Previously: The Scoobies made a run for it in a Winnebago, but Giles got lanced by a crazy horse-riding knight. Buffy called Ben to come help, and obviously he turned into Glory and took Dawn. Womp womp.
The Weight of the World
Kirsti: After the previouslies, we’re at Glory’s. Her Flattery Demons are packing up all her stuff and talking about how they’re already behind schedule. Glory, meanwhile, is trying on some kind of robe thingy. She overhears her minions talking smack about her, and wonders out loud why she doesn’t have the urge to kill them for it. She follows it up with a ramble about all the chaos she’s going to cause when she gets home, then asks why she isn’t happy. “What do you think?” she says, and the camera pans across to a bound, gagged, and crying Dawn sitting in a chair.
Cut to the petrol station. Spike informs the gang that he’s successfully hot wired Ben’s car, so they can leave. Xander asks Giles if he’s up for moving, and he replies that Buffy’s more important than him. Willow looks worried, and says that it’s been nearly half an hour, and that she’s not sure Buffy’s actually in there. The camera pans across to show us a zoned out Buffy sitting quietly in the corner. Willow calls her name repeatedly, but there’s no response. Cue wolf howl.
After the credits, Spike’s trying his luck with yelling at Buffy. Still no response. Willow worries about the medical side of moving her. Giles thinks she’s in a catatonic state. Spike’s not having a bar of it, and shakes Buffy repeatedly. When that fails, he slaps her and Xander shoves him away. Spike gets panicky about Buffy’s lack of response and goes to shake her again. Xander intervenes, and they face off. But before they can fight, Willow separates them with magic. She steps up to the plate and BAMFs out a plan: they’ll head back to Sunnydale, then Anya will watch Tara, Xander will take Giles to the hospital, Spike will find where Glory’s hiding out, and she’ll help Buffy.
Sweeney: I love all these strong Willow scenes, and I love that it’s not just the magic, but also her increasing assertiveness too.
Lorraine: I love the assertiveness too. I’m trying not to worry about where this is headed because you two don’t seem very concerned. Or you’re playing with my emotions.
K: Spike’s all,”don’t kill the messenger for pointing out the flaw in the plan, but what do we do if Ben turns up?” The gang are confused because they don’t see what Ben has to do with anything. There’s some back and forth in which Spike’s explains that Ben literally just turned into Glory in front of them. The Scoobies are all “Uhhh. Whut?” This culminates in a typical piece of Spike brilliance:
The gang still don’t get it, and Spike works out that there’s some kind of magic in place that stops humans from remembering. He explains a few more times, but as soon as they understand, they instantly forget again. Spike headdesks a little, which is understandable. BRB, checking for tally marks.
Lor: A+ Who-gifing. I approve.
K: Back in Sunnydale, we’re at a construction site. All the workers are people who’ve been brain sucked by Glory. She sweeps in, dragging Dawn behind her, and all the workers bow down before her as she passes.
Sweeney: Didn’t give it a whole lot of thought as I was watching, but man, that’s adding major insult to epic injury. They’re now like enslaved cultists doing the bidding of the thing that sucked their brains out? Rough break, random extras.
K: Seriously. Also, Whedon REALLY hates religion…
Glory heads into a room and shuts the crazy people out. A Flattery Demon starts mumbling at Dawn in Czech, and Glory’s all “Dude, WTF?” He informs her that the Key has to be anointed, and Glory does an excellent impersonation of Dawn, yelling “Get out, get out, GET OUT!” It’s less screamy though, which is a plus. The Flattery Demons leave, and Glory rubs the ash mark off Dawn’s forehead before asking if she’s okay. Dawn tearfully says that she wants to go home, and Glory informs her that she’s about to. Dawn looks surprised, but Glory didn’t mean 1630 Revello, she meant her real home – in the lock-y thing that the Key fits into.
