Buffy Character: Olivia Williams | Phina Oruche

Olivia Williams is first introduced in the very first episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Olivia was played by the actress Phina Oruche. Olivia is known as an old friend and romantic interest of Rupert Giles, the surrogate father figure and mentor of Buffy.

The first episode she appeared in was “The Freshman”. Olivia later becomes a supernatural consultant for San Francisco Police Department in the comic book series.

Olivia travels from England to visit Giles a few times during season four of the show and although their relationship is only briefly shown, it is clear that that they have a strong understanding of one another as well as feelings for each other.

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Biography

Olivia And Giles

During season four, Olivia comes to visit Giles multiple times. She travels to Sunnydale from England at least twice in the year 1999 within the show.

Her relationship with Giles is the key focus of her character, with the two of them sharing a connection that isn’t particularly elaborated on hugely on screen but is certainly suggested throughout the time that she is in the show and also expanded on in the comic book continuations.

Though her role is brief throughout, her connection to Giles is undoubtedly something that has a lot of history that is left to be untold.

The Freshman

The first episode that Olivia appears in is “The Freshman”, though she only appears briefly. Season four is the series where Giles gets some time off from mentoring and acting as a Watcher. He is basically unemployed during this time, as the characters note.

Olivia’s past is somewhat unknown but it becomes clear that she has a sexual relationship with Giles due to the way that she is introduced. When Buffy goes to visit Giles in his apartment, she discovers a half-naked woman wearing Giles’s dress shirt. This woman turns out to be none other than Olivia and she refers to him by the name “Ripper”.

This name is important to Giles as a character, having been his nickname when he was a young rebel who dabbled in matters of the occult. Interestingly, “Ripper” was set to be a television show that would have been focused on Giles, likely revisiting his youthful days when he earned this nickname.

After years of speculation and plans, the show did not come to fruition but there is still a possibility that it might become a reality one day. If this were the case, perhaps we could see the young Giles a.k.a Ripper in action alongside a young version of Olivia and get some more of her back story.

Hush

Olivia has a more prominent role in the tenth episode of series four titled “Hush”. In this episode, demons known as the Gentlemen arrive in Sunnydale to cause havoc.

In the fairytale stories that they originate from, the Gentlemen are voice stealing creatures who traveled from town to town stealing the voices of the inhabitants to then steal seven hearts from their silent victims. The Gentlemen invade Sunnydale in “Hush”, causing silence to fall over to the town.

In the episode, Olivia visits again from England to come and see Giles. She goes to his apartment and the two continue to engage in their casual, sexual relationship. Whilst the sexual element of their relationship is clear, it is also apparent that the two of them have a strong bond and a strong friendship too.

Olivia casually discusses her flight from England to the United States with Giles, joking that she had to deal with the horror of a baseball movie being the in-flight entertainment.

Giles in turn purposely has the vampire Spike put into Xander’s care to make sure that his apartment is safe for her to visit. There is a mutual relationship between them that is deeper than purely sexual intimacy.

After all, a flight from the United Kingdom to the United States isn’t exactly a short trip and it isn’t particularly cheap either! To be willing to travel all that way to see Giles is strong proof of Olivia’s attachment to him.

The night that Olivia comes to Sunnydale is the night that the big bad of this episode appears: The Gentlemen. Come nightfall, The Gentlemen go to the clock tower in Sunnydale and open a special box that absorbs all of the voices from the people in the town, including Buffy, Giles, Olivia, and the rest of the characters who appear in the episode.

Olivia’s Drawing

Olivia finds herself caught in the midst of a supernatural event as she remains at Giles’s apartment whilst the invasion of The Gentlemen is occurring, losing her voice in the process.

One night, Olivia wakes up and catches a glimpse of the Gentlemen through the window. Not only does she see The Gentlemen themselves, but she also sees The Footmen. As their name suggests, these are beings who act as footmen to The Gentlemen.

The Footmen are also demonic beings but their role is more akin to that of henchmen. They do the dirty work for The Gentlemen, fighting for them and acting as their muscle. They have a rather specific look about them, dressed up in straight jackets. Olivia’s sighting aids Giles significantly with his research surrounding The Gentlemen.

