Beauty and the Beasts
Written by: Marti Noxon
Directed by: David Greenwalt
Air Date: Oct. 20, 1998

Men are monsters. That’s what Faith says at the beginning of the episode. And, so, that’s what this episodes is all about – Angel is back and overly feral, Oz is in the midst of his werewolf changes, and then there’s Pete, the dude that took an elixer to turn into some kinda monster-man. Willow, Buffy, and Pete’s girlfriend, Debbie, all have to deal with their men being monsters, in various degrees. Each one is less interesting than the last one. This is kind of a continuation of “Phases” from last season, only it has less time spent with Willow and Oz, something which detracts, overall. I like the Willow+Oz story and its arc, and I care less about Pete and Debbie. They’re uninteresting cliche characters archetypes that go nowhere are both die by the end of the episode. And there are no lessons learned when  all is said and done. As such, “Beauty and the Beasts” – an episode title I simply loathe – is an extremely lackluster episode and the first episode of season three that I really didn’t care for.

Let’s tackle Buffy, first. Angel’s back (which she finds out while trying to prove Oz isn’t the killer of the week) and he’s a monster (wearing pants somehow). She chains him up, doesn’t know what to do with him, and doesn’t know what to do with herself, now. See, she’d just gotten over Angel last time, and now he’s back and she doesn’t know what to do. Her love life has changed dramattically since then, too. Scott Hope is in her life, now, and she can’t just drop him because Angel is back. I like this element of the episode because Scott is a normal dude. He isn’t a vampire or a demon, he’s just a kid. A lame kid. But just a kid. I like the idea of seeing her with a normal dude. Reinserting Angel into her life before she has a chance to really  move on is kind of a dick move, though. I mean, he’s only been in her life one week at this episode. This I don’t care for.

Debbie is dumb. I don’t care that there are actual psychological issues with women being abused by men, but I don’t need an episode dedicated to it. I only want to watch fights, comedy, and good drama. This is so stereotypical. Its just uninteresting. I like the fight Pete has with Oz, I like some of the stuff that is said between Giles and Buffy regarding monsters (relating to Pete, in particular, but also Oz), but these two characters – as always, introduced for the first time and either killed or ever mentioned again – are just lame. And their story is tragic, yes, but there is nothing fresh about it. Its just stupid. I think I’ve said this 100 times, already, but I just don’t care about these characters. Buffy even tries her best to care for Debbie, but its only to save lives (or at least thats how it feels). She doesn’t seem interested in her, only in getting info out of her. I hate that about Buffy in this one, because she’s supposed to be a hero but she doesn’t care about this woman that is severely abused (as much as she should, at the very least). Its just dumb.

Oz and Willow, though, are where its at. For the most part, Oz is just a dry, sarcastic ass (played, as always, brilliantly by Seth Green) but on occasion he’s got some deep moments of development. He thinks he’s been killing after all of this time spent feeling safe about his transformations, and the ill effects upon his emotions are noticeable upon his often-stoic face. And Willow is equally bummed about it, too. Its a nice bit of character interaction/development between these two, and amongst them and the other characters, as well. Overall, if the episode had simply been about them, it would have been a clear winner. But, as it is, their limited inclusion in the story only makes me want to see more of them.

The werewolf costume is better, the effects of Pete changing are decent (even if his makeup is really stupid), and the music is better. The chase sequences in the school are cool, too, as is Angel’s brutal beating of Pete (to fucking death!). But overall, this episode is mostly rubbish, avoidable, and doesn’t bring much to the table. Aside from an awesome moment in which Giles gets shot with a tranq dart and some stupendously well done bait-and-switch moments. I’m mostly sad for Marti Noxon, who has been my favorite writer aside from Whedon. She flubbed this one up.

Oh well.

Episode Rating: 60+1 for that opening narration — 61

Additional Notes:
-I love it when Faith just socks Buffy when surprised. Buffy takes a punch like a champ
-I didn’t really mention it, but thats because I hate it: Buffy sees Mr. Pratt, a school councilor. He’s dumb, smokes, and dies. Good riddance
-I love the opening and closing narration. I’m going to actually give the episode one extra point for that, right now
-Xander just goes to sleep rather than doing his job of watching Oz. Simply in character
-Pete is my brother’s name and he had a girlfriend named Debbie, once
-Well, this episode sucks.