Buffy 2×15: Phases

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 01/27/1998]

I described “Innocence” [2×14] as the storytelling “blueprint” for how Buffy the Vampire Slayer wanted to tell its stories going forward. Its influence can immediately be felt when watching “Phases”, an episode that very easily could have ended up on the ‘uninvolving Season 1 entry’ pile if not for taking advantage of its opportunities at attaining emotional resonance. There are two key elements of “Innocence” [2×14] that “Phases” carries over: a change to an important character that is not ‘fixed’ by the end of the episode and genuine emotional stakes that derive from the setup of prior episodes.

In the case of the first carryover, the werewolf Buffy and Giles are hunting turns out to be Oz, who is quickly becoming an important recurring character. Like Angel before him, Oz goes through a change and has an experience that doesn’t disappear by the end of the episode. This is more like it! In the case of the second carryover, there is real tension generated when Buffy is morally struggling with whether to kill the werewolf or simply stop it. The tension and emotional resonance exists because it parallels Buffy’s recent experience with Angelus and her inability to kill him when she had the chance. (“Instead of not protecting Theresa from the werewolf, I was able to not protect her from something just as bad”, Buffy says.) These two qualities elevate what would have likely been a pedestrian episode into a very good one.

Even better is that the aftermath of “Innocence” [2×14], in a more literal sense, is making itself felt time and time again in “Phases”: in the background, Angelus is creeping me out playing deadly psychological games with Buffy and slowly killing off her classmates. This is also used as a way to start ramping up yet more tension and setup for the future! The only notable hindrance in “Phases” is the character of Cain, who’s portrayed with a mediocre-at-best performance by Jack Conley. Oh, and the cheesy werewolf costume doesn’t help either.

“Phases” is a surprisingly introspective episode that uses the nature of the werewolf to drive home its core messages. What is this nature, you ask? Well, Giles has the answer: “You see, the werewolf is such a potent extreme representation of our inborn animalistic traits … And it acts on pure instinct. No conscience, predatory, and aggressive.” Later, Cain will add that werewolves “are a sucker for the whole sexual heat thing — can sense it miles away.”

Oz becoming a werewolf is a fabulous allegory for a guy having an adolescent sexual awakening, which parallels and comments on Buffy’s own experiences throughout Season 2 thus far — “When She Was Bad” [2×01] being Buffy’s more emotionally-weighted take on it. At some point during adolescence there are suddenly all of these new, powerful, even primal sexual instincts and urges to contend with. Dealing with this change is the tricky part, as doing it the wrong way can have disastrous consequences.

With this in mind, “Phases” is apt to ask the question: what’s the healthiest way to handle these potent urges? There are certainly several approaches to consider. Should they be allowed to run wild? Should they be completely repressed? Or should they be controlled? “Phases” not only asks these questions, it also explores them through three characters: Angelus, Larry, and Oz, respectively, with the results guiding Buffy towards the healthiest path forward.

Let’s start with Angelus, who is now loose on the streets of Sunnydale, skulking around in the dark. More specifically, he stalks a classmate of Buffy’s and turns her into a vampire. Angelus is an extreme representation of what happens if we allow our “inborn animalistic traits”, as Giles described the werewolf, to run wild without constraint, conscience, or thought. With no conscience, all consequences can be easily ignored in favor of getting off, something Angelus very much achieves with his deadly games. We’ll get to see more of this perspective soon, in “Passion” [2×17]. This is the ultimate example of the purely utilitarian view of the sexual urge.

As a bit of an aside, I have to single out the scene where Angelus stalks Buffy’s classmate at night. The way it starts is creepy enough, but the scene gets considerably creepier once Angelus shows himself. The subtle detail of Angelus spinning that little flower petal adds so much horror to the scene. There’s just something about Angelus’ pale face and hollow grin contrasting against that bright yellow petal — excellently directed! This kind of scene subtly builds tension for the episodes to come (“Passion” [2×17], the most), and is one that really doesn’t draw attention to itself yet contributes to making the “big” moments to come genuinely big.

Okay then, so if we don’t let our passions have free reign, should we do the opposite? Should we do everything we can to repress these urges, even going so far as denying they even exist? Should we essentially try to “kill” them? Enter Larry, who we’ve seen thus far in Buffy portrayed as a gross horndog who goes out of his way to make crude sexual jokes about girls. The thing is, when someone acts out like Larry has been, it’s usually because they have their own internal issues and are massively overcompensating for them.

