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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S03E15 “Consequences”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone is suffering from extreme vertigo, so please bear with her. She will also recap every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer with an eye to the following themes:

  1. Sex is the real villain of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer universe.
  2. Giles is totally in love with Buffy.
  3. Joyce is a fucking terrible parent.
  4. Willow’s magic is utterly useless (this one won’t be an issue until season 2, when she gets a chance to become a witch)
  5. Xander is a textbook Nice Guy.
  6. The show isn’t as feminist as people claim.
  7. All the monsters look like wieners.
  8. If ambivalence to possible danger were an Olympic sport, Team Sunnydale would take the gold.
  9. Angel is a dick.
  10. Harmony is the strongest female character on the show.
  11. Team sports are portrayed in an extremely negative light.
  12. Some of this shit is racist as fuck.
  13. Science and technology are not to be trusted.
  14. Mental illness is stigmatized.
  15. Only Willow can use a computer.
  16. Buffy’s strength is flexible at the plot’s convenience.
  17. Cheap laughs and desperate grabs at plot plausibility are made through Xenophobia.
  18. Oz is the Anti-Xander
  19. Spike is capable of love despite his lack of soul
  20. Don’t freaking tell me the vampires don’t need to breathe because they’re constantly out of frickin’ breath.
  21. The foreshadowing on this show is freaking amazing.
  22. Smoking is evil.
  23. Despite praise for its positive portrayal of non-straight sexualities, some of this shit is homophobic as fuck.
  24. How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?
  25. Technology is used inconsistently as per its convenience in the script.
  26. Sunnydale residents are no longer shocked by supernatural attacks.
  27. Casual rape dismissal/victim blaming a-go-go
  28. Snyder believes Buffy is a demon or other evil entity.
  29. The Scoobies kind of help turn Jonathan into a bad guy.
  30. This show caters to the straight/bi female gaze like whoa.
  31. Sunnydale General is the worst hospital in the world.
  32. Faith is hyper-sexualized needlessly.
  33. Slut shame!
  34. The Watchers have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
  35. Vampire bites, even very brief ones, are 99.8% fatal.
  36. Economic inequality is humorized and oversimplified.

Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments.  Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

WARNING: Some people have mentioned they’re watching along with me, and that’s awesome, but I’ve seen the entire series already and I’ll probably mention things that happen in later seasons. So… you know, take that under consideration, if you’re a person who can’t enjoy something if you know future details about it.

We open on Buffy’s nightmare. She’s drowning, while Allan the deputy mayor is holding onto her foot. When she finally breaks free and gains the surface, Faith is there to hold her head down.

I know, it’s subtle and a little too cerebral, but stick with it and you’ll get what all this is supposed to symbolize.

Buffy wakes to find her mother watching the news. They’re reporting on a body that was recently discovered because Faith isn’t as good at hiding bodies as she thinks she is. The reporter’s dialogue even includes the word “slain,” which is a nice touch. The Mayor goes on TV to vow that they’ll find the real killer.

In the library later that day, Wesley tells the Slayers to look into the murder. Buffy and Giles say nay, Faith gives it an enthusiastic yay. There’s some posturing between Giles and Wesley regarding who’s chairman of the Slayer committee, and then Cordelia comes in. She’s pretty interested in Wesley, who is dismayed to find that yet another student knows all about the Slaying business. He’s also dismayed to find that Cordelia is a student because she’s sending a lot of signals he’s more than happy to pick up on.

Wesley: “My, she’s cheeky, isn’t she?”

Faith: “First word, jail. Second word, bait.”

This isn’t a criticism of the show, but I really hate the term “jail bait.” The “bait” part implies that underaged girls trick men who should know better into having sex. Or that, like fish, men have no choice but to follow a lure to their inevitable doom.

But whatever. Wesley tells Buffy and Faith that he wants them to investigate the murder and find out if it’s supernatural or not.

In an empty classroom, Buffy and Faith have a loud conversation about the fact that they’re both involved in a murder:

Faith: “So, gonna rat me out, is that it?”

Buffy: “Faith, we have to tell. I can’t pretend to investigate this. I can’t pretend that I don’t know.”

Faith: “Oh, I see. But you can pretend that Angel’s still dead when you need to protect him.”

Ohhhhh good point, Faith. And Angel killed like, way more people than just one guy who, might I add, works for their enemy.

But Buffy says that she is protecting Faith by telling, and Faith reminds her that, hey, you’re an accessory to this murder, so if you tell, we’re both in trouble.

I agree with both sides in this conflict. I think Buffy should tell Giles, at the very least. Because I am 100% certain that Giles knows how to cover up a murder quick and dirty style. Faith has a point when she says it’s not a big deal that the dude died. Allan works for The Mayor, so he’s the enemy. Killing him should be no big deal to the Watchers, and it’s unlikely that Faith or Buffy would get caught for the murder. Who’s going to believe that a teen girl who’s a buck ten soaking wet is strong enough to cause penetrating trauma to a grown man’s chest with a blunt object?

In the little commons area, Buffy finds Willow reading and trying not to make eye contact. Willow doesn’t really want to talk to Buffy because Willow has to go work on a spell with Michael, the other witch dude. Oh, also because Buffy has been blowing her off nonstop. And of course, Buffy feels small and alone, right? The way you do when a friend blows you off to hang with someone else. Now you know how Willow feels, Buffy.

