Buffy 4×19: New Moon Rising

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Marti Noxon | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 05/02/2000]

Oz returns to Sunnydale (yay, it’s Oz!) to find an oddly conflicted Willow. This is an episode that just had to happen and it’s pulled off pretty well. Tara and Oz meet and Willow has to decide now which way she wants to go: back to Oz or continue with Tara. Since Oz left Sunnydale a bit abruptly back in “Wild at Heart” [4×06] there’s been a lack of closure in his relationship with Willow, and this episode gives us that closure in a pretty satisfying way. It also manages to elevate Willow and Tara’s relationship to a new level. Some other important bits happen as a result of Willow’s conflict, including both Buffy and Riley coming to understand each other’s point of view on demons. This leads to Buffy’s not-so-complete disclosure of her relationship with Angel, which I say qualifies as an elevation in their relationship as well.

It all begins when Willow brings Tara along to a Scooby meeting discussing Adam’s whereabouts. In the middle of this, Oz appears in the doorway and shocks everyone. As soon as Tara hears that it’s Oz she disappointingly says, “Oz…,” and then Buffy looks over Willow’s way with this questioned look on her face. Oz comes in and is very respectful towards Willow, not expecting anything right away. He walks in, politely asks her if they can chat later, and then heads out. I really liked this entire scene and felt Willow’s confusion, like “what…uhhh…right…huh?”

When they get together to ‘chat’ later, Oz takes her outside to show that it’s a full moon, and he’s not a wolf! Go Oz! Willow’s reaction is really interesting though. At first she is absolutely thrilled and hugs him, but as Oz hold her she begins to notice it doesn’t feel quite right anymore. She then backs off a bit and says, “it’s wonderful for you.” Willow isn’t the same person she was when Oz left; a lot has happened including her separation from Buffy and the Scoobies, which coincides with her growing relationship with Tara.

It turns out the reason Oz returned is because he thinks he has his wolfy nature under control now and can give Willow what she needs. Interesting side-note, it just hit me that Spike also left town to better himself for a girl — interesting. After an evening of chatting in which Willow never reveals her feelings towards Tara, Oz feels like he’s got a good shot at hooking up again with her. Tara comes to the door when Willow’s in the bathroom, sees Oz there, and basically runs off. This makes Oz mighty curious for a few seconds but just dismisses the oddness, probably assuming that it’s just Tara’s personality.

I am switching topics to Buffy for a bit because what her and Riley go through is connected to what’s happening with Willow. While patrolling Riley begins expressing his observations of Oz’s return. Buffy says, “The thing is before that, they were doing great. I mean, she was totally dealing with Oz being a werewolf.” Riley responds in a very surprised manner saying “Whoa, wait. Oz is a werewolf, and Willow was dating him!? … You’re kidding me. Gotta say I’m surprised. I didn’t think Willow was that kind of girl … Into dangerous guys. She seems smarter than that.” These comments obviously tick Buffy off, because she knows that she’s the kind of girl who gravitates towards “bad boys” and Riley’s comments likely rub off as an indirect insult of her relationship with Angel, which Riley doesn’t even know about yet. Buffy’s response supports this theory, “Yeah, well love isn’t logical, Riley. It’s not like you can be Mister Joe Sensible about it all the time. God knows I haven’t been.”

I can’t help but be reminded of Spike’s speech in “Lover’s Walk” [3×08] , “Love isn’t brains, children, it’s blood, blood screaming inside you to work its will.” This issue between Buffy and Riley brings out some very interesting discussion about the nature of demons. Buffy is so used to dealing with nicer demons that she’s forgotten what it’s like for someone finding it out for the first time. She was surprised when she initially found out that a vampire can be good in “Angel” [1×07] . It’s safe to say she was ‘thrown,’ which is a word that is used in this episode.

The next morning Buffy and Riley wake up (in his bed) together and she is angry at all things Riley because of his comment the previous night. This squabble feels very realistic to how a real couple would interact. Riley says, “Okay, I’m up less than a minute, and somehow I’ve managed to piss you off.” Buffy tries to tell him that it isn’t as simple as “Demons bad, people good.” She even goes as far as saying “It’s just…different with different demons. There are creatures – vampires, for example — that aren’t evil at all.” This is obviously a reference to Angel and is further evidence she was reminded of Angel when Riley made the comment about Willow.

All of this discussion is a wonderful lead-in to when Buffy finds out Willow is in love with Tara. Buffy walks into her dorm to find Willow sitting on her bed (which is a rarity these days). When asked by Willow if she’s okay, Buffy doesn’t want to chat and would rather redirect the conversation to Oz’s return. In previous years Buffy was much more open with Willow — things have definitely changed. Anyway, Willow is trying to explain to a confused Buffy why the situation is ‘complicated.’ When Buffy still isn’t “getting it,” she sighs and says, “It’s complicated…because of Tara.” Buffy amusingly responds with “You mean Tara has a crush on Oz?…No…” It’s at this point when it finally sinks in.

The reactions Buffy has is not surprising in the slightest. If my best friend announced he was seriously gay, I’d definitely back up a few steps myself. For one, it’s simply a huge surprise. Additionally, I’d be concerned he thought I was hot in some way, which honestly would be a bit disturbing to me because I’m not homosexual. So when Buffy reacts exactly like I would, I can definitely understand what she’s feeling. After the initial shock/confusion and backing away has passed, though, Buffy is more understanding, because she knows Willow is still her best friend.

