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WILD AT HEART (ep #4.06)

(a.k.a. Why I Hate Oz)

Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: David Grossman
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
Paige Moss as Veruca
James Marsters as Spike
Lindsay Crouse as Maggie Walsh

Plot Summary

Encounters with another werewolf convinced Oz to leave Sunnydale, perhaps forever.

Plot Details

The episode opened with a young woman running as fast as she can through a busy campus with a man in close pursuit. When they reached an isolated area, the young woman, Buffy, turned to the man, a vampire, and started to fight. She preferred to fight without an audience, but this meant that nobody would hear her pun. Little did she know that she had an audience. Spike was watching and gloating, until he got zapped by the same commandos seen in previous episodes.

Buffy, Willow, Oz, and Xander met at the Bronze and talked about why they were there. Willow hypothesized predictability until Giles showed up for the first time since "Surprise." Soon afterward, Veruca's band started to play. Willow was a bit upset, so Oz and Buffy suggested that Veruca was not all that good. Giles, who did not realize that Willow had reason to be jealous suggested otherwise.

Oz and Willow had a sweet morning talk that was in the episode in order to contrast with the pain that is to come. Willow did say that she wanted to check out a Wicca group that will meet when Oz is a werewolf.

After psychology class, Willow went to meet Oz. Unfortunately, Oz already found Veruca and they were talking about amps, a topic that Willow knew nothing about. Unfortunately, Willow forgot the saying that it was best to keep silent and let everyone think you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Oz and Veruca left separately just as Buffy arrived. Willow was upset that Oz appeared to be attracted to Veruca. Buffy tried to be supportive, but Willow was simply relieved that Oz would be locked in a cage that night.

In theory, he would be locked in a cage. In reality, the door was not strong enough to prevent his escape. On a Sunnydale street, he jumped out at Prof. Walsh who tried to flee, only to run into a blonder werewolf. Fortunately for Prof. Walsh, the two werewolves were too interested in each other to bother with Walsh.

The next morning, a naked Oz woke up with a naked Veruca spooning him from behind. The two of them had to raid a laundry room in order to get dressed. Oz was shocked that Veruca did not have a cage, whereas Veruca was shocked that Oz had one.

The next day, Prof. Walsh told Riley and Buffy that there were "wild dogs" on campus. Buffy, who knew that there was almost a full moon the previous night, figured out much of what happened.

Willow visited Oz with the intention of ramping up the romance score for this episode, but Oz did not want her to see the scratches on him. A disappointed Willow left. Meanwhile, Buffy went to visit Giles to discuss werewolves, a topic he was eager to discuss.

Willow visited Xander to talk about Oz. She tried to talk about her encounter with Oz using as many euphemisms as possible, but Xander figured out what was going on. He suggested that Willow needed to talk with Oz about her concerns, something similar to advice that Willow gave Buffy in the third season.

Oz was busy trying to reinforce his cage when Buffy arrived and figured out that Oz got out. She told him about another wolf that was sighted, and he pretended to be surprised. Buffy still figured out that there was something wrong with Oz.

Oz invited Veruca to his cage for the night. She refused to enter until he pointed out that there were people hunting for them. The two of them started to kiss as they transformed. The next morning, Willow brought breakfast down to Oz, only to find him and Veruca naked. Needless to say, Willow was very hurt.

Oz made excuses, but Willow was too smart to believe them. Even if Veruca were a threat to others, Willow knew that Oz could and should have told someone. Willow also knew that Oz had feelings for Veruca. Willow ran off and wandered into a street. There was an approaching car that had plenty of time to stop, but it did not even slow down. Fortunately, Riley was there and pulled her out of the way.

Buffy stayed with Willow until Buffy needed to hunt for Veruca. Buffy first went to Oz, who was also trying to reach Veruca. Oz used his super scent tracking ability that he had in "Lover's Walk," but he found only Veruca's clothes. Buffy figured out that Veruca wanted to lead Oz off her scent while Veruca dealt with Willow. Buffy and Oz sprinted off to find Willow but were delayed when Buffy ran into one of the commandos.

