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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Where the Wild Things Are

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4, Episode “Where the Wild Things Are”
Broadcast April 25, 2000

Buffy: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Willow: Alyson Hannigan
Xander: Nicholas Brendan
Giles: Anthony Stewart Head
Riley: Marc Blucas
Spike: James Marsters



Riley and Buffy encounter something new in the graveyard: a vampire/demon team-up.


Riley wakes up the next morning next to Buffy and hears strange rustling sounds in the Lowell Frat House. Meanwhile, Anya and Xander are fighting because Anya thinks Xander is growing tired of her.

The Gang thinks demonic cyborg Adam is behind the recent co-operation of vampires and demons, which used to be verboten for both races. "He's bridging the gap, like Martin Luther King," Tara suggests. But they're going to put their war on Adam aside for a party at Lowell, which sits above the Initiative headquarters.

Xander shows up alone to the party because Anya's still mad. As the party gets underway, strange happenings begin: the fireplace downstairs flares up, igniting an Initiative guy's clothes.


Former demon Anya runs into Gelded Vampire Spike on the street and they end up moaning about how much they miss their powers. ("Things used to be so much simpler," Anya says.)

Xander, meanwhile, flirts rather skillfully with a cute girl named "Julie." Lying badly, Buffy and Riley slip upstairs to have even more sex, while downstairs the guests are discovering that touching the wall can have an erotic effect.

Tara freaks out when Willow touches her "it's dirty!" and runs away, while cute Julie virtually attacks Xander in a game of spin-the-bottle. Then she, too, runs away in shame. While the guests continue to get off by touching the wall and Buffy and Riley get lost to the world in their own lovemaking, Julie locks herself in a closet and starts hacking off her own hair. By the time the "spin the..." beer bottle explodes, maiming guests, the gang can't get to Buffy and Riley: the house is growing thick vines, covering the bedroom door.


Riley and Buffy are in their own little universe, which consists of them and the bed. "Never stop touching me," is all Buffy can say.

Meanwhile, the house shakes violently, sending everyone running for cover. Julie emerges having cut her hair off, screaming about her shame. The house won't let the gang get to Buffy, so it's time to find Giles.

The gang does find Giles exactly where he said he'd be: at a coffee house playing acoustic guitar and singing The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" in a fairly decent tenor. The girls think he's sexy; Xander thinks this is creepier than the haunted house.

While the mossy tangle of vines thickens and closes off Buffy and Riley's lovemaking, the gang learns that the Lowell House was once a home for adolescents run by the still-living Genevieve Holt.

Interviewing Holt, the Gang learns that no children ever died there-- but they do uncover that the hyper-religious Holt abused the children whenever they manifested normal adolescent sex drives, vanity, and the like. She would even hold the nastiest ones under the water, "baptizing" them.

Giles knows now what is going on: it's a poltergeist manifested from the pain that built up over the years in the house, and now it's feeding off the lust of Riley and Buffy. Soon it will sap the pair of all their energy, and Riley and Buffy will die.


Now the Gang divides itself up: Anya and Xander head for the house to rescue Buffy,
while Tara, Giles and Willow conduct a séance, calling on the manifestation in the house. They draw the ghosts, as it were, out of the Lowell House and to Giles' place and plead with the children to release their pain.

But once machete-wielding Xander starts hacking his way thorough the thick vines that now grow throughout the house, the ghosts return with violent vengeance. Keeping Xander and Anya from Buffy and Riley, the try to drown Riley and impale Anya's hand with a vine, and slash at both of them. But finally, staying together, Anya and Xander arrive at the bedroom and force their way in.

That breaks the spell. Afterwards, the Gang is more horrified by Giles' singing than they are about this whole strange adventure.


Well, this was an oddly anti-climactic episode that nevertheless had a few interesting points. The episode uses a little-employed conception of ghosts as not "spirits of the dead" but as batteries of psychic energy. This is a common reported kind of ghost, in fact most people who say they've seen ghosts report seeing someone alive appearing to them. Here, the images of the children are all representative of people who are probably still living, some of them perhaps in Sunnydale. My question is, given how cool that idea is, why not show us the adults? It would have been far more satisfying to see the pain come full circle, and see some of the former children come to put their own pent-up pain to rest.

Giles and Xander seem to have coolness that works in tandem. Thus in this episode, Giles is seen to be a decent singer (the girls seem to like him, despite themselves) while Xander suddenly manifests a mature flirting skill that I don't recall him having in the past. Perhaps the house amped his charisma.

On a minor note, I'm interested in the inevitable direction the show takes as Riley and Buffy continue to meld their two teams, just as Adam is bringing the demons and vampires together.

What I don't find particularly convincing is the notion that the Lowell Frat House has lain in wait for fifty years until a couple just lusty enough to wake it up came along. I mean, come on, this is a frat house. And this poltergeist doesn't respond to love, it responds to lust. You're telling me white-bread, ultra-bland super-couple Riley and Buffy are the heat this house needed?

Lastly, I'm not impressed by the Initiative Soldiers when one catches his pant leg on fire and all he can do is kick and scream while his buddy swats him with a blanket. Even Dick Van Dyke knew to stop, drop and roll; where's that stay-fast military training we've heard so much about?

So it goes. Some great lines, but "Where the Wild Things Are" ultimately doesn't quite get there.


"A ghost? What's the deal--Xander

Xander: "We need to go in there. Now who's with me?"
Spike: "I am. I know I'm not the first choice in heroics. And Buffy's tried to kill me more than once. And I don't fancy a single one of you at all. But... actually, all that sounded pretty convincing." (Wanders away.)

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