It's the end of the world as Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans know it, and Anthony Stewart Head feels fine. But then, why shouldn't he? Although his spinoff, Ripper, has been put on hold, the dapper Englishman is still working on his UK series, Manchild, which debuts new installments stateside in 2003. Plus, as of tonight's Buffy (airing at 8 ET on UPN), he's back in tweed for nearly a dozen episodes as the Chosen One's father figure and former Watcher, Rupert Giles. What brings him back — and what'll keep him here? Let TV Guide Online get to the bottom of the mystery.

TV Guide Online: So, it took Armageddon, but finally, Giles is home in Sunnydale — seems like a fair trade. Tell us more.
Anthony Stewart Head: There are things afoot that don't just affect Sunnydale; they are actually worldwide, which is kind of a new concept for Buffy. We've always been concerned with just what's happening around the hellmouth. It just so happens that this is more far-reaching.

TVGO: Jeepers. More far-reaching than the apocalypse that Glory threatened to set in motion during season five?
Head: Oh yeah. That was chickenfeed. That was just a god. This is deeper and darker than anything we've had to fight before — and pretty cataclysmic, really.

TVGO: That's sayin' somethin'. But I guess it could work out pretty well if this turns out to be the last season for Buffy.
Head: Definitely. It will bring the story full circle, basically. Whatever it is they decide to do, no matter how [the powers that be] spin the series, as far as our tale is concerned, it's symmetrical. Part of the storyline will take us back to season two.

TVGO: A lot of viewers would probably love that, seeing as the show has been heavily criticized for becoming so dark after Buffy's mom bought the farm and Giles hit the road. For a while there, the makeshift family unit got kind of demolished.
Head: I don't think it got demolished, I think it got stretched, and I think it was floundering a little, which was the intention, really. With Buffy's mother leaving her, it suddenly forced Buffy into a position of responsibility, which she really wasn't ready for. After Joss [Whedon, Buffy's creator] said that I could go back to England to be with my children and have a recurring role on Buffy, he then suddenly went, "Uh, actually, Buffy is having a really hard time. You should stick around." Buffy, for her own good and her own development, had to learn to be on her own. Mind you, I wouldn't have personally dreamt of throwing my children into the deep end of the swimming pool.

TVGO: Speaking of "kids," if Giles's protégé moves on and Sarah Michelle Gellar hangs up Mr. Pointy, do you think that Buffy could be reborn with a new Slayer?
Head: Yes, I think a [retooled] show can be successful because the reason it has been successful [in its original incarnation] is that it's very, very intelligently thought through. The storylines are constantly challenging, and whatever Joss does come up with, it's not going to be something like, "Oh, let's stick that in and see if that works as well." Whatever Joss has got in his head, he will have had in there for some time. So, whatever it is, it will be extremely well developed and extremely interesting.

TVGO: It's probably too soon to ask if you'd be interested in taking part in a sequel series. You must be exhausted from flying back and forth from your family to the Scooby gang.
Head: I'm privileged to be working. To be in demand is something you really don't moan about.