Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes. Warning: May contain spoilers for later episodes.
Season 3, Episode 13 “The Zeppo”
So basically, the theme of this episode is that Xander is useless. Obviously, I am HERE FOR IT.
We start off with your typical demon fight scene. You know: Faith, Giles, Buffy, Willow carrying a giant candle, fog, some blue goblin type monster, a giant sword. It’s like a scene from The Village. Willow was using a clouding spell to obscure the field for whatever reason, because they thought it was a vampire nest, not a nest of blue goblins. As usual, Xander emerges at the end, having been out cold the whole time. This time, Buffy finally suggests that maybe he stay out of the fray next time, but Xander claims that he helped by letting the demon pummel him for awhile. I say, keep Xander around for every fight! Let him get pummeled as much as he wants.
Anyway, Xander realizes, thanks to a little gratuitous meanness from Cordelia, that he’s the “Zeppo”: the useless one of the group. (Such is the glorious innocence of male privilege that he really doesn’t seem to have entirely grasped that until now.) He’s being sent on donut runs while the rest of them are saving the world… and when he does offer to help, everyone is more worried about keeping him out of danger than accepting his help. Probably because keeping him out of danger also means keeping themselves free of whatever bad decisions he gums up the works with.
Anyway, so the episode has two Monsters of the Week: the one that Xander ends up fighting all by his lonesome, and the one that the others are focused on, for which they as usual do not need Xander’s help.
In what would normally be the A-plot MOTW, Giles figures out that the blue demons are from the Sisterhood of Jhe and they’re here to bring about the end of the world. They intend to open the Hellmouth that opens into the middle of the library. Meanwhile, Oz is locked away for his monthly werewolf nights. In the middle of the library. Uh-oh.
But it’s Xander whose perspective is telling this story, which means that the other monster is the A-plot. This involves a leather-jacket-wearing kid named O’Toole who seems to be your regular high-school bully… at first. Xander’s humiliation at his hands, followed by Cordelia pointing out with her trademark combination of perspicacity and sheer rudeness that he’s useless, is what leads to his realization that he’s the Zeppo.
In classic Xander fashion, this leads to soul-searching–not something deep or meaningful like “What talents do I have that could be useful to others?” but “How can I be cool?” Eventually, he is reduced to asking Oz what it means to be cool and why he doesn’t have it. Oh boy. At first, since Oz clearly is cool, Xander decides he needs to learn an instrument and be in a band. Luckily he abandons that, because honestly, if he learned guitar I probably would be attracted to him, which would be terrible. Instead, he chooses the least attractive way to be cool: a dumb Cool Guy car that makes him look like an ass. Whew. Now I am assured of my ability to continue finding him repulsive.
Anyway, Cordelia thinks this is as silly as I do. But she’s left gobsmacked when a gorgeous blonde girl hops right into the car with Xander after a couple minutes of conversation–although what Cordy can’t hear is that the girl has completely outshone Xander with her car knowledge in the space of five seconds. While driving her around, Xander has a fender bender with O’Toole, who pulls out the world’s tiniest (but still deadly) sword and threatens Xander with it. When Xander (clearly out of fear) doesn’t narc on O’Toole, he invites Xander and Car Girl along to fetch his friends for a night out on the town. Hooray, Xander is cool! But wait: it turns out O’Toole’s friends are actually buried underground in the graveyard, and he’s resurrecting them. Also, O’Toole himself is dead. Yikes. Xander’s friend turns and runs screaming, which Xander doesn’t have the sense to do.
While out on this terrifying mission, Xander continually runs into his friends as they go about their plan to save the world from the other MOTW. But, perhaps because (say it with me now) he’s useless, he fails to alert them that he’s been kidnapped by a dead man. He does, however, eventually escape them in his dumb car after the dead guy gang offers to initiate Xander into the gang… via killing him. Dang, I was kinda excited to see that.
Then he sees Faith struggling with one of the blue demons and runs it over so she can hop in. Aw, yay! BUT WAIT. When they get back to Faith’s motel room it turns out Faith’s shoulder is dislocated, so she casually uses Xander as a prop to relocate it. Then she… [copying verbatim from my real-time notes here:] HITS ON HIM?! WHAT?!?! THEN THEY HAVE SEX?!?! WHAAATTT?!?! Let me just say that that was not included in any fanvideos. For good reason. GROSS. Also now I feel Xander is going to learn so the wrong lesson about whether that car makes him look cool.
