Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Buffy Week 7 Spoiler Forum

And welcome to this week's spoiler post, where you can post comments of a spoilery nature without worry of any first-timers seeing what you write. Please check above and read this week's post, with commentary by Cynthea Masson, before posting below. I don't have much to add in the way of spoiler material, but the further we get into season 2, the more I find myself seeing clues of Willow's future confidence and power, Buffy's vulnerability, Giles losing his stuffiness, Angel drifting away, and Spike coming more to the forefront. I find myself looking for clues of future awesomeness, and they really are there all along. Interesting for me that where Buffy is freaked out by Angel's fanginess, and Jenny backs away when Giles walks to her at the end of "The Dark Age," on the contrary, when Willow discovers Oz is a werewolf she just shrugs and goes along with it. Reason #4,031 why I love Willow.

Nikki’s Spoilery Bits:
• I often wondered why Angel put up with such childish mind games from Buffy… it’s not like he’s still a kid inside, although maybe older men like this sort of thing (heehee). Watch how in Angel he’s far more mature and actually acts his age, and has no time for games of any kind.
• Just as Eyghon fights against the demon in Angel, so is the soul at constant war with the demon, a war where so far the souled man is winning and keeping itself on the surface, but Angel needs to keep it in check to prevent the demon part from surfacing. We know that in Surprise, the souled portion of him will lose the fight for a while.
• This is the first time we see Chez Giles. The layout will change later (there are no steps coming directly down to it, and the desk and couches will be in different places). The first time we see Giles’s house he wakes up in bed in a panic. All I could think of is seeing that same bed, with a dead Jenny on it, covered in rose petals, and what a devastating scene we have coming up. I’m anticipating and dreading it all at once.


Lisa(until further notice) said...

I love how often it seems that Cordy and Xander are thrown together and act so disgusted by it. Do they "protest too much?" It's very fun to watch. Xander has also saved her on many occasions from getting hurt or killed. I like watching thiis innocent buildup to the unimaginable, at the time, romance.

I think "lie to me" is the first time we start to see David Boreanaz playing Angel like he was meant to be played. I love how he really took one for the team, so to speak, in "The Dark Age". Angel saves Jenny here, but Angelus will not be so kind.

I adore how sweet Spike is with Dru. He loves her dearly, even thouth he plays caretaker and often takes the role of parent with child. The dead bird in the cage is priceless. From the beginning, Spike is quite complex and intriguing. He goes from caring and attentive to terrifying at a moment's notice. His future relationships with Buffy and "little bit" are foreshadowed here. James Marsters plays him brilliantly and had Spike down pat from the get-go.
Thankfully the accent improved along the way.

SenexMacDonald said...

In 'Lie to Me', did anyone else notice that during the firest fight, the stand-ins’ hair is much longer than SMG? It is really obvious.

Quote from my husband while watching the scene with Ford and the group: "They’re idiots and they have bad taste." (ref. the Jack Palance’s Dracula)

I found it interesting how pale Angel is in this ep … I had not noticed it before. Or maybe the makeup was changing? Anyone know?

I had to laugh out loud when Angel talked about how the goth (can they actually be referred to as that?) dress and then the vamp wanna-be comes by dressed like Angel. LOL!!!

At what point did Buffy’s cross get smaller? I had noticed it before but then during an earlier 2nd season ep, it had gone back to the larger cross.

Ascend? Again? Ascension is a common theme in BtVS.

Quote my husband again - "God, pagers! What are they going to do next? Send out smoke signals?" Ah, Justin…

Anyone else wonder this? Would you really hear the sound of a car scratching to a halt while locked in a bomb shelter?

Ford’s reward - Buffy is saddened by it. Night burial… Ford as vamp then dusted. Not the end he wanted, I am sure. :(

The Dark Age - did anyone else notice that there was NO Giles’ intro for the ep before this? No, I checked - it was not there!

Zombies! Okay, not really but it would have been nice. LOL

The tattoo reminds me of two lotus flowers with a snake-like object between - of course, I could get crass about that shape in the middle but I won’t

First glimpse of Giles’ apt. I love the walk-up … and the old dial phone! Loved it as it makes Giles look older than he actually it and seem part of a by-gone era. How deceptive! LOL And did you notice the programming on the board in the computer lab? Soooo old school!

Mark of Eyghon - Giles, why did you let it touch Jenny - especially when you know it was? I paused on the shot of the page describing Eyghon… it says exactly what Willow tells the gang. LOL

Whoa! Buffy knows what 'Lost Weekend' is?

