Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 03, Episode 07
Writer: Douglas Petrie
DIR: James A. Contner
Blurb: With help from Faith’s new watcher, Buffy tries to destroy the legendary Glove of Myhenegon before it falls into the hands of the demon Lagos.
Scene 01: We open at The Bronze. Dingoes Ate My Baby is playing on stage and as Devon warbles, Oz looks out over the crowd and gives a small smile.
Scene 02: At a table, Willow, Xander and Cordy are watching with Willow returning a wan smile of her own. Xander seems distracted [Xan, are you checking out that guy on the left? I was. And how about that strikingly tall dude in the background?].
Scene 03: As the set wraps to applause, Oz leaves the stage. He joins the gang at the table, where Willow greets him. There isn’t another seat for him, so he nonchalantly says he’ll just scrunch in. To Willow and Xander’s discomfort, they’re jostled into each other, causing Xan to scoot his chair as far he can to put space between them.
Cordelia notices and wonders why he’s trying to give her a lap dance, which he laughs off as just liking her. Willow babbles how sweet she thinks it is when two people like each other and definitely don’t want to be with anyone else.
Oh, Willow… Oh, Xander… what a spin you’ve put into our Scooby dynamic.
Oz, of course, finds her babble endearing. Oh, Oz. He asks for a sip of somebody’s drink, and both Willow and Xander reach for a cup too quickly, in order to hide their guilty feelings. They only end up touching hands, which makes them both jerk away, which makes cups go flying into the crowd behind them. Xander gets a round of applause for his clumsy spill, while Willow just looks with more guilt at him.
Scene 04: After Xander gets reseated, Cordelia comments on how hyper he and Willow are tonight. In the meantime, Oz gingerly reaches around Willow to snag her cup like he’s afraid of another burst of startled-clumsy if he moves around her too fast [It is adorable].
Wills changes the subject clumsily to Buffy not acting like her usual self lately, either. Xan didn’t notice, but Wills insists that Buffy has seemed distracted and has been spending a lot of time alone lately. Cordelia suggests Buffy may have a new honey on the sly, but the suggestion that she wouldn’t tell her bestest friends is disturbing to Willow and Xander. He insists that she’d tell them.
Scene 05: At that moment, Buffy happens to stroll up and wonders what she’d tell them if she had something to tell. Buffy denies a “dating” is occurring but she does offer that she’s going out with somebody… that night, in fact. Willow excitedly asks who with, and Faith enters frame. She tells Buffy it’s time to motorvate.
Buffy grins at her friends and insist she and Faith are just good friends. Faith gives a… curious… glance at her, before the two skedaddle. [And that exchange between Buffy’s joking their just good friends and Faith’s glance with their arms around each other will be the basis for SO, SO many ship vids on you tube… SO many.]
Commentary: I liked this opening scene thus far because it gives us a mini-recap of the way that the Scoobie Dynamic has been thrown and not just by one thing. We have the tension between Willow and Xander because of their ill-advised flirtations which is the big thing getting in the way of the friendship flow among the group. But, it’s also mentioned that Buffy has been withdrawn from the group more lately -- which we know the reason for. Her secrecy is another storm cloud hanging over the gang. Finally, we have Faith who has been presumably taking up more of Buffy’s slay time, so that the gang hasn’t been seeing Buffy out on patrol either. The disturbance among the gang’s relationship is a focus of the next few episodes and this low-key opening sets up the stresses between them that they’re not even fully aware of yet for us.
Scene 06: We time-skip a bit where Faith and Buffy are changed into more fitting clothes and lying on their backs in a graveyard. Both have vampires attacking… or being attacked… either way, there is a brawl in progress.
Nearby, Giles sits with a notepad. He continues jotting down judgments about the Slayers’ performance, while they make it to their feet to continue their individual battles.
The Slayers manage to get the vampires manhandled back to back, as Giles sips tea and appraises. They double slay, high five and joke.
Buffy asks Giles what he thought of that synchronized slaying move, but his answer is pre-empted by another fussy Brit. This one is a woman who steps out of the shadows to tell them they were sloppy. She goes on to tell them they were telegraphing their punches, leaving openings to attack, and for being a school night took entirely too long to get to business. She then asks which of our Slayers is Faith. As Giles is left looking stunned by this intrusion, our Brit woman introduces herself as Mrs. Gwendolyn Post -- Faith’s new Watcher.
Commentary: Well, Gwen may think it was sloppy, but I had fun with this fight scene. What I want to mention specifically though, is how you can see Gwendolyn as the final straw that will kick off the damaging of the Scooby Gang, because it is with her interference in this episode that we’ll start to reveal the fractures that are already there, but that the Gang isn’t aware of yet.
Insert Kick Ass Credits
Scene 07: When we come back, we’ve retired to the library. Faith is complaining about not needing a new Watcher -- especially since the authority figures in her life have ended up dead, but Gwendolyn points out that it isn’t actually up to her whether she gets a new Watcher or not.
