harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,
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harsens_rob

Buffy Review: Phases



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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 2, Episode 15

"Phases"

Written by: Rob Des Hotel & Dean Batali
DIR: Bruce Seth Green

Blurb: Buffy and her friends discover secrets about themselves as they battle a werewolf, its hunter and their own emotions.
  Edited to add a spoilers ahead warning, which I keep forgetting for some reason.




Scene 01: We open at Sunnydale High. But we quickly and mercifully stop watching random, irrelevent students walking around.

Our jump takes us to inside, where we pan across a trophy case, which we my recognize. Standing before it, bobbing back and forth is Adorable-Seth... I mean, Oz. Oz is before the trophy case.


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He's looking vaguely puzzled by one of the trophys. As we continue to pan, we can tell it is the trophy that Catherine is currently trapped within after that whole body-swap plot way back in "The Witch", season 1.

Willow comes in with a huge grin on her face at seeing him. Wills wonders what he's up to, and he mentions that the trophy's eyes are weird... they seem to follow you wherever you go... he likes it. And then, they just walk away....


Commentary: Poor Catherine. Yeah, she was evil, but c'mon... still trapped and no one puts it together even with her moving eyes. And also, I try so hard to be on Willow's side but then she walks in with her skirt/hat combo and I'm left questioning why she wants my eyes to bleed. Why, Willow, why?


Scene 02: Willow and Oz discuss their date to a movie the evening before (WILLOW DATED... and not a pretend one where it's just Xander). They both had a good time. Willow clearly is expecting a follow up date, but the invitation doesn't come and she left standing there a bit awkwardly. Thankfully Buffy arrives as a distraction before the moment can get painful. Oz is all grins... he likes her... he just didn't grab the hint that he was supposed to be saying something like "maybe we could do something this Friday night?"


Scene 03: Larry, well... eww. Larry comes up and tells Oz that he'd like to get him some of that Buffy/Willow action, if Oz knows what he means. Oz deadpans about the not-clever.

He next knocks books from a passing girl, so he can get all horn-doggy when she bends over to pick them up to the amusement of his dunderheaded friends.


Commentary: Yeah, yeah, I've watched Buffy before. I know about Larry. Hush, we're not there yet.


Larry wants to know all about Willow and Oz... specifically, how far Oz has gotten with her. Oz dopily grins at him like he's looking at somebody particularly stupid and isn't quite sure what to say. (And Seth. Oh, Seth, Seth, Seth... he makes me feel all giggly.)


Scene 04: Meanwhile, Willow is ranting at Buffy because her and Oz have gotten nowhere. Wills appreciates that Oz wants to move slowly with her, but she's ready for real smoochies.

Buffy suggests hints... Willow responds there has been anvils. Buffy tells her he'll come around, who could resist her Willowy charms for long, but Wills responds that at last count, everyone.

Willow puts her foot in her mouth, by complaining she doesn't want to be the only girl in school without a boyfriend. Oops. She quickly cops to being an idiot.

Buffy wants to put thoughts of Angel aside though and begs Wills for a Xan/Will/Buffy evening. Willow agrees and says she'll call Xander up at 1-800-I'm-dating-a-skanky-ho.

Buff gives her an amused "meeoow" and Willow is inordinately pleased with herself for rating a 'meow'. Willow cannot understand the Cordy/Xan attraction (right there with you, hon).


Scene 05: We get a hint later that evening, when we see Xander and Cordy in a hot make out session in her car. But, then, Xander breaks it up by complaining about Oz. He doesn't see what Willow sees in the guy and doesn't trust him with his best friend. This irritates Cordelia. But he continues.

Cordelia points out that they're at make-out point and Xander is constantly bringing up "poor defenseless Willow" and when it isn't her, it's "all powerful Buffy". Cordelia finally tells him to shut up, and restarts their kissing session.


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But... they're being espied upon by... uh... a... shaggy carpet? No. It's a werewolf. I think.


We gets our credits and kick-ass theme.


