The Pack



It’s Sunnydale High’s zoo field trip and Buffy is bored, until Xander reminds her it’s not just a field trip, it’s time out of the classroom. Nearby a group of school buillies, Kyle, Rhonda, Tor and Heidi, are on the prowl and find soon find their prey in Lance. Fortunately for Lance, Principal Flutie comes to break up the party, but Lance is wise to his future safety at school and tells him everything is ok. Impressed by this, the group decide he can tag along with them and head off to check out the hyena house, which is in a restricted area. Buffy, Xander and Willow watch as they head off and Xander heads off to save Lance. Buffy and Willow try to follow but are stopped by the Zookeeper who tells them that the hyenas have just come from Africa and are in quarantine.

Meanwhile, the other group and Lance have reached the Hyena House and enter. It is dark and gloomy and the hyenas look kinda scary. Lance becomes nervous, which isn’t helped by being grabbed and shoved towards the cage. Xander arrives before things get worse an pulls Lance away, squaring off with Kyle. A noise coming from the hyena cage disturbs them, with the exception of Lance, who is busy trying to escape, the group turn towards the noise. The hyena’s eyes flash yellow, followed in turn by those of Kyle, Rhonda, Tor, Heidi and Xander. Lances stumbles as he tries to get away, catching the attention of the newly formed pack, who turn towards him and begin to laugh maniacally. As they do, we see they are standing on a symbolic hyena face which has been drawn on the floor.

That night, Buffy and Willow are at the Bronze, Willow, as ever, has her mind on Xander commenting that he was acting strangely on the bus on the way back from the zoo, Buffy, however, did not notice. Xander arrives and there is definitely something different about him, he’s more aloof, more confident as he strolls over to where Buffy and Willow are sitting, as he reaches them he hungrily grabs Buffy’s croissant and then sniffs at her hair. The two girls comment on this strange behavior, but Xander is distracted, he turns to see Kyle and the rest of the pack slinking in, they exchange a look with Xander and move on, picking on a fat kid sitting on his own as they go. Xander laughs along with them.

The next day, Buffy finishes a training session with Giles and heads towards the school hall where she is met by an ongoing panic, students and Principal Flutie flee as a very non-mean looking pig, dressed as the Razorback’s mascot, runs through the hall. With a quick move, Buffy scoops up the pig into her arms and tries to give him back to Mr. Flutie, who instead indicates to her to follow him and replace Herbert back in his cage.

Meanwhile, out in the quad, Willow is trying to teach Xandergeometry, but he is having more difficulty than usual. Frustrated, he throws the book away and takes off, heading into the school and passed the classroom where Mr Flutie has been relieving Herbert of is outfit while he is still in Buffy’s arms. As Xander walks past, Herbet begins to squeal and struggle violently.

An rare rainy day in California means that gym class is to be held indoors, which also means, dodge ball. Xander and his new friends are on one team with Lance, Buffy and Willow on the opposing side. Buffy, of course, excels, as do Xander and his pack. The pack take out Buffy’s team one by one, including Willow who is surprised and distressed when it is Xander who, rather roughly, takes her out, soon it is Buffy versus The Pack and Lance. A standoff occurs, Buffy staring at he adversaries who, in turn, stare back. After a moment, they turn as one on their own team member, the unfortunate Lance.

As gym ends, Xander makes his way down the hallway with his new friends, spotting Willow waiting for him, he breaks off to talk to her, taking her to one side, slightly away from the waiting pack, but not out of earshot. Leaning in to speak to her, Xander allows Willow to believe that he is about to tell her that he is ready to take her friendship further, but instead informs her that he is going to drop geometry and, therefore, will never have to see her again. The Pack all laugh hysterically as Willow tries to hide her distress. Buffy, having also overheard everything, confronts Xander, but he just laughs as he rejoins his pack and they head outside.

