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What is Giles’ problem

Faded90

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First of all I have to say that I adore Giles in season 1-5 and his relationship with Buffy is one of my favourites in the show and mostly I think season 7 is character assassination but we got what we got

it starts out in season 6 when his reaction to Buffy’s severe depression and suicidal feelings is pretty much ‘you just need to grow up’

Then season 7 rolls around and by mid season he’s trying to undermine Buffy at pretty much every opportunity for his own spiteful reasons. Twisting her out of context words about Spike having her back to fuel the mutiny and just generally going against her at every opportunity. They make it clear that it’s because Giles is bitter he isn’t in charge but that actually doesn’t make sense because Buffy has been in charge since at least season 3 and even before that Buffy was never one to follow orders. It’s ridiculous when he tells Dawn it was the right thing to do kicking Buffy out. Where has real Giles gone who actually cares about Buffy as a human being?

He even manipulates himself into being in control when Faith is leading. It’s him who goes with the potentials to capture the bringer and it’s him who interrogates it and kills it - Faith isn’t even in the room. He then undermines her exact orders the next morning when she asks him, Willow, Xander and Dawn to check up on Buffy. When they return it’s actually Anya who goes with them and not Giles. So he’s basically got no intention of following anyone’s orders

it’s interesting that from Touched onwards is pretty much the unravelling of Giles’ character and everything that made him important - particularly to Buffy. Pretty much everyone levels up around him and becomes better at the things he was so valued at

Buffy shows in both Empty Places at the end and in Chosen she considers Faith her second in command in both a leadership and battle scenario

There’s a scene in End of Dayswhen Giles and Willow are researching the scythe. Willow suggests checking out a pagan temple, Giles then says a lot of intellectual things and goes round the houses with his train of thought and ultimately comes to the conclusion that yes they should check out the pagan temple. This scene shows that Willow is far more on the ball when it comes to research. We’ve also had all season of Dawn building herself as a very good researcher

In Chosen when the civilians pair off Buffy wants Xander with Dawn. Giles is a better fighter and Xander only has one eye and Buffy still trusts Xander more with the most important person in her life. Giles has always been her most trusted person and he’s lost that this season

Giles in Chosen isn’t part of the slayer army, he’s not the big spell caster, he doesn’t wear the amulet and he’s not even Buffy’s trusted person anymore. He literally ends the season on the same level as Andrew and that’s honestly all he deserves for his behaviour this season
 
LemonBanana
LemonBanana
Yes!!! I love Giles and think he is an amazing dude, but I was heart broken when he left Buffy (and the Scoobys)! However, it does make it all the better when he pops in every now and then 😂! I am new btw and am LOVING Buffy boards! 💕
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I completely agree. Rewatching seasons 1-5 a little older, I appreciate Giles and Buffy’s relationship so much more. Giles grew so much as a character so it was really disappointing for this to be the ending for him.
 

Spanky

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Black Thorn
I just took it as Giles finally growing up and becoming a real watcher as opposed to the friend and mentor he was previously.
 

Faded90

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I just took it as Giles finally growing up and becoming a real watcher as opposed to the friend and mentor he was previously.
In a way that was kind of what made him irrelevant in the end. Buffy was creating a new system and changing the world, Giles was stuck in the old one
 

AlphaFoxtrot

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Joss has daddy issues, and ultimately, as long as Giles was Buffy's father figure, he was eventually going to turn him into Hank. It's absolutely ridiculous, season 6 was largely about a girl needing a father, a mother and a mentor. But Season 7 was about Girl power. And Joss did reconcile with his own Father prior to the man's death.
 

thrasherpix

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If I was there, and didn't know the tungsten plot armor Buffy would have (that is seeing it from the character's POV rather than as a member of the audience), I'd have questioned her decisions as well, and when Wood and Giles conspired to kill Spike, I'd been with them, not Buffy. However, if Buffy built a cage for Spike or some such I wouldn't have. I know you support Buffy in this season, and the writers used their fiat to make her right, but I just don't sympathize with her, and see Buffy of season 7 much like Giles of season 7, as in just breaking my suspension of disbelief.

But yeah, he went from wanting to feel needed up to season 5 to suddenly deciding in season 6 that when Buffy is at her most vulnerable that he should take off so she can "recover" (and I never saw him the same after that). Apparently the actor couldn't spend as much time on the season so he was somewhat written out, but not very well, and the explanation for his reason flies in the face of every previous season.
 
