New Moon Rising

Written by Marti Noxon
Directed by James A. Contner

Perri's Review | Mary Beth's Comments| Julie's Comments | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Oz is back!!!!! But, wow, things have changed, and some plot twists we've all been expecting finally kick into gear. Note: my review will be up tomorrow night; sorry it's so late!

The topic, as Tara and Willow wander across campus together, is cats. Tara wants one for her dorm room and needs Willow's input -- she wants her room to be Willow-friendly. Hands clasped, the two girls shift their discussion to the upcoming Scooby Gang meeting, which Tara is looking forward to. It seems to be her first meeting, since Willow is translating every other wisecrack (often unnecessarily). No one else (and the gang's all there, Riley included) is concerned about anything other than the distinct lack of demonic activity for the Slayer, and the overload of work for the Initiative. Giles is interested, but Anya is bored, and makes no bones about it. For once, Giles starts to take her to task for her attitude, but is cut-off mid-complaint by an unexpected visitor -- Oz.

Hovering uncertainly in Giles' doorway, Oz tells the gang (read: Willow) that he just got back to town. Xander makes the first move towards the prodigal, but he's got eyes only for Willow; they arrange to meet that night and talk. Willow is torn between happiness and fear, and Tara watches in quiet misery, then retreats. Buffy fills Riley in on the history as they patrol that night (interrupted by only one demon attack). Riley vividly remembers Willow's depression after Oz left, but wasn't familiar with some of the details -- especially the hairy, full-moon ones. His knee-jerk reaction to Oz=werewolf is unfortunate ("She seemed smarter than that.") and Buffy takes it personally. "Love isn't logical!" she tells a baffled Riley, who still isn't up to date on the whole Angel thing.

Oz shows up on time and he and Willow wander outside for their talk. But it's only when Oz points it out that Willow realizes it's a full moon -- and Oz is still human. He's learned how to control it, he tells Willow -- and savors the congratulatory hug she gives him. He wants his life back; specifically, he wants Willow back, now that he can give her what she needs. Unfortunately, Oz's cure hasn't spread; an Initiative patrol lead by Graham is attacked by two werewolf-types, leaving Graham badly injured.

When the sun rises, Willow and Oz are still talking, Oz reciting tales of his travels all over the world. Herbs, chanting and meditation are the key to his control, he tells her. Willow offers breakfast, and Oz, when his counteroffer of just sleeping is refused, gracefully accepts. Willow heads off to the bathroom, and isn't there when Tara drops by, drawing the obvious conclusion from Oz's presence and retreating hastily. And Oz starts drawing some conclusions of his own.

Paradise is also still not of the happening across campus, as Buffy and Riley wake up. Buffy is still spoiling for a fight after last night's 'discussion'; the whole Angel topic beginning to weigh her down. Riley gets tired of being her target and Buffy confronts him on his whole "demons bad, people good" mode of operations. She spared from having to make counter-examples when Forrest arrives with news of Graham's injury. Riley heads out to check on his teammate, and Buffy heads home. Willow is waiting, with lots on her mind to talk about. She's confused, she tells Buffy; she's happy for Oz, but there's something standing between their reunion -- Tara. There's something between them, Willow says. The implications sink in and the Slayer starts to do the wig thing. She covers, and tries to adapt. "Some one is going to get hurt," she points out gently, telling Willow to be honest with both Tara and Oz, or it'll be a lot worse.

Speaking of a lot worse, Spike wakes up to an unexpected visitor -- Adam. Seems he wants Spike's help with a problem, and is will to make it a quid pro quo thing. Meanwhile, Willow sucks it up and heads off to talk to Tara, trying to explain Oz's presence in her room. Tara is relieved to know that nothing happened, but assures Willow they will still be friends, whatever happens. "Do what makes you happy," Tara stammers and on her accepting shoulder, Willow finally breaks down and cries out her confusion.

