In the seventh episode of the third season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, a surprise visitor to Sunnydale forces Giles, Faith, and Buffy to re-evaluate their roles. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
I’m finding that the episodes that I enjoy the most on Buffy are those that address the concept of identity. It’s not a theme that we’ve never seen before, but I also never feel like the show is repeating itself. “Revelations” is about how various characters respond to Gwendolyn Post, and how her appearance creates this ripple effect in terms of three specific characters. I’m actually going to split this up based on each character so that it’s easier to get my thoughts down, if you don’t mind.
This really is an agonizing episode to watch concerning her character. It starts off so good! God, how can I not ship Buffy/Faith after this episode? I mean, that first joke is just so beautiful to me. Why should Buffy and Faith date? BECAUSE WORLDS WOULD EXPLODE. I swear to you, during the cold open, I thought, “Wow, it’s so awesome to see them getting along. I like this a lot!” I SHOULD NOT HAVE THOUGHT THIS AT ALL. WHAT THE FUCK. WHY DID I DO THAT? It’s like Whedon knew years into the future, I would have that specific reaction, so he ruined everything in response.
The bulk of Mrs. Post’s ire and condescension isn’t for Buffy, as she reserves most of that for Giles and Faith. What Buffy then has to deal with while the others are coping with the appearance of this new Watcher is Angel. I admit that I would be just as confused as her by the situation with Angel. She’d moved on and accepted that he was dead, and now they’re doing Tai Ch’i and making out? SO FUCKING WEIRD. How exactly do you navigate something as complicated as that? There’s no real answer to that, and to me, that’s precisely why she kept it all a secret from her friends. She can barely process the fact that Angel has returned from Hell; how can she possibly know how the others will act? Even worse, what if she’s wrong? I don’t know that she could deal with the fallout from that.
It’s hard enough that she has to find ways to cope with her lingering feelings for Angel, unsure what she should do with him. It’s only made worse when Xander catches them. God, there could not be a worse person who could have made that discovery. I think I wouldn’t have disliked Xander’s stance as much if he didn’t make it out like he never disliked Angel because he represented someone in between Xander and Buffy. I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong per se; I think he and Willow make it clear that they’re hurt by Buffy concealing Angel from everyone, and that none of them know if Angel poses the same risk as he did before.
It’s seriously such a complex situation that it’s hard for me to decide how I feel on it at all. Obviously, I want to trust Buffy; I want her to make her own decisions and to have the support of others when she does. I found the idea that everyone was so increasingly obsessed with Buffy’s sexual experience with Angel to be a bit much. But then I have to remind myself that the canon of this show already set things up so that it might be possible for Angel to lose his soul again if he’s happy, and then my brain turns to mush because I can’t figure out this complicated moral soup.
I think that’s okay for the most part. It’s meant to be complicated and confusing, and it’s much more thoughtful to me that there are points each character makes that could be read as correct depending on how you look at it. It purposely draws out the drama because it’s so ambiguous. Who is making the right decision here?
Even if I thought that Buffy’s argument was the strongest, and even if I did ultimately trust her own judgment in this case, I can’t deny that when Giles expresses his disappointment, I didn’t really have anything to counter that. It’s a gutting moment because you can see how hurt Giles is. I’d forgotten about how Angelus treated Giles. Can you blame the guy for feeling slighted because Buffy didn’t tell him that the guy who tortured him for hours is back in town?
I’ll get to more of Giles in a bit, but for now, Buffy internalizes what Giles told her. It’s clear she wants Giles to feel like he is being respected, so she goes out of her way to make sure that she takes his advice and pursue Lagos. On top of that, she’s also distanced herself from Angel, even if it’s only temporary. It’s why she’s so upset when she discovers what Xander and Faith have planned regarding Angel later in the episode. She’s doing what she can to be respectful, but at the same time, she’s furious that, once again, no one trusts her judgment. You can see how pissed off she is when she fights Faith at the mansion. And look, I don’t like seeing Faith and Buffy fight, but sweet baby Gandalf, that was an incredibly choreographed fight scene. I WON’T LIE. IT WAS ENTERTAINING.
