Buffy 2×08: The Dark Age

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali | Director: Bruce Seth Green | Aired: 11/10/1997]

“The Dark Age” is thematically on point, but poorly directed and edited. It sports far too many scenes that feel very awkwardly stitched together. Thankfully, the writing helps curb what otherwise might have been a complete disaster of an episode. There are some relevant themes vying for attention in this Giles-centered outing.

Despite how flawed “The Dark Age” is, it remains important in the scope of the season. Two relationships are given a hard look here: Giles/Buffy and Giles/Jenny. Since “Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01], the former has been largely a teacher/student dynamic, but I really think “The Dark Age” marks an important shift to that of a surrogate father/daughter dynamic. The latter — Giles/Jenny — is, of course, one of friendship and budding romance. There’s also a third relationship to take into consideration: that of Giles with his past.

Learning about Giles’ rebellious youth, thus revealing him to have a duality of spirit, furthers the echoes of Janus from “Halloween” [2×06] even more. Buffy’s last word to Giles in “Lie to Me” [2×07] was “liar” — quite foretelling of what happens in “The Dark Age”. It turns out that Giles had quite the youth, one in which he dropped out of school and experimented with mystical forms of drugs (“it was an extraordinary high”) with a group that included Ethan Rayne, our cheery chaos worshiper.

The metaphor of Eyghon — the demon the group would summon into one of them — is brilliant, really. Phonetically, it reads as ‘I gone’, meaning the loss of self. When Giles describes his past he says that one member of the group “lost control,” which is how Eyghon took control of and ending up killing him. This is a fairly mature look at the cause and effect of hard drugs, but done through metaphor, which is what Buffy generally does very well when it manages to avoid being too transparent (i.e. heavy-handed) — something “The Dark Age” mostly succeeds at. The great thing about “The Dark Age” is that it’s not content to hold its gaze on the drug metaphor — it digs much deeper by exploring how poor decisions in the past end up haunting Giles throughout his life and are now negatively impacting those closest to him.

Although this information certainly makes Giles a more complex character, it also serves as a lesson to Buffy: don’t ever lose complete control of yourself. It’s both dangerous and a distraction from her calling to mature into the best person she can be. Buffy will suffer soon because she doesn’t fully absorb this lesson. As we will increasingly see in the coming episodes, Buffy begins to lose herself in Angel. The loss of self, whether from loneliness, sex, drugs, puppy love, or anything else, is never good, particularly outside the confines of childhood.

This message is greatly enhanced by the demon’s characteristics: Giles doesn’t know how to get rid of it without killing Jenny and it can only enter people when they are dead or unconscious, thus mirroring real life (i.e. when something takes over, consciousness, or a sense of self, inevitably vanishes). How they defeat Eyghon is smart: they force the demon into Angel, a guy who’s been there before, wrestles with a guilty past, and has a demon inside of him every day. Only he has the strength of self and history to control the demon within. Very cool!

As I hinted at before, another key message is that actions can have unforeseen consequences that may only become revealed later in life. In this case, Giles’ past is literally coming back to haunt him. It’s interesting that he did this to rebel against his “destiny” of being a Watcher. Perhaps this is why he often overcompensates with Buffy about duty, and will come to be very concerned about Willow’s dive into magic soon (thus very subtly setting up their conflict in Season 6). We see Giles drinking too much and slacking off his responsibilities — the latter being the very thing he often criticizes Buffy for. Even worse, his old problems end up transferring onto people her cares about, such as when Eyghon jumps into Jenny and Ethan tattoos the symbol onto Buffy.

Speaking of Jenny, who began “The Dark Age” poking at Giles’ stoic exterior but hinting at something a little more sexual, she discovers that Giles isn’t entirely the man she thought he was. As much as people would like to wash away their past, it informs who they are and where they came from. This is vital information to absorb during the early phases of a relationship, so I entirely understand why Jenny needs to space to determine whether Giles is right for her. (If only Buffy would take a little more time to absorb what she learned about Angel in “Lie to Me” [2×07].) We know, in retrospect, though, that Jenny’s not being entirely honest either.

