Real Me (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"Real Me"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
A strange man tells Dawn she does not belong
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 2
Directed byDavid Grossman
Written byDavid Fury
Production code5ABB02
Original air dateOctober 3, 2000
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Buffy vs. Dracula"
Next →
"The Replacement"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 5)
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Real Me" is the second episode of season 5 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Buffy trains and works on her strength with the help of Giles and some crystals. She practices a handstand on a block of wood, but falls when her sister, Dawn, knocks over the crystals. In the morning, Dawn continues annoying Buffy by emptying the milk carton. Joyce asks Buffy to take Dawn shopping for school supplies, but Riley reminds her they had already made plans. Buffy has to cancel so she can go work with Giles.

Giles drives the sisters on their errands, having trouble with the automatic transmission in his new BMW convertible. They spot Willow and Tara heading for the magic shop, and Buffy tells Willow that she's dropping Drama in favor of more slayer training. At the shop, the gang finds the owner dead, killed by vampires. Buffy sends Dawn outside where she encounters a deranged man. He seems to recognize her, saying, "You don't belong here." She is upset until Tara comes to keep her company.

The gang realizes that a pack of vampires raided the shop for books on how to defeat the Slayer, under Harmony's leadership. Giles admires the shop and its potential for a future business.

That night, Dawn is happy to have Xander as her babysitter, until she discovers Anya is coming too. Harmony arrives to challenge Buffy but is disappointed when she's not there. Xander taunts Harmony and her minions from the safety of the house until Dawn mistakenly invites the vampire inside. After Harmony puts up a fight, Xander kicks her out of the house. Harmony later encounters Spike in the graveyard, and the two talk about Harmony's plans to kill the Slayer. While unpacking in their new place, Tara and Willow discuss how Dawn is having a hard time as the outsider of the Scooby Gang. Tara reveals that she has similar feelings as an outsider.

On patrol, Buffy is fuming about the lecture she received from her mother about allowing Dawn to see a dead body. Riley tries to talk some sense into her, pointing out she and Dawn resent each other for similar reasons. When they return home, Xander tells Buffy about Harmony and - after the Slayer stops laughing - she gets angry that Dawn invited Harmony inside. Buffy complains to Riley and Xander about the trouble Dawn causes and how she can't always be there to protect her; Dawn listens from the hall and runs outside in tears. Before Anya can bring Dawn back inside, Harmony's vampire minions capture Dawn and attack Anya causing her to be hospitalized. Buffy then runs out to find her sister leaving Xander and Riley to take care of Anya.

Harmony explains to her minions that Dawn is bait, meaning they can't eat her. Harmony complains to Dawn about her problems until her mutinous minions attempt to kill them both. Buffy - who had threatened Spike until he revealed Harmony's location - arrives and easily kills most of the minions as Harmony escapes. The Slayer frees her sister and when they get home, they agree not to tell their mother. The next day, Buffy and Giles talk about his decision to take over the magic shop, while Dawn writes in her journal that Buffy still thinks she's a nobody, but she's going to be in for a surprise.

Production details[edit]

When casting the role of "Dawn", Sarah Michelle Gellar suggested they take a look at Michelle Trachtenberg. Dawn was originally conceived to be 12 years old,[1] but after casting Trachtenberg, the writers raised the character's age to 14. However, the first few scripts were still written in the voice of a 12-year-old. Before being cast, Trachtenberg, a fan of the show, had written a letter to Joss Whedon that suggested how she could become a character on Buffy.


Writer David Fury says he was "given a lot of freedom to develop Dawn" as her background was completely unknown. He set up her relationships with other characters, such as Willow's status as Dawn's "Favorite Aunt", and provided additional backstory that - although not necessarily appearing in the finished script - "infused her character in future episodes."[2]

Cultural References[edit]

  • When Buffy complains about having to take Dawn shopping, she notes that you can't buy school supplies at the Magic Box. Dawn adds that she's "not going to Hogwarts".
  • Willow and Tara discuss ways to help make Dawn feel more accepted in the gang, Willow jokingly suggests that all of them should wear matching rings to show that they are members, a direct reference to the Legion of Super-heroes, where all its members wear the same Legion flight ring. In later episodes Willow uses powers that are the same as that of some members of the Legion, lightning from Lightning Lad, magnetism manipulation from Cosmic Boy, a force field, from Brainiac 5, to fend off Glory and the Byzantium soldiers and the last episode of Season 5 where Willow uses telepathy, same as Saturn Girl, to contact Spike.
  • Buffy makes a joke to Giles about the life span of a magic shop owner, "having the same life expectancy as a Spinal Tap drummer."


Arc significance[edit]

  • Giles decides to buy the Magic Box, which will be a frequent setting in seasons 5–6.
  • Dawn is introduced and shown to have a crush on Xander, which is eventually requited in Season 8.
  • The first example is shown of someone "outside reality" (i.e., crazy) seeing Dawn as not human, but as a ball of energy (the Key). The crazy man says, "I know you: Curds and whey," a phrase from the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet, to which Faith (in a dream) had alluded in "Graduation Day, Part Two".


  • Tom Lenk guest stars in this episode as Cyrus, one of Harmony's minions. This actor plays recurring character Andrew Wells in the sixth and seventh seasons.
  • In the scene where Giles, Buffy and Dawn are driving to the Magic Shop in his new BMW you can see the hand of a crew member on the side of the car, behind Giles' seat.


  1. ^ Writer David Fury's commentary for the episode on the season 5 DVD.
  2. ^ David Fury: Developing the character of Dawn, retrieved 2007-07-18

External links[edit]