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katmobile

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If I was there, and didn't know the tungsten plot armor Buffy would have (that is seeing it from the character's POV rather than as a member of the audience), I'd have questioned her decisions as well, and when Wood and Giles conspired to kill Spike, I'd been with them, not Buffy. However, if Buffy built a cage for Spike or some such I wouldn't have. I know you support Buffy in this season, and the writers used their fiat to make her right, but I just don't sympathize with her, and see Buffy of season 7 much like Giles of season 7, as in just breaking my suspension of disbelief.

But yeah, he went from wanting to feel needed up to season 5 to suddenly deciding in season 6 that when Buffy is at her most vulnerable that he should take off so she can "recover" (and I never saw him the same after that). Apparently the actor couldn't spend as much time on the season so he was somewhat written out, but not very well, and the explanation for his reason flies in the face of every previous season.
I think you knock it on the head in season seven Giles isn't there in season seven so he doesn't see Buffy's decisions from the inside and he still sees Angelus. Part of it is guilt - I walked away and it fell apart.

The problem with season six Giles is Buffy wasn't engaging with anything with him there. She left telling off Dawn to him and while he's Buffy's father figure he isn't Dawn's - Buffy has to be Dawn's. Buffy would probably have made the same mistakes with Giles around as would Willow but he wouldn't have made the friends he did that enable Xander to reach her.
 

Faded90

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I think you knock it on the head in season seven Giles isn't there in season seven so he doesn't see Buffy's decisions from the inside and he still sees Angelus. Part of it is guilt - I walked away and it fell apart.

The problem with season six Giles is Buffy wasn't engaging with anything with him there. She left telling off Dawn to him and while he's Buffy's father figure he isn't Dawn's - Buffy has to be Dawn's. Buffy would probably have made the same mistakes with Giles around as would Willow but he wouldn't have made the friends he did that enable Xander to reach her.
But that one incident with Dawn is literally the only thing she hands to Giles. Only two episodes prior when Buffy is trying to get a job and sort the bills Giles actually tells her she’s trying too hard to sort everything at once and now he’s decided she’s asking too much. What he should have done was tell Buffy she had to sort Dawn herself

What he ends up doing is leaving a fragile 15 year old in the sole care of two troubled 20 year olds. One has recently disclosed she is suicidal and the other is so hopped up on power she threatened him and violated the minds of everyone she cares about to disastrous consequences. Xander in OMWF has also made it clear he doesn’t expect things to work out naturally so delved into the dark arts himself. Honestly Giles should have just been honest and admitted he didn’t want to be involved in it anymore.
 

FaithLehane16

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it starts out in season 6 when his reaction to Buffy’s severe depression and suicidal feelings is pretty much ‘you just need to grow up’

Then season 7 rolls around and by mid season he’s trying to undermine Buffy at pretty much every opportunity for his own spiteful reasons. Twisting her out of context words about Spike having her back to fuel the mutiny and just generally going against her at every opportunity. They make it clear that it’s because Giles is bitter he isn’t in charge but that actually doesn’t make sense because Buffy has been in charge since at least season 3 and even before that Buffy was never one to follow orders. It’s ridiculous when he tells Dawn it was the right thing to do kicking Buffy out. Where has real Giles gone who actually cares about Buffy as a human being?

He even manipulates himself into being in control when Faith is leading. It’s him who goes with the potentials to capture the bringer and it’s him who interrogates it and kills it - Faith isn’t even in the room. He then undermines her exact orders the next morning when she asks him, Willow, Xander and Dawn to check up on Buffy. When they return it’s actually Anya who goes with them and not Giles. So he’s basically got no intention of following anyone’s orders

it’s interesting that from Touched onwards is pretty much the unravelling of Giles’ character and everything that made him important - particularly to Buffy. Pretty much everyone levels up around him and becomes better at the things he was so valued at
You can have a lot of growth when you don't have much contact with your metaphor parents. I've done so when I had a falling out with my metaphor parents and sister. Ues, the experience made me go into a depression, but I've managed with the help with my boyfriend. I no longer speak to my parents and my sister since they were the ones who screwed up.

If you did notice in Season Six, Buffy was starting to use her depression and PTSD as an excuse to leave Giles to do everything that she was supposed to do. She was taking advantage of the situation which he had seen, so that was when he made the decision to leave. He wasn't being harsh on her condition since he did stay around for awhile and gave her a big check. He wasn't responsible at all for helping to maintain the house. If anything it was Tillow's fault. If Oz were around, he would push Willow to help out since his band gigs wouldn't be enough to maintain the household which is another reason why I loathe Tillow.