After that horrifying little interlude, Xander realizes that Jack and his gang are actually making bombs. He finds the dead guy gang wandering down the street and at first seems successful: he grabs one dead guy arm and drags him along until he tells him where the bomb is. Unfortunately, he accidentally knocks the guy’s head off before he can ask the next question.
Xander runs to the school, where the bomb is — and where his friends just happen to be fighting the sisterhood demon one floor up. It has three heads and is pretty scary. Meanwhile, Xander squishes one of the dead guys with a vending machine. Ouch. He finds and tries to disarm the bomb, but he has to fight off O’Toole. Finally he tells O’Toole they’re both going to die since he can’t get out of here in a few seconds. He claims he has less fear than O’Toole, which was the key to being cool all along. Finally O’Toole gives up and pulls out the wire. But then he gets eaten by Oz! Whoa, dark.
Meanwhile, the rest of the gang closes the hellmouth and defeats the three-headed demon, but that’s not very important. When they see Xander the next day, they condescendingly tell him that he missed a lot–and he doesn’t tell them a thing about what he did to save them at the same time. But he feels cool enough to take Cordelia’s ribbing with a smile. Oh, those two! I wish they’d get back together. And I never want to think about Faith and Xander banging again. So anyway, the episode has a happy ending, in that Xander manages to be cool THIS ONE TIME. I doubt it will last.
Notes from a New Fan:
- Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “You’re fired.” End of previouslies. Hee! Short and to the point.
- Heh, I love the running joke that Xander is knocked out somewhere for every big fight.
- Buffy has her hair crimped!! Love it.
- In case you forgot that Faith sometimes has a weird accent that is supposedly “Boston,” she remarks that “These babes were wicked rowdy.”
- Xander knocks over a Bad Boy’s lunch while trying to interlope on a catch game between a couple of people who are visibly more popular than he is. The Bad Boy does not take this kindly. I mean… would you?
- I get the sense that O’Toole, the Bad Boy, is the Zeppo… or its first victim. I think I’m getting the hang of this show! [ETA five minutes later: OK, apparently the Zeppo is something useless and uncool, like Xander. Not a demon. Fine, I was wrong.]
- Aww, Cordelia and Xander make the same joke about Xander being Jimmy Olsen! No idea who that is, but still, cute!
- They’ve got a privacy blanket for Oz on the book cage now. That’s a nice little touch.
- Xander is so bored by Car Expert Lady that he leaps happily up when he sees Angel. Wow. I didn’t know Xander listened enough to pretty girls to even be bored by them.
- Angel shows up to the Bronze looking for Buffy to warn her about the demons and, when Xander tries to go along with him, advises him coolly that it’s best for him to stay out of harm’s way. Heh. No car in the world can make Xander as tough as Angel.
- Why is Buffy wearing her knee-length fur-collared wool coat inside the library? That looks horribly uncomfortable.
- Poor Giles! Buffy ate all his jelly doughnuts!
- At some point, Giles goes and has a conversation in Latin with some clouds that live outside a crypt. Yeah, I don’t know.
- Xander and Giles run into each other, but Xander does a terrible job of asking for help with the fact that he’s been either kidnapped or befriended by O’Toole and his three dead friends.
- The bartender gets beaten up by the demons and advises Buffy to take Angel somewhere quiet for her last night on earth. Saucy!
- Xander sees Willow and AGAIN fails to ask for help. But she does hug him and say she loves him before running off to help Buffy. Ew, Willow! Gross!
- Willow and Giles have to tranq Oz to move him away from the Hellmouth, and they do that by opening the cage and letting him out and then shooting him. They couldn’t do that through the book cage? Maybe it’s not sporting enough?
- Xander interrupts Buffy and Angel in the middle of a passionate fight and once again fails to tell them the problem. What a dummy.
- Angel says of the Sisterhood Demon, “This is worse than anything we’ve ever faced,” like, I dunno if that’s true? It just doesn’t seem as bad as some of the other stuff, TBH.
- Giles and Willow try to cast a spell in the middle of the library. But the Dead Guy Gang is apparently also planning to blow up the school. Luckily they give it a full hour before it’s gonna go off, which gives Xander at least some time.
- The dead guys are VERY impressed by the three-headed demon. Heh. Why do they split up looking for Xander though? Wouldn’t they know he’s on his way to where the bomb is? Silly-billies.
- They don’t really show how the Hellmouth closes, do they? I’m kinda confused. But… whatever. This wasn’t that exciting a demon.
