In the third episode of the third season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, IS THIS THE REAL LIFE? IS THIS JUST FANTASY? CAUGHT IN A LANDSLIDE, NO ESCAPE FROM REALITY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
OH MY GOD HOW IS THIS REAL!!!!!!!!!!!
Look, I totally forgot that when the Slayer dies, another one is called. That means for the foreseeable future, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE TWO SLAYERS ON THIS SHOW AT ONE TIME. oh my god OH MY GOD THIS IS SO COOL.
Okay, first things first: Eliza Dushku is SO YOUNG here. It’s like distracting because I’m like LOOK AT YOU YOU ARE SO ADORABLE AND FULL OF HOPE.
Second thing: Willow, this might be my favorite episode of yours. You are pursuing magic and it’s just so endearing and you are totally happy with Oz and this whole episode makes me want to hug you forever.
Oh god, I need to stop doing this because there are so many things I could separate out. Let’s just start from the beginning: We are getting new characters. I love it when shows introduce new characters when they move into a new season. (Let me take the chance to recommend Fringe again because they are the only show in the world to introduce new characters in the way that they do. Oh my god I can’t spoil you, but season three and four’s “new” characters are so beautiful I could weep.) I actually expected that Kakistos would become the multi-episode antagonist and that Mr. Trick would day, so color me surprised that this would be reversed. While Mr. Trick isn’t around long in the episode, I do get a different sort of characterization about him that I really like: he’s a vampire who wants to be modern. He wants to bring vampirism into the digital age, to use the Internet to stay connected to other vampires, and to bring about feeding for his fellow vampire consorts. It’s interesting, then, that he’s paired with one of the oldest vampires still living, one so hold he still has cloven hooves. That contrast is a great dynamic that I sort of wish was explored further. At the end of the day, though, I am much more intrigued by Mr. Trick, so I’m happy that he escaped. HE’S TOTALLY COMING BACK, RIGHT? omg please I would consider forgiving you for Jenny Calendar, Whedon. Note I said “consider.” That is still going to be a long, protracted process. ALLOW ME TO HEAL.
We’re still dealing with a serial narrative, too, though it’s not a mythological element. We see Buffy’s attempt to integrate back into her life, and I really love that this is also a slow process for her. (God could I project myself any harder into this story I SWEAR.) She has to find a way back into school, which also gives us a scene where Buffy and Joyce burn Principal Snyder and then angels sang a beautiful chorus when this happened and a new savior was born somewhere because HOLY SHIT THAT WAS SO PERFECT. On top of that, “Faith, Hope & Trick” also addresses the idea that Buffy might want to date again, and how that conflicts with the lingering emotions she has for Angel. Scott is a pretty neat guy, and I certainly agree with Oz that he gets extra points for utilizing “mosey” in a sentence more than once. But I find it weird that Willow pushes Buffy to date to get over Angel. This is wholly a personal thing because I have the dating history of a child, I SWEAR. Like, after I stop dating or seeing someone, I go months without even thinking of a guy except in like that way where I think Ryan Gosling is adorable and I just want to be text message buddies with him? PLEASE TELL ME OTHER PEOPLE DO THIS. I have these weird platonic crushes on people where I find them so attractive but I would NEVER want to sleep with them and I just want to be friends with them. Like I want to be buddies with Amy Poehler so badly and I think she is gorgeous? But I just want to text her after a particularly good sandwich, that’s all. Or like FUCK I JUST TOLD SOMEONE TO PUT MY RECEIPT IN MY HOLE AND I MEANT MY GROCERY BAG WHAT DO I DO.
No? Just me? Well, this is embarrassing.
The point I’m trying to make is that my whole experience with dating is so atypical that when I see stuff like this, I just can’t relate to it. I’m like YOU JUST KILLED YOUR BOYFRIEND. Why don’t you wait a year or five like I would??? That’s totally sensible and normal, right?!?!?!?!?!? Still, I think that perhaps Willow understands that Buffy might need to be pushed towards dealing with her emotions of Angel, and we later find out that Giles thought the same thing. Though that’s kind of odd, now that I think of it? Like forcing someone to come to terms with an issue of theirs by tricking them? I don’t know that I personally would be averse to someone doing that to me, but I would understand if someone else thought that was presumptuous.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve gone on a few hundred tangents. Let’s just talk about Faith. FAITH! Her introduction is just so sudden, so much different than Kendra. She just shows up, knows who Buffy is, stakes a vampire, then walks away, JUST LIKE THAT, leaving myself and all the Scoobies to just sort of sit there and wonder what the fuck just happened. We’re given a Slayer very much unlike both Buffy and Kendra. She’s far more brazen and excited about being a vampire slayer. There is one common denominator, and that’s Xander being attracted to a slayer. Writers, please stop doing this. It’s just boring at this point. I’m not even going to comment on it. Go back to being adorable with Cordelia.
