Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 4 Episode 12

A New Man

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Jan 25, 2000 on The WB

Episode Fan Reviews (15)

out of 10
509 votes
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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!!!!!
  • Season 4, Episode 12.

    It is Buffy's 19th birthday. After realizing he is a grown man hanging out with a bunch of teenagers, he begins to feel useless. He is also the last person to learn about Riley and the Initiative. To top things off, he has a confrontation with Ethan Rayne that ends in drinks, but he transforms into a demon the next day and seeks help from an unlikely source.

    This episode was OK. I like seeing birthday episodes for Buffy every season since season 2. They're usually pretty cool. This has probably been my least favorite one so far, though. I like Riley though. He's sexy. The plot for this episode was OK, but I'm not liking a lot of the fourth season. It has its moments, though. :)
  • Demon Like Me

    A New Man-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.

    Definately not the most eventful episode, but very entertaining to say the least. "A New Man" is like Giles' own verison of "the Zeppo" from last season as Giles goes through some hilarious supernatural hijinks when finds himself oblivious to the rest of the group. Anthony Stewart Head shows he great comedic timing throughout when Giles sees himself as a loser, especially after Professor Walsh tells him off, only to find himself being comforted by Ethan Rayne of all people when he comes back into town. I always love seeing these 2 characters together as it always makes Giles seem more human as Ethan reminds us of Giles' hidden dark side. Also, both actors just play off each others with such ease.

    The highlight of the episode is, of course, when Giles turns into demon and spends the rest of the episode trying to become human. Making Spike understand Giles in his demon form and being his unofficical sidekick was plain hilarious. Anthony Stewart Head and James Masters make for a terrific comedic duo which is a same they don't get more scenes together. My favorite scene is when Giles chases Professor Walsh down the main street of Sunnydale which is just too priceless. While it's a slightly far-fetched resolution with Buffy realizing Giles was a demon just looking into his eyes, it does show how close the characters are as Buffy can recognize without even knowing it. I liked the sub-plot with Buffy and Riley exploring each other's fighting skills and demon fighting history. Poor Riley, even he couldn't do half the things Buffy could. I also love the revelation of 314 as it makes for a intriguing development in the Initiative storyline. All and All, "A New Man" has enough laughs and good develpments to make for a decent episode.
  • Giles has been out of the loop for awhile now, but when he finds out everyone has known about Riley and the Initiative, he gets more depressed. Then Ethan Rayne shows up and changes him into a demon.

    During a surprise birthday party for Buffy's 19th birthday, Giles begins to look and feel out of place for the first time. He then later finds out that a demon prince is going to rise and he tries to find Buffy at Professor Walsh's office. After being discretely berated by Walsh, Giles just gets Willow and Xander to come help him. He turns out to be wrong in his prediction and the gang muses that perhaps the Initiative cleared it up. Giles is shocked to learn that Riley is part of the Initiative and that Professor Walsh runs it. As he is leaving, he hears Ethan Rayne trying to have a monologue and the two fight. Before it can go further, Ethan suggests that the two talk about this. They spend the night drinking away at the pub, where Ethan mentions the demons are all worried about the Initiative and something called "314". The next morning, Giles wakes up as a Feyarl demon and tries to get help from Xander, who can't understand his demon speaking. While the Scoobies assemble to find the demon, which they believe killed Giles, Giles enlists the help of Spike through money to find Ethan Rayne. Buffy has come to the same conclusion when she checks receipts at the Magic Box. Giles gets to the motel and confronts Ethan just before Buffy bursts in. She attacks and stabs Giles, but notices his eyes and realizes it is him. Ethan reversed the spell and was put into custody with the US government. This was a very good episode because of the funny circumstances that it puts Giles in, including having to work with Spike. The funniest moment was when he told Spike to pull over so he could run after and scare Professor Walsh. It was also very sweet how Buffy finally realized it at the end and a bit sad about how Giles has been left out of the group. I could already tell that there was going to be much tension between Buffy and the Initiative, in particular with Riley and Walsh. Also, the ominous "314" first shows up that leads to ADAM. Overall, this was a fun episode.
  • Another fabulous Buffy birthday and Giles as a demon and the return of Ethan Rayne

    The Surprise birthday party was such a surprise. I loved Xander trying to explain listening to Anya; it's always amusing to hear him attempt to explain human things to her. I felt so bad for Giles though because he was so out of place at that party.

    I loved Willow and Tara. They were so great when they were trying to perform that spell together. I have been enjoying the development of their relationship this season.

