This season, the likeable but brutally capable Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), is joined by her 14-year-old sister, Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg). Where Dawn has been buried up to this point is painstakingly revealed, tormenting Buffy like a freshly hung victim in a noose, kicking for dear life. Luckily, Buffy lands a new boyfriend, Riley Finn. First year college disorientation is followed by a dreaded sophomore slump with more grown-up ghastliness and bizarre encounters. To help overcome new difficulties, Buffy’s gang gains two spectacular spectres, Spike, a surly English vampire and Anya, Xander’s jealous 1100-year-old, and long-time-dead former ghoulfriend.
The fifth season of Joss Whedon's hit series started out in excellent form as slayer extraordinaire Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) did battle with the most famous of vampires (that Dracula guy) and then went on to spar with another nemesis, little sister Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg). Wait--Buffy has a teenage sister? Where has she been the past four years? And why is everyone acting like she's always been around? Turns out that young Dawn is actually "The Key," a form of pure energy that, true to its name, helps open the gates between different dimensions. To protect said key from falling into the wrong hands, a group of monks gave it human form and sent it to the fiercely protective Buffy for safekeeping, creating new memories of Dawn for everyone as if she'd existed... well, always. Why all the super secrecy? There's this very, very, very bad girl named Glory (Clare Kramer) who wants the key very badly, and will do anything to get it. Oh, and by the way, Glory isn't just a run-of-the-mill demon... she's way worse. Some fans will tell you that Buffy "jumped the shark" with the introduction of Dawn, when in actuality this season was the pinnacle of the show's achievement, as there was superb comedy to be had ("Buffy Vs. Dracula," the double-Xander episode "The Replacement," the introduction of the "Buffybot" in "Intervention") as well as some of television's best drama. The Whedon-scripted and -directed "The Body" remains one of Buffy's best episodes, when the young woman who faces down supernatural death on a daily basis finds herself powerless in the wake of her mother's sudden passing. The first third or so of the season was a bit choppy, but once the evil Glory came into her own, Buffy
was a television force to be reckoned with. Kramer was the show's best villain (after the evil Angel, natch), and the supporting cast was never better. But as always, it was the superb Gellar who was the powerful centre of the show, sparking opposite lovelorn vampire Spike (James Marsters) and wrestling with moral dilemmas rarely seen on television. With this season, Buffy Summers became, like Tony Soprano, one of television's true greats. --Mark Englehart