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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S5E1 "Buffy vs. Dracula"

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"You think I don’t watch your movies? You always come back."

Dracula: Do you know why you cannot resist me?
Buffy: Because you're famous?

Directed by David Solomon. Written by Marti Noxon.

In the Season 5 premiere, Dracula himself comes to Sunnydale to bring the Slayer under his thrall. More importantly, Buffy now has a sister.

Unable to sleep, Buffy goes out to patrol the cemetery and after staking a vampire, she returns to bed with Riley. The next day, Buffy and Riley play around at the beach with the others watching, until Buffy "slays" the football (in Riley's words). Then Xander tries to ignite the barbecue, but fails. Then Willow magically ignites the barbecue, and a sudden storm forces them all to seek shelter from the rain. Meanwhile, two men deliver a large crate to a large, spooky stone residence, but when they drop it in the rain, a clawed hand breaks through the wood and attacks one of the men.

Giles has Willow start scanning books so that they can be resources for the gang to use. Asking Willow if she can keep a secret, he then announces that he's going back to England, because it seems he's no longer needed by Buffy or the Scoobies. Willow tries strongly to dissuade him, to no avail. While patrolling, Buffy is confronted by a vampire who condenses from mist and who introduces himself as Count Dracula. When she tries to stake the legendary vampire, he disappears. Xander and Willow arrive to see Dracula before he turns into a bat and flies away. The women discuss how amazing Dracula is, and Riley and Xander both express their jealousy towards the infamous "Dark Prince." Willow makes a lame attempt to attract attention to Giles and his usefulness, but the gang seems oblivious.

As Xander is walking home alone, he encounters Dracula. Using his mysterious and hypnotic charms, the vampire persuades Xander to be his aide and lure the Slayer to him. Riley asks Spike about Dracula, but the former commando is warned that Dracula is too dangerous for him to take on alone. Buffy awakens to find Dracula in her bedroom. She is helpless against his powers and unable to stop him from biting her. When she wakes the next morning, she hides the puncture marks on her neck with a scarf.

While munching on donuts, the gang discusses their plan of attack. Buffy seems distracted and after hearing about the truths of Dracula, she leaves abruptly. Riley follows her and forces her to take off the scarf to show the puncture marks on her neck. Everyone is shocked to see that she has been under the control of Dracula. Since Xander is also under Dracula's power, he has a strange hunger for spiders and attempts to defend the powerful vampire to his friends. Xander volunteers to have Buffy stay safely at his place, Willow and Tara use magic to protect the Summers' home, and Giles and Riley go after Dracula.

Anya complains about not going after Dracula herself, until Xander locks her in the closet. Xander takes the willing Slayer to his "Master" in hopes of getting immortality in return. After being left alone with Dracula, Buffy tries to take control and stake him, but he is easily able to make her put the stake down. Riley and Giles discover Dracula's castle, remarking how they've never noticed it before, and enter carefully. Dracula talks to Buffy of all the things he will do for her while she struggles to regain control of herself.

Xander tries to stop Riley from going after Dracula, but Riley quickly knocks him out. Giles finds himself victim to the Three Sisters, who effectively keep him distracted. Dracula offers his blood to Buffy, and she hesitantly takes a drink.

A flash of memories allows Buffy to break his control over her. Riley rescues Giles from the sister vampires, and they go to save Buffy. Buffy and Dracula fight in a vicious battle, and finally Buffy stakes him. After they leave, Dracula comes back from the dust. Buffy is there and stakes him again, knowing he would come back. Dracula attempts to re-form again but is reminded by Buffy that she is "standing right here." He slips away in his mist form.

Giles calls Buffy, preparing to tell her about his plans to leave; however, she says she wants to talk to him as well. Buffy tells Giles that since her encounter with the spirit of the First Slayer she's been wondering about where her power comes from and what it means to her inside, as she feels that learning about her heritage could make her stronger. She asks Giles to be her Watcher again, to train and teach her about what her power truly means. Giles is pleased, and decides to stay in Sunnydale.

Buffy comes home and announces to her mom that she's going out with Riley. As she enters her room, she finds a girl there going through her stuff. Joyce tells Buffy that she should take her sister with her if she goes out. Buffy and Dawn turn and, in annoyed unison, call out, "Mom!"

