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TOUGH LOVE (ep #5.19)

Written by: Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by: David Grossman
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Clare Kramer as Glory
Charlie Weber as Ben
Troy T. Blendell as Jinx
Anne Betancourt as Principal Stevens
Leland Crooke as Doctor
Amber Benson as Tara
Co-Starring: Todd Duffey as Murk
Alan Heitz as Slook

Plot Summary

Glory brain-sucked Tara after Tara's first fight with Willow.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Buffy approaching a professor to get a signature to drop a class. She believed that, with her mother dead, she needed to spend more time taking care of her sister. Meanwhile, Ben arrived at work for the first time in two weeks. Needless to say, he no longer had a job.

Glory was not happy that her minions brought her a vampire in "Intervention" when she asked for the key. Instead, she wanted the minions to tell her everything they learned about Buffy and her friends so Glory could figure out who the key was.

Buffy and Dawn met with Dawn's principal. Apparently, when Buffy asked how school was, Dawn neglected to mention that she was somewhere else. Buffy and Dawn later went to the Magic Box at the tail end of an Anya rant on American values.

Buffy wanted Giles to be an authority figure to Dawn. Giles wondered if Dawn would listen to him any more than Buffy did. When Buffy claimed that she listened to Giles, he told her that, as Dawn's only family, she needed to be the authority figure.

Buffy went back into the front area only to see Dawn standing in the middle of an equilateral triangle made out of Willow, Xander, and Anya. Buffy took this opportunity to tell Dawn to go home to do her homework. Willow tried to defend Dawn, but Buffy was firm.

Willow discussed Buffy with Tara. Tara was quite understanding of what Buffy was going through. Tara noticed that Willow made a face when Tara started to talk about her experience with her brother after her mother died. Willow had felt that Tara was acting superior because she went through something that Willow had not.

Unfortunately, this discussion went beyond the specific issue. Willow felt that she was the lesser partner because Tara had been openly gay longer and had practiced magic longer. Tara commented that Willow was more powerful with magic, which was frightening her. Willow decided that the latter comment meant something and did not let Tara back away from it. Tara said that she does not know if she will fit in Willow's life. Willow decided that this meant that Tara believed that Willow planned to go back to men. Tara asked if she should feel that way. Willow stormed off.

Glory decided that she knew who the key was. In fact, she was quite impressed with the work that the monks did to disguise the key. She sent her minions out to spy on Buffy.

Fortunately, the minions could not hear what Buffy and Dawn were talking about. Dawn was very upset that Buffy was making her be responsible and said that keys do not need education. Buffy told her that the principal told her that Dawn will be taken away if Buffy were not found fit to be Dawn's guardian.

Tara sat on a park bench at the UC Sunnydale World Culture Fair feeling very sad. She was happy when someone sat next to her and held her hand until she saw that it was Glory.

Meanwhile, Willow was also very sad. Giles questioned her about that, so Willow said that she and Tara had a fight. Giles told her that this will pass and that they can fight without it being the end of the world just as Giles grabbed Murk, who was hanging around outside.

Giles decided that it was a good opportunity to get information from him. Giles sent Willow and Anya to get twine to tie Murk up. While their backs were turned, we heard a cracking sound. Murk immediately agreed to tell Giles anything.

He said that the minions were to watch Buffy's people while Glory went after the key. This set off a mini-panic until Murk said that there was no way that they could protect the witch. They realized that Glory was going after Tara, not Dawn. Apparently, being the newest to the group, Tara was the obvious suspect.

Glory squeezed Tara's hand so hard that some bones cracked and she dripped blood on the bench. Glory tasted the blood and realized that Tara was not the key. Glory concluded that Tara must have lied to her. Glory gave her an ultimatum. Either Tara tells Glory who the key was or Glory will brain suck Tara. Tara refused to tell. Willow finally found Tara and tried a spell to free Tara from Glory, but she was too late. Glory sucked Tara's brain.

The group once again gathered at the hospital. Tara would have to stay overnight for observation before they could take her home. Buffy left Dawn with a very bruised Spike. Dawn was worried that she must be evil because of the suffering that Spike and Tara went through over her.

