Wednesday, 30 November 2011
BUFFY: 4.08 ‘PANGS’
A bear! You made a bear! Heh.
WRITER: Jane Espenson
DIRECTOR: Michael Lange
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
It’s almost Thanksgiving and in his latest menial job, Xander is helping excavate the ground at Sunnydale U for a new faculty building, only to fall through the ground in to what is the lost Sunnydale Mission, buried in an earthquake years and years ago. Unfortunately Xander’s accident also unleashes the vengeful spirit of a Native American Chumash warrior who infects Xander with all the illnesses the original European settlers infected his people with. The spirit then moves on to start taking murderous revenge on local people of status for the slaughter of his people centuries ago. At the same time, Spike, hunted by Initiative commandos, is wandering the town, miserable and starving, staring longingly through windows at other vampires having happy blood feasts. Poor chap. Meanwhile, Buffy is feeling the need for some homespun Thanksgiving food and general cosiness and decides to lay on a big meal at Giles’s house for the gang. But circumstances are gonna make Buffy’s meal harder and harder to prepare for. First, Willow is anti Thanksgiving. She sees it as a celebration of the massacre of an indigenous people. She is also against ‘slaying’ the Chumash warrior because he is rightfully upset by what was done to his people. This leads to her falling out with Giles who remains insistent that they must stop the warrior at all costs. Second, Xander turns up sick as a dog, finding out he now has several diseases including syphilis. Third, Spike turns up out of the blue seeking sanctuary and with info about the Initiative. Third, Buffy feels a strange invisible presence around her. A presence we soon find out is actually Angel who’s secretly been helping her after Doyle received a vision back in LA of Buffy in mortal danger. So, can the Chumash warrior be stopped before he kills anyone else? Can Spike be trusted? Can Xander’s syphilis be cured? Can Buffy get the turkey on the table in time for a nice cosy Thanksgiving dinner?
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
It’s all about Thanksgiving and what it means. Not being an American Thanksgiving means virtually nothing to me. But I understand there seems to be a debate about it in the US of which Willow takes one side: that it is a nasty sham - a ‘yam sham’ which is really all about the massacre of indigenous peoples. I do like how Giles, and to a greater degree Spike, (both Brits like me) take a far more hard-nosed and practical view of the whole thing. Anyway, as with all things there’s always more than one side, and at least this episode of Buffy, though very charming and very, very funny, makes an effort to expose some of the darker truths.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Hus, the Chumash spirit warrior
WHY IT ROCKS
Big funny. Pangs is hilarious. The great Jane Espenson ™ wrote a wonderfully funny script that deals with the whole Thanksgiving issue nicely while playing up some great character beats and producing plenty of laugh out loud moments – many of which are to do with Spike. And speaking of…
Spike. Yep, once again James Marsters rocks! This is the start of Spike becoming an unwilling part of the Scooby Gang. Its needs must for poor Spike. He can’t get blood from people anymore so is starving while also being hunted by the Initiative commandos. So he seeks refuge with his sworn enemies hoping they won’t hurt him, as he’s all helpless and fangless. Putting Spike at the centre of the group dynamic works a treat. He sits there, tied to a chair, giving blunt acidic commentary on everything going on around him. He is the truth teller. He spells it out like it is. This role was originally taken by Cordelia and will soon be taken by Anya seeing as how Spike is limited in what he can do and where he can go by that darned daylight. But he will from now on remain an integral part of the Scooby Gang whether he or they want him to or not.
Sickly Xander. Poor chap. He gets various diseases all at once including (gulp!) syphilis. His pasty pathetic state is very, very funny.
A Buffy bear hug. Buffy wrestles a bear and it looks so silly but manages to be (intentionally) hilarious and made all the better by Spike’s reaction.
The ‘cavalry’ charging to the rescue…on bicycles.
The end Thanksgiving dinner scene and Xander’s faux pas. And Spike’s smug look.
WHY IT SUCKS
The whole Angel sneaking around thing is pointless and contrived. It is only there to get Buffy to go visit him in LA in the following episode of Angel. Still, its cool seeing Captain Forehead mixing with the gang again.
Spike’s horrified reaction to the Chumash warrior turning in to a bear.
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Buffy (about construction-working Xander): “Very manly. Not at all Village People.”
Willow (angrily to Giles): "You know, I don't think you want to help! You just want to slay the demon and go 'la, la, la.'"
Spike (on his implant): "I'm saying that Spike had a little trip to the vet, and now he doesn't chase the other puppies anymore."
Spike (shocked): "A bear! You made a bear!"
Buffy (timidly): "I didn't mean to!"
Spike (panicking): "Undo it! Undo it!
Xander (looking ill and worried):”Can we come rocketing back to the part about me and my new syphilis.”
Giles (dryly): “Yes, I’m always behind on terms. I'm still trying not to refer to you lot as 'bloody colonials.'”
Spike: “What part of 'help me!' do you not understand?”
Buffy: “The part where I help you.”
Anya: “So this is Angel. He's large and glowery, isn't he?”
HOW MANY STAKES?
I give thanks every time I watch this episode. 4 (out of 5)