The Dish: Giles gets cock-blocked by a demon from his past. (This is, indeed, what happens when you have school on a Saturday.)
In the dead of the night a formally dressed British man runs like the Dickens across the campus of Sunnydale High. He spots a lone janitor and insists he needs to see Rupert Giles immediately. The janitor is surprisingly nonplussed by this and points the Brit in the direction of the library. Maybe strangers running across campus in the wee hours in search of faculty is a normal occurrence. It is Sunnydale after all.
The British gent appears to be in quite the panicked state as he repeatedly bangs on the back door of the library. Unfortunately he picked the precise moment when Buffy is training with Giles and blasting very loud work-out music (or "noise" as Giles calls it). They can't hear the knocking. At that point the Brit is joined by a woman who looks like a female Giles...except as a corpse. The woman strangles the Brit until he falls to the ground dead. Then she herself dissolves into a blue goo that seeps into the dead Brit's skin. Somehow I don't think that'll make his hands soft and velvety smooth...
The next day at school everything is business as usual for Buffy and the gang. She and Giles discuss plans to patrol at the hospital that night -- it's blood delivery day and they are worried about interception by those of the fanged persuasion. Xander good-naturedly teases Willow and Ms. Calendar about having a computer class on a Saturday...at which point Ms. Calendar tells him to show up at nine and to add insult to injury, Cordelia will be in the class.
After the kids disperse, Ms. Calendar, or Jenny, wants to discuss Saturday plans with Giles. He asks if she wants to go out and Jenny says no, she'd rather stay in, wink wink if ya know what I mean. (SEX! SHE MEANS SEX!) Giles, being the sexy fuddy-duddy that he is, is flustered but clearly elated and agrees. He floats to the library on a cloud of horniness but is sent crashing back to Earth at the presence of two police officers and a detective. The detective tells Giles that a man was found dead outside the library last night with no identification and only Giles's contact info. Cordelia enters and, completely oblivious to the police officers, starts ranting to Giles about being forced to take Saturday's computer class. When she notices the cops she unsuccessfully tries to talk her way out of a driving ticket -- can't accuse that girl of not being opportunistic -- and gets shooed out by Giles. The detective tells Giles to identify the body.
At the morgue, Giles identifies the Brit as Philip Henry, a friend of his from London. He spots a tattoo on Philip's arm that looks kind of like a sperm with webbed hands. The detective asks Giles if he knows the tattoo's meaning and he insists he does not.
That night, Buffy is camped outside the hospital waiting for Giles to show up. He's late which is so unlike him -- "tardiness is, like, the eighth deadly sin". I guess the vamps didn't get the message that Giles was a no-show because they carry on as planned, disguising themselves as doctors and accepting the blood delivery. Buffy crashes their party (and their heads in) and Angel shows up and helps her dust the vamps. Angel can see that Buffy is clearly worried about Giles and offers to get the blood to its proper location so Buffy can check on him. What a sweetie. I swear, every guy I dated in high school (one) should get turned into a vampire and then cursed with a soul. Or just cursed with something. Mua-ha-ha.
Anyway, rocketing back to the episode, Buffy shows up at Giles's house and asks WTF. Giles is very short with her...and do we suspect a little intoxicated? He all but slams the door in her face, telling her that he'll see her on Monday. When she leaves, Giles has a sip of his drink, tsk tsk, and makes a phone call to London asking for a woman named Deirdre. Funny, that's what Philip called the corpse lady....Somehow I don't think Giles will get her on the phone. And shock of all shocks, he is informed that Deirdre has died. He hangs up and crosses her name off a list of five. The only two remaining are his and Ethan Rayne's. Remember, that creep from the costume shop? Giles takes a good hard look at himself in the mirror and rolls up his sleeve to reveal...THE SPERM TATTOO. Something is afoot. Like perhaps the corpse of Philip Henry waking up, eyes flashing yellow, and escaping from the morgue? Yeah, something like that.
