harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

(finally,) Buffy reviewed (again): Season 03, Episode 15


Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 03, Episode 15


DIR: Michael Gershman
Writer: Marti Noxon

Blurb: As detectives investigate the death of Deputy Mayor Finch, Faith's continued denial of any wrongdoing convinces Angel he must help her see the error of her ways.

SC 01: We open with the shot from underwater, with bubbles drifting past toward the surface above.

It is Buffy that is underwater, and she struggles to swim to the surface. But from below, Allan Finch grabs her ankle and tries to pull her back down into the depths.

Buffy is able to pull free, and breaks the surface for a gulp of air. She finds Faith waiting for her with a hard look on her face.

Faith reaches out her hand, places it on Buffy's head, and pushes her back under.

In bed, Buffy jolts awake. She chooses to get up to walk off the nightmare, when she hears down the hallway the television running. It's Joyce watching the news in her room, where a reporter informs Sunnydale that their Deputy Mayor's body was found floating earlier that day.

On the television, Mayor Wilkins calls Allan his aide, associate and good friend and promises that he will not rest until Finch's killers are found and brought to justice.

Joyce senses something over her shoulder and looks to see her daughter. She tells Buffy how horrible the news is, while Buffy is left shellshocked that his body was found, and still reeling with the guilt of leaving him in the alley.

Commentary: The interesting thing about this opening is Buffy's dream. At first glance, it's obviously the guilt of Buffy's peripheral role in Allan's fate, and the fact that she's struggling with staying silent about the accident: Faith's accident.

But, in hindsight, you could see this as a Slayer-warning dream about Faith and her overall trustworthiness. There is an interesting subtext to Buffy's dream that ends up playing out later in the episode in a metaphorical sense.

I do always wish - and I understand why they couldn't, because credits have specific financial costs to them, but it would've been really neat if starting last episode, Eliza Dushku received an opening credit. It would've made us believe that she was going to ultimately be okay, even though this horrible accident happened. The swerve is still surprising at the end of the episode, but it would've really hit hard to have her in the credits while still going where she goes as a character.

Credits Interrupt, as they do

SC 02: The following day in the library, Wesley is ordering Buffy and Faith to investigate the murder of the Deputy Mayor. Buffy objects that his death doesn't seem to fall within their jurisdiction. Giles takes her side, but Faith seems very cooperative in looking into the matter for her Watcher. Giles offers that he thinks that there are better time uses for the Slayers, but Wes snidely reminds Giles that he didn't ask him for his opinion.

Cordelia interrupts because she needs a psychology book. Wes is immediately awe struck by Cordelia Chase, as she also evinces some interest in his presence. She asks what his deal is, and as he stammers to come up with a reason for him to be in the library, Faith blurts out that he's the new Watcher.

Wes turns to Buffy and asks if everyone knows her secret identity. Buffy, still subdued by the thought of having to investigate a death that Faith caused, tells him that Cordy is a friend. Cordelia tells her not to exaggerate.

She and Wes approach a bit of flirtation, but that is because he's taken her to be a teacher at the school [A sly commentary on the fact that none of them are actually high-school aged? And that Alexis was born in 1966 and Charisma was born in 1970... so trying to present Wes as somehow much older is ridiculous. Especially since Charisma isn't exactly looking young for her actual age! It's an amusing little tweak at themselves.], rather than a student.

When Giles points it out, he immediately snatches his hand from hers. After she leaves, he's obviously still entranced, but Faith points out that Cordelia would be what we call in The States, "Jail Bait".

Buffy goes to escape from the library, but Wesley first insists that, as their commander now, he wants to know for sure whether the Deputy Mayor's death is mundane or supernatural in origin. Faith easily goes along with the request, while Buffy looks like she's struggling not to get sick.

SC 03: Buffy leads Faith into an empty classroom and shuts the door. Faith immediately goes on the offensive, asking Buffy if she's about to rat her out. Buffy tries to reason with Faith that it can only make it worse if they don't come forward with it being an accident, but Faith won't hear it. She's only worried that it'll mean spending the rest of her young life in jail.

