“The Weight of the World”
Written by Doug Petrie
Directed by David Solomon
Glory’s minions are rushing about to keep on schedule. Glory is wearing a drape-y sleeved robe over a black catsuit. She feels strangely non-murderous at the moment. She’ll be going home soon, but she’s not as happy about it as she thought. Dawn is tied up and gagged in the room.
The Scoobies are making plans to leave the truck stop, but Buffy is still catatonic. She won’t respond to anything anyone says to her. She’s just sitting there, staring into space. They’re not sure if it’s okay to move Buffy somewhere else. Spike tries literally shaking Buffy out of it, but that doesn’t work. Even punching her doesn’t work, but it does give Spike a headache. Also it gets Xander angry enough to attack him in Buffy’s defense (especially when Spike starts being gross with his double-entendres). Willow calmly uses magic to force them apart. She takes charge. They’re going back to Sunnydale, and everyone who isn’t injured has assignments.
Spike would like to know what to do if they run into Ben. Willow doesn’t think that’s relevant. Spike does, because Ben is Glory. Wait, what? Ben’s working with Glory? All the Scoobies are very confused, and Spike thinks they’re all either very stupid or very stoned. They have a very circular, very amusing conversation in which the Scoobies slowly begin to grasp the idea that Ben and Glory share a body. There’s some kind of magic that protects that information, so it’s a real struggle, and Spike does not have the patience for it.
Cut to someone welding. It’s one of the crazies. I’m not sure it’s wise for him to have access to that kind of equipment. The other crazies are there too, helping with the construction project. A minion with a long beard is trying to anoint Dawn for the ritual, but Glory chases him and the rest out before wiping the gunk off Dawn’s forehead. Glory acts surprisingly nice to Dawn, but she’s completely unresponsive to any of Dawn’s tear-streaked requests to go home. Dawn doesn’t appreciate Glory getting all chummy and calling her “Dawnie.” Glory is a bit hurt about it, and she’s troubled by the fact that she feels hurt. She also feels guilty. What’s with all these human feelings? She has the minion come back in and do that anointing stuff. In order to open her portal, Glory’s going to use Dawn’s blood until she’s dead. Fun.
At Xander’s apartment, Willow is getting ready to attempt to help Buffy out of her catatonia using magic. It’ll be Anya’s job to watch Tara while Willow’s doing the spell. Willow goes into Xander’s room and sets up some candles. Buffy is in there, sitting on a chair, still silent. Willow sits down on the corner of the bed and seems similarly zoned out. Then, suddenly, she’s in a bright house. She finds a six-year-old Buffy sitting there with a doll.
Spike breaks into Glory’s apartment to see what’s going on. It’s deserted, but he finds Ben’s bedroom there.
Back to Buffy’s mind. Willow tries to convince little Buffy to come back out of her head and help. This is like some weird dream/memory hybrid of the day Joyce and Hank brought baby Dawn back from the hospital. Which didn’t actually happen, of course, but Buffy remembers it happening. Why wasn’t there a babysitter with Buffy? All that fuss over fourteen-year-old Dawn needing a babysitter, but six-year-old Buffy doesn’t? Buffy doesn’t want to be a big sister. She wants to be the baby. Joyce helps Buffy hold her, and Buffy warms to the idea of being the big sister.
Then Buffy’s mindscape turns into the Magic Box, where Willow watches Buffy shelve a book, and there’s an odd musical cue when she does it. Then we’re in the desert during Buffy’s spirit quest.
Giles is at the hospital, and he seems to be doing well enough to leave. Xander updates him on what Willow’s trying to do to help Buffy. Spike joins them there too. All the crazies have left the hospital and Glory and her minions are gone from the fancy apartment. Spike thinks he knows someone who could help them find her. They get into another round of “Wait, Ben and Glory are working together?” Spike mentally prepares for it by smacking Xander up the back of the head.
Glory is starting to have Ben’s memories. They’re usually completely separate. Also, Dawn can remember Ben turning into Glory now. That means the magic keeping Glory and Ben distinct from each other is weakening. Glory demands that her beardy minion get rid of Ben because he’s infecting her with humanity, but he can’t. Also, Glory is Ben now. And now we’re back to Glory. Despite this setback, Glory’s still determined to move forward.
