Buffy 1×06: The Pack

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 04/07/1997]

“The Pack” is an odd little piece that is all over the place in terms of quality. There are some moments of gutsiness, moments of cowardice, moments baked in pure cliché, and it’s all coated in the episodic amnesia that is Season 1. In some ways the episode reminds me of “Witch” [1×03] in that it tells a stand-alone story that is firmly rooted in the “high school is hell” mode of making broad statements about the high school experience rather than telling its story through the characters we care about. The episode almost makes it work by having Xander be among the possessed, but it’s all thrown away by the end of the episode. Enough teasing, though — let’s get into the meat of this story. (Sorry for that! ;))

The central point of “The Pack” is in exposing the dark side of social cliques. The social pack isolates and preys on the weak and then ‘devours’ them, which is made literal in Sunnydale thanks to the Hellmouth. This concept is set up in the early sequence where a group we’ve never seen before picks on another guy we’ve never seen before, and it is all written and directed in the most clichéd way imaginable. Fortunately, the episode’s execution of this concept becomes a bit better when filtered through a possessed Xander and his interactions with Buffy and Willow. When Xander lashes out at Willow we see an example of how painful it can be to have a long-time friend turn on you in an instant – something that can actually happen during those teen years, albeit generally not due to hyena possession. The approach “The Pack” uses to make its point, though, is representative of a larger problem that plagues the season (more on this in a moment).

After Xander has done his damage to Willow he moves onto Buffy, but he’s not looking to hurt her emotionally – he’s looking for something a lot more physical. One interesting bit of information to come out this is that, at least on some level, Xander sees Buffy as liking men that are “dangerous and mean, right? Like Angel, your mystery guy. Well, guess who just got mean.” While I can see why Xander might come to this conclusion when looking at Angel, Season 1’s lack of memory strikes again with Xander acting like Owen, from “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date” [1×05], never existed. In Owen we have some evidence to support that Buffy can also like a non-threatening guy with a softer personality (and perhaps in some ways, a precursor to Riley). I do think Buffy likes men who have a bit of mystery about them, but that doesn’t necessitate danger or cruelty.

Things get interesting – in the moment — when the pack, sans Xander, actually eat Principal Flutie, while Xander makes an attempt at sexually assault on Buffy, both of which combine to make for quite the shocking sequence – particularly for this season. I very much appreciate the episode’s guts in even going there, but sadly that appreciation gets diluted all-too quickly by the lack of follow-through. Xander’s assault is promptly forgotten by episode’s end, and is never brought up again despite being fertile ground for both character insight and exploration. Principal Flutie’s gruesome demise is also pretty washed over in the episodes that follow, with only jokes about it down the road. These moments seem impressive in the moment, but they lack the emotional resonance that could elevate them to the level of pathos – something Buffy will eventually thrive on. Not taking advantage of these moments is not the only problem of this kind in “The Pack:” how about there being absolutely no parallel drawn between the possessed students and Cordelia’s often cruel ‘pack?’

To put the final punctuation on my feelings regarding “The Pack,” I’ll refer to the giant slo-mo scene that focuses on the possessed pack. This is a unique scene, to be sure, but it’s allowed to continue going on for way too long, to the point of absurdity. The choice of music here only adds to the problem, as it is trying way too hard to be edgy, and instead ends up coming across as incredibly pretentious. It’s a bizarre sequence that in the grand scheme of things just doesn’t end up giving me anything to chew on other than a passing “weird.”

In the end it’s a bit difficult to sum up “The Pack.” It’s a mixed bag, but what’s ultimately damning is – like so much of Season 1 – its irrelevance. There are some good ideas thrown around and even a few individually compelling scenes, all of which keep the episode interesting to watch most of the time. Sadly, though, there’s just not much else going on. The central theme — while relatable in a broad sense – doesn’t hold up too well in terms of depth and character relevance.

“The Pack” handles itself reasonably as a stand-alone story (although I prefer “Witch” [1×03] in this regard), but beyond that there’s just not much there to care about. When events like these don’t have follow-up consequences and/or reflection they lose the ability to resonate with me, and then all we’re left with is an uneven one-off. The jokey ‘everything is back to normal’ tone at the end of the episode sums up that dissatisfaction better than anything I could possibly write. “The Pack” simply suffers from too many missed opportunities, a darker tone that isn’t earned (see “Passion” [2×17] and its place within Season 2 for the opposite), and very little thematic relevance. If the same basic concept was tossed into the more complex Season 2 landscape, then I think we’d be looking at an overall much better episode. Good concept; poor setup and follow-through.


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Nicholas Brendon played the possession quite well; kudos to him.
+ Creepy dodge ball sequence; loved the teacher getting uncomfortably excited over it.
+ Willow baiting a possessed Xander into showing her if any of the real Xander is in there. Thankfully she’s not dumb enough to fall for his obvious ruse.
+ Xander’s behavior while possessed by a demonic spirit does bring up some interesting questions about how much we should hold Xander accountable. This becomes an important line of thought considering the spotlight it will be given in “Angel” [1×07], and will play an important role in the show at large (e.g. with Angel, Spike, and Anya, for starters).

– The early bullying scenes are kind of painful: way too obvious and forced.
– Yet another episode plagued by key roles for one or more annoying students that we’ve never seen before, and will never see again. If only Jonathan had been the one being picked on…


* Buffy wearing Angel’s leather jacket (from “Teacher’s Pet” [1×04]) when she goes to the Bronze is a wonderfully subtle reminder of what’s on her mind (besides the crisis of the week, of course).
* Willow tells Xander that studying is important if he doesn’t want to end up “the guy at the pizza place that sweeps the floor.” While not quite janitor work, Xander does end up working as a pizza delivery guy in Season 4 while his friends are off at university.




73 thoughts on “Buffy 1×06: The Pack”

  1. [Note: Fallen posted this comment on March 31, 2006.]

    “Far – Job’s Eyes” is one of my favorite songs from all of Buffy. Very awesome.

    It was also the episode that turned the music line into a pattern (to take a phrase from Angel) You had the awesome Dashboard Prophets tracks in The Harvest which gave you a point, then you had the great music from NKABOTFD (Like Rubber and Kim Richy) which gives you the line…then comes The Pack with Far, Sprung Monkey, and another DB Prophets track and that was the point where I knew for sure that it was going to be awesome music throughout the series.

    The music is one of the biggest things for me, and anyone who heard a track on Buffy but doesn’t have it/know what it was and wants it I probably have it on my HD…103 Buffy/Angel songs/scores so far….all the CDs including the UK import and the Angel CD (also UK version).

