Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 12

Checkpoint

3
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Jan 23, 2001 on The WB
8.7
out of 10
User Rating
466 votes
16

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
Quentin Travers and a team from the Watchers Council arrive in Sunnydale with information about Glory. However, since Buffy no longer works for the Council, they decide that they must put her and her friends through a grueling set of tests to determine that she is worthy of their trust.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • This is a wonderfully pleasant episode and is Buffy's first serious take on the subject of power, which of course is a major theme of S7.

    9.0
    Aside from a couple small isssues, this is solid material that both offers a bit to think about as well as being very entertaining. Even with major appearances from the Watcher's Council and Glory, "Checkpoint" stays focused on Buffy and how she takes another fine step into adulthood while discovering more about her power as a Slayer which, of course, is a big theme of the season. I really love how she's portrayed as still being childish in many ways but when push comes to shove she steps up on her own and acts as an adult that is extremely formiddable and, dare I say, powerful.



    As Buffy will come to fully realize in S7, "It's about power. Who's got it. Who knows how to use it". "Checkpoint" begins the extent of that knowledge and gets Buffy to begin that level of understanding in some clever ways. Throughout the episode we're shown different shades of how power can be used to accomplish things. One side of the coin is the Watchers Council who, as Buffy finds out thanks to Giles, use their political power to get things done the way they want it done. They storm in with their supreme cockiness, shoe away customers, and make their authority known. The review is obviously very reminiscent of the test in "Helpless". The other side of the coin is Glory, who uses her sheer physical power to force what she wants, displaying extreme cockiness in her power over Both of these entities attempt to use their respective powers to threaten Buffy into getting what they want. They're also both accustomed to getting what they want.



    At first the intimidation from both sides is quite effective against Buffy. The Council has her doubting her ability to impress them in the odd way they want things done, and Glory has Buffy just plain scared--enough to drop her mom and sister off at Spike's crypt, a huge change in their relationship which Spike immediately points out and a bit later I will too. After the Knights come into the picture as well, it pushes Buffy to acknowledge something that just never occurred to her before: she actually has power over them. If she didn't, they wouldn't even need to use their powers. So Buffy fights back which culminates in a rousing conclusion in which she utterly defies the Council, and then flips the coin back onto them. There is more writing excellence at work here.



    Some specific examples of these displays of power include Glory telling Buffy, "If I wanted to fight, you could tell with the being dead already" along with Quentin's speech about Buffy's Glory is verbally expressing her power over Buffy while Quentin essentially tells Buffy that she's disposable but the Council always remains--they have the power. It's obvious here how Giles feels. He's more attached to Buffy now that he's ever been, which makes sense based on how close they've been all season due to the training and the shared secret about Dawn. He really sticks up for her until the council speaks of what they're capable of doing. In "Helpless" Giles ultimately decided to go against the Council's test, standing up for Buffy even though it costed him his job. The Council also recognizes his attachment to Buffy and uses that piece of information to threaten Buffy into cooperating. Buffy tells the Watchers "you don't have that kind of They are quick to respond, "we do, and a great deal In the training room Buffy, like usual, has to do things her own way so she fails the Council's test. The test, however, has no practical purpose, hence Giles' comment, "I've trained her to



    On an entertainingly different note I was very entertained by Buffy's school endeavors. Yawning in class and tapping her pencil out of boredom. This just reminds me of how glad I am I'm done with the game that is academia. Also amusing is Buffy suggesting that Rasputin might have been a vampire or a demon. That evening we see Buffy taking out her academic frustrations on the demon world, which is very happily lovely, classic Buffy. The "interviews" were all also extremely entertaining. Everyone is trying way too hard to not make Buffy look bad. I particularly enjoyed Lydia getting all flustered over meeting Spike in person.



    While talking about Spike, it's important to recognize some important signs that pop up here. Buffy tells Spike she doesn't need a boyfriend. Which, by the way, good for her! But Spike doesn't quit that easily and snipes back, "don't need, or can't He says, "Maybe that's your problem, maybe you push 'em away. Or is it the other? Maybe you cling too much. Or maybe... your beauty's fading. The stress of slaying, aging you prematurely. Things not as high, not as firm ... Or maybe you just don't hold their All of Spike's rambling does eventually get Buffy thinking. After her encounter with Glory, Buffy still goes to Spike to protect Joyce and Dawn, even after their earlier oral jabs. Spike's response is hilarious, "well there's a boatload of manly responsibility flying out of Putting aside the amusement, this also proves that Spike is just as much aware of how much trust Buffy's putting in him as we, the audience, are. This marks an important change in the relationship between Buffy and Spike. Despite her apparent disgust of him, when it comes down to it she does now trust him with the things that matter most to her, and that says a lot.