In Larry’s case, thanks to a hilarious misunderstanding by Xander, we find out that he is gay. Larry’s attempt to completely repress his own instincts has resulted in lashing out at everyone around him, particularly the girls at the school in a forced attempt to fit in and be normal. Once he admits the truth to Xander, Larry says that a weight has been lifted off his shoulders and by the end of the episode he’s no longer seen staring up girls’ skirts and being a complete lunkhead. The werewolf hunter Cain can also be added to the repression camp, as he tries to kill the werewolf rather than control it. So, the lesson here? Repression is not the answer!

So what’s left then? How do we deal with our sexual urges in a constructive manner? This is where Oz discovering he’s a werewolf comes in. I see three key steps in dealing with the situation. The first is to simply acknowledge that a change has occurred — to be aware that we can be powerfully yanked around by our urges if we let them. The second is to recognize the danger these urges can pose, and to acknowledge the potential fallout from acting on them rashly. The third and final step — the hardest — is learning how to responsibly control the urges, and to try to redirect that energy into something constructive rather than destructive. What Oz goes through in “Phases” hits all three of these, um, phases, from his initial shock of waking up naked in the woods to worrying if he killed anyone while in wolf mode to submitting himself to be locked up around full moons. Giles’ statement, “The full moon appears to bring out some of our darkest qualities,” resonates on a whole new level now.

This, of course, has Buffy feeling not-so-great through most of the episode as she weighs the similarities between how she let her impulses get the better of her in “Surprise” [2×13] against the nature of the werewolf here. Buffy thinks that she acted like a werewolf — attracted to Angel’s sexual energy and all — and “killed” him for it. While there is a lesson to be learned for Buffy in all of this, she also has to realize that what happened to Angel was in no way her fault. That realization is very much a work in progress.

An important distinction is made between the werewolf, who is only an animal with no ability to control its behavior three nights a month, and Angelus, who is an acting like an animal all the time and kills with a song in his heart. Buffy appropriately struggles with identifying the distinction between the two, and whether one deserves to be saved over the other. What’s the solution here? Well, since Oz’s situation is very temporary, it can be controlled, thus allowing him to continue living a relatively normal life and avoid ever putting himself or others at risk. Buffy offers Oz the opportunity to control his situation. If he does, she gracefully lets him live. But if he didn’t… she’d no doubt be forced to put him down. Cain, of course, isn’t interested in offering his victims this choice because he’s pretty much a self-serving utilitarian-based person (and a bit sexist to boot). This all metaphorically reinforces the notion that Buffy shouldn’t try to “kill” her sexual urges but instead gain control over them.

Angelus is a different beast, though; he’s the deadly embodiment of the consequences set loose from Buffy indulging those very sexual urges. This is no more apparent than in an exchange between Buffy and Cain. Cain says, “If that thing hurts anyone, it’s on your head. I hope you can live with that.” Buffy solemnly responds, “I live with that every day.” Take note how the werewolf doesn’t end up killing anybody in the episode, but Angelus does. This is the show nudging Buffy further towards her commitment to stopping Angelus for good, and that there is a big difference between him and Oz — i.e. running wild instead of controlled.

All of this ties right into Willow’s attempts to push Oz into taking their relationship to the next level. After Buffy’s recent experience, though, perhaps Willow shouldn’t be so quick to tap into that well. Oz’s restraint is something to be commended here, particularly in contrast with his newly fresh werewolf identity. Willow wants Oz to “hurry” up the process. Her reasoning? “I don’t want to be the only girl at school without a boyfriend.” Beyond making Buffy feel bad, it again shows Willow to not have the best motive for wanting to be closer to Oz, which is something he called her out on in “Innocence” [2×14].

Where Oz is dedicating the time to get to know Willow, the person, Willow seems more concerned with status and satisfying her own urges. This is precisely why they don’t share their first kiss until Willow is able to finally view Oz with clear eyes and accept him for who he is, rather than who she wants him to be. Note that she kisses him, not the other way around, which feels perfect considering their interaction thus far. Remember what Oz told her in “Innocence” [2×14]? He said, “See, in my fantasy when I’m kissing you, you’re kissing me.” And now here we sweetly are.

