Drinks Taken: 20
Vamps Dusted: 4
Follow the whole rewatch here!
Last week, we experienced the low of Parker stomping on Buffy’s heart and the high of another zany Halloween episode. I’m sorry to inform you that, this week, we’re hitting two lows in a row, and both are inspired by heavy-handed metaphors. In the case of the first episode, this leads to high levels of dumb, and in the next, it simply tarnishes our emotional investment in one of the OTPs (oh, I SAID IT!) of the show.
So let’s drink to Oz, who certainly didn’t get the departure he deserved.
The Buffy Season Four Drinking Game Rules
Drink once every time:
A vamp is dusted
You see the “University of California Sunnydale” entrance sign
A scene takes place in a cemetery
You actually see a class in session
Oz is ridiculously low-key cool
Spike has mad swagger
Willow and/or Tara gets witchy with it
The Initiative makes you go, “Bored now”
Riley is a drag
Things get funcomfortable between Anya and Xander
Drink twice every time:
Giles drinks tea
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a call back to previous season shenanigans
Harmony says something dumb
Someone uses a payphone
Now on to an episode that has definitely not aged well! (And which, ironically, will make you want to be generous with the Drinking Game rules.)
4.05 “Beer Bad”
The episode opens with Buffy doing what she normally does–fighting and staking vamps in the cemetery, drink drink!–but it’s quickly apparent from the video game soundtrack (and her *amazing* hair) that this is a dream, especially when she saves Parker, and he wholeheartedly apologizes for how he’s been treating her. He confesses that she is everything to him, aaaand now we see that it’s a daydream, sprouting in Buffy’s brain as she sits in class (drink!) and watches him flirt with another girl. Professor Walsh is lecturing on the id, which provides some major foreshadowing: “The id doesn’t learn, it doesn’t grow up. Id wants.” But Buffy’s not listening, because she’s back in Cope Town, fantasizing about Parker giving her roses and ice cream. Oh, honey. As much as I want to (tenderly) shake Buffy by the shoulders and tell her HE’S NOT WORTHY OF YOU, I love how normal this is–even if you’re the Slayer, it stings when someone (even an asshole) doesn’t want you back.
Meanwhile, Xander scores a job as a bartender at the campus pub, thanks to his extremely unconvincing fake ID:
That’s like, a Magnum P.I. level mustache. Way to dream big, Xander! In spite of the fact that he’s seen Cocktail and “can do the hippie hippie shake” (drink for that amazing yet outdated reference), Xander is actually terrible at this job. Buffy arrives to keep him company but is immediately distracted by the fact that Parker is there on a date–she’s so distracted, in fact, that she physically runs into Riley. Right, Riley still exists! And I still don’t care! Anyway, Buffy is in a bad place, telling Xander, “I’m a slut, I’m an idiot,” and it really hurts my heart to see her like this. Xander tries to listen, but he’s also not in a great place–one of the many terrible preppy frat bros who populate the bar has just delivered an academic treatise on why Xander is a low class loser. I want to punch that dickwad SO HARD. Unfortunately, Buffy has the opposite reaction and winds up getting drunk with him and his friends (in her defense, she doesn’t hear the guy bashing Xander, but still. Buffy, just look at his outfit!). At least she has the sense to razz them a bit: “You guys really love to hear yourselves speak, don’t ya?”
Over at the Bronze, which all of a sudden seems much cooler, Willow and Oz are on a date, which is quickly ruined when the band steps on stage and the lead singer, Veruca, begins to perform. Oz is entranced, and Willow is perplexed, because, as she puts it to Buffy later, Veruca “dresses like Faith, voice like an albatross.” I could not agree more, girl. Like, if I was stuck in a karaoke room with Veruca, I would tear the lyric monitor off the wall and bash her in the head with it simply to MAKE IT STOP.
The next morning, Buffy is hung to the over… and maybe still drunk? She’s definitely acting a little weird, especially when she steals a sandwich from a girl in class. But then we see why, as the episode cuts to a chemistry lab set-up, with a mysterious potion dripping into a keg of Black Frost beer. Ruh-roh!
That night, Buffy is back at the bar (and we see our drinking game picture–I think that deserves an extra drink), hanging with the frat bros as they collectively get dumber and dumber. This is the moment when you can see Xander is a legit good friend, because he’s so worried about Buffy that he shuts down his bartender dream scenario: a glamorous woman, straight out of a 1930s movie, sidles up to the bar and tells him, “Boy, I’m having the worst day. You got a light?” He’s been practicing for this moment constantly, flicking a lighter at people and asking, “Bad day?” and yet when it happens, he just holds up a non-smoking sign. Seriously, the tagline for Season 4 should be Viva Team Xander!