Putting aside the complications Giles and Jenny have for a moment, I’m the first to admit that they make a fun couple to watch. Even considering the fact that these two are taking things refreshingly slow — and it’s a good thing they did — discovering these hidden truths is still a huge disappointment. When Eyghon perverts Jenny’s affections (“sexy fuddy-duddy”) into something grotesque and purely carnal, Giles knows his past has caused a rift in this relationship. It’s interesting that when Jenny is possessed, Giles slumps even further into helplessness. It’s not until he gets a vision of Buffy in danger that he forces himself out of his slumber to help. This restates just how important Buffy is to Giles — more so than anyone else — despite their apparent differences.

The teaser, with Buffy “aerobicizing” to what Giles characterizes as “noise” (I can sympathize), is meant to re-emphasize how these two are from different worlds. This is very purposeful because it sets up how “The Dark Age” humanizes Giles in Buffy’s eyes — it makes him seem less robotic and gives her some perspective. This is strengthened shortly afterward when Buffy, Willow, and Xander all joke about how Giles must have “lived for school” when he was young. No matter how frustrated Giles can get with Buffy sometimes, “The Dark Age” enlightens us to what he was like as an adolescent, which helps him be more warm and patient with her going forward.

Thematically, Buffy seeing Giles at his worst is akin to finding out that a parent isn’t the flawless hero they are often thought of as a child. Giles has been so rock-solid to this point that seeing him unkempt and forgetful is scary to Buffy, as his what she learns of his own adolescence. No child likes seeing their parents becoming unhinged, and coming face-to-face with this is yet another milestone of adolescence for most people.

In order for a parent to be a good role model they have to demonstrate healthy ways to deal with adversity and be humble enough to actively work on their flaws. This quality is present in the best parents out there. ‘Not being perfect’, though, isn’t an excuse for refusing to improve, just as ‘being an adolescent’ isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a get-out-of-jail-free card for behaving immaturely. (As a side note, I wish more adolescents would realize that being “rebellious” at that age is ironically one of the biggest clichés out there, which makes the whole endeavor almost comically self-defeating and hypocritical.)

By the end of “The Dark Age” Giles isn’t sure if Jenny can forgive him, or if he even should be forgiven. Buffy gracefully gives him permission to forgive himself. This is a healthy response, because forgiveness is often required to heal, learn, and move on. This entire exchange will become prophetic come “Innocence” [2×14] and especially “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19], where forgiveness begins to become more central to the season’s themes. The final scene in “The Dark Age” is a really nice grace note to end the episode on: Buffy is beginning to see Giles as more than just an authority figure — she’s beginning to see him as a person and as a surrogate father, but with faults and flaws all of his own.

As much as there is to appreciate in what “The Dark Age” has to say, its basic execution is simply too flawed for me to excuse — nearly everything feels really sloppy, despite the solid script. For most of its running time, “The Dark Age” also suffers from brutal pacing that brings back memories of Season 1 and its attempts to create suspense by dragging out scenes that showcase cheesy and impotent villains. Some examples of this include Phillip in the teaser and the scene where Eyghon takes control of Phillip in the morgue. Why is everyone so scared of a demon that walks about as fast as a single old-school staggering zombie? Rather than suspense, all it ends up generating is the occasional eye-roll and the thirty-second yawn.

Giles’ flashback nightmares are schlocky as well, what with the on-the-nose music cue and constant flashes — these really needed to come off as genuinely unsettling. There are several instances of really sloppy editing, such as the scene where Eyghon jumps into Jenny through the liquid that magically disappears between cuts. The whole episode feels disjointed and unprofessional, which really hurts what “The Dark Age” is trying to get across and occasionally pushes its themes to spill into heavy-handed territory.

