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Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 1, Episode 6
The Pack New
Air date April 7, 1997 (USA)
Written by Matt Kiene
Joe Reinkemeyer
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Episode Guide
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"Never Kill a Boy on the First Date"
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"Angel"
Cast
Starring
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Ken Lerner Principal Flutie
Eion Bailey Kyle
Michael McCraine Rhonda
Brian Gross Tor
Jennifer Sky Heidi
Jeff Maynard Lance
James Stephens Doctor Weirick
Co Starring
David Brisbin Mr. Anderson
Barbara K. Whinnery Mrs. Anderson
Gregory White Coach Herrold
Justin Jon Ross Joey
Jeffrey Steven Smith Adam
Patrese Borem Young Woman

"The Pack" is the sixth episode of the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is the sixth episode overall. It was directed by Bruce Seth Green and written by Matt Kiene and Joe Reinkemeyer. It originally broadcasted on April 7, 1997.

Xander and several other students are possessed by the spirit of a demonic breed of hyenas that wreak havoc on Sunnydale High School.

Synopsis

Pack

Xander and The Pack

The students of Sunnydale High are on a field trip, this time to the zoo. Buffy is confronted by a group of bullies that pick on her because she was kicked out of her old school and her violent tendencies that started it. Buffy shrugs their insults off and they target another student, Lance, likening a visit to the zoo as a family reunion to him. When Principal Flutie interrupts, Lance doesn't rat on them, so they decide to include him in their exploration of the off-limits hyena exhibit. Buffy is met with Xander and Willow who express their enjoyment at the zoo while Buffy doesn't find it so as it was done at her old school. Xander reminds her that going to the zoo is not only fun for seeing animals, but for missing school. Buffy then changes her mind.

Upon seeing the bullies enter the exhibit with Lance, Buffy tries to intervene to make sure everything is okay but Xander offers to do it himself as it is a non-slayer related problem. Just as Xander enters, Buffy and Willow realize Xander would not be able to deal with it and try to follow but they are stopped by the zookeeper who tells them the the hyenas are on quarantine. He also tells them that according to ancient myths hyenas would call peoples' names in order to fool and then devour them.

At the exhibit, the male half of the bully gang try to throw Lance into the pit where the vicious hyena is. Xander comes just in time and saves Lance. But, as soon as he arrives it is realized they are standing on a tribal hyena symbol, making all students, save for Lance, get possessed by the evil spirits of the hyenas.

The next day at the Bronze, Willow is eagerly waiting for Xander. Buffy acknowledges Willow's strong infatuation with Xander while Willow then brings up Buffy's interest in Angel as she is currently wearing his leather jacket. Buffy admits to finding him very attractive but says she couldn't start a relationship with someone who's nearly never there and whose main interest is fighting vampires. Willow then announces someone has just arrived, Buffy looks in hope that it is Angel but it turns out to just be Xander. Xander is acting strangely and takes some of Buffy's food without asking, growing very hungry and is not impressed with Buffy's croissant. He also takes notice that Buffy has bathed, to which she replies that she regularly does. They see the bullies from the zoo making fun of someone a table away and Xander laughs at their cruel joke.

At Sunnydale High, Giles trains Buffy and excuses her as he needs the feelings to return to his arms. Principal Flutie chases a small pig runs through the school halls, causing chaos until Buffy picks it up. Principal Flutie then introduces the pig as "Herbert the Pig", the new school mascot for the razorbacks. At the quad, Willow is tutoring Xander in geometry and he, believing he will never understand it, leaves her behind. As Buffy returns Herbert to his cage, Xander walks past, putting fear into Herbert.

Buffy's class is at the Gym. Coach Herrold announces that, because it's raining, all regular gym classes have been postponed, meaning they have to play dodge ball. Buffy and Willow are placed in the same team while Xander is in the opposition along with the bullies. During the game, Xander and the bullies beat everyone on Buffy's team, including Willow which Xander does harshly. Buffy is the only one left, so instead of targeting her, Xander and the bullies throw their balls at Lance who is on their team, and Buffy goes over and helps him up.

