Buffy, Willow and Tara look on at Tara's shitty family.

About:

Title: Buffy S5.E05 “No Place Like Home” + S5.E06 “Family”
Released: 2000

Drinks Taken: 21
Vamps Dusted: 1

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week, Xander learned how to be his best self, and Spike tried—and failed—to get his chip removed. Thank goodness! He’s much more fun with it. I have the task this week of introducing you to our main season five plot as well as our new Big Bad. Oh, yes, and Tara! I didn’t see you standing over there, so quiet. She gets an episode too!

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season Five Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Willow and/or Tara gets witchy with it
Riley is a drag
Things get funcomfortable between Anya and Xander
Dawn is annoying
The Magic Box has customers
Anya loves money
Spike has zero chill around Buffy

Drink twice every time:

Giles drinks tea
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a call back to previous season shenanigans
Glory sucks someone’s brain
Someone uses a payphone

We decided against making “Glory says the word ‘key’” part of the drinking game rules on account of not wanting to kill you, dear readers.

Buffy comforts Dawn.

5.05 “No Place Like Home”

We open on a group of monks getting blown to smithereens. Well, not all of them; one is squatting in an empty warehouse in Sunnydale four months later, and he’s careless enough to leave his Dagon sphere—a magical protection orb—lying around the parking lot. A kindly security guard gives it to Buffy, out on patrol, because she looks like someone who collects weird, glowy things.

If you recall from last week, Joyce collapsed and has been having unexplainable headaches. Watching this storyline now and knowing what’s to come makes this so sad. Joyce refuses to worry over her health, so Buffy does it on her behalf. She tries to keep Dawn from bothering their mom, but gets jealous when Joyce loves up on Dawn and not her.

“Why do I have to be the adult? Why can’t I ever be Lil’ Pumpkin Belly?” Buffy whines to Willow later. Willow tells her to go easy on Dawn because she’s the baby. I feel for Buffy because if Dawn wasn’t around, she would be getting to comfort her mom like she wants. And as an only child myself, I can attest that sometimes, yeah, we DON’T like to share. raspberry

Like a good daughter, Buffy drops by the hospital pharmacy for her mom’s headache pills and runs into Ben, the nice intern, and helps him calm a psych patient. But it’s the formerly sane security guard she met earlier! “They get to you through your family!” he yells at her, and this gives Buffy an idea. What if something mystical is making her mom sick?! Anya tells her about a trance spell that will let her see if there’s any magical residue surrounding Joyce, indicating that someone spelled her.

There’s a small boring plot wrapped up in this where Buffy calls Riley over to “help” with the spell by doing the “complicated” jobs of pouring the sand in a circle and lighting the incense. Dawn got into their heads earlier by comparing how protective Buffy acts around Dawn to the now completely human, non-enhanced-strength Riley. Riley assures Buffy she doesn’t need to find him stuff to do to stay relevant; they can still take care of each other. Uh huh, sure. (Driiiiink all the drinks.)

Buffy does the trance-dance and wanders around looking for clues. She’s upset when she doesn’t find anything on Joyce; she’s just actually sick. But the family photos containing Dawn’s visage are flickering in and out of existence. Buffy runs up to Dawn’s room and watches it oscillate from a teen girl’s living space to a spare, dark bedroom full of art and junk. Dawn herself is somehow there and not there.

Buffy watches the world around Dawn change and reshape.

Say whaaat.

Buffy grabs Dawn and shoves her against the wall. “What are you?” she shouts at her. “Stay away from my mother!” Dawn is, of course, completely hurt and pissed at Buffy, but since we, the viewers, aren’t privy to her true nature yet, the director uses this moment to direct Michelle Trachtenburg to straight up play Dawn like she’s creepy Macaulay Caulkin from The Bad Seed.

Giles calls, interrupting their face-off, to tell Buffy the Dagon sphere wards off ancient primordial evil. He has to scream over the noise of the customers because, yes! Today was the grand opening of the Magic Box. He was worried the venture would be a bust when no customers showed up all morning, but apparently magic-lovers are late-risers because business is a-booming! He has to press the rest of the Scooby Gang into his service for the day, and no one loves it more than Anya, who finds the entire transactional process immensely satisfying. This love of the sale earns her a permanent spot on Giles’ payroll. (Drink!)

Buffy assumes this sphere is there to protect them all from the evil that is Dawn, so she heads to the warehouse to investigate. What she’ll find is a tied-up, bloodied monk and a Laaaady in Reeeeeed

Glory the god wearing a red dress

*sings* There’s nobody here, it’s just you and me…

Except that’s no lady—SHE is the primordial evil so ancient and unnameable. She doesn’t SEEM that bad at first; she’s like a whinier Regina George. She pouts, cajoles, and begs the monk to give her the itty-bitty key that she wants so badly. But theeeeen Glory’s rants stop making sense, so, to calm herself down, she sticks her fingers in a dude’s head and sucks the sane right out of him. Or maybe pushes her insane into him? You know, I’m not really sure how it works.

