Saturday, 14 January 2012
BUFFY 4.19: ‘NEW MOON RISING’
Willow and Oz’s very first date. Cute. (Ally and Seth circa 1988)
WRITER: Marti Noxon
DIRECTOR: James A. Contner
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Just as Willow and Tara are enjoying the flowering of their new romantic relationship, who should suddenly turn up out of the blue but Oz. Yep, good ol’ Oz. The taciturn wolfman is back. He’s been travelling the world searching for a cure for his werewolfism. And he appears to have found it. His reappearance throws poor Willow and obviously crushes an already insecure Tara. Oz, not knowing about Willow and Tara, is looking to get his girl back now that he’s discovered a way to control his beast, to keep it inside. However he soon cottons on to Willow’s new relationship. And an explosion of jealousy releases his savage inner beast. Transforming in to a wolf, Oz chases Tara only to be quickly captured and subdued by Riley and a squad of Initiative soldiers who think he’s the demon who killed one of their men earlier on (he isn’t). Before Tara can tell Riley’s its Oz, the unconscious wolf is carted away. Tara rushes to find Buffy and Willow to tell them what happened. A plan is quickly formed to sneak in to the Initiative and rescue Oz, which the gang manages to do, forcing Riley to finally choose a side.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
Oz is back and dealing with his inner beast. So we are back to that beast within metaphor. There is also a potentially abusive relationship angle here as we now realise that anger, jealousy – especially to do with Willow - lets loose Oz’s beast. They have a conversation where Oz says if she ever makes him angry then he could go all animal and hurt her. At least Oz realises the issue and makes responsible decisions. There’s also a theme of bigotry and sexuality. Willow basically comes out to Buffy, telling her about Tara. Initially Buffy is rather shocked and kinda thrown. But she soon recovers and gives her friend the support she needs. Later, when discussing with Riley about Oz being a werewolf, and seeing shocked Riley’s reaction to Willow having been involved with such a creature, Buffy gets angry at Riley’s apparent bigotry. She rightly says that love isn’t always clean and simple. You love who you love. Though I suspect Buffy is angrier at her own initial reaction to Willow confiding in her as well as also reflecting on her own past relationship with Angel.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Oz I guess, with the Initiative guys having a good try.
WHY IT ROCKS
The script. Marti Noxon wrote an emotional rollercoaster. Poor Willow. Poor Tara. Poor Oz. People are gonna get hurt. And hurt they do indeed get.
The themes. As discussed in the ‘What’s the sitch beneath the sitch?’ section, the themes are strong and pretty effective without ever beating the audience over the head.
Oz. Yay! Seth Green returns for his penultimate ever appearance on Buffy to tie up the loose ends left hanging after his rather hasty departure earlier in the season. And as always he’s great. It’s good to see a slightly new side to the character – a pent up aggression which is totally against type.
Willow. Alyson Hannigan is truly excellent. Poor Willow is put through the emotional wringer, not knowing what to do, not wanting to hurt anyone. Her last scene with Oz in his van is wonderful as is her sad little speech to him, perfectly written by Marti Noxon. Her final scene with Tara is equally good and oh so sweet.
Tara. Amber Benson does strong work. You can see her heart starting to break when Oz turns up. She has to make you believe that Willow would want to be with her. And she does. Tara is sweet, gentle and willing to put everyone else’s needs before her own.
WHY IT SUCKS
As always, werewolf Oz looks rubbish. Hairy monkey time again.
I’m not quite sure why the Initiative guys would believe that Buffy would really kill their general when she’s holding him hostage. Everything they know of her would tell them she’s bluffing. Hey ho.
Oz has been gone for about five and a half months. He seems to have travelled an awful long way and seen a lot of remote parts of the world in that time. Not impossible, just a bit improbable.
Willow and Oz’s final goodbye
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Riley: “OK, I'm up less than a minute and somehow I've managed to piss you off.”
Buffy: “You mean Tara has a crush on Oz? No, you — oh. Oh. Um... Well... That's great. You know, I mean, I think Tara is a really great girl, Will.”
Willow: “She is. And... there's something between us. It wasn't something I was looking for. It's just powerful. And it's totally different from what Oz and I have.”
Buffy: “Well, there you go. I mean, you know, you have to follow your heart, Will. And that's what important, Will.”
Willow: “Why do you keep saying my name like that?”
Buffy: “Like what, Will?”
Willow: “Are you freaked?”
Buffy: “What? No, Will, don't — (regains her composure) No. No, absolutely no to that question. I'm glad you told me.”
Adam: “Scout's honour.”
Spike: “You were a Boy Scout?”
Adam: “Parts of me.”
Oz: “It was stupid to think that you'd just be... waiting.”
Willow: “I was waiting. I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you. Like if I'm old and blue-haired and I turn the corner in Istanbul, and there you are. I won't be surprised... Because you're with me, you know?”
AND ANOTHER THING
In the original script Emma Caulfield was listed with the regulars for the first time, though she wasn’t yet added to the opening credits.
HOW MANY STAKES?
Return of the Wolfman. 4 (out of 5)