Review by Mikelangelo "MikeJer" Marinaro
Posted by MikeJer on October 30, 2005Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali
Director: Bruce Seth Green
This is a retrospective review and may contain spoilers from anywhere in the series. Read at your own peril.
This is a relatively lightweight Oz episode that makes him even more part of the group and manages to also further his relationship with Willow. We find out that Oz is a werewolf, amusingly bit by his cousin. I have really mixed feelings on this revelation. I'm not too happy that another one of the group is a supernatural being. Buffy's a Slayer, Angel's a vampire, Willow's soon going to be dabbling in witchcraft, and now Oz is a werewolf. While the writers do a great job of using the supernatural as a metaphor for life, I actually liked the mix of regular humans to supernatural beings. Now things are beginning to get weighted in the supernatural and I suppose I'd have preferred otherwise.
The episode begins with a series of light and entertaining scenes. Oz is looking at the same cheerleading trophy that Amy's mom got stuck in back in "Witch" (1x03), which is beyond cool. This is a subtle reference to something that only the viewers even know about and is further proof that the writers of this show have respect for its viewers. I also love the P.E. scene where Oz says he got bit by his little cousin and Buffy 'acts' all weak with Willow cutely nodding approvingly. Larry then grabs Buffy's ass, and she flips him over her shoulder in response. I guess I've got a soft spot for seeing Buffy flex her supernatural muscles in front of the "regular people" from time to time. This is why I also loved Buffy bending the hunter's rifle with her bare hands towards the end.
The werewolf turning out to be Oz is actually pretty unexpected. I love his comment after waking up in the forest naked: "huh." Reminded me exactly of Mal's 'huh' in Firefly's "Serenity." Oz discovers part of him is now a monster and that he is a danger to those around him. We know from "Wild at Heart" (4x06) that the instincts of the beast are within him even when he's not in werewolf form.
There's also a lot of anti-men dialog in this episodes with Buffy basically saying that the typical male has no conscience, is preditory, and is aggressive. All these comments seem to fall flat when they discover Oz, one of the most gentle guys around, happens to be the savage beast they've been hunting. Perhaps what's being said here is that all men have a beast within them, but what's important is how they use those instincts. If used in a positive way, such as to create a sense of self-confidence and motivation, then having some 'beast' within them becomes an asset. But if not kept in balance all you'll see is the beast, which in turn will create a predatory and aggressive individual. Oz becomes the counterpoint to Buffy's opinion of the typical male here and essentially proves her wrong.
On the smaller side of themes, I found it amusing to see Buffy's name appear at the top of the list on Willow's search for school offenders. I also found it very intriguing to consider the possibilities of the reason behind Buffy giving Xander a close hug after he kills a vamped Teresa who had her pinned down. Buffy hugs on tight, then right after she lets go she looks up at him for a second like she's considering saying something important to him, but instead storms out of the room. Xander's reply perfectly reflects his confusion, "Oh, no, my life's not too complicated." Xander is still is very attracted to Buffy and wants to date her quite badly (I can't say I blame him either). Us viewers can tell Buffy didn't mean anything romantic by her glance or her hug, it was meant as comfort with a friend. But to Xander, who is still sexually attraction to her, it means a lot more and now has him thinking about possibilities again. This confusion is directly dealt with in the next episode.
Willow also got some good development here. She complains about Oz showing so much affection for her one moment and then going quiet and cold on her the next. At this point in the show, Oz is still a very new member of the Scooby Gang, so it is understable that he isn't immediately able to confide in them when he finds out he's the werewolf. In defiance of this lack of communication, Willow goes over to his house and unleashes Willow-fury (even an angry Willow is cute, in the first three seasons at least) on him right as he's changing into the werewolf. Willow's gradual confidence boosts gained over the course of the season, which prominently began back in "Halloween" (2x06), is finally put to full use here. It's great to see Willow be so up front with her feelings.
At the end Willow goes to talk with Oz about everything that happened. Oz is gentle and offers to give her some space after what happened. The new and improved Willow, though, decides to say "screw it" with needing time and tells Oz she very much wants to actually begin dating him and that she doesn't care that he's a werewolf. This series has the most subtle and wonderful character development I've ever seen. Willow's slow growth of confidence over the season is simply one more thing added to a long list of character growth for proof.
So while there were a lot of strong and intriguing themes running through the episode, some stuff didn't make it through so well. The werewolf suit looked preposterous and only worked when it was in the dark so I couldn't see it. In addition to the werewolf, the werewolf hunter was also dumb and came across completely one-dimensional. That's never good. I also didn't appreciate Buffy's semi-light attitude considering what she had just went through. She seems almost content with the way things are until Angelus reminds her with a dead student that he's bad now. Overall, though, the strengths overpowered the weaknesses in this solid episode.
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
QuotesWILLOW:So did you like the movie last night?
OZ:I don't know. T-today's movies are kind of like popcorn. You know, you forget about them as soon as they're done. I do remember I liked the popcorn, though.
BUFFY:Have you dropped any hints?
WILLOW:I've dropped anvils.
OZ:Oh, don't worry. I mean, they might not look it, but bunnies can really take care of themselves.
GILES:Quite. And it, uh, acts on-on pure instinct. No conscience, uh, uh, predatory and, and aggressive.
BUFFY:In other words, your typical male.
XANDER:On behalf of my gender, hey!
GILES:Yes, let's not jump to any conclusions.
BUFFY:I didn't jump. I took a tiny step, and there conclusions were.
OZ:Aunt Maureen. Hey, it's me. Um, what? Oh! It's, uh... actually it's healing okay. That's pretty much the reason I called. Um, I wanted to ask you something. Is Jordy a werewolf? Uh-huh. And how long has that been going on? Uh-huh. What? No, no reason. Um... Thanks. Yeah, love to Uncle Ken.
WILLOW:He-he said he was going through all these changes. Then he went through all these...changes!
WILLOW:Well, I like you. You're nice and you're funny. And you don't smoke. Yeah, okay, werewolf, but that's not all the time. I mean, three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around either.
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