Mrs. Post next asks Giles about the library reference collection and she’s quite unimpressed with how small the collection is that he’s gathered for their task. She reports firmly that her task is to take over Faith’s training and also to report back on the situation in Sunnydale. Faith tries again to preempt this by referring to Gwendolyn as Mary Poppins and complaining that she isn’t listening, but Rupert steps in to take Gwen’s side on behalf of the Council. He’s then upset to learn that his bosses fear he may have become too American during his posting, and this is part of what Gwen is there to assess.
She puts that aside until later however to inform Giles of a powerful demon headed for Sunnydale named Lagos. Gwen asks Rupert for an illustration of the Slayers’ new priority, but when he can’t produce it immediately, she brushes him aside, obviously making him feel inadequate and embarrassed. Mrs. Post goes on to describe that Lagos is after the Glove of Myhenegon, a powerful artifact believed to be hidden in a local tomb. It isn’t known exactly where and she suggests that Giles begin looking for clues as to where it could be stored -- though she also throws out a barb about their not expecting miracles.
She summons Faith to accompany her and they leave Giles feeling like he’s been schooled.
Commentary: It’s difficult to discuss Mrs. Post at this juncture because we don’t know enough about her to see what she’s doing, but on first watch it felt so embarrassing for Rupert that I wanted him to say something cutting and witty to put her back in her place… and he doesn’t. He has nothing that he can say to discount her obviously low opinion, except that Buffy has successfully kept the Hellmouth in check this entire time: It’s just too bad that Rupert didn’t think to speak up about that when he had the chance.
It’s easy to dislike Post, but you have to admire her ability to render Rupert stunned with nothing more than a few biting words, expressed succinctly and then moved on from before Giles can formulate a proper response.
Scene 08: After Gwen and Faith leave, Giles mentions how bracing that encounter was and Buffy admits she’s ‘interesting’. She then asks if they can kill her, but Giles admits the Council would probably frown on that.
Giles suddenly wants to get in some training with Buffy [and it isn’t very difficult to see it as worry that his training program for his Slayer will be found wanting next to Gwendolyn’s plans for hers -- it’s amazing how easily she was able to undermine Rupert’s confidence in his area of expertise].
Scene 09: We join Buffy “training” with Tai Chi [or whatever… I’m not an expert on all of the forms] the next day, but not with Giles. She’s gone back to the mansion to spend more time with Angel before school.
Despite their not being together anymore, Angel chooses the shirtless look. In addition, he’s closer than he needs to be during their routine, and ends up cupping Buffy’s hands into his own, encouraging her to lean into him.
Buffy ends up in his arms and they nearly kiss before she breaks contact and tells him that she needs to go. She and Angel discuss their unsettled relationship, trying to be friends with there is so much feeling still between them. She tells him the basics of her mission to stop Lagos -- a name that Angel seems to recognize. He tells her to be careful, distractedly, and then sits and broods.
Scene 10: That evening in the library, Giles is throwing a frustrated fit about not being able to locate any information on Lagos or the Glove that would be helpful. Xan and Willow stand around feeling badly for him. Giles orders them to just find whatever they can. Xander tries to joke that he’s not the Watcher of him, but Rupert isn’t in a jokey mood. He tells Xan to either go home, or work and storms off to his office.
He joins Willow in the stacks, where she’s complaining that it’s late and she’s tired. She doesn’t understand what Giles wants from them, but Xander understands that Gwendolyn hit a nerve by suggesting that Rupert has lost his Britness [so one must assume Buffy was on the phone with Willow filling her in on their meeting with Faith’s new Watcher].
Willow complains that her eyes have gone blurry and moans with fatigue as she rubs her temples. Xander reaches out and takes over. When Wills says he should stop, he does but then Willow suddenly grabs him and kisses him. They start a make out session, while in the background, Giles has returned to the stacks, too.
Rupert interrupts, without seeing what they were up to, startling them apart. Giles was only there to tell them that he found where the Glove is hidden so they can stop looking.
Xan leaves quickly to check out the crypt hiding the Glove… off alone. Meanwhile, Willow stands with a look of guilt and shame.
Scene 11: Meanwhile, Faith and Buffy are out on patrol. Faith shares her sad romantic history with a string of losers. She asks Buffy about her history, mostly about what it was like trying to boff a vampire but Angel is a really sensitive subject still after everything that happened, and what she’s dealing with now since he’s secretly returned. She shuts Faith down that everything about him is still too raw, but we can see Faith feeling a bit hurt at their not mutually bonding.
Faith tells Buffy that they’ve been through six cemeteries with nothing to show for it and suggests they knock off for the night. Buffy is tempted, but says that they’re close to another cemetery, but Faith offers to swing through it. Buffy unsure about her going alone, but Faith points out that she already has ‘Miss Priss’ watching everything she does and really doesn’t need another baby sitter. Buffy relents and thanks her for letting her skip out early.
