Monday, November 21, 2011

"Pangs" (Buffy 4.8): Happy Thanksgiving!

Every hardcore Buffy fan has a "happy place"--that episode they turn to again and again because it always makes them smile.  For my friend Rachel, to whom I'm eternally thankful for introducing me to the Whedonverse, it's "Something Blue." For me it's "Pangs," for which I'm eternally thankful to writer Jane Espenson. The whole "Once Upon a Time" thing is forgiven, Jane, because you wrote the Buffy guide to surviving Thanksgiving dinner.

DON'T forget that the holidays always stir up memories that will bite you in the ass.
This episode's monster-of-the-week is a Native American vengeance spirit from the Chumash tribe. Awakened by the groundbreaking of the UC Sunnydale "Cultural Partnership Center," this pissed-off shapeshifter is eager to wreak havok on the palefaces who stole his life, land, and cultural identity, even if that means ruining Buffy's perfect Thanksgiving dinner. This plot point is a thematic rhyme with Angel's reappearance in Sunnydale. Doyle's vision in "The Bachelor Party" prompts the "tall and glowering" one to secretly return to Sunnydale to watch over Buffy.
He still lurks with the best of them.

Angel has to constantly deny that he's Angelus, reminding everyone that "I haven't been evil for a long time." Hee.
To answer Anya's question of what he's like when he is evil? Even hotter.

DO realize that one of your guests will pick a fight about politics.
Whenever families get together for the holidays, someone's going to bring up a taboo topic to argue about. In "Pangs," Buffy's Sunnydale family squabbles about reparations for Native Americans. Willow is hesitant to vanquish the spirit, arguing that genocide gives him a legitimate beef, and that slaying him with and singing "La la la" won't cut it this week. Giles counters that Buffy has no choice but to slay the Chumash chief, especially considering he has infected Xander with a host of colonial diseases, including syphilis. Xander concurs.
It gets funnier every time he says "syphilis."
If you find yourself in a similar situation this holiday weekend, remember Giles's wise words: "Sarcasm is an end in itself."

DON'T be surprised if an unwanted guest shows up.
Spike, who has been de-fanged by an Initiative chip, can't hunt or feed (now that Harmony has kicked him to the curb), so in desperation, he gets himself invited to Giles's for Thanksgiving. While there (and tied to a chair), he drops a little truth on the Scoobies, reminding everyone that those with better weapons always win.
Someone get this man a brandy.

DON'T forget that secrets always come out during the meal.
After a battle with the Chumash tribesman, Buffy does get dinner on the table for her Scoobies .  . . only to find out that Angel was in town and didn't even tell her. It's just about time for a trip to L.A. to confront the ex.

And I couldn't be happier.

DO be thankful for your perfectly flawed family, no matter who they are or where you find them.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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