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HALLOWEEN (ep 2.06)

(a.k.a. Willow the Friendly Ghost)

Written by: Carl Ellsworth
Directed by: Bruce Seth Green
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Seth Green as Oz
James Marsters as Spike
Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne
Juliet Landau as Drusilla
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
Co-Starring: Larry Bagby III as Larry
Abigail Gershman as Girl

Plot Summary

A spell caused Buffy, Willow, and Xander to become their Halloween costumes.

Plot Details

At what is probably a very sincere pumpkin patch, Buffy did battle with another creature of the night. After the stunt people had a chance to show off their abilities, Buffy staked the vampire with a sign post. Unknown to her, another vampire videotaped the entire fight. Buffy went from this kill to the Bronze, where she tardy for a date with Angel. She was not pleased to find Cordelia entertaining him. Between that and her being a bit messed up from her fight, she decided to leave immediately.

The next day, Principal Snyder was "volunteering" students to escort children as they went trick-or-treating. He especially sought Buffy out for this responsibility despite her claims that she was unable to hold a flashlight. Xander and Willow were dumb enough to watch and were also volunteered.

As Xander was doing battle with a soda machine, Larry decided to question Buffy's virtue. Despite being smaller than Larry, Xander stood up to him and defended her honor. Fortunately for Xander's physical well being but unfortunately for his social standing, Buffy came to the rescue. Xander—being more concerned with the latter than with the former—was fairly upset.

Buffy and Willow then discussed Buffy's aborted date with Angel. Buffy decided that she wanted to learn more about what Angel is like and eagerly embraced Willow's suggestion that they sneak a peek at Giles's Watcher Diaries. Buffy walked into what she though was an empty library, but Giles interrupted her before she could do anything incriminating. She then proceeded to distract Giles as Willow sneaked into the library and grabbed the diaries.

In the restroom, Buffy and Willow read through the diaries. Buffy was particularly taken with a drawing of a well-coifed woman in a fancy gown. Cordelia entered and noted how she had to keep Angel company after Buffy ran off. She expressed an interest in Angel's story but did not believe Buffy and Willow when they said that he was a vampire.

Willow wanted to get a ghost costume for Halloween, but Buffy tried to talk her out of it. She thought that Willow should try to dress in something more attention grabbing. Xander decided to just get a toy gun that he could pair with an army surplus uniform that he had at home. Buffy started to apologize for saving Xander from Larry but was distracted by a fancy gown. Even though it looked expensive, the shop owner (Ethan) promised to make a very attractive offer.

Spike reviewed the videotape of Buffy slaying a vampire. He was very impressed with her resourcefulness. Drusilla came in with a vision. Something was going to happen that would make Buffy weak. Spike was very excited.

Meanwhile, Ethan performed a ceremony at a shrine in the back of his store. The music indicated that he was up to no good.

At Buffy's house, Willow and Buffy tried on their costumes. Somehow, Buffy managed to get Willow to dress in a skimpy top and a leather miniskirt. Xander arrived and was very impressed with Buffy's gown. Buffy was hoping that Xander would see Willow in her skimpy outfit, but Willow got cold feet and put on her ghost costume.

Before taking the kids out, Principal Snyder expressly forbade Buffy from even speaking to her charges. Xander, who was apparently allowed to speak to his, gave them pointers on how to get extra candy.

Just before the children had to be returned to the school, Ethan cast his spell. One of Willow's charges turned into his monster costume and started to attack a woman who ran out of candy. Fortunately another of her charges turned into a monster as well and attacked the first monster. Willow was unable to intervene as she collapsed on the porch and "died." She rose as a ghost, but in her skimpy costume. Xander's toy gun dropped out of the camera frame. When he brought it back up, it was a real gun.

Willow ran to Xander, who did not recognize her. She had to keep him from shooting a monster that she surmised was still a little kid. She was relieved to find Buffy, until it became clear that Buffy had no memory of the last 220+ years.

Willow took charge and brought everyone to Buffy's house. They holed up for a little while, until Xander went out to rescue Cordelia, who was still herself. Willow had Xander stay to protect Buffy and Cordelia while she went for help. Soon after, Xander saw a picture of him, Willow, and Buffy and concluded that they must all know each other as Willow said. However, with no picture of Angel convenient, neither Buffy nor Xander recognized him when he checked up on them.

