"The Gift" is the season finale of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the hundredth episode in the series. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it originally broadcast on May 15, 2001 on The WB network.
FIFTH SEASON FINALE & 100TH EPISODE WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY JOSS WHEDON — Another imminent apocalypse is at hand in Sunnydale. Buffy must square off against a true God when Glory prepares to use Dawn to break down the walls between the dimensions and unleash all Hell on Earth. Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Anya, Tara and Spike go to battle with the knowledge that they may not all survive.
A boy runs into an alley, where a vampire corners him ready to attack, until Buffy arrives and the boy tells her to run and call the police. After a fight, she stakes the vampire, and the boy doesn't understand how Buffy could save him. She tells him it's what she does, and, confused, he says: "but you're just a girl". Buffy answers: "that's what I keep saying," and returns to the Magic Box.
In the shop, the Scoobies are going over the information they recently gained. The Key is living energy that, when poured into a specific spot at a specific time, will break down the walls between dimensions. Glory intends to use Dawn's blood to open the door and return to her home, while hell will be unleashed on Earth as a result. However, if the energy is stopped, then the dimensional walls will go back up. Giles puts forward the notion that killing Dawn may be the only solution, which Buffy refuses to consider. Giles states that if Glory succeeds in her plan, every living being on Earth will be subjected to torture, agony, and death. Buffy is unswayed, telling the gang that Dawn is more than just a sister but a part of her, and she will not allow her to die no matter the cost, and tells her friends how sorry she is that she is putting her sister ahead of them.
Anya tries to perk everyone up in order to get some suggestions or a battle plan together to stop Glory before the ritual. Xander reluctantly suggests killing Ben as, although he is an innocent, his death will destroy Glory; however, Giles points out that it's unlikely Ben will resurface this close to the ritual. No one can work out how to kill Glory, but then Willow points out they don't need to: Glory only has one opportunity to perform the ritual, if she fails then she won't get another chance and Dawn will be safe from her. It's simply a case of keeping her busy until her window of opportunity has passed. Anya continues to press for ideas and points out two items the Scoobies have possession of that could help: the Dagon Sphere, which is supposed to repel Glory, and Olaf the Troll God's Enchanted Hammer, which Buffy can easily wield. Buffy then points out the gang still have no way to find Glory, when Tara suddenly starts trying to leave, babbling that she has places to be. As Tara is being drawn to where the ritual is taking place, it'll be a matter of following her when the time comes.
At Glory's new lair, Ben is now willingly going along with Glory's plan, and he gives Dawn some clothes that she needs to change into. He attempts to reassure her, but Dawn doesn't want to hear it and screams demanding that he change into Glory. The goddess herself appears and wants to know why Dawn chose her over Ben. Dawn tells her that, while both are monsters, at least Glory is upfront about it. Glory boasts that she could have killed Buffy at any time, but didn't because of Ben's residual humanity. Dawn suggests that maybe Glory knew she couldn't take the Slayer. Glory doesn't take kindly to this and tells Dawn that her big sister won't be turning up, and, even if she does, she might not be there to save her, but to kill her.
At the Magic Box, Buffy is training with the punch bag as everyone else works on ideas. Knowing they can't set off for Glory's location too soon, it's just a case of waiting for the right time. Giles apologizes Buffy for suggesting that Dawn be killed, but explains that he promised to protect the world, and sometimes has to say or do what others feel they can't. Buffy understands, but warns him she'll stop him if he tries to hurt Dawn. The two reflect on the amount of times they've saved the world; while the apocalypse has been averted on several occasions, it feels like they've done it a hundred times. Buffy remembers how, despite her love for him, she sacrificed Angel to save the world and, although it broke her heart, she knew it was right. Now she feels she is being asked to sacrifice too much and doesn't understand how she is meant to live in a world that demands so much from her. She then tells him how the Guide had told her that "death is [her] gift", and she concludes that all a Slayer can ever be is a killer. Giles tells Buffy that he thinks she's wrong about that, but she says that, regardless of what the message meant, if Dawn dies then she's finished as the Slayer.
