Monday, February 28, 2011

Classics: BtVS 4:15/4:16 - This Year's Girl / Who Are You

Overall Rating: 9.7

While this feature two-parter may not rise to the level of Bad Girls/Consequences amongst Buffy's more ambitious stories, it does something very important for Faith's character that was badly needed - it strips her of her excuses.

Plot Synopsis:

Part I is detailed here and Part II is here, both courtesy of

The Skinny:

SABR Matt: My co-author's comments are very astute - I think she hits the nail on the head with regard to Faith's emotional state. I think this episode teaches once again that people who do evil are universally self-hating children desperately trying to fill the gaping holes inside themselves that love (a process that begins from within) should fill. The violent brutal assault she deals her own body in the end is just plain chilling and wonderfully acted. Where does rage originate? It comes from within, not from without. Doing something that is inherently unselfish has a way of making us see that seeking what we crave selfishly can only eliminate all hope of ever giving us what we need. Meaningless sex cannot ever lead to fulfillment. Selfish hedonism cannot ever make us feel validated. Casual alliances with people offering us what we think we want (attention and respect) cannot replace friendships, familial ties and love that is earned through years of contributing to the growth of those relationships. Faith gets to live as Buffy for a time, and in so doing, realizes that Buffy's life is better because Buffy *IS* better (not in intrinsic value...but certainly in spirit).

Stephanie S: I really do think Faith's fall-and-redemption arc is one of the best written arcs in the Buffyverse. Consider the many interesting scenes here. We have, for example, that moment in which Joyce wonders aloud what terrible unhappiness has driven Faith to criminal insanity. Faith, of course, throws up her defensive wall and denies that unhappiness has anything to do with it, but her earlier reaction to the Mayor's recording reveals conclusively that such denials are lies.

Faith is unhappy. She is, at heart, a little girl who craves affection so badly that she will do anything to get it. She will throw herself into meaningless, rage-filled sex. She will ally herself with a dangerous Big Bad. She will kill and maim and destroy all to fill a gaping hole inside herself. And yet -- here she learns for the first time that in the process of chasing after love, she has in fact divorced herself from all healthy sources of that love. She sleeps with a young man who presumably treats her tenderly, and it cuts her to the core because she realizes then that she's only been using people who don't deserve to be used. She tries to ignore her responsibilities as a slayer, but when she nonchalantly saves a girl and the girl looks upon her with sincere gratitude, she can't help but be touched by the encounter.

And then we get to the end, when Faith realizes that doing what is right is infinitely more fulfilling, at which point she pummels her own body in a violent display of self-hatred. How does this story succeed so spectacularly? Let me count the ways.

Writing: 9.5 / 9.5

When you do a body-swapping episode, you have to be careful not to treat the swapped person as if she were still basically the same before and after the swapping and, IMHO, you also run the risk of writing a script where you treat your swapped character as though they could possibly act identically in their new body. This script ably avoids both errors. Faith is still Faith when she's in Buffy's body, but she rightly learns from the experience and is in fact impacted (IMHO) by her new body almost immediately. We've talked about dualism here before - we think it's a trap for the sci-fi inclined mind - but I don't think the Buffy team believes in it either.

I would also likeo to commend the script-writers for giving the first half a truly frightening edge and then changing tone and letting the second half lead us to some introspection. Both tones are, IMHO, appropriate.

Acting: 9.5 / 9.5

Elisa Dushku (Faith), Kristine Sutherland (Joyce) and SMG carry the mail very nicely, and there are some interesting contributions from other players as well - including a lovely cameo by Harry Groener (the Mayor).

Message: 10.0 / 10.0

All through third season, Faith developed a massive jealous hatred for Buffy's circle of friends, her father figure Giles, her mother, and her "golden girl" aura. She tried, very briefly, to fit into Buffy's family, but her attitude always got in the way, and this eventually drove her to madness. Here, Faith is forced to confront the reality that her isolation and the consequences she paid for turning to evil are a hell of her own making.

