The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E08, “The Dark Age”

In every generation there is a chosen one. She alone will spill coffee on her shirt at 9AM, then just decide to go topless all day because who’s she trying to impress, the queen of France or something? She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments. WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.  We open on a real sweaty guy in a suit, carrying a briefcase and looking for Giles. Then out of no where, ZOMBIE.

Hey, what's up?

Hey, what’s up?

The zombie shambles after sweaty dude, and they appear to know each other, because they have a conversation and are on a first name basis. The zombie draws closer and closer, and the increasingly hysterical guy tries desperately to escape… by banging on a door.

This is the dumbest death that has ever happened on BtVS. This dude is outside. He could run literally anywhere. He could run up the stairs to the second level. He could run back to the janitor he asked directions from, because presumably that guy has keys to go along with his championship friendly sideburns. But no. This guy stands there and bangs on the door and presumably lets the zombie get him, despite having a near infinite number of escape routes at his disposal. Because he’s fucking outside. We don’t know for sure that the zombie gets him, though, because we cut to:

Buffy0801

Just watching this teenage girl  do step aerobics in a leotard long after school hours are over. Giles objects to Buffy’s music choice, which, he is quick to point out, isn’t music:

 Giles: “I know music. Music has notes. This is noise.”

Outside, that stupid guy is still banging on the door while the zombie draws ever closer, and finally grabs him, and squeezes the life out of him. In the library, Buffy turns off her music, the same music that prevented them from hearing the dumb guy screaming for help. But he’s not screaming for help now, because the zombie breaks his neck, then slumps beside his dead body and turns into that blue liquid from the maxi pad commercials:

Somebody's feeling not so fresh.

Somebody’s feeling not so fresh.

After the opening credits, we see a bunch of hazy flashback images of hippies getting tattoos and something about a demon. Then Giles wakes up from the nightmare, and for reasons I really do not wish to examine,  he’s sleeping in one of Garth Brook’s shirts:

giles0801

 

Giles has friends in low places.

Giles has friends in low places. With massive bulges.

This creates a head canon for me in which Giles is, unbeknownst to the other characters and indeed, the audience, the world’s most obsessive Garth Brooks fan. Like, multiple scrapbooks, lovingly framed concert stubs, long posts to country music message boards about how under appreciated the Chris Gaines album was kind of obsessed. But this episode isn’t about that dark secret. This episode is about Giles’s other dark secret.

At school, Buffy and Willow are sharing their adorable 90′s high school sex fantasies, which involve John Cusack and Gavin Rossdale and are unrealistically chaste for two teenage girls talking about their celeb crushes.

Foot massage? Really, Buffy?

Xander shows up and they tell him they’re playing “Anywhere But Here,” a game in which they imagine themselves somewhere other than school. They speculate on whether or not Giles ever played “Anywhere But Here,” and they all decide that there’s no way Giles ever disliked school because he is nothing but a Garth Brooks shirt stuffed with old books and regret. Which is kind of funny, because it’s pretty clear that every time he takes off his glasses and cleans them when he’s annoyed with the kids, he’s playing a championship game of “Anywhere But Here.”

Buffy: “He probably sat in math class thinking, ‘there should be more math. This could be mathier.’”

Buffy. The man is a librarian. And you immediately jump to math?

Giles tells Buffy that there’s a shipment of blood being dropped off at the local hospital, and she needs to be on hand to kill all the vampires that are obviously going to be interested in that. Then Ms. Calendar comes up and they’re all adorable and flirty, and Xander gets sentenced to a Saturday computer class, and the kids think their teachers’ romance is adorable until they accidentally imagine them having sex.

Is that a juice box? GTFO, Xander.

Is that a juice box? GTFO, Xander.

So, it’s a really good thing that they’re not around for the Giles-and-Jenny-super-not-subtle-sex-invitation scene that follows (I loved typing this sentence, by the way, for obvious reasons). Jenny flirts with Giles by saying she dog-eared and underlined in a book he lent her, then describes spilling coffee on it until he makes a face like this:

Book lovers understand.

Book lovers understand.

Jenny: “I’m lying, Rupert. The book’s fine. I just love to see you squirm.”

Giles: “Oh. Well, I trust I gave good squirm.”

niagara falls

You know exactly what I’m getting at here.

And then Jenny is like:

Jenny: “Did anyone ever tell you you’re kind of a fuddy duddy?”

