May 7, 2022

Buffy 3.4, Beauty and the Beasts: Two Kinds of Monsters

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:05 pm by Jenn

Where do Oz’s parents think he spends the night three times a month?

Summary: Buffy voices over a passage from The Call of the Wild, which Willow is reading to Oz in the library in the middle of the night. There’s a full moon, so Oz is in his werewolf form, locked in a book cage. Xander arrives for his turn babysitting, and Willow warns him not to read the parts about rabbits, which rile Oz up. There’s some discussion of how Oz will be naked when he becomes human again, and how Willow isn’t quite comfortable seeing that yet. Anyway, it’s night one of his three-night transformation, and he won’t be really wild until night three, so Xander shouldn’t have much to worry about.

Buffy and Faith are out patrolling in a cemetery, but the night seems quiet. Faith wants to talk about Buffy’s relationship with Scott. They’ve gone on a few dates, which Faith thinks means they’ll be stepping things up soon, at least in the bedroom department. Buffy isn’t ready for that, though she likes him (and appreciates that he seems to be human). Faith warns her that all men are beasts, no matter how sensitive they seem. They’re all in it for the chase. In fact, one is being chased right now. Too bad the Slayers aren’t there to save him from whoever or whatever is after him.

At school the next day, Willow disagrees with Faith’s assertion that all guys want to chase girls. Scott comes over to say hi to Buffy, who’s with Willow and Oz. They’re joined by two of Scott’s friends, Debbie and Pete. Debbie knows Oz from jazz band, though he’s not in it this year because he couldn’t handle the pressure of marching and playing at the same time. Buffy didn’t even know they had a marching jazz band. Apparently it’s all improvisational, which makes it hard for the players to stay in formation.

Buffy admires the flowers Pete gave Debbie. Pete says Scott probably brings Buffy flowers all the time. No, they’re not up to that place in their relationship yet. Buffy heads off to see Mr. Platt, the school counselor, to fulfill the part of her readmittance agreement that says she has to be confirmed not to be a violent threat. Debbie doesn’t like Mr. Platt, whom she’s had to see because she’s flunking biology and has been determined to have “success issues.” Oz offers to loan her his notes.

Giles and Xander are panicking a little in the library, though they try to convince Oz and Willow that they’re not. A student named Jeff was found dead in the woods, having been mauled. Giles is worried that Oz was responsible. Xander insists that all the library’s exits were secure the night before, so he couldn’t have gotten out. But he can’t be sure because he fell asleep. He spots an open window at the top of the book cage and realizes he might be wrong. But Oz was in the cage in the morning, so the chances are slim that he killed Jeff. Oz doesn’t care how slim they are if they exist at all.

Buffy meets with Mr. Platt, who really shouldn’t be smoking in his office. She tells him she’ll cooperate with the terms of her agreement, but she doesn’t want to get into anything too personal, and she’s not going to become friends with the counselor. Mr. Platt doesn’t want that, either, since friends tend to agree with you and tell you what you want to hear. Buffy needs an honest opinion from a trained professional. He tells her that everyone has problems – demons, even. But demons can be fought and people can change.

He wants to start with why she ran away over the summer. Buffy doesn’t want to go into details, especially since she’s moving on and doing better. She’s even dating someone new. Mr. Platt says that’s great, but he’s joining her at the end of a movie and needs the backstory. Buffy says she was dating someone and it ended badly. That combined with a fight with her mother drove her to leave.

Mr. Platt asks for more information on “bad ending guy.” She says he was her first love, but he… Mr. Platt finishes for her, saying the guy changed. He got mean and she still loved him. Mr. Platt assures Buffy that a lot of people go through something like that, getting lost in love. The trick is to not stay lost. You have to get back to yourself. Buffy asks what happens if you can’t. “Love becomes your master, and you’re just its dog,” he replies.

After her session, Buffy goes to the library and learns that Oz may have killed Jeff. Oz and Giles note that they could be dealing with another werewolf, or some other demon. Buffy is confident that they can figure this out. Giles tells her to patrol the woods while the other Scoobies go to the morgue and find out if Jeff was killed by a werewolf. Welcome to Sunnydale High, where sometimes you go on a field trip to see dead bodies!

Oz needs a babysitter again that night, so Giles suggests Faith. Oz thinks he wants a Slayer there for extra protection. He starts to leave and Willow tries to stop him. He tells her he needs to bail on the conversation even though it’s dramatic; it’s a guy thing. The problem is that the sun is about to set, so it’s cage time. He tells Willow to get away from the cage so he doesn’t accidentally hurt her.

That night, Buffy patrols the woods. She spots someone running around and chases him. But it’s not Oz or another werewolf – it’s Angel. He acts feral, as if he doesn’t recognize her, and he tries to attack her. She fights him and knocks him out, finally getting a moment to realize that her supposedly dead boyfriend has come back.

