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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 5 Episodes 8 – 9

April 26, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 5-09 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Cobra Commander: A BTVS Retrospective, S5 E8-9


Episode 8

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

After Buffy and Spike had a sentimental evening sitting on her front stoop last episode, we move on now to Mom’s CAT scan. Buffy and Dawn are out in the waiting room while the test is underway.

Want to know how old this show is? Giles and the team is happy he put an advertisement IN THE YELLOW PAGES. That’s as old of a reference as those commercials that ended with a blue screen with phone numbers and shipping information and a narrator telling you “Supplies are limited; order yours today!”.

Elsewhere with the Scoobies, Potato Chip Boy is pouting that Riley blew up the vampires instead of waiting until morning like they had planned. What’s it matter? The vamps are dead either way! Giles distracts the team by asking for help finding Red Dress Lady. They anticipate this ancient evil living somewhere dark and dank…

So of course we cut to a very upscale apartment where we VERY THANKFULLY find out that Red Dress Lady Who Hasn’t Worn A Red Dress In A While goes by the name of Glory, which is so, so much easier to type out. She has some low-level bootlicker demon bringing her an incantation, but it turns out she needs other magical items to fulfill her spell. Lucky for her, the reopened magic shop is advertising in the Yellow Pages!

Why is Glory browsing the Yellow Pages? Well, you see, kids, the Yellow Pages were… you know what? I actually have no idea. Carry on.

Riley heads to Buffy’s but finds only Spike, smelling Buffy’s clothes. Riley goes to kick him out, and Spike grabs a pair of panties for the commute home. Classy. Harmony ought to love that.

Spike starts taunting Riley that Buffy has never uninvited him to her home, and he spills the beans that the whole family is at the hospital, but no one bothered to tell Buffy’s boyfriend about the surgery.

When Riley meets Buffy at the local medical facility, mom is preparing for a biopsy because the CAT scan turned up a shadow on her brain. Have the doctors watched this show to this point? That shadow IS her brain! BOOM! “Mom is stupid” joke! Still got it.

With the team studying away to try to figure out who the primordial evil setting up shop in SunnyDale its, Glory herself walks in and buys the rest of the items she needs for her spell. Giles, not knowing any better, happily sells them to her.

Again to the hospital now! The doctor tells Buffy that Mom has a brain tumor that may or may not one operable. He tells Buffy that in 33% of these kinds of cases, the patient is absolutely fine. Those are not the odds a family member wants to hear, Doc BedsideManner! You don’t mention the odds if they are under, what, 66%? You just say “Oh, there’s a good chance” and leave it at that!

Nurse Ben comes up to comfort Buffy, and I muse aloud “Why is this show shoving this Ben guy down our throats? What’s up with him?”. My wife responds “Do you really want to know?”, and I throw my arms up and go “NO, I GUESS NOT.” Keep your spoilers.

This being one of those whiplash episodes, we go BACK TO THE SHOP, where Anya is going through the day’s receipts when she realizes what Glory bought. She scolds Giles for selling the two items together because they can be used for nefarious means; Giles realizes the lady he sold them to must have been Glory.

But, uh, he doesn’t know that name. So he just knows it is the Ancient Evil.

Riley distracts Dawn by taking her to a merry-go-round, and Dawn tells a story of a birthday party she had there. And if you think I am recounting that story, you have far too much faith in these reviews! Dawn then talks about how Angel used to make Buffy cry, and she basically gives Riley the “But she isn’t with a dangerous bad boy anymore; she is with safe little old you”. Which a dude over 30 would be thrilled to hear, but 20-something Riley’s penis shrunk three sizes this day upon hearing this. Oh, the plight of a 20-something male with Nice Guy syndrome. Wait till that neckbeard grows in.

Buffy wants the team to work on a healing spell for mom, but they can’t because the plot won’t allow it. It’s like how Reed Richards can work literal magic with science, but he can’t turn Ben Grimm back into a human being. So they tell her about Glory purchasing items for evil instead. Uh, the Scoobies tell her that. Not the Fantastic Four.

