The night before a full moon, Willow reads from The Call of the Wild to an agitated Oz locked up in the library cage. Xander shows up for the second shiftor rather, snoozing. Meanwhile, Faith and Buffy are making a sweep around Sunnydale. Faith displays a cynical view of males, while Buffy dodges her questions. They talk about Scott and how much Buffy likes him, but is still planning to take it slow on account of her previous history with men. A boy is attacked brutally in the woods.
The next day, Buffy talks to Scott and his friends, Debbie and Pete, who are also a couple. Buffy reveals that she has to go and see Mr. Platt, the school psychologist. Debbie sees him, too, because she has "success issues". Buffy gives Scott a quick kiss goodbye and leaves for her appointment.
Xander and Giles find out about the murder the night before. They discover that Xander slept through his watch and that the window in the pen is open. Everyone is horrified that Oz may have escaped and killed somebody.
Buffy talks to Mr. Platt about her life as vaguely as she possibly can. She finds in him an understanding figureunlike Debbie's descriptionand begins to open up to him more and more. She seems to be on her way to resolving her issues, but on patrol that night, Angel tackles her in the woods. Animalistic, he is no match for Buffy, who chains him up in the mansion. He growls at her like an animal. She discovers the spot on the floor where she left his ring; it was scorched by Angel's body on his return.
At the same time, Willow, Xander and Cordy enter the morgue to inspect the mauled body. Willow seems the only one unfazed, but she faints as soon as she is done collecting her samples.
With everyone else unavailable, Faith stays in the library with Oz. Buffy comes in and receives a hard punch for startling her. Buffy sends Faith away and spends the night searching for answers about the return of Angel. The next morning, Giles finds her asleep around books about demon dimensions and Acathla. She tells him she had a really vivid dream that Angel came back. Giles doubts it could happen, there being no record of such an event. He goes on to explain that with time passing differently in Hell (as Buffy found out in Anne) anybody who returned would have endured seemingly endless torture. Only with extraordinary character would one be able to have retained any semblance of ones self. Most likely they would've become a monster. Willow arrives to inform them that her investigation was not conclusive. Buffy is anxious as she wonders if Angel was responsible.
In the cafeteria, Buffy sits with Scott, whose mother is insulted by Pete along with the school counselor. Buffy decides to leave for the mansion, where she finds Angel huddled in a ball. She tries to touch him, but he jumps at her. She rushes out, scared.
Pete and Debbie sneak into a room to make out. Pete discovers that one of his jars has been emptied and wants confirmation that Debbie didn't drink from it. Buffy returns to Mr. Platt's office and pours her heart out, then realizes that he is dead, he was mauled too.
Pete yells at Debbie, then turns into a monster with very noticeable veins running across his face. He tells her that he needed the substance before to turn into the monster, but now her grating voice is already enough for him to transform. At first one could see his behaviour as a form of steroid rage, but it quickly becomes clear that this is a case of domestic violence, since he begins beating Debbie, then apologizes, turning back into his human self. She forgives him.
In the library, the gang discuss the recent murder. As it happened during the day, Oz is exonerated (as is Angel to Buffy's relief, although she has still not told anyone of his return) to everyone's relief. The Scoobies must look for a murderer who kills during the day.
Oz meets up with Debbie and gives her his study notes as promised. He notices her black eye, but she lies to Oz, telling him she fell on a doorknob. He lets her know he will listen if she decides to talk. Meanwhile, Pete is watching and seething.
The gang have discovered the killer, and they leave Oz in the library to look for Pete and Debbie. Buffy and Willow find Debbie in the locker room and try in vain to talk sense into her, but Debbie foolishly tries to defend Pete and his actions. Meanwhile, Angel breaks free from his shackles, and Pete finds Oz in the library. He turns into a monster and beats up Oz. Then the sun sets, and Oz becomes a werewolf, thus leveling the playing field. Buffy and the rest of the gang arrive to stop the fight, but when Buffy tries to tranquilize Oz, Debbie deliberately pushes her gun away and Buffy ends up shooting Giles. Buffy chases after Pete while Willow and Faith follow Oz.
