"Checkpoint" is the twelfth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is the ninetieth episode altogether. Written by Douglas Petrie and Jane Espenson, and directed by Nick Marck, it originally broadcast on January 23, 2001 on The WB.
BUFFY vs. WATCHER'S COUNCIL — The Watcher's Council arrives in Sunnydale demanding Buffy pass an exhaustive review of her slaying skills or they will withhold critical information about Glory and have Giles deported back to England.
The Scooby Gang gather at Buffy's house to discuss the Council's plans to come to Sunnydale, which Buffy isn't happy about. She recalls that her two previous experiences with the Council put her life in serious danger, and wishes that they would just give her the information she needs without making the trip to Sunnydale.
Glory is at her place, panting, sweating and in obvious pain. Dreg and another one of her minions rush into the room to her aid, bringing along with them a hysterical mailman. They carry her to the crying man and help her put her fingers to his temples to drain away his sanity. She gets up, refreshed, and the disoriented mailman wanders away. The other demon warns her that she has even less time now to use the Key, but Glory isn't worried. She explains that if Buffy is the only obstacle between her and the Key, she won't need much time at all.
Quentin Travers and a team of Watchers arrive at the Magic Box. They disrupt the business, sending paying customers home, and criticize Giles' handling of merchandise. They announce that the Magic Box will be closed for the duration of the Council's stay in Sunnydale. Giles is frustrated and takes an antagonistic position and then learns that the Council plans on conducting an extensive review of Buffy's her methods, skills, and abilities. Quentin announces that they have information on Glory but won't reveal it until Buffy has been comprehensively tested and she proves she can handle the information.
In Buffy's history class, the teacher is discussing how Rasputin was considered nearly impossible to kill. Buffy challenges the professor to look at the history from a different angle, but he shoots her ideas down with scathing criticism and sarcasm, embarrassing her in front of the entire class. That night, Buffy complains about her class to a vampire she's fighting, until she is thrown off balance. Spike suddenly appears, flying over a tombstone to tackle and stake the vampire. He expects gratitude from her, but Buffy tells him he is getting in her way. As they begin discussing, he accuses her of not being able to keep a man.
Jinx confronts Ben at the hospital and relays a message from Glory, who wants Ben's assistance in gathering useful information about the Slayer. He accidentally lets slip that the key is a human. Before Jinx can run and tell Glory, Ben beats up the demon. Quentin informs Buffy and Giles that she must pass the review or he will shut down the shop and deport Giles. Buffy and Giles realize that they must cooperate with the Council, which is powerful enough to carry out all its threats. Buffy worries that she may fail, placing everyone in even greater danger.
Council members interview the rest of the Scooby Gang, including Spike, for information about the Slayer. Lydia interviews Spike and she reveals she wrote her thesis on him. With the exception of Spike (who declares her to be "slipping" because she "can't keep a man"), they all try not to incriminate Buffy in any way, and each tries to justify his usefulness to her (without making it sound like Buffy actually needs help, of course). In the training room, Buffy is blindfolded and her fighting skills are tested against one of the Council members, but she does not pass the test.
Upon returning home, Buffy finds Glory in her living room. After Dawn sees her and departs, Glory openly threatens to kill Buffy's loved ones and friends and force her to watch her do so. Visibly disturbed, Buffy takes Dawn and Joyce to Spike for protection. Although Spike initially protests the sudden increase of responsibilities, he agrees to look after them. After a moment, Joyce and Spike discover their shared interest in soap opera and sit down to watch it together.
On her way to the shop to meet with the Council for a comprehensive review of her plans and strategies, several well-armed men wearing medieval fighting gear attack Buffy. She takes them out and discovers from the last conscious one that they are the Knights of Byzantium and are in town to destroy the Key. They consider her their enemy because she protects the Key.
Buffy returns to the shop and informs Quentin that she is not going to deal with the review anymore. She now knows that she holds power against both Glory and the Council because they both need something from her: Glory needs to know where the Key is, and the Council needs her to make their jobs meaningful. She delivers an authoritative speech justifying the participation of each of her friends and demands that Giles be reinstated as her Watcher (receiving retroactive pay from the month of his dismissal). She finally instructs the Council to give her the information that she needs.
Quentin reluctantly agrees to her terms. He then informs Buffy that Glory isn't a demon: she's a God.
- Xander's arm is still hurt from Olaf's attack in the previous episode ("Triangle").
- While telling Giles how badly she does not want the Watchers Council to come to Sunnydale, she mentions how they almost got her killed during her Tento di Cruciamentum, referring to the episode "Helpless." She also states that when she was Faith, they almost killed her again, referring to the incident with Watchers Council Special Operations Team in the episodes "Who Are You?" and "Sanctuary".
- In this episode, Anya reveals her second alias as a human, "Anya Christina Emmanuella Jenkins", after being first undercover as "Anya Emerson" (Sunnydale High Yearbook, The Watcher's Guide, Volume Two). She mentions this fake full name again in the episode "Selfless".
- This episode sees Giles reinstated into the Council as Buffy's Watcher, and reveals the truth of this season's Big Bad: Glory isn't any ordinary demon, but a god.
- Introduction of the Knights of Byzantium, one of three powers connected to the Key.
- This is the first time Giles is officially Buffy's Watcher since "Helpless". Additionally, the last time that we saw Quentin Travers was near Buffy's eighteenth birthday; this episode is very close to Buffy's twentieth.
- Buffy resumes her alliance with the Watchers Council after turning her back to them in "Graduation Day, Part One".
