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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch: S04E06, “Wild At Heart”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone just figured out that she never changed the profanity in the following list back after the great The Good Place swears filter debacle. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shirt is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight/bi female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!
  34. The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
  35. Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
  36. Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.
  37. Buffy is an abusive romantic partner.
  38. Riley is the worst.
  39. Joss Whedon has a problem with fat people.
  40. Spike is an abusive romantic partner.
  41. Why are all these men so terrible?
  42. Wicca doesn’t work like that.
  43. Alcohol is evil.
  44. Head trauma doesn’t work like that.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that into consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

Listen.

Fuck this episode.

Fuck this storyline, fuck the way they fuck over both Willow and Oz in it.

Fuck this whole thing right into the garbage.

Look, it’s not that I don’t understand that actors sometimes want to leave long-running shows to do other things. I get that. And it’s not that I have a problem with Willow figuring out that she’s a lesbian (though the way her self-realization/coming out is written to cater to the nebulous idea straight people have of what they imagine the experience would be like for themselves). What I hate about this episode is how sloppy the execution of the end of the Willow/Oz relationship is and how much better it could have been.

So, I guess let’s get on with this lazy bullshit.

Lots of students are hanging out on campus at night, the way you probably should do if you live in Sunnydale where all the vampires are? Buffy goes tearing through a crowded area, pursued by a vampire. She gets him away from the other students before she stops and squares off against him, thanking him for relocating. They fight while she quips,

Buffy: “You know very well, if you eat this late, you’re gonna get heartburn.”

She stakes him and while he’s in his death throes, asks:

Buffy: “Get it? Heartburn? That’s it? That’s all I get. One lame-ass vamp with no appreciation for my painstakingly thought out puns. I don’t think the forces of darkness are even trying.”

As she wanders off muttering to herself about how her humor goes unappreciated, we pan up to Spike, watching from a, I don’t know, rooftop garden? Some kind of upper level that still has trees and a yard. Anyway, he monologues about how the big bad is back and she’s in trouble, standard Spike stuff. But he’s so busy bragging to no one about how awesome he is, he doesn’t notice that he’s been surrounded by the shadowy commando force that’s been plaguing monsters so far this season. They taze him and drag him off.

After the credits, Willow, Xander, Buffy, and Oz are at The Bronze, which they all agree is a much more fun place to be as college students than as high school students. Willow suggests that it’s because it’s a familiar oasis in the totally new world of their lives as college kids, and it’s nice to be somewhere “predictable.”

Then Giles shows up. And since we’re going for predictable, everyone assumes he’s there because there’s trouble. But he’s just there to hang out. He even offers to buy them coffees.

Buffy: “So much for your predictable blankie theory, Wil.”

Now, it’s not that Giles isn’t an important and valuable part of the Scoobie gang. He’s just not an under-twenty part of the Scoobie gang, and they’re still all trying to figure out how he fits into their lives as a peer and not an authority figure now that they’re out of high school and he’s no longer Buffy’s Watcher. And bless him, he tries:

Giles: “Splendid. Well, it’s ages since I’ve been to a gig. Well, don’t look that way. I’m, I’m down with the new music. And I have the albums to prove it.”

Buffy: “Yes, but it’s your cutting edge eight-tracks that keeps you ahead of the scene.”

Excuse me, Buffy, but a man like Giles never had an eight-track player, no matter how attractive portable music might have been. The sound quality was truly a step down from vinyl and he would absolutely never have compromised. Do you even watch your own show, young lady?

Oz defends Giles by sticking up for his music collection, and Willow says it’s “brave” of Giles to be there. I love this because as the years have passed, I identify with Giles more than any other character. Youths. Fuck them.

So, Veruca’s band takes the stage and once again, Oz is totally captivated by her. I don’t know whose idea it was for her to like, whiplash and serpentine her whole body the entire time she’s singing. And I don’t know what happened to this actress/singer when her gig on Buffy was over. But sure as God made little green apples, I know she’s spent some quality time at the chiropractor.

The worst part about this shit show is that Buffy picks up on Willow’s humiliation at her boyfriend’s all-consuming attraction to another girl. Giles and Xander are totally into Veruca, too, though, so they don’t notice that Willow is sitting there in pain. But we cut to the next morning, where Oz and Willow are snuggling in bed. And they’re so cute. And their relationship is still somewhat healthy, even with his weird Veruca thing.

Willow tells Oz about a Wicca group she’s wanting to check out. She tells him it’s on one of the nights he’ll be affected by the full moon and asks him if it’s okay that he’ll have to lock himself up.

Oz: “The only thing I mind is being away from you for three nights.”

We’re gonna go from that to “goodbye forever” by the end of the episode. Fuck this episode.

At psych class, the only class Buffy ever attends, I guess, Professor Walsh tells Buffy that due to her awesome work on a paper she did, she’ll lead a discussion group at the next class. And then Buffy asks her, you know, what she’s supposed to do to prepare to lead a discussion group and Walsh brushes her off onto her teaching assistants. Because teaching is too much work for the person who became a teacher.

Have I mentioned how much I hate Maggie Walsh? For years, I’ve struggled over whether it’s internalized misogyny causing me to hate a character who’s a strong woman, but…I’m pretty sure I hate her because she’s such a horrible teacher and also she tries to get Buffy killed.

Buffy shows Willow the grade she got on her paper:

Willow: “This is good! I mean, this is excellent. You did better than me. This is so unfair! You made me jealous of you academically! Buffy!”

Buffy: “I know, can you believe it?”

Willow: “Wow, I guess Professor Walsh isn’t so ogre-y after all.”

No, she’s still an ogre. It’s not Professor Walsh who did the work or changing here, it’s Buffy. But some of Willow’s perhaps unintentional and subconscious down-grading of Buffy’s success could be due to the jealousy she fully admits, especially once she learns about the discussion group opportunity. And I really like the way this scene is handled. Willow’s identity has pretty much always been built around her academic achievements. It makes sense that she would be threatened. But look at what an amazing friend she is! She admits to her jealousy but immediately goes back to being happy for Buffy. She doesn’t hide her feelings from her, but she doesn’t allow them to poison their bond with unnecessary competition.

Oz runs into Veruca as he crosses campus. He’s looking for a place to meet Willow and uses that as an excuse to not sit with her. Veruca points out that there are two chairs available at her table, and Oz sits down. And then he makes a comment about Veruca’s “big lunch” which is literally a normal-sized hamburger (which actually looks more like a veggie patty, on closer inspection) and what I’m comfortable in calling an objectively unsatisfying amount of fries. In the first place, Oz, mind your damn business. In the second place, time to make me hate Veruca even more:

Veruca: “I like to eat. I hate chicks who are like, ‘does it have dressing on it’?”

