Title: Buffy S5.E19 “Tough Love” + Buffy S5.E20 “Spiral”
Released: 2001

Drinks Taken: 23
Vamps Dusted: 0


Follow the whole rewatch here!


Last week, Kandis reminded us how truly delightful Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance of a Buffybot could be (despite the *extreme* grossness of Spike’s need for a Buffybot). This week, the Glory drama ratchets up to 11, and Tara continues to be the default damsel (though to very compelling effect).

Let’s drink to Dark Willow, not because we prefer her to Normal Willow, but because she stresses us out so much we need a drink:

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 get witchy with it
Riley’s a drag
Things get uncomfortable between Anya and Xander
Dawn is annoying
   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There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference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 callback to previous season shenanigans
The Magic Box has customers
Glory sucks someone’s brain

Onto the eps!

Buffy and Dawn outside looking worried

5.19 “Tough Love”

Buffy decides to take the rest of the semester off from UC-Sunnydale so she can take care of Dawn after Joyce’s death, and while that’s a somewhat small plot point in the rest of this major episode, it’s also a heartbreaking one. She breaks it to her poetry professor, who is so kind and understanding, and SMG makes it clear through small movements and expressions what a sacrifice this is for Buffy, how much she was genuinely enjoying getting to be a student and learn about things that have nothing to do with slaying, like poetry. (As an aside – when Buffy tells the Scoobs, Xander is so wonderful and supportive and WOW it is crazy to like him this much!)

But she definitely needs to take care of Dawn, who’s been missing so much school that Buffy is called into the Sunnydale High principal’s office. The principal is understanding, but tells Buffy if she can’t get Dawn to take school seriously, that Buffy will no longer be considered a viable guardian. Willow’s tutoring Dawn in geometry with some cute hijinks that are actually helping Dawn understand the curriculum, but Buffy loses her temper at what she views as silliness, snaps at Willow and brings Dawn home to do her homework. After some moping from Dawn (and not-entirely incorrect suggestions that she doesn’t even really need an education because she’s a key, not a person), Buffy finally tells Dawn that if she doesn’t shape up, the state might take her away from Buffy. That seems to get Dawn’s attention!

Willow’s still sort of smarting from the Buffy exchange when Tara reiterates that it’s hard for her to understand what Buffy’s going through, and Willow’s pretty whiny about how no one (meaning Buffy and Tara) are taking her advice about losing a mom seriously because she hasn’t, you know, lost a mom. Tara is SO sweet about this rather dumb complaint, apologizing for presenting herself as “Big Knowledge Girl,” and Willow seems to be coming around when Tara makes the mistake of saying that Willow is Big Knowledge Girl when it comes to magic. “It frightens me how powerful you’re getting,” Tara ill-advisedly says when trying to make up with her girlfriend, and Willow takes that just about as well as you’d think. She somehow turns it into an argument about how Tara doesn’t think Willow has enough “lesbo street cred” and like WHOA, sister, Tara did not say anything remotely close to that! She storms off, leaving Tara to go by herself to this multicultural festival they were excited about – and listen, if you’re looking for lesbian street cred, you should probably go to the multicultural festival with your girlfriend. Apologies for the generalization, but that seems like a highly lesbian move.

And guess who shows up at the festival? Why, Glory! She beelines for poor Tara and immediately sucks her brain (drink, but like a sad drink), and Willow shows up just in time to find a mentally incapacitated Tara, whose cognitive function remains impaired for the rest of this episode and beyond. It’s really sad, but before Willow allows herself to healthily process her feelings of guilt and grief, she goes all Dark Willow and black-eyed-floats after Glory in spite of Buffy’s wise guidance to NOT do that:


Willow: “I owe you pain.”

As badass as that gif is, Glory unsurprisingly gets the upper hand of this little showdown, pretty much immediately. Fortunately, Dawn and Spike (who are very nicely bonding when Buffy asks Spike to watch her kid sister while she visits Tara in the hospital, and it definitely says something about the events of last week that she now fully trusts Spike to watch Dawn) convince Buffy that Willow’s definitely going to fight Glory even though Buffy told her not to, so B shows up in the nick of time. She fights Glory, whose energy is rather zapped from her Willow confrontation, and Willow and Buffy escape. 

The episode wraps up with Willow, Buffy and Dawn passing out sandwiches. Tara’s out of the hospital but still not herself, and Dawn is so loving and gentle in helping her to eat her tuna fish sammy. Willow tells Buffy that no matter how long it takes for Tara to recover from Glory’s head-sucking – even if it takes forever – she’ll be by her side. “She’s my girl,” Willow says, and Buffy smiles at Dawn and says, “I understand.”

It would be a really lovely way to end the episode, but we have one more scene. Glory shows up, rips the wall off their dorm and starts menacing the crew – and Tara accidentally reveals that Dawn is the key. Ruh-roh.

