Buffy 2×06: Halloween

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Carl Ellsworth | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 10/27/1997]

“Don’t wish to blow my own trumpet, but it’s genius. The very embodiment of ‘be careful what you wish for’.” – Ethan Rayne

It’s almost as if writer Carl Ellsworth (with likely plenty of help from Whedon) is reaching through the screen and bragging about how great a story this is, because that quote really sums up “Halloween” perfectly. “Halloween” is actually brilliant in its structural simplicity: the Scoobies turn into their costumes on Halloween and Giles has to figure out how to revert the changes. This basic framework unlocks a lot of breathing room for both insight and growth from a nice variety of characters.

The best thing “Halloween” has going for it, besides said character growth, is that it’s fun! After the heavy-handedness and occasional boredom of the last two episodes it’s nice to see a well-paced episode that is enjoyable from start to finish. It’s an episode with nary a crippling flaw.

“Halloween” splits up its attention evenly amongst Buffy, Willow, and Xander, with Ethan Rayne invoking Janus — along with fond memories of Sean Bean in Goldeneye — as the catalyst for their mini journeys. It’s a “division of self,” Giles says, who himself reveals a pre-existing division between Tweed Man and Ripper. In Giles’ case it’s the division of past and present. Cordelia, on the other hand, doesn’t change into her costume — metaphorically — because she has no schism of self: she comes as she is. The other characters, though, aren’t so lucky. Drusilla says, “Everything’s switching. Outside to inside:” you become your costume. Where Xander and Willow find inner confidence from this change, Buffy discovers that her princess fantasy is not only dangerous, but also a barrier to both what she wants now (i.e. Angel) and to the woman she is to become — it’s a reduction of self on multiple levels.

Janus, the Roman god of (per Wikipedia) “beginnings and transitions,” is at the heart of what “Halloween” has to say and also marks a transition into the next thematic section of the season. What does this mean for the characters though? Well, it hints that their world is going to be changing soon and that people may have more sides to them than are initially seen. The opening episodes of Season 2 have thus far been strongly focused on Buffy’s sexual awakening, but “Halloween” marks a bit of a thematic shift in focus with Janus as the guide.

Starting with Ethan Rayne in this episode we see a sequence of featured newcomers, and one regular, that aren’t entirely who they appear to be, from Ford (“Lie to Me” [2×07]) to Giles (“The Dark Age” [2×08]) to Kendra (“What’s My Line? Pt. 1” [2×09]) to Ted (“Ted” [2×11]). Finally, “Bad Eggs” [2×12] will pull the focus right back to strong sexual themes leading into “Surprise” [2×13] and “Innocence” [2×14], where both of these competing themes are equally at play, thus kicking off an earth-shattering emotional arc for Buffy that will forever change who she is. This all fits right into the larger picture of the characters’ burgeoning adolescence — harder choices, surprising people, and changing roles. Season 2 is a very personal, intimate season, but not only in a sexual way, which means that Buffy’s not the only one to come out of the season changed.

Some of that change starts right here though! Each of the core characters learns something important about themselves in “Halloween”, and we thankfully don’t run into the dreaded Reset Button at the end that wipes it all away. The episode kicks off with Buffy dispatching a vampire on a nightly patrol. This causes her to be late to the coffee date that created all the excitement in “Reptile Boy” [2×05]. The competition from Cordelia for Angel’s affections — even though he has no interest in her — along with the effect that Buffy’s slayer sacrifices will always have on her personal life lead to a false belief that a lack of traditional feminine ‘grace’ might not be so appealing to Angel. It doesn’t help that Cordelia’s telling Buffy “when it comes to dating, I’m the Slayer.” The 18th century dress Buffy finds in the Watcher Diaries gets her thinking that this is the sort of girl Angel might have been into at that time (which turns out to be entirely false). All of this leads her to the decision to dress up as a proper princess for Halloween — one that that can “coif with the best of ’em.”

The problem with all the “coifing” is that it is precisely the kind of character Buffy was built to subvert! To see her want to inhabit this persona is self-defeating, although I can certainly understand her motivation for it. For one, she really doesn’t know Angel very well, and they don’t really talk extensively about anything other than ‘work’. Although the princess fantasy can be naΓ―ve, childish, and arguably dangerous, there’s also something inherently charming and appealing about it. Disney movies, if nothing else, prove that there’s definitely an appetite for the fantasy of the strapping young prince rescuing the beautiful pampered princess. In the world Buffy lives in, though, this kind of fantasy isn’t a realistic option, as we find out through the ease in which Spike can get to this version of Buffy.

