A New Man

Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Michael Gershman

Dawn's Review | Mary Beth's Review | SunSpeak

Dawn's Review

In a continuation of last week's episode, this one starts with Riley and Buffy enjoying a make out session... until Willow interrupts with the news of a fire breathing demon. It's Buffy and Riley to the rescue, or rather to the surprise birthday party for Buffy.

The entire scooby gang, as well as quite a few people Buffy's met in university are having a grand time. Everyone that is except for Giles. First he meets Riley, who he's very surprised at being introduced as Buffy's boyfriend, then he's forced to admit that he's been out of work since the library burnt out and is forced to listen to Buffy gush about Professor Walsh "the smartest person she's ever met".

Later that night, we find out that Spike is planning on leaving Xander's basement digs and moving into something nicer... like a crypt. Anya, still in manners mode, tries to give Spike one of Xander's lamps as a moving out present. Of course, after she mentions how the lack of electricity in a crypt is going to seriously affect Spike's blood storage....

Buffy, meeting with Walsh and Riley, is clearly breaking all the rules about secrecy about her Slayerhood. Walsh is impressed, and is working on "getting her clearance" into the Initiative. When Riley proudly admits to neutralizing 17 vamps and ghoulies (how many of those would be from the "Hush" ep?), Buffy doesn't quite know what to say when asked how many she's neutralized.

Quick scene -- Giles discovers yet another "prophecy" and goes off to tell Buffy.

Later, Buffy and Riley are walking along, and she's been telling tales. Riley is severely impressed, espescially when he finds out she's been dicing vamps since she was 15.

Giles, interested in meeting Professor Walsh and looking for Buffy, strolls into her office -- but she has no idea, or does not acknowledge, who he is. She acts very dismissive and lectures about Buffy lacking a male role model. Giles gives his best impression of British "stiff upper lip" but you can still tell her words have affected his self-esteem. Still, there's a prophecy to thwart and he continues on looking for Buffy. And gets lost. And arrives at the crypt with Willow and Xander far after sundown when the demon was supposed to arise.

It's all still inside the crypt. Willow and Xander speculate that the Initiative took care of it. When Giles prompts them for more information, the details spill out -- including that Riley is one of the commandoes and Professor Walsh is in charge. Giles is very, very upset that no one (meaning Buffy) told him. The fact that Anya and Spike know all about it as well is just icing on the cake.

With no demon to fight, Willow and Xander take off while Giles sticks around just in case. A few minutes after they leave, he packs up and leaves as well. It's then that the infamous Ethan Rayne casually strolls out of the corner of the crypt where he's been hiding and starts a soliloquay... only to be very annoyed when Giles pops his head back in.

Giles, happily starts pounding on Ethan. Trying to save his skin, Ethan convinces Giles that he has information that Giles needs. At the bar, Ethan tells of how the demons are scared -- especially of something to do with 314. A couple of beers later, Giles is opening up to Ethan in a way he never could with any of the scooby gang. He admits how useless he feels and how annoyed he is that the Initiative has demons running scared when after twenty years of fighting evil, most demons don't even know Giles exists. Whatever the Initiative is doing, it's throwing everything out of balance. Even though Giles hates Ethan, the old bonds are still there. Of course, the fact that Giles is now thoroughly sloshed probably has something to do with the fact that he doesn't kill Ethan when he jokes about slipping poison into Giles' drink.

Buffy and Riley are sparring. Both of them are holding back... Buffy more than Riley. They're having fun and when Riley convinces Buffy not to hold back -- she kicks him across the room (literally). Luckily for Riley, he lands on some padding and didn't break his back.

Willow and Tara are practicing a spell. A spell that goes wonky and results in a kamikaze room zooming around the room.

The next morning, Giles wakes up feeling horrible. He feels even worse when he gets to a mirror and sees horns coming out of his head. Ethan strikes again. He tries to call Buffy but destroys the phone when he picks it up. This is one strong demon. Destruction here, destruction there and by the time Giles leaves his apartment -- it's a shambles.

