Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 Episode 6

The Pack

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Apr 07, 1997 on The WB

Episode Fan Reviews (66)

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  • Xander's gets Scary and mean

    The Pack shows that animals can posses you in weird ways. Xander is the proof of that. It gets scary and mean but attacks Buffy who then throws a desk at him. Your find out that Xander's pretends that he lost his memory of everything he's done.
  • Too silly a concept for me to enjoy!

    I just couldn't get into that episode as much as the others. There is 2 horrible episodes in the entire show... the one with the bar in later seasons (I forget the name now) and this episode.

    If it was handled a little differently I could have enjoyed it more but overall I found it silly.
  • nobody mess with MY Willow!

    well, what can I say... it really bothers me, but I must admit I'm so not a fan of Xander's own storylines. plus, there are no really good moments... well, I kinda like dodge ball scene but while watching it I want to kick Xander's ass every single time for being such a jerk with Willow, especially for the things he tells her after this freaking game.

    though Nicky is really charming and attractive in this epi -- maybe I am (like Buffy) SO into dangerous guys or maybe it's just the confidence that Xander has here. but it's kinda funny and amazing that all it takes to turn geeky Xander into scary Xander is a liberal splash of hair gel :)

    but still -- my least favorite episode, probably not only in this season, but in the whole series...

    FAVE SCENE: dodge ball.

    FAVE QUOTE: Buffy: Yeah, I often do [take a bath], I'm actually known for it.
  • Xander's back at the center of this story, in another horror movie premise doubling as a metaphor for high school anxieties.

    During a field trip to the zoo, Xander wanders too close to the hyena cage along with a quartet of obnoxious popular kids, and all five of them get zapped with a kind of spiritual transference spell that turns them into a tight-knit band of roving savages, preying on nerds and gradually turning more and more feral. And who's behind the transformation? The lowly zookeeper, who had hoped to get hyena-ed himself.

    Again, I'm going to save one of my major objections to this episode until the "overall thoughts" section, since it's a problem I had with "Teacher's Pet" as well. Instead, I'll note some minor annoyances here, like the way the teenagers look a little silly leaping catlike at their victims, and the way the writers throw away a good potential action sequence when the pack surrounds Buffy during a game of dodgeball, then turns away from her to pummel someone else.

    And yet, even though the analogy of hyenas to high school cliques isn't developed as well as the "sex = icky" theme of "Teacher's Pet," the storytelling in this episode is engaging and a few of the scenes genuinely creepy, as when the Xander-less pack goes after Principal Flutie in his office. If there's one thing nearly all adultsand authority figures in particularfear about kids, it's that there will come a day when children realize that grown-ups feel like frauds, with no real power beyond vague threats. What exactly can the principal do if his students don't obey? In this case, nothing. The pack rips him apart, and Principal Flutie dies. I have to say: I did not see that coming, and I thought it was refreshingly hardcore. A reminder that, to quote De La Soul, "stakes is

    The Flutie-murder alone bumped this episode up half a point, as did the way that this Xander-focused episode ended up being mainly about Willow, a character finally starting to get her due nearly halfway through the first season. Willow has a touching conversation with Buffy at The Bronze about which boys they like and why, and when Dark Xander starts ignoring her and sniffing around Buffy, Willow is deeply and profoundly hurt. Thus far, Buffy The Vampire Slayer has been hit-and-miss in its grasp of high school lifesomething I'll talk more about belowbut there's something hauntingly familiar about the relationship between Xander and Willow, two longtime friends dealing with becoming adults, and developing attractions they can't quite control.
  • Stop Laughing

    This episode is where the weird stuff really starts happening. I love that the series isn't afraid to put its stars in odd situations that would be certain death in other series. The biggest draw back is that viewers will come to expect the crew can get out of any situation, so long as Giles has his books and Buffy kicks some tail. It means that the stakes are likely to skyrocket. It's also a rather dark episode - woo, cannibalism.
  • Best episode so far

    I'm watching from the beginning so don't know what is to come, but this episode was very entertaining. It had good lines, "Dodgeball is such a brutal game... I love it!" and a good performance from a Xander. Also when Xander bullied Willow it's the first time I've been emotionally involved with the characters. Hopefully good things to come.
  • The Pack

    "The Pack" is an odd little piece that is all over the place in terms of quality. There are some moments of gutsiness, moments of cowardice, moments baked in pure clich, and it's all coated in the episodic amnesia that is S1. In some ways the episode reminds me of "The Witch" [1x03] in that it tells a stand-alone story that is firmly in the "high school is hell" mode of making broad statements about the high school experience rather than telling its story through the characters we care about. The episode almost makes it work by having Xander be among the possessed, but it's all thrown away by the end of the episode. Enough teasing, though -- let's get into the meat of it all. ;)

    The central concept behind "The Pack" is in exposing the dark side of social cliques. The pack isolates and preys on the weak and then devours them, made literal here due to the Hellmouth. This concept is set up in the opening sequence, which is written and directed in the most clichd manner possible. Fortunately, the episode's execution of this concept becomes a bit better when filtered through a possessed Xander and his interactions with Buffy and Willow. When Xander lashes out at Willow we later see the after-effect it has on her. On full display is how painful it can be to have a trusted friend seemingly turn on you in an instant something that can actually happen during those teen years, albeit generally not due to hyena possession.

