Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 17


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Apr 17, 2001 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
505 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Refusing to accept that her mother’s death is the end, Dawn becomes obsessed with using magick to bring her back. Meanwhile, Buffy receives some much-needed comfort from an old friend who comes to town for the funeral.

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  • We're not watching the same Buffy anymore.

    With the move into Act III we find that the series has changed drastically in tone. "Forever" is the launching point of this new era and it proves to be an underrated, important, and dark episode which often gets overshadowed by "The Body". Two primary things are happening here. The first is Buffy trying to cope with the wave of responsibilities forced on her, and the other is Dawn attempting to ressurect Joyce through black magic. With the exception of a clunky fight scene, both of these threads work together exceptionally well and force Buffy to face the emotion she's trying to bottle up in order to get things done.

    Before I talk about anything else I want to mention how much I enjoyed the attention paid to how everyone responds to Joyce's sudden death. Willow is visiting her mom a lot, Spike brings flowers for Joyce, and Giles turns on the same music him and Joyce listened to during "Band Candy" while under the candy curse. These are all beautiful little touches and nods to continuity that just feel right and that a lesser show would completely ignore. I really love that "Forever" doesn't forget about these important little character nuances, as it really helps bring home how real these characters are.

    Anyway, the episode begins in a funeral home where Buffy has to pick out a coffin for her mom's funeral. The coffin salesman says some extremely pretentious things to her that make it obvious all he cares about is getting Buffy's money. I also went through this despicable price gouging when my grandmother died. These funeral homes are out to gain extra money by taking advantage of your sorrow. It's sick and very painful, although when I say this I can't speak for all funeral homes. This entire introduction scene already shows how cut off Buffy is from her emotions. Now that her mom's gone, all of these enormous and new responsibilities have been thrusted upon her. Buffy's only way to cope is to blot out all emotion and just get things done. In essence, much of the shock and numbness witnessed in "The Body" is still present for her, but now only her.

    All Buffy can see right now is what must be done in the next couple minutes. After a wicked cool fade to black in the cemetary that is a literal metaphor for how quickly her life has also turned dark, she tells Angel "The funeral was... it was brutal. But it's tomorrow that I'm worried Angel replies, "What's tomorrow?" Buffy answers, "That's exactly what I don't Nothing is certain anymore in Buffy's future. She's abruptly entered adulthood and no longer has anyone to help guide her through though those rough first years where one doesn't have a clue what they're doing or where they're headed. Having a strong family who can help provide a roadmap for you makes this period of life significantly easier. Without it? Void space.

    With all her immediate responsibilities, funeral et Buffy hasn't yet realized her biggest responsbility of all: Dawn. Buffy is now functionally Dawn's mother, and Buffy is in no way ready or prepared for this responsibility as we can see in ample doses from now through S6. This is the beginning of a really rough time for Buffy and she's going to have to feel her way through it. Angel points out, "You'll find your way. I mean not all at once, and he's completely right. This is a process that will take quite a bit of time for Buffy. For now all that exists is mass confusion and immediate pressures. I'm tremendously happy that Angel showed up to at least offer Buffy one night of love, comfort, and guidance. The reprise of the Buffy/Angel theme song was beautifully worked in--I adore Angel beyond words for showing up here.

    While Buffy is going through all of this, Dawn spends most of the episode trying to resurrect Joyce. For the integrity of the series I'm grateful Dawn fails. What this really leads into is the final, very tear-filled, scene where Dawn cannot believe she hasn't seen Buffy cry and that she feels Buffy has been purposely avoiding her. Of course, the truth couldn't be further from the truth, of which Buffy explains: "Dawn, I've been working, I've been busy because I have to ... I have to do these things, 'cause, 'cause when I stop, then she's really gone. And I'm trying, Dawn, I am really trying to take care of things. But I don't even know what I'm doing! Mom always Dawn says, "Nobody's asking you to be Buffy replies, "Well who's gonna be if I'm not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that!? Who's gonna make things better? Who's gonna take care of us? ... I didn't mean to push you away, I didn't. I just, I couldn't let you see me... Oh god, Dawny. I don't know what we're gonna do. I'm scared!" At this point the two of them collapse on the floor hugging while weeping, and their pain is palpable. Buffy's inner numbness finally cracks and what's left is a big, teary mess.

