A funny, touching, deeply cool episode and a deeply-appreciated break after the emotional roller coaster of 'Surprise' and 'Innocence'. It would have been even cooler if I hadn't been thoroughly spoiled about two months ago, but I don't know if my heart could have taken another major shock anyway.
Oz stands in front of the trophy case, inspecting Catherine Madison's statue -- he can see the eyes move -- as Willow arrives. A quick discussion of their date the night before leaves Willow frustrated, since there's still no sign of kissing action from the Oz-Man. She vents to Buffy as Larry (the Cro-Magnon from 'Halloween') hassles Oz by insulting Buffy and Willow.
That night, Xander is torn between parking with Cordelia and wigging about Willow dating Oz, much to Cordelia's frustration. The point becomes moot when a hairy arm tearing through the roof of Cordy's convertable results in werewolf interruptus. Cordelia's driving scares the werewolf off (as well it should) and they escape. The next morning, they share the story with the rest of the Scooby Gang, and Giles tells them several animal mutilations were reported the night before, although no humans were injured. Giles happily heads off to do research. And the Slayerettes head for a self-defense class. Unfortunately Larry is also in the class, sporting a serious wound from a dog bite. Oz sympathizes, displaying the wound where his young cousin bit him. Larry harrasses a fellow classmate, Teresa, then tries to feel Buffy up -- she lands him on his ass. During the fun, Giles has had a productive research session; he tells them the werewolf is probably a primal, in a complete animal state during the full moon; he also says Buffy can't just kill the wolf, because his human half is possibly innocent.
Buffy and Giles go hunting at Lover's Lane, the usual teen parking hot spot. No werewolves, but Buffy steps into a net trap laid by a werewolf hunter named Cain -- an exceptionally obnoxious and sexist werewolf hunter, who has no compunctions about killing the werewolves, human or not.
Theresa, walking home, is frightened by the werewolf and runs away --straight into Angelus, who introduces himself as a friend of Buffy's and leads Theresa away.
On a tip from the hunter, Buffy and Giles head for the Bronze -- the wolf is apparently attracted to sexual activity. They're too late though; as Cordelia and Willow commiserate about their respective guys, the werewolf drops through the ceiling and begins attacking. The Bronze clears out as Buffy and Giles drive up; Buffy immediately heads inside. She faces the werewolf, trying to get a chain around his neck, but he escapes through a window -- much to the disgust of the hunter who arrives a while later. He leaves after irritating Giles and informing Buffy that if the wolf kills anyone, it's her fault. Which is nothing new to the Slayer....
While escaping, the werewolf follows a bloodtrail to a dead body -- Theresa's, with Angelus still standing over her. Werewolf and vampire exchange snarls, then Angelus does a fade. The news of Theresa's death, "connected to" the animal mutilations, comes over the radio, where Giles and Buffy continue to hunt. As they give up for the night and head home at sunrise, the wolf begins to change back to a human -- and Oz sits up, naked and baffled.
Returning home, he calls his aunt to calmly inquire if his cousin Jordy is a werewolf. The answer is an apparent affirmative, and Oz heads directly to the library for help. Unfortunately, he comes in just in time to hear and angry and frustrated Buffy declare her intention to deal with the werewolf. They also tell him they believe the werewolf killed Theresa. Oz wigs, especially when he hears that the werewolf will walk for three nights total. Xander runs off his mouth about the hyena incident (forgetting he's not supposed to remember), then heads out to confront his prime suspect -- Larry. Oz, still wigging, refuses Willow's invitation to stay and help with research that night, which leaves Willow rejected and depressed.
Xander's locker room confrontation with Larry does not go as planned. Although Xander attempts to draw Larry out by admitting he's been through the same thing -- meaning the hyenas. Larry, however, has a different interpretation, since the secret he's actually keeping is that he's gay. Coming out gives Larry a major psychological breakthrough, and leaves Xander deeply wigged, although Larry promises his 'secret' is safe.
