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SHADOW (ep #5.08)

(a.k.a. Enough with the Giant Snakes Already)

Written by: David Fury
Directed by: Daniel Attias
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Clare Kramer as Glory
Charlie Weber as Ben
Kevin Weisman as Dreg
William Forward as Doctor
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Co-Starring: Megan Gray as Sandy

Plot Summary

Once again, we see another giant snake, this time sent by Glory to find the Key.

Plot Details

The episode opened in Sunnydale Hospital as Joyce was about to get a CAT scan. A very nervous Dawn was in the waiting room with her sister. Meanwhile, Tara admired the new Magic Box ad in the yellow pages. Xander, Willow, and Anya walked into the Magic Box. Xander was upset that Riley went and destroyed the vampire nest without them. Giles agreed that it was reckless.

Giles decided that they should all start researching Glory, even though they had nothing to go on. Xander assumed that she was occupying some sewer or other dank place. Instead, she was in a mansion where a minion (Dreg) presented a spell to her. Dreg assured her that it would work if she had the other items. She was confident that she would be able to get them, at the Magic Box.

Riley went to Buffy's house to find the door ajar. He saw a thick blanket on the floor and immediately went upstairs to find Spike sniffing Buffy's sweater. Spike claimed that he was using "slayer musk" to get him up for a fight. Riley did not believe him and dragged him downstairs. Spike let slip that Buffy was in the hospital with her mother, which Riley did not know. Riley tossed Spike out, but at least tossed him the blanket.

Riley went to visit Buffy. He sat with Dawn while Buffy went to see the result of the CAT scan. They found a "shadow" on Joyce's scan. It was too soon for concern, but Joyce was scared.

Back at the Magic Box, Tara came up with the idea that Glory was something that predated language. Giles was worried that this meant that they would know nothing about her and would not know where she was. In fact, she was immediately behind him with her purchase.

The doctor came out to make a report on Joyce's biopsy. She had a brain tumor. The doctor proceeded to give a technical description, but Buffy zoned out. There were various symptoms to watch for, but there was little for Buffy to do. Eventually Ben came to tell the doctor he was needed in the ICU. Ben could tell that Buffy needed relief and suggested that she take a break for a few hours.

At the Magic Box, Anya discovered that Giles sold two objects that could do really bad things together. I do not think that anyone in the audience was wondering whom they were sold to. In fact, Giles figured it out pretty quickly.

Riley was supposed to take Dawn to school, but they went to a park instead. Dawn remembered how she spent her tenth birthday party riding the merry-go-round there for an hour with her mother and Buffy. Dawn talked about how he was good for Buffy, but all he heard was that Buffy did not get worked up over him like she did with Angel.

Buffy went to the Magic Box to find a spell to cure her mother. Giles and Tara discouraged her. Anya almost let slip that Giles sold dangerous things to Glory, but, instead, the others suggested that Anya merely broke something. Buffy was not fooled, so Giles and the others told her the truth. Glory purchases items that could be used to create a monster.

At the Sunnydale Zoo, Glory swiped a cobra from a display and put it in an urn. As Dreg chanted, Glory read her invocation. As she finished, Buffy ambushed her but was no match for Glory. Fortunately, Glory was too interested in her spell to finish Buffy off.

We saw something we had never seen before, a giant snake. At least, it was a little different from the giant snakes in "Reptile Boy," "Band Candy," and "Graduation Day, Part 2." Despite being perhaps the worst visual effect on the entire show, Glory and Dreg were impressed. Glory commanded it to find the key and tell her where it is.

Riley went to the Magic Box looking for Buffy. He was not happy that she went after Glory alone, so Xander explained that Buffy needed something to fight. Xander also put in a complaint about Riley going after vampires without backup. Buffy called from the hospital to warn Giles that the snake was loose in town.

Riley returned to Willy's bar and met up with Sandy again. This time, she managed to bring him somewhere private. She went into vampire face and started to bite Riley. He allowed it for a little bit before he staked her.

