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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S5E21 "Weight of the World"

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"You've carried the weight of the world since high school."
Willow Rosenberg

Directed by David Solomon

Written by Douglas Petrie

Glory prepares for the ritual to open the portal, talking to her minions and Dawn, who has no choice but to listen, as she's tied up and gagged. Spike reports that he can't see Glory anywhere, but the gang has a new problem, as Buffy has been reduced to a state of catatonia. Spike tries to violently shake Buffy back to normal, which only leads to a fight with Xander, and Willow forces the two guys apart with magic. With Buffy and Giles out of commission, Willow takes command and lays out a plan: the Scoobies will return to Sunnydale, where Xander will take Giles to the hospital, Anya will look after Tara, and Spike will track down Glory while Willow tries to help Buffy. Spike asks what to do if they run into Ben, only for everyone to get confused and tell Spike that Buffy doesn't need a doctor at the moment. Spike tries to remind them that Ben is Glory, and transformed into her right in front of them. However, no-one is able to recall this and they seem unable to grasp the idea. Spike realizes that a spell must be in effect that protects the information that Glory and Ben share a body from humans (being a vampire, Spike is immune).


Glory first attempts to comfort a frightened Dawn, but starts to lose her cool as she realizes she's feeling guilty. Willow prepares herself for a spell that will allow her into the mind of the Slayer. Things go as planned and Willow finds herself talking to a young Buffy. Willow witnesses Buffy's memory of baby Dawn being brought home by Joyce and Hank.

At the hospital where Giles was getting care, Xander fills him in on Willow's plans. Spike returns after investigating Glory's apartment with little information on her whereabouts. Dawn reveals to Glory that she remembers the transformation from Ben. This really worries Glory as she realizes Ben is closer to the surface than before; indeed, the power that separates Ben and Glory's memories and personalities has started to dissolve, and the Scoobies gradually recall the memory of Ben transforming into Glory. She asks her High Priest to have Ben taken out of her body, but it is the price she is paying for using the power of the Key. In Buffy's mind, Willow watches Buffy shelve a book at the Magic Box, followed by Buffy's memory of the First Slayer telling her that "death is [her] gift."


Glory brags to Dawn about her superiority, but Dawn knows there is one person who can beat the god: Buffy. Meanwhile, in Buffy's mind, Willow visits a 20-year-old Buffy at her house. Buffy calmly acknowledges that death is her gift, before going to Dawn's room and smothering the young girl with a pillow, much to Willow's horror. Glory finds her body taken over by Ben, and after some encouragement from Dawn, Ben takes her and runs. Willow watches as scenes from earlier begin to repeat and baby Dawn is brought home again.

Spike and Xander visit Doc for information on Glory; there, Xander suddenly remembers that Glory and Ben are sharing a body, signifying that the spell protecting the information is weakening. The two then notice Doc's shifty attempts to hide a small carved box, quickly finding that he also worships Glory. With his super speed and long tongue, Doc has the guys at a disadvantage. He throws the box into the fireplace and attacks. Spike is able to recover the box while Xander stabs the reptilian creature with a sword. The two leave with the box, but after they've gone, Doc's eyes open. In Buffy's mind, before Buffy can go to kill Dawn again, Willow stops her and asks her why.

A good distance away from Glory's hideout, Dawn breaks away from Ben and knocks him out with a chain, but this only allows Glory to re-emerge. Ben and Glory battle for control of the body until Glory strikes up a deal: if Ben cooperates in sacrificing Dawn, Glory will ensure that Ben will not die after the ritual is completed, and will grant him immortality and an independent existence away from her. Out of self-preservation, Ben agrees, and hands Dawn over to Glory's minions.

Willow asks Buffy about the significance of the seemingly mundane scene of placing a book on a shelf. Buffy explains that was the exact moment when, in her heart, she gave up hope of defeating Glory. She thinks she is the reason Glory has Dawn and Dawn will soon die. Willow tells her that it's not over yet and she can still do something to stop it.

