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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S5E20 "Spiral"

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Dawn: At least things can't get any crazier. Right?
[an arrow smashes through the wall]
Buffy: You know this is your fault for saying that!

Directed by James A Contner

Written by Steven S De Knight

With Glory now possessing knowledge that Dawn is the Key, Buffy and Dawn run for their lives, escaping thanks to Willow's magic and a large semi-truck slamming into Glory out on the street, causing her to transform into Ben.

The gang gathers in Xander's apartment to discuss possible plans of action. Buffy surprises everyone by proclaiming that they will never be able to defeat Glory, and that they must leave town in order to stay alive. Spike solves their transportation problem by procuring a sun-protected Winnebago, and Buffy allows him to accompany them. Though Giles and Xander are anything but pleased by this decision, Buffy informs them that she and Spike are the only ones who stand a chance at protecting Dawn in the event that Glory catches up to them, and makes it very clear that the subject is not open for discussion.


Ben talks to one of Glory's minions, revealing that he is just a human body encasing Glory's god form. The Knights of Byzantium retrieve their crazy member, Orlando, from the hospital, who babbles that the Key is a shiny girl, prompting the Knight's leader to realize that the Key is the Slayer's sister. Giles, driving the RV, talks with a motion-sick Xander about Buffy's state of mind.

Depressed and worried about their future plans, Buffy is comforted by Dawn until the Knights attack. A sword through the roof nearly kills Buffy, but Spike stops it with his bare hands. While Buffy battles the Knights from the top of the RV, one knight impales Giles with a flying spear, causing the RV to crash onto its side.

The Scoobies rush to an abandoned gas station, where Buffy fends off the attackers until Willow erects a barrier spell. Meanwhile at the hospital, all those left crazy by Glory repeatedly mutter, "It's time."


Spike suggests to Xander that they run, but Buffy refuses to let anyone die. Buffy captures the General, who reveals that Glory once ruled over a hell-dimension alongside two other hell gods, only to be banished by them when they grew to fear her. As a result, Glory was trapped inside a mortal body in which she was meant to lay dormant. Buffy realizes that this is her only weakness—kill the mortal, and Glory dies as well. However the General explains that Glory's mortal host has never been found. He also reveals the Key was created to open up the gateways between dimensions, and Glory intends to use this power to return to her own dimension. However, this will also dissolve the boundaries between dimensions and destroy all of them. Buffy promises Dawn that she'll protect her.

Realizing that Giles is seriously injured, Buffy arranges a deal with the Knights to allow Ben to safely pass; he stabilizes Giles, and then is left alone with the General, who suspects Ben is an outsider and tempts him with the idea of killing Dawn. Ben realizes that Glory is about to take over his body and tries to leave, but before he can get outside the force field, Glory comes forth.

