We’re counting down the days to Thanksgiving by looking at a variety of Thanksgiving-themed TV episodes. Thanksgiving episodes are all different, but they have lots of tropes in common. Today we’re looking at the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Pangs.”
Directed by: Michael Lange
Written by: Jane Espenson
Episode Number: Season 4, Episode 8
Where to Watch It: Netflix
Buffy’s mom has decided to go out of town to have Thanksgiving without her. Honestly, this is a real dick move on her part. Buffy is left longing for a Thanksgiving, so she throws one with her friend group at Giles’ house.
This is also the first episode that brought Spike into the fold. He’s starving and has nowhere to turn besides Buffy’s friend group. He doesn’t exactly immediately find a place in their hearts, but he sticks around.
Buffy stresses about food throughout the episode. She talks about sense memory and how when she smells a roasting turkey, it’s like she’s eight years old again. She’s very emotional invested in putting together a nice dinner, so things like frozen peas and whipped cream out of a can set her off.
No football in this one.
This is where the episode gets weird. Whatever message they’re going for doesn’t work at all. Early in the episode, Willow complains about the myth of Thanksgiving, pointing out that it’s not about a blending of two cultures, it’s about one culture wiping out another.
But, the monster of the week turns out to be a Native American spirit named Hus who is seeking vengeance. Willow continue sympathizing with the spirit even as it kills people and puts her friends in danger, causing a lot of unfortunate conversations where Willow acts as a Straw Liberal while her more level-headed friends act as though America’s problem is being too sensitive to indigenous people. It’s not great.