Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 5, Episode 20
Air date May 8, 2001
Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by James A. Contner
Episode Guide
"Tough Love"
"The Weight of the World"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Clare Kramer Glory
Charlie Weber Ben
Wade Andrew Williams Gregor
Karim Prince Dante
Amber Benson Tara
Co Starring
Justin Gorence Orlando
Lily Knight Gronx
Todd Duffey Murk
Jack Donner Cleric #1
Bob Morrisey Crazy #1
Paul Bates Crazy #2
Carl J. Johnson Crazy #3
Mary Sheldon Nurse

"Spiral" is the twentieth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the ninety-eighth episode altogether. It was written by Steven S. DeKnight and directed by James A. Contner. It originally broadcast on May 8, 2001.

With Glory now knowing that Dawn is the Key, Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Dawn, Anya, Tara, and Spike flee from Sunnydale only to run afoul of the Knights of Byzantium.


520 Spiral1

Buffy: We can't stay here! She'll just kill us off one by one until there's no one left standing between her and Dawn.

With Glory now possessing knowledge that Dawn is the Key, Buffy and Dawn run for their lives, escaping thanks to Willow's magic and a large semi-truck slamming into Glory out on the street, causing her to transform into Ben.

The gang gathers in Xander's apartment to discuss possible plans of action. Buffy surprises everyone by proclaiming that they will never be able to defeat Glory, and that they must leave town in order to stay alive. Spike solves their transportation problem by procuring a sun-protected Winnebago, and Buffy allows him to accompany them. Though Giles and Xander are anything but pleased by this decision, Buffy informs them that she and Spike are the only ones who stand a chance at protecting Dawn in the event that Glory catches up to them, and makes it very clear that the subject is not open for discussion.

Ben talks to one of Glory's minions, revealing that he is just a human body encasing Glory's god form. The Knights of Byzantium retrieve their crazy member, Orlando, from the hospital, who babbles that the Key is a shiny girl, prompting the Knight's leader to realize that the Key is the Slayer's sister. Giles, driving the RV, talks with a motion-sick Xander about Buffy's state of mind.

520 Spiral2

Buffy fights the Knights.

Depressed and worried about their future plans, Buffy is comforted by Dawn until the Knights attack. A sword through the roof nearly kills Buffy, but Spike stops it with his bare hands. While Buffy battles the Knights from the top of the RV, one knight impales Giles with a flying spear, causing the RV to crash onto its side.

The Scoobies rush to an abandoned gas station, where Buffy fends off the attackers until Willow erects a barrier spell. Meanwhile at the hospital, all those left crazy by Glory repeatedly mutter, "It's time."

Spike suggests to Xander that they run, but Buffy refuses to let anyone die. Buffy captures the General, who reveals that Glory once ruled over a hell-dimension alongside two others, only to be banished by them when they grew to fear her. As a result, Glory was trapped inside a mortal body in which she was meant to lay dormant. Buffy realizes that this is her only weakness... kill the mortal, and Glory dies as well. However the General explains that Glory's mortal host has never been found. He also reveals Dawn was created to open up the gateways between dimensions, and Glory intends to use this power to return to her own dimension. However, this will also dissolve the boundaries between dimensions and destroy all of them. Buffy promises Dawn that she'll protect her.

Realizing that Giles is seriously injured, Buffy arranges a deal with the Knights to allow Ben to safely pass; he stabilizes Giles, and then is left alone with the General, who suspects Ben is an outsider and tempts him with the idea of killing Dawn. Ben realizes that Glory is about to take over his body and tries to leave but before he can get outside the force field, Glory comes forth.

520 Spiral3

Too much to bear.

Glory kills General Gregor, fights off the Scooby Gang to take Dawn, and bursts through the force-field. By the time Willow releases the field, Glory has disposed of all the Knights and disappeared with Dawn. Knowing they have to move fast, everyone heads for Ben's car to chase after Glory. Buffy, however, is left emotionally shattered after going through so much to protect Dawn only to lose her to Glory, and collapses to the ground.


