Buffy 5×06: Family

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 11/07/2000]

This is an episode that is fairly simplistic in its characterizations but still manages to provide solid entertainment. While not an example of Whedon’s best work, there remains much to like about this one. The main plot is about Tara, her isolation from the Scooby Gang, and her family who comes to drag her home. There’s also a handful of excellent small scenes that touch on issues ranging from the Buffy/Riley relationship to Spike’s violent sexualized fantasies with Buffy (while actually having sex with Harmony) to a little more insight into Glory’s methods and personality. The side material works a lot better than the core plot, which is mostly due to Tara’s family being sadly one-sided, which is especially unusual for a Whedon episode. When the two aspects are mixed together, though, the result is still pretty entertaining.

The review shall begin as the episode begins: with Buffy telling Giles about Dawn and Glory. I must say I’m really impressed and pleased to see Buffy telling Giles about Glory and Dawn’s true nature immediately. This is beautiful development and a trust that stems from Buffy’s growth that began all the way back in “Revelations” [3×07] when she didn’t tell Giles about Angel being back. I’m also pleased they decided not to tell anyone else about this. Buffy’s logic here is spot-on, because when the other Scoobies find out about Dawn in “Blood Ties” [5×13] , they do end up acting weird around her.

I like that, much later on, Buffy can ‘sense’ the demons in the room with her even though she couldn’t see them. All that training and concentration excercise is paying off. I also liked how the Tara plot and the Glory plot interconnected. This is an entertaining little fight sequence which proves to be very refreshing. This episode isn’t about Buffy though — it’s about Tara. Whedon tries hard to make us sympathize with her, too hard even. The whole episode is designed around making the viewers and the Scoobies feel like Tara is really part of the gang, and in that goal I feel it only partially succeeds, mostly due to how uninteresting and undeveloped her relatives are.

The setup to all of this begins when Tara is telling a joke that no one else understands. I do sympathize with her a bit; it’s got to be tough to break into a close-knit group of friends like that, even putting aside the fact that she’s Willow’s lesbian girlfriend, which time-wise is still a very new thing for the rest of the group to absorb. This is emphasized even more when Buffy and Xander chat about what to get Tara for her birthday. Their comments perfectly reflect my thoughts on Tara as well at this point: Xander says, “Well, she’s nice!” Buffy replies, “Yeah!” They also both express concern for fitting in at a likely heavy “Wicca crowd,” but it really feels like they are both also talking about the possibility of there being a lot of lesbians there, in which case they both definitely wouldn’t fit in. This subtext feels present throughout the entire episode which, no doubt about it, is very clever.

The big problem here, which I’ve already briefly mentioned, is Tara’s family. From the moment Tara’s brother walks in he comes across as single-minded and condescending. It’s unfortunate he stays that way throughout the episode, and that the rest of Tara’s family follow suit in simplicity. This is not the complexity of character I expect out of a Whedon-penned episode. One of the things that separates BtVS from other television shows is that things aren’t so black and white. An evil man often has positive attributes and the heroes often have deeply negative attributes. No important character is just ‘blah’. Tara’s family, though, is ‘blah’ and has about zero complexity to them, which leaves me a bit disappointed. Besides Tara’s father, the family member that irritated me the most was Beth. This is apparent especially in her scene with Tara outside the university. All she is doing is dutifully obeying their father and appears to have no redeeming qualities, exemplified by not having any consideration for Tara’s feelings.

With all that said, I still enjoyed some of the small details in execution of the plot. The little moment when Tara is almost frightened to hug her own dad for exmample. She even says, “Yes sir” to him. There are some deeply-rooted problems here that the episode doesn’t even bother to explore, although I did appreciate the little hint that there’s more going on in relation to Tara’s childhood. With men like that in her family, it’s no wonder why she’d be more interested in girls for intimacy. I really enjoyed Amber Benson’s acting when Tara is confronted about what she ‘is’ and that she’s responsible for the group not being able to see their attackers. The way she says “I’m sorry” and scampers off is saddening, although she does deserve some of the anger directed at her. Willow makes a good point though. She says, “she just did a spell that went wrong.” Willow knows from experience that that happens from time-to-time, and so does the whole group. Although the Scoobies standing up for Tara is a bit on the soggy side, it is admittedly pretty sweet. The same goes for the final scene where Tara and Willow float-dance together. I can suspend my cynicism every now and then. Really. 🙂

Even though the main plot did not work nearly as well as it could have, I did really enjoy all the other bits and pieces. Spike, for exmaple, fantasizing about having an extremely sexual fight with Buffy while actually having sex with Harmony. Very, very funny, and also very much reminds me of Buffy and Spike’s violent encounter in “Smashed” [6×09] . We definitely get to see exactly what it is Spike wants at this point: a fighter who he can spar with, an equal — or better — fighter than he, that is also very sexual. Buffy’s, “oh, I’m coming!” is perfectly timed with an amusing cut. Harmony asks, “What are you thinking about.” Spike smoothly replies, “all about you, baby.”

I found Glory’s comment interesting, about how ‘common’ vampire slayers are and how she’s embarrassed that she even went so low as to fight with one. This gives the viewers a reason why she is not constantly going after Buffy herself. Yes Glory’s often stupid, but people in positions of great power have historically often been pretty stupid as well. She expects to be catered to and treated like royalty: “when I enter a room all eyes turn to me and worship me!” At this point, anyway, I must say that I really like this character. The combination of insanity, stupidity, power, obsession, and being worshiped by others is all very wacky and interesting.

The last thread to touch on is the ongoing saga of Riley. I do like how brief his scenes are: we quickly get the just of his building-up anguish over his relationship with Buffy. Riley lets Buffy know that he’s not pleased she’s not letting him into her life. It’s unfortunate that she really does have a good reason not to tell him the big Dawn revelation. Riley’s beginning to get fed up with waiting for her to fully trust him. He wants a real deep relationship with Buffy. He wants to be there with her, in both the bad and the good. Although he also has a problem with the fact that Buffy isn’t one to cry on another’s shoulder very often: she lets loose her deepest emotions alone. When you have an intimate relationship, though, you’re supposed to be able to share those deepest feelings. That’s one of the scariest things about love: it often leaves you very vulnerable. It’s obvious that Buffy either doesn’t want that connection with Riley or just isn’t ready at all for that kind of connection. So, I see both parties in this relationship making mistakes; they’re both at fault here, although Riley really needs to understand Buffy’s unique position as the Slayer. She often has special reasons and considerations not to be open about certain things.