Buffy and Willow are eating breakfast and Buffy admits to kicking Riley across the room. She's also planning on spending the day with Walsh and says that Walsh is interested in learning more about the "mystical" end of demon fighting. When it comes up that Giles didn't know about the Initiative, Buffy is dismayed. She'd forgotten to tell him.

Later that morning, Giles has managed to get to Xander's place without causing a riot. Wrapped in a blanket, he tries to wake Xander up. Of course the fact that Xander can't understand a word he's saying and opens his eyes to see a rather fiersome looking demon... well, the meeting doesn't go well. Xander starts throwing things and Giles, frustrated, heads out.

Xander, having alerted the crew to the demon activity, rounds them up and they head for Giles' place... only to find it a shambles with no Giles to be found. Anya, tactless soul that she is, proclaims her belief that the demon must have eaten him.

Later that night, Giles is lurching through the cemetery (thoroughly annoyed) when he comes across Spike measuring crypts for size. It turns out that Giles has been turned into a Fyarl demon, and Spike just happens to speak Fyarl since he's employed them once or twice. All Giles wants is to force Ethan to change him back into a human being, and Spike is open to a $200 bribe.

Riley arrives at Giles' place. The Initiative apparently have access to 911 information. He finds Buffy, Willow, Anya and Xander going through Giles' collection of books to try and find information about the demon that "attacked" Xander. Riley offers all the help the Initiative can give.

Flash over to Spike and Giles who are stuffed into Giles' tiny/old/beat up Citroen. Spike is finding the whole situation very amusing and delights in telling Giles that he's now got the power to shoot paralyzing mucous out of his nose. Giles, meanwhile, is starting to feel the need to crush/main/destroy... Spike tells him to go for it. Giles, in his very best British voice, starts expounding about his inherent human nature -- until he sees Professor Walsh on the sidewalk, orders Spike to stop and gives in to a quick chase before getting back into the car. They go to the bar Giles and Ethan were in the previous night and find out from the barmaid where Ethan's staying.

Xander and Willow have located a picture of a Fyarl demon. Normally foot soldiers who work for other demons... but who sent it after Giles? After finding out that it can be killed by a silver weapon, Buffy grabs Giles' letter opener.

Buffy is on the attack... to a magic stores' front door. After they're in, Riley tells her that the Initiative are given master key to all the stores on Main Street. Buffy find's Ethan Rayne's phone number and that he's staying at the Sunnydale Motor Inn. When Riley tells her he's been ordered not to take her along, and to let the Initiative handle it from there, she calmly informs him that she is letting him go along with her. The demon did something to Giles and she wants to kill it.

Giles is growling, and his Fyarl desire to kill and maim is growing stronger. Unfortunately for him and Spike, the Initiative has tracked them down and gives chase. Giles' old car just can't handle it. For a further $100, Giles bribes Spike to draw them away after Giles jumps out of the moving car. The scheme works and Spike is gloating after he loses the Initiative... only to crash into a wall and totally demolish Giles' car.

At the Sunnydale Motor Inn, they all come together. Giles has just started to pound Ethan into a very small pile of goo when Buffy and Riley arrive. Riley goes after Ethan while Buffy attacks the demon/Giles. The fight is brief since Giles doesn't want to hurt her, and she stabs him with the letter opener... only to look into Giles' eyes and realize who she's just stabbed. Fortunately for Giles (and the show), the "silver" letter opener... wasn't silver.

During the commercials, Ethan turns Giles back into human form. Giles is very embarrassed about the whole affair, and wearing one of Ethan's strange shirts doesn't help. Ethan is gloating about how Buffy can't kill him because he's a human being and is preparing to leave... when Riley takes him into custody under the authority of the "US military". He promises that Ethan will be "rehabilitated".

Later, Buffy and Riley are talking. Riley realizes that Buffy has to be the one in charge. Fortunately for Buffy, he happens to like strong women.

The next day, Buffy's at Giles' place where he's putting in a new, modern phone. Buffy apologizes for not telling him about the Initiative. When he cautions her to be careful about the Initiative, Buffy tells him she's dating Riley -- not the Initiative.