Dawn starts crying and begs Glory to stop. But she makes it worse by postulating that she and Dawn are the same – both girls who are wearing human costumes but meant for bigger things. Dawn gets pissed because Glory calls her Dawnie, and Glory says that her feelings are hurt. Also that she’s feeling guilty, and that’s not meant to happen on account of she’s a god. She accuses Dawn of doing some kind of spell to make her feel all the feels. Dawn says she didn’t do anything, but Glory calls the Flattery Demons back in to finish anointing Dawn. She then does the compulsory Reveal the Bad Guy’s Plan thing, and informs Dawn that her blood is the key to the Key, and that she’s going to die the following day.
Cut to Xander’s gift apartment. Anya asks Willow if she knows what she’s doing, and Willow’s not sure but she has to try. Tara crazies in the background, and Willow calms her before leaving her in Anya’s care and heading into the bedroom. She lights a few candles, then sits on the bed opposite Buffy who sits unmovingly in an office chair. Willow stares at her for a second, then there’s a bright flash and Willow’s suddenly in a bright, colourful room. The camera pans around enough to show us that it’s not anywhere familiar. Willow wanders through various rooms and looks family photos, then a little girl’s voice say,s “Hi Willow.” The camera pans down to show us a pigtailed blonde five year old sitting at a table holding a doll. “Hello Buffy,” Willow replies, and we fade to black.
Sweeney: This was a cute little moment, in which Willow insta-recognizes her BFF from a decade before they actually met. Obvs being in Buffy’s brain helps make that connection, but I prefer to think of it as some combination of having seen pictures of bitty Buffy around her house and recognizes the similarities in features, if we suspend disbelief and pretend this kid actually looks like SMG.
K: YUP. After the Not Commercial Break, Spike’s kicking in the door at Glory’s apartment. It’s abandoned. He wanders around for a minute, then heads through a doorway which turns out to lead to Ben’s room.
Cut back to Mini-Buffy. She asks Willow why she’s there. Willow replies that she was looking for Buffy, and says that she needs Buffy to go back with her, because they need her. Mini-Buffy says that it’s a big day for her, and then the front door opens. Joyce and Hank walk in, and Mini-Buffy runs over to them. They’ve just brought Baby-Dawn home from the hospital, and there’s some “You’re a big sister now” stuff that Mini-Buffy baulks at because she thinks it means less attention for her.
But then Joyce hands her Baby-Dawn and Mini-Buffy asks if sometimes she can help look after her. “Yes, Buffy. You can take care of her.” Joyce says. We cut back to Willow, who’s watching this take place. There’s movement behind her, and she turns to see Present Day Buffy walking past. She follows her, and the set changes to the Magic Box. Present Day Buffy shelves a book, and Willow looks confused. She turns back to where Mini-Buffy was, and is suddenly standing in the desert next to an open fire. “O…kay?” she says.
Lor: We’ve had five seasons of evidence, but again: Buffy’s head is a funny place.
K: At the hospital, Xander helps Giles put his jacket on, and then fills Giles in on Willow’s spell. There’s another dose of “magic is bad, yo” as Giles is shocked that Willow can do such an advanced spell, then he says that they should check on Glory’s brainsuck victims while they’re there. Xander says he’s already checked it out, and they’ve all left the hospital. Spike turns up and informs them that Glory’s apartment is abandoned. He then says that he knows someone who may be able to help them – a demon-y someone who’s basically a last resort, but they’re basically down to last resorts. He then says that he found Ben’s room at Glory’s apartment, and Xander’s all “Wait, what??” Spike decides that it’s worth it, and slaps Xander across the back of the head. They both grab their heads in pain.
Back to the construction site. Glory’s moping to the Flattery Demons about how she’s starting to remember all of Ben’s memories. She asks Dawn if she remembers that they called Ben to help them, and that he then turned into her. Dawn says that she does, and Glory freaks out because no one’s meant to remember that. She begs the Flattery Demon who did the anointing to get Ben out of her because she can’t take all the feels any more. She briefly turns into Ben, who says that she can’t hurt Dawn, then collapses on the floor.
She begs some more, but the Flattery Demon says that he can’t because this is the price to pay for opening the portal. Glory decides that she can’t wait any more and grabs Dawn.
