Wild at Heart (Marti Noxon)
Seth Green had had enough of not being able to go to the dentist when he needed to in order that he could stay on set all day and say “Their spelling's improved” “It was intense” or “Pretty dull” (all from Earshot). So he decided to leave and rather like Anthony Stewart Head in season six but unlike Kristine Sutherland in season five, his character doesn’t die. No deaths for the men of BtVS (except Jesse but we hardly knew him) but plenty for the women. Clearly, I’m not saying anything new and I know all the ripostes but it’s there on 35mm: the roll call of dead women is long, the one of men is not. Maybe Doyle’s death in Angel can be viewed as a counterpoint but his death is not like the others: his is a noble death, there are no brain tumours for him or improbable stray bullets.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore BtVS (I hope you can tell) but the accumulation (so I apologise for leaping ahead) of these incidents does leave a bitter taste.
Anyway, this is a cracking episode with fabulous performances from Alyson Hannigan (blimey, she can cry), Seth Green and Paige Moss (in one of the more memorable one-off roles though it would have more interesting if she hadn't been so predatory and one-dimensionally evil).
There is much to write about but three things stand out: I question whether Willow is right to say that what Oz did with Veruca “doesn’t compare” with what she did to him. Once again Oz makes a decision for the both of them with Willow’s opinion not being of equal importance (“That’s your solution?” “That's my decision.” “Don't I get any say in this?” “No”). Not gonna kiss you, not gonna make love, gonna leave. He may be right in the first two instances but in the third he is wrong to leave her without any discussion. Finally, after Oz kills Veruca, he turns on Willow and that is a truly sinister moment.
- The cutesy talk at the beginning is a bit much.
- Willow’s jealousy of Buffy’s academic achievement is so in character.
- Out of character: Oz wouldn’t leave his girlfriend with a woman she hardly knows no matter how uncomfortable he was feeling.
- Veruca gets to say what I’ve been saying all along “Good shirt”.
- It’s lines like this: “I mean, I have wrong feelings about other guys sometimes, but I feel guilty, and I flog and punish” that people who have difficulties with Willow becoming gay can use as evidence in a case of ret-conning. [I’m in the camp that Willow banging on about being gay was a mistake because Tara would make me h-h-happy…but so would Oz. What is crazy is people who say she can't possibly be gay at all because she had a relationship with Oz and a crush on Xander like then it's impossible to fancy women.]
- It's refreshing to see a character on BtVS having a normal body shape and Paige Moss as Veruca is certainly not a skinny wretch but those tattoos are not very nice.
- I don’t blame Oz for not telling Willow even when he didn’t take the opportunity presented to him but he should have told somebody and he had a chance when Buffy came to see him.
- Riley telling Willow “it's not worth hurting yourself over” really annoyed me. Not because he’s wrong but because he’s the wrong person to say it.
- Willow turns to the instant fix again by turning to magic for the wrong reasons but this time she can’t bring herself to do it.
- Deliciously, this episode begins with Spike’s return to Sunnydale but he’s zapped and disappears from the rest of the episode.
- And if Willow’s shirt is good then Buffy’s headscarf is actually quite nice.