Xander and Anya finish having sex in the Magic Box's basement while supposedly looking for the Dagon Sphere, then get back to work looking for it. Xander suddenly finds the Buffybot that Spike had built, and Anya screams at the sight of a stuffed bunny, telling Xander it is an omen about the end of the world. Anya also notes that normally she would head for the hills during an apocalypse, but her love for Xander is preventing her. As she talks about her conflicted feelings, Xander proposes to her. Anya is initially angry, thinking that he's only proposing to look brave, because the world is going to end and he won't have to go through with it. Xander assures her that he doesn't think the world is going to end and wants to spend the rest of his time on it with her. Anya tells him she'll accept only "after the world doesn't end."
Upstairs, Buffy asks Willow if she can use magic against Glory, given that the only time any of them have hurt Glory was when Willow attacked her. Willow points out that the spells she used only worked for a couple of minutes, and Glory has likely prepared for that. She then tells Buffy she thinks she can reverse the brain-suck that Glory inflicted on Tara; not only this would restore Tara's sanity, but also weaken Glory. Xander and Anya return with the Dagon Sphere, as well as a couple of other ideas for slowing Glory down.
It's time for Dawn to take her place for the ritual, and Glory instructs two of her minions to take her. Dawn struggles against them and then sees what Glory's army of crazy people have been building: a huge tower on top of which Dawn will be placed to be bled.
Buffy heads back to her house to collect weapons with Spike in tow. For this, she invites him back into her house. Buffy asks Spike to protect Dawn, to which he promises. He tells Buffy he knows she'll never love him, but appreciates her for treating him like a man.
Sundown approaches, and the gang know that it's the right time to leave and let Tara out. She leads them directly to the tower; however, Glory recognizes her and demands to know what she is doing there. Glory is then ambushed by Willow who reverses the brain-suck and returns Tara's sanity. Glory is left dazed and decides that she needs a brain to feed on. She then sees Buffy and orders her minions to guard the path up the tower.
Glory is having trouble maintaining her composure and believes it is due to what Willow did, until Buffy reveals the Dagon Sphere and throws it to her. Glory catches it, causing her severe pain for a few seconds, but she manages to crush it with ease. However, Buffy uses this time to run up and attack her, initially gaining the upper hand. Giles, Spike, and Anya attack the minions at the base of the tower, with the hope of breaking through to rescue Dawn. Meanwhile, Willow approaches a waking Tara, who now is able to recognize her girlfriend. The two kiss and hug each other, overjoyed in their reunion.
Glory has regained her senses and punches Buffy hard enough for her head to fly off, revealing she was actually fighting the Buffybot. The real Buffy then sneaks up behind Glory and strikes her with the enchanted hammer, which sends the hell-goddess flying. Dawn calls out to Buffy, who forces her way past Glory's minions and attempts to climb the tower, but Glory recovers and gives chase, quickly catching up. Buffy is eventually thrown off the tower, but manages to take Glory down with her, and the two fall to the ground, the hammer landing several feet away. Before Glory can take any action against Buffy, she is knocked off her feet by a wrecking ball operated by Xander. Buffy then grabs the hammer and begins to beat Glory with it. Glory tells her she can't be killed, but Buffy doesn't stop.
At the top of the tower, Dawn is nervously watching the battle raging below. She is surprised to see Doc at the top of the tower. Dawn, unaware that he is a worshiper of Glory, cries to him for help. He instead pulls out a knife and advances on her.
Giles, Anya, and Spike are not making any progress through the minions and fall back, but believe that they're winning since Glory can't get anywhere near Dawn either. Spike then notices that there is someone at the top of the tower along with Dawn. Willow communicates telepathically with Spike, telling him to run to the top of the tower and rescue Dawn, and then with Tara using magic to knock all the guards away to clear a path. He takes his shot and sprints to the top of the tower. When he gets there, Dawn calls to him. Doc turns around and the two begin to fight. However, Doc proves to be far stronger and faster than suspected, allowing him to get the better of Spike and plunge a knife into his back. Doc questions why Spike, a vampire without a soul, is going through so much to protect a girl, and Spike answers he made "a promise to a lady". Intending to make Spike break it, Doc gets behind him again and locks him in a hold. Spike and Dawn share a horrified look, before Doc throws him from the tower, and Spike smashes into the ground below. Doc then proceeds to initiate the ritual himself.
