Fear, Itself

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  • 9.5

    Fear, Itself

    By arkanitoo, Aug 14, 2014

    This is the best this season has put out yet! We get a thoroughly entertaining plot, the usual wittiness, useful character insight, and a whole lot of fun. This is a modern version of "Nightmares" (1x10), and the fear demon plot works because the characters have changed and new ground is being covered. This is the first episode of the season that has that 'homely' feel between the characters. When Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz meet up in front of the frat house I can't help but feel cozy and excited for their fun little adventure. Much of what happens here is further setup for the internal conflicts of the season: Willow's use of magic and growing power, Oz's beast coming out and having serious repercussions, Xander feeling that he's not important in the group, Giles' aimlessness, and Buffy's relationship issues.



    I'm going to take a "set 'em up, and knock 'em down" approach to this review. I think I'll begin with Willow this time around. A big theme with her this season is the developing need to be a more powerful witch. Willow wants power and although right now it's used for good, the magic stems from very dark roots and is sparking a gradual change in her. Oz points out that he's afraid Willow will get hurt, and he compares it to his experience when "wolfing He says "I touch something, deep. Dark. It's not When the group meets in front of the "scary house" we see that Willow is dressed up as Joan of Arc, a girl who helped lead armies and was burned at the stake.



    The big moment of insight comes during the Buffy/Willow dispute in the frat house. Buffy wants her friends to leave so she doesn't have to worry about their safety, but Willow takes offense to this because she believes she has power and can help Buffy as an equal. Willow says "Being the Slayer doesn't automatically make you boss. You're as lost as the rest of us," but that's not necessarily true, Buffy does have certain advantages and instincts the others don't. Buffy's also realistic about Willow's current magical limitations: "Will, let's be realistic here. Okay, your basic spells are usually only Willow eventually yells back, "I'm not your sidekick!" and that is ultimately the big issue. We can openly see right here that Willow wants to become a more powerful individual which commands respect and seniority over others, not unlike Joan of Arc.



    Through the fear demon we discover that Willow's big fear right now is not being able to successfully advance her magical abilities and that they'll always backfire on her. Buffy's comment about her spells being only fifty-fifty likely brought that fear to the surface when she did the conjuring spell. The demon doesn't just work its mojo on Willow though. Lets move on to Xander. Early on we see Anya paying another visit to him and ask some tough questions. She says, "It's those people. You continue to associate with them though you share little in common ... I mean they go to college, you don't. They no longer live at home, - you Xander tries to come back but ultimately feels she's right. He replies, "Oh, hey, those things... The bonds of true friendship transcends... Could we just change the subject?" Later on in the frat house we find out that his fear of not fitting in and not being noticed by his friends comes true. This is a theme that will plague Xander for the rest of the season. Xander himself says what he wants when talking about his costume: "As long as I'm cool and wield some kind of



    The reason why Buffy gets so little attention from the fear demon compared to the others is because her fears have already been discussed by that point. In the very beginning of the episode we see her completely "out of it" and suffering from "post-Parker She recites the life of a pumpkin and then takes off from the pre-Halloween gathering with the Scoobies. Xander says, "does anyone else want to smack that guy?" Everyone raises their hands and so do I. I really enjoyed seeing Buffy telling Willow she's reached her quota of 'someones' and that she wants to be no dating Buffy for a while. The person that finally begins to shake her mood is Professor Walsh who essentially splashes some cold water on her face. She says, "if you miss another class you're Riley is pretty observant and is able to piece together that Buffy is the type of person who makes things hard on herself.



    The Riley chat leads to her enlightened conversation with her mother back at the house. They get to talking and Joyce says, "Our divorce had nothing to do with This is when Buffy reveals her growing feeling about serious relationships. She says, "I don't know. - I'm starting to feel like there is a pattern here. - Open your heart to someone, and he bails on you. Maybe it's easier to just not let anyone Joyce responds and tells her it's "Fear. I didn't believe I could trust anyone again. It's taken time and a lot of effort, but I've got a nice circle of friends now. - I mean, don't get me wrong. I - I'm still a little gun shy. It certainly didn't help that my last boyfriend turned out to be a homicidal robot. I will always be here for you. And you got Mr. Giles and your friends. Believe me, there is nothing to be afraid This is her mom telling her that she can risk a serious relationship because she's got her friends and family to support her when things don't go well.



