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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 20 - Spiral

1 March 2013

Synopsis: Buffy and Dawn only escape Glory when a truck hits her and she transforms into Ben. Buffy decides that they should all run and so Spike brings an RV round and they head out into the desert. On the road they are attacked by the Knights of Byzantium who wound Giles and crash the RV. The Scoobies hide out in an old gas station and call Ben to come and fix Giles.Spike driving the RV

The Good: Initially I thought this was going to be kind of silly as the Knights of Byzantium foolishly flopped around the RV but the last twenty minutes turned into pretty entertaining stuff as the tension ramped up.

Buffy was absolutely correct to flee in the face of Glory and the shame she felt over doing was understandable. The fact that the Knights managed to land a blow on Giles and topple the RV just about rescued their silly tactics (see The Bad). It also helped to have Wade Williams playing their General. He handled the exposition with aplomb and from his capture the tension began to build. His explanation finally told us what we needed to know about Glory and the Key. Thanks to Angel and the original vampire mythology, talk of dimensions opening doesn't sound silly to us, but rather becomes the greatest of all threats that Buffy has had to stop. I really enjoyed the argument she and the General had over the needs of the few versus the many. It's pretty hard to argue that Dawn should go on living when the fate of the universe is on the line. But Buffy loves her and is determined to save one human life if it's any way possible.

The arrival of Ben made the siege complete. Now we could see him as a real character for once, a man whose life has been disturbed and fabricated in a similar way to Dawn. Suddenly he was in a position to kill her and end all of this but for now chose to stand by Buffy. With Willow's barrier only buying time and the mental ward at the hospital rising as one to indicate bad things were going down the last twenty minutes built expertly to Glory's appearance and Buffy's collapse into misery to leave us wanting more.

The Bad: I don't remember seeing Glory run at Super-Man speed before and it seemed very convenient that she could. Where was that earlier in the season when the Scoobies kept hitting her and running away? You have to question Ben's intelligence. He brings Glory to the Key, knowing full well that he can't control when he turns. The same questions must be asked of the Knights of Byzantium who didn't attack the RV's tyres but instead fired arrows randomly. It’s also hard to understand why the Knights still use armour and horses when modern technology is at their disposal.

The Unknown: As much as I enjoyed this episode I did think Buffy's speech about running away should have come five or ten episodes ago. By the time Becoming came we knew exactly how much of a threat Angelus was and what Buffy would need to do to stop him. It's been clear for ages that Glory couldn't be stopped and we've only waited until now to panic because of the needs of the story. No matter how good the next two episodes turn out to be Glory will always suffer from that.

Best Moment: The exposition of Glory's origin story made sense of a season's worth of hints and brought the true horror of the Key to life while also raising the stakes of the ongoing siege. Nicely written and acted.

The Bottom Line: This got us from Glory knowing who the Key is to capturing Dawn. In between we had to put up with a lot of contrivance as the stakes were raised.

 

Cordia’s Second Look
Spiral

Season 5, Episode 20
Original airing: 5/8/2001

My Rating: 38

The Good: I appreciated that we learned more about the Key in this episode. The idea that Dawn could be used to literally destroy the universe is quite intense. I wish it had been presented differently (see The Bad), but the concept is solid as a way to up the ante here at the end of the season.

The Bad: Unfortunately, the rest of the episode left me cold. I dislike the sudden decision to run away. It felt very strange when they group hasn’t been working towards any strategy for dealing with Glory anyway. We haven’t seen any studying or planning. Suddenly, they don’t have any time left and the decision is to pile into an incredibly old and obvious camper and just drive. There should have been a plan in place for when Glory eventually figured out who was the Key.

Also on the note of running away, I think the decision to keep the group all together was pretty stupid too. Spike’s comment of a car for him, Dawn, and Buffy made much more sense to me.

Once they holed up in the gas station, I thought the decision making became stronger. Without wheels, Buffy is determined to keep everyone together and safe. There isn’t much more to do than to sit tight. Even the idea to call Ben was fine for me. However, his decision to come was pretty stupid.

This would have all been stronger for me if it had seemed like Ben was seriously considering killing Dawn. But even his little trick moment with the syringe didn’t feel too strong. All in all, his choice to stay in the gas station when he knows he could turn into Glory at any moment is nothing but pure folly and stupidity.

A big problem for this episode was that I felt like nothing happened until the last few moments. The running and hiding was active, but the important things that happened were all talking. It wasn’t very impactful.

Favorite Moment: There wasn’t a single moment in this episode that stood out to me as exemplary.

The Bottom Line: I was really disappointed in this episode. Many of the decisions made by the characters felt just plain stupid and that’s frustrating when I know the characters are smart. I can only hope the end of the season will go up from here with Glory finally getting her hands on Dawn.

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