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BuffyGuide.com — The Complete Buffy Episode Guide
Fear, Itself
October 26, 1999
#4ABB04

 
Credits

Writer:
David Fury


Director:
Tucker Gates


Guest Stars:
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Marc Blucas as Riley
Lindsay Crouse as Professor Maggie Walsh
Adam Kaufman as Parker Abrams


Cast:
Marc Rose as Josh
Sulo Williams as Chaz
Walter Emanuel Jones as Edward
Adam Bitterman as Gachnar
Aldis Hodge as Masked Teen
Darris Love as Hallmate
Michele Nordin as Rachel
Adam Grimes as Lobster Boy
Larissa Reynolds as Present Girl

 
Synopsis

Buffy reluctantly agrees to join Willow, Oz, and Xander at a Halloween frat party. The gang finds themselves in a real-life house of horrors, in which a Fear Demon feeds on their individual fears. Meanwhile, Anya needs Giles (who is for once trying to get into the spirit of Halloween) to help her save Xander when she realizes something is amiss.

For the full, detailed synopsis, click here.

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Monstervision

Gachnar, the little Fear Demon Gachnar is reminiscent of the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard pretended to be a great, powerful wizard, in part by using a (fake) booming voice. He made false promises and made people fear him — but when his cover was blown, he was just a harmless little man.


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Body Count

Frat boy
Accidentally falls down the stairs in the frat house and breaks his neck.
Gachnar, the Fear Demon
Buffy squashes him like a bug upstairs in the frat house.
Total: Two
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Dialogue to Die For

Buffy: "I was just thinking about the life of a pumpkin. Grow up in the sun, happily entwined with others, and then someone comes along, cuts you open, and rips your guts out."

Buffy: "Conjuring? Will, let's be realistic here, okay? Your basic spells are usually only about 50-50."
Willow: "Oh yeah?! Well... so's your face."
Buffy: "What?"

Xander (taunting the fear demon): "Who's the little fear demon? Come on, who's the little fear demon?"
Giles: "Don't taunt the fear demon."
Xander: "Why? Can he hurt me?"
Giles: "No, it's just... tacky."

More quotes from this episode...

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Dialogue to Bury

Willow (to Buffy): "You want me to come with?"
    This phrase really gets on Jamie's nerves.
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References

  • "Fear, Itself"
  • The episode title is a reference to the famous quote, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt (the 32nd president of the U.S.). Of course, now we know that we don't even have to fear that, because we can just squash it like a bug. ;-)

  • Xander: "People, prepare to have your spines tingled and your gooses bumped by the terrifying... Fantasia. Fantasia? ... Phantasm! It was supposed to be Phantasm!"
  • Fantasia is a 1940 animated Disney musical featuring Mickey Mouse as a Sorcerer's apprentice who gets into some magic he can't control. The musical has eight different segments with different classical, opera, and ballet songs. It is the segment to the tune of "The Dance of the Hours" from which Oz's reference to hippos in tutus stems.

    Phantasm is a 1979 low budget horror film about two brothers and an ice cream salesman investigating strange going-ons at the local cemetery. Something about flying spheres puncturing skulls and shrinking things to half their normal size.

  • Willow (to Oz): "OK, Brutus... Brutus. Uh, Caesar? Betrayal, trusted friend, back-stabby?"
  • Caesar was a Roman Emperor whose "friends" conspired to assassinate him in 44 B.C. (and indeed did so on March 15th, the Ides of March). Brutus was, along with Cassius, one of the main conspirators.

  • Giles (about his Frankenstein monster doll): "It's alive!"
  • This quote is originally from the 1931 movie Frankenstein with Boris Karloff as The Monster. The phrase does not appear in the book by Mary Shelley.

  • Xander (to Anya, about Uncle Rory): "The man likes his schnapps."
  • Schnapps is defined as "any of various strong liquors, especially a Dutch spirit distilled from potatoes" (according to Dictionary.com). It comes in a variety of flavors, such as peach, butterscotch, root beer, peppermint (Rory's apparent favorite), etc.