    I think it’s an episode worth more than a 63 and I think there’s a lot going on in that’s fantastic…not the least of which would be the great acting from SMG and NB in the pseudo-rape scene.


  2. [Note: Grounded posted this comment on March 31, 2006.]

    That was one major upside of S1/S2 for me – the music is awesome. In the later years they tend to go for more mainstream stuff. I always though it was great that Cordy was dancing to Dashboard Prophets in the pilot. 🙂


  3. [Note: Fallen posted this comment on March 31, 2006.]

    Yeah, talk about some great songs.

    It was definately the springboard for Smallville to sell out every single episode. As far as going for more mainstream stuff, I never saw that as a bad thing at all.

    I ❤ Michelle Branch and the song fits, I ❤ Bush and the song fits…plus they did stuff like Aimee Mann and Angie Hart in S7. I think it worked out just fine.


  4. [Note: Grounded posted this comment on March 31, 2006.]

    Strangely, they also had a song by one of my favourite bands in one Bronze scene. The track is Cemented Shoes by My Vitriol, which I was stunned to hear because, well, they’re not exactly superstars.

    Funny story about Dashboard Prophets: after working out which songs they’d done on Buffy, my brother and I dled the songs and had them on the car stereo all the time. That year I decided to get hold of an import of the DP album Burning Out The Inside for my brother’s Christmas – no small feat for me back then given that it was early days for the net in our household and that CD was never released over here. Anyway, I got hold of it and he was stunned when he opened it on Christmas Day. When he put it in the player, however, it turned out to be a misprint – all the artwork was correct on the case and CD, but the actual music was a different album entirely. So random, and annoying as hell after the effort I went through. Got another one eventually though, so all’s well that ends well. 😉


  5. [Note: 20questionsgenius posted this comment on April 1, 2006.]

    I really like “The Pack”, that is one of the few episodes from S1 that i would willingly watch again and i too thought it deserved better than a 63. I thought it was so cool, and i remember thinking the first time i saw this episode and the group ate Principal Flutie, that this was unlike any show i had ever seen and they weren’t going to do the cliche thing all the time. About the music, I wasn’t crazy about the music at first, it was all kind of obscure and strange, but then i realized that that was what made it so great. It was unknown and different and you weren’t going to turn on the radio and hear those songs playing every half hour, that made the show even more special. Plus, I love how 99% of the time, the songs are not filler songs, chosen to give background noise soley for that purpose. The songs that are chosen have a meaning that relates to the story going on or the character and when you figure out what that meaning is its so awesome. One of the only times i can think of a song totally not going with the scene and it driving me crazy is in S7 “Him” during the part where Buffy takes R.J. into the classroom and Dawn is looking for him. They play Coldplay’s “Warning Sign”. Coldplay is one of my very favorite bands and “Warning Sign” is in my top five favorite songs of all time, and to me that song was so misplaced in that particular scene. I have tried and tried to think of what the meaning of it could be but honestly i can’t think of anything. It sucks because thats a good song that would have fit in beautifully almost any other time in the show.


  6. [Note: Angelo Gouveia posted this comment on October 13, 2006.]

    In my opinion this episode should get the best metaphor in S1 award a bit higher score 🙂 I really like it, its very stilysh and the message comes out pretty well. Great peace of acting from the part of Alyson Hannigan as well and Nicholas Brendon.


  7. [Note: Barbara posted this comment on March 26, 2007.]

    I kinda like this for the fact that we get to see more of Nicholas’ acting ability, and we get to see a dark side of Xander, but I don’t like it for the exact same reason. The dark side of Xander is a wake up call for everyone…we all have a dark side, some of us just have a easier time hiding it than others do.


  8. [Note: MrB posted this comment on April 7, 2007.]

    Just one more comment on the music. The regular soundtrack score music in S1 pretty much stunk. Boring, not sure where they were going, cheap sounding, synth stuff.

    This episode was a departure in that it was the only episode of S1 for sure (and possibly the series) that completely created its’ own vibe with the African drums and rythms.

    Personally, I’m glad this did not happen all the time, but it was interesting to hear.

    This demonstrates that in S1, they were really feeling their way around with what this show was going to be and do.


  9. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 1, 2007.]

    I was shocked when a possessed Xander tried to rape Buffy. I found it hard to believe that he was completely without blame since he wasn’t “himself”. Yes, it was out of character to be mean to Willow but the things he was saying to Buffy in that classroom rang true for how Xander felt.

    I didn’t like that after it was all over instead of apologizing to Willow and especially Buffy, he faked amnesia.


  10. [Note: Christine posted this comment on September 17, 2007.]

    The pack is easily one of my favorite episodes and probably the best of the xander-centric one. He was so far off his usual self, the acting was wonderful.

    As far as the music, i found a lot of it (or just the placement of it at times) in season 1 is, like you said, a bit corny.

    But love the dark xander, that we don’t get to see again until The Wish.


  11. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 4, 2007.]

    I´m not a big fan of this episode but this really entertains me. Seeing a dark, cruel Xander is really cool. I don´t have a problem with the students acting like hyenas, I think it´s a good premise. There are a lot of great stuff here: the scene where Xander tries to rape Buffy, the scene where they eat the principal (it´s amazing but everytime I see it, that schocks me) and my favourite scene of all, the dodgeball game. Very good dialogue, very good character interaction.


  12. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on December 26, 2007.]

    This is my second favourite S1 episode (the best being Nightmares, which is just amazing). It also features the best line in the series, which unfortunately doesn’t look very good on paper; one really needs to hear Alyson Hannigan saying it:

    “Why couldn’t Xander have been possessed by a puppy… (pause)… or some ducks?”


  13. [Note: XenaGuy posted this comment on March 23, 2008.]

    I too think your score is quite low for this episode. The whole ‘pack’ metaphor is brilliant. After all, teens regularly form ‘packs’ in their lives. This episode runs with that idea.

    I think the acting was terrific. The hyena-teens were all really good, even Xander after he ‘turned’. And the eating of Principal Flutie … how great was that? It started a trend for Sunnydale principals, too!

    Also, the music was compelling, adding to the animalistic theme of the episode. It helped drive the emotions of the ‘pack’ throughout the episode.

    The zookeeper I agree was a weak character, and I knew at his first appearance that he would turn out to be a ‘bad guy’ by episode end.

    I loved the way the pack preyed on the weak kid even before they were possessed (just like real teens), and preyed more dramatically as they became more animalistic as the episode progressed. I didn’t have a problem with the whole ‘hyena possession’ thing, as they were already acting as a ‘pack’ before the hyenas were introduced. The possession was a metaphor for teen ‘cliques’ if I ever saw one.

    All in all, I’d give it about 75-80.


