the central nervous system" can be fixed under local anaesthetic (or disabled with a broken bottle, for that matter). I can suspend disbelief in people reanimating bodies made of parts, or surviving for decades as humanoid robots - it's no doubt thanks to mystical hellmouth energies - but not when it comes to medical science superpowers apparently.
5.5. No Place like Home
An unusual start to the episode, with some monks protecting "the key" which has no obvious connection to the rest of the episode. Unless of course the key is the glowy orb which gets handed to Buffy two weeks later...
GILES: It appears to be paranormal in origin.
WILLOW: How can you tell?
GILES: Well, it's so shiny.
Dawn calls Giles "Mr Giles", like the scoobies did for about one or two episodes at the very beginning. Dawn really is very good at being a kid sister, actually. I didn't like her at first, and perhaps I still don't, but the acting is great.
Buffy does a spell, which is a great success, so it's odd that she never does another one.
BUFFY: What are you doing here? Five words or less.
SPIKE: Out, for, a, walk. ...Bitch!
Buffy meets the last monk, who explains pretty much everything. Except what's wrong with Joyce.
Buffy discusses her new knowledge about Dawn with Giles, except that as usual, it's barely a discussion - he just prompts her to make decisions.
GILES: Well, I saw myself in more of a patriarchal sort of role. You know, lots of pointing and scowling.
They're making little progress on the mysterious enemy woman who is "kind of like Cordelia".
WILLOW: Am I late, did I miss any exposition?
There's a thing about your real family being the people you choose or something, it's a bit weak.
5.7 Fool for Love
After having an episode focussed on her, Tara doesn't appear at all in this one, and Willow, Xander and Anya are only in a single scene contributing nothing much. In fact, Willow has contributed virtually nothing to any episode so far this season - even convincing Tara to stay in Family was more due to Buffy, Xander and Giles defending her than Willow tearfully (but passively) asking her whether she wanted to.
DAWN: When do I get to patrol?
BUFFY: Not until you're never.
Lots of fun flashback scenes, in which we discover that Spike's English accent is way more convincing than Angel's only vaguely Irish accent. But in fact the episode tells Spike's whole story, pretty much, right down to how he got the coat.
SPIKE: What's a slayer?
Also, didn't Spike and Drusilla have great chemistry? This is actually one of the best episodes (if not really one of my favourites) - the flashbacks and story interweave beautifully and are made to mesh by great direction. And Spike is shown to have a much broader, and much more sympathetic character than ever before helped by some wonderful acting. When we see him sympathise with Buffy instead of killing her, it cements an idea that was touched on in season 4 - that not all creatures without a soul are evil. Love conquers evil and apparently you don't need a soul to love. Soul (in the Buffyverse) is reduced to providing a conscience only.
The "Previously" reminds us that Riley's been hanging out with vampires and stuff.
WILLOW: It'd be nice if we knew where she was, where she's hiding out.
XANDER: No doubt lurking around some sewer or condemned church or rat-infested warehouse. You know, the usual haunts.
All of which is making the point that Glory's not the typical monster, even before the scene where they hit on the idea that she pre-dates language.
Apparently Joyce uses a cellphone, making it even more surprising that none of the scoobies own one. Buffy goes to tell them to research cancer-healing spells, and leaves telling them to research how to kill transmogrified serpents. She herself isn't, as ever, into the research.
BUFFY: I can't just sit here. I have to do something.
Still, at least the snake is vastly more convincing than the one in Reptile Boy (although the fight where Buffy bests it is a bit dodgy).
5.9 Listening to Fear
Willow dusts two vampires but it still doesn't feel like she's making a real difference - nothing so far this season would have happened differently if she hadn't been around. She's still just the girlfriend of the much more interesting one.
TARA: See those stars over there? Short Man Looking Uncomfortable. Uh... Moose Getting a Sponge Bath ...um... Little Pile o'Crackers.
The scoobies actually go to the (university) library to research.
The house darkened because Joyce doesn't like bright lights makes the queller demon one of the scariest for a while.
5.10 Into the Woods
DAWN: It's okay. You guys don't have to make a big deal for me. I'm only sleeping over here so Buffy and Riley can boink.
XANDER: No, that's not, that's not it at all, they just need time to, uh... be tender, relax.
ANYA: He's not very convincing, is he?
It's possibly the most raunchy episode ever, with Buffy and Riley doing it, Joyce encouraging them and Spike verbally imagining it's him.
ANYA: Have a nice day! Don't get killed!
Riley talks to Spike. Riley knows he's "not the long-haul guy" and Spike says he knows he doesn't have a chance - "Fella's gotta try, though".
RILEY: It's about me taking care of you! It's about letting me in. So you don't have to be on top of everything all the time.
BUFFY: But I do. That's part of what being a slayer is.
After Buffy breaks up with Riley, Xander sneakily follows Buffy down a dark alley - very un-Xander-like behaviour. The talking-to he gives her is more Xander-like though. Inexplicably, she knows exactly where the helicopter's leaving from, then doesn't quite make it in time - didn't expect that.
TARA: I'm envious, Mr. Giles. A trip to England sounds so exciting and exotic. Uh... unless you're English.
There's a whole long scene with Willow being very cute. The tension between her and Anya is highlighted...
WILLOW: "Oh, I like money better than people. People can so rarely be exchanged for goods and/or services."
...and then resolved, by the usual trope of them being in peril together. Willow casually screwing up a spell is actually the first thing she's had to do this season with any bearing on the plot. And she actually says "gay"! (Despite clearly being bisexual really.)
This is an episode mostly for laughs, with an AMUSING SHOUTY TROLL who doesn't kill anyone and talks a lot like Anya. The episode starts with Buffy having a sad sister-talk about Riley but later this too is used for laughs as Buffy (very adroitly) keeps bursting into tears.