I totally agree that this ep is where Willow begins to come into her own. Had to laugh at Willow sounding like Gilies. Willow as Watcher. Interesting!

I was sad at the end that Jenny’s and Gilies’ relationship changes - especially in light of what is to come with Angelus. Giles needs someone and they were good together and would have been good together. But it set Giles down a path and without it, the gang and he might not have ended up where they ultimately ended.

Anonymous said...

There's a mention of "Once more with tension" - the less popular Buffy musical. ;)

Spike is obviously jealous of Angel with Dru. We'll see the root of that in the Angel episode Destiny.

Ford's betrayal of Buffy foreshadow's Angel(us)'

I'm very fond of Anne, introduced here as 'Chantarelle' and her journey. She starts as a dependent vampire wanabee with low self esteem (and almost ends there as Spike's lunch) to a woman dependent on her boyfriend in Anne, to the self-giving social worker she becomes on Angel.

Dark Age has the first reference to Xander's Uncle Rory. We won't meet him in the flesh until Hell's Bells.

Cordy takes down Ethan. This may seem ooc for the cheerleader, but foreshadows the warrior she'll become on Angel.

And one gratuitous comment - Ethan has great arms! I see what Giles saw in him. ;)

Cynthea said...

LOL--I'd love to know Nikki's other 4030 reasons to love Willow.

Unknown said...

Lisa (u.f.n.)-I totally agree re: Angel. When he steps in to help Jenny I really start to see him as a hero.

Giles' speech at the end of "Lie to Me" always reminds me of his actions at the end of Season 5. something about how Buffy is a hero. . .not like you and me. And then it's curtains for old Ben.

At the beginning of "Lie to Me" Drusilla has this bit with Angel where she says something like "She has no idea what's in store" regarding Buffy. On first watch, I took this for batsh%& Drusilla-speak. On subsequent watchings I always just assumed Drusilla meant that Angel was bad news and Buffy should watch out (ya know 'cause he drove Drusilla nuts and then turned her). But now, I am feeling so dumb that I never realized she could mean the events of Innocence/Surprise. Does anyone else think this line is Drusilla's prognostication talents forseeing Angelus' return? Or had the writers not plotted out that far ahead?

Page48 said...

@SenexMacDonald: I've noticed in several of the early BtVS eppies that Angel is very pale, but no more so than when he's in Willow's BR (where he also looks pretty darned youthful).

@redeem147: Chanterelle/Lily/Anne's career in the Buffyverse spans almost 7 years but only 5 appearances (and 3 names).

Everybody in Sunnydale knows about "Delivery Day" at the hospital. I love it.

Cordelia: "This is what happens when you have school on Saturday". She's so right.

Xander to Ford (twice): "you're not wrong"

How DOES Buffy get around town so quickly?

Leaving your kid in a Sunnydale playground after dark = not a good plan.

Giles at home alone...drinking? Doesn't everyone do that?

How did Cordelia know that the police were talking to Giles about a homicide?

Loved the deepening of the Buffy/Giles relationship in TDA.

Why didn't Buffy dust Dru in LTM? She could have done away with her and still easily locked Spike away. Is it because she knew Dru was somehow important to Angel? Is it because she didn't want to send Spike into a rage?

The Ripper's idea of good tuneage is the Bay City Rollers. Sigh!

Unknown said...

Great essay this week!

"We might alternatively ask whether the “straight and narrow” Giles is a lie and, furthermore, whether Giles has been lying not only to Buffy but also to himself. Will the real Rupert Giles please stand up?"

There has been some talk in the previous week's comments about Giles and whether or not the way he appears in the first episodes are consistent with what we later learn about his past as Ripper. The idea is that Ripper is this street-wise, knowing guy who would never be as stuffy or naive as Giles appears to be in earlier episodes. But I don't think that's true. I think the older Giles was the real Giles all along and Ripper was an act.

I think Ripper was a follower, a rebel without a clue, who never was a gang leader nor wanted to be in it once he realized what his foolishness had wrought.

The only part that wasn't an act and remained in Giles was the ability (and willingness) to do violence to evil when necessary, which would be a trait well integrated into the job of watcher, as we see.

He does fight bumblingly when training Buffy (like we see Wesley later) but I attribute this to a lack of field experience, not desire or lack of bravery. I don't think Ripper did a lot of fighting demons, more street fighting with humans. I think Giles has become aware of his predisposition towards violence and seeks a life where he can't indulge in it.

