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The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch S03E17, “Enemies”

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In every generation, there is a chosen one. She alone wonders if it’s something she ate or just a bug going around. 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 How do these kids know all these outdated references, anyway?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.

Okay, first of all, this is the only Buffy Tumblr a Hamilton fan will ever need.

We open on a movie theater marquis for a French film. Buffy and Angel stumble out like they’ve just seen a murder. Apparently, their fun night out was accidentally to one of those “artistic” foreign movies:

Angel: “I’m sorry. I wanted to take you out somewhere fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the movies. They’ve changed.”

Watching a bunch of sex on screen is the exact opposite of the stuff two people who can’t have sex with each other but want to like to do. Buffy is worried about Angel being super frustrated by never being able to have sex with her because of the soul-loss thing.

Buffy: “I just don’t like rubbing your nose in it. Suddenly wondering where that expression comes from.”

So, I’ve mentioned before how much the idea that Angel having sex with Buffy, not just Angel being in love with Buffy, is considered his moment of true happiness bugs me. And I stand by my assertion that it fits into #1 pretty neatly. However, this is a really good moment. Angel tells Buffy that he doesn’t care that they can’t have sex, he just likes being with her. And that’s an important thing for shows to put out there, especially shows for a younger audience. Our media throws this message of “it’s only true love if you bone” at us constantly. And while Buffy still presents Angel and Buffy as being trapped in the worst kind of sexless hell of a relationship together, it means something that a character at least acknowledges that they can be happy without sex. It’s cold comfort when you realize that as the show goes on and even in the first season of Angel the dynamic remains that Buffy and Angel can never be together because they can’t smash naughties, I’m grading this on just this one moment. A moment in which Faith, summoned by the smell of hormones in the air, ruins with her sudden appearance. The council is cool with Faith reactivating. Which I’ve always thought was kind of weird. They were going to take her away, right? They had people from the council who came after her and everything. Did that ever get cleared up? Like, why they didn’t send more people and arrest her again? If you remember, let me know in the comments, because I genuinely don’t and it’s never occurred to me to check. I just took it for granted that everything got cleared up behind the scenes.

So, the Slayers go patrolling. Since Faith is in the scene, the topic of conversation is sex. Because sex, sex, sex. I mentioned why I feel this might be realistic/provide insight to Faith’s background, but this is one of the most egregious instances of #32. We just saw Buffy and Angel having a conversation about not having sex and how difficult they’re finding it to have a romantic relationship without sex. We don’t need Faith there initiating the exact same conversation. The point has already been made. This is just an attempt at a few lines of clumsy transition, and since Faith is there, might as well make that transition all about sex and not at all about like, “How are you feeling, Faith,” or anything that might remind the viewer that Faith was recently not okay in the field.

Also, can I just throw this out here? I’m sure someone has mentioned it before, but I would feel remiss to not mention it again: the whole thing about how tragic it is for Buffy and Angel to not have sex? That is some major asexual erasure. The show, especially from the mid-point of this season on, makes it sound like no love can be complete without fornication, and look how tragic it is when a couple can’t have sex. Granted, Buffy and Angel aren’t asexual, but the way outsiders react also really reinforces the idea of a love story made tragic and incomprehensible by the inability to have sex. It’s also pretty ableist; while many disabled people lead healthy and fulfilling sex lives, there are definitely situations in which disability could hinder or altogether remove a person’s ability to have intercourse. That doesn’t mean their relationships won’t survive without sex. So, yeah. That’s basically the message the tragic love story of the characters who can’t fuck is sending viewers: if there’s no sex in your relationship, it just isn’t a real relationship.

Anyway, Buffy is about to tell Faith not to talk about Angel anymore, when they spot a demon and pin him against a crypt. He’s one of those wacky, “geez, lady!” demons that this show seems to love. Porkpie hat, zany printed shirt, cracking wise…it’s like there’s a huge contingent of demons who materialize straight from Reddit or 4chan. This guy has offered an uninterested she-demon a gas station rose with a heartfelt, “M’lady,” before. I guarantee it. The demon tells Buffy and Faith that he’s got the Books of Ascension and he’s willing to sell them to the Slayers rather than let The Mayor get his hands on them. Faith is either seriously going to kill him or faking it so he runs off, I really can’t tell, but either way, he hits the road. Buffy says she wants to find out more about the books so they can pin The Mayor down.

Faith tells the Mayor about the demon and the books, but he doesn’t seem too concerned. He tells Faith that she worries too much and should pull her hair back because she has a nice face. Then he gives her a glass of milk to reduce her stress:

The Mayor: “Now, first, you load up on calcium, then find this demon, kill the heck out of him, and bring the books to me.”

Faith: “And if Buffy gets to them first?” The Mayor: “Oh, well… Frankly, I don’t like to think about that. I like good, positive, up thoughts. If you failed me in that way, well, you know, replacing Mr. Trick was chore enough. Oh, come on, don’t worry. Drink up. There’s nothing uncool about healthy teeth and bones.”

Meanwhile, at the library, Buffy has told her Watcher (and Wesley) about the demon’s demand for cash:

Giles: “Demons after money. What ever happened to the still-beating heart of a virgin? No one has any standards anymore.”

They can’t figure out what “ascension” means in this context, but Willow has read an obscure text that mentions it. And it has to do with genocide. Giles wants to know where she found that book, and she admits that she took it from a stash in Giles’s office, where he keeps stuff he doesn’t want her to find. Basically, magic things he doesn’t want her studying yet. Giles gets the book and finds that it recounts the details of a town that experienced an ascension and was never heard from again. Which is not the outcome they’re looking for in this situation. Cordelia interrupts to ask Wesley out under the guise of needing a tutor. Again, I have to wonder why and how Sunnydale High has not noticed this man hanging around the school all the time without any demonstrable excuse to be there. If he starts dating a student, will they notice then? (

Cordelia interrupts to ask Wesley out under the guise of needing a tutor. Again, I have to wonder why and how Sunnydale High has not noticed this man hanging around the school all the time without any demonstrable excuse to be there. If he starts dating a student, will they notice then? (#8) After Cordelia leaves, Wesley suggests they find the demon and persuade him to lend them the books. Because Wesley is nothing if not naive about every conceivable way the world works. Buffy says Faith would be better at

After Cordelia leaves, Wesley suggests they find the demon and persuade him to lend them the books. Because Wesley is nothing if not naive about every conceivable way the world works. Buffy says Faith would be better at persuading but they don’t know where she is.

