Buffy 5×05: No Place Like Home

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Douglas Petrie | Director: David Solomon | Aired: 10/24/2000]

I’m sure many of you are very surprised right now. “He gave ‘No Place Like Home’ a 100!? What!?” Well first of all, please calm down. Secondly, please read me out here and then make those inevitable judgements. This is an episode that, from the moment I first saw it, I loved beyond reason (although I will offer much in the way of reason). I’m sure you have your own personal favorite(s) that many other people don’t see in the same vein as you do. Well, this is an example of one of those episodes for me. I feel this is an unsung masterpiece in intelligent writing (that is sometimes taken for granted), misleads, introductions, and foreboding atmosphere. A lot is going on here, and it’s done in such a vivid style that I’m always excited and impressed when I see it.

The episode begins with a fun little vamp fight and the introduction of the Dagon Sphere. It’s left open as a big mystery here, although I get the feeling the writers were intending to do something more with it and simply forgot about it, then Whedon included it in “The Gift” [5×22] like he did with all the little trinkets seen throughout the season. Nevertheless, the Sphere is put to good mysterious use, which adds to the atmoshpere of fear and confusion.

Because this episode ends on big revelations for Buffy, I’m going to tackle the rest of this review in much the same way. I’ll begin with one of my favorite scenes in the entire series: the wonderful, absolutely wonderful, moment when Buffy walks into the newly opened Magic Box and sees Giles standing there in the wizard robe and hat. He looks so proud of himself, Buffy opens her mouth like she’s about to say something then doesn’t, Giles looks proud again, Buffy then gives him this calm expression of “you look funny and ridiculous, take it off,” then he gives in and takes the hat off. No words needed: Giles respects and values Buffy’s opinion now more than ever. When he was acting all goofy in “Fear, Itself” [4×04] , wearing an overly large sombrero, Buffy actually had to tell him to take the hat off. Look at the beautiful growth in characters! Stunning! Perfect! Hilarious!

I’m very pleased the Scoobies ended up returning to a central location to run their operations from. While Giles’ apartment was a refreshing change from the school library, it got old quickly. I think the Magic Box set is stunning. It’s great to see Giles giddy about something; it’s been a really long time. He’s found a temporary purpose and he’s got himself put together again. He looks sharper than ever with that ear ring and snazzy clothes.

The mob at the Magic Box seemed a bit excessive although I could imagine how the re-opening of a magic store in Sunnydale would be big business on the first few days. People need their supplies! Later on, when Buffy’s in her fight with Glory, though, I enjoyed the lightweight contrast of the Magic Box scene a lot. It’s so perfect that Anya would love counting up all that money, especially now that she’s out of the free money she had. I’m very glad the writers gave her a job there: perfect fit. Also notice how she says, “And the Hand of Glory packs some serious raw power.” Funny little correlation — especially considering Glory’s name hasn’t been said yet — to Buffy’s concurrent fight.

While the focus of this episode isn’t on Riley, I’m still pleased we got a small follow-up to the events of “Out of My Mind” [5×04] and previous episodes. Dawn accidentally makes it even more painfully clear that Buffy doesn’t want Riley patrolling with her. Buffy even said in private that Riley gets all “weak and kitteny.” Wow, this is exactly what Riley doesn’t want to hear. This is why Buffy, later on, invites Riley over to help her start a spell she doesn’t need help starting just so she can make him feel needed. Poor Buffy, she just doesn’t get that their relationship is already in the danger zone. I still think Riley’s more at fault here, because he’s the one who can’t get over his macho “Me man! Me take care of cute girl!” attitude.

Before I move onto Glory, I want to briefly talk about the crazy people. A side effect of Glory’s brain sucking is that the crazy people left behind can see things normal people can’t. It is interesting to think about just what their capabilities are. The guard gone crazy at the hospital is able to see something in Buffy that hints at Dawn’s recent entry into her family. I’m making a bit of a leap here, but I think that because the crazy people can see that Dawn is the key, they can also see a residue of her on Buffy as well, which makes a bit of sense considering that the human component of Dawn was made ‘from’ Buffy. In the end it’s debateable, though, what the guard meant when he said “they’ll come at your through your family.”

Anyway, from the first good glimpse we get of Glory’s face, you can see a beautiful insanity out of her. I enjoyed seeing that huge metal door being torn apart with what at first seems like it’s got to be this giant creature, but instead turns out to be a girl about Buffy’s size in a red dress. I think Clare Kramer does an excellent job playing this role. Her voice comes off as a tad annoying and highly arrogant, which honestly fits perfectly with the idea of a god that ruled a hell dimension (although first-time viewers don’t know this yet).

I find it really interesting that Glory is shown as being utterly disgusted by human life. She gives a wonderful little speech to the tied-up monk and herself (we later find out she loves to hear herself speak) that gives us some insight into how she thinks and acts. While she calls the monk selfish, she’s the selfish one, completely spoiled and worshiped by everyone around her. “I want it [the Key], I need it, and I’ve got to have it now!” Sounding like a spoiled child here, she genuinely doesn’t understand why the monk won’t give up the information about the Key. Being so accustomed to having her will be done, she just can’t even comprehend people who don’t submit to her wishes. Additionally, she happens to be partially insane and, the fascinating thing is, she actually knows it.

Glory hates being stuck in human form and says as much: “The whole mortal meatsack comes complete with stink and bile sweat and protein. Yes, I said humans! Not now, Mommy’s talking! Wriggling, piling, prowling, crawling, clowning, cavorting, doing it over and over and over and over until someone’s gonna sit down on their tuffet and make this birthing stop!” The use of the word ‘tuffet’ brings to mind her need of the Key, or Dawn (“Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet”), to fall in line and make this pain stop by allowing her to return home. This is all really strong insight for a completely new character with very subtle hints of what she’s after. I say ‘well done.’

Buffy goes through an emotional roller coaster ride here. The change over Buffy’s attitude of Dawn from the beginning of the episode to the end is sensical and very intelligently done. Early on Buffy is expressing how she’s envious that Dawn gets to be the baby who’s coddled by Mom. I love her comment, “you don’t know how much I wish I was an only child these days.” Buffy wants that kind of motherly love from Joyce too, instead of being forced to take on more adult responsibilities, which unfortunately will be piled on more and more heavily throughout the season. That’s one of the major themes of this season: Buffy’s final fall from innocence and her ‘leap’ into the adult world.

A huge segment for Buffy is everything surrounding the “spell to see spells.” The plot uses Buffy’s development that she visibly began in “Real Me” [5×02] to its advantage and we get more wonderful continuity! Any other show would have Buffy be able to pull off this deep concentration stuff out of nowhere, but this show actually leads up to it in a pretty convincing way. The setup to this ‘trance’ is quite cool and I found how the writers threw in some Dawn annoyance to be realistically distracting. I appreciated how we see Buffy physically pour the sand around her in a circle — it helps set up the mood. I also like how the trance itself was filmed. Simple discoloration and static, but very effective.

Dawn phasing in and out of all the photos is genuinely creepy if you put yourself in Buffy’s shoes. Then she goes upstairs and sees that Dawn herself is fading in and out of existence along with her room. All at once Buffy realizes that there’s nothing supernaturally wrong with her mother and that there’s something seriously wrong with Dawn’s existence. I can’t help but remember the final scene of “Restless” [4×22] with the shot of that darkened room and Tara repeating the vital line, “you think you know, what you are, what’s to come. You haven’t even begun.” All of this material is thematically linked in a stunning visual atmosphere to Dawn and to Buffy’s coming death in “The Gift” [5×22] . I love how there’s not only the creep factor here, but also the idea the writers plant in your head that Dawn is the one responsible for her mother’s illness. Buffy menacingly says, “You stay away from my mother!” In retrospect I feel a great deal of sympathy for Dawn. I also find their threatening exchanges downstairs extremely refreshing. It’s so awesome how Dawn is just angry at her sister and wants to tell her mom about how mean Buffy was to her, but we’re led to believe she’s this great force of evil that’s hurting Joyce. Stunningly wonderful mislead. All of these scenes are superbly done.

When Buffy takes off to investigate the area where she found the Dagon Sphere (notice the super creepy Dawn looking out of the window from behind), we get a perfectly timed comic break when Buffy ‘senses’ Spike in the area and pulls him out from behind a tree in front of her house. Their little dialogue exchange is hilarious. Buffy gets her first signs of Spike’s feelings for her here, although she’s far too busy to dwell on all the evidence yet (all the cigarettes left on the ground suggest that Spike had been there for quite some time).

