|"The Dark Age"|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Bruce Seth Green|
|Written by||Dean Batali |
Rob Des Hotel
|Original air date||November 10, 1997|
"The Dark Age" is episode eight of season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode aired on The WB on November 10, 1997. It was written by executive story editors Rob Des Hotel and 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, "Dierdre". As Giles is distracted by Buffy playing loud music in the library while doing calisthenics, he does not hear the man's cries for help at the door as the corpse strangles him, before falling to the ground and dissolving.
The next day, 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, Philip Henry. The body has a tattoo, which Giles claims he does not recognize.
Shaken, Giles begins drinking in his grief and does not meet Buffy at the hospital, and she battles the doctor-dressed vampires alone until Angel shows up. She goes to check on Giles, but he shuts the door on her and calls another friend in London and finds out that his other friend Dierdre Page is dead too. Out of sight, he rolls up his sleeves, revealing that he has the same tattoo as Philip. Meanwhile, Philip comes back to life in the morgue, his eyes flashing, and escapes.
On Saturday, Cordelia finally tells Buffy about the homicide detective's visit. 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 is in danger, and the dead Philip enters.
A panicked Giles shows up and, after a scuffle which leaves Jenny unconscious, Philip dissolves. When Jenny comes to, she seems normal but 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 Philip's body to Jenny's. Possessed, Jenny 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 the demon Eyghon as a temporary high – directing him in and out of each other's bodies. But one friend died, then Dierdre, and now it seems the rest of the group is being killed.
Buffy goes to the deserted costume shop to try to defend Ethan against Eyghon/Jenny. Ethan knocks her out, ties her up and puts the mark of Eyghon on her. He then uses acid to remove his own tattoo so that Eyghon will take Buffy instead of him. Jenny enters, completely demonic, and Buffy breaks free. Angel arrives and chokes Jenny until she loses consciousness, whereupon Eyghon moves to the nearest dead body: that of Angel. 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. Traumatized by her actions in the incident, Jenny tells Giles that she needs to take a break from their relationship in order to heal, leaving him unsure if she will ever forgive him.
According to The A.V. Club, "The Dark Age" 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. Critically Touched found it interesting thematically but poor on the technical level with "far too many scenes that feel very awkwardly stitched together".
"The Dark Age" had an audience of 3.7 million households on its original airing.
- Xander refers to his Uncle Rory being a taxidermist. This is corroborated in episode 16 of season 6 ("Hell's Bells") by Rory pointing out a poorly stuffed animal head at Xander and Anya's wedding.
- 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.
- "The Dark Age". Critically Touched. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's Second Season Archived 2006-08-23 at the Wayback Machine."
Attinello, Paul Gregory (2010). Music, Sound and Silence in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. p. 25. ISBN 9780754660422.