March 25, 2023

Buffy 5.6, Family: A Place in the World

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:15 pm by Jenn


Summary: While Miss Kitty Fantastico plays with yarn, Willow asks Tara to tell her a story. Tara makes one up about a kitty who was all alone and was taken to the pound, which was full of different animals, including dolphins and half of a camel. Then the kitty was chosen by nice people and taken home and got a happy ending.

Willow’s ready for bed but Tara wants to read up on some spells. She’s been working hard on magic recently so she can feel more useful to the Scoobies. Willow promises her that she’s essential to the group. They wonder if Buffy found out anything during her return trip to the factory. Willow guesses that if she did, she would have called.

Buffy only called Giles, who has no idea how to respond to the news that Dawn is a key. Buffy doesn’t want to tell her, since she would freak out. They need to keep Dawn safe. Giles suggests sending her away, since Glory must know that Buffy knows what’s going on. They could send Dawn to Hank. Apparently Hank ran off to Spain with his secretary, and he didn’t even get in touch after Buffy let him know that Joyce was sick. JERK.

Buffy says that Dawn cried for a week when their father left. Now she knows that wasn’t real, but she still feels it. The monks sent Dawn to Buffy, and she feels responsible for her not-really sister. She wants to take care of Dawn. Buffy doesn’t think they should let the other Scoobies in on the secret, since they would act weird around Dawn. It’s safer if they don’t know. Giles says they need to find out more about Glory, in case she comes after Buffy. Buffy’s sure she will. Back at the factory, Glory emerges from the rubble of the collapse she caused and says, “Okay. Now I’m upset.”

The next day, the Scoobies help Buffy move out of her gigantic single dorm room. She notices that Giles isn’t exactly contributing. He says he saw himself in more of a “patriarchal role,” pointing and scowling. He demonstrates by snapping at Xander and Riley to stop wrestling with each other. Xander says that Riley called him a bad name, or possibly just something in Latin.

Buffy’s moving back to the Summerses’ house since she’s always there anyway. She notices that Dawn hs disappeared, but it’s just because she’s been removing things from the room like she was supposed to. Buffy’s sore from her fight with Glory, and the Scoobies promise that they’ll provide backup the next time she comes around. Tara says that if Buffy learns Glory’s source, they can introduce her to her insect reflection. Apparently that’s a good joke “if you studied Taglarin mythic rites and are a complete dork.” “Then how come Xander didn’t laugh?” Riley quips. Heh.

When Tara leaves the room, Willow reminds everyone else to be at the Bronze by 8:00 the next night. They completely forgot about Tara’s surprise birthday party. Buffy’s looking forward to a break from the current craziness. Speaking of crazy, Ben notices the admittance of another patient with the symptoms the security guard from the factory had. It seems to be a spreading epidemic. As Ben is changing in the hospital locker room after a shift, a gross-looking demon with a snake-like tongue creeps toward him. Glory holds it back and tells it she needs a favor.

Anya’s already improved her customer-relations skills, thanking a Magic Box customer for shopping there and saying they value her patronage: “Please come again for more purchases!” Giles thinks she’s a little too enthusiastic, but how can she not be? The customers give them money in exchange for items, Giles gives Anya money for working for him, and Anya feels like she has a place in the world. She’s part of the system, a working gal. But she only wants to be part of the system when it involves interesting tasks.

Buffy and Xander come in talking about Tara’s party, which neither of them is really that thrilled to attend. Giles has been looking into Glory, but Buffy didn’t give him much to go on. He asks for more info on what she’s like. “She was kind of like Cordelia, actually,” Buffy tells him. “I’m pretty sure she dyes her hair.” Giles sarcastically replies that that should help him narrow it down.

Xander joins Buffy to do research, and also to talk about presents for Tara. They don’t know her well enough to know what to get her. She’s nice and all, but they don’t really click with her. They anticipate a lot of Wiccans at the party and worry that they won’t fit in. Xander notes that Willow has something new in her life, but she’s still the old Willow, so they get her. All they know about Tara is that she likes Willow, and, as Xander notes, “she already has one of those.” Buffy complains that Tara’s birthday is one too many things for her to worry about. Xander suggests that she train or do something to work off the tension.

Buffy takes his advice that night when she fights Spike in his crypt. He tells her that if she wants him, she can come and get him. She replies that she’s coming right now. Cut to Spike having sex with Harmony while daydreaming about Buffy. Harmony is, as usual, completely clueless.

Giles checks in with Buffy and Xander, asking if they’ve made any progress. They think he’s talking about brainstorming presents for Tara rather than figuring out what Glory is. He reminds them that they’re in a magic shop, so if they can’t figure out what to get a witch while sitting in a room full of things witches like, they’re both idiots. Xander asks what they’re supposed to get Tara, a crystal ball? Giles says no, since he’s already wrapped one.