Willow and Xander go to the morgue, where one of them is much more comfortable looking at a dead body than the other. Cordelia joins them, spooking Xander, who admonishes, “We’re doing crime here! You don’t sneak up during crime!” Willow takes some samples from Jeff’s body and examines his wounds, but she can’t be sure what killed him. When she’s done, she passes out. Xander and Cordelia think all signs point to Oz, unfortunately.

Buffy takes Angel to his old mansion and chains him up. Then she goes to the library, where Faith is listening to loud music and doesn’t hear her come in. Faith punches her for sneaking up on her. Buffy says she’ll take Faith’s place on Oz-sitting duty, so Faith decides to go patrolling. Buffy looks through a card catalog after she leaves.

In the morning, Oz is human again, and Giles casually unlocks his book cage while he sleeps. Buffy’s asleep, too, having dozed off while reading about Acathla and demon dimensions. She lies that they’re Faith’s books. Giles gets her to open up, and she says she had a dream about Angel that brought up some questions. She dreamed that he came back. Giles thinks that’s understandable; he dreamed the same about Jenny after her death. In those dreams, he was able to save her.

Buffy says hers are a little different – more vivid and real. Giles asks if they could have been prophetic. She says no, but they make her wonder if Angel could come back. He tells her there’s no record of someone returning from a demon dimension after a gate was closed. Uh, how many times have portals to demon dimensions been opened? Just curious.

Buffy asks what Angel would be like if he hypothetically did come back. Giles says he would have been tormented in a world where time moves differently. He would have been there for hundreds of years full of torture. It would be really difficult to hold on to any of his humanity. He’d probably come back a monster. “A lost cause,” Buffy says. Giles tells her there are two kinds of monsters: those who can be redeemed, who want to be, and those who are completely void of humanity and can’t respond to reason or love.

Willow arrives, surprised that Buffy’s awake so early. She doesn’t have good news about her morgue visit – her findings were inconclusive. Buffy panics a little. At lunch she sits with Scott, Debbie, and Pete, telling them she didn’t sleep well the night before. Debbie cautions her not to tell Mr. Platt, or he’ll make her keep a dream journal. Pete asks if that’s related to Barbie somehow: “Dear dream journal, how come Ken hasn’t come around since he got that earring?”

Buffy admits that she likes Mr. Platt, which Debbie can’t really relate to. She doesn’t always like what he says. Scott says his mom is pro-therapy, and when Pete makes fun of her, Scott jokes to Buffy they’re not really friends; he hired people to make himself look social so she would like him. He tries to cheer her up, but her mind is elsewhere, and she comes up with an excuse to leave. She goes to the mansion, where Angel is still chained up and still basically feral.

After school, someone watches Debbie and Pete together. They duck into a closet, where he spots a jar with something green and glowing at the bottom. He asks Debbie if she drank the contents. She promises she didn’t, but he thinks something’s going on.

Buffy goes to another appointment with Mr. Platt, who’s facing away from the door. She tells him not to turn his chair around; she just wants him to listen. She wants to tell him everything that’s going on, even though she knows it’ll sound crazy. She can’t talk to anyone else. Buffy says she needs help because she’s scared. She stops when she realizes that Mr. Platt’s cigarette has been in the same position for a while, and the ash has been accumulating. As we see that he’s been mauled and killed, Buffy says softly, “He’s come back.”

Back in the closet, Debbie admits to Pete that she was trying to get rid of the contents of the jar. When he drinks it, he gets… Pete breaks in and says it doesn’t do anything to him. He’s past that now. He breaks the jar, spooking her, then smashes other jars in the closet. Debbie can pour out everything he’s made and it wouldn’t matter because now all it takes to affect him is Debbie and her grating voice. His face changes and he becomes a monster.

He says Debbie’s the reason he “started the formulas” in the first place. He was trying to be the man she wanted. Now she’s paying him back by hanging out with other guys and taunting him. Debbie swears that she doesn’t even look at other guys. Pete hits her and throws her on the ground.

He mocks that her shrink must have taught her to share and communicate, which just makes Pete mad. He tells her that Mr. Platt won’t be listening to her “pathetic ramblings” anymore. Pete is all she has now. Suddenly he realizes what he’s turned into and becomes human again. He acts like he’s sorry for what happened, but he tells Debbie she knows better than to make him mad. She holds him as if he’s the one who just got yelled at.

In the library, Giles tells Buffy, Willow, and Faith that Platt’s death wasn’t a pleasant one. But the coroner determined that he was killed not long before Buffy found him, which means he died during the day. Willow cheers because that means Oz didn’t kill him. (Of course, this also means Angel didn’t kill him, both because he was chained up and because he can’t go out during the day.)

It’s almost sunset but Oz is still outside, waiting to meet with Debbie so he can give her his notes. She shows up bruised and uses the age-old excuse that she walked into a doorknob. Pete watches from across the quad as his girlfriend talks to another guy. Oz offers to listen if Debbie wants to talk, but she leaves as soon as she can.

