Previously: The gang went back to high school, Riley looked up “Slayer, the” and Spike discovered that he can hit demons.
A New Man
Kirsti: We open in the Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room where Buffy and Riley are making out on her bed and the background music suggests that the show has been relocated to Capeside. I fully expect Joey Potter to climb in the window any minute (#TeamPacey). (L: #duh) Riley asks if she’s expecting anyone (yes, Joey Potter. We just established that, dude), and she says that Willow’s going to be at the library all night. He starts to pull her shirt up and Willow, cockblocker extraordinaire, bursts through the door to rescue us all from the need for brain bleach (which is an excellent thing, because I know what’s coming in episode 18, and we’ll need to hoard that shit like it’s gold). She says there’s trouble in the rec room, and that said trouble is breathing fire. Buffy grabs a bunch of weapons and heads down to the rec room where the lights snap on and SURPRISE BUFFY BIRTHDAY. Okay, is it just me, or is surprising the Slayer a really bad idea? I mean, look how well it turned out in season 2…
Sweeney: Surprising the Slayer definitely seems like a solid way to get something broken, if not somebody killed. It’s also a little weird that nobody clued Riley in, since he awkwardly rolled in with a crossbow. A little warning might have been nice.
Lorraine: Additionally, it was sweet contrivant luck that B tossed the crossbow to Riley and didn’t walk in on her party with it herself. Try explaining that one…
K: After the credits, Giles, Xander and Anya are standing around awkwardly being the Non-College People at the College Party. Giles says the rec room reminds him of public school, which makes my head hurt because public school in England is the complete opposite of what it is everywhere else in the world. Anya is her adorably rude self, and Giles is left on his own. Jump to sometime later and Buffy introducing Wallflower Giles to Riley – her boyfriend. Giles is all “Uh, WHUT?” and Riley puts his foot in it by asking where Giles is working now that the Wiggins Library is all burnt down and stuff. Buffy sends him off on a cake getting mission and apologises to Giles. She then says that it’s nice to have everyone together for her birthday, but that “you could smash all my toes with a hammer and it’d still be the bestest Buffy birthday bash in a big long while.” Aww. Poor Buff.
Sweeney: So true. It’s actually a tad surprising that she’s not anxiously waiting for something horrifying and tragic to go down. I would be. But then, I would have just given up and died forever ago.
K: Me too. Giles says that Willow and Xander did the planning, and that he would have ixnayed the surprise element on account of SLAYER. Buffy quotes the Evil Bitch Monster at him, and then says she’s the smartest person she’s ever met. Giles looks hurt and says that maybe they should have invited the Evil Bitch Monster to the party as well. Buffy’s all “Oh, but she’s totally old and has better things to do!” and Giles looks awkward.
Lor: Oh, so this is going to be a “Buffy is completely unaware of other people’s feelings” episode? Okay.
K: Cut to the Fruit Roll Up Basement the next day. Spike is moving out, and Xander wants to know why packing his total lack of possessions is taking so damned long. Spike steals some stuff, and Xander’s all “Uh, THEFT.” Spike’s reply? “And you’re what? Shocked and disappointed? I’M EVIL.” LOL. Anya asks where he’s thinking of moving to, and he thinks maybe a crypt.
Spike: Some place, you know, dark and dank. But not as dark and dank as this.
Anya: It’s pretty depressing, isn’t it?
Spike: I’ve known corpses with a fresher smell. In fact, I’ve been one.
Xander: That’s it! Let’s go.
