Buffy 4×12: A New Man

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Jane Espenson | Director: Michael Gershman | Aired: 01/25/2000]

This is the first episode since “The Dark Age” [2×08] that is pretty heavily focused on Giles. I also feel it is a fair amount more successful, mainly because as silly as the plot of this is, it’s not inconsistent like the one in “The Dark Age” [2×08] . Some interesting character insights come clearly through though. It’s Buffy’s birthday (which is never fun), Giles is feeling neglected, Buffy and Riley continue their relationship and some foreshadowing of its failure comes into play, and Willow has begun actively hiding her meetings with Tara from Buffy.

Giles’ feelings of confusion over what to do with his life have been continuously shown since the beginning of the season (in “The Freshman” [4×01] Buffy even told him, “Okay, remember before you became Hugh Hefner, when you used to be a watcher?”). In this episode, at least for a while, feeling neglected is added to his list of woes and actually begins to get him down. We see all of his problems brought to the surface here, and it all starts at Buffy’s surprise birthday party. It’s interesting to think back two years and remember that she also had a surprise party in, well, “Surprise” [2×13] and ended up losing her virginity to Angel who then lost his soul. Her and Riley are getting pretty close here as well. Anyway, Giles explains to her that the ‘surprise’ part wasn’t his idea and that he wanted to go with something more personal (which is exactly what he wanted back in “Dead Man’s Party” [3×02] for her return party). But this time he has a more personal motive to want it to be just the gang: he knows he’s going to have nothing to do. At the same time exactly that is happening, Buffy surprises Giles with the news that she’s got a new boyfriend.

This news very much makes Giles feel out of the loop, and rightly so. Later on, while searching for Buffy, he has a chat with Professor Walsh. She tells him that “Buffy clearly lacks a strong father figure.” This directly insults Giles and his relationship with Buffy. He calls Buffy a ‘girl’ while Professor Walsh calls her a ‘woman.’ This even further underscores Giles’ fatherly love for her. Parents often have a hard time seeing their children grow up and to some degree always see them as a child. Giles is certainly in this mindset until S7 when he finally accepts Buffy as a woman, rather than a girl who needs parental advice. Admittedly, this is a rough transition (see “Lies My Parents Told Me” [7×17] ).

After getting lost at the university (haha) Giles, Willow, and Xander all head to a monastery where they expect to find a newly-risen demon. The demon’s not there and conversation between the three begins. This is where Giles finds out that Riley’s a commando and that Professor Walsh is head of the Initiative. He’s literally flabbergasted by this news. Hearing that Spike knew before him doesn’t help matters in the slightest either. With all of these feelings of neglect and uselessness being forced to the surface, Giles decides to drown his sorrows with an amusing newly returned Ethan and some, what do you know, beer (I think we got the message the first time ME, thanks). During this conversation Ethan spouts off some nonsense about demons knowing something about ‘314’ and that the demons are all scared. Wait a second. How do any demons know about 314? All the demons that are operated on in there are already dead!

This brings me to my primary problem with this episode: the plot. Giles gets turned into a demon by Ethan and then goes running around town being extremely hokey. I’ve got to admit that I found a few of these scenes entertaining, especially when Spike enters the picture, but I honestly found myself bored through most of the rest of the episode. The plot does end on a satisfactory note, though, when Buffy stabs Demon Giles and then realizes it’s actually him because of the look in his eyes. This is a really nice way for her to prove to him that she still greatly knows, needs, and cares about him without getting overly explicit about it. At the very least, Giles’ feelings of neglect from Buffy can be put away. It’s important to note that his uselessness is still very much present, and the events of this episode only bring that to Giles’ attention even more. This is another piece leading up to the moment he plans to tell Buffy he’s heading back to England (“Buffy vs. Dracula” [5×01] ).

