"New Moon Rising"
Written by Marti Noxon; directed by James A. Contner

Willow and Tara walk across campus, talking about cats (Tara’s thinking of getting one.) Willow gets excited about the idea, and Tara is pleased, because she wants her room to be “Willow-friendly.” In their first overt act of something more than friendship, the two hold hands on their way Tara’s first Scooby meeting. When they arrive at Giles’ apartment, Buffy announces that recent patrolling has been uneventful, which means that there is something big on the horizon, most likely planned by Adam. Riley says that, strangely, the Initiative has recently been overrun with demons. As the meeting ends, Giles and Anya bicker over her tendency to speak her mind and not take Giles seriously. Suddenly, Giles stops talking, as everyone has noticed that Oz (last seen in “Wild at Heart”) is standing in the doorway. Hi, Oz!

Tara realizes that the fine-looking man everyone is surprised to see is the infamous Oz, and Willow becomes concerned. He tells Willow that he’s heading to Devon’s but wants to see her later that night. After he leaves, Buffy asks Willow if she’s all right, and Tara quickly comes up with an excuse to leave, telling Willow that she should be with her friends. Later, in the cemetery, Riley asks Buffy why things were so awkward when Oz showed up. She reminds him of their hard breakup, and says that before they split up, everything was going well. She mentions that Oz is a werewolf, which is news to Riley. He says that he didn’t think Willow was “that kind of girl” (“into dangerous guys”) and Buffy takes offense, accusing him of being bigoted. She says that “love isn’t logical” and asks if they can stop talking about it. Hey, do you think there’s something she’s trying to avoid talking about?

Oz heads to Buffy and Willow’s dorm room and asks Willow to come outside with him. He tells her to look up, and she sees that the moon is full. However, Oz doesn’t turn into a werewolf. She asks how he did it and he says it’s a long story. He tells her that he talked to Xander, who told him that Willow doesn’t have a new boyfriend. (Cough.) She confirms this, and he tells her, “I can be what you need now. That’s what I want. That’s why I’m here.” Willow doesn’t look thrilled. Graham and two other commandos patrol the woods and are attacked by something that looks like a werewolf. The creature kills one of the commandos and knocks Graham out. Willow and Oz spend the night talking in her room, and he tells her about some of his travels, such as to Tibet and Romania. He says that some monks taught him meditation techniques to help suppress his werewolf self. She suggests going to get breakfast and he counters by saying that they could sleep (together) for a little while. She says that the “less confusing waffles” are more to her liking. She heads to the bathroom to brush her teeth and Tara arrives. Oz recognizes her from the Scooby meeting and she says that she’ll come back to see Willow later. After she leaves and Willow returns, Oz mentions that she was there and Willow grows concerned again.

Buffy and Riley wake up in his room and she teases him for doing pushups like a good little commando. He asks if she’s upset about their conversation the night before and she replies that he sounded like he’s been conditioned to believe that all demons are bad. She tells him that there are different degrees, and that some creatures, such as vampires, aren’t evil at all. (Cough cough.) He invites her to elaborate, but before she can, Forrest arrives and tells them that Graham’s team was attacked. Buffy asks what kind of demon it was and Riley tells her that it doesn’t matter. Buffy returns to her dorm room to find Willow alone. She tells Buffy that she was with Oz all night and that he didn’t become a werewolf. Buffy wonders why Willow isn’t excited, and Willow says that she is, but things are complicated. Buffy asks what she means, and Willow tells her that Tara is the complication. Buffy first thinks that Tara has a crush on Oz, then realizes that Tara actually has a crush on Willow, and that the feelings are mutual. She tries to be encouraging, telling Willow to follow her heart. Willow asks if she’s freaking out, and Buffy assures her that she’s fine with Willow’s decisions. She says that someone will get hurt no matter what happens, but that Willow needs to be honest with both Oz and Tara.

Spike is napping in his crypt when Adam arrives and tells him to come with him. “You’re going to help me with my problem,” Adam says. “Why is that exactly?” Spike wants to know. “I’m going to help you with yours,” Adam replies. Tara returns to her dorm room to find Willow waiting for her. She tries to explain why Oz was with her that morning, assuring Tara that they were only talking, and Tara assures her that, whatever Willow decides to do, she still wants to be friends. Willow says that she’s not sure what Oz is to her anymore and that everything has changed since he left. She says that her life was getting better, thanks in large part to Tara. She wanted Oz to return more than anything, but now that he’s back, she doesn’t know what she wants anymore. Tara advises her to do what makes her happy and the two hug.

Oz is hanging around in the hall of another campus building when he catches a scent of Willow and calls out her name. He’s surprised to see Tara instead. She asks if he’s returning to school and he says he is. Still sniffing, he asks if she’s wearing Willow’s sweater: “She’s all over you, do you know that?” Tara tries to leave, saying that she doesn’t want to talk about it, but he notes that that means there’s something to talk about. He asks if they’re “involved,” saying that Willow didn’t say anything during their long talk. He grabs her and demands to know if Willow is in love with her. He begins to wolf out and tells her to run. Oz-wolf chases Tara through the building, cornering her in a classroom. Before he can attack her, Riley and Forrest shoot him with a tranquilizer dart. They assure her that they’ll take care of things and she tries to tell them that it’s Oz, but they don’t give her the chance. Riley says that, if it’s the same creature that attacked Graham’s team, they’ll kill it.

In Adam’s new lair, Spike seems pleased with whatever plan Adam has presented him. Adam says that he needs a lot of humans and demons to die, and Spike asks how Buffy is involved in his plan. Adam says that Buffy can be the humans’ leader, though Spike points out that Buffy is often successful in battle. “Then I guess you should be on her side,” Adam replies. Spike confirms that, if he helps Adam carry out his plan, he’ll get his chip removed. Adam promises to hold up his end of the deal. Tara heads to the university library and tells Willow that Oz changed into a werewolf and was captured by the Initiative. Willow takes off to find Buffy. The Scoobies convene at Giles’ apartment, where Buffy tries to page Riley but can’t reach him. She decides that they’ll have to make a move without him.