The problem now is that Willow is placed in an impossible situation of having to choose between Oz, who she still greatly cares about, and Tara, who is naturally trying to be supportive but is very obvious in showing how she feels. Willow says, “I don’t wanna hurt anyone, Buffy.” Buffy’s response is the hard truth: “No matter what, somebody’s gonna get hurt. And the important thing is, you just have to be honest, or it’s gonna be a lot worse.” This all leads to the Oz/Tara confrontation scene in the hallway. Oz smells Willow’s sweater on Tara and finds out about their relationship even though Tara tries to keep out of everything. This entire situation gets Oz so flustered he starts to somehow transform into the wolf (is this a residual side-effect of repressing the wolf during the nights?), chases Tara, then gets tagged by Riley and the Initiative because they think he’s the demon that tore apart their group earlier in the episode.

When getting very impatient waiting for confirmation about whether or not Oz was the demon that did the damage, Riley just pulls out his gun and decides to end it. At the exact time he does that Oz morphs back into a human and shocks the crap out of Riley, much like Buffy was shocked about Willow’s confession. This, of course, leads to Riley throwing away his career with the Initiative to help Oz escape, which fails. Quick note: the Initiative is still annoying me and have become a plot device rather than an institution for interesting discussion, and this hurts all episodes they are in, including this one, a bit. Anyway, I like how when Buffy frees Riley from the brig he expresses a moment’s concern that if he leaves now he won’t be able to come back. Buffy’s resulting static expression of “yeah, duh, what are you waiting for…” is awesome.

Both Buffy and Riley’s separate experiences after having their initial fight have shaped them to be more open about the other partner’s perspective. The way the Willow/Oz/Tara situation affects Buffy and Riley is simply brilliant writing. The two of them are hanging out at the ruins of Sunnydale High after their actions against the Initiative, when Riley admits he was being a bigot about the Oz situation. Buffy, though, in light of being ‘thrown’ herself by Willow’s ‘change’ sees now that Riley was simply ‘thrown’ by the idea of good demons — that the world they live in is one with shades of gray, especially when love is involved. In light of this new level of understanding, Buffy chooses this moment to begin telling Riley about her relationship with Angel. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful characterization! I love it!

While all of this is happening, Adam pays a visit to Spike. A result of this communication is Spike offering help to Buffy because he thinks Adam will remove his chip. Adam also opens the doors into the Initiative for the Scoobies, which is pretty cool. The bad guy’s helping the good guys without the good guys knowing it because it’s all part of a larger scheme. Anyway, you’ve got to feel sad for Oz in this episode, because he came all the way back to Sunnydale hoping to reconnect with the girl he loves, only to find out that he has the same problem as when he left and that his girl now loves another girl. Oz makes it clear that he’s not terribly at peace with the fact that Willow’s in love with a girl now. This becomes clear when she says “I can’t explain it” and Oz replies, “It may be safer for both of us if you don’t.”

This episode gives much better closure to their relationship than what we got in “Wild at Heart” [4×06] . The final scene between Willow and Tara was not only incredibly sweet, but very suggestive as well. Overall, this episode is extremely solid. It gives closure to the Willow/Oz relationship and beautifully sets up the Willow/Tara one. At the same time, a whole new level of trust and openness is gained between Buffy and Riley, who learn from the Willow/Tara/Oz situation. Great stuff!


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ First mention of Miss Kitty Fantastico. I’m so happy they kept that name! 😀
+ Parts of Adam was a boy scout. haha.

– Giles leaving his door open, again!
– There’s no way Anya and Giles, or Willow for that matter, could hack into the Initiative (without the use of magic).


* Riley says, “we’ve been busy at the Initiative. Our squads are pulling a lot more captures. We got demons coming out our ears.” This shows that Adam’s already beginning to implement his plan to create a massacre inside the Initiative.




61 thoughts on “Buffy 4×19: New Moon Rising”

  1. [Note: Fallen posted this comment on March 27, 2006.]

    Good review, definately the right take on a great episode like that. Few comments.

    1) Miss Kitty Fantastico is a great name! Also every time I hear it I think about Dawn’s reference about a “loaded crossbow accident” with Miss Kitty in End of Days.

    2) If there’s anyone who can hack into the Initiative I would think it would be Willow. Magic + L337 computer skillz will get you a long way.

    3) Not to this episode in particular, but what’s with the notation next to so many of the episodes on the main page (1/2, 2/2, etc.) A lot of the episodes that you have marked like this really shouldn’t be considered paired episodes at all.

    WTTHM/The Harvest, WML 1-2, Surprise/Innocence, Becoming 1-2, Grad Day, TYG/Who Are You?, and Bargaining…with maybe EoD/Chosen, although I don’t really think that fits either. Anything other than that doesn’t really fit as paired episodes.

    In some instances you have 4 (!) episodes paired together, which is fully 1/6th of an entire season that you consider to be one ep…which instead should be treated as an entire story arc. In other cases you have episodes like IWMTLY and The Body paired together for no apparent reason.


