The Scooby Gang gather at Buffy's house to discuss the Council's plans to come to Sunnydale, which Buffy isn't happy about. She recalls that her two previous experiences with the Council put her life in serious danger, and wishes that they would just give her the information she needs without making the trip to Sunnydale.
Glory is at her place, panting, sweating, and in obvious pain. Dreg and another one of her minions, Jinx, rush into the room to her aid, bringing along with them a hysterical mailman. They carry her to the crying man and help her put her fingers to his temples to drain away all of his sanity. She gets up, refreshed, and the disoriented mailman wanders away. Jinx warns her that she has even less time now to use the Key, but Glory isn't worried. She explains that if Buffy is the only obstacle between her and the Key, she won't need much time at all.
Quentin Travers and a team of Watchers arrive at the Magic Box. They disrupt the business, sending paying customers home, and criticize Giles' handling of the merchandise. They announce that the Magic Box will be closed for the duration of the Council's stay in Sunnydale. Giles is frustrated and takes an antagonistic position and then learns that the Council plans on conducting an extensive review of Buffy (her methods, skills, and abilities). Quentin announces that they have information on Glory but won't reveal it until Buffy's skills have been comprehensively tested and she proves she can handle the information.
In Buffy's history class, the teacher is discussing how Rasputin was considered nearly impossible to kill. Buffy challenges the professor to look at the history from a different angle, implying that Rasputin was a vampire or other immortal, but he shoots her ideas down with scathing criticism and sarcasm, embarrassing her in front of the entire class. That night, Buffy complains about class to a vampire she's fighting until she is thrown off balance. Spike suddenly appears, flying over a tombstone to tackle and stake the vampire. He expects gratitude from her, but Buffy tells him he is getting in her way. The two then verbally attack each other.
Jinx confronts Ben at the hospital and relays a message from Glory, who wants Ben's assistance in gathering useful information about the Slayer. He accidentally lets slip that the Key is a human. Before Jinx can run and tell Glory, Ben beats up the demon. Quentin informs Buffy and Giles that she must pass the review or he will shut down the shop and deport Giles. Buffy and Giles realize that they must cooperate with the Council, which is powerful enough to carry out all its threats. Buffy worries that she may fail, placing everyone in even greater danger.
Council members interview the rest of the Scooby Gang, including Spike, for information about the Slayer. Lydia interviews Spike and she reveals she wrote her thesis on him. With the exception of Spike (who declares her to be "slipping" because she "can't keep a man"), they all try not to incriminate Buffy in any way, and each tries to justify his usefulness to her (without making it sound like Buffy actually needs help, of course). In the training room, Buffy is blindfolded and her fighting skills are tested against one of the Council members, but she does not pass the test.
Upon returning home, Buffy finds Glory in her living room. After Dawn sees her and departs, Glory openly threatens to kill Buffy's loved ones and friends and force her to watch her do so. Visibly disturbed, Buffy takes Dawn and Joyce to Spike for protection. Although Spike initially protests the sudden increase of "manly responsibilities," he agrees to look after them; after a moment's awkwardness, Joyce and Spike discover their shared addiction to Passions and sit down to watch it together.
On her way to the shop to meet with the Council for a comprehensive review of her plans and strategies, several well-armed men wearing medieval fighting gear attack Buffy. Buffy takes them out and discovers from the last conscious one that they are the Knights of Byzantium and are in town to destroy the Key. They consider her their enemy because she protects the Key.
Buffy returns to the shop and informs Quentin that she is not going to deal with the review anymore. She now knows that she holds power against both Glory and the Council because they both need something from her: Glory needs to know where the Key is, and the Council needs her to make their jobs meaningful. She delivers an authoritative speech justifying the participation of each of her friends and demands that Giles be reinstated as her Watcher (receiving retroactive pay from the month of his dismissal). She finally instructs the Council to give her the information that she needs.
Quentin reluctantly agrees to her terms. He then informs Buffy that Glory isn't a demon... she's a god.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Anachronism Stew: The Knights of Byzantium dress as medieval knights, with swords, quarterstaffs, and chain-mail armour.
- Answer Cut: Buffy wonders who the Council is going to start questioning. Cut to Anya being interrogated.
