"He said he lived for kissing toast. Taquitos?"
Hello, reader! I know at least one of you is out there, as I received a blogger e-mail today from someone I've never met asking me if I intended to continue on with my blog! As it turns out, flattery is awfully motivational. So this one's for you, blogger guy!
And anyway, October has got to be the official month of Buffy, no? In honor of this month--the best month--I will do my darndest to review many episodes. Maybe even two in one go! And what better way to start than with the introduction of a New Major Character!
Two shady characters in a black limo roll up to the McDonald's drive-thru, and suddenly you remember that the last "big bad" skipped out of town with his ~*~crazy~*~ girlfriend, and that the real "big bad" was "put down like a dog," as Cordelia astutely describes. Sure enough, these two seem like big bad material, saying of the Slayer: "I'm going to rip her spine from her body, and I'm going to eat her heart and suck the marrow from her bones!" Could they be the major new characters??
Principal Snyder agrees to let Buffy back into school so long as she gets a teacher to write her a letter of recommendation and sees the school psychiatrist. Could the kindly psychiatrist be the new major character??
The Scoobies rejoice that Buffy is back, and that they are cool seniors with open lunch status, which for some reason is an actual thing that people in the real world care about. Giles, on the other hand, is all business, asking Buffy to give him all the nitty gritty details about Angel's demise so he can prepare some Aramaic doodad to prevent Acathla from coming back, blah blah. Who cares because...
Hey, did you hear that Darling Violetta are playing at The Bronze tonight?
Oh, The Bronze, how I've missed you. I recognize this band as having done the theme song to Angel, which technically I shouldn't know exists yet. They provide an adequately angsty backdrop to Buffy turning down Scott, a harmless teen boy fighting for her affections. New major character?
Buffy is distracted by a girl Cordelia charmingly calls "Slutorama" who is seduced out of The Bronze by a vampire. The Scoobies run out to save her just in time to see her kick the crap out of the vampire and introduce herself as Faith. As Oz notes, "I think there's a new Slayer in town." If you're like me watching this for the first time, your reaction will be, "Eliza Dushku is in this show??"
Faith is the new major character. She is the Slayer called forth after Drusilla killed Kendra, who is meant to be the working class response to bougie Buffy. She's crass, fun-loving, and says slaying makes her "hungry and horny."
Faith is a bad girl who wants to live large. She'll become a pal, a foil, and a source of sexual tension for Buffy, and do all of this while wearing lots of eyeliner and press-on tattoos, using cheeky phrases like "five by five," and living in a seedy motel.
In theory, Faith sounds awesome and she should totally be right up my alley, but it is no secret that she is one of my all-time least favorite characters. (Riley, Drusilla, and Faith--the unholy trifecta.) Where do we go wrong? I'm excited to get through this season again, as I do love Faith as a concept, and her arc is intellectually satisfying. But execution-wise? We'll see.
The two big bads from the beginning of the episode turn out to be Mr. Trick and this guy who looks like he wandered of the Star Trek set. The latter is super pissed that the Slayer gave him a big scar on his face, or maybe gouged out his eye?
But, as always, interpersonal drama permeates all. Faith warms herself immediately to the Scoobies with her tales of naked alligator wrestling (Xander), calling Giles young and cute (Giles), and charming dinner table banter (Joyce). The only one who remains unconvinced is Buffy, who resents Faith for trespassing on her turf. She doesn't begrudge Faith for stealing the spotlight, but for mirroring her life exactly, down to hitting on Scott, the inoffensive fella from The Bronze. Remember the mirroring!
Buffy and Faith go on their first co-slaying adventure together, and we see the sinister side of Faith's wily charms. Faith leaves Buffy pinned by a vampire while she repeatedly punches another in the face with a big old grin. Hungry and horny, likely. Buffy warns Giles that Faith seems to enjoy the slaying thing a little too much.
Giles discovers that rather than being at a Watcher convention in the Cotswolds, Faith's slayer was actually killed by Star Trek guy, who is actually an ancient vampire named Kokistos. Revelations! Faith is on the lam, and her tough-as-nails facade wears when he comes knocking on her door. But actually, they dispense of him rather anti-climatically. I thought this guy was gonna be the new big bad?
But they bond, and share post-slayage cheese fries. Faith confronts her fear. And she will remain in Sunnydale indefinitely.
I've neglected to mention that per David Boreanaz's contract, Buffy visits Angel in her dreams each episode, sometimes on a beach at sunset, dancing slow at The Bronze, whisperin' sweet nothings.
One wonders--will we have to endure this for the rest of the season?
Fear not, reader.
Buffy finally accepts Scott's offer to go out on a date, but balks when he presents her with a claddagh ring, as Angel gave her the same ring back in Surprise. But after a heart-to-heart with The Scoobies (to be described later), she decides she's ready for closure and asks Scott for another chance. She then goes to leave the claddagh at the site where she stabbed Angel in Season 2. So sweet!
And then who should burst forth but...sweaty naked David Boreanaz?? Oh, to be a fangirl watching this in its original broadcast...
So let's take stock. We have Faith the bad girl Slayer. We have Mr. Trick, the new vamp in town. We have puppy dog Scott. Angel emerges from the depths of hell. But...who's Hope?
Favorite moment: At the very end of the episode, Buffy reveals to the Scoobies that Angel's soul was restored when she killed him. You know, in case it helps with Giles's Aramaic spell. Everyone gets teary-eyed, Sad Theme #4 twinkles, and Giles reveals, "There was no spell."
Oh Giles, you card!