BTVS, Season 3, Episode 3
“Faith, Hope & Trick”
Written by: David Greenwalt
Directed by: James A. Contner
Blurb: A charismatic Slayer named Faith shows up in Sunnydale and quickly wins over Buffy’s mother and all of Buffy’s friends.
Scene 01: We open on a pan of Sunnydale High’s steps as students go about their day. We stop on two pairs of legs waiting on the steps. One pair of feet is bobbing. These would belong to Willow who is all smiles. Next to her is Oz. Wills says that she’s feeling giddy.
Willow’s joy is in her being a senior and the freedom to leave campus during lunch periods if she should choose to do so. Willow tells Oz that this is a big senior moment that needs to be savored.
Behind her and Oz come walking Xander and Cordelia. As Oz grabs Willow up under one arm, Xan does the same to her other side. It very quickly becomes apparent that Willow was not standing on the steps to savor the moment of sudden off-campus-for-lunch-freedom but because she still feels like she’s breaking a rule. She complains that they may have changed the rules for seniors unexpectedly, as Xan and Oz continue to carry her off the steps and off school grounds.
Scene 02: After they get Willow to stop panicking about her ‘unblemished record being marred with detention because they changed the rules without telling anyone and are lying in wait for her’, the gang make their way across a grassy park to where Buffy is laying out plates on a blanket.
Willow suggests maybe they shouldn’t be so coupley around Buffy. Cordy confirms this is due to Buffy’s love of her life turning into a vicious killer and having to be put down like a dog.
Oz counts down, and our couples unhook from one another’s arms.
Scene 03: Conversation with Buffy revolves around her still being banned from campus, but she has another meeting with Snyder the following day about what hoops will be required for her re-admission.
Willow spots a boy named Scott Hope nearby. She tells Buffy how Scott liked her before, but Willow didn’t bring it up because she felt that Buffy wasn’t ready for dating again. She thinks Buffy is ready to at least converse with an eye toward dating readiness.
Scott wanders by and gives Buffy a large smile and a “hi”, which Buffy returns. Willow is beside herself with happiness at how well this first meeting between them went.
Buffy at first warns that she’s not ready to think about dating, but then she reverses herself and admits that she’s in ready to forget about Angel-debacle and move forward.
Commentary: And it’s all jazzed up with extra Willow-cuteness, so I can appreciate the effort but none of this is fascinating. It feels like a weird scene to stretch on for an episode open.
Scene 04: In an uncomfortable time-shift, we’re suddenly at night. At a Sunnydale burger joint, ominous music plays. A limo pulls up into the drive-thru. Our limo passenger is a smooth, black man who is clearly talking to someone off-screen as he points out the features of the town, like its friendly people. He does mention Sunnydale’s singular lack of people of color, but otherwise the town is attractive, especially for its death rate and how nobody seems to make a complaint about it. He offers another ‘person’ in deep shadow that they could make themselves quite at home in the ‘dale.
Passenger is not impressed and doesn’t have plans to move in and make a home. He tells our gentleman that they’re there for one reason: Find and kill the Slayer. Our shadowed passenger goes on to brag about sucking marrow from bone, which gets our smooth business-suited man hungry.
He fangs out, and poor burger window employee is added to Sunnydale’s ridiculous death statistics.
Commentary: And does much to liven up the pre-credits opening. It’s immediately obvious that our vampire, who we’ll just call Mr. Trick right now, is going to be different than the vampires we’re used to seeing. He’s very modern, with limos and business suits and clearly not going to be setting up housekeeping in a crypt anytime soon. He’s also seemingly annoyed by his shadowed passenger’s one track mind.
Insert our rock-credits
Scene 05: When we return from credits, we join a night of The Bronze in progress. Buffy is swaying in the arms of a man. As he pulls back, we see that it’s Angel - marking this as another post-kill-my-boyfriend dream.
