Story by CN Winters and Susan Carr
Written by CN Winters (with additional writing by Susan Carr)
Directed by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Produced by: CN Winters and Susan Carr
Edited by: Kate
Sound Department: Steff
Art Director: Chris Cook
Artists: Chris Cook, David Zahir, Chantal, CN Winters
Teaser: Our teaser this week starts with an exciting vampire Slayage session. Arrayed are our heroes, Faith and Kenn with Ro and three junior Slayers, including Willow's assigned Slayer, Marsha. In an alley, they take on a gang of five vampires. While Faith and the junior Slayers are fighting most of the group (with Faith throttled along the way), Kennedy is busy beating her vamp to a pulp... again. Like last episode, she's not "staking and moving on", making Ro angry because she's risking her fellow Slayers by taking out her personal frustrations and not paying attention to the rest of the battle around her. But if Ro is angry, Faith is livid. Not only was she getting choked, but Marsha comes far too close to getting her neck snapped before she has a chance to grow into an adult Slayer.
The confrontation does not go well with Kenn though. She's angry and defensive, throwing around threats and acting like she doesn't care about consequences... all because Willow broke her heart. It's been a week since the last episode, and not only was Kennedy temporarily suspended (as Willow decided she needed to be last episode) but she's been assigned Ro as her Watcher (Willow started as Kenn's Watcher, but was then assigned Marsha, instead... a good move considering the obvious conflict of interest). Faith has tried to be supportive of Kenn, but Marsha nearly buying it and the other two junior Slayers also being put at risk because of her actions has pushed her over her limit to put up with Kenn's attitude. As the group return to the Council (with Ro bleeding from her nose), a stranger has witnessed we-don't-know-how-much, but it was definitely enough to bring a smile to her face, making her suspicious.
Act One: The Slayers arrive back at the Council headquarters, where Willow is surprised to find that Marsha had been fighting... this was supposed to have been an "observer" mission. Still, she's proud of Marsha for saving Faith from having her windpipe crushed. Faith starts to tell her about Kenn's behavior, but she doesn't get to it as Ro and Kenn coming stomping in.
Faith is impressed by Junior Slayer, Marsha.
Elsewhere in Cleveland, a group of four demons and three vampires are engaged in an obviously mystical ritual. We quickly find out that they've decided to summon "aid" from the underworld. Sacrificing one of their own, they summon a nun-type entity (yes, she's dressed in a whimple and habit) with glowing eyes. The demons are ecstatic at their success until the conjuror tries to order 'her' around, and starts a slaughter of himself and his compatriots. Turns out she isn't very impressed by her summoners:
"You are all unworthy," she told them menacingly. "You will pay the price with your existence and His judgment will reign supreme."
And they do, except for one demon who manages to make a hasty retreat. Do you ever notice that vampires who align themselves with demons always end up on the short end of the stick? You'd think they'd learn from so many other's mistakes....
Anyway, 'Sister Sin' is going to cause a problem, we can tell.
Back at the Council, Kennedy isn't the only one giving Rowena a hard time... Willow also calls her out for ordering "my Slayer" into battle, when she was only supposed to be observing. As Ro tries to explain the situation, that a life was at stake (Faith's), Willow tries to press that that isn't the point. Of course, that's exactly the point, as Ro says:
"That's exactly the point!" Rowena said, coming to her feet. "I realize you're fond of your Slayer, Willow. I do. And no Watcher wants to see his or her Slayer injured or killed. But the fact remains the same. She is a Slayer. She did what you've been training her to do."
Willow antagonizes Ro further by suggesting that Kennedy should be re-assigned again. This time to Giles, but Ro insists she can handle the assignment on her own, further reminding Willow that she (Ro) IS a Senior Watcher with prior experience.
Willow remains unimpressed... and possessive over Marsha, too. But it's not all confrontations, Faith comes to Willow for a little time off so she can pursue something that she's been considering for awhile.
The next morning we get a shout out to the Angel episode, "Damage" with Willow explaining that she had to spend a few hours on the phone with Angel and Wes explaining that Andrew may have thrown his non-existent weight around a little more forcefully than the Council intended when they sent him there after Dana.
