Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Buffy the Vampire Slayer classic recap: “Halloween” (S2E6)

In honor of the day, here's a BTVS recap. God, how I miss this television show.

We open in Pop’s Pumpkin Patch, two days before Halloween. The Slayer is fighting some nondescript vampire. Her hair up and she looks pretty style-y for a work night. Unbeknownst to her, she’s being videotaped by another vampire. Finally, she stakes her opponent with a signpost and the A/V vampire backs slowly away without confronting her.

Credits – everyone’s young and thin. Nerfherder rocks.

Angel waits for Buffy at the Bronze; Cordelia decides to take advantage of his down time. She looks great and Buffy agrees with my observation when she finally shows up, hay all through her sweaty hair. “Love the hair. It just screams street urchin,” snarks Cordelia. Buffy can’t deal and bails on her date with Angel, over his protests. She wishes she could be a girlie-girl with nail polish. Now, I’ve pretty much never seen Buffy without nail polish in all of seven seasons, so maybe she should pick something else to mope about.

At school the next day, Principal Snyder “volunteers” Buffy, Xander and Willow to escort grade schoolers on their trick-or-treating. Xander is so skinny! Snyder also says costumes are mandatory and the Scoobies slouch away, grumbling. Buffy was hoping for a night off as most evil lurking things think the humans’ Halloween is gauche, not a “big ol’ scare-a-palooza,” as Xander thought. When Xander goes for a soda, bully Larry picks a fight with him until Buffy slams the bigger boy into the soda machine, effectively saving Xander from a beating, but hurting his rep as a macho man. “Poor Xander,” sympathizes Willow, “Boys are so fragile.” The girls go on to discuss Buffy’s failed date: Willow is positive that Cordelia is not Angel’s type, but Buffy wishes she knew what his type was as she really knows next to nothing about him. They decide that stealing the Watcher Diaries from Giles is their best bet at reading up on Angel’s history; Buffy hilariously distracts Giles while Willow sneaks into his office. Buffy looks really pretty in this scene.

In the girls’ bathroom, Buffy and Willow read the Diary and find a sketch of a well-dressed noblewoman circa 1775 (i.e. when Angel was 18 and still human). “Being beautiful was sort of her job,” muses Willow. Buffy fantasizes about dressing up in gowns, and having servants, and horses, and more gowns. Just then, Cordelia comes in to freshen up her lipstick. She wants to know the scoop on Angel. They tell her he’s a vampire, and she scoffs: “The cuddly kind? Like a Care Bear with fangs?” She goes on to say that while Buffy is obviously trying to scare away the competition, it won’t work. “Buffy, you may be hot stuff when it comes to demonology or whatever, but when it comes to dating, I’m the slayer.” Buffy looks glum.

After school, Buffy and Willow shop for Halloween costumes in a new costume shop, Ethan’s. Willow picks out a ghost sheet and Buffy rolls her eyes: Halloween is for “come as you aren’t.” Willow shakes her head, insisting “Wild on me equals spaz.” Xander joins them with his toy gun purchase: he’s going to be a soldier since he’s already got the fatigues at home. When Buffy sees a gorgeous pink ball gown costume (“Too bulky,” says Xander, “I prefer my women in spandex.”), the shop owner helps her try it on. She’s enraptured by the thought of getting to be a frilly girlie-girl for a change.

At the factory, Spike (yay Spike!) and Drusilla watch the videotape of Buffy fighting. Spike notes that the Slayer is resourceful and is not to be underestimated. Dru gets a vision: some dark magic is going to change everything on Halloween, and it’s going to make Buffy weak. Spike is super-psyched even though he’s not that pleased about going out on Halloween. Cut back to the costume shop: the shop owner is in the back room, chanting, offering a sacrifice to a Chaos god. I’m thinking he’s the dark magic that’s going to cause some trouble.

It’s Halloween afternoon at the Summers house. Buffy looks lovely in her ball gown and fancy wig. Willow is dressed in a sexy Goth-ish outfit: leather miniskirt, midriff-baring top, tall boots, plenty of eye makeup. She looks completely hot and Buffy tells her so: “I can’t wait for the boys to go non-verbal when they see you!” Willow looks horrified. The doorbell rings and Buffy goes to answer it; when Xander sees her costume, he “completely renounce[s] spandex.” Willow joins them, under her ghost-sheet and Buffy just shakes her head. At school, the gang picks up their little kids. Cordelia is looking quite sexy in a kitty-cat unitard. She finds Oz (yay Oz!) and asks him where Devon is. Oz: “Cordelia. You look like a great big cat.” Cordelia: “That’s my costume.” As she sashays off, Oz rolls his eyes, muttering, “Why can’t I meet a nice girl like that?” He turns, and immediately runs smack into Willow in her ghost-sheet. They miss the obvious, apologize to each other and move on without a second look.

Everyone is out trick-or-treating just as the costume shop owner hits his stride. The Chaos statue’s eyes glow green, the wind rises and Hell breaks out all over Sunnydale (not the Hellmouth, just a general sort of Hell). Little kids in monster masks change into actual mini-demons. Xander staggers and when he turns around, his bearing is completely different and his gun is real. Willow faints; when she gets up, she phases through her ghost sheet to stand in her sexy outfit. Willow has an impressive six-pack tummy for a ghost! She runs to Soldier Xander, but he doesn’t know her any more and, when he moves to grab her arm, she phases through him as well. Being the smart one, Willow quickly figures out that everyone has turned into his or her costume. “We need to find Buffy!” she insists. Just then, the Slayer wanders up and, like a girlie-girl in a ball gown, faints at the sight of the marauding monsters.

