December 3, 2022

Buffy 4.12, A New Man: Out of the Loop

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Careful there, Hulk

Summary: Buffy and Riley are making out on her bed, anticipating a night alone, since Willow’s out. Unfortunately, they’re wrong – Willow bursts in and reports that a fire-breathing creature came in through the rec-room window. Riley wants to call for backup but Buffy says they don’t have time to wait. She heads into the rec room, stake in hand, and is met not with a demon but a surprise birthday party. (Someone probably should have warned Riley so he didn’t sneak in with a weapon.)

Giles is the oldest person at the party by a mile, and Anya has no interest in hearing his stories of his own time at school. Buffy brings Riley over to introduce him to Giles, who didn’t know they were dating. She mentions that he was the librarian at her high school. “I’ve seen the library. It’s gone downhill since you left,” Riley says. He asks if Giles is retired now that there’s no library. Giles says he’s “between projects.”

Buffy’s happy to have everyone together for her birthday, though Giles isn’t sure a surprise party was the best idea, considering Buffy spends enough time having things jump out at her in the dark. Buffy quotes Walsh, who’s said before that adrenaline is like exercise without the gym fees. She thinks Giles should meet Walsh, the smartest person she’s ever met. Giles sarcastically comments that they should have invited her. Buffy replies that she’s old (“like 40”) and has better things to do than hang out with kids.

The next day, Xander oversees Spike as he packs up his things to move out. Spike steals Xander’s radio and wonders why he’s so surprised – Spike’s evil, after all. He’s thinking of moving into a crypt, which would be dark and dank, but not as dark and dank as Xander’s room. Xander hurries him along, and Anya gives Spike a housewarming gift for his new place. It’s Xander’s lamp, so he objects.

Spike notes that he won’t have electricity anyway. He also won’t have running water or a fridge for his blood. Anya thinks he should get a hotel room. Spike has no money and Xander refuses to give him any. Spike wonders why Buffy didn’t show up to say goodbye. Xander tells him that she had an appointment with someone who’s still scary.

That someone is Walsh, who now knows that Buffy is the Slayer. “We thought you were a myth,” she tells Buffy. “Well, you were myth-taken,” Buffy replies. Walsh says this explains why Buffy only got a B-minus in her class – she didn’t have the time to put in extra work. She and the Initiative have the same mission, just with different methods. The Initiative uses state-of-the-art technology and weapons against demons while Buffy pokes them with a stick. Yeah, but it gets the job done!

Walsh thinks they can learn a lot from each other. She’s trying to get Buffy clearance to visit the Initiative and see how they operate. She’s proud that Finn has killed or captured 17 vampires and demons. Buffy, who kills that many in a week, is reluctant to announce her own number.

While dusting, because he has nothing more interesting or important to do, Giles finds a book he forgot about and sees something inside that concerns him. He tries to call Buffy but instead leaves a message with Willow that a demon prince is going to rise that night. Buffy is still with Riley, who’s a little shocked about how many vampires and demons she’s taken out. She tries to downplay it, but Riley notes that when he saw her stop the world from ending, he thought that was a big week for her. Now he feels like he needs to know the plural of “apocalypse.”

Buffy points out that she’s been slaying since she was 15, so of course she’s going to have a lot of marks in her kill column. That just impresses Riley more. Her point is that they just have different amounts of experience. Plus, she has Slayer strength on her side. Riley doesn’t think he could take her on. Buffy flirtatiously says that depends on what he means by that.

Giles goes to Walsh’s office looking for Buffy. He tells her that Buffy has gotten a lot out of Walsh’s class. Walsh says she’s bright and just needs encouragement about her schoolwork. Giles prefers to let students find their own strengths. Plus, Buffy isn’t a typical student. He hopes Walsh won’t push her. Walsh says Buffy’s independent and self-reliant, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s not always healthy for children to take on adult responsibilities too young. Walsh thinks Buffy is suffering from the absence of a male role model. Giles is stunned into silence by that.

That night, he, Xander, and Willow go to a cemetery to try to take out this demon prince who’s supposed to rise in a crypt. They lost some time because Giles was looking for Buffy and then got lost on campus. The good news is that there’s no sign that the demon has risen. Willow and Xander guess that the Initiative already took him out. They’ve probably known about his rising for days. Giles has no idea what they’re talking about – Buffy didn’t tell him who the commandos were or that Riley’s one of them.

Giles is annoyed that he’s spent all this time looking into the commandos, and not only do the Scoobies know about them but Buffy’s dating one. Xander and Willow admit that Anya and Spike also know. Giles is even more irritated by that, and it only gets worse when he finds out that Walsh is the head of the Initiative. He tells Willow and Xander they can leave. He plans to stay for a while to make sure the demon doesn’t rise, but he quickly realizes nothing’s going to happen.

After he leaves the crypt, Ethan emerges from the shadows and monologues to himself that something very interesting is about to happen. Hearing his voice, Giles pokes his head back into the crypt. “Oh, bugger, I thought you’d gone!” Ethan exclaims.

The chance to beat up Ethan makes Giles feel better about his difficult day. Ethan claims to have information about something that’s going to be bad for both of them. Giles will need time to prepare. Ethan decides he should do that at a bar. “Now isn’t this more fun than kicking my a$#?” he asks. Giles says no. “Oh. It’s more fun for me,” Ethan replies. He chalks up Giles’ hatred toward him after a long friendship as “religious intolerance,” since Giles didn’t like that Ethan started to worship chaos.

Ethan says that there are stories circulating in the “dark world” that something other than the Slayer is hurting demons. They’re scared, especially of something called 314. Even though the guys aren’t friends anymore, Ethan wanted Giles to know that whatever’s developing is throwing things out of balance, which is worse than the chaos he loves. They’re in for a literal “hell of a fight.”