Scene 06: Back at the Cordy's Daddy's Car of Actiony Lips, Xan suddenly breaks up with Cord again... this time with the ol' "do you hear that" routine. Cordelia wonders snarkily if Willow is sending out a distress signal that only he can hear. They lean in to start again, but once again Xander is swearing he hears something. Cordy is pissed now, but that changes when a hairy, clawed arm punches through the convertible top.

They're able to shake the beast from the car and speed off after that bit where the girl drops her keys and has to fumble for them.


Scene 07: The following day, the gang has gathered around the car where Buffy inspects the roof. Xander is quite sure that it was a werewolf.

Giles joins them. At first they believe they'll have until the next month before any more wolfery can take place, but Willow points out that he night before wasn't the full moon. Tonight is... which means that whoever is their wild-man, he's not only impacted by the actual-full full moon. Giles has some werewolf lore to dig into.


Scene 08: We cut to gym class, where the teacher mentions that Sunnydale is becoming a more dangerous place all the time. Also, she mentions the full moon tends to bring out the crazies. For this reason, they're going to be going over basic self defense techniques.


Commentary: Interesting. I didn't catch this at the time, but when you take into account S3's "The Prom", it's yet another hint that Sunnydale's residents aren't quite as in the dark about the more unusual number of deaths/disappearances as you may think. They just don't quite get the supernatural aspects of it, yet.


Somehow, Cordy, Xander, Buffy, Willow, Oz and focused guest character Larry all share this period. Oz tucks Willow's tag in cutely from her hoodie, and Xander acts jealous and possessive over his Wills. Cordelia calls him out cattily for his obsession over Willow's dating life.

As the students check for their assigned partner, we find out Larry was mauled by a large, stray dog the week previously and had to get 39 stitches... oh, oh.

Oz also mentions his 'cousin Jordy' biting his finger, in response, which will actually come into play later... strangely enough.


Commentary: Yeah, the attempted misdirect of Larry as the werewolf never worked for me. It was too heavily anvil-ed. Even during the first watch, I suspected that they were setting up Larry, but that there would be a twist and he wouldn't be the wolf. So, I'd have to say that the writers went too far to lead us to him as our critter. If they hadn't of had his bite in such a publically seen place, I would have been less suspicious -- I didn't foresee who would be our 'bad guy' though.


So, Larry acts like a pig. Buffy points out she's in his group along with the put-upon Theresa. Willow yanks Buffy aside and warns her not to be too public in her super-fighting ability displays and to act more like a regular girl.


Commentary: I don't know if this part actually works, either. They're setting up a very mild joke here, but I'm not sure I buy Willow wanting Buffy to suppress her Slayerness. This bit might have actually been funnier if Cordelia had been given the line, and then the payoff in a bit. She'd be the more logical character to insist Buffy not get all superheroine in front of everybody... and she could have thrown in an aside about how her reputation had already been damaged by her being seen even talking to them, without Buffy doing her super-freak thing.


Scene 09: The instructor decides to start with a basic shoulder flip, should they find themselves attacked from behind. She positions Larry's arm around Buffy's body as if he's an attacker and, due to Willow, Buffy plays along that she's struggling to get him into a flip. Larry gives her attitude, in keeping with his being a horny, sexist teen boy.


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Of course, he then takes it much too far by grabbing a handful of her butt. She flips him easily... a bit harder than was strictly required. He had it coming, though.


Scene 10: Later, in the library, Giles is concluding a presentation on the moon's phases and its affects on Earth using globes. Buffy and Willow are looking bored stiff. Xan breaks things up with a joke of it all leading to the invention of the moon pie... which Giles ACTUALLY FINDS FUNNY?! Is he the werewolf? Is Giles a werewolf finding bad moon jokes particularly funny? Is Buffy going to have to work a ritual to suppress his moon-related joke vulnerabilities... and the wolf too, I suppose?

Even Buffy and Willow are forced to regard Rupert strangely, what with his uncharacteristic mirth at Xander's jokey interruptions.