All along, she'd assumed that Buffy's life was easy...that because she was luckier than Faith, had the breaks go her way (anything that can't be blamed on Faith personally was used as an excuse), was the "good girl" who played by the rules, etc. she was just dealt the better hand. But getting the chance to live Buffy's life, Faith realizes that Buffy had all of that support because she'd earned it through years of walking a path of maturation and character building, rather than selfishness and (hence) cold detachment. Buffy's greatest gift, as we'll find out in the fifth season, is love - and Faith doesn't even know how to love, though she tries, once again, to fit in, and finds it next to impossible, until she chooses to be a little less selfish.


Xander: So, here it is. The latest in state-of-the-art combat
technology. I gotta say, it doesn't look that complicated.
Buffy: So can you repair it?
Xander: Sure. As soon as I get my master's degree in advanced starship
technology. (LOL!)

Faith (VO): Think it's gonna rain? (Cut to Faith and Mayor having a picnic in the park.)
Mayor: Nonsense. It's a beautiful day. Now eat your sandwich.
Faith: I dunno. It just always seems like it starts raining about now.
Mayor: You're too young and too pretty a girl to start wearing worry
lines on your face. (Picks worm off blanket) Hey there, little
fella. I dunno where you belong, but it's not here with us. (Chuckles)
There you go. (Puts the worm back in the soil. Talks to Faith again)
Y'see, there's nothing gonna spoil our time together. Who wants cheese
cake? (Chuckles - Faith looks down and smiles, then suddenly looks up behind the Mayor.)
Faith: NO! (Buffy comes up behind the Mayor. Runs him through with Faith's knife.)
Buffy: (To Faith) I told you I had things to do.

Riley: What're you doing?
Buffy: I am looking for brain washy chips in your head.
Riley: Heh....finding any?
Buffy: Not sure. But I should probably keep looking just in
case. You've been strong long enough, Riley Finn. I'm here for
you. And we're gonna find this demon, and we're gonna kill it
together. And in the mean time, you are gonna stop torturing yourself.
Riley: Sure about that?
Buffy: It's an order.

Giles: What is it?
Buffy: It's Faith. She's awake. (All look surprised) She beat someone
up, took her clothing and disappeared out of the hospital. No-one
knows where she is.
Xander: I'd say this qualifies for a "Worst Timing Ever" award.
Willow: What do we do?
Giles: Well, we have to find her.
Willow: What about Adam?
Xander: I'd hate to see the pursuit of a homicidal lunatic get in the
way of persuing a homicidal lunatic.
Buffy: Well, Faith's not exactly low-profile girl. I'll patrol and
wait for her to make a move.

Faith: So, check you out B. Nice, the big girl on campus thing's
really working for you.
Buffy: I've been looking for you.
Faith: I've been standing still for eight months, B. How hard did you
Buffy: Are you alright?
Faith: Five-by-five. It's that thing about a coma. Wake up all rested
and rejuvinated. And ready for payback.
Buffy: So much for pleasantries, huh?
Faith: What did you think, I'd wake up and we'd go for tea? You tried
to gut me, bonny.
Buffy; You'd have done the same to me if you'd had the chance.
Faith: Lets have another go at it. See who ends on top.
Buffy: It doesn't have to be like this, y'know.
Faith: Actually, I think it has to be exactly like this.
Buffy: Faith, these are innocent people.
Faith: No such animal.
Buffy: I guess it was too much to hope that you'd use your downtime to
reflect and grow.
Faith: I could say the same about you. I mean, you're still the same
better-than-thou Buffy. I mean, I knew it somehow. I kept having this
dream, I'm not sure what it means, but in the dream the self-righteous
blond chick stabs me, and you wanna know why? (Shot of Willow taking her backpack off her shoulders.)
Buffy: You had it coming.
Faith: That's one interpretation, but in my dream, she does it for a
guy. (Willow comes towards Faith from behind her, wielding the bag.)
Faith: (To Willow) Try it red, and you'll lose an arm. (Back to Buffy)
I wake up to find the blond chick isn't even dating the guy she was so
nuts about before. I mean, she's moved on to the first college
beefstick she meets. Not only has she forgotten about the love of her
life, but she's forgotten about the chick she nearly killed for
him. So that's my dream. That and some stuff about cigars and a
tunnel. But tell me, college girl, what does it mean?
Buffy: To me? Mostly, that you still mouth off about things you don't

Willow: Don't worry, we're sure to spot Faith first. She's like this
cleavagy slut-bomb walking around "Ooh, check me out, I'm wicked-cool,
I'm five-by-five." (LOL!)
Tara: Five-by-five? Five what by five what?
Willow: See, that's the thing. No-one knows. Buffy can handle Faith
and you're plenty safe with me.
Tara: So, um.......we recon till nightfall?
Willow: Then the ritual hiding begins.

