Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E06 – The Pack

In the sixth episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a shaky premise gives way to one of the creepiest (and most brilliant) things I’ve seen on television. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

I have an image in my head, and I am going to share it with you.

I’m in a field. It’s a field because it needs to be open and inviting, like a good hug from a close friend or someone you care about, but have not seen in many years. It’s full of California poppies, those brilliant and radiant flowers that seem to sparkle as the wind and light hit them from different directions. Across the field on this impossibly perfect spring day, Joss Whedon stands with a smile on his face. He’s standing next to a massive oak tree, and the shadow it casts falls gently over him. It’s inviting. It’s comforting. He’s wearing a light cardigan and it’s the color of an eggplant. He waves at me, and I can’t help but wave back.

I start walking across the field, taking time to run my hands through the swishing poppies as a breeze picks up. As I get closer to Whedon, I see that there’s a small folding table next to him. Is it possible? There’s a plate full of freshly-baked cookies, and somehow, impossibly, I know that he made them vegan so that I could eat them, even though he’s not a vegan himself. Is that a cold glass of almond milk sitting next to the plate? I can see condensation building on the side and slowly running down. He knew, I think. He knew I loved this. I race towards the oak tree, towards the blue horizon that meets with the green and orange earth, and I can’t wait to give him a hug, to enjoy the milk and cookies, to catch up, to talk about what’s going on in our respective lives.

I’m just feet away when I realize the table isn’t real. The cookies aren’t real. The glass and the condensation and the way the light reflects off of it aren’t real. This isn’t just any normal field, either, but before I can slow my body from the rush, I realize that I’m at the edge of a cliff, and that’s why the sky met the horizon in the way that it did. It’s the edge.

Whedon sees the fear on my face, and he merely smirks in response. In one motion, he grabs me forcefully and chucks me over the edge, and as he does so, he’s laughing. He’s laughing. I fall and it is not graceful or pretty or poetic. And all I can remember is that he was laughing at me.

This is a premature statement, of course, but I know from Firefly (and especially Serenity) that I should not expect things to be cute and adorable and safe when it comes to Joss Whedon. Unfortunately, I’ve made the very mistake of doing so; I assumed that season one wouldn’t go very far in terms of violence, the repercussions of living over some nexus of paranormal activity, and especially not with death. I like what I’ve seen so far, but Whedon is clearly setting things up before he knocks it all down. I don’t necessarily want to say that season on is safe, but it’s the first season of a show that was probably believed to be a failure. I’m sure he had certain concession he had to make to the network in order to keep his show on the air, and I get that.

And that’s why this episode basically destroyed me. Because it’s only the sixth episode of the premiere season and it is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY FUCKED UP. First, though, there are a few things I want to point out and discuss that are…well, not my favorite things in the world. I think the cold open to “The Pack” is abysmal. It’s awkward, poorly acted on most parts, and sets up a premise that is so bad it made me laugh out loud. (Which, incidentally, is also a strength of this episode, since it made me think the whole thing would be horrible.)  I can excuse the awkwardness and the bad acting; in fact, it’s kind of endearing to watch. I recently watched a ton of old The X-Files episodes from seasons one and two, and while I think that show started out a bit stronger than Buffy, I would be straight-up lying if I didn’t admit how cringe-worthy a lot of it is. But 90s television has this wonderful appeal to me, so I don’t want this to seem like I’m trying to be a snob because the show isn’t available in 1080p with modern references.

However, the idea that five people could be possessed by a hyena just by looking at it was just…too much? And look, there are few people in the world who are more willing to suspend disbelief in the name of a good story than me, and this was just silly. Again, I can excuse bad effects and the like, but I have to admit that I set the bar pretty low because of the cold open.

While I will talk about the brilliance of so much of the writing and the metaphor used throughout “The Pack,” I think I also need to state that some of the choices for the portrayal of high school life were just downright unrealistic. First of all: the zoo. THE ZOO. ARE YOU SERIOUS. Now, perhaps life in Southern California is drastically different than elsewhere, but we stopped getting sent to the zoo for field trips in maybe fifth grade. I get the sense that the show was trying to convey that this was for some science class (Lance seemed to be working on something???) and they were doing…research? LOOK I DON’T KNOW. And if that was the case, WHY WAS PRINCIPAL FLUTIE THERE. Principals never go on class field trips!

On that same note, what sort of gym class plays dodgeball in high school? We stopped that in junior high at the very least, and I was completely lost as to how that was included at all. To be fair, though, it did give us that beautiful line from Coach Herrold at the very end, so I’m quite forgiving of this little detail.

Aside from one thing at the end of this episode, though, “The Pack” is a brutal and vicious study on bullying in a high school setting, but it’s done in a way that’s both clever and unique. As bad as the cold open is, I was impressed that Buffy was showing that some people literally bully in packs. I had individual bullies while I was in school (naming one of them now: Curtis Tiegler, fuck you, I hope you were run over by a pack of puppies), but there’s nothing quite as disorienting and frightful as being bullied by a group. That manifested in different ways in junior high and high school. Sometimes, it was a group of kids in class, or it was a pack of them during gym who were all friends and seemingly got off on making my life miserable. But anyway it existed, it was powerful, and that’s what “The Pack” does so well that I was blown away by how well-informed the analogy was.

Is the metaphor for hyenas really obvious and heavy-handed? Sure! But I’d argue that it needs to be because it’s just so ruthlessly applicable to the situation. I really don’t want to get into specifics for my life, as I’ve written extensively about the bullying I was subject to growing up for….well, a lot of reviews. I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS, OKAY? But the narrative that Buffy puts forth in this episode is stunning in its accuracy. While there’s a whole lot of oppression that does go on within bullying (and I’d argue that the majority of bullying is done in an inherently oppressive manner), I also can’t deny that it’s an issue of people going after those they view as “weaker” than them.

The dodgeball scene is pretty terrible to watch, but the part where they turn on Lance is not only horrifically awkward. It’s the point where the writers do their best to spell this out for us: they are going after the person they perceive as the weaker of the two remaining. Buffy stood up to them and Lance did not, so they turn on him given the chance. And that’s a fascinating observation about bullies, especially since I think that’s generally true in the way they operate. It’s not even an issue of whether they objectively are weak or anything like that; it’s all based on perception. Who won’t fight back? Who is lower than them on the social ladder of high school hierarchies? Who is deserving of their scorn because they’re weird or odd or have a different color skin or come from a different culture?

I can already sense that one thing Buffy will get right is their depiction of what it’s like to go to high school, and they certainly get it right in “The Pack.” The society that crops up in a school is such an interesting thing to me, especially since it varies so wildly from school to school. My high school followed a pretty familiar model: the jocks on the football, baseball, and basketball teams were always the most sought after and the most popular; the cheerleaders were the pinnacle of high school beauty; the band geeks were reviled by most people, as were the drama kids, though even in those groups, there was a clear order and rank. I found that I would drift about, with most of my friends on the largely-ignored cross country and track teams, between the acquaintances their and in my AP classes, with a few of those people being friends, too. Though…oh lord, I was totally the teacher’s pet a lot of the time because I couldn’t deal with bullying or being ostracized and I knew (most) teachers wouldn’t do that kind shit with me.

That’s what I like about this episode in that sense; there’s a way for me to see this sort of attention to detail and to a specific culture in the writing. But honestly, that’s just one of a few things that this has going for it. First of all, there’s an entire sequence with the entire group of possessed students walking dramatically towards the camera as FAR plays and I HAD NO IDEA FAR WAS ON BUFFY. Jonah Matranga I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. Oh god, now I can’t wait to see what other bands are in the show’s soundtrack.

Let’s just get to the best part of “The Pack,” though. The episode is strange enough, but I didn’t get the sense that I should fear these five students possessed by the spirit of a hyena. They bullied other kids, and it also leads Xander to treat Willow like shit. Is it okay for me to assume that even though he was possessed, he was still acting out some subconscious thoughts of his own? We know he likes Buffy a whole lot, and we see how that manifests later. I don’t really care that much for Xander at this point, and I don’t think this episode helps a whole lot, either. I don’t think Willow and Buffy are going to let him forget this in the future.

Anyway, back to my point. I didn’t understand why I should feel anything for this episode beyond my interest in the bullying plot. What’s the danger in having possessed students who are just crude with everyone around them? Don’t get me wrong; it’s entirely shitty, but what’s the risk? Why should I care?

I think the writers anticipated this, because then the five students eat a pig raw. And what was kind of a silly but clever metaphor quickly turned into a fucked up, surreal nightmare. Did this show just have these characters eat raw meat to satiate some animal desire? I was impressed. The ante was upped. This was interesting to me, because it’s such an unexpected thing to happen. Yet after this, things only get worse. (Do they ever get better???) When Principal Flutie calls the four original students into his office, Xander goes to confront Buffy. We’re given these two contrasting events that show how these students are starting to go beyond being rude and cruel. In Buffy’s case, Xander’s desire for her manifests in a really, really gross attempt to essentially rape her. (And as a related note, I was completely shocked that minutes after it happened, it’s called an attempted sexual assault. IN THE SCRIPT. THE SHOW ACTIVELY CALLS IT WHAT IT IS. i mean….WHAT THE FUCK THAT NEVER HAPPENS.) Buffy beautifully takes him out with a desk and then everything with Principal Flutie is somehow more uncomfortable. I kept wondering, “Where is the show going with this? Are the students just going to keep intimidating him and acting like cats OH SHIT SHE SCRATCHED HIM. Wow, that was violent. What are they going to do nex–SWEET SUMMER CHILD WHAT ARE THEY DOING OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD THEY ARE EATING THE PRINCIPAL WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK DID THIS SHOW JUST BECOME.

Legit one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen on television, made all the more worse because it’s left up to our imagination and…well, I rather liked Principal Flutie. This show just killed off a re-occurring side character IN THE SIXTH EPISODE. That makes it possible for anyone who isn’t part of the main four characters to die off; it makes this episode REALLY GODDAMN CREEPY AND INTENSE.

And I do genuinely enjoy how this ends, though the reveal of the zookeeper’s true intentions had me frowning a bit. I’m not a fan of the use of some unnamed African culture just for entertainment purposes; it felt a bit too imperialist to me. That being said, I am going to exercise my own personal canon for the fate of the zookeeper and imagine that the show is saying that if white people try to appropriate the culture of other folks, they’ll be eaten alive by hyenas. This pleases me greatly.

In all seriousness, this is an incredibly solid episode of the show and gives me an idea of the capacity Buffy will have to entertain and intrigue me. For all the action and plotting that excited me, I almost feel like “The Pack” gave me more character development than anything else. Up until this point, Xander’s been playing the Woe-Is-Me Nice Guy here, acting as if it’s rude that Buffy won’t date him or give him that sort of attention. His possession brought out the worst in him, and I don’t think Buffy or Willow will never bring this up to him. They tease him at the end of the episode, but I imagine before the season is over, Willow and Xander will have to have a conversation about what he said to her in the hallway a few days after being possessed.

