I could have added a cap from the scene where Buffy reassures Dawn after Joyce says strange things (we know she recognizes Dawn as the Key in her moments of madness); it's one of the tenderest scenes between the two of them, beautifully played by both SMG and MT; and it's the sort of thing that gets completely forgotten when people think about Buffy's character.

On rewatch, I realized that this is a really good episode if not a great "razzle-dazzle" one. It's got everything, humor and drama and suspense intermingled beautifully-
Buffy nurturing both her mom and Dawn
Buffy crying (I melt every time SMG cries onscreen)
Buffy kicking ass;
Willow and Tara snuggling on a rooftop;
Xander making snarky comments about Riley not being around (before they lobotomized Xander temporarily in ITW);
Spike and Buffy working together as a team, him throwing her a knife, her accepting his help to get off the floor, etc.

I have a lot of love for this ep.
I've been sneakily having a little look around your LJ...

This episode is when Buffy becomes my Buffy. You talk elsewhere about feeling for Buffy when she's younger, but being able to feel with her in the later seasons. Last time I re-watched the show I realised that [for me at least] this episode was the watershed. It's the episode where Buffy becomes responsible for her mother; the one where she stops being a child.

*loves Buffy*
I've been sneakily having a little look around your LJ...

Oh please, look away! I've been reading your metas (read the one about the Kiss in EoD/Chosen today and pretty much nodded in agreement to everything); so whenever a Buffywriter I admire comments here, it's like getting feedback from a rock star.

This episode is when Buffy becomes my Buffy.
Indeed. I don't know if I can pinpoint an exact moment as precisely; I'd need to watch S5 again in full (not that I mind that at all.) The only thing that makes me hesitate is the whole "nice guy Riley turns into an abusive jerk" storyline (what, he and Buffy couldn't have just decided it didn't work out and part as friends? I know, it's TV, and it's Joss - why go for the kill when you can go for the pain; or better yet, go for both?) But better to think of the good stuff, right? And there's so much good (and painful) stuff that season.