He heads to the library, where Willow happily tells him that he definitely didn’t kill anyone. Giles wonders if Jeff and Mr. Platt had anything in common. Oz suggests Debbie, who was in counseling with Mr. Platt and knew Jeff from jazz band. The two of them would joke around a lot. Oz mentions Debbie’s bruises, which make Willow wonder if she killed Mr. Platt and he fought back. Buffy says he died quickly, still holding his cigarette. Maybe Pete killed him.

The others head off to find Pete and Debbie while Oz locks himself up. Buffy and Willow catch Debbie covering her bruises with makeup in the girls’ locker room. Buffy is sure Debbie knows what’s going on and demands that she spill. Debbie defends Pete, saying he’s not himself when he gets violent. She’s the reason he gets that way, and he acts the way he does because he loves her so much. Buffy realizes that Pete becomes a monster. Debbie doesn’t want to talk anymore, since she never asked for help. Willow notes that if Pete kills her, it’ll be too late for her to get help.

As the sun goes down, Angel manages to break free from his chains. Buffy asks Debbie where Pete is, but she won’t say. Buffy asks why she’s protecting someone who would hurt her the way Pete does. He doesn’t really love her. Debbie doesn’t want to turn on her boyfriend if it means he’ll be taken away. She’s his everything. Buffy angrily says that while they’re having their supposedly fairy-tale romance, people are dying.

Pete goes to the library, where Oz is waiting to transform. He tells Pete to leave, but Pete is only thinking about the possibility that Oz is sneaking around with Debbie. Oz starts to warn that when the sun goes down, something bad will happen. Pete tells him he won’t live that long, then transforms into his monster self. He tears the door off the cage and attacks Oz.

In the locker room, Debbie is repeating, “He does love me” over and over. Buffy tells Willow they don’t have time for this; they need to find Pete. Willow thinks they broke Debbie, but Buffy says she was already broken. Pete throws Oz around in the library until the moon comes out and Oz gets the upper hand. Er, paw. It’s monster vs. werewolf now, and the Scoobies arrive in the middle of the fight. Buffy tries to shoot Oz with a tranquilizer dart but Debbie pushes her and Buffy accidentally shoots Giles instead.

Oz runs off so Buffy tells Faith to tranq him while she fights Pete. Pete pushes a bookcase down on her and also escapes the library. He climbs through a high window in a hallway and Buffy loses his trail. He finds Debbie hiding in some storage space, and she tells him he needs to leave town. He accuses her of telling Buffy what he was and spits out that Debbie’s a screw-up and a waste of space.

As Buffy spots some blood Pete left up by the window, Faith and Willow catch up to Oz. Buffy follows the blood to the storage space, where she finds Debbie dead. She doesn’t have time to react before Pete attacks her. Willow pulls Oz off of Faith and lets him chase her, but Faith tranqs him before he can hurt her. As Pete is fighting Buffy, Angel shows up and takes over for her. He ends up strangling Pete with his chains, killing him. When he turns to look at Buffy, his face, which has been in vamp mode since he got back, becomes normal and he says her name. He drops to his knees and hugs her, crying.

The next day, the Scoobies talk about how everyone knows what happened with Pete and Debbie, except for the monster part. Their classmates have some weird theories about what happened. Cordelia has somehow been left out of the loop, so Willow explains that Pete was doing a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing. He thought Debbie was going to leave him, so he made some concoction to make himself more macho. After a while, he was able to become that way without the concoction. In the end, he wasn’t a monster anymore, just himself.

Buffy splits off from the group to talk to Scott. She wants to comfort him over the loss of two of his friends but she doesn’t know what to say. Scott’s struggling with the fact that he didn’t know what was going on with Pete and Debbie. That night, Buffy sits with Angel as he sleeps in the mansion. She voices over more of The Call of the Wild, a passage that says the wolf retained his wildness even after being somewhat domesticated because “a call still sounded.”

Thoughts: Oz is usually the comic relief, and Seth Green mostly does comedy, but he’s really good with the dramatic stuff in this episode. He makes you feel sorry for Oz, both because he has to deal with something he can’t control and because he’s so concerned about hurting people he cares about.

The theme of this episode is fine but the Debbie/Pete stuff is too heavy-handed. I wonder if it would have worked better if they’d kept Pete human. It would be a reminder that someone doesn’t have to be a literally monster to act like one.

It’s cute enough that Willow keeps her corpse-examining tools in a lunchbox. It’s even cuter that it’s a Scooby-Doo lunchbox.

Okay, where did Angel get pants and shoes? And why would he want them if he’s basically an animal?

1 Comment »

  1. Myriam said,

    I agree with you, the ep would have been superior if Pete had just been a “normal” domestic abuser. There was no need for the tacky magical green drink storyline. And I remember being a bit confused when I first saw this ep, since at the end he ended up becoming violent without it.


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