Buffy Ep 4.8 "Pangs"

I found this a fun episode for a number of reasons.  Mainly Spike, although I am getting rather fond of Anya.


There is a young man, looks like a college student, walking alone.  It's night, he looks worried.  Then Buffy shows up behind him.  And hits him. Guess what? He's a vampire! There is a short fight, then vamp is dust.  Buffy looks around, with that look you get when you think you might be being watched.  Then she sort of shrugs and walks off.

Next day, Willow, Buffy and Anya turn out to watch the University turn over the first sod for a new Anthropology centre.  I'm not quite sure why Willow and Buffy were there, but Anya was definitely there to watch Xander.  Who's latest job is apparently to work on the construction site.

Nicholas Brendan has clearly been working out, and is developing quite a body, I feel.
Anya is clearly still very keen on Xander.
Anya: If he keeps digging, he'll start to sweat ... I'm imagining having sex with him again.

A very direct young lady/vengeance demon.
Anyway, Xander doesn't have very long to show off his muscles before he falls into a pit.

It turns out that it was an old Missionary, that people had assumed had been lost long ago.  Apparently Sunnydale has something of a history of strange earthquakes (al la the Master, Season 1)

Thanksgiving is coming soon, Buffy's Mum is away in New Orleans.  Buffy abruptly decides that she is going to hold a thanksgiving of her own.  Willow is less than sure about this.  Apparently her mum held strong feelings that Thanksgiving was about the destruction of indigenous peoples, and Willow echoes those sentiments.

In the meantime, Spike ... who we saw last week had been effectively defanged by the Initiative ... returns to Harmony, who (after nearly being successfully seduced) throws him out. Before leaving, Spike asks plaintively "Couldn't I just have someone to eat?" He doesn't look to good, actually.

Next day, Xander seems to have come down with something.  Anya decides to look after him.  After all, she knows a lot about diseases... she's caused a few, after all!

The Professor in charge of Anthropology is on the phone, rather excited about the discovery of the old mission, when a green mist starts forming around some Native American exhibits in her office(?).  Suddenly, an Native American warrior appears, grabs an obsidian knife from the display, and cuts her throat.

The next scene has Buffy and Willow examining the scene of the murder.  Apparently the Professor was found missing an ear.  Willow comes up some pretty wild theories ... "It could be a demon building another demon entirely out of ears! Or ... or it could be self inflicted ... I'm not on my game tonight, am I?"

They pretty much decide return to Giles to do research.

Next scene has Buffy describing the carnage ... at the shopping center where she was buying the stuff for her turkey dinner.  It's only with difficulty that Giles manages to get her back on track about the murder.  Then for a few moments, she seems distacted, (as though, perhaps, the felt someone watching her).  Giles suggests that she checks out a few things, and she leaves. Moments after she goes, Giles says "What do you think?" and Angel appears!

His friend (Doyle) apparently has had a vague warning flash about Buffy (as seen the last scene of last weeks Angel) so Angel has come back to Sunnydale to protect her.  But he doesn't want her to know he's watching her... it's just too much of a can of worms.

There is a lovely scene (I'm not 100% sure I've got this in the right order) when Spike is staggering through the streets, clutching an old blanket.  In a scene right out of Dickens, he stares forlornly through a window, looking at people having their meals while he has nothing. *sob* Of course, it's a bunch of vampires feeding on a victim ... I was highly amused.

While back on their search for more goodies for Thanksgiving, Willow and Buffy run into Riley.  While Buffy and Riley chat, Willow makes herself scarce, only to be dragged out of sight by Angel!  For a moment, she thinks he's gone all evil again, but he explains he's just here to protect Buffy, and not to tell Buffy and ... who's that guy she's talking to???

Buffy ends up inviting Riley to thanksgiving, but Riley apparently is booked to fly out that night to his parents place in Iowa "that's somewhere in the middle, isn't it?"

Acting in part on a suggesting from Angel (via Giles) Buffy goes to have a talk to a local priest, who is supposed to know a lot about the particular tribe of Indians that lived here and the old mission.  She finds him just as he has been killed by the spirit indian, (by hanging) and they have a tussle.  The Indian (yes, I know it's probably not PC, but it's easier to write) says he is the spirit of vengeance for the Shabash (sp?) indians.  When Buffy gets the upper hand, he says something like "So this is the way of it, is it? First you kill my people, now you destroy their spirit."

This rather throws Buffy, and she backs off.  Then the Spirit Warrior crosses his arms and turns into a flock of crows! (Nice effect)

Back at the Giles mansion, Buffy is still preparing for thanksgiving while they discuss what to do about this Spirit Warrior.  Willow has been doing her research, and it looks like they were wiped out pretty viciously by White settlers ... exposed to disease, enslaved, and just generally massacred. She is far from sure that shouldn't be helping him instead! A fairly intense argument erupts between Willow and Giles ... with good points on both sides I might add.  Then Xander shows up with Anya in tow.  He is looking pretty groggy.  They work out that as he was closest to the spirit warrior when it was released, it looks like he has been given a whole bunch of nasty diseases ... malaria, smallpox, syphilis ... (He is *really* not impressed at this last bit)

Then who should knock at the door but Spike?