Buffy finally comes out of her state, crying and collapsing into Willow's arms. As they return to the magic shop, Xander tells Buffy that Ben and Glory are one and the same. After reviewing the information Spike stole from Doc, Giles reveals that a bloodletting ceremony will occur to open the portal, and once it begins there is only one way to stop it: Dawn must be killed.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Above Good and Evil: Glory sees herself above the people of Earth due to her status as a god. When Ben starts affecting her, she doesn't even know what the word "guilt" is until Dawn explains it.
  • Amnesia Loop: Played for Laughs
    Spike: Oh, I get it. That's very crafty. Glory's worked the kind of mojo where anyone who sees her little presto-change-o instantly forgets. And yours truly, being somewhat other than human... stands immune.
    Willow: [frowning] So... Ben and Glory... are-are the same person?
    Xander: [slowly, like a revelation] Glory can turn into Ben, and Ben turns back into Glory.
    Anya: And anyone who sees it instantly forgets.
    Spike: Kewpie doll for the lady. [he puts one finger on his nose and points the other hand at Anya]
    Giles: Excellent. [looks around at them] Now. Do we suspect there may be some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?
    [Spike sighs]
  • Angst Coma: Buffy spends most of the episode catatonic over her failure to protect Dawn. Willow performs a Journey to the Center of the Mind to snap her out of it.
  • Badass Boast
    Gronx: The portal shall open.
    Murk: And the great Glorificus shall return!
    Glory: To the hell I came from! Where I'm gonna rain down more super-sized portions of slaughter, mayhem and bloodshed than any of you scabs can even dream about.
  • Becoming the Mask: Glory starts picking up Ben's sense of humanity and is not happy. Likewise, Ben starts picking on Glory's It's All About Me attitude.
  • Black Blood: Doc very conspicuously bleeds blue when Xander runs the kindly-old-grandfather-looking demon through with a sword.
  • Blatant Lies: Spike quickly figures out that Doc is feeding them lies.
    Spike: You're lying. And what's more, I think you're standing right in front of what we need.
  • Bound and Gagged: Dawn.
  • Break Them by Talking: Glory delivers this speech for the entire human race.
    Glory: I look around at this world you're so eager to be a part of... and all I see is six billion lunatics looking for the fastest ride out. Who's not crazy? Look around. Everyone's drinking, smoking, shooting up... shooting each other, or just plain screwing their brains out 'cause they don't want 'em anymore. I'm crazy? Honey, I'm the original one-eyed chicklet in the kingdom of the blind. 'Cause at least I admit the world makes me nuts.
  • Building is Welding: The crazies begin building something for Glory.
  • Buffy Speak
    Willow: I think we already deja'd this vu.
    Young Buffy: [giggles] You talk funny.
    Willow: Yes. As you'll tell me again when we're older and in chem class.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: Spike lights up in front of a No Smoking sign in the hospital. He then breathes it in Giles face, after he's just got up from his hospital bed.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: As the "Big Day" draws near and Ben and Glory's personalities influence one another, Ben no longer changes his clothes and remains in Glory's gown.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Willow can't help smiling at ponytailed Young!Buffy, who in turn is taken by Baby!Dawn.
  • Deadpan Snarker
    Xander: How you doing?
    Giles: It only hurts while I answer pointless questions.
  • Description Cut
    Glory: Name one person who can take it here. That's all I'm asking.
    Dawn: [firmly] Buffy.
    [Cut to Buffy sitting catatonic in a chair.]
  • Dissonant Serenity: Dream!Buffy Mercy Killing a sick Dawn by smothering her with a pillow.
  • Dope Slap: Annoyed over constantly having to explain that Ben is Glory, Spike engages in a little Percussive Therapy.
    Spike: This is going to be Worth It. [slaps Xander and both men scream in pain]
  • Evil Old Folks: Doc reveals his true self.
  • Eye Awaken: Xander impales Doc with a sword, leaving him dead on the floor. After Xander and Spike leave, his eyes open again.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Ben decides that his only option for survival is to side with Glory.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Spike helps himself to a blood bag in the hospital.
  • Foreshadowing: For Season 6 Spuffy.
    Spike: I'm willing to wager, when all is said and done, Buffy likes it rough.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Buffy's friends try to talk her out of her comatose state gently. Spike gets annoyed and starts shaking and then punches Buffy. When the other Scoobies object, Spike points out that the Slayer's Made of Iron nature means he doesn't have to be delicate.
    "Personally, I think Buffy likes it rough."
  • Glamour Failure: The Scoobies start remembering Ben is Glory as the spell keeping their identities separate weakens.
  • The Glasses Come Off: Doc removes his glasses before attacking, perhaps to make his CGI conversion to Black Eyes of Evil easier.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: While struggling with his Glory side in the alley, Ben smashes a bottle and threatens to kill Dawn with the jagged edge. He then reverts to Glory, who smashes the bottle completely and says he wasn't going to do it anyway.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Buffy's mind keeps replaying three scenes: the moment her parents brought baby Dawn home, the moment in the Magic Shop where she lost hope and wished it was all over, and a fantasy scene where she smothers Dawn to death.
  • Happy Place: Buffy's memories where her parents are still together and Dawn was a cute baby.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: As Glory points out to Ben, it's "too late to grow a backbone now."
  • Heroic B So D: The idea that a moment of doubt had caused her to fail in her mission to protect Dawn caused Buffy to mentally check out for several hours, scaring the heck out of her friends and requiring magic to snap her out of it.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Glory freaks out when she realizes that the powers separating her from and Ben are breaking down, causing her to gain his emotions and humanity. She pleads with her High Priest minion to remove Ben from her body for this reason, outright describing Ben as "infecting" her.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: In Buffy's mind, she repeats the same images over and over again; one of them was her placing a book back on the shelf in the Magic Shop. She explains to Willow that, in that moment, she gave up on saving Dawn and wished her little sister would die, just so the fear would be over.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Doc. It doesn't stick.
