Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 5 E 6 Family

"The women in our family have demon in them. Her mother had it. That's where the magic comes from."
Mr. Maclay

"We're family."

Willow and Tara are on the bed in Willow's dorm room, with Tara reading spell books and Willow under the covers. Willow asks for a story and Tara tells her about a kitten. Willow tells Tara she is tired but Tara asks if she can keep the light on to study spells, telling Willow she just wants to catch up to her level. Willow convinces her to come to bed and the two snuggle.

Buffy tells Giles that Dawn is The Key that Glory is hell-bent on finding, and speaks of her struggle to come to terms with the fact that the majority of her memories of Dawn are false. They decide to protect Dawn without telling others about it. In order to be able to protect Dawn properly, Buffy moves out of the college dorm and returns to living at home, citing her mom's recent health issues as the reason to her friends. As everyone helps her with moving her stuff out, Willow reminds everyone about Tara's birthday party.

At the hospital, Ben enters the locker room. A moment later, Glory is there and captures a demon, who tells her that Buffy is the Slayer. Glory sends it and its friends to kill her.

The gang research Glory at the Magic Box, but come up with nothing as she looks human and they don't know much about her (including her name). Buffy and Xander admit that they do not really know much about Tara, though they both agree that she is definitely "very nice." They wonder what kind of a present to get for Tara. Xander explains that he doesn't really know Tara; the only thing he knows that she likes is Willow, and "she already has one of those. Meanwhile, Spike fantasizes about fighting with Buffy while having sex with Harmony, all the while assuring her that he was only thinking of her the whole time. "

Giles overhears their conversation and asks them how they could sit in a magic shop and not have a clue what to get Tara, who is a witch, for her birthday, finally concluding that they are "profoundly stupid." A young man comes into the Magic Box and disparages magic. He reveals himself as Tara's big brother, who has come to town with Tara's father and a cousin for Tara's birthday. While Tara is clearly not thrilled at their presence, she agrees to have dinner with her family that evening.

At the Summers house, Buffy returns home where Riley has been watching Dawn. As the two discuss how Buffy will return the favor (with talk of outfits), Dawn prepares to have dinner at a nearby friend's house. Buffy balks at this and refuses to allow Dawn to leave the house, and Dawn goes off in a huff. Riley tells Buffy she overreacted and doesn't understand why she's being so over-protective of Dawn. Buffy won't tell Riley the reason behind her behaviour, and Riley leaves frustrated at Buffy's apparent lack of trust in him.

Tara returns to her room to find her father there. He expresses disappointment that she has not moved on from her interest and participation in magic and berates her for being out of reach for months. He tells her she is going home before her friends find out about her evil self. After he leaves, Willow returns and wants to repeat the demon location spell that Tara had secretly sabotaged before. Tara fakes fatigue, so Willow returns to the magic shop. Tara secretly follows her and, from hiding, casts a spell to prevent her friends from seeing her 'demon side'.

Meanwhile, Riley is drinking very heavily in Willy's Bar after another argument with Buffy. Sandy hits on him, but he recognizes her as a vampire and tells her no. Harmony returns to the crypt and tells Spike that the Lei-Ach demons have been summoned to kill Buffy. Spike leaves, saying he wants to catch a decent seat when they do.

Tara's cousin Beth finds her on campus. When Tara refuses to go home, her cousin derides her for being "a selfish bitch", leaving her father and brother to "do for themselves", revealing that Tara is expected to return home and essentially play the servant to her father and brother. Beth also realizes that Tara has cast a spell on her friends. She smugly tells Tara to tell her friends before she does, and Beth then leaves to find Tara's father to inform him what his daughter has done.

Three Lei-Ach demons arrive to attack Buffy, but because of Tara's spell they are invisible to the gang. They search for the Slayer and attack everyone in their path. Giles hides Dawn under a desk. Only Buffy manages to put up a decent fight. Spike arrives and watches the fight for a few seconds, but can't allow Buffy to be killed and instead helps fights the Lei-Achs, although being demon himself his entire scuffle is unseen by Buffy. Tara arrives, realizes her spell has gone awry, and quickly breaks it. The demons can again be seen, and are quickly beaten.

Tara's family arrives. Her father explains that, because of demonic heritage, all of the women in their family turn evil when they become adults. Willow is visibly hurt that Tara has hidden this from her, and Tara tries to re-affirm her love for Willow. When Tara's family insists on taking her away against her wishes, all her friends make it clear they will fight to defend her, declaring that while the Maclays may be her blood kin, her friends are her real family.

Anya then asks Tara's father what kind of demon she is. His refusal to give a straight answer arouses Spike's suspicion, so he punches Tara in the nose, activating Spike's chip and proving that Tara is, in fact, human. Spike concludes that the legend of the Maclay women assuming their demonic heritages upon adulthood is just an old family myth maintained by the Maclay males to keep their women frightened and subordinate to them. Bolstered by the knowledge that she is fully human, Tara declares she will stay with her new family, and confidently tells her relatives to leave, which they do after a slight hesitation.