As he goes to push Spike out the door (into the daylight??), Anya stops him because she wants to give Spike a housewarming gift – Xander’s lamp. Xander’s all “STOP TAKING MY STUFF!” and Spike points out that a crypt won’t have electricity anyway. Anya’s all “EW. Gross” and recommends a hotel room instead. Spike thinks this is a great idea and grovels for some money. Xander tells him to leave before he calls Buffy to kick him out, and Spike wants to know why she isn’t there to bid him farewell. Because, Xander says, “she has an appointment with someone who’s still scary.” (L: I want to know why he can suddenly move out…)
Cut to Evil Bitch Monster’s office. Apparently the Initiative thought the Slayer was a myth, which allows Buffy to make the terrible pun “Well, you were myth-taken.” The Evil Bitch Monster says that she always knew Buffy could do better than her B- grade, and OUCH. If homegirl can retain a B- while saving the world on a weekly basis, attending your class every day, and surviving on like 3 hours of sleep a night, I think she deserves all the high fives. Anyway, Evil Bitch Monster is trying to get Buffy clearance to see the The Abysmal Plot Arc Research Facility so that they can work together. She then boasts about how awesome they are, and says that Riley alone has captured 17 beasties – 11 vampires and 6 demons. Buffy looks really awkward, because that’s a standard Tuesday night for her, and the Evil Bitch Monster asks how many she’s killed. Buffy’s all “Uhhhhhhhh…”
Sweeney: It’s great because EBM asks in a way that’s totally, “LOL, GIRL, HOW MANY HAVE YOU KILLED, HUH?” I’m bummed we didn’t get to hear any of Buffy’s reply. Actually, no, I’m not, because between protecting her boyfriend’s ego and her adoration for EBM, it would not have been the verbal takedown I now get to imagine in my own headcanon version.
Lor: Agreed. I did not like this scene and the grovel-y tone of it. YOU ARE THE SLAYER. Puff out your chest a little! I think Willow, Cordy and Xander have probably taken out 17 baddies, each. STFU. Mostly, though, I don’t want Buffy anywhere near the Evil Bitch Monster or the Initiative. RUN GIRL.
K: Cosign on all the things. Is there a “We hate the Evil Bitch Monster” club on campus at Contrivance U? Because if so, I want in.
Meanwhile, Giles is dusting his books because these are things that you do when you’re unemployed. He stops and thinks for a second, then grabs a book and flips through it. After staring at the page for a second and doing some calculations, he says “Oh CRAP,” and we cut to him on the phone to Willow while packing up a bunch of supplies. Apparently, a demon prince is about to rise.
Back at Contrivance U, the briefing is over and Buffy and Riley are wandering outside. Riley’s all “HOLY SHIT” while Buffy tries to downplay her wikkid skillz. He wonders what the plural of apocalypse is, and then freaks again when she says that if he’d been fighting since he were 15, he’d have a pretty big kill tally too. He marvels a little at her strength, and says that he’s not even sure he could take her. “That all depends on your meaning,” she replies, and I puke into the rubbish bin as the Capeside music strikes up again.
Lor: HATE. HATE HATE HATE. I hate that Buffy feels the need to downplay her slayerage for Riley. Either he accepts that you can kick his ass or you both need to move on. And even if Buffy felt the need to appear as normal as possible (in front of the secret military guy, PFFT) Riley’s “I’m not sure I can take you?” UGH. HATE. WHY DOES THAT MATTER? I HATE YOU.
K: Giles knocks on the Evil Bitch Monster’s office door and says that he’s looking for Buffy and that he’s heard a lot about the Evil Bitch Monster. She makes a comment about how Buffy’s clearly been lacking encouragement in regards to academia, and that Buffy doesn’t have a male role model and DON’T YOU DARE BADMOUTH THE BEST SURROGATE PARENT ON TELEVISION. She and Giles butt heads, and it’s clearly a set up for the rest of the season and Buffy’s allegiances being torn between her two role models. Ugh. Mostly, I just want to punch the Evil Bitch Monster in her big stupid face. She says that she has things to do, and leaves while Giles stands there doing an impression of a goldfish.
Sweeney: She has been pretty awesome up to now, but this episode is a turning point for her. I think it’s probably the #1 reason I hate her. I have a fuzzy memory of reasons I’ll hate her later, but really, I hate her for making Giles feel small. STFU, BITCH. Also, a general fuck you to this whole, “NEEDZ MOAR MALE ROLE MODELS,” take on Buffy. Giles aside, Buffy is a certified badass and I resent the very idea that a lack of male role models would somehow explain her mediocre performance in school. FUCK ALL OF THIS. (L: Yes. +1)
K: + ALL THE NUMBERS.
