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

  1. Dee says:

    I may be the minority here but I loved Xander in this episode. He's always been awkward and adorable but his possession shows that that's something more than that inside of him. It may not be the more purest of intentions but with the evil forces they're all constantly up against he needs to be able to find something in him that's stronger and able to deal.

    As a goofy teenage boy he's already shown himself to be open, unbelievably brave, loyal, and caring. He may be the most flawed character with the least brains/talent out of the bunch but I feel that he actually has the most heart.

  2. 00guera00 says:

    I'm going to start out by saying I'm not Xander's biggest fan…he's like that friend you have that's awesome 90% of the time then says something that makes you want to shake him silly :\

    But I think he did the right thing by pretending to forget, because if he hadn't, the conversation would probably gone something like, him apologizing and then Buffy would be pushed into the "It's okay, I know it wasn't really you," which then makes it all about him. Which, he was a victim as well, but that would have pissed me off a whole lot more than a sixteen year old shying away from a difficult conversation.

  3. hassibah 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.

    That's my philosophy!

  4. Tat says:

    The last week of school when we were seniors we only had to come in for graduation ceremony practice, 'cause… I don't know. I guess you need to practice hearing your name. But after we would go on road trips because somebody's mom would have lent a car. I remember once going down to West Virgina to buy fireworks (they're illegal in PA), but we never found the place! Such rebels.

  5. Elisa says:

    I felt just as you did about Xander, Mark. He is always self-serving and self righteous when it comes to Buffy. I have so many issues with him, but on the WB boards (that's where I spend a lot of time back in the day when this show was airing) everyone always loved Xander. Love that he got hit with a desk. 🙂 Yes, he wasn't himself but like you said some of those feelings he has manifested in his attitude towards both Buffy and Willow. They didn't come out of nowhere.

  6. Murray says:

    GET OUT OF MY HEAD! I have had almost the exact same vision of Joss Whedon! In mine he has ice cream sundaes. 😉

  7. notemily says:

    Save it for tomorrow when this is no longer a spoiler, please.

  8. klutzygal12 says:

    Being from the deep South and going to a public High School, one can assume how my experience was. Not only that, my father was the Vice Principle and my mother, a secretary. I took a lot of crap for that because the teachers didn't want to treat me better than everyone else, so I was treated worse. Being the short blonde haired, green eyed girl I am, I was sort of an easy target. Yet overall, my experience was pretty good, mostly because of the comforts crisp crust pizza and my bi-weekly Golden Girls marathons.
    There was little point to that…but there it is.

  9. klmnumbers says:

    " I hope you were run over by a pack of puppies"

    Man, what an adorable way to die!

  10. tardis_stowaway says:

    No one is ever prepared for Joss Whedon's cookies. (That analogy is brilliant, by the way!)

    I discovered Mark Watches a month or two ago and got really happy and emotionally invested in reading the reviews of Doctor Who, my favorite show. I'm thrilled to get the chance to re-experience Buffy, the show that used to be my favorite that I haven't kept in touch with recently.

    The Pack is one of my favorites from S1 because it does push the boundaries and because the high school metaphor, while heavy-handed, really works. I think that Xander's denial of his assault on Buffy is icky, but as you say, in character. The reason Giles initially refused to believe Buffy about Xander's weird character is that sometimes 16 year-old boys are awful, and that's what Xander is. I don't think he can be held morally culpable for what he did while possessed, and he DID give Buffy a chance to bring it up by asking if he did anything else while under the influence. Still, his failure to apologize when he should be groveling at Buffy and Willow's feet indicates a lack of maturity and an unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions.

  11. Bealocwealm 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.”

    Can someone explain this to me? I don’t think I’m using the same definition of appropriation as Mark is using… The one I’m familiar with defines a white guy learning Karate, or telling Anansi stories, or wearing dreadlocks, as cultural appropriation. Or a Peruvian guy listening to Celtic music, or an Indian girl who dresses up as Alice in Wonderland for some occasion. Which doesn’t strike me as evil… Is there a popular definition Mark’s using that I’m not familiar with?

  12. Andie says:

    Okay so I totally nerded out just now and made a calendar on Google Docs to show when Mark will be watching each episode. I had to stop when I got to March, because I'm not sure how Mark's planning to incorporate the spin-off into his watching (if he is), but if anybody wants to see it, it's here.

    Pna V whfg fnl gung V guvax vg'f uvynevbhf ubj Znex vf tbvat gb unir gb qrny jvgu n srj gjb-cneg rcvfbqrf snyyvat ba rvgure fvqr bs n jrrxraq? Yvxr Fhecevfr ba Wnahnel 13 (n Sevqnl), naq gura abg orvat noyr gb jngpu Vaabprapr hagvy gur sbyybjvat Zbaqnl? V JBHYQ QVR. Vg unccraf ntnva jvgu Tenqhngvba Qnl cnegf bar naq gjb.