Buffy continues beating Glory, who then reverts to the form of the mortal Ben. Buffy gives him a message to deliver to Glory: she's missed her chance and they're to leave Sunnydale to never return, or Buffy will end both of them. As Buffy leaves, Giles approaches a panting Ben, who admits that he thought Buffy was going to kill him. Giles tells Ben that she couldn't do that, even though she knows that one day Glory will re-emerge and make Buffy, as well as the world, suffer for her act of mercy. Giles tells him that Buffy couldn't kill him because she's a hero... "not like us." Giles then puts his hand over Ben's mouth, suffocating him.
Doc begins to cut Dawn, and her blood drips off her foot. A portal opens in mid-air, from which all manner of demons and horrors emerge. Buffy runs to the top of the tower and Doc looks forward to taking on the Slayer, but she quickly pushes him off the top of it as she heads for Dawn. She unties her sister, but Dawn knows that it's already too late. Knowing the portal won't close until her blood stops flowing, Dawn plans to jump into the portal, believing that doing so would close it and save the world, even if she dies in the process. Buffy stops her, and then has a realization herself. She remembers when she told Dawn they both shared Summers blood, her earlier proclamation that the monks made Dawn out of her, and when the Guide told her that death was her gift.
Buffy exchanges a few words with a crying Dawn. She runs to the edge of the tower and throws herself into the portal, and endures the supernatural energy for several seconds. The portal close. Buffy's body lies at the bottom of the tower, where it is found by her friends.
In a cemetery, a grave bears the epitaph:
- Xander exclaims that smart chicks are hot and Willow asks "You couldn't have figured that out in the tenth grade?", a reference to the crush Willow had on Xander during seasons 1 and 2. Her feelings are unrequited until their secret affair in "Homecoming".
- Buffy describes Willow as the only one among the Scoobies who had demonstrated an ability to hurt Glory until this point, in reference to her attack in "Tough Love".
- Spike initially warns Buffy about the difficulty in wielding the Enchanted Hammer, as he was unable to do so in "Blood Ties". It had been acquired in "Triangle" and will apparently never be used again.
- When Buffy asks Giles how many apocalypses they've been through, he replies "at least six"; indeed, they've averted apocalypses in "Prophecy Girl", "Becoming, Part Two", "The Zeppo", "Graduation Day, Part Two", "Doomed", and "Primeval".
- Buffy mentions having to sacrifice Angel to save the world, in "Becoming, Part Two".
- Spike is invited back into Buffy's home after being barred in "Crush".
- Willow and Tara performed a spell together to move something out of the way through holding each other's hands, an action similar to their first magical encounter with each other in "Hush".
- Willow demonstrates the ability to communicate by telepathy with Spike, which she will later use to give orders to the group while hunting vampires in "Bargaining, Part One". This ability will also be utilized later as well in episode "Showtime".
- Willow's successful communication with Spike via telepathy indicates that vampires can receive projected thoughts even though, as Angel stated in "Earshot", their own thoughts cannot be read.
- After being beheaded by Glory, Buffybot will be repaired and used again as a Buffy decoy, until her final destruction in "Bargaining, Part Two".
- The outfit that Buffy wears in the final battle is the same one that she wore in "I Will Remember You".
- Spike's inability to fulfill his promise to protect Dawn in this episode will reflect in his over-protection during Buffy's absence, as he and Dawn discuss in "Bargaining, Part One", and his obsession in thinking the events all over again, as he tells Buffy in "After Life".
- Dawn being the Key becomes a non-issue after this episode; from here on, this will be mentioned in the past tense. Dawn herself says in "Bargaining, Part One": "I'm not the Key. Or if I am, I don't open anything anymore." In "Storyteller", Andrew says: "Dawn used to be a key. I don't really know what that means." Her identity as the Key remains, though, as she begins exploring in In Pieces on the Ground, Part Five.
- Buffy has flashbacks of when she told she and Dawn shared Summers blood, in "Blood Ties", and the Guide's message to her in "Intervention".
- Buffy's statement to Dawn, "The hardest thing in this world is to live in it", is repeated by Dawn as an encouragement to her sister in "Once More, with Feeling".
- Buffy's death in this episode appears to not cause the activation of a new Slayer. This can be attributed to the fact that her death in the season one episode "Prophecy Girl" caused the activation of Slayer Kendra Young, who then died and was replaced by Faith Lehane. It can be assumed that because Buffy has already died and been replaced by a new Slayer, she is technically no longer the "active" Slayer, and that the Slayer line now runs through Faith.
- Willow goes to Los Angeles to let Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley know that Buffy is dead, in Angel episode "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb".
