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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4E18 "Where the Wild Things Are"

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"Xander! Don't you knock?"

"So with Buffy and Riley having... You know, acts of nakedness 'round the clock lately, maybe they set something free, like a big, bursting poltergasm."
Xander Harris

Directed by David Solomon

Written by Tracey Forbes & Douglas Petrie

Buffy and Riley fight a vampire and a demon in the cemetery, finally disposing of both of them. While they intend to go tell Giles about the odd pairing of demon and vampire, they opt for sex at Riley's dorm at Lowell House. Later that night, Riley gets up in the middle of the night, acting as if he hears something from the restroom. All he finds is a dripping faucet in the tub.

Xander is driving an ice cream truck and Anya is with him. Xander wants to attend an upcoming party at Lowell House, but Anya, being an ex-demon, dislikes the idea of partying with the Initiative. She feels Xander is not being sensitive to her feelings. She is also concerned that Xander might be losing interest in her since they did not have sex the previous night, the second such night in the course of their relationship. Frustrated, Xander suggests they have sex right then and there. The two realize the side of the truck is open, revealing a group of children and parents waiting for ice cream.


At UC Sunnydale, the gang meets to discuss the patrol the night before. Riley suggests that Adam is bringing the races of demons together. Everyone agrees this is the most likely explanation for vampire and demon working together. Buffy and Riley escape for some alone time, which is no secret to the rest of the gang. Giles learns there will be a party, but says he can't attend because he has a prior engagement at The Espresso Pump.

That evening, the heat is out at Lowell House, which makes it hard for the residents to sleep. Buffy and Riley continue their romp in Riley's room tirelessly. An Initiative agent builds a fire in a fireplace. For no apparent reason, the fire suddenly flares up out of its enclosure and sets his clothes on fire.

Outside the Bronze, Spike jumps out at Anya, trying to scare her into giving him money. She taunts him as being pathetic and friendless. He asks where "Droopy Boy" (Xander) is, suggesting he might have "better things to do" than spend time with Anya.


At the party, Buffy and Riley are making eyes at each other from across the room while their friends attempt to talk to them.

Spike and Anya bond over beer at The Bronze. They both miss their demon powers. Spike suggests they both take vengeance on their respective lovers, but Anya says she can't bring herself to eviscerate Xander. Spike says he might stake Drusilla some time later.

At the party at Lowell House, a man casually places his hand on a wall while talking to a girl. He suddenly feels great sexual pleasure. Xander flirts with a girl named Julie. Riley and Buffy escape upstairs to resume their own private party. Another man at the party puts his hand on the same wall, with the same result. Willow and Tara are sitting on a stairway. Willow touches Tara's knee, but Tara backs away, disgusted with the gesture. Anya and Spike then arrive at the party and the two verbally gang up on Xander. Spike joins the party when it appears that the Initiative soldiers are not interested in capturing him. Anya tells Xander their relationship is over. Xander insists he is the one who is leaving.

A group is playing spin the bottle, and Xander joins in. On Xander's turn, the bottle lands on Julie, and he kisses her on the cheek. She jumps him, forces him down and kisses him aggressively, then seems to snap out of a trance, apologizes and runs away. Xander follows. More partygoers try touching the wall. Xander finds Julie in a closet cutting off her hair and calling herself bad. Willow goes to the restroom looking for Tara. Instead she finds what seems to be a boy drowning in a bathtub. When she reaches for him, he vanishes, then reappears behind her.

Upstairs, Buffy and Riley continue their lovemaking. Riley hears Willow scream, but Buffy says it doesn't matter. Xander tries to find someone who is a friend of Julie's, but no one seems to hear him. Xander finds Willow as Tara comes down the stairs. Tara says she doesn't like the place and suggests they leave

In the "spin the bottle" game, the bottle spins rapidly and then explodes. Willow, Tara and Xander run upstairs to find Buffy and Riley, but their door is locked and they no longer hear anything outside their room. As vines seem to grow from beneath every door in the house, Tara goes to a balcony to see what is going on in the party.

