March 18, 2023

Buffy 5.5, No Place Like Home: Pull the Curtain Back

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Glory may hate a lot of things about the world, but she certainly doesn’t hate fashion

Summary: Two months ago: Some monks are running around a very old church, racing to do a ritual to protect something they call a key. As they’re chanting, someone or something pounds on a door, trying to break it down. Just as they finish their ritual, the door is busted down.

Now: Buffy’s fighting a vampire outside an abandoned factory. After she slays him, she runs into a security guard who tells her that if she’s looking for a rave, she’s in the wrong place. He finds a glowing orb on the ground and thinks it belongs to her. It didn’t before, but it does now.

The next morning, Buffy makes breakfast for Joyce, wanting to keep taking care of her after her health scare. Dawn takes credit for the gesture. Joyce is still having headaches, even though the doctors told her they would go away. She’ll have to go back for more tests. Buffy is eager to figure out what’s going on, but Joyce doesn’t seem worried. She thinks her daughters should relax and let her be the mom.

Joyce brings back one of Dawn’s old nicknames, “my little pumpkin belly,” and Buffy asks if she ever got any weird nicknames. “I got some names for ya,” Dawn says. Heh. Joyce sends Buffy to the Magic Box for Giles’ grand reopening. She and Dawn will be having a meeting of their book club tonight. Buffy tries but fails to hide her jealousy that her sister and mother have such a close relationship.

The sisters head to the Magic Box, where Giles has dressed up as a wizard for the grand reopening. Buffy doesn’t approve. The place looks great but no customers have come in. He thinks business will eventually be good, though. Buffy tells him that Joyce is still sick and the doctors haven’t figured anything out. Giles is optimistic about that, too.

Willow and Riley come in next, and Buffy shows them the glowing orb. Giles think it’s paranormal based solely on its shininess. Riley offers to go patrolling with Buffy that night, but Dawn blurts out that Buffy said it would be easier if she didn’t have to look out for him. Dawn can relate, since Buffy never lets her go on patrol, either.

As Buffy’s about to leave with Dawn, Willow asks her to go easy on her sister. Buffy complains that Dawn is even more annoying than usual. Buffy has to be the adult and take care of both Dawn and Joyce instead of being her mother’s little pumpkin belly. Willow reminds her that Dawn is the youngest and the baby; maybe Joyce needs that right now. Buffy admits that she wishes she were an only child.

The sisters go home and find Joyce lying down with another headache. Buffy immediately wants to take her back to the doctor. Joyce asks her to fill a prescription instead. Buffy does, and as she’s leaving the hospital with it, she runs into Ben, Joyce’s doctor. He’s with a patient who’s agitated and doesn’t seem mentally stable. Buffy uses her Slayer strength to help restrain him. Ben jokes that her strength must come from a radioactive spider bite.

The patient grabs the hand Buffy’s holding Joyce’s pills in and says that they won’t make any difference. Buffy recognizes him as the security guard who found her outside the factory. She tells Ben that he’s not crazy, despite how he’s acting right now. “They’re coming at you,” the guard warns her. “Don’t think you’re above it, missy. They come through the family. They get to your family.” She’d like more information on that, but Ben sends him off for treatment. Buffy tells him that Joyce will be better soon – she’s starting to figure out what’s wrong.

In the factory where Buffy fought the vampire, one of the monks from the opening is looking at a map. Someone or something pounds on the door, and the monk calls it the beast. This beast is more of a beauty, though – when the door comes down, a blond woman in a red dress walks through. She’s happy to have found the monk, as she’s been looking all over for him.

Giles makes his first sale at the Magic Box and adorably expresses his excitement to Willow. There are other customers looking around, so chances are that won’t be the only sale of the day. Well, if Anya keeps her mouth shut – when she comes in, she announces that Giles’ conjuring powder is really overpriced. She apologizes, saying she’s bitter because she’s running out of money. (As a vengeance demon, she never had to buy things, so she’s not used to budgeting.) She tells Giles he’s getting ripped off and she can connect him with the troll who sheds the powder.

