Buffy the Vampire Slayer S04 E12 – Beware of old friends bearing booze.

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)


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:

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x12 - “A New Man”

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.
Giles: [growls]
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.

A few gifs per episode | Buffy - 4x12 - “A New Man”


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

Marines (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.

Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I spend too much time on YouTube. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.

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  • Maybe it’s because we have a deep Disney princess bond, Sweeney, but I thought about the same exact Beauty and the Beast moment during Tara & Willow’s magic petal-plucking. (I intended that to sound dirty, but maybe not THAT dirty.)

    I totally forgot about Demon!Giles chasing EBM down the street. Oh my GOD, what a phenomenal moment.

    • I’m glad to know I’m not entirely alone on that one.

      It was magical. I don’t like this episode, but I could watch that gif forever and ever.

  • Jen

    This episode basically sums up why I don’t like Riley. I can only take so much “Wah! My girlfriend’s stronger than I am!” moping. Buffy can clearly beat the snot out of either Angel or Spike if she wants to, yet they don’t have an existential crisis over it. And Riley’s dumb comment about how Buffy might just be able to “take” him makes me nostalgic for when Bitchy Buffy in S2Ep1 says something similar to Angel and he gives her an appropriate WTF response.

    DemonGiles chasing EBM down the street is now my favorite gif. Hilarious.

    • I’m glad that it exists as a gif so that I can watch it a millionty times without having to actually watch the episode.

      Also YES to everything you said about Riley.

    • SnazzyO

      I agree that Buffy compensating for Riley is not of the good. I like that Riley is consciously aware of his own sense of inadequacy and still cheering her on “I like it.” I DON’T like that he thinks just a week of extra workouts and he’s going to “take her”.

      So… I think Riley serves a decent purpose. It basically says that only a man who is willing to NOT compete with Buffy on the superpower gig is going to be truly comfortable with her powers. Angel worked because he shared the superpowers. We saw how closely they were matched when they went all out in the Becoming Pt 2 sword fight. So Riley’s choice is going to be get comfortable with NOT being the Alpha in the crowd (a HARD spot for a guy who is the leader of his own secret military demon squad) or he’s going to have to let Buffy go.

      This is NOT Buffy’s problem.

      OTOH, isn’t Buffy’s reaction a COMMON problem that strong women have? To not hide her light under a bushel for fear of overshadowing her boyfriend? I’m not saying it’s a GOOD thing, I’m saying it’s a “thing”.

      • Jen

        I agree that Riley’s sense of competitiveness with Buffy is understandable, as is Buffy’s deliberate down-playing of her own abilities for his sake. So, Riley isn’t a horrible character or anything, but I still dislike their dynamic. It irritates me.

        You’re right on the message that comes out of this whole thing, I think. Buffy needs someone who is comfortable with her strength, whether or not they can match it, and who she feels comfortable being herself with. I don’t know if she necessarily needs a super-powered partner, but that is the dynamic that seems to work best on the show. A normal person would have to compensate by being an incredibly interesting, exceptional character, and Riley just…isn’t.

        • +1 to everything you said, which I just saw now after my own feeble attempt to say this.

          1- I don’t like their dynamic and personally think they have the chemistry of two moist towelettes. All of the irritations.

          2 – ” A normal person would have to compensate by being an incredibly interesting, exceptional character, and Riley just…isn’t.”


      • I almost had a moment of, “aw okay,” when Riley said “I like it,” to
        Buffy. But then he follows it up with the “give me a few weeks” thing
        and JUST UGH. THIS IS HIS PROBLEM. He thinks not being able to beat
        Buffy is a thing to be rectified.

        I would only say that it is
        Buffy’s problem in so much as sticking around, taking it, or modifying
        her behavior to accommodate it.

        You raise a really good point
        about what issues Riley raises, and I think you are really onto
        something. I’m having a hard time articulating why exactly I’m not
        enjoying Riley’s purpose, even just beyond a “I don’t like to see a
        character I like go through icky things!” perspective. Usually when I
        say, “I don’t like this,” it can either mean, “this is a good story, but
        I don’t like it because it means conflict for a character,” or I mean,
        “this is shit.” I think the Riley arc is shit so far, but I haven’t pin
        pointed why and will probably need to watch the entire thing before I
        manage to put it all together.

        For now, I’ll just say that I get what’s happening, I think there is potential there, but I’m not liking how it’s playing out. 🙂

        • Jojo

          Everything about Riley feels false – he just seems to be a contrivance.Just like I talk about Buffy surrogates on Angel (how many small blondes are there eventually?) Rile is an Angel surrogate built to be a photo negative. Never broods, almost always cheerful, treats Buffy with chivalry, has a past of mayo on white bread. And he is able to fight beside her too.