Later, as Tara heads for classes, Oz smells her coming around the corner -- and thinks she's Willow. What starts as a polite, if deeply awkward, conversation about Oz returning to school degenerates fast, as he realizes he smells Willow all over Tara. Suspicions become conclusions and, under the stress of realizing Tara is involved with Willow, Oz literally loses it. The wolf breaks loose, in full daylight, and attacks. Tara, no fool her, turns tail and runs, with Oz hot on her heels. A locked door in a lecture hall looks like the end of the line -- until a group of DGLCs lead by Forrest and Riley intercepts the hunt. They zip Oz up and carry him off, before Tara can tell Riley who he's got.

Adam lays his plan out to Spike, off-camera unfortunately. What we hear is that Adam wants the humans to have a champion, specifically, the Slayer. Spike is therefore to be on her side; in exchange, Spike will get the chip out. And in the UC Sunnydale library, a panicked Tara relays events to Willow, who immediately rounds up the Scooby Gang. Riley isn't answering his pager, so Buffy and Xander, and a determined Willow, prepare to break into the Initiative again. Where Oz is being held in a cage, the Initiative doctors investigating to see if Oz is the one who attacked Graham. Riley waits impatiently -- and is therefore watching when the wolf reverts to a very familiar face. Riley's world undergoes a paradigm shift -- demon=evil suddenly has a very human face. But despite his protests, he's unable to prevent the Initiative from beginning experiments.

Meanwhile, the Slayerettes unexpectedly get help in their rescue mission. Spike, entirely on his own, it seems, shows up to offer to show the Slayerettes a back way into the Initiative to rescue Oz -- for a price, of course. Faced with no inside help, Buffy and company take him up on it, even as Riley makes a decision that might make rescue moot. Disabling Initiative security, he walks into Oz's cell and throws the naked man a bundle of clothes; it seems they're making a break for it. A spectacularly unsuccessful break, as it turns out -- Forrest grabs them before they get out of the facility.

His new commanding officer (Sunnydale's answer to Stargate SG-1's Col. Maybourne) is, predictably, Not Happy. Riley is, it seems, disloyal and abusing his command, in addition to trying to release a hostile HST. It's court-martial time, in fact, for an "anarchist" named Riley Finn, unless he betrays the Buffy and the Slayerettes. Who are, as they speak, breaking into the back door of the Initiative -- with unknown help from Adam, or all people? There's also known help, of course, from Anya and Giles, methodically hacking into the city power grid. On cue, the Initiative (and most of UC Sunnydale) plunges into darkness. Buffy and company move fast and choose their hostage -- Riley's boss. He tells them about Riley's attempted breakout of Oz, and Buffy's goals expand to encompass a second breakout. With a crossbow pointed firmly at Colonel Klink's throat, she heads to the brig to spring her boyfriend. "If I leave now, I can't ever come back," Riley tells her, panicking. Then, he settles down. "I just wanted to hear that out loud." seems he's already made his decision.

The ever-growing parade wends its way through the corridors, picking up more and more security pointing guns at them. Buffy threatens to kill him, and Oz is duly unlocked. He's fighting the wolf every step of the way, but finally manages to subdue it and Riley helps him walk out. As they leave the elevator at Lowell House, Riley short-circuits the control panel; "You're a dead man, Finn," the Colonel warns. "No, sir," Riley responds. "I'm an anarchist." And proves it by decking the bastard (and the crowd goes wild!), then walking away.

But he's on the run now, camping out with Buffy to avoid capture; he's become a wanted man. He was wrong about Oz, he tells Buffy, who can relate to wigging about "unconventional relationships". The time is finally right, and Buffy settles in to tell him about Angel. Across town, Willow and Oz camp out in the front seat of his van. He's got to leave town, he knows; the one thing that can shake his calm and release the wolf, is the one thing he wants -- Willow. She's happy with Tara, and he's happy for her; after one desperate embrace, they say good-bye again -- for now, since part of her, she says, will always be waiting for him. Will always be with him.

