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My So-Called Life: Halloweentown

Well, it’s Halloween in Pittsburgh and Angela thinks about the holiday as the Chase family gets ready in the morning. She still loves Halloween because it’s her one chance to be someone else, if just for a night. Angela did mention the idea of “being someone else” twice in her little voiceover narration within 25 seconds of the episode starting, so I think we have our theme for the week!

The new English teacher at school is dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi and wonders where Jordan is. Gotta say, kudos on acknowledging that they have a new English teacher, but why is the room not the same one as from the substitute episode? (Sorry. I’m a nerd; I notice these things.) The teacher tells Angela that Jordan needs to start showing up or she’ll have him expelled. And thus is Angela handed the perfect excuse to strike up another conversation with Jordan.

In the girls’ bathroom, Rayanne gives Angela a 1960s nerd costume. This sparks a conversation about Nicky Driscoll, the Liberty High student who died on Halloween in 1963. Side note: Sharon is dressed as a cat but everyone thinks she’s a mouse. This makes me wonder if that scene in Mean Girls is a MSCL reference? Maybe!

Angela runs into Jordan, who’s leaning so perfectly against the wall on the stairs, and she tells him that he has to go to English class. He makes a weak, if not entirely incorrect, argument that English class isn’t doing anything for him anyway. He doesn’t care if he gets expelled. Angela tries to make him care that he might get kicked out of school, but he walks away. For an instant she sees him as Nicky Driscoll.

See, it’s deep because they’re two boys she wishes she could save. But, like “¦ she can’t.

Rayanne and Tino plan to come to school after dark that night to try and contact the spirit of Nicky Driscoll. Rayanne’s the only one into this plan; Angela’s too obsessed with him to want to do something so disrespectful, and Ricky believes in ghosts, so he’s afraid of what they might stir up. Brian Krakow gets involved, because he quite honestly has nothing else to do.

Sharon Cherski dressed as a cat
Sharon's a CAT, dammit!

Meanwhile, the rest of the Chases are having a more normal Halloween. Patty and Graham find each other so sexy in their respective costumes that they never make it to Camille Cherski’s costume party. And Danielle does an amazing Angela impression and goes trick-or-treating with Sharon.

That night outside Liberty High, Tino is a no-show, as is his way. Ricky decides to leave, and runs into Jordan under the bleachers near the track. Jordan is, like, so done with messing around on the high school track every Halloween. Deservedly so. He also, for the first time, says something profoundly descriptive of the human teenage experience. (I know, crazy, right?!) He says his friends’ little Halloween night is just the same thing, year after year, but he keeps showing up because what if this time, something cool happens — and he misses it? I think he pinpointed perfectly what being a teenager (and honestly, sometimes an adult, too) can be like.

Brian Krakow justifies his presence by giving the gang a way to sneak into the school after hours using (what else?) some sort of A/V club secret entrance. Angela, still having visions of Nicky Driscoll, decides to wander around the creepy empty school by herself while Rayanne and Brian try to figure out how to unlock the door to get back out. You see, Rayanne was pointlessly fondling her own leg on the banister and Brian became enthralled, letting the security door close behind him.

The whole little imagination time-travel scene was really meaningful to me when I first saw it, and it watching it again I have to say it’s nicely done, from the subtle way she shifts to a different time to the desperation at the end when she realizes she can’t save Nicky. They even threw in a maybe it’s real! moment when Brian mentions that they couldn’t find Angela when they went upstairs to look for her. (Because she’s in the past, Brian.)

In the cold light of day, Brian and Rayanne, who had some bonding time in the dark boiler room area, and Angela, who apparently just laid down in the hallway for some shut-eye after the chat with Nicky, scramble out of school before anyone other than the cool janitor can see them.

I was a little confused about the timeline here. Does everyone in this town really throw down on Halloween, even when it’s a school night? Angela’s supposedly sleeping over at Rayanne’s, and Danielle, who’s about 10 years old, can stay out until 10 pm without her parents? Also, Patty and Graham’s friends are having a huge costume party?  I’m impressed, people.

Photos: Sharetv

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