- Awesome, but Impractical: The physical test involves Buffy following Travers' martial arts instructions, given in the original Japanese. Things aren't going well and Travers asks, "How have you been training her?" Giles snaps back, "I've trained her to win."
- Badass Normal: Buffy re. Xander.Watcher: The boy? No power there.
Buffy: "The boy" has clocked more field time than all of you combined. He's part of the unit.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: During a history lecture about how Rasputin the Mad Monk was hard to kill, Buffy hints that he and certain Prussian generals may have been vampires; her professor is not impressed.
- Bilingual Bonus: The karate instructions Buffy is given in Japanese are "shoumen ni rei" (bow to the front), "shoumen-zuki" (front punch), and "ushiro-geri, empi-uchi" (back kick, elbow-strike).
- Blatant Lies: A Watcher asks Willow and Tara if they're registered as witches. They answer, "Uh... sure." He then asks what level they're registered as, and Tara blurts out, "Five!" As he writes it down, we see Willow mouth, "Five?!?" and Tara responds with the internationally recognized Shrug of I Have Absolutely No Idea What I Just Said.
- Breaking Speech: Buffy gets these from Spike, Glory and her history professor, but she refuses to take it from the Watchers' Council.
- Break Them by Talking: Glory was sure as hell intending this when she confronted Buffy in her own house and described how she'd kill all her friends if she didn't give Glory what she wanted. It ended up having the opposite effect — the fact that Glory didn't just kill her and get it over with makes Buffy realize she has power over her, which in turn gives her the confidence to stick it to the Watcher's council, who had been trying to undermine her all episode.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Xander talking English instead of plain Buffy Speak.Xander: Allo, Buffy; here's some stuff we know, pip pip.
- Call-Back: Reference is made to the events of "Helpless", "Who Are You", and "Primeval".
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Giles steps in to up his pay as Buffy delivers her speech.Buffy: Mr. Giles will stay here as my official Watcher, reinstated at full salary...
Giles: [cough] Retroactive.
Buffy: ...to be paid retroactively from the month he was fired.
- Chekhov's Gag:
- Ben asks Jinx how Glory knows something. Jinx smirks and says, "I do not know; I was not there."
- Jinx tells Glory that Ben is attractive. Glory says of course he is.
- Continuity Nod: Xander is still injured after the events of "Triangle".
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Council threatens to have Giles deported back to Britain; Xander comments that it's a terrible punishment, as Giles will have to live on a diet of blood sausage, bangers and mash.
- Damn With Faint Praise: The Watchers Council M.O.
- Deadpan SnarkerGiles: You all stand around and look somber. [they do just that] Good job.
Travers: You used to respect us, Giles. You used to be one of us.
Giles: You used to pay me.
- Description CutGiles: Buffy's come very far recently. She's acquired a remarkable focus.
[cut to Buffy yawning in class]
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Joyce watches Passions with Spike.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: Buffy breaks the rib of the Watcher Philip during her test.
- Double EntendreSpike: Maybe your beauty's fading. The stress of slaying, aging you prematurely. Things not as high, not as firm.
- Draco in Leather Pants: An In-Universe version where Lydia, a female Watcher, is clearly a Spike fangirl. She rather breathlessly confesses to him that he was the subject of her dissertation.
- Dramatic Unmask: Buffy is surprised to find the knights attacking her are human.
- The Dreaded: Nervous Watchers interrogate the notorious William the Bloody at crossbow and cross-point, unaware that he can't harm humans any more. Spike seems quite pleased by the attention.
- Dynamic Entry: Spike leaping over a backhoe to stake a vampire.
- Enemy Mine: Buffy entrusts Joyce and Dawn to Spike's care during the Council's review.
- Evil Brit: Averted with Tara, who assumes British people would be nicer.
- Fangirl: Lydia seems a bit shy and squealish when she meets Spike, who was the subject of her thesis.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Willow and Tara during their interview.
- Flash Step: While Glory has her back turned, Buffy reaches for a fireplace poker and suddenly finds Glory standing in front of her.
- Foe Romance Subtext: Buffy comes home and finds Glory there.Glory: Had a long day at work, sweetie?
