Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 8

Pangs

4
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Nov 23, 1999 on The WB
8.7
out of 10
User Rating
569 votes
26

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
After his partner Doyle has a vision of Buffy in trouble, Angel comes to town secretly to make sure she is alright. At the groundbreaking ceremony for a new Cultural Center at the college, Xander falls into a sacred Indian burial area and releases Hus, a vengeance spirit of the Chumash Indians, the original residents of the Sunnydale area. Buffy is determined to have a traditional, home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner, but Xander has come down with a debilitating mystical disease, and people connected to the Cultural Center start dying mysteriously.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • I'm going to be relatively quick with this review because, honestly, there's not much to really say about it.

    8.5
    The main plot is very uninteresting and Angel's return is completely useless, but the episode is so damn funny that I genuinely don't care. Buffy is absolutely adorable, focusing completely on trying to have a successful Thanksgiving dinner while Willow gets all defendy for the Native Americans, Xander gets some mystical syphillis, Anya continues to make me laugh, Giles is highly sarcastic, and Spike joins in on the fun while being tied to a chair. I'm sorry people, but sometimes I have to sit back, put my plot concerns aside, and just enjoy the characters interacting with each other using the trademark witty dialog of this series to its full extent.



    The episode begins with Buffy displaying some progress with her 'honing' abilities that Giles said she should have way back in "Welcome to the Hellmouth". I really like how this scene is completely the opposite of the cliche. Instead of a scared boy running in the woods being surprised and killed by a vampire, it's Buffy with a smile on her face who he sees. Yet in an even more amusing twist, it turns out that for the vampire it is a cliche after all! The vampire's scared in the woods and the Slayer comes out and kills him. I bet that's what sires tell their 'offspring' to spook them when they're young. Very clever writing. It's also worth noting that Buffy senses Angel in the area in this scene as well as two other times in the episode. It continues to show that the connection these two have will likely never fully go away.



    There's a few important things worth noting. One is Buffy's hilarious obsession with having a nice Thanksgiving dinner in which Giles gets stuck with all the cleanup. Buffy is so much fun to watch all episode. She's also cute, cozy, and very adorable. Another thread to note is Willow's protest of Thanksgiving and her reluctance to fight Hus, the avenging spirit. I can buy that Willow would be a little against the holiday, but I think she wanders into the realm of "out of character" when she still shows reluctance to killing Hus after she finds out he's killing Xander with diseases and has killed a teacher and a priest.



    The most important issue involves Spike's entrance to the Scooby Gang as a tied-up prisoner. I love the scenes leading up to that, though, where he's longingly looking in at groups of other vampires feeding on people. It's kind of weird that I feel sorry that a vampire can't kill anyone -- Spike is quite the unique character! I also enjoyed seeing him so lonely that he'd even take Harmony's company and that she's wisened-up a tad and even has a stake under her pillow. Like I mentioned happened in "The Initiative", Spike's subconcious love for Buffy is beginning to affect his decision-making process, and he doesn't even know it yet. Why else we he choose to go to Buffy for a place to stay? He could have just found himself a crypt to hang out in for a while and then steal some blood at the butcher shop to keep himself running.



    The final fight is amusing enough and it ends with a nifty little message from Giles: "Violence does that. Instinct takes Willow also learns this little lesson and is able to enjoy the turkey dinner. The entire post-fight dinner is highly amusing and homely. Spike's tied to a chair watching all of them have a feast and Xander lets loose that Angel was there. That mistake switches to a hilarious shot from Buffy's perspective where the whole group is staring at her. Spike has this huge and highly entertained grin on his face. That pretty much sums up how I feel about the episode.moreless
  • Buffy the Western

    9.0
    The Good;

    The siege of Fort Giles and Buffy's cooking preparations are both excellent. Love Buffy's stetson hat and the Xander digging scene plus the Angel lurking scenes. Favourite though has to be the Scooby cavalry riding to the rescue.



    The Bad;

    In all the dodgy lessons I've learnt from Buffy perhaps the most disturbing is the idea that when threatened by the vengful spirit of a wronged Native American tribe the solution is to wipe them out entirely so you don't have to worry about them any more.



    Best line;

    Spike; "You won, alright? You came in and killed them and took their land....The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons and you massacred them. End of story". Of course Spike is a Victorian, the days when (as Blackadder the 4th put it) "You saw a bloke in a grass skirt you shot him and nicked his country"



    Character death;

    The priest, the professor, the poor guy captured by the vamps. Buffy kills Hus.



