Act Three: With Faith making inroads with the Slayer-gang, she finds out what the other uses Julia’s powers have been used for… mugging… exactly what she thought was happening when the bad guy turned out to be a vampire in the alley. It turns out, that not all of the guys being attacked by the Girl-Squad are vamps.
Julia reacts with indignation to Faith’s moral judgments, justifying that she and the others need to eat and it is their power. They can use it as they see fit. In addition, at least they’re free to do as they wish, rather than jumping to the Council’s commands as Faith does now that she’s “sold out” for a few meals and a bed.
Unfortunately, the rest of the conversation goes badly for Faith and the girls who she thought she’d convinced to come and check out the Council end up returning with Julia instead. She also gets a threat to ‘watch your back from now on’, but honestly, Faith could kick Julia’s butt with one arm tied down.
Later that night in the gym, she meets Kennedy who’s working off a little frustration of her own. Faith tries to get her to share, and just when she does, Robin interrupts. And when he tries to get her to open up, she puts up the same walls that she had just gotten done talking to Kennedy about! Bottom line: She stomps off to spend the night in the Slayer dorms, instead of talking to Robin, leaving her, Kennedy and Robin all frustrated. And me too… quit closing up Faith!!
Alas, she ignores me and Robin is left to wander away alone back to their suite.
And we flashback… this time we’re back with Robin and what he’s had to deal with: New York City, 1991
The now 18-year old Robin is on patrol with his Watcher/Foster father and makes quick work of a marauding vampire. But it’s not the vampire that he wants… he isn’t even blond. The quick upshot of this is that Robin, of course, is still searching for Spike at this point, though he doesn’t know it. He wants to find the ‘blond’ that killed his mother and is frustrated that his father figure can’t tell him more about who she was hunting that night.
The ex-Watcher wants Robin to never forget that he has to have a life outside of killing vampires. He doesn’t want to see the young man consumed by the need for revenge and to miss out on the whole purpose of fighting the forces of darkness in the first place: for love, for life.
Returning from the flashback finds us in the Council kitchen early the next morning. Kennedy comes in for coffee having obviously had a bad night of sleep. As it happens, her Watcher, Ro, is also there… she’s been reading through Brian’s journals (the ghost in the scarecrow from last episode). This gives Ro a chance to do a little probing into Kennedy’s mental state and help her with her feeling in regards to what occurred to Lori during last episode. Nothing gets resolved, alas, and Kenn runs off to ‘work out’, even though she’s obviously exhausted.
Before Ro can fully think over that matter however, Faith comes in followed closely by Willow. There’s a lot of nervous stuttering and finally Willow gets around to inviting Ro to a shin-dig that Becca is performing at, which Ro innocently agrees to. She goes back to reading the journal in her hands as Willow makes a quick retreat.
It takes Faith to point out that Willow was “totally hitting on you”.
And she isn’t the only one. Xander comes in “a day late and a dollar short” to also ask Ro out to Becca’s invite. Of course, Ro insists that her and Willow going is not a ‘date’, which Faith continues teasing her about. Ro invites Xander to go with her and Willow… all in a non-date fashion.
Faith leaves to see to the training schedule for the Slayers. As she orders them to take laps, Julia makes another appearance:
And her re-entry into the story leads us into….
Act Four: "What are you doing here?" Faith asked Julia. "For someone that doesn't like the Council, or me for that matter, you seem to be showin' up an awful lot."
"It's not my fault some of my girls liked what you had to say," Julia responded. "Especially Mia, who has almost as much pull as I do with some of them. Anyway, they wanna stop by and get the tour."
Julia arranged through Faith to bring ‘her’ girls around the next day sometime, but she’s confidant that they’ll remain loyal to her. One wonders if she includes Mia….
The next scene is Faith giving the rest of the Council’s bigwigs (our main cast, of course) the details about the new girl’s meet and greet. It becomes obvious with some commentary by Faith that the whole “with great powers, comes great responsibilities” spiel isn’t going to go far with any of them. If the Council wants to entice these “wild-childs” into coming into the fold, they’re going to have to come up with some arguments for why they’ll be better off than they are on their own.
As the meeting breaks up, Giles mentions that Willow and Rowena are working on identifying the demons so far that they can link to the Presidium, which is a nice touch. Considering that their greatest foe is still so shadowy and all, it’s nice to see that they’re not ignoring the issue.
With the meeting broken up, we’re also confronted with more domestic issues between Robin and Faith. He can recognize a lot more than Faith really wants him to, and he understands how deeply she is affected by these girls. It’s obvious that she sees a lot of herself in them, but she won’t talk to him about what she’s feeling and thinking which has him frustrated.