At the same time, Riley and Walsh are talking about Buffy. Riley is singing her praises and going poetic, while Walsh warns him that Buffy acts on instinct. When Riley tells Walsh "you'll be proud of her", Walsh admits she likely will be. She leaves Riley... and the episode ends with her walking into room #314.

Ethan is back and still as annoying as ever. He seems to be working for himself now (or was, until he got arrested by the Initiative).

In the general trend of this season, Giles' self esteem continues to sink lower and lower. The man needs a job.

Anya and Xander -- going strong. They've taken over as the "happy BTVS couple". Let's enjoy it before Joss destroys it totally.

Buffy and Riley -- into the heavy petting stage. A different type of relationship than hers with Angel. More joking and when she's with him, she isn't always thinking about fighting evil.

Willow and Tara -- getting closer and trying to "get into harmony". Subtext? Bold text? I read some Joss spoilers on the Bronze and this is going to get messy.

Best Moments:
Spike measuring the crypt.

Xander waking up to Giles/demon breathing in his face.

Buffy kicking Riley across the room.

Spike crashing the Citroen.

Giles getting thoroughly sloshed.

Rating: 3 out of 5 -- except for the Giles bits which were 5 out of 5.

Mary Beth's Review

I liked it. I really really really liked it.

I didn't get the shoving-in-my face vibe from Riley ( yay! ) but I did have another issue. And Jane Espenson pretty much gave me an answer I kind of like last night. And my issues that Buffy never mentions Angel. Never. Even in her fights with Riley last week she glossed over the Angel issue. It bothered me a little. But Jane pointed out that sometimes when we're trying to get over a relationship and it's too painful, we try to shut it all completely out of our minds and our worlds. I did that. And Buffy's doing that. It makes sense for me as a fan to sit there and mumble to myself "She never had to hold back with Angel." And Buffy may be thinking that to herself even (but I'd bet she's trying hard not to), but she's not going to actually say that to anyone because she doesn't want to vocalize her Angel thoughts and make them any more real or painful than they are. It's interesting. I wonder how healthy it is. The more you ignore something rather than deal with it, the more it's not going to go away and the more painful it's going to be if they ever meet up again. Hmmm.

And I took a small amount of pleasure in Buffy's kicking Riley across the room. *snerk*

The other issue I have that I can explain but still don't like is Buffy's "forgetting to tell Giles." She honestly thought she had??? I guess so . . . . she is pretty caught up in the Riley right now. And I guess if she was thinking Willow and Xander know that she'd tell Giles the next time she saw him and then maybe didn't see him for a while and just forgot. I guess. But .... but..... she was so gung-ho to get info on the commandos because they got in her way when Willow was in trouble . . . and she knew Giles was working on his little map and stuff . . . it just doesn't sit right.

Loved that Xander is teaching Anya how to be human in their time we don't see them. Love that it's not working very well.

Spike. All black. Yum! He's going to be so much fun to have around this way --- but the gang is going to be dirt poor by the end of the season if they keep having to bribe him to help.

Willow -- why did she lie to Buffy about Tara? I'm confused. And worried.

The Initiative stuff. I got a really bad vibe off the Buffy meets Walsh scene. It was like Riley was bringing home the prize heifer he found at the fair to show to mom. It was weird. Not to mention, I think it was a big mistake for Buffy to be so open with Walsh. Although....I don't believe that Walsh didn't know about the Slayer. This is my current pet theory (I call it George). Riley and the boys -- sure, they were told and believed she was a myth (and they were mythtaken -- snerk!) I'd be willing to believe that Walsh knows what the Slayer is and maybe knew Buffy was her all along and was pumping Buffy for info. It's also darned possible that the reason Walsh thinks dangerous Buffy being free and uninhibited is because (1) she knows what it cost Faith and (2) she knows what it could cost the Initiative. And the reason she knows what it cost Faith is because Faith is behind Door 314. And she may be studying Slayer strength. That's my pet theory anyway.