And a depressed, lonely Tara opens the door of her still blacked-out room to find Willow there, holding a candle. Tara is braced to hear Willow say she's going back to Oz and ready to accept it. "You have to be with the person you love," she says, holding back tears. Willow smiles. "I am." Tara has no problems with that, or with Willow making it up to her, starting right now. Carefully, she blows out the candle.

Oz is wandering around with pretty good control over the wolfiness, unless he gets upset. Which Willow tends to make him, so he's back to wandering again.

Spike has been recruited by Adam, not entirely happily, but with the promise of getting his chip out.

Willow and Tara are officially an item.

Riley and Buffy have admitted they're in love.

Buffy and Angel have declared a truce.

For the most part, Julie covers what I'd say, but a few things... I'm also in the crowd that finds Tara to be a tad dull. Yes, she's very like Willow was first season, and yes, I do look forward to seeing her come into her own. But even in first season, Willow had a spark to her, a kind of verbal cuteness that Tara just doesn't have yet. More than anything,s he reminds me of the girl first cast as Willow in the unaired pilot. Very sweet, but not particularly gripping. When Tara develops a character outside of being Willow's Girlfriend (which Oz had from Day One), she'll be a lot more interesting.

That said, Tara and Willow walking across campus hand in hand was awfully sweet. I'm a soft touch. < g >

Oh, damn, I still miss Oz, though. This was like getting a bandaid ripped off, getting him for just one episode. I'm very impressed with him, managing to find something resembling a cure; he's always been damned rsourceful. And even when he's losing it in front of Tara, I'm equally impressed that he keeps his sanity enough to tell her to run. What I desperately want, if we can't have Oz on Buffy, is for him to turn up on Angel a few times. If there's anyone who can teach Oz about controlling those demons, it's Angel.

Best Moments:
Willow's running interpretation of the Scooby meeting. I like that Tara was amused; I like even more that she got Willow to stop when she went too far.

Oz talking to Willow under the full moon. < happy sigh >

Riley trying to rescue Oz. I get tired of him, then I remember why I like him.

Buffy and company successfully rescuing both boys. You go, girl!

Willow and Oz's farewell. < sniffle >

The final scene. Just lovely, given the limitations Joss and company were working under.

Rating: 4 stars out of five. I want Oz back, damn it. But a lovely job was done of showing Willow's conflict and handling the Issues sensitively and with style. Nice job.

Mary Beth's Comments

Marti Noxon, James Contner, Alyson Hannigan, Seth Green and Amber Benson were all astounding. And Chris Beck made me get all teary again.

What I loved about this episode was that it dealt with such a tender subject in such a way that it was a big deal, without seeming like a big deal. They really struck a balance -- paralleling Riley's and Buffy's reactions to Oz and Willow. It was beautifully crafted.

What irks me is that Joss and co. are so NOT making a big deal of this. Even in last night's episode, it was all so ..... quiet..... that I just hate how everyone *else* is making a big deal of it. (I'd say go to the posting board to see what I mean, but. . . ugh. . . I wouldn't wish that place on anyone right now.) It's not like the focus of the SHOW is W/T. It's not like they're gonna shove anything in our faces (the ending is all implied for cripes sake!). It's just . . . a part of the show. And I'd be willing to bet that it'll stay at the level it is now for a good long while. *humph*

Seth Green was astounding. How painful to see him go through all that he did .. . . and so much emotion! Pent-up wolfiness and Willow pain really bring it out of him. Freaky to see. I will miss Oz and hope he'll pop up in Sunnydale or LA again soon.

Amber was beautiful, too, I thought. It was interesting to see her all talkative and cheery at the beginning. . . and how quickly she reverted in the face of Oz's return and the idea of losing Willow. I hurt for her.

And Aly can do *anything* can't she?