"I don't get it," he admitted quietly. "How could we have come this far, invested so much into us, and you can't open up to me about who you used to be?"
The dialog that follows really boils down Faith’s issues for us. In fact, she has already said as much when she was telling the other girls how great being in the Council was… she feels inadequate in this relationship. Her past, her being a drop out, the things that she’s done… Robin is “out of her league” and she’s still waiting for him to wake up and realize the fact. She’s done a great job of ignoring her insecurities… after all she is a hot chick with superpowers… but being confronted by this particular situation brings up all of those things about herself that she hates and can’t go back and change.
It’s always interesting when we see a Faith who’s no longer cocksure of herself and her place in the world. Eliza always had a look of vulnerability in her eyes that brought out how much she was struggling, even when she was throwing attitude around the room. I’m thinking specifically of the scene in her crappy motel room with Buffy following her being fooled by Ms. Post and WaTchers is really good at bringing out that side of her character through dialog without making her OoC about it.
Unfortunately, Julia hasn’t gone far… again… and has been watching Faith the whole time. She confronts her again about how she doesn’t seem as happy to be “closed in” as she pretended. The character dynamics are fascinating… you can see Julia trying to tempt Faith away at the same time that Faith herself is trying to tempt Julia to come into the fold and I get the impression that Faith herself isn’t aware of what Julia is trying to do, at first. It becomes obvious that Julia wants more than just to protect her own turf and crew… she wants Faith to break free of the Council’s control and join her, instead. “To be free” rather than be suffocated by the Council’s rules.
As Faith is struggling to articulate why she wants to stay with the Council and all that being there has done for her, another member of our extended cast is having no such doubts. In fact, she wants to be more involved.
Becca comes to Giles with an idea to start a series of music courses at the Slayer’s Academy wing of the Council. She wants to offer the girls something other than work outs all of the time. And her and Giles are so frickin’ cute together that I must give them the edge in “Cutest Couple”… at least until Robin and Faith can get their act back together. Sorry, R/F, hand over the crown….
In another part of the Council, Willow and Rowena are tallying what they know or can guess about the Presidium’s activities… unfortunately, though a semi-cute scene, it leads nowhere. That’s not a slam against the story… Willow and Ro agree with me… they still just don’t know enough about their foe to really make a plan of action.
Later that same day, in another part of the Council, we check in with Kennedy. And boy, is she still beating herself up over her poor choices lately. Once again, it’s Andrew who finds her and tries to get her to talk about what she’s going through. As he says….
"Something's going on with you," he said as he walked up to her. "I know…it's like a fifth sense I have."
Yeah, even when he’s being kind and empathic, he’s still a nerd. Kennedy doesn’t bother to mention it’s more like a sixth sense….
Anyway, the bottom line is that Kenn feels like she’s slipping downhill fast and can’t seem to stop the downward momentum. It’s time, she feels, to leave the Council, shocking Andrew into silence.
The Good: Well… the character work for Kennedy and Faith is nice. Any scene that has Becca and Giles together is nice. Some of Faith’s dialog in dealing with Julia is… nice. I like that things are not always smooth sailing in our character’s relationships with one another… in this case Robin and Faith. It’s entirely in character for Faith to not want to talk about the past and to harbor insecurities about Robin sticking around, especially her inferiority complex about how educated he is compared to her abbreviated education. It’s frustrating as a Faith fan to see her struggling through this when we know that Robin is head over heels for her, but it’s also very realistic. Kennedy’s bomb shell gave the episode a little ‘punch’ there at the end. It was nice to see the back story for Faith and Robin, building on what we learned in BTVS. I really like the episode poster for this one, too.
The Bad: Hmmm…, well, as you can see from ‘The Good’… everything was… nice, but it wasn’t exactly riveting. I’m not sure that dealing with the “street Slayers” needed to be extended into a two-parter. Although many of the dialog scenes between Faith and Julia were good when taken by themselves, all together over the whole of the episode they seemed just a little repetitive. In fact, the whole of the episode was good, but it just lacked excitement after the teaser scene and feels overall like everyone is sort of standing around and waiting for the next episode to tie loose ends up that really didn’t need to be left dangling.
The Score: If ever there was a “middle of the road” episode, this would be it. There is nothing glaringly wrong with it, and yet, it feels like a single episode plot stretched into a two-parter. I’m not sure exactly where things could have been tightened up, exactly (but the scene about the Presidium could probably have been cut, since it amounted to “we don’t know anything useful yet”) but possibly giving us a closer look into the Girl-Gang members and their views of this new development, and especially the feeling within the gang regarding Julia and Mia’s obvious conflict might have helped. I’d give this a solid, average 3 out of 5 stars.