After this break, we get Buffy’s excellent first encounter with Glory. I love this scene. The Jaws-like music as Glory walks up behind Buffy is perfect and their fight is extremely cool and very well choreographed. When Glory whacks Buffy across the room into a wall, severely cracking it, I find myself suddenly very concerned for her well-being. When I first saw this, my expression was very similar to Buffy’s when painfully lifting herself back up. It’s also interesting that, based on Glory’s comments, she’s definitely not accustomed to being hit by people. After Glory then throws Buffy sideways across the room, Buffy quickly smartens up and instead of attacking Glory again she grabs the monk and bails out the window, which is very fun to watch.

This is when the monk reveals that Dawn is the key, is now human, is completely helpless, and doesn’t know any of it. Buffy’s reaction and SMG’s acting is, once again, simply stunning in response to this news — I find myself getting goosebumps. Great stuff! Yet the real pain is wrought when Dawn, later in her room, tells Buffy that she has this dream where Buffy’s not her real sister and that she was adopted, by “a shoebox full of baby howler monkeys” no less. What she just said obviously represents what she is: essentially an adopted child made by monks, rather than the monkeys she spoke of in regard to Buffy. I feel so awful for Dawn here and so comforted when Buffy sits down with her and strokes her hair. Beautiful, although that beauty is bittersweet with both of them having no idea what’s wrong with their mom (and even more bittersweet for me knowing that Joyce actually is going to die). Throughout this episode Buffy is actively assuming Joyce’s illness is something supernatural — something she can fight. The revelation that it isn’t supernatural is very scary for both Buffy and Dawn.

For now, though, Buffy has embraced the bond with her sister in a way she never could before. In the beginning of the episode she was saying how much she wished she was an only child. After finding out she actually is and that Dawn more closely resembles an adopted daughter rather than her sister, she has come full circle in her feelings and accepts the daunting responsibility forced on her.

This episode shares many of the same qualities that made “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] so amazing: a perfect blend of drama, comedy, and action to form a sensationally satisfying whole. The major difference is that this episode is an introduction to the major plot and many of the major character threads of the season while “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] is the grand resolution to them. I very much adore this episode and it rubs off on me in that powerful ‘perfect’ way, which goes to say I have absolutely no big complaints with it. I definitely won’t claim this to be as important as the other big episodes this season (you know which ones), but I am firm in saying “No Place Like Home” is definitely deserving of the P score.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Continued development of Joyce’s illness. I love how all the doctors do is stuff her with a bunch of pills. Ah, good ol’ doctors and their pills that rarely do anything good.
+ I think this episode is the prettiest Buffy has ever looked. Breathtaking would be my word. Yes, I’m a dateless nerd.
+ Buffy says that the guy who gave her the Dagon Sphere went crazy overnight. Right then Willow, Giles, and Anya all back away looking scared. Fun little touch.
+ Glory’s brain sucking looks like both a painful and a sexual experience for her, which is both weird and interesting.
+ Xander commenting, as a result of all the shoppers, about how he misses the library.
+ Joyce tells Buffy, “you’re so grown up.” This is Joyce reminding us of a big theme this season.
+ Especially riveting music throughout this episode.

–Β The flashback sequence was unnecessary. These monks hum and all the sudden the Key is a human? Kind of lame.
–Β I didn’t like how the security guard didn’t see Buffy fighting and staking a vamp even though he was right there.


Foreshadowing

* Willow gives Anya a mean-spirited look when Anya’s honest about how terrible Willow’s gift-wrapping is. This hints at a slowly growing rift between the two, who have never been cuddly with each other probably largely as a result of their mutual love (in different ways) of Xander. This issue is directly brought-up in “Triangle” [5×11].
* Giles says the Dagon Sphere is an object of great fear or deep worship, possibly both. Well, as we soon find out, Glory is both greatly feared and deeply worshiped.


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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84 thoughts on “Buffy 5×05: No Place Like Home”

  1. [Note: Campbell Stephens posted this comment on July 28, 2006.]

    I would’ve never thought of giving this episode a perfect score, but after reading your review I really think you’re right. Fantastic episode.

    Like

  2. [Note: cayayofm posted this comment on July 28, 2006.]

    I have to say, this is a huge surprise for me, there is a lot to like in this episode, but I never had been that attracted to it. The episode is not even in my season five top 10, however I agree with almost everything that you said.

    Like

  3. [Note: The Watcher posted this comment on July 28, 2006.]

    I’m also shocked at a perfect score for this episode. While I’ve always greatly enjoyed this episode, I never would have rated it this high. Nevertheless, I agree with all of your points. Also, you’re right, that scene with Giles in the wizard costume is hilarious!

    Like

  4. [Note: Jamie Oliver posted this comment on July 29, 2006.]

    I have watched this episode many times and after reading your comments I finally realise why. It is perfect.

    Like

  5. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on July 29, 2006.]

    What I especially like of the ep is the way how they introduce all these scary things; it’s the first time in the season when you really start to worry. everything already seems way more menacing than anything in season 4. and in the beginning glory is really kinda scary, it takes a while until she becomes annoying…

    Like

  6. [Note: dingdong posted this comment on July 29, 2006.]

    I also like this episode, and actually missed a lot of content you spotted. I always like subtlety in TV shows. Personally, I can understand why you loved it, and I think very highly about it, but for me Glory brings it down slightly. Partly because Craemer’s performace doesn’t convince me enough, but also because the writers seem to take a while to strike the right balance in her character. Nice review, it’s a pity that I’ve taped over the episode so I won’t be able to look at it again.

    Like

  7. [Note: Tommy posted this comment on July 30, 2006.]

    Wow, I think the last time I watched any episode from the fith season of Buffy was like 4 years ago but when I read this review I remember the ep like I just watched it yesterday and remember how much I liked of it: the funny character moments, the misterious envolving Glory’s appearance… I just remember thinking “oh, God has Buffy finally met her match ?”, and how Dawn’s reason of existance left us wondering even more than what we already did at the time, but I’m so glad you made me remember that Spike 5 words answer, hahaha, I’d forgotten about it but I lol every time it comes to my mind again.

    I LUV YOUR REVIEWS, MAN!!!!

    Like

  8. [Note: Just-Me posted this comment on August 4, 2006.]

    I, too, have a special fondness for this episode. There were so many wonderful subtle moments amongst the action and the big reveal. I especially find the last scene to be very poignant. Your reviews said it all. I love how it’s got a perfect rating and yet it’s still only #16 in your overall πŸ™‚ Keep up the great work. Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your time and work!

    Like

  9. [Note: Angelus posted this comment on January 23, 2007.]

    I liked this epi too. I duno about your 100 score but they did a great job explaining Buffys new sister.

    One problem I had is after Buffy does the trance..and suspects Dawn being a villain, she leaves Dawn alone in the house. I know Joyce isnt due home for ‘a couple of hours’ but it seemed odd to me that she would chance leaving Dawn alone to be with her mother.

    Also..Buffys outfit for most of the epi, the gold pants with the demon shirt, was one of the hottest of the series. I loved the way she looked in this one.

    Like

  10. [Note: jessi posted this comment on April 14, 2007.]

    WOWWWWW

    this was da best episode eva

    and glory rox!!!! she is so great i luv her little insane speech when shes like not now mummys talkin lol

    so funny!!!!!

    Like

  11. [Note: Mez posted this comment on June 30, 2007.]

    Just to be insanely nitpicky…

    In Restless, Tara doesn’t say “what you are, what’s to come.”
    She says “what’s to come, what you are.”

    And then Dracula reverses the order in his episode.

    Like

  12. [Note: jun posted this comment on November 12, 2007.]

    I agree that this episode deserves a perfect score, and can think of no complaint other than the two minor negatives pointed out above.

    I just rewatched it today, and was struck by how delightfully creepy the first glimpse of a phasing Dawn is. Buffy’s talking over her mother and over her shoulder, the photo begins to phase. It was like something out of a spooky video game or something. Very nifty.

    Like

  13. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 21, 2007.]

    Amazing! That´s all I have to say. I was kinda surprised when I saw that NPLH had a perfect score because the first time I saw it, I couldn´t see the beauty of the episode. But now that I´ve seen it again, I totally agree with your review and your score. It´s just amazing, the combination of comedy, drama and action. The scenes with Dawn phasing and the fight with Glory are amazing. Perfect like you say.