By this point, Buffy and the bros are legit acting like cavemen toddlers–after Buffy is stupefied by the music coming from the jukebox, Xander decides to cut her off and makes her leave. I buy this, since Xander is a terrible bartender, but anyone who’s seen an actual drunk person can tell that Buffy isn’t just wasted. And we’re quickly proven right, as one of the frat guys emerges from the bathroom as a caveman lawyer! All of the bros transform into Neanderthals, and Xander scares them away with his lighter. The owner of the bar, Jack, walks in and, like a Scooby Doo villain, starts ranting about how he hates those stupid kids and fesses up to putting some kind of caveman potion into the beer. (His brother-in-law is a warlock, he mentions, just so we can feel like this is a realistic situation.) “That’s the great thing about beer,” Jack proclaims. “It makes all men the same.” Something tells me that’s cross stitched on a pillow in his house.
Sure, the potion wears off in a day, but that’s enough time for plenty of chaos to ensue. The Frat Cavemen begin roaming the campus (one gets hit by a car), while Xander fetches Giles to help. They find Buffy (thankfully not sporting a prosthetic forehead, just some super teased hair) making cave drawings on her dorm room wall about how, “Parker bad.” Oh, and she really wants a cold one.
No surprise, Cave Slayer escapes!
Elsewhere on campus, Willow runs into Parker and gives him a piece of her mind. He responds by feeding her the same ole BS about how “one night stands can be enriching,” and that he didn’t mean to leave Buffy on. Initially it seems like Willow is falling for it, but we should know our brainy witch better, because she is PLAYING HIM. “How gullible do you think I am?” she asks a shocked Parker. WELL DONE, WILLOW. “It’s the pleasure principle,” she continues (someone was paying attention in class). “Men haven’t changed since the dawn of time.” Cue the Frat Cavemen storming into the building! They knock Willow and Parker out cold and then start a fire, which quickly spreads across the room. Cave Slayer arrives and, seeming to recognize Willow, opens up a high window and carries Willow out–she also carries Parker out, but not before hitting him on the head with a stick.
Out on the street, Giles and Xander find Willow and Cave Slayer, who is approached by a penitent Parker.
Most satisfying ending of a Buffy episode ever?
How many times do I have to take a drink?
(Daydream) Vamps Dusted
Buffy’s Dream Hair
It makes sense that in a girl’s daydream about rescuing her ex, her hair would look THIS SPECTACULAR.
Giles for Life
As Giles and Xander head to Buffy’s dorm room, Giles admonishes Xander for serving her a beer in the first place.
Xander: “Well excuse me, Mr I-spent-the-60s-in-an-electric-kool-aid-funky-Satan-groove.”
Giles: “It was the early ’70s, and you should know better.”
I’m feeling that groove, y’all!
Lending the perfect amount of disgust and “I’m too old for this shit”ness to the role, Steven M. Porter plays Jack the bar owner. You might recognize him from Best in Show, Hart of Dixie and The X-Files.
Let’s Savor Our Last Perfect Willoz Moment
Things are about to get dark, so enjoy this wonderful slice of banter.
4.6 “Wild at Heart”
Buffy is back to slaying vamps and punning it up (we know it’s not a daydream, because the vampire totally doesn’t appreciate her joke). In the shadows, Spike (hi Spike!) watches and teems with vengeance:
Aw, bye Spike! Supes excited about the chip coming your way!
Even though they’re college kids now, the gang is back at the Bronze, which Willow explains away as a “big comfy blankie” of familiar. I don’t mind, obvs, but as a college freshman, I certainly wasn’t interested in rubbing elbows with high schoolers. It’s even more tough to excuse the arrival of Giles (“It’s been ages since I went to a gig”) though let’s be honest, what would look creepy on any other adult looks positively adorable on Giles. And then Oz defends his record collection! So sweet! Unfortunately, Veruca’s band is playing, and they still suck, but in addition to Oz, Xander and Giles seem really into it. (Giles! How could you!)
The next morning, Oz and Willow are really cute together, talking in bed, and her concern over the previous night seems to fade a bit. It’s the beginning of the full moon, so Oz will be spending the evening his cage, while Willow is gonna try out the campus Wicca group for the first time! (MILESTONE ALERT.) At school, Buffy is rocking Professor Walsh’s class (Willow, delighted: “You made me jealous of you academically!”), while Oz encounters Veruca at the outdoor cafe. There is definitely something going on between them, and Willow practically suffocates under it when she pulls up a chair.
