Buffy and Dawn are trying to settle into a new routine after their mom's death, which Buffy discusses with Giles following dinner one evening. Giles proposes to Buffy that she resumes her training, however Buffy is unsure, despite the progress she had been making in mastering the true abilities of the Slayer. Asked for a reason, Buffy confesses her worry that the more she learns, the less human she feels, worrying that people don't know how much she cares about them (in particular, she worries that Joyce didn't know how much Buffy loved her). Giles suggests he and Buffy go to a sacred location in the desert so that she can undergo a vision quest. When they arrive, Giles performs a ritual to create Buffy's guide. A mountain lion appears and directs Buffy into the desert, which she recalls from her dream ("Restless").
Glory orders her minions to watch the Slayer and see who is new and special in her life, as that person is likely to be the Key. That night, one of the minions watches the gang through a window; Dawn secretly takes Anya's earrings from a table.
Spike receives his Buffybot from Warren (commissioned in "I Was Made to Love You"), who quickly leaves town. Spike and his Buffybot pretend to fight, which inevitably leads to sex. While Spike is sleeping it off, the Buffybot heads out to patrol for vampires. She runs into Xander and Anya in a graveyard and they believe her to be Buffy, but are puzzled because she is acting strangely—she didn't even ask about Dawn. Turning back to make sure Buffy is OK, Xander and Anya witness Spike and the Buffybot having sex in the cemetery. Xander and Anya are shocked and they go to Willow's place to tell her what they saw. Unbeknownst to them, Glory's minions also witness Spike and Buffy, and they conclude that Spike is the Key. At Willow's place, all are horrified and disturbed by Buffy's behavior, and Xander goes back to confront Spike. Spike has the Buffybot hide from Xander in the crypt. Xander tells Spike that he's taking advantage of Buffy during a difficult time. While they argue, Glory's minions show up, knock Xander unconscious, and take Spike (they don't see the Buffybot). Glory is upset when she sees Spike, as she knows Spike is a vampire and cannot be the Key, since the Key is pure. The minions insist that they saw Buffy protecting him ahead of the others, and Glory reasons that Spike may know something, deciding to torture the information out of him.
At the sacred location in the desert, night has fallen. Buffy wakes to find the First Slayer on the opposite side of a large fire. The First Slayer advises Buffy that love is at the center of all Slayers and that love will bring Buffy to her gift. When Buffy asks "What gift?", the First Slayer tells her death is her gift. Buffy insists that death is certainly not her gift, as she knows the pain that it can cause after losing her mother and doesn't want to offer it to anyone. The First Slayer states that Buffy's question has been answered, and disappears, as does the fire.
Worried about Spike, the Buffybot ignores the unconscious Xander at the crypt and goes to Willow's apartment for help. As Willow sternly talks to the Buffybot (whom she mistakes for Buffy) about her sexual relationship with Spike, Xander comes home and fills everyone in about Spike being taken by Glory's minions. Realizing that Glory now has a captive who knows that Dawn is the Key, the gang goes to Buffy's house to get some weapons so they can either rescue Spike before he can reveal Dawn's secret, or do what must be done to keep him from talking.
When the Buffybot goes upstairs to change, the real Buffy enters, and the gang thinks it's the same Buffy they've just been talking to, creating more confusion. The Buffybot returns from upstairs, and confronted with two Buffys, the gang thinks that the other Buffy is a duplicate, but Buffy realizes right away that it's a robot that was likely built by Warren. She's very indignant that the others actually were fooled at all, and all are disgusted when they realize the Buffybot's purpose. However, Buffy quickly puts it aside when she is informed of Spike's situation; she decides to head out and kill him to prevent him from revealing the truth about Dawn to Glory. Unfortunately, they don't know where Glory is operating from. The only lead Buffy has is the area where she killed Glory's snake, so she decides to start searching from there.