As for Giles in Season 7, it is pretty much a slap in the face to have your daughter choose the man she had an abusive relationship with over you. Giles had helped her more to get where she's at that time. Plus Spike didn't seem to shed any remorse for killing Wood's mom and was gleeful to wear her coat as his second skin.

If Buffy wasn't catering to Spike over everyone, Giles wouldn't have manipulated that mutiny situation. And he was right about the fact that Angel handled the vampire/slayer much better than Spike because Spike was being so selfish of the whole thing. He getting a soul wasn't about doing good, it was an excuse to be in Buffy's life so her trauma wouldn't as important. It was all about his man pain. Angel refused to take advantage of the situation which is one of the reasons why he left.
 
K
katmobile
I can accept the latter statement vis a vis Spike are Giles's perspective but there's a lot we've seen Spike go through including Buffy telling him he needs the more brutal sides of himself to be effective.

famicommander

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It wasn't about Giles, it was about Buffy. This isn't the first time when everybody turned against Buffy when she really needed them, and when she was ultimately correct.

Remember the beginning of season 3? Everybody, especially Joyce, treats Buffy like total crap and Buffy just has to suck it up and keep being the hero.

Buffy had:
-Had her boyfriend turn into a psychopath who started murdering her friends and various other innocents
-Stumbled upon the corpse of the only person in the world who understood how it felt to be her (Kendra), then got blamed for her murder
-Gotten her father figure kidnapped and many of her friends hurt falling for Angelus' ruse
-Been forced to make a devil's pact with her hated enemy Spike in order to save Giles and the world
-Gotten kicked out of her house by her mother when she told her mom who she really was
-Been forced to stab her boyfriend in the chest and kick him into hell to save the world at the exact moment he returned to his true self, confused and afraid but still trusting her
-Managed to hold down a job where she was harassed by jerks and get her own place as a minor alone in a huge city

But when she comes home everybody takes turns unloading guilt trips on her and she just has to stand there and take it.

The point is, in both season 3 and season 7, that Buffy doesn't have the luxury of "fairness". She's the chosen one, she has to rise above it even when the people she loves the most fail her.
 

Faded90

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It wasn't about Giles, it was about Buffy. This isn't the first time when everybody turned against Buffy when she really needed them, and when she was ultimately correct.

Remember the beginning of season 3? Everybody, especially Joyce, treats Buffy like total crap and Buffy just has to suck it up and keep being the hero.

Buffy had:
-Had her boyfriend turn into a psychopath who started murdering her friends and various other innocents
-Stumbled upon the corpse of the only person in the world who understood how it felt to be her (Kendra), then got blamed for her murder
-Gotten her father figure kidnapped and many of her friends hurt falling for Angelus' ruse
-Been forced to make a devil's pact with her hated enemy Spike in order to save Giles and the world
-Gotten kicked out of her house by her mother when she told her mom who she really was
-Been forced to stab her boyfriend in the chest and kick him into hell to save the world at the exact moment he returned to his true self, confused and afraid but still trusting her
-Managed to hold down a job where she was harassed by jerks and get her own place as a minor alone in a huge city

But when she comes home everybody takes turns unloading guilt trips on her and she just has to stand there and take it.

The point is, in both season 3 and season 7, that Buffy doesn't have the luxury of "fairness". She's the chosen one, she has to rise above it even when the people she loves the most fail her.
completely agree. Dead Mans Party is infuriating I can barely watch it. Particularly Willow’s ‘I’m angry that I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the relationship I already had for months anyway even though you’ve just killed the love of your life’, it does show over and over again how astonishingly selfcentred the scoobies can be

Dead Man’s Party pretty much ends with Buffy saying ‘yeah it was all my fault let’s move on’.End of Days we never get that apology scenefrom the others that she really deserves eithrt
 

SpikeOrAngel

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As much as I adore Giles and he is one of my beloved characters, he (like Wesley and The Council) keep secrets, isn't trusting, can be impersonal, and do what's "best for business" when saving the world, i.e. lie, deceive, control, and kill for "good", while Buffy will not cross that line and would rather die than do so.
So his leaving, falling out, and betrayal of Buffy isn't really out of character. Is it sad? Yup. Does it hurt me? Yup. But not out of the realm of realism. Heck, mentors are lucky to survive Episode Ones. Buffy needed to be a leader without his cold "facts" and hard "suggestions". It happened to me twice in life where my mentors told me that I didn't need them anymore, and that I can be an adult without them. If they came back and started managing my life, I would freak out.
 