      • Jojo

        Or a beta who is super powered but willing to cede her the Alpha role.

  • This would have been a pretty great episode without the Initiative and Riley bullshit to interfere with the hilariousness that is Demon!Giles! Episodely reminder that I love Giles 🙂

    Until I saw the 314 door I totally forgot what was behind it. Ugh, why, Whedon, why did you think The Initiative was a great plot to drag out through a whole season? This episode was a real turning point for me because Buffy suddenly praising EBM and wanting to support the Initiative sounds wrong. I also started to really dislike Riley from this episode onwards because he clearly cannot handle being out-strengthened by a girl. He acts all nice and understanding but in reality he can’t handle not being the alpha-male. I just don’t like him at all.

    And awwww, Tara and Willow feels *sits here and hugs herself*

    • Seeing the 314 door and remembering that we’re only at the halfway point on this awful arc made me want to weep.

      • Same *cries in a dark corner about the awfulness that is The Initiative storyline*

        • I thought that I had the full scope of terrible Initiative-ness.
          BRB. Crying.

    • SnazzyO

      ****blows her kazoo to enter into the defense mode***

      Actually I think it’s a fairly well-crafted plot. Up until this point we have EBM just being a run-of-the-mill-uber-bitch. NOW we know she’s doing something SUPER shady behind a door that Riley doesn’t get to go through. I like that. She’s starting to look TRULY evil EBM.

      I also like how Ethan talks to Giles about 314 being the big boogey man scaring the demons. I like that he is in touch with the demon community.

      • I just really like that your defense always comes with a kazoo.

  • Polge Clément

    I think Riley has a hard time wrapping his head around the BADASSNESS that is Buffy, but I can understand that… That’s a lot of badassery to take in. I don’t even hate Riley, I just don’t like him, he’s really tasteless for me.

    That episode was awesome though, Giles as a demon is so hilarious. And for a psych teacher, that evil bitch monster doesn’t seem very subtle, or even good at all with people… She just antagonised EVERYONE in one episode, included the one person you should avoid pissing off.

    Also, as far as surprising slayer go, I’ll just refer to one of the gif you used a while ago:http://www.snarksquad.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/faithdancepunch.gif

    • THAT GIF. I’m glad you brought it back

      Read the comment below, RE: EBM’s motivations.

    • I hate Riley but then again I say I hate everything and everything is the worst. So. There you have it.


  • darkalter2000

    I don’t know if this is just my hate talking or this is legit but here we go.
    I think Walsh purposely tore down Giles to get a psychological edge over him in controling Buffy.
    Here is how I think this goes;

    1) She learns there is a Slayer and decides to start moving to control her. Like her commandos.

    b) She meets a strange man looking for Buffy who seems privy to her private conversations and thoughts. He also doesn’t seem to have a legitimate connection to her, but he seems to have nothing but praise for her and is an advocate of freedom from control.

    cat) Maggie concludes Giles is privy to Buffy being The Slayer and decides that his encouragment will be a hinderence. She thus procedes to tear Giles a new asshole using her psychology degree as a weapon. She doesn’t care if what she says to Giles is true or not, she did it for her own reasons.

    This is my 6th or 7th (maybe more) go through but the first time I have actively broke down the motives of the characters so maybe I’m wrong, but does this seem legit to anybody else?

    • This sounds way legit to me. I never got around to going back in to comment, but the other thing that annoyed me about that scene was that it felt kind of OOC to me. I know we haven’t seen THAT much of her character, but for a psych prof to be so oblivious, and for her to be so obsessed with the male role models business… it felt like it was strictly contrivance to add fuel to the Giles Feels Fire.

      With that in mind, I like your analysis because it makes the scene make a lot more sense to me. I still don’t like it or this episode, but it makes a lot more sense this way.

      • Polge Clément

        Yeah but isn’t point 1 already a huge fail ? She should realise you can’t control Buffy like one of her commando, but that you can just ask her, and she should instead try to mimick Giles, while pointing out what she has that he doesn’t (man, money, ressources, …)

        Also, isn’t putting Giles down the best way to antagonize him, making him weary of her, and passing his doubt on to Buffy ?

        It just seems too much of a “full-on” approach, I would have imagined her being a lot more insuniating, making her way step by step, instead of just trying to bazooka her way in.

        • Jojo

          I think she’s just an asshole. Really. A major league asshole.