Buffy and Riley are spending their evening sparring in a workout room, though let’s be honest, it’s all foreplay. Well, maybe not after Buffy kicks Riley across the room. Back at the bar, the guys are a few drinks in, and Giles is complaining that demons seem to be terrified of Walsh, while they never even notice Giles. Oh, that’s not true, Giles! The ones who knocked you unconscious had to have noticed you! He’s also mad about what Walsh said about him not being a male role model for Buffy. “I’m twice the man she is,” he says.

Ethan hits on their waitress and gives her his phone number. She’s not interested. Giles says they’ve changed. Well, not completely, since Ethan is still self-centered and sadistic. But the world has passed them by and they’ve been replaced by has-beens. The Initiatives aren’t perfect but they’re accomplishing their goals. Giles is just an unemployed librarian who keeps getting knocked out.

Ethan tells him he won’t have to worry about that anymore: “When you went to the loo, I slipped a small pellet of poison in your drink. You’ll be dead in an hour.” After a dramatic pause, Ethan cracks up and admits that he was kidding. Giles predicts that he’ll feel horrible in the morning, but Ethan encourages him to keep enjoying himself for now. They’re sorcerers, and the night is still their time. It’s a time of magic.

Willow goes to Tara’s room so they can do a spell together. They’ll test their synchronicity by levitating a rose and plucking off its petals. They’ll have to be completely in tune with each other. They are, and the levitation part of the spell goes great. But instead of losing its petals one by one, the rose zooms around the room and lands between them.

Giles wakes up the next morning and is shocked to see a horned demon in his mirror. He’s turned into one overnight, and he has all the strength that comes with the transformation. He immediately guesses that Ethan is to blame, so he tries to get dressed to go confront him. His clothes are too small for his demon body, though, so he has to go out in just pants and a blanket.

Buffy’s in a great mood at breakfast with Willow, which Willow thinks is because of her new relationship. Willow lies that she was in the chem lab all night, by herself. She mentions her failed spell and says she thinks something’s out there. She felt the presence of some dark-magic energy. If someone else is doing magic, they’re powerful.

Buffy says she’ll tell Giles about it, or maybe Walsh. Willow advises her to talk to Giles, since he’s feeling hurt about being out of the loop. Buffy didn’t realize she hadn’t told him about the Initiative and Riley. She says she’ll talk to Giles tomorrow, since she already has plans to spend the day with Riley. She thinks things are going really well, though kicking him across the room might have ruined that. Willow’s sure that he’ll get over it, since he told Buffy not to hold back. She’s right not to pretend she’s less than she is. Buffy admits that she still held back a little.

Giles goes to Xander’s, annoyed that he’s still asleep at 10:30. Xander doesn’t respond well to being woken up by a big demon, even though Giles tries to warn him ahead of time. He doesn’t realize that when he speaks, people only hear a demon language in a voice that doesn’t sound like Giles’. Xander throws things at him until he runs away. He takes off down the street, apologizing for stomping through someone’s yard. “Bloody humans,” he complains.

That night, the Scoobies go to Giles’ to get his help identifying the demon Xander saw. He’s not home, and they find what they think are signs of an invasion, which are really just the aftermath of a clumsy demon trying to get through the morning. Buffy tries to stay optimistic that the demon just kidnapped him.

Giles ends up in a cemetery, where Spike is thrilled to see a creature he now knows he can hurt and kill. But when Giles grumbles at him, Spike understands him. He explains that Giles is speaking Fyarl, which Spike also happens to speak. Giles asks for his help finding Ethan so they can make him undo whatever he did, and then Giles can kill him. Spike asks what’s in it for him. Well, Giles will let him live. Spike isn’t motivated, so Giles offers him money. Fortunately, Spike’s price is low, only $200. He suggests going to get Buffy, but Giles would rather hunt down Ethan on his own and keep Buffy out of the loop.

The Scoobies look through Giles’ books to find the demon Xander saw. They’ll then have to figure out how to track it down. They hear a noise outside, and as Buffy goes to check it out, Riley lets himself in. The Initiative monitors 911 calls for possible non-human activity, and there were a bunch in the area. Yeah, in the morning! It’s night now! The Initiative is so slow!

The reports from Giles’ neighbors make the Scoobies think he was attacked. Riley promises that the Initiative will help the Scoobies find him. Buffy’s really worried and can’t stop thinking that they should ask Giles for help, then realizing that they can’t. “He’d find himself in a second,” Xander says. He can’t think of anyone who’s cooler in a crisis.

Cut to Giles snapping at Spike, who’s driving Giles’ car, that if he can’t find third gear, he shouldn’t try for it. Spike mentions that Fyarl demons are mostly killing machines, but they’re also good at opening jars. Giles asks if he has special powers now. Maybe he can set things on fire with his eye beams? No, but he can shoot paralyzing mucus out of his nose. That’s…helpful, I guess.

Giles feels like he’s changing, and he doesn’t like it. All he feels is anger and a need to destroy. “Good times,” Spike says. “Go with it.” He thinks Giles should get to do the destructive things Spike no longer can. Giles doesn’t want to become a monster just because he looks like one. He still has a soul and a conscience. He’s a human. He suddenly tells Spike to stop the car. He’s spotted Walsh downtown, and he gets out of the car to growl at her and chase her, just for fun.

Xander finally finds the demon he saw in a book. Buffy doesn’t look forward to battling something that can spray her with mucus. Willow reads that it can be killed by a weapon made of silver. Riley reports that Walsh was attacked by the demon, which got out of a gray Citroën. The Scoobies know that’s Giles’ car. “Why would a demon steal a car?” Xander wonders. “Why would a demon steal that car?” Anya adds.