    Like

  14. [Note: sunny posted this comment on January 22, 2008.]

    “I think this episode is the prettiest Buffy has ever looked. Breathtaking would be my word. Yes, I’m a dateless nerd. ”

    Aww :[ I have such an e-crush on you. I would so date you if I could.

    Like

  15. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 23, 2008.]

    No, lol. Ryan‘s comment was faux-banned. No one’s really banned. The both of us are just having a little fun. πŸ™‚

    Like

  16. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on February 20, 2008.]

    Great review, as usual. Personally I wouldn’t have given it a perfect score I think, because somehow some I miss the feeling that should go with that. Not really a rational reason, but some episodes pack more of an emotional punch, either a positive or negative one, for me than this one.

    The trance scene with Dawn fading in and out is very creepy though!

    I just have to ask: where did Anya get her free money from before? Was she in some kind of vengeance demon retirement plan?

    Like

  17. [Note: Tom posted this comment on March 25, 2008.]

    “I’ve noticed something: you have super powers. That is so cool. Can you fly?” – I love this line.

    I also like this episode a lot and I’m very glad you gave it 100, mike.

    Like

  18. [Note: Vince Noir posted this comment on May 23, 2008.]

    You know, this is an episode that sometimes I really enjoy. When I do, Buffy’s spell to see spells feels mysterious and real, and Buffy’s revelation about Dawn makes me cry and gives me shivers at the same time.

    But sometimes, it just falls flat. Like, I love what was supposed to be done here, but it doesn’t quite work for me.

    Like

  19. [Note: Llinnae posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    Here’s a perfect example of the drug/magic metaphore that ppl said hadnt been forshadowed enough(in the commentary of Wrecked)!

    Also,Mike dont feel bad, a guy like you, the dates will come! πŸ™‚

    Like

  20. [Note: Lacie posted this comment on September 30, 2008.]

    Before I read this and after I watched the episode I actually did get this feeling it would get a P, because I thought it was simply refreshing and just – all the changes from season 5, the plots are really working, and the whole buffy/spike thing is just starting.

    Like

  21. [Note: Lacie posted this comment on September 30, 2008.]

    Btw Buffy does look fab-u-lous in this episode! Although I don’t know if she’s the prettiest she’s ever been. ^^

    Like

  22. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 23, 2009.]

    Out…for…a…walk………BITCH! One of the best lines in the whole series!

    Really liked this episode. The Giles in the wizard costume moment was funny, but was I the only one who noticed Willow asking him where it was? I always got the feeling that she persuaded him to wear it in the first place.

    Dawn was supremely creepy in this episode.

    Loved the fight between Buffy and Glory and Buffy ‘stealing Glory’s monk.’ “Hands off my holy man!”

    Worrying more and more about Joyce and her illness. Love that it turns out to be natural and not a cop-out supernatural thing.

    Like

  23. [Note: Chris posted this comment on August 24, 2009.]

    Just rewatched this and I think that the P is justified though i was surprised when i first saw the score on the review list.

    Like

  24. [Note: Luz posted this comment on February 11, 2010.]

    What do you guys think of the fact that Buffy calls Spike “William” in this ep?

    it feels strange for me… but interesting…

    and i can’t help but making a parallell when she calls him again “William” when she breaks up with him in season 6…. but as for the breaking part you can feel that she finally aknowledge him as a person, here, i just can’t imagine why she would call him like that…..

    Like

  25. [Note: Evie posted this comment on February 11, 2010.]

    Luz, I see what you mean. I think that when shes calling him William its her way of being patronizing to him cos she probably realizes hes been lurking around her house and he won’t admit it. Kinda like when your mum gets all annoyed with you and calls you by your full name. i think it’s appropriate seeing as his whole you have stupid hair rant is adorably childish.

    Anyone wanna just taunt him by singing ‘Spike and Buffy, sitting in a tree…’ lol

    Like

  26. [Note: Spinach posted this comment on February 14, 2010.]

    I always wondered if perhaps Joyce’s illness was related to her memory being modified to incorporate Dawn – as if it was too much of a stress for her mind to handle or something… There was that scene in the previous episode just before she collapses where she says “Who are you?” to Dawn. Admittedly this could happen to anyone with a brain tumour – but I just thought the theory was interesting…

    Like

  27. [Note: Nick posted this comment on April 23, 2010.]

    This is a great review, however, I think you really over-analyzed the wizard Buffy/Giles scene way too much. I’m fairly certain is was just meant to be funny. One of those scenes you should just take at face value.

    Great review though! Fantastic job!

    Like

  28. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    Wow, like many commenters, I always thought this was a very good episode, but I was surprised to see the P rating. However, you make a great case for it! I really like the idea that it is easier for Buffy to embrace being Dawn’s sister when she understands why Dawn is there and can think of it as part of her slayer duty. This seems very in character for her. On some level, Buffy knew that something was up, and now that she understands she gets over (for the most part) her impatience with Dawn, and after this point her love for Dawn, originally manufactured by the monks, grows throughout the season. It also makes it more believable that Buffy would accept what the monk (and the spell) told her. After all, imagine how hard it would be to believe that something so firmly ingrained in your memories is not true? Even if you live on the Hellmouth. But, on some level, Buffy intuited the unrealness of Dawn from the beginning.

    Like

  29. [Note: Clem’s Kitten Basket posted this comment on July 11, 2010.]

    This is a case of cerebral versus emotional, I guess. For me, I mean. There is no doubt that this episode contains a lot of good stuff plot- and character wise. However, I can barely watch it. You quoted the only two enjoyable scenes (Anya/Xander and Buffy/Spike), but the rest? No, it doesn’t work for me – at all. I prefer recaps to watching in this instance.

    I found some old lists I made years ago, because I wondered if I had always felt this negative about this ep, and yes, I did. If anything, I probably dislike it even more now.

    But no worries, we still agree on the important stuff. (Dead Things rules and the church scene in Beneath You pwns.)

    Like

  30. [Note: Jason posted this comment on August 29, 2010.]

    I thought this was the first Great episode of the season. For those of us approaching this season completely spoiler-free, Dawn just makes no logistical sense. Is she Buffy’s sister or not; how can Joyce possibly refer to her growing up in that house; what’s going on? She has the potential to be so good in this show, so emotionally vulnerable and interesting, but Buffy’s so mean to her, and how is she even there? Can this all be explained in a way that makes Buffy protective of her (as I want her to be), and even makes us protective of her? Yes it can, and it does. That’s brilliant.

    Like

  31. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on October 29, 2010.]

    Good:

    * Buffy talking to the guard about her fellow ravers and bun cake.

    * Dawn spilling that Riley is weak and kitten-y. Not kitten-ish. Much more manly.

    * The whole trance sequence with strange effects adding to the scene.

    * Michelle playing a creepy teen with the mis-direction for the audience. She is creepy.

    * ‘Not-be-named’ sneeking up on Buffy and Buffy getting smashed.

    * The final scene was perfect.

    Bad:

    * Way too long part of ‘Not-be-named’ freaking out. It was kind of painful to watch.

    * How did Buffy get to the hospital? She cannot drive in a non-spazzy way.

    * Buffy fell 3 stories on her back onto concrete and an hour later she’s fine. She fell too far.

    Agree with other posts that the Buffy/Giles wizard outfit is over analysed. Not everything has a meaning.

    Fantastic episode that sets up Dawn and her origin.

    Like

  32. [Note: Neil posted this comment on March 2, 2011.]

    There is a lot of Dawn hate out there on the net, but you cannot deny that Michelle Trachtenberg plays her role wonderfully well in this episode.

    Like

  33. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on May 5, 2011.]

    This one gets a definate P vote from me too. To be able to throw dawn in to the series out of the blue like that and to have it all come off feeling like it makes sense after this episode is a pretty impressive thing. It’s all so believeable from an in-world perspective and doensn’t require me suspending disbelief once. Fantastic.

    Like

  34. [Note: Mash posted this comment on June 8, 2011.]

    Fantastic song played during the trance – I’m trying to find it online but cant. I heard it was the song “Body paint” from the soundtrack but that song sounds different.

    Like

  35. [Note: fmotion posted this comment on June 29, 2011.]

    You are right mash.Body Paint is from the Restless episode.Ive looked hard all over the net for Buffy’s trance music.It seems to be the one all the fan sites missed.I believe its one of Thomas Wankers compositions.I am going to search the end credits on the series 5 episode5 dvd.