As it so happens, she’s persuading the demon. “Persuading” here means she’s stealing the books and stabbing the demon to death. He’s not a real easy kill. She has to stab him a lot and blood gets on her hands, which I assume is supposed to be like, a moment of realization that oh no, she’s killed again. Or something. Because we cut directly to Angel reading something (probably poems about sadness) and Faith shows up asking for help. She says she has nowhere else to go, but we know she has that apartment. So is this a trick, or a trap? I mean, she can’t really go home to that apartment if she’s afraid of The Mayor or wants to stop being his hired gun, right? And she seems sincere when she shows Angel her hands, which are still bloody.

Okay, you know what? We need to discuss how the sun rises and sets in Sunnydale. Faith kills the demon guy in daylight. You can see it streaming in through the windows in the scene. When she arrives at Angel’s house, it’s full dark, but her hands are still wet with blood. How fast does the sun set here? Or does demon blood never dry? This kind of weird mistake has happened a few times in past episodes, and I feel like if I were in charge of running a vampire show, this kind of thing wouldn’t be missed.

Anyway, Faith tells Angel that she doesn’t want to end up dead or a cold-blooded killer. Then she hugs him and tries to kiss him. He stops her and tells her that he can be there for her, but not “there” there for her.

Faith: “You love her, don’t you?”

Angel: “I love her.”

Faith: “Good for you. The two of you. Lucky. Friends?”

Angel: “We’re friends.”

Faith: “Then I’m lucky, too.”

So, here’s the thing. Spoiler alert, she was trying to get with him because The Mayor told her to. But this entire exchange about how she doesn’t have to be a killer and that Angel is her friend is really necessary considering the events that take place in Angel season one. Or maybe two. But I’m almost 100% that it’s season one. We’ll get there, anyway, since I’ll be recapping Angel in tandem with Buffy once we get to the end of this season.

Okay, so, Faith gives Angel a kiss on the cheek and leaves, and Buffy gets there just in time to see it go down. Rather than going inside and being like, “Hey, what was that about,” she backs away.

In Faith’s apartment, The Mayor can’t understand why Angel wouldn’t want to be with Faith. He sent her there to give Angel a “moment of true happiness,” so he’ll lose his soul. Okay, so we’re still operating on the “moment of true happiness means orgasm” thing in this season (I’m pretty sure that changes in season five of Angel, when he gets the werewolf girlfriend). Since Angel won’t give it up to Faith, The Mayor plans a different way to rob Angel of his soul. I’m not entirely sure why The Mayor needs Angel’s soul, but I’m sure that will all be revealed.

In the library, Wesley and Giles are researching the whole ascension thing and coming up with nothing. When Giles mentions calling the council, Wesley is like, yeah, not a great idea, because they don’t actually know that you’re  working on this with me. Ooh, are we beginning to see Wesley becoming a practical Watcher instead of an ideologically pure Watcher?

Then Buffy comes in wearing what appears to be a bridesmaid’s dress over a long-sleeved t-shirt. I don’t want to sound like Giles here (because he’s cruelly unfair about ’90s teen fashion and that hits me right in the nostalgia), but it’s really a ridiculous outfit:

Buffy is wearing a navy blue, sleeveless boatneck dress over what appears to be a magenta t-shirt. Upon closer inspection, it's some kind of chiffon. But it still looks super weird and her modern beehive hairdo is not helping the cause.

Wesley tells Buffy to find the demon who has the Books of Ascension, but that she needs to do this with Faith:

Buffy: “That could be hours. The girl makes Godot look punctual.”

Okay, now, look. I’m not saying Waiting For Godot is “out of date” given its status as a timeless classic, but I do have to call at least half a #24 on this one because I don’t think Buffy is in a position where she would be familiar with the work of Samuel Beckett. She’s not in drama club, and her grades aren’t good enough for AP English. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that when I was trying to get a better screencap of the truly awful magenta color of Buffy’s top, I got this instead:

Giles, touching his mouth while he's thinking.

So you’re all very welcome. Anyway, Wesley says that Buffy needs Faith because this demon is going to be super hard to find. Then Xander comes in and is like, “Found your demon.” Xander claims he beat up Willy the Snitch but then admits that he bribed him. A bribe for which he’s not going to get reimbursed, because, as Giles points out, he didn’t get a receipt. Buffy recognizes the address as being near the bus station.

Giles: “Again, see? No standards. I mean, any self-respecting demon should be living in a pit of filth or a nice crypt!”

These damn kids these days, I tell ya.

Faith arrives, and she and Buffy have a chilly encounter before they set off to find the demon. Faith obviously already knows that they guy is dead and why, but she goes with Buffy anyway and tries to act shocked by the discovery of the body. And she’s not great at not seeming suspicious. At City Hall, The Mayor meets with a silent, shadowy figure who isn’t real chatty.

shadowy evil guy

I’m inclined to call this costume a #17. It looks a lot like a burka, and it’s used to make him intentionally scary. That said, this was before Islamophobia really ramped up in the U.S. and now I’m on the other side of 2000. I could be reading too much into it. But things like costume choices aren’t made in a bubble, and this was picked to make the audience look uneasy, so maybe I’m not reading too much into it? I’m on the fence.