    Thu, Znex vf fb abg cercnerq sbe ubj njrfbzr frnfba gjb vf jvgu nyy vgf gjb-cneg rcvfbqrf naq orvat njrfbzr.

  13. buyn says:

    The four evil jerkfaces somehow made me think of the four not Edward vampires from Twilight. Don't know why. Them eating Flutie will always be creepy. ALWAYYYYS.

  14. MidnightLurker says:

    It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Joss.

  15. Ida says:

    Wow. I don't have time to read the whole article right now, but I just have to say, that was probably the most fitting description of Joss Whedon's collected work I have ever read. The man is evil – he said so himself – and he just hides it until that moment he rips off the mask of premise and throws all of us down into darkness! Best. Description. Ever. Mark! We should show it to him! He would probably love it anyway.

  16. hassibah says:

    Also since everyone else is sharing can I just say I do not understand american high school representations on TV at all?

    Like people like football where I am from, but we don't worship dudes just because they are good at a sport and people sure as hell don't hang out with the people that are on the same team as them all the time wearing their school jacket. Cheerleaders aren't even a thing at all.

    The movie Mean Girls is a little bit closer to how cliques looked at my school. Except popular girls aren't some dumbed down manipulative sexist charicature out to ruin everybody's life they're just pretty girls that had really rich parents, and they were assholes too but not much more than everybody is.

    My high school sort like the one on Gilmore Girls, except it was public, so when I think of high school nerds I think of girls like Paris, not some weird Urkel clone.

    It definitely never occurred to me that somebody's actual high school experiences looked anything like most tv shows and movies, weird!
    We played dodgeball in gym every once in a while though, that part is accurate!

  17. Pylean Mary Sue says:

    Okay I didn't read 5146547513 comments on all the previous Buffy posts, so someone may have already have pointed this out, but seriously, I WOULD NOT watch ANY Angel until you get to the end of Buffy season three. There's a lot of stand-alone stuff in the Angel-verse, but also a lot that builds on knowledge of the Buffy-verse up to season three and you will spoil the crap out of yourself.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      No problem! I'm not starting the crossover stuff until season four. 🙂

      • Hi Mark, loving the blog! What it you get to the end of season 3 and go 'God I really want to watch Angel parallel with Buffy!'? I'm sure we wouldn't mind the staggered timeline to the planned finish time. 🙂

  18. sundaycoma says:

    For what it's worth, (I was in high school three years ago), band and marching band kids were pretty much over the cheerleaders in terms of popularity. In fact, I don't think I ever even knew about more than two of the cheerleaders of our school becoming popular. The cheerleaders almost weren't even THERE for all the impact they had on the social heirarchy. Volleyball team girls… totally different matter.

    The football team shared popularity with the baseball team and the soccer team, no one cared about the basketball team (they even started giving out service hours to any student who would make a poster and come sit through a game just to support them — it was really sad) and the AP kids pretty much had free reign over the school.

    • sundaycoma says:

      (Other interesting notes: the only team that caught more derision than the basketball team was the golf team – yeah, we had a golf team – and the journalism kids were the ones that kind of took the place of the indie, interesting, quirky art club students who pretty much were 98% drug users… but then again, at my school, that pretty much applies to the entire school wide population. The really weird thing is that the drug usage helped create a weird connection between all the groups because everyone knew who else in the school scored from their hook-up so whenever they were unable to get into contact with said supplier, they would seek out someone from a completely different cross-section of the high school experience to hang out with them and try to go see their mutual dealer together.

      • sundaycoma says:

        I'm not saying the drug usage was a good thing but it did do this really weird thing for social justice at the school. People who bullied gay kids were the ones who got their asses laid out — because none of our gay youth were taking it (not when we're so close to Gay Retirement Heaven, also known as Key West) and because no one wanted the entire drug scene screwed up by one asshole who couldn't stand to see two girls holding hands

  19. My parents never took any interest in Buffy, but one time I was watching the show in the livingroom mom was going in and out of the room and she happened to look towards the screen as the pack ate the principal and shocked beyond anything she started wondering what kind of show was it I was into… very unfortunate timing…

  20. ladysugarquill says:

    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.
    Actually it was the other way around. Joss thought Buffy was going to get cancelled after one season, so he just went "Whatever, I'm gonna do anything that I want".

    On that same note, what sort of gym class plays dodgeball in high school?
    We did. In fact, up to the last year (17 year-olds) we kept nagging out teacher to let us play as warm-up instead of just running around the court. (Yet again I am from Argentina, and out dodgeball is drastically different (more of a team-and-strategy work).)