Giles: “Nobody ever seems to tell me anything else.”

Jenny: “Did anyone ever tell you you’re kind of a sexy fuddy duddy?”

Giles: “No, actually, that part usually gets left out. I can’t imagine why.”

OH GOD SHE IS BEAUTIFUL AND SUNSHINE AND I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY READY FOR THIS SEASON

OH GOD SHE IS BEAUTIFUL AND SUNSHINE AND I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY READY FOR THIS SEASON

Because she’s awesome and not afraid of her own sexuality or going out and getting what she wants because she’s a fucking internet savvy technopagan with exciting piercings and we all wanted to be her when we grew up, Jenny basically tells Giles, “Hey, we’re having sex this weekend,” and they manage to suck face for a tenth of a second between when the bell rings and the kids start flooding the hallway.

Wait, there’s a timing issue. When Giles and Jenny leave Buffy and Willow and Xander behind, they’re walking to class. But the halls are empty, and the bell interrupts their sexy banter… so were they walking for an entire forty minute class? How big is this campus?

Anyway, back to the sexiest faculty members ever:

Giles: “This, uh, Saturday?”

Jenny: “Saturday night. I’ll see if I can make you squirm.”

Appropriately shaped waterfall.

Appropriately shaped waterfall.

So, you know how when someone is like, “We’re gonna have sex later,” and you’re all excited and happy, and then you walk into the library and there are a bunch of cops waiting for you?

The detective (her name is detective Winslow, so I am going to assume she is the sister of Carl from Family Matters and we never saw her because she, like so many of the Winslows’ other family members, vanished through a portal to another show) is looking for Giles, which, you know, is always a great way to start the work day. The detective tells Giles that he has to come with her, and he’s like, “Why?” and I’m like, “Yeah, man, know your rights.” The detective tells him there was a homicide on the school campus– don’t you love how they have so many homicides on campus that they don’t even shut the school down?– and the deceased was carrying a slip of paper with Giles’s name and address.

As if the situation wasn’t already destroying Giles’s “I’m gonna get laid this weekend” buzz, Cordelia comes in and says the second most horrible thing he’s heard about books all day:

Cordelia: “There are books on computers? Isn’t the point of computers to replace books?

By the way, the cops are standing right there when she comes in and just blasts into her woe-is-me-I-have-to-go-to-remedial-computer-class monologue. She clearly sees them. This is why I love Cordelia. It’s not that she’s oblivious to what’s going on with other people, it’s that she just doesn’t give a shit. She even has the balls to ask the detective if she can get her ticket for driving the wrong way down a one-way street dismissed.

The police take Giles to identify the body of the guy who can’t open doors under pressure. Giles tells the detective he hasn’t seen the man in twenty years, and he has no idea why he would want to contact him now. But when Giles sees the man’s tattoo, his face goes like this:

Never play poker, Giles.

Never play poker, Giles.

and it’s pretty darn clear that he does, in fact, know what’s up.

Later that night, Buffy is at the hospital, but despite warning her to not be late, Giles is nowhere to be found. The blood van pulls up, and some guys in light blue scrubs come out to get the blood. Buffy watches the whole thing go down, then she says:

Buffy: “Since when do doctors take deliveries?”

I don’t understand at all how Buffy knows these guys are doctors. They’re in those standard scrubs, with name tags, stethoscopes around their necks, and clipboards. How does this immediately spell “doctor” to anyone? A bunch of different jobs  in a hospital could be dressed this way and carry stethoscopes and clipboards, aside from doctors: RNs, LPNs, PCAs, CENAs, orderlies, physical therapists, the list goes on and on. Why didn’t the costume department put these guys in white coats? That’s the easiest way to mark them out as doctors.

Anyway, Buffy knows the guys are vampires from the moment one of them tries to tear into a bag of blood like it’s one of Xander’s stupid fucking juice boxes. The fence shows up to take the cooler, and Buffy rushes in to fight them, three against one, until Angel shows up and adds literally nothing of value to the skirmish. He runs in,  nearly gets staked by accident, shouts “Look out!”, fights one vampire and accidentally kicks the vamp into his convertible, enabling his escape. This is one of the things I hate most about the show; sometimes Buffy is really strong and can fight her way out of impossible situations alone. Other times, Angel or some other male character intercedes and is framed as her equal or her rescuer. And many times, the guy doesn’t actually help at all, but Buffy doesn’t call him out on it. It’s inconsistent, and blatantly undermines her supposed kick-ass girlness. (#6)

Angel’s presence in the scene does, however, redeem itself with this exchange:

Buffy: “How did you know about this?”