Tropes in this episode include:

  • The Ace: Dracula is unkillable and everyone he's encountered gushes about him (except Spike).
  • Bait-and-Switch: There's a strange girl we've never seen before in Buffy's room, so Buffy asks what she's doing there. And then her mother asks Buffy to take her Annoying Younger Sibling along on her date with Riley. Cue both girls yelling "Mom!" in frustration.
  • Beach Episode: Starts as one with the Scoobies hanging out at the beach — until a sudden storm interrupts their fun.
  • Blatant Lies: Giles on being licked by three buxom vampire sisters.
    Giles: I was just about to kill those loathsome creatures when Riley interrupted me.
    Riley: Really? You were gonna nuzzle 'em to death?
  • Breaking and Bloodsucking: Of course Drac is going to do things the traditional way.
  • Buffy Speak:
    • After she goes "Repeato Girl" over Dracula's charm, Riley accuses Buffy of transferring her feelings for Angel, causing her to assure him, "I'm not transfer-y!"
    • According to Willow, the 'scratch' on Buffy's neck is actually "two deep, puncture-y scratches."
    • "No, no, no, sir. No more chick pit for you."
  • Butt-Monkey: The de facto Trope Namer. This was the first usage of the term on television.
    Xander: Dammit! You know what? I'm sick of this crap. I'm sick of being the guy who eats insects and gets the funny syphilis. As of this moment, it's over. I'm finished being everybody's butt-monkey!
    [Giles, Riley, and Buffy nod and try to look solemn]
    Buffy: Check. No more butt-monkey.
  • Captain Obvious: Dracula has just been Punched Across the Room by Buffy.
    Dracula: You are resisting.
    Buffy: Looks like.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Dracula is a traditionalist; no wonder Spike doesn't like him. Spike, however, is also quick to point out that it's the popularity of Bram Stoker's book that has made it possible for ordinary humans to detect (and kill) vampires.
    Spike: I tell you one thing, that glory hound's done more harm to vampires than any Slayer. His story gets out, and suddenly everyone knows how to kill us! The mirror bit?
  • Cliché Storm: Invoked. When Dracula arrives in Sunnydale he brings all the trappings of the traditional Dracula story with him, including sneaking into Buffy's room to seduce and bite her, turning Xander into The Renfield, bringing his brides along, and hanging out in an ominous castle.invoked
  • Clothing-Concealed Injury: After Dracula bites her Buffy uses a scarf to cover up the fresh bite marks on her neck.
  • Collective Groan: Dawn's introductory scene has her and Buffy both complaining "Mom!" at the same time.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The Slayer versus the King of Vampires. It's right there in the title.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Willow's long way of saying "yes".
    Giles: Willow, um... you mustn't repeat what I'm about to say. Especially not to Buffy.
    Willow: Uh-oh.
    Giles: You promise?
    Willow: Oh, god. Well, I guess. Now that I know there's something to know, I can't not know, just because I'm afraid somebody'll know I know, you know?
    Giles: Did that mean yes?
    Willow: Yeah.
  • Does Not Know Her Own Strength: Buffy slays the football at the beach. She is guarding her strength at first, until Riley jibes that she throws like a girl.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Xander compares Drac's Vampire Vords to Count von Count in Sesame Street until Buffy informs him that he really is talking to Dracula. Xander immediately Cower Powers behind Buffy.
    Xander: One, two, three — three victims. Mwah, ha, ha, ha!
    Buffy: Xander, I'm pretty sure that's Dracula.
    Xander: Wow, really? Hey, sorry, man, I was... just jokin' around.
  • Dramatic Wind: Part of the Cliché Storm that follows Drac around is what Buffy calls "music video wind".invoked
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: Just after the start of the first act, Willow is shown in Giles's apartment setting up his implicitly new Macbook.
  • Evolving Credits: With the start of a new season, the credits change yet again.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Buffy fights Dracula.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Of course the characters would expect the legendary Dracula to tower over them.
    Xander: He totally looked shorter in person.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Dracula owes Spike £11. A non-canon Spike comic explains this as being the cost of an autographed copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula that Spike bought for Drusilla — Drac tossed it in the fireplace.invoked
  • Fight Dracula: Though neither of them really wins; Buffy is unable to kill him, but she does manage to shoo him out of Sunnydale.
  • Foo Fu
    Willow: [gestures at grill] Ignis incende. [logs burst into flame]
    Buffy: Willow, check you out! Witch-fu.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Riley's jealousy over Buffy's attraction to vampires.
    • Willow's use of magic for everyday purposes.
    • The tension between Riley and Spike.
    • Xander's rant about no longer being the Butt-Monkey — this season he starts making a serious attempt to get a life, starting in "The Replacement."
    • Buffy's inability to resist Dracula is mirrored by her inability to resist Spike's sexual advances (due to lack of self-esteem rather than mind control) in the Season 6 episode "Dead Things" — Spike even uses the same "Stop me" taunt.
    • Dracula tells Buffy that her "power is rooted in darkness." Buffy discovers the origin of the Slayer's power in the Season 7 episode "Get It Done."
  • Frozen Fashion Sense: Dracula, of course, appears in his full caped regalia. Later he goes for a more casual, but still quite outdated, silk shirt and vest combo.