- It’s kind of a weird choice to have Buffy and Angel have that intense fight over who sacrifices themselves to the three-headed demon, complete with inappropriate declarations of love, in an episode that is from Xander’s POV–there’s little emotional impact to that scene. And while I wouldn’t personally care much about this scene either way, it’s a funny choice since we’re still supposed to be caring about Buffy and Angel.
Notes from a True Stan:
- Faith! We missed you.
- Someone says they should burn the demon bodies, and Willow says she “brought marshmallows!” Then, when everyone stares at her, she says, “Sometimes, I’m callous and strange.” Hee! What a weird joke.
- Ugh, I hate that there’s a whole episode about Xander whining about how useless he is. At least no one else seems to care about his woes either.
- Cordelia to Xander: “Of all the humiliations you’ve had that I’ve witnessed, that was the latest.” Savage.
- That’s what a Zeppo is? It’s one of the Marx brothers? I never cared enough about this episode to look it up before.
- Xander is having an identity crisis so he–buys a car. It’s like a mid-life crisis, except instead of a shiny red convertible, he buys one that’s pale blue and hideous.
- I love how melodramatic Angel seems from Xander’s perspective. “I’ve seen portents!”
- Why is this car groupie girl insisting on “going on a ride” while Xander’s being held at knifepoint? Has any woman ever behaved like this?
- I mean… I know Giles is distracted, but I feel like if Xander had just said “There are zombies right over there,” he would have listened for a few minutes.
- The “hungry and horny” joke came back! In the worst possible way…
- Ew, no. Don’t do it, Faith!
- “That was great–I’ve got to shower.” Ha! Love her.
- I’m always surprised that Xander and Cordelia never had sex. Didn’t they date for like, a year? Longer than Willow and Oz, technically.
- OMG the Buffy and Angel fight scene is amazing. The A plot of this episode is sort of boring by design, but this meta-joke about Bangel’s endless drama makes it all worth it.
- Did the squiggly demon get smaller? It looks smaller.
Season 3, Episode 14 “Bad Girls”
We open on another classic fan video scene–Buffy and Faith getting pinned down by demons right next to each other and talking about sex. Faith asks Buffy, mid-fight, whether she and Xander have ever done it, and is super incredulous when she says no. “All this time, and not even once?” How can Faith be so surprised by this? He couldn’t possibly have been good in bed.
Anyway, the vampires they’re fighting are carrying swords of varying lengths, which apparently means they’re part of some near-extinct ancient death cult. But it’s not Giles who tells them this, it’s the new Watcher (Wesley!), who’s basically just a younger, prettier version of Giles–like the Council went and got themselves a second wife. He’s aggressively nerdy, British, and smug. “I have, in fact, faced two vampires myself,” he brags, Britishly. Oh, Wesley. Buffy and Giles both react to him with unveiled disdain, while Faith walks in, sees him, and walks out. Aw! She blind-dated him!
Buffy tries to get Faith to come back, but Faith is just like “Fuck that” (in WB words). She says she and Buffy have all the power, so they can “do whatever [they] want.” Buffy shrugs and tries to portray it as a job, but Faith insists that they both do it because it’s fun, because they get off on the power. And when I say “get off,” I mean she’s saying all this in the MOST sexual way possible. She says things like “You can’t tell me killing vamps doesn’t get you all juiced up” or that eventually Buffy will be “itching” for more. And then Buffy looks all guilty and flirty! How could this not be intentional queerbaiting?
Buffy finds this crypt where the ancient cult is keeping a special amulet, but before she can get it, a bunch of cult-y vampires walk in, she hides, and they take the amulet with them. Faith arrives and has the brilliant idea to jump down a manhole to follow them, even though they’re badly outnumbered and there could be more. Faith, bless her, just shrugs at Buffy’s objections and is like, “If you don’t come in after me, I might die!” So Buffy jumps in after her.
As Buffy predicted, there are lots more cult-y vampires where that came from. The two-Slayer fight that ensues is pretty awesome–they’re both totally on their game–but they’re so outnumbered that one of them still manages to try to drown Buffy for a few minutes. She goes limp, and we know she’s not dead (it’s not even a season finale!), but it’s still cool when she springs up, says, “I hate when they try to drown me,” and finishes them off. They get the amulet, and you think Buffy’s going to be mad at Faith for nearly getting her killed. But instead, Faith asks her breathlessly, “Tell me you don’t get off on this” (again with the sexual language), and Buffy smirks and replies, “Didn’t suck.”
