Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 13

Blood Ties

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Feb 06, 2001 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
476 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Buffy finally tells her friends that Dawn is the Key and they start acting strangely when Dawn is around. Dawn figures out that something is wrong and wants the truth. She has seen that crazy people know that she is different, so she goes to the mental ward at the hospital for some answers.moreless

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  • An excellent arc episode which really utilizes Dawn as a metaphor for adoption to its fullest while also proficiently furthering the arc of the season.

    The title, "Blood Ties," refers to the links discovered between Ben and Glory as well as between Dawn and Buffy and how those links affect all of them. This is where the episode focuses its attention. Oh yeah, and Willow teleports Glory into airspace! What could possibly be more exciting!?

    It's Buffy's birthday, so you can count on lots of pain right from the start! At least Dawn has excellent reasons to be very obnoxious and sneaking around this time. The episode picks up shortly after "Checkpoint" ends, with the Scoobies gathered around discussing the new information obtained from the Watcher's Council on Glory. A lot of shows like to skip right past critical information gained in previous episodes, but thankfully not this one. I personally think Buffy was smart to keep Dawn's keyness a secret. The way everyone acts when they know later on proves Buffy was correct. Anya is still amusing though, telling Dawn, "You make a very pretty little girl!" Later on Dawn tells Spike she's badder than him in a very amusing scene. Spike, as usual, twists it around and makes fun of Dawn. She finds out about her key-like nature by breaking into the Magic Box with Spike, which feels oddly fitting.

    All this setup leads to the fantasticly powerful scene with Dawn and the knife. Great acting from a young Michelle Trachtenberg here. The following Dawn bedroom scene is also excellent with a very appropiate response to her situation: "so I've only been alive for six months, huh?" Dawn's first "GET OUT!" triplet is out and is very fitting here. That girl can sure scream though! One little thing to note is that as the gang leaves the house, Giles asks if he should stay. Buffy tells him, "this is a family This just goes to show that while Giles is incredibly close and family-like to Buffy, he is not family. This is an important distinction when recognizing that "The Body" is not far away.

    Joyce tries to help Dawn out and gets a response of "you're not my Adoption metaphor much? This is played very well though. Normal activities become meaningless to Dawn in the light of this kind of life-changing news. Dawn looking at her diary, holding it dear, feeling the pain of the truth, and then burning all of it ring very true. For once I can understand why she's running off outside into possible danger. I like how Spike points out that Dawn probably would have run off even if she hadn't found out, which kind of makes fun of how silly Dawn often is. I'm really pleased to see her use the precarious situation she's in with Glory later to pump Glory for information about just how close she is to finding the key, along with getting information about its origin at the same time. That's one of Dawn's few intelligent moves in the series.

    When Buffy finds out Spike helped Dawn out she really lets him have it for a bit. Spike verbally retaliates leaving Buffy disappointed knowing Spike is actually right. This situation is Buffy's fault, not Spike's: "Oh, yeah, here it comes. Something goes wrong in your life, blame Spike. News flash, blondie. If kid sis wants to grab a midnight stroll, she'll find a way sooner or later. I just thought she'd be safer with big bad looking over her shoulder... Maybe if you had been more honest with her in the first place, you wouldn't be trying to make yourself feel better with a round of Kick The Buffy can only turn around and leave in defeat, and even later admits to Spike that he was right.

    The end of the episode provides a really cool fight scene with Glory, the best since her introduction. I love Willow and Tara's teleportation spell. It's interesting to note just how much it hurt Willow, with Giles even pointing out just how dangerous the spell was. Glory's power has been fueling Willow's desire to increase her power. Although Willow would have gotten to a powerful place eventually, regardless of external forces, the urgency of needing a weapon against Glory is what pushes her to the next level now. It's very hilarious where Glory materializes though!

    So overall I don't have any big complaints with this one. It's a good, solid, entertaining arc episode which does everything it needs to do, and does it very well. We get more information on Ben and Glory, Dawn and the rest of the Scoobies find out about the Key, Willow's power concerns Giles even more as well as beginning to physically hurt her, and Buffy continues to have somewhat amicable conversations with Spike. All in all, I'm quite happy.moreless
  • Dawn realises the truth

    The Good;

    Dawn's ep first and foremost and she really comes into her own here. Very touching scenes, especially with the Summers girls and Dawn's memories, precious to her but she knows they were created. The battle with Glory is also great and I defy anyone to say they knew Ben was Glory?

