Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 6


Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 07, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
516 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

As the gang get ready to celebrate Tara's birthday, her family arrives in town to take her back home. She resists, but her father insists that she come back with them before the family curse turns her into a demon on her 20th birthday.

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  • This is an episode that is fairly simplistic in its characterizations but still manages to provide solid entertainment.

    While not an example of Whedon's best work, there remains much to like about this one. The main plot is about Tara, her isolation from the Scooby Gang, and her family who comes to drag her home. There's also a handful of excellent small scenes that touch on issues ranging from the Buffy/Riley relationship to Spike's violent sexualized fantasies with Buffy to a little more insight into Glory's methods and personality. The side material works a lot better than the core plot, which is mostly due to Tara's family being sadly one-sided, which is especially unusual for a Whedon episode. When the two aspects are mixed together, though, the result is still pretty entertaining.

    The review shall begin as the episode begins: with Buffy telling Giles about Dawn and Glory. I must say I'm really impressed and pleased to see Buffy telling Giles about Glory and Dawn's true nature immediately. This is beautiful development and a trust that stems from Buffy's growth that began all the way back in "Revelations" when she didn't tell Giles about Angel being back. I'm also pleased they decided not to tell anyone else about this. Buffy's logic here is spot-on, because when the other Scoobies find out about Dawn in "Blood Ties", they do end up acting weird around her.

    I like that, much later on, Buffy can 'sense' the demons in the room with her even though she couldn't see them. All that training and concentration excercise is paying off. I also liked how the Tara plot and the Glory plot interconnected. This is an entertaining little fight sequence which proves to be very refreshing. This episode isn't about Buffy though -- it's about Tara. Whedon tries hard to make us sympathize with her, too hard even. The whole episode is designed around making the viewers and the Scoobies feel like Tara is really part of the gang, and in that goal I feel it only partially succeeds, mostly due to how uninteresting and undeveloped her relatives are.

    The setup to all of this begins when Tara is telling a joke that no one else understands. I do sympathize with her a bit; it's got to be tough to break into a close-knit group of friends like that, even putting aside the fact that she's Willow's lesbian girlfriend, which time-wise is still a very new thing for the rest of the group to absorb. This is emphasized even more when Buffy and Xander chat about what to get Tara for her birthday. Their comments perfectly reflect my thoughts on Tara as well at this point: Xander says, "Well, she's nice!" Buffy replies, "Yeah!" They also both express concern for fitting in at a likely heavy "Wicca crowd," but it really feels like they are both also talking about the possibility of there being a lot of lesbians there, in which case they both definitely wouldn't fit in. This subtext feels present throughout the entire episode which, no doubt about it, is very clever.

    The big problem here, which I've already briefly mentioned, is Tara's family. From the moment Tara's brother walks in he comes across as single-minded and condescending. It's unfortunate he stays that way throughout the episode, and that the rest of Tara's family follow suit in simplicity. This is not the complexity of character I expect out of a Whedon-penned episode. One of the things that separates BtVS from other television shows is that things aren't so black and white. An evil man often has positive attributes and the heroes often have deeply negative attributes. No important character is just 'blah'. Tara's family, though, is 'blah' and has about zero complexity to them, which leaves me a bit disappointed. Besides Tara's father, the family member that irritated me the most was Beth. This is apparent especially in her scene with Tara outside the university. All she is doing is dutifully obeying their father and appears to have no redeeming qualities, exemplified by not having any consideration for Tara's feelings.

    With all that said, I still enjoyed some of the small details in execution of the plot. The little moment when Tara is almost frightened to hug her own dad for exmample. She even says, "Yes sir" to him. There are some deeply-rooted problems here that the episode doesn't even bother to explore, although I did appreciate the little hint that there's more going on in relation to Tara's childhood. With men like that in her family, it's no wonder why she'd be more interested in girls for intimacy. I really enjoyed Amber Benson's acting when Tara is confronted about what she 'is' and that she's responsible for the group not being able to see their attackers. The way she says "I'm sorry" and scampers off is saddening, although she does deserve some of the anger directed at her. Willow makes a good point though. She says, "she just did a spell that went Willow knows from experience that that happens from time-to-time, and so does the whole group. Although the Scoobies standing up for Tara is a bit on the soggy side, it is admittedly pretty sweet. The same goes for the final scene where Tara and Willow float-dance together. I can suspend my cynicism every now and then. Really. :)