  • Game Face: Averted with Dracula, who has perpetual fangs but no Nightmare Face. It's not explained why he's different than other vampires, but perhaps his "showy gypsy tricks" include a Glamour. This was later confirmed by the follow-up comics: not only does he have a Glamour, it conceals the fact that he looks like an old man (as he was in the original novel, and the historical Vlad Tepes would logically be).
  • Genre Savvy: Buffy knows better than to think one stake is enough to put down Drac for good.
    Buffy: You think I don't watch your movies? You always come back.
    [Dracula starts reforming again]
    Buffy: I'm standing right here! [he dissipates]
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Xander is more than willing to listen to Willow's secret, especially if it's a naughty one involving her and Tara.
  • Geographic Flexibility: Spoofed. Dracula needs a castle to lair in, of course, but we've never seen one in town before. There happens to be one available anyway.invoked
    Riley: I've lived in Sunnydale a couple of years now. Know what I've never noticed before?
    Giles: Uh, a castle?
    Riley: A big honking castle.
  • Gilligan Cut: Buffy assures her mother that slaying is "a total drag". Cut to Buffy in her Red Leather Pants of Death enthusiastically slaying a vampire.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Willow tells Xander she's keeping a secret and he tells her that everyone knows about her and Tara by now, before adding that if she does want to tell him a secret about her and Tara, he'd be happy to listen.
  • Go Through Me: Xander as The Renfield attempts to stop Riley, with predictable results.
    Xander: Nobody harms my Master. You want him, you come through me.
    Riley: [knocks him out] Okey-dokey.
  • Grammar Nazi:
    Xander: Here she is, Master. She Who You Most Desire... sorry, Whom.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Riley and Xander when their respective girlfriends speak appreciatively of Dracula. Tara gives Willow the hairy eyeball when she goes on too much about Dracula as well.
  • Haunted Castle: Giles and Riley suddenly notice one, just after the gang finds out that Drac doesn't hang out in the usual dank, dark crypts.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Buffy wears the Red Leather Pants of Death when hunting vampires, but after being bitten changes into the Pink Leather Pants of Enthrallment.
  • Hollywood Torches: On the walls of Dracula's castle. Buffy grabs one, which actually makes Drac step back warily.
    Buffy: A guy like you should think about going electric. Seriously.
  • Homage: After Buffy stakes him, Dracula falls down the stairs in much the same way as Renfield does in the 1931 movie.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Joyce sighs over the difficulties in dating when you're a single mother. "Sometimes you just feel like giving up men altogether." Willow and Tara exchange a sly grin.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: The episode was billed as a battle of the titans. It was a little undercut by Dracula being played by Sarah Michelle Gellar's old flame from All My Children, Rudolf Martin.
  • Idiot Ball: Over the course of the Scoobies' meeting about Dracula, they begin to suspect that he has successfully hypnotised Buffy. During the same meeting, Xander makes several strange comments about how awesome Dracula is, and also tries to dissuade them from suspecting Buffy. Nobody notices anything and they leave Xander alone to watch over Buffy. He immediately betrays Buffy to Dracula.
  • Ironic Echo: Buffy tries to reassure Riley that she's not attracted to Dracula (or transferring her feelings for Angel) by saying, "I swear to you, I'm your girl, and I'm gonna stay that way." But Buffy had already told Angel (in "Enemies") that she'll always be his girl; sure enough the Buffy/Riley relationship will eventually break up because Riley suspects Buffy's attraction to "dangerous" guys (including vampires like Angel and Dracula) is stronger than her attraction to him.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Works for a while:
    Dracula: I knew you'd come.
    Buffy: Why? Because I'm under your thrall? [suddenly comes back to herself and pulls out her stake] Well, guess again, pal.
    Dracula: Put the stake down.
    Buffy: OK. [instantly puts it down, then looks at her hand in surprise] Right. That... was not... you. [sounding unconvinced] I did that. I did that because... I wanted to. [Dracula watches her; she looks around nervously] Maybe I should rethink that thrall thing. [whimpers a little]
    • Also done on Xander, for whom it was so effective he turned into The Renfield after a few seconds of hypnotizing.
    • The episode is notable in that after her brief death at the hands of the Master in the season 1 finale, Buffy is normally immune to such hypnosis. Obviously Dracula's mind control magic is of a different variety than what the Master and Drusilla used.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: Very much played for its sexuality — Drac has a very different style than most vampires, preferring that his victims come to him; one bite makes a repeat visit more likely.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Buffy's initial reaction to Dracula is like a girl with a Celeb Crush. She's delighted that he has actually heard of her.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Dracula quickly gets out of dodge after Buffy stakes him a second time and makes it clear she'll do it again if he tries to take physical form again.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Sunnydale's Geographic Flexibility when the mysterious appearance of a never-seen-before-or-since castle.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: A rare version where adding syllables makes it ruder.
    Xander: Like any of that's enough to fight the Dark Master! [everyone stares at him] ...bator.