    After Xander has done his damage to Willow he moves onto Buffy, but he's not looking to hurt her emotionally he's looking for something a lot more physical. One interesting bit of information to come out here is that Xander sees Buffy as liking men that are "dangerous and mean, right? Like Angel. Your Mystery Guy. Well, guess who just got mean. " While I can see why Xander might come to this conclusion when looking at Angel, S1's episodic amnesia bites again with Xander acting like Owen from "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" [1x05] never existed. In Owen we have some evidence to support that Buffy can also like a non-threatening nice guy. I do think Buffy likes men who have a bit of mystery about them, but that doesn't necessitate danger or cruelty.

    Things get interesting when the pack, sans Xander, actually eats Principal Flutie while Xander makes an attempt to sexually assault Buffy, both of which combine to make quite a shocking sequence particularly for S1. I very much appreciate the episode's guts in going there, but sadly that appreciation quickly gets diluted by the follow-through. Xander's assault is promptly forgotten by episode's end and never brought up again despite being fertile ground for both character insight and exploration. Principal Flutie's gruesome demise is also pretty washed over in the episodes that follow, with only jokes about it down the road. Speaking of missed opportunities, how about there being absolutely no parallel drawn between the possessed students and Cordelia's often cruel 'pack?'

    To put the final punctuation on my feelings regarding "The Pack," I'll refer to the giant slo-mo scene involving the possessed pack. This is a unique scene, to be sure, but the shot and the music are allowed to continue going on for way too long, to the point of absurdity. It's a bizarre shot that, in the grand scheme of the season and the series, just doesn't end up giving me a lasting impression other than "weird."

    In the end it's a bit difficult to sum up "The Pack." It's decidedly a mixed bag, but what's ultimately damning is like so much of S1 its irrelevance. There are some good ideas thrown around and even a few individually compelling scenes, all of which keep the episode interesting to watch and help hold it together. Sadly, though, there's just not much I find compelling outside of said scenes and ideas as the central theme -- while relatable in a broad sense -- is a mixed bag in execution.

    "The Pack" holds up alright as a stand-alone story (I actually prefer "The Witch" [1x03] in this regard though), but I just can't seem to care much when all is said and done. When events like these don't have follow-up consequences and/or reflection, they lose long-term relevance and all we're left with is an uneven one-off. The light-hearted 'everything is back to normal' attitude at the end of the episode sums up that dissatisfaction for me. If this same basic concept was tossed into the more complex S2 landscape, then I think we'd be looking at an overall much more compelling episode.
  • All hyenas are bullies.

    Has anyone seen the Lion King? Even the hyenas in that movie were bullies. They are definitely not very liked in the animal kingdom.

    Anyway, this episode is basically about the horrors of high school bullying. I personally was able to survive high school without really getting bullied, or maybe that was because I spent most of my time to myself or with close friends of mine that nobody really had the chance to bully me?

    We find the gang at the local zoo for a field trip (ahhh, memories of my own field trip to the zoo, no hyenas though). A group of bullies lure their next victim into the hyena area which is off limits due to a new shipment of wild hyenas. Xander goes in to help the kid out of there, but instead he ends up joining the bullies by becoming possessed by one of the hyenas.

    Xander's attitude starts to change drastically, acting more and more like a hyena (or a bully, whichever way you'd rather see this). At one point he even says to Willow that she has a pasty face, which he would love to never have to see again. Talk about insanely harsh and I wish Buffy kicked his ass on the spot.

    A lot of deep shit happens in this episode, especially with it only being the 6th episode. I just love how this show isn't afraid to show the true horrors of life. People tend to criticize this show for being too dark and cruel, but what they don't realize that it's just being true to life. Life is really this dark and cruel, especially for a teenager in high school. We've all been there, we all know what it's like. Even if you haven't personally been victimized in high school (even by Regina George, I'm sorry I had to say it), I'm sure we all know someone who has, or have once been a by-stander of some form of bullying. It happens whether you like it or not. It's sad, and dark, and cruel, but it's true.

