Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 5 Episode 19

Tough Love

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 01, 2001 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
481 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

While Buffy tries to control a motherless Dawn and bring their lives back to some sort of normalcy, Tara is captured by Glory who is desperately trying to find the Key.

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  • A slow pace and an occasional bit of odd directing are the only things holding "Tough Love" back a bit.

    Otherwise, it's an episode filled with both small and huge character moments. Its title has some meaning that shows the tough situations of love and sacrifice for both Willow and Buffy. Tara gets badly hurt causing Willow to finally show us her full capacity for damage as a witch and Dawn is pouting over her situation as the Key, not understanding the full seriousness of the events around her. This episode was badly needed as it further the plot significantly as well as focusing on important character issues.

    We begin by seeing Buffy dropping out of university to take care of Dawn and deal with Glory. This is a very somber scene as it represents Buffy losing yet another tie to normal life--the things, as Spike claimed in "Fool for Love", that tie her this this world. We're building up to a massive emotional breakdown, which does happen in "Spiral". With that said, though, I feel that college never suited Buffy very well. Really, what's she going to gain from it right now? At least she was able to put in a full year and some change before dropping out. I definitely applaud Buffy for trying to juggle that job with school--personally, I don't think I could do it. She tells her instructor, and later Willow, that she hopes to enroll again next semester, "When I'm more myself We see her try in "Life Serial" and fail to fit back in. Buffy is never the same again after her mom's death. I'll talk about this change a lot more extensively once we get into the grim sixth season.

    There's two major things to take note of in this episode. The Buffy/Dawn interaction and the Willow/Tara interaction. I'll begin with Buffy and Dawn, who are coping but very visibly struggling to make it work without their mom. Dawn is skipping out on school and secretly stealing things which, after partially exposed by one of Dawn's teachers, puts Buffy's guardianship ability immediately on the spot and in question. In light of this information, Buffy has a private conversation with Giles. The result of this conversation is that Dawn isn't the only one who needs to grow up--Buffy does too as she's Dawn's only real family now.

    Giles tells her to be strict with Dawn and to get her to attend school because the consequences of not would be disasterous. We can see Buffy try with all her will to get Giles to be the parent, but he knows it must be direct family. It's interesting to note that this is the issue that causes Giles to leave Sunnydale in S6, thereby forcing Buffy to become an adult and deal with Dawn herself. It sucks that she's been very prematurely put on the spot in raising Dawn, but she's gotta do it or she loses the very person she's fighting Glory to protect. No one else but Giles seems to know that Buffy can lose custody of Dawn, so they aren't nearly as understanding of Buffy's situation.

    Buffy takes the advice from Giles and tries her best to get Dawn to listen, but instead Dawn just has a fit about how nothing in her life matters because she's not even a real person. Desparate, Buffy reveals to Dawn the nature of their situation which does scares her a bit. The pained reactions from Buffy while trying to fold some towels, a routine activity to help keep her mind off these thoughts, shows that she's really scared about it too. They just have a really shitty situation and it hurts me watch them struggling so much. Unfortunately, that's just how life can be at times.

    The other traumatic situation going on in this episode involves Willow and Tara. This has been an extremely happy, stable couple for almost a year now but there's still problems that surface here. It begins when Willow shows her frustration with everyone telling her that she "can't really know" what it's like to lose a mother and that her experiences and opinion don't matter. These concerns expose a deeper concern that she's behind everyone around her in life experiences. Tara rebuttles that Willow is doing plenty well and brings up witchcraft as an example of her doing too well, even going as far as saying she's frightened by how quickly Willow's power has grown. In addition to this, Tara mentions she's worried Willow might go back to "boys town" because of how her personality is changing around her magic use. This is a valid concern as we can see how far Willow goes with magic next season, but here it sparks a fight.

