"Fear, Itself"
Written by David Fury; directed by Tucker Gates

Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Oz carve pumpkins in Xander’s basement, Xander complaining that his hasn’t turned out the way he wanted it to. Buffy is down because of what happened with Parker (see “The Harsh Light of Day”) and is only there for the company. Xander reveals that he’s rented a movie for the next night, Halloween, but he’s accidentally rented Fantasia instead of Phantasm. Xander’s feeling left out of the college scene, so the others invite him to a Halloween party at a frat house. Buffy goes home early and the others express the universal wish to smack Parker. On her way home, Buffy runs into a guy who she thinks is a demon but who turns out to be a human preparing for Halloween. The next day, she and Willow chat in the cafeteria about Willow’s progress with magic and her desire to do more. Oz arrives and cautions Willow not to do too much, saying that he knows what it’s like to have a lot of power and lose control of it. Buffy spots Parker and leaves, telling Willow that she might patrol instead of going to the party.

Buffy goes to Giles’ apartment, where he’s dressed up in a serape and sombrero and has a toy Frankenstein’s monster hanging from the ceiling. She tells him that she thinks she should patrol that night, but he talks her out of it. At the Alpha Delta frat house, two guys complain about their lame sound system and decide to call Oz for a boost. One of them reveals a symbol that they want to paint on the floor of the attic. Anya pays another visit to Xander’s basement, mentioning that he hasn’t called her since they had sex (again, see “The Harsh Light of Day”). He reminds her that she said she was over him, but she said that she only told him that because she thought it was wanted he wanted to hear. She suggests that they do something for their anniversary (“it’s been exactly one week since we copulated”) and he tells her that he’s going out with Buffy, Willow, and Oz. Anya wonders why he spends time with people he has nothing in common with, then accepts his invitation to the party. He tells her to find a scary costume.

Buffy goes to pick up an assignment from Professor Walsh, having skipped class that day. Professor Walsh criticizes her for not having her priorities in order and warns her not to miss another class for personal reasons. Riley tells Buffy to go out and have fun for Halloween and she thanks him for his pep-talk. Xander and Oz bring an amp to the Alpha Delta house, where a frat guy is painting a symbol on the floor. Xander is embarrassed when Oz tells the frat guys that Xander is a “townie” and doesn’t go to UC Sunnydale. Oz tries to fix a wire with a knife and accidentally cuts himself. His blood drips onto the symbol on the floor, causing it to ripple. A plastic spider on the symbol turns into a real tarantula and scampers away.

Joyce alters a red cape at home, helping Buffy prepare to dress as Little Red Riding Hood. They reminisce about Halloweens past and Buffy notes that every time she gets close to someone (more specifically, a man), he leaves her. Joyce says that she used to feel the same way, and was kind of reclusive when they first moved to Sunnydale because she was afraid. She tells Buffy that there’s nothing to fear. On campus, general mischief-making is in progress, and Willow, dressed as Joan of Arc, is on the phone with Oz, about to meet up with him. She says that they have to make sure Buffy has a good time, and vows to “axe-murder” Parker if he shows up, since that will be “Halloween-y.” At the frat house, a girl with her hands in a bowl of “eyeballs” (aka peeled grapes) is horrified to see that they’ve turned into real eyeballs.

Xander, dressed as James Bond, catches up with Buffy, and they discuss the events of “Halloween.” He says that he chose his costume specifically in case they same thing happens. They meet up with Oz and Willow, who explains that she dressed as Joan of Arc because she was almost burned at the stake and has a close relationship with God. Oz, seemingly not in costume, reveals that he’s wearing a nametag with the name “God” on it. The four see guys dressed as commandos (see “The Freshman” and “Living Conditions”) and Oz wonders if they’re supposed to be NATO. Xander mentions that he invited Anya, who will meet them at the party, and Buffy laments the fact that she’s the only person without a date. Willow assures her that they’ll have fun anyway. At the frat house, everyone is screaming and running around as a demonic voice says, “Release me!” One guy falls down the stairs, landing dead at the bottom.