Hey, look. Not Like Other Girls™. The eating thing has always mystified me. I realize there are women out there who are always on a diet, but why is that like…acceptable to be annoyed by? If someone’s getting on your case about going on a diet or offering unwanted advice, that’s annoying. But the mere existence of people who count calories or shun dressing doesn’t really hurt anyone if they’re keeping it to themselves. And for a slender girl like Veruca to make fun of girls for “not eating”…like, what the fuck. Seriously, way to feed into the whole “hot girls are even hotter if they eat like Kirby and never worry about their weight…so long as they stay hot,” Buffy writers. (#6) (#39)

Oz tells Veruca that her band was really good and they start to talk about amps. Willow arrives and sees them chatting together. Veruca is friendly-ish, Oz is awkward, and then they go back to talking about amps, totally excluding Willow. When the name “Hound Dog” comes up, she’s relieved that they’re talking about something she knows and jumps in to say how much she likes Elvis. Veruca smugly runs with it until Oz tells Willow:

Oz: “We’re actually talking amps. But it’s easy to get confused. The names they give ’em.”

Then Oz gets up and leaves Willow alone with Veruca. Who makes this face:

Veruca is making intense eye contact, with a blank expression that indicates she's intensely studying Willow. Like she's an interesting bug or something.

The international “I’m better than you and your man is already mine” signal.

Veruca says she has to leave, too, makes a comment about Willow’s top that is probably not genuine, and poor Willow is left all alone in the place she came to specifically to meet up with her fucking boyfriend.

This episode is so painfully relatable. I think if you’ve ever been in a relationship that was ending, there’s a moment where you realize the end is near. I had an almost identical situation happen to me when I was dating a guy who was in a fairly popular local band. One night, we were at a bar, and he ran into this chick he knew but hadn’t seen around in a while. She sat down with us and they started talking about all these obscure bands that they were both way, way into. Finally, this chick says something about The Dead, and I’m like, oh, okay, the band Phil Lesh formed after Jerry Garcia died, I can totally talk about them! But they were talking about some obscure indie band. And it played out so like this scenario, with my date explaining apologetically and with such obvious second-hand embarrassment that I got second-hand embarrassment for myself.

Dude ended up ghosting me after that date. And then I ran into him at Meijer a couple weeks ago while I was grocery shopping with unbrushed hair. I was standing next to someone who had b.o. so bad they left a scent trail. He probably thought it was me. We made eye contact and he definitely, definitely recognized me, even seventeen years later. In my frantic flight to get the hell away, I knocked over a bunch of two-liter bottles of pop.

It was still less painful than this episode.

Buffy happens to walk by and sees Veruca leaving, so she sits down with Willow.

Willow: “How come you didn’t tell me I look like a crazy birthday cake in this shirt?”

Buffy: “I thought that was the point.”

Willow is worried about Oz thinking Veruca is sexy, but Buffy points out that checking out other women isn’t a bad sign. Now, here’s where I’m gonna get in trouble probably. And I want to make sure everyone is aware that when I come at the subject of Willow’s sexuality, I’m not out to erasing lesbian representation. Discussion about Willow’s sexuality contains some hard lines to walk when so many bisexual women identify with Willow’s experiences as well and have legitimate concerns about our erasure in the media. So, before I launch in:

  • Yes, Willow being an out lesbian on a TV show was groundbreaking and important and no, I’m not trying to yank Willow away from lesbians.
  • Yes, Willow absolutely identifies as a lesbian later in the show (though I’m not sure the word “lesbian” is ever actually uttered? She says she’s gay a lot, but now that I think of it, we need to be on “lesbian” watch as the show goes on because I don’t remember it ever being said and the words women use to label their sexuality are often erased or danced around), so she’s a lesbian
  • The above can both be true and her characterization and arc can be bi-erasure.

Nothing I say about Willow’s sexuality is me asserting that because a character is a lesbian instead of bi, bisexuality is being erased. Nor am I ever saying that lesbians don’t deserve media representation. I, and other bisexual women, just want that representation to come without a personal cost to ourselves. And that’s perfectly okay for us to discuss.

So, with the disclaiming out of the way, we have Willow saying:

Willow: “I mean, I have wrong feelings about other guys sometimes. But I feel guilty. I flog and punish.”

Willow maintained a years-long crush on Xander. She had a relationship with a “boy” who turned out to be an evil robot, but whom she assumed was male. She has discussed the hotness of boys with Buffy. She has a long-term boyfriend. These are all experiences that lesbians can have before they realize that they’re lesbians, and that’s not uncommon. This is all due to social conditioning and sometimes subconscious protective camouflage. But here we have Willow admitting that even though she’s in a relationship with Oz, she finds herself attracted to other men.

The (mostly straight, to my knowledge) writers of Buffy could have easily avoided bi-erasure with one single change to that line. “I have wrong feelings about other people sometimes.” Later, when Willow falls for Tara, we could look back on that line and realize, hey, the clues were there all along. She said people because she meant women, too. And then, it’s a lot easier for us to accept that her awakening to her own sexuality was a gradual internal process and not, “My heart is broken by a man, so now I will be a lesbian.”

Buffy reassures Willow that Oz isn’t the kind of guy who cheats, and Willow takes comfort at the idea that Oz will be locked in a cage for a few nights, anyway, which is gonna make cheating hard. But without Willow there to make sure he’s locked in real good, you can guess what happens.

Yup.  He gets out. And he chases Professor Walsh, which is always fun. And then as he’s chasing her, surprise! A girl werewolf shows up!

You may be wondering how I know she’s a girl. Well, you see, it’s because she has long hair:

In her werewolf form, Veruca looks more like a vampire, with a wrinkly forehead and nose, but her fur is more like very long blonde hair. Yes, it looks as ridiculous as it sounds.

To borrow a phrase from Wayne from Letterkenny

‘Kay. Just–

‘Kay. So–

‘Kay.

When Oz is a werewolf, he’s covered with kind of spikey fur and his face is definitely more messed up than this. I couldn’t get a good picture because he’s constantly in motion in this part. But he doesn’t look like Oz, he looks like a werewolf. Now, I know that it’s important for the audience to guess that this is Veruca. But as a member of the audience, I guarantee I would have already gotten that if another, lighter-colored werewolf just suddenly showed up on the scene. They’ve been foreshadowing some hypnotic connection between Oz and Veruca since her very first appearance. We didn’t necessarily need a pretty werewolf to get it across.

Anyway, the two werewolves lose total interest in Maggie and start wrestling with each other. Then we fade to the next morning, and Veruca and Oz waking up naked in the woods. So…not so much wrestling as like…mating.

I’ve always wondered how much this actually counted as cheating, to be honest. Oz isn’t Oz. He couldn’t remember eating a zombie in season three, FFS. In the beginning of this arc, he didn’t even know he was a werewolf, he could only suspect because he had no memory of the things he did while he was a wolf. We already know that he has no control over his actions in that form. How does this translate to cheating, if he’s not the one doing it? Veruca even acknowledges the fact that he can’t remember what happened between them, though she’s apparently been a werewolf long enough that she can now remember bits and pieces of her wolfy time.

