Avox in Arcadia (perpetual) wrote,
Avox in Arcadia
perpetual

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Review etc: The Pack



Behold, Xander gets sniffed by some kids he didn't used to like: I'm back for "The Pack"!


Kairos's Official List of Hyena Facts Showing That the Writers Totally Did Not Do the Research

1.) Hyenas are matriarchal; i.e., males are submissive to females. If Xander recognized Buffy as a potential mate, he should have also recognized her as an alpha, and accordingly groveled for her attention - if he even thought he had that much status.

2.) Hyenas eat anything. They'd tear apart a piglet, sure, but they also wouldn't turn down a croissant or a hotdog.

3.) Forming a group and being together wouldn't at all make them stupider. Hyenas have a complex, sophisticated social hierarchy, and are altogether intelligent creatures who cooperatively use their numbers as their greatest advantage.

4.) They prey on the weak, sure, but that's true of all predators aside from man (and vampire).

5.) The zookeeper claims that they're dealing with a "very rare breed". I'm pretty sure there's a reason he didn't specify which one - wild animals are divided into subspecies, not breeds, and all evidence points to our culprits being the most common type, the spotted hyena.

6.) And here's my favorite: check out the documentary footage that Willow's watching twice in the episode. The very first shot is of a spotted hyena. Everything else is African Wild Dogs - not even in the same family!

7.) NEW! A group of hyenas is a cackle, not a pack. I checked this with several different sources (okay fine, several different websites that list names for groups of animals).

All it needed was for the hyenas to try to overthrow the noble lion monarchy, and the stereotyping would be complete. But basically the theme of my review here today is going to be: I like hyenas. I know and accept that the episode is about a generic animal predator and not about hyenas, but I’m going to be talking about hyenas anyway, because I like them.

For instance, sometimes the hyena laughter sounds somewhat accurate. Sometimes it just sounds like human laughter. Most times, it sounds like monkeys. The hyena kids kind of act like monkeys, too. Wouldn't it be cool if there was an episode where people were possessed by monkeys, so we could compare them and see if there's any behavioral difference to speak of?

Hey it was just a random thought, man. Here, have some quotes from the shooting script.


Finally, in the rear of the bus sit FIVE KIDS - KYLE, RHONDA, TOR, MICK and HEIDI, each in their own seat. They're attractive, supremely confident and dressed to kill.


Yeah...I didn't so much get that vibe. I certainly didn't get their names, beyond Kyle. In the script, Buffy and Willow discuss them in a mostly superfluous conversation that was deservedly cut down. Most of it's covered with the "here are four mean teenagers" shot we got in the aired version.

Although I do like this atypical look at self-confidence:


BUFFY
Oh -- sort of our version of the Royal Family.

WILLOW
Worse. They have self-confidence. It's like they know
they're in, and anyone who's not them is, by
definition, out.


It’s not just how you feel about yourselves, kids; it’s whether your feelings match reality.


BUFFY
(pushes him away)
Have you been drinking your cologne?


Hee!


HERBERT the PIG paces happily back and forth in a metal cage filled with shredded newspaper, as CAMERA CREEPS toward him.


Just had to include this because - "paces happily"? Have those two words ever been paired before?


Giles sheepishly points to an aisle of Library books.

GILES
The Hyena section is this way --


Wait, time out. The library has a hyena section? And still nobody brings up matriarchal pack structure?


BUFFY
Wow. Apparently, Noah rejected Hyenas
from the Ark because he thought they
were an evil, impure mixture of dogs and cats.
(turns a page)
Just another reason not to date out of species.


Whoa, I almost missed this at first glance, but...reference to someone?? I hope so, because he wasn't mentioned by name in the shooting script. Also, this is the most accurate look at hyenas in the episode: they’re neither dogs nor cats, but they look more like dogs and are technically closer to cats. (What, you didn’t think I meant the bits about the Ark and evil and impure, did you?)


ANGLE: THE ENGRAVING

of an ANIMAL making eye contact with a human. Horrible SQUIGGLES connect their eyes.


