Buffy 5×20: Spiral

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Stephen DeKnight | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 05/08/2001]

To be completely honest, “Spiral” is a pretty big disappointment. I was expecting another layered and complex episode with some impressive action sequences. What I got instead was an episode with suspect plot logic and utterly ridiculous set pieces that border on goofy, which is not cool. With all that said, there’s still much plot progression, some great subtle character moments, and some chilling exposition that lay the stakes on the line. This entire episode is basically one big action scene after another with a big chunk of exposition in the middle of it. That’d be okay if it was done with some more sensibility.

The opening scene, though, has plenty sensibility and is super cool to boot. Glory blasting through the wall and running incredibly fast through some doors at UC Sunnydale is a sweet visual effect. After Buffy and Dawn barely escape Glory thanks to Willow’s useful forcefield spell and a truck, it quickly becomes obvious that the Scoobies can’t stop her forever. So what’s Buffy’s idea to save them? Apparently to cram everyone in a winnebago that can’t go past 35 mph and is about to fall apart. Simply packing them all up in two smaller but faster cars would have done the trick and avoided all the problems that follow. This idea by the writers was mistakenly taken for laughs when it should have been taken seriously, like Buffy is. I can overlook small plot contrivances but this is a huge one.

While I’m dwelling on the negative I might as well get it all out of my system. How in the world did the Knights manage to get their whole little stupid army over to Sunnydale… with horses… looking like that? These guys look like they came out of a Xena episode. What is going on here? Also, how’d the Knights find the winnebago let alone catch up with it? Ugh… I’m sorry but there’s just too much stupidity in plotting for me to excuse any of it. I expect more from Buffy, a lot more. But wait! It doesn’t end! We get to see their general guy run into Buffy’s makeshift stronghold with only one guard! At this point I don’t even think I need to mention how utterly one-dimensional this group is. When Glory slaughters all of them at the end of the episode and that one guy gasps out, all melodramatic-like, “the beast…” all I can do is cheer. Thank you Glory for killing those, as Spike elogantly puts it, “role-playing rejects.” It’s such a shame the writers couldn’t intelligently work the Knights into the plot and it represents one of the big missed opportunities this season.

Okay, take a breath. With all that disappointment off my chest, I can actually start talking about some of the stuff I loved. Yes, there is stuff I loved. First is a fascinating parallel between Dawn and Ben that’s developing. Both of them have manufactured existences and are victims of circumstances having to make the best of their respective situations. We see Ben constantly saying that this is his life and that he’s going to do whatever it takes to keep it. At this point he’s not quite willing to kill Dawn to save himself, but he’s not ruling it out. Dawn on the other hand doesn’t want to hurt anyone and is kind of helpless to do much of anything about her situation.

Like Spike told Dawn before and Ben told himself before, it doesn’t matter much how you got here, it’s what you do now that matters. Both Dawn and Ben started out in the same boat, but in these final episodes we see Dawn pulling more towards being willing to sacrifice herself rather than see others hurt and Ben going the exact opposite way. The beginning of this split is played excellently for tension while Ben is helping an injured Giles.

Another well-done aspect of this episode is everything surrounding Buffy’s attitude. We see a cold, depressed, and scared Buffy who just gets bombarded by one disaster after another without being given time to process what’s happening and make good decisions. When they first load up in the winnebago and everyone objects to Spike being there, Buffy just yells out, “Look this isn’t a discussion! He stays! Get over it!” She’s right, they need him helping them–they need anyone willing to help them. This makes Buffy go even further into isolation, locking herself in the back room. Later on Dawn comes in and does something that’s been way overdue: thanking Buffy for all the amazing stuff done for her. Although Buffy appreciates the sentiment, it’s not nearly enough to break her away from the reality of the situation. Tearing up a bit she says, “It just keeps coming. Glory. Riley. Tara. Mom.” Things have really been piling up on Buffy this season, and she’s about to snap.

Another brief moment of comfort for Buffy is when an injured Giles also essentially thanks her for everything she’s done. He tells her, “What I’ve always admired… Being able to place your heart above all else. I’m so proud of you. You’ve come so far. You’re everything a Watcher… everything I could have hoped for.” I’m glad Buffy heard this directly from Giles and wasn’t left implied any longer. They’ve been through so much together, it feels right for it to finally be verbalized.

As things continue to get more dire towards the end of the episode, Buffy begins taking this attitude of ‘everyone’s going to make it’ which, while admirable, is hardly practical and something in future seasons she’ll realize. This extends to Buffy genuinely promising not to let anything happen to Dawn. Nearly immediately after this promise Ben, who was called to help the injured Giles, transforms into Glory right in front of everyone and starts crazily tearing the place up going after Dawn. Buffy can’t stop her, Glory snags Dawn, kills all the Knights outside Willow’s cool protective bubble, and vanishes thereby shattering Buffy’s promise to Dawn. Understandably, this is when Buffy completely shuts down and goes into a catatonic shock. Pieces have been coming together all season to build to this moment and here it finally happens. More good character continuity.

A few other bits that I found on the positive side of things include Xander helping Spike light his cigarette (“You know those things will kill you”), finally showing some acceptance and gratitude for Spike’s help which has been long overdue though understandably absent until now. I also really enjoyed getting a ton of background on what exactly the Key is and what the stakes are if Glory succeeds. It’s amusing that Glory could care less about harming the world, it just so happens that’s a side effect of getting her back home. If the Key is activated it will cause “The walls separating realities will crumble, dimensions will bleed into each other. Order will be overthrown and the universe will tumble into chaos. All dark. Forever.” Pretty heavy stuff, though it’s great that at least Dawn finally knows why everyone’s out to kill her.

During this exposition from the Knight General, Gregor, we discover they seem to have blind devotion in the name of God. Whether or not this is the Christian God or some other is unknown, but no sane God would ever will an innocent to be murdered, which is the case Buffy makes. The Knights reek of religious hijacking which actually has some interesting parallels to how terrorists are molesting the Muslim religion. Whether or not this was intended by the writers I am unsure of. All I know is that the writing team kind of left the exploration of this topic in the air, as it is not discussed again nor does Gregor even have a response to Buffy’s initial plea.

In the end my feelings are a big mixed bag on this episode. There’s some stuff to genuinely like while there’s almost as much to be repulsed by, mostly involving the entirely dumb and one-dimensional Knights. The action scenes prove to be pretty enjoyable when I could look past all plausibility issues, and I feel the character moments outweigh the negatives just enough to keep this one out of the C-range, but barely. Those negatives do drag the episode down a fair amount though. It’s just a shame this late in the stretch the writers couldn’t nail down a consistently explosive multi-part finale.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Buffy’s fight on the top of the winnebago is pretty well done.
+ Anya knocking out a guy with a frying pan. “Not a piano, but hey!”
+ Grappling hooks on a winnebago? Even though ridiculous, it still manages to be oddly hilarious.
+ Spike’s reaction to seeing Ben still flirting with Buffy.




80 thoughts on “Buffy 5×20: Spiral”

  1. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    I could tell I was going to clash pretty badly with your review, so I’ve got a lot of typing to do ;).

    So what’s Buffy’s idea to save them? Apparently to cram everyone in a winnebago that can’t go past 35 mph and is about to fall apart. Simply packing them all up in two smaller but faster cars would have done the trick and avoided all the problems that follow. This idea by the writers was mistakenly taken for laughs when it should have been taken seriously, like Buffy is. I can overlook small plot contrivances but this is a huge one.

