Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Phases (Buffy episode)
Episode 15 of season two, "Phases", starts with Willow's increasing frustration that Oz shows no sign of wanting to get serious — not to mention physical — with her. Cordelia is frustrated with Xander because he keeps talking about Willow, even while making out in Sunnydale's lover's lane under a beautiful full moon. They are attacked by a werewolf that rips a hole in the car's roof. Giles points out that there have been quite a number of other attacks, though so far only animals have been killed. During high school gym class, we learn that at least two students have been bitten lately: Oz by a cousin who doesn't like to be tickled, and school macho Larry by a dog.
After some research, Giles finds out that a werewolf is a wolf for three nights — this night would be the second. Since the werewolf is human the rest of the month, it would be wrong to kill him. This, however, is not what werewolf hunter Kane thinks, whom Buffy and Giles meet while looking for the animal in woods where Xander and Cordelia were making out: Kane is out for his twelfth pelt. Though the two groups do not get along, mainly because Kane is a rampant chauvinist, Giles and Buffy do learn that the werewolf will be attracted to places were teenagers hang out — it is the "sexual heat" that draws it.
Buffy and Giles rush to the Bronze, where Cordelia and Willow are busy complaining to each other about their men when the werewolf crashes the party. Buffy tries to catch it with a chain but fails. Kane joins them and points out that it will be Buffy's fault if the werewolf kills anybody. In fact, a body does turn up the next morning — Theresa, one of the students that Larry was tormenting. Buffy is not the only one to have feelings of guilt. Oz wakes up in the forest, buck naked and confused after changing back from his wolf state before our eyes. Recalling the bite he got, he calls his Aunt Maureen, and bluntly asks if his cousin is a werewolf. The answer is yes.
Xander figures that Larry is the most obvious suspect because of the bite and his aggressiveness. When he confronts Larry alone in the gym locker room, it turns out that he really is hiding something — his homosexuality. Xander unwittingly helps Larry out of the closet, who is left with the impression that Xander is gay, too.
Buffy and Xander realize that the reports of Theresa's body don't mention any mauling. They get to the funeral home in time to watch her rise as a vampire. Theresa has time to hit Buffy where it hurts the most, when she passes along greetings from Angelus before Xander stakes her. It wasn't the werewolf that killed her.
Back in the library, Buffy suggests to Willow that she might have to make the first move if she wants to speed things up with Oz, and Willow goes to his house right before sundown. There, Oz is about to chain himself up but lets Willow in the house. Her rant about the mixed signals he is sending is interrupted by him changing into a werewolf right before her eyes. She flees the house screaming, the werewolf in pursuit. Kane hears the wolf's cry and joins the hunt. Willow escapes and gets Giles and Buffy, who are about to start the hunt for Oz with a tranquilizer gun. All parties meet in a clearing in the forest, and in the scuffle, it is Willow who shoots Oz, saving everybody. Buffy bends Kane's gun with her bare hands to make a point about girl power and tells him to leave the city.
The next morning, Willow and Oz finally get together, with the push coming from Willow who points out that she is not fun to be around three day out of the month, either. Oz and Willow share their first kiss, leaving Oz a "werewolf in love".
After a chase through many episodes, Willow and Oz finally are a pair, and initially their love seems to be strong enough to bridge the problems caused by Oz's condition. Oz joins those Scoobies who have special powers and special problems, both of which will be explored in thoroughly in later episodes. Xander remains obsessed with Willow, though, setting the stage for a tragic kiss in "Lovers' Walk ". Angelus continues to torment Buffy, strengthening her resolve to kill him despite her feelings for the vampire he once was.
Writing and Acting
One of the plot elements used over and over again in Buffy is the Scooby who has a traumatic experience or goes through major changes but will not tell his friends and family about it even when the world around him is going to hell. For Buffy, this reluctance to share was always a part of her personality and is believable because of the question of just how much of a loner the Slayer must be.
With the other characters, however, this device seems strained in some episodes, as with Tara in "Family" or Xander in "Once More, With Feeling". This episode, too, leaves the viewer wondering why the otherwise rather cool-headed Oz decides not to tell anybody his secret. The writers try to deal with this by having Buffy vow to commit various acts of violence once she catches the werewolf, and in the end, Oz claims to have been freaked. However, this still begs the question of why Oz doesn't come clean with his Aunt, who is family and obviously has experience with werewolves.
It doesn't seem likely that Willow can outrun a werewolf.
Though Larry's homosexuality is used more as humorous plot device, the positive message about coming out is clear. Larry shows up in the series at various times, and helps prepare the way for a homosexual main character — Willow.
Quotes and Trivia
"She's actually an evil mastermind" — Oz to Larry about Willow
"They might not look it, but bunnies can really take care of themselves." — Oz starting the theme of violent bunnies that Anya will later perfect
In the opening scene, Oz remarks on the way the eyes of the cheerleader statue in the school's trophy case follow you everywhere you go, a reference to "The Witch".
The cuffs Oz takes out of a cardboard box to chain himself up on the third night and Willows troubled reaction are one of the many references to BDSM throughout the series.
- Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
- Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
- Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
- Seth Green as Daniel 'Oz' Osborne
- Jack Conley as Kain
- Larry Bagby as Larry Blaisdell
German title: "Der Werwolfjäger" ("The Werewolf Hunter")
Buffy's reference to Kane as "mein Furrier" — a pun on "mein Führer", Adolf Hitler — is censored in the German version (DVD audio version):
- "We just have to make it there before 'mein Furrier'".
is translated as:
- "Wir müssen nur dort sein, bevor unser Trapper dort aufkreutzt."
which translated back to English would roughly be:
- "We just have to be there before our trapper shows up there."
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