Cut to the cemetery that night. Giles has recruited Willow and Xander to help on account of not being able to find Buffy. They walk into a crypt and there’s absolutely nothing there. Willow and Xander think “Oh, Riley and the Initiative probably dealt with it, can we go now?” while Giles is all “WAIT. Wait wait wait wait wait. RILEY is a Super Secret Soldier??” Poor Giles. He’s having a rough week. Willow and Xander make it worse by adding that hardly anyone knew, only them and Buffy and Anya and Spike. At the mention of Spike, Giles goes off the deep end and starts ranting while the others look sheepish. Giles tells them to leave, and they run off. Giles sighs and packs up his stuff, then heads out too. And then this happens:
ETHAN!!! Not gonna lie, I kind of love Ethan Rayne. Probably because the episodes in which he’s the villain tend towards the hilarious.
Sweeney: #MEH. I like when he brings out Ripper, but I’m not a huge fan of his. That little bit there was amusing though.
Lor: I giggled! Villain soliloquies are such a big trope that I appreciate when they are made fun of.
K: Giles is also thrilled to see Ethan, on account of he can beat the living shit out of him and no one will care. Also, it’ll make his day suck less. But just as Giles is about to have an awesome Ripper moment, Ethan begs for mercy and says that he’s got important information to tell Giles about something bad that’s coming to Sunnydale. So obviously, they go and have a beer.
Over said beer, Ethan tells Giles that there’s something non-Slayer-y hurting demons, and it has them scared. Especially something called 314. Giles doesn’t mention the Super Secret Soldiers, even when Ethan says that it’s throwing the worlds out of balance. “We’re heading, quite literally, for one hell of a fight,” he says. And with that, we cut to…some kind of gym. Buffy and Riley are sparring. He’s grinning like an idiot while she’s just going through the motions. He grabs her and they both confess that they’ve been holding back. “I’ll go all out if you will,” Riley says. And Buffy sidekicks him across the room. LOL FOREVER. Especially when a gym mat then falls on top of him. Buffy rushes over to Riley, who’s shaken and a little bruised around the ego but otherwise fine.
Back at the bar, Giles is tipsy and ranting to Ethan about the Evil Bitch Monster. Ethan, meanwhile, is hitting on their waitress. Giles mopes some more: “Someone snuck in and left us a couple of has-beens in our place. This Initiative, I mean, their methods may be causing problems, but they’re getting the job done. Where am I? I’m an unemployed librarian with a tendency to get knocked on the head.” I love it when they comment on how much Giles gets knocked out. (S: +1. I like most of the abundant meta-moments.) There’s some drunken bonding and they toast to magic, and we cut to Tara’s dorm room. She and Willow are about to do a spell that requires hovering a rose and then plucking the petals off one by one. Aaaaaand thus commences the use of magic as a metaphor. The Tinkly Piano and the String Section of Emotion back me up on this. Unfortunately, the rose doesn’t cooperate, flying around the room until it lands, smoking and petal-less.
Sweeney: I might be the only one, but I immediately thought of this, and was sad:
Lor: SO TARA IS A BEAST, YEAH? Just kidding.
K: At Giles’ the next morning, he stomps down the stairs to discover that he’s been turned into a demon. He blunders around, breaking chunks off his flat on account of he now has demon strength. And when he tries to get dressed, he tears his shirt in half. He gives up, grabs a blanket, and heads out, ripping the front door off its hinges on his way. Over at Contrivance U, Buffy and Willow are having breakfast, and Buffy’s all happy and talking about preferences for breakfast foods: pancakes and waffles both get big ticks, the first because they’re stackable, the second because you can put things in the holes. I wonder if she realises that they’re the exact same thing, just in different forms…
Anyway, Willow fills her in on the “rose-based missile” while leaving out the whole Tara part, and says that she could feel a dark power and that maybe someone’s doing naughty bad magicks. Buffy says she’ll tell Giles, and then stops and wonders if maybe she should tell the Evil Bitch Monster instead. Willow recommends telling Giles on account of he’s hurt about the whole everyone-but-me-knew-about-Riley thing. Buffy then says that she’s spending the day with Riley and tells Willow about kicking him across the room. Willow says that it was the right thing to do (LOL) because she can’t keep pretending to be a weak little girly girl. Oh, season 2. I miss you… Buffy gets an awkward look on her face and says that she WAS holding back when she kicked Riley. Double LOL.