    While this doesn't completely wash away Buffy's fears, as made clear by the fear demon and her resistance to a relationship with Riley in "Doomed" (4x11), it certainly helps a lot. We also see that Buffy has a ways to go before fully learning from her mistakes. When Giles is reading out of the book on how to defeat the fear demon, Buffy rushes to judgement and assumes that the first thing he read was how to stop it. Instead she releases the demon. This is exactly what she did with Parker. She rushed into sexual relations with him before really getting to know him well which ended up releasing the demon within him. Buffy needs to learn to be more careful in both her Slaying and her personal life, or she's going to keep getting hurt both physically and emotionally, respectively.



    Next up on the list is Oz. Early on he tells Willow how dark the beast within him is and that it isn't any fun. His fear is obviously that the beast will get loose and hurt his friends. In the frat house the fear demon makes this fear come true. Oz's fear isn't just brought up as an excuse for him to have something to fear in just this episode. It's a real fear which comes true in a much more damaging way in "Wild at Heart" (4x06). This is good setup for what happens to him there and makes why he leaves town make more sense.



    Although Giles and Anya weren't under the influence of the fear demon we did get to see what they fear. Anya simply fears Bunnies and losing Xander. I enjoyed it when she bursts into Giles' place and says "Xander is in trouble. We've got to do something, right now! ... Are you listening? Xander is trapped!" Giles poses an important question: "Uh, ah, where is Buffy and the others?" Anya snaps back, "They're trapped, too, but we've got to save Xander!" We can see he's very important to her right now. Giles, on the other hand, is unfortunately living his fear. He's sitting around at his home, bored to death, eating his own Halloween candy with a sombrero on. In the span of this episode we get to see Sombrero Giles, Candy Giles, Toy Giles, and Chainsaw Giles. He's in a rut and doesn't know where he fits right now. Throughout the season this situation will only get worse.



    When the fear demon finally rises we get the to the heart of the matter: fear, itself is actually really small. All you need to do is spot it and squash it, just like Buffy does. This is classic BtVS which works on all the levels that make the series fantastic. It's an episode with great: plot, character development, subtle lessons, and humor. All around I loved it!

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  • 9.5

    This is the best this season has put out yet!

    By tarafan2, Jun 15, 2013

    We get a thoroughly entertaining plot, the usual wittiness, useful character insight, and a whole lot of fun. This is a modern version of "Nightmares", and the fear demon plot works because the characters have changed and new ground is being covered. This is the first episode of the season that has that 'homely' feel between the characters. When Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Oz meet up in front of the frat house I can't help but feel cozy and excited for their fun little adventure. Much of what happens here is further setup for the internal conflicts of the season: Willow's use of magic and growing power, Oz's beast coming out and having serious repercussions, Xander feeling that he's not important in the group, Giles' aimlessness, and Buffy's relationship issues.



    I'm going to take a "set 'em up, and knock 'em down" approach to this review. I think I'll begin with Willow this time around. A big theme with her this season is the developing need to be a more powerful witch. Willow wants power and although right now it's used for good, the magic stems from very dark roots and is sparking a gradual change in her. Oz points out that he's afraid Willow will get hurt, and he compares it to his experience when "wolfing He says "I touch something, deep. Dark. It's not When the group meets in front of the "scary house" we see that Willow is dressed up as Joan of Arc, a girl who helped lead armies and was burned at the stake.



    The big moment of insight comes during the Buffy/Willow dispute in the frat house. Buffy wants her friends to leave so she doesn't have to worry about their safety, but Willow takes offense to this because she believes she has power and can help Buffy as an equal. Willow says "Being the Slayer doesn't automatically make you boss. You're as lost as the rest of us," but that's not necessarily true, Buffy does have certain advantages and instincts the others don't. Buffy's also realistic about Willow's current magical limitations: "Will, let's be realistic here. Okay, your basic spells are usually only Willow eventually yells back, "I'm not your sidekick!" and that is ultimately the big issue. We can openly see right here that Willow wants to become a more powerful individual which commands respect and seniority over others, not unlike Joan of Arc.



