Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 19

New Moon Rising

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 02, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
508 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Tara and Willow's relationship seems to be progressing when Oz returns to town. Through his travels Oz has found a combination of charms, potions and meditation that allows him to avoid turning into a werewolf. When Oz discovers that Willow and Tara are more than friends, however, he loses control and the wolf is set free.moreless

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  • Oz returns to Sunnydale to find an oddly conflicted Willow.

    This is an episode that just had to happen and it's pulled off pretty well. Tara and Oz meet and Willow has to decide now which way she wants to go: back to Oz or continue with Tara. Since Oz left Sunnydale a bit abruptly back in "Wild at Heart" there's been a lack of closure in his relationship with Willow, and this episode gives us that closure in a pretty satisfying way. It also manages to elevate Willow and Tara's relationship to a new level. Some other important bits happen as a result of Willow's conflict, including both Buffy and Riley coming to understand each other's point of view on demons. This leads to Buffy's not-so-complete disclosure of her relationship with Angel, which I say qualifies as an elevation in their relationship as well.

    It all begins when Willow brings Tara along to a Scooby meeting discussing Adam's whereabouts. In the middle of this, Oz appears in the doorway and shocks everyone. As soon as Tara hears that it's Oz she disappointingly says, and then Buffy looks over Willow's way with this questioned look on her face. Oz comes in and is very respectful towards Willow, not expecting anything right away. He walks in, politely asks her if they can chat later, and then heads out. I really liked this entire scene and felt Willow's confusion, like

    When they get together to 'chat' later, Oz takes her outside to show that it's a full moon, and he's not a wolf! Go Oz! Willow's reaction is really interesting though. At first she is absolutely thrilled and hugs him, but as Oz hold her she begins to notice it doesn't feel quite right anymore. She then backs off a bit and says, "it's wonderful for Willow isn't the same person she was when Oz left; a lot has happened including her separation from Buffy and the Scoobies, which coincides with her growing relationship with Tara.

    It turns out the reason Oz returned is because he thinks he has his wolfy nature under control now and can give Willow what she needs. Interesting side-note, it just hit me that Spike also left town to better himself for a girl -- interesting. After an evening of chatting in which Willow never reveals her feelings towards Tara, Oz feels like he's got a good shot at hooking up again with her. Tara comes to the door when Willow's in the bathroom, sees Oz there, and basically runs off. This makes Oz mighty curious for a few seconds but just dismisses the oddness, probably assuming that it's just Tara's personality.

    I am switching topics to Buffy for a bit because what her and Riley go through is connected to what's happening with Willow. While patrolling Riley begins expressing his observations of Oz's return. Buffy says, "The thing is before that, they were doing great. I mean, she was totally dealing with Oz being a Riley responds in a very surprised manner saying "Whoa, wait. Oz is a werewolf, and Willow was dating him!? ... You're kidding me. Gotta say I'm surprised. I didn't think Willow was that kind of girl ... Into dangerous guys. She seems smarter than These comments obviously tick Buffy off, because she knows that she's the kind of girl who gravitates towards "bad boys" and Riley's comments likely rub off as an indirect insult of her relationship with Angel, which Riley doesn't even know about yet. Buffy's response supports this theory, "Yeah, well love isn't logical, Riley. It's not like you can be Mister Joe Sensible about it all the time. God knows I haven't

    I can't help but be reminded of Spike's speech in "Lover's Walk", "Love isn't brains, children, it's blood, blood screaming inside you to work its This issue between Buffy and Riley brings out some very interesting discussion about the nature of demons. Buffy is so used to dealing with nicer demons that she's forgotten what it's like for someone finding it out for the first time. She was surprised when she initially found out that a vampire can be good in "Angel". It's safe to say she was 'thrown,' which is a word that is used in this episode.