    Another thing that I must point out is the scene between Buffy and Xander. At one point Xander gets rough with her, and we even see a bit of a possible attempted rape. This is so much to handle! And how about the horror of how they all ate a live pig, and the other bullies (not Xander, thank goodness) went cannibalistic on Principal Flutie. Man, I would have loved to have seen the look on people's faces when they first saw this on TV in 1997.

    All in all, a good episode. It has a very nice message of what it's like to be bullied in high school, even though the metaphor was majorly obvious. And I love how the writers weren't afraid to go totally extreme on some of the content.


    The Good;

    Love Buffy and Giles training, you get a genuine sense of menace when Willow is taken hostage for the first time. You' don't see the twist of the zookeeper, he seems so rational although I'm baffled as to what exact power he hoped to gain from the hyena spirits (then again I don't really understand why the Mayor wished to be this big snake?). Great acting from Nic Brendon showing the first of his range (in truth neither Nic nor David are that good actors in season 1 but they grow better)

    The Bad;

    The story is pretty stupid, reminds me of an obscure old series called 'Big Wolf on Campus'

    Best Line;

    Giles; Xander is becoming a teenage boy, you'll have to kill him of course

    Questions and observations;

    The first time someone is imprisoned in the library book cage but by no means the last. Xander trying to force himself on Buffy is unusually disturbing, for a feminist symbol she seems to get sexually assaulted a lot (but maybe that's the point?). It's interesting to compare this with Nic Brendon's unsettlingly convincing perfrormance as a rapist on Private Practice. Another Buffy cliche is a Scooby going evil (by the end of season 7 I think the only characters never to have gone bad were Tara and Giles?). Jennifer Sky plays one of the pack and she was very good as Amarice in Xena (so you can link Buffy to Xena in one if you're ever playing 'Six degrees of Bufferation'). No Cordy (there really isn't room for her) and no Angel. At this point of course he's not a fighter, he really is just cryptic warning guy but of course that really kicks in during the next ep


  • During a school trip to a local zoo, Xander and a bunch of bullies are possessed by the demonic spirit of some quarantined hyenas. Buffy and Willow soon become concerned about Xander's sudden change in personality. Not the best, but still fair...

    This review contains spoilers.

    Although I haven't watched the rest of the season for some years (I'm currently going through them one-by-one on the DVD sets), "The Pack" generally sticks in my mind as being my least-favourite of the first season. Don't get me wrong, it is still a decent tale in itself, but it doesn't really have the sharpness of most other episodes from the period.

    Certainly, "The Pack" is often singled out by some fans as being a weak episode. I think this is a little unfair, as, on its own merits, I still enjoy this one. In my opinion, it is more a case of this episode not matching the high quality of some other stories, more than being a weak episode on its own basis. Heck, if "The Pack" came from any number of weaker shows, it would probably be hailed as a classic!

    This is one of the several first season instalments with no vampires or Master, or reference to the overall season plot. Although some don't like this pattern, I personally don't mind it at all, feeling that it gives these early episodes more variety. It is also one of the first season stories where Angel does not appear (although he is mentioned a lot, in the scene at the Bronze), and Cordelia is also absent.

    "The Pack" is a good Xander-based story (coming after the Xander-centric "Teacher's Pet" a couple of episodes ago). But the real star of this one is Willow. Alyson Hannigan is perfect in this episode, and delivers some of the best lines – I love her innocent questioning of why Xander couldn't have been possessed by something less threatening, "...like a puppy. Or some ducks". Forget Buffy or Cordelia, as a 20 year old when I first saw the series, Willow was the one that I fancied!

    The story itself, which definitely not amongst the early episodes' best offerings, is reasonable, and certainly for the initial viewing, holds the attention. However, I did feel that the overall plot was maybe a little stretched, and could have done with some kind of side-plot to round things out a little.

    But the other main thing of note with this episode is the demise of Principal Flutie, who is literally eaten by the possessed pack. This comes as quite shocking and unexpected. After being presented as a slightly generic grouchy principal in his first couple of episodes, here we get more feeling for the character, as does Buffy, as he tells her of the pride he takes in the school. Although replacement Principal Snyder was okay, I wish that Principal Flutie had continued for longer. (By the way, I did find it highly convenient that Xander was for some reason not present with the rest of the pack when they devoured him. This was never really explained why, but I won't nitpick on this!).

    All-in-all, definitely not one of the early seasons' best episodes, to the extent of many being the weakest of the first season, but at the same time, this is as much down to the other episodes being of such high quality; and I feel that this episode doesn't really deserve the slating that some aim at it. It probably doesn't have the re-watchable value that many other episodes have, but it is a perfectly decent tale in itself. I give "The Pack" a reasonable 8/10.
  • When you see a sign at the zoo to stay out of an area stay out.

    As far as Buffy episodes go. This was really bad.

