December 3, 2022

Buffy 4.12, A New Man: Out of the Loop

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

Careful there, Hulk

Summary: Buffy and Riley are making out on her bed, anticipating a night alone, since Willow’s out. Unfortunately, they’re wrong – Willow bursts in and reports that a fire-breathing creature came in through the rec-room window. Riley wants to call for backup but Buffy says they don’t have time to wait. She heads into the rec room, stake in hand, and is met not with a demon but a surprise birthday party. (Someone probably should have warned Riley so he didn’t sneak in with a weapon.)

Giles is the oldest person at the party by a mile, and Anya has no interest in hearing his stories of his own time at school. Buffy brings Riley over to introduce him to Giles, who didn’t know they were dating. She mentions that he was the librarian at her high school. “I’ve seen the library. It’s gone downhill since you left,” Riley says. He asks if Giles is retired now that there’s no library. Giles says he’s “between projects.”

Buffy’s happy to have everyone together for her birthday, though Giles isn’t sure a surprise party was the best idea, considering Buffy spends enough time having things jump out at her in the dark. Buffy quotes Walsh, who’s said before that adrenaline is like exercise without the gym fees. She thinks Giles should meet Walsh, the smartest person she’s ever met. Giles sarcastically comments that they should have invited her. Buffy replies that she’s old (“like 40”) and has better things to do than hang out with kids.

The next day, Xander oversees Spike as he packs up his things to move out. Spike steals Xander’s radio and wonders why he’s so surprised – Spike’s evil, after all. He’s thinking of moving into a crypt, which would be dark and dank, but not as dark and dank as Xander’s room. Xander hurries him along, and Anya gives Spike a housewarming gift for his new place. It’s Xander’s lamp, so he objects.

Spike notes that he won’t have electricity anyway. He also won’t have running water or a fridge for his blood. Anya thinks he should get a hotel room. Spike has no money and Xander refuses to give him any. Spike wonders why Buffy didn’t show up to say goodbye. Xander tells him that she had an appointment with someone who’s still scary.

That someone is Walsh, who now knows that Buffy is the Slayer. “We thought you were a myth,” she tells Buffy. “Well, you were myth-taken,” Buffy replies. Walsh says this explains why Buffy only got a B-minus in her class – she didn’t have the time to put in extra work. She and the Initiative have the same mission, just with different methods. The Initiative uses state-of-the-art technology and weapons against demons while Buffy pokes them with a stick. Yeah, but it gets the job done!

Walsh thinks they can learn a lot from each other. She’s trying to get Buffy clearance to visit the Initiative and see how they operate. She’s proud that Finn has killed or captured 17 vampires and demons. Buffy, who kills that many in a week, is reluctant to announce her own number.

While dusting, because he has nothing more interesting or important to do, Giles finds a book he forgot about and sees something inside that concerns him. He tries to call Buffy but instead leaves a message with Willow that a demon prince is going to rise that night. Buffy is still with Riley, who’s a little shocked about how many vampires and demons she’s taken out. She tries to downplay it, but Riley notes that when he saw her stop the world from ending, he thought that was a big week for her. Now he feels like he needs to know the plural of “apocalypse.”

Buffy points out that she’s been slaying since she was 15, so of course she’s going to have a lot of marks in her kill column. That just impresses Riley more. Her point is that they just have different amounts of experience. Plus, she has Slayer strength on her side. Riley doesn’t think he could take her on. Buffy flirtatiously says that depends on what he means by that.

Giles goes to Walsh’s office looking for Buffy. He tells her that Buffy has gotten a lot out of Walsh’s class. Walsh says she’s bright and just needs encouragement about her schoolwork. Giles prefers to let students find their own strengths. Plus, Buffy isn’t a typical student. He hopes Walsh won’t push her. Walsh says Buffy’s independent and self-reliant, but not necessarily in a good way. It’s not always healthy for children to take on adult responsibilities too young. Walsh thinks Buffy is suffering from the absence of a male role model. Giles is stunned into silence by that.