She reminds Buffy that she was right there beside her when IT happened, so if Faith goes down, she will too.

SC 04: Buffy leaves the classroom to find Wills sitting between classes in the student lounge. Willow notices Buffy coming up to her, but she's still feeling shut out of the "Slayer-thing-you-can't-really-understand" thing, and noticably bristles when Buffy tries to engage her in conversation.

Buffy makes a tentative attempt to bring Wills in on what she's going through, but Wills begs off before things can actually be aired. She tells Buffy that she's meeting with the 'warlock guy', Michael. They've been trying to de-rat Amy Madison.

She leaves Buffy sitting on the sofa.

SC 05: That night, the police are scouring the alley where Allan died, collecting samples as Faith did not think of actually cleaning up the crime scene when she was lugging Allan's body off to not-dispose-of-properly.

From a dark alley nearby, Angel spies on what they're up to and recalls the blood on Buffy's hand and the way she jerked away from him, when he noticed it.

SC 06: At the Mayor's office, Richard is putting papers through the shredder. He complains to Mr. Trick that usually he gets a lift from shredding paper: It's fun. But not this evening.

The papers being shredded are Allan's: In the wake of his death, the Mayor has found a paper trail of his dealings, and wonders briefly if Finch was considering betrayal. He quickly dismisses this, but is still upset that he won't have the chance to scold Allan for clumsiness now that he's dead.

Mr. Trick offers something that may lift is boss' mood though. He's kept in contact with the Coroner's office as an aide to the Mayor, and has been informed that Allan's stab wound had traces of wood splinters. This does lift the Mayor's mood, as Wilkins considers that they'll have a Slayer up on Murder One charges.

Commentary: I've probably made this observation before, but I LOVE Harry's portrayal of Richard Wilkins. The way that he discusses the most appalling things in nothing but cheer is somehow funny and disturbing at the same time. And he continually keeps the tone of this character consistent throughout. It's some terrific acting and recitation.

SC 07: At, what turns out to be, the same time, Buffy and Faith are skulking around City Hall. They've broken into the Deputy Mayor's office to check out Allan Finch. Faith questions what they're supposed to get out of this, but Buffy guesses that the Deputy Mayor wasn't in that alley by chance. If he was there to meet them specifically, she'd like to find out why.

They don't get any answers, but finding all of Finch's file folders mysteriously empty tells Buffy that she's on the right tract.

In the meantime though, indications are that Faith is trying a little too hard to not be concerned about what happened. Her facade cracks a little, as she quietly tells Buffy that he came out of nowhere, and everything happened so fast before clamming up again tight.

But we can tell through Faith's expression that the thought that she'd killed somebody who maybe was trying to find them for help just makes what happened that little bit harder to deal with.

SC 08: Buffy and Faith then begin to sneak their way back out, but find Mayor Wilkins and Mr. Trick exiting at the same time. Both recognize Mr. Trick from their brief run-in with him when he was attached to Kakistos.

[I know. I tried, but I MUST be snarky. It isn't surprising that they recognize Trick immediately considering just how frickin' WHITE the entirety of Sunnydale is.]

SC 09: After they've made it out of City Hall themselves, Faith offers semi-sarcastically that it's a real shocker that the Mayor is into dirty dealings. But Buffy offers it is actually, because she didn't get the Bad Guy Vibe off of him.

Faith offers that she needs to learn already that the face people present to the outside world is only very rarely their real face. Buffy snits, "I guess you'd know a lot about that...".

Faith asks what Buffy is supposed to have meant by that crack, and Buffy goes on to tell her that she's not buying Faith's "zippedee doo dah" act about Finch's accidental death. She tells Faith that she's feeling just as dirty as Buffy is, and worried that she won't ever feel clean again.

Buffy pleads with Faith to let her bring this to Giles for help, but Faith is adamant that her sister-Slayer keep her mouth shut and let things blow over. To Buffy's questioning what happens if it doesn't, Faith offers that there are two freighters pulling out of Sunnydale (y'know... this tiny burg of a teeny town... *it just gets more ridiculous*...) daily.

