Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 8 is not a perfect hour. Some people love it to death while others are not fans. I'm part of the latter.
Don't get me wrong, it's essential to the overall Buffy plot and a big part of Giles's backstory. However, it's not an episode I prefer to rewatch. I can do without it as part of my list every year.
Disagree with me? Let me know your thoughts after we rewatch "The Dark Age."
Let's get this out of the way: The special effects makeup on "The Dark Age" was not the best.
I'm not sure if it was the design or the colours, but it looked more Halloween costume than demonic. When the demon version of Dierdre appeared, I laughed. She wasn't menacing at all.
Her design looked like a cross of a demon with a zombie that stayed out in the sun too long.
Why would Philip be so scared? Also, why didn't Philip run away? "Dierdre" casually took her time and walked to him. This was a slow death.
What I do love about Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 8 is that it gives character development for Giles. We learn a lot about his past and his motivations. Because of "The Dark Age," he will become the tough, powerful Watcher we grew to love.
Before his evolution, he was the stuffy British librarian more focused on books and order. This hour gave him the opportunity to explore a new side of the character.
This was not only beneficial to the character but to the series overall.
Willow Do you think Giles played “Anywhere but here” when he was in school?
Xander: Giles lived for school. He's actually still bitter that there were only twelve grades.
Buffy: He probably sat in math class thinking, "There should be more math. This could be mathier."
Willow: Come on. You don't think he ever got restless as a kid?
Buffy: Are you kidding? His diapers were tweed.
How could you not ship Giles and Jenny? They're so perfect for each other. He's the bookish man with a past and she's the technologically savvy woman with a secret.
They complement each other so well. And, as I've mentioned before, they had great chemistry together.
As compared to the Buffy and Angel relationship (which was a roller coaster), Giles and Jenny's relationship had an easier path to get to where they were at this point.
We've seen their first few dates; now we're seeing the next phase in their dating cycle. If we're being honest with ourselves, it's nice to see a "realistic" relationship develop on a supernatural series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It can't all be tortured vampire lovers in an on-again-off-again trope.
You gotta love Cordelia and her self-involved blinders. She is the only person who could look at homicide detectives and not put the pieces together that something is going on. It never registered with her, even when Buffy was worried for Giles.
Giles had a right to be worried if a man returned from the past after all those years. I'm surprised the Sunnydale police didn't keep him in for questioning; it was a mighty suspicious murder for someone to return from the past. People don't cross oceans for nothing.
Though...did that mean the demon traveled too? Did she/he teleport to Sunnydale after Philip or did they fly commercial?
Giles had major "Buffy personality" for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 8.
By this I mean that he closed everyone else off and didn't share the troubles that were going in his life. Buffy did this A LOT during the series, especially using her position as the Slayer to push people away. Giles essentially did the same after realizing his friends were dead.
He should've came clean to Buffy. When you're only one of two people still left alive that are targets of a demon, it's time to get reinforcements involved.
Giles needed to follow Buffy's direction and reach out for help. I like that she went to the closest people in his life and checked in since she was concerned. This was a good step for solving the issue.
Buffy: I know you, you ran that costume shop.
Ethan: Oh, I'm pleased you remember.
[He tries to leave but she stops him]
Buffy: You sold me that dress for Halloween and nearly got us all killed.
Ethan: But you looked great.
[She hits him]
Ethan: So now we’re even?
Buffy: I’ll let you know when we’re even. What are you doing here?
Ethan: Snooping around.
Buffy: Honesty, nice touch.
Ethan: It’s one of my virtues...not really.
Ethan Rayne came back and he was wittier than ever. It's a shame we only got to see him for a few episodes throughout Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Similar to Drusilla, this was a missed opportunity.
The plot connection to Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 6 was still strong. I'm glad that they continued the story and tied back to the events of that supernatural mischief. Buffy was not going to forget she almost died because she wore a dress.
Mind you, it was a cool costume! Still...she did nearly die. (We can't forget that.)
Did anyone else love the Ripper teasing?
Ethan did not care at all that his mocking irritated Giles. He knew every button to push Giles and he enjoyed every second of it. Regardless if he pushed Giles enough to hurt him.