That night, he, Xander, and Willow go to a cemetery to try to take out this demon prince who’s supposed to rise in a crypt. They lost some time because Giles was looking for Buffy and then got lost on campus. The good news is that there’s no sign that the demon has risen. Willow and Xander guess that the Initiative already took him out. They’ve probably known about his rising for days. Giles has no idea what they’re talking about – Buffy didn’t tell him who the commandos were or that Riley’s one of them.

Giles is annoyed that he’s spent all this time looking into the commandos, and not only do the Scoobies know about them but Buffy’s dating one. Xander and Willow admit that Anya and Spike also know. Giles is even more irritated by that, and it only gets worse when he finds out that Walsh is the head of the Initiative. He tells Willow and Xander they can leave. He plans to stay for a while to make sure the demon doesn’t rise, but he quickly realizes nothing’s going to happen.

After he leaves the crypt, Ethan emerges from the shadows and monologues to himself that something very interesting is about to happen. Hearing his voice, Giles pokes his head back into the crypt. “Oh, bugger, I thought you’d gone!” Ethan exclaims.

The chance to beat up Ethan makes Giles feel better about his difficult day. Ethan claims to have information about something that’s going to be bad for both of them. Giles will need time to prepare. Ethan decides he should do that at a bar. “Now isn’t this more fun than kicking my a$#?” he asks. Giles says no. “Oh. It’s more fun for me,” Ethan replies. He chalks up Giles’ hatred toward him after a long friendship as “religious intolerance,” since Giles didn’t like that Ethan started to worship chaos.

Ethan says that there are stories circulating in the “dark world” that something other than the Slayer is hurting demons. They’re scared, especially of something called 314. Even though the guys aren’t friends anymore, Ethan wanted Giles to know that whatever’s developing is throwing things out of balance, which is worse than the chaos he loves. They’re in for a literal “hell of a fight.”

Buffy and Riley are spending their evening sparring in a workout room, though let’s be honest, it’s all foreplay. Well, maybe not after Buffy kicks Riley across the room. Back at the bar, the guys are a few drinks in, and Giles is complaining that demons seem to be terrified of Walsh, while they never even notice Giles. Oh, that’s not true, Giles! The ones who knocked you unconscious had to have noticed you! He’s also mad about what Walsh said about him not being a male role model for Buffy. “I’m twice the man she is,” he says.

Ethan hits on their waitress and gives her his phone number. She’s not interested. Giles says they’ve changed. Well, not completely, since Ethan is still self-centered and sadistic. But the world has passed them by and they’ve been replaced by has-beens. The Initiatives aren’t perfect but they’re accomplishing their goals. Giles is just an unemployed librarian who keeps getting knocked out.

Ethan tells him he won’t have to worry about that anymore: “When you went to the loo, I slipped a small pellet of poison in your drink. You’ll be dead in an hour.” After a dramatic pause, Ethan cracks up and admits that he was kidding. Giles predicts that he’ll feel horrible in the morning, but Ethan encourages him to keep enjoying himself for now. They’re sorcerers, and the night is still their time. It’s a time of magic.

Willow goes to Tara’s room so they can do a spell together. They’ll test their synchronicity by levitating a rose and plucking off its petals. They’ll have to be completely in tune with each other. They are, and the levitation part of the spell goes great. But instead of losing its petals one by one, the rose zooms around the room and lands between them.

Giles wakes up the next morning and is shocked to see a horned demon in his mirror. He’s turned into one overnight, and he has all the strength that comes with the transformation. He immediately guesses that Ethan is to blame, so he tries to get dressed to go confront him. His clothes are too small for his demon body, though, so he has to go out in just pants and a blanket.

Buffy’s in a great mood at breakfast with Willow, which Willow thinks is because of her new relationship. Willow lies that she was in the chem lab all night, by herself. She mentions her failed spell and says she thinks something’s out there. She felt the presence of some dark-magic energy. If someone else is doing magic, they’re powerful.

