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S01.E06: The Pack

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From Wikipedia:

At the zoo, Xander and four other students sneak into the off-limits hyena habitat and become infected by an evil demon spirit. Xander and his pack grow more and more feral until Buffy, Giles, and Willow reverse the spell.

 

Oh Xander... So apparently I really don't like much from the first half of season 1 because here's another episode I'm not terribly thrilled to revisit. It's fine and all, but I don't love it even a little. RIP Flutie.

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I still find it weird that we get no info on what happened to the bullies after they were de-hyena'd, and now have to live with the memory of eating Flutie. And yes, I know the EU has a bit of that, but why couldn't it have been in the episode itself?

 

Besides the death of a recurring character in what is otherwise a pure MOTW story, showing how right from the start Joss was willing to bend TV rules (it's a bit hard to remember how different most TV was back then), this is pretty forgettable stuff. Though at least it's cool to now recognize Webster from Band of Brothers.

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I actually like The Pack a lot and find it one of the most effective, resonant S1 episodes. I'll always fondly remember this episode as the one that quadrupled my respect for Nicholas Brendan's acting skills. I went from thinking NB was a moderately competent actor to being blown away by how chillingly un-Xander-esque he could be. And, of course, the final scene has me "awww"-ing all over the place (why, yes, I'm just a bit of a sap when it comes to the Scoobies' friendships!) 

Edited by mstaken
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I actually like The Pack a lot and find it one of the most effective, resonant S1 episodes. I'll always fondly remember this episode as the one that quadrupled my respect for Nicholas Brendan's acting skills. I went from thinking NB was a moderately competent actor to being blown away by how chillingly un-Xander-esque he could be. And, of course, the final scene has me "awww"-ing all over the place (why, yes, I'm just a bit of a sap when it comes to the Scoobies' friendships!) 

I wish I knew for sure, but I'm fairly certain this was the first BtVS episode I ever watched, in reruns the summer after the first season aired. If it wasn't the first, then it was the first I actually paid attention to. So I have a little affection for it because of that, but even then I didn't particularly like it. But it caught my attention, and I saw the potential there. I think the Scooby scene at the end was part of it--their relationships with each other were the strongest part of this season for me. 

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I have mixed feelings about this ep. On one hand, we have really great Nicholas moment(s) to shine (the only waaaaaaay creepier ep. with him is the one when he rapes one of the lead characters in that show... the one with doctors... I don't know the name)... On the other, there's the fact that he tried to rape Buffy; it seemed that fandom didn't got upset at all and all was forgiven and forgotten as soon as the end credits rolled, but

that became huge when Spike tried the same in 6th season

. I hate double standards, so it may be the reason why I don't like this episode particularly much.

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I don't agree that there's a double standard here. It's a big difference between doing something under the influence of mystical whammy and doing the same thing knowing what you are doing. Now, since Xander does remember what he did while he was hyena-cized, the show could have gone into how this affected him personally, as well as in his dealings with Buffy and Willow. I think, if this had occurred several seasons later, they would have done so.

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I liked the X-Files reference Buffy makes in this ep. I agree somewhat about the double standard. Xander was under the influence here, but so was 

Spike. He was a demon. There was Darkness in hyena-Xander, and Darkness in Spike. Besides, Spike didn't do what he did in a state of calm, cool calculation. A crime of passion is still a crime, but it wasn't premeditated.

Oddly enough, hyena gender relations don't really work this way. The females are bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than the males. 

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I just watched this again for the first time in years. I always liked it, and still do. I like the music and the scenes when the pack walk into the Bronze and later when they're prowling around the school. It just set the mood well, and reminded me of the real life/death feeling of high school with all the cliques.

 

The thing with Flutie really is disturbing, the tension builds well, I think because I know what is coming. I was just waiting for it, I couldn't quite remember how the scene unfolded and so by the time they scratched him and went for it I was tense. And then cutting to the hyenas on the tv screen tearing food apart was great. Not subtle at all though!

 

I echo everyone's comments about NB's acting, but it also was kind of sad seeing him on the screen. I hope he gets some help for the problems he has had. 

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Never thought Xander was looking to rape Buffy - thought she was prey.