There are two other relationships being developed along the sidelines in this episode as well: Buffy/Riley and Willow/Tara. There’s a vital scene where Buffy is lightly ‘training’ with Riley and taking it easy on him. He tells her not to hold back, so she kicks him across the room. The look on Riley’s face when Buffy runs over and looks down at him to ask him if he’s alright says everything. That look, a look of complete embarassment and inadequacy, will be Riley’s primary issue with Buffy their whole relationship! He says he likes how she takes charge and has a lot of power at the end, but this isn’t true. He’s diluding himself into believing he can get over the fact that she’s much stronger than him. Riley’s an old-fashioned guy and wants to be the physically strong one to protect his girl — it’s just who he is and how he was raised. These issues are brought to the surface and explored in detail at the beginning of S5, but the hint of what’s to come was placed here.

Willow and Tara’s secret magic meetings also begin here. They perform a cool spell together and Willow later directly hides the fact she was with someone else from Buffy and the gang. This episode represents the beginning of the big separations the group will be facing over the second half of the season. Willow is separated more and more from the group because of Tara, while Buffy is separated because of her infatuation with Riley, Xander is still jumping from job to job with no direction, and Giles is continually lonely. Anyway, this episode had some good character development and foreshadowing along with a mediocre plot. Not bad, but not great either. The character-related material, once again, completely outshines the plot.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Buffy and Riley’s reaction to the surprise party. She slowly lowers her stake in confusion and Riley sneaks in from the back with a crossbow. Very funny.
+ Buffy talking up Professor Walsh to Giles, which of course only makes him feel more useless.
+ Spike expresses some light angst about Buffy not showing up to “shed a few tears” over him moving into a new crypt.
+ Giles interrupting Ethan’s big “I’m back speech.” I love how this series plays around with cliches.
+ Xander’s reaction to Demon Giles. 🙂
+ Spike helping Giles for cash and then later making fun of his car (which gets smashed).
+ Buffy giving orders to Riley instead of the other way around.
+ Giles scaring Professor Walsh just for the fun of it, right after his speech about having a concious. haha.
+ Professor Walsh making fun of Riley’s hokey “she’s the truest soul I’ve ever known.”


* Spike and Anya are really friendly to each other in this episode. Both of them make fun of Xander’s apartment and Anya even wants to give him a moving-in present! This seems to subtley continue in the next couple seasons and leads up to the point where they have sex in “Entropy” [6×18] after being essentially ‘dumped’ by their partners.
* Anya’s distaste for Xander’s apartment. This comes to a head in “The Replacement” [5×03].
* Giles says to Professor Walsh, “I think it’s best if-if… if we let a young person find their own strengths. If you lead a child by the hand then they’ll never find their own footing.” This opinion of Giles comes out very bluntly when he decides to move back to England in “Tabula Rasa” [6×08] so Buffy’s can “find her own footing.” He sings about this very topic in “Once More, with Feeling” [6×07].
* Buffy kicks Riley across the room while training. His initial reaction is that of complete inadequacy, which is a major reason why his relationship with Buffy never works. He’s never able to get over being physically inferior to her. “Out of My Mind” [5×04] begins to directly address this issue.




54 thoughts on “Buffy 4×12: A New Man”

  1. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on November 6, 2007.]

    It´s really cool to see the amount of hints we get of the soon to be failed relationship of Buffy and Riley. Riley is truly uncomfortable with her strentgh.


  2. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 31, 2008.]

    The demons that are operated on in 314 may still be alive (they’re trying to transplant things off them, for instance). In any case, these are *demons*: merely being dead might not slow them down. Perhaps a demon with telepathy or something got caught and got the word out.


  3. [Note: Dale posted this comment on January 28, 2009.]

    I love after the visit to Prof. Walsh, when Riley finishes his big spiel on how many times Buffy’s saved the world with an earnest “I’m not even sure if I could take you!” Hehehe, dream on.


  4. [Note: Emily posted this comment on May 8, 2009.]

    I know it’s been said that the training session with Riley and Buffy is a foreshadowing to the reason for their breakup, but I just want to drive the point home by comparing it to her training sessions with Angel. They were pretty much evenly matched. That’s the only person throughout the whole series who complements her while they’re training. I mean, even with Spike, does she ever actually train with him? I don’t think so. if anyone does remember, please post it up.