Buffy tells Angel that she misses him, as we watch Oz, Willow, Cordelia and Xander watching with blank looks on their faces. As Buffy lowers her hand to brush Angel’s, the ring that he gave her slips from her finger and drops to the ground. The sound of it hitting the floor causes consternation in Buffy and Angel, and he bends to retrieve it.
Angel gazes at Buffy with a horrified look on his face, as she stares at the ring. We enter flashback of Buffy’s running her sword through Angel and his disappearance into Acathla’s portal.
The Scoobies continue to stare at them with inexpressiveness.
Buffy tells Angel that she had to do what she did to him. The tears start threatening to come as Angel clenches his ring to her in his fist hard enough to cause blood to flow. He angrily tells Buffy that he loved her. As he begins to breathe heavily with emotion, we see blood begin to seep through his shirt in the place where she’d skewered him. Buffy reaches for him, but he shouts at her to go to hell. As he takes on zombie-face, he shares that he did.
Buffy startles awake.
Commentary: It’s only on retrospect that you can appreciate the hints of what is coming with this dream, which makes it much more interesting: Buffy’s guilt, of course. But also, the Scoobies being entirely unsympathetic to Buffy’s plight on seeing her with Angel again. It also tells Buffy that Angel isn’t dead, but is condemned to a hell dimension and even more importantly, that it will be the ring he gave her that will be a catalyst for his fate. It’s a great scene when you see that this wasn’t about watching Buffy suffer more post-BECOMING angst, but about what is coming up.
Scene 06: Buffy retrieves Angel’s ring from her nightstand, and holds/gazes at it for several moments, until Joyce interrupts her to ask if she’s ready to face down The Beast.
Scene 07: In this case, she’s referring to Snyder and we join him in his office. The Principal has had to back down on his plans to not allow Buffy re-entry to Sunnydale High, but he can make her jump through hoops. In addition to passing make up exams for the classes she skipped, she also needs to find a member of the staff - who is not an English Librarian - to write a ‘glowing’ letter of recommendation.
During this Buffy has snatched up a letter opener and is nervously fiddling with it. Snyder brings up Buffy’s requirement of visiting with the school psychologist who must assure Snyder that her violent impulses are under control enough for her to not be a threat to the other students. As he reaches this, he has come around his desk and snatched the letter opener back from her, gazing with obvious disappointment that there is any option for her return to classes.
Joyce tells Snyder that she doesn’t like his attitude and brings up her meeting with the school board [who apparently is not under the Mayor’s direct control as yet, unlike Snyder himself]. Snyder acknowledges that he has a legal obligation to educate all students “who aren’t in jail where she belongs” and chokes out an insincere ‘welcome back’.
Buffy pours salt in Snyder’s butt-hurt by pointing out that the School Board overriding him is sort of like having his ability to do his job questioned. Joyce shows us where Buffy has gotten her smartass mouth by adding a “nyah-nyah-nyah” singsong before she and Buffy leave under Snyder’s glare.
After they leave, as if on cue, the receptionist buzzes in to tell Snyder that the Mayor is waiting on the phone to speak with him. Snyder looks a bit worried at the prospect of speaking to him.
Scene 08: At lunch period, Willow and Buffy stroll into the library together with Wills overjoyed to have Buffy back.
Giles has summoned Buffy to the library to discuss Acathla. He has various inappropriate things laid out on the book check-out desk, which surely no one will notice except those already in the know, where he explains that they need to ensure that Acathla remains dormant and his portal sealed up.
At the mention of a sealing spell, Willow immediately geeks out about helping, but Giles tells her it’s very difficult and she can help with research-mode only. Giles goes on to ask Buffy specific questions about the final details before Angel’s defeat [but remember, right now, everyone is assuming that it was Angelus that she was defeating -- Buffy has kept the fact that Willow’s resouling spell worked at the worst possible moment to herself]. Buffy is flippant, but we know this is an act because of her continuing dreams about Angel confronting her for what she did to him.
