Synopsis: Giles goes through a mid-life crisis as he watches his little slayer grow up. He discovers that becoming a demon can make going through a mid-life crisis that much more difficult.
Review: Season four has done a disservice to Giles. His character still has a lot of potential. A man with his knowledge of demons could be of help to the Initiative not to mention Buffy still needs his help when it comes to research, but he has been cast to the side this season in favor of flashier additions to the cast like Spike and Anya. So far this season Giles is the cavalry that always charges in too late.
Doug Petrie, a producer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, stated in an interview that the producers wanted this episode to be a Giles-centric episode since Giles really had been slighted that season. A New Man was a comical episode but ultimately inconsequential. Whereas the Xander-centric and Willow-centric episodes last season, The Zeppo and Doppelgängland, also served as identity episodes and permanently altered the characters, Giles is exactly the same old man after A New Man as he was before.
This episode marks Ethan Rayne's last appearance. It seems a disservice for one of the most creative Buffy bad guys to be dispatched so unceremoniously. I secretly harbor the hope that Ethan Rayne spun a little magic and escaped from the Initiative soon after his capture making fools of this huge government operation. Rayne continues the theme began last episode of supernatural versus science. When you are dealing with the supernatural, science will ultimately fail.
There was also some foreshadowing to Rayne's words. Then the "bad music" at the end of the episode confirmed that Professor Walsh and/or the Initiative are bad guys. This episode seemed like the calm before the storm. Every Buffy season has had an overarching story to wrap up the season. That story has yet to surface, but I have a feeling we are about to get hit hard with it. Jane Espenson, known for her dialogue, offers one of the most memorable lines of the series when Riley wonders what the plural of apocalypse is. She offers little more than funny dialogue though making this no more than a mediocre episode at 5 out of 10.
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Reviewed by: Matthew Miller)