And I'm totally totally wigged by the pervasiveness of the Initiative. Riley said "U.S. Military" and Walsh said "Working on getting you clearance" -- so there's someone bigger in charge. But does that mean it really *is* the military? I still think Walsh is evil (I *sooo* want her to be evil). But I wonder if she's as in the dark as I'm sure Riley is.

But the fact that the Initiative has a master key to all the stores and can intercept 911 calls and find people *so* fast creeps me out BIG time. Way too Big Brothery for me. And it makes me wonder if there will be a point when one or more of the Scooby Gang will be considered "rogue" by the Initiative and will have to try to evade all the technological wonders. Meep!

Enough of that.

Tony was wonderful. Loved that Buffy recognized his eyes. It mostly made up for the whole thing right there. LOVED that he gave in a little and chased Walsh. :-) That Spike could speak .... whatever it was Giles was speaking was priceless. And his running commentary was hilarious!

Ethan was wonderful! (Oh bugger, I thought you'd gone!) And I have to wonder if he's really gone to some secret Nevada establishment or not. Hmmm..... I wonder if he'll resurface later when Buffy starts discovering what I'm sure is a darker side to the Initiative.

And what's neat, too, is that annoying, evil, obnoxious *Ethan* of all people is the one who's probably most right about The Initiative -- they're playing with fire and doing things that could upset the balance of things terribly. The big question is -- do they know that? do *some* of them know that? or are they really clueless wonders.


more! more! want more!


"I suppose this would be the time to mention the observation that my firend's husband made about next week's ep. He made a comment about Giles getting a little horny." -- Julie

"Peeking through when the door is at its widest, the thingy inside looks like a laboratory glove box, like you use for working with very dangerous chemicals or biohazards, where you've got an enclosed space and two gloves you put your hands in and that's how you manipulate the things in the box and that way you can't come into contact with the bad stuff. And it looks like there's feet under that drape on the gurney next to it. This is fun!" -- Jennie

"Anyone think that Maggie's (bitkabitkabitkaBITKA!!!!) response to Riley about being really pleased with Buffy is related to getting Buffy into number 314???"
"I wonder if Maggs is into the hybrid-create-your-own-demon school of thought. And if she wanted a supersoldier, well there's Buffy Summers and all her preternatural skills."
"Well, at least she doesn't know about the whole near-death thing and creating a new Slayer. We hope. Anyone remember *that* spec from between first and second seasons?"
"And if Perri's right about what's in 314 (and I'm seriously thinking she is!), Walsh *would* know... which is a truly frightening thought...." -- Lizbet, Anya, ??? and Dianne

"My thoughts? He's so good, and so nice, and incredibly pure and all-American because the Initiative will end up going over to the Dark Side (or is there already without realizing it?), and he'll be all tortured and tormented about that--and we'll have a nice, good guy angsting about having to go against what he's given his loyalties to. Look at it this way: you have to get through all the sickeningly sweet stuff to see him get all intense and and angsty later in the season. I seriously think it's gonna happen." -- Tina on Riley

"Let us pause for a moment and reflect, and then pull out our shiny reflecting knives and tear bitka-Walsh to pieces. Oh, I hate her. Really, really, really. NOBODY treats Giles like that. What, the voice of reason says? She didn't say *terribly* objectionable? She couldn't have known that Giles was the closest thing to a "father figure" that Buffy's had in awhile? I'm sorry, reason isn't living here anymore. And seriously, there was a bit too much knowing in Walsh's voice. If she wants to take control of Buffy, she'll have to break the control of someone else. I'm willing to bet that Buffy did her best to not give away Giles when Riley and Walsh were questioning her, but she did give enough away that Walsh (who is *very* far from being a dummy) figured out who Giles was in 2.6 seconds flat."
"Diediediedie! I rather liked Walsh at the beginning, despite her being the "Evil Bitch Monster from Hell", because I thought that she could be an interesting role-model for Buffy - y'know, strong, independent, no-nonsense woman in charge, who takes no shit from anyone. But after the way she treated Giles...! < grrrr! > The bitca must die.... If she'd heard or read about the legend of the Slayer, she *had* to have come across corresponding information about the Watchers. And exactly *how* does Maggie know that Buffy's parents are divorced, and Dad isn't around much? I'm suspicious, *very* suspicious. And that whole conversation with her and Giles... it just sounded to me like she was deliberately trying to push his buttons, like she _knew_ he was "in loco parentis" to Buffy. _Why_ she would be trying to push Giles' buttons, other than plain and simple meanness, I don't know. Bad woman, *bad*!" -- Lizbet and Maureen

