Tough Love (5x19)

The "Previously On" section tells us this episode will deal with the main arc of Glory and Dawn. It's nice to see that the final four episodes of the season will focus on this, as it has been building since the season premiere. The fact that Buffy is dropping out of college is not unbelievable. While her relationship with this particular teacher shown in the scene was completely off-camera. Her actions show her real priorities in protecting Dawn, but show her real personality in that she doesn't want to have to deal with it. Ben losing his job is well written, and again progressive his arc dealing with he and Glory apparently sharing the same body.

Act One

Glory's development moves along still. We again see that she is, for all intents and purposes, is insane. Buffy and Dawn's scene in the principal's office is good. It shows that Dawn doesn't want to have to deal with the things that tell her she is a real person. While a small thing, I thought that Xander reading "X-Men" in the Magic Box was so funny. Anya trying to be "American" is also hilarious ("You know what else isn't American? French people"). Xander's supportive nature with Buffy and Dawn is shown and well handled. Buffy trying to be a mother to Dawn is also done nicely. The scene between her and Giles shows that she does see her Watcher as a strong father figure. While Buffy actually being a mother to Dawn doesn't work out as well, it's nice to see her actually trying to do so. Willow standing up for Dawn is believable, and we finally get to see some of Buffy's bitterness towards her sister coming out ("It's not like a don't have a life. I have Dawn's life"). We get to see more on Glory's character, and how she truly only wants one thing, to go home.

Act Two

Willow and Tara's scene is nice. Willow's uncertainty is well handled, while I still find Tara to be a very interesting character. Their first fight is done nicely ("I'm sorry I didn't establish my lesbo street cred before getting into this relationship), and it lets us see deeper into both Willow and Tara's personalities. While Willow thinks everything is fine because she is in love, Tara will always be waiting for Oz to come back and take Willow away. I think this is the first time Willow truly realizes this. The Buffy and Dawn interaction is done well. We see that Dawn can't have a normal life, as much as she wants it. Buffy doesn't want to lose her sister, but doesn't know how to take care of her. Tara and Willow sitting alone is a very nice image. Glory showing up is somewhat expected, as she is looking for someone new is Buffy's group of friends. The scene between Willow and Giles is very well written. It's good to see some of Ripper coming out in Giles with Glory's captured minion (the script gives his name as Slook). The Glory and Tara scene is intense. It's good to see Tara's loyalty to Buffy and Dawn.

Act Three

Willow running through the fair looking for Tara is very nicely directed. The final scene of Glory and Tara is sad, and the score is very well placed in the background. Anya's line about Communism is funny ("Words cannot express how much I hate this place. And yet the same words I say when I hit my thumb with a hammer keep coming to mind." "It's dreadful." "It's like Communism"). We see that Willow has many friends to fall back on. The scene between Spike and Dawn is one that makes me wonder why this show is passed up for an Emmy every year. Both the acting talents of James Marsters and Michelle Tractenburg are shown in full color. The interaction and dialogue between these two characters is amazing and very well written. The fact that Dawn is scared about herself is believable. Willow seeking revenge is believable, but also expected. It shows her true love for Tara.

Act Four

Glory's insanity is again shown very well. Willow's power is unexpected, as we've only heard how powerful she is in previous episode. We've never actually seen what she can do, and it's good to see that she can hold her own and kick some ass, especially against a god. Willow is the only one besides Buffy who has been able to hurt Glory. As we cut to a scene between Buffy, Dawn, and Spike (which is very well written), we see that Spike has become a kind of voice of reason to both Buffy and Dawn ("Well, I would [go after Glory]. If it was someone I loved"). Willow kicking a lot of hellgod ass is very well directed. As the fight switches to Buffy and Glory, we again see the talents of the crew who puts the show together, especially the stunt people. The finale scene between Buffy, Dawn, Willow, and a de-brained Tara is very well written. We again see the talents of the actors on this show, especially Alyson Hannigan and, once again, Michelle Tractenburg. While some might not like the character of Dawn, you can't deny the talent put into the actress who portrays her. The show's producers promised the cliffhanger ending and they delivered in full.

Predictions and Conclusions

In my personal opinion, I think this is one of the best episodes this show has ever put out. While a bit light on the comedy side of things, it delivers excellent acting, writing, directing, scoring, and fight scenes. The final three episodes of the season should be terrific. While I'm in the demographic who likes that character of Tara and the relationship she has with Willow, it's nice to see a show where things actually happen to the characters we feel for. I like how the Glory arc is coming to an end after being with us the entire season. With all luck, this show will win some type of respectable award for it's work this season.