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Tough Love

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 5, Episode 19
519 ToughLove
Air date May 1, 2001
Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by David Grossman
Episode Guide
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Emma Caulfield Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg Dawn
James Marsters Spike
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Clare Kramer Glory
Charlie Weber Ben
Troy T. Blendell Jinx
Anne Betancourt Principal Stevens
Leland Crooke Professor Lillian
Amber Benson Tara
Co Starring
Todd Duffey Murk
Alan Heintz Slook
Pat Skipper Doctor

"Tough Love" is the nineteenth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the ninety-seventh episode altogether. It was written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner and directed by David Grossman. It originally broadcast on May 1, 2001.

Under the mistaken impression that Tara is the Key, Glory attacks and brain-sucks her, leaving her completely insane, which puts her on the receiving end of an enraged Willow's wrath.


519 ToughLove1

Glory: What I think we have here is a failure for you to do your frickin' jobs.

Following recent events, Buffy has decided to drop out of college, notifying one of her professors about the decision. Although she regrets it, she feels that she has more important priorities at the moment. Ben finds himself fired from his job at the hospital because Glory has been monopolizing the human form they share, and he has been away from his job for two weeks. Glory takes a bath while she demands that her blindfolded minions tell her everything they know about the Key. Dawn and Buffy are called into Dawn's principal's office where Dawn's poor grades are discussed, as well as the fact that Dawn has been skipping school since their mother's death. At the Magic Box, Anya talks about patriotism and how money ties into that.

Buffy seeks Giles's advice about being Dawn's mother figure then takes her sister home, attempting an authoritative role with Dawn. Glory's minions provide her with enough information to conclude who the Key is and Glory leads the way to gather it. Tara and Willow discuss their relationship and Willow's powers as a witch, but the discussion ends up angering Willow when Tara says "it frightens me how powerful you are becoming," and then Willow accuses Tara of fearing that Willow's lesbianism is just an experimental phase.

519 ToughLove2

Willow: I'm really sorry that I didn't establish my lesbo street cred before I got into this relationship.

Buffy talks with Dawn about how Dawn's situation needs to improve in school or Buffy could possibly lose guardianship of Dawn. Depressed over her first major fight with Willow, Tara goes to a cultural fair, but finds herself sitting next to Glory on a park bench. Giles finds one of Glory's minions at the shop and questions him about Glory's plans, and the minion reveals that, as Tara is the newest member of the group, Glory believes that she is the key. Willow goes after Tara who is in Glory's grasp, but can't get to Tara before it's too late. Glory discovers that Tara isn't The Key, and offers to let her go if she reveals the key's identity. Protecting Dawn, Tara refuses, and Glory drains Tara's mind of sanity.

At the hospital, doctors look after Tara while Willow plans her vengeance against the evil god, Glory. Buffy arranges for Dawn to be kept safe by Spike in some underground caves while she takes care of the issues involving Tara. Buffy seemingly manages to convince Willow to abandon her revenge plans, telling her that attacking Glory would be potentially suicidal, but Willow goes to the magic shop to gather dangerous magic supplies in preparation for her attack on Glory.

Back at the caves, Spike (heavily bruised and limping, the remainder of his injuries caused by Glory's torture of him in "Intervention") and Dawn talk. Dawn tearfully blames herself for all of the harm that Glory has caused to the citizens of Sunnydale (particularly Tara and Spike), and believes herself to be evil and a "lightning rod for pain", while Spike tries to comfort her and convince her otherwise.

Buffy soon accompanies her, believing that she has managed to convince Willow not to attack Glory; however, a skeptical Spike tells her that an angered witch, especially one as powerful as Willow, is not so easily reasoned with, and he would have done the same thing if Glory had done that to his loved one. Dawn then asks Buffy what she would have done if she (Dawn) had been the one to get drained. Buffy realizes that the two are right and Willow is going after Glory, and quickly leaves to stop her friend from being killed by the hell-god...

519 ToughLove3

Willow: I owe you... pain!

At Glory's place, Willow makes an unexpected, but grand appearance, casting spells wildly, all in attempts to attack and destroy Glory. Although she causes Glory some pain (something no one else, not even Buffy, has been able to do), she is quickly defeated. Even at Glory's mercy, Willow cannot resist spitting right in the god's face in a show of pure spite, which leads to her nearly being killed. Luckily, Buffy shows up in time to stop it. Buffy and Glory battle ferociously, until one of Willow's force fields allows Willow and Buffy to escape.