Angel: “It’s delivery day. Everybody knows about this.”

This show is filled with little details about vampire life and society without info dumping right in your face. The revelation that Angel doesn’t have a reflection came as a tangent line in a serious conversation. Everybody knows about delivery day. Later this season, there’s a demon bar.  The monsters are living among the humans, with their own separate society, and this is never slammed in your face or outright explained to the audience, so it feels natural to the viewer. This in turn makes the world-building more realistic. So, you know. If you’re into writing stories, there’s something to take away from this.

Giles’s absence alarms Buffy, so she goes to his house to find out what’s up. What’s up is that he’s sweaty, disheveled, and paranoid. So, is he making meth, or what’s going on here? He has completely forgotten about delivery day, and he puts Buffy off with a half-apology before shutting the door in her face.

Despite the time difference, Giles calls England to try and locate an old friend, Deidre Page, only to be told that she passed away. Then Giles crosses her name off this list:

Looks like somebody's got a shot at winning the tontine...

Looks like somebody’s got a shot at winning the tontine…

Giles takes a heroic swallow of something alcoholic, then does that whole dramatic-eye-contact-with-yourself-in-the-mirror thing that dramas are so fond of. He rolls up his sleeve to reveal:

markofeyghon

and says:

Giles: “So. You’re back.”

So… that’s not good.

In the morgue, the corpse of the guy Giles lied to the police about wakes up, and his eyes start glowing like the Master’s in the 1996 Doctor Who television movie. After the commercial break, the morgue guy is apparently taking inventory of the corpses,

Where does he think they're going to go?

Where does he think they’re going to go?

when the reanimated corpse of Giles’s friend attacks him. Funny, now that he’s dead, this guy has no problem opening doors.

Back at Sunnydale, Cordelia and Xander are complaining about having to attend remedial computer class on a Saturday:

Xander: “When are we gonna need computers for real life, anyway?”

Jenny: “Hmm, let’s see. There’s home, school, work, games–”

Xander: “You know, computers are on the way out. I think paper’s gonna make a big comeback.”

Willow: “And the abacus.”

Okay, this all kind of ties in with #15. Of the three students, Willow is the only one who is enthusiastic about computer class, because Willow is the only Scooby allowed to use a computer. Here is Xander saying he can’t think of a practical application for computers, when computers have played a major part in many of the mysteries they’ve solved. But on all of those occasions, Willow has been the person operating the computer. Everyone else either shuns technology, or is totally hopeless when they try to use it. Willow is so into computers that she’s going to school on a Saturday.

Buffy shows up, interrupting Ms. Calendar mid-sentence:

Jenny: “All right, guys, the first thing we’re gonna do is– Buffy.”

Xander: “Huh? Did I fall asleep already?”

Okay. Buffy is there, she looks super serious, and her presence is unexpected. Rather than assuming, “Hey, there might be some kind of trouble,” Xander decides to make yet another awkward crack about how much he wants to fuck Buffy. In addition, he does it by insulting Ms. Calendar, who is apparently at school on her day off because Xander needs a fucking nap. His first instinct is not to wonder why Buffy is there, or if something might be wrong. His first instinct isn’t even to say hi. It’s to make her presence about him, and how much he wants to fuck her, even though she has clearly, firmly rejected him in the past. (5)

Even when Buffy makes it clear that she needs to talk to Jenny urgently, Xander has to insinuate himself into the conversation:

Xander: “Is there some crisis that requires instant action, very far from here?”

Buffy has a serious problem, but god forbid he miss a chance to try to be funny, and to remind everyone that he’s ungrateful for Jenny’s help.

This Xander. This fucking Xander.

Buffy tells Jenny that Giles looked tore up and super wasted, and they’re all like, “Oh my god, Giles was at home alone drinking.” I guess I never realized this was suspect behavior. Back when I drank, I did that all the time.

Xander: “Were there whores?”

Buffy: “He was alone.”

Xander: “Give it time.”

Xander, I’m going to need you to go fuck yourself.

Cordelia says Giles seemed fine when he was talking to the cops, and Buffy is like, why didn’t you tell us before?

Cordelia: “I didn’t think it was important.”