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted


Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

I believe this is Dawn’s first style snaps! LOVE her blue leather jacket. She probably borrowed it from Buffy, but hey, what are big sisters for?

Dawn in a teal leather jacket


When Willow tries to convince Buffy to take a break from Dawn-obsessing and have some fun, Buffy says she can’t but, “Don’t worry, it’s not like I don’t have a life. I do. I have Dawn’s life.” Gah!

Giles For Life

Buffy goes to Giles and asks him to be Dawn’s disciplinarian, since he’s “the grown-up,” and Giles is so tender but firm in his response: “I may be a grownup, but you’re her family. Her only real family now.”


Giles: “She needs you to do this.”

Twillow 4Ever

As Willow sits by Tara’s side in the hospital, the doctor asks if Tara’s her sister. Willow makes me sob with her response:


Willow, about Tara: “She’s my everything.”

Anya Loves Money (drink!)

Anya doesn’t get much screentime in this ep, but her one scene is gold. She’s decided to throw herself into patriotism (you’ll get over it, Anya), because America has created her favorite system: capitalism!

Poor Ben

He loses his job at the hospital because he’s been Glory for two straight weeks. Dude can’t catch a break!

The Scoobies sitting around a table in an RV

5.20 “Spiral”

The episode picks up right where “Tough Love” leaves off, with Tara, Dawn, Buffy and Willow cowering under Glory’s wrath. Willow slows Glory down with some magic while Buffy and Dawn flee – Buffy even carries Dawn as she hauls ass, it’s very superheroic – but the only thing that stops Glory from catching them is that she’s luckily hit by a truck. Later, the Scoobs debrief, and Buffy asserts that their only chance of survival is running away. Everyone’s surprised to hear that from The Slayer (except Anya, who supports this “sensible plan”), but Buffy makes a strong case for the fact that they’ve barely survived Glory before she knew Dawn was the key. Now they don’t have a shot in hell. Luckily, Spike has an RV and the whole crew piles in for a road trip to nowhere! I wish we had more time to enjoy Anya’s road trip games and RV cooking, but the fun is interrupted by the dumb old Knights of Byzzzzantium. 

While Ben’s bemoaning his half-humanity and powerlessness in the face of Glory’s key whims, the Knights break into the hospital to retrieve one of their members, and then chase the RV – on horseback, no less – down the highway in a verrrrry slow chase scene. The Scoobs hold their own for a while, until a spear enters the windshield and impales Giles, who then crashes the RV. They escape on foot to a nearby abandoned gas station, and most of the rest of the episode takes place as a showdown between the Scoobs and the Knights at this location. Some parts are compelling – a couple very emotional Giles scenes that we’ll get into below, Dawn’s discovery that she has the power to end the entire g-d UNIVERSE, and Spike feeling some jealousy and inadequacy in the wake of Buffy and Ben’s connection – but there’s way more Knights business than I’d generally care for.

Oh yeah, Ben shows up – Buffy arranges a temporary truce with the Knights so he can take care of Giles, and he gets him into stable condition while Buffy learns (finally!) from the Knights that Glory has a hidden mortal side that represents her only vulnerability. Then the Knights’ general talks to Ben and tries to convince him to kill Dawn, before Glory takes over and kills the general, instead. She fights her way to the Scoobs through Willow’s magic force field and makes off with Dawn. The Scoobs spring into action to retrieve Dawn, but Buffy – who has been feeling mightily worn down this entire episode over the endless stream of chaos that has chased her since Glory came to down – finally breaks down at the loss of Dawn. The episode ends with Buffy just staring off, tears rolling down her cheeks, as the rest of the Scooby Gang tries to get her to move.

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted


Anya Hates Bunnies

When Anya suggests dropping a piano on Glory, everyone stares at her blankly. “Well, it always works for that creepy cartoon rabbit when he’s running from that nice man with the speech impediment.”

Later, as she’s hitting some invading Knights with a frying pan:


Anya: “Not a piano, but hey.”

The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week

Giles, about Buffy:


Giles: “She’s been through more than her fair share of late.”

Giles For Life

SOB! Genuinely cannot handle this scene. Never die, Giles. Never, ever die.

That’s it for this week! QUESTION: have you warmed up to Dawn at all? I find myself feeling very affectionately toward her in these episodes. The way the Scoobs all come together to protect her, and the way she comes to terms with who she is and shows such gratitude for Buffy’s love – man, it gets me in the feels.

Meet us back here next Wednesday morning as Stephanie takes us through the end of Season 5, with “The Weight of the World” and “The Gift.” Bring tissues!

Meredith Borders is formerly the Texas-based editor of Fangoria and Birth.Movies.Death., now living and writing (and reading) in Germany. She’s been known to pop by Forever Young Adult since its inception, and she loves YA TV most ardently.