Meanwhile, Glory is brutally torturing Spike, who refuses to tell her the Key's location and subjects her to a symphony of verbal abuse. By surreptitiously loosening his chains then taunting Glory into kicking him into the hallway, Spike manages to escape through the elevator to the lobby, where he finds the Scooby Gang (plus the Buffybot) waiting, and they fight off Glory's minions and leave the building. During the fight, the Buffybot is damaged and rendered inactive.
At the Magic Box, Willow examines the Buffybot and determines that she'd easily be able to fix it, but sheepishly says she won't after getting a look from Buffy. Giles and Xander return, having dumped Spike back at his crypt. They report that they have been unable to get any hard information out of Spike as to whether or not he exposed Dawn, largely because he was severely beaten and barely conscious. Though disgusted by the Buffybot, Xander feels a bit of sympathy for him because he lost his favorite toy, but also points out the fact that Spike got a severe thrashing. This makes Buffy thoughtful.
Spike rests in his crypt, beaten and bloody. The Buffybot enters the crypt and asks him what happened. When he tells her he didn't tell Glory about Dawn, the Buffybot says she's going to tell Glory, but Spike harshly stops her. She asks Spike why they shouldn't give Glory the information she wants, and Spike explains that the real Buffy would be completely destroyed if anything ever happened to Dawn, and he would rather die than live with Buffy in so much pain. The Buffybot leans over and kisses Spike gently on the lips. Spike pulls back as he suddenly realizes it is actually Buffy pretending to be the Buffybot. Buffy makes it clear that she is disgusted by the robot, but softens up and informs him that she will never forget what he did for them. The Buffybot was obscene and fake, but what he did for them was real. Buffy departs, leaving a speechless Spike staring after her.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Act of True Love: Spike thought he was proving his love for Buffy by offering to kill Drusilla in a Grand Romantic Gesture. But protecting Dawn because he knows how important she is to Buffy, at the cost of incredible pain and probable death? That's what does it.
- Adopt the Dog: Spike's willingness to face torture and death to protect Dawn. His HeelFace Turn was earlier, but this is the moment he becomes both not evil, and significantly less of a jerk.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: While Spike is asleep, the Buffybot goes out to do some Slaying, running into the other Scoobies. Cue "Oh, Crap!" when Spike finds out.
- Anywhere but Their Lips: Averted, despite Buffy not wanting to give Spike the slightest hint of encouragement in "Crush". This is our first indication that the attraction might be mutual after all.
- Arc Words: "Death is your gift." Buffy rejects the idea for now, with the pain of Joyce's death still fresh in her mind.
- An Axe to Grind: Xander and the Buffybot.Buffybot: Get me something big and sharp.
- Badass Longcoat: It's Spike! And he's wearing a coat.
- Bait-and-Switch CommentXander: Spike, Buffy has lots of friends, and we love her very much, and well do whatever it takes to protect her. And if that happens to involve killing you, well, that's a bonus.
- Batman Gambit: After loosening his chains, Spike deliberately infuriates Glory, knowing that her response will be to punch him across the room. She does, and Spike is hurled yards—conveniently breaking him out of his restraints and depositing him in the hallway, from where he can now flee. The only snag is that he has to be smashed into the wall again.Spike: [in pain] Good plan, Spike. Fabulous bloody plan.
- Beneath the Mask: Spike shows his gentle side (and his Jerkass side) in his interactions with the Buffybot. And Buffy steals a kiss from Spike, away from the gaze of the Scoobies.
- Berate and Switch: Near the end of the episode, when Spike discovers that the Buffybot kissing him is actually Buffy, she gets a moment of this. Buffy makes it clear that she's disgusted by the Buffybot, but as she's leaving, she stops and informs Spike that she's grateful to him for what he did to protect Dawn, and will never forget it.
- Berserk Button: Spike insults Glory's hair and fashion sense.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Scoobies turn up in time to rescue Spike.
- Big "OMG!":
- Buffy on meeting the bot.Buffy: Oh my God.
Xander: And so say all of us.