There’s a running thread in “Phases” that sees various characters wondering why other characters couple together. Willow asks re Xander and Cordelia, “what does he see in her, anyway?” This is something Xander’s asked many times in regard to Buffy and Angel, respectively (and yes, the male/female analogs being swapped definitely brings to mind “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19]). The answer to Willow’s question, of course, couldn’t be made any clearer when the scene abruptly cuts away to Xander and Cordelia frantically making out in a car. Lust is the clear answer here, and not much else — certainly not love at this point. This is especially humorous considering the location: “Lover’s Lane”. “Luster’s Lane” might be more appropriate though. 😉

It can be difficult to be the outsider who can see that a relationship won’t work, which is why we see everyone opining on each others’ relationships in “Phases”. Xander says, “All I’m saying is she’s not safe with him. If it were up to me…” to which Buffy aptly responds, “Xander… it’s not up to you.” All we have control over are our own choices, so rather than trying to convince others to change it’s generally more effective to instead focus on avoiding their mistakes and setting an example that would be in their best interest to emulate. Well, unless you’re Xander and you do a love spell to accomplish that change, but that’s the next story (“Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” [2×16]).

The final scene sums up “Phases” quite nicely. Oz tells Willow that “It’s not every day you find out you’re a werewolf. It’s fairly freaksome.” Willow responds, “Yeah, it’s a complication”, but that “You’re nice, you’re funny, you don’t smoke”, which is in his favor. Willow also references her period, which is obviously a less extreme parallel to what Oz is going to have to go through now. But it ultimately brings us back to what “Phases” is all about: adolescence, sexual development, and consequences. It’s a solid, well-executed outing offering sharp character work, thematic depth, and only a few rough edges (Cain being the roughest).


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Obligatory comment about Janus’ (and “Halloween” [2×06]’s) influence on Season 2. Remember the descriptors of Janus? A “division of self” and the Roman god of “beginnings and transitions”? These seem extremely applicable to “Phases”, don’t they? 🙂
+ Oz noticing the moving eyes in the cheerleading trophy. Subtle, yet amazing, callback to “Witch” [1×03]! It’s also a nice little reminder of how the show has moved beyond the struggles of childhood — they seem small to the characters now.
+ Oz’s comment about most movies unfortunately being like popcorn: you forget about them when they’re done. I’m with you Oz, I’m with you. 🙂
+ A funny bunny reference! Pre-Anya!
+ Giles getting extremely excited at the prospect of learning something new about werewolves. “One of the classics!”
+ Xander’s “moon pie” joke cracking Giles up — just not something you see every day. The girls both roll their eyes. Hah.
+ The gym scene. Watching Larry get thrown over Buffy’s shoulder for grabbing her ass is fantastic.
+ Surprisingly nice effect of the werewolf transforming back into Oz.
+ Oz’s conversation with his aunt about his cousin being a werewolf. The matter-of-fact tone of it is absolutely hilarious.
+ Xander’s reference to “The Pack” [1×06]. It’s only vaguely applicable here, but it’s always nice to see the show remember where it came from. There’s even brief “Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01] (the globe) and “The Puppet Show” [1×09] references too!
+ There’s something incredibly satisfying about Xander, of all people, being the one to bring the gay out of Larry. The awkwardness of that moment for Xander feels so, so deserved.
+ Willow’s primary werewolf suspect, based on behavioral history, is Buffy! Haha.
+ Alyson Hannigan is a pretty good screamer. Props to her.
+ Oz got shot in “What’s My Line? Pt. 2” [2×10] and now he gets shot again as a werewolf, this time by Willow. Poor guy!
+ Buffy bending the entire barrel of Cain’s gun. Mega symbolic, obviously, but mostly just awesome.
+ Not the most convincing werewolf costume.
+ Oz’s final line: “A werewolf in love.” Just no.


[Score]

90/100

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41 thoughts on “Buffy 2×15: Phases”

  1. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 21, 2007.]

    Gotta love Willow when she is nervous and awkwardly trying not to be awkward:

    WIllow: Oh There, i have my friend… so …I will go to her.

