"Family" is the sixth episode of the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is the eighty-fourth episode altogether. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it originally broadcast on November 7, 2000 on The WB network.
LOVE DOES CRAZY THINGS — Willow feels betrayed when Tara's family makes a surprise visit to Sunnydale for her birthday threatening to reveal a shocking secret that could endanger all of their lives. Meanwhile, Buffy and Giles secretly try to learn more about the new evil that is hunting her and her family.
Willow and Tara are on the bed in Willow's dorm room, with Tara reading spell books and Willow under the covers. Willow asks for a story and Tara tells her about a kitten. Willow tells Tara she is tired but Tara asks if she can keep the light on to study spells, telling Willow she just wants to catch up to her level. Willow convinces her to come to bed and the two snuggle.
Buffy tells Giles that Dawn is the Key that her new enemy is hell-bent on finding, and speaks of her struggle to come to terms with the fact that the majority of her memories of Dawn are false. They decide to protect Dawn without telling others about it. In order to be able to protect Dawn properly, Buffy moves out of the college dorm and returns to living at home, citing to her friends that the reason was her mom's recent health issues. As everyone helps her with moving her stuff out, Willow reminds everyone about Tara's birthday party.
At the hospital, Ben enters the locker room. A moment later, the woman that Buffy fought the previous evening is there and captures a Lei-Ach demon, who tells her that Buffy is the Slayer. She sends it and its friends to kill her.
The gang research Glory at the Magic Box, but come up with nothing as she looks human and they don't know much about her (including her name). Buffy and Xander admit that they do not really know much about Tara though they both agree that she is definitely "very nice." They wonder what kind of a present to get for Tara. Xander explains that he doesn't really know Tara; the only thing he knows that she likes is Willow, and "she already has one of those. Meanwhile, Spike fantasizes about fighting with Buffy while having sex with Harmony, all the while assuring her that he was only thinking of her the whole time."
Giles overhears their conversation and asks them how they could sit in a magic shop and not have a clue what to get Tara, who is a witch, for her birthday, finally concluding that they are "profoundly stupid." A young man comes into the Magic Box and disparages magic. He reveals himself as Tara's big brother, Donnie, who has come to town with her 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.
At the Summers house, Buffy returns home where Riley has been watching Dawn. As the two discuss how Buffy will return the favor (with talk of outfits), Dawn prepares to have dinner at a nearby friend's house. Buffy balks at this and refuses to allow Dawn to leave the house, and Dawn goes off in a huff. Riley tells Buffy she overreacted and doesn't understand why she's being so over-protective of Dawn. Buffy won't tell Riley the reason behind her behavior, and Riley leaves frustrated that Buffy is unwilling to trust him.
Tara returns to her room to find her father there. He expresses disappointment that she has not moved on from her interest and participation in magic and berates her for being out of reach for months. He tells her she is going home before her friends find out about her evil self. After he leaves, Willow returns and wants to repeat the demon locator spell that Tara had secretly sabotaged before. 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 her "demon side."
Meanwhile, Riley is drinking very heavily in Willy's Place after his argument with Buffy. Sandy hits on him, but he recognizes her as a vampire and tells her no. Harmony returns to the crypt and tells Spike that the demons have been summoned to kill Buffy. Spike leaves, saying he wants to catch a decent seat when they do.
Tara's cousin Beth finds her on UC Sunnydale campus. When Tara refuses to go home, her cousin derides her for being "a selfish bitch," leaving her father and brother to "do for themselves," revealing that Tara is expected to return home and essentially play the servant to her father and brother. Beth also realizes that Tara has cast a spell on her friends. She smugly tells Tara to tell her friends before she does, and Beth then leaves to find Tara's father to inform him what his daughter has done.
The 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 watches the fight for a few seconds, but finds himself unable to allow Buffy to be killed and instead helps fights the Lei-Achs, although being a demon himself, his entire scuffle is unseen by Buffy. Tara arrives, realizes her spell has gone awry, and quickly 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 Tara's father what kind of demon she is. His refusal to give a straight answer 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.
- Giles is the first Scooby Buffy tells about Dawn's identity (discovered in the previous episode, "No Place Like Home"). Joyce will discover about it in "Listening to Fear" and the remaining Scoobies will find out in "Blood Ties."
- It is established that Hank Summers "bailed" on his family and is now in Spain with his secretary. She'll be unable to contact him again in "Forever," but he'll be apparently back in contact with Dawn in "Bargaining, Part One."
- Buffy mentions having called her father when Joyce got sick, her sickness first hinted with a faint in "Out of My Mind."
