Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S04E08 – Pangs

In the eighth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel arrives in Sunnydale after Doyle’s vision of her, and the Scoobies discover a vengeance-seeking spirit that is a lot more complicated to defeat than usual. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.

You know, this was better than I expected once I knew what the premise was, but it was still extremely weird. That means we have arrived at a beautiful junction, and I’ve made my decision: it is time for a list.

The Good

  • That first appearance of Angel made me yelp. OH GOD THEY’RE GOING TO HANG OUT AND IT’S GOING TO BE WONDERFUL.
  • The fact that Buffy never actually sees Angel. At least now she can move on to Riley. I am excited for Buffy/Riley.
  • Okay, as soon as I knew this was going to be about Native people, my initial thought was WOW WELL THERE’S NO WAY THAT THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE A DISASTER. I don’t know that it is a disaster at all, and that’s because Jane Espenson makes some impressive writing decisions here. First of all, the fact that Willow very plainly decries Thanksgiving’s prominence because it is a holiday celebrating our violent, destructive, and genocidal pass was nice. But when Buffy tried to counter this by comparing Willow to Willow’s mother, Jane did not dismantle Willow’s point with this. Even if Willow’s mother is ridiculous and over-intellectualizes most things, she’s right. And then, even better, Buffy can’t deny that Willow is right, too. So, perhaps I am more enthused that this happened in 1999 than anything else, but I honestly did not think this would ever happen on a network television show.
  • This show appears to be giving the Scoobies two new members: Anya and Spike. I have absolutely no complaints about this.
  • God, I fucking adore Anya. She’s hilarious and entertaining. MORE ANYA.
  • Bless James Marsters for this episode. He had to portray Spike in a completely new way. His character physically can’t be the violent and confident vampire he once was, so he’s had to act more pitiful than ever. That includes begging Giles to invite him into his house. (Giles had to be the one to invite him in, not Buffy, I’m guessing.)
  • I don’t know what a ricer is either. A rice cooker?
  • Angel walking out of the hallway at Giles. AHHHH.
  • Giles telling Angel it’s kind of fucked up to think he needs to take care of Buffy because in reality, it’s not his job. yes this is a good message to send to Nice Guys across the globe: women do not exist for you to protect them.
  • Riley’s face. I refuse to apologize for making this a bullet point. Shut up.
  • Willow’s whole bit complaining about people having to sneak around out of someone else’s “best interest.” She’s right. It’s annoying 99% of the time.
  • Harmony rejecting Spike. I feel bad for Spike because of the chip the Initiative put in him, but dude, what did you expect from a woman you rejected and tried to stake just to get a ring? Yeah, you reap what you sow, Spike.
  • Having Buffy legitimately experience guilt and engage with it to analyze her own behavior. I have little sympathy for the concept of white guilt myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want people who are white not to think these things through. Like, for real, I know that this episode is not the most progressive and perfect story on the genocide of indigenous folk ever made. It’s far from it. But “Pangs” had a moment where Buffy thought about her role as someone who benefited from being white, and she didn’t do something because of it. WHEN HAVE I EVER SEEN THIS ON TELEVISION PRETTY MUCH NEVER. Okay, I have seen less television than most people, but still! It’s a focal point of the episode: Buffy feels guilty for killing a spirit who is justified in his anger.
  • Good for you, Willow, in refusing to back down on this. You’re right.
  • “I’m saying Spike had a little trip to the vet, and now he doesn’t chase the other puppies any more.” I’m sorry this is the cutest thing on the entirety of Buffy the Vampire Slayer up to this point.”
  • “Um, always behind on the terms. Still trying not to refer to you lot as ‘Bloody Colonials’.” OH GILES BE STILL MY HEART.
  • Angel called Giles house during the raid. I won’t find this anything but hilarious.
  • THE SCOOBIES ARRIVED AT GILES’S HOUSE ON BICYCLES. YES!!!!
  • Spike getting arrowed four times. God, please let him be an addition to the Scoobies gang. I am begging for it.
  • “A bear! You made a bear!” “I didn’t mean to.” “Undo it! Undo it!”
  • XANDER WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU TOLD BUFFY THE SECRET.