    But the thing is, I don’t think it was a plot contrivance at all, but a character failing on Buffy’s part. We’ve been seeing all season how unprepared and panicked she is for when Glory finds out, and that comes directly to a head here. By this stage she’s more or less completely in charge of the group, so they go by her instructions. If she had been calmer, Buffy would have put Giles in charge of the practicalities such as accommadation and whatnot, but she isn’t, and Buffy panics, coming up with something, which although ridiculous, is understandably from the way she’s looking at it the most practical solution. You see, Buffy doesn’t exactly have much experience when it comes to directing an organised journey, and she really should have left the organisation part up to someone like Giles, but when all’s said and done, she panics, which is the point of that part of the episode.

    What I also disagree with is that the episode didn’t play this up hugely for laughs. You know, after being told so many times that Buffy’s greatest strength as a show is mixing comedy with tradgedy, I find it amusingly ironic that one of the ultimate examples (or so I thought) I like about this is one a lot of people dislike. The scene where Buffy arrives with the Winnebago is genuinely comic, but there’s a serious point to it, which is heightened by the following scenes. We’re gradually shown how inexperienced and terrified Buffy is, and that’s one of the darkest parts of Spiral, how everything spirals out of control for her and the gang, at least partly due to her panicking, however unintentional that may have been.

    While I’m dwelling on the negative I might as well get it all out of my system. How in the world did the Knights manage to get their whole little stupid army over to Sunnydale… with horses… looking like that? These guys look like they came out of a Xena episode. What is going on here? Also, how’d the Knights find the winnebago let alone catch up with it? Ugh… I’m sorry but there’s just too much stupidity in plotting for me to excuse any of it. I expect more from Buffy, a lot more. But wait! It doesn’t end! We get to see their general guy run into Buffy’s makeshift stronghold with only one guard! At this point I don’t even think I need to mention how utterly one-dimensional this group is. When Glory slaughters all of them at the end of the episode and that one guy gasps out, all melodramatic-like, “the beast…” all I can do is cheer. Thank you Glory for killing those, as Spike elogantly puts it, “role-playing rejects.” It’s such a shame the writers couldn’t intelligently work the Knights into the plot and it represents one of the big missed opportunities this season.

    I’ve always disagreed with this, despite the obvious fact that the knights are underused. To be perfectly honest, they were supposed to be “role-playing rejects” from the beginning, and simply a reminder about how serious Dawn’s position was. But despite being utterly old-fashioned and stuck to tradition, they’re still effecient and rather dangerous because of their fanaticism. In a show that frequently shows the (often amusing) side of what happens when the supernaturally knowledged people move with the times, I find it quite interesting when they show a group which doesn’t. It makes for interesting and underniable entertaining viewing.

    How did the Knights transport their army into Sunnydale? I don’t know, and in the end I don’t care that much, either. For one, we are shown that they’re not afraid of using subterfuge and disguise, for another, we see they only tend to behave in such absurdly traditional and middle-ages fashion when acting drectly in connection to the Key and their chosen target. Apart from this, I challenge you to claim that this is the biggest and worst plausibility issue that Buffy ever had. Buffy’s plots have always had slight plausibility issues, and as long as they’re used and executed well, like here, I don’t really mind that much.

    It’s just a shame this late in the stretch the writers couldn’t nail down a consistently explosive multi-part finale.

    But I’d say that Spiral was explosive, if nothing else. I personally think if there’s one thing you can’t accuse it of not being, that’s explosive. It is, in my opinion, Buffy’s best, and most deep, action thriller.

    The thing is, Spiral has some of the best characterisation in season five. It’s brilliantly deep at times, especially in the last quarter, and the comedy is just as good.

    This takes me back to what I was saying earlier about the mix of comedy and tragedy. In spiral, they don’t even feel mixed, they feel one and the same – tragedy is consistently tempered with comedy to the point where I don’t even notice. I both laugh at and feel for the characters, and connect with them on a level that I don’t except for five other episodes in the season. The Winnebago is both hilariously funny and deeply saddening, and it shows up perfectly Buffy’s balance and range at this time. And the fight scene is the definitive reason I watch Buffy. It’s absurd yet brilliant, showing the seamless mix of fantasy, tradition and modernisation that I love about the show.


  2. [Note: Rick posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    Hmm, I have to agree mostly with Dingdong on this one. Mike, it seems you are especially hard on this episode. While I admit it is flawed, I have always had great affection for this episode and it is in fact one of my favourites (not on the best list for sure though) of the season, if not the series.

    First of all, I’ll say that the Winnebego does not seem dumb at all to me and I’m kinda shocked it was considered so seriously in the review. They are going to the middle of nowhere and will be gone for who knows how long. Something that can store supplies, house them, shelter them, feed them, and get them where they want to go seems not in the least retarded, but in fact necessary. It may be slow, but the assumption is: How the hell would glory know what vehicle they’re in anyways?

    Secondly, while I sympathize with your complaints about the Knight, I think you overemphasize their detrimental effect. As Dingdong said, I think they are contrived for a very sound reason: they are supposed to be one-sided, traditional, and religiously based in order to illustrate the complexity of the situation that they are failing to grasp (see Buffy’s attacks on Gregor). They exist to reinforce the theme that the utilitarian “one life for many” is rightly not an option for Buffy, at least at this time. I will, however, cede that their miraculous ability to mobilize and find her so quickly is annoying, although not hugely so (as a side note, does anyone else find it interesting that Buffy kills a human here, for the first and only time I think).

    Lastly, I will counter that, while not maximizing its potential, Spiral is a great piece of the multi-arc finale that sheds light on how great a human being Buffy is (see Giles’ discussion with her), key relationships (Buffy/Spike, Giles/Buffy, Willow/gang, Ben/Dawn), and the season’s plots and themes.
    I would have scored it between 85-90 (critcially 85, with style 90).

    I will, however, note my major complaint about the episode, which no one has mentioned. Why the fuck would Ben fathom coming to help them if he’s serious about not hurting Dawn (which is obvious considering his behaviour prior to this episode, his panic when he realizes Glory is coming, and his behaviour next episode before Glory finally convinces him otherwise.) I don’t believe he was suffering from such extreme emotional ambivalence that he would make such a reckless decision.


  3. [Note: Rick posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    Also, a winnepego is the best option if they are to bring Spike a long with them….sunlight! and if that’s all that’s around, it’s not like they have time to be picky.


  4. [Note: Rick posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    I guess you can also tell (from this episode, Shells, and Dead Things) that Deknight is one of my fav Buffverse writers! (after Joss and Minear I think)


  5. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    I will, however, note my major complaint about the episode, which no one has mentioned. Why the fuck would Ben fathom coming to help them if he’s serious about not hurting Dawn (which is obvious considering his behaviour prior to this episode, his panic when he realizes Glory is coming, and his behaviour next episode before Glory finally convinces him otherwise.) I don’t believe he was suffering from such extreme emotional ambivalence that he would make such a reckless decision.

    But I think that actually was designed to show up Ben’s reckless nature – he wants to be in control of the situation himself, as evidenced from the beginning of the episode, and wants to keep his options open. I’m not so convinced he is serious about being concerned for Dawn’s safety, as we see in the next episode that his concern for himself does ultimately come above everyone else. He’s also still got biases from wanting to help with the short-term problems Buffy has, which includes someone in danger of dying. For this reason, although he does know the dangers to Dawn, he wants to risk it.


  6. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    I’m afraid I just can’t allow myself to get past the extreme hokiness of the Knights. Even a Buffy in panic would not make such a poor decision. With Giles’ sports car and Xander’s established car, they should have taken off at high speeds on the freeway. That would have been my first thought in the face of panic. Instead they get a slow, huge, vehicle and go on a slow, dirt road.

    Simply the picture of a bunch of guys in chainmail galloping past a motorized vehicle in horses is too stupid for me. I know this is a fantasy show, but usually Buffy successfully avoids being truly hokey. Not here though.

