Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | April 29, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S4, E08 – Pangs

Season 4, Episode 8
Original airing: 11/23/1999

My Rating: 63

The Good: The humor was really strong in this episode. There were a lot of excellent one-liners and I appreciated the physical humor as well. Xander and Anya’s relationship grew in the episode as well as Buffy’s obsession with Thanksgiving.

It’s been really fun watching Xander and Anya struggle through the beginnings of a relationship. Anya is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters with her blunt, but reasonable manner. I love the moment when Xander calls her his girlfriend and she just pauses and then smiles. It’s very nice.

I also really liked Buffy’s intense focus on her Thanksgiving dinner. While I didn’t understand why Joyce would go across the country without Buffy to visit family during a holiday, I did think this was a reasonable reaction. And her constantly rising level of stress made it more and more funny with each scene.

Finally, I thought they actually did a pretty good job fitting Spike into the story. He spends the first part of the episode wandering the streets, then turns to Harmony for help. When she chases him out with a stake, an excellent moment for her character, he has nowhere else to go but to Buffy. It makes sense that he would turn to someone who knows a lot about the supernatural and could potentially help him. His offer of information does seem like something Buffy would be interested in. But it also plays well that Buffy is too busy planning her perfect Thanksgiving to beat the information out of him. He’s not important. He can wait.

The Meh: Why was Angel in this episode? He didn’t seem to serve any purpose at all. The one thing he really did was take down the Indian about to knife Buffy in the back. But it seems like anyone could have done that. Mostly, I felt he was a distraction to the story.

I also didn’t see much point in Riley’s scenes. He and his buddies don’t seem that interested in finding Spike, and his scene with Buffy was yet again awkward and forced.

Finally, I found Xander’s fluctuating illness annoying. He’s literally dying on the couch and then is capable of riding a bike at full speed and jumping into a major fight. Very silly.

The Bad: While I enjoyed the humor derived from the characters in this episode, I thought Willow was extremely over played as the sudden civil rights activist. But the main issue was the moral heavy handedness of the episode. There should never have been a question about Buffy killing the avenging spirit. When she began to express doubt concerning what to do in the situation, it just came across as false.

Willow’s sudden interest in the Indians didn’t make a lot of sense. The show tried to introduce it by reminding us of Willow’s extremely realistic mother, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Willow would feel the same way. Her argument that they shouldn’t kill the murdering avenging spirit because wrongs were done to his people hundreds of years ago is just silly. Willow as a person may generally be the least violent, but I just can’t imagine her being willing to sacrifice people today for something that can’t be changed in the past.

This was the crux of the episode. Buffy mentions hesitating during her first fight with the spirit. She seems frustrated with herself, but then begins to question if it’s right to kill the spirit at all. At this point, Giles points out that the spirit has already killed two innocent people and is most likely going to kill more. Buffy turns away in confusion when she should have been agreeing. There is no way any of these characters should have been questioning the next step. This is where the moral part of the story tripped up the characters. Spike has to reiterate the point later about conquest, and yet Buffy and Willow are still resistant. While it’s of course reprehensible what was done to the natives of the area, it does not excuse continued murder.

Favorite Moment: Willow – “And I happen to think mine is the level head and yours is the one things would roll off of.”

I found this quote particularly hilarious. While I was often amused in this episode, I laughed long and loud at this, so it wins best moment. I think it’s the superior face she makes at Giles when she says it. Of all the people to accuse of being un-levelheaded.

The Bottom Line: Overall, I was disappointed with this episode. I thought the humor was really strong, but the heavy handed nature of the storyline was distracting.


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