After Buffy gets a little taste of reckless rebellion, she sort of channels Bad-Buffy from “When She Was Bad,” but a less bratty version. She relentlessly talks to Xander and Willow about how amazing the near-death experience was, and how she “let go and became this force”–when they’re trying to take a test, no less. And then Faith asks if she can come out to play, and she just blows off the test and runs off to slay a vampire nest. She does a sexy dance with Faith and a couple of boys at the Bronze, and then blithely jumps into Angel’s arms when he sees and gets all moody. (Are they together or not??) Wesley arrives, also not pleased about how Buffy’s spending her time, and Buffy gives the amulet to Angel for safekeeping.
Then we cut to the monster of the week, and–okay, usually I don’t like when they give away the monster ahead of time rather than letting us discover them with the characters, but the visual humor of cutting to this truly disgusting MOW is priceless. It’s a giant blob with rolls of pink, tender skin–like if Jabba the Hut had all of his skin burned off. He’s sitting in a vat of liquid, and has vampires pouring water over his body so he’s perpetually moist, and then moans erotically while they do it. And there are nipples–it’s all gross.
Anyway, Lord Balthazar (yes, that’s his name) is the leader of this ancient vampire cult we’ve never heard about before, and he’s very angry that the amulet is lost. He’s also very angry at the Mayor, who is apparently the one who “crippled” him. He sends his right-hand man to the Mayor’s office, but his strategy is pretty weaksauce–he just sort of bursts out of the cupboard, sword in hand, and then talks about his allegiance to Lord Balthazar long enough that Mr. Trick has a chance to punch him out. These villains would all have much better success rates if they just didn’t feel the need to talk.
While on patrol, Buffy and Faith come across this cult–and tub of Balthazar–and decide they need more “firepower.” So Faith, naturally, suggests that they rob a weapons store that just happens to be right across the street. Buffy is a passive onlooker at first, and sort of frets about it, but then Faith reassures her with a thesis statement: “Life as a Slayer is very simple. Want, take, have.” Buffy is seduced by this for a hot second, and steals a tiny little knife that can’t possibly help them very much against Lord Jabba. Then the police come in and bust them, because, um, this was a really stupid idea and they weren’t being sneaky at all. Buffy is immediately chastened, while Faith laughs and makes inappropriate sexual jokes. She’s the best.
In the police car, Faith whispers to Buffy that they “can’t save the world in jail,” and convinces her to kick the officers in the head while they’re driving and make a break for it. (Well, that was easy! Girl should start her own cult.) The officers crash the car, and the girls escape. The cops are hurt, but alive, and it doesn’t even make the paper the next morning. Which, really? Two teenage girls try to steal a freaking arsenal, crash a police car, and escape from handcuffs, and it doesn’t even warrant one headline? I guess in Sunnydale, if no one died horribly in supernatural circumstances, it’s not really news.
The next night, Buffy goes patrolling again with Faith, who actually had the nerve to go back and get the fancy weapons they were trying to steal. (So dumb!) On their way to Balthazar, they’re beset with vamp after vamp, and in the frenzy of killing, Buffy pushes a guy against the wall, and Faith stakes him before she realizes it’s a human, namely the deputy mayor. Faith keeps repeating, “I didn’t know, I didn’t know,” while Buffy tries to stop the bleeding, but then the telltale blood-trickle-of-death comes out of the corner of his mouth. Oh shit. The man dies, and Faith tells a horrified Buffy that they have to go. Later, Faith doubles back to look at the body, and seems appropriately disturbed, if not heartbroken.
Meanwhile, Balthazar has captured Giles and Wesley, hoping they’ll tell him where the amulet is. Giles, who’s been in life-and-death situations so many times before, takes this all in stride, but Wesley, who was just criticizing Giles’ “methods,” immediately crumbles under the pressure and tells Lord Jabba everything he knows. Luckily, he knows almost nothing, including the name of the “friend” Buffy gave the amulet to. It’s all moot anyway, because Angel and Buffy come to save them. They get the upper hand over the vampires, and Giles even gets a few kills in (Wesley is completely helpless, which will conveniently motivate him to keep Giles around in the future). Lord Jabba gets upset that they’re losing, so he uses telekinetic powers to grab Angel and try to twist his head off. Buffy sees that Angel is in trouble, as per usual, so she drops a–light? Something electronic?–into Jabba’s vat of liquid, and he gets electrified. It’s bloody and gross. Right before he dies, he says ominously, “When he rises, you’ll wish I killed you all.”