    I really enjoyed Giles turning into a demon. Of course Ethan Rayne couldn't just come to Sunnydale to not cause havoc. I loved Spike helping him out too. Spike made it that much better. I loved how Giles had Spike pull over so he could chase Professor Walsh down the street after she had angered him earlier. Spike and Giles arguing about Giles' car was amusing as well. I loved how the military trucks just started chasing them down and Giles offered to pay Spike another $100 if her let him out of the car and led the military men in a different direction. That scene was so funny.

    I was so happy when the guys took Ethan away. I loved Giles in that scene too. All Giles wanted at that point was to see Ethan get manhandled into a vehicle. It was great that Buffy could tell the demon was Giles in the end by looking into his eyes.

    I loved the update of the Giles/Buffy relationship, in this amazing episode.
  • Giles-centric

    I love that they did a Giles-centric episode, in a season where the stories were mostly focused on the scoobies...and Spike. It was the perfect idea to turn him into a demon! It brought laughs, something different, and we got to see more of the darker mystical side of Giles that more often then anything took a back seat when it came to his story lines. I loved watching the interaction between Anthony (Giles) and James (Spike) as well.

    Xander: He'd be great right now. He'd find himself in a second. Nobody is cooler in a crisis.
  • "A couple of new faces" - Giles

    This episode starts off as a sort of Doomed #2 – this time it’s Giles trying to find his place in the new world order. But it’s also another look into the world of the Initiative and their methods.

    So, Giles has no job, no girlfriend, no adult friends and not much of a purpose in life. Any idea that he might become amorous with Buffy’s new mother-figure, Professor Walsh, is scuppered when she tells him that Buffy has no strong male role model. There are two telling pieces in this scene. Walsh tells Giles that Buffy’s self-reliance and independence (qualities Giles taught her) are not necessarily a good thing – we are already aware of the Initiative’s hierarchical nature - but here Maggie explicitly states her beliefs, hinting at what is to come. The second is that Giles references the Theseus legend when talking about the confusing labyrinth of the University – he is showing his mythical learning and knowledge which again contrasts with the scientific militocracy of the commandoes. Perhaps Giles is inadvertently foreshadowing the occupant of Room 314; like the Minotaur, Adam is half man, half beast. Giles getting lost in the University also shows that he is lost in Buffy’s new life. At her surprisingly trauma-free birthday, he feels out of place and old. At the beginning of this series Buffy needed Giles, but he was busy building a new life; now the opposite is true. Poor Rupert has empty nest syndrome. This is compounded by his discovery that not only are Riley and Prof. Walsh in the commando group but that everyone else, including Spike, knew about it. The resource-rich Initiative get to the demon rising before he does and he finds out that the vampires and demons are far more scared of the Initiative than they have ever been of him and the Watchers and Slayers.

    He feels useless and lonely. The kids have their honeys (although Willow is keeping her Fantasia-style sensuous rose-plucking new relationship quiet) and Anya is even learning manners through her love for Xander, but Giles has no-one. It’s no wonder he falls under the spell of everyone’s favourite chaos-worshipper, Ethan Rayne. Ethan even buys Giles an English-style pint. It’s unclear what Ethan’s purpose is other than to have a bit of fun. Why does he want to know about the eerie 314 and why is he telling Giles that the demons have the wind up them, that the natural forces of good and evil are being messed with now that science is getting involved, that they are throwing “the worlds out of balance”? Still, it’s good to see him again and I’m disappointed that he didn’t manage to escape from the detention centre. There was a definite missed chance in his absence from Series 7. But we see how much the gang cares for Giles when they believe he’s been captured by the demon and especially the love between Giles and Buffy as she recognises him by his eyes in their first and only fight. Giles is hilarious as the demon having the ultimate bad day. He is hit by Xander, breaks his own furniture, scares children, learns he has paralysing mucus and smashes holes in his car. Still, he manages to have a little fun terrorising Prof. Walsh. Spike takes a break from measuring up crypts to help him “out of the evilness of my heart” – and for $300. In Spike’s new life he enjoys car chases (and car crashes) and getting vicarious pleasure from Giles-Fyarl’s desire to “crush and destroy”, as well as outwitting the Initiative.
    The Initiative to Buffy is (for now) an exhilarating thing and part of her new life. The old stuff: rituals, destinies, magicks, Giles etc., seems a little boring. Riley’s ability to unlock shops, get a name search and someone arrested are all very exciting compared to the shadowy long-winded research methods that the gang utilise – they have to look through loads of dusty old books to find the demon that Xander saw. But we see the other side of the outfit as Riley tells Buffy he can’t take her with him (“this is a military operation now”) to fight the Fyarl demon - and she tells him to take a running jump. However, by the end of the ep, he admires Buffy’s attitude: “You’re like - make the plan, execute the plan; you’re in charge”. Poor Riley can’t understand anything outside of hierarchy and the hive mind: this will be the Initiative’s danger and downfall. Still, he can cope with Buffy beating him in their sparring contest and with her having killed more vamps than him. He’s the new man. The episode is epilogued by Giles warning Buffy about the Initiative and Walsh warning Riley about Buffy. The viewers know who to trust as we see Professor Walsh making her way into the mysterious room 314…..
  • Ethan Rayne comes back to Sunnydale (looking for another punch out from Buffy?) and finds Giles feeling in a mid-life crisis slump.

