"Tough Love"
Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner; directed by David Grossman

Buffy meets with one of her professors and apologizes for missing class. She explains that she’s dropping the class and withdrawing the semester so that she can take care of Dawn. At the hospital, Ben is having problems of his own - he’s late to work and is being fired because he hasn’t been to work for two weeks. In the locker room, Ben complains that Glory is taking everything away from him and tries to keep her from emerging, but to no avail. “I’m hungry,” Glory announces post-morph. Later, she takes a bubble bath in her apartment (with blindfolded minions standing by) and asks for more information on the Scoobies.

Buffy has learned that Dawn has been skipping school and confronts her in her principal’s office. At the Magic Box, Giles, Xander, Willow, and Anya discuss patriotism and capitalism, two of Anya’s newest interests. Buffy and Dawn arrive and Buffy tells Dawn to start her homework while she talks to Giles. In the training room, Buffy tells Giles that she doesn’t know what to do about Dawn. He tells her to put her foot down and she replies that he should do it. He tells her that she’s Dawn’s only family and that she needs to be a grownup. After some more pleading, Buffy prepares herself to set some boundaries. She goes back into the shop to find Xander, Willow, and Anya lying on the ground, forming a triangle to help Dawn with her homework. Buffy gets upset, thinking that they’re goofing off, and Willow tries to calm her down, but Buffy remains resigned to making Dawn take things seriously. At her apartment, Glory tells the minions that “it’s her” and sends them out to get the Key.

In their dorm room, Willow and Tara discuss Dawn and Tara defends Buffy’s behavior. She implies that Willow doesn’t know what Buffy is going through and worries that she has upset Willow. She asks if she acts like she knows more about the situation than Willow since she has lost her own mother. Willow says that Tara has more expertise on a number of subjects - losing one’s mother, being a lesbian, and witchcraft, to name a few. Tara tells her that she’s scared by how powerful Willow is getting with regards to witchcraft and Willow reacts negatively. Tara tries to change the subject by reminding her that they were going to a World Cultures fair, but Willow wants to know what Tara means. Tara admits that Willow is changing so much, she’s not sure what will happen. She also confesses that she thinks Willow is only experimenting with homosexuality and that she worries she won’t have a place in Willow’s life if or when she goes back to being straight. Willow leaves, telling Tara to have fun at the fair. Glory’s minions stake out the Summers’ house as Buffy tries to lay down the law by making a schedule for everything Dawn needs to do. Dawn reacts like a typical teenager, despite Buffy’s insistence that she needs discipline. Dawn tells her that she’s not real anyway, and Buffy finally tells her that if she doesn’t shape up, her guardianship can be taken away. Tara goes to the fair by herself but doesn’t have too much fun. Someone sits down next to her on a bench and, thinking it’s Willow, lets her take her hand. Unfortunately, it’s Glory.

At the Magic Shop, Giles tells Willow that she and Tara will move past their fight and work things out. He spots Slook, one of Glory’s minions, and drags him into the shop. Slook refuses to tell Giles anything, but Giles tells Willow and Anya to grab some twine so they can tie him up. As they turn away, they hear rustling; suddenly Slook starts crying and says he’ll tell them whatever they want to know. Anya asks what happened but Giles will only say that he changed his mind. Slook says that he was sent to keep an eye on the Scoobies while Glory went to get the Key. They realize that they need to call Buffy, but he tells them that they’ll be too late - Glory will already have “the witch.” Willow quickly determines that he’s talking about Tara and runs off to the fair. Glory begins squeezing Tara’s hand and warns her not to draw any attention to them. She figures out that Tara isn’t the Key, then says she’ll let her go if Tara tells her who the Key is. Tara doesn’t talk, so Glory moves in to suck her brain. Willow arrives and spots Glory and Tara together. She tries to do a spell to stop Glory but is too late - by the time she gets to Tara, Glory is gone and Tara’s brain has been sucked.

Willow and the Scoobies take Tara to the hospital, where a doctor says that she should spend the night. Buffy arrives late, having taken Dawn to Spike’s, and Willow admits to her that she’s scared. Spike assures Dawn that no one will hurt her, and she tells him that she’s afraid of herself - so much bad stuff has happened around her that she believes she must exist for an evil purpose. He tells her that he knows evil, and she can’t be evil. Willow reluctantly leaves Tara at the hospital for the night and decides that she needs to go after Glory. Buffy warns that she won’t be able to take her on, but Willow says that it’s not Buffy’s choice. Buffy convinces her not to go, but Willow later heads to the Magic Box, grabs a bunch of books, and flips through one called Darkest Magick. Glory tells her minions that she’s going to work her way through the Scoobies until she finds the Key. Suddenly, the apartment begins to shake and Willow floats inside, her eyes black. She binds Glory and starts to torture her. In Spike’s crypt, Dawn blames herself for what happened to Tara, but Buffy tells her it’s not her fault. Spike says that he’s not so sure Willow won’t go after Glory. Buffy realizes he’s right and takes off. Willow continues her magic show while Glory protects herself from harm. She gets the upper hand and is about to stab Willow when Buffy enters and starts to fight her. Willow binds Glory again and escapes with Buffy.

Buffy, Willow, Tara, and Dawn have a picnic in Willow and Tara’s room the next day. Willow says that there are times when Tara is almost the way she was before, and announces that she will take care of her. Suddenly, the wall smashes and Glory appears outside the room. Tara looks at Dawn and says, “The light! Oh, it’s so pure! Such pure green energy!” Glory smiles, knowing exactly what she’s talking about.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Don’t hold hands with Glory.

GRADE: B- It’s the beginning of the end, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be angst. Too much angst, come to think of it.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Ben: “There's an explanation for this. Which…I…can't exactly give you. I - can I just tell you it's not my fault?”
Doctor: “Sure. You can also tell me that the dog ate your homework, or maybe eating Twinkies made you do it, or…maybe, yeah, that there's really a wicked demonic creature living inside you that takes control of your body and forces you to do its bidding. Take responsibility for your actions, Ben!”

Buffy: “What about all the times I asked you how school was and you said ‘fine’?”
Dawn: “Well, it was! You didn't ask if I was in it when it was fine.”

Xander: “Old saying. ‘A watched customer never buys.’”
Anya: “They would if they were patriotic.”
Xander: “Okay, I'm goin' in. Patriotic?”
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 manner of speaking. You were born here - your mortal self.”
Anya: “Well, that's right, foreigner. So I've been reading a lot about the good ol' ‘us’ of A, embracing the extraordinarily precious ideology that's helped to shape and define it.”
Willow: “Democracy?”
Anya: “Capitalism. The free market depends on the profitable exchange of goods for currency. It's a system of symbiotic beauty apparently lost on these old people. 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.”
Willow: “You don't say.”

Tara: “Is that no spelled Y-E-S?”
Willow: “S-O-R-T of.”

“Well, I took Psych 101. I mean, I took it from an evil government scientist who was skewered by her Frankenstein-like creation before the final….” - Willow

Willow: “I don't think I can sleep without her.”
Anya: “You can sleep with me. Well, now, that came out a lot more lesbian than it sounded in my head.”

“Did anybody order an apocalypse?” - Glory


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