Thursday, June 07, 2007

Buffy Wednesday (6-6-07)

I discovered that a child at tyranist's house refers to the days I come over as "Buffy Wednesdays" too. Children scare me.

I much prefer the summer over the winter, mostly because of the weather, but also because it seems I accomplish so much more with hours of extra daylight. When I get to tyranist's place--no matter how late I arrive--it's still light out and by the time he forcibly removes me from his house, there's no problem with icy roads or worries that my rapidly aging car will fail to start.

Recently, I found out that if I bring a movie over, I can convince The Captain to only watch one or two episodes of BTVS. This week, it was a weaker-than-average horror flick, UNREST. Expect my review of that one around September.

So, we caught two episodes where Faith played a major role. The first was called "Bad Girls," and in it, Faith's devil-make-care antics begin to rub off on Buffy (is Buffy her real name? Couldn't it be short for Belinda or Bethany or Buffadrona or something?). Faith, as we saw in "The Zeppo," gets an almost sexual thrill out of killing vampires, and convinces Buffy her experience is very similar. She unsuccessfully tries to convince Buffy that Slayers are better than other people and should be able to take and do whatever they please. I believe that I made a similar statement in another post, but it comes out kind of ugly when Faith says it, and Buffy feels strongly the other way. It's funny how much growth as a character Buffy has made in such a short while, but maybe it just takes a person like Faith to demonstrate that.

We're introduced to a group of vampires who dress like monks and wield swords. Also making an appearance is Balthazar, an immensely fat (and naked) demon. And Wesley, Giles's replacement as Watcher for Buffy makes his first appearance. No idea why Faith still doesn't have a Watcher, but hey, I don't write the show.

Wesley is so British and uptight that when he pees, it only comes out a drop at a time. He's stuffy and arrogant and in need of a good beating, but he's another of those characters who is merely an impediment to Buffy's happiness, and not a villianous soul. Also, he seems to find Cordelia attractive, which is amusing. Somebody told me that the actor who plays him, Alexis Denisof, married Alyson Hannigan in real life. So he must've done something right.

Speaking of Hannigan, it constantly surprises me how they manage to give Willow something interesting to do in every episode. This is sometimes the case with the other characters (though Cordelia and Angel tend to have the least interesting one scene business), but she must be a writers' favourite, 'cause there's always a moment, however brief, they give her to shine. In this one, she is jealous of Faith's influence on Buffy, and how the fact that they're Slayers gives them a bond she can't share with them. At least Buffy has to turn to her to get her studying done . . . except that in this episode she blows all of that off to go vanquish evil and/or party with Eliza Dushku, and that hurts Willow's feelings. Willow is sweet.

Tyranist either doesn't like Faith or ... maybe I'll rephrase.

Faith and Buffy are up to all kinds of tomfoolery, and even get arrested at one point (though they get themselves out of it with zero difficulty). The big moment in this show came toward the end where Faith stuck her stake into a man lurking about (despite Buffy's warning), only to find that it was not a vampire, but the mayor's all-too-human assistant. The big conflict between them has been brought to the forefront in as unsubtle a manner as possible. Buffy is shaken by it, Faith defends her accident, and later returns to dispose of the body alone.

I don't want to say that it was badly written--'cause it wasn't--but it seemed like a contrived situation to me. In the next episode, it's explained that the lackey was seeking out the Slayers (perhaps to warn them, perhaps to sell his secrets to them, perhaps to kill them himself, perhaps just because they looked pretty hot that night) and hence was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There was also a neat moment when Wesley is captured by Balthazar and before he can be tortured, or even threatened, he tells the demon what he wants to know, quite the opposite of what we've seen Giles do. Clearly we're not supposed to like his character (and we don't), but it'll be fun to see what they do with him. And if they can change our minds about him.

And speaking of our opinions changing about characters, the next episode, "Consequences," brings our girl Faith farther along a darker path than I certainly ever expected. For some reason, the mayor's lackey's death is a big piece of news in Sunnydale, which must be dirt-cheap to buy a house in, 'cause people are always showing up to be murdered.

Wesley thinks this murder should be investigated, and Buffy wonders whether she should tell someone what happened. The mayor figures out that a Slayer killed his assistant, and sends the police Faith and Buffy's way. Luckily, nobody remembers that they were arrested and got away a couple of days earlier.

