1st Anniversary Posting Board Party - Giles
Rufus - June 28, 2001


In 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer entered our homes looking like one of the many kids shows, only with monsters. It was in the characters and their lives that I first became interested, then devoted to the show. I'm writing about Giles because he is more than just a mild mannered librarian. Giles is a man who appears very old world, old school (Oxford), old boys club in his thinking and actions. Season one didn't do much to change that. His introduction in Welcome to the Hellmouth revealed a man who liked the past and was reluctant to enter the new age of television and computers. His comfort zone was in the library with his volumes about myth and monsters. His misfortune was to end up with a modern Slayer who played by her own rules and came complete with friends and family. Giles never bothered telling Buffy about the Slayer handbook.

In the season two episode "Halloween" we were shown a glimpse of what Rupert Giles was capable of under the right conditions. Ethan Rayne was in town to cause chaos in the form of a spell that caused the wearer of the costumes he rented from his shop to take on the appearance and behavior, the costume represented. It left Buffy helpless, in the form of a young lady from a time long past. With Buffy and her friends in danger, Giles went to the costume shop to find his former friend in a back room along with a bust of Janus.

Ethan: "Chaos. I remain, as ever, thy faithful, degenerate, son."


Giles: "Janus, Roman mythical god."

Willow: "What does that mean?"

Giles: "Primarily, the division of self. Male and female, light and dark."

Giles beat the shit out of Ethan, not because he enjoyed it, but to find out how to break the spell. Emotionless, just a man doing what he had to to get results. The smashing of the bust of Janus showed just how fragile the divide between light and dark of the self are. Giles is just like Janus a combination of light and dark.

Ethan: "Who you are? The Watcher, sniveling, tweed clad guardian of the slayer and her kin, I think not. I know who you are, Rupert, and I know what you are capable of.....but they don't...do they? They have no idea of where you come from ...and you said the Ripper was long gone."

The "Ripper" is the dark side Giles keeps hidden in proper clothes and manners, only an angry moment away. The full truth about Giles past is exposed in The Darkage(season two) when Ethan is back running from the consequences of "their" past partnership in magic and chaos.

Willow: "Look, the Mark of Eyghon, also called the Sleepwalker, can only exist in this reality by possessing an unconscious host. Temporary possession imbues the host with a euphoric feeling of power."

Giles told Buffy how he had rejected his destiny as a Watcher, changed his dress, speech, temperment, and got himself a new gang.(I thought of Spike/William in Fool for Love). Giles was sucked in by easy sex and illusory power until something happened to frighten the starch back into his collar.

Giles: "I was twenty and studying at Oxford. And, of course the occult by night. I hated it. The tedious grind of study, the ...overwhelming pressure of my destiny. I dropped out, I went to London....I fell in with the worst crowd that would have me. We practice magicks. Small stuff for pleasure or gain. And Ethan and I discovered something bigger."

Buffy: "Eyghon."

Giles: "Yes, one of us would um....go into a deep sleep, and the others would summon him. It was an extraordinary high. God we were fools."

Buffy: "You couldn't control it."

Giles: "One of us, Randall, he lost control. Eyghon took him whole. We tried to exorcise the demon from Randall, but it killed him. No....we killed him. We thought we were free of the demon after that. But now he is back. And one by one, he will kill us all."

Giles never wanted Buffy to see that he had ever been able to walk away from his duty because he was bored and wanted a normal life. He was most certainly horrified that she knew that he was capable of selfish actions that seem so unlike what the librarian facade would indicate. The Ripper is Giles, it's part of his personality, when angry Giles becomes more Ripper like. He was embarassed that Buffy ever found out about his mistakes as a young man.

Giles: "I never wanted you to see that side of me."

Buffy: "I'm not gonna lie to you. It was scary. I'm so used to you being a grownup, and then I find you're a person."