Willow was getting used to being a ghost and simply walked through a wall to get into the library. Giles was quite startled. Together, they figured out that everything was tied to Ethan's shop and went to investigate. Meanwhile, Angel and Buffy went to check the back door and found it ajar. A vampire in the pantry ambushed Buffy. Angel fought it, but went into vamp face, which scared Buffy out the door.

Spike was out on the town, clearly enjoying himself. He managed to find a couple of kids as minions and went to hunt Buffy down.

Willow and Giles discovered Ethan's shrine. Giles sent Willow away so he could confront Ethan alone. Giles made it very clear that Ethan's life would depend on reversing his spell.

Buffy ran into Larry, who turned into his pirate costume. Xander got some much needed catharsis by beating Larry up. Cordelia and Angel soon arrived, and Cordelia easily convinced Buffy that Angel was harmless. Willow soon arrived and warned them that Spike was approaching. Xander brought Buffy, Cordelia, and Willow to a warehouse, but Spike and his minions soon found them.

Angel and Xander were each restrained by a pair of minions while Spike went for Buffy. Xander managed to break free just as Ethan gave in and told Giles how to reverse the spell. Finding himself outnumbered with a bunch of scared kids as minions, Spike decided to flee.

Willow found herself back with her ghost costume. She decided to toss her ghost costume in the trash and walk away in her other outfit. Once again, she caught Oz's attention.

The next day, Giles investigated Ethan's shop. He found most of the inventory removed, but Ethan was kind enough to leave a note indicating that he was a fan of The Prisoner.

The Good

The scene where Buffy distracted Giles as Willow "borrows" the diaries was well-written, well-performed, and well-directed.

This is a nice character-development episode.

Ethan is an interesting villain.

Admittedly, the previous episodes this season make this one look better by comparison.

The Bad

Other than the character development, this episode was rather insubstantial.

Overall Rank: 64

Action: 8

Buffy fought a vampire in the teaser.

When Ethan's spell kicked in, kids in monster costumes attacked a lady who ran out of candy.

In Buffy's house, Xander had to scare off a monster that tried to enter and then had to rescue Cordelia. Later, a vampire ambushed Buffy.

Xander beat up Larry when Larry tried to attack Buffy.

Giles confronted Ethan and beat him up until Ethan told Giles how to reverse the spell.

When the spell was reversed, Buffy started to fight Spike. He wisely fled the scene.

Comedy: 4

Willow and Buffy carry out their heist of Giles's diaries.

Giles spilled his cards when he saw the scantily-clad Willow-ghost walk through the wall.

Drama: 1

Buffy worried that she might not be Angel's type.

Romance: 3

It appeared that Cordelia might have moved back to Devon. However, she still eyes Angel.

Buffy worried about whether Angel will like her better if she were different.

Buffy hoped that Willow will finally be noticed if she dressed more provocatively.

Character Development: 8

Giles has a history with Ethan. Apparently, Giles was a very different person in his youth, and Ethan believes that the Giles that we know is just an act. Ethan is probably not a trustworthy source, but Giles did show a more aggressive posture than we are used to seeing.

Willow was quick to take command when it became clear that nobody else knew what was going on. She came through when needed and managed to get past her usual insecurities.

Buffy is not convinced that she is Angel's type. She embraced Halloween as be what you are not day in part because she believed / feared that Angel would prefer her as she is not.

Cordelia remembered that she used to deliver insults rather than just being the brunt of them. She is still attracted to Angel and does not believe that he is a vampire.

Importance: 4

Most of this episode's importance comes from character development. We learn that Giles has some skeletons in his closet. We see that, in a crisis, Willow can be much stronger than she usually acts. Finally, one character will gain something from this episode's events that will be useful in the future.

Most Valuable Player: Ethan

Ethan gets the MVP for accomplishing his goal: spreading chaos in Sunnydale and ticking off Giles. He may have wanted it to go on a bit longer, and he probably did not want Giles to beat him up. However, he succeeded in what he set out to do. Giles gets strong consideration for putting an end to Ethan's scheme, and Willow gets a lot of consideration as well for her leadership abilities.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Willow

Willow and Giles fought for this award. Willow figured out that only costumes from Ethan's shop were involved. Giles figured out that Ethan was involved. Willow gets the prize this week.