"Thank you Joss, *much* better use of Ethan than in Band Candy (< Lizbet deletes Band Candy rant to save time >). There's just something so... slimy about Ethan that's wickedly fun. He's just as amoral and evil as Spike in some ways, but since he's human, you have a chance of talking him out of whatever plot he's on. Said chance related very closely to a snowball in hell, but still, a chance. And the scene in the crypt where Giles leaves and Ethan emerges to Declaim the Evil Bad Guy speech, and Giles pokes his head back in... ROTFL!!!! Oh, GODDESS, that was absolutely *PERFECT*!"
"It was absolutely *hilarious*... but what the _hell_ was Ethan doing in the damn crypt in the first place??!? It had nothing to do with the subsequent plot. I keep trying to come up with scenarios to explain it, but I'm drawing a blank."
"Actually, the whole prophecy deal Giles remembered while dusting (And what? They can't get a friggin' DayPlanner for this stuff? ;-) came to naught, right? Either the Initiative did diffuse it or it didn't happen or Giles' calculations were off. The subsequent 'power surges' Willow ran into could be explained by Ethan's presence, but the whole prophecy thing just died. (Although, actually that's a way to link them. Ethan could have known about the prophecy and lain in wait, figuring Giles would show to diffuse it.) -- Lizbet, Maureen and Dianne

"I'm willing to lay huge, honking, incredible amounts of money on what's in that room. It's Faith. Walsh got her hands on Faith and is exploring the concept of Slayerdom (possibly through surgical means < shudder >). That's why she wasn't too shocked by finding out about Buffy, and why she had that weird expression when Riley left, before she went through the doors. She knew all about Slayers, 'cause she's had a catatonic one for who knows *how* long!"
"Yay Perri! Perri and I are sharing a brain! And it's a scary brain! It's been pointed out that Room 314 could be equaled to Room 101 in Orwell's 1984 --and I'm suddenly regretting that I was never more of a Modern Lit English major. So it could be a torture center of some kind -- and Faith is the subject now and Buffy (or anyone) could be a subject in the future." -- Perri and Mary Beth

"Personally, I think she's Building the Perfect Beast. How many times have we seen the "mad scientist creating the Perfect Soldier" scenario? It's been done to death! I'm voting for Maggie having gone over completely to the dark side, and using military resources to find/create a useful demon that she can harness." -- Maureen

"What if they actually have Oz down in 314? I mean, he has vanished rather completely, hasn't he?" -- Tina

"I'm sorry, but Giles made a funny-looking demon. 99% of that was Tony's body language through the whole process, everything from the hunched-shoulders British librarian thing to the orangutan chase scene after Professor Walsh (< Lizbet pauses to fall on the floor in paroxysms of giggles > She deserved it!) And it was hysterical when Spike was the only one who understood him and was urging Giles to crush kill destroy. (Spike's impotence problem -- dare I say -- grows. Now he's into voyeurism?)" -- Lizbet

"...Anyone other than me think that Xander somehow is both dating and raising Anya?"
"Especially when she looks over at Xander for his approval when she does something right! "See, daddy, I remembered!" < snerk, snerk > Loving Anya this season - amazingly enough, she's just such a ray of light whenever she's on the screen. She's this season's Cordelia - "Tact is just not saying true stuff." Tact and Anya aren't even on the same planet, let alone the same room!" -- Lizbet and Maureen

