Spike: *counting on his fingers* Out... for... a... walk. *holds up a fifth finger* Bitch.
Two months ago, several monks rush to perform a ritual while a powerful force of some sort threatens their lives. In the present, Buffy stakes a vampire outside an abandoned building and gets caught by a night watchmen who thinks she's a teenager looking for a rave. As she turns to leave, he tells her not to forget her glow-ball, an orb Buffy doesn't recognise, but takes to investigate.
Buffy makes breakfast for Joyce, who is still experiencing headaches the doctors can't explain. Dawn takes the credit for making the breakfast, saying Buffy only helped. Joyce and Dawn bond, which makes Buffy feel like an outsider. Giles' grand opening of the Magic Box is less than successful, but eventually it becomes so popular that he can't handle the business by himself. Buffy presents the orb to Giles, who can't explain what it is straight away.
While picking up a prescription for her mother, Buffy sees the night watchman from before strapped to a gurney. He's less than stable, but manages to warn Buffy that her family will be attacked.
A monk works on a blueprint in an empty building when The Beast smashes through a large, steel door. It's revealed to be a slim, blonde woman. The Beast tries to torture information out of the monk but he won't tell her anything. She starts to speak crazily before pushing her fingers into the monk's head and draining the life force from him.
Buffy assumes the danger the night guard was talking about is causing Joyce's headaches. Anya recommends to Buffy that she perform a ritual which shows if any spells are affecting her family. Buffy, eager to let Riley feel useful, asks if he'd like to help her with the spell. He realises what she's doing and they agree to look after each other. Buffy performs the ritual in her bedroom before walking around the house to see if anything unusual is happening. Her mother appears fine, although her headaches continue. However, when Buffy passes Dawn's room, all of her belongings appear to fade in and out. All pictures containing Dawn have her flashing in and out of the image. When Buffy sees Dawn, Dawn herself beings fading in and out. She confronts her about it and concludes that Dawn isn't her sister. Buffy physically attacks Dawn and threatens her to stay away from Joyce. Dawn appears truly confused and doesn't know what's causing Buffy's sudden change in personality.
Giles calls to tell Buffy about the orb—the Dagon Sphere—and its purpose of protection from an unnamed evil. Buffy sets out for the abandoned building in hope of finding out more information, but encounters Spike lurking outside her house and demands to know what he's doing there. She's unsatisfied with his explanation but lets him off with a warning, leaving Spike frustrated. Looking down, Buffy sees a bunch of Spike's discarded cigarette butts, indicating he'd been loitering there for quite a while. She proceeds to return to the warehouse as Dawn watches the whole thing from her room.
Buffy quickly comes up against The Beast, who proves too powerful for the Slayer to handle. After taking a beating, Buffy manages to escape with a monk. The Beast throws a tantrum causing the room to crumble around her which delays her pursuit of Buffy.
At the Magic Box, Giles offers Anya a job, as he finds it too much to handle alone and knows that she enjoys handling the money.
In the last moments of his life, the monk warns Buffy that she must protect the Key. He tells her the Key is a collection of energy put into human form—Dawn's form. They sent her to the Slayer to be protected from those looking for it. Buffy doesn't understand, as she, her mother and all of her friends have memories of Dawn's whole life, but the monk tells her it's all false. He also tells her that Dawn has no idea she's anything but human but needs the love and protection of the Slayer, as well as her sister. The monk dies and Buffy returns home, shaken from her new knowledge. Buffy apologises to Dawn, with them both accepting they have at least one thing in common: concern for their mother.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Abandoned Warehouse: The monk is using one as his hideout; unfortunately it also makes a nicely isolated torture chamber for Glory.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: At the end of the episode, Buffy tries to apologize for her behavior, but Dawn just makes snarky remarks. She starts stroking her little sister's hair. Dawn doesn't protest.
- Almost Dead Guy: The monk Buffy rescues from Glory lives just long enough to tell Buffy about the Key (though not why it's so important to Glory).
- Always Murder: Averted, as Joyce's illness is entirely due to natural causes.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Giles bemoans the lack of customers, then gets swamped by more than he can handle.
- Blatant Lies: Spike's excuses for lurking outside Buffy's house.
- Book-Ends: The episode opens with Buffy defeating a huge vampire with the usual Casual Danger Dialogue, and concludes with Buffy getting her ass kicked by a quipping Glory.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: Buffy's grasp of French remains...questionable.Anya: He had this one spell demons just hated called tirer la couverture.
