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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 2, Episodes 5 & 6

May 3, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 2-5 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Oh no, Xander Sucks Again: A BtVS Retrospective: S2 Episodes 5-6


Episode 5

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

After having episodes 3 (great!) and 4 (terrible!) back to back, I have no idea what to expect from this show anymore. These two episodes could have quality levels of virtually anything, and I’d be like “Yeah, that makes sense, sure”. I’m very curious as to where we go in this pair.

The second season’s fifth episode kicks off with some cultists in cultist robes chasing a girl into a cemetery. I’d like to point out that she passes a tombstone, and the front of that headstone just reads “DAD” in very big letters. How does that happen? You just go to the tombstone shop and tell them “My dad died, and that is literally the only noteworthy thing about him”.

“What about his name?”


“What about the dates of his life?”

“Will that charge extra?”

“For the engraving? Yeah.”

“Just ‘DAD’ then.”

Anyway, the cultists catch her and take her away.

Meanwhile, back at the high school, Buffy is telling Willow about the sex dream she had with Angel, the third she has had in as many nights. Is this what girls talk about in the hallways of their high schools?

In the library, Giles accuses Buffy of being lazy and not paying much attention to her training or patrols. Buffy is back to lamenting that she wants to have a personal life but doesn’t seem to ever get to. I’d complain about this, but really? Spider-Man comics do/did this all the time, too. She’s just following her source material.

It turns out Cordelia is dating a college boy. A SENIOR college boy. God damn. I’m not sure who is more problematic here. No, I am. It’s the college guy.

College boy is in a frat, and his brother takes a shining to Buffy. Where Cordy’s boyfriend is a jerk, this other kid–Tom–is self-effacing and respectful. It’ll be a bigger surprise when he turns heel that way!

Buffy spends the night on patrol, and really? Who says “patrol” this much? The Tick, that’s who. In a better world, Buffy would have been cancelled mid-season one and the Patrick Warburton iteration of The Tick would have had seven seasons. “Would now be a good time for me to run out and perform a quick patrol of the area?”. God that show was amazing.

Anyway, Buffy finds a bracelet while out, and Angel tells her he can smell blood on it. They start talking about dating, and Angel brings up the age thing, THANK YOU. Buffy gets pissy, and for real, this is the lamest Will They / Won’t They in TV history.

Cordelia invites Buffy to a frat party, and she sells the offer by pointing out that she will drive! God, I love the Cordelia Drives subplot of this show. Hearing this, Xander says “Well, Cordelia is better for you than Angel”. He is getting great lines this season.

To the surprise of no one, the frat boys are the cultists! SHOCK! They have the girl still alive and chained in their frat house basement.

When Xander finds out that Buffy is going to meet Tom at the frat party, he goes full Season One Xander, just being a petulant asshole. He offers Buffy up to Giles to go on patrol instead of going to the frat party. Buffy lies to Giles that her mom is sick, so she can’t go out. Willow covers the lie for her.

Xander sneaks into the party looking all preppy so that he can keep an eye on Buffy. Oh yeah, this frat is full of dudes in SUITS AND TIES at their frat party. You know, just like many of the frat parties you attended in your youth!

(I’m not going to lie; I never went to a frat party. But this doesn’t FEEL authentic anyway)

He’s only there for a bit before he gets caught by the frat boys as an outsider and hauled away. Should have worn your tuxedo to blend in, X.

Buffy gets abandoned by Cordy, but Tom eventually saves her from a bigger frat boy. They dance for a spell and he romances her until she agrees to have a drink. Which is, of course, spiked. Okay, NOW it feels like an authentic frat party. She passes out in a room with an also unconscious Cordy.

At the library, Willow and Giles are doing their best detective work, and they figure out the bracelet belonged to a missing girl… and several other girls from the same school are missing. THERE IS ANOTHER NEARBY SCHOOL THAT IS HAVING AS MUCH MISFORTUNE AS SUNNYDALE? Is that why no one cares about any of these goings own from episode to episode? Does this school exist in a universe where hundreds of thousands of high school kids and teachers die across the country each year*? Is the EARTH a Hellmouth, I guess?

*Demons must have a really powerful lobby in this universe. Thoughts and prayers, Sunnydale!

Willow keeps misdirecting Giles from reaching out to “sick” Buffy, including getting Angel involved. When the clues start pointing to the fraternity, she cracks. In an unexpected moment, instead of wilting, Willow calls out Giles and Angel for being the reason Buffy lied and went to the party.