  2. [Note: Grounded posted this comment on March 27, 2006.]

    you have episodes like IWMTLY and The Body paired together for no apparent reason.

    Well I think the reason is that they are directly connected together chronologically, in that the last scene of IWMTLY is the first scene of The Body. Personally, I wouldn’t link them, but if mike wants to it’s not really a big deal is it?


  3. [Note: Fallen posted this comment on March 27, 2006.]

    Not a big deal at all, just want to hear his rationale for it is why I asked.

    He could link 6 completely unrelated episodes together for no reason other than the fact that it’s his site…more power to him. I just like seeing the madness behind his method


  4. [Note: fryrish posted this comment on March 27, 2006.]

    I can see the reasoning behind putting certain episodes together.

    I sometimes think of the last group of episodes as kind of mini-movies or something, because watching them in succession feels that way. Thinking mainly of the last four eps in the final three seasons. That makes complete sense to me.

    That said I probably wouldn’t consider CWDP and Sleeper or IWMTLY and The Body two parters, myself.


  5. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 27, 2006.]

    Grounded nailed it. The reason why I do that is because the following episode picks up right where the last one left off, and in that respect it is a two/three/etc part episode, even if the topics and themes are different.
    I personally think it’s kind of cool to have more episodes directly meld into each other. It makes it feel even more like one continuining story. That’s why I decided to make a point to show when it happens on the review page.
    Also, I think it’s implied that there’s no magic involved in the hacking during “New Moon Rising.” But you are right, with magic Willow definately can do that. 🙂


  6. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on March 28, 2006.]

    I link IWMTLY and The Body too. Just yesterday I was watching it with a friend of mine on DVD, and I paid a lot of attention with planning the season so she wouldn’t be entirely tired out after IWMTLY (so she could “embrace” The Body)…

    the second indicator is if I want to smoke a cigarette between two eps. If it’s ending in a way that I can’t go out to smoke one, it’s a two-parter. IWMTLY and The Body is a two-parter. (Changing the discs took already too much time.) Much more than The Body and Forever: no problem going off and smoke a cigarette between them.

    And my friend fell for the thing everybody falls (if he/ she doesn’t read spoilers): she hoped that Dawn would develop some kind of healing powers… but no! just zombie-territory.


  7. [Note: bookworm posted this comment on March 30, 2006.]

    about new moon rising: next to the fact that buffy pointed out in “this year’s girl” that when it comes to demons, riley is the muscle and just a fun boy toy who can break a vampire’s arm that’s the moment when riley thinks that he fell in love with the wrong girl. he will never be able to deal with buffy’s first-boyfriend-choice… never… hey these are the points where everything starts to fall apart… buffy isn’t riley’s WOMAN as riley obviously isn’t buffy’s MAN…


  8. [Note: Xenophon posted this comment on October 14, 2007.]

    I loved when Buffy said to Xander she has the retina scan and he says he’d rather not watch 😉

    Why didn’t Buffy have to do the voice test when she and Xander got into the lift?

    And finally, did anyone pick up that the room Adam was kept in was “314”, the door to the jail area that Oz was kept at was “114” and Buffy’s dorm/aparment number was “214”


  9. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 7, 2007.]

    Very good review, mike. This episode is awesome regarding Oz, Willow, Tara, Buffy and Riley. They all have important developments in this episode and Willow/ Tara are just the sweetest thing. But I have a big complaint. Can you guess? It´s the Initiative. First, I hate their “demons bad, people good” policy. The world is not like that, especially the Buffy world and that makes the Initiative boys so one-dimensional to me. Second, they are very unexperienced and dumb. Instead of trying to capture Adam, they worry about capturing as many demons as possible. Really annoying!
    But again, your review is very good.


  10. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on February 14, 2008.]

    I also don’t understand the jurisdiction and power of the Initiative. They’re part of the US military, right? So after Buffy and friends break out Oz of the Initiative, kicking major military ass in the process, you would say that the whole Scooby gang and not only Riley become fugitives afterwards. And not only for the Initiative, but for the whole military. And thus also not only until the end of season 4 when the Initiative is dismantled (or so it seems; I like to think it continued and only Walsh’s project was discontinued. ‘Why we fight’ on AtS implies the Initiative dates back to the 1940s, so it can’t just be Walsh’s branch).

    My point: it shouldn’t be so easy to do hit and run attacks on a military base and it certainly shouldn’t be so easy to get away with it and keep on living a life in the open without drawing some serious military attention.


  11. [Note: Nix posted this comment on July 21, 2008.]

    A pedantic grammatical point which I wouldn’t bother to make except that it’s a mistake you make over and over and it grates on my soul.

    Look at this fragment of one of your sentences:

    `what her and Riley go through’

    This is very very gratingly grammatically incorrect; it’s not something that people disagree on, or a silly Latinate canard like split infinitives, it’s really wrong.

    The general rule is that a pronoun doesn’t change just because you conjoin something else to it. You can test this by *removing* the conjunction (and fixing the number of the thing immediately outside it):

    `what her goes through’

    That’s obviously wrong to any native speaker (I hope it’s wrong to you!) It should of course be `what she goes through’: therefore, adding back the bit we removed and fixing the number again, the original should be `what she and Riley go through’. (You probably can’t flip the ordering here. `What Riley and she go through’ is questionable for other reasons, too involuted to go into here.)