As Willow, still bummed over Oz's retreat, heads off with Cordelia, Xander reports that Larry is not the werewolf, but refuses to tell anything else. Buffy's guilt trip over Theresa leads her to realize none of the reports said Theresa's body was mauled. The pair visits the funeral home, and discover that Theresa was killed by a vampire. And, as it turns out, brought across. She attacks Buffy and, as they fight, tells her "Angel sends his love." Xander stakes Theresa as Buffy freezes, then has to comfort the freaked-out Slayer.
As Oz perpares to chain himself up to keep the werewolf from wreaking havoc, Willow sums up the courage to go to house and confront him. After a pretty good tirade, she notices the manacles. Oz tries to get her to leave, but before he can, the change begins. Willow screams, finding herself confronted by the werewolf, and runs for it, bashing the werewolf with a garbage can to escape into the woods. The werewolf is ready to pounce -- and gets distracted, leaving Willow run to the library. She tells all to Giles and Buffy, and they head out with a tranquilizer rifle to save Oz from the hunter and himself.
The werewolf wnders into a trap set by the hunter; Buffy intervenes in time to save the werewolf's life, beating the hell out of the hunter before facing off with the werewolf. Both Buffy and Giles are knocked down, and Willow must deal with the werewolf -- which she does, shooting him. Buffy bends the hunter's rifle, then kicks him out of town, then the three deal wtih Oz.
The next morning, Xander tries to deal with his new knowledge of Larry (who is a changed man), and his worry/jealousy about Oz and Willow. Buffy tells him to butt out, and Willow tracks down Oz. He's talked to Giles, and they've concluded he'll be all right if he locks himself up three days every month. Oz offers to stay away from Willow, but she declines the offer with no hesitation; she starts to leave -- then comes back and kisses Oz before retreating, leaving him staring after her, hopelessly in love.
Oz is a werewolf because he was bitten by his little cousin Jordy, who is apparently also a werewolf, which is known by Jordy's parents. The wolfman mode is an animal; Oz does not have control and wakes up not remembering much of anything. Angelus and Were-Oz don't like each other. Big shock, that.
Oz can see Catherine Madison in the cheerleading statue. Heightened perceptions because of the were-state? Or just that lack of denial skills again?
Willow shows no signs of being truly fazed by Oz's new status; by now, the only thing that should surprise their crew is if they fall for someone/thing that isn't related to the supernatural. So far Xander is the only one who's pulled it off (and that depends on how you count Cordy *g*). At any rate, Willow keeps it together when Oz freaks this time around, which is a nice change and should bring some balance to the relationship. Especially now that smoochies have commenced. *happy grin*
Xander and Cordelia, out on a date. Even if it is just parking. The world as we know it has ended. Cordelia seems to be taking this relationship thing a bit more seriously than Xander; of course, she's also getting the fact that Xander is thinking more about Buffy and Willow than her rubbed in her face. But she's calling him on it, which is the first step.
Oz keeps his title as world's coolest human -- well, sorta. Goes from living in a B-movie to being a B-movie (to steal an incredibly apt quote from Catherine), and doesn't freak out more than once or twice; nice to know something can actually wig him. Although it's odd to see Oz freaking -- leaves my world all askew. Seriously, though, as usual, he doesn't bother arguing with or going into denial about the facts, just puts them together and figures out what's going on, then deals with it. He had every intention of going to the Slayerettes for help (before hearing them discussing killing him) and if Willow hadn't shown up at the wrong time, he would have been chained up and no danger the third night. But I have to know more about Oz's family, if they can just have calm discussions about six- or seven-year-olds being werewolves without anyone losing it. Unless he's another one like Xander, with no parents in sight.
Also, after the confrontation with Angelus, I can't help thinking Were-Oz is going to come in real handy in that particular fight, if they can keep him from losing all control when things get, ah, hairy. (Sorry, sorry!)