    The next morning Buffy and Riley wake up together and she is angry at all things Riley because of his comment the previous night. This squabble feels very realistic to how a real couple would interact. Riley says, "Okay, I'm up less than a minute, and somehow I've managed to piss you Buffy tries to tell him that it isn't as simple as "Demons bad, people She even goes as far as saying "It's with different demons. There are creatures - vampires, for example -- that aren't evil at This is obviously a reference to Angel and is further evidence she was reminded of Angel when Riley made the comment about Willow.

    All of this discussion is a wonderful lead-in to when Buffy finds out Willow is in love with Tara. Buffy walks into her dorm to find Willow sitting on her bed. When asked by Willow if she's okay, Buffy doesn't want to chat and would rather redirect the conversation to Oz's return. In previous years Buffy was much more open with Willow -- things have definitely changed. Anyway, Willow is trying to explain to a confused Buffy why the situation is When Buffy still isn't "getting it," she sighs and says, "It's of Buffy amusingly responds with "You mean Tara has a crush on It's at this point when it finally sinks in.

    The reactions Buffy has is not surprising in the slightest. If my best friend announced he was seriously gay, I'd definitely back up a few steps myself. For one, it's simply a huge surprise. Additionally, I'd be concerned he thought I was hot in some way, which honestly would be a bit disturbing to me because I'm not homosexual. So when Buffy reacts exactly like I would, I can definitely understand what she's feeling. After the initial shock/confusion and backing away has passed, though, Buffy is more understanding, because she knows Willow is still her best friend.

    The problem now is that Willow is placed in an impossible situation of having to choose between Oz, who she still greatly cares about, and Tara, who is naturally trying to be supportive but is very obvious in showing how she feels. Willow says, "I don't wanna hurt anyone, Buffy's response is the hard truth: "No matter what, somebody's gonna get hurt. And the important thing is, you just have to be honest, or it's gonna be a lot This all leads to the Oz/Tara confrontation scene in the hallway. Oz smells Willow's sweater on Tara and finds out about their relationship even though Tara tries to keep out of everything. This entire situation gets Oz so flustered he starts to somehow transform into the wolf, chases Tara, then gets tagged by Riley and the Initiative because they think he's the demon that tore apart their group earlier in the episode.

    When getting very impatient waiting for confirmation about whether or not Oz was the demon that did the damage, Riley just pulls out his gun and decides to end it. At the exact time he does that Oz morphs back into a human and shocks the crap out of Riley, much like Buffy was shocked about Willow's confession. This, of course, leads to Riley throwing away his career with the Initiative to help Oz escape, which fails. Quick note: the Initiative is still annoying me and have become a plot device rather than an institution for interesting discussion, and this hurts all episodes they are in, including this one, a bit. Anyway, I like how when Buffy frees Riley from the brig he expresses a moment's concern that if he leaves now he won't be able to come back. Buffy's resulting static expression of "yeah, duh, what are you waiting is awesome.

    Both Buffy and Riley's separate experiences after having their initial fight have shaped them to be more open about the other partner's perspective. The way the Willow/Oz/Tara situation affects Buffy and Riley is simply brilliant writing. The two of them are hanging out at the ruins of Sunnydale High after their actions against the Initiative, when Riley admits he was being a bigot about the Oz situation. Buffy, though, in light of being 'thrown' herself by Willow's 'change' sees now that Riley was simply 'thrown' by the idea of good demons -- that the world they live in is one with shades of gray, especially when love is involved. In light of this new level of understanding, Buffy chooses this moment to begin telling Riley about her relationship with Angel. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful characterization! I love it!

