Forever (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy and Dawn at their mother's funeral
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 17
Directed byMarti Noxon
Written byMarti Noxon
Production code5ABB17
Original air dateApril 17, 2001
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"The Body"
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 5)
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Forever" is the 17th episode of season 5 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Scooby Gang attends Joyce's funeral, and Angel visits to pay his respects. The day after the funeral, Dawn attempts to bring her mother back to life. Also, Glory learns that the Key is in human form.


Buffy selects a coffin for her mother with Giles and Dawn. Dawn expresses her concern that their mother would not have appreciated Buffy's choice. Later, the gang gathers for dinner at the Summers residence and discusses plans for the funeral, excluding Dawn from any decision making.

Spike, while bringing a bouquet of flowers to the Summers home, runs into Willow and Xander. A brief spat occurs when Xander misinterprets this as Spike taking advantage of the situation to get closer to Buffy, while Spike insists that he was attempting to pay his respects to Joyce, as she was the only one of Buffy's "lot" that ever treated him decently. When it becomes clear that Xander won't be convinced otherwise, an irritated Spike throws the bouquet down and storms off, and it is only after he departs that Willow and Xander discover that he hadn't included a card with the flowers and recognize the sincerity of the gesture.

The next day, a group of people gather at a cemetery for Joyce's funeral. Dawn leaves with Tara and Willow while Buffy remains at the grave. Hours later, after the sun has set, Angel appears beside her. Inconsolable regarding the loss of her mother, Dawn reveals to Tara and Willow her intent to perform a resurrection spell. After making love, Anya tells Xander how special it is to be able to create life, and how sex has become much more meaningful. Tara tries to convince Dawn that magic can't be used to alter the natural order of things, such as life and death, and tells her that Wiccans took an oath disallowing resurrection. In the graveyard, Angel does his best to comfort Buffy when she worries how she will continue without Joyce's strength, and if there was any chance she could have saved her mother. Angel offers to stay in town for as long as she needs him, and Buffy asks him to stay with her forever. The two kiss sweetly but pull away, knowing nothing more can happen. Buffy expresses her gratitude, and he stays with her until the sun rises. Ben encounters Jinx, saying that he will not help Glory and he is tired of her games, but accidentally makes a comment that leads Jinx to conclude that the Key is human. Not wanting Glory to learn this fact, Ben stabs the minion with his own knife.

The next morning, Dawn is sulking over Willow and Tara's refusal to help her. As she leaves, Willow magically pulls a book out from the bookshelf to make it noticeable. Alone, Dawn retrieves the book, identifying the section about resurrection spells. Later, at the Magic Box, Dawn sneaks up to the loft after Giles tells her that's where he keeps his most dangerous books. She slips several items into her backpack. While collecting dirt from Joyce's grave that night, Dawn is caught by Spike, who recognizes her actions, but shocks her by offering to help.

Meanwhile, Giles is seen drinking at home, reminiscing while listening to old records. Spike, claiming to dislike seeing Summers women "take it so hard on the chin," makes Dawn promise not to tell Buffy of his involvement in her plans. Glory fumes about Ben after Jinx returns to her wounded, but quickly cheers up when he informs her that the Key is human. In the home of a man named Doc, Dawn and Spike receive an incantation, but learn that they need a Ghora demon's egg and a picture of Joyce. Doc advises Dawn that the results might not be what she wants and that if she wishes to undo the spell, she must tear up the image. Spike takes Dawn to a Ghora demon nest, where he plays interference with the three-headed demon while Dawn gets an egg, which she drops in her haste. During their second attempt, Spike is bitten by the Ghora, but kills it in turn.

Tara realizes that A History of Witchcraft is missing from their shelf and after concluding that Dawn took it, she and Willow (who is sheepishly feigning surprise) decide to call Buffy. Buffy hears about Dawn's spell just as she is finishing it upstairs in her room. When Buffy confronts her, the two girls get into a vicious argument about their different ways of dealing with their mother's death. Dawn accuses Buffy of being so busy arranging everything that she doesn't care that their mother is dead, earning herself a slap across the face from her sister. Buffy immediately regrets her action and admits that she's keeping busy so she doesn't have to deal with the situation, because when she stops then her mother is really gone. During their argument, a figure emerges from Joyce's grave and walks toward the house. A shadow passes by the front window followed by a knocking on the door, and Buffy, hoping it's Joyce, rushes to answer the door. Dawn immediately realizes the inherent dangers of the spell and rips up the photo, and when Buffy answers the door all she finds is an empty step. This is too much for Buffy and she starts to cry, finally facing the reality of her mother's death. A sobbing Dawn hugs her, and they collapse to the floor united in grief.

Production details[edit]

Writer and director Marti Noxon says, "To me, the idea of wanting to defy death is just an inherent, almost mythological, iconic notion. It’s something we can relate to...a universal longing." She says the idea for this episode arose from the idea that Dawn would be in the bargaining stage of mourning, and "if you were in Sunnydale and someone you loved died, you would absolutely call on the forces of darkness to resurrect them."[1]

The magical-resurrection plot thread of this story bears a strong resemblance to the 1902 short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs.

Cultural references[edit]

  • While searching for an incantation to give to Dawn and Spike, Doc hums a few bars from "Peter and the Wolf".
  • The ending, where a knock on the door, then the opening to nothing is reminiscent of the ending to "The Monkey's Paw".
  • The three headed Gorah demon is a reference to King Ghidorah a three headed Japanese Kaiju.[citation needed]
  • Ben refers to Jinx and the other demons that worship Glory as Jawa rejects, a reference to the species of characters in Star Wars who wear similar robe attire and are also small in stature.


  • Willow magically pulls out the book that deals on Resurrection for Dawn, which shows Willow is willing to alter life to ease one's pain. This is crucial in Season 6.
  • Angel next appears in the last two episodes of season 7.
  • This episode marks the first sign of Dawn's kleptomania.

Arc significance[edit]

  • Dawn is shown thinking of and performing a Resurrection Spell. Tara shows her fear and stern belief that it is wrong to mess with the natural selection of life, but Willow is shown to be a little more lenient. This foreshadows Willow's ever increasing abuse of magic and her resurrection of Buffy in the Season 6 opener.
  • Ben also reveals to Glory's minions that the key is a human being. In previous episodes Glory didn't know whether the key was a human or an inanimate object and so this leads her closer to revealing Dawn's identity.
  • The record Giles is shown listening to (Cream's Disraeli Gears, specifically "Tales of Brave Ulysses") is the same record he played for Joyce in "Band Candy".
  • This is the first appearance of the character Doc, who later featured in the season finale The Gift, where his interference prevents Spike from rescuing Dawn, and so leads directly to Buffy's death.


  1. ^ "Interview with Marti Noxon", BBC, retrieved 2007-09-14

External links[edit]