Meanwhile, Demon!Giles is over at the Fruit Rollup Basement. Xander’s still asleep. Demon!Giles shakes the bed a little and softly tells Xander to wake up and that Ethan has turned him into a demon and not to freak out. Except that when Xander wakes up, all he sees is a giant demon speaking a demon language, so obviously he freaks out and starts throwing things at Giles, who turns and runs up the stairs.
That night, Xander’s filling the gang in on his being attacked by a demon thing as they head to Giles’ to ask for his help in researching it. But when they turn up and see the place trashed, they all freak out. Buffy says that he’s clearly not dead because there’s no blood. The ever optimistic Anya finds Giles’ torn shirt on the floor and decides that he’s been eaten. Giles, meanwhile, is wandering dejectedly through the cemetery. He passes a crypt, which Spike is busy measuring. Spike’s thrilled because demon = THING I CAN KILL YAY. Giles sighs and says “Spike. The perfect end to a perfect day…” Except that it is, because Spike speaks Fyarl and can therefore understand what Giles is saying. Spike finds it hilarious, and responds to Giles’ request for help with a “And I’m supposed to just help you out of the evilness of my heart?” Giles replies that if Spike helps, he won’t kill him. When Spike’s all “LOL, NICE INCENTIVE,” Giles offers him money. Spike says he’ll go and get Buffy, but Giles wants to handle it without her knowing. Aww. Poor neglected-feeling Giles.
Sweeney: I DON’T LIKE IT. It gives me sads. Make it stop.
K: Back at his flat, the Scoobies are working on demon identification. Riley turns up on account of the Initiative taps 911, and Giles’ neighbours complained about the giant demon. He asks what they’re working on, and Buffy says “We have stuff…pictures.” Anya chimes in cheerfully with “We have nothing!” and I just love her so much. Riley offers the assistance of The Initiative while Buffy wishes that Giles were there to help with the Giles finding. “No one’s cooler in a crisis,” Xander says, and we cut to Spike driving Giles’ car while Demon!Giles is back seat driving. Well, technically it’s passenger seat driving, but whatevs. This whole scene is freaking hilarious and I love it, so I’m going to give you everything:
Giles: If you can’t find third gear, don’t try for third gear!
Spike: I’m doing my best. I don’t know if I’m driving this thing or wearing it.
Giles: It’s perfectly serviceable.
Spike: (laughs) Funny hearing a Fyarl demon say “serviceable.” Had a couple of them working for me once. They’re more like “Like to crush. Crush now?” Strong though. You won’t meet a jar you can’t open for the rest of your life.
Spike: (looks at him) What was that? Did you growl?
Giles: …No. Listen, about this Fyarl demon. Do-do I have special powers? Like setting things on fire with my sizzling eye beams?
Spike: Well, you got the mucus thing.
Giles: What? Mucus?
Spike: Paralysing mucus. Shoots out through the nose. Sets on fast. Hard as a rock. Pretty good in a fight.
Giles: Are you making this up?
Spike: (sly grin) Maybe. But hey, you feel a sneeze coming on, you warn me.
They turn a corner and he sees the Evil Bitch Monster and he makes Spike stop the car so that he can chase her down the street. It’s brilliant.
Sweeney: I loved this. Giles is all around fantastic, but it’s humanizing to know that he can be a tad petty, though ONLY IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE BECAUSE HE’S THE BEST FOREVER.
Lor: And the Evil Bitch deserved it. LACK OF MALE ROLE MODELS MY ASS.
K: Truth. Back at Giles’, Xander’s finally identified the demon. And apparently Spike wasn’t lying about the Epic Snot Powers. Buffy asks how to kill it as Riley gets a phone call telling him that the Evil Bitch Monster has been attacked by a demon driving a Citroen. Willow’s horrified by the idea of a demon stealing Giles’ car, while Xander wants to know WHY a demon would steal a car, and Anya channels Jeremy Clarkson, wanting to know why anyone would steal THAT car.