A customer notices the pile of books Buffy and Xander are looking through, and Giles tells him they’re part of a private collection. The guy asks if the books are full of spells that do things like turn people into frogs. Xander quips that, yes, they’re “building a race of frog people.” The guy asks if everyone there is a witch and jokes that they shouldn’t do a spell on him. Tara and Willow arrive just then (Willow didn’t hear the “insect reflection” joke earlier, and she’s laughing at it now) and Tara is surprised to see the customer. He’s her older brother, Donny.

Tara’s stutter, which had mostly disappeared, returns when she talks to her brother. He tells her they came down to surprise her and have been looking for her all over campus. “They” refers to their father and cousin Beth, who come in next. Willow looks a little disappointed when Tara introduces the Scoobies as her friends but doesn’t single her out as someone more significant. Tara’s relationship with her family isn’t warm at all, but she agrees to have dinner with them.

After the research session, Buffy goes home, where Riley’s been unpacking her stuff for her. Dawn’s about to head out to have dinner at a friend’s house, but Buffy won’t let her go. She says it’s not safe, which makes no sense to Dawn, since the friend lives just across the street. Buffy declares this family night. Plus, she doesn’t think Melinda’s a good influence: “I don’t like you hanging out with someone that…short.” Dawn’s not looking forward to having her controlling big sister living in the house again.

Riley agrees with Dawn that Buffy is being too strict. He senses that something’s going on, but Buffy won’t tell him anything. He offers to contact Graham about helping them figure out what Glory is, but Buffy firmly says no. She thinks it’ll be safer for them the fewer people they get involved. Riley’s annoyed that she seems to be pushing him away. She promises that she wants him to help, but she’s not exactly showing him that.

Tara’s father is waiting for her when she gets home (she and Willoa aren’t in an apartment as I first thought; they have a dorm room in the same dorm Buffy and Willow lived in last season). He thinks she left out all her witchy stuff so he would see it. He snipes that she doesn’t even try to hide it anymore. He’d hoped she’d gotten past “the whole witchcraft thing.”

Tara says that she didn’t know her family was coming. Mr. Maclay thinks she should have. They haven’t heard from her in months, and her birthday is almost here. She knows what that means. Tara starts to say that she doesn’t think it will mean anything. Mr. Maclay reminds her that she’s turning 20, the same age her mother was when she…something. He asks if Tara’s friends know. She says yes, but he can tell she’s lying.

He announces that she’s coming home with her family. “You can’t control what’s going to happen,” he tells her. “You have evil inside of you, and it will come out. And letting yourself work all this magic is only going to make it worse. Where do you think that power comes from?” Tara timidly says that it doesn’t feel evil. “Evil never does,” he replies. He gives her the night to say goodbye; they’re leaving in the morning. He says her family loves her no matter what. Her friends might not feel the same when they see her “true face.”

Glory has chained up the demon in her huge closet full of nice clothes. She’s very unhappy about Buffy’s interference with her plans. The demon IDs Buffy as a Slayer, which makes Glory feel worse. She can’t believe she was bested by someone that common. She tells the demon to gather its friends and kill Buffy.

Willow comes home and tells Tara that Giles has called a Scooby meeting about Glory. Willow wants to try the demon-locating spell they didn’t have luck with last time (because Tara purposely botched it). Tara says her family’s there, so she can’t drop everything to go be a Scooby. Not everything is about them. She backs off and says she’s just tired and has a lot going on. She’ll see Willow in the morning. After Willow leaves, Tara looks up a spell. She sneaks into the Magic Box and performs it without the Scoobies noticing.

Willy’s bar is still in business, though Willy himself isn’t working tonight. Apparently Riley has been coming in a lot. Sandy, who is somehow not dead, joins him at the bar and flirts with him. She invites him to go somewhere private with him, but he says he’s seeing someone. Also, he doesn’t date vampires.

Spike is admiring the head of his Buffy-substitute mannequin when Harmony comes home after a shopping spree. Well, I don’t know if it qualifies as a shopping spree when she stole everything. She ran into another vampire who told her that a demon is recruiting people to help kill Buffy. Spike says he’s happy to hear it. Harmony suggests getting the killers a gift basket if they pull it off. Ha! Spike heads out, saying he wants a front-row seat if they’re successful.

Tara runs into Beth back on campus and tells her she’s not going home with their family. Beth, who’s been very pleasant this whole time, calls her a selfish b^%#$ who doesn’t care about how worried her father has been since she left. Donny and Mr. Maclay have had to take care of themselves (the horror!) while Tara has been in Sunnydale, “living God knows what kind of lifestyle.” Beth is looking forward to the Scoobies finding out the truth about Tara. No matter how innocent she acts, they’ll see the real her. That is, unless Tara did a spell on them. Beth realizes she did and threatens to tell Mr. Maclay.

Tara says she only did a spell so the Scoobies wouldn’t see the demon part of her. She bets Beth not to tell her father. It was a harmless spell. Maybe it was in terms of Tara’s true nature, but it’s blinded the Scoobies to all demons. That means that when a couple of them show up at the Magic Box to kill Buffy, Willow doesn’t see them.

