Oh Glory- How a Hellgod Dominated the Buffyverse
Note: Massive spoilers for season five.
The seasonal villains of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (usually referred to as Big Bads) are distinct and almost always very well done (except you, Adam. You were awful). They each have their own personalities, connections to the Scoobies, and motivations, and were almost never merely big obstacles because the series needed one.
While the debate could go on forever over which Big Bad was the best, this article will explore the astounding success of one in particular; The Hellgod Glorificus.
Season five of BtVS started off in, what seemed to be, the biggest way possible. Buffy fights Dracula. As a show about a character whose job it is slay vampires, it was perhaps inevitable that she would go toe to toe with the most famous creature of the night. This huge first episode, however, is only the tip of the iceberg as it ends revealing Buffy’s younger sister Dawn.
We, as an audience, know that Buffy doesn’t have a younger sister, but all of the characters act as if she’s always been there. It is soon revealed to us, and Buffy, that Dawn is a magical artifact known only as The Key that was transformed into a human girl in order to hide her from a creature called The Abomination. The organization that did this, The Order of Dagon, also implanted everyone around The Key with false memories, so that they would protect her no matter what.
The Abomination, better know as Glorificus or simply Glory, bursts onto the scene along with this revelation, and she certainly makes an impression. She effortlessly defeats Buffy and decimates The Order of Dagon, all while looking and acting like a spoiled twenty-something from Beverly Hills. Buffy and the Scoobies find out from the Watchers Council that Glory is a god and cannot be killed. Throughout the season we learn that Glory had ruled a Hell dimension with two other gods, though she grew so great in power that the other two warred with her, and eventually banished her to Earth. Once on Earth, she was bound inside of a human child, created specifically as a vessel for her. Glory only wants The Key to open a portal to her home dimension, which unfortunately would never close and eventually merge with Earth.
One of the truly great things about Glory as a Big Bad is the fact that her motivation is so simple, and has nothing directly to do with Buffy or Earth. She only wants to return home, it’s merely that her return would cause an apocalypse and personally affect Buffy and the Scoobies by ripping Dawn from them.
She also had a surprising amount of things going on, which contributed to her character, and also affected the Scoobies in unexpected ways. The human that she was contained in, Ben Wilkinson, was a young doctor at Sunnydale Memorial, and soon befriended Buffy, her mother, and Dawn. This, of course, ends badly as Ben and Glory inhabited the same body, and over the course of the season their personalities began to merge (or more likely, Glory’s began to override Ben’s). As a result of being bound inside of a human being, Glory had to constantly drain other human beings of their sanity in order to preserve her own, which eventually brings her into direct conflict with Willow, after the Hellgod does this to Willow’s girlfriend Tara.
Glory is also notable as being the first Big Bad of the Buffyverse to be a woman (or to present as female, as we do not know if Hellgods have a specific sex or concept of gender in their true forms). It is unfortunately rare to see a female character as a main villain on television, let alone a main villain that was as interesting as Glorificus. She is able to physically overpower every other character in the series, spit one-liners, but still enjoy what society considers to be traditionally ‘girly’ things like going shopping for shoes, taking a bubble bath or wearing nice dresses.
In the end, even though she’s defeated, Glory accomplishes more than nearly any other Big Bad in the series. She destroys both organizations that attack her, uses The Key to open the portal back to her Hell, and she causes Buffy’s (2nd and much more dramatic and heart-wrenching) death. For all of these reasons, Glory will always be one of (if not the) most effective Big Bads in the entirety of the Buffyverse.