Willow decided that vengeance was in order. She started to cast a spell to curse Oz, but could not bring herself to do so. Veruca then entered and locked the two of them in. Oz burst in just as Veruca hit Willow. Oz and Veruca exchanged words with Veruca blaming Willow for Oz being locked up and Oz telling Veruca not to hurt Willow.

This was just foreplay until they started to transform into werewolves. The two of them fought during the transformation and afterward, until Oz ripped out Veruca's throat. Oz then set his sights on Willow when Buffy arrived. After a quick fight, Buffy shot Oz with the tranquilizer rifle. Willow cried in Buffy's lap.

Buffy briefed Giles about the commando she ran into (literally) in the woods. She was upset that this encounter delayed her and nearly prevented her from saving Willow. Buffy wanted to know more about who this commando was.

Willow went to visit Oz and found him packing. He unilaterally decided that he should not be around people until he figured out what the difference was between him and the wolf. He claimed that he still loved Willow, but he refused to commit on when he was coming back. As Willow cried, he grabbed his bag, brought it to his van, hesitated, and left.

The Good

This may be an Oz-centered episode, but I have to give the same two-word answer to what was good about this episode as I gave for "Doppelgangland:" Alyson Hannigan. Throughout the show she created a very lovable character, so it hurts so much more when she is in pain than when any other character is in pain. Furthermore, she may be the best crier on the show. Unlike most actresses, who merely look sad when they cry, Alyson Hannigan looks like she is in great pain. She creates this great desire for me to reach my arms through the television, put them around her, and reassure that things will be OK and that the next person she will be with will be ten times better (sorry about the spoiler). Hannigan makes this episode work.

The Bad

The show invested two years in the character of Oz only to make us hate him for what he did to Willow, and I do hate him for that.

Due to external factors, the arc was rushed. It would have been better if the writers had time to develop this story across the season rather than rush everything into one episode to accomodate Seth Green's desire to leave the show.

Overall Rank: 74

Action: 6

Buffy staked a vampire during the teaser.

Oz and Veruca attacked each other while turning into werewolves with Oz killing her soon after the transformation was completed.

Afterward, Buffy had to keep Oz from hurting Willow.

Comedy: 1

The teaser was fairly light-hearted, but the rest of the episode was not.

Drama: 8

Willow was jealous of Oz's attraction to Veruca.

Willow actually found the two of them together in his cage.

Oz left town, leaving Willow crying.

Romance: 8

Oz and Veruca had a couple of encounters just before, during, or after they were wolves.

Willow tried and failed to increase this rating with Oz.

Willow and Oz are no longer together.

Character Development: 5

Giles is so bored that he has started showing up at the Bronze and is eager when Buffy needs his help.

Willow despite being the most sexually active of the three core characters, feels very uncomfortable talking about sex. Oz hurt her badly and nearly drove her to revenge, but she did back out. She was even willing to forgive him and move on.

Oz hurt Willow. I need not say any more.

Importance: 7

Oz has left Sunnydale.

Buffy now knows about the commandos on campus.

Most Valuable Player: Buffy

Riley gets credit for pulling Willow out of the street, and Buffy saved Willow from Oz. Oz would get credit for saving Willow from Veruca, but he screwed up so much in this episode that he deserves some of the blame for Willow being in danger in the first place. Buffy gets the MVP because the car had plenty of time to stop but did not just to raise tension, whereas Willow was legitimately in peril from Veruca.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Buffy

Xander figured out Willow's ingenious code, but Buffy gets the award for figuring out that there was something wrong with Oz and that Veruca left clothes lying about to keep Oz from protecting Willow.

Goat of the Week: Oz

Veruca got herself killed, but she did not have much of a chance. She had a slayer on her tail and was a weaker fighter than Oz. Oz, however, was in a great position. He was in college, had a good group of friends and a loving girlfriend. He turned into a werewolf three nights out of the month, but everyone around him accepted that. He blew it.

