January 14, 2023

Buffy 4.18, Where the Wild Things Are: Ghosts of Repression Past

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , at 1:12 pm by Jenn

These two save the episode

Summary: Buffy’s on patrol in some fun pants, getting assistance from Riley. They make a good team, and it doesn’t take them long to take out their attackers. They think it’s interesting that vampires and demons teamed up, and it’s something Giles should know. But they’ll wait until the morning to talk to him, since they want to have sex first. They fall asleep in Riley’s bed afterward, and when Riley slips out a little later, he hears some rustling and splashing noises. He follows them to the bathroom, but all he finds is a dripping faucet.

The next morning, Xander tries to convince Anya to go to a party at Riley’s frat house. He’s at his new job as an ice cream truck driver. Anya doesn’t feel comfortable hanging out with the commandos, since she’s a former demon. Xander doesn’t think they would care if they found out, which they won’t. Plus, there will be so many people there that they probably won’t even notice her. Anya interprets that as him saying she’s not “desirable” enough for college guys to flirt with her. He realizes he’s not going to win this argument.

He assures her that he still finds her beautiful. Anya asks why they didn’t have sex last night. This must mean that they’re breaking up. Xander tells her that there’s a lot more to their relationship than sex (or at least there should be). She asks why he won’t “take advantage” of her. Is there something wrong with his body? Does he need Viagra? Xander tells her that if she wants sex, they’ll have it right then and there. He realizes just then that a bunch of kids and their parents are outside the truck and heard everything said.

Buffy and Riley share the news about the vampire/demon partnership with Giles, Willow, and Tara. Giles finds it very strange. Riley thinks they’re all teaming up to work with Adam. Tara quips that he’s “bridging the gap between the races.” Willow compares him to Martin Luther King, Jr., then realizes that’s not appropriate.

Giles advises Buffy and Riley to keep patrolling in the same area for a few nights in case there’s more weirdness. Riley says he’ll tell the commandos, and a reserve unit will patrol during the party. Giles doesn’t appreciate the timing of the party, but Riley wants his guys to have the chance to relax. He invites Giles, who says he has other plans at the local coffee shop (the Espresso Pump). He won’t elaborate, just saying it’s “a meeting of grown-ups.” Riley and Buffy have some time before she has to go to class, so they run off to have sex.

That night, Forrest and Graham notice that the temperature in the commandos’ frat house has dropped. They also notice that Buffy and Riley are going at it again. (Don’t worry, they’re using protection.) A commando named Mason has been tending a fire in the fireplace, but it’s not helping heat the building. Graham jokes that they have two “heat generators” upstairs. As they continue…uh…generating heat, the fire flares out of the fireplace and toward Mason.

Anya is on her way to the Bronze when Spike jumps out and spooks her. He’s disappointed to see that it’s her, then cheers up when he realizes that he scared her. He demands money, which she thinks is ridiculous, because she’s not paying him for making her yell. He clarifies that he’s robbing her. She finds that even more ridiculous, since he can’t hurt her.

He tries to scare her again, but she notes that he’s not in vamp face anymore, so there’s nothing intimidating about him. Spike asks for a second chance, since this is a good way for him to make some quick cash from frightened humans. Anya comments that it’s easy to see why he doesn’t have any friends. He doesn’t think she has any, either, and he hits a nerve when he asks if Xander had better things to do tonight.

He did, actually, since he’s at the commandos’ party. Buffy and Riley are across the room from each other and can’t stop making eyes at each other. Forrest and Graham exposit that Mason wasn’t hurt and even asked to go on patrol tonight. Xander tells Buffy, Willow, and Tara about what happened in the ice cream truck and how upset Anya is. Willow notices that Buffy’s mind is on something (someone) else, and she decides it’s a good time to confess that she spilled something on a shirt she borrowed without asking.

At the Bronze, Anya laments to Spike that she’s lost her powers and can’t use them to hurt Xander. Spike can sympathize. He wishes he’d appreciated his ability to commit violence more when he had it. He can also relate to how complicated Anya thinks her life has become now that she’s in love. She’s seen a thousand relationships and knows they all end badly. Spike suggests that they team up to take out Xander and Drusilla. Anya declines, but she encourages Spike to go after Drusilla alone.

Some frat guy at the commandos’ party is trying to impress a woman (who’s very much not impressed) when he leans his hand against a wall. His reaction is…honestly, the only word I can think of is “orgasmic,” a word I have never used before and plan to never use again. Xander flirts with a woman named Julie who finds him funny and appealing. Buffy makes a dumb excuse for Riley to leave the party with her, and they head up to his room. Forrest and Graham aren’t fooled.

