Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 8


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 21, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
471 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Riley begins to suspect that Spike has feelings for Buffy, and Spike takes great pleasure in telling Riley about Joyce’s illness – and about the fact that Buffy told Spike first. Meanwhile, Glory is conjuring up a creature that will be able to locate The Key for her, no matter what form it may be in.moreless

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  • While "Shadow" is no "Fool for Love", it is still a solid episode that moves character and plot threads forward in a compelling way.

    We've got Riley's continued lack of emotional connection with Buffy and increasing isolation, Glory's hunt for the Key, Joyce's brain tumor, and Spike's continued infatuation with everything Buffy. Nothing major really happens here and the pacing is a bit on the slow side occasionally, but otherwise I feel this episode succeeds at its goals.

    I think I'll start off with Glory, or more specifically her minions. The elaborate way they praise her in their wordage is extremely entertaining. It's important to note that while this minion, Dregg, is explaining he got this rare and old incantation, all Glory cares about is how her ankle looks with a certain pair of shoes on. When she tosses the shoe off her foot and into the minion's head he amusingly says, "Ow! Thank It's obvious here more than ever that Glory's biggest weaknesses are her obsession with herself and her utter stupidity. These two things playing hand-in-hand, along with the fact she's sharing a body with Ben, work to counteract her incredible strength which is why she is never able to do all that much damage. If she'd just get over herself and do everything herself she'd be much more formidable. She's very impatient too: "everything takes time! What about my time?! Does anyone appreciate that I'm on a schedule here?" I think at this point Glory's a unique blend of weirdness that BtVS hasn't seen before, and I like it. I'm amazed I even felt a tiny bit sad for her when she was looking out her window, all lonesome, for the cobra demon to return.

    While all the drama at the hospital takes place, Spike gets caught by Riley in Buffy's room, smelling her clothes. It's amazing really just how good Spike is at deflecting a conversation on him to the other person. Riley says, "what are you doing here?" Spike replies, "What, me? I was um ... uh ... what are you doing here?" He then freely admits he smelled her sweater, but slyly calls it a "predator That he's "wetting the appetite for the Then he hilariously sticks his head into her sweater and starts smelling it strongly, twice. Riley's had enough and finally throws him out, but not before Spike amusingly snags some Buffy panties. I really don't feel I need to think about what he's going to do with those!

    Anyway, downstairs Spike gives Riley the lowdown on Buffy's feelings towards him, although he leaves out just enough details to make it look like something it is very much, well, not. Spike gets a whole lot of juicy attacks on Riley here, like "Your girl in the habit of buying her enemies drinks? 'Cause she spent the better part of last night with me, doing just Riley scoffs and Spike continues, "Twice in recent memory, she's had the lover-wiccas do a deinvite on the house. Keep out specific vamps. Ever ask yourself why she's never taken my name off the guest list?" Responding, Riley claims that it's "because you're This is when Spike really brings it home: "Oh yeah, right. Takes one to know, I suppose. Least I still got the attitude. What do you got, a piercing glance? Face it, white bread. Buffy's got a type, and you're not it. She likes us dangerous, rough, occasionally bumpy in the forehead region. Not that she doesn't like you, but sorry Charlie, you're just not dark It's interesting that Buffy also didn't tell Riley about being at the hospital with her mom.

    To add even more salt to Riley's wounds, there's the adorable scene between Riley and Dawn at the carousel. While Riley appreciates it when Dawn thanks him for being there with her, her rambling about Angel turns out to make him feel worse again. Dawn points out that Buffy doesn't cry as much around Riley as she did with Angel and that she "doesn't get all worked up like that over I can understand why Riley sees this as a bad thing. He views it as meaning Buffy simply isn't as invested in him as she was with Angel. All of this evidence combined with his recent relationship frustrations obviously convince Riley that maybe Spike has a point. What Riley is completely missing in all of this is that Buffy really does like who he is. Sure she's drawn to the darkness a bit because of her slayer nature, but that doesn't mean she outright wants a vampire. Riley is expecting more from their relationship than it is right now, and I think he really fails to realise this.