  • This is the second time Buffy uses a sword as a weapon; the first was in "Becoming, Part Two". Both instances involve a character catching a sword-blade in their bare hands: Buffy in "Becoming, Part Two", and Spike in this episode.
  • Buffy mentions Adam's death by pulling out his Uranium Power Core in "Primeval".
  • This is one of the only occasions in the series where the Scooby Gang actually decide to avoid confrontation with a Big Bad by fleeing Sunnydale.
  • Spike, despite lacking a soul, demonstrates apparent compassion for Tara, quickly forgiving her for accidentally burning him with sunlight. Xander also displays a degree of kindness toward Spike, helping him with his lighter when he is unable to use it due to his injuries.
  • Buffy is starting to crack under the pressure of the multiple obstacles thwarting her (Tara's insanity, Joyce's death, Giles' near-death, Glory's invulnerability, Dawn's capture), foreshadowing her eventual depression in Season Six.
  • The effects of being brain-sucked by Glory seem to have taken their full effect on Tara. In the previous episode, she was much more coherent and less child-like after being brain-sucked.
  • Despite the earlier (in regard to Faith) and later (in regard to Dark Willow) remarks in which Buffy makes it clear she does not believe it is ever right to kill humans as the Slayer, and expresses the opinion that if someone kills a human it will fundamentally change them, it is strongly implied that the Scoobies killed ten members of the Brotherhood during the battle in the RV; Xander at least believed they were fully human, as he did not think Spike would be able to harm them without his chip going off. However, while several Knights were seen to fall, it wasn't ten as later stated. Buffy later believed she deserved to be punished when she believed she killed Katrina Silber as well. Ironically, Buffy would later go against her beliefs in the final episode, "Chosen", by remorselessly killing Caleb though this may be due to the great threat he presented, his pure evil state and his great power.
  • Willow's eyes turn black when she casts powerful spells in this episode, the third episode in which this effect occurs, following "Becoming, Part Two" and "Tough Love".
  • Xander makes a reference to The Judge and the episode Innocence.
  • Orlando displays knowledge of Dawn's identity as the Key. This is because in "Blood Ties" she visited the mental ward looking for answers while he was there and he saw and recognized her.
  • Dante mentions having 10 of his men dead; as 7 Knights were killed in this episode, he also referred to the three men Glory killed in "Blood Ties".
  • Although this is the first time most of the Scoobies witness Ben transform into Glory, Spike will be the only one to clearly remember this fact.

Death Count

  • One Knight of the Byzantium, thrown from the bus by Anya Jenkins.
  • Three Knights of Byzantium, thrown from the bus by Buffy Summers.
  • One Knight of the Byzantium, stabbed with an axe by Buffy.
  • One Knight of the Byzantium, neck broken by Buffy.
  • Orlando, stabbed in mercy by Dante.
  • Gregor, killed by Glory.
  • Two Clerics, killed by Glory.
  • Dante Chavalier, killed by Glory.
  • Hundreds of Knights of Byzantium, killed by Glory.

Behind the Scenes

Pop Culture References

  • When Buffy and Xander first confront the Knights of Byzantium, Xander says, "If there's one thing I learned from Sergeant Rock, in war, there are rules." Sgt. Rock was a DC comic book hero.
  • The Winnabego with blacked out windows is very similar to an image from Kathryn Bigelow's vampire film 'Near Dark'. 
  • Xander and Anya have a poster on their wall of the 1949 novel "Tough Kid from Brooklyn" aka "Spit and the Stars" from author Robert Mende.


Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • Just as Willow closes the barrier after Glory kills the Knights of Byzantium's entire army, some of the knights bodies are laying through the barrier before it disappears.
  • Though its stated that ten Knights are killed during the RV chase, this many Knights are not seen to fall.
  • As the Knights of Byzantium march off from the woods, you can see a man in the bottom right corner dressed in bright red flannel and with a clear ear piece in his ear.

International titles

  • French: La spirale (The spiral)
  • German: Auf der Flucht (On the Run)


Giles - "There must be something in the Book of Tarnis that we've missed, something that we can use against Glory."
Anya - "Piano!"
Xander - "Because that's what we used to kill that big demon that one time. No, wait, that-that was a rocket launcher. An, what are you talkin' about?"
Anya - "We should drop a piano on her. Well, it always works for that creepy cartoon rabbit when he's running from that nice man with the speech impediment."
Giles - "Yes, or perhaps we could paint a convincing tunnel on the side of a mountain."
Buffy - "He's here because we need him.
Xander - "The hell we do."
Buffy - "If Glory finds us, he's the only one besides me that has any chance of protecting Dawn."
Xander - "Buffy, come on!"
Buffy - (jumps to her feet) Look, this isn't a discussion! He stays. Get over it."
Giles - "Weapons?"
Spike - "Hello! You're driving one!"
Willow - "Don't hit the horsies!"
Buffy - "Oh, we won't!" [to Giles] "Aim for the horsies."
Anya - "'Overwhelming?' How much more than 'whelming' would that be, exactly?"
Dawn - "At least things can't get any crazier. Right?"
Buffy - (an arrow smashes through the wall) "You know this is your fault for saying that!"
Anya - (after using a frying pan as a weapon) "Not a piano, but hey!"
Xander - (to Spike about a cigarette) "You know, those things'll kill you." (Spike gives him a look) "Oh. Right."