Buffy comes in to tell Giles that she thinks she knows why Joyce is sick. It’s supernatural. The guard who found the glowing orb went crazy overnight. Giles, Anya, and Willow all hilariously back away from it at the same time. Buffy doesn’t think it’ll hurt them, though, since she had it with her all night and is fine. She thinks the guard can see things that no one else can. Someone’s hurting Joyce to get to Buffy. Giles isn’t sure they should go off of what a crazy guy said, but Buffy figures it’s a good place to start.

The blond woman, who we’ll later learn is named Glory, has tied up the monk at the factory. She doesn’t want to be there – “there” as in “the whole mortal coil” – and everything disgusts her. She thinks the monk has been selfish. She just wants the key, and all he has to do is tell her where it is. Glory is going a little crazy trying to get answers. Instead of telling her anything, the monk invites her to kill him.

Glory wishes that the monk could feel what she’s feeling right now. She’s captured another guard, and he thinks she’s on drugs. He asks to be spared because he has a wife and two kids. Glory ignores him and begs the monk again to tell her where the key is. She feels like he’s torturing her. She starts ranting, as if she’s crazier than the guard at the hospital. Then she sticks her fingers in this guard’s head until she feels better.

Willow and Anya are helping Giles at the Magic Box, which is now full of customers. When Xander comes in, Giles whimpers that there are too many people and they all want stuff. “I hear ya. Stay British,” Xander replies. He goes to the cash register, where Anya needs some work on her customer-relations skills, as she sends someone off after a sale with, “Please go.” When Xander advises her to say, “Have a nice day” instead, she doesn’t get why: “I have their money. Who cares what kind of day they have?” He tells her it’s “a long cultural tradition of raging insincerity. Embrace it.”

As Willow struggles to wrap something pretty unwrappable, Buffy tells Xander that someone put a spell on Joyce to make her sick. She hasn’t made any progress figuring out who it was. Anya and Giles know of a French sorcerer who could do a spell that translates to “pull the curtain back.” It was basically a trance that let people see spells. Spells leave traces, so this “pull the curtain back” spell could let Buffy see what’s affecting Joyce. Willow and Giles don’t think Buffy could handle what it requires, but she says she’ll do whatever it takes.

She enlists Riley to help her, which gives him something to do while he’s not allowed to patrol. He claims he’s fine being normal again. He suggests that instead of Buffy taking care of him, they can take care of each other. Then he ditches her to do the trance on her own. Okay, that seems like a bad idea. Never go hiking alone, and never go into a magical trance alone, especially when you’ve never done it before.

Buffy can’t get the trance started because Dawn won’t leave her alone. She guesses that Buffy’s doing magic and begs to be allowed to watch. When she gets rejected, she threatens to tell Joyce. Oh, is there a rule about magic not being allowed in the house? Doubtful. Buffy finally gets rid of Dawn, and after a while, she gets her trance going. She goes looking for spell traces in the house but doesn’t see anything.

There’s nothing around Joyce, either. In fact, Joyce is feeling a lot better. But while Buffy’s talking to her, she notices something strange about a photo behind her: It’s of Joyce, Dawn, and Buffy, but Dawn keeps flickering in and out. The same thing happens in another photo of the three of them. Buffy goes to Dawn’s room, seeing it both as her sister’s bedroom and as a room for Joyce’s art storage. When Dawn finds her there, she flickers in and out as well. “You’re not my sister,” Buffy says.

As the trance ends, Buffy grabs Dawn and demands to know what she is. She orders Dawn to stay away from Joyce. Giles calls to tell Buffy that the Scoobies have finally discovered something about the orb. It’s called a Dagon Sphere, and it’s a protective device used to ward off ancient evil. There’s no info on what that evil looks like, and accounts are pretty vague. The Dagon Sphere was made to “repel that which cannot be named.”