    All I’m saying is that the only one who was ever able to train with her and come out a whole man (well, not really man, because he’s a vampire) was Angel.


  5. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 12, 2009.]

    Emily, your Bangel-bias is showing!

    I don’t remember her ever really training with Angel either – usually Giles and occasionally with Xander as the punching bag.

    She engages in other kinds of “training” with Spike, though…


  6. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 12, 2009.]

    There was definitely something training-like going on in S3 (or, rather, sparring). The sparring sessions were obviously not-very-well-sublimated replacements for something else, but they were still there.

    (Security code: ‘SUCK’. The power of random.)


  7. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 12, 2009.]

    I thought of those, but wouldn’t really qualify it as training so much as what you pointed out – a substitution. I don’t think you can jump from their sparring sessions to this conclusion: “the only one who was ever able to train with her and come out a whole man was Angel”. And to be honest, I was mostly just teasing Emily for her blatant and unapologetic Angel-love.


  8. [Note: Emily posted this comment on June 21, 2009.]

    Shannon, yes, I am completely and totally Bangel-y. It’s actually what got me watching the show a second time and third time- by that time, I began to really look deeper into the show, and that’s how I came to this site!

    Seriously, though, Buffy does train with other people, including Angel (like Nix said, see: S3), and he’s the only person who’s ever able to match her. Just because it’s a substitution doesn’t mean they didn’t train. I mean, prove it to me if I’m wrong (I don’t like to be proven wrong :), but I also don’t like to be completely biased in my love of the Bangel relationship).


  9. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 9, 2009.]

    I like this episode for the interaction between Giles and Ethan. (Ethan Rayne is always a guarantee of fun!) and I can’t help but love the line:

    Giles: (faltering voice) You know what gets me? This is what gets me. Twenty years I’ve been fighting demons. Maggie Walsh and her Nancy-ninja boys come in and six months later, demons are pissing themselves with fear. They never even noticed me.

    Plus Demon Giles chasing Maggie is absolutely priceless!


  10. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on July 9, 2009.]

    Emily, it’s cool, I get it. I’m not saying they didn’t train together or that Angel wasn’t capable of holding his own, just that you were drawing some pretty sweeping conclusions from some casual sparring sessions. You’re trying to prove that Angel is the only match for Buffy by referencing these “training” sessions, when I don’t think that’s the point of those scenes. The B/A sparring scenes are intended to show the frustration of their repressed sexual relationship, not to prove anything about how perfect they are for each other (which is kinda what you’re trying to say). Spike and Buffy didn’t have to “train” because they could actually act upon their physical desires, rather than using fighting as a substitute. The few times Buffy and Angel actually did get into it (well, with Angel as Angelus), Buffy definitely rocked him. As in, ran him through with a sword and sent him to a hell dimension. And he truly wished her harm during those fights, so it’s not likely he was holding back. When it comes down to it I don’t think any of the guys are her physical match. Buffy pretty much owns, and that’s all there is to it. =)


  11. [Note: Chanah posted this comment on July 9, 2009.]

    Course, if you really wanted to stretch a point – and it is stretching – we get a few scenes of Buffy and Spike training the potentials together in Season 7.

    Nah, I don’t think the metaphor will stretch quite that far 😉


  12. [Note: AttackedWithHummus posted this comment on January 25, 2010.]

    I just watched this episode out of context so I’m not really sure the level of Initiative-knowledge the first-time viewer has, but depending it could be taken as foreshadowing the abrupt cut from Xander saying “Well, she has an appointment with somebody who’s still scary” to Prof. Walsh.


  13. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on June 4, 2010.]

    Attacked, I agree about the foreshadowing. It’s really common on BtVS for the last line in a scene to be some sort of comment (often humorous) on the first thing we see or hear in the scene that follows.

