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Title: My So-Called Life S1.E09 “Halloween”
Released: 1994

Drinking Game Tally: 13 drinks, 0 shots, 2 chugs
‘90s Fashion Award: Angela
My So-Called Winner: Jordan
My So-Called Loser: Nicky
Brian Krakow vs. Jordan Catalano: Jordan

Oi! It’s time for another installment of My So-Called Life Lessons! Today’s episode fills me with delight, because it’s titled “Halloween”!

You guys, Halloween is my favorite holiday! Costumes! Crisp air! Pumpkins! Getting to be spooked in that way where you know you’re scared but actually totally safe! (Except this one time when I visited Hammond Castle outside Boston, where they turn the whole castle into a haunted house, and right before we descended down into the dungeon, I looked behind me and there was a guy in creepy clown makeup just standing in the room — when he hadn’t been there before — which kind of freaked me out, so when I accidentally bumped into the chest of somebody dressed as some sort of monster, and quickly ducked the other way, only to be face-to-navel with a guy dressed as Leatherface who kept just getting closer and closer to me, further separating me from my group, and I just started giggling uncontrollably, saying ‘thank you, thank you, okay, thank you’ as I tried to get away from him… yeah, I wasn’t so convinced I was actually safe then, but here I am!)

On with the show!

What Happened

Angela examines a recently carved pumpkin while she has a discussion with her mind about the futility of wearing a costume to school. Graham, Patty and Danielle all waited until the last minute to pick a costume, at which I shake my head with the sadness of the wise. Plan ahead, people.

At school, a lot of people are in costume, and Angela wonders if she should be one of them. The teacher is dressed as Obi Wan Kenobi, and makes a lame Star Wars reference before threatening to kick Jordan Catalano out of school for ditching. In the girl’s bathroom, Vampire Rayanne has brought an outfit from the ’50’s for Angela to wear, while Rickie is dressed as Brian Krakow. There’s a book to go with the tweed skirt, cashmere sweater and cat-eye glasses, and it turns out that the last person to check out said book was Nicky Driscoll (Cue: Dun da dun!) a kid who — legend has it — died from a high heel spike to the brain when he went climbing in the school gym’s rafters. (It should be noted that my husband walked in at this moment, and said, “Oooh, Angela is looking really hip”, not knowing it’s a costume. I will have you know that I am taking this as a personal compliment, since librarian chic is my own personal style. Thank you, husband.)

Sharon and Rayanne and some other girls in the bathroom wax poetic about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the boy’s death, and Angela accidentally confuses Nicky with Jordan Catalano.

Graham and Patty are shopping for costumes, and THE MOST AMAZING CHARACTER I’VE EVER SEEN tells them that she’s out of Power Ranger’s costumes. Now I really want to see Graham and Patty dressed up as Power Rangers. Instead they go with Rapunzel and a pirate. BECAUSE they waited until the last minute. The Costume store lady agrees with me about planning ahead.

In the maze of monsters at school, Angela thinks she sees Nicky, but hey! It’s Jordan Catalano. She apologizes for her outfit, telling him she’d never really wear it (except in 10 years, when it’s back in style, heyo!) Anyway, she passes on Obi Wan’s message that if he doesn’t show up for class, he’ll get kicked out. Jordan is non-plussed. Rayanne comes by with the news that Tino has decided they’re all going to try to contact Nicky’s spirit later that night.

Hey! There’s a Rolling Stone magazine with Kurt Cobain on the cover! I think it’s about his death, since Angela is talking about people dying young, but wait a minute, Kurt Cobain died in April, right? Maybe it’s an old magazine? I’m perplexed.

Rickie doesn’t want to be involved in the ghost-raising, but Brian Krakow wishes he could be. Graham has made pumpkin soup. Yum. Danielle comes into the kitchen dressed as Angela, and her parents just think she’s turned into a teenager. Graham and Patty start getting into their costumes, and we can all tell that they are going to do it tonight. And this scene is going on for way too long. Then Sharon bonds with Danielle.