I haven't seen the episode in a while but the tone of that scene defiantly had a rape feel to it.

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I just re-watched this one for the first time in a long time and I forgot how profoundly creepy I find it. The rest of season one is goofy or funny or poignant but this one is different. I'll give credit to N.B. for being a completely non-Xander Xander...and possibly the semi-canibalism. Poor Flutie.

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It was very creepy. In fact between The Pack and Teacher's Pet (with the cricket sandwich) I'm surprised I kept on watching. 

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On 5/26/2014 at 3:37 PM, Lisin said:

From Wikipedia:

 

Oh Xander... So apparently I really don't like much from the first half of season 1 because here's another episode I'm not terribly thrilled to revisit. It's fine and all, but I don't love it even a little. RIP Flutie.

Yeah, the really remarkable thing about it was goodbye Flutie and that was a shock. In hindsight we should have been expecting it, just before he has his first truly friendly moment with Buffy and this will become a recurring trope.

 

On 5/26/2014 at 4:16 PM, Eegah said:

I still find it weird that we get no info on what happened to the bullies after they were de-hyena'd, and now have to live with the memory of eating Flutie. And yes, I know the EU has a bit of that, but why couldn't it have been in the episode itself?

 

Besides the death of a recurring character in what is otherwise a pure MOTW story, showing how right from the start Joss was willing to bend TV rules (it's a bit hard to remember how different most TV was back then), this is pretty forgettable stuff. Though at least it's cool to now recognize Webster from Band of Brothers.

 

And Jennifer Sky who we also see in Xena so you can link the shows in 1 if you're playing 6 degrees of Bufferation. We know Sunnydale hospital has a big mental health wing (even before Glory) so probably a lot ended up there.

 

On 5/26/2014 at 5:03 PM, mstaken said:

I actually like The Pack a lot and find it one of the most effective, resonant S1 episodes. I'll always fondly remember this episode as the one that quadrupled my respect for Nicholas Brendan's acting skills. I went from thinking NB was a moderately competent actor to being blown away by how chillingly un-Xander-esque he could be. And, of course, the final scene has me "awww"-ing all over the place (why, yes, I'm just a bit of a sap when it comes to the Scoobies' friendships!) 

 

Yeah, always fun to see our actors outside of their comfort zone

On 5/27/2014 at 4:16 PM, decembar13 said:

I have mixed feelings about this ep. On one hand, we have really great Nicholas moment(s) to shine (the only waaaaaaay creepier ep. with him is the one when he rapes one of the lead characters in that show... the one with doctors... I don't know the name)... On the other, there's the fact that he tried to rape Buffy; it seemed that fandom didn't got upset at all and all was forgiven and forgotten as soon as the end credits rolled, but

  Reveal hidden contents

that became huge when Spike tried the same in 6th season

. I hate double standards, so it may be the reason why I don't like this episode particularly much.

You mean Private Practice, a series Marti Noxon produced and yes, scary to see someone we know as the nicest guy alive playing the nastiest.

 

On 5/27/2014 at 9:16 PM, Dianthus said:

I liked the X-Files reference Buffy makes in this ep. I agree somewhat about the double standard. Xander was under the influence here, but so was 

  Hide contents

Spike. He was a demon. There was Darkness in hyena-Xander, and Darkness in Spike. Besides, Spike didn't do what he did in a state of calm, cool calculation. A crime of passion is still a crime, but it wasn't premeditated.

Oddly enough, hyena gender relations don't really work this way. The females are bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than the males. 

Never thought of that but then Xander never killed anyone whilst possessed, if he had that would be different.

Spoiler

Remember Buffy was involved with unsouled Spike and it was his betrayal.

 

On 1/31/2016 at 3:55 PM, romantic idiot said:

Never thought Xander was looking to rape Buffy - thought she was prey. 

No, it was attempted rape, he saw her as sexual prey, for a feminist icon Buffy seems to get sexually assaulted an awful lot.

 

On 5/27/2014 at 9:16 PM, Dianthus said:

I liked the X-Files reference Buffy makes in this ep. I agree somewhat about the double standard. Xander was under the influence here, but so was 

  Hide contents

Spike. He was a demon. There was Darkness in hyena-Xander, and Darkness in Spike. Besides, Spike didn't do what he did in a state of calm, cool calculation. A crime of passion is still a crime, but it wasn't premeditated.

