"The Dark Age" is the eighth episode of the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and the twentieth episode in the series. It was written by Joss Whedon, Dean Batali, and Rob Des Hotel, and directed by Bruce Seth Green. It originally broadcast on November 10, 1997 on The WB network.
RUNNING FROM THE PAST — Giles' quiet existence in Sunnydale is jeopardized when a murder victim, who is found to be linked to Giles' past, is discovered on the steps of the school library. Meanwhile, when the Mark of Eyghon — a demon that takes possession of a dead host — takes over Ms. Calendar, Buffy and Angel discover the one way to save her soul.
A man tries to get into the Sunnydale High School library to see Giles, but a demonic woman shows up and strangles him to death. He falls to the floor, and she turns into a puddle of green slime.
At school, Buffy and Willow are playing the game "Anywhere But Here," in which they recount some of 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. Giles runs into Jenny, who invites him for a date that weekend, a date that will involve them "staying in". When a cheerful Giles gets back to the library, detective Winslow is waiting for him — the dead man had Giles' address on him. Giles identifies the body as that of an old friend from London. The body has a tattoo on it, which Giles claims he can't identify.
Shaken, Giles forgets to meet Buffy at the hospital, and she battles the vampires, who are disguised as doctors, alone until Angel shows up. She asks him to see that the blood gets to the hospital and goes to check on Giles. When Buffy goes to Giles' house to see what happened, he looks drunk and sends her away. He calls a friend in London and finds out that she's dead, too. He crosses her name off of a list of several other names have also been crossed off. He rolls up his sleeves and displays 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 for a computer class. Buffy shows up to express her concern about Giles' behavior. Cordelia mentions the police visit to the library. In the library, Buffy finds Ethan, who she recognizes as the costume shop owner and Giles's former friend, who had almost gotten her killed 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 green goo. Some of it gets on Jenny and, when she comes to, her eyes flash. Willow then discovers the Mark of Eyghon in a book: Eyghon the Sleepwalker possesses the body of a dead or unconscious host. They figure out that he's jumped from Phillip's body to Jenny's.
Jenny then tries to seduce Giles at his apartment. When he rebuffs her due to her recent trauma, the demon changes her appearance and voice so that it is clear it is no longer Jenny, and attacks. Buffy comes to the rescue and the possessed Jenny jumps out the window. Giles explains to Buffy that he ran with a bad crowd when he was young, and they used being possessed by Eyghon as a temporary high — directing the demon into and out of each others' bodies. It was fun until Eyghon killed the friend he was possessing. At that point, Giles left the group. More recently, Eygon killed the woman who killed Phillip, and now it seems Eyghon is seeking out the rest of the group to kill, too.
Buffy goes to the deserted costume shop to try to help Ethan 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, now looking even more demonic, and approaches Buffy. The Slayer breaks free and starts fighting. Angel enters suddenly and chokes Jenny: Eyhgon then leaves her body and enters Angel's, since he's really dead (which happened to be Willow's plan all along). Eyghon fights Angel's demon, and is beaten. Jenny returns back to normal, but Ethan escapes.
Back at school, Jenny acts cold with Rupert, who thinks she'll never forgive him.
- This is the first episode to establish details about Giles' more "wild" youth, though it was foreshadowed in "Halloween".
- Due to the events that take place in this episode, Giles' and Jenny's relationship becomes strained, to reconcile in "Ted".
- In this episode, Giles slams a door in Buffy's face, and she does the same thing six years later at the end of the episode "Lies My Parents Told Me".
- Buffy and Willow play "anywhere but here" years later in the comic issue of the same name. This time in Buffy's fantasy she is approached by Daniel Craig whilst lying on the beach then being the object of affection for 2 different Christian Bale characters. Willow's fantasy has changed to herself and Tina Fey being trapped in a cabin during a snowstorm.
- Xander's comment: "nobody can be wound as straight and narrow as Giles without a dark side erupting," is also interesting if applied to Willow Rosenberg, regarding later episodes such as "Grave".
- This episode marks one of the first instances of Willow demonstrating leadership in the Scooby Gang in place of Buffy or Giles. She'll notably be in this position again in "Bargaining, Part One".
- Xander refers to his uncle Rory being a taxidermist. This is corroborated by Rory pointing out a poorly stuffed animal head in "Hell's Bells".
- It's eventually demonstrated in Death and Consequences, Part Three that Eyghon was never destroyed and survived by possessing a dead rat.
- Cordelia reads that one way to kill a demon is to cut off its head. However, she'll learn that some demons, like Lorne, can't be killed by decapitation ("There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb").
- Jennifer Calendar
- Cordelia Chase
- Eyghon the Sleepwalker
- Mr. Giles (Only mentioned)
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Rory Harris (Only mentioned)
- Philip Henry
- Diedre Page
- Randall (Only in flashbacks)
- Ethan Rayne
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Thomas Sutcliffe
- Unidentified custodian
- Vampire Doctor
Organizations and titles
- London (Only mentioned)
- Oxford University (Only mentioned)
Weapons and objects
- Randall, killed and possessed by Eyghon (in flashback).