Buffy is appalled that Faith could just run away, seeing Finch's face every night, but Faith offers that she won't be seeing anything. She admits to Buffy that she missed the mark, and the accident happened, but she can live with it, because they've saved thousands of people by now. She then goes on to point out that Buffy has literally saved the world, and somehow takes partial credit for herself as another Slayer that this makes Allan's death insignificant. She tells Buffy that nobody is going to be crying over one guy who got caught in the crossfire, but Buffy tells her that she's crying about it. Faith shrugs it off as Buffy doing an emotional number on herself, then.

What's more disturbing to Buffy is Faith straight out telling her that they're better than other people, so they have more leeway because of their Calling, in direct response to Buffy's trying to get through to her that just because they kill doesn't give them the right to do whatever they want.

Commentary: Okay. So much to love here. We've been getting very clear indications of the difference in philosophy between Buffy and Faith this season, already. Faith loves the Slaying, loves the nightly battles and doesn't put much thought behind why she has to do these things, or what the costs may be. Buffy - even though she's admitted to getting the emotional lift Faith does, too - doesn't enjoy Slaying in the same thoughtless way. She suffers over her choices, she worries about the impacts on herself and those around her of being "a killer".

And Buffy is always fighting to clearly delineate lines for herself. She wants to be limited in what she's allowed to do, because she wants to make sure that she doesn't blur the lines between hunting the supernatural, and just using deadly violence against regular people, no matter how horrible they may be. Faith doesn't see these lines, or if she does, they're soft. She doesn't have a problem with using violence against the bad guys - even human bad guys, because they're bad. She doesn't reflect. She doesn't worry over it.

And this scene is again terrific at pointing out those stark differences, and why Buffy the Slayer is a 'hero', while Faith the Slayer is just a super-powered. Buffy may be coming on a little strong here - especially in bringing up that they can't just do whatever they want, because after all, Allan's death was an ACCIDENT. One that literally depended on the actions taken in only a few seconds. It was the difference between Buffy's hesitation, and Faith's not. But I love this scene between Buffy and Faith - and Faith's finally admitting out loud that she does feel like she's better than other people because she's a Slayer was chilling.

Even if you accept that Faith feels a lot more badly about what happened than she's mouthing, that belief that she can't be held to human standards because she's different is a horribly worrying sign.

SC 10: After Faith walks away, Buffy returns home to find her mother waiting at the front door for her arrival. And with her, is again, Detective Stein (with an unfortunate moustache this time).

We cut back and forth between Buffy and Faith being interviewed by the police on what they were up to so late the night that the Deputy Mayor was killed. They both come close to giving stories that sound innocuous about hanging out with each other - but there is enough discrepancy for Stein to be obviously suspicious, though it isn't enough to pin Finch's stabbing on either of them.

As Stein leaves Faith's motel, Angel is there lurking and putting the pieces together as well.

SC 11: Despite Buffy telling Stein that she was beat and wanted to stop the interview to go upstairs, she actually goes over to Wills' and knocks on her patio door. Willow is surprised to see her, but (somewhat reluctantly) lets her in to talk.

Before Buffy can start on spilling about Finch, Willow starts by telling Buffy that she's been letting something fester. She goes on to tell Buffy that she's glad that her and Faith are bonding, because they work together and should get along. Buffy tells her that it's more complicated than that, with Willow not noticing that Buffy is starting to tear up.

She goes on a small rant about how she's tired of Buffy's attitude lately regarding how Wills wouldn't understand the Slayer business, when she's fought side by side with her for two years. And she feels like Buffy is slighting her just because she's not in the club of people who can kill things with their bare hands.

At this Buffy completely breaks down into sobs, mortifying Willow over making her cry.

SC 12: When Buffy has calmed down enough, she fills Willow in on what happened, and Faith's complete disregard over it.

Willow gives her the obvious, and only real advice she can: "You have to go to Giles...".