Oddly enough, hyena gender relations don't really work this way. The females are bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than the males. 

True, they're matriarchal. We do have a couple of other Scully scenes in the series, notably in Earshot and I Fall To Pieces.  

 

  THE PACK

The Good; Love Buffy and Giles training, you get a genuine sense of menace when Willow is taken hostage for the first time. You' don't see the twist of the zookeeper, he seems so rational although I'm baffled as to what exact power he hoped to gain from the hyena spirits (then again I don't really understand why the Mayor wished to be this big snake?). Great acting from Nic Brendon showing the first of his range (in truth neither Nic nor David are that good actors in season 1 but they grow better)

The Bad; The story is pretty stupid, reminds me of an obscure old series called 'Big Wolf on Campus'

Best Line; Giles; "Xander is becoming a teenage boy, you'll have to kill him of course"

Questions and observations; The first time someone is imprisoned in the library book cage but by no means the last. Xander trying to force himself on Buffy is unusually disturbing, for a feminist symbol she seems to get sexually assaulted a lot (but maybe that's the point?). It's interesting to compare this with Nic Brendon's unsettlingly convincing performance as a rapist on Private Practice, nicest guy alive to nastiest.

Spoiler

Another Buffy cliché is a Scooby going evil (by the end of season 7 I think the only character never to have gone bad was Tara?).

Jennifer Sky plays one of the pack and she was very good as Amarice in Xena (so you can link Buffy to Xena in one if you're ever playing 'Six degrees of Bufferation'). No Cordy (there really isn't room for her) and no Angel. At this point of course he's not a fighter, he really is just cryptic warning guy but of course that really kicks in during the next ep. Byebye Flutie which shocked me, Buffy showing its' more serious side by starting its' long tradition of ruthlessly killing off regular/recurring characters. 6/10

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On 6/13/2018 at 1:39 PM, romantic idiot said:

What makes you think [Hyena!Xander attempted to rape Buffy]?

Buffy herself says "he tried his hand at Felony Sexual Assault", so it appears she's clear on the issue. 

Spoiler

Would that she remained so, blah, blah, yada-yada, Season 6.  "Ask me again why I could never love you!"  You know, Buffy, if you'd just stake his damn ass, you wouldn't have to worry about his idiot questions. Just saying [/OT-ish]

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On 6/14/2018 at 1:46 AM, Joe Hellandback said:

Just watch the scene, tell me what you think. 

I thought e wanted to eat her. She was prey> I understand why she didn't figure that out.

I also thought he really looked hot in that moment.

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8 hours ago, Halting Hex said:

Buffy herself says "he tried his hand at Felony Sexual Assault", so it appears she's clear on the issue. 

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Would that she remained so, blah, blah, yada-yada, Season 6.  "Ask me again why I could never love you!"  You know, Buffy, if you'd just stake his damn ass, you wouldn't have to worry about his idiot questions. Just saying [/OT-ish]

Spoiler

But she can't, she loves him just as she loved Xander. 

Just now, romantic idiot said:

I thought e wanted to eat her. She was prey> I understand why she didn't figure that out.

I also thought he really looked hot in that moment.

1. Maybe 'eat her' in a different way.

2. Oh frailty thy name is straight girl!

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I wish the writers made Xander go down that evil route. There's something so sexy and appealing about Nicholas Brendon acting evil. *swoon*

Edited by The Raw Category

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20 hours ago, The Raw Category said:

I wish the writers made Xander go down that evil route. There's something so sexy and appealing about Nicholas Brendon acting evil. *swoon*

 

Spoiler

 

What did you think of Vamp Xander?


 

Actually if you ever watched Private Practice seeing Nic as the rapist is a revelation, so disconcerting seeing a guy you're used to playing the nicest guy in the world playing the nastiest. MT on Criminal Minds is pretty shocking too. 

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10 hours ago, Joe Hellandback said:
Spoiler

What did you think of Vamp Xander?

