Buffy 5×19: Tough Love

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rebecca Rand Kirshner | Director: David Grossman | Aired: 05/01/2001]

A slow pace and an occasional bit of odd directing are the only things holding “Tough Love” back a bit. Otherwise, it’s an episode filled with both small and huge character moments (which is likely part of why the pace is slow). Its title has some meaning that shows the tough situations of love and sacrifice for both Willow and Buffy. Tara gets badly hurt causing Willow to finally show us her full capacity for damage as a witch and Dawn is pouting over her situation as the Key, not understanding the full seriousness of the events around her. This episode was badly needed as it further the plot significantly as well as focusing on important character issues.

We begin by seeing Buffy dropping out of university to take care of Dawn and deal with Glory. This is a very somber scene as it represents Buffy losing yet another tie to normal life–the things, as Spike claimed in “Fool for Love” [5×07] , that tie her this this world. We’re building up to a massive emotional breakdown, which does happen in “Spiral” [5×20] . With that said, though, I feel that college never suited Buffy very well. Really, what’s she going to gain from it right now? At least she was able to put in a full year and some change before dropping out. I definitely applaud Buffy for trying to juggle that job with school–personally, I don’t think I could do it. She tells her instructor, and later Willow, that she hopes to enroll again next semester, “When I’m more myself again.” We see her try in “Life Serial” [6×05] and fail to fit back in. Buffy is never the same again after her mom’s death. I’ll talk about this change a lot more extensively once we get into the grim sixth season.

There’s two major things to take note of in this episode. The Buffy/Dawn interaction and the Willow/Tara interaction. I’ll begin with Buffy and Dawn, who are coping but very visibly struggling to make it work without their mom. Dawn is skipping out on school and secretly stealing things which, after partially exposed by one of Dawn’s teachers, puts Buffy’s guardianship ability immediately on the spot and in question. In light of this information, Buffy has a private conversation with Giles. The result of this conversation is that Dawn isn’t the only one who needs to grow up–Buffy does too as she’s Dawn’s only real family now.

Giles tells her to be strict with Dawn and to get her to attend school because the consequences of not would be disasterous. We can see Buffy try with all her will to get Giles to be the parent, but he knows it must be direct family. It’s interesting to note that this is the issue that causes Giles to leave Sunnydale in S6, thereby forcing Buffy to become an adult and deal with Dawn herself. It sucks that she’s been very prematurely put on the spot in raising Dawn, but she’s gotta do it or she loses the very person she’s fighting Glory to protect. No one else but Giles seems to know that Buffy can lose custody of Dawn, so they aren’t nearly as understanding of Buffy’s situation.

Buffy takes the advice from Giles and tries her best to get Dawn to listen, but instead Dawn just has a fit about how nothing in her life matters because she’s not even a real person. Desparate, Buffy reveals to Dawn the nature of their situation which does scares her a bit. The pained reactions from Buffy while trying to fold some towels, a routine activity to help keep her mind off these thoughts, shows that she’s really scared about it too. They just have a really ###### situation and it hurts me watch them struggling so much. Unfortunately, that’s just how life can be at times.

The other traumatic situation going on in this episode involves Willow and Tara. This has been an extremely happy, stable couple for almost a year now but there’s still problems that surface here. It begins when Willow shows her frustration with everyone telling her that she “can’t really know” what it’s like to lose a mother and that her experiences and opinion don’t matter. These concerns expose a deeper concern that she’s behind everyone around her in life experiences. Tara rebuttles that Willow is doing plenty well and brings up witchcraft as an example of her doing too well, even going as far as saying she’s frightened by how quickly Willow’s power has grown. In addition to this, Tara mentions she’s worried Willow might go back to “boys town” because of how her personality is changing around her magic use. This is a valid concern as we can see how far Willow goes with magic next season, but here it sparks a fight.

With Tara alone and Willow probably regretting storming out on her, Glory takes advantage of mistaken identity and brain sucks poor Tara (remember how worried Tara sounded when she first found out Glory could do that? “She’s a brain sucker?”). When Willow finds out what happened she lies to Buffy about not going after Glory in a furious firestorm. Completely to character, Spike wonderfully points out, just as he did back in “Something Blue” [4×09] during another magic incident, that Willow is in no way “over it” and is going to do something about it. This is a fantastic little piece of character continuity. But the real story is Willow… all Willow, and wow can she put on a show! Three years of careful development for this moment: finally getting to see her unleash her full, chilling wrath. Words cannot expres how satisfying this is to finally see and proves to not only be the highlight of this episode, but a highlight of this highlight filled season.