    Shot;

    Buffy hit by an arrow as is Spike



    Tied up;

    Spike to the chair



    Women good/men bad;

    Harmony smartens herself up and kicks Spike out, about time too! Whenever you get the die-hard Spikettes I always think they resemble Harmony a lot more than Buffy or Dru.



    Jeez!;

    The poor priest! Hung and has his ear cut off not to mention the professor having her throat slit. Spike considers pictures of famine victims funny, not suprising from a soulless vamp but amazed they left it in. Angel snapping the warrior's neck is also pretty cringeworthy.



    Kinky dinky;

    Anya get's turned on by Xander performing manual labour. Buffy comments that imaginary Xander is 'quite the machine' (she should talk!). Anya also likes the idea of playing nurse for Xander as indeed does Buffy for Riley later and for Angel in both seasons 2 and 3. Xander proposes sex with Anya at the end of the ep by commenting that his syphilis has cleared up. Buffy says she likes her men 'evil', in Get It Done we find out why.



    Calling Captain Subtext;

    Spike compares his inability to kill as akin to being neutered, do we need any more evidence that to vamps biting equals sex? Buffy observes that Xander looks quite Village People. Well, he's been a soldier, construction worker, cowboy, leather clad vamp and this ep is filled with native americans. Just sailor, and cop to go really?



    Guantanamo Bay;

    The Scoobies are quite prepared to let Spike broil



    Scoobies to the ER;

    Poor Xander getting syphilis amongst other diseases



    Where's Dawn?

    Presumably gone to Aunt Arlenes with Joyce. Arlene must be Joyce's sister rather than Hanks?



    Questions and observations;

    Xander has previously been working at Hot-Dog-on-a stick which is where Snyder suggested Buffy work in season 3. He gives the rest of the Scoobs freebies as will Buff at the DMP. Giles and Angel have put their differences behind them. Anya doesn't seem to have met Angel before despite them having been in the same room together in Dopplegangland and The Prom. Buffy seems to have inkling that Angel is near, her vamp sense or something stronger? Buffy comments how one person can make a difference, certainly Dopplegangland proves that. Asian Joe has obviously survived the events of Harsh Light of Day and is in the stands at the ceremony. Sunnydale has been around since 1812 so before the Mayor was around. Still plenty of Anya and Will tension. Why does Riley cam-up his face but not his neck? Xander refers to Anya as his girlfriend. Note the sign saying US Army over Angel's head when Riley is talking to Buffy. Hus rather reminds me of an old ep of the TV series Kolchak;The Night Stalker which apparently inspired the X-files. In fairness to Custer he was actually a lot more sympathectic to the Native Americans than most.

    Marks out of 10; 9/10 I really like this one, perhaps one of the strongest of season 4

    moreless
  • Bottom of the barrel much? One of the episodes I hate the most in the entire Buffyverse.

    5.5
    "Pangs" is definitely an episode that contributes to Season 4 status as having a couple of the worst episodes in the 7 Seasons of Buffy, like the very much hated "Beer Bad". All there is, from the beginning to the end, is a boring and silly episode that contributes nothing to the main arc and that solely exists to set the plot to the Angel episode "I Will Remember You". The only thing that save this episode from complete mediocrity is funny quips by Anya and Spike, both characters who continue to improve more and more every episode.



    Xander releases a Chumash Native American (like Willow would say) who wants revenge because his people were destroyed by white settlers. Boring. You never really care about him and just want his parts to get over. Even Xander getting syphilis, that should be a funny thing for the show, falls flat due to the events of the episode. Angel also comes to town to protect Buffy from some evil, and not being a Bangel fan (hate the whole teen angst thing, sorry), I couldn't care less about that part either. Also, Buffy crazy with the Thanksgiving dinner was nothing like her and I'm glad this is the only Thanksgiving episode of the show (leave them to "Friends").



    The bottom line is that "Pangs" is a very messy episode and one that I won't be watching again for a long, long time. And what was with the bear!?moreless
  • Season 4, Episode 8.

    6.0
    Angel returns to Sunnydale to check on Buffy after his partner Doyle has a vision of her in danger. Xander falls into a sacred Indian burial area and releases Hus, a vengeance spirit of the original residents of the Sunnydale area. Buffy is determined to have a traditional, home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner; however, Xander comes down with a mysterious disease, and people connected to the Cultural Center have died mysteriously.



