|Written by:||Steven S. DeKnight|
|Directed by:||Michael Gershman|
|Starring:||Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers|
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay (Finally!)
James Marsters as Spike
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
|Guest Starring:||Danny Strong as Jonathan Levinson|
Adam Busch as Warren Meers
Tom Lenk as Andrew Wells
Amy Hathaway as Christine
Nichole Hiltz as Diana
|Co-Starring:||James C. Leary as Clem|
Garrett Brawith as Frank
Tim Hager as Administrator
Stefan Marks as Guard #1
Christopher James as Guard #2
Kate Orsini as Girl at Bronze
Warren gained superpowers until Buffy smashed his balls.
The episode opened with Willow and Tara in bed, acting like they were determined to raise the romance score as high as possible. Willow ruined the mood a little by saying that she was thinking about Buffy. She was worried that she did not hear Buffy come home. Willow thought that something was going on between Spike and Buffy. Tara finally told her what she learned in "Dead Things." Willow thought that Buffy might need someone to talk to, and Tara admitted that they might have been too distracted to notice Buffy coming home.
Willow sort of got dressed and went to see Buffy. However, Buffy's bed did not appear to be slept in. Dawn came out and talked about what they learned the previous night. She pitied Buffy and Xander even though Spike and Anya were the rejected parties. Tara walked out and interrupted this conversation. Apparently Dawn had a sudden case of deafness the previous night and did not realize that Willow and Tara were back together. As a committed Willow/Tara shipper, Dawn was very excited. She promised to go down into the basement and turn up the television so that Willow and Tara can resume boosting the romance score for the episode.
Buffy smashed into the nerds' lair. She grabbed random papers and CD-ROMs, but she really wanted a confrontation. She tipped a markerboard reading "Too Late!", which set off buzz saws. She escaped with some of what she collected but was upset that her jacket was cut.
Willow and Tara met with Buffy and Dawn to discuss what they found. Buffy said that they did not have to help, but with Xander, Anya, and Spike out of the picture, there was not much choice.
Anya was meeting with a woman whose husband or boyfriend cheated on her with the woman's sister. Anya started to talk about what she went through with Spike and Xander. She did not even notice that the woman was trying to make a wish.
Meanwhile, Andrew was cowering before a nezzla demon until Warren hit it with a cattle prod. Later, they dressed Jonathan in its skin and sent him through a visual effect barrier. He came back with a box that Warren opened. It contained the Orbs of Nezzla'Khan, which gave strength and invulnerability to whoever had them. Warren gripped them and found himself covered in blue visual effects. He tested the orbs by fighting and easily killing a nezzla demon.
Dawn went to visit Spike, who had not learned his lesson on what alcohol could lead to. Dawn questioned Spike about what he did with Anya and why. Spike was not inclined to talk about it. He did admit that he was upset at how Buffy had been treating him.
Buffy went to visit Xander. She tried to explain that Anya still loved him, but he was more upset at the fact that Buffy was with Spike. Buffy used her difficulty at returning from the dead as an excuse. Xander did not care and stormed out.
Willow and Tara were busy figuring out what the nerds were up to. Considering how Willow and Tara were (not) dressed, they were probably busy mostly with other activities. In fact, they found each other very distracting.
Xander was at the Bronze, slowly figuring out that a woman was trying to pick him up. This started a fish metaphor rant about what he went through recently. The woman was suitably confused. Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew walked in. Jonathan believed that they had not time for such distractions, but Andrew did not care about what he had to say.
Buffy fought a vampire while on patrol. She dusted it, but, as it was turning into dust, it kicked her. She fell and hurt her back. She returned home and was hoping for a bath, but Spike forced his way into the bathroom and insisted that he wanted to talk. They exchanged a few words before Spike started to get physical. Eventually, Buffy kicked him off of her. He was shocked at what he tried to do.
At the Bronze, Jonathan was very upset that Warren was wasting time hitting on a woman. Coincidentally or not, she happened to be the girlfriend of someone who bullied Warren in high school. Warren pretended to be nostalgic until he let on that he planned to be with the girlfriend. This provoked a fight between Warren, the bully, and a few friends. They were no match for Warren and his magic orbs.
Xander stepped out of the restroom and saw Warren. He walked up to Warren, who was eager for a confrontation. He provoked Xander into hitting him and then punched Xander across the room. Jonathan mediated by saying that Warren was going to miss something important if he stuck around to attack Xander.
Xander went to tell Buffy what he saw but was upset to see Spike's jacket there. He was about to confront Buffy but found her bruised. He mostly figured out what happened. Willow interrupted to say that she interpreted everything that Buffy took from the nerds except for some writing that was not in any known ancient language. Xander recognized them as Klingon love poems. According to Willow, the nerds were planning a crime spree, with one crime planned for that night.
