Saturday, July 3, 2010

Buffy 2x08 - "The Dark Age"

Sadly, I'm not going to be able to say as much about "The Dark Age" as it probably deserves. I'm vacationing in beautiful Cape Cod, and my internet access (and writing time) are limited at the moment. What little I do have time to write, you will find after the jump.

"Nobody can be wound as straight and narrow as Giles without a dark side erupting."

- Xander

"The Dark Age" continues this season's focus on digging deeper into the characters and providing us with a more more consistent developing storyline. In this cae we're returning to the dark past shared by Giles and Ethan, hinted at in "Halloween." It might have been better to let this subplot simmer a while before developing it more fully, but they obviously had to find a way to fit it into the season's larger plot.

The episode isn't as strong as some of what we've seen so far this season, with the multiple villains providing some exciting conflict but the action proceeding pretty slowly and predictably. Still, it's quite interesting in the way it develops Giles. It's a significant fact that this is the first time we've ever seen Giles's apartment. His domain thus far has been the library, and seeing him at his home (and at his most vulnerable) broadens our understanding of the character.

The developments between Giles and Miss Calendar in this episode are quite effective, bringing us from a sweet and funny moment at the beginning of the episode when she's winding him up about the damage she might be doing to the rare book he lent her, all the way to the crushing moment at the end when we realize that their relationship has hit a major setback that can't simply be shrugged off. At the moment, these two are the show's most engaging romantic couple (which is odd in a show about teenagers), and it's pretty upsetting to see them apart now.

The introduction of some real darkness into Giles's character, and real pain into his storyline, is an important development for Buffy, as Buffy's relationship to Giles is one of the most important ones on the show. Thus far, Giles has acted as a stable fatherly figure at the end of epsidoes such as "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" and "Lie to Me," so destabilizing that is a great source of drama.

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