    Like

  36. [Note: Dan posted this comment on November 17, 2011.]

    Minor correction. In the foreshadowing section you said: “Giles says the Dagon Sphere is an object of great fear or deep worship, possibly both. Well, as we soon find out, Glory is both greatly feared and deeply worshiped.” Giles doesn’t say the ds is an object of deeper fear/worship but that it’s meant to protect against some some primeval something or other. It’s connected to the one who cannot be named, and typically things that aren’t named are objects of great fear/worship, etc. That’s not verbatim but I thought it would be worthwhile to clarify.

    Like

  37. [Note: x factor posted this comment on December 19, 2011.]

    lol. Yeah, this is a nice episode but no way does it come close to masterpieces like Becoming, Innocence, Prophecy Girl, Helpless, Lovers Walk, etc etc. Its a solid B.

    While its a well executed episode, it cant help but be bogged down by the anchors that tie down season 5 – the ridiculous idea of Dawn in the first place and a hapless “god” that is about as impotent a god i have ever seen.

    Like

  38. [Note: Ivy posted this comment on January 2, 2012.]

    When I first saw that you gave a P to “no place like home” I was surprised so I decided I should watch the episode again, you know, just in case πŸ™‚

    After watching I completely understand your reasons and I totally agree with you. The episode succeeds in mixing plot developement, foreshadowing, creepyness (I don’t think this is an actual word? :D) and fun. I just love Buffy because of this, it can make me laugh one moment and cry in the next, this is just good television!

    I just loved the scene at the Magic Box with Giles and I don’t think it was over analyzed, it actually makes sense. And it was just hilarious to watch!

    I am a big big Spike fan so I have to comment on the “out for a walk, bitch” scene πŸ™‚ the whole scene was extremely amusing and a nice break from all the new discoveries of the episode (thumbs up for “I feel like I’m outgrowing my burst into flames fase”, this always craks me up).

    The whole Joyce story line is just heart breaking for me, seeing Buffy trying in every possible way to prove that her mother is not sick but is some kind of spell that makes her look sick is just sad. And the dialogue at the end, when Dawn asks Buffy what’s wrong with their mother makes me sob, both of them look so helpless and confused.

    The scene at the hospital gave me actual goosebumps, the whole crazy talk from the guard and the fact that Ben is there again is just so foreshadowing!

    Well, I think you pretty much already said what there was to say, MikeJer, so now I’m just gonna go and watch another episode of Buffy πŸ˜€

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  39. [Note: johnc posted this comment on July 31, 2012.]

    I just want to thank everyone for their comments. The reviews and insights are making this Buffy watch very enjoyable for me. I’ve never been anywhere on the net where people are so respectful of each other’s opinions.

    When Buffy aired I stopped watching at the beginning of season 4. The lame storyline and the birth of my son made me quit. I’ve met so many people over the years who have told me that seasons 5 thru 7 were worth the pain of 4 that I decided to give it a shot. I have this and Angel free on Amazon Prime so this is awesome. Thank you.

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  40. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on August 18, 2012.]

    MikeJer, I thought your comments on the Wizard Hat scene were really interesting; it’s definitely referencing Fear Itself. I think others are right that it’s supposed to be a light scene, but I don’t think you’ve over-analyzed it.

    johnc, you should definitely keep watching, especially if you’ve made it through four now! Season five is great, although Dawn can be trying and I find Glory grating, and you’re probably in for some heartbreak. Season six is about depression, so it can be hard to watch, but it’s brilliant. Season seven loses momentum (see Mike’s reviews!) in the middle, but is great for the first half and for the last several episodes, which wrap up the series in a great way.

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  41. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 18, 2012.]

    Oh, I agree that the wizard hat scene is a light one and not one meant to be some huge insight or anything, but it’s a subtle nod to the continued growth of the characters that is done in a very funny way. I love stuff like that; it gets me pretty excited. There’s a scene in, I think, “Wild at Heart,” where there’s an exchange of facial expressions between Buffy and Willow that says nothing but communicates so much. It ties into what “Hush” had to say about the difference between language and communication. I think those kind of scenes are just fabulous, and something Buffy does very well.

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  42. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on August 18, 2012.]

    I totally agree. It’s one of my (many) favorite things about Buffy. I’ve really liked the way you point these moments out in the reviews–there were three or four comments above saying you were “over-analyzing” that scene, so I wanted to voice my dissent. πŸ™‚

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  43. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 18, 2012.]

    Yep, you can’t please everyone, but thanks for the comment(s). If my memory holds, I think the time I get the most people claiming “over analyzing” is my offhand thoughts about the “filler” line from Willow in “Once More, with Feeling.” πŸ™‚

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  44. [Note: Janice posted this comment on November 5, 2012.]

    This review encouraged me to watch the episode again – something I hadn’t done after the first time – and as usual I found myself appreciating your insights into it, Mike! I wasn’t sure about the P rating, but the fact is, rich character development, forward plot movement, poignancy and comedy are so deftly balanced that you may well be right – it’s that integration that makes BtVS great. And here I was thinking I’m the only person in Buffy fandom who actually enjoyed Glory and Claire Kramer’s performance. Maybe I’ll feel differently on rewatch, but mostly I was entertained by her – she’s certainly a very different Big Bad – and she reminds a little of Cordelia, or Cordelia/Buffy and their worst characteristics metastasized. Plus, she contributed to the “female” vibe of this season, which is primarily about the interrelationships of the women on the show.I really loved the scene with Joyce and the girls in the kitchen – Kristine Sutherland is marvelous in this episode and throughout the season. I was thrilled on first watch that we got to see more of her because I had missed her in S4; I thought the mother/daughter relationship got short shrift prior to S5 (I know how central to a woman’s identity her mom is, for good and bad; particularly in a single-parent situation like this) and was looking forward to seeing more of her this season. (I should’ve known, right?)Something that I think S5 does very well is incorporate the current state of the medical system, as well as comment on things like end-of-life decisions (later on, Tara’s state can be read as a metaphor for Alzheimers patients, for instance, and Willow is the caretaker who may not be equipped for such a burden). And yet it’s included here in a very organic way, as part of the plot, rather than dropped ungraciously on me like an anvil, so I’m allowed to notice what’s happening rather than being told “We’re making an important point here!” (As a comparison, I think S7 went a bit far in preaching the evils of “misogyny” for instance, and I’m a staunch feminist.)Giles’ request that someone rip the bell off it’s hinges (in the Magic Box, after a busy day at the store) is called back in Life Serial when Buffy does just that.I’m not sure why anyone thought you were “overanalyzing” the scene in the Magic Box (Giles’ costume) – isn’t that the whole point of BtVS fandom? What HASN’T been analyzed and over-analyzed? I thought it was a clever call-back to Fear, Itself, and your comments about it pretty spot-on. One of the wonderful things about the show is how those small, seemingly throwaway moments can be so wonderfully revealing of the journeys the characters are taking.And I would have said that SMG is at her prettiest in OMWF, but she comes pretty close here!

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  45. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 5, 2012.]

    Thanks for the comment! I’m pleased the review inspired you to take another look at the episode. πŸ™‚

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  46. [Note: JEL posted this comment on December 10, 2012.]

    Another nice bit of character continuity in this episode (that I don’t see mentioned anywhere) is that we see again the more confident, self assured Xander.I will join some of the others in saying that this has always been one of my favorite episodes as well; so you are not alone in that regard. So many good moments in this, as you and others point out. The monk’s speech to Buffy in particular gets me every time I watch it. It always brings tears to my eyes.

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  47. [Note: Sub posted this comment on August 26, 2013.]

    I have been reading all your reviews as I am doing a re watch, usually reading the review the day after watching, and I am absolutely loving it ! so many things I never noticed before I almost want to watch the episode, then re watch it again as soon as I have read the review ! can’t wait to read the rest of them! I always loved this episode more than anyone else seemed to so it’s great to see that you loved it too :):)

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  48. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on September 21, 2013.]

    I love the fact that Dawn’s theory about Buffy’s adoption is rooted in monkeys, a combination of the words monk and key. In other words, it is on the nose about her own “adoption.”

    I am a huge fan of Dawn, one of my favorite characters, so I absolutely agree with the perfect score. Buffy’s finding out the truth and her attitude change towards Dawn choke me up every time.

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  49. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on October 22, 2013.]