Though Veruca seems to think they’re a done deal and wants to have sex again or something, Oz just wants to go home. He goes to the laundry facility in the dorm, where he gets dressed and the costumer just keeps Veruca in a bra and matching panties. You know. To really get across what an evil slut she is or something. Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but this isn’t a show where you tend to see a lot of skin. All of a sudden, Veruca is traipsing around campus wearing nothing at all and she’s the evil other woman? I’m calling #6 and #33.

Oz mentions that he needs to figure out how he got out of his cage, which disgusts Veruca.

Veruca: “God, somebody’s domesticated the hell out of you.”

Oz: “It’s my choice. I don’t want to hurt anybody.”

Veruca: “Maybe. Or maybe you just don’t want to admit what happened to you. Maybe you just want to pretend you’re a regular guy.”

Oz: “Well, I am. I’m only a wolf three nights a month.”

Veruca: “Or you’re the wolf all the time and this human face is just your disguise. You ever think about that, Oz?”

And then she tries to get him to have sex with her again. He rejects her, and she goes off on a tangent about how nobody knows how to be alive and free and she could help him feel that way. He’s like, yeah, no thanks, I don’t feel like killing people.

Veruca: “You don’t understand. But you will. You’ll see that we belong together.”

Oz: “No. I know where I belong.”

Professor Walsh is walking with Riley, telling him all about these weird gorilla dogs she saw the night before. Buffy approaches with a question, but Walsh warns her about the dogs and Buffy is like, hey, nevermind, because she knows what gorilla dogs probably really are.

Willow goes to Oz’s dorm. She’s dressed a little differently than usual:

Willow is wearing gray leather pants and a purple-ish wrap shirt with frilly sleeves.

I’m including the picture here because I’m pretty sure that this exact outfit gets reused in season six. When I get there in five years, I want to be able to easily compare.

Anyway, Oz is super weird and Willow picks up on it. She apologizes for her own weirdness over Veruca, and Oz does what he can to try and change the subject without using more than two syllables at a time. He even tells her that she’s safe to stop thinking about Veruca. Willow tries to initiate sex with him, but he obviously can’t because he’s got visible scratches on his back.

Werewolves do it missionary style, I guess?

Willow is clearly hurt by his rejection, even though it’s gentle and honestly, understandable since he was being a werewolf the night before and would probably be legitimately tired from that, right? But still, she’s picking up the vibe.

Over at Giles’s house, because I always have to include some Gilesy goodness, he’s being so, so relatable:

Giles is at his desk, upon which there is now a television in addition to his mystical stuff. He's kind of reading an old book while he's eating and having a big mug of tea. He's wearing two sweaters and neither particularly go with each other or particularly fit well.

The ill-fitting clothing. The crowded desk. The talking back to the television around a mouthful of food because he’s annoyed with the game show on the screen. It’s like someone took a picture of me at work and used it to stage an elaborate tableau of sadness.

Buffy shows up and he’s super excited to see her.

Giles: “You come on business, I hope?”

Buffy: “Yes. Lucky for you, people may be in danger.”

This poor dude is bored out of his gourd. Buffy tells him the deets about the two werewolves and he asks if she’s talked to Oz about it. There are two things about this that I feel are underappreciated. One, Buffy went to Giles first, when it would have been more geographically convenient to go to Oz first. Second, from a common sense perspective, it seems like Buffy should have gone to Oz first, right? But she reported to her Watcher, instead. This shows us that regardless of how Buffy has grown as a Slayer, she still needs her Watcher. This comes in as a plot point from here on out, and I feel like this exchange, specifically, wove the beginning of this issue into the story super effectively.

Buffy promises she’ll come back as soon as she talks to Oz. So…that’s the whole exchange.

That could have been a phone call.

Now, obviously, it wasn’t a phone call because phone calls are boring to watch and you need to get your principal cast on screen even if they’re not actively involved in the main plot of the episode. However, it does feel a little bit forced; there needed to be a better reason for Buffy to physically go to there. It’s a missed opportunity, too; what if she couldn’t get ahold of Giles on the phone because he’d been trying to win something on the radio and the phone was tied up? That would give us even more of a sense of how boring his days are. I wouldn’t even bother to point it out unless it was a missed opportunity because so much of this show exists in a world where there are apparently no phones at all.

Speaking of getting the core cast as much screentime as possible in an episode that doesn’t involve them, Willow goes to Xander’s house to tell him about what happened with Oz. We find Xander in a predicament of his own:

Xander: “We’re having a little landlord/tenant dispute, so I’m withholding rent. An effective and, might I add, thrifty tactic.”

Willow: “How come?”

Xander: “She won’t let me put a lock on my door. I suspect she’s afraid I’ll start having ‘the sex’.”

This is another area I’m going to call #36, because this kind of shit is a real issue and it only ever gets played for laughs. We’re supposed to think it’s funny that Xander can’t afford the privacy that adult humans require to live their lives. It’s not the fact that it’s included that chafes me, just the fact that it’s one more area where a real-life problem is funny, without acknowledging that this kind of ha ha, you’re poor thing is taking place on a show where much of the target demographic was probably living in multi-generational households for exactly the same reasons as Xander.

I mean, I’m not calling for anyone to be beheaded over it. I just think the fact that Xander’s entire purpose on the show in season four is to be the resident failure we’re supposed to laugh at because he comes from a less privileged economic background than the other characters is bullshit.

Willow asks Xander what it means if a guy doesn’t want to “you know,” and he points out (rightly) that if she’s having sex, she should be able to use the actual words to describe the act. So, you know, go Xander on that one. He tells Willow that it could be a bad sign, but it’s not necessarily true that it’s definitely bad. He asks for more background, and Willow tells him about the Veruca situation.

Xander: “Well, have you asked Oz about it?

Willow: “Well, I thought about it, but then he’ll think I’m all jealous and worried.”

Xander: “But you are. And odds are, he feels it. I bet that’s all there is to the weird you’re feeling. You guys should talk things out, Wil. You’ll both feel better.”

Why wasn’t there a subplot where Xander eventually became a therapist? Here’s the thing: most of the time, Xander’s personal behavior sucks hard. But he actually does give good advice and seems to understand human emotion and reaction from an outsider perspective better than the other characters seem to. Yet, it’s Buffy, who is a walking disaster in her own right, who ends up becoming a (not-degreed) guidance counselor in season seven. Man, how cool would it have been, and how much more would Xander have had to do in that season, if he’d ended up at Sunnydale High as part of a training thing because he was earning his degree?

I kind of wonder about the economic and educational backgrounds of the writers on this show. I’m not going to go look it all up, but the poverty representation is weird, regardless. Xander ends up as a construction worker, which is not at all the job I would have thought up when designing that character. He seems to end up doing manual labor because he’s poor and that’s about it. Like someone sat down and went, “What do poor people do?” and that’s the first thing that came up. But a lot of construction work requires vocational training or at least some experience, so it’s not as though he’s just going to stumble into a job in that field, right? And it’s not exactly unreasonable for someone to go to community college or weekend classes to slowly earn a degree. I guess I look at Xander and I see wasted potential as a character because I look at my own, very Xander-like post-high school situation and sympathize deeply with him.