Faith seems to feel remorse for killing the man, but then turns away from it and goes back to her "Slayers are above the law" attitude, especially when she finds out that the mayor has dealings with vampires. Buffy entrusts Willow with the truth, and decides to tell Giles as well. When she goes to the library, Faith is already there, and has told him what happened . . . that Buffy accidentally killed the mayor's aide.
At this moment, tyranist paused the DVD and we talked about it. It is what we would do every week during the commercials, were "Buffy" airing in real time. Since tyranist (The Captain) wields the remote control, he is the one who decides when we should talk about something, but sometimes I will ask him to pause it and he obliges, because I need a plotpoint cleared up or want to express how I'm feeling about something. In this case, we had a lot to talk about. Why did Faith go to Giles first? Was it because she knew Buffy well enough to know she'd be unable to keep the secret, or was it some kind of pre-emptive strike? Would Giles believe Faith over Buffy? If he did, would that be out of character? After all, Buffy had lied to everyone about Angel's return earlier in the season.

Well, we needn't have worried, because Giles saw through Faith's deception and only allows her to think that he believed her story. He wants to help her, but Wesley overhears and decides to turn Faith over to the Watchers' Council in England. The gang gets together to talk about what to do with Faith and Xander volunteers to go confront her about it. He thinks that he has a connection with her and reveals that he slept with her a couple of episodes back. Buffy sort of dismisses Xander's suggestion, understanding that sex doesn't mean to Faith what it means to . . . well, all the other characters.

In the next scene, Willow cries alone in a bathroom stall. Jesus, the poor girl.

I honestly don't know why she was so broken up by it. It's not something that tyranist and I talked about, and there's a good chance I'll never know.

I'm reminded of the "Firefly" episode "Heart of Gold," where Mal sleeps with . . . what was her name? Nandi, it was Nandi, the leader of a group of prostitutes. And Inara seems not only cool with it, but manages to insult Mal about when she catches him the morning after. Before we can judge her as too heartless, we see her alone, weeping uncontrollably in her bedroom, and at the end of the episode, she tells Captain Reynolds she's leaving the ship.

It's one of the most memorable moments in the short-lived show and definitely the most telling about Inara, though it has always struck me by its contradictory nature.

But in "Buffy," I just don't understand the Willow thing. Is it because she loved Xander first? Is it because they almost got together and had to separate for the good of their significant others? If so, she's gotta understand that while she got cute and cuddly Scott Evil back for plenty more non-carnal interaction, Xander got the one-two punch of jack and shit. Does it have something to do with the fact that she is not sleeping with Oz in lieu of a more Disney Channelesque relationship? Is it because she knows that Faith is a giant skank and is sad that Xander would sleep with that? Is it because . . . of all the roads not taken?

Like I said, I may never know.

So, back on "Consequences," Xander decides to go see Faith anyway. His attempts to get through to her fall on deaf ears, and first she tries to seduce him, and then, strangely enough, she begins to choke him. I thought it was just a sex thing, and then a power thing, but you know, she may well have actually killed him had Angel not shown up and popped her in the head with a baseball bat.

Sounds a bit like my high school Homecoming dance. Only with more romance and less rain.

Angel takes Faith to his non-sunlit hideout and chains her up. He tries to get through to her by telling her he knows what it's like to kill someone, and it looks like he's making headway, where Buffy and Xander could not. But then Wesley busts in with his Watcher Posse and restrain Angel while they take Faith into custody. In retrospect, Angel got off pretty easy, since the Watcher Posse knew he was a vampire, using crosses on him. They might have staked the guy as well, instead of throwing a net on him and leaving.

Faith manages to escape Wesley and Co., and Buffy knows just where she'll go: the docks. Buffy tells Faith to let her help, Faith tells Buffy to come over to the Dark Side with her ("with our combined strength we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the Buffyverse"), when suddenly, Trick and his vampires attack. Buffy saves Faith from being crushed, and Faith saves Buffy from Mr. Trick, staking him just in time.

All's well that ends well, and it appears Faith is going to be okay. Except then she goes to the mayor's office and volunteers to take over Mr. Trick's place in their sinister organisation. The End.

Nice dark stuff, kids, again written by Ms. Marti Noxon.

As I said in my very first "Buffy" post, I never found Angel interesting until he went bad. I have no idea how long Faith will stay bad (or even if she is truly bad, we'll see), but I am interested. Morally ambiguous characters can be fascinating, and I'm reminded of the X-men panel I went to where the writers said they had no interest in resurrecting (the saintly, heroic) Jean Grey because (the cunning, arrogant, and occasionally duplicitous) Emma Frost was infititely more fun to write. Hey, I ain't saying that Buffy is a boring character, but take that as you will.

Tyranist pointed out the other day that we're not even halfway through the series, and that's a good thing. We've got a week off between Buffy Wednesdays, but I can't wait to find out what happens next.

Rish "To Be Continued" Outfield

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