Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | March 26, 2011

Robin’s Review: S2, E06 – Halloween

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.

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.



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