Now that we’re in Series 4, the traditional opening graveyard scene is obviously going to be replaced by Buffy running through a darkened campus. The Slayer has got her mojo back, she’s staking and punning and there’s no sign of the moping that has characterised the last few eps. But just as Buffy is getting better, Willow’s world starts to fall apart. The first sign of this is Buffy getting a better grade on her Psychology paper than Willow, the second is Willow using the Bronze as a symbol of familiarity, “a big comfy blanky” where nothing changes, just before a tweedless Giles breaks with tradition and arrives (with lattès). Then Shy, the least appropriately named band ever, come on stage, featuring the aptly named Veruca on “albatross” vocals. That big comfy blanky is about to get ripped away from Willow.
Veruca’s animal magnetism is apparent not only to Oz but to the rest of the men as well, as Giles and Xander look on appreciatively. But Oz and Veruca’s primeval lust for each other grows stronger as the full moon approaches until they’re rumbling in the undergrowth, terrifying Professor Walsh, who thinks they are wild dogs (which doesn’t make much sense given her extra-curricular activities). And all Willow thought the two had in common were amps and guitars and fuzzboxes. The musicianese scene is almost more heartbreaking than the later scenes as Willow realises that Veruca connects with her boyf more than she does. Buffy tries to reassure her by telling her that Oz isn’t the type to stray, but that just makes him sound like the dog that he becomes. Willow tries to be pro-active and seduce him in leather, resembling the scene in \"Amends\" where she attempts to get Oz to love her again with Barry White on the turntable and lemonade on ice. Once again, she fails. However, Willow’s infidelities are way in the past as she goes to see Xander to get some support re: her relationship with Oz and not for reassurance that she’s still a sexy chick. It’s kind of clever of Joss and Marti et al to show that Willow’s issues haven’t been cured by University, that despite her confidence in the last few eps (and that “you’ve made a friend: good for you!” crap to Buffy in The Freshman was just nauseating), she can still have her world taken away from her, she can still be the same insecure person she was previously.
Oz and Veruca’s differing opinion toward their wolfness is about lust and that ol’ id stuff they were talking about last week. Oz would rather have love than lust and would prefer it if the wolf was not there at all, Veruca wants to be the lust-monster, is it, all the time, not for just the three days of the full moon. She thinks the human face (the superego) is false whereas Oz represses the wolf-id. However, his grabbing of Veruca in the cage is partly to stop her getting out to kill or be killed but it happens before the transformation – her wolf is an influence on his.
Willow’s skipping down the stairs and then dropping the flask and food as she sees the naked body of her boyf entwined with another is absolutely heartbreaking and I defy anyone not to feel Willow’s emotions at that moment. As she points out to Oz, her transgression, a few snogs with her teenage crush is not the same as discovering her post-coital boyfriend with a she-wolf. Veruca, the hot tattooed chick who likes to eat and who walks around in the all together, the sexual, lustful boyfriend-stealer has to die which is somewhat incongruous in the feminist Buffyverse. She is made badder than bad by wanting to kill Willow (and we see the first sign of vengeful Willow messing with the black arts to try and hex Veruca and Oz - but she is not yet the badass Wicca of S6 and stops her spell; she still loves Oz) and Buffy is spared the moral dilemna of killing a human by having Ozwolf do it. Screw the seductress and then kill her. Hmm.
On top of everything, Oz is not prepared to work at the relationship. Buffy is worried that Willow will copy her actions and deal by running away, but it’s Oz who is leaving for Austin Powers, I mean, the Himalayas. He echoes Veruca’s statement that the wolf is inside him all the time. The wolf can’t be with Willow, the lust is not compatible with his love for her. And just as the Bronze was a metaphor for Willow’s collapsing relationship, we see Oz getting into the van which is a symbol of their early love, where Willow fell for him when they didn’t kiss, but where they did share a pre-graduation sex session and then he drives off in it, never to be seen again. Oh until episode 19.
Another person suffering from a little bout of hubris is Spike who stands above Buffy in the first scene, watching her ask why the powers of darkness aren’t even trying, as she easily kills the pun-less vampire. Ironically, he tells her not to tempt the fates – the Big Bad is Back - just before he gets blasted by one of the commandoes. Uh-oh. The big bad is gone and it’s Hostile 17 from now on. Spike’ll never be the same again.