    The episode has value, as I pointed out, but I don’t feel I was hard on it at all. I think my score is very fair. The Knights comprise the majority of this episode I think they just flat out fail as being much of anything interesting. Even if there was some depth there I’d have a hard time looking past their extremely stupid appearance and dialogue. The actors playing the Knights also do an extremely poor job. It’s just too bad for me to ignore.


  7. [Note: Rick posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    Fair defence, but we shall remain at odds over this ep. The fun thing about any debate is that no one has to agree, “except in this case when I’m clearly right and you are clearly wrong.” JK. cheers


  8. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 20, 2007.]

    I appreciate your reasons for disliking it, Mike, but I do think that it was completely in character for Buffy to come to that conclusion when panicking, as it was, although illogical, not an unreasonable mistake to make. Let’s take a look at the evidence:

    Firstly, as Rick has said:

    They are going to the middle of nowhere and will be gone for who knows how long. Something that can store supplies, house them, shelter them, feed them, and get them where they want to go seems not in the least retarded, but in fact necessary. It may be slow, but the assumption is: How the hell would glory know what vehicle they’re in anyway?

    That’s exactly the type of reasoning that went through my mind when I first saw the Winnebago. At first, I didn’t consider that she’d made a mistake, but that it was essential for certain aspects of the journey. Then I saw how slow and useless it was, but my first thought wasn’t “how stupid a mistake that was”, it was “how understandable a mistake that is”, because that’s exactly the type of mistake I’d expect Buffy to make when organising practicalities like how to transport lots of people, food, clothes, weapons, food, and a vampire. I didn’t think of it as contrived because Buffy, regardless of her many good attributes, isn’t flawless when it comes to the more reality-based practical issues, and that’s why Giles tends to organise such things when he can. Hence why his groan when he sees what she’s arranged, and his complaints about the Winnebago, seem completely in character, because it isn’t the first time he’s noticed Buffy’s faults in this practical area of life.

    I also think the fact that Spike would be far more compromised in a car was part of the contribution towards Buffy’s decision. He’s got a better chance of protecting Dawn in a Winnebago than in a car.


  9. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 26, 2007.]

    Hey, anybody want a new and improved reason for hating the Knights of Byzantium? Check this out.

    They say they’ve “given their lives” to making sure that “The Beast” never gets her hands on “The Key.” Okay, how long is that exactly? The Key is Dawn, as of a few months ago. Before that, the monks were hiding The Key, which is supposed to be “wicked old.” The Knights are very clear – The Key is the link (to The Beast), the link must be severed, such is the will of God. Obviously The Key by itself is no problem to anybody without The Beast, it’s only when it became “the link” that it had to be destroyed. So there was no point at all to the Knights of Byzantium, no reason for them to exist as such, until The Beast entered our world.

    Now The Beast is Glory, who entered our world when she got kicked out of her hell dimension by the other two Hellgods, who joined her with a human baby boy (Ben) to live out the natural span of his life and then die. So Glory entered our world when Ben was born. How old is Ben? Late twenties, perhaps? He’s a medical student, not a doctor. So let’s say he was born in 1973.

    Yeah, remember 1973, how everybody rode horses because cars hadn’t been invented yet, and how all the cool knights wore chainmail and carried swords? Me neither! There wasn’t even such a place as Byzantium in 1973!

    I’ll buy the monks, because it’s at least possible that The Key itself has been in our world since the Middle Ages or earlier. But it wasn’t “the link” to anything until the 1970s at the earliest. What, did the Knights of Byzantium have a prophecy that The Beast would brass off her posse and get booted to Earth a thousand years or so in advance? And if so, what have they been doing all that time? Sharpening their swords?

    Apparently the writers got so caught up in Glory and The Key being ancient that they forgot how little time Glory had actually been in this world. And it doesn’t matter how old she was by that time, the Knights of Byzantium are human and couldn’t have forayed into her Hell dimension. Besides, Glory had no use for The Key until she got the boot and woke up inside baby Ben’s body, which is exactly the same moment that The Key became “the link.”


  10. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 26, 2007.]

    Two other things. First, I think Ben answered Buffy’s call because he intended to kill Dawn and stop Glory that way. This is based on his earlier conversation with Gronx, the female minion. Ben lost his nerve sometime after he got to the site and decided to do what he could to help instead. This gutlessness is Ben’s fatal flaw. Obviously the way for him to stop Glory would have been to kill *himself*, but that’s exactly the outcome he wasn’t willing to accept. A great guy, that Ben, right up until the moment when being a great guy might actually cost him something.

    Second, I think the biggest hole in the Glory/Key arc is that Buffy didn’t start playing keep-away with Dawn much sooner. They should have left Sunnydale and started bouncing around the country right after No Place Like Home. But she didn’t want to tell Dawn the truth (nobody thought of telling Dawn that the monks had put The Key *in* her rather than telling her that she *was* The Key), and then her mother’s illness tied Buffy to Sunnydale. And Buffy and Giles didn’t know for sure that they could win by simply playing out the clock until much later. Still, after Checkpoint if not earlier, it was clear that running away was the only feasible option. The winnebago of fools was just too little, too late.


  11. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on July 26, 2007.]

    Oh, I just remembered a great BTVS quote to dump on the Knights of Byzantium some more. Mr. Trick, in Bad Girls: “It’s called a Uzi, chump! Woulda saved ya ass right about now!”


  12. [Note: BreakAtmo posted this comment on November 26, 2007.]

    I disagree regarding the Winnebago – 2 cars would not function as shelter, or storage, and the Winnebago also conceals their identities on the road. And yes, Spike couldn’t have come if they used cars.

    It’s true that the Knights couldn’t have started their Key-hunting thing until Ben was born, but there’s one thing. Did they ever say that destroying the Key was their sole purpose? Maybe they’ve been doing different things for their centuries of existence, and when Glory was banished to Earth, they shifted all their attention there due to the importance. This is a mere guess, but I thought it should be considered.


  13. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 28, 2007.]

    I have mixed feelings about this too. I don´t mind the winnebago and I love the fight on the roof. But I just can´t think as plausible the Knights, the whole army in Sunnydale chasing them. Doesn´t work for me. But what I loved the most was how depressed and cynical Buffy is. Everything happens to her and everybody expects her to do everything. of course she´s gonna snap and be all cranky and scared.


  14. [Note: Bill posted this comment on February 17, 2008.]

    This ep was bad on a lot of levels, and the good can’t overcome that. The Knights were laughable, and then the episode has to go out of its way to do things differently to accommodate the Knights. Hey, let’s take off into the desert so that we won’t be in a crowded area and then we can actually film a scene where the horses chase the Winnebago. That was so contrived, as was the majority of this episode.


  15. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on February 29, 2008.]

    There are a lot of plot issues with this episode, but the largest complaint I have is one that is only briefly mentioned by Rick above: Buffy killed a human (or more?)! This should be a huge thing. I can understand them justifying it to themselves, but at least it should have been addressed.

    Or should we assume that the knight who got the axe in his chest survived? And what about the Knight’s second in rank telling Buffy that ten of his men died? Did Buffy kill all of them, or did Giles ran over them with the Winnebago? The only comment in the show that’s slightly related to this is Xander saying that ‘this is war’. Was that meant, apart from the whole ‘there are rules in war’ issue, as a justification for all the killing? There was a time on the show when killing humans was a big deal and I think disregarding it completely here is the major flaw of this episode. Much more serious then any plot contrivances.