    With Tara alone and Willow probably regretting storming out on her, Glory takes advantage of mistaken identity and brain sucks poor Tara. When Willow finds out what happened she lies to Buffy about not going after Glory in a furious firestorm. Completely to character, Spike wonderfully points out, just as he did back in "Something Blue" during another magic incident, that Willow is in no way "over it" and is going to do something about it. This is a fantastic little piece of character continuity. But the real story is Willow... all Willow, and wow can she put on a show! Three years of careful development for this moment: finally getting to see her unleash her full, chilling wrath. Words cannot expres how satisfying this is to finally see and proves to not only be the highlight of this episode, but a highlight of this highlight filled season.

    "I... owe you pain!" As lightning superbly expells from a black-eyed Willow we see Glory actually in physical pain for the first time all season. Willow throws everything she's got at Glory: lightning, shattered glass, knives, and snakes. Unfortunately it all only scratches Glory and, like all of Willow's magical outbursts, it nearly gets her killed. Thankfully, this magical capper is only a launching point for Willow's addiction to power and the magic associated with that power. She's also making the transformation from Buffy's sidekick to Buffy's equal, in terms of usefulness in the field.

    Glory finally gets really worked up because of Willow's attack and chases right after them, catching them at the university on a cliffhanger ending that gets picked up at the beginning of "Spiral". Quite the ending! Although I must admit I was a bit annoyed that Tara only started drooling over Dawn right when Glory appears. However, the rest of that final scene is fantastic, with both Buffy and Willow coming to an understanding of their respective responsibilities. Willow says, "It's okay. I can do this. I'm gonna take care of her. Even if she never... she's my Buffy's experience with Dawn allows her to accurately respond, "I Willow recognizes this experience and says, "I know you Very sweet and another display of great writing.

    Overall I think this is an excellent episode that is slightly dragged down by a slow pace, which is forgiveable due to the amount of attention the characters get. Normally this would have gotten an 8.5, but Willow's awesome magical outburst on Glory boosted it up a notch. Glory finds out Dawn's the Key, Tara gets brain-sucked, Willow becomes Darth Rosenberg for a brief moment, and the season finale is set in motion. In the end? Great stuff!moreless
  • Willow, Buffy and their girls

    The Good;

    Good scenes between Buffy and Dawn, excellent battle between Willow and Glory

    The Bad;

    If you're a Tara fan it's pretty gut-wrenching

    Best line;

    Minion; "Begging your pardon and begging in general"

    Women good/men bad;

    Glory calls Tara a tramp


    Glory brainsucking Tara is awful although Clare Kramer gives a great performance describing the madness (which of course Glory experiences it too). Anya's racism against the French is also a bit much (and surely Anya is actually Swedish, yah?). Willow spits on Glory.

    Kinky dinky;

    Glory bathes in front of her minions but blindfolds them.

    Captain Subtext;

    Tara and Willow have their first fight. A lot of people disliked this but couples fight, straight or gay, everyone has arguments. Willow refers to lesbo-street cred, she tells Tara that she's the only woman she's fallen in love with (again, bi rather than gay?). Implying that Tara has had gay lovers before? Anya offers to let Willow sleep with her admitting this sounds a lot more lesbian than she intended. Glory gives lots of little hints of lesbianism when she's 'holding' Tara's hand. Lovely scene at the end where Buffy and Willow are with 'their girls', Will kissing Tara and Buffy stroking Dawn's hair.

    Guantanamo Bay;

    Giles tortures Glory's minion. With the same trick Angelus played on him?

    Scoobies to the ER;

    Poor Tara, brainsucked.

    Apocalypses; 5, Glory asks did anyone order one?

    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: 16

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1



    Buffy: 96 vamps, 32 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 6 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: 1vamp + a demon

    Riley; 18 vamps + 7 demons

    Buffybot; 1 vamp

    Spike; 1 vamp and 1/2 a demon

    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: 10

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

    Sunnydale deaths;


    Total number of scoobies: 6

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

    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

    Riley; 3; Buffy, Sandy and unnamed vampwhore

    Questions and observations;

    You feel so bad for Buffy having to quit school and so bad for Ben being fired. Glory likes aspects of this dimension, changing her tune (because of Ben's influence?). The scenes with Buffy and Dawn over Dawn's truancy are heartrending, the terror they feel at the prospect of losing each other. Can't Dawn go to Aunt Arlene? Once again Tara says she fears Will's magic. Buffy's 'Things change' line may be from Batman Returns? What do people want petrified hamsters for?