Buffy decides to go back to the factory. Giles warns her to be very careful – anything that isn’t named is usually the subject of worship or fear, sometimes both. He asks about the trance and Buffy starts to tell him about Dawn. But Dawn’s in the room, so she says that the trance didn’t work. Buffy heads out on Slayer business (I guess Dawn’s allowed to stay home alone now), saying she’ll be home before Joyce gets back.

On her way out, Buffy senses someone around and yanks Spike out of the shadows. She punches him and demands to know what he’s doing there in five words or less. “Out for a walk,” he replies, counting his words. When he realizes he has one left, he adds, “B&^$%.” Buffy calls him William and says she doesn’t have time for him. He claims he’s just passing by on his way somewhere else. Also, he never really liked her, and she has stupid hair. Ohhh, someone’s still feeling the effects of his make-out dream! Dawn watches from a window as Buffy sees a bunch of cigarette butts on the ground, indicting that Spike was there for a while.

Buffy returns to the factory and sees the door Glory broke down. Joyce gets home, where Dawn greets her with some tea. She says Joyce doesn’t need to worry about Buffy. Buffy finds the monk and guesses that he’s the one who planted the Dagon Sphere. Glory sneaks up on her, but Buffy can sense her coming. She thinks she’s pretty capable of defeating Glory, but when Glory throws her into a wall and breaks it, Buffy realizes she’ll need to reconsider that.

The workday is done and the Scoobies are exhausted from serving customers all day. Well, except for Anya, who’s invigorated and has lots of ideas for how Giles can make even more money. He offers her a job and she happily accepts. Glory keeps throwing Buffy around at the factory, planning to beat her to death, even though it’s going to take up a lot of her precious time. She wonders if ripping Buffy in half will give her two Buffys.

Buffy fights back and Glory objects. She realizes that Buffy has superpowers and wonders if she can fly. If sliding across the floor after being thrown counts as flying, then yes. Buffy gets that she’s not going to win this one, so she grabs the monk and jumps out a window with him. Glory’s less upset about that than she is about one of her shoes breaking. She stomps on the ground, which shakes the building so much that it collapses.

Outside, the monk thinks he’s dying, so he tells Buffy that she needs to protect the key. If she doesn’t, a lot of people will die. He explains that the key is energy – a portal. Like a typical key, it opens a door. Buffy thinks he means the Dagon Sphere. The monk says that the key had no form for centuries. The monks protected it until “the abomination” found them and they had to hide it. They made it human and sent it to Buffy. Buffy realizes that Dawn is the key.

She’s upset that the monks put something in her house and messed with her and Joyce’s memories. She demands that he reverse everything. The monk tells her she can’t get out of this. Buffy asks what Dawn is, exactly. The monk says she’s human now. She’s helpless and is an innocent. Buffy needs to protect her. She may know that Dawn isn’t her sister, but Dawn is clueless about that. The monk dies, leaving Buffy with a million unanswered questions

She goes home and finds Joyce and Dawn cuddling on the couch. Dawn leaves the room, anticipating that Buffy will accuse her of bothering Joyce. Buffy tells Joyce they’re just dealing with “sister stuff.” She apologizes to Dawn for their fight, and Dawn shares her theory that Buffy isn’t really her sister – Joyce adopted her from a shoebox full of howler monkeys. Buffy complains that Dawn can’t take an apology. She’s never been able to. Dawn’s still a little mad, but she’s also scared for Joyce. Buffy has to admit that she doesn’t know what’s wrong with their mother.

Thoughts: I wonder if the first part of the season would have been better if we hadn’t been told right away that Dawn was the key. They could have let us be detectives for a little while.

“No Place Like Home” seems like a weak title until you realize that it and “pull the curtain back” are both Wizard of Oz references. Oh, and Giles dressed up as a wizard! It’s like a whole theme!

Speaking of which, here’s the Buffy/Wizard Giles scene, which is too good not to share.

Dawn, knocking on Buffy’s door: “What are you doing?” Buffy: “My boyfriend.” Ha!

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