  14. [Note: David posted this comment on April 19, 2008.]

    One thing that I loved that hasn’t been mentioned by anybody…

    Xander informs Buffy that he’s “aware” on some level of Willow’s infatuation with him while under the hyena scene. Even the attempted rape can be seen as another way for Xander to hurt Willow. He’d already done so verbally and by getting it on with Buffy, even under the spell, it’d be a mental hammer. That also really sets up nicely not only the brief fling in Season 3 but also the almost ‘purposeful’ veering away in Season 2 with girls like ‘Ampata’ and Cordelia.


  15. [Note: Paula posted this comment on September 8, 2008.]

    I got all excited about Firefly (my first Whedon show) about a year before I started watching Buffy. People then recommended Buffy to me, and I remember talking about it to someone who told me that Buffy was a show that never stopped finding new levels to climb to.

    This was the episode that started that process, at least for me. I remember being pretty impressed with it, after all the entertaining but light-weight stuff that came before it.

    …And it was quite true that the show never stopped finding those new levels. Which for a seven-season show was no mean feat.


  16. [Note: Sam posted this comment on November 20, 2008.]

    I personally thought this was a terrific episode–the whole concept was a very intense metaphor for peer pressure. It was great seeing Xander act vicious, and overall I thought this was one of the better S1 episodes [falling behind only Angel and Prophecy Girl, and possibly the pilot].


  17. [Note: Emily posted this comment on February 1, 2009.]

    I am not a fan of this episode- to me, it’s Number 2 on the “Worst Episodes of Season 1” List, right under “Teacher’s Pet.” I just want to say that in Season 6, Xander was so upset at Spike because he tried to rape Buffy, but he never owned up to what he did here- he just made believe that he forgot. And it doesn’t matter that he was possessed- he was still Xander. He doesn’t even have the lack of a soul to blame it on. All in all, Xander does some things throughout the whole series that are very questionable- like lying to Buffy in Becoming Pt. 2, like joining the gang in Season 7 in kicking her out of the house, etc. I mean, he’s Xander and we love him, but he thinks he knows everything. And sometimes he doesn’t.


  18. [Note: jarppu posted this comment on February 1, 2009.]

    @Emily: No, Xander isn’t to blame for attempted rape because he was possessed – he was not himself. That’s what being possessed means. You don’t see Xander trying rape Buffy or eating a pig when he’s not possessed. As for the kicking Buffy out – I count that as an out-of-character moment for all of the scoobies. They wouldn’t turn on her. The writers just dropped the ball in season 7. (And if you don’t count it as an OOC moment, the majority of the blame shouldn’t go to Xander.) But it is true that Xander lied to Buffy in Becoming p2. But still I don’t think he thinks he knows everything. So if you’re gonna bash on character, use better facts.


  19. [Note: Nix posted this comment on February 17, 2009.]

    We’re lucky Willow’s wishes don’t come true, btw. A duck-themed _The Pack_ would be *nasty*. (e.g., have you seen what male mallards do instead of romance?)


  20. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on April 16, 2009.]

    No, I think that Xander’s attempted rape of Buffy was all about his feelings for Buffy. It seemed as if being possessed had released his inhibitions . . . like souless Spike’s rape attempt in S6. I wonder if Xander thought of his actions when he told Dawn what Spike had done.

    Then again, Willow had not possessed or was souless when she committed psychic rape against Tara. I can say the same about Buffy’s sexual assault of Spike or Faith’s attempted rape of Xander.


  21. [Note: llinnae posted this comment on April 16, 2009.]

    @Rosie: When did Faith attempt to rape Xander??
    and by Buffy’s sexual assault of Spike, are you referring to “Gone”?


  22. [Note: Bubblez. posted this comment on June 25, 2009.]

    I really like this episode. It’s well acted with the students as hyneas. 😀

    Also…Xander’s pretty hot when he’s nasty ;3


  23. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on July 2, 2009.]

    In “Consequences”, Faith tried to assault Xander and eventually tried to kill him. Angel came to his rescue.

    And yes, I was referring to “Gone”.


  24. [Note: KatieJ posted this comment on November 20, 2009.]

    “I’ll BUY it! I’ll BUY it! I’ll BUY it!” “Job’s Eyes” was daring and perfect music placement. It amplified the “Pack” metaphor. In this episode, Joss Whedon turned out the true terror of having your high school social support pulled out from under you. And yes, the transpossesion-thing was not great, but the images it created were so evocative, and just so true, that this episode rates at the very top of season 1, no question. Dodgeball, FAR, the looks, and low angle shots, plus Giles’ “It’s horrifying, he’s turned into a sixteen-year-old boy.” Chills, people, chills.


  25. [Note: Jennifer posted this comment on January 2, 2010.]

    HA. okay, So, lol. Your all pretty amusing. I love all the comments. I love this episode. The Transpossesion thing was freaking amazing. I mean, dont we all have that fear in us? hell, I question it everytime I look into my dogs eyes. And there were SOOOOO many quotes! My favorite being “shoot me, stuff me, mount me.” lol, Love it. It was a great episode, and in my opinion it would get a 98. Though, the only episode that I would go negative on would have to be first one. I miss Jesse. And for the complaints on everyone knowing Buffys past, goes back to the first episode when Xander said “Not alot goes on in a one starbucks town like Sunnydale, your big news.” And if youve ever been to a small town, word of mouth spreads like white on rice. So, who doesnt know? The first couple episodes everyone was talking about the “new girl”. So it makes sense. On another note, I love the music. It fits perfectly. Deffinatly an A worthy episode.


  26. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on March 2, 2010.]

    Willow in pain and tears…. it brakes my heart every time. Alyson can act this emotion so perfect. plus great music: Far, Sprung Monkey. I liked the episode. It deserves at least a 75 score. Plus social groups at high school are always scary when you’re an outsider, like Larry (Larry was his name??)


  27. [Note: yippers6 posted this comment on July 14, 2010.]

    they ate the pig! At the end they didn’t tell zander what he said to willow. One complaint Zander should have been scared when buffy said “Want to say anything to me” instead he just laughs. Whats up with that?


  28. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on September 17, 2010.]

    This ep isn’t perfect, but I too would give it a higher rating than a 63. I’d say a 72/100. Not all elements of the episode were successful, the zookeeper was pretty silly, and the middle of the episode sags a bit pace-wise in the mid-section. The song “Job’s Eyes” is cool, but the scene with Xander and the pack wandering around in the school in slow motion is a clear indicator to me that they didn’t have enough material for this ep and had this scene as a time-filler.