SC 13: Buffy goes to the library, where she finds Giles working late. She starts to confess, but then Faith comes wandering out of his office. Buffy tries to backtrack that she came because of the class skipping thing, but Faith shocks her by admitting she told Giles already about what happened and how.

Well, almost. Faith admits that she had to Giles what BUFFY did!

[OMG, Are you kidding me with this shit, FAITH?! I have tried so hard to stay on your side, but you're really going to go this way?!]

Buffy is more shocked... and disgusted... and shocked. She tries to tell Giles that it isn't the way Faith is making it out to be, but he's not having ANY of it. He shouts for Buffy to not say another word and to get in his office.

SC 14: As soon as Faith is surely gone, Giles goes into his office where Buffy immediately tries again to convince him that she didn't do anything. He tells her that he knows. Rupert tells her that Faith may have many talents, but lying convincingly isn't one of them.

[I don't like Buffy referring to Finch's death as "the murder" however. It wasn't murder, in that there wasn't an intention to kill Allan. This was a tragic, horrible accident that could have been avoided if Faith was in the habit of hesitating, the way Buffy always does, but this wasn't murder. I'm going to give Buffy some slack here because she's thinking that her mentor believes that she killed a man, but I wish the script hadn't had her use 'murder' here.]

After making sure Buffy knows that she shouldn't have waited to come to him, and after Buffy defends Faith's actions, Rupert assures her that this isn't the first time that a Slayer has killed a bystander. This comes as a surprise to Buffy, but Giles points out that the Slayer is called into a war on a nightly basis. There is bound to be accidents during battles, and it's tragic when it happens. But what is more bothersome than the act itself, is what Giles has gleaned about the situation, instinctively knowing that Faith is unstable and absolutely unable to admit out loud that she made a horrible mistake.

Buffy wonders what happens in this situation, and Giles admits the Council would normally investigate and mete out a punishment, if appropriate. But in this case, he wants to keep things from the Council, rationalizing that Faith doesn't need to be so forcefully confronted when she's obviously not dealing well with the aftermath.

Giles and Buffy come up with a vague plan on helping Faith come to terms with her responsibility and plan to meet with the gang to discuss how, without it coming across as an attack on her. But ALAS, DAMN IT, Wesley has come into the library and overheard enough to get the gist of what is going on. He stands there with grim determination.

Commentary: Am I just foolish, here? Even after Faith totally pinned everything on Buffy, I just feel so badly for her right now. I want her to be brought around, cry, be councilled through it and come out the other side a little more careful.

But I'm not getting the warm fuzzies about any of this. And Wes doing the proper-Watcher thing, which is written all over his hard features, is not helping me believe this can come out right in the end....

Damn it, I really like Faith (or more accurately, I really like Eliza's portrayal of Faith).

SC 15: Wesley loses no time in getting to a phone to call into the Council that they have a problem.

SC 16: The next day, the gang meet in the dining room of the school. [Giles'? Don't be ridiculous. Obvs, if you don't want to risk the library for a super secret meeting, the cafeteria is the next best, only solution. Oh, honestly, Show.]

Xander suggests that he may be the person who can talk to her. This brings to light that he and Faith have been intimate, which he believes gives them a connection that may help to reach her. Buffy points out that she got the strong impression that Faith doesn't take seriously people that she's had a connection with. Which Xan takes as an insult, despite Buffy trying to smooth his ego by telling him it wasn't meant that way.

With the uncomfortableness of finding out Xander has had sex... and with Faith, to boot, Giles turns attention instead to The Mayor and Mr. Trick's machinations. They make a plan for Xan to help Giles with research into Wilkins' background, while Wills will try to access the online files of the Mayor's office.

SC 17: A short time later, Willow - despite Oz - cries to herself in the school bathroom over Xan again choosing somebody he barely knows over her.

Commentary: And I really want to feel badly for Willow. Really. Buuut... seriously, Willow - you need to get a hold of yourself and move past this whole Xander-feelies thing. I know it was rough... for a time... but now I'm getting over you not getting over him.