Anyway, they have this conversation, carried out in mainly nods and headshakes:

The Mayor: “You know why I’ve summoned you. Can you do it? Need anything from me? You’re not much of a people person, are you?”

Shadowy Evil Man: “You have risked great danger in calling on me. The deadliest magics are needed to rob this creature of its soul.”

Oh shit, he’s serious about stealing Angel’s soul, then. Why, I’m not sure. To kill Buffy? Or does he need him for something else?

At school, Willow asks Buffy why she’s so mopey, and Buffy spills about seeing her at Angel’s house.

Willow: “No way. I know what you’re thinking and no way.”

Buffy: “You’re right, Faith would never do that.”

Willow: “Faith would totally do that. Faith was built to do that. She’s the do that girl.”

Buffy: “Comfort. Remember, comfort here?”

Willow: “I mean, please. Does Angel come up to Faith’s standards for a guy? Let’s see, is he breathing?”

Buffy: “Actually, no.”

Bullshit. He breathes all the time.

But that’s not the point. The point Willow is trying to make is that Angel loves Buffy, and no matter what Faith might try to do to get in his pants, the answer is always going to be no. But Buffy isn’t sure because she doubts his love for her.

Willow: “Buffy, I too know the love of a taciturn man. You have to look at their actions.”

Buffy admits she didn’t even ask Angel what was up with Faith, and Willow shuts her right down, telling her to go talk to Angel immediately.

Okay, I need to talk about Willow a little bit here. We know that Willow isn’t a big fan of Faith because she not only has a shared bond with Buffy but because she also slept with Xander. But let’s be real here: the only person in this conversation who has ever cheated or helped someone cheat on their partner was Willow. Even Faith, for all the sluttiness for which we are meant to despise her, has never done that. So get off that high horse, Willow. People in glass houses, etc.

Faith shows up at Angel’s house claiming that she wants to apologize for the way she acted the last time she was there. And there’s an interesting line here:

Faith: “Look, I’m not so good at apologies. Mostly cause I think the world is out to screw me, so I’m generally more owed than owing. But I’ve been thinking about last night and I want you to know that I’m really sorry.”

Even though we know the context is disingenuous, the words are spot on. She really does seem to feel that the world is out to screw her over. The question is how much of this is Faith pulling from actual introspection, and how much is something she just thinks she should say? How much of it is stuff other people have said to her, but that she doesn’t really believe?

Faith is a complex and interesting character. So isn’t it a relief that she was boiled down to threatening sexual confidence and little else?

She keeps trying to get close to Angel physically, but he’s not into it. She pulls out the “poor me, nobody trusts me card,” which Angel can sympathize with. When he approaches her and tells her that it’s cool, he does trust her, she calls him a chump and throws blood on him. Shadowy guy appears from…the shadows. Where shadowy people do their shadowy dealings. Don’t question my word repetition.

Anyway, shadowy guy starts chanting and we see all the swirling blue light 1990’s television technology can provide. The end result?

Angel has his monster face on.

So, he’s evil again. Which we also can tell because he grabs Faith and starts passionately making out with her. So much that it lasts through the entire commercial break. When we come back, he starts beating the crap out of her and monologuing as he does it.

Angel: “It’s good to have the taste of a Slayer back in my mouth. It’s like cigarettes, you know? Just when I thought I quit… No, really. Don’t get up. Oh, it’s good to be back in Sunnydale. Nice climate. Plenty to eat. No tortured humanity to hold me down. But you know what bothers me? You don’t seem to be getting the big picture here, Faith. Now, I don’t know why you turned me, but let me tell ya, I’m just glad you did.”

Faith: “I got my reasons.”

Angel: “Let me guess. You summoned back the true Angelus because you need a new boy toy. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.”

So, I think everybody is pretty clear on the fact that I don’t buy the “Angel and Angelus are two entirely separate entities” thing. That’s more fanon than canon, and while I love me some fanon, that’s one I don’t subscribe to. Especially when, spoiler alert, he’s not actually soulless here and is just pretending. If Angelus and Angel are two completely separate beings and innocent, kind Angel just gets possessed by the demon Angelus, why is Angel so good at being Angelus here?

The same thing happened to Giles in fandom, as well. Fans somehow took the nickname Ripper and paired it with the fact that Giles has a scary and morally ambiguous temper and crafted this other persona like he’s not responsible for his own, sometimes violent, choices. It’s almost like because the show allows for no deviation from black-and-white morality, fandom adjusted accordingly to fill in the gaps.

Anyway, Faith tells Angel that if he wants to live, he should listen to her and join up with “the real power,” a.k.a., The Mayor.

In the library, the Scoobies–now including Cordelia because she’s so hot for Wesley that she’s willing to hang out with them again–work on the next stage of the plan, which includes stealing the Books of Ascension. Buffy mentions that Faith and Angel are missing, but they have a bigger problem. The Mayor has already had his files encrypted, so Willow can’t get any information that way. They decide to break into the hall of records.

Faith takes Angel to City Hall, where he meets The Mayor. And tries to stab him through the heart with a letter opener. Because Angel is all about the good first impressions. But it’s important because now Angel knows that The Mayor a) wants to kill Buffy, and b) can’t be killed in hand-to-hand combat. The Mayor sends Faith and Angel out to kill Buffy. Slowly, because they don’t want another replacement Slayer popping up.

But wait, would that happen? Faith is in Buffy’s downline, right? When Kendra died, Faith was called, but Kendra only existed in the first place because Buffy died. With Faith still alive, wouldn’t the Slayer line remain unbroken? Buffy would just go back to being dead the way the Slayer power thought she was in the first place, right?

I don’t know, that makes sense to me, but I also don’t make the rules.

Anyway, The Mayor tells Angel to have Faith home by eleven, and the two of them hit the streets. And also Xander. Because while he’s stalking through Sunnydale, muttering to himself about Cordelia’s worship of Wesley, he finds Faith and Angel. Thinking they’re still on his side, he approaches them, only to have Angel punch him in the face without so much as breaking his stride.

