It's been a tough year for the Buffster. She's moving back home, thanks to Momma health concerns...and Dawn. Blech. But our Slayer's got good reason to be concerned. Just as a new Jigsaw-looking demon in town is about to pounce on the harried Doctor Ben -- people have been going insane left and right all over Sunnydale, and he's had to treat them all -- Glory kidnaps the demon and orders it to gather its crew to kill the Slayer.
If birthday shopping woes doesn't kill Buffy first, that is. The gang is stressed because Tara's birthday is fast approaching and they have no clue what to get her. She hasn't really been part of the Scoobies all that long. Tara herself feels isolated from the group, but that's the least of her problems. Her dad's in town and in tow he has Cousin Beth -- Amy Adams! -- and Brother Donny -- that paraplegic guy from 'Friday Night Lights'! -- and they want Tara to come back home.
The reason being that all the Maclay ladies have demon in them, which comes out on their 20th birthday. Tara desperately wants to stay in Sunnydale, but fears what the Scoobies will think if they learn the truth. So, the witchy-witch casts a spell to prevent the gang from seeing her inner demon.
Unfortunately, Tara doesn't realize how powerful she is. The spell prevents the Scoobies from seeing ANY demons. Epicly bad timing! Glory's new minions descend upon the Magic Box, and the gang finds themselves fighting foes they cannot see. Tara realizes her mistake and breaks the spell. Buffy kills the demons, and Tara's family bursts in, ready to drag her out by her ear. They really don't know who they're messing with. The Maclays are informed that if they want Tara, they have to get through the entire gang. Except Spike. He doesn't really care what happens.
With the bad guys defeated, or going back home to Buttfuck Nowhere, the gang properly celebrates Tara's birthday. She gets a crystal ball from Giles, a broomstick from Dawn, and a whole lot of love from Willow. As the two soulmates dance, they literally float. *Sigh, tear* But seriously, where are those birthday spankings?
* God, I love this season. One of the best stand up and cheer moments of the series has to be when the Scooby Gang sticks up for Tara to her shitty family. NOT just because it means Tara is officially part of the gang, -- where's her theme song credit, Joss? -- not just because I love underdog winning moments, but because it shows the gang working together as a unit in their NEW HOME! The Magic Box is the perfect headquarters. Just like the library, there's the odd douchey intruder -- cough, Donny -- but I feel like I have my show back, after the gang was wrenched apart in Season 4. Good show, Scoobs!
* An intact Scooby Gang is only half the puzzle to a perfect season The other half is a bitchin' villain. Oh Glory, I worship at thy feet. Like The Mayor, Glory has the ability to be hilarious and terrifying at the same time. We don't know exactly what she wants, other than to kill the Slayer. Reminds me of somebody that I used to know...
* Spike. Okay, I get the whole wanting to bone Buffy thing. Who doesn't? But does he have to turn into a MARSHMALLOW? He almost reminds me of... *shudder*
* RILEY! Oh welcome back, you manly masochist. I never thought Captain Cardboard would be the type to drown his sorrows. To quote my favourite hell goddess, 'how unbelievably common'. Kind of interesting how Riley picks a VAMPIRE bar -- where the hell was Willy? Was it to try and remain a connection to the underworld Buffy inhabits and Riley no longer does? Also, does the vamp chick Sandy look familiar? That's the same Sandy who Vampire Willow took a liking -- and a licking! -- to back in Season 3.
* I guess I should get to the birthday girl herself, Tara. The whole episode I just wanted to hug her. Still, like the Scooby Gang, we really didn't know much about this Willow-loving Wiccan. Now that we do, I agree with the redhead, Tara is AMAZING for having turned out the way she did. She is much more careful with her magic than Willow, so you know when Tara pulls out the dark stuff, it's for a damn good reason. If the Maclays are like THAT in public, I shudder to think how they behave behind closed doors.
* Which make me so drawn to Cousin Beth. The whole clan mistreats Tara, but Beth really seems to HATE her. I think it's because Beth has submitted to her station as woman=slave, whereas shy, sweet Tara has the strength to say 'no' to the family. Who, by the by, are idiots. To prevent Tara from entering a world of magic, they let her go to college in freaking SUNNYDALE? Derp, derp.
* It's time for this week's Fashion Slayer award, and I am under the spell of two very foxy witches. Tara AND Willow win for their hypnotizing flowery numbers they wear to Tara's birthday party.