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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 4, Episodes 5 – 6

December 29, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4-05 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Veruc Assault: A BTVS Retrospective, S4 E5-6


Episode 5

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Episode five of season four is called “BEER BAD”, and I have one-million-percent seen this on lists of “The Worst Episode Of Good Shows”. And after how much I have dug [most of] the first four episodes of this season, that is legitimately disappointing. Let’s see how bad it can be. Because there have been plenty of really bad episodes of this show so far.

We start off with Buffy out killing s vampire, and Parker catches her in the act! He thanks her for saving his life and begs her to take him back, but… it was all a dream, and Buffy used to read Word Up magazine. Buffy is in Psychology class with Ms. What’s-Her-Name. She glances across the class and sees him flirting with another girl; I’m very excited that not only is this the only class Buffy seems to have, but all of the main characters have it, too!

The lesson of the day is on Id/Ego/Superego, but BTVS understand dramatic iron by having her ignore this lesson and go back to her daydream about saving Parker.

Xander gets together with the gang and tells them he got a job as a bartender at the nearby watering hole, which to him means he can try to get laid by lighting girls’ cigarettes. Buffy STILL only wants to talk about Parker, even as Willow kindly tells her to STFU and that Parker is the drizzling shits. But Buffy is LOVELORN, guys! Don’t you understand her PAIN?


At the bar, Xander is struggling with his new job as a hoard of college kids all shout their orders at him. Buffy sees Parker there with another girl, and her distraction causes her to literally bump into Riley. They talk a bit, and Riley seems to know all about Parker The Player, but Buffy don’t give a shit. She just stares longingly at Parker and ignores Riley until he leaves.

Xander finally finds a girl who seems interested in his flirting, but a college guy interferes and talks down to Xander. This boy, you see, is very smart. He is the future of the nation! Xander is a peanut-filler.

Oh, show. Are you trying to make this my new favorite character? Because it’s working! Bar douchebag, call me! We can insult Xander together.

Later on, Buffy is STILL MOPING, and wow you’d think four seasons in I’d be tired of typing that, but… oh wait, I am. She calls herself a slut and an idiot while unloading on Xander, and WOW. It’s worse because, based on what I wrote last article, I think the show actually believes these things. Buffy turns, bumping into ANOTHER HUMAN BEING GOD WATCH WHERE YOU ARE WALKING TONIGHT, GIRL. It’s the friend of my new BFF! They invite her to come drink at their table.

We cut to The Bronze for Shitty Indie Band Hour, but this time, it’s that girl Oz seems mesmerized by and her band. Oz is lost in her; Willow seems to hate this!

In what is the most noteworthy development of this episode, we revisit Buffy and the guys drinking at the bar, and ONE OF THEIR FRIENDS IS KUMAR! Kal Penn in an early gig a few years before his breakout role, and–heavens to Betsy–his hair is a nightmare. Imagine Kumar with wet, middle-parted, medium-length hair. Kal, you got really bad advice, bro.

Willow enters the dorm room complaining about Veruca, which is the name of the assumed werewolf girl. Buffy is too hungover to care and is really into watching TV. She seems obsessed with going and getting more beer. She starts to head to class, but Willow has to remind her to change out of her jammies, and again… I know the writers of this show have attended college. 40% of the population just goes in their PJs.

Buffy is back in Psych class. She steals another student’s sandwich and eats it. Meanwhile, we see a chemistry lab setup making the Black Forest beer that the kids were drinking the night before.

And with that, we are back to the bar with Buffy and her–OUR–new friends. I don’t even feel bad. Kal Penn and a guy who besmirches Xander’s honor? These are my people! They are drunk and talking like idiot children. Xander watches on from afar, concerned and oblivious as a girl sets him up to light her cigarette.

Buffy and the guys are clearly dumbing down, and they even start calling each other stupid and shoving each other. Soon they are reduced to nonsense grunts. Xander turns on some music, and Buffy is amazed by jukebox technology. He kicks her out for being too drunk.

Elsewhere at some coffee shop place, Willow notices Parker and goes up to give him a piece of her mind. She tells him that Buffy is hurting and that what he did to her was wrong. Parker goes into a whole “We’re all just two lonely ships passing in the night, man” spiel. She seems to admit he has some merit to his arguments.

Back at the bar, the dudebros are incapable of speech. When the ringleader of the group emerges from the bathroom, he has physically regressed into a caveman! The others follow suit with a transformation sequence, and they clobber Xander, but he is able to frighten them away with a lighter.

Did this show just payoff his lighter shtick? God damn it. That’s actually pretty good, and I hate it.

