Synopsis by Brian J. Dillard
As the gang digest the implications of Glory (Clare Kramer) being a hell-god rather than a garden-variety demon, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) lays another whopper on them. She reveals that Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) is "The Key" that Glory so desperately seeks. Although Dawn herself caught snippets of that knowledge two episodes earlier (see "Triangle"), she doesn't grasp its implications until Spike (James Marsters) helps her sneak into the magic shop and read up on her origins. Horrified to learn that she is not truly human but rather an ancient mystical force given mortal form and memories mere months ago, the distraught teen experiences a meltdown in the midst of Buffy's 20th birthday party. The Scoobies are unsure how to comfort her, so the Slayer goes into research mode while Willow (Alyson Hannigan) works on a sort of supernatural burglar alarm to protect Dawn. As Glory is off decimating the ranks of the Knights of Byzantium, Dawn continues to act out her feelings of alienation. She sneaks out to the hospital to commune with the unfortunates who have been driven mad by Glory's soul-draining touch and are therefore capable of seeing what Dawn truly is. Dawn soon runs into Ben (Charlie Weber), the handsome doctor who recently treated her mother and who unwillingly shares his body with Glory. Ben intuits that Dawn is The Key, but then Glory takes over his body and, failing to make the same realization, tries to pump Dawn for information. Buffy shows up and brawls with Glory, who is vanquished only when Willow and Tara (Amber Benson) slap her with a teleportation spell. Unfortunately, though, Dawn's memory of Ben transforming into Glory seems to have been erased, opening a vulnerability the hell-god will exploit in the subsequent episode "Spiral." Originally broadcast February 6, 2001, on the WB network, "Blood Ties" marked episode 91 of the cult-favorite series.