    Agree that the students acted perfectly as hyenas, loved Xander/Willow and Xander/Buffy interaction, and appreciated that it was part of Xander behaving this way, and not just the hyenas. That way his behaviour in this ep has a lasting effect and can’t be solely blamed on the demonic possession.


  29. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on November 16, 2010.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. In light of this, references to the old review have been edited out of the the above comments.


  30. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 17, 2010.]

    I love how Willow doesn´t fall for his act. Not only is Willow intelligent but they are treating their audience intelligently too. And this trait follows her, remember Parker in Beer Bad? She also seems to be falling for him, but then she totally shames him.


  31. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on November 17, 2010.]

    Still too high of a grade in my opinion, but it’s nice to see this hideous episode drop a bit. I’m still amazed how good this show got mid-season 2, considering just how bad some of these early episodes really are.


  32. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on November 17, 2010.]

    The first time through I found this episode utterly shocking. Until, of course, everything is forgotten/forgiven at the end. I wonder how the show would have gone if S1’d had basically the same episode plots but with more cohesion between them, so that the characters and relationships change as a consequence. It certainly would have been a much darker show from the get-go, and perhaps that would have interfered with establishing the lovable core Scoobies. But it would’ve made for a much better S1.

    Loving these rewrites. And I definitely agree with you on what’s good and what’s not in this episode. Also, this was a great point: “Speaking of missed opportunities, how about there being absolutely no parallel drawn between the possessed students and Cordelia’s often cruel ‘pack?'”


  33. [Note: DarthMarion posted this comment on November 17, 2010.]

    The lack of impact is indeed shameful!

    Good review Mike (even if it’s sad that you were a little disappointed!), You catched a great missed opportunity with Cordelia’s own Pack! It would have also been of some relevance for her place in the season!

    I would rate it a little higher though, because this dark side of Xander isn’t only heyna induced, and I like that even if it’s over the top it’s really true to his character (the lashing out at Willow, the way his crush on Buffy twists his views etc).

    However I don’t understand how he ends up dominant male of the pack…


  34. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on November 18, 2010.]

    I liked The Pack quite a bit for its “gutsy” elements (plus I had a guilty pleasure in seeing the fake-hyena acting) but … Mike is correct in his criticism. I can’t argue with any of it. The writers at that stage of the show didn’t really get how to link the pieces together. Guess I’m just a soft touch.


  35. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on November 18, 2010.]


    * The monkey on the rock.

    * The Bronze scene. Notice how confident Xander goes close to the girl then walks away and she still watches him. The hyena was a little like the Toth spell.

    * Xander and the possessed slo-mo ‘Job’s Eyes’ stair scene. I liked it.

    * Buffy and Xander together.

    * Giles in the start of his getting-knocked-out phase.


    * The same hyena laugh played over and over.

    * Willow kicks the legs of the Xander dummy to close the cage door. Proves it’s a dummy.

    * The zookeeper’s lines sometimes out of sync with mouth.

    This episode was one of my favourite for the first season. It had problems but it had a good mythical story.


  36. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 4, 2011.]

    I am honestly shocked by the score. even after reading the review. I’m glad to see some love for this episode in the comments. I LOVE this episode. It is definitely my first or second favorite of S1 (along with Nightmares). I can’t believe that they “went there” and had the kids actually EAT Principal Flutie…daring and awesome! Though RIP Flutie. Plus it brought about Snyder who I love to hate!

    There may not be a lot of character development but this episode had me thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. Was it sad that I found Xander sexy in this episode? It wasn’t because he was mean (I hated what he did to Willow) but he was exuding confidence. That’s sexy.

    And I love the slo-mo scene. I loved how they were sniffing around the kid that they picked on. I thought it was well done. I also really liked the dodge ball scene that you point out in your “Pros”. Cruel HS students at play there. I WILL agree with you that they could have done some parallels between the hyena pack and Cordy’s group. That would have been great.


  37. [Note: Shiny posted this comment on May 9, 2011.]

    This was one of the first episodes of Buffy I’d ever seen (I’m never sure which was the actual first, but I did start watching during S1) and it absolutely floored me. The drama, the myth, and the hilarious dialogue all made up for the hokey zookeeper. I was in grammar school at the time (basically high school for those who passed a certain test) and could completely relate to poor Willow – my best friend was changing at the time and being cruel to fit in with her new group. When they ate the principal I was like “holy CRAP, they ATE A DUDE” – and that was before I knew Flutie was a recurring character.

    I also love the slo-mo Job’s Eyes scene. It’s cool and disturbing at the same time, just an understated scene to show how Xander and the bullies have seriously changed, and how easily the other students can see it without needing the slow motion or threatening song. The dodgeball scene is epic, as is the coach’s reaction – it really breaks the tension so that you’re still highly entertained instead of just staring numbly at the screen. And I think this was the episode where I became really aware of how excellent and unique the dialogue is.

    It didn’t bug me that Xander pretended to forget, and all was forgiven. At the time it was a new show, I was a new viewer, and the main characters having relationship issues that stretched beyond an episode would probably have put me off. I think it was necessary to maintain the status-quo at the start of Buffy; it needed to have a solid fanbase in order to approach multi-episode and seasonal arcs that involve the Scoobies’ relationships. Considering S1 as the introduction to Buffy, it’s important to understand that whipping the carpet out from under a new viewer, especially one tuning in for the first time, could have seriously bad consequences – having it come off as a soap opera with vampires. Had they altered the established relationships just a handful of episodes into the show, it’d disconnect the viewer from the whole purpose of the show’s introduction – having you empathise with (and usually like) the characters.

    I do wish the attempted-rape had been referenced later on, and you’re so right about Cordy’s own pack, but I rate this a lot higher. I think it’s the first true showcase of how the show could mix tension, hilarity and pathos in such a wonderful balance.

    My 2p ;]


  38. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on May 9, 2011.]


    First of all, thanks for the comment!

    One thing to take note of is that I am not reviewing this show from the perspective of a first time viewer. The entire purpose of these reviews is to look at each episode within the scope of the whole — the season, and the series.

    Even as a new viewer, I think it depends on the type of viewer you are in how you’d react. Seeing Season 1 for the first time made me very hesitant to want to watch more. I thought it was alright as superficial entertainment but nothing more. It offered very little new from what I’d seen before. Not having actions that mattered, right from the start, was a huge turn-off for me.

    As for the slo-mo scene, “understated” is the exact opposite of how I’d describe it. It lingers on seemingly forever and draws tons of attention to itself while offering nothing but weirdness in return. The fact Xander and the group “changed” simply doesn’t mean anything to me because it’s not even real — it all gets erased by episode’s end and all the consequences that should stem from the events here are washed clean from the slate of the show by the next episode.

