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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

57
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Episode 6 - Halloween

7 February 2013

Synopsis:The gang are forced to chaperone some trick-or-treating children on Halloween and costumes are mandatory. Buffy buys an 18th century style dress as it was what women of Angel's day wore while Xander goes for a cheap soldier outfit. Buffy convinces Willow to wear a revealing outfit but she puts on a ghost costume on top of it. The owner of the costume shop casts a spell which turns people into the character that they are wearing. He turns out to be Ethan Rayne an old friend of Giles'. Buffy and Xander don't know who they are anymore while the children morph into various demons. Giles breaks the spell just in time to stop Spike taking advantage of Buffy's vulnerable state.Willow in her ghost costume

The Good: This had a lot of good parts to it even if the overall story was lacking.

The revelation that Giles has a dark past of some kind is pretty interesting. I like the idea of Ethan being a wild card out there the same way that Spike is. Speaking of whom it was good to see him return and remind us that he is smarter than the average vampire. Not only does he study Buffy's tactics but he also runs away when he sees that the odds are against him.

Amongst the slayerettes there was more good character stuff. Buffy and Angel finally have their date and even get to end the episode acting like a real couple. Willow takes some more steps out of her shell as she is forced to assume a leadership role in the crisis. I really liked the way Buffy managed to get her to wear the revealing outfit but she couldn't bring herself to actually wear it out of the house. Oz popped up again to show off his dry wit and become more intrigued by Willow. I liked the idea that Xander would be humiliated by Buffy fighting his battles for him though that story wasn't allowed time to develop.

The Bad: However despite all the good moments this was not a good self contained episode.

You would think that the slayerettes all becoming their costumes would make for fun and funny scenes but instead it was pretty dull. There was so much going on that not much time could be spent on Willow's reaction to becoming a ghost (Giles' glorious shocked reaction notwithstanding) or questioning whether she really
had died. Xander turning into a soldier led to generic dialogue and nothing humorous for him to play with. Still that was better than Buffy whose 18th century noblewoman was atrocious. I would say the script was clichéd but actually it wasn't. Napoleonic noblewomen would never say things like "I wasn't meant to understand things. I'm just meant to look pretty and then someone nice will marry me." That is a modern satirical view of life back then and it sounded ridiculous coming from her. Although that line does make you wonder if Xander and Buffy were possessed by their costumes or kind of forced into a relentless improve session from their understanding of their own costume.

I think in general the gang never seemed in too much peril. Angel's presence made up for Buffy's vulnerable state and having Cordelia around to help out added to the sense that there were enough competent people around to keep everyone safe. It didn't help that Willow instantly warned Xander not to hurt the demons because they were actually children. That pretty much confirmed that no one was about to be seriously wounded or attacked in the noisy battles which always seemed to be just outside the window.

The Unknown:
The cause of all this trouble was not clear either. What did Ethan have to gain by creating havoc? Was it all just a game to taunt Giles with? If so why? The idea that Giles once led a more dangerous existence is interesting but it could also undermine certain things. For example, Giles gives Ethan a good kicking here. Yet last episode he was bumbling about trying to train Buffy with little apparent strength or coordination. There's only so much of an act one person can keep up.

Best Moment:
Buffy and Willow want to get their hands on Giles' Watcher books so that they can read up on Angel. As Willow sneaks into his office Buffy comes up with one elaborate conversation thread after another to distract him. Eventually she blurts out that Miss Calendar called him a "hunk of burning something or other." It was pretty funny and Buffy did a good job with the comedy.

The Bottom Line: Lots of good developments in a rather messy main story.

 

Cordia's Second Look
Halloween

Season 2, Episode 6
Original airing: October 27, 1997

My Rating: 66

The Good: This episode explicitly states its message: Be careful what you wish for. Buffy wants to be like the girls Angel knew when he was human, so she turns into a helpless and annoying noblewoman from 1775. Willow wants to hide so she becomes a ghost. And Xander wants to feel manly, so he turns into a soldier with a big gun. The metaphors aren't exactly complicated, but they are solid and they allowed for some nice humor. Willow gets to be snarky as the only one who realizes what's going on. She has several cute one-liners showing her exasperation with Xander and Buffy. And Xander finally gets to be the big man on campus with Buffy doing all the screaming and fainting. Role reversal is fun, but I'm glad it all went back to normal at the end.

We get a small introduction to Angel's pre-vampire days. We learn he didn't like his social class and was always hoping to meet an interesting girl. It took 200 years, but he finally got his wish.

We also get some lovely tidbits about Giles' history. Apparently, he wasn't always a bookworm with an affinity for tea and tweed. The scene where he's beating information out of Ethan is almost disturbing, as Giles is so calm and collected. He viciously kicks Ethan in the stomach while wiping blood of his hand with his kerchief. It's creepy. But a fascinating hook about Giles. We know nothing about his past except that he was slated to become a Watcher from the time he was ten years old. It seems that for a while at least, he deviated from this destiny and went by the name Ripper.

It was nice to see Spike back, even though he didn't have much to do. I loved how this episode displayed his opportunistic side. Children are turning into demons and the Slayer thinks she's a weak noblewoman? Alright! Let's kill her! Totally Spike. He just needs to learn what all villains need to learn: brag less and just kill her.

The Bad: Sarah Michelle Gellar's turn as a 1775 noblewoman was pretty poor. Perhaps she was written that way, but the part that distracted me was her terrible accent, which just sounded really fake. She didn't sound like a new person, she sounded like Buffy pretending to be someone else.

Ethan was a bit annoying as well. He's a lovely hook to Giles, but we never learn why he choose to come to Sunnydale and turn everyone into Halloween monsters. It's difficult to tell if he's surprised to see Giles or knew Giles was there. So it's hard to know if he did it to annoy Giles or for some other reason.

Rounding out the trio of disappointing characters was Oz. He has two scenes in this episode and one of them involves his favorite phrase, "Who is that girl?" Perhaps he was included to remind the viewers he exists, but he felt like a repeat. New material, please.

The Not Really Bad, But It Should Be Mentioned: On the episode as a whole, it suffered a bit from its reliance on the viewer being a fan. So much of the humor and drama of this episode is dependent on the audience being familiar with how these characters normally behave. The fact that everyone is acting abnormally is what creates the fun in seeing Buffy being helpless, Xander being tough, Willow taking control, and Giles being cruel. The episode is still enjoyable on its own, but it's only fully understandable by a fan.

This is a one-shot story with the potential for connections. At the end, nothing much has really changed because no one was there to hear Ethan's comments about Giles. So Giles is the only know who knows the connection exists, but he already knew. So the story easily exists by itself as fan-service without affecting the overall show.

Favorite Moment: As I mentioned in The Good, seeing Giles brutally and coolly beating Ethan was disturbing and creepy, but oh so interesting. I can't wait for this backstory to develop.

The Bottom Line: A very fun and funny episode which allowed the actors to play with their established characters. We had an intriguing introduction to some new information about Giles and a little snippet on Angel as well. And the reappearance of Spike will always be cause for celebration in my book.

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