Despite all of these flaws, “The Dark Age” is sharply written with yet more excellent moral lessons for both the characters and the viewer to chew on. It also deepens our understanding of Giles and his relationship with Buffy and Jenny. Additionally, the themes will again prove to be quite resonant in the episodes to come. This is a tough one to evaluate, but overall it’s a mixed bag. Great writing; poor execution.

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Giles quoting Shakespeare — “and the rest is silence” — when Buffy turns off her music. Then Phillip gets killed!
+ Willow, speaking of Jenny and Giles, saying, “Can’t you imagine the two of them getting together?” The reaction quickly morphs from ‘totally’ to ‘ewww’ in less than a second. Heh.
+ Cordelia’s all smiling and ready to help Giles, but Buffy doesn’t know how Cordelia can help. While funny, it’s also a reflection of Buffy’s feeling of helplessness to deal with Giles’ situation.
+ Every time Willow gets excited over research, I inexplicably get excited too. Go Alyson Hannigan!
+ More Xander and Cordelia tension. They’re one step away from kissing each other. Oh, yeah, “What’s My Line? Pt. 1” [2×09] is next.
+ Willow showing off the recent confidence boost she got from “Halloween” [2×06] by putting Xander and Cordelia in their places. Awesome.
+ Angel more actively puts himself in the fire here, which further ingratiates him to the Scoobies. This will end up making his upcoming change hurt all that much more.

– Phillip’s incredibly lame lack-of-an-attempt to escape Eyghon or fight back in the teaser.
– Buffy’s self-narration over what’s happening outside the hospital. Is that really necessary?
– The only students having to attend Jenny’s Saturday computer class are Xander, Willow, and Cordelia? Really?
– Buffy hitting Ethan in the face does next to nothing to him. Huh?
– That one hit from a small plank would knock Buffy out is simply inconsistent from what we’ve seen before and will see later.


Foreshadowing

* Eyghon, while possessing Jenny, asks Giles “was it good for you?” Angelus will ask a very similar question to Buffy — on a wall, written in blood — in “Innocence” [2×14].
* Angel grabs Jenny’s neck to get Eyghon out of her. In “Passion” [2×17], Angelus will snap that very same neck.


[Score]

74/100

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40 thoughts on “Buffy 2×08: The Dark Age”

  1. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on April 9, 2007.]

    I wanted to add another minus to this episode for the ending (pre-Giles). Buffy is complaining about having to remove that tattoo before her mom sees it… so why is she wearing a low collared top that exposes the back of her neck?? She looks a little dumb.

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  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 10, 2007.]

    This is a very average episode. I agree that this one has pacing problems and the demon is kinda poor but this is always good to rewatch because of the wonderful dialogue and character interaction.

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  3. [Note: Andrew posted this comment on January 7, 2008.]

    Well, it’s definitely better than Reptile Boy.

    Re: Buffy hitting Ethan- consider that perhaps Buffy didn’t really wan’t to knock him down with blow- after all she wasn’t trying to kill him, just get him to tell her what the hell he was doing there. She was pulling her punch, in other words.

    Re: Ethan hitting Buffy- she *really* wasn’t expecting to be hit (perhaps she should have been, but Buffy is from time to time a bit naive), and Ethan has (for whatever reason) made a practice of knocking people out. Had she been facing him and spoiling for a fight, I’d agree, that would have made no sense at all, but I didn’t find it particularly unlikely.

    I would agree with the more general observation that Buffy’s strength and resiliance seem to vary quite a bit in response to the plot over the series as a whole, and that the latter was perhaps at a bit of a low ebb just there.

    I love Ethan as a character. There are loads of characters to love in Buffy; Ethan is one of many, but he *is* fun.

