Buffy the Vampire Slayer: New Moon Rising   Rewatch 
September 30, 2015 9:03 PM - Season 4, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Oz unexpectedly shows up in town, forcing Willow to fully confront her feelings for Tara. Riley makes a break from the Initiative. Adam makes a deal with Spike.
posted by yellowbinder (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I was filled with dread watching this one, the contrast between the warm gooshiness of the early and ending Tara scenes and the continued character assassination of Oz was too much for me, even knowing what side wins out. Oz was so emotionally mature, and now the metaphor is he can barely control his murderous jealousy for a girl he cheated on and ran away from? Urrrrrrggggggggggh.

That aside, hooray for real and loving gay relationships on TV! Every moment between Will and Tara is so real and sweet here, even as Willow is openly considering her options and Tara is convinced she'll lose out. Definitely a heartwarming ending to a stressful episode.
posted by yellowbinder at 9:14 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


This episode is a major game-changer.

I refer, of course, to the introduction of MISS KITTY FANTASTICO. (Which may still be what someone I know occasionally calls me.)

The "bigot" conversation between Buffy and Riley highlights the ever-more-murky ground the "human = good, demon = evil" crowd stands on. "Oz is not dangerous. Something happened to him that wasn't his fault," says Buffy. Essentially, that last sentence could refer to almost all vampires (see Spike and Angel in "Damages" - Angel: "She's an innocent victim." Spike: "So were we, once upon a time.") Of course, Buffy's "love isn't logical" is rooted in her Angel backstory that comes more to light for Riley later, and the conversation is mostly really about her issues with that. This episode asks, can you control the monster? How much are you responsible for your actions? Riley also had "a bad thing" happen to him, which briefly threw him out of control, and he was abetting an institution doing terrible things.

In a way, Riley's blame of Oz is really blame for himself for his actions, even if The Initiative largely controlled him. When he decides to be "an anarchist" at the end, he's showing that you can rise above your programming and what's happened to you in order to be a decent human being (the Initiative's actions toward Oz make us ask who's more demonic). He's forgiving himself and making a similar choice for control that Oz does. Of course, Riley briefly gets sucked back in with the chip, just like Oz finds out that it's not as easy to control himself as he thinks it is.

Much as I love Tara and Willow and Tara's relationship, I have to admit Willow's rejection of Oz and his leaving a second time made me very sad (though I understood why they were doing it, and it couldn't have ended a different way). That last scene with the two of them...Hannigan should have won a special Emmy for ability to make us all cry.

"I'll have the less confusing waffles right now." (Metafilter name: Less Confusing Waffles)

I feel for Buffy and Willow in the scene where Buffy finally realizes Willow is dating Tara. My best guy friend (people teased us about being "boyfriend and girlfriend" for years) came out to me when we were 14 and I feel like I had the same overenthusiastic, not-quite-processing, hyper-cheerful reaction. I stopped being an idiot after a couple of hours, but that scene always makes me cringe for my stupid younger self when I watch it.

Of course the previous episode was entirely about hetero sex but Willow and Tara don't get to kiss on screen yet. I guess at least they get to be suggestive with "her scent's all over you" and the blown-out candle.

Oz was so emotionally mature, and now the metaphor is he can barely control his murderous jealousy for a girl he cheated on and ran away from? Okay, I agree that it's painful having them do this to his character, but it's fairly common in the Buffy/Angel-verse that if you are able to repress your demon, once it breaks loose it's actually much worse (see Angel in the Pylea arc in S2 of his show). You can be more human, but your demon gets to be more demon. It's a little like Jonathan vs. the demon he creates by becoming too perfect. The more you control it, the bigger the potential price. Honestly, what bothers me more is when Willow says "it was my fault. I upset you" and instead of saying "no, that's stupid rape culture talking," Oz says, instead, "Well, so we're safe then, because you'll never do that again." I mean, he's being sarcastic, but the conversation still puts the onus on Willow not to be upsetting, and I wish they'd done something much different there.

Spike, the palindromic evil olive.

BUFFY: Stay back... or I'll pull a William Burroughs on your leader here.
(Everyone looks confused.)
XANDER: You'll bore him to death with free prose?
(Buffy looks annoyed.)
BUFFY: Was I the only one awake in English that day?
posted by ilana at 11:13 PM on September 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oz was so emotionally mature, and now the metaphor is he can barely control his murderous jealousy for a girl he cheated on and ran away from? Okay, I agree that it's painful having them do this to his character, but it's fairly common in the Buffy/Angel-verse that if you are able to repress your demon, once it breaks loose it's actually much worse (see Angel in the Pylea arc in S2 of his show). You can be more human, but your demon gets to be more demon.

I agree with this. I think that's what they're going for here, Oz has learnt a method of emotional control to suppress the wolf, but this has side effects. And hey, Oz has had flashes of emotion before. Look at this from his perspective. He's spent months travelling away from the woman he loves, and finally found a measure of control. He's been imaging their reunion for a long time, and is completely wrong footed that not only is Willow with another person, it's another woman. I think that'd take even the coolest person a bit aback.

