Halloween
Written by: Carl Ellsworth
Directed by: Bruce Seth Green
Air Date: October 27, 1997

What a genuinely fun episode. This is by and far the funniest, most entertaining episode of the show, yet. Little in the way of character development, little in the way of action, but high on laughs, gags, and tomfoolery to make any fan of the show – or Halloween episodes of shows – smile and clap their hands. I laughed out loud many times rewatching this episode tonight, an episode I knew I liked but apparently I didn’t remember how much. And while I did say there was little in the way of character development, that isn’t to say that it isn’t there for some of these characters, but we’ll get to that in a second.

First and foremost, the plot device: a magical costume store transforms the owners of its apparel into the things they dress up as. That’s it. That’s the premise. And, as Spike himself says, it is “neat” as all hell. Buffy makes some comment that Halloween is a “come as you aren’t” situation, allowing people to be the things they really want to be, but can’t for whatever reason. For Buffy, its a noble woman from Angel’s time period, for Xander its a macho military dude who is unflinchingly tough, and for Willow its a sexy chick with a midriff, or it would be if she wasn’t so damned self-conscious. Her ghost costume covers her up for a bit, but by the time she’s a real ghost, everything goes off and she’s running around – and through – town in a slinky ensemble (pulled from Buffy’s closet, it seems?). Its a nice chance for these characters to play opposite themselves, particularly Buffy who faints immediately upon seeing things like tiny child-demons. She plays the shock of it all very well, once again letting her eyes do most of the acting. Check her expression when Willow walks through a wall. You’ll see it.

The episode is full of laughs, as I mentioned. For the most part, every line out of Seth Green’s Oz’s mouth is a goldmine, with his opening words to Cordelia – regarding her catsuit – being the best line in the episode: “its like you’re a big cat”. But aside from this, we get a ton of other great laughs, like Buffy saying – in character – that she is meant to look pretty and marry someone rich… like a baron. Also, while not a line, the reaction Giles has to seeing Willow walk through a wall is twice as funny and perfect as Buffy’s, so much so that I had to rewind the two-second clip and watch it again for another round of laughs. Also funny? Cordelia stating that she’s the “Slayer of dating” — and the fact that this clearly horrifies Buffy to some degree is equally comical.

The best parts of this episode, though, are the things that tie the season together a bit. Some of them, namely Xander’s now imbedded knowledge of military information and tactics, won’t be brought up for quite some time, but the introduction of Ethan Rayne, the showcasing of Drusilla’s ability to predict or see the future, and the first true hinting at Giles’ dark past as “Ripper” are all noteworthy and welcome additions to the show. It begins to form, for me at least, the idea that Joss Whedon knew what he was doing in so far as creating a season-long arc and then letting his crack team of writers fill in the gaps. Here, we get to see little bits dropped in to an otherwise mostly removed narrative that keep everything tied together without having it be a by-the-numbers run toward a finale from the get-go.

There are some other amusing things to note upon, here, predominately all the talk that Angel is a nice vampire and anything related to he and Cordelia hooking up. I know it wasn’t planned at the time, but its comical to see all the wasted attempts Cordelia makes at getting into Angel’s pants and how everyone assumes he’d have nothing to do with her, especially when you know what happens in his spinoff series, years later. Its bears no relevance unto the episode itself, but as far as a retrospective series of reviews like his site produces goes, its a comical and insightful hint at things to come for two characters that are no where near the complexity they’ll achieve later on.

That being said, this is a strong episode and easily one of my new favorites, and the funniest one I’ve seen on this rewatch tour. I’m a huge Spike & Dru fan (not the comics, apparently) so any time these two characters get to be on screen together is a good chance for awesome scenes. They don’t share much screen time, here, but their time is coming and when it gets here, it does so in a big way. If I have less time to spend with them and more time to spend with entertaining and well-written mini-arcs like this one, I’m sure I’ll somehow manage to survive.

Episode Rating: 93

Additional Observations:
-Second best line of the episode? Xander: “Beating up that pirate gave me a strange sense of closure”
-Angel’s admitted desire to meet a woman that can bring him excitement is
exactly what got him turned into a vampire in the first place
-Giles kicked all kinds of ass. Well, maybe not all kinds… just the Ethan Rayne kind
-Willow is becoming more and more confident and empowered
-I love Snyder’s list of delinquent behavior: egging houses, keying cars, and… bobbing for apples…?
-With Buffy’s mom out of the house, Buffy in her PJ’s, and Angel in her bedroom, on her bed… how far did things go
that night?
-Sorry if the above observation is gross. But I assume they at least made out. Did he…. no, no nevermind… oh god… I’m a monster…

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