The Dark Age (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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This article is about an episode in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For the Astro City maxi-series, see Astro City. For other uses, see Dark Ages (disambiguation).
"The Dark Age"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
The Dark Age.jpg
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 8
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Written by Dean Batali
Rob Des Hotel
Production code 5V08
Original air date November 10, 1997
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Lie to Me"
Next →
"What's My Line"
List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"The Dark Age" is episode eight of season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode was written by Executive Story Editors Rob Des Hotel & Dean Batali and was directed by Bruce Seth Green. The narrative follows Giles, whose friend has died, prompting the Scooby Gang to unravel his mysterious past; meanwhile, Buffy crashes into Ethan Rayne again.


A man is hurriedly making his way through the school grounds trying to find Giles, when he is approached by a decomposing woman whom he addresses as "Deirdre". The corpse moves forward and strangles him, before falling to the ground and dissolving into a puddle of slime.

The next morning Giles awakens from a disturbing dream. At school, Buffy and Willow are seen playing 'Anywhere But Here' in which they recount their fantasies: Buffy is on a beach before sunset having her feet rubbed by Gavin Rossdale, Willow is in Florence at a restaurant eating ziti when she is joined by John Cusack. Giles tells Buffy to meet him later at the hospital where there will be a blood delivery, which attracts vampires. When Giles gets back to the library, a detective is waiting for him who informs Giles that there was a homicide on campus and the dead man had Giles' address on him. Giles identifies the body as an old friend from London, Henry Phillip. The body has a tattoo, which Giles claims he does not recognize. In Giles' anguish the show's soundtrack makes use of Buffy's theme to indicate Giles' need for Buffy despite his present refusal to tell her the whole truth.[1]

Shaken, Giles doesn't meet Buffy at the hospital, and she battles the doctor-dressed vampires alone until Angel shows up. She asks Angel to see to it that the blood gets to the hospital and goes to check on Giles. When Buffy goes to Giles' house to see what happened, he opens the door looking dishevelled and appears to have been drinking. He calls another friend Deirdre in London and finds out that she's dead too. As he rolls up his sleeves, we see he has the same tattoo as his friend. Meanwhile, the dead friend, Phillip, comes back to life in the morgue, his eyes flashing, and escapes.

On Saturday, Willow, Xander, and Cordelia meet with Jenny Calendar – Giles' girlfriend – for a computer class. Buffy shows up to express her concern about Giles' behavior. Cordelia mentions the police visit to the library, which had slipped her Cordelia-centered mind. In the library, Buffy finds Giles' former friend Ethan, the costume shop owner who had caused chaos on Halloween. As she calls Giles, Ethan mentions the "Mark of Eyghon". Giles says she's in danger, and the dead Phillip enters.

A panicked Giles shows up and, after a scuffle which leaves Jenny unconscious, Phillip turns into the blue goo. The puddle touches Jenny; when she comes to, she seems normal but we see her eyes flash. Willow discovers the "Mark of Eyghon" in a book: the demon Eyghon has the ability to possess the body of a dead or unconscious host. They figure out that the demon has jumped from Phillip's body to Jenny's. Possessed Jenny, looking and sounding increasingly like a demon (albeit with a broad American accent), tries to seduce Giles at his apartment. When Buffy comes to the rescue, Jenny jumps out the window. Giles explains to Buffy that he ran with a bad crowd when he was young, and they used Eyghon as a temporary high – directing him in and out of each other's bodies.

But one friend died, then later the woman who killed Phillip, and now it seems the rest of the group will die, too. Buffy goes to the deserted costume shop to try to defend Ethan against Eyghon/Jenny, but he knocks her out, ties her up and puts the mark of Eyghon on her. He then pours acid on his own tattoo so that Eyghon will take Buffy instead of him. Jenny enters, completely demonic, and Buffy breaks free. Angel enters suddenly and chokes Jenny until she loses consciousness, whereupon Eyghon moves to the nearest dead body: that of Angel, a vampire – as Willow had planned. The two demons, the vampire within and Eyghon, fight for control in Angel's body, and Eyghon is destroyed. Jenny returns to normal, but Ethan escapes.


The AV Club noted that it formed a good companion to the episode Lie To Me, further exploring themes of good and evil and how light and dark can exist in the same character; it also provides insight into the character of Giles, who is central to the episode, and illustrates a common theme of Buffy, that "stains spread", that bad deeds can have long-running consequences.[2] Critically Touched found it interesting thematically but poor on the technical level with "far too many scenes that feel very awkwardly stitched together".[3]

"The Dark Age" had an audience of 3.7 million households on its original airing.[4]

Arc significance[edit]

  • This is the first episode to establish details about Giles' more "wild" youth, parts of which will occasionally return to haunt him throughout the series. This is also the first appearance of Giles' apartment, which will become the Scoobies' headquarters in Season 4.
  • In the third season episode "Enemies", Giles tells Xander his monetary expense (a bribe to Willy) can be reimbursed with a receipt; this may be a joke. In this second season episode, however, Buffy has to spend her own money to remove the tattoo inflicted on her by Ethan.
  • This episode provides another example of Willow assuming control of the Scoobies whilst Buffy and Giles are preoccupied or incapable of leading the group. Willow will assume leadership of the gang in several future episodes, and most prominently between seasons five and six.
  • Due to the events of this episode, Giles' and Jenny's relationship will never be the same again.
  • Angel saves Jenny's life, only for Angelus to kill her later in the same season.
  • Second appearance of Ethan Rayne, who was introduced in "Halloween" and will next appear in "Band Candy".
  • Buffy and Willow play their game again in the Season Eight comic "Anywhere but Here": their fantasies have Buffy approached by Daniel Craig while lying on the beach, and Willow trapped with Tina Fey in a cabin during a snowstorm; Willow having come out as a lesbian since this episode.
  • Eyghon reappears in the Angel & Faith comic series set during Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine, in which it finally claims control of Ethan's and Giles's bodies as well as those of some Slayers, and is bonded to the final piece of Giles's soul that Angel needs to bring Giles back to life. Eyghon is able to take control of Spike now that it is on Earth in its true body, however it is unable to control Angel as there is three beings in his body at the time: Angel, Angelus and the rest of Giles's soul. Eyghon is finally slain when its true form is decapitated by Angel, and the last piece of Giles's soul is absorbed into Angel's body.
  • Xander predicts in this episode that Willow will become a Watcher when it is in fact Xander who takes on analogous role in Season Eight.


  1. ^ Attinello, Paul Gregory. Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 25. 
  2. ^ Murray, Noel (Jul 17, 2008). ""Buffy The Vampire Slayer: "Lie To Me" / "The Dark Age" / "What's My Line?: Part 1 & 2" "". AV Club. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  3. ^ "The Dark Age". Critically Touched. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  4. ^ "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Second Season."

External links[edit]