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  2. [Note: Tamora posted this comment on September 21, 2007.]

    God, I loved the scene with Larry and Xander! I mean, the moment Larry started talking about how they’d run him outta town… I knew, and it was beautiful. 🙂 And at the end, how Larry walks by and just pats Xander on the back. Buffy’s like “That was weird,” Xander gets all defensive, and she restates – “I mean he didn’t try to look up my skirt.”

    Lovely lovely lovely.

    I also adored the phone conversation with Oz and his aunt. “Is Jordy a werewolf? Uh-huh. And how long has that been going on?” So bluntly Oz-like. I love the guy.

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  3. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 14, 2007.]

    Gotta love this episode, there´s a lot of great scenes and wonderful dialogue. I just love Oz here, the scene where he talks with his aunt Maureen is amazing. I love him with Willow, so cute together. I think Willow, in every relationship, gives away her heart and soul, she loves the other person unconditionally.

    One more thing, I was watching this yesterday and I noticed the following dialogue:

    Larry: (refering to Willow) … Let me guess. That little innocent schoolgirl thing is just an act, right?

    Oz: Yeah, Yeah, she´s actually an evil mastermind. It´s fun.

    I don´t know if this is any foreshawdowing but I remembered Dark Wilow right away.

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  4. [Note: Buckbeak posted this comment on July 6, 2009.]

    I think buffy’s sudden onslaught of anti male comments are obviously a reaction to what had happened with Angel, who has clearly returned to his inner beast. this would seem out of place coming out of her mouth at any other time, but at this moment of course, that would be exactly how she would feel.

    loving your reviews by the way! am a newcomer.

    Like

  5. [Note: Ida posted this comment on July 26, 2009.]

    What I don’t like about this episode is that the werewolfs have never been mentioned before. The hunter had killed a lot of them, which means that they have been around for a while. And then all of the sudden they start attacking and killing people.

    But except for that, I like this episode. I love Willow and Oz together!

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  6. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 26, 2009.]

    The hunter’s been going all over the world for them. They could be quite common on a *global* scale but very rare individually.

    (Now *this* is a huge hole in the Slayer mythos. The numbers just don’t add up: either vampires are really common, in which case one Slayer is not enough and humans are extinct, or they aren’t, in which case any one Slayer will hardly ever meet a vampire. Since they can reproduce exponentially this actually requires the vampires to consciously control their numbers in order that they neither overrun the earth nor become rare enough that they can’t be slain. However, this is a hole I can live with: it’s a hole which is ubiquitous in vampire tales anyway.)

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

    My favorite thing was the scene in the school right before the Buffy/Xander embrace in the funeral home:

    Willow: It used to be so much easier to tell if a boy liked you. He’d punch you on the

    arm, then run back to his friends.

    Buffy: Yeah, those were the days.

    At which point, Xander comes along and punches Buffy on the arm, and she gives him this great puzzled, pensive look.

    I waited for seven hopeless seasons for Xander and Buffy to get together, so I gotta take what I can get.

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  8. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on March 10, 2010.]

    IMO I liked this werewolf costume/grime more than the S3/4 outfit. It’s more wolfy. The newer looked just like a heary hellbeast. Also the werewolf grime in AtS-S5 was good. It reminded me of that great cult werewolf film “An American Werewolf in London”.

    BTW, I liked the episode

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  9. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on June 29, 2010.]

    Willow is so cute I wanna die when she says something like “Well, he better hurry, I don’t wanna be the only girl in school without a boyfriend” Sees Buffy’s face. “Oh, I’m such an idiot. Do you want me to go away?”

    Reminds me of their meeting:

    BUFFY: Uh, Hi! Willow, right?

    WILLOW: Why? I-I mean, hi! Uh, did you want me to move?

    LOLZ!

    *Quotes from Buffyverse Dialog Database.

    I love Oz’s character, so I love this episode that is almost completely about him and Willow.

    Like

  10. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on July 28, 2010.]

    I finally put two and two together and realised that the werewolf hunter, Kane, is the same guy who played, Sahjhan, in “Angel” the series. Jack Conley.

    Anyway, another below-par episode in the inconsistent season 2.

    Oz being the werewolf is good and his phone conversation to his aunt is priceless. Theresa is pretty good looking too and the same age as Sarah.