“I… owe you pain!” As lightning superbly expells from a black-eyed Willow we see Glory actually in physical pain for the first time all season. Willow throws everything she’s got at Glory: lightning, shattered glass, knives, and snakes. Unfortunately it all only scratches Glory and, like all of Willow’s magical outbursts, it nearly gets her (or other times her friends) killed. Thankfully, this magical capper is only a launching point for Willow’s addiction to power and the magic associated with that power. She’s also making the transformation from Buffy’s sidekick to Buffy’s equal, in terms of usefulness in the field.

Glory finally gets really worked up because of Willow’s attack and chases right after them, catching them at the university on a cliffhanger ending that gets picked up at the beginning of “Spiral” [5×20] . Quite the ending! Although I must admit I was a bit annoyed that Tara only started drooling over Dawn right when Glory appears. However, the rest of that final scene is fantastic, with both Buffy and Willow coming to an understanding of their respective responsibilities. Willow says, “It’s okay. I can do this. I’m gonna take care of her. Even if she never… she’s my girl.” Buffy’s experience with Dawn allows her to accurately respond, “I understand.” Willow recognizes this experience and says, “I know you do.” Very sweet and another display of great writing.

Overall I think this is an excellent episode that is slightly dragged down by a slow pace, which is forgiveable due to the amount of attention the characters get. Normally this would have gotten an 85, but Willow’s awesome magical outburst on Glory boosted it up a notch. Glory finds out Dawn’s the Key, Tara gets brain-sucked, Willow becomes Darth Rosenberg for a brief moment, and the season finale is set in motion. In the end? Great stuff!

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Ben trying to make excuses for getting fired. The doctor’s response to his pleas is fun and, unknown to him, actually true.
+ Glory’s entire bubble bath is very amusing.
+ Anya’s speech about patiotism and capitalism. After knowing more of her past relationship with communism (“Selfless” [7×05] ) this is even more funny.
+ Xander continuously cheering Buffy up during these hard times. Xander is very lovable this season.
+ Giles bringing out a little of ol’ Ripper to get Glory’s minion to talk.
+ It’s about time Glory found Dawn. Thankfully it at least doesn’t happen in the season finale.

– Dawn’s weeping in the caves is way overly melodramatic.


[Score]

90/100

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37 thoughts on “Buffy 5×19: Tough Love”

  1. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 19, 2007.]

    Although I must admit I was a bit annoyed that Tara only started drooling over Dawn right when Glory appears.

    This never actually bothered me – it seemed logical that a shock like that would be the spark to set that off.

    Tara rebuttles that Willow is doing plenty well and brings up witchcraft as an example of her doing too well, even going as far as saying she’s frightened by how quickly Willow’s power has grown. In addition to this, Tara mentions she’s worried Willow might go back to “boys town” because of how her personality is changing around her magic use. This is a valid concern as we can see how far Willow goes with magic next season, but here it sparks a fight.

    Actually, although it is extremely important in terms of character, I think the weakest part of Tough Love is the argument, because the way it’s scripted feels rather dodgy, like your average soap argument. It’s far more important, but it feels dodgily scripted.

    Also, I found Anya’s dialogue amusing on first viewing, but on second I found a few lines a little too extreme. Although it admittedly works in terms of character, it can be rather jarring, and in one of the scenes, just isn’t funny.

    In any case, it’s a very good episode, and the Cliffhanger is one of the best in the series, it’s just not up to the standard of the following episode…

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  2. [Note: Dana5140 posted this comment on January 20, 2007.]

    In fact, Tara never claims that she is worried that Willow will return to boy’s town- that’s Willow’s words to twist what Tara did say- and that is a serious error here in the reporting. What Tara is doing is nothing more than expressing her fear For Willow, not her fear OF Willow, and Willow willfully twists each and every comment Tara makes, whiich ultimately allows Willow to storm out and to Tara being brain sucked- it is a direct consequence of Willow’s action here.