I’m fascinated by how the Angel/Buffy storyline is going to be treated in the future. It’s a relief that all the characters finally offer their trust to Buffy. (Well, except Cordelia.) But is Buffy just going to swear off a relationship with him, or take things further?
It’s always hard to hear criticism, and it’s even harder to hear it when someone’s just being rude about it. Mrs. Post is incredibly harsh on Giles, and I kind of despised the way she insulted his library. You know what makes it worse? SHE WAS THE VILLAIN ALL ALONG. So she insulted him just because she could. OH GOD.
Giles has always sort of been the black sheep of the Scoobies because his job is basically to herd cats. That’s my metaphor for the Scoobies and I’m sticking to it. He has to straddle between being strict and authoritative (which rarely happens), and being a friend to them. Granted, he’s been dealt a complicated situation after being assigned to Buffy as her Watcher, so I personally think he’s doing a fantastic job. Still, Giles is the kind of guy to be overly critical of himself, so Mrs. Post causes him to question his ability, his worth, and his intelligence more than usual.
It’s part of the reason why he is so upset at Buffy for hiding Angel from him. Obviously, the torture is the #1 reason, but I think he knows that he doesn’t have that much control over Buffy as he would want, and this situation demonstrates that. But how do you control someone like Buffy? Perhaps he doesn’t actually want to control her; perhaps he really just wants to trust her to do the right thing. Ultimately, he’s a respectful person, and Mrs. Post causes him to self-analyze a bit more than he’d like.
Yeah, hello, you just became the most interesting character on the show. We haven’t truly had much of her since she arrived in episode three, and this massive dose of her characterization is just heartbreaking. It actually kind of makes sense that she is around all the time; she’s such an independent person that I imagine she’s off doing her own thing. That independence streak directly clashes with the arrival of Mrs. Post, who represents order, cleanliness, and precision, things that Faith really isn’t a big fan of. Truthfully, she just doesn’t like anyone who has authority over her. She trusts herself and her own judgment over everyone and everything else, and inviting another person into that just doesn’t work for her.
My guess is this is why she does react in the way she does to Mrs. Post and Buffy. Just because a person is independent doesn’t mean they want to be alone all of the time. And I can relate to that a lot; I’m generally a self-imposed loner most of the time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up in an environment where I also developed an intense distaste for authority and for having to depend on other people. I just like being alone most of the time, but sometimes people misinterpret that as a desire to be ignored. I think Faith was a bit hurt when Mrs. Post reveals that the Scoobies had a meeting that didn’t involve her. Perhaps “hurt” is too strong of a word. She is left out. She isn’t considered.
At the heart of it is a contradiction that Faith has to deal with. On the one hand, she wants to do things her way and to trust herself. On the other, she’s lonely. How does she rectify the two? It’s why she lashes out so violently at the news that Angel is still alive. She’s angry that Buffy didn’t trust her enough to tell her the truth, but then pissed off that Buffy has demonstrated any sort of dependence on another person. It’s not really fair to Buffy, but I don’t think Faith is thinking of things in this way. She can’t even conceive of falling in love with a vampire, and, like the other characters, she refuses to just trust Buffy’s judgment.
This lack of trust is what gives us that final scene of “Revelations.” Faith sits alone in her motel room, refusing to trust anyone. She thinks she made a mistake in trusting Mrs. Post and Buffy. She believes she will be best on her own. And goddamn it, IT’S JUST SO FUCKING DEPRESSING. What a brilliant character turn, though. THIS IS SUCH GOOD TELEVISION.
There’s one last thing I wanted to bring up: Willow and Xander, you are GREATLY DISAPPOINTING ME WITH YOUR SHENANIGANS. It’s especially ironic given the fact that both of them, especially Xander, are up in arms about Buffy lying. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU TWO THINK YOU ARE DOING? Oh god, it’s only going to end in disaster, isn’t it? My heart is already pre-breaking for Cordy and Oz.
Death Count: 4 – The two vampires in the cold open, Lagos, and Gwendolyn Post. Total: 25