Myheadsgonenumb

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I've got to say Giles' behaviour in s7 clouds and colours my view of him in all the other seasons too. I used to love Giles, when the show was ongoing, but since 2003 I see everything through the prism of the fact he rallied up a mutiny and kicked Buffy out of her own house and so I judge everything he does up to that point much more harshly than I did on the first run through.

So now - in season 1, I see a man who insists that Buffy take up this mantle that they both know will lead to her early death, which has already caused her to get kicked out of school and driven a wedge between her and her parents. She tells him she doesn't want to do be the slayer, she lays it all out on the line - what it is he is asking of her - and he chases her through the corridors and follows her to The Bronze. He stands behind her (way too close) and essentially guilts and goads her into being the slayer that night and not just Buffy out for fun and what happens? She attacks Cordelia, Cordelia tells everyone about it (which is fair enough tbh) and by her second day at school Buffy's reputation as a weirdo is being cemented. And she was worrying about having last month's hair...

And yes - you can argue that if Buffy hadn't gone into slay mode, Willow would have died. But I would argue, if Buffy hadn't spotted Giles, she wouldn't have left Willow alone, Willow wouldn't have chatted up a vampire. So Giles' being there and distracting Buffy endangers Willow. Jesse would have still been killed but - he gets killed anyway.

Sure, they have a good dynamic and he values and respects her ... but he's still working in a job where he is directly responsible for sending a young girl out to fight for her life every night. His very presence in her life is causing her harm - even if he cares about her, even if her dying is his worst nightmare, he is still making her go out and fight. And attempting to control what she can and can't do. He tries to forbid her from being a cheerleader because as a slayer she won't have time - putting being the slayer above her being Buffy. He orders her around, telling her to be in the library for training - she mustn't dawdle with her friends. He tells her off when he doesn't think she is paying enough attention or didn't do the job the way he wanted her to (both Reptile Boy and WML part 1). He just sends her out to slay without checking if that is OK with her - treating her like the disposable tool that is 'the slayer' and not a person. Much is made of her lying to Giles so she can go to that Frat party... but he has absolutely no right to ban her from going. Joyce does - but Giles doesn't.

And then in season 3, he plays his part in the cruciamentum. He lies to her, her injects her with the muscle relaxant and his job was to deliver her up - defenceless - to Kraylik. Ultimately he fails that last part, but he went along up to that point because he is a watcher and he is loyal to the council. She is the slayer and it is his job to make sure she does her job, no matter what danger it puts her in. They're relationship is one based on the fact that, ultimately, she will die fighting. Yes, he finds it painful - but he doesn't stop her fighting. He encourages her and trains her and chastises her and guilts her until she slays unquestioningly. Yes, he is willing to face the master in her place in prophecy girl, but at this point he has got into her head so much that she believes she has to do it and stops him. She has been manipulated through talk of her destiny so much that at 16 years old she willingly walks away to sacrifice herself and it is Giles who bears the blame for most of that. Because i don't care what will happen to the world if she doesn't go - Buffy owes her life to no one. Just because watchers give slayers the power to fight vampires doesn't mean she has too - they just make her do it and tell her there is no choice. Which is of course, why they prefer them so young. (and of course - if Buffy hadn't gone to face the master, nothing would have happened, he tells her that. Her blood frees him.)

It's interesting to watch how much his life falls apart in s4, when he no longer has daily access to Buffy and isn't her watcher. His identity is very closely tied up with him as a watcher and her as a slayer and he is lost once it is taken away. He's even going to leave at the beginning of s5 because he doesn't feel needed and only gets his identity back when she asks him to be her watcher again.

I can give s6 a pass for the most part because the real reason he goes are ASH real world circumstances. They wouldn't have written him out if ASH had been willing to stay. But I will note Buffy doesn't need him for the slayer stuff, she needs a parent - and it is that he is not willing to stick around for. He isn't willing to guide her or support her into being a grown up or coming to terms with her bereavement of losing heaven. Add in that he was already planning on leaving her behind because he didn't feel needed at the beginning of s5 and the whole 'Giles is Buffy's real dad' argument starts to look a bit weak. He acts like a father figure when he is a watcher, but take that away and he's either drunk or absent. So he isn't a parent, he's a male authority figure in her life whose interest in her is predominantly the professional relationship of watcher/ slayer. When she's not being 'the slayer' or doesn't need a watcher, he doesn't want to know.