Goat of the Week: Spike

Spike had the opportunity to add a third slayer to his kill list, but he blew it. Like most villains, he did not realize that he needs to kill the hero right away rather than talk and posture.

Random Commentary

This episode reminds me of "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date." Once again, Buffy decided that the way to impress someone was to be what she imagined that the other person wanted rather than to be herself. As I mentioned in my commentary for that episode, this strategy is doomed to fail. She will be wrong about what Angels wants, she will be seen as a phony, or she will succeed in attracting Angel, but he will be attracted to someone that is not her. In this case, she was wrong about what Angel wanted.


Suppose that you are a school principal and honestly believe that one of your students is irresponsible, aggressive, and dangerous. Would you entrust children in her care. A principal who cares about the safety of the children would want to ensure that this student is as far away from children as possible. This raises the question: Does Principal Snyder care about the safety of the children in the program, or does he realize that Buffy is not the person that he claims she is?

Many have wondered how a vampire managed to get into Buffy's house without an invitation. It is possible that it got an invitation from Buffy or her mother before that night. More likely, it was not a real vampire. Instead, it was someone who dressed as a vampire.

The spell did not affect everyone the same way. Willow remembered who she was, but the others did not. One character will retain something from the switch, but others will not. Some people think that this is an inconsistency. That is not true. Ethan worshipped chaos. He wanted to spread chaos throughout Sunnydale. Would a spell that affected every single person in exactly the same way be chaotic? These different effects are the point of the spell.

Memorable Quotes

"Gosh, I'd love to sign up, but I recently developed carpal tunnel syndrome and can tragically no longer hold a flashlight." Buffy

"How come Halloween is such a big yawner. Do the demons just hate how commercial it's become?" Buffy

"Miss Calendar said you were a babe." Buffy
"She said what?" Giles
"She said that you were a hunk of burning something or other. So, what do you think of that?" Buffy
"Um, I, I don't, uh, A burning hunk of what?" Giles
"Look, you know how disgusting it is to me to even contemplate you grown-ups having smoochies, but I think you should go for it." Buffy
"Buffy, I appreciate your interest, but..." Giles
"But I've overstepped my bounds. It's none of my business, you know. What was I thinking? My God! Shame, shame. I gotta go." Buffy
"Babe, I can live with that." Giles

"Oh, he's a vampire. Of course, but the cuddly kind, like a care bear with fangs." Cordelia

"Do you love my insides, the parts you can't see?" Drusilla
"Eyeballs to entrails." Spike

"Buffy, Lady of Buffdom, Duchess of Buffonia, I am in awe. I completely renounce spandex." Xander

"Is Mr. I'm so great I don't have to show up for my date or even call gonna be there?" Cordelia
"Yeah, he's just going by 'Devon' now." Oz
"Well, you can tell him that I don't care and that I didn't even mention it, and that I didn't even see you, so that's just fine." Cordelia
"So what do I tell him?" Oz
"Nothing, Jeez, get with the program." Cordelia

"OK, on sleazing extra candy, tears are key. Tears will normally get you the double-bagger. You can also try the old 'You missed me' routine, but it's risky. Only go there for chocolate, understood? OK, troops, let's move out." Xander

"She couldn't have dressed up like Xena?" Willow

"Big noise scare monster, remember?" Xander

"Your name is Cordelia, you're not a cat, and we're your friends, well, sort of." Willow
"That's nice, Willow, and you went mental when?" Cordelia

"I was brought up a proper lady. I wasn't meant to understand things. I'm just meant to look pretty. Then someone nice will marry me, possibly a baron." Buffy

"I'm a ghost." Willow
"Yes, but the ghost of what, exactly?" Giles
"This is nothing, you should see what Cordelia is wearing, a unitard with cat things, like ears and stuff." Willow

"Janus, a Roman mythical god." Giles
"What does this mean?" Willow
"Primarily, the division of self, male and female, light and dark..." Giles
"...chunky and creamy, oh no, sorry, that's peanut butter." Ethan

"The watcher, sniveling, tweed-clad guardian of the slayer and her kin?" Ethan

"Give it up, Cordy. You're never gonna get between those two. Believe me; I know." Xander

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Spoiler Questions

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This page was last modified on November 5, 2012