That night, the cops have found the crime scene. They’re doing their forensic stuff while a woman tells the cops about hearing a man scream. Angel is lurking around, looking very suspicious, and he remembers seeing the blood on Buffy’s hand.

At City Hall, The Mayor is shredding papers:

The Mayor: “Usually, using the shredder gives me a lift. It’s fun.”

Mr. Trick: “And…today you’re not getting the ya-yas?”

The Mayor: “No. Guess it’ll take more than this to turn my frown upside down. I just don’t understand why Allan would leave such a paper trail about our dealings. You think he was going to betray me? Oh, now that’s a horrible thought. And now he’s dead, I’ll never have the chance to scold him.”

Something something cinnamon roll, something something not pure at all.

Mr. Trick drops the bombshell that a Slayer murdered Allan and that tickles The Mayor, by gosh, by golly.

Buffy and Faith break into City Hall and Allan’s office. Faith makes a joke about Allan’s office and how boring he must have been, but she gets uncharacteristically serious when she sees a picture of Allan and The Mayor together on his desk:

Faith: “He came outta nowhere.”

Buffy: “I know.”

Faith: “Whatever. I’m not lookin’ to hug and cry and learn and grow. I’m just sayin’, it happened quick, you know?”

So, Faith actually is remorseful over what happened and how. She just can’t be demonstrably so in front of Buffy without losing face. Buffy is already Miss Perfect in ways Faith can never hope to be, so all she has is her lack of fucks to give. But if she shows that she does, indeed, have fucks and that she actually gives them, she feels she’s at a disadvantage.

This is Faith’s ultimate downfall.

Faith wants to leave because she doesn’t think they’re going to find anything. And that’s exactly what they find. All of Allan’s files are missing. Buffy thinks he was out there that night to look for them, and she wants to know why. When they try to leave the office, they have to hide from Mr. Trick and The Mayor.

As they walk down the street, Faith expresses surprise that The Mayor is a bad guy. And Buffy does, too, which is weird because didn’t they find out during “Band Candy” that he’s a bad guy? I feel like they already know this.

But none of that matters, because it’s just the set up for this:

Faith: “When are you gonna learn, B? It doesn’t matter what kind of vibe you get off a person, ’cause nine times out of ten, the face that they’re showing you is not the real one.”

Buffy: “I guess you’d know a lot about that.”

Buffy stresses again that she knows Faith must be bothered deep, deep down about killing a dude. And she says, “I know what you’re feeling,” which is like, the very best way to get someone to not listen to a damn word you’re saying. But Buffy tries anyway, going on some big dramatic speech about how something feels sick inside of her, etc. Faith tells her to chill out, it’ll all blow over, and because Buffy isn’t a viewer with an outside perspective, she doesn’t understand that Faith threatening to jump on a freighter and leave town isn’t a callous retort, but a coping mechanism. Faith also points out that they’ve saved thousands of lives, and that Buffy literally saved the world, so one guy is not a big deal. Which again, I find myself agreeing with Faith here. They killed one guy who was mixing it up with vampires. Sucks, but shit happens.

One of the things I’ll never really understand in movies/tv shows/books about paranormal creatures and people hunting them is that everything is always black and white, no room for anything in between…until they say there is, and those times make the least sense. Here, it’s “killing people is wrong, no matter what the circumstances!” Okay, so you just kill demons then? “Yes! Always kill the demons, no matter what!” Okay, so you’re cool with killing Angel then? “No! Of course not! He’s the one exception to the rule because…he has a soul. And the rest of them are demons.” Then you’d be fully invested in killing Spike when he gets that chip out of his head, right? “Yes! Or no. Depending on which person is writing this and how many cars the fans would tip over and set on fire if we were to kill him off. Don’t worry, we’ll come up with some reason to avoid that, I’m sure.” “But killing a human who is actively working for the evil guy, that’s okay, right?” “No! Never! Because killing is bad.”

Buffy could really use this opportunity to learn that when “slay” is a part of your job title, you might need to develop a more ambiguous sense of morality. Instead, the writers use this chance to double down on her black-and-white view.

Buffy tells Faith that just because they’re Slayers, that doesn’t mean they’re better than everyone else, and Faith is like, actually, yeah, because without us, people would just be vampire food. And again, I find myself agreeing with Faith.

Holy shit? Am I evil?

Buffy goes home and there’s a detective there waiting for her. He interviews her about the night before. It’s cut with Faith answering the same questions with the same detective. None of their answers match up, and the detective says they have a witness who can identify them as being near the alley at the time of the murder.

Detective: “Somebody stabbed this guy through the heart. Strange thing is, the weapon? Was made out of wood. Any of this mean anything to you?”

Faith: “Yeah. That whoever did it wasn’t hip to the Bronze Age.”

At first I kind of thought he was implicating that Buffy or Faith or both of them were the murderers. And they are, but we know that because we saw it. If this detective is like ninety percent of the rest of Sunnydale, he either doesn’t know about or doesn’t care to acknowledge the existence of monsters and Slayers and all of that. He would have to reasonably believe that girls as small as Buffy and Faith have the physical strength to drive a blunt object through a grown man’s heart. But then the detective suggests they’re covering for someone, and that makes a lot more sense.