    What bothered me plot wise was Ben showing up there. He knows he can turn into Glory at any moment and he knows Dawn’s the Key, so we risk bringing Glory to Dawn? The explanations some give above do make some sense, but for me still doesn’t settle the issue. Perhaps his drive to help a dying Giles was greater at the moment? (Just trying to convince myself here that there’s a good reason).

    Re LibMax: you make a good point, although it’s probably not too hard to think up an explanation for why the Knights have been around for so long (btw, I think Glory mentions in one of the final episodes that her human body is 25). I don’t get one thing you say though: “I’ll buy the monks, because it’s at least possible that The Key itself has been in our world since the Middle Ages or earlier.” There are still monks in the world today, as were there in 1973, so why does the Key need to be around since the Middle Ages to be kept by monks?


  16. [Note: jun posted this comment on March 10, 2008.]

    I agree that the choice of the winnebago was an in-character response for Buffy. Consider her idea of “everyone is going to make it” and her reaction to having lost so many people already. Doesn’t it make sense she’d want everyone all together, where she could see them, no matter how impractical the method of conveyance?


  17. [Note: Bill posted this comment on July 26, 2008.]

    No, not at all. It was a simple contrivance to make sure that they could get the Knights out their on horses. It is completely illogical and makes no sense whatsoever other than to allow the Knights room to operate on their horses. The story should never have to be stretched like to allow for a prop, rather the prop should work within the story, and in this episode the prop, and by extension, the Knights, failed miserably.


  18. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on July 27, 2008.]

    okay im gonna do a dictionary rather than a long winded comment:

    knights of byzanthium: one sided army to destroy key, pure plot contrivance which is actually good as it would be WAY to complex if they were more. however the shouldnt have been SO hyped over destroying the key as it makes them seem extremely incompetent (or buffy unrealisticly powerful)

    ben: a slightly unstable man from his circumstances who would want to help buffy through his nature despite the chance of glory coming out (plus this could be an excuse to kill dawn as a hidden agenda)

    winnebego: easy for one to get there hands on, easily shelters the scoobies so as not to add even more stress from being packed in, holds necessities for a long road trip.

    spiral: an episode which i first saw when i was about 7 (my older sister watched it but i didnt understand a bit of it) which showed the show as mature, action filled and surprisingly intimidating (you couldnt grasp it in a second) which seemed a pretty suitable pinnacle of the series to me.

    well would you look at that, it IS a long winded comment. oh well!


  19. [Note: Sean posted this comment on September 18, 2008.]

    How come no one mentions the fact that Tough Love takes place hours before they leave in the Winnebago and Spike is a bruised up mess and in Spiral he’s all but healed? Yet Tough Love takes place a couple of days after Intervention? It’s a nitpick.


  20. [Note: Paula posted this comment on September 18, 2008.]

    Sean, I’m not sure if there’s a (big) problem there. Vampires heal quick, Spike is a whole lot better in Tough Love already than he was at the end of Intervention, and didn’t more than 12 hours pass between the scene where Spike is underground with Buffy and Dawn and when we next see him in the Winnebago? Unless I’m mistaken, Tara stayed overnight in the hospital in between.

    Sure they might have shown some sign of recent injuries on him still, but I don’t think his being pretty much healed as they all leave town is much of a stretch.


  21. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on December 6, 2008.]

    Just adding my voice as another one who loves this episode (The really odd thing is that this and Triangle are my two favourite episodes in the season; and going from your rating they’re your two *least* favourite).
    I won’t say any more; pretty much all the remarks on one side or another have been made already.


  22. [Note: Black Moon Lilith posted this comment on June 1, 2009.]

    “Oh, I just remembered a great BTVS quote to dump on the Knights of Byzantium some more. Mr. Trick, in Bad Girls: “It’s called a Uzi, chump! Woulda saved ya ass right about now!””

    This is so true. It’s my biggest problem with the Knights. IMO the traditionalism clashes against the fantaticism. I mean think about it. Fundamentalists in the real world use bombs and the like. I just couldn’t buy that guys who wanted to kill Dawn THIS badly would put “not using technology” above saving the world! Think about it. If in this episode they had chased the Winnebago with a sports car, using machine guns and bazookas (Innocence-styled), *they would’ve killed the Key and succeeded in their mission!!!* It’s their anarchnistic values that put me off, since we’re given no reason why they don’t use our world’s benefits, even in the face of killing “the Beast.”


  23. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 2, 2009.]

    All I have to say is that I’m gonna go with Mike and LibMax here: most of this stuff makes no sense. The only thing I would *maybe* understand is the winnebago- it makes sense that Buffy panics and she’s not very experienced in handling practical matters, etc, etc. But the Knights- everything about them in this episode- they’re plain stupid. And inconsistent. It always bothers me that they just happen to be able to know exactly where Buffy is going and in what car she’s driving.

    It annoys me, but I still like the episode. Funny stuff.


  24. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 12, 2009.]

    As Willow’s (apparently only) resident cheerleader, I’m going to take a different tack in my comments: Did anyone else notice how much Buffy kept calling on Willow for? “Willow raise a wall” “Willow take care of Giles” “Willow open a door” “Willow make the phone work” “Willow bring the wall down” All this and poor Willow is trying to take care of brain-sucked Tara at the same time. Seems to me Willow had reason enough to snap a little herself, but instead she sucked it up and perservered. Granted, she hasn’t had as much piled on her plate as Buffy, but she hasn’t exactly been having a picnic, either.

    Oh, as for the means of transportation, so cars may be out, but how about a couple of decent trucks with camper shells? You’ve got the means to protect Spike from sunlight, carry supplies, and have a little speed to outrun things.


  25. [Note: Emma posted this comment on July 27, 2009.]

    My idea for the Knights’ timing: the Key’s been around a long time. The monks wanted to protect it, use it, the Knights just wanted it gone. I don’t think anyone ever said the Key was the link to Glory, just that it was “the link”. I just think of it as the link to other dimensions. *shrug*


  26. [Note: AD posted this comment on July 31, 2009.]

    The fact that the knights somehow knew exactly what the Scoobies were driving and managed to catch up with it was annoying enough, but how the hell did the guy with the spear get 20 miles further up the road than everyone else to attack the van from the front and spear Giles?! That was one step too far for me…


  27. [Note: KatieJ posted this comment on October 14, 2009.]

    I’m not a fan of this episode. For all the reasons mentioned- the knights’ huge numbers, amazing intuition and general hokiness- the drive to the desert seemed unending and just odd. The action and all the Spike lines, notwithstanding, are really entertaining, and my favorite part was the girl-version of Glory’s jawas ogling Ben. Ha!


  28. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on November 22, 2009.]

    I agree on your thoughts on this episode. A part I really liked was the Buffy and Dawn part in the back, especially the look Buffy gives just after looking back after seeing the Knights chasing them. And the Xander and Spike interaction which was just so funny.


  29. [Note: Feiro posted this comment on November 30, 2009.]

    I’m surprised this episode scored so poorly. Sure it was a little over the top, and the army of knights seemed to gather overnight. Lame pun aside, it really makes up for it with the action. The gang being chased while in a moving vehicle as Buffy battles on the top ?? Thats movie-scale action my friend !! Granted Buffy doesn’t have a movie-scale budget, but it definitely got the job done and made for great TV. It didn’t end there either, I enjoyed the siege and the major cliffhanger at the end. Plot -wise nothing too special, but action wise this is one the best in the buffy series imo. Though I didn’t agree with this review I enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next !


  30. [Note: Beth posted this comment on May 22, 2010.]

