Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 5, Episode 19: Tough LoveWritten by Rebecca Rand Kirshner; Directed by David Grossman
Okay, Bad Writing 101: Willow's argument with Tara comes out of nowhere and makes absolutely no sense. These are the sort of problems that plagued the final two seasons, especially Season 7: the writers know where they want a character to go, but they can't accomplish it convincingly so end up making them do things that are out of character. In this case, they need to separate Tara from Willow long enough for Glory to attack her, but was an argument about Willow's "lesbo street cred" the only way they could do it? Okay, I get that Tara's an insecure person, but that argument? Badly written and completely out of character. Which is odd, because, as I've said before, Kirshner usually does good dialogue.
On a side note, it occurs to me that the death of Tara in Season 6 and Willow's ensuing campaign of destruction are in fact nothing more than an exaggerated repeat of what happens in this episode. Here, Glory brain-sucks Tara and Willow goes after her with a bunch of pyrotechnics. Were the writers really that bereft of ideas in Season 6 that all they could do was take the exact same idea from the same episode number (Seeing Red is Season 6's 19th episode) and do it all over again with none of the subtleties?
Anyway, the second half of this episode is definitely better than the first. It essentially sets in motion the chain of events that will lead to the final confrontation with Glory and Buffy's death. For its final three years, each season of Buffy concluded with a drawn-out four-episode arc, and of the three, this is undoubtedly the best. It's not perfect, and it becomes a tad exhausting without any pit stops along the way, but the way that the impending doom is piled on is commendable.
Overall rating: 8/10.
Next time: Spiral.