After he leaves, Buffy goes to Willow’s house and knocks on the door to Willow’s room. The door to Willow’s room that leads to the exterior of the house. I will never stop mentioning how weird it is to give your child a room with a door that lets them freely exit the house whenever they damn well feel like it. Buffy tells Willow that she needs to talk to her about something, and Willow is like, good because I’ve had something on my mind, too. Willow tears into Buffy about how she’s been hanging out with Faith and leaving Willow out, and it’s hurt Willow’s feelings.

Willow: “It’s like all of a sudden I’m not cool enough for you because I can’t kill things with my bare hands.”

That makes Buffy cry, and Willow immediately apologizes for sticking up for herself. Which is light-hearted and relatable in the moment, but Willow’s feelings and how Buffy hurt them never gets resolved in this episode. It’s just, oh, Buffy is crying, so now we have to move on to her thing.

After Buffy spills her tale, Willow tells Buffy she has to go to Giles, and that he’ll know what to do. So, Buffy goes to the library, and I was like, wait, why is she going to the library in the middle of the night? Why wouldn’t he be at home? LOL show, you’re so silly. Then I remembered that he probably spends late nights at the library to avoid going home to sleep in the bed where he found his girlfriend’s murdered body. And then I made myself sad.

Anyway, Buffy gets to the library and starts to tell Giles what’s going on. And then she sees that Faith is already there:

In the library, Giles stands with his back to Faith, who has just exited his office. Buffy stands in front of him (we see her from the back).

And Buffy is like:

Buffy's eyes are wide, her mouth open, caught mid-speech.

And Faith is like

Faith, giving Buffy this really sly, threatening look.
This is not the reassuring face of a person who is on your side, FYI.

Before Buffy can stammer out a full lie about what she was about to say, Faith says:

Faith: “It’s okay, Buffy. I told him.”

Buffy: “You told him?”

Faith: “I had to. He had to know what you did.”

Oh shit, Buffy was not expecting this. But honestly, the first time I saw this show, I totally expected this. Faith’s betrayal was telegraphed pretty hard from the very first time she showed up on screen.

Buffy tries to defend herself, but Giles will have none of it:

Giles: “I don’t want to hear it, Buffy.

Buffy: “No!”

Giles: “I don’t want to hear anymore lies.”

Giles orders Buffy into his office and tells Faith to go home. Oh shit, Buffy has lied to Giles so much this season, of course he doesn’t believe her! Why should he?

Because he’s motherfucking Giles. That’s why. This smooth, card-cataloging, tweed-wearing fuck machine knows everything. Because he’s observant and sensitive. Check it out:

Buffy: “Giles, I didn’t do this, I swear. Look, I know that I messed up badly, but the murder, it was–”

Giles: “Faith. I know. She may have many talents, Buffy, but fortunately, lying is not one of them.”

Then he apologizes to her for making her think he was mad at him for like two seconds.

Hey, guys who want to know what women want? This. We want a guy who looks good in tweed, has a fondness for the way books smell, and who will instantly disbelieve anyone who accuses us of murder. That’s not really that much to ask. I don’t know why you have so much trouble getting it.

Buffy is all full of angst because, you know, they killed a guy, but Giles is pretty cavalier about the whole thing:

Giles: “Buffy, this is not the first time something like this has happened.”

Buffy: “It’s not?”

Giles: “The Slayer is on the front line of a nightly war. It’s tragic, but accidents have happened.”

That’s what I’ve been saying! Okay, so, I’m not evil. I’m just Watcher material. Which is a little disappointing, because the pay grade for evil is a lot higher.

Giles tells Buffy that he’s not going to call the police on Faith, because that’s the last thing she needs. He says Faith is unstable and in denial, and really at the bottom of all this, Giles truly wants to help Faith get under control again. He tells Buffy that nobody else can know, but whoops, there’s Watcher Wesley eavesdropping on the whole thing. The very next thing he does is call Quentin Travers at the Council to tattle on Giles.

The next day, the gang meets in the surprisingly deserted cafeteria to discuss their options re: Faith. They all agree that an intervention is not the way to go. Xander recommends that he talk to her one-on-one:

Xander: “I think she might listen to me. We kind of have, um, a connection.”

Buffy: “A connection? Why would you think tha–”

Xander: “I’m just saying it’s worth a shot. That’s all.”

Giles: “I don’t see it, Xander. I mean, of all of us, you’re the one person that, arguably, Faith has had the least contact with.”

Xander tells them that he and Faith fought a demon together, and he gave her a ride home.

Buffy: “And you guys…talked?”

Xander: “Not extensively, no.”

Buffy: “Then why would you th–”

Willow sits next to Buffy. Buffy is still asking Xander questions, but we can tell from Willow's face that she gets it.

Same shot of Willow and Buffy sitting beside each other, only this time Buffy's facial expression makes it clear that she gets it now, too.

Giles sits beside Xander. Giles is now also making a face that indicates he understands what Xander's been trying to say.

Okay, great, glad we’re all caught up then, guys.

Buffy explains to Xander that Faith doesn’t really care about the guys she sleeps with, so she won’t take him seriously. And Xander is clearly hurt by this. Giles suggests Xander could help him with research, so you know things are bad if Giles is voluntarily spending time with Xander. Giles doesn’t know what to do about Faith, so he suggests they figure out what they can on Mr. Trick. Willow breaks out of her near-catatonic sadness over Xander and Faith banging and says she can hack into the Mayor’s files. But Buffy is still of a one-track-Slayer-saving mind.

