Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 12

A New Man

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Jan 25, 2000 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
510 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

At Buffy's 19th birthday party, Giles has a realization. He is an unemployed, middle-aged man hanging around with a bunch of teenagers. He feels even worse when he finds out that he is the only one who doesn't know about Riley and the Initiative. Feeling useless and insecure, he runs into Ethan Rayne, but the confrontation ends in drinks at the local pub rather than the usual fisticuffs. The next morning, Giles looks in the mirror and sees a massive Fyarl demon looking back at him.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
  • This is the first episode since "The Dark Age" that is pretty heavily focused on Giles.

    I also feel it is a fair amount more successful, mainly because as silly as the plot of this is, it's not inconsistent like the one in "The Dark Age". Some interesting character insights come clearly through though. It's Buffy's birthday, Giles is feeling neglected, Buffy and Riley continue their relationship and some foreshadowing of its failure comes into play, and Willow has begun actively hiding her meetings with Tara from Buffy.

    Giles' feelings of confusion over what to do with his life have been continuously shown since the beginning of the season. In this episode, at least for a while, feeling neglected is added to his list of woes and actually begins to get him down. We see all of his problems brought to the surface here, and it all starts at Buffy's surprise birthday party. It's interesting to think back two years and remember that she also had a surprise party in, well, "Surprise" and ended up losing her virginity to Angel who then lost his soul. Her and Riley are getting pretty close here as well. Anyway, Giles explains to her that the 'surprise' part wasn't his idea and that he wanted to go with something more personal. But this time he has a more personal motive to want it to be just the gang: he knows he's going to have nothing to do. At the same time exactly that is happening, Buffy surprises Giles with the news that she's got a new boyfriend.

    This news very much makes Giles feel out of the loop, and rightly so. Later on, while searching for Buffy, he has a chat with Professor Walsh. She tells him that "Buffy clearly lacks a strong father This directly insults Giles and his relationship with Buffy. He calls Buffy a 'girl' while Professor Walsh calls her a This even further underscores Giles' fatherly love for her. Parents often have a hard time seeing their children grow up and to some degree always see them as a child. Giles is certainly in this mindset until S7 when he finally accepts Buffy as a woman, rather than a girl who needs parental advice. Admittedly, this is a rough transition.

    After getting lost at the university Giles, Willow, and Xander all head to a monastery where they expect to find a newly-risen demon. The demon's not there and conversation between the three begins. This is where Giles finds out that Riley's a commando and that Professor Walsh is head of the Initiative. He's literally flabbergasted by this news. Hearing that Spike knew before him doesn't help matters in the slightest either. With all of these feelings of neglect and uselessness being forced to the surface, Giles decides to drown his sorrows with an amusing newly returned Ethan and some, what do you know, beer. During this conversation Ethan spouts off some nonsense about demons knowing something about '314' and that the demons are all scared. Wait a second. How do any demons know about 314? All the demons that are operated on in there are already dead!

    This brings me to my primary problem with this episode: the plot. Giles gets turned into a demon by Ethan and then goes running around town being extremely hokey. I've got to admit that I found a few of these scenes entertaining, especially when Spike enters the picture, but I honestly found myself bored through most of the rest of the episode. The plot does end on a satisfactory note, though, when Buffy stabs Demon Giles and then realizes it's actually him because of the look in his eyes. This is a really nice way for her to prove to him that she still greatly knows, needs, and cares about him without getting overly explicit about it. At the very least, Giles' feelings of neglect from Buffy can be put away. It's important to note that his uselessness is still very much present, and the events of this episode only bring that to Giles' attention even more. This is another piece leading up to the moment he plans to tell Buffy he's heading back to England.

    There are two other relationships being developed along the sidelines in this episode as well: Buffy/Riley and Willow/Tara. There's a vital scene where Buffy is lightly 'training' with Riley and taking it easy on him. He tells her not to hold back, so she kicks him across the room. The look on Riley's face when Buffy runs over and looks down at him to ask him if he's alright says everything. That look, a look of complete embarassment and inadequacy, will be Riley's primary issue with Buffy their whole relationship! He says he likes how she takes charge and has a lot of power at the end, but this isn't true. He's diluding himself into believing he can get over the fact that she's much stronger than him. Riley's an old-fashioned guy and wants to be the physically strong one to protect his girl -- it's just who he is and how he was raised. These issues are brought to the surface and explored in detail at the beginning of S5, but the hint of what's to come was placed here.