After a struggle, Faith manages to hit and knock out Oz with a dart. Buffy follows Pete's blood trail, but he finds Debbie first, and despite her pleas and her attempts to appease him, he kills her. Buffy finds Pete, but he knocks her to the ground and advances threateningly on her. Angel arrives on cue and he and Pete begin fighting; after knocking Angel aside, Pete turns his attention back to Buffy, but Angel gets back up and, using the chains still binding his wrists, snaps Pete's neck, killing him. Afterward, he turns his attention to Buffy, but instead of attacking her, reverts to his human face and calls out her name before collapsing to his knees and embracing her in tears. Overwhelmed with emotion, and more confused than ever, Buffy begins to cry as well, finally accepting that Angel is back.
The next day, it is revealed that Pete had concocted a chemical potion that turned him into "Lance Macho" when he became afraid of losing Debbie, but eventually he became monstrous himself. Buffy tries to console Scott, who has lost two of his best friends. Buffy visits the mansion, where Angel sleeps through an apparent nightmare unshackled. The episode ends with Buffy reading from The Call of the Wild.
- All Abusers Are Male
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Deconstructed (for once) with three woman (Buffy, Willow and Debbie) and their relationships with their Monster of the Aesop boyfriends.
- All Therapists Are Muggles: Unlike other examples of this trope - Platt, despite not knowing the specifics of what happened to Buffy, is able to figure out the basics what happened to her, empathize with her pain and offer good advice. From Debbie's words, he was also able to figure out the basics of her and Pete.
- Bad Liar: Oz and Willow walk in on Xander and Giles having an agitated conversation.Giles: Right. (smiles stiffly) It's good to see you. Um, no need to panic.
Oz: Just a thought. Poker — not your game.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Pete (who is human) is killed by Insane!Angel.
- Blatant Lies:
- Xander only 'resting his eyes' while guarding Oz.
- Giles comes across Buffy surrounded by books on Acaltha (the demon from "Becoming") and demon dimensions. She pretends they're books Faith was going through. Aware that Faith is even less into studying than Buffy, Giles is not fooled.
- Debbie tells Oz her black eye came from when she walked into a door.
- Bloody Handprint: Buffy realises Pete fled through a window thanks to this.
- Bored with Insanity: Angel spends most of the episode in a crazed, animalistic state, but when he breaks free of his chains and kills Pete, he calms down, turns to Buffy... and says her name before breaking down in tears and hugging her.
- Brick Joke: Willow is talking to Buffy, after a sleepless night concerned Oz escaped during a full moon and killed someone, part of her sleepless night spent watching donuts being made, and bringing some to the library. She tries to cheer Buffy up by telling her "This time, it's not your boyfriend who's the cold-blooded. . . jelly donut?" she asks as she notices Oz right behind them, having shifted back from werewolf form. Later, they confirm that they are looking for a "kill-in-the-day" monster, to which Oz expresses relief that "At least I'm not a cold-blooded jelly donut."
- Broken Bird: Debbie has been broken down completely by Pete's violent abuse of her. He controls every aspect of her life, resulting in Sanity Slippage.
- Buffy Speak:
- Oz is going wolfey. Jeff's corpse is barf-worthy.
- Scott asks Buffy if they're at the Flowers of Romance stage. Buffy verifies that they're "pre-posey".
- Buffy has to go to the psychologist to confirm that she's Little Miss Stable.
- Willow is Mr Donut after her TV did the snowy thing. She asks Buffy, "How come you're the Wakey Girl?"
- Call-Back: Obvious parallels are drawn with the events of Season 2 involving Angelus.
- Came Back Wrong: Angel. He gets better.
- Can't You Read the Sign?: The road safety poster behind Buffy in the locker room. Most Women Aren't Attracted To Dead Guys.
- Chain Pain: Angel breaks Pete's neck using the chains that are still shackled to his wrists.
- Chair Reveal: Platt, the school counsellor. Later on Buffy comes in and starts blurting out her problems with Angel, only to eventually realise Platt hasn't turned to face her because he's dead.