    Through the fear demon we discover that Willow's big fear right now is not being able to successfully advance her magical abilities and that they'll always backfire on her. Buffy's comment about her spells being only fifty-fifty likely brought that fear to the surface when she did the conjuring spell. The demon doesn't just work its mojo on Willow though. Lets move on to Xander. Early on we see Anya paying another visit to him and ask some tough questions. She says, "It's those people. You continue to associate with them though you share little in common ... I mean they go to college, you don't. They no longer live at home, - you Xander tries to come back but ultimately feels she's right. He replies, "Oh, hey, those things... The bonds of true friendship transcends... Could we just change the subject?" Later on in the frat house we find out that his fear of not fitting in and not being noticed by his friends comes true. This is a theme that will plague Xander for the rest of the season. Xander himself says what he wants when talking about his costume: "As long as I'm cool and wield some kind of



    The reason why Buffy gets so little attention from the fear demon compared to the others is because her fears have already been discussed by that point. In the very beginning of the episode we see her completely "out of it" and suffering from "post-Parker She recites the life of a pumpkin and then takes off from the pre-Halloween gathering with the Scoobies. Xander says, "does anyone else want to smack that guy?" Everyone raises their hands and so do I. I really enjoyed seeing Buffy telling Willow she's reached her quota of 'someones' and that she wants to be no dating Buffy for a while. The person that finally begins to shake her mood is Professor Walsh who essentially splashes some cold water on her face. She says, "if you miss another class you're Riley is pretty observant and is able to piece together that Buffy is the type of person who makes things hard on herself.



    The Riley chat leads to her enlightened conversation with her mother back at the house. They get to talking and Joyce says, "Our divorce had nothing to do with This is when Buffy reveals her growing feeling about serious relationships. She says, "I don't know. - I'm starting to feel like there is a pattern here. - Open your heart to someone, and he bails on you. Maybe it's easier to just not let anyone Joyce responds and tells her it's "Fear. I didn't believe I could trust anyone again. It's taken time and a lot of effort, but I've got a nice circle of friends now. - I mean, don't get me wrong. I - I'm still a little gun shy. It certainly didn't help that my last boyfriend turned out to be a homicidal robot. I will always be here for you. And you got Mr. Giles and your friends. Believe me, there is nothing to be afraid This is her mom telling her that she can risk a serious relationship because she's got her friends and family to support her when things don't go well.



    While this doesn't completely wash away Buffy's fears, as made clear by the fear demon and her resistance to a relationship with Riley in "Doomed", it certainly helps a lot. We also see that Buffy has a ways to go before fully learning from her mistakes. When Giles is reading out of the book on how to defeat the fear demon, Buffy rushes to judgement and assumes that the first thing he read was how to stop it. Instead she releases the demon. This is exactly what she did with Parker. She rushed into sexual relations with him before really getting to know him well which ended up releasing the demon within him. Buffy needs to learn to be more careful in both her Slaying and her personal life, or she's going to keep getting hurt both physically and emotionally, respectively.



    Next up on the list is Oz. Early on he tells Willow how dark the beast within him is and that it isn't any fun. His fear is obviously that the beast will get loose and hurt his friends. In the frat house the fear demon makes this fear come true. Oz's fear isn't just brought up as an excuse for him to have something to fear in just this episode. It's a real fear which comes true in a much more damaging way in "Wild at Heart". This is good setup for what happens to him there and makes why he leaves town make more sense.