Commentary: This scene always hurts me just a tiny bit and it’s because it’s such a small thing. Buffy is completely in the right here in not wanting to talk about Angel with somebody she barely knows, but you can see Faith is trying so hard to bond with the group and belong. Buffy’s rejection of sharing personal details has to come across as an unintended message to Faith that she’s still an outsider but really, if they’d been talking about anything else except Angel then Buffy probably would’ve joked around with her just fine and we wouldn’t watch Faith getting so lost.
It’s all such a lost opportunity to make Faith welcomed in the Scooby Gang’s lives because of the bad luck of Faith choosing the one topic that Buffy can’t talk about.
Scene 12: Out in the cemetery, Faith hears the sounds of stone scraping against stone. She’s nearly barreled over by a flying sarcophagus lid. As she peeks around a corner she sees a large demon tearing through the sarcophagus. It can only be Lagos arrived, and looking for the Glove.
She’s thrilled at the chance to kill Lagos all by herself. Despite having the advantage, and getting in several blows on the demon, Lagos shrugs off her punishing fists and kicks. He picks her up and easily tosses her against a mausoleum wall.
He goes back to what he was doing, having zero interest in the Slayer but Faith isn’t about to let things lie with her head smashed against a wall. She goes back on the attack. He punches her in the abdomen, picking her up and sending her flying onto her back, gasping with the pain of it. But again, he doesn’t pursue her as he’s very single-minded about what he wants and it isn’t to kill himself a Slayer.
Not finding what he was looking for, Lagos throws a burial blanket aside. As Faith is gasping for breath, he strolls right by her without a glance. She’s left staring after him in amazement.
Scene 13: Meanwhile, over in Restfield Cemetery, Xander is wandering the tombstones… alone… to check on the integrity of the hiding place for the Glove. He at least is conscious that he’s made a really dumb choice and puts it down to his guilt over the Willow-kissage that he’s been engaging in.
All self-joking dies when he hears a noise from inside a mausoleum. And if he thought things weren’t so funny then, wait until he sees that the noise was being caused by Angel! An Angel who is currently carrying a package from the supposed hiding place of the Glove!
Xander gets out his stake. He follows along behind Angel, a look of determination and hatred on his face.
Scene 14: Xan follows Angel to the ol’ mansion that was once his hideout with Dru and Spike and where Buffy supposedly killed him. He peeps in the window and [OH SHIT.] sees Buffy there with him! And they’re in a hot-n-heavy make out session!
We cut to black on Xan’s shock-face.
Commentary: This is so perfect, I can’t hardly stand it. Of course, it would be Xander to find Buffy in this compromising position with the one “person” that he despises more than anyone else in the world… including all other villains.
The only thing that I’m only half-onboard with is Xander somehow keeping quiet and running back to the gang to report this development. If he’d rushed into the mansion and confronted Angel and Buffy right there with his stake drawn and ready, I’d not have been shocked. But regardless, I love that it is Xander who comes across Buffy’s secret and outs it to the rest of the Scoobies.
Scene 15: With Buffy and Angel’s make out session. Angel finally pulls away, worked up and confused about what they’re doing. Buffy has a mini-freak at what they’re doing also and questions her sanity in coming back there to see him.
Angel takes her hand and tells her it was good that she came back. He tells her that he’s found what she’s been looking for and shows her the Glove. Buffy offers that he should keep it overnight until she tells Giles they have it. She doesn’t mention whether she’s planning on telling him who has a watch on it at the moment.
Commentary: I want to mention Buffy and Angel here specifically, because I’ll be sharing some “oh, god… really… again” complaints with their on-again/off-again song and dance in future. But here, I really like seeing Buffy and he struggling with what has happened between them and what still remains.
It’s irritating that the two of them are continuing to risk disaster by not staying away from one another, but I like that we’re seeing that this isn’t being treated lightly by either one of them. They both know that what they’re doing is wrong, and Buffy does seem regretful that she’s keeping secrets about his return, so that is good character work.
But there are some basic logic flaws that continue to bug me about the way this plot is being carried out. It just isn’t logical to me that Faith wouldn’t have patrolled this area while in Sunnydale and seen signs that SOMEBODY is squatting in this mansion, even if Angel manages to avoid being spotted. She goes off on her own much too much for me to buy that Buffy’s been able to run interference and keep her redirected from this ‘abandoned’ manse that would be a vampire-nesting magnet to a Slayer.
It also bugs me that Buffy and Angel never discuss they’re being together again. It’s simply accepted that if they ever fall into bed, there will be the real danger of Angelus coming back because of the curse. But this just isn’t realistic. Angel would always, always have his losing his soul again in mind, even during his big O moment. There is no way that he could achieve a perfect moment of happiness again without a memory wipe, so the curse just isn’t relevant anymore as far as their sleeping together. Now, I can easily accept that after everything, one or the other of them would be too wrapped up in guilt that they’d even risk it - no matter how minimal that risk - and keep pulling away from one another, but it continually irks me that they don’t talk specifically about this.
