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What's Up With Giles

Alittlegrim

Stuck In The Middle
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#1
By which I mean his seemingly sudden and occasionally conveinent changing from an amiable, nebbish, magic dabbling Nerd to a stone cold bad-ass. I know he was Ripper before taking to tweed but this felt almost like a split personality, comforting Buffy as best he can after the death of her mother in episode 16 and then coldly suffocating Ben in episode 22. Being basically his old self, aside from the abandonment, in OMWF, after verbally abusing Willow in Bagining (he may have been right but he was still pretty harsh) and let's not even mention his conduct near the end of season 4. It was almost like he wanted Buffy to die or at least he didn't care.
 
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#2
He's a complex character. And so are many real life people (though not cinematic like Giles). Just because people are into books or can show compassion doesn't mean they can't be harsh, ruthless, or even evil at times as well.

To me, Giles doesn't become WTF to me until he leaves in season 6. The rest before that makes sense to me.
 

Alittlegrim

Stuck In The Middle
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#3
It is more than just liking books. It is his whole personality or at least how he presents himself. He always struck me as being generally mild-mannered until "Dark Age, which was presented as being a phase IMO and wouldn't explain straight-up murdering Ben at the end of Season 5. Though generally I take your point.
 
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#4
He was generally mild-mannered. Many people calm down with age, and sometimes (though not often enough) even become smarter and wiser (though they'll still make mistakes), but this doesn't render them incapable of previous types of behavior.

I understand his killing Ben. He comes from a violent background, and he was also full of adrenaline at the time which alters how one's mind is working (even survival situations in which immediate survival is not threatened, such as poverty, will cause a shift in the brain and personality), and perhaps his recently being saved from death after run through with a spear (IIRC) also had an effect (even if it was Ben who saved him). Even people who don't come from violent backgrounds can become horribly violent when survival demands it. Ideals, morality, and ethics typically take a backseat to survival. By this I mean when the body goes into survival mode, not when you watch survival shows on TV from the comfort and safety of your home (and should be kept in mind that a character's perspective would think of their decisions as having real life outcomes without the benefits of plot armor as far as they know that we, the audience, know they have).

He also made a very logical deduction that Ben left alive would likely result in Glory returning and killing them all (Glory's mission would be revenge, not getting what she wanted from them, and the Scoobies couldn't prepare as they did in the finale), and he reacted much in the same way he did when he rammed a sword through the Mayor. I expect most Watchers would've done the same, given what they show of them, though not all of them would've done so with such resolve and competence (though others would be even more likely to resort to that).
 

EarthLogic

"she went as limp as an overcooked piece of pasta"
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Black Thorn
#5
By which I mean his seemingly sudden and occasionally conveinent changing from an amiable, nebbish, magic dabbling Nerd to a stone cold bad-ass. I know he was Ripper before taking to tweed but this felt almost like a split personality, comforting Buffy as best he can after the death of her mother in episode 16 and then coldly suffocating Ben in episode 22. Being basically his old self, aside from the abandonment, in OMWF, after verbally abusing Willow in Bagining (he may have been right but he was still pretty harsh) and let's not even mention his conduct near the end of season 4. It was almost like he wanted Buffy to die or at least he didn't care.
It is more than just liking books. It is his whole personality or at least how he presents himself. He always struck me as being generally mild-mannered until "Dark Age,
When casting, Joss specifically chose Head for the part because he had a sexy dangerousness as well as the stuffy upper-class Brit demeanour, so the potential for darkness was always built-in to the character. I don't think he appeared Clark Kent-style mild-mannered so much as flustered and exasperated at being surrounded with these strange American teenagers. He's a fish out of water when he arrives in Sunnydale and initially he's mostly just trying to figure out a way of dealing with young people, whcih is obviously something he hasn't had much experience of while sequestered away in the Watcher's Academy training programme.

And in S5 the gap between comforting Giles and ruthless Giles isn't as dramatic as you imply. There are numerous occassions that season on which his more badass nature comes to the fore. Two that spring to mind are when he threatens Spike after finding out about his obsession with Buffy: 'We are not your way to Buffy. There is no way to Buffy' and when he manhandles the eavesdropping minion of Glory's. Giles is generally warm and genial but has a practical, sometimes utalitarian outlook when involved in dire situations - perhaps a combination of natural pragmatism and traits instilled from Watcher-training - and the two can coexist quiet easily in one person.
 

thetopher

Member of the Church Of Faith
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Sineya
#6
It seems like the Watcher's council's training methods border on brain-washing, not only with their slayers (see Kendra) but also with their Watchers. Watcher's who get to train slayers are supposed to act a certain way and always follow protocols in all circumstances. Watcher's and slayers have set roles/relationship that they must stick to, in the Council's ideal view.

