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March 20 2008

Buffy vs. Dracula - a meta essay. Find out why the Buffy season 5 premiere mattered back then and why it matters now.

:) I love that essay.
Very good essay. I think Dracula was always walking a line between dangerous and outrageous in the tv episode. It worked for what Buffy needed to do, which was the whole point, but it never really resolved for him as a character. Everything seems to hinge on his ability to convince you that he's powerful. I always wondered how much of it is glamour and how much of it is real. Not that there's necessarily a difference, if it's convincing enough.
It'll be interesting to see what they do with him in the season 8 comics.
Yeah, I always got the impression that like Spike, Dracula's actual personality and projected "badass vampire from legend!" personality are quite complex and misleading. So I'm excited to see more of him.I suspect it would take some time to get a good sense of the character.

Assuming he didn't hypnotize you in the meantime and you forgot to pay attention. ;)
Good, insightful essay.

So finally I get what the big shocker was in issue 12. The return of Dracula. Duh!
That was a very nice read.
Very insightful. I never saw before it being compared as a flipside of "Restless" (still my favorite episode ever).
I have always loved BVD and I enjoyed how it played with some of the themes of Restless. And I always thought that it had the best teaser in the shows history!
But I'm of the opinion that Anne is the better season opener.
I agree, interesting viewing the shoe on the other's foot.
I liked the essay, although I think Bargainning might actually be my favourite season opener. It just sets the tone beautifully for the rest of the season and has a really dark, frightening atmosphere which really helps to build the idea that the gang need Buffy back. Also it's the only two part season opener which means it has a really substantial story to develop over the two episodes and to set up the rest of the season.

I don't have any major problems with Buffy vs Dracula, I thought it was an interesting episode and it was definitely a brilliant idea to actually introduce such an iconic character into the Buffyverse. I like the fact that, as the article pointed out, a vampire is hinting at the source of Buffy's power, which does create a nice parallel with the first slayer in Restless. The power of being a slayer is something that was explored several times throughout the series, and Buffy vs Dracula lays a strong framework for episodes like Get It Done and Chosen.

But I was slightly confused by the practicality of the episode, and the fact that Buffy couldn't kill Dracula. It was funny, but it didn't really make much sense within the Buffyverse. Wouldn't the gang try to discover a method of killing, or at least imprisoning him? Given Dracula's attempts at seducing Buffy I don't imagine him simply giving up and leaving town.

Even worse, though, is the whole Xander and Dracula relationship from Tales of the Vampires. I know it's been discussed quite a lot, especially with the reappearance of Dracula in season 8, but I just don't think it matches in any way with the way we've seen Xander's character arc progress. I couldn't imagine anything similar happening to any of the other empowered main characters, so why would it happen to Xander?

I'm hoping that the story as presented in TotVs will be somehow retconned, as Buffy's decoy improved The Girl in Question. Like Dracula is so old that time moves differently for him so he felt like it was a year, when it was only a day, or something.
Dracula seems to be truly indestructible in the Buffyverse precisely because of soem of its conventions. Like any other B'verse vamps, he dusts immediately upon being staked, instead of being merely staked down. But then reforms. So the traditional method of stake down, decapitation, stuff the mouth with garlic or holy wafers, burn the head and body separately, then bury the ashes separately, cannnot be used.

A cyberfriend of mine has used Dracula prominently in a couple fics but she's shy-ish about posting her stuff.

"The darkness that Dracula speaks of may be the source of the Slayer, but itís not the sum total of Buffy Summers"
One of Joss 's major recurring points, methinks. Traits that seem to be linked often aren't inherently so. (A defense I've had to make of msyelf on some BtVS boards, as to how a self-described Reagan Republican can also be a big Willow - Tara fan.)

And since I'm thinking of Rudolph Martin, an alternate last scene for "Chosen."

A dark-haired Sarah wakes up in bed on an old All My Children:

"honey, I just had the craziest dream. I was this super-strong woman fighter in a California suburb who protected people from vampires and demons. I was being advised by a stuffy English librarian who used to be a hippie and had all kinds of ancient books. My best friend and sidekick was a red-headed witch who was ahudnred times more powerful than I was, and my other sidekick was a film and cartoon geek guy witha great build. And i was sleeping with a gorgeous muscle-man bleach-blonde English vampire!" Then she lies back down.

then Rudolph pokes his head up from the other side of the bed looking annoyed and says "A korcheous muskle-man pleach-plont Englitch wampire?"