Cordy and Buffy wake up chained to a wall where Tom and the other bros say they are going to summon their god, Mikita. Like… Stan Mikita? Oh man, Buffy, I don’t know if you can outfight him! He’s a hockey player!

A final confrontation sees Buffy break her shackles to save Cordelia and herself while the rest of the team sneaks into the frat house and fights the frat boys. Mikita is not a Chicago Blackhawk, but instead, a big… snake guy. Buffy dispatches him effortlessly (there that is again) with one sword swipe, slashing his tail.

That’s a pretty weak snake god, guys.

They should have summoned Stan Mikita instead.

Giles apologizes to Buffy for pushing her too hard, and then Angel asks her out for coffee sometime. Everything’s coming up Buffy! Even if nothing here countered the age aspect Angel brought up earlier. Cordy’s boyfriend is downright saintlike compared to Angel in this regard.

Episode 6

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Hey, it’s time for a Halloween episode! My wife tells me this episode has some long-reaching legs. Let’s see what we get then.

Buffy is kicking a vamp’s ass in the pumpkin patch so we make sure and know right away that it is Halloween time. Hidden in the corn stocks (stocks? Stalks? Stolks?) is another vampire videotaping the fight. OH NO! The new big bad is Bill Belichick! Buffy, watch out for deflated stakes!

After the fight, she heads to the Bronze for a date with Angel. But Cordelia gets to him first. When Buffy finally makes it in, Angel is laughing at Cordy’s jokes. He approaches her, but she decides she looks foolish after her fight and leaves. Oh my god, guys. Will they or won’t they? WILL THEY OR WON’T THEY?

The Office took a lot of notes from Buffy The Vampire Slayer for this kind of storyline for Jim and Pam. The notes said “Don’t do any of this”.

At school the next day, Principal Snyder volunteers Buffy and her friends for the… thing where… high school students… take elementary kids out trick or treating? Is this… a thing? Why don’t the kids go with their parents? And why does this principal keep sending this girl he thinks is a criminal on important tasks? Look, if this guy turns out to be a good guy who is secretly pushing Buffy to be her best, I’m all for these shenanigans of his. But I’m also pretty sure that’s not true.

Some kid named Larry, YET ANOTHER bully in this school, approaches Xander and asks about Buffy’s relationship status. Xander brushes him off, and Larry is about to kick his ass… until Buffy interjects and chases Larry off. Xander is characteristically awful about this. He would rather get beat up than be saved by a girl and viewed as a “sissy”. Whoof. Classy, BTVS writers.

Willow and Buffy break into Giles’ office so they can read more on Angel’s history. Which I dig. I mean, these ARE still high school girls. So seeing them act all giddy about dishing on a guy one of them likes feels more genuine than… pretty much anything else they do. Buffy runs interference on Giles while Willow absconds with the book.

When they finally flip through, they see a picture of a noblewoman, and Buffy figures that is what Angel is into.

Cordelia comes up to the group later and DISCOVERS FOR THE FIRST TIME that Angel is a vampire? What? No. That can’t be right. Now I want to rewatch the last six or seven episodes here and see how much sense that makes. How could she possibly not have noticed this yet? That’s inconceivable to me. Also, on her way off camera, Cordy is a bitch to our team. Her characterization changes with the fucking wind. Buffy just saved her life–AGAIN–last episode.

Everyone goes costume shopping the next day. Xander buys a toy gun to go with some army surplus gear he has at home, and this kind of BARELY makes sense with the eventual plot of the episode, but here I am expecting good writing from this show again. Buffy sees a gown like a noblewoman would wear and is mesmerized by it. Is it an evil dress?! I sure hope so!

The shop owner is a creepy dude who offers to give Buffy the dress at a discount, so it certainly seems like the dress is cursed or haunted or something. Why else would the shop owner want to get rid of it so easily instead of letting Buffy buy something else. WHY, EPISODE? WHY WOULD THAT BE?

Underground, SpikeGate is watching his sneaky film on Buffy, and I joke, but this is just good scouting. Drusilla wanders in to purr some dialogue about having a vision of the Slayer being made weak in a day.

Creepy Shop Owner Guy, who I guess is named Ethan, is praying to some weird bust of, like, Zeus or something.

