Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | April 10, 2011

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

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 208 – The Dark Age

Synopsis: The police ask Giles about a man who died on campus. He was an old friend of Giles’ from London, Philip Henry. Giles is haunted by nightmares of something he did back in London but he refuses to tell Buffy. She finds Ethan at the library and suddenly Henry’s corpse attacks them. We learn that Giles and his friends used to call upon a demon to get high (using tattoos, the Mark of Eyghon) and now he is killing them off one by one. Eyghon takes control of Jenny and Ethan tries to give Buffy the mark. It’s left to Willow to find a way to defeat Eyghon.

The Good: This was another strong episode hitting on several of the moral themes we have seen explored already.

It was really enjoyable to see Giles take a greater part in proceedings for once. There were attempts to spin him off into his own “Ripper” show and clearly he would have made a good leading man. His character only grows in stature from the knowledge that he chose the life of book worm after seeing the horrors that messing with demons could unleash. The death of his friend clearly forced him to realise that the role of Watcher was as important as it is. His performance marries the two sides of his character well and I have no problem believing in him as both bad ass and bore.

Jenny too was good throughout and the distance which this episode puts between them was sad to see. Like Buffy’s attempts to find a boyfriend (105) it would seem that Giles and Jenny aren’t going to have an easy relationship because of his involvement with demons. This was sadder though because we know Jenny better and because we thought she understood the dangers. Her techno-pagan background and first hand knowledge of the Hellmouth (112) still couldn’t prepare her for being possessed by a demon. It was all very sad and once more Buffy and Giles are left to comfort one another with the knowledge that they are doing the right thing and that that requires sacrifice. Its admirable, moral storytelling which makes these characters so easy to route for and care about.

We have seen Willow growing in stature this season, standing up to Giles and Angel (205) and taking charge of the gang when they became their costumes (206). Now she has to step into Giles’ shoes and does a great job, both disciplining the children (the borderline flirtatious Xander and Cordelia) and coming up with the way to defeat Eyghon.

I thought Ethan Rayne had another enjoyable outing. He delivers some good lines with relish and generally plays the creep effortlessly. I particularly enjoyed his response to Buffy pointing out his honesty – “It’s one of my virtues…not really.” By playing a relentlessly selfish ass hole he shines a light on how good Giles is and provides the show with a potentially valuable recurring villain.

The Bad: The details surrounding Eyghon were never well explained. It wasn’t clear why Eyghon had risen now and he seemed ponderous when it came to killing off those wearing his tattoos. The whole jumping into dead or unconscious bodies part was a little vague too making Angel’s intercession feel more convenient than clever.

The Unknown: If Buffy can have the tattoo removed why didn’t Ethan or Giles try? Was acid really needed? While I’m at it, surely Giles should pay for Buffy’s removal procedure!

Best Moment: The final scene where Jenny walks away from Giles and Buffy points out that they have something in common now. The show’s ability to make demons and monsters a poignant cause of character development is tremendous.

The Bottom Line: Another really enjoyable episode and a good showcase for Giles.

67/100

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