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Rank the Season 5 Episodes


Apr 24, 2018
1. Fool for Love
2. The Gift
3. The Body
4. Intervention
5. Crush
6. Spiral
7. Family
8. Blood Ties
9. Checkmate
10. Forever
11. Into the Woods
12. Out of My Mind
13. No Place Like Home
14. Triangle
15. Tough Love
16. Shadow
17. Real Me
18. Weight of the World
19. Buffy vs. Dracula
20. The Replacement
21. Listening to Fear
22. I Was Made To Love You


Member of the Church Of Faith
Dec 23, 2013
The Moot, England
Having completed by long-delayed watch-through I thought I'd have a stab of re-reviewing my ratings for this season; on the whole its pretty high-quality in terms of brilliance so even the low ones have some appeal.

22. Into The Woods: Or, the assassination of Briley. Still its hard not to find all this very tiring in terms of histrionics. The arguing, the 'fake-stake' scene, the crappy flophouse of vamp-bites. Riley flies out of town on a low and Buffy thinks she's to blame.
21. I Was Made To Love You: Funny, light-hearted and exploring the fallout to Buffy's breakup and important realization. But robots and Warren; two problematic elements to the show, are (re) introduced. So guilt by association.
20. Weight Of The World: Padding, padding, padding. The Buffy-mindscape scenes and the classic 'Ben-is-Glory? comedy skit is just not enough to elevate this slightly turgid episode.
19. Listening To Fear: I liked the opening and the sub-plot with Joyce's illness and Buffy coping is heart-breaking adult drama, but not a fan of the monster or Ben using it to murder innocents.
18. Shadow: Again I found myself enjoying/invested in Buffy/Joyce rather than the rather silly snake-monster; probably the weakest 'Glory's evil scheme' episode.
17. Buffy Vs. Dracula: A weak season-opener but a good catalyst for Buffy wanting to re-up on her slayer-potential, everyone seems to have fun with this one and it shows.
16. Out Of Their Minds: The first 15 minutes are gold and then we get the truly infuriating plot; Riley's super-powers are causing him to die and he freaks like a dumbass, Spike's meddling makes things infinity worse and there is NO CONSEQUENCE for him. Urgh.
15. Tough Love: All the Willow/Tara stuff is pretty good, the Buffy-matryr 'I don't have a life, I have Dawn's life now' is not; its just frustrating/tired. The Willow/Glory showdown is satisfying though. Top DW foreshadowing.
14. Forever: Some great parts, Bangel-ness and creeps aplenty to be had, and Dawn's character is well-realized, but overall this episode feels a little underwhelming given its themes. Basically 'the one after The Body' episode, which was always gonna be tough.
13. The Replacement: A decent Xander-centric episode that distills his best aspects and worst aspects (but not really) into physical form. Plus the only time I had Riley-feels.
12. Intervention: Comedy fluff with some nice foreshadowing of Buffy's eventual fate. The Buffy-bot is adorable but the Spuffy aspect is very over-rated.
11. Crush: Probably one of my favorite Spike-performances this season; he comes across as truly pathetic by the end of this, and is treated far better than he deserves. Still, so does every other vampire in this particular case.
10. Family: Tara's secret? She's a hillbilly! But Willow loves her anyway and everyone sticks up for her and Spike punches her on the nose! It's all way better than I made it sound and a nice way to showcase Tara's acceptance into the group. Plus float-y dancing.
9. Blood Ties: I'm a Dawn-apologist (this season) and she shines in this episode as she discovers her true nature. Lots of great moments. Also maybe Buffy should just spend her birthdays hiding in a closet rocky backwards and forwards alone?
8. Triangle: Troll-fun! I like a lot of this sub-Zeppo episode, where we jettison Riley-angst for Troll rampage; everything works here in a nonsense sort of way. Just ignore the massive set of contrivances and enjoy Anya/Willow bicker. #teamwillow
7. : Fool For Love: Spike's best episode ever reveals so much about him and his romantic world view; how he came to be and how he sees himself and the slayers he killed. Amazingly this episode manages to make us feel pity for an unrepentant monster. Great stuff.
6. No Place Like Home: Glory's appearance is a highlight here; her presence, crazy antics and sheer power dominate. Plus we learn about Buffy's sister. This episode kicks the season into gear.
5. Real Me: Introduces a new character successfully, but its true charm is re-introducing the audience to all the characters with fresh eyes. A joy and a triumph that even Harmony can't ruin. Because she has minions now.
4. Spiral: Tightly paced and unrelenting is a hard thing to convey on TV but this manages it whilst also giving every single character great moments. A mini-action movie with real stakes.
3. Checkpoint: Why so high? Because this is a fantastic Buffy-episode at its heart and full of fun call-backs, great scenes, top Giles stuff and crusty stuffy English-ness. Plus Buffy looks amazing.
2. The Body: Just...great television. The only reason it's not number one is that its not quintessential Buffy-television. But moving and accurately depicting the differing stages of grief, it delivers fine performances from everyone involved.
1. The Gift: The perfect season finale that- thanks to a fantastic script and a season of foreshadowing- is still so evocative and haunting. Buffy is conflicted yet truly heroic, Spike is sympathetic, Giles is Ripper-tastic, Anya is incredibly useful. Basically every character at their finest. Savor it folks for it won't ever be seen like this again...