- Angel (Only mentioned)
- Rupert Giles
- Guide (Only in flashbacks)
- Alexander Harris
- Anya Jenkins
- Tara Maclay
- Willow Rosenberg
- Sineya (Only in visions)
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers
- Joyce Summers (Only mentioned)
- Benjamin Wilkinson
- Unidentified boy (The Gift)
Organizations and titles
- Glory's minions
- Higher being
- Order of Dagon (Only mentioned)
- Scooby Gang
Weapons and objects
- One vampire, dusted by Buffy.
- One minion of Glory, killed by Spike with a crossbow.
- One minion of Glory, killed by Giles with a sword.
- Ben, suffocated by Giles.
- Glory, died with Ben.
- Doc, pushed off the tower by Buffy.
- Buffy Summers, killed by mystical energy in self-sacrifice.
Behind the scenes
- This is the 100th episode of the series. James Marsters also appears in "You're Welcome", the 100th episode of Angel.
- The "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" segment immediately preceding this episode is unique compared to other episodes (both before and after). Instead of simply showing the key moments from previous episodes, this segments begins by showing clips from "Welcome to the Hellmouth" in which all the main characters that first appeared in that episode (including Angel and Cordelia) introduced themselves, then clips from each episode following that one up this episode are shown. As they continue, the clips begin to go by faster until they're only a fraction of a second long.
- This episode also marks the final episode that Anthony Stewart Head is featured in the opening titles as "and Anthony Stewart Head as Giles", and is now replaced with Alyson Hannigan taking over as "and Alyson Hannigan as Willow" for the remainder of the series. Anthony Stewart Head is henceforth classed as a Special Guest Star.
- As mentioned by Joss in the DVD commentaries for both this episode and "Chosen", this episode was originally written to serve as the series finale, and several ideas that were used in the real finale were originally written for this episode.
- Originally, Sunnydale was supposed to be destroyed by the Hellmouth in this episode, but it was decided to save the idea for the series finale, "Chosen".
- It was rumored that this episode was going to be a two-hour television event called "Centenary" and to feature almost every single character from previous seasons including the entire Angel cast.
- Earlier in the season, it was rumored that the entire town of Sunnydale would be sucked into the Hellmouth in the finale. Although it has never been completely confirmed, Joss had another plan for the season. The original idea was to have Anya die in the rubble, Xander be Glory's other half (instead of Ben), Willow was going to become evil after Tara's death and join forces with Glory, and Dawn was to be bled by Evil Willow in the end, and Sunnydale was supposed to be completely destroyed by the Hellmouth. Many of the above ideas were used later in the series. Anya was killed in "Chosen" and had fallen behind rubble, Willow did become evil after Tara's death in "Seeing Red", and Sunnydale is destroyed in "Chosen".
- Giles would have later confessed to Buffy about killing Ben in the episode "Lies My Parents Told Me", but the scene was cut right before it aired.
- This is the last original episode to air on the Warner Bros. Network. Because of this, The WB promoted this episode as the "series finale" and not the "season finale" since the show will air on UPN for the following season.
- The "Previously on..." portion of this episode, which included clips from every previous season of the show, is not on the season 5 DVD set for all region 1 DVDs. However, it appears on all region 2 DVDs and it's available as an Easter Egg on the season 7 DVD set for region 1.
- In the original script the end would be a lot different:
- A rift opens and a huge dragon flies out screaming as it sails past the girls.
- Dawn: "Buffy—"
- Buffy: "I don't care! Dawn, I won't lose you—"
- Dawn: "You have to! You have to let me go! Blood starts it, and until the blood stops flowing, it'll never stop. You know you have to let me."
- Buffy takes in Dawn's words and knows it's true.
- Dawn takes a few steps away from her sister.
- Buffy does nothing to stop her.
- Dawn begins running toward the end of the platform and swandives into the ball of energy. She starts down.
- Buffy watches and cries.
- Dawn's body disappears in a white light and the energy goes even wilder.
- The Scooby Gang looks up in vain to see what happened.
- Dawn floats into the center of the maelstrom and is being hit with equivalent of a million jolts of electricity.
- Buffy is unable to leave the platform...
- Dawn slowly closes her eyes, and the energy ball explodes and is out of existence. Dawn disappears with it, and the last thing we see is Buffy's face...