Buffy thinks that means this demon has a purpose, which doesn’t fit what they’ve read about Fyarls. Maybe it’s doing someone’s bidding – the same someone who used the magic that disrupted Willow’s spell. Buffy tells Willow and Xander to stay at Giles’ in case the person controlling the demon calls for a ransom. She and Riley will go to the magic shop to see if anyone bought supplies. She grabs a silver letter opener in case they encounter the demon along the way.

Spike and Giles go to the bar where Giles and Ethan drank the night before. Spike questions their waitress, who knows the motel where Ethan was staying. Meanwhile, Buffy and Riley break into the magic shop (which was unnecessary, since he has a master key that opens every shop on Main Street) to look for sales receipts. Buffy quickly finds one for Ethan, so Riley calls in a search for motel registrations with his name.

He tells Buffy that Walsh gave him orders not to bring Buffy along when he finds the demon. Buffy refuses to sit out: “You’re not taking me with you. I am going and I am letting you come along.” Riley says it’s not her call, since this is now a military operation. She invites him to call in some troops to try to stop her. She’s not letting anyone else kill the demon that hurt Giles.

Giles is getting more and more Fyarl-like, and all he feels like doing is killing people. “Good for you,” Spike says. He notes that they’ve picked up a tail. “Yes, just a little one. Hurts when I sit,” Giles replies. He means you’re being followed, buddy. The Initiative has tracked them down, and the Citroën isn’t going to be able to stay out ahead of them for long. Giles suggests that he jump out so the commandos follow Spike, but Spike doesn’t like that idea. He gives in when Giles offers him another $100.

Ethan is packing to leave town when Giles bursts into his motel room. Ethan tries to get him to calm down, since he can’t undo what he did if Giles kills him. When Buffy and Riley arrive, Ethan tells them that the demon killed Giles. Buffy puts Riley on Ethan-watching duty while she fights the demon. Meanwhile, Spike leads the Initiative’s vehicles on a car chase, but he’s so proud of himself for losing them that he isn’t paying attention, and he crashes Giles’ car.

Buffy fights Giles while Riley fights Ethan. Giles is clearly so caught up in his new demon nature that he forgets that he’s beating up someone who’s like a daughter to him. She eventually gets him on his back on the ground, and she raises the letter opener to stab him in the chest. “This is for Giles,” she says. “For me?” he replies, confused. She plunges the letter opener into his chest, realizing just moments too late that she stabbed Giles. Fortunately, the letter opener doesn’t kill him. Buffy decides it must not be real silver.

Ethan laments sticking around town instead of just leaving after he’s done his damage: “It’s the stay-and-gloat that gets me every time.” He’s made Giles human again, and since Giles didn’t have a shirt with him, he’s had to put on one of Ethan’s, which is definitely not Giles’ style. He asks Buffy how she knew it was him. She says it was his eyes – he’s the only person who can look that annoyed with her.

Ethan thinks Buffy will let him go, since he’s human and a Slayer can’t do anything to him. No, but the Initiative can take him to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert and try to rehabilitate him. Giles excitedly goes outside to watch him get shoved into a Humvee. Buffy appreciates Riley and the Initiative’s help, and Riley admires her strength and how she takes charge. Sounds like he doesn’t like having to take Walsh’s orders all the time. He thinks that with another week of training, he’ll be able to take Buffy on.

Giles gets himself a new phone, since he smashed his while he was a demon, and implies to Buffy that she needs to call him more often and tell him important things. She apologizes for not telling him about Riley and the Initiative and promises to keep him more informed in the future. Giles makes it clear that he doesn’t want her to spill any secrets, but he’s concerned about the Initiative after what Ethan said.

Buffy notes that she’s just dating Riley, not the whole organization, and he’s a good guy. Giles gets that, but he’s part of something they don’t understand. Buffy suspects that Giles sees the organization negatively because he doesn’t like Walsh. He advises her to keep her eyes open and be aware of what she’s getting into.

Walsh is annoyed that Riley broke protocol for Buffy. She warns him to be careful with his new girlfriend – she acts on instinct and her loyalties aren’t clear. Riley promises that Walsh won’t be disappointed in her. Buffy’s good at what she does and is the “truest soul” he’s ever met. “Lord, spare me college boys in love,” Walsh teases. She thinks he’s probably right and she’ll end up being impressed. After Riley leaves, she lets herself into a restricted area of the Initiative and opens a door marked 314.

Thoughts: I wish we’d gotten more Ethan episodes. His and Giles’ dynamic is so fun to watch. I would have loved to see him pretend to be rehabilitated, then go back to his evil ways.

“You were myth-taken” is brilliant.

I like this season for the most part but the fact that we’re halfway in and there’s no Big Bad is poor planning.

May 21, 2022

Buffy 3.6, Band Candy: 17 Again

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , at 1:17 pm by Jenn

I didn’t think Giles would own a shirt with a hole in it, but then I decided he poked the hole himself to make it look cool

Summary: Giles has joined Buffy on patrol in the cemetery, and he’s reading something about a tragic ending. It turns out he’s helping her study for the SAT. He doesn’t approve of her strategy of picking a multiple-choice answer just because she hasn’t chosen it in a while. He wants her to understand how important the SAT is. It’s a rite of passage. They take a study break so Buffy can kill a vampire with her pencil. (Giles has a backup.) She comments that they and the undead have to be the only people in Sunnydale still working at this time of night.

Well, the two of them, the undead, and the evil, at least. Mayor Wilkins is meeting with Mr. Trick to discuss an urgent, delicate matter. It’s something Mr. Trick has never handled before, but he can get Wilkins what he wants: “I know a beast who knows a guy.” Wilkins isn’t sold on using a subcontractor, but Mr. Trick says the guy is familiar with Sunnydale, and if he’s as good as his reputation says he is, chaos will reign. Wilkins is offering a tribute to a demon, which he says is what makes him different from other politicians – he keeps his campaign promises. Also, he has a bunch of creepy items in a cabinet. Actually, that might not set him apart from other politicians.

