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In the bewitching world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the lives of the Scooby Gang were often entangled with the supernatural, including Willow Rosenberg's tumultuous romance with werewolf Daniel Osbourne, also known as Oz.
While fans of the hit TV series may recall the heartaches and transformations that defined their relationship, there are intriguing facets of Oz's character that often go unnoticed. Beyond his transformation into a werewolf, Oz's journey as a character was an integral part of the show's narrative for a few seasons. Delving deeper into the complexities of this fan-favourite character sheds light on the underlying themes of love, acceptance, and self-discovery that resonated throughout the series.
Daniel "Oz" Osbourne, a prominent member of the Scooby Gang, was not only a talented guitarist for the band Dingoes Ate My Baby but also a unique individual cursed with lycanthropy, transforming into a werewolf during every full moon. He started his journey as a student at Sunnydale High School before eventually joining UC Sunnydale alongside Willow and Buffy. Throughout his academic life, Oz faced challenges that led to him repeating his senior year, bringing him back into the same class as the rest of his friends which was good for audiences!
Oz’s Abilities And Appearance
Oz was renowned for his cool and detached demeanour, which concealed a deeply philosophical and introspective side. Embracing the supernatural world with ease, he often remarked on its existence with nonchalant observations. A man of few words, Oz expressed himself in short, witty phrases, earning a reputation for his trademark stoicism.
Despite his ironic approach to life, his love for Willow led him to make serious and selfless decisions, such as leaving her and college to seek a cure for his werewolf condition so he would stop hurting her.
In his high school days, Oz was recognised for his musician themed fashion sense, sporting t-shirts under bowling shirts, jeans, and black boots. In college, his style was equally cool mainly baggy pants, and a sheepskin jacket when outdoors, often accompanied by ear piercings, studded bracelets, and painted nails.
Another intriguing aspect of Oz was his ever-changing hair colour, which Willow noticed had turned chestnut brown from red after they met.
His musical talent was undeniable in his band Dingoes Ate My Baby who played across Sunnydale venues, the university and in LA. He is often seen playing the electric guitar, knows a lot about the technical side of music and he was well-versed in pop culture.
Member Of The Scoobies
Despite being shot early on and the challenges in their relationship, Oz maintained a positive outlook on life with Willow. He soon became a member of the Scooby Gang when he witnessed Buffy dusting a vampire during a surprise birthday party. Oz's involvement with the group grew when he assisted in obtaining a rocket launcher and provided valuable insight on the plans of the deadly Judge.
When transformed into a werewolf, Oz displayed caution and concern for others, prompting him to seek advice from the Slayer Faith about dealing with his condition. Despite this inherent danger, Oz showed remarkable skill with bows, wielding them during significant battles, including the showdown with the mayor and in assisting Angel Investigations against adversaries like Spike and Marcus.
Relationship With Willow
Oz's fascination with Willow sparked at first sight when he noticed her dressed in an Eskimo costume during the Cultural Exchange Dance at the Bronze nightclub. Even from afar during Halloween, his admiration for her was evident. It wasn't until later, at a secluded lounge area where they were both potential recruits for a leading software company, that they finally met face to face.
Their relationship took a significant turn when Oz protected Willow from an assassin's bullet during the Career Fair. The assassin, disguised as a police officer, was aiming for Buffy Summers, the Slayer, but Oz ended up getting shot in the arm instead. Though the wound was not severe, it brought them closer together, and they started seeing each other. However, despite their dates, their relationship seemed to stall, leaving them in what Willow humorously referred to as a "holding pattern, except without the holding or... anything else."
Oz's relationship with Willow Rosenberg was a significant aspect of his life. It reached a pivotal moment when Willow and Xander had a brief infatuation while they were dating Oz and Cordelia respectively. While Cordelia was hurt by the cheating, Oz decided to forgive Willow and give their union another try. Their bond deepened, and they decided to share an intimate moment before the impending confrontation with the malevolent Mayor Richard Wilkins, unsure if they would survive the battle.
As Graduation Day approached, Oz played a pivotal role in the battle, leading a group of students armed with bows and flaming arrows. Despite the chaos and destruction, the gang survived, and Oz reflected that the real significance lay not in the battle but in finally bidding farewell to high school life, marking a memorable chapter in their lives.
Following graduation, Oz, Buffy, and Willow attended UC Sunnydale together, where they all enrolled in Introduction to Psychology taught by Professor Maggie Walsh. Unlike Buffy and Willow, Oz did not have a dorm room; instead, he stayed in an off-campus house with the other members of his band. After the destruction of Sunnydale High, including the cage he used to lock himself up during full moons, Oz found shelter in a crypt at a local cemetery, where he continued to secure himself during his transformations.
However, tragedy struck when he lost control during one full moon and spent the night in the cage with Veruca, another werewolf. Realising the hurt he caused Willow, he made the difficult decision to protect her by killing Veruca at the following sunset. This act left Willow feeling betrayed, and she considered using magic to curse both of them, though she ultimately couldn't bring herself to do it. Feeling responsible for the harm he had caused, Oz made the painful choice to leave Sunnydale immediately, dropping out of UC Sunnydale and departing in his van, taking only essential items with him.