    I honestly didn't pay attention throughout the whole episode because I was on the phone. The plot is good, I guess, and I liked that Angel returned for Buffy. I kinda liked seeing Xander in danger (yet again) but the whole Thanksgiving thing was boring and stupid. I liked seeing Buffy, Willow, and Anya at the construction site though. Season 4 is pretty bad so far. I expected more from this show.moreless
  • spike and angel makes this a highlight!

    10
    this episode is just fun to watch! coz it was written by jane espenson it's lighthearted and easygoing and definitely enjoyable right from the start. of course one can argue that the whole american/native american history is dealt with a bit disrespectfully, but there are so many things making up for that! anya gets some of the best lines (maybe coz she's espensons favourite...just thinking :)), and spike is just hilarious 'hey, watch the heart!'.. legend! oh and angel's back! thank god not as the whimp he was at the end of season three but the self-aware and ironic angel we know from his spin-off.

    and just to mention: having the scoobies come to save buffy on bikes was amazing!moreless
Margaret Easley

Margaret Easley

Curator

Guest Star

William Vogt

William Vogt

Jamie

Guest Star

Mark Ankeny

Mark Ankeny

Dean Guerrero

Guest Star

Marc Blucas

Marc Blucas

Riley Finn

Recurring Role

Mercedes McNab

Mercedes McNab

Harmony

Recurring Role

Emma Caulfield

Emma Caulfield

Anya

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Goof: In the scene where Anya visits Xander in his basement, she touches his forehead to measure his temperature. Immediately after that she brings her hand to her mouth. The camera changes to a different angle and you can clearly see that the hand covering her mouth has changed position.

    • Goof: During the fight with the Native warriors Giles is shown getting slammed into the hallway wall. At the end of the battle an overhead shot shows Giles getting up off the hallway floor. However, in between those two scenes, as Buffy fights the bear, the hallway can be seen several times, yet neither Giles nor the warrior he was fighting can be seen.

    • It seems odd that Giles would still have a rotary phone in late 1999.

      Then again, this is Giles we're talking about. Up until this season, no one even knew he owned a TV, which happened to be stuck behind piles of books.

    • Goof: When Xander falls into the old mission ruins he lands on his right side with his left arm, covered with dirt, lying on what appears to be a palm log. The camera angle changes and the log is gone and there is a lot less dirt on Xander's arm.

    • In this episode it seems that the bond between Buffy and Angel is still strong because every time Angel is near Buffy she seems to sense his presence, despite his being hidden from her sight.

    • Goof: When Anya goes to get the brandy, she has to walk past Willow and Buffy. In that first shot, it is seen that she is reaching up for the brandy but in the next shot from a different angle, she has not yet reached up for the brandy and that her arm is still down. A second or two later, she raises her arm up to reach for the brandy on the shelf. So it looked as though she tried to grab something that was in the air.

    • Goof: Buffy gets cut on her upper right arm when she is fighting one of the Native Americans. There is a line of blood on her shirt that is there throughout the fight scene, but when Angel sees Buffy through the window just before he leaves, there is clearly no blood on her sleeve.

    • Goof: When Xander is getting up after falling into the pit, you can see the boom mic moving from left to right across the screen.

    • Nitpick: In this episode Anya reacts as though she's never met or seen Angel before, even though they were in the same room together at the end of "Dopplegangland" (when they send Vampire Willow back to her alternate dimension).

    • Goof: When Buffy and the gang are fighting off the Native Americans, Spike is shot with several arrows. However, when they're all eating dinner afterwards there's no holes in Spike's shirt where the arrows were.

    • Nitpick: Spike complains that throughout "an entire siege... you'd think one of you would bleed a little." In fact, Buffy bled twice, she was shot with an arrow and cut with a knife.

  • QUOTES (30)

    • Buffy: (In a last ditch attempt to show Hus times have changed) You have casinos now!

    • Giles: I thought the Chumash were peaceful?
      Willow: Oh they were peaceful all right. They were fluffy indigenous kittens until we came along.

    • Buffy: (to Giles) You're the reason we had to have Pilgrims in the first place.

    • Spike: What part don't you understand about 'help me'?
      Buffy: The part where I help you.

    • Spike: How are you gonna fight any one with that attitude?
      Willow: We don't want to fight any one.
      Buffy: We just want to have Thanksgiving.
      Spike: (laughs) Yeah. good luck!
      Willow: If we could talk to him...
      Spike: You exterminated his race! What could you possibly say that would make him feel better? It's kill or be killed here. Take your bloody pick.

