This episode Cory and Laine discuss the heartbreak that is Oz and Willow’s breakup, Xander’s surprisingly good advice, and Buffy being an amazing friend.
Thank you for listening to our discussion of Season 4, Episode 6: Wild at Heart.
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Music for this episode is “Digging a Grave,” by Shadows from the Underground, and is used under license from Audiosocket.
One thought on “Episode 69: Wild at Heart”
Alright, I went for a nice long walk this morning so I would look at calm scenery while listening to this episode. Wild at Heart and The Body are the two episodes I’ve only ever rewatched with DVD commentary rather then on their own – they’re just too unrelenting, otherwise. Oz leaving the show was a big part of the reason I stopped watching Buffy for a while, while it was airing (I came back to it a few years later and caught up), and Willow/Oz was probably my first fandom ship.
I really appreciate how in-depth you both got in the discussion. I think it’s a great observation that Oz is so internal that when a serious, time-sensitive issue came up, he didn’t have time to process it or his feelings about it and chose to act on his own rather than express himself to Willow or Buffy before he felt on more solid ground. I think that’s why (even though it’s painful) it’s very in-character for him to feel he needs to leave for a while. He doesn’t deal with personal issues by talking them through; he deals with them himself and when he’s ready to bring other people in, he does. Time has always been important to Oz in his relationship with Willow (not wanting to kiss her until she seemed more into him/less into Xander; not wanting to tell her he was a werewolf until she came to his house right before he changed; not wanting to forgive Willow until he’d had more time to deal with the cheating; not wanting to sleep with Willow so soon after they got back together), and now he doesn’t feel like he can be with her when he feels so unstable. His leaving is temporary, and he always meant it to be, because he really didn’t WANT to leave her but he saw no way to deal with this without being on his own for a while. And I don’t know that he’s wrong to do that, because that’s just how some people process things of such a personal nature (though I suppose it could be argued that being in a serious couple means that’s not always easily done – you’re expected to process things together, maybe; but still, some people in couples choose to do things more independently). But leaving means risking that Willow won’t be there to continue their relationship once he returns, which is what happens. It’s an incredibly painful episode, but especially the ending, where it briefly seems like he might change his mind.
I believe that Oz’s intentions were good when he mentioned Willow cheating and how he had felt. I don’t think he was trying to throw it in her face. But that was NOT the time. If he was going to bring that up at all, it should have been during a later discussion, not in immediate reaction to Willow finding him and Veruca.
The other part of this episode I’m thinking about is the idea that maybe Veruca WAS putting off some kind of animal pheromones, and that there’s something primal between her and Oz because they’re both werewolves. There’s certainly the implication that what Oz is feeling with her isn’t JUST lust. And I always think that kind of makes it hard to see particular plots and arcs as metaphors in Buffy (and Angel). Because I remember in the commentary for this episode Joss Whedon and (I think) Marti Noxon talked about the ‘men are beasts’ angle (I could be wrong about this, but I know they’ve made that comparison in talking about the show before), but there’s no real human/non-magical analogue to werewolf pheromones, just like there’s no real life analogue to not having a soul, or being under a hyena curse. How much are we supposed to hold certain male characters responsible for their actions? Because even under possession, the things Xander said to Buffy and Willow in ‘The Pack’… the fact that he tries to assault Buffy in that episode… that seems too personal to be JUST the possession. It seems like something of Xander’s own personality was there as well. Which isn’t to say I blame Xander, necessarily, just that the show doesn’t go out of its way to say “none of this has any relation to who this character is normally.”
When Oz returns later in season 4, he attacks Tara out of anger, not because it’s a full moon, suggesting that the werewolf in him is tied directly to his emotions, which is a bit closer to how Pete’s (of season 3’s ‘Beauty and the Beasts’) Jekyll and Hyde transformation went, and which isn’t great. What if Oz had made the discovery about Willow and Tara when he was with Willow, rather than Tara? Not that it was good that he was with Tara, but if it was Willow it would have made it more straightforwardly hinting at domestic violence. It does give a good excuse for Oz to leave town again, though. There’s also an episode in season 3 of Angel, ‘Billy,’ where magic supposedly taps into a primal potential for hatred that men have for women, but the men respond to it differently, and Wesley becomes particularly calculating and menacing towards Fred. Aside from the obvious thread of male violence against women (and I didn’t even mention the attempted assault in ‘Seeing Red’ or how Angel psychologically goes after Buffy and Dru), I wonder how much the male characters are supposed to seem like victims of possession/magic/demons (including in vampirism), and how much they’re portrayed as if they’re victims of their own ‘natures’ (which, again… not great).
(I’m trying not to leave a comment on every single episode but that is pretty much happening anyway, sorry!)