- Characterization Marches On: Oz's werewolf form is changed from a two-legged, wolf-headed humanoid to a more hybridized version with a more human-like face that walks on all fours.
- Comfort Food: Buffy eats jello. Willow buys donuts.
- The Confidant: Unwilling to share her secret re Angel with the Scoobies, Buffy goes to confide in Platt as he appears to be quirky enough to listen. Unfortunately Pete has got there first.
- Cool vs. Awesome:Werewolf vs Mr. Hydefollowed immediately byVampire Slayer 1 vs Mr. Hydein parallel withVampire Slayer 2 vs Werewolffollowed immediately byVampire vs Mr. Hyde!
- Cry into Chest: Pete clutches at Debbie after hitting her. Angel cries into Buffy's chest/stomach while kneeling in front of her.
- Description Cut:
- Faith says that men are only interested in the chase. Cut to "Jaws" First-Person Perspective of the first victim fleeing the monster.
- "This guy was ripped apart by a big wild animal." Cut to Buffy chaining a snarling Angel up in his mansion.
- Buffy tells Debbie that two people have died already. "Who's gonna be next?" Cut to Pete confronting Oz.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Domestic Abuse: Debbie's a victim of Pete's violent temper.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Done for a Rule of Threes.
- Xander appears behind Willow after an Impending Doom P.O.V., but she's completely unsurprised and just tells him to hold her torch. Xander then startles when Cordelia touches his shoulder in the morgue. "We're doing crime. You don't sneak up during crime!"
- Faith punches Buffy when she taps her shoulder as she's rocking with headphones on.
- Buffy cautiously approaches Angel as he whimpers in the corner, but as soon as she touches him, he rounds on her with a savage snarl.
- Double Entendre: Loads in the Buffy/Faith conversation about Scott.
- Dramatic Shattering: Pete with his bottles of formula, showing that he doesn't need them any more.
- Dying as Yourself: Pete reverts back to his human self after Angel kills him.
- Empowered Badass Normal: Hulk Pete managed to be a lot tougher than anyone anticipated, capable of wholly holding his own against werewolf, slayer and vampire.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Faith.Oz: Well, victim number one, Jeff. He was in jazz band with us. They used to horse around.Faith: They were screwing?
- Face-Revealing Turn: Buffy goes hunting for the monster that killed Jeff, and is knocked down by someone charging her from out of the dark. The monster then turns to snarl at her, revealing a bloody-lipped Angel to a shocked Buffy.
- Failed a Spot Check: Xander says there's no way Oz could have broken out of his cage without waking him up...then realises the window has been left open.
- Failed Dramatic Exit: Oz tries to do the storming-off thing, only for Willow to gently point out that it's near sunset so he has to get into the cage.
- Friend to Psychos: Debbie tries to cover for her boyfriend Pete when he starts going through a Jekyll/Hyde situation. She's not very good at it, though.
- Foreshadowing: Angels shackle chains are shown to be loosely attached to the wall.
- Game Face:
- Pete has one complete with bulged veins and talons instead of fingernails.
- Angel kills Pete in his game face, but as he moves toward Buffy he then morphs back into his human features and says her name.
- Get Out!: Feeling isolated (and guilty) because he's under suspicion of murder, Oz curtly tells Willow to get away from the cage, as he'll be transforming soon.
- Gone Horribly Right: Pete's formula was supposed to make him "super mass macho".
- Good Is Not Soft: Buffy forces Debbie to see what Pete is like, including physically making her look at her abused self in the mirror. It doesn't work, leading to I Think You Broke Her.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The first victim is shown lying on a morgue slab with his face turned to the side. Cordelia and Xander are severely grossed out, as opposed to Willow The Determinator gathering samples; when she's finished her task however she promptly faints on the spot.
- Half Truth / It's a Long Story: Buffy can't exactly discuss why she ran away with her psychologist, so dances around the subject until Platt guesses the essence of the problem anyway.
- Hulking Out: Pete's constant use of his formula has made him transform whenever he goes angry.