    The Bad;


    Best line;

    Buffy; "Summer's blood', how important that will be!


    Glory killing the security guard

    Kinky dinky;

    Anya tells the gang about her and Xander playing dress up, I get Xander being a fireman but a shepherd? Spike thinks the only way monks can justify giving up girls is if they're protecting something. Anya says that Xander 'Needs help with his thing'. More Glory-Buffy-Dawn subtext with Dawn saying that Glory is prettier than Buffy. Glory thinks that knights have a 'fear of intimacy'. Buffy likes her presents 'more frilly, less killy' with a girly dress. Giles apparently has 'one just like it'. Spike refers to Dawn as a 'hormone bomb' and Glory as a 'skank'.

    Captain Subtext;

    Dawn self-harms, once again Buffy using a magical metaphor for a very real and serious social problem. Anya thinks Dawn is very pretty. The little look that Buffy and Joyce share when she hugs Dawn at the party is priceless. Buffy intends to start a new tradition of 'birthdays without boyfriends' which Tara and Willow approve off. Spike paints his nails. When looking for Dawn Buffy and Spike patrol together for the first time.

    More Glory-Buffy-Dawn; Glory changes in front of Dawn. She wonders if Ben is being 'naughty' with Dawn? (Yeesh! But she is a hellgod so we shouldn't be suprised). She strokes Dawn's hair (in the same way Joyce and Buffy do) but then spanks her breasts and hauls her away. She also refers to Dawn as a 'fox' and 'sugar and spice' and asks if Ben was giving her a look at 'Glory's unmentionables'? She likes Buffy's shoes. She refers to Spike as Buffy's boyfriend which she's almost too quick to deny.

    Guantanamo Bay;

    Glory tortures the Knight

    Scoobies to the ER;

    Buffy get's stabbed with the crowbar but seem ok.

    Apocalypses; 5,

    Scoobies in bondage:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Xander; 1

    Dawn; 1

    Scoobies knocked out:

    Buffy: 16

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1



    Buffy: 94 vamps, 32 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 6 vamps

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 5 vamps, 2 zombies, a demon, a demon

    Anya: a demon

    Riley; 18 vamps + 7 demons

    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 3

    Alternate scoobies:

    Buffy: 6

    Giles: 3

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 3

    Recurring characters killed: 9

    Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh, Forrest, McNamara

    Sunnydale deaths; the poor security guard, they're Buffy's equivalent of Star Treks redshirts


    Total number of scoobies: 6

    Giles, Xander, Willow, Buffy, Anya, Tara,

    Xander demon magnet: 5(6?)

    Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?), Dracula?

    Scoobies shot:

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4

    Riley; 1

    Notches on Scooby bedpost:

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny and 3xDraccy babes?

    Cordy: 1?

    Buffy: 3 confirmed; Angel, Parker,Riley, 1 possible, Dracula(?)

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Joyce: 1;Giles, 2 possible, Ted and Dracula(?)

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara

    Riley; 3; Buffy, Sandy and unnamed vampwhore

    Questions and observations;

    Another disasterous Buffy birthday, if I was her I'd just stay in bed all day when it comes around. Also the beginning of the Spike/Dawn relationship. The Scoobs finally learn the truth about Dawn. So who are the other Hellgods from Glory's dimension? WR&H? Why not just pack Dawn off to Europe so that Glory can't find her? Or will Glory's minions/The Knights track her mystically?

    The Knights can easily beat Glory's minions but are not match for herself. Dawn has a photo from her and Buffy's holiday with their dad, the monks really do a full service job. The chocs Spike brings Buffy are the same ones he bashed the mannequin over the head with, cheap and stalkery! Dawn's burglary of the Magic Shop foretells her shoplifting. Dawn has been around for 6 months, suggesting she was also about for Buffy vs Dracula etc? The 'Urn of Ishtar', wasn't that a Dustin Hoffman movie? Introduction of Dawn's catchphrase, 'Get out'. The scene with little Buffy and little Dawnie on the swing is especially moving. Giles warns Willow of the dangers of magic.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10 the Key storyline really getting going.

