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CHECKPOINT (ep #5.12)

(a.k.a. Power Play)

Written by: Douglas Petrie & Jane Espenson
Directed by: Nick Marck
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
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
Cynthia LaMontagne as Lydia
Oliver Muirhead as Phillip
Kris Iyer as Nigel
Kevin Weisman as Dreg
Troy T. Blendell as Jinx
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Harris Yulin as Quentin Travers
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Co-Starring: Wesley Mask as Professor Roberts
Justin Gorence as Orlando
Peter Husmann as Mailman
Jack Thomas as Council Member #4
John O'Leary as Council Member # 5

Plot Summary

Members of the Watchers Council came to Sunnydale to test Buffy and her friends.

Plot Details

The group had a meeting at Buffy's house to discuss the Watchers Council coming to Sunnydale. Buffy did not want the Council in Sunnydale, and Anya was concerned that they might not distinguish between current and ex-demons.

Meanwhile, Glory's minions brought her a mail carrier with sanity for Glory to suck. One of the minions, Jinx, said that she would need to use the key sooner than expected. Glory believed that this would not be a problem if Buffy were the only obstacle.

Quentin Travers, with six other watchers in tow, invaded the Magic Box. The other watchers inspected the shop and concluded that most of the items were harmless, but there were a few exceptions and at least one item illegally smuggled into the United States. They closed the shop for the duration of their stay.

Anya was not happy about the paying customers being made to leave, but was happy for an excuse to leave while the council was there. Quentin told Giles that they had vital and disturbing information that they will not divulge unless they could trust Buffy and Giles.

Buffy was struggling to stay awake in her history class. The professor did not appreciate Buffy raising questions about sightings of Rasputin well after his alleged death and responded sarcastically. She took out her frustrations on a vampire, but did not get to kill it because Spike jumped in and "rescued" her.

Jinx approached Ben in the hospital for information on the slayer. Ben did not know who Jinx was talking about until Jinx mentioned Buffy. Ben did not appear to be interested in cooperating, and Jinx showed up at Glory's mansion with a beaten face.

Buffy did not like seeing Travers in the Magic Box. Travers made it clear that Buffy will get the information only if she was deemed worthy. If not, she would not get the information and Giles would be immediately deported.

Later, Buffy talked with Giles. He confirmed that they could deport him if they wished. She did not want them questioning every decision that she has made. Giles was worried, but he supported her.

The watchers interviewed Buffy's friends. Anya described her (fictitious) biography when asked her name. Willow and Tara volunteered more information than was necessary about their relationship with each other and bluffed their way around questions concerning magic rating and registration. Willow and Xander both sang Buffy's praises.

Spike was less effusive in his praise. He believed that Buffy's romantic troubles sparked a decline in her work. He was very flattered when he found out that the watcher wrote her thesis on him.

Buffy underwent a test in which she was supposed to protect the straw dummy from another watcher while she was blindfolded and listening to Japanese names of martial arts moves. After a bit of a rough start, she decided to ignore the instructions and beat up the watcher. Unfortunately, she also tossed the watcher's ax into the dummy.

Buffy returned home to find Glory. They had a conversation that got tenser when Dawn entered the room. Dawn did not know where the key was, but she suggested that she will find out. Glory left, and Buffy decided that she needed to drop Joyce and Dawn off with Spike for protection. Dawn was a little grossed out when Spike offered her blood, but he and Joyce seemed to bond over Passions.

Buffy walked to the magic box when some guy in chain mail attacked her. Two more arrived and started acting like ninjas. After defeating them, she pulled the mask off one and found a human. They were from an order called the Knights of Byzantium. They denied working for Glory but vowed to defeat anyone working to protect the key. She took one of their swords as a souvenir.

With Anya, Xander, Willow, and Tara watching from the balcony. Buffy entered the Magic Box. She figured out that the Watchers were just trying to bully her into working for them. She agreed to allow them in, but under her terms, which included reinstating Giles as watcher and being allowed to work with her friends. Travers agreed. Buffy demanded knowledge about Glory. Travers told her that Glory was a god.

The Good

Like in "Family," this is another episode that ends in triumph.

The Bad

The episode felt like a very long buildup for a three word payoff.

Overall Rank: 48

Action: 4

Buffy and Spike fought a vampire.

Buffy fought three people from the Knights of Byzantium.

Comedy: 5

The interrogations of Anya, Willow, Tara, Xander, and Spike were very amusing.

Giles coughed "retroactively."

Drama: 6

The Watchers Council tested Buffy while threatening to deport Giles if she failed.

Glory threatened to kill Buffy's family and friends.

Buffy stood up to the Watchers Council and got them to back down.

Romance: 1

Willow and Tara declared their love of each other to Nigel.

Character Development: 6

Tara still occasionally sticks her foot in her mouth and holds stereotypes about people from England.

Buffy is now working with the Watchers Council, but under her terms. She realized that she has power and that those who do not resent her for it.

Giles is now a fully-paid watcher.

Anya is still insecure about her being an ex-demon.

Importance: 5

Buffy and Giles are back to working with the Watchers Council.

Buffy is now being pursued by nutcases in chain mail.

We now know that Glory is a god.

Most Valuable Player: Quentin Travers

Quentin Travers might have looked like a goat in the end. However, to use a poker metaphor, he had a pair of twos and very nearly got Buffy to fold on a straight. He did a masterful job with a very weak hand and accomplished much of what he set out to do: get the Watchers Council back into the slayer business. Buffy deserves a lot of credit for calling the bluff.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Buffy

Buffy gets this award for figuring out that the Council actually had a weak hand and calling its bluff.