    An argument can be made that most American viewers can’t keep to an episode schedule and watch their TV in order, so stand-alones are necessary for most shows to succeed financially. That truth doesn’t mean I have to simply accept the effect it has on the quality of a show. “The Pack” is a relatively meaningless episode in the grand scheme of things, and there’s no real way around that fact.

    There didn’t have to be huge ground-shaking development for all the characters this season for it to have succeeded more — the stories simply had to relate to the growth of the characters rather than be completely isolated stories. Buffy got some this kind of development in Season 1, and that’s the very best part of the season. Everyone else was largely left out to dry.

    Check out my Season 1 Review for a more expanded argument on these points.


  39. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on September 8, 2011.]

    I totally agree with Amy. How was Xander’s attempted rape of Buffy any better than Spike’s in Season 6? Xander was possessed by a hyena, and Spike was possessed by a demon (the vampire) I don’t think either of them should be let off the hook, but it always really bugged me how Xander could never forgive Spike and harped on and on about him trying ot rape her when he’d done the exact same thing! And I’m not particularly a Spike fan, so I’m not blinded by love or anything, I think I just don’t like Xander. He’s always so self-righteous!


  40. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 9, 2011.]

    when weighing up my favourite episodes of season one i rank this being around 5th. This episode to me has a scooby doo theme to it especially with the creation of the Zoo Keeper.

    This episode is one that receives diverge reviews many feel that the episode is full of derision and that the theme it identifies is a travesty to school cliques and bullying but in actual fact it does a fine job in identifying the blatant us verses them that people experience, the dodge ball game was the perfect metaphor for this. It is apt in the portrayal of dog eat dog or hyena eat principal world. The most interesting part of this episode is when Buffy finds herself standing alone on her side and ‘the pack’ instead of take her on turn and attack a team member left on their side who is obviously weaker than them and Buffy.

    This metaphor was one of the more well done ones this season, the preying on the weak link taken literal is great to watch with creepy scenes involving the pig and principal Flutie being eaten. The slow walk scene highlights the packs togetherness and the looking around as if they’re stalking their prey looking for a victim.

    Also great music choice! Its interesting that it was Xander who became possessed, his desire to be the man Buffy wants to be and the constant comparison of himself to Angel should have allowed for some character development sadly this isn’t discussed after this episode including his behaviour of threatening Buffy. Its dark stuff and allows Xander to play a darker self. Its evident what this episode is about when Xander abandons his friends and hangs with the cooler kids, a darker version on real events.

    This episode was conducive for developing and exploring the relationship between Xander, Buffy and WIllow.

    This episode shows that BtVS does darkness well but i miss Xander’s humour and comedy is lacking from the episode.

    The episode takes a detective route once Giles consults his books and Buffy and Giles t to the zoo and speak to the Zoo Keeper. The zoo keeper himself isn’t as clear cut as bad guys go, when we first meet him he merely seems like any other official stopping two teens encroaching somewhere they shouldn’t. When Giles discusses the situation with him, its then that we start to thing hang on a second! He seems a little to concerned with the how….and the need for a predatory act. Of course our suspicions are proved right when we see him dressed up in robes.

    Xander and WIllows interaction while Xander was locked in the library cage was interesting to watch, his ability to appeal to WIllows feelings for him, playing on the things were better before she came card. Although the interaction was intriguing it fell flat because we were already aware that Xander wasn’t himself.

    There are some clever one liners. Buffy: I hit him, WIllow: WIth what? Buffy: A desk.

    WIllow: WHy couldn’t Xander be possessed by a puppy…..or some ducks!

    The bottom line is i admire the writers for what they endeavour to do.


  41. [Note: Rob W. posted this comment on August 16, 2012.]

    Right on about the dodge ball sequence, but what hits me isn’t so much when they turn on Lance, but rather the look Willow gets after Xander creams her with the ball.


  42. [Note: Anne posted this comment on September 22, 2012.]

    I agree that this episode might warrant a higher rating, but at the same time……it still really, really bothers me that nothing comes of the near-rape of Buffy. I mean, even if Buffy believes Xander’s claims of amnesia, and can chalk up the basic instinct to hyena-ness, there’s still the fact that he SAID things which were clearly on his mind, not “animal-esque” things but comparisons to Angel and so on. And, oh, you know, almost-being-raped would *probably* leave her pretty uncomfortable around him, even if he was acting like his normal self again… or else she’d *think* she was okay with it, but then at a later point realize she doesn’t entirely trust being alone with him any more, or something. It just makes me uncomfortable, watching that scene, knowing that no one addresses it later — especially Giles, who, as the adult in their circle, I sort of expect to treat the situation more seriously; to realize that Xander has some deep-seated aggressive and possessive tendencies, and that maybe they should deal with those. His “your secret dies with me” gives me the stomach-squirmies that he’s kind of complicit in the action, willing to be like, “well, you nearly raped Buffy, but that’s okay, I understand, say no more.” Is this a way of saying “all boys have these rape-y, angry, controlling desires?” I sincerely hope not! Which is why I wish the episode had addressed the scene, because as it stands, it does sort of “normalize” Xander’s hyena-released attitudes as something that all teenage boys get a pass for going through, rather than as something unacceptable.


    1. Hi Anne,
      I do not believe that Giles was aware of Xander’s sexual aggression towards Buffy. I’ve watched this episode a few times and there’s no indication that Buffy or Xander told Giles about his actions during the possession.


  43. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on September 23, 2012.]

    Maybe because Giles had seen enough demonic possession to automatically distinguish between the demon that hurts people and the host that has to live with the memories, but he (Giles) didn’t know if Buffy and Willow were mature enough to not blame Xander for what he (Xander) just watched something else do and he (Giles) wanted to limit the conversation thereof.Ironically enough, not only does Giles not know that Willow and Buffy are mature enough to remember that it wasn’t really Xander, but Xander is the one not mature enough to tell the difference between when Angel is and isn’t evil.(If anybody cares, I also believe that this episode was designed specifically to acclimate the audience to the idea that Angel could’ve killed thousands of people over a hundred years before being forced to feel remorse for Every. Single. One. And the whole high-school-is-Hell clique thing.)Plus, in my personal experience, people tend to be less afraid of things that they know for a fact they can protect themselves from.


  44. [Note: Anne posted this comment on September 25, 2012.]