I guess the worst part about it is that the final reveal of “The Pack” is that Xander’s amnesia is a complete lie, one that Giles figures out. He knew what he did to both Buffy and Willow, and I found it really gross that he kept that to himself. (And I know I shouldn’t have to state this, but that’s not a criticism of the writing. This is remarkably in-character for Xander, who puts his romantic feelings above other things constantly.) I’m disappointed in Giles as well; that’s not a secret that I necessarily think deserves to be kept, even if Giles has the best of intentions in doing so.

I’m just six episodes into this thing, and everyone’s already in an interesting place. I don’t love this show yet, but “The Pack” just did a whole lot to make me enjoy it as a whole.

 

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
This entry was posted in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

541 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’: S01E06 – The Pack

  1. Just needed to say this, but at my (admittedly tiny and private) high school, we do go on field trips to the zoo and play dodge ball a whole lot.

    Anyways, back to lurking.

  2. pancreas says:

    i get the feeling that a lot of the people here that are antagonizing Xander have never been blackout drunk. sure, the difference is that he remembers what he did, but he still didn’t have any control over it. and that’s the reason we have exceptions in our legal system for people who aren’t of sound mind.

    i like to think of myself as a pretty decent person, but when i get that drunk, i’m told that i turn into an asshole, so that’s the reason i’m sticking up for Xander on this one lol.

  3. Erin_Teacup says:

    Oh God, poor Principle Flutie. What a way to go.

    Personally I love Xander forever and ever with a love that is strong and true and which no man can rend asunder, but I totally understand why you wouldn't like him, especially at this early stage.
    I don't blame him at all for keeping his memories a secret. That kind of loss of control, knowing that you've behaved abominably towards people you love, and attempted cannibalism to boot, would be extremely traumatic.
    I'm not trying to undercut what you've said, because it's all perfectly valid, but I don't think you've really considered how this feels from Xander's point of view.

  4. Mez says:

    Failure of Secret Identity Count:
    5 + 4 (Kyle, Rhonda, Tor, and Heidi… if they ever get out of therapy)
    = 9

  5. Smurphy says:

    Ugh… Another episode I don’t like.

    I don’t like hyenas. Mostly because my laugh tends to be compared to a hyena.

    “naq jura jr trg gbtrgure nyy ur jnagf gb qb vf gnyx nobhg inzcverf” YBYF.

    I don’t like mean kids. I don’t like this episode,

    “You just run along to class… while I wait for the feeling to return to my arms.” LOVE GILES FOREVER!

    BEST MASCOT EVER…

    This episode gets too weird and Xander gets too mean… and I don’t like this episode,

    Poor mascot…

    You know what all those middle scenes of them just walking and causing trouble with background music reminded me of… DON’T MURDER ME FOR SAYING IT… Twilight.

    “It’s devastating he has turned into a 16 year old boy.” LOVE GILES FOREVER!

    “Get my books… look stuff up.” LOVE GILES FOREVER!

    WHEN DOES PRINCIPAL FLUTIE DIE? IS THIS IT? I CAN’T REMEMBER! HAHA… YES! Am I a horrid person for that flow of consciousness?

    I really hate this episode.

    AND THE NAME THING IS SOOOOO CREEPY.

    Ah… I forgot about this ending. Because they would let all that happen.

    Finding a new principal… lols.

    Cute ending… except Buffy’s clothes… Really 90s? Really?

    Also… has anyone watched an episode until the end and heard the infamous “Grrr… Arg” LOVE IT!

    In regards to your review…

    LOLS. You are so right about Joss and I love you for that little vision.

    “Curtis Tiegler, fuck you, I hope you were run over by a pack of puppies” – lols. When you google Curtis Tiegler you are the first three things that pop up…

    Eh… I still don’t like this episode.

  6. Imo says:

    Gotta say, I just love that Principal Flutie dies in episode 6!

  7. Raenef says:

    I fall and it is not graceful or pretty or poetic. And all I can remember is that he was laughing at me.

    Shh, shh, only Joss now. He will take care of you… (…)

  8. misterbernie says:

    I gotta admit I'm pretty meh on this episode and if I rewatch it at all, I tend to skip forward through half the things. It just seems so… weirdly paced? I'm not sure what it is, but… that's how it is /full of meaning here.

    Be znlor V'z whfg zru orpnhfr gbqnl vf whfg gur Cnpx, jura gbzbeebj vf NATRY! gädgöädgjkxäyögjöxäygjyäögmmx

    ETA:
    Bu, yby @ lbh guvaxvat gung frkhny nffnhyg unf pbafrdhraprf ba Ohssl. Uryyb gurer, Frnfba Frira!Fcvxr naq Jvyybj, ubj ner lbh gbqnl?

  9. etherealclarity says:

    I don't hear a lot of people saying that they love The Pack, but I really do.

    Mark, I think I get where your dislike of Xander is coming from, but I'm not sure I agree. I'm not sure that Xander is acting like he thinks that it is rude that Buffy won't date him. I do think he has a little bit of Nice Guy (TM) syndrome going on right now, but he's not treating her poorly (hyena possession aside) and he does seem to genuinely care about her aside from any romantic aspirations he may have.

    And while the hyena possession obviously pulled from Xander's own deep-down urges (towards sex with the person he finds most appealing), I think it's pretty clear that he would never, ever want to rape Buffy without the hyena's influence. He seems pretty ashamed of his behavior when Giles confronts him about it at the end of the episode.

    Anyway, that's my take on it.

  10. quenstalof says:

    Thoughts on Buffy 1×06 The Pack
    -Where are all the POC's, this is supposed to be Southern California right? I mean we should have seen someone non white by episode 6…
    -That hyena story sounds like something one of my HS teachers told us. Only he was warning us about demons. (If you hear someone call your name and you can't identify their voice, or you think you're alone, don't turn around because it's probably DEMONS)
    -Oooh I was thinking this was going to be a werewolf episode, but the hyenas are a nice twist. I wonder if they'll get the alpha female pack structure right. (I'm going to say right now that I don't think they will)
    -Punch bag Giles is adorable!
    -Speaking of adorable, Piggy!
    -This is so weird to me. Fieldtrips, and dodgeball are two actives that are no longer common in American public high schools for the most part. Not to mention school buses. The district I live in doesn't bus middle schoolers, let alone high school students. Just time period differences I guess, or you know, a fictional version of high school.
    :-( Poor Willow, I know Xander's under some kind of hyena witchcraft, but that was harsh.
    -They ate Piggy. D-:
    -Poor nerdy guy keeps finding himself in the middle of the pack.
    -Broody music.
    -"…are trying to Scully me." Teehee
    -Wait, didn't Xander open the cage? Why would they rip it apart like that?
    -Eeee That's a scary situation for Flutie. Also their casual indifference to authority is something that worries me for my future career as a teacher.
    -Is it bad that I'm sadder about the pig than the principal?
    -Yay asking for outside help.
    -Oh no offense Willow, but I think this is going to go badly, you watching over Xander all by your lonesome.
    -Uh oh! A baby. whew!
    -Ugh and this is where he manipulates you into letting him go, Willow.
    -Or not! Hurray!
    -He's so scary in that mask. He's going to do something to Giles isn't he? Mr. Zookeeper i mean.
    -I'm glad that Xander remembers what he did, but I think it's pretty awful that he's gonna just let Giles be his secretkeeper about it.

    -Also does anyone know anything more about hyena behavior? I feel like they were villainized in this ep and I wonder how much of their behavior they got right in this episode and how much they're handwaving away by calling them "a very rare species". For example, would 4 hyenas really eat up a live person? I want to know!

  11. natalia h (@mellafe) says:

    You are so right about Whedon. It took me too long to come to that conclusion myself. Oh, the tears!

    I don't remember this episode at all. Weird. 😛

  12. enigmaticagentscully says:

    -Oh shit ‘The Pack’? Werewolves, right?
    -Right?
    -Oh no that bully girl with the short hair is really really attractive…
    -I’m totally distracted by how hot she is.
    -If she’s a werewolf I may fall in love with her
    -That zookeeper guy has the best stories
    -Oh sweet, hyena werewolves! And Xander is one! I’M GONNA LOVE THIS EPISODE.
    -LOL werewolf asshole Xander is hilarious
    -Omg Herbert the pig is so fucking cute
    -He’s gonna be eaten isn’t he? I can just tell.
    -I really want a pig
    -OH GOD DODGEBALL HORRIBLE SCHOOL FLASHBACKS HELP
    -WHO WOULD INVENT A SPORT THAT INVOLVES PEOPLE WHO HATE YOU PELTING YOU WITH HEAVY OBJECTS
    -I STILL HAVE THE BRUISES
    -Yep, that scene seems familiar
    -Oh my god they are such assholes why do I still find that one girl so attractive
    -Her hair is all sexy and messed up now oh my god someone kill me
    -There sure is a lot of slow-mo walking in this episode
    -Oh Willowwww
    -LOL Giles
    “I can’t believe you, of all people, are trying to Scully me.” OMGOMGOMG X FILES REFERENCE I LOVE THIS EPISODE
    -They ate Herbert. :’(
    -Oh no they’re going to eat Principal Flutie!
    -Ohhhhh…this Xander thing just achieved whole new levels of creepy…
    -Oh my god.
    -Principal Flutie.
    -I think I’m going to cry.
    -The zookeeper is making me suspicious…who drew that circle anyway?
    -Why does no-one ever seem to mention that Jesse guy? Wasn’t he their friend before Buffy came along as well? They’ve totally forgotten him!
    -Yeahhhhh it’s the zookeeper
    -GILES!!!
    -Yay Xander to the rescue!
    -Nice karmic ending for the zookeeper
    -Wow nice hat Buffy. No really. I mean it. It’s a great look on you.
    -So Xander remembers it all? Wow that’s gotta be really uncomfortable.

    Ok, hands down best episode so far. I do love me some werewolves so that might have something to do with it. Only two quibbles really – firstly, what happened to the other kids? Were they tried for murder? Did they plead insanity? Did they get off, since they weren’t really responsible for their own actions? I’d like to know. Secondly, it bothers me a little that Xander was conveniently not there with the Principal Flutie thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s not a murderer, but it would have been a really risky and clever thing for the show to do: to have a main character be involved (however unwillingly) in an innocent’s death. I guess maybe it’s a little early in the show for that sort of thing. But overall I loved it. This show is still pretty cheesy, but it does seem to be increasing in quality pretty fast!

  13. dasmondschaf says:

    I had completely forgotten how downright dark this episode was. Sweet Christ, the things that kids get up to when they are in a group. And then the horror-movie extension to first poor little piglet and then… Principal Flutie D:

    Xander in the library cage is such an awkwardly terrible scene. NO WILLOW DON'T LISTEN TO HIM. OH NO WILLOW GET OUT OF THERE IT'S NOT SAFE WILLOW D:

    Also, regarding Xander's attempts to pretend that he has amnesia about the whole thing: I find that that's a really common thing that people who bullied other people do, once they get older and start to realize that that shit is NOT OKAY. I was never bullied, but I had friends who were, and now that we are all older they tell stories of… their bullies attempting to friend them on Facebook? What? I don't even. Just because things happened a long time ago doesn't mean they DIDN'T HAPPEN. Anyway, so looking at Xander's fake amnesia in that light just makes it even more distressing to me.

