I have much less issue with this episode than Daniel does. While I agree that the acting of the bullies/pack is sub-par, I don't think it detracts any more from the episode than Owen's muddy line-readings in "Never Kill A Boy..." [Owen is fantastic. You shut your whore mouth - D] They're not great, but mercifully this is our only episode with them, so I tolerate them (and they will never rival my least favorite one-off villain of all time, The Loan Shark of "Tabula Rasa." That was awful). But they're really the only weak link - I think the metaphor is fantastic, especially in how it translates a mob mentality - the need to laugh at weaker parties in order to seem strong - into the hyena pack - capitalizing on both the hyena's brutal scavenger nature and its signature "laugh." I also really love that this episode shows off not just NB's range and skill - he's quite good at playing cruel and dark, and we don't get to see him do it much (the only other example I can think of right now is "The Wish") [Hell's Bells...D] - but also giving us a small peek into how good Willow is at being sad and how Freaking Huge her eyes are. Further thoughts and quibbles ...
- Thank you, Animatronic Hyena, for infecting the bullies and Xander with your crazy. Also, you're not at all creepy and fake-looking.
- Dodgeball - the last step in humanity before anarchy and cannibalism. Which .. yeah, pretty much this episode.
- I actually find it really interesting that, in the dodgeball game, when the pack is faced with only Buffy on the other side, they instead turn on their weakest member (Lance) - rather than attack someone whom they sense (or in Xander's case, know) is stronger than all of them. And again, Xander verbally takes down Willow right after, but only laughs when challenged by Buffy, rather than attacking her.
- Herbert the pig dies but he is neither human nor demon, so he gets no statistic.
- Willow is crying. NOTHING IS RIGHT IF WILLOW IS CRYING. Stupid Xander.
- Fun fact: When Xander is possessed by a hyena, he wears rings.
- I'm glad Xander wasn't in on the Flutie lunch. It's actually an important factor in redeemability.
- Xander goes for Buffy's neck for their first kiss - because he wants to be Angel. Possibly also an explanation for his wardrobe? It's also a good note in that his interest in her when he is HyenaXander is aggressive, not romantic. Also noting that Xander goes after Buffy with only a sexual intent - never with a violent (well, non-sexually violent) intent.
- The next we see him, he is unconscious because Buffy hit him with a desk. I love Buffy and her non-victimness.
- THERE'S A BABY IN THIS EPISODE. I totally forgot there is a baby in this episode (the night hiker who finds the pack sleeping in the woods has a baby backpack).
- Xander: "Weren't our lives simpler when it was just you and me?" ...and JESSE?! Awful memory, Xander and Willow. Oops, sorry, said I wasn't going to talk about that anymore.
- I just love the scene through the cage between Xander and Willow. Well-written, well-acted, excellent line of tension. Lovelovelove.
- Hyena Pack calling Willow's name through the library windows ... creepy and awesome.
- "They're tough. But I think they're getting stupider." Continuing with the metaphor of teenage boys and teenage bullies (and teenagers in groups following the mob mentality) lose intelligent rational thought fairly quickly.
- And Xander gets to redeem his awful behavior - his first act when he regains himself is to defend Willow.
Mostly handled without bloodshed above.
Daniel: "It's devastating. He's turned into a sixteen-year-old boy. Course, you'll have to kill him." - Giles
Zelda: "How terribly frustrating for you, that a bunch of schoolchildren could accomplish what you could not." - Giles, being awesome.
This took place in the 90s.
- Willow knows Xander's blood pressure. Willow is kind of creepy.
- Buffy is wearing Angel's jacket.
- Also our first evidence that the book cage can be easily broken open. Why they ever thought it was a good holding room for Oz is a mystery.
- Xander fakes amnesia about his Hyena Time. Giles aids and abets.
Voiceover - none
Angel's Character - Off on a camping trip with Cordelia, probably.
Dead Humans - 2
Dead Humans - 2
Dead Undeads - 0
Giles Unconscious - 1
Giles Cleans His Glasses - 0
Buffy Breaks a Door - 0
Evil Reveal - 1 (Zookeeper)
Unevil Reveal - 0
Shenanigans Called - 2
Apocalypse Called - 0
Apocalypse Called - 0