    On the pure plot front not much happens in this episode, although we do get the Knights of Byzantium. The Knights add an extra layer to the season's plot arc, but unfortunately the writers neglected to use them until "Spiral" which, honestly, was way too little, way too late. Their use here, though, is mysterious and effective in adding yet another thing Buffy has to worry about.



    After all Buffy's been through by the end of the episode, she lays it on the Watchers and proves to them that she has the power that matters. Here's the goods: "You guys didn't come all the way from England to determine whether or not I was good enough to be let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in. To give your jobs, your lives some semblance of meaning ... You're Watchers. Without a Slayer, you're pretty much just watchin' Masterpiece Theater. You can't stop Glory. You can't do anything with the information you have except maybe publish it in the Everyone Thinks We're Insane-O's Home Journal. So here's how it's gonna work. You're gonna tell me everything you know. Then you're gonna go away. You'll contact me if and when you have any further information about After Quentin agrees to Buffy terms, she then sits down at Quentin's level and is ready to talk with him. This initiative shows great growth in Buffy's character and ability as a leader capable of handling things completely on her own.



    To sum matters up, I really enjoyed "Checkpoint" and found that is has quite a bit of lasting value. It's mix of humor and challenging character growth is a cut above the rest, which isn't something I say lightly when it comes to episodes of this show. Aside from a couple minor issues and the fact that even though this episode is important, it really doesn't feel all that important, "Checkpoint" nails all the right chords.moreless
  • The Watchers' council butt in

    6.0
    The Good;

    Some very good scenes with the council and a nice face off between Buffy and Glory at the Summer's house. Buffy's speech to the council is spot on. Love Tara's little look of panic as she invents a magical proficency level for her and Willow.



    The Bad;

    Surely Buffy's point that the Watcher's depend on her rather than vice versa is self evident all along?



    Best line;

    Travers; "Glory's not a demon"

    Buffy; "What is she?"

    Travers; "She's a god"

    Oh boy!



    Women good/men bad;

    Buffy tells the Council that she has the power, changing a relationship between Watcher and Slayer that has endured millenia.



    Jeez!;

    Glory brainsucks the postman. Even more horrible is the way she refers to him as 'that' afterwards.



    Kinky dinky;

    The female Watcher seems to have a Spikette's lust for Spike. Spike suggests Buffy's beauty is fading and that she is not has firm and high (at 20?)



    Captain Subtext;

    Willow and Tara finally say what they are out loud. Buffy seems to imply that Rasputin was a vamp. The lover of the one Angel killed in 'Why we fight?' Another terrific Spike/Joyce scene, they both love the Passions TV show. Buffy remarks that she 'Doesn't need a boyfriend'. Once again we see the Glory-Buffy-Dawn subtext with Glory suggesting Ben 'bang' the key's location out of Buffy. She also refers to Buffy as 'Sweetie' and thinks the picture of her and Dawn in 'So cute'. She describes Dawn as the 'Darlingest thing', 'Honey' and says she likes her as she's 'Sassy'. Glory's minion thinks Ben 'quite attractive'. Willow refer to her and Tara's relationship with Buffy as 'Just friends'.



    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

    Anya;1



    Kills:

    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

    Spike; 1 demon and 1 vamp in Scooby service



    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;

    89;



    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;

    First appearance of the Knights of Byzantium. Couldn't they put their tattoos somewhere a little less obvious? Of course the Watcher's are right about the dangers of some of the Magic Shop contents as Triangle and later eps will prove. The stars are once again pivotal to Glory's spell. So how do we kill a god? Titan's rib? Golden Hind's blood? Xena?

    So who are these Byzantium guys and what do they want other than to fight Glory? (which seems pretty admirable but bad news for Dawn). I always figured that maybe the Watcher's Council had some form of schism reformation style and they're an offshoot

    Marks out of 10; 6/10

    moreless
  • A brilliant episode; one that is funny, shocking and has one of the greatest scenes of all time in it.

    9.5
    Checkpoint is a tragically underrated episode that fans seem to overlook for some reason. It had great dialogue, acting and a fantastic storyline that really starts off the main arc in a sublime way; what's not to love?



    The idea of bringing Quentin Travers and his team of Watcher's back was fantastic; I can't say I like them but this season was really about "What is a Slayer?" and bringing the Watcher's in was a main part of this theme. The Council believes the Slayer is mainly just a tool but this episode proves their theory very wrong.