Xander: “We understand. It wasn’t about you.”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU ACTUALLY BEING SERIOUS? Xander, you have no room in this scene to call ANYONE self-centered. Even the most self-centered character on the show. So shut up and examine your conscience with this new intel.

Cordelia tells them that Giles was being interviewed about a homicide. But Cordelia wasn’t present when the homicide was discussed, so how did she know that?

Buffy goes to the library to call him, when she sees a mysterious shadow. Buffy searches through the stacks, only to find Ethan Rayne, who pushes a bookcase over on the slayer. Buffy recognizes him:

Buffy: “You sold me that dress for Halloween and nearly got us all killed.”

Ethan: “But you looked great.”

So Buffy punches him.

She also threatens to call the cops, but Ethan points out that the cops will need Giles to help answer questions. Since Buffy didn’t know that Giles and Ethan knew each other, this is new and troubling information. Ethan asks where Giles is, and cut to another freaky nightmare. Passed out over a desk somewhere. That’s where Giles is. The ringing phone wakes him:

Giles: “Buffy. Unless this is an emergency, I will see you on Monday.”

Buffy: “What’s the Mark of Eyghon?”

Giles tells Buffy that she’s in danger, and she needs to get away from Ethan. Buffy argues, because she wants to know what’s going on, and then the zombie of the guy who can’t run from a zombie in an open space crashes through the window. So… that’s what’s going on, Buffy. She fights the zombie and gets him locked in the big giant library cage, while the Scoobies– who come in to find a zombie fight happening while they were just typing away in computer class– try to subdue Ethan.

Giles shows up all disheveled and finds the Scoobies basically taunting the caged zombie. Seeing Ethan sitting in the library lowers Giles’s voice a full octave. Like, he’s that serious. He straight up grabs Ethan by the back of the head, which makes it seem like maybe they’re going to angry kiss? But they don’t. Ethan tells Giles that if he was really worried about saving the Scoobies, he would have left town. He also references the bad dreams he knows Giles has been having, because Ethan has been having them, too.

Before Giles can explain what’s going on, the zombie breaks out of the cage, knocking Jenny unconscious. Then he melts. Like, he straight up melts into that toothpaste goo substance we saw before, and Jenny’s hand ends up in it.

I'm sure this will be fine.

I’m sure this will be fine.

When Jenny wakes up, Giles is there, being all comforting and reassuring, which would be totally sweet if it were actually Jenny walking around in that Jenny suit.

But let's say, for the sake of argument, that it is not.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that it is not.

After the commercial break, Buffy comes in sporting the most uncomfortable looking camel toe in the history of frontward wedgies, tells them that Ethan got away, and demands to know what’s going on:

Giles: “It’s complicated, Buffy, and quite frankly, it’s private.”

Buffy: “I don’t care from private. I care from dead guys attacking us. I care from you lost weekending in your apartment.”

Giles: “I wasn’t– I was just trying to find a solution.”

Buffy: “Giles, share. What is the Mark of Eyghon?”

Giles: “Hey! This is not your battle. And as your Watcher, I am telling you unequivocally to stay out of it.”

Well, that oughta end it, Giles. Buffy tends to really listen to sentences that start out, “As your Watcher.”

During this whole exchange by the way, no one seems to realize that Jenny isn’t acting like a woman who was just knocked unconscious, but a woman who has just had amazing sex. I mean it; her head lolls against Giles’s shoulder, her voice is all husky and languid. Of course, with the number of times Giles gets knocked out, maybe concussions are foreplay to them.

After they’re out of ear shot, Buffy responds exactly how Buffy usually responds to Giles’s orders. She tells Willow to research the Mark of Eyghon, tells Xander to rummage through Giles’s personal shit, and then Cordelia’s stands expectantly before Buffy, looking for direction:

Buffy: “What?”

Cordelia: “What about me? I care about Giles.”

When Buffy recovers from her shock at learning Cordelia cares about someone who isn’t herself, she tells her to go work with Xander. Which, by the way, will ultimately lead to the pair dating later in the season.

'Tis as though she knows what she hath wrought.

‘Tis as though she knows what she hath wrought.

Giles has taken Jenny back to his place, because she’s scared to be alone. I mean, we all know that it’s because she’s possessed by the Mark of Eyghon, but Giles thinks it’s because she’s scared to be alone. Giles tells Jenny that he’s sorry, and he never meant for her to become involved in whatever is going on with him. She tells him it’s just what happens when two people are getting involved. He wants to take her home, since it’s not safe for pretty much anyone to be around him while zombies with homing devices are gunning for him, but Jenny wants to stay.