- Forced to WatchGlory: I'll kill your mom, I'll kill your friends... and I'll make you watch when I do.
- Dawn tells Buffy she's going to find out what this Key business is about, which happens in the following episode.
- Buffy figures out that "It's about power" long before Season 7.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Spike taunts Buffy about her inability to keep a boyfriend:Maybe your beauty's fading. Maybe slaying's aging you prematurely. Things aren't firm and high as they used to.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Giles has a Not So Stoic moment and does this to Quentin Travers when he tries to lean on Buffy. Given that Watchers are the epitome of the Stuffy Brit stereotype, the personal space violation is the same as in Japan—another Watcher immediately moves to hold Giles back.
- A Glass in the Hand: Giles does his trademark Glasses Pull during a tense discussion with the Watcher's Council. When Travers threatens him, he breaks his glasses because he's cleaning them at the time.
- Godzilla Threshold: After bluntly telling Spike she doesn't need his help at the start of the episode, Buffy hands over her family to him for protection after Glory turns up at their house.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Ben tells Jinx he has a message for Glory. When we next see Jinx, he's got severe bruising on his face.
- Honey Trap: Jinx suggests to Ben that he continue romancing Buffy, to get information. Ben doesn't want to play along.
- Humiliation Conga: Buffy until she realises she's got the power, and that's why everyone is trying to put her down.
- Iconic Item: There's an awkward silence when Buffy is cleaning up the house and finds one of Riley's O.D. jumpers.
- If I Wanted You Dead...Glory: Buffy, if I were here to fight, you could tell by the being dead already. So play nice, little girl.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Quentin Travers does the Stuffy Brit version after Buffy reads him the riot act.Travers: Uh, Rupert? When we inventoried your shop, we found a bottle of single malt scotch behind the, uh, incense holders.Giles: Well, it's, it's not, you know, during working hours...Travers: I think I could use a glass.
- Interrogation Montage: Interviewed by the Watchers' Council, the Scoobies fall all over themselves trying to simultaneously justify their closeness with Buffy and convey that she operates just fine without any help. Except Spike, who just throws her under the bus.
- Ironic Echo: Travis and later Buffy saying regarding the other, "I think s/he understands me."
- Lame Comeback: Spike ribs Buffy about how her boyfriends keep walking out on her. There's a long pause before Buffy says, "You're disgusting." Spike sneers. "Rough talk!"
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After the mailman gets mind-sucked, he looks in the direction of the camera and says, "I know you're all always looking at me. I can tell."
- The Nicknamer: Glory dubs our heroine Mousy the Vampire Slayer.
- Noisy Shut-Up
- Not Helping Your Case: The physical test involves a blindfolded Buffy protecting a training dummy from an axe-wielding Philip. She ends up breaking the Watcher's ribs and axing the dummy herself.
- Not So Above It All: Quentin at the end.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: When Buffy asks Giles if the Council has the power to get him deported:Giles: They're all right when it comes to the rough stuff, a little ham-handed but they get it done. But this stuff, bureaucracy, pulling political strings, paperwork... this is where they're the best in the world. They can kill you with a stroke of the pen.
- Oh, Crap!: The look on Buffy's face in the final bit of dialogue in the episode, wherein Quentin reveals that Glory is a god, is one of the most notable ones in the series, and for very good reason—she's faced demons, Old Ones, vampires, and all manner of evil. Glory being revealed as a god makes her realize that for the first time in six years as a Slayer, she is out of her element and she has no idea what to do.
- "Open!" Says Me: Buffy kicks open the door to Spike's crypt, waking him up with a shout when sunlight shines on his face.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: The Council go out of their way to make Giles and Buffy uncomfortable as a way of asserting their authority.
- Percussive Therapy: After being publicly humiliated by her history lecturer, Buffy takes out her frustrations on a random vampire.Buffy: "Some of us are here to learn, professor!" "Maybe you'd like to teach your own class!"
Vampire: [confused] Who are you talking to?
- Pitiful Worms
- Please Don't Leave Me: Buffy notes that Travis saying they'll take Giles away from her is the perfect threat.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Buffy gives one to the Watchers' Council, pointing out that their tests are just being used to save face and they're going to let her back in no matter what because they can't be Watchers without a Slayer."You're Watchers. Without a Slayer, you're pretty much just watching Masterpiece Theatre".