Oz-wolf is caged up in the Initiative; the commandos are still unsure whether he attacked Graham’s team. Just as Riley announces that he wants to kill the werewolf, Oz morphs back into human form. Riley tells the doctors that Oz isn’t a threat and one warns him to let them do their job. Riley tries to stop another doctor from using a taser on Oz and is removed from the room. Oz is zapped with the taser and reverts to werewolf form, proving the doctors’ theory that he changes as a response to negative stimulation. Buffy decides that she and Xander will go to the Initiative and Willow says that she wants to go as well. Buffy tells her she wants her to hack into the city’s electrical grid instead so that they can shut down the power in the Initiative. She says that Giles can do it, and that she wants to do something instead of sitting around and waiting to hear what’s happened. Buffy relents and is trying to figure out the best way to get into the Initiative when Spike arrives and says that they can take the back entrance. He says that he knows how to find someone who can take them to Oz and can get them inside without being spotted.

Riley approaches Oz, who’s back in human form, and gives him some clothes. (Thanks a lot, Riley.) He leads him through the Initiative, but they are stopped by a bunch of commandos, including Forrest and Graham. Riley is taken to the brig, where a Colonel MacNamara goes to see him. MacNamara says that Riley used to be one of the best commandos, but ever since he met Buffy, he’s been showing “signs of disloyalty.” He says that he will be instituting a court-martial to look into Riley’s involvement with the Scoobies, who he sees as anarchists. He tells Riley that he can help them take down the Scoobies or be labeled a traitor. “No woman is worth that,” he says.

Buffy and Willow, now dressed as Initiative scientists, and Xander and Spike, now dressed as commandos, walk through the woods, finding the secret entrance to the Initiative. Back in his lair, Adam sits in front of a computer, which he is now attached to with wires. Buffy makes Spike go through the secret entrance first as Adam looks at diagrams of underground tunnels. Giles and Anya attempt to shut down the electrical grid as Adam’s computer screen shows that an emergency power shutdown is in progress. The lights on campus and in the Initiative go out and Anya asks Giles for a high-five. Buffy and the others burst into MacNamara’s bedroom and demand to be taken to “him.” MacNamara thinks that they want to see Riley and refuses to take them. Buffy learns that Riley tried to help Oz escape and the Scoobies realize that they have two people to rescue. Buffy walks past the guard at the brig and drops something. When he bends over to pick it up, she knocks him out and takes his key-card, getting into the brig. Riley tells her that, if he leaves, he can’t go back. “I just wanted to hear that out loud,” he says, following her out.

The Scoobies face off with some commandos in the hallway near Oz’s cage. Buffy threatens to kill MacNamara if the commandos don’t let them leave. A commando releases Oz, who tells Willow to stay back as he transforms to a werewolf and back. Everyone heads for the elevator and, once they reach their destination, Riley rips out the wires in the control panel. “You’re a dead man, Finn,” MacNamara tells him. “No, sir,” Riley replies. “I’m an anarchist.” He punches MacNamara and leaves. Later, Riley camps out in the ruins of the high school, having split up from the others with Buffy in order to keep the Initiative off of their trail. Riley says that he was wrong about Oz, but Buffy excuses his behavior, saying that he was just shocked about what he had learned. He recognizes that some things have gray areas, including love. Buffy decides that it’s time to tell him some things she’s been keeping from him, warning that he won’t like everything she has to say. He assures her that she can tell him everything, and she agrees that she thinks she can.

Willow and Oz sit in his van and he tells her that he shouldn’t have come back. She brings the wolf out in him and he thinks it’s safer if she doesn’t explain everything to him. She says that he’ll be a part of her life forever - part of her will always be waiting for him. They agree that it’s not the right time for them, and that it’s best if he lives. Later, Willow heads to Tara’s room with a candle (since the electricity is still out, and also because this show loves metaphors and fire). She starts to say that she wants to tell Tara something, but Tara says that she understands - Willow has to be with the person she loves. “I am,” Willow replies. “I feel horrible about everything I put you through. A-and I'm gonna make it up to you. Starting right now.” Tara blows out the candle.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Oz should have never left.

GRADE: C+ Seriously. Enough with the Initiative stuff.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Spike: “This all goes down, the chip comes out, yeah? No tricks.”
Adam “Scout’s honor.”
Spike:You were a Boy Scout?”
Adam: “Parts of me.”

Giles: “How did you get in?”
Spike: “Door was unlocked. You might wanna watch that, Rupert. Someone dangerous could get in.”
Buffy: “Or someone formerly dangerous and currently annoying.”

Buffy: “I’ve mentioned how much I’m gonna kill you if this is a scam, right?”
Spike: “Look, would I wear this if I wasn’t on the up-and-up?”
Willow: “You do sorta look like an evil olive.”

“Talk later. Stealthy escape now.” - Buffy to Riley

Buffy: “Stay back…or I’ll pull a William Burroughs on your leader here.”
Xander: “You’ll bore him to death with free prose?”
Buffy: “Was I the only one awake in English that day?”

Willow: “I missed you, Oz. I wrote you so many letters…but I didn’t have any place to send them, you know? I couldn’t live like that.”
Oz: “It was stupid to think that you’d just be…waiting.”
Willow: “I was waiting. I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you. Like if I’m old and blue-haired, and I turn the corner in Istanbul and there you are, I won’t be surprised. Because…you’re with me, you know?”
Oz: “I know.”


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