Spike was reliving his attack on Buffy and was upset. Clem interrupted him with hot wings for a Knight Rider marathon. Spike blamed his chip for making him love Buffy by keeping him from being a monster when he cannot be a man either.
An armored car was picking up a lot of money from an amusement park. However, the drivers found themselves unable to drive away because Warren was lifting up the back end. He tipped the truck over when Buffy arrived. They fought and seemed evenly matched. She managed to knock him down hard a couple of times, but he jumped back up.
Eventually, Jonathan leapt onto Buffy's back. Warren was impressed at his bravery, but Jonathan was really whispering "Smash his orbs" into Buffy's ear. She threw Jonathan off. When Warren knocked her down, she grabbed a pouch with the orbs in it and smashed the orbs. The blue visual effects once again covered Warren.
Now Buffy had the advantage. Unfortunately, Warren had a jetpack that was far too large to be hidden under his jacket and not nearly durable enough to have survived the blows that he took. Somehow, it still functioned and he flew away. Andrew too had a jetpack, which made Jonathan very upset. Fortunately, Andrew tried to take off beneath an overhang, so he just got a nasty headache for his trouble.
Andrew and Jonathan soon found themselves carted off to jail. Jonathan was scared, but Andrew was simply hurt that Warren abandoned him. Meanwhile, Spike was on his motorcycle vowing that things will change when he returns.
Willow and Tara were again engaged in romantic activities, albeit while fully dressed. Tara noticed Xander in the backyard. He came to make amends with Buffy. He admitted that he was hurt that she had not told him about Spike but that he had given her good reason not to. He realized that he needed Buffy and Willow's friendship.
This scene was interrupted when Warren came to confront Buffy. He yelled at her and then fired five shots. Buffy threw Xander down before taking a bullet herself. Xander crawled to her as she was bleeding from a chest wound. Even worse, the final bullet crashed through an upstairs window and went through Tara, apparently killing her. Willow sobbed and then her eyes turned red.
The opening credits finally did something that should have been done in "Buffy vs. Dracula."
This is a very powerful episode. James Marsters said that filming the attempted rape scene was the worst day of his life. Both he and Amber Benson have said that they cannot watch parts of this episode, and different parts at that. Amber Benson said that she and Sarah Michelle Gellar were in tears during the filming of this episode, and Nicholas Brendon said that he and his wife were in tears watching this episode.
I have read the arguments on both sides of the controversy and find most of them to be hogwash. Still, I cannot justify killing off Tara as anything other than shock value.
The nerds fought a nezzla demon or two.
Buffy staked a vampire in a cemetery.
Spike attacked Buffy in her bathroom.
Warren fought a few people in the Bronze, including Xander.
Warren fought Buffy at the amusement park.
Warren shot Buffy and Tara.
Dawn was very excited to see Willow and Tara back together again.
Anya had an amusing conversation with someone who should have been a client.
Andrew tried to use his jet pack without noticing what was above him.
Several characters were upset at finding out that Spike slept with Anya and Buffy. In particular, this caused tensions between Xander and Buffy, but Dawn was also upset at Spike.
Except for the very end, just about any scene with Willow and Tara was designed to boost this score.
There was some fallout over what Spike and Anya did in the previous episode.
Anya is attempting to go about her work as a vengeance demon, but she appears to be too caught up in her own pain to do her job.
Dawn was very excited to see Willow and Tara back together again. She is upset at Spike for hurting Buffy and will probably be very upset when she finds out what happened to Tara.
Spike momentarily seemed pleased to hear that Willow and Tara were back together again, but he was mostly caught up in his own pain. He attacked Buffy in frustration but was horrified at what he did. Eventually he decided to leave town, but not forever.
Xander was very upset at Buffy for sleeping with Spike, but he grew more forgiving by the end of the episode.
Willow now has different colored eyes. This is always a bad sign.
Spike has left town for reasons we have yet to know about.
Jonathan and Andrew are in jail.
Tara is dead, and Buffy is seriously wounded.
Jonathan gets a little credit for stopping Warren from pummeling on Xander more than he did and for telling Buffy to smash Warren's balls. However, he only gets a little credit, and he landed in jail. Buffy gets credit for breaking up the armed robbery, but she let Warren get away to do much more damage.
Willow was the one who figured out what the nerds were planning to do that night, so she gets the award. Xander gets some consideration for finding out that Warren seemed to have developed superpowers.
There are two strong candidates. Andrew did not realize that jet packs and overhangs do not mix. His blunder landed him in jail. Warren failed to use his balls to their full advantage and ended up with Buffy smashing them. Furthermore, the shooting at the end was probably not a good idea, but he has yet to face any consequences for it. As the one who actually faced consequences, Andrew gets the Goat.
Tara's murder alone makes this episode by far the most controversial episode of the entire show. However, Spike's attempted rape of Buffy alone would cause this episode to rank very high. If controversy could be quantified, "New Moon Rising," with the fallout over Willow coming out of the closet, and "Becoming, Pt. 2," with Xander not telling Buffy that Willow was planning to return Angel's soul, may be the only episodes half as controversial as this one.