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • Tough Love

    Tough Love was perfect episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and one of my favorites to watch. This episode was very entertaining as Buffy has to deal with Dawn and start putting her foot down, and Glory is closer to finding the Key. Buffy's situation with Dawn and school is a relatable experience for some viewers. Willow and Tara have their first quarrel and when Tara goes off by herself she encounters Glory. Leaving Tara insane Glory continues her search while Willow decides to take matters into her own hands. Willow fighting Glory was one of my favorite scenes. Emotions ran high all over this episode, which added to its complexity. In the end Glory discovers the true Key, and I can't wait to watch what happens next!!!!!moreless
  • Season 5, Episode 19.

    Buffy tries to control Dawn after learning that she hasn't been going to school and that she can be taken away. Meanwhile, Buffy also drops out of college for the semester, and Glory thinks that Tara is the Key.

    I liked this episode! Definitely a good episode, for sure. Buffy looked good in this episode, and I like how she's civil with Spike now. I liked how Glory went after Tara, and Willow went after Glory. I loved seeing Willow and Glory fight. Then Buffy once again saved her at the last minute. Haha. Buffy made Glory laugh. I liked how they fought and then Buffy ran out with Willow. Amazing episode. Can't wait for the rest of the season. :)moreless
  • I..owe..you..PAIN!

    Wow! Season Five has been a corker so far and this episode is no exception. Alyson Hannigan is on fine form, but so is Amber Benson and Clare Kramer.

    There is a lot of foreshadowing in this episode - Tara and Willow fight about Willow's growing power (something that happens in season six); something terrible happens to Tara (something that happens in season six) and Willow goes bonkers over it (something that happens in season six also). Its good to see someone actually hurting Glory, even if its is temporarily. The ending is quite touching, but the nice talking is interrupted by Glory and the revelation that little Dawnie is the Key. Thats bad.moreless
Anne Betancourt

Anne Betancourt

Principal Stevens

Guest Star

Leland Crooke

Leland Crooke

Professor Lillian

Guest Star

Alan Heitz

Alan Heitz


Guest Star

Clare Kramer

Clare Kramer


Recurring Role

Charlie Weber

Charlie Weber


Recurring Role

Amber Benson

Amber Benson


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Anya: Yes. I've recently come to realize there's more to me than just being human. I'm also an American.
      Giles: Yes, I suppose you are, in a matter of speaking. You were born here - your mortal self.
      Nitpick: Not true. As we find out in the season 7 episode "Selfless" Anya was born as Aud in the year 860 in Sjornjost, a small Scandinavian village. I guess you could however interpret the lost of her powers and turning back to human as being "reborn".

    • Goofs: The glob of saliva that hits Glory's face is much more substantial than what Willow actually spat. Also, the spot where the spit should be appears and disappears between shots.

    • Goof: When Glory squeezes Tara's hand we clearly see her bleeding, but when the camera zooms out we don't see any blood on the bench.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Willow: (to Tara) Hear that baby? You're my always.

    • Buffy: You lied to me?
      Dawn: Didn't... lie... exactly.
      Buffy: Really? What about all the times I asked you how school was and you said "fine"?
      : Well, it was! (softly) You didn't ask if I was in it when it was fine.

    • Glory: (to Willow) Know what they used to do to witches, lover? Crucify 'em. (Buffy appears and grabs Glory's wrist)
      Buffy: They used to bow down to gods. (punches her) Things change.

    • Willow: Yeah, but it's a whole night. I don't think I could sleep without her.
      Anya: You can sleep with me... That came out a lot more lesbian than it did in my head.

