Dracula, the most famous of all vampires, arrives in Sunnydale with his sights set directly on Buffy. Having been questioning the origin of her nature as of late, the legendary count offers the Slayer a taste of the source of her powers.
We follow a day in the life of Buffy's little sister, Dawn, as she spills her thoughts into her journal.
Meanwhile, Buffy begins her training with Giles, and Harmony - much to everyone's amusement - tries to start her own gang.
Following a demon attack, Xander wakes up to find that his life has been taken over by a doppelgänger. As his luck seems to sink lower in his quest to get help, Xander begins to realise that his rogue may even be living his life better than he has.
When Joyce suffers a brief episode that puts her in the hospital, it's discovered that Riley is in danger because of the medication he was given during his time with the Initiative.
When Spike hears that an Initiative doctor has been called in, he takes it as an opportunity to get his inhibitor chip out of his head, so he can finally be rid of the Slayer.
Buffy is warned of a danger aimed at her family soon after finding a mysterious object. Believing that something supernatural is behind her mother's recent illness, Buffy undergoes a spell to find whatever magic is responsible. She discovers, instead, a far more shocking discovery hiding in her family.
Tara's birthday approaches, but the arrival of her family brings about fear that a horrible secret will be revealed to her friends.
Meanwhile, Buffy shows a sudden overprotection for Dawn, beginning a sense of distance from her Riley has been feeling.
Motorace -- American Shoes, My Vitriol -- Cemented Shoes, Melanie Doane -- I Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Yo La Tengo
-- Tears Are In Your Eyes
After being overpowered and nearly killed by a common vampire, Buffy sets out to learn what mistakes past Slayers made that costs them their lives. For her to learn the secret, Spike takes her through his transformation and his fights with the two Slayers he killed.
Songs: Felix Mendelssohn -- A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Killingtons -- Balladovie, Virgil -- Heal Yourself, Johann S. Bach -- Partita #3 in E Major, Avenue A -- Run Cold, Crushing Velvet -- XXX
Joyce is found to have more a serious medical issue than previously thought. Emotionally swallowed by the fear and worry about what this means, Buffy further puts Riley on the outside.
Glory, meanwhile, sets out to recover her Key. To do this, she must gather ingredients to perform a spell, and only one place in town has what she needs.
An extraterrestrial creature falls to earth and begins killing the mentally ill. The Scoobies try to tackle the situation, so as to allow Buffy to take care of her mother before her surgery. Unfortunately, Joyce's tumour causes her a slight mental instability that sets her up as a target for the creature.
Riley's feelings on his relationship with Buffy comes to the surface when she discovers that he's been allowing vampires to feed on him. When the military offers him a job that would take him out of the country, Riley presents Buffy the choice of whether he stays or leaves.
Songs: Emilana Torrini -- Summerbreeze
Giles takes a leave for England to seek information about Glory from the Watchers Council. In his absence, Anya is left in charge of the Magic Box, upping the bickering between she and Willow, which begins to wear on Xander. When this leads to the conjuring of a troll, they have to work together as it rampages through Sunnydale.
The Watchers Council arrive in Sunnydale with information about Glory. However, rather than give it to Buffy, they put her through a rigorous review to see if she is prepared to deal with it.
Things become worse for Buffy when Glory visits the Summers' home regarding her Key, and later discovers that she's in the crosshairs of someone else prepared to do anything to stop Glory.
It's Buffy's birthday, but everyone is thinking about Dawn after Buffy hesitantly tells them about the Key. Everyone that is but Dawn herself who notices that everyone is beginning to behave odd around her now. She then sets off to find out why and discovers the truth about herself.
Songs: Star Ghost Dog -- Holiday
Buffy discovers Spike's feelings for her, and is utterly repulsed. However, Spike's love-life takes a new turn when Drusilla returns to Sunnydale with the temptation to return him to his old self.
Songs: Summercamp -- Happy, Devics -- Key, Summercamp -- Play It By Ear
Buffy is still reeling with disgust over Spike's profession of love, further putting him on the out, as Joyce tries to get back into the dating pool.
While Buffy considers beginning a relationship with Ben, a lovesick robot shows up in town, looking for her boyfriend. What she doesn't know is that her builder has moved on.
Buffy, her sister, and friends must all cope with the sudden and unexpected death of Joyce.
Everyone continues to deal with the emotional aftermath of Joyce's passing. As Buffy keeps herself occupied, Dawn discovers a supernatural and potentially dangerous means of bringing back their mother.
-- Tales of Brave Ulysses, Splendid -- Tommorrow We'll Awake
When Buffy starts to worry that she's losing her ability to be emotionally open to others, Giles helps by taking her on a vision quest. While gone, Spike receives his own robotic version of Buffy from Warren. Unaware of the Buffybot, the Scoobies mistake it for the real Buffy and worry about her strange behaviour. Glory, meanwhile, seeks out whoever the Slayer values, leading to confusing Spike for the Key.
Buffy continues to be protective of Dawn when she learns that she's been skipping school and is in danger of being taken away.
Meanwhile, Tara and Willow's relationship is put through a trial when they have a spat and Glory misidentifies Tara as the Key.
Now that Glory knows that Dawn is the Key, and realising that she is unstoppable, Buffy decides to simply flee. Their escape plan is sidetracked when the Knights of Byzantium catch up to them and trap them with diminishing options.
With Dawn having been taken by Glory, Buffy has fallen into a catatonic state, leaving Willow to go into her mind to get her out and wake her up. While the others try to find anything they can to stop Glory or the ritual, Glory and Ben have a tug-of-war of conscious.
Knowing that killing Dawn is the only way to stop Glory's ritual once it starts, Buffy is adamant not to sacrifice her for the world. With time running out, everyone prepares to engage Glory, ready for the possibility that it may be their final battle.