In a mopey ’90s folk rock montage, Willow sits in the bathroom and cries and Xander sits dejectedly in the library. You know, I have feelings about this. On the one hand, I get that Willow is shocked and disappointed because she has probably always felt/hoped that she and Xander would be each others’ firsts. And even though they’ve gone through the whole cheating subplot and she’s happy with Oz, it makes sense to grieve a childish hope. But at the same time, I feel like this revelation would have had more punch if it had happened closer to “Lovers Walk.” Like, maybe after “The Wish” or something (which would involve reshuffling episodes, I get that). Because waiting until now to explore the idea of Willow being upset at Xander losing his virginity to someone else feels like it weakens Willow’s commitment to Oz, or that she might still be wrestling with who she wants.

Faith is at home, lounging on her bed wearing shiny vinyl pants, a sheer blouse, full makeup and an updo. You know, how girls always look when they’re watching TV in bed on a weeknight. Xander comes to her door and tries to make small talk, and she relents and lets him come in. He tries to talk about the murder, but he won’t go along with her version of the events, making it clear that he doesn’t believe Buffy killed the guy. But he manages to do that and be supportive of Faith at the same time:

Xander: “Faith, you may not think so, but I sort of know you. I’ve seen you post-battle, and I know first-hand that you’re, um, like a wild thing and half the time, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Faith: “And you’re living proof of that, aren’t you?”

Xander: “See, you’re trying to hurt me. But right now you need someone on your side. What happened wasn’t your fault. And I’m willing to testify to that in court, if you need me.”

Faith: “You’d dig that, wouldn’t you? To get up in front of all of your geek pals and go on record about how I made you my boytoy for a night.”

This whole thing is really Xander’s wheelhouse. Of all the characters on the show, he’s the one who’s more likely than any of them to talk sense into someone at a tough time. And it’s working because Faith responds by trying to make everything sexual. You know #32? This is an area of her characterization that’s negatively impacted by that over-sexualization. We know that in this scene, Faith is using her sexuality to deflect from her insecurity and fear. But wouldn’t it have packed more of a punch if we’d only ever seen her using her sexuality in this way during moments of obvious insecurity? I mean, we can go back and say to ourselves, “Well, she talked about sex all the time with Buffy because she was insecure about fitting into Buffy’s world,” etc., but Faith has been on default sex-crazy mode for the entire season. If we could remove about 50% of all of Faith’s sex talk throughout season three and kept only those instances where her cheeky comments are clearly covering up her insecurities, then this would have had more impact. This scene isn’t an example of #32, but it’s an example of how easy it is to take a complex character aspect and overuse it to the point that it becomes a caricature. And nobody even comments on Faith’s reliance on sex to cover up her insecurities until season seven!

Anyway, Faith pushes Xander onto the bed and starts grinding on him, despite him saying no and making it clear several times that he doesn’t want to have sex with her. She starts to choke him out, but Angel appears out of nowhere and clubs her with something. Faith comes to in Angel’s mansion, chained to a wall. She makes a comment about him tying her up (because again, Faith is never allowed a line, action, or emotion outside of her sexuality).

Angel: “Sorry about the chains. Not that I don’t trust you…actually, it is that I don’t trust you.”

Faith tells Angel that she and Xander were just “playing,” but Angel isn’t buying. It strikes me as funny that they actually mention safe words here (although they say “safety word” which may have been the proper terminology at the time. I wouldn’t know, I was still in high school). So much of this blog is about safe words. So much of it. And now, it’s creeping in here, like water rising on a sinking ship.

Anyway, Faith won’t talk to Angel. Buffy is waiting outside, and Angel tries to explain to her that Faith might not be saveable. Buffy doesn’t want to believe that, though, despite Angel explaining the impact of taking a human life.

At City Hall, The Mayor and Mr. Trick watch security footage of Buffy and Faith creeping around after them. The Mayor warns Mr. Trick that he has to take care of this Slayer issue like, pretty close to immediately.

At the mansion, Angel tries again to talk to Faith. He tries to connect with her on some darkity-dark level of fantasizing aloud about murder. It actually kind of works; she starts to panic about being chained up. She’s closer to wanting to listen:

Angel: “You and me, Faith, we’re a lot alike. Time was I thought humans existed just to hurt each other. Then I came here. And I found out that there are other types of people. People who genuinely wanted to do right. And they make mistakes. They fall down. But they keep caring. Keep trying. If you can trust us, Faith, this can all change. You don’t have to disappear into the darkness.”

Now would probably come the part where she’s receptive to what he has to say, and she might even come around and grow into a new person, capable of trust and empathy without fear.

That’s what would have happened. If a-hole Wesley didn’t fuck it all up. He bursts in with two other guys from the Council, who throw a net over Angel and beat him with batons.

Wesley unshackles Faith, but immediately handcuffs her, telling her:

Wesley: “By the order of the Watcher’s Council of Britain, I am exercising my authority and removing you to England, where you will accept the judgement of the disciplinary committee.”

So, wait, hang on. It’s the Watcher’s Council of Britain? Not the Watcher’s Council, full stop? This implies that there are other regions with their own Watcher councils. Like, the Watcher’s Council of North America, or the Watcher’s Council of Southern Africa. Specifying “Britain” leaves them with a pretty good hole through which they could introduce other Watchers and Slayers (and could potentially get them out of that pesky, “There is only one Slayer and it’s a good thing everything supernaturally catastrophic happens within walking distance of her house” problem), but since they never do that, it just makes me wonder why the British Watchers are hanging out in America.