    Although Giles and Anya weren't under the influence of the fear demon we did get to see what they fear. Anya simply fears Bunnies and losing Xander. I enjoyed it when she bursts into Giles' place and says "Xander is in trouble. We've got to do something, right now! ... Are you listening? Xander is trapped!" Giles poses an important question: "Uh, ah, where is Buffy and the others?" Anya snaps back, "They're trapped, too, but we've got to save Xander!" We can see he's very important to her right now. Giles, on the other hand, is unfortunately living his fear. He's sitting around at his home, bored to death, eating his own Halloween candy with a sombrero on. In the span of this episode we get to see Sombrero Giles, Candy Giles, Toy Giles, and Chainsaw Giles. He's in a rut and doesn't know where he fits right now. Throughout the season this situation will only get worse.



    When the fear demon finally rises we get the to the heart of the matter: fear, itself is actually really small. All you need to do is spot it and squash it, just like Buffy does. This is classic BtVS which works on all the levels that make the series fantastic. It's an episode with great: plot, character development, subtle lessons, and humor. All around I loved it!moreless

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  • 8.5

    Fear, Itself

    By Phunner1416, Jun 21, 2011

    In this episode, we get to see Buffy, Willow, Oz, Xander, and Anya's biggest fear. Buffy is afraid that all of her friends will abandon her, Xander's is pretty much the same. Oz's is that he won't be able to control the wolf and it will take over. Willow's is that the magic will turn on her. We get to see the first glimpse of Anya's bunny-phobia, which will become a popular running gag in the series. The end of the episode is pretty funny and ironic, with everybody being afraid of the demon to come, and he's about two inches tall. This was a great episode, but not perfect, and I kind of grade Buffy on a curve, so on another show, this would have been a 9.5moreless

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  • 7.5

    The idea here tries to evoke the classic season 2 Halloween, but this comes way short

    By RobGrizz, Mar 03, 2011

    Buffy is known for it's traditional Halloween episodes. Given the nature of the show, it makes sense and it's a cool characteristic that follows in the lines of The Simpsons (Tree house of Horror) and Friends (Thanksgiving).



    Unfortunately there's nothing here that's scary, fun, or really, very interesting. Hearkening back to the classic episode where costumes turned trick-or-treaters into literal manifestations, here, it is a fraternity haunted house that becomes a REAL real of terror! This is due to careless use of an old mystic symbol, and the gang gets split up inside, everyone facing their worst fears. Too bad the material written here wasn't stronger, because the potential was great.



    ONLY GOOD MOMENT: Anya arriving in her bunny suit. Funny (and oddly, hot..)moreless

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  • 10

    Fear, Itself

    By TrueTvWatcher, Oct 21, 2010

    Fear, Itself was a perfectly classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Thie episode fits right in with the halloween, which as of this review is a couple weeks away. I really enjoyed watching it because there was an excellent story, great humor, many allusions, and insights. It was interesting to see the different peoples costumes. Halloween, oh nothing will happen, but that never quite works out that way for Buffy. There were some very interesting scenes and the whole episode and every aspect of it was sensational. This episode follows a line of Halloween themed episodes in the series, and it was definitely great!moreless

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  • 8.5

    Season 4, Episode 4.

    By Wanted23, May 05, 2009

    The gang attends a fraternity Halloween party in hopes of helping Buffy get over the pain of being used by Parker. However, when they get to the house, all of their worst fears become a reality.



    I enjoyed this episode, but they did this already. It just played out differently. It feels like a combination of the episodes "Nightmares" and "Halloween." Not a bad episode though. It came out cool, and Buffy continues to look beautiful. I liked the scenes in the house, but this episode seemed different somehow. Good writing, good performance. Plus, the fear demon is tiny! Hehe, Buffy squishing him was awesome. Cool episode.moreless

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  • 9.5

    "Post Parker Depression", or "Actual Size"? Mwahahahaha!

    By goodridd, Apr 26, 2009

    Buffy is having trouble getting over Parker, so the gang gets her to go to a Halloween party in hopes that she will meet someone. Magic and Chaos ensue and the gang finds themselves trying to escape a "Haunted House".



    I'm not sure why, but I find Willow more adorable than usual in this episode. Giles in his Halloween sombrero is good for a laugh. And as usual, the Anya and Xander exchanges are hilarious. 1 week copulation anniversary...lol. We also learn of Anya's fear of bunnies in this episode.