Buffy says she’ll tell Giles about it, or maybe Walsh. Willow advises her to talk to Giles, since he’s feeling hurt about being out of the loop. Buffy didn’t realize she hadn’t told him about the Initiative and Riley. She says she’ll talk to Giles tomorrow, since she already has plans to spend the day with Riley. She thinks things are going really well, though kicking him across the room might have ruined that. Willow’s sure that he’ll get over it, since he told Buffy not to hold back. She’s right not to pretend she’s less than she is. Buffy admits that she still held back a little.

Giles goes to Xander’s, annoyed that he’s still asleep at 10:30. Xander doesn’t respond well to being woken up by a big demon, even though Giles tries to warn him ahead of time. He doesn’t realize that when he speaks, people only hear a demon language in a voice that doesn’t sound like Giles’. Xander throws things at him until he runs away. He takes off down the street, apologizing for stomping through someone’s yard. “Bloody humans,” he complains.

That night, the Scoobies go to Giles’ to get his help identifying the demon Xander saw. He’s not home, and they find what they think are signs of an invasion, which are really just the aftermath of a clumsy demon trying to get through the morning. Buffy tries to stay optimistic that the demon just kidnapped him.

Giles ends up in a cemetery, where Spike is thrilled to see a creature he now knows he can hurt and kill. But when Giles grumbles at him, Spike understands him. He explains that Giles is speaking Fyarl, which Spike also happens to speak. Giles asks for his help finding Ethan so they can make him undo whatever he did, and then Giles can kill him. Spike asks what’s in it for him. Well, Giles will let him live. Spike isn’t motivated, so Giles offers him money. Fortunately, Spike’s price is low, only $200. He suggests going to get Buffy, but Giles would rather hunt down Ethan on his own and keep Buffy out of the loop.

The Scoobies look through Giles’ books to find the demon Xander saw. They’ll then have to figure out how to track it down. They hear a noise outside, and as Buffy goes to check it out, Riley lets himself in. The Initiative monitors 911 calls for possible non-human activity, and there were a bunch in the area. Yeah, in the morning! It’s night now! The Initiative is so slow!

The reports from Giles’ neighbors make the Scoobies think he was attacked. Riley promises that the Initiative will help the Scoobies find him. Buffy’s really worried and can’t stop thinking that they should ask Giles for help, then realizing that they can’t. “He’d find himself in a second,” Xander says. He can’t think of anyone who’s cooler in a crisis.

Cut to Giles snapping at Spike, who’s driving Giles’ car, that if he can’t find third gear, he shouldn’t try for it. Spike mentions that Fyarl demons are mostly killing machines, but they’re also good at opening jars. Giles asks if he has special powers now. Maybe he can set things on fire with his eye beams? No, but he can shoot paralyzing mucus out of his nose. That’s…helpful, I guess.

Giles feels like he’s changing, and he doesn’t like it. All he feels is anger and a need to destroy. “Good times,” Spike says. “Go with it.” He thinks Giles should get to do the destructive things Spike no longer can. Giles doesn’t want to become a monster just because he looks like one. He still has a soul and a conscience. He’s a human. He suddenly tells Spike to stop the car. He’s spotted Walsh downtown, and he gets out of the car to growl at her and chase her, just for fun.

Xander finally finds the demon he saw in a book. Buffy doesn’t look forward to battling something that can spray her with mucus. Willow reads that it can be killed by a weapon made of silver. Riley reports that Walsh was attacked by the demon, which got out of a gray Citroën. The Scoobies know that’s Giles’ car. “Why would a demon steal a car?” Xander wonders. “Why would a demon steal that car?” Anya adds.

Buffy thinks that means this demon has a purpose, which doesn’t fit what they’ve read about Fyarls. Maybe it’s doing someone’s bidding – the same someone who used the magic that disrupted Willow’s spell. Buffy tells Willow and Xander to stay at Giles’ in case the person controlling the demon calls for a ransom. She and Riley will go to the magic shop to see if anyone bought supplies. She grabs a silver letter opener in case they encounter the demon along the way.

Spike and Giles go to the bar where Giles and Ethan drank the night before. Spike questions their waitress, who knows the motel where Ethan was staying. Meanwhile, Buffy and Riley break into the magic shop (which was unnecessary, since he has a master key that opens every shop on Main Street) to look for sales receipts. Buffy quickly finds one for Ethan, so Riley calls in a search for motel registrations with his name.