Also a question I have? How is it that Wesley and one other guy can manhandle a struggling Faith out of the mansion on their own? Her hands are cuffed, but she’s conscious (and we’ve seen what she can do while handcuffed already). Even though this is Faith and not Buffy we’re talking about, I’m tagging this as #16, because it’s a case of Slayer strength suddenly going away for seemingly no reason.

And why didn’t they kill Angel? It makes no sense. Wesley is a by-the-book Watcher. They’ve got him on the floor, beaten and helpless, and all three council guys are like, yeah, let’s just let this one vampire go. The only reason Angel doesn’t get staked immediately is because he’s got his own spin-off he’s headed to. This is not a real convincing reason for a character to stay alive in otherwise fatal circumstances. Of course, it could also be that I’m basing this entirely on what Giles would do. We know Giles will fight monsters, but we don’t actually know whether or not he’s supposed to fight monsters. Maybe it’s something in the rule book. So, okay, I can let this one go. Have fun on your spin-off, Angel.

Faith rides in the back of a paddy wagon with Wesley and one of the other Watcher guys. And they’re both stupid. They’re so, so stupid. Wesley tells the other guy to tighten Faith’s restraints, which only hold her wrists. So when the dude gets close, Faith kicks him and pins his head to the floor with her foot, threatening to crush it if Wesley doesn’t unlock her shackles. He does, and headbutts him unconscious, then jumps out of the back of the truck.

Buffy finds Angel all tangled up in the net, and they go to the library, where they tell the rest of the gang that yup, the new idiot Watcher took Faith. Giles tells Buffy that the Council will lock Faith up for a long time, and Buffy is like, cool, let’s head to the airport and rescue her.

Willow: “Can I…I’m just wondering…why? I’m not the most subjective, I know. I kind of have an issue with Faith sharing my people. But she murdered someone and accused Buffy. Then she hurt Xander. I hate to say it, but maybe she belongs behind bars.”

This is a neat line because it makes the viewer feel split. A part of you already knows that Faith is a goner because that’s how stories work (especially when one-half of the dichotomy is blonde and the other is a brunette. It’s just math), but another part really wants her to be saveable. You want to agree with Willow, but you know that you can’t.

Wesley shows up and tells them that Faith has gotten away. The Scoobies immediately take action, splitting up to go to various places they might fight and recapture Faith.

Wesley: “What can I do? I want to help.”

Buffy: “Still got your ticket back to the mother country?”

Yeah. Fuck off, Wesley. You caused this problem because you breezed into a situation you knew absolutely dick about, thought you could take over, then you couldn’t handle it. You’re a liability, Wesley. Take a hike.

Buffy goes to the docks, where she finds Faith skulking around on a boat. I think movies and TV have given me an unrealistic perception of how easy it would be to just go on somebody else’s boat without getting caught. Anyway, Faith hops down and they have this confrontation:

Buffy: “Faith nobody is asking you to be like me. But you can’t go on like this.”

Faith: “Scares you, doesn’t it?”

Buffy: “Yeah, it scares me. Faith, you’re hurting people. You’re hurting yourself!”

Faith: “But that’s not it. That’s not what bothers you so much. What bugs you is you know I’m right. You know in your gut we don’t need the law. We are the law.”

And then almost immediately, Faith brings up sex again, talking about how Buffy had sex with a vampire. She uses this as an example for why she thinks Buffy needs Faith to be the one in control:

Faith: “You need me to toe the line ’cause you’re afraid you’ll go over it, aren’t you, B? You can’t handle watching me living my own way, having a blast, because it tempts you. You know it could be you.”

And then Buffy punches her. Which is arguably the correct response to a person who describes murder as “having a blast.” Faith is totally projecting here; it’s not that Buffy wants to be like Faith. It’s that Faith wants to be like Buffy, but the idea of facing what she’s done and committing to accept that she can make mistakes terrifies Faith.

Buffy sees a crate about to fall, and she pushes Faith out of the way, getting crushed herself in the process. Vampires attack Faith while Buffy struggles to get out from under the crate. When she finally frees herself, it’s Mr. Trick who’s there to attack her. Faith kills two of the vampires, but when she sees that Buffy is about to be killed, she hesitates. But she does the right thing, staking Mr. Trick, who deserved to die in a more climactic and important fashion. RIP, Mr. Trick. You were too good a villain to be wasted like this.

Back at the library, Buffy tells Giles that Faith could have left her to die. Faith has also apparently returned to Sunnydale, which is a good sign.

Giles: “She still has a lot to face before she can put this behind her.”

Buffy: “I’m not gonna give up on her.”

Giles: “Then I think she stands a chance.”

They both clearly know that this is a “lie to me” moment.

The Mayor is getting ready to leave the office for the night. He finds Faith outside his door:

Faith: “You sent your boy to kill me.”

The Mayor: “That’s right. I did.”

Faith: “He’s dust.”

The Mayor: “I thought he might be, what with you standing here and all.”

Faith: “I guess that means you have a job opening.”

The Mayor stands aside and lets Faith in, and the door closes on the end of the episode.

It’s probably not great to have a white character refer to another white character’s black employee as “your boy.” Can’t really let that one drift past without a #12.

So, this is the beginning of the Evil!Faith arc, and the real kick-off to the end of the season. From here on out, everything is rushing toward The Mayor’s ascension.