Scene 16: Over with Giles in his apartment, we see someone pacing as he looks into some more books for information. It’s Gwendolyn doing the pacing. Rupert finds a reproduction of the Glove so they can see what it looks like, but Gwendolyn again cuts Giles off at the knees by not only already being aware of the etching, but also revealing to him that the engraving was based on unreliable testimony and dodgy folk legend putting its value in serious question. She suggests that he next time read the words and not just look at the pictures. In the kitchen the kettle whistles and Rupert excuses himself to get the tea, looking very out of sorts.
Commentary: It’s right here that I really started seriously hating this woman. She was just a bit of a prig before, but now she’s getting downright insulting and she’s doing it fully consciously. I even started to consider if she was going to try to use Faith as her leverage to get a foot into guarding the Hellmouth and try to take over watching Sunnydale completely by petitioning the Council to have Buffy placed under her care as well [we didn’t know whether she was a one-off character or if she was going to be around a while].
Scene 17: As Giles makes his tea, Mrs. Post admits that she knows she’s tiresome but she explains that when one starts slipping on small details, it doesn’t take long for everything to start sliding to hell. She points out the problems with Buffy.
Rupert can accept Gwen’s insults toward himself, but when she starts questioning Buffy’s dedication and ability, he stiffens his spine. He informs her that Buffy is industrious and that he’s in complete control of his Slayer’s night to night evil fighting.
Before he can, maybe, bring up how successful Buffy has been in the past however, Xander rushes into the apartment. He tells Giles and Gwendolyn that they have a serious problem. And it’s Buffy.
Poor Giles is left with deer-in-headlights-look while Gwen gives him an amused eyebrow tilt. Rupert excuses himself to speak to Xander privately. While Xan is - presumably - breaking the news about Angel’s return and Buffy’s covering up the fact, Gwen asks if they’d like some assistance. Giles tells her it won’t be necessary with a stiff smile.
Commentary: ARGH. Again, so frustrating that Rupert can’t seem to find the words to point out all of the successes that Buffy has had up until now, and by doing so with a combination of Giles’ skill as a Watcher and trusting in her own instincts on how to proceed.
But what I really like about this scene was the very small background detail of having Gwendolyn pull the pre-bagged tea from her cup, in order to replace it with loose tea and a steeper ball. It’s so small, but it’s a wonderful detail that adds onto her earlier statement to Giles that the Council fears he’s becoming too American, playing on his own fears that he’s let himself gravitate too far from his role by Buffy and the Scooby Gang.
She’s really playing him like a violin and he’s letting her.
Scene 18: The following morning, Buffy comes into the library and happily tell Giles that she’s gotten the magical mitten and Lagos is out of luck. But she comes to a stuttering halt when she sees the look on the waiting gang’s faces.
To Buffy’s nervous questioning, Giles tells her to take a seat. He then shares that Xander saw her with Angel and that they know she’s been hiding his return from them. Willow is sympathetic, but she that this is really serious for them. Buffy tries to explain it isn’t what it looks like, but Xan butts in to tell her what it looks like is that she harboring a vicious killer.
Willow interrupts to remind the gang that they’re not there to attack Buffy but just to express what they’re feeling with “I” statements. Cordy points out that she’s scared because last time Angel was much more interested in killing Buffy’s friends than laying a hand on her personally. Buffy insists that Angel is better again, but Xander points out that they don’t know for how long, especially if she “gives him a happy” again.
Buffy starts getting flustered and tries to cut off this interrogation but Giles isn’t ready to let it go. He points out that if seeing Angel again wasn’t wrong, then she wouldn’t have felt the need to hide his return. Buffy assures the gang that she and he aren’t together “like that” but Oz points out that she was kissing him. This outrages Buffy and she turns on Xander for spying on her. But, her attempt at anger is cut off at the knees by Cordelia sensibly asking what gave her the right to start sucking face with her demon lover again after what he did last time. Buffy tries the “it was all an accident” thing, but Xan sarcastically asks if she tripped and fell on his lips.
Buffy states that she knows kissing Angel again was wrong and it won’t happen again. But she also tells the gang that she’d never let Angel hurt anyone again and if she thought he’d gone bad, she’d stop him. Xander [ANOTHER LOW BLOW, DAMN YOU XAN] again brings up how she stopped Angel from killing Ms. Calendar, leaving her shocked speechless.
Willow speaks up with an “I” statement, telling her that she feels that where Angel is concerned, Buffy doesn’t see straight. Buffy informs them that Angel is good again and has even found the Glove for them, keeping it safe. Xander angrily tells her it was a great plan to leave the heavy firepower “with the scary guy and leave us to clean up the mess”. He goes to storm out, but Buffy grabs his arm and swings him around to confront him about his issues with Angel not being about anything except his own jealousy.
Cordelia accuses Buffy of not being able to get over herself, and Willow complains that nobody is using the ‘I’ statements.