  14. cait0716 says:

    I think this is the first episode I ever saw. It's the first one I have a memory of watching, anyway.

    The treatment of Xander (and the other bullies) is interesting. There's sort of a question of whether he's responsible for what he did while he was possessed. He did seem to be acting on feelings he actually had (especially concerning Buffy) but some of it seemed to be more the hyena (he was cruel to Willow in a way I can't believe non-possessed Xander would be). The distinction between victim and victimizer gets rather blurred here.

    Buffy and Willow seem willing to forgive him for what he did, though that might also be because they believe he forgot it. A lack of memory really supports this theory. How would Buffy have reacted if Xander didn't claim amnesia?

    Of course, Giles is also pretty willing to believe that Xander was completely under the control of the hyena. He allows him his lie because he doesn't think it's necessary to punish him for behavior beyond his control. Xander feels guilt, he knows what he did was wrong, and that seems to be enough for Giles.

    Guvf nyy orpbzrf zber vagrerfgvat va shgher rcvfbqrf. Tvyrf' sbetvirarff bs Knaqre vf pbzcyrgryl va punenpgre pbafvqrevat uvf bja rkcrevrapr jvgu Rltuba. Unq guvf unccrarq nsgre gung pnzr onpx gb ovgr Tvyrf, ur znl unir orra zber unefu ba Knaqre. Nyfb, Ohssl riraghnyyl yrneaf gung Knaqre jnf ylvat va Cunfrf, naq fur frrzf cerggl hcfrg nobhg vg. Fnqyl jr qba'g frr nal pbafrdhraprf ng gung whapgher. Vg'f qvfzvffrq nf dhvpxyl nf vg'f oebhtug hc, gunaxf gb gur ybbzvat jrerjbys guerng. Guvf unccraf ntnva jvgu gur pnyyonpx gb Knaqre'f "xvpx uvf nff" va gur friragu frnfba. Gur fubj oevatf gurfr guvatf hc, ohg qbrfa'g dhvgr frrz pbzzvggrq gb chavfuvat Knaqre gur jnl vg chavfurf Ohssl naq Jvyybj. V'z fher guvf jvyy trg qvfphffrq gb qrngu.

    Flutie's death was definitely a shock. It's quite the reminder that no one is safe. Who kills off a likeable, recurring character with as much potential as Flutie six episodes in?

    Expanding on the bully theme you discussed, Mark, it's interesting to see how it intersects with the adults. The gym teacher eggs them on. Giles initially dismisses their behavior as typical. Flutie is as powerless as the students because he's just as scared of the bullies as they are. This environment is what helps them thrive

  15. Maribeth says:

    The Pack is one of my favorite episodes and I'm so glad you liked it too! I thought we did 'play dodgeball' in High School on rainy days… I just remember the brutality of the 'game' (never more than a way for the strong to gang up on the weak).

    I loved that the writers brought Xander into the pack… that it wasn't just a bad thing that Buffy & her gang was trying to fix, but that a core member of her gang was now part of the enemy. And at least we know that Xander has to live with the memories of his cruelty.

  16. Maya says:

    Nyy V pna guvax vf "GUVF VF GUR RCVFBQR ORSBER NATRY BZT V PNA'G JNVG GB FRR ZNEX'F URNQ RKCYBQR."

    WBL. WBL ORLBAQ NYY GUVATF.

  17. kasiopeia says:

    I really like this episode. Not because it's perfect or anything like that. But back when I first watched the show this was the first episode that really grabbed me and when I knew I'd love it all :) It has great character development inside a case-of-the-week story, which I think Joss is generally good at. Buffy is essentially a drama, but with added vampires, it's all about the characters and the story. And this episode is a great example of that 😀

  18. lawrence_s says:

    Gung znxrf vg cbffvoyr sbe nalbar jub vfa’g cneg bs gur znva sbhe punenpgref gb qvr bss;

    Jul yvzvg vg whfg gb gubfr jub nera'g?

    FB HACERCNERQ. Fb irel hacercnerq.

    Nyfb, V ubcr gbzbeebj'f cbfg tbrf hc ng yvxr … guerr va gur zbeavat.

  19. ghaweyriao says:

    Bu Tbq V nz fb rkpvgrq sbe Znex'f erivrj bs gur arkg rcvfbqr … VZB vg'f gur svefg ernyyl fgebat rcvfbqr bs gur fubj naq … Znex vf fb qrrcyl hacercnerq.

    I agree that high school is way too old for trips to the zoo, but we did play dodgeball in PE.

    I'm not sure how I feel about this episode as a whole. As Mark said, the premise is kind of laughable, and also on rewatching it I was bothered by the way African magic was handled; I like your head canon!

    The dodgeball scene was suprisingly well done, on rewatching.

    Poor Principal Flutie! We hardly knew ye. Fhaalqnyr unf gbhpurq naq sryg sbe vgf ynfg gvzr.

    The scene with Xander and Buffy is pretty disturbing. What bothers me about the end is not so much that Xander and Giles don't reveal that the amnesia was fake, but that they both (actually, all the characters) treat it as just an embarassing incident.

  20. Principal Flutie, eaten? Boy, this school really has GONE TO THE DOGS.

  21. etherealclarity says:

    Jnvg… jung? Jura qvq guvf unccra?

  22. Nos says:

    Okay, I can see this already happening in the comments, so I am going to suggest something to Whedon Alums:

    Url Ohssl snaqbz! Ubj ner lbh gbqnl? V jnagrq gb fnl, jr fubhyq ernyyl, ernyyl xrrc gur fuvccre jnef bhg bs Znex'f oybt. Hf svtugvat yvxr pngf naq qbtf bire Fcvxr/Knaqre/Natry jbhyq ehva n ybg bs rawblzrag sbe Znex naq znlor pbybhe uvf bcvavba bs punenpgref. Guvf vf rfcrpvnyyl gehr sbe Fcvxr if Natry. V YBIR GURZ OBGU. FB PNA LBH. Fnj gur gjvaxyvatf bs vg va fbzr crbcyr'f qrsrafr bs Knaqre va guvf rcvfbqr, fb V svtherq V zvtug cbvag vg bhg, naq erzvaq rirelbar gb abg yrg vg trg bhg bs unaq. Guvf snaqbz pna rkcybqr jvgu gur fznyyrfg fcnex, ohg vg'f orra lrnef lnyy, yrgf ohel gur ungpurg naq rawbl Znex rawblvat.

  23. One of my favorite sequences in this season is Xander threatening Buffy and his whole "You like your boys dangerous, right?" And Buffy's response being to HIT HIM WITH A DESK and drag his knocked-out ass somewhere safe. Because, yeah, while she might like a bit of danger and mystery to a boy SHE'S NOT INTO CREEPY RAW-PORK-EATING HYENAS, XANDER.

  24. pica_scribit says:

    I like this episode a lot, though you're right re: zoo field trips and dodgeball, Mark. We didn't do those beyond elementary school either. It's still a really strong first season monster-of-the-week episode. Brutal. And Nick Brendon flexes some acting chops. I thought the metaphor was really well-handled.

    Did anyone else think that Ynapr fubhyq unir orra Wbanguna? Bayl gurl qvqa'g unir Wbanguna lrg ng guvf cbvag. V qba'g guvax ur fubjf hc hagvy frnfba 2?

  25. Jenny_M says:

    Ugh, we played dodgeball in high school. They are some of my least favorite gym days in memory. As a rather heavy teen, it was always lovely to have the popular, athletic guy in class yell at me "I BET IF THAT BALL WAS A CHEESEBURGER YOU'D CATCH IT!" when I got hit instead of catching the ball.

    Fuck him, fuck dodgeball, and fuck high school hierarchies.

    (Fun note: I saw him again years later after I achieved a level of what is considered acceptable attractiveness to a lot of white, straight, cisgendered males and he hit on me. Because he didn't recognize me. Needless to say, he was informed of why he was a repugnant ass.)

  26. Ryan Lohner says:

    This episode often gets mentioned as a highlight of season one, but I've never really cared for it. Like Doug Walker of Channel Awesome, I have a real distaste for completely flat bully characters who exist only to be a bully and eventually get their comeuppance, so getting a whole group of them wasn't good times.

    Though this is your first real look at the kind of risks Whedon is willing to take, as even in an otherwise standalone story you can get the death of a recurring character. So that's nice, at least.

  27. atalantapendrag says:

    I'll say it, I love this episode. I watched it when it first aired and it kind of blew me away because I was COMPLETELY UNPREPARED. If I saw it for the first time now, I'd be more "Yep, that's Joss Whedon, all right."

    Knaqre'f nggrzcg gb encr Ohssl tnir zr frevbhf synfu-sbejneqf gb Frnfba 6 jura Fcvxr qbrf gur fnzr guvat. Wbff, lbh unir VFFHRF.

  28. guest_age says:

    Oh, Mark. After the Reavers in Firefly, you being so surprised that a group of hyena-possessed students ate the principal is kind of…adorable, actually.

    Other than that, I have no comment on this episode both because I tend to forget it ever happened when I think back on the show, and also because I don't think I'll be able to comment on it without unintentionally spoiling later seasons.

    For the record, though, my high school had dodge ball. Granted we're in the Middle-of-Nowhere, West Virginia and there's only so many things gym teachers can be expected to think of that can be done inside and without costing very much. Meh.

  29. Nomie says:

    The opening of the review had me giggling into my hand. That'll teach me to read this site at work. (BUT IT'S SO TRUUUUUUUUE)

  30. Alex says:

    I agree about the zoo field trip being a bit middle school-y but at my high school we definitely played dodgeball on occasion.

  31. Meltha says:

    I think this episode right here was the one where I mental went, "Yow. Okay, this is going to be a really bumpy ride."

  32. Karen says:

    Ah. “The Pack”. Also known as that episode where a possessed Xander tried to sexually assault Buffy (which I will admit he didn’t have control over), but then afterwards pretended like he didn’t remember the incident even though he obviously did. Seriously, Xander? Not even an apology or an “are you alright?”?

    This episode is really not good. Blegh. I don’t even know what to say about it. Mystical hyena possession is just not really a thrilling storyline. I get that the episode is trying to make some point about cliques or gangs and bullying behavior in teens and high schools, but all I took away from this episode is THESE KIDS ACTUALLY ATE THEIR PRINCIPAL. WTFFFF. Bye Principal Flutie! It was nice knowing you! You were a good guy who tried to do right by his students, so obviously you were not long for the world.

    This episode is just not my cup of tea. I am not Xander’s biggest fan, so an entire episode that revolves around him being possessed and thus acting like even more of a jackass than he normally does is just painful. UUUUUUUUUUGH. Not fun for me to watch Xander turn into an asshole of the highest degree while Willow cries. And Xander’s attempted assault of Buffy is incredibly upsetting to watch. But this is another one of those episodes that is firmly grounded in the high school setting. No vampires here, but there are field trips, high school mascots and dodgeball. It’s all about how high schoolers can be assholes and is taken to the extreme by making them possessed by other pack like creatures.

  33. NB2000 says:

    Mark you seem to have worked out how Joss Whedon works, namely by TAKING AWAY ALL JOY FOREVER.