    Philip doesn’t run from the demon because he’s battering on the door to get in, gambling on someone opening it, and by the time it’s obvious that no one will, it’s too late to get away. Giles doesn’t run because he’s reeling in shock having just had his girlfriend turn into a demon and is additionally in a very bad way physically and being beaten up by a demon into the bargain. My only query here would be why Ethan didn’t dash off as soon as the demon starting attacking Buffy in the final action scene, given we know he’s a coward and he does run off anyway, only *after* Angel deals with the demon.

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  4. [Note: OtterBear posted this comment on January 7, 2008.]

    I agree, it is interesting to get a glimpse into Giles’s youth, but just not executed as well as it could have been.

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  5. [Note: Paula posted this comment on November 13, 2008.]

    I actually like this episode quite a bit, although the demon plottage is certainly average at best. What no one ever explains is what the demon has been doing all this time and why it suddenly just appeared again after those twenty years.

    One thing I wondered about when I first saw this episode, and actually still wonder about, is whether Angel was at the hospital to help save the blood delivery, or, well, steal some of it for his own use. Wasn’t he shown to have some medical blood bags in his fridge back in “Angel”? Later (S3) he’s shown buying blood at a slaughterhouse, but at this point in the show I’m not really sure how ethical he is about his own blood supply as long as he doesn’t downright “eat people”.

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  6. [Note: Emily posted this comment on February 16, 2009.]

    Paula, I don’t think Angel was there to steal blood. He was probably there to protect it from being stolen, and bumped into Buffy, who was there doing the same thing. The one issue I have here is that they’re a couple, right? So why isn’t there more communication between them? Why isn’t he with her on patrol/blood bags watch? He’s with her in later episodes- why not here? Then again, with Ethan- why didn’t she invite Angel to come to Ethan’s with her? He would’ve been able to watch her back. The lack of communication between them is very inconsistent with other episodes.

    I’d also like to point out that in the previous episode, “Lie to Me,” Giles is the one “lying” to Buffy at the end. Here, it’s Buffy who’s telling Giles the truth: “I’m not going to lie to you, it was scary.”

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  7. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 6, 2009.]

    More Willow in charge goodness! I love how she was the only one to come up with the solution to the problem. The opening sequence was good, too, the the game of Anywhere But Here and the speculation on how Giles was at their age.

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  8. [Note: Lucy posted this comment on August 6, 2009.]

    Thank you Paula! It drives me crazy that there’s absolutely no explanation as to where the demon has been since it killed the boy 20 years ago. When Giles is crossing people off his list, there are only 5 names there. Surely it didn’t take 20 years to track down Deirdre and Philip?

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  9. [Note: Smallprint84 posted this comment on March 7, 2010.]

    Hey, some more indirect foreshadowing:

    In Giles’s appartment, the possessed Jenny says to Giles: “I’ve got you UNDER MY SKIN”. Later in AtS the same called S1 episode “I’ve got you under my skin”, the same thing happens. A person is possessed by a demon and has to be exorcised.

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  10. [Note: StateOfSiege posted this comment on June 5, 2010.]

    The book Jenny borrowed from Giles is thematically significant, as Forster dealt with issues of identity, class, and repressed sexuality in the waning years of the British Empire.

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  11. [Note: Seán posted this comment on August 18, 2010.]

    Did anyone notice Cordelia telling Xander that he needed “a year supply of acne cream”. WTF?! Xander’s skin is completely devoid of spots. I think with this show, they like to make out that characters are ugly or nerdy or perfectly average and flawed looking when although they cast your typical sexy Hollywood actor or actress.

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  12. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on September 19, 2010.]

    Wow I liked this a lot more than most people did. Prolly because I glide over stupid plot parts, like demon not around for 20 years and then going into overdrive. And sure BtVS baddies doing the Batman thing and not killing their victims when they get the chance, instead waiting JUST long enough for the white hats to arrive, yeah that’s stupid. But it happens every other episode, so I’m not fighting that battle either. Comes with the show.