Adam. Okay, so "total annihilation of the humans" won't achieve his goals. And he wants "heavy casualties on both sides." So he hires Spike to work on Buffy's side--because she has this way of winning. Hunh? Is Adam out to destroy the best and brightest of both worlds so he can rule them all? Man, I'm confoozled.

Loved Anya's little high-five moment.

Cheered when Riley stood up to the Colonel. But did find his gung-ho Initiativeness early on kind of jarring since I thought he was being all double agenty.

And I HATE that we didn't get at least SOME of the Angel conversation. That's stuff I wanted to see. How she told him, what she told him. . . his reaction.

And as much as I LOVED the Angel ep. . . I'm irritated that they didn't better explain how Buffy's visit fit in in the Buffyverse. Because . . . if she was worried about Angel as a result of Giles' call, we didn't see it. Are we to assume it came after Buffy helped Riley bunk down and told him about Angel? Or was that why Angel was on her mind so much when it came to Riley being "bigoted"? Because I have not liked how little Angel seems to have been on her mind this season. . . I've been hoping they'd deal with that. That she was repressing. And they did, sorta. But. . . . I'm just annoyed.

Although, I did like Buffy better in this episode than I have in awhile. She wasn't so. . . *so*. . . and she was good supportive friend. I like when she's like that. And she has some actual convserations with Riley and tension. But it all seemed to ease so quickly. I wonder. . . is it really that easy? Or is she just afraid to really confront her relationship with Riley? Does she just like the safeness of it all? Because, I was thinking about how people say Riley is better for Buffy. But is he? He has her up on a pedestal. He changes his whole life for her. She can do no wrong in his eyes -- and she eats that up. But at least with Angel, the inherent challenge of their relationship made her work at it. And yeah, she had her fairy tale beliefs for awhile. And when they tried to make it all happy and mushy, it didn't work. But at least being with someone who was more her equal, who understood what it was like to be unique. . . that kept her somewhat grounded. At least Angel can look her in the eye and tell her she's being a brat.

Julie's Comments

I have a confession. I'm extremely Midwest whitebread. ::sob:: I WANT OZ BACK TO STAY, DAMMIT!!! ::sob:: That was so much more of a gut-shredder than when Oz left earlier, at least for me. I felt so bad for him, but I also wanted to smack him upside the head. Sure, he found a solution (not a cure) for the wolfiness, but it hinged on him staying calm. Which, is usually not the problem for Mr. Perpetually Laid Back. Except for when Willow's involved. Did he honestly think he could keep so calm with her all the time? Even during sex? If so, he'd have had a rude awakening even if she hadn't been with someone else. His keeping the beast all hinges on control, but love is anything BUT controlled. His 'cure' was always doomed. What did he expect from monks, anyway?

And just how aware is Oz as a wolf now? He changed back awfully quickly when being confronted with a pistol, didn't he? I wonder if all this control & stuff has made him cognizant to himself and his surroundings when he's a wolf. Or was he always and his brain was doing that wonderful memory block thing that so many in Sunnydale do when something disturbing happens? Ponder, ponder, ponder...., but when he goes AWOL, he really does it with style. :) I really like him. Possibly because when ever I really feel that someone needs a good belt in the face, he does it. Good, good Riley. *g* I just loved that he tried to rectify his error in taking Oz, by trying to get him out, only to be arrested. [I would like to pause here to thank writer Jane E. for the naked Oz scene. ::grin::] He knew that was pretty much the end of his career then and there. He'd been noticibly wavering, but when confronted with the supposed good guys torturing someone who isn't what he thinks of as at an animal level, he finally realized that torture and experimentation isn't good when it's being done to anyone or anything. It puts you down at monster level: maiming and killing without remorse or thought. That's bad any which way you slice it.

