"Checkpoint" revolves around the Watcher's Council arriving in Sunnydale. They have some information on Glory, but the won't give it to Buffy until she proves that she is worthy as the Slayer. They put her through a lot of tests and question all the Scoobies about her abilities. Buffy is frantic to satisfy their demands so that she can learn more about Glory. But the Council seems determined to make her fail. They give her fighting instructions in Japanese. They insinuate that she makes bad choices by including the Scoobies in her battles. And they even say that they can have Giles deported if she doesn't cooperate with them. When Glory comes to her house and starts threatening her family, Buffy really panics. She takes Joyce and Dawn to stay at Spike's, while she heads back to the Magic Box for more Council tests. On her way, she's attacked by a guy dressed like a crusader. He's one of the Knights of Byzanthium, who have been searching for the key for millennia. They will stop at nothing to destroy it and stop Glory. When Buffy gets back to the Magic Box, she tells the Council that she's through with these tests. She's the Slayer and she demands that they do their jobs and give her the information she needs... Now. They agree, finally explaining that Glory isn't a ordinary demon... She's a god.
There's a lot to like about this episode. I love the Council questioning all the Scoobies about Buffy. Willow and Tara have no idea what level witches they are, so they just make it up. "Um... Five?" Anya is baking the Council muffins, trying to hide her demon heritage. Xander can't think of any special skills, knowledge or powers that he might have. But he knows that he was the heart-part of that super-Buffy spell back in season four's "Primeval." "It wasn't as weird as it sounds, though." Spike cheerfully lies about Buffy's Slayer performance, apparently just for his own amusement. "The girl's definitely slipping." Then, he flirts with a Council member who wrote her thesis on him. (On a personal note, I wish I could write my thesis on Spike, but I don't think my adviser would go for it.) And Giles is protective of Buffy, furious at the Council and generally uncooperative. Really it's one of the most entertaining parts of the whole season.
One of the great small moments in the episode is Buffy taking Joyce and Dawn to hide at Spike's tomb. He starts out with his normal demands for money. But, when Buffy tells them that she's being serious, he stops kidding around and listens to her. His old excuse that he's only assisting the Scoobies for payment is fading. He's no longer the Spike from season four's "A New Man." (Who demanded that Giles give him 200 dollars before he helped with that Feural demon mess.) Spike no longer needs that emotional distance from the Scoobie gang. He's a part of it now. Buffy believes that Spike is the only one who can protect her family from Glory while she's with the Council and she asks for his help. Spike is actually touched by her faith in him and agrees. Both Spike and Buffy are making big steps here. She is acknowledging that Spike is on her side now and he's one of the good guys. Buffy is placing her trust in Spike and including him in the Scoobie group. Spike, meanwhile, is accepting the responsibility of Joyce and Dawn. There's nothing in it for him and, since Glory is pretty much unbeatable, he's actually risking his un-life by protecting them. But he's doing it for Buffy and because it's the right thing to do. He and Joyce sit down to watch "Passions," gossiping about the characters, which is just about the funniest scene I've ever seen. I love Spike and Joyce's scenes together. He's always so polite to her. I think that she reminds him of his own mother.
On the down side, what the heck does the Council think it's gonna do if Buffy fails those tests? They can't exactly go to Faith, since she's in prison. Buffy's the only Slayer they've got and if she doesn't stop Glory then the world is over. What's the point of all this "testing"? I guess Buffy's right and it's all just a power play, but still, it seems like a big waste of their time.
My favorite part of the episode: Anya's fear that the Council will discover that she's an ex-demon. From her fictitious childhood in south-eastern Indiana, where she was "rasied by both a mother and a father," to her made-up Fourth of July birthday ("'Where's our little patriot?' everyone would say."), to her shouting "Willow's a demon?" when Buffy tells the Council that there's a 1000 year old ex-demon in the Scoobie ranks... It's all just hilarious.