    The main arc of Glory and The Key really warmed up here. Glory's visit to Buffy's house was genuinely unnerving and Clare Kramer was excellent; she was very intimidating. You believed her when she said she would kill every one of Buffy's family and friends. She looked so at ease in the Slayer's house and not even a glimmer of fear passed her face. She really gave off this aura that just unsettled you.



    Quentin Travers is such an absolute A-hole. I wanted to strangle him most of the episode (as I did in "Helpless" also) and I just loved it when Buffy told him to get over himself basically.



    The montage of the Watcher's asking the Scoobies questions was hilarious, especially Anya acting all nervous around them. Anya is so amazing, you can't help but love her. Also that comment at the end "Willow's a demon?!" is one of the best lines ever. I literally LOLed.



    The final scene was outstanding. Buffy just completely proved the Council idiots wrong and you just couldn't help but cheer with the gang. Travers face was utterly delightful and SMG owned the stage. The revelation that Glory is a god is a big shock when you first see it and your reaction will be pretty much the same as Buffy's. Checkpoint is an excellent episode and one that should not be overlooked. It has some really phenomenal scenes and is just brilliant from start to finish.moreless
  • Checkpoint

    10
    Checkpoint was a perfect episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's fifth season. This is one of my favorite episode, if for nothing else, because of the scene where she says "no interuptions" and the one council member starts to talk and she throws a sword into the wall inches from him. I think that this episode is crucial to the season. There was lots of character development, action, humor, and revelation. I think that Glory is one of the best villians of all time in the Buffyverse. We definitely learned more about Glory, who and what she really is. It was a shocking ending not only for viewers but for the characters tool. There were subtle hints as to who and what Glory is, and I think this episode revealed that information perfectly.moreless
  • Season 5, Episode 12.

    7.0
    The Watchers Council arrives in Sunnydale with information about Glory. Since Buffy no longer works for the Council, however, they must put her and her friends through a grueling set of tests to determine that she is worthy of their trust.



    This was a pretty interesting episode. I didn't pay attention to a lot of it, though. But it seems interesting, and I hate the Council! I liked the deportation threat against Giles. It was interesting, but there have been better plots. But I haven't seen 5.11 in so long. I think that Dawn knows she's the key now. Anyway, not really a bad episode.moreless
Wesley Mask

Wesley Mask

Professor Roberts

Guest Star

Justin Gorence

Justin Gorence

Orlando

Guest Star

Peter Husmann

Peter Husmann

Mailman

Guest Star

Clare Kramer

Clare Kramer

Glory

Recurring Role

Charlie Weber

Charlie Weber

Ben

Recurring Role

Troy T. Blendell

Troy T. Blendell

Jinx

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Goof: Also in the first scene, just after they figure out Dawn was listening in, Giles disappears from the corner behind Willow, then suddenly re-appears when the camera changes angle.

    • Nitpick: It would be highly unlikely that Giles or Buffy would tell the Watcher's Council about Spike's relationship to the Scooby Gang, so it seems odd that the Watcher's Council is interviewing Spike. Considering the Council's position that they don't help vampires under any circumstances it would seem that they would attempt to kill Spike on sight.

    • Goof: At the Magic Box when one of the Watchers walks behind the counter where Anya is she has both arms down and off the counter. The scene changes to show them with Giles and Travers and Anya's left arm is suddenly bent and resting on the counter.

    • In this episode we find out Giles is paid for being Buffy's Watcher.

    • Goof: When Jinx goes to talk to Ben you can see that he is already cut up and when he goes back to Glory he seems to still be cut, just deeper and more noticeable.

    • Goof: In the first scene you can see Willow laugh at something and then hide her face to try and cover it up.

    • Goof: In the first scene, the sleeves on Buffy's shirt continually move back and forth of their own accord.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Anya: (Describing herself) Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins, 20 years old...born on the fourth of July--and don't think there weren't jokes about that my whole life, Mr., because there were. 'Who's our little patriot?' they'd say when I was younger, and therefore smaller and shorter than I am now.

    • Quentin: Yes, excuse me, you work here?
      Anya: Yes, I do. Ever since I moved here from south-eastern Indiana where I was raised by both a mother and a father.

    • Tara: Are you sure they're English? I thought English people were gentler than normal.

    • (About the Watchers coming)
      Buffy: They put me through that test, and it almost killed me. And then, when I was Faith, they almost killed me again. Honestly, I really can't handle almost being killed right now.

    • (After throwing a sword at Nigel, just barely missing his head)
      Buffy: I'm fairly certain I said no interruptions.