    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.
    I always found that fascinating, because nothing like it happened in our schools. Sure, there were bullies, but the whole popular/unpopular thing was never anything more than "stuff on TV", and people who actually quoted it were seen as weird. We don't have jocks, or cheerleaders, or bands for that matter.

    Poor, poor Flutie. I always felt bad for him. He wasn't very smart, but he was trying to do the best for the students.

    He knew what he did to both Buffy and Willow, and I found it really gross that he kept that to himself.

    I like Xander. He's an idiotic, jealous, impulsive teenager most of the time, but he's not bad. And I felt this was the most horrible part of the episode. Because he was being controlled. What he did while possessed actually makes him look BETTER, because whatever less noble feelings he may have, he'd never act on them willingly. He has a crush on Buffy, but he'd never attack her. Or be mean to Willow, because he knows right from wrong. Like someone once said, "It is our choices that define who we really are".

    And the fact that he's so ashamed of what he's done he has to pretend he doesn't remember, but that he does and will have to carry it forever (that he could have raped Buffy, or eaten the principal), and that people think it's funny, makes me sad…

  21. Genny_ says:

    If you're making a metaphor, you *make a metaphor* and address it at least implicitly in the text. Maybe it could have been- but it *wasn't*, unless some subtle narrative parallel somehow flew way over my head. Expecting people to take it as one is therefore ridiculous.

    • tactless says:

      But there is a metaphor here. It's less obvious because it's hidden in the umbrella of the meta-metaphor (look I invented a word) of teen existence. Part of that teen existence is the fantasies that most, if not all of us had at that age and in this show they typically have very negative consequences.

      I believe one of the reasons Xander gets so much heat for what happens TO him is that, as the lone teen male he gets all of those fantasies thrown at him where the female fantasies are spread, in large part, between Buffy and Willow.

      So in this episode we have a fantasy (the second one in the series and in this case empowerment) that comes and bites Xander in the {backside}.

      Really how much of a metaphor is needed here? An outside force comes and takes away his right to choose what happens with his own body. That seems like a pretty powerful metaphor to me.

      Incidentally, the first male fantasy that bit Xander in the {backside} was the older woman in "Teacher's Pet" and my reaction to this debate would have been completely different if just once (in either the review or the comments) anyone would had been as vocal about the DIRECTLY-STATED-no-need-for-a-metaphor attempted rape of a chemically compromised (pheromones and drugs in his drink) underage male.

      So, here we are at the end of "The Pack" and ALL THREE of the teens are avoiding and repressing what happened, like they have all done in the past, and somehow this makes Xander the villain of the piece.

      Double standards bug me.

      • Genny_ says:

        For the record (though I got to those comments late IIRC and wasn't around much), I *did* object to the fact that a lot of Xander's situation in that episode was played for laughs despite being attempted rape. And I *do* think that it's dismissed primarily because he is a teen boy, which is… horrible. (Naq vg'f abg gur ynfg gvzr gur Ohsslirefr qbrf gung rvgure VVEP.) It's a reason I seriously don't like that episode.

        But the thing is, I am not presented with any metaphor within the text of this episode, and personally, I kind of need to be for something as… shall we say 'obscure'? As hyena possession. Not in the sense of rare, but in the sense of so utterly alien to any real experience. There is nothing like being possessed by a hyena IRL. That particular manner of being denied control is not going to be reliably, easily relateable to an audience.

        I don't object to others' taking it as a metaphor and therefore perhaps seeing Xander's situation differently, for the record: but I do object to the idea that's the only way we are 'allowed' to read it and that as someone who reads it as, well, Xander getting possessed by hyenas is 'wrong'.

        Bottom line for me? Xander got possessed by hyenas and there weren't any direct parallels drawn to anything that happens IRL. By contrast, Buffy experienced attempted assault, which… happens IRL. I am much more worried about the IRL experience being dismissed than the fictional one. And ultimately, even if they WERE both equivalent, I think the underlying principle of this whole thread still stands. That being subject to trauma yourself doesn't permit you to hurt other trauma victims. But no, I can't take it as a direct metaphor within a piece of fiction without something far more related to real life, tbh.

  22. bradycardia says:

    Poor poor Principal Flutie. That's the thought that came into my head every time I saw him in episodes 1-6.
    There he was ripping up Buffy's transcript and pasting it back together in episode 1, and all I'm thinking is "you don't know what's coming".

  23. flootzavut says:

    "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 LOVE this. Just sayin'.

    I disliked this episode but actually I think it was because it was done rather well, in that as someone who was bullied at school, it was just a bit too close to the knuckle. So… I dislike it for good reasons? I don't know how to put it better than that…

    Also 😮 that they ATE Flutie. And if Zander remembers it all – presumably he also remembers eating a pig alive, and those four other students remember eating Flutie. Yuk. PTSD/nightmare fuel… *shudder*

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