    Xander: I think you're drawing a lot of crazy conclusions about the Unholy Prince. [everybody looks at him funny again] ...bator.
  • Literary Work of Magic: The real Dracula helped write the original book. He just wanted to get famous, but Spike gripes that thanks to him, everyone knows the weaknesses of vampires.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Dracula wears elaborate costumes that include top hats, rings, canes and ankle-length capes.
  • Meaningful Echo: "You think you know who you are, what's to come. You haven't even begun." (from "Restless")
  • Mood Whiplash: Riley is teasing Buffy, saying that she is under Dracula's thrall and playfully removes her scarf...revealing a vampire bite on her neck.
  • Mook Horror Show: We see a vampire running madly through a graveyard... and then we realize he's running for his (un)life. From Buffy.
  • More than Mind Control: Dracula finds Angel's bite scar on Buffy's neck.
    Buffy: He was—
    Dracula: Unworthy. He let you go. But the embrace, his bite, you remember.
    Buffy: No...
    Dracula: Don't fight. I can feel your hunger. [bites her —Buffy moans]
  • Mr. Exposition: Dracula explains the siring method. When the siree, while still alive, tastes the sire's blood, he/she feels the power and wants it. After death, this is what causes the new vampire to be born.
  • Must Be Invited: Dracula shows up out of the blue in Buffy's bedroom. From that, it seems like he has some special power that negates a vampire's inability to enter a human dwelling uninvited, but shortly thereafter it's revealed that Dracula got Joyce to invite him home for coffee, thereby gaining access to Buffy.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Spike complains that Dracula's taste for publicity has taught the entire world how to kill vampires.
    • Dracula makes Buffy drink from his blood to reveal her true dark the Vampire Slayer.
  • Noodle Incident: One of the reasons Spike hates Dracula is because the poncy bugger owes him eleven pounds!
  • Not Brainwashed: Spoofed
    Dracula: I knew you'd come.
    Buffy: Why? Because I'm under your thrall? [suddenly pulls out her stake] Well, guess again, pal.
    Dracula: Put the stake down.
    Buffy: OK. [instantly puts it down, then looks at her hand in surprise] Right. That... was not... you. [sounding unconvinced] I did that. I did that because... I wanted to. [looks around nervously] Maybe I should rethink that thrall thing. [whimpers a little]
  • Not Herself: Buffy turns down Riley's offer of a jelly donut. Xander, however, still retains his wise-cracking, even while enthralled by Big D.
    Dracula: I will make you an Immortal, a child of darkness...
    Xander: Yes, yes, I will serve you, Your Excellent Spookiness. Or Master, I'll just stick with "Master."
  • Not Named in Opening Credits: Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn) is omitted from the title sequence in this one episode of Season 5 for spoiler reasons, though she is credited as a guest star.
  • Not Quite Dead: There was no way even Joss Whedon would have Dracula Killed Off for Real. Dracula does return in the BTVS comic series.
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Dracula has hypnotic dark blue eyes that can enthrall even Buffy.
  • Once is Not Enough: Dracula starts to reform again (after being staked twice) when Buffy tells him she's still here. After that Drac gives up and leaves.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Dracula's stock powers (hypnosis, shapeshifting, invulnerability) actually make him the strongest vamp in the Buffyverse. Spike claims it's all "showy gypsy stuff." He likewise doesn't get a bumpy face when he vamps, but he does always have fangs. This was revealed in the comics to be part of a glamour making him look young.
  • Public Domain Character: Dracula, of course. The writers were originally going to use a Captain Ersatz, until Joss Whedon suggested to them that they may as well use the real deal as there was nothing stopping them.
    Marti Noxon: I kept saying, "Like Dracula" — until Joss Whedon said, "Why not Dracula? He's public domain."
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "How do you like my darkness now?"
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Emma Caulfield (Anya) is in the opening credits from this point forward.
