Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 5 E 17 Forever

Joyce is buried. Dawn, with Spike's help, casts a spell to bring Joyce back. Guest starring Angel.

  • Affably Evil: Doc
  • An Axe to Grind: Spike vs. the Ghora Demon.
  • Angst? What Angst? (In-Universe): How Dawn sees Buffy's reaction to their mother dying. Turns out, not so much.
  • Armour-Piercing Slap: Buffy slaps Dawn when she accuses her sister of treating Joyce's funeral arrangements like "just another chore".
  • Award Bait: The scene of Buffy's anguish near the end might as well have "For Your Emmy Considerations" subtitled under it.
  • Because She Was Nice to Me: Spike is accused by Xander of leaving flowers to get in Buffy's good books. Spike retorts that it's because Joyce was the only one not to treat him like a freak. Xander remains skeptical until Willow notices that he didn't leave a card - if they hadn't seen him, the flowers would have been anonymous.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Dawn warms to Doc when he helps her free of charge, then freaks out when his pupils disappear while he's shaking her hand.
  • The Bus Came Back / Character Overlap: Angel turns up simply to comfort Buffy.
  • Came Back Wrong: Implied with Joyce.
    • This episode is also the first one that explicitly names the trope.
    Buffy: People come back... wrong.
  • Cassandra Truth: As detailed under Because You Were Nice to Me above, Xander cannot be convinced that Spike's attempt to pay his respects to Joyce is anything but trying to get in good with Buffy until after Willow discovers that Spike didn't leave a card.
  • Character Development / Pet the Dog: Spike helps Dawn because "I just don't like to see Summers women take it so hard on the chin" (as opposed to last year's "The Yoko Factor" where he enjoyed making Buffy miserable).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Doc reappears in the season finale to shed Dawn's blood and open Glory's portal.
  • The Confidant: Buffy tells Angel that she might have saved her mother's life if she'd come home just ten minutes earlier.
    Angel: You said they told you it wouldn't have made a difference.
    Buffy: They said ... "probably" ... wouldn't have made a difference. The exact thing they said ... was "probably." I haven't told that to anyone.
  • Damaged Soul: The resultant Joyce revenant would've suffered from this.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The raising ritual
  • Disappeared Dad / Estranged Soap Family: Buffy can't contact her father in Spain.
  • Dramatic Thunder: A distant peal of thunder is heard when Dawn casts the resurrection spell.
  • Due to the Dead: Buffy and Angel spend a vigil over Joyce's grave. Counts as Fridge Horror too, given that it's Sunnydale and Staking the Loved One is always a possibility.
  • Foreshadowing: Several of these for Season 6.
    • The ethics and consequences of raising someone from the dead.
    • Dawn turning to Willow/Tara as a surrogate family when she thinks her sister is emotionally distant.
    • Willow's hesitation in explaining why bringing back Joyce would be wrong and magically pulling out the book for Dawn to notice are signs of her abusing magic and then justifying it.
    • Tara is surprised Willow has started to keep a journal
    Willow: Life goes by so fast, if you don't write stuff down it just gets...lost. And I want to remember.
    Tara: Down to every last bagel?
    Willow: Down to every last every thing I do with you.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Xander and Anya, and lampshaded by her.
  • He Knows Too Much: Ben stabs Jinx to prevent him talking to Glory, but he survives.
  • I Miss Mom: Dawn tries to solve this problem by raising the dead. Never a pitfall free solution to this problem.
    • Climaxes in a real Tear Jerker scene when Buffy confronts Dawn over her use of dark magic. Dawn accuses Buffy of not even missing her, prompting Buffy to break down in tears, revealing that she was just trying to stay strong for Dawn's sake. Dawn is so moved and Buffy is so distraught after opening the floodgates to her grief that they end up switching positions on the resurrection spell, with Buffy rushing to greet "mom" at the door and Dawn deciding to undo the spell at the last second and let their mother rest in peace.
  • In the Hood: Ben complains of Glory sending her 'Jawa rejects' to talk to him.
  • It's Always Sunny at Funerals: Joyce is buried on a bright sunny day.
  • Leitmotif: The Buffy/Angel love theme "Close Your Eyes" plays as they kiss.
  • Money Fetish: Anya gets alarmed when Giles offers to let Dawn work the cash register.
    "She gets to fondle the money?"
  • The Nicknamer: Ben refers to Glory as "The Most Unstable One". After being ordered about by Dawn, Spike dubs her "Bitty Buffy". Glory's minions refer to her as "Your New-and-Improvedness."
  • Not So Dire: Continuing the subversions of this trope in the previous episode, "Forever" opens with Buffy stalking through a dark room full of caskets, lifting the lid of one and peeking inside... and then we realise she's not hunting vampires, but picking out a casket for her dead mother.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never see what resurrected Joyce looks like. We only get a somewhat twisted shadow behind the curtains.
  • Overnight Age-Up: Played with. Buffy stands at her mother's grave as night falls, and the shift in color pallet from the aforementioned bright sunny day to darkness makes it look as if she ages 20 years in a few seconds.
  • The Real Heroes
    Buffy: I can stick wood in vampires ... but Mom was the strong one in real life. She always knew how to make things better ... just what to say.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent/Multiple Head Case: The Ghora Demon
    Spike: Hey! Heads up! [Ghora demon lifts up three heads; Spike gets an Oh Crap! look] Right, heads it is.
  • Ritual Magic: Dawn is able to do the spell even though she's not a witch — Doc does warn her that a powerful witch is required to do it successfully though.
  • Saying Too Much: Ben tells Jinx he won't help find the Key, because he refuses to harm an innocent. He realises too late that he's just tipped off Jinx the Key is in human form.
  • Sex for Solace: Angel has to leave Buffy to prevent this happening.
  • Shout-Out: To The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: As Buffy and Dawn argue, Joyce's shadow can be seen through the curtains moving towards the door.
  • Songs of Solace: Giles is shown alone in his house listening to Tales of Brave Ulysses, which he played for Joyce in "Band Candy".
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Willow after she tipped off Dawn which book to look in for information on resurrection spells.
    Tara: [having discovered the book is missing] God, what else did she take?
    Willow: Nothing! I-I think. I think n... she took nothing else. But maybe she did, and we should probably look. Because who knows? I-I don't.
  • Tear Jerker
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore
    Spike: I know good and well what you're up to. That book you've got is infamous.
  • Villainous Demotivator: Glory tells Jinx not to bleed on the carpet and asks him to be patched up so she can hear his story again without all the annoying moaning. She does forgive him for his inadequate grovelling due to his injury though.