Due to everyone being without a voice, Olivia draws exactly what she saw. Her drawing- as well as the evidence of the murders that The Gentlemen are undertaking (cutting out the hearts of their victims to collect seven hearts as they do in the fairytale stories)- leads Giles to the revelation that he is looking in the wrong place for the information that he needs.

He begins researching fairy tales rather than the usual demonic tomes where he comes across the story that he needs to find out more about The Gentleman. Olivia’s accurate drawing of The Gentlemen is invaluable for Giles at this moment, even if she doesn’t quite see it yet.

Reluctance

At the end of the “Hush” episode, in the aftermath of the ordeal with The Gentlemen, Olivia talks with Giles and admits that his world of supernatural happenings and demons is too much for her. She confesses her fears to him and despite her obvious feelings for him, she tells him that she is reluctant to be a part of this world.

Olivia’s reaction is incredibly human, viewing the supernatural goings-on in Sunnydale with an understandable fear and reservation and ultimately sacrificing her relationship with Giles due to this.

A Fleeting Mention

In the sixteenth episode of season four- called “Who Are You?”- Olivia is briefly mentioned by Buffy. When Buffy jokes that Giles has become a demon, he questions her as to what she means.

One of the points that she makes in her response is that he has “a girlfriend named Olivia”, clearly making light of the ordinary nature of the fact that he has a normal girlfriend in comparison to the supernatural absurdity of his usual work.

Giles’s Dream

In the season four finale, the Scooby gang- Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Giles- meet up to watch movies and relax following the stressful events of the season. The group all fall asleep before the film even starts and the episode centers around each character’s individual dream. Olivia appears in Giles’s dream and she has a prominent role, suggesting that she is a substantial part of his life.

In his dream, Giles finds himself in Restfield Cemetery at the fairground. Olivia and Buffy are with him and they act as a family unit, with Buffy acting like a young child whilst Olivia is shown to be pregnant and pushing a stroller. Olivia scolds Giles for his behavior towards Buffy, saying that he is too stiff and harsh to her.

The dream takes a turn for the worst for Olivia when we next see her as she is shown to now be chained to the baby stroller, crying her eyes out whilst underground in what seems to be Spike’s vampire crypt.

Olivia’s appearance in Giles’s dream shows how important she must be to him, considering her on the same level as Buffy and even acting as a mother figure to Buffy with him playing the role of her father figure.

Olivia’s tears whilst being chained to a stroller and trapped in Spike’s crypt could suggest that Giles believes that Olivia would feel trapped or bogged down if she were to start a family with him.

The dream sequences in this episode are infiltrated by Sineya the first Slayer- whose spirit was angered due to the Scooby Gang trying to invoke her presence with a spell to try and fight the villainous Adam- and so the downward spirals within the dream could also be from Sineya’s interference.

However, Sineya is playing on the deepest and darkest fears of each of the group as she travels into their dreams and so Olivia’s misery is something that Giles wants to avoid at all costs.

Her tears could also relate to the reason why she didn’t pursue anything longer lasting with Giles, that being her fear of the life that he leads and the unknown, supernatural entities that he faces daily.

Giles’s dream shows that he not only still thinks about Olivia but that he also cares about her wellbeing and worries about chaining her to a life that will leave her in a constant state of fear and dread.

Although this version of her is only a vision that appears within Giles’s dream, this is the last physical appearance of Olivia as portrayed by the actress Phina Oruche.

Angel & Faith

Death And Consequences, Part Two

In the penultimate issue of the Season Eight comic book of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles is killed by a possessed Angel. In the Angel & Faith comic book series, we follow Angel as he goes about bringing Giles back to life.

Olivia is briefly mentioned in the issue Death and Consequences, Part Two. She is said to have been heartbroken and devasted whilst attending Giles’s funeral, once again cementing the bond that the two shared.

Love Dares You, Part One

In the Season Ten comic book of the Buffy series, Giles is eventually resurrected via a spell but unfortunately, he is resurrected as a twelve-year-old boy even though he has all of his memories intact.

At this point in time, Olivia has now joined the San Francisco Police Department, working in the supernatural crimes division to the previous experience that she had with the occult during her time in Sunnydale and her relationship with Giles.