So then you get to s7 and Buffy is an adult who is used to adulting, she has been slaying so long she no longer requires guidance, she has backup she trusts 100% in Spike and what does Giles do? undermines her at every turn, tries to kill Spike behind her back and then kicks her out of her own home.

Spike gets it dead right when he says Giles used to be the big man with all the knowledge and he can't stand it now Buffy has surpassed him. That's been it exactly. All through those teenage years, Buffy needed his research and his guidance and now - not only can she stand on her own two feet - but she knows she can stand on her own two feet. So Giles tries to undermine her and bring her back into line as his subordinate. And then he tries to kill off her second in command so she will have to rely on Giles that little bit more. And when all else fails, he gets rid of her and replaces her with a bunch of inexperienced teenagers.

Which is exactly what the cruciamentum is all about. The watcher's council would rather have an inexperienced child slayer doing as they are told than a woman, in control of her power getting the job done who might mutiny (which Buffy does - and Giles supports her in that because he has already been sacked by them. It could have been a very different story if he was still being paid). So they take her power to show her they are the ones who are in control and she either dies (problem solved) or she survives but knows the council can stop her being the slayer and her leave her to the wolves at a moment's notice (so less likely to mutiny).
Torture aside - this is exactly what Giles does in Empty Places. He replaces the competent, confident slayer who is secure in her own position and power and making her own decisions with the potentials - who need him to tell them what to do.

I'm not saying Giles is evil, or that he doesn't love Buffy - but he works for the council The council is an institution built around using girls as weapons and discarding them and swapping them as if their lives meant nothing. It pats itself on the back about fighting evil and saving the world, but it is corrupt and reliant on a girl whose importance they never acknowledge. This isn't just Giles' job, it is the family he has been born into. We explore much more of that dynamic with Wesley, but loyalty to the council and a belief that they are saving the world (when it's not them at all) is the first thing they are taught.
In 'The Gift' Giles says 'I have sworn to protect this sorry world and that means saying things that other's can't, shouldn't have to.' But it isn't watchers who protect the world - it's slayers. What he is saying that other's can't is that they need to kill Dawn. Like in Prophecy Girl , one girl's life must be forfeit for the good of the world and Giles acts like he is the one carrying the burden and making the calls but at the end of the day, it is Dawn who will be the one that has to be sacrificed, not him.
Watchers really believe they are the ones doing the hard work, and that they have a right to call these shots and control these girls lives, sacrifice them and make decisions for the wider world. When slayers get older, get wiser and start pushing back - they don't like it. They want to maintain their place at the top of the heap, they will do what it takes to maintain their place at the top of the heap - and that is precisely what Giles does to Buffy in s7.

The fact that afterwards he is so useless and out of the loop actually works as a metaphor for the watcher's council as a whole - what they think they are vs the reality of what they are.
 

Faded90

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I’ve always thought they made Giles the way he is in S7 to show how out of touch he is. In Chosen Buffy creates the new ‘slayer world’ and she changes it forever. Giles is part of the old school which doesn’t work anymore. He represented the old system whereas Buffy was representing the new way and the new way meant Giles had to back down and follow orders hence his rather minimal role in Chosen compared to every other scooby. He’s undermined Buffy all season and then undermines Faith when she’s in charge. In the end they both have huge roles in beating the First and Giles doesn’t

Buffy has always been extremely forgiving of Giles’ flaws. In The Dark Age he’s a complete dick to her the full episode and ends up putting her in danger. Small thing that always bothers me in this episode is when they defeat Eyghon Giles picks Jenny up and walks away from everyone else, i always watch thinking ‘shouldn’t Giles check Buffy is ok as well, plus maybes thank Angel for saving Jenny?’ 😂 then Buffy has to use her allowance to get the tattoo removed. Come on Rupert at leastgive the girl the money for that 😂. Buffy ends up reminding him it’s ok to be a person and lets him slip back into his comfortable annoyed watcher role

Helpless is a huge betrayal of trust, she’s angry for about 5 minutes and then only seems to adore him even more. She flies the flag for Team Giles for the rest of her season in all of her scenes with Wes

I think something that showed the difference in mentality between Buffy and Giles in S7 was late on in the season. Whether you think what Giles did in LMPTM was right or not it was a total betrayal of Buffy’s trust and yet does she throw him out or even ice him out of plans etc? No she doesn’t, she simply doesn’t go to him for advice anymore but doesn’t stop him supporting the potentials and she certainly doesn’t try to undermine his position with anyone other than herself. Compared to Giles who happily sits back and takes a big role in kicking Buffy out and then reassures Dawn it was the right thing to do.
 
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