Even more traumatizing though is the prospect of school on a Saturday, at least for Cordelia and Xander, who meet up with Jenny and Willow for the shotgun computer class. Xander is all too thrilled by the unexpected arrival of Buffy, until he sees the worry on her face. Buffy fills the group in on Giles's odd behaviour last night, asking Jenny if anything was up. Cordelia waits a good few minutes into the conversation before volunteering the information about the police looking for Giles. This sets Buffy's Worry-Meter into overdrive and she runs to the library to call Giles.
Upon her arrival, she notices the shadow of someone creeping through the stacks. She heads up there and almost gets killed by a falling shelf of books courtesy of...Ethan Rayne. Recognition sets in for Buffy, who remembers him from the costume shop. Confused, she calls Giles and brings him up to speed with Ethan looking on. Ethan also sports the sperm tattoo which he refers to as the Mark of Eyghon. Giles insists that Buffy is in grave danger as long as she is with Ethan...and boy is he right. Guess who crashes the party? None other than the dead Philip Henry. Ethan tries to run just as Xander and the rest of the Scoobies enter the library. Buffy yells for them to stop Ethan and CORDELIA pushes him to the ground. Philip tries to attack but Buffy is able to trap and lock him in Giles's kinky library cage.
Giles shows up and nobody has any clue what is going on, how Ethan knows Giles and why the hell is Ethan calling him "Ripper"? At this point, Philip breaks out of the cage, knocking Jenny unconscious in the process. Buffy gives him a swift kick and Philip turns into blue goo like the Deirdre lady earlier in the episode. Everyone is hella confused, did they kill him? Nobody notices the blue goo seeping into Jenny's skin. She comes too and Giles comforts her, pulling her in for an embrace. Jenny smiles and her eyes flash yellow...just like Philip's.
Amidst the chaos, Ethan is able to escape and Buffy turns to Giles demanding answers. Giles snaps at her and tells her to leave the matter alone and mind her own business. He leaves with Jenny and he's not gone for a second before Buffy gets the gang on the case. Even Cordelia is eager to help. Hellmouth hath frozen over.
Willow discovers the Mark of Eyghon in one of Giles's books and the gang learns that it is a possession demon, who will use the nearest dead or unconscious body as a host. Nobody in the room was dead...but Jenny was unconscious. Buffy phones Giles immediately only to find his phone disconnected.
That's because the Eyghon-infected Jenny unplugged it. She bats her doe-eyes at Giles, thanking him for allowing her to take refuge at his place. That's when she puts the moves on him, but given the events as of late, Giles is not really in the mood. Jenny's voice deepens and her face takes on a demonic look. She attacks Giles but Buffy bursts in and the two rumble. Demon Jenny runs off into the night and Buffy turns to Giles. She needs answers and she needs them now.
Giles ashamedly tells her about his dark past. In his early 20s he fell in with a crowd obsessed with the occult, Ethan among them. They would take turns falling into a deep unconsciousness while the others would summon Eyghon who would give the unconscious host a temporary but powerful high. But things got out of control and a member of their group died. Now Eyghon is back and it won't stop until it kills off the last remaining members: Giles and Ethan.
Buffy is shaken to the core at seeing this side of Giles but her Slayer instincts kick in and she goes off in search of Ethan. Meanwhile back at the library, the gang are looking for ways of killing Eyghon without killing Jenny in the process. So Cordelia's suggestion of cutting Jenny's head off quickly gets pooh-poohed. But a spark comes across Willow's face. She has a plan.
Buffy tracks Ethan down at the costume shop. You would think Buffy would have learned that really bad things happen when she's around this dude, but she's sworn to protect people and blah blah blah. So Ethan being Ethan knocks Buffy out and when she comes to she finds herself tied up face down on a table. No it's not what you think. Ethan gives Buffy the Mark of Eyghon (sperm) tattoo and uses chemicals to remove his own. Now Eyghon will be after Buffy and not him. And sure enough, Eyghon Jenny shows up and attacks Buffy. Angel runs in with the Scoobies hot on his heels. He grabs Jenny and strangles the crap out of her. Giles is worried that Angel's killing her but Willow insists that he won't. Eyghon jumps out of Jenny and into Angel, the nearest dead body. Except Angel isn't dead, he's undead and therefore has demonic energy already inside him. That energy overpowers Eyghon and kills it once and for all. Angel is shaken, but ultimately unharmed and Jenny is back to normal.
