Shenanigans

Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Rewatch: Week 7 Part 2

A few months ago, as I moved through the most recent season of Doctor Who, you know, when we discovered that River Song is actually Rory and Amy’s daughter, I was really irrationally angry about it. I felt the twisty-ness of this was unnecessary and undignified in a way that didn’t match The Doctor.

My exact words were, “These kinds of Dawn Summers-esque shenanigans are beneath Doctor Who.”

Dawn is a tricky character in the Buffy-verse. She’s widely despised, due to her whining, her uselessness and the shenanigans that brought her about.

She’s annoying, but there are worse things.

See, Dawn isn’t actually a person at all. She’s “The Key,” a mystical energy source meant to unlock the doors between dimensions. The Key was guarded by a sect of monks from Hell god Glory, but as Glory got stronger, they decided to send The Key to the slayer to protect. They create Dawn and manipulate something to make everyone believe that Buffy has always had a sister. This way, Buffy would do anything to protect her.

And Buffy does, even dying for her “sister” in the end. But what’s difficult, is that even after all of the twisty turny key things are done, Dawn sticks around and no one talks about her odd existence ever again.

Like, ever again. It’s weird and a little disconcerting. Chrissy often cites her biggest Dawn issue is that she isn’t human, she doesn’t have a soul. Of course, Chrissy is coming at it from out Catholic philosophical metaphysical world view. Joss Whedon, however, subscribes to an atheist humanist metaphysical world view, which means that by virtue of Dawn’s biology and actions she is human.

Maybe that’s reading too much in to this. Once, when talking about Gilmore Girls, my friend Jenna and I were discussing April, the daughter Luke never knew he had, and Jenna said, “I really liked April the character, but I really hated April the plot device you know?” For me it’s similar with Dawn, I love Dawn the plot device. The Key storyline is brilliant, and even later on, giving Buffy a sister to take care of is great, but Dawn the character is never properly handled.

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3 thoughts on “Shenanigans

  1. Even though it was said to be for just one episode, I still like to view Dawn as part of the Buffy’s a schizophrenic theme. That makes it an easier pill to swallow, plus I love the schizo thing.

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    • I love that episode so much! It does make the Dawn stuff make so much more sense, that Buffy’s delusions did the retconning. I mean, “It’s Magic” works to an extent, but at some point you have to stop.

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  2. The interesting thing about that episode is if you watch it back later looking for clues to support that through the earlier seasons, it matches up perfectly. I can’t remember it all now, but some of the comments made by Buffy and other characters even in season 1 really support that (it’s almost difficult to imagine there is any other context).

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