Buffy’s arrival breaks up Glory’s torture sesh. They shoot some quips at each other, trade a few punches, but then Glory is over it and it becomes clear Buffy is no match for her strength. So Buffy grabs the monk and literally jumps out the window. Bad-ASS, Buff. Glory pitches a fit, stamps her foot, and brings the roof down on herself, buried for the time being.

Buffy drags the monk across the parking lot to safety, but his injuries are too severe to go on. He tells her he and his monk-friends were the protectors of an ancient, formless energy that opened some portal, but the Abomination came after it. So they made the energy into flesh and sent it to Buffy in the form of Dawn so she would be more inclined to protect it. Buffy is distraught that they have messed with her life in such a fundamental way. “You put that in my house? What IS she?” Buffy is about one second away from shaking a dying monk.

“She is human and helpless,” he insists. “She’s an innocent in this.” Buffy realizes Dawn has never actually been her sister at all, but “she doesn’t know that,” the monk reminds her before dying. Oh snap! I remember this all being quite the reveal back in the day.

Buffy goes home to apologize for assuming Dawn was evil, and they make up only as sisters can. She strokes Dawn’s hair, and SMG does a great job of conveying Buffy’s emotional inner turmoil as she contemplates this new person she’s now bound to protect. Like, how wild is it to realize all your memories of your family have been altered? I know the monks did it, but HOW exactly? That’s thousands of hours of moments of idle conversations, laughter, fights, family dinners to make up on the fly. QUITE the mind-screw.

How many times do I have to take a drink?

12

Vamps Dusted

1

Cameo

Wow, IMDB just informed me that Ben is played by Charlie Weber who plays Frank on How to Get Away with Murder and I had NO idea they were the same person, though I should have. Look at that chin!

Ben is Charlie Weber

And Glory is played by Clare Kramer, who is most well known to me from her role as a bitchy cheerleader in Bring It On.

Glory is Clare Kramer

Only A Sister…

Dawn rags on Buffy.

Dawn: “I tell you I have this theory? It goes where you’re the one who’s not MY sister. Mom adopted you from a shoebox of baby howler monkeys and never told you cuz it could hurt your delicate baby feelings.”
Buffy: “That’s your theory?”
Dawn: “Explains your fashion sense. And the smell.”

Bloody Good Snark

This episode brings us this CLASSIC Spike retort:

Buffy: “Spike, don’t take this the wrong way, but… *punches him* What are you doing here? Five words or less.”
Spike: “Out. For. A. Walk…Bitch.”

Everything about this interaction is just one of the many things I love about Buffy.

Giles For Life

There are no words to describe Giles in a wizard robe and hat, and there don’t need to be…

Buffy and the Scooby Gang protect Tara from Tara's crappy family.

5.06 “Family”

It’s the very first Tara-centric episode! She’ll finally get more to do other than run for her life, like tackle evil fundies! Okay, so they never explicitly discuss whether or not Tara’s dad is super religious, but I feel like his general attitude often follows a particular kind of thinking. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We rejoin Buffy at home late at night, right after she’s learned of Dawn’s true nature. Am I the only one who awww’d that the very first person she told is Giles? (I am very invested in their father/daughter relationship, if it’s not clear.) They debate about what to do—send Dawn away, run for the hills, wrap Dawn in bubble wrap—but Buffy decides to continue on as normal while they try to learn everything they can about She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Most importantly, they won’t tell anyone else that Dawn is the key, for her protection and their own.

Glory extricates herself from the rubble of the warehouse, and inexplicably kidnaps a very ugly MOTW:

A demon walks in a locker room and sticks his tongue out.

What is that tongue thing? Eww! (Also, doesn’t this guy’s sneer remind you of Snyder???)

She sits in her walk-in closet and complains about the blonde girl who stole her monk. The demon tells her it was the Slayer—which is apparently super embarrassing; a Vampire Slayer is so common—so she asks him to round up his pals and go kill Buffy for her.

The next day everyone is at Buffy’s dorm packing so she can move back in at home. Tara works on the closet, watching the group’s antics bemusedly but sort of from the outside. She’s surface friendly with everyone, but these are her girlfriend’s friends, and as a shy, Wicca-obsessed, self-proclaimed dork, she obviously finds it hard to relax and feel confident enough to be herself. When she jumps into the conversation with a super specific magic-based joke that no one else gets, she metaphorically dies on the spot and makes a hasty exit. Whew. I was vibing HARD with Tara’s social awkwardness this episode.

At the Magic Box, everyone sans Willow and Tara commiserate over what kind of gift to get Tara for her upcoming birthday party. Xander and Buffy trip over themselves to establish that Tara’s “nice” but they only know of two things she likes: magic and Willow. Giles stumbles into the conversation and calls them profoundly stupid for not being able to pick out a gift for a witch in a magic store.

Xander, Buffy, and Giles discuss what to get Tara for her birthday when they don't really know her.
Xander: “I mean, what are we going to get her, some cheesy crystal ball?”
Giles: “You bloody well better not. I’ve got mine already wrapped!”

Even Giles went basic beeyotch for Tara’s present.