SC 18: Meanwhile, Xander sits in the library alone, dealing with the blow to his ego, and his noticing Willow's obvious hurt in the cafeteria.

He can't really do anything about Willow's not-love-interest pain, but he convinces himself he can do something.

SC 19: Xander drops in on Faith that evening, fortunately her not having already left for a patrol. She's not very receptive to his visit, but he gets her to let him in for a few minutes.

Xander tries to show Faith some sympathy over what happened, but she's laser-focused on making sure that he 'knows' that Buffy is the accidentally-murderous Slayer. Xander just ... well, he doesn't get just how far off the ranch Faith has slipped by this point. He makes it clear that he doesn't believe that Buffy killed the Deputy Mayor, and that he knows that his death was an accident. He keeps offering that he's on Faith's side, and offers to testify on her behalf in court, if it comes to that. Which was probably not the best thing to suggest.

Faith accuses him of getting off on the idea of publicly telling his geek pals how Faith made him into her sex toy. And Xander tries, he really tries to get her to stop thinking that he doesn't care about what she's going through, but Faith is completely flipping out now. And everything he says, just seems to strike her wrong.

Xan admits to her that he thought they had a connection. But she laughs in his face over it, before tossing him roughly on the bed. She starts an aggressive, charged -uh- seduction? Before it turns dark.. I mean darker than the aggressive thingie. As Xan tries to tell her that this isn't what he came for, she responds by telling him that she could take him and he'd love it. She could hurt him. She could make him die... as her hands come up around his throat, and she begins to strangle him!

As Faith is watching the life being squeezed out of Xander, she hears her door open. It's Angel, and before there can be any response to his intrusion, he clobbers her in the head with a bat! [YES!! Thank you, Mr. Broody!]

Commentary: Okay. We are so done, Faith. DONE   I hope the Council drags you off to Watchers Penintentiary where they bury you in a hole until you're too old for any Slayer powers to matter.

SC 20: Faith comes to, chained to a wall at the mansion. Angel is watching over her. She tells Angel that whatever it looked like, she and Xan were just playing. Angel doesn't buy it, because clearly that is horseshit.

Angel tries to treat this as an intervention, but Faith tries to turn this into some kink he's pulling to get into her drawers. He tells her if she wants to take the long way around in discussing what is going on with her, he can do that. After all, he isn't getting any older.

SC 21: Angel walks away, and enters the courtyard, where Buffy is waiting out of sight. Angel warns Buffy that Faith is both going to be a hard nut to crack, and that ultimately, she may not want them to help her face what has happened.

Buffy believes that Faith wants help, but just can't force herself to ask for it. Angel fears that now that she's taken a life, she'll have a "taste for it". [Probably informed by the scene he walked in on with her and Xan.]

SC 22: In the meantime, Mayor Wilkins is pissily watching another lack of security around City Hall with Buffy and Faith having been caught sneaking around in the hallway, coming out of Allan's office. And worse, the timing coincides with he and Mr. Trick being chummy - something surely witnessed by the Slayer duo, and ergo pointing to the Mayor having something to investigate.

Mr. Trick offers that there was supposed to be a guard, which the Mayor finds an inadequate explanation. Trick tells him that the Slayers won't be of much interference in jail, but Wilkins tells him that they don't have enough hard evidence. He tells Mr. Trick that he'll have to come up with a more effective solution, and offers a not-very-veiled threat that his solution had better work.

Rather than beat feet out of town, and make a future enemy of the Mayor, Trick gets to work on solving their Slayer problem. [Alas for him, I suppose.]

Commentary: I really wish that we'd gotten a bit more of Trick throughout this season. Because it feels to me like he peaked at Slayerfest '98 and then just kinda was there since. Maybe the Mayor's accension should've had more complicated build up, that Trick would be more involved with. Or better, Trick could've actually been in cahoots with other demons, like Amulet-Guy secretly trying to stop the Mayor's plans. It feels like they didn't have much to do for Mr. Trick after Kakistos was dusted, and it feels like a lost opportunity.

