In the middle of a late-night sparring session at the cemetery, Buffy and Giles discover a ring with a mysterious engraving in it. The scene shifts to the Master Vampire's lair, where the Master explains that the Anointed One — the Master's greatest warrior and the Slayer's greatest foe is due to rise from the ashes of five dead. The next day, Buffy is asked out by a handsome, poetry-loving classmate named Owen who she is smitten with. Buffy's good mood is spoiled by Giles, who's connected the engraving in the ring to a violent prophecy which is about to be fulfilled... that night. Buffy very reluctantly joins Giles at the cemetery, but nothing happens there. Meanwhile, an airport van crashes and although the five passengers — including a burly, tattooed man who's been ranting incoherently — survive the wreck, they die when the van is overtaken by vampires.
The next day, Owen and Buffy decide to try again, much to Giles' (and a very jealous Xander's) chagrin.
As Buffy prepares for her date, Giles comes over with the news: five people were killed the night before, just as the prophecy described, and one of them — the tattooed man — was Andrew Borba, wanted for murder. This leads Giles to believe that he is the Anointed One. Buffy insists on going on to the Bronze with Owen, but Willow and Xander agree to go along with Giles to the Sunnydale Funeral Home so he can check the bodies for clues. Giles is greeted by vampires, and though Willow and Xander try to help him, they realize this is Buffy's domain. They run off to the Bronze to fetch her, but she's already hooked up with Owen. Unable to blurt out their news, they merrily suggest to Buffy a jaunt to the funeral home.
Once they get there, they're shocked to find Owen has followed them. As Buffy looks around for clues, the tattooed man — now a vampire — arises from a gurney and tears the place apart. Buffy kicks him, knocking him on a gurney, which hits the cremation oven and slides him right in. The next day, Owen is pumped up about the previous night's adventures and can't wait for the next date. Realizing she almost got him killed, Buffy reluctantly gives him the "let's be friends" speech. Giles commends her on her maturity, and reminds her that she did prevent a disaster. But all is not resolved. We see the Master in his lair, welcoming the Anointed One: it is an eight-year-old boy from the van accident, who smiles to reveal a mouth full of fangsThe students of Sunnydale High school are spending the afternoon at the zoo. Besides the standard zoo animals, this facility has a special new hyena exhibit, marked "Positively No Admittance." This piques the interest of Sunnydale's obnoxious cool crowd, who have already had their fun tormenting Buffy and a shy, bookish student named Lance. After grabbing poor Lance's notebook, they enter the forbidden hyena house, forcing him to follow. Xander, worried about his timid classmate, decides to come to his rescue. As they wait for Xander, Buffy and Willow meet an eccentric zookeeper, who claims the hyenas can understand human speech — they learn people's names, call out to them, and then eat them. Meanwhile, the crowd in the hyena house starts to get rough with Lance, but suddenly their eyes start flashing yellow — apparently, they've stepped into a mystical circle on the floor and transformation has taken place. We see the eyes of one student who never meant to be there, and they're flashing yellow, too. It's Xander.
Back at school, Principal Flutie proudly introduces the students to Herbert, the Sunnydale Razorbacks' new mascot. Not quite as menacing as the team's namesake, Herbert is a actually a little pig. Xander elicits a strange reaction from Herbert when the two exchange a glance. Since returning from the zoo trip, he is more confident, more aggressive, and generally not the same old Xander. His love-sick puppy stares have turned to animal leers — he has even taken to sniffing Buffy.
Willow brings the news to Buffy and Giles that Herbert is dead— the pint-sized porker has been eaten by the hyena-possessed students. Buffy tries to confront Xander, but he becomes even more aggressive and pounces on her. They scuffle for a while, but Buffy finally decks him, and locks him into a steel book-return cage. When it is discovered that the pack is responsible for Herbert's demise, Principal Flutie is up in arms. He summons the group to his office to reprimand them, but doesn't get the chance.
The news horrifies everyone — Principle Flutie has been eaten! The "official" story is that a pack of wild dogs did it, but Buffy, Willow and Giles know the truth. Since Xander was with Buffy when the incident occurred, she is relieved that he was not involved. Giles has figured out that in order to restore order, the spirits of the hyenas must be taken from the students and put back into the animals. While Buffy and Giles go to the zoo, Willow offers to watch over Xander. The zookeeper, well-versed in these matters, offers to help with the "transformation," and says that all the students must return to the mystical circle in the hyena cage. But one member of their pack is missing — Xander — and Buffy and Giles realize, to their horror, that they will seek him out, leaving Willow vulnerable to their attack. When they do just that, Xander breaks free from the cage, but Willow hides. They escape the school grounds and Buffy leads them all to the zoo.
While everything seems to be going according to schedule, it turns out that the zookeeper's plan is to absorb all the hyenas' spirits himself. He does, and grabs Willow in order to perform a predatory act which is part of the ritual. Xander, back to his old self, reacts to seeing his friend in jeopardy and dives on the zookeeper, freeing Willow. When the zookeeper goes after Buffy, she hurls him into the hyena cage, where he is promptly devoured.
- Factual errors: When Willow is watching the hyena footage on her computer in the library, most of the footage of the animals tearing at a carcass is actually of African wild dogs, not hyenas. Only the close-up footage initially is hyenas.
- Continuity: When Buffy picks Herbet the mascot up and walks with principal Flutie the 'razorback' is tied on by string, yet when they go to enter the room with his cage in it, the string has disappeared and the 'razorback' is lying against Buffy's chest.
- Other than Kyle, the individual members of "the pack" are never named in the episode. However, TV Guide credited Brian Gross as "Tor" and Jennifer Sky as "Heidi". And in the scene with the Anderson family, the closed captioning for the episode reads "Rhonda singing softly".
- Jeffrey Steven Smith, who plays the guy who asks Xander about the lead guitarist of a band called Wretched Refuse, appeared in "The Harvest" as the guy in the computer class who eagerly listens to Cordelia badmouth Buffy. It may or may not be the same character.
I hurt so badly for Willow in this episode. I like the fact that I feel so invested in the characters, I think it's a compliment to the show, the actors, and all of the crew and their ability to totally ensnare their audience! Still, I go back and forth about whether I like the episode as a whole. What do you guys thinks? Does the plot seem a little weak or is this one of the better episodes of season 1?
Also, do you guys have any suggestions as far as the community and how it's going so far? Is there something in particular you'd like me to include in our weekly updates? Anything I could do without?