Thursday, March 24, 2011

Buffy: The Pack (1.6)

It's pretty easy to dismiss The Pack as just another of season one's dumber episodes. You'd certainly have a point, though. I mean, come on, possessed by demonic hyenas? It's pretty stupid. But away from the ridiculousness of the concept, it's important to note that the episode isn't afraid of creating truly ugly moments that are both aggressive and disturbing. Xander's cruelty is especially nasty, not written as teen-show "Xander's acting weird" behavior, but as destructive and upsetting in how personal it is. His attitude towards Willow, which borders on abusive, is especially tough to watch, unloading his anger on her and degrading her both physically and mentally. In that regards, the episode is successfully affecting.

Equally effective is the death of Principal Flutie, a relatively nice guy who just wanted the best for his school. There's something about the pack of kids crawling all over him and tearing him apart that is truly chilling, even if there's still that element of black comedy to the scene. "They just ate the principal!"... that kind of thing.

There are certainly problems, though. Like Never Kill a Boy on the First Date, there's a definite pacing problem throughout the third act, with lots of running and screaming, while the characterization of the 'pack' before they were possessed is a little clumsy. There are mean kids in every high school, obviously, but who really goes around in a little group being abusive to literally everyone they stumble into? Heh.

The Pack isn't totally strong as an episode, but it contains a mean streak that makes it pretty absorbing. It's not pretty, it's frequently disturbing, and for that it deserves a better reputation than the one it seems to have been cursed with. B-

Guest stars Ken Lerner (Principal Bob Flutie); Eion Bailey (Kyle DuFours); Michael McRaine (Rhonda Kelley); Brian Gross (Tor Hauer); Jennifer Sky (Heidi Barrie); Jeff Maynard (Lance); James Stephens (Dr. Weirick)
Writers Matt Kiene, Joe Reinkemeyer Director Bruce Seth Green


  1. I didn't realise that this ep didn't have a great reputation. It's actually one of my faves from the first season. If nothing else, Nick Brendon's performance should bump the rating a little. To go from the nerdy teen that he has been, to leader of the pack, is an incredible thing to watch

  2. I don't think it has the greatest rep, but a bunch of people seem to dislike the goofiness of season one in general, at least in terms of ideas. But I always found it sort of charming.

    Thanks for the comment, Chantarelle.