Buffy: "Rotate many foodstuffs"?
Willow: "Pull the curtain back."
- Bound and Gagged: The captive monk, via Duct Tape.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Dawn, even more than usual.
- Broken Heel: Glory breaks her heel chasing Buffy, stomps her foot in anger and ends up bringing the warehouse down on her head.
- Buffy Speak: Scooby-centric
- Call-Back: Giles' wizard outfit recalls the time Buffy was shocked to see him dressed as a Mexican with a sombrero.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Subverted; a sign of The Worf Effect is that Glory is delivering the quips while Buffy is hitting her.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Dagon Sphere is the first of several objects collected by the Scoobies which become useful in the season finale.
- Cosmic Retcon: Memories of Dawn's entire existence were planted in her family and friends' heads by the monks who transformed the Key into human form—despite not appearing in earlier seasons, she's retroactively always been around.
- Creepy Child: Dawn after Buffy's trance revelation.
- Defiant to the End: The monk refuses to talk despite Glory torturing him—to death, as it turns out.
- Description CutGiles: I just hope she isn't doing anything too rash. [cut to Buffy getting her ass kicked by Glory]
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Buffy does a meditative ritual to try to find out what's wrong with Joyce, it looks very much like she's getting high—she won't let Dawn into her room, burns incense and tries to cover it up by sticking a towel under the door, and afterward we see through her eyes and her sight is wonky. As Riley says beforehand, "Have a nice trip."
- Final Boss Preview: In their first encounter, Glory kicks Buffy's ass up and down a warehouse, showing just how far she'll have to go over the course of the rest of the season to take this new foe on.
- Fool for Love: After his Love Epiphany in the previous episode, Spike starts mooching around the home of his unrequited love interest.
- Buffy thinks that crazy people may be able to see past a glamour.
- Buffy enters the house and finds her mother lying on the couch, having suffered a relapse.
- Buffy does gain Flight as a superpower in the comic series.
- Funny Background Event: Willow's attempts at gift-wrapping in the Magic Box.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- Glory pulls herself between the monk's legs using the rope-belt attached at his groin level.
- Dawn hammers on the door while Buffy is trying to meditate.Dawn: What are you doing?
Buffy: My boyfriend!
- Joyce tells Buffy she didn't have any pet names for her. Dawn mutters, "I've got a few."
- Glamour Failure: The True Sight spell makes Dawn disappear, along with her picture in photos and all signs of her presence.
- He Who Must Not Be Named: Lampshaded by Giles, who points out that anything that goes unnamed is either an object of deep worship or great fear. Or both.
- Hypocritical Humor: Plenty of this from Glory.Glory: You hit me! What, are you crazy?
- I Have a Family: Said by the watchman whom Glory later mind-sucks.
- Incredibly Lame Fun: Giles' joy over his first customer.
- Irony: Dawn tells Buffy she's not really her sister as she's so awful.
- It's All About Me: Glory is raving to the Bound and Gagged monk, who for some reason is refusing to talk.
- Lame ComebackSpike: And I never liked you anyway, and you have stupid hair.
- Leave the Camera Running: Buffy enters the Magic Box and see Giles wearing a Robe and Wizard Hat. She stares at him without speaking for a long moment until Giles gets the message and puts the costume away.
- The Load: Buffy re Riley, now that he's been Brought Down to Normal. Worse, he knows it.
- Lotus Position: Buffy meditating.
- Mad Oracle: Buffy finds the security guard from the warehouse stark-raving and Strapped to an Operating Table; when he sees Buffy he shouts, "Don't think you're above it, missy. They come through the family! They get to your family!" This makes Buffy suspect that Joyce's illness may be due to supernatural causes.
- Madness Montage: Glory going crazy before we see her first Mind Rape.
- Motivational Kiss: Riley gives Buffy a good luck kiss on her forehead. Buffy says she needs more luck than that, so he smooches her on the lips as well.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Buffy takes the Dagon sphere away from the warehouse, allowing Glory to locate the monk.
- The Nicknamer: Spike tells off Buffy for "shagging Captain Cardboard."
- Oblivious to Love: Buffy is puzzled but not threatened by Spike's bizarre behaviour, a pattern that will continue until Dawn points out what's obvious in "Crush".
- Odd Couple: Seeing Anya's proficiency for retail, Giles hires her as his shop assistant.