He means the Mayor, of course, who is currently busy chanting some Latin. Never a good sign. He finishes the spell, and then instructs Mr. Trick to release the culty vamp they’re keeping in a cage–the one who tried to kill him earlier in the episode. The vamp tries to kill him again–this time without talking–and manages to cut his whole head in half. But then after a moment, the two halves rebound and sew themselves back together. They dust the vamp, and the Mayor checks “become invincible” off his checklist, which also includes “meeting with PTA” and “haircut.” Uh, oh.
Later, Buffy does the customary go-to-Faith’s-motel-room-to-gently-scold-her thing for the millionth time this season, this time about the dead man. As usual, she’s wearing an especially posh outfit and light makeup, in case we didn’t know that she’s “the good one.” (Does her hair get blonder when she scolds Faith or is it my imagination?) She tries to get Faith to talk about what happened, but Faith isn’t having any of it. “I was doing my job,” she says. “Being a Slayer isn’t the same as being a killer,” Buffy shoots back. A little self-righteous, but true. Buffy says they have to face what they’ve done because the police will eventually find the body, but Faith says that she went back and dumped it. Buffy gets a horrified look on her face, which she will perfect over the next couple of episodes, and says, “Faith, you don’t get it. You killed a man.” Faith responds, “No, you don’t get it, I don’t care.” Buffy continues to look horrified.
Notes from a New Fan:
- I love that Faith is surprised Buffy has never boinked Xander. Um… have you MET Xander?
- Watching from the middle of a pandemic, I was just struck dumb with jealousy over the fact that the Mayor apparently has a closet full of sanitary wipes. Lucky bastard.
- I keep getting bored at the end of this Mayor scene and miss them describing what their evil plan is. Should I try a third time? Meh, I think I’ll skip it.
- Aww, Xander and Cordy banter again. Why can’t we get more of those two? Why did the Willow + Xander travesty ruin everything?
- Why are all Watchers British?
- The sword vampires are called “El Eliminati.” I see what they did there.
- I dunno, sometimes these other Watchers do make Giles look kind of… bad? Like, Wesley knows El Eliminati right off the top of his head.
- For some reason Buffy objects to Wesley being a dork, but like… has she met Giles?
- Faith tells Buffy if she’s not enjoying slaying, she’s doing something wrong. Buffy is like, “I hate fun. Have I told you recently about my boyfriend who’s a vampire who lost his soul and now we can’t be together ever again?”
- Buffy tells Faith that 6 against 2 is not unlike 3 against 1. Hey, she’s not so bad at math!
- Ew, Wesley calls Buffy “our girl.” Gross.
- Xander’s eye twitches whenever Buffy says Faith’s name. Ew, do you think it is like a sex thing?
- So Faith just comes right up, draws a heart on the window, and Buffy comes running in the middle of her chem test. That’s so cute! I see why everyone was writing fanfiction about these two.
- Ah, and then they dance. This was a big deal in the fanvideos, lol. Angel looks jealous. Maybe that’s because every time he and Buffy dance, one of them is probably crying.
- Wait, Angel just kisses Buffy good-bye like he’s smooching his wife before going off to work. So are they like, back together? I’m so confused!
- Balthasar’s fat pooch is way too… textured. I dislike it.
- I love Buffy and Faith raiding the weaponry. It’s nice to see Buffy having some fun once in awhile. And, uh, notice this fun is NOT occurring with Angel.
- I feel like the theme of this episode is that Faith is a Bad Girl (I mean, it’s right there in the title) but there’s nothing bad exactly about accidentally slaying someone you fully believe is a vampire. I mean it makes sense to be upset, but it’s like being upset if you run over someone who dashed out into the road with no warning. It’s horrible and makes you feel guilty, but objectively, it’s not your fault. It’s not like she actually is “a killer,” as Buffy says. Right?
- I would say this fat moist worm guy is my least favorite villain of the show, but there have also been several that were giant bugs, so… I guess he’s top three?
Notes from a True Stan:
- As much as I hate Xander, I do love this classic comeback: “I’m not gonna waste the perfect comeback on you now, but just wait. Its time will come.”
- I love when Wesley leans in to close-talk and both Giles and Buffy lean back in tandem. So much contempt.
- Also, Alexis Denisof’s British accent is so good! I always forget he’s American.
- It is kind of funny that Buffy’s SO resentful of Wesley, when Giles was basically just as pushy in the beginning (remember the close talking in the pilot?).
- And we get a nice little callback to old, stuffy Giles when Wesley reads his Watcher diaries: “The Slayer is willful and insolent. Her abuse of the English language is such that I understand only every other sentence.” Hee!