Anyway, this is a solid episode which give Tara some lovin’ that also furthers several underlying character threads in an excellent way. The plot missed the boat in execution and is hurt because of it, but I still very much enjoyed the whole package.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Tara having been trying to “keep up” with Willow in the magic department, as well as being useful to the group. This is a concern she expressed in “Real Me” [5×02] .
+ Buffy moving out of her dorm room to help her mother with the illness. This is touching and respectable on Buffy’s part, although I’m sure the new knowledge about Dawn is also a pressing reason.
+ Riley and Xander having a boyish fight. These two have bonded a bit ever since Riley felt comfortable confiding in Xander in regards to his revelation about Buffy’s non-love for him.
+ Seeing Ben changing his clothes only to have Glory appear behind the stalking creature. This really doesn’t give any hints as to thinking Ben and Glory are sharing a body, but is still very plausible. Cool.
+ Buffy comparing Glory to Cordelia. “I’m pretty sure she dyes her hair!”
+ Buffy being way overprotective of Dawn now. Riley even points it out.
+ Sandy from “Doppelgangland” [3×16] returns! So cool that a byproduct of Vampire Willow is what helps push Riley’s flirtation with the vampire world forward. I like how Riley spots that she’s a vamp right away and makes a joke about it.
+ Glory’s closet full of high-end clothing.
+ Tara casting a spell she thinks will only make her alleged demon side not visible to the Scoobies. But, like most magic, it backfires and blinds the group from seeing all demons. This works for the plot and with continuity.
+ Harmony returning from her shopping spree. I really love Spike’s extreme shudder in response to Harmony’s stupidity.
+ Spike grudgingly helping Buffy and not getting any credit for it because she can’t see him.
+ Anya’s angry, “I’ve already been hurt once this month!” during the big fight.
+ Spike’s quick solution to the problem. “He hit my nose.”
+ Seeing Tara’s birthday gifts. Giles gave her the magic ball. Dawn gave her a broomstick. Haha.
+ Dawn says “only losers drink alcohol” and Riley and Giles both put their drinks down looking half-embarrassed while Buffy rolls her eyes.


Foreshadowing

* Spike says, “If the Slayer’s gonna die, I want to watch!” Buffy dies in “The Gift” [5×22] and Spike’s there watching. What a big difference in attitude between now and then though!


[Score]

75/100

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81 thoughts on “Buffy 5×06: Family”

  1. [Note: Dingdong posted this comment on August 5, 2006.]

    Pretty spot on. I don’t like Glory in the episode all that much, but that’s just because of Kraemer’s performance, which at this point is rather annoying. I’ve never liked Glory all that much, anyway, until the last 4 episodes.

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  2. [Note: Stunn posted this comment on August 5, 2006.]

    I enjoyed this episode a lot. I didn’t like Tara at first. I started watching Buffy at the end of Season Six on FX over a year ago. Shortly after I started watching, Tara was killed. I didn’t care. So, season six and seven flew on by, and I started watching Buffy from Season One. Time flew and Tara was introduced. I still didn’t like her. I was waiting and waiting for a reason for me to like her. I’m a Willow fan and I wasn’t really satisfied for the reason she turned gay. I’m making my mom watch Buffy and we’re on the end of Season Four and my dear ol’ mother doesn’t even like Tara. She’s also a big Seth Green fan, so there might be a little bias there.

    Family is the episode I started to like Tara. Everyone in the Scooby Gang made it clear they didn’t know anything about Tara. She was the awkward one in the group… if you even consider her as part of the group. I did laugh at her cocky joke at the beginning of the episode. I’m a sap for those kind of jokes. At the end, when the father wanted Tara to go with him, Buffy said something like “OK, you can have her… but you’re going to have to go through me first” and then the Scooby Gang backs her up. The whole gang stands up for Tara. It looks like they don’t care but they really do. I loved it so much. It’s one of my favorite moments in the Buffy series. I started to look at Tara with a different light.

    I’m not planning on putting a lame comment on every review that I like the rest of the kids here. So, I just want to say I’m really enjoying your reviews MikeJer. I usually agree with everything you’re saying about the episode. I wish you would have reviewed Angel too. Ryan is good writer, I don’t agree with his opinions on the episodes. It’s too bad. I enjoyed Angel more than Buffy.

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  3. [Note: Ryan-RB posted this comment on August 6, 2006.]

    What a way to be at odds. A compliment…and yet a titillating chance for a ‘spirited discussion.’ You should comment on the Angel reviews or hit up the forums; i’m always interested in varying points of view, especially since the Angel over Buffy fans are so few.

    Anyway, if you want my sham of an excuse for commenting on this review, it’s that i’m here to say that Mike has a pretty good eye. I never remembered that that was Sandy. I just finished re-watching S3 last week, so i’ll have to pop in this ep. to double check.

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  4. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 7, 2006.]

    Thanks for sharing that story Stunn. Because Whedon so rarely goes for those heart-warming moments, the moment he does actually works.

    While at this point it’s impossible for me to say whether or not I will review Angel (and yes, it is a distinct possibility), that decision will definately not be made until after I am finished with BtVS, which currently is my favorite of the two shows (although I certainly love AtS).

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  5. [Note: Stunn posted this comment on August 7, 2006.]

    It kind of seems that I was coming off as a jerk after re-reading my comment. I didn’t mean to sound ungrateful that Ryan is doing the reviews because I don’t agree with his opinions. I’m glad someone like Ryan is doing the Angel reviews. I don’t have to wait for MikeJer to do it and I don’t have to read reviews from someone who completely misses the point. There’s always someone out there who hates a little thing for no apparent reason and it’s hard to reason with those people. It’s nice to read reviews that don’t make me mad at the end of the day, even when I don’t agree with what’s said. Speaking of which, I have read every single review. It’s everything but bad. I’m glad you both are wasting your time to do this… if you consider it a waste of time.

    My favorite episodes are the ones with the moments I remember months after I watched the particular episode. Episodes like “Family” or Angel’s “Hero” may have single minded characters or illogical demons, but they both have moments that make the episode flaws bearable. I’m watching Roseanne right now just because I want to see more of Glenn Quinn and Family made me enjoy Tara even with her noticeably annoying flaws. I can understand why people don’t rate TV by it’s moments but I’m just weird like that mate.

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  6. [Note: fryrish posted this comment on August 8, 2006.]

    I like this one quite a bit more than you, Mike. Despite it’s flaws it always gets to me. Amber Benson gives one of her best performances in and there are some wonderful moments throughout.

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  7. [Note: Jake posted this comment on August 8, 2006.]

    I think I liked Tara starting with the way she acted when Oz reappeared. I know what low self-esteem can be like, and I would have done the very thing she did. Guess I identify with her.

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  8. [Note: Ryan-RB posted this comment on August 9, 2006.]

    Re: Stunn.

    No worries. I suppose i don’t emote sarcasm well enough in my writing; i took no offence whatsoever. And, no, i don’t consider it a waste of time since i see how many people here are getting something out of it.

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  9. [Note: Davo posted this comment on October 5, 2006.]

    I actually quite liked this episode, but then I do have a soft-spot for Tara as a character. The reason I think it works is because everything Tara does can be explained by her relationship to her family, who we see here for the first time. Your comments about her family being very one-dimensional are valid. However, to counter them I would say that if they had any redeeming qualities would Tara’s lack of self-confidence really make any sense?
    The lack of any sympathy from Beth towards Tara on first-viewing can seem kind of annoying. However, it is quite a dark way for the episode to end since the fate that awaits her will no doubt be a negative one: when she reaches 20 she will be treated exactly the same way as all the other women in her family. Beth represents the type of person Tara could be if she hadn’t run away. Another undertone could be the anger her Dad feels could have been taken out on Beth, which again would make sense of her anger that Tara left, although this slightly more speculative.
    Also remember, neither Xander’s nor Willow’s parents seem to have any redeeming qualities, it seems to be a running theme: and it also explains the importance of the Scooby-gang to each one of them over the course of the series, and what ultimately this episode is about.

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  10. [Note: Ali posted this comment on April 27, 2007.]

    I agree that her famliy apears to be one dimensional, but i think that her family serve one and only puprpose which is too give us some background on tara’s childhood and where she’s coming from, and i think that the purpose is fairly accomplished. Her family is really not the issue here tara is.

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  11. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on May 7, 2007.]