There's some jokey banter between Faith and Willow over Fred, which is nice because it's so Willow not to hold anything of the past against Faith. They're really in the same boat anyway... both have an awful lot to make up for which will provide grist for future episodes, I'm sure (he types, pretending not to know for sure 'cause he hasn't been reading future eps... *smile). The banter between Will and Faith may be good-natured, but its definitely has a more caustic edge when it comes to Will and Ro:
The tensions from the night before have not disipated between Willow and Ro.
"Okay, that's it. Enough of the passive-aggressive," Rowena said dropping her spoon in her own bowl. "No more attacking my skills. I understand that you're upset about last night, all right?"
This doesn't do anything to keep Willow from baiting her a few minutes later, though.
A roundtable of sorts is conducted and Kennedy is, again, placed on suspension for another week. In addition, Giles reveals that there may be a 'shooting gallery' in town. We saw one of these places in 'Angel' when Wes and Faith went looking for Angelus; it's a place where people shoot up with drugs, then allow a vampire to bite them for kicks.
The Act ends with Kennedy later that night being chatted up by a vampire-girl. The woman, in fact, who spied the Slayer action the night before. And she manages to play on how Kenn is feeling from what she'd heard her saying the night before. Before Kennedy knows it, she's making out with the vamp skank in an alley and allowing Valerie to "take a little taste".
Act Two: In the Presidium's secret lair, a vampire stands before a minion of the Engineer with Bonnie in attendance. We find out that the vampire is the same one (played by Ice-T) raised Sister Sin in a misguided effort to help the Presidium by sending her to attack the Council. Yeah, that didn't quite work out. But he also let's Bonnie and the demon know that Sister Sin is burning people and demons, both. Bonnie inherits the job of finding a way to clean up this mess.
The next morning and its more of Kennedy's attitude and Ro struggling to impose some sort of discipline on her Slayer. She calms down a bit when Giles gets involved... but not much. The gang also discover the burned people from the night before and start research mode. Tracey hears a bit of it, but Willow is able to cover... Tracey doesn't know the Council's real mission and believes it is just a school.
Another time jump to the evening and the Council has narrowed down our fire bug to Sister Sin. Becca shows up because Giles was supposed to be going on a date that night with her. Since she already knows about the Council, she's able to ask about the "new baddie" that's getting in the way of her date, so Willow, Ro and Giles can inform her (and us) about who Sister Sin is and what her deal is. Seems she's here to "cleanse the bad people" but unfortunately, she's one of those nutters who thinks that everyone who's ever comitted a sin... EVER... is "bad" and needs "cleansing". This, of course, she provides by fire. We get a taste of her rather strict moral code when she wipes out a minister who stole apples when he was 8... that's "bad" enough for her!
Back at the Council, Giles tries to get Kennedy to just talk to him, but she's too busy being an ass. She's way snottier than Buffy ever was to him and he leaves. Elsewhere, Ro getting Willow to clear the air between the two of them goes much better.
As this is happening, the Slayers are out hunting for Sister Sin and a vamp nest believed to be close by. Faith, worried about Kenn, goes back to the Council, but she's not there. Figuring she's at the lesbian bar getting hammered again, she goes there to drag her drunken butt home. At first the bartender gives her the runaround, but a little muscle and she's sent to a back room of the bar where women can grab some quality skin time with each other... Faith busts in a door, and doesn't like what she sees:
Faith sure didn't see this one coming....
Act Three: While Faith is freaking out over Kennedy's apparent insanity, Vi and her squad start tracking a group of demons and vampires. Meanwhile, Rona and her group have also found themselves vampires... the shooting gallery... and it's full of Fangheads. She calls for backup, and it appears that there's more than a gallery going on, judging by the woman who's sent screaming into a locked cage.
Back in the bedroom, Faith confronts Kennedy while her new vampire gal-pal makes a hasty retreat. At first, Kennedy refuses to accompany Faith back to the Council for help with whatever is going on in her head these days, but a quick uppercut and Faith gets her way. And it was a nice ploy for Kenn to bring up Buffy, but Faith shoots that down quick.