- I think the powers-that-be really like this Buffy/Faith dancing scene. This aggressive club music played over and over again on the home page of my season three DVDs.
- Does Balthazar… have a vagina? [No I think this is actually just a particularly deep fat roll. Let’s not think too hard about it. –Nerdy Spice]
- I love that after all that, Faith doesn’t even end up using the fancy weapons.
- I’m also obsessed with Lord Balthazar’s scenery-chewing delivery of “A trade… intriguing… No, wait, boring–pull off his kneecaps!” Hee.
- The CGI effect for the Mayor’s head-healing is so bad. So very bad.
Season 3, Episode 15 “Consequences”
OK, so… I didn’t really vibe with this episode, I’ll be honest. I mean there’s a lot of great stuff in it–how could there not be, with Faith at the center of it?–but the overall premise just doesn’t sit right with me. It feels both overwritten and also kind of underdeveloped; everyone freaks out about saving Faith when she just doesn’t seem to me to be doing anything that bad, and then she only starts saying really shocking things when she’s pushed to it by Buffy’s self-righteousness.
Anyway, so as you’ll recall, Faith killed a human TOTALLY BY ACCIDENT because she LEGITIMATELY THOUGHT he was a vampire. This is going to be completely ignored during much of the histrionics that follow; hence, my need for all-caps.
So, Faith may not care that she killed someone, but Buffy’s having dreams where the dead man is trying to drown her and Faith pushes her head underwater. And just in case you didn’t get that she’s the innocent one, she’s wearing the cutest, most childish pajamas ever: a matching flannel set with little sheep printed on it.
Naturally, though Faith thought she was in the clear, the body of the deputy mayor is indeed found, and Wesley wants Faith and Buffy to look into the murder. Buffy tries to get out of it, but Faith is cool as a cucumber. Giles agrees with Buffy (although he does not share her incredibly suspicious combo of shifty eyes and nervous stammering) but, since he’s all fired and everything, Wesley overrules him. Then Cordelia comes in to ask for a book on Freud and Jung, as if this library has anything remotely related to real life in it, and Wesley FULL-ON LEERS AT HER even though he is a grown man. Ugh, gross! I hate this! This is so inappropriate! It does turn out that he didn’t realize she was a student, but whatever is brewing here, it’s still gross.
Faith is pissed that Buffy wants to rat her out, and feigns bravado by making fun of the guy for being boring as they investigate his office, but it’s clearly a facade: “He came out of nowhere,” she murmurs softly at one point. Buffy doesn’t seem to realize how much her tough-girl attitude is just covering up her guilt. I guess Buffy is more of a one-layer girl. Even Faith realizes this: “It doesn’t matter what kind of vibe you get off a person, because nine times out of ten, the face they’re showing you is not the real one.” She’s talking about the deputy, whose involvement with Mr. Trick they discover while searching his office. Buffy accuses Faith of hiding her real feelings about this. Faith argues that they’re still overall positive for the world, given how many lives they’ve saved. And that this guy just got caught in the cross-fire.
Faith is obviously being too callous here, but Buffy responds with–for lack of a less sexist word–hysteria, responding to straw man arguments instead of what Faith is actually saying. She keeps saying that that doesn’t mean they can “do whatever they want,” like, I don’t think Faith was saying that? And then she says that just because they’ve saved lives doesn’t mean they can sit in judgment on others, which… I feel like that should be Faith’s line, since Buffy’s really the one sitting in judgment here, but OK.
The mayor is upset, or at least selfishly bothered, by the death of the deputy, but then Mr. Trick finds the autopsy report and deduces that the Slayers must have done it: there is a stab wound to the chest and wooden splinters. This makes the mayor feel a lot better. Buffy arrives home to find a police officer waiting to interrogate her. Faith, same thing at her motel. They claim to have been watching movies together. Faith, told about the wooden stake, sasses that the killer must not have been “hip to the bronze age.”
Freaked by the interrogation, Buffy heads to Willow’s, but before she can confess, Willow launches into a very Willow-like rant about how she totally understands why Buffy likes Faith so much but that she feels a wee bit left out. Buffy bursts into tears and Willow totally thinks that her ultra-mild rant was the cause of it, which is adorable. But finally Buffy tells her what’s going on, and that she’s afraid the police officer knows she was lying. Willow advises her to go to Giles. But when Buffy arrives, Faith is already there–and has “confessed” that Buffy stabbed the man. Ooh!! That is devious. As soon as Buffy gets into Giles’ office though, Giles says morosely that he knows it was Faith. “She may have many talents, but fortunately lying is not one of them.” He just pretended to believe her to protect Buffy in case Faith was going to take the lie further. Ooh! Giles is devious, too! A little touch of the old sinner Giles used to be.