The bar manager comes out and is mighty pleased with himself because those kids were always self-righteous jerks. He proudly boasts that his brother-in-law is a warlock, and you know what? I actually kind of love how casually this show is taking all of its own nonsense this season. It used to do shit like this but think it was being serious and dramatic. Now it’s just “Yeah, everyone knows the world is magical; it’s FINE”.

Xander and Giles head to the dorm to check on Buffy They find her, while not physically devolved, drawing stick figures on her wall in… mud?

Where did she get mud?


She starts spinning in her chair and asking her TV where the people inside it have run off to. Xander and Giles mention the beer, and that’s her Winter Soldier trigger phrase; she tosses them aside to go find more beer.

We are back to Willow and Parker, and he seems to be charming her with his views on dating and life, but it is all a CLEVER RUSE! As she calls him out for trying to get in her pants, too. Before we can get much further, the Cavebros bust in and drag in some girls they have abducted.

So just another night on a 90’s college campus then.

Willow ends up KO’ed by the cavemen, and the Dudeanderthals make a fire which then proceeds to terrify them.

Xander catches up to Buffy, and the two of them seem the smoke, causing Buffy to say “Fire bad!”.




That isn’t a caveman reference. That is a Bride Of Frankenstein reference! Frankenstein was not a cavemen, he was a reanimated brain in a piecemeal body. Not the same thing! I call you out on this, BTVS!

After noting that Fire is Bad, Buffy then goes TO the smoke for reasons that are not defined other than that the plot needs her there. She recognizes that a fire extinguisher can help, but in an honestly funny moment, does not know what to do with it, so she just throws it at the fire.

She ends up saving everyone, leaving her alone inside with Parker. She seems torn on what to do–there actually was a moment earlier where Buffy notes she could get him killed and be okay with it if she didn’t actively kill him–but ends up clubbing him with a tree branch and saving him.

Some time later, as the fire department has arrived, all of Buffy’s dreams come true as Parker thanks her for saving him and says he wants to make a go of it with her. Brutish Buffy whammies him again with her prehistoric club and seems content as the episode ends.

Episode 6

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Buffy kills a vampire to start off episode 6, and she is annoyed that he did not laugh at a joke she made as she staked him. From up on high, Spike is watching her. He starts a villainous monologue about how he is back to get her… and then gets tased and captured by the army guys, ha!

At The Bronze, this show continues its weird “Is something wrong with Giles?” background story. He has been weirdly out-of-character and borderline incompetent all season so far. Even last episode, while Xander is off finding and helping CaveBuffy, he is wandering the halls and asking people if they have seen her.

I refuse to believe I am imagining this!

Here, he interjects himself into the gang with a latte while they are trying to enjoy a band. It is Veruca’s band! She and Oz are making supersexy eye contact, and Xander and Giles seem at least a little into her, too.

Pheromones? Or a weird plot moment that will be dropped and never resuscitated? What do YOU think?

Oz and Willow are in bed together later on, and she is having a nightmare that he wakes her up from. She notes her mind is constantly racing and uses Network TV Language to say that sex with Oz is the only thing that quiets it.

Buffy leaves her ONLY CLASS to see she got a really good grade on her Psych test, and Ms… let’s go with… Walsh (?) wants her to lead a discussion group. Willow scored lower on the test than Buffy did and is jealous. That goes nowhere this episode, but eh. It happened.

Oz catches up with Veruca at lunch while waiting for Willow. They start talking music. Willow finally joins them and tries to throw in her own two cents, but can’t keep up with them. Oz just… leaves? What? And then so does Veruca. Buffy comes along and reassures Willow that Oz loves her.

That night, Oz locks himself in a cage in, like, his basement? What? Am I saying “What?” a lot? I don’t know what’s happening here. This show just so often makes me feel like I am watching it while concussed. Where did this come from? With Willow out at a Wicca meet-up, he does a piss poor job, though, and his wolf form breaks the door down with little effort.

Ms. Walsh is walking across campus at night when she is attacked by a werewolf! She tries to run, but there is… another werewolf! I, for one, am SHOCKED at this easily predictable development.

The werewolves seem surprised to see each other, and they begin fighting, and–

[Editor Note: Picture the image from The Simpson of the zookeeper whispering to young Homer here.]



The next morning, Oz and Veruca wake up in the woods naked together. She remembers everything, but he does not. She says that will come with time.

The two run off to steal some laundry and get dressed, which is basically the show’s excuse to put the Veruca actress in a black bra and cute underwear.

Which! You know. Not complaining after all the shirtless David Boreanaz we have had.

She states she does not bother to lock herself up; she embraces the wolf. They use some Network TV Language to tell us what we already knew about their activities from the night before, and she wants him now and forever. They are destiny! Werewolf destiny.