22. Listening to Fear (5x9)
21. I Was Made to Love You (5x15)
20. Shadow (5x8)
19. Buffy vs. Dracula (5x1)
18. Out of My Mind (5x4)
17. No Place Like Home (5x5)
16. Into the Woods (5x10)
15. Real Me (5x2)
14. Triangle (5x11)
13. The Replacement (5x3)
12. The Weight of the World (5x21)
11. Checkpoint (5x12)
10. Forever (5x17)
9. Tough Love (5x19)
8. Intervention (5x18)
7. Crush (5x14)
6. The Body (5x16)
5. Family (5x6)
4. Blood Ties (5x13)
3. Spiral (5x20)
2. Fool for Love (5x7)
1. The Gift (5x22)

Aside from #22, I thought every episode this season was great.
1 family 2 tough love 3 the body 4 I was made to love you, the end of it sad .5 the gift


"Why can't I stay"
Staff member
Jul 31, 2018
01. The Gift
02. Fool for Love
03. No Place Like Home
04. Spiral
05. Real Me
06. The Weight of the World
07. Blood Ties
08. Tough Love
09. Checkpoint
10. The Replacement
11. Intervention
12. Family
13. The Body
14. Forever
15. Into the Woods
16. Out of My Mind
17. Crush
18. Buffy vs. Dracula
19. I Was Made to Love You
20. Listening to Fear
21. Shadow
22. Triangle


Nov 26, 2018
1. The Body
2. Fool For Love
3. The Gift
4. Checkpoint
5. Family
6. No Place Like Home
7. Spiral
8. The Replacement
9. Intervention
10. Crush
11. Triangle
12. I Was Made to Love You
13. Blood Ties
14. Tough Love
15. Shadow
16. Listening to Fear
17.Buffy vs. Dracula
18. Out Of My Mind
19. Into The Woods
20. Real Me
21. The Weight of the World
22. Forever


Odd Individual
Jan 27, 2019
1. The Body (One of the best representations of loss ever made for anything)
2. Fool For Love (I will buy into any episode that reveals more about Spike's past)
3. Crush (It's a shame Drusilla didn't ever return properly after this one but seeing her and Spike together again one last time is awesome)
4. Intervention (The Buffybot is surprisingly lovable and this really signals Spike's development as a character when he refuses to betray the gang)
5. Spiral (Really intense action and high stakes. This is one of the most exciting episodes of the series)
6. Family (A nice episode for Tara and the ending in the Bronze is predictable but at the same time adorable)
7. Blood Ties (Dawn isn't a favourite of mine, but her behaviour in this is perfectly understandable and justified. It also has the first Ben/Glory reveal and advances the overall plot)
8. The Replacement (Xander's story more or less ends here. He's grown up, shaken off the burden of being who he was in high school and becomes a responsible adult. Sadly, this is also the end of him being as entertaining but this is a good fun episode)
9. The Gift (Not as good as previous finales but it's a strong end to the season. The return of many plot points such as the robot really help bring the story to a very effective end)
10. No Place Like Home (Glory makes a very good first impression and the weird trippy spell that Buffy casts is a cool sequence)
11. Buffy vs Dracula (The ultimate 'gimmick' episode but it's pretty fun and Xander acting like Renfield from the book is very funny)
12. I Was Made To Love You (I actually really like April despite the horrendous reasoning behind her creation. The scene where she dies is genuinely moving)
13. Triangle (Another fun episode, if a bit too over the top in places)
14. Shadow (The snake is a pretty weak monster but I like the heightening drama relating to Joyce's illness)
15. Real Me (Dawn's not too annoying. Harmony makes for a pretty bad villain but a really funny character)
16. Checkpoint (All the stuff with the Council is pretty good but the rest of it is kind of forgettable)
17. Tough Love (The highlight would be Willow turning darker and attacking Glory. And Spike's speech to Dawn is wonderful)
18. Forever (Not the best, but the ending where Joyce's body arrives back at the house is very effective)
19. The Weight Of The World (This drags quite a bit but the concepts it plays with are interesting)
20. Into The Woods (Only put higher than some others because it gets rid of Riley. Sorry, not a fan)
21. Out Of My Mind (This was the first episode of the show I saw and it's unbelievable it made me want to see more of it. Riley is unbearable)
22. Listening to Fear (It's not aliens but it's definitely stupid)

