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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A New Man

Spike: "And I'm supposed to just help you, out of the evilness of my heart?"

It's really a shame that the titles of these episodes aren't given, because this one was so apt; Spike is a new vampire, Giles becomes a new demon, and Buffy actually has her very own commando. Riley isn't Angel (I have a hard time seeing Buffy with anyone but Angel) but he's an interesting character in his own right and I'm enjoying this story arc. It's obvious that Riley has issues with Buffy being stronger. Maybe Angel was just more secure in his masculinity.

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. But I did enjoy the Ethan scenes, especially the scenes in the bar with the zingers going back and forth. (My favorite was the one about "you know demons -- it's all exaggeration and blank verse.") Certainly Giles would never have fallen for Ethan's ploy if he hadn't been so upset about the way everyone was treating him.

The Giles/Spike scenes were a hoot, and the high point for me. Even though he's still the brat we know and love, Spike has changed. Theoretically, he could have killed Giles in demon form, couldn't he, but we knew he wouldn't. And I loved Giles stopping the car so that he could scare Maggie.

So we hear that there is a dark disturbance in the force; 314 (Maggie's secret room number) is freaking out the demon population. We sort of knew from the beginning, though, that the Initiative was Not A Good Thing. Demons, vampires, whatever; an organization that captures creatures and experiments on them just feels wrong. Stake 'em and send 'em back to the starting line, that's what I say.

Bits and pieces:

-- If Willow and Tara didn't fricasee that rose themselves, what did? Was it an Ethan spell by-product? And why did Willow lie to Buffy about being with Tara?

-- No gutwrenching birthday this year. It certainly would have been if she'd killed Giles, though.

-- It's nearly February, even in the Buffyverse, since she just turned 19. Why isn't it a new semester by now?

-- Where did Giles' pants come from? If he doesn't sleep in them, wouldn't he have noticed a few minor changes when he put them on that morning?

Quotes:

Buffy: "But this is so nice. Having everyone together for my birthday. Of course, you could smash in all my toes with a hammer and it will still be the bestest Buffy birthday bash in a big long while."

Giles: "Actually, Willow and Xander did all the planning. I'm not sure I would have gone with the surprise party. You know, you have enough things jumping out at you in the dark."

Buffy: "Professor Walsh says that adrenaline is like exercise but without the exorbitant gym fees."

Anya: "A gift is traditional. I've read about it."
Xander: "That's among friends. With bitter enemies we don't give them my lamp."

Walsh: "So, the Slayer."
Buffy: "Yeah. That's me."
Walsh: "We thought you were a myth."
Buffy: "Well, you were myth-taken."

Walsh: "It's only our methods that differ. We use the latest in scientific technology and state-of-the-art weaponry, and you, if I understand it correctly, poke them with a sharp stick."

Riley: "Buffy. When I saw you stop the world from, you know, ending, I just assumed that was a big week for you. Turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse."

Ethan: "We used to be friends, Ripper. When did all that fall apart?"
Giles: "The same time you started to worship chaos."
Ethan: "Oh, religious intolerance. Sad, there. I mean, just look at the Irish troubles."

Ethan: "You know demons. It's all exaggeration and blank verse."

Giles: "If you can't find third gear, don't try for third gear!"
Spike: "I'm doing my best. I don't know if I'm driving this thing or wearing it."
Giles: "It's perfectly serviceable."
Spike: (laughs) "Funny hearing a Fyarl demon say serviceable. Had a couple of them working for me once. They're more like, 'Like to crush. Crush now?' Strong though. You won't meet a jar you can't open for the rest of your life."

Giles: "I really like this feeling. Sort of mindless need to destroy. This anger and rage."
Spike: "Good times. Go with it."

Willow: "It stole Giles' car."
Xander: "Why would a demon steal a car?"
Anya: "Why would a demon steal that car?"

Spike: "Hey, picked up a tail."
Giles: "Yes. Just a little one. It hurts when I sit."
Spike: "I mean someone is following us."

Ethan: "I really got to learn to just do the damage and get out of town. It's the stay and gloat that gets me every time."

Giles: "Buffy, I don't want to ask you to betray any confidences, and I certainly don't want to interfere..."
Buffy: "Uh-oh, you have but-face."

Three out of four stakes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

19 comments:

  1. The scene where Ethan is revealed to be back in the fold is a perfect example of why I love this show. Just as Giles closes the door and leaves the room, Ethan steps out from the shadows and begins his "villain monologue", only for Giles to hear someone talking, re-open the door and catch him a few sentences in. It's such a clever moment and I've always gotten a kick out of it. It's a perfect example of how Joss turns classic storytelling structure on it's head. In all the past episodes where Ethan causes trouble, the viewers find out Ethan is behind the mayhem and it takes the scooby gang a little while to figure it out. I assumed it would be the same way this episode but was delighted that it was not.

    "You have but-face" always cracks me up. Delightful episode. I forgot Buffy actually had a semi-decent birthday one year.

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  2. BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Season four spoilers are posted here.

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    1. Thank u so much4 reminding no spoilers.been watching since earlier this year.u nvr know how many other people will as well.also love your posts!

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  3. Spike & Giles were so much fun - everyone else pretty much faded into the background for me. I wasn't even quite as annoyed by Riley. He is still too bland to be believed though - maybe I'm insulted as an Iowa native, we are often portrayed as dull it seems.

    I'm hoping Buffy picks up for me this season. This continued need for a boyfriend and her rush into being so serious so soon is making her seem younger to me than she did in her high school years.