And then there's the subject of how he is handling the idea that not everything not human is evil. Or as it was put on Angel earlier this season, that there are some not Evil, evil things. Like Oz. And Angel. He's just not handling the idea of Buffy with anyone else, especially not a vamp. He had some problems with Parker, and solved them quite directly, with a right to the jaw (*yea!*), but seems to have had a bit of a problem with that solution with Angel. The problem being that Angel knows how to fight back. And will without hesitation. (Confession number 2: My name is Julie and I'm a Buffy addict. We had really bad weather last night during the show. As a matter of fact, it was very wicked, green skies & all. Did I take shelter? No. What did I do? Stayed in my third floor apartment to watch the show. And swore when the power went out. Right when Riley & Angel met face-to-face. I should be ashamed.)

Riley is pretty much hopelessly in love with Buffy and I think that he's terrified of losing her...for *any* reason. I think that part of this is Maggie's fault for trying to kill her and telling Riley that Buffy was dead. He had just begun to date her and was horribly grief-stricken. And coldly furious when he found out the truth. The other part of the blame should probably go to Buffy herself for letting him know that the average Slayer doesn't live very long after being called. I think that somewhere in the back of his mind is the little gremliny thought that they are living for today, that tomorrow really has a good chance of not coming, and he's tring to cram a lifetime with her now, which does not lend itself to benevolent feelings for her ex. While Buffy was hurt and used by Parker, he was only annoyed by Parker, but didn't hate his guts, at least, he didn't appear to do so. But now he's heard and seen just how she was devastated by Angel. And he also learned that Buffy wasn't as quite over Angel as she probably told him. Had she been over him, she: 1.) wouldn't have run to LA to help him so quickly, 2.) would have checked on Riley upon returing rather than moping and 3.) would have told him sooner and told him everything, rather than still doing some editing. I think that this, to him, added up to her possibly either going back to Angel or to her telling him (Riley) to go away. And that's one thing our soldier boy won't accept as in a way he's obsessed with her. He's literally given up everything for her. His job, friends, and any security he had he's thrown away for her. I just hope that Buffy realizes just how important she is to him before it can get screwed up.

Willow...I just don't know what to say. Yeah, this is where the Midwest, whitebread comes into play. Willow has grown and matured, and knows she needs a stable relationship, something that's a haven, not a place of more turmoil. For her, that's Tara, rather than Oz. For now. They've made it very clear that the other door isn't locked shut, just closed for the time being.


"Talk about weaving about half a ton of loose ends and finally getting things moving...." -- Dawn

"I've been right there backing Buffy up for 3+ seasons. But this season, in the latter half especially, I've just about had it. She's the Slayer. She is in a job that requires self-reliance, self-control, self-discipline and other good self- things. But she should not be selfISH and self-centered. And while I've always understood that she's human and young, it seems that this season has been worse than ever. I do think that's part of the point -- she's off on her own, she's got a new guy, she's young and free. I hope Joss is, and suspect he is, going somewhere with that. A scene that resonates with me is in Who Are You? When Faith (as Buffy) saves the girl outside the Bronze . . . it's that human contact, that feeling of saving a person that resonates with Faith. And that's one of the first times that Being Buffy -- the Good Slayer, gets to her.

But what strikes me is that it's been AGES since we've seen Buffy actually save a person. We've seen her fighting some demons and they hint that she patrols. But they have not *shown* her saving a human being (who isn't one of The Gang) since early this season (Beer Bad, really....). This may be nothing. It may be trivial, but frankly, I think it's important. If she loses touch with the people she's supposed to be saving, she's in danger of becoming as closed off as Faith. The two have more in common than they realize--Faith just happens to deal in violence." -- Mary Beth

"On a side note though: I did like Buffy in New Moon Rising more than I've liked her in a long time. Which is why I'm even more confused about the timing of the episodes. I'd almost expect NMR to come after Sanctuary -- because she was more supportive of Willow and open and giving than she has been in quite a while. And because Angel was so very on her mind, when he hasn't seemed to be for most of the season." -- Mary Beth