    Even though the main plot did not work nearly as well as it could have, I did really enjoy all the other bits and pieces. Spike, for exmaple, fantasizing about having an extremely sexual fight with Buffy while actually having sex with Harmony. Very, very funny, and also very much reminds me of Buffy and Spike's violent encounter in "Smashed". We definitely get to see exactly what it is Spike wants at this point: a fighter who he can spar with, an equal -- or better -- fighter than he, that is also very sexual. Buffy's, "oh, I'm coming!" is perfectly timed with an amusing cut. Harmony asks, "What are you thinking Spike smoothly replies, "all about you,

    I found Glory's comment interesting, about how 'common' vampire slayers are and how she's embarrassed that she even went so low as to fight with one. This gives the viewers a reason why she is not constantly going after Buffy herself. Yes Glory's often stupid, but people in positions of great power have historically often been pretty stupid as well. She expects to be catered to and treated like royalty: "when I enter a room all eyes turn to me and worship me!" At this point, anyway, I must say that I really like this character. The combination of insanity, stupidity, power, obsession, and being worshiped by others is all very wacky and interesting.

    The last thread to touch on is the ongoing saga of Riley. I do like how brief his scenes are: we quickly get the just of his building-up anguish over his relationship with Buffy. Riley lets Buffy know that he's not pleased she's not letting him into her life. It's unfortunate that she really does have a good reason not to tell him the big Dawn revelation. Riley's beginning to get fed up with waiting for her to fully trust him. He wants a real deep relationship with Buffy. He wants to be there with her, in both the bad and the good. Although he also has a problem with the fact that Buffy isn't one to cry on another's shoulder very often: she lets loose her deepest emotions alone. When you have an intimate relationship, though, you're supposed to be able to share those deepest feelings. That's one of the scariest things about love: it often leaves you very vulnerable. It's obvious that Buffy either doesn't want that connection with Riley or just isn't ready at all for that kind of connection. So, I see both parties in this relationship making mistakes; they're both at fault here, although Riley really needs to understand Buffy's unique position as the Slayer. She often has special reasons and considerations not to be open about certain things.

    Anyway, this is a solid episode which give Tara some lovin' that also furthers several underlying character threads in an excellent way. The plot missed the boat in execution and is hurt because of it, but I still very much enjoyed the whole package.moreless
  • Willow and Tara 4ever!

    The Good;

    The wonderful face off in the magic shop at the end and the too beautiful scene where Tara and Willow dance on air.

    The Bad;

    My Name is Earl aside rednecks get a hard time on US TV and this is no exception.

    Best line;

    Will "See that's where you're the dummy"

    Women good/men bad;

    Hugely misogynistic, the whole family lying to their womenfolk to keep them enslaved. Donny threatens to beat his own sister, Xander threatens to break him into pieces if he tries (and this is why we love Xander!). We learn for the first time that Hank is in Spain 'living the cliche' with his secretary. According to Buffy Hank now 'bailed' on the Summers girls.


    The demon's sores are icky

    Kinky dinky;

    Tara calls Willow a 'vixen'. Riley meets Sandy the vampwhore at Willy's. Of course Sandy is the poor girl Vampwillow bit at the Bronze in Dopplegangland which is some pretty damn brilliant continuity. Spike and Harmony have sex but he's secretly thinking about Buffy. Buffy promises Riley 'outfits' in return for his help, looks like Xander and Anya aren't the only ones who like to play dress-up? (The Duchess and the Highwayman? The Strict Headmaster? Princess Leia in the gold bikini? The cowboy and the rancher's daughter?)

    Captain Subtext;

    Maybe it's just me but I always thought there were hints of attraction between Buffy, Glory and her Key? It starts here with Buffy describing Glory as Cordeliaesque (and one day Cordy too will be a hell-goddess). She also says that she's 'exciting and new'. Tara's mega-cute story of Miss Kitty is obviously Dawn once again. Spike saves Buffy for the first time.

    Apocalypses; 5,

    Scoobies in bondage:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Xander; 1

    Dawn; 1

    Scoobies knocked out:

    Buffy: 15

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1


    Kills: one demon each for Buffy and Spike (does the 3rd just run away?)

