December 18, 2021

Buffy 2.6, Halloween: Come as You Aren’t

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:14 pm by Jenn

Willow’s already scared and nothing’s even happened yet!

Summary: It’s two days before Halloween, and Buffy’s fighting a vampire near a pumpkin stand. She throws a stake at him and he uses a jack-o-lantern-headed scarecrow as a shield. Another vampire tapes the fight, which ends when Buffy uses a sign post as a stake.

Meanwhile, Angel’s waiting for Buffy at the Bronze. Cordelia’s there alone, since Devon flaked on her, and when Buffy arrives, she sees the two of them talking. Angel is smiling and laughing. It’s weird! Buffy starts to leave without Angel seeing her, but he spots her and runs over to her. Cordelia insults her because her hair’s mussed from her vamp fight. Angel wants Buffy to stay, but she’s decided she’s not normal enough to date. Most of her thoughts are occupied by beheadings and the best way to ambush a vampire.

At school the next day, Snyder wrangles volunteers for a safety program where high-schoolers take kids trick-or-treating. Though I’m not sure it counts as volunteering when Snyder forces you to sign up. Buffy would prefer slaying to looking after sugar-hyped kids, but Snyder doesn’t care what she wants. And no, her alleged carpal tunnel syndrome that won’t allow her to hold a flashlight isn’t a viable excuse. Xander and Willow are also forced to volunteer. They’re annoyed that they’ll all have to wear costumes.

Buffy was looking forward to hanging out at home, relaxing. Apparently Halloween is the one night of the year the undead don’t go out. Xander goes to get a soda from a nearby machine, and a guy named Larry approaches him and asks if he thinks Buffy would go out with him. Larry heard that she’s “fast.” “I hope you mean ‘like the wind,'” Xander replies. He defends Buffy, but if this is going to turn into a physical confrontation, Xander is at a clear disadvantage, since he’s half Larry’s size.

Fortunately, Buffy’s there to handle Larry herself. As a bonus, she gets Xander’s soda unstuck from the machine. Xander’s annoyed that Buffy had to come to his rescue. He’s going to be branded a coward for the next 20 years. Buffy tells Willow she just “violated the boy code.” Willow laments that boys are fragile.

Speaking of boys (well, men), she asks how Buffy’s date with Angel went. Buffy tells her that it didn’t go at all, since Cordelia was there. Willow doesn’t think Buffy has anything to worry about – Cordelia’s not Angel’s type. Buffy doesn’t know what his type is, tough. Willow wishes they could sneak a peek at Giles’ Watcher records to learn more about Angel. Oh, wait – they can!

Buffy tries to creep into Giles’ office to grab a look, but Giles catches her and starts a conversation about battle techniques. Buffy encourages him to do something fun for once. She distracts him while Willow sneaks into his office. Eventually Buffy blurts out that Jenny said Giles was a babe, a “hunk of burning…something or other.” Once Willow has the book she wants, Buffy chastises herself for overstepping and runs out. Giles, however, is happy to be called a babe.

Buffy and Willow look through the book of Watcher diary entries in the bathroom and see what women in Angel’s day looked like. Buffy doesn’t think she can compete with them. She thinks it must have been nice to dress up and go to balls like a princess. Willow thinks it’s better to be a woman now, since they have the right to vote.

Cordelia comes in and taunts Buffy for being late to her date the night before. She asks what Angel’s story is, since she never sees him around. “Not during the day, anyway,” Willow says. Cordelia thinks that means he still lives at home and has to wait to use his parents’ car. Buffy tells her that Angel’s a vampire. She thought Cordelia already knew that. Cordelia thinks she’s lying, since Angel isn’t mean – he must be “the cuddly kind, like a Care Bear with fangs.” She accuses Buffy of trying to scare off the competition. But when it comes to dating, Cordelia, not Buffy, is the Slayer.

After school, the Scoobies check out a new costume shop in town. Willow chooses a ghost costume, but Buffy thinks she should dress wild, since Halloween is the chance to “come as you aren’t.” Willow doesn’t think wild is a good look for her. Buffy encourages her not to underestimate herself.

Xander just picks out a toy gun; he has military fatigues at home for the rest of his look. Buffy apologizes for rescuing him from Larry, promising that in the future, she’ll let him get beaten up. Xander’s strangely happy about that. Buffy gets distracted when she finds the perfect costume for herself: a dress typically worn by a woman from Angel’s day, or possibly a Disney princess. The store’s owner, Ethan Rayne, appears and agrees to make her a great deal so she can afford the dress.