    The first time I saw Fyarl-Giles chase Maggie Walsh, I laughed harder than I have at any other moment on this show. And the “snapping necks until everyone is dead” line is priceless. I really love this episode, but I have a very special place in my heart (an occasionally lusty place, actually…) for Giles.


  14. [Note: Yogi posted this comment on September 5, 2010.]

    Hey there is a bit of foreshadowing when Walsh says that Buffy “pokes them with a sharp stick” and Buffy says that she’d be surprised how many that can kill. Walsh is then impaled with a sharp stick next episode. 😀


  15. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on November 2, 2010.]

    An average episode.

    I usually enjoy Ethan but he bored me here (except for the fine crypt gloating speech). A one-note Charlie whose note has been sounded too often. Pacing was slow for the first half. The “Giles feels neglected” bit was overdone, as I figured out that was the episode’s theme after the first 11 times I was bashed on the head.

    Hooking up Spike and Giles was fun, and more advancement in the Buffy/Riley relationship. Those would be the positives. Oh yes, and Giles giving into his outer demon and chasing Maggie Walsh down the street.

    Still unclear for the Riley hate. I’m guessing that’s about what Riley does later, as opposed to what he’s done so far. Because right now, this is quite interesting — Riely seems very right for Buffy, but there’s just the hint that maybe he can’t handle being Mary Jane to her Spiderman. I also wonder if Buffy can ever handle a relationship with a normal, nonsuperpower person … intriguing.


  16. [Note: John posted this comment on January 5, 2011.]

    Buffy at the party really did make me wince, I mean I know she’s not always the most sensitive character but that was a little ridiculous.

    It was really great to see her completely upstaging Riley and, by extension, the entire Initiative though.


  17. [Note: Helen posted this comment on May 14, 2011.]

    First of all, let me say I love your reviews.

    When I was watching this, I realised Riley’s story is almost identical to the first slayer’s origin story. The father-daughter relationship is mirrored in the mother-son relationship that Maggie Walsh and Riley have. Maggie Walsh functions and behaves like a Watcher, more specifically the men who created the first slayer. He is a weapon just like Buffy, but an inferior one (Adam is the other half, his brother). Whilst at first glance, Buffy is the independent thinker with the wacky-endearing group, in practice she is part of the establishment and a long line of slayers whereas Riley is ‘new’.

    Both are created as bulwarks against the forces of ‘evil’; the conversation between Maggie and Giles shows the difference between Giles, and Maggie and the Council. Maggie Walsh claims the authority and ability to shape and create ‘fry-cooks’ for herself.

    Riley’s inability to deal with Buffy’s superior strength is criticised a lot, and is pretty unpleasant to watch. But in Helpless, we get an identical plot: Buffy looses her powers and also immediately questions her identity and doubts her attractiveness to Angel. And in Riley’s case, stereotypical male cultural norms make this loss of strength even more difficult.

    I also love how Buffy breaks into the Magic shop just like Faith taught her…

    (I have probably thought about this way too much)


  18. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on May 16, 2011.]

    Wow, that’s a great insight Helen! I never thought of that before.

    I do think that the primary difference between Riley/Adam and the first Slayer is one of consent (well, for Riley anyway). He certainly did not consent to the Initiative implanting chips or administering hormones or whatever — that was a major violation of this body — but he did choose to join the fight in the first place.


  19. [Note: Mash posted this comment on August 11, 2011.]

    Willow and Tara’s conversation before the spell can be seen as romantic. “That spell we did before, I was thinking about it all day” [I’m paraphrasing, you get what I mean].

    Also, note, we do get to see this spell completed correctly [but with a proper map] in S7.


  20. [Note: JustJenna posted this comment on March 31, 2012.]

    @Shannon who said: Emily, your Bangel-bias is showing!

    OMG Shannon, you and I must share a brain. I was just about to respond to her comment with “Emily, you’re shipper is showing,” and then I read your comment. Wild.


  21. [Note: Antoinette posted this comment on April 1, 2012.]

    i have one question, and one comment. do they celebrate buffy’s birthday in season 5. i noticed they celebrate buffys birthday same time in each season. there both around episode 12


  22. [Note: smallprint84 posted this comment on May 2, 2012.]

