It's Hallowe'en and the gang are helping out at the magic shop. Anya is on roller blades. She tells Dawn she's an angel, the kind called a Charlie. Xander is a a pirate. Anya says Xander said he would teach her a new game called 'shiver me timbers'. Tara says she's not a timber kind of gal. Willow is upset at all the ugly witches, but she's softened when she sees a cute little girl dressed up as a witch. Dawn steals a medallion. Anya asks Buffy to go to the basement and get some mandrake root. She meets Spike there. He's stealing some burba weed. She asks where the mandrake root is and he shows her. He asks if she'd like to come patrolling, but she says no. He goes to watch the Charlie Brown Hallowe'en special. Upstairs, Anya puts her on bagging duty. She suggests going on patrol, but Giles has her bag. Cut to an elderly and spooky man walking home while humming Pop Goes the Weasel. He looks out the window at the kids, then ominously takes out a couple of large knives.
The final customer has left and the gang are exhausted. Anya is thrilled, they've made a ton of money and she hopes to make more at the post holiday sale tomorrow. Giles says they have to clean up and Willow wants to use magic as in Fantasia, but he says no reminding her of how badly things turned out for Mickey. Anya is dancing with the money, her nightly ritual. Dawn dances with her and Xander whispers that he's going to marry her. At first Buffy thinks he means Dawn, then realizes what he's saying. He announces their engagement. Dawn and Tara are happy, the others shocked.
The gang go to Buffy's for a party. Anya shows off her ring. Willow uses magic to decorate the house and Tara doesn't think it was the right thing to do. They argue. Meanwhile, Buffy is hugging Xander. When Dawn and Willow come in, she asks what else happened while she was out of commission. Dawn says she got a tattoo and Buffy is irate. Willow says that's why they said no. Dawn says just a little one, but Buffy is adamant. Dawn says she's sleeping over at her friend Janice's. Buffy is reluctant to let her go, but does. Dawn meets Janice and we discover they have lied to Buffy and Janice's mom and are actually going out with a couple of boys.
They meet Zack (who Janice likes) and Justin (who Dawn has seen at parties) at the park. They go off and Zack and Justin engage in some Hallowe'en hooliganism. Dawn tells Janice she likes Justin and Justin tells Zack he likes Dawn. Janice wants to do something else, but Zack brings them to the house of the old man we saw earlier.
Xander is sitting, pondering what is happening to him. Giles sits next to him and asks if he and Anya have thought of buying a house. He says there's no rush, they have the rest of their lives to plan the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, the kids are looking at the house which belongs to crazy old man Kaltenbach. They are all a little afraid, but Dawn tries to impress them by going up on the porch and taking one of the pumpkins. But the old man comes out and catches her. He invites them all in. They discover there are toys in the house. He says he was a toy maker, but something happened and they took the toys from him. He calls Dawn Sally and asks her to help him in the kitchen, but Justin volunteers to go with him instead. The girls want to leave, but Zack wants to stay. Zack plays with the Jack in the Box, only they see it has no head. The old man picks up a large knife. Justin appears beside him. Justin is a vampire. He bites the old man. We see a pan with uncut squares in it that the man had taken the knife to cut. The kids hear the noise. Justin comes out and says he stole the old man's wallet and they run off. Zack asks Justin if they want to eat the girls or turn them.
Anya is explaining her plans. She is against a June wedding, because she recalls they had the highest request rate for vengeance. So she wants to get married as soon as possible because they're going to die and she wants to get as much done as she can before they do. She talks about planning the wedding, getting new cars, buying a house, and having babies. Rupert suggests his name for the babies and Anya laughs. She says she is really lucky because she found the one perfect person for her and it is working out. Xander and Buffy go out for air, both are overwhelmed. But Buffy tells him it is a good thing, that this is the way life is supposed to work out. But she says she wants to go on patrol and goes to get Spike. Xander goes back in.
Justin gives Dawn some of the money from the old man's wallet. She says she steals all the time. He sees she's cold and gives her his jacket. Zack steals a car. Buffy is wandering the streets, watching kids and happy couples. She sees an ambulance and follows it to the scene of the car theft where the driver is being taken away. She sees the vampire wound in her neck. Giles gets a call from Janice's mother. They realize what Dawn and Janice did. He tells the others and asks Xander and Anya to stay at the house and Tara and Willow to check downtown. He goes to Spike's to see if he can find Buffy.
