Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | April 10, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S2, E08 – The Dark Age

The Dark Age
Season 2, Episode 8
Original airing: 11/10/97

My Rating: 70

The Good: Two episodes ago (206), Ethan Rayne entered the Buffy Universe. He was interesting and amoral and somehow connected to Giles. This episode did a wonderful job on revisiting and building upon that premise. Giles’ history as a school dropout and demonic drug addict only reinforce why he’s so careful and stodgy now. Ethan seems to be the guy Giles would have been if he hadn’t gone back to complete his Watcher training. It’s a similar kind of parallel as the last episode (207), where Buffy’s old friend was faced with an early death and chose to become a vampire. In both situations, Giles and Buffy are repentant, yet head-strong. But eventually, they do what they have to.

Jenny had some very interesting development in this episode. It’s sad to see the experience come between her and Giles, but it’s realistic and relatable. She thought she knew what she was getting involved in with her techno-pagan background. But reading about it versus actual possession turned out to be very different for her. At the end of the episode, she seems a bit scared of Giles and what she experienced because of him.

Revising the past is particularly hard on Giles. Not only does a demon he helped bring into the world kill multiples of his old friends, it also possesses his girlfriend and tries to rip out his stomach. But despite his injuries, he tries to save Jenny. However, he also leaves Buffy and the gang in the lurch, which he admits at the end of the episode when he apologizes to Buffy for not being there to help more.

Willow got to step into the void, though. She played a mini-Giles role to perfection, compiling research and coming to a reasonable conclusion. And she even had to babysit Xander and Cordelia at the same time. It’s wonderful to see Willow growing and taking ownership of her resourcefulness and intelligence. Whenever she gets to stare someone down and yell some sense at them, she seems to get bigger and taller.

The resolution with Angel was also clever. Since the demon can only possess dead or unconscious people, putting her into a vampire to fight the already resident demon was a smart idea. At also allowed for some incredibly disturbing visuals as Angel’s face was rearranged over and over and over again. Yuck.

The Bad: It’s never explained why Eyghon waited 20 years to come after the people of Giles’ little coven. She killed one of his friends during a ceremony and then disappeared for two decades. Suddenly, she reappears and goes directly after people with the tattoos. Which also doesn’t make sense. She recognizes Giles and remembers him. She makes direct comments about who he was as a person 20 years ago. Yet, when she comes face-to-face with a tattoo-less Ethan, she throws him aside for the newly tattooed Buffy. Which begs the question of why the coven didn’t have their tattoos removed years ago if it kept Eyghon from finding them. The logic gaps in the overall story kept this from being a great episode.

Favorite Moment: Buffy is jazzercising in the library while Giles watches and comments on the terrible music. The question is…. Why? She couldn’t do that at home in her tiny spandex outfit? This was amusing to me because of the absurd situation. I think I got a lot more humor out of it than the writers or director intended.

The Bottom Line: A very nice backstory for Giles which deepened and reinforced the audience’s current knowledge of the character. However, the logical fallacies were too distracting for this to be considered a great episode.

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Responses

  1. I just have a general comment about your podcast, and not this actual episode. I just started watching Buffy last October and quickly went through all the seasons as fast as I could (once I got through the first one). I was amazed at how good the show was and that I hadn’t given it a chance, mostly because of it’s name and that I wrongly believed I didn’t like any thing sci-fi or supernatural.

    So I want to thank you both for doing this rewatch because like you mentioned once, I had no one to talk to about how much I liked the show. I think you and Robin are doing a great job and it’s fun to get a chance to hear what someone else thinks about the show. I just caught up to all your episodes and look forward to hearing more. Thanks again!


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