  • The Renfield: Xander becomes Dracula's bug-eating Butt-Monkey.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Dracula is able to reform from the dust after being staked.
    Buffy: I've seen your movies. You always come back.
  • Retcon: Of the "cosmic" variety. Hi, Dawn!
  • Rule of Cool: In adapting the Count for the show, the writers let him keep all his most memorable traits (sleeping in a coffin, hypnotizing people, bringing storm clouds to town with him, turning into a bat, a wolf and mist, coming back from being staked, etc.) even though Buffyverse vampires don't normally work that way. He even got to dwell in a Big Fancy Castle, despite the show being set in California, where castles are rare to nonexistent and, as Riley points out, you'd think the Main Characters would have noticed their town had a giant castle in it before now. This is all excused because, without those things, he just wouldn't feel like Dracula, and the episode would never have happened.
  • Silence, You Fool!: It takes one word from Drac to turn Xander.
    Xander: Come on, Puffy Shirt! Pucker on up, 'cause you can kiss your pale ass good —
    Dracula: Silence.
    Xander: Yes, Master.
  • So You Were Saying...?: Giles invites Buffy over to tell her that he's going back to England because he no longer feels needed. But before he can say anything, she starts to tell him how she discovered that she still has much to learn about being a Slayer and wants him to be her Watcher again.
    Buffy: So, I just talked all over you. You had something to say too.
    Giles: No. It was... it was nothing.
  • Speak in Unison: Used for The Reveal that Buffy suddenly has a sister (despite being referred to as an only child in two earlier episodes).
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Justified due to Drac's ability to do his "poof thing."
  • A Storm Is Coming: A storm heralds Dracula's arrival.
  • Storming the Castle: Riley and Giles storm Count Dracula's castle to rescue Buffy.
  • Super Smoke: Which Buffy thinks is cheating, as you can't stake mist.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The titular fight ends inconclusively, with Buffy killing the Count, but with him clearly able to come Back from the Dead at will (though Drac was wise enough not to reform near Buffy, who shooed him away threateningly). The show also had to break many of its own rules about how its vampires work in order to pit Buffy against a recognizable version of Dracula; the whole episode relied heavily on Rule of Cool.note 
  • Vampire's Harem: While searching Dracula's castle Giles falls into a pit occupied by a group of female vampires, obviously based on the "Brides" from the original novel. Riley pulls the very reluctant Giles out of the "chick pit".
  • Versus Title: For the only time in the series.
  • Villain Over for Dinner: Dracula approaches Joyce in her art gallery, just to get her to invite him to her house.
  • Wham Line: "Buffy? If you're going out, why don't you take your sister?"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Three Sisters. We only see them when Giles falls into their chambers. They get chased away by Riley and are never brought up again (until the comics, at least).
  • With a Foot on the Bus: Giles confides to Willow that he's going to return home to England, because Buffy no longer requires his services as a Watcher. At the end of the episode, when he's about to tell Buffy, she specifically tells him she needs him as her Watcher, and Giles changes his mind. He spends the rest of the show's run with one foot on the bus, vacillating between whether Buffy truly needs him, or if he's holding her back by staying in Sunnydale.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Dracula introduces himself:
    Buffy: Who are you?
    Dracula: I apologize. I assumed you knew. I am Dracula.
    Buffy: [skeptically] Get out!
    • Then later:
      Buffy: And you're sure this isn't just some fanboy thing? 'Cause I've fought more than a couple pimply, overweight vamps that called themselves Lestat.
  • Your Vampires Suck: Much fun is had at Dracula's expense, except that he actually is more powerful (both in mystical abilities and pure physical strength) than most vampires, even if Spike dismisses his mind control, shape shifting, and apparent unkillability as "showy Gypsy stuff." The trope is played straight earlier when Buffy mentions meeting more than a few pimply, overweight vamps who called themselves "Lestat".