After Giles catches their glances at him, he returns to business and we find out that the werewolf is impacted by the full moon three nights out of the month. Xander suggests it is time to bring out the silver bullets, but Giles insists not. He (and we have to assume by extension the Council at this point in Giles' development, which is an interesting shading to that organization that we'll pretty much lose) tells Buffy that the wolf is basically human and the person may have no idea that they are a monster around the full moon. He shares that the werewolf will be operating on instinct only, and have no human consciousness which implies that there won't be any memories afterward.

Buffy vows to bring 'em back alive.


Commentary: I brought up the Council here, because I like them better as the ruthless, immoral, but ultimately "good" world-savers they were positioned as in S1. By S3, their morality has become much, much more questionable... verging not only on immoral, but actively murderous and then by S5 they're so utterly ineffective and incompetent that you have to wonder how they got anything done at all before Buffy stood up to them and took over the demon-fighting activities without their interference.

I like the earlier presentation of the Watchers as allies that we can't quite trust because of their 'everything's-black-or-white' code, rather than what they'll devolve into as they're conflicts with Buffy's style escalate.



Scene 11: That night, with the actual full moon out, Buffy and Giles go hunting. They're hanging out a the local make-out point. Giles rendezvous with Buffy to ask if she's spotted anything, and is forced to break out the 'flat look' when she goes on about who-she-saw-making-out-with-whom, which 'natch, he doesn't care about.


Commentary: What really makes the moment funny though, is that they stretch it out about two seconds too long, so that Buffy kinda stands there waiting for a more Willow-like response of surprise, which isn't forthcoming. This episode is really made up of men-being-pigs and tiny, but amusing comedic moments. In fact, I'd say that the small character interaction moments lift what would be a relatively dull take on 'one of the classics'. That and the twist of the werewolf's true identity, of course.


Giles suggests knocking on a few windows to inquire if anyone has seen anything, but Buffy wisely shoots this idea down.


Scene 12: They separate again, and Buffy heads off into deeper woods. She steps into a net trap and gets herself hoisted into the air!

This is followed up by some strange man coming out of the surrounding woods, and Buffy staring into the barrel of a shotgun!


Scene 13: Buffy's shouts for Giles, who is also then held at gunpoint. The new guy introduces himself as Cain and he wants to know what the hell they're doing out there. Cain releases Buffy, but then makes extremely icky comments about Giles and Buffy being out on Lovers' Lane together. After Buffy clears that up, by sharing that they're out hunting werewolves, Cain makes some sexist assumptions about Buffy's ability (and erroneously judges Giles by his library-wear for that matter). But Cain is also obviously out hunting for wolf, as is shown by his collar of teeth around his neck.


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Commentary: And, in keeping with my BTVS-AtS/Supernatural crossover obsession, just let me point out how Cain can easily be used as as a common point of reference for the two series. Y'know, if any of you haven't joined me yet there. And, for those who haven't given SPN a try yet, I'd recommend S1's "Pilot" (for the entire premise of the series and a really good pilot episode, "Faith" (it guest stars Darla, and is a strong episode in its own right) and then "Dead Man's Blood", "Salvation" and "Devil's Trap" which answers most of the "where is John, where is John, why isn't dad calling us" stuff that is a large part of the Pilot.


Cain is not bothered, as is Buffy and Giles, about the wolf being a person when there isn't a moon. He's hunting them for sport, mostly, although their pelts are very valuable in Sri Lanka. It is heavily intimated that if you kill a werewolf in the Buffyverse, they don't return to human as is the general myth, although this gets retroactively changed in Angel the Series, when they state outright that a werewolf killed is a werewolf human-looking.

He also talks too much, telling Buffy what to look for as far as hanging out places the wolf will be attracted to.


Scene 14: We join Theresa walking home from wherever... study-date, library that isn't the school's... she's got notebooks with her. She hears rustling sounds, and we naturally are being led to believe it is Larry the Wolf, so it would make sense that she's being stalked (even though - slight story logic issue - we were just given a lecture on how the werewolf will be found where there are sexual pheremones flying around... hmmm..., except not because....).

It turns out, though, that Theresa's stalker isn't a werewolf, though it is just as bad... Angel. Newly-bad Angel. Angelus, before we really knew what that meant.