The frat guy by the wall tells another guy to put his hand on it. What a fun party this is! Willow and Tara talk about horseback riding, and things seem to be going well between them, but when Willow puts her hand on Tara’s knee, Tara jumps away and tells Willow she’s disgusting. When the moment passes, she’s not sure what happened.

Spike and Anya arrive, and he quickly realizes that all the guys at the party are familiar. She didn’t tell him that they were going to an Initiative party. He’s upset that she brought him there. Coincidentally, Xander is also upset that she brought him there, just for different reasons. He tells Anya that just because they had a fight doesn’t mean she needs to “rebound with the evil undead.” Spike’s amused by how possessive Xander’s become. Xander loudly greets him as hostile 17, but none of the commandos hear him.

Anya tells Xander that she and Spike didn’t have sex. Basically all she does now is not have sex. Xander says that they had one fight and it’s not the end of the world. It’s normal for a relationship. She thinks it’s normal for the end of a relationship. Vengeance usually follows next. They don’t have anything in common other than sex, so she gets to say when they’re done. Xander thinks he puts up with too much from her to not get to end things himself. Anya decides she’s staying and will show him how unbothered she is by him having fun.

Xander comes across a group of partygoers, including Julie, playing spin the bottle. He joins the game as a commando comments that Spike looks familiar. Spike says he gets that a lot. Xander spins the bottle and it lands on Julie. She’s looking forward to a kiss, but he chickens out and just pecks her on the cheek. She responds by grabbing him and kissing him passionately. When he puts a stop to it, she gets embarrassed and runs off.

He goes looking for her and sees the people at the wall, which has become a popular hang-out spot. He hears Julie crying in a locked room, cutting off her hair and repeating over and over, “I’m bad.” While looking for Tara, Willow ends up in the bathroom. She hears the same noises Riley heard there and finds a boy thrashing around in the bathtub, unable to surface. When she grabs at him, he disappears, then reappears behind her. Buffy and Riley hear her scream, but they’re not concerned enough to go check on her.

Xander returns to the spin the bottlers to try to find someone who can tend to Julie. They’re all too caught up in the game to listen. Willow tells him about the boy in the tub, guessing that he’s a ghost. Xander asks if every frat on campus is haunted, and why people keep coming to parties if that’s the case. It can’t be because of the snacks.

Tara joins them and says something’s off about the house. Just then, the bottle the spinners are using spins around really fast and explodes. Willow, Tara, and Xander rush off to find Buffy, but she and Riley don’t respond to them calling their names and pounding on the door. Vines suddenly shoot out from under the door. Buffy and Riley are in their own little world, oblivious to anything happening around them.

As the vines keep growing, Tara realizes that something’s going on downstairs at the party. The building starts shaking and everyone starts running for the door. Spike’s amused, since at least things are getting interesting, but straps shoot out of the chair he’s sitting in and restrain him. Forrest finds Graham standing in a hallway, practically frozen while people scream and run around him. He says something scripture-y. Forrest drags him to the elevator that will take them to the Initiative.

The shaking stops as everyone exits the house. Well, almost everyone – there’s a screaming woman running toward Anya. The woman passes right through her and disappears. The shaking starts again as Anya catches up to the other Scoobies. Spike manages to free himself from his restraints and run out with them. Julie comes out of the bathroom, almost completely bald.

The Initiative is scrambling to keep things under control. A scientist sends Forrest and Graham (who’s recovered from whatever was going on with him) to handle things. Everyone’s out of the frat house now, but Willow and Xander want to go back in for Buffy and Riley. Anya thinks they can take care of themselves. Xander points out that “there’s ghosts and shaking and people are going all Felicity with their hair.” Ha! They’re “fresh out of superpeople,” so they need Riley and the Slayer. Who’s in?

Surprisingly, Spike is. “I know I’m not the first choice for heroics,” he says. “And Buffy’s tried to kill me more than once. And I don’t fancy a single one of you at all. But…” He pauses. “Actually, all that sounds pretty convincing.” He heads off. Hee hee hee. Anya wants to leave, too, but Xander refuses to go without Buffy. (And Riley, too, I guess.) He starts to go back inside but something blows him back out. He and Willow decide it’s time to get Giles.

Tara remembers that he’s at the Espresso Pump, so the Scoobies go over there. They’re shocked to see him playing guitar and singing “Behind Blue Eyes.” Xander would like to go back to the frat house, since that was less scary. Giles notices that the Scoobies are there but keeps performing. Willow remembers why she used to have a crush on him. Anya and Tara are impressed, and Willow even says that Giles is kind of sexy. Xander asks her not to add any more fuel to the total mental breakdown he’s trying to fight off.