The Scoobies enter the haunted house and wonder why there isn’t much action. They comment on the lameness of the decorations until Xander is startled by a plastic skeleton jumping out of a closet with a knife. Willow discovers a tarantula crawling on her shoulder and freaks, and Buffy sees real blood on the carpet. She hears a squeaking noise, and the Scoobies look up to see dozens of bats on the ceiling. The bats fly away, and when Oz approaches one left behind, he sees that it’s made of rubber. The demonic voice repeats, “Release me!” Anya arrives at the house dressed as a bunny and is confused when she can’t find the front door. She sees a girl banging on an upstairs window, but before she can react, the bricks of the side of the house suddenly move to cover up the window.

The Scoobies wander around the house, looking for the stairs and the door. Xander hears a hissing noise, but no one reacts to his announcement until Buffy herself says that she hears something. They find a frat guy in the closet, freaking out. “It’s alive,” he tells them. Behind them, the plastic skeleton has turned into a real skeleton and is grinning and raising its knife. The skeleton stabs Buffy in the shoulder and she knocks it to the ground, where it becomes plastic again. The frat guy returns to the closet, but when the Scoobies look back over, the closet door has disappeared. Buffy tells the others that she’s going to go upstairs to see if anyone up there needs help, and orders them to find a way out of the house and get Giles. Anya has, smartly, also decided to go to Giles, and has filled him in on what’s happening. He starts to research and gather supplies, and tells her not to worry about Xander, who is with friends.

Unfortunately, said friends aren’t getting along very well - Willow is upset that Buffy wants to get rid of them. She says that it’s not Buffy’s decision to make and suggests doing a spell that will help them find a way out of the house. Buffy says that Willow’s spells aren’t always successful, and Willow takes offense. Angry about always being the sidekick, Willow stomps off and Oz follows her. Xander tries to calm Buffy down, but grows confused when she starts calling out for him and wondering where he is. She takes off to find him and he wonders why she can’t see or hear him. Elsewhere in the house, Willow complains to Oz, who is slowly transforming into a werewolf. He tells Willow that he has to get away from her and she says that she can do the guiding spell and save them. He runs off and she begs him not to leave her.

Xander is comforted to see himself in a mirror, noting that he hasn’t completely disappeared. A fake severed head, which is now a real severed head, says that he can see Xander, too. Oz winds up in a bathtub, chanting to himself, “You’re not gonna change.” Buffy patrols through the house, trying to find a fightable foe. Willow conjures up a tiny light, but when she can’t decide where she wants it to lead her first, it begins multiplying. The lights surround Willow and she runs off with them chasing her. Buffy hears Willow yelling and tries to follow her voice but winds up falling into the basement. A voice tells her that she’s all alone. The guy who fell down the stairs earlier appears and tells her that people will always run away from her. Dead people reach up through the ground and grab at her.

Giles and Anya arrive at the frat house and Giles announces that they’re going to have to create a door. Anya asks if he can do that, and the chainsaw he’s brought answers that he can. The dead guy tells Buffy, “No matter how hard you fight, you just end up in the same place. I don’t see why you bother.” Buffy fights her way out and winds up back in the attic. She comes across Oz, who is back in human visage, and Willow runs into the room, having escaped the lights. Xander complains that no one takes him seriously because he’s not in college, but is delighted to realize that Buffy and the others can now see him. Oz notes that the house wanted the Scoobies to separate, and Buffy says that they were all brought upstairs for a reason. They look up the symbol on the floor and see that it’s the Mark of Gachnar, which summons a demon called Gachnar. Gachnar feeds on fear, and Buffy says that if they can get everyone out of the house, they should be able to stop the summoning.

The walls are now shaking and a rumbling sound can be heard. Xander heads for the door and is shocked to see one of the three sexiest Giles moments in the series (see “Band Candy” and “Where the Wild Things Are” for the other two) - Giles with a chainsaw. Anya hugs Xander, relieved, and Giles tells Buffy that they can’t allow Gachnar to become fully manifested. He looks through a book and finds the way to stop Gachnar, and as he’s reading about breaking the symbol, Buffy hurries over and punches a hole through it. Unfortunately, breaking the symbol actually brings Gachnar forth immediately. The demon rises out of the floor…but he’s only a few inches tall. The Scoobies suppress laughter and Xander mocks the “little fear demon.” Gachnar tells Buffy that her friends are going to abandon her, but shuts up when she steps on him.