Late at night, Buffy returned to the Magic Box. She hugged Dawn and told her that their mother was awake. Just as Buffy said that she had not seen any giant snakes, the snake in question burst into the Magic Box and stopped in front of Dawn. Dawn screamed and the snake slithered away.

Buffy realized that the snake knew that Dawn was the key and went in pursuit. Buffy jogged listlessly after it, so it was fortunate that Giles came by in his midlife crisis vehicle. Meanwhile, Glory was getting very impatient and took out her frustrations on Dreg.

Eventually, the snake went through a park. Giles dropped Buffy off to pursue it. She eventually caught up with it and strangled it with a chain. It played dead long enough for Buffy to loosen her grip. However, it did not last long when it went mano a mano with Buffy.

Buffy and Dawn went to visit their mother. All were upset. While Joyce and Dawn were alone, Riley came to comfort Buffy. He was offering a shoulder to cry on, but she wanted to look strong for her mother and sister. Riley was rather hurt.

The Good

At least Tara is back in this episode.

The Bad

The snake was awful. It was very obvious when it was rubber suit, and when it was a CGI snake, sometimes with a CGI Buffy. For example, when it was a rubber suit, it was much wider than a human. When it was CGI, it was sometimes thinner. When it was a rubber suit, it was rather flat. When it was CGI, it was often round.

Overall Rank: 125

Action: 5

Glory beat up Buffy in the zoo.

Buffy pursued and killed the giant snake

Comedy: 1

There were a couple of amusing moments between Glory and Dreg.

Drama: 6

Buffy and Dawn were very worried about their mother.

Riley felt left out of Buffy's life.

Romance: 1

In his mind, Riley twisted Dawn telling him why he was better than Angel into her telling him that he was inadequate.

Character Development: 5

Anya no longer likes to start her day with a slaughter.

Riley is convinced that he is not that important to Buffy. He almost twists what he hears to fit that conclusion.

Joyce has a brain tumor that required immediate surgery.

Importance: 5

This episode sets up Joyce's illness.

Riley is feeling isolated from Buffy.

Most Valuable Player: Buffy

Buffy gets the MVP for defeating her fourth giant snake of the show.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Anya

Tara figured out that Glory might be something very old. Unfortunately, it will be a long time until we know if she is right and if this conclusion was important. This allows Anya to take the award for figuring out that selling the two objects together was very bad.

Goat of the Week: Sandy

It is very tempting to give the Goat to the special effects people for that awful snake. I cannot fault Glory or Dreg, because they did all they could. I will instead give the Goat to Sandy, who should not have brought home a man known for killing vampires.

Random Commentary

I have to agree with the BBC Cult web site. The characters need to learn how to conjure a giant mongoose as soon as possible. According to an interview with David Fury on that site, it was Marti Noxon's idea to use a giant snake.


We are supposed to suspect that something might not have a name because it is older than written language. Rocks are older than written or oral language, but they still have names and are still discussed in geology textbooks.

Memorable Dialogue

"When a person makes a destroy all vampires date, it's simple courtesy to wait for your co-destroyers. Am I right, Giles?" Xander
"I'm almost certain you're not, but, to be fair, I wasn't listening." Giles

"Tomb go boom." Willow
"Yep, Captain America blowed it up real good." Xander

"I for one didn't want to start my day with a slaughter, which really just goes to show how much I've grown." Anya

"She sure cries a lot less with you than she did with Angel." Dawn
"Angel made her cry a lot, huh?" Riley
"Everything with him was all "Eeeee," you know?" Dawn
"All..." Riley
"You know, 'My boyfriend's a vampire, crazy, crazy.' Every day was like the end of the world. She doesn't get all worked up like that over you. I think you've been really good for her." Dawn

"Just for once, I would like to run into a cult of bunny worshippers." Xander
"Great, thank you very much for those nightmares." Anya

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on November 29, 2012