    The hunter got stale. Although his response to Buffy and Giles being in lover’s lane together was great.

    Like

  11. [Note: Seán posted this comment on August 21, 2010.]

    The one thing that bothers me about this episode is how Xander stakes Theresa in the funeral home, the funeral staff aren’t suspicious and don’t hear anything and no-one comments on Theresa being dust on the floor. The writers never put any thought into the deaths of minor characters. Plus the werewolf looked ridiculous although the CGI on the morphing into werewolf was fantastic!

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  12. [Note: David posted this comment on September 8, 2010.]

    Willow: What’s his number? Oh yeah, 1-800-I’m dating a skanky ho.

    That has got to be one of the best Willow lines in the whole series!

    Like

  13. [Note: Hollee posted this comment on August 16, 2011.]

    This is my absolute favourite Buffy episode, just wanted to state that to start. It contains my favourite line of the series (Larry: “Oh, let me guess. That little innocent schoolgirl thing is just, uh, just an act, right?” Oz: “Yeah, yeah, she’s actually an evil mastermind. It’s fun.”) as well as one that makes me really angry that they left in (the a fore mentioned werewolf in love line that irks me to no end). Anyway, my sister and I were just re watching the episode, and there was one thing that really annoyed us: Willow falls and gets her bright yellow overalls all dirty, then they are magically COMPLETELY clean when she enters the library.

    Just as a final note, Seth Green is AWESOME 🙂

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  14. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on November 12, 2011.]

    Another parallel, and I believe this is a huge piece of foreshadowing. Buffy says – when she believes that the werewolf has killed Theresa – ”I can’t believe I let that thing get away. I should’ve killed it when I had the chance.” In “Passion”, she says to Giles: ”I’m sorry I couldn’t kill him [Angelus] for you … for her … when I had the chance.”

    Like

  15. [Note: nitramneek posted this comment on December 6, 2011.]

    In response to #7 Nix above. This subject has been dealt with in the movie Daybreakers.In the movie, the earth has been overrun by vampires,nearly making both vampires and humans extinct.Very bleak,but very good.Just thought i would let you know.

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  16. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 16, 2011.]

    This episode is palpably one that focuses on Men and and there treatment of women. Most prominently displayed through Larry and the way he paws over Buffy and the other girls during a self defence class also Cain the werewolf hunter; his statement ‘this is what happens when a woman does a man’s job’. This is a poignant expression of woman power from Joss. What the shows underlying mission statement is; a blonde little woman is having a show down with a killer and she is the one who emerges victorious. Much like in Showtime from season seven. The outcome on both situations is that a woman trumps both of them, this woman being Buffy. While Larry is closest gay he is acting out on society’s stereo type of women whereas Cain it seems is a believer in his views. This theme is made more poignant when Giles says that werewolves are ‘potent, extreme representation of our inborn, animalistic traits’ Note that this description does not signify a sex, it is Buffy who supplies that it is like any red blooded male. – I want to point out that Ms French from Teacher’s Pet would fit this description, as well in some sense does Faith. This theme though is slightly subverted as it comes to light that Oz, who is most gentle and kind hearted man on the show is the werewolf, which damages the feminist in some extent.

    The character fluency is on top notch this episode as well as the comedy value. Like any horror flick Xander and Cordelia are attacked by a werewolf while making out! A quintessential derision of an old horror movie! Buffy reporting on gossip she found out to Giles is genius as well as Giles wanting to knock on windows to ask if anyone has seen anything…naive Giles is the best! Xander and Larry’s discussion is a great subplot, Xander talking about the time he was possessed by a hyena and Larry’s admission of being gay is light hearted. A pretty solid episode humour wise.

    Oz’s reaction to him being the werewolf was perfect, he was just so Oz about it. His inherent coolness and laid back approach was spot on. What i didn’t like is that we didn’t see him really come to terms with it apart from the brief conversation with Willow about Giles having a big globe and that three days out of a month he will be baying at the moon.

    The episode had a feel of simplicity to it, it never felt contrived or derided. I liked that WIllow was amenable to Oz’s situation. The fact that Oz being a werewolf binds him to the world of Slayer, solidifies his existence within the group. I for one am pleased it isn’t Oz who is killed by Angelus! Sorry Jenny fans but Oz is way better. I like that he isn’t evil.