"Angel" plays protector and offers to walk her home... specifically, when he realizes that she knows Buffy (everyone it seems is a one-episode friend to a Scooby). This cannot end well for Theresa, alas.


Scene 15: We then hop on over to The Bronze, where we eat up some time with another musical guest. We focus on Cordelia who is complaining to somebody that Xander is always going on about Buffy and Willow, like she doesn't even exist. She slumps back in her seat, and we find she's been complaining TO Willow (yes, complaining about Willow in the third person to Willow... heheheheh). Willow, with a sardonic trace, mentions she sometimes feels like she doesn't exist too.

Willow and Cordelia bond over guy-trouble.

This is broken up by the sudden drop of the werewolf from the mezzanine above.


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Commentary: I have to call bullshit. Okay, it was a nice jump scare... but that loft above them is NEVER empty. No way lots of somebodies didn't see this thing and start the screamfest already.


Obviously, there is panic in The Bronze as the werewolf tries to settle on a target.


Commentary: I like this bit, just because it's reflective (I don't know if it was just dramatic, or deliberate) of wolves in trying to target the weakest of a herd. In addition, I love - in a kinda twist on fridge logic - kinda way, how there is instant vacating of The Bronze by kids before most of them would even see what is going on. One would think, in Sunnydale, that the stragglers and gawkers would be quickly weeded out... I find that kind of amusing, in a dark and twisty way.

Next, since I've included a pic of the werewolf in close up here, we need to talk about it. Well, actually we need to talk about the costume representing the werewolf. It gets a LOT of crap for being... well... crap. I can't really deny this, when the camera insists on lingering on its immobile face. In quick flashes though, it does the job nicely in looking feral and vicious. Alas, there is a director-fail by not keeping it in quick-flashes.

When next we see a werewolf, it will be an actor on all fours in a shaggy outfit. I find this WORSE, not better. I'd prefer the costume in this episode over the other easily, not only because it frankly looks much more scary, but also because I find the tall, imposing werewolf (ala The Howling) more viscerally horrifying than the all fours werewolf (ala An American Werewolf in London, though that is one cool monster), that we'll be reverting to.

But also, it creates continuity issues between this version of the Wolf and the following versions, when the identity of the werewolf's human form is the same person (which is why I'm not talking about the actor's identity here... we don't know who the wolf is at this point, even though we all do because we've seen the episode already). Unfortunately, not only does this create an internal inconsistency in the way werewolves look, but when we get to Angel the Series, they revert back to this form of costuming with Nina, so there is also cross-series inconsistency! (I spent way too long trying to isolate a decent picture of Nina-wolf, and the closest I came is this Google search result, so a half assed link is all I can provide... trying to save one from DVD was just frustrating... they learned a lot about keeping her in deep shadow and quick cuts.)

Kinda like with the awful, awful CGI and puppet-headed snakes, I kinda wish they'd just left werewolves for the S8 comic future. I prefer the humanoid-wolf over other versions.



Oz_2   Oz 2.0 ... this is better?


S8_werewolves  I'll take my werewolves like these, thanks.


Scene 16: Buffy arrives with Giles just as their is panic in the streets. Willow points out to Buffy where the werewolf is, though it is pretty clear already.


Scene 17: In The Bronze, Buffy confronts the werewolf with a length of chain. She gets flipped when she tries to hold onto it, and the werewolf takes the opportunity to jump through a window and race down the alleyway.


Scene 18: Later, also making his way to The Bronze, Cain berates her for letting the creature escape. Not only is Cain sexist toward Buffy, but he is downright insulting to the Giles/Buffy team in general. He's pissed that they're interfering in his machismo and his capture and killing of the Wolf.

Cain makes a point here of telling Buffy that anyone who dies because of the werewolf will now be on her head for not killing it, rather than playing around with trying to capture the beast. Buffy pointedly tells him she lives with that sort of thing everyday.