    See, I’m loving the series leaving behind brightly colored Scoobies chase random monster that’s eating people, and moving into a darker hue. Giles struggling to face up to his uncomfortable past, Jenny being truly hurt by the experience, the evolution of the Giles-Buffy relationship such that temporarily Buffy is Giles’s leader, all great stuff. Also enjoy how Cordelia oh-so-gradually is sliding into Scoobiedom, without foregoing all that makes her our delightful Cordelia. Very well written.

    And of course many funny parts, and of course … Bad Jenny! I’d swap the entire 2 hours of Inca Mummy and Reptile Boy for 30 seconds of watching Jenny writhing in Giles’s lap. Yowsa.

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  13. [Note: Michael Carruthers posted this comment on September 19, 2010.]

    This episode is one that gets worse with every viewing. It’s nice that they expand Giles’ character, but more time developing Giles and looking into his troubled past would’ve been better than a silly, non-sensical demon subplot.

    I agree that the episode has serious pacing issues, and would probably knock it down to a 59/100.

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  14. [Note: CoyoteBuffyFan posted this comment on February 18, 2011.]

    I like this episode a lot. I think I would have gone with a B.

    Cheers to the real introduction of Cordelia as a Scoobie. This is the first episode where she tries to help where she isn’t the one in trouble, I believe (her unsolicited but spot on advice to Buffy in When She Was Bad notwithstanding). This was also one of the first times where you can tell that the fighting between Xander and Cordy could become attraction (when they are screaming nose to nose in the library). At least I felt it. And Willow’s cute yelling reprimand is great.

    I love the notion of Giles as kind of a rebel. Upon the first viewing, it was quite shocking to see Giles with a tattoo, never mind a tattoo that is linked to witchcraft and demons!

    It was also unnerving to see Giles so unnerved and disheveled. Even in the face of all the dangers that came before, Giles still was always buttoned up tight. Here we see him a little sloppy and drinking. This is again a tribute to the show. Although they might have been a little two dimensional with him up until now (well, at least up until Halloween), I think it was intentional so that we are more disturbed by the difference of Giles in this episode. I think it’s fantastically done.

    Not well done was the “melting” of the people into goo. But I won’t let that ruin the episode for me.

    I also love how they come to appreciate how hard Giles’ job is when they had to deal with Eighon on their own. Couple that with the fact that they actually realize that Giles is human, new found respect was gained, I believe.

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  15. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 12, 2011.]

    Oh and regarding Buffy’s strength and ability i think the reason that Ethan wasn’t to injured when she punched him is because she can control her inherent abilities, she knew Ethan was human and so super slayer not needed.

    With her being knocked out in this episode and in others may have something to do with her abilities growing. She has all the power within her but slayers need training otherwise watchers wouldn’t serve a big purpose. Plus Season five Buffy asks Giles to help her learn more about what it is to be the slayer.

    Those are the reasons i came up with to answer all queries regarding Slayer- Buffy’s development.

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  16. [Note: Tofik the vampire posted this comment on December 5, 2012.]

    Yes, this episode is mix bag. I like Giles’s character development and that somday in the past he also was irresponsible youngster. I like Ethan Rayne as a villain I like that demon created atmosphere of horror and suspense. What I didn’t like – and I’m wonder why no one mentioned this! – is huge plot hole in this episode. WHY NO ONE EVER JUST TRY TO REMOVE MARK OF EYGHON WHEN DEMON IS SO EASY TO DECEIVED? I mean if you need another human to tattoo mark on him/her then for sure Ethan wouldn’t have problem with kidnapping someone and sacrificing him to Eyghon. This doesn’t make any sense. And I agree about Buffy being largely helpless in this episode, this is classical case of dumbass in distress disorder or distress ball: “When a writer needs to have a character put in trouble so she (and it’s almost always “she”) can be rescued, they will sometimes have characters act in ways that serve the needs of the plot rather than their own characterization or common sense” Also it can be case of plot induced stupidity:”When a character has the Idiot Ball slipped into their pocket while they weren’t looking, causing them to forget to properly use their abilities or powers to stop a bad guy or get out of a situation, even though they may have used the ability in similar situations before (often many times” There is no way that Buffy could be knocked down so easily and that all it takes to restrain her is one, small rope. Wher was super strength and super super endurance?