    As the second Halloween episode of the series, I think it surpasses the original. The actors have really come into their own, and the episode just runs a lot smoother. The funny demon twist at the end is what really puts this one over the top for me!moreless

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  • 9.0

    Massively underrated gem.

    By TwistedConverse, Oct 11, 2008

    Fear, Itself is another underrated episode of the terrific Season 4 that while not being as brilliant as the previous Hallowe'en episode, was still excellent (and MUCH better than the last Hallowe'en episode, All The Way).



    This episode is so much fun. People often class Season 4 as the worst season and I can't see why; it's better than Seasons 1 and 7 and is probably tied with Season 2 for me. This episode embodies why I love Season 4 so much; it's a great mix of horror, comedy, action and emotion.



    The whole house of horrors thing wasn't original but was great, very scary and horror movie like. The cheesy voice of Gachnar shouting throughout the house could have been very, very bad but it was put to great use and came off well. The skeletons and spiders added to the creep factor and the windows closing over was a good effect.



    The gang's worst fears were quite amusing and although done previously in the episode "Nightmares", was still a good addition. I thought Oz's of turning into the werewolf was really good and Willow's "Don't leave me!" being magnified and repeated about 4 times was very creepy.



    The real highlight of this episode is Anya coming dressed the house in a bunny outfit and admitting bunnies are her greatest fear. This is one of the best recurring jokes of the show and it was brilliant to see it here. That bunny outfit is so awesome, as is Anya.



    What I didn't like in this episode was Buffy's continued moping over Parker. Realistic, yes. Annoying, very. It was just a bad storyline that no one liked and one that sort of dampens the episode. Parker is such an annoying jerk that you just wish she'd punch him to death. It just sort of brings the episode down. Fear, Itself is a brilliant episode that is both scary and funny. A really fantastic way to spend an hour.moreless

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  • 9.8

    Little House of Horrors

    By lenzinoH20, Jun 30, 2008

    Fear, Itself-To help Buffy get over the pain of having been used by Parker, the gang head to a fraternity Halloween party expecting a few cheap scares and a bit of harmless fun. Unfortunately, some accidental magic turns the party into a house of horrors where everyone's fears come to life.



    Probably one of the most underrated episodes of Buffy's 7 year run, "Fear, Itself" is near classic Buffy with it's excellent mix of horror, humor, drama, and action. The whole haunted house scenario has been done to death of movies and TV, but David Fury penns an wonderful script giving it that Buffy twist and the whole cast does so well throughout. I loved the costumes everyone chose for Halloween, especially Oz being God, ha! But nothing could top Anya going in her bunny costume, revealing her phobia about bunnies frightening her. Her bunny ear is one of the best recurring jokes of the series and it's used so well here.



    The Haunted house scenes are very creepy and superbly directed by Tucker Gates who creates a great sense of chaos in a small space as well as creating a chilling atmosphere. I love how the house brought everyone's fears to life as it gave some insight on the characters. We find out Xander fears that his friends won't notice him anymore now that they are all in college so now no one can see him. Then after a minor blow out with Buffy, Willow tries to use her magic only for it to backfire and it literally attacking her. The saddest is actually Oz, who tries to stop himself from turning into a werewolf. You honestly see for the first time how deeply conflicted Oz is about his wolf in him and it's a development that will be fleshed out significantly for the rest of the episode. Lastly, there's Buffy who almost gets dragged into the ground by some zombies in a very suspenseful scene. David Fury really knows how to create surreal tension and spliting up the gang worked in the episode's favor.



    Other great scenes is Giles and Anya coming to the rescue, not to mention seeing Giles with a chainsaw was brilliant! The ending twist with the Gachnar is one of the funniest moments of the series as her turns out be only 4 inches tall. Just the sight of Xander taunting him with "whose a little fear demon" was priceless as well as Giles revealing at the very end that he mis-read the lauguage under the Gachner photo, which translated to "Actual Size", lol. All and All, "Fear Itself" is excellent hour with tons of suspensful scenes, hilarious moments, and great developments.moreless

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