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  3. [Note: Dana5140 posted this comment on January 20, 2007.]

    Here is the transcript:

    TARA: I had to deal with my brother’s problems after… I mean, you can’t really know what it’s like to–
    WILLOW: Yeah, I know that.
    Tara frowns and sits on the bed next to Willow.
    TARA: I didn’t mean to–
    WILLOW: No, I just… I know I can’t know what you went through. But I just… it’s no big.
    TARA: I made you mad.
    WILLOW: No. No.
    TARA: All I meant was–
    WILLOW: No, it’s okay. This whole Buffy thing, let’s just forget it.
    TARA: No, please. I mean, tell me if I said something wrong otherwise I know I’ll say it again. Probably often and in public.
    WILLOW: No, I was Snippy Gal. It’s just… I know I can’t… on some level… (sighs) It’s like my opinion isn’t worth anything because I haven’t been through… I didn’t lose my mom, so I don’t know.
    TARA: Well, I’m not the expert. I mean, I’ve only lost the one. Do I act like… the big Knowledge Woman?
    WILLOW: (sotto) No.
    TARA: Is that no spelled Y-E-S?
    WILLOW: S-O-R-T of. I mean, I just feel like the junior partner. You’ve been doing everything longer than me. You’ve been out longer… you’ve been practicing witchcraft way longer.
    TARA: Oh, but you’re way beyond me there! In just a few… I mean, it frightens me how powerful you’re getting.
    WILLOW: (frowns). That’s a weird word.
    TARA: (nervous). “Getting”?
    WILLOW: It frightens you? I frighten you?
    TARA: That is so not what I meant. I meant it impresses… impressive.
    WILLOW: Well, I took Psych 101. I took it from an evil government scientist who was skewered by her Frankenstein-like creation before the final– but I know what a Freudian slip is. (beat) Don’t you trust me?
    TARA: With my life.
    WILLOW: That’s not what I mean.
    TARA: Can’t we just go to the fair?
    WILLOW: I don’t feel real multicultural right now. What is it about me that you don’t trust?
    TARA: It’s not that. I worry, sometimes. You’re changing so much, so fast. I don’t know where you’re heading.
    WILLOW: Where I’m heading?
    TARA: I’m saying everything wrong.
    WILLOW: No, I think you’re being pretty clear. This isn’t about the witchcraft. It’s about the other changes in my life.
    TARA: I trust you. I just… I don’t know where I’m going to fit in… in your life when…
    WILLOW: When I change back? Yeah, this is a college thing, just a little experimentation before I get over the thrill and head back to boys’ town. (beat) You think that?
    TARA: Should I?
    WILLOW: (angry) I’m really sorry that I didn’t establish my lesbo street cred before I got into this relationship. You’re the only woman I’ve ever fallen in love with so how on earth could you ever take me seriously?
    Willow heads for the door.
    TARA: Willow, please!
    WILLOW: Have fun at the fair.
    She slams the door behind her.

    It’s pretty clear here that Willow is almost willfully misinterpreting nearly everything Tara is saying. Tara is trying to tell Willow that she is growing so strong so fast that it is worrying her. Her fear is not that she is frightened BY Willow, but that she is frightened FOR Willow. And Willow chooses to make it look like Tara is referring to her being gay, which is not the issue at all; it is how Willow is growing and taking too much for granted and how Tara fears that Willow will leave her behind because Tara is not growing as fast as Willow is in knowledge and witchcraft. What it really means is that Willow is looking for this fight- and the result of that fight is that Tara ends up mindsucked by Glory, making all Tara’s concerns very real and immediate.

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  4. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 20, 2007.]

    I see where you’re coming from Dana, but this quote is what makes me think otherwise. I think Tara is a bit concerned of where Willow’s headed, in many ways.

    TARA: I trust you… I just… I don’t know where I’m gonna fit in, in your life when…
    WILLOW: When I change back? Yeah. This is a college thing. A little experimentation before I get over the thrill and head back to Boys Town. You think that?
    TARA: Should I?

    You’re right that Willow is trying hard to get this information out of Tara, but I’m not quite convinced that Tara doesn’t actually have those concerns. The “Should I?” comment really reflects that.

