This time every year I am so glad that Freaks and Geeks had the foresight to do a Halloween episode during their first season, before being prematurely cancelled. “Tricks and Treats”, the show’s third ep, aired on October 30, 1999, and is a high point in a way-too-short series of high points.
When the episode starts, Sam is determined that he’s too old to go trick-or-treating, being in 9th grade and all. And Lindsay, though she really isn’t feeling it this year, is committed to handing out candy with her mother, their yearly tradition. As the episode progresses, Sam decides he does want to go out for candy, costume and all, after his teacher assigns Crime and Punishment, since they are, after all, not kids anymore and shouldn’t be wasting their time on kid stuff. Dressing up like Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still and asking for candy is his form of rebellion and he convinces Bill and Neal to come along. Harris, never one to care about being cool at all, also decides to join in the fun (Harris as “guy with a knife in his head” is one of the greatest moments of the series!). Lindsay ends up being invited out on a sort of double date with Nick, Desario and Kim Kelly (Ken shows up too, since his plans to go to a Ted Nugent concert fell through). At the last minute, Lindsay runs out of her house, yelling to her mom, who’s in full costume and feeling festive as ever, that she’ll be back soon.
Both kids are desperate to celebrate the holiday in their own way, and Mom is left stranded in the middle, holding a pan of Halloween cookies she baked for trick-or-treaters (though she’s told later that the parents are having the kids dump them on the lawn, as they aren’t supposed to take unwrapped foodstuffs).
Over the course of the night, Sam and his friends are mocked by the adults who answer the door (“Aren’t you a little old for this?), they’re jumped and have their candy stolen (not cool, Squints) and, finally, egged…by Lindsay. During the night, driving around in Desario’s uncle’s car he borrowed, Lindsay awkwardly smashes pumpkins, knocks over mailboxes and hangs out the window wooooo-ing with Kim Kelly. And yes, she eggs her little brother. She doesn’t realize it’s him at first and gets upset when she realized it was. But the damage is done, and later, at home, Sam lets her know that no one thinks she’s cool…a fact she is painfully aware of.
The episode closes out with both Weir kids coming to terms a bit with what they were running away from. Lindsay puts on the prince (it was supposed to be a princess) costume her mother rented her and helps hand out candy. After cleaning the egg out of his hair, Sam settles down in his bed to start on Crime and Punishment before going to sleep.
Freaks and Geeks as a whole, but especially this episode, really nails that weird time in our life—a transitional period where what we want, who we are, who we are expected to be and who we want to be all clash and often, there’s no clear cut winner. You just have to navigate the whole mess and hopefully learn a little in the process.
Unless, you’re Harris. That dude just kills it the whole time.