The gang, having decided that Faith is a Poor Sinner who needs a Group Intervention so she understands that Killing is Wrong, discuss how to help her. It’s all very Seventh Heaven. Xander volunteers to talk to her, which leads to everyone eventually figuring out, to their mild disgust (and Willow’s deep hurt) that they slept together. So he goes to the motel, and they have a bizarre conversation about how Xander won’t try to sexually assault her because his biceps are like “a wet noodle” compared to her Slayer strength. I mean… so… would he try it if she weren’t a Slayer? I’m so confused about this bit. And, as usual, grossed out. But it gets worse: Faith knocks him down and tries to overpower him, which is extremely upsetting.
Angel spends much of the episode lurking in the shadows while all this goes on, which seems likely to make him the primary suspect since he does it in full view of the police officers, but does become convenient at the exact moment Faith is about to kill Xander, since Angel busts in and saves his ass. Next thing you know, Buffy and Angel have TIED FAITH UP in his mansion so that they can, I don’t know, starve her into agreeing with them that violence is wrong? There is so much that’s ludicrous about this, I can’t even start typing about it because this post is already way too long. Anyway, Angel tries to bond with Faith because he thinks they both have the Evil inside them or something. He tells Faith that people aren’t so bad and she doesn’t have to “disappear into the darkness.” For Christ’s sake, she accidentally killed one human thinking he was a vampire! And he was someone she was probably gonna have to kill anyway, at some point, let’s be serious! This all just makes no sense to me.
Unfortunately, Wesley has overheard everything and called the Council. They arrive, free Faith from Angel’s clutches–and then take Faith away to be judged and possibly “locked up” by the Council. They’re seriously going to lock her up for killing someone she thought was a vampire? The Council… kind of sucks. Obviously, though, Faith escapes.
Buffy (wearing a fabulous leopard-print coat) goes hunting for Faith and finds her at the docks. Faith says she doesn’t want to change to be more like Miss Goody Two-Shoes. She’s wearing leather pants and platforms so you know she’s a Bad Girl. Finally she says, “We don’t need the law. We are the law.” OK, that is dark, but I kind of feel like Buffy pushed her into it. She insists that Buffy’s just mad because she’s tempted to live like Faith. So Buffy pops her one in the face. Heh. Then a crate falls on Buffy, leaving Faith alone when a bunch of vampires descend on her. They fight, etc. etc., and finally Buffy frees herself only to be overpowered by Mr. Trick. He is about to eat Buffy but he stops to brag that “Once you’ve tasted a Slayer you never want to go back.” Don’t these guys ever learn? Naturally this gives Faith just enough time to stake him and save Buffy, proving that she has some good in her, even to the judgmental “friends” who KIDNAPPED HER to tell her she was a shitty person.
But there’s still a little evil in there too, apparently. Because in the end, Faith goes to find the evil mayor with his enviable stockpile of sanitization supplies… and asks if he has a job opening. Twist! (Wikipedia averred that this episode sucked because everyone saw the twist coming. This made me feel dumb because I definitely didn’t!)
Notes from a New Fan:
- Ew, did Wesley just wipe the sweat off his upper lip with a handkerchief after talking to Cordelia? That’s the most British way to be a total perv, I guess.
- Faith pulls Buffy aside and accuses her of wanting to rat her out. Whereas she was totally willing to lie for Angel. Buffy tries to put a moralistic spin on it, but… yeah. It’s true.
- And where Faith is jealous of Angel, Willow is jealous of Faith and Buffy’s new bond. Aww.
- The police investigate the murder, including the blood on the dumpster where Faith stabbed the guy. Angel stands about ten yards away, lurking in the shadows. Yeah… that’s not gonna make you look like the murderer or anything.
- When the police officer leaves Faith’s motel, Angel is standing there lurking again. Angel, you are gonna get yourself ARRESTED. Jeez.
- Giles says exactly what I’ve been saying all along: that the girls are on the front line of a war and that accidents happen. But that Faith is in denial about it.
- The camera moves away from Buffy and Giles in a way that clearly indicates someone is going to be revealed lurking in the next room. I totally thought it was going to be Angel, given that that appears to be all he’s done for the last week. But it’s Wesley.
- Wesley refuses to spell the code word in order to be connected to someone named Quentin Travers, who I have to assume is a Watcher based on his extremely British name. He says he doesn’t have time to spell it because it’s an emergency. Whoever lets him through after that is really bad at infosec.