Buffy rushes off to take her English make up exam, leaving Willow to geek out over the ingredients that Giles has on the counter and letting slip that she’s been doing some heavy duty researching of the black arts on her own time. Rupert warns Willow about the forces of magiks and tries to impress on her that they’re not for playing around with. She offers that she’s only been trying small stuff -- but the fire-out-of-ice spell doesn’t sound very small to me.
Commentary: And again in retrospect, this becomes the moment, I think, when we can say that Willow’s irresponsibility with magic begins. She really treats the whole spell casting as a sort of puzzle that she can assemble -- or like a computer program she can write on the fly. And this, as we all know, will lead to dire consequences eventually. Her not taking possible consequences fully into account begins with this cutesy scene and I love the way that we’ll still be taken by surprise when Willow really starts doing horrible things later because every time she acts irresponsibly until then, it’s always treated in a jokey manner, hiding what is being set up.
But, that’s all for the future. Right now, we’re meant to just think “awww… so cute-Willow”.
Scene 09: That evening, we’re in The Bronze. Various “kids” are dancing awkwardly [and yep, we include Faith in our scan - but we don’t know that yet]. In a corner, we see Willow and Oz making out, as Buffy arrives with drinks. Willow comments on Buffy’s happy glow and she offers that she passed her English exam and she feels like she’s getting back into her life again.
They’re “unexpectedly” joined by Scott Hope. Wills offers a happy “oh, what are you doing here” but Scott doesn’t grasp her ploy of ignorance and straight up says that she told him that if he arrived after eight, he’d run into Buffy there. Willow guilt-glances at Buffy, while Oz does his stoic almost-smirk. Scott tries to entice Buffy onto the dance floor, but she’s really not ready for the whole possible-date set-up thingie. He offers that he’ll just hang by the dance floor and that way if she suddenly feels ready to take up his offer, she can casually mosey over and if not, then it’ll be a ‘no harm-no foul’ sorta deal.
Willow pushes Buffy to get back on the socializing horse, and Oz offers that Scott deserves a bonus point for using ‘mosey’ but Buffy just isn’t ready.
Commentary: I don’t really like this set up because it just feels… off… for Willow to be pushing so hard for Buffy to date Scott. It’s only been months since Buffy’s killing of ‘Angelus’ and only a few weeks - at most - since she returned home from her traumatized jaunt to L.A.
It feels awkward, script-wise, to have Willow nearly aggressively pushing Buffy in random student’s arms after something as big as BECOMING so shortly in the characters’ pasts.
Scene 10: Thankfully for Buffy, a distraction presents itself in the form of Cordelia Chase arriving to complain about the disco-Dave on the dance floor flopping around to way-old moves. If his dance companion has noticed how deeply ‘Saturday Night Fever’ her date is, she doesn’t seem to mind it.
But Buffy, in keeping with her spying a vampire from his outfit in ‘Welcome to the Hellmouth’ suspects that Disco isn’t just out of step. At that moment though, he’s leading his date out of the club. Buffy gets up to follow.
As she approaches the exit, she’s delayed by Scott. He thinks that she rethought the dance floor thing and she has to awkward that she’s actually gotta run.
Scene 11: Outside The Bronze, Buffy looks around for Dave and his date. The gang have followed, with Xander carrying around a strikingly large stake. He hands this off to Buffy as sounds of a struggle echo down the alley.
Scene 12: In the alley, the vampire-Disco-Dave tells our brunette to stop struggling and assure her it won’t hurt. First, he’s a liar. Second, he’s so wrong… it’s going to hurt… a lot… for him.
Our brunette gives him a punch to the jaw that staggers him and follows it up with a kick to his face. As the gang arrive, Buffy watches in surprise as Faith doesn’t have any problems handling the vampire on her own.
The brunette introduces herself as Faith and already guesses Buffy’s identity. She tells Buffy that she’s got things handled. Oz guesses correctly that a new Slayer has arrived in town. Faith beats on her beau a bit before snatching the stake out of Buffy’s hand and staking the vampire. She hands the stake back to Buffy and waltzes past her, leaving confusion in her wake… and calling Buffy “B”, which will quickly wear on the nerves.