    Some bullies go into a Hyena exhibit at a zoo an Xander follows them to rescue another another students and then the 4 bully kids and Xander get possesed by Hyenas.

    Sounds like a pretty far out plot.

    So Xander and his buddies go around school being mean to people and eats the school mascot. i don't like to see animals killed even for an effect. so Xander ate a pig and the rest ate the pig and also the principle of the school.

    Don't the teachers and principles have a union r something because working there is kind of dangerous.

    This episode kind of reminded me of street theatre. Ok so act like Hyenas and .... Action.

    Nice ending as well. evil zoo keeper. "I would have gotten away with it to. if it wasn't for you kids and your pesky dog" no wait that's a different movie with sarah michelle gellar in it.
  • Mediocre episode about bullying.

    One of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's major themes in the first three seasons is that high school is hell. This episode takes a very heavy-handed approach to the issue of bullying, but it gets the point across. We start the episode with a group of four especially cruel students bullying a weak classmate at the zoo. Through some admittedly stretched circumstances, both the group of students and Xander end up being possessed by the spirit of African hyenas. They go on the hunt through the school, eventually eating both the school's mascot, a pot-bellied pig posing as a razorback, and Principal Flutie, before being taken down by Buffy, Giles, and Willow.

    While this episode is not the best, it's certainly not deserving of it's terrible reputation. Usually mediocre episodes of Buffy are better than most of what's on your tv now, and this is one of them. The issue explored is universal and especially poignant for high school. The events of the episode don't significantly propel the overall arc of the season, but both Willow's crush on Xander and Xander's crush on Buffy are explored, as well as setting up the arrival of Principal Snyder when Flutie is killed and eaten.

    For all of the flack this episode takes, it does have some significant moments, such as Hyena-Xander's uncomfortably sexual assault of Buffy and the first death of a Sunnydale High principal. The incidents in this episode are referenced many times throughout the next six seasons as well, sometimes in earnest and sometimes in jest. Definitely not top of the line, but there are worse episodes, and this one at least gets a "first season" pass.
  • Xander gets wild.

    This is a good episode that shows Buffy and Willow and Wilder side of Xander. This episode also shows a funny new twist on High school bullies, showing how Bullies give into their animal instincts. This episode also ends with a funny mystery that Buffy and Willow will slowly learn that Xander was lying about his Memory Loss. But unfortunately, they kill off the best principal that Sunnydale High has ever had, Way Better Than Principal Snyder! Giles also makes pretty funny jokes about how Xander is a 16 year old boy. So All In All a pretty great episode!
  • The Pack

    The Pack was another great episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The class is on a field trip to the zoo and some of the school bullies and zander end up getting possessed by quarantined hyenas that just came from Africa. The Pack ends up eating the school mascot, and the principal! On to the next one! This episode gave us more insight into the characters, such as Willow, and her feelings towards Zander. The story itself was cool, and I like the Hyenas in the zoo, very Neverending Story like. I find that the characters fall into their cliche's well.
  • Xander and a small group of students become imbued with the feelings or souls of a pack of hyenas. These creatures are dangerous pack animals and truly create a great threat to the population of Sunnydale and even to Buffy.

    I have been going back over the first few seasons of Buffy and it is amazing the episodes that really stick with you years later. I believe when I first saw this episode I was unimpressed. In the scheme of things it seemed unimportant and just about pack behavior.

    In a lot of ways this episode changed a number of things about this show. First it ended Principal Flutie's reign at Sunnydale High School and ushered in the Principal Snyder character played by Armin Shimmerman. Also the violence or the idea that they literally "ate" the Principal. Pretty heavy duty and sort of took the boundaries off a lot of things.

    I think Xander changed a little as a character as well. He sort of became more of a three dimensional part of the stories. This episode was able to show a tougher different side of Xander that we all know could come out when he needs it too. I guess it is sometimes interesting to go back and see things from a different perspective. I think I really enjoyed this episode much more many years later. Thanks for reading...
  • "Shoot me, stuff me, mount me." Better words have never been spoken.

    This is definitely the best episode of the rather weak first season. I don't know what it is exactly, but the whole idea of this animal possessing people, Xander specifically, is kinda intriguing.

    Kudos to Nick Brendon especially for his excellent acting. His cruelty to Willow and his assault on Buffy were his major highlights. My favorite scene however was when the pack is coming up the stairs to Job's Eye, creeping everyone out, and just that tiny second when Xander scratches his neck and chin. Love that bit. All of his mannerisms are different, slowed down and seductive. How he tries to get Willow to let him out of the cage, pure sex in those eyes.