Angel: “That guy just bugs me.”

Again, Angel isn’t really soulless at all. And he just chose to punch Xander out cold in the street and leave him there for whatever vampire to come along and get a midnight bite. I think this qualifies as #9, even though Angel is deep undercover. But I’m not blaming him. Xander has advocated for murdering him before.

Talk shit, get hit, Xander.

Faith and Angel show up at the Summers residence, and of course Joyce, without knowing that Angel and Faith are evil (well, at least Faith is), lets them right in. Angel notices that Joyce has gotten highlights, and compliments her. I think that should have been our first clue, right there, that he wasn’t evil. I’m not saying everyone who doesn’t notice or comment on new highlights are evil, but highlights are expensive and it’s nice when they’re appreciated. Only a truly evil person would intentionally ignore them.

Buffy is wigged to see Angel and Faith together, but she goes with them to the mansion, where the Books of Ascension are. Once they arrive, she notices that Angel is behaving strangely when he calls her “Buff” instead of Buffy (something he only did when he was evil).

Buffy: “What’s the matter with you?”

Angel: “Nothing. Matter of fact, I haven’t felt this good in a long time.”

I love that having a good day or not feeling sad is a clue that Angel has become evil. “He’s not brooding in candlelit darkness, reading poetry and loathing himself! This is so unlike him!”

Angel: “You know, I never properly thanked you for sending me to hell.”

Buffy: “No…”

Angel: “Yeah, and I’m just wondering, where do I start? Card? Fruit basket? Evisceration?”

Buffy: “No.”

Angel: “Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Maybe there’s still some good deep down inside of me. That remembers and loves you. If only you could reach me. Then again, we have reality.”

You’re expecting Buffy to crumble, right?

Buffy: “I will kill you before I let you touch me.”

BAM! She’s done the evil Angel horror show and she is not going to catch it again at the matinee. She warns Faith that they have to run, but Faith is like, nah, I’m evil now too. Angel drops Buffy with one punch, which should be a red flag; punching out Xander, not a big deal. Punching out a Slayer the same way? Faith is too drunk on revenge to see how unlikely that is. I’m not even going to put this down as #16, because she could be faking here.

At the hall of records, Oz finds something really interesting about The Mayor. Like, a picture that’s over 100 years old, with The Mayor in it.

Willow: “Whoa. Like father, like son.”

Oz: “How about exact same guy like exact same guy?”

Now they know that The Mayor isn’t human. This entire episode is the big fact-finding mission we’ve really needed since like, three episodes ago.

Xander comes in:

Xander: “I, uh, hate to spoil the mood, but this is so much worse than you think.”

Willow: “Xander, what happened to you?”

Xander: “You know how some people hate to say I told you so? Not me. I told you so. Angel’s back, in the really bad sense. And, um, I told you so.”

Xander lays the blame for all of this squarely on Wesley since Faith was his Slayer. But like, shut the fuck up, Xander. You’re so damn smug because the guy who swooped in and got the girl you wanted first is evil and might possibly kill, you know. Everyone. Why would that make you happy? Just so you can be right? Or because now Buffy might run into your arms as a last resort? Angel as a character bores me so much on Buffy that I almost actively hate him (until he gets to his own show), but Xander’s constant need to prove that Angel is bad is rooted directly in #5.

At the mansion, Angel shackles Buffy to the wall. I gotta ask again, why does he have shackles pre-installed in his house? For once, it’s not Angel monologuing in a scene. It’s Faith, and she actually makes me feel bad for her.

Faith: “Maybe it’s one of those unhappy childhood things. See, when I was a kid I used to beg my mom for a dog. Didn’t matter what kind. I just wanted something, you know. To love. A dog’s all I wanted. Well, that and toys. But mom was so busy, you know, enjoying the drinking and passing out parts of life that I never really got what I wanted. Until now.”

During her speech, she makes out with Angel and reveals her “toys,” a ton of stainless steel surgical instruments she plans to use to torture Buffy to death. But getting beyond that, this little speech explains so much. So, so much more than any of her overt sexuality or hatred of men ever could. Faith wants to be loved, but she’s so damaged that she pushes everyone away. She tries to fit in with the Scoobies and that doesn’t work, so of course The Mayor, who positions himself firmly as a father figure, is going to appeal to Faith. She’s finally feeling what she assumes is love. This brings us back to how the world “owes” her, from her fake apology from before. Finally, she thinks, the scales are balanced, so retribution is going to naturally follow.

Thank god, Faith gets to be a friggin’ complex character after almost an entire season of being a walking bad girl cliché.

Buffy tries to warn Faith about what will happen if she sticks with Angel:

Buffy: “Faith, listen to me very closely. Angel is a killer. When he’s done with me, he’ll turn on you.”

Angel: “She’s right. I probably will.”

I kind of wish Angel was like this all the time. Not, you know, evil. But the way he is when he’s evil. Because he’s hilarious like this.

Buffy asks Faith what’s in all this for her:

Faith: “You know, I come to Sunnydale, I’m a Slayer, I do my job kicking ass better than anyone. What do I hear about everywhere I go? Buffy. So I Slay. I behave. I do the good little girl routine and who does everybody thank? Buffy.”

Buffy: “That’s not my fault.”

Faith: “Everyone always asks, ‘Why can’t you be more like Buffy?’ But did anyone ever ask if you could be more like me?”

Angel: “You know I didn’t.”

Faith: “You get the Watcher. You get the mom. You get the little Scooby gang. What do I get? Jack squat. This was supposed to be my town!”