The Scoobies snack on candy at Giles’ apartment, where Anya makes the first mention of a long-running joke: she’s afraid of bunnies. Giles realizes that he overlooked the inscription under the picture of Gachnar. Buffy asks, “What’s it say?” Giles replies, “Actual size.”

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: If you’re a werewolf, don’t bleed on anything.

GRADE: A- Yes, it kind of rips off “Nightmares,” but the effort and ending are better.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Xander: “I don’t know, I was going for ferocious, scary, but it’s coming out more dryly sardonic.”
Willow: “It does appear to be mocking you with its eye holes.”
Oz: “The nose hole seems sad and full of self-loathing.”

Oz: “Maybe it’s because of all the horrific things we’ve seen, but hippos wearing tutus just don’t unnerve me the way they used to.”

“She’s still suffering a little post-Parker depression.” - Oz

Frat guy 1: “If we not scare the young women, they will not fall into our arms. We’ll have woman-less arms. Halloween isn’t about thrills, chills and funny costumes - it’s about getting laid.”
Frat guy 2: “Is there any holiday that’s not about getting laid?”
Frat guy 1: “Arbor Day.”

Xander: “You said you were over me.”
Anya: “And you just accepted that? I only said that because I thought that’s what you wanted to hear.”
Xander: “That’s the funny thing about me, I tend to hear the actual words people say and accept them at face value.”
Anya: “That’s stupid.”
Xander: “I accept that.”

Xander: “Oh, you’ll need a costume.”
Anya: “A costume?”
Xander: “Dress up, you know, something scary.”
Anya: “Scary. Scary how?”
Xander: “Anya, you, ex-demon, terrorized mankind for centuries. I’m sure you’ll come up with something.”

“My casio es su casio.” - Oz

Xander: “Hey, Red. What you got in the basket, little girl?”
Buffy: “Weapons.”

Xander: “Bond. James Bond. Insurance, you know, in case we get turned into our costumes again. I’m going for cool, secret agent guy.”
Buffy: “I hate to break it to you, but you’ll probably end up cool head waiter guy.”
Xander: “As long as I’m cool and wield some kind of power.”

Willow: “I’m Joan of Arc. I figured we had a lot in common, seeing as how I was almost burned at the stake, and plus she had that close relationship with God.”
Xander: (to Oz) “And you are?”
(Oz reveals that he’s wearing a nametag, which reads “God”)
Xander: “Of course. I wish I’d thought of that before I put down my deposit. I could have been God.”
Oz: “Blasphemer.”

“Terrifying. If I were Abbott and Costello, this would be fairly traumatic.” - Buffy

Xander: “I wasn’t scared, I was in the spirit.”
Willow: “And we back you up on that. Even if they question us separately.”

(Oz turns off the spooky sound effects)
Buffy: “Thank the Lord!”
Oz: “You’re welcome.”

Buffy: “Will, let’s be realistic here. Okay, your basic spells are usually only fifty-fifty.”
Willow: “Oh, yeah? Well…so’s your face!”

Buffy: “This is Gachnar?”
Xander: “Big overture. Little show.”
Gachnar: “I am the dark lord of nightmares! The bringer of terror! Tremble before me. Fear me!”
Willow: “He – he’s so cute!”
Gachnar: “Tremble!”
Xander: “Who’s a little fear demon? Come on! Who’s a little fear demon!”
Giles: “Don’t taunt the fear demon.”
Gachnar: “I bring the fear!”
Xander: “Why, can he hurt me?”
Giles: “No, it’s just tacky. Be that as it may, Buffy, when it comes to slaying….”
Buffy: “Size doesn’t matter?”

Buffy: “There is no problem that can not be solved with chocolate.”
Willow: “I think I’m gonna to barf.”
Buffy: “Except that.”

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