    Buffy: 86 vamps, 30 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 4 vamps

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 5 vamps, 2 zombies, a demon, a demon

    Anya: a demon

    Riley; 12 vamps + 7 demons

    Spike; 1 demon (now in the service of the Scoobies)

    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 3

    Alternate scoobies:

    Buffy: 6

    Giles: 3

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 3

    Recurring characters killed: 9

    Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh, Forrest, McNamara

    Sunnydale deaths; Harmony kills the poor sales clerk


    Total number of scoobies: 7

    Giles, Xander, Willow, Buffy, Anya, Tara, Riley

    Xander demon magnet: 5(6?)

    Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?), Dracula?

    Scoobies shot:

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4

    Riley; 1

    Notches on Scooby bedpost:

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny and 3xDraccy babes?

    Cordy: 1?

    Buffy: 3 confirmed; Angel, Parker,Riley, 1 possible, Dracula(?)

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Joyce: 1;Giles, 2 possible, Ted and Dracula(?)

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara

    What the fanficcers thought;

    Once read an interesting one where Tara's family were actually Texas Chainsaw Massacre types and by the end whilst they'd been wiped out the Scoobies had lost everyone except Willow, Tara, Dawn and Riley. In the follow up story Willow and Tara ressurect Buffy 'Bargaining 1&2' style and she discovers Dawn has become become a cross between Lara Croft and Ash from the Evil Dead series (but still with both hands). Meanwhile Faith defeated the First and shared her power with the Potentials but was presumed to have perished in the collapsing the Hellmouth. But whose is that gorgeous female hand holding a scythe breaking the surface at the Sunnydale crater...?

    Questions and observations;

    Of course an unknown Amy Adams plays cousin Beth, hasn't she done well since! Riley comments that a lot of young people are experimenting with shortness nowadays. Well HE certainly isn't! Dawn thinks only losers drink alcohol but seems to have a great time during her first visit to the Bronze. Contrast Tara now to the girl we first meet in season 4 her stutter is gone. When her family come back so does it. Looking at SMG exercising in this ep you really believe she could be a Slayer, her athleticism is incredible. But she's TOO THIN, like Courtney Cox in some of the later seasons of Friends. Prefer the way she looks in season 1. Just me or do the demons look like clowns? Clever shot when Riley is in Willy's Bar, we think it's Spike at first.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • A brilliant episode; Tara's secret is revealed and one of the show's best scenes happens towards the end.

    Family is another fantastic episode of Season 5 and it's one of those episode that you can't help but love. It's emotional, sad and yet quite (dare I say it) heartwarming towards the end. It really pushes Willow and Tara's relationship further and is a classic of the show.

    This is the first episode all about Tara; she's a highly popular character and this episode is one her fans are going to love. I am a big Tara fan myself so I really loved this episode and thought it pushed the bounds of the relationship between Tara and the entire gang a lot furhter. So far Tara has been just "Willow's girlfriend" but from here on she becomes a valued member of the gang.

    I loved the entire storyline of the episode; Tara's family got me very angry and that is something the episode is meant to do. As with Willow, it made me love Tara even more as I learnt what she grew up with and why she is so shy. She breaks out from her shell from now on and I'm glad of this. Her father was a supreme idiot and my only wish is that Buffy had smacked him around the head!

    The Glory storyline was also furthered here as we learn more about her and her ways. Her references to a vampire slayer as "common" were quite insightful and I loved the bit at the start were she just threw the bricks and stuff from the collapsed building off her and said quietly "Okay. Now I'm upset". Clare Kramer is awesome.

    The last 5 minutes were truly outstanding. The Scooby Gang's speech was just wonderful and so nice for Tara to know she's wanted and accepted. A truly amazing piece of writing from Joss. Then the bit in the Bronze with the dialogue between Willow and Tara and then the floating- you either love it or hate it! I love it but I can see why some may hate it- it's a bit cheesy! Willow/Tara fans will like it though.