Also, because working-class jobs are very much looked-down upon on this show. When Buffy has to get a job at a fast food place, it’s her absolute lowest point as a human being. At the same time, Willow and Tara are both fully unemployed throughout the entire series, and they’re depicted as having better and more meaningful lives going for them. Like, it’s better to be unemployed than it is to take a job that the writers feel is somehow beneath them.

Man, this was a tangent I wasn’t expecting from this episode.

Back to the show. Oz is welding his cage back together when Buffy finds him. He admits he got out, but claims he doesn’t know anything about another werewolf being around. Buffy senses that something is up with him, but he denies it again. There’s a montage of Oz and Willow looking sad cut with shots of Veruca rehearsing with her band and singing a song that consistently tricks me into thinking my phone is ringing. The sun is about to set and Oz is in his cage when Veruca comes by. She mocks his “habitrail” and refuses to get into the cage. He warns her that the Slayer is looking to hunt this other werewolf. Veruca accuses him of just wanting to be locked up with her all night. Then she gets all breathless and sexy and writhy talking about how she sensed him before she ever met him, and human Oz grabs her and kisses her. They do a weird Titanic hands thing as they change, and we cut to the next morning when Willow finds them naked and spooning.

After the commercial break, Oz wakes to find Willow standing there, heartbroken. Oz tries to gaslight her, saying he had to lock Veruca in the cage with him where they would have sex all night. It’s the only way, don’t you see?

Oz: “She was gonna hurt somebody. I didn’t have a choice.”

Willow: “But you did! You could have told somebody. Your solution…just put you two together in a room? All night?”

Veruca: “Girl’s got a point.”

First of all, go fuck yourself, Veruca. Second of all, yes. Both girls have a point. Oz could have even told Buffy hours before. He actively lied about the second werewolf, even knowing Buffy’s policy of non-violence where the species is concerned.

He totally had a choice.

Willow: “I knew. I knew, you jerk. And you sat there and you told me everything was fine? And that’s as bad as…”

Oz: “I know how it feels. I remember.”

First of all, go fuck yourself, Oz. When you forgive someone for something, you don’t get to throw it back at them later to cover your own ass. Second of all, if you know how it feels, why did you choose to do it to Willow?

He says it’s not payback or anything like that, and Willow points out correctly that not all cheating is comparable. For example, making out with Xander was bad. But one might argue that fucking someone else and lying about it when it wasn’t your fault in the first place, then lying a second time when provided the opportunity to prevent it from happening yet again and then actually doing it again isn’t even in the same god damn ballpark.

Willow points out that he was attracted to Veruca before this, and he can’t deny it. She runs away and wanders through town lost in her sadness until she steps off the sidewalk and is almost hit by a car. Buffy sees it happening but is too far away to prevent it. Riley is fortuitously passing by and jumps in front of the car to pull her out of the way. Both of them narrowly miss being hit. Buffy runs over to see if Willow is okay, and Riley says:

Riley: “Whatever it is? It’s not worth hurting yourself over.”

Buffy looks shocked at the suggestion that Willow might have walked into traffic on purpose, and this moment? Makes me think that I’ve been too hard on Riley in the past. I really, really hated Riley before, but watching the show more in depth? At a moment like this? He not only did something incredibly brave to save Willow, but he’s savvy enough to go, you know, this isn’t my business, but I don’t want her to get hurt and she seems too upset for this to have been a coincidence. He gets involved in a way that could be construed as pushy or intrusive, but he’s like, fuck it. This chick could get killed and I’m gonna say something in case her friend doesn’t put two-and-two together.

Oh, wait. I just remembered how he’s gonna be in season five. No, I still hate him. But just a smidge less.

In their dorm room, Buffy makes an ominous promise:

Buffy: “I have to find Veruca before the sun sets. I will, though. And when I do, this thing stops. She’s bad news.”

Does this mean Buffy is going to kill Veruca, despite her personal policy of not killing werewolves? Is Buffy bending the rules for personal reasons? And isn’t murder…kinda extreme?

Anyway, Buffy makes a comment about Willow putting the blame where it belongs, and Willow is like, yeah, great idea and gets out her witch business. So, something safe is gonna happen.

In his room, Oz is calling around looking for Veruca when Buffy barges in. He’s going to help her track Veruca.

Oz: “Look, Buffy, you should know that–”

Buffy: “Oz. Now might be a good time for your trademark stoicism.”

That’s right, Oz. You don’t get to talk. I’m so angry at you!

In what appears to be the communal kitchen in the dorm (!), Willow is conjuring up a spell:

Willow: “I conjure thee by Barabas, by Satanis, and the Devil. As thou art burning, let Oz and Veruca’s deceitful hearts be broken.”

Here we go! We got some #42 and some #4!

Let’s tackle #42, first. Again, Willow’s magic is consistently referred to as Wicca, which is a specific religion that notably does not have a concept of Satan. But even if we were to broaden this to all areas of witchcraft, Satan and the Devil are the same thing and you wouldn’t conjure him to help with a heartbreak spell, anyway. Every witch knows there are a plethora of wronged lovers in almost every pantheon, plus plenty of fictional archetypes that embody the spirit of the feeling of being a lover wronged. You would not bother Satan with this and he probably doesn’t give a shit about it, anyway.

Now, let’s move on to #4: Willow, you know that vengeance demons exist. What are you doing? Why the complicated spell? You know you can summon a being who will take care of this at no cost to you. And you can’t even use the argument here that she was using this spell because secretly she doesn’t really want to hurt Oz, but guess what? She’s conjuring the literal DEVIL.

Back in the forest, Oz is sniffing around for Veruca.

Then we’re back to Willow and her conjuring of things that have nothing to do with a love spell. For example, the “Saracen Queen,” which is a title used to refer to Mavia, an early Christian military leader, so again, probably not interested in helping you in your anti-love spell, and “the name of hell” which, you know. We’ve already covered why involving Satan in this nonsense is…nonsense. Willow is so mad, she’s levitating shit at this point.

In the woods, they find a pile of Veruca’s clothing. At first, they think it’s just what she left behind from the other full moon night, but then they realize it’s a trap. Oz knows that Veruca is going to go after Willow. He runs ahead of Buffy, who collides with one of the mysterious commandos and is knocked to the ground.

Just as Willow is about to burn Oz’s picture as part of the spell, she hesitates. Realizing she can’t do it, she ends the spell. And that’s when Veruca comes in.

Veruca: “Wow. For a minute there, I thought you might actually play rough. Sometimes you have to, you know? To keep what’s yours? Sometimes, you have to kill. Well, how about that? The sun’s almost down.”

Caaaah-mmercial break.

After the commercial, Buffy wrestles with the commando and we cut back to Veruca slinkily threatening Willow. I’m not sure Veruca wouldn’t be better off as like…a weresnake. Veruca taunts Willow, then hits her. Oz comes in and warns Veruca to leave Willow alone.

Veruca: “How can I? She’s the reason you’re living in cages. She’s blinding you. When she’s gone, you’ll be able to admit what you are.”