Willow recognizes the first Slayer. She watches the “death is your gift” conversation play out between her and Buffy. Then we’re back to that book-shelving moment in the Magic Shop.
Glory is about to strangle Dawn to death until her minions talk her down. Killing Dawn that way would leave them trapped on Earth. Glory shoos the minions away and asks Dawn how humans deal with their hormones and emotions. Dawn doesn’t want to talk to her, but she doesn’t agree with Glory’s nihilistic view of human existence.
Back to Buffy’s head. Willow follows Buffy into Joyce’s bedroom, and there’s a grave on the floor where her bed should’ve been. Then they go to Dawn’s room. Dawn is there, and she seems to be sick. Buffy tries to explain to Willow that “death is my gift” means, and she demonstrates by smothering Dawn with a pillow. Willow is horrified.
Glory is Ben again, and he’s glad Glory hasn’t hurt Dawn. The barriers coming down between him and Glory seems to be a much less pleasant thing for him, because now he can remember all the people she’s killed. Dawn tries to get Ben to help her, but Ben has also absorbed some of Glory’s self-centered-ness, so he’s just pissed that Glory’s been so inconsiderate to him. The beardy minion checks in on them, and Ben knocks him out. He’s willing to get Dawn as far away as possible before Glory comes back.
Willow is with little Buffy again, and she’s getting a bit impatient with the mindscape routine. Joyce and Hank arrive with little Dawn again. And then there’s that book shelving moment.
Turns out, Spike’s contact who might be able to help is the Doc from “Forever.” Yikes. The idea that Ben is Glory finally seems to be sinking in for Xander. Weirdly, Xander has no comment when Spike and Doc chat about the adventures of Spike and Dawn trying to bring Joyce back to life. Doc advises staying very far away from Glory, but if they’re that determined, they might ask his friend over in China for help. He’s acting a little shifty, and Spike notices. Doc is one of Glory’s followers. He knocks Spike and Xander down, then tosses the helpful item into the fireplace. Spike manages to rescue the box while Xander stabs Doc with a big sword. They leave him there on the floor, but they probably should’ve made extra sure he was really dead, because he’s very much not.
Back in Buffy’s mind, Willow tries to convince Buffy that this weird loop of smothering Dawn isn’t real.
Ben leads Dawn into an alley on Main Street. When he turns around to check if they’re being followed, Dawn knocks him out with something heavy. Instead of immediately sprinting away, she pauses to apologize, which gives Glory time to get up and catch her again. She doesn’t appreciate getting clobbered over the head, so now she’s going to pay Dawn back with lots of bruises. Ben and Glory switch back and forth. With the barriers coming down, they can have the sibling squabble they’ve always wanted to have.
Dawn tries to sneak off in the midst of it, but Glory catches her. Ben decides he should just kill Dawn so Glory can’t use her, but it’s a bluff. He can’t do it. Glory tries to convince Ben to work with her, because if he helps her, she’ll make sure he doesn’t just cease to exist when she makes it back home. Ultimately, she succeeds, and Ben leads Dawn back to the minions.
Willow demands an explanation from the pillow-smothering Buffy what the book-shelving moment is all about. Buffy doesn’t want to talk about it, but Willow knows it’s important. That was the moment when Buffy, just for a second, thought Glory was going to win, and wanted it to happen so that it would all be over. She imagined it being a big relief, and she feels like that moment, that sliver of weakness, was what allowed Glory to get away with Dawn at the truck stop.
Willow tells her to snap out of it. Who could blame her for one tiny little moment of weakness when she devotes her whole life to saving the world? It’s a bigger burden than anyone should have to carry, and doing it well 99.999% of the time is more than enough. Dawn is still alive, and the only way Buffy will actually get her killed is if she stays locked inside her head. Willow decides she’s done with this, so she’s leaving. Buffy can come with her or she can stay in her head. They both come to in reality. Then Buffy starts sobbing. Willow hugs her.