    Xander calls Riley on his risky behavior in "Fool for Love" in a "I really want to help you" way, but it unfortunately doesn't stop him from letting Sandy get some vamp action on him. It's pretty obvious that Riley is now, at least somewhat, convinced that Buffy really does want darkness in her man, and so here he tests the waters to see what it's like; to try to find out what the draw is. I sympathise with Riley, I really do, but I can't help but feel he's acting really childishly in the way he's expressing his frustrations. This is made all the more clear when he actually looks offended when Buffy doesn't break down in front of him at the hospital and even more so later when Joyce calls her in and he looks all pouty. I really feel Buffy's only fault, at least during her mom's crisis, is not using basic kind mannerisms like "excuse me" and "thank you for all your help" to Riley. I feel the need to give props to more wonderful acting from SMG, with those painful-to-see watery eyes and expressions in a lot of these doctor/Riley scenes.

    Although Riley gets plenty of attention here, the core of the episode surrounds Joyce's hospital visit and Buffy's reactions to dealing with a crisis she can't fix. Joyce tells Buffy that the doctors found something in her cat scan. This is a moving little scene with Joyce even getting a little weepy. Buffy's holding her cool here surprisingly well. When the doctor later tells her that her mom has a brain tumor, though, SMG shows us some wonderfully subtle acting as we see Buffy get that powerfully expressive scared/sad/shocked blend on her face. A more extreme version of that same look arrives again when the doctor explains "nearly one out of three patients with this condition does just

    Wow this is really sad stuff, and Buffy can't do a thing about it; she's completely helpless. This is more difficult than usual for her because instead of having an outlet for her emotions, she is forced to feel these waves of awful emotions. It's hard for her to hear, but Riley's correct when he says, "people get sick. I don't think This is why when Buffy hears of the cobra demon she wants to run out and fight it immediately. It finally gives her a tangible outlet to take her mind off her mom's illness. It's great to see that Xander picks up on this as well when he tells Riley, "Buffy needs something she can fight, something she can

    The only real problems with this episode lie with its bad special effects and occasionally slow pace. In particular, the cobra demon is really lacking in scariness and believability; they just did a bad job on this one. The CGI Buffy riding the back of the demon somehow manages to be even more ridiculous-looking than the demon itself. It's rare I say something looked awful on this series, but that brief bit of CGI really did. Those problems aside, this is an arc episode that addresses several necessary developing character themes in a fairly solid way; a good, but not great, episode.moreless
  • The cancer a lot scarier than the snake

    The Good;

    Glory's minions are hysterical. The giant snake is a lot better than what we see in Graduation Day 2 and Band Candy. All the Buffy/Dawn/Joyce scenes are fantastic beyond belief.

    The Bad;

    Not much although you continue to feel for Riley.

    Best line;

    Willow; "Tomb-go-boom!"

    Women good/men bad;

    Riley cheats on Buffy.


    Not an ep for you if you suffer from Ophidiophobia

    Kinky dinky;

    Riley get's some vamp action/snuff. Spike takes his stalking of Buffy to a new level, sniffing her sweater and stealing a pair of Buffy's skimpy pink frilly undies as Riley kicks him out. Dawn tells Riley Buffy cries a lot less with him about, she means well but this isn't what he wants to hear. Giles appears quite taken with Glory, can't blame him with her in that red leather dress. Xander also gives her the once-over

    Captain Subtext;

    Check out the little look Willow gives Xander when he eyes up Glory, there's still something there. When Xander and Riley have their heart to heart Xander asks Riley "What kind of action are you looking for?" Ohhh matron! Dawn is quite the screamer (she could have been a Classic Dr Who companion) and one could say that this is Buffy protecting her virginal teenage sister from the threat of a huge phallic snake? Sitting astride it and restraining it with a chain.

    Scoobies to the ER;

    Buffy needs an ice pack after Glory smacks her around.

    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: 15

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1


    Kills: Riley kills Sandy, Buffy kills the snake demon

    Buffy: 86 vamps, 31 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 4 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;


    Total number of scoobies: 7

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

    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: Should we count Riley and Sandy as a sexual act?