SC 23: Meanwhile, Angel has gotten back to trying to talk to Faith about what his happening inside her, using his own inside knowledge of being a killer. She reflects it back on him, as sounding like he's the one who needs an intervention program.

They spar some more, with Angel trying to tell Faith that she's started down a road that will destroy her and her being resistant to anything he's trying to say to her. Angel tells Faith that he knows that people appear to only be there to hurt each other (cleverly playing on his guesswork about her background, I'd say) but that when he arrived in Sunnydale, he met people who were genuinely trying to help others. He tries to get her to trust them, just a little, to help pull her back from the darkness.

But a bang at the door interrupts his flow (kind of thankfully -- some of Angel's dialog here is a bit florid, and David doesn't particularly do well with florid dialog). The banging is Wes and the Council breaking in to 'rescue' Faith.

Or so she thinks. Angel's chains are replaced by Wes' as he cuffs her and informs her that she's under arrest of the Watchers Council to be delivered for trial. In the meantime, Angel is trapped in a net, and beaten senseless with crowbars to keep him from interfering [but naturally, no one bothers to dust him, which I find... hmmmm].

SC 24: A short time later, Faith is being smuggled out of town in a featureless delivery van. Wes does apologize to her for the extreme measures, but feels that circumstances require it.

He tells Faith that neither he nor the Council are rushing to any judgements about what happened. He notes her trying to loosen the eyehook screw holding her chain, and orders the help to tighten the restraints. DayPlayer is an idiot, and is easily knocked to the floor of the van, with Faith's boot threatening to crush his skull in about two seconds.

Now. If Travers had made the journey here himself, he would've said, "Sorry Mr. No-name, but you did know the risks of working for the Council." And then he would've told Faith to do what she was going to do, but to know that the commiserate punishment would be coming far beyond whatever she expects if she does so.

But, she's dealing with Wesley who has proven himself entirely out of his depth when things go pear-shaped. When Faith demands to be set free, he warns her that she's only making things worse for herself, but he complies.

[And exactly how this mission was undertaken without the Cocktail to remove her strength and several dart guns in evidence is simply incompetent, Wesley.]

Wes tells her she can't keep running, which earns him a face punch. He grabs a wrench lying on the floor, and tries to bash her with it, but she's too quick and grabs him arm. A head butt, and he's down long enough for her to kick open the doors of the van and take off into the night.

Commentary: I don't really like this whole scene. I know why they couldn't make the Council too competent of course, but honestly... this just doesn't seem likely, the way it's played out. They could've cut Angel's blathering a bit and pulled a few seconds screen time from a few other scenes to add up to more here, so there'd be more of a fight for Faith to free herself from custody.

This just feels a bit too clumsy and convenient for her to make her getaway.

SC 25: At about this time, Buffy returns to the mansion with Faith's personal belongings from her motel room to try to make her stay with Angel more comfortable. She finds Angel just recovering from his beatdown, and still entangled.

SC 26: A bit later, and Angel tells the assembled Scoobies that it was the new Watcher who took Faith. Buffy asks Giles what they'll do, and he offers that she'll go back to England and probably be locked up for a while. Buffy offers to rush to the airport and intercept them, but Willow wonders why they don't let the Council have her, after what she did to Xander.

Buffy acknowledges that Faith is out of control, but she also believes that Angel was getting somewhere with her. She wants to stop Wes from shipping her off. At that moment, Wes comes in to tell her that her plans to intercept him is moot.

Everyone is rough on Wesley for "letting" her escape, after "terrorizing" her. The gang split up to go in search of her before she can do anything more. Wesley offers to help out, but Buffy shuts him down by suggesting he use his ticket back to the Mother Country.

Commentary: I'm fully on Willow's side here. It's insanity to continue to try to save Faith from herself after the line she's crossed thus far. And I don't like the vehemence in this scene with Wes. Admittedly, the Council is generally douchebags, so I'm onboard with calling Wes out for his interference, and bumbling it but Angel and Buffy's tirades felt a little extreme to me.