    @Antoinette: Yes, Buffy’s birthday is celebrated in S5’s “Blood Ties”.

    In the last season of the series she didn’t celebrated it.


  23. [Note: Helen posted this comment on June 14, 2012.]

    I thought this episode offered an interesting parallel with “This Years Girl”. After looking at demon!Giles in the eyes, Buffy immediately recognizes him although his exterior is completely changed. Riley is unable to do the same when Faith approaches him in Buffy’s body, and doesn’t notice even after they spent much longer in a much more intimate situation together than Buffy and Giles. Buffy does forgive Riley after thinking it through, but it shows how shallow their relationship really was and how it was doomed to failure.

    It’s a shame that Ethan Rayne was carted off into prison. Throughout the rest of the series, I kept on thinking that he’d pop up again and give us more fun Giles moments, but alas, it was not to be 😦


  24. [Note: Rob W. posted this comment on September 23, 2012.]

    I love Alyson Hannigan’s facial expression, voice, and body language at this moment. She goes quickly from know-it-all to sheepish as she and Xander are interrogated by flashlight:Willow: Riley’s…one of the commandos.Giles: What!?[Startled, looks to Xander as if to say “help me out here”.]


  25. [Note: Great Whazoo posted this comment on October 3, 2012.]

    Some of Buffy’s best sparring was with Faith. They were really able to put alot of power in their hand-placed kicks and punches, as well as the large body bag. It was around these episodes I learned SMG actually had a black belt. It showed in her action scenes. I’ve always admired how well they blended her’s and the stunt double’s action (except for the “Dracula” fights, where I doubt they even used a girl!)


  26. [Note: Dave posted this comment on December 3, 2012.]

    Is it me or when spike is in the car and says ” come and get me you jarheads” and crashes Giles car it sounds nothing like him


  27. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 26, 2012.]

    Ethan Rayne is so hilarious because he is so pathetic. What is his deal? I thought the convo between Maggie and Giles was really awkward… why did he go see her? I guess because Buffy suddenly started talking about her, saying she was the smartest. I didn’t quite buy that either. If she’s so infatuated by Maggie Walsh why is she falling asleep in class? But what happened in the conversation was really important.


  28. [Note: Brian posted this comment on January 18, 2013.]

    “Her and Riley are getting pretty close here as well.”should be:”She and Riley are getting pretty close here as well.”


  29. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on January 18, 2013.]

    Brian!!! Where you been, man? I’ve been waiting for your inspirational and insightful comments to return with much anticipation.


  30. [Note: Alex posted this comment on January 21, 2013.]

    Chuckle.Brian, please, just once, can you say something that convinces me you’re an actual human and not a grammar-policing robot? Seriously, just say ‘hello’ or something. That would make me so happy.


  31. [Note: declan4 posted this comment on June 25, 2013.]

    Please, we all know the only person Buffy could properly *train* with was Faith. Y’Know- an actual Slayer.
    Just sayin…


  32. [Note: Faith posted this comment on December 7, 2013.]

    I admit that the plot is rather hokey, but I don’t think it detracts from the episode particularly. I disagree with your points about bits of the episode being boring. Personally, I think it’s very funny and has no significant downsides. It also has Walsh making fun of Riley, which I think is hilarious.


  33. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on December 8, 2013.]

    Thanks for elaborating!

    You should note that a B is still a good score in my eyes, but fair enough on the minor disagreement. 🙂


  34. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 23, 2014.]

    I like this episode, in fact, I was looking forward to it. I respect, appreciate and indulge in fun romps like these that Buffy throws out every season. One of my guilty pleasures if I’m being completely honest. Also because Giles is a beloved character and I do not like what they do with him in Season 7, a lot of what he does there seems out-of-character and unconvincing, I’m also not happy on the one-note ending that the Giles and Buffy pairing get when all is said and done (I don’t read the comics air-go I do not consider them canon.)

