Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | December 13, 2010

Cordia’s Review: S1, E06 – The Pack

The Pack
Season 1, Episode 6
Original airing: April 7, 1997

My Rating: 68

The Good: Wow, does Nicholas Brendon get to do something different with Xander in this episode. The transformation the character undergoes from sweet, kind Xander to complete ***hole is wonderfully done. It allows the show to play with all the what-ifs that would tear the main group apart if they were handled in earnest. Xander blows off Willow, attacks Buffy, and gets to be a general jerk. And it was sad, uncomfortable, and funny to watch.

The support characters were strong in this episode, too. By having one of the main four as the central focus, the support characters got to be simpler, which made them stronger, in my opinion. The four other hyena-possessed students are dark, creepy, and consistent. And the zookeeper was an excellent main villain with his deceitful behavior and calm demeanor. This was all a very welcome change from the disaster that was Owen in the last episode.

This episode did a nice job of balancing between dark and too dark. The savage death of Principal Flutie at the hands of four high school students would have been way too much if Xander had been involved. There’d be no coming back from eating someone for a character like Xander. One has to wonder if the other four hyena-possessed students all ended up in straightjackets and mental hospitals. Especially since they can remember everything that happened.

The Bad: Taking the episode on its own, I don’t have much to say about it that was bad. My only real gripes were a few stylistic approaches, such as using the relatively unexciting dodge ball game to show the viciousness of the hyena-possessed students. This was showcased much better by having them eat Herbert and Principal Flutie.

Favorite Moment: The conversation between Willow and Xander in the library is heartbreaking. Willow is skeptical and cautious, and yet yearns for his words to be true. She even comes to almost believe it near the end as she looks into his eyes and drifts closer. Of course, she’s only reflecting her own desires and is quick to smile when Xander lunges at her, putting the lie to all his words.

The Bottom Line: This was a solid episode with strong characterizations for the main and support characters. The acting and storyline were all solid. The best part is, the audience is treated to an aspect of Xander’s personality that we probably would never have seen otherwise.


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