    Family is a fantastic underrated episode that really brings Willow and Tara even closer. It has some many great moments and is an episode that almost everyone will enjoy. A terrific episode.moreless
  • Family

    Family was an amazing episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I really enjoyed watching this episode because there was lots of action, drama, intrigue, revelation, and humor. I thought that the story of this episode was a very good way to solidify Tara to the scooby gang. We learned more about the mysterious woman in red, and saw more of Ben at the hospital. This series in general has a theme of be careful what you say, and what the characters say is very important not only in their reallity, but to viewers trying to figure things out. I thought it was great what Buffy said to Riley after he told her he unpacked her things already, having already seen the entire series, but it holds true to my prior statement. I also thought it was great that Willow and Tara are growing closer together, and I also like seeing the use of Magic in the series. This is a very important episode where we get our base knowledge about the woman in red.moreless
  • Tara's dysfunctional family arrive to 'celebrate' her 20th birthday,Buffy fills Giles in on the latest big bad (who is shiny & new!)& the origins of The Key (aka Dawn Summers) and Spike & Harmony share an intimate moment as Spike's mind wanders!!moreless

    This is the episode that all Tara fans have been waiting for as we get to learn a lot more about Ms Maclay & her family history.And even if you're not a Tara fan (and shame on you if you're not) there is much to like about this episode.

    The set pieces where the gang move Buffy out of her dorm room and where Spike has erotic thoughts about The Slayer while making love with Harmony are priceless and Michelle Trachtenberg continues to grow into her role as Dawn and appears to be yet another inspired piece of casting.

    But 'Family' is all about Tara & Amber Benson gets another chance to strut her stuff & truly shines as a character actor of immense depth.

    And the final scene is pure magic!moreless
Amy Adams

Amy Adams

Cousin Beth

Guest Star

Steve Rankin

Steve Rankin

Mr. Maclay

Guest Star

Kevin Rankin

Kevin Rankin


Guest Star

Mercedes McNab

Mercedes McNab


Recurring Role

Clare Kramer

Clare Kramer


Recurring Role

Charlie Weber

Charlie Weber


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Nitpick: At the end when they are all at the Bronze, Dawn complains that she has to wear a stamp and Xander says that it is so that she can't drink (and you see that Xander, Buffy, Giles and Riley all are). Both Buffy and Xander should have the stamps on as well. Buffy turned 19 in the middle of season 4, so she isn't even 20 and Xander shouldn't be that much older than her.

    • Harmony talked about a bargain at April Fools and came to Spike's crypt with bags from the store. April Fools was the dress shop which Cordelia worked in season 3 when her father lost all his money.

    • Guest Star Amy Adams (Tara's cousin Beth) was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006 for her 2005 performance in Junebug, and also in 2008 for her 2007 performance in Enchanted, making her one of only three, to date, BTVS guest stars to have been nominated for the Oscar for acting. Joel Grey (Doc) won for Cabaret and Lindsay Crouse (Prof. Walsh) was also nominated.

    • Goof: When the demons attack them in the magic shop Willow's hair style keeps changing, the ends are flipped in, then out the half and half, even though she wouldn't have had a chance to change her hair style.

  • QUOTES (16)

    • Glory: (to Lei-ach demon) You have the cutest little suppurating sores! Has anyone ever told you that?

    • 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.

    • (Spike punches Tara in the nose and they both react with intense pain)
      Willow: (angry) Hey! (with dawning realization) Hey...
      Tara: He hit my nose!
      Willow: And it hurt! Uh, him, I mean.
      Buffy: And that only works on humans.
      Spike: There's no demon in there. That's just a family legend, am I right? Just a bit of spin to keep the ladies in line. Oh, you're a piece of work. I like you.
      Tara: (softly, to Willow) I'm not a demon.
      Willow: You're not a demon.
      Tara: He hurt my nose.
      Willow: Aw.
      Spike: Yeah, you're welcome.

    • Buffy: Nothing like getting your ass kicked to make your ass hurt.

    • Willow: Good birthday?
      Tara: Best birthday.
      Willow: I still can't believe you didn't tell me about your family and all that.
      Tara: I was just afraid if you saw the kind of people I came from, you wouldn't wanna be anywhere near me.
      Willow: See ... that's where you're a dummy. I think about ... what you grew up with, and ... then I look at what you are ... it makes me proud. It makes me love you more.
      Tara: Every time I- even when I'm at my worst ... you always make me feel special. How do you do that?
      Willow: Magic.

    • Dawn: This place is so cool. 'Cept I have to wear this stupid stamp on my hand.
      Xander: That's to keep you from boozing it up.
      Dawn: Oh please. Only losers drink alcohol.

