Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 21

The Weight of the World

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 15, 2001 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
481 votes

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Episode Summary


Despite their best efforts, Glory has succeeded in taking Dawn. This failure after so much effort proves too much for Buffy and she slips into a catatonic state. Willow must use magick to enter her mind and help her work through the trauma before it is too late to save Dawn... and the rest of the world.


Who was the Episode MVP ?

  • Probing.

    That's how I'd describe "The Weight of the In what seems like padding and a calm before the storm, there is actually a lot of fascinating dialogue if you pay close attention. This is no action extravaganza or even traditional build-up, but rather an episode built on ideas and choices. Buffy faces a choice to remain in her catatonic state and disappear into a world of guilt and pain. Ben faces a choice of whether or not to kill Dawn to save himself. The Scoobies must choose what to do next now that their group is damaged and Dawn is gone. In the midst of all of these choices are the ideas which bind it all together. Ideas involving the true extent of humanity's insanity and the fight that goes on within each one of us. I love episodes that give me a lot to think about and this one delivers, hence my love of it.

    The Scoobies are in complete disarray with Buffy in a catatonic state, Giles badly injured, and Tara insane. With all of those people down Willow steps up to plate, magically splits apart a quarelling Xander and Spike, and scares everyone into cooperating. Willow being scary is not something we have really seen before. The creepiness that permeates her in S6 begins to surface here along with her now frequent use of magic. Neccessity is spurring it forward here, but she has no clue what all this usage is doing to her. For now, though, it proves useful as she mystically jumps in Buffy's mind -- something everyone says is extremely dangerous -- to help her come out.

    Once inside, we get thrown a series of interesting images and comments. Buffy's taking the form of a child, which represents her desire to live her life again without the weight of the world on her shoulders -- to return to simpler times where she can just be happy again. She appropiately says, "I like it Then Buffy's parents enter the room holding a baby Dawn, obviously together and very happy which has been one of Buffy's wishes for a long time now, and Joyce asks Buffy, "Don't you want to be the big sister?" Buffy's response, "No, I wanna be the baby," is so perfect to her character and makes complete sense in where her mind's at. Back in "No Place Like Home" she posed the question, "why can't I ever be L'il Punkin' Belly?" Buffy really wants to still be a girl with a loving mom and a dad. The world is forcing her to grow up and she's fighting it with every last fiber of her being. This is a struggle that isn't completely overcome until the immensely important "Normal Again", and I really sympathize with her every step of the way.

    In this same scene we see Buffy ask to take care of Dawn sometimes, which shows that a part of her still wants to accept some of that responsibility. Willow then sees Buffy replaying the Spirit Guide's message: "Death is your This leads to current-age Buffy, dressed in black, smothering Dawn with a pillow. This makes it clear that Buffy still sees that message as meaning that her ability to kill things is her gift. Willow's trying to say that she's not really sure what it means, but Buffy won't listen.

    Eventually after some prodding from Willow we get some clear answers as to why Buffy's retreated into herself. We find out that recently, for a brief moment, it just hit her that "Glory will beat me. And in that second of knowing it, Will... I wanted it to happen ... I wanted it over. This is, all of this, too much for me. I just wanted it over. If Glory wins, then Dawn dies. I would grieve. People would feel sorry for me. But it would all be over. I imagined what a relief that would be. I killed Buffy feels that her thinking she'll lose made it happen -- made her lose Dawn.

    But Willow's there to tell her it's not over yet: "You've carried the weight of the world on your shoulders since high school. And I know you didn't ask for this, but you do it, every day. And so you wanted out for one second, so what?" Succinctly put Willow. This manages to get Buffy out of her land of guilt, although it's obvious from the moment she snaps out of it that she still has to expell her sorrow. Then, after all of this, she comes back only to find out that if Glory's ritual starts, the only way to stop it is to actually kill her sister. Yikes.

    On the other side of the fight we see a morally confused Glory and a morally compromised Ben, both negotiating and fighting with each other while Dawn's caught in the middle. It's interesting that in extended presence of Dawn the magic that separates Ben and Glory begins to dissapate causing short boughts of confusion and further insanity for Glory and loads of guilt and disgust from Ben. This is very cool and allows each to feel what the other is feeling. Glory feels guilty for what she's doing and even tries to make Dawn feel better, which is completely antithetical to the definition of a hellgod. At this point Ben still isn't willing to sacrifice Dawn to save himself. Glory just wants to physically rip Ben out of her and asks a minion to do as much. The minion tells her one of the things I love about this series, "You risk terrible magics in opening the portal. Nothing comes without a price. This is In Buffy magic always has consequences -- a price.

