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A NEW MAN (ep #4.12)

(a.k.a. Another Bad Birthday)

Written by: Jane Espenson
Directed by: Michael Gershman
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Marc Blucas as Riley Finn
James Marsters as Spike
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Robin Sachs as Ethan Rayne
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Lindsay Crouse as Maggie Walsh
Co-Starring: Elizabeth Penn Payne as Waitress
Michelle Ferrara as Mother

Plot Summary

Ethan Rayne turned Giles into a fyarl demon and watched the wackiness ensue.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Buffy and Riley making out on her bed. They thought that Willow would be out all night, but she burst in to say that some fire-breathing creature burst into the rec room. Buffy went in only to find that her friends still have yet to learn that it is not a good idea to celebrate Buffy's birthday.

Buffy soon warmed up to the party and took the opportunity to introduce Riley to Giles. Giles was a bit uncomfortable, and well-meaning but stinging comments from Anya, Riley, and Buffy did not help.

Spike finally moved out of Xander's basement. He was planning to move into a crypt until Anya pointed out that a crypt would not have a refrigerator to keep blood fresh.

Meanwhile, Buffy met with Prof. Walsh, who was very interested in learning about a slayer. Buffy pretended to be impressed with Riley's kill/capture count of 17 when her own kill count up to this point is about 100, not including what are probably numerous off-screen kills.

Giles was doing a bit of house cleaning when he discovered a prophecy of a demon that was to arise that night. He could not reach Buffy because she was busy impressing Riley with stories of her past adventures.

Giles went to Prof. Walsh to find Buffy. Walsh proceeded to suggest that Buffy lacked academic focus, was too independent and self-reliant, took on adult roles too soon in life, and lacked a male role model. This made Giles feel even worse.

Giles got lost on campus, so he, Willow, and Xander were a bit late to the crypt where the demon was supposed to rise. Fortunately, there was no evidence of a demon having risen, so Giles was relieved. Willow theorized that the Initiative took care of it, which led to her having to explain that she, Xander, Buffy, Anya, and Spike all knew that Riley was one of the commandos he had been obsessing over. He was not happy to be the last to know.

Giles sent Willow and Xander away. He got frustrated and left soon afterward. Ethan Rayne then stepped out of the shadows and gave a standard bad-guy speech, only to have Giles come back in and interrupt. Giles relished the chance to beat up Ethan until Ethan begged him to stop by saying that he had information.

This must have worked, because we next see Giles and Ethan in the Bronze with a couple of beers. When Giles got impatient with Ethan's bantering, Ethan mentioned that demons are scared of something other than Buffy, particularly about the number 314.

Buffy and Riley sparred. Riley realized that they were both holding back, so he proposed going all out. He might have went all out, but Buffy still held a little back. He was still conscious after she kicked him across the room.

Willow and Tara decided to "do a spell" together. It involved floating a rose and plucking its petals magically. The rose did float, but it shot across the room when they tried to pluck the petals.

Giles woke up feeling miserable. It did not help much that he looked into a mirror and saw a demon not too dissimilar from Moloch (with a little G'Kar from Babylon 5 thrown in) staring back at him. As a demon, Giles was quite strong but also clumsy. He ended up wreaking his apartment before putting on a blanket and leaving.

Buffy was feeling giddy at having a new boyfriend. She was also curious about Willow spending the night somewhere else. Willow said that she was doing a spell but neglected to say with whom or what doing a spell is subtext for. Willow did say that the spell went wrong, probably because someone else was doing strong magic. When Buffy debated whether to tell Giles or Prof. Walsh, Willow gently pointed out that Buffy neglected to tell Giles about Riley.

Giles went to Xander for help. Unfortunately, Xander woke to see a demon gibbering at him. He panicked and started to throw things at Giles, who fled. Giles went outside and panicked more people.