Riley arrives at the birthday party and kisses Buffy. Tara opens cheesy witch-related birthday presents from the gang, and everybody mingles. Tara and Willow embrace on the dance floor and begin to levitate.


Tropes:

  • Action Fashionista:
    • Buffy has seen a nice sweater she could get Tara for her birthday, but she'd rather have it for herself.
    • Glory interrogates the Lei-Ach demon inside a walk-in closet full of expensive dresses.
  • Anything That Moves: Glory does her usual thing with a chained-up Lei-Ach demon. "You have the cutest suppurating sores, do you know that?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Spike works out that Tara's family have made up the entire demon story to keep their women in line. He then says with approval, "Oh you're a piece of work. I like you."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Glory describes Buffy as blonde, short, strong for a human, and massively rude!
  • Bad Liar: Buffy explaining why she doesn't want Dawn spending the night at a friend's place, because Glory is on the prowl.
    Buffy: I don't want you hanging out with someone that...short.
    Riley: Yeah, a lot of young people nowadays are experimenting with shortness. Gotta nip that in the bud.
  • Between My Legs: Buffy re Spike during his sex dream.
  • Birthday Episode
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Harmony asks Spike what he's thinking during sex. Spike replies, "All about you, baby."
    • Spike tells Harmony he's going to watch the demons kill the Slayer; he actually saves her life.
    • Giles says he's narrowed down the search some for the Big Bad's identity. The camera pans to a table full of open books.
    Buffy: Your definition of narrow is impressively wide.
  • Book Ends: Tara's "insect reflection" joke. At the beginning of the episode, she tells it and nobody gets it; at the end of the episode she explains it to Anya.
    Anya: But it's still not funny.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Xander suggests a "cheesy Crystal Ball" as a present, only to learn Giles already has one wrapped. At the birthday party we see Tara faking a smile as she unwraps the ball.
    • Tara is seen at the end of the episode trying to explain the "insect reflection" joke.
  • Buffy Speak: Willow says there's "Scooby-age afoot".
  • Calling Your Orgasms: In Spike's sex fantasy.
    Spike: You want me, Slayer? Come and get me!
    Buffy: Oh I'm coming. I'm coming right NOW! (Smash Cut to Spike finding 'sweet release' in Harmony)
  • Casual Kink: Buffy promises to reward Riley by wearing "outfits".
  • Chairman of the Brawl: Willow hits the 'Invisible Monster' attacking Xander with a chair.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sandy was made a vampire in "Doppelgangland".
  • Continuity Nod
    • Willow suggests using the demon locate spell to find Glory, even though it didn't work last time they used it — because Tara sabotaged the spell, for reasons we now discover.
    • In the previous episode, Anya said crystal balls were popular with amateurs, which explains why an experienced witch like Tara isn't impressed by them.
  • Cute Kitten: The episode opens on Miss Kitty Fantastico playing about in Willow's dorm.
    • Glory treats her imprisoned Lei-ach demon like one
  • Dark Magical Girl: What Tara thinks she is.
  • Damn With Faint Praise: Tara is...nice.
  • Dance of Romance: It's magic.
  • A Day in the Limelight: For Tara.
  • Daydream Surprise: Spike's Spuffy fantasy. As if that will ever happen.
  • Description Cut:
    • Buffy says she could "use a break from all this craziness." Cut to another crazy person being wheeled into Sunnydale hospital.
    • Xander advises Buffy to work out to get rid of her tension. Cut to Buffy fighting Spike — which turns out to be Spike working off his tension.
    • "How do you think your friends are going to feel when they see your true face?" Cut to close-up of a demon.
  • Disappeared Dad: Buffy says that her father is now living in Spain with his secretary, and that he didn't even call when she left a message about Joyce being sick.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Wicca lifestyle as homosexuality. Tara's father said she doesn't try to hide who she is anymore, while holding a phallic crystal. Then there's this exchange:
    Buffy: Thinking there will be a lot of Wiccans there? Heavy Wiccan crowd?
    Xander: That's sort of her deal. Her and Willow are all Wiccie. Swinging with the Wiccan lifestyle.
    Xander: Oh yeah.
    • Tara doesn't want to "cast spells" with Willow because she's too tired.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Tara tries to explain the insect reflection joke.
    Tara: No, see, 'cause your insect reflection represents your insignificance... (Anya nods) in terms of the karmic cycle.
    Anya: But it's still not funny.
  • False Memories: Buffy ponders how Dawn cried for a week after father left. "Except she didn't. She was never there, but I can still feel what it was like."
  • Family of Choice
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Angry that Buffy is holding back information from him, Riley goes to a Bad-Guy Bar to drown his sorrows and gets hit upon by a female vampire. He turns her down. This time.
    • Buffy doesn't want to tell the other Scoobies about Dawn because they'd act weird around her, and Dawn would Freak Out if she knew the truth. This is exactly what happens in "Blood Ties".
  • Go Through Me: The whole gang does this to protect Tara from her abusive family. Except Spike.
    Buffy: If you want Tara, you'll have to go through all of us.
    Spike: Except me.
    Xander: Except Spike.