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  17. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 15, 2012.]

    I like this… the look into Giles reckless past… getting high via magick… he’s not perfect. A great foreshadowing to Xander and Cordelia’s relationship with them yelling at each other, about to fight. Xander has a lot of great lines.

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  18. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on August 6, 2013.]

    In my opinion a big flaw in this episode reminds me of the same flaw that plagued season 6, the use of magic as a drug to get high. It’s kind of lame… If they wouldn’t use such a heavy-handed metaphor, this episode and the Willow episodes in season 6 would be a lot better…
    However, I do appreciate the connection between the past-Giles and the future-Willow, and it could be why Giles saw what was happening to Willow before anyone else… 🙂

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  19. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 10, 2013.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. In light of this, references to the old review have been edited out of the the above comments.

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  20. [Note: Josh Man posted this comment on August 19, 2013.]

    One of the reasons this episode has garnered more respect for me is how important this storyline has become to the ongoing series (ie the comic books). Interesting to re-watch this episode after the events in Angel and Faith in regards to Giles and his past. I highly recommend season 8 and 9 for those who haven’t read them if you were a fan of the show.

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  21. [Note: danny posted this comment on December 15, 2013.]

    I really don’t like this episode for some reason, i love giles but i always find that this episode can never keep my attention.

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  22. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on February 10, 2014.]

    Phillip has been chased across continents fleeing a relentless creature wearing his friends body. He could never sleep or rest for what might have been months. Giles was his only hope. He was already done at the point we see him. Remember these folks are adepts in,magic, he knew without Rupert and the slayer he was done. And yes, I assume that he knew that Giles was watcher for the slayer. Didn’t Ethan show up for this reason. (Also Ethan puts Buffy back on her path just when she starts yearning for conventional femininity. This was a lesson she needed. Note that, he applauds her manliness!). The demon was already on the rampage by the time he arrived in Sunnydale, and he makes a beeline for Giles and Buffy. Removing the tattoo was not a permanent solution, only a dodge to confuse in the short term, Buffy,or so he thought, was the only final solution.

    We also get more insight into Cordelia. I think too many fans forget that Cordelia is one of the four main protagonists of the buffyverse. (The show was called Angel, but from a literary sense, Cordelia is the protagonist. She grows and changes. She is the link to the visions. A role she keeps even after Angel goes off mission. I think the gangs refusal to help Angel save Fred is because they are furious at him for what he let happen to Cordy without telling them!!! After all isn’t Angel’s number one mission in LA to look after her??? Certainly the gang would have seen it that way.). We see in this episode that Cordy is a VERY GOOD person. She joins the Scoobies and gives away her social power and status to do so. She cares about Buffy in an unselfish way – Willow and Zander are dependent on Buffy and it shows at times. Cordy keeps Buffy from getting too full of herself. iFunny, Willow is sort of the mediator between Buffy and Cordy and it comes thru in this episode. When Cordy leaves, Willow’s relationship with Buffy slowly becomes unhealthy boiling over in Season 6. It is a testament to the show that it is impossible to imagine the events of seasons 4-6 taking place as they did if Cordy had stayed. The alienation of season 4 – Cordy would have cut thru that in a heartbeat. Riley going off the reservation in Season 5 in the face of Buffy’s self absorption – oh no she would have been all over both of them. And Buffy’s self pity and Willow’s descent into addictions to her newfound power – NO WAY. she would have cut thru that with a few well timed painfully honest insights.