Spike reviews the tape of Buffy’s fight from the night before so he can study the Slayer’s moves. Drusilla joins him, being weird as usual. She tells him that “everything’s switching, outside to inside. It makes her weak” (“her” being Buffy). Spike tries to get her to tell him more about this vision she’s obviously had. She tells him it’ll happen tomorrow: “Someone’s come to change it all. Someone new.” That someone is Ethan, who ends his day with a blood ritual and a promise to bring chaos.

Buffy and Willow get dressed together the next day, and though Willow has picked out a skin-bearing outfit, she wants to wear her ghost costume over it. Buffy still wants her to give being someone other than herself a chance. Xander arrives and gushes over Buffy’s dress. That wouldn’t help Willow’s self-confidence, even if she hadn’t already put on her ghost costume.

The three head to school and meet up with their assigned kids (though Snyder tells Buffy not to talk to hers). Larry, dressed as a pirate, asks Xander if his bodyguard is curling her hair. Cordelia, dressed as a cat, finds Oz, who comments that she looks like…well, a big cat. She clarifies that that’s her costume. Yes, good, I’m not sure he got that. Cordelia tells him that he can tell Devon she doesn’t want to see him, and she won’t be at their show tonight, and she doesn’t even care. Oz isn’t sure what he’s supposed to tell Devon. “Nothing. Geez, get with the program,” Cordelia says. “Why can’t I meet a nice girl like that?” Oz asks himself before running into Willow.

Xander gives his kids some pointers on how to maximize their candy-collecting experience. Buffy turns out to be pretty good with kids, and I’m sure they appreciate her hostility toward a woman who gave them toothbrushes. Back in his shop, Ethan is doing another ritual, speaking to the god Janus, and it kicks in toward the end of the kids’ trick-or-treating time. Two kids dressed as demons turn into actual demons.

The streets suddenly get chaotic as everyone starts turning into what they’re dressed as. That’s especially bad for Willow, who’s dressed as a ghost. Xander’s suddenly an actual soldier with a real gun. Willow’s realized she’s a real ghost now, but at least she’s the kind of ghost people can see (and see a lot of, since her ghost costume is gone and she’s now in her “wild” clothes). She finds Xander, but he doesn’t know who she is. She tells him they’re on the same side. Xander doesn’t believe her claim that they’ve turned into their costumes.

Xander turns his gun on someone who’s growling nearby, but Willow orders him not to shoot anyone, since everyone they see is still a human being (and most likely a child). She spots Buffy, who would ordinarily be great in this kind of situation, but since she’s now an 18th-century noblewoman…not so much. She passes out at the sight of monsters.

Willow’s the only person aware of what’s going on, and she doesn’t know how to get through this situation without the Slayer. Buffy doesn’t even know what a car is. Willow tries to explain to Xander that that makes sense because Buffy’s from the past. Xander isn’t sure he trusts Willow, but he decides to listen to her and follow her to Buffy’s house.

As monsters bang on the doors, Buffy finds a picture of herself. Though she recognizes her face, she doesn’t remember her real life. She’s distressed at the thought that she can’t go home because she’s already there. “She couldn’t have dressed up like Xena?” Willow says to herself. A monster breaks a window and grabs at Xander, who fires his gun outside the house. Willow isn’t happy, but Xander’s just shooting to make noise and scare away any attackers, not to actually hurt anyone.

They hear screaming outside, and Xander runs out to be a hero. He finds Cordelia running from monsters and takes her to Buffy’s house. Willow explains to Cordelia that she’s a high-schooler, not a real cat. Cordelia’s aware of that – she didn’t turn into her costume. Willow decides to leave the others there and go get help. Buffy says that some men will likely come to protect them. Now Cordelia gets that there’s something really wrong. Willow explains that it’s like amnesia, then tells her to stay put. “Who died and made her the boss?” Cordelia asks as Willow leaves the house by walking right through a wall.

The costumed monsters aren’t the only ones out tonight – Spike is also walking through Sunnydale. He’s thrilled by all the chaos. Xander starts barricading the windows, telling Buffy that they’re going to follow Willow’s orders. He spots a picture of himself, Buffy, and Willow, and realizes Willow was right about them being friends. Buffy denies that they could have amnesia – she bathes too often to catch that.

Xander asks what she thinks is going on, then. Buffy says she wasn’t brought up to think for herself. She’s just supposed to look pretty and eventually get married. Xander warns that she’s going to have to fight the monsters at some point. Buffy says she’d rather die. Just then, Angel arrives to lend a hand. Buffy and Xander, of course, have no idea who he is.