At school the next day, Buffy tells Willow and Oz about a nightmare she had where she was chased by an unproperly filled-in answer bubble that was screaming, “None of the above!” Willow hopes that wasn’t one of her prophetic dreams. Oz offers to help Buffy study; he has a trick to antonyms but doesn’t want to discuss it in public. Willow gushes that he’s the highest-scoring SAT taker to fail to graduate.

They meet up with Xander and Cordelia, who have very different opinions of the SAT. Xander thinks it’s fascist while Cordelia’s looking forward to it. She reveals that she does well on standardized tests. “What? I can’t have layers?” she asks when the others are surprised. Willow offers to study with Buffy that night, but Buffy has agreed to hang out with Joyce. She and Giles have been keeping a close eye on Buffy since she got back from L.A., which makes Buffy feel like she’s “in the Real World house, only real.”

In the cafeteria, Snyder is handing out candy bars – not for the students to eat, but for them to sell to raise money for the marching band. Yes, he’s aware that the Scoobies aren’t in the band. He doesn’t care. At home, Buffy tries to sell them to Joyce, who nicely agrees to buy half of them (possibly to hand out at her gallery). Buffy then asks when she’s allowed to take her driving test. Last year she failed the written test and wasn’t even allowed to take the road test. She thinks she’ll do better now. Joyce isn’t ready to give her a means of leaving town again, though.

Buffy has to go study and train with Giles again, and Joyce complains that he’s taking up a lot of her time. To be fair, he’s helping her with school stuff, so Joyce can’t really object. Buffy manages to get Giles to buy the rest of her candy bars before he blindfolds her and gives her a rubber ball. He wants to test her ability to track an opponent she can’t see. He has her wait five seconds, then throw the ball at him. She turns away from him, which makes him smile, but she throws the ball at a wall and it bounces off and hits him right in the forehead. And that’s a wrap on training. She has to go home to hang out with Joyce.

Buffy has actually done the classic “I’m with Mom/I’m with Dad” trick with Joyce and Giles so she can go see Angel. He’s doing shirtless tai chi, because why not? They’re slowly getting back to their old dynamic, but they’re still awkward with each other. She decides not to tell him that she and Scott split up. She’s brought him blood from a butcher shop, but he doesn’t want to eat in front of her. He makes sure she’s being careful with patrolling – he worries about her. She tells him she worries about him, too. They both pretend they’re looking forward to him fully regaining his strength and not needing her anymore.

When Buffy gets home, she learns that her lies have been discovered. Giles is there, and he’s not happy that Buffy deceived him, Joyce, and Willow. Buffy doesn’t want to tell them about Angel. The adults stress-eat candy bars while calling her immature. Buffy allows that she may be acting like a child, but it’s because they’ve been treating her like one. They’re scheduling all her time and won’t let her make any decisions on her own. Joyce points out that the last time they let her do that, she left town.

Buffy argues that she took care of herself while she was gone. She doesn’t need her mother and Watcher looking over her shoulder 24/7. Giles calls a ceasefire, telling Buffy and Joyce not to “freak out.” Buffy’s like, “Since when do you use young-people slang?” After she goes upstairs, Joyce tells Giles that she just wants to protect her daughter. Giles understands and says they should be especially careful since Buffy has a more dangerous life than most teens. While Giles opens another candy bar, a worker in the factor that packages them tries to sneak one of his own. Ethan Rayne stops him and cautions him not to eat it.

The next day, the Scoobies are all in study hall together, but the teacher hasn’t arrived. Cordelia thinks they should be allowed to leave, but Buffy knows Giles is on study-hall duty, so he’ll definitely be there soon. Cordelia thinks he needs to chill – he made her pay a huge late fine on a philosophy book. She wishes she still had it, since it was a great conversation-starter with college guys B.X. (before Xander).

At the table behind them, Xander eats a candy bar that Willow’s surprised he still has. She was easily able to sell all of hers in what she dubs “trick-or-treating in reverse.” Under the table, they’re playing footsie. They quickly separate when they think Cordelia’s caught them. She’s just annoyed that Giles hasn’t shown up: “I’m bored and he’s not here to give me credit for it.”

In the hallways, Snyder tells an older teacher named Ms. Barton that since Giles is MIA and he doesn’t want to run study hall, she has to do it. Snyder eats a candy bar and grumbles that he’s expected to do everything because he’s the principal. It’s not fair. Ms. Barton tells the students to sit quietly until they’re sure Snyder’s gone, and then they can all leave. Everyone’s thrilled except Buffy, who’s surprised that Giles didn’t show up.

She goes to his place and finds him hanging out with Joyce. They’ve agreed that they’re overscheduling Buffy, so they’re going to work out a better schedule. Joyce tells Buffy that she can drive home, so Buffy leaves as fast as she can. The second she’s gone, Giles lights a cigarette and Joyce opens a bottle of wine.

Buffy picks up Willow, who’s not a big fan of Buffy’s driving skills. Willow isn’t sure they should go to the Bronze, since the SAT is tomorrow. Buffy thinks they can balance dancing and studying. Back at Giles’, he and Joyce listen to Cream’s “Tales of Brave Ulysses” and smoke. She asks why his nickname is Ripper. He shushes her so he can hear the music. Joyce offers to order something on pay-per-view, but Giles, whose accent is slipping from upper-class to working-class, wants to go out and “tear things up.” Not at the Bronze, though – they won’t have fun there.