Then Tara’s whole family shows up: Mr. Maclay; older brother, Donnie; and cousin Beth. They’d never miss Tara’s twentieth birthday! Tara looks massively uncomfortable with their presence; even her nervous stutter is back! It’s clear there’s something off, but she agrees to a birthday dinner later to get them to leave.

Tara has clearly been brainwashed her whole life, and while she’s gained perspective at college, she’s still held back by old fears. Daddy Maclay gets all huffy that Tara is now flaunting her little magic hobby. Cousin Beth, traitor-to-the-feminine-race, spitefully threatens to tell Tara’s friends what she really is unless Tara comes back home. Tara realizes only magic can save her, so she casts a spell on the Scooby Gang so they can’t see the demon that lurks within her. This has the unintended side effect of making ALL demons invisible to them, so when Glory’s henchmen come a-knocking, everyone is taken unawares.

Let’s take a brief pause to check in on the two men obsessed with Buffy: Riley is upset Buffy won’t tell him why she’s being so protective about Dawn, and goes off drinking at Willie’s bar. A vampire…lady of the night(?) chats him up, and while he says no, he’s still kind of digging it? Spike is having sexy daydreams about Buffy while he has actual sex with Harmony. The cad.

Anyway, the (invisible) demons begin attacking the group in a humorous montage of physical comedy. Buffy’s honed Slayer senses warn her of the attack like she’s the Karate Kid, but there’s two too many and they begin to overpower her. Spike happens to be wandering by and at first enjoys the show, but finally his crush kicks in and he helps Buffy. Tara arrives and, realizing what her spell has wrought, quickly uncasts it so the demons are revealed.

The Maclays show up just in time to see Buffy curb-stomping the last demon and are horrified. They explain they must take Tara away because she’s a demon, like all the women in her family. Willow is hurt that Tara’s been lying to her, but she urges her to stick up for herself. Tara cries and says she doesn’t want to go. “Do what’s right, Tara,” Mr. Maclay barks. “I’m taking you out of here. The girl belongs with her family.” Buffy agrees:

Is it getting dusty in here? *wipes eyes*

The Scooby Gang stand in defense of Tara and tell the Maclays THEY are Tara’s family. Cousin Beth snippily tells them to enjoy hanging out with a yucky demon, then, but then Anya asks what kind Tara supposedly is, as some are “considered to be useful members of society.” The Maclays can’t answer because they’re lying turds. Spike decides to end the issue once and for all by punching Tara in the nose, which gives him a headache because, duh, she’s human! Tara tells her dumb family to go, and that’s that!

We’re then treated to a joyous birthday party montage at The Bronze (Dawn gets Tara a broom, lol) whilst a newly confident Tara and blissfully happy Willow share a Casper-esque slow dance.

Can I keep you?

How many times do I have to take a drink?

9

Vamps Dusted

0

Cameo

Amy Adams as Tara's cousin.

Oh snap, it’s super famous actress Amy Adams! She was probably already a big name the last time I watched this. I feel like Dorry being surprised by this cameo all over again.

Anya’s Found Her Calling And It’s Kind Of Cute

Anya loves selling things and capitalism.

Anya, to a customer: “Thank you for your patronage! Please come again for more purchases!”
Giles: “Could we perhaps be a little less effusive, Anya? Don’t want to frighten the people.”
Anya: “I’m just so excited. They come in, I help them. They give us money in exchange for goods. You give me money for working for you. I have a place in the world now! I’m part of the system. I’m a working gal!”
Giles: “Yes. Well, why don’t you start organizing the shipping orders?”
Anya: “Oh, no, that’s boring. I just want to do the money parts.”

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

Willow wearing a pretty dress for Tara's birthday.

I covet Willow’s pretty patterned green dress with the billowy sleeves from Tara’s birthday.

Giles For Life

Giles and Buffy helping Tara move in her dorm.

Anya: “But we just helped her move this stuff in a few DAYS ago. *turns around and sees Buffy’s there* And it was fun!”
Giles, just standing there just rifling through a book: “People help each other out, Anya. It’s one of our strange customs.”
Buffy: “Giles, I noticed you’re doing the smallest amount of helping that can actually be called helping.”
Giles: “Well…I saw myself in more of a patriarchal sort of role. You know, lots of pointing and scowling. *notices Riley and Xander fighting* You two, stop that!”

Is Amy Still A Rat?

Yup.


For original show watchers, what did you think of the Dawn’s identity reveal? Also, how does Glory rank in everyone’s personal list of Big Bads? I feel like I liked the idea of her for a good part of the season, but her scenes eventually got very repetitive. I vastly prefer her to Adam and the Initiative storyline, especially as the scope and stakes of season five were a lot more grandiose and that appealed to me. And Tara! What do we think of her at this point? I’m a bit ahead of the rewatch, and I like that she’s clearly much more gelled with the group after “Family”.  

Let’s virtually meet back up next Wednesday as Sarah covers “Fool for Love”, in which we learn how Spike acquired his leather duster and his nickname, and the all-too-real and very depressing “Shadow”.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.