    • Spike: I just can't take all this mamby pamby boo-hooing about the bloody Indians.
      Willow: The preferred term is...
      Spike: You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying, "I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it." The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story.

    • Xander: I think my syphilis is clearing right up.
      Buffy: And they say romance is dead... Or maybe they just wish it.

    • Willow: Well, maybe we started a new tradition this year. (everyone looks at her) Maybe not. But at least we all worked together. It was like old times.
      Xander: Yeah, especially with Angel being here and everything. (everyone looks at Buffy) Oops.

    • Buffy: Wasn't exactly a perfect Thanksgiving.
      Xander: I don't know - seemed kinda right to me. A bunch of anticipation, a big fight, and now we're all sleepy.

    • Willow: I think he thought we were crazy.
      Xander: Well, maybe if Anya hadn't opened the conversation with, "Everybody got both ears?"
      Anya: I liked his wife. She gave me pie.

    • Spike: Willow, tell 'em what I did.
      Willow: You said you were gonna kill me, then Buffy.
      Spike: Yes, bad, but let's skip that part and get to the part where I couldn't bite you.

    • Buffy: Sarcasm accomplishes nothing, Giles.
      Giles: It's sort of an end in itself.
      Xander: Hey, can we come rocketing back to the part about me and my new syphilis?
      Anya: It'll make you blind and insane. But it won't kill you. The smallpox will.

    • Anya: You're going to get vesicles and pustules. They have pictures.
      Xander: I hate this guy.
      Willow: He's just doing what was done to him.
      Xander: I didn't give him syphilis.

    • Willow: Are you sure we shouldn't be helping him?
      Giles: No, I think perhaps we won't help the angry spirit with his rape and pillage and murder.

    • Buffy: We need to boil those and put them through the ricer.
      Giles: I don't think I have a ricer.
      Buffy: You don't have a ricer? What do you mean? How could someone not have a ricer?
      Giles: Well, do you have one at home?
      Buffy: I don't know. What's a ricer?

    • Riley: And I know what you're thinking. It's like I grew up in a Grant Wood painting.
      Buffy: Exactly. If I knew who that was.

    • Buffy: I'm a great cook... in theory. I've eaten a lot.

    • Willow: But you have whipped cream. I saw it in Giles' fridge.
      Buffy: But that's whipped cream in a canister. Look, it's only right if you whip it yourself.
      Willow: Hey, and then later we can churn our own butter, and make sweaters out of sheep.

    • Anya: You're pasty and wet and disgusting. They can dig without you.
      Xander: I don't really feel that bad.
      Anya: I inflicted a lot of putrefying diseases on men when I was an avenging demon. You look like you're getting all of them.
      Xander: Okay, I'll stay. But you should go. You could catch it.
      Anya: We'll die together. It's romantic.

    • Riley: We do this the Professor's way.
      Forrest: (cough) Mama's boy.
      Riley: That's a nasty cough. You might need to spend the weekend in quarantine.

    • Willow: Ooh, we could not invite Anya!
      Buffy: I don't know. She and Xander seem pretty tight lately.
      Willow: Grumble, grumble.

    • Willow: Buffy, earlier you agreed with me about Thanksgiving. It's a sham. It's all about death.
      Buffy: It is a sham. But it's a sham with yams. It's a yam sham.

    • Anya: Look at him.
      Willow: Very... diggy.
      Anya: Soon he'll be sweating. I'm imagining having sex with him again.
      Buffy: Imaginary Xander is quite the machine.

    • Spike: Oh, someone put a stake in me.
      Xander: You've got a lot of volunteers in here.

    • (Buffy fights with a native american spirit, who changes into a large black bear).
      Spike: A bear! You made a bear!
      Buffy: I didn't mean to!
      Spike: Undo it! Undo it!

    • Spike: I came to you in friendship! Well, all right, seething hatred.

    • Spike: Bloody hell, woman! You're cutting off my circulation.
      Buffy: You don't have any circulation.
      Spike: Well, it pinches.

    • Giles: I have reason to believe Buffy herself may be in particular danger from this menace.
      Willow: You mean... Angel? I saw him, too.
      Giles: That's not terribly stealthy of him.
      Willow: I think he's lost his edge.

    • Buffy: So you're telling me what-she killed herself, dumped the body and then cut off the ear?
      Willow: No, she cut the ear off, killed herself then dumped the bod... I'm really off my game.