Glory and her minion are at the zoo, and they snatch a cobra from its enclosure before starting the incantation and tossing it into a jar with the items they purchased with legal U.S. tender. Buffy interrupts their proceedings, and Glory just absolutely whips her ass around the reptile hall.

We move now live to a PlayStation 2 cut scene for footage of the cobra transmogrifying into a… bigger cobra with tiny arms. Glory orders it to find The Key and bring the information back to her. A defeated Buffy sneaks away while Glory talks to her new pet.

After a phone call to Giles asking him to keep Dawn safe, we get a Sad Music Montage. Dawn is at the magic shop. Buffy is at the hospital. Riley is at the bar. He lets a vamp pick him up, take him outside, and feed off of him, but then he kills her. Your feelings and reactions to them are confusing to me, Riley!

Buffy comes to the magic shop to check on Dawn, and that’s when the cobra busts in. The cobra looks at Dawn with its special eyes and knows she is The Key. It slithers off to tell Glory, and Buffy gives chase!

Giles picks up Buffy in his car and they zoom after the cobra with just some of those classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer special effects that… are. Buffy eventually chases the cobra down and the two get into a ruckus where the effects somehow get even worse! Finally, she MurderDeathKills the beast just yards from Glory’s apartment.

In our epilogue, Mom is finally ready to tell Dawn the full story about having a tumor. Riley, in a fashionable and not-at-all conspicuous turtleneck, rolls in. He is about to give Buffy some Safety Guy comfort, but she gets called away, leaving him all alone.

Episode 9

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

We open this episode with Buffy and Dawn chilling in the hospital with their mom. Her doctor comes in sand explains her surgery to remove her tumor is in two more days. Buffy notes she will stay with mom, as the rest of the team has hunting under control.

So we cut to Giles, Xander, and Willow facing down two vampires. Xander and Giles are effectively worthless here, but Willow stakes both of them. Uh, the vampires; not Giles and Xander. The gang gets upset because Riley was supposed to be out hunting with them.

And then we cut again, now to Riley at to see him in a seedy part of town, letting a vampire lady feed off of his arm. Well, this is a gripping development for a character after someone said he was a nice guy. I suppose we’ll check back in on this later since Riley is relevant in this whole episode…

Or not. Whichever.

An overexcited Willow visits the Summers family at the hospital. She bought mom a beer holder hat, and she got a junior spellbook for Dawn. Mom spouts off some nonsense words due to the tumor pressing on her brain, then decides she needs to rest. Here’s the thing: nonsense words aren’t much different from what Mom usually says. So who can even tell something is wrong?

Anyway, as the girls are leaving, a patient struggling with mental health issues sees Dawn and recognizes she is not natural. Because the mentally unwell are magical, you know? Nurse Ben shows up and shuffles the gentlemen onto his family.

That night, we get a romantic nighttime setting of Willow and Tara looking up at the sky. They are creating their own constellations because Tara doesn’t know any, and that’s… a witch that doesn’t know astrology? Does that seem like it doesn’t track to anyone else?

Anyway, they see a shooting star soar through the sky… and crash land nearby!

The patient from earlier—the one with the magic eyes due to his condition—is roaming through the woods alone, despite the fact that Ben told us that he required 24/7 care and was being remanded to his family’s care so the hospital can make more room. Is that more irresponsible of the hospital or the family at that point? WHY IS THIS GUY IN THE WOODS? This is why you can’t trust family members to provide care for people that should be in facilities!

Where was I? Oh yeah, so that guy gets set upon by a monster and dies.

We see now that the monster looks like a walrus for some reason, and he is heading to the hospital. Inside, Mom is incredibly agitated and does not want to stay there any longer! She wants to go home and rest where she is comfortable before her surgery. Buffy volunteers to look after Mom at home, and the doc gives her medication and instructions for care.