There we go. It’s not that Faith hates Buffy. Faith might have actually liked Buffy if their circumstances were different. But Faith saw being the Slayer as being special, and her calling, the only thing she’s good at, was robbed from her by someone who gets all the praise and recognition. Being the Slayer was the last shot Faith had at being loved. But no, her Watcher gets murdered or goes evil or is just an ineffectual parody of what a Watcher should be, while Buffy gets guidance and counsel from a Watcher who’s looking out for what’s best for her instead of what’s best for the council. Faith had a crappy mom, so from her perspective, Joyce is a great parent just by being sober and being present. She didn’t fit in with Buffy’s friends, despite desperately wanting to. Faith doesn’t hate Buffy because she’s Buffy. She hates Buffy because she can’t be Buffy.

Faith: “Do you think you’re better than me? Do you? Say it. You think you’re better than me.”

Buffy: “I am. Always have been.”

Don’t ask a question you don’t want the answer to, Faith.

Buffy goes on to taunt Faith about how she only got Angel through magic and other totally emotionally devastating stuff.

Buffy: “You had to tie me up to beat me. There’s a word for people like you, Faith. Loser.”

Buffy also tells Faith that she’s going to stop the Ascension, which Faith laughs off as impossible.

Faith: “No one can stop the Ascension. Mayor’s got it wired, B. He built this town for demons to feed on and come graduation day, he’s gettin’ paid. And I’ll be sitting at his right hand. Assuming he has hands after the transformation. I’m not too clear on that part. And all your little lame ass friends are going to be Kibbles and Bits. Think about that when your boyfriend’s  cutting into you.”

Buffy: “I never knew you had so much rage in you.”

Faith: “What can I say? I’m the world’s best actor.”

Angel: “Second best.”

Oh shit. Faith just spilled all the beans. Every bean is now on the floor. Beans have gone everywhere. So many beans.

And the reveal is in slow motion, so you know shit is serious. Faith is like, “you played me!” but no, you played yourself. The Scoobies burst through the doors as Faith goes after Buffy, and they both end up with scalpels to each other’s throats. Which is exactly why you don’t keep surgical tools in places where fistfights are common.

Faith: “What are you gonna do, B? Kill me?”

Screenshot of a news report that says "Quote from man stabbed" above "'What are you gonna do, stab me?'"

 

But she doesn’t kill Faith because, as Faith points out, if Buffy kills her, that makes Buffy like her, and that’s not something Buffy can handle. Then Faith kisses Buffy on the forehead and runs away.

Back at the library, the shadowy figure guy and Giles are talking:

Shadowy Guy: “The task is finished.”

Giles: “Yes. Thank you for coming to me. And for that rather effective light show you put on.”

Shadowy Guy: “This restores the balance between us, Rupert Giles. My debt to you is now repaid in full. Do not call upon me again.”

Then Shadowy guy fades away, while Giles looks on fondly.

Willow: “His debt to you is repaid? What did you do?”

Giles: “I introduced him to his wife.”

Okay, this raises questions of the “Giles has a much stranger life than we ever could have imagined” variety. At some point in his past, he was hanging out with demon-types socially. And we knew he was doing dark magic and shit when he was younger, but not necessarily like, going to parties and hanging out with unholy forces and fixing them up and what not.

Wesley is pissed off because he was out of the loop on the plan, which he believed dangerously pitted the Slayers against each other. He says he’s going to tell the council, and Giles is like, good, because rogue Slayers are dangerous. They’re all relieved that at least they know now that Faith really is evil and The Mayor has this plan. Also, isn’t it great that Angel isn’t evil? I mean, everything thinks this except for Xander, who’s pissed that Angel hit him when he wasn’t soulless. But honestly, Xander, you have a soul and you tried to kill him, albeit through Buffy. So maybe sometimes people just deserve to get punched.

Buffy is still disturbed to have seen Angel pretending to be evil. Probably because it was so easy for him.

At Faith’s apartment, which is way messier than it was last time, The Mayor consoles her over her failure.

The Mayor: “You don’t see me looking disappointed and you know why? Because I know that you’ll always have me, Faith. I’m the best and most important friend you’ll ever have.”

Then he tells her that all her so-called friends are going to die during the Ascension. Also, he’s taking her miniature golfing to make her feel better. And it does seem like it will.

The Mayor and Faith have such a cool relationship, honestly. We know that he really does care about her (despite threats to kill her if she fails, but come on, he’s evil) because of how he reacts to what happens to her later in the season. Faith only ever wanted someone to love? Well, here he is, and he loves her right back.

It’s too bad they’re trying to destroy the world.

At Angel’s house, he’s back to brooding. She’s right there with him because even though it was all pretend, seeing him acting evil has traumatized her. She needs a break.

Angel: “You still my girl?”

Buffy: “Always.”

And then Buffy leaves Angel to brood.

This is such a good, fast-paced episode. And it needed to be. A lot of this stuff seems like it should have been revealed a little sooner in the season, and now it’s been rushed into a single episode. But they still managed to deliver the exposition without being too obvious, which is a big plus in my opinion. Watching this episode for the first time, I didn’t see the story structure or what was coming. It was amazing, so it’s still amazing.

45 Comments

  1. Gehayi
    Gehayi

    It looks a lot like a burka, and it’s used to make him intentionally scary.

    I think he’s in a ninja costume. That strikes me as far more likely in the 1990s than a burka; there were a LOT of ninja movies back then.

    February 24, 2017
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    • Nanani
      Nanani

      Was about to say that.
      Still icky but not so much racist/othering – real ninjas didn’t dress like that, but it’s an iconic outfit in Japanese pop culture depictions of them as well as Western ones.
      In fact it’s kind of like depicting a knight as someone in metal plate and a feathered helm – knights who actually fought as opposed to posing for portraits and statues didn’t dress like that, but it’s still iconic.

      On the other hand, you could read “the bad guy is dressed in a FOREIGN scary costume” as being problematic in itself, so maybe not.