    While all of this is happening, Adam pays a visit to Spike. A result of this communication is Spike offering help to Buffy because he thinks Adam will remove his chip. Adam also opens the doors into the Initiative for the Scoobies, which is pretty cool. The bad guy's helping the good guys without the good guys knowing it because it's all part of a larger scheme. Anyway, you've got to feel sad for Oz in this episode, because he came all the way back to Sunnydale hoping to reconnect with the girl he loves, only to find out that he has the same problem as when he left and that his girl now loves another girl. Oz makes it clear that he's not terribly at peace with the fact that Willow's in love with a girl now. This becomes clear when she says "I can't explain it" and Oz replies, "It may be safer for both of us if you

    This episode gives much better closure to their relationship than what we got in "Wild at Heart". The final scene between Willow and Tara was not only incredibly sweet, but very suggestive as well. Overall, this episode is extremely solid. It gives closure to the Willow/Oz relationship and beautifully sets up the Willow/Tara one. At the same time, a whole new level of trust and openness is gained between Buffy and Riley, who learn from the Willow/Tara/Oz situation. Great stuff!moreless
  • Sorry Oz, she's with Tara

    The Good;

    Oz is back and not before time, it's all wonderful. No matter how big a Tara fan you are you've got to adore the Willow/Oz goodbye scene

    The Bad;

    The werewolf makeup still stupid, thankfully the last time we'll see it.

    Best line;

    Riley; "No sir, I'm an anarchist"

    Women good/men bad;

    Oz's jealousy of Willow/Tara brings out his more animal nature.


    The Initiative experimenting on Oz

    Kinky dinky;

    Riley has now acquired a double bed and Buffy now sleeps in one of his shirts. Buffy imagines that Willow and werewolf Oz have had sex?

    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Buffy's reaction to the news of Will and Tara is a little freaked, interesting that she'll later vent on Riley due to his anti-demon stance (hasn't told him about Angel yet). Compensating through guilt? Buffy remarks about the uncontrollable nature of love, pressaging her relationship with Spike. Spike notes that Buffy is a 'whiny little thing' but always wins. So what exactly do Willow and Tara get up to when the candle goes out? Only fanfic can tell! That said Willow never says to Oz 'We can't be together any more because I'm gay', in fact she seems to hold out the offer that they could possibly get back together if circumstances changed so more bi than gay. Xander obviously glad to see Oz back.

    Guantanamo Bay;

    Riley finally rebels against the Initiative

    Where's Dawn?

    What's Dawn's attitude to Oz? I suspect she was a fan although she also loves Tara.

    Apocalypses; 5,

    Scoobies in bondage: Oz tied up by the Initiative

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 2

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Scoobies knocked out: Oz againx2

    Buffy: 15

    Giles: 10

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 8

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 5

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 2

    Wes: 1


    Buffy: 79 vamps, 27 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 4 vamps

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 5 vamps, 2 zombies, a demon, a demon

    Anya: a demon

    Riley; 12 vamps + 6 demons

    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 2

    Alternate scoobies:

    Buffy: 6

    Giles: 3

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 2

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 3

    Recurring characters killed: 7

    Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh

    Sunnydale Death toll; I figure must be around 60?

    Total number of scoobies: 7

    Giles, Xander, Willow, Buffy, Anya, Riley and Tara attending her first Scooby meeting

    Xander demon magnet: 5

    Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?)

    Scoobies shot: Riley is about to shoot Oz although unless it's loaded with silver bullets you wonder would his pistol affect him? The Initiative guys surround Riley and Oz, surely if they opened fire they'd kill each other too?

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4

    Notches on Scooby bedpost: I think we should add Tara to the list for Willow especially as Oz notes Willow's scent is 'all over' Tara.

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny

    Cordy: 1?

    Buffy: 3; Angel, Parker, Riley

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Joyce: 1;Giles, possibly Ted

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara

    Questions and observations;

    The entrance of Connor Farrell, a great actor from Sex and the City, From the Earth to the Moon and especially an obscure old series I used to enjoy called Dark Skies (anyone else remember it? they used to show it very late on C4, basically history from a UFO conspiracists POV). In case anyone doesn't know William Boroughs wrote surrealist novel The Naked Lunch and accidentally shot his wife through the head. Adam was a Boy Scout. So, a werewolf CAN control it's impulses? Maybe Buffy and co should tell Nina that on Angel? (wouldn't you love Oz to turn up in Angel S6/Buffy S8?) Now according to Keith Toppings book the events of 5x5 occur AFTER this ep. Willow and Tara discuss Miss Kitty. Last mention of Devon. Anya displays her computer skills for the first time. McNamara is the name of Kennedy's defence secretary who is widely blamed for the failure of the Vietnam War and who died just this week.