    Ethan Rayne is a wonderful character and the actor Robin Sachs always seems to be having so much fun. In this episode, under the pretense of having beer with an old friend, he manages to drug Giles. The next morning; Giles finds himself turned into a Fyarl demon.

    The rest of the episode amusingly portrays Giles' attempt to get some help with his problem while not destroying the entire neighborhood. There are many cute scenes including Ethan telling Giles he just poisoned him...only to say "kidding". Giles post-change, purposely scaring the bejeezus out of Professor Walsh, who he doesn't like. And the exchange between Spike and Giles.

    The only bad part is that Ethan in taken into custody by the Initiative and never shows up again. The relationship between he and Giles is good for Slash-literature and it would have been great to see him back, this time on the side of the angels, to fight the first in 7th season. Regrettably, this didn't happen.
  • 'He'd be great right now. He'd find himself in a second. Nobody is cooler in a crisis.'

    ‘A New Man’ is a decent episode which develops Giles’ character and the season’s storyline.

    The main problem is that Giles isn’t really a very interesting character anymore, neither is that bloody Spike and the painful Ethan Rayne.

    It’s Buffy’s birthday and Giles is at the party but feels completely left out. Riley even thinks that he is retired.
    Buffy also keeps telling Giles about Maggie but that she isn’t at the party because she has better things to go.

    Meanwhile Giles has no idea who the initiative guys are until he fins out that Riley is one and that Maggie is the commander which makes him upset because he hates Maggie for calling him to be an absence father figure.

    That day he sees that annoying Ethan again who puts something in his drinks and makes Giles turn into a demon. The demon looked very cool and it was funny when he went over to Xander’s place. Then he noticed that nobody understands him until he meets Spike who does understand and he talks in his language to Giles and asks him for money to help him out. When they are in Giles’ car they get chanced and almost captured but Giles was able to escape.

    The other storyline I much enjoyed was the Ruffy one, I think that they make a very cute couple. It was nice to see Riley impressed over her and when he got hit by her she still hold in. Riley is developing a strong crush for Buffy and he likes that she is special and doesn’t listen to oders.

    The episode also had a few funny moments like Giles scaring Maggie and the beautiful scene of Willow and Tara with a rose.

    At the end Giles goes to Ethan and tries to kill him but Buffy saves him and almost kills Giles but recognises him by looking in his eyes.
    The interesting storyline was Ethan talking about a room ‘314’ which is a room that is visited by Maggie.

  • Giles is turned into a demon by Ethan Rayne. Unable to communicate in English, he tries to get to Ethan (who then should turn him back into a human being) before being killed by Buffy who is convinced that Giles was killed by the demon.

    This episode gets an 8 because it's a Giles-episode. First he gets to know that he's completely out of the loop concerning Buffy's life (either part of it), then he runs into Ethan Rayne and ends up getting drunk with his old buddy. I pitied him so much in those scenes.

    The dialogue with Spike was truly funny, especially the bit, when Giles chased Prof Walsh and get back into the car after having proclaimed to not resort to demonish behaviour just because he looked like one.

    I'm very interested to see how the relationship between Giles and Buffy develops further in this season - Walsh and the Initiative also have to be considered.

    All in all: a fun episode and a good filler.
  • Giles turns into a Fyarl demon, making this one of the funniest episodes in season 5.

    This episode is classic Joss Whedon. Equal parts science fiction, with humor and suspense. Ethan Rayne, Giles' arch-nemesis from his youth comes back for a third time. He gives Giles a magic pill that turns him into a Fyarl demon the next morning. Before all of this, Giles gave buffy her 19th birthday and felt out of place being the only middle-aged man at the party, especially when he discovers Riley is her new boyfriend and part of the Iniative. And Buffy's new found admiration for Prof. Maggie Walsh also has Giles feeling insecure. This is a hilarious episode thanks to Anthony Stewart Head who plays Giles. All the scenes he is in as a Fyarl demon are priceless.
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