    And also, the death of Flutie. It was never the same after him. We got Snyder, but then of course Wood, but that takes forever. Flutie was a sweetie. And the pig. Thank god, Xander wasn't there for that. And pretending he forgot, such a Xander thing to do. All in all, the episode is of a much higher caliber than most of the other episodes in this season, essentially saving it.
  • Testosterone is a great equaliser – it turns all men into morons Why couldn’t Xander be possessed by a puppy or some ducks?

    Another Xander episode! Truly, we are spoilt in Season 1. So, so far we know that Willow likes Xander, Xander likes Buffy, Buffy likes – well, she’s attracted to Angel whose jacket she is still wearing. This has all been made clear in Eps 1 – 5; but – playing to Nick Brendan’s strengths and Xander’s character – it’s always been a bit jokey. It’s only in this episode that everything starts to turn nasty. The zoo (never seen before or since) introduces us to Kyle, Tor, Heidi and Rhonda (never seen before or since) – the school bullies. Cordelia isn’t in this episode – it would have been interesting for her to face off with the mean kids, but maybe the pack would have rejected her even nastier character! Equally, it would have been fun if Lance had been Jonathan, but there you go.

    This is another straightforward monster of the week as metaphor episode. Hyena possession = horrible bullying teenagers. There is another, more interesting point however: what do you do if the friend you’ve had all your life suddenly doesn’t like you anymore and wants to hang out with other people that you don’t like or trust or know? Your childhood is suddenly gone; indeed Giles blames hormones for Xander’s behaviour. Willow’s subliminal fears are realised when Xander tells her he no longer cares about geometry so he doesn’t need to be friends with her anymore, he wants to wear evil hairgel and pretend to be Matt Dillon, mooching around with the rest of the Outsiders. Xander sure looks cooler and seems to enjoy being feared rather than laughed at, as is habitual, but he’s lost the ability to do The Right Thing, which is his usual strength. But now he can fight, he can be “dangerous and mean” and he finally sees himself as the equal of Buffy and if she won’t give him what he wants, he’ll try to get it anyway. His behaviour is somewhat similar to a vampire’s – he has no remorse or conscience – until he is un-hyena’d and then he is so embarrassed by his actions that he pretends to have amnesia. He may have this darker side, but it is usually kept very much under wraps.

    The dodgeball scene is truly frightening - the rain, the silence, Xander’s black blank stare, Willow’s hurt – and then the closing in on Buffy, only for the pack to turn instead on Lance – classic bully action; they know he is weaker than Buffy. Buffy is only perceived to be weak by Xander when he is a sexual predator rather than a physical one; otherwise he turns his bullying attentions on Willow and this is much her episode as his – her stoic acceptance of Xander’s behaviour, her hurt and vulnerability – and her intelligence. In a foretaster of the times she will spend guarding the cage in the library when it’s Oz’s time of the month, she tests Xander by pretending to be fooled by him without letting him out of his temporary prison.

    Another person perceived frail is Principal Flutie; first of all the pack kill and eat his symbol of school spirit, Herbert the Piglet, and then they kill and eat him. Luckily, Xander is elsewhere (trying to get on top of Buffy) when this is taking place; saving him from the harm of having killed someone. This doesn’t seem to bother Buffy however. The zookeeper (clad in Masai ceremonial garb - with glasses and dyed beard) may have been chucked accidentally by the slayer into the hyena cage, but his death doesn’t seem to weigh too heavy on Buffy’s, Giles’s or anyone else’s mind. Is it OK to kill a human in the Buffyverse if they’re Bad?

    Fortunately no-one has to kill Xander. He redeems himself and his spiteful actions by saving Willow from the evil zookeeper and his evil knife, the pack run away, possibly to another school – we know Snyder wouldn’t stand for – well, any of this.
  • The guide to who likes who in Scoobie-land. And some Hyena stuff.

    This episode get's straight to the point with one of it's main themes... bullying. Buffy is verbally set upon by a gang on a school trip to the SunnyD zoo. Not only do they tease her for her lack of friends, but also for her violent nature, "Careful! She might beat you up!" thus highlighting the fact that the slayer has, over the last five episodes, built up somewhat of a reputation, although she has obviously not given away her secret identity. This reputation will take a more positive form come The Prom, as Buffy is awarded the "Class Protector" award. Therefore, continuity-wise, this is a nice early example of her un-spoken status. Continuing with the review...

    After the gang then target a Jonathon-type victim (a pitty it wasn't him) Xander commendably decides to take on the mean gang solo, as he follows them into a Hyena House. Xander then saves the day, and they all make-up and go to the bronze. HOLD ON...that doesn't happen, because this is Sunnydale and it has a hellmouth. What actually happens is that Xander and the gang (that consists of two girls and two guys) are all subject to a nasty "Hyena Possession". But you probably already know that, since you are probably a BtVS fan looking up other fans views!