  • Oz (about his sound equipment): "Mi Casio es su Casio."
  • Casio is an electronics manufacturer that makes things such as calculators, watches, and electronic musical instruments.

    The phrase referenced is Mi casa es su casa, which is Spanish for "My house is your house."

  • Xander (to Oz): "Sensing a disturbance in the Force, Master?"
  • Yet another Star Wars reference — Oz is apparently as in tune with his sound system as a Jedi Master was with the Force.

  • Xander: "What'cha got in the basket, little girl?" / Buffy's Red Riding Hood costume itself.
  • Buffy is dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, the main character of the fairy tale of the same name. The story is at least as old as the very early 19th century; it has been told and written in many different languages with many different versions — authors include the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. Though each version varies, the basic plot has Red Riding Hood off to visit her grandmother; she runs across a wolf (who asks her what she has in her basket), tells him where she's going, and he beats her there. When she gets there, he has locked her grandmother in the closet (or eaten her, depending on the story version) and dressed up in her clothes to trick Red Riding Hood in an attempt to eat her as well.

    James Bond
  • Xander (explaining his Halloween costume): "Bond. James Bond."
  • James Bond (a.k.a. Agent 007) is the main character in a string of secret agent movies, who often introduced himself the way Xander did. The character, who has been played by such actors as Sean Connery and (most recently) Pierce Brosnan, is notoriously suave, sophisticated, and popular with the ladies. This isn't the first time Bond has been referenced.

  • Willow: "I'm Joan of Arc. I figured we had a lot in common, being almost burned at the stake and having a close relationship with God."
  • Joan of Arc was a patron saint of France who, as a teenager, quite successfully led French troops in battle against the English. The English eventually captured her, tried her for witchcraft and heresy (she believed that God spoke to her through the voices of Saints), and burned her at the stake when she was 19 years old. (Willow, in saying that she is close to God, is not saying that God speaks to her; Oz was "dressed" as God for Halloween.)

  • Willow (about the camouflaged guys): "What are they supposed to be?"
    Oz: "NATO?"

    NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance established in 1949. Its aim is to safeguard member nations from attack, originally from the threat of Soviet aggression. With the end of the Cold War, NATO members agreed to the use of its forces as peacekeepers in countries outside the alliance.

  • Buffy: "If I were Abbott and Costello this would be fairly traumatic."

    We're not Abbott and Costello experts, but this would seem to be a reference to the numerous monster movies (such as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein made by the comedy duo (Bud Abbott and Lou Costello) in the late 1940s and the 50s. Xander also referenced the duo in "Go Fish."

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Continuity

  • Halloween

    Buffy mentions Ethan once turned everyone into their costumes, referring to "Halloween," in which Ethan Rayne, one of the mysterious people from Giles' past, did exactly that. This is also the reason that Xander says that he decided to dress like James Bond (so if it happened again, he would turn into someone cool).

  • The Dark Age and The Zeppo

    Anya says that Xander's Uncle Rory let her into the house. Rory is Xander's drunken uncle whom he mentioned was a taxidermist in "The Dark Age" and whom he borrowed the '57 Bel Air from in "The Zeppo."

  • The Harsh Light of Day

    This is the episode in which Anya and Xander "copulated," as Anya reminds Xander.

  • The Wish

    Xander figures Anya shouldn't have a problem finding a scary costume, seeing as how she used to be a man-hating demon, which she was in "The Wish." She lost her powers in that episode and became trapped in her current body.

  • Ted

    Joyce mentions that her last boyfriend was a "homicidal robot," referring to Ted, from this aptly titled episode.

  • Gingerbread

    Willow mentions that she was almost burned at the stake — this occurred in "Gingerbread," and her own mother was one of the would-be burners.

  • The Freshman and Living Conditions

    The stealthy camouflaged guys were first seen at the end of "The Freshman" (zapping a vampire with a taser gun) and briefly in "Living Conditions," however, it has not yet been revealed what exactly they're doing.

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Goofs and Gaffes

  • The Frankenstein doll is swinging pretty well all through Giles and Buffy's talk, but during a cut away from and back to Giles the doll has more or less stopped swinging, though there didn't seem to be enough time for it to have slowed that much.

