Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Pangs   Rewatch 
August 20, 2015 12:07 AM - Season 4, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Buffy seeks a perfect Thanksgiving. Spike seeks asylum from the Initiative. Native spirits seek vengeance. Angel lurks.
posted by yellowbinder (16 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, it's better than almost all of S9 X-Files.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:58 AM on August 20, 2015

The only redeeming feature of this episode is the line "His penis got diseases from a Chumash triiibe!"

Also, I think this is the only time that Anya and Angel were ever in a scene together.
posted by Etrigan at 6:30 AM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

The only redeeming feature of this episode ...

Lies, there's also the line "It's a sham with yams! It's a yam sham!"
posted by dinty_moore at 7:50 AM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

Also Spike's delivery of "You made a bear! Undo it, undo it!"
posted by rewil at 7:58 AM on August 20, 2015 [8 favorites]

Only redeeming feature?? I love this episode! (Okay, I love certain aspects of this episode; the villain is pretty problematic, and the resolution to the "issue" is uneasy.) It's a weird reason to have Angel come back, and that nobody tells Buffy until Xander's slip-up at the end (I love that weird fish-eye shot at the end, with Spike's evil grinning face) is pretty gross, but mostly it's a lot of fun. Of course, I didn't see the other half of the crossover until this year, so it probably seemed like more of a cheat not to have them interact here. Willow's "hey, is Cordelia really working for you? Because that's got to be a special experience" is also better now that I've seen the other show.

"It's a ritual sacrifice, with pie." Buffy's Thanksgiving obsession hits home with me as a longing for home and family, particularly when one goes away to college. Mostly I like the interplay between her and the exasperated Giles, who she pretty much calls "dad" at this point. "Bloody colonials."

"I like mushy peas..." (Buffy's look) Also, fresh atrocities. Giles is ever the pragmatist while Buffy gets to be the hero (although, unlike with Ben in Season 5, she does actually do the killing here). It's a very consistent character trait. I think this is one of the only times that Willow's mother is referenced, but it's a good way to show why Willow might react the way she does.

I assume Willow's "Doesn't it make you wonder what else is there, like, right under our feet?" is a cheeky bit of Initiative foreshadowing.

That everyone assumes Angel is evil again at first is a nice touch.

I've always liked the cut between "They have to take you in" and Harmony's "Get out!" The stake in the bed is pretty much blatant foreshadowing. This is basically Spike's first integration into the group (as Marsters describes it, taking the Cordelia role of telling Buffy she was stupid and going to die).

This exchange has been useful at many points in my life:
Willow : Sarcasm accomplishes nothing, Giles.
Giles : It's sort of an end in itself.

"A bear! You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!" (I see someone has gotten there before me, but this one bears repeating.)

I honestly don't know what this episode is trying to say about the US's treatment of Native Americans. That it's a complicated issue? Oh well. Off to read some play contest submissions by Native writers to balance this out.
posted by ilana at 8:27 AM on August 20, 2015 [7 favorites]

Yeah, I kind of love this episode.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:10 AM on August 20, 2015

Also Xander's exasperation and realization that he's always the one getting the syphilis or other supernatural problems I find very funny. Honestly, this is a inconsequential episode that's pretty funny but also marred by the problematic Native American elements.
posted by john-a-dreams at 12:44 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I literally don't understand the issues people have with this episode. It's really, really funny. I mean, it just is, right? Sure, native American stuff aside, but as I've mentioned before, this is hardly the first time the show has used historically marginalized or exterminated people's histories for plotlines, and at least it makes an effort to address that.

I also think it's a nice way to have an Angel cross over without making him dominate the show.. his appearance later in the season will absolutely screw up the flow of the plot (such as it is), while this works much better. Although why this threat exactly needed Angel's help I'll never know.

-"It's building another demon completely out of ears"
-"She cut off her ear, then killed herself, then dumped the body"
-I like how the curator is sort of pleased to see the Chumash Indian before being horribly murdered
-"It's a sham with yams"
"I''m imagining having sex with him right now"
-Did no-one check the foundations of this building site before starting work?
-Spike wistfully watching vampires
-The coffee shop slyly becomes a regular location
-"That's not terribly stealthy of him?" "I think he's lost his edge"
-"Sarcasm accomplishes nothing." "It's sort of an end in of itself"
"I like my evil like I like my men, evil."
"I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it"
-"You can have casinos now!"
"He's evil again!" "I'm not evil, why does everyone think that? I haven't been evil in a long time."
-Spike covered in arrows
-That final shot.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:25 PM on August 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

"I like my evil like I like my men: evil."

YES this was so perfect.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:04 PM on August 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

(I've been rewatching X-Files lately and have gotten up to S9, which is truly awful, and that's what inspired my earlier comment, written and posted while sleepy. I should have just waited until morning.)

I know there's a lot of hate for this episode but yeah, it's another funny/painful one. I do quite like the way the dispute about what to do with the villainous Native American revenge spirit becomes the issue that blows the "family" apart - just like many traditional Thanksgiving family dinners, descending into quarrels about unresolvable issues. I especially like the way it's Willow v Giles with Buffy in the middle and then when Xander and Anya come over, and Xander makes his STONKER about vengeance demons, it becomes Willow & Anya vs Giles & Xander, again Buffy caught in the middle. Spike is actually the tie-breaker.

And hey, the point that Buffy makes about preferring the uncomplicated, non-grey good v evil scenarios is a very good point. The show does go on to develop those quite nicely without bringing Native Americans or any other marginalised group of people into it. It just feels disappointing that they went with the whole "Indian-burial-ground" trope because it's just such a cliché it comes across as racist even if they are trying to challenge it.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:59 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Willow & Anya vs Giles & Xander

This is interesting, because it's really just about the only time Willow and Anya are on the same side in anything.

I think this is really one of the first times that Willow challenges Giles, who up to now she's essentially hero-worshipped and jumped at whatever he says ("Willow, get on the computer...") She then lashes out at him in Something Blue, which I consider the partner episode to this one in terms of humour and tone. She's definitely come into her own since she started university. This, of course, comes to a head in Season Six, when she tells him it might not be a good idea to piss her off due to her power, and of course when she nearly kills him at the end of the season. Of course, we get a lot of light, nice moments and regression in between these confrontations, but it shows where the seeds are initially sown.
posted by ilana at 8:01 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I remember really liking this one for the silly bits at the time ("yam-sham", "what's a ricer?", Spike running around with a blanket, the bear, etc) but watching it now I'm really not at all sure what lesson we or the characters were meant to derive from it. Is it that colonialism was bad, or that colonialism wasn't quite thorough enough at putting down the Chumash?
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:50 AM on August 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh I like this episode because I'm a sucker for the crap holiday with supernatural hijinx drama. But also I love Anya's quip about this being Angel when he's NOT evil.

It's also interesting this is the only episode where we actually are put in Buffy's pov. I love it, but it's a weird choice for such an epic thing.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:02 PM on August 22, 2015

The remainder of the evil men quote is beautiful.

"I like my evil like I like my men-- evil. You know, "straight up, black hat, "Tied to the train tracks, soon my electro-ray will destroy metropolis" bad. Not all mixed up with guilt and the destruction of an indigenous culture."

Also, I may have a t-shirt somewhere that says "I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it."
posted by teleri025 at 2:07 PM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't think there is a lesson except for family holidays are insane.
posted by miss-lapin at 4:35 PM on August 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Easy to overlook in this episode: apparently Willow hadn't told the others about her encounter with Spike (in "The Initiative") before Spike brought it up at Giles' threshold?
posted by Navelgazer at 12:38 PM on September 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

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