    The shining moment of this episode for me is when Glory goes on about human existence. Here's a grim and chilling look on our race: "People. How do they function? Here. Like this, in the world, with all this bile running through them. Every day, it's... Whooo... you have no control they're not even animals they're just these meatbaggy slaves to hormones and pheromones and their, and their... feelings. Hate 'em! I mean really, is this what the poets go on about? This? Call me crazy, but as hard core drugs go, human emotion's just useless. People are puppets, everyone getting jerked around by what they're feeling - am I wrong? Really, I want to Glory is right to an extent. Humans are often ruled by their emotions, often-times overly so. But as Buffy tells Kendra way back in "What's My Line? Pt. 2", "my emotions give me power. They're total assets!" And Buffy was right. Without these emotions we'd live in a world that was excessively uninteresting... where life wouldn't even be worth living.

    Glory goes on to say, in her most potent piece of dialogue ever, "Funny, 'cause I look around at this world you're so eager to be a part of, and all I see's six billion lunatics looking for the fastest ride out. Who's not crazy? Look around - everyone's drinkin', smokin', shootin' up, shootin' each other or just plain screwing their brains out because they don't want 'em anymore. I'm crazy? Honey, I'm the original one-eyed chicklet in the kingdom of the blind 'cause at least I admit the world makes me nuts. Name one person who can take it here. That's all I'm asking - name Wow.

    Dawn claims Buffy can, but we can see she's having all kinds of issues living in this world. But fortunately humanity is not as dark as Glory would have us see it. For all the awful stuff Glory talks about, which is unfortunately a part of humanity, there is an opposite in the positive. There are people loving, sharing, helping, and caring. People with joy in their lives and in their families. Sometimes it can feel the way Glory puts it -- just watch the local evening news. But fortunately life is more a mix of the good with the bad, which is what makes living just so interesting.

    All of this comes into play during the scene where Ben and Glory are frequently melting into each other. Glory is trying to negotiate with Ben, even offering him immortality, to allow her to bleed Dawn. Ben isn't willing to kill Dawn himself before the ritual -- he can't bring himself to do that. But when Glory offers him immortality, and he knows she means it, he changes his mind and decides to cooperate with Glory. She tells him "When you're immortal, all this crap you've been carrying around inside - the guilt, the anger, the crazy-making pain... it all just melts away, like ice cream. Trust me. When all this is over, I can set you up real nice. I'm making it easy. It's you - or the Well, Ben finally decides to go with himself.

    At this point, though, I must express some confusion as to what Ben's options actually are. If he kills Dawn early then Glory will fade and he'll have his life to live. If he lets Glory bleed Dawn he'll cease to exist unless Glory hooks him up, which she offers here. But if he helps get Dawn get away from Glory wouldn't that be better for everyone except Glory? Glory would fade, Ben would have his life, and Dawn would live. I'm confused as to why Ben never considered this option.

    Anyway, I feel this episode is a real success. It gets us thinking about all the choices in front of all the players and the tough decisions they must all make. We get to see and feel what both the heroes and the villains are seeing and feeling which makes the final fight in "The Gift" all the more powerful. "The Weight of the World" isn't perfect by any means, and it can be a bit slow in places, but I think it succeeds at giving this entire situation more depth and perspective.moreless
  • A dream within a dream?


    The Good;

    The dream sequence is wonderful, nice scene between Doc and Xander/Spike too. Love the forgetting Glory joke (as did the writers of Dr Who).

    The Bad;

    Very much a standing still sort of ep but hinting at better things to come. If Doc could tell that Joyce had good DNA from a hair off Dawn's head then surely he'd realise she was the Key? (Glory can tell it by tasting Tara's blood)

    Best line;

    Dawn "I want to go home" (AAAAWWWWWW!)


    Dawn hostage is horrible. Buffy in her dream smothering Dawn is UTTERLY horrible! Killing Dawn is unthinkable.

    Kinky dinky;

    Spike says he thinks Buffy likes it rough. How right he will be proved to be!

    Captain Subtext;

    Again Glory seems to have some genuine rapport/attraction with her Key. Glory says that she and Dawn need 'Girl time' and 'big girl fun'.

    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: 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;

    Different little Buffy this time and I think she's a much better match, if you've ever seen the burger ads she really does resemble 6 year old SMG. Lovely to see Joyce and Hank again, lovely to see the first meeting between Buffy and Dawn and what she means to Buffy. We see Glory try to bring her worldly goods with her to her home dimension, humanity working on demons once again. Willow in charge once more foretelling season 6. Glory actually uses Dawn's catchphrase 'Get out!'

    So Ben, good guy, bad guy? Hard to judge but ultimately a bad guy with some sympathetic qualitities. Maybe in the end Ben is influenced by his Glory side to be evil?

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • Sustain in the Membrane

    The Weight of the World-Despite their best efforts, Glory has succeeded in taking Dawn. This failure after so much effort proves too much for Buffy and she slips into a catatonic state. Willow must use magick to enter her mind and help her work through the trauma before it is too late to save Dawn. Or the rest of the world.