The house begins to shake, as if from an earthquake. Spike is pleased that the party is becoming more interesting, until leather straps, moving by themselves, bind him to the chair where he is sitting. Forrest wants to help people to safety, and appeals to Graham. Graham, in an unnatural voice, replies "touch not the impure thing... Find salvation in the cross of our Lord and Savior." Forrest chivvies Graham into an elevator that leads down to the Initiative headquarters. What appears to be a ghost runs straight through Anya. Spike breaks free of his bonds and everyone escapes outside. Julie, who has cut off all her hair, is one of the last to leave.

Downstairs, the Initiative locks down. Graham is back to normal.

Willow wants to go back into Lowell House for Buffy and Riley. Xander tries it, but an unseen entity hurls him through the air. He suggests getting help from Giles.

The gang goes to the Espresso Pump, where it turns out Giles's big event is that he is playing guitar and singing The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" (quite well). Willow, Tara, and Anya are impressed, but Xander is disturbed.

Lowell House is now empty except for Buffy and Riley, who are so wrapped up in what they are doing that they notice nothing outside their room. The vines are stirring and the ghostly cries are heard in the house.

Back at Giles's apartment, Willow's research reveals that the Lowell House was a home for disturbed adolescents from 1949 to 1960. They find and visit the woman, Genevieve Holt, who ran the children's home. She explains that she rewarded the children when they were good and punished them when they displayed any interest in sex. She would cut off the girls' hair when they seemed vain about their appearance. She would "baptize" the most unclean by holding them under water in a bathtub. After leaving Mrs. Holt's place, Giles says he thinks that a group of poltergeists is now releasing their pent up sexual feelings, while drawing energy from Buffy and Riley. When Buffy and Riley are drained of all their strength, they will die.

Willow, Tara and Giles perform a spell to distract the ghosts. Xander and Anya hack their way through the vines and try to reach Buffy and Riley. Anya is knocked across the house while Xander is dragged into the bathroom and held underwater. Anya makes her way upstairs to save Xander and they fight against the vines and finally open Riley's door, where the lovers, still oblivious of all that has been happening around them, complain that they should have knocked. The next day, the gang talks about Giles's "mid-life crisis" and the consequences of Buffy and Riley's endless sex. Unconvincingly, Buffy and Riley say how horrible the experience was.

