Overall Rating: 7.0
Not a horrid character study as a means of introducing a new person suddenly into our lives and establishing a new stasis. Nothing remarkable...but solid nonetheless.
This first Dawn misadventure is detailed at BuffyGuide.com.
Readers be warned...we *LIKE* Dawn. Her story arc is interesting to us. Because we're not so stuck in high school that we are unable to realize that High School kids are frequently obnoxious as a part of the whole growing up and finding their identity phase. Dawn is a whiny little buttinsky. Get over it...she's 14. And living with someone with the fate of the world on her shoulders who is (perhaps understandably) a bit inwardly focused and therefore a high maintenance tight wad and a pain to live with. :) Buffy ain't perfect either...and Dawn does grow up. That's what kids do.
Let me be clear...Dawn's attitude we often find representative of a rather ugly trend toward the shallow in American society...her greatest concerns in life are quite material and frequently selfish. But the cool thing about Dawn - the writers obviously don't approve of her current behavior as a means to life long fulfillment...they change her...give her depth...make her into a strong female role model. It just takes time to unfold naturally. In this episode, we needed to establish a base state from which to build...and build they shall. For now...Dawn's a brat. No doubt about it. But it makes sense for Dawn to be a brat...and she's got a good heart, which we'll eventually see. That's enough for me.
With that preamble out of the way, this episode is just a filler, to be honest...it does the work of introducing Dawn from her own perspective, which is a good idea under the circumstances. But the plot is (probably intentionally) mundane...it's a day-in-the-life piece and a reasonably solid one. Michelle Trachtenberg also does some growing in this series...and here, her acting starts off on the weaker side...but it'll come around in time.
One other little note...I love the foreshadowing the writers do all through the early fifth season as they build the big plot with Glory. Here, we see a brainsucked nutter-butter reveal Dawn's special nature...what it tells you when the writers are foreshadowing so early is that they have a long term vision...and here at RightFans...we love long term visions.
The script is functional...it works for what it is trying to do and that's all you need out of a set-up piece.
As noted above, I don't think either SMG or Michelle Trachtenberg really knew how to work together in the early going...and Michelle was only OK in these early episodes...though she does get much better.
I think Buffy's tendency to be too overprotective of her sister is understandable (and very much a normal thing for the older sibling)...big sisters and big brothers do often feel a burden (passed on by parents) to be responsible for anything that might go wrong with the youngun's...and we definitely see that here. I also think it's clear that the writers don't believe either Dawn (who doesn't realize how dangerous it would be if she were allowed into the slayer's inner sanctum with a full-access pass...who thinks she knows more than she does) or Buffy (who really does instinctively think of her sister as the weaker one right now) is 100% correct. The balance they'll eventually strike in season seven is much healthier. This is a good starting point though.
DAWN (VO): Buffy's boyfriend Riley is so into her. They're also kissing...kissing and touching. I bet they've had sex. (LOL)
RILEY (sees Dawn disapprovingly glaring at them): Hey, kid!
DAWN: I'm not a kid! (aww...said the kid)
BUFFY: Giles are you breaking up with your car?
GILES: Well it did seduce me! All shiny and red.
BUFFY: It is a bit much for you.
GILES: You have to understand...I was all in a muddle...I was looking for something...a way to feel...
BUFFY: ...more shallow?
GILES: As I'm about to be your watcher again, perhaps a modicum of respect is in order?
BUFFY: Do I have to? (LOL!)
DAWN (VO): Willow is the coolest person. She's the only one I know who likes school as much as me. And her friends are cool too...like Tara. She and Willow are both witches. They do spells and stuff together at night. I told Mom once that I wish they'd teach me some of the stuff they do together...and then she got really quiet and told me to go upstairs. Huh. I guess her generation isn't cool with witchcraft. (ROTFL!)
TARA: Dawn? Are you OK?
DAWN: Is...is that guy dead in there?
TARA: Yeah. They're going to be in there for a few hours more doing the detective thing. Best non-scoobies like us stay out of the way. (Dawn nods) You wanna thumb wrestle? (Awwwwww...Tara really is a sweet and loving soul)
HARMONY: Gang...gather round! First, I'd just like to congratulate you on a very successful raid of the Magic Box last night! (she claps like the leader of the yearbook committee while a flock of dweeby high school boys with fangs clap with her). Plus...someone remembered to get me this adorable little gift! (holds up a ridiculous looking unicorn statue - all vamps turn and look at Bill as if to say "seriously, Bill...that thing??")
BILL: What?? I had to get her something!
HARMONY: Bill, you little rascal, was this your work? Feeling a little guilty for standing me up in the tenth grade? (ROTFLOL!!)
DAWN: A babysitter?? I'm fourteen, I could BE a babysitter!
JOYCE: Who are you going to get to watch her on such short notice?
DAWN: I don't need watching!
JOYCE: Xander? (Dawn comes running to the doorway smiling like an idiot)
(cut to a bit later)
XANDER: Hey, Dawn-a-tron! Check it out...they put cheese on round bread...it's gonna be big.
DAWN: Xander is so much cuter than anyone. And smart too...he totally skipped college to get a job in construction. It's so deep...he builds things. Just last week, he went undercover to stop that Dracula guy. (LOL!! riiiight...)
TARA: I think it's hard for Dawn, sometimes. Not being able to help.
TARA: Help...help out you and the gang.
WILLOW: Oh I don't think she should...I don't want her to get...well I think she's too young.
TARA: Yeah I get that...I do. It's just...it's hard...that outsider feeling.
WILLOW: Tara...you're not an outsider.
TARA: Well yeah...I kind of am. I mean, you guys have this really tight bond that goes way back...it's hard to break into that. And I'm not even sure I want to.
WILLOW: Well I am. You're totally one of us...the gang is fine with that now. But maybe I could talk to Buffy and the others...maybe we can do something together...you know...a scooby initiation. Oh...or maybe we could all wear rings that identify us as members!
TARA: That's sweet...but I don't think so. Maybe something like that would be good for Dawn though. I still worry about her sometimes. (aaawwwwwww...this is where we really start to get attached to Tara)
HARMONY: They're my minions!
HARMONY: You know...lackeys? They work for me! (Xander breaks out laughing) What's so funny?
XANDER: Oh nothing...what could be funny about Harmony's vamp gang (laughs hysterically again)...oooooohh!!!
HARMONY: Stop laughing!
XANDER: Oh I'm sorry...wait a second...is that Brad Conney? Hey Brad...who would have thought back when you were beating up kids in gym class that you'd end up Harmony's lapdog!
BRAD: Bite me, Harris.
HARMONY: You'd know all about being the lapdog. I heard Dracula did quite a number on you.
XANDER: You heard wrong.
HARMONY: Don't worry...I hear that mind control stuff of his works well on weak, small-brained losers. (oh no she di'int!!! - still in high school...hilarious)
DAWN: Shut up!!
XANDER: Dawn...I'm handling this. Shut up, Harmony! (ROTFL!)