Buffy the Vampire Slayer - New Moon Rising

Summary

On their way to meeting the gang, Tara tells Willow she's thinking of getting a cat and wants to make sure Willow isn't allergic. At the meeting, Buffy says she hasn't encountered anything on patrol, but Riley says the Initiative has been busier than usual. Giles thinks Adam is up to something. As the gang get up to leave, Anya remarks on how boring the meeting was. Giles gets angry with her but before he can finish what he wants to say, Oz walks in. He only stays for a few minutes, saying he's going to crash at Devon's and will look Willow up that evening so they can talk. He leaves and Anya notes everyone is uncomfortable now. Tara leaves saying Willow should be with her friends. Willow tries to get her to stay.

On patrol, Buffy is telling Riley about Oz and Willow. They are attacked by a demon which they easily stop. Riley is shocked to learn Oz is a werewolf and thinks it is foolish of Willow to date him. Buffy accuses him of being a bigot. Oz shows up at Willow's and asks her to come outside to see something. The moon is full and he isn't changing, he's found a way to control it. He tells her Xander told him she wasn't seeing another guy; he wants to get together again. On patrol, some of the Initiative are attacked by a hairy, werewolf looking demon.

Willow and Oz stay up all night in her room talking. He explains about his travels (including Romania and Tibet) and the herbs, chants, and meditation which stop him from changing. He suggests they sleep a bit, but a hesitant Willow opts for breakfast instead. She goes to freshen up and Tara knocks on the door, shocked to see Oz there. He invites her in, but she leaves. He tells Willow about this when she returns.

Buffy and Riley wake up together at his place. He starts doing pushups. Buffy comes back and is clearly still mad at him over his remarks from the previous night. She tries to explain that the situation isn't black and white (demons bad humans good) but that there are degrees. She tells him some vampires are good. He asks her to name one. Before she can reply one of the Initiative comes in and tells them about the attack the night before and that Willis is dead. Buffy asks what kind of demon. Riley says does it matter and walks out. Buffy returns to her dorm and finds Willow there who tells her that Oz has learnt to control his change. She also tells her about Tara, which momentarily freaks her. Willow says she doesn't want anyone to get hurt. Buffy says either way someone will be hurt and the important thing is to be honest.

Spike is in his crypt sleeping and Adam comes in. Adam wants Spike to work with him. He says they can help each other. Willow shows up at Tara's. She tells her that nothing happened with Oz but that she's confused about what to do. Tara tells her that no matter what, she will still be her friend. They hug and cry. Later, Tara bumps into Oz who is coming back to school. He smells Willow on her. He realizes they are involved. The shock transforms him and he pursues Tara. She runs into an empty classroom. A group from the Initiative, including Riley, arrive, shoot Oz with a tranquilizer, and take him away. Meanwhile, Adam has explained his plan to Spike, who thinks it sounds like fun. He wants heavy casualties on both the demon and human side. He wants the slayer to lead the humans, but not be too successful. So Spike will have to side with Buffy. Adam promises he will remove the chip from Spike if they succeed.

Tara tells Willow what happened. Willow gets together with the others. Riley is not answering Buffy's pages, but they decide to put together a plan to get Oz back and hope they hear from him. In the lab, Oz is caged and they are still checking to see if he is the demon that attacked their men. Riley just wants to kill him and pulls his gun. Oz changes back. Next we see, Oz is on a table being examined (they've given him Haldol to keep him quiet). Riley objects and they kick him out. They use a stun gun to hurt Oz and he transforms into a wolf. They've demonstrated that the transformation is linked to negative stimulation. Meanwhile, Buffy doesn't understand why Riley hasn't answered her call. She decides to go in with Xander, as they did before in Goodbye, Iowa. Willow insists on coming. Spike shows up, offering to show them the back way in.

In the lab, a naked Oz is in a cell. Riley shows up, frees him, and gives him some clothes. But they are quickly caught. The colonel goes to Riley's cell and tells him there will a court martial. And he intends to stop Buffy and the gang who he refers to as freaks and anarchists. Meanwhile, Spike shows Buffy and the others a hidden entrance into the Initiative. They enter with Adam secretly keeping track of it all. Meanwhile, Giles and Anya have hacked into the power system and shut down the electricity. They break into the colonel's quarters, he thinks they are there for Riley. So they first free Riley and then go for Oz. A group of guards try to stop them, but Buffy threatens to kill the Colonel if they intervene. Oz is freed, but finds himself transforming when he first gets close to Willow. He controls this and they take the elevator up. Riley disables the elevator when they get to the top. The colonel tells him he's a dead man. Riley says he's an anarchist and punches him knocking him out.

Buffy and Riley are camping somewhere, the gang have split up to avoid detection. He says he was wrong about demons all being evil and realizes he was being black and white about things. She says he was just momentarily thrown and isn't a bigot. Then she tells him she has to tell him some things about her past. Willow and Oz are in his truck. He says she's the only thing that brings the wolf out in him. He says it was foolish for him to think she'd be waiting. She says she was waiting. That in a way she'll always be waiting for him. But he's leaving. They hug.

Willow goes to Tara's with a candle (the power is still off). She tells her she's with the person she loves. She says she's sorry for what she put Tara through and wants to make it up to her. Tara blows out the candle.