    That is why Cordy and Zander are meant for each other. They know one another completely and at their respective worst and they still fall in,love. Zander never knew Anya as a vengeance demon, and when he was forced to confront her past he recoiled. Cordy he knew and loved. They both DID see the specialness inside. He was the only man who could take her as the powerful woman she was, and only she could appreciate that he was both brave and weak and imperfect and very worthy of,love. Worthy of sacrificing her false social power for her true power – the ability see and call out the truth no matter the cost. A great power. The sacred arrow. The romance with Angel was not ever meant to be and in the fake dream in Angel it is still Buffy’s name that Angel calls out in extremis as he loses his soul again.

    Sorry for the ramble!!!

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  23. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 11, 2014.]

    By what assessment would you classify Cordelia as one of the four main characters in the Buffyverse? I’d put her behind Buffy, Spike, Willow and Wes at least in terms of show prioritization.

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  24. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 12, 2014.]

    Oh, I’d say she’s definitely behind Spike. He gets a great deal of focus in BtVS S5 through S6 and in AtS S5, whereas Cordy is a background character in BtVS and is always less important than Angel on that show.

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  25. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on February 12, 2014.]

    While she was less important on Buffy, I would say she was just as important on Angel (far more so than Spike) as Spike was on Buffy. Also, to argue your last point (‘…[Cordelia] is always less important than Angel on that show.”), you could say the same thing about Buffy and Spike. Buffy was always more important than the other characters (including Spike). Whether you wish believe it or not, while the other characters on Buffy get a lot of attention, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (as it says in the title) is centrally about Buffy just like Angel is about Angel.

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  26. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on February 12, 2014.]

    I know Buffy was always more important than Spike but he was definitely the principal supporting character along with Willow, for series 5, 6, 7. That’s three seasons worth of importance, which is the same as what Cordelia got on Angel. Then he also appears as a main character in Angel S5.

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  27. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on February 12, 2014.]

    On Buffy I see it as, Buffy (of course), Giles, Willow and Xander both (the core four), then Spike… On Angel I see it as Angel (duh), Cordelia, Wesley, and so on… Also Cordelia got three seasons on Buffy as a series regular behind her before her run on Angel… it’s a close one, but I think Cordelia is a little more main character-ish than Spike, in my opinion. Honestly though, I can see it either way…

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  28. [Note: B.R. posted this comment on February 12, 2014.]

    Cordelia is definitly a more important character than Spike is in the Buffyverse. Don’t get me wrong, Spike is my favorite character in the entire Buffyverse and possibly of all time, but to say that Spike is a more important character than Cordelia? Pfft.. not even close.

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  29. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on February 13, 2014.]

    I honestly really can’t say anymore… Cordelia was there for Angel as Spike was there for Buffy. They were both very important in keeping the lead character of the two separate shows grounded. If it weren’t for Spike, Buffy (the character) would have either completely fallen apart in season 6 or been left isolated permanently from the rest of the gang i season 7. Also, Spike gave his life to save the world. Furthermore, Spike was on both shows. I’m gonna say Spike was very important. Cordelia was one of the people that kept Angel grounded in season 1. She was his main connection to the Powers that Be from the second half of season one and all the way through season 3. She kept him from getting too miserable (with the exception of what happened in the middle of season 2) and was really the only true friend Angel had (I say “true” as in they didn’t really keep secrets from each other, which allowed them to open up to each other). Cordelia also played a pivotal role in Angel’s decision to take down the Circle of the Black Thorn. She was also around on both shows. So, as you can see, Cordelia and Spike were pretty damn important, and I actually can’t say that one is more important than the other so… yeah… 🙂

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  30. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on February 13, 2014.]