      February 24, 2017
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      • Sarah
        Sarah

        I also thought ninja. It could still be problematic if he didn’t turn out to be working with Giles but this way it feels more like subverting the scary foreigner stereotype.

        February 25, 2017
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    • Jon
      Jon

      Being pedantic I think it looks more like a niqab than a burka, but I think, if we go with clothing traditionally linked with Islamic and Muslim majority countried, that it most closely resembles the face coverings worn by Tuaregs and other groups from that area rather than clothing usually called a veil.

      Regardless of which cultural origin it might or might not be referencing I am reminded of the idea the European cultures (and therefore much of America) finds covering the face to be far more threatening than it is seen in many other places. Not sure who well this idea stacks up across various times and places but Simon Shama once argued that aventails made the knights who killed Becket look extra scary!

      February 25, 2017
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  2. Renee
    Renee

    “Okay, now, look. I’m not saying Waiting For Godot is “out of date” given its status as a timeless classic, but I do have to call at least half a #24 on this one because I don’t think Buffy is in a position where she would be familiar with the work of Samuel Beckett. She’s not in drama club, and her grades aren’t good enough for AP English.”

    I knew about it at that age because of my parents talking about it. I’ve never actually read or watched it, but I get the reference. Also, why would she have to be in AP English to have been exposed to it?

    “I’m inclined to call this costume a #17. It looks a lot like a burka, and it’s used to make him intentionally scary. That said, this was before Islamophobia really ramped up in the U.S. and now I’m on the other side of 2000. I could be reading too much into it. But things like costume choices aren’t made in a bubble, and this was picked to make the audience look uneasy, so maybe I’m not reading too much into it? I’m on the fence.”

    Considering this character turned out to be on the side of good …

    February 24, 2017
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    • Mel
      Mel

      I guess with Waiting for Godot it depends on your background as to whether you’d been exposed to it or not. I read it for the first time in a unit for my degree last year. Before that I’d never before read Beckett, although I’d heard of him. I don’t know what they were teaching kids in high school back in the 90’s but we never did anything that deep, unfortunately. Now at least when I rewatch this episode I’ll get that reference.

      February 25, 2017
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      • Renee
        Renee

        It would depend on your school and even individual teachers. I graduated in 1995, so I know what at least my school and specific teachers were teaching. We got pretty deep.

        But like I said, I knew this one from my parents. It’s not impossible that Buffy knew it somehow even without actually reading it.

        February 25, 2017
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        • Jemmy
          Jemmy

          Yeah I’ve heard of “Waiting for Godot” but I’ve never read it and couldn’t tell you who wrote it or what it was about. Basically I know enough to get the reference and did so when the show aired (I was probably mid 20s at that stage).
          Buffy’s mother runs a gallery, it’s possible she’s been exposed to the arts in her home environment rather than school as well.

          February 25, 2017
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      • Casey
        Casey

        I didn’t read it until my third year of college, and I’m an English major. Then again, I also knew prior to that that Godot was someone you were supposed to be waiting for a long time. But that was thanks to the Internet (sort of like how I know about 10,000 Always Sunny & Simpsons jokes without ever having watched the shows), so I’m not sure in the pop culture information wasteland that was the 90s, that Buffy would’ve been exposed to it if she didn’t actively seek it out or was assigned it.

        February 27, 2017
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        • Renee
          Renee

          I have an English degree and have never read it. I also went to high school AND college before and in the very early stages of the Internet. It’s not 100% definite everyone is exposed to it, but it isn’t that out of the realm of possibility that Buffy had some idea about it.

          And also, having never read it, I still know (and knew before Google existed) that “Godot” is a metaphor for “God.” 🙂

          It’s classic lit, so it comes up every once in a while. It’s probably been on Jeopardy a few times, even.

          February 27, 2017
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  3. Laina
    Laina

    “But wait, would that happen? Faith is in Buffy’s downline, right? When Kendra died, Faith was called, but Kendra only existed in the first place because Buffy died. With Faith still alive, wouldn’t the Slayer line remain unbroken? Buffy would just go back to being dead the way the Slayer power thought she was in the first place, right?”

    YES EXACTLY. Because okay giant spoiler I can’t say this in good faith without a spoiler warning but yeah when Buffy dies in Season 5 there’s not another Slayer called!! Buffy now has no effect on the Slayer line, and Faith is the “Active” Slayer that does.

    February 24, 2017
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    • Laina
      Laina

      Also big yes on that ace erasal thing (while also acknowledging that some ace peeps have sex drives and have sex and lack of a sex drive or having sex does not automatically equal asexual). Giant. Yes.

      February 24, 2017
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    • Sushi
      Sushi

      I think it’s been implied that the two Slayers situation is something that’s never happened before, ever, so it could just be that the Mayor’s being cautious because he just doesn’t know. Nobody knows. They can make logical guesses, but if you’re on the side of evil, why risk it?

      February 24, 2017
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      • Laina
        Laina

        Yeah, but I wasn’t answering the Mayor, I was answering Jenny 😛

        February 24, 2017
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    • Jemmy
      Jemmy

      Yup, as far as I know, the Slayer’s death only triggers the next Slayer once based on subsequent events. The two Slayers is temporary, the situation will correct itself back to the standard one Slayer once Buffy dies permanently.

      As long as nothing messes with the line of Slayers.

      February 25, 2017
      |Reply
  4. annie
    annie

    WARNING: “ANGEL” SPOILER AHEAD!!!

    Watching “Angel” now and while he constantly does the brooding-i’m-a-lone-wolf routine all over the place, I feel like that show touches on a lot of heavier issues than Buffy does sometimes. REALLY looking forward to your covering this show as well.

    Also there’s at least a couple scenes where Angel and Darla are fighting later on in the series and Angel keeps trying to strangle her or go for the throat and she constantly points out that “we’re vampires, we don’t breathe!”. So at least that issue gets addressed in that series.

