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Blood Ties

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 5, Episode 13
513 BloodTies
Air date February 6, 2001
Written by Steven S. DeKnight
Directed by Michael Gershman
Episode Guide
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Clare Kramer Glory
Charlie Weber Ben
Troy T. Blendell Jinx
Amber Benson Tara
Kristine Sutherland Joyce Summers
Co Starring
Justin Gorence Orlando
Michael Emanuel Burly Guard
Joe Ochman Janitor
Paul Bates Crazie #1
Carl J. Johnson Crazie #2
Candice Nicole Young Buffy
Elyssa D. Vito Young Dawn
W. Glenn Malmskog Stunt Minion
Scott Rhodes Demon Monk
Paul Hayes Older Nightwatchman
Bob Morrisey Crazy Guy

"Blood Ties" is the thirteenth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is the ninety-first episode altogether. It was written by Steven S. DeKnight and directed by Michael Gershman. It originally broadcast on February 6, 2001.

Dawn makes a profound discovery about herself and her origin. Ben is revealed to share a body with Glory.


513 BloodTies1

Glory 'feeds' off Orlando.

The Scooby Gang discusses plans for Buffy's birthday and dealing with Glory. Giles tells everyone of the new information they have regarding Glory that the council has provided; she was a hellgod from one of the darker demon dimensions who has somehow found her way into ours. While she is immortal and apparently invulnerable due to being stuck in human form, she is also mostly insane and needs to suck mental energy from humans, thus explaining the sudden increase of people going crazy in Sunnydale. Xander suggests that they try hunting down the Key that Glory is looking for, but as the gang start to discuss this plan Buffy and Giles admit they know where the Key is. Xander and Willow are hurt that information was kept from them, and Buffy decides to tell the gang the truth about Dawn, reasoning that they deserve to know the full story as their lives will be on the line. Several of the Knights of Byzantium chant around a fire before they are interrupted by Jinx, one of Glory's minions. Glory arrives and kills all of the Knights except Orlando, whom she later tortures for information.

At the Magic Box, everyone is awkward around Dawn given their new knowledge of her origins, which she picks up on. Giles hides a book in a hidden counter drawer, which Dawn also notices. Later at a gathering for her birthday, Buffy opens presents from her friends soon it is time for Dawn's gift, and she gives Buffy a photo from a vacation they took to the beach with their dad. As Dawn talks about the vacation everyone goes quiet picking up on Buffy's sadness, knowing that the vacation is just another false memory. Nevertheless, Buffy is still touched by the thoughtful gift and hugs her sister close. Later, Dawn overhears Buffy, Giles, and Joyce talking about her in kitchen, discussing if her existence poses any kind of danger. When Xander and Anya go quiet when Dawn approaches, she finally lays into everyone for their constant secrecy around her before running to her room.

513 BloodTies2

Dawn: This is blood, isn't it? It can't be me. I'm not a key. I'm not a thing.

After sneaking out of the house, Dawn runs into Spike, who was keeping his typical watch outside Buffy's house. After a brief conversation, Dawn tells Spike that she is on her way to the Magic Shop to steal a book.

Spike notes the myriad dangers of roaming around alone at night, and then he accepts Dawn's offer to let him tag along. With Spike's assistance, Dawn breaks into the shop and finds the book that she had seen Giles hide earlier. Reading Giles's entries about the Key, she reads that it is outside human perception and can only be seen by psychics and mad-men, causing her to remember being confronted about not being real by crazy people. Although Dawn gets a really bad feeling, she nevertheless keeps reading and finds out that the Key can also be seen by snakes and dogs, and she remembers how Glory's snake seemed to have a special interest in her. Dawn has already realized the truth as Spike takes over the reading and confirms what it now obvious to her... the monks, seeking to make sure the slayer would protect the Key no matter what, sent it to her transformed into a sister. Spike is surprised, as Dawn's world starts to crumble.

As the gang discusses the fact that Riley hasn't sent so much as a message to Buffy for her birthday, Dawn suddenly emerges, bleeding from a self-inflicted knife wound, tearfully questioning what she is. Buffy and Joyce are horrified that Dawn has found out the truth, the party is brought to an abrupt end and everyone else leaves so they can try to talk to Dawn, but everything has changed for her and she's scared, so she demands that they leave her alone.

The next day at the Magic Box, Buffy walks in demanding from Giles all the information there is about the Key so she can give Dawn some answers. Anya notices some cigarette butts in an urn, and Buffy realizes that Spike had a hand in Dawn finding out the truth the way she did and storms to his crypt, ready to beat the living snot out of him. However, Spike turns the tables on her and blames her for not telling Dawn the truth in the first place. He also notes that Dawn was going with or without him and that he only went along to protect her from harm, thinking that she would be safer with "Big Bad" looking over her shoulder. Now she's only going after him to make herself feel better. Sensing the truth in Spike's words, Buffy leaves. 

At the Summers house, Dawn initially refuses to go to school but when Joyce tries to be there for her daughter, Dawn refuses and decides to head to school anyway.

513 BloodTies3

Glory: Oh, sh-

Jinx threatens Ben at the hospital, but Ben reveals that Glory can't hurt him, no matter what he does. Joyce talks to Buffy later, telling her that Dawn got herself suspended from school. Buffy explains that as far as Dawn's concerned she's not real and nothing she does matters. Dawn overhears them and misunderstands the conversation as the two agreeing she's not really their daughter/sister. She then rampages through her room, burns her diaries, and runs away. The smoke alarm alerts Buffy and her mom to Dawn's little fire and departure.