    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; 2; Buffy and Sandy

    Questions and observations;

    Aleister Crowley was a famous British occultist/satanist who coined the phrase 'Do what thou wilt shall be the only law'. Xander refers to Riley as Captain America who was also a goverment supersoldier. Joyce has a cellphone, about time one of the Sunnydale Scoobies did. The Sunnydale Zoo again. Another lovely Xander/Riley scene. Note when Riley goes to see Buffy after being with Sandy he wears a high necked sweater to cover the bite marks.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • Shadow

    Shadow was a perfect episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's fifth season, and it is also one of my favorites! I really enjoyed watching this episode because it had complex character development in Riley, Buffy, and Joyce. We also learned that the woman in red is called Glory, and she is pressed for time to find the key. I like how we are seeing more and more magic in the series and I think it's great that the gang now have a magic shop as headquarters. There is so much depth to this series, and this episode is a prime example of that. I think that this episode is key to the season and series, pun intended!moreless
  • A great episode that advances the three main plots forward without getting confusing or too heavy!

    Shadow is a great episode that balances comedy, drama and emotion perfectly and furthers the three main arcs perfectly; it isn't the best episode or the most entertaining but is definitely a great one.

    I love two of the three main storylines here; for me, the cancer storyline and the Glory storyline are two of the greatest in the entire show and I generally like all episodes connected with them. However, on the other hand, Buffy and Riley's imminent breakup really does not interest me in any way; seeing as I've seen the show countless time, I already know what happens and the storyline just seems to get worse every viewing. It's just annoying, boring melodrama. I don't care for Riley as a character and feel at this point he is nothing more than a badly acted waste of space (that may be a bit harsh though).

    The Joyce storyline is simply fantastic in my opinion. I can't say Joyce has always been one of my favourites and she's vital to the show but this storyline helps us get invested in her character the Summers family dynamic. It also really helps us to care about the character of Dawn more; she may be a bit annoying but by this stage, I always really care for her and this really helps to draw us more into the Glory storyline; I feel the two compliment each other.

    The Glory storyline is possibly my favourite storyline on the entire show. Some found it annoying and boring but I thought it was utterly fantastic. Glory herself is a brilliant villain in my opinion (though she slips far too much into cheesy comedy at times). She's not the best but seeing as she exists to basically be extremely powerful but a bit stupid, I feel she does this perfectly. Clare Kramer is a great actress and is like marmite; you'll either love her or hate her.

    Shadow is a great episode; not one of the season's best by any means but still a great all rounder and an episode that will leave you wanting more.moreless
  • Season 5, Episode 8.

    Riley begins to suspect that Spike has feelings for Buffy. Buffy's world is falling apart as Joyce is diagnosed with a brain tumor. She tries to keep Joyce's diagnosis from Dawn. Buffy must also protect Dawn after Glory creates a snake that will find The Key, no matter what shape it is in. I really enjoyed watching this episode. It was near-perfect. The only thing I didn't like were the graphics. The graphics didn't wok the first time they did a snake with the mayor, so why would they attempt to do it again? I liked when Glory bought the stuff at the magic shop though. Sarah Michelle Gellar was once again amazing in this episode. Great episode. :)moreless
Kevin Weisman

Kevin Weisman


Guest Star

Megan Gray

Megan Gray


Guest Star

William Forward

William Forward

Dr. Isaacs

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 (9)

    • Nitpicks: At the end of this episode when Buffy slays the Snake-Demon in the field, there is a continuous shot panning from Buffy standing over the Snake-Demon's body up to a wide shot of Glory standing in the window waiting for it's return. Later we learn that Glory is holed up in a luxurious apartment, but the wide shot of the building she is in looks a lot more like a house than an apartment. Furthermore, the cliff-side building (and it's surroundings) that we see her in at the end of this episode looks exactly like the shots of the cliff-side house that Anya and Xander live in starting a few episodes from now. Is it the same building?

    • The vampire (Sandy) that Riley stakes is the same girl from Season 3 episode "Doppelgangland". In that episode, she was the girl in the Bronze that Vampire Willow bit as an object lesson.

    • Nitpick: Buffy becomes inexplicably weak when the snake creature attacks the Magic Box. A small set of shelves is knocked down on her, yet she is unable to crawl out from under it or throw it off even as she watches Dawn being threatened. Compare this to the episode "No Place Like Home", where Buffy falls from the third floor of a building, lands on her back on concrete with someone on top of her, and yet be able to get up immediately without so much as having the air knocked out of her.

    • Nitpick: The establishing shot of the Sunnydale Zoo shows it to be daytime and open to the public, yet there are no visitors in the reptile house. The building could be closed, meaning that Glory, Dreg and Buffy broke in. If so, it is odd that no one investigates, especially with all the noise and commotion Glory and Buffy are causing.