Scene 13: In The Bronze, Faith is sharing a wild tale of her Slayer exploits involving nude Slaying, a grateful hug by a Preacher and the inopportune arrival of the Boston PD. Xander is immediately captivated. Everyone else is just… overwhelmed by the personality hammer of Faith.
Faith stuffs her face with a muffin and asks Buffy about how crazy it is that Slaying makes them so hungry and horny at the same time. This leads to amused, questioning looks in Buffy’s direction.
Cordy brings up Faith’s replacement in the Slayer line due to Kendra’s demise. Willow questions why Faith was called to Sunnydale, but she tells the gang that her Watcher went off on a retreat and she’s used the opportunity to skip out. She wanted to meet her ‘infamous’ counterpart and compare notes while she had the chance.
Faith has heard about the rocket launcher attack and asks about it, but before Buffy can go over the amusing story, she gets interrupted by Xander who wants to hear more about Faith’s exploits… especially if it involves her Slaying in the nude again.
Faith starts to tell the tale, but Cordy interrupts to pointedly tell Xander to find a new theme. The second Slayer simply tells the gang that the vampire she fought in MO with alligators for pets was her toughest kill. She nonchalantly asks Buffy after her hardest fight. Naturally, this leads to flashback of Angel’s skewering. Buffy chooses to start telling the story of The Three, instead but is again interrupted. This time it’s Oz who is suddenly worried about Faith’s position on werewolves, but she assures him that as long as he doesn’t scratch up on her or try to hump her leg, there’ll be no problems between them.
Faith next tells Buffy that the vamps should get to DEFCON ONE since they’ve now get two Watcherless Slayers looking to have fun. This confuses Buffy as she has her Watcher in town still, which confuses Faith since she’d assumed that Giles would’ve gone to England.
Scene 14: Cut to the library, where Rupert reveals he wasn’t invited… and possibly has never been invited for reasons unrevealed.
Plans are made to investigate/patrol since two people abruptly vanished lately, and in Sunnydale that usually means evil activity. Buffy seems less than thrilled with having a Slaying partner now, or just slightly jealous over how her friends have immediately been taken with Faith’s enthusiasm and energy. They all leave the library with her, leaving Buffy to sit with Giles in the library.
Rupert takes the opportunity to bring up the binding of Acathla again, as Buffy’s reciting of what happened has not involved enough detail to work the spell properly and it is very exacting work.
Buffy again gives the minimum of details and stalls any follow up questioning by claiming she needs to study for another make up exam and warn her mother that Faith will be coming to dinner that evening. She rushes out, but promises that the next time she kills Angel, she’ll videotape it.
Commentary: So much going on in this episode -- which may be why it doesn’t rate higher for me. There just seems to be so much, but most of it isn’t really urgent to anything -- especially the Scott Hope parts. I think the episode was a little overstuffed and it may have been better to hold off on Scott until next episode and just focus on Angel-aftermath and Faith’s arrival in this one. Especially since we still have to include Mr. Trick and his employer and whatever big evil they’re bringing to the party and the tidbits with Snyder/the Mayor.
The episode, to me, feels like there is too much being mashed together to be entirely successful.
Scene 15: Meanwhile, Xander and Willow are showing Faith around Sunnydale High, highlighting all of the demonic fun they’ve had… ah, good times, good times.
Faith brings up Buffy’s seemingly wound up tight and wonder what the deal is. Before Willow and Xan can decide if they want to dive into the whole thing though, Faith gets distracted by a water fountain. Xan tells Willow how impressed he is with Faith so far, which Cordy overhears and complains about he and his thing for Slayers.
