Previously on Buffy, Xander and Anya spent an episode picking out china patterns, or something similarly dull; Xander felt ambivalent about it. The gang tried to shelter Dawn from reading, because we all know how bad that can be for teen-aged girls. Dawn skipped school last season in a Child Protective Services riff that went nowhere. This season, Willow tried to make Buffy angry and then wussed out when she actually succeeded. Spike said he knows Buffy will never love him. We can hope! What's with all the previouslys from last season? Just shows how a big fat nothing has happened this season so far.
Der Zauber Kasten. Decorated with Halloween swaggery and totally crowded. Ack! Having...bad...flashback. Bad flashback to the one Halloween I worked retail -- in a huge second-hand shop run by an insane tyrant. I had to dress up every day for, like, two weeks in advance, and I HATE dressing up in costume. Then on Halloween, and the day before, I sat and did nothing but ring up sales for eleven hours straight. There were lines out the back of the store and people yelling at me about tiny stains on second-hand scrubs (like anyone is going to care about a stain when you're wearing cop-out costume like "doctor") and my boss was this freak who usually only hired eighteen-year-olds with no high school diplomas who she could dominate completely, so I'm not sure how I even got a job there and I'm just remembering how we had to sweep the sidewalk in front of the store every day but we couldn't have a push broom to do so because that would have made us "lazy" and...how appropriate that an ad for Prozac just came on. Can I go lie down now? I'm exhausted.
Okay, so Anya, clad in a red shirt and red-and-white-striped dolphin shorts, zips by on roller skates as Xander, dressed as a pirate, does his best to entertain some skeptical children. They are not entertained. Because Xander? Not entertaining. His pirate imitation is more painful than losing your hand to a hungry crocodile. Dawn, who appears to be helping, asks Anya what she's dressed as. Anya claims to be an angel: "This is a special kind of Angel called a Charlie. We don't have wings. We just skate around with perfect hair fighting crime." Okay, heh. I laughed at that the first time I watched this episode. But not the second. At least it excuses Anya's over-processed, hot-rollered hair, so that's good. Dawn thinks Halloween is lame, but Anya's excited about playing a new game with Xander called "Shiver Me Timbers." Sigh. Tara sends Dawn away. Because God forbid a fifteen-year-old should know about sex. Anya inquires if Tara has ever played "Shiver Me Timbers," but Tara replies, "I'm not really much for the timber." I want my mommy. Elsewhere in the store, Willow is berating a customer dressed in a wicked witch costume. If that was supposed to be humor, it was lamer than my neighbor's three-legged dog. And one of the dog's remaining legs is in a cast, so you know that's pretty lame. Then Willow and Dawn get all gooey over a tiny little girl dressed as a witch. Except she's sort of a square little girl with a hoarse voice and at first I thought she was a Little Person, not a child, and I thought it was pretty repulsive the way Willow and Dawn were baby-talking to her and I got all excited that maybe the offended Little Person would be the nemesis of tonight and curse them all with pimples and bad first dates and...I just realized that what I'm doing here is avoiding having to recap the utter dullness that was this episode. Moving along. Dawn spots a medallion on one of the tables, and slips it into her pocket. I dunno -- after Buffy burning down gyms and getting expelled for murder, Dawn's petty thievery just fails to pack any dramatic oomph. Anya asks Buffy to check the basement for mandrake root.
Buffy clomps into the store's basement, grousing about last week's looping customer spell. At the bottom of the stairs, she bumps into Spike. She's startled, and tells him to get a bell for his neck. He might as well; he's been her lapdog for long enough. He's there to get some Burba weed. "Stir it in with the blood; makes it all hot and spicy." Tabasco, Spike. Look into it. Get a little celery and you could have a truly authentic Bloody Mary. Especially if the blood came from someone named Mary. Buffy wrinkles her nose and rolls her eyes until Spike admits that he was stealing the root. Heh heh. I said "root." She asks him for help locating the mandrake. He shows her and then murmurs, "Feel like a bit of the rough and tumble?" Buffy and I are both shocked. I mean, he had this tone and this look and hey, it was an honest mistake. At Buffy's surprised face, he clarifies that he meant patrolling. Nope, she's staying at the store. Spike shrugs. He had plans: "The Great Pumpkin is on in twenty." Buffy shakes her head. "So much easier to talk to when he wanted to kill me." And so much easier to watch, too.