When she comes to, Buffy thinks she’s really a noblewoman from 1775. Shrieking, she hides behind Xander as a car approaches, and he wonders if she’s insane. Willow explains to Xander that Buffy is from the past and has never seen a car. He ponders this, adding “And you’re a ghost. Just want you to know that I’m taking a lot on faith here.” Deciding to seek shelter, Willow takes them back to Buffy’s house – luckily Mrs. Summers is out. When Buffy finds photographs of herself, she gets upset, saying she doesn’t like this place, she doesn’t like Willow and she just wants to go home. Then she bursts into tears. Willow turns away, frustrated: “She couldn’t have dressed up like Xena?” Tell me there hasn’t been fan-fiction written about that!

Xander is guarding the door when he hears a girl screaming. He runs out to help and finds Cordelia being chased by a monster. After he brings her back to the house, Cordelia wants to know what’s going on. Willow explains: “Okay, your name is Cordelia, you’re not a cat, you’re in high school and we’re your friends. Well, sort of.” Cordelia snaps, “That’s nice, Willow, and you went mental when?” She is furious, her cat costume having been shredded, and complains that Party Town won’t give her her deposit back. Willow tells Cordelia that Buffy and Xander have a sort of amnesia and then heads out for more help, phasing through the wall instead of using the door. That would be so very fun. Outside, chaos is rampant. Spike is walking around in full vamp-face, grinning, “Well, this is just … neat!”

At the Summers home, Xander is barricading the windows when he finds a photo of himself with Buffy and Willow. He guesses that Willow must be right – they must have amnesia. Buffy is huffy: “I don’t know what that is but I’m sure I don’t have it. I bathe quite regularly.” Just then Angel walks in, glad to see them. “Who are you?” Buffy and Xander ask in unison. Cordelia brings him up to speed: “They don’t know who they are, everyone’s turned into a monster – it’s a whole big thing.” The lights go out and as the gang splits up to check things out, an invading vampire tries to grab Buffy (ahem - how did that vampire get in without an invitation?). Angel fights the other vampire but in doing so he slips into his own vamp-face. Buffy, not expecting that in the least, screams and runs out the door.

Giles is cross-referencing his card catalog at the school library when Willow phases through the wall, startling him. He’s very British about it. They try to do some research on the situation at hand, although Willow complains, “I don’t even know what I’m looking for. Plus, I can’t turn the page.” They talk it through until Willow realizes that they all got their costumes at the same place (Ethan’s) … except for Cordelia, who didn’t turn into her costume. Giles glowers meaningfully at Willow upon hearing the name “Ethan.”

The gang is searching for Buffy in some back alleys, Angel urging them to hurry since Buffy is unable to defend herself in this state. As they move past, Spike and his gang of demons step out of the shadows. Spike is thrilled at the news about the Slayer’s incapacity. It’s now a race as to who can find her first. Giles and Willow go to Ethan’s shop and discover the back room with its candles and spooky glowing statue. Ethan oozes out to meet them and Giles sends Willow away sternly. “Hello, Ethan,” he says. Ethan grins, “Hello, Ripper.” Ooh – that’s intriguing!

In the alley, a pirate (Larry the high school bully) is menacing Buffy until the gang rescues her. Xander knocks Pirate Larry out and notes, “It’s strange, but beating up that pirate gave me a weird sense of closure.” Willow catches up to the gang. She reports that Spike is on the hunt, and they all run for shelter, Angel swooping a fluttering Buffy into his arms. Back at the costume shop, we learn that Giles and Ethan are acquaintances from a long time ago. Giles chides himself for not recognizing this chaotic spell as something Ethan would orchestrate. Ethan scoffs, saying it’s no big deal, just an “embodiment of ‘be careful what you wish for.’” Giles shakes his head, saying the spell is brutal and is harming innocent people. Ethan insinuates that Giles may not be as much of a white-hat as he appears, noting that the Slayer and her friends must have no idea of Giles’s apparently sinister past. Giles has had about enough and starts to administer a serious beat-down. He’s a tweed-wearing badass - who would have thought it possible?

The Scoobies try to hide in a warehouse but Spike and his demon minions trap them. While the demons hold Angel and Xander back, Spike advances on Buffy who can do nothing but whimper and cry. Leering, he slaps her and, with his hands deep in her hair, bends her head back, his fangs bared. At the costume shop, Ethan can’t take any more pain and tells Giles that breaking the statue will break the spell. Giles throws the statue to the floor, shattering it. At the warehouse, Xander breaks free and lunges for his gun; he aims it at Spike, but it has turned back to a toy - the spell is gone. The little demons are no longer demons, but sobbing children yanking off their masks. Spike looks down: he’s holding a black wig and Buffy pops up, blonde again. “Hi, honey,” she chirps, “I’m home.” Not at all hampered by her ball gown, Buffy starts pounding on Spike, quipping, “It’s good to be me!” Finally, he’s had enough and takes off.

The Scoobies regroup but Willow is missing. She’s been teleported back to her ghost sheet across town. She thinks about putting it back on but changes her mind, and strides off home, head held high. As she crosses the street, Oz, driving his van, sees her. “Who is that girl?” he marvels. Just you wait, my friend. It’s going to be the love story of the century. Back at Buffy’s house, Angel asks Buffy why she thought he’d like her better dressed like that. He tells her that he hated the girls back in the 1700s, “simpering morons, the lot of them.” He likes her just the way she is. Aww. The next morning, Giles stops by Ethan’s shop. He finds it deserted, cleaned out. But Ethan has left a note: be seeing you. Excellent - recurrent evil is always fun!

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