Monday, 12 December 2011
BUFFY 4.12 ‘A NEW MAN’
A short promo for this episode.
WRITER: Jane Espenson
DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
While the gang are all moving on in their lives with new college careers and/or new relationships taking up their time, poor Giles is feeling ignored, left out, forgotten. Buffy hardly calls on him anymore and has completely failed to mention the fact that she’s dating Riley and that Riley is part of The Initiative, an organisation Giles knows nothing about as he never got told by Buffy that the commandos he’s been investigating are in fact a secret government demon hunting outfit based beneath Sunnydale U. Giles is understandably annoyed at this, hearing it for the first time by accident from Willow. Later, an encounter with old nemesis Ethan Rayne leads Giles and his once-upon-a-time friend to go for a few beers, allowing Giles to drown his sorrows…only to wake up the next morning having been turned in to a huge, ugly Fyarl demon by dastardly Ethan. Naturally the ex-watcher seeks out the gang to help him. But they can’t understand his demon-speak and think he’s the rampaging monster who’s kidnapped the real Giles. Amazingly only Spike can understand him. And so, for cash, the mercenary vamp agrees to help Giles track down Ethan Rayne and reverse the spell, to hopefully return Giles to his old human self.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
Giles is unintentionally sidelined, forgotten, ignored. Plus he also gets castigated by Professor Walsh who suggests that Buffy has lacked a strong father figure in her life, lacking discipline. And to top it all off, nasty ol’ Ethan Rayne gets him drunk and turns him in to a demon, hoping that an unwitting Buffy will then slay her former watcher. Becoming the demon personifies what Giles is feeling: old, angry, and not recognised by the gang anymore.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Ethan Rayne, The Initiative (kinda)
WHY IT ROCKS
A strong theme. Jane Espenson’s script is right on the mark. It’s meaningful, character driven and very funny indeed.
It’s the Giles and Spike show. For a significant portion of this episode Giles (albeit in demon form) teams up with Spike to find Ethan Rayne. The two together make a great odd couple team – bickering like a couple of old women. One might be evil but the pair share a certain unspoken bond what with being English an’ all.
A car chase. Yep, we get the first Buffy car chase as the Initiative pursue Spike and Demon Giles in Giles’s knacked out old car with Spike driving. It’s kinda small scale but quite cool and mostly played for laughs with Spike having trouble finding the gears.
Scaring Professor Walsh. The simply genius moment where Giles, in his demon form, makes Spike stop the car just so he can run out and scare Professor Walsh, then casually hops back in to the car feeling a little happier with life.
Robin Sachs. Yep, he’s back as chaos worshipping sorcerer/Giles nemesis Ethan Rayne. And he’s great. The scene with the pair of old mystics and one time friends getting drunk over a few pints is most amusing. While Giles is sharing his troubles, Ethan is busy trying to drunkenly pick up the waitress. It’s funny and is also a useful plot point for later on.
Tony Head. This is Giles’s episode. And Tony Head steps up to the mark. He really sells the tired, hurt, world weary Giles. And when he becomes a giant scary demon encased head to toe in prosthetics and creepy ram horns (great make-up BTW) he is obviously having a ball. His violent clumsiness is great as is his desperate attempts to make himself understood by the gang. But it’s the scaring Professor Walsh moment that is complete and utter genius.
That crappy Citroen finally gets totalled. Get a proper car Giles.
WHY IT SUCKS
It takes a while until Giles actually turns in to a demon.
Xander and co. don’t exactly do a proper search of Giles’s home before coming to the conclusion he isn’t there and that he’s been kidnapped/eaten by a demon.
The resolution is cute but pretty unbelievable. We’re expected to believe that Buffy stops at the last moment from killing Demon Giles by recognising the look of disappointment in his eyes. Huh?
Demon Giles taking time out of hunting for Ethan to give Maggie Walsh a well deserved scare. Priceless.
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Buffy (introducing Giles to Riley): “Giles was the librarian at my high school.”
Riley: “Ah, I've seen the library. It's gone downhill since you left.”
Buffy (about her surprise party): “Of course, you could smash in all my toes with a hammer and it would still be the bestest Buffy birthday bash in a big long while.”
Walsh: “So, the Slayer.”
Buffy: “Yeah, that's me.”
Walsh: “We thought you were a myth.”
Buffy: “Well, you were myth-taken.”
Giles: “What am I? I'm an unemployed librarian with a tendency to get knocked on the head.”
Ethan: “I've really got to learn to just do the damage and get out of town. It's the stay and gloat — gets me every time.”
Giles (about Ethan): “You have to help me find him. He must undo this, and then he needs a good being killed.”
Spike: “And I'm supposed to do this just out of the evilness of my heart?”
AND ANOTHER THING
In an online chat, Jane Espenson said about Spike after he crashed the car: "That was cut... for time. In fact, he got out of the car injured and he said 'I can kill demons. I can crash cars. Things are looking up!' It’s too bad this got cut. It was a nice moment. And now you know..."
HOW MANY STAKES?
Demon Head. 4 (out of 5)