    I love the Harry Potter references. I thinks Harry Potter has been referenced three times on Buffy. Twice when Dawn is trying to make a HP joke, and her mom doesn’t get it. And once in season seven when Willow is talking to Giles. I love Dawn. She’s been through so much and is the reason for so many great episodes. I can’t understand how someone can hate her. I love this episode and thinks it deserves the score it got. I think Season 5 along with Season 3 were the strongest Buffy seasons and the most enjoyable. Out.For.A.Walk…Bitch still remains my favorite line from the series.

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  50. [Note: sageharris posted this comment on December 19, 2013.]

    There’s just one thing I dislike about the episode. Right after Buffy grabs the monk and escape with him jumping from a window, the only thing that stop Glory from chasing them is a broken shoe?? Really? The slayer take away the monk from her and she prefer to make a tantrum. Of course the writers needed an excuse to create an escape for Buffy and the monk, but this one was very forced.

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  51. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 19, 2013.]

    Oh, I don’t think it’s all that forced. The shoe thing served a purpose: to emphasize that Glory often exhibits the behavior of an adult acting like a spoiled child. This is thematically relevant when contrasting it with Buffy, as she is nearing the end of adolescence and about to step into young adulthood. It also gives Glory some added character and hints at the fact that she’s a hell god that is used to being worshiped/having her way for a very, very long time.

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  52. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on May 22, 2014.]

    I have to comment on the title, which may be obvious to nearly everyone, but still deserves remark. “No Place Like Home” is what is said by Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and the most obvious reference is to Glory, who is, after all, just trying to get home.

    There are a few other bits which add to this.

    Obviously, Buffy’s home has been invaded, by the insertion of Dawn, and she discovers that her home is not like home anymore.

    Giles has a new “home” in the Magic Box … and so does Anya.

    OK, perhaps these last two are examples of trying to make square pegs fit into round holes, but you get what I mean.

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  53. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on July 9, 2014.]

    Wow! The first time I watched this episode I remember having even more questions than I already did and being left a little conflicted. I never thought of it as anything special, but I really came to rehash those thoughts on rewatch. This is a truly superb episode, and your review delights me. I found myself nodding my head at everything and I can see why you gave this a P. Dawn is truly sinister here and whilst I never found her creepy the first-time round (I wonder why?) I find her quite haunting in this one, even though I KNOW she’s an innocent here. I mean the way she was looking out the window, the misleading foreboding music, how she walks in with tea and smiles at her mother. Yikes! Now I have chills. I think Michelle really deserves some appreciation for her acting in this episode.

    I have to agree the Buffy and Giles scenes was extremely hilarious and very, very well done! It’s moments like these that make this show as special as it is. I’m surprised that most of the fandom doesn’t like Glory, while she has her annoying moments, I think she’s pretty decent for a Big Bad. I think it’s because of her loud personality, a striking contract to the bland Adam of S4. But yeah, I think she’s fine as acting is concerned and pretty freakish in her own way. I mean you get that homicidal psychotic spoilt bitch vibe from her, and that’s no simple feat. She makes an impression on me right on her first episode! This is a good thing. This along with the last one. 5×04 “Out of My Mind” has so much foreshadowing and set-up packed neatly into it’s 43 minutes and done so slickly that I’m pleasantly surprised. I am having so much fun on my Season 5 rewatch and there are so many episodes to go!

    SMG hit all the right notes, she is truly perfect and I’m so glad that she makes Buffy come alive in that natural way simply by her facial expressions. Something with JM is also a master (no pun intended) at. That reminds me, “Out. For. A. Walk… Bitch.” I was laughing out loud. His speech is so adorable! I even like the way he tilts his head a little, like a little boy with a crush and goes, “Hi, Buffy.” Spike is truly a favourite character, and I just can’t get enough of him. It’s not often that you get a sexy, compelling, comedic character with a brilliant and unique personality like this. No wonder he’s popular and one of Buffyverse’s best. Here is a badass vampire, with the heart and soul of a true romantic. Great stuff! Moving on from that awesome scene, I have just got to say that the whole episode was done almost effortlessly.

    Things came into place so quickly and you just know this is going to be a kickass season! Everything was panned out right from the start! Dawn fading in and out of photos was genuinely ghastly, I kept picturing myself in Buffy’s position and shuddering. I’m also glad you mentioned how great a set The Magic Box is. So much happens here! It’s a lot of fun seeing Giles act all giddy like a child who just bought himself a shiny new bike! The dialogue in today’s episode was also exceptionally witty.

    Anyway, totally agree with the review! Thank you for making my Buffy rewatch experience so enjoyable, I know I ramble on a looooot with my ‘insightful’ comments and linger on this site far more than I should. What can I say? Obsessed fan without a life right here! πŸ˜‰

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  54. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on February 14, 2015.]

    While most people here are cool with the Dawn misleads I have a huge ass problem with them. There is no justified reason why Dawn acts as creepy as she does in these sequences. Maybe her actions themselves are practical but the execution is only there to make us think she’s evil. With the context that she’s not it’s just incredibly jarring. It’s maybe not as bad as that bit with the rifle in the recent Agent Carter episode but it’s still pretty sloppy. I’m ok with misleading the audience but it’s got to make sense with the context of the truth or else it comes across as cheap

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  55. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on February 14, 2015.]

    I agree with you about some of the misdirection. In “Real Me,” it bothers me a little that at the end, the tone of Dawn’s voice and the music cues imply that she’s evil, even thought we find out later that there was absolutely no malice or hidden agenda in what she was saying. This is just misdirection for it’s own sake and doesn’t really make any sense once you know what was going on.

    I’m not remembering Dawn acting particularly creepy in this episode, though. Is there something in particular you have in mind?

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  56. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on February 14, 2015.]

    Well as Mike mentioned there is that bit at the window. I’m mostly thinking of that scene where she’s giving Joyce the tea. I don’t have a clip of it unfortunately but it’s definitely overly creepy when she just wants to give her mom tea. Pretty weak. Incidently looking over the review and the comments I’ve come back to an idea I think I had originally watching the episode that maybe Dawn would have benefited from actually being evil to an extent, at least subconsciously. Maybe then she could be like Illyria where you got to take someone evil and make them good now that they’re human. Probably could’ve given the character a bit more depth.

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  57. [Note: Martin posted this comment on September 2, 2015.]

    Never got this episode. It’s a shaky start for clare kroner and it drags a lot. The angel episode shown after was a lot more affecting for me.

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  58. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on November 22, 2015.]

    Every time I see this final scene when Buffy says ‘she’s not my sister’ to the monk, I cry. Like you said, it’s so well acted by SMG. The episode is indeed perfect.

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  59. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on November 22, 2015.]

    And even if she is officially her sister, I think she treats Dawn like her daughter actually. And she is sort of the mother or at least legal parent(after her mother dies) and the monk, the fathers.

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  60. [Note: ppaula posted this comment on August 15, 2016.]

    To be honest, I don’t think Riley needs to feels like he can protect Buffy to feel all macho, I think his whole world (The Initiative) has just been torn around. He joined The Initiative to protect people and now he is loosing strength and he feels like he can’t even protect his most loved ones. That is how I see it anyways. I really like him, I think he is the touch of normal life Buffy needed.

    Other than that, amazing review. I definately agree with the 100%

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  61. [Note: B posted this comment on March 4, 2017.]

    If they had introduced the scythe as early as the dagon sphere and explained the first ubervamp was different than the others I honestly believe the seventh season would be viewed similarly as it stands the fifth season puts everything together in a more satisfying way

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  62. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 9, 2017.]

    I wouldn’t give this a perfect score. It has a few negative points which drop it down from even being amongst the best of the season.

    The main one is Glory’s insanity. At best, it’s inconsistent – at first she’s a raging maniac when talking to the monk and it seems like this is done solely so they can slip in ‘clever’ references to Buffy’s previous dreams. Later in the season they largely abandon Glory’s insanity and she becomes a more consistent character – this does appear to be intentional. I also found her introduction rather predictable. Did nobody seriously expect on this show that the thing banging down the door would be anything other than an attractive woman? Joss is a visionary but this development was eye-rolling. It would’ve been an inversion it the thing had turned out to be a big demon that Glory was using, since she loves minions and doesn’t like to do things herself.