- Idiot Ball: Xander is assigned to guard Oz, but puts his head down on a nearby table straight away to catch some Z's.
- Impending Doom P.O.V.:
- The first victim, Jeff.
- Then Buffy — this turns out to be Angel lurking in the woods.
- Then Willow in the morgue — it turns out to be Xander.
- Then Pete/Debbie for another Bait-and-Switch, Pete being the actual killer.
- Is That What They're Calling It Now?:Oz: Debbie. (Giles looks at him) Well, victim number one, Jeff. He was in jazz band with us. They used to horse around.
Faith: They were screwing?
Oz: I don't think so, but he hid her music comp book once.
- I Think You Broke Him: A rare version that's not played for comedy."She was broken before this." Nicely astute observation there Buff.
- Instant Death Bullet: The Scoobies speculate that Debbie lost her temper and killed Platt during therapy. But Buffy notes that his cigarette ash was undisturbed, meaning he was killed instantly and without warning.
- Kind Restraints: Buffy chains up a crazed Angel in Angelus' mansion.
- Leitmotif: "Close Your Eyes" plays as Angel finally recognizes Buffy.
- Madness Mantra: "He does love me. He does love me."
- Magic Pants: Considering that Angel returned from Hell in a feral state, how and why did he acquire trousers since he came back to Earth naked?
- Monster of the Aesop: Though the more anvilicious aspects of the trope are averted by including the Oz/Willow and Angel/Buffy relationships as contrasts.
- Monster Modesty: Even though Angel was Naked on Arrival and is still in a feral state, he's somehow dressed in pants to protect his modesty, plus boots for running through The Lost Woods.
- Mugging the Monster: Pete attacking Oz just before he transforms. Bad idea.Oz: (getting Black Eyes of Evil) Time's up. Rules change.
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Well, literature in this case, specifically The Call of the Wild, which Willow reads to Oz when he's transformed (as long as you don't mention rabbits).
- Mythology Gag: Willow's Scooby-Doo lunchbox which she uses to gather her samples during the morgue scene.
- Not So Different: Buffy can't help noting the similarities between her relationship with Angel and Debbie's with Pete, in that she's driven to excuse and protect a man who has abused her and killed innocents because she still loves him.
- Not So Stoic: Giles angrily shouts at Xander for falling asleep while keeping watch over Werewolf!Oz.
- Now It's My Turn: Oz really tried to warn Pete, but Pete didn't listen and went for his usual brutal attack. But as soon as the moon rises, Pete is simply no match for the werewolf.
- Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Scott is his usual nice-guy self the morning after Buffy discovers Angel, making her wonder again about her attraction to a man who is also a monster. Likewise Willow and Giles bring up her past with Angel in A Shared Suffering, making Buffy feel guilty over hiding the truth.
- Oh, Crap!: When Oz wolfs out, we get a brief shot of a stunned Pete, who realizes that for once he's bitten off more than he can chew.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Giles discovers Buffy asleep over books relating to Acathla and demon dimensions, she brushes it off as having a dream that Angel returned (which he has, but she's not sharing that part). Giles remarks that "It must have been some dream. I didn't think you knew what a card catalog was for." Since Slayers are known to have prophetic dreams, and Buffy took this one seriously enough to do actual research, Giles is nothing but supportive.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: This episode marks the new look of Buffyverse werewolves from Man in Hairy Wolf-Head Suit to a more lupine/apelike style.
- Parental Favouritism: Giles gets angry at Xander for falling asleep while guarding Oz. When Giles finds Buffy asleep in the library after taking over guard duty from Faith, he just smiles.
- Poor Communication Kills: Buffy conceals Angel's return from her friends, afraid of their hostile and quite possibly lethal reaction. More seriously, she maintains the lie in subsequent episodes long after she's assured this really is her One True Love and not some murderous killer in his form. This has near-fatal consequences in "Revelations", laying the groundwork of her permanent rift with Faith later in the season.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: From Oz no less.
- Time's up. Rules change.