    Oh my gosh, all these comments are cracking me up. Especially AD’s comment about the knight with the spear – classic! Yah, I know we have to suspend our disbelief watching this show (demons walking around, trolls tearing up the town, a huge government complex built under the university) but I agree that this was over the top. I do think the winnebago was practical in theory, if not in application. But the Knights on their horses – complete preposterousness. But it gave us a great scene with the fight on the roof. And somebody mentioned above that Buffy did kill a human, which jars me when I see it – she’s always been completely averse to that and yet doesn’t seem to react. Anyway, not my favorite episode by a long shot, but it is entertaining and has some good character moments, as mentioned.


  31. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 27, 2010.]

    I didn’t have a problem with everybody being crammed into Spike’s car. Buffy couldn’t go get somebody else’s without risking being found by Glory, and stealing a car would have risked putting the police on their tail as well. I didn’t see much choice.

    The thing that bugged me was Ben coming to save Giles. Ben has been trying to keep the key away from Glory, so why would he risk being so near it knowing that Glory was going to enter his body?

    And I kind of like the knights. Loved the horseback chase, too. Really good episode. Far better than a B- in my book.


  32. [Note: ExAequali posted this comment on July 13, 2010.]

    I’d say a B- is, if anything, too good for this episode. Think about the fact that, as Plain Simple points out, Buffy is apparently killing humans without a second thought. That’s a betrayal of the entire S3 arc that began with “Bad Girls”.


  33. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 13, 2010.]

    Not true at all ExAequali. Buffy killed in this episode while under direct attack and with absolutely no other option to protect her own life and those of her friends and allies. You’re equating killing in self-defense to murder, and there’s a huge distinction between the two.


  34. [Note: ExAequali posted this comment on July 13, 2010.]

    Mike: True, but remember that Faith also believed she was acting in self-defense. In fact, if we believe Faith, killing a human being was a complete accident – yet she felt tremendous guilt about it. Buffy doesn’t seem to feel anything.

    I don’t think this was a deliberate decision, just a huge oversight, and one that reflects poorly on this episode. In the very next episode, by having Giles kill Ben, Joss makes it clear that Buffy will not kill a human being, even at risk to herself and others.


  35. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 13, 2010.]

    ExAequali: You’re making connections here that, to me, don’t connect.

    What someone believes and what is the truth can often be two separate things. Faith murdered people that were in no way threatening her life. In the Deputy Mayor’s case it was an accident, for sure, but the guilt that is there quickly gets buried far away right as she hooks up with the Mayor and murdered some more.

    The Knights are an entirely different situation and were quite clearly trying to kill Buffy and her friends — they were the aggressors and she was defending herself in the only way she could. Why should Buffy feel remorse about protecting her and her friends’ lives? This isn’t an oversight at all. This issue has no bearing on the problems that “Spiral” has, at least not to me.

    In “The Gift,” although Ben decided to go along with Glory in the end to save his own ass, Buffy didn’t know this. And besides, he was not any threat to Buffy by himself. Glory was. That’s why Buffy couldn’t kill him as he lied helpless on the ground even if it meant taking out Glory with him.


  36. [Note: Elbie posted this comment on July 22, 2010.]

    Okay – I love this episode and I hate when things get pointed out which would diminish such love. So, I’m going to explain everything by reaching ridiculously into the absolutely-unexplainable atmosphere:

    Winnebago: as many people have already said – totally makes sense. For everyone to be together under one (sort of) roof is very important to Buffy. For the comfort of an indefinite trip as well as morale for all involved, they needed to be with each other.

    Knights of Byzantium: I’m gonna go waaaay out on a limb here and say that the Knights are not from Buffy’s dimension. The key belongs to Glory (as Glory mentioned in No Place Like Home) perhaps she’s used it before to travel to different dimensions and maybe- JUST maybe – the Knights’ dimension was one that she destroyed. Since then, they’ve devoted their entire existence to seek out and destroy the key. And they’ve found a way to travel to different dimensions via your run-of-the-mill portals. Which might be why it took them so long to get to Buffy’s.

    Knights on horses: Sunnydale residents reject a lot of weird things. With all the weird supernatural stuff that happens in a hellmouth town, why would people scratch their heads over knights on horses? Plus, when Orlando meets back up with the rest of them, they’re in some foresty place where they can likely keep their horses out of sight. Their first attack on Buffy lacked horses – they probably only use them on the open road.

    Knights finding Buffy: “One soldier in a vast army.” They split up all over town and on the outskirts to find Buffy and her crew. That, or their foresty getaway was just off the path (coincidence?). It could also explain why spear guy got to the front so quickly.

    Buffy killing human-knights: I understand how one might feel like this should have been addressed at some point on this series, I really feel like if they brought it up at this time, it would have been completely out of place. Buffy doesn’t kill humans as a rule, but with the shitstorm going on, I feel like that if I had been Buffy and someone brought it up, I would punch them. And if I were one of the gang and Buffy started feeling all guilty, I would slap her across the face (and then run away) for taking even a second of her focus away from the situation at hand. However, the fact that she coldly killed a human could be another one of the indications of Buffy losing what Buffy once was. One by one, the things that make her strong have been peeling away and this might be the second-last straw. Maybe part of her catatonic state in Weight of the World was due to the guilt that she killed humans AND lost Dawn (and her mom, and Riley, and Tara’s sanity, and her college dreams… am I missing something?).

    Ben coming to help: Ben has always known that Glory could show up at any time. He’s lived with this his whole life. And, with Glory’s strength (and her love for torture, death, and chaos), his being ANYWHERE is a risk to others. Last episode, Ben was royally pissed off in finding out that Glory screwed him on his job. He just wants control of his own life and control is doing what Ben wants. And Ben wants to save Giles to impress Buffy. Or maybe he was thinking of killing Dawn.

    And of course one cheers when the bad-guys die! Even if they’re bad guys killed by badder guys…

    In the end, I guess this episode would have been better if the writers had explained this stuff and not some weirdo fan making speculations based on NO proof. But I love BtVS and I love this episode each time I watch it. And love makes you do the wacky.


  37. [Note: yippers6 posted this comment on October 9, 2010.]

    i love spike trying to get willow to use the spell to make things alive on his door so it will stop squeaking


  38. [Note: Fb posted this comment on November 20, 2010.]

    I also go with the Knights being from another dimension and using portals to access the main Buffy dimension. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

    They’ve been fighting demons in some low tech dimension, and now their cleric guys told them Glory was going to destroy the universe with the key, so they started coming through looking for it. The reason they have horses in that first scene is because they just gated them in, and they find the Winnebago because one of the cleric guys locates it with magic and then opens several portals nearby.


  39. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on November 30, 2010.]

    On the whole I’m with the defenders of this episode, but I also agree with Mike that there’s a lot of missed potential here.

    Going by the comments, all this episode needs to fix the plot-holes and hokeyness is two, three bits of expositionary dialogue:

    Giles: “We will head to the mystic desert place I took Buffy back in “Intervention.” It is sacred to the Slayer line and Glory will not be able to find us here, no matter what magic she uses or what creatures she summons. If we camp a week or two there, her window of opportunity will pass and we will be safe.”

    – Fixes the winnabago weirdness, fixes the dirt road difficulties.

    Gregor: “We followed Glorificus across the dimensions, and we will not stop now! Even should you escape us you will find us on your path again, for our god guides us to where we need to be.”

    Done. Plot makes sense now.

    I’m pretending these lines of dialogue were here. Really! Didn’t you hear them? They were right after the credits. Maybe my DVDs are just better than yours.

    As for the rest of the episode, I really love the group dynamic in this one. It’s dark, it’s strained. Terrible things happen. But everyone is trying. You see shades of season 7 General Buffy. You see the season 6 depression creeping up and grabbing hold of her. But it’s not there yet, she’s not there yet, she’s still the Buffy I like best. (I have great sympathy for her season 6 and 7 incarnations, but I do not like her nearly as much as I do season 5 Buffy. Excepting early season 7 Buffy who is given a breather and becomes more vivacious again.)