This causes Rupert to step in and put an end to the confrontation. He tells everybody to go to class, now that they’ve made their feelings clear to Buffy on Angel’s being a part of her life again and her keeping serious secrets from them. He tells them that Buffy’s actions may have been ill-advised, but they’re understandable. Something that Cordelia obviously doesn’t agree with. He tells them all that right now their priority has to be finding a way to destroy the Glove before Lagos tracks it down.
As everyone files out, giving Buffy looks of disappointment or worry, Rupert retreats to his office.
Commentary: I loved this scene. I loved poor Willow trying futilely to keep things about how they’re feeling rather than expressing anger at Buffy. I love how Buffy ends up speechless when how much they know if pointed out to her. I even love Xander’s outrage at how Buffy is so ready to dismiss what a real danger Angel[us] was to all of them. The only thing that was obviously too harsh in my opinion was the reference to Buffy failing to save Ms. Calendar… that was just ugly… but even then, it was entirely in character but I still feel that it was too much for this scene. I could’ve dealt with the point being made, if it hadn’t been so hateful in tone but the way it was delivered just felt a bit too over the top.
This is such a strong echo to the library confrontation over Willow trying to re-curse Angel that it took my breath for a moment. Just excellent work all around, especially the looks on the gang’s faces when Giles tells them that Buffy’s actions were understandable, even if they don’t agree with them… exactly because of what is coming up next.
What I also really love about this scene is that we don’t have any incidental music getting in the way; all of our gang’s words -- especially Xander’s cutting ones are met with silence which really emphasizes Buffy’s speechlessness when he throws Jenny’s murder in her face because she couldn’t bring herself to end Angel before when she needed to.
Scene 19: Buffy doesn’t follow the gang out, but stays behind. She stands in the door of Giles’ office and thanks him for sticking up for her. She starts to point out that Angel did help them by finding the Glove.
Which is why she’s shocked speechless again when Rupert says very quietly to “be quiet”.
In fact, let’s just quote:
Rupert: “I won’t remind you that the fate of the world often lies with the Slayer. What would be the point? Nor shall I remind you that you’ve jeopardized the lives of all that you hold dear by harboring a known murderer.
“But sadly I must remind you that Angel tortured me. For hours. For pleasure. You should’ve told me he was alive-you didn’t. You have no respect for me, or the job I perform.”
Rupert gives her a staredown before turning his back on her and sitting down heavily into his office chair. Buffy is left to walk away without having anything to say to that.
Commentary: OH, MY. Anthony Stewart Head nails this recitation full of personal betrayal that Buffy could hide something like this from him after his personal suffering at the hands of Angel. It’s powerful enough that I actually get a lump in my throat watching the performance.
Unfortunately the scene isn’t quite perfect, the way that the devastating library scene in Becoming was. In this case, it’s actually SMG that let me down a bit. I really wished that she’d gotten a more open-mouth look of struggling to come up with something to say on her face at realizing just how deeply Giles was hurt by her secrecy, before she finally turns and walks away. In addition, I was saddened that they have the soundtrack start up again. I think this scene would’ve been just that much more powerful if they’d allowed the ambient silence to carry over from the gang confrontational scene into this powerful monologue by Giles. We really didn’t need the music to underline this moment, but it’s particularly noticeable in its intrusion because of the preceding scene where it was left out.
Scene 20: Elsewhere, we see a hand knock on a door. When it opens, we find Faith and this is her motel room. She’s got a large stake in hand. The door knock came from Gwendolyn who advises Faith humorously that vampires rarely knock, and especially not in daylight.
Gwen stopped by to talk to Faith about last night’s debacle against Lagos. She warns Faith that she’ll be very hard on her, and inflexible about insolence or laziness. She tells Faith that the Slayer will undoubtedly hate her much of the time, but she also tells her that she’ll make her a better Slayer and that will keep her alive.
Gwendolyn next complains about Rupert’s methods. Faith tries to tell her that he’s alright, but Gwen goes on to spill about the Scooby Gang’s secret meetings and leaves Faith feeling left out and alone since she wasn’t included. When Gwen then suggests training with “kicking, punching, stabbing”, Faith tells her that she’s her girl.
Commentary: Poor Faith. I really hurt with her in this scene and it was nicely face acted by Eliza and managed to make Faith a small and lonely girl. And I can understand completely why she wasn’t told about the others meeting about Angel, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering about the rest of the times when she may not have been included in the gang’s activities and socializing.
Of course, it’s got to be tough for the gang too. They don’t know Faith, her personality doesn’t exactly gel with the rest of the gang’s and she does tend to take off without a word whenever she gets an itch. You can see how building bridges between the rest of the gang and her would be a slow process, delayed by the current Angel crisis between Buffy and her friends. But I still so want the gang to be the ones to really try harder to make the other Slayer feel like a true member of the gang.