- Spike gasps this when confronted by the closed elevator doors.
- Buffy on meeting the bot.
- Blatant LiesDawn: We're safe. Right. And, uh, Spike built a robot Buffy to play checkers with.
Tara: I-it sounded convincing when I thought it...?
- Buffy insists the bot looks nothing like her.
- Brain BleachTara: You aren't really gonna slap [Buffy], are you?
Xander: No, but if I have to see her straddle Spike again, I will definitely knock myself unconscious.
- Breather Episode: A significant one for Spike and his relationship with Buffy, but much lightened by the presence of the silly and oblivious Buffybot.
- Buffy Speak: Buffy addresses the bot as "Skirt Girl."
- "Intervention" is a reference to "Revelations", where the Scoobies discovered that Angel was Not Quite Dead and apparently involved with Buffy again—she used the line, "What is this, Demons Anonymous? I don't need an intervention here."
- Xander's "Hey, I know this; they're both Buffy" is a reference to "The Replacement" when two Xanders were created.
- "I know this place." Buffy goes to where she met the First Slayer in her dream in "Restless".
- Spike's dislike of Angel goes back to him stealing Drusilla's affections in Season 2 (and, as we see in later flashback episodes of Angel, even further back). Buffy's belief that Angel is her One True Love gives Spike yet another reason to hate his vampire rival.
- Buffy starts the search for Glory's Big Fancy House in the park where she killed the cobra-monster in "Shadow", knowing it was heading back to her.
- Anya says that Witch Hunts are only bad for the Wrongly Accused, as a real witch could use magic to escape. This was shown in "Gingerbread".
- Chekhov's Gunman: The Buffybot will prove useful to the Scoobies in "The Gift" and "Bargaining". Warren Mears flees town, but returns in Season 6 as a Big Bad Wannabe.
- Cryptic Conversation: Between Buffy and the Spirit Guide.
- Defiant to the End: Spike defies Glory, only breaking his silence to tell her that the Key's human form is Bob Barker. Glory's minions obligingly offer to fetch him.
- Distracted by the Sexy: When Spike isn't sure "if [he's] a satisfied customer," the Buffybot activates and throws her(it)self into his arms, kissing him. Warren uses this to beat feet.
- Double Entendre: The Buffybot having cowgirl-position sex with Spike while crying, "You're the Big Bad! You're the Big Bad!"
- Dramatic Pause: Glory's minions presenting her with... the Key (actually Spike).
- Dramatic Shattering: Glory gives Spike a drink of water, then smashes the glass in his face.
- Elevator Snare: Spike forces open the doors to the elevator shaft and drops onto a descending elevator to escape Glory's minions. However, they're able to get to the ground floor to cut him off by the time the slow-moving elevator gets there.
- Engineered Public Confession: Spike tells the Buffybot he'd rather die than see Buffy in pain from Dawn's death, unaware he's actually talking to Buffy pretending to be the bot.
- Exact Words: When Willow is talking to the Buffybot, but thinks it's actually Buffy:Willow: You didn't, you know, sleep with Spike?
[Willow sighs in relief]
Buffybot: I had sex with Spike.
- Five Stages of GriefAnya: Okay, that's denial. That usually comes before anger.
Buffy: I am not having sex with Spike!
- Foe Romance Subtext: Apart from the whole Spike/Buffy thing, there's the scene where Glory throws Spike onto a bed and climbs on top of him to choke him.
- Foreshadowing: The words of the Spirit Guide. "Love is pain, and the Slayer forges strength from pain. Love... give... forgive. Risk the pain. It is your nature. Love will bring you to your gift. Death is your gift."
- "Love... give... forgive." Buffy forgives Spike's lechery with the Buffybot and grants him "the barest smidgen" of affection he pleaded for in "Crush", thus gaining a loyal and powerful ally.
- "Love will bring you to your gift. Death is your gift." In the season finale "The Gift", Buffy's love for Dawn leads her to perform a Heroic Sacrifice that saves the world.
