When I was a teenager, I hated it when adults on teen-focused shows got their own episode-long narrative arcs. I hated it when they just got extra much screen time, like Angela’s dad and his stupid restaurant on My So-Called Life.
In reality, Graham Chase’s culinary dreams probably didn’t really take up that much time. (That’s a show I’ve been afraid to rewatch.) And even back then, I might reluctantly have acknowledged that storylines like that played an important role: they made adults people, and they made them fallible. In so many stories about teens, adults—parents—are perfect or useless, idealized or dead. Their selves, and their missteps, aren’t the point, so they’re irrelevant.
Joyce gets left out too often in early Buffy, which is less than ideal but also understandable from a Slayer perspective; she and Buffy have already had 16 years to try to see each other as people, and we’re picking that up mid-process. The Slayer is busy finding her Slayer footing, and looking to her Watcher for advice and guidance. And she has to come to see her Watcher as a full, flawed human—a human who’s made mistakes, and reinvented himself, and may continue to do both—as well.
Enter Ethan Rayne. Again.
Season 2, Episode 8, “The Dark Age”
Written by: Dean Batali & Rob Des Hotel
Directed by: Bruce Seth Green
Original airdate: November 10, 1997
Rewatch date: November 10, 2017
“This is what happens when you have school on Saturday.”