Sunday, July 1, 2012

BtVS Rewatch: The Pack

The Pack (1x06)

  • I love the zoo!  Don't know why Buffy isn't into it.
  • Oh my god!  That's Eion Bailey fom Once Upon a Time as the lead bully!  I never noticed him before!
  • Ick.  It's an episode with hyenas so they must have jungle-y music.  I hate the season 1 score.
  • Nicholas Brendan actually has a really pretty great evil smile.
  • Hyena Fact 1: They are evil.
  • Moment.  When Xander is being a dick at the Bronze, Willow asks him if he's okay and then proceeds to ask: "did I do something?"  Aww, Willow.  I love how cute and mousey you are in season 1, but I can't wait until she grows up and becomes a badass, because that line is all kinds of sad.
  • Buffy is known for taking baths?
  • What the heck is a Razorback anyway?  Is it a real animal?  I REFUSE TO GOOGLE THIS.
  • Hyena Fact 2: They are bad at math.
  • "God, this game is brutal.  I love it."  I wish we had seen that gym teacher again.  (I don't think it's the same guy that was the swim coach at the end of season 2.)
  • Xander, I know you are possessed, but when you make Willow cry I want to punch you SO HARD.
  • It would be really funny if the episode ended early because they all got sick from eating raw pig.
  • What is that song at the beginning of Act 2?  (Google reveals it is "Job's Eyes" by Far.  Never heard of them.  Not sure that I like it, but it definitely works for the sequence.)
  • This will become a theme in these rewatches: when Alyson Hannigan cries, I cry.
  • The scene with Xander being all misogynistic (Hyena Fact 3: They hate women.) reminded me of Wesley in the Angel episode Billy (AtS 3x06).
  • Poor Principle Flutie.  I actually kind of liked him.  This is significant because it shows the show is not afraid to kill off important secondary characters.  And so it begins...
  • There's the Willow I want: not susceptible to fake sweet-talk.
  • Oh that book cage.  That strangely indestructible book cage.  Is this the first time they lock something in there?  I think it is!  I'm going count this.
    • People/Monsters Locked in Book Cage: 1
  • Why on earth are the Hyena people so strong?  Proportionate to Buffy they are some of the strongest single-episode villains she faces in the series.  Because why?
  • I should count how many times Giles is knocked out.  This is the second.  (The first was in Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, I believe.  Correct me if I'm wrong.)
    • Giles Knockouts: 2 
  • Yeah, you were possessed and tried to rape your friend.  That must have been really embarrassing for you.  /sarcasm.  Sorry, that just bugs me.
  • One other thing that bugs me.  I wish pop culture wouldn't demonize hyenas.  At some point someone decided that hyenas are gross, evil monsters.  This is a general trend with opportunistic animals in general.  I don't like it though.  Hyenas are cool!  Did you know that Hyenas are more closely related to cats than to dogs?  (A real Hyena Fact!)  Convergent evolution in action!

I actually really like this episode.  It's easily the strongest of the series so far.  (That will change when I get to the next episode, though.)  I think it is the first episode to really show how close these characters have grown in the past few weeks (months?)  When Xander is acting like a dick to Willow and Buffy, it feels like a huge betrayal, which only works because we have seen their friendship grow.  The fact that the monster-of-the-week story takes over one of our own makes it personal.  Imagine how much less interesting this episode would have been had just the bullies and not Xander had been possessed.

This episode also does a lot to explore the relationship between Xander and Willow.  She may have a crush on him right now, but their relationship goes much deeper than that.  They have been best friends since they were kids.  This is why Xander's possession affects Willow so much.  It's not just that he rejected her romantically, he rejected their friendship.  This episode also pulls a "show don't tell" trick.  Instead of just saying that they've been best friends forever, Willow demonstrates it by seeing through Hyena Xander's sweet talk in the cage.  She knows him extremely well.  It's moments like this that will make the Yellow Crayon speech at the end of Season 6 so powerful.  While the Xander/Willow friendship doesn't get a lot of focus in the series as a whole, it's still one of my favorite relationships in the show and its nice to see it so firmly established here.

One final note.  My girlfriend has decided to follow my lead and start her own BtVS rewatch.  You can read her thoughts on Welcome to the Hellmouth here.

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