Commentary: I love this line, and I like the way SMG delivers it. We can infer she may be directly referencing Angel/Angelus, but I think she's more making a general statement about all of the supernatural activity around town claiming victims, as she's only one person. But, this will really hit home to her later when Theresa is found. It really plays on Buffy's insecurities that we'll see crop over repeatedly that with her comfort of being The Slayer, she's just not good enough or able to do enough. No wonder the Slayers end up wanting it over and done with (according to Spike in S5).


Scene 19: We skip back to the werewolf, where it follows a trail of blood down an alley. It finds Theresa's body... and Angelus. They share posturing growls at one another. Angelus, his work done, moves off leaving Theresa's remains to the werewolf.


Scene 20: Later, back in the forests, Buffy is still out hunting. She returns to Giles' car to find him missing and panics, dashing to his automobile and calling for him. It's all okay though, he was just napping in the front seat waiting for her.

As Buffy and Giles sit, her bantering at him for falling asleep, he mentions it will be light soon and they may as well head home. But, Buffy interrupts him as a convenient radio report (and we heard no evidence the radio was even on) confirms that Theresa has been found dead and apparently is being tied to the string of 'animal attacks'. Buffy is filled with guilt, while Giles is determined.


Commentary: The set up for this scene is actually reminds be strongly of Buffy's guilt and Giles' understanding in the last episode, "Innocence". This does not help the episode any, I have to say. Surprise/Innocence was such a powerful duo-epidose, that they really shouldn't be reflecting on it with this relatively only-okay story.


Giles tells her that they'll have another night to stop him or her, but the werewolf won't be a werewolf much longer that evening (which actually is little comfort, since you could say that about the fact they only have one night left to find the Wolf, before they'll have more deaths on their hands next month). This leads to:


Scene 21: Daybreak. We slow pan to a werewolf's foot, with the beast's dangly bits safely hidden behind a rock, as it transforms back to human.


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It IS OZ! OZ IS A WEREWOLF!


Commentary: And, does the color of his body hair represent that Oz is actually a light blonde, when he isn't dyeing his hair a variety of colors?


Oz wakes up in the middle of the woods, naked (which damn it, this isn't cable so we see nothing) with a rather undramatic, "Huh".


Scene 22: Later, at Oz' rather large house, he is speaking to his aunt about the bite his cousin gave him. He asks whether his little cousin happens to be a werewolf. He is.

And, apparently, Oz' low key/nuthin' fazes me personality trait runs in the family.


Commentary: This actually raises some fridge-logic issues, which I've discussed before, so won't re-interate here. You can follow the link, if interested.


This is obviously a blow to Oz, as we can see him thinking over the ramifications...


Scene 23: ... right into later at school, while in the hallway. In fact, we'll see this is one of the few times that Oz' reserve is cracked. He's very clearly upset and feeling isolated and scared in his walk around all of his fellow students.

Oz stops in the hallway, where he's ended up outside the library.


Scene 24: When he enters, with obvious intent to reveal his predicament, he finds Buffy berating herself for not following Cain's advice to kill it. Oz panics a bit on finding out the werewolf was confronted the night before, but is relieved that the Scoobies weren't hurt... until he receives the news that Theresa was killed. Buffy vows to inflict pain.

Meanwhile, Xander states that there is a human werewolf out there laughing at them all and decides he needs to figure out who it is. Unfortunately, Xan reveals a bit too much about the "uncontrollable urges for fresh meat" and Buffy points out that he told them all that he didn't remember anything about being the Hyena-possessed dude.

Xander quickly distracts from that revelation by trying to "get into the werewolf's head" ... by acting really embarassingly. He decides Larry is the perfect werewolf-personalitied guy. He resolves to go talk to him and see if he can come up with something more concrete to prove the jerk-jock is their shapeshifter.

Oz meanwhile is frustrated caught between fear and wanting to admit himself as the undeliberate predator in their midst. Giles issues marching orders. Willow tries to recruit Oz into helping her research, but he declines and rushes out, leaving her feel rejected (especially because of their 'stuck in neutral' relationship that she's been complaining about already).