Xander: Spike?
Giles: What are you doing here?
Spike: Me? Hey, I'm not the one out of place here.
Xander: For your information, smarty, we've got a rogue Slayer on our
hands. Real psycho-killer too.
Spike: Sounds serious.
Giles: It is. What do you know?
Spike: What do you need?
Xander: Her. Dark hair. Yay (Indicates) tall, name of Faith, criminally insane.
Giles: Have you seen her?
Spike: Is this bird after you?
Xander: In a bad way, yeah.
Spike: Tell you what I'll do then. I'll head out, find this girl, tell
her exactly where you are and then watch as she kills you. (Sees their
looks of surprise and irriatation.) Can't any one of your damn little
Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all? Just because
I can't do the damage myself doesn't stop me from aiming a loose
cannon your way. And here I thought the evening be dull. (ROTFL!!!)

Mayor: Hello Faith. If you're watching this tape, it can only mean one
thing. I'm dead. And our noble campaign to bring order to the town of
Sunnydale has failed. Utterly and completely. But on the other hand,
heck, maybe we won. And right now, I'm on some jumbo monster in the
Richard Wilkins III Library surrounded by a bunch of kids sitting Indian style and
looking up at my face filled with fear and wonder. (Laughs) "Hi kids!"
(Faith smiles) But the realist in me tends to doubt it. Now, Faith, as
I record this message you're sleeping. And the doctors tell me you
might never wake up. I don't believe that. Sooner or later you will
wake up, and when you do, you'll find the world has gone and changed
on you. I wish I could make the world a better place for you to wake
up in. But, tough as it is to accept, we both have to understand that
even my power to protect and watch over you has it's limits. See, the
hard pill to swallow is that once I'm gone, your days are just plain
numbered. Now, I know, you're a smart and capable young woman in
charge of her own life, but the problem, Faith, is that there won't be
a place in the world for you anymore. By now I bet you're feeling very
much alone. But you're never alone. You'll always have me. (Picks up
box) And you'll always have this. Go ahead. Open the box. (Faith takes
box from the case and looks at it.) Don't worry. It's not gonna
bite. That's my job. (Laughs) Go ahead. Open it. (She does so)
Surprise! You won't find these in any gumball machine! See, when
you've been around as long as I have, you make friends. And some of
them forge neat little gizmos. Just like the one you're holding right
now. (She looks at it) And here's the good news. Just because it's
over for my Faith, doesn't mean she can't go out with a bang. (He
looks down and laughs sadly. Faith looks sadly at the device.)

(This is so heart-breaking...Faith looks like Daddy's little girl here and Daddy's really feel bad for her for a minute)

Faith: Ruby sunset....burgundy skyline...harlot. Mmmmmmm, way to go
Joyce. Now, normally I wouldn't be going for something this dark. But
I read in some magazine that eight months in a coma will damage a
girl's natural skin tone. (Puts on lipstick) Good thing pale is in
this year. Or was it last year? (Finishes, kisses mirror.) Anyway,
for real now. I wanna ask you something, and I want you to promise to
be honest, and to not spare my feelings just because I could kill
you. You promise?
Joyce: I promise.
Faith: OK. (Finishes with hair) How do I look? (Poses)
Joyce: Psychotic. (HA!)
Faith: Mmmmmmm. I was shooting for sultry, but hey. Bet I know what
you're thinking.
Joyce: Really.
Faith: You're thinking "You'll never get away with this!" Moi?
Joyce: Actually I was thinking "My daughter is going to kill you
soon." (AWESOME!!)
Faith: That a fact?
Joyce: More like a bet.
Faith: Whoa. You got a pair on you, Joyce, I like seeing that in a
woman your age. Guess you can afford to talk that way. I mean, in the
world according to Joyce, Buffy is gonna come crashing through that
door any minute. But, look what I found. (Goes over and picks up some
letters, comes over to Joyce. Reads addresses.) Buffy Summers, Buffy
Summers, Buffy Summers, Buffy, Buffy, Buffy. Lotta letters. She hasn't
been by in a while, huh? And you'd think, with a crazy chick like me
on the loose, crazy chick with a wicked grudge against her no less,
she'd call, give you a heads up. But Buffy's too into her own deal to
remember dear old mom.
Joyce: You don't know the first thing about Buffy. Or me.
Faith: Don't I? I know what it's like. You think you matter, you think
you're a part of something and you get dumped. It's like the whole
world is moving and you're stuck. It's like those animals in the tar
pits. It's like you just keep sinking a little deeper everyday and
no-one even sees.
Joyce: Were you planning to slit my throat any time soon?
Faith: Don't tell me you don't see it Joyce. You've served you
purpose, squirted out the kids, raised her up, and now you might as
well be dead. Nobody cares, nobody remembers, especially not Buffy -
fabulous superhero. Sooner or later you're going to have to face
it. She was over us a long time ago Joyce. Too busy climbing onto her
new boytoy to give a single thought to the people that matter. I mean,
you're her mother, and she just leaves you hear to die. (Grabs knife - Buffy crashes in through the window and punches Faith.
Buffy: Hi mom. (NYAH!!)

