After meeting Dracula, Buffy commits with Giles to be her watcher and help her to find the origin of her powers. Joyce Summers asks Buffy to look after her sister Dawn, who feels shadowed being the little sister of a famous slayer and an outsider of her group. They go with Giles, Tara and Willow to Mr. Bogarty's Magic Box store and Willow stumbles in his dead body. They realize that a gang of vampires have killed the man. Sooner they find that Harmony has formed a group of vampire minions with the intention of destroying Buffy. When Dawn invites Harmony to get in her house, the upset Buffy decides to chase Harmony and her vampires. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The crazy man who scares Dawn outside the Magic Box says, "I know you. Curds and whey." This is a reference to the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet, which Faith quotes from in "Graduation Day, Part Two" when she is foreshadowing Dawn's arrival: "Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0". See more »
When Giles is going through the Magic Shop ledger, his left hand keeps jumping around; nearly every time the shot changes, it suddenly is in a different position. See more »
Check this out, they put cheese on round bread. It's gonna be big.
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A vast improvement over the season premiere and is traditional "Buffy" in the sense of its sharp wit. For first time viewers, this episode will be a strange ride!
Everything about "Real Me" works much better than the season premiere. It's a more refreshingly unique episode that's structured around Dawn's diary entries of cliché teen angst, it takes itself lightly but has moments of seriousness and genuine drama without falling into tonal inconsistency and it has a sense of wonderful character interactions that have come to define BUFFY's legacy but were largely missing in "Buffy vs. Dracula". The most important thing "Real Me" does is the proper introduction of Dawn, Buffy's younger sister who without explanation is inserted into Buffy's life and we, the viewer, are taken along the strange initial journey of it all.
To the majority of BUFFY fans, Dawn is a highly irritable character and on my first run through the series, there were moments where she turned from being a wonderfully comedic foil character and/or nice addition to the series and into the territory of an exasperating presence but why she works well in this episode is because her teen angst and annoying younger sibling qualities are played for comedic effect. It isn't a happy accident that the villain of the episode is Harmony and her "heart-pouring" soliloquy late into the episode about not getting the respect from her 'minions' or others relating and sympathizing to the pressures she is under is a direct admission on the part of David Fury that what Dawn goes through in this episode is not to be taken too seriously. The Dawn in this episode works much better than the Dawn a few episodes from now when she, a severely under-developed character at that point, goes through Earth-shattering dramatic changes that the audience is meant to identify with. Here, she's the annoying younger sister of the world's one and only Slayer and her naïvely arrogant assumptions of Buffy are as frustrating as they are funny.
Beyond Dawn, there's a lot to enjoy about this episode. For one, Sarah Michelle Gellar's performance is a lot more focused in this second episode, albeit still inconsistent, but the strengths of her performance here are much more notable than in the previous. Her scene with Riley while they are patrolling and her discussing the frustration that she feels having to live around a younger sister is a more genuine moment than anything in "Buffy vs. Dracula" and it paves the way for more interesting drama here. The episode overall finds an appropriate balance between flat out humour and drama that is organically woven into the episode's narrative. I for one, perhaps in the minority, identify Buffy's treatment of Dawn as a little too harsh and her expectations of Dawn perhaps too great given how differently they were raised. Buffy was forced to adapt towards a more careful and responsible side of herself, the result of being burdened by the responsibilities of the Slayer whereas Dawn was raised (or so she thinks) as the younger sister, ever in the shadow of her older 'champion' Slayer sister. We've previously seen in "Becoming Pt. 1" where Buffy was before the powers were handed to her and the Buffy at that stage of her life would be no less careless than the Dawn in this episode. Ultimately, it's the best sort of drama where I can disagree with the main character and still be drawn into the dramatic thread of an episode.
Tara also gets a couple of nice and welcoming scenes in this episode, one nice little exchange with Dawn after the rest of the gang investigate the murder of the magic shop's owner and a scene later with Willow. Xander is delightful in this episode, both for the amusement factor he brings as well as his protective affection he displays towards Dawn. Anya, is ever so delightfully quirky and Giles gets some very much welcome development as he begins to put his life back together after the mid-life crisis that dominated his season four arc. First, he buys himself a sports car and in arguably the episode's most hilariously adorable moment, becomes gleeful at the thought of being able to show off his new car to Willow and Tara! This episode also introduces the magic shop as the next significant setting in the show as Giles purchases the shop.
Harmony is great fun here even if Vampire Harmony's appearances on BUFFY never for me measure up to her appearances on ANGEL. She is appropriately goofy and suitably fulfils the narrative of the episode. This being largely a Dawn episode and an episode about cliché but true teen angst, it is only fitting that the villain be someone like Harmony, who while the same age as her Scoobie former- classmates, and now a vampire, is completely incapable of change and occupies the position of arguably the show's most shallow character. She, like no other character, embraces shallowness as a point of pride and rides it to wonderful effect.
"Real Me" is really just such a refreshingly different episode of BUFFY. I love the narrative of the episode being contextualized around Dawn's diary entries, which both shed light on this new character as well as be genuinely amusing. It helps that newcomer Michelle Trachtenberg, who immediately finds herself inserted into the show's opening credits much like she's without explanation (yet) integrated into the show's history, is delightfully fun in the role. Overall, the episode gets everything right for a solid episode of BUFFY. There's fine character interactions, there's a traditionally witty script and it finely balances drama and humour. It's absolutely solid and a vast improvement over the somewhat clumsy "Buffy vs. Dracula".
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