Glory kills General Gregor, fights off the Scooby Gang to take Dawn, and bursts through the force field. By the time Willow releases the field, Glory has disposed of all the Knights and disappeared with Dawn. Knowing they have to move fast, everyone heads for Ben's car to chase after Glory. Buffy, however, is left emotionally shattered after going through so much to protect Dawn only to lose her to Glory, and collapses to the ground.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • The Alleged Car:
    Spike: Hey, Gramps! Bloody step on it!
    Giles: Step on what? I've driven tricycles with more power!
  • Ambiguously Brown: Dante, who may be of "Moorish" ancestry.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Invoked: according to Gregor, this was the crux of Glory's exile to Earth; she ruled over one of the more horrific demon dimensions as part of a triumvirate with two other hell-gods. When Glory's power, ambition and appetite for conquest and domination grew too great, her fellow hell-gods feared she would seek to overthrow them and seize power for herself, so they choose to ally and strike first. It took all their combined might to defeat her, and even then they were forced to exile Glory because she was too powerful to destroy.
  • Are We There Yet?:
    Anya: Shouldn't somebody be asking, "Are we there yet?" Isn't that what small entertaining children do?
    Dawn: That kinda only works if you know where you're going.
  • Arrows on Fire: The Knights lay siege to the gas station using flaming arrows.
  • Awful Truth: The Key – Dawn's – raison d'etre: upon activation, the Key will tear down the barriers between dimensions, causing untold destruction.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Glory is the one who kills Gregor, the General of the Knights of Byzantium.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Spike stops a Knight of Byzantium's sword from stabbing through the roof of their Winnebago and impaling Buffy through the skull, managing to hold it in place long enough for Buffy to get out through the roof hatch and take the fight to the Knights. It's played realistically: his hands are gashed and bandaged for the remainder of the episode.
  • Barrier Maiden: If used, the Key will collapse the barriers between all dimensions and lead to The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Glory killing the Knights.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The spell Willow casts to repel Glory is Russian - "Air become fist".
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The General and Buffy argue about killing Dawn; the General points out that Dawn isn't a real human, and that she's one life who would be sacrificed to save millions. Buffy retorts that Dawn is her kid sister and is a living, breathing and feeling being, with people who love her. Ultimately, the General is proven right when Glory successfully kidnaps Dawn.
  • Bridal Carry: Buffy carries Dawn this way to escape Glory.
  • Buffy Speak: Gregor is General Forehead Guy.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Cornered in the gas station, with the Knights about to break through Willow's barrier spell, Spike lights one up.
  • Darkest Hour: By the end of the episode, Glory has kidnapped Dawn and is going to use her to end the world. Plus, Giles is badly injured and the gang are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Buffy's reaction to finding out that Glory has been after the Key all along, just so she can use it to return to her home dimension:
    Buffy: [laughs] That's it? That's Glory's master plan? To go home?
  • Distinction Without a Difference:
    Dawn: You're not fleeing. You're... moving at a brisk pace.
  • Dramatic Irony: They audience knows Ben and Glory share a body and can foresee that, being on the run from Glory, he's pretty much the worst doctor possible our heroes could call to treat Giles. However, the characters have no way of knowing this.
  • Enemy Mine: Giles and Xander are aghast that Buffy has called on Spike for help. Buffy shoots them down, making it clear she's not going to debate the matter.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The Beware of the Dog sign is seen at the gas station, part of a Running Gag with Spike.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Invoked by Gregor while expounding Glory's back story: despite being cruel, tyrannical monsters themselves, the other two Hell gods who ruled in unity with Glory grew afraid of her when they realised her lust for power was insatiable.
  • Evil Plan: Glory plans to go home to her own hell dimension, that's all. Admittedly by using a means that will collapse the universe into chaos.
  • Famous Last Words: Glory asks if Buffy has any. Buffy has just one. "Truck."
  • From Bad to Worse: From the beginning of the episode to the end, events spiral further and further out of control despite all Buffy's attempts to manage the situation.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Wielded by Anya.
  • Get Out!: Giles when he sees their transport is driven by Spike. Buffy promptly shoots that down.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    Willow: Don't hit the horsies!
    Buffy: We won't! [to Giles] Aim for the horsies.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Zigzagged; Spike wears a dark pair of black goggles throughout the episode. While he initially wears them on his eyes to drive in broad daylight, when Giles takes over the wheel, he just wears them around his neck the rest of the episode.
  • Homoerotic Subtext/Foe Yay:
    Dawn: All of a sudden Glory's standing right there in front of us, all skanky and blonde and thinkin' she's all that just 'cause some bumpy heads kiss her stinky feet... [pauses, very quietly] She does have nice feet.
  • Heroic BSoD: So bad that Buffy's stuck like this until the next episode.
  • Heroine-Worshipper: Dawn raves over how Buffy saved her from last week's cliffhanger. Given that all Buffy did was let Glory get hit by a handy truck, Buffy is not so impressed by herself.
  • Hey, Wait!: Orlando's fellow Knights are signing him out of the mental wing. As they lead him off, Dante says how easy that was, only for the nurse to cry out, "Hey wait!" Dante's pal draws a dagger from his sleeve—but it's just that Dante has walked off with her pen.
  • Homage: According to Steven S. DeKnight, the scene where the Knights of Byzantium attack the Scoobies in the Winnebago is a homage to Stagecoach.
  • A House Divided: Seeing Ben is an outsider, Gregor tries to encourage him to kill the Key.
    Gregor: Dissension in the ranks—never a good sign.
  • I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me: Xander helps Spike (whose hands are badly damaged) light his Cigarette of Anxiety.
    Xander: I mention today how much I don't like you?
