Monday, November 22, 2010

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Pangs"

"To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice. With pie."

As we call this blog "Holiday Film & TV Reviews", I see no reason why we shouldn't branch out into more holidays than Christmas.

As Thanksgiving is just around the corner (and as I just watched it a couple days ago), today I would like to talk about the Thanksgiving episode of the cult-tv classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This particular episode is entitled "Pangs" comes from Season 4 of the series and first aired on November 23, 1999.

Summary: Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and the Scooby Gang are spending Thanksgiving together rather than with family and Buffy is determined that everything will be absolutely perfect. Buffy's perfect Thanksgiving is interrupted by the emergence of a bloodthirsty Native American spirit called Hus (Tod Thawley) who is bent on revenge for wrongs done to his people in the past. Meanwhile, Angel (David Boreanaz), Buffy's vampire ex, has secretly returned to Sunnydale to help protect Buffy.

This episode contains many awesomely quotable lines (witness this blog entry's pull-quote, which is in reference to ex-demon Anya's (Emma Caulfield) summation of what Thanksgiving is).  It's an interesting postmodern take on the holiday and its place in U.S. history. Willow (Alyson Hannigan) takes the side of the Native Americans maybe being justified in wanting revenge for what was done to them by white settlers in the name of progress. Giles (Anthony Head) and Spike (James Marsters) argue from the other side. Giles citing the futility of symbolic revenge (Hus's victims are innocent and not responsible for their forbears' crimes against Hus's people), while Spike justifies his arguments based on the futility of guilt. ["You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not goin' around saying, "I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it." The history of the world is not people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story."] Buffy is conflicted about the whole thing and busy stressing about putting her perfect Thanksgiving meal together. ["And the thing is, I like my evil like I like my men - evil. You know, "straight up, black hat, tied to the train tracks, soon my electro-ray will destroy Metropolis," bad. Not all mixed up with guilt and the destruction of an indigenous culture. "]

Aside from containing vampires, spirits and demons the episode really follows an interestingly traditional arc for a Thanksgiving themed show dealing with holiday stresses such as family, travel and preparations that is given additional metaphorical significane by the stresses brought on by the spirit Hus's depradations. That plus the great dialogue and the humor make this an excellent addition to one's Thanksgiving themed viewing.

I'd give it a 3 1/2 pumpkin pie rating.

Actually here's some more great quotage (from near the end of the episode) from Buffy and Xander (Nicholas Brendon) that really sums things up:

Buffy: Wasn't exactly a perfect Thanksgiving.
Xander: I don't know, seemed kind of right to me. A bunch of anticipation, a big fight, and now we're all sleepy.

For some bonus fun, here's a link to a blog post featuring very old-school balloons from past Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades:

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