          (Puts arm around Giles and goes to buy him a drink)

          • I want to agree with all of this, so I guess I’m going with E all of the above. I think that EBM realizes that Giles is SOMEONE important to/invested in Buffy and is thus an asshole. I think it was reactionary, much in the way we later see Giles hop out of the car and chase her. I think then, that those two scenes almost mirror each other, each of them acting out on their petty, darker, reactionary “I just don’t like you” impulses.

            But we all know that Giles is the best and Walsh can STFU.

    • SnazzyO

      I’m going to accept this as my new head canon. Thank you!

      While I agree with Polge Clément about it lacking subtlety, I think once Buffy got on Walsh’s radar she became a person of significance and getting her on the Initiative team became a priority. We’ve already seen that Walsh TEACHES about humanity but doesn’t actually practice it. So she may be failing to realize the serious boomerang potential for this.

    • I have other things to say which I will further down, but I just want to tell you that I <3 you for counting with 1, b, cat. Just in addition to everything else you say, A+.

    • JEL

      I really like this theory as well. It fits very well with what will be seen in the upcoming episodes. (Poor Lor is pretty well spoiled on this season, so I don’t think this comment adds to that at all.)

    • Yes. That felt totally calculating and vicious, like she was deliberately undermining other authority figures in Buffy’s life.

  • Anagnorisis

    I think I saw this episode only once, I’m not a big fan of season 4 and I always forget it has some decent episodes.

    Ethan Rayne!!! Count me in with those who like this character. Also I want to know exactly what kind of “experimenting with magic” did he and Giles did when they were young and rebellious I mean, come on. We know what magic represents! Symbolism!

    And nothing in the world will ever convince me that Ethan is straight.

    I remember I kind of liked Evil Bitch Monster, why? Maybe because I like women in power. And she is also a psychologist and likes monsters? I don’t know, something was wrong with me, obviously. For example, I didn’t remember the whole “male authority figure”. Horrible. She is probably Lacanian.

    At least Riley isn’t all bad. Look at the positive side: he gives Bangels and Spuffys a common enemy. We can all be friends this season! XD

    • lev36

      I love Ethan for the same reasons, and was saddened by the actor’s passing.

      One thing I think Ethan did better than ANYONE on the show was incantations. I mean, Willow comes to be a Great And Powerful witch (hopefully that’s not too much of a spoiler!), but her Latin remains, well, utterly lame (at one point she even acknowledges this and finishes up a spell in English).

      But Sachs could pour out a string of Latin phrases and make them sound like (1) he actually spoke the language and knew what he was saying, and (2) it was not just Latin, but super-evil Latin filled with Dark Purpose.

      • Anagnorisis

        That’s a good point (the Latin thing), I didn’t noticed that much at first, but now that I’m rewatching some episodes I can see what you mean. But yes to Willow and Latin, that was always kind of awkward…

    • LOL, symbolism! It’s funny they mention that in this episode with the magical symbolic love rose, or whatnot.

      Bangels and Spuffys at The Table of Ugh, drinking their way until the end of Riley. I like it.

      Robin Sachs! When I read the news those months ago, I emailed the girls and we all had that same “death sucks” reaction. To be honest, however, I did forget of his passing, and now I’m sad all over again. He was great in the role, regardless of if you favor the character or not.

      • Anagnorisis

        Drinks for everybody!

        Also: flower? Subtle!

    • There were six of them: five men and one woman. They summoned an orgy demon together and let it ride them like a loa, like it did to Jenny Calendar. O.o I’m not even sure the magical symbolism is necessary.

      • Jojo

        That’s all there was in canon, but I suspect there was a whole lot more and more than just a few months – I also got the impression this was after college that Giles rebelled and jumped off the track.I love the small flashes of Ripper that show up.

        • Oh, absolutely. I’m just saying that canon gives us some pretty obvious real sex without even getting into magic as symbolic sex.

  • SnazzyO

    I love petty Giles attacking Walsh. An awesome character moment for an always awesome character. THANK YOU for the gif.
    Robin Sachs (Ethan Rayne) died IRL this past year (RIP). Personally I loved his character for a variety of reasons:
    1) Yes, he brings out the Ripper
    2) He just has FUN. Sometimes it’s evil FUN but he’s got a sense of whimsy I like.
    3) I like the way he talks to Giles, the fact that they were old friends and the sense that Ethan and Giles were mates up until they came to a fork in the road and Ethan went one way and Giles another. It makes for all sorts of fanfic I imagine (how could there NOT be an Ethan/Giles ship out there?).
    Loved Spike’s sense of fun while in the car chase. Can you imagine if Spike and Ethan decided to team up? These two would bring serious havoc to any party.
    I like how you point out Buffy being miss insensitive in this episode. I think that she suffers from some shoddy characterization from time to time for plot points.