Buffy obtained the Gem of Amara from Spike. Eager to help, Oz offered to deliver the gem to Buffy's ex-boyfriend, the vampire Angel, who resided in Los Angeles. Making his way to the city for a gig, Oz stopped by Angel Investigations to drop off the gem, lending a hand to his friends in their ongoing battles against the forces of darkness.
Oz As A Werewolf
Oz discovered that he had become a werewolf, transforming into a creature of the night during the full moon. The discovery left him worried that his friends might have to take drastic measures to protect others from him. With the support of the Scoobies, Oz found a way to minimise the dangers posed by his werewolf side by locking himself in a cage during those nights. Despite the challenges, he remained a loyal friend to the group, assisting them in various supernatural endeavours, including the quest to restore Angelus' soul. Through it all, Oz's journey as a werewolf brought an added layer of complexity to his character and deepened the emotional dynamics within the Scooby Gang.
Like other members of his kind, he experienced this transformation on the night of a full moon, as well as the night preceding and following it. However, through his worldly travels and diligent research, Oz managed to gain some degree of control over his werewolf form. By harnessing meditative techniques, herbs, and other lesser-known treatments, he could now stay in human form and only changed when overwhelmed by intense emotional stress. Remarkably, he achieved a level of self-mastery that allowed him to prevent transformations entirely by channelling the wolf's energy into the earth, although the potential for transformation still remained within him.
Oz's unique condition bestowed him with a heightened sense of smell, even when in human form. His olfactory prowess allowed him to detect Willow's presence from a considerable distance, even in the absence of any perfume. Additionally, he could discern her emotions through her scent, akin to the keen abilities observed in various animals, particularly canines. This came to a head when he smelled Willow on Tara’s clothes and confronted her about it before being captured by The Initiative.
Oz's experiences revealed that werewolves could exert some degree of influence on their actions while in their bestial form. During his intense battle with Veruca, he focused his savage instincts solely on her, ignoring Willow until he successfully defeated his adversary. This showcased the coexistence of humanity and the primal within him, and the complexities of his dual nature as a werewolf.
Oz’s Time In Tibet
After leaving Sunnydale, Oz embarked on a journey that took him far and wide, venturing both on the road and overseas. His travels led him through Mexico, but unfortunately, his trusty van broke down along the way. In a stroke of necessity, he had to part with his beloved bass guitar to get his van fixed and find a garage for it.
Continuing his journey to control his werewolf nature, Oz found himself in Romania, where he had a fateful encounter with a man named Dragomir. This meeting opened new doors for him, leading him on a path to Tibet. There, within the serene walls of a Tibetan monastery, Buddhist monks shared their ancient wisdom with him. Under their guidance, Oz learned to gain control over his transformations during the full moon, using a combination of charms, herbs, chanting, and meditation.
During his time in Tibet, Oz also crossed paths with a remarkable Tibetan woman named Bayarmaa who was also a werewolf. As fellow werewolves, they found solace and companionship in each other's presence. Bayarmaa provided care and support during his stay in the monastery, and together, they delved into the practice of meditation, seeking harmony and understanding amidst their shared affliction.
Casting Seth Green
Oz was introduced in the episode "Inca Mummy Girl" and was described as having a quiet restraint and a unique, unflappable coolness, which was unaware of its own charm. His last name, Osbourne, was spelled as such in the shooting script of "The Initiative."
Initially a recurring character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's second season, Oz appeared in 10 episodes. He was then promoted to a regular cast member in season three, featuring in 21 out of the 22 episodes (absent in "Consequences"). During the fourth season, he remained a regular for the first 6 episodes before making two guest star appearances ("New Moon Rising" and "Restless"). He also guest-starred in the first season of Angel in the episode "In the Dark." In total, Oz graced our screens in 40 episodes: 39 on Buffy and 1 on Angel.
Seth Green's departure from the show during the fourth season was a sudden move to pursue a career in film instead. He defended his decision, stating that he believed his character was better suited for a recurring role. Three episodes centred around Oz: "Phases," "Wild at Heart," and "New Moon Rising," forming what Marti Noxon referred to as the "Willow/Oz trilogy" in DVD commentaries.
Planned Oz Storylines
Oz was originally planned to be the character killed off by Angelus in Buffy season 2. However, due to his overwhelmingly positive fan reaction, the writers changed their course and decided on Jennifer Calendar's fate instead.
If Angel had continued with a sixth season, there were plans to bring back Oz, potentially to assist Nina with her transformation into a werewolf but such a storyline was not realised, leaving fans to cherish Oz's memorable contributions during his time on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.
As one of the most memorable characters in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oz (Daniel Osbourne) left a mark on both the show's mythology and the hearts of fans worldwide. From his humble beginnings as the quiet guitarist in a band to embracing his identity as a werewolf, Oz's personal growth and emotional struggles added a unique layer of depth to the series.
Through his relationship with Willow, the show explored the complexities of love and acceptance, resonating with audiences on a profound level. Despite his departure from the show, Oz remains an enduring symbol of self-discovery and embracing one's true nature.
As we look back on the extraordinary tale of Willow's werewolf ex-boyfriend, we are reminded of the lasting impact that Buffy the Vampire Slayer had on the world of television and the enduring power of supernatural storytelling.
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