Meanwhile, Faith runs into Scott Hope and introduces herself to a familiar face. Buffy takes this moment to appear in the hallway, where she’s momentarily happy over passing another of Snyder’s mandated make up exams. But then she sees Faith doing some sorta flirty-smiley thing with her not-quite-boyfriend, Scott. She tells Wills and Xan that she hadn’t actually decided to not date Scott yet, but she was mulling it over. This earns a look between Willow and Xan, which Wills explains means that she should really find some fun in things… ‘B’…uffy.
Obvs, Buffy finds it less than amusing how Faith seems to be co-opting her friends.
Scene 16: Across town, in a garage we find Mr. Trick’s impatient boss. He’s a vampire, but one which is old enough to have taken on animal-like physical traits -- similar, but not the same as The Master. He’ll be known as Kakistos. And he’s in a pissy mood and not ready to be impressed by Trick’s mastery of modern technology. What he wants is Faith, as we find that she dealt him a wicked cut to his face, destroying one of his eyes. And he doesn’t really care if there are two Slayers in town or not, nor how it’s possible for there to be more than one. He wants Faith… period. And Trick had better procure her location.
As Mr. Trick tells Kakistos what he’s doing to locate Faith, a pizza delivery man drops by and becomes a meal.
Scene 17: At Buffy’s that evening Faith is regaling Joyce with tales of Slayerhood and how empowering it is. Faith is full of confidence - she always believes she’ll win, which Buffy points out isn’t always the way it works out. Faith tells Buffy that she doesn’t allow that sort of negative thinking to creep in, and Joyce agrees with Faith that it can be dangerous. She tells Buffy she should really work against her negativity… adding to Faith’s list of co-opted parts of Buffy’s life, and continuing to annoy. When Joyce leaves the table to refresh Faith’s Cola, Buffy follows.
Scene 18: In the kitchen Joyce tells Buffy that she likes Faith, and Buffy points out that everyone in her life seems to. She offers that Faith is starting to Single White Female her, but when Joyce asks her if anyone else is finding Faith creepy, Buffy has to admit not.
Joyce goes on to say how much better she feels knowing that Buffy will have help now with the demon fighting, and then offers that maybe Faith could take over full time since she loves it so much. Buffy, of course, argues that no one can ‘take over’ for her but Joyce suggests otherwise.
Buffy stumbles into admitting the only reason there is another Slayer called is because the predecessor gets killed, causing Joyce’s face to fall on realizing that Buffy must’ve died at some point and she didn’t know.
They bond over both of them not wanting Buffy to die for realsy.
Commentary: I’m really conflicted about this scene. It felt like the set up to Buffy’s reveal that she died was clumsily scripted into the conversation and I don’t like Joyce’s dialog initially -- it doesn’t feel nearly floored enough for this revelation. I do like when Joyce starts telling Buffy how much she hates her life, though and I do also like when she tells Buffy that she’s trying to march in the Slayer Pride parade, but she doesn’t want her to die.
I just wish that the whole scene had much more emotion to it. This should really shake up Joyce’s entire acceptance of Buffy’s calling, but the emotional punch just isn’t in this scene. It’s a bit of a disappointment.
Scene 19: After dinner, Buffy and Faith are patrolling Sunnydale’s quiet streets and alleys. Faith mentions them already walking down the street they’re on and Buffy sarcasms that the vampires tend to be rude about hitting a street even after it’s already been checked.
Faith passive-aggressives that Buffy has been doing this longer than her… before tossing out “maybe too long”. This gets Buffy irritated and their conversation quickly goes downhill; especially after Faith wonders if it’s the whole ‘Angel thing’ that has her acting like she has a stick up her ass. Buffy tells Faith to keep her mouth shut about anything involving Angel or anything else in her life [not to mention being pissed that her friends were talking about it with Faith].
Faith asks, “What are you getting so strung out about, B?”
Buffy’s answer: “Why are your lips still moving, F?”
So, yeah. Slayer harmony and tag team partnership isn’t off to a good start.
Before things can degrade to actual fisticuffs between the Slayers [OMG, I am so smirky-laughy-filled with joy at the thought of when I get to review their hand to hand combats!! It’s SO much fun!] a gang of vampires suddenly waylays them.