    I really liked this episode and think it deserved a higher score. I just don’t think Tara was very likeable until this episode. I think a lot of people, me included, really loved Willow with Oz so seeing her with Tara just seemed off. I finally started to like Tara this episode and I love how we finally found out why Tara purposely ruined the spell to find out where the demons were in a previous episode. That made me mad at the time and now I have a reason for it. By the way great reviews!

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  12. [Note: Elnino14 posted this comment on November 7, 2007.]

    I agree with most of what you said, Mike and although it’s a good episode, it’s really too slow.

    I just wanted to comments on some of the comments:

    Davo mentioned that Xander’s parents and Willow’s parents don’t have any redeeming qualities…that’s a pretty large assumption. I think it certainly is presented that way on screen…but I don’t think it’s necessarily true. Although they certainly have some negative qualities (Xander’s drunk father, Willow’s aloof, unconcerned mother) it’s a large leap to no redeeming qualities. Willow’s parents obviously cares enough to help her go to college, as Willow doesn’t work. It’s also really hard to tell either way since they’re barely ever mentioned or seen in the series.

    Many teenagers typically rebel against their parents and feel that they aren’t understood at all (Willow’s situation) and when they reach the early 20’s they typically want to pull away. It’s pretty natural and it’s pretty typical of the case of Willow and Xander. Xander’s problem was much more himself and his feelings of being useless than anything about his parents.

    Tara vs OZ: Although I was on a similar boat about not liking Willow’s relationship with Tara (and she’s still one of my least favorite characters) after Oz left. It makes perfect sense in the context of the series. Willow USED TO BE just like Tara but she slowly gained confidence in the series…partly because of Oz. It would only make sense that Willow who is all grown up and doesn’t really need someone who makes her feel confident anymore. Nobody knows WHY relationships really start or how love works and I’m still not exactly sure why Willow is attracted to Tara but it’s possible that Willow sees the same thing in Tara that Oz saw in Willow.

    Meh just some thoughts. I’m not a huge fan of this episode, and it had a lot of potential, but it just didn’t work for me as a whole. The small moments were great but the overall was rather blah.

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  13. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 11, 2007.]

    I actually really like this episode, but I’d be hard-pressed to pin down a reason as to why.

    I like Tara. I’ve always liked Tara cause I tend to sympathize with the shy outsiders. Also, I live in the south, and I know families that are eerily similar to Tara’s. Yeah, it seems like a stereotype. But I grew up with some of those stereotypes, so seeing that she came from a family like that made her even more interesting.

    Plus, I’m sucker for cuddly Willow/Tara scenes.

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  14. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 21, 2007.]

    I agree with Mikejer about Tara´s family. I don´t like it when they only see a black and white world. That bugs me a lot. But aside that, I just love when the Sccobies stick out for Tara and say she´s family. Very sweet and the final scene with Willow and Tara is also amazing.

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  15. [Note: HairPuller posted this comment on January 23, 2008.]

    I also find it foreshadowing that in the scene where Buffy says: “We’re family” and everybody – Giles, Dawn, Buffy, Willow, Tara, Xander, and Anya – are standing together, Spike is included there, in this family too (but just in the background).

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  16. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on November 12, 2008.]

    I’m a sucker for this ep. I feel so sorry for Tara, who is such a sweet girl. Loved how it came together in the end, with the “We’re Family” scene.

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  17. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 24, 2009.]

    I agree with Davo- the other families on this show are pretty one-dimensional except for Buffy’s. So it’s not such a big shock to me to find that Tara’s family is, in your words, one-dimensional.

    I happen to disagree with you over the shallowness of the one-dimensionality- I come from a community and family where men very much like to have the power over the women. So I think maybe Joss was trying to comment on this mind-set. By showing how one-dimensional Tara’s family is, he’s trying to make a point about men who are like that. After all, from what I’ve heard, there has been a lot of talk connecting feminism to BtVS, so maybe this is just another aspect of it.

    buffyholic, you may not like that they see everything so black and white, but that’s the reality of most of the world. I don’t know where you grew up or what your family is like, but there are a lot of men in this world who do view women like that. I know- it’s pretty scary and actually pretty sad that it’s 2009 and the world hasn’t progressed that far yet, but that’s the way it is.

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  18. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 10, 2009.]

    I never much cared for this episode. It felt too much like it was trying to force us to accept Tara, both as Willow’s girlfriend and as a part of the Scoobies (Much like The Killer In Me did with Kennedy in s7) For me it doesn’t work, but then I am not a Willow/Tara fan. I’m noy a Willow/Oz fan either, but that’s as far as I’ll go as I don’t feel like being ripped apart for my choice of who would be perfect for Willow. But one thing puzzled me. You mention what a bitch cousin Beth is, and she really is, but doesn’t the revelation about Tara and the ‘no demon there’ apply to her too? Isn’t she now free to escape the clutches (and cliches) of the men in that family?

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  19. [Note: Leelu posted this comment on July 10, 2009.]

    @Selene: Yes, it does pertain to Beth, as well, but she’s been brainwashed her whole life by her family’s beliefs. That isn’t going to change in an instant just because someone told her once that there is no demon in the women in her family. She’s more than likely going to be permanently messed up.

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  20. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on October 28, 2009.]

    “I happen to disagree with you over the shallowness of the one-dimensionality- I come from a community and family where men very much like to have the power over the women.”

    I’m with you there, Emily. I thought the family were pretty much the definition of an abusive family, with some excellent touches, such as Beth’s genuine horror at the idea of Tara’s father and brother having to ‘do for themselves’ without a woman to keep house for them. The fact that she clearly expected Tara to be equally shocked at the idea rang 100% true to me. This is how some people really do regard women – not full human beings, just chattels and domestic slaves.

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  21. [Note: Cirrus posted this comment on November 3, 2009.]

    You know, it always annoys me when people describe the whole “Spike having sex with Harmony, while fantasising about fighting with Buffy” as amusing. Sure, it was sort of humourous that he wasn’t actually just enjoying sex with Harmony, but I found it rather sad and disturbing. In a good way of course, if that’s possible. X) I love the development Spike gets through all these non-arc episodes, gradually but very powerfully.

    I just find it sad, not funny. Like a lot of Spike’s lines, actually — they’re very, very funny (and I do laugh at them, unlike here!) but they still have an underlying, unmentioned sadness to them. But I found that scene particularly so.

    I don’t really like Tara, finding her rather dull, so her dull family didn’t help me like this episode. XD But the non-Tara stuff was very good; just makes me admire Whedon as a writer so much.

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  22. [Note: Zaphe posted this comment on December 5, 2009.]

    Cirrus: I totally agree with you post. I also found the Spike/Harmony scene very sad as well. The look on his face and the way how he buried his face conveys so much. Thanks to JM’s acting you see how the character feels from one extreme to another (the sexual pleasure to the huge disappointment from the realisation that it isnt real)

    I too find the whole Spike Buffy story Arc very sad on the whole. Spike has been rediculed and undermined so much and so many times about his love and his effort in being Buffy-worthy that he totally doesnt believe in himself in whether Buffy truly ever loves him just a little (in Btvs S7) and whether he is indeed a champion (in Ats S5)

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  23. [Note: Randy posted this comment on December 17, 2009.]

    Emily: I agree with you that some people really are a lot like the flat characters portrayed by Tara’s family, but I still think it was a bit of a cop out from a writing point of view. The episode would’ve been a lot richer if there was some complexity to Tara’s family, rather than the straight good vs evil storyline. I think Joss made the exact same mistake in season 7 with Caleb’s character. When he first appeared, I found him really fascinating and utterly scary — it seemed like they were going to develop him into something interesting, but he never went beyond the one-dimensional, misogynistic supervillian. And what a waste of terrific actors like Amy Adams and Nathan Fillion!

