“I’m gonna do what any man would do about it: somethin’ damn manly” – Xander
Halloween has come to Sunnydale this week and while you might expect it to be a hotbed of supernatural activity, its actually the opposite it seems with Halloween seemingly being considered a holiday of sorts for the supernatural. This however doesn’t mean it’s an easy week for the Scoobies as this week they have to deal with a case of personality switching when they fall foul of their Halloween costumes changing their wearer into their costumed personas.
An interesting week in that not only are the character roles switched up, but we also have the first appearance of the possibly the most underused villain in the Buffyverse Ethan Rayne. A chaos worshipping wizard, Ethan also has the added edge of being a friend from Giles former badass life before he became a watcher which is once more hinted at here, with Ethan referring to him as “Ripper”. For some reason Ethan only appeared three times over the course of the series which always seemed like something of a shame. More so when he was always so much fun when he did appear thanks largely to a great performance by Robin Sachs who brings a real element of fun and mischief to the role which I guess is only fitting for a wizard of chaos.
This episode is equally fun for how it changes the roles up with Buffy being turned into the damsel in distress while Xander and Willow get to step up to play the hero role, with Xander’s costume turning him into a solider, while Willow’s turns her into a ghost though it’s still unclear what she was supposed to be going as with her first costume…risqué Willow? It’s never actually explained outside of Buffy’s intentions of getting Willow more noticed by making her dress sexier. At the same time we get a much more confident version of Willow when she becomes a ghost and has to take charge of the group, only minus any of the irritating qualities she would have when she gained this same level of confidence in the later seasons.
This week we also get some major movement in Buffy and Angel’s relationship who in this episode finally seem like more of a couple than they have in previous weeks with Buffy dressing up in an 18th century dress to try and impress Angel by dressing like the girls of his past, only for it to work a little too well thanks to Ethan’s magic. Of course Sarah Michelle Gellar really sells the role as she faints at the first sign of trouble and essentially gets to play the opposite of her usual self which was fun to see. The episode does end on a sweet moment between Buffy and Angel were he confesses to never liking those kinds of girls, preferring the more independent ladies like our heroine.
While it could have just been a fun throwaway episode the show would call back to this episode several times in later episodes as Xander’s military skills he gains in this episode are called upon, but even as a one off this one is a lot of fun and another unquestionably another classic.
Next Episode: Lie To Me