That night, Buffy, Xander, Willow, and Anya went to visit Giles to figure out what the demon was. They saw a trashed apartment. Xander used his X-ray vision to determine that Giles was not upstairs. Buffy tried to be hopeful and theorized that the demon merely kidnapped Giles. Anya saw a torn shirt and theorized that the demon ate Giles. Willow had a theory that some kid was dreaming... Oops, wrong episode.

Giles wandered around a cemetery at night and ran into Spike taking measurements on crypts. Spike was eager to see something he could kill until he realized that it was Giles. Apparently, unlike Xander, Spike could understand fyarl, the demon language he was speaking to anyone other than the viewing audience. Giles asked for help, but Spike was not interested until Giles offered him some money.

Spike and Giles drove Giles's car around town. Spike mentioned that Giles can spew out paralyzing mucous, but Giles was not sure if he believed Spike. Eventually, they came across Prof. Walsh, which gave Giles the sudden need to jump out and chase her around.

Xander, Buffy, Willow, and Anya were going through books when Riley arrived to investigate. Riley received a call about a demon jumping out of Giles's car and attacking Prof. Walsh just as Xander found the description of a fyarl demon, a demon that usually serves only as a minion. Buffy and Riley headed toward the magic shop to see if they could find evidence of someone using magic to control a fyarl.

Buffy looked through recent receipts and recognized Ethan Rayne's name. Riley called in to get any motel records under that name. Meanwhile, Spike asked a waitress that Ethan hit on if she knew where Ethan was. She gave him the name of the motel.

On the way to the motel, a couple of humvees started to follow Spike and Giles. Giles offered and extra $100 to Spike to drop him off and lead the Initiative away. Spike agreed.

Giles arrived at Ethan's motel room and started to attack him. Buffy and Riley arrived soon afterward. Riley held Ethan while Buffy did battle with Giles. Meanwhile, Spike was having fun dodging the Initiative. He managed to lose them but ended up smashing Giles's car.

Buffy was about to stab Giles with what she thought was a silver letter opener, when she recognized that it was Giles. They managed to convince Ethan to turn Giles back into a human. Ethan assumed that Buffy would just let him go, but Riley did not. The Initiative was going to transport Ethan to a secret facility in Guantanamo Bay. Oops, I mean Nevada.

Later, Giles cautioned Buffy about his concerns about the Initiative. After all, they do not know the Initiative's true intentions. Meanwhile, Prof. Walsh cautioned Riley about Buffy. After all, they do not know her intentions. Both Riley and Buffy believed in each other, however, and Prof. Walsh suggested some agreement with Riley before stepping into room 314.

The Good

This episode was fun, and it was good to see Giles have an episode for himself. Ethan is also a good villain.

The Bad

There was a sense that this was just a filler episode.

Overall Rank: 88

Action: 4

Giles started to beat up Ethan.

Buffy fought with Giles until she figured out who he was.

Comedy: 7

Ethan did a standard "you do not know what is coming" bad-guy speech only to have Giles interrupt him.

Giles chased Prof. Walsh around.

Even Prof. Walsh smiled at the end of the episode.

Drama: 6

Giles is feeling isolated from those closest to him.

Romance: 5

The episode had a good start on this score until Willow interrupted Buffy and Riley.

Buffy had the giddy feeling one gets in a new relationship.

Riley had spontaneous poetic exclamations.

Character Development: 5

Anya apparently has been getting etiquette lessons from Xander. She seems to be motivated to please him and looks to him for approval.

Giles has been feeling isolated from others. He has not done much with his life since he destroyed Sunnydale High, and he feels as if he is not important to those closest to him.

Willow neglected to tell anyone about Tara, even in a conversation when she chided Buffy for not telling Giles about Riley.

Riley has access to emergency phone calls that might involve the supernatural and possesses a master key for all downtown businesses.

Importance: 3

Giles now knows that there is some significance to the number 314. We know that it is a room in the Initiative.

Giles owes Spike a favor, or at least some cash.