So it's quite lucky that Buffy- a very atypical slayer- should get a Watcher with a colorful/violent enough past and a fierce protective streak that the conditioning didn't quite take as well as it could've.
But even so it took a while- up until S3 'Helpless'- for Giles to fully break free of the last vestiges of 'this is just how things are done' mentality of the WC. After that Giles understood Buffy's rebellion and even supported and encouraged it because he'd been there; he'd rebelled a bit in the past.

And Giles may have a violent streak- which emerges in S2- but he's hardly 'suddenly murderous' or anything, he's just got that stubborn 'I'll do what it takes to do my job' which is part and parcel of being a Watcher anyway, Giles just does it in a unique way.
I'm sure that's how he justifies it; Giles isn't violent by nature but he is committed to his job and will do what it takes- using everything he has including the not so nice parts of himself- to succeeding because his Watcher's training always emphasizes the enormity of what's at stake.
As he says 'I've sworn to protect this sorry world and sometimes that means saying and doing...what other people can't. What they shouldn't have to.

So that's how I see him being why the way he is.
 
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Sineya
#7
My favourite action of badass Giles was near the end of "Dead Man's Party" when he heard that Snyder was blocking Buffy's return to school:

GILES
I thought I'd start with the State
supreme court. You may be powerful
in local circles, but I believe I can
make life very uncomfortable for you.
Professionally speaking. And Buffy
Summers will be allowed back in.

A moment, then Snyder regains an appearance of superiority.

PRINCIPAL SNYDER
Sorry. I'm not convinced.

Giles puts his hand to Snyder's chest and SLAMS HIM UP AGAINST THE WALL with one violent, swift motion. He looks coldly down at the man, all Ripper.

GILES
Do you want me to convince you?

OFF SNYDER - stunned, about to backtrack massively...

We could have used more of that Giles. I like the idea of the person who is warm, kind and benevolent until the time comes to be otherwise. His smile as he said, "Do you want me to convince you?" showed that he liked being violent and if Snyder objected, Giles would have been happy to escalate the violence.
 
EarthLogic
EarthLogic
Yes! Loved this one too!

MarieVampSlayer

Slayer musk: It's bitter and aggravating!
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Sineya
#8
I don't think Giles changed at all in the middle seasons. He is the father figure and sometimes as parents you have to be caring and other time tough. He wasn't perfect and that is why I loved him. Also, it's possible that like Buffy we was happier in the earlier seasons and had less rage inside. That would explain why he seemed more middled mannered at first. But after the death of Jenny, the death of Buffy, the death of Joyce, his firing form the council, his demotivation in the watcher's job, it is possible he comes less patient and more agressive. It is a lot of this to go throught in so little years.
 

white avenger

white avenger
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#9
Giles' apparent change in personality from the beginning of Season 1 through the series is quite similar to the old Western theme about the town minister in the small frontier town. The bad guys show up, or whatever bad situations continue to escalate until he goes up into the attic, opens the dusty trunk, pulls out the pair of Colt .45's that he wore back when he was a notorious gunfighter, and goes out to fight the bad guys.

Giles had, for whatever reason, put his gunfighter (Ripper) past behind him to settle down into a respectable, useful career as a librarian in a little backwater town in a hellmouth, counting and cataloging assorted demons, and he just happened to be the right Watcher in the right place when a young Slayer loses her official Watcher. He's there, he gets drawn back into the violent world of hands on demon fighting with the death of Jenny Calendar, and Ripper takes over once more, but it is, at least, a more mature, thoughtful, if still just as dangerous and ruthless Ripper than the college student who plays at magic and sorcery (and raises a little hell, quite literally) with his friends.

(This, of course, comes from my theory that Giles was never meant to be much more than a glorified penguin counter before accidentally falling into the role of Slayer handler with the death of Merrick)
 

DeepBlueJoy

Lion Faced Kitteh
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#10
I don't think killing Ben was cold or without heart. I think it is exactly what a watcher is trained to do. I think it was necessary to stop Glory. It does not make him violent.

It is in no way inconsistent with who he has always been. This is the same person who argued for killing Dawn.

That would have been the wrong choice, IMO b/c it would have destroyed Buffy.

During some disease outbreaks, communities had to abandon people they would have liked to save in order to save the majority. The world is a hard, sometimes dangerous place & caring people must make hard choices. Up to season 5, I get Giles, flaws and all.

This doesn't explain Giles' abandonment of broke, recently dead, bereaved, PTSD from digging out of her grave - Buffy -who had a troubled child to raise too. Needing help with even one of those is not childish - most people would struggle with less! She faced it all - loss, trauma, financial devastation & friends who dragged her from heaven and expected gratitude!! (ASH's need to go home could have been handled MUCH better).

And there is no explanation for season 7 betrayal-model Giles. He of all people should have got tough, hard choices Buffy. He dumped scared, untrained girls on her, undercut her publicly and expected her to save them AND the world... With no help or support. WOW.