We also see (mostly in Band Candy) that Ripper was immature, concerned with appearances, and probably covering for intense insecurity. I think Giles' behavior with Jenny reflects this insecurity and his role as librarian/watcher is still somewhat concerned with appearances. . .but it has been transferred to appearing "proper" rather than "cool." Seeing what his youthful indiscresions wrought, he sought comfort, safety, and forgiveness in the role of the safe, proper watcher. Redemption of a sort.

P.S. Always found Chanterelle obnoxious (we're supposed to) but her line to Gunn in "Not Fade Away" is among the best in the two series (what would she do if this was the end and none of this makes a difference?): "I'd get this truck packed up before the new stuff gets here". :) Cool that she got to see the series out on TV.

Tom D. said...

Lisa wrote: I think "lie to me" is the first time we start to see David Boreanaz playing Angel like he was meant to be played.

I had the same thought while rewatching. I also think Spike is better in Lie to Me than in the earlier episodes he's in -- the dead bird scene with Dru, and the scene where Ford offers him the deal, and the comedic "um, where's the doorknob?" at the end are all pretty great.

I think it's because Joss wrote and directed the episode that we see Marsters, and especially Boreanaz, start to really show us the performances that make their characters so interesting.

Incidentally, I wonder if Joss consciously had the Monty Python dead parrot sketch in mind when he wrote Lie to Me. Guy with British accent indignantly explaining that a bird in a cage is dead. Still funny this time around.

I also like Dru's line, "well, I'm not a person," said to the kid in the playground at the start of Lie to Me. It's interesting because it's both true and false. Drusilla has a very strong personality -- like Spike and Angel and Darla, she's more than just a monster. She reeks of humanity (as the Judge will later say about Spike). One of my favorite lines in the whole series is Spike saying to Buffy: "I know I'm a monster, but you make me feel like a man." I forget what episode that's in.

In the Angel/Buffy confrontation scene in Lie to Me, I love Buffy's kinda elegant white outfit (echoing Dru's dress from earlier in the episode), but more importantly, I love that she angrily insists that she's the one who must decide whether she loves or trusts Angel. Also, in the same conversation, Angel somewhat cheesily asks her if she loves him; her look of annoyance in response, before she says "I love you," is rather good.

Interesting that Spike does actually keep his promise to Ford to turn him into a vampire. Based on Spike's general "I don't give a fuck" attitude throughout the episode, I wonder why he decided to do that. Just felt like it, I guess. Ford was kind of dumb not to make Spike fulfill his end of the bargain before delivering the Slayer.

Tom D. said...

One more thought about Lie to Me. Does it seem to anyone else like Buffy's pretty quick to imagine a conspiracy against her when Angel starts to tell her the truth about Ford? Her first thought isn't that Angel and Willow and Xander care about her and are looking out for her -- it's that they're conspiring somehow.

I guess this is partially justified under the circumstances: Buffy is already angry at Angel for lying to her about having met with Drusilla, and she likely also knows that Xander feels jealous towards Ford; plus, she was obviously trying to make Angel jealous of Ford at the Bronze earlier. So from Buffy's point of view, it probably seems like her boys are just being jealous and trying to undermine Ford.

But still, there's also an echo of Buffy's recurring belief that she is all alone, even when she's among friends. And she reacts by pushing all three of them away (Angel right then, Willow and Xander at school the next day) -- turning that belief into a reality, or closer to it.

Cynthea said...

@EBeth to ThePowerOf? Another detail that would support your position about Giles is that Eyghon (when possessing Jenny) says to him, "God, you just don't change, do you?" S/he then goes on to suggest that Giles has always needed things to be "proper." In other words, even as Ripper, he showed traits that represent the Giles we know.

NZ Watcher said...

I have also always been interested in the Giles/Ripper tension(s).

I love the portrayal of Ripper - AH does it so well, playing the counterpoint to Giles so effectively.

EBethToThePowerOf? and Cynthea have suggested that Ripper was just an act - a form of (almost teen) rebellion to avoid the responsibilities that being Giles required. I can see the argument they make, and I agree that Band Candy makes Ripper look like a complete wannabe bad-ass. But I'm not sure that portrayal is entirely true to the reality of Ripper.

There have been definite elements of the teen lad to Ripper so far, and more to come indeed. But there is more to Giles than just the bumbling watcher, and (as far as the Ripper/Giles dichotomy goes) that more lies at the Ripper end of the spectrum - and indeed contains elements of a true "dark side".