    On my 2009 Buffy calender there's a great picture of Tara and Oz with Willow in the middle. Tara's holding Willow's arm and Will's looking at Oz who looks as if he's about to form an expression as if to say "Sorry babe, I'm with her". I don't think it's a scene from the show but it's a peach of pic.

    Marks out of 10; 8/10

  • A brilliant episode; the official ending of Willow/Oz and the official start of Willow/Tara.

    New Moon Rising is a fantastic episode that rounds off the romance of Willow and Oz and officially starts the romance of Willow and Tara. It is emotional and shocking all the way through.

    Oz coming back was good. I feel his story arc was naearly over in Wild at Heart and this episode was needed to really finish his storyline and his romance with Willow. It is nice to see Willow and Oz together for the last time, as even though I'm a Willow/Tara fan, I've always liked Willow/Oz as well. I thought they were just a nice, interesting relationship and nnot overly dramatic like some (Buffy/Angel) or boring like others (Buffy/Riley).

    I was very satisfied with how they ended the romance. It was all very believable; I understood that Willow still has a place in her heart for Oz but is not in love with him anymore and I felt her choosing Tara was a natural choice.

    I felt this episode had some really great scenes; the last scene between Willow and Oz was brilliantly written; sad and emotional. I love Willow saying she's sure they'll meet again; whether it's in Sunnydale or in Istanbul. It gave fans of Willow/Oz hope that they might reunite but didn't feel like an attempt to satisfy them in case of angry reactions from fans (e.g. Angel coming back in End of Days/Chosen and Buffy's annoying and irrelevant cookie dough speech).

    The Initiative scenes were good and furthered the main arc slightly. Spike being Adam's ally is a reminder that he's still evil and the scenes between them were OK- nothing special as I don't really care for the arc at all. Nevertheless, it didn't make the episode feel completely out of place.

    Riley finally did something that wasn't annoying OR boring- punching that annoying Colonel McNamara. That guy is so irritating and up himself. I look forward to watching his death in Primeval again. Willow coming out to Buffy was a really good scene. Buffy's initial weirdness about it but her acceptance and support of it immediately after sends out the right message to people in the same predicament. It really reminds us of the close bond between them.

    The last scene was so- for lack of a better word- cute! It was a little cheesy with Tara blowing out the candle but really made a nice start for their official relationship.

    New Moon Rising is an excellent episode and one that has sad endings and happy beginnings. It isn't one of my favourites but is still a really great episode and one not to be missed.moreless
  • New Moon Rising

    New Moon Rising was a perfectly classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because it has a lot of important character development especially for Willow. In this episode we see the return of Oz, at a time not so convienent for Willow as she has moved on, and to a whole new field. When Oz finds out the truth he turns into a Wolf and gets captured by the Initiative, though when Riley finds out its Oz he does try to help. This created a complex scenario resulting from Willow and Tara's relationshiop, that brings all the characters stories together in some way. Willow finally reveals all her true feelings to Buffy, Oz, and Tara.moreless
  • As Willow & Tara's friendship/relationship continues to evlove,Oz returns to Sunnydale to ask Willow to consider getting back together after explaining that the 'wolfy' is under control.

    I'll put my cards on the table from the outset & declare that this is my favourite episode,Tara my favourite character & the Willow/Tara relationship one of my all-time favourite television relationships.

    That declaration out of the way,there is much to like about this episode as Willow and Tara continue to grow closer,although I think that Tara fell head over heels in love with Willow after their initial encounter in 'Hush'.

    As far as plot development is concerned I guess it was neccesary that Oz return to tie up some loose ends & the writers are to be congratulated for the way they handled Oz's return & eventual departure.

    This is one of Amber Benson's strongest performances & she will continue to grow as an actor as Tara continues to grow as a character.