As they argue, they start to change. Veruca tells Oz that animals kill, and Oz is like, yeah, we sure do. They fully transform while fighting, which would be cool except for the part where we’re watching a beloved character murder his recent sexual partner. And he does murder her. He rips her throat out and is advancing on Willow when Buffy bursts in and tranquilizes him.

She was there in the nick of time to save Oz. But Veruca, the slutty slut slut, had to die.

Can we just acknowledge #6 and #1 on this one? Plus, #33? Because they’re all tied together in Veruca’s death.

First of all, yes. Veruca was evil. She was going to hurt Willow.

Second, Buffy didn’t know that when she all but explicitly said she was going to kill Veruca. Not because Veruca had hurt someone. Because she might hurt someone. Oz has killed, and they did everything they could to make sure it wouldn’t happen again because he’s human most of the time and it seemed wrong to slay him. But Veruca is The Other Woman, so it’s just and right that Buffy should kill her for her grieving friend? Based on the rules already laid down in the show, there’s no legitimate reason to kill her. The only sin she has committed at that point is fucking Oz.

Third, Veruca is played very much like Alex from Fatal Attraction. I get that’s what they’re going for. But that movie is problematic on its own; the entire “good man makes one mistake and crazy bitch destroys his life” genre is problematic. Veruca is a bad person, but we haven’t seen any evidence that she’s ever actually hurt someone. If she were on a serial werewolf killing spree and there was no hope for her rehabilitation, fine. She’s embraced the demon side. But she’s been in Sunnydale for how long and there haven’t been any reported werewolf attacks? Also, it’s suggested at one point that Veruca knows what she’s doing when she’s in wolf form, which means she has the self-control not to kill. Why was the decision to kill her made before she committed violence against Willow, something that was unforeseen by Oz and Buffy until they found the clothing in the woods?

Fourth, why is Veruca automatically the evil one in the situation? Even I sit here like, “How dare you! How dare you, homewrecker!” and then I have to check my thinking and go, okay, does it make her a nice person that she went after a guy she knew was in a relationship? No. Is that a choice I approve of? No. But does it make her solely responsible for Oz cheating? Absolutely not. When Buffy says Willow should lay the blame where it lies, that blame goes on Oz. He makes the choice, while human, to lock himself into a cage with Veruca and have sex with her after he makes the choice to lie about her being a werewolf. Oz is the person to blame in this situation. Would he have cheated on Willow with someone else if Veruca hadn’t offered? Maybe not. But the point is, he did cheat. While Veruca made a mean, hurtful choice, it’s still Oz who’s responsible for hurting Willow because he’s the only one who made a promise to Willow to be faithful.

Fifth, and I cannot stress this enough, Oz is still mostly human when he makes the decision to kill Veruca. This is one of the good guys. One of the good guys has lied to the other good guys, cheated on a good guy, and is now going to kill a woman right in front of our eyes to make her pay for his mistake. He could have broken up with Willow if he was interested in Veruca. He could have chosen not to lie to Buffy or lock Veruca in with him. He could have been honest with Willow. But he wasn’t. That doesn’t justify Veruca trying to hurt Willow, at all, and he’s not to blame for Veruca’s actions. But all of this could have been avoided if he’d been honest with Buffy when she first asked him about Veruca. Also, by not cheating in the first place. But Veruca is the slut to blame, so she has to die.

Why does she have to die? Because it’s supposed to be a satisfying conclusion to the story. The viewer is supposed to be satisfied to see Oz choose Willow to the point of actually murdering the woman he cheated with. We’re supposed to feel some sense of justice from that.

Back at Giles’s house, Buffy tells Giles about the commando, and how she’d seen them before and assumed they were in costume. Buffy blames herself for not being there in time to save Veruca, and Giles is like, yeah, but you saved Willow.

Giles. Stop talking. Don’t disappoint me.

Buffy tells Giles she doesn’t know how Oz and Willow are going to get through all of this, and we fade to Willow at Oz’s dorm. She finds him packing his bags to leave.

Willow: “That’s your solution?”

Oz: “That’s my decision.”

Willow: “Don’t I get any say in this?”

Oz: “No.”

And Willow’s face goes like:

Willow's facial expression is a mixture of total heartbreak and just not being able to believe Oz's bullshit.

Oz tells her that Veruca was right; he’s not just a werewolf some of the time. He needs to figure out what it means to be a werewolf, and he doesn’t trust himself to be around her or anyone. Willow asks how long he’ll be gone, and he tells her he doesn’t know.

Willow: “Oz, don’t you love me?”

Oz: “My whole life…I’ve never loved anything else.”

He kisses her forehead, then leaves her to cry alone in his room. He gets in his…blue? van to drive away. I don’t remember his van being blue. How did I miss that his van was blue? Anyway, he has a really difficult time starting the engine until it almost seems like he’s going to run back to her. But he drives off. Bye bye, Oz.

I think I’ve outlined pretty thoroughly what I think of this entire send-off. There had to be some way to do this without destroying the character. Because I can’t like Oz after this. I know he comes back later and there’s this whole business where he wants Willow back but she’s with Tara, but honestly? I wasn’t thrilled to see him show up. By the end of the episode, I was glad he was gone.

But maybe that was the point. Maybe the writers knew he was so beloved, the only way to stop us from rioting in the streets when he left was to turn him into an irredeemable monster of a monster.

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31 Comments

  1. Laina
    Laina

    Oh man I’ve read like 2 sentences of your recap and I am excited because wow I do not like this episode.

    I’m gonna get some tea and a cookie and enjoy this sucker

    January 29, 2019
    |Reply
  2. Rowan
    Rowan

    “Youths. Fuck them.”

    I love that this is coming from a May-December romance writer.

    January 29, 2019
    |Reply
  3. Other Sheila
    Other Sheila

    I’ll be honest, most of season 4 left a lot to be desired, but there are a few gems hidden. This is NOT one of them. Poor Willow. Poor Oz. Nobody comes out in a good light and it was a shit way for a beloved character to leave.

    January 29, 2019
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  4. Skylar
    Skylar

    This episode. Just. AGH.

    I have to agree with your conclusion on it. Oz was such an amazing character that they probably didn’t think they could afford to lose him, and so they had to turn him inside out and make him do something unforgivable so that people would be okay with seeing him go. Although if you’re so bad at writing a *good* good-bye that you have pull this shit, that’s a serious deficit in your ability as a showwriter. So… yeah.

    Also, it wasn’t until well after finishing the series that I realized Willow was… not bi? I always thought she was, and when I first came out as bi I really empathized with her and was proud that she was an example I could point to. And then I realized that she’s canonically a lesbian. It was a little disappointing to me, to be honest, although I respect how she chooses to identify based on her own needs and wants- although, I finished viewing the series rather recently, and I don’t ever remember her using the term “lesbian.” “Gay,” yes, but I’ve known nary a bisexual not to have referred to themselves as such on occasion. I think it’s in the comics that the term “lesbian” is used? But I’ve never read them, so I could be wrong.