Buffy joins the dots on car = purpose = demon control = naughty black magicks. She and Riley set off in search of whoever’s controlling the demon while the gang stay behind to wait for a ransom call. (Yes, seriously) (S: Can we just do This Year’s Girl/Who Are You and be done with the season?) Cut to the bar where Spike is chatting up the waitress to see if she still has the phone number Ethan gave her. She doesn’t, but remembers that he was staying at Sunnydale’s one and only cheap shitty motel. Buffy and Riley, meanwhile, have broken into the magic shop to look for receipts. One of them has Ethan’s name on it. Riley makes a call to Initiative HQ and asks them to check hotel records. While they’re waiting for a result, he tells Buffy that the Evil Bitch Monster told him he’s not allowed to take Buffy with him on the demon capturing mission. She’s all “Uh huh, good luck with that,” and he tries to insist because clearly that side kick to the chest didn’t teach him enough about getting between a Slayer and her goal.
Lor: I love her, “bring on the whole fucking army then,” moment. A little glimpse of the badass we know, love and who is currently being hampered by her association with a wet blanket.
K: Back in the car, Giles is becoming increasingly demon-y. “Hey, picked up a tail,” Spike says. “Yes, just a little one. Hurts when I sit…” Giles replies. But no. They’re being tailed by military Humvees. Spike slows down and Giles jumps out as they turn a corner. He heads to the crappy motel and breaks in the door of Ethan’s room. Ethan tells Giles that he can’t de-demon-ify him if he’s dead, but Giles throws him across the room anyway. Luckily for Ethan, Buffy and Riley arrive. Ethan tells them that the demon killed Giles, and Buffy attacks Demon!Giles.
Meanwhile, the Humvees are still chasing Spike, who’s a little too happy about it.
He out manouevres them, but then gets distracted with gloating and drives into a wall. WHOOPS. Back at the motel, Buffy and Demon!Giles continue to fight, while Riley takes on Ethan. Buffy knocks Demon!Giles to the ground and stabs him in the chest with a silver letter opener she took from his house. After she stabs him, she sees his eyes and realises who it is. Luckily for all concerned, the letter opener wasn’t actually silver. Cut to sometime later. Ethan has just finished a spell, and sulks “I really got to learn to just do the damage and get out of town. It’s the “stay and gloat” that gets me every time.” Yup. It really is.
Sweeney: I think this is why I’m so #meh on him. He feels too much like a Scooby Doo villain. I imagine that’s probably part of his appeal for some, though.
Lor: Spike, as we saw just the last scene, is oft done in by gloating too. #meh.
K: I think the reason that I like him is that his motives are ridiculous. He doesn’t want to end the world, he just wants to have a little fun. The same goes with Spike, really.
Giles is back to normal, though dressed in one of Ethan’s awful silky shirts. He asks Buffy how she knew it was him. “Your eyes,” she says. “You’re the only person in the world that can look THAT annoyed with me.” Awww. Ethan would like to be going now, and Buffy’s all “LOL, NICE TRY.” He’s says, “I’m human, you can’t touch me!” so of course Riley has him arrested and sent to a Super Secret Soldier facility in the desert somewhere. Giles goes off to watch and rub his hands with glee, while Riley’s all “You’re superhero strong and really good at being in charge” to Buffy. Apparently he likes it.
At Giles’ apartment the next day, Buffy is getting a mild dose of the guilt trips from her surrogate parent about not telling him things. She apologies and promises to do better in the future. And then this happens:
And I don’t think I will ever get over Giles’ facial expression because BAHAHAHA. The but in question is that he’s worried about the Initiative. He tells her to be careful. With that, we cut to the Abysmal Plot Arc Research Facility where the Evil Bitch Monster is giving Riley basically the same speech, only with less affection and more “Ugh, schmaltz.” At the end of it, she agrees that she’ll probably be proud of Buffy when she gives her a chance. Riley walks off, and the Evil Bitch Monster goes through a keycarded door, and down a corridor to a door marked 314. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN.
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy joins the Initiative and it doesn’t really go that well. Find out more in S04 E13 – The I in Team.