The Pack

The return of the leather jacket!  But, alas, not the return of Angel.  Since we’re about to get a whole episode about him (even titled after him) I can’t be too upset, though.

I have always been highly attracted to Xander in this episode.  This may be the episode that actually got me to like him.  Not that I disliked him?  I just seem to recall that this episode was the deciding factor in my decision about how much I liked Xander.  (I like him, for the record.  Probably a lot more than Willow, to be honest, but we’ll get to that later, when I start having actual problems with her character and how Joss handles it.)

I think part of the attraction here is we get to see Nicholas Brendan playing an alpha male.  Now, I get that hyena pack structure is matriarchal, but Xander is clearly the leader, so whether that means he was possessed by a female spirit or that means he’s the alpha mate and was stalking Buffy because she’s a great candidate for alpha female, I’m not sure, and I feel differently about it every time I see it.  How was he going to convince her to join him, anyway?  Is he a were-hyena?  Was he going to bite her?  Or was he going to take her back to the zoo and have her trans-possessed too?

I do have to laugh at the whole “becomes evil, starts wearing leather” trope, here.  Not that Nicky doesn’t pull it off, it’s just such a cliche.  And yet again, Nicholas Brendan’s acting makes me want to see him in more serious roles.  He gets cast in goofy roles a lot, but he really does have the ability to pull of some emotional depth, and I want to see him explore that.

I had forgotten that this was a dodgeball episode.  I have mixed feelings about dodgeball, mostly because I was often the first one out, but found it somehow satisfying to watch people get hit with rubber balls during gym class.  I do feel like dodgeball was over used as an easy game to have people play in high school in the nineties and early two-thousands, but it works for the plot here, so I’m not going to get too upset about it.

I am upset about Herbert, though.  I have always hated shows that are mean to animals, and while not exactly mean, having the school mascot be eaten just makes me upset.  He’s just a cute little pig!  Who was probably going to grow into a giant pig, but still.  Poor Herbert.

And poor Principal Flutie!  No one deserves to be eaten in their own office by four of their students.  I will miss you, Mr. Flutie, and your overbearing insistence on taking care of your students.

I don’t have a ton to say about this one.  It’s a fun watch, but not terribly substantive.  I enjoy it (unlike the previous two episodes), but it doesn’t have much bearing on the rest of the show, and it doesn’t commit any sins of writing or characterization, so I don’t feel the need to pick it apart.  Just enjoy this one; or if you don’t enjoy it, enjoy knowing that “Angel” is up next!

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