    (There are at least half a dozen instances of this pattern scattered through your reviews in various places.)


  12. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 21, 2008.]

    Nix, although I appreciate being corrected when I’ve made grammatical errors, I would really appreciate it if you would do this via e-mail or PM (forum) in the future.

    Thanks. 🙂


  13. [Note: Xander posted this comment on October 20, 2008.]

    Once again we suffer with Amber Benson’s extremely horrendous acting. I think the one thing keeping this episode from shining not to mention every episode she’s in is her acting. I wonder why Joss chose her aside from her shy, coy demeanor.


  14. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on November 4, 2008.]

    As I’m typing this on my imac, I love the mac product placement in this ep. I lost it when Adam did the “scout’s honor” thing.


  15. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 13, 2009.]

    I just thought this was worth mentioning: A lot of people pay attention to SMG’s acting, DB’s acting (especially in the earlier seasons, when he was a newbie), Emma Caulfield, etc, etc. I think, though, that Alyson Hannigan’s amazing acting skills are largely ignored. She is an absolutely TERRIFIC actress, and it’s best portrayed here, as well as “Wild at Heart”, and when Tara dies. Also when Joyce dies. She’s also really great at the crying thing.


  16. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 9, 2009.]

    YAY for the closure in the Willow/Oz relationship, but it kinda annoyed me that you could tell that, deep down, Oz expected Willow to just be waiting for him to come back. Bit egotistical of him, don’t you think?

    Also, in the scene with Tara in the hallway, when he hegins to wolf out he tells her to “Run.” Am I the only one who noted a certain amount of ambiguity in the way he said it? The inflection he used could mean “Quick, get away from me before I hurt you” or “Go ahead and run, I like the chase before the kill.”

    And in closing, Alyson Hannigan was truly awesome as usual. The best actress on the show, bar none.


  17. [Note: Kate posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    This is probably extremelyb apalling to all true Buffy fans out there, but the ending in “New Moon Rising’ is the one that makes me cry the most. I don’t know why- maybe Oz was always my favourite character and I just tried to cover that by saying Angel was.

    By the way, love the new site. I thought it was called that for a second because of the new episode posted up! Haha, would the site then be called ‘criticallyendofdays’ ?


  18. [Note: Sam posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    Kate, the beauty of this show is that most of the characters are so extremely well-written that many of them have been known to inspire fandom, so I don’t think most people would find that appalling. Many of us are fans of certain characters, and the ending of this episode is very moving. So please, revel in your Oz fangirlishness. 🙂


  19. [Note: Emily posted this comment on October 1, 2009.]

    Kate, I agree with Sam. I *love* Oz, and I think that he was the perfect person for Willow at that time in her life. There’s no reason why it would be appalling- I’m sure other people also love Oz. The ending of this episode makes *me* cry a lot every time I watch it, so you’re definitely not alone in that:)


  20. [Note: Person posted this comment on November 14, 2009.]

    Kate- I guess I covored up by saying that Spike or Xander was my favorite, but you know Oz brings out the animal in the X gender!

    Happily turned on by Oz since 2007


  21. [Note: Wulvaine posted this comment on November 20, 2009.]

    I didn’t get any sense of entitlement from Oz here. He even asked Xander if Willow had a new boyfriend before trying to reconnect with her, not knowing the change Willow was going through. And at the end, he commented that he thought it was foolish of him to expect her to be waiting, but it was more hope than anything else.

    I don’t think Oz is the egotistical type. His confusion is more than understandable (consider the impact and shock of returning to find that an ex, one you still love, is not even romantically interested in your gender anymore), and his anger is, I think, rooted more in the fact that Willow didn’t even begin to indicate her romantic feelings for Tara while they were talking for hours (perhaps, in his mind, leading him on, though in reality Willow’s reticence was simply her defense against her own confusion).

    While I have no issue with Willow’s sexuality, I do massively prefer her relationship with Oz to the one she develops with Tara, though admittedly largely because I love Oz and am bored to death by Tara.

    Seth Green always made Oz come to life, but this episode is especially resonant for me. I really feel Oz’s pain. I’ve been through a similar situation, and Seth Green plays it perfectly. When he figures out what’s happening and when he first sees Willow afterwards, that look in his eyes like he’s just been kicked in the chest… I’ve been there. His pain while talking to Willow in his van is palpable. And what Willow says to him about how a part of her will always be waiting for him rings true. Feelings don’t entirely change. Sometimes they don’t even fade, they just have to be pushed aside to make way for new ones. When it’s like that, memories, even good ones, can be like bullets embedded in your flesh that have scarred over: as long as you leave them to rest, they probably won’t hurt you, but if you go poking at them, old, familiar pain comes to the surface. Thanks to Alyson Hannigan’s fantastic acting abilities, we see this with Willow’s reaction to Oz’s return. She had pretty much been able to move on, but the old feelings didn’t disappear or even change. She still loves Oz, but the time for that relationship has passed, as painful as that is for both of them to accept.