Buffy, Willow, Anya, and Tara all arrive at the Magic Box. Giles has discovered some stuff about Glory, using the box Spike and Xander brought. Glory will open the portal by shedding Dawn’s blood at the right time and place. That will fuse all the dimensions together, essentially plunging the entire multiverse into chaos. Once the ritual starts, the only way to save the world is to stop Dawn’s blood from flowing—by killing her. Aren’t you glad you’re not in a catatonic mind loop of killing Dawn anymore, Buffy?
“The Weight of the World” is an interesting episode. There’s clearly supposed to be a parallel between Buffy trapped in her mind and Glory and Ben’s identity crisis. I’ll explore that in Buffy’s character analysis section. With Buffy down for the count, the Scoobies do a pretty impressive job of holding down the fort, largely thanks to Willow’s leadership skills, which she hasn’t had to dust off in a while. In Plot A, all of the pieces are starting to come together in a way that’s pretty cool. The crazy people apparently aren’t just disposable victims and Doc isn’t just a creepy demon guy who knows too much about magic. It’s all a part of the finale. I love when all the elements of a story can come together at the end.
Glory thinks that human emotion is a weakness and that being immune to it is what makes her better than everyone. Certainly, it’s a weakness Ben succumbs to, and Ben is literally Glory’s weakness. Also, humanity is what led to Buffy’s mental breakdown. It’s what makes her feel obligated to hold herself to an impossibly high standard that she crumbles when she fails, even if it’s only for a second. But she knows the value of humanity too. She was terrified that she was about to lose hers in the process of becoming stronger, and she valued it above her strength. According to the first Slayer, power and humanity don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, contrary to what Dracula claimed and what Buffy has feared all season, maybe her power comes from love.
Why wasn’t Xander commenting about Spike and Doc’s conversation regarding Dawn attempting to bring Joyce back to life? Even if the Scoobies knew what Dawn had been up to, nobody but Dawn knew about Spike’s involvement. It’s weird that Xander doesn’t get angry about that, even though not long earlier, Willow had to use magic to keep him from pummeling Spike over a minor insinuating comment about Buffy. An argument over that issue would’ve led just as easily to the fight with Doc as what actually happened, so I’m not sure why the writers opted not to do that.
Willow isn’t as likable as she was in the early seasons, but she’s pretty cool in this episode. Not putting up with petty, time-wasting crap from the gang, firmly handing out assignments, and then helping Buffy in a way nobody else could. When her motives are pure, she can be a very powerful force for good. We’ve seen glimpses of what happens when her motives aren’t pure. We’re going to see a lot more than that in season six.
Anya is unusually empathetic in this one. She sincerely wishes Willow luck and she doesn’t complain at all about being put in charge of crazy Tara. Does this mean empathy will be her next character arc?
Dawn is too nice and not opportunistic enough for her own good in this one. I don’t know if she could actually have gotten away if she hadn’t apologized after knocking Ben out, but it would’ve made that moment less frustrating. I also wish Dawn had asked Glory if there was some other way she could get back to her home dimension. Because it really does seem ridiculous to me that using the Key is the only way to do it. And how would Glory know she has to use the Key to do it if the Key can only be used at one specific time and place? What was the Key good for before that? And does Glory understand that using the Key like this will put every dimension in a blender together, or does she just think she’s opening a doorway? I’m really not sure the writers thought this through all the way, and it’s frustrating that this season makes so much less sense than it could have.
Spike continues to be helpful in the efforts against Glory, but he also lets a bit of his lust for Buffy shine through. I’m still fully convinced his intentions have to be selfishly motivated. What better way to get closer to Buffy than by convincing her friends, all of whom don’t want him anywhere near her, that he’s on their side, really? If he can win them over, maybe he can win Buffy over too.
Giles recovers quickly from his nearly mortal wound, because it makes perfect sense for a middle-aged man to be up and about mere hours after getting almost fatally stabbed in the gut.
I’m still feeling like the stronger narrative choice would’ve been to let that wound actually be fatal. It would’ve made Buffy’s catatonia more understandable, it would’ve made the final arc several degrees more dire, and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing Giles does in the final two episodes that Anya couldn’t have done. More on that in the review of “The Gift,” if I remember.
“Is everyone here very stoned?”
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The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.