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  24. [Note: Sven posted this comment on April 24, 2010.]

    One thing about Riley and Buffy’s relationship here that I found interesting. It’s true that Buffy has good reasons for not telling Riley about Dawn… but now imagine that Dawn had appeared in early S2, or maybe S3. I’m fairly sure that Buffy would’ve told Angel about Dawn, trusted him like she does Giles here.

    That’s a pretty strong indication that Buffy’s feelings about Riley just aren’t as deep as her feelings for Angel were, or as deep as Riley would like them to be.

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  25. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 25, 2010.]

    I’ve been waiting for Tara to get more developed, and this episode did the trick. Excellent. Don’t see how this gets a B-, truthfully. It was as good as “The Replacement”.

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  26. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    Sven — I agree that in S2 or S3, Buffy probably would have told Angel about Dawn. But, post “Innocence,” this would have been a huge mistake! I agree with Willow that Buffy has a blind spot for Angel, and so if something that she learns from the experience is that she should be selective about who she trusts with life and death information, that’s a good thing. Of course it’s awful for Riley, who doesn’t understand why Buffy needs to keep things from him, but it’s the right decision. Imagine if he went off, joining the hardly-trustworthy commandos, with that knowledge?

    The major theme of this episode, that family doesn’t need to mean blood kin, and that queer people and people coming from abusive families in particular often have to form their own families, is important and not often seen on TV. The problem with this episode is that they sort of hit us over the head with that theme by cramming it into a single isolated episode. If Tara’s relationships with her father, brother, and cousin had a little more time to develop on screen, and in contrast with her relationships with the Scoobies, I think it would have felt more authentic.

    In the final confrontation with Tara’s family and the Scoobies, it always seems that “Cousin Beth” flashes a look of envy and fear at Tara just before she comes down on her. I always thought that she was, on some level, conflicted about staying with the family herself, but in the end still did her duty.

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  27. [Note: Fitri posted this comment on July 7, 2010.]

    I think I can say with absolute certainty this is one of the better episodes of the best Buffy season. I didn’t find it boring at all but instead found it to be one of the episodes with most importance in season five. Along with “The Body” (due to Joyce’s death) and “No Place Like Home” (for Dawn’s backstory), I think “Family” is truly important as it acknowledged Tara’s significance, and backstory. I for one, would give it at least 85.

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  28. [Note: Envy posted this comment on July 21, 2010.]

    One thing I don’t understand here is why Cousin Beth went back with Mr. Maclay and Tara’s brother after it was revealed that the whole “Women = Demons” thing was a load. If I was her, I would’ve ran so far away from those guys.

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  29. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on October 14, 2010.]

    I have a bit of a soft spot for this episode. It always makes me feel more cheered up when I’m a bit down, and I think the final ten minutes are truly moving. There are problems with the ep, MikeJer covered it perfectly, especially Tara’s one-dimensional family members, but I would probably say an 85 – guess that’s the softie in me rather than the critic.

    I thought the demons in the ep were pretty cool too. They looked like psychopathic hell clowns. 😉

    Interesting to see that Tara does a spell to cover her demon appearance – using magic as a quick-fix to these kind of problems is definitely a character trait in Willow, I thought not so much in Tara (at least in the next season).

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  30. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on October 29, 2010.]

    On a re-watch I found in the Magic Box that Xander calls Buffy “sweety”. Hmmmm.

    * Xander and Riley mock-fighting was great. They are like brothers.

    * Tara and her insect reflection joke. “It’s still not funny.”

    * Giles calling Buffy and Xander both profoundly stupid for not knowing what Tara would like even though they are in a magic shop.

    Bad:

    * When Dawn mocks drinking alcohol even Buffy and Xander put there drinks down. They would also have to have a mark on their hands but don’t think they do.

    * Willow and Tara floating at the end. A bit too far.

    Trivia:(SPOILERS) Tara does a spell because she is frightened over what the gang might see of her. Willow does a similar one in ‘Same Time, Same Place’ and a disappearance occurs.

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  31. [Note: KatieJ posted this comment on December 20, 2010.]

    The weak link in this episode is not the flat representation of Tara’s family (they are single episode peeps; no big deal), it is using witchcraft to discuss lesbianism, and lack of familial acceptance. It seems to jam up the movement of characters and plot, and this episode takes the fizzle out later in S6 when magic represents addiction. I do appreciate Tara’s reaction to her father in the Magic Shop, even going so far as to ONLY introduce the patriarchal figure in her new friend group, Giles. Later, Tara’s father was in her room, and picked up an almost phallic-shaped quartz, saying, you wanted me to find these “toys.” It lacks the elegance of other series metaphors.

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  32. [Note: deadlego posted this comment on May 5, 2011.]

    @mike: you totally put the finger on what I love most about BtVS and AtS which is that things aren’t black and white. The exploration of the grey areas is for me, from a philosophical standpoint, the most interesting part of these shows. Of course there are many other things I love; the humour, the plot mysteries to puzzle out, the continuity and I could go on and on. But talking about what makes me stop, think and wonder about: the most fascinating thing is this grey area which sneaks itself into so many areas of life.

    Right from the beginning of BtVS we are introduced to this, even when the show is mostly lighthearted, back in season 1 we are introduced to Angel-a prime example of how things are not always clear cut. He is a demon yet has a soul, however even with a soul, we see as the series goes on, one can commit terrible acts. And also we see later with spike and drusilla, as pointed out by the judge, a souless being can be capable of love and in spike’s case can go on to save lives.

    Good and bad, and right and wrong are constructs of society, and as such many many things can fall into the grey area. What is good for one person can be bad for someone else. It is an arrogant and narrow-minded view to think that one has the ability to definitively say exactly what should fall into which category of wrong, right, good and bad.

    Therefore if you are writing a show like BtVS which, although having a fantasy theme, wants us to identify with the characters and find them realistic, it is very important to try to make them well-rounded. Characters, like Tara’s family, who have no depth or subtleties to them, when placed into a show which is normally so well-rounded in it’s depiction of secondary and even one- characters may as well be cardboard cutouts or props in that they stand out as much as using cardboard cutouts would. I know i’m over exaggerating somewhat but failing to give characters depth really exacerbates the problem when you are using a plot solely to service the characters without any other relevance. It highlights the fact that the writers have no real interest in these people, they are just there because something had to be to bring about certain revelations.

    A lot of shows never give much depth to their secondary and one off characters (or their main ones for that matter!) but in a show that prides itself on how relatable viewers find the characters, even in ones that are total fantasy e.g. certain vampires and werewolves etc. we can understand them and relate their emotions to reality and to our own, it is lazy to add one-dimentional characters. I find it crutial for us to be able to at least get some idea of people’s motivations, even if there is no grey area shown and a character is just ‘bad’, it makes a massive difference to at least understand why. For a show that, in ‘pangs’, made me feel sorry for a vampire that he wasn’t able to kill people and suck their blood, it should be able to do better.

    However, having said all that, I really liked this episode on the whole. The only other thing that I had a major problem with was the floating that wollow and tara do at the bronze: I can suspend my disbelief enough considering it’s true that our minds tend to gloss over what we don’t understand, but it’s just too far into the realm of cheesy for me.

    All things considered I’d give this (on Mike’s grading scale as always) a ‘B’.

