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'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' recap: Angel returns for Thanksgiving

Season 4 | Episode 8 | “Pangs” | Aired Nov 23, 1999

Buffy the Vampire Slayer easily dusts a vampire on the UC Sunnydale campus, but feels like she’s being watched. After a furrowed brow pause, Buffy moves on while the camera reveals Angel watching her from behind some bushes.

Whether you’re on #TeamAngel or not, you can’t deny the gravity of this scene. Angel’s back in the Buffyverse for the first time since leaving for his own WB spin-off, and it means Buffy’s in danger. Great timing, too. Just as Riley and Buffy take a peculiar interest in each other, the ex-boyfriend pops back in town. That’s college.

The next day, UC Sunnydale has a groundbreaking ceremony for a new cultural center; Buffy, Willow and Anya attend because Xander is one of the construction workers. As the gals watch Xander dig, Buffy and Willow talk about the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Willow goes off about the cultural wipeout while Buffy waxes nostalgic about her mom’s cooking. Joyce won’t host Thanksgiving this year, so Buffy’s more preoccupied with missing the holiday. Between daydreams of having sex with Xander, Anya turns around to remark how she loves a good ritual sacrifice. Buffy says Thanksgiving isn’t a sacrifice.

“To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal,” Anya reasons. “It’s a ritual sacrifice. With pie.”


Suddenly, the ground caves under Xander and he drops into the Old Sunnydale Mission. He’s fine, but the chilling music and spooky crosses on the walls let viewers know the Big Bad of the Week just woke up.

Later, Buffy decides to cook her own Thanksgiving dinner at Giles’s house and invite the Scooby Gang. “Hey, we could not invite Anya!” Willow brightens. Willow and Anya’s mutual dislike for each other only grows in future seasons, so it’s cool to see those behaviors take root early in their relationship.

Covered in a blanket and looking sick, Spike is still trying to escape Riley’s team of Commandos. Even though he’s “neutered” and can’t attack anyone, Riley points out that if Spike (“Hostile 17”) spills about the Initiative, it puts their entire operation at risk.

Anya arrives at Xander’s place to find him pasty and sick. Suddenly a caretaker, she makes him call off work and tells him if she catches whatever he has, they’ll die together. “It’s romantic!” Anya says. Xander calls her a strange girlfriend and Anya perks up. It’s the first time he’s ever called her that. Xander quickly says he’s probably delirious, but she’s overjoyed anyway.

Back at the mission ruins, a threatening green mist springs forth and spreads to the UC Sunnydale cultural center. After settling over an ancient-looking knife, the green mist transforms into a man who immediately kills the professor who presided over the construction ceremony.

Hus kills the professor.

Buffy and Willow sneak around the professor’s office after the murder hits the news. They discover that the professor’s ear was missing when her body was found, so Willow wonders whether a witch was responsible. Buffy notices an artifact missing from its case in the professor’s office, and they identify it as an 1800s Chumash knife.

Buffy tells Giles about the murder while unpacking groceries for Thanksgiving at his place. After he agrees to look up a connection between the Chumash Indians and ritual ear removal, Buffy leaves to get more groceries. Again, she feels like she is being watched.

After she leaves, Angel appears from the back room, explaining he came from Los Angeles because Doyle had a vision of Buffy in danger. Angel doesn’t want Buffy to know he’s in town because he doesn’t want to distract her and get her hurt. Giles doesn’t like keeping secrets, but agrees not to say anything.

In town, Angel also tells Willow he’s here to protect Buffy, but both Willow and Angel get sidetracked by catching up. Willow is annoyed with Angel for “leaving for her own good,” still rattled from her own tragic breakup with Oz a couple weeks ago. Angel tries to focus on business, but he wants to know who Buffy’s talking to. That would be Riley, whom Buffy adorably invites to her Thanksgiving dinner. Sadly, he’s going home to Iowa.

Spike, still on the run, doesn’t have a home. He tries moving back in with Harmony but she threatens him with a stake because he used her in their last two encounters. Although Harmony has always been hilariously horrid, it’s cool to see her finally stand up for herself.

Buffy tries to track down Father Gabriel, who may help find the Chumash knife thief. Unfortunately, Buffy arrives at the church just in time to see the Green Mist man, a Native American who speaks perfect English, slice Father Gabriel’s throat.

Buffy and the Chumash warrior spar briefly, before he informs Buffy he is Hus, a spirit seeking justice for the Chumash tribe. Hus accuses Buffy of slaughtering his people, and then transforms into a flock of birds and disappears into the night. Buffy freezes, confused and shaken by the encounter. The fight wasn’t bad, but her fuzzy feelings toward Thanksgiving are openly challenged by vengeful Native American spirits. It’s not the pure-evil bad guy she’s used to fighting.

Back at Giles’ place, Buffy sums up her conflicting feelings in the most Whedoneque way possible: “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.”

Willow collects a pre-Google stack of books on the Chumash tribes. She explains how the Chumash endured imprisonment, forced labor, and the introduction of European diseases. Proof of Chumash deaths were—you guessed it—their mutilated ears.

As Giles and Willow argue about whether to hurt or help the Chumash spirit, Buffy freaks out and decides to ignore the danger altogether. She throws herself into a cooking frenzy. “Over bickering and confusion, I’ll take pie.”

Xander and Anya show up, with Xander looking worse than ever. Buffy ignores this too and asks why he didn’t bring rolls. Turns out, Xander’s sickness is part of the vengeance lesson, since he dug on Chumash land. He’s suffering from multiple diseases the Chumash encountered: malaria, smallpox, and syphilis.

Buffy avoids the conversation altogether, but is again distracted from making dinner when a “parboiling” Spike shows up on Giles’ doorstep, begging to exchange Initiative information for an invitation into Giles’ house. They let him in when Willow confirms he still can’t bite anyone.

Everyone, Spike included, argues about how to stop Hus. Here, James Marsters masterfully proves his chops as a comedic addition to the cast with his kill-or-be-killed advice on the situation: “The history of the world isn’t people making friends. You had better weapons and you massacred them. End of story.”

Willow, Anya, and Xander go to warn college’s Dean Guerrero that his life may be in danger, because Hus has been targeting authority figures. Hus, meanwhile, summons more vengeance spirits to attack whom he believes to be the real authority: Buffy.

The spirits attack Buffy, Giles, and Spike with arrows. Tied to a chair, Spike is helplessly hit with arrow after arrow, but none pierce his heart. Buffy tries to get weapons but is shot in the arm.

Angel, Willow, Xander, and Anya return and try to attack the Chumash spirits with shovels, but none will die. Only when Buffy cuts Hus with his own knife does she discover only Chumash weapons can kill them. Hus turns into a large black bear, which Buffy fights and finally stabs. Hus and all the other spirits disappear into puffs of green smoke.

"You made a bear! Undo it!"

Angel leaves town without being seen by Buffy, and the gang finally eats Thanksgiving dinner. Still tied to a chair, Spike sits with them and whines about not being fed. Xander accidentally mentions Angel was in town and everyone turns to look at Buffy, whose fork clatters as the credits roll.

Big bad of the week: Hus and the Chumash vengeance spirits. Spike takes a delightful turn as a clever, reasonable ally in the face of danger.

Quote of the week: “A bear! You made a bear! Undo it! Undo it!” —Spike to Buffy, after Hus transforms one last time

Heinous ’90s fashion of the week: Buffy’s cowboy hat in the ceremony scene seems completely out of place, both in her personal style and in California. Then again, 1999 was a pretty good year for country music.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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