Cut back to the fire in the desert. The First Slayer is there, and Willow makes a Restless reference. The First Slayer repeats what she told Buffy on the quest – that death is her gift. Both Willow and Buffy are confused, and then they’re back in the Magic Box with Buffy shelving the same book again. Willow turns and sees another version of Present Day Buffy walking down the upstairs hallway at Chez Summers. She follows her.
The Flattery Demons, meanwhile, are informing Glory that she can’t kill Dawn now because then they’ll all be stuck here forever, and EW. Glory calms down, and says that she and Dawn need some girl time, kicking the Flattery Demons out again. She asks Dawn how people deal with all the feels all the time, saying that people are just puppets to their emotions. Dawn’s reluctant to say anything, but Glory says that she’s going to die regardless. Dawn relents, and says that it depends on the person, and that some people like having all the feels. Glory, in a speech reminiscent of Spike’s “I may be love’s bitch”, says that everyone on earth is crazy and she’s the only one who can see it. She then asks Dawn for one example of someone who can cope. “Buffy“, Dawn replies.
With that, we cut back to inside Buffy’s head. Willow demands that Present Day Buffy #2 talk to her, but she walks through the door to Joyce’s room to show Joyce’s grave where the bed should be. Willow says that she’s sorry, but PDB#2 tells her not to be, because death is her gift. She walks through the room and into Dawn’s bedroom. Dawn is lying on the bed, silently crying. PDB#2 tells Willow that death is all she is. With that, she picks up a pillow and places it over Dawn’s face. Dawn struggles, and Willow yells for her to stop, but PDB#2 says calmly that death is her gift as Dawn goes limp. Fade to black.
After the Not Commercial Break, Glory turns back into Ben. He asks Dawn if Glory’s hurt her, and she says that she has to get out of there. He’s too busy wigging out though, because he’s remembering all the murdering that Glory’s done. Kind of like Angel post-resouling, but not. Dawn begs for his help as there’s a knock on the door. Ben drags the Flattery Demon inside and knocks him out. He says that he’ll take Dawn as far as he can before Glory returns, and they run out.
Sweeney: I never really understood why Ben’s initial plan was to stay with Dawn for any length of time beyond, “Getting out of the place where they currently were,” particularly since he was aware of the fact that they were now remembering each other’s shit. This didn’t make any sense.
K: It really, really didn’t. I also never understood why he never ditched the lacy ceremonial robe he was wearing…
Lor: Style, girlfriend!
K: Back in Buffy’s head. It’s back to the start of the sequence again, with Mini-Buffy, and everything happens pretty much the same as before, despite Willow telling Mini-Buffy that they don’t have time. PDB#1 shelves the same book again.
Cut to a cozy looking room with an open fire burning. The camera pans across to show Joel Grey, he of the “Here’s how to raise your mother from the dead” spell. There’s a knock on the door, and Spike and Xander walk in. Spike’s in the middle of asking for help when Xander suddenly remembers the whole Glory = Ben thing, because the spell is progressively lifting.
Joel Grey says that he can’t help them because Glorificus is big time and he’s a small town guy. Spike says that Dawn’s in trouble, and Joel Grey says that he thinks he might know a guy in China who can help. Spike looks suspicious as the Zoomy Camera Man does his thing, zooming in on a box behind Joel Grey. Spike accuses him of lying and standing right in front of what they need. Joel Grey grins manically and leaps across the room to grab a sword. He holds it at Spike’s throat, and hisses “Idiot.” Spike knocks the sword away but falls to the floor. Joel Grey pushes Xander back with his tongue, which is apparently like 4 metres long (EW) and then says “You think only underworld bottom-feeders worship the beast?” He throws the box into the fire. Xander jumps up and knocks him to the ground. They fight as Spike goes for the box in the fireplace. He gets it out, smoking but otherwise undamaged, as Xander runs Joel Grey through with the sword. They leave, and the camera pans back to Joel Grey. His eyes snap open.
Buffy’s head. Willow insists that PDB#2 stop killing Dawn over and over because it never happened, but PDB#2 doesn’t believe her.