What Janus does for Buffy is showcase the split between her inner child and her maturing adolescent state. For this one episode Buffy gets to become a child again, and the results aren’t pretty. While in this childlike state, the more complex world of adolescence is more than she can handle — she is helpless, scared, and easy fodder for a hungry Spike. Buffy’s underlying cry for support and warmth comes through clearly: “No! I, I don’t understand any of this! (Looks at photo of herself) This is some other girl! I would never wear this, that low apparel, and I don’t like this place, and I don’t like you, and I just want to go home!” This is the language of a frightened child, or, per Spike, a “lost little lamb.”

These cries to be taken care of may live in a corner of Buffy’s psyche, but they don’t define who she is anymore. Buffy has chosen to step on the path to adulthood. This is why when the spell breaks, the first words we hear from her — in reference to her earlier cry of wanting to go home — are “hey honey, I’m home!” These words, said to Spike, mock the helpless version of herself while reinforcing who she is now: a confident albeit still maturing girl with a whole lot of power. None of this insight is particularly revelatory considering everything that was explored in Season 1 and “When She Was Bad” [2×01], but it’s a welcome reinforcement of those themes nonetheless.

Willow, on the other hand, gets some hard growth in “Halloween”. Early in the series one of Willow’s biggest insecurities is her lack of confidence. The ghost costume is perfect for Willow right now, and a clear attempt to hide anything that might bring attention to her. The fact that Willow keeps the skimpy outfit on underneath the ghost outfit is very telling and suggests that a much more confident individual lies beneath the shy exterior. Sometimes all that’s needed is a gentle, yet forceful, push to begin that transformation.

Well, Willow doesn’t exactly get pushed forward gently here. Janus brilliantly causes Willow to turn into an actual ghost, but the real treat is that it’s a ghost of the sexier, confident persona she was previously trying to hide. This is incredibly clever! Even better is that with Buffy out of commission and Xander with no memory of who he is, Willow’s the only one capable of leading everyone to safety in the midst of all the chaos. Without missing a beat, Willow takes charge by corralling the Scoobies to relative safety, syncing up with Giles at the library to find out what is happening, and then meeting back up with the group to fill everyone in.

In taking charge and handling a crisis, particularly when in an embarrassing (to her) skimpy outfit, Willow has gained a nice bit of natural confidence from the experience. Down the road, unfortunately, magical confidence will become a substitute for personal confidence, which leads her down a dangerous path. For now, though, Willow is on the right track to becoming a more assured girl who’s capable of holding her own in a healthy way. As an added bonus, Willow gets rewarded for this growth by Oz becoming increasingly infatuated with her as a result of specific changes she’s been making in her life (i.e. letting her crush on Xander go and putting herself out there more). After all, when Willow bumped into Oz at the school covered up in the ghost costume he didn’t notice her at all! This is slick character writing.

Finally we come to Xander, who’s facing a bit of a masculine version of Willow’s struggles. Xander has trouble sticking up for himself at school, as initially shown by his confrontation with Larry. When Buffy roughs Larry up a bit to defend him it violates the “man code,” causing him to be (overly) offended. Within the halls of a high school this sort of incident can sadly lead to a whole lot of bullying, especially for those that appear weak. High school can most certainly be hell at times.

Similar to how Willow overcompensates for her shyness with a ghost costume, Xander overcompensates for his struggles with an ultra-masculine army costume. Janus ends up having a similar effect on Xander as it did to Willow, as it allows him to be the hero — the lead guy — for probably the only time in his life thus far, and just like Janus’ effect drew Oz to Willow, Cordelia is further drawn to Xander thanks to this transformation. Despite all of Janus’ transformations, I really feel like there’s a seed of the individual personalities shining through. This means that Buffy really does still have childish fears living inside her, Willow really does have a well of confidence inside of her, and that Xander definitely has inner strength and is capable of defending himself — the last part being why beating up Pirate Larry gives him so much “closure.”