With Buffy having put the kibosh on Willow going with a silly ghost costume, we see the latter dressed up as… a sex worker instead? This isn’t a costume; this is just the show going “Hey, we have completely ignored how gorgeous Allyson Hannigan is by dorking her up for two season. Her you go!”. And Hannigan has some fucking ABS. She is putting in the work. Willow as a character obviously hates it, though, and puts her ghost costume back on before anyone but Buffy can see her.

Wait, Seth Green goes to this school now? Wasn’t he just a member of one of the many passing-through bands that play at The Bronze a few episodes go? Now he’s getting things out of a locker and going to class? What the hell did I miss? We also see Cordy in the least sexual Sexy Cat costume you have ever seen. It’s basically just a Cat costume, honestly.

During the evening’s trick or treat–and wait, the Principal said trick or treating started at 4, and ended at 6. But it’s full-on nighttime out during this part of the episode. What time does the sun set in this world?

Hold on.


So this episode takes place on Halloween day in (presumably) 1997 (the year it aired).

In 1997, Daylight Savings Time ended on 10/26. That feels early to me (isn’t it usually November?), but it’s what Google tells me.

So it’s not unheard of it could be dark by this time, I guess. Still seems early, but… early in a plausible way.

Okay, show! You got me on that one. The score is now You: 1, Me: A hundred. So calm down.

ANYWAY, during trick or treating, we see our nefarious villain ETHAN casting a spell and praying to his Zeus statue. When he does so, the children who are dressed as monsters turn into monsters and maul an old lady! Ha! Fantastic! A genuinely fun moment I did not see coming because EVERY OTHER CLUE POINTED TO A CURSED DRESS. But whatever. Monster children are fun, too.

Willow falls down and turns into a ghost, which allows her to float out of her costume and reveal she has her sex worker clothes on underneath. This episode knew we were here for hot ass Allyson Hannigan and delivers after all! Xander, who already had his costume at home AND THIS WILL AGAIN BE IMPORTANT SOON, starts thinking he is a soldier. Buffy sees the monster children and faints because she, of course, is an old timey noblewoman.

Buffy and Xander completely forget who they are because of the spell and adopt new personas, but Willow is just… Willow as a ghost. So why isn’t Xander just Xander as a soldier? Like, okay, Buffy has a costume from another era, so I’ll buy(-ish) that she can’t recall the modern world and people in it, but the Willow/Xander discrepancy makes no sense.

Cordelia, who bought her costume from another store is not affected. Neither is Angel, who isn’t wearing one. Remember how Xander’s costume was stuff he had at home already? So is he brainwashed just because of his toy gun? That’s flimsy, show, and you know it!

Everyone holes up in Buffy’s house and plays fun “Wait, who are you and how do you know me?” games. A vampire lunges at the group from Buffy’s basement and EXCUSE ME, SHOW, BUT YOU HAVE ESTABLISHED YOUR OWN RULES. Who invited that vampire into the home?

The stupid part is, the episode already had a way to get them out of the house: Buffy sees Angel vamp out and runs away in terror. You didn’t need to ignore the rules of your own universe here for a jump scare.

Giles heads to Ethan’s shop, and we see that they have a bit of history. Ethan calls Giles “Ripper”, and implies he might not be the spotless hero we have been led to believe so far. Hmm! Anyway, Giles kicks his ass and busts his Zeus statue. Easy Peasy.

As the statue breaks, everyone comes to their senses in time for Buffy to fight off Spike and send him packing back to Gilette Stadium. I bet Spike totally cheated when he killed those two other slayers we heard about. They should have asterisks in the record book. Meanwhile, the notorious Ethan escapes from Giles.

Oz, who is inexplicably driving a car with the steering wheel on the right side (this episode makes me feel like I’m drunk or something) sees Willow and wonders “who is that girl?” despite the fact that HE APPARENTLY GOES TO THEIR SCHOOL. Did he kill a kid and is just assuming his identity? Come on!

The episode ends with the Halloween shop cleared out and Buffy and Angel Will They-ing by making out.

Episode five was a nothing burger. Just an average episode of this show and its formula. But by god, that Halloween episode. It’s got a ton of nice flourishes, a solid plot, some entertaining moments, and good character development.

It also has absolutely the most nonsensical writing and bizarre disdain for continuity that we have seen yet. And that’s saying something!

I have no idea what I just watched. Or what I’ll watch next time!

Until then… take care!