    • Willow: (to Glory) I- owe- you- PAIN!!!

    • Glory: A girl like Buffy's got just so many friends, all I have to do is rip through them one by one until--(Ground starts shaking) Did somebody order an Apocalypse?

    • Anya: Look at 'em. Perusing the shelves, undressing the merchandise with their eyeballs. All ogle, no cash. It's not just annoying, it's un-American.
      Giles: Appalling. Almost as if they no longer think money can buy happiness.
      Anya: Totally un-American. Oh, and you know what else is un-American? French people.
      : You don't say.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Jinx, the main minion of Glory's, appears for the last time in this episode, inexplicably missing from subsequent episodes even though the writers spared his life in this ep from Ben's attack in the previous episode.

    • Although Leland Crooke only appears in this Buffy episode as "Professor Lillian," he returned in season five of Angel, in four episodes as "Archduke Sebassis."

    • We find out that the time between Ben changing into Glory and back can be undefined. Ben was fired from being an intern because Glory took hold of his body for 2 weeks.

    • From the end of this episode to "The Gift", all of the events are on the same day.


    • Glory: (demanding a drink from her minions) Mimosa.

      A Mimosa is a drink consisting of equal parts of champagne and orange juice.

    • Buffy: Early to bed, early to rise, balanced breakfast, hospital corners. It's a new beginning.

      Buffy's line is an adaptation of the popular aphorism found in Benjamin Franklin's (1706 - 1790) "Poor Richard's Almanac" that goes, "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Franklin is famous for his multi-layered talents and contribution to early colonial America. He was an author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, and printer.

      "Hospital corners" refers to a method of making beds with neatly folded corners. It's commonly used in hospitals (hence the name) and in the military.

    • Willow: Kali, Hera, Kronos, Tonic
      Air like nectar
      Thick as onyx
      Cassiel by your second star...
      Kali is the Hindu goddess of destruction and death. Hera is the Queen of the Greek gods and the wife and sister of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. Kronos was the previous king of the gods, dethroned by his son Zeus. Cassiel is the angel of temperance and good fortune.

    • Doctor Guy: I don't care if you ate too many Twinkies.

      In 1978 Dan White murdered San Fransisco mayor George Moscone and his gay assistant Harvey Milk for reasons that included homophobia and the fact that his position had just been eliminated. During his murder trial his attorney argued that White's excessive consumption of junk food and his disinterest in exercise was a sign of depression that lead to the murder. This is the stimulus for the "Twinkie Defense". White was found not guilty of murder but convicted for (the less serious offense) voluntary manslaughter. He later committed suicide. This was the first of many stunt legal defenses before O.J. and Johnny Cochran.

    • Willow: Yeah, but not in a 'Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Girls' way.
      In the children's book A Little Princess written by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Young Ladies is a Victorian school strictly ruled by Miss Minchin. The novel has been adapted for the big screen several times, most recently in 1995 starring Eleanor Bron as Miss Minchin.

    • Willow: I know what a Freudian slip is.
      Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian doctor who is considered to be the father of modern psychiatric medicine. He forged the idea that would eventually become psychoanalysis: the idea that neurotic behavior is motivated by unconscious desires that can be revealed through such things as dreams or slips of the tongue. In Freud's theory, a slip is the involuntary substitution of a word by another and would be indicative of the real opinion and feeling of the person who makes the mistake.

    • Xander: It's Dawn Giovanni and the Buffster.
      Xander's play on Dawn's name is a reference to Don Giovanni, the opera composed by Mozart which was first performed in Prague on 29th October 1787

    • Visual: Tara's mind suck venue
      Glory corners Tara at a fairground. Fairgrounds, of course, are often the location of mysteries in the classic cartoon series Scooby Doo, Where Are You! (and it's MANY spin-offs), of which BtVS feels so similar to at times that the Slayer and her friends are dubbed "The Scooby Gang".