- Oh, Crap!: Buffy is confident right up to the moment Glory breaks her grip and backhands her across the room.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Played for drama when Buffy discovers her little sister isn't what she appears to be. To Buffy it sounds like Dawn is making an Implied Death Threat, whereas she's just snarking at her big sister as usual.
- Percussive Therapy:
- After Dawn spills how Buffy didn't want him on patrol now that he's been Brought Down to Normal as he'd just get in the way, Riley says he's going to the training room for some physical rehab.
- Buffy decides on some rather flimsy evidence that her mother's illness is due to a Monster of the Week that she can track down and kill.
- Power Glows: The Scoobies are looking at the Dagon Sphere.Giles: It appears to be paranormal in origin.
Willow: How can you tell?
Giles: Well, it's so shiny.
- Punched Across the Room: Glory is quite impressed that she can't throw Buffy any further than that.Glory: I believe you've got superpowers! That is so cool. Can you fly? [knocks Buffy flying]
- The Reveal: Since the second episode of the season, the audience has been given dark hints as to what Dawn really is, why and how she brainwashed the Scoobies into thinking she was Buffy's sister and what her plan is. Right before the reveal, we have Dawn making what sounds like cryptic threats and acting somewhat sinister. And then we finally learn — that she has no plan, she really does think she's Buffy's sister, and she was sent to Buffy so the Slayer could protect her.
- Reality Ensues: Sorry, Buffy; magic isn't the reason behind your mom's brain tumor.
- Reality Warper: The Order of Dagon. Not only do they form the Key into Dawn, they make everyone (including Dawn herself) believe she's always been there.
- Right Behind Me: Giles asks how the revealing spell went. Just then Dawn appears, so Buffy quickly ends the conversation.
- Saying Too Much: Dawn does this deliberately by telling Riley that Buffy doesn't want to patrol with him because he's too weak, which incidentally makes him look cute and kitten-y.
- Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: The monks converted the Key (previously in the form of energy) into Dawn, knowing that the Slayer would then instinctively protect her.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Buffy reassures Giles he'll be making money hand over fist, then wordlessly tries to work out what that means.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Glory mouths, "Oh shit!" as the roof collapses on her.
- Spell My Name with a "The": The monks describe She Who Must Not Be Named as "The Beast" or "The Abomination".
- Stalker with a Crush: Buffy catches Spike lurking outside her house. A pile of cigarette butts shows he's been there for some time.
- Stating the Simple SolutionBuffy: We need to find out who's making my mom sick and how.
Willow: Then what?
Buffy: Then I hunt them... find them... and kill them.
- Super Strength:
- Ben is struggling to put restraints on the insane security guard when Buffy slams him down on the gurney. Ben is quite appreciative.
- When Buffy meets Glory, however, she effortlessly breaks her grip and punches Buffy clear across the warehouse and into the wall hard enough to break it, knocks chunks out of concrete pillars with her fists, and brings the whole warehouse down in a temper tantrum.
- Super Window Jump: After being curb-stomped by Glory, Buffy grabs the monk and jumps out the window with him.
- Switch to English: The monks speak Czech, as does Glory until she gets annoyed.Glory: [in Czech] We're in the New World now, so please, for God's sake [in English] speak American!
- Tempting Fate: Buffy appears unaware that Glory is sneaking up behind her, then she turns and grabs Glory by the neck.Buffy: ...I'm not stupid.
[Glory casually breaks her grip and smacks Buffy across the warehouse into the wall]
Glory: You sure about that last part?
- There Was a Door: Pretty much Glory's M.O. when she wants to make a Dynamic Entry.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Giles, overwhelmed by customers.Giles: Xander! There's too many of them... people! And they all seem to want things.
Xander: I hear ya. Stay British. You'll be okay.
[Pats Giles on the shoulder, then heads over to Anya]
Xander: The thousand-yard stare. Damn! You hate to see it on any man, but especially in retail.
- True Sight: Buffy performs a ritual to reveal any magic that might be causing Joyce's headaches. Instead, it causes Dawn and all signs of her presence to fade from Buffy's view, revealing her artificial origins.
- Use Your Head: Glory grabs Buffy by both arms and gleefully suggests they find out what would happen if Glory ripped her apart. Buffy headbutts her in the face.
- What Are You: Buffy demands this of Dawn.
- The Worf Effect: Buffy finds herself completely outclassed by Glory, who throws her around the warehouse for a while before Buffy manages to escape.