He did not actively encourage Veruca, but he did little to dissuade her advances. He could have told people that Veruca was a werewolf rather than handle everything himself. If he had any questions on what it meant to be a werewolf, Giles should have been the first place where he started. Instead, he threw everything away, including Willow, for no good reason (other than the fact that the actor who played him was tired of appearing in episodes in which he had little to do).

Random Commentary

Episodes like this make me wonder why Alyson Hannigan wanted to be in a sitcom so badly. She is very good with the humor, but her ability to cry goes to waste in sitcoms. I understand that she wants more free time, but I think that she would be better off in a dramedy.

I understand that the main reason why Seth Green wanted to leave the show was that he did not like to appear in episodes in which he had very little to do. I find this to be rather selfish. He was part of an ensemble. That means that there are some episodes in which his character will be the main focus, some episodes in which he will have an important supporting role, and some episodes in which he will have a minor role. This is the same for all the other actors, except for Sarah Michelle Gellar. As Green would expect the other actors to support him in his episodes, he had a duty to support the other actors in their episodes. In the other episodes this season, it was clear that Oz was to be a core member of the group. It would not make sense for him to be absent for extended periods of time simply because the actor did not want to be there.

In "Phases," we were told that werewolves were attracted to sexual energy. I wonder why both the Oz and the Veruca wolves were attracted to Prof. Walsh?


It has been made pretty obvious to the audience that the commandos are going to be a major plot point in the fourth season. However, it is not clear why they would be a special concern of Buffy's. It was not as if the commando intentionally delayed her. He just happened to be in her way when she was running without looking. If she tripped over a sprinkler head, would she want to investigate the groundskeepers?


The Willow/Oz Relationship I never wonder why a person would be interested in Willow. In fact, I wonder why more people are not interested in Willow. However, I have never understood why Oz, of all people, would be the one to be interested in Willow. They share no interests in common and are not all that similar. If Veruca were nicer and more conscientious, she would be a better match for Oz than Willow was. That being said, I am glad that Willow found somebody who did not exploit her low self-esteem and lack of confidence to abuse her.

DVD Extras

Commentary by Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, and Seth Green is the first group commentary for Buffy. It provides evidence that group commentaries do not work, as the three of them were more concerned with chatting with each other than with providing insights for the audience. They had a light mood, almost like a reunion, which made this commentary more entertaining than future group commentaries. There are major spoilers through the middle of the sixth season, and Seth Green might have given Joss Whedon a minor idea for the seventh season. Insights include:

Memorable Dialogue

"That's all I get? One lame-assed vamp with no appreciation for my painstakingly thought-out puns. I don't think the forces of darkness are even trying. I mean, you could make a little effort, you know. Give me something to work with." Buffy
"Watch your mouth, little girl. You should know better than to tempt the Fates that way, 'cause the big bad is back, and this time... [zap]" Spike

"I have wrong feelings about other guys sometimes, but I feel guilty, and I flog and punish." Willow
"Exactly, I'm sure Oz is flogging and punishing himself. This is sounding wrong before I even finish." Buffy

"You come on business, I hope?" Giles
"Yes, lucky for you, people may be in danger." Buffy

"What if the girl wants to and the guy doesn't? That's a bad, right?" Willow
"Could be, or the girl caught the guy in one of the seven annual minutes he's legitimately too preoccupied to do it." Xander

"Oz, are you OK? And, if it's possible, you seem more monosyllabic than usual." Buffy

"Buffy, you should know that..." Oz
"Oz, now might be a good time for your trademark stoicism." Buffy

"I ran away and went to hell and then got through it. I'm kinda hoping she doesn't use me as a model." Buffy

"The wolf is inside me all the time, and I don't know where that line is anymore between me and it, and until I figure out what that means, I shouldn't be around you or anybody." Oz
"Well, that could be a problem, 'cause people, kind of a planetary epidemic." Willow

Characters in Peril


Police and Guns

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on November 20, 2012