  • It's All About Me: Ben obviously didn't start like this, but when his mind starts to merge with Glory's and he gains some of her selfishness (and she his humanity)... Oh boy. You can pinpoint the exact moment when it all comes down and he (mostly) stops caring about his conscience.
  • It's All My Fault: After falling catatonic, Buffy admits to Willow in her mind that she blames herself for Dawn's capture because some part of her had wanted it to happen, unable to bear all the pressure of protecting her against a Glory any longer. However, Buffy comes to her senses and Willow manages to convince her to return to the real world where she's needed.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Ben and Glory fight for control.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: When Buffy goes catatonic, Willow uses magic to enter her mind.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Glory's lunatics kneel before the Key.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Glory begins experiencing an influx of human emotions – particularly guilt – as the veil between herself and Ben, her human host, grows weaker. She's more disturbed at feeling the feeling than the feeling itself.
  • Mind Screw: The scenes in Buffy's mind, featuring lots of symbolism, doppelgangers, repetition, and Buffy's Issues.
  • Monster Lord: The "High Priest Minion", who is taller and dresses in red robes instead of the brown monk-like robes of the rest of Glory's minions.
  • Mood Dissonance: Willow, as usual. "I know you, you're the First Original Slayer that tried to kill us in our dreams... how ya doing?"
  • Nerves of Steel: Glory's high priest is cut from a bolder cloth than the rest of her snivelling minions. He tells her plainly that he can do nothing for her suffering because she, like everything else her actions will affect, must pay the price for them.
  • Only Sane Man: Spike feels this way trying to explain the whole Ben is Glory thing.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: It's not the first time Willow has gotten the others to stop squabbling and focus on the task at hand—but her Tranquil Fury and casual display of power scares the everloving crap out of the others.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Ben starts to remember all those Glory has killed.
    Ben: [staring at his hands] All the blood. I can feel it... still warm and... wet. Glory. Oh, God. She slaughtered hundreds of men. But I can feel them... breaking.
  • Overly Long Tongue: Doc's tongue is long enough to be weaponized.
  • Power at a Price: The High Priest explains that the merging of personalities between Glory and Ben is her own fault.
    High Priest: You risk terrible magics opening the portal. Nothing comes without a price. This is yours.
  • Quit Your Whining: Willow does this to Buffy.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Sarah Michelle Gellar was away for a great deal of time when the end of season five was shot, as she was filming Scooby-Doo in Australia, which is why she features very little in this episode. Doug Petrie told The BBC Buffy website about how they thought of a way to overcome the problem:
    We knew for some weeks in advance what her schedule would be like and we were all very interested in accommodating that schedule. But we had the second-to-last episode of the season and no Buffy. What do you do? Joss and I were both big fans of the Doctor Strange comics. Dr Strange was a mystic magician who lived in Greenwich Village, New York and could leave his body. His astral self would go off on these adventures.
  • Rescued from the Underworld: Buffy goes catatonic, requiring a Journey to the Center of the Mind by Willow to help her snap out of it.
  • Running Gag: Spike keeps having to explain that Ben is Glory.
  • Split-Personality Merge: The barriers separating Ben and Glory from one another begin to break down. While they still inhabit Ben's body separately, their memories and personalities begin to merge together. This leads to Glory manifesting Ben's empathy and humanity, and Ben inheriting Glory's selfishness and ruthlessness.
  • Tap on the Head / Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Worried that Ben will turn back into Glory, Dawn hits him over the head with a bunch of chain. Unfortunately, knocking out Ben only enables Glory to surface.
  • Talking to Themself: Glory tries to convince Ben to come over to her side, promising him immortality instead of oblivion.
  • Talk to the Fist: Xander punches Spike for making the "Buffy likes it rough" comment.
  • Terms of Endangerment
    Dawn: Don't call me Dawnie.
    Glory: Huh. Wow. You know, that actually hurt my feelings.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Young Buffy and Dawn inside Buffy's head.
  • Title Drop: Done courtesy of Willow Rosenberg.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Doc reveals his true colors. They're black and scaly.
  • Villainous Demotivator: Glory first starts to realise she's Not Herself when she hesitates to kill two of her minions for griping about packing up all her shoes.
    Glory: Guys! I'm not gonna kill you. [frowns in puzzlement] Not in the mood. What do you think that's about?
    Gronx: In mercy does your power lie?
    Glory: No, Brainless; in torture, death and chaos does my power lie. So tell me, why am I not popping your head like a zit right now?
  • Vorpal Pillow: Part of Buffy's dream loop involves her calmly smothering Dawn with a pillow.
  • Wham Line:
    Giles: The portal will only close once the blood is stopped. And the only way for that to happen is... Buffy, the only way is to kill Dawn.
    Doc: You think only underworld bottom-feeders worship the Beast?
  • Worth It: Spike knows if he hits Xander the chip in his head (that causes him pain when he's violent toward humans) will activate. However, when he keeps having to explain the same information to him again and again due to magical amnesia, he decides it's worth the pain to slap him in the back of the head. The look on his face afterwards suggests that it was indeed worth it to do it.
  • What Is This Feeling?: Glory is distressed to find herself comforting Dawn and getting hurt that she rebuffs her, and realizes it means the distinction between her and Ben is breaking down.
  • You Are in Command Now: Willow takes charge of the squabbling and indecisive Scoobies.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!
    Willow: Try anything stupid, like payback, and I will get very cranky.