    I love the Giles and Spike dynamic, funny considering Giles was willing to let Spike die in Season 7, oh well. Maybe its just because Spike has chemistry with every freaking character he’s stashed with, but me likey. I think even if Spike didn’t speak that demon language, he would have guessed it was Giles, I’m surprised Buffy didn’t guess it sooner. Giles chasing Professor Biyotch down the street was hilarious, especially after the speech. I can’t help but enjoy demon Giles because of the inherit Gileness of Giles. Okay, I was a little dissapointed with the sexual subtext between Riley and Buffy. I feel like after all she’s been through, she’s a little too quick to jump right into another relationship. On rewatch, I find Buffy and Riley’s abruptly fast relationship slightly contrived and uncharacteristic for a girl whose last boyfriend literally went evil after sex and whose last sexual encounter ended up with her being broken-hearted once again. Plus, its Buffy’s birthday and she received a surprise party! This is never good. I don’t hate Riley like the majority of the fandom; but I still don’t buy their relationship. Buffy’s with a counterpart for an awful lot of the show, which is surprising because its about girl-power and all that jazz.

    Anyway, lots of fun, subtle moments. “You have But-Face” always cracks me up. No gutwrenching birthday this year, I almost forgot Buffy had one semi-decent birthday. The Willow and Tara rose scene was pretty, I remember being surprised when the spell didn’t work out the way they planned. I’m forgetting here, did they ever tell us why the spell backfired? Was the dark magic and force that is powerful Willow’s building angst and dark power? I think its a plausible explanation that it was a side-effect of Willow’s constant magic use. Maybe she tapped into some dark power there. Also, the title of this episode is very apt. Giles becomes a demon, but he’s changing, he isn’t the stuffy Librarian under the Watcher’s glaring eagle eyes anymore, so even if you scratch out the demon part, he is becoming a new man. Spike is also becoming a new… vampire? man? I don’t know what to call it, now he’s (to quote Buffy…) ‘a harmless bunny’ but he could still have killed Giles when he was in demon form, right? The fact that he didn’t and instead helped him for money proves that Spike really is a unique vampire. Poor guy really sucks at being one, doesn’t he? He’s just too adorable and pathetic (In a GOOD WAY!) to be the evil he claims to be. But I loved his line, “And I should just help you out of the evilness of my heart?” Hilarious.
    Also, in a small but noticeble way, Riley is also becoming a ‘new man’, he will go against the Initiative’s wishes and go to great lengths to prove his loyalty to Buffy. Later on, he even starts to doubt their motives.

    Maggie Walsh has better things to do than hang out with a bunch of kids? She’s the smartest person they’ve ever met? Buffy clearly lacks a strong father figure? Come on. This was more than Giles being out of the loop; it was downright insulting. Still, it was probably just so we can feel even more pity for him, and a round of applause to the writers because it worked, at least with me. Yes, I am a sucky fangirl in the need of some help. 😉

    Lastly, I did enjoy the Ethan scenes, as long as memory serves, this is the last Ethan Rayne episode, it was fun when he kept popping up every once and a while, not causing any real harm that hurt anyone but creating chaos and mayhem for his own enjoyment. I wish we’d gotten to learn more about his motives and background, alas, we didn’t get any more of him. Still, it was an apt send-off, I guess. All in all, a B is just right.

    I apologize for babbling on and on once again. Oh well, your reviews do this to me, Mike. I wonder if people still read these. Haha. 🙂


  35. [Note: Val posted this comment on July 15, 2015.]

    Lydia, I never thought about the fact that Spike could have killed Giles while he was a demon…good point!

    The Maggie/Giles scene was painful, but I think it would have been really interesting to see them interact more if she hadn’t had to suddenly leave the show. Watching the “grown-ups” work on this show is always really good.


  36. [Note: Joy posted this comment on July 16, 2015.]

    Spike might also have been able to kill Dawn when she was a ball of energy, but he didn’t try. He was never anything but protective of her.


  37. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 15, 2016.]