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  33. [Note: missy 101 posted this comment on May 18, 2011.]

    i love two pieces of dialouge here

    first is a spike dialuoge

    spike:you’re a piece of work….I like you

    next is a willow and mr. mclay piece

    mr. mclay:it’s not your decision young lady

    willow:(snapping back)I know that

    and then willow is all calm again

    i also love how buffy says they are family with spike in the nack because he isn’t family until the season seven episode “Potnetial”

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  34. [Note: Jessi posted this comment on June 17, 2011.]

    I was surprised by this review at firs, because this was actually one of my favorite episodes. But after thinking about it, I dont think you can appreciate the episode (this way) without having the experience of not really fitting in with your family (your given family). I was bawling through parts of this episode because that’s the way I grew up, never really fitting in and feeling like a part of the family, they were always just people I related to. I felt so happy for, and jealous, of Tera at the end.

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  35. [Note: Erin posted this comment on July 2, 2011.]

    Though flawed, I thought this was a beautiful episode. The bit at the end when the Scoobies stand up for Tara was really moving.

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  36. [Note: Harrison posted this comment on September 4, 2011.]

    I think that one of the best parts of the episode is the very clear distinction between ‘blood kin’ and ‘family’ that Whedon makes. As someone who has never had a very strong relationship with his family and had to find that type of bond elsewhere, I appreciated that a lot.

    I think this episode marks an important difference between Willow and Tara’s use of magic. Tara does a spell for selfish reasons and it backfires, with nearly catastrophic consequences. This is a trait we see out of Willow quite a bit, that in the future Tara will warn against constantly, and I think the reason for that is in this episode. Tara, who I consider to be one of most grounded and level-headed members of the Scoobies, learns from her mistake in this episode and never makes it again. In contrast Willow continues to make this mistake (Something Blue, Forever, Bargaining, Tabula Rasa, Wrecked, etc.) leading up to her Dark Willow arc in season 6.

    Excellent episode, in spite of its flaws.

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  37. [Note: Merry posted this comment on September 6, 2011.]

    I notice that in the fight scene when Tara’s family comes in and see her on the ground after being hit her dad shows genuine concern, which almost counts as non-one-sidedness…maybe?

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  38. [Note: Sarah posted this comment on January 30, 2012.]

    Hey Mike. I’ve been enjoying your reviews for a while now. You’ve done an excellent job and I agree with you 99% of the time. I tend not to comment much since it’s been so many years since you’ve written these posts, but there are a few occasions when I can’t resist saying something. I don’t mean to dwell on disagreement, b/c like I said, I LOVE the work you’ve done, but I’ve been noticing a few comments you’ve made about homosexuality across different reviews that strike me as naive.

    Perhaps you’ve outgrown these views over these years…nonetheless I must point out that Tara being a lesbian and the men in Tara’s family being oppressive are not necessarily connected. A straight woman can have oppressive men in her family and a lesbian can have extremely caring men in her family. Assuming there’s a logical “reason” why Tara is gay kind of implies there’s an element of choice, whereas we tend not to make such assumptions about heterosexuality. I’m not here to debate whether being gay is a choice or about nature vs. nurture – people have their own opinions about that based on whatever reason and the bottom line is we don’t know – but I just wanted to point out subtle assumptions we tend to make about gay people that may not be true.

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  39. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 30, 2012.]

    I completely agree with everything you’ve just said, Sarah, and agree it’s important to make those distinctions. When I was originally writing some of these reviews (particularly through Season 5), I was still in college and knew people who were very confused about themselves and others on such issues. Due to my own lack of knowledge in this regard, I’ve written some stuff in some of these reviews that doesn’t represent my current view on the matter. I have modified some specific passages in certain reviews that had stuff that could easily be construed as offensive to some individuals. For the overall picture, though, I’ll be taking care of it in due time.

    This is one of many reasons I’m going back through my reviews one last time and ‘cleaning them up’ with improved writing quality, typo-checking, and a more consistent level of quality. Over the time period I reviewed the show — the first time I’d ever done such a thing — I started as a teenager and improved as I went along. In that process I learned more about the show, more about myself, and more about others. So I think you’ll find that when I’m done fixing up all these reviews (I’m going to be starting Season 2 in the next few months), a much more consistent and informed position about the show, its themes, and my personal experience as it relates to them will emerge.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Like

  40. [Note: Craig posted this comment on June 22, 2012.]

    I really like how, in the Magic Box, Giles herded Dawn to hide under the desk. At that point he’s aware of how crucial it is to protect her, and yet he does so in a subtle way that the other characters wouldn’t even really notice.

    Also, Anya’s reaction to Tara explaining the joke to her in Bronze? PRICELESS.

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  41. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on June 23, 2012.]

    Sarah, if it helps, it just occurred to me that the show had already made it very clear (and hilariously) that bad experiences with people of the other gender don’t do anything to change your hormones’ opinion:

    “Men are evil. Will you go out with me?”

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  42. [Note: Will posted this comment on July 17, 2012.]

    I’m not the biggest fan of Tara, but I still think this was a very good episode.

    Also, @Stunn, you say that Buffy et al. really cared for Tara by standing up to her parents, but that did feel a little contrived – moreso without the benefit of having seen the entire series. It seems that prior to this point in the season, the gang didn’t care much for Tara, so the magic shop scene came across as being a product of their sympathy for Tara and love for Willow, not any meaningful feelings for Tara herself.

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  43. [Note: NewSpock posted this comment on August 17, 2012.]

    Disagree with the low rating for this episode. Imho it should be more like 85-90%. It’s a really good episode, way better than some others in season 5, like for example the awful “Listening to fear”-episode.

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  44. [Note: Great Whazoo posted this comment on October 24, 2012.]

    Amazed seeing Amy Adams playing Beth. Although she’s been negatively portrayed as all gloom & doom as far as Tara’s future’s concerned, her acting level was spot on for the story! Would’ve loved to see a story line based further on her.I didn’t realize that Spike couldn’t be seen while the spell was on….good catch, as I hadn’t been clear why Buffy wasn’t more appreciative of his efforts.(I hadn’t equated “Demon” and “Vampire” as equal) Curious as to why he decided then and there to fight on her side, though, since he seemed to relish the idea of her destruction till now.

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  45. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on October 25, 2012.]

    I think that one ought to be obvious: he’s just realised he’s infatuated with her. James Marsters depicts it well. You can see the internal struggle. He -wants- to relish seeing her suffer and die. He thinks he -ought- to relish it, as a self-respecting demon. But he can’t. He cares. He can’t make himself just stand idly by. So helps her despite knowing worse. (“Knowing better” doesn’t seem appropriate in context.)And then of course he goes on to be insulted that Buffy isn’t grateful for his “heroics.” I find all this very entertaining.

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  46. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on October 25, 2012.]

    Foreshadowing: Willow waves off Tara’s spell that almost led to everyones death. In ‘Triangle’ she continues her ‘who cares’ attitude to magic.

    Willow: “Wait! Go? She just did a spell that went wrong it was just a mistake.-”

    *I’m adding the Bronze musical montage birthday scene to my previous pros.

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  47. [Note: Peter posted this comment on December 14, 2012.]

    I don;t know if it was just me but it felt abit too conveniate that at the start no one seemed that fussed to having Tara around apart from Willow/Dawn then at the end they all spring to help her against her father. Still a very good episode I like the bit when spike comes into the magic shop and see’s Buffy getting beaten and then has the expression of ” I like she is losing but I must help her” lol

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  48. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on December 14, 2012.]