    Spike: I don't care what happens.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Tara cast a spell on the other Scoobies to hide her supposed demon-side from them, but it instead makes all demons invisible to them... which proves to be a bad thing when the Lei-Ach demons show up.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Buffy not wanting Dawn to hang around short people. By Season 6 she'll be shorter than her 'little' sister.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Spike saves Buffy's life from a demon, and despite his above claim of indifference hits Tara to prove she's not a demon.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Cousin Beth is Amy Adams.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Spike hitting Tara.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Tara's family abuse her emotionally and lie to her to make her hate herself, fooling her into believing that she's less than human. When she breaks free and makes a life of her own, they start threatening to move on to physical abuse, and would most likely have made good on their threats if it wasn't for almost the entire cast closing ranks around her and telling them that they would have to go through them to get to her.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Spike fantasizes about getting his ass kicked by Buffy while having sex with Harmony.
  • I Resemble That Remark
    Tara: Yeah. You learn her source (grins) and, uh, we'll introduce her to her insect reflection. (everyone stares at her) Um ... that, that was funny if you, um, studied Taglarin mythic rites...and are a complete dork.
    Riley: Oh, then how come Xander didn't laugh?
    Xander: I don't know that Taglarin stuff.
    • Beth snaps, "I hope you're happy!" after Tara rejects her blood family for the Scoobies. Tara just smiles because yes, she is now.
  • Isn't It Ironic: You'd think they could have chosen a better number for the closing scene than a love song to a television!
  • Jerkass Fašade: When all the Scoobies close ranks to protect Tara, Spike states he doesn't care what happens either way. And yet, as soon as he thinks he's figured out what's going on, he immediately steps forward to test his theory.
  • Last-Second Word Swap
    • Tara seeing her family again.
    "How did you fi— I, I mean, how come you came?"
    • Spike hearing the demons are going to kill Buffy.
    "God, that would be...pleasant."
  • Love Floats: The episode ends with Tara and Willow slow-dancing at the Bronze. A Reveal Shot shows they're floating a foot above the ground.
  • Magic Misfire: Tara's spell is meant to hide her 'demon self' from her friends, but instead makes all demons invisible to them.
  • Neck Snap: Buffy breaks the neck of a demon with her foot.
  • Non-human Lover Reveal
  • Not Worth Killing: Buffy assumes Glory will come after her; in truth Glory is embarrassed to discover she fought a mere Slayer, and just sends some demons to kill her as she regards Buffy as an interfering nuisance.
  • Oblivious Mockery: Buffy warns Dawn against boozing at the party; she replies that only losers drink alcohol. The Scoobies all look at their drinks.
  • Omniglot: Glory can understand the demon's language.
  • Once Upon a Time: Tara tells a story of a stray kitten who was placed with a bunch of other strange animals in the pound and eventually adopted by a nice family.
  • Perception Filter: Tara casts a spell so her friends can't see her demon side. Unfortunately this means they can't see the demons attacking them.
  • Prodigal Family: Tara's family are an example of the possessive, malevolent variety.
  • Right Behind Me
    Anya: But we just helped Buffy move her stuff a few days ago... (turns and sees Buffy) ...and it was fun!
  • Sarcasm Mode
    Donny: So all these books got spells in 'em? Turn people into frogs, things like that?
    Xander: Yeah, we're building a race of frog people.
  • Speech Impediment: Tara's stutter returns with a vengeance the moment her family turns up.
  • Spider-Sense: Buffy senses the 'invisible' demons creeping up on her while she's in the training room.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: Giles is trying to establish who Glory is, but isn't having any luck — all Buffy can tell him is that she looks human, acts like Cordelia and recently dyed her hair.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Glory pushes out of a pile of rubble.
    "OK. Now...I'm...upset."
  • This Is Something She's Got to Do Herself: Riley offers to contact the military for help in fighting Glory, which Buffy quickly turns down.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Thanks to the confidence boost gained when all the Scoobies rally behind her (even before learning that she's not actually a demon), Tara is able to stand up to her family, for what seems to be the first time ever.
    Tara: Just go.
  • True Companions / Friendship Moment
    Mr. Maclay: This is insane. You people have no right to interfere with Tara's affairs. WE are her blood kin! Who the hell are you?
    [Shot of Giles, Dawn, Buffy, Willow, Tara, Xander, and Anya all standing together in a group, with Spike in the background.]
    Buffy: We're family.
    • Also a moment of Foreshadowing: it's no coincidence that Spike is there and Riley isn't.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Ben changing his clothes in the locker room. The camera pans away just as he's taking off his pants.
  • Wicked Witch: The Scoobies give Tara cliched presents like broomsticks and crystal balls.
  • Was It All a Lie?
    Willow: Tara ... look at me. I, I trusted you more than anyone in my life. Was all that just a lie?
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Tara's family threaten to take her away by force, and aren't impressed when "two little girls" say they won't.
    Dawn: You don't want to mess with us.
    Buffy: She's a hair-puller.
  • Your Door Was Open: Tara finds her father waiting in her dorm room.