    February 24, 2017
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  5. Brittany
    Brittany

    Unless it’s a problem with my computer (which is totally possible), I think there is a section that is doubled starting at this sentence:

    Cordelia interrupts to ask Wesley out under the guise of needing a tutor.

    Love the Buffy rewatch!

    February 24, 2017
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    • Jen
      Jen

      Naw, I see it too, I think it’s a formatting issue or something.

      This entire section is doubled.

      ‘Cordelia interrupts to ask Wesley out under the guise of needing a tutor. Again, I have to wonder why and how Sunnydale High has not noticed this man hanging around the school all the time without any demonstrable excuse to be there. If he starts dating a student, will they notice then? (

      Cordelia interrupts to ask Wesley out under the guise of needing a tutor. Again, I have to wonder why and how Sunnydale High has not noticed this man hanging around the school all the time without any demonstrable excuse to be there. If he starts dating a student, will they notice then? (#8) After Cordelia leaves, Wesley suggests they find the demon and persuade him to lend them the books. Because Wesley is nothing if not naive about every conceivable way the world works. Buffy says Faith would be better at

      After Cordelia leaves, Wesley suggests they find the demon and persuade him to lend them the books. Because Wesley is nothing if not naive about every conceivable way the world works. Buffy says Faith would be better at persuading but they don’t know where she is.’

      February 25, 2017
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      • Casey
        Casey

        I actually have 2 sections doubled. I’m guessing the hosting site shit the bed?

        February 27, 2017
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    • Laina
      Laina

      WordPress issue. There were two more that Jenny fixed already. She’s probably gonna wake up to this and cry now 😛

      February 25, 2017
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  6. Mel
    Mel

    “If Angelus and Angel are two completely separate beings and innocent, kind Angel just gets possessed by the demon Angelus, why is Angel so good at being Angelus here?” – Good question. One I asked myself when I saw the same scene for the first time. Also, when Angel’s soul was returned to him at the end of season 2 he acted like he hadn’t seen Buffy for months. But Angelus is always riffing on what it was like to be human and how he hated it. I don’t get it. Can Angelus remember what it’s like to be Angel, but not the other way around? Or was Angel lying about not remembering what it’s like without a soul? I definitely beginning to think it’s the latter.

    Also, I think you might have hit the nail on the head about how Slayers are made. Buffy dies in the first season; Kendra is called. Kendra dies, Faith is called. But if Buffy dies again, is another Slayer called? I’m thinking no, because when she jumps off the tower in The Gift, no replacement Slayer is activated. You could say it’s because they’re using the Buffybot to fool the powers-that-be, but I don’t buy that, because Buffy was only dead for a minute the first time and Kendra was activated. So maybe the whole activation deal only happens once. So if Faith died (instead of winding up in a coma) another Slayer would show up, but Buffy’s reactivation powers have dried up. Thank you, Jenny … that was bugging me for a long time and that idea had never even occurred to me before you mentioned it. It was going to be something I would have asked Joss if I ever got the chance!

    February 25, 2017
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    • Emerald
      Emerald

      Angel isn’t lying about not being able to remember what happened while he was soulless, it’s just takes a little while for it all to come back to him.

      February 26, 2017
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  7. candy apple
    candy apple

    I’ll be recapping Angel in tandem with Buffy once we get to the end of this season.

    Cool!

    February 25, 2017
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  8. Dollface
    Dollface

    I really like the fact that you take the time to look at Faith properly here. You’re absolutely right, she would be such a good character if she was forced to be super sexual all the time as a character trait.
    However, I’m not sure how I feel about you doing Buffy and Angel in tandem. It sounds like way more work than I would want on my plate.

    February 25, 2017
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  9. Sadie
    Sadie

    I always justified the, “we don’t want another slayer” comment by rationalizing that the Mayor wasn’t really up on all of the inticracies of slayer ascension. Because when Kendra shows up, everybody is like, “Wait, what?” until they realize that Buffy had actually died. But it hasn’t ever occurred to them before, so I’m guessing the mayor is just studying the slayer cliff notes ever since he adopted Faith.

    As for Faith, she’s not exactly head of the class, so I can kind of buy that, too.

    So even if Angel knows better, (and he should) he’s not going to tell the mayor that, because obviously hr doesn’t want to kill Buffy.

    As others have pointed out, there’s no guarantee that Buffy dying a send time wouldn’t trigger another slayer.

    Shoddy work by the Watcher’s Council, if you ask me.

    February 26, 2017
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  10. These are coming so frequently lately! I love it! I’m so excited you’re going to do Angel as well – I couldn’t make it past episode 3 (I couldn’t take Angel’s character long enough for development to kick in and change my mind), but I’ve always wanted to know what happened. You recaps are engaging and thoughtful and I’m thrilled.

    February 26, 2017
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  11. Demons have wives too! And maybe even little baby-demons in burkas! Isn’t that adorable!

    February 26, 2017
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  12. yogacat
    yogacat

    Hi Jenny – There is a bit of messy editing errors just above and below where you talk about number 8

    RE: Burka- I see that and automatically think ninja. I see that costume and expect the demon to bust out some throwing stars.

    February 26, 2017
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  13. Emily
    Emily

    I always thought that the mayor wanted Angelus back because he occupied so much of Buffy’s time and energy the year before. A Buffy busy fighting Angelus is a Buffy who’s not fighting the mayor.

    February 27, 2017
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    • Sadie
      Sadie

      oooh, good point about why the mayor wants Angelus back, Emily!

      February 28, 2017
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  14. Casey
    Casey

    Your recaps are amazing, as always! Though they’re also painful to read, as someone who is still in the “ow reasonable criticism of the thing I love hurts my feelings” stage of Buffy-worship, they’re really insightful and, like all your posts, useful as a budding writer (of fanfiction, but still).