As they’re fighting with the vampires, Buffy notices that Faith is more interested in beating her vampire foe into hamburger instead of watching her fellow Slayer’s back and thinning out the numbers. Buffy’s distraction at pointing out to Faith that she could use a hand ends up with her on the ground and being held down by two vampires. One of the vamps tells Buffy that in Kakistos’ name, she’ll die while Buffy calls for Faith’s help.
Scene 20: When we return from a not-commercial break, Faith is still beating on the same vampire’s face while Buffy is struggling to get her hands around a conveniently stake-shaped piece of random wood on the ground. She’s successful, fortunately for her because her Slay-buddy is not gifted in the back-watching arena.
After Buffy gets her two out of the way, she walks over to Faith’s crazy-lady act and yanks her off and then gives hench-vamp a quick staking. Faith reacts mystified at Buffy’s anger over her wasting time on beating one vampire while his cohorts were busy cornering her, but Faith shrugs and tells her that she thought Buffy could handle herself before walking away leaving Buffy to huff in frustration.
Commentary: I love the way that we’re building Faith’s personality here because in retrospect, you can see everything that is going to go wrong and why starting right here with the friction between Buffy and Faith and their differing ways of doing things. It’s also pretty funny, because Buffy herself had to be told before by Giles to stop wasting time and to stake and move on. Now, Buffy is forced to take the same position that she initially teased Giles about.
Scene 21: The following day, Buffy has filled Giles in on Faith’s behavior and her concerns over what she witnessed. [Naturally, they speak freely in normal voices as they’re walking down the hallway with students wandering around.] Rupert tries to tell Buffy that Faith just has a different way of fighting, but he finally agrees to speak to Faith’s Watcher about her and see what shakes out.
In the meantime, Giles asks about any identifying attributes to trace this new gang’s lineage. Buffy fumbles through what she didn’t quite hear correctly, but it’s enough for Giles to work out that she means Kakistos. He dashes off to the library.
Scene 22: Buffy follows him to find out that Kakistos is a vampire old enough to have developed cloven hands and feet. She suggests that the timing of his arrival in Sunnydale on Faith’s heels can’t be a coincidence, but Rupert suggests that it could be random chance. Buffy decides to just mention him to Faith and see if she knows anything about him, while Giles tries to track down her Watcher at the retreat.
Scene 23: Buffy power walks down the hallway to find Faith, but she’s intercepted mid-stride by Scott Hope again hoping to talk to her about maybe dating sometime. Scott entices her to agree to see a Buster Keaton retrospective over the weekend.
But then he pulls out a “present”, which is a friendship ring in a box. And yes… it’s THE friendship/betrothed ring presented to her by Angel. Obviously, she does a complete freak out and drops it to the floor with a look like a ghost just walked over her grave. Rupert happens to be approaching and sees the spectacle, while Buffy tells Scott that she can’t “do this”. Scott tells her he gets the message and runs off embarrassed while Rupert puts his hand on Buffy’s arm, startling her. She assures him, unconvincingly, that she’s fine and asks him if he was able to get through to the retreat.
Giles tells her that he did, and he’s just found out that Faith’s Watcher isn’t at the retreat… but dead.
Commentary: This is another scene that just kinda bugs. The entire Scott Hope thing isn’t really going anywhere and it’s taking time away from Faith’s backstory so it’s hard to care about it - especially since A) who gives somebody a ring before the first official date?? and B) oh, c’mon with Scott just happening to buy the duplicate-Angel-ring from some retro shop in town.
It’s never explained, which just makes it feel ridiculous and silly. Obvs, I’ll wank that it’s the powers-that-be-assholes trying to tell Buffy that her and Angel aren’t done yet but I don’t want to… I want them to justify it on screen or not be so lame.
Scene 24: At the local dive motel after sunset, Faith is getting hassled about the rent when Buffy arrives with her arms crossed and ready for an argument. At Buffy’s telling her that Kakistos is in town, Faith immediately snatches up her bag and starts to throw her few possessions into it.