Goat of the Week: Nigel

Nigel appeared to be the only Watcher who objected to Buffy's terms, so he gets the Goat.

Random Commentary

I actually doubt that the Fourth of July carries much significance in England. However, if it did, I doubt that it would be looked upon as positively as Anya seemed to think it would be.

A lot of reviewers seemed to think that Nigel was talking about a real (or real in the Buffyverse) magic rating level and a required registration. I see no evidence of this. If real, Tara and Giles would almost certainly know this. Instead, I treat this as part of the watchers' bluff.


It is not plausible for the Watchers Council to have the power that they claimed. Otherwise, they could have instantly cleared Buffy's arrest warrant in "Becoming, Pt. 2" or gotten her reinstated in Sunnydale High immediately in the third season. My guess is that Travers was bluffing like he was in nearly everything else that he said. However, this does not explain why Giles was so quick to buy that they had this kind of power.

DVD Extras

Original Script was useful in determining which actor played which watcher.

Memorable Dialogue

"What's so bad about them coming here? Aren't they good guys? I mean, Watchers. That's just like other Gileses, right?" Tara
"Yeah, they're scary and horrible!" Buffy

"Honestly, I really can't handle almost being killed right now." Buffy
"I don't like the sound of this. They don't sound very ex-demon compatible." Anya
"Are you sure they're English? I thought English people were gentler than normal people." Tara

"This statue, its removal from Burma is a criminal offence and, when triggered, has the power to melt human eyeballs." Lydia
"In that case, I severely underpriced it." Giles

"Customers, please bring your money back!" Anya

"You all stand around and look somber. Good job." Giles
"You used to respect us. You used to be one of us." Quentin Travers
"You used to pay me." Giles

"Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins, 20 years old, born on the Fourth of July, and don't think that there weren't jokes about that my whole life, mister, 'cause there were. 'Who's our little patriot?' they'd say when I was younger and, therefore, smaller and shorter than I am now." Anya
"So, you spell it A-n-y-a, then?" Phillip

"I need to know a little bit more about the slayer and about the both of you, your relationship, whatever you can tell me." Nigel
"Our relationship?" Tara
"We're friends." Willow
"Good friends." Tara
"Girlfriends, actually." Willow
"Yes, we're girlfriends." Tara
"We're in love. We're lovers. We're lesbian, gay-type lovers." Willow
"I meant your relationship with the slayer." Nigel
"Just good friends." Tara

"So, you have no special skills or powers or knowledge that you bring to the mix, neither of you?" Phillip
"Just enthusiasm for killing the demons. Go deadness for demons!" Anya

"If I wanted to fight, you could tell by the being dead already." Glory

"I like her! She's sassy! And I'll kill her. I'll kill your mom. I'll kill your friends, and I'll make you watch when I do. Just give me the key. You either have it or you know where to find it. Obviously, this is a one-time-only deal. Next time we meet, something you love dies bloody. You know you can't take me. You know you can't stop me." Glory

"I love what you neglected to do with the place." Joyce
"Just don't break anything. Don't make a lot of noise. Passions is coming on." Spike
"Passions? Oh, do you think Timmy's really dead?" Joyce
"Oh, no, no, she can just sew him back together. He's a doll for God's sake." Spike

"If they deport him, they're not just destroying his career. They're condemning the man to a lifetime diet of blood sausage, bangers, and mash." Xander

"No review, no interrogation, no questions you know I can't answer. No hoops, no jumps, no interruptions. See, I've had a lot of people talking at me the last few days. Everyone just lining up to tell me how unimportant I am, and I finally figured out why: power. I have it; they don't. This bothers them. Glory came to my home today..." Buffy
"Buffy, are you..." Giles
"Just to talk. She told me I'm a bug. I'm a flea. She could squash me in a second. Only she didn't. She came into my home, and we talked. We had what, in her warped brain, probably passes for civilized conversation. Why? Because she needs something from me, because I have power over her. You guys didn't come all the way from England to determine whether or not I was good enough to be let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in, to give your jobs, your lives, some semblance of meaning." Buffy
"This is beyond insolance." Nigel
"[Throws sword at him] I'm fairly certain I said no interruptions." Buffy
"That was excellent." Xander
"You're watchers. Without a slayer, you're pretty much just watching Masterpiece Theater. You can't stop Glory. You can't do anything with the information you have except maybe publish it in the Everyone Thinks We're Insaneos Home Journal, so here's how it's gonna work. You're gonna tell me everything you know. Then, you're gonna go away. You'll contact me if and when you have any further information about Glory. The magic shop will remain open. Mr. Giles will stay here as my official watcher, reinstated at full salary..." Buffy
"[Cough] retroactive." Giles
"... to be paid retroactively from the month he was fired. I will continue my work with the help of my friends." Buffy
"I don't want a sword thrown at me, but civilians... we're talking about children." Lydia
"We're talking about two very powerful witches and a thousand-year-old ex-demon." Buffy
"Willow's a demon?!?" Anya
"The boy, no power there." Phillip
"'The boy' has clocked more field time than all of you combined. He's part of the unit." Buffy
"That's Riley-speak." Willow
"I've clocked field time." Xander
"Now, you all may be very good at your jobs. They only way we're gonna find out is if you work with me. You can all take your time thinking about that, but I want an answer right now from Quentin, 'cause I think he's understanding me." Buffy
"Your terms are acceptable." Quentin Travers

"Glory isn't a demon." Quentin Travers
"What is she?" Buffy
"She's a god." Quentin Travers


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Willow Gay References

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