Giles' (for want of a better word) warrior abilities start to manifest themselves from about Bad Girls in Season 3 - and he becomes much more than a bumbling fighter.

I think that, as the show progresses, and as Willow progresses as the pseudo-watcher (as well as her other roles - is there any other character that progresses so far on so many fronts?), Giles starts to be more direct - and take more direct action.

I don''t want to bore everyone (any more than I have) with a list of how Giles changes and when but there are two images that spring to mind that make me think Giles still has some Ripper in him - and Ripper is not just a rebellious phase...

The first is in Fear Itself when Giles needs to get into the Halloween dorm - reminiscent of many a horror flick staple we see Giles pull a chainsaw out of his bag and start taking the most direct route to save Buffy... through the walls as fast as he can. Very direct, very effective. (Of course he reverts to Giles again in the very next scene...)

The second, and most vivid for me, is Giles suffocating Ben at the end if The Gift. There is no bravado, no teen posturing, no fuss even. Giles merely does the one thing that Buffy cannot do. And from what I can remember Giles never refers to it, and never tells anyone he has done it. None of that to me tells of a man whose "darkness" is merely teen rebellion. To me it tells of a man who realises that he has a dark side, controls it when it is needed releases it just as much as required, before bottling it up again as soon as possible.

On a less preachy note... I love the way that JW writes the instant transitions from serious to funny - and I think that JM is the best at nailing the delivery!

Love the music in Lie To Me - prescient of some of the tones in Firefly?

p.s. - Nikki - This is a fantastic blog and an amazing topic. I love all of the contributors and commentators keep up the good work!!

JavaChick said...

I'm so used to seeing Giles' apartment, I hadn't realized this was the first time we see it in the series.

Re: Angel, I actually had watched the next episode (What's My Line Part 1) and thought that I was finally seeing Angel as I remember/expect him to be.

@SenexMacDonald - I find I really notice the stunt doubles easily now, maybe because I have rewatched so many times. I have to remind myself to not look for it.

Allison said...

FYI to any readers in the DC area -- The Black Cat is starting their new Buffy happy hour on Sat. Every Sat. they are going to show one episode of Buffy with drink specials like bloody mary's. It's like the rewatch, but slower, and with beverages.

Nikki Stafford said...

@Senex: lol! Justin's comments sound so much like my husband's. He also laughed at the pager and said, "Did they get that from the Beeper King?"

Anonymous said...

Lisa, Doofus is Riley. At least, he's my Doofus. :)

Lisa(until further notice) said...

redeem147, HAHAHA. Doofus... I would have never gotten that by myself. Truth be told, I actually like Riley. Hot, earnest, tough, realistic, dedicated, smart. Ok everyone, start taking your potshots.

JavaChick said...

I like Riley too; I think he's a good guy. I know a lot of people don't though.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

So, all you Losties, Michael Emerson was on Parenthood this week. SO good to see him on TV again. And now, back to Buffy.....

Page48 said...

Lisa(ufn) re: Emerson:

not only that, but this.

Witness Aria said...

"I often wondered why Angel put up with such childish mind games from Buffy… it’s not like he’s still a kid inside, although maybe older men like this sort of thing (heehee). Watch how in Angel he’s far more mature and actually acts his age, and has no time for games of any kind."

I think it was Sue Abbott who wrote a really good essay about the differences between Angel in Buffy and Angel in Angel. In the Buffyverse that exists in my mind, I usually just chalk it up to the result of Liam being in love for the first time. A "love makes you do the wacky" no matter how old or usually mature you are type thing. Sometimes it's a stretch, but it gets me through (and I could use the exercise).

@SenexMacDonald Just curious, but does knowing in hindsight that Jenny is a "spy" change your view of her and Giles' relationship? It never really did for me, but I know some people find her to be a little hypocritical here about Giles not telling her about his past. I think her anger comes from fear of the shape of his past and how it infected her more than anything. But I'm curious how other people feel about it.

Austin Gorton said...

I tend to think of season two in two parts: the stellar second half that begins with "Surprise" and the better than season one but still not as good as what's to come first half of season two.

"Lie to Me" is an episode that reminds there's still lots of great stuff in the second season's first half. In a lot of ways, it's really laying the groundwork for what is to come, and making it possible for those future episodes to be as good as they are.

"Lie to Me", "The Dark Age" and "What's My Line" are a set of really good episodes that suffer in comparison to what is to come, but really, what's to come wouldn't be possible without them.