    The Dagon Sphere and the Monks are also glossed over and forgotten. Are they connected to the Knights of Byzantium? Did they make the sphere? No expansion of this – it’s just tossed into the bag of tricks and hauled back out when they finally remembered that they hadn’t had the Scoobies use it yet. Also…what’s the Key? Why doesn’t the monk tell her what it is and more importantly what it does?! She will protect it now it’s her sister but he had no reason to withhold this information.

    Similar to the Glory reveal, it was obvious Dawn was not going to turn out to be evil. She wouldn’t have been written into the show so early and with a relatively well known actor. But also…everyone knows Joss doesn’t show his cards early and that by now, we’re used to his misdirection. This is why nobody should be surprised that Dawn wasn’t evil (just irritating) and the creature breaking the door down was actually an attractive woman.

    A final issue is Joyce’s illness. Why WOULDN’T it be something normal? We and the characters should know by now that the world ticks on, people die, people still get ill. Not everything can be fought. Is this a case of Buffy buying into the idea that everything is caused by magic or demons? Why does she think this? The situation is used to hammer home the idea that some things are mundane…but the world of Buffy IS the mundane world on the surface (otherwise everyone would notice the supernatural on a daily basis). A little too on the nose for me.

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  63. [Note: Noah posted this comment on March 9, 2017.]

    Hmm. I completely disagree with every point you make.

    Glory’s insanity is not dropped later in the season. We see her several times going nuts just before some new victim is brought for her to brainsuck. Moreover, her insanity is brought up repeatedly, and is a key plot/thematic point in The Weight of the World. In this episode, it’s clear that she’s extra crazy at the beginning because she needs to brainsuck the guy. Once she does that, she’s much more put together. Her characterization is very consistent.

    The monks aren’t brought up all that much because 1) most (maybe all) of them are dead now, and 2) they aren’t important. They played their part, and they’ve put the situation in Buffy’s hands. What would learning more about them tell us? Why doesn’t the monk tell her about what the key does? He’s dying! He’s just been tortured. I don’t think he’s thinking all that clearly. He says it opens the door, but he doesn’t get to what that means before he dies. What’s the problem? As for the Dagon sphere, the Scoobies forget about it because they don’t know how to use it. They make a guess later, although we don’t know if there wasn’t more they could have done with it. The writers did not forget about it. It is true that it’s just a plot device to make it believable that they could weaken Glory, but is there any reason it should be anything more?

    It may have been obvious to you, but if you go back and look at the Buffy message boards from when season five first aired, a lot of people though Dawn was evil even after this episode.

    “We and the characters should know by now that the world ticks on, people die, people still get ill.” Humanity is in constant denial of this fact. This thread in S5 picks up directly on Lie to Me. As for Buffy’s world being mundane on the surface, for other people it is (although only because they repress anything other than the mundane). But Buffy is always thinking about being the Slayer. It makes perfect sense for her to think that this could be something supernatural, especially given the psychological motivations she has to do so. She even suffered from an illness caused by a spell in Witch, and in Killed by Death it turned out that what appeared to be natural deaths by illness were supernatural. I guess I just don’t see the problem.

    I tend to agree with Mike that this is a great episode, although I don’t give scores. It isn’t the ostentatious brilliance of Fool for Love or The Body, but it’s quietly excellent to my taste.

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  64. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 13, 2017.]

    Don’t find those points at all convincing, myself.

    Glory’s characterisation goes far more from genuine insanity to Master-level ranting about her minions. You may find it consistent, but I think not. I’ve watched the season plenty of times and Glory’s characteristion is inconsistent early on (her brain sucking features prominently at first, then largely becomes irrelevant as her appearances go on, which is inconsistency) and isn’t the most inspired character. I’d have rather seen a character with a more original perspective and a more complex motivation at this point in the show, but that’s my preference. Villains on this show were often a problem and at least with Glory we have someone who is actually directly opposed to Buffy rather than one doing things in the background like the Mayor and Adam. Those two were doing their own thing which fit their characters but didn’t make for the best hero/villain dynamics.

    The monks, the Key, the sphere and Dawn are all plot devices. However things need to be adequately set up and explained. Buffy doesn’t hear the important information that should be written in first – it’s saved until very late in the season and revealed by an enemy! The monk’s first words should be ‘the key opens all dimensions’ and ‘protect it – it’s now your sister’. He has enough time but the way the scene is written doesn’t allow it.

    If people thought Dawn was evil even after this episode…then they didn’t pay much attention either to the show or the discussion boards. It was an obvious red herring for the early season and people know Joss does it. Even when it’s explained, they kept their kooky fan theories. Fan theories are even why an entire tv trope (called ‘Jossed’) exists, because fans were continually coming up with stuff that ultimately turned out to be way off the mark.

    It is (possibly) in character for Buffy – with her complexes it’s probably unsurprising that when somebody gets ill she assumes it’s something she can fight. But come on…kids in all walks of life grow up knowing that people get ill, and people sometimes die. Most have lost someone in their families by the time they hit high school! The point is that Buffy is about ‘mundane’ (in the real world sense – these are normal people) young adults coping with the supernatural. They should at least consider the possibility that – shock horror – Joyce is ill. Like people do, all over the world, constantly every day. What the season does better later is portraying these characters’ reactions to something they can’t control. It’s also not really to do with their age – virtually everyone I know had seen illness and death in friends and family by the age of 18, and certainly by the ages of these characters in S5. What the episode gets right in this regard is Buffy’s neuroses and reaction to the situation. She realises her mother is ill and there’s nothing she can do about it, which is a good window into how this character thinks about and views the world.

    I still enjoy the episode (this is probably my favourite season of Buffy), but just because someone gives it a perfect score, doesn’t make it perfect. There are many flaws in this episode but overall it keeps it together and does what it set out to do.

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  65. [Note: Sirena posted this comment on March 13, 2017.]

    I don’t find Buffy’s knee-jerk response to attribute a supernatural cause to Joyce’s illness all that surprising. In episode eighteen of season two, “Killed by Death,”Giles remarks to the Scoobies that death and disease are two things that Buffy cannot fight. This simple truth scares Buffy because it renders her powerless.In fact, when Buffy suggests that there might be a supernatural cause behind the children getting ill and dying, her friends are quick to point out that people get sick and people die. Buffy needs for Joyce’s illness to be the result of magic because then she can break the spell and save her mother.

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  66. [Note: Noah posted this comment on March 13, 2017.]

    Glory’s characterisation goes far more from genuine insanity to Master-level ranting about her minions. You may find it consistent, but I think not. I’ve watched the season plenty of times and Glory’s characteristion is inconsistent early on (her brain sucking features prominently at first, then largely becomes irrelevant as her appearances go on, which is inconsistency) and isn’t the most inspired character. I’d have rather seen a character with a more original perspective and a more complex motivation at this point in the show, but that’s my preference. Villains on this show were often a problem and at least with Glory we have someone who is actually directly opposed to Buffy rather than one doing things in the background like the Mayor and Adam. Those two were doing their own thing which fit their characters but didn’t make for the best hero/villain dynamics.

    On the insanity point, I’ve already said why I think it is consistent, which your post doesn’t address. The initial insanity that we see is due to her not having sucked a brain for a long time. The characterization is not intended as showing us how she is normally. After this, we just don’t see her in that state very often because her minions have a nice brain providing operation set up for her. We see her on the brink once in Checkpoint, she’s just not vocalizing her thoughts. We also see her starting to wig out before she brain sucks Tara, although it doesn’t go as far, because she immediately brain sucks Tara. They present her in an extreme state first, then mostly explore her in a less extreme state (with hints of it from time to time) afterwards, with an obvious explanation as to why the first side is tempered. It’s perfectly consistent.

    Her brain sucking becomes irrelevant? That’s simply not true. Tara being brain-sucked is one of the principal plot points of the season. Brain sucking is referred to in Blood Ties, Intervention, Tough Love, Spiral, The Weight of the World (in which Glory’s insanity is also shown and addressed), and the plot of the Gift depends both on there being legions of the brain-sucked and on Willow trying to reverse the brain sucking, which is shown to weaken Glory. It is a major plot point in almost every late-season episode. How is that “irrelevant”?

    Now, I will grant you that Glory in and of herself is not a very complex character. But, Glory has to be interpreted within the Ben/Glory/Dawn framework that the season sets up. They are metaphorically very interesting, especially since they are all Buffy (or what Buffy might become). If you interpret them metaphorically with respect to Buffy, they represent complex insight into Buffy. That’s another topic, though.

