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.