Since I said before that we can’t really judge these episodes on their own, it’s time to take them together as a whole. Overall, I feel like the concept of what constitutes unforgivable murder needs to be more clearly defined. Yes, Faith killed The Mayor’s aid. But he was a bad guy. He was doing shady dealings with vampires in an alley. Is it okay to kill a human being if they’re on the side of evil? If not…why not? These episodes never give us a clear reason to believe that what Faith did was unredeemable, even if the characters feel like they have a clear reason to believe it.

And while I realize that the show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and not Faith the Vampire Slayer, very little time is spent with Faith as opposed to how much time is spent about Faith. The “accidents happen” speech that Giles gives Buffy is something he should have said to Faith. If she heard accidents happen and it’s not the end of the world, she might have been willing to forgive herself, without having to affect an outward persona of toughness. Faith doesn’t get treated right by the story here. Her fall into evil could have been avoided if the group had treated her like a person and not a problem.

Really, that’s been Faith’s treatment since she showed up. She’s not a person, she’s a potential problem. Every time that proves true, whether by her bad choice or someone else’s actions (the evil watcher, the Slayerfest mix-up, this whole thing with murdering Allan), it forces more of a wedge between her the people who are supposed to be her support system. And we hardly ever see Faith receive any guidance from Giles, the more experienced Watcher. In fact, the suspicion and exclusion of Faith by the Scoobies might actually be what pushes her into villain territory. Faith is very much a “hey, if you think I’m a fuck up, let me show you how much of a fuck up I can be” kind of person. She never stood a chance in the black-and-white morality of the show. That’s what makes her so tragic.

Overall, I really like these two episodes and the way they change the direction of the season. I just wish they could have tweaked a few things to make the murder less morally ambiguous (why not accidentally kill a bystander or someone else not directly involved in evil?), shown us Faith receiving (and rejecting) emotional support from more than just her peers, and it would have been nice if the “Faith is super sexy” thing hadn’t been overused to the point that it doesn’t pack as much significance to her characterization.

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26 Comments

  1. Gabriel
    Gabriel

    >>Have I missed any that were added in past recaps? Let me know in the comments. Even though I might forget that you mentioned it.

    Wasn’t there once a “Some of this is way too real”? Or did you retire this one?

    January 13, 2017
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    • Laina
      Laina

      Ooooh yeah, seconding this one. That one’s gonna be needed soon.

      January 13, 2017
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  2. Jilliterate
    Jilliterate

    Here’s the thing with murdering demons vs. murdering humans: I think a lot of the writers of stories of this ilk have the stance that the death penalty is wrong, or at the very least, they don’t want to send the message that vigilante killings are acceptable. Demons/vampires? Well, those people are outside of the law. The government wouldn’t know how to handle them, they’re inherently evil, and now our story gets all of the killing/action it needs without any of the ookiness (Why writers don’t see a problem with creating an entire group of people who are inherently evil and are designed to be cannon fodder, I don’t know).

    The problem arises with characters like Alan. Writers feel like they can’t break their no-killing-humans rule, because again, vigilantes. But stories need more nuance than that. It’s overly simple to rule that Buffy should not ever kill Alan, because it’s operating under the premise that Buffy needs to defer to the authority of United States law. But Alan’s crimes are, of course, not covered by U.S. law, and under the current standards of the Buffy universe, no court would ever accept the evidence of Alan’s crimes. “Monsters? Vampires? Get out of my courtroom.” This leaves Alan basically free to operate, unpoliced, because Buffy & co refuse to take responsibility for him, and no government, state or federal, has the knowledge to be able to.

    I appreciate why the writers take the No Killing Humans stance, but it’s just a little too simple and naive to be used as a rule for very long. Either Buffy and the Watchers need to accept policing certain humans as one of the duties of the Slayer, or they need to go to world governments and explain What’s Up. Give those governments the information necessary so that they can adjust the law to take the crimes of these humans into account and be capable of sentencing/imprisoning them accordingly, instead of letting them run free.

    January 13, 2017
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      The other thing is, some of the villains in Buffy could be human. Like Amy’s mother. Witchcraft is used by humans, and the tools they use may be supernatural, but the user isn’t. So it gets a little bit iffy to have a ‘No Killing Humans’ rule.

      January 15, 2017
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  3. I thought the point was that the Mayor’s aid was attempting to betray him by going to the Slayers, and Faith ruined that by just killing him? Granted, Faith and Buffy don’t know that, but I don’t think Buffy is wrong or only seeing things in black and white to be alarmed that Faith murdered a guy. (And then tried to pin it on Buffy and rape one of her best friends…)

    January 13, 2017
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Yeah, I though Allan was going to the Slayers to rat out the Ascension plans but died before he could do it.

      January 15, 2017
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  4. samuel
    samuel

    Yeah Jenny I hope you don’t actually agree with Faith on the whole “We’re better than everyone else cause we’re Slayers”, because that line of logic is basically the core justification for fascism.

    January 13, 2017
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    • Sadie
      Sadie

      YEP. I think we’ve seen that play out around the world. And not to get all political, but that attitude feels especially frightening now.