Suzanne said...

@Lisa (until further notice), my family and I just watched this week's Parenthood on Hulu. We were delighted to see "Ben" pull up in that bug van. It was fun seeing Michael Emerson play a different role. He did an excellent job playing an adult with Asperger's syndrome. No surprise there given his incredible talents.

Now back to Buffy commentary -- I have really enjoyed this week's analysis so far even though I haven't been able to comment. In regards to the discussion about which self is Giles "lying" about, I would say that he isn't really lying when he is Ripper, Bumbling-Library-guy Giles, nor the more mature, balanced Giles we see in later seasons. I think he is going through a similar process that all of the characters (and possibly all people) go through when they try to come to terms with the competing aspects of their personalities. We all want to project a certain image and often this image is the one that we think is our "best" self or our most acceptable self. When we are younger, we often try to deny a side of our selves that makes us very uncomfortable; sometimes we even label this as our "bad" side as Giles does with Ripper. However, I believe that Giles like so many of the characters finally finds a way by the time he kills Ben in Season 5 of coming to terms with the Ripper side of his personality and accepting that if he uses that side in a controlled manner when there is no other option he believes is available to him, he should do so. To me, this is when he fully accepts himself and completely matures.

I would argue that Buffy, Spike, Angel, Cordelia, Willow, Faith, and even Xander (am I missing anyone besides all of the wonderful Angel characters, such as Wesley, who go through this?) all go through a process like this at various points in the series or in the Angel series. Don't we all have to go through something like this in some form during our lifetimes?

Tom D. said...

Regarding Suzanne's point about Giles's Ripper/bumbling-library-guy dichotomy: Yes, everyone in different ways goes through a process of coming to terms with their own dark side. But what I notice about Giles in particular, which seems a little odd, is that when he is being Ripper, he isn't just "darker" -- he is more competent. We see this in the way he rather efficiently beats up Ethan in Halloween, contrasted with some bumbling goofy moments in the very same episode. Consider, also, in Band Candy where he smoothly takes away the gun from the policeman who is pointing it at him. (Although he otherwise acts quite immature in Band Candy, as EBeth observed.)

There's something odd about a person becoming more competent when their dark side has come out. Has Giles managed to convince himself, the rest of the time, that he's clumsy in a fight, and when he's Ripper he just forgets that he's supposed to be a bumbling nerd and therefore starts kicking ass?

A possibly related thought: in The Replacement, Xander sees the suave version of himself and figures it must be some kind of evil doppelganger, and the audience likewise is led to believe that Suave Xander is somehow sinister before the truth is revealed. That episode seems to be playing on a similar set of associations: bumbling and dorky = lovable; suave and competent = evil. Am I stretching too far by trying to make a connection here?

SenexMacDonald said...

Nikki Stafford said..."@Senex: lol! Justin's comments sound so much like my husband's. He also laughed at the pager and said, "Did they get that from the Beeper King?""

Nikki - so true when it comes down to the geeky husbands we love. :) I am sure he will have more in the weeks to come. We can compare notes... haha!

Page48 said..."@SenexMacDonald: I've noticed in several of the early BtVS eppies that Angel is very pale, but no more so than when he's in Willow's BR (where he also looks pretty darned youthful)."

Page48, Angel looks so pale in that scene that I thought he had NO makeup on ... or a really white pancake layer on. It just seemed to stand out more than anything before then. It also gave him an eerie look.

redeem147 said..."Lisa, Doofus is Riley. At least, he's my Doofus. :)"

Redeem147, my doofus is Justin and, as you know, he is in love with Riley! Doofus' in love. LOL

Witness Aria said..."@SenexMacDonald Just curious, but does knowing in hindsight that Jenny is a "spy" change your view of her and Giles' relationship? It never really did for me, but I know some people find her to be a little hypocritical here about Giles not telling her about his past. I think her anger comes from fear of the shape of his past and how it infected her more than anything. But I'm curious how other people feel about it."

Witness Aria, I had completely forgotten that part. On this viewing, I can see that there is a definite connection between Jenny and Giles. It might have been a setup originally or it might have just happened. No matter, I believe in the hurt Jenny felt at the end of The Dark Age. I truly believe that the spark that was growing has been beaten down by what occured, and that her feelings are not related to anything else going on in Jenny's life. This begs the question - even though it is not clear that this is correct - did Jenny have memories of what happened when occupied by Eyghon? If she knows or at the least has a 'feeling' about what happened, then that might also explain her feelings towards Giles at the end of the ep.