    As Willow & Tara's relationship blossoms it evolves into one of the more believable relationships on television,at the same time managing to distance itself from sensationalising a same-sex relationship.

    And the final scene between Willow & Tara? Simply perfect!moreless
James Michael Connor

James Michael Connor

Scientist #1

Guest Star

Mark Daneri

Mark Daneri

Scientist #2

Guest Star

Robert Patrick Benedict

Robert Patrick Benedict


Guest Star

Amber Benson

Amber Benson


Recurring Role

Leonard Roberts

Leonard Roberts

Forrest Gates

Recurring Role

Bailey Chase

Bailey Chase

Graham Miller

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Goof: When Oz is being examined by the doctor at the Initiative, after he turns back from a werewolf, the very top of his shorts are visible.

    • Goof: Towards the end of the episode when Oz and Willow are hugging in Oz's van, you can see what appears to be a radio mic pack that Willow is wearing attached to the back of her waistband.

    • Goof: At the beginning of Buffy and Willow's talk about Willow's new feelings you can see the man holding the boom in the mirror.

    • Goof: When Oz is laying on the bed talking with Willow, you can see the amulet on his necklace switch from on the inside of his shirt to the outside, even though he isn't moving.

    • Nitpick: When Willow leaves her dorm room in the morning to brush her teeth (after chatting up Oz all night), about 20 seconds passes between when she leaves and when Tara knocks on the door. (Also, same short amount of time between when Tara leaves and Willow returns). Unless one of them moves at stealthy speed, they should have seen each other in the hallway.

    • Goof: When Buffy is walking down the hall in The Initiative, just before rescuing Riley, a shadow can be seen in the top left hand corner of the screen, this shadow then moves with the camera throughout the scene indicating that it may not be a shadow but an obstruction on the camera itself.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Willow: When did you get back?
      Oz: Pretty much now.

    • Willow: I missed you, Oz. I wrote you so many letters... but I didn't have any place to send them, you know? I couldn't live like that.
      Oz: It was stupid to think that you'd just be... waiting.
      Willow: I was waiting. I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you. Like if I'm old and blue-haired, and I turn the corner in Istanbul, and there you are, I won't be surprised... because you're with me, you know?
      Oz: I know. But now is not that time, I guess.
      Willow: No. What are you gonna do?
      Oz: I think I better take off.
      Willow: When?
      Oz: Pretty much now.

    • Willow: You stopped the wolf from coming out. I saw it.
      Oz: But I couldn't look at you. I mean, it turns out, the one thing that brings it out of me is you. Which falls under the heading of ironic in my book.

    • Colonel: You're a dead man, Finn.
      Riley: No, sir. I'm an anarchist.

    • Buffy: Stay back... or I'll pull a William Burroughs on your leader here.
      Xander: You'll bore him to death with free prose?
      Buffy: Was I the only one awake in English that day? I'll kill him.

    • Buffy: I've mentioned how much I'm going to kill you if this is a scam, right?
      Spike: Look, would I wear this if I wasn't on the up-and-up?
      Willow: You do sort of look like an evil olive.

    • Spike: No tricks?
      Adam: Scout's honor.
      Spike: You were a boy scout?
      Adam: Parts of me.

    • Oz: This warlock in Romania sent me to the monks there to learn some meditation techniques. Very intense. All about keeping your inner cool.
      Willow: Good. 'Cause you were such a spaz before.

    • Tara: Do you like cats?
      Willow: I'm more of a dog person myself. But I'm not like, "death to all cats." Why?
      Tara: Cause I was thinking of getting one.
      Willow: Can you have one in the dorms?
      Tara: No, but this would be a sneaky cat.
      Willow: That would be cool. You mean it'd be sort of like a familiar?
      Tara: Actually, I was thinking it would be sort of like a pet. You know, we could... we could name her Trixie, or Miss Kitty Fantastico, or something.
      Willow: And we could make kitty go bonkers with string and catnip and stuff?
      Tara: Absolutely.
      Willow: Fun! I'm in.
      Tara: So, you're not allergic or anything.
      Willow: Nope.
      Tara: Good, cause... I want my room to be Willow-friendly.