Buffy accuses Faith of dumping her problems on her, but Faith tells her she’ll deal with Kakistos as she all-but-runs for the door. Buffy stops her short by asking if she’ll take care of things, like she took care of her Watcher [wow, Buffy -- harsh & bitchy]. Buffy guesses that Kakistos is the one who killed her, but Faith tells her that what Kakistos did to her doesn’t have a name.
Before they can discuss it any further, a knock comes at the door. It’s the desk clerk again… except when Faith opens the door, he’s already dead. Kakistos has found her!
Scene 25: And, worse -- motel rooms aren’t covered by the “no invite, no entry” barrier.
Faith is left to panic, while Buffy slams the door shut and engages a rather pathetic looking chain lock. It doesn’t matter, since Kakistos just punches his way through the door, anyway.
Buffy shouts to Faith to scream later, escape now. They make their way out of the bathroom window and dash off.
Scene 26: They smash their way into a warehouse, and with the breather, Buffy demands that Faith tell her what happened that brought her there. Faith reveals that she was there when her Watcher died and whatever happened, it was so horrific that she ran and left her Watcher behind.
Buffy tells her she did the right thing. That she lived and now there are two of them and only one of him. But Faith isn’t comforted -- in fact, she’s in even more distress than when they started. Buffy notices that Faith is staring into a corner and see the bodies stacked up… they’ve managed to get themselves railroaded right into Kakistos’ temporary lair!
Scene 27: Buffy realizes the trap they’re in, but when she and Faith try to flee again, it’s too late. Kakistos’ minions come in from all sides.
While Buffy struggles to take on all of the minions, Kakistos only has eyes for Faith. And she’s simply not mentally prepared for fighting him off. She’s quickly overpowered.
Meanwhile, Mr. Trick hangs back and just studies the two Slayers in action… especially Buffy who is mopping the floor despite being outnumbered [And I could be wrong, but I think dusted minion dude is the same vampire who got dusted on the Summers porch in BECOMING].
Buffy rushes to Faith’s aid. Mr. Trick meanwhile tells one of the surviving henchwomen that if they don’t do something, the ‘master’ could be killed. He shrugs and leaves Kakistos to win or lose on his own.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, Buffy manages to stake Kakistos but shockingly finds that he’s so old that his chest muscles are acting like tough leather armor and she can’t penetrate his breastbone!
He mocks Buffy for not having a bigger stake on her, but Faith uses his big mouth to realize what they need. She picks up a piece of broken piling that he’d broken using her body and rams the huge ass pole through his chest for him. And despite his resistance to staking, he doesn’t have immunity to dusting once it’s accomplished.
Commentary: I really liked this whole scene, from Faith’s panic to Buffy’s sudden sympathy with her counterpart to the fight against Kakistos. This was definitely the best scene in the episode and Mr. Trick escapes! And Faith doesn’t die! Yay!
Scene 28: The following day in the library, Giles tells Buffy and Willow that the Council has approved Faith staying with Rupert as her temporary Watcher until a newbie can be assigned to take over her case [AH, Faith is staying!! Yay!!].
Buffy is suddenly not so ready to see her leave town, so it’s all good. She tells Giles that Faith had a lot to deal with, but she was able to put it behind her and come through in the end when she was needed. This inspires Buffy to try to do the same with Angel.
She admits to them that Angel was cured and that the curse worked the way it was supposed to, but that it came too late to stop Acathla. She goes on to describe the tail end of BECOMING before she tells them she’ll see them later, and leaves the library and their stunned reactions.
Commentary: And perfectly, we hear a soft, mournful reprise of “Close Your Eyes”… aka the Angel/Buffy love theme. It just makes it all the more heartbreaking, remembering the Season 2 finale and Sarah does a nice job of delivering the dialog without any waterworks but clearly still struggling to accept what she had to do.
And, of course this is never really forgotten for the entirety of the series - no matter how much Buffy tries to move forward.