    In my experience, when a heart forges a true, strong love, that never dies. Look at Angel and Buffy. Their feelings for each other clearly never changed. They just came to understand that they couldn’t make it work. It was painful, but necessary. Their love was both strong and ‘right’, but it wasn’t practical.

    But yes, as a heterosexual male comfortable with his emotions, I can honestly say this episode makes me cry too. Familiarity, Oz being one of my favorite characters in the Buffyverse, and brilliant writing and acting combine to make this one hit me really hard.


  22. [Note: BlackOut posted this comment on January 30, 2010.]

    I would have added to your cons category: the use of the elevator at the end, during the power blackout…. if I remember well, from Hush: in case of emergency (a blackout has to be an emergency!) use stairs!


  23. [Note: Lollypop75 posted this comment on May 13, 2010.]

    I love this episode – I really like Willow’s relationships with both Oz and Tara (although I prefer Tara) so this episode is great for both. I like how the little signs we’ve seen that they’re a couple are confirmed here – it always makes me smile!

    One thing in your review, though. When Tara and Oz meet in the corridor, and Oz asks if she’s wearing Willow’s sweater. I’m pretty sure she’s actually *not* wearing Willow’s sweater. Rather, after the scene with Willow and Tara, they slept together, so Tara smells of Willow; Oz just assumes that she must be wearing her sweater because of that. (If someone points out that Tara is, in fact, wearing the sweater that Willow had on before, I will of course accept that!)


  24. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    Lollypop: yes, in the previous act we see Willow wearing the cardigan that Tara is wearing when Oz wolfs on her.

    Overall a very good episode, but I found Oz’s reactions, both during the Tara-sweater incident and later when he’s escaping and just seeing Willow makes the wolf come back, a bit out of character. I think the series does the “she brings out the monster in him” thing too often and too heavy-handedly. I know we haven’t seen Oz for a while, so he may have changed, but it just didn’t feel real to me. It felt like a plot device that made it so that Oz HAD to leave, whereas if Willow had just rejected him he might have stayed. (Though it also sets up the conversation that Buffy has with Riley about Angel, and facilitates Riley finally leaving the Initiative for good, but the writers could’ve found other ways to make those things happen.) What I would’ve preferred to see was Willow, after some soul-searching, choosing Tara, and Oz accepting it (heartbroken and angry yes, but not murderously violent) and leaving.


  25. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 7, 2010.]

    Oh, also, MikeJer, when Buffy changes the subject to Oz when she’s talking with Willow during the coming-out scene, I didn’t interpret it as Buffy’s reticence. I think she was being a good friend: Oz returning is a huge deal and Buffy wanted to give Willow a chance to talk about it. I do agree that the Scoobies are separating during this season, overall, but not so much that Buffy wouldn’t be eager to hear how Willow’s chat with Oz went.


  26. [Note: Steph posted this comment on August 3, 2010.]

    Lizzie, being a huge Tara fan I definitely noticed Tara being the target in her earlier episodes especially. When I listened to Joss Whedon’s commentary on “Hush”, I believe he stated that Willow was getting too powerful to simply be the running prey/damsel-in-distress character. It took Tara knocking her down and Willow hurting her leg to make the scene of her limping away from the Gentlemen to become scary at the possibility Willow would be hurt. I believe that Tara’s character (I agree with Mikejer at Tara being a lot like Willow from the earlier seasons) was to become the character who you started to fear for when monsters/demons/vampires come out. (Along with Tara being the sweet love interest of Willow, obviously.) After all, Xander and Willow have been holding a pretty firm ground for several years. Anya, an ex vengence demon, has knowledge and tactics on her side. Even with a chip, Spike can still harm the bad guys. Riley has government weapons and training. If anyone is going to be running for their life this season, it’s going to be poor Tara. Tara does have magicks, but I doubt she’s used them for defensive purposes beforehand.


  27. [Note: Enea posted this comment on August 15, 2010.]

    Am I the only one who finds it weird that there suddenly are three werewolves together, roaming around in Sunnydale? It would’ve been a different scenario if it was just one, but three? Either they’ve all just been “infected” (what’s the probability?), or they’ve miraculously never been seen or attacked anyone before. Where do they come from, who are they, is it being dealt with?

    If this is explained in another episode I stand corrected, but this just really bugged me. I expected to find it noted as a “minor con”, maybe you didn’t notice, or I’m simply wrong.

    *Big fan of your reviews* 🙂


  28. [Note: Jason posted this comment on August 28, 2010.]

    I’d just like to say how surprised I am to find that, after only a few episodes, Tara is basically my favorite character on the show. I have no idea what it is about her.

    I’m also surprised to find myself genuinely scared and fascinated by Adam. You can argue that he’s a patch-work of cliches as much as demon-parts, but there’s something in his voice that I just haven’t encountered before. I don’t know what it is about him either.

    Enjoying the end of the season….


  29. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on September 6, 2010.]

    Enea: The three attackers were demons, not werewolves. They all look similar because they’re people in costume.


    Oz returns. And somehow he looks younger than when he left.

    Oz and Willow together again. And he has to say “Pretty much now” again.

    Adam helping the Scoobies and Riley helping Oz.

    “-Formally dangerous and currently annoying.”

    Another heartbreaking Oz and Willow break up.