    This is also witchy Willow at her best, powerful but not yet consumed by it, not yet fully blinded by her conviction she is working for the greater good. Xander actually is sympathetic. Dawn is mature and helpful. Anya is still Anya, but even she shows glimmers of depth in between the joking. Giles is loving and affectionate.

    (On reflection, I think he should have died here for the sake of his arc, except that only fully culminates with killing Ben. Season 6 and 7 do a lot to cheapen his character, unfortunately. Mostly because ASH wanted to become a recurring character instead of a regular, but still.)

    This is also the Spike I like best of all: still evil, still snarking, still not getting it, but trying hard to help anyway, part of the group, interacting and working with them all rather than just one or two here and there.

    All that said, and for all that I love this episode, if I ever decided to write fan-fiction I would write a piece where instead of calling Ben Buffy dials 911 and a SWAT team moves in on the knights as the paramedics help Giles.


  40. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on December 29, 2010.]

    I agree with Mike’s — and pretty much everyone else’s — criticisms of the plot, but the character interactions that Iguana describes tips the scales in this episode’s favor for me. The fun battle sequence doesn’t hurt.

    Mike, you describe your feelings on “Spiral” as a “mixed bag”, and that’s actually exactly the phrase I’d use for the next episode — “The Weight of the World.” LOVE the Buffy/Willow mindwalk. BORED TO TEARS by the Ben/Glory back-and-forth.


  41. [Note: John posted this comment on January 7, 2011.]

    I have to say I was very surprised that the merging spell was not proposed again, especially given how much more powerful Willow is now. On the other hand, I suppose it makes sense that it might not work due to the time constraints behind the spell.


  42. [Note: Niko posted this comment on January 24, 2011.]

    Ok, this has been bugging me….am I missing something? Didn’t Dawn witness Ben turn into Glory? I’m pretty sure no spell was cast to make her forget this, how did she fail to mention this this whole time? Especially when he shows up at their hideout? Please clarify this, because either I’m definitely missing a key element or this is a huge plothole


  43. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on January 25, 2011.]

    Niko, the magic that kept Ben and Glory as one being also made any person who saw them change forget about it. There was no need for spell-casting afterward, it happened automatically. When you think about how often they must have changed in front of other people, it’s a pretty good little rule to throw in there.


  44. [Note: Niko posted this comment on January 28, 2011.]

    Yeah, epic bad by me on that one lol. I hadn’t remembered that from the first viewing and hadn’t gotten around to the next episode yet. Thanks for the clarification =) And yes, a very convenient spell lol


  45. [Note: Leo posted this comment on April 19, 2011.]

    “At this point I don’t even think I need to mention how utterly one-dimensional this group is”.

    Fanatics usualy are.

    I don´t think they are old fasion. They most likely come from a low tech paralel universe.

    The winnebago, not a bad idea. (How was Buffy suposed to know the knights would find them so soon?)


  46. [Note: salmon_lox posted this comment on October 28, 2011.]

    Iguana, the biggest problem with that exposition, about going to the sacred spot in the desert, is that it now strips a lot of the tension away from the episode. One of the key components here, what makes things so bleak and Buffy so scared and helpless, is that she has NO IDEA where they’re going. She just knows they have to keep moving. That’s what makes the gas station scenes so tense. Buffy wants them to keep moving, but she has no destination in mind. No endgame. Absolutely no way to defeat Glory and no sanctuary from her. That’s despair, and that’s one of the few things this episode really did right.


  47. [Note: Ana T. posted this comment on July 28, 2012.]

    This is the way I see it, the story of the Knights of Whatever and how it ties in with Glory/Ben and the Key:

    Ben was born let’s say for all intents and purposes, 1973. He was born with the essence of Glory in his body.(I know he’s 25 but Idk when season 5 came out. It’s 2012 now that I’m watching it). Glory didn’t start becoming more powerful and taking over Ben’s body for more periods of time until she found the monks that she killed in the episode she’s introduced– I think it’s called No Place Like Home. The key was was then sent to Buffy in human form, which was when Dawn came on to the scene. It said that the scene with the monks had happened two months ago, so one can only speculate that Glory’s power has been growing since then. You see the key always existed on earth, only Glory really didn’t have that much power until Ben was older. I’m also assuming that her minions have always been lurking around waiting for their Oh Shiny Glorifiucs to surface and bathe them in her divine light.

    I’m also assuming that since time goes by differently in other dimensions, even though it’s been 25 Earth years since Glory was booted, in her hell dimension it could’ve been thousands of years ago.

    As for the Knights, they’ve been around for centuries, obviously. They received a prophecy (maybe??) that The Beast will not be contained for much long in her human vessel and that one day soon she’ll return. So naturally they spent their entire lives training, dying and waiting for the one day that they’ll be useful. That would explain why there’s waves and waves of multitude of them. They had nothing better to do.

    I thought they were mystical humanoids, but apparently not.

    Once they got a signal that Glory had emerged on Earth, they knew they had to find the key and destroy the link in order to destroy The Beast.

    So what I’m trying to place now is a timeline:

    The scene with the monks was 2 months ago, which means that from the first episode of Season 5 to No Place Like Home it’s been 2 months, and from that episode to the episode Dawn finds out she is a key in Blood Ties it’s been 4 months, since Dawn has only come to existence in human form for 6 months.

    So Glory has spent 6 months looking for the key, while trying to regain full access to all her powers.

    The Kinights were first shown in checkpoint, but I’m assuming hey have been there just as long as when Glory first started showing signs of showing…

    To put an end to this, I still confused.

    No matter how much I try wrapping my head around the whole story behind Glory, I can’t because I realized I don’t have to. That’s what made season 5 so good. I loved Season 5 because I loved how complex Glory’s character was. In my opinion she was the best big bad especially following after season 4 debacle of a big bad, Adam sucked.


  48. [Note: QUEEG123 posted this comment on August 28, 2012.]

    Very harsh to pick up on it I know but always laugh when Buffy carries Dawn and its clearly a man in a wig carry MT


  49. [Note: Great Whazoo posted this comment on November 13, 2012.]

    I just scooted down with my comment, so I apologize if I’m repeating something. I thought that the Knights broke Orlando out of the hospital due to his ability to identify the key. This leads to a weak premise that allows them to locate the Winnibago. The rooftop fight is one of the few times I spot her double doing the last round house kick before splicing SMG back. Not as bad as in “Dracula”, but one obvious edit.


  50. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 6, 2013.]

    Ok, a good episode for the main characters with a cheap plot. Now, I’m glad I read some of the comments who try to make sense of those Knights.

    What’s always bothered me in the Vampire lore is their link to catholicism exclusively (holy water, priests, crosses). I can forgive it when it was written long ago, but not today.

    So, you’re a buddhist, an atheist, a islamist or whatever else you can be, you become a vampire and suddenly the instruments of the catholic god hurt you ? At first, I interpreted those Knights as such and it bothered me, a lot ! I enjoy the explanation about another dimension, thank you soooo much :). Because in addition to the christian god, I hated the fact that they remained in the middle-age. I could forgive the swords – symbols – but not the horses, the “cotte-de-mailles”, the maces and the axes. I understand they’re supposed to be fanatics, but they fight evil and they’re willing to kill The Slayer ?!!!

    Also, Buffy killed humans, but here she’s fighting for dawn’s life and hers, it’s pure self-defense. As someone highlighted, it’s war: any death is a tragedy, but it’s not cold blooded murder, you do what you must to survive (and when Xander mentions it, it’s about the tacit treaty/truce about injured ones).

    I can accept the winnebago, because Buffy’s decisions are rushed, she can’t think straight and she’s panicking.

