Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 19

New Moon Rising

3
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 02, 2000 on The WB
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Episode Fan Reviews (19)

8.7
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  • "The one thing that brings it out is you" - Oz

    9.2
    The wolf is back! And he’s been on a Tibetan anger management course. However, what he has come back for is no longer available - we now know that Tara and Willow’s relationship is not ambiguous; they are proper lesbians: they’re talking about getting a cat. That and the fact that Oz can smell Willow on Tara.

    This ep revisits themes brought up in Phases when Buffy et al confront the furrier/hunter regarding his belief that werewolves are just animals. This time it’s Riley who has the black and white viewpoint – “demons bad, humans good” - and he berates Willow for having gone out with a werewolf. “I didn’t think she was that kind of girl,” he opines, making a racial analogy. Buffy runs with this, pouting that she “never knew that [you] were such a bigot”. She is of course thinking about her relationship with Angel and it’s interesting that the fighters of hellmouth evil have all gone out with those from the netherworld, be they vamp, wolf or ex-demon.

    The Scoobies’ second loves have a lot to live up to: Angel, Oz and Faith were all spectacular in their way. We are shown clearly the difference between Oz and Tara when Willow says she’s just been in the “same old Sunnydale” whilst Oz has been travelling the world. Her love of Oz was always based on admiration and as a contrast, we see how Tara at her first Scooby meeting is patronised by Willow as she over-explains everything to her girlfriend. Joss et al go overboard in forcing us to be sympathetic to Tara as she is portrayed as the outsider and then “dumped” as Willow and Oz spend some quality time together. Tara, however, is prepared to let Willow go; her love is self-sacrificial and generous which contrasts with Oz’s possessive anger. In the end though, Oz can also let Willow go because he loves her and doesn’t want to hurt her. He may find it ironic that it is she who brings out the wolf (the sexual aggression) in him, but the larger irony is that after all the pain Willow felt when he left, she no longer yearns for Oz. You don’t get what you want ‘til you don’t want it anymore. Willow only brings out the confidence, power and selflessness in Tara - and Tara is no longer second best. There’s a sly political message here – lesbianism wasn’t an experiment until a man turned up: Tara is the true love, the soft feminine altruistic love, not the wild animal masculine love. And Oz and Willow say goodbye in the van, where their love began in S2 and ended 13 eps ago. But after all the pain, there’s a happy ending:– when Tara tells Willow that she should be with the one she loves, Willow replies: “I am.”

    Buffy and Xander are oblivious to the change in Willow, and Buffy is as wigged out by Willow’s new relationship as Riley was by her old boyfriend. Buffy’s awkward “That’s great, Will,” (whilst jumping off the bed) shows her embarrassment until her friendship kicks in and she is sincere with her friend.

    She, meanwhile has to come out too - to Riley re: Angel. Riley, like Willow, has had to make a choice, and like Tara he has to be heroic. His army training has made him “colourblind”, unable to see the greys, and it’s his fondness for Willow and (finally) respect for her previous love-choice that is the catalyst for him finally quitting the Initiative. His CO tells him that he could have gone “right to the top” in order to show us what Riley is sacrificing for a) love and b) his sense of right and wrong, rather than a notion of black and white. Colonel McNamara tells Riley that the Scoobs are “too backwards for the real world”, once again bringing up the theme of Magicks vs Science that is prevalent throughout Series 4. He calls Riley an “Anarchist”, with which Riley concurs as he punches out the Colonel and whilst he might have misunderstood the notion of anarchism, it’s interesting that it’s co-operative power and mutual aid magic (not Science) that beats Adam.

    Even Anya is a hero and a worthy Scooby-honey in this ep as she helps power down the Initiative bunker so Buffy can rescue Riley and Oz - except it was Adam who really did it, his screen time reduced to some unhilarious quips and his recruitment of Spike. We see that Adam is not, as Willow put it, like Martin Luther King, bringing the demon/vamp races together, but a Hitler, wanting a war between the assembled “Ayran” demons/vamps and the humans. Spike has wormed his way back into the Scoobies and found the plot device back door – to be continued next time…..
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