    On a final note i agree with Oz when he discusses movies of today; a lot of them are pretty forgettable these days! Nice touch writers. Angel dominated the show from the back row, Theresa’s death was his presence and i felt the fear he was emitting, Resonating with Buffy when she felt guilty about her death. Xander’s confrontation with his feelings for Buffy were present once more when they went to visit Theresa’s corpse. Continuity is always a most in shows!

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  17. [Note: x factor posted this comment on December 16, 2011.]

    The hug between Buffy and Xander was all about comfort and friendship. But the little look after and the awkward silence? Those arent the kinds of moments that i’ve shared with any of my opposite sex friends. Not saying that Buffy wanted to jump his bones or anyting, but if Xander had leaned in for a kiss…very possible that Buffy would have responded.

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  18. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 17, 2011.]

    I’m not so sure, Xander and Buffy were never destined to be, even when SMG and Nick asked Joss if they could get together the idea was shot down.

    If she had responded she would have apologised and regretted the decision almost immediately not simply because Xander is her best friend but she is all to aware of Willow’s conflicting feelings for him then of course there is Cordelia and Buffy may just be reeling from her bad situation with Angel. She’s feeling emotional and worried and alone.

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  19. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 17, 2011.]

    OH and i forgot to say that although i do agree that the scene is a prominent one, it highlights Buffy being slowly ready or coming to terms with killing Angel?

    Plus Xander starts to realise he has escalating feelings for WIllow particularly in Becoming pt 2 when she is laying in the hospital face. Cordelia was far from his mind.

    Like

  20. [Note: thebuffster posted this comment on August 1, 2012.]

    Everything time I rewatch I discover something new! It’s so great(: anyways joss said that he was contemplating making Xander gay and I thought that convo between Xander and Larry was a bit for foreshadowing in case they did take Xander in that direction. Obviously they didn’t so set a thought.

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  21. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 18, 2012.]

    Yeah, this is a good episode. I like the Xander/Buffy discussion. I guess I never really shipped them but it would have been interesting. I don’t think it was meant to be. Interesting that Joss was thinking about making Xander gay but he took it to Willow. Hmmmmmmm…. I have my own theories.

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  22. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on December 20, 2012.]

    I love how they made it look like Angel/Oz would get into a cliche vampire/werewolf fight, but nope 🙂

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  23. [Note: Sarah M posted this comment on September 24, 2013.]

    I do wish the concept of werewolves had gotten more build-up in previous episodes (and that Oz had started out a regular dude and been bitten over the course of the show). Apart from that, solid ep. I still have a soft spot for Willow/Oz after all these years.

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  24. [Note: Monica posted this comment on September 24, 2013.]

    I was always under the impression Oz was just recently turned into a werewolf. Was it ever established that he was a werewolf since Inca Mummy Girl?

    And I agree with you that it would have been better if werewolves had some importance before an episode where an important character becomes one. I’m pretty sure Giles mentions werewolves in the pilot and that was it. However, had there been something centered around werewolves before, this episode would have been entirely different because it otherwise would have seemed like a useless retelling of a mystery werewolf until it’s revealed it’s Oz.

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  25. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on January 25, 2014.]

    XANDER: I’m just saying, she’s not safe with him. If it were up to him?

    BUFFY: Xander? It’s not up to you.

    Way to go, Buffy– getting to the core of Xander’s flaws in six words.

    Cain sort of reminds me of Caleb in that he’s a vaguely Christian jackass whose misogyny gets in the way of his character. Missed opportunity, especially when you consider that later we get characters like Parker and Warren who get actual personalities to go with their sexism.

    Still a pretty good episode– the scene with Larry and Xander in the locker room ALWAYS cracks me up.

    Like

  26. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    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.

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  27. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    Wow. If I remember correctly that’s a significant score increase. I haven’t actually read the new review yet, but I’m interested to see why you now see it as so much better than before.

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  28. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    Now I have read the review, and may I be the first to say that it is amazing and you justified the increase well! I shall keep in mind your points when re-watching it. I’m somewhat ashamed to say I thought the scenes with Larry were just for humour, but now they’re thematically significant as well.

    It astonishes me how you manage to plumb new depths out of this series ten odd years since it went off the air. Kudos.