    The monks, the Key, the sphere and Dawn are all plot devices. However things need to be adequately set up and explained. Buffy doesn’t hear the important information that should be written in first – it’s saved until very late in the season and revealed by an enemy! The monk’s first words should be ‘the key opens all dimensions’ and ‘protect it – it’s now your sister’. He has enough time but the way the scene is written doesn’t allow it.

    Except, he does try to tell her that. He says:

    The Key is energy. It’s a portal. It opens the door…

    Buffy then immediately cuts him off, and starts asking him about what the key is rather than what it does. He tries to answer those questions. I didn’t say it very well, but my point before was not that the monk doesn’t tell Buffy about the one really important thing because he’s dying, but that he does tell her, she just doesn’t understand, and he has no time to elaborate because of their miscommunication and his death. He tells her, “it opens the door.” Sure, it’s vague. That’s where the facts I mentioned come in: he’s dying, been tortured, exhausted, his native language isn’t English, and Buffy repeatedly cuts him off to ask him about other things that he also needs to tell her about. Yes, the way the scene works out that crucial detail doesn’t come out. But it’s not unreasonable that it didn’t come out here because of the facts of the situation. I just see a mountain being made out of, well, not even a mole hill.

    If people thought Dawn was evil even after this episode…then they didn’t pay much attention either to the show or the discussion boards. It was an obvious red herring for the early season and people know Joss does it. Even when it’s explained, they kept their kooky fan theories. Fan theories are even why an entire tv trope (called ‘Jossed’) exists, because fans were continually coming up with stuff that ultimately turned out to be way off the mark.

    It might not have fooled you, but that doesn’t make it unreasonable that others might have been fooled, or at least wondered. I had seen later episodes before, so I knew that Dawn wasn’t evil. But I know perfectly intelligent people who were watching for the first time and were unsure at this point. Besides, those scenes aren’t just an audience misdirect, although they are that. They also represent the fact that Buffy is confused and wondering if Dawn is what’s making her mother sick/evil in general. That’s what makes the ending moving and meaningful: the change in perspective that Buffy goes through, not the audience’s beliefs. Buffy having doubts about Dawn in this situation is totally believable.

    It is (possibly) in character for Buffy – with her complexes it’s probably unsurprising that when somebody gets ill she assumes it’s something she can fight. But come on…kids in all walks of life grow up knowing that people get ill, and people sometimes die. Most have lost someone in their families by the time they hit high school!

    Yes, it is unreasonable for Buffy to assume that there is something demonic at work here before natural causes are excluded. But it isn’t out of character. First, psychologically, it’s completely understandable for Buffy (or anyone) to see that her mother is sick and want it to be something she can fight. You seem to half concede this point, then say she should know better. Of course she should know better! That’s the point. The issue isn’t whether Buffy knows rationally that people just get sick and that’s a fact of the world. It’s that she’s afraid, and so a defense mechanism goes up that tries to shift the blame to the supernatural, which she can fight. We saw this before in Doomed. She’s grown up in Southern California, she knows rationally that earthquakes are very common. But she’s afraid of them anyway for psychological reasons. The fact that she turns out to be right later doesn’t change the fact that it was irrational for her to think that at time, as represented by the fact that her mind, Giles, was gainsaying her. He doesn’t outright tell her she’s wrong here, but he does twice mention talking to doctors, showing he’s assuming her problem is medical. Furthermore, Buffy only concocts this theory after 1) the doctors tell her nothing, and 2) she puts together the crazy guy, the Dagon Sphere, and her mom’s illness in order to try to fill in that gap. Again, not rational, but totally believable psychologically and in character for Buffy.

    They should at least consider the possibility that – shock horror – Joyce is ill

    Giles does. The others don’t accept or reject her hypothesis. They simply help her out because she’s got a plan and that’s what they do. And it is a shock and a horror, one that certain people try to avoid admitting. I have personally dealt with significant medical issues both for my family and myself, and they can make you do and think all kinds of irrational things, including putting you in denial and making you think it’s all psychological when the doctors can’t figure it out.

    I still enjoy the episode (this is probably my favourite season of Buffy), but just because someone gives it a perfect score, doesn’t make it perfect.

    I don’t just go around agreeing with scores because they’ve been given by someone on the internet. I don’t give scores at all in my own reviews because I don’t think they makes sense. I agree with Mike’s high appreciation for the episode based on his arguments for it as well as my own, and I do not see the points you raise as being major issues, or, for the most part, issues at all.

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  67. [Note: Noah posted this comment on March 13, 2017.]

    That comment should say, her initial extreme insanity. She’s depicted as crazy throughout, with this being a more extreme case. She doesn’t get quite this bad for much of the rest of the season, but there are a few moments where she comes close.

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  68. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 15, 2017.]

    On the insanity point, I’ve already said why I think it is consistent, which your post doesn’t address. The initial insanity that we see is due to her not having sucked a brain for a long time. The characterization is not intended as showing us how she is normally. After this, we just don’t see her in that state very often because her minions have a nice brain providing operation set up for her. We see her on the brink once in Checkpoint, she’s just not vocalizing her thoughts. We also see her starting to wig out before she brain sucks Tara, although it doesn’t go as far, because she immediately brain sucks Tara. They present her in an extreme state first, then mostly explore her in a less extreme state (with hints of it from time to time) afterwards, with an obvious explanation as to why the first side is tempered. It’s perfectly consistent.

    Her brain sucking becomes irrelevant? That’s simply not true. Tara being brain-sucked is one of the principal plot points of the season. Brain sucking is referred to in Blood Ties, Intervention, Tough Love, Spiral, The Weight of the World (in which Glory’s insanity is also shown and addressed), and the plot of the Gift depends both on there being legions of the brain-sucked and on Willow trying to reverse the brain sucking, which is shown to weaken Glory. It is a major plot point in almost every late-season episode. How is that “irrelevant”?

    Now, I will grant you that Glory in and of herself is not a very complex character. But, Glory has to be interpreted within the Ben/Glory/Dawn framework that the season sets up. They are metaphorically very interesting, especially since they are all Buffy (or what Buffy might become). If you interpret them metaphorically with respect to Buffy, they represent complex insight into Buffy. That’s another topic, though.

    Glory’s brain sucking/insanity features prominently early on, then is largely forgotten about until late in the season. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but she’s portrayed as absolutely insane in this episode via some weird dialogue. It’s also clear she has been brain-sucking lately, since in earlier episodes we’ve already seen crazy people wandering around. It’s not consistent because it’s used prominently in one episode to emphasise a point about the character (in her first appearance, the most important appearance of a character on a show) and is then barely even given a nod except when convenient to the plot. You might not think that’s inconsistent, but unfortunately I think it is. It all stems from the writing of Glory in this episode and that’s why it doesn’t deserve a perfect score.

    Tara being brain-sucked is a plot device used to get Willow into a fight scene with Glory in that episode. Something being referred to doesn’t make it a major plot point. A major plot point is something like Glory being Ben that has major ramifications on the way the character is viewed. The brain-sucking is largely window dressing for the Glory character in almost all circumstances in which it is used. Even when she sucks Tara, she simply says she needs a little pick-me-up; it’s being used in a callous way because Glory knows she’s hurting the Scoobies by doing it. The episode’s events are the plot, not the way in which Glory hurts Tara.

    Now, I will grant you that Glory in and of herself is not a very complex character. But, Glory has to be interpreted within the Ben/Glory/Dawn framework that the season sets up. They are metaphorically very interesting, especially since they are all Buffy (or what Buffy might become). If you interpret them metaphorically with respect to Buffy, they represent complex insight into Buffy. That’s another topic, though.

    Why does Glory have to be interpreted within that framework? Dawn for example as a character has no relation to Glory beyond being the Key. Even when they are verbally sparring in the last few episodes, Glory only cares about Dawn because she’s the Key; the object Glory needs to fulfil her goal. If the writers need metaphorical frameworks to support a character, it’s not a good screen character. Glory had at best a pretty bland but functional motivation, broad brush characterisation and could’ve been written in a much more interesting way. I don’t even think the casting of Glory was particularly inspired (just my opinion, I still like the character). But, she serves as a good foil for Buffy, the character she has the most interesting (perhaps only) relationship with beyond Ben, but even then she’s simply a squatter in his body. For Buffy, Glory is the ultimate enemy…she’s someone she cannot defeat physically with her Slayer power alone. Buffy’s strategy is almost always ‘run over and hit it..if that doesn’t work, try again’, but that won’t work here. It takes a lot of effort for Buffy to shake off her usual tunnel vision and utilise everything and everyone she has in order to give her the edge over Glory in The Gift.