    Poor Principal Flutie, he was so entertaining and endearing and his death is so UNBELIEVEABLY TERRIFYING. I know Jesse's death was supposed to be the one that showed that there's real danger in this story and the characters weren't necessarily safe but we spend so little time with him that it doesn't have as much impact. We've had time to connect with Flutie so his death hits harder. Naq yby ng vg fgnegvat gur geraq bs Fhaalqnyr Cevapvcnyf orvat rngra.

    I have to agree with Buffy, Herbert the Piglet is SO CUTE lookit him.

    Enaqbz gubhtug: vs guvf rcvfbqr unq orra qbar n frnfba yngre Ynapr jbhyq unir gbgnyyl orra ercynprq ol Wbanguna. Vg whfg frrzf yvxr fhpu n rneyl-Wbanguna-l ebyr va gur fgbel.

  34. karate0kat says:

    Nalbar jnag gb gnxr orgf ba jura Znex jvyy fgneg gb "ybir" gur fubj? Ur'f pehfuvat ba Natry rabhtu V guvax gbzbeebj'f erirny jvyy uryc uvz nybat, ohg V guvax Ohssl'f qrngu va gur frnfba 1 svanyr zvtug svanyyl qb gur gevpx.

  35. fakehepburn says:

    YOU ARE NOT FREAKING PREPARED.

  36. ladyknight27 says:

    I love this review for many reasons, but particularly for the description of Joss Whedon at the beginning. He’s like the American Steven Moffat.

  37. Genny_ says:

    "That being said, I am going to exercise my own personal canon for the fate of the zookeeper and imagine that the show is saying that if white people try to appropriate the culture of other folks, they’ll be eaten alive by hyenas. This pleases me greatly." Okay, I laughed very hard at this. ALSO NEW HEADCANON FOR ME.

    This is an episode I really liked on first viewing (we'll get onto subsequent stuff in a sec), but it has this weird tonal shift which is disorienting. Which works! Because that's what it's supposed to do, really. But it unsettled me, definitely. I think it's the way it went from 'heavy handed supernatural metaphor for teen problem' to 'and also the metaphor is KIND OF VERY HORRIBLE AND FUCKED UP and oh christ are they eating him, what'. I know this story, I think! Wait, no, no I… don't…

    On the other hand, it really is a very heavy handed metaphor. Alas. It's weird to me, because at least in the schools I've had in the UK- there is far less this idea of *groups* at school. I have always wondered if the incredibly rigid set of groups in schools on US television is actually representative of real life? People tend to have friends groups, and the kids that aren't popular will obviously keep to themselves and vice versa, but you don't have this idea of 'okay, so XYZ group is ABC, and 123 group is 456…' as such. And beyond 'don't be friends with those guys, they're losers' you don't tend to purely *stick to* your groups. So: is this just as ridiculous to people in the US, or is it A Thing?

    While I think that it's totally IC for Xander to keep the truth back, the way it's framed as kinda… funny… is annoying to me. IDK, the framing bothers me somehow. Anyone else got any opinions on that?

    And now, the stuff that happened to me after I got further into the show: V guvax zl sberxabjyrqtr bs fbzr fghss gb pbzr va Ohssl vf xvaq bs gnvagvat zr urer! Orpnhfr xabjvat ubj hggreyl greevoyr guvf fubj (naq NgF) pna orpbzr er: gerngzrag bs frkhny nffnhyg ng gvzrf, rira vs vg vfa'g fb zhpu gung *guvf rcvfbqr* vf fcrpgnphyneyl greevoyr ba gung sebag (fvapr vg'f boivbhfyl N Onq Guvat naq vaibyirf rkgraghngvat pvephzfgnaprf naq vg'f pnyyrq bhg naq fb ba!), V trg nyy fxrrml guvaxvat nobhg gur jvqre pbagrkg vg svgf vagb.

    V pna'g dhvgr frcrengr vg sebz gur jubyr Ohssl Nf N Ivpgvz/ynpx bs npxabjyrqtrzrag yngre ba fghss. Fb vg'f xvaq bs sehfgengvat, orpnhfr V pna'g nccerpvngr guvf rcvfbqr sbe *jung vg vf* ba vgf bja nalzber. Qbrf nalbar ryfr unir gung vffhr?

  38. knut_knut says:

    I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ATE THE PRINCIPAL (whose name I’ve already forgotten…it’s been less than 24 hours since I’ve seen the episode and I’ve already forgotten his name) AND THE PIG!! HOW COULD THEY?!

    At first, I thought this episode was dragging a bit and actually started to fall asleep (I watched Buffy in lieu of a nap), BUT THEN EVERYTHING GOT REALLY INTENSE. I was NOT expecting shit to get that fucking weird- I actually thought I was watching the wrong thing O_O

    He’s wearing a light cardigan and it’s the color of an eggplant
    Totally read this as “He’s wearing an eggplant”

  39. ghaweyriao says:

    Knaqre'f sne sebz gur bayl znva punenpgre jubfr zbeny yncfrf trg rkphfrq, gubhtu. Ybbx ng Fcvxr be Jvyybj. V guvax gur ceboyrz vf yrff Knaqre-fcrpvsvp; gur punenpgref va trareny trg njnl jvgu n ybg jvgubhg ynfgvat pbafrdhraprf, naq gur rguvpny ceboyrzf bs ubyqvat crbcyr erfcbafvoyr sbe jung gurl qvq haqre cbffrffvba/n zntvp fcryy/jungrire vf arire qrnyg jvgu gubebhtuyl.

  40. lyvanna says:

    Any episode that finishes with the line 'mount me' is good, amirite?

    I do like this episode, though I'm sad for Flutie it is a really 'shit gets real' moment.

    And I agree that the things that Xander says are at least some reflection on his subconscious thought, but whether they're just the nasty little thoughts that you brush away or whether he's revealing his true feelings remains to be seen. I thought it was interesting that Xander seems to say that he knows Willow might have a crush on him (he says something like "until Willow stops kidding herself"), and Buffy now must definitely know that Xander has a thing for her – unless she thinks it was all hyena. Of course they're all teens and they're not exactly going to come out and say something about it afterwards but it leaves an interesting situation.

    Those four other kids are in for a lot of therapy. (OMG, every time I watch this episode I always forget Eion Bailey is in it!)

  41. Noybusiness says:

    "However, the idea that five people could be possessed by a hyena just by looking at it was just…too much?"

    But you realized later that they were possessed because they were standing in the symbol and a predatory act was performed, right?

    "Curtis Tiegler, fuck you, I hope you were run over by a pack of puppies"

    How about adding some bunnies? And those extinct carnivorous kangaroos.

    "I’m not a fan of the use of some unnamed African culture just for entertainment purposes; it felt a bit too imperialist to me. "

    I believe they said Masai specifically.

  42. tehrevel says:

    I don't think you can blame Xander for what happens in this episode. He gets possessed and unless the episode states otherwise he wasn't in control or responsible at all. I assume he was basically trapped in his own head watching himself do shitty things. You don't blame Ginny for all the terrible things that happened in Chamber of Secrets or wonder if a small part of her was acting out what she really wanted to do for example.

  43. tigerpetals says:

    Mark, your "I waved back" reminded me of Death in that early chapter of the Book Thief during the burial of Liesel's little brother. I loled.

    Principal Flutie's death was horrible to watch and I will miss him. RIP Principal Flutie.

    Obl, V jvfu Jvyybj naq Ohssl unq unq guvf pbairefngvba. V znl ybir Knaqre naq trarenyyl unir arire uryq Gur Cnpx ntnvafg uvz, ohg V guvax ur yvrq gb nibvq rire univat gb qrny jvgu vg, cynva naq fvzcyr. Ur'q arire or erzvaqrq naq pregnvayl arire uryq erfcbafvoyr – abg gung ur fubhyq or, ohg fgvyy. Jura guvf vf yngre nccyvrq gb Natry, gung jung ur qbrf juvyr vfa'g uvf snhyg, ur qbrfa'g trg gb cergraq vg arire unccrarq. Naq vg qbrf ehva uvf eryngvbafuvcf jvgu rirelbar. Ohssl naq Jvyybj, gehr gb jung unccrarq urer, qb sbetvir uvz, naq riraghnyyl Pbeqryvn ba uvf bja fubj, ohg ur unf gb qrny jvgu gur pbafrdhraprf. Bs pbhefr ur npghnyyl fhpprrqrq va xvyyvat naq rngvat crbcyr naq V qba'g oynzr crbcyr sbe abg jnagvat gb or sevraqf jvgu uvz, ohg ntnva, fgvyy. V jbhyqa'g unir oynzrq Ohssl be Jvyybj vs gurl unq qrpvqrq abg gb or sevraqf jvgu Knaqre be frr guebhtu uvf cbvag bs ivrj, rira vs V srry fbeel sbe Knaqre naq qba'g oynzr uvz.

    Basically I think it's nice of Willow and Buffy to act as if what he did had no effect on them whatsoever, but it's also too nice, considering that he seems to think he's entitled to that by lying to them to avoid being reminded of it (that doesn't factor into their decision but it's true), and they have the right to be somewhat open about the bad experiences they had without having to put his feelings first (which he isn't doing for them). Gbb onq gurer ner ab pbafrdhraprf sebz guvf rcvfbqr naq gurersber ab cebbs gung gubfr rkcrevraprf unq n onq rssrpg ba nal bs gurz.

  44. Tat says:

    I was about two years older than the characters on the show so everything about being in high school at the time feels very authentic for me. I remember playing dodgeball often, especially when the gym teacher couldn't think of what else to do during the winter months. We also used to go on "cultural" field trips all the time that were loosely based on our studies: museums, films, the theater, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if some high schools did the zoo as well.

    In fact the only thing about Sunnydale that feels unlike my high school experience is the fact that people are allowed to go outside during school hours! I'm not sure if it's the same for everyone on the East Coast, but none of the schools in the area allowed much fresh air outside of gym class.

  45. PheasantPlucker says:

    Tubfg cbffrffvba va "V Bayl Unir Rlrf sbe Lbh", nygubhtu gung'f zber bs gur 'gbgny gnxrbire' irefvba guna jung jr trg va guvf rcvfbqr.

    Knaqre arire snprf nal erny snyybhg sebz uvf qbhpuronttrel qbrf ur? Rkprcg va snaqbz, jurer ur vf fhvgnoyl erivyrq sbe orvat n wnpxnff. Ur fcraqf frira frnfbaf orunivat gur fnzr jnl, jvgu uvf fgnghf nf "orfg-sevraq naq urneg-bs-gur-tebhc" hapunatrq.

  46. ghaweyriao says:

    Does anyone else see the ad for Ann Coulter's book on the side of hte page, and find it hilarious?

  47. lula34 says:

    I'm just gonna be honest and admit that I didn't re-watch The Pack because of the whole attempted rape issue. I don't deal well with rape–implied, onscreen, in a book, attempted, whatever. Just…no. But the two things I did love about this episode: the X-Files reference and the pig. Will forever love references to the Truth (it's out there) and piggies. (Until they get eaten by a pack of teenage hyenas but whatever.)

  48. Francesca says:

    I love that you love Far/Jonah. I am seriously stoked, that makes me so happy.