- Xander volunteers way too eagerly to talk to Faith. Ew. I’d almost managed to forget that they banged. Gross.
- Poor Willow. Buffy thinks Faith is cooler than her, and now her longtime crush has slept with Faith!
- Buffy explains gently that the guys Faith sleeps with are a joke to her, and Xander has the nerve to take offense, like he isn’t the king of the madonna-whore complex himself.
- I judge Willow for being upset about Xander sleeping with someone else when she is back with the adorable, perfect boyfriend she cheated on with Xander. But I also judge her a little for crying in the girls’ room with the door OPEN, like… maybe… lock it?!
- Then Faith almost rapes Xander, and then almost chokes him to death. Whoa. Luckily, Angel has been lurking. Again. So he comes in and bonks Faith over the head and ties her up in his haunted mansion. I bet Xander is thrilled to owe Angel his life again.
- Faith on kink: “Safety words are for wusses.” Heh.
- For some reason Angel thinks that now Faith is going to be, like, a killing addict. Because that’s how he felt when he killed people. But like… Faith isn’t a vampire, so, not sure that follows?
- Angel says that talking to Faith is like talking to a wall. Funny, I bet the actresses both say that about their scenes with David Boreanaz.
- Wesley rescues Faith from Angel’s handcuffs just so he can cuff her himself and bring her to England to have the Council sit in judgment on her.
- “Unlock these or I’ll pop this guy’s head like a grape,” Faith says. Hee! So evocative.
- Willow thinks maybe Faith belongs behind bars. Buffy insists that she was about to open up, which does tend to happen when you chain someone up for a long time.
- Buffy and Angel are kind of mean to Wesley about “letting” Faith escape. Buffy accuses him of “destroying” her. For once Giles is the adult in the room, telling Buffy softly, “That’s enough.”
Notes from a True Stan:
- Ah, the drowning nightmare. Such a subtle way to indicate that a character is, well, drowning.
- I like that for all Faith tries to portray herself as this bad-ass killer, she’s clearly in over her head. After she confidently says that “the body doesn’t exist,” they find it in like two minutes.
- Ew, I hate when Wesley hits on Cordelia. He calls her “cheeky”! Perv.
- It is funny that he mistakes her for a teacher, though, since Charisma Carpenter was almost thirty when this aired.
- The Mayor tries to use the shredder to drown his sorrows: “Usually, using the shredder gives me a lift. It’s fun.” LOL.
- It’s so weird when Faith and Buffy discover that the Mayor is bad. The audience has known for so long, it’s kind of like, “Where have you been?”
- Doesn’t Joyce get suspicious when the detective says the murder weapon was a stake? I guess that’s asking for too much. [That would require Joyce to make connections or have logical thoughts, which is not her strength. –Nerdy Spice]
- I remember when I first saw this, I was so viscerally relieved when Buffy finally told Willow. That’s what best friends are for!
- I love that Giles provides a dose of rationality to this whole thing. When I first saw this episode, I thought that Buffy was being positioned as “right” in this debate, and Faith “wrong,” but really, both of them are just kids, and seeing this whole thing from a very teenaged perspective.
- Oh, Xander. He hasn’t spoken to Faith since they had sex, but he still thinks they had a special “connection” and that he “knows” her better than anyone else. It would be cute if it weren’t so presumptuous and Xander-like. [Especially given that in their very first conversation, which I guarantee you he remembers word for word because he’s been wanking to it ever since, Faith told him that she just gets horny after a fight. –Nerdy Spice]
- Um, but the almost-rape/murder scene is terrifying. Poor Xander!
- The friend chemistry between Angel and Faith is something I never would have predicted, but I am here for it.
- The Council defeats Angel with a single punch and a net that’s not even tied tightly. Get it together, Angel!
- Why is Willow talking like she’s always hated and resented Faith? She loved her before like, the previous episode.
- Ah yes, I love when Faith goads Buffy about how she’s “got the lust” and probably “digged [Angel] after he went psycho.” Sometimes it feels like the show is drawing a clear line between Faith, the “bad girl,” and Buffy, the “good girl,” which I hate, because it’s sexist and Buffy has always had a rebellious streak. But then the show goes out of its way to remind us, maybe too explicitly, that Buffy and Faith are just as similar as they are different.
- I recently learned that Faith was only booked for a six-episode arc, and was originally supposed to commit suicide at the end of this episode. I’m so, so glad they didn’t go that way. Think of all the fun we would have missed!