Once Buffy could see Giles as a person he became less the authoritarian Watcher and more a friend, one who knew the pressure of a predestined life first hand. Both Buffy and Giles had been forced into service, leaving the chance for a normal life remote. The barrier between the generations dissolved in the understanding of their similar lot in life. Giles wanted to be anyone else but a watcher, leading to his playing at magic, which had consequences that made him grow up and return to his destiny and the Council. The Ripper is still there, part of the Giles package that is prepared to use brutality to get the desired information or results. The difference is that in his youth, the Ripper was self centered and impulsive, his brutality self serving and more random. Now, Giles has control over his dark impulses the Ripper only becoming evident if needed. The man that beat Ethan in Halloween is the same man who drools around books. Giles was able to grow past the selfish need for power and Ethan wasn't. Ethan doesn't care about anything past his own needs and pleasure.

What Giles could have become had he not gotten smart was illustrated in Band Candy. Chocolate was a new route to chaos turning the adults of Sunnydale into teenagers. Giles reverted back to his Ripper persona and ended up meeting Ethan again.

Ethan spies a crowbar on the table, and being unguarded now, reaches for it and begins to advance toward Buffy. Giles notices his advance. He pulls back the hammer on his stolen Beretta and points it at Ethan's neck.

Giles: "I wouldn't"

Ethan stops cold in his tracks. Buffy turns around and swings the telephone receiver hard into Ethan's chin. He spins down to the floor, dropping the crowbar. Giles aims the gun at the back of Ethan's head, executions style. Buffy hands the phone to her mother.

Buffy: "Giles, give me the gun."

He just stares at Buffy and doesn't give in.

Buffy: "Giles...."

He keeps the gun aimed right where it is.

Buffy: "Now."

After a moment Giles reluctantly gives up his weapon. Buffy stuffs it into the back of her pants.

Giles had beaten a policeman to get that gun....he was prepared to use it on Ethan to protect Buffy. The younger Ripper may have been prepared to kill, but age and experience showed Giles how to let his Ripper side out when needed. He has manhandled principal Snyder to help get Buffy back in school, beaten Ethan a few times, and set Spike straight in season five about Buffy. Giles has learned restraint with his years...something he has taught Buffy...he knows what can happen if you let your angry feelings go. Giles said in Pangs vengeance is never sated, I have a feeling he knows something about vengeance.

The worst moment for Watcher and Slayer came as a result of the Council's visit to Sunnydale. These men had only been voices on the phone til their visit to Sunnydale. They weren't kindly old sorcerers, but bureaucrats who had reduced the Slayer to a thing to be used til broken (dead) then replaced. The Slayer was only useful as a instrument of the Council, the Watcher, the eyes and voice that made sure the Slayer was following procedure. Giles did what he was told and drugged Buffy to get her "Helpless"(season three) enough for a test to proceed. I didn't like Giles or the council when I saw what they were ready to do to a young girl who risked her life daily for humanity.

Quentin: "Cruciamentum is not easy...for Slayer or Watcher. But it's been done this way for a dozen centuries. Whenever a Slayer turns eighteen. It's a time-honoured rite of passage."

Giles: "It's an archaic exercise in cruelty, to lock her in this tomb...weakened, defenceless. And to unleash *that* on her."

Quentin: "Which is why you're not qualified to make this decision. You're too close."

The council was in Sunnydale to make sure that their interests were taken care of. The Watcher and Slayer, compliant, worthy to represent them. The only thing..if she failed she died, that possiblility mattered little to the council, the slayer changes the council stays the same. Giles betrayal of his relationship with Buffy was hard to watch. To stick a needle into the arm of someone who trusted him, and not tell her why and what was happening to her was pure council training in action. But Giles did the unexpected he gave into his conscience and told Buffy what was going on. He couldn't stand by and watch as the girl he had gotten so close to was tortured to satisfy tradition.

Giles: "It's a test, Buffy. It's given to the Slayer once she....uh, well, if she reaches her eighteenth birthday....The slayer is disabled and then entrapped with a vampire foe whom she must defeat in order to pass the test. The vampire you were to face....has escaped. His name is Zachary Kralik. As a mortal, he murdered and tortured more than a dozen women before he was committed to an asylum for the criminally insane. When a vampire........"