Actually if you ever watched Private Practice seeing Nic as the rapist is a revelation, so disconcerting seeing a guy you're used to playing the nicest guy in the world playing the nastiest. MT on Criminal Minds is pretty shocking too. 

 
Spoiler

Can you remind me in what episode did Xander become a vampire? I forgot. (Come to think of it, Buffy was a vampire once too. That was terrifying.)

I wish he had a more serious role on CM. I feel like NB has a lot of acting range that was completely wasted. 
 

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Please review the spoiler policy pinned at the top of the forum. In episode topics, it's the eternal present; events from the future need to wear spoiler tags. 

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2 hours ago, Pallas said:

Please review the spoiler policy pinned at the top of the forum. In episode topics, it's the eternal present; events from the future need to wear spoiler tags. 

Apologies, forgot this was a 1st season ep. 

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Man, I felt sorry for Principal Flutie and Herbert the Mascot...
But... all's well that ends well. And then just... aww
 

Quote

Willow: You saved my life.

Xander: Hey! Nobody messes with my Willow. (gives her a hug)

What can be cuter than that? The good old times when nothing and no one stood between the three original Scoobs.

No Oz or Anya. And to think, how drastically things would change in a year

Xander Willow hug.jpg

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That's followed by one of my favorite Xander-Giles' moments.

Quote

Xander: "Cool! Oh, hey, goin' vegetarian! Huh?" He gives them two thumbs-up. Willow turns and smiles at him. So does Buffy. Xander starts to head the other way when he is met by Giles.

Giles: "I've been reading up on my, uh, animal possession, and I cannot find anything anywhere about memory loss afterwards."

.Xander: "Did you tell them that?"

Giles: (leans to Xander's ear) "Your secret dies with me."

Xander: "Shoot me, stuff me, mount me."

Giles pats him on the shoulder as he shakes his head and starts walking along the balcony. He leans on the railing and watches Xander go. 

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Of course, some people see this as a horrible, horrible moment of the Patriarchy covering up its crimes and robbing Buffy of the chance to confront her near-"rapist".  I don't agree with that, but I just thought I'd mention that it's out there…

70868_original.jpg

The page where I got this pic points out that Giles wasn't close enough to hear the B/W/X conversation that preceded the G/X "your secret dies with me."  So how did he know that Xander was claiming amnesia?  Did Giles just catch Xander in a lie?  Did he already tell Buffy and Willow and they told Giles?  For that matter, Giles wasn't there when Buffy dragged in the unconscious Hyena!Xander and so he missed the "felony sexual assault" conversation.  How much does Giles know?  Would he cover for Xander if he knew everything?

I know S1 costumer Susanna Puisto was working on a very limited budget, but was she even trying?

69328_original.jpg

Or is this the '90s version of trolling?  BTW, Buffy is wearing a skirt under that jacket…we just can't see it here. Rawr.

69547_original.jpg

RIP, Herbert and Flutie.  As Flutie says in an early draft of the script, Herbert is what you get when you only raise $18.23 in your Mascot Drive.  (Geez, Bob, don't be so cheap.  Drop a double-sawbuck in the till, why don't you?)

69989_original.jpg

I did not remember that Xander had Buffy pinned up against the snack machine during the whole "I like it when you're scared" bit.  Are we sure it's actually Slayer Fear that's turning him on…and not just some chocolately goodness?

One of the great things about this episode is how compact it is.  No Angel. No Cordy. Not much Giles.  Just "Buffy and Willow have to deal with Xander acting weird."

tumblr_mn4mq9Tvqn1sqp3mco1_1280.jpgtumblr_mn4mq9Tvqn1sqp3mco2_1280.jpg

Yes, you get sad moments.

the_pack2498.jpg

But it all works out in the end.  Except possibly for Buffy's outfit.

(And the girls walk off to class holding hands, which probably didn't help with Those Pesky Lesbian Rumors that Scott Hope would later find so useful.  But I can't find a screencap of that.  Although I suppose I could screenshot it.  Eh, maybe later.)

One of my S1 faves, alleged patriarchial bias or not.

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16 hours ago, Halting Hex said:

points out that Giles wasn't close enough to hear the B/W/X conversation that preceded the G/X "your secret dies with me."  So how did he know that Xander was claiming amnesia?