    Why exactly is the plot silly? Why exactly do you find it hokey? It’s not out there in terms of Buffy plots. I fail to get why there is so much bias against what the show is mainly about (girl and her friends fight demons and vampires). A focus on character is what happened in S6, and that’s by far the worst of the ‘full’ seasons of Buffy or Angel. When you strip the plot away from Buffy you merely have a cast of sitcom-pretty characters complaining about their issues like in S6.

    This plot is actually full of clever moments:

    – Spike speaking Fyarl
    – Ethan returning and his voice over actually being heard (oh bugger! I thought you’d gone!)
    – Giles slowly turning into a demon in mind as well as body
    – Buffy recognising Giles
    – Giles accidentally destroying things and the gang thinking he was taken by a demon
    – Spike again reiterating that the chip doesn’t make him good, he still hates their guts
    – Buffy thinking the letter-opener is silver when it isn’t
    – Ethan’s ‘I poisoned you’ trick
    – Subtle foreshadowing of Adam, the thing from 314 (no I don’t have a problem with the demonic underground knowing about it – Spike can’t be the first escapee)
    – Giles thinking a demon prince will rise, but he doesn’t
    – Xander’s shriek when he sees the Fyarl (aaeeeeerggh!!!)
    – Riley being thrown across the room (it’s a stretch to say this foreshadows the end of their relationship – I doubt they even knew Marc Blucas was to be written out during filming of this episode, so this is entirely a 20/20 hindsight assumption)
    – Spike taking the piss out of Giles’ car
    – Spike really enjoying himself being chased in the car
    – Spike enjoying winding Giles up about Fyarls and their paralysing mucus
    – Giles enjoying scaring Walsh and specifically asking Spike to stop just so he can do so

    All in all, a pretty damn good episode considering how the PLOT drives the CHARACTER moments, not vice versa. You can’t skim one and focus on the other, no matter what the focus of your site. On this show, both elements matter, and plot very frequently drives the character interactions, not the other way around. I’m starting to notice a creeping over-ignorance of the plots in S4, which is a shame because they aren’t any worse than any season outside S6.


  38. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 15, 2016.]

    Unfortunately for the detractors of the comics, they are canon. I was sceptical at first, but then I actually READ some of them and realised they were pretty great. Treat them as the follow-up films Buffy never got. But regardless, they are canon.


  39. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on March 15, 2016.]

    I think that kind of comes down to whether how you consume a show, etc. is a function of how the creator wants you to consume it or whether it is more of a personal thing for you.

    Joss can say the comics are canon all he likes, but since my relationship with Buffy is dictated by myself and not him, I can choose to reject that.


  40. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on March 15, 2016.]

    Canon is a tricky thing. Personally, I don’t take into consideration anything other than the actual Buffy TV show when I’m talking about the TV show. It’s a complete story that comes to a distinct conclusion, and the season 8 comics weren’t created until years after the show ended, and in a different medium. Many fans also haven’t read them, so if I went around insisting that every Buffy fan needs to take them into account, it would be pretty pointless since they simply haven’t read them and aren’t going to. Regardless of the comic’s official status, its practical utility as canon is questionable.

    I don’t have any problem with the comics existing and I may read them someday, but they’re ultimately irrelevant to my experience with the TV show.


  41. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 18, 2016.]

    As the creator and boss of the show, he has the right to declare what is canon and what is not. You might not like that, but it doesn’t make it any less the case.

    I mention the comics only because they are mentioned frequently in the negative by folks just for being comics on this site. They’re actually very good, and I wasn’t convinced at first either.


  42. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 18, 2016.]

    Canon is never tricky when a creator comes out and says ‘see these comics? They’re a canonical continuation. These novels? They’re licensed, but not canonical.’ Most of the time canon becomes fuzzy if a) the creators or IP holders don’t make it obvious or b) fans have their own established ‘Fanon’ expectations and don’t like it if official works contradict their own views. In the Star Wars IP, canon became fluid until Disney acquired the rights and declared virtually all of the expanded universe non-canon to save them worrying about the plot of the new films contradicting Fanon/licensed works. It was much easier to just declare it all non-canon and avoid messiness.