- Thomas Sutcliffe, killed and possessed by Eyghon (only mentioned).
- Diedre Page, killed and possessed by Eyghon (only mentioned).
- Philip Henry, killed and possessed by Eyghon outside of the Sunnydale High library.
- Two unidentified vampires, staked by Buffy outside the hospital.
Behind the scenes
- "The Dark Age" pulled in an audience of 3.7 million households on its original airing.
Pop culture references
- Giles says: "And the rest is silence." This line is from Shakespeare's Hamlet, and is also spoken in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film by Buffy's previous Watcher, Merrick, and at the end of the film by Buffy herself.
- Buffy and Willow's game of "anywhere but here" results in mentions of the singer Gavin Rossdale, the actor John Cusack, and Xander's addition is the model and actress Amy Yip.
- Buffy gets from her locker the book The Europeans (1983) by Luigi Barzini Jr.
- Giles lends Jenny Calendar a first edition novel by British author E.M. Forster (1879–1970).
- Giles mentions that he's a fan of the 1970s band The Bay City Rollers.
- Buffy says to Giles: "I care from you Lost Weekend-ing in your apartment!". The Lost Weekend (1945) is a movie about the effects of alcoholism on a man's life.
- In "Halloween," Ethan had left behind a note on the counter of the costume shop which had said, "Be seeing you." Eyghon leaves Giles' apartment after possessing Ms. Calendar and also leaves a note saying, "Be seeing you." The phrase is likely a reference to 1960s cult paranoia TV-drama, The Prisoner.
- After recovering from her possession, Jenny tells Giles: "I mean, I'm not running around, wind in my hair, 'The hills are alive with the sound of music' fine, but... I'm coping." She is referencing the title song of the musical The Sound of Music (1959).
- A Mimic poster can be seen in the movie theater.
- The music to which Buffy aerobicizes and Giles objects, despite being updated to a late-'90s techno idiom, quotes a prominent guitar riff from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The riff underscores the 39 Lashes in the "Trial Before Pilate," appears prominently in the Overture, and opens the song "Heaven on Their Minds," which is sung by the character Judas Iscariot – a role originated by Anthony Stewart Head's older brother Murray Head on the original 1970 concept album of the musical.
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errors
- After Buffy finds Ethan at the library and calls Giles, they are attacked by Philip Henry, who calls Ethan's name. The closed captioning erroneously refers to Philip as a vampire.
- Wendy Way's character is spelled "Diedre" on Giles' paper, but "Dierdre" in the credits.
- Willow discovers the origin of the Mark of Eyghon, explaining that its "not Egyptian it's Etruscan, mistaken for Egyptian by the design pattern, but any fool can see it pre-dates their iconography." However, the Etruscan civilization's earliest records are dated to about 700 B.C.E. while the Ancient Egyptian civilization came together around 3000 B.C.E. In other words, the Etruscans did not pre-date the Egyptians.
- Christophe Beck — "Mark of Eyghon"
- Christophe Beck — "Philip Asks for Giles"
- Christophe Beck — original score
- Armenian: "Մութ անցյալը" (Dark Past)
- Czech: "Temné časy" (Dark Times)
- Finnish: "Pimeyden Voimat" (Powers of Darkness)
- French: "La Face Cachée" (The Hidden Face)
- German: "Das Mal des Eyghon" (The Mark of Eyghon)
- Hungarian: "Sötét múlt" (Dark Past)
- Italian: "Oscurità" (Darkness)
- Japanese: "過去の秘密" (Past Secrets)
- Polish: "Demony przeszłości" (Demons of the Past)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Idade das Trevas" (Dark Age)
- Romanian: "Evul Mediu" (Middle Ages)
- Russian: "Тёмное прошлое" (Dark Past)
- Spanish (Latin America): "La era del oscurantismo" (The Dark Age)
- Spanish (Spain): "Los años oscuros" (The Dark Years)
- The episode script is available in The Script Book: Season Three, Volume 2.
- This episode is included in The Slayer Collection: Giles DVD.
|Buffy - "Have I ever let you down?"|
|Giles - "Do you want me to answer that, or shall I just glare?"|
|Xander - "Ooo, gang, did you hear that? A bonus day of class plus Cordelia, mix in a little rectal surgery and it’s my best day ever."|
|Jenny - "The first thing we’re gonna do is... Buffy!"|
|Xander - "Huh? Did I fall asleep already?"|
|Cordelia - (after Eyghon's attack) "This is what happens when you have school on Saturday."|
|Buffy - "I know you. You ran that costume shop."|
|Ethan - "Oh, I'm pleased you remember."|
|Buffy - "You sold me that dress for Halloween and nearly got us all killed."|
|Ethan - "But you looked great."|