    • Spike: I'm saying that Spike had a little trip to the vet, and now he doesn't chase the other puppies anymore.

  • NOTES (7)

    • Beginning with this episode there is no longer a wall mounted light to the right of Giles' front door. It has been replaced by a small arch topped window.

    • Seems like Giles knows Buffy pretty well. He tells Angel that Buffy wouldn't think it was fair, that Angel was there without telling Buffy. "It's not fair. You know that's what she'd say. You can see her and she can't see you." This is, in fact, exactly what Buffy says to Angel when she sees him in the Angel episode "I Will Remember You". "What is it? You can see me, but I can't see you? What are we playing here?"

    • Doyle's vision, which sends Angel to Sunnydale, happens at the very end of the Angel episode, ''Bachelor Party'' (1x07). That episode originally aired the week before "Pangs", and the story continued in the next Angel episode, ''I Will Remember You'' (1x08) which aired immediately after this episode.

    • This is the last time Xander and Angel share screentime together.

    • Xander apparently spent a very short time, presumably between last week's episode and this one, working at Hot Dog on a Stick, a hot dog joint common in malls.

    • When Buffy and Willow are talking about Thanksgiving and Buffy says "Everything's different," she looks out the window toward where Angel is hiding right before she says it. Later Angel says the same thing to Willow referring to Buffy and him, so Buffy's comment was probably about Angel more than about Thanksgiving.

    • Since in the episode of Angel called "I Will Remember You" they say Angel was in Sunnydale for three days, and because the last day was Thanksgiving, the events of this episode probably take place from the early morning of November 23th to the night of November 25th, 1999.

  • ALLUSIONS (10)

    • Buffy: Straight up, black hat, tied to the train tracks, soon my electro-ray will destroy Metropolis bad.

      "Black hats" is a term for bad guys. The train tracks comment refers to bad guys in black and white films, who would frequently tie the female lead character to the train tracks. The Metropolis comment refers to the fictional city in which Superman lives and his enemies wreak havoc.

    • Willow: Two seconds of conflict with an indigenous person, and I turn into General Custer.

      This is a reference to General George Armstrong Custer (1839-76). He fought many winning battles against the Indians until his death at Little Bighorn, where he and every soldier under his command were killed by the Sioux Indians.

    • Xander: Hey, Gentle Ben, over here!
      Gentle Ben is the name of a fictional book for children by author Walt Morey, which was later made into a film and TV show in the 1960s, as well as made-for-TV movie in 2002. The story concerns the friendship between the title character, a bear, and a young boy.

    • Riley: What's the line? 'Home's the place that, when you have to go there...
      Buffy: They have to take you in.
      This is a reference to a line from Robert Frost's poem "The Death of the Hired Man." The exact line is: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

    • Buffy: It was more like a riot than a Ralphs.

      Ralphs is a major supermarket chain in the Southern California area, it was founded by George Ralphs in 1873.

    • Anya: So much sexier than the outfit from his last job.
      Willow: Oh, I miss the free hot dogs on sticks.
      A subtle reference to Hot Dog on a Stick, a fast food joint that sells pretty much just corn dogs, French fries, and lemonade. They're notorious for their ridiculous uniforms and hats. Principal Snyder recommended them as a career choice for Buffy in season 3's "Dead Man's Party".

    • Spike: That's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying, 'I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.
      Julius Caesar was the first Roman Emperor and he and his armies swept across Europe and conquered most of the continent. The Latin quotation "Veni, vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered) is often attributed to him.

    • Riley: ...and I know what you're thinking, it's like I grew up in a Grant Wood painting.
      Grant Wood (1891-1942) is an American artist (from Iowa, actually, just like Riley), who painted mainly regionalistic landscapes and portraits. He is most famous for "American Gothic", the long-faced farmer couple, dressed in black, pitchfork between them, farmhouse behind them.

    • Willow: What if it was self-inflicted, like Van Gogh?
      Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90) is an incredibly famous postimpressionist, notorious for having cut off his left earlobe in an attack of dementia. Van Gogh had a history of physical and mental problems, and eventually shot himself.

    • Buffy: Very manly. Not at all Village People.
      The Village People are a band, formed in the 1970s, in which each member dressed as an American icon (a cowboy, an Indian, a cop, a soldier, a biker, and a construction worker). They're probably most famous for their songs "Y.M.C.A." and "Macho Man", which Buffy sang while under Catherine's spell in "Witch".

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