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  29. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on February 19, 2014.]

    Wonderful to read the updated review Mike – bang-up job.

    The final ten episodes of the second season collectively make up what I think is unquestionably the strongest run of the entire show. This was when Mutant Enemy really stood up and showed that they knew how to do more than just craft great individual episodes – they could concieve a great arc, and execute it beautifully.

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  30. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on February 19, 2014.]

    Wow!!! I am loving these updated reviews, Mike. I still think a B is right for this episode, but I love the incredibly detailed analysis you’re providing in your upgraded reviews.

    I especially love your pointing out just how creepy Angelus is, and how much atmosphere he provides, even when he isn’t the episode that much. He’s like a dark cloud hovering over the entire proceedings.

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  31. [Note: Wim posted this comment on February 19, 2014.]

    If Larry would like ‘some of that Buffy and Willow action’, that would be a (lesbian) gay fantasy. Since Larry is gay, that would make his remark a double entendre.

    Like

  32. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 19, 2014.]

    In the original review, I recall there was a comment about how you weren’t thrilled by how many of the characters were becoming supernatural in some way. Since there was no mention of that in the new review, am I to take it that your stance has changed?

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  33. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on February 19, 2014.]

    Yep. I honestly don’t care about that at this point. It’s all about what’s done with the characters — how the supernatural is used to inform them.

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  34. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on February 25, 2014.]

    Great re-review, Mike. You´re making me wanna watch Buffy right away!
    Can´t wait to hear your new take on “Passion”.

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  35. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 6, 2014.]

    I was reading your pros section and thought about how creepy it is about Willow’s lovers getting shot all the time. Oz gets shot twice–and while I’m pretty sure this isn’t foreshadowing considering the writers hadn’t thought that far yet, it does seem so in retrospect. Thinking about Tara getting shot to death. Just…Gah. I have chills.
    A weird thought… Just imagine Dark Willow and Angelus teaming up?
    Now, THAT would be hell on earth and that would be something I’d like to see! LOL.
    Sorry for my random fangirl moments. I just can’t stop x).
    Another extremely detailed, thought provoking review. Way to go, Mike!

    (P.S: Sorry for my spam commenting bwahah.)

    Like

  36. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 6, 2014.]

    Lydia, have you considered creating an account on the forums? Since you’re so into the show, you’d be right at home there.

    Your comments about Tara’s death interest me. There’s a running gag with Xander’s girlfriends that they turn out to be demons (even Cordelia becomes one) and Buffy’s relationships always end disastrously at the fault of the guy (even minor characters like Scott and Parker fit this pattern) so this could be a theme for Willow, as well. Nice thoughts!

    Like

  37. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on May 6, 2014.]

    You could see the running theme with Willow’s lovers as being that they get shot, or that they’re nice, good people (more so than Buffy and Xander’s romantic partners).

    Either way, the trend was unfortunately broken in Season 7.

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  38. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 7, 2014.]

    Yeah I totally agree! This reminds me of the end of the Praying Mantis episode when all three of them are reflecting on how their love lives are doomed. *sigh*

    And I’d LOVE to make an account on the forums! I just don’t know how to… I’ve never been on a forum before. I’ll definitely try making one, though!

    Like

  39. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 2, 2015.]

    It must have felt like theses characters were being tossed into a grinder and sliced up to anyone who was watching the initial airings. After what Buffy endures in the previous episode, seeing another character have to struggle with something that’s ultimately unresolved must have been heartbreaking. Yet, it’s why this series is so brilliant: it’ll challenge you. It’s not going coddle you and make you believe everything will be okay. It’s not afraid to tell the stories that need to be told whether or not the audience likes it. The characters struggle, and struggle, and struggle some more. Through it all they grow and become richer, more complete people. That’s good storytelling and that’s good television.

    Like

  40. [Note: Random posted this comment on April 14, 2015.]

    I feel obligated to give a shout-out to one of the great unsung icons of the Buffyerse. I speak, of course, of that Bronze employee who was sweeping up the glass as Buffy and Cain held a loud conversation about werewolves right next to her. Whatever she was thinking or feeling, she just shoved it down and kept on sweeping up glass because, well, what else can a person do in those circumstances?

    Like

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