Home page All episodes sorted by rank All episodes sorted alphabetically All episodes sorted by writer All episodes sorted by director All episodes sorted by season Episodes with the most polarized opinions Episodes largely forgotten by fans Best and worst streaks of episodes An analysis of what makes episodes great Buffy writers sorted by the quality of their episodes Buffy directors sorted by the quality of their episodes Seasons of Buffy sorted by the quality of their episodes Buffy characters sorted by their possible contribution to episode quality Predicted episode quality based on writer, director, characters, and when aired Episodes that are much better or much worse than predicted Tastes in episodes Episodes ranked by taste Seasons ranked by taste Characters ranked by taste Writers ranked by taste Directors ranked by taste How the results on this site were obtained Ranking important contributors Reviews and Essays Frequently Asked Questions The links page Go to the sitemap

SPIRAL (ep #5.20)

(a.k.a. Winnebagocoach)

Written by: Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by: James A. Contner
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
Wade Andrew Williams as
Karim Prince as Dante Chevalier
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Co-Starring: Justin Gorence as Orlando
Lily Knight as Gronx
Todd Duffey as Murk
Jack Donner as Cleric #1
Bob Morrisey as Crazy #1
Paul Bates as Crazy #2
Carl J. Johnson as Crazy #3
Mary Sheldon as Nurse

Plot Summary

The Knights of Byzantium chased the characters as they attempted to flee Glory in a motor home.

Plot Details

The episode opened where "Tough Love" left off. Glory arrived and found out that Dawn was the key. Buffy and Dawn fled out the door while Willow used magic to hold Glory back. Buffy and Dawn made it to a road before Glory caught up to them. Glory was about to finish them off when a truck that never bothered to swerve or even slow down slammed into Glory. Buffy and Dawn escaped as Glory switched into Ben.

Dawn was in Xander's apartment telling Xander, Giles, Anya, Willow, Tara, and Buffy a reasonably accurate version of how they escaped, only neglecting the fact that they received considerable assistance from a truck. Buffy knew that they were not safe for long. Anya suggested dropping a piano on Glory, but not everyone thought that it was a good idea. Buffy realized that there was no way that they were going to defeat Glory through a fight. She proposed running away.

At Glory's mansion, a minion was quite upset at the condition of Glory's outfit after the truck collision. Ben was frustrated to share a body with Glory and hinted that he might do something if he managed to get a hold of the key before Glory did.

Giles, Willow, Xander, Anya, and Tara waited at a bus stop for a vehicle for them to escape in. They were not happy to see a motor home pull up and were even less enthusiastic about Spike driving. Buffy, however, insisted that Spike is part of the group.

Meanwhile, Dante and another person were in the hospital to pick up Orlando. The three of them met up with General Gregor of the Knights of Byzantium. The general was excited to hear from Orlando that he had seen the key and it was a little girl. Greegor called to about 30 people wearing chainmail and carrying medieval weapons to advance.

Things were tense in the motor home. Xander fought a bad case of motion sickness. There was a debate on whether it was OK to ask if they were there yet when they did not know where there was. Tara made a pass at Dawn, much to Willow's frustration. Tara decided that she wanted to let some sunshine in, which burnt Spike's hands. Tara was in tears when Willow corrected her and closed the blinds, but Spike, probably remembering similar instances with Drusilla, was very understanding.

Dawn went into the back room to thank Buffy for all that she did for Dawn. Dawn said that there was no way things could get weirder. Just then, an arrow flew into the room. It appeared that the Knights of Byzantium found them and were on the attack.

Tara was happy to see "horsies." The others were busy dodging arrows and swords thrust through the roof. Spike managed to grab a blade long enough for Buffy to go on the roof and toss the Knight off. Another Knight crashed through the window, but Anya managed to fight him off with a cast iron frying pan.

Eventually, Buffy tossed the last Knight off the motor home. One final Knight charged from the front and threw a spear into the motor home, hitting Giles in the gut. He lost control of the motor home, which eventually fell on its right side.

The characters made their way to an abandoned gas station. While figuring out what to do, flaming arrows entered the room. Taking a page from Willow and Tara in "Hush," Buffy and Spike moved something heavy to block the door rather than the usual pillows. Several Knights managed to make their way into the station before Willow was able to cast a spell to keep the rest out. A couple of them were now prisoners, including General Gregor.

While a couple of clerics tried to break Willow's barrier, Buffy interrogated the general. Tara interrupted by screaming "time." Meanwhile, the crazies in Sunnydale Hospital also chanted "time" as they broke their restraints and marched out of the hospital.

Buffy apologized to Giles for getting him in this mess, but Giles said that he was proud of her. Buffy decided that she wanted to get medical help for him, so she and Xander went to Dante to ask permission. Dante was not inclined to do so until Xander mentioned that they had the general as a prisoner.

Willow started up a telephone that Buffy used to call Ben. He was not happy to see the Knights of Byzantium out there, but he still went in and helped to stabilize Giles. Xander went in back and helped Spike light a cigarette. They argued over strategy with Spike wanting to make a break for it and Xander wanting something else.

Buffy sent them away. General Gregor commented on the morale problem. He must have known that Giles was too injured to give the exposition, because he did so instead. Glory and two other hell gods ruled equally until Glory grew too powerful and evil. The other two ganged up on her and sent her to this dimension to live and die in a human body. Nobody else, except the audience, knew who held Glory in his body.