The next day, Willow, Tara, Buffy and Dawn eat, with Willow and Dawn spoon-feeding applesauce to Tara, while discussing the responsibilities that Willow and Buffy have now to 'their' girls. Glory makes a surprise appearance, tearing out an entire wall. Tara, distressed, unwittingly reveals that Dawn is the key.


  • This episode is most notable for Willow's first blatantly violent, "dark" use of magic for personal reasons, complete with flashy special effects and "Dark Willow's" trademark black eyes. Willow goes after Glory not because it's the "right" thing to do, but for revenge.
  • Tara express her fear that Willow will leave her for a man.
  • Willow also lies to her friends, leading them to believe she won't go after Glory on her own, marking the first time Willow has felt the need to lie to her friends about her magic use, something that will be a recurring theme in Season Six.
  • Tara and Willow also have their most serious fight yet in this episode, related to Tara's unease at Willow's magic use, effectively setting up some of the next season's chief conflicts.
  • This is the first time that Glory is hurt by a member of the Scooby Gang; Willow's accomplishment in causing Glory pain is later remarked upon by Buffy as the first injury the Hellgod has received, and becomes important in the final battle against her.
  • Tara is brain-sucked by Glory, causing her to lose her mind. This will not be rectified until "The Gift".
  • This episode marks the last appearance of Glory's affectionate minion Jinx.
  • Glory learns that Dawn is the Key.
  • In a definite sign of Buffy's growing trust of (and lessening hostility towards) Spike, she arranges for him to watch over Dawn after Glory's attack on Tara, when she had earlier made it clear that he was to stay away from her and the Scoobies from now on.
  • Buffy struggles with being Dawn's authority figure (her mother, in a sense), and essentially depends upon Giles to encourage and indeed force her to act, a theme which will lead to Giles's eventual departure in Season Six.
  • Cordelia first mentions the Twinkie Defense in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight".
  • Dawn says "Who cares if a key gets an education anyway?". She already said "Blobs of energy don't need an education" in "Blood Ties".
  • Tara knows The Key's identity since "Blood Ties".
  • Buffy once again displays a growing ability to fight more evenly with Glory. This was last displayed in "Blood Ties". While she is unable to defeat her once more, something she will fail to do until "The Gift", Buffy is clearly adapting to fighting the Hellgod, blocking and avoiding her blows more often than getting hit by them and landing some semi-effective hits of her own. She later displays this adaptability with her later fights with Caleb in season 7, an enemy who nearly matches Glory's sheer strength.

Behind the Scenes

Deleted Scenes

  • Willow defends her use of magic in this line, there was cut due to length:
Willow: "But it's good-witch power, not bad-witch power. You know, Glenda-in-a-bubble power, not Margaret Hamilton-on-a-bicycle power."

Pop Culture References

  • When Dawn and Buffy enter The Magic Box early in the episode, Xander is reading an X-Men comic book. The issue, X-Men #109, is the last in that series before the death of Colossus - an event which later became pivotal to Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men.
Glory: "So, what I think we have here is a failure for you to do your frickin' jobs!"
  • Xander makes a little wordplay on Mozart's opera Don Giovanni: "It's Dawn Giovanni"
Willow: "Yeah, but not in a 'Miss Minchin's Select Seminary for Girls' way."
  • In the scene where Ben gets fired, his boss makes a reference to the infamous Twinkie defense.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors

  • In this episode, Anya refers to herself as an American and Giles states that her mortal self was born in the US. However, in Selfless, it is revealed that Anya is actually from Sweden (although she lost her vengeance powers when she was in the US, and that may be considered as the birth of her mortal self - the second one).

International titles

  • French: Magie noire (Black magic)
  • German: Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)



  • This episode is Willow-centric.


Willow - "But it's a whole night and I don't think I can sleep without her."
Anya - "You can sleep with me... Well, now, that came out a lot more lesbian that it sounded in my head."
Glory - "Did anybody order an apocalypse?"
Spike - "I'm a vampire. I know something about evil. You're not evil."
Dawn - "Maybe I'm not evil. But I don't think I can be good."
Spike - "Well, I'm not good, and I'm okay."
Willow - "Kali, Hera, Cronus , Chthonic... Air like nectar, thick as onyx... Cassiel by your second star... Hold mine victim as in tar... I owe you pain!"
Anya - "You know what else is un-American? French people."
Xander - "Man, words cannot express how much I hate this place."
Giles - "It's dreadful."
Anya - "It's like communism."
Glory - (preparing to stab Willow) "You know what they used to do to witches, lover? Crucify 'em!"
Buffy - (interrupts) "They used to bow down to gods. Things change!"

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