Willow confronts Xander about his recent behavior. Xander says it's because he's changed and so have his feelings for Willow. As Willow looks excited, Xander rudely claims he will drop geometry so he will no longer need her tutoring, thus not having to look at her. Xander and the bullies behind him laugh as Willow becomes upset. Buffy approaches Xander, asking if he has something to say to her, the girl he is attracted to. Xander just laughs even louder at them and leaves. Xander and the bullies, now known as "the pack", are hungry. They take the hot dogs from other students (claiming they're "sharing"). Still hungry, they enter the faculty room where Herbert is in his cage. They close the blinds and Xander announces "Let's do Lunch".

Willow cries about what Xander said. Buffy says something is wrong with Xander but Willow thinks something is wrong with herself, telling Buffy that Xander is not as rude to Buffy as he is to her, his attraction apparently has grown to sniffing her. Buffy deduces something is weird and decides to consult the expert on weird.

Buffy tells Giles of Xander's change in behavior, clothing, treatment to others and his new friends. Giles, however, brushes it off as normal teenage male behavior caused by testosterone, saying he is likely to "prey on the weak". This phrase takes Buffy back to her conversation with the zookeeper and so she believes his change is the result of their trip to the zoo. Giles still doesn't believe her claim of it being supernatural which would make him "look stuff up". This changes when Willow arrives and tells them the pack has eaten Herbert, prompting Giles to "look stuff up".

Principal Flutie confronts the other bullies and orders them to his office. At the library, Giles believes this is the work of the Primals, an African sect that worshipped animals so much they believed they could reach a sacred state by placing the spirits of animals into them. When Buffy goes to the faculty room where Herbert was; Xander finds her there. Buffy jumps Xander, but he just makes remarks about how Buffy likes dangerous men like Angel, giving him more motivation to act violently. Buffy tries to tell him what happened, but he ignores her. She pushes him off, but he holds her back onto a vending machine and sexually assaults her. While this happens, the other bullies start to become more and more animalistic and wild when called to Flutie's office. They corner the principal and subsequently devour him alive.

Buffy manages to knock Xander out with a desk and drags him back to the library where he is locked into the book cage. Giles returns from a teachers meeting and tells them about Flutie, also stating the official theory is that wild dogs got into his office. Buffy and Giles go to the zookeeper to get information on trans-possession while leaving Willow to look after Xander. Xander wakes and tries to sweet talk his way out of the cage. As Willow comes closer he makes a grab at her through the book slot but misses, losing any chance at getting her trust again.

The zookeeper tells Giles and Buffy he ordered the hyenas sometime ago, and from day one there was something odd about them. He found they were a vicious breed worshipped by the Primals. He has the know-how on trans-possessing them so Buffy needs to get all the possessed students to the exhibit. They realize the other students will return to Xander, endangering Willow. The pack call out Willow before breaking into the library and attacking. They manage to free Xander but are fended off by Buffy.

The pack attacks a family of three, but Buffy arrives and gets their attention, making them chase her back to the zoo.

At the exhibit, Giles meets the zookeeper who is wearing the tribal garb. He realizes it was the zookeeper who wanted the hyena spirits drawn into him all along and the possession of the students was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The zookeeper then knocks Giles out. Willow arrives, not knowing what Giles discovered, and agrees to let the zookeeper hold a knife to her neck, being the necessary "predatory act".

Buffy arrives with the pack on her tail on the symbol. The zookeeper chants and the hyena spirits are taken out of them into him. He then tries to attack Willow but Xander, having snapped out, saves her while the four other students run off in confusion. The possessed zookeeper becomes aggressive and Buffy, trying to stop him from hurting anybody, accidentally knocks him into the hyena pit, where he is subsequently devoured.

The next day, Xander is shocked to have eaten a live pig, claiming to have no memory of the possession. He asks if he did anything else embarrassing, but Buffy chooses not to tell him. As Buffy and Willow leave, Giles tells Xander that none of the research he did into animal possession mentioned memory loss... he knows that Xander (who is still unable to believe everything he did) remembers everything that happened but promises to not tell anyone.