It feels more like they're on Faith's side here so solidly ONLY because Wes butted in. And I would've liked to hear (scruffy though his voice would be on account of that recent strangling) Xander's take on trying to save her. Xan seems to put more effort into saving Faith from herself, than he'd ever given toward helping Angel overcome Angelus by saving his human soul. It would've been of interest to see how he comes down on Faith's rescue after her assault, rather than simply having him default to Buffy's orders.

I guess though that time really is a limiting element in this episode. It feels like this one could've really been fleshed out more, if only they had the running time for it. At the same time, I'm not sure if they'd have enough for a third episode in this mini-arc. But I might've been willing to give up Earshot (and I like that episode) for them to have given it a decent attempt.

SC 27: Buffy goes down to the docks, remembering Faith's mentioning of the freighters as a way to cut and run.

She does find Faith there, already boarding a ship due to depart. Faith confronts Buffy about how she only wants to help her as long as she changes to be more like herself. Buffy tells her that nobody is asking Faith to be a Buffy clone, but that she can't go on hurting people and herself the way she has.

Faith tells her that Buffy is just scared because she knows that she could be just like Faith, knowing that she is the law and that they can't be judged by human standards because of who they are. Buffy rejects this, but Faith insists it's true.

Faith calls Buffy out on her wanting Faith to toe the line, because her watching Faith living life her own way tempts her, and she knows that she could easily be her. Buffy tries to walk away, but Faith won't get out of her face, and Buffy reacts with a backhand to her face.

Faith smiles at hitting a point too close for Buffy's comfort. Buffy tries to walk away again, telling Faith they aren't doing this, but Faith asks why not, when getting the blood rising feels so good. Buffy unexpectedly pushes Faith to the ground, but not because she wants to fight her, but because she's spotted a pallet of crates being swung over them on a crane.

Before Faith understands the 'sitch, Buffy is pummeled by the falling crate pallet and pinned. Faith tries to help, but she's soon swarmed by vampires.

While Faith fights off her attackers, Buffy manages to struggle out from under the pallet. But she's still unsteady, and falls easily to a vicious attack by Mr. Trick himself who uses his scarf wrapped around her neck to swing her about, body slamming her into the crates, and keeping her too off balanced to recover from the hard punches he delivered to her jaw.

Commentary: And after Mr. Trick berating the crusader vampire that hid in the Mayor's office for not bringing an Uzi, it's a bit disappointing that he's not at least packing, even if he's the only one.

SC 28: Buffy looks on the ropes to Mr. Trick, as Faith finishes off the goons. She hesitates to go to Buffy's aid, glancing between her predicament and her escape freighter.

Mr. Trick, in the meantime, has Buffy where he wants her and leans in for the bite.

Before the fatal fangs can finish Buffy off, Faith stakes Mr. Trick to the back. In a replay of Faith's saving Buffy from the Cult vampires. Where in the earlier episode, she was smirking and wise-ass, this time her and Buffy stare at each other, and Faith looks more unsure of what will happen next between them.

Commentary: I just want to give a kudo here to Faith's stunt double. The fight scene between Faith and the multiple minions was really well filmed, down & dirty and looking like the punches were really hurting. It's not really possible to hide when Eliza and Sarah are replaced in the scene, which always makes things a bit awkward but this fight coreography was really well done.

SC 29: Later in the library, Buffy fills Giles in the encounter. She offers as proof that Faith wants to be helped with what happened that she could've left Buffy to her fate, but didn't. Giles admits that the fact that she returned to town with Buffy does point to her wanting to make amends, but warns that Faith still has a lot to face up to before she can really deal with the trauma of what happened at her hand. Buffy tells Giles that she won't give up on her, and he returns that perhaps Faith has a chance.

SC 30: Meanwhile, at City Hall, the Mayor is wrapping up for the evening. He's surprised to find Faith on his office door step. She accuses him of sending his henchmen to kill her, and he doesn't even try to pretend otherwise. She points out that they failed, which he informs her that he'd guessed considering she's standing there.