Beth tells Tara that she’s out of control – she’s been lying to her friends for a year, and now she’s done a spell on them. “Is that right? Is that a human thing to do?” she asks. She’s going to tell Mr. Maclay, and she expects that if he doesn’t force Tara to come home with them, he’ll spill everything to the Scoobies. Tara should tell them first, then say goodbye.

Three demons enter the Magic Box and walk around completely unnoticed. Buffy seems to sense them, but she doesn’t get confirmation that they’re there until one growls a little. She starts fighting them and yells for Giles. One of the demons stops Xander from running in to help her, which just confuses Willow, who sees him fighting nothing. They quickly realize they’re dealing with invisible enemies and do the best they can.

Spike arrives, eager to watch Buffy get killed, but it doesn’t take long for him to decide to lend the Scoobies a hand instead. Buffy’s able to get out of the training room and join her friends in the main shop. She tells them to be quiet so she can hear where the demons are. Tara arrives just then and warns her that one is behind her. She realizes that her spell has put the Scoobies in danger, so she quickly ends it.

Tara’s family shows up as Buffy is finishing off the last demon. Spike, who killed one in the training room, comes in and IDs them. Tara apologetically says that she was trying to hide so Willow wouldn’t see what she is. Mr. Maclay announces that the women in the family “have demon in them.” Tara’s mother did. It was the source of her magic. They came to get Tara before this sort of thing started happening.

Giles realizes that Tara did a spell to keep them from seeing demons. The Scoobies aren’t happy about that, but Willow doesn’t want them to write Tara off for doing a spell that went wrong. Mr. Maclay says that Tara isn’t Willow’s concern. She belongs with her family, since they know how to “control her problem.” Willow says that she trusted Tara more than anyone in her life. Was it all a lie? Tara promises it wasn’t.

Willow asks if Tara wants to leave. Mr. Maclay says it’s not her decision. Willow snaps that she knows, then asks Tara again. Tara doesn’t want to go, but Mr. Maclay says it’s what’s right. It should be clear that Tara belongs with her family. Buffy says it is, and if Mr. Maclay wants Tara, he can take her. Tara’s sad to hear that until Buffy adds, “You just gotta go through me.”

Dawn joins her and Mr. Maclay scoffs at the idea of “two little girls” standing in his way. Dawn tells him he doesn’t want to mess with them. Buffy confirms that Dawn fights dirty: “She’s a hair-puller.” Giles stands behind the sisters, saying they’re not the only people the Maclays will have to go through. Xander agrees – the Maclays are dealing with all of them. “‘Cept me,” Spike speaks up. “‘Cept Spike,” Xander confirms. “I don’t care what happens,” Spike says. Mr. Maclay tells the Scoobies that they have no right to get involved here. The Maclays are Tara’s blood kin. Who are the Scoobies? “We’re family,” Buffy says.

Donny threatens to beat his sister if she doesn’t get in the car. Xander threatens him right back. Beth says she hopes the Scoobies will be happy hanging out with a “disgusting demon.” Anya raises her hand to ask what kind of demon Tara is. After all, not all demons are evil; some are “useful members of society.” The Maclays don’t think it matters, since evil is evil. Anya asks them to narrow it down.

Spike decides to lend a hand to answer the question. Literally, he lends a hand by punching Tara in the nose. Willow’s upset on her behalf until she realizes that the action hurt Spike’s head. That means Tara’s human. Spike guesses that the family tells their women that they have demons in them in order to keep them under the men’s control. He’s kind of impressed. Tara’s relieved to realize that she’s not a demon.

Mr. Maclay reminds Tara that her family has cared for her and supported her for her entire life. She just tells him to leave. Beth is angry at her for disturbing the family dynamic, but Tara’s thrilled to be able to live her life the way she wants. It’s the perfect time for a celebration, which the Scoobies have at the Bronze in honor of Tara’s birthday. Even the ones who weren’t excited for the party a couple days ago have a good time.

As Buffy and Riley make up, Tara tries to explain the “insect reflection” joke to Anya. She still doesn’t think it’s funny. Willow comes to get Tara so they can slow dance together. She’s a little bummed that Tara didn’t tell her about her family, but Tara says she was afraid that Willow wouldn’t want to be with her. Instead, Willow’s proud to see how well Tara has come out of what she grew up with. It makes her love Tara more. Tara says that even when she’s at her worst, Willow makes her feel special. How does she do that? Willow smiles and says it’s magic. They embrace as they dance, eventually levitating off the floor.

Thoughts: Beth is played by Amy Adams.

I like the little throwaway moment where Buffy and Xander worry about not fitting in with Tara’s friends, having no idea that she has the same concerns about their group. Everyone feels awkward sometimes! We’re all dorks! Isn’t it great?

In another instance of what I think qualifies as irony, Glory calls Buffy short not long after Buffy says the same thing to Dawn about her friend.

So now we have an answer for why Tara blew the spell in “Goodbye, Iowa” – she thought it would identify her as a demon.

Beth’s criticism of Tara’s use of magic is even more significant if you’ve seen season 6. Tara gets concerned that Willow’s using it too much, and may be thinking of what Beth says here about it not being “a human thing to do.”

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