      January 13, 2017
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  5. Sadie
    Sadie

    I never thought of Alan as really evil. I think he was just a guy who got into politics, ended up as the mayor’s assistant, and then got kind of swept along as the mayor became progressively more caught up in his quest for power – or was just too entrenched to extricate himself when he realized just how bad the Mayor was. I think Alan DID let that duelist cult vampire into the Mayor’s office, WAS keeping a paper trail on the Mayor, and I think that he was in that alley because he was trying to find Faith and Buffy and warn them about the Mayor’s Ascension.

    That might be part of why I side with Buffy on this. I think when you have that kind of power, you need to have a stronger moral compass, otherwise it’s pretty easy to justify getting rid of people who get in your way.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, Jenny, I’m pretty sure you’re evil.

    re: Willows reaction to Xander losing his virginity to Faith – I think it’s more than him being her first crush/love. Sure, I think that’s a part of it, but I think it’s also that Xander didn’t tell her about it. They used to be best friends. Then he started going all gaga over Buffy and she felt like she was losing him, but it was kind of okay because she loved Buffy, and Buffy’s NEVER going to go for Xander. Then this other slayer comes along, and she’s basically a hot mess, and now Xander’s hanging out with HER?

    Of course it’s possible that I’ve just watched this too many times.

    January 13, 2017
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    • Mel
      Mel

      No I agree, I think Willow would have been grieving something that was lost; an old friendship where she and Xander told each other everything, rather than just being filled with the green-eyed monster over Faith being Xander’s first. I had another thing to say about this, so I’m gonna quote Jenny here:
      “Because waiting until now to explore the idea of Willow being upset at Xander losing his virginity to someone else feels like it weakens Willow’s commitment to Oz, or that she might still be wrestling with who she wants.” – Not necessarily. It’s kind of a letting-go of an old crush. Especially if it’s one you’ve held for a really long time. Several years ago a guy I had a long-standing crush on got married. I went to the wedding as a way of, I suppose, exorcising him from my mind. Maybe that’s what Willow’s doing here – allowing herself that little bit of grief before she’s able to say ‘okay, that’s over’. It doesn’t mean that she’s still confused about who she wants. Otherwise she wouldn’t have tried so hard to make it up to Oz.

      January 14, 2017
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      • Sadie
        Sadie

        YES. Exactly. Oz is better for Willow in every way. I think even she knows that.

        January 14, 2017
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  6. Erin
    Erin

    Re: slayers>everyone else being equated to fascism, I think that depends on how much you exist in the world of the story vs. the story as symbol. If these characters are symbolic then yes. That sends a bad message. But within the rules of this world, slayers are literally better than everyone else. They not only know that the demon world exists, which is a cut above most humans, but they also have a unique destiny to fight evil and oh btw SUPERPOWERS. Now you can argue about whether they have a moral obligation to bow to societal norms or whether their unique perspective permits them a more selective moral reasoning, but I always thought it was so stupid that the show constantly needed to tell Buffy that she’s not so special after all. She is in fact a very special snowflake.

    January 13, 2017
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    • samuel
      samuel

      okay couple things, *all* fictional characters are symbolic too an extent. Fiction isn’t created in a vacuum. It’s created by real people who live within a political context. Therefore, all media, however fantastical, is informed by real life anxieties and values. It’s for this reason that it doesn’t really matter that the show justifies Buffy and Faith’s “superiority”. If anything, it makes it worse. Buffy is the show’s hero. The audience is meant to empathize and, ultimately, agree with Buffy’s ideology and methods. If the show were to have Buffy agree with Faith that because they have physical powers and knowledge that “normal” people don’t possess, then that makes them superior/more valuable — And that their is an uncompromisingly Evil™ force out to destroy these normal people, so of course they must be protected, no matter the consequences. That would be at the very least, a tacit endorsement of Fascism by the show.

      January 14, 2017
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      • Lieke
        Lieke

        Plus, it smacks too much of Meyer’s “vampires are better than humans” crap, for my taste.

        January 15, 2017
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  7. Omg, I hate the term ‘jail bait’, too! So so much!
    About the murdering people thing. I always see it, in any show like this, as a slippery slope thing. If you allow yourself, as the Slayer, to let accidents like this slide, it might become easier and easier to see humans dying as collateral damage. I definitely agree that they should have talked to Faith about this much more calmly and sympathetic and about how it really was an accident. But I do think it’s good that they never see it as ‘oh well, accidents happen’.
    I don’t know if I’m making much sense O.o

    January 14, 2017
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  8. candy apple
    candy apple

    Buffy has killed at least two humans in the past, and no one said two words about it. There was no intervention, no lecture about how killing someone changes you. She killed that guy in the skating rink by slashing his throat with her skate, then she killed the lady who was pretending to be a cop on Career Day.

    Why does Faith get all this crap for killing one bad human, when Buffy killed two bad humans and no one said anything?

    January 14, 2017
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    • Casey
      Casey

      Wait, what? I thought those people were demons. I thought everyone who was part of that weird Order of the Whatever were demons and they just didn’t turn into bugs or whatever because they didn’t have time/wanted to blend in. That might be a totally incorrect assumption, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Scoobies assumed that everyone who joined the Order got demonized.

      Besides, when Buffy thought she’d killed John Ritter (no idea what his actual name was), she was REALLY torn up about it, and her friends are supportive. I think the problem is less the killing itself, and Faith’s seeming lack of giving a shit. Which, yeah, basic psychology tells you that it’s obviously a coping mechanism, but I could see why someone with superhuman killing powers not appearing to care at all about killing people would be seen as a problem.