“Halloween” is a really pleasant episode that offers a bit of depth but a surprising breadth of character growth that is spread among a lot of characters. Throw in some humor, a little Spike, and one of the best plots in the entire series, and we’ve got a definite winner. The only thing holding back my excitement a tiny bit is that none of the action here strikes a deep emotional chord. It’s a fun episode, no doubt, but it’s lacking in moments — whether comedic or dramatic — that find my gut and deeply affect me. Buffy is capable, at its best, to deliver everything “Halloween” can while simultaneously launching my emotions into the stratosphere. Even though “Halloween” doesn’t quite reach that level, it doesn’t detract much from my enthusiasm for what is truly a wonderful, classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Neat little teaser fight in the pumpkin patch.
+ Spike getting some film on Buffy in secret. It’s smart, sure, but I think Spike also enjoys simply watching her fight.
+ The nice bit of continuity from “Reptile Boy” [2×05] regarding the coffee date.
+ Seeing Cordelia flirting with Angel at the Bronze is just so fun considering the friendship the two of them will have over on Angel.
+ The notion that the evil forces of the world take the night off for Halloween, which is itself a kind of reversal of expectations.
+ The scene where Buffy distracts Giles so Willow can sneak into his office to snatch the Watcher Diaries. Cute!
+ Buffy telling Giles that Ms. Calendar said he was “a babe.” Even better? Willow’s scowl of disapproval. Hah!
+ Ah, Ethan Rayne, chaos worshiper. His presence is always solid for a few chuckles.
+ The background continuity of Cordelia having problems with Devon, which is clearing the stage for a relationship change. Right after Cordelia complains about Devon, Willow and Oz casually bump into each other. Awesome.
+ Spike’s pure glee at seeing the chaos in the streets. I like how he has a similar reaction — even after a ton of character growth — in “Bargaining Pt. 2” [6×02]. A soulless demon is still a soulless demon.
+ Willow walking through the wall and freaking Giles out! This is one of my favorite laugh-out-loud moments in the entire series!

–Β It would have been nice seeing Buffy exert a little more effort at the end to prevent Spike from leaving.


Foreshadowing

* The hints about “Ripper” will be brought up again soon, as in two episodes soon (“The Dark Age” [2×08]).
* Angel recalls that in his youth he didn’t care for the noble women of the day. He wanted someone “exciting; interesting.” As we’ll come to find out in “Becoming Pt. 1” [2×21], Darla fits that bill. This is kind of like pre-shadowing!


[Score]

94/100

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59 thoughts on “Buffy 2×06: Halloween”

  1. [Note: AthenaMuze posted this comment on August 24, 2006.]

    I know this is all the way back in S2, but I was catching up on some reviews and I happened to have the chance to watch the episode recently. I noticed a few things I thought were interesting in the continuity/foreshadowing realm of this episode that were not mentioned in the review.

    1. Honey I’m home: This is what Buffy says to Spike when she returns to herself and then starts beating the crap out of him. In S7, after Buffy retrieves the scythe and returns to the house, Spike comes in the door saying “Honey you’re home”

    2. The dress: specifically the sketch of the dress in the watcher’s journal. Is it just me, or does this getup resemble some of the early Darla looks?

    3. Of course the obvious: Xander retains his knowledge of the military for quite some time after this event and this is referred to several times throughout the series.

    Some of it may be trivial or coincidence, but still interesting I thought…

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  2. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 24, 2006.]

    Generally I try not to put too much of what is considered ‘continuity’ in the foreshadowing section, and will touch on it in the review that the continuity appears in. So out of your three points, I’d classify the first one as having the most relevance in that particular section of the episode. That’s a very fun little connection! If anything, it may foreshadow the eventual relationship between them. Cool stuff though. πŸ™‚

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  3. [Note: jessica posted this comment on April 9, 2007.]

    hi this is me again this is a good episode i liked it when buffy said i like the man with a musket do you have a musket :L:L:L: lol

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  4. [Note: Latoya posted this comment on May 22, 2007.]

    I do not like Willow being the leader. It just doesn’t come off as natural to me. Not here, and definitely not in those few eps in season 5 & 6 when Buffy was temporarily gone and she took over. Wilow comes off a little forced. Very scary in the later seasons since you can see that hint of evil from all of the magics. Such as when she separated Xander and Spike after Buffy went into catatonia. Or when she was using her telepathy on the group in Bargaiing against their will.

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  5. [Note: Nina posted this comment on June 21, 2007.]

    i love willow being the leader! shes just way to cool.

    I was watching the episode and i was all “FUCK look at angels face when buffy screams when he turns into a vampire!” like.. imagin if you were angel and your soon to be girlfriend screamed at you! but yeah. im a weirdo.. and only weirdoz think about this kinda stuff!
    Love this epy.
    Ninaa

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  6. [Note: Melanie posted this comment on June 26, 2007.]

    Buffy’s reaction to seeing a car for the first time, “It’s a demon!” This is the exact same response Angel will have when he looses his memory and sees LA traffic speeding by in the “Angel” episode “Spin the Bottle.”

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  7. [Note: Sunny posted this comment on July 29, 2007.]

    I love how Cordelia hangs all over Angel, and Willow goes ‘he’d never fall for her act’ and lo and behold… a few seasons later, an a spin off show, and Willow is proved very wrong.

    Ahaha, the security code was ‘wusp’, that makes me laugh… it’s 4 in the morning, I’m easily amused…

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  8. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 10, 2007.]

    I agree with Nina, I also think that Willow as a leader is vey cool and it seems very natural to me. I really like when she freaks Giles and then he says “the ghost of what?”. Very good episode, excellent episode. And I also like Giles as a badass.

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  9. [Note: gabrielleabelle posted this comment on November 6, 2007.]

    I tend to think of Willow as a fairly good leader. She’s got the smarts, she just lacks the confidence. In the early seasons, we see her get past that every now and again (this episode being an example), but we also see later on what happens when she gets a bit too much confidence and goes overboard.

    Love this ep. It’s such a classic.

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  10. [Note: Emily posted this comment on February 15, 2009.]

    I just wanted to point out that I really like the way Angel says, “Simpering morons, the lot of them.” That was funny, especially when you compare it to the way he described the gypsy girl in 1×07: “beautiful…dumb as a post.” Also, I love how Cordelia doesn’t believe Buffy when she and Willow tell her that Angel’s a vampire!

    Nina, I agree- I kinda felt bad for Angel when Buffy screamed in fright.

    And Sunny, when Angel falls in love with Cordelia, she’s a very different person….I think the point there is that Cordelia doesn’t have an “act” anymore. Her character grows in leaps and bounds in AtS. (Not that I approve in any way of Buffy or Angel being with other people besides each other. Except maybe Spike when I’m in the middle of watching Season 6 or 7.)

    All in all, amazing episode. One of my favorites.

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  11. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 28, 2009.]

    Cordelia has all the best lines in this episode:

    “Buffy, love the hair. It just screams street urchin.”

    “Look, Buffy. You may be hot stuff when it comes to demonology or whatever, but when it comes to dating, I’m the Slayer.”

    Willow: Okay, your name is Cordelia, you’re not a cat, you’re in high school and we’re your friends… well, sort of.
    Cordelia: That’s nice, Willow, and you went mental when??
    Willow: You know us?
    Cordelia: Yeah, lucky me.

    Buffy: Well, it’s not our place to fight. Surely some men will protect us!
    Cordelia: What’s THAT riff?

    “They don’t know who they are, everyone’s turned into a monster, it’s a WHOLE big thing. How are you?”

    (The lights go out and Buffy gets scared and clings to Cordelia)
    Cordelia: Do you mind?

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  12. [Note: buffbot posted this comment on April 26, 2009.]

    ehh see when buffy and willow are in the bathroom looking at the book of angels past is the girl in the dress darla that they discuss

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  13. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 6, 2009.]

    I love when Giles flips out when Willow walks through the wall and think Willow’s frustrated “She couldn’t have dressed up like Xena?” was hilarious.

    Willow as a leader is a great thing as not only does she have the smarts, she takes the time to use them. She doesn’t go running off half-cocked.

    And the Ripper/Ethan scene was superb! Oh, Giles, you naughty boy, what did you get up t in the past?

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  14. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on August 6, 2009.]

    I did love this episode, except for the fact that Buffy tries to dress Willow up as a normal teenager for Halloween. Aren’t people supposed to wear fancy dress costumes? They could at least have got her a sexy demon outfit or a witch (that would have been cool for the continuity) but her costume is just Buffy’s normal clothes. Just seemed slightly weak to me. Still one of my favourite episodes though-I love Ethan Rayne!

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  15. [Note: Nix posted this comment on September 14, 2009.]

    Emily, it can’t be Dru: Angel never met Dru until after he was vamped. The entry is labelled ‘Sarah Crockford’ (or something like that), so I think we must assume it’s just some random upper-class girl we never heard of.

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  16. [Note: Person posted this comment on November 16, 2009.]

    Adorable! XD

    The “Who IS that girl!?” line is classic. Kinda like Cinderella, only Oz never really got to meet Willow before that line (well, he attempted!) and he has like, no artifact other than look for the cute little red head tagging along a blonde, a geek and the school librarian.

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  17. [Note: Emily posted this comment on November 26, 2009.]

    Nix, I just realized that it’s impossible for it to be Dru because they were saying that it was 1775 and he was 18. Never caught that till now.

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  18. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on March 7, 2010.]

    And I noticed last week some more foreshadowing/continuity: When Xander takes his shirt off and is shown in his military green undershirt, Cordelia is quite impressed by his body. This later happens again in S2 – Go Fish.

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  19. [Note: Nia posted this comment on May 21, 2010.]

    If Xander’s military training from being a soldier for this one Halloween night didn’t completely go away until the end of S4, does that mean that for two years Buffy still knew things that an 18th century girl would know? It’s too bad that was never brought up like Xander’s military know-how.

    Lucy, it may have been a “normal” look for Buffy, but for Willow it was outside of her comfort zone. She NEVER dressed like that. It was a daring costume for her.

    This is yet another episode that Buffy almost gets raped. Halloween. Reptile Boy. Seeing Red. Who Are You *I think it counts as rape since Faith let someone have sex with Buffy’s body without Buffy’s consent and had sex with Buff’s body herself without Buffy’s consent*. The Pack. Go Fish. Bargaining #2. (Plus the rape threats & sexual harassment in Empty Places, Flooded, Helpless, Phases, Anne, Buffy v Dracula, Bewitched Bothered & Bewildered, Him, etc)

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  20. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on July 23, 2010.]

    Right off the bat, one thing that bugs me is Willow as a ghost. She has a reflection and shadow and when she leaves Giles with Ethan, you can hear the doorbell ring as she opens it up to walk out. She is a ghost! Alyson could have just walked out of frame and waited until the shot was done.

    That done with, I really liked this episode and it was funny watching Buffy defenceless. She would drive you crazy pretty fast, though. Giles as a tough guy is so good to watch, yet, makes alot of the previous episodes (Inca Mummy Girl) a bit odd, seeing as how he can fight and defend himself.

    Oz and his second view of Willow. “Who is that girl?”

    I would not give it a 95, but a late 80 or early 90.

    Like

  21. [Note: Susan posted this comment on August 2, 2010.]

    I just rewatched this episode and enjoyed it so much more than I remember from the earlier times that I saw it. I’ve discovered that so many of my favorite episodes don’t stand alone very well when I show them to friends in an attempt to get them interested in Buffy–episodes like Tabula Rasa, Once More with Feeling, Pangs, and Him, for example. I have a feeling that this one would work and I intend to try it next time I’m attempting to convert someone!

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  22. [Note: ShellRoth posted this comment on August 2, 2010.]

    Just noticed some interesting foreshadowing of Xander and Cordelia’s relationship. He gives her his jacket to wear, which is very reminiscent of Angel giving Buffy his jacket way back in Season One (Teacher’s Pet). At that time a jealous Xander ridiculed Angel for giving Buffy his jacket on a “balmy night”, however here soldier guy Xander is as confident and suave as Angel.

    Love this episode!!

    Like

  23. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    This might just be my favorite Buffy episode ever. I know it has influenced me greatly (I only wear certain types of costumes on Halloween – and even other costume-y days – out of the superstition I might get turned into it). I’m even still noticing things about this episode every time I watch it. The “Everything’s switching! Insides to outsides” line Drusilla utters is true on so many levels.

    The characters weren’t just turned into their costumes, but were forced to reveal parts of their inner selves. Willow has a shy exterior but a take-charge interior, Xander has a goofy, loser exterior but a kick-ass, ruthless interior, and Buffy might be an action girl on the outside she’s very vulnerable inside. When the spell ends, the “switch” doesn’t completely go away. Just as Buffy and Xander can still remember what happened while possessed, they retain some of their inner qualities and integrate them into their exterior personae.

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  24. [Note: Elianne23 posted this comment on November 5, 2010.]

    The only real complaint I have about this episode is Buffy’s “accent” when she was changed into a belle

    from the 18th Century. Was it an attempt at a southern accent? British? It mystified me the first time

    I saw this episode, and it still does. Otherwise, one of my all time favourites, and the episode that got

    me hooked on BtVS in the first place.

    Like

  25. [Note: RebeccaAnn posted this comment on December 29, 2010.]

    Can’t believe you didn’t include;

    Oz – jeez you’re like a big cat

    Cordelia – that’s my outfit.

    in the ‘quotes’ section – that bit cracks me up everytime! Apart from that, as always amazing review, i got the boxset for christmas & i’ve been having a Buffy marathon since – whilst reading your reviews for each episode!

    Like

  26. [Note: John posted this comment on January 12, 2011.]

    Absolutely love this episode; Buffy’s “alternate universe”/”personality swap” episodes are always hilarious while adding a great amount of character development to the mix as well. Xander kicking ass was awesome and seeing Willow as the confident leader for the change was also delightful. Plus, seeing Willow get to wear something a bit more daring than the norm was very enjoyable. πŸ˜‰

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  27. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 18, 2011.]

    So many things to like about this episode:

    The humor is spot on – Giles’ reaction to Willow walking through the door cracks me up every single time I see it. And Cordelia pretty much has me in stitches throughout the whole episode.

    We get to see the first boost of Willow confidence. When she leaves her ghost costume on the ground at the end, I find myself saying “Go Willow”! Buffy’s support of Willow and her gently trying to get Willow to come out of her shell is sweet in this episode too.

    We have the introduction of Soldier Harris and there are many references to this later in the show which is awesome.

    There is the continued introduction of Oz to the show which is so well done that other shows should take note. We get to see some trademark Oz dry humor (i.e. “He’s just going by Devon now”) and we get more hints at the Willow/Oz relationship.

    We get a glimpse of how charasmatic Spike must be. I mean, within a short period of time, he manages to get together a little posse of the newly made monsters. He’s quite the leader.

    And finally we get to see the first sign that Giles is anything other than a stuffy librarian/watcher. He also gets to be a little badass as he is kicking Ethan’s ass. It’s kind of sexy. I can totally see why Willow had a crush on him.

    The only thing I didn’t like about the episode was that aristocrat Buffy was so annoying. I know that she was supposed to be meek and annoying but I seriously wanted to punch her in the face. Of course this is redeemed the moment the statue is broken and Buffy kicks Spike around a little. Plus I love how Angel reinforces that strong women are sexy.

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  28. [Note: SpikeFan posted this comment on May 8, 2011.]

    I think it is funny when Xander says, “its funny but beating up that pirate gave me a weird sense of closure” when in S7 it turns out that his costume is a pirate and then he’ll wear an eye patch after Caleb gouges out his. A bit of unconscious foreshadowing I guess.

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  29. [Note: Dana posted this comment on June 1, 2011.]

    Although I absolutley LOVE this episode, there are a few things that really bother me about it.

    1. Why does Willow’s ghost costume get left behind when she dies? Shouldn’t ALL of her clothing get left behind then? As a ghost, she should be wearing what she died in, right?

    2. Angel yell’s for ‘noble’ Buffy to get a stake!? How the heck did a vampire get in the house without being invited? Grrrr… don’t get this at all.

    3. How does Joyce not notice all of the breakage in her house? Ridiculous lol

    On a positive note, this episode is engaging, funny and has a smart plot. Also, super creepy foreshadowing: Giles telling Ethan he won’t kill him… meaning what? He’s not above killing someone or he has killed before? Dun dun dun!!! πŸ™‚

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  30. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on June 6, 2011.]

    I love it when Buffy says “Hi, Honey. I’m home.” ’cause then I remember End of Days:

    Spike: “Honey, you’re home.”

    Buffy: “Yeah.”

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  31. [Note: Mash posted this comment on June 10, 2011.]

    As Nina [comment #23] pointed out – this is indeed, one out of many episodes that features Buffy almost getting raped or some other form of sexual violence/threat.

    Nina’s list included; The Pack, Reptile Boy, Halloween, Go Fish, Bewitched Bothered & Bewildered, Phases, Anne, Helpless, Buffy v Dracula, Bargaining #2, Flooded, Seeing Red, Him, Empty Places

    I dont remember every single episode’s example right now, but I dont doubt it and there are probably many more.

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  32. [Note: nk posted this comment on July 21, 2011.]

    I guess it’s been implied, but I’m surprised no one’s mentioned how Giles having to reveal his darker side mirrors the costumes bringing out hidden aspects of the teens’ personalities. I think that’s one of the cleverest aspects of the episode.

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  33. [Note: keekey posted this comment on December 4, 2011.]

    This is one of my favorite episodes. One (very minor) quibble I have is Spike’s reaction to the helpless 1775-version of Buffy. In Fool for Love and Lies My Parents Told Me, it’s shown that Spike seeks out Slayers to kill and, in the case of Nikki Wood, even draws out the fight because he enjoys the challenge. He’s used to people cowering in terror from him (and he likes that too) but he really, really enjoys killing Slayers because they fight back. Even at the beginning of this episode, he’s shown salivating at his opposition research on Buffy and marveling at how resourceful she is. I would think that Spike would register at least a little bit of disappointment upon finding out that Buffy doesn’t even know she’s the Slayer when he finally has her cornered. Where’s the novelty in terrorizing a helpless noblewoman? He’s probably done that hundreds of times. I’ll chalk this up to the writers not knowing at this time where they were going with Spike’s character but it does end up seeming inconsistent with later episodes.

    Like

  34. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 11, 2011.]

    This has to my favourite Buffy season two episode that is stand alone. The plot in itself is somewhat simple. The gang become their costumes because some bad guy of the week makes it so. What i appreciate about this episode is the character exploration. The gang are wearing costumes that are extremely contrary to their regular personalities; WIllow is dressed skimpily, Xander is a solider and Buffy is a coward! The result? Character development. However when Buffy’s costume takes over her mind she looses her slayer power. To throw our trio out of the frying pan and into the fire Spike knows that Buffy is out there all weak. Dru saw it all in a vision.

    The plot allowed us to not only see the characters as opposites but it gives us some exploration into what they want to be; Buffy wants to be the type of girl that Angel likes; what they fear to be, WIllow is dead. Finally what they could be if they believed in themselves; Xander as a solider. Oh and ultimately who they are; Giles as he confronts Ethan.

    Where the gang are after this episode is palpable, Buffy and Angel talk and she has closure. Willow is confident enough for the time being to walk to the others without hiding under her BOO sheet and Xander begins to believe in himself. All of our characters are taking baby steps. Willow is really coming out of her shell and Xander too. He has always had guts he just doesn’t know how to follow though.

    Ethan’s creation into Buffy-verse although he can be considered as merely a plot device he does allow us to explore into Giles’ past, how did he become a watcher? Ethan opens a whole can of worms which is going to escalate out understanding of Giles in a few episodes (looking retrospectively). We know from this episode that he had or has a penchant for kicking Ethan’s backside and that he is a little indecorous! -Not a bad thing πŸ˜‰

    Cordelia really starts to have whimsical thoughts about Xander here too.

    Bottom line; Great episode, Buffy has been completely redeemed from SAR and Reptile Boy (although i never completely disliked them; Buffy is back on top!)

    Like

  35. [Note: Antoinette posted this comment on April 4, 2012.]

    i just noticed watching this episode again that xander didnt get his costume at ethans, just the toy gun. how would the gun turn him into a military guy?????

    Like

  36. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on March 12, 2013.]

    I was always a little disappointed after this that they couldn’t really work up the Giles is hiding something bit more than they did after this episode. He does at least become less of a chowderhead weakling than he was in S1, but I’d have liked to have seen a little more Ripper here and there. I suppose it would’ve been hard to do and still maintain the necessity of Buffy stepping up to each new challenge.

    Like

  37. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 25, 2013.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. In light of this, references to the old review have been edited out of the the above comments.

    Like

  38. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on July 25, 2013.]

    Hooray!!! Dazzling review of one of BTVS’s early gems. One thing that always strikes me, which you more or less state in your review, is that even though it doesn’t FEEL like a big episode in the way that many of the pivotal ones are (Innocence, e.g.), this actually is a huge episode for all the characters, even the minor ones, who aren’t named Buffy. Xander, Willow, and Giles all get tons of attention and are pushed forward in positive ways as a result of Ethan’s presence, and even Cordelia and Oz are ever so gently nudged into the Scoobies’ orbit.

    Thanks for your wonderful update.

    Like

  39. [Note: Waverley posted this comment on July 26, 2013.]

    I never thought before about Cordelia remaining the same reflecting the fact that she’s not hiding anything about herself. Very shrewd observation indeed.

    Like

  40. [Note: Silver posted this comment on August 6, 2013.]

    Woh thank you Mike for this review. And for all of them, for that matter. It’s quite impressive to see how your reviews and your way of analyzing the episodes have evolved.
    This episode is one of the few that I really like watching when I need a “buffy fix”. I’m really impressed how the characters grow up or learn about themselves. It’s almost flawless writing.
    I can’t wait to read your other new reviews when you get to it. Thank you for your hard work.

    Like

  41. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 6, 2013.]

    I’m equally amazed at the difference. I’ll probably be throwing away my old reviews somewhere into Season 4! :O

    Thanks for the comment!

    Like

  42. [Note: Monica posted this comment on August 24, 2013.]

    I actually very recently rewatched this episode and have more mixed feelings than I thought I would.

    What I do like is it’s interesting and fun. It’s a relatively light BtVS episode that’s still loaded with some pretty cool chunks of character development. I love Willow being confident enough to wear that sexy Halloween costume (that she looks absolutely gorgeous in! Her stomach is toned!), as well as Xander (and Willow) being portrayed in a more dominant way while Buffy reverses into a damsel in distress (still a feminist, just love switching it up!). I also am a fan of the way we get a small bit of insight on Giles’ past, leaving us wanting to know more; I definitely enjoy seeing more of BadBoyGiles. And lastly I was practically giddy at the lines between Cordelia and Angel. It’s just so great to see she and him meet and then see them grow as friends and more. Bonus points for Willow and Xander’s incorrect predictions on Cordy and Angel’s future relationship!

    But what I suppose I don’t like about it is it’s too light and silly for me to love it and think of it too highly. I think the plot is a little meh, and some scenes are just sort of corny and don’t hit the mark with me. I also don’t at all care for SMG’s accent here which is why I try getting around by just thinking the character Buffy can’t actually have an English accent so the nobelwoman-Buffy just speaks like a girl from California trying an English accent (which may only make sense to me?). Also, I don’t really get the actual reasoning for why Buffy thinks she has to look like she lives in the 1800s to be seen as attractive to Angel. Judging by his clear preference of her ahead of Drusilla I don’t really see why Buffy would think of her as visual competition.

    Oh but extra fun with the Oz moment and the “Ms. Calendar thinks you’re a babe!”

    Like

  43. [Note: danny posted this comment on December 15, 2013.]

    This is Definitely one of my favourite comedy episodes of Buffy which has great character development and foreshadowing and is overall just a really fun romp

    Like

  44. [Note: ML posted this comment on January 31, 2014.]

    Actually, they weren’t that wrong: Willow says Angel wouldn’t fall for Cordy’s act, but that was on season 2: Cordy improved a lot since then. And, Xander isn’t compeltely wrong as Cordy & Angel only get a shot once Buffy is out of the picture. Of course, he wasn’t lucky with Buffy not even with Angel out of the picture!

    Like

  45. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 3, 2014.]

    This is hands down one of my favorite Buffy stand alone episodes, I LOVE when the writers toy with both the characters AND the plotlines with fun twists like this. This is definitely a classic! I remember when I watched this for the first time and was so surprised about Giles being called ‘The Ripper’. One minor thing that bugs me is that if Giles is so capable of fighting and standing up for himself why did he get knocked out so easily in the episodes before this? Just wondering.

    Soldier Harris is just sexy, lol. I don’t blame Cordy for being a little attracted to that, if only Xander maintained that confidence… Willow kicked ass this episode! I love it when she takes charge of things and gains more confidence. I can’t believe nobody mentioned Cordelia’s quote,
    “A vampire. But he’s the cuddly kind. Like a care bear with fangs?” xD
    She says something like that and I couldn’t help but burst out laughing!
    This is definitely an underrated episode with lots of foreshadowing and one of the better offerings of Season 2 (although there are lots to come!).
    All in all, a great episode that has almost everything!

    Also, to the people who were complaining about how Angel got into the house? He’s already been invited in by Buffy in the past!

    Like

  46. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 11, 2014.]

    Lydia, it’s not how Angel gets into the house: it’s how the *other* vamp that Angel is attacking gets in. Just a random vamp.

    I speculate that said vamp is not, in fact, a vamp, but a transformed child who happened to be wearing something resembling a vampire costume, and which may thus be exempt from the usual vampire entry rules — in which case it’s a very good thing Buffy couldn’t find a stake, because killing that “vamp” would be murder.

    Awesome re-review. Lots and lots of connections I hadn’t made. That Giles and Willow saw inside-to-outside transformations was quite unclear. (This means that this is a sort of plot-preview of _Once More With Feeling_ — only with hidden character traits coming out rather than things the characters themselves were trying to conceal.)

    Like

  47. [Note: Con W posted this comment on July 7, 2014.]

    I thought it was a good episode, but “Fear, Itself” was a better Halloween special. Spike felt out of place here. His presence had nothing to do with the main plot. It seems like they just decided to add him to the mix just for the sake of it.

    Like

  48. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on February 22, 2015.]

    After the two previous episodes, this one was a relevant breath of fresh air. We got a lot of great character content, mostly in the way of personifying their insecurities. Indeed, this is the episode that tells the audience what each of these characters will struggle with throughout the rest of the series. Xander continues to be insecure to varying degrees throughout, Buffy continues to want to be “normal” or “more like other girls” albeit less and less as the series goes on, but its especially eye opening on the part of Willow. If no one else, she handles her insecurities much worse then anyone on the show, and that culminates into her eventual downfall at the hands of magic in Season 6. In regards to Willow specifically, it’s spectacular how well they gradually develop her need for power and self confidence. It makes Season 6, despite a few missteps, feel very believable and even felt inevitable long before it.

    Like

  49. [Note: elisem88 posted this comment on July 25, 2015.]

    This episode contains one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes, in which Buffy and Willow are obsessing over the drawing of the noblewoman in the watcher diaries and keep harping on her “beauty” despite it being nothing more than a rough sketch of a woman in a dress. It reminds me so much of that scene in Not Another Teen Movie where the Janey Briggs character shows the main guy/her love interest her artwork, a drawing of her mother depicted as a stick figure and he goes “you have her eyes.” It’s just so ridiculous that it cracks me up every time I watch it.

    Like

  50. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 4, 2015.]

    I do have to wonder if Willow’s non-ghost outfit fits into that Means Girls Halloween logic where you can get away with pretty much anything. Though even those costumes at least attempted to have some half-assed justfication. I’m not really sure what she would have said she was is she hadn’t backed out or the costume fiasco hadn’t happened.

    Like

  51. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on December 4, 2015.]

    I can’t say for certain what’s it like in Murica but here in the UK the Mean Girls definitely holds true, at least for 15-17 year olds.

    Like

  52. [Note: Unkinhead posted this comment on December 4, 2015.]

    Good point actually. From my experience in Murica there’s generally always an actual ‘character’ at play. Although in reality if someone were to wear that and not have any actual character of course they would “get away with it” lol. But you probably would have a lot of awkward conversations that start with “So who are you supposed to be?”

    Like

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