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"Spiral" is the twentieth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the ninety-eighth episode in the series. Written by Steven S. DeKnight and directed by James A. Contner, it was originally broadcast on May 8, 2001, on The WB network.


BUFFY AND THE GANG FLEE SUNNYDALE — Buffy explodes into action and takes the gang on the road once Glory discovers that Dawn is the Key with Glory on their tail blazing a path of destruction. While on the run, things happen fast as Giles and Spike are wounded, Dawn learns she has the power to destroy the universe, and Willow stays close to an incoherent Tara.[1]


With Glory now possessing knowledge that Dawn is the Key, Buffy and Dawn run for their lives. They escape 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 and discusses possible plans of action. Buffy declares they will never be able to defeat Glory, and they must leave town to stay alive. Spike solves their transportation problem by procuring a sun-protected Winnebago. Giles and Xander aren't pleased by Spike accompanying them, but Buffy says she and Spike are the only ones who stand a chance at protecting Dawn in the event that Glory catches up to them; she makes it clear the subject is not open for discussion.

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

Worried about their future plans, Buffy is comforted by Dawn until the Knights attack. A sword through the roof nearly stabs Buffy, but Spike stops it with his bare hands. While Buffy fights 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 seek shelter in an abandoned gas station, where Buffy fends off the attackers until Willow performs a force field spell. Meanwhile, in the Sunnydale Memorial psychiatric ward, all patients repeatedly mutter: "It's time."

Spike suggests to Xander that they run, using the captured general as hostage to keep the Knights outside from giving chase, though Xander points out that, should things go south for them, Spike would not be able to fight due to the Knights of Byzantium being humans. The vampire argues that, if they stay where they were for longer than they should, the Scoobies were bound to meet their end: if not by the Knights' swords, then by Glory's hand, since the hell-goddess was bound to figure out where they are sooner or later. At least by making a run for it, some of the Scoobies might survive. However, Buffy refuses to let anyone die.

Buffy questions the General, who reveals that Glory once ruled over a hell dimension as part of a "triumvirate of suffering and despair," only to be banished by the other two 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 this is her only weakness: kill the mortal and Glory dies as well. However, Gregor explains Glory's mortal host has never been found. He also reveals the Key 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 Giles is seriously injured, Buffy arranges a deal with the Knights to allow a doctor to safely pass. She calls Ben, and he stabilizes Giles. Alone with him, the General suspects Ben is an outsider and tempts him with the idea of killing Dawn. Ben realizes Glory is about to take over his body and tries to leave the force field, but Glory soon comes forth.

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 to go after Glory, the hell-goddess 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, abruptly sits down on the ground, crying as Willow tries to call for her.


  • This is the second time Buffy uses a sword as a weapon; the first was in "Becoming, Part Two."
  • Buffy mentions Adam's death by pulling out his uranium power core in "Primeval."
  • Willow's eyes turn black when she casts powerful spells in this episode, the third time in which this effect occurs on her, 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; in "Blood Ties," she visited the mental ward looking for answers while he was there and he recognized her.
  • Dante mentions having ten of his men dead; as seven Knights had been killed in this episode, he also refers 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 ("The Weight of the World").



Organizations and titles[]





Rituals and spells[]

Death count[]

  • One Knight of the Byzantium, thrown from the Winnebago RV by Anya.
  • Three Knights of Byzantium, thrown from the Winnebago RV by Buffy.
  • One Knight of the Byzantium, stabbed with an axe by Buffy.
  • One Knight of the Byzantium, neck broken by Buffy.
  • Orlando, stabbed by Dante.
  • Gregor, killed by Glory.
  • Two clerics, killed by Glory.
  • Dante Chavalier, killed by Glory.
  • Dozens of Knights of Byzantium, killed by Glory.