He tells Buffy that Walsh gave him orders not to bring Buffy along when he finds the demon. Buffy refuses to sit out: “You’re not taking me with you. I am going and I am letting you come along.” Riley says it’s not her call, since this is now a military operation. She invites him to call in some troops to try to stop her. She’s not letting anyone else kill the demon that hurt Giles.

Giles is getting more and more Fyarl-like, and all he feels like doing is killing people. “Good for you,” Spike says. He notes that they’ve picked up a tail. “Yes, just a little one. Hurts when I sit,” Giles replies. He means you’re being followed, buddy. The Initiative has tracked them down, and the Citroën isn’t going to be able to stay out ahead of them for long. Giles suggests that he jump out so the commandos follow Spike, but Spike doesn’t like that idea. He gives in when Giles offers him another $100.

Ethan is packing to leave town when Giles bursts into his motel room. Ethan tries to get him to calm down, since he can’t undo what he did if Giles kills him. When Buffy and Riley arrive, Ethan tells them that the demon killed Giles. Buffy puts Riley on Ethan-watching duty while she fights the demon. Meanwhile, Spike leads the Initiative’s vehicles on a car chase, but he’s so proud of himself for losing them that he isn’t paying attention, and he crashes Giles’ car.

Buffy fights Giles while Riley fights Ethan. Giles is clearly so caught up in his new demon nature that he forgets that he’s beating up someone who’s like a daughter to him. She eventually gets him on his back on the ground, and she raises the letter opener to stab him in the chest. “This is for Giles,” she says. “For me?” he replies, confused. She plunges the letter opener into his chest, realizing just moments too late that she stabbed Giles. Fortunately, the letter opener doesn’t kill him. Buffy decides it must not be real silver.

Ethan laments sticking around town instead of just leaving after he’s done his damage: “It’s the stay-and-gloat that gets me every time.” He’s made Giles human again, and since Giles didn’t have a shirt with him, he’s had to put on one of Ethan’s, which is definitely not Giles’ style. He asks Buffy how she knew it was him. She says it was his eyes – he’s the only person who can look that annoyed with her.

Ethan thinks Buffy will let him go, since he’s human and a Slayer can’t do anything to him. No, but the Initiative can take him to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert and try to rehabilitate him. Giles excitedly goes outside to watch him get shoved into a Humvee. Buffy appreciates Riley and the Initiative’s help, and Riley admires her strength and how she takes charge. Sounds like he doesn’t like having to take Walsh’s orders all the time. He thinks that with another week of training, he’ll be able to take Buffy on.

Giles gets himself a new phone, since he smashed his while he was a demon, and implies to Buffy that she needs to call him more often and tell him important things. She apologizes for not telling him about Riley and the Initiative and promises to keep him more informed in the future. Giles makes it clear that he doesn’t want her to spill any secrets, but he’s concerned about the Initiative after what Ethan said.

Buffy notes that she’s just dating Riley, not the whole organization, and he’s a good guy. Giles gets that, but he’s part of something they don’t understand. Buffy suspects that Giles sees the organization negatively because he doesn’t like Walsh. He advises her to keep her eyes open and be aware of what she’s getting into.

Walsh is annoyed that Riley broke protocol for Buffy. She warns him to be careful with his new girlfriend – she acts on instinct and her loyalties aren’t clear. Riley promises that Walsh won’t be disappointed in her. Buffy’s good at what she does and is the “truest soul” he’s ever met. “Lord, spare me college boys in love,” Walsh teases. She thinks he’s probably right and she’ll end up being impressed. After Riley leaves, she lets herself into a restricted area of the Initiative and opens a door marked 314.

Thoughts: I wish we’d gotten more Ethan episodes. His and Giles’ dynamic is so fun to watch. I would have loved to see him pretend to be rehabilitated, then go back to his evil ways.

“You were myth-taken” is brilliant.

I like this season for the most part but the fact that we’re halfway in and there’s no Big Bad is poor planning.

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