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Discussion of 3.12 "Helpless" - Aired 1/19/1999 (WB-US)

Carrie Hopewell

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Sineya
Are you referring to what Buffy said before being attacked by Kralik ?
Because I have always interpreted her words as an imaginary discourse, as if word for word, she said what she would have liked Angel says to her
No, I think she was clearly berating herself for ignoring Angel. In that scene, she's feeling a bit creeped out and is scolding herself: "Walk me home, Angel. No, I'm fine. I can take care of myself". She's regretting telling Angel not to walk her home.
 

Antho

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No, I think she was clearly berating herself for ignoring Angel. In that scene, she's feeling a bit creeped out and is scolding herself: "Walk me home, Angel. No, I'm fine. I can take care of myself". She's regretting telling Angel not to walk her home.
Thanks you just open my mind to a new vision of things
 

Ann

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Awh, I feel so sorry for Buffy in this episode! But, that vampire that drinks the holy water, how come he doesn't feel it burn instantly, when he drinks it? That was kind of weird o_O

And.. poor Giles! That stupid Watcher's council D:
That was clever of Buffy to think of replacing regular water with holy water to kill the vampire.
 
Best part Buffy and Angel sparring and Buffy staking Angel with the Bagget. Angel's B-Day gift to Buffy the poem book with Always written in it. Angel showing relief when Buffy tells him she is seeing her father for her birthday instead of some other man.
 

nina98

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Someone said they didn't like how their relationship went back to normal after this ep. But I don't think it did. This episode was the turning point in the Buffy/Giles relationship. After this, Buffy was the adult. She made the decisions. She was in charge. Giles supported her. But there was a tectonic shift.
 

Mr Trick

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Re-watched this one this evening and I think its one of the sleeper episodes of S3. Jeff Kober is one of the most effective one shot villains. It's very creepy and I like many of themes in it. Some nice interactions with Cordy too.
 

Mr Trick

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Buffy telling Giles that if he touches her she'll kill him is one of the most powerful lines of the show. SMG really gets across how hurt and broken up she is that someone who has grown to be a father figure to her could do such a thing. And her "Bite Me" in response to the Watcher guy is awesome too.
 

Btvs fan

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So on the rewatch the best word I can sum up for this episode is contrived. The writers clearly wanted an episode of Buffy dealing with a problem helpless without her powers. So in order for this to work Giles has to poison her, Faith has to go on a walkabout and Buffy doesn't go and get Angel the second she finds out her mothers been kidnapped. Even the Council I don't buy because long term what they are doing is at odds with there own selfish interests. Its not just Buffy either but that guy clearing threatening and being abusive to Cordy really isn't good and it's not helped by the comedy scene its dealt with.

I'm not a fan of this episode all in all 4/10 and thats being generous
 

The Bronze

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Not loving this on the rewatch. Giles getting fired because he loves Buffy too much is supposed to make everything he did better. He doesn't pay any attention to her emotional pain around her father abandoning her earlier in the episode. He drugs her and lets her wander around waiting to be killed for days. It's hard to believe he'd be so callous given he's put himself on the line to save Buffy before.

I can only assume Buffy not only forgave Giles at the end but covered for him as well. All they're talking about is Giles being fired not him drugging Buffy and nearly getting her killed. Xander wouldn't have been calmly chatting about.
 

Faded90

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Not loving this on the rewatch. Giles getting fired because he loves Buffy too much is supposed to make everything he did better. He doesn't pay any attention to her emotional pain around her father abandoning her earlier in the episode. He drugs her and lets her wander around waiting to be killed for days. It's hard to believe he'd be so callous given he's put himself on the line to save Buffy before.

I can only assume Buffy not only forgave Giles at the end but covered for him as well. All they're talking about is Giles being fired not him drugging Buffy and nearly getting her killed. Xander wouldn't have been calmly chatting about.
It’s pretty much a running thing that Buffy forgives the others mistakes/discretions a lot quicker than they forgive hers. I love Buffy/Giles (apart from S7 😂 when Giles is such a dick) but there’s also The Dark Ages when he puts her in danger, walks away from her at the end of the fight and then she has to pay for the tattoo removal himself 😂 and again the episode ends with her making him feel better

Like you say he nearly gets not only her but her Mother killed and she then basically flies the ‘Team Giles’ flag on his behalf for the rest of the season
 
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Mr Trick

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I agree that it stretches credibility a bit and Buffy does seem to forgive him a bit too quick. I think part of that is the reality of TV drama. It would have dragged the pacing of the season down to have had Buffy holding a grudge for episodes on end. I still like the episode because its very powerful and disturbing. Also its a important turning point for Giles as a character. Up to this point he was still very set in the old ways of the Coucil etc.. Drama wise it works, its just they could have sold it a bit more in the following episodes. Also don't forget its the Coucil's fault the experiment got out of hands not Giles.
 

The Bronze

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Drama wise it works
Yeah the episode is still entertaining. You've got shock value and funny lines etc. It also sets up what they want to do going forward. Giles gets a new role, Wesley comes in and the Council are shown as awful.
Also don't forget its the Coucil's fault the experiment got out of hands not Giles.
What it doesn't do is simultaneously salvage Giles as a character who loves and protects Buffy like a daughter. Quentin saying it just doesn't carry any weight at all. It's not like Giles is a kid who makes one rash mistake and then realises and works to rectify it. He drugs her repeatedly and lets her roam the streets defenceless for days, maybe weeks. The experiment getting out of hand is neither here nor there from where I'm sitting. It was awful to begin with.
 

Ethan Reigns

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This is an episode about the Milgram Experiment, a psychological experiment carried out in 1961 and designed to determine what people would do if they were told by an authority figure to do something that would violate their own conscience. In the experiment, the test conductor (who was actually the test subject) was required to administer shocks of progressively higher voltage to a student in another room who he could not see when the he got a question wrong. The student was an actor who gave increasingly loud screams as the shock level was incremented and complained that he had a heart condition and this was getting dangerous as well as painful. The tests were conducted in several ways, some with the authority figure in the room and some without his presence.

The purpose of the experiment was to see whether people would do things that went against their conscience, in large part to determine why seemingly normal people could operate Nazi death camps and whether this was an exclusively German anomaly or whether it could happen anywhere. Most subjects would do what they were told regardless of any sense of morality and people who were teachers usually scored the worst.

In this case, Giles was the test conductor and he failed miserably. Buffy should have written him and the Watchers' Council off permanently at this point. The experiment was dangerous and threatened Joyce as well due to bad planning on the part of the Council. In the real world, Giles would be convicted of administering a toxic substance, reckless endangerment and conspiracy. But the story required Giles to stay in the picture and therefore required Buffy to forgive him. The one character development that happens after this episode is that Buffy never wants to go back to being an ordinary girl again.
 
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