This is maybe my favourite non high school season. The story arc is very enjoyable and Glory is a great villain. I love Spike's development and the death of Joyce is a major turning point. That said, a lot of the episodes tend to feel similar with not much variety. Season 4 had a bad story arc but its individual episodes were stronger.
Feb 23, 2019
Black Thorn
1. Fool for love I absolutely adore this episode, I love action scenes and Spike vs both the slayers was amazing, I also loved how he put the Nikki's jacket on whilst talking to Buffy and that really stood out for me. We also got to see Spike in a different light, where he wasn't just a monster but he had also been a man. Buffy mirroring Cecily's words and how that made Spike cry showed there was still something there that wasn't a monster. And how can I forget the ending, I loved it.
2. The gift The plot for this I didn't find that exceptional but the execution of it came out beautifully. Each character did their part and emotions were running high for the full episode. And the song, 'The Sacrifice' is one of the saddest songs I've heard and I'm not usually big on instrumentals. The end of this episode was outstanding, the speech, characters reactions to her death and seeing her grave.
3. The body This was such a heart-breaking episode, I watched this with my brother and he started crying and I've never seen him cry over a fictional death before. It's eerily realistic having no music but still hearing the children playing outside, and seeing each character deal with grief in their own way. The acting was stunning in this episode too.
4. Crush All I can say is that this was a hilarious episode from start to finish, watching Buffy, Dru and Harmony all gang up on him was amazing. This is one of my go-to episodes if I feel sad.
5. Buffy vs Dracula The fact that Dracula only appeared in one episode of Buffy is literally criminal, he was a captivating character and I loved the characters basically fangirling all over him. Also Giles and the female vampires was a definite highlight of this episode too.
6. Blood ties I really enjoy seeing Spike and Dawn together in season 5 and early season 6. this is where i first came to like Dawn, watching her find out that she is the key and not in fact a real person is heartbreaking.
7. Spiral I love seeing Spike really pull his weight in this episode and helping Buffy when he knows his life is in a lot of danger. Also Buffy is amazing in this episode, she knows when she can't win and doing literally anything to keep Dawn safe is amazing to see. Also the 'don't hit the horsies' 'aim for the horsies' never fails to make me laugh.
8. The weight of the world This one kinda felt like just a filler episode but I felt like it deserved a higher position due to Buffy's dream sequence that she gets stuck in the loop of. Plus I liked seeing Spike and Xander working together to help Buffy and Dawn.
9. Forever All the scoobies coming together to look after Buffy and Dawn is so nice to see as well as Angel coming back to make sure Buffy is okay. Also again with Spike helping Dawn even though he probably shouldn't have is still kind of him. The buffy and dawn moment at the end with them crying on each other where Buffy stops pushing Dawn away, as well as Buffy wanting her mum back was sad but beautifully acted out.
10. Family This episode was creepy in a way because of her weird family and I felt so bad for Tara. Buffy managing to fight invisible enemies was amazing to see as well as the ending where the scoobies are seen as a family and not just friends.
11. Intervention The fact that the scoobies couldn't tell the difference between Buffybot and Buffy was hilarious to me, as well as many of the things that Buffybot says. As much as Spike having a Buffy sexbot was insanely creepy to me, it was overshadowed by his devotion to Buffy and Dawn when Glory was torturing him. Despite the torture, it was a pretty fun episode.
12. I was made to love you Spike getting defenestrated was hilarious to watch. I liked how Buffy had a lot of sympathy towards the robot despite the amount of destruction it had caused and stayed with April until the end, I love seeing both Buffy's strong and understanding parts of her personality.
13. Triangle Although Anya and Willow are being extremely childish is was a generally fun episode and I thought it had an entertaining twist that the troll was Anya's ex.
14. Tough love I love how this episode connects with dark wilow and shows Tara to be her Achilles heel, also seeing Spike comfort Dawn when she thinks that she is evil is kind of endearing and I also like the continuity with Spike being intune with peoples emotions especially with Willow and Tara.
15. checkpoint I did find this episode a lot more dull than the others but it was nice to see the watchers' council involved a lot more as well as seeing Buffy put them in their place while they tried to be threatening towards her. It really showed how Buffy's confidence has grown and how adult she can be when she puts her mind to it.
16. The replacement I didn't mind this episode and I liked how it followed the Xander with the bad traits and everything was going wrong, and also seeing the good qualities of him shine. Also Anya's comments about having two Xanders at the end is very funny.
17. No place like home I loved Glory in this episode and seeing the fight between Buffy and Glory was fun to watch. This episode also makes be feel sad for Buffy as she thinks her mother's illness is due to magic and not natural causes as well as finding out Dawn is not really her sister.
18. Listening to fear It was kind of fun to see an alien but it didn't really seem particularly threatening, the most emotional part of this episode was seeing the deterioration of Joyce's mind and how this affected both Buffy and Dawn. It was not a bad episode, I just wouldn't say it was amazing.
19. Out of my mind Now this is about the time where Riley was really beginning to irritate me, and I did actually like his character in season 4 but I really thought that despite his hatred of the initiative he was being utterly ridiculous. The saving grace for this episode is when Harmony asked to touch Spike's brain and Spike's dream at the end of the episode was hilarious.
20. Real me This episode was also a bit boring but having Harmony in it was a positive especially to see her with minions trying to kill the slayer, however the rest of the episode din't really live up to much.
21. Shadow Not much really happened in this episode apart from Spike being creepy and Joyce going to the hospital. I liked the idea of the big snake thing but it did look kind of stupid in execution which limited my enjoyment of this episode.
22. into the woods There isn't much good stuff I can say about this episode, because Riley is being stupid, yet again and not doing anything useful at all. It was just so irritating that she got to the helicopter but he didn't look down at her. It was a really frustrating episode and I felt bad for Buffy.