    I don’t know why I love the Buffy/Angel romance. It’s wrong for all the reasons you described, but it hits all of my shipping buttons and I just can’t explain it to you. I keep trying to come up with a defense, but I have nothing except wordless shrieking, because there’s really no justifying all of the wrong it contains.

    Willow seems to say the lion’s share of the slut-shaming stuff, doesn’t she? She can be real anti-woman for such a lovable character.

    Also excited for the Angel recaps! I’ve never watched it, because in true “ow my feelings” fashion, I heard that it completely fucks up Buffy’s character (someone who’d only seen Angel said that she seemed really whiny and useless. Which, yes she’s whiny, but she’s also wonderful and brave and funny). So I’ve been boycotting it instead of doing research and drawing my own conclusions, because apparently I’m actually 5 and not 24 years old. So reading about it will be really interesting, and might convince me to let go of my “Buffy is everything I’ve ever wanted to be” fan-worship enough to give it a chance. (Also, have you noticed how many Buffy fans don’t actually like her as a character very much? Maybe it’s just my friend groups, but most people I know were there for Giles, Spike, and Willow.)

    (Sorry this comment is so long. I just have lots of feelings.)

    February 27, 2017
    |Reply
    • fluffy
      fluffy

      Re: Willow often voicing anti-woman ideas– as a reformed/reforming “I’m not like the other girls” girl, I can see a lot of it stemming from that mentality.

      March 5, 2017
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      • Casey
        Casey

        Oh, totally agree! I was the same way in high school…

        March 5, 2017
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  15. To be fair, Soul’ed Angel was written much more like Soulless Angel minus the Evil Murderous Torture Intent back in the first two episodes (so I guess more like Season 5 Angel?)…then came back as this brooding, emo, tortured about EVERYTHING dude his next visitation.

    I clearly remember “fun” Soul’ed Angel, who was cracking jokes about the Harvest and Buffy being on time and being super cryptic with his advice so Buffy had to figure it out on her own. Why they felt a need to make him into “LIFE IS PAIN” Angel is beyond me. I mean Harmony was still basically Harmony when she was turned, Spike was still basically William just twisted, why couldn’t Angel still be like Angelus just without the murderous glee?

    February 27, 2017
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    • Sadie
      Sadie

      Maybe because he has a soul? I mean that’s the whole thing that’s supposed to make it acrylamide for Buffy to love him. He also spent like a hundred years in a hell dimension after she killed him at the end of season 2. Hence the brooding.

      March 7, 2017
      |Reply
  16. Vivacia K. Ahwen
    Vivacia K. Ahwen

    “He’s one of those wacky, ‘geez, lady!’ demons that this show seems to love. Porkpie hat, zany printed shirt, cracking wise…it’s like there’s a huge contingent of demons who materialize straight from Reddit or 4chan. “*

    So that was The Best.

    * Xander is secretly in that crowd, and also was a Gamergate Twitter Troll.

    February 28, 2017
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  17. Anon123
    Anon123

    My new headcanon: Reddit is now the Hellmouth. Thanks for that one, Jenny. 🙂

    Also, I loved your analysis of Faith in this one. Good stuff!

    March 1, 2017
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  18. =8)-DX
    =8)-DX

    Just a thought that occurred to me on the never-ending theme of “sex is bad” in Buffy. I mean it WAS targeted at and FOR teens. When me and my brothers bingewatched the first four seasons from DVD at our cousin’s house, we were rivetted: This was totally relatable: sex is immoral, dangerous, violent yet unescapably enticing. To like, have a good relationship and happy sex life seemed a utopian ideal surrounded by threats on all sides: STIs, teen pregnancy, sex addiction, impotency, rejection, **adulthood**, etc. which seemed just as frought with evil at the time as Sunnydale with its demons and vampires. Yeah, that’s exactly the bad way to do teenage sex-ed and a horrible approach to life in general, but it took me years to get to a place where I realized all the scaremongering was out of place. In those times, Buffy was a place of solace that understood our fears, made us jealous of the characters as well as strengthening our resolve that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes as the Scoobies…

    March 1, 2017
    |Reply
    • Casey
      Casey

      I hadn’t thought of it like that, but this makes total sense. Honestly, despite the ages of the characters, I tend to forget the show wasn’t aimed at adults.

      March 5, 2017
      |Reply
  19. Samantha
    Samantha

    You made my day much happier after you told here that you would recap the Angel series <3

    March 1, 2017
    |Reply
  20. Ilex
    Ilex

    We need to discuss how the sun rises and sets in Sunnydale.

    I’ve always thought many of the scenes on this show were filmed in daylight with some kind of filter to make it look dark, because you can clearly see shadows and contrasts in a lot of the “night” scenes that make it obvious it’s really daytime. So maybe in the scene where Faith stabs the demon, it’s just more obviously sunny than usual? It did sometimes leave me a bit confused about whether it was “supposed” to be day or night.

    March 2, 2017
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  21. Sigyn Wisch
    Sigyn Wisch

    Ehh… I don’t read the guy with the light show as xenophobia, precisely because in the end, he seems to be an illusionist, not an actual bad guy.

    Also, SPOILER ALERT – season 6 confirms that the slayer line reads Buffy as dead. Not sure if that makes this a plot hole or if they just didn’t want to waste time with ZOMG *ANOTHER* SLAYER in Season 6.

    I feel like the Mayor is the kind of guy who would be so wholesome if he wasn’t evil.

    March 6, 2017
    |Reply
  22. Flibberdejibbet
    Flibberdejibbet

    Ok, I just fist-pumped in bed because I’m so excited you’re recapping Angel alongside Buffy. Absolutely love your recaps!

    April 19, 2017
    |Reply
  23. Jessi
    Jessi

    I’ve always wondered: If Giles was owed a debt by soul-extracting guy… Why in the everloving fuck did he not call this guy when Angel was actually soulless and killing people?!

    June 28, 2017
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