 

The Bad

  • This is a common mistake and I hate it whenever it pops up, but… um, you know the Chumash aren’t dead, right? The Chumash still live in and around the Santa Barbara area. Just because the people who came to America wiped out the vast majority of the indigenous people here doesn’t mean all of them are gone.
  • I know that this episode does go out of its way to explain why Chumash spirits would want vengeance, but I’m still a bit grossed out by yet another brown dude killing an “innocent” white woman for thrills. It’s a really unfortunate trope.
  • Okay, this is more of a “personal taste” thing than anything else, but I found this to be a strange way to have a crossover. Angel had no real reason to show up aside from Doyle’s vision, and then he spends forty-five minutes doing absolutely nothing but badly hiding in the shadows. No, seriously, he’s awful at it. You used to be so good and brooding in the dark! But why make this a crossover? I’m fully aware that the Angel episode I watch next might directly answer this, but I found it to be a tad weird that Angel was even written into the episode. Basically: what’s the point? This whole episode could have been written without him and it would have been the same. Hell, why even name it “Pangs”? I know it’s a reference to the pangs that Buffy feels when Angel is near, but that’s not what the story is even about.
  • Buffy sure recovered from that arrow to her forearm fast.
  • Aside from Spike’s brilliant comment, the bear is one of the most awful things this show has done. Oh my god, someone please make a GIF of that exact moment where the real bear flashes to the stuffed one and slow it down. Because it made me laugh so hard I had to pause the episode.
  • So yeah, was anyone going to feed Spike? He looks awful at the end of the episode.
  • It’s an episode with a few problems and an overall air of weirdness, but I liked it. Now, on to find out how this crosses over with Angel and see if I’ve put my foot in my mouth already.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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4 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: S04E08 – Pangs

  1. I don’t know why, but the bear comment still makes me laugh, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this episode two dozen times. I think it has to do with the fraught delivery juxtiposed with such a silly line.

  2. mangoface says:

    Poor Angel. Everyone thinks he’s evil again. XD

  3. quenstalof says:

    Yay I’m all caught up again!  Sorry I had to catch up on walking dead before the season finale.
    Thanksgiving:  a ritual sacrifice with pie.  Love it.
    I love how forthright Anya is.  She wants more xander and isnt’ afraid who knows it
    He dug twice and then fell through?  they didn’t like… survey the land first? or maybe listen for hollow sounds as they dug?
    A lost mission?  Right.  At least it wasn’t an indian burial ground I guess…
    Oh god he’s not gonna scalp her is he?  I’m not expecting a very respectful portrayal here
    Chumash?  At least they got that right.  *is surprised*
    Poor Spike…he’s on the outside looking in on what he can’t have too.  Holy parallels batman
    I listened to that twice to hear muffled Willow.  “Angel, Evil!  Why are you evil again?”  Is that about what she says?
    “if there were any way?”  Oh like a magical ring that would allow you to walk in the sinlught?
    Poor hungry Spike goes crawling back to Harmony.  He looks so pitiful.  I…I really like her as a vampire actually.
    She likes her men evil?
    Eww smallpox! My least favorite diseease! *shudders*
    I did love the music on the bikes coming to the rescue, kinda sucks for whoever’s bikes angel stole
    “A bear!  You made a bear!”  Spike’s face!  I hope someone somewhere has giffed that
    “Undo it!  Undo it!”  Does Spike have bear fear?
    My god Xander!  Discretion?

  4. V says:

    The ending scene sorta reminds me of that The Last Supper movie, and Spike’s face in it is just… neat!

    (That screenshot was my desktop wallpaper this last Thanksgiving.)

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