Family (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Willow and Tara use their powers to levitate off the dance floor
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 6
Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss Whedon
Featured music "I Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Melanie Doane
Production code 5ABB06
Original air date November 7, 2000
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"No Place Like Home"
Next →
"Fool for Love"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 5)
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Family" is the sixth episode of season 5 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon and is the only episode of the series to feature the character of Tara Maclay as the central figure of the narrative. This episode is also one of early acting works of multiple Academy Awards nominee Amy Adams.

Plot synopsis

The episode begins on the same night that previous episode ended. In Willow's dorm room, she and Tara enjoying each other's company: Tara tells Willow a story about a kitten, and then joins her in bed for a snuggle.

The same night, Buffy tells Giles the information that she discovered at the factory: that Dawn is the key, and that Glory is hell-bent on finding her. They decide to protect Dawn without telling others about it. Meanwhile, Glory easily frees herself from the collapsed factory rubble.

At the hospital, Ben enters the locker room. A moment later, Glory is there and captures a Lei-Ach demon, who tells her that Buffy is the Slayer. Glory sends it and its friends to kill her.

Buffy decides to leave on-campus accommodation and move back to the Summers house to be closer to her ailing mother. The gang assists with packing boxes, and Willow reminds everyone about Tara's upcoming 20th birthday. Later at the magic shop, Buffy and Xander struggle to come up with ideas for presents for Tara, coming to the realisation that they don't really know her very well. They similarly struggle to find information on Glory, since Buffy's best description that she is "kind of like Cordelia" proves too vague to be of use.

A young man comes into the Magic Box and disparages magic. He reveals himself as Tara's big brother, Donny, who has come to town with Tara's father and her cousin Beth for Tara's birthday. While Tara is clearly not thrilled at their presence, she agrees to have dinner with her family that evening.

Tara returns to her room to find her father there. He expresses disappointment that she has not quit magic and berates her for being out of reach for months. He reminds her (and reveals to the audience) that all women in the family show their demon selves after their 20th birthday, which is why her family has come for her. After he leaves, Willow returns and wants to repeat the demon location spell that Tara had secretly sabotaged previously. Tara fakes fatigue, so Willow returns to the magic shop. Tara secretly follows her and, from hiding, casts a spell to prevent her friends from seeing demonic manifestations of evil.

Meanwhile, Riley is drinking alone in Willy's old demon bar after another argument with Buffy about her isolationism. Sandy hits on him, but he recognizes her as a vampire.

In his crypt, Harmony tells Spike that the Lei-Ach demons have been summoned to kill Buffy. Spike, who had earlier been fantasizing about fighting Buffy while having sex with Harmony, leaves to help, although he tells Harmony that he is going to watch and enjoy her death.

Beth finds Tara, and derides her for being "selfish", leaving her father and brother to "do for themselves". Beth realizes that Tara has cast a spell on her friends, then leaves to find Tara's father to inform him what his daughter has done.

Three Lei-Ach demons arrive to attack Buffy, but because of Tara's spell they are invisible to the gang. They search for the Slayer and attack everyone in their path. Giles hides Dawn under a desk. Only Buffy manages to put up a decent fight. Spike arrives and fights one of the Lei-Achs, although being demon himself his entire scuffle is unseen by Buffy. Tara arrives, realizes her spell has gone awry, and breaks it. The demons can again be seen, and are quickly beaten.

Tara's family arrives. Her father explains that, because of demonic heritage, all of the women in their family turn evil when they become adults. Willow is visibly hurt that Tara has hidden this from her, and Tara tries to re-affirm her love for Willow. When Tara's family insists on taking her away against her wishes, all her friends make it clear they will fight to defend her, declaring that while the Maclays may be her blood kin, her friends are her real family.

Anya then asks Beth and Tara's father what kind of demon Tara is. Their refusal to give a straight answer (and Mr. Maclay's puzzled look) arouses Spike's suspicion, so he punches Tara in the nose, activating Spike's chip and proving that Tara is, in fact, human. Spike concludes that the legend of the Maclay women assuming their demonic heritages upon adulthood is just an old family myth maintained by the Maclay males to keep their women frightened and subordinate to them. Bolstered by the knowledge that she is fully human, Tara declares she will stay with her new family, and confidently tells her relatives to leave, which they do after a slight hesitation.

Riley arrives at the birthday party and kisses Buffy. Tara opens cheesy witch-related birthday presents from the gang, and everybody mingles. Tara and Willow embrace on the dance floor and begin to levitate.


  • Sandy, the vampire Riley was talking to in Willy's Place, was the girl Vampire Willow bit in Season Three's "Doppelgangland".[1]
  • It becomes clear why Tara botched the attempted "detection spell" in Season Four.[1]
  • Spike's crush for Buffy intensifies.[1]
  • After it is revealed that Tara cast a spell that put her friends in danger, Willow says, "She just did a spell that went wrong. It was just a mistake.", reminiscent of previous spells that have had unintended consequences (Amy's spell for Xander in Season 2's "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered". Willow's spell in "Something Blue" and foreshadowing Willow's own future mistakes with magic such as in "Tabula Rasa" (season 6) and then her turn toward dark magic later in Season 6 and subsequent redemption for her mistakes (Season 7).


  1. ^ a b c BBC episode guide

External links

  • "Family" on IMDb
  • "Family" at
  • "Family" at
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