    Willow and Tara's secret magic meetings also begin here. They perform a cool spell together and Willow later directly hides the fact she was with someone else from Buffy and the gang. This episode represents the beginning of the big separations the group will be facing over the second half of the season. Willow is separated more and more from the group because of Tara, while Buffy is separated because of her infatuation with Riley, Xander is still jumping from job to job with no direction, and Giles is continually lonely. Anyway, this episode had some good character development and foreshadowing along with a mediocre plot. Not bad, but not great either. The character-related material, once again, completely outshines the plot.moreless
  • Buffy joins the Initiative

    The Good;

    Everything with demon Giles but I also adore the scene where Giles and Ethan get drunk together.

    The Bad;

    Couldn't Giles just write 'I am Giles' on a big piece of paper? Or is the point that he's too embarrassed?

    Best line;

    Walsh; We thought you were a myth

    Buffy; Well you were myth-taken.

    Knocked out;

    Giles comments that he has a tendency to get knocked on the head.



    Kinky dinky;

    Giles comments that Ethan and Giles are older than him and 'Not as attractive'. Riley says that he likes it when Buffy is in charge.

    Calling Captain Subtext;

    The whole Giles/Walsh scene and him scaring her later. Willow and Tara's rose magic session is filled with Sapphic hints. Giles calls the Initiative commandos 'nancy'

    Giles thinks Ethan is telling him he's very attractive. He's actually talking to the waitress but I know what we all thought for a moment.

    Guantanamo Bay;

    The Initiative are tapped into the emergency telephone system and Riley has a key to open every shop in Sunnydale. He also has the power to haul Ethan off to indefinite detention at the end of the ep. Again this is all pre-War on Terror, Joss appears pretty prescient.

    Where's Dawn?

    How did she and Joyce celebrate Buffy's birthday?

    Missing scenes;

    Loved to have seen this;

    Waitress (looking at Ethan's note) "You're not Roger Moore!"

    Ethan; "Yes I am. Tell her Ripper"

    Giles (drunkenly) "What? Oh, he's not Roger Moore"

    Apocalypses; 5, Riley comments that he needs to learn the plural

    Questions and observations;

    Unfortunately the last time we'll see Ethan Rayne although he does return in the comics. Very nice to have a Giles-centric episode as we haven't had one in a while. Riley has personally killed 11 vamps and 6 demons. According to Boo's figures however here's the rest of the scoobs.


    Buffy: 74 vamps, 26 demons, 5 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 4 vamps

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 5 vamps, 2 zombies, a demon, a demon

    Anya: a demon

    As Buffy birthday's go this one is actually pretty successful? But does anyone really ever get suprise parties like that? I heard that Robin Sachs is actually an expert martial artist and that Peter O'Toole's wife left her husband for him. Anya still working on her humanity, Buffy refers to Riley as her boyfriend for the first time. First hints of something sinister in the Initiative. Tara back, yay! Byebye to Giles' Citreon. Magic shop again. We already see that Buffy won't blindly follow orders like Riley will. The motel Ethan stays in looks the same one as Faith used to stay at.

    Marks out of 10; 7/10

  • Poor, Poor, Giles.

    Giles is having a mid-life crisis of sorts. He has no job, he has no friends his own age, he's told by Buffy's teacher that she lacks a strong father figure when he's felt like that was a role he had been filling for her. And to make matters worse, his nemesis Ethan Rayne is back in town. After a night of drinks with Ethan, he wakes up as a demon. He tries to go to Xander for help, but looking like a demon, Xander doesn't know it's Giles. Giles instead has to turn to Spike for help.

    I enjoyed this episode a lot. There is a lot of humor between Giles and whomever his scene is with. There is also a very touching interaction between Giles and Buffy near the end of the episode. Plus, we finally get rid of Ethan Rayne. A character I never really liked.moreless
  • A great episode; funny and in keeping with the seasons theme of self identity.

    A New Man is a great episode; it's not brilliant but it's a good laugh and gives Giles (underused this season) something to do besides sit around all day! It's a big step up from the previous episode and is a fun ride.

    Giles doesn't have much do in Season 4. Sometimes it even felt like the writers were struggling to find ways to include him and I think it's a shame, as he's a great character. He's very funny here and the whole turning into a demon thing was a good idea. I really hated Maggie Walsh for looking down on him and acting as if she's better- made me laugh when he chased her down the streets of Sunnydale. I really don't like her.