    Being the penultimate episode of the series, "The Weight of The World" ironically has it's own weight to carry by leading into the finale. "The Weight of The World" is often seen as an episode that drags given some slow scenes and the overall feelings of pointlessness of the hour. But I for one, liked this episode a lot. Willow's mini-adventure into Buffy's mind is nifty and has some cool, surreal moments. Although, I do agree the repeated senario scenes inside Buffy do get tedious and tiresome, making you wish that part of the episode would get to the point. But the big reveal behind Buffy's comatouse state is heartbreaking as she admits that she once wanted Glory to win and let Dawn die for it all to be over. It's shocking for Buffy to think that way, yet at the same time, how couldn't she. After losing so much this season, it's understandable that she would feel defeated and hopeless. But Willow's speech was inspiring and loved how she rejuvenated Buffy's sense of responsiblity.

    The other half of the episode is Glory preparing Dawn for her to bleed. The inner struggle between Glory and Ben is fascinating, especially the great switching effects between Ben and Glory as each other try to take control. It's a shame that Ben chose to help Glory in the end, instead of trying to develop the character more than just a plot and more as a character trying to seek redemption, he turns out to be a gullible fool in the end. Also, the continuing gag throughout the episode where everyone keeps forgetting Glory is Ben and Spike getting irritated by their stupidity is priceless. "The Weight of the World" is a great set piece that leads into the finale very well giving a sense of dread as Giles' last words to Buffy in the episode is "the only way is to kill Dawn".moreless
  • The Weight of the World

    The Weight of the World was a superb episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Weight of the World has finally crushed Buffy's spirit and she falls into a catatonic state after losing Dawn. This episode was so interesting and dream like. I really enjoyed watching and trying to figure out what was going on in Buffy's mind. It was cool to see Willow take control and give the gang assignments while she works on helping Buffy. There was a lot of character development in this episode. In the end Buffy comes out of it and starts planning her next move. I can't wait to watch the final episode of this season!!!!moreless
  • Season 5, Episode 21.

    Glory has captured Dawn. Buffy, after all of her efforts have failed, enters a catatonic state. Willow attempts to enter Buffy's thoughts in an attempt to get her back to normal in time to rescue Dawn.

    This episode was pretty good. I liked the whole Willow in Buffy's thoughts thing. Little Buffy was so adorable when Joyce brought Dawn home! :) Plus, Ben is hot. Haha. It was really weird watching Buffy kill Dawn in her dream. I was really hoping Ben would help Dawn escape, but then it wouldn't be interesting. That old guy that helped Dawn with the resurrection was sooo weird. Like weirdness overdose. Anyway, good episode.moreless
Lily Knight

Lily Knight


Guest Star

Bob Morrisey

Bob Morrisey

Crazy #1

Guest Star

Joel Grey

Joel Grey


Guest Star

Clare Kramer

Clare Kramer


Recurring Role

Charlie Weber

Charlie Weber


Recurring Role

Dean Butler

Dean Butler

Hank Summers

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Goof: The anointment markings on Dawn's forehead disappear and reappear throughout the scenes with Glory until Ben appears when they appear for the last time and disappear for good once he tries to escape with her.

    • Goof: In season 2's "Killed By Death" the young Buffy had dark hair as did the Buffy in Dawn's memory in "Blood Ties", but here the little girl playing Buffy has blonde hair.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Buffy: I wanted it over. This is... All of this... It's too much for me. I just wanted it over. If Glory wins, then Dawn dies. And I would grieve. People would feel sorry for me. But it would be over. And I imagined what a relief it would be.

    • Willow: (talking to Xander and Spike) Buffy's out. Glory has Dawn. Some time real soon, she's going to use Dawn to tear down the barrier between every dimension there is. So if you two want to fight, you do it after the world ends, 'kay?

    • Willow: I know you. You're the first original Slayer who tried killing us all in our dreams... How've you been?
      The Slayer: Death is your gift.
      Buffy: Death is my gift?
      Willow: Wait. Death is her what?

    • Willow: You've been carrying the weight of the world since High School, Buffy.

    • Spike: Is everyone here very stoned?

  • NOTES (3)

    • When Glory and Dawn first arive at the tower, Glory screams at her minions, "Get out, get out, get out!" in a very similar fashion to Dawn's famous tantrums.

    • Kristine Sutherland is listed as a "Special Guest-Star" along with Joel Grey.

    • The date on Joyce's head stone in Buffy's mind says that Joyce was born in 1958, which was possibly intentional since Kristine Sutherland (Joyce) was also born in 1958.


    • Glory: I'm crazy? Honey, I'm the original one-eyed chicklet in the kingdom of the blind.

      This is a reference to a classic quote by the Dutch philosopher Erasmus:
      In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

    • Willow: I think we already deja'd this vu.
      The psychological condition known as "déjà vu" (French for "already seen") occurs when a person thinks that they are constantly re-living or repeating incidents from their life. This is, of course, what Buffy keeps doing in her mind.

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