    The computer monitor that Anya was using was still on during the blackout.

    Oz: It was stupid to think you’d just be waiting.

    Willow: I was waiting…I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you…like if I’m old and blue haired and I turn the corner in Istanbul and there you are, I won’t be surprised…’cause, you’re with me, you know?

    Oz: I know….right now is not that time I guess.


  30. [Note: Seán posted this comment on September 18, 2010.]

    Nathan, the computer still being on during the blackout is not a ‘Bad’ thing because they were using a laptop which runs on a battery. 🙂


  31. [Note: Dan posted this comment on February 15, 2011.]

    Just a nitpick, nathan.taurus (I love your posts BTW): the line is “formerly dangerous and currently annoying.” I just notice spelling mistakes like crazy.

    Regarding the hacking issue, wasn’t Adam the one actually doing the hacking? That’s what I thought was going on with his being all hooked up with the Data (as in the Star Trek character) cable to his head. (Patchwork of cliches, indeed.)


  32. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on November 9, 2011.]

    Sean: I get it now. I’m not that computer or tech smart so I just guessed.

    Dan: I’m usually a pretty good speller, not the best at grammar as my commas sometimes show. Formerly:)

    On another re-watch I began thinking that as this episode marks the beginning of the Willow/Tara relationship maybe the kitten has a hidden meaning. Tara asks Willow if she likes cats and Willow responds that she is more of a dog person but that she is not death to all cats. In my warped mind it is Tara seeing if Willow likes women as another name for cats is also used for the anatomy of women. So either it is a hidden meaning or I have way to much time on my hands.


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

    The Scoobies don’t hack into the Initiative, they hack into the city electrical grid, and even then it’s actually Adam doing all the work.


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

    The problem with Adam is that he lacks the evil charisma of a Big Bad; it’s hard to believe he can inspire vampires and demons follow his vision.


  35. [Note: Riis posted this comment on February 23, 2012.]


    I know you posted that a little while ago, but I just wanted to let you know that the same thought crossed my mind. Although, for the record, I’m a lesbian and I much prefer dogs!

    Also, love the site mikejer. I loved Buffy the first time I saw it a few years ago but now I’m a complete addict-thanks for helping appreciate it all the more!


  36. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on August 14, 2012.]

    I really love this episode. Oz is awesome, and this marks a tragic episode that Seth Green sells really well. Alyson Hannigon does a great job playing her conflicted role, and (unlike some others) I think Amber Benson does an excellent job playing someone who give up her claim to love, if it means the woman she loves can be happy. E.G., the scene in which Tara tells Willow that she has to “be with the person you love”–I can see the act of saying that rip the heart out of Tara, and can see that she fells it happening as she says it, and she still says it! That’s a good person.

    Speaking of really interesting actions by characters many consider boring, I love Riley in this episode. “I’m an anarchist” is a cheesy line, but he does punch (or elbow, hard to see) the colonel in the face, so it’s pretty awesome. Plus, for an Iowa farm boy, his world is expanding at about the rate of the universe just after the Big Bang.

    To express solidarity with several of the comments above, this episode usually makes me cry, too. It happens in that final conversation with Willow and Oz, usually when Willow is talking about turning around in Istanbul. This whole episode is great television!


  37. [Note: ralph posted this comment on October 9, 2012.]

    I would probably agree with your score – might even rate it a tiny bit higher, but 90 sounds about right. The episode is nicely paced and the dialogue is consistently dramatic without ever veering into outright melodrama. Noxon gets a lot of flak (which was occasionally justified) but I really do think that she wrote quite a few scenes/episodes that were more-or-less pitch-perfect. Oz and Willow in the van is one of the best scenes in the entire series, in my opinion – outrageously poignant and shamelessly underrated. Great episode.


  38. [Note: ralph posted this comment on October 10, 2012.]

    That being said – in regards to my comment about Noxon – I feel that it’s relatively easy to spot the differences between a Whedon scripted episode and a Noxon scripted one. Although there are certainly exceptions, Whedon’s episodes generally flow so effortlessly that you don’t even notice (at first glance) how seamlessly he combines deft characterization, witty dialogue, and powerful metaphor. Noxon’s episodes, on the other hand, have many scenes that are perfectly acted and scripted (as I mentioned above) alternating with occasional scenes that bash the audience over the head with the message (see also Beauty and the Beasts, Wrecked, etc). This episode is really solid overall, but Riley’s demon-phobia is at times overdone here. In particular, the scene where he pulls a gun on Oz “I know what a killer looks like” (or something along those lines), just seems really contrived and OOC. I mean, isn’t he one of the top soldiers, highly professional, all that jazz? Where is this coming from? They must have casualties all the time and Graham (one of his best friends) wasn’t even hurt that badly. Why would he be acting so reckless and irrational out of the blue? It’s a relatively small thing, but it’s a bit of a heavy-handed way to get the metaphor across.


  39. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on March 2, 2013.]

    I just wanted to answer to this: “I found Oz’s reactions, both during the Tara-sweater incident and later when he’s escaping and just seeing Willow makes the wolf come back, a bit out of character”.

