Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Checkpoint   Rewatch 
November 18, 2015 11:00 PM - Season 5, Episode 12 - Subscribe

The Watchers' Council has information on Glory, but they're not willing to share it until they're sure Buffy and her friends are worthy. After enduring their tests, a threatening visit from Glory, and an attack from a knightly order, Buffy takes her power into her own hands.
posted by yellowbinder (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I do like this episode, for the most part, with a few caveats I'll get to. As Buffy explicitly states at the end of this episode, this is all about power, the council trying to wedge themselves back into the Slayer's life, bargaining based on the little piece of information they have. Their posturing is great, and Buffy's final speech to them is awesome (and everyone cheering from the balcony is lovely). This also finally establishes the power level Glory has (although, practically speaking, it's not clear what difference her title makes. Demon or god, she's still super strong!), although her actual goal is still obscure. I don't quite know why the writers held back on Glory's plan until much nearer the end of the show, as I don't think it adds much, but I guess it keeps the reveal of how to stop her until the last moment.

So what don't I like? Well we are introduced to the knights of absurdity here, who just don't work very well conceptually. They'll essentially disappear after this until needed again, but I wish more thought had gone into their conception. Also, they are all humans acting for an essentially noble cause, and Buffy will end up killing quite a few of them, which I don't think the show really thought through. Finally, this episode marks the start of Glory behaving... oddly. I know the writer's justification for Glory not just killing everyone is Ben holding her back, but that seems weak sauce. She believes the Slayer knows who the Key is, she knows the Slayer can't hurt her, so why not, you know, torture her family or something equally unpleasant.? I guess the answer is that at this point she's worried that Buffy could destroy the key, or maybe that it's hidden somewhere impossible to find without Buffy's aid. Of course, when she learns the key is human....

-Tara thinking the English are gentler than normal people. She missed out on Ethan Rayne...
-"In that case I severely underpriced it." Giles reaction to one of his for sale items being a dangerous artifact. He really is quite casual about selling dangerous stuff!
-Buffy arguing that Rasputin is immortal... I mean, how did she think this would go down?
-"Shes short, symmetrical, hair on top."
-"He could seduce her and bang the key out of her."
-Giles gets super English in this episode
-I love Spike's fan girl watcher
-"I love what you've um, neglected to do with the place"
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:02 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The knights being human is probably a bit of a misstep, though I do like the added wrinkle they present. You're up against an immortal god, the council are being petulant power trippers as per usual, and these guys are a powerful force, ostensibly on the same side as you except they just declared you an enemy. No wonder she spends a whole episode catatonic near the end of the season.

But otherwise nothing but love from me for this one. All the various interrogations, the watchers' arrogant weakness and the gang trying to figure out how to tell them what they want to hear. Anya is especially hilarious with her "Born on the Fourth of July, our little firecracker is what they'd call me" shtick.

And that ending speech. Call me obvious but Crowning Moments of Awesome are always just totally awesome for me. The show slings endless crap at Buffy and when she's able to confidently grasp her essential control and power it never fails to make me grin.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:17 AM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I actually think about this one a lot -- especially when Buffy enters the Magic Box, sees the Watchers there and mutters "Bad day ... bad day ..." while trying to see if she can just turn around and leave. But definitely, Buffy's speech in this is probably the best of all of her speeches.

There's a few missteps here (I agree on the knights) but I do like how this moves the plot forward while still giving some breathing room and fun. It's my memory that the rest of Season 5 is pretty bleak ("Crush" is fun, but also disturbing, and I'm not a huge fan of "I Was Made to Love You" but those are probably the two "lightest" episodes coming up).
posted by darksong at 1:29 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

If I were at uni doing the kind of degree that let me write analyses of Buffy for credit, I would totally write a paper - maybe even an entire thesis - on the role of clothing in BtVS. Because if money is rarely an essential requirement for the characters, clothing is pretty much the opposite - though it bears about as little resemblance to the real world. For example, Buffy frequently wears skimpy sleeveless tops, sometimes even spaghetti straps, while other characters are wearing full on jumpers over long-sleeved shirts. We have already commented on Buffy's Overalls of Emotional Distress, but she has a tendency to bring out oversized, shapeless clothing whenever she's feeling crappy. We see it again in this episode when she wears a big, floppy, chunky jumper after the initial confrontation with the Council. But this is really just the warm-up for the fashion pièce de résistance this episode: the black knit hat and shapeless white coat which looks like she skinned one of those bigger-than-life-sized stuffed polar bear toys and took its hide as her trophy.

Which brings me to yet another criticism: Buffy has way too many coats for someone who lives in Southern California. We have never seen this particular monstrosity before, but we have seen either in this episode or the next a brown coat with a massively fluffy fur collar which is equally unsuitable for SoCal weather. I see from a cursory Google that there are innumerable Tumblrs (mostly ceased ~2011, which must have been a bad year for Buffy fans) and of course many analyses of Buffy fashion, but I am not sure this angle has been covered yet.

Anyway, apart from the fashion analyses, this is definitely an enjoyable episode. It is definitely satisfying to see Buffy get one up on the Council, especially with such great lines. I bet I'm not the only one who dreams about saying "Because I think s/he's understanding me" to some particularly annoying superior at work. I also adore the questioning of Willow and Tara. "We're...friends." "Good friends." "Girlfriends, actually." "Yes, we're girlfriends!" "We're in love! Lovers! We're gay, lesbian-type lovers!" You go, girl!
posted by Athanassiel at 3:13 AM on December 6, 2015

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