  49. Amara says:

    This episode always serves as a reminder to me that Willow cryface will always reduce me to a blubbering pool of sadness.

  50. James says:

    I completely agree about the icky appropriation vibes, but I have to point out the culture/tribe is named a few times as the Maasai.

    I get Xander wanting to pretend he didn't remember. He's 16, he's pretty clearly ashamed of it, I can understand wanting to pretend it never happened. I wish things were addressed at the end, but he does give them a chance to bring it up if they want to when he asks if he did anything else embarrassing. If they had said "actually, you treated Willow like shit and tried to rape Buffy" he would've apologised for it, but they chose not to remind him. Which again, is understandable on a Watsonian level, it's just not great on a Doylian one,

    I find it interesting that he goes for Buffy like that. It makes sense on a purely animalistic level, as well as playing into his existing attraction to her. Xander's pretty clearly the alpha of the pack, he would be the one more inclined to mate. Buffy is an aggressive, strong female. They avoid her as prey for hunting, but she's a sexual target. He spends the episode sniffing her, y'know? I don't think it necessarily comes from his existing feelings, so much as his purely physical attraction. Either way, it's interesting. Horrible, but interesting.

    Poor Principle Flutie :(

  51. echinodermata says:

    I saw the name of the ep and went 'oh…this one.' It's a memorable episode, but not one I really enjoy.

    So, things:
    – I find the brunette woman in the "pack" really attractive. And I thought there was something sort of predatorish with her look so good casting choice.

    – Look Mark you were entirely right about Willow crushing on Xander!

    – Buffy and Giles training! Fun!
    <img src="http://i40.tinypic.com/21bls85.gif&quot; alt="Giles dressed up in padded gear while Buffy kicks and punches him">

    – A cute little piglet with a foam razorback! More fun!
    <img src="http://i43.tinypic.com/14lndb4.png&quot; alt="Buffy holding a piglet dressed up in a green foam razorback and a U.S. football helmet">

    – A wtf face!
    <img src="http://i40.tinypic.com/qr0jzo.gif&quot; alt="Buffy making a wtf face">

    – An annoyed face!
    <img src="http://i40.tinypic.com/2dqnkpg.gif&quot; alt="Buffy and Willow sharing a look of displeasure">

    – Cheesy slo-mo of people walking!
    <img src="http://i40.tinypic.com/qsma9l.gif&quot; alt="Brunette lady from the pack walking in slo-mo">
    (Hi attractive lady hi!)

    – But then oh goody a rape storyline. I don't like Xander so far, and while I don't hold this storyline against his character, it hardly endears me to him. Plus, since he remembers what happened, it would have been appreciated if he apologized. (Also, we never actually got to see him hit with a desk.)

    – Seriously? They ate the pincipal? Seriously?! (Aww Flutie you were pretty fun.)

    And that's about it. Basically, pretty much all the plot of this episode makes me uncomfortable and undesiring of continuing watching the episode. Don't like watching the bullies, don't like the meanness of Xander, don't like the sexual assault scene. And I get that it's all supposed to be uncomfortable, but it's way down on the 'want to rewatch' list because I find it so unpleasant to watch any scenes dealing with Xander and the pack.

    Also, needs more Cordelia.

  52. beckaboomer says:

    Ahh, The Pack. This episode brought back a lot of unpleasant memories for me – namely, middle school where I was tormented by a pack of Mean Girls. I think the show handles this issue pretty well, metaphorically speaking. I did often feel like I was facing off against a pack of very rabid, very mean dogs so.. hyenas are pretty close.

    I giggled when Buffy accused Giles of trying to "Scully" her. X-Files love!

    I think Xander is genuinely horrified and humiliated by what happened to him: hence, the feigned amnesia. It may not be the most courageous way for him to deal, but I don't think it's malicious on his part, nor do I think he would have ever been so cruel to his friends if it weren't for the possession. I get why people hate on Xander sometimes, but I can't join in. He reminds me way too much of my best friend, and a literary character I am quite attached to as well (if anyone can guess who, I will be impressed).

  53. hpfish13 says:

    So the episode guide book that came with my box set (The Chosen Collection) has a bit at the beginning where Joss lists top ten (actually its twelve) favorite episodes that he didn’t direct. The first episode he lists is this one, with this explanation.

    “My God, did we realize how dark we could go with this one. And it took us MONTHS to figure out that the episode wouldn’t work unless one of ours was infected as well—bar bs gur zbfg inyhnoyr yrffbaf sbe gur erfg bs gur fubj."

    The last bit I rot13’d for mild expectation spoilers.

    Anyway, I love this episode, it’s very daring for only the sixth episode of the show. They killed Principal Flutie!!! I will miss him, he was endearing in an awkward kind of way.

    Fb rkpvgrq sbe gbzbeebj'f rcvfbqr!

  54. ghaweyriao says:

    Qbrf nalobql ryfr fhfcrpg Znex npghnyyl qbrf xabj Natry vf n inzcver naq vf cergraqvat abg gb whfg gb gbl jvgu hf?

    V xabj, V xabj, V'z cnenabvq. Ohg lbh unir gb nqzvg, vg jbhyq or n oevyyvnag cyna.

  55. rabbitape says:

    Wow, so many comments already. The Buffy fandom really is legion. And their opinions are … what's bigger than "legion"?

    I have the stomach flu, so I'm a little light on coherence today. And I definitely don't have the mental fortitude for all the rot13 floating around.

    I will say, it's a totally understandable reaction to defend Xander and his actions under possession, but what if his behavior hadn't stopped where it did? What if Buffy hadn't knocked him out with a desk, or he had participated in the eating of Flutie?

    I loved Xander when I first watched the show, and I was relieved not to be faced with those questions at the time. But now I think those are some pretty important issues. And I can't help feeling like there is a degree of culpability — not for what he did as a hyena, but for how he approached his actions afterward.

    Anyway, all this typing is making me dizzy, and I need to re-dose on all my delightful anti-sickness medications. Yay, flu!

  56. maisontv says:

    Mark, I laughed for five minutes straight at your opening for this post. That is pretty much exactly what it is like to be a Whedon fan. Might as well get used to it now.

    I forgot this episode was so early in the season. It's the first time things really get real as far as death in Sunnydale. The other episodes so far have killed off characters we've just been introduced to in that episode, but here they kill off someone we've had some time to get to know and possibly become attached to.

  57. Inseriousity. says:

    I loved dodgeball at school. Was the only sport where being a small skinny boy came in handy! -shudders at the thought of rugby- although we didnt play it like they did, it was just a free-for-all-hide-behind-tallest-person-you-can-find game.

    I think this is a fairly good ep. It does go to dark places. I love that you don't see the scene of him being eaten but it focuses on a picture on his desk that just makes you think of his family and how happy he must've been. Then again, Willow cries and my heart breaks :(

  58. Almost four years after I first watched this show and I still don't know how to feel about the ending of the episode. On one hand, I feel like even if he wasn't directly responsible for his behavior, the descent thing to do would be to at least apologize. On the other hand, I can definitely understand how becoming possessed, losing control, and almost raping one of his friends and then almost getting his best friend since childhood killed would be deeply traumatizing for him. Then my brain goes in a circle and says "Exactly! Those are awful terrible things and he should be on the ground groveling for forgiveness! Traumatizing for him?? What about Willow and Buffy?" But in the real world, there's no such thing as being possessed so it's hard to figure out what would be the best thing to do in such a situation. And honestly, as much as Xander annoys me sometimes I feel more than just a little bad for him. I think if I was in his shoes I wouldn't even be able to function after something like that and remembering all of it. Hell, you'd probably have to fight with me to get me to even leave the house ever again.

    TLDR for the above; THIS EPISODE CONFUSES ME MORALLY

    But, as a kid who was bullied extensively in elementary, middle, and even early high school, it really, really creeps me out how well the pack analogies in this episode reflect reality. I remember literally being cornered in bathroom stalls by groups of kids and having them beat the shit out of me, and I always felt like some rabbit being stalked by a bunch of foxes or wolves or something. It's like you can see this predatory instinct in their faces, and you notice them watching every student carefully for any sign of being different or weak and then stalking after the poor kid once they find a target. It's really fucking creepy.
    Also, I feel really bad for the other "pack" kids even though they were assholes at the beginning, because holy shit they ate their principal alive and we know they can remember it. And worse they can't even seek therapy because how do you explain to a therapist that you were possessed by a hyena and murdered and cannibalized someone? If the school really did just explain it away that it was wild dogs, then no one is even going to approach them about it. I don't know, maybe/hopefully there's some secret therapy agency in Sunnydale to help people dealing with supernatural-related trauma (and it wouldn't surprise me if there was), and Giles can send them there or something.

  59. maccyAkaMatthew says:

    And I do genuinely enjoy how this ends, though the reveal of the zookeeper's true intentions had me frowning a bit. I'm not a fan of the use of some unnamed African culture just for entertainment purposes; it felt a bit too imperialist to me. That being said, I am going to exercise my own personal canon for the fate of the zookeeper and imagine that the show is saying that if white people try to appropriate the culture of other folks, they’ll be eaten alive by hyenas. This pleases me greatly.

    I'm also not a fan of the use of generic ethnic music and in this case it sounds like someone found the Lion King preset on their synth and just let it run for a bit.

    Actually, the African culture is named (it's the Maasai) but remains unrepresented on screen. So, in my version of the ending, the Maasai tribesman who has been tracking the idiot that stole some dangerous hyenas burst in and saves Willow, knocking said idiot into the hyena cage before making a righteous speech about having to clear up the mess made by westerners who don't understand how things work.

    I didn't comment much last week, while the new server was being sorted, but I wanted to say something about the mythical themes that Buffy is accessing and what baggage they bring with them. Thus far, I think only Witch has succeeded, really. The idea of an evil female witch is loaded with quite a lot of misogyny, but the actual story didn't portray her as inherently or inexplicably evil, even though she spent it doing terrible things. It preserved her humanity and you could see the pressures that led her down a terrible path, even while not agreeing with choices she made. Even without considering generic and sexist depictions of women, that's just more interesting.

    Teacher's Pet on the other hand just reads, to me, as the fear of female sexuality and loss of control writ large as fantastical horror. There's nothing really to relate to there, unless you buy into the idea that women are scary – and then I'd much rather that idea was challenged than reinforced.

    The Pack finds inspiration in the likes of The Cat Peoplebut doesn't really address the orientalist/exotic baggage that comes with it. So that's disappointing. But also by making the hyenas take full control of the students, it somewhat robs the bullying metaphor of its power. Sure you get the effects of extreme bullying, writ large, but no insight into the bullies or even any sense of moral agency or choice on their part. They just end up being victims of this exotic, unexplained, force.

    Also, in order for the script to allow the possessed students to do something really terrible, they have to contrive to have Xander elsewhere, attempting something almost as bad, but which he cannot succeed in (because Buffy is too strong for him). Now there is still a consequence – because Xander knows what he tried to do and cannot bring himself to acknowledge that, for Buffy's sake. Yes, she could deal with it, but it was still traumatic and he should have tried to make it right with her.