Joyce: (Sees Mayor's device) What is that?
Buffy: Weapon of some kind. (Crushes it underfoot) Didn't work,
whatever it was.
Joyce: Oh, the Police. (Buffy looks at Faith.)
Buffy: She's their problem now.
Joyce: You sure you're okay?
Buffy: Five-by-five. (oooooooh!!!)

Joyce: I just don't understand what could drive a person to
that kind of behavior.
Buffy: Well, how do you know she got drove?
I mean, maybe she likes being that way.
Joyce: I'll never believe that. I think she's horribly unhappy.
Buffy: Well, could be things are looking up. I mean, a little
stint in the pokey, show her the error of her ways.
I'm sure there's some big old Bertha just waiting
to shower her ripe little self with affection. (listen to
Joyce: Buffy!

Buffy: Why, yes, I would be Buffy. May I help you?
Buffy [sounding]: Buffy.
[She sticks out her tongue again. She adjusts her hair.]
[She shakes her finger.]
Buffy: You can't do that. it's wrong.
[She shakes her head slightly.]
Buffy: You can't do that because it's naughty. [louder] Because it's wrong.
[She tilts head.]
Buffy: [softly] Because it's wrong.
[She points very aggressively.]
Buffy: You can't do that. It's wrong. I'll kick your ass.
I'm gonna kill you. (this scene is well done and necessary...shows how little she understands Buffy)

Tara: But you think Buffy can handle her.
[Willow sits up.]
Willow: I think so. but that doesn't mean Faith won't hurt someone else.
Tara: Well, you should be safe. nobody knows you're here.
I mean, uf, they don't even know I exist, right?
I know all about them, but...
[Willow puts her hand on Tara's knee for a second.]
Willow [softly]: Hey.
Tara : I-I mean, t-that's totally cool. It-it's good. It-it's better.
Willow: Tara, it's not like I don't want my friends to know you.
It's just... well, Buffy's like my best friend, and she's really special.
And there's this whole bunch of us, and we sort of have this group thing
that revolves around the slaying, and-and I, I really want you to meet them.
But I kind of like having something that's just, you know, mine.
And I, I usually don't use so many words to say stuff that little,
but do you get that at all?
Tara: I do.
Willow: [sighs] I should check in with Giles, get a situation update.
[She gets up and walks behind Tara.]
Tara: I am, you know.
Willow: What?
[Tara turns and looks up at Willow.]
Tara: Yours.

Giles: Unless I'm mistaken, Faith is no longer in police custody.
Buffy [stands]: What are you talking about?
Giles: Watcher's Council. They uh sent a retrieval team to capture Faith.
Buffy: Well, yeah, I mean, 'cause it worked so well when Wesley tried it.
Giles: This is a special operations unit. They, uh, handle the council's
trickier jobs - smuggling, interrogation, wetworks.
Willow: What's wetworks?
Xander: Scuba-type stuff.
Anya: I thought it was murder.
Xander: Well, yeah, but there could be underwater murder, with snorkels.
Buffy: So they're taking her to England?
Giles: It'll be a long, long time before she returns.
Buffy: Heh heh heh. ahhh Hah hah. Hah hah. ohhh I'm sorry.
It's just...I'm happy. Faith is evil. (really...really creepy)