This is, for once, a plotty episode that harmonises the season plot with the events of the episode, and it's better for that (although Adam is, again, mostly absent, other than a wee bit of scheming). This episode has two main arcs, Riley finally rejecting the Initiative after one last burst of loyalty, and Willow finally coming out and telling the world about how she has changed. I think it's great. This is an episode with a lot to do, and as ilana says Buffy's reaction is really great. Her conflict with Riley is understandable, and you can see the nice clash of ideas, as Riley still has a black and white view of initiative good, demons bad, which he needs to be shaken out of.

Admittedly it's a bit cartoonish that the scientists happily tortures a human into the form of a wolf (and god how much better would that scene have been if Walsh was doing it rather than some no name scientist), but it does the job and opens Riley's eyes to the reality of where he is.

However, and it's a moderately large however... Buffy and Xander manage to break into the Initiative. Again. And take the general hostage at crossbow point, and escape. I know they have to for the plot to work, but it's so easy for them to do so, it jut makes the entire organisation look utterly incompetent. There are also no long term consequences for Buffy threatening the life of a general. Seriously they don't even try to track her down next episode, which isn't hard as she'll go to her dorm!

-In the opening sequence they discuss that they hardly know anything. Anya says that was a thrilling hour. What were they talking about for the previous 58 minutes?
-"No. No new guy". *wink*.
-Why do werewolves/things like werewolves always turn up when Oz is around
-You know I think Graham actually disappears after this episode. Maybe he's there in the last episode?
-Daylight in Spikes crypt again for godsake.
-OMG Willow Tara needs kisses already!
-You have to be with the person you love." "I am".
-That candle was providing a lot of illumination, and seeing as they were both standing near the door I feel like they're gonna trip over a lot in the dark now....
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:10 AM on October 1, 2015


You know I think Graham actually disappears after this episode. Maybe he's there in the last episode?

He's definitely in Primeval, and then three episodes in season 5 (and mentioned in a fourth), most notably when they have to get Riley to the hospital to keep him from exploding or something...why do I know so much about Graham...I feel like I'm developing a new appreciation for him this time around.
posted by ilana at 12:35 AM on October 1, 2015


Look at this from his perspective. He's spent months travelling away from the woman he loves, and finally found a measure of control. He's been imaging their reunion for a long time, and is completely wrong footed that not only is Willow with another person, it's another woman. I think that'd take even the coolest person a bit aback.

Except he didn't communicate at all with Willow since he left, and the actions that he took (sending for his stuff without telling her) were far more in keeping with "I am moving on with my life and don't care how you feel about it" than "I need some time to get my shit together, but I am hoping to get back together when I do." From Willow's perspective, Oz could have been dead, he could have found someone who he found as fuckable as Veruca, but without the whole murderous-awful-personality thing, he could have traveled to another dimension, never to return to Earth again.

I find this line particularly hilarious, when Oz gets angry about Tara and Willow :
OZ: Cause she never said anything to me like that. We talked all night and she never-

Gosh, Oz, you went EIGHT WHOLE HOURS without Willow communicating something important to you! But you expected Willow to ignore months of complete lack of communication from you!

Also, just showing up out of the blue, without an email or letter or phone call to Willow to let her get used to the idea of him back in Sunnydale? Kind of a dick move.

Oz is reasonably intelligent, and for him to suddenly forget that communication is a two-way street, and that Willow isn't a mind-reader (yet), seems incredibly stupid.

On another note, Tara completely backing off is interesting in light of the whole "believes she's a demon" thing. Like I think it's partly low self-esteem (can't believe Willow would pick her over anyone else), and it's partly that she sees this (if only subconsciously) as an out for her secret demon predicament. Like if Willow gets back together with Oz, then Willow will be loved and happy, and Tara will never have to tell Willow her secret. In that scenario, Tara doesn't have to be the bad guy, Willow doesn't get hurt by Tara's secret, and Willow never has to know that Tara's a demon. It's perfect except that Willow isn't on board with it.

That candle was providing a lot of illumination, and seeing as they were both standing near the door I feel like they're gonna trip over a lot in the dark now....

Could have sworn I read a fanfic that included a lot of stumbling around in the dark before they gave up and lit the candle again. Alas, I have no idea where I read it (and if it was on an author's Geocities site or Livejournal, there's a good chance it's gone forever now).
posted by creepygirl at 9:54 AM on October 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was SO SAD when Oz left again, but it really could not have ended any other way. I consoled myself with the knowledge that leaving Sunnydale is probably for the best, since had he stayed he'd probably have died by the end of the series run (I remember reading somewhere, way back when, Joss or another writer saying that if Seth Green had not left, Oz would have had the fate of Tara. Also, that the writers were 50/50 on it being Willow or Xander coming out as gay, and with Oz leaving it made the choice easier).

I had my headcannon that Oz wandered around for awhile until he met a werewolf girl, and they raise goats or sheep in the PNW and, like, sell fancy cheeses and stuff to the cityfolk and get to run around together under the full moon in the forest, no guilt and no danger to anyone.
posted by Windigo at 7:45 PM on October 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Their last conversation in the van makes me cry, unfailingly, even if I walk into the episode on that scene and haven't thought about them in ages. Siiiigh. Can't she just have them both?
As much as I love Willow and Tara together, I keep feeling like Willow and Oz have the most natural chemistry of any couple on the show. It's something about the way they look at each other.