    Before wrapping up I want to mention a couple more important tidbits. First of all is the beautiful speech Anya has about sex and life, which is in complete contrast yet directly tied to her confusion about death in "The Body". Here she says, "Well she [Joyce] got me thinking, about how people die all the time and how they get born too and how you kinda need one so that you can have the other. And when I think about it that way it makes death a little less sad, sex a little more exciting ... I just think I understand sex more now. It's not just about two bodies smooshing together. It's about life. It's about making life ... I'm not ready to make life with you [Xander]. But I could. We could. Life could out of our love and our smooshing and that's beautiful. It all makes me feel we're a part of something bigger. Like I'm more awake Anya pretty much just said my analysis for me there. What a beautiful realization for Anya to make and then share with Xander. This is fantastic stuff.

    Even after all the great stuff loaded in "Forever," there's some juicy development for Willow as well. Dawn begs Willow and Tara for help in ressurecting Joyce. Tara leads the charge in telling Dawn that, firstmost, "we [witches] don't mess with life and death" and second that they couldn't even if they wanted to. We see a consistent opinion on the matter from Tara, that "witches can't be allowed to alter the fabric of life for selfish As Tara is talking we can see very clearly that Willow is not seeing things the way Tara is and doesn't even seem to understand why Tara thinks trying a ressurection spell would be so bad. Willow plays along with Tara even though she clearly doesn't agree, which is why she takes the initiative in helping Dawn get the information she needs that will lead to finding the required spell. This is a huge indication of Willow's impaired judgement and of what is to follow for her.

    As a whole "Forever" is an extremely good episode. It loses some points for there still being no proactive moves from Glory. What, she just conveniently stops going after Buffy for information about the Key because we have to spend screen time on Joyce's death and other character topics? Sorry, doesn't fly for me. The plot must be blended together better with the character threads. Aside from that issue and a couple smaller ones, though, there's nothing but good here. This is a vital and powerful episode that needs to be looked at a bit more closely before seeing the value in it. Once found, though, there's a whole lot of value here.moreless
  • Why I fell in love with Dawn

    The Good;

    Angel's back, hooray. The final scene where Buffy and Dawn collapse into each other's arms is my favourite scene in the whole of Buffy.

    The Bad;

    Dawn stealing the eggs, the Ghora demon just looks lame.

    Best line;

    Dawn; "It's ok, okkaaayyyyy!"


    Doc is far more human that many of the demons the gang face and ALL the scarier for it. Like Mayor Wilkins, Doc is a tribute to the skill of an actor in the role. Am I the only one who finds Willow's idea of making a stuffed animal dance extremely sinister? Buffy slaps Dawnie but in fairness she has every right to.

    Kinky dinky;

    Glory refers to Jinx as her 'Robed stud'. Willow likens Tara's fried eggs to 'little boobs'. Anya and Xander have sex, Anya hinting to a terrified Xander she eventually wants children.

    Captain Subtext;

    Note that Buffy never hugs Dawn after Joyce dies, not even at the graveside, can't even bare to look her in the face. (both girls sitting alone in their bedrooms) Can't stand to see her mother's eyes looking back at her? It's only in the last scene that the sisters finally find each other and it's all too wonderful. Spike (who was noticeably absent in The Body) brings flowers for Joyce whom he professes his fondness for (in Lies My Parents Told Me we discover why). Buffy says she wants Angel to stay on in Sunnydale for all time which must give Bangler's reassurance.

    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: 95 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: 10

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

    Sunnydale deaths;


    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;

    Willow's helping of Dawn foretells her abuse of magic in later seasons. A lot of people blame Dawn for trying to ressurect Joyce but just imagine you're 14 year old girl and the mother you love more than anything has died. If there was the slightest chance you could bring her back, wouldn't you? Wouldn't anyone?

