Spiral (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"Spiral"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy5x20.jpg
After Dawn is captured by Glory, Buffy falls to the ground and goes into a catatonic state
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 20
Directed by James A. Contner
Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Production code 5ABB20
Original air date May 8, 2001
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Tough Love"
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"The Weight of the World"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Spiral" is the 20th episode of season 5 of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Plot synopsis[edit]

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 after which she transforms into Ben, ending the chase. The gang gathers in Xander's apartment to discuss possible plans of action, where Buffy surprises everyone by declaring that they will never be able to defeat Glory and the only way to stay alive is to leave Sunnydale, to which the gang reluctantly agrees. Spike solves their transportation problem by providing a sun-protected Winnebago, and Buffy allows him to accompany them. Though Giles and Xander are anything but pleased by this, 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 clear that the topic is not open for discussion.

Ben talks to one of Glory's minions, who reminds him that he is just a human body encasing Glory's god form and that upon her full rejuvenation, he will die; Ben, knowing this, states that he will do anything in his power to keep his life, even destroying the Key (whom he knows to be Dawn). The Knights of Byzantium retrieve their crazed member from the hospital, who babbles that the Key is the Slayer's sister; their General, Gregor, orders the Knights to assemble for battle. 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 (to the complete surprise of everyone but Buffy, who had never told the Scoobies about her earlier encounter with the Knights). 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 thrown spear, causing the RV to crash onto its side.

The Scoobies rush to an abandoned gas station, where Buffy fends off a siege by the Knights until Willow erects a barrier spell; General Gregor, having fallen during the siege, is also contained in Willow's forcefield with the others, making him an unanticipated prisoner of war. Meanwhile, at the hospital, all those left crazy by Glory repeatedly mutter, "It's time."

Spike suggests to Xander that they run, with some (most notably himself) sacrificing their lives so the other can escape, but Buffy refuses to let anyone die. The now-revived Gregor taunts Buffy over the dissension in her ranks, but Buffy silences his mockery with a blow to the face, prompting him to be more cooperative. He provides the answers that have eluded the Scoobies since Glory's arrival in Sunnydale, revealing Glory was banished from her home dimension by her fellow hellgods when her power threatened to overwhelm even them. The magic which would allow Glory to return to her dimension was embodied in the powerful Key, which the Knights sought to destroy but which a sect of monks instead concealed from both Glory and the Knights, hoping to eventually uses the Key's power for good. In the intervening years, both Glory and the Knights have hunted for the monks and the Key, but Glory ultimately found the monks first (as seen in No Place Like Home). Before Glory slaughtered the monks, they converted the Key into the form of Dawn, confident Buffy would protect her. The Knights, arriving too late to prevent the monks' deaths, remained in Sunnydale, where they, like Glory, sought to wrest the Key from Buffy's control. Glory's goal is to use Dawn's blood in a ritual to open a portal, allowing her to return to her home dimension and avenge herself on her hellgod enemies.

Buffy is initially incredulous that Glory's plan is to simply depart Earth and presumably cease to be of any concern to humanity, but Gregor further explains that Dawn's power will, in opening the portal, dissolve the boundaries between dimensions, whose occult forces will leak into the Earth dimension and ultimately destroy humanity; Glory herself is well aware of these facts, Gregor adds, but she will gladly allow such chaos so long as she can return to gain her revenge. However, if Dawn dies before Glory finds her, Glory's plan is doomed to failure and the dimensional boundaries, including those that protect Earth, will remain safe, and it is for this reason the Knights seek Dawn's death.

Although shaken by these revelations, Buffy remains dedicated to protecting Dawn's life and defeating Glory before she can use Dawn in her ritual. Gregor also informs Buffy that, upon Glory's banishment, she was bound to a newborn human male, who has served as her host body ever since and who is now an adult, whose identity the Knights, despite their best efforts, have yet to learn (but whom the audience knows to be Ben); if that man is killed while in mortal form, then Glory, within him, will also perish and, without the threat of Glory's ritual, Dawn herself will pose no further danger to the dimensional boundaries. Buffy is adamant that it is Glory, not Dawn, who will die.

Realizing that Giles is seriously injured, Buffy, through Xander, arranges a deal with the Knights to allow Ben to safely pass and treat Giles' injuries in return for Gregor's guaranteed safety; Ben stabilizes Giles, and then is left alone with Gregor. Recognizing Ben as an outsider (although not as Glory's host body), Gregor tries to tempt him into killing Dawn, whose death will end the conflict as far as the Knights, who have no other quarrel with Buffy and the Scoobies, are concerned. Ben realizes that Glory is about to take over his body, but before he can get outside the forcefield, Glory comes forth, stunning the Scoobies and horrifying Gregor. Exuberant that Ben has "finally [done] something right," she kills Gregor, fights off the Scooby Gang to take Dawn, and bursts through the forcefield. 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. Having lost Dawn to Glory after going through so much to protect her -- having in fact unknowingly guaranteed Glory's victory by extorting the Knights to allow Ben through the forcefield to begin with -- Buffy suffers an emotional breakdown and collapses into a state of shock.

Arc significance[edit]

  • During Buffy's negotiations to save Giles, it is mentioned that ten of the Knights are dead. The Knights are known by Buffy to be normal humans and it is clear she was willing to kill them since she deliberately impaled one with an axe during the fight on the RV's roof. Until this point in the series, Buffy has not directly killed or deliberately attempted to kill another normal human until a what if moment in Season 6. No mention is made of the significance of this, despite her reaction to Faith accidentally killing Allan Finch in Bad Girls. Unlike Finch, however, the Knights are highly trained warriors with access to magical weapons, which may have affected Buffy's treatment of them.
  • In contrast, Spike initially assumes the Knights are non-humans, since he eagerly attacks one during the siege, only for his chip implant to inflict pain upon him as "punishment" for attacking a human. Although this, as Xander is quick to point out, makes Spike virtually useless against the Knights, Spike is nonetheless prepared to sacrifice himself in battle to allow the others a chance to escape, but Buffy vetoes the idea.
  • This episode shows how the Scooby gang (mostly Giles and Xander) still dislikes Spike. Giles tells Spike to get out of the trailer, Buffy says "we need him, he is the only one strong enough besides me that can protect us." Buffy and Dawn are the only ones who seem to have looked past the previous wrongdoings of Spike. However, Xander and Spike share a brief bonding moment following the initial siege, with Spike confiding his willingness to sacrifice himself in battle so Buffy and the others can escape.
  • This episode explains the significance of Ben and Glory's connection, along with the reason why Glory ends up on Earth and her plans for using the Key.
  • In his negotiation with the Knights, Xander again calls upon his admittedly fading military expertise, which he magically acquired during Season Two.
  • Willow is again seen with dark eyes when casting the spell to protect the group while in the shack; this becomes more significant during the next season, especially the 'Dark Willow' arc from "Seeing Red" to "Grave".

Cultural references[edit]

External links[edit]