    While the possession takes place rather abruptly, it at least gets straight to the point in terms of the episode's plot. The Steven Spielberg-type zoo keeper provides us with quite a scary hyena related story, "They follow humans around by day, learning their names. At night, when the campfire dies, they call out to a person. Once they separate him, the pack devours them". I think this is a great way of unsettling the audience.

    The possession conveniently builds up gradually in it's level of power over the victim, which is just as well because this allows for some great scenes with Xander and his fellow scoobs. Especially Willow. The wonderfully upsetting moment where Xander tells Willow that he doesn't want to look at her "pasty face" is made more hurtful due to the fact that Willow has just told Buffy that Xander "makes my head go tingly" and that she's so into him, she knows his blood pressure, "130 over 80"(!). Alyson is painful to watch as she hears Xander's shocking insult. For all she knows Xander has just changed, hyena possession is not yet on the cards, Xander has simply been acting different; sniffing Buffy's hair, hanging with bullies and aggressively not liking homework, even if he is, as she tells him, destined to be the guy that sweeps up at the pizza place (or the delivery guy at the pizza place to be precise, if his season four job is noted)if he doesn't do it.

    The Dodge-ball scene is impressively done. Words are not needed for the actors to establish anything here. The violence of the game, the looks from Xander and the hyena gang, the sadness of Willow, the shock and anger of Buffy. It's a great way to put all the current dynamics of the characters and the situations on show. Although disturbing, there is also an amusing element provided by the teacher/coach, "God this game is brutal. I love it!"

    Xander's feelings for Buffy become very animated as he literally tries to jump her bones. This at a time when she has strongly admitted a romantic interest in Angel whilst discussing boys with Willow. The struggle between Buffy and hyena-Xander contains a very vital piece of foreshadowing, "We both know what you really want. You want danger, don't cha? You like your men dangerous" an opinion that will hold strong with every Buffy boyfriend, from Angel to vamp bite(e)-junkie Riley, all the way through to William the Bloody. Luckily Buffy is more than a match for Xander physically, not that we would have got a "Seeing Red" moment at this point in the show if she wasn't. Xander is also lucky again, as this scene interplays with the murder of Principal Flutie, thankfully putting Xander out of the picture.

    I was gutted to see Flutie go. Or murdered to be exact. This episode played for extra sympathy as it gave us some really great Flutie scenes. His anger at the Hyena bullies certainly worked in his favour (in terms of creating sympathy, and not if you look at it from the perspective that they killed him). Although Flutie was a little bit of a push-over when it came to discipline, as seen at the zoo, he showed that he genuinely cared for his students. He may have been a bit niave in his quest for a family-environment within the school, and as gracious as a clown with his constant baffling. But he always *tried* to relate to his students, like his piglet mascot idea, which unfortunately also ended very bloodily. When the camera zooms-in on Flutie's photograph as he is being eaten alive by the hyena gang, I must admit, I almost shed a tear. His innocent, smiley face being shown at the same time as we witness (through sound) his death is extremely saddening. It makes you see him as a person as opposed to just this weeks victim. Thank goodness he was replaced by Snyder. Who although evil, is undeniably super! Rest in peace Principal Flutie.

    Giles provides some pleasing comedy moments. He is reluctant to think that something supernatural is afoot as he falsely concludes that Xander is merely suffering from the affects of teenage testosterone (metaphorically, he is probably right). Buffy amusingly questions his questioning of her, "I cannot believe that you of all people are trying to Scully-me". A great use of pop-culture referencing if ever I saw one. Once the death of the piglet is made common knowledge he quickly sets his wrongs to right as Willow asks, "What are you gonna do?" Giles replies in short, "Get my books. Look stuff up"

    Joss tricks us again by leaving the zoo-keeper as this episode's source of a mislead. Giles must suffer one of his famous "knocking-outs" to liven up our final show-down as Willow is given one of her famous "put-in-danger" moments. Buffy is then given one of her famous "gets-there-in-the-nick-of-time" entrances as she succeeds in stopping the evil zoo-keeper. He is left to the fate of irony as he finally gets to join the hyena's, only to be eaten by them. Buffy has not prevented a human death, even though she *did* try, as opposed to the popular belief that she caused it. Xander is essentially shown in a redeeming light as his first reaction post-hyena boy is to save Willow. All is restored in Buffy-world. Though, I must add, much has been revealed. Willow still likes Xander, Xander *really* likes Buffy, Xander is aware that Buffy *really* likes Angel, Buffy is aware that Willow *really* likes Xander, Willow is aware that Buffy *really* likes Angel, and Buffy should be aware, but isn't quite because of what happens in Prophecy girl, that Xander *really* likes her. Oh, and some zoo-keepers are *really* bad people.