Other people are, and Dingoes Ate My Baby is playing for a big crowd. It’s not their usual kind of audience, though – it’s mostly adults. Even Ms. Barton is there. She assures Willow that she’s okay (“cool,” actually), then comments that Willow has the same name as a tree. “Are there any nachos in here, little tree?” she asks. The girls are a little disturbed, even more so when Snyder tries to chat with them.

Willow’s worried that one of the adults will have a heart attack. Buffy says there might be a doctor there. In fact, there is – he’s Willow’s doctor, and he’s stage-diving. “He’s usually less topless,” Willow says. Snyder tells the girls that he got a commendation from Wilkins, who shook his hand twice. He goes looking for “foxy ladies” as the girls wonder what’s making all the adults act like teenagers. At the factory, Mr. Trick checks in with Ethan, killing an employee he thinks was going to eat a candy bar. Whether or not he was, Mr. Trick tells Ethan that now no one else will try it.

Buffy, Willow, and Oz continue being disturbed at the Bronze as Snyder admires Oz’s hair. Willow’s doctor and some other guys have taken over the stage to sing “Louie, Louie.” Buffy spots a couple of adults making out and grimaces: “No vampire has ever been that scary.” A fight breaks out in the crowd and Buffy decides they need to figure out what’s going on. It has to be related to the Hellmouth. The Scoobies leave with their new BFF, Snyder, so they can confer with Giles. They realize he could be reverting to his teen personality, too.

Two candy-eating adults have a drag race as others play in a park. A mailman amuses himself by reading other people’s mail. Willow tries to convince herself that things will be okay once they get Giles involved. Oz says that even if he’s a teen again, he’ll probably be pretty together, since he’d still be Giles. Buffy tells him that teen Giles was “less ‘together guy,’ more ‘bad magic, hates the world, ticking time bomb’ guy.” Oz notes that Joyce might be in trouble.

Giles and Joyce are walking downtown, his arm around her like they’re a couple. She’s wearing a very un-Joyce-like jacket and he’s wearing an even more un-Giles-like white T-shirt and jeans. She says this feels like waking up from a dream. Things are like they’re supposed to be now. She spots a coat she likes (“very Juice Newton”) in a store window, so he breaks the window and steals it for her. She thinks he’s brave. Just then, a cop busts them.

Snyder wants to go to the school and do donuts in the football field. Buffy, bad driver that she is, doesn’t see a car driving straight at them. Giles taunts the cop, then beats him up and takes his gun. Now Joyce thinks he’s even cooler, “like Burt Reynolds.” They make out on the hood of the cop’s car. Meanwhile, the driver who hit the Scoobies runs off, and Buffy and Willow realize that all the adults in town are clueless and defenseless. Why aren’t vampires taking advantage of that? Oz guesses that something is happening somewhere else.

Snyder complains about someone stealing his candy, and Buffy finally figures out that the candy is key here. She tries to get Snyder to tell her where it came from, but he doesn’t know much. She sends Willow and Oz to get Xander and Cordelia and look into curses that might be at play here. She’ll take “rat boy” Snyder to the source.

They go to the factory, where everyone’s running wild outside. Buffy gets an eyeful of Joyce and Giles making out and breaks them up. She tells her mother to stop eating candy and go home. Joyce gives a typical stubborn teen response: “Screw you.” She’s not allowed to say anything about Buffy slaying, so Buffy doesn’t get to say anything about what Joyce wants to do. Buffy tries to snap her mother back to reality by showing her the huge dent in her car. Joyce is just distressed that she drives a “geek machine.”

Giles is amused, and he thinks he still has control over Buffy because he’s her Watcher. She rips his cigarette out of his mouth and stomps it out, then orders him to take Joyce home. Instead, the two of them and Snyder follow Buffy into the factory. It’s empty now, except for Ethan. He’s on the phone, telling Mr. Trick that he’s free to make his move now. When Ethan sees Buffy, he tells Mr. Trick to hurry. Giles and Ethan greet each other before Ethan takes off running.

In the library, Cordelia tells Willow that she enjoyed how the candy affected her parents until her mom started borrowing her clothes. Xander’s confused since he ate a ton of candy and doesn’t feel less mature. He realizes that’s because he’s already immature. He and Willow touch hands while passing off a book, but Cordelia doesn’t notice.

Buffy and Giles chase Ethan through walls of stacked candy boxes. Giles has trouble keeping up since he’s been smoking. Buffy finds Ethan by using Giles’ training about tracking an opponent you can’t see. Joyce and Snyder stay back, and he tries to flirt with her. She just rolls her eyes and walks away from him.

Buffy orders Ethan to spill what he knows, choosing to let him talk on his own before resorting to violence, even though Giles is pressuring her to hit him. Ethan says this wasn’t his idea, and Buffy needs to focus on Mr. Trick. Ethan’s just helping him gather a tribute for a demon. Giles urges Buffy to hit Ethan, thinking that since she’s his Slayer, she’ll follow his orders. When Ethan says he doesn’t remember the name of the demon, Buffy punches him. Giles jumps in the air in victory.

Ethan finally says the demon is Lurconis, and this was all just a distraction so no one would stop the gathering of the tribute. As a bonus, they’ll blame themselves when the candy wears off and they realize what happened. Buffy asks where she can find Mr. Trick, and when Ethan says he doesn’t know, Giles tells Buffy to hit him again. He grins as Buffy threatens more violence if Ethan doesn’t answer one last question: What’s the tribute? That would be newborn babies, who are currently being kidnapped from the hospital.

Buffy calls Willow so the Scoobies can look up Lurconis and whatever he might want as a tribute (Ethan claims not to know). Snyder taunts Ethan for being beaten up by Buffy and says he took tae kwon do at the Y. Joyce still isn’t impressed. Ethan grabs a crow bar and sneaks up behind Buffy, but Giles still has the cop’s gun, and just pointing it at Ethan gets him to freeze. Buffy takes it from him as Willow relays information Oz found in a book about Lurconis’ preferred offering.

