Saturday, 15 January 2011

Buffy: 2.6 'Halloween'

The Dutchess of Buffonia and Willow the (soon to be) Sexy Ghost

Writer: Carl Ellsworth
Director: Bruce Seth Green

What's the sitch?

It’s Halloween in Sunnydale. Surely a time to fear with all the monsters and whatnot? Apparently not. The real boogeymen think Halloween is tacky and always take the night off. This allows Buffy and her pals to dress up and go out trick or treating after they’ve been ‘volunteered’ by Principle Snyder to shepherd around groups of little kids as is the High School’s tradition. However a new bad guy has come to town and has cursed all the costumes from his shop so that the wearers will actually become what ever it is they are wearing. Buffy, thinking that Angel prefers old style 18th century noblewomen to 20th century teenage girls, dresses up as one. And as the curse takes hold she actually becomes one – complete with simpering attitude and fainting fits. Meanwhile Xander becomes a soldier and Willow, despite being helped to ‘hot up’ by Buffy, goes and dresses as a ghost - and so becomes a ghost. At the same time vampire Drusilla has a vision telling how the Slayer will become vulnerable on Halloween. This leads our old friend Spike to break the monsters-staying-in-on-Halloween rule as he takes his vamp buds out on the town hunting for some fresh Slayer blood.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

The theme here is all about identity and the roles we play in life. It’s about what we show to the world and what the world sees in us. Primarily it’s about our insecurities over who and what we are. The two main examples being Buffy and Willow. Feeling insecure over her relationship with Angel, Buffy is convinced after reading the Watcher Diaries that Angel prefers the whole 18th century noblewoman type. So when she sees a dress like that at the costume store she has to have it and thus adopts that identity for Halloween night. Literally as it turns out. She becomes a simpering, fainting, frightened girl. Whereas Willow, even though Buffy glams her up with a sexy outfit, is deeply insecure about being seen like that and insists on wearing her ghost costume over the top. But when the bad spell takes hold, ghost costumed Willow collapses revealing actual ghost Willow in her sexy outfit. And she literally steps out of herself and takes charge of the entire situation. She is also seen later by Oz as he drives past, saying yet again, “Who IS that girl?” Eventually, after the threat has passed, Buffy discovers Angel hated the women of the past and vastly prefers modern women – especially Buffy just as she is. Her insecurity was of her own making as was Willow’s who has now gained more confidence and will very soon be getting together with Oz

Who's giving us the wiggins this week?

Giles’s old mucker Ethan Rayne, countless little kids turned in to demons and Spike and his vamp mates.

Why it rocks

Now this is more like it.

Quite simply this episode is enormous fun. The story is neat and simple, the concept smart and clever, the themes strong and the writing helps to further the evolution of the characters.

Ethan Rayne. This is the first time we meet Giles’s old friend and now chaos worshipping sorcerer. Robin Sachs is fab in the role being suitably charismatic, smarmy and sly.

Ripper. This is the first time we hear of Giles's younger, darker alter ego. We will soon find out he got up to some pretty bad stuff in his youth and garnered quite the reputation hinted at here when Giles lashes out at Ethan and physically beats him in to submission. It’s quite a shock to see bookish, tweed-clad Giles suddenly turn in to a brutal, remorseless ass-kicker. And Tony Head is splendid at doing so and is clearly having a fine old time.

The entire cast is on fine form but Ally Hannigan as Willow steals the show. Her insular insecure Willow is so darn cute with her ghostly sexy Willow being even cuter.

Sarah's perfectly timed comedy faint as noblewoman Buffy. I laughed loudly. A perfect pratfall.

The cool opening Buffy vs. vampire smackdown in a pumpkin patch while another vamp secretly films the fight with a video camera.

Spike and Dru. Woo hoo!

Why it sucks

Ethan’s motivations are never explained. What exactly is he getting out of going to all the trouble of setting up a shop and buying stock and casting spells? And why would he come to Sunnydale where he must know Giles is and then call his shop Ethan’s? That’s just asking for trouble from old Ripper.

Angel’s age gets mixed up here with Willow saying he’s older than has already been established.

A vampire sneaks in to Buffy’s house. How? Not invited.

It's Buftastic

Giles’s startled reaction when sexy ghost Willow suddenly walks out of the wall in front of him. Very funny indeed.

Dialogue to die for

Willow: Oh, I don't get wild. Wild on me equals spaz.

Xander (seeing Buffy in her noblewoman costume): Private Harris reporting for... Buffy! Lady of Buffdom, Duchess of Buffonia, I am in awe! I completely renounce spandex!

Willow (exasperated over simpering Buffy): She couldn't have dressed up like Xena?

Giles (confused by sexy ghost-Willow after she appears to him): And your costume?
Willow: I’m a ghost.
Giles: Yes. Um, the ghost of what exactly?

And another thing

A much younger Robin Sachs starred as Heinrich the vampire acrobat in the 1971 Hammer horror film Vampire Circus.

Cordelia still doesn’t know that Angel is a vampire.

How many stakes?

No trick, just one big ol’ treat. 4 (out of 5)

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