Scene 21: Back at the school, it’s after class sometime. Buffy sees Willow and steels her nerve to talk to her about earlier. Willow tries to pretend that the confrontation didn’t happen. But that is less to do with her real feelings about the Angel thing and more to do with the fact that she’s keeping her own secret from Oz and Cordelia.
Willow turns conversation to Bronzing or Angel Rendezvousing that night. But Buffy tells her she’s going to be crypt watching for Lagos to come seeking, where he’ll find her instead. She figures she can kill Lagos and call it a peace offering to Rupert.
Scene 22: Meanwhile, Xander is at The Bronze playing pool by himself. Faith is there, too. She tells Xan that she found out about the secret Scooby meeting that she wasn’t invited to about the Glove of Myhenegon. But he has some real news to share, and does so… including that Angel is sporting the power glove.
Faith is flabbergasted by Buffy playing with fire again. She offers to Xander that this sounds like a problem for the second Slayer to take care of for good. Xander asks to come with.
Scene 23: Over at the high school, Giles is still working with his books on Lagos and the Glove in his office. He’d called Mrs. Post to join him to share some news and when she arrives they share uncomfortable banter about the late hour. He offers her tea, and she deflates just a little and thanks him. When she reports that she’s spent the day sparring with Faith and feels wore out, he asks if she’s her first Slayer. She takes this as a dig at her inexperience, but he offers it wasn’t meant that way at all.
He then impresses her with news that the Glove is being kept safe from Lagos. But more than that, he’s managed to find a way to destroy it with a ritual flame spell. Gwen finally gives Rupert a “good show” on his industriousness and cleverness…
… And then the BITCA bashes his head in! She’s a bad guy! And has been this whole time!
Commentary: And this is where I really have to admire just how confident she swept into Sunnydale, took over Faith’s Watcher role - risking that Giles may call the Council to confirm, and then managed to use her own verbal skills to keep him entirely off-balance and second guessing himself. It was really brilliant and I didn’t see this twist coming at all. I figured that this would be a few episode arc and would end with either her being killed to re-establish Giles’ role over both Slayers, or that Faith would end up leaving with Gwendolyn to show up again as a guest spot in future.
Scene 24: Meanwhile, Willow and Buffy are spending a cemetery evening. Wills asks if Faith shouldn’t be there instead and Buffy offers that she did call, but nobody answered. She tells Willow that she can totally bail without guilt if she wants, since she’s not the one in trouble with Giles.
They turn discussion to how Buffy feels better now that the secret is out in the open. Wills sympathizes with how much work keeping a secret is. Willow asks if keeping the secret made the time with Angel more sexy, but Buffy denies this and tells her that after some time, even the fun parts started not being fun with this burden on her shoulders.
This inspires Wills to come clean about her and Xander. Before she can voice it however, Lagos shows up, sending Buffy to work.
Buffy finds that Lagos isn’t impressed with her punches and kicks either. But she has more luck than Faith when she grabs Lagos’ sheathed axe and uses it on his neck. He doesn’t put up much fighting after that.
Buffy asks Willow about what she needed to get off her shoulders and Willow lies about cheating on her SAT by opening her booklet early. Buffy jokes that her secret is safe with her.
Scene 25: Meanwhile, Faith and Xander barge into the library to raid the weapons stock. Xander hears Giles moaning from his office and they find the Watcher not quite conscious.
Xan tries to rouse him, but he’s unresponsive. Faith immediately assumes it was Angel, despite zero evidence to suggest any vampire. Xander calls 911 for help, but Faith rushes off despite his protest to put Angel down for good.
Scene 26: Over at the mansion, Angel is preparing the mystic flame on his own to destroy the sought after glove.
[But his face is filmed as if maybe, just maybe he’s up to something eeevil.]
Scene 27: Back at the library, Buffy and Willow stroll in to share the good news about Lagos being an ex-danger. They see Rupert on a stretcher being wheeled out with a bloody head wound. Buffy asks Xander what happened, and he responds that Angel isn’t as cured as she thought.
Buffy asks how he just assumed that Angel did this, but he backs down just slightly to admit that he didn’t but Faith has. Buffy asks worriedly what he told her about Angel, and he admits that he told her what they all know. Buffy tells Willow to go through Giles’ research on how to destroy the Glove and after giving Xan a harsh look, rushes out after Faith.
Xander goes to explain to Willow, but she cuts him off with a “Shut up and help me!”
Commentary: Ugh. Xander is just the worst in this scene. He knows damned frickin’ well that Angel didn’t clobber Giles in the head over nothing and yet left him alive. But you can see him wanting it to be true so badly that he’ll actually play as if he believes it until Buffy directly confronts him for evidence. This is one of the few times when Xan is being dickish when I’m so angry at him that I actually want somebody to smack the lips off his face. I was kinda hoping Willow would do it right here… but no… darn it.
Scene 28: Over at Angel’s mansion, Mrs. Post comes marching in like she owns the place. She tells Angel that not only has Mr. Giles sent her to assist but that Lagos is on his way now and if Angel has prepared the living flame incorrectly the Glove will end up more powerful than ever.
