Thursday, 10 February 2011

Buffy: 3.4 'Beauty and the Beasts'

WAAHHH! I'm all veiny!

Writer: Marti Noxon
Director: James Whitmore Jr

What's the sitch?

Corpses who've been mauled to death start turning up around town and Buffy fears it might be down to Angel, who she's found in an almost mindless, feral state after his mysterious return. A return Buffy is keeping a secret, not telling anyone, not even Giles. She also has to regularly see the school’s therapist as part of her re-admittance. Meanwhile Willow fears the killer might be Oz, because in wolf mode he escaped from the library book cage (after Xander fell asleep while on guard duty) around the same time the murders happened. As it turns out neither vampire nor werewolf are responsible for the killings. The culprit is actually Pete, a friend of Buffy’s new beau, dull Scott Hope. You see Pete, a science genius, is also deeply insecure in his relationship with his long-time love, Debbie, who happens to be a platonic friend of Oz's. And so to compensate for his perceived inadequacies, Pete has invented a potion that enhances his masculine, aggressive side so as to (he believes) keep Debbie interested. Unfortunately the potion messes with Pete's mind and physically transforms him in to a strong and murderous Mr Hyde type who is also immensely abusive to Debbie. Pretty soon Oz becomes concerned for Debbie, and Pete starts seeing Oz as a threat to his relationship. So he decides to take some action against our favourite hirsute guitarist. Cue a Mr Hyde vs werewolf showdown.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

More of the old beast within sitch. Oz is an unwilling victim of is internal beast but he manages to control it – mostly because he loves Willow. Angel has reverted to a beast and yet somehow keeps a level of control and instinctual protectiveness of Buffy. But Pete willingly reverts to a bestial state through misguided fear of losing Debbie and is own deep insecurities. The three love struck women in the episode each has a beast of a boyfriend– Buffy with Angel, Willow with Oz and Debbie with Pete. But it is only Debbie who cannot or will not admit to Pete's behaviour. She's become far to dependent and beaten down. Basically this is your abusive controlling boyfriend metaphor given a Sunnydale twist.

Why it rocks

Seth Green. We get to see more of Oz and how he relates to others on a personal level. Turns out he's a great guy, a caring guy. Like we didn't already know.

This works quite well as a mystery whodunit. We aren't sure who is the killer until later on in the episode.

Poor Buffy. Finding Angel returned sends her whole world in to a spin. She was just recovering and now it all goes kaphlooey again. The kid never gets a break.

Why it sucks

This is a dull filler episode that goes nowhere. Feel free to skip it.

The metaphor is too glaring and the overall story just ain't very good. Pete is an idiot and a pretty rubbish beast with his blistery red face. Plus Debbie is the worst kind of simpering victim who is just there to be abused and to suffer. At least Lily aka Chantarelle, another simpering girly girl, develops and grows over time. But Debbie is the worst kind of victim - a willingly helpless one.

The new werewolf design is terrible. It's like a flat faced monkey and about as scary as a pair of socks.

Is it just me or how the heck can such a puny looking book cage hold a ferocious werewolf?

Not enough Faith.

Dialogue to die for

Xander: Oz doesn't eat people. It's more werewolf play. You know, 'I bat you around a little bit. Like a cat toy. I have harmless wolf fun.' Is it Oz's fault, that, you know, side effect, people get cut to ribbons, and maybe then he'll take a little nibble and...I'm not helping am I?

Buffy (arriving at the school shrink’s office): Buffy Summers, reporting for sanity.

Giles: Clearly, we're looking for a depraved, sadistic animal.
Oz: Present. I may be a cold-blooded jelly doughnut, but my timing is impeccable.

Giles (getting accidentally shot in the arse with a tranquilliser dart): Right! Bloody priceless...

It's Bufftastic

Giles getting accidentally shot by the tranquilliser meant for Oz. “Right! Bloody priceless...” then collapsing unconscious.

And another thing

The story uses Jack London's Call of the Wild as a touchstone with Willow reading it to Oz in werewolf form. However the passages read are not actually from the book but are paraphrased from different parts of the book.

Mr. Platt, the school shrink’s smoking reinforces the show's clear bias against smoking. Every character in the show who has smoked has been either evil (Spike and the evil Angel), doomed (Laura in "Nightmares" and the woman who was Angel's first kill after re-losing his soul) or both (Sheila in "School Hard"). And now Mr Platt.

In the locker room behind Buffy is an anti-violence poster that reads 'Most Women Aren't Attracted to Dead Guys.' Oh the irony.

Willow has a Scooby Doo lunch box. Heh.


This beast needs putting down. 1.5 (out of 5)

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