    It’s a sad story, because Oz went away to be less dangerous, out of love for Willow. The result is the opposite, he’s become more dangerous especially for Willow, because his werewolf side can come out at any time, not during controlled hours.
    I don’t find it out of character, because in real life, what upsets us most ? Usually everything that’s linked with our loved ones. Oz can’t help his feelings and they are understandable. It’s not like he consciously decided to make the werewolf come out to hurt Tara: the overwhelming emotions did.

    During Oz’s journey, Willow grew out of grief, pain and found new foundations in her life. Oz was looking for a cure in order to come back to his girl and his biggest mistake was to not give anyone news. I don’t think Oz is pretentious in coming back because that was the whole point of his quest; he even asked Xander if Willow had a new guy. It’s only natural that he tries and what made him so upset is certainly the all nighter discussion without Willow even hinting being in a relation: his hopes came up after that night.

    I also believe that the Willow/Tara relation was what allowed Willow’s arc to grow as it did. Oz was the safety net and grounded Willow on earth (remember when he warned her that more powerful magic could be dangerous ?). Also, their relationship was based on equality. The Willow/Tara relation is based on power/worship (the words are strong but it doesn’t mean the relation is wrong).

    I absolutely loved the scene between Buffy and Willow: the shock, the discomfort and then the understanding. It was brilliant.

    Oh yes, Riley wanting to shoot the hostile was a bit rushed, but it allowed a powerful awakening for him.

    In short, I loved this episode except for …… the Initiative. Everything about it is caricatural and almost nothing about the consequences of it being governmental is thought out.


  40. [Note: BuffyFanatic posted this comment on June 27, 2013.]

    I just want to say that the idea that someone would automatically assume that their friend fancied them in some way if they came out gay is quite depressing to me, as a gay guy.
    I might be gay but I can get changed in a room with my best friend without feeling sexually attracted to him, and I guess I take it for granted that he understands this.
    In my opinion, Buffy wasn’t having thought of “Oh god she might be attracted to me” in the slightest. Yes, she was incredibly shocked about the reveal, and also felt a little bit of realization of how much things had changed without her noticing, due to subtle partings of ways.
    I don’t know, I love your reviews and read them avidly, and I can tell that you are in no way homophobic, I just find it a little jarring that one would think like that, and I definitely don’t think that thought crossed Buffy’s mind. They’ve been best friends for years, Buffy just wouldn’t have that cross her mind in my opinion.


  41. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on October 30, 2013.]

    I think that having those thoughts and worries are natural for men and women.
    When I told my best friend I was gay, he replied saying “as long as you don’t hit on me, we are cool” that means somewhere in the back of my friends mind, he thought I might be attracted to him(which im not. :P) I wasn’t offended at all. Its not his fault he thinks this way. Just try to look at it from a straight person’s perspective I guess.


  42. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on October 31, 2013.]

    Society is designed in such a way that straight people -never- have to deal with things like having to change in a room with people they could theoretically be attracted to, or who could theoretically be attracted to them. Gender segregated bathrooms, dressing rooms, showers, dorms, etc, etc, etc.

    In those situations where they do cohabit with the opposite sex, straight people will often behave differently, be more guarded, less comfortable, all because of the potential for sexual tension. Obviously, this will be largely culturally determined, but I think it’s the case in most western countries.

    Gay people obviously do not have the luxury of keeping things in separate boxes like that, so I assume they’ll just learn to deal with this and find this normal. Hetero people confronted with homosexual ones, though, all of a sudden have to deal with this stuff we’re not used to dealing with because society usually accommodates us and pretends gay people do not exist. Suddenly we have to re-draw and re-arrange all those implicit boundaries in our minds and examine this stuff we usually take for granted. “What would I do if he’s attracted to me? Help!”

    Plus, there -are- lots of cases where teenagers discover they’re gay because they’re attracted to their best friends. Google “I’m in love with my straight best friend” sometime. Sure, if we’d have been paying attention we would probably be able to tell whether that’s the case or not, but we think we don’t have to pay attention to people of the same gender, so we don’t.

    That said, I agree with you that in this case I doubt that crossed Buffy’s mind since, well, Willow was discussing her feelings for -another- girl at the time. The boundary-confusion still applies though. And considering how young Buffy’s supposed to be here… well, I agree with Mike that it’s a very believable reaction, and while she could have reacted better, she fights through it quickly. I like to think I would freak out less than she does here… but back when I was 19, I doubt I would have.


  43. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on January 10, 2014.]

    Something that drives me crazy: all the long skirts worn by Buffy, and Willow and Tara. They may be fun and attractive but they are incredibly impractical, especially for the Slayer and the slayerettes who are apt to find themselves in chase scenes all the time.


  44. [Note: guttersnipe posted this comment on May 20, 2014.]

    If it’s any comfort to you I’d like to state with some pride that when a friend of mine came out to us at the end of a night out several years ago, none of us seemed to take more than about four seconds to process and ‘deal’ with it. And IIRC that was a group of twelve! It might have helped that he never seemed to profess any interest in girls beforehand, so there was no requirement for us to adjust (I kind of assumed that he was asexual, if I gave it any thought at all), but I don’t believe any of the males figured that we should worry about him suddenly checking us out. I believe he also told us before his family, which made me feel honoured to be trusted to such a degree. Incidentally, I think I might actually feel flattered if I suddenly attracted attention from both genders, but that may be acknowledgement of my own latent bi-curiosity.