Scene 29: After Buffy leaves, Willow tells Giles that she knows he doesn’t approve of her working magic, but that she can help him with his binding spell.
This causes Giles to admit there is no binding spell. He goes to his office, leaving Willow standing in the library staring at the exit where Buffy had left moments ago and no doubt reflecting on what she’d done to her best friend in trying to help [which is a lesson that won’t be learned, alas].
Commentary: And what I really loved about this scene was the shakiness Aly puts in her voice when talking to Giles, but also we continue with “Close Your Eyes” reminding us that everyone is dealing with Angel’s fallout, still. It just WORKS.
And it’s so beyond the awesome that Giles knew Buffy was still haunted over BECOMING, even though he had no idea about what happened in that final confrontation.
Scene 30: Elsewhere in the school, Scott leaves a class to find Buffy waiting. She half-explains about there having been someone before and the ring really threw her but she’d really like to go to the Buster Keaton films with him if he’d still like to go.
He tells her that he just doesn’t know and that he’ll have to think about it. He walks away. But before we can hate him, he turns right back around and tells her that he thought it over and he’s totally ready to take her.
They mutual smile. Buffy offers that she has one thing to do that evening, and then she’s good to go.
Scene 31: That thing is to visit the abandoned mansion where she sent Angel to hell. She’s brought the ring Angel gave her. She says a soft good bye and leaves the ring on the floor as a way to put him behind her so she can move on.
Scene 32: After Buffy leaves to the piano of “Close Your Eyes”, the screen fades to black.
But instead of the end credits, we see a spotlight encircle the love-ring. To ominous tones, the ring starts jittering around on the floor. There is a bright white flood light, and then a naked man falling through the air and to the floor.
Naked!Angel has returned from the hell dimension!! [OMG, WTF!?! Is it Angel or Angelus or Crazy!Angel!! OMG!]
Angel claws at the floor, before raising his head. He’s drenched in sweat and twitching.
It’s so wonderful that I can still get the delicious chills down my spine on this rewatch. The dramatic music certainly helps, but Angel’s return was not just shocking on first watch, it was gobsmacking, stunned silence, jaw on the floor shocking and as mentioned, it can still send a chill down the spine, so a fantastic way to go out of the episode.
The Good: I liked the opening scene starting on Willow cuteness with the chemistry that Aly has with Seth.
I really liked the introduction of Faith in the alley. I also think that Sarah and Eliza had chemistry right off, and it really makes their bitch-i-tude at one another later a lot of fun.
I had fun with Mr. Trick and was glad that he was left standing at the end, but I also really liked Kakistos and the confrontation with Faith and Buffy.
I always love it when we hear "Close Your Eyes"... I just love that piece of music.
I love... LOVE... that Giles' entire binding spell was a ruse to help Buffy come to terms with what she had to do during her fight with Angel, even though he didn't know that she wasn't killing Angelus. It's obvious that the whole episode, he was seeing right through her act of having moved on.
Obvs, that ending was... well... just read the commentary for what it was.
The Bad: Nothing was so problematic that I'd put it in the bad.
Other Thoughts: One of the things that rankled a bit is Willow pushing so hard that Buffy date again, when the Angelus nightmare only happened months ago. I can understand it character-wise of Wills wanting to help Buffy put the bad behind her, but it feels like she was written to be almost pushy about it, not to mention insensitive.
As mentioned in the review, there is also an issue with too many elements being crammed into the episode to get all of the pieces in place for the early season and they don't play off one another comfortably.
And do to the above, it feels like a few key scenes aren't given the proper amount of room to breathe - especially the scene in the kitchen when Joyce realizes that Buffy had been dead at some point.
I'll admit also to being just a tiny tad disappointed that Kakistos wasn't a two-episode villain. It isn't often even this early in the Buffy run when a vampire is actually a real threat. It was a bummer that he was only a monster of the week. But at least we have Trick still about.
The Score: 3.50 out of 5 stars