Rona's call to the Council meanwhile interrupts some serious Sci-Fi geek bonding between Becca and Andrew, leaving Giles to roll his eyes. Unfortunately, while Rona waits for backup, Faith chooses that moment to show up with Kennedy and reveal the whole "she's got a demon lover biting her" thing. Naturally there's a great deal of distress and the mood isn't helped when Kenn threatens to start a fist fight with Faith in the kitchen. The tension only escalates when Willow tries to see Kennedy's viewpoint that maybe the vampire wasn't an "evil" one, but Ro isn't looking to hear that and they start exchanging words, quickly disrupting Giles' attempts to get the situation under control. Not only is the conflict escalating, but Ro takes on Giles' choices and beliefs as well, falling under her training with the Old Guard to point out some of the things she has taken great exception too, since joining Cleveland.
All of this personal drama has to wait though... we've got a huge vamp nest, we've got Sister Sin to deal with and Vi (arriving at the Council, now) reports that she's heard chatter that the mysterious Presidium is also on the look out for Sister Sin. It's time to go into action, Kennedy's situation will have to be deal with later!
Act Four: Battles Royale, baby! In an abandoned warehouse, Vi and her group along with Kennedy and Faith are fighting the 'gallery vampires'. Kennedy is shocked to find Valerie there. She's even more shocked when she finds that vampires are shrugging off the fists of the Slayers around her and seem way too strong. Maybe it has something to do with Valerie sharing all of that Kennedy-blood she'd been sucking?
"Told you I needed you." Valerie smirked.
Elsewhere, Marsha, Giles, Ro, Vi's Slayer group and Willow try to vanquish Sister Sin and her 'Fireballs of Cleansing'... they're a bit surprised to find a group of demons trying the same thing.
Back at the warehouse, Kennedy angrily throws herself at Valerie but is swatted away. And then Valerie decides her promises not to suck Kenn dry no longer apply... she bites Kenn deep. Kennedy's not the only one who comes out the worse for wear though, as Rona suffers an injury also.
Back with Sister Sin, Willow struggles to complete a ritual chant to banish the sinister nun, but keeps getting interrupted and one of the spell supplies is destroyed by a fireball!
I'll let you jump and read to find out who lives and who dies....
Sister Sin of the "Everyone needs to be burned up" school of faith.
The Good: Kennedy. This was her episode, really, and her dialog was incredible. Going toe to toe with every major player at the Council and actually making a bit of sense (if Buffy can screw vamps, why can't she) and Valerie could have been a non-killer vamp... we've seen 'em before, including Harmony who had no soul and no chip, just a healthy sense of self-preservation. Speaking of Valerie... diabolical plot and such a clever way to go about getting a "power boost" using Kenn's anger and alienation to seduce her right into giving her what she wanted without having to risk death trying to take on a Slayer. Sister Sin didn't have a lot to do as she was sort of the B-plot to Kennedy's breakdown, but I really liked her. All of the intense dialog, especially the group argument in the Council Kitchen. Major play for everyone.
The Bad: Still some problems with a bit of the artwork (some people in frame being too "light" compared to others in the frame or just awkwardly placed). Andrew's little "humorous plot" concerning his bargain deordorant wasn't all that funny and took away from the angst-fest of Kenn and Sin in a not-good way. Faith's reasons for breaking in on Kennedy and Valerie (not knowing she was a vamp) didn't seem quite right... like it really wasn't any of her business if Kenn was gettin' busy in a backroom of the lesbian bar. Too many of our Slayers don't even get a name; they're just "two other Slayers"... we really need a better idea of who all is in these squads, even if its just names and one or two details about them. And where are the other Watchers that are supposed to be being recruited, anyway?
The Verdict: Forget all about "The Bad", it's all just nitpicking. This was a solid story with an excellent plot involving Faith and Kennedy that will surely have more repercussions next episode. Sister Sin was a kind of fun, if minor, monster of the week and Valerie's plot was diabolically great. A solid 4-star out of 5 episode.