  • Buffy-time generally parallels real-time, so since Halloween was on a Sunday this year, there shouldn't have been any classes — Evil Bitch Monster of Death Professor Walsh be damned!

  • The area of the floor on which the Mark of Gachnar is painted is obviously made of break-away wood, because it's so different from the rest of the floor.

  • In the scene in which Oz and Xander bring over Oz's sound system, the hair dangling on Xander's forehead moves around a bit in different shots.
          Spotted by Mathew.

  • Watch the shot of the reanimating dead girl at the party: at the very end of her shot, her face is abruptly shown smiling. This seems to be an editing goof, because you don't see the smile form; it's just suddenly there.

  • When Willow is checking out Buffy's wound, her left braid is behind her (and, in fact, Willow is pushing it further to her right). The camera then switches angles, and her left braid is suddenly resting in front of her left shoulder.

  • The whole chainsaw thing is somewhat questionable. Giles' bag seems almost too small to even fit it, let alone pull it out so easily. Plus, it doesn't really seem as though he pull-starts it.
          Pull-start part spotted by Mathew.

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Notes

  • Alpha Delta, a.k.a. Alpha Delt, is a fraternity at UC Sunnydale which seems to host many parties, one of which is their "scary house" Halloween party.

  • Willow claims to be proficient now in Wicca basics such as levitations, charms, and glamours.

  • Riley wears white shoes with black pants. We do not approve.

  • Willow calls upon Aradia, the goddess of the lost, for her guiding spell.

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Music

  • Verbena - "Pretty Please" (From Into the Pink, Capitol, 1999)
      This song plays as Rachel (the blonde) puts her hand in the bowl of grapes turned eyeballs.
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Comments

Jamie Marie and Jeremy:

Take two parts "Nightmares" and one part "Halloween;" add a dash of "Out of Mind, Out of Sight." Shake and pour over ice. This seems to be the recipe for for this episode. Once you get past the similarity to "Nightmares" (there's a pretty fine line between nightmares coming true and fears coming true), this is a fun episode. We like it. We like that Buffy was still upset over the Parker thing — not because we take pleasure in her pain, but because many real girls would probably take more than a week to get over it, too. We like that Xander doesn't like being the only non-student in the gang (we hope he'll go to UC Sunnydale next semester, or at least next year). We fully enjoyed the image of Giles in a sombrero. We continue to love the Anya-Xander development, and we love pretty much any and all interaction between them.

The scene between Riley and Buffy was odd, since we were bombarded all summer with rumors of them falling in love — he seems too old for her (in a different way, somehow, than Angel), and he relates to her in an almost fatherly way. Of course, Buffy is kind of lacking a father figure, now that Giles is backing off a bit. Some girls do that kind of thing subconsciously. Anyhow, we're sure that Riley is one of those stealthy camouflaged guys. Come on, he pushes her to go out and party on Halloween, then says that he'll be grading papers? Can you say "cover story?" And we're sure that one of them did a slight double take upon recognizing Buffy/Willow/Oz — that had to be Riley.

As for the whole little-tiny-demon thing; it probably sounds kind of cheesy if you didn't see it, but we thought it was funny! We laughed out loud, and we're not embarrassed to admit it! That little voice ... "I bring the terror!" Anyhow, the only major things (besides the influence from "Nightmares") that perturbed us a bit were the somewhat overkilled set-up — of what each group member feared, and of the symbol and its obvious havoc-wreaking potential — and the annoying scene with all the lights flashing and people running around screaming wildly (the only problem we have with this new fellow's directing).

Overall, a cute episode, with some very cool effects (the spider and the bricked window, mainly), and very good treatment of the whole cast as an ensemble. Oh yeah, and one more thing of interest: it has been mentioned (by fans as well as Mr. Trick) that minorities are hard to spot on Buffy, which is true. But in this episode, we spotted at least eight black people — four with lines and four extras. (8/10)

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Nielsens
Air Date Rating Ranking
October 26, 1999 4.1 89 of 137
October 31, 2000 2.3 108 of 138

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