Analysis

My favourite moment in this episode probably came right in the beginning when Giles began telling Anya off. It's about time. It was nice to see Giles actually get ruffled and nice to see someone other than Xander give Anya a lesson in manners. Too bad Giles never got to finish what he was saying. It was also nice to see that in the socially awkward moment that occurred when Oz first appeared, Xander was the one to deal with it. The bond between Xander, Willow, and Oz is a strange one but a real one. Xander dates an exdemon just as Willow dated a werewolf. Xander and Willow had that kiss (in Lover's Walk) resulting in the Xander/Cordelia breakup and the temporary breakup of Willow/Oz. Willow and Oz got back together, Cordelia and Xander buried the hatchet (most notably in The Prom when Xander buys her that dress), and now we can see that Xander and Oz have reconciled any differences they may have had. It is Xander Oz goes to when he wants to find out if Willow has a new guy. And you have to wonder if Xander really didn't suspect anything about Tara/Willow and was just being circumspect when he told Oz there wasn't another guy.

I've noticed a lot of newsgroup activity about the lesbian storyline and realize that has upset some viewers. I guess Tara suggesting she and Willow share a cat had some people laughing and others turning off their sets. There was the obvious parallel made in this episode with dating a demon and I guess Willow has always been into unconventional relationships. It's interesting that Willow dating a werewolf, Xander an exdemon, and Buffy a vampire bothers people less than Willow and Tara together. There are actually some pretty strong parallels between Willow/Tara and Buffy/Angel. Willow and Buffy both encounter a mysterious person, with some sort of hidden past, who helps them at opportune moments and has secret powers. In both cases, there are social barriers against any kind of romantic relationship. It will be interesting to see if the parallel continues and if consumating the relationship will have the same serious repercussions for Willow that it did for Buffy.

Oz tells Willow he is a different person than when he left. He has changed. But so has Willow. And he seems to be oblivious to that change, at least to start with. And it isn't just the relationship with Tara. Willow has simply matured. She's dealt with the pain of her breakup (in Something Blue) and has moved on. Oz wants to come back to the point at which he left. But that point and that Willow are in the past. Even without Tara, you can't go home again.

There is a little bit of self realization for Buffy in this episode. She is trying to work her way toward telling Riley about Angel, but is afraid to do so because of his beliefs about demons. When Willow tells her about Tara, she responds not too differently from the way Riley did when he learnt Oz was a werewolf. She realizes this and modifies her response. She tells Willow the important thing is honesty. And as the episode ends, they both follow her advice. Buffy tells Riley about Angel and Willow leaves Oz and goes to Tara.

The Initiative scientists are definitely being painted as bad guys. First they drug the commandos without their knowledge. They create Adam. They implant control chips in vampires. And now they are doing inhuman experiments on quasihumans. They seem really out of control. Of course, the colonel (referring to the gang as freaks and anarchists) doesn't seem very controlled either. All this, of course, makes it easier for Riley to do the right thing and leave the Initiative. Which surprised me because I really didn't think Riley had it in him.

Adam clearly is moving toward more and more chaos. And joining with Spike, who has managed to alienate both humans and demons, makes sense. But is Spike really on his side. I've always believed Spike likes the gang, especially Willow, more than he ever lets on. And he definitely doesn't like having someone else in charge as he demonstrated at the end of season 2 when he sided with Buffy to stop Angel. Spike really doesn't want a big disturbance in the status quo, he likes the world the way it is. I don't think he will be a dependable ally for Adam.

There is an interesting parallel in the Adam/Spike relationship and the mayor/Faith relationship. In both cases we have a character who has defied the rules and been kicked out because of it. They are part of neither human nor demon society. They are both routinely cynical and sarcastic, pretending to be unfeeling. And both become the assistants of powerful figures (apparently indestructible) who want to cause great destruction and are promising them a better life afterwards. But Faith was truly dependent on the mayor and his feeling for her was genuine. Adam has no feelings and I believe Spike doesn't trust him in the least.

Back in Anne Buffy made a Gandhi joke, one that only works if you know something about Gandhi. In this episode, she makes a reference to William Burroughs and Xander makes a joke that only works if you know something about Burroughs and his writings - or at least saw the movie Naked Lunch. And that's the kind of erudite reference that makes me call Buffy the most sophisticated and well written show on tv.

Some quick final thoughts. It's interesting that when Oz arrives Tara leaves saying Willow should be with her friends. She is quick to put herself in the nonfriend group. This has been a consistent characteristic of Tara, her nonassertiveness. Despite all she and Willow have been through (like the events in Hush), she's still not going to give herself the title of friend. She's waiting for a move from Willow. And, of course, that does happen at the end of the episode. Tara arrives at the dorm room so soon after Willow leaves, how could she not have seen her? Yet another obligatory Riley without a shirt scene. When will it end? Of course, Buffy seemed to be wearing it. And I loved the look on his face when Buffy ignores his move and hops out of bed. This parallels nicely with Willow's rejection of Oz's sexual overtures in the previous scene.

Lines of the week:

"I want my room to be Willow-friendly." - Tara stating the obvious.

"Scouts honour."
"You were a boy scout?"
"Parts of me." - Adam and Spike with the kind of dialogue that makes this the best written show on tv.

"I leave now I can't ever come back. I just wanted to hear that out loud." - Riley taking the big risk.

"Stay back or I'll pull a William Burroughs on your leader here."
"You'll bore him to death with free prose?"
"Was I the only one awake in English that day?" - Buffy getting intellectual and Xander showing he's read some things.

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