Willow decided that she was going to get revenge on Glory. Buffy told her to wait until they were ready and actually believed that Willow agreed with her. Instead, Willow went to the Magic Box and gathered weapons, potions, and a book entitled Darkest Magick.

Glory was very buzzed after brain sucking Tara. She was ready to work through Buffy's friends one-by-one until she found the key. She was interrupted when the ground started shaking and a black-eyed Willow floated in.

Buffy found Dawn and Spike and briefed them on what happened. Buffy still believed that Willow would not try to exact revenge, but Spike knew better. He made it clear that he would get revenge if Glory did that to someone he loved.

Willow's assault on Glory was only momentarily successful. It involved encompassing Glory in a visual effect, shattering Glory's mirror, magically throwing knives at Glory, and having a CGI snake crawl up Glory's leg. Willow was greatly weakened after this assault, so Glory dragged her to a wall and was about to stab her. Fortunately, Buffy arrived in time to fight off Glory. Buffy and Willow left with Glory vowing that the fight was not over.

Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and Tara were in Tara's dorm room the next day. Dawn got a tuna fish sandwich for Tara, but they decided that spooning applesauce into Tara's mouth would be easier. Willow was prepared to do what was necessary to take care of Tara. Suddenly, Glory tore the outside of the room off. Glory was ready for a fight, but Tara turned to Dawn and recognized her as pure green energy.

The Good

I would not describe Willow and Tara's fight as "good," but it was very well done. It was appropriately awkward and painful for two very awkward and conflict-averse people. It did not contain the loud shouting, flailing of arms, and throwing of objects that are normally seen in such fights because such activities would be out of character for Willow and Tara. Instead, the fight was subtler, like the relationship itself. Alyson Hannigan, Amber Benson, and Rebecca Rand Kirshner deserve a lot of credit.

The Bad

I am not sure that the massive revenge bender was in character for Willow.

Overall Rank: 23

Action: 5

Willow owed Glory pain and delivered, at least for a short while.

Later Glory turned the tables on Willow, forcing Buffy to rescue her.

Glory tore the wall off Tara's dorm room.

Comedy: 2

Anya ranted about capitalism.

Anya offered to sleep with Willow.

Drama: 9

Willow and Tara had their first fight.

Buffy and Dawn had to face the fear that Dawn will be taken away from Buffy.

Dawn feared that she is to blame for Spike and Tara being hurt.

Tara has been brain sucked.

Romance: 7

Willow and Tara had their first fight.

Anya offered to sleep with Willow.

Willow vowed to take care of Tara no matter what.

Character Development: 6

Anya figured out that the United States is based on capitalism. She also had a Freudian slip that suggested that she might be bi-curious.

Willow had her first big fight with Tara. She still seems possessive of Tara and might not like the fact that Tara has a role other than being Willow's girlfriend.

Tara is insecure about her relationship with Willow. It is unclear whether this is because she fears that Willow will go back to men, as Willow claimed, or if she is afraid that Willow's growing power with magic will make her abilities unnecessary, as she claimed. Despite her earlier fear of having her brain sucked, she bravely accepted it rather than telling Glory about the key. She apparently had the sort of mind that was very nourishing to gods.

Importance: 7

Buffy is dropping out of UC Sunnydale.

Tara has been brain sucked.

Glory now knows that Dawn is the key.

Most Valuable Player: Glory

Tara and Glory fought hard for this award. Tara heroically braved having Glory brain suck her in order to keep Glory from finding out about Dawn. Glory kept pushing until she eventually found out Dawn's identity. Although it is hard to think of what else Tara could have done, Glory gets the MVP because she was the one who was successful in the end. Buffy also gets credit for rescuing Willow from Glory.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Giles

Glory thought that she had this award in the bag, but she made the same mistake as Jinx in "Intervention" and picked the wrong suspect as key. Instead, Giles gets the award for figuring out that Glory's minion was spying on them and for getting the minion to say that Glory thought that Tara was the key. Spike gets credit for realizing that Willow would try to get revenge on Glory. Ben's boss would get credit if he were not being sarcastic.

