Monsters galore invade the Buffyverse. It's that time of month
and the friends are taking turns guarding Oz in his werewolf phase.
But Xander falls asleep and when there is a brutal murder that night,
Oz is a suspect. Only he's not the only monster out there. Buffy
discovers Angel is back and crazed after his stay in the demon
dimension. And to top it off, one of Scott's friends is a Jekyll/Hyde.
All of which leads to a battle of the monsters.
Near the beginning of this episode, Faith tells Buffy that all men are beasts. She's wrong. But it is correct to say all men have the beast within them. But they have choices. And the range of those choices is displayed in this episode. Oz isn't strong enough to control his animal urges. So he turns himself over to others to control. Angel, at least when he's in his normal state, can control himself. He may need to drink blood, but that doesn't mean he has to kill people. But Pete not only has the beast within, but he turns that beast loose. He knowingly hands his life over to the beast.
It's no accident that both Oz and Angel battle Pete in his monster form. Oz fights to save his life and has limited success. But Angel fights to save Buffy, and he wins. Pete abuses women, he beats Debbie, and Angel has spent most of his time saving women, especially Buffy. There's a pretty clear moral here. In my review of Faith, Hope and Trick, I said that Buffy occupied a territory between the extremely shy Kendra and the extremely outgoing Faith. She's in the middle again this week, between passive Debbie (who lets Pete beat her and makes excuses for him) and man bashing Faith (who says all men are beasts). Once again, Buffy is the well adjusted one, seeing people for what they are and treating them accordingly.
I liked the framing scenes at the beginning and end with quotes from Call of the Wild. The opening quote talks about the tame beast feeling the wild urges within him. The closing quote talks about the integration of the wild urges with civilization, the ability to take the best of both worlds. Clearly, Angel is seen as the physical manifestation of this. While Oz merely controls his violence, Angel can use his vampiric powers for good. But Buffy, too, has to learn this control. She has to integrate the violence that makes her a successful slayer with the thoughtfulness and moderation that make society possible. in this episode, at least, she makes a good start.
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