How Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s ‘Glory’ Was Far More Misunderstood Than We Remember
The eponymous heroine of the late ’90s/early ’00s television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her Scooby Gang have faced innumerable monsters that made their way from various myths into popular culture.
This includes but isn’t limited to dangerous humans, undead, ghosts and spirits, vampires (of course), wizards and witches, and demons, as well as half-demons and “Old Ones” (Cthullu for all intents and purposes). Some of them were forgettable vampire henchmen, while others stuck with the audience to this day.
However, few are as memorable as Glorificus (Clare Kramer), commonly known as Glory, a powerful goddess from a hellish domain. Glory appeared in Season 5, as the unstoppable force Buffy and the Scooby Gang had to deal with, and as powerful as she was, the not-so-typical Big Bad didn’t want to sow death, destruction, and world domination but something less ambitious. If that’s so, let’s examine the perspective from which Glory isn’t as Big of a Bad as we remember.
As we just mentioned, Glory had less ambitious plans than the Angeluses and Masters of Sunnydale, but rather her main objective was simply to make it back home. Although home was a hell dimension of unimaginable pain and suffering where welcome mats were few and far between, it was still her dimensional abode.
To elaborate, Glory, or the Beast as she was known, was a goddess from a hellish dimension where she ruled alongside her two other god-like entities. For a long time, the three ruled their domain with equal power, but Glory’s power increased, growing beyond anything her former equals could muster together.
As her power grew, so did her lust for inflicting pain and suffering on the residents of her domain. She gained prominence as the most powerful and the most frightening among the three entities. So, out of fear that she would lay hold of their domain entirely for herself, the other two struck at her first. This started a great way, which Glory lost. She was cast out into the earthly dimension, bound to share a form with a human – a boy named Ben, whose sole purpose was to act as her vessel and “contain” her.
Surprisingly, despite her defeat, Glory proved too powerful to contain in a human form, and, after Ben had turned 20, she mustered enough strength to take over his body for short periods of time, transforming Ben into a beautiful but narcissistic woman. Her otherworldly power also granted her some superhuman abilities, like increased strength, speed, and near invulnerability. However, she was also very limited by her vessel, as the human body and mind weren’t intended to contain that power of a goddess.
This “co-share” slowly drove Glory insane. In order to maintain her mental stability, she had to feed off humans. But instead of feeding on human blood, like the vampires that she disdained, Glory would feed on human mental energy in a process Buffy and her friends called “brain-sucking.” She would insert her fingers into the victim’s head and feed off their mental energies, leaving many of her victims babbling, incoherent, and mostly brain dead.
This sounds really bad, and so far the series’ writers had seemingly only replaced blood-sucking vampires with a brain-sucking deity, so there’s really not much of a difference. But they didn’t. One of the consequences that her victims suffered was the ability to see Dawn, Buffy’s sister, in her real form, which is The Key. Dawn was also introduced in Season 5 as Buffy’s younger sister after it was well established that Buffy was an only child. This made very little sense since the mystery of her sudden appearance wasn’t acknowledged by the other characters form the show.
As it was revealed later in the show, The Key was transformed int a human form by a group of monks tasked with protecting it from Glory and put in one place where no monster would dare look – at the Slayer’s side as her sister – via a memory altering spell. The purpose if this object-turned-person is to open portals to alternate dimensions, which is exactly what Glory wants to exploit to return home.
But mishandling The Key would cause the barriers separating all dimensions, including the one between Earth and other infernal dimensions, to break down, causing all worlds to seep into each other, finally bringing Hell’s reign to Earth. Despite knowing what damage using The Key could cause, Glory remained adamant about using it to return to her dimension, to be restored to the height of her former glory (pun very intended) and to exact vengeance upon those who had wronged her and cursed her with enduring a human form.
From that perspective, as a very powerful being who only wanted to go home and didn’t want anything to do with the human trifles of mortgages, mid-day traffic, and sales tax, she was ultimately a pitiable figure. Now, okay, perhaps brain eating and supernatural mayhem were not the best cries for help or sympathy one could muster, but as a demonic hellion, I am sure sharing was not one of her strong suits. She was short-tempered and took violent retaliation at the smallest of insults – but then, which deity doesn’t?
Ultimately, her actions, though evil, weren’t done for earthly domination but out of an all-consuming desire to return home where she already ruled. This makes her very misunderstood as a series Big Bad, especially in comparison with some of the other villains, like the First Evil, or the anarchistic, wild and fun Drusilla and Spike.
In the end, Buffy beat Glory until she reverted to human form (turning back to Ben) and then died in the process to save her sister and the rest of the world by closing the portal to hell Glory’s minions opened. Still not the worst of endings.
Original article at Black Girl Nerds.
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