Buffy tells Giles and Joyce to find something to use to tie up Ethan. Joyce sheepishly produces a pair of handcuffs. “Never tell me,” Buffy says. Good call. They head to the hospital and discover that they’re too late to prevent the kidnappings. Giles remembers something he once read about Lurconis and says they’ll find him in the sewers. Snyder decides to ditch this adventure, which makes Giles call him a coward. Buffy asks the adults to act like adults and help her stop the tribute.

She sends Snyder home and takes Giles and Joyce with her to the sewers. She also requests that they stop making out. Mr. Trick is at the tribute, where demons are chanting and waiting for Lurconis to come get the babies. Wilkins is also there, making a call about having repairs done to the sewers. Buffy, Giles, and Joyce arrive, and Buffy fights the demons while the other two save the babies.

Lurconis (basically a big snake) arrives, sees no babies, and eats a minion instead. Mr. Trick is about to go up against Buffy when Giles steps in for her. Before he can get eaten by Lurconis, Buffy breaks a gas pipe, sets the gas on fire with a torch from the ritual, and kills Lurconis with her homemade blow torch. Mr. Trick escapes, telling Buffy they’ll face off again later. She grumbles that vampires always have to say something instead of just leaving.

Joyce tells Buffy she’ll write a note to get her out of having to take the SAT the next day. Buffy decides to be responsible and take it anyway. Mr. Trick meets with Wilkins, trying to spin the tribute failure as a positive, since Lurconis is dead and Wilkins doesn’t owe him anything now. Mr. Trick did Wilkins a favor. Wilkins warns him to be careful about the amount of favors he does.

At school on Monday, Xander tries to tease Snyder about his adventures on Friday. The candy’s worn off, so Snyder no longer has anything resembling a sense of humor. He tells the Scoobies to clean up some vandalism from Friday night. Someone spray-painted “Kiss rocks” on some lockers, which makes Willow wonder who would want to kiss rocks.

Buffy tells Giles how difficult things were for her – everything she thought she understood was gone, and she felt alone. He asks if she’s talking about the math or verbal portion of the SAT. He reminds her that she can retake it if she doesn’t get a good score. Buffy notes that she could die before she can even apply to college, so what’s the point? Joyce arrives to pick Buffy up, and she and Giles are awkward with each other. He mentions the damage to Joyce’s car, and Buffy says things could have been worse. At least she got to them before they went too far. Joyce and Giles are all, “Yes, definitely,” and walk away quickly.

Thoughts: The Angel spinoff tries this same reverting-to-adolescence plot (and Angel and Cordelia get to participate in that one), and it’s fun, but not as much fun as it is here.

Clearly the show wanted us to be grateful for getting to see Angel doing shirtless tai chi, but strangely, I’m more grateful for Giles in a white T-shirt.

Giles grinning and jumping because Buffy hit Ethan is definitely a series high point.

I love that while everyone’s waiting for Lurconis, Wilkins is like, “These sewers aren’t up to code. We need to do something about this. I owe it to my constituents.”

January 1, 2022

Buffy 2.8, The Dark Age: Return of the Ripper

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:16 pm by Jenn

Giles can definitely be intimidating when he wants to be

Summary: A man with a silver case comes to Sunnydale High one night, looking for Giles. A custodian points him toward the library, but before the man can get there, he encounters a demonic-looking woman. He knows her as Diedre and she knows him as Philip. Philip bangs on the outside door to the library, begging for help, but no one comes to save him.

It may be because Buffy’s blasting techno music while working out in the library. Giles complains but doesn’t make her turn it down. Back outside, Diedre chokes Philip, so by the time Buffy turns off the music, there’s nothing to hear from outside. Philip and Diedre both collapse, and she turns into some blue goo that spreads toward Philip’s body.

That night, Giles dreams of some ritualistic activities from decades earlier – someone tattooing their own hand, people chanting with candles, and a guy saying it’s time to go to sleep. Also, there’s a demon. At school, Buffy and Willow play Anywhere But Here, a game where they imagine themselves…well, anywhere but there. Buffy’s on a beach with Gavin Rossdale, and Willow encounters John Cusack in Italy. Xander joins them and offers his usual scenario: hanging out at a water-slide park with Hong Kong actress Amy Yip.

Willow wonders if Giles ever played Anywhere But Here when he was in school. Xander says he must have lived for school and is still bitter that it ended after 12 grades. Buffy guesses that he “sat in math class thinking, ‘There should be more math. This could be mathier.'” Willow isn’t sure he didn’t get restless as a kid. Buffy says he had tweed diapers.

Giles joins the group to talk about Buffy’s assignment for that night: The blood supply at the hospital is getting its monthly replenishment, which means vampires are likely to try to steal themselves some free meals. Buffy and Giles will meet there to protect it. Giles will bring the weapons; Buffy will bring the snacks. He wants her to be serious, so she asks if she’s ever let him down. “Should I answer that or should I just glare?” he replies.

Jenny approaches and reminds Willow that she’s going to help with a tutoring session the next day. Xander learns for the first time that he has to attend. Cordelia will also be there, which means Xander has to a) do an extra day of class b) on Saturday c) with Cordelia. Giles and Jenny head off together, with the other Scoobies admiring their cuteness…until they realize they don’t want to think about the two of them together.

Giles and Jenny chat about a book he loaned her, and she teases him by pretending she marked it up and spilled coffee on it. She tells him he’s a “fuddy-duddy.” Yeah, he’s definitely heard that one before. She adds that he’s also kind of sexy. That one, he hasn’t heard. They agree to meet up the next night for some very adult activities.

