Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 30, 2012

Robin’s Review: S4, E18 – Where the Wild Things Are

Synopsis: Buffy and Riley are having a lot of sex. Anya and Xander are not and she is worried that they are about to break up. At a party at Riley’s house Buffy and Riley disappear to enjoy more alone time while Xander and Anya argue. The other party goers begin to experience strange sexual phenomenon and apparitions. Vines grow to protect Buffy and Riley from the party and the others are forcibly ejected by a spirit. They rush to find Giles who is playing guitar at a coffee house. They discover that before the building was a frat house it was a home for children.

The Good: I’ve asked for more characterisation for Anya and Xander and although this wasn’t much it was something. I appreciated the way Anya’s perspective on relationships fed her insecurities. She and Xander have begun to move from the early passion phase into something more settled and she fears that they are on the slippery slope toward breakup and vengeance. I found most of what happened between the initial argument and the end to be tedious. However the vine attacks on the two of them were filmed in a suitably dramatic way. So it did feel like they had gone through a traumatic experience together and saved each other’s lives in the pursuit of saving the day. For now that will do as a basis for their continued happiness.

The odd line worked well including Willow telling the poltergeist to just “get over it” and Spike claiming he should have “stopped to smell the corpses.” Spike mugging people makes sense.

The Bad: As for the rest of the episode…I don’t know. Nothing here felt organic or seemed to have much of a purpose. Sticking with Anya and Xander for a moment, their bickering lacked depth and felt repetitive. After the initial discussion in the ice cream truck we didn’t learn much more about their feelings. She just complains to Spike about how powerless she is while he gets jealous and flirts with another girl.

I wasn’t sure if that moment was inspired by the horny house or if Xander was just being outrageously disloyal. Which leads into my second complaint which was the disjointed nature of the plot. The haunted house (which felt like a knock off of “Fear Itself”, 404) was responsible for Tara suddenly reacting with disgust to Willow’s touch while simultaneously making a patch on the wall act like an orgasmatron. We then got horrible apparitions, Spike being briefly harnessed and an earthquake. It wasn’t clear what any of this was meant to be in aid of. Only the vines, meant to prevent anyone from reaching Buffy and Riley, served an obvious purpose.

Having just fled the house Xander then announces that he must go back in which felt odd. He is ejected from the house by an invisible force which surely could have just ejected everyone from the house without resorting to all the bizarre special effects. Anyway, the gang run to find Giles who is showing off a little of his Ripper-side at a coffee house. Although its clearly not out of character and I do appreciate the comedy potential this again felt abrupt and out of place. In the midst of a story that makes little sense we are supposed to suddenly absorb the fact that Giles is now no longer the man who would prefer a cup of Bovril and a good book (101).

We now reach the crux of the story though. Apparently this is no metaphor about how people at college have a lot of sex, instead it’s a good old fashioned ghost story. Buffy has always been guilty of its detective work happening too swiftly and easily but this was as bad as it gets. For no apparent reason Willow picks out the right article referring to the right era of the frat house’s history. They find the former warden of the children’s home who naturally reveals immediately that she used to abuse the children. From this jumble of information Giles is able to instantly conclude that Buffy and Riley are acting as a sexually charged battery for a poltergeist to manifest the bad energy those children stored up. Umm, what?

Xander and Anya now enter the house where conveniently the apparitions and vines are strong enough to nearly drown Xander and puncture Anya’s hand but no longer strong enough to just throw them out. Anya didn’t react with nearly enough pain to her hand being cut through and the whole thing ended on a flat note with Buffy and Riley apparently not learning the lesson that enjoying one another to the exclusion of all else can be bad. What a weird episode.

Two of the big set piece jokes also fell completely flat. Xander’s latest job is driving an ice cream truck. His argument with Anya leads him to yell out an offer to have sex right there and then. Naturally they both turn to see a bunch of children and parents waiting outside the truck. It was far too obvious and forced and the same was true later on when Spike offered to help save Buffy. He has zero reason to want to help and after listing all the reasons he shouldn’t he manages to convince himself not to. Again it was flat and Spike’s cameos are becoming repetitive too.

The Unknown: Again Adam was largely absent from the story despite the news that demons and vampires are now working together for a change. There is very little time left for Adam to become a genuinely interesting part of the story.

Best Moment: Once Buffy and Riley are freed from their sexual “prison” we cut to the next day having coffee with the Scoobies. “I can’t believe it really happened” comments Riley. “I just had no idea” adds Buffy, “it’s so creepy…he was really singing?”

The Bottom Line: Between the awkward orgasm acting, the badly structured plot and the poor comedy this is not one worth rewatching often.

37/100

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