Willow also comes though in a big way. Her confidence hasn't been shattered by Xander's defection; in fact, it's higher than ever. She can make fun of Xander and even get catty, while not letting it affect her relationship with Oz. She works up the nerve to confront Oz when he backs away from her, and keeps the nerve to fight him when he goes were (the trash can was a good move, but Giles really has to start training all of them physically, not just Buffy. This is ridiculous!). And, of course, she refuses to let Oz get away even knowing what he is. This is not the timid little girl we met way back in 'Welcome to the H-Mouth' -- you've come a long way, baby! And it's be so much fun watching.
Buffy is still working through a state of shock from S/I, but she is dealing, and even trying to be happy about Willow's relationship with Oz when her own love life has become hell. The guilt part of slaying setting in again, though, and Cain's cracks didn't help; and, of course, neither did Angelus's little 'gift'.
So what I want to know is, how can Xander be an insensitive creep in one scene, and a completely sensitive, caring guy in the next, huh? Teenagers. :P He goes from being more-or-less oblivious to everything Cordy's trying to say at the beginning, to being a total sweetheart when he comforts Buffy after they dust Teresa. At least he's coming through in the crisis points. But his life is getting significantly more complicated -- he's dealing with Cordelia and all those mixed emotions; getting jealous over Willow and Oz, which is focing him to see Willow in a different light (and, of course, he only wants what he can't have); and now having Buffy looking to him for emotional support, which would have been his dream come true at the beginning of the season, but now just makes his life harder, because he can't take advantage of it even if he wanted to. The poor thing; no wonder he's going in fourteen different directions all at once!
Giles and Buffy are hanging out together just way too much. He's starting to get her rather, ah, direct approach to solving problems. Not that it wasn't very cool to see him try to go for Cain's throat to defend Buffy's honor (and his own), but that is not the Giles we're used to. But Cain had the advantage of pointing out the oddities in Giles and Buffy's relationship that everyone else has been ignoring -- the amount of time they spend together (at night, even) should be raising eyebrows. I don't doubt Giles has thought about it much more than Buffy -- mostly because the concept would never cross her mind -- which is why he reacted so strongly. Still, it was cool. And the poor man now has another crisis teenage/supernatural being to look after, as if he didn't have enough problems already. Sounds like he dealt pretty well with Oz, though.
Of course, it also scares me that he got Xander's Moon Pie joke, which is yet another sign of the Apocalypse.
Cordelia is becoming more human by the day. She's willing to hang around the Bronze (in public) talking guys with Willow and has apparently been giving her advice on her love life. She's actively dating Xander (even if it is jsut parking still), and leans against him for comfort in borad daylight inf ront of other people. And she can be hurt that he'll talk about Willow and buffy and ignore her. Cordy's another one who's come along way from the bitch of 'Welcome to the H-mouth', and another one it's been fun watching.
Angelus is a bastard. I don't feel anything else needs to be said on the subject.
I dearly love the development we see on Larry -- he goes from being a sterotypical total dork to being a real person within about two lines. And it works perfectly. Beautiful job by Larry Bagby.
Oz standing in front of the trophy case looking at the cheerleading statue. Funny as hell and wonderful continuity!
Willow on a tirade about Oz to Buffy. She has come such a long way when she's annoyed a guy isn't kissing her instead of scared to death he will! And Buffy's reaction to being reminded of Angel is cool; the subplot continues to run.
Inspecting the car. Could this scene have been any funnier? Xander trying to comfort Cordelia, who's more upset about the condition of the car than scared; Oz reassuring Willow about the bunnies; Giles happy and excited about a "classic" werewolf and the Slayerette's collective disgust with him. ROTFL!
Giles and Buffy confronting Cain for the first time. Giles so badly wanted to go for the man's throat; it was funny to see Buffy being the one to hold Giles back from violence.