Buffy and Riley are supposedly the only people back at the frat house, but ghostly giggling and screams can be heard. The vines are taking over the door. Buffy’s worried that Riley is too far away and tells him to keep touching her. The Scoobies go to a library to figure out why everything at the party got so sexual. Willow discovers that before the frat house was a frat house, it was a home for troubled kids. If any of them died there, they could be haunting it.

Genevieve Holt, the woman who ran the home, is still alive, so Giles, Xander, and Anya go see her. She’s very religious and is proud of all she did to bring up the kids in a Christian way. Giles asks if she ever noticed disturbances in the house. Mrs. Holt says that sounds crazy. No one died in her care, since she was so good to them. She treated them like she would have treated her own children, praising them when they were good and punishing them when they were “dirty.” And she doesn’t mean literal dirt.

She knew when they were doing things that would have kept them from getting into Heaven. If the girls were being vain, she would “remove the temptation to admire themselves.” Xander connects that to Julie cutting off her hair. Mrs. Holt baptized the “most unclean” in the bathtub, holding them under so they could be reborn.

Giles blasts her for the abuse and trauma she inflicted on the children. He tells her that not only did she ruin their lives, but her actions led to the presence taking over the frat house. Mrs. Holt doesn’t want to listen since she can smell sin on all three of her visitors. “Let me tell you something, lady – she who smelt it dealt it,” Xander says. To Giles, he explains, “It’s like what you said but faster.”

On the way out, Anya wonders where the ghosts came from, since none of the kids died. Giles doesn’t think they’re ghosts after all. They’re dealing with poltergeists, apparitions borne out of the kids’ intense emotions and sexual energy. Xander determines that Buffy and Riley set something free. Giles says the poltergeists are now feeding off their energy. Xander asks what happens when their “battery” fueling the poltergeists is drained. “They die,” Giles replies.

Buffy and Riley are practically unstoppable sex machines now, which means the battery is just getting more and more drained. The Scoobies gather in Buffy and Willow’s dorm room, where Willow, Tara, and Giles will do a spell to bind the spirits so Xander and Anya can get Buffy and Riley out of the house. They have to go in the room where they’re having sex?? Xander and Anya grab weapons, even though Anya doesn’t think they’ll do much good.

They go back to the frat house, where Xander asks Anya how she feels. She says she’s sad, scared, and a little hungry. He meant what does she feel from the house. Oh. Still haunted. Tara, Willow, and Giles start their spell, which makes the kids’ spirits appear in the room. The door to the frat house opens on its own, and Xander can tell that it’s not haunted anymore. However, the vines have grown so much that he and Anya will have to hack their way through them to get upstairs. Turns out Xander’s decision to bring a big blade was a good one.

Tara, Giles, and Willow ask the kids’ spirits to release Buffy and Riley, leave their past behind, and, in Willow’s words, “get over it.” Xander and Anya reach Riley’s room, but the spirits must sense that they’re there, because a big wind kicks up both in the hallway and in Buffy and Willow’s dorm room. The spirits disappear from there, and Willow realizes they went back to the frat house.

The spirits lock Xander up in the bathroom and throw Anya off the second-floor balcony. Xander ends up being held underwater in the bathtub. It’s up to Anya to get to Buffy and Riley. She goes back upstairs, yelling, “Shut up, repressed crybabies!” She saves Xander from drowning and the two of them go back to what’s become a jungle of vines. The vines lash at them but they’re able to get to Riley’s door and shove it open. The energy fueling everything is released, and Buffy and Riley immediately snap out of it. “Don’t you knock?” Buffy exclaims, annoyed. He and Anya just look at each other and leave.

The next day, the Scoobies debrief, and Buffy and Riley are creeped out about what happened. Not about the marathon sex and weird haunting – about Giles singing. On the plus side, Xander and Anya have made up. Buffy and Riley feel bad about their part in what happened, but Willow notes that they were under the influence of powerful magic. Buffy says they were like zombies. She had no control over herself. Willow thinks it must have been horrible. Buffy and Riley lie unconvincingly that it was.

Thoughts: Mrs. Holt is played by the late Kathryn Joosten.

I would have loved to be in the writers’ room when this episode was pitched. “Everyone’s haunted by traumatized kids and Buffy and Riley keep doing what?”

No one should be buying that the commandos are just some normal frat. Their house is waaaaaay too clean.

Spike and Anya need more scenes together.

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