  43. [Note: Other Scott posted this comment on March 18, 2016.]

    The problem is that creator’s often receive royalties for this material for copyright reasons, so they are incentivized to declare it canonical almost as a marketing tool, regarldless of the quality or control they have over the material.

    I choose what my Buffy experience is. So if I have a read on something that is contradicted by the comics, I can choose to ignore it. I don’t have grounds to argue the point with you, because your Buffy reality includes the context, but as someone who only bases things off the TV show, I can choose take whatever interpretation I see from what I’ve seen.

    It’s similar to interviews with creators and writers. They can declare what they’ve said in the interview as the truth behind what’s going on, but I don’t have to accept that. They don’t dictate my experience and my opinions on the show. That’s just my philosophy.

    So as to your response, “Yeah, but it’s still canon,” my basic argument is I don’t care about “official canon”. It doesn’t matter to me. And the creator or whoever can’t force it to make it matter. Because me experience with Buffy or any TV show belongs to me, not them.


  44. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on March 19, 2016.]

    Generally speaking there’s nothing wrong with any of that. Only generally though. What you’ve described is a common reaction among fans who seek to declare something within a series to be unacceptable and therefore not canon for them. Essentially it comes down to a few things:

    A) What Joss Whedon says is canon, is canon. As the creator of the work, he has the right to say that if he so chooses. He was involved in the process of coming up with the stories for the comics, so it’s not like he just handed the reigns to someone else and let them do what they liked. He has final say on the canonicity of his own material and is involved at a creative level. If that can’t be canon, then half of S6/7 can’t be either, because he was not showrunner for a lot of those episodes.

    B) If the comics aren’t for you, that’s fine. However you cannot declare them non-canon. At best you would consider only the show, and anything beyond that as not important. This opinion is fine to hold, but takes your view of any events beyond the end of the show firmly into Fanon. A fan declaring he doesn’t consider or like something doesn’t stop it being canonical.

    So yeah, how you approach the material is up to you and that’s fine. That doesn’t change what is canon and what isn’t. An author has every right to make that clear in whatever way they choose.


  45. [Note: TheDoThatGirl posted this comment on June 30, 2016.]

    I just want to copy every thing you just said and use it as a flash card for everyone who rants about the comics being canon. (I have a lot of people who do this in my circle)


  46. [Note: Magically-Delicious posted this comment on July 1, 2016.]

    Hi benny

    I’ve been reading the comics, I hated season 8 and 9. Season 10 (the one you’re asking about) is pretty good. Out of 30 editions (#), they’re up to #28. Here is where we are:

    D’hoffryn is the Big-Bad, and is almost all powerful. The Scoobies have been in a Yoko Factor kind of place, and were mostly drifting apart. However Willow got fired from the military and came home. Young Giles has got bored and disillusioned with Fairy wonderland and come home. Dawn and Xander have been hopping through various dimensions trying to get home, and are also close to being a couple again. Dawn is REALLY using her Key powers (About damnn time!) and Xander is really getting buff / ripped. They also have just made it home. Ghost non-Anya is going to be re-corporealised by D’Hoffryn for messing things up for the Scoobies and the world. Spike and Buffy are together, (HOORAY!) Spike tried to split up with Buffy (For her own good!(THE SIMPLETON!!)) but Buffy wasn’t having any of it. They’re still together. (Hip Hip HOORAY!!)
    So all the gang are back together,refreshed and reinvigorated…And Buffy has an unrevealed plan of action to spring on D’hoffryn in the last 2 episodes.

    It really isn’t the Show, but I have definitely enjoyed season 10 so far.

    Ps: hope that helps 🙂


  47. [Note: benny posted this comment on July 1, 2016.]

    thanks…. apparently after I quit from my excuses, I found some site where i can read the comics online…. :p, but thank ypu very much…

    so we will wait for the two parts of season 10’s finale…..


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