Episode Title: A New Man
Original Air Date: January 25, 2000
“I’ve got to learn to just do the damage and leave town. It’s the “stay and gloat” that gets me every time.” – Ethan
It’s time for another Buffy birthday as this week she celebrates her 19th and suprisingly it’s one where nothing goes wrong….well for her atleast. For Giles however things don’t go as well for feeling that he is being slowly fazed out of the group, especially as Buffy is so keen to gush over how admiration for her teacher and secret head of the “The Initiative” Professor Maggie Walsh. In a bid to cheer himself up Giles soon finds himself on a bender with his former friend and worshipper of chaos Ethan Rayne only to find himself the next morning turned into a Fyarl demon.
Another of my favourites from this season and after the meh previous episode its great to see the show back on track again aswell as another apperence by the always fantastic Ethan Rayne, whose never been in an episode which hasn’t worked which kinda makes it all the sadder that this will be the last time we see him (like Giles Citroen) on the show, despite showing up in both the “Chaos Bleeds” video game and later the comic book series. Largely the appeal of Ethan Rayne is down to the always fun performance given by Robin Sachs who sadly passed away in 2013.
Interestingly Anthony Stewart Head has confessed that he is extremely comfortable in high heels which I guess was handy for his Fyarl demon transformation which also requires him to chase after Maggie Walsh in one of the best moments of the episode as he finds a way to embrace his demonic appearance. He would get to further embrace this love of heels when he played Dr. Frank-N-Furter in a stage production of Rocky Horror in which also got to show off his ability to dance in heels aswell!
Despite not having anything happen to her directly Buffy does however have to deal with how to use her Slayer powers around Riley worried that she will intimidate him especially when Maggie Walsh brags about Riley’s so called impressive 17 captures and kills which kinda pales when you consider Buffy’s track record over the previous seasons. Even Willow and Xander can be marked down as beating that number but for some reason despite the less than impressive numbers, for some reason it would seem that “The Initiative” still have the underworld running scared as implied by Ethan during his drinking session with Giles while also hinting at project called “314” which also gets a fantastic teaser in the final shot of the season as we get the first hints that not everything might not be quite what it seems within the organisation.
Our other main relationship between Willow and Tara continues to grow closer as the pair experiment with makes a rose fly, only for it to go astray and launch across the room. While it’s not clear where their relationship is heading at this point, its atleast a good thing that we are free from another round of Willow moping around.
Sadly this week see’s the end to the Xander / Spike odd couple pairing as having realised he can hurt demons decides to set out to find himself a crypt to set up a new pad in. Still thanks to no one knowing what Giles is saying in his demon form or even realising he’s a demon, something which leads to a comical encounter with Xander and a rather tasty looking fight scene with Buffy. Spike however it turns out speaks Fyarl giving us a replacement odd couple pairing as we get the comedic value of watching them drive around in Giles Citroen before Spike manages to crash it while trying to loose “The Initiative” in a scene which sadly got trimmed down meaning we lost out on this fantastic line from Spike.
“I can kill demons. I can crash cars…Things are looking up!”
A great paced episode truly carried by Giles and Spike with some fantastic natural humour throughout the episode, it just makes me wish that the writers hadn’t chosen this point in the series to write out Ethan, who by the end of the episode is heading to magic rehab in Nevada and sadly out of the series. Still when people question why I like this season so much outside of “Hush” this is always the episode I point to as one of the many reasons it shouldn’t be written off as so many fans wrongly do.
Next Episode: The I In Team