  • Blood Ties

    Blood Ties was another perfect episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is one of my favorite episodes because we get to see more of Glory, and now knowing what she really is makes her scenes all the more enjoyable to watch. I think that her history and background are very intriguing and interesting, I hope we get to learn even more. There was also a lot of character development in this episode, especially for Dawn who finds out what she really is. I like the scene were Glory's minions were fighting the Knights of Byzantium, and Glory comes to join in saving her last minion as the knight asks if he should now test his faith before killing him. I also thought it was cool how Willow and Tara used magic to teleport Glory, and Willow almost passed out, probably because of Glory's power related to the spell, which makes it even more realistic. I think that the writers really did a great job, as did the actors and director of this episode.moreless
  • Season 5, Episode 13.

    After learning that Glory is a god, Buffy finally tells her friends that Dawn is the Key. When everyone acts weird around her, she remembers how crazy people always act weird around her, so she goes to he mental ward at the hospital for answers.

    I liked this episode. Buffy turns 20! :) Very interesting episode with Buffy confessing that Dawn is the Key. It was definitely a good plot, and I liked watching Dawn study information on the Key. She finally realizes that she is the Key! :) Good episode indeed. Dawn cuts herself and didn't know if it was blood or not! OMG! Dawn is really only six months old! Great episode!moreless
  • Another brilliant episode; the truth is finally revealed in an emotional and shocking fashion.

    Blood Ties is another fantastic episode of the outstanding Season 5 and the main arc continues to get bigger and more and more tense as the entire gang finds the truth out about Dawn and Dawn herself finds out the truth of her own origins.

    As a massive fan of Season 5's arc, I was always going to love this episode. I loved the Dawn scenes, the reveal about Glory and just everything about it. The season has been building up to this moment; where Dawn finds out she is The Key and it doesn't disappoint. Michelle Trachtenberg was the star of the show here and outacted the entire cast, which is impressive considering she was only 15 years old at the time. You could really relate to and feel Dawn's pain and (screeching scenes aside) you felt for her.

    The scene where Dawn finds out and slashes her wrists is very shocking and done fantastically. The normal conversation between Buffy, Willow and Tara beforehand and Tara's face as soon as she saw Dawn was just amazing. Dawn's words were heartbreaking "Am I real? Am I anything?". Michelle was truly outstanding here and I'm glad she's getting roles on Gossip Girl and other shows these days.

    The reveal that Ben and Glory were one entity was very shocking the first time I seen it. We knew Ben had some involvement with her but the scene where the change happens was genuinely a wow moment. Only problem was that Charlie Weber who plays Ben was quite awful. His hands were moving all over the place and he just seemed really awkward and uncomfortable. He doesn't seem like a great actor and really just reminds me of Marc Blucas which isn't really a good thing.

    Glory was delightful here; funny yet menacing at the end. The fight scene only helped to increase her aura of power and I just loved it when she said Buffy had really nice shoes and got kicked in the face with them as a reward. Willow's teleportation spell worked well and set up the episode later in the season where Willow magically assaults Glory (go Willow!).

    Anya and Spike added a lot of humour here. Spike had all the best line "Sneaking out to watch Tellytubbies with your mates?" was hilarious. Anya's lines themselves weren't great but Emma Caulfield managed to make them wonderful with her perfect delivery and timing.

    Blood Ties is an excellent episode and one that should not be overlooked. It is well written and brilliantly acted.moreless
Justin Gorence

Justin Gorence


Guest Star

Michael Emanuel

Michael Emanuel

Burly Guard

Guest Star

Joe Ochman

Joe Ochman


Guest Star

Clare Kramer

Clare Kramer


Recurring Role

Charlie Weber

Charlie Weber


Recurring Role

Amber Benson

Amber Benson


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Dawn: Oh, is she mad about the whole fire thing?
      Buffy: I think you sorta have a "Get Out of Jail Free" card on account of big love and drama.
      Dawn: Really? Okay. Good! ... You think she'd raise my allowance?
      Buffy: Don't push it.

    • Spike: (about Dawn) She's not just a blob of energy, she's also a 14 year-old hormone bomb. Which one's screwing her up more right now, spin the bloody wheel.

    • Dawn: I just think you're freaking out because you have to fight someone prettier than you. That is the case, right?
      Buffy: Glory is evil. And powerful. And in no way prettier than me.

    • Buffy: How was school today?
      Dawn: The usual. Big square building filled with boredom and despair.

    • Willow: (about the creatures they met) Well, you know what they say. The bigger they are...
      Anya: The faster they stomp you into nothing.