Buffy: (sobbing)"You bastard. All this time, you saw what it was doing to me. All this time, and you didn't say a word?"

Giles: "In matters of tradition and protocol, I must answer to the council...my role in this was very specific. I was to administer the injections and to direct you to the old bordinghouse on Prescott Lane."

Giles thought that he had nullified the test by informing Buffy about it. Quentin was getting his test no matter how many bodies it took to get it. This led to a confrontation between the two men.

Giles: "Then you know what's happened."

Quentin: "Yes."

Giles: (angrily) "He's killed Hobson and made Blair one of his own. Your perfectly controlled test seems to have spun rather impressively out of control, don't you think?"

Quentin: "It changes nothing."

Giles: Well, then, allow me. I've told Buffy everything."

Quentin: "That is in direct opposition to the Council's orders."

Giles: "Yes. Interestingly, I don't give a rat's ass about the Council's orders. There will be no test."

Quentin: "The test has already begun. Your Slayer entered the field of play about ten minutes ago."

Giles: "Why?"

Quentin: "I don't know. I returned there just as she entered."

Giles grabs his keys from his desk and starts out of the office. Quentin tries to stop him."

Quentin: "Now Giles, we've no business....."

Giles grabs him by the coat and shoves him up against the doorframe.

Giles: "This is *not* business!" He lets the other man go and strides out of the library.

Giles actions proved that he had chosen a side and it was that of human decency. The test is twelve centuries old and clearly barbaric. If a Slayer makes it to her eighteenth year I think a big party is in order, not a sick rite of passage. Giles went and helped Buffy because he values Buffy, not as an instrument, but as a daughter. His "fathers" love for Buffy helped him make the choice to disobey council orders and risk his positition as a Watcher. He redeemed himself by telling Buffy and taking his lumps. He then further proved himself by going to the house and interfering in the test because he knew it was pointless.

Kralik had taken Buffy's mother forcing Buffy into the test to save Joyce.To watch Buffy go against Kralik as a "normal" girl was frightening, she was helpless in her red riding hood cape, running from a twisted monster. The mortal Kralik was already a monster, becoming a vampire only gave him more stamina to carry out his fantasies about killing women. To this day I feel that Kralik was the most frightening vampire I have ever seen. To become a monster Kralick didn't need to be infected by a vampire, he was already there. Buffy used her mind and killed Kralik not with brute strength, but a batch of pills with a holy water chaser. Giles came in and took out a second vampire. The test was important, Buffy and her mother weren't. The test was done because it had always been done, times may have changed but the Council stayed the same, the progress of humanity wasn't going to change that. Giles took a chance, he didn't just use the rules to excuse his role in the test, he chanced losing his career as a Watcher to protect Buffy, he became a man to respect. Giles defiance of the council was punished.

Giles: "You're *waging* a war. She's fighting it. There is a difference."

Quentin: "Not quite, She passed, you didn't. The Slayer is not the only one who must perform in this situation. I've recommended to the council, and they've agreed, that you be relieved of your duties as Watcher immediately. You're fired."

Giles: "On what grounds."

Quentin: "Your affection for your charge has rendered you incapable of clear and impartial judgement. You have a father's love for the child, and that is useless to the cause. It would be best if you had no further contact with the Slayer."

Giles: "I'm not going anywhere."

Quentin: "No, well, I didn't expect you would adhere to that. However, if you interfere with the new Watcher, or countermand his authority in any way, you will be dealt with. Are we clear?"

Giles: "Oh, we're very clear."

Quentin:"Congratulations again." (to Buffy)

Buffy: "Bite me."