Angel is snowed. She asks him where he’s placed the object. He turns to retrieve it from a trunk, when Post clobbers him in the head with a shovel. Post tells Angel’s unconscious form that she loves how everyone in Sunnydale is so helpful.
Commentary: Again, I can’t help but admire Gwendolyn’s complete self-assuredness. Even though Angel kinda-feels like he doesn’t trust her, she totally bowls right over him and gets him to do what she wants just through force of will.
Scene 29: We had to take a not-commercial break, but when we return, Gwen is breaking into the storage trunk. Angel pops up behind her in vamp-face and tells her that hurt.
Gwendolyn, being a Watcher, doesn’t even blink but breaks the shovel handle in half so she’ll have a makeshift stake to deal with him. She’s not very good though. Angel easily disarms her, then throws her into a wall - knocking her out cold for several seconds.
Alas for us, Faith shows up just in time to see Angel all vampire-grilled and clutching at Gwen’s shoulder. Faith expresses how much she’s going to be killing him. Angel is really pissy now, so he tells her that neither one of them is getting anywhere near that Glove. Something that Faith takes as a personal challenge. They begin trading punches.
Faith has some talented feet and gets Angel knocked down. She’s just about to stake him dead, when Buffy intercepts her downstroke. To Faith’s surprise, Buffy yanks her away in defense of Angel.
Scene 30: Not knowing that Angel has already produced the living flame, Willow and Xander are prepping the spell at the library. Xander finds an illustration of what the Glove can do. They pack up their magic sand and rush to the mansion.
Scene 31: Back at the mansion, Buffy tries to get Faith to stand down but Gwendolyn comes-to enough to tell Faith that Buffy can’t see the truth because of her love for Angel blinding her. Buffy tries to tell Faith that there is a lot she doesn’t know about the situation, but Faith’s Watcher tells her to trust her… and Faith is ready to.
She and Buffy get into a Slayer vs. Slayer fight. It ends up with them out on the patio trading blows.
Commentary: This is also one of the many, many times when the stunt people are particularly noticeable making cool screen caps hard to come by. Sorry.
Scene 32: Xander and Willow run in during this, and Mrs. Post weakly commands them to bring her the Glove. She pleads with them to help her stand up.
Scene 33: The Battle of the Patio continues. While Willow rushes to get the Glove and help Gwen, Xander runs outside to stop Faith and Buffy from wasting time hitting one another.
Faith’s answer is to grab Xander by his shirt and throw him aside.
Scene 34: In the mansion, Angel is apparently more hurt by Faith than it looked since he’s still nowhere to be found.
Willow has helped Gwendolyn to the trunk and waits to help her with the magic flame. Gwen peers on the Glove with a covetous look of pleasure. She spins around with the Glove and uses it to smash Willow in the face, knocking her stunned to the floor.
Scene 35: Meanwhile, Buffy and Faith are still trading blows though more slowly as if they’re both tiring out. Gwen puts on the Glove, which hooks her into the arm so that it can’t be removed from her limb. She doesn’t seem to notice any pain. She stares up at the heavens and starts summoning a lightning storm.
Meanwhile, Buffy and Faith stop fighting as they notice that the situation just changed.
Faith wonders what’s going on and Post replies that she has a word of advice for her: “You’re an idiot”.
Post sends lightning at Buffy and Faith, both but they dodge.
Scene 36: The noise brings Angel around, just as Gwendolyn turns on the recovering Willow with her lightning powers.
Angel just manages to tackle Willow out of the way before she takes a face full.
Scene 37: On the patio, Buffy and Faith act like they weren’t just fighting viciously. Buffy asks her counterpart if she can draw Gwen’s fire, which Faith is more than up for.
Gwen meanwhile feels invulnerable now that she finally has the Glove on.
Scene 38: But Buffy doesn’t need her to relinquish the Glove of Myhenegon to stop her. Not when she can find a very, very convenient piece of glass in the shape of a throwing star which is more than sharp enough when thrown by Slayer enhanced strength to cut clear through the arm.
We were warned that the Glove cannot be removed by Angel and now we see what happens when it’s tried. With the Glove lying on the floor with Post’s arm, she’s engulfed by uncontrolled lightning from the sky and immolated with a hideous screech.
Everyone is left to stare at one another uncomfortably at how they turned on each other.
Scene 39: Sometime later at school, Oz, Willow, Xan and Cordelia are sitting in the public lounge. Xander confirms that the living flame destroyed the artifact for good.
Willow wonders what Angel and Buffy will do now, and Xan offers he doesn’t know [and sounds like he wants to say that he doesn’t care]. Wills says that now that he’s saved her from a flamey death, she kinda likes him again. Xan accepts this with they should be okay as long as Buffy and he don’t get pelvic again.
Buffy joins them and asks what they’re talking about. Oz is the one to broach her and Angel dating again, but Buffy denies that they’ll have that sort of relationship going forward.