Behind the scenes[]


  • According to Steven S. DeKnight, the scene where the Knights of Byzantium attack the Scoobies in the Winnebago is a homage to 1939 Western film Stagecoach.[2]
  • DeKnight has also described: "In the first draft of the outline for [the 'Spiral'] script, the opening action scene where Buffy is trying to escape from Glory with Dawn, was massive. It was a ten minute long escape scene. Buffy gets smacked into a tree a hundred feet away, she ends up beating Glory with a sheared off lamp pole, there was big, big action. Joss [Whedon] read it and said 'This is great, this is wonderful, Kubrick couldn't film this in 20 days with five million dollars, so cut everything.' I'm like 'Great, okay, that's fine, as long as I get the Knights chasing the Winnebago.'"[3]


  • "Spiral" had an audience of 3.3 million households upon its original airing.[4]

Pop culture references[]

  • Xander's apartment has a poster of the 1949 novel "Tough Kid from Brooklyn" from author Robert Mende.
  • Anya mentions the characters Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd (dropping a piano), while Giles refers to the antics of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner (painting a tunnel on the side of a mountain).
  • Spike mentions his idea of taking a vehicle of the manufacturer Porsche instead of the Winnebago.
  • Xander says that Spike can be "undead man walking," a play on the book and movie Dead Man Walking.
  • Anya offers to cook canned meat of the brand Spam.
  • Glory's minion casts rune stones (an ancient divination technique) bearing Anglo-Saxon runes.
  • Spike jokingly compares Buffy to Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
  • Xander mentions learning war rules from the comic book character Sgt. Rock, a war veteran.
  • Willow calls the Knights of Byzantium's clerics Heckle and Jeckle, a pair of cartoon magpies.
  • Spike calls General Gregor "scarface," a reference to the film of the same name, and later "General Armor All," a reference to the car care product brand.
  • Buffy refers to The Outer Limits when talking to Ben about the situation with the knights at the gas station.


  • As the Knights of Byzantium march off from the woods, a man is visible in the bottom right corner dressed in bright red flannel and with a clear ear piece in his ear.


International titles[]

  • Armenian: "Գալարագիծ" (Spiral)
  • Czech: "Spirála" (Spital)
  • Finnish: "Kierre" (Spiral)
  • French: "La Spirale" (The Spiral)
  • German: "Auf der Flucht" (On the Run)
  • Hungarian: "Vissza az Elejére" (Back to the Top)
  • Italian: "Spirale di Violenza" (Spiral of Violence)
  • Japanese: "スパイラル" (Spiral)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "A Espiral" (The Spiral)
  • Romanian: "Spiral" (Spiral)
  • Russian: "Спираль" (Spiral)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "Odisea" (Odyssey)
  • Spanish (Spain): "Espiral" (Spiral)


Promotional stills[]

Behind the scenes[]



Dawn: "And then whoosh! All of a sudden Glory's standing right there in front of us, all skanky and blonde and thinking she's all that just 'cause some bumpy heads kiss her stinky feet... She does have nice feet. And she's coming right at us, and Buffy's just standing there not even blinking, like 'Bring it on,' and then, wham! Hell-bitch in orbit."
Xander: "Go, Buff!"
Giles: "I knew you'd best Glory eventually, I mean all our years of training—"
Buffy: "A truck hit her."
Giles: "Oh."
Anya: "You threw it at her?"
Dawn: "Well, no. She more kind of waited for it to hit Glory. Uh, but then Buffy ran really fast and we got away."
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: "I'm sorry."
Giles: "For what?"
Buffy: "We should have stayed. If we had, none of this would have happened."
Giles: "Don't. What you did... was necessary... what I've always admired."
Buffy: "Running away?"
Giles: "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."
Buffy: "She doesn't remember anything about being this key you're all looking for. The only thing that she remembers is growing up with a mother, and a sister that love her. What kind of god would demand her life for something that she has no control over? We are not your enemy. Tell your men to stand down."
Gregor: "No."
Buffy: "It is not her fault! She's human now!"
Xander: "How're your feelers?"
Spike: "Nothing compared to the little bits we're gonna get chopped into when the Renaissance Fair kicks the door in. And here we bloody sit."
Xander: "It's not like we got much of a choice."
Spike: "Could make a break for it! Use General Armor-All as a shield get to the doc's car, and—"
Xander: "Great plan. And while all the hacking and slashing's going on, what are you gonna be doing, huh? Throwing migraines at them?"
Spike: "Look, we stay here, we all die! At least this way, some of us might get—"
Buffy: "No. We're all gonna make it. I'm not losing anyone."


  1. "The Mortuary." Buffy.com. Archived from the original on June 9, 2001.
  2. Steven S. DeKnight, "Spiral (Spoilers)." BBC, May 2001. Retrieved on June 16, 2019.
  3. Steven S. DeKnight, "Big Budgets (Spoilers)." BBC, May 2001. Retrieved on June 16, 2019.
  4. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Fifth Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 8, 2008.