    If it helps, she makes it incredibly clear how much she did not expect the spell to hide all demons from them, how much she hated herself for putting them in danger, and how quickly she ended it when she realized what was really happening.And the Scoobies are just finding out how scary her so-called “family” is.

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  49. [Note: Gon posted this comment on February 8, 2013.]

    Personally I’ll admit this episode is not very subtle and try hard to make clear statements. But let’s not forget the importance of presenting a gay relationship in what a lot of people used to see as merely a teen-show. Even if at this stage there are still a lot of metaphors, I think Willow & Tara felt really true as a couple at the end. This being said, there are moments a bit too explicit and didactic to my taste (the Buffy/Xander talk in the Magic Shop hits the top for me).

    What I don’t like so much about this episode is another aspect: I feel a lot in this episode just don’t relate to the main story at all (Buffy and Giles, Riley, Glory), giving the impression the main plot can be “filled” with other stuff because it’s not strong enough.

    I mean, you can make other characters grow even if they’re not directly concerned by the plot (like Spike: he says he doesn’t care but then punch Tara to prove she’s not a demon, thus showing he cares). But while in “The Replacement” Buffy-Riley scenes fit the story beautifully, here I just get the impression their scenes are completely unrelated to the plot.

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  50. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 3, 2013.]

    Not a bad episode, it has a slow pace though it feels a bit rushed.

    What I liked is to understand why Tara lacks self-confidence and how much she needs Willow to make her feel comfortable. At this point in the show, Willow has the right words and attitudes towards her lover and makes this relationship very enjoyable to witness.

    I also liked the subtext about Spike being invisible. The stalker he’s becoming (wanting to not be seen by his prey/love), the pathetic vampire he is (no one pays attention, he’s not worth a killing) and even the efforts he makes to impress Buffy are unseen.

    The discussions about Tara in the beginning were interesting and felt true. Tara is nice, but she doesn’t speak much, doesn’t consider herself a part of the group yet and no one has tried to get to know her better. So, when the group stands up at the end, I feel it’s more for Willow than for Tara: they defend Tara because she is Willow’s love, thus part of the extended family.

    About the consequences, we see here that Tara makes a huge mistake: she uses magic to make a problem go away, out of fear. Tara is shy, lacks confidence but she’s not dumb. She’s very grounded and learns from her mistakes: that’s one she won’t do again.

    Also, from the start of season five, we see Buffy mature, a lot ! She has still a long way to go, especially when it comes to romance, but she is becoming a responsible woman with long-term vision. It’s true for all the characters: Willow is more comfortable with who she is and is taking good care of her relationship, Xander has a job he likes and is also comfy with Anya, Anya has a job, Tara can now move on with her life and even Giles has found purposes in his life. The only one who isn’t is Riley: before Buffy, he was very confident and had a purpose. Now he has doubts about everything and has no purpose except for Buffy. What I mean is the contrast with the precedent season is clear. The fact that they’re comfortable with their lives and purposes gives the group a sense of ease. Their interactions are flowing and there’s no interference (yet).

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  51. [Note: buffylover101 posted this comment on March 12, 2013.]

    To the comments about beth (and yes i understand that the comments were made years ago) I always assumed that the idea the tara was a demon came from her mothers line. Her father said it happened to her mother when she was 20, meaning it comes from a maternal line. I naturally assumed that beth was her paternal cousin, meaning she was from her dads side. the idea that the women turned to demons was on the mothers side. I naturally thought that, and never questioned why beth wasnt a demon. And i also assumed beth was older than tara. No way she was under 20.

    Also Im surprised you gave this such a low score. Ive never been a die hard tara fan, and this episode always makes me cry when they all defend her. It never bothered me that her family was “one dimensional”. They are side characters for a one episode. I assumed Whedon wanted to paint the image of an ignorant, misogynistic, conservative family from the south. Which he successfully did. Im confused as to what more you wanted from the family mike?

    Also I love the subtle touch of writing where Tara only introduces Giles to her father. Very small but very telling.

    By the way i love reading your reviews 🙂

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  52. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 12, 2013.]

    I wanted more because what you just described is an extreme cliche, and heavy-handed to boot. I expect better than that from Whedon’s writing. Usually he’s pretty good at portraying villains as having sympathetic qualities.

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  53. [Note: buffylover posted this comment on March 12, 2013.]

    I guess I understand that, the conversation between tara and her father could have been better, and more in depth. To be honest I assumed a lot from the family, which isnt really good from the writing stance. I always assumed she was abused in some sort. its never stated, but the way tara is in season 4, and how she is around her family could prove a good debate. But I understand what your saying with the sympathetic qualities

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  54. [Note: Waverley posted this comment on May 18, 2013.]

    This episode makes me cry like a big girly man every time. That bit where Buffy says ‘Take her,’ and Tara looks devestated, before Buffy follows up with ‘You just gotta go through me first,’ and Tara cries with joy. It’s kind of hokey and I suppose you can see it coming a mile off. Still, tears. Great big girly man tears.

    That is all.

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  55. [Note: Silver posted this comment on May 30, 2013.]

    I’ve been watching Buffy since I was 10 or something and always liked this episode, from the moment it aired. I always felt for Tara and she represents what is the strengh of the Scoobies: even if they are not as close as they used to be, they fully accept each other because they share much more than friendship. So even if they don’t really know her, they will stand up for Tara. This is also why they will do every thing they can to help Dawn: she’s Buffy’s sister (even if not really), so there’s no need to think: let’s stop the demon.

    On a different note, I feel so bad for Riley. I always liked him, I thought he brought a lot to Buffy and to the series in terms of relationship. I agree that Buffy has a good reason for not telling the Scoobies about Dawn: they would act weird around the kid. But I’m kind of mad that Buffy didn’t tell Riley in this episode. I truly thinks that Buffy won’t tell Riley because somehow, she doesn’t trust him. I think Riley could’ve handled the truth: he gave us every reason to think he could.
    I’ve been rewatching all the episodes recently, and seeing Riley and Buffy together, I felt that Riley struggled to evolve and take a leap of faith with Buffy but she somehow always cuts him down. She never gave him a chance. Frankly, she would have told Angel about Dawn. There’s the difference: she trusted Angel.

    Thank you for all the hard work you’ve put in this, MikeJer. I love your reviews and they always give me a great deal to think about! Thank you!

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  56. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on November 14, 2013.]

    I actually kind of liked the university scene with beth. I don’t like tara’s family, but idk, the scene fits for me

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  57. [Note: Spuffy4eva posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    I thought that the point was that they came off one-sided to make them look shallow, cruel and sadistic. But that’s just my opinion.

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  58. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on May 22, 2014.]

    Spike has already realized that he is in love with Buffy – he is both dreaming about her and fantasizing about her. He’s not willing to admit this aloud yet, but when he learns from Harmony that there are demons who are planning to take out the Slayer, I’m convinced the reason that he goes to the Magic Box is to prevent Buffy’s death. He hesitates only a moment before jumping into the fray, and is helpful in his odd way with respect to Tara, too.

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  59. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on July 10, 2014.]

    I really like this episode, even if it’ll never be one of my favourites. I was a little shocked when I was reading through the comments that there are so many people who dislike Tara. I mean I agree she didn’t get the depth and background that most of the characters on this show got but that’s hardly the character’s fault, more like the writers. I guess I have a soft spot for her because I have a thing for shy, awkward characters. I’ve dealt with social anxiety all of my life, and it really hits me right in the feels when I see a character who is similar to me in that aspect, be considered strange or disliked for it. I especially winced when Tara’s brother said, “These are your friends? That’s more people than you met in High School!” I know how it feels like to have trouble speaking, getting along and fitting in with people, so I always liked Tara and want to protect her. I was pretty upset when her inevitable death came along, too.