- Riley Finn (Only mentioned)
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Anya Jenkins
- Faith Lehane (Only mentioned)
- Tara Maclay
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers
- Joyce Summers
- Quentin Travers
- Benjamin Wilkinson
- Unidentified Council member I (Checkpoint)
- Unidentified Council member II (Checkpoint)
- Unidentified Council member III (Checkpoint)
- Unidentified lunatic (Checkpoint)
Organizations and titles
- England (Only mentioned)
- Sunnydale, USA
Weapons and objects
- Amulet of Cauldys
- Behavior-Modification Circuitry (Only mentioned)
- Burma statue
- Knights of Byzantium sword
Rituals and spells
- Simulated sunlight spell (Only mentioned)
- One vampire, staked by Spike.
Behind the scenes
- The karate instructions Buffy is given in Japanese are "shoumen ni rei" (bow to the front), "shoumen-zuki "(front punch), and "ushiro-geri, empi-uchi" (back kick, elbow-strike).
- Willow had some rhyming fun in this line cut due to length:
- Willow: "I didn't create the troll. I didn't date the troll. In fact, I hate the troll. I helped deflate the troll."
- Anya's false story was a little longer:
- Anya: "And when I was seven, I had a pet dachshund that died from choking on a wiener, which I find ironic."
- And Spike's interview began with more talking:
- Lydia: "You can't hurt anyone?"
- Spike: "That's right."
- Lydia: "But you are a vampire."
- Spike: "If I'm not, I'm gonna be pissed about drinking all that blood."
- Lydia: "So it's this chip in your head that keeps you from hurting people."
- Spike: "My goodness, you put that together all on your own? That's right. Leastways that's what I've got 'em all believing. Could just be a hoax, though. I fake some headaches, everyone gets used to poor helpless Spike. Then one day, no warning, I snap a spine, bend a head back, drain 'em dry. Brilliant."
- Lydia: "The chip. Assuming it exists. It takes away the… ability. But it leaves… leaves the…"
- Spike: "Desire? Yeah, I've got tons of that."
Pop culture references
- Dawn wears a shirt of the Pink Panther animated character.
- Spike and Joyce watch Passions together.
- Buffy describes the Watchers Council as watching Masterpiece Theatre television series without her.
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errors
- The woman to whom Giles is speaking when the Council arrives is seen leaving the store twice when the Council closes it.
- Thomas Wanker — original score
- Armenian: "Ստուգում" (Checkup)
- Czech: "Bod Obratu" (Turning Point)
- Finnish: "Testit" (Tests)
- French: "L'Inspection" (The Inspection)
- German: "Der Rat der Wächter" (The Watcher's Council)
- Hungarian: "Félúton" (Halfway)
- Italian: "Il Controllo" (The Control)
- Japanese: "チェックポイント" (Checkpoint)
- Polish: "Punkt Kontrolny" (Checkpoint)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Ponto de Controle" (Checkpoint)
- Romanian: "Checkpoint" (Checkpoint)
- Russian: "Проверка" (Check)
- Spanish (Latin America): "La Revisión" (The Review)
- Spanish (Spain): "Control" (Control)
- A Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure was made based on Giles in this episode.
- John O'Leary, who portrays the council member credited as #5, returns in episode "All the Way" portraying Kaltenbach.
- Erik Betts, here portraying the uncredited assassin, also portrays a number of characters in the Buffyverse, including Brown in "Out of My Mind" and the Keeper of the Name in "Peace Out".
|Tara - "What's so bad about them coming here? Aren't they good guys? I mean, Watchers, that's just like other Gileses, right?"|
|Buffy - "Yeah, they're scary and horrible!"|
|Spike - "Oh, it's the Slayer. For a second there I was worried. So, what's with the family outing?"|
|Buffy - "I need your help."|
|Spike - "Great. I need your cash."|
|Buffy - "I'm serious. You have to look after them."|
|Spike - "Well, that's a boatload of manly responsibility to come flying out of nowhere. What's the matter, Slayer? You're not feeling a hundred percent?"|
|Buffy - "No."|
|Spike - "They didn't put a chip in your head, did they?"|
|Buffy - "No!"|
|Spike - "Be funny if they did."|
|Giles - "You all stand around and look somber. Good job."|
|Quentin - "You used to respect us, Giles. You used to be one of us."|
|Giles - "You used to pay me."|
|Buffy - "They're gonna expect me to... to be like a Slayer and know stuff, but I'm just me and I don't know anything, and they're gonna to go away, and they're not gonna tell me how to fight Glory, and I'm not gonna be able to protect Dawn!"|
|Giles - "Buffy, calm down. The scandal here is not anything you've done wrong, it's the way they're behaving. Holding what they know hostage, with a gun pointed at my bleeding green card no less. It's humiliating."|
|Buffy - "Also smart. They picked the perfect thing. I can't lose you."|
|Giles - "Thank you."|
|Buffy - "There isn't going to be a review."|
|Quentin - "Sorry?"|
|Buffy - "No review. No interrogation. No questions you know I can't answer. No hoops. No jumps. And no interruptions. See, I've had a lot of people talking at me the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am. And I finally figured out why. Power. I have it. They don't. This bothers them. Glory came to my home today."|
|Giles - "Buffy, are you—"|
|Buffy - "Just to talk. She told me I'm a bug, I'm a flea, she could squash me in a second. Only she didn't. She came into my home and we talked. We had what in her warped brain probably passes for a civilized conversation. Why? Because she needs something from me. Because I have power over her. You guys didn't come all the way from England to determine whether or not I was good enough to let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in. To give your jobs, your lives some semblance of meaning."|