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  5. [Note: Dingdongalistic posted this comment on January 20, 2007.]

    You’re right that Willow is trying hard to get this information out of Tara, but I’m not quite convinced that Tara doesn’t actually have those concerns. The “Should I?” comment really reflects that.

    Yes, especially in the way it was delivered. In that scene it was evident that Tara did have some concerns, however slight.

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  6. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 11, 2007.]

    Willow pissed me off royally in this episode. She really is one of those characters that can only learn from personal experiences. It took losing Tara’s mind to make her understand what Buffy was going through with Dawn. I hate how she was jealous that Buffy and Tara had something to bond over that she couldn’t understand. She was jealous that they both had dead mothers. She is sick. I hated that she got mad at Buffy for telling her not to go up against Glory yet because it would be suicide. “..for her to hurt someone you love as much as I love Tara” She acted like Buffy didn’t know what it was like to lose someone. She had to send Angel to Hell. Her mom just died of an aneurism/brain tumor. And Glory was after her little sister. I always thought that Glory finding out that Dawn was The Key was Willow’s fault. Glory wouldn’t have barged into the dorm, thus upsetting Tara who announced Dawn was The Key, if she didn’t want revenge against Willow for attacking her. Oh, and I hated how snarky Willow was at Tara. I never thought that she deserved someone as sweet as Tara.

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  7. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 27, 2007.]

    I think Tara is a little worried about Willow maybe leaving her, but honestly I think she´s referring more to the magics she´s doing. She´s afraid for Willow, not of Willow. It´s a big difference but as always, Willow turns the argument upside down and misundertands Tara on purpose because it suits her. She never admits anything, she never admits misusing the magics. And then, she likes playing the victim. We see two examples of that: in Forever, she doesn´t admit to Willow about helping Dawn with the book and in Smashed, when she confesses to Amy that Tara left her for no good reason. For me, this is totally Willow and it´s a sign of good writing and continuity.

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  8. [Note: jun posted this comment on March 10, 2008.]

    And a sign of the “changing so much” Tara was talking about — the more she accesses darker powers, the more unlikable she becomes.

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  9. [Note: Jaden posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    holy shit, latoya’s right! if willow hadnt attacked glory then glory would never have found out dawn was the key. and if willow hadnt had the fight with tara none of the following incidents would have happened anyway. ahhh poor willow, i hate it when i accidentally screw stuff up for my friends.

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  10. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 5, 2008.]

    Actually, Glory had just said that she intended to ‘rip through’ every friend Buffy had until she found the Key: and she was looking for innocents. When she found it was none of them, how many seconds do you think she’d have waited before trying Dawn?

    All Willow’s actions did was speed things up a bit by annoying Glory enough that she intruded on a private moment with one of her past brain-suckees. (In her shoes — painful thought — I’d have carried a brain-sucker around with me as a Key-detector… but realising that requires a tiny bit of thought, which was never Glory’s strong point.)

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  11. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on May 13, 2009.]

    I notice the strangest things sometimes. Just look at Buffy´s hair. Up until “The Body” her hair changes a lot: curly, frizzy, just lively and from “The Body” onwards her hair is just long and straight. For me, that symbolises the changes in her life. How she went from cheery Buffy to sad.

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  12. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 2, 2009.]

    Buffyholic, it’s kinda funny that you mention that, because about the third time around of watching Buffy, I started to really pay attention to her hair. I think in Season 3, they make it really blond to show the contrast between her and Faith. In S4, it’s very blond as well (and longer), which I think contrasts to S5’s hair, which gets darker as the season goes on (especially in “The Body”, where it looks almost brown)- this makes sense as the show, and Buffy herself, becomes closer to the darkness with every episode, which in the end culminates in her death.

    The last time I saw Season 6, I noticed that when Buffy came to break up with Spike in “As You Were,” her hair looked blonder than it had all season. As if to say, “I’m moving from the darkness- it’s taken about fourteen episodes, but I’m finally beginning to move away from death and darkness.” (Her clothes are also lighter in this scene- it’s kinda cool how they work this all in.)