Riley and the rest of the Scoobies head into the woods to investigate the meteorite because, you know, a meteor landed in the middle of SunnyDale and literally no news crews or scientists or cops or anything  else is out to check on it.

After figuring out that something came either out of or off of the space rock, they find the patient’s body in the woods and Willow recognizes him from earlier. Riley finds a pungent black substance in his throat. The team heads off to do some studying, but Riley stays behind and makes a call to his former Initiative buddies.

Back at the hospital, we see the inside of the mental ward, and I anticipate this will be the height of sensitivity. We focus on one man in particular panicking as the SPACE WALRUS pukes on his face.

Afterwards, the SPACE WALRUS sees The Summers family leaving the hospital.

Mom gets home where she inexplicably turns into a Mogwai and freaks out about the lights being bright. The daughters go around the house and shut off all of the lights for her. Hopefully they don’t feed her after midnight; I can’t imagine the gremlin version of Momma Summers.

Back at the meteorite, the entire population of SunnyDale continues to ignore the fact that a PIECE OF SPACE JUST LANDED IN THEIR WOODS. But Riley’s buddies show up in their chopper. They decide to follow the gamma radiation trail to see where the monster that came from the meteorite went.

At this point, my wife says to me, “Gamma radiation. That’s what made The Hulk, right?”. When I confirm she is correct, she orders me to put this in the article to show off that she knew that. She was very proud.

At Buffy’s home, we see SPACE WALRUS skulking about and keeping its eye on them all. Mom comes downstairs and starts trying to cook food. Buffy asks what the heck she is doing, and mom calls her fat, haha. Buffy and Dawn get her back to bed, and Mom goes nuts on Dawn, accusing her of not being real again.

Dawn and Buffy talk, and after, like, 15 people this season have yelled at her that she isn’t real, Dawn is starting to suspect something is amiss. Buffy covers everything up and says hey, you know… crazy people is crazy. Dawn is temporarily placated.

The research team at Giles’ is pretty annoyingly nonplussed about the idea that a monster just came FROM SPACE. Giles even just blows it off as something like demons come to Earth all kinds of ways. Xander finds something about ancient times and people praying to the moon to cure craziness. SPACE WALRUS came from the moon and is out to cure crazy people… by killing them!

Mom is in bed at home, just muttering madness to herself. Buffy, washing dishes, turns on the most repetitive Latin beat on the radio you will ever read. Just…a repeated seven note tune. Over and over. You know, the kind of stuff college kids listen to. She starts crying, and I would, too, if my radio was apparently stuck on that channel! Upstairs, we see mom crazy-talking to the approaching SPACE WALRUS.

This starts our action sequence for the episode, as Dawn sees SPACE WALRUS attacking mom and calls for Buffy. SPACE WALRUS jumps Buffy, and they wrestle for a while until it gets away from her. As Buffy searches the house, she encounters Spike of all people stealing shit from her basement.

Before anything can come of that, SPACE WALRUS strikes back, allowing Buffy to just stab it to death. Riley barges in with his team at that moment and sees Buffy with Spike and the dead SPACE WALRUS. Buffy ignores him to run upstairs and ensure Dawn and Mom are okay.

We FINALLY get the Nurse Ben reveal, hey! Good times. He tells Glory’s minion demon that he summoned the SPACE WALRUS to “clean up Glory’s mess”. Huh. What mess exactly? The plot thickens. Or they’ll drop the line right away. Either/Or.

Back at the hospital now, Mom is feeling a bit better before her surgery, but she remembers the night before. She asks Buffy about Dawn, as she is now sure Dawn is not her actual daughter. Buffy confirms this is all true, and the episode ends with Mom being wheeled into surgery…

It was… really hard to take anything seriously this episode. We get the developing story of mom’s tumor and her impending surgery. We have the continued decline in Riley’s mental state.

But it’s all background noise to the threat of a walrus monster from space.

This is the same show that gave us The Gentlemen.


That’s really inconsistent.