    I'm sad this is Ethan Rayne's last episode; I think he's a very interesting character, funny and also brings out Giles' dark side. I always wanted more of Giles' history (please give us the Ripper spinoff!) and am disappointed this is his last episode. I loved the Spike and Giles interaction here; they're so amusing together and the car scenes are priceless! Spike is hilarious anyway but his scenes with Giles take the cake. I would have liked more of them but silly writers decide on more Buffy/Wood... eh sorry I mean Riley scenes. Buffy/Riley scenes really don't do it for me. They have zero chemistry together and it's just all so meh. I couldn't care less about their drama and I find the entire thing to be just annoying. It was good for Buffy to have a rebound guy after her first love with Angel though so she can finally move on and meet her perfect match in Spike (:P). I enjoyed the Willow/Tara scenes. I'm a big fan on them two so I love seeing them progress. I feel Willow and Tara are the closest thing to true love in the verse so it's just nice to see them in their early stages.

    A New Man is a great episode that is fun and entertaining but ultimately a bit forgettable. It's worth a few watches though and is definitely enjoyable!moreless
  • A New Man

    A New Man was a really great episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Buffy finally meets with Maggie as the Slayer and blows both her and Riley away with what she has accomplished. Ethan Rayne has returned and tells Giles about some thing stirring the under ground called 314 and are given a glimpse of it at the end. Giles has been turned into a Demon and no one can understand what he is saying except Spike. This episode saw a lot of Character development for a lot of the characters. The story was great, and surprisingly nothing went horribly wrong at Buffy's Birthday Party as it usually does. There was a lot of exciting revelations and I can't wait to find out what happens in the next episode!!!!!moreless
Michelle Ferrara

Michelle Ferrara


Guest Star

Robin Sachs

Robin Sachs

Ethan Rayne

Guest Star

Elizabeth Penn Payne

Elizabeth Penn Payne


Guest Star

Amber Benson

Amber Benson


Recurring Role

Emma Caulfield

Emma Caulfield


Recurring Role

Lindsay Crouse

Lindsay Crouse

Maggie Walsh

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Goof: Though Giles was seen to have torn off his front door, when Riley arrived later, it was closed and he simply opened it up as normal.

    • Nitpick: In the previous episode "Doomed" when Riley creeps up on Buffy in the cemetery she flips up in order to attack him and he seems in awe of this maneuver, referring to it as "that flippy thing that you did". However, in this episode when Riley is sparring with Buffy he does this same move with ease. It seems unlikely that he would have allowed Buffy to teach him this move considering how is, at this stage in their relationship, rather jealous of the Slayer's abilities and feeling rather emasculated by her. Perhaps one of his fellow soldiers taught him?

    • Goof: In the scene in the cemetery when Giles is talking to Spike, there are several inconsistencies with Spike's cigarette which appears and reappears depending on the camera angle

    • In the scene where they are all in Giles' apartment doing research trying to find the demon, Willow is wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it, and rainbows are a symbol of gay pride. She was fond of wearing rainbows in Seasons 1 & 2 as well.

    • Goof: When Spike is trying to out run the Initiative Humvees he makes a ninety degree right turn with them following. A moment later Spike makes another hard right turn as one of the Humvees spins around. Though filmed separately, it's the exact same corner.

    • Goof: When Giles tears off his front door there should have been damage to either the door, the door frame or both, yet the door simply comes off. Look closely, all that was done by the effects staff was the hinge pins were removed.

    • Goof: When the military guy's car does that 360 degree turn, it changes direction from when it starts the spin, to when it finishes the spin in the next shot.

    • Goof: You can clearly see a white shirt (that wasn't there before and later disappears) underneath Spike's jacket when he is driving Giles' car.

    • Goof: When the waitress comes and takes glasses away from Giles and Ethan, several of the glasses change position in different shots.

    • Goof: When Spike steals Xander's radio he picks it up with his left hand. Then there's a cut to a different angle and he's suddenly holding it in his right hand.

  • QUOTES (19)

    • Demon Giles: If you can't find third gear, don't try for third gear.
      Spike: I'm doing my best, I don't know if I'm driving this thing or wearing it.

    • Demon Giles: You help me a-and I don't kill you.
      Spike: Oh, tremendously convincing. Try it again without the stutter.

    • Willow (referring to the demon): It stole Giles' car!
      Xander: Why would a demon want to steal a car?
      Anya: Why would a demon want to steal that car?

