"The Dark Age" [2x08]
Review by Mikelangelo "MikeJer" Marinaro
Posted by MikeJer on October 23, 2005Writer: Rob Des Hotel and Dean Batali
Director: Bruce Seth Green
This is a retrospective review and may contain spoilers from anywhere in the series. Read at your own peril.
This is the first episode in the series entirely focused on Giles. We learn about his turbulent history and some depth is added to this already charming character. It's just really unfortunate that the episode is only mediocre. The pacing and execution of the plot was pretty poorly handled, and the demon came across as incredibly one-dimensional and surprisingly inconsistent. There's about as much bad as there is good here.
Well, I might as well begin with the good. The episode begins with an amusing scene involving Buffy listening to those annoying aerobic workout tapes while excercising. Giles calls it 'noise' while Buffy calls it 'music.' While I agree with Giles that 'noise' is the appropiate term, Buffy makes a good point that you need a beat when doing synchronized excercise.
Later on Jenny gets to poke fun at Giles by telling him she spilt a drink all over his ancient textbook and then follows it up with "I'm lying, Rupert. The book's fine. I just love to see you squirm." Their relationship appears to be approaching a new level, but that of course comes to a screeching halt by the happenings later on when Jenny gets possessed by the demon Giles helped create when he was a rebellious teen. It's really nice to see her not just "get over it." This experience has affected her and she understandably needs time away from Giles.
I also loved seeing Willow keeping some of the confidence she gained in "Halloween" (2x06) during the scene where Cordelia and Xander are bickering to no end. Willow breaks up their quarrel and yells at them both saying, "HEY! We don't have time for this! Our friends are in trouble! Now, we have to put our heads together and, and get them out of it! And if you two aren't with me a hundred and ten percent, then get the hell out of my library!" Go Willow! Also, cheers for character development that actually stays with the characters beyond the episode they had the growth in!
That's where all the good ends, though. There are several things that really grated on me during this episode. One is the inconsistency of the demon iteself. When it had Possessed Phillip, the bearded guy, it never talked to anyone and pretty much just wandered around groaning. Then when Jenny gets possessed she's talking up a boring storm to Giles in his apartment. What's the deal? Another annoyance with the demon I had is how, for some unexplained reason, nobody simply runs away from it. They all just stand there waiting to be killed, like Phillip in the opening scene. Buffy fought it just fine, so once again, what's the deal?
Another serious flaw is the often slow pace. The scene where the possessed Philip awakens in the morgue could have been completely cut, for example. Also, Buffy's strength is basically completely gone in this episode. She punches Ethan Rayne hard in the mouth yet he doesn't get knocked down and there is no noticable sore on his mouth. An even more grotesque offense of this is seeing Ethan knock Buffy out with one blow to the head. No way that would ever happen!
In the end, like "Reptile Boy" (2x05), this episode is a mixed bag. There's a handful of great stuff, but there's an equal amount of crappy stuff. This is an even bigger disappointment than "Reptile Boy" (2x05), though, because the plot is centered around Giles' dark past instead of a bunch of college frat boys. You expect the latter to be poor but not the same of the former.
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
QuotesJENNY:Well, Cordelia's gonna meet us.
XANDER:Ooo, gang, did ya hear that? A bonus day of class plus Cordelia! Mix in a little rectal surgery, and it's my best day ever!
JENNY:Did anyone ever tell you you're kind of a fuddy-duddy?
GILES:Nobody ever seems to tell me anything else.
JENNY:Did anyone ever tell you you're kind of a sexy fuddy-duddy?
GILES:Well, no. Actually that, that part usually gets left out. I c-can't imagine why.
JENNY:Alright, guys. The first thing we're gonna do is... Buffy!
XANDER:Huh? Did I fall asleep already?
ETHAN:Now, this may sting a little just at first. But don't worry, that'll go away once the searing pain kicks in.
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