- "Love is pain, and the Slayer forges strength from pain." Buffy's Destructive Romance with Spike leads to a stronger relationship between the two of them in Season 7, after both parties learn to accept their love and forgive each other.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: The Spirit Guide appears in the form of the First Slayer.First Slayer: This is a form. I am the guide.
- The Four Loves: Family (Buffy's love for Dawn and Giles), Friendship (the Scoobies' love for Buffy), Romance (Spike's love for Buffy), and Unconditional Love (Spike's protection of Dawn).
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Woman: Anya suggests doing this to Buffy, based on what she's seen in movies. The others veto it.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Loads and loads...
- He Is Not My Boyfriend: Buffy's reaction to the accusation of being with Spike.
- He Knows Too Much: Buffy intends to kill Spike to stop him from telling Glory about Dawn—or just for screwing a Sex Bot version of her; it's not entirely clear.
- Heroic Safe Mode: Buffy worries that she's been shutting down emotionally even before her mother's death.
- Homoerotic Subtext:
- The Scoobies confront the real Buffy on her apparent fling.Xander: No one is judging you. It's understandable. Spike is strong and mysterious and sorta compact but well muscled.
Buffy: I am not having sex with Spike! But I'm starting to think that you might be!
- Buffy is going off about the bot looking nothing like her. Willow had been staring at it for a long time and reluctantly agrees, while Tara looks on all, "Would you?"
- After 'Buffy' reveals the lurid details of what she did with Spike, Willow tells the Buffybot she just wants to help her. The Buffybot replies, "You're my best friend. You're recently gay." Unfortunately Xander interrupts before Hilarity Ensues.
- The Scoobies confront the real Buffy on her apparent fling.
- Hypocritical HumorTara: People do strange things when someone they love dies. When I lost my mother, I did some pretty dumb stuff, like lying to my family and staying out all night.
Anya: Buffy's boinking Spike.
Willow: [struggling to understand] Oh. Well, Tara's right, grief can be powerful and we shouldn't judge—
Tara: What, are you kidding? She's nuts!
- I Am a MonsterSpike: If [Buffy] turns to me for comfort, well, I'm not gonna deny it to her. I'm not a monster.
Xander: Yes. You are a monster. Vampires are monsters. They make monster movies about them.
Spike: Well, yeah... you got me there.
- Idiot Ball: The Scoobies' failure to realise the Buffybot is a robot, given that they quickly realised April was one. Handwaved by them thinking that Buffy is still loopy from the Vision Quest or has gone wacko out of grief, but actually due to Rule of Funny.
- The "I Love You" Stigma:
- Buffy, worried that she's losing her ability to love, wants to make sure everyone's aware of it before it goes.Buffy: I love you, Dawn. You know that, right?
Dawn: Yeah. I love you too.
Buffy: I love you... really love you.
Dawn: [nervous grin] Gettin' weird...
Buffy: Sorry. But it's important that I tell you. Weird love's better than no love.
- And this fanfic-inspiring scene.Buffy: Giles... I love you. Love... love, love, love, love— Giles, it feels strange.
Giles: Well, I shouldn't wonder...
- Buffy, worried that she's losing her ability to love, wants to make sure everyone's aware of it before it goes.
- Incredibly Obvious Tail: As per Sunnydale Syndrome, none of the Scoobies notice Glory's jawa rejects are following them around.
- I Shall Taunt You: Spike, having partially freed himself from his chains, insults Glory. He's promptly Punched Across the Room, which gives him a chance to escape.
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: Glory anxiously touches her behind in the middle of Spike's taunting, after he calls her ass "lopsided."
- It Came from the Fridge: Invoked when Buffy asks Dawn to bring her the dirty plates from her room...Buffy: ... before they get furry and we have to name them.