I would have rather Miss Kitty Fantastico not existed, because whenever I see her I think of the joke/comment seasons later about the crossbow and feel terribly anxious.
posted by esker at 11:02 AM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of the things that bothers me about this episode is the way Buffy jumps all over Riley for thinking all demons are bad, bad, bad - completely oblivious to the fact that, apart from the ones she knows and likes, she is exactly the same. Kill first, ask questions later. Meanwhile, the ones she does trust, she trusts too much and too easily - Angel in the early days, Spike now (cause he has revealed himself to be sooooo trustworthy), Oz because Willow likes him, Anya she puts up with because Xander likes her. (Actually, it is kind of a mystery to me why everyone accepts Anya so easily given her history of being quite a bad guy.) Anyhow, she has enough insight by the end of the episode to draw the analogy between her reaction upon finding out Willow loves Tara and Riley's reaction on finding out Oz is a werewolf, but she doesn't take it that next step.

Anyway. I seem to be in the minority of being glad that Oz leaves again - I find him really annoying in this reprisal episode. He comes back assuming that he and Willow have unfinished business that she will be eager to take up with him. The scene where he confronts Tara with smelling like Willow is really gross, as the violence of his reaction shows he still thinks of Willow as belonging to him somehow, that he must eliminate any rival. I know people will argue with me, wolf blah blah blah but the fact of it is, it's lazy. And then even at the end, though I agree their farewell is brilliantly acted by both of them and is so touching - the whole idea that it is HER FAULT that he cannot control his raging lustdemon; I mean, wolfdemon and they just let that stand? Gross. It sets up the whole idea that men have monsters raging inside them that come out to lay claim to their women that I find really repugnant. They do it again next episode with Riley and Angel and it's about as obnoxious there, but at least Buffy calls them out on their behaviour.

Meanwhile, my heart consistently breaks for Tara, who is still so unsure of where she stands in Willow's life. She is doing exactly what she believes to be the right thing, putting herself last and putting all her consideration for Willow, even to the extent of saying Oz coming back to uni will be good for him and Willow, knowing full well how much it will break her heart if that happens. Even when Willow irresponsibly comes to visit her, hoping that because she can't figure out what to do, Tara will somehow make the decision for her, Tara gently turns it back to Willow. It's not her decision to make. I really thought Amber Benson and Tara were completely wishy-washy the first time watching these episodes; it's only now that I am older that I appreciate what a determined character she actually is.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:46 AM on October 4, 2015


I really thought Amber Benson and Tara were completely wishy-washy the first time watching these episodes; it's only now that I am older that I appreciate what a determined character she actually is.

One thing I have really appreciated on a rewatch is the character of Tara. I think she's quietly awesome with a few dull notes (Family isn't a very good episode), and Amber Benson is better than I remember her being.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2015


OK here's my objection. Oz runs into Tara and freaks out because she smells like Willow. Now, he knows the two of them are friends. College girls do things like share each others clothes. I would assume that Buffy ALSO smells quite a bit like Willow because they live together. But from this one piece of info he immediately jumps to "Are you together?" which just doesn't seem to be a natural conclusion to me based on what he knows. I think the viewers accept it because well we know they are together, but on rewatch I was like "Really? He loses his cool over something so small?" Realistically to fit with Oz's character it should be something more significant that leads to wolf out.

As much as I love Tara and Willow together, I will always believe that Willow and Oz were meant to be and that sometime in the distant future they will be together again.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:23 PM on October 6, 2015


I always read "I smell her all over you" as in not just, like, her perfume.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:30 PM on October 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I didn't mean her perfume either. I meant her pheromones. It seems unlikely Tara would still smell like sex with Willow since I hope she showered since then considering how much time has passed.

Also the line "Do you know that? Do you know that you smell like her?" If it's a sex smell then this is just plain weird. Not to mention he takes Tara's silence as confirmation. I mean if some guy I met once started ranting that I smelled like his ex-gf I'm not sure I would know what the hell to say either.
posted by miss-lapin at 7:06 PM on October 6, 2015


Also the line "Do you know that? Do you know that you smell like her?" If it's a sex smell then this is just plain weird.

I always understood that to mean "Do you know that you smell like her because you two are totally doin' it?" As a werewolf, Oz presumably has magically enhanced olfactory powers as well. Dogs can smell cancer and Hannibal Lecter can smell Clarice Starling's body wash from previous days, so why couldn't a werewolf smell sex after a shower?
posted by Etrigan at 7:47 PM on October 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


We know he has enhanced smells as he is able to smell Willow's fear in Lover's Walk. It just seems odd to me that in this particular circumstance it's SO enhanced. I mean remember when Willow and Xander were "cheating"? True it wasn't sex, but they were fooling around and yet Oz didn't detect that.

Perhaps the real problem here is that there is a lot implied because they didn't want to overtly show/talk about Willow and Tara.
posted by miss-lapin at 8:39 PM on October 6, 2015


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