Spike: Help me! (Buffy hits him, and he goes flying backwards.) What part of "help me" didn't you understand?

I like Spike.  He's pretty much at the end of his rope, and he's come to Buffy and co in desperation.  He can't feed ... he can't apparently harm any living thing without suffering immense pain.  Very embarassing.  However, he knows something about the army guys that have been running around the place, and is willing to share information. In exchange for some blood...

Spike is allowed in, but tied up securely.  Then the argument about what to do with the Spirit Warrior continues.  Willow is maintaining that they shouldn't react blindly, and strike out at him ... it would be just as bad as the original killings. Giles is pointing out that whatever his provocation, he is currently going around killing innocent people. Xander is pointing out that he has syphilis, and could they please do something about it?

Then Spike chimes in with some pithy comments:

Spike: I just can't take all this namby pamby boo hooing about the bloody indians.
Willow: The preferred term is...
Spike: You won. Alright? You came in. You killed them, you took their land.  That's what conquering nations do.  That's what Caesar did, but you didn't hear him saying "I came, I conquered ... I feel really bad about it." The history of the world is not about people making friends.  You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story.

Willow: Maybe if we talked to him about it...
Spike:  You exterminated his race.  What could you possible say that could make him feel better? It's kill or be killed here.

Spike does get some good lines.  Whatever your opinion of the first quote, the second definitely defined the problem pretty clearly.

The gang decided that the next target would be the Dean, because he was at the opening of the Mission, and he is in charge.  Xander, Willow and Anya go off to warn him and they are no sooner out the door when the spirit warrior makes an attack in force.  He has managed to raise up some other warriors.

On the way back from warning the Dean ... not very successfully.
Xander: Maybe if Anya hadn't started with "Does everyone here have both ears?"

Angel appears! Xander is afraid he's turned evil again.

Angel: I'm not evil! Why does everyone think I've turned evil again? I haven't been evil in a long time...

He realised that this guy is a warrior, he's going to be going after Warriors. eg, Buffy.  The gang charge off to the rescue, like the cavalry ... on bicycles.

A lovely fight scene back at the house.  Spike is tied to a chair.  Towards the end of the fight he has quite a few arrows stick out of him, and is starting to get quite annoyed. Buffy and Giles are holding their own, but Buffy doesn't seem to be able to hurt these guys.   Angel arrives, they beat up the Indian warriors ... who I don't think were quite as tough as their leader ... and Buffy discovers that the Warrior's own knife can harm him.  The Warrior then turns into a bear ...
Spike: You made a bear! Turn it back! Turn it back!

Buffy gets a bit beaten up, but in the end Xander distracts the bear, and Buffy gets it with the knife.

Then they have dinner.

Xander is feeling better.
Xander: (nudging Anya) You know, I think the syphilis is clearing right up!
Buffy: And they say romance is dead.

The very last line of the episode is Xander accidently letting on the Angel had been here... then the credits roll.

End of Synopsis. Dang! That *was* supposed to be a short one. Oh, well.

Some interesting themes were explored, not the least was the real way the Native Americans were treated by the Whites.  Willows unwillingness to go against the Spirit Warrior was possibly exaggerated for effect, but well within character.

I'm not sure if there was meant to be a moral to this story.  I hope it's not  "The best way to meet any threat is to kill it off straight away."
To me, if there was a moral, it's twofold:

  1. "Sometimes the issues are too complex for easy answers" and
  2. "All the best will in the world won't help if the other guy doesn't want to talk too." and
  3. "Feeling guilty for something you have no control over doesn't make the victims feel any better..."
Enough moralizing.  (See new improved Robbie Dictionary for definition of "twofold")

Loved Spike. Loved his lines.  Loved the "poor waif at the window" scene.  An interesting way to integrate him into being a regular cast member.

I also was much taken by the way that, in the midst of all the murders and mayhem, Buffy was still mainly concerned about making her thanksgiving dinner. This may have just been meant to be funny, but I think it indicates that she's pretty much worked out that there is always something going on.  Don't wait for the perfect time to do something ... grab the opportunities to live  your life while you have the chance.

(Giles expressed a very similar sentiment re Buffy's surprise birthday party way back in season two...)

Anyway, it's late, I have to get up in the morning.

A Robbie rating of 9.0,
A Stephanie Rating of OK for kids (apart, perhaps, from the throat cutting scene... on the other hand, it was very quick, and implied more than showed.) Stephanie has in fact already seen it, and loved this episode.

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