"Can I just say that Amber Benson is my new hero? Go, chica!"
"That has to be a really incredible emotional risk to take anyway, playing the gay love interest of an already established character--- but to then come in for some of the mean-spiritedness on the BB -- that just had to bite. Good for her for speaking up instead of shying back." -- Gina and Chris

"I hit the 11th Hour posting board yesterday to see what the reaction was. I was amused, because a signifigant minority didn't like Willow and Tara together... because Tara was dull. Now, I'll admit she isn't the flashiest character on the show, but she reminds me a lot of what Willow used to be, particularly if Willow didn't have the babble reflex and (more importantly) Buffy, Xander and Giles to support her emotionally. Tara only has Willow. And on top of Willow being her sole emotional support, dealing with the whole same-sex thing was undermining Willow as a support. That's a speculation based on Where the Wild Things Are, where Tara's reaction to a causual touch from Willow was severely freaked (possibily/probably, as Dianne pointed out to me, influenced by the house's air of repression), *AND* she got trashed by Faith-in-Buffy (even though she was smart and witchy enough to realize that it wasn't Buffy, like Amber said, it's still hard to hear these things). So (wow, I have long sentances), I think that once Tara becomes more secure she'll become more interesting. What's with Willow and taciturn signifigant others? " -- Lizbet

"*Exactly*. I was trying to explain this to a fellow Buffy-fan at work yesterday. She's been whining about how Tara's boring and has no self-esteem, yadda yadda. And I said, "She's Willow three and a half years ago!" (As you said, without the babble reflex.) I was disappointed to hear this person, whom I usually have more respect for, also repeat the sentiments about Tara not being "pretty enough." I happen to think that Amber Benson's actually darned lovely, especially her eyes--but even if she weren't, excuse me, but isn't it a *good* thing to get away from prettified cookie-cutter people? I loved Amber's line about actually having boobs. " -- Gina responding to Lizbet

"I was thinking about people who've said that they don't like the change because they can't identify with Willow anymore. And that disappoints me because. . .Willow's *character* hasn't changed. She's the same person (sort of.. more on that in a moment), it's just she loves someone different. But I guess Willow has really blossomed over the last few seasons, and I realized that I haven't identified with her as much as I used to (even though I've come out of my shell more, too). But I do find that Tara touches a soft spot for me. I guess I can see why some people would find her annoying, but having always identified with Willow previous, I find myself understanding why Willow likes her and wanting to see Tara blossom, too." -- Mary Beth

"I do find Tara dull (sorry, she just hasn't gotten to *do* anything that would make her individually interesting to me yet) but given that she's a side character, and they're not letting her do the Oz thing of being amusingly deadpan, that was probably inevitable.... I agree on the babble-death thing Dee said. And I have hope that Tara will be cooler, soon. She doesn't have any other ties to anything, except her unseen mom. Oz had the Dingoes to give him background; Riley had the DGLC. Tara needs something or someone else to give us an idea of what she's like when she's not with Willow." -- Chris

"As for Amber's looks--- I agree, she's pretty! Very much so. And *not* overweight. The PB'ers are nuts. I hate her clothes and her posture, but they're right for the character, and do make her look heavier than the other actresses and also less secure. Which they're meant to, I assume. People really have to realize that what they see on the screen is warped, but not in a way they can immediately pick up on -- when *all* TV actresses are thin to begin with, and the leads are often tiny or ultra-slim (like SMG) then anyone vaguely normal-sized will look big by comparison. It's a flat medium translating three dimensional reality --- it just happens like that." -- Chris

"And I loved what Joss said about her being someone who just falls in love with the person, and not necessarily being straightforwardly bisexual. It's supposed to be true of everyone, to some extent--- most people just aren't so flexible or comfortable with their sexuality that they can incorporate those feelings into romantic relationships with both genders. It makes sense for Willow, in a way, because she does react to people as individuals more than "date potential", like Cordy does with a lot of guys. (Am I making sense?)" -- Chris

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