Scene 25: Xander confronts Larry in the locker room (but apparently having Larry be partially undressed was a little too homoerotic under the circumstances, because he's fully decked out right up to a full sweater). He tries to lead him into admitting that he's a werewolf by roundabout talking about his time as the possessed Hyena-boy.

Things seem to be going okay, until Larry throws a swerve ball at Xander by admitting he's actually been gay this whole time. And now, he feels so much better knowing that Xan has gone through the same feelings... uh, wait, that wasn't right.

Xan has a bit of straight-boy panic, but Larry is actually feeling much better about himself after their talk.


Scene 26: Back in the library, Buffy asks Willow if she's found any other suspects besides Larry for their wolf. Willow says yes and starts a litany of 'evidence', but it turns out she's talking about Buffy herself.

She and Wills talk about her and Oz and Buffy councils Willow to stop waiting for him to tell her what he wants and just make the first move, already. (Welcome to the Hellmouth, everyone... WTTH... don't follow Buffy's 'seize the day' advice.)


Scene 27: Xan rejoins them and Willow takes her leave to join Cordy to go over a history assignment. Xan isn't exactly swell with the two of them hanging out. Buffy asks about Xander and Larry's chat, which causes some more gay-panicky feelings but Xan gets across in his overreacting way that Larry isn't the Wolf. Buffy laments the lack of real suspects now.

Xan tries to lift her spirits, but Buffy brings up how little help she was to Theresa. As they speak, Buffy realizes that the reports about her death didn't actually mention her being mauled (except for the news radio guy stating it was related to the other 'animal attacks'... what other 'reports' is she referring to).


Commentary: This story point loses its way, here, because the plot requires Buffy to realize that Theresa wasn't mauled. But, there isn't any way to realize that except by referring to vague reports. However, if these reports were what the Scoobies would ordinarily rely on... the police, the coroner, crime scene photos, etc... then Buffy should already know that she wasn't mauled. It shouldn't have been a question that the werewolf wasn't responsible. Now, I had thought that the werewolf had snacked on her after the fact, which is why they bothered having the whole scene where he came across her body and would have disguised her true cause of death (Angelus being in that scene was still entirely unnecessary, though).

But, if that were so, then the 'reports' would definitely have mentioned the mauling - even if it wasn't known it was post-mortem until after a proper autopsy. Which is exactly what should have happened, and seems like what was meant, before we reached this point in the story.

This would have played better if the gang didn't know that Theresa was killed by a vampire until Xander and Buffy come to view her and she sits up in her coffin. It doesn't really impact anything for them to suspect Theresa's actual fate this early and then to go to the funeral parlor to check it out. It doesn't lead them to Oz or another false suspect in any way. The revelation is just sort of there and then they go to the funeral parlor, confirm it and then are attacked and that's it.



Scene 28: Xander and Buffy are in the parlor, and as mentioned above, confirm the vampire marks on Theresa's neck.


Commentary: I also like the make-up effect on Theresa's neck. Notice that Angelus didn't just bite her with his fangs. He actually bit into her hard enough to leave a very clear impression of his human teeth between the fangs. This is actually an early warning to us, mostly unrealized I'd bet, of Angelus' sadistic bent which we'll finally grasp in "Passion".


As also mentioned, Theresa sits up, jumps from the coffin and attacks Buffy and Xan. Buffy quickly has Theresa on the ground, but hesitates in shock when the vampire reports that Angel sends her his love. This allows Theresa to get the upper hand, but Xander steps in with a staking.

Both of them are left shaken by Angel's involvement in Theresa's death and Buffy throws herself into Xander's arms. There is a very brief moment of sexual tension between the two of them, but then Buffy leaves the embrace and marches out. Thankfully, they don't come this close again, until Buffy attempts to short-circuit he and Dawnie in S8.


Scene 29: We rejoin Cain, who is in his van in the woods. He's melting down silver into bullets to shoot who we now know is Oz (and you'd think this is something you'd have done ahead of time long before you actually started hunting on night one).


Commentary: Pointless scene. And why does the melted silver look more like mercury? Does silver really look like that and pours so completely when its melted?