A detective named Winslow is waiting for Giles in the library with a couple of cops. They found Philip’s body, and he had Giles’ name and address in his pocket. Cordelia comes in looking for a book for her computer class, completely unphased by the presence of law enforcement. When Giles points out that he’s busy talking to them, Cordelia asks Winslow to help her get a traffic ticket thrown out. (She was pulled over for driving down a one-way street. Yeah, she was going in the wrong direction, but she was only going one way!)

Giles gets sharp, trying to get her to leave. She tells him he doesn’t have to yell – she can take a hint. She needs a hint with the hint, though. He kicks her out, then goes to the morgue with the detective so he can ID Philip’s body. The two of them were friends back in London but haven’t spoken in 20 years. Giles doesn’t know why Philip wanted to get in touch now. He sees a tattoo on Philip’s arm but tells Winslow he doesn’t know what the symbol means.

Buffy’s on time for the blood delivery that night, but Giles is late. She’s happy enough to get to admire a couple of doctors accepting the delivery, until she realizes that doctors probably wouldn’t be handling that. They’re really vampires, and another vampire yells at them for sampling the product. Buffy fights all three of them (one at a time, of course) and is surprised when Angel arrives to lend a hand. One guy gets away, but the blood is safe. Buffy asks Angel to take it inside while she tries to find out why Giles didn’t show up.

She goes to his apartment, where he tells her he’s busy and will see her on Monday. He totally forgot about the blood delivery. He says he’s in the middle of something important, then dismisses her. After Buffy leaves, Giles tries to call Diedre and learns that she died recently. He crosses her name off a list that includes five names: Thomas, Philip, Diedre, Giles, and Ethan. Giles and Ethan’s names are the only ones not crossed off. Giles goes to the bathroom to splash water on his face, first rolling up his sleeve, which reveals that he has the same tattoo as Philip. “So…you’re back,” he says.

In the morgue, Philip wakes up, his eyes glowing yellow. When an attendant comes to check on the occupants, Philip’s drawer is empty. Philip ambushes him and shoves him in the drawer. At Sunnydale High, Jenny, Willow, Xander, and Cordelia are arriving for their Saturday session. Buffy shows up to talk to Jenny about Giles’ weird behavior the day before. Jenny gets concerned when Buffy says that he was drinking by himself. Xander isn’t surprised – people wound tightly like Giles eventually go dark. His uncle Rory was the same way.

Buffy confirms that no one else has noticed anything strange with Giles. Cordelia says he was fine when she talked to him the day before, while he was dealing with the police. She didn’t mention that to the Scoobies earlier because she didn’t think it was important. Buffy goes to the library to call Giles, but before she can, she hears someone in the stacks. It’s Ethan, and he pushes a shelf over on her so he can get away. She stops him and recognizes him as the person behind the Halloween mischief. She punches him and he asks if that makes them even.

Ethan says he’s just there to snoop around. Buffy suggests that she call the police and let them handle whatever’s going on here. He tells her that the police will want to talk to Giles, someone he’s known for a long time and is looking for. Giles is currently passed out at his desk at home, having dreams like the ones he had the night before – tattoos, demons, someone with glowing eyes, all that stuff. Buffy calls and asks him what the Mark of Eyghon is. That would be his tattoo, which Ethan also has.

She tells him she’s with Ethan, and Giles warns that she’s in danger. She needs to get as far away from him as possible. Turns out Ethan isn’t the threat, though – Philip is. He bursts into the library and faces off with Buffy. Ethan tries to escape, but the Scoobies are on their way in, and Buffy tells them to capture him. Cordelia stops him by kicking and tripping him.

Buffy locks Philip in the book cage, and the Scoobies determine that they’re dealing with a zombie. Giles arrives and makes sure everyone’s okay. “I kicked a guy!” Cordelia boasts. Xander thanks Philip for interrupting class. Giles reminds Ethan that he told him to leave town, but Ethan, who calls him Ripper, says the lease on his costume shop isn’t up until the end of the month. Cordelia wonders why Ethan called Giles “Ripper.” Giles grabs Ethan by the hair, pulling him out of his chair, and says he should have left earlier. Cordelia gets the nickname now.

Giles is coolly furious that Ethan put people he cares about in danger. Ethan wonders why Giles didn’t leave town if he was so worried about them. He knows Giles has been having the dreams, since Ethan’s also having them. They both know what’s coming. Buffy demands answers, but before Giles can give them, Philip breaks out of the book cage, hitting Jenny with the door and knocking her out. Giles checks on her while Buffy fights the zombie, which doesn’t take much effort. He starts convulsing and falls to the ground. Then he turns into blue goo like Diedre did, spreading toward Jenny.

Buffy realizes that Ethan ran off, and she goes off to find him. Jenny regains consciousness and seems okay, except for the part where her eyes can glow now. Buffy returns, having lost Ethan, and again demands answers. Giles doesn’t want to share secrets about his past, but Buffy doesn’t think he has the right to privacy anymore. He sternly tells her that he’s her Watcher, and he’s ordering her to stay out of this.

Giles takes Jenny home, and the Scoobies immediately get to work looking up the Mark of Eyghon. Cordelia wants to help, since she cares about Giles, but she might not care about him enough to work with Xander. Giles takes Jenny to his place instead of hers, and apologizes for getting her mixed up in his mess. Jenny says that since they’re dating, they should be involved in each other’s messes. He tells her he needs to take her home since he’s not a safe person to be around right now. She replies that nothing in the world is safe.

Back at the library, Willow finds information on the Mark of Eyghon, so named for the entity its bearers worship. He’s known as the sleepwalker and only exists in this reality when he temporarily possesses unconscious hosts. That possession gives them “a euphoric feeling of power.” The possession can become permanent, though, if a certain ritual isn’t performed. Then the host can manifest Eyghon. Eyghon can also possess the dead, but he eventually destroys the body he’s in and has to find a new host.