- It Gets Easier: Buffy is trying to avoid this.Buffy: I can beat up the demons until the cows come home. And then I can beat up the cows. But I'm not sure I like what it's doing to me. [...] To slay, to kill. It means being hard on the inside.
- "It" Is Dehumanizing: Buffy is giving everyone their assignments. "And Giles, you can watch... it [the Buffybot]."
- It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: Giles gripes that Spike hasn't programmed the Buffybot to say his name correctly, pronouncing it "Guy-els." This is an In-Joke on fans who mispronounce the character's name despite claiming to have watched the show.
- Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: The Scoobies are perfectly willing to dust Spike to prevent him from selling Dawn out. It doesn't come to that, of course.
- Kiss of the Vampire: Spike nips the Buffybot, who gushes, "Oh Spike, devour me!"
- Kiss Me, I'm Virtual
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Glory on seeing Spike. "What the hell is that, and why is its hair that color?"
- Malicious Misnaming: Giles gripes that Spike didn't program the Buffybot to say his name correctly. Then Buffy makes the same mispronunciation.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: After this episode Buffy's attitude to Spike changes from loathing and Foe Yay to treating him as a Fire-Forged Friend. Spike responds in kind, substituting his Stalker with a Crush behaviour to one of service without any expectation of reward. And for all the problems between them in Seasons 6 and 7, his loyalty to Buffy never wavers.
- The Nose Knows: Glory sniffs Spike and realises he's a vampire.
- Out-of-Character Alert: Xander realizes something is wrong with the Buffybot when she doesn't ask about Dawn.
- Parrot Expo-WHAT?: Buffy's famous reaction to the idea she was having sex with Spike.Buffy: The who whating how with huh?
- Pink Means Feminine: The Buffybot wears pink, as opposed to Buffy's somber colours.
- Retargeted Lust: Spike commissioned the Buffybot as exactly that, a Buffy he can have sex with.
- Sequel Episode: To "I Was Made To Love You".
- Sex Bot / Robot Me: The Buffy-bot.
- Shout-Out: Lots of talk about the Key being "precious".
- Smoking Hot Sex: Spike is leaning against the wall smoking a fag when Xander hammers on the door; Buffy the Bot suddenly pops into view from below from... well, smoking something else.
- Smooch of Victory: Buffy gives Spike a lingering kiss on the lips as a reward for his loyalty.
- Snark-to-Snark CombatBuffy: A [spirit] guide, but not to food and water. So it leads me to the sacred place, and then a week later it leads you to my bleached bones?
Giles: Buffy, please... it takes more than a week to bleach bones.
Buffy: So, how's it start?
Giles: I, uh, jump out of the circle and I jump back in it and, um, [reluctantly] I shake my Gourd.
Buffy: I know this ritual! The ancient shamans were next called upon to do the hokey pokey and turn themselves around!
[Giles does the ritual]
Buffy: And that's what it's all about.
- Spiky Hair: Spike can't resist programming in a Take That! at his love rival.Buffybot: Angel's lame. His hair goes straight up, and he's bloody stupid.
- Spirit Advisor: Takes the form of the First Slayer.
- Spot the Imposter: The Scoobies completely fail to notice that 'Buffy' is actually a robot, much to the real Buffy's annoyance. Spike makes the same mistake (in reverse) until Buffy kisses him—then he can tell the difference instantly.
- Stat-O-Vision: The Buffybot sees like this, with information about Buffy's friends displayed on screen when they're in its line of sight. Having been programmed by Warren to specifications given by Spike however, the information is extremely basic or displays a laughably 2D idea of the characters. For instance, Willow's screen reads: "Best Friend. Gay (1999Present). Witch. Good with computers." Also displayed on screen are the Buffybot's two primary objectives in life, "Locate Spike" and "Make Spike Happy." The latter has a drop-down menu of files with titles like "kissing" and "position-1" and so on.
- Sticky Fingers: Dawn steals Anya's earrings—unlike in "Blood Ties" or "Forever" she's not after something plot-related, foreshadowing the kleptomania that becomes a serious issue in Season 6.
- Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Justified, unlike the April-bot, as Spike gets off on fighting the Slayer as much as having sex with her, so Buffy's strength and combat abilities are part of the package.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Despite hating Spike and being disgusted with the Buffybot, Xander confesses that he feels bad for him, since he was "thrashed" by Glory and lost his "favorite toy" all in one day.
- Tempting Fate: To get rid of the Scoobies, Spike claims that the cemetery is full of vampires. Xander says they haven't seen any. A gang of vampires promptly appear.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Spike gives a truly spectacular one to Glory.Glory: The vampire is lying to me.
Spike: [giggles madly] Yeah, but it was fun. And guess what, bitch?! I'm not telling you jack! You're never gonna get your sodding Key, 'cos you might be strong, but in our world, you're an idiot.
Glory: [starting to get mad] I'm a god.
Spike: The god of what? Bad home perms?
Glory: [angry] Shut up! I command you to shut up!
Spike: Yeah, ok, sorry, but I had no idea gods were such prancing lightweights! Mark my words, the Slayer is going to kick your skanky, lopsided ass back to whatever place would take a cheap, whorish, fashion-victim ex-god like you!
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Spike loses the Buffybot and gets tortured to near-death by Glory... but gets a thank-you kiss from the real Buffy, as well as some good favor with her, because he was willing to die rather than sell Dawn out.
- Tomato in the MirrorBuffybot: Oh, I don't think I'm a robot.
- Too Much Information / Sick and Wrong:
- The Scoobies reaction to the fine details of what Spike is getting up to with his Sex Bot.Willow: [thinking she's talking to Buffy] So just this one time you just did something kinda crazy?
Buffybot: It wasn't one time. It was lots of times, and lots of different ways. I can make sketches!
- And later...Xander: Spike must have had her built so he could program her t—
Buffy: [horrified] Oh god.
Willow: Yikes. Imagine the things—
Buffy: No! No, no imagining. Any of you.
Xander: [raises his hand] Already got the visual.
- No imagining needed, the audience gets to see the visual. It's just as bad as they fear.
- The Scoobies reaction to the fine details of what Spike is getting up to with his Sex Bot.
- Twisted Echo CutBuffy: Weird love is better than no love.
[Cut to] Spike: [checking out the Buffybot] Some say it's better than the real thing.
- Unwilling Suspension: Spike is chained up by his wrists from the ceiling so Glory can slice his flesh off with a knife.
- Vampires Are Sex GodsBuffybot: You're right. He's evil. [smiles] But you should see him naked. I mean really.
- Villain Ball: Fortunately for the Scoobies, Glory is too lazy to chase after Spike herself, so they only have to fight her minions.
- Vision Quest: Buffy heads out on one to find out if being the Slayer means, eventually, no longer being human. The answer she gets is a rather confusing "no."
- Weapon Twirling: The Buffybot twirls her stake as she tiptoes through the graveyard.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Buffy has no concern for the fate of the Buffybot and even outright refers to her as an "it," this is a noted contrast to her treatment of April, who she sympathized with and even stayed with as she died. Certainly, anyone would be Squicked over being the basis of somebody's -ahem- artificial stimulation, but the series has established that these robots are people too.
- What You Are in the Dark: Spike is captured and brutally tortured by Glory for information on the Key, and all of the Scoobies, Buffy included, firmly believe that Spike will sell them out and that they have to kill him before he does. Instead, Spike endures the torture and openly mouths off to Glory, later confessing to Buffy (who was posing as Spike's Buffybot at the time) that he couldn't live with himself if anything happened to Dawn and was perfectly willing to let Glory kill him first.
- Yellow SnowGlory: He can't be the Key. The Key is pure. Vampire = impure.
Spike: Damn right I'm impure. Impure as the driven yellow snow.
- You Have Failed Me: Glory is not happy when her minions return without the escaped Spike. Cue Scream Discretion Shot.