Shockingly, she then offers that she guessed that would mean he'd have a job opening... she strolls into his office, with him suddenly less pissed, and more intrigued....

Commentary: WHAT?! Are you flipping kidding me with this?! WHAT?!

Please tell me that Faith is risking going undercover in order to stop the Mayor as a way to make up for Allan's death. PLEASE.

The Good: It's in retrospect, but I really like Buffy's possibly-Slayer dream warning her of Faith's upcoming turning on her.

I also really liked that Allan's death is hanging over Buffy and Faith, both. And that despite the words coming out of Faith's mouth, you can tell that she's haunted by what happened but doesn't want to get in trouble over it. But I like that early in the episode we see her struggling with it.

I absolutely love Harry Groener's acting when it comes to Mayor Richard Wilkins.

I think that all of the scenes with Buffy and Faith, one on one, are terrific. SMG & Eliza are great sparring against one another about the nightmarish situation they're going through.

Absolutely loved when Faith tried to pin Allan's accidental death on Buffy, and how Giles played along, but immediately knew what really happened. Giles is the best (well, except for poisoning Buffy for the 18th birthday test, which still rankles).

Faith's twisting and turning through this episode! Everytime I want to join Buffy in finding a way to help Faith in dealing with her accident, she pulls something else to tick me off. And her throttling Xander is just the last straw. Thank you, Willow, for asking "Why?" in helping her further.

That last scene! Is Faith really joining the Mayor, or is this a plan to stop him from within??

The Bad: Really? In addition to the library, we're also now going to use the school cafeteria for secret meetings? I mean, I get it, you want to shake up the sets usage a bit but c'mon - if ever there was a good time to use the Giles' apartment set, meeting about Faith would've been it.

I have to put some of Angel's intervention with Faith, here. Some of the dialog was just a bit too much, and it was made more so by some awkward line readings/mumbling by David B. The whole thing really - including the Council intervention - was just unconvincing.

I'm also going to put the Council's retrieving Faith here, and her escape. I liked the moment when Wesley freed her, just to slap more chains on her but the Council keeps being talked up like they matter if they choose to intervene in Buffy's affairs but they keep coming across as bumblers in reality. It just ends up feeling like they're a lot of hype for no real payoff when it matters.

Other Thoughts: I liked Willow's role in this episode from her resentment at Buffy over Faith, to her suddenly comforting her when she thinks she made her cry, to her solid clear-eyed advice that Giles is the answer Buffy was avoiding. But, then they have that Willow teary-eyed over the Faith/Xan hookup, and I'm just impatient with this still being a thing when her and Oz are so right together.

I really take exception to everyone throwing the word 'murder' around when referring to Finch's death. I guess technically it was an accidental murder, but with Buffy pointing out it was an accident, it feels wrong that she'd use that particular word for what happened. It seems far, far more likely that she'd purposely avoid that word, and correct anyone else that described Allan's death using it, because she's so invested in helping Faith.

I'm a bit on-the-fence with Buffy's passion toward helping Faith instead of letting her run at the end of the episode. Obvs, I'm completely happy that Eliza will be sticking around at least to the end of the season, but it really feels like strangling Xander is a red line. I'm not convinced Buffy would let that slide for her, especially since she didn't like her to begin with. But I did like that confrontation at the docks between them before the vampires interfered.

Mr. Trick's exit was both overdue, and unfortunate. Unfortunate, because it felt like he could've had a lot more to do with either supporting or secretly hindering the Mayor. Overdue, because he didn't really have a chance to shine as a character after his Slayer '98 plot went bust. He probably should've been killed off in that episode for what he had to do after that point.

The Score: This is a really good episode for dealing with the aftermath of Allan's accidental death, and there are some very interesting things happening with the Faith character. There were a few awkward points, and some scenes felt a bit draggy without adding anything, but overall I was happy with this one. And that last scene of Faith and the Mayor was a great exit point for the ep.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Tags: buffy season 3 reviews

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