      January 19, 2017
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  9. meadowphoenix
    meadowphoenix

    Buffy tells Faith that just because they’re Slayers, that doesn’t mean they’re better than everyone else, and Faith is like, actually, yeah, because without us, people would just be vampire food. And again, I find myself agreeing with Faith.

    Actually, the show makes pretty clear than anyone can stake a vampire, and that half the time what leads them to be able to kill the Big Bad’s is knowledge. There is literally no reason that a Slayer must exist (besides SPOILERS the Watchers being kinda misogynistic SPOILERS), and I would actually posit that the Slayer’s (sole) existence allows places like Sunnydale to be intentionally ignorant and therefore vulnerable. Without the Slayer, humans could use, you know, their intelligence to figure out way to stop vampires.

    Faith is totally projecting here; it’s not that Buffy wants to be like Faith. It’s that Faith wants to be like Buffy
    Faith is absolutely projecting, and does want to be Buffy, but she’s not wrong either and plenty of episodes kinda make that case. Buffy does find Faith’s free-spiritedness tempting. Buffy main internal tension is whether she can be half-normal half-slayer and be happy. She obviously can’t be full normal, so it would be very tempting for her to find full Slayer enjoyable. Honestly, the problem is that Faith isn’t wrong, Buffy should try to see Slaying as less a source of matyrization, but Faith is such an untrustworthy and unreliable source that Buffy goes in the opposite direction out of fear, imo.

    January 15, 2017
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  10. [Really, that’s been Faith’s treatment since she showed up. She’s not a person, she’s a potential problem. Every time that proves true, whether by her bad choice or someone else’s actions…, it forces more of a wedge between her the people who are supposed to be her support system. And we hardly ever see Faith receive any guidance…]

    This all reminds me so much of Morgana’s treatment in Merlin. 🙁

    January 17, 2017
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  11. Anon123
    Anon123

    “Because I am 100% certain that Giles knows how to cover up a murder quick and dirty style.”

    Since you’ve made this part of your head-canon about Giles, now I’m wondering if you find it sexy to be able to cover up a murder. I mean, I’m not saying that *all* your head-canon about Giles revolves around making him even sexier to you…I’m just wondering. 😛

    Your points about black-and-white morality are interesting, and I agree the show wanders a bit on its stance. However, i think this episode is more about Buffy and Faith as characters, and I can see different reasons for them each to have come to a certain cut-and-dried version of ethics. (I mean aside from the fact that in my experience, younger people are likelier to think this way in the first place.)

    And yes, you might be evil according to Buffy (the character, not the whole show). If I were you, I’d invent some head-canon about how Giles has an ambiguous moral compass and finds possibly-evil bloggers really, *really* hot. 😉

    January 17, 2017
    |Reply
  12. Charlotte
    Charlotte

    “As they walk down the street, Faith expresses surprise that The Mayor is a bad guy. And Buffy does, too, which is weird because didn’t they find out during “Band Candy” that he’s a bad guy? I feel like they already know this.”

    iirc, he highttails it out of the sewers immediately, so the slayers don’t see him, and afaik they don’t see Mr. Trick with the mayor until these episodes. Ethan didn’t know who had hired him either. I might be remembering wrong, but I think that’s why.

    January 18, 2017
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  13. Jane
    Jane

    I really, desperately wish that Joss had hired even a marginally competent actress to play Faith. Eliza Dushku is so bad at everything that her scenes feel like an amateur high school production. All the nuances in Faith’s characterization that you point out never come across through her acting abilities, and can only be inferred. If Faith had been played by someone with actual talent, I think many of the problems with her obvious sexuality and flat dialogue would disappear.

    February 3, 2017
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    • Toften
      Toften

      That right there. It’s why Dollhouse was so painful to watch.

      April 7, 2017
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  14. Katherine
    Katherine

    Alllllllll of this about Faith. She’s my girl. ❤️

    January 25, 2019
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  15. John Doe
    John Doe

    Regarding the Slayer superiority/shouldn’t be judged thing: the issue isn’t, as Giles put it, that a human was accidentally killed by a Slayer in a specific set of circumstances. The issue is that the phrasing of Faith’s statement is NOT “this was an understandable tragedy that nonetheless sometimes happens when you’re fighting a war against monsters that try to eat people, and I shouldn’t be judged more or less harshly than an ordinary person would be in this situation”, it was saying “because I have the physical superiority of a Slayer, that also means that I should automatically have moral superiority.” Which, obviously, is an extremely not-okay sentiment.

    March 18, 2020
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  16. anonymous
    anonymous

    The show could have done such a better job with this story line. Buffy killed a human THIS season (the evil watcher) and I think the knights she kills in season 5 are human too and they were actually on the side of good. The writers should have had Faith accidently kill some random innocent person or made it more certain that Allen wasn’t a bad guy and was trying to come to the slayers for help. As is I find myself siding with Faith until she goes and works for the Wilkins. Slayers are the law and Buffy says something like that (my memory is failing me it might be exactly that) in season 7. Faith actually did feel bad but just didn’t want to deal with her feelings. They way everyone handle the killing is what caused everything to spiral. Giles says accidents like this have happened before but he says it to Buffy and not Faith. I get him going along with Faith’s lie while he was alone with her, but once Buffy was there to protect him but shouldn’t have sent Faith away and explained to both girls that slaying can lead to tragedies but that it would be okay.

    July 13, 2020
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