    Am I going way too deep in discussing Buffy’s hair? Lol. There’s actually an article I found called “The Philosophy of Buffy’s Hair.” It doesn’t go sooo in depth, but it has a few valid points.

    http://www.tvsquad.com/2008/06/23/the-philosophy-of-buffys-hair/#commentform

    (I feel kinda deja vu-ish, so I may have posted this stuff in a different review.)

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  13. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 12, 2009.]

    Am I the only one who sees that Dawn might be entitled to a little resentment of Buffy? After all, Buffy makes it very clear that she had to drop out of college because of Dawn, them makes the comment:

    I can’t do it, Will. Don’t worry. It’s not like I don’t have a life. I do. I have Dawn’s life.

    Right in Dawn’s face. Way to make her feel loved and wanted there, Buffy!

    As for Tara and Willow’s fight, I agree that Tara was worried that Willow might ‘head back to Boy’s Town.’ I also think that in addition to being worried about Willow’s progress in magick, she was also a little resentful. On more than one occasion she says something about how Willow (a relative novice) has blown right past her (a pretty much lifelong practitioner) in magickal knowledge. This would naturally evoke some resentment.

    But the best part: Willow vs. Glory! Granted, Willow wouldn’t be able to defeat Glory (after all, the show isn’t called Willow the Vampire Slayer) but she’s the only one who has hurt Glory so far!

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  14. [Note: Sunburn posted this comment on November 1, 2009.]

    Selene: yes, absolutely re Buffy being hugely tactless around Dawn. In fact, I often think this about Buffy’s behaviour towards Dawn and, in fact, everyone. Buffy, much as I think she’s great, can be an utter bitch and very rarely gets called on that IMO.

    One example that springs to mind is the episode a while back where she suddenly decides she needs to take better care of Dawn and instantly bans her from going to see the ‘short’ friend, despite Riley trying to stick up for Dawn. know that was meant to be amusing, but seriously, WTF!? What little sister would put up with their big sister not just muscling in and acting like a parent (Joyce was still alive at this time), but doing so in this ludicrous, arbitrary fashion? And yet Dawn gets grief for being whiny. At least she has the excuse of being a teenager – I really can’t understand why Buffy gets away with it scot-free.

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  15. [Note: Buffyhead posted this comment on February 1, 2010.]

    I completely agree that Willow had some major issues in this episode, but am I the only one whose heart totally melted from the way she stuck by brain-sucked Tara the way she did? I mean, it takes some serious devotion and love to do that.

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  16. [Note: Victoria posted this comment on February 6, 2010.]

    I loved the (unintentional?) foreshadowing in both of these moments:

    When Willow goes all black-eyed on Glory, Glory experiences a minor Earthquake and immediately tells her minions “Uh, I don’t remember ordering an apocalypse.” The next time we see black-eyed and vein-y Willow, we almost get an apocalypse.

    And with Spike, as he’s warning Buffy of the extremes that Apocalypse!Willow will probably go to, spilling a few pints of God Blood and what not, Buffy seems dumbfounded, claiming that it would be suicide. Spike looks away, then down, and then mumbles that he’d do it, for the right girl, if he loved her enough. When Spike is finally, due to his awesome soul, capable of loving Buffy enough, he does exactly that.

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  17. [Note: ProphecyGirl posted this comment on February 15, 2010.]

    I’d just like to add that I thought Spike telling Buffy that he would have avenged her even if it would be suicide, if glory hurt her was really sweet, though dawn was there so they couldn’t really have a romatic moment. I just think its real nice of him, though we already know he’d die for her

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  18. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on May 26, 2010.]

    I would disagree that Tara getting brain-sucked is somehow Willow’s fault, even if she was the one at fault in the argument (which she clearly was). I don’t see how this one gets anything less than a P. I thought it was astonishing. The only small complaint: Buffy arriving just in the nick of time to save Willow.

    This was better than “The Body”. And “Fool for Love”. I realize I’m in the minority, though.

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  19. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on June 6, 2010.]

    After watching the entire series (and rewatching “The Body”), I’d like to admit I was wrong about this episode being better than “The Body” or “Fool for Love”.

    I still love it, though.

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  20. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 10, 2010.]

    I like how Anya’s patriotism = consumerism and anti-French stuff just sounds ridiculous, but, since this aired in Spring 2001, people will be hearing this stuff loud and clear from their president and congress post-911.