    Tara’s family are the kind that are best kept several thousand miles away; it was clear that they wanted her back for selfish reasons and certainly not for Tara’s own good. That last scene, with all of the gang standing up for Tara and taking her into their hearts, was endearingly corny and wonderful and made me say “Awwww!” out loud. I especially enjoyed Anya asking Tara’s family for clarification about demons. Even though they ending was a little too sweet for my tastes, I appreciate it because when do we get a lot of hearty stuff from Whedon? Not often. So I say when we are handed a sweet moment, we should simply swallow it and prepare for the fore-coming heartache.

    James Marsters still manages to steal just about every scene he is in. It was a hoot to see Spike fantasizing about fighting Buffy while he was actually on top of Harmony, and even better having him secretly rushing to Buffy’s rescue. The way he rolls his eyes and jumps into the fight is awesome, and I really feel for the guy. Under all the funny is a lot of sad. He doesn’t even get any appreciation for his aid, and this goes on all the way till Season 6. Even in Season 6, Scoobies who are not going by the name Buffy, Anya or Tara pretty much gave him a hard time even after he fought with them all summer. Anyway, I love this plot point, love it, love it, love it. It was even endearing when he punched out Tara in order to end the debate.

    Also, I read a comment where someone mentions that the demons look kinda cool, like psychotic hell clowns and I couldn’t agree more. Haha!

    Poor Riley. He noticed that Buffy wasn’t confiding in him, and he continues to be bummed. He did get a good line in Willy’s bar, though: “Oh, Sandy, Sandy, it’s no good. My heart belongs to another. Besides, I don’t go out with vampires; they’re never interested in my intellect.” Still, if Riley was Angel, she would have confided in him. I don’t get that after everything they’ve been through, Buffy STILL doesn’t trust him enough. I mean, he’s clearly smitten and at this point would do anything for her love and appreciation. He’s also mature and I’m pretty sure that unlike the rest of the Scoobies, he wouldn’t have acted weird around Dawn if he’d known the truth. It was also help mend their relationship issues, since he would feel honoured and happy that Buffy felt like she could confide in him about such a pressing matter. Oh, well.

    Anyway, while not without its flaws, I think this was a decent episode over-all. I think it deserves a solid B.

    Like

  60. [Note: Comfortador posted this comment on July 17, 2014.]

    The reason the family is so one dimensional is because this episode is political propaganda. Whedon wasn’t trying to create full characters, he was trying to give form to a simple, cliche caricature of a “patriarchal” family.

    This entire episode reeks of juvenile, uninspired creation because it’s trying to shove an agenda down the viewer’s throat.

    1.) Tara’s “demon” side and the family trying to rein her in is obviously a metaphor for her lesbianism. Stick in an embarrassingly simple cliche of a “conservative” family, and you have a situation that doesn’t encourage you to think, but rather tells you what to think.

    2.) From the tight-haired blonde to the constantly-scowling patriarch to the trailer trash brother, the characters were cardboard cutouts. I’m surprised they didn’t fall to their knees in some religious fanaticism just to complete the cliche.

    3.) The Scoobies standing up for her at the end was painfully hokey. 80s Disney movie levels of hokey. A much better ending would have been uncovering the source of the father’s sad desire to keep his family so deathly close to him, and perhaps dealing with that. But, for that to work, Whedon wouldn’t have to acknowledge the humanity of his political opposites, and that doesn’t fly in propaganda pieces. Demonize, demonize, demonize.

    Why does this all bug me so much? Not for any reasons surrounding homosexuality(my father came out of the closet and I was the best man at his wedding to his new partner). I simply hate it when someone with an agenda mucks up a creative piece in service to that agenda. Propaganda can never have high levels of quality and creative satisfaction because it comes not from a place of creativity, or desire to entertain, or desire to inspire. It comes from a place of hate.

    The best creative works are those in which you forget, while reading or watching it, that there were people behind it who created it. The work is a life in itself. That is where this episode, like any political agenda piece, falls flat. This episode is not about Tara and her feelings. It’s about Whedon’s.

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  61. [Note: Nix posted this comment on August 12, 2014.]

    Gon@54, it’s true that this episode doesn’t relate to the main plot arc much (except inasmuch as it is one of several examples of Glory sending things after the Slayer — and the only occasion in which she does so *because* she is the Slayer rather than as a side-effect of her Key-hunting).

    But it very much relates to the season’s themes, since a principal theme, perhaps *the* principal theme of the season is family relationships.

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  62. [Note: Nix posted this comment on August 12, 2014.]

    Nebula Nox, I think at this point Spike is in denial. Yes, he’s fantasising, and yes, he’s woken up out of a dream of her, but he’s trying to convince himself that that’s just an aberration! Look at the expression on his face when he comes in to the Magic Box: it’s a sort of determined pleasure, “I will enjoy this”, followed by concern, frustration and a flash of self-loathing that he can’t stand back and watch Buffy get massacred the way a self-respecting vampire should.

    (Of course, he doesn’t actually do that much: she’d clearly have won anyway, and once they’re visible she wins in a couple of seconds. These are not major combat demons!)

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  63. [Note: Zach posted this comment on October 20, 2014.]

    This episode is a 90-95 for me, I simply don’t really get the merit behind her family being underdeveloped and one-dimensional…It bothers me mostly because some people are one-dimensional, or at least appear to be on the surface, I think it would be a silly endeavor to explore these characters who are only in one episode, and who have no real important aspect later on, whatever their issues are, I could care less, it would be fruitless to examine their reasoning just to not matter later on, whatever drove them to what they believe is redundant ; I don’t expect development from them, just as I didn’t expect development or insight into and I am actually glad that they didn’t develop or explore these characters, just like I am glad they didn’t explore the motives of “The Gentlemen” or any other one of antagonist. This episode was very succesful at cementing a bond between Tara and the scoobies, and I think this was needed, especially for me, to like Tara, as previously I had the same feelings Buffy and Xander had about her, I believe this episode is extremely important to develop Tara. The only gripe I have with this episode is actually the last scene, them float dancing was a little much for my tastes, not because it was overly sentimental, but because I can’t suspend by belief enough to think that bystanders wouldn’t notice…If that seriously happened I would be the first to say something a long the lines of:

    “Hey guys…anyone else notice that lesbian couple over there is floating a foot off the ground…weird right?” lol. Anyways, close to flawless episode with utmost importance to Tara’s character, and great moments throughout, and the “We’re Family” line from Buffy is completely in character, and is so her…So it made it all the more touching.

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  64. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on November 26, 2014.]

    Another pro: Amy Adams before she was a superstar.

    Question: The spell Tara did was to let them not see evil. The demons didn’t know this spell had been cast at all so why would they not attack Willow when she opened the door. They would have no idea they were invisible to the Scoobies until later.

    Why would Spike punch Tara in the face? It is a much more painful way to show she is not a demon than a punch or slap to the arm. She has a busted nose, but hey, she is not a demon so plus side.

    And Dawn makes fun of people who drink alcohol and Buffy and Xander put their drinks down and look sheepish. They are 19 years old and don’t have I.D so are they telling us they were drinking alcohol.

    I never got behind the Willow/Tara relationship. I was always an Oz/Willow fan. Although, Tara did grow on me as time went on.

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  65. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on July 2, 2015.]