At the library, Giles has no idea what’s going on outside until he hears screams and sirens. Then Willow comes through a wall and accidentally scares him. Back at the Summers’ house, Cordelia finally clues Angel in on what’s happening. The lights go out and Buffy grabs Cordelia out of fear. “Do you mind?” Cordelia asks, annoyed. Xander tells Buffy to go with Angel, though Buffy would prefer to stay with Xander, since he has a gun. If only real Xander were able to hear her pick him over Angel.

Angel finds the back door open, which has let in a monster. He yells for Buffy to get him a stake. She only has a knife, which won’t help. Angel’s in fight mode and has vamped out, and when Buffy sees his face, she screams and runs out of the house. Back at the library, Willow explains everything to Giles, who’s confused because she’s definitely not dressed like a ghost. Willow argues that Cordelia’s costume is even more revealing. They realize that the fact that Cordelia didn’t change is significant. It must be because she got her costume at a different place.

Xander, Angel, and Cordelia search for Buffy, knowing she’s helpless without her Slayer identity. Spike overhears and realizes this is the perfect chance to kill a Slayer. Larry finds Buffy and chases her as Giles and Willow go to Ethan’s shop. They find his shrine to Janus, which Giles says symbolizes “the division of self” into light and dark, or male and female. Ethan joins them and offers the example of the division between chunky and creamy, like peanut butter. Giles tells Willow to leave, then greets Ethan, whom he knows. “Hello, Ripper,” Ethan replies.

Just as Larry’s about to do whatever you think a pirate would do to a helpless woman, Xander comes to Buffy’s rescue and starts pummeling him. She cowers at the sight of Angel again, telling Cordelia he’s a vampire. Cordelia promises that he’s a good vampire and won’t hurt Buffy. Xander finishes up with Larry, telling Angel that beating him up gave him “a weird sense of closure.” Willow finds the group and tells them to find a safe place to hide. Spike and some minions are on the warpath.

Giles is surprised that he didn’t figure out that Ethan was behind what’s going on. It’s just like him – something sick and brutal that hurts innocent people. Ethan accuses Giles of putting on his own persona as the Watcher. He’s not the kind of person who wears tweed and meekly looks after the Slayer. Ethan knows who Giles is and what he’s capable of. He guesses the Scoobies have no clue about his past. Giles tells Ethan to break the spell and leave Sunnydale forever. Otherwise, Giles will kill him. Ethan’s not intimidated, but Giles demonstrates that’s he’s willing to fight.

The Scoobies find a warehouse to hide in, and the guys try to barricade the door, but they can’t hold off Spike and his minions for long. Back at the shop, Giles orders Ethan to tell him how to stop the spell. Ethan wants Giles to beg. Giles wants Ethan to bleed. Spike approaches Buffy as the minions hold off Angel and Xander. Buffy cries and doesn’t try to fight back.

Ethan has finally had enough of being beaten up, so he tells Giles that breaking his statue of Janus will end the spell. Xander starts fighting the minions, and Willow tells him he’s allowed to shoot Spike. But Giles has already broken the statue, and Xander’s gun is back to being a toy. That means the Slayer is also back to herself. “Hi, honey. I’m home,” she tells Spike before starting to fight him.

Ethan has managed to escape, and Spike runs off as well, realizing he’s not going to beat the Slayer tonight. Xander remembers everything that happened; it was like he was trapped and couldn’t get out. Cordelia starts to talk about her tight costume, but Angel ignores her, instead checking on Buffy. Xander tells Cordelia to learn what he’s already learned – they’re never going to get between Buffy and Angel. Willow has traveled back to where she left her body when she turned into a ghost. She feels bold now, so she doesn’t put her ghost costume back on. She passes Oz on her way home, and he asks himself again who she is.

Buffy and Angel hang out in her room, her now in her normal clothes. He asks why she thinks he would have liked her more as a girl from his time period. He hated the girls back then, especially the ones from noble families. They were boring. He always wanted to meet someone interesting and exciting. They start making out. I think it’s safe to say they’re officially together.

The next day, Giles goes to Ethan’s shop, which is empty. Looks like someone fled town in a hurry. He finds a note Ethan left for him: “Be seeing you…”

Thoughts: In a surprising twist on “The Simpsons did it,” Buffy did this episode before the similarly themed Treehouse of Horror segment “I’ve Grown a Costume on Your Face.”

Ethan is an awesome villain. I’m torn between wishing he’d been on the show a little more and being happy that they didn’t overuse him.

Did guys in 1997 still describe girls as “fast”?

I used to play an online Buffy trivia game, and I’ll never forget that one of the players called Willow’s costume in this episode “the Ghost of Hookers Past.”

1 Comment »

  1. Deja said,

    this was an iconic willow fashion moment

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