    Spike: You mighta let it slip in. Once or twice.
  • Immediate Sequel: Last episode: Glory kicks down the wall and grins evilly. This episode: Buffy grabs Dawn and flees.
  • Improvised Weapon:
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Buffy and Dawn only escape Glory because her Ben side takes over after she's hit by the truck. Then Ben is called to give medical care to Giles, putting Glory inside the magic barrier when he morphs back into Glory.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: Buffy fights the Knights on the roof of a moving Winnebago.
  • Invulnerable Horses: Referenced; Buffy assures Willow they won't hurt the horsies, then tells Giles to "Aim for the horsies." However we don't see any horses hurt, although one is run off the road.
  • Knight Templar: General Gregor. He makes it clear he doesn't care that Dawn is human and has no memory of being the Key; no matter what form it's taken, the Key is too dangerous to exist.
    Gregor: The Key is the link. The link must be severed. Such is the will of God.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Buffy plans to flee Sunnydale to get Dawn as far away from Glory as possible. She can't take on Glory in a straight fight, and it would at least buy them time.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Subverted repeatedly: Glory and Ben are the same person. There is a spell on them that makes humans (and possibly other, but not vampires) forget this. Spike explains the curse, but the Scoobies continually forget it.
  • Look Both Ways: Glory gets slowed down (though not killed—she is The Unstoppable Woman, after all) when she's hit by a truck... after standing in the road talking to Buffy for almost a full minute. That must be one hell of a bad driver.
  • Madness Mantra/Vagueness Is Coming: "All dark, soon.", and "Time! Time!" "It's time!"
  • Mercy Kill: Dante kills a Mind Raped Orlando.
  • Morality Pet: Spike makes it explicit that he's only there to protect Dawn and Buffy.
  • Mr. Fanservice: In-Universe. Gronx (Glory's female minion) is quite obviously attracted to Ben.
  • Mundane Utility: Willow uses magic on the payphone in the gas station to get it working again.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • The Knights trying to kill the Slayer's sister end up inadvertently causing the chaos they were trying to prevent.
    • Buffy calls Ben to the gas station to heal Giles...and he then transforms into Glory and kidnaps Dawn.
  • No-Sell: Glory smashes through Willow's barrier with a little effort.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Glory engages in a epic against the Knights of Byzanthium in order stop her from obtaining Dawn...or we can assume that, as we watch Buffy viewing the battle helplessly through a barrier.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Buffy is freaked, as everyone notices.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Spike attempts to comfort an insane Tara when she accidentally exposes him to sunlight and is reduced to tears when Willow snapped at her. Given his time with Drusilla, this is probably something he's used to.
    • When Spike has trouble lighting his cigarette due to his damaged hands, Xander is the one who lights it for him.
  • Piano Drop: Anya suggests this as a viable strategy.
    Anya: Well, it always works for that creepy cartoon rabbit when he's running from that nice man with the speech impediment.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Xander and Giles are anything but pleased that Buffy chose to bring Spike along, which Buffy justifies by pointing out that she and Spike are the only ones who stand a chance at protecting Dawn in the event Glory finds them. When Xander continues to object to it, Buffy, having enough to deal with already, snaps and promptly shuts him up with a few words:
    Buffy: Look, this isn't a discussion! He stays! Get over it.
  • Reality Ensues: Spike pulls off a Bare-Handed Blade Block to stop Buffy from being stabbed in the head and give her enough time to take the fight to the Knights. For the rest of the episode, his hands are gashed up and bandaged. Later on, he punches one of the Knights of Byzantium to protect Buffy — which results in his chip going off.
  • The Reveal: Gregor reveals Glory's purpose, and that of the Key.
  • Run or Die: Buffy decides that they have no other options, so they pile into an RV and get the hell out of Dodge.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Dawn re Glory getting hit by a truck. "And then whoosh! Wham! Hell-bitch in orbit!"
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Spike tells Dawn he should have nicked a Porsche, which would have been both fast and just big enough for Buffy, Dawn, and him.
  • Smug Smiler: Spike when Buffy defends his presence to Giles and Xander.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Willow's barrier spell.
  • So Proud of You: A wounded Giles to Buffy.
    Giles: I'm so proud of you. You're everything a Watcher... that I could have hoped for.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Ben appears to be about to kill Dawn with a fatal injection, but it turns out to be a morphine shot for Giles.
  • Sublime Rhyme:
    Willow: Discharge and bring life. [phone comes on]
    Spike: Handier than a Swiss knife.
  • Super Speed: Glory's Offscreen Teleportation ability is explained.
  • Tempting Fate:
  • There Was a Door: Not only Glory, but Buffy escaping from Glory.
  • Those Two Guys: The clerics that accompany the Knights of Byzantium, whom Willow refers to as Heckle & Jeckle.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill Muggles: Averted with Buffy killing humans for the first time, albeit in self-defense.
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: How did the Knights know which way the Scoobies were heading, or catch up on their horses? They have their own magic-men, so I guess you could say A Wizard Did It.
  • Unconventional Vehicle Chase: Knights on horses attacking a Winnebago, in what's both an Anachronism Stew and a Shout-Out to Westerns.
  • Weirdness Censor: Well I guess the Knights of Byzantium could always pass themselves off as a medieval reenactment group.
  • Wham Episode: Ben turns into Glory in front of everyone, slaughters all of the Knights of Byzantium, and takes Dawn. The episode ends with Buffy left in a catatonic state.
  • With All Due Respect: Gronx: "With all due respect, and a fear of sharp objects..."
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Buffy does all that she can to keep Dawn out of Glory's hands. She fails by the end of the episode.
  • You Just Had to Say It: While they're driving along, Dawn notes that things can't get any crazier. Almost as soon as she says that, an arrow punctures the window and lands near Buffy's head.


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