Back at school, things are a liiiiiiiiittle awkward between Giles and Jenny. You know because he only got her possessed by a demon and almost killed? Though she's not outright angry, she's definitely in need of some serious space. Giles understands, though any fool can see he is heartbroken. Buffy witnesses this and comforts Giles by allowing him to disapprove of her work-out music. Or noise, as he calls it.
* This is the first Giles-centric episode and man oh man did it deliver, in what has been overall a fabulous season. The characters on this show are so rich and well-layered and The Dark Age gives us that in Giles. Behind this tweed-clad bookworm is a man with a dark past. Like so many before him, Giles made a stupid decision in his early twenties. Now, twenty plus years later, that decision has come back to haunt him and harm innocent people he loves. He was getting really close with Jenny and it was plain to see that the two were falling in love. Now to be thrown apart because of Giles's involvement with Eyghon is absolutely heart-wrenching. And just as damaging to Giles, if not more so, is Buffy's exposure to his past. Though nothing has been directly said, Giles is rapidly becoming a sort of father-figure to Buffy. She certainly has a strong, disturbed reaction when Giles tells her his history. When he says he's sorry for the mess he has created, Buffy's voice is dripping venom when she replies "I know". Until then, Giles never wavered from the nagging but reliable Watcher who was always there to tell Buffy what to do. He really hurt Buffy when he didn't show up at the hospital, and she felt completely abandoned when he not only refused to help her with Eyghon, but ordered her to drop it. But Buffy showed remarkable forgiveness and maturity when she confesses to Giles that although it's scary, she is okay with knowing that Giles isn't just a grown-up, but a person. The ending of this episode was also phenomenal. Last episode, Buffy took comfort in Giles 'lying' to her about the easiness of growing up; this ep, Giles took comfort in Buffy. When she showed him the CD and dared him to disapprove of her music, she was allowing things to be simple and easy for Giles. Their relationship has really grown and it has been complex and thrilling to watch.
* Cordelia is a constant source of comedic relief and she did not disappoint. This was one of the heavier episodes, so her ditzy, self-centeredness was a welcome contrast. Her best moment for me was after the melee with Philip in the library, she just looks at all the chaos and says 'This is what happens when you have school on a Saturday'. But what was even better than her comedic touch was the small growth of character. When Buffy assigns roles in researching Eyghon, Cordelia is not only willing to help out, but eager and she even admits she cares about Giles. When she thinks she has found the solution to killing Eyghon (cutting off Jenny's head), there is a look of pride and accomplishment on her face I have never seen. Though she would never admit this with a gun to her head -- or vampire at her neck -- she has found a sense of purpose in joining Buffy and crew in fighting evil, one that she has never come close to finding in her quest for popularity.
* Willow had a great moment in this episode, when she turned into a fiery little Watcher-in-training. The mini-Giles was sipping tea, poring over ancient texts, and positively snapped at Xander and Cordelia when they started bickering. Any time Willow goes off, it is a sheer delight to watch. It shows just how loyal and caring she is, that every second Xander and Cordy spend fighting is one where Jenny might die and if they can't help, then GET THE HELL OUT OF HER LIBRARY. So badass.
* I need to give out a Fashion Slayer Award and this week's lucky recipient is... the sexy fuddy-duddy himself, Giles. Nobody can rock a demonic sperm-looking tattoo quite like him. It revealed his dark past, his inner demons, and was just a bit sexy. Okay, just a lot sexy.
That concludes my blog this week, my lovely readers. What did you think of this episode? Fascinated at getting to know Giles a bit more? Proud of Cordelia for taking an active role in the fight against the forces of darkness? Realize that sperm tattoos on British librarians are hot as Hellmouth? Post a comment and let me know. Check in every Tuesday for my latest Buffy blog.