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2008-03-21 01:24 ]
Nice Newhart nod. I love BvD, but I'd have to say my favorite season opener is s7 Lessons. I just can't get enough of the scene at the end where it morphs through all the big bads and the great lines the Master has!
There's a lot going on in that essay..

my .02

Let's face it.. the monsters in Buffy were never really scary.. never scared anyone... except for HUSH... what got to us was the human drama-- that everything made great emotional sense. Having said that-- Dracula was a great silly ploy to introduce the season because he played the role of dark truth/lie-teller... "You think you know.. but you have no idea"-- truth ..and "You're a killer" which is a lie...

It's what the whole season is about...
Season 5 is the greatest season.. for lots of reasons.

Mainly.. it plays with the notion of what does it mean to be a strong female? Does it mean you have to be like the stereotypical male hero--- all alone at the end... willing to sacrifice what you love most to save the world (like Abraham in the bible)?
OR is the female hero different?
Well DUH
The female hero is totally diff.
She may struggle with the same problems that all heroes face...."At the end of the day, I'm all I've got" or does she rely on friends?
Again.. throughout the whole SERIES Buffy struggles with that.. up until the last season.
So.. what about the end of that season?

She sacrifices herself to save the world RATHER than kill Dawn.
She inverts the Abraham story.
A patriarch- Giles.. tells her that killing her sister is what she must do to save the world... EEK .. .It's what a man would do..It's what Abraham was willing to do..

And she refuses.

The interesting thing is one of those weird lines that comes out of nowhere...

TARA: (points to Giles) You're a killer. (Giles and Spike look at her in surprise) This is all set down


The whole "You're a killer" thing.. well.. there's that word again .. Killer...
The killer is the MAN who is willing to do something so hideous as kill Dawn..
Not Buffy..
She would rather kill herself... sacrifice herself rather than kill her own flesh and blood.

It's one of the most radical feminist statements we've seen on mainstream TV..... EVER.
If Abraham would've been a Woman.... well...think about it.....


Season 6 and 7 are great for different reasons... But Season 5.. pure f***ing art.
The arcs are so clearly delineated.
The "killer" motif... well.. is totally clear and is true to the feminist intent of the show.
The "Body" is one of the most intense episodes of TV ever written.
I'm still offended by the last episodes of Six Feet Under because Ruth Fisher just seemed to heal so quickly after Nates death... Yet, what followed in season 5 and 6 AFTER the death of Buffy's mom is all about grief and mourning.

Yup kids.. Season 5.. amazing.
Agree, hbojo, that Season 5 is hands down the best. Except when I watch Season 2...or 3...or 6...or 7...and 4 has some extraordiary stuff, too.

But: Seriously, Season 5 is truly my favorite. For several of the reasons you cite, not to mention the incredible Glory/Ben interplay. Just brilliant. Buffy's Christlike sacrifice (she becomes a cross with that swan dive off the tower) is pure genius.

And: while I love BVD, the best season opener was "When She Was Bad" from Season 2. For many, many reasons, but I'll just cite the moment where Buffy is simultaneously crushing the hearts of Willow, Xander, and Angel in the Bronze. Phenomenal.
Good essaying.
hbojo;Keep in mind Abraham was stopped eventually, allowing him to transcend the limited category of hero...altho your description does remind me of alot of the protagonists in stories by Poul Anderson, who was my favorite author for literally several decades. Which seems again to be a large part of Joss's intent, to change the directions of the traditions, to transcend old models so they seem lass inevitable.

It was bruited about on one or two other websites that the whole "Buffy vs Dracula" epsiode was an illusion caused by the monks' spell, that when Drac tasted Buf was the hallucinatory version of the monks' taking a cell sample to make Dawn. I never l;iked that much and I guess it's canonically disproven now!

chance; Yes, during S-7 I came up with not just a Newhart ending but also Brian's Song, Blake's 7, and Casablanca versions. (Drusilla was featured in both of the latter two.) (Along with a more original idea I used as springboard for my "World Beyond the Wall" fic series.) Soem cyberfriends of mine came up with (partly at my request) MASH, MAry Tyler Moore, and Xena versions.

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