At home, Oz is going through the newspaper to make sure he/they did not hurt anyone. Willow comes home and wants to… quiet her brain. YOU KNOW? NETWORK TV LANGUAGE. Oz realizes he is covered in scratches from Veruca, so he declines, and a dejected Willow heads back out. OH GOOD. More characters refusing to just talk to each other. My favorite fiction trope that this show clearly has not done enough of yet.

Buffy, who has heard about the multiple werewolf situation from Ms. Walsh, shows up at Giles’ house, where he is yelling at contestants on a Brand X Jeopardy rip-off for getting answers wrong and I SERIOUSLY HOPE THIS BIZZARO GILES STORY GOES SOMEWHERE. Buffy informs him of the news.

Buffy checks in on Oz, who is reinforcing his cage. He continues to play dumb and claims to not know anything about a second werewolf, but Buffy clearly notices something is up with him.

We get Veruca singing over a montage of Willow and Oz being sad. And after this show, this actress had a long and fruitful singing caree–what? No? Okay then. Moving on!

After that, Veruca approaches Oz in the Cage Room, but she senses his plan to get her into the cage. She, conversely, tries to talk him into leaving the cage behind and wolfing about town. There is a LOT of Network TV Language here as they teeter in and out of the cage and start talking in incredibly gaspy, heaving voices; this scene is getting very horny! Oz eventually kisses her, pulls her into the cage, and locks it behind them right as they start to change.

Next morning. Willow comes down to the cage and finds naked Oz and naked Veruca. Oh, NOW it’s time to explain, Oz? But she isn’t having it; she is devastated. Oz yells at Veruca to GTFO and not make things worse. Willow is crying and attacking him for this development; he brings up that he knows how it feels, alluding to the Season 3 Xander mess.

Oof, swing and a miss there, Ozzie. Not the time.

A distracted and emotionally obliterated Willow walks into a traffic–intentionally? We aren’t sure! It seems intentional, but that is dropped far too easily for something that heavy. But either way, Riley saves her from getting hit by a car. A nearby Buffy rushes over and takes her home.

At the dorm room, we are post-talk for Buff and Willow. Buffy volunteers to go round up Veruca. After she leaves, Willow decides it is spell time. EVIL Spell time.

Buffy goes to Oz and demands her help getting Veruca. They find a decoy in the woods when it dawns on Oz that Veruca’s actual next goal is to eliminate Willow! As they start to go back to campus, one of the army guys jumps out and tackle Buffy.

That… that CAN NOT be how Buffy finds out about these guys. No. Come on.

They have been slinking about for five episodes now, and then this guy decides he is Reggie fucking White and sacks Buffy out of nowhere?

Do the writers of this show just get bored sometimes?

Willow starts a spell to make sure Veruca and Oz will never be happy, but ultimately she stops before committing to it. After seeing that, Veruca taunts her for pussing out. Before she can strike, Oz busts in. I guess it’s night time and that Buffy planned this all very poorly because Oz and Veruca both turn.

Wait, an entire day has passed since Willow saw them that morning?! What was everyone doing all day!? How long was that talk Buffy and Willow had? And if the idea is that Buffy and Oz had been looking for Veruca for hours, that means she was really stalling in her “Kill Willow” machinations.

Oz fucking TEARS OUT VERUCA’S THROAT, so that’s the end of her! Vicious! Before he can lunge at Willow, Buffy is there to stop him. The Army Guy is nowhere to be seen, so… I am super glad we wasted that reveal on a nothing off-screen encounter?

This show sometimes. Two steps forward and, like, 18 back.

After a recap where Buffy related everything–including Army Guy–to Giles, we get a sad Willow/Oz goodbye. Oz has decided he is not safe around people anymore; it’s 1999 and almost time to go play with toys for a living.

This rationale is nonsense. He hasn’t hurt anyone, and he has a fancy cage! Willow tries to talk him into staying, but to no avail.

And with that, we are down one more cast member! That sucks. First Cordy now Oz? Why does this show lose everyone worth rooting for?

Did I make the right choice? I’ve been really proud of my naming conventions for the last few articles, and I was torn here between “Veruc Assault” and “Buffy And Kumar Go To Black Forest”. Which would you have chosen?

I imagine we are about to go heavier into the Army Guys storyline thanks to Subtlty Sam here. And based on this season’s reputation, I bet this is where stuff really goes downhill. Not that these two episodes were any great prize, but they weren’t awful!

I was pleasantly surprised at some of the minor moments that Beer Bad paid off, and the Veruca episode was a lot better as a sexy episode than the effort back in episode three of this seasons.

Until next time… take care!