Most Valuable Player: Spike

Spike gets the MVP for delivering Giles safely to Ethan's apartment while avoiding the Initiative. He even got to wreak a car. For all of this, he is due $300.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Buffy

Buffy figured out that the fyarl demon was Giles and recognized that Ethan Rayne was behind the mayhem.

Goat of the Week: Ethan Rayne

Ehtan actually would be a contender for MVP if it were not for his admitted weakness to stick around and get caught. However, his mischief was bound to catch up with him. He will have a lot of time to think about why he goofed as he spends time in a super-secret facility in Nevada. Giles was asking for this award by chasing Prof. Walsh and alerting the Initiative to his presence, but he lucked out and lost only a really bad car because of his actions.

Random Commentary

Before, I noted the similarities that UC Sunnydale had with one of my alma maters, UC Santa Cruz. In this episode, UC Sunnydale resembled another of my alma maters, the University of Minnesota. It, like UC Sunnydale, has a psychology building known to confuse people who try to find offices. We used to joke that the building was designed by rat-lab psychologists.

My guess is that Prof. Walsh was intentionally trying to goad Giles in their conversation rather than simply making observations about Buffy. It is not unusual for advanced undergraduate students in psychology to make those broad generalizations about a person they barely know. However, no responsible professor of psychology would do so. Irresponsible professors do exist, but I see no evidence that Walsh is one of them.

Somebody needs to reminds the Initiative that, by law, the military may not have any role in law enforcement and has no authority outside military bases.


If fyarl demons do not say things like "serviceable," why is there a word for "serviceable" in their language and why would Spike know it?

Memorable Dialogue

"I'm bored. Let's eat." Anya
"Anya, we talked about this." Xander
"I'm sorry. That was rude. Please continue your story. Hopefully, it involves treacle and a headmaster." Anya

"You could smash in all my toes with a hammer, and it would still be the bestest Buffy birthday bash in a big long while." Buffy

"We use the latest in scientific technology and state-of-the-art weaponry, and you, if I understand correctly, poke them with a sharp stick." Prof. Walsh

"When I saw you stop the world from, you know, ending, I just assumed that was a big week for you. It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse." Riley

"Nothing is gonna happen. [leaves]" Giles
"I wouldn't say that. I wouldn't say that at all. In fact, Ripper, old mate, I'd say something rather interesting was about to happen." Ethan
"[Reenters] Did someone..." Giles
"Oh, bugger, I thought you'd gone." Ethan

"Now, isn't this more fun than kicking my ass?" Ethan
"No." Giles
"Oh, It's more fun for me." Ehtan

"We used to be friends, Ripper. When did all that fall apart?" Ethan
"About the same time you started to worship chaos." Giles
"Oh, religious intolerance, sad there. I mean, just look at the Irish troubles." Ethan

"Twenty years I've been fighting demons. Maggie Walsh and her nancy ninja boys come in. Six months later, the demons are pissing themselves with fear." Giles

"I am an unemployed librarian with a tendency to get knocked on the head." Giles

"I like pancakes because they're stackable. Ooo, and waffles, 'cause you can put things in little holes if you want to." Buffy
"You should always have a new boyfriend. You're so much fun right now." Willow

"What do I spy with my little eye? A demon. That would be, oh, right, The things I can kill." Spike

"I'm supposed to just help you out of the evilness of my heart?" Spike

"It stole Giles's car." Willow
"Why would a demon steal a car?" Xander
"Why would a demon steal that car?" Anya

"You're the only person in the world that can look that annoyed with me." Buffy

"They'll take Mr. Rayne to a secret detention facility in the Nevada desert. I'm sure he'll be rehabilitated in no time." Riley
"If you don't mind, I'm just gonna go and watch them manhandle him into a vehicle." Giles

"She's good at what she does, and she is the truest soul I've ever known." Riley
"Oh, no, oh, no, spontaneous poetic exclamations. Lord, spare me college boys in love." Prof. Walsh

Characters in Peril

Police and Guns

Buffy and the Law

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

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This page was last modified on November 23, 2012