    I liked the little bits about Spike: he actually tries to comfort Tara after the “peekaboo with sunshine”, he doesn’t hold back anything while helping and finally Xander acknowledges it without words, just by lighting his cigarette. At this point and for the finale, he truly cares for the group.
    I also enjoyed Buffy’s speech to the general and even if she’s pissed, she treats him like a human being. She very calmly explain: we are not your enemy and I also liked the answer “the key is too dangerous to be allowed to exist, no matter the form”.

    Willow is the true hero of this episode and the next: without her, everyone would have died. She is the big gun in a very good way.


  51. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on January 25, 2014.]

    You know, Ben risks his life to save Giles in this episode – only to be killed by Giles in The Gift.


  52. [Note: Shimmer posted this comment on February 13, 2014.]

    There’s an even bigger plot hole in this episode, which is that Dawn should already know that Ben and Glory share a body, since she was present in the hospital in an earlier episode when Glory emerged suddenly. The moment she saw Ben arrive to help Giles, she would have raised a serious alarm about him, but she seems to have forgotten the earlier incident entirely.


  53. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 13, 2014.]

    That’s not a plot hole, because everyone who sees Ben metamorphose into Glory forgets the moment after.


  54. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 14, 2014.]

    Actually, it was addressed in “Blood Ties” (5×13) as well, where Dawn forgets having witnesses the transformation and says that Ben must have left before Glory appeared


  55. [Note: DRMProd posted this comment on April 6, 2014.]

    For me the worst thing about this episode is this: How on earth did the knights know where the caravan was? This question wasn’t answered and it really really bugged me.


  56. [Note: QuarkisSnyder posted this comment on September 1, 2014.]

    This is my least favorite episode of the entire series. So much about it is just . . . stupid.

    I agree with the comments above about the lack of acknowledgement that for the first and only time Buffy kills a human.

    Also, the mythology makes no sense. If the key makes all the dimensions mush together, how will it get Glory back to her dimension, or why would she want to go there when it will be permeable with all the other dimensions? If Glory and the key are both so powerful, why will killing their human vessels kill them? Why will the key stop opening anything (as Dawn says in a future episode) after Glory is dead — doesn’t the key exist independently of her?


  57. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on September 1, 2014.]

    Regarding your question about why killing the human vessels would kill Glory and destroy the key, Glory and Ben were connected for one. Had Ben died, Glory would have lost her carrier. Her ship would have sunk, and she would have drowned, so to speak. Plus, it was made clear that being in human form severely limited her powers, so she wasn’t as powerful as she used to be. I don’t understand where your confusion comes from regarding this case. Ben and Glory were connected. What more do you need? As for Dawn and the key, well, the key composes Dawn’s (and Buffy’s) blood. Once the blood stops, the portal closes, answering another one of your questions:

    GILES The Key was living energy. It needed
    to be channeled, poured into a specific
    spot at a specific time. With all attendant
    ritual, of course. The energy would flow
    into that spot, the walls between the
    dimensions break down. It stops — the
    energy is used up -and the walls come back
    up. Glory uses that time to get back to her
    dimension, not caring that all manner of hell
    will be unleashed on Earth in the meantime.

    ANYA But only for a little while, right?
    The walls come back, no more hell?

    WILLOW But that’s only if the energy is stopped.
    And now that the Key is human … is Dawn …

    GILES “The blood flows, the gates will open.
    The gates will close when it flows no
    more.” When Dawn is dead.

    The key is the thing that opens and closes the portal. Dawn opened it, and then Buffy, having the “same” blood as Dawn, closed it. She died. Her blood stopped flowing, and the portal closed. Once Buffy died all gateways closed. This is the reason there were no demons fleeing about after they defeated Glory.


  58. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on September 12, 2014.]

    I like this one. I joked once with a friend that if you don’t use your neurons of plot logic while watching it, “Spiral” is a terrific episode. But really, it is. It’s a terrific episode combined with a very dumb one. I was reading through a few comments and since all of the issues with this episode are addressed; I won’t be adding on. However, I would like to say that it’s a little silly for some people to call this episode ‘over-the-top’ and downright ‘stupid’. Don’t get me wrong, this episode was both of those things, but you have to keep in mind that Buffy itself was an over-the-top show. In a show containing episodes such as, “Triangle”, “Go Fish” and “Bad Eggs” this is certainly not the worst it has to offer when it comes to stupidity. Must one suspend their belief and logic a little bit when they watch “Spiral”? Yes. But I can still appreciate this one because it still had a lot of substance. Good character interactions, neat comedy and some entertaining, if not sensible, action. This is why I don’t take these plot holes as seriously as some of you do, it’s an old fictional television show about the supernatural. It’s bound to have some implausible stuff crammed in there, I try not to let these things affect my enjoyment of the show.

    Having said that, there were a few things I disliked. only Spike can help against Glory? Hey, I’m all for Buffy appreciating Spike, but isn’t Willow holding up a huge part of the Slayer defense right now? Secondly, those knights probably knew that Buffy was the Slayer, if they were really one of the good guys; they wouldn’t dare kill her.

    Now with the good bits. The female leprous hobbit was awesome, and I enjoyed her flirting with Ben. I LOVE Glory’s master plan. I never understood Angel’s reasons for wanting to send the earth to hell, or why the Mayor wanted to become a big snake. Both stories were great because of their masterful execution. In any case, Glory’s motive is totally believable and a great break from “I’m evil doing because I’m evil”. She could care less with what happens to Earth. In fact, her backstory is very interesting and if she weren’t the villain I’d be rooting for her to succeed. That entire scene in which the general explains to Buffy and Dawn “The Mythology of Season Five” is very good. I liked everyone working together, for once. Xander and Spike bonding was hilarious and heartwarming at the same time, I’m still a little upset that a ‘brewing bromance’ was never really explored when it comes to the two of them. Giles was spectacular and I remember that I almost shed a tear the first time because I thought that Giles was going to die, his sympathetic words to Buffy were genuine and heartfelt. That said, like someone above me mentioned, it may have been better to have killed Giles off here, I LOVE Giles, I really do, but they screwed up his character in Season 7. I also liked all of Buffy’s conversations with Dawn. All in all, a good yet forgettable episode when it comes down to it. It’s just a disappointment because I had come to expect better of BtVS come Season 5 since it is, thematically, one of the best seasons of the show.


  59. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on September 12, 2014.]

    Good comment, Lydia. I very much agree on the general attitude in regards to Spiral. Also on Glory’s motivation.

    One quibble, though. Why wouldn’t the knights be willing to kill Buffy? Slayer or no, the knights are trying to prevent the end of the world. Kill one slayer, the next appears. (Except the line now goes through Faith, but the knights don’t know that.) From their perspective, Buffy would be an acceptable casualty. Greater good, end justifies the means and all that raz.

    I hate to say it, but if I was commander Gregor I’d probably be doing the exact same thing he does here. Except I’d have armed the knights with uzis.


  60. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on October 5, 2014.]

    The key was dangerous in and of itself. The Knights had always sought its destruction because of its potential for evil. The monks disagreed and felt it had potential for good. They were able to protect it against everyone until Glory arrived. The Knights became aware of Glorys actions and followed her to Sunnydale. Like the monks they had access to magic, which explains why they could track Glory and Buffy. They found her in the alley after all.

    The Winnebago makes sense given that Buffy’s primary concern was getting everyone out of town together. And guns are never particularly useful in Sunnydale….


  61. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 16, 2014.]

    Watching this episode again, I noticed you can see one of the cameramen in the corner of the screen as the camera pans out to see all the knights at 11:08, haha.


  62. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on December 1, 2014.]