    • Nitpick: Although Buffy knew that Glory was attempting to create a serpentine creature it isn't made clear how Buffy knew that Glory would be at the zoo and when she would be there.

    • Nitpick: Buffy makes no signs having the very painful stab wound she received in the previous episode "Fool for Love". Since this episode picks up immediately after the other, even with her Slayer healing Buffy wouldn't be completely healed.

    • Goof: Buffy and Tara talk about Joyce getting a CAT scan but the machine we see her in is an open MRI -- a totally different technology.

    • Goof: Buffy wears different pairs of shoes nearly every scene though she doesn't change the rest of her outfit (there isn't time for that anyway).

    • Goof: Buffy ices her left arm after the fight with Glory in the museum. But Glory injured her right arm, not her left.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Spike: Look, I know for a bleedin' fact the Slayer wouldn't mind me being here.
      Riley: Right. What's a little sweater-sniffing between sworn enemies?

    • Giles: The demon woman was here, the one who attacked you.
      Willow: It's no biggie. She just got an amulet and a blood stone.
      Anya: That can create a monster.
      Willow: Okay, biggie.

    • Tara: (reading the Magic Box slogan) "Your one-stop spot to shop for all your occult needs." Catchy.
      Giles: Think so?
      Tara: Uh-huh. In a... hard to read sort of way, but I think it's great.

    • Giles: (to a customer) Ah, a weeping Buddha: shoulders your spiritual burden. Makes a lovely paperweight, too.

    • Buffy: How did she get away with this bad mojo stuff?
      Anya: Giles sold it to her.
      Giles: I- I- I... I didn't know it was her! I mean, how could I? If it's any consolation, I may have overcharged her.

    • Anya: Are you stupid or something?
      Giles: Allow me to answer that question with a firing.
      Xander: She's kidding. An, we talked about the employee-employer vocabulary no-nos. That was number five.

    • Spike: Okay, how 'bout this one. Twice in recent memory, she's had the lover-wiccas do a deinvite on the house. Keep out specific vamps. Ever ask yourself why she's never taken my name off the guest list?
      Riley: Because you're harmless.
      Spike: Oh yeah, right. Takes one to know, I suppose. Least I still got the attitude. What do you got, a piercing glance? Face it, white bread. Buffy's got a type, and you're not it. She likes us dangerous, rough, occasionally bumpy in the forehead region. Not that she doesn't like you ... but sorry Charlie, you're just not dark enough.

    • Xander: Am I right, Giles?
      Giles: I'm almost certain you're not, but to be fair, I wasn't listening.

  • NOTES (7)


    • Joyce: They have to do a biopsy to find out exactly what it is.

      A biopsy is a medical procedure to extract and examine a tissue sample in order to detect the existence of disease, such as cancer.

    • Spike: Not that she doesn't like you ... but sorry Charlie, you're just not dark enough.
      The expression "Sorry Charlie" is in reference to the old Starkist Tuna Fish commercials where the animated Charlie Tuna would try to get "caught" by the Starkist fishing boats but would only receive a note at the end of the hook saying "Sorry Charlie". Starkist would only accept the best tuna fish for their product.

    • Spike: (to Riley) Face it, white bread. Buffy's got a type, and you're not it.
      'White bread' is a slang term used to refer to someone who's boring, plain, nondescript, a 'goody-goody', etc.

    • Xander: (about Riley) Captain America blowed it up real good!
      Captain America is a Marvel Comic Books hero who debuted in 1941 and was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

      "Blowed up real good" was the punchline to the "Farm Film Celebrity Blow-Up" sketch on SCTV, which depicted two hayseeds on the early morning farm report conducting a talk show. Normally, in this context the term 'blow-up' would refer to an in-depth look at the interviewee's life, but the guests on FFCBU actually exploded.

    • Dawn: What is a CAT Scan exactly?
      Acronym for Computed Axial Tomography, also known as Computed Tomography Imaging. It's basically an x-ray tube that rotates in a circle around the patient, taking many x-rays of the brain as it rotates.

    • Giles: Aleister Crowley Sings? Um no, but we do have some rather nice whale sounds.
      Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) was an English occultist and self-styled "Great Beast 666". His works include "Magick in Theory and Practice" and "The Book of the Law". The record does not actually exist, but Crowley can be heard to sing (along with a number of magickal chants and discussions of ritual working) on the primarily bootleg album "The Great Beast Speaks".