Scene 30: With the moonrise, Oz is at home where he has procurred a set of manacles and chains. His attempt to restrain himself is interrupted by the bad timing of Willow.

Oz tries to get Willow to leave, but she's got a head of steam now over confronting his standoffishness and her confusion and she's not about to be put off. Oz tries to explain that he's going through some things at the moment, but Wills yells at him that she's going through changes, too. She notices the chains on the dining room table, which she does find a bit odd. She asks about this. But, Oz is starting to react with pain because y'know, he's going through those changes he spoke about. He insists Willow leave while trying to get to the front door to escort her out, but he ends up falling to the ground, with Willow still in the dining room wondering what the hell she just got involved in.

She finds out pretty quickly. With a screech she runs for the back door, with Oz-Wolf on her trail.


Scene 31: Willow runs off down the street, but see the werewolf tracking behind her. She cuts across a yard and hops over a fence, but the Wolf is very close and she knows she isn't going to get far. She takes care of that with a trash can to the wolf's face (Hah! That was cool!).

In the meantime, Cain is driving the neighborhood... it just so happens. He hears the wolf howl close by and closes in on him.


Scene 32: In the meantime, at the library, Buffy prepares to go out again. Giles has gotten ahold of a tranq gun and is assembling it for her. She tells Giles about Theresa's real death, but cuts him off when he tries to show the sympathy, stating they'll have a good cry after the werewolf issue is resolved.


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Scene 33: Alas, this isn't coming soon enough for Willow. She's ended up in a copse of woods. Unfortunately, the Wolf hasn't given up on her (probably drawn by her hideous yellow jumper). When she trips and falls, it leaves her in dire straits.

Oz jumps on her and rakes her face, then tears into her throat and she's mauled to death and half eaten. No, no wait. That doesn't happen. Instead, Oz-Wolf sort of stares at her menacingly, until he is distracted by something else and wanders off, allowing her to get up and run away.


Scene 34: In the library, Buffy is wondering how they're going to find the Wolf so that they can shoot it. Willow rushes in, exclaiming that it's Oz they want. She spots the gun and pleads that they not kill him, but Buffy assures her that they won't hurt him.


Scene 35: Back in the woods, we see what saved Willow's life. Refreshingly, it wasn't true love, but a hunk o' raw meat. It's, of course, Cain. He's lined the werewolf up in his rifle's sights and is getting ready to blast Oz with his silver bullets.

Buffy stops this with a well aimed kick, and he fires off into the forest. It takes her little effort to snatch the gun from his grip and butt him across the jaw with it, but this has drawn Oz' attention, and now he attacks her.


Commentary: One thing not clarified here is if scratching can also infect someone with werewolfism. Oz asks earlier if anyone was bitten or scratched, as if he's worried about that, which may be something that his Aunt shared. But, Oz was also bit, so that is his source. Nina Ash was also bitten in Angel (the series) during her attack. But, Buffy here seems very careful not to get raked by the claws (which, y'know, is normal... cause their claws), so it seems unclear at this stage whether they were going to go with the 'even a claw mark can infect someone' or not. Another thing that seems a bit unresolved (or ignored) is how Jordy could have infected cousin Oz with his bite, presumably while human while Oz and Willow seem wholly unconcerned about her being infected during their heavy kissing... and later more. It's a bit of clumsy plotting here since their making a semi-regular ongoing character a werewolf and Willow's boyfriend, but didn't really think through the consequences of this decision when adding Oz' backstory.


Oz-Wolf attacks Buffy and she uses the rifle crossways to ward him off. Giles tries to line up a shot, but Buffy gets turned around during their fight right into the shot. She gets shoved by Oz-Wolf and ends up in a heap with Giles and Willow.

As everyone is trying to get their feet under them again, the werewolf lunges. Willow manages to grab the tranq rifle and fires off a dart, striking Oz right in the chest. He goes down. She whimpers to Giles over shooting Oz-Wolf, but he's snoring away, so he'll be fine.

In the meantime Cain has recovered, looking remarkably unmarked for somebody who took a rifle to the face. He complains that the town is overrun by monsters because no one there is man enough to actually kill them. Buffy has had more than enough of him, and I don't blame her.


