Halloween and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are two of my very favorite things. Buffy and Halloween combined? Heaven.
Given that the Buffyverse and Halloween overlap in all things demon-y, Halloween can be a special time for Buffy episodes. Not every season has a dedicated Halloween episode – I mean, what is Sunnydale if not a continuous creepfest, right? They hardly need Halloween as an excuse to get creepalicious. Also, the demon threat level runs low on Halloween, as only a rank amateur demon would partake in the Holiday. Maybe it’s too “meta” for the real demons to do Halloween. As Giles says, “Creatures of the night shy away from Halloween. They find it all much too crass.” So with the demons staying in, Buffy kind of gets Halloween off… Sort of. There are still a few Halloween episodes where some unique problems arise.
Season 2, Episode 6 “Halloween“
In “Halloween”, Season 2 Episode 6, the gang experiences a dystopian version of their fantasy selves when they buy costumes from that troublemaker Ethan Rayne’s costume shop. Ethan casts a spell over his merchandise and the costumes turn real. Monsters become monsters, dogs become dogs. Xander becomes a true soldier, Buffy an 18th century helpless courtisan lady, and Willow a slutty ghost (she had put a ghost sheet over the slutty outfit Buffy tried to make her wear). Chaos ensues, obviously, and the Slayer is helpless as frightened maiden. Xander and Willow shine, taking charge and saving the day with the help of Giles. When all is resolved, Buffy learns that she needs to be happy with who she is, Willow learns that she can be empowered even when showing off her midriff and Xander gets a chance to be the hot hero that he really is. They all tap into their true selves and learn. Moral of the story: Be careful what you wish for, but also learn from what you wish for. Episode highlights: Oz spotting Willow walking home in her skanky get up, and again saying, “Who is that girl?” and Xander calling Buffy “Duchess of Buffonia”.
Season 4, Episode 4, “Fear Itself”
The Scoobies go to a Halloween haunted house party in a frat house. Some darkness enters this episode unrelated to demons; it’s darkness in the form of human heartache. Being hurt and blown off by a guy (Grrr, Parker), family troubles (Buffy’s Dad used to take her trick or treating), loneliness (Buffy’s mom’s post divorce life), the general pressure to party and be cool in college, and the pressures of friendship. As far as the frat house, it turns into a real house of horrors when the frat brothers paint a symbol on the floor that summons Gachnar, the Dark Lord of Nightmares. Gachnar the Fear Demon manifests fears, and everything scary in the frat house turns – you guessed it – real. This includes the innermost fears of everyone in the house. Willow’s spell and indecision get out of control, Oz starts to turn wolf, Xander becomes invisible, and Buffy feels alone. Moral of the story: Your fears will creep up on you if you don’t address them, and that is your real worst enemy. As the episode title reminds us… There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Our fears are our demons. Episode highlights: Giles embracing Halloween in his sombrero costume and Anya dressing up as the ultimate scary thing (a bunny rabbit).
Season 6, Episode 6 “All the Way”
Boo. Dawn. Scary enough? TV’s most annoying little sister really throws a wrench into the gears of the Halloween machine in this one, of course. Dawn and her “bad girl” friend Janice pull the old ‘sleeping over at each other’s house’ ruse to go out and meet boys. This is my worst nightmare- Teenagers on Halloween. I can’t even tell you how afraid I was of teenagers smashing our pumpkins as I was growing up. I would beg my mom to keep our pumpkins inside! Anyway, long story short, the teenage boys turn out to be vamps. Sorry for the spoiler alert, but it is hardly a surprise. The surprise is that they don’t actually kill of Dawn given this opportunity. Oops, spoiler alert again. Can you tell Dawn and teenagers in general are my worst nightmare? Moral of the story: Being a teenager is scary, because teenagers are scary. Especially teenager boys are really monsters that want to suck your blood or get into your knickers. Episode highlights: Anya is ever so charming, Giles kicks ass, and Buffy is particularly funny as the irritated big sister.
So that’s that. Happy Halloween everyone!!!! There is no greater reason to celebrate than the ability to become something or someone else for a night. We all deserve to express ourselves and change ourselves freely, any day of the year. Halloween is a glorious day to celebrate this freedom, and to escape our every day selves. As Buffy says, the point of Halloween is “Come as you aren’t”. I believe that what you choose to be, what you think you “aren’t”, can give some insight into who you truly are. Hey, maybe you need to let your tough/sexy/innocent/sweet/scary/posh/sporty/baby side out to play a little more! Listen to your costume! As usual, I wish I were Buffy. Or maybe Drusilla.