As I go through the seven seasons of Buffy, there are episodes that I look forward too. Sometimes, I look forward to an episode simply because it is good. Other times, I look forward to an episode because it introduces a favorite character. "Hush" is one example, because it means that I get to see Tara again. On the other hand, there are episodes that I dread. There is no episode that I dread more than this one, because it means that I have to say good-bye to Tara again, in the most painful way possible.
The final scene begged for jokes about how Oliver Stone was going to make a movie questioning the path of the bullet that killed Tara. I will discuss this more in the Imponderables section of the next episode.
Tara may have been one of the most unusual characters in television history. In addition to being a lesbian, she was at a healthy weight, she stuttered, and she was shy and introverted. Individually, each of those characteristics is rare in a television character. I doubt that another character possessed all four.
Throughout the first three seasons of the show, Willow is my favorite character. Nobody comes close until "Hush" comes around and, along with Willow, we meet a shy and socially awkward woman in the Wicca group. Tara is one of my favorite characters in part because she is such a perfect match to my other favorite character for reasons that I describe in my Obituary for the Willow/Tara relationship in the "Tabula Rasa" review.
However, this is not the only reason. She is probably the character that I identify with the most. In part, this is because her personality is the most similar to mine. It is also because she feels a bit more real than the other characters. Admittedly, she has magical powers, but in every other way she was just a normal person in an extraordinary environment. She could play the regular person role that Xander used to play.
Most of what makes Tara so special can be summed up in two words—Amber Benson—who is probably the most underrated actor on the show. I say this in part because the best evidence comes from those who criticize her. A good way to determine a bad reviewer of the show is to see whether the reviewer criticizes Amber Benson for being too awkward and uncomfortable. Amber Benson was not awkward and uncomfortable; Tara was. Amber Benson played this so well that many people did not see the acting. They saw what they believed is genuine awkwardness and discomfort. As we heard many times, killing a lesbian has become a cliché. However, the killing of this one hurt far more than the other killings. This was almost completely due to the quality of the actress playing this one.
Tara leaves the show with five MVPs, four Sherlock Holmes Awards, and one Goat.
"I'm totally not here! You guys do whatever you want. I'll go watch TV, downstairs, really loud, in the basement, where I can't hear anything! Oh, my God! I love you guys!" Dawn
"It isn't always about looks, or a beating heart. Sometimes, intimate sweaty relations with the wrong person just seems like a good idea at the time." Anya
"They say 'I love you,' and you think it's true. They say, 'Oh, Anya, I want to be with you for the rest of my life,' and you believe them. You believe they feel the same way about you, because that's the way love's supposed to be, right?" Anya
"Who's Anya?" Woman
"And then you get all excited with the tingly anticipation, but wait, not so fast, there's the apocalypse, and the back from the grave, and the blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. And by the time you're standing there in that beautifully expensive white dress you've dreamed about every since you became human, he gets all heebie-jeebie and decides, 'You know, I'd rather just go steady.'" Anya
"Men suck. I wish Carl's flesh would..." Woman
"And, you know, he said it isn't me, but how can I believe him? I mean, he knew he didn't want to get married. Deep down, he knew, but he lied to me every day for months." Anya
"I wish..." Woman
"And he lied and lied and lied some more, 'cause, hey, who's gonna notice with all the other lies flying around like little monkeys. Then he thinks he can just sweep the carnage underneath the rug by saying, 'Oh...'" Anya
"We'll decipher codes, foil evil schemes..." Willow
"... finally get out of bed." Tara
"I was with you up until there." Willow
"You're all wet." Woman
"It's a good thing I'm part fish." Xander
"Someone might reel you in."
"Yeah, but then there'd be the flopping and the gasping and, sure, maybe it'd work out, but chances are I'd up and leave you at the helm in your white dress, then find you spawning with another fish, who turns out to be spawning my very good friend, night and day, behind my back, and then comes the fighting, and again with the flopping and the gasping, it's... Hey, Chicken of the Sea here's not doing too good with the women these days." Xander
"Trust is for old marrieds, Buffy. Great love is wild and passionate and dangerous. It burns and consumes..." Spike
"... until there's nothing left. Love like that doesn't last." Buffy
"Hi, this your bank? 'Cause if not, there's gonna be a fee for that." Buffy
"Jonathan and Andrew got clinked, but Warren pulled a Rocket Man." Buffy
"You'll find him. He won't be much good without his friends." Xander
"It hurt that you didn't trust me enough to tell me about Spike." Xander
"I'm sorry. I should have told you." Buffy
"Maybe you would have, if I hadn't given you so many reasons to think I'd be an ass about it." Xander
"I don't know what I'd do without you and Will." Xander
"Let's not find out." Buffy
"Your shirt..." Tara
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.