    It’s kinda sad that Bobby Singer’s “Family don’t end with blood, boy” (plus one of Dean’s follow-ups to this down the line)sums up the idea of finding family in others better than this episode does for this season. And it was written by Whedon himself for crying out loud.

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  66. [Note: Cotten posted this comment on August 4, 2015.]

    Did anybody else think that Rileys comment in the bar about not dating vampires was a unconscious or maybe a conscious reaction to Buffy´s relationship with Angel? Its clear (at least to me) that he always had some resentment over the whole thing.

    PS: Im team Angel all the way so it could be my bias showing but saying that Ive never had the Riley hate that alot of fans tend to do.

    About the Tara stuff in this episode….after my most recent rewatch and reading all the reviews written about this episode Ive think that this episode could have been more hard hitting if the Tara character had been more visible in season 4 and 5 (the beginning of s5 that is).

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  67. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 4, 2015.]

    Apparently Buffy’s advice to avoid short people must have paid off given that Dawn ended up being than taller than her eventually. Not sure why she thought that it made no sense for her to be shorter than Dawn though.

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  68. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 7, 2015.]

    At the time, Riley hatred boiled up as a reaction to him being an Angel replacement (not a view I share, as both characters are awesome to me). Unfortunately lots of Buffy fans jumped on that unfortunate bandwagon as sheep rather than forming their own opinions about the show.

    As for Riley himself, we find out just how much Buffy & Angel the couple bother him. I don’t blame him for a little jealousy (would you like to think about your lover running off to see her ex under any circumstances? Me neither), but its clear he doesn’t like Angel and (like Xander) has a default setting that keeps him from thinking clearly when it comes to the guy. It doesn’t help that Angel was just kicking the crap out of an Initiative squad, but still. Riley also makes the mistake of assuming he is capable of taking on Angel and is woefully outmatched. I always thought their fight scene was one of the first instances of the writers reading forums and fan reactions and dropping a scene in that people ‘wanted’ to see, rather than going forward with what they’d actually written. I wish I had more respect for the writers on that, but I was an active fan at the time and there was a highly vocal ‘we hate Riley’ vibe on a lot of discussion boards.

    Also agree that generally Tara was a badly underused character. Because she wasn’t exposed to the scoobies enough, by this episode she is terrified at what they will think when her ‘demon’ side comes out. It’s nice when they all fall in and defend her though.

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  69. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 28, 2015.]

    I do wonder if Joss had originally had a different plan for the whole “Tara is a demon” subplot thing that started in Who Are You? cause it seems weird that he would bring that up only to give the fairly convoluted answer he gives here. Perhaps he realized that it was better if Tara was human for the sake of keeping them together or to avoid any bad implications about lesbianism.

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  70. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 23, 2015.]

    Another problem I have with the whole “Tara demon” thing is that it kind of made you concerned about her and Willow getting together since she could be evil and all which given the positive vibes we were supposed to get from having those two together seems kind of contradictory.

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  71. [Note: Pandorita posted this comment on March 24, 2016.]

    I don’t really believe that, as you said, “Tara’s “demon” side and the family trying to rein her in is obviously a metaphor for her lesbianism”, but I thank you for bringing up the subject, because I’m sure it is a metaphor for something else, that hasn’t been directly adressed (although it was hinted in the review).

    The reason I believe that is because witchcraft has always been the metaphor for lesbianism in this show, as it’s proven in many episodes: Willow and Tara very sexual spell scenes, Spike telling Willow that both Buffy and Xander said that her witchcraft was “just a phase” (and thus making her angry), Dawn not understanding her mother’s discomfort about her wanting to learn “spells” like Willow and Tara do together, Tara’s father walking in her room and showing disgust at her magic supplies lying around (“toys” he calls them, could he mean “sex toys”?), and “You don’t even try to hide it anymore. I hoped you’ve grown over this witchcraft thing”, etc…

    No, I think the “demon” is just a metaphor for women power and independence, which is what scares this patriarchal family the most. They come to Sunnydale to brig Tara back home and put her in her “right place” and “abide her duty” which is taking care of the house and her father and brother, something women have obediently done for like… well, always, if you look at History. The demon in her mother could mean she was an nonconformist, rebellious woman too, who didn’t want to be put in such a meek role and wanted to do more with her life. At least, that’s how I see it. To this family, women being in control of their own lives and making their own choices is seen as something “evil” and unnatural that has to be controlled.

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  72. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on March 24, 2016.]

    I think we’re on the same page, but just to confirm– when you say witchcraft has always been the metaphor for lesbianism, you’re not saying that witchcraft is always a stand-in for lesbianism, right?

    Because “Witch” the episode is a curious subversion of the witchdom-as-female-empowerment thing that the rest of the series does, but it doesn’t feel especially like an anomaly.

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  73. [Note: Pandorita posted this comment on March 26, 2016.]

    You’re right to correct me, I was wrong to say witchcraft has always been a methapor for lesbianism, because there simply wasn’t any lesbianism in the series before season 4 (well, maybe a little in “Doppelgangland”). But since season 4, and more precisely since Willow and Tara met, it has been used as such.

    It’s good to note that witchcraft (or at least, the excessive use of it) has also been used as a metaphor for drug abuse in season 6.

    But in season 4 and 5, it’s lesbianism. Whedon himself said it and explained it well: he used it to play around the rules because they wouldn’t let him put more explicit lesbian scenes in the show at the time, since it was still a pretty taboo theme for open TV in that moment.

    BTVS really was a pioneer in that sense, and set the ground that many shows would later follow.

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  74. [Note: Pandorita posted this comment on March 26, 2016.]

    Oh, I need to make clear that I didn’t mean *every* spell or witchcraft done in the show is a stand-in for lesbianism, (that would be ridiculous, due the large amount of characters who practise it in the show, some of them male, such as Giles!). It’s used as a metaphor for Willow and Tara in seasons 4 and 5, because they simply couldn’t put the lesbian scenes on the show or talk really openly about lesbian sexuality (they can talk openly about their love and feelings, but when it comes to *sex* they always use the witchcraft metaphor).

    In later season 5 (especially after their first on-screen kiss in “The Body”) it looses much of its significance as a metaphor for lesbianism and it slowly shifts into a metaphor for drug abuse.

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  75. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 28, 2016.]

    Whedon and the writers used a spell as a stand-in for an actual sex scene, since they wouldn’t let him get away with it. What I think is at the very least dubious is the idea that it was always used this way. There aren’t any spells pre-‘Who Are You’ that qualify as this kind of heavy-handed metaphor. Magic was always (until S6) used as-is in the Buffyverse with the exceptions of one (1) scene, where he used it as a big ‘haha’ to ththe network executives and censors. There aren’t any more examples in S4 or S5 – Magic goes back to being the plot tool it always was on this show. S6 is where the wheels finally come off under a poor showrunner and magic becomes a half-baked drug metaphor.

    So you’re also incorrect that magic becomes a lesbian metaphor in later S4 and S5. There just isn’t any evidence for that assertion beyond the viewer’s own assumptions and inferences. It’s worth noting that in the musical episode, they pretty much show Willow ‘going down’ on Tara (they show everything up to it and make it VERY obvious what’s happening). When Whedon wanted to, he was capable of putting pretty much everything he wanted into a scene. It doesn’t have to be 18-rated to be a love scene. Whedon used actual sex scenes in plenty of episodes, so it doesn’t really follow that he continued using metaphors when in S6, he uses a pretty blatant lesbian sex scene.

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