Back at the library, Willow has a breakthrough:

Willow: “‘Eyghon, also called the Sleep Walker, can only exist in this reality by possessing an unconscious host. Temporary possession imbues the host with a euphoric feeling of power.’”

Basically, this Eyghon guy can give you a magical high, but if the proper rituals aren’t performed to bottle him back up again, he enters reality by being “born through the host.” Furthermore, Eyghon can possess dead bodies, but only for a little while, because it rots the corpse like whoa. So, it has to jump from degenerating body to degenerating body, be that individual dead or just unconscious. They still can’t figure out what this all has to do with Giles, until Willow says that magical sects used ritual possession for super cool orgy parties.

Xander: “Okay, Giles and orgies in the same sentence. I could’ve lived without that one.”

Ygritte

You know nothing, Xander Harris.

The Scoobies then realize that even though no one was dead in the library when Eyghon turned the zombie into goo, Ms. Calendar was unconscious. So, naturally, we see Jenny ripping the wires to Giles’s telephone right out of the freaking wall. She tells Giles he should definitely have sex with her, because sex with people who might have a concussion is super consensual all the time, so definitely don’t go to the doctor first just to get that shit checked out. When Buffy tries to call Giles and can’t get an answer, she decides to just head on over there. Which is probably good, because Eyghon is using Jenny’s body to come on strong to Giles.

My favorite part of this scene, by the way, is that Giles says the line, “Jenny, I’m really very attracted to you,” which is, by the by, the ringtone on my cell phone. But anyway, the point is that Giles doesn’t want to have sex with Ms. Calendar, because 1) he’s got this whole demon thing going on right now, and that’s a pretty major distraction, and 2) he’s pretty sure it’s wrong to take advantage of someone who might have an undiagnosed closed head injury.

When Giles rebuffs her advances, Jenny starts going on about how Giles hasn’t changed, and he’s always worried about doing the right thing, and oh, by the way, she’s really Eyghon riding around in Jenny’s now rotting body. Eyghon starts wiping the floor (if we’re going with literal here, wiping the counter) with Giles, until Buffy shows up. Eyghon knows when it’s been outclass, and it takes off with Jenny’s body. Giles is pretty traumatized, and Buffy tries to pep talk him into action:

Buffy: “Come on, we fight monsters. This is what we do. They show up, they scare us, I beat them up and they go away, this isn’t any different!”

Giles: “It is different.”

Buffy: “Because you don’t know how to stop it?”

Giles: “Because I created it.”

Peptalk unsuccessful, Buffy.

Giles completely spills his life to Buffy, starting from age twenty-one, when he dropped out of college and started hanging around magic users. Let me state for the record, the closed caption says, “We practiced magicks.” The k makes it spookier and more special, I learned that when I was briefly Wiccan in the 10th grade. Giles explains that he and Ethan came up with the idea of invoking Eyghon to get high. Since they didn’t know what they were messing with, Eyghon ended up possessing one of their friends and killing him. Now, Eyghon is free to hunt the rest of their little gang of magic drug users and murder them, too.

Which doesn’t really explain the tattoos, but whatever.

Here’s the thing I like about this scene: for the first time, Giles is treating Buffy as a friend, rather than a ward. Some lucky teenagers have that one trusted adult they can go to for advice, or to talk about their problems, but it’s rare to have an adult that reciprocates that agreement. Sometimes, that’s a great thing, because adults don’t need to be dumping their problems on teenagers. They have enough to deal with just surviving being a teenager. But this is a case where Giles isn’t communicating with Buffy as an authority figure or a source of guidance. He’s vulnerable, and he’s sharing a part of his past with her that he hasn’t shared with others– he’s actively cut himself off from anyone who knew anything about this. What’s happening here is a deepening of emotional intimacy between the characters that’s going to be necessary for the audience to connect to Giles as the season goes on and his personal stakes get higher.

Giles doesn’t know how to stop Eyghon without killing Jenny in the process, so Buffy sets out to try and contain the demon-possessed body of Ms. Calendar while the rest of the Scoobies work on finding a cure. She goes to the costume shop, where Ethan is still lurking around, and tells him that she has to protect him if she’s going to protect Giles.

