Episode Title: Checkpoint
Original Air Date: January 23 2001
“Sunnydale’s got too many demons and not enough retail outlets.” – Glory
Continuing the upbeat mood of the previous episode “Triangle” this week Buffy and the Scoobies find themselves under the scrutiny of the Watchers Council who have returned to Sunnydale with information on Glory, only they won’t share this information until they have carried out a review of Buffy’s skills to see if she is able to handle it. Considering the fact that the last time the council were in Sunnydale in “Helpless” they pitted Buffy against a psychotic vampire without her Slayer powers, its easy to understand why she is less than thrilled by their reappearance let alone the fact that they might be the only ones capable to finding the information she needs to defeat Glory. Still it’s funny to think that Buffy has officially been free of the Council since way back in Season 3 and while they have been given the occasional passing mention its been assumed that they have just been back in England though doing what its still unclear. Of course this doesn’t stop them steam rolling into Sunnydale lead by Senior Watcher Quentin Travers as they quickly take over the Magic box and start making demands while scrutinising every aspect of Buffy’s life including the Scoobies.
The testing aspect of the plot makes up the main meat of this episode and while at first it appears that the episode is going to be an excruciating watch with the council being comprised seemingly of stuffy English stereotypes whose sole purpose is seemingly to just harass Buffy and the Scoobies as they question every aspect of their lives. Instead what we get is a series of humorous interviews with each of the group which include Willow and Tara being quizzed about not being registered magic users and best of all Anya constantly finding ever more unique ways to cover for her ex-demon status like she is being questioned by the immigration department.
Equally fun is their interview with Spike who it would appear that they are unaware that he is unable to hurt non-demons thanks to his behaviour chip. So here we get the council representatives seemingly holding him at bay with a cross and crossbow while he basically charms the pants off the interviewer. Is this Spike using his vampire powers to enchant her or is it just his legacy that’s working for her? It’s unclear but it’s still fun to see Spike playing things up for a captive audience who don’t just see him as being a pain in the ass like Buffy currently does.
Still Buffy as we all know by now is the kind of of Slayer who has always done things her own way, while Giles played the father figure and generally tried to keep her on the right track. The Council unsurprisingly have their own way which they expect Slayers to hold themselves including Buffy despite the fact that she’s officially not the Slayer when she died (briefly) in the Season one finale and meaning its really a title currently held by the rogue Slayer Faith. This of course doesn’t stop them from expecting Buffy to be able to defend a dummy from an attacker while being blindfolded and taking instructions in Japanese which of course Buffy doesn’t speak. Needless to say this is all just really a distraction on the council’s part while setting the stage for Buffy verbally tearing them a new one and reminding them that they need her a lot more than she needs them.
Despite perhaps being more to the background that I would have liked Glory once again makes her presence known as she starts by recharging her powers by draining the energy of a random mailman before later having a tense verbal showdown with Buffy at her home, which is only heightened by the fact that Glory needs her to find “The Key” still unaware that its Dawn while Buffy equally knows that she is nowhere near strong enough to defeat her yet. The real stinger regarding Glory comes at the end with the episode ending with the reveal that Glory is not a demon but infact a God!
After the rough times of Buffy dealing with her mother’s illness and the breakdown of her relationship with Riley, its refreshing to have these fun and more light spirited episodes which still continue to push the season forward and really for these reasons it remains one of my personal favourites.
Next Episode: Blood Ties