    • There is an element of, “I did it ’cause I was bored,” when it comes to Ethan. I think that’d be me as a villain. I’d never have a master plan, just temporary-I’m-bored plans. Spike is somewhat like that too, which is probably why Sweeney gets the same Scooby Doo vibe from them both.

      That’s weird about Spike. I mean, I can see from Spike’s POV why he would be ready to face the world, but why would the Scoobies suddenly be all, “sure. Go forth and be happy!” about it. And if they were never holding him and he was just hanging out, uh, why? Spike brings the the entertainment this season, but the non-sensical kind. It’s okay. He did make that car scene fantastic.

      • Jojo

        Yeah – season four just kinda sucks in some ways. All seasons have clunker episodes but this season had 3 flats.

        Spike is too often the amusing sidekick. Giles is an unemployed librarian, Tara is kinda pulling Willow away. Xander and Anya have issues.

        The trouble is that the episodes go more toward defeating the baddies without really exploring what is going on with the characters. So most of it does kinda seem nonsensical, particularly Spike. His normal role in the group had to change because of the chip. Next season more of that is explored and I think there is better balance.

  • Jojo

    I kinda love Ethan Rayne – but I am quite convinced he and Giles had a heavy Ds relationship back when they were doing magic so I have some serious head canon going. In fact, I think part of why Giles doesn’t like Spike is that Spike reminds him of his wicked past. But Giles and Spike – whenever they are together – comedy gold.

    As for Tardis inside/outside structures – like the one Spike is measuring – just wait until you see the inside of the crypts! And I still hate the Initiative. Which leads to the question – why are they doing what they do? Okay -Spike is chipped but they didn’t let him out – in fact they want to capture him. So what do they intend to do with all their chipped demons? Sell them as slaves? A demon whorehouse? Inquiring minds and all that.

    The initiative – can we use brain bleach now? No – your right – save it for episode 18. Most of episode 18. The initiative is the most brainless, least thought out contrivance that can ever be contrived. And did I mention thoroughly evil and still so boring.

    Oh, and Riley trying to one up and out fight Buffy. Uh…yeah. As each episode passes I realize why I can’t stand Riley. Because his subtle message is – you women – I man – I protect! I do love Buffy’s response when he tells her she can’t go to find Giles. Uh-huh…..and how do you intend to stop me…Riley is so full of lose…c’mon Buffy!

    • If they did Ds it makes Giles “hitting you is going to make my day” comment all the better, really.

      I’m not having fun with the Initiative. I’m *almost* to the point where my mind isn’t even inquiring. Just sort of dull and achy. Onward to episode 18, apparently.

      What’s more about Riley is that it isn’t quite “I protect you.” He clearly knows she can protect her damn self. It’s more you women- I man- must be better than you.

      I’m channeling Spike when I tell Riley to sod off.

      • JEL

        Actually infamous episode 18 has basically nothing to do with the Initiative arc. It may make the Initiative arc almost palatable in comparison. (Or who knows, maybe you’ll be one of those who likes it. I’m sure there are some people that do.)

        While the next couple of episodes are arc heavy, a goodly number of the ones after that have very little to do with the arc. Maybe that will be encouraging. They do have Riley of course since he is a regular for now.

      • Jojo

        Yeah, but I would conflate be stronger than you and protect you – in his mind at this stage.

        Obnoxious question and nitpicking are my way of handling story elements that I loathe. Okay – it’s not a passionate loathe. It’s more like having an elderly neighbor drop by with cookies and you take one and stand in the hall listening to her talk and finally you wish you had run away because now you have to either invite her in or stand in the door listening to her tell about her dead husband and the cookies taste like shit but you do still owe her at least the length of your chew and swallow.. That’s how I feel about the initiative being in the episodes.

        My other Initiative pony is righteous indignation but I have paraded that a few times.

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  • Izzygirl

    Love this ep. Especially how Anthony Head managed to convey all those classic ‘Giles’ expressions while wearing that mask. And the flabbergasted way he said “Spike?!?” when the Scoobies told him Spike was also in on the Riley/Innitiative secret- priceless!
    I wasn’t really a fan of season 6 or 7- was any mention ever made of Ethan’s final fate?

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  • SonicRulez

    Oh boy, it’s a “Riley has an incredibly fragile ego and Buffy placates him” episode. Fuck right off Riley, you are the worst.