    • Willow: Tara, I have to tell you-
      Tara: No, I understand. You have to be with the person you l-love.
      Willow: I am.
      Tara: You mean...?
      Willow: I mean... Okay?
      Tara: Oh yes.
      Willow: I feel horrible about everything I've put you through and I'm going to make it up to you. Starting right now.
      Tara: Right now?
      (Willow nods and Tara blows out the candle)

    • Giles: How did you get in?
      Spike: The door was unlocked. You might want to watch that, Rupert. Someone dangerous could get in.
      Buffy: Or, someone formerly dangerous and currently annoying.

  • NOTES (7)

    • In the UK, Buffy usually aired at 7pm, however due to adult content, including the relationship between Willow and Tara, it was delayed until 9pm. This is one of many episodes that were delayed, including "Where The Wild Things Are" and "Hush".

    • Buffy is the first person Willow tells about her relationship with Tara, and this episode officially announces Willow's sexuality.

    • This is the last episode to feature the character Oz, played by Seth Green, as a live character. He later appears in "Restless" (4x22) in Willow's dream sequence. It was rumored that he would have become a recurring character in Angel had there been a sixth season.

    • The New York Daily News referred to this episode as a landmark in TV history. Something really significant happens at the end of the episode, although we don't see it because the scene goes into darkness. However, the dialogue before it makes the episode a landmark not just in Buffy history but TV history as well. Finally, Willow comes out and declares her feelings for Tara.

    • When this episode originally aired in the US, Amber Benson (Tara) received a pretty rough ride from fans because they felt that Tara was responsible for breaking up Willow and Oz's relationship.

    • Although Emma Caulfield is still credited as a guest star until the start of season 5, this episode is her first as an official regular cast member after signing on for season 5 shortly before the episode was filmed.

    • Robert Patrick Benedict who played Jape, Adam's vampire lackey in "Superstar", was credited in the opening guest cast list for "New Moon Rising" but his scenes in the episode were cut.


    • Willow: Like if I'm old and blue-haired, and I turn the corner in Istanbul, and there you are...
      Istanbul is the most crowded and well-known culture city of Turkey. Before it was renamed after being taken over by the turks, it was Constantinople, aka Byzantium, the centerpiece of the Byzantine Empire, which was the successor to the Roman Empire. As such, it has been a crossroads for much of human activity since the time of Christ. In the 50s and 60s it was of strategic significance in the Cold War.

    • Title: New Moon Rising
      This may refer to the novel "Good Moon Rising" by Nancy Garden. In GMR, high school students Jan and Kerry work on a stage production of "The Crucible" (about persecution of witches). Their friendship blossoms into romance, forcing them to accept their own homosexuality and come out as lesbians to their friends and enemies.

    • Buffy: You woke up to a big bowl of Wheaties, and now you're a fugitive.
      Wheaties® is the so-called "Breakfast of Champions®", a 100% Whole Grain cereal made by General Mills. They're recognized by their ever-changing image of an athlete on the front of the box.

    • Buffy: Stay back, or I'll pull a William Burroughs on your leader here.
      Born in 1914, William Seward Burroughs was a writer of the Beat generation. His semi-autobiographical stories generally dealt with his homoerotic urges and drug use, his most famous work being Naked Lunch. After fleeing from the law to Mexico for his drug activities, he showed off his marksmanship to some of his friends by doing his "William Tell act". His common-law wife, Joan Vollmer Adams, placed a glass on her head and he killed her with one shot.

    • Oz: A woman in Tibet traded it to me for the Radiohead record.
      Radiohead is an alternative band from Oxford, who first became famous in the US with the single "Creep," from their album "Pablo Honey" and who later won a Grammy (Best Alternative Album) for "OK Computer".