Calling Buffy a child helped Quentin stay in a superior position. It also hinted that she was too young to make her own decisions. The Council had kept their hold on power by complicated rules and intimidation, no one had questioned their authority until Giles stood up to them. They had become a bureaucracy only interested in their games and the continuation of the comfortable, old world ways. I can see why Buffy kicked them out of town and eventually cut ties with them. They tested the Watcher and Slayer to make sure that they were a fighting unit only, no relationship other than what the rules allowed. This dehumanizes the Slayer and Watcher and leaves a young girl an object, destined to die alone and afraid, without the thing that could make the difference, love and human closeness. The scene at the end of Helpless showed just how attached to Buffy, Giles had become. He stood his ground and was staying no matter the consequences. He was no longer a Council mouthpiece, he was a father of a sort.

With the Council out of the picture Buffy and Giles went into season four with a relationship that became strained as Giles went through a mid life crisis. No longer an official Watcher Giles became a bit lost. He was unemployed(he did blow up the high school) and felt that Buffy had progressed beyond needing his help. By the end of the season they were fractured by their self doubt and the Yoko Factor. Spike split them up to make them weak. Buffy figured it out in time for the four to join and defeat Adam. They remembered the importance of their friendship and bonded together in a spell to defeat Adam. In Restless they gathered at Buffy's to enjoy movies and some down time. They all had dreams that foreshadowed what was to come in season five.

Giles: "Buffy, you have a sacred birthright to protect mankind. Don't stick out your elbow."

Olivia: "For god's sake, Rupert, go easy on the girl."

Giles: "This is my business. Blood of the lamb and all that. Oh, now you're gonna get that all over your face."

Season five was about the family. Giles felt he wasn't needed in Buffy's life, her power enough that she could stand on her own. At the end of Buffy vs. Dracula Buffy asked Giles to become her Watcher again. Buffy may have power but she still needed guidance to understand how to use it.Giles got new purpose as Watcher and Magic Shop owner. He also had the job of helping Buffy endure her losses. First Riley left, her mother sickened and died. We also got to meet Buffy's monk made sister, Dawn, who is the Key. Giles helped Buffy train and comforted her when she was upset. This year Buffy needed Giles more than ever with her mother gone and Dawn the Key, Buffy faced a god and doubted her ability to win this battle.

In Checkpoint the council was back in town with another test. Buffy at first was afraid of their behind the scenes power, until she realized that it was she that had the actual power, power everyone wanted. The Council had power because no slayer survived long enough to question it.

Quentin: "Buffy.....I can sense your resistance, and I don't blame you. But I think you Watcher hasn't reminded you lately of the resolute status of the players in out little game. The Council fights evil. The Slayer is the instrument by which we fight. The Council remains, the Slayers change. It's been that way from the beginning.

Giles: (scornfully) "Well, that's a very comforting, bloodless way of looking at it, isn't it?"

Quentin: "Giles, let me talk to Buffy, because I think she's understanding me."

At one time Giles had been on the inside, one of the old boys, but his experience in life allowed him to see that the ways of the council were pathetically outdated and cruel. He broke away deciding to do the right thing by Buffy. Buffy had an epiphany regarding her place in "the game" after meeting up with first Glory, then the Knights. This made her rethink her former feelings of helplessness in regards to the Council, her conclusions reorganized the power structure.

Buffy: (Glory came over to Buffy's house)"Just to talk. She told me I'm a bug, I'm a flea, she could squash me in a second. Only she didn't. She came into my home, and we talked. We had what in her warped brain probably passes for a civilized conversation. Why? Because she needs something from me. Because I have power over her."

Buffy: "You guys didn't come all the way from England to determine whether or not I was good enough to be let back in. You came to beg me to let you back in. To give your jobs your lives some semblance of meaning."

Buffy: "You're Watchers. Without a Slayer, you're pretty much just watchin Masterpiece Theater. You can't stop Glory. You can't do anything with the information you have except maybe publish it in "Everyone thinks We're Insane-O's Home Journal. So here's how it's gonna work. You're gonna tell me everything you know. Then you're gonna go away. You'll contact me if and when you have any further information about Glory. The magic shop will remain open. Mr. Giles will stay here as my official Watcher, reinstated at full salary......."

Buffy: "Now. You all may be very good at your jobs. The only way we're gonna find out is if you work with me. You can all take your time thinking about that. But I want an answer right now from Quinton, cause I think he's understanding me."