It’s interesting that Faith is introduced at this point in the season because it definitely piggybacks on the emotions of “Dead Man’s Party.” Buffy had already dealt with feelings of inadequacy, and suddenly someone arrives in her life who can seemingly do everything she can do better, and all her friends and family are excited about this. I didn’t really feel like the show was repeating itself, though; it was more of an extension of what we’d seen before. I think my favorite aspect of this is Buffy’s conversation with her mother about the benefits of having a second slayer around. It’s why I’m glad that Faith survived the episode and appears to be staying. It really does add a new dynamic to the show that’s refreshing. Of course, it’s also during this conversation that Buffy accidentally reveals that she *may* have died at one point. AWKWARD. What we see here, though, is the attempt by both parties to work with one another by being honest. For a second, I was worried that this revelation might collapse everything these two had done. But even if it’s subtle, the two are willing to work things out in a way they never really could before.
Oh god, I just love Joyce Summers so much.
And you know what? I’m really fascinated by Faith as well. I love a good flawed character, and when the main flaw of Faith’s is revealed, she suddenly becomes such a better written character. IT’S SO INSTANTANEOUS. We see how Faith is not just ecstatic to be a Slayer; she has a penchant for extreme violence. Like holy crap, she beats the shit out of that vampire. (Bravo to Eliza Dushku, by the way, for making that scene seem so raw and brutal.) Even worse, she then insults Buffy after she’s called out for not helping Buffy.
Oh lord, this just got so good.
And really, there’s just so much that happens at this point. This reveal that Faith’s ego can be a dangerous thing is only made worse by a few things. I think Buffy’s biggest fear is not that she’s replaceable. I think it’s that her own suspicions are coming true. She is afraid that she really isn’t the best Slayer. She is afraid of inadequacy. I honestly think that you can read that subtext into the scene where Scott gives her the same friendship ring that Angel once gave her. Obviously, that is such a specific trigger for her, one that horrifies her so deeply that she starts crying immediately. But in the moments after it, I think it’s easy to imagine that she’s starting to worry that she really is inadequate after her experience with Angel. Even on a larger scale, I think a lot of us can relate to that feeling, can’t we? Have you ever just felt broken? As if your parts don’t match up and everyone else just seems to have it all together? Of course, this episode actively says that while someone (Faith) might seem to be perfect, we’ve all got issues and baggage under the surface that we have to deal with, and that’s okay that we do.
Whatever Faith and her now deceased Watcher went through isn’t told to us, and I wonder if we’ll ever find out now that Kakistos is dead. I imagine that whatever happened to her was so horrible that her Slayer lashed out in the way that she did. Honestly, it sounds like whatever Kakistos did was vicious and traumatic. I mean, look at how frightened Faith is when he arrives and when he attacks her in his temporary lair. (Again, major props to Dushku.) Something fucked up happened to her. What the hell was it?
Truthfully, Faith and Buffy really are a good fighting pair, and I think more than anything, I want to see this in the upcoming episodes.
Yet even after all of this, there are two huge reveals that have nothing to do with Faith at all. Given the way it was progressing, I honestly expected that Buffy would keep the info of the return of Angel’s soul to herself. That’s what I thought this was leading to, that in order for her to forgive herself, she would allow this one concession. Instead, she tells Giles and Willow, and it’s just such a heartbreaking scene. God, the guilt that spreads over Willow’s face when she realize what she inadvertently did to her best friend…FUCK. What a horrible thing to find out, especially because Willow was genuinely trying to do the best thing for Buffy, and it ironically ended up causing more pain.
Instead, Buffy realizes that honesty – with herself, with Joyce, with Faith, with her friends – is really how she’s going to get better. And so she returns to the mansion where she killed Angel, and she sets his ring on the floor. She has to leave him behind in order to move forward. Oh, my heart nearly burst from how sad this was because –
HOLY FUCK WHAT THE FUCK WHY IS ANGEL NAKED WHERE DID HE COME FROM WOW HELL MUST BE REALLY HOT BECAUSE HE’S SO SWEATY AND THAT IS LEADING TO A LOT OF INAPPROPRIATE THOUGHTS SO LET ME JUST SAY THAT WHAT THE FUCK WHAT THE FUCK ANGEL IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!
Dead People Count: 3. Three vampires killed, all by Faith. Why do I think this is wrong? Anyway, 9 total. I forgot to count one yesterday!