    • Dawn: See ya later.
      Buffy: Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, where do you think you're going?
      Dawn: I'm going to Melinda's for dinner.
      Buffy: Since when?
      Dawn: Nowish.
      Buffy: You can't. It's not safe for you to walk there.
      Dawn: It's across the street. What is the big deal, I'm just gonna go...
      Buffy: No. It's family night. And besides, Melinda's a bad influence. I don't like you hanging out with someone that ... short.
      Dawn: I am so glad you're moving back into the house. This is the source of my gladness.
      Buffy: (to Riley) She makes me crazy.
      Riley: That's kinda the word I was searching for.
      Buffy: What? She shouldn't be going over there.
      Riley: Yeah, a lot of young people nowadays are experimenting with shortness.

    • Buffy: You're a god. You're like the god of boyfriends.
      Riley: Nah, I just like it when you owe me favors.
      Buffy: Well, this earns you a big favor. There could be outfits.

    • Buffy: Your definition of narrow is impressively wide.
      Giles: Well, you didn't give me much to go on. She-she looks human, so the mug shots aren't any use, and, uh, You can't be more specific about what she's like?
      Buffy: She was kind of like Cordelia, actually. I'm pretty sure she dyes her hair.
      Giles: Ah, yes, that one, of course. Our work is done.

    • Anya: Thank you for coming. We value your patronage. Please come again for more purchases!
      Giles: Could we perhaps be a little less effusive, Anya? We 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 workin' 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.

    • Tara: (to Buffy about Glory) You learn her source, and we'll introduce her to her insect reflection. (Everybody gives her a weird look) Th-that was funny if you, um, studied Taglarin mythic rites and, um, are a complete dork.
      Riley: Then how come Xander didn't laugh?
      Xander: I don't know that Taglarin stuff.

    • Anya: (about Buffy) We just helped her move the stuff in a few days ago. (off Buffy's look) And it was fun!
      Giles: People help each other out, Anya. 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. (to Xander and Riley who are wrestling) You two, stop that.
      Riley: He started it!
      Xander: He called me a bad name. I think it was bad. It might have been Latin.
      Giles: Stop it, or you're going to break something.
      Buffy: Or I'm going to break something.

    • Glory: Oh god, please don't tell me I was fighting a vampire slayer! How unbelievably common. If I had friends and they heard about this...

    • Cousin Beth: Well, I hope you'll all be happy hanging out with a disgusting demon.
      Anya: Excuse me... what kind?
      Cousin Beth: What?
      Anya: What kind of demon is she? There's a lot of different kinds. Some are very, very evil, and some have been considered to be useful members of society.

    • Buffy: You want her, Mr. Maclay? You can go ahead and take her. You've just got to go through me.
      Mr. Maclay: What?
      Buffy: You heard me. You want to take Tara out of here against her will, you've got to come through me.
      Dawn: And me!
      Mr. Maclay: Is this a joke? I'm not going to be threatened by two little girls.
      Dawn: You don't want to mess with us.
      Buffy: (indicating Dawn) She's a hair-puller.
      Giles: And you're not just dealing with two little girls.
      Xander: You're dealing with all of us.
      Spike: Except me.
      Xander: Except Spike
      Spike: I don't care what happens.
      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?
      Buffy: We're family.

    • Giles: So, have you got any ideas?
      Xander: I'm thinking maybe scented candles or bath oils of some kind.
      Giles: And you are talking about what on earth?
      Xander: Tara's birthday, we're at a loss for presents
      Giles: You're in a magic shop and you can't think what to get Tara for her birthday... I believe you're both profoundly stupid.
      Xander: Well what should I get her, some lame ol' crystal ball?
      Giles: You bloody well better not, I've already got mine wrapped.

  • NOTES (10)


    • Buffy: It's a rat race.

      Rat race is a term frequently used to describe modern working conditions. The comparison being to rats used in experiments that are forced to race through mazes.

    • Buffy: I saw a great sweater at Bloomies but I kinda want me to have it.
      Bloomies is short for Bloomingdales, a major department store that opened in the 1860s in NY and is still going strong with stores all over the US.

    • Xander: Oh, that was a tangled web of lies, sweetie.
      Attributed to Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), a British writer, the full quote is: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!"

    • Buffy: (about Glory) So any breakthrough on the identity of Miss Congeniality?
      Miss Congeniality is an award given out at beauty pageants. It's voted upon by the contestants themselves and goes to the most friendly and sociable contestant. Usually, Miss Congeniality doesn't win the pageant.