Suzanne said...

@Tom D., you have a point about the dark Giles seeming more competent that bumbling Giles, but don't you think that competence is in the arena of combat or violence, not in other areas. Even though I find it fascinating to think of bumbling Giles just being some sort of curtain he uses to hide dark Giles behind, I still like to think that what is going on with Giles is a struggle amongst different sides of his personality. I even see the visual metaphor of Angel's demon fighting with another demon inside of him primarily being a symbol of Angel's own internal struggle between different sides of himself, but also representing that of other characters. This metaphor seems to be rampant throughout the mythology in many forms, but perhaps most obviously (in visual form) in the Glory/Ben dichotomy. I don't see Giles' struggles as being as simple as the Glory (evil) and Ben (good) dichotomy, but I think each character is somewhere on that spectrum and that both sides (or sometimes, like in the case of Spike, all of the many sides) represent the totality of the character.

Tom D. said...

I just had one more belated thought about the link between evilness and competence (or at least violence-related competence, as Suzanne noted): Angel in season 1 and early season 2, as compared to Angelus (in late season 2 as well as in flashbacks, before the restoration of his soul). The Angel we meet at the beginning of season 1 is scared of the Master and his henchmen -- even though we will later learn that Angelus was pretty contemptuous of the Master. Angel in seasons 1-2 slowly becomes more of a proper hero and less of a wimp -- I think the first time we really see him do well in a fight scene is in The Dark Age, where he helps Buffy fight the vampires who are trying to steal the blood from the hospital. It seems to me to be an arc that we're being deliberately shown, where Angel, through his association with Buffy, gradually becomes braver and a more formidable fighter. Yet there's no explanation for why the former Angelus -- a certified badass villain, widely feared for more than a century -- devolved into the comparatively pathetic Angel of season 1. It's almost as though, by being on the side of good, he somehow lost his bravery and ability to fight.

I think the shift in Angel's fighting abilities is probably best explained as just serving the needs of Joss's overall plot, rather than happening for any internally consistent reason (much like how magic does whatever the show needs it to do in any given episode). At the start of the show, it's important to establish that Buffy is the hero, the most badass warrior around, and it's important for Angel to be clearly something less than her -- after all, the concept of the show is fundamentally about a girl who kicks ass. But throughout the first half of season 2, we see, not only Angel and Buffy falling more deeply in love with each other, but also Angel becoming a stronger, more dangerous guy -- and both of those developments add to the emotional power of Angel reverting to Angelus, which is what the whole season is built around.

Nikki Stafford said...

Suzanne and Tom D: I've been meaning to jump in and join your conversation about the idea of Giles being more competent and a different person when he's Ripper. What a fascinating idea! I think it could be said of several characters -- as Tom pointed out, Angelus can beat the living snot out of anything and anyone, and Angel seems more vulnerable. Similarly, Giles almost cowers when training Buffy, but kicks Ethan repeatedly and beats him up without a second thought.

I wonder if Giles, similar to Angel, has consciously split himself off? There are many people (and I'm not talking people with a mental condition, but people who willingly do this) who have created almost a second persona of themselves, and in one of them they're far more confident and able, while in the other, they seem meeker and less competent. It's almost as if, in an attempt to bury Ripper, Giles holds back. Perhaps he's worried that, like an alcoholic, if he begins to succumb to the darker side within him and fight back or show his iron spine, he could take it too far again. He's been burned with Eyghon before, and he figures it's much safer to himself and everyone around him if it's just bumbling Giles and leaves the slaying and fighting to Buffy. But when he knows that only he can get to the truth, he does that patented Giles move -- removing his glasses, which if you watch the scenes where he does it, always seems to coincide with him trying to see something differently or hiding something (I immediately think of him removing them right before killing Ben) -- and then he wails on Ethan as only Ripper can.

After the gang realizes who Ripper is, and that Giles can be a little more hardcore than they originally thought, they all seem to show him more respect and mock him a lot less.

Much of the show's message is about control. Buffy loses control with Ted and thinks she's killed an innocent man. Oz realizes he's a werewolf and has to keep his instincts under control. Willow sees herself in Doppelgangland and is terrified about what could happen to her without control. Angel tries to keep Angelus under control constantly. Faith is a picture of a Slayer who is uncontrolled. So Giles, too, is a picture of control, trying to bury the Ripper deep within him and not letting him out in any way. To do so, he has to deny some of his own strengths, and that could be why he comes off as less competent, as Tom says.