Tropes in this episode:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Everyone except Buffy and Riley, who spend most of the episode in bed having "you-know-what".
  • Aliens Made Them Do It: Or ghosts (well, sort of), in this case.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: Averted with Willow, who once had a bad birthday pony experience when she was young. Tara offers to teach her horseback riding.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Anya thinks Xander is going to break up with her because they went a night without having sex.
    Anya: I don't understand. I'm pretty, I'm young... I mean... Why don't you take advantage of me? Is something wrong with your body?
  • Aroused by Their Voice: The female Scoobies think Giles's singing is quite sexy.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Xander trying to persuade Anya to go in the house:
    Anya, look around! There's ghosts and shaking, and people are going all Felicity with their hair...
  • As the Good Book Says...: Graham, Not Himself, quotes the Bible and stares at nothing.
  • Battle Couple: Buffy and Riley tag-team to take down a demon/vampire tag team. Who says we can't just get along?
  • Bad Humor Truck: Xander and Anya are having an argument, and Xander suggests making up with hot sweaty sex then and there... only to realize a family with small children are standing outside their ice cream truck listening to them.
  • Bad Vibrations
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Xander asks for volunteers to go back in and rescue Buffy and Riley. No one is particularly eager until Spike surprises everyone by speaking up.
    Spike: I know I'm not the first choice for heroics ... and Buffy's tried to kill me more than once. And, I don't fancy a single one of you at all. But... [pauses] Actually, all that sounds pretty convincing. [shakes his head and walks off] I wonder if Asian House is open.
  • Blatant Lies: Riley/Buffy's excuses for nipping off for sex.
    Buffy: I need you to take a look at... an essay... for class.
    Riley: That... essay. Right. Here. I'll catch you guys in a minute... uh, essay... gotta look at...
    Graham: And I'm the one who got a "D" in Covert Ops.
  • Continuity Nod: The guy who discovers the "erogenic spot" on the wall was previously seen drinking himself down to the lower paleolithic.
  • Deliberately Distressed Damsel (and Dude): Buffy and Riley aren't very upset at being forced to have constant sex.
  • Double-Meaning Title: This episode's title has a double meaning, referring both to the episode's main setting (a house that is haunted by ghosts, the titular "wild things") and the phrase "doing the wild thing", a metaphor for sex. 
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: The shower curtain surrounding the bath.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Spike and Anya share a drink at the Bronze and bemoan their Badass Decay.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: A college student is chatting up a girl by talking of the lyrical eroticism of French. Then he puts his hand on the "orgasm spot" and moans. The girl goes, "Wow, you really like French!"
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Xander says he's going in to get his friends, only to get hurled out the frat house door by an invisible force. "Or it could be Watcher time."
  • Fantastic Racism: Subverted, demons and vampires are working together, inspired by Adam.
    Willow: Huh. Just like Martin Luther King.
  • Fetish: Willow moaning at Giles singing before saying how she had such a crush on him.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Spike having to talk himself out of helping to save Buffy.
    • Spike suggests to Anya they get revenge on their significant others.
  • Ghostly Chill: Graham and Forrest are complaining how cold the frat house is.
  • Haunted House: Turns out, though, it's not actually haunted—no one died there, but the sexual repression and strong negative emotions the children experienced created Living Memories who appeared as ghostly forms.
  • Holier Than Thou: Genevieve Holt. She cuts the girls' hair if they are "bad" and punishes them by "baptizing" them (putting the young orphans' heads in the bathtub) if they are "unclean". Now a manifestation that was not only a ghost, but a poltergeist that took the form of the raw emotions of the orphans brings those who were attending a party at the Lowell house the same treatment Holt did to the orphans.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Fighting Fangs and Horny does indeed make Buffy and Riley horny.
  • Ironic Echo: Anya brings Spike to the frat party, casually revealing that it's full of Initiative soldiers.
    Spike: What are you doing? You brought me here?
    Xander: Anya! [sees Spike] What are you doing? You brought him here?
    Spike: That's what I said... only I hit the "here" part.
  • Jaw Drop: Willow and Xander watching Giles sing.
  • Karma Houdini: Genevieve Holt. She serially abused the children placed in her care but the worst that she gets is a brief lecture from Giles. The poltergeists focus their attentions on the current residents of Lowell house and nobody ever considers reporting her to the police.
  • Living Memory: A whole house full of orphans raised by The Fundamentalist left strong negative impressions, which are given power by Buffy and Riley's sexual energy and begin doing typical ghostly things and making the party guests act out their experiences and repressed feelings, alternating between lustful and sex-repulsed behavior.
  • Longing Look: Riley and Buffy aren't paying attention to what their friends at the party are saying because they're too busy making gooey eyes at each other. Willow uses the opportunity to confess to spilling something on Buffy's 'borrowed' sweater.