    On the other hand, though, we don't see the consequences for the remainder of the pack, who now have to live the memories of eating their principal. Except in my version, where the Maasai tribesman stays around to help them (and Xander) come to terms with what they were made to do. Which isn't perfect buy would at least show someone taking some responsibility and trying to make things better.

    All in all, I think they could have put a much more interesting spin on things than they did.

    Interestingly, they haven't actually done much with the vampire mythology so far. Or, rather, they've deflated it – as part of the inversion of pretty blonde victim, they've turned what's traditionally the single, powerful, mysterious and sexual figure into a mass of unattractive slayer-fodder. That's quite refreshing – trashing mythology is as viable an approach as reinventing it.

  60. Mary Sue says:

    In memoriam, Principal Flutie.
    We hardly knew ye, before you became…
    tasty? snack-y?

    Hm. Guess I won't quit my job to become a poet.

    And yes, we did a zoo trip in high school, and it was just this kind of zoo trip, complete with a worksheet to fill out to make the trip theoretically 'educational'. Which was even more freakin' funny because the zoo was also an amusement park, so there were 'physics' questions regarding roller coasters, too. I'm a year older than Buffy, beeteedub, so my trip would have been at about the same time.

    NUNUNUN GUVF ZRNAF GUNG JR'ER NYZBFG GB CEVAPVCNY FALQRE LNL!

  61. fantasylover120 says:

    No we sometimes played dodgeball in my high school PE class. I hated it then too (and that line by the coach is beautiful and accurate) I have no commentary on the zoo trip or Flutie being there. It was probably all just because it was convenient for those circumstances to be there.
    I still miss Flutie. He was good for some laughs.
    Show of hands, who couldn't eat bacon or sausage for awhile after this ep? ;raises hand;
    I sort of understand why Xander pretended to forget even if I don't agree with it. He's probably disturbed by what he did and is wrestling with the knowledge of these dark parts in him that he possibly didn't realize existed. Being a teenager he probably doesn't want to cope so instead he pushes it away and buries that knowledge. Not cool, I agree, but it makes sense for Xander's character to me.

  62. Aria says:

    Ab, vg vf abg, naq vg vfa'g ernyyl qrnyg jvgu va "Cunfrf" orlbaq:
    OHSSL: Lbh fnvq lbh qvqa'g erzrzore gung.
    KNAQRE: V fnvq V qvqa'g erzrzore gung.
    Fb, lbh xabj . . . abg qrnyg jvgu ng nyy.

  63. shyfully says:

    This was one of the few episodes where the metaphor to real high school stuff didn't work for me. Doing a story line about bullying and attempted rape would be good. Doing a story line where characters are possessed and forced to act on their darkest impulses without their free will would be good. But those two things together? Not so good for me. Maybe it could have been if the ending had treated Xander's and to a lesser extent, the other pack member's, experiences in a more complex light, looking at how doing those things would shake someone like Xander, who obviously thinks of himself as a good and moral person, so having him at the end kind of in a state of shock that he would have acted that way and had it come, at least a small bit, from his own impulses but without his tempering qualities able to be at play… that would have been interesting. Instead it was treated like an embarrassing joke. So, no points from me on that.

    I thought Buffy with the pig was really cute. That was a freaking adorable pig.

    Also, Flutie's death! That surprised me on first viewing immensely. Flutie was really not cut out to run a school filled with evil stuff happening, poor guy. RIP the Flutemeister.

    I found the music in this episode to be over the top with the all the CHANTING and the DRUMS and AFRICA DO YOU GET IT. Show, I got it. Shhhhh.

    I really, really loved that Willow started researching hyenas when they figured out what was up with Xander.

    Also, fun fact: I never went to high school, so I just assumed that everything in Buffy was pretty accurate in terms of class trips and dodgeball etc. Anyway, inaccurate or not, I did love the dodgeball scene. I was pretty lucky in my dodgeball experiences, I guess! At my junior high everyone just tried to hit their friends since who cared about all those other people or hide all the balls on one side to be annoying to that one group of guys who were trying to actually play the game. I thought all the acting was pretty good for season one of a nineties show standards in that scene! They expressed all this stuff without speaking! Gold stars all around, especially for Willow for the face she made when she got taken out.

    Anyway, not a favorite episode of mine, but I do like how it upped the stakes in terms of what the show is willing to do.

  64. Bill says:

    I'm surprised you don't like Xander, but only sorta. I get the dislike. Maybe if I watched season 1 again I would hate him too? I don't remember it that well.

  65. etherealclarity says:

    "…it's possession-free Xander that should act like a decent person and apologize and check on her emotional state, regardless of whether he was directly responsible or not."

    Well, yeah, probably. But I don't see how this is unforgivable given that he is also a victim of the zookeeper, that he himself might have some emotional trauma from the incident that he would prefer not to rehash at that time (and to me it seems like the episode implies this, nf jryy nf yngre jura gurl pnyy onpx gb vg va Cnatf). It's not the best thing for him to do, to pretend he doesn't remember, but it doesn't seem to justify the onslaught of hate that is coming his way in this comment thread.

  66. Gwen says:

    I skipped this episode when I watched Buffy (I skipped a lot of episodes when I watched it, to be honest), pretty much because I didn't want to deal with the attempted rape scene and its subsequent dismissal (unq dhvgr rabhtu bs gung jura jngpuvat Tb Svfu, gung rcvfbqr jnf yvxr gur bssvpvny Encr Rcvfbqr, jvgu obahf!qvfzvffvir!Tvyrf oehfuvat bss Ohssl sraqvat bss n frkhny nffnhyg, jung gur penc). So I don't have a lot to say about it that hasn't been said already, but:
    – They might be having a field trip to the zoo (chaperoned by Principal Flutie) because they're having difficulty replacing their biology teacher? I mean, I'm sure that high school has tons of problems with filling in faculty slots, but losing two biology teachers to death in half a week can really give a "Defense Against the Dark Arts" vibe to biology teaching in Sunnydale. In the mean time, school must go on–and what's more biological than a zoo field trip to watch zebras mating and stuff?
    – It might be that Willow and Buffy give Xander a free pass on the "I don't remember anything!" thing partly because they too want to pretend that what happened this episode never happened (and in particular that it was in no way influenced by Xander's desires). If Xander doesn't remember anything, then he must not have really been in the driver's seat, it was all the hyena spirit talking, and we don't have to talk about it or even acknowledge what happened at all. If he can forget and move on, so can we.

  67. Meg H. says:

    When I was first watching this show with my friend, she pointed out how the hyena "pack" of bullies was like the Cullens. And at first I was like, "Pff, no, because these guys are actually SUPPOSED to be unpleasant," but from now on, every time I watch this episode, I CANNOT UNSEE IT. They're like the Cullens if they'd actually done what vampires are supposed to do and EAT THINGS. They already have the superiority complex and shiny hair, as well.

    okay going back to hide in shame forever please ignore this comment

  68. hamnoo says:

    I love Far in this episode too!
    I remember endlessly repeating that scene, over and over, because it was just so cool.

    And re: your take on Whedon: I actually enjoy the way he fucks with the viewer. Call me a masochist, but I love him for laughing while pushing one down the edge.
    And maybe it's because Buffy is my first love and will never leave my heart, but I think Joss Whedon also trumps Moore and Eick.

    Because he celebrates it. He laughs and expects you to join. He doesn't undermine the pain and the shock of the thing, but he also sees another angle.

  69. robin says:

    "Is it okay for me to assume that even though he was possessed, he was still acting out some subconscious thoughts of his own? " This is what I've generally assumed as well. I think this is one of those things where the viewer interprets the canon and there's no right answer. But I tend to agree with you in this case. I think of it like… Jesse as a vampire. Becoming a vampire gave him a "demon" that retained his personality and interests (from what we could see from that little bit of screen time anyway) but did not keep his empathy, morality, ingrained social constraints… And that's basically imo what happened to Xander here. So is he responsible for his actions? NO. But do they come from something in him, unfiltered by his learned behaviors/morality/compassion? YES.

    "That being said, I am going to exercise my own personal canon for the fate of the zookeeper and imagine that the show is saying that if white people try to appropriate the culture of other folks, they’ll be eaten alive by hyenas."
    I love you. And I dub hereby dub this personal canon.

    You're right that the open is very very weak, and in general there are some very weak elements to this episode. But what saves it is how far the writers were willing to go. RIP Principal Flutie. We hardly knew ye!

    I would say though that I think it was a mistake and a cop out to create a whole new bullying group to play the part here when we ALREADY have one that has been already set up through the season: Cordelia's group. I think the episode would have been 300% stronger for me if they'd made those girls and their boyfriends the ones infected by the hyenas. It would have been much improved because (a) these are pre-established characters and (b) the pre-established animosity with Cordelia would have made Xander joining them for an episode very interesting

  70. BradSmith5 says:

    What bothers me is that Buffy has a discussion with Willow about how long it's been since she's had a date. Did they forget all about Owen!? Could Buffy have been possessed by one of those spells that DOES alter memory!? And if so, by what animal? The pig? The chimp from the opening? A hypothetical question: if Buffy was possessed by such a chimp, and Xander possessed by a hyena––who would apologize? (No, I'm kidding. DO NOT TAKE THAT SERIOUSLY.)

  71. notemily says:

    Ahahaha Mark you think you know what Joss Whedon is capable of. You have no idea.

    At my high school the popular kids weren't necessarily the meanest. There were some people who were popular at my school in the literal sense of the word–that is, they were well-liked by everyone, in part because they were genuinely nice people. But I did know my share of bullies, both the overt (that fucking kid on the bus who used to slam my head into the window in an attempt to make me cry) and the subtle (people making underhanded jokes about how uncool I was WHILE I was hanging out with them). (It's so weird when the people in the latter category try to friend me on Facebook.) Maybe it helped that we had no football team or cheerleaders.

    Eventually I learned to wear my social outcast-ness as a badge of pride, and the other outcasts were more interesting to hang out with anyway. (This led to a few awkward situations with dorky guys latching on to me as a crush because I was the only girl who was actually nice to them. I was… not good at dealing with that in a graceful way. Which is one reason why I have so much sympathy for the teens on this show acting like assholes sometimes, because I can remember when I was like that.)

    Anyway, thoughts while re-watching THE PACK:

    Hi, more people we've never met before. I do like the one girl's short dark hair, though. I had hair like that once upon a time.

    Everyone's eyes flash yellow when they see the hyenas. OMG THEY'RE ALL YELLOW CYLONS! Is it bad that I think Xander's Evil Smile is kind of hott? *hangs head in shame*

    Love Buffy's wavy season-one hair and the way it frames her face so adorably.

    Willow/Xander! I love her crush on him! It's adorable. Although seeing Xander be mean to her this episode is awful. It's okay though, we can blame it on Hyena mojo, not Xander's personal awfulness this time. I love at the end when the FIRST thing he does after the possession breaks is help Willow, and then later he's like "nobody messes with my Willow!" <3

    Xander acting weird at the Bronze after the field trip is hilarious. "You took a bath." "Kid's fat." Nick Brendon is killing me, I love it.

    Pig! The pig likes Buffy! Awww. It's so cute!