Apr 8, 2017
1. The Gift
2. Forever
3. I Was Made To Love You
4. The Body
5. The Weight of the World
6. Spiral
7. Into the Woods
8. No Place Like Home
9. Blood Ties
10. Listening to Fear
11. Intervention
12. Crush
13. Tough Love
14. Shadow
15. Real Me
16. Family
17. The Replacement
18. Checkpoint
19. Fool for Love
20. Out of My Mind
21. Buffy vs. Dracula
22. Triangle


Jan 4, 2020
1. The Gift
2. Spiral
3. The Body
4. Intervention
5. Blood Ties
6. The Weight of the World
7. Tough Love
8. Forever
9. Fool for Love
10. No Place Like Home
11. Family
12. Checkpoint
13. Buffy vs. Dracula
14. Real Me
15. Crush
16. Out of My Mind
17. The Replacement
18. I Was Made to Love You
19. Listening to Fear
20. Shadow
21. Triangle
22. Into the Woods


Apr 14, 2019
1. The Body
2. The gift
3. Fool for love
4. Forever
5. Intervention
6. Blood ties
7. The replacement
8. Tough love
9. Checkpoint
10. Shadow
11. Spiral
12. Into the woods
13. Listening to fear
14. No place like home
15. Triangle
16. I was made to love you
17. The weight of the world
18. Buffy vs Dracula
19. Family
20. Out of my mind
21. Crush
22. Real me

Btvs fan

Feb 11, 2019
Ok my list
The bottom episode will be controversial I know .

1 Fool For Love
2 Intervention
3 Crush
4 Blood Ties
5 Forever
6 Real Me
7 Buffy v Drac
8 Checkpoint
10 Replacement
11 No Place Like Home
12 Gift
13 Family
14 Tough Love
15 Spiral
16 Weight of the World
17 Into the Woods
18 Shadow
19 Out of My Mind
20 Triangle
21 Listening to Fear
22 The Body
I'm actually far more gobsmacked that you ranked The Gift so low


Jan 25, 2016
Ok my list
The bottom episode will be controversial I know .

1 Fool For Love
2 Intervention
3 Crush
4 Blood Ties
5 Forever
6 Real Me
7 Buffy v Drac
8 Checkpoint
10 Replacement
11 No Place Like Home
12 Gift
13 Family
14 Tough Love
15 Spiral
16 Weight of the World
17 Into the Woods
18 Shadow
19 Out of My Mind
20 Triangle
21 Listening to Fear
22 The Body
Ok, but why?

