Overall Rating: 5.0
Ummmmm...why is everyone acting out of character??
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The last time Giles and Ethan met, Giles kicked the piss out of his former partner in crime and the hatred between them was palpable. This time...Giles is OK with getting drunk and chatting about his supposed failure to make a dent in the minds of demons while Ethan poison's his drink with demon juice? I know we're supposed to see Giles as some pathetic old guy going through a midlife crisis while his former "daughter" fights demons largely unassisted off at college...but...wait...why are we doing this plot again? Why would a guy as well put together as Giles be this pathetic all of a sudden watching Buffy grow up? I much prefer the sixth season interpretation of this phase of parenthood (the realization that you have to let go for their own good). At least then, Giles isn't portrayed as a stupid wanker with no emotional maturity.
Anyway...in other out of character news, Buffy is now gushing about Prof. Walsh? She's impressed by the initiative? I thought she was so distrustful of them that she almost broke up with Riley over his involvement? When was that plot again? Oh...LAST WEEK!!??!?! The writers are giving me whiplash. And not in the fun "wow...didn't see that awesome twist coming!" way. No...this is in the "What the flying f***-monkey is going on here????" way. Oh...and suddenly, because Spike can beat up demons, he's safe from the initiative? Safe enough that he can just leave? Why was he hiding again? Oh wait...now I remember...because he was defenseless against the people hunting him down?! I get that the whole "Spike living with Xander" thing made no sense and we needed to end it quickly and move on...but...the same writers wrote us into that position in the first place...so...they don't get a free pass here for changing their minds.
The plot of this episode should have been suspenseful...instead it was so stupid as to make it almost funny. Almost. Buffy tries to kill Giles because he's a demon...and...not once do we actually care, because the whole episode is so horribly out of character that we never take it seriously. That's not a good thing, Buffy fans. *sigh* This is why I hate fourth season. I am being a bit harsh here...the show isn't HORRID or insulting...it's just stupid and represents a meaningless, out-of-character detour in a plot that really isn't very interesting to begin with (referring to the initiative). Ugh...can it be fifth season already?
Character assassination for the convenience of a good plot idea executed really badly = bad writing.
On the other hand, there's not much wrong with the acting...Tony Head is handed a script that makes no sense and doesn't look pathetic...especially in the final moments when he is able to communicate with Buffy using only his eyes. The rest are nothing special.
There's a little something about the nature of a person being embodied by something beyond just their appearance, but that potential reward is dashed by a poor execution of the empty nest syndrome.