"The Dark Age" was the first time that the other Scoobies were introduced to the Ripper backstory. They didn't know the name or how Ethan was connected to his past; it was all still a mystery. When they did find out, I think it changed their perception of Giles.
During the scene when Giles lifted up Ethan and threatened his life, the others looked absolutely shocked. They didn't expect the stuffy librarian to act that way. And, when I was a kid watching this, I didn't expect it either.
His aggressiveness didn't match the character we were shown up until that point.
There were a lot of issues with the demon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 8.
Firstly, the demon killed people in the most lackluster ways. Choking someone, while effective, doesn't compare to all of the past demons we've met before who had grander motives and methods. Secondly, the transference from one person to the next is laughable.
Throw in a few punches, a shake and the demon dissolves into a puddle on the floor. That's it!
If no one touched the liquid, would the demon instantly die? Did he decide when to become a liquid?
It made sense in the plot for Jenny to be possessed, but if her hand had only been two feet away, nothing would've happened.
Whenever anyone acts strangely in Sunnydale, that is a tell-tale sign something is going on. Jenny went full seductress for Giles after the attack; it was like a completely different person.
After rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 8, I wondered about Jenny's memory. Would she remember being possessed?
Her actions at the end of hour was ambiguous enough that I was left wondering. Knowing that she tried to kill people, and hurting Giles, could explain the space she needed afterwards.
Buffy: I still don't get what this has to do with Giles.
Willow: I don't know about Giles, but ancient sects used to induce possession for bacchanals and...and orgies.
Xander: Okay, 'Giles' and 'orgies' in the same sentence. I could’ve lived without that one.
What did you think of Giles's backstory?
I loved that he was a rebel. His leather jacket-wearing past is the complete opposite of the character introduced on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1 Episode 1. It's almost like night and day between them.
His apprehension to the dark side makes a lot of sense in hindsight.
After everything that happened with drugs, sex and demon rituals, it's not surprising that he's cautious when planning an attack. He knew what the dark side could bring as he felt it firsthand. It's a shame he didn't share any of these details until his life was in danger and he was forced to come clean.
Say what you will about Ethan, but he is a survivalist.
A kinder person would trust that the Scoobies would stop the demon in time and save his life. But not sneaky Ethan. Oh no, he had to find a loophole that caused more trouble than it was worth.
He was lucky that Buffy didn't get her hands on him. She had the look of murder in her eyes during the branding scene.
Surprisingly though, I don't hate Ethan. I actually quite like him as a villain. He's fun, cheeky, and he's smarter than the average villain. It's probably one of the reasons why I wished we had more of him during the series.
He wasn't a villain to be easily defeated. You could expect him to come back and cause another bit of chaos.
Ethan: You know, I hope you're not taking this personally, Buffy. I actually kind of like you; it's just that I like myself a lot more. If you think of it karmically, this is really big for your soul, you know. Taking my place with the demon, giving so that others may live.
Buffy: I'm gonna kill you. Will that blow the whole karma thing?
Ethan: Sweet child!
I'm on the fence about how they defeated the demon. Forcing a transfer was a smart plan and an interesting twist to incorporate Angel into the storyline. However, it wasn't the most exciting climax.
We got the shifting heads as his body fought the two demonic sides, but there could've been so much more done to this.
I hate being left at the end of a demon storyline wanting more in the worst way. Eyghon didn't seem like the most dangerous demon, regardless of how Giles, Ethan and Philip acted whenever he appeared. His lackluster, and surprisingly easy, death essentially confirmed my thinking.
In hindsight after rewatching "The Dark Age," I think the most damage Eyghon ever did was affect the Giles and Jenny relationship. (Except for killing four people, of course. Death is an absolute when there's no vampire involved.)
He nearly destroyed their relationship. His possession threw a wrench in their development and it affected them for a while. If I only focus on that, I guess I can give him some (small) credit.
What did you think of "The Dark Age"? What fun did rebellious Giles get up to as a kid? Were you sad the possession affected his relationship with Jenny? Was the makeup terrible?
Want to join us in rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer? We'll be posting new rewatch posts every Tuesday and Thursday. Come back here and let us know what you think of the episode.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.