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Retro Recap: Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4.E18 — “Where The Wild Things Are”

“A year and a half ago, I could have eviscerated him with my thoughts. Now I can barely hurt his feelings. Things used to be so much simpler.”

“Where the Wild Things Are” ranks fairly low on my personal pantheon of great Buffy episodes. It’s one of those episodes that is worth watching for basically one really great scene, one moment of foreshadowing, and otherwise could vanish from the episode listings without anyone being the wiser. You know, like “Go Fish.” It’s a monster of the week episode, a killing time episode, a “we’ve got to pad some stuff before we get to the big Adam show down.”

After Jonathan’s intervention in “Superstar,” Buffy and Riley’s relationship is back on track. And by on track, I mean they’re boffing every two seconds. It’s that whole new relationship stage where the sex hasn’t had a chance to get stale yet and you haven’t been together long enough to build up a list of resentments that overshadow every interaction you have with your partner. First flush of love and all that jazz. Their constant horizontal mambo is fueling latent poltergeist activity at Riley’s frat house-cum-Initiative barracks.

A still image of Willow and Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Because it’s Sunnydale. Of course their frat house is haunted. It’s not like they even just did that story line a couple of weeks ago or anything.

While Buffy and Riley are banging, our other official Scooby couple, Xander and Anya, are suffering from the lack of banging.  To be exact, they have now not-banged twice, which, to Anya is the death knell of their relationship. Don’t forget, she is newly human and strangely literal, so it’s been a while since she stumbled through the intricacies  of a human relationship. Xander is befuddled by her instance that he is planning on breaking up with her. Xander is frequently befuddled by women.

Riley throws a party so the army guys can let off a little steam – between Adam and the revelations about Walsh, morale hasn’t been so great. Solid plan. Except for the part where the house is inhabited by a poltergeist that feeds off sexual energy while also manifesting as the psychic scars of a generation of orphaned children who were punished for their very normal, teenaged sexual curiosity. (The house had previously been a home for children run by a religious maniac, natch.) So Riley packs in a bunch of horny teenagers and twenty-somethings, and then he and Buffy make like the beast with two backs. The poltergeist drains them like a battery, using their lovemaking as power and forcing them to keep at it – I know, such a burden.

A still image of Xander and Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In turn, the poltergeist attacks the party guests, briefly possessing them, creating weird orgasm spots on the wall, fake drowning people, and eventually getting tired of all the bullshit and causing a good old fashioned earthquake that drives everyone out of the house except for Buffy and Riley.  The Scooby gang tracks down the old religious bigot to find out the true meaning of Christmas the hauntings, holds a little séance in Tara’s room, fights through a magically appearing jungle of spearing vines, and eventually saves the day by interrupting Buffy and Riley having The Sex. The end.

A still image of Tara.

So that’s the synopsis. This is why you should actually give the episode a watch:


The foreshadowing: during problems with her relationship with Xander, Anya drowns her doldrums with Spike, the only other creature around who can understand the special pain of once being able to kill people who annoy you at will, and now being unable to do so. She takes him with her to the party, where Xander immediately assumes they’re sleeping together, and gets all possessive and offended that Anya would even consider sleeping with Spike. Sound familiar? If it does, that’s because you’ve seen season 6 already. If you have seen season 6, and therefor know what I’m laying down, note that Anya is wearing a red two-piece sweater top and Spike is in his duster, and they are wearing matching outfits during the events of “Entropy.”

Giles playing guitar

The amazing scene: While trying to find out what’s going on, the Scoobies track down Giles who claimed to be doing an “adult thing” at the Espresso Pump.  His adult thing? Open mike night, where the gang catches Giles covering The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes.” And then all the panties burst into flames. Seriously. It’s amazing. I can’t believe they never bothered to release this on any of the soundtrack albums. Fucking travesty, that is.

By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

3 replies on “Retro Recap: Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4.E18 — “Where The Wild Things Are””

Giles. Giles. Ohhhh, Giles. ***swoon***. That song was one of the first things I ever downloaded on Napster back in the day. I then proceeded to listen to it over and over and over.

Do you know of it is true that joss did this episode in response to the network telling him the show was too violent? So he basically wrote an ep full of fucking?

GILES SINGING. MY GOD. GILES SINGING. The best moment in the episode.

Second-best is Spike and Anya commiserating. They are both hilarious, and I love the “I would totally destroy everyone here, if I had my powers/no chip. Oh, look, beer,” conversation.

Otherwise, it’s the Buffy/Riley Sex Battery episode. It’s a great big pile of meh. I do like the foreshadowing (Anya always seemed certain that Xander would leave), and, well, Giles.

I don’t have thoughts or analysis for this one.

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