    A *really* good episode.
  • Season 1, Episode 6.

    While on the annual trip to the zoo, Xander goes into the off-limits hyena pen with this weird kid Lance, some cool girls, and two sexy cool guys (the one with the light hair was sexier. Rawr). I liked this episode. The principal died! Hehe I like that they killed the principal. Now, what would the principal say if he walked into the library and saw Buffy using Giles as her punching bag? I can't believe the principal got a pig for a school mascot. Wow. Not a bad episode though. I really like how season one is turning out. A season two basically seems like a definite. Good episode.
  • A great episode if you can get past the fake looking hyena

    I just rewatched this episode after having not seen it for years. I remember that I liked it, but it wasn't one of my favorites. Rewatching it, I found that it is a very good episode. Due to the low budget that they had to work with, the hyena at the beginning of the episode is very fake looking. However, getting past that the episode has a pretty decent story with a couple of unpredictable moments. Also, the music and dialog are again great. I love the line about the "heimlich with stripes". I also liked the darkness of the episode which was enhanced by good musical choices.
  • I think this episode is a little silly and stupid, and not only is it, in my opinion, the worst episode of the first season, but one of my least favourite episodes in the entire series. It has no redeeming qualities for me.

    I thought this episode was silly and stupid and I can't believe Buffy the Vampire Slayer came up with this. I think animal possession is a terrible idea. I'd rather watch Buffy fight a demon and a vampire than have to try and depossess her friend. The only thing that makes this episode not a 0 is Nicholas Brendan's acting. It was amazing and it really stood out for me. I liked how he made Willow cry and tried to assault Buffy because it was so out of character for him, and Nicholas played the part so well. For me, this episode is the weakest of the entire first season and I will only ever watch this episode once in a blue moon because, in my opinion, it's stupid and silly and doesn't even deserve to be on the show.
  • Where going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How about you, you, you!

    Buffy's first really good episode comes with "The Pack" an episode that sold me with this show 100%. I found the zoo location to be cool and something new. I loved the Xander character even more in this episode and it was funny. The first funny episode actually. The plot could have had a lot of cheese but it really doesn't. Principal Flutie dies in this episode which was good because he paves the way for something better. The action is also really good in this episode and the show gets to show what a good and but not special episode is like. My first favorite!
  • Xander and some mean kids get possessed by demonic hyenas.

    Buffy and her class go on a trip to the zoo where Xander and some mean kids go into the quarantined hyena house.There they all get possessed by the demonic hyenas and Xander turns mean and starts hanging out with the mean kids.As his personality changes,Buffy notices and decides to do something about it.Willow,Buffy and Giles go to the zookeeper in order to perform a transpossession on the students but it turns out he just wants to possessed by the hyenas.Buffy defeats the zookeeper and Xander goes back to his normal self.One of the best season one episodes in my opinion.
  • Some bold writing choices, but a bit tough to swallow.

    I found the premise of this episode fairly hard to believe, especially considering that the Buffy universe thus far seems so similar to our own that the supernatural aspect of it still jars me. However, some major suspension of disbelief allowed me to enjoy this episode more than most so far.

    The writers made bold choices, as usual, maintaining the respectable "anything can happen" vibe of the show. But the best thing about "The Pack" was that it highlighted some of my problems with the series so far, ostensibly in order to eliminate them. The most glaring example is that of the principal, whose character did not seem to fit the series--well, this episode solved that problem. Also, the love triangle was addressed directly in this installment, in a way that should put a stop to beating around the bush on both prongs, though you never know with serials. This episode didn't exactly sell me on the series, but at least it was an entertaining hour of TV.
  • Bizarro Xander and The Winged Monkeys

    The Pack-While enduring the annual field trip to the zoo, Xander and several other students enter the quarantined Hyena pen and become possessed by the demonic spirit of the wild animals. When Buffy notices a significant change in Xander's personality, she must figure out what happened and how to reverse it before something terrible happens.

    Now, the idea of animal possession is great, but the idea of a bunch of Abecrombie and Finch model-looking actors trying to act vicious for a whole hour is not so much. Nicholas Brenden acually does pretty good but other four that make up the rest of the pack including an a then unknown Jennifer Sky are hardly convincing. They look like they got their parts for looking pretty than for being actual good actors. But there are some redeeming parts like Willow being upset after Xander made fun of her. I think anytime Willow cries is heartbreaking because...well...Alyson Hannigan is that good. Also, watching Xander trying to hurt Buffy and witnessing Principal Flutie's death were pretty good scenes. It's also a funny conclusion how Xander lies about loosing his memory during the possession to Buffy and Willow only for him to have remember the whole ting and Giles keeping his secret. All and All, the typical monster of the week episode with nothing too interesting going on.
  • One of the best Xander episodes of the entire series.