Actually, since the conversation had been going on for a while (we didn't actually hear anyone tell Xander about them eating the pig, for example), one can assume that earlier, when Xander woke up cured, that he said "what's going on? I don't remember anything" and people told him what had gone on. After the B/W/X conversation and B&W have left, Giles says "I've checked my research and find no reference to amnesia", so obviously, unless he had memorized all the "animal transference" research from when they were looking for a cure, he rechecked the research after Xander said he didn't remember anything.

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RIP, Herbert and Flutie.  As Flutie says in an early draft of the script, Herbert is what you get when you only raise $18.23 in your Mascot Drive.  (Geez, Bob, don't be so cheap.  Drop a double-sawbuck in the till, why don't you?)

That was a shame, I liked Flutie and when he and Buffy have their first truly friendly moment together they go and kill him directly afterwards!

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17 minutes ago, Joe Hellandback said:

I liked Flutie and when he and Buffy have their first truly friendly moment together they go and kill him directly afterwards!

Same thing that happened to Dr. Gregory. Moral: don't be nice to Buffy, she's hazardous to your health!

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On ‎27‎/‎08‎/‎2018 at 7:00 PM, Halting Hex said:

Same thing that happened to Dr. Gregory. Moral: don't be nice to Buffy, she's hazardous to your health!

And will also happen to 

Spoiler

Counsellor Pratt, Jonathon and the Watcher's Council etc etc

It's a common trope

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So I'm following a couple of new video-reactors, and one of them points out what a shit year Xander is having, so far.  I mean, it's easy to miss, since he's serving as comic relief/frustrated suitor and it is Buffy's show, after all (check out the title), but in the span of just six episodes, Xander has…

…had his best bud get turned into a vampire and been essentially responsible for killing him…

…nearly lost his virginity to a giant fucking preying mantis, who had already drugged him and kidnapped him and who would have eaten his head straight off…

…and been possessed by a slavering animal, nearly killed and ate his other best friend, and now has to live with those memories, including the part where he tried to rape Buffy, too.  Not to mention the knowledge that if he hadn't been off "courting" Buffy just then, he would have been taking part in the all-you-can-eat buffet going on in the principal's office

As I wrote, rough year. 

Spoiler

It gets better, though.  Of such fires are heroes forged, and all that…

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True, but that was just "ordinary mortal danger".  Certainly not fun, but not as personal as losing one best friend, nearly killing the other, and having your sexual identity intruded upon. But JMO.

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On ‎18‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 6:47 AM, Halting Hex said:

So I'm following a couple of new video-reactors, and one of them points out what a shit year Xander is having, so far.  I mean, it's easy to miss, since he's serving as comic relief/frustrated suitor and it is Buffy's show, after all (check out the title), but in the span of just six episodes, Xander has…

…had his best bud get turned into a vampire and been essentially responsible for killing him…

…nearly lost his virginity to a giant fucking preying mantis, who had already drugged him and kidnapped him and who would have eaten his head straight off…

…and been possessed by a slavering animal, nearly killed and ate his other best friend, and now has to live with those memories, including the part where he tried to rape Buffy, too.  Not to mention the knowledge that if he hadn't been off "courting" Buffy just then, he would have been taking part in the all-you-can-eat buffet going on in the principal's office

As I wrote, rough year. 

  Hide contents

It gets better, though.  Of such fires are heroes forged, and all that…

Which ones are you following?

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After Show Reacts (Shan), Geeked Out Nation (Steven something), Liam Duke, and I've just started with TheMinarus.  It's an addiction, damnit.  Sigh.

(I believe it was Liam who noted the pile-up of Xander-troubles at this point.  He's rather observant.)

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On ‎21‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 8:35 PM, Halting Hex said:

After Show Reacts (Shan), Geeked Out Nation (Steven something), Liam Duke, and I've just started with TheMinarus.  It's an addiction, damnit.  Sigh.

(I believe it was Liam who noted the pile-up of Xander-troubles at this point.  He's rather observant.)

I watch Minarus and After Show reacts, must check the others out. 