    The dodgeball scene is interesting because jesus christ, gym class really IS a place full of predators and horrible ritualistic activities. I love the coach at the end–"This game is brutal. I love it." 😀

    Noooo not the pig! Not the adorable pig!

    Grunge music of we just ate a pig! Slow-motion walking of we just ate a pig! God, this scene goes on FOREVER. WE GET IT, THEY JUST ATE A PIG.

    "Or maybe there's something wrong with me." Oh Willow, I just want to give you a big hug.

    "He's turned into a sixteen-year-old boy. *beat* Of course, you'll have to kill him."

    "You're trying to Scully me." X-files reference for Mark!

    I like how they conveniently remove Xander from the group before the pack resorts to cannibalism. Of course, then he gets to try to rape Buffy, so that's… better? Apparently? :/

    Poor Principal Flutie, we barely knew ye.

    Hey! Angel's not mean! Shut up, rapey Xander.

    Good thing Giles has a person-sized cage they can lock Xander in! I get that this is supposedly the book drop, but it's still ridiculously convenient.

    "Now I know." What a great Willow moment.

    Giles gets knocked out again in this episode! Isn't someone keeping count? That's three, I think.

    I don't know why Buffy is wearing a black skullcap, but it's kind of cute.

    It would be kind of nice if Xander APOLOGIZED for trying to rape Buffy instead of pretending he didn't remember. But I agree that it's in-character for him to pretend to forget and hope it never gets brought up again.

  72. sporkaganza93 says:

    "Whedon sees the fear on my face, and he merely smirks in response. In one motion, he grabs me forcefully and chucks me over the edge, and as he does so, he’s laughing. He’s laughing. I fall and it is not graceful or pretty or poetic. And all I can remember is that he was laughing at me."

    "V'z abg bxnl. V xarj gubfr thlf. V'q tb gb gung ebbz rirel qnl. Naq jura V jnyxrq va gurer, vg jnfa'g bhe jbeyq nal zber. Gurl znqr vg gurvef. Naq gurl unq sha."

    I lol'd

  73. xpanasonicyouthx says:

    god buffy fandom

    can i just say how much i love you already

    we've only been together a week and it's so lovely

  74. Zoli says:

    That makes it possible for anyone who isn’t part of the main four characters to die off

    Mark, did you learn nothing from watching Serenity? Even being a main character on a Whedon show doesn't mean you're safe. Granted Joss Whedon is not quite as kill-happy as GRRM, where all kinds of characters die every book…. but it's still always an option. It seems like the #1 rule for Whedon's works is "no one is allowed to be happy," so a tragic death of someone important is always possible. D:

    (This is not meant to imply anything for Buffy; I've only seen 3 seasons myself. I'm just commenting based on the other Joss Whedon shows I've seen.)

  75. Hecubot says:

    Yikes, lots of Xander hate/dislike. Well, he’s supposed to be a confused mass of hormones and better impulses that he’s not very capable of negotiating. Knaqre ungref znl arire pbzr nebhaq ohg ur’f xvaq bs fubja ng uvf yrnfg-yvxrnoyr, zbfg ubea-qbttl rneyl va gur fubj.

    It’s interesting that people are focusing on him not apologizing or dealing with his possession. All of the characters on the show are quite flawed and human and placed in extraordinary circumstances, so please don’t be too quick to judge them all. But it is true that Xander is quite avoidy and many of his worst sins are sins of omission.

    Nyfb, V guvax guvf vf bar bs gur zbfg pyrna-phg pnfrf bs cbffrffvba va n fubj jurer inevngvbaf ba fcryyf naq cbffrffvba naq qrzbavp vasyhrapr ner evsr. Fb…znal zber qrongrf gb pbzr fvapr guvf vf n cynpr jurer Wbff yvxrf gb tb, naq ur’yy senzr gur nzovthvgl bs zbgvir naq npgvba znal znal gvzrf, naq zbfg bs gurz jvyy or sne zber tenl guna guvf.

  76. EmlianaDarling says:

    Mark, I’m on my phone, so a detailed review will have to come later tonight. Bt I just wanted to say that this season? Aired when I was seven. Everyone at my school was watching Buffy, and I wanted to be included. So my mum was like, okay!, and we tuned in to watch one together to see if it was any good/appropriate for my age.

    AND OF COURSE IT WAS THE MOTHERFUCKING PACK THAT WE WATCHED.

    I swear, I have never seen my mum more freaked out by an episode of televison. This episode is the entire reason I never saw another episode of Buffy until I was a grown up. Holy shit, this episode is SO CREEPY.

  77. egao-gakari says:

    Wow… I'm impressed, Mark! You managed to find something to like about "The Pack!"

    I must confess, this is one of the ones I always skip on rewatches, and I was busy today and couldn't watch anyway. But I'm glad you liked it, even though I don't, because it only gets better from here, so I'm not worried anymore that you'll hate the show!!

  78. Shay_Guy says:

    I grew up in small private schools, and I didn't really have much firsthand exposure to bullying. But I do have some understanding that it happens in packs. In a group of six people, it's not really feasible for one to bully the other five. And a lot of talk I've seen about it on the Internet says that most traditional advice is useless or worse — which makes sense to me.

    I am curious about actual bullying strategies and tactics, along with possible counters for them. That is, what actually would work against your typical bully pack. Is there typically a "divide and conquer" element involved if they have a large number of victims?

  79. The_Consultant says:

    My random thoughts for this episode:

    – The Pack has never been a big favourite of mine. Possessed Xander is just so icky. I like my Xander as goofy comic relief/loyal friend.

    – I think I also didn't latch onto this episode when it first came out like I did with some of the others because it didn't have Angel in it (I had a bit of a one track mind back then) I appreciate it more on the re-watch now that I am better equipped to analyse the different themes it is exploring.

    – Random point: Does it bother anyone else the the video Willow is watching in the library seems to be on wild dogs and not hyenas? They are actually very different things.

    – I love Marks description of Joss Whedon – vf nalbar ryfr jbeevrq gung frnfba gjb vf tbvat gb oernx Znex? V pna'g jnvg sbe gbzbeebj'f erivrj jurer ur svaqf bhg Natry vf n inzcver (ubj qbrf ur abg xabj guvf!? V'z cerggl fher rira zl zbz xabjf guvf!). V'z vagrerfgrq gb frr vs Znex orpbzrf nggnpurq gb Natry orpnhfr vs ur qbrf Fhecevfr/Vaabprapr naq naq gur svanyr ner tbvat gb qrfgebl uvz. (V qvqa'g zrna gb fbhaq fb tyrrshy jura V fnvq gung, vg'f whfg… vs V unq gb srry gung cnva, gura fb fubhyq ur!)

  80. MandaCookie says:

    Okay, yay, new blog. Happies! I didn't realize you didn't post on the weekends, and I had a sad. And I wanted to just share how much I love coming here every day and sharing the love. It fills me with warm fuzzies and I feel all kinds of empty when I leave… and then I went to my email, and I realized I have my account set to email me when someone replies to my comments. So I spent another hour or so reading and replying. It's such a great feeling. Being… more than an insignificant speck.

    I kept getting distracted reading through this one, because I read a lot of it out loud to my husband, and we discussed our high school experiences, especially those dealing with bullies. I haven't dealt with a bully pack. I've always dealt with individuals or pairs. I know I'm in the minority when I say I actually liked this episode. At least compared to first season as a whole, it's one of the better ones. And Mark covered the reasons why. Though I had a different bullying experience, I guess it was comforting to know this episode spoke to someone on a personal level.

    I -have- dealt with friends turning on me and tormenting me. It's not a fun experience. It's even worse when the person hurting you is your only friend, and you take the abuse full-front because the alternative means sitting alone in your room all day. I didn't even realize how miserable I was until after high school, when things got phenomenally better for me. Okay, yes, I'm super lonely in my current situation, but it's not a lack of friends. It's a lack of accessibility to them. So this place is becoming a sort of haven where I can express myself daily.

    Okay, sorry to be super depressing/clingy. Just wanted to share that.

  81. notemily says:

    Please read the Spoiler Policy before posting.

  82. MandaCookie says:

    V xabj, V guvax guvf vf gur rcvfbqr zbfg crbcyr unir orra nagvpvcngvat! V'z rkcrpgvat ybgf bs pncf naq JGS'vat va gbzbeebj'f oybt. Fhcre rkpvgrq.

  83. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Personally, I quite like that Xander kept the fact that he remembers every thing he did secret. Maybe its not the smartest move, but I suppose he's thinking "What're they going to gain if they know?" Still, it must not be easy to know that your darker feelings and desires were amplified and acted on, and that last shot of him pulling his hair really shows how distressed and….even traumatised he was.

    I wasn't that impressed by the cold open, either. Partly I was thinking "how many complete jerks exist in this school?" I mean, I was pretty heavily bullied, but on the whole, they were a more…subtle kind at my school. Less out-right insults and harassment. (Although, in my final year, some kids did beat up a new black kid because of his race WHICH WAS WONDERFUL. China really stills has a lot of racism going, unfortunately). In the end, I suppose the fact they were possesed by hyenas makes up for their behaviour, as well as the metaphor.

    ….although, I do wish that hyenas would stop getting such a bad rap. Ever since the Lion King (which I love, btw) they get pretty badly mocked, and they don't deserve it. Also, I agree with Mark, its always unforunate when a nameless culture is taken from, or even invented, simply to be weird and scary.

    Despite these minor qualms, I did really like the central idea of this: Buffy and Willow trying to help and protect their friend, and he gets possessed. I find it really sweet that Buffy immediately can tell that something's wrong, and I think it means that before long, these four people are going to be so paranoid.

    On that note…can someone please teach Willow and Xander how to handle a weapon? Or at least give them a gun or knife or something. I mean, I know these things aren't easy to kill, but the ability of defend themselve in some capacity would be better than NOTHING.

  84. notemily says:

    Now that I think of it, my own school had the gym as a separate building, so we did have to go outside pretty often.

  85. Kari18212 says:

    Ugh dodgeball. We played it up through high school and I distinctly remember having to play against upperclassmen boys who spent half their lives working out as a freshman. A freshman girl who hated pretty much any type of physical activity and also hated getting hit. Yeah, dodgeball was great…. My mission when gym teachers would force us to play was to try to be the second or third person out (the first one out always got crap from their teammates and i could not handle any more of that in gym). This may have included several times pretending I was hit when I actually wasn't… Gym class was not my friend lol.

    Also, since this is on page 4 it seems unlikely anyone will see it, but another moral dilemma to think about besides the icky sexual assault.

    Ohssl vf vaqverpgyl erfcbafvoyr sbe gur qrngu bs gur mbbxrrcre. Boivbhfyl, ur jnfa'g va nal jnl n tbbq thl, ohg pbafvqrevat ubj zhpu bs na vffhr vf znqr yngre nobhg ubj fynlvat qbrf abg tvir bar n yvprafr gb xvyy, V sbhaq gung n yvggyr jrveq. Abj, V qvqa'g frr nal bgure jnl bhg bs guvf fvghngvba sbe gurz, ohg V gubhtug vg jnf bqq gung vg jnfa'g rira zragvbarq. Gubhtugf? Pbhyq whfg or gung guvf vf frnfba 1 naq gurl qvqa'g xabj gurl jrer tbvat gb tb va gung qverpgvba, ohg V ungr pbagvahvgl snvyf fb V'q crefbanyyl ybir nabgure rkcynangvba :)

  86. Scarlett says:

    I don’t really have any problems with Xander wanting to pretend he can’t remember it. His body and mind were controlled by something other than his own will. I afford him some leeway here that if those memories are hard for him to confront then it seems logical that he’d want to retreat from them. Not everyone is up for dealing with those issues head on, especially so soon after a traumatic event.