Willow and Cordelia commiserating about guys. Yet another sign of the Apocalypse, but really, who else can they talk to? Xander really is in a lot of trouble here.
The face-off (literally) between Angelus and Oz. Really looking forward to seeing where that's going.
Oz waking up in the woods. He just sits there, blinks, assimilates, goes 'Huh'. At least now we know what it takes to freak him.
Oz on the phone to his aunt. One of the funniest scenes in Buffy history; what is with Oz's family that a) he will calmly ask if his cousin in a werewolf and b) the question will be answered in the affirmative with no hesitation? Need more background here, desperately! But will settle for giggling at Oz.
Xander getting caught remembering about the hyena. Xander is funny, but Giles's expression in the background is wonderful!
The locker room scene between Xander and Larry. Utterly hilarious, Xander's bunny-in-the-headlights-of-a-semi expression when he realizes what's going on rivals Willow at her most wide-eyed, and the handling of the topic can't be beaten. Only this show would casually toss in a major, incredibly sensitive scene like a teenage guy coming out in the middle of an episode with no muss, no fuss, and pull it off so beautifully. Outstanding.
Dealing with Teresa. I did not expect her to pop up; I did not really expect the calculated cruelty of "Angel sends his love" (although I should have); and Xander staking her was excellent. Not to mention the nice continuity beforehand of Xander pointing out all of the times Buffy has saved him and Willow. Wow, a show that remembers stuff that happened last season. I don't know if I can handle that.
Xander comforting Buffy. He looks so damn old, even though he's not quite sure what to do with his hands, and he's trying to convince her it's not really Angel anymore, when he doesn't quite believe it himself. And her look up at himr ight before she leaves... You can just read her mind -- "I should have fallen in love with you." Pain!
Willow confronting Oz. Will, honey, we're proud of your guts, but your timing just sucked.
Buffy beating the hell out of the poacher. It was almost as satisfying to see her deck the creep as it was to see his face when she bent the gun.
Oz oh-so-sweetly trying to tell Willow he'll understand if she wants him to go away. Dear, she's accustomed to looking at a 240-year-old vampire and seeing 'best friend's boyfriend'. You've got nothing on that.
The Kiss. *g* 'Nuff said.
Questions and Comments
Oh, so Oz does own a razor. I'd wondered. *g*
Argh! Hats! I'm getting tired of complaining about the hats -- I'm not going to stop, but I am getting tired of it. Can we at least ditch the damn stocking caps? No one actually looks good in those.
Could that werewolf costume have been any cheesier? *g* I thought I'd wandered into 'She-Wolf of London' for a minute there. But if we're going to see a lot of Were-Oz, I guess they have to keep it simple, and the morph was outstanding!
And Oz got the manacles, et al, where? This being Sunnydale and all, I know, but those looked like they'd been lying around the house for awhile or something. We really must get more on Oz's family.
In the scene where Willow comes racing into the library with the news about Oz, Giles's glasses begin a magical appearing/disappearing routine. Every time the camera cuts, they pop on and off his face.
I would have paid real, serious money to see Giles explaining the Facts of Fur to Oz.
I would sell my soul to have heard the other end of Oz's phone conversation!
I think they're all taking this 'you only hurt the ones you love' thing a tad too seriously. Buffy tried to kill Angel, Jenny shot Giles, Cordelia and Xander took turns knocking each other out, we're not discussing Angelus, Oz attacked Willow, Willow shot Oz... I'm sensing a trend. *g*
I also would have paid real money to see Angelus chomp on Poacher Dude. Were-Oz couldn't do it, because Oz would have felt bad, but if we've got a psycho killer wandering around anyway, we might as well get some use out of him. And the guy sure looked like vamp food to me...
Rating: 4 stars out of 5. Loses points for the cheesy werewolf costume, but it probably would have scored higher without the spoilers for sheer shock value. A nice, twisted take on the classic 'teenage werewolf' routine, some very cool character development, and I detect some future episodes being set up.
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