The sun sets, and Were-Oz breaks out of his cage and chases Professor Walsh, who manages to escape because, oh dip, there’s another werewolf! The two beasts go from fighting each other to waking up in each other’s arms–yep, it’s Veruca. UGH. Oz desperately clings to his low-key cool while Veruca tries to convince him that he should just accept the power of the animal within. Lady, that is not his style.
Buffy finds out what happened to Professor Walsh and correctly deduces that there’s another werewolf out there, so she immediately hauls ass to Giles’ place so they can formulate a plan. Willow’s doing her own form of damage control and asks Xander for a male perspective on Oz’s hot and cold behavior, and Xander actually gives her good advice: just talk it out with him! It’s such a lovely moment between these two besties, and once again, Season 4 is filling up that Team Xander bandwagon!
For the protection of Sunnydale, Oz asks Veruca to stay the night with him in the cage, and while I know it’s (kind of) for the right reasons, it’s also SO WRONG AND GROSS AND I HATE IT. Willow shows up with breakfast the next morning and discovers the two, naked and asleep together, and man, this really, really, really sucks. Oz, desperate to comfort Willow, tells her he didn’t have a choice but to share a cage, but Willow fires back that he had other options (and we know she’s right). This is nowhere CLOSE to what happened when Cordy and Oz stumbled into Willow and Xander kissing–it’s far more crushing, and after she flees, Willow is in shock, wandering into traffic and rescued from an oncoming car by Riley. Buffy takes her home, enveloping her in love, and then she does the next best thing: she confronts Oz. He tries to explain, but she cuts him off: “Now might be a good time for your trademark stoicism.” Buffy, minding her Slayer business, decides to focus on the immediate threat, and she and Oz head out to find Veruca before she kills anyone. (Along the way, Buffy stumbles into a masked military guy, but she’s too rushed to care.)
But they’re a step behind, because Veruca shows up at the lab, where Willow is working on a spell (drink) to break Oz and Veruca’s hearts. She can’t go through with it, in spite of her witchy rage (FORESHADOWING). Veruca is definitely planning on shredding up Willow, but Oz shows up, and then it’s Welcome to the Werewolf Thunderdome! Despite the dumb furry costumes, the fight between Were-Oz and Were-Veruca is pretty brutal, and it ends with Were-Oz biting Were-Veruca’s throat and killing her. RIP VERUCA WE ALL HATED YOU. Buffy arrives to tranq Were-Oz, and Willow simply falls apart. She’s gutted, and I’m gutted for her.
Later, Buffy tells Giles about the masked military dude and recalls seeing a group of them on Halloween. (I wish the Initiative deserved this build-up but they really don’t.) After asking about Willow, Giles reminds Buffy that she’s been in Willow’s position, and she got through it, so Willow will too. Awww Giles!!!
Cut to Willow, finding Oz as he’s packing up to leave. He’s realized that the wolf is inside of him all the time, just like Veruca claimed, and he can’t be around anyone, including Willow, until he figures out how to maintain those boundaries between his humanity and his animal instincts. Willow is heartbroken and doesn’t want him to leave. “Don’t you love me?” she asks. “My whole life, I’ve never loved anything else,” Oz replies.
And then I criiiiiiiied. Because watching these two say good-bye is crushing:
Oz walks out the door, leaving a shattered Willow behind him. It’s telling that, once he makes it to the van, he actually loses his Oz cool and almost runs back to Willow, but ultimately, he drives away. AND TAKES MY HEART WITH HIM. OZ 4-EVER.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Willow’s Sartorial Epiphany
So the bucket hat and Chucky overalls were fine, but not a pink patterned sweater?!!
Giles for Life
Giles, as a Watcher with barely anything to Watch, turns instead to TV game shows. And it is SO GREAT. He’s correctly guessing all of the answers, and at one point mutters, “The dinette set should be mine.” 10/10 would watch Giles on Jeopardy.
Where Are All of the Smart Sexy Single Ladies of Sunnydale?!!
Because Giles should not have to hang out with teenagers at the Bronze for his “night out.”
Is Amy Still a Rat?
So, anyone else remember “Beer Bad” being better than it actually is? Dang. That ish is ROUGH.
In contrast, I’m just as devastated by Oz leaving the show in this rewatch as I was the first time it happened. Sure, the writers came up with a plausible exit, but did he have to leave?!! Did Seth Green, like, land a hot new gig? Maybe I should be thankful that Willoz ended before it had a chance to deteriorate like other show ships.
How do y’all feel about the departure of Oz? Do you hate Veruca as much as I do? And did Cave Slayer fall flat to you or still make you laugh?
Join me in the comments, then tune in next week as Kandis recaps “The Initiative” and a Very Special Thanksgiving Episode of “Pangs.”