    I don’t have a lot of love for Xander’s “Nice Guy” ™ behavior sometimes but in this regard, I think this situation is akin to having watched a video of yourself being forced to do things while drugged. You know it all happened but you had no power to cause or prevent it.

  87. Peter says:

    All these comments about Xander and the "amnesia". He consistently shows physical courage all the time, and moral courage almost never.

  88. MandaCookie says:

    Va zl rkcrevrapr, fuvccvat jnef ner fbzrguvat gung pna trg bhg bs pbageby ernyyl dhvpxyl, jvgubhg rira ernyvmvat vg. Fb V'z gbgnyyl sbe guvf vqrn. Cyhf, vg graqf gb biregnxr bgure pbairefngvbaf.

    Gung, naq V unir guvf graqrapl gb snyy ba gur zvabevgl raq bs gur nethzrag, chggvat zlfrys va n onq fvghngvba. V zrna, qrsraqvat Natry jura V ernyyl qba'g yvxr uvz, whfg orpnhfr V qba'g yvxr gur vqrn bs Onatry snaf orvat tnatrq hc ba.

  89. stefb4 says:

    I'm watching along with Mark, except the more I watch season 1, the more familiar a lot of these episodes seem. I was seven when Buffy came out so I was really young, but I probably watched with my brothers, and I am almost positive I've seen this particular episode before.

    Things I wrote down while watching 'The Pack':

    – "Of course, you'll have to kill him." I love Giles. BE SARCASTIC MORE OFTEN.

    – X-Files reference! I'm surprised you didn't catch it, Mark! It was something like "You of all people shouldn't try to Scully their way out of this" meaning explaining supernatural/paranormal things THAT YOU WITNESS EVERY DAY BUT STILL TRY TO EXPLAIN AWAY BY ~SCIENCE~

    – Ughh as soon as the poor pig was introduced I knew they were going to eat it. Poor Piglet :(
    (I will completely ignore the fact many of my favorite foods contain pork in some way)

    – I know why Xander annoys me more than he should. He reminds me of John Mayer. (and the whole thing that you mentioned in the review too, I guess).

    – OH GOD THE ACTING IS SO BAD

    – HOLY SHIT THEY KILLED FLUTIE HOLY SHIT HE WAS EATEN BY HYENA PEOPLE WTF THIS WAS COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED

    – Willow is so awesome and Alyson Hannigan is adorable

    – IT'S A TRAP!

    <img src="direct -http://s1141.photobucket.com/albums/n588/stefb1/?action=view&current=itsatrap.jpg">

    (I hope that worked this is my first time posting an image!)

  90. celestineangel1 says:

    So I just watched this on Hulu, and I have no deep thoughts. All I could think was how much Nicholas Brendan looks like Alfred Molina from certain angles. o.O

  91. firelizardkimi says:

    Fun fact! The guy who plays Lance? My first ever director. At summer camp. Age 11. He's a pretty cool guy.

  92. IceBlueRose says:

    I think, with the field trip to the zoo and dodgeball, it might depend on the size of the school or their budget or something? I know we still went to the zoo, the aquarium and botanical gardens, and the natural history museum. Also, the one amusement park that we have. And with Sunnydale being a smaller town, with a budget that’s probably really not that big, those two don’t seem too weird to me.

    Having dealt with friends who turned on me, I feel for Willow and Buffy here. Of course, with Buffy, it’s a sexual assault but with Willow, that’s her best friend that is suddenly just treating her like nothing. And I did end up forgiving them though we ended up drifting away from each other within the next year. I’ve recently reconnected with one of them and it’s actually been really good to talk and catch up with them. That’s off topic with what I was going to say though, sorry!

    V guvax gung Knaqre cergraqvat gung ur qbrfa’g erzrzore vf zber bs n ersyrpgvba bs jurer gur fubj jnf ng va frnfba bar. V qb guvax vg’q unir orra avpr gb trg n fprar jurer Knaqre qbrf gel gb ncbybtvmr naq Ohssl erzvaqrq uvz gung vg jnfa’g npghnyyl uvz orpnhfr gura jr’q unir frra fbzr fbeg bs pybfher. Naq vs vg unq unccrarq va n qvssrerag frnfba, V guvax jr zvtug unir. Nsgre nyy, ybbx ng jung unccraf va Orpbzvat. Vg gnxrf hagvy frnfba frira gb rira or erzbgryl npxabjyrqtrq gung Knaqre yvrq nobhg Jvyybj qbvat gur fcryy gb phefr Natry ntnva ohg gurl qvq npxabjyrqtr vg. Gurl qb gnyx nobhg Jvyybj tbvat rivy, rgp. Gurer znl abg or n ybg bs qvfphffvba naq punenpgref qba’g nyjnlf unir gb snpr gurve pbafrdhraprf ohg guvatf yvxr guvf qb npghnyyl trg npxabjyrqtrq. But just before Giles basically says “Hey, memory loss isn’t part of that.” when Xander is talking to Buffy and Willow, they treat everything that happened like a joke as well, the way Buffy and Willow exchange those knowing looks and kind of laugh before Buffy says “Nah.” in reply to Xander asking if he did anything else.

    That, to me, would’ve been the moment to tell him what an ass he’d been but I also see where they were probably just trying to spare Xander the embarrassment (which we know he’s already feeling by his last line) and it says a lot about Buffy and Willow, I think, that they don’t push that in his face. (I also fully acknowledge that they wouldn’t be sparing him that knowledge if Xander admitted that he remembered but I can’t think of many sixteen year old guys that would admit that in this type of situation.)

    Other than that, I have to say V’z fb rkpvgrq nobhg gbzbeebj’f rcvfbqr! V guvax Znex’f ernpgvba gb Natry orvat n inzcver vf tbvat gb or njrfbzr naq gura V Ebobg, Lbh Wnar jvgu bar bs zl snibevgr tebhc zbzragf (ng gur raq bs gur rcvfbqr jurer gurl onfvpnyyl ernyvmr gung gurl’er qbbzrq jura vg pbzrf gb eryngvbafuvcf) naq gur vagebqhpgvba bs Wraal.

    V’z nyfb ernyyl ybbxvat sbejneq gb frnfba gjb naq gur vagebqhpgvba bs Fcvxr naq Qeh naq gur Unyybjrra rcvfbqr naq gur ragver Natryhf fgbelyvar fubhyq or vagrerfgvat gb jngpu hasbyq guebhtu Znex’f rlrf.

  93. kristinc says:

    I want to comment on the idea that Xander wasn't in full possession of himself, so it's realistic/understandable that Buffy and Willow are totes ready to forgive him.

    My spouse used to talk and walk in his sleep occasionally. He hasn't done it for several years now but the thing that characterized the episodes when they did happen was that he was a complete ass. It was as if every frustration and resentment he had came out when he wasn't fully awake, and since I was the one around him during sleeping hours, they were all channeled straight at me. Thank goodness he never physically endangered me, but a couple times he said some really cruel things and acted in a way that made me frightened he *might* physically endanger me.

    I'm here to tell you it was traumatic. I knew he wasn't awake and I knew he wasn't being rational or acting like the man I knew at all, and the next day he honestly wouldn't remember it. But it really hurt our relationship because I couldn't wake up in the morning and feel close or trusting to him. It didn't matter that he didn't consciously mean to hurt me or frighten me, it was still his body and his voice that did those things, and that doesn't just vanish.

    My spouse honestly didn't remember his sleepwalking and talking and was always legitimately horrified that he'd been a jerk to me, and he apologized all over the place when I would tell him in the morning. From the moment we figured out what was going on he was very clear that he wanted to know about it every time it happened and wanted to talk to me about it to make amends as much as he could.

    Which is why I have a hard time feeling sympathetic for Xander or excusing his behavior and I'm irritated about how the plot was written.

  94. Aslee says:

    Ugh. I just don't like Xander. He creeps me out, okay? And I totally don't count this as posession, because to me, that's having another soul/brain/whatever control YOUR body, and therefore your actions have no reflections of your own desires.

    This was turning him into an animal, and therefore he was degrading into his baser instincts. Not the same thing.

    So, I'm not calling him a bullying rapist, but I just really do not like him. At all. Something about it him makes me want to hide.

    Gur bayl cneg- fb sne -V'ir frra gung V yvxrq uvz va jnf n pyvc zl sevraq gbyq zr gb jngpu. Ur unq ybatre unve, naq ur xrcg gnyxvat nobhg fbzr thl anzrq Fcvxr naq Ohssl fnvq fbzrguvat yvxr: "V'z abg fyrrcvat jvgu uvz, ohg V'z ortvaavat gb guvax LBH ner."

    Naq fbzr oybaqr thl- V'z nffhzvat gung jnf Fcvxr? -whfg envfrf uvf rlroebj yvxr 'Url, arire fnl arire.'

    Naq gung jnf rira'g Knaqre'f uvynevgl, fb…

    Fgvyy qba'g yvxr uvz.

  95. Brian Fowler says:

    You have never been less prepared. NEVER.

  96. t09yavosaur says:

    I love how Buffy was able to drag an unconscious Xander through the halls to the library during (I assume) the school day and no one stopped her. Mind the principal was being eaten, but still.

    I am very happy that Willow didn't get lured into giving Xander the cage keys, but that scene was pretty stressful for me cause I was expecting it. I wanted to tell her to stop watching the hyena video too.

    Now, one tiny itty bitty nitpick: While I have no trouble believing that Xander's personality could easily dominate the other four to become leader of the "pack", hyenas have a matriarchal social structure.

    Also, that was the most tame game of dodgeball I have ever seen, until the end of it. I don't know about anyone else Mark but dodgeball was always the go-to "I have nothing better planned for today" game in my high school. Usually on half days when there wasn't enough time for changing into gym clothes and still doing something. In addition I took a team sports gym class this past semester of college and I think we ended up playing dodgeball more times then any other sport.

  97. echinodermata says:

    Deleted because expectation spoilers.

  98. Fuchsia says:

    This was the first episode I ever saw, when it aired the first time (and somehow I didn't see the previous episodes until years later). I had been expecting vampires and more vampires (and honestly, how boring would that be?) and was pleasantly surprised to see that even the first episode I watched, it focused on some other ~mystical~ thing besides vampires.

    Xander is the ultimate Nice Guy(tm) and it really comes out in this episode and geez, no wonder i was always biased against him from the start.

  99. feminerdist says:

    I just screamed at my tv: "DID THEY SERIOUSLY JUST EAT THE PRINCIPAL?

    Not. Prepared. I was not expecting that.

  100. middlearth says:

    Mark, it’s perfectly fine if you don’t love the show so far. I certainly didn’t in the first season and I’m a diehard fan!

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