I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to do a Recap Review of a Whedon favorite. My tweeps have spoken, and while a particular episode wasn’t mentioned, Buffy was. So I chose one of my favorites — and a happy one at that!
It’s true that most of my Buffy favorites are sad episodes: “Becoming,” “The Gift,” “The Body” (which was brilliant), “Passion,” “Innocence,” “Grave,” “Lie to Me” — ok, I better stop. But one of my top five episodes comes in season five, with the Tara-centric “Family.”
At this point, I’d say we feel a little like the rest of the Scooby gang. We’ve spent a lot of time with Tara, but she’s still not quite part of the group. And by the end of this episode, she is.
Tara’s character is really heartbreaking in this episode. Tara’s been shy since season four. She finally built up the confidence that allowed her to really interact with Willow and the others, despite the fact that she doesn’t feel 100% part of the group. But somehow, all that growth disappears the moment her father walks into that room.
And we quickly see why. He talks down to her and insists that she’s an evil being, that her witchcraft was part of her evil. Clearly, this is nothing new. It’s something she’s heard all her life.
This all comes to a head when we realize that his insistence that Tara is an evil demon is all folklore to keep the women in her family in their place. We should have known, after Cousin Beth was telling Tara that her poor father and brother had to do so much on her own without her. It’s all a bit of psychological abuse.
Which makes this all so much more interesting. Not only is there the end, where you find out where Tara really belongs (we’ll get to that), but think of the other female family member: Cousin Beth. This wasn’t only a major reveal to Tara. It was a big surprise for her, and while she digests the fact that her family had been holding her back, too, she didn’t have the people around her like Tara did to lean on. She turned to anger, knowing she could only go back to the family that she knew. But Tara…
I almost cry at the end of this episode every time I watch it, with the exception of the times that I do cry. The fact that the episode flips around. Despite Buffy’s furor at Tara for almost getting the gang — and especially Dawn — killed, she realized the force that was coming down on Tara. It wasn’t what she wanted; it was what she was being forced to do.
But it’s the lines that get to me:
We are her blood kin. Who the hell are you?
I love it. It’s so… It’s great. Gets me teary every time. And what’s more? That one smile at the end of the scene. Man, Joss sure knows what to do with a smile, doesn’t he?