    Anyhoo, this is a diamond episode, and my go-to episode for a cry (tears of heartache when Willow tells Tara she’s at a crossroads and tears of joy when she affirms her love at the end).


  45. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on July 3, 2014.]

    This episode made me cry the first time that I saw it. I didn’t cry on rewatch but it still made my heartbreak when Willow launches into the speech about rounding a corner in Istanbul and waiting for him. It really has a way to pull on your heart-strings, this couple usually does. Oz and Willow, especially their sad moments always feel so authentic and adorable. I like Willow and Tara together, but the only times I was really whole-heartedly affect by Willow and Tara’s relationship was 1. When Tara was shot dead and 2. Willow’s face during the song “Goodbye To You” when Tara leaves her in ‘Tabula Rasa’ and nearly both times its simply because of Alyson’s acting.

    I agree that the Initiative stretches reality a lot. Arachnea nailed the Initiative’s problems in a nutshell, “the Initiative. Everything about it is caricatural and almost nothing about the consequences of it being governmental is thought out.” I couldn’t agree more. The Initiative is a flimsy excuse for a military base, and I know that this show likes to poke at authority but there are more believable ways to achieve this.

    I also loved how this season’s Big Bad was helping the Scoobies without them even knowing it. And Spike was so incredibly orgasm-worthy in this episode. Please excuse my language, sometimes my primal fangirl instincts just take control.

    I also enjoyed Willow opening up to Buffy about Tara and the way in which Oz figured it out. Buffy’s reaction was spot on. “Like what, Will?”. Willow’s sexuality is done in such an open and sensitive manner on this show, and I love how she is never required to “declare” her sexuality and put a label on it. Willow is just a human that happen to have a romantic connection with both Oz and Tara, nothing more too it. The writers bring Oz back and give him and Willow terrific closure. That scene in the van is my favourite Willow and Oz scene ever. It’s very satisfying to see two characters with shared history reach such a maturity place regarding what they mean to each other but how their paths now diverge. Sniff. Seth Green and Alyson Hannigan are both amazing.


  46. [Note: FlyingPenguin posted this comment on July 6, 2014.]

    This is a great episode, but I do sort of agree with Fray-Adjacent’s comment (#25 above); my one complaint (or maybe 2 complaints rolled into 1) is that Oz wolfing out when he figured out that Tara and Willow were getting involved romatically both a) seemed a bit over the top (especially for a character so known for being low-key and keeping his cool!), and b) let Willow off the hook perhaps a little too much (kind of making her decision for her).

    Even so, though…really good episode! I really like Alyson Hannigan’s acting in what amounts to her “coming out” scene with Buffy; you can see her nervousness and reticence, but at the same time a level of trust and security that enables her to go through with opening up to Buffy about it. Despite the various issues that have started to push them apart a bit, there’s still a really strong core to their frienship, and it shows in this scene. It’s nice!


  47. [Note: MichaelJB posted this comment on October 8, 2015.]

    I made a connection between this episode and your review of one of the earlier episodes – when Oz mistakes Tara for Willow in the school hallway, I think it’s an homage to the similarities that Tara has to Willow from earlier seasons. Tara is similar to the Willow that Oz fell in love with, and left.


  48. [Note: Paulie posted this comment on November 10, 2015.]

    ” If my best friend announced he was seriously gay, I’d definitely back up a few steps myself. For one, it’s simply a huge surprise. Additionally, I’d be concerned he thought I was hot in some way, which honestly would be a bit disturbing to me because I’m not homosexual.”

    I find your comments here to be very offensive and homophobic and basic. Someone who is disturbed that someone of the same sex might have romantic feelings for them shows that you’ve internalized homophobia and patriarchy and the heteronormative matrix and now I no longer wish to read your reviews. It’s really unfortunate as you seem thoughtful and intelligent.


  49. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on November 10, 2015.]

    There’s a difference between being homophobic and being “thrown.” Having someone come out to you is often a surprise, and in that moment, there can be confusing emotions, particularly if you’ve never been directly confronted with homosexuality before.

    What you do with those feelings in the long-term is what’s important; those who are consistently afraid of gay people because they keep thinking “What if they have the hots for me??” are dumbasses, but briefly having feelings like that before you’ve had time to properly deal with them is only natural, and largely out of anyone’s control.


  50. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on November 10, 2015.]

    Quoth Mike himself in the comment section on “Family:”

    When I was originally writing some of these reviews (particularly through Season 5), I was still in college and knew people who were very confused about themselves and others on such issues. Due to my own lack of knowledge in this regard, I’ve written some stuff in some of these reviews that doesn’t represent my current view on the matter. I have modified some specific passages in certain reviews that had stuff that could easily be construed as offensive to some individuals. For the overall picture, though, I’ll be taking care of it in due time.


  51. [Note: Bella posted this comment on March 21, 2016.]

    Oz was perfect for Willow at that time, but Willow and Tara, I think, have the most beautiful relationship I’ve ever seen on television. The way their characters grow and develop together, their chemistry as actors, you can really feel the love between them, right from their first meeting. Also I am completely in love with Willow.


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