    • Spike: (to Demon Giles) And I'm supposed to just help you out of the evilness of my heart?

    • Xander: (as Spike is packing) That's my radio!
      Spike: And you're what...shocked and disappointed? I'm evil.

    • Spike: Hey, you picked up a tail.
      Demon Giles: Yes, just a little one...hurts when I sit.
      Spike: I mean someone's following us.

    • Spike: (to demon Giles) Well... What do I spy with my little eye? A demon... that would be -- oh, right... the things I can kill.

    • Buffy: Nice phone.
      Giles: Yes, fabulous technology. You see, if anyone has any information I need to know, they can simply tell me about it through this ingenious speaking tube. I'm very excited.

    • Riley: You're really strong. Like, Spider-man strong.
      Buffy: Yeah. But I don't stick to stuff.

    • Buffy: I keep thinking, "let's ask Giles," then I remember.
      Xander: He'd be great right now. He'd find himself in a second. Nobody is cooler in a crisis.

    • Buffy: (about Riley) I sort of kicked him across the room last night.
      Willow: Um, that's not good.
      Buffy: We were sparring and he said not to hold back. And he's a little dented. But he said he was okay with it. And I think he's okay with it. Do you think he's okay with it?

    • Giles: You know what gets me? This is what gets me. 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. They never even noticed me.
      Ethan: Who's Maggie Walsh?
      Giles: Oh, she's awful. She said I was an absent male role model. Absent, my ass. But, I'm twice the man she is.

    • Giles: I'm not sure I would have gone with the surprise party. You have enough things jumping out at you in the dark.
      Buffy: Professor Walsh says adrenaline is like exercise, but without the exorbitant gym fees.
      Giles: Very witty.
      Buffy: You should meet her. She's absolutely the smartest person I've ever met.
      Giles: Perhaps we should have invited Professor Walsh to the party.
      Buffy: Oh, no. I mean, she's, like, 40. She's got better things to do than hang out with a bunch of kids.

    • Xander: That's my lamp.
      Anya: A gift is traditional. I read about it.
      Xander: That's among friends. With bitter enemies, we don't give them my lamp.

    • Giles: This is a lively space. It's like an activity room we had at public school. One time I got up to a bit of a prank with the dartboard.
      Anya: I'm bored. Let's eat.
      Xander: Anya, we talked about this.
      Anya: I'm sorry, that was rude. Please continue your story. Hopefully, it involves treacle and a headmaster.

    • Buffy: Uh-oh. You have but-face. ... you look like you're going to say "but."

    • Prof. Walsh: So... the Slayer.
      Buffy: Yeah, that's me.
      Prof. Walsh: We thought you were a myth.
      Buffy: Well, you're mythtaken.

    • Buffy: Someone could take a hammer to my toes and it would still be the best Buffy birthday bash ever.

    • Giles: If you don't mind I'm going to watch them manhandle Ethan into a vehicle.

  • NOTES (4)

    • In a chat at Raven's Realm (a former BtVS fan site), Jane Espenson (who wrote this episode) had this to say about what happened to Spike after he crashed the car: "That was cut... for time. In fact, he got out of the car injured and he said 'I can kill demons. I can crash cars. Things are looking up!' It's too bad this got cut. It was a nice moment. And now you know..."

    • This marks the final appearance of Robin Sachs as "Ethan Rayne" on the series. He appears again in the video game Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds, and once more in the comic book adaptation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8.

    • Beginning this episode, Emma Caulfield is referenced by character name in the guest credits.

    • Ethan Rayne is removed to a secret military base in Nevada.


    • Riley: You're really strong. Like Spider-Man strong.
      In the comics Spider-Man is a man who was bitten by a radioactive spider and hence gained the strength of a spider along with the ability to stick to walls. Buffy's superhuman strength certainly rivals that of Spider-Man but it would be awfully cool to be able to "stick to stuff" as she put it.

    • Ethan: Oh, religious intolerance. Sad there. I mean, just look at the Irish troubles.
      Ethan refers to the situation in Ireland caused by the religious differences between the Catholic Irish and the Protestant British and Northern Irish. The simmering terrorist war that resulted was referred to as simply the Troubles. Giles' rejection of Ethan's worship of chaos isn't quite the same.

    • Giles: I felt like Theseus and the Minotaur in the ... labyrinth.
      The Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur tells of how the man Theseus was able to find his way through the labyrinth by spooling out string that he could follow out. Theseus killed the Minotaur who was half man/half bull.