Buffy the Vampire Slayer S1x06: The Pack – TV Review

I review episode six of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s first Season, entitled The Pack.

S1x06 “The Pack

Buffy the Vampire Slayer S1x06

Okay, I’m going to start off with an apology. I said there was going to be a review of this episode yesterday, but I got distracted.  My day was busier than I thought it would be. And by busy, I mean, in town for the morning, and playing Dead Space 2 (which is an awesome game, by the way – look out for a review when I eventually complete the campaign), FIFA 13 (when my brother got home) & plotting/researching for my current WIP Novel set in London. But anyway, without further delay, let’s crack on with the review.

The Pack is probably one of my favourite episodes of Buffy‘s Season 1, easily sitting in the Top 5 so far (Remember, I’ve still only seen Season 1). It’s dark, and with a seemingly major death of a supporting character, really rams the message home (along with the vampire transformation and subsequent death of Xander’s best friend, Jesse – in The Harvest) that nobody apart from Giles, Willow, Xander and Buffy, and presumably Cordelia as well (unfortunately), are safe. The episode’s main theme somewhat fits in with the whole concept following this series that “High School is Hell”, and explores bullying in a not so subtle way, when a group of bullies lure a student to a closed Hyena den and are therefore possessed. Xander, following the group to save the student, also comes under the spell, and what follows is easily one of the creepiest episodes of Buffy from Season 1.

It certainly pulls no punches with its portrayal of possession, and really shows just how violent the students are when they’re under the influence of the Hyenas. It’s some of the darkest stuff so far, and allows Nicholas Brendon to play a whole different version of the Xander that we know from the past five episodes. He plays a pretty convincing bully here, shedding all connections with what we’ve known and come to expect from the character in the past.

Anthony Head also gets some great comedic relief moments as Giles, delivering an amusing training sequence between him and Buffy that’s one of the lighter scenes in this otherwise dark episode. Giles also gets a pretty big role to play in this episode, like Buffy, Xander and Willow – and no member of the Scooby Gang is cast aside even if Xander and Buffy may get perhaps the biggest attention here.

There was one thing really which I felt didn’t work, and that was the dodge ball sequence, designed to show off the cruelty of the Hyena-possessed students, and it wasn’t really as exciting, dramatic or creepy as when they attempt to eat other people in the episode. One thing that I felt could have been touched on a bit more was that how would the Hyena possessed students deal with the memories of what they’ve done when they’re freed from possession, particularly as Xander can remember everything that he’s done whilst under the spell? It isn’t something that’s really touched on here, nor really brought up in other episodes of Season 1.

Sure, whilst there may be poor acting, and some elements of cheesiness in this episode, I really enjoyed it despite any poor qualities that it had. It’s certainly one of the best of Season 1, as I’ve mentioned earlier. Once again, I’ll apologise for not getting this review up yesterday, but I’m going to try and aim to have a Buffy review up once a day until I’ve caught up. In the meantime, I’m watching Game of Thrones S2, and playing Dead Space 2. Be sure to check back tomorrow though, for my thoughts on Angel, another strong episode of Season 1.

VERDICT: 4/5

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 1 (1997): S1x01: Welcome to the HellmouthS1x02: The HarvestS1x03: WitchS1x04: Teacher’s PetS1x05: Never Kill A Boy on the First DateS1x06: The Pack, S1x07: Angel, S1x08: I Robot… You, Jane, S1x09: The Puppet Show, S1x10: Nightmares, S1x011: Out of Mind, Out of Sight, S1x012: Prophecy Girl

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2 comments on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer S1x06: The Pack – TV Review

  1. This one is an episode that leaves me with mixed feelings. On one hand, definitely an interesting episode, and they tackled some very hard-hitting issues like aggressive sexuality and the pack mentality behind bullying.

    On the other hand, the material in it hits way too close to home for me to feel entirely comfortable with it. Oddly, the bit at the beginning where the bullies were just being jerks and trying to hit nerves made me far more tense than the idea of a bunch of possessed people going cannibalistic. Guess that says a lot about my experience with bullying.

    Though I do like that it didn’t have one of those trite endings that’s seen on so many shows about bullying, where it turns out that the bullies are just misunderstood and lonely and the picked-up kid befriends them in the end. No, the bullies were just jerks. Plain and simple. And I kind of liked that, because it didn’t put that guilt-tripping spin on things whereby the victim almost feels obligated to befriend their attackers or else they’re doing something wrong. It was kind of refreshing to see that.

    …Though I think that might also say a lot about my experience with bullying…

    • I’ve also had lots of experiences with bullies, and I also appreciated the fact that it didn’t have a trite ending. In real life, bullies and the bullied don’t reconcile.

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