Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Beauty and the Beasts   Rewatch 
May 20, 2015 10:23 PM - Season 3, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Buffy discovers a feral Angel returned from Hell, werewolf Oz is suspected of a brutal killing, and Scott's friend Pete has a Jekyll/Hyde thing going on.
posted by yellowbinder (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You know, I keep trying to like Xander, and the show keeps making episodes like this. Xander has to watch Oz, and decides to immediately go to sleep, not even trying to stay awake. This incredibly stupid action didn't hurt anyone by sheer chance, and while Oz is looking guilty, it would be pretty much entirely Xander's fault if Oz had killed someone. I appreciate that this episode needed to set up the Oz mislead for the final (not very inspiring) twist, but they could have come up with a slightly better way of doing it. At the very least, Xander could have been shown making an effort! Gah

I don't love this episode. I don't hate it either, but it's a bit forgettable. It's another one with the "men are monsters theme", but there's a bit of an interesting sub theme in how men choose to maintain that monster. Some, like Oz, do their best to contain it, some, like Pete, do their best to embrace it, and some, like Angel, are doing their best to use it to defend others. Which is fine. Pete is a very real villain, and a well the show will go back to again and again: a woman hating lunatic. His reveal is a bit out of the blue , in that there is no indication whatsoever that Debby and Pete have problems until the closet scene. I guess there's a point the show is trying to make here (abuse hides in plain sight), but it would be nice if the show had managed to deliver some kind of bread crumb trail: I guess in Debby's clear fragility we can see signs.

I think it's a bit telling that while Debby and Pete are supposed to be friends with Scott, the most human interaction comes between Oz and Debby later in the episode. I'll be very glad when he's gone.

-If someone has died and you've introduced characters for the very first time, I wonder who will be responsible?
-Considering that Pete killed Mr Pratt (who is a great character, poor Buffy could really have done with his help) in one blow, Oz got pretty lucky that he messed around until he went wolf
-"The hope I bring you is that demons can be fought". Kind of a statement for the show really!
-"Love becomes your master and you're just it's dog." Very relevant for the far superior Lovers Walk.
-Given that Giles thinks the conversation about Angel is hypothetical, the whole being tortured for centuries thing is pretty tactless.
-Buffy and Faith's conversation about the men is on the nose, but establishes Faith's trust issues
-I do not love the whole "Call of the Wild" framing here, I don't think it adds much.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:23 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just dropping in to say that Oz will always be my circa late 90's 17-year-old-self's version of the perfect boyfriend.
posted by Windigo at 8:39 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know, I keep trying to like Xander, and the show keeps making episodes like this. Xander has to watch Oz, and decides to immediately go to sleep, not even trying to stay awake. This incredibly stupid action didn't hurt anyone by sheer chance, and while Oz is looking guilty, it would be pretty much entirely Xander's fault if Oz had killed someone. I appreciate that this episode needed to set up the Oz mislead for the final (not very inspiring) twist, but they could have come up with a slightly better way of doing it. At the very least, Xander could have been shown making an effort! Gah

And the thing is, all they had to do was just cut the scene earlier! Xander looking determined to stay awake all night, taking his duty seriously... and then waking up. It's actually funnier that way too.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:09 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it's a bit telling that while Debby and Pete are supposed to be friends with Scott, the most human interaction comes between Oz and Debby later in the episode. I'll be very glad when he's gone.

During the lunchroom scene, it almost seems like Scott kind of hates them, even leaving aside their treatment of Buffy. I don't know if this is intentional to the writing, or if Scott's actor (who I just learned was named Fab Filippo. There are no words.) just didn't have the chops to pull off Whedonian snark in a way that comes across as funny or charming.

Otherwise, I kind of dig the conceit of this episode, pitting Abusive Boyfriend Hulk vs. Awesome Teen Wolf. I do feel like killing off both Debby and Pete (as well as the super-helpful school shrink) seems like an uncommonly harsh ending, even on a show where monsters regularly kill and devour people on a semi-weekly basis. Maybe it's because the monster was something that came from inside Pete, rather than being borne by the Hellmouth or coming from outside.