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  4. This episode is just great fun, Ethan episodes usually are.

    I do wonder how Spike knows its Giles though, I guess it must be his speech pattern, he doesn't say 'I'm Giles' to Spike does he?

    As Billie mentions, it is interesting that Spike does not seem to consider hurting the demon once he realizes its Giles.

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  5. Annie, that's an interesting point. In fact, both Spike and Buffy recognize Giles--I wonder if the episode is making some sort of statement about either A) those two being closest to Giles, or at least the most understanding of his nature, or B) the inherent Gilesness of Giles.

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  6. Buffy's adolescence was prolonged. All kids go through a stage where they strongly identify with adult figures other than their parents. Buffy is clearly doing that with Maggie. And, all parents need to suck it up and accept the pain. Eventually, their kids come back -- as Buffy did at the end of this episode.

    The really immature person in this scenario was Maggie. The things she says to Giles are unforgivable and certainly render her a character for whom we should have a great deal of mistrust. Even before we see the ending.

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  7. Absolutely ChrisB, She's really not a nice person, I love it when Giles refers to her as a 'fish wife', makes me laugh.

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  8. I’m probably on the minority here, but this episode didn’t do much for me. In fact, after a string of great episodes (from “The Initiative” to “Hush”, and I might even include “Wild at Heart” for its dramatic power), these last two kind of lost momentum.

    There were two moments I really didn’t like: the first one was Buffy saying Maggie was the smartest person she knew. Really, Buffy? The other one was Giles and Maggie’s conversation. Man, that scene was SO weird. Giles, you were searching for Buffy on her professor’s office? Again, really weird. Both scenes just felt like cheap writing to get Giles down.

    I like Buffy and Riley together but there’s not enough drama there to sustain the season arc emotionally (and for some reason, Buffy and Riley on the magic shop reminded me of Veronica and Logan on “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner”). I like Giles too, and he was fun as a demon (the chasing after Maggie was priceless), but that wasn’t enough to make this episode really entertaining for me. Oh, well, at least we had Anya, Tara and Spike. And Buffy cracking me up by telling Willow “don’t be so sure [that I won’t kill anything tonight]” after Willow interrupts Buffy and Riley’s make out session.

    Nitpick: how the hell did Ethan know about “three fourteen”? How would demons captured by the Initiative and afraid of whatever is inside that room would be able to spread a rumor about it? Bad plotting there, writers.

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  9. I was looking forward to this episode as it is one of my favourites. It must be obvious by now that I just love a good fun romp. And I also like when we are reminded of Giles as Ripper. When Buffy recognizes Giles by his eyes I just think, take that fish wive Walsh!

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  10. I really like this one. Even though it's a standalone, it's really where my opinions about the season long arc start to form. Opinion 1: Initiative = bad (obviously; although I definitely agree with Lamounier about how the demons knew about 314) Opinion 2: I do not like Professor Walsh. Being rude to Giles is one thing (did anyone else think she assumed a predatory relationship between Buffy and Giles? Gross) but being demeaning to Buffy who could so easily kill her is another. Poke them with a stick? How many apocalypses have you foiled, Professor? Opinion 3: Me no likey Riley. I'm a bit of a broken record on this point, but yeah. He clearly has a bit of a problem with Buffy's super strength and her role as leader. Not attractive. At all.

    I love Ethan Rayne so much. His goal is never to hurt anyone. He just wants to amuse himself by creating chaos in his wake. I also love the two send ups we get of classic villain tropes that do not make sense (the monologue and the stay and gloat). I wish we'd had more Ethan in the series. :(

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  11. @Josie, my feeling is that Spike knew it was Giles because Spike is just extraordinarily perceptive. More than once we've seen him size up exactly what other people are thinking and feeling.

    We shall see whether Ethan knowing 314 is a plot hole or something else--maybe Ethan was recruited for the Initiative? My guess--now that it's clear there's an actual military connection to the Initiative--is that the ultimate goal is to have controllable monsters for military purposes.

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    1. I agree with alot u said except spike told giles he speaks that language.jus saw ep yesterday.im new to watching the show& love it!

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  12. You're welcome, may sommers! The "no spoilers for later episodes" is consistent throughout Doux Reviews, by the way.

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  13. It seems to me that this episode represents Giles' punishment for how he treated Buffy in the previous year's "Helpless". In the earlier episode he deprives Buffy of her powers; here he loses his humanity. In the earlier episode he refuses Buffy's demand for an explanation; here he is deprived of speech. In the earlier episode the situation is saved when Buffy recognizes Giles's essential decency; here it is saved when Buffy is able to recognize him in spite of the transformation.

    They were both "birthday" episodes, so they were exactly a year apart.

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  14. That's an interesting theory, Anonymous. Hadn't thought of it.

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  15. Nobody will see this but randomly just caught this episode on tv.

    Ethan giving a thoroughly fantastic villain monologue to an empty room that Giles had just inhabited was brilliant. Giles returning and catching Ethan may have made it my fave Buffy scene ever.

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  16. This episode highlighted why I can't get into this season so far (despite some great stand-alones). With the end of Sunnydale High and its library, it's as if the show lacks the centre that it had (the centre being the library with Giles) that grounded it. Giles, rather explicitly in this episode, has become a character at the periphery who has to struggle to be part of the group. The sleuthing part of the action, which he took care of, is also sort of gone. Everyone living and meeting in different spots (incl Xander), I'm just really missing the camaraderie from seasons 1-3. I hope it picks up.

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