    • Dawn: (dazed) Is this blood?
      Buffy: Dawn!
      Joyce: Oh, baby.
      Buffy: What did you do?!
      Dawn: This is blood, isn't it? It can't be me. I'm not a key. I'm not a thing.
      Joyce: Oh, sweetie, no. Wha-what is this all about?
      Dawn: (grimly) What am I? (getting teary) Am I real? Am I anything?

    • Buffy: It's Summers blood, it's just like mine.

    • Xander: And the fun just keeps on leavin'.

    • Anya: You make a very pretty little girl.
      Xander: Anya you wanna help me with that thing?
      Anya: Xander needs help with his thing!

  • NOTES (6)

    • In this episode we discover that Ben actually is a physical part of Glory, changing in front of Dawn. But we also discover there's a strange spell that comes over any witnesses, causing them to forget that Ben and Glory are one in the same.

    • This episode and season 6 birthday episode "Older & Far Away" ironically have one of the same scenes. Dawn throws a tantrum, runs upstairs, as her immediate family follows. She says 'get out' when Joyce and Buffy continue talking, she yells it 3 times. Then in "Older & Far Away" she does the same thing, tantrum, runs upstairs, this time her current 'family' follows, and she does the same thing again 'get out' screaming it 3 times.

    • Dawn's entries are really journal entries, if you zoom in and read on DVD. The first one mentions passing an oral exam in a class and getting an A. The other mentions wanting Buffy to give her armor and daggers for protection.

    • The dress Tara gives Buffy for her gift looks a lot like the one Buffy had on during her dream in "Restless" when her and Tara talked in the desert.

    • Joyce offers to fix some chicken and stars soup for Dawn after Dawn discovers that she is the Key. In "Earshot", Joyce offered to fix Buffy chicken and stars soup so that Buffy wouldn't overhear Joyce thinking about how she had sex with Giles on the hood of a police car twice.

    • The part with Dawn ripping up all of her notebooks and diaries is almost just like a scene in Harriet the Spy, starring Michelle.


    • Spike: Bet they'd really go for a little red riding hood like you.

      Little Red Riding Hood is the main character of the fairy tale of the same name. Though there are different versions, the basic plot is usually the same: Red Riding Hood is off to visit her grandmother; she runs across a wolf, tells him where she's going, and he beats her there. When she gets to her grandmothers house, the wolf has locked her grandmother in the closet (or eaten her, depending on the story version) and dressed up in her clothes to trick Red Riding Hood in an attempt to eat her.

    • Buffy: I just don't think this is the best time to break out the party piñata.

      Piñatas are hollow cardboard or papier-mache figures usually filled with candy or toys.
      Piñatas are most often used at birthday parties where they are suspended by a rope, people are then blindfolded and try to break open the Piñata with a stick so that the contents spill out.

    • Buffy: (to Dawn) I think you sort of have a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card, on account of big love and drama.
      Created in 1934 by Charles Darrow in Pennsylvania, Monopoly is the best selling board game in the world, with over 200 million copies having been sold in 80 countries and 26 languages. The board has 36 squares, most of which are 'property', and the game revolves around players trying to buy up all the property. One of the squares is 'Jail', which players can be put into, unless they have a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card.

    • Glory: What I'm tryin' to noodle, is what in the world was the Slayer's little sis doin' here with Gentle Ben?
      Gentle Ben was the title character (if you can call a bear a character) of the 1960s TV show of the same name, about a boy and his tame bear. It starred Clint Howard (Ron Howard's brother).

    • Spike: (to Dawn) Sneaking out to braid hair and watch Teletubbies with your mates?
      Teletubbies is a show launched in 1997 in the UK by the BBC. It is aimed at preschoolers, and features 4 brightly colored child-like creatures who live together in Teletubbyland. The show is intended to be educational, especially in regards to speech and vocabulary, and has proved highly popular, at one time becoming something of a fad. It is currently broadcast by PBS in the US.

    • Dawn: Well, jeez, don't get all movie-of-the-week.
      Many of the major networks have shown their own low-budget movies they call the 'Movie of the Week'. These are often tear-jerking dramas about terminally ill family members, or some other misfortune befalling people with tragic (or, occasionally, uplifting) results.

    • Willow: A 20th birthday party with... with... with presents, and funny hats, and-and those candles that don't blow out.
      Willow is referring to trick party candles, typically sold as "Magic Re-Lighting Candles" that, as Willow said, don't go out (or more correctly, go out momentarily and then light up again).