    Good point on their relative maturity! It really is a matter of maturity, too, not just intelligence — maybe Xander does have trouble with the idea that Angelus is a separate demon who inhabited Angel (Liam) for so long, but… his immaturity leads him to embrace any possible chance to hate on Angel, so he doesn’t even bother trying to give him the benefit of a doubt, or to understand the situation in full. I think what I get stuck on isn’t the clearly hyena actions (eating a mascot — or a principal — or even trying to ‘mate’ with Buffy), but rather the nasty side of Xander’s personality that reveals itself in what he says to her. …but hey, they were hyena *demons,* weren’t they? Not just hyenas? If a demon was ‘using’ his mind the same way vampires use people’s, then I feel a lot less bothered; it’s the difference between it being a true reflection of Xander’s feelings and a distortion/abuse of thoughts he has but fights against. Also, good thought about trying to acclimate the audience! That never crossed my mind, but it *does* pave the way for leniency where demonic possession was involved. (Only for this show would I find myself writing that sentence!)


  45. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on September 25, 2012.]

    Personally, I didn’t see any evidence in the show that Xander’s behavior was coming from him – instead of from a hyena with his memories to work from – except for a few evil teenagers jokes from an unaware Giles that stopped when he did find out about the hyenas.Now that I’m thinking about the episode again, I’m pretty sure it was just the essence of a regular hyena that possessed Xander and influenced him instinctively – rather than a full-fledged demon that looked like a hyena and controlled him sentiently – but either way, it seems like adding the essence of a predator to yourself will do more than just reduce the inhibitions on your existing impulses, it will create new predatory impulses which will probably be based on memories and emotions that were absolutely not predatory when it was just you.All said, I am impressed that you managed to get me into a spirited and intellectual debate about Season 1 :)Wow, I’m using big words tonight. I blame Sherlock 🙂


  46. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on September 26, 2012.]

    Yeah, as far as Xander’s behavior is concerned, my interpretation is similar to Ryan’s. I don’t think that we were seeing Xander acting out his own desires with less inhibition. We were seeing him possessed (I guess I do think of it as demonic possession, but I don’t know if that matters so much for the question at hand). But Giles’ “your secret dies with me” line? That’s disturbing. And, I think, quite out of character. Maybe it’s supposed to be a hint at Giles having his own dark teenage past, and understanding why Xander is so uncomfortable with those memories, but really it just comes off as an obnoxious expression of male solidarity, not one that I would expect from Giles.To give him a little credit, Giles probably doesn’t know about the attempted rape. Just the sniffing and meanness.


  47. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on October 28, 2013.]

    Mike, I think this review is excellent. As always, many thanks for the reviews and for maintaining the site.

    I do have one quibble: Xander’s attempted rape is mentioned at least one other time in the show, in Phases, 3×15. While they’re trying to figure out who the werewolf is:

    (to Oz)
    I know what it’s like to crave the taste of freshly killed meat. To be taken over by these uncontrollable urges-

    You said you didn’t remember anything about that.

    (oh, yeah)
    I said I didn’t remember anything about that.

    It would be nice if we got more than this joke as follow-up. But it is mentioned.

    Also, fray-adjacent (#47), thanks for the interesting note about Giles’ lack of awareness of the rape. I had missed that point. Sure enough, we never see anyone tell him–Buffy tells Willow, and THEN Giles walks in and tells them what happened to Flutie. No one tells him at this time why Xander is locked up, and having just found out about Flutie being eaten, locking Xander up must seem very reasonable to him. I think this makes Giles’ comments at the end much less problematic.


  48. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on October 29, 2013.]

    (to Oz)
    I know what it’s like to crave the taste of freshly killed meat. To be taken over by these uncontrollable urges-

    You said you didn’t remember anything about that.

    (oh, yeah)
    I said I didn’t remember anything about that.

    I don’t think that is specifically a reference to Pack-Xander’s attempt to rape Buffy; I think it’s more just a general reference to being taken over by the hyena and suddenly feeling all these hungry, anamalistic urges which are not specific to any particular event during this episode.


  49. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 29, 2013.]

    Thanks for the comment! I’m with FaithFanatic on the later reference though. It seemed like a casual reference to the possession meant for humor. It doesn’t spark any discussion or reflection on what Xander tried to do to Buffy while possessed.


  50. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on October 29, 2013.]

    Sorry–I didn’t mean that Xander was initially referring to his attempt to rape Buffy. If he were referring to a specific event, it would clearly be eating Herbert. I think you’re right that he was making a general reference.

    However, I don’t think there’s any reason for Buffy to challenge him if she’s not thinking of the attempted rape. Nor is there any reason for Xander to backpedal if he’s not thinking of it once she challenges him. Eating a pig isn’t really worth trying to cover up a year later.

    (also, clearly Phases is 2×15, not 3×15. Sorry)


  51. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on October 29, 2013.]

    Whoops! You replied as I was drafting.

    As I said originally, it’s a quibble. You asserted that the attempted rape was never mentioned again; I don’t think I’m stretching the text to infer that Buffy is thinking about the attempted rape, or to count this as a reference. I do take this scene as further support of your ultimate point that the writers were biting off more than they were willing to follow through on (since they still weren’t willing to follow through a year later during a thematically darker season).


  52. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on January 15, 2014.]

    Good review, like always 🙂 But I do think if buffy got mad at xander, it would be out of character. Buffy knew that Xander wasn’t himself, So she forgave and forgot. However I do have a problem with xander trying to rape Buffy in general, why even go there if you could not have pulled it off anyway 😦


  53. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on January 15, 2014.]

    I think one-off episodes have more value than you believe they do Mike. It can be inherently satisfying to see characters react to certain circumstances in the exact way we expect them to based on what we know about them. I find it a very positive viewing experience, even if the episode didn’t really mean much retrospectively.

    It’s almost like reading a short story about the characters adjacent to the actual plot. It’s just cool to see them acting like themselves, and doing things exactly like you would expect them to in different circumstances.

    Also, this is probably the most stylish episode Buffy ever did. The pacing is fantastic (I love a good slow build) and the slow motion montage really hit me. My favourite episode of Season 1 by quite a bit, though nowhere close to my top 25 or so overall.


  54. [Note: Joy posted this comment on January 15, 2014.]

    Also, this is probably the most stylish episode Buffy ever did. The pacing is fantastic (I love a good slow build) and the slow motion montage really hit me. My favourite episode of Season 1 by quite a bit…

    I couldn’t agree more. While I also agree with Anne #43 about there never being any consequences for Xander having attempted to rape Buffy. That Buffy doesn’t have a problem with the things he said to her is one of the only times I think the writers hit the Reset button.

    But I can also rationalize this omission as the cause of Xander’s extreme inability to forgive Spike for what he did to Buffy in Seeing Red. I think that because he never made an honest admission of what he did, never sought forgiveness or made amends to Buffy, Xander was never able to forgive himself. Then when Spike did something similar, Xander projected his inability to forgive himself into an inability to forgive Spike.


  55. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 15, 2014.]

