WWBD? part 4
Season 1 Episode 6- The Pack
Buffy, Willow and Xander are on a school field trip at the zoo. Some of the other students are bullying another boy, and Xander follows them into the Hyena house stopping them. Unknown to them, the Hyena is magical and possesses the group of kids. Later that night, while out at the Bronze, Buffy and Willow start to notice Xander becoming less caring and mean, as he joins in with the bullies. He then sniffs Buffy, commenting on her having bathed thus changing her scent.
The next day at school, Xander shows up with the rest of the bullies who are now his new best friends. Buffy thinks something is really wrong and starts talking to Giles about it.
Giles has the best line of the episode at this point when he says "Xander's taken to teasing the less fortunate, and there's a noticeable change in both clothing and demeanor, and otherwise all his spare time is spent lounging around with imbeciles. It's devastating, he's turned into a sixteen year old boy."
We then see the pack eat the school mascot before turning on Mr. Flute, killing him. While this is happening, Xander is attacking Buffy only to get knocked out. Willow stands guard over Xander while Buffy and Giles go to the zoo to talk to the zookeeper. They figure out that it was the actions of Xander saving the boy from the bullies that activated the spirit switch, and agree to bring the pack there to undo it. Meanwhile, Willow is trapped by the pack in the school.
Buffy and Giles realize that the rules of Hyenas apply to the kids, one of which is that the pack will hunt down their missing member and race to the school to save her.
Once they do, they bait the pack to follow Buffy to the zoo, where Giles is already waiting with the zookeeper. Only Giles finds out the zookeeper was the cause of the whole mess to begin with, as he is a devotee of a cult that worships pack animals.
Buffy and the pack arrive just in time for her to save Willow, after Giles has been knocked out, and tosses the zookeeper into the animal cage where he is eaten by the Hyenas, reversing the possession. The students and Xander are freed from the curse.
This is the transition between Mr Flute and Mr. Synder. Sort of the innocent into the devious. The metaphor is summed up in the quote by Giles about Xander's hormones kicking in.
This episode also draws from folklore about shapeshifters and possessions, which will lay the ground work for so many elements in the rest of the series.
The scenes where Xander stalks Buffy have as much to do with her being an "alpha" female as it does his general crush on her. She's the only one who he recognizes as being stronger then himself. And with the animal spirit controlling his base nature, he for the first time is in the same league as her.
I think this episode carries with it enough reality to really make you understand why the show is as good as it is.
You never know when someone will change to either fit in, causing heartache to their friends, or when someone will simply grow apart from their normal group.
I love the fact the costume department put the pack in earth tones of grey and brown for this and not the typical black. It gives that subconscious idea that they are turning into Hyenas. The sound they make though when killing Mr. Flute to me sounded more like Monkeys then Hyenas.
This is one of my top favourite episodes of Buffy. (Top 5 list)