Btvs fan

Feb 11, 2019
Ok, but why?
Short anwser I just wasn't entertained.
Longer answer the reactions from characters felt false to me. Like Anya's was well actes but she had not had a single scene with Joyce before this episode. Previous episodes she'd joked about making people combust and setting whole villages on fire. Now I'm supposed to accept she's going to bawling over a person she doesn't even know!
It was also a waist of not having Glory do it. Have Glory actually follow through on her threat in Checkpoint, which she never did for well reasons 🤷‍♂️
One of the best scenes in Breaking Bad is when Jesse refuses to make drugs for the Neo Nazis so they simply murder his ex and say if he doesn't then her kid is next.
Have Glory defeat Buffy in a fight then murder Joyce and say if you don't tell me where my key is then your sister is next ...
Anyway I'm waffling.

David Hines did a review back when the show aired for the Body and while I don't agree with everything. I think the General gist was correct.

@vampmogs at the time of watching it was know Buffy was moving to UPN. So the idea that a show called Buffy was not going to have a character called Buffy loses a death scene points for me.
Iv recently been watching a show called Gomorrah and all character deaths count in that. Maybe it's not fair to compare the 2 types of show but one feels so much more earned compared to another which keeps bringing people back all the time.
Also Olaf is a Troll God now and Dawn is made from Buffy huh 🤷‍♂️
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Btvs fan

Feb 11, 2019
"The Body," by Joss Whedon
review by David Hines

My father died not quite two weeks before my eighth birthday.

He'd been sick for a long time. Lung cancer. Da was born in 1926; he
fought in World War II, when the Red Cross thoughtfully included
cigarettes in their care packages for soldiers, but he was a smoker before
that. Being a scuba enthusiast gave him some extra time. Da kept going
through chemotherapy, through radiation, through operations, even after
the doctors whittled him down to half a lung. He didn't go into the
hospital and wither away. He stayed at home, and I watched him slowly

One day he went to sleep on the sofa, and when my mother checked on him he
wasn't breathing any more. I was not at home. I was playing T-ball; it
was the last game of the season, and I remember I got a hit. We were out
at a park afterwards, and the word got out to the adults somehow that
David had to go home, because Something Bad had happened. So the coach's
wife bundled me into her car and took me. On the way, she asked me if I
thought I knew what the problem was. I was pretty sure, but I didn't want
to say it, especially to a stranger, so all I said was, "I think my father
may have gotten worse." She nodded. Didn't press it. All she said then
was, "Let us pray."

Picture this: we're driving down Wendover Avenue, in a big old boat of a
car, doing maybe thirty-five or forty... and the woman *bows her head.* I
didn't know what the hell she was doing. I had never seen a Christian
pray before. When she started to address the Lord, I figured it out, but
there was a second where I had to keep myself from yelling, "Hey, lady,
*eyes on the road!*" I didn't look down during the impromptu prayer
session. I figured that way I could at least yell if she was about to hit
something. But we arrived safely, and I got the news --

I could go on in this theme. I could wax lyrical about every
detail; about how my mother and I held each other and cried; how Roxane,
one of my father's students, wept, the tears leaving trails on her round
face; how the house was invaded by people bringing food, food, food...

... but just take a moment now to ask yourself: what would be the point?

And what *is* the point, so far?

I'm not a bad writer. I'm not in Joss Whedon's league; while I've
occasionally been paid a few cents per word, nobody's forking over a
hundred grand a week for me to script-doctor WATERWORLD. But I like to
think that I can make people think, even move them. If you were moved by
my words about my father's death, that was my intent, and I thank you for
finding meaning in my words. But I hope you won't think ill of me for
what I'm about to say.

The tawdry secret, gang, is that my sentimental narrative is just cheap

My father died going on eighteen years ago. I did love him very much, and
I do wish he was around today, but his absence, and his silence, is
something to which I am by now well-accustomed. So if you felt keyed up,
or got a lump in your throat as you considered my pain... well, I thank
you for thinking of me, but I'm okay, really. And I am a bit of a
bastard, because I have just subjected you to calculated, deliberate,
cheap manipulation.

Which gives me and Joss Whedon something in common.

Specifically, what both of us are trying to do with our writing -- me with
the story opening my review, him with his bathos-ridden script -- is to
overwhelm you with *feeling,* so you get all wrapped up in reaching for a
box of Kleenex and overlook just how little the story being told actually

In "The Body," Joss Whedon forcefully makes a bold and daring statement,
and it is *exactly* the following:

"Gee, death is sad."

And my reaction is, "Well, no shit, Joss; would you like fries with that?"