    It’s true that not everyone needs labels. But it’s also true that some bi women identify as lesbian because of the stigma surrounding bisexuals- that they’re promiscuous, greedy, unable to be monogamous, etc. Willow’s attractions are not explicitly clear, but they definitely seemed to go “both ways,” at least to myself and a significant bi portion of the audience.

    I want to make it explicitly clear, in case I misspoke anywhere above, that I want lesbians to have plenty of representation, too. I just think that if Willow IS lesbian, they could have done a much better job portraying that aspect of her- one that makes her proudly and unambiguously lesbian, instead of just “hello, gay now.” Now that a boy broke her heart? Now that she knows she was never really attracted to men at all? Which is it?

    At the end of the day, while I wish Willow could have been an example of positive bi representation, at the end of the day she IS good wlw representation, and holds an important place in LGBTQ+ media history. I’ll always be grateful for that.

    January 29, 2019
    |Reply
    • I think of Willow as the type of grey-aro who fixates on one individual, and doesn’t really experience attraction outside of that relationship. The entire concept of asexuality and aromanticism was deeeeeply not available to the mainstream during that time period, so under this conceptualization I don’t even fault the writers for not allowing Willow to self-identify that way–it’s entirely within reason that the character herself would never have encountered these ideas.

      This fits better to me than “was-always-bi” Willow, because… well, frankly, she never really expresses attraction to _anyone_ except her person. Is she ever attracted to anyone else during her Xander period? Or Oz? Or Tara? Even when she calls herself gay, she’s not actually attracted to any other women besides Tara. When she’s assumed straight, she’s never actually attracted to any men besides her fixation. Whenever she does express attraction, IIRC it’s _always_ in context of trying to hook Buffy up–which is not necessarily an authentic expression of interest. If she’s like this, experiencing attraction only to Tara would absolutely have felt like “Oh, guess I’m gay now, this is new”.

      I also really wish she could have just been bi, because we really needed that at the time, and even if you accept my conceptualization, this isn’t really an example of grey-aro representation–I’m 100% trying my best to find a narrative that actually fits the incredibly confused writing of this show. The writers either didn’t know bisexuality existed, or they had a problem with bisexuals, and either way that sucks. They absolutely wrote Willow as grey-aro by accident. I just… found a narrative that fits really well, that I really like, and I wanted to share is all

      February 13, 2019
      |Reply
  5. Black Knight
    Black Knight

    My memory of the times is that the first season of Willow/Tara, Willow was written as bisexual.

    But there was a segment of the fandom that reacted really poorly to Willow being with Tara, and wouldn’t shut up with the complaints that Willow’s character had been destroyed and the hopes that Tara would be kicked off the show so Willow would go back to guys.

    It seemed like the Buffy writers saw the massive homophobia on display from that segment of the fandom, and decided to write Willow in the remaining seasons as full-on lesbian gay. Especially since they knew what we didn’t at the time, that Tara was always going to die so that the DarkWillow stuff could happen. Gellar has mentioned that Whedon pushed Tara’s death back a little bit because he loved the Willow/Tara pairing, but he still followed through in the end. But by that point Willow had been written as full-on lesbian gay for long enough that there was no serious speculation in the fandom that she would be paired with a guy again.

    And even though I’m a bisexual woman myself, I get it. Things are a little better now, it’s not as automatically assumed that a bisexual woman’s female partners aren’t to be taken seriously and that she will always end up with a man. But especially back then – it just would’ve been such a slap in the face to queer women, whether lesbian or bisexual, for Willow to pair up with a man after her girlfriend was killed off. (Even more problematic than the trope Jenny calls out here, of Willow’s first relationship with a woman coming after a guy broke her heart.) In the immediate aftermath of Tara’s shocking death, it was something of a comfort to know that because the writers had changed course and started writing Willow as a lesbian rather than bisexual, there was at least no chance of Willow being paired with a man as her next partner.

    Compare to The 100, Clarke and Lexa, how badly that hurt queer women. I do want to see bisexual women on TV and I do want to see them with men as well as women – but it’s just really problematic to do a story where the bisexual woman gets with a guy after an instance of Bury the Gays has just occurred with the bisexual woman’s female love interest. There are other ways to move forward with a m/f pairing for a bisexual woman.

    January 29, 2019
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    • Sigyn
      Sigyn

      I agree. It would have been better if Oz and Willow had parted amicably, especially if Willow had met and started hanging out with Tara for a while before she and Oz broke up, and then came to him with “hey you’ll always hold a special place in my heart, but I think I’m in love with someone else.”

      And Hey, if he had met Veruca around that point, no one would have even had to die. He could have moved on with the werewolf chick, and Willow could have had a relationship with a woman that didn’t seem diminished by her bad experiences with men.

      January 30, 2019
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    • HerImperialMaj
      HerImperialMaj

      Oh god, hurt me with a reminder of Clarke and Lexa, why don’t you. That actually ties in with what Jenny was complaining: every show has the right to get rid of a popular character, but don’t do it in a way that spits in the fans’ faces.

      In Lexa’s case, despite the fact that she was a formidable warrior, they chose to Tara her. This is a one-two punch of awful, because it denies her the glorious, satisfying death they so easily could have written her, AND it echoes one of the most infamous examples of Bury Your Gays.

      I was done with The 100 after that.

      January 30, 2019
      |Reply
  6. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    You can be a strong woman and not treat other people as dog crap, so frankly I don’t care what gender Maggie is. She’s a jerk and I don’t like her – and I’m usually the one standing up for strict teachers.

    I also really don’t like Veruca. Going after someone who’s in a monogamous relationship is not okay, and neither is trying to humilate their partner.

    And I have so many issues with Oz’s behavior, but you’re covering that pretty well.

    Props to Buffy for not ragging on her friend’s fashion sense.

    I’m reaching here, but I could argue that she specified guys because being bi was controversial at the time the episode was written and she may have been afraid of what Buffy would think? On the other hand, this would have been a good place for the writers to portray Buffy’s unconditional acceptance of Willow. Alternatively, they didn’t decide to suddenly make Willow gay until a few episodes later.

    You know, I grew up on food stamps and in and out of shelters, but what bothered me more about the Xander scene is the fact that his mother won’t let her adult son have a lock on his door. I’m pushing 28 and I was never allowed to lock my doors when we had a home. My dad even learned how to pick the locks of our current apartment so locking the door is pointless. And Mrs. Harris being squeamish about her ADULT son having sex is ridiculous. Just saying.

    As for Xander himself, if he really needs to move out he could apply to community college or trade school on FAFSA, or even a government funded trade school like Job Corps, and sign up to live on-campus, since backpacking didn’t work out for him. I feel bad that the poor guy didn’t have more options due to the writers.

    Okay, Therapist Xander would have been amazing. He could have helped the whole cast work through their issues and maybe even had a healthier relationship with Anya if the writers hadn’t been determined to keep him as a butt monkey.