Again, could not let this line go by. Horrible squiggles. WHO IS COMING UP WITH THESE WORDS.


BUFFY
What part of "NO" don't you understand!

XANDER
The "N."


That's...that's actually a pretty good comeback for that question. Huh.

All in all, I get a real kick out of this episode, when it's not inducing my nerd fury. The trick of S1 Buffy is enjoying the campy factor instead of letting it irk you, and I haven’t really been in the mood for that so it’s a difficult part of the series for me to be at, but I’m going to try to take an objective look at the characters anyway.

The Buffy Show: Every time I watch the opening scene of this episode it makes me feel bitter toward Buffy, because I love going to the zoo and she makes me feel like I should be embarrassed about it. If Buffy likes Herbert the pig, why does she have to be a snob about watching zebras mate?

This is from the shooting script:


Willow begins to cry and Buffy hugs her, confused. She's a Slayer, not a psychiatrist.


Preference for the aired version notwithstanding, I think this was a fairly astute observation about Buffy. She did get better at emotional support as time went on, but she's not an instant empath.


GILES
--Buffy, there's an old saying -- If you're a hammer,
everything looks like a nail.


Same for this one. Buffy wants the problems to be ones that she can fix, and that means supernatural monsters. She is definitely a hammer in that sense.

We do get a nod to the Buffy and Angel Show, but it's actually more of a Xander moment than a B/A moment. Buffy seems surprised that hyena!Xander even brings Angel up: why is he thinking about him?

Xander and Boyhood: Well, it’s Xander’s episode, isn’t it. And while it doesn’t seem to do much for his personal growth (just admit you remember it all, coward), it does put a nice spotlight on his greatest strength.

Xander’s good. He’s not always useful, he’s sometimes a jerk, but you know he’s never going to be corrupted by power or betray his friends because he found something he thinks is better. Unless, of course, magic is involved, and then we have:


XANDER
(soft)
Welcome to the jungle.


I actually got a chill just from imagining him saying this line (also doesn't hurt that it was paired with the stage direction that we see his ripped biceps for the first time). Nobody does "temporary evil" like Nick Brendan.

Or more accurately, nobody does it like Xander. He may not be much of a physical threat even under the hyena spell, but he can hurt his loved ones, badly, just by acting like he doesn't care about them. Note that Giles has a pretty good point when he says that Xander's behavior is typical of a teenage boy, but Buffy and Willow, who know him better, don't need any further evidence to see that something supernatural is to blame. Bad Boy Xander just plain isn't Xander. He could go insane, yes, but being Firmly on the Side of Good is the one thing that he's has always had and never lost, and he's probably the only one who that can be said for. It's his thing.

Willow and Feelings: I like the part where she's guarding him in the cage and he starts sweet-talking her and you think she's going to get duped, because he sounds like her Xander and she's so upset by all this, but nope. She's Willow and she can be emotional and smart at the same time.

Also she's adorable; help me out here, shooting script:


GILES
And I thought I'd found such a distinctly
American solution to the problem. Well,
I honestly don't know where else to look --
(an idea)
Malleus Maleficarum!

WILLOW
Swearing is never appropriate in any language.


Another lost opportunity. Would have loved to hear her say that.

Giles and Objects: I didn't find any good screencaps of him holding anything, but here he is wearing something funny. Since I know there's a sombrero and a wizard hat in his future, maybe the "Giles and Objects" section should encompass his wardrobe as well.



Hey shooting script, have you got one of those great deleted lines for Giles?


ZOOKEEPER
You have a copy? That book's been out of
print since 1486... Who are you, anyway?

Giles proudly removes some notes from his pocket.

GILES
(proud)
I, sir, am a High School Librarian.


Thanks, shooting script. That will be all.

Random notes:

• The shooting script says the zookeeper is dressed like Marlin Perkins. I just want you all to know that I have no idea who Marlin Perkins is.
• I can't think of any other notes, I don't have the episode open anymore.
• Hyenas, right? Lol hyenas.
Tags: episode review
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