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  21. [Note: DeadLego posted this comment on August 4, 2010.]

    for me ‘tough love’ was my ‘the body’, in the sense of how it made me feel and how it was relevant to my own experiences. When i was 17 my mum became very mentally ill to the point that i had to have her admitted to a mental hospital against her will. As my parents were separated i was the one who had arrange everything, including taking care of my younger siblings to prevent them having to go into a care home. I think willow especially really captures the pain of this kind of situation, the helplessness of seeing someone you love ill in this way. And buffy shows how sometimes you do feel so overwhelmed that you take your frustrations out on those you are trying to protect and help, and can’t help feeling burdened, then feel guilty for feeling this way.

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  22. [Note: dr. horrible posted this comment on November 8, 2010.]

    Why doesn’t Willow use magic to cure Tara? Evil and vengeful is all good and well but why not use magic for something useful too? (Maybe she does in later episodes. I’ve only gotten this far.)

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  23. [Note: emily posted this comment on April 5, 2011.]

    One thing I’ve always liked in this episode is when, towards the end the doctor treating Tara asks Willow if she’s her sister, and Willow replies “She’s my everything.”

    Of course, this is meant to show how much Willow loves and cares for Tara, and she clearly feels bad about their earlier argument, but I also see it as a clever choice of phrasing on Willows part.

    You see, during the making of this show (and the time it’s set in), same-sex partners did not have the same visitation rights as straight people in the US, due to a specific relatives-only policy that made it near impossible for gays and lesbians to visit their loved ones in hospital. This was abolished by President Obama in April/May 2010.

    Tara didn’t have any relatives who would come visit (see ‘Family’), so Willow was pretty much all she had (I guess you could count the others). When this episode was aired (in 2001), it would be years before LGBTQ people would have equal visitation rights. Legally, the hospital could have denied Willows access to Tara had they known they were partners.

    I’ve always thought of Willows answer (“She’s my everything”) as very tactful. I know I’m probably reading WAY too much into this, and the writers probably WEREN’T thinking of this at all, it’s just what I always think of when I watch that scene.

    Um. I’m really sorry if that didn’t makes sense.

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  24. [Note: Dave posted this comment on June 11, 2012.]

    I truly think Buffy’s teacher should go in the pro’s section. You can just tell he knows she doesn’t want to leave. That it’s not something she wants. A big change from drop outs.

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  25. [Note: Janice posted this comment on June 29, 2012.]

    @Emily – I know I’m saying this over a year (too) late, but your post makes perfect sense to me. I don’t know whether the writers knew about visitation laws at the time (something I had anxieties over any time my partner or myself had to go in the hospital) but it works either way.

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  26. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 5, 2013.]

    I believe that in this one, Dawn has every right to be whiny when it comes to her identity and guilt.

    Now I’m glad that, for some episodes now, Dawn is written as a 14 years old girl. Before she was written like a 12 years old. All her reactions are perfectly normal for a teenager, when you believe that all the world should focus on you.

    The scene with the triangle was perfect: Willow does a good job in helping Dawn with fun-education and Buffy, not knowing the balance to be used for discipline and freedom, is all business. What was odd is Buffy not talking to Willow about the core of the problem, just casually dismissing her. And both of them are terribly wrong talking about Dawn with her right besides them. Buffy has been and is very rude with her sister. Before it was normal sister conflicts and now it’s just because Buffy doesn’t know how to deal with the situation. More over, a teenager won’t have the same respect for her sister’s opinions than those of her mother’s. They are both to be pitied equally and their father’s absence is absolutely obnoxious.

    I can understand why some of the comments are bitter about Willow/Tara conflict. But we should keep in mind that this is the first real conflict they have and Willow doesn’t do conflicts well, more over she doesn’t accept blame easily. The conflict stems from both girls being insecure: Tara lacks self-confidence and can’t explain her fears explicitly; Willow believes she lacks experience, is blind about the dangers of magic and wrongly turns the subject to attack Tara. Obviously she’s not jealous – like Latoya stated – to not have lost her mother, but she feels belittled and dismissed when she offers help. All of this are some of the big factors leading her towards her hunger for more power.