    Critically Touched is built to evaluate television on a retrospective basis — i.e. how does a particular episode fit into the larger picture of the character arcs, season, and entire show. This is what my evaluation is primarily based on and is the unique angle the site takes in its analyses.

    It’s built this way because I (site creator) don’t particularly care for television that hits the Reset Button (a.k.a. the Star Trek: Voyager effect, which left scars as a youngster), offers little to no lasting relevance or insight of the characters, and is dark without being believable or earned.

    All of that sums up “The Pack”. I’ll grant it its broad, self-contained themes and inflated sense of self-importance, but even there it leaves big opportunities on the table (e.g. Cordelia).


  56. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on January 15, 2014.]

    Critically Touched is built to evaluate television on a retrospective basis — i.e. how does a particular episode fit into the larger picture of the character arcs, season, and entire show. This is what my evaluation is primarily based on and is the unique angle the site takes in its analyses.

    Right. I know this, and think it’s great. I hate to talk about the grades, but are these criteria also all that you are using to determine whether an episode is good or not? Does “The Pack” get a low grade simply because it doesn’t check these boxes?

    If so, that’s fine. It just means we have a different vision of what makes an episode good. I think an episode of television can be good even if its mostly disconnected to what is going on in the rest of the series. You wouldn’t have much to say about it in one of these retrospective reviews, but that doesn’t make it ineffective in my opinion.


  57. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 15, 2014.]

    I think an episode can be fun and have some worth outside of the analysis you’ll find here (e.g. I’m a fan/enjoy of certain individual episodes of ST:TNG), but I will still think of it as inferior to one that accomplishes that and has character relevance/insight. (Which is why you’ll never see ST:TNG reviewed here. Although the Blog could nicely fill that role.)

    “The Pack” gets a low grade for multiple reasons: (1) it doesn’t have any retrospective value (yes, a big factor in the reviews here), (2) it has too much self-importance — its “style” serves no purpose but to draw attention to itself — considering its irrelevance, (3) it offers little critical depth, and what is there is extremely broad, (4) its dark tone is not remotely earned, and (5) it misses big opportunities to resonate more.

    I give it props/points for a clever concept and some visually surprising individual scenes, but that’s about all I find appealing in it. Heck, summarizing it like this, I may have even scored it a tad high. 😉


  58. [Note: Sasukespecialman posted this comment on January 16, 2014.]

    Interestingly, I find I have enjoyed this episode more each and every time I have watched it. Once I have seen the series, plot heavy episodes or melodramatic episodes seem to appeal to me less and less and these pieces are all the more entertaining.

    I love the way the director let the scenes breath. The whole middle third is just a great watch, following the pack around as they cause havoc. All of it does a great job of walking the fine line between truly villainous behavior and typical high school bullying – which is why I can buy that no one sees anything too wrong until it goes overboard with the two eatings. The dodgeball game is the highlight for me and is shot wonderfully – even well acted.

    While I agree that series relevance is important and that there are missed opportunities here – in particular, not exploring Cordies pack – I think that early episodes in an episodic series need to be graded differently. Unlike a serialized work, there is no “hook” right from the beginning, so the writers get to explore the universe a bit.

    This episode is relevant from a couple perspectives, then. First, it establishes memory as a key component to the Buffyverse. Characters don’t just return to normal after experiencing things in this universe – they always remember their possessions, etc. Second, I watch this episode as an early experimentation in the kinds of visual and story-structuring techniques that would make Buffy so interesting in its later seasons. This was the first episode to try to shoot its scenes in a way reflecting the overall theme and topic of the episode, and I think it does a great job! Thus, I also disagree that the style serves “no purpose”; it is crucial for setting the mood.

    I don’t think this is an amazing episode, but I have it more as a 70-75 type piece. Had the writers and directors had a year of experience under their belts, it could have been even better. But comparing it to what came before and what comes after in season 1? It is a breath of fresh air.


  59. [Note: Callie posted this comment on January 19, 2014.]

    I can understand why this episode was reviewed the way it was up to a point, but the specific lack of follow-through mentioned I cannot agree on.

    The attempted rape: Buffy at this point is sixteen years old. Did Xander attempt to assault her sexually? Yes. Does a sixteen-year-old Buffy actually believe that’s what happened? I don’t think so. Buffy at 16 probably believes that this only happened because Xander was possessed, and even so, that Xander would never have actually done it. Do I think there should have been follow-through? Yes. In season six when Spike attempts to assault Buffy I do believe there should have been follow-through. Is it this episode’s fault that there wasn’t? To me, no. The lack of follow-through for the attempted rape lies squarely on the shoulders of late season six, to me. But this is solely my own opinion.

    The eating of Flutie: Principal Flutie is a high school principal. He works at a school that probably has a minimum of 300 students. Personally, when I attended high school I didn’t even know our dean’s name. He was a man. He had an office. He talked regularly to the boys who went out of their way to break rules, and he talked occasionally to the office staff. That was it. I’m not even sure he talked to the teachers on a regular basis. Expecting anyone to really mourn a high school principal is a little difficult for me to understand. Maybe Buffy should have mourned him a bit, but they didn’t exactly have a close relationship. And honestly, I cannot see either Willow or Xander knowing him anymore than to point out to someone, ‘Hey, there’s Principal Flutie.’ Thus, either of them mourning him really wouldn’t make much sense. Again, just my opinion

    The thing I don’t love about this episode is the fact that there’s never any follow up with ‘Kyle’s’ gang. Are they in prison for crimes of cannibalism? Are they reformed and leading productive Sunnydale lives? Who’s to say? The first two seasons have this problem crop up far too frequently.

    The Cordelia’s clique point was not one I’d thought of previously, but thinking of it now–huh. Interesting. That really could have been something.

    To me, this episode really does a good job of showing Xander’s dark side and Buffy’s inability to deal with him when he’s that way. Yes, the reset button was hit, but it wasn’t actually hit for Xander. Part of me wonders if this is the beginning of the occasional dark places his character goes to. The hyena dark places are all about taking what he wants and doing it cruelly. Actual Xander’s darker comments in seasons two and three have really similarly selfish motivations and come out in really similarly cruel ways.

    Also, I find this episode to be the most frightening episode of the first season by far.

    (And yes, I would have rated this episode higher. It was one of the best episodes of the first season for me. Probably 65-70.)


  60. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 23, 2014.]

    I don’t particularly care about plot driven episodes anymore either. I do care about character driven episodes though, and “The Pack” has no character development or any new character insight. At best it retreads things we already know.

    I point this out in my Season 1 Review, but there is a distinction between serialized plots and serialized character work. Although I am fond of the former, the latter is crucial for me to be emotionally invested in what’s happening every episode. Season 1 mostly lacks this quality, which is why it suffers so much, at least for me.