Pop culture references
- As Giles and Spike leave to take on Glory, Spike says, in response to Buffy's "Everyone knows their jobs" speech: "Well, not exactly the St. Crispin's Day Speech, was it?" This is a reference to Shakespeare's Henry V, in which the "St. Crispin's Day Speech" appears. Giles follows this with the most famous quote from the speech, "We few, we happy few", and Spike finishes the line, with his own interpretation, "We band of buggered". The real quotation is "We band of brothers".
- When the group first sees the tower, Xander says "Shpdoinkle", a slang term first used in the student film directed by, and starring, the creator of South Park, Trey Parker, Cannibal! The Musical.
- Christophe Beck — "Previously"
- Christophe Beck — "Oh God, My Leg"
- Christophe Beck — "The Construction"
- Christophe Beck — "Xander's Proposal"
- Christophe Beck — "Spike's Love"
- Christophe Beck — "Buffy Confronts Glory"
- Christophe Beck — "Buffy Fights Glory"
- Christophe Beck — "More Fighting"
- Christophe Beck — "The Tower"
- Christophe Beck — "Losing Battle"
- Christophe Beck — "Apocalypse"
- Christophe Beck — "Buffy Dies"
- Christophe Beck — "Sacrifice"
- Christophe Beck — "Sacrifice" (Alternate version)
- Armenian: "Պարգև" (Reward)
- Czech: "Dar" (Gift)
- Finnish: "Uhrilahja" (Sacrifice)
- French: "L'Apocalypse" (The Apocalypse)
- German: "Der Preis der Freiheit" (The Price of Freedom)
- Hungarian: "Az Ajándék" (The Gift)
- Italian: "Il Dono" (The Gift)
- Japanese: "ギフト" (Gift)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "O Dom" (The Gift)
- Russian: "Дар" (Gift)
- Spanish (Latin America): "El Don" (The Gift)
- Spanish (Spain): "El Regalo" (The Gift)
- Two Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figures were produced based on Dawn and Glory in this episode.
- The episode was adapted into the cine manga The Ultimate Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Gift.
- The comic issue Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12 has a tribute variant cover to this episode.
- The actor Tom Kiesche, here portraying the unidentified vampire, has also portrayed Broomfield in Angel episode "The Shroud of Rahmon".
- This episode was criticized by the Parents Television Council for showing a character committing suicide, ignoring the context in which Buffy's self-sacrifice occurred.
- This episode is included in The Best of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD.
- Joss Whedon joked at the Noctural convention in 2001 that Anya was originally supposed to die in this episode, however, he had to keep her alive because Emma Caulfield kept moving as Xander was carrying Anya.
Behind the scenes
|Buffy - "This is how many apocalypses for us now?"|
|Giles - "Oh, well... Six, at least. Feels like a hundred."|
|Buffy - "I've always stopped them. Always won."|
|Giles - "Yes."|
|Buffy - "I sacrificed Angel to save the world. I loved him so much. But I knew... what was right. I don't have that any more. I don't understand. I don't know how to live in this world if these are the choices. If everything just gets stripped away. I don't see the point. I just wish that... I just wish my mom was here. The spirit guide told me... that death is my gift. Guess that means a Slayer really is just a killer after all.|
|Giles - "I think you're wrong about that."|
|Buffy - "It doesn't matter. If Dawn dies, I'm done with it. I'm quitting.|
|Buffy - "We're not all gonna make it. You know that."|
|Spike - "Yeah. Hey. Always knew I'd go down fightin'."|
|Buffy - "I'm counting on you... to protect her."|
|Spike - "Till the end of the world. Even if that happens to be tonight."|
|Buffy - "I'll be a minute."|
|Spike - "Yeah. I know you'll never love me. I know that I'm a monster. But you treat me like a man. And that's... Get your stuff, I'll be here."|
|Glory - "You're just a mortal. You can't understand my pain!"|
|Buffy - "I guess I'll just have to settle for causing it!"|
|Glory - "You can't kill me."|
|Buffy - "Maybe not, but my arm's not even tired."|
|Ben - "She could've killed me."|
|Giles - "No she couldn't. Never. And sooner or later Glory will re-emerge, and... make Buffy pay for that mercy. And the world with her. Buffy even knows that... and still she couldn't take a human life. She's a hero, you see. She's not like us."|
|Ben - "Us?"|
|Buffy - "Dawn, listen to me. Listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles... tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world... is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me."|