    I didn’t think my suggestion was controversial. Buffy/Angel (they are clearly one story told on two fronts-Whedon goes out of his way to keep that at the forefront of our minds by reminding us that the shows are time-synchronized) is about three young women growing up: Buffy, Cordy, Willow. They are even given names that suggest their paths. Buffy=strength of mind and body – a warrior. Cordelia=truth teller – gifted with visions of the truth. Willow=yielding but unbreakable – deep magic and connection to the earth. The other characters exist in relation to those women, including Zander and Giles and Angel and Spike. All this is made clear in the very first episode. Buffy bonds first with Cordy, but then is moved by pity for Willow to choose a different path – one that sees power as something used to protect the weak not control them. Her act eventually results in pulling Cordelia onto the right path. Hasn’t anyone else noted the significance of the fact that Willow appears to have relationships with Buffy and Cordy that are weirdly separate from one another.

    All thee women are chosen and given gifts of power that can be used to destroy the world or save it. The story is about how they chose the right path with many detours along the way.

    Whedon is a very educated and clever guy. He held the entire story in his head from the beginning and stuck through it despite the vagaries of real life and series television.

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  31. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on December 16, 2014.]

    Yes, I also love Alyson Hannigan and when Willow puts Xander and Cordelia in their place, I always cheer quite loudly.

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  32. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on March 18, 2015.]

    I was kind of disappointed in two things with this episode:

    1) That Giles “secrets” were revealed so shortly after they were implied to exist in “Halloween.”

    2) And possibly more importantly, I feel this is the first of only a handful of misguided misdirection attempts (the most notable being Spike at the end of Season 6). Giles came across very “dark” to say the least in “Halloween” during his confrontation with Ethan. One scene also saw him staring rather subtly cynical into the camera, leading me to believe he had some other agenda in mind at that time. Instead, we find out it’s just a terrible young adult decision he and friends made during their rebellious youth phase.

    That being said, I certainly see where the episode is thematically sound. Relationships grow, dynamics change, and that’s always a good thing. The metaphor and symbolism works with just the right amount of subtlety. So really my only complaint is what I interpreted as misdirection several episodes earlier.

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  33. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on March 18, 2015.]

    I agree with you Path. The ending of Halloween gave Giles a real dark edge and the payoff here wasn’t nearly as good. I’m not sure how they would have included these dark Giles elements into the season or the series but it could have been better. Even keeping things secret probably would have worked out ok.

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  34. [Note: thebuffster posted this comment on July 26, 2015.]

    Hey Mike! Quick question, do comments get deleted if they are eventually incorporated into your reviews or the pros/cons, foreshadowing section? Anyways love the reviews, I read them after every episode 🙂

    Like

  35. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on July 27, 2015.]

    Not generally. Comments only get deleted if they reference something that no longer exists in an updated review. 🙂

    Like

  36. [Note: MichaelJB posted this comment on September 2, 2015.]

    Excellent review, as ever! I was interested that you saw the development in this episode of the Giles/Buffy relationship as the first hints of the father/daughter relationship that they will eventually share. To me, this episode showed them more as equals – like Buffy, Giles too once fled from his responsibility and destiny. Giles did not want to be a watcher (at least initially), any more than Buffy wanted to be the slayer. Both had their destiny thrust upon them, and each eventually picked up the mantle – but only after their individual rebellions.

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  37. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 4, 2015.]

    They were hinting at Giles’ overall background in ‘Halloween’, not what we find out in this episode. Eyghon and Giles’ old circle of magical friends were only part of it. Ethan calls him ‘Ripper’, but he didn’t earn that nickname lightly. He didn’t have the sudden explosion of violence towards Ethan just because they once summoned a demon together, even if it did kill someone. It hints at something far deeper in Giles, a version of himself that he’s long since distanced himself from. Ethan even says that the real Giles isn’t the Watcher and that Ethan knows who he really is. I always found it chilling when Ethan simply says ‘they really don’t know, do they? What you’re capable of?’

    Giles taps into this more violent version of himself when he goes after Angelus in ‘Passion’ and does quite well. It actually ties in quite well with Willow’s reaction to a loved-ones’ death in ‘Villains’. Grief and anger can do extraordinary things to people. Willow’s reaction was more complete because unlike Giles she actually had the power to kill those she held responsible.

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