    Despite being one of the first episodes of the series, it is probably the best Xander character episode. Why? Because it shows a confident, dangerous – and let's face it, sexy - Xander we didn't see again in the series… except maybe during 'Halloween' when he was cool Soldier Boy, but even then he was a 'good guy'. We see not only what Xander is capable of, but his actor Brendan too. In the early seasons, Xander was a firm favorite of mine and here he was still innocent and sweet which makes Brendan's subtle acting in the episode all the more fascinating.

    The part I enjoy most is how of the group, it is Xander who is the natural leader here and the others follow him from the first. Every time something happens, they look to Xander for what to do. Xander is usually viewed as the loser, the klutz but here he is undisputed leader. Xander displays unexpected leadership qualities here which were only brought in again far, far on in the series, many seasons from here.

    Displaying predator-like qualities, the entire group devolves to more basic instincts and Xander's instincts naturally turn his usually harmless infatuation with Buffy into something extremely sinister and Buffy handles it with her usually tact and finesse… she hits him with a desk.

    The most troubling aspect of his behaviour stems not from trying his hand at felony sexual assault, but from the hyena turning on the weak, in this case Willow. Her gentle, sweet love for Xander leads him to pick on her, in a humiliating and very mean way. Xander's only recourse afterwards is to claim memory loss, which Giles realizes isn't the case but agrees to keep Xander's secret.

    This is the final appearance of Principle Flutie… because he got eaten. Pity, he was the only decent principle the gang ever had. However, his unfortunate demise opens the door to one of the most eccentric but repulsive characters we loved: Snyder.

    An excellent alternate-personality episode which – like the rest of Buffy – has stood the test of time and despite being such an early episode, due to the characters being established very quickly in the series, it works wonderfully into Xander's character for future episodes.
  • Xander is taken over by a animal spirit.

    This is one of those episodes that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I couldn't look away for even a second. It was one of those episodes that you were like you thought you knew what was going to happen next and then it does something you were least expecting. I was one of the greatest episodes ever.
  • Xander becoming a hyena boy, the butt of jokes to come way into the series.

    The Pack was a very fun episode to watch. It really was a Xander spotlight episode. Xander, being the nice guy he is, goes into the hyena pit to help save a nerdy boy from four popular kids. There act of aggression releases the hyena spirits into the five of them (the nerdy kid ran away). For the remainder of the episode (until right near the end), Xander possession becomes more and more obvious. The reason why I like this episode so much is because it gave a completely different spin on things. It was original, (hyena possession not usually seen on TV) and it gave the viewers a chance to see Xander as a more aggressive male figure. Great addition to an already awesome show.
  • I can’t believe you of all people are trying to Scully me.

    - It was like the Heimlich, with stripes –

    The pack has always stood out as one of my least favorite Buffy episodes. Not because it’s particularly bad. I like the way it’s executed; I love the Xander/Willow interaction and the fact that it’s not all hugs and puppies. No, what I dislike about it (aside from a somewhat corny plot, which I can overlook) is the creepiness factor. I mean, I do like my Buffy dark and the more horror episodes are always fun, but I think The Pack has too much of it.

    The creepiness is always there, and throughout the episode I always have this uneasy feeling in my stomach that I rarely connect with Buffy. The mood of darkness mixed with comedy that usually exists in Buffy’s episode is off in this episode. Plus, the principal eatage is just barf-worthy. I also really liked Flutie, and I hated to see him go.

    I really loathed The Pack itself, before the hyena thing. They were just nerdy and not at all threatening. The real bullies that terrify you in school are at least not that stupid and annoying. However, I did adore the way Buffy just brushed them off.

    In the end, I can enjoy watching The Pack, and I definitely appreciate the fact that it’s not mindless. It is a very smart episode that’s executed in a good way. But the general ickyness and the rather unoriginal animal-possession turns me off. The Primal guy is great though. Just the right amount of creep. A good episode, but not the best.
  • This episode is gold!!

    I had to watch this episode again because it’s so good. I’m a Nation Geographic Video/Magazine watcher/reader and I must say, the writers and directors and producers and actors/actresses did a great job portraying hyenas in human form. Giles’ comment about Xander being a teenage boy (when Buffy was listing the symptoms of Xander’s weird behaviour) was funny.

    Eating the pig I understand, but the principal? Ick. I thought they were going to eat that mom and her baby, but they didn’t. Probably just as well. They really did a wicked job with the resting scene then the Xander Rescue Mission scene – if you will. Poor Willow, being bullied by Xander of all people. I can see why Xander would try to get it on with Buffy. She has an Alpha Female air around her. This is definitely one of my favourites.
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