"And, to give her some credit, I honestly think it was a "too obvious to merit saying thing". Giles is so much a part of what Buffy does and so critical in what she has become, that I think she simply doesn't _think_ about it any more. Walsh might be "the smartest Buffy's ever met", but I bet if you asked her (honestly, not in front of Giles) to compare them, she'd have a "well, except for Giles, _duh_, that goes without saying..." moment. (Of course it _doesn't_ actually go without saying, but it is in character for Buffy to neglect doing so.)" -- Dianne

"But this does fall into Buffy's pattern of taking Giles for granted. She expects him to be there for her always no matter what - and he has been, except for Helpless. Even after he told her how much she hurt him over the keeping Angel's return a secret, she didn't change her behavour that much."
"And as for not remembering to tell Giles, I thought that was perfectly believable for all the reasons she said (it was a secret, and then *wham* everybody found out... it just didn't click that 'everybody' _wasn't_ actually.), as well as for another-- What is the standard informational flow in this sitch? Giles "always knows" this stuff and is usually telling her. She doesn't do enough informing Giles of the basic overall nature of the forces they fight to be used to it. " -- Karen and Dianne

"But *why* is Willow keeping her relationship with Tara secret? I know at one point, Giles was trying to keep Willow's magical experimentation in check, but why wouldn't Willow tell Buffy about what she's doing? I can't remember any time when Buffy has tried to stop Willow. Oh, wait a minute - I'll bet this has something to do with the "Something Blue" spell she cast. She's still embarrassed that a spell she cast went so *very* wrong, and she doesn't want anyone to know that she's still playing with magic. No, that doesn't work either, 'cause she _told_ Buffy about the spell, she just didn't tell her about *Tara*. Hmmmmmm..." -- Maureen

"Looks like it may be the demon 'refit' area where they neutered Spike. As we know from Earshot, you don't want to come in contact with demon blood. Who knows what aspect you may get. (I wonder if anyone in the Initiative now has a tail or cloven hoofs from a past incident.)" -- Julie on Room 314

"And I love Ethan, there wasn't enough of him for me, nope, and he was far, far too funny --- that whole bit of trying to pick up the waitress, and the "It's the gloating that gets me every time. I have to learn to leave town instead of hanging around to gloat. Just do it, and get out" --- *ROTFL*! I might have missed the *point* of that little caper --- did they ever explain why he did this? I was on the phone with someone during parts of the bar scene, unfortunately. Although that "I just poisoned your drink" made me think of Londo Mollari and start laughing, horrified, before he even copped to it being a lie." -- Chris

"As for Walsh... I want to like her, you know. But she's not scoring any points. Less with the dissing-Giles scene (which made me *hurt* for the guy, being dismissed like that) than for her _extremely_ Council-esque attitudes to being in authority, and making sure everyone knows it. I don't blame her, if she's ignorant of what Buffy is, for not understanding how competent she is just yet --- but I don't like that Walsh wants everyone to bow to *her*. Buffy doesn't work for you, chick. She'd be doing this whether or not *you* were here. Grrr."
"Problem is, she either _does_ (and is being ruled by people above her), or simply doesn't appreciate the same qualities in others. But, regardless of what Riley seems to be thinking, there's no way Buffy is going to join up as another footsoldier for the Initiative. Buffy's way too used to being an independent, all-in-one sort of force. The only person she _does_ take orders from is Giles. Many others have tried; many others have gotten their butts seriously kicked." -- Chris and Dianne

"I don't even know if Walsh knows (or was referring to) Buffy's parental sitch. (Although she could have gotten that easily with a simple background search, given the apparent Initiative resources.) She was deliberately gunning for Giles-- methodically attacking all of the ways he's supported Buffy (her academic skills, her focus, her discipline, the whole "role model" thing). Whether she got it from sources on Watchers or from Buffy or from Giles' own transparent responses to her goading (I'm betting all three), she knew exactly what she was doing. Right down to finishing the conversation by dismissing him like another student (_no_ collegial feeling) and putting him in his place as "Buffy's friend"." -- Dianne

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