  • Love Is in the Air: Once the Living Memories gain a bit of power, they force Buffy and Riley to keep feeding them via non-stop boinking. Meanwhile, a particular spot on the wall of the house induces an orgasm in whoever places their hand on it.
  • Madness Mantra: Julie cutting off her hair.
    Julie: I'm bad, I'm bad, I'm bad...
  • Machete Mayhem: Xander hacks through the vines.
  • Make-Out Kids: Buffy and Riley are getting on everyone's nerves.
  • Man on Fire: Buffy and Riley upstairs stoke the fire downstairs until it explodes in the face of an Initiative soldier. Fortunately his colleagues are there to throw a fraternity banner on him.
  • Mental Affair: The 'orgasm spot' on the wall.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Buffy and Riley are shown going at it over and over as the camera pulls back, but discretely shows both wrapped in the bedsheet.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Xander the ice cream man.
  • Not Themself: Tara's disgusted reaction to Willow touching her. Buffy and Riley not responding to Willow's scream. Graham staring blankly while quoting the Bible. Played for Laughs with Giles's guitar playing.
    Tara: Does he do this a lot?
    Xander: Sure. Every day the Earth rotates backward and the skies turn orange.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Buffy's too busy sharing Longing Looks with Riley.
    Xander: [re. Anya] Which, makes me wonder, is it me? Am I the crazy one?
    Buffy: [looking at Riley] Uh-huh. Absolutely.
    Willow: Hey, Buffy, this might be a good time to mention that someone, so not me, spilled something purply on your new peasant top which I would never borrow without asking. Still love me?
    Buffy: Uh-huh. [beat] Huh? What about my peasant top?
    Willow: Nothin'.
  • Not So Dire: After the Crisis of the Week is over...
    Riley: I can't believe that really happened.
    Buffy: That's so creepy. [beat] Giles really sang?
  • Oblivious Mockery: Giles is annoyed to hear the Initiative commandos will be having a party instead of patrolling for Adam. Riley calmly explains it's his idea, as his men are getting stressed out and need some R & R.
  • Only Sane Man: Well, several here actually.
  • Out with a Bang: What the Scoobies narrowly prevent happening to Buffy and Riley—the memory spirits intended to drain their sexual energy until there wasn't enough to live on.
  • Person as Verb: "People are going all Felicity with their hair".
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Sarah Michelle Gellar was away shooting "Sanctuary" during the filming, which is why we see so little of Buffy
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Giles gives one to the fraternity's former owner after finding out that her forcing the children under her care to be emotionally repressed was the cause of the apparitions haunting the place now.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Xander tries to rally the group to go back into the frathouse Spike steps foreward and launches into a speech about how he'll go even though he doesn't like any of them...and on hearing himself say that he changes his mind and leaves.
  • Shackle Seat Trap: Spike is sitting in a chair, smirking at all the chaos around him, when suddenly straps whip across his arms and mouth by the living memories.
  • Ship Tease: Willow likes Giles's sexy singing voice, and reveals she used to have a crush on him.
  • Shirtless Scene: Riley shows off his abs.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Xander mentions Felicity in reference to the title character (in)famously cutting her hair.
    • Giles sings The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes."
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Willow appealing to the ghosts to "Transform your pain... release your past... and, uh, get over it."
  • Spin the Bottle: The bottle ends up spinning on its own and exploding into everyone's faces.
  • Spooky Séance: Tara holds one, which draws the memory spirits out of the house long enough for Xander and Anya to enter. Instead, they surround Willow, Tara and Giles, staring creepily.
  • STD Immunity: Averted; Riley has a drawer by the bed with condoms.
  • Talk About That Thing: Employed so Buffy and Riley can sneak away, though no one is fooled into thinking "that thing" means anything other than sex.
  • Tempting Fate: Once the earthquake begins, Spike is practically shaking with excitement, believing the party has finally gotten interesting. This is immediately negated when he is suddenly strapped to the chair.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • When the situation is explained to Giles.
      Giles: In the midst of all that, you really think they were keeping it up? [everyone looks at him] Oh, for a different phrasing.
    • Buffy/Riley are attacked by a vampire and a Horned Humanoid.
      Buffy: You get Fangs, I'll get Horny. I mean...note 
  • Traumatic Haircut: The caretaker would cut off the hair of girls she found "preening"—this is self-inflicted on one of the party guests.
  • The Triple:
    Xander: What do you feel?
    Anya: Sad, afraid of being without you, and a little hungry.
  • Vampires Are Rich: Averted; Spike has to resort to mugging for his booze and cigarette money. He can't actually attack anyone, but his Game Face is good for scaring people.
  • When Trees Attack: Anya is attacked by deadly vines, one of which gives her an Impaled Palm.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Forrest's reaction to hearing the Biley bonkfest. "Do they ever come up for air?"