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She gets his attention and bends his rifle barrel with her bare hands. She strongly suggests that he do let the door hit him in the ass on his way out of town. They share a stare down, but he's got the message.


Scene 36: The following day, Xander is wondering how they're supposed to act when seeing him, due to the weirdness. Buffy sympathizes it'll be weird for him, too and they should all just try to act normal. Of course, Buffy is talking about Oz while Xander is obsessing on Larry.

A Larry who has miraculously turned into a swell guy, now that he doesn't have to maintain his macho-front to hide his gayness from himself. 'Cause that's the way it works. We don't have jerks in the gay community. Uh-Huh.

Larry spots Xander standing by the candy machine with Buffy and thanks him for all that he did for him. Buffy is, of course, completely mystified by this turn in character. Xan is just embarassed and wishing they could forget about the whole thing and never mention it again.

After Larry gets on his way, leaving confusion in his wake, Buffy and Xander discuss Willow and Oz. Xan shares that she's not safe with him now, but Buffy pointedly tells him that Oz seems the loyal type and besides it isn't going to be up to him on what Will does as far as continuing a relationship.

In other words, Shut Up Xander.


Scene 37: Out in the quad, Willow in fact decides to speak with Oz about everything. Oz shares that he's spoken to Giles about what the whole deal is and makes reference to both Giles' love of talking a lot and his use of props, reflecting back on Giles' first apparently long presentation that we only heard a part of.

They share cute apologies, she for shooting him and he for trying to eat her whole. They have a discussion about their being together and Willow points out that three days out of the month, she's not very nice to be around either. They decide to keep seeing one another. I rejoice.


sc_37


The Good: The callback to The Witch is pretty amusing.

Seth Green as Oz. He's adorable.

I'm glad they kept the Willow/Oz pairing because Aly and Seth are adorkable-adorable together and I like the effect that this relationship has on Wills as a character.


The Bad: The way that Buffy suddenly realizes that nothing was said about Theresa being mauled, and that as the excuse to figure out Angelus got to her instead was really clumsy plotting. It was also unnecessary, since it introduces consistency problems that could have been bypassed easily. Was Buffy and Xander just not going to show up to pay their respects at all, otherwise?


Other Thoughts: There are a lot of little asides, glances, and comments that are pretty funny but not on paper. The actors delivery makes all the difference and their interactions with one another are actually more entertaining than the actual plot.

Giles seems a little out of character, with his laughing at Xander's joke, but I can let that pass for the glances that Buffy and Willow exchange.

Willow and Cordelia being such close bonding buddies seems a bit out of character for both of them, too. A friendship between the two of them is building much too fast, considering Willow's response to seeing her kissing on Xander, and Cordelia's past attitude toward her -- especially since his worry over Willow is part of Cordy's problem. Again, I can overlook it though, because of the amusement to be had at Cordy complaining about Xander's worry over Willow... to Willow....

Cain. He's a bit overdone and it isn't just the character, but a touch of overacting the sexist jerk. He's so straightforwardly obnoxious, that it becomes wearying listening to him. I thought maybe we're supposed to be comparing him to Larry, who is only acting overbearing because he wants to be more 'manly' in denying his homosexuality, but I may just be trying to read something more than we're getting into this character's purpose.

I like that Angelus is the one to murder Theresa, and I really liked that he deliberately left her (it seems) to share a message for Buffy. But, his scene with the werewolf just weren't necessary.

Oz as werewolf. I'm torn on this one. It introduces yet another supernatural character and there really isn't much done with it until he threatens Tara and then leaves. The twist didn't really seem worth it, did it? It doesn't really hurt the character any though, so *shrug*.


The Score: You should catch this one for the interactions between the characters and the chemistry between the actors. There are enough amusing asides and lines to keep you entertained, even though the story itself is only so-so and Cain overbaked-ness drags down the scenes he's in.

3.50 out of 5 (although, I could also go with 3.75 with this one)





-end-

Tags: buffy season 2 reviews
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