Nobody knew how the key was created. All that was known was that it was very powerful. The Knights wanted to destroy it, but monks found it first and decided to convert it into a force for good. The key opens barriers between dimensions, which would allow Glory to return to her home. Although sending Glory home did not sound like a bad thing, the process would create a whole lot of destruction.

Gregor realized that Ben was not part of the group and tried to get him to take out Dawn. We were led to believe that Ben was going to do so, but he simply injected something into Giles. He then realized that Glory was coming and started to panic. Willow was about to let him out, but it was too late.

Glory was happy that Ben led her to Dawn. She was also happy to kill General Gregor. Spike, Xander, and Buffy tried to attack, but nobody did much good. Glory grabbed Dawn, punched through Willow's barrier, and attacked the Knights. By the time Willow was able to lower the barrier, Glory had killed or mortally wounded the Knights and disappeared with Dawn. Willow wanted to go after Glory, but Buffy collapsed into a catatonic state.

The Good

I understand that the Knights of Byzantium were very silly and that a fair amount of the plot was illogical (see Imponderables below). However, this episode is a lot of fun and I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters.

Although I would not want Tara to remain brain sucked permanently, I do enjoy this new Tara. Amber Benson did a very good job, and I suspect that she has been receiving crying lessons from Alyson Hannigan.

The Bad

It is my understanding that the Knights of Byzantium were once to be called the "Order of the Cruciform Sword." Someone on the writing staff called them the "Order of the Cruciform Ducks." Ever since then, nobody on the staff could take them seriously. This showed up in the show. It is impossible to take them seriously.

Overall Rank: 32

Action: 9

Buffy and Dawn fled Glory until a truck hit Glory.

The Knights of Byzantium attacked the motor home.

Later, the Knights assaulted the abandoned gas station.

Glory slaughtered the Knights, mostly off camera.

Comedy: 2

Anya suggest that a piano might be an effective weapon against Glory.

Brain-sucked Tara provided a light moment or two.

Drama: 7

Willow had to manage a brain-sucked Tara.

Dawn was grateful for everything that Buffy did for her.

Giles was near death.

Romance: 2

One of Glory's minions is very attracted to Ben.

Brain-sucked Tara was attracted to Dawn.

Character Development: 6

Anya has difficulty telling the difference between cartoons and reality.

Xander has a Sgt. Rock obsession. He appeared to respect what Spike did for them during the fight.

Tara might have a latent attraction to Dawn.

Spike was very understanding of Tara exposing him to sunlight. After all, who in that group would better understand what it was like to love an insane woman.

Dawn has grown to appreciate and admire her sister.

Willow has grown very powerful in her magical abilities.

Importance: 8

Glory now has Dawn.

The other characters have seen Ben transform into Glory. It is an open question whether they remember this.

Buffy is catatonic.

Most Valuable Player: Glory

Willow fought hard for this award. Her invisible barrier helped keep the other characters safe from the Nutcases Knights of Byzantium. However, like Tara in "Tough Love," Willow went up against a god. Glory took the key and, with her, the MVP. Buffy and Spike deserve credit for their actions during the battle in the motor home.

Sherlock Holmes Award: General Gregor

This was not a good episode for figuring things out. General Gregor gave the exposition, so he will get this award.

Goat of the Week: General Gregor

Giles was asking for the Goat through his incompetent driving. As I mentioned in the Imponderables section, he easily should have outrun the Knights of Byzantium. Ben also should have known better than to get anywhere near Dawn out of the risk of turning into Glory at an inopportune moment. However, Gregor gets the Goat for leading such a silly organization. They were hardly low-profile, and they simply helped attract attention to the key. Had they not done so, the characters might have escaped.


Secretariat, arguably the fastest race horse in American history, could probably hit 40 miles an hour (64 kilometers per hour) at the most. Furthermore, he probably could not keep up that pace for more than a mile or two (1.6-3.2 kilometers) and only when carrying no more than 120 pounds (55 kilograms). The motor home should easily be able to drive at twice that speed. There should not have been any way that ordinary horses carrying full-sized humans wearing armor could have caught up to the motor home. Instead, the knights should have been in front of the motor home, like the last Knight with the spear. Therefore, the motor home would have caught up with the Knights. Lacking any possibility to turn around, Giles's only choice would have been to drive straight through them.

Memorable Dialogue

"All of a sudden, Glory's standing right there in front of us, all skanky and blonde and thinking she's all that just because some bumpy heads kiss her stinky feet—She does have nice feet—and she's coming right as us and Buffy's just standing there, not even blinking like 'bring it on,' and wham, hellbitch in orbit." Dawn

"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." Anya
"Yes, or perhaps we could paint a convincing tunnel on the side of a mountain." Giles

"No one can stand against Her Blindingly Scrumptious Luminescence." Gronx

"You know why I wanted to become a doctor?" Ben
"Flattering drawstring pants?" Gronx

"So pretty, can I have one?" Tara

"No biggie. Look, the skin's already stopped smoking. You go ahead and play peek-a-boo with Mr. Sunshine all you like. It keeps the ride from getting boring." Spike

"You're not fleeing. You're moving at a brisk pace." Dawn
"Quaintly referred to in some cultures as the big scaredy runaway." Buffy

"At least things can't get any crazier, right?" Dawn
[An arrow shoots through the room.] "You know this is your fault for saying that?" Buffy

"Don't hit the horsies!" Willow
"We won't. [to Giles] Aim for the horsies." Buffy

"I mention today how much I don't like you?" Xander
"Might have let it slip in once or twice." Spike

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Buffy and the Law

Strictly the Caucasian Persuasion

Giles Unconscious

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 December 1, 2012