All I know is that killing off Pratt does nothing to alleviate the diversity issues lampshaded by Mister Trick (who is also not long for this show) in the previous episode. The WB in the '90s was a strangely segregated place, composed of all-black sitcoms and all-white dramas; genre TV has become fairly diverse in the last 15 years, to the point that it's kind of strange watching TV from just 15 years ago and wondering where all the nonwhite people are.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:08 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really do dislike the way the show does werewolves. I know they didn't have much of a special effects budget compared to a multimillion dollar movie, I know that when you have a bipedal actor playing a quadruped it's going to look really weird, but it really looks bad. That whole sideways shuffle-run thing, the rubbery snouts, it just never worked for me. It still doesn't. I wish they'd just decided to either do bipedal werewolves, or gotten some German shepherds or huskies to be fake werewolves.

Mr Pratt was great. I forgot about him. Pity he didn't last longer! And yes, totally agree that if Pete was strong enough and subtle enough to kill Pratt like that, Oz pre-change shouldn't've lasted as long as he did.

I found the depiction of the abusive relationship pretty realistic though, up to the point where Debbie was sitting and rocking and repeating "but he does love me". I get what they were doing, but to me that just undermined what they'd done with showing how the abused partner will come up with excuses to explain the abusive behaviour. The rocking/repetition just seems outright delusional, and it's really much more subtle than that. Ask me how I know. Actually, don't. But yeah, quite hard to watch.

I had some more interesting thoughts last night when I was watching about how different characters are held responsible or excused from their actions. I can't remember them all now, but I know it bugs me that everyone's happy to hold Pete responsible for his actions even though he was under the influence of a glowy green potion (estrogen?!?! was that rumour supposed to be funny?) while they would have excused Oz because werewolf and not in control of his actions. I know this does get more complicated later on, but at this stage it still seems pretty unfair. People are only responsible for their actions-under-unnatural-influence if they're not part of the gang.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:50 PM on May 21, 2015


I do not love the whole "Call of the Wild" framing here, I don't think it adds much.

I think Willow reading to Oz while he's wolfy is a sign that she genuinely cares about him as a person, which is important to establish now, before the fluking. OTOH, she didn't need to be reading something as on-the-nose as Call of the Wild--it could be poetry or essays about music theory or whatever she thought he might find soothing.

I can't remember them all now, but I know it bugs me that everyone's happy to hold Pete responsible for his actions even though he was under the influence of a glowy green potion (estrogen?!?! was that rumour supposed to be funny?) while they would have excused Oz because werewolf and not in control of his actions. I know this does get more complicated later on, but at this stage it still seems pretty unfair. People are only responsible for their actions-under-unnatural-influence if they're not part of the gang.

Maybe the distinction they're making is that Pete deliberately ingested the glowy green stuff.

For example, there's this discussion about Oz between Buffy and Riley in New Moon Rising:
RILEY: You're kidding me. Gotta say I'm surprised. I didn't think Willow was that kind of girl.
BUFFY: What kind of girl?
RILEY: Into dangerous guys. She seems smarter than that.
BUFFY: Oz is not dangerous. Something happened to him that wasn't his fault. God, I never knew you were such a bigot. (Starts to walk away)
posted by creepygirl at 9:06 PM on May 21, 2015


Maybe the distinction they're making is that Pete deliberately ingested the glowy green stuff.

Surely it's more that Pete is a metaphor for every domestic abuser ever, with the potion there mostly as a way to turn him into something that fits Buffy's Slayer mission. The whole Jekyll-and-Hyde thing is there to show the fragile mask abusers wear around other people and the monsters they are behind closed doors.

Come to think of it, that's perhaps the real reason werewolves never worked on Buffy: they're not turned into metaphors for the travails of young adulthood. They're just...standard-issue werewolves in standard-issue werewolf stories. The bad effects don't help, but the werewolf concept never takes root in the Buffyverse beyond Oz.

This episode suffers for that conceptual weakness, since the writers try to use Oz's lycanthropy as a plot parallel to Pete's Mister Hyde act, but they don't have any sort of allegorical parallel worked out.

Later on, we get a brief attempt to use a different werewolf character in that whole Angela Carter/folklorist notion of lycanthropy as uncontrolled, even predacious sexuality. It doesn't really work well and doesn't come up outside of that episode and the one where Oz discovers that Willow and Tara are together, and even in that Season 4 episode it's less a theme than a convenient plot device to write out a bored Seth Green.
posted by kewb at 5:30 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


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