The kids have parked and Janice and Zack walk off leaving Dawn and Justin in the car. Justin and Dawn kiss, her first. He tells her it was perfect and they kiss some more. Tara and Willow are at what I think is the Bronze because Willow thinks that's where a teenager would go. She wants to use magic to see if Dawn is in the club, but Tara is opposed to this. She uses magic to silence the club and they argue. An angry Tara walks off.
Justin and Dawn are still kissing. She touches his face and realizes he's a vampire. Buffy barges into Spike's crypt. She says they've got trouble and he asks if Giles found her. She says no and he explains about Dawn. She gets some weapons from his chest and tosses him a crossbow.
Giles is at the cemetery. He hears a scream and finds Janice being bitten by Zack. He saves her and destroys Zack. Dawn gets out of the car and Justin follows her. He almost bites her when Giles arrives. Giles is about to fight him, but suddenly a bunch of car lights come on and pairs of vampires come out. It's a vampire parking spot. Spike and Buffy arrive. Buffy is furious with Dawn for making out with a vampire and for going out with a boy she just met. They send home the one couple who are there to make out and start fighting with the rest. Dawn runs from Justin. He catches her and wrestles her to the ground. He's going to bite her, but she stakes him with a bolt from Spike's crossbow.
At the house, Buffy apologizes to Anya and Xander about curtailing their party. They leave with Anya talking about hiring male strippers for the bridal shower. Spike goes as well. Willow and Tara are still fighting and Tara goes to bed with Willow following. Giles comes in holding a bag of ice to his face. Dawn is upset and Giles says they can't ignore her behavior. Buffy says he's right and she's glad he's there to take care of it. She tells him not to be too hard on Dawn and rushes upstairs. He tells Dawn he's angry and disappointed. Upstairs, Willow is trying to talk to Tara who doesn't want to talk about it. Willow secretly casts a spell to make Tara forget all about the argument.
Willow is spiraling downward, Xander and Anya discover some life truths, Dawn is really growing up, and Buffy gives Giles more reason to leave. Plus we discover that there is a vampire generation gap. While this wasn't one of the great Buffy episodes, it definitely has stuff worth thinking about.
I've spoken a lot this season of the downward path Willow is on. It's interesting to note how this episode mirrored Willow's life to date. We saw small attempts at using magic. Simple spells with relatively little danger involved. But they keep growing more dangerous and Willow keeps ignoring the cautions others give her and simply getting angry at them. First, we have Willow wanting to use magic to clean the shop. Giles mentions how badly this turned out in The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Willow simply disregards this cautionary tale. She's no silly mouse. She uses magic to decorate the house and Tara points out that they could just have bought decorations. They argue, but Willow discounts Tara's arguments. Later, at the club, she wants to use magic to make everyone disappear to see if Dawn is there. Tara speaks out against this (and it's interesting to note that Willow uses magic to silence the club so she and Tara can speak) and Willow's response is to accuse her of ganging up with Giles against her. Finally, Willow uses magic to make Tara forget the argument.
We see here a movement from the manipulation of things, to the temporary manipulation of strangers, to the permanent alteration of someone close to her. The objects upon which she works her magic and the effects of the magic increase. And her response to criticism becomes more severe as well. She is critical of Giles' comment. She rejects Tara's logic. She is angry at Tara's complaint. And, finally, she opts to use magic to stop the criticism. Willow isn't just ignoring warnings, she's trying to stop people from giving them to her.
Willow has a substance abuse problem. If this were ER or NYPD Blue, she'd be taking cocaine or drinking. But it's Buffy, so she's addicted to magic. It started with the social use of magic. Then the occasional over indulgence. The sometimes big bender (like bringing Buffy from the dead). But, now, she's using all the time. She can't get through the day without magic. It's a crutch she uses constantly. Her friends try to intervene and she discounts everything they say. She claims her use isn't abuse. That she's not like the bad examples they cast up. That they are just attacking her, jealous of her success. That she's in control, on top of things, and they just don't understand. Like every addict, she can't be helped until she realizes she has a problem.
There is a wonderful moment near the beginning of this episode. Anya is dancing the dance of capitalist superiority and Xander looks at her. He sees a silly, incredibly happy, woman who takes a disturbing amount of pleasure in making money. A woman who loves him more than anything, even money. In that moment, he says what's in his heart, he says he's going to marry her. He jumps up and announces their engagement. When they kiss, Anya tosses money away, indicating that Xander is the most important thing in her life, more important than money. It's a moment of total happiness.