Dawn and Ben are walking down the main street of Sunnydale. Ben drags Dawn down an alley to hide from the Flattery Demons, and she hits him over the head with a convenient heavy chain, knocking him out. She apologises as she turns to leave, but Glory informs her that it hurt and her apology isn’t good enough. Womp womp, Dawnie. Fade to black.
After the Not Commercial Break, Glory threatens Dawn with all kinds of pain that won’t spill any blood, then things reach a new level of crazy as she proceeds to flip between Glory and Ben.
They have a full blown conversation, morphing between forms with each line. At some point, Ben grabs a beer bottle and threatens Dawn with it, but Glory can feel his emotions and knows that he can’t go through with it. The conversation culminates in them making a deal, because Glory informs him that he won’t disappear if a god grants him immortality, and if he stops protecting Dawn, she’ll feel pretty chummy towards him. Ben apologises to Dawn, and drags her back to the construction site.
Buffy’s head. PDB#2 heads towards Dawn’s room, but this time it leads to the Magic Box. Willow asks her what PDB#1 shelving the book is all about, because it’s clearly the start of something much bigger. After some cajoling, the two Present Day Buffys (Buffies?) inform Willow that this was the moment where she gave up. Just for a split second. She knew that Glory would win. And in that moment, she WANTED Glory to win because then it would all be over and she could finally feel relief. That single moment, she says, was what led to Dawn’s death. Because if she hadn’t given up for that second, if she hadn’t in some way wanted it to happen, Glory couldn’t have taken Dawn.
Willow stares at the two Buffys in horror, then says that Spike was right back at the start. “SNAP OUT OF IT!” she yells, and the Buffys turn to face her in surprise. She says that what Buffy’s feeling is guilt, and it’s perfectly normal. Then she gets awesome and BAMF-y:
Willow: You’ve carried the weight of the world on your shoulders since high school. And I, I know you didn’t ask for this, but … you do it every day. And so, you wanted out for one second. So what?
Buffy: I got Dawn killed.
Willow: Hello! Your sister, not dead yet! But she will be if you stay locked inside here and never come back to us.
Buffy: But what if I can’t?
Willow: Then I guess you’re right. And you did kill your sister.
Willow turns to leave, and PDB#2 asks where she’s going. “Where you’re needed. Are you coming?” Willow replies.
Sweeney: There’s Assertive Willow again! This is interesting because to me, this reads as more, “Willow’s sincere reaction,” than an attempt at tough love because it’s what she thinks Buffy needs. That’s really thin distinction because I don’t think those are mutually exclusive ideas, just that one is more of driving factor in this situation and it’s character significant, to me at least.
K: I think it’s a little from column A and a little from column B – it’s her sincere reaction, but she also knows that Buffy needs a bit of tough love to get her back on track. You know?
Lor: I’ll only add that that I like that Willow calls back to Spike. He may not have been able to do it, but he knew that Buffy just needed that tough love to snap out of it.
K: PDB#2 turns to watch PDB#1 shelve the book again, then we cut back to Xander’s bedroom. The real Buffy snaps out of her catatonic state, looks at Willow, and starts to cry. Willow hugs her.
Cut to the Magic Box, where Spike, Xander and Giles are huddled around the table. Buffy and Willow arrive with Tara and Anya. Giles tells her that he’s found a ritual that can stop Glory. She looks at him expectantly. There’s not much margin for error, he tells her, and goes on to say that he’s found out what Glory’s planning to do with Dawn. Apparently once the blood letting ritual begins, the only way to stop it is to kill Dawn. Buffy looks horrified as we fade to black.
The first time I saw this episode, the endless loop through Buffy’s head drove me nuts, but the more I rewatch it, the more it sums up perfectly the changes that Buffy’s had to go through over the course of the season. This episode is at least 75% set up for the big finale, so there’s not a lot more I can say about it!
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer – It’s the big season finale! Can Buffy finally defeat Glory? Find out once and for all in S05 E22 – The Gift.