Goat of the Week: Dawn

Dawn and Buffy were asking for Goats for discussing the fact that Dawn was the key while Glory's minions were spying on them. It was a very good thing that they were out of earshot. Furthermore, knowing that crazies could tell that Dawn was the key, they allowed Dawn within sight of Tara. Dawn was the one who initially brought up the fact that she was the key and she was the one with first hand knowledge of crazies recognizing her, so she gets the Goat.

Random Commentary

Admitedly, it does tie into my training as a psychologist who specialized in the study of interpersonal relationships, but I found the Willow/Tara fight to be one of the most thought provoking events of the entire series. I expand on my thoughts in "An Analysis of the Willow/Tara Fight."

I have noticed that Tara is the first woman that Glory has brain sucked. The crazies have been all-male up to now.

Memorable Dialogue

"Can I just tell you it's not my fault?" Ben
"Sure, you can also tell me that the dog ate your homework or maybe eating Twinkies made you do it or maybe, yeah, that there's a really wicked, demonic creature living inside you that takes control of your body and forces you to do its bidding." Doctor

"What about all the times I asked you how school was, and you said 'fine'?" Buffy
"Well, it was. You didn't ask if I was in it when it was fine." Dawn

"I've recently come to realize there's more to me than just being human. I'm also an American." Anya
"Yes, I suppose you are, in a manner of speaking. You were born here, your mortal self." Giles
"Well, that's right, foreigner. So I've been reading a lot about the good ole US of A, embracing the extraordinarily precious ideology that's helped to shape and define it." Anya
"Democracy?" Willow
"Capitalism, a free market dependent on the profitable exchange of goods for currency, a system of symbiotic beauty apparently lost on these old people. Look at 'em, perusing the shelves, undressing the merchandise with their eyeballs. All ogle, no cash. It's not just annoying. It's un-American." Anya
"Appalling, almost as if they no longer think money can buy happiness." Giles
"Totally un-American. You know what else is un-American? French people." Anya

"Who among us can resist the allure of really funny math puns?" Willow

"Tell me if I said something wrong. Otherwise, I know I'll say it again, probably often and in public." Tara

"Is that 'no' spelled y-e-s?" Tara
"S-o-r-t of." Willow

"It frightens me how powerful you're getting." Tara
"That's a weird word." Willow
"'Getting?'" Tara

"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." Willow

"Everyone wants petrified hamsters, and they're never happy with them." Giles

"You think your hand hurts? Imagine what you'd feel with my fingers wiggling in your brain. Doesn't kill you. What it does is make you feel like you're in a noisy little dark room, naked and ashamed, and there are things in the dark that need to hurt you because you're bad. Little pinching things that go in your ears and crawl on the inside of your skull, and you know if the noise and the crawling would stop, that you could remember how to get out, but you never, ever will." Glory

"She's my everything." Willow

"Man, words cannot express how much I hate this place." Xander
"It's dreadful." Giles
"It's like communism." Anya

"You want to know what I'm scared of, Spike? Me. Right now, Glory thinks Tara's the key, but I'm the key, Spike. I am, and anything that happens to Tara is 'cause of me. Your bruises, your limp, that's all me too. I'm like a lightening rod for pain and hurt, and everyone around me suffers and dies. I must be something so horrible to cause so much pain and evil." Dawn

"I'm a vampire. I know something about evil. You're not evil." Spike
"Maybe I'm not evil, but I don't think I can be good." Dawn
"Well, I'm not good, and I'm OK." Spike

"I don't think I can sleep without her." Willow
"You can sleep with me. Well, now, that came out a lot more lesbian than it sounded in my head." Anya

"I owe you pain!" Willow

"You're saying that a powerful and mightily pissed-off witch was plannin' on goin' and spillin' herself a few pints of god blood until you, what explained?" Spike

"Look at that. Oh, the light. Oh, it's so pure. Such pure green energy. Oh, it's so beautiful." Tara

Characters in Peril

Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Police and Guns

Willow Gay References

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on December 1, 2012