But it cannot and does not last. When Giles talks to Xander about buying a house, you can see Xander is shocked. He hasn't thought of all the life implications of being married. Like living together and going into deep debt together. Then Anya starts talking about the wedding, cars, a house, and babies and Xander is further discomforted. Then she talks about meeting the one perfect person and actually having it work out. At this point, we have to remember Buffy has met the perfect person for her, Angel, and it didn't work out although they thought it would. It's clear that this moment of rejoicing is the start of the fall. If things are too good to be true, they aren't. Anya is counting on them living their lives according to her plan and I'm betting that doesn't happen.
Well, it had to happen. Dawn is interested in boys. Boys her own age. She's sneaking out of the house to meet those boys. She's officially a teenager. She goes parking, has her first kiss, and almost gets killed by a vampire. Which proves my point that Buffy is the most moral show on tv. Nothing, not even a little harmless teenage make out session, goes unpunished. It's interesting that Buffy is as upset at Dawn parking with a strange boy as she is at her going out with a vampire. The mundane and the supernatural meet.
When Dawn wants to go to her friend Janice's, Buffy turns to Giles for advice. He says it's not up to him. When Buffy realizes she has to talk to Dawn about what she did, she leaves it for Giles to do. As long as he is there, she is going to turn to him for solutions. It's becoming increasingly clear he has to leave.
Buffy, Xander, Anya, Willow, Tara, and Dawn are all on the cusp of a great change. They are moving from one phase in their lives to another. Buffy has to become an adult and take on responsibilities. She has to be responsible for the house, for money, and for Dawn. Xander and Anya have to move from being single to being married. They have to go from a carefree life to one where you have to plan things - like buying houses and having babies. Willow and Tara are at a turning point in their relationship. Tara was the more experienced witch when she met Willow. She introduced her to a lot of magical concepts and took her into a magical world. But now Willow is going deeper into that world than Tara thinks is right. They've never faced so serious a conflict before. They have to work at resolving this issue or at dissolving their relationship. And Dawn has to go from little girl to woman. It was clear she was thinking of going farther than kissing when in the car with Justin. And that's another problem for Buffy to deal with. And, to some extent, Giles is involved in all of this. He's the father substitute for all of them. As long as he's there, he provides a security blanket which both helps and inhibits.
Some quick final thoughts. I liked Buffy's comment about the possibility of a time loop. It's always nice to see that the events of past episodes are not forgotten. Nice indirection with the old man who we are led to believe is up to no good and possibly was. But he's not even a minor villain. It's interesting that Giles and Tara exchange a glance when Willow creates the decorations. She may well be right about them ganging up on her. I notice that Buffy hurts Xander when she hugs him this week and she did the same to Giles when he returned in Flooded. When Giles talks about buying a house with Xander is he trying to talk him out of getting married? Giles asks if Anya and Xander will move in together. I thought they already were living together. Does he simply not know this? I loved Giles falling down in the cemetery. You've got to love Anya and her quest for muscular male strippers for the bridal shower. It was nice the way Tara stands beside Buffy and facing Willow to quietly show her anger at Willow. I liked Spike telling the other vampire he's an idiot. Just as Buffy is critical of Dawn for doing things she did as a teenager, Spike is angry at young vampires for doing things he did.
Lines of the week:
"I'm not really much for the timber." - Tara being honest.
"So much easier to talk to when he wanted to kill me." - Buffy possibly getting to the root of her problem with men.
"Post holiday clearance, the cornerstone of retail." - Anya on what they will all be doing tomorrow.
"The dance of capitalist superiority." - Anya on her cash register celebration.
"I'm gonna marry that girl." - Xander finally saying it.
"I thought you were waiting for the right moment"
"I did." - Xander letting Anya know how much he loves her.
"Is that why you're always cleaning your glasses? So you don't have to see what we're doing?" - Buffy penetrating Giles' deepest secret.
"Mist. Cemetery. Hallowe'en. Should end well." - Giles understanding the nature of horror films.
"I just wanna taste you." - Justin with a very vampirelike statement.
"I'm a rebel, you're an idiot." - Spike on the problems of today's youth.
"Still ruggedly handsome." - Giles on his face.Got a comment? Send me mail.
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