Episode Title: Pangs
Original Air Date: November 23, 1999
“And the thing is, I like my evil like I like my men. Evil. You know, ‘straight up, black hate, tied to the train tracks, soon my electro-ray will destroy metropolis’ bad. Not all mixed up with guilt and the destruction of an indigenous culture.” – Buffy
Thanksgiving has come to Sunnydale and with her mother out of town visiting her aunt; Buffy is left wanting to throw a thanksgiving celebration with her friends. At the same time when he accidently falls into a tomb beneath the college campus Xander unwittingly releases Hus, a Native American vengeance spirit
It seems that no one can celebrate a holiday in Sunnydale without something happening and this week it’s the turn of thanksgiving in an episode I honestly couldn’t remember seeing before much like “Gingerbread” which on one hand is great because it means getting to essentially watch a new episode and getting all the suprises which come with watching it for the first time. On the downside it was this episode which for the most part really is kind of a non-starter which really is only the more surprising when you look at all the pieces in play here.
Opening to Buffy in a cowboy hat for no real reason, a look which she thankfully was never reprised, while she is joined by Willow and Anya watching the groundbreaking ceremony for the new cultural Center building which Xander is now a part of the construction crew for, seeming having taken the recent caveman incident in “Beer Bad” as time for a career change. Seemingly it’s also a move that Anya approves off as she openly discusses her desire to see Xander digging and numerous other more explicit thoughts as this episode officially marks the start of them as a couple with Xander even referring to her as being his girlfriend seemingly having been finally won over by her blunt charms and fear of bunnies. Xander and Anya’s relationship really comes off as a natural progression for them and not that they were forced together, as it could have come across especially with Xander spending most of the previous episodes being confused and shocked by her blunt world outlook.
Buffy and Riley meanwhile continue to grow closer with Riley still a klutz around here, but its clear they are getting closer as they chat about their usual thanksgiving plans unaware that Angel is watching her, having returned to Sunnydale in a fun subtle cross over with his spin off series where Doyle recived a vision of Buffy in trouble sparking his return for this episode. Sadly these cross over moments were phased out as both series progress but for now it’s a fun piece of world building. Angel however here is kind of wasted seeing how he has no interaction with Buffy hiding in the shadows and helping her out in secret and perhaps is only helped by the stinger at the end of the episode were Xander drops the ball.
This episode also sees Spike making more of a move towards being one of the Scoobies as himself struggling to deal with his chip which stops him feeding on humans, now finds himself wandering Sunnydale trying to find a place to hide out in a sequence which not only gives us what can only be assumed as being the vampire version of a thanksgiving dinner, but also him finding himself on the wrong side of a furious Harmony who still hasn’t gotten over him staking her in “The Harsh Light of Day”. Ultimately he finds sanctuary (of sorts) at Giles apartment in exchange for his knowledge of “The Initiative” aswell as a humbling confession regarding his current predicament.
“I’m saying that Spike had a little trip to the vet, and now he doesn’t chase the other puppies any more.”
It’s especially amusing that he spends most of the episode tied up especially when the apartment comes under attack from the angry spirits whose stray arrows keep hitting him and turning him into what could almost be seen as the vampire version of a Saint Sebastian statue which is only added to by his amusing attempts to bounce his chair out of the line of fire.
The real weak connection here is Hus whose actual goals are pretty confused throughout the episode leading to a lot of running around to little purpose while everyone gets judged by a preachy Willow as the episode is keen to drive home the roots of thanksgiving with Willow essentially covering for anything that Hus isn’t getting across. Ultimatly it results in Giles apartment under siege from Hus and bizarrely several other almost identical warriors who’ve randomly appeared seemingly from nowhere and had it not been for Spike’s quips might have fallen more flat. Due to the weakness of Hus as a villain the rest of the episode feels kinda disjointed.
A pretty weak episode despite some sporadic fun moments it never quite seems to bring it together, while the colonial guilt is laid on so thick it tends to just bogs everything down, from what with perhaps a different monster of the week could possibly have been a stronger episode
Next Episode: Something Blue