Olivia meets up with the twelve-year-old Giles in the Hotel Luxe. Though he assures her that he is the same person and that he remembers everything, his instance of continuing their relationship left Olivia disheartened and disenchanted. She refuses to do so as he is a child even if his mind is older, though she agrees to be supportive of him as a friend and help him to adjust to his new life after death.

Olivia cares greatly for Giles and her continuation of their friendship and her offer of support greatly suggests that their relationship was never purely sexual but instead based on mutual trust, respect, and friendship.

Freaky Giles Day

Issue nineteen of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Ten comic book centers around Giles becoming an adult again thanks to a temporary spell by Willow. Giles immediately tracks down Olivia, who has now permanently relocated from Los Angeles to San Francisco to continue her work in the supernatural crimes division with the police there.

The two spend a romantic evening together but they also spend time together just enjoying each other’s company. Olivia remembers that Giles’s favorite drink is Glenlivet whiskey, which was shown in the show in the episode “The Yoko Factor.”

Not only does Giles immediately want to spend time with his old flame Olivia when he has the opportunity to return to his age before he was killed, which suggests just how important she must be to him. Olivia’s acceptance of him- and her remembering his favorite drink- also emphasizes the strong foundations on which their relationship is built.

Personality/Traits

Although Olivia’s appearances are brief, she displays a clear love and affection for Rupert Giles as well as kindness towards Buffy. She is also perceptive, as shown by her ability to recall the appearance of The Gentlemen and draw them out to help Giles with his research.

Despite her fear of the supernatural world in which Giles lives, she also clearly has a fascination with it as suggested by her role in the comic books as a consultant in the supernatural crimes unit in the San Francisco Police Department.

Appearance

Played by actress Phina Oruche, Olivia has short, dark brown dreadlocked hair, dark skin, brown eyes, and a slim figure. She has a natural beauty but in Giles’s dream in the episode Restless, she wears brighter and bolder makeup.

Powers/Abilities

Olivia is human and has no supernatural powers or abilities. However, her role in the comic books as a consultant within the supernatural unit division of the San Francisco PD suggests that she could have a multitude of abilities related to the investigation of supernatural crimes on top of regular police training, such as:

  • A Significant Knowledge of the Supernatural
  • The Ability to Research and Consult on the Supernatural
  • Supernatural Defence Skills
  • Special Police Training in Weapons Related to the Supernatural (e.g Knowledge of Stakes used by Buffy or the kind of magic spells wielded by Willow and what they can do etc)

Relationships

Giles

Giles is the most prominent figure that Olivia is involved with, in both the show and the comic books. Her character is pretty much central to Giles as she acts as a romantic interest and comrade to him and is introduced within the series as his old flame.

Their relationship initially seems to be one based on casual sex but it becomes clear that they have known each other a long time and share a bond much deeper than that. Olivia is frightened by the kind of life that Giles leads, leading her to back away from becoming too close to him.

Giles’s dream in the episode “Restless” suggests that he has considered settling down and starting a family with Olivia, as she is seen pregnant, pushing a stroller, and babying a child-like Buffy. She is later seen chained to said stroller and crying, though this could be a manifestation of Giles’s fear of bringing her into his occult fuelled world.

Buffy

Olivia displays kindness to Buffy, even when the first time they meet is when Olivia is dressed only in Giles’s dress shirt in his apartment.

Giles dreams of Olivia acting as a mother figure to Buffy alongside his father figure, suggesting that he considers her trustworthy enough to take care of Buffy should she need it as well as a potential partner for him. Buffy herself also jokes about Olivia being Giles’s girlfriend in a teasing way that one would do with family or friends.

Appearances

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

  • Season Four, Episode One: The Freshman
  • Season Four, Episode Two, “Hush”
  • Season Four, Episode Sixteen, “Who Are You?” (Mentioned)
  • Season Four, Episode Twenty Two, “Restless” (Shown as a vision in a dream sequence)

Angel & Faith Comic Book Series

  • Issue Seventeen: “Death and Conseiqeuces, Part Two.”

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Ten Comic Book Series

  • Issue Eleven, Love Dares You, Part One.
  • Issue Nineteen, Freaky Giles Day.

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Marianne LeBlanc
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