    • Buffy: Glory. I wanna know.
      Quentin: Well, there's a lot to go through.
      Buffy: Just tell me what kind of demon I'm fighting.
      Quentin: Well, that's the thing, you see. Glory isn't a demon.
      Buffy: What is she?
      Quentin: She's a god.
      Buffy: Oh.

    • Jinx: She's short, symmetrical, hair on top. Buffy something.
      Ben: Buffy Summers is the Slayer?
      Jinx: That's the one! Very clever of you, sir.

    • Buffy: We are talking about two very powerful witches and a thousand year old ex-demon.
      Anya: Willow's a demon?!

  • NOTES (3)

    • In the Watcher's Guide Vol. 2, It states that Anya's made up name is Anya "Emerson." However, in this episode, she gives herself the name "Anya Christina Emanuella Jenkins".

    • As well as a Watcher's Council, there also seems to be a governing body of Witches where registered magick users receive a Magical Proficiency accreditation; both of which Willow and Tara know nothing about.

    • Although the soap opera Passions is largely targeted toward teens of Dawn's age group, Dawn herself doesn't seem to be a fan; while her mother apparently is.

  • ALLUSIONS (9)

    • Buffy: (to the Watchers) You can't do anything with the information you have, except maybe publish it in the Everyone Thinks We're Insanos Home Journal.

      This is most likely a reference to the women's magazine "Ladies Home Journal."
      The magazine was first published in 1883 and is still in circulation today.

    • Spike: Passions is coming on.
      Passions is an American soap opera that debuted in July of 1999 on NBC. It follows the romantic and supernatural events of residents in a fictional New England town and is known for its far-out storylines.

    • Professor: Now, Rasputin was associated with a certain obscure religious sect.

      Rasputin was a monk in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He belonged to a cult that believed the path to salvation was to sin. Rasputin was favored by Czar Nicholas and his wife Alexandra because they believed that he was the only one who could heal their son, who had hemophilia. Although said to be charismatic, he was unkempt and was also known for his episodes of drinking and womanizing. He was murdered by a group of aristocrats that believed he held too much influence over the Czar. First they poisoned him; when that didn't work they then shot him, beat him, and finally drowned him.

    • Lydia: Its removal from Burma is a criminal offense, and when triggered, it has the power to melt human eyeballs.
      Burma is a independent republic country in Southern Eastern Asia, also known as Myanmar. Burma is slightly smaller than Texas and is bordered by Thailand, India, and the Bay of Bengal.

    • Orlando: The Knights of Byzantium, an ancient order, and now your enemy.
      Byzantium was the name given to the Eastern Roman Empire and its inhabitants in the middle ages. The capital of Byzantium was Constantinople, known today as Istanbul, in Turkey. Byzantium's existence is typically considered to have been between the 7th century and 1453 when Ottoman Turks conquered it. Byzantium was a staunchly conservative and Christian Empire, and produced several crusades against the Muslims.

    • Travers: We assume you're familiar with the Japanese name for the Aikido and Jujitsu moves?
      Jujitsu is the weaponless martial art of the Samurai warriors, and dates back to about 2,500 years ago in Japan. It is often described as "The Father of All Japanese Martial Arts" since other arts have been derived from it, including Judo and Karate.


      Aikido, another derivative of Jujitsu, was created by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). Aikido employs holds and locks and uses the principles of nonresistance in order to debilitate the strength of the opponent.

    • Anya: Born on the fourth of July
      The fourth of July is the USA's Independence Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Second Continental Congress (July 4, 1776) from the British Empire. Although Congress actually approved the resolution of independence from Britain on July 2 and the Declaration was not publicly read until July 8, it was on July 4 that the Declaration was drafted by Congress.


      Born on the Fourth of July is also a 1989 Oliver Stone film starring Tom Cruise.

    • Buffy: There's also near-consensus about Columbus, you know, until someone asked the Vikings what they were up to in the 1400s, and they're like 'Discovering this America-shaped continent.'
      Christopher Columbus was regarded for a long time as the discoverer of the North American continent, although many historians now no longer think this is true. However, European colonization of the continents of America only began due to his discovery. Setting sail from Spain, he first made landfall in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492.


      The Vikings were warrior seafarers from Scandinavian countries such as Greenland, Norway, Finland, etc. Their seafaring navigation methods were the most advanced of their time and there is evidence that the Vikings may first have discovered the North American Continent as early as A.D. 1000.

    • Buffy: ...without a Slayer, you're pretty much just watching Masterpiece Theatre.
      The reference is to the long-running PBS series, which specializes in the presentation of high-tone dramatizations and adaptations of the classics of English literature.

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