"Blood Ties"
Written by Steven DeKnight; directed by Michael Gershman

Willow tells Buffy that, no matter what they’re dealing with, the Scoobies are having a birthday party for Buffy the next night. The Scoobies discuss Glory, and Giles reveals that being in human form is affecting her mental state. She remains sane by sucking brains, which makes Buffy realize that the increase in psych ward patients is connected to her. Xander asks about the Key and Buffy announces that she and Giles already know where it is. She decides that it’s time to fill them in on Dawn. In a graveyard, Orlando, the Knight of Byzantium that Buffy talked to in “Checkpoint,” chants with other Knights, “The Key is the link. The link must be severed. Such is the will of God.” Dreg, Jinx, and another minion arrive and fight the Knights. Jinx is the only one spared, and he is only saved when Glory arrives, killing the Knights and sparing Orlando.

Dawn arrives at the Magic Box to find Willow and Tara doing a warning spell outside. If Glory comes to the shop, a siren will go off; they’ve already done the same spell at the Summers’ house. After Dawn goes inside, Tara wonders how she can’t be real and Willow says that she is. Inside, Xander and Anya both act strangely around Dawn, but she doesn’t think too much of it. Dawn taunts Buffy about worrying that she has to fight someone prettier than her and comments that she doesn’t think Glory looks that tough. In her apartment, Glory asks Orlando where the Key is and he refuses to tell her. She decides to suck his brain instead. The birthday party begins at the Summers’ house, where the birthday Slayer receives a dress from Willow and Tara and a homemade picture frame from Dawn. Dawn begins to grow suspicious of everyone’s behavior around her and she complains that no one lets her in on anything. She goes up to her room, then sneaks out her window.

Outside, Dawn runs into Spike, who has come over with the box of chocolates he was planning to give Buffy in “Triangle.” She tells him that she’s going to the Magic Box to steal stuff and asks if he wants to come along, which he does. When they get there, Dawn hunts for Giles’ notes on Glory. They read about the Key and Spike gets distracted by Olaf’s troll hammer (see “Triangle”). He translates one of Giles’ notes as saying that only crazy people can see “the Key’s true nature.” Dawn remembers the security guard in “Listening to Fear” and the crazy guy in “Real Me” saying strange things about her. She reads that the Key can also be detected by animals, and remembers Fake the Snake finding her in “Shadow.” Spike reads through the notes and reveals that the monks sent the Key to Buffy in human form for protection: “in the form of a sister.” “I guess that’s you, nibblet,” he says to Dawn.

Back at Casa Summers, Buffy is telling Willow and Tara that she hasn’t heard anything from Riley when Dawn enters the house. Buffy is shocked to see that her arm is bleeding and she is holding a knife. “Is this blood?” Dawn asks. Joyce and Giles rush into the room as Dawn protests that she’s not a Key. She tearfully asks if she’s real and Joyce tries to comfort her. Later, Giles asks Buffy if he should stay, but she replies that the situation is a family problem. Upstairs, Dawn asks Buffy why she didn’t tell her the truth and Joyce replies that they wanted to wait until she was older. Dawn is upset to hear that she’s only existed for six months. Buffy and Joyce try to comfort Dawn, but she yells the now-classic line, “Get out, GET OUT, GET OUT!”

At the Magic Box the next day, Buffy tells Giles that Dawn deserves to know more about herself. He wonders how she got into the shop as Anya finds cigarette butts in an urn. Buffy immediately goes to Spike’s crypt and blasts him for letting Dawn find out about herself from a diary. He tells her that she should have been more honest with her. Joyce tries to get Dawn to go to school, but Dawn would rather complain about being a Key and tell Joyce that she’s not really her mother. In the end, she winds up going anyway just to get out of the house. In the hospital psych ward, Ben recognizes Orlando as a Knight of Byzantium. Jinx appears and tells Ben that the Knights have indeed arrived, then reminds him that his “fate is linked” to Glory. Ben tells him that Glory can’t hurt him.

Dawn looks through all of her diaries in her room as Buffy and Joyce discuss her downstairs. Joyce mentions that Dawn was suspended for talking back to a teacher and Dawn hears Buffy say that she isn’t real. She rips up her diaries and throws them and a bunch of her things into a trash can. Joyce and Buffy hear the smoke detector go off and think that it’s Willow’s warning spell. They realize that Dawn has set everything in her trash can on fire and snuck out her window again. The Scoobies gather at the Magic Box before splitting up to look for Dawn. The Key herself is at a playground, recalling a fake memory from her “childhood.”

Buffy and Spike arrive at the playground after she’s already gone and Buffy blames herself for what’s happening. Spike reminds her that Dawn is also a teenager and has intense reactions to everything. Dawn goes to the psych ward, where the patients begin chanting, “It’s here.” She asks them to tell her what she is and Orlando says that she’s the Key. She runs into Ben, who thinks that she’s at the hospital because Joyce is sick again. He sense that she’s had a fight with Buffy and tells her that he has a sister and understands how she feels. She angrily tells him that she’s not real and was only created to be hidden from Glory. Ben realizes that she’s the Key and tells her to leave. Just as he’s telling her that “she’s here,” he morphs into Glory.

Glory warns Dawn not to try to run and asks why she was talking to Ben. Dawn realizes that Glory doesn’t remember the conversation. A guard enters and Glory quickly kills him, then tells Dawn that it’s time for them to have a chat. The Scoobies meet up in a cemetery and decide to check the hospital to see if anything has happened to Dawn. Glory asks Dawn again if she knows where the Key is. Dawn asks for more information. The Scoobies hear a doctor talking about the dead guard and realize that Glory is there. Glory tells Dawn that the Key is evil and grows suspicious when Dawn wants to know what it opens. She realizes that Dawn doesn’t have any useful information, but decides that she can suck Dawn’s brain instead. Buffy arrives and begins to fight Glory. Spike joins the fight while Giles stands at the ready with a crossbow and Willow and Tara do a spell. They throw powder on her and make her disappear. She materializes somewhere over Sunnydale, then falls. Dawn continues to protest that Buffy isn’t her sister. Buffy mixes their blood and tells Dawn that it’s the same. Dawn says that Ben was there but she can’t remember what he told her. As they leave the hospital, Dawn wonders if Joyce will have pity on her and raise her allowance.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: There’s a reason why Ben and Glory are equally annoying.

GRADE: B- Just…shut up, Dawn.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Buffy: “How was school today?”
Dawn: “Um, the usual. Big square building filled with boredom and despair.”
Buffy: “Just how I remember it.”

Buffy: “Prezzies!”
Willow: “See, just what you needed.”
Buffy: “You are very, very wise. Now gimme, gimme, gimme!”

Anya: (re: Buffy’s new dress) “Oh, it's just so lovely! Oh, I wish it was mine! Oh, like you weren't all thinking the same thing.”
Giles: “I'm fairly certain I wasn't. I've got one just like it.”

Xander: “You know, uh…she kinda has a crush on me.”
Giles: “Your point being?”
Xander: “Well, nothing, no, uh…just saying, powerful being…big energy gal digging the Xan-man.”

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