    Buffy then immediately cuts him off, and starts asking him about what the key is rather than what it does. He tries to answer those questions. I didn’t say it very well, but my point before was not that the monk doesn’t tell Buffy about the one really important thing because he’s dying, but that he does tell her, she just doesn’t understand, and he has no time to elaborate because of their miscommunication and his death. He tells her, “it opens the door.” Sure, it’s vague. That’s where the facts I mentioned come in: he’s dying, been tortured, exhausted, his native language isn’t English, and Buffy repeatedly cuts him off to ask him about other things that he also needs to tell her about. Yes, the way the scene works out that crucial detail doesn’t come out. But it’s not unreasonable that it didn’t come out here because of the facts of the situation. I just see a mountain being made out of, well, not even a mole hill.

    I’ll ignore the mountain out of a mole hill comment, since all I’m doing is daring to disagree and put forward an alternate opinion.

    The whole point of this scene is that it sets up the main plot of season five. Your points about it are great – it highlights exactly how not to handle exposition like this. The monk has vital information Buffy NEEDS to know, and yet they write the scene so that convenient, obvious plot points are missed. This is just so they can be revealed later in other episodes. This cannot be the driving force behind writing a scene. The only thing in its favour is that it’s just typical of Buffy to jump all over a dying man’s words demanding other information, stopping him from giving her the information in the first place.

    So again, I happen to disagree that this is a perfect episode, and this is another reason why.

    It might not have fooled you, but that doesn’t make it unreasonable that others might have been fooled, or at least wondered. I had seen later episodes before, so I knew that Dawn wasn’t evil. But I know perfectly intelligent people who were watching for the first time and were unsure at this point. Besides, those scenes aren’t just an audience misdirect, although they are that. They also represent the fact that Buffy is confused and wondering if Dawn is what’s making her mother sick/evil in general. That’s what makes the ending moving and meaningful: the change in perspective that Buffy goes through, not the audience’s beliefs. Buffy having doubts about Dawn in this situation is totally believable.

    A lot of people were not fooled by it, and it’s quite surprising so many were. I agree it isn’t only an audience misdirect, but that’s mostly what it was. It makes a good plot point for the episode itself because Buffy becomes Dawn’s big sister in spirit even knowing that she isn’t supposed to be there. The point was being made more that it was quite obvious knowing Joss and knowing that a new main cast member was joining the series (Dawn is in the main cast as early as ‘The Replacement’). It’s an early red herring that some people fell for.

    Yes, it is unreasonable for Buffy to assume that there is something demonic at work here before natural causes are excluded. But it isn’t out of character. First, psychologically, it’s completely understandable for Buffy (or anyone) to see that her mother is sick and want it to be something she can fight. You seem to half concede this point, then say she should know better. Of course she should know better! That’s the point. The issue isn’t whether Buffy knows rationally that people just get sick and that’s a fact of the world. It’s that she’s afraid, and so a defence mechanism goes up that tries to shift the blame to the supernatural, which she can fight. We saw this before in Doomed. She’s grown up in Southern California, she knows rationally that earthquakes are very common. But she’s afraid of them anyway for psychological reasons. The fact that she turns out to be right later doesn’t change the fact that it was irrational for her to think that at time, as represented by the fact that her mind, Giles, was gainsaying her. He doesn’t outright tell her she’s wrong here, but he does twice mention talking to doctors, showing he’s assuming her problem is medical. Furthermore, Buffy only concocts this theory after 1) the doctors tell her nothing, and 2) she puts together the crazy guy, the Dagon Sphere, and her mom’s illness in order to try to fill in that gap. Again, not rational, but totally believable psychologically and in character for Buffy.

    I think the main reason for Buffy’s snap judgement that her mother being ill must be the result of mystical forces is her character, but it’s also that this is TV-land. On Buffy, we rarely hear mention of family bereavements or really any extended family for the characters (though we do hear about Xander’s Uncle Rory a little). These characters should have experienced family illness or bereavement (or even that of friends) by now. Everyone just goes along with Buffy because…they always do. Buffy’s personality means it’s hard to actually disagree with her in emotional situations.

    Giles does. The others don’t accept or reject her hypothesis. They simply help her out because she’s got a plan and that’s what they do. And it is a shock and a horror, one that certain people try to avoid admitting. I have personally dealt with significant medical issues both for my family and myself, and they can make you do and think all kinds of irrational things, including putting you in denial and making you think it’s all psychological when the doctors can’t figure it out.

    Since we’re mentioning it, so have I (personally dealt with those issues). I work in the cancer diagnostics industry, so I deal with it professionally too. If there’s one thing that a doctor shouldn’t be doing, it’s contributing to psychological stress by not adequately explaining next steps when they can’t find immediate cause. Many people go through the process of not knowing what their particular ailment is.

    I don’t just go around agreeing with scores because they’ve been given by someone on the internet. I don’t give scores at all in my own reviews because I don’t think they makes sense. I agree with Mike’s high appreciation for the episode based on his arguments for it as well as my own, and I do not see the points you raise as being major issues, or, for the most part, issues at all.

    Well I happen to not agree with Mike’s high score for this episode, based on all of the points above. I certainly do think they are issues and it’s clear what you think given how dismissive of them you appear to be. This is a good episode, but not an exceptionally good one deserving to rank alongside the others that were awarded the ‘P’. Certainly not as good as ‘Fool for Love’, an episode that solidly deserves the ‘P’.

    Funny thing is, Mike even directly addresses this in the review before he even begins:

    I’m sure many of you are very surprised right now. “He gave ‘No Place Like Home’ a 100!? What!?” Well first of all, please calm down. Secondly, please read me out here and then make those inevitable judgements. This is an episode that, from the moment I first saw it, I loved beyond reason (although I will offer much in the way of reason). I’m sure you have your own personal favourite(s) that many other people don’t see in the same vein as you do. Well, this is an example of one of those episodes for me.

    I certainly do think he’s over the top giving this one a P, but that doesn’t mean it makes it less than say a 90 for me. It’s just one of those episodes he loves, and can’t quite put his finger on what tips it into the perfect region for him. My own personal favourite is ‘Lie to Me’, but the difference is that I wouldn’t give that a P since I know there are objectively (such a thing does exist) better episodes in Season 2.

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  69. First of all, it’s important to note that I’ve long since dropped the “P” or “Perfect” terminology to avoid the notion I think something is literally perfect. A+ simply means I think it’s exceptional and a standout among its peers.

    This episode works for me on all levels (dramatically, thematically, emotionally, etc.), is a joy to watch each and every time, and I can’t find any major fault in it. My opening paragraph is primarily a response to the fact that few others find this episode as exceptional as I do, in intangible and tangible ways. I don’t find the flaws you point out particularly convincing, just as you don’t find many of my/Noah’s respective points in favor of the episode’s exceptionalism convincing. To that I say: disagree, but fair enough.

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  70. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 16, 2017.]

    I have went over many times why I personally don’t find the episode quite as good as you described. But I doubt you feel the same way as me about ‘Lie to Me’ as I do. I love that episode because it was the episode that got me hooked on Buffy. I love it more than most episodes even in Season Two, but I know there are better ones.

    Yes, I don’t find the ‘plus’ points to be quite as convincing as you. I don’t expect to get torn down for having – and explaining – an alternate opinion. I think the episode’s main weakness is perhaps the Dawn ‘reveal’, which works thematically for Buffy as a character, but by then most people had already figured out Dawn wasn’t evil. They shouldn’t have added her to the main credits if they wanted that setup to work.

    I don’t think this episode’s flaws drop it very much (it’s still very good) but they do drop it. For me it doesn’t sit alongside the other top episodes of the season or even better most of the best episodes from other seasons. One thing about critical review is that the same content can produce very different opinion. Season Six is a case in point – I’ve pointed out on that review why the season is horrendously flawed, but that doesn’t stop people from loving it. One thing I don’t quite understand is its divisiveness today and its appraisal as some people’s favourite (wow), given how much the general fanbase took against it at the time.

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  71. I agree that, when forced to “rank” this episode against the other exceptional episodes, it would likely come in on the lower end of that list, but I still find it exceptional nonetheless.

    Regarding the Dawn reveal, I find the acting along with both the dramatic and thematic weight of the moment to actually be quite moving.

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