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If possession makes Xander "almost as strong" as Buffy (according to Giles), why does he have to wait for the entire Pack to break free from that cage? Can't he break the cage all by himself? And of course, Giles cannot bring this vital information regarding the "balance of power" before going to the zoo. Instead he and Buffy put Willow in mortal danger by leaving her alone with Hyena!Xander (even if his mindless new friends are nowhere in sight). Good job, Giles. It's particularly distressing you start to suck so early...

Edited by lembergwatcher

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56 minutes ago, lembergwatcher said:

Can't he break the cage all by himself?

Spoiler

Werewolf Oz couldn't.

That cage must be made of titanium!

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5 hours ago, illdoc said:
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Spoiler

Werewolf Oz couldn't.

 

Spoiler

But Rage!Pete could.  That must have been some glow-juice.  I guess Warren's not the only one who missed out on a commercial opportunity.

Edited by Halting Hex

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Okay, seriously, I know they have to cast non-teen actors as teens (due to the limitations on how long underage actors can work in a day), but Jeff Maynard (Lance) is really pushing it.  He's got the beginnings of male-pattern baldness with those points receding from the corners of his hairline, FFS.  Eion Bailey (Kyle) and Brian Gross (Tor) aren't showing quite that much wear at the edges.

Maynard is so old we don't know how old he is;  his bio doesn't list a birthday.

Spoiler

He's so old he isn't in the books, to paraphrase Tara's ludicrous supposition about Glory.

On the plus side, at least Lance makes a good showing in the dodgeball game, outlasting everyone but the Pack and Buffy.  You know, Brigham Young University is known for doing well in college athletics, since as a LDS Church-affiliated school, most of their athletes have spent two years abroad on church missions, and the returning 23 and 24-year-olds have a physical advantage on their younger opponents.  Perhaps Lance spent, oh, eight or ten years in Argentina or wherever before coming back to Hellmouth High?

Quote

Kyle and the Pack enter the Bronze and he and Xander lock eyes.

RILEY LYNN:  Are they in love?

Oh, silly Riley!  Love doesn't have a thing to do with it.  It's just sex.

(If you think there aren't Xander/Kyle fics out there, you really haven't looked.)

Meanwhile, Georgia Corsby and her friend Aaron focus on a different part of that scene:

Quote

Xander sniffs Buffy's hair.

XANDER:  You took a bath.

BUFFY (taken aback):  I did.  I'm actually known for it.

Inserted graphic, in Star Wars "A Long, Long Time Ago" font:  BUFFY THE BATH-TAKER

Not the worst idea for a series I've ever heard. 

Spoiler

Although the Fuffy scenes in S4 might trouble the network.  But imagine S5 climaxing with Buffy and Glory having a bathe-off.  Are Xander's skills with a loofah as good as Murk's?  Even blindfolded?

As the Pack move in on Flutie:

Quote

AARON:  Poor principal.  I liked him.  (Beat)  He wasn't very good, though.

I like that Aaron has standards.  But it might be time to cut Bob a break.  He's having a rough day, it's safe to say.

Edited by Halting Hex

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Aah, now that's a possibility I hadn't considered.

Speaking of food, I forgot mention that I noticed Willow suggesting to Xander that they go to "the ice cream place".  (Presumably the one she was thinking Thomas was taking her to in the pilot.)  Sheesh, between always wanting to go for ice cream and helping Amy binge on all those brownies, Willow must have a heck of a metabolism.  (Or, possibly, a tapeworm.) Otherwise Xander might be saying she could be the Goodrich blimp!

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So various reactors have been caught off-guard by Dr. Weirick (the zookeeper) being the villain, and they have the penny drop at pretty much the same time it does for Giles.  You can't blame the episode for withholding information here; the symbol was on display right at the beginning.  (Love that overhead reveal shot director Bruce Seth Green puts in.)

And who else could have put the symbol there but Weirick?  We see the building is sealed off, and we meet the zookeeper when he's trying to keep Buffy and Willow out.  Dr. Weirick is really the only one with the opportunity.

What keeps people from putting the pieces together sooner is that The Pack makes such a lovely red herring.  Tough to wonder who put the symbol on the floor when you're worried about Kyle and crew possibly eating babies and so forth.  Nice misdirection.

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