    Angel comes to Sunnydale for the funeral. Do Wes and Cordy come? Oz? Do they tell Faith? She doesn't mention Joyce when she turns up in season 7 but maybe Buffy posts her a letter? Nice mislead with Buffy and the coffins, you think she's vamphunting at first. Dawn in pigtails to make her look even younger. The album Giles is listening to is the same one he listened to with Joyce in Band Candy.

    For the record the scariest monster we never see is the THING that crosses past the window and knocks on the door of the Summer's house. And Buffy goes 'Mommy' and runs to the door because she'd give the world to have Joyce back. And Dawn becomes the grown up and rips up the photo so she opens the door to nothing. And the Summer's girls collapse into each other's arms because (to paraphrase Ally McBeal) Joyce is dead, they loved her and she died and she's going to be dead forever. But they'll always have each other, she lives on through her deeds and her daughters. Angelus in Passion referred to 'The ecstasy of grief'. Here we see it in all it's glory. And in many ways Buffy needs Dawn a lot more than Dawn needs Buffy, Buffy doesn't ask who's going to take care of Dawn, she asks who's going to take care of 'us'. And the answer is from now on they take care of each other.

    Marks out of 10; 9/10, would be 10/10 except for the stupid looking demon.

  • Forever

    Forever was a great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode ties up the sub plot of Joyce's death and really touches the heart thinking about having to deal with similar issues. This episode showcase's this series ability to portray everyday human experiences in a relative manner with a supernaturally entertaining mythos. I really enjoyed watching this because it was a good story line to wrap things up, and introduced new insights into some of the characters. We also met a new character who is more than he appears. Meanwhile Glory has learned what form the Key is in, and it seems things are about to go from bad to worse for Buffy and the gang. I can't wait to see what happens next!!!!!moreless
  • Season 5, Episode 17.

    Buffy and Dawn both struggle to cope with their mother's death. Dawn refuses to accept it, and tries a spell to bring Joyce back. Meanwhile, Angel returns to town to help comfort Buffy. Glory finds out more information on The Key.

    I really liked this episode. I think Buffy looked amazing in this episode, especially during the scene where she is talking about the wake at the dinner table with Giles. Great episode, for sure. Glory is getting so annoying, but she obviously has a mental problem. Ben and Glory are brother and sister?! Wow. Anyway, Glory finds out that The Key is a human. Cool episode! :)moreless
  • Still Grieving

    Forever-Refusing to accept that her mother's death is the end, Dawn becomes obsessed with using magick to bring her back. Meanwhile, Buffy receives some much-needed comfort from an old friend who comes to town for the funeral.

    After one of the saddest and most surreal hours in television history, "Forever" is massively overlooked when it's quite a stunning episode in it's own right and some performances are quite moving. Everyone in the gang is still trying to adjust with life after Joyce's death but these aren't gettin' easier, especially for Dawn and Buffy. Buffy, of course, keeps herself busy by preparing herself for her mom's funneral even she's avoiding Dawn because of it. Dawn, still in denial about her mother, wants to bring back her mother magically with the help of Willow and Tara. Of course, when Dawn goes behind their back and goes on a one girl mission to bring her mother back to life. I liked seeing Spike helping Dawn throughout as Spike is growing to be a more caring character, especially bringing the flowers for Joyce. You can tell he feels real genuine concern for Dawn which is touching to see.

    The funeral scene was such a moving moment seeing all the characters saying goodbye to Joyce. Then comes the unexpected return of David Boreanaz to Buffy and his scenes with Buffy are some of the most memorable between the 2 characters. It's great to see after all these 2 have been through, they still have an undeniable connection and can be there for one another. For the first time, both characters seem like they have matured after years ago nad have much wisdom to tell each other. Another interesting development is old shop keeper who seems like a creepy old man, but is definately something more sinister and evil. The actor was great in the role and he gives off a disturbing essence as the character.