Outside, they slink through the school grounds, Xander sniffs the air, smelling hot dogs, he makes his way towards the source, followed by the pack. A group of students are sitting enjoying their lunch, they attack, Heidi and Tor grabbing a hot dog each, but throw it away in distaste, being too well done for their taste. Xander sniffs again, smells something else and they head off once more. Xander’s newly acute nose leads him to the class room where Herbert is being kept, they move towards his cage with hungry looks on their faces.

Later that day, Buffy comforts a still distraught Willow while Xander watches them from some distance away. Convinced their is weirdness afoot, Buffy heads off to consult Giles, Xander leaves the pack and follows her.

In the library, Giles dismisses Xander’s behavior as merely the testosterone-induced actions of a 16 year old boy, but Buffy persists that something is wrong and suddenly it starts to come together. His strange behavior started after his visit to the quarantined Hyena House. Their discussions are interrupted by Willow who bursts in with the news of Herbert’s untimely demise. Finally, Giles is convinced and gets to work on the research.

Surrounded by his books, Giles learns of a tribe of primals in Africa who believe that the animal state is the purest state and have found a way to trans-possess the spirit of animals, mainly of the predatory persuasion. What happens if the possession is not reverses is not a pretty sight and Buffy sets off to find Xander.

Mr Flutie, meanwhile, has found the rest of the pack and sent them to his office with threats of detention for what they have done to poor Herbert.

Buffy heads to Herbert’s classroom, studying the cage which has been ripped apart. She is startled to find Xander right there next to her. They stare at each other for a moment and then Buffy leaps at him, knocking him to the floor and landing on top of him. Xander is stronger now and rolls Buffy over so that he is on top of her, she struggles but he has her pinned. She manages to get up and move away, but Xander is up too and pushes her against the wall, making crude sexual advances.

At the same time, the rest of the pack are in Flutie’s office, not really paying attention as he lectures them. They start to circle him, silently, thinking that he looks a lot like dinner. Flutie threatens to ring their parents but before he can do so, they are on him. Dinner is served.

That evening, Willow is sitting in the library watching hyena videos on the computer when Buffy walks in, dragging an unconscious Xander behind her. She locks him in the book cage as Giles arrives back from a meeting with news of the principal’s fate. They decide that something needs to be done and fast. Willow volunteers to watch Xadner while Buffy and Giles head off to pay a call on the zookeeper.

Meanwhile, the rest of the pack, well fed and sleepy, are taking a nap in the woods.

Back in the library, Willow is still watching the hyena footage when Xander comes round. He lures her toward him with talk of how things were better before Buffy came along, Willow plays along, pretending to be fooled until she’s right up to the cage, the keys dangling temptingly from her pocket. Xander makes a grab for the keys, but Willow is ready and steps back. She returns to her seat, leaving Xander to pace in his cage.

At the zoo, Buffy and Giles have reached the Hyena House with the zookeeper and Giles confirms that these are the same breed that the primals would worship. The only information that they have is that a predatory act and a symbol are needed in order to perform the ritual. The zookeeper admits that he has been studying these hyenas since they were brought to the zoo, he tells them he may know how to revert the possession, but they need to bring the possessed students back to the cage. When Buffy tells him that she can guarantee one of them, but she does not know where the rest of them are, the zookeeper informs them that once fed and rested, the rest of the pack will seek out their missing member. Realising Willow is alone with Xander and in danger, Buffy and Giles rush back to the school.

In the library, Willow is still watching her videos and Xander has the pack arrive, calling her name from the window. Xander starts to kick at his cage and Willow makes a run for it as the others come crashing through the window. They have a brief reunion with their missing pack member before going to look for Willow. The pack split, Xander and Heidi heading for the classroom where Willow is hiding behind a desk. Sniffing, they enter the classroom, then Heidi leaves, shutting the door behind her. Think she is safe, Willow comes out from her hiding place to find herself face to face with Xander. She makes a run for the door, pushing a desk in Xander’s way, only to find Heidi waiting for her. Buffy and Giles, however, have arrived in the nick of time, Buffy takes out Heidi and the three run to a classroom where they barricade themselves in. Finding that their prey has friends, the pack soon leave in search of someone weaker. Buffy heads off to find them.

Out on the street, a family return to their car after visiting with friends, as husband and wife argue, their son hears his name called, and the pack are on them, smashing the windows of the car. Xander is reaching in to young Joey when Buffy arrives, standing on top of the car. Xander soon forgets about Joey and turns his attention to Buffy, lunging at her, but she is off and running a top speed towards the zoo before he can reach her. Xander and the pack follow.

Meanwhile, Giles and Willow have made their own way back to the Hyena House, but arrive to find no sign of the zookeeper. Giles tells Willow to wait outside for Buffy, Giles enters the house where he finds the zookeeper ready and prepared; his face painted blue and white, and dressed in the ceremonial Masai costume worn for the ritual. Giles notices the symbol painted on the floor and it suddenly occurs ot him that it would have already needed to be there when the original possession happened. Giles makes a run for it but the zookeeper is too quick for him, hitting Giles over the head with a wooden club, he drags him off into the darkness. T

Outside, Willow hears Buffy and the pack coming and pelts down the path into the house, as her eyes adjust to the darkness she sees the zookeeper sitting in the midst of the symbol amongst candles. As they hear Buffy and the pack getting closer, the zookeeper tells Willow that he will need her help, and proceeds to bind her hands, this done he produces a knife, explaining that this is for the predatory act. Willow realises what is happening just as Buffy and the pack reach the enclosure.

Buffy runs to save Willow, but the pack are on her. The zookeeper begins his chanting, stopping the pack in their tracks, they turn to look at him, their eyes glowing yellow as each in turn passes their power back to the zookeeper, ending with Xander.

Fully empowered, the zookeeper moves towards Willow and is about to make her his supper when a recovered Xander rushes him. The zookeeper turns his attention to Xander, throwing him to the floor, but this has given Buffy time to regroup and she comes at the zookeeper with a flying kick. He grabs her feet and throws her, she lands inches away from the wall, behind which the hyenas lie in wait. He comes at her again, but she grabs him and throws him over the wall, where the Hyenas finally get their supper.

The next day, an extremely embarrassed Xander has apparently no memory of anything that happened since he first went in to the Hyena house. The girls assure him that he had nothing to do with the consumption of Principal Flutie and didn’t do anything too embarrassing. Buffy and Willow head off to class, but Giles catches up with Xander. Curiously, he has been unable to find any mention of memory loss connected with animal possession.

The rouse is up!!


  1. The picture in the book used to show the consequences of animal possession is an illustration from Dante’s Inferno by French artist Gustave Dore.
  2. Giles consults the Malleus Maleficarum, an actual historical text on witchcraft.
  3. The majority of the hyena documentary footage shown inthe episde is acually about African Wild dogs.
  4. The zoo featured in this episode is the Santa Ana Zoo.


Giles: Xander’s taken to teasing the less fortunate?
Buffy: Uh-huh
Giles: And, uh, there’s a noticeable change in both clothing and demeanor?
Buffy: Yes.
Giles: And, well, otherwise, all his spare time’s spent lounging about with imbeciles?
Buffy: It’s bad, isn’t it?
Giles: It’s devastating. He’s turned into a 16 year-old boy. Of course, you’ll have to kill him.

Xander: Why don’t you pick on someone your own species?

Giles: Testosterone is a great equaliser. it turns all men into morons.


  • When Buffy returns to the library dragging an unconscious Xander, a deadbolt can be seen on the right-hand library door. It was not there when she left (or at any time before this).

  • Reluctant Man – Sprung Monkey (when the pack enters the Bronze)
  • All You Want – Dashboard Prophets (when Buffy and Willow enter the Bronze
  • Job’s Eyes – Far (when the pack walk through the courtyard.

Episode guide
© Cider 09/08/2004

Characters and Story © Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & 20th Century Fox


Author: Cider

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