- Psycho Serum: Continuing the Hulk/Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde parallels.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Stephen Platt is an adult who seems to genuinely try to engage with Buffy and get her to open up about what is dwelling on her (specifically about her relationship with Angel).
- Reckless Gun Usage: Xander picks up the tranquilizer rifle with his finger on the trigger, and points it at Oz's cage while talking about him. Willow gently takes the rifle away.
- Red Herring: Oz, then Angel, then Debbie are set up as suspects before Pete's true nature is revealed.
- Right Behind Me/Last-Second Word Swap: Oz is a cold-blooded...jelly donut?
- Sanity Slippage: Pete's abuse of Debbie has horribly damaged her, to the point where Buffy's interrogation results in her sitting with her head bowed muttering a Madness Mantra to herself.
- Say My Name:Angel: Buffy...
- Shirtless Scene: Oz and Angel.
- Shot in the Ass/Friend or Foe: Buffy accidentally shoots Giles in the backside with a Tranquillizer Dart, after Debbie knocks her rifle aside to stop her shooting Pete.
- Sickly Green Glow: Pete's formula.
- Sinister Silhouettes: Buffy finds Angel's shadow burnt into the floor of his mansion, from where he fell through from the hell dimension.
- The Speechless: Angel can only growl and snarl. Buffy realises there's still hope for Angel when he speaks her name.
- Tempting Fate: Oz tries to talk Pete out of opening the cage around sunset. "Something's going to happen that you probably won't believe." Pete morphs into his monster self. "Or you might..."
- That Came Out Wrong: Willow puts up towels to give Oz some privacy when he transforms back into a human.Xander: No worries. I can handle the Oz Full Monty. I mean, not 'handle' handle, like 'hands to flesh' handle.
- There Are Two Kinds Of Monsters In The World:Giles: In my experience, there are... two types of monster. The first can be redeemed, or more importantly, wants to be redeemed.Buffy: And the second type?Giles: The second is void of humanity, cannot respond to reason... or love.
- There Was a Door: Pete in monster mode rips the cage door off its hinges to get at Oz.
- Transformation Sequence
- Trial Balloon Question: Buffy tells Giles she dreamed of Angel's return (as Buffy has had prophetic dreams he's not suspicious or dismissive) to find out whether there's any hope for Angel's recovery. Giles bringing up the subject of Jenny's death doesn't encourage her to come clean.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Debbie knocks aside the tranquilizer rifle as Buffy is about to shoot Pete, who just blames her for bringing the Scoobies down on him.
- Unwanted Assistance:Xander: Oz does not eat people. (Cordelia rolls her eyes) It's more werewolf play. You know, I bat you around a little bit, like a cat toy. I have harmless, wolf fun. Is it Oz's fault that, you know, side effect, people get cut to ribbons, and maybe then he'll take a little nibble and... (Willow gives him a hurt look) I'm not helping, am I?Giles: (curtly) No.
- Very Special Episode: The episode deals with the nature of boyfriends switching between nice and a jerk. The Space Whale Aesop is stretched to the breaking point in this one, as it portrays the boyfriend as a literal monster, the abused girlfriend as a total basket case, and the onlookers as condescending jerkwads, thereby insulting just about everyone who could conceivably find themselves in such a situation.
- Villain Ball: Pete really should have made sure Angel stayed down before going after Buffy again.
- Weapon of Choice: Buffy only has a stake when hunting the as-yet unknown monster.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: In just one scene, Stephen Platt seems to actually get through to Buffy and helps her come to an easier mental place after returning to Sunnydale, and Buffy comes away appreciative that there's someone willing to hear her out without harshly judging her. Unfortunately, he's almost immediately killed off by Pete Clarner afterward.
- We Need a Distraction: Willow gets Werewolf!Oz off Faith by pulling his tail and running away!
- What the Hell, Hero?: Oz has this reaction when he learns Faith is going to watch over him while in lupine form, thinking a Slayer being on hand to stop him should something go wrong is a major overreaction.
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: The hell dimension where Angel was.
- Your Makeup Is Running: Debbie after Pete hits her. Though the massive shiner draws attention from it.