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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 8 - The Dark Age

7 February 2013

Synopsis: The police ask Giles about a man who died on campus. He was an old friend of Giles' from London, Philip Henry. Giles is haunted by nightmares of something he did back in London but he refuses to tell Buffy. She finds Ethan at the library and suddenly Henry's corpse attacks them. We learn that Giles and his friends used to call upon a demon to get high (using tattoos, the Mark of Eyghon) and now he is killing them off one by one. Eyghon takes control of Jenny and Ethan tries to give Buffy the mark. It's left to Willow to find a way to defeat Eyghon.Giles faces his past

The Good: This was another strong episode hitting on several of the moral themes we have seen explored already.

It was really enjoyable to see Giles take a greater part in proceedings for once. There were attempts to spin him off into his own "Ripper" show and clearly he would have made a good leading man. His character only grows in stature from the knowledge that he chose the life of book worm after seeing the horrors that messing with demons could unleash. The death of his friend clearly forced him to realise that the role of Watcher was as important as it is. His performance marries the two sides of his character well and I have no problem believing in him as both bad ass and bore.

Jenny too was good throughout and the distance which this episode puts between them was sad to see. Like Buffy's attempts to find a boyfriend (105) it would seem that Giles and Jenny aren't going to have an easy relationship because of his involvement with demons. This was sadder though because we know Jenny better and because we thought she understood the dangers. Her techno-pagan background and first hand knowledge of the Hellmouth (112) still couldn't prepare her for being possessed by a demon. It was all very sad and once more Buffy and Giles are left to comfort one another with the knowledge that they are doing the right thing and that that requires sacrifice. Its admirable, moral storytelling which makes these characters so easy to route for and care about.

We have seen Willow growing in stature this season, standing up to Giles and Angel (205) and taking charge of the gang when they became their costumes (206). Now she has to step into Giles' shoes and does a great job, both disciplining the children (the borderline flirtatious Xander and Cordelia) and coming up with the way to defeat Eyghon.

I thought Ethan Rayne had another enjoyable outing. He delivers some good lines with relish and generally plays the creep effortlessly. I particularly enjoyed his response to Buffy pointing out his honesty - "It's one of my virtues...not really."  By playing a relentlessly selfish ass hole he shines a light on how good Giles is and provides the show with a potentially valuable recurring villain.

The Bad: The details surrounding Eyghon were never well explained. It wasn't clear why Eyghon had risen now and he seemed ponderous when it came to killing off those wearing his tattoos. The whole jumping into dead or unconscious bodies part was a little vague too making Angel's intercession feel more convenient than clever.

The Unknown: If Buffy can have the tattoo removed why didn't Ethan or Giles try? Was acid really needed? While I'm at it, surely Giles should pay for Buffy's removal procedure!

Best Moment: The final scene where Jenny walks away from Giles and Buffy points out that they have something in common now. The show's ability to make demons and monsters a poignant cause of character development is tremendous.

The Bottom Line: Another really enjoyable episode and a good showcase for Giles.

 

Cordia's Second Look
The Dark Age
Season 2, Episode 8
Original airing: 11/10/97

My Rating: 70

The Good: Two episodes ago (206), Ethan Rayne entered the Buffy Universe. He was interesting and amoral and somehow connected to Giles. This episode did a wonderful job on revisiting and building upon that premise. Giles' history as a school dropout and demonic drug addict only reinforce why he's so careful and stodgy now. Ethan seems to be the guy Giles would have been if he hadn't gone back to complete his Watcher training. It's a similar kind of parallel as the last episode (207), where Buffy's old friend was faced with an early death and chose to become a vampire. In both situations, Giles and Buffy are repentant, yet head-strong. But eventually, they do what they have to.

Jenny had some very interesting development in this episode. It's sad to see the experience come between her and Giles, but it's realistic and relatable. She thought she knew what she was getting involved in with her techno-pagan background. But reading about it versus actual possession turned out to be very different for her. At the end of the episode, she seems a bit scared of Giles and what she experienced because of him.

Revising the past is particularly hard on Giles. Not only does a demon he helped bring into the world kill multiples of his old friends, it also possesses his girlfriend and tries to rip out his stomach. But despite his injuries, he tries to save Jenny. However, he also leaves Buffy and the gang in the lurch, which he admits at the end of the episode when he apologizes to Buffy for not being there to help more.

Willow got to step into the void, though. She played a mini-Giles role to perfection, compiling research and coming to a reasonable conclusion. And she even had to babysit Xander and Cordelia at the same time. It's wonderful to see Willow growing and taking ownership of her resourcefulness and intelligence. Whenever she gets to stare someone down and yell some sense at them, she seems to get bigger and taller.

The resolution with Angel was also clever. Since the demon can only possess dead or unconscious people, putting her into a vampire to fight the already resident demon was a smart idea. At also allowed for some incredibly disturbing visuals as Angel's face was rearranged over and over and over again. Yuck.

The Bad: It's never explained why Eyghon waited 20 years to come after the people of Giles' little coven. She killed one of his friends during a ceremony and then disappeared for two decades. Suddenly, she reappears and goes directly after people with the tattoos. Which also doesn't make sense. She recognizes Giles and remembers him. She makes direct comments about who he was as a person 20 years ago. Yet, when she comes face-to-face with a tattoo-less Ethan, she throws him aside for the newly tattooed Buffy. Which begs the question of why the coven didn't have their tattoos removed years ago if it kept Eyghon from finding them. The logic gaps in the overall story kept this from being a great episode.

Favorite Moment: Buffy is jazzercising in the library while Giles watches and comments on the terrible music. The question is.... Why? She couldn't do that at home in her tiny spandex outfit? This was amusing to me because of the absurd situation. I think I got a lot more humor out of it than the writers or director intended.

The Bottom Line: A very nice backstory for Giles which deepened and reinforced the audience's current knowledge of the character. However, the logical fallacies were too distracting for this to be considered a great episode.

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Comments

  • .....I feel I didn't explain that properly.

    The plan was for Angel to "threaten" Jenny, forcing Eyghon to jump into Angel, and he would ultimately lose because Angel has his demon still inside him (as quoted below), so it wasn't necessarily a convenience exactly... It still had basis behind it. I've seen worse conceived things on this show lol.

    Still, why it took so long for Eyghon to take revenge, I have no idea :)

    Posted by Sara, 17/06/2011 9:30am (8 years ago)

  • Hiya

    Enjoying the spoiler-free reviews quite a lot! Sometimes it's frustrating because I know what's already going to happen, but it's nice having that completely fresh-eyed view.

    About Angel and being unsuccessfully possessed by Eyghon, Angel still has a demon in him - that's why the possession didn't work, they explained it in the episode:

    Buffy: You knew that if the demon was in trouble it was gonna jump into the nearest dead person.
    Angel: I put it in danger.
    Willow: And it jumped.
    Angel: I've had a demon inside me for a couple hundred years... just waitin' for a good fight.
    Buffy: Winner and still champion.

    Posted by Sara, 14/06/2011 9:56am (8 years ago)

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