The gang gathers at the Magic Box and then splits up to search for Dawn. Spike does what he can to comfort Buffy, and tells her that they will find her sister before it's too late. Buffy then admits that Spike had been right about Dawn - Buffy should have been honest with her in the first place. Dawn passes through the park, reliving past memories only to be reminded of their falseness, then ends up at the hospital.

She searches for answers in the Psych ward, trying to persuade the mental patients to tell them what they see when they look at her, then runs into Ben. She blurts out to Ben that she's the Key and he freaks out trying to make her leave before Glory can find her, but it's too late. Ben suddenly changes into Glory, but Glory remembers nothing about Ben's conversation with Dawn and the young girl pretends to know nothing. Dawn questions Glory about the Key trying to get more information, and Glory reveals that The Key is very old then realizes Dawn knows nothing and is wasting her time. Dawn doesn't seem to remember exactly how Glory got into the room.

Buffy shows up in time to stop Glory from draining the energy from Dawn. With some help from the rest of the gang, Buffy gets in a few good hits and takes a few as well before Willow and Tara perform a spell to teleport Glory somewhere else. The godly one ends up high in the sky and falls straight to earth. Buffy shows Dawn that no matter what, they are sisters and bound by blood. Dawn tries to tell Buffy that Ben turned into Glory, but can't seem to recall the information correctly, thinking that Ben was there then left before Glory arrived. The two sisters then head the home, their relationship slowly returning to normal.


  • Although a link between Ben and Glory had been previously suggested (in "Listening to Fear", Ben told Dreg that he had summoned the Queller to 'clean up Glory's mess, like he had done his whole life'), this is the first time we see that Ben and Glory share a body, although neither retains memories of the other's activities.
  • It is also noteworthy that Dawn (after a brief interval) does not remember Ben changing into Glory; this memory glitch, courtesy of Glory, will be a recurring phenomenon throughout this season, affecting everyone who witnesses the shift (except Spike).
  • When Dawn gets upset with Joyce and Buffy in her bedroom she shouts "Get out. Get out! Get out! Get out!" She shouts the same thing, in the same place, in the episode "Older and Far Away" in the 6th season.
  • The 12th or 13th episode of each season is traditionally when Buffy celebrates her birthday; her birthday takes place in episode 13 of Season Two ("Surprise"), episode 12 of Season Three ("Helpless"), episode 12 of Season Four ("A New Man") and episode 14 of Season Six ("Older and Far Away"). Buffy's birthday is not shown celebrated in Season One (it presumably occurred before the beginning of the half-long season) or in Season Seven.
  • The rest of the Scooby Gang, as well as Dawn herself, learn that Dawn is the Key.
  • We also learn that Dawn arrived six months ago, according to Buffy. It is very probable that Dawn arrived in the moment that Buffy entered her room, at the end of "Buffy vs. Dracula".
  • This episode marks the beginning of the bond between Dawn and Spike, like a younger sister and older brother or niece and uncle, which will last throughout the rest of the series.
  • This episode implies, in the scene where Dawn looks at the swing and she sees Buffy and herself being pushed on it, that Buffy, Joyce, and Dawn were in Sunnydale long before it was implied in the first season that they just moved there, although it is equally likely that the swing just reminded Dawn of another swing that she & Buffy played on when they lived in LA.
  • Dawn harms herself, a recurring theme in the series. At the end, Buffy assures her she is family as she has "Summers blood" which will have greater meaning in the season' finale 'The Gift'. 
  • In her fight with Glory, while Buffy is unable to defeat the Hellgod (something she can't do until "The Gift"), she puts up a much better fight, lasting a bit longer and even landing a few good blows, unlike the last time they fought. This occurs in their later fights until Buffy gains the upper hand in "The Gift." This shows Buffy's adaptability to fighting stronger opponents, something she shows in her later fights with Caleb in season 7.
  • Spike's intended gift for Buffy is the same box of chocolates with which he practiced his lines on (and bludgeoned) the Buffy mannequin in "Triangle".
  • Older, Dawn would later come to terms with her condition as the Key and her whole life being false, as herself reveals in 'Old Demons'.

Body Count

  • Dreg, killed by the Knights of Byzantium
  • Two unidentified minions of Glory, killed by the Knights of Byzantium
  • Three Knights of Byzantium, killed by Glory with a sword
  • One security guard, had his neck snapped by Glory

Behind the Scenes


Pop Culture References 

  • Glory made a reference to the television series Gentle Ben
Glory: "What I'm tryin' to noodle, is what in the world was the Slayer's little sis doin' here with Gentle Ben?"

International titles

  • French: La clé (The key)
  • German: Blutsbande (Blood Ties)



  • While Dawn and Spike are talking outside, Spike's breath is visible despite his being a vampire and having no breath.



Buffy - "Maybe it's time to start a new tradition: birthdays without boyfriends. It can be just as fun."
Willow - "Preachin' to the choir, here, baby."
Buffy - "How was school today?"
Dawn - "Um, the usual, big square building filled with boredom and despair."
Buffy - "Just how I remember it."
Buffy - "Glory is evil. And powerful. And in no way prettier than me."
Anya - "Oh, it's just so lovely! Ooh, I wish it was mine! Oh, like you weren't all thinking the same thing!"
Giles - "I'm fairly certain I wasn't. (whispers to Xander) I've got one just like it."
Glory - (after being teleported high in the sky) "Oh shi...!" (falls)
Buffy - "Are you okay? Did she hurt you?"
Dawn - "Why do you care?"
Buffy - "Because I love you. You're my sister."
Dawn - "No, I'm not."
Buffy - "Yes, you are. Look, it's blood. It's Summers blood. It's just like mine. It doesn't matter where you came from, or-or how you got here. You are my sister. There's no way you could annoy me so much if you weren't."

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