Ethan: “How does Ripper inspire such goodness?”

Buffy: “Because he’s Giles.”

Boom. She wants to protect him because of who he is. Not because he’s special or magical or totally innocent of any wrong doing. Buffy wants to help a friend, without qualifications. That kind of trust is what makes her a good person, and sometimes, a terrible Slayer. Like right now, for example, because she assumes Ethan will act honorably because she came to him in good faith. Hint: he does not. He bashes her in the head and knocks her out.

When Buffy wakes up, she’s tied down, and Ethan is getting ready to tattoo her with the Mark of Eyghon. He assures her that it’s nothing personal, he just wants to live, to which she retorts that she’s going to kill him. Which is interesting, because in season three, when Faith kills a human, Buffy is all like, “We don’t kill people, oh no!” but she has no problem threatening the lives of humans in the first two seasons.

In the library, tensions between Cordelia and Xander come to a head, and Willow puts an end to the bickering with a seldom witnessed Willow outburst:

Willow: “Hey! We don’t have time for this! Our friends are in trouble. Now we have to put our heads together and– and get them out of it. And if you two aren’t with me a hundred and ten percent, then get the hell out of my library!”

I didn’t finish reading the comics, because they’re fucking horrible, but someone please tell me that Willow becomes a Watcher.

Xander wonders why they can’t just get another dead body to put Eyghon into, and Willow points out that this plan wouldn’t technically kill the demon, just give him another vessel. But the suggestion gives Willow an idea, and they race off to implement their plan.

Back at the costume shop, Ethan has tattooed Buffy with the Mark of Eyghon, and in a super trendy shoulder location. He burns his tattoo off with acid, because apparently this is the kind of demon who can’t tell the difference between a middle aged man and a teenage girl. I mean, does he even have to do the tattoo thing? Wouldn’t Eyghon prefer the stronger, younger body to inhabit, anyway?

Because of his link to the demon– bro, we all went and got tattoos, bro! Friends for life, bro!– Giles knows when the mark is transferred to Buffy, and he races off to save her. Unfortunately, Ms. Calendar gets to Buffy and Ethan first:

Does this look infected? Because it feels like it might be infected.

Does this look infected? Because it feels like it might be infected.

She’s going to kill Ethan, until she smells that the mark is now on Buffy. But Giles storms in and demands that Eyghon take him, instead. This makes me question the efficacy of the tattoo system, and Giles’s rescue intentions. Once Eyghon kills him, what would stop Eyghon from then killing Buffy, as well? Is it the tattoo that marks the wearer for death, or is it just messing with Eyghon, who can clearly remember people and hold a grudge, that seals their doom? If that’s the case, what was the point of transferring the mark to Buffy? How come Eyghon seems to have a personal vendetta against Giles, but not against Ethan, who also invoked the demon? Buffy hasn’t done any magic, so why is she targeted? I think they needed to either pick, “The demon has to kill the person with the mark,” or “the demon is bent on revenge.” Combining the two just doesn’t work, from a plot standpoint.

But whatever. Angel runs in and tackles the Jenny demon (Huh. Tackling the Jenny demon is one of my many personal euphemisms for masturbation), then chokes her out until Eyghon has no choice but to inhabit the nearest dead body… which is Angel. Eyghon fights with the demon that’s already inside Angel, and the vampire demon wins, destroying Eyghon, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Except for the part where Ethan got away. And Buffy has to spend all of her savings on having a tattoo removed– wait a fucking minute… why didn’t Giles ever think of that? Why didn’t anybody on that list think of that?!

Oh, and the part where JENNY BREAKS UP WITH GILES WHY DOES THIS SHOW HAVE TO WOUND ME?!

I totally get where Jenny is coming from. Giles endangered her by not being honest. He endangered all of them. And we know that Jenny is a Pagan, so she probably has a system of morality in place re: what she defines as acceptable use of magic and what she finds irresponsible and dangerous. If she’ can’t cope with Giles’s past, or she’s developed an aversion to him because he was so closely involved with a traumatic experience, who can really blame her for cutting him free?

BUT THEY WERE JUST IN LOVE FORTY MINUTES AGO! WHYYYYYYYYYY!?

Buffy overhears everything, and she tries to talk to Giles after Jenny leaves:

Giles: “I never wanted you to see that side of me.”