- Rescue Romance: Spike 'saves' Buffy from a vampire, clearly hoping it will warm her attitude towards him. It doesn't.
- The Reveal: Glory isn't a demon... she's a god.
- Sarcasm Mode: Buffy's history lecturer. Also Giles.Travis: The Council fights evil. The Slayer is the instrument by which we fight. The Council remains, the Slayers change. It's been that way from the beginning.
Giles: [scornfully] Well, that's a very comforting, bloodless way of looking at it, isn't it?
- Saying Too Much:
- Willow's and Tara's interview.Nigel: Well, I need to know a little bit more about the Slayer. And about both of you. Your relationship, whatever you can tell me.
Tara: O-ou-our relationship?
Willow: We're friends.
Tara: Good friends.
Willow: Girlfriends, actually.
Tara: Yes, we're girlfriends.
Willow: We're in love. We're... lovers. Lesbian, gay-type lovers. [puts her hand on Tara's leg]
Nigel: [deadpan] I meant your relationship with the Slayer.
- Played seriously when Buffy says she doesn't want the Council involved because she's got too much going, what with having to take care of Dawn. Xander points out she's always had to take care of her little sister. Buffy quickly thinks up other reasons.
- Willow's and Tara's interview.
- Shame If Something Happened: Quentin Travers threatens to have Giles deported if Buffy doesn't co-operate with their review. Glory threatens to kill Buffy's loved ones if she doesn't hand over the Key.
- Shaped Like Itself: Glory complains that Ben drives her insane; "Do you know what I mean?" Jinx thinks about it and suggests, "He drives you insane?" Glory is glad he gets it.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Buffy delivers one back to Travers for all the Breaking Speeches she's been getting recently.
- Snooping Little Kid: Dawn is listening in on the Scoobies meeting.
- Spiking the Camera: The mailman Glory kills does this, but as he's rambling "I know you're always looking at me" at the time it's likely a Leaning on the Fourth Wall gag.
- Spot of Tea: Obviously, with the Magic Box full of stuffy Brits.
- Spy Speak: "Clocked field time" and "the unit" are examples of Riley Speak.
- Super Senses: Dawn enters the room behind Glory, then tries to sneak out when she realises who Glory is. She's almost out the door when Glory asks her to join them.
- Suspect Is Hatless: Jinx describes the Slayer thus; "She's short, symmetrical, hair on top?"
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Anya is definitely not an ex-demon.Quentin: Excuse me, miss? Do you work here?
Anya: Yes I do. Ever since I moved here from South-Eastern Indiana where I was raised both by a mother and a father!
Anya: Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins, twenty years old. Born on the fourth of July, and don't think there weren't jokes about that my whole life, mister, 'cause there were. "Who's our little patriot?" they'd say, when I was younger, and therefore smaller and shorter than I am now.
- In a later interview...
Watcher: [taking notes] So, you spell it A-N-Y-A, yes?
Anya: [sheepishly] Yes.
Watcher: Fine, now we can get to the questions.
- That Came Out Wrong:
- Tara says the Watchers Council is like a group of "Giles-es". Buffy blurts out, "Yeah, they're scary and horrible!"
- Xander tells of how last year the Scoobies "combined our essences with Buffy... which isn't as weird as it sounds."
- Thou Shalt Not Kill Muggles: Buffy lets the Knights of Byzantium go.
- Twisted Echo Cut: The version where a question put to one interviewee is answered by the next one.
- Villainous DemotivatorGlory: Oh, sweet lumpy minion. You're the only one that understands. Probably cause I haven't sucked your brain out yet.
- The Villain Knows Where You Live: Glory pays Buffy a surprise house visit.
- Weird Trade Union: Nigel asks Willow and Tara if they're registered witches.
- Wham Line
- When the Planets Align: Glory is told that the "signs of alignment" are moving faster, so she has to speed up her search for the Key.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Buffy realises that, as Glory isn't trying to kill her, she has her own power.
- You Got Spunk: Glory on Dawn.Glory: Ooh, I like her. She's sassy.
- You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Buffy when Travis starts by questioning her use of 'civilians'.