    Then, what she says to Buffy isn’t exactly tactful (she’s angry, grieving and unconsciously resentful because Tara would be fine if she weren’t in Buffy’s circle) but it is right: when Buffy is hurt or loses a loved one, she goes into action no matter the consequences for the rest of the world, each and every time. Which is exactly what Willow does and why Buffy understands her actions. She’d had done the same for Dawn. And if we had those powers, wouldn’t we ?

    I liked this episode very much, it takes risks, isn’t afraid of making the main characters look bad and asks many essential questions. Indeed a step towards the darkness of season 6.

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  27. [Note: meh posted this comment on August 6, 2013.]

    What I don’t understand is how Glory uses the loofa. She’s practically indestructible, and even when she is pounded by the hammer, the most you can on her is a nosebleed. Even Superman shaves with his heat vision, and Glory removes dry skin with a dry husk?

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  28. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on September 4, 2014.]

    I have decided that the teacher at the start of the episode is the only normal, good teacher that I have seen on this show. Finally an authority figure like that who gets some credit, huh?

    This was an emotional punch of an episode and totally sets us up for the pitfalls of Season 6. I really, really like Tara and had to keep myself from cringing as Glory crushed her hand. Poor Tara didn’t deserve that. Ouch!

    Anyway, I have to wonder why Glory’s hobbit (who was standing right outside the Summer’s house eavesdropping) didn’t hear Dawn mumble on about being the key. Which reminds me, I don’t think we can blame Dawn for behaving the way she does. She just lost her mother, her sister is trying but can be quite frigid sometimes (understandably, I’d be a pain in the ass too if I was in her shoes. She’s simply trying to get herself together and do whatever she can for her little sister.She even has an out because she really isn’t her sister. Yet she won’t go down that road.)but Dawn wouldn’t understand that, she’s a teenager after all. We tend to be quite selfish. And if I found out my life was just a cluster of false memories and that I was a glowing ball of energy that was basically gift-wrapped for a Hell God then hey, I’d be a little testy too. I’d probably be doing things ten times worse than Dawn. Either way, I loved the conversation that they had while Buffy tried to do trivial housework. Sometimes I forget that this show has a supernatural premises.

    Some comments above me mentioned that Willow is becoming unlikable. While I believe this rings a bit true as she isn’t a very likable person, but I think character-wise, this is gold. Buffy, Spike and Willow are the most amazing, fleshed out, complex characters this series has provided us with. And I’m glad. Willow looks like this adorable, timid girl who isn’t much, but she is quite actually the opposite. I love her journey, her descent into darkness, and then even the way she heals from it. This is what makes a character interesting. Squeaky clean characters are robots, they do what the writer makes them do. These characters, they have dents, weaknesses, anger, anxiety… that’s what makes them so authentic. I personally love Willow Rosenberg as a character, and around 6, I love to dislike her as a person — which doesn’t last long though, she’s too awesome. I did love Spike, although, when do I not love Spike? I love the way he talks to Dawn without being condescending or talking to her as if she is a child. Nor does he negate her feelings. Plus, the look Buffy gives him when he says he’ll do it for the right girl is heart breaking because we know he actually does die for Buffy at the very end. Also oved Giles in this – making Buffy do what she needed to do and going all Ripper on the minion. Anyway, despite the fact that it’s a bit sad, this is a wonderful episode with a lot of merit. I can’t believe I almost forgot about it until I saw a screenshot from it. Instantly, I remembered, “Oh! This is the one where Glory takes a bubble bath…”

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  29. [Note: TheTad posted this comment on September 4, 2014.]

    I think maybe the only other teacher who gets shown in a good light is maybe the science teacher in the beginning ofTeacher’s Pet. (An episode I enjoy!)

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  30. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on November 30, 2014.]

    I find the Willow and Tara conflict forced just to add more power to what happens to Tara. It comes out of nowhere and just seems put on for the sake of it.

    Also this episode shows what an ineffective villain Glory really is. The idea only comes to her now that she should just rip through the Scoobies until she finds The Key. This is the problem with an all to powerful villain… when they do nothing it really shows.

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  31. [Note: ILikeSpike posted this comment on April 28, 2015.]

    Apart from all the other great stuff in this episode, I really love the fact that the human triangle is made from the three protagonists in Triangle, 5×11; that’s fantastic attention to detail.

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