Season 4, Episode 19 - New Moon Rising
Original airdate: May 2, 2000
Project 310 re-watch date: March 5, 2009
This is the episode where Oz returns, the Willow-Oz-Tara situation gets resolved, with some very negative consequences.
Honestly, most people didn’t like Tara, and seeing Oz come back, and not be able to be back with Willow because of Tara sure didn’t help that situation. So the question has to be asked, would it have been easier on the creators of Buffy to not bring back Oz at all?
Well, sure, it would have. Willow was clearly moving on and it would have lessened fan resistance to the Willow-Tara relationship. But the Buffy creators don’t like to take the easy way out. Also, conflict makes for a more interesting drama, so the writers rely on it.
As for the big question this episode raises, who is the better Willow significant other, Oz or Tara? (I’m excluding Kennedy from this equation, because no one ever picks Kennedy).
Look, I have to be honest, as much as I like Amber Benson, I’m picking Oz. With very few exceptions, the first relationship in any dramatic series is always the best, because it’s the one the writers intended from the beginning. In the case of the Buffyverse, the only secondary relationship I think was better than the first was Xander/Anya (which was better than Xander/Cordy, mostly because Xander/Cordy was so brief and not really that natural).
Buffy/Angel was way better than Buffy/Riley or Buffy/Spike. And along the same lines, Willow/Oz was better than Willow/Tara. Oz was the character that brought out the Willow we know and love. Before him, she was a shy, lonely background character who was unsure of herself. By the time she was with Oz, she was confident, powerful and a strong character in her own right.
Also in this episode, we see some of Riley’s very strong anti-demon opinions, and how Buffy reacts to that. Obviously, she still hasn’t been 100 percent open about her past with Angel, and when Riley reacts negatively when he finds out Oz was a werewolf, it doesn’t bode well for the eventual talk they’re going to have to have. Still, Riley comes around by the end of the episode -- enough for Buffy to finally open up to him. This is the first time I really felt like they had a relationship based on something more than just sex.
Favorite Quote:Willow: “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?”