Brian Krakow has crashed the ghost-raising party. (Stalker Point? We’ll make it -0.5) Rayanne wants to break into the school to do some vandalism, because Tino didn’t show up. Brian knows a way in, and begrudgingly shows them, but immediately, Angela starts seeing the ghost of Nicky Driscoll, and while checking out Rayanne’s legs, Brian accidentally locks them in. While trying to fix it, the lights go out! Spooky!!!! No really, spooky. Angela, walking in the dark, hears a haunting rendition of “Blue Moon”. She enters the gym and it’s full of the ghosts of balloons from the ’50’s! Except the camera pans back to a banner, and it says ‘Class of ’63’! Whoops! Hey, I just realized this episode predated Buffy by, like, a lot of years, so even though it reminds me of that episode where Buffy and Angel are possessed by the spirits of that student and naughty teacher, it should be the other way around!

Trying to avoid some hoodlums, Rickie runs into Jordan Catalano, who is not too impressed with his buddies trashing the track outside, and sums up the reason we all do anything: because we’re afraid that if we don’t, and something cool happens, we’ll miss it.

Back inside the gym, (sh-bop sh-bop) the class of ’63 are stuffing their bras and trash-talking Nicky.

Back at home, Patty is handing out candy, but Graham says ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down ya’ hair, so I climb up and get into your underwear’. Patty exclaims ‘Your sword!’, and Graham rips open the back of her dress. Man, you’re not going to get your deposit back.

Rayanne rakes Brian over the coals for scoping out her legs, but doesn’t want him to leave her, because she’s afraid of the dark. She tells him a story about how her dad would lock her in the basement when she was a kid, and we think she’s making it up. She is! Haha. Then she teases him some more and he tries to explain that he’s a photographer, so that’s why he’s a little bit stalkery.

Angela sees Nicky Driscoll talking to his friend about going up into the rafters. Rayanne helps Brian with a Round Robin. Back in the slow hallway, Nicky speaks! He tells Angela he likes ‘Blue Moon’. She tries to tell him not to climb up into the rafters, but he doesn’t listen to her, and she dramatically chases after him.

The next morning, Danielle returns Angela’s flannel, but not before having a cuddle in it. Then she touches Angela’s stuff. Angela would be so mad. But she leaves Angela some of her candy! Aw. A janitor finds Rayanne and Brian and they’re all ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ scared of waking up next to each other. They wake up Angela so they can get changed. Patty calls to apologize for not showing up at their friend’s Halloween costume party. Oh yeah, then she fires the guy she hired to replace Graham.

Brian asks Rickie what Rayanne said about their night, but is disappointed by what he hears. Patty goes to return the costumes, and the lady isn’t going to charge her for the ripped bodice! And Patty wants to keep the costumes! But she decides to just keep Rapunzel’s handkerchief.

At school, Angela confronts Jordan about not showing up for class. She tells him that she understands, even though he probably doesn’t believe her. Jordan shows up to class, and Angela has a happy. Then she opens Nicky Driscoll’s library book, and the rose is in it! (I didn’t mention the rose. One of the trash-talking girls got it from Nicky, and left it in the gym, so Angela had it, and Nicky took it back during their meeting in the hallway.) Angela smiles.

Drinking Game Tally: 13 drinks, 0 shots, 2 chugs

’90’s Fashion Award

Angela’s overalls and crazily-patterned shirt in the final scene!

Lessons I Learned About High School

It’s never too early to dress like a skank for Halloween. The boys were all monsters (except for Rickie) but the girls? Apart from Sharon’s cat costume, I saw at least one French maid, and I’m sure there were some naughty nurses and a genie in the mix.

My So-Called Winner

Jordan, who is affected enough by Angela just showing that she cares, that he shows up for class! Go Jordan!

My So-Called Loser:

Nicky Driscoll. Because at the end of the day/episode, he’s still dead.

Brian Krakow vs. Jordan Catalano

Jordan! Not only does he not say anything really stupid, but he shows up for class to get some book-learnin’!

Life Lessons Learned

  • Sometimes, all a person needs is to know that someone cares about them.

  • Rapunzel is a real bodice-ripper.

Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.