Buffy asks Xander if they’re okay and he confirms this. He offers that he leaned toward going postal when he saw her and Angel kissing again after everything that had happened last time. He offers that he trusts her. Cordy points out that she doesn’t and wants it on record.
Giles clears his throat behind them. Buffy guesses the Gwen wasn’t a Watcher, but in fact she had been. She’d been dismissed for using black magic and the Council issued a memo about it. Buffy excuses herself for a “little more damage control”.
Commentary: I liked this scene of the gang pulling back together after that ugliness in the library, but I’d like to think that everyone is only claiming that everything is fine. Buffy and Angel being in close proximity and possibly being overtaken with their hormones feels much too big an issue for everyone to suddenly be alright with the risk… Willow saveage or no.
I also really like the tiny moment of Rupert and Buffy just sharing a glance at one another. It’s the only relationship that doesn’t feel to me like it’s being neatly and conveniently repaired for next episode with this tiny group scene.
Scene 40: Buffy’s other bit of damage control is with Faith. She shows up at her motel room.
They have a tense conversation where Buffy points out that Faith wasn’t the only one fooled by Gwendolyn Post’s act but Faith responds that she already knew that you can’t trust people and shouldn’t have forgotten that.
Buffy tries to forge a bond with Faith, but she’s rebuffed. Faith sits alone in her crappy hotel room, brooding.
The Good: I like how we're continue to see how Xander and Willow's recent behavior is harming both their relationship and the group dynamic even though nobody else knows what has been happening.
I loved a lot of Gwendolyn's dialog that so easily tore down the entire gang, especially when it came to Rupert Giles and his confidence as a Watcher. I also like the way that she was able to get Faith on her side by sounding like she was being as truthful as possible with her. And then even manages to bulldoze over the doubting Angel.
I really liked how Faith and Buffy's relationship is being built even though it's a bit painful. Faith at first is trying so hard to fit into the Gang, and then at the end when Buffy is making the attempt to be more inclusive, Faith has already decided to distance them. You can see so much building here that will be necessary to future developments.
I loved the decision for it to be Xander that comes across Buffy/Angel smoochies.
I loved the library confrontation over Angel's return but the awesome moment was Anthony's line delivery when he was dressing down Buffy for having no respect for him by protecting the man who tortured him without a word of warning. That was some powerful acting, especially the look on his face.
The Bad: As much as I loved the library scene, they took Xander's viewpoint a little too far with the crack about Jenny. If he'd made the same point in a less aggressive, hateful tone of voice it would've worked for me but the way he nearly spits it at her was too much. And then they follow up with Xander pretending that he thinks Angel attacked Giles when he obviously didn't when he was standing there with Faith earlier. It's obvs he's just being a bitch at her, which again is just too over the line.
The Glove of Myhenegon is yet another example of something being talked up ridiculously only for it to not turn out to be a big deal. We never get to address why summoning lightning would be any worse a weapon for a baddie to have than just your run of the mill magical spells. It doesn't appear to make the user invulnerable, or protect them with a shield of electrical energy or anything else. It fires lightning bolts. Big-whoop, as Buffy shows by easily defeating Gwendolyn even after she's gotten it.
Other Thoughts: You're trying to resist falling back into your former lover's arms with all of your might... so you... walk around shirtless in front of them and stand entirely too close to them during impromptu workouts where you can both get a sexy perspiration sheen? Really?
There is a really annoying aspect to the Buffy/Angel/Angelus threat that irks me. Logically, Angel simply would never reach that "perfect happiness" to initiate the curse's clause because he knows that it's there. The very fact that he's aware of it and how dangerous it would be to Buffy were he to revert would never be away from his mind, even while with her and so could never actually be triggered. And it bugs me that the assumption is always that one boner and he'll be on the dark side again, when it simply isn't that easy.
I want to mention Post again here, because as much as I enjoyed how easily she manipulated Giles and Faith, I do think that it was over-scripted a bit. There are points when she's just being a snotty bitch and it shouldn't be undercutting Giles so much as doing the opposite in making him start thinking that she's just a generally unpleasant woman who he can ignore.
After Faith's beating at the hands of Lagos, I wish that Buffy's fight with him was just a little more visceral and physical before the axe came into play. It felt like a real letdown when Buffy beheads him in seconds, even though he obviously wasn't the actual main bad guy of the episode.
The Score: This is a decent episode, but both of the bad guys are easily defeated when Buffy finally confronts them, so that in retrospect you wonder what all the fuss was actually about. There are some great character scenes and powerful dialog, but they really over-did Xander's rage and Gwendolyn's snottiness that undercut the drama. I also question how relationships were neatly back to status quo at the end of the episode. I'd have rather had Xander deny to Buffy that they were okay, but that he was trying rather than the too neat wrap up we got.
3.50 out of 5 stars
Next Up: The tv movie, "The Six Million Dollar Man"