    The episode ends with one of the saddest scenes of the series as Buffy confronts Dawn about the spell she just casted. It's ironic how Buffy is noticeable pretty absent from the episode, yet Sarah Michelle Gellar steals the show with one scene. Just the way Buffy slaps Dawn and breaks down about her trying to keep busy it hurts to much when she stops and realizes her mom's gone. It's a powerful scene as Dawn rips up the picture just as Buffy races to see her mother again and both sisters just fall to the ground in each others' arms. Often forgotten, "Forever" is a wonderful follow-up to the events of "The Body" with great developments and a heart-breaking final scene.moreless
Joel Grey

Joel Grey


Guest Star

Alan Henry Brown

Alan Henry Brown

Funeral Director

Guest Star

Darius Dudley

Darius Dudley


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 (7)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Buffy: I've been working. I've been busy, because I have to.
      Dawn: No. You've been avoiding me.
      Buffy: I'm not. I have to do these things 'cause when I stop, then she's really gone. And I'm trying. Dawn, I am really trying to take care of things, but I don't even know what I'm doing. Mom always knew.
      Dawn: Nobody's asking you to be mom.
      Buffy: Well, who's gonna be if I'm not? Huh, Dawn? Have you even thought about that? Who's gonna make things better? Who's gonna take care of us?

    • Glory: What about the key? |
      Jinx: He indicated that it was a person, most... highest... you.
      Glory: The key's in human form?
      Jinx: I believe so... (searching for words) good one.
      Glory: Jinx, you robed stud, you're my man! I'm even gonna let you slide on the lame toadying on account of you're dying and stuff.

    • Angel: I can stay in town as long as you want me.
      Buffy: How's forever? Does forever work for you?

    • Tara: Magic can't be used to alter the natural order of things.
      Dawn: But all you do is mess with the natural order of things.

    • Dawn: Good, 'cause I know... what I want to do now.
      Willow: Great. What are you up for?
      Dawn: You guys are witches. And you do magic and stuff.
      Willow: You want us to teach you something? Uh, like a glamour, or I could make a stuffed animal dance!
      Dawn: I wanna do a spell. I wanna bring Mom back.

    • Spike: Joyce was the only one of the lot of you that I could stand!
      Xander: And she's the only one with a daughter you wanted to shag. I'm touched.
      Spike: I liked the lady! Understand, monkey boy? She was decent. She didn't put on airs. She always had a nice cuppa for me. And she never treated me like a freak.
      Xander: Her mistake.

  • NOTES (1)


    • Buffy: She said that potlucks are depressing enough as it is.

      A potluck is a gathering of people for a meal where most of the guests bring food that is to be shared among all the guests.

    • Glory: Was this (the perp. of Jinx's injury) the Slayer? I'll pull her wings off!
      Compares Buffy to a fly, to which little boys pull the wings off. It also shows how insignificant Glory thinks Buffy is.

    • Dawn: Osiris, giver of darkness...
      Osiris was the lead god of the Egyptians until his brother Set, Lord of the Underworld, killed and dismembered him and scattered the pieces across Egypt. His wife and sister Isis recovered all the parts except for his "manhood," which ended up in the Nile, and resurrected him. Thus unable to give new life he became Lord of the Dead and Resurrection.

    • Ben: Tell my sister I'm sick of running into her Jawa rejects.
      Jawas are the little hooded scavengers who live on Tatooine in George Lucas' epic saga Star Wars.

    • Buffy: Mom!
      This episode clearly owes a debt to the classic horror story "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs. In this story, a grieving mother makes a wish to bring back her dead son - but what exactly has she brought back? Be careful what you wish for...

    • Doc: (whistles a little tune)
      When Spike takes Dawn to see Doc, the creepy little man is whistling a little tune. It's from the children's symphony, "Peter and the Wolf" by Sergei Prokofiev (1936). It also may be familiar to some as incidental music from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons.