harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

FINALLY - A Buffy Review (Halloween)

BTVS: S2, E6


Written by: Carl Ellsworth
DIR: Bruce Seth Green

Blurb: After renting Halloween costumes from an unusual shop, Buffy and her friends literally begin turning into whatever costume they are wearing.

** Spoilers abound, of course ** I feel badly that I keep forgetting that note.

Scene 01: We start our episode in Pop's Pumpkin Patch. The camera pans down a sign counting down the days until the night itself, with only a few days left to go. We focus on a Jack O'Lantern, lit by candle.

Which promptly gets smashed by Buffy. She's fighting our favorite anonymous vampire lackey who returns over and over, despite his multiple stakings throughout the series.

They spar, with Buffy smashing him in the head with a gourd, before following it up with a whole pumpkin. She throws her stake, but he deflects with a scarecrow.

Scene 02: But, Buffy and the anonyvamp aren't the only ones in the patch. For Buffy is being recorded (in black & white... really?) by a videocam. It is a second henchvamp doing the filming. Buffy and anonyvamp go a few rounds before she manages to stake him using the pumpkin sale sign.

As Buffy walks away, henchvamp fades back into the night, carrying the film of her battle.

Insert Credits and Kick-ass Theme

Scene 03: We open the post-credits scene in The Bronze, which has been decked out for Halloween. Angel, who hasn't settled into his trademark black yet, looks appropriately out of place when Cordelia invites herself to sit down. He tells her he's waiting for Buffy, but since her date - Devon of Dingoes Ate My Baby - hasn't shown, she tells him how lucky he is.

Buffy comes in at this point. She spies Angel laughing it up with Cordelia.

Naturally, rather than go over and apologize for running late, she mopes.

Commentary: Also, apparently she's a wreck next to Cordelia - as signified by a single piece of straw in her hair. Uh-huh. We should all look so good after a knock-down, drag out with a vampire. Also, seeing Angel grinning and laughing (even fake-laugh with Cordelia's leather seat story) is so entirely out of who we come to know, that it is jarring, as Angel often is this early in the series. Can you tell I like my Angel full of man-pain? Even that shirt looks so out of character as to be an 'Ach, no!' moment on rewatch.

But, anyway, mopey & broody Buffy starts to leave, but Angel spots her and calls out to her. Cordelia wanders over next to point out Buffy's hair problem to make her feel extra craptastic. Angel tries to tell Buffy she looks fine and they should have their date, but she's out of the mood now busy feeling sorry for herself. She leaves anyway.

Scene 04: We skip forward to the following day, where Principal Snyder is in charge of the 'Volunteer Safety Program', in which high schoolers get a gaggle of little kids to lead through trick or treating for two hours. This doesn't seem like a big deal and an easy way to gain extra credit. But it apparently isn't popular, since Snyder has taken to a draft. Naturally, Buffy, Xander and Willow are pulled into providing their services the following afternoon for the kiddies...

Commentary: ...which creates a continuity gaff, but it's minor and easy to overlook. Anyway, I love Nicky in this short scene. Look at his smirky hah-Hah face. This is before he and Will get forced into 'volunteering' after Buffy.

Scene 05: Xan, Willow and Buffy are suddenly wearing different clothes so I think we're on the next day already (time starts getting wonky, again, as it does in many episodes).

Buffy complains that Halloween was the one night when she should have been duty-free and now she has to get dressed up to go out for Snyder's program.

Commentary: Okay, first - yes, the costume thing is a pain. But, whining about 2 hours out of your day right after school seems really petty. It's not like you can't veg out the entire rest of the evening! And - you deserve a little hardship, frankly, for what you're doing to my eyes with those pants, Buffy.

Anyway, Buffy explains that Halloween is the one night a year where the undead take a night off, according to Giles (although, apparently other mischief makers don't).

Scene 06: In the student lounge, Xander is fighting with the pop machine that ate his change. Larry, a football player for the school, expresses interest in going out with Buffy after checking on whether Xan and her are more than friends. Larry insults Buffy's virtue and Xander tries to defend her honor. He's about to get punched right there, when Buffy comes up from behind and grabs Larry's forearm. She slams him into the pop machine and tells him to get lost (and gets a diet coke from the machine).

Xander is less than pleased and complains that she just made him look cowardly, before storming off.

She tells Willow that she thinks she just violated the guy-code in a big way. Willow expresses that boys are so fragile. She turns conversation away from Xander's emotional trauma to focus on Buffy's date with Angel, which Buffy poo-poos.

Willow tells her it's too bad they can't sneak into Giles' personal files and read up on Angel to find out what he likes in a girl. Buffy and her smirk their way through why they just couldn't violate Giles' trust that way.

Commentary: I love this scene. I love the way that Aly and Sarah play off of one another whenever they have dialog scenes together alone. This is especially true when one of them is in deep emotional pain and when they're like this... where they're playful and light and cutesy together. The two actors make this simple scenes sparkle.

Scene 07: We cut from Buffy pointing out that sneaking a look at Giles' Watcher-files would be wrong, to the two conspirators peaking through the library door windows for signs of Giles.

Buffy sneaks in, with Willow's encouragement while she remains out in the hallway. She's on her way to Giles' office, when he calls out to her from the bookcase.

While Buffy extremely clumsily keeps Giles' attention, Willow sneaks into the office (reluctantly) to get Giles' diary that references Angel.

Commentary: Again, this scene is so wonderful for both showcasing Buffy's inability to lie and for her spotlighting the Giles/Jenny flirtatious relationship that everyone should adore. It's giggle-out-loud funny, especially Giles' reaction when Buffy tells him that Ms. Calendar reportedly called him a 'babe'. I grin through this whole thing everytime. And, the look Willow gives Buffy when she pulls out that sudden Ms. Calendar line always makes me laugh.

Alas, as with everything about Jenny Calendar it becomes poignantly bittersweet in retrospect.

Scene 08: In the school bathroom, Willow and Buffy look over the WATCHER diary. The woman from Angel's past is drawn on a page, though she isn't labeled (but it isn't hard to imagine - especially when we see Darla in flashbacks - that this is Angelus' sire). Buffy immediately feels inadequate next to a sketch, because she's all about the 'woe is me' this season.

Cordelia comes in to touch up her makeup and on seeing Buffy there does her best to make her jealous of her time spent with Angel after Buffy ran out. Willow and Buffy take this opportunity to out Angel to Cordelia, but she doesn't believe their 'carebear with fangs' revelation. She tells Buffy she thinks that she's just jealous because when it comes to dating, Buffy knows Cordy is the real slayer.

Back to mopey-Buffy.

Commentary: Who wears on my nerves, if you can't tell. Buffy being mopey before she has anything to be mopey about bugs me, even though I know the story logic of it. First, Buffy is in high school, so these things are IMPORTANT. But also, we're seeing here that Buffy can still afford to be wrapped up in her little dramas at this point because other than the Slayage, her life hasn't really changed that much. She's still in school, she's still worried about fashion and dating and spending time with her friends and doing all of the normal age-appropriate things. Except for The Master, who's now dead and gone, her life has been relatively impact free for spending so much time fighting the forces of darkness. This all changes with "Innocence" and especially with the outstanding, "Passion". Maybe its because she always looks like she has a makeup and hair artist, anyway, even after a vampire fight in a pumpkin patch.

Scene 09: Later that day, Buffy and Willow are in a costume shop. Buffy is disappointed in Willow's chosen costume of "sheet hides my whole body". She tries to get Wills to see that Halloween is about "come as your aren't" (I don't know why, but I love that line) and encourages her to be wild and free. But Will just explains that one her that would equal spaz.

Xan comes in with a dollar store gun. Buffy points out that isn't really a costume, but he explains that he has a pair of army surplus store fatigues at home (I love Nicky here too - note the line reading as he's explaining what he has at home - then his sudden cheer at labeling himself the $2 costume king. It's played off, but Nick gives Xander this subtext ... the poor kid of school who doesn't have the luxury of shopping on whims the way that Willow and Buffy obviously can with their more comfortable upbringings).

Buffy takes this time to apologize to Xan for insulting his manhood and promises that next time she'll allow him to be pummelled. They reconcile, but then Buffy wanders away in a pleased daze as she spots a costume that reminds her of the sketch in the diary about Angel.

The shopowner notes Buffy's interest and offers her a deal....

Commentary: Yes, yes, it's Ethan Rayne. We don't know who Ethan is at this point, though. Robin Sachs does such a wonderful job with this character though, that he very quickly becomes more enmeshed into the Buffyverse than his very limited exposure warrants and in rewatch, it surprised me that this is actually his first appearance and the first that we've ever heard of him.

Scene 10: At the Lair of Doom, Spike is watching the video of Buffy's fight with anonyvamp. Dru comes in with her wacky-doodle-ness. She's had a vision that on Halloween night the Slayer will be weak as everything switches....

Scene 11: Back at the costume shop, we see the kindly and generous shop keeper (yeah, it's hard to type that with a straight face) reveals himself to be a magician of some sort who casts a spell around a bust of Janus, a two faced god.

Scene 12: Later that afternoon, one would presume between school getting out and 4:00p when they have to take kids around... Buffy and Willow are in Buff's room. They're talking about Angel and Buffy is dolled up in her gown & wig. She plans on meeting Angel at the house since her mom will be out after trick-r-treating with the kids. Buffy finally, with a hint of exasperation, tells Willow to come out of the bathroom so she can see her.

Willow comes out dressed as... uh... hmmm. A party-girl? A hooker with a heart of gold? A music video hot-tramp?

Whichever, she's extremely uncomfortable with Buffy's chosen outfit and it clinging to her standby Ghost Sheet like a security blanket. When Xan arrives and Buffy goes to meet him at the front door, she looks even more ill at ease.

Commentary: This completely encapsulates their two characters, of course. Despite the harsh things Buffy faces, she has self-confidence and assuredness. Willow, on the other hand, even with the harsh things they've faced, is still the 'wallflower' who doesn't believe in herself and wants to stay out of the limelight of attention. It is with this episode though that Willow starts to break through those self-imposed, metaphorical chains around her ... and like everything, it will turn out to be a two-edged sword.

Scene 13: Xander comes in and he a Buffy share a few laughs. Buffy is all excited to present Willow, but she comes down completely hidden by the ghost sheet to Buffy's disappointed look.

Scene 14: We get general school scenes with Snyder bringing Buffy her group and telling her not to speak to them. Larry startling Xander and making fun of him for having Buffy as his bodyguard. And, Oz. Ah, cutey-Seth-Green. *Le Sigh*

Cordelia comes in and asks after Oz, who points out she's like a great big cat. She tells him its her costume.

Commentary: One can't help but wonder if Oz was commenting on how perfect a cat describes her personality, in his deadpan & lowkey way.

She's there to ask after and complain about Devon, who has apparently flaked on her in ways that weren't as cute as Kevin watching cartoons....

Cordelia rants at him about all of the things that he should tell Devon about how she doesn't care and in fact didn't even see him, so Oz has to clarify that her message is that he shouldn't say anything to Devon at all. She storms off. He turns and bumps into Willow-ghost.

They cutely 'sorry-sorry-sorry' their way around each other (Oh Oz-Willow ... Le Sigh).

Scene 15: Xander in the meantime has his kids and is giving them last minute orders on tactics: the give 'em a few tears for extras or the risky-only-to-be-used-for-chocolate "you missed me" ploy.

Commentary: Cute. So, so cute. I should hate it, but it's Nicky and ergo I wanna give him hugs instead.

Scene 16: Out on the streets of Sunnydale, the trick or treating is in swing.

Commentary: Which leads to the minor, but annoying, continuity issues. It is full on dark. At somewhere between 4pm and 6pm. In California - you know, where the sun fades in the west. I mean, really? No one wondered about this during all of the script development, discussions and walk throughs?

Buffy's group of kids has just returned from a house and Buffy smilingly asks what the lady gave her -- it was toothbrushes. Buffy sardonically says that she must be stopped & offers to take them to a few more houses so they can end the night on candy.

Scene 17: At Ethan's costume shop, he's muttering an incantation.

Scene 18: We skip back to Willow, who has her group of kids coming up to a house. They trick or treat.

Scene 19: Ethan wraps up his spellworks and out on the street, Buffy gets an odd look as a breeze sweeps by her.

Scene 20: Back with Willow's group, the old lady of the house tells them regretably that she's run out of candy. Two of our children are dressed as monsters and as we see one of our children mutate into a demony-goblin critter. The other monster grabs the old lady by the throat and starts to choke her out... well, really, she did tease them with that empty candy bucket.

Thankfully for old woman, the red monster grabs the green one, so the old lady can make her panicked escape back into her house and the two demon imps turn on each other instead. Willow yells at them to stop - but she's ignored.

As the two demon kids continue trying to throttle one another, Willow falls back in a swoon, apparently choking.

Scene 21: On the streets of Sunnydale, pandemonium has broken out as more children have turned into their costumes. We close in on Xander, who is looking mightly confused.

Scene 22: On the porch, Willow is panicking while the two goblin kids continue to tussle. She tells us that she can't breathe and then collapses.

Scene 23: Back with Xander, he jerks as if an electric prod touched him on the ass. He bends over at the waste a little, looking like he's going to join Willow in a faint. But, then he stands up looking better, except for his toy gun now becoming a real rifle. He starts swinging it around and lining up shots, though right now all he sees is panic in the streets.

Commentary: Okay, so this part might be a bit overly acted... just a little bit.

Scene 24: On the porch, Willow stands up ... but only her spirit! Because she was dressed as a BOO Ghost, she is now a ghost as befitting her costume. of course, much to her chagrin, she's the ghost of Buffy's makeover....

Scene 25: From the street, Willow hears the sound of rapid gunfire and intuits it's Xan. She rushes out to find him pointing his gun and waving it around. She confronts him, but he apparently doesn't have any memory of who she is.

As Willow is piecing together what has happened to them, she sees Buffy wandering around in a daze. She rushes over to her to find out what they're going to do. As Willow is trying to get an answer from her, one of the teen, vaguely cat-like demons that Xander scared off with his rifle comes back with an even taller demon. Xan tells the girls that they could have a situation. Willow asks Buffy what they should do... and the Slayer faints dead away!

Commentary: I'm sure you're with me on this... but remember Buffy has been dressed as a noblewoman. And, yes, technically this shouldn't affect her Slayerness since there isn't any reason that a noblewoman couldn't have been called as a Slayer (and in fact has in the Tales of the Slayer books). Also, Buffy's transformation is played broadly for laughs, so not only will she lose her Slayerness, but she'll also lose any semblance of self-reliance and intelligence. I don't mind this. It's a comedy episode and is meant to be played silly.

But, what I also do find something interesting happening here beyond the silly script, too. Buffy's whole complaint since WttH has been the responsibility that she has borne due to the Calling. So, in a meta-way, it absolutely makes sense that with her transformation, she WOULD lose her Slayer-powers ... that is what she believes she wants (and will believe until S3 more or less when her powers are stripped from her). She has also complained about having to be the tactician and having to worry about how to stop all of the evil ... suddenly, she doesn't have to think about anything important. I don't know if this much thought went into it, but it actually works very well even with the broad comedy aspect that the episode is focused on.

Scene 26: Xander shoots over the demons' heads and they flee again for the moment (And, I guess it's just lucky coincidence that Xan's bullets never actually hit anything -- anything -- ever -- with all of that shooting).

Willow tries to see to Buffy, but of course she can't touch her.

As Buffy comes around and Willow realizes that neither she nor Xander remember who Buffy is, she mutters, "Oh, this is fun" sarcastically.

Commentary: I Love this line. The way Aly delivers it is really funny, as is her line coming up about Buffy not having dressed as Xena. Willow gets some great asides to herself in this one.

Xan knocks out another demon threatening the newly-nobled Buffy and then she has a freak out over a car. Willow decides that they need to get inside to figure out what they're going to do to fix things.

Commentary: I LOVE Nicky again - his "Taking a lot of things on faith, here", especially that wide eyed side look he gives to Buffy after he finds out she's from the past and remembers Willow is a ghost is pretty amusing.

Scene 27: At Buffy's, she finds a picture of her, but won't believe when Willow tries to explain that it is her because of the "low apparel". A demon tries to break into the Summers' home, but Xan scare it away with his gun.

Commentary: And, not only does this automatic rifle not ever hit anything, it also doesn't eject any casings either. Which was awfully convenient of the spell.

From outside, they hear a definite Cordy-sounding screech and Xan rushes out to her rescue. Buffy gives a panicked, "Surely, he'll not desert us" and Willow -who has kind of had enough, already- can only respond with an exasperated, "Whatever".

Scene 28: Outside, Cordy is dressed in her cat-suit, but hasn't been changed into a cat-person. But, she's close enough for a giant 'dog faced boy' to chase after her anyway.

In the Summers' again, Willow finds that Cordy hasn't lost her memory and explains the shorthand on Xan and Buffy's issue.

Commentary: This time it's Cordelia who gets the great lines with, "What's that riff?" about Buffy's wanting a man to protect them.

Scene 29: Willow goes for Giles, while out on the street people are continuing to be chased by transformed folk. Spike is wandering outdoors with glee at the chaos.

Scene 30: Back at Buffy's, she gives Xander grief for taking orders from Willow -- a girl. He finds a photo of the three of them and starts finding it easier to buy that they may be having some sort of amnesia. Angel shows up (because Joyce apparently leaves the house with all of the door unlocked and they didn't close and lock them when they came in before *roll eyes*) and of course, they don't know who he is.

Scene 31: In the library, Giles is busy with his pasttime of re-sorting the card catalogues. The sounds of chaos drift through to him. Before he can decide if there is something odd that should be investigated (which, you'd think by now everyone would just default to "Yes" and be pleasantly surprised once in a while), Willow comes walking through the wall, giving him quite the scare.

Commentary: And now when I watch Willow as ghost, I can't help but be relieved that Sam & Dean aren't around to salt & burn her corpse on that porch ... I'm becoming a freaky fanboy for the merging of these 'verses, aren't I? I mean, the lines are blurring here thanks to so much fanfic crossing them over.

Anthony does a marvelous job with the speechless, bumbling, "I just pooped a little" reaction scene -- he's very funny in it.

So - Willow has to get Giles up to speed.

Scene 32: Back at Buffy's house, Angel also needs to be filled in, but he has to rely on the two participants who have no memory. Thankfully, Cordelia comes in from checking the rest of the house to make sure its secure (skipping the back door, apparently, because who'd check that) and cuts through the crap to bring Angel up to speed.

The lights go out and Buffy throws herself around Cordelia with fright. She pushes her off with a "Do you mind?".

Xan orders Buffy and Angel to check out the kitchen, while he and Cordy check the front of the house.

Scene 33: In the kitchen, a vampire takes Buffy by surprise and Angel wrestles it to the ground. He calls for a stake, but of course Buffy has no idea what that is.

Commentary: WAIT. A random vampire is in Buffy's kitchen pantry hiding out?!?! How the F* did it get in there without an invite?! Couldn't they have just had a demon of some sort do this and skip the stake -- it wasn't that good of a joke, really. Or, Angel could have exclaimed that the demon under him can only be killed like a vampire. Why did we disrupt the show's mythology for this scene? And now? We're left with wondering if everytime somebody casts a Chaos-Fun spell, if vampires are suddenly able to ignore the rules.

So - Angel calls for a stake, which Buffy has no clue about. He spins around, but he's gone vamp-face while wrestling around, so now Buffy screams and rushes out of the house and into the chaos of the Sunnydale night.

Scene 34: In the library, Willow is complaining that she doesn't even know what she's looking for in the book she's checking out... plus she can't turn the pages.

They have a very amusing conversation about what Willow is the ghost of, exactly, considering her risque (or her) outfit. But Willow deflects by telling Giles about Cordelia's bodyhugging catsuit. He asks if she actually turned into a cat, which Willow denies and then realizes that while she, Buffy and Xan have changed - Cordy didn't.

Willow then puts two and two together that only those who bought their outfits at Ethan's have changed.

Scene 35: Meanwhile, Buffy has gotten lost in the maze of alleyways that Sunnydale has made a cottage-industry out of.

Scene 36: Angel, Cordy and Xan have gone off after Buffy. Angel mentions that Buffy is helpless now, which Spike has overheard from his hiding place behind a tree. He's managed to recruit the little brats who are now demonic into finding the Slayer for him.

Commentary: I'm not sure about Spike's scene here continuity wise. For this time in the show's development, this moment passes by without an issue - but in retrospect, it feels like Spike just wouldn't want to kill the Slayer when she isn't. He seemed far too much into the battle of wills when he was killing the Chinese Slayer and Nikki Wood when we get to the flashback scenes of his battles with them. I wouldn't exactly call this out of character, but it does create a moment of ... disconnect... about Spike's place in the story.

Scene 37: In the alleyway - Buffy is menaced and chased by Larry the Pirate.

Scene 38: While, meantime, at Ethan's shop, Giles has arrived to investigate with Willow-Ghost. They find the statue and the ritual accoutrements of Ethan's spell, when the man himself comes out of the shadows, saying something not nearly as clever as the writers thought.

Giles orders Willow to leave, and it immediately apparent that Giles knows Ethan....

Commentary: And, yes, there is a massive continuity problem here. Unlike Supernatural-verse ghosts which all seem to have poltergeist powers, we've already seen that Willow can have no impact on anything around her. She is a presence, but is unable to affect physical objects (whether she could learn to do so, ala Patrick Swayze in GHOST, is unknown). So, imagine the shock when we here the shop door open and shut, despite the fact that Willow should have simply walked through it. Ooops.

After Willow's noisy exit, Ethan says a hello. But he doesn't greet our Watcher as 'Giles' or even 'Rupert'. He greets him with 'Ripper' ... which makes one immediately uneasy. Who is this man? How does he know Giles? Where did our Giles get a nickname like Ripper and why?

Scene 39: No time for those questions, though, as we have to check on our Title Character. She isn't doing so well.

Larry the Pirate has caught up with her and is getting ready to lean in for a gnarly-toothed kiss, when Xander tackles him with a mighty roar.

Commentary: Again, in retrospect this is all interesting when it comes to Larry: We don't know how long he's had Buffy menaced, and the obvious implication of his interaction with her is the subtext of an icky rape scene (and happily it doesn't go any further). But when we join them, he hasn't done more than push her against the wall and now is about to kiss her. Is this because: a) yanking at Buffy's dress would have been harmful to the generally dark-comedy tone of the episode - in other words, a practical and meta reason, b) because Larry isn't that sort of man at heart and it is influencing his pirate-persona enough that he isn't just a violent ruffian when it comes toward girls or c) and the most interesting interpretation... Larry the Pirate is as gay as Larry the Closeted Football Player and he simply doesn't know what to do with Pretty-Helpless-Buffy now that he's caught up with her.

I suspect A, of course. But I really like the in-universe explanation of B & C. I think it adds an interesting dimension to a very minor character who never becomes plot-specific, like Jonathon will.

Xan, in his soldier guise, punches out Larry and in a cute line mentions how fulfilling it seemed even though he doesn't know why....

In the meantime, Angel and Cordelia also run into the scene. Buffy panics at seeing Angel and collapses into a corner, irritating Cordy.

Buffy tells Cordelia (again) that Angel is a vampire, but again Cordelia doesn't believe her and Angel doesn't say anything. Cordy tells Buffy that it's okay because Angel is a good vampire (in a condescending way, letting us know that Cordy still isn't in on the truth). She tells Buffy that Angel would never hurt her (which, in retrospect is SUCH a lie).

Unfortunately for them, Spike and his recruited minions have found them, too....

Scene 40: In Rayne's shop, they're having their own confrontation. Ethan reveals very disturbing allusions to a Rupert who we don't know. A Giles who isn't just the bumbling and tweed-clad Watcher. Giles orders Ethan to break the spell and when he won't we see a suddenly very dark version of the Giles we know. He brutally punches Ethan in the gut without warning and then knees him in the face!

Scene 41: On the run, the rest of the gang take refuge in a warehouse (and relatively empty warehouses is also a Sunnydale cottage industry). Spike, Cat-Demon Girl, the children and an assortment of others break in, despite Xander's attempts to blockade them out....

Scene 42: On the ground in Ethan's shop, he taunts Giles that he claimed the Ripper was gone. Rupert asks Ethan how to stop the spell and when Ethan replies "Say pretty please", Giles kicks him in the abdomen hard.

Scene 43
: In the warehouse, Buffy is backing away in tears as the assorted demons have subdued Angel and the gang ... one would think excepting Willow, but she can't do anything.

Spike is taunting her.

He starts the villainous slooooooowwwwwwwly lean in thing.

Scene 44: Back at Ethan's, he gets another hard kick to the abdomen... hard enough that you'll notice he's got blood coming from his mouth. This is a Rupert Giles that we've not seen before, and are disturbed to see now.

Commentary: However, it is also a great development for this character. In a few scenes, everything that the audience thought they knew about Rupert is undone. And, we don't know what else will be left to uncover. Suddenly, it becomes clear that his bumbling was either largely an act or at the least an affectation and that we may be seeing the actual Giles, a Watcher that knows when and where to use brutality and has the complete willingness to do so for the Slayer.

Ethan finally has enough and reveals how to break his chaos-spell. Giles breaks the statue.

Scene 45: In the warehouse, Xan gets a few moments to shine when he starts kicking a little demon ass on his own (while strangely, Angel is again reduced in strength enough to be held by two rather lame minions).

Willow tells Xander that he can shoot Spike, but when he picked up his gun, the spell has been shattered. His rifle is suddenly the toy gun again.

In the meantime, the kids are crying that their scared in the background, which causes Spike to notice that something suddenly seems wrong.

Buffy has also been restored, and she kicks the crap out of him. Buffy tells him that it's good to be her, starting on her journey toward not whining so much about her Slayerhood.

(And, as we'll learn through Xander in future episodes, everyone retains memories of what happened during their costume switcheroo -- so those two kids are in desperate need of lifelong therapy.)

Scene 46: Back in Ethan's shop, Giles finds that he's managed to slip out from behind him.

Scene 47: At the warehouse, Spike takes off.

Angel asks after Buffy and then wander off. Cordy complains that it felt like she had been talking & her lips had been moving, but Xander tells her to give it up - she'll never get between Buffy and Angel.

They notice that Willow is missing....

Scene 48: Back on the old lady porch, Will rejoins her dead body. She pulls off her ghost sheet, relieved to be breathing again. She then gives it a second consideration and just starts to hide her midriff behind it, when instead she smiles to herself and ditches it.

Commentary: It's a sweet moment, when Willow's self-confidence increases because of her taking charge during the crisis. I like it.

But, naturally, all I can think about is the real-life consequences of death... Willow should have an extreme mess running down her legs. I hate my brain, sometimes.

Scene 49: Willow walks off confidently in her sexy-wear. On the street, Oz is in his van (which has a British steering wheel) and sees her in the headlights. It's obvious he is smitten with her.

Commentary: I think Oz & Willow are in running for the cutest couple of either BTVS or AtS. I think I still have to give it to Giles/Jenny, but that may only be because of the tragedy of it later. Still, Seth is an immediate charmer as Oz and it would have been so awesome if he'd come back in S7 to help out in the final battle against the First.

Scene 51: At Buffy's, she's in her room with Angel and they talk. She tells him that she wanted to be a real girl for him and he tells her that he hated the simpering and stupid women of his time. He tells her that he always wanted to meet someone interesting and exciting....

Commentary: Which, of course, will be revisited in a scene where we see how Angel became a vampire in flashback....

Scene 52: The following day, Giles returns to Ethan's shop, only to find it emptied out. A note has been left telling Giles that Ethan will be back, and we get a close up of Giles' face with a chilling and dangerous look....

The Good: I first want to give a shout out to the soundtrack on this one. I really liked the incidental music throughout the episode right from the first scene in the pumpkin patch.

I absolutely adore the cuteness between SMG and Aly in scene 5 when they're discussing breaking into the Watcher journal.

I also adore SMG and Anthony when she's distracting him so Willow can sneak the journal.

I just really dig the charm of this episode and the way that the actors handled it. In addition to the above, Nicky also has moments that just make me grin.

On the flip side, I also really like the undertones of darkness in this mostly comical episode and especially in Giles' past coming back for a visit. The sudden chill around his character was smartly introduced and in a stroke helped him to overcome the cartoonish-bumbler air that he carried over from Season One.

The Bad: Only some of continuity issues, which seem so clear and obvious that they rise to the level of 'irritant', because they shouldn't have happened. The full dark at 4pm for one. Willow opening and closing the shop door for the other.

Other Thoughts: I think the jumping around wrap-up scenes following everything returning to normal was a bit draggy, too. We didn't really need Angel/Buffy snuggles, we didn't really need Willow waking up on the porch or the walk in front of Oz - I mean they're nice little moments, but the story has ended (except for the last shot of Giles - I do think we needed that for our wrap up scene).

The Score: This is a fun episode, with just enough dark moments to keep it from being a piece of fluff. The hints that we may find out some things about Giles that we wish we hadn't gives this largely comedy effort a bit of depth that is wonderful. The actors do great comedy work and their chemistry as an ensemble really shines thanks to the script and direction.

Everyone should have a good time: 4.0 out of 5


Tags: buffy season 2 reviews

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