    I wonder What kind of training Xander underwent to work construction? It’s not exactly like playing with Legos. Also, if he had gone to trade school he could have become certified in HVAC and all kinds of important but overlooked stuff, possibly earning multiple certificates in the time it would have taken his collegiate peers to graduate college, since many trade courses are about 18 months and some are self paced. He could have started his own business and just been a powerhouse of badass normal with all these skills and training instead of “wah I’m not magic”.

    Dawn also could have gone the trade route – look at her cute crush on Xander – and Job Corps, for example, accepts students at age 16 as long as their guardians sign off on it. They complete high school there and then pick up a trade – or that might be concurrent, I’m a bit fuzzy. I was 23 when I attended but I was close to some younger students. And then it wouldn’t have been “wah I’m the Key, I don’t NEED an education because my education is FAKE”, it would have been, “You choose your own destiny, and wouldn’t it be cool to learn some of these things your peers might not think about to give you a leg up?”

    The way I see Buffy’s job, even if she didn’t like it, is that she is earning the means to support her family AND because it is in food service, she will absolutely be able to put food on the table as long as she has that job. I stumbled into office admin by pure luck and managed to find work at a law firm where I currently earn minimum wage for my state – but because my dad has a housing voucher and my cell phone plan is cheap, it pays what I need to keep my life comfortable. I grew up poor and am grateful for what I have, but these writers don’t necessarily have the scope or empathy to experience the same gratitude, so they write their characters as ungrateful or blasé.

    “human Oz grabs her and kisses her. They do a weird Titanic hands thing as they change, and we cut to the next morning when Willow finds them naked and spooning.”
    ^ Even if the first night wasn’t cheating, I feel like this unambiguously is.

    I wouldn’t really consider someone pushing me out of traffic to be intrusive, like, it’s nice to know someone cares and that they think my life matters more than my circumstances.

    “Does this mean Buffy is going to kill Veruca,”
    ^ I construed it more as, “I’m going to make sure this woman never sleeps with my best friend’s boyfriend again cause I’m gonna kick her ass” rather than “I’m going to kill this woman”.

    “we’re watching a beloved character murder his recent sexual partner.”
    ^ ugh she’s such an asshole I don’t even care. Like i know I should be all WOMEN’S SOLIDARITY and INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE IS WRONG! but honestly? I can’t summon the energy to care about Veruca’s passing. She was an asshole, and now she’s dead, on a violent show. End of. And yes I completely agree that it’s unfair that Oz, the person who made the decision to cheat, got only knocked out, but he’s a regular and Veruca was here for like two or three episodes. I’m…not sure what else was expected here.

    “and is now going to kill a woman right in front of our eyes to make her pay for his mistake.”
    ^ Now that you mention it, it would have made more sense if he had seen her assault Willow and then flown into a rage and attacked Veruca. Even if it’s hypocritical because he also hurt Willow.

    January 30, 2019
    |Reply
  7. Jessica
    Jessica

    The whole “men never say no to sex” thing exhausts me. Its such a shitty and reductive trope. The writers could have done a much better job of Oz showing that he feels guilty than this because as you pointed out him being too tired for sex is completely reasonable. Like if he’d wanted to avoid spending time with her at all that would have been much more of a red flag

    January 30, 2019
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  8. HerImperialMaj
    HerImperialMaj

    I like the idea of Xander the Therapist. I’ve often thought that fantasy shows should have a character – either a fantastical creature or someone aware of their existence – who was a therapist. So many characters desperately need therapy, but they can’t go to a muggle therapist and say, “I’ve been depressed since I time travelled,” or “I don’t know how to deal with my mind-controlling ex’s gaslighting.”

    January 30, 2019
    |Reply
    • merry
      merry

      Xander actually gets a therapy in the comic books and his character growth is satisfying to see

      January 31, 2019
      |Reply
  9. HeidiAphrodite
    HeidiAphrodite

    I’m only here to say that I just…I love these recaps (and the resulting discussion). Buffy got me through some serious hard times a few years ago (thank goodness for Netflix), and I love the more in-depth analysis you provide here! LOVE IT.

    January 30, 2019
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  10. Dvärghundspossen
    Dvärghundspossen

    Regarding TV writers and their view on the working class: They also don’t realize that you can have money troubles even if you have a job, if that job is low-paid.

    According to McDonald’s website, they pay about 9,19 an hour in the US. I guess other fast food chains are about the same. If you work 180 hours a month (which is about a normal work month, right?) you’d make 1 654 USD a month. I don’t know how much you pay in taxes in the US, but some tax money is gonna be deducted from that, right?

    If that’s your income, you’ll have to be pretty damn thrifty (especially if you support more than one person on your salary!), you can likely not live in a house or in a nice apartment (ok depends on where you live of course since costs of living vary so much but you get my point), but you’d have to live somewhere really cheap, any unexpected costs can completely throw your economy into a turmoil etc.

    In TV shows, though, it’s like… sometimes even long term unemployment seems to have zero effect on character’s lifestyle. But even when long term unemployment is presented as a problem, it’s like getting a job, ANY job, means that you’ll be able to stay wherever you like and buy whatever you need all the time. It’s just weird.

    January 31, 2019
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    • Agent_Z
      Agent_Z

      In the DVD commentaries, Whedon admitted he had no idea how the military actually works so he wrote them according to what the story needed. It seems the writers approached unemployment, poverty and employment the same way.

      January 31, 2019
      |Reply
  11. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    I think what bothers me about Oz’s compliment to Walsh is that it’s implying that Walsh went easy on Buffy by giving her a high grade. Which implies that Oz doesn’t think Buffy actually earned that grade.

    Willow not summoning a Vengeance Demon can be excused by her not knowing how to summon one. I’m not even sure what the spell she was trying to cast was supposed to do to Oz and Veruca.

    January 31, 2019
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  12. Agent_Z
    Agent_Z

    I’ve got another one to add to the list:

    #45: The show treats anyone outside of the core three of Buffy, Xander and Willow like crap.

    Cordelia – cheated on by Xander and sent off to die in a spin off show.

    Anya – Killed in the series finale and the only word on it is Xander saying she was “always doing the stupid thing”.

    Tara – Killed under circumstances so contrived they were borderline comical. Also, Whedon planned to have her be impersonated by the First Evil and the only reason that didn’t happen was because Amber Benson didn’t want the fandom’s last memory of Tara to be her trying to drive her former lover to suicide.

    Jesse – Remember Xander and Willow’s friend who was sired and then killed? The writers sure don’t because he is NEVER mentioned after the second episode of the show. Not in the episode when they have a hallucination of Buffy becoming a vampire. Not when they thought Willow was a vampire in season 3. Not when Buffy discovered Angel was a vampire which might have actually made his hatred of Angel seem more sympathetic. But no. Jesse gets killed off and is never mourned nor mentioned again.

    January 31, 2019
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  13. shel
    shel

    I was always under the impression Veruca was fine with killing while she was in wolf form, which is why she had sucha problem with Oz wanting to lock himself up.

    But not rewatching and just doing the recaps, I can’t say if there is something real that makes me feel that way. (Was there a hint in a previous episode that someone was killed by werewolf?)