    I am very surprised you would use this episode as an example of the show’s memory. Buffy becomes pretty great at character memory eventually, but it’s rarely seen here in Season 1. “The Pack” is a one and done episode, plain and simple. The only time it’s referenced in the future is for a quick joke.

    As for the style of the episode, it’s simply not earned — it comes out of nowhere. Perhaps their attempt to mix it up here paid off on a technical level down the road, but it doesn’t help “The Pack” one bit.

    How I am supposed to get into the mood of an episode with no character relevance or emotional resonance? The episode fails to convince me why I should care.


  61. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 23, 2014.]

    One thing to always keep in mind when reading a Critically Touched review is that each episode is reviewed from a retrospective angle, so whether an episode has a meaningful impact elsewhere in the season or the show does factor into the evaluation. This site is about championing television that’s telling a larger character driven story — it’s the only kind of television I truly love, hence why I wanted to create a site that focuses on that.

    I didn’t find this episode frightening at all because it has no substantive lasting impact on any of the characters — the stakes simply aren’t there. “Passion”, on the other hand, is what I’d describe as frightening. That episode is scary because its tone is earned by the setup of prior episodes and stuff actually happens in it that matters.


  62. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on January 23, 2014.]

    Re: Kyle’s gang and their reaction to eating the school principal: There was a real-life Sunnydale High yearbook, and the four of them all get a mention. They all became vegans.

    The only thing I remember about this episode is that the evil zookeeper guy sort of looked like Tobias Funke.


  63. [Note: Callie posted this comment on January 24, 2014.]

    I do understand that to you there is no character development–but I don’t necessarily agree. I do agree that this has some of the least Buffy character development. But I really do think that there is Xander character development in this episode. This is the first time they play with the idea of Xander being dark. And they do often come back to this dark side of his character after this. (Now if you say this darkness wasn’t earned in comparison to later seasons, I completely agree. But for season one character development of anyone other than Buffy… well this is the episode, to me.)

    As I said, for the first season I find this to be the most frightening episode. Seeing the darkness, even darkness that was manufactured, in someone close to you can be the most scary thing you’ll ever experience. Obviously this is better done in season two with Angelus. But hyena!Xander came first and was scary, to me.

    I suppose the thing I really respect about this episode is that, unlike most of the other episodes of the first season, I get something new out of it every time I watch it. I’ve seen the series through three times, and the first season probably around eight times (I can never get past halfway through the sixth season). So, for me, finding something new in any episode in the first season is always a bit of a thrill.

    I’m not saying this is anywhere near my favorite episode. It wouldn’t be in my top 50 episodes–possibly not even top 75. But it also wouldn’t be in my bottom 25.


  64. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on April 28, 2014.]

    I don’t know the name of the song when they’re all walking pretentiously in the middle of the episode but it was awesome. Most of season 1’s music IS awesome. Again, I also agree that it should’ve gotten higher than a 57. And I got so sad because the pig was so cute and I liked Principal Flutey 😛


  65. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on August 14, 2014.]

    I think you refer to the scene when the pack is walking in slow-mo and then we cut to Xander who is listening to Buffy and Willow talking.

    The song is by the American metal-rockband Far with “Job’s Eyes”.


  66. [Note: Jewel posted this comment on August 25, 2015.]

    This is another episode I dread coming to (I never skip over any. It’s not that I particularly dislike it, but rather that too much of it is devoted to the plot. Although, come to think of it, I don’t even particularly dislike the plot. It’s certainly better than Praying Mantis Lady and I’m especially impressed with how much it resonates on a thematic level. There are also several standout scenes and bold endeavors, such as the amazing dodgeball scene, HyenaXander’s attempted rape of Buffy, and the eating of Principal Flutie. So I guess this review gets all the critical points spot-on — there’s just no lasting importance to be found in ‘The Pack.’ Too one-offish. Stop the dallying and get on with the main focus already!

    Oh, and I’m surprised no one has mentioned how lame the Pak kids and their dialogue actually are and atrociousness of their acting. I see comments here praising their hyena antics, which… okay, I guess. Of course, I don’t really see where acting like an animal would be that hard. But when they’re saying their lines?

    “How’s Herbert?”



  67. [Note: Big Time James posted this comment on December 10, 2015.]

    Love this episode, classic, deserves an A.

    This “reset button” talk makes no sense. The impact of this episode goes beyond one “joke” years later… the principal is DEAD, he does not come back. He is replaced, and his being eaten is referenced in future episodes many times. Ergo, no “reset button.”

    One of my favorite things about this episode was the principle being eaten. This show went to an extreme very early that no shows at the time did, and that few shows now will (and perhaps none ostensibly aimed at a teen audience). To the degree that any series does, it is thanks to BtVS paving the way.

    Me, I like extremes. We are talking about a horror/comedy show. Show me the horror. If no one dies, then there are no stakes. Show me that this is a dark and dangerous place. Show me that the Hellmouth is here. Otherwise, none of it means anything.

    And that goes for Xander’s “rape” attempt as well. I don’t like that he did that, it was ugly, but story-wise I am glad that the show went there.

    And while it was horrible, he was possessed by a demon. I really do not need the characters to anguish about this incident for episode on end afterward when it was beyond his control. That’s the kind of crap that ruined the show over the last 2 seasons.

    As for the episode being “superficial,” that makes no sense either. Maybe you found the metaphors/allegories too “broad” or “obvious,” but by definition an allegory is NOT superficial. And personally, I think that there is much to talk about here in terms of allegory. Just the fact that the episode aligns bullying (and rape) with non-human animal behavior is interesting, and makes sense. There are ways that humans rise above other animals, obviously, but there are also ways that humans slip and exhibit some of the same negative behaviors as “lower” animals.


  68. Having come late to the boxed set, and working through series 1, I’m a little surprised by the low rating
    Not to rehearse all the arguments but I thought the comparison with Cordelia’s pack was clear but very nicely understated. Given that one of the principle criticisms of the episode is its heavy-handed use of allegory, it seems a shame not to give credit for the show’s restraint in not hammering home the ‘girl-pack’ element.

    Oh, one nice point: when the pack was on the prowl reminded me of a weekend camp I helped to lead once when five 11-12 year old boys were outnumbered by 20+ girls. The boys moved exactly like this pack – but for their own protection in this case!


  69. Does anyone else find it interesting that Giles is quick to accept Xander’s change in behavior as “normal teen boy aggression”? He is very dismissive of Buffy’s concerns and only becomes alarmed after Willow enters the library and mentions that the school mascot has been eaten.


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