Advance praise on "The Body" has focused on the fact that it is
different. It is that. Whedon focuses for the entire episode on the
death of Joyce Summers; he runs most of the story in real-time, with each
act focusing mainly on one particular aspect. The reason for this is so
he can focus on the characters' emotional states, and their anguish, in
long-running scenes. That willingness to experiment is laudable, but it
is not the problem. The problem is that while Whedon's experimenting his
scenes' structure is all well and good, it does not give them *substance.*
The package is flashy; but the *product* is nothing new or good. It is
just the same old banality. Because Whedon is concentrating on being
*stylistically* different. Story content isn't even on his mind.

Because what he's trying to do -- so it seems to me, at least -- is get

Trying to get attention by being different is nothing new. It certainly
isn't for Whedon, who has done this before, in episodes like "Hush," and
most notably in "Restless," the finale/coda of season 4. But even in
"Restless," Whedon's greatest stylistic departure, he was really trying to
do something meaningful; the episode may be only a mixed success, but the
writer was at least trying to go deep there. In "The Body," he's not
trying to really say anything meaningful, even about his characters; he's
trying to be daring for the sake of being daring. It brings to mind the
way Chris Carter and many of his writers tried like hell to become Darin
Morgan after Morgan won a writing Emmy. They got weirder and wilder and
wackier... and not one of them ever stopped to realize that when Darin
Morgan won his Emmy, he got it for an episode that was simple, and direct,
and one hell of a strong story. Because Morgan was interested in amusing
himself and telling stories, but all Carter and company gave a damn about
was an Emmy nomination that would validate them in some way.

I don't think Joss Whedon's in "The Body" for the story. I think he's in
it for the Emmy nomination.

It is a craven, cynical ploy. This is beneath Joss Whedon as a person,
and it is beneath him as a writer.

Yes, Mr. Whedon, it is a shame that Joyce Summers is dead.

But it's a bigger shame you didn't do anything interesting with her when
she was *alive.*

David Hines
zero stars. since you asked


Jan 25, 2016
Wow. Well my mum died of cancer too and I can honestly say that Joss Whedon captured my feelings perfectly, using ever character to full effect. But as they say in the episode, it's different for everybody.

Btvs fan

Feb 11, 2019
Wow. Well my mum died of cancer too and I can honestly say that Joss Whedon captured my feelings perfectly, using ever character to full effect. But as they say in the episode, it's different for everybody.
This what he said about Spiral

"Spiral," by Steven S. DeKnight
review by David Hines
rating: **

I think it may be time to start thinking about writing off BUFFY THE

At least it is for me. Barring an incredibly brilliant or incredibly
terrible episode that screams for commentary, this is the next-to-last
review I will write about the series. I haven't written a review of the
show for some time because I've been busy. I don't plan to write another
until my post-finale assessment of the season because I don't feel the
show is worth my time. This is unfortunate. To say that BUFFY has had
more promise than most television shows in memory is an understatement,
and since this is a show that has an insanely talented creator/writer at
its helm, with a powerhouse cast, a number of good and capable writers on
staff, hordes of fans in the entertainment press, and a die-hard base of
viewers whose support will go with the show to its new home on UPN, BTVS
had a real and significant chance to realize that potential. And it
hasn't done that.

The greatest and most long-standing failure of the series has been its
inability to recognize and examine implications. As a result, while it
makes some effort to deal with wrenching emotions and deep issues, BTVS is
an unfortunately superficial show. There are episodes and storylines that
embody this problem (I think this season's Joyce cancer arc is one, and
will dissect it in my season review); but oddly, this sort of problem is
most clearly demonstrated in individual scenes. We get one of those in
this episode, and it points up some problems that have plagued the season,
and the show.

Here is the summary, for those whose attention may have wandered: Glory
is a hellgod who has been banished from her own dimension. She wants to
get home, and the Key can take her there. Because Dawn *is* the Key,
Glory's use of the Key is bound to be unpleasant for Dawn. It also
promises to be unpleasant for every sentient being in the multiverse whose
name is not Glorificus: the Key opens doors to *all* the universes at
once. Dimensions wobble and leak into one another, all boundaries between
realms mystical and secular are lost, dogs and cats live together, mass
hysteria ensues.

(Given the above, that the monks who incarnated Dawn ever tried to harness
the Key's energies was, all things considered, highly stupid; that
Somebody created the Key in the first place is even more so. As tools
go, it's sort of like the lever in BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN that brings the
laboratory crashing down when the monster pulls it. Yes, BRIDE's a great
movie, and the emotion of the moment is terrific, and it's a classic
ending... but at the same time, you can't help but think *damn* that's a
dangerous thing to have in a laboratory.)

