Synopsis: There is a lady werewolf in town, and she is on the prowl for Oz.
Review: Marti Noxon does it again: she takes a rich literary and cinematic mythology of a fictional monster and throws it away in a single episode. Last season's Dead Man's Party by Noxon was a shameful entry for zombies in Buffy mythology. I have never been entirely happy with how Buffy the Vampire Slayer has handled werewolf mythology, but Noxon's attempt with Wild at Heart was abysmal. If you want a good "were" story, I strongly recommend watching Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (instead of watching this episode). Out of the first six episodes of this season, I have only rated two above a 5. If you want a series producing quality episodes, watch Angel, which has proved amazing in just its first six episodes.
This is the second fan favorite that I have not only disliked but actually hated. Noxon penned The Wish, which most fans gush over. I hated that episode. Most fans also like Wild at Heart, and I cannot stand it. What is the secret to being a fan favorite? A sex scene? A huge twist in the series whether it is a good twist or not? When Joss Whedon chooses to get rid of a character like he did with Jenny Calendar in season two, Buffy offers us top of the line television, but when an actor, as Seth Green did, chooses to quit to pursue movies, we are left with a pile of werewolf doo-doo. Please realize my strong reaction against this episode is not because I dislike Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is because I like Buffy so much that a poor episode disappoints me this much.
I timidly admit that I love the Noxon penned episode, Beauty and the Beasts, about werewolf Oz last season. Noxon does an about-face and communicates the exact opposite message in this episode. I have tried to figure out what must have been going through her mind to have caused that, and I cannot figure it out. I compared Beauty and the Beasts to John Eldredge's book Wild at Heart. In this episode that actually shares its title with that wonderful book, Noxon presents exactly what Eldredge is against. Society has demasculinized men. It is the "wolf within us" that empowers us to serve God, do good, and please women. Rather than explore how Oz can harness his masculinity, his wolf, to do good as she did in Beauty and the Beasts, Noxon simply promoted his demasculinization.
Oz's demasculinization was not being locked in a cage (the metaphor the episode unfortunately lends itself to.) Rather it is how masculinity is portrayed in this episode that promotes demasculinization. Oddly enough, Veruca, the female character, is the metaphor for unrestrained masculinity. We are never given a chance to like her. She is pure evil. When masculinity is painted as pure evil, what conclusions does that leave for the audience to draw about masculinity?
This episode was too preoccupied with Willow's emotional response to Oz's betrayal that it never focused on the traditional metaphors represented by werewolves. This episode was rife with opportunities to explore what happens when a person gives in fully to instinct as Vercua has done. By not exploring these opportunities and connecting them with werewolf myth, Wild at Heart is a jumble of deviations from werewolf myth like Veruca remembering events from her werewolf state--maybe even some kind of control during it. She did not even revert back to human form when she died, which is a part of almost every werewolf myth. This was a poor addition to werewolf mythology and Buffy mythology. I give it a 2 out of 10.
Objectionable Content: Willow and Oz wake up together in bed. After a night as a werewolf, Oz wakes up next to Veruca outside. Both are naked and covered in scratches. Then they sneak into a Laundromat to acquire some clothing, but Veruca opts to wear only a bra and panties for the entire scene. Willow discovers Oz and Veruca nude and curled together in Oz's cage.
Although in werewolf form, Oz kills another person (who is also in werewolf form) in cold blood.
Rating: 2 out of 10 (Reviewed by: Matthew Miller)