You bet Quinton understood Buffy. The Council is all talk, all games, no actual power to fight the battle. The reason they exist is because of the Slayer not the other way around. Giles could see that as a human being Buffy deserved better than to be treated like an instrument. Giles worked with Buffy learning to trust in her judgement. Buffy's judgement established a new order, Slayer and Watcher work together, Council goes back to England to move paper about. The Council had shown they were undeserving of a command position, they were sent back to research and inform the Slayer and Watcher team. Slayer and Watcher were "Helpless" no more.

In Restless Giles mentioned his job, his sacred birthright as well as Buffy's to protect the world. The only time Giles has ever lost it with Buffy was over Dawn. The fact that the key could be part of a ritual that would destroy the world. Giles understood Buffy's need to protect her sister, but for him his duty was clearly to protect the world, even from Dawn. Buffy made it clear that the last thing Dawn would see was her protecting her. Giles and Buffy never had to confront each other over this as they had different roles to play in the defeat of Glory. Buffy found that love indeed would bring her to her gift, her gift to the world. Buffy turned out to be the blood of the lamb, the sacrifice that saved humanity, Giles did his bit to keep it safe. Giles saw Buffy hesitate when Glory turned back to Ben, she couldn't kill a helpless human. Giles made a choice one he felt a hero shouldn't have to contemplate.

Giles: "Can you move?"

Ben: "Need a minute. She could've killed me."

Giles: "No, she couldn't. Never. And sooner or later Glory would re-emerge, and make Buffy pay for that mercy. And the world with her. Buffy even knows that...(reaches into his pocket, takes out glasses) and still she couldn't take a human life."

Giles: "She's a hero, you see. She's not like us."

Ben: "Us?"

Giles suddenly reaches down and puts his hand over Ben's nose and mouth, holding them shut. Ben struggles weakly as Giles keeps him still. Giles expression calm throughout.

Giles killed Ben/Glory to spare the world and Buffy any further danger. He felt that as a hero, Buffy was above making choices that went against her honor code, so he took it upon himself to do what Buffy's mercy wouldn't let her do. He missed Buffy jumping into the portal to save the world and her sister. The look on his face showed the shock of loss and defeat, after all the battles Buffy was gone forever. He lost his Slayer, his daughter. Buffy was told her gift was death, her gift to the world was life through Buffys sacrifice. Buffy's last words were of comfort to those left behind.

Buffy: "I love you. I will *always* love you.....but this is my work I have to do...tell Giles I figured it out, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other...you have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world ....is to live in it....be brave...Live .....For Me."

Buffy's solution lead her to the light of dawn, Giles choice to kill Ben took a certain amount of darkness. Both choices had to be made. Giles did what he felt was needed to prevent any further destruction from Glory, Buffy's made sure there was a world left to worry about. Now all the survivors have to do is live, it's the only thing Buffy wanted.

Giles and Buffy escaped the stereotypical Watcher/Slayer relationship because they took the chance and became close. They got results that speak for themselves. They were willing to ignore the Council based rules and work with friends that included demons. They combined old world knowledge and new world technology to come to new solutions. Giles was the best Watcher for Buffy as he was able to change with the times and try a new way of fighting the battle with demons and evil. Giles was able to get out of the library and back into living in the world, he may not always been comfortable, but he was a better man for it. Giles did so much more than simply document the life of a Slayer, he helped her become the best person she could have been. Giles is a man that is more than his look can define, he is more than the tweed clad Watcher, he is Giles/Ripper/Friend/Father/light/dark, a man. I'll never be able to see librarians the same way again.

I have only written about one small part of who Giles is, I look to your additional posts about a character that has brought so much to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Some episodes I liked and show Giles in his many guises: Welcome to the Hellmouth, Halloween, The Dark Age, Passion, Band Candy, Helpless, Something Blue, Pangs, A New Man, The Yoko Factor, Checkpoint, The Body, Spiral, The Gift.

all quotes from Psyche's transcripts

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