Continuity

  • Xander's feigned amnesia about his activities while he was possessed is later uncovered in "Phases."
  • Buffy is wearing the leather jacket Angel gave her.[1]
  • Principal Flutie is killed and eaten in this episode. He is later mentioned in Season Seven's "Beneath You" by Buffy when she asked Robin Wood if he heard about what happened to Mr. Flutie. He is the second member of the Sunnydale High faculty to die in the series.
  • Xander assaults Buffy and says to her "you like your men dangerous and mean" referring to Angel, but using the plural "men". This foreshadows a pattern that will be explored throughout the series about Buffy's romantic life, as in season 4 with Parker but most prominently in her relationship with well-known vampire Spike.
  • This is the first episode where someone is locked in the library cage and the first where Buffy is sexually assaulted when Xander attempts to force himself upon her. It is also the first story where one of the Scooby gang goes evil.
  • This is the first time Possession appears in the Buffyverse.

Appearances

Individuals

Organizations and Titles

Species

Locations

Weapons and Objects

  • Knife
  • Desk

Miscellaneous

  • Masai ceremonial garb

Body Count

Behind the Scenes

Production

  • This is the first time that a series regular has been absent.
  • All sequences shot at the zoo were filmed at the Santa Ana Zoo.[2]
  • This is the second episode where no vampires appear. ("Witch" being the first)
  • This episode marks the first time Giles is knocked out, something which will become a running joke as the series continues.

Broadcast

  • "The Pack" earned itself a Nielsen rating of 2.4 on its original airing.[3]

Deleted Scenes

  • One line was cut
Xander - "Welcome to the jungle."[4]

Pop Culture References

  • Buffy's line to Giles in the library, "I cannot believe that you of all people are trying to Scully me," is a reference to the skeptic character of Dana Scully from the TV show The X Files.
  • In the library, Giles consults the Malleus Maleficarum, an actual historical text on Witchcraft
  • Kyle's line "and therein my friend lies the fun" is paraphrasing the line "and therein lies the rub" from Shakespeare's Hamlet.
  • Buffy: "Oh great, it's the winged monkeys." Winged monkeys were the servants of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
  • Buffy: "It's safe to say that in his animal state, his idea of wooing doesn't involve a Yanni CD and a bottle of Chianti." Yanni is a monumentally successful Greek New Age keyboardist and composer.
  • The picture Giles shows Buffy and Willow as the ultimate result of transpossession is an illustration by Gustave Doré, which he drew for Dante's Inferno, from the Divine Comedy.

Music

  • Sprung Monkey - "Reluctant Man" (Plays when The Pack enters The Bronze.)
  • Dashboard Prophets - "All You Want" (Plays when Buffy and Willow enters The Bronze.)
  • Far - "Job's Eyes" (Plays as The Pack walks through the courtyard.)
  • Walter Murphy - original score

International Titles

  • French: Les Hyènes (hyenas)
  • Portuguese: A Matilha
  • Finnish: Hyeenalauma ( Pack of hyenas )
  • German: Das Lied der Hyänen (Song of the hyenas)

Other

  • The majority of the hyena documentary footage shown in the episode is actually about African Wild Dogs, not hyenas.
  • In the episode Xander is deferred to as the unofficial leader of the pack, which is somewhat ironic considering the show's feministic foundations and the fact that hyena packs are matriarchal. (In other words, a show about feminism took a position of power away from a female and assigned it to a male.)
  • During the dodgeball game, the pack defeats the opposing team easily, leaving Buffy as the last one standing. But, instead of attacking her, they turn on Lance, their own teammate, showing how hyenas will generally avoid confronting powerful animals and prey on the weak instead.
  • The hyena lore featured is possibly based on the crocotta of Ethiopian legend. It's a wolf-like creature whose name was used for the scientific name of the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). It is said to imitate human voices and call out to people, like the hyenas in the episode call Willow's name.

Quotes

Kyle - "Oh, look. It’s Buffy and all her friends."
Buffy - "That’s a witty."
Tor - "Do you ever wonder why nobody cool wants to hang out with you?"
Buffy - "Just thankful."
Rhonda - "Were you this popular at your old school? Before you got kicked out?"

Gallery

References

  1. "Teacher's Pet"
  2. Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.
  3. "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season." http://home.insightbb.com/~wahoskem/buffy1.html
  4. Golden, Christopher, and Nancy Holder. The Watcher's Guide, Vol. 1. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.

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