Buffy: I forgot how much you don't like Faith.
Willow: After what she's done to you? Oh, I wish those council guys would let me have an hour alone
in the room with her, if I was larger and had grenades. (LOL)
Buffy: I bet I know what Faith would say to that.
[Buffy springs forward with a knife and sticks it in Willow's stomach
in the same place Faith was stabbed. She pulls the knife out and
stabs Willow again] (all a dream of course...but dayam that's frakked up)

Giles: But if you're, uh, keen to go, then, please, by all means, go.
Xander: We kind of have a romantic evening planned.
Anya: We were gonna light a bunch of candles and have sex near them.
Buffy: Well, we certainly don't want to cut into that seven minutes.

(DAMN!! Faith is PISSED...LOL)
Anya: Hey.
Xander: I believe that's my hey. Hey!

Spike: You know why I really hate you, Summers?
Buffy: 'Cause I'm a stuck-up tight-ass with no sense of fun?
Spike: Well, yeah, that covers a lot of it.
Buffy: Cause I could do anything I want, and instead, I choose
to pout and whine and feel the burden of slayerness? I mean, I could
be rich, I could be famous, I could have anything. Anyone.
[Buffy moves closer and puts her hands on Spike's chest.]
Even you, Spike. I could ride you at a gallop until your legs
buckled and your eyes rolled up. I've got muscles you've never
even dreamed of. I could squeeze you until you popped like warm
champagne, and you'd beg me to hurt you just a little bit more.
And you know why I don't? [She moves closer and looks up at him
pursing her lips.] Because it's wrong. Humh humh. [She moves off.]
Spike: I get this chip out, you and me are gonna have a confrontation.
Buffy: Count on it. (wow...this is so disturbing...)

Buffy: So you guys been hanging out a lot lately, huh?
Tara: Yeah. she's, um, she's really cool.
[Buffy nods and blinks slowly.]
Buffy [grins]: So Willow's not driving stick anymore. Who would have thought?
I guess you never really know someone until you've been inside their sking.
And Oz is out of the picture? Oh, never seen two people so much in love.
She just couldn't get enough of old Oz.
Tara: She, um, said he, uh, uh, w-w-w-w-w-went
Buffy: He w-w-w-w-what? You gonna get that sentence out sometime tonight? (ooouch...although she does have a point...)

Faith: Giles, Faith has taken my body, and for all I know,
she's taken it to Mexico by now. I-I don't have time for
bondage fun. Ask me a question. Ask me anything.
Giles: Who's president?
Faith: We're checking for Buffy, not a concussion.
Giles: Oh, yes, Alright. um...
Faith: Umph, Giles, you turned into a demon, and I knew it was you.
I mean can't you just look in my eyes and be all intuitive?
Giles: How did I turn into a demon?
Faith: Oh, cause, uh, Ethan Rayne. And-and you have a girlfriend
named Olivia, and you haven't had a job since we blew up the school,
which is valid lifestyle wise. I mean, it's not like you're a slacker
type, but...Oh, oh! when I had psychic power, I heard my mom think that you were
like a stevedore during sex. What? Do you want me to continue?
Giles: Actually, I beg you to stop. (heh)
Faith: What's a stevedore?

Vampire: I told the cops, they send any one in, I start the whole
massacre thing.
Buffy: Well, I'm not the cops. I just come to pray.
Vampire: now's a good time to start.
Buffy: You're *not* gonna kill these people.
Vampire: Why not?
Buffy: Because it's wrong. (and this time she means it!)

Faith: You can't win this.
Buffy: Shut up! Do you think I'm afraid of you?
[Buffy grabs Faith and throws her down, then sits on top of her
and starts punching her.]
You're nothing. [Punch. Punch.]
Disgusting. [Punch. Punch.]
[Buffy grabs Faith's hair with both hand and bangs her head.]
Murderous bitch. [Bang. Bang...] You're nothing. [Bang. Bang...]
[Switches back to punches] You're [Buffy is now crying.] disgusting.
[Faith grabs Buffy's hand to stop a punch and their hands glow.] (this has to be seen to be believed...I actually welled up watching it)

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