    That was what they came up with to get the gang to the service station? For Giles to have a fatal injury and then be fine in a few hours? A more plausible way would be for them to outrun the Knights and then run out of petrol or have a tyre burst from the fight and they have to take shelter in the service station. Then before the barrier is up Giles gets injured enough for Buffy to call Ben.

    And the Glory speed run. C’mon, really. Plus this is the third time that someone has been in the middle of a road for ages and the oncoming driver just keeps driving for them. (Witch, Wild at Heart, Spiral)

    Redeeming qualities are the Ben and Dawn scenes and finding out what Dawn is for.


  63. [Note: Agamemnon posted this comment on February 22, 2015.]

    Thank you, finally someone gets it. “The key is the link, the link must be severed, such is the will of God.” What do the knights mean by this? The key links all the dimensions together, and is basically an apocalypse in a bottle. The knights have been trying to destroy it for centuries because of this danger. Glory appearing and wanting to use it is the fulfillment of everything they’ve feared for all that time. The argument between the knights and the monks is the same as the argument at the council of Elrond, should the source of great power be destroyed to protect the world, or harnessed for good? Of course their methods are a bit silly, no argument on that, but their goal was laudable before the monks made the key human, and the big conflict of this season would never have happened if they had succeeded before Glory ever came to this dimension.

    As to the Winnebago, Buffy may be thinking a bit further than most of us. What is the situation she’s facing here? Glory knows exactly who they are, where they live, etc., and now she knows Dawn is the key. If she can find any of them again, they’re probably dead. I think Buffy’s plan here was to never return to Sunnydale, and go into hiding, possibly staying on the road to be harder to find. For that purpose, an RV is a hell of a lot better than piling into a couple of cars. Okay, somehow she got one that horses could keep up with, that’s a flawed execution of the plan, but the idea to get an RV was sound.


  64. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on August 14, 2015.]

    At least one cool thing about this episode in retrospect is that Wade Williams from Prison Break is in this. That makes the total number of PB actors in Buffy 2 I believe.


  65. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on August 14, 2015.]

    Wentworth Miller played Gage Petruchio, didn’t he? Finally, a reason to rewatch “Go Fi

    I’m not going to finish that sentence.


  66. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on August 18, 2015.]

    Must disagree with the negatives ‘bringing the episode down’ because they seem to exclusively revolve around the Knights. This is a cracking episode that has been unfairly scored, because the plot elements don’t hit it as much as the character ones for the reviewer.

    The Knights are as an early commenter put it, something that shows what happens when mystically-minded people don’t move with the times and Buffy usually shows those that do (even D’Hoffryn for example was very modern-speaking and affable). They have existed for centuries dedicated to destroying the Key. LibMax is unfortunately completely wrong about the Key – it’s existed for centuries. It didn’t pop into existence along with Glory, it’s just what she needs to accomplish her plan. I imagine a very long struggle between the monks and Knights as they tried to keep the Key hidden/find where it was. Only the appearance of Glory tipped things into change and meant the monks would eventually have to try something drastic to hide the Key before they were all slaughtered. Sure, they’re a bit weird, but a bunch of random guys in modern dress with swords would’ve been less spectacular and a bunch of random guys with guns turns Buffy into a very different show in terms of tone. BtVS/AtS were always careful to show guns in a negative light, with only very few characters (like Mr. Trick) advocating them. Despite Trick’s assertions about Uzis being better than swords, he still never actually resorts to getting and using one, does he?

    Their motivations being part of their ‘faith’ and believing it is God’s will they are carrying out is hardly far-fetched and is quite thematically relevant given modern religious fundamentalism. It is quite possible that the Knights are indeed a ‘hijacking’ of a previously more benevolent group. [As an aside, a similar approach was taken when writing the Monks and Knights up for the BtVS Role-playing game – the Monks and Knights were originally the same Order, but a divide arose when one group decided the Key was too dangerous for it to be allowed to exist and the other decided that it was too powerful a magical artefact to callously destroy and should be protected. This isn’t canonical info, but is useful to imagine that the entire issue could have arose from a single disagreement, much like splits in religions often arise from tiny differences.]

    Taking a Winnebago isn’t a bad decision and is NOT a plot contrivance. It’s logical – we need to transport eight people and we may be on the road for a while, we don’t want to risk being in a motel when Glory shows up, so we have to keep moving. Good luck sleeping EIGHT people in two normal-sized cars, ever tried it? Unfortunately the one they get is rubbish, but they had to find one at very short notice. I like to think Buffy asked Spike to find one, so he went and nicked the first one he saw (it is a Spike thing to do). He probably didn’t bother checking what the top speed of an old motor home was.


  67. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on November 30, 2015.]

    I liked the episode. It felt different from all the episodes on Buffy. And they clearly wanted to go for a road trip/Spaghetti Western episode. And for me it worked.


  68. [Note: Peter Luke posted this comment on November 30, 2015.]

    And I don’t agree on people pointing out that Buffy killed people, she killed them by self-defense. She would have killed Dawn and her if she didn’t killed them.


  69. [Note: NewSpock posted this comment on June 21, 2016.]

    This episode is often criticized because of the Knights of Byzantium: How could they hide their army in the park? How could they find the escaping Winnebego? How could they follow it with their horses?…

    But most of these can be explained with the use of the two powerful magicians they have in their ranks, they could have created spells to hide them, to give their horses “godspeed”…

    The question of finding the Winnebego could be differently explained: After having encoutered the slayer in the episode “Checkpoint”, they could have put Buffy under surveillance, waiting for their opportunity, which came when they finally received the information who the key is…


  70. [Note: Revenge Demon posted this comment on August 28, 2016.]

    The Winnebego rant is totally invalid!

    People already talked on how the Winnebego makes perfect sense and its no an out of character decision from buffy but i would like to add 2 more points… 1) buffy probably asked spike to get one and he had to either buy or steal one (no one had time and money to buy something better and last thing buffy needed was the police to stop them in the highway)2) Buffy only had glory on her mind and not the knights and their never seen horses before… even if they had 2 cars it wouldn’t make much difference to outspeed glory.

    The knights hokey – ness is understandable… Buffy’s biggest flaw was always the special effects ( and the low budget set ) which are a limitation due to time’s technology and budget…. a better solution would be if the knights were appearing out of thin air or from a mist or as someone said if teh priests were shown to use their mojo…

    I always cringe when they show the demons walking around in sunnydale without worries beIng day or night… ( they should have used the charmed solution to this were demons can appear and disappear…) or maybe a better use of the sewers and tunnels..

    Another cringe worthy thing thats due to low budget is how all the weapons have to be so shiny and glow!! i guess they use the cheapest materials but it just doesnt make sense for old weapons to feel like they were just taken from the factory!

    All in all i dont think the episode deserves an A cause the knights kinda bring it down with their hokey ness not being their only problem…


  71. [Note: gruenblatt posted this comment on October 7, 2016.]

    writing my first comment here after reading a bunch of your excellent reviews and comments. so a short thanks to all here.

    anyways. since nobody mentioned it: I really found it poignant and loved it that Spike defends Buffy but also says “Now might be a good time for something heroic” to her after her is injured.

    This is in very stark contrast to Riley. Spike is very much accepting of Buffy’s strength and status as the slayer. He is not patronizing nor overly admiring.

    He just knows and accepts without any thought about jealousy or status that she is (matter-of-factly) the slayer and her power is needed here. I think this is a small but very telling hint at how he sees her and of how simply accepting he is. For me this links itself to the 7×20 speech (“I see with perfect clarity what you are”).

    This scene hints very nicely at their relationship and shows how they deal with each other (him here respecting and accepting her a teeny bit more than she does yet).


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