Glory has found out that Dawn is the Key, so Buffy and company are
electing to bravely run away, a valid strategic action. The Knights Who
Say Ni are running after Buffy and company, because they have an alternate
strategy for preventing the Key from falling into Glory's hands. It is
true that all Glory wants is to go home, and that the only reason she's
looking for the Key in this dimension is that she was banished here by
other hellgods... but since she cannot be allowed to use the Key, the Key
must be destroyed before Glory finds it. Which means that Dawn has to
die, because the Knights don't know what Glory's mortal form is, so can't
kill her. Of course, Buffy must prevent this because It's Not Right; but
the fact that she's on the run, unable to protect Dawn -- and then gets
herself and her friends outnumbered and trapped in an abandoned gas
station -- has her questioning her abilities, and barely holding on.

Let's step back and consider this situation, leaving story construction
issues aside for the moment. Is it me, or is the entire situation with
Glory beginning to look a whole lot like an Idiot Plot? ("Idiot
Plot," coined by sf writer and critic James Blish, meaning a story that
can only function as it does if all the characters involved are
idiots.) Consider:

* The hellgods are idiots. After a hellish battle to defeat Glory, which
they apparently barely won, they do not kill her but put some horrible
means of torturing her in motion, leaving open the possibility of a
comeback. Evil Overlord Rule #4: "Shooting is *not* too good for my

* The monks were idiots. They not only brought the Key into Glory's
reach, they damn near handed it to her, *and* screwed things up so
badly in their weak effort to hide the key that they put the entire
multiverse at dire risk. Then the one survivor ran to the Key, to tell
the Slayer where he hid it, and in so doing led Glory right to her.
Gregor, the Knights' General, actually makes their dumbness explicit in
a throwaway line. The last version of this, Snyder's explanation of the
Sunnydale PD, was nothing short of beautiful; here, though, the
stupidity is of such a monumentally higher class that I can't help but
think of Dark Helmet's line in SPACEBALLS after he suckers the hero out
of his weapon: "So you see, Lone Star, evil will always triumph --
because good is *dumb.*"

* The Knights are idiots. They know that Glory was grafted into the body
of "a male infant;" presumably they know roughly *when* this
occurred; they know when Glory (and, by extension, said male
infant) arrived in Sunnydale. Yet despite their keeping a close enough
watch on everything in town to figure out that Dawn is the Key and mount
an assault almost immediately after Glory literally blunders into that
secret, it apparently never occurs *once* to them that they might keep
an eye on Glory, follow her movements discreetly, and wait for her to
change back into her mortal and killable form. (Even if they're only
shadowing Buffy, they should have known where Glory's hideout was prior
to this episode.)

* The Knights are idiots, again. Let's take a moment to imagine what'll
happen if they *do* off the Key. There's still a nigh-unkillable
hellgod stuck on Earth. Except now she's stuck here permanently and
she's *really pissed off.* Way to save the world, boys.

(My radical suggestion: don't stop Glory. Help her. Forget the Key for
a minute: there are multiple ways of moving from one dimension to
another in the Buffyverse; vide the current episodes of ANGEL. There's
no point in wasting time fighting Glory when you can just dump her back
to her old dimension, and let the hellgods deal with her. She's *their*
problem, after all.)

* Glory is an idiot. She's planning to get back home via a device that
will make the multiverse's myriad dimensions slam into each other with
the force of oversexed sumo wrestlers, resulting in, we're told,
unimaginable destruction and eternal darkness. Admittedly, Her
Delectable Bosominess is a few fruitcakes short of a Christmas, but even
she should be able to realize that this does not exactly leave much for
her to be a god *of.*

But still, the biggest problem with this episode (and in many ways, this
series and season) for me is the lack of attention being paid to
implications. BTVS has never been good about taking the logical next
step, about asking the questions that screams to be asked... and so while
this season the character of Buffy Summers has been cut, it is only with
the shallowest of slashes. The result may be colorful, but it does not go
to the bone.

For me, the big scene in this episode, the big question, comes in the
scene in which Buffy and the Knights's General, one Gregor, are wrangling
over Dawn. Buffy says that Dawn is a person now, not a Key, so It's Not
Right to kill her. From the script:

Yes. The Key has been transformed.
Given breath. Life.
(sadly, to Buffy)
Yet this makes no difference. The
Key is the link. The link must be
severed. Such is the will of God.

She doesn't remember anything about
being this Key everyone's looking for!
All she remembers is growing up with
a mother and a sister that love her.
What kind of god would demand her
life for something she has no control

Silence. Gregor ventures no response.