- Buffy takes a semester off college to take care of her mother, but her own death will prevent her from applying for admittance on time ("As You Were").
- It becomes clear why Tara sabotaged Willow's demon locator spell in "Goodbye Iowa": to conceal what she believed to be her demon blood.
- Sandy, the vampire Riley talks to in Willy's Place, is the girl Vampire Willow bit in "Doppelgängland." He'll accept her offer in "Shadow."
- This is the last episode to feature Miss Kitty Fantastico. It would not be revealed what happened to the cat until "End of Days," in which it's mentioned that some incident with the cat and a crossbow occurred.
- This is the episode in which we learn Tara's surname: Maclay. Her father, older brother, and cousin are seen, while her late mother is mentioned in "Hush," "The Body," and "Intervention."
- Tara's grave, seen in "Help," gives her birthday as October 16, therefore three weeks before this episode airing.
- Buffy will use her comeback "We're family" once again, against Archaeus in Relationship Status: Complicated, Part Two.
- The gang is apparently drinking alcohol at the Bronze, but they don't turn 21 for another year. Buffy had been first seen drinking in "Beer Bad" and Willow in "Something Blue."
- Cadria (Only mentioned)
- Cordelia Chase (Only mentioned)
- Riley Finn
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Anya Jenkins
- Harmony Kendall
- Mr. Maclay
- Mrs. Maclay (Only mentioned)
- Donald Maclay
- Tara Maclay
- Graham Miller (Only mentioned)
- Miss Kitty Fantastico
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers
- Hank Summers (Only mentioned)
- Joyce Summers (Only mentioned)
- Benjamin Wilkinson
- Willy (Only mentioned)
- Unidentified bartender
- Unidentified intern
- Unidentified lunatic
Organizations and titles
- Spain (Only mentioned)
- Sunnydale, USA
Rituals and spells
- One Lei-Ach demon, killed by Spike.
- One Lei-Ach demon, head crushed by Buffy.
- "Baby," neck crushed on the stairs steps by Buffy.
Behind the scenes
- In the original script Joss Whedon had written this in the scene where the team is helping Buffy moving:
- Tara is in the closet (no jokes please).
- In the teaser, when Tara reaches out to turn off the bedside light it goes off before her hand gets to it.
- At 17:32, when the view cuts from an "over" of Buffy to a "two-shot" of her and Dawn, Buffy's arms jump from down at her sides to akimbo.
- At 33:22 when Willow is seen lifting a chair to smash the invisible Lei-Ach pinning Xander she is seen wearing heels. When the demon tosses her away seconds later at 33:28, she is now wearing ballet flats.
- Motor Ace — "American Shoes"
- My Vitriol — "Cemented Shoes"
- Yo La Tengo — "Tears Are In Your Eyes"
- Melanie Doane — "I Can't Keep My Eyes Off You"
- Thomas Wanker — original score
- Armenian: "Ընտանիք" (Family)
- Czech: "Rodina" (Family)
- Finnish: "Perhe" (Family)
- French: "Les Liens du Sang" (Blood Ties)
- German: "Familienbande" (Family Ties)
- Hungarian: "Család" (Family)
- Italian: "La famiglia" (The Family)
- Japanese: "家族" (Family)
- Polish: "Rodzina" (Family)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Família" (Family)
- Romanian: "Familie" (Family)
- Russian: "Семья" (Family)
- Spanish (Spain): "Familia" (Family)
- Spanish (Latin America): "La Familia" (The Family)
|Riley: "He started it."|
|Xander: "He called me a bad name. I think it was bad. It might've been Latin."|
|Tara: "You learn her source and, uh, we'll introduce her to her insect reflection. Um, that-that was funny if you, um, studied Taglarin mythic rites... and are a complete dork."|
|Riley: "Oh, then how come Xander didn't laugh?"|
|Xander: "I don't know that Taglarin stuff."|
|Giles: "You're in a magic shop, and you can't think what Tara would like. I believe you're both profoundly stupid."|
|Xander: "Well, we don't really know what kind of things witches like. What, are we gonna get her some cheesy crystal ball?"|
|Giles: "You bloody well better not. I've got mine already wrapped."|
|Spike: "That's just a family legend, am I right? Just a bit of spin to keep the ladies in line. Oh, you're a real piece of work. I like you."|
|Mr. Maclay: "This is insane. You people have no right to interfere with Tara's affairs. We are her blood kin! Who the hell are you?"|
|Buffy: "We're family."|