Buffy: “I’m not going to lie to you. It was scary. I’m so used to you being a grownup and… then I find out that you’re a person.”

This is a big change in the way Buffy views him, and you see it from now on in the series. She’s no less contentious when she doesn’t agree with him, but she seems to respect him and his opinions more from here on out. It makes the emotional stakes higher.

Also, if you’re a Buffy/Giles shipper, this scene is etched into your mind so hard you can type out all the dialogue from memory.

Buffy does manage to cheer Giles up a little, by inviting him to make fun of her taste in music. They go off to train, and though he’s not totally over the events of the episode, Giles is, once again, blessedly Giles-like.

Overall, I’m pretty meh on this episode. It will probably come as a shock to you, but I don’t really dig Giles-centric episodes too much. “A New Man” and the second half of “Passion” are about all I really like. It’s (obviously) not that I dislike the character, but because I don’t want to see Giles trying to solve his problems without the Scoobies. He’s always there for them when they’re the focus of the episode and need saving. It seems flat out wrong that in a time of crisis, our team is divided, and that the trust we thought we saw between the characters isn’t as deep as we’d hoped. Which, yeah, is interesting from a story perspective, but holy cow, he wouldn’t tell these kids that a dangerous demon was after him, even when they all actively fight the forces of darkness?

Oh, and hey… #1. This episode has “sex is bad” written all over it. Things start to go down hill from the moment Giles and Jenny plan to get it on. Then, when Eyghon possesses her the end goal is… for Eyghon to fuck Giles? Why was it coming on to him so hard, if not to show sex in a negative, evil light?

I wish this episode had displayed more consistent magic rules, more cooperation between Giles and the Scoobies, and about 98% less idiot guys who won’t run from a zombie because he hopes that this door might open.

48 thoughts on “The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S02E08, “The Dark Age”

  1. My favorite part of this scene, by the way, is that Giles says the line, “Jenny, I’m really very attracted to you,” which is, by the by, the ringtone on my cell phone.

    Of course it is. Of course it is.

  2. Under the morgue picture, you have the caption: “Where does he think they’re going to go?”

    Uh. This is Sunnydale. The possibilities are ENDLESS.

    1. Yeah, but see point #8. If people in Sunnydale actually knew what was going on, they’d have armed guards at the morgue.

      1. They might not know what’s going on but they should at least see their corpse inventories aren’t matching up. They could blame it on those darn teens.

  3. Thank you for pointing out the tattoo thing. It has severely annoyed me every single time I’ve watched this episode, and I was worried it was just me. Because my sister has tried to rationalize it as the demon is connected to the tattoo, but the demon has also known/hunted Ethan and Giles for 20-25 years, what the hell does a tattoo matter? And why isn’t it explained? I feel better now.

    Anyway, love the recaps.

    1. No, thank you with regard to spreading that. Your illuminating comment about acknowledging what we’re discussing around is what really should be saved as a favorite. I don’t know what I did before learning that organic beef has a link exchange commitment between me.

      Truly inspirational, really.

  4. The only thing I remember of this episode is the faces the scoobie gang collectively make when they imagine Jenny and Giles having sex.

    But it is interesting, how Buffy is okay with threatening humans in the first two, but in the third series, she’s not okay with it. I explain this as Buffy being new to her power, and being a little naive with it. She doesn’t really understand the full implications of it, in relation to other humans. It’s only until another slayer comes along and acts in such a way that she understands that she has to protect the humans, not just from daemons, but herself as well.

    Tangentially, and only slightly because of this recap, I’ve settled on Jenny Calendar as Sophie.

    1. I didn’t mean to do that…

      I know I must have watched this one when I did my marathon but for some reason, I don’t really remember most of it???

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  6. Great recap as usual. I love the new website and can I just say you look *super* mischievous in your pic on the home page – wicked and cheeky! Gorgeous!

  7. Between posting a new Buffy recap, the excerpt from The Bride, and reblogging me on tumblr, you have made me a happy person this week.

    Yes, I know that last one might come across as a bit weird. That’s ok…. right?

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  16. You’re using WordPress, right? You should install the plugin Akismet, it will keep all these spam comments from getting through! Also maybe start using the category or tag options for your posts to make it easier to find all things Buffy, all things 50 Shades, etc.

    Happy to see another Buffy recap, they never let me down!

  17. There was a number added #19 during the previous recap: “Spike has the capacity to love despite his lack of soul”. Love that one! :)

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