    Maybe that’s just my own internal justification for why it was okay that she died… because looking at it the way presented in the recap- ick. Though I agree with another poster that I didn’t think Buffy meant that Veruca needed to be killed and that was the only option… but that something needed to be done- capture, send her packing etc.

    Either way, I agree with everyone that this episode is the worst and it was a terrible way to say goodbye to Oz. Relationships don’t always work out, and that’s okay but this was just so harsh.

    January 31, 2019
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  14. Maxine
    Maxine

    You know, when I first watched the show it felt like the Oz cheating and leaving was either foreshadowed better or it took longer? I didn’t realize that they completely destroyed Oz’s character in just one episode. It really sucks because Oz was one of my favorite characters.

    January 31, 2019
    |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      I think it was actually foreshadowed in that Oz noticed Veruca a few episodes before anyone else did, when she walked past and he ‘caught her scent’ and turned to look at her. After that, she turns up at the Bronze as a Shirley Manson wannabe (is she channeling the lead singer of Garbage the entire time, or is it just me?) and has all the males in the room in a lather. Then it turns out that Oz knows her through their mutual love of music/their bands. Even if you had never seen the show before, you could pick that something untoward was about to happen. But for such a great character to turn into an irredeemable asshole in one episode … it’s just lazy writing, as Jenny mentioned. Oz was one of my favourites too, because his odd sense of humour reminded me of my ex (and the father of my kids). Plus, he’s a musician. This episode always bums me out, bigtime.

      February 19, 2019
      |Reply
  15. Samantha
    Samantha

    For me, Willow is a bissexual person. And this erased had always happen.

    The first contact we have with Willow sexuality is in season 3, when we meet Vamp Willow. Vamp Willow is clearly a bissexual woman, since she is engaging with Vamp Xander and women at same time. However, Willow describes her vamp version as “sort of lesbian”, you know, like you can be half lesbian if you engage with men and women.

    We also have a big clue that she is not straight. Angel mentions that your vamp version unleash what is inside you, when he is silenced by Buffy and Willows look. Meaning that, since that moment, we have a clue that Willow like boys and girls.

    I got that this series began in the end of the nineties and man, being gay at the time was way worst than it is now. In Brazil, homosexuality was considered a disease and was registered in a list of diseases in that period. I recognize the importance of the show showing a lesbian/bissexual woman and I can understand that bissexuality might not evem be recognized as sexual orientation at the time by many people. But this does not change the truth: Willow is a bissexual woman that has a preference for women from season 4, and there is nothing wrong about it.

    February 1, 2019
    |Reply
  16. Kate
    Kate

    Xander’s arc drove me crazy because a lot of the time his home life and issues were played for laughs, and then in epsiodes like Restless and Hell’s Bells they would show you how bad it actually was and how negatively it affected him. He had a lot of potential and he is definitely the heart of the Scoobies, but it feels like the writers didn’t care much to explore that as deeply as they should and it’s a shame. I’m sure a large number of kids saw themselves in Xander’s home life and employment worries, the same way they could relate to Willow’s sexuality or Buffy’s thankless responsibilities. It’s a bit disrespectful, imo, to not give that story the gravity or thought that it needed.

    February 1, 2019
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    • Mel
      Mel

      I completely agree. As an adult who didn’t leave home for the first time until I was three months pregnant with my first child at 24, and has gone back home to live with Mum as a 37 year old woman eight years ago, I totally relate to Xander not having his privacy and feeling like a failure in life. I took a lot of wrong turns myself, career-wise, as Xander did. I also don’t understand why Xander got into construction because he would have made a great school guidance counsellor or psychologist. He’s the ‘Seer’ of the series, the perceptive one who often figures things out before anyone else does. He could see Buffy and Rily ‘imploding’ as he put it, before she realised there was even a problem in her relationship. He disliked Angel before anybody, and not just because he had a thing for Buffy. Just on Angel … I’ve always wondered why Angelus could remember what it was like to be human, and yet Angel with a soul couldn’t remember a bloody thing? Suss, if you ask me…

      February 19, 2019
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  17. Bryn
    Bryn

    Can we also bring up the fact that a veruca is a wart? And in Britain they use it as shorthand for genital warts? (At least, that’s what QI said on one of their episodes.)

    February 2, 2019
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  18. SaintSithney
    SaintSithney

    I always thought of Veruca as more of a were-cockatiel. I’ve noticed whenever women are directed to “act feral”, they do this weird bird head wobble that is probably supposed to look like a belly dancing move, except to people who actually practice belly dance. I guess because they’re supposed to look not quite human but still look sexy, and there gets to be that extra lash of “exotic”.

    But it looks frankly ridiculous. If the footage on your “sexy feral” would work just as well set to “Surfing Bird”, you’ve failed.

    February 2, 2019
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    • Dove
      Dove

      And a were-raptor (any bird of prey basically) would frankly be awesome so it’s the worst of both worlds!

      But going back to cats or wolves, yeah, they’d more likely keep the neck straight and just react occasionally to things you can’t hear. XD

      February 4, 2019
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  19. Katherine
    Katherine

    Riley is a total jerk in S5(inferiority complex major) but he really does have a good heart under it all I think. I love watching him in S4. Like, in one of the next episodes, he realizes Willow is upset by the music bc it’s Dingoes and immediately asks them to switch it to something different. I think the writers couldn’t imagine a man being okay with being physically weaker than his girlfriend.

    February 3, 2019
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    • Mel
      Mel

      Yeah a lot of men wouldn’t be okay with that, though. A lot of men find it hard to deal when their partner makes more money than them. (My brother’s an exception to the rule – he’s proud that his wife makes more than him). The issue with Riley I think is that he needed to be needed by Buffy. Perhaps because of her strength, he wanted her to lean on him in other ways, and she didn’t. She left him almost entirely out of the loop, so I get that about him. Yeah, he had an inferiority complex – but if you take note of who he married later, he didn’t go for a physically weak woman. His wife, Sam, was his equal. So you could almost say that he likes strong women. As long as they let him be the strong one, emotionally, sometimes. I don’t dislike Riley. I just thought he was a bit of a bland choice for Buffy, IMHO.

      February 19, 2019
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  20. Katherine
    Katherine

    I can agree with all of those things as well. She didn’t make him feel like they were much of a cohesive unit who needed each other. Hence, the whole “they need me” thing with the vamps. I might argue that Buffy has always had trouble leaning on people for emotional support actually. She tends more towards bottling up and letting it out violently or withdrawing more I think. See: post-Becoming, Spiral, all of Season 6. Even The Body had her more withdrawn(which was a purposeful touch to dealing with parental loss too), but you see Dawn break down more than Buffy, so it is her personality as well.

    February 19, 2019
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  21. Pulp
    Pulp

    Riley had to become evil, because Buffy had to be punished for having sex.

    September 21, 2019
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  22. rekhyt
    rekhyt

    Thank you for all the recaps.
    I’ve never seen Buffy but the last couple of days I binged your recaps.

    I love it so much.

    If you ever feel up to recap nu Doctor Who…. <3

    November 7, 2019
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