I love the way The Call of the Wild frames this episode. Buffy’s voiceover sets the mood in much the same way that Angelus did in “Passion.”
It’s a tale of three beasts – two good and one evil. When Xander falls asleep on Oz duty, and a fellow student is killed in what looks to be an animal attack, the gang concludes that werewolf Oz may have done it. Though I’m puzzled that no one wondered why a werewolf would crawl back through the window and sit in a cage waiting for morning.
With Pete and Debbie being Scott’s friends, they were able to ease into the episode without screaming potential villains and/or victims (their appearance did at least whisper that, though). And Pete’s snide remarks about Buffy made you hope he would be one of the two.
And of course you know Mr. Platt will end up being a victim, because he connects with Buffy. I hate it when Buffy comes in to talk with him, almost in tears, only to find out that he’s dead. I wonder if she thought of him, years later, when she became a school counselor herself.
The scene in the morgue was hilarious. First, you have Willow keeping her evidence-gathering supplies in a Scooby-Doo lunchbox (a fun tip to the group that gave the Scooby gang of this show their moniker). Then Xander comes up behind her and is freaked out by the dead body. Then Cordelia walks into the room and scares Xander:
Xander: We’re doing crime here. You don’t sneak up during crime.
And she in turn is even more freaked out by the corpse. Willow remains all business until it gets to her and she suddenly faints.
Angel’s reappearance sends Buffy reeling. After knocking him out in his beast-like state and chaining him up in the mansion, she heads to the library to do research. Giles finds her there in the morning. (By the way, when Xander confesses that he fell asleep while watching Oz, Giles yells at him. But when he finds Buffy asleep when she should have been doing the same thing, he doesn’t even bring it up. Or did he assume Faith was there the whole night?) Buffy says she had a vivid dream about Angel returning to explain why she’s looking through the books.
Buffy: Is there a chance even? Could it happen?
Giles: Well, there’s no record of anyone returning from a demon dimension once the… gate was closed. I can’t imagine how it could happen or-or why.
Buffy: Let’s just pretend for a second that… Angel somehow found his way back to Sunnydale. What would he be like?
Giles: I really can’t say. From what is known about that dimension, it would suggest a world of… brutal torment. And time moves quite differently there, so…
Buffy: I remember. So he would’ve been down there for hundreds of years.
Buffy: Of torture.
Giles: It would take someone of extraordinary will and character to survive that and retain any semblance of self. Most likely, he’d be a monster.
Buffy: A lost cause.
Giles: Maybe. Maybe not. In my experience, there are two types of monster. The first can be redeemed, or more importantly, wants to be redeemed.
Buffy: And the second type?
Giles: The second is void of humanity, cannot respond to reason… or love.
Hmm, that whole idea of a monster wanting to be redeemed . . . does that explain Spike? The “void of humanity” phrase seems to point back to the Judge – he sensed the humanity in Spike but not in Angelus. (And I think Angel’s vs. Spike’s methods of regaining a soul would add an interesting twist to a predestination vs. free will theological debate.)
I wish the show had a better way of visually portraying werewolves – their “man in a furry suit” approach makes Oz and Pete’s fight seem laughable. But I love how Angel’s first sane actions are defending Buffy – and the first word he speaks is her name.