*Gregor ventures no response?!?!?!!* Forgetting for a moment the easy,
cop-out refutation (the *Moron Monks* were the ones who meddled in cosmic
affairs and conjured the Key into human form; if a sentient being has to
lose her life to save the multiverse, that's *their* fault -- God not only
had nothing to do with it, He was probably out for a round of skee-ball at
the time!), there's a screamingly obvious answer to Buffy's question that
not only answers her question, but pulls the rug out from under her and
raises the stakes for the character.

What kind of God would require Dawn to make that kind of a sacrifice?

Well, gee, I don't know; maybe *the same kind of God who'd pick an
unsuspecting teenage girl to fight against undead hordes every night of
her life until she dies a violent death?!?*

I think this is one reason the story isn't working for me. We're supposed
to see Buffy as being unquestionably right, standing up against the world,
and admire the hell out of her for that. (That a sorely wounded and
delirious Giles talks Buffy up only drives that point home; when
characters start giving heartfelt testimonials to each other, the hand of
the writer almost always is more heavily felt than is good for the
work.) Then we feel for her at her collapse, get worried for her, get
wrapped up... get, in short, involved. The problem for me is that I'm
not, and I think Gregor's lack of response to Buffy pointed up part of the
reason why.

As it stands, the emotional pain -- and at episode's end, collapse --
incurred by Buffy in her efforts to protect Dawn arises because protecting
Dawn is unquestionably The Right Thing To Do, but it's something Buffy
can't succeed at because the stakes are too high, the opponents too
powerful. Protecting Dawn calls to two of Buffy's instincts: her role as
big sister/caretaker, and her role as Slayer/protector of the innocent,
which she has embraced anew (again) this season. If she fails at
protecting Dawn, she fails to meet the dictates of those two callings.

There are two problems with this. First, it's simple and obvious
stuff. That is an easy criticism, but it's true; this is "pile it on,
watch her break, watch her rise" -- or, as the late producer Don Simpson
called it, "living down in the pits." As character arcs go, it's about as
compelling as Maverick's, in TOP GUN. The hero overcomes
self-doubt; well, yay, but it doesn't make for a fundamental change in the
character, or give us a fundamental new insight into him/her. (Yes,
Maverick learns the virtues of team playing, but he buzzes the tower at
the end -- he's the same ol' Mav!)

The second problem, which I acknowledge is really more of an explication
of the first, is that this sort of crisis does not call the rules of the
game into question. Buffy's internal problems are subordinate to her
external obstacles. This, as I have noted several times with respect to
ANGEL's first season, is a problem, and is innately an inferior kind of

My suggestion, to be perfectly blunt about it -- to make the crisis one
internal to Buffy, and thus more revealing of the character -- is that
Buffy's failure, rather than being an equal failure of both her roles,
Sister and Slayer, should arise from the fundamental problem that *these
two roles are incompatible.* Because in this instance, I think they
are. Like it or not, stopping the end of the multiverse is in the Slayer
job description; and if Glory can't be stopped, then Buffy may have to so
love the universe that she give the life of her only begotten sister. Is
that something Buffy Summers would do? Never in a million years. Is that
something The Slayer would do? Absolutely. Instead, now Our Heroine is
Perfect And Right, and it's the world that's wrong. I don't think that's
particularly compelling in terms of characterization, or in terms of
story. Of course Our Heroine is going to get up and come through -- she's
Perfect And Right, after all.

Given my problems with the story, this is a bit of a petty thing to close
on, but: the fight scene between our heroes in the RV and knights on
horseback, which should be thrilling, largely falls flat, with one or two
momentary exceptions. The fight choreography has been unfortunately
inconsistent this year, ranging from the fantastic to the terrible. Its
biggest and most recurring problem, which returned in spades in this
episode, is a certain stodginess. What made Jeff Pruitt's fight scenes so
good in seasons past was their constant flow; in this episode, as in many
others this season, the fighting is painfully blocky. Instead of
blockpunchkickspindodgeduck, it's block. punch. kick. spin. dodge.
duck. It's just not as exciting, and that's unfortunate, because this
fight should have been much cooler than it was.

That's it for me. See you at the season wrap-up. (I'll still be
reviewing ANGEL, though.)

David Hines

Btvs fan

Feb 11, 2019
Agreed. Plus, the very idea that someone would want to write off the show during, imo, it's best season, just makes me laugh, tbh :)
He did a few Angel S3 episodes after this but this was the last Buffy episode. Dont forget this review is 20 years old


Jan 25, 2016
He did a few Angel S3 episodes after this but this was the last Buffy episode. Dont forget this review is 20 years old
I'd love to know what he thinks of the show now. It's so incredibly well thought of, I wonder if he's changed his mind.
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