Willow’s familiar with this kind of thing, since ancient groups used to do this to make parties and orgies more fun. Buffy notes that since Philip’s body turned to goo, Eyghon must have left his body. Cordelia thinks there’s nothing to worry about, since no one’s dead. Buffy and Xander realize that someone in the room was unconscious.

Jenny pulls out Giles’ phone line as he brings her some tea. She suggests that instead of taking her home, he take advantage of her. Buffy can’t get a hold of either Giles or Jenny, so she decides to go to Giles’ place. Giles tells Jenny that while he likes her, he’s not going to hook up with her right now. She keeps trying to seduce him, and when he resists, she mocks him for always being so proper and careful. She calls him Ripper and says he never had the strength for her. “You don’t deserve me,” she says. “But guess what: You’ve got me…under your skin.”

Her voice is demonic now, and after she kisses him again, her face is, too. “Was it good for you?” she asks. She beats him up and threatens to kill him. Buffy arrives just then, but instead of fighting her, Jenny/Eyghon says, “Three down, two to go. Be seein’ ya.” Then she jumps out the window. Dramatic! Buffy asks Giles how they stop Eyghon. He’s apologetic about causing this trouble, but Buffy says this is no different from any other demon they’ve taken on. Giles says it is, since he created this one.

As Xander finds a picture of Giles from his 20s, when he looked less like a librarian and more like someone you’d see at a punk concert, Giles tells Buffy his story. He was a student at Oxford, but his studies were boring and he dreaded the future in store for him as a Watcher. He dropped out and moved to London. He got involved with a group of people who practiced magic, and he and Ethan introduced them to Eyghon. They would summon the demon to possess one of them and give them a kind of high. One of them lost control and Eyghon overtook him and killed him. Giles blames himself for the death.

The group thought Eyghon was gone after that, but he’s back and targeting the remaining members of the group. Now just Giles and Ethan are left. Buffy wants Giles to stay put while she takes care of the demon. Giles says he doesn’t know how to stop Eyghon without killing Jenny. Buffy assures him that they’ll come up with a solution. He tells her he’s sorry, and she just says that she knows.

Buffy goes to Ethan’s costume shop, since she has to protect him to protect Giles. Ethan wonders how Giles is able to earn someone’s concern. Buffy says it’s because he’s Giles. Ethan tells her they can’t run; his tattoo is like a homing beacon, so Eyghon will find him wherever he goes. Buffy says she’s not big on running away anyway. “Aren’t we manly?” he remarks. “One of us is,” she replies. She tells him to hide while she takes care of things. Ethan says that’s great, then knocks her out.

When Buffy wakes up, she’s tied face-down to a table, and Ethan is getting ready to give her a Mark of Eyghon tattoo. It’s nothing personal – he kind of likes her. He just likes himself more. She should think of this as a good deed. She’s going to take Ethan’s place so he can live. Buffy wonders if she’ll ruin that good deed by killing him. Ethan starts the tattoo, telling Buffy she’s free to scream if she wants.

Willow, Xander, and Cordelia are now looking for ways to defeat Eyghon. Cordelia’s solution: cut off the demon’s head. She and Xander start fighting, and they’re about to make it physical when Willow yells at them to work with her or get out. They immediately apologize, because angry Willow is kind of scary. Xander comes up with a much better idea: find a body for Eyghon to jump into. Willow notes that that won’t kill Eyghon, just give it a new host. But she gets another, more brilliant idea.

Buffy tries to talk Ethan out of continuing his plan, which next involves him using acid to burn off his tattoo. Giles is hit by flashes of memories from his dreams, as well as a vision of Buffy. He realizes what Ethan’s up to and rushes to the shop to stop him. Ethan’s done, though, and Jenny/Eyghon’s at his door, ready to kill again. She skips over Ethan and goes after Buffy instead.

Buffy’s able to free herself, and she’s fighting Jenny/Eyghon when Giles arrives and offers himself up instead. Buffy tries to get between him and Jenny/Eyghon, but the demon tosses her aside. Just as she’s about to possess Giles, Angel runs in and starts fighting her. The other Scoobies are right behind him, and Willow promises that this will work.

It does – the demon leaves Jenny and possesses Angel, who briefly turns into a demon before passing out. Buffy realizes that Eyghon, thinking he was in danger, jumped into the nearest dead person. Angel already has a demon inside him, and it was stronger than Eyghon. So, to sum up, Eyghon’s gone, Jenny and Angel are fine, and Ethan has escaped (again). Happy ending!

At school on Monday, Buffy complains to Willow and Xander that she was saving her allowance to buy some shoes, and now she’ll have to use the money to get her tattoo removed. She just hopes Joyce doesn’t see it before then. Xander praises Willow for her brilliant idea to put Eyghon into Angel. Buffy thinks she should become a Watcher. Willow doesn’t think she could handle the stress. She doesn’t know how Giles does it. Buffy says he doesn’t have a choice.

Giles runs into Jenny, who’s been avoiding his calls. She says she’s fine, or at least coping. He offers his help, but Jenny clearly doesn’t want to be too involved with him right now. Giles gets it. Buffy asks him how she’s doing, and he tells her he’s not sure Jenny will ever be able to forgive him. Buffy thinks he should forgive himself first. Giles says he never wanted Buffy to see that side of him. She admits that it was scary, but it just let her see him as a person. They’re both flawed, which means they have something in common. That probably won’t ever extend to their music preferences, though.

Thoughts: Some teens drink or use drugs to feel good; some do rituals so they can be possessed by a demon. I get it. We all have our vices.

Cordelia being so proud of herself just for kicking Ethan always cracks me up. I think she expects a reward.

Giles without glasses is a whole different look, and Jenny finding him sexy is a lot more understandable.

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.”