Thursday, July 12, 2012

Consequences





Season #3, Episode #14: Consequences  
 
"I guess that means you have a job opening."
 
A funny thing happens when I don't update my blog for two months. I start thinking about updating my blog, and decide that I am not strong enough to undertake the arduous process of watching a 45-minute episode and writing some stuff. It seems like the most difficult and time-consuming process imaginable. But then I actually get up the wherewithal to review an episode and realize I am just a big fat whiner. It seems easy again. Expect frequent updates.

So, without further ado...Consequences.

Our episode begins with a dream of High Metaphorical Importance. Buffy is underwater, where gross dead Alan tries to pull her down further. She escapes and kicks to the top, where Faith is ready to dunk her back under. It would seem that she is dealing with the feelings of guilty and anxiety over Alan's death and her inevitable punishment for it...poorly. Whereas Faith gleefully ignores her emotions, and is also sadistic and evil!!!
 
Turns out Buffy's anxieties are justified. Despite Faith's reassurances in Bad Girls, a crack team of cops manage to find Alan's body in the water by morning. Props to the Sunnydale PD, who up until this point only turned up to scratch their heads at neck puncture wounds and recover Ted's corpse without realizing it was the corpse of a robot.

Wesley sends Buffy and Faith on their next mission--solving Alan's murder. Pursuant to Buffy's dream, Faith keeps her cool and agrees to join the investigation, while Buffy flails about in protest. Lucky for her, Wesley becomes distracted when Cordelia comes into the library with her youthful exuberance and feminine wiles. She asks him what he's doing in Sunnydale and he responds, "I am here to watch girls."
 
Later, Faith asks Buffy if she plans on turning her in, but not without first pulling some Jedi mind tricks to convince Buffy that they're equally responsible for the murder, which I don't think is strictly true in the dictionary sense of responsible or even the legal definition; she does a number on Buffy's psyche regardless.

And Buffy has plenty to worry about, considering the fact that everyone around Sunnydale is beginning to piece together the details. Angel remembers finding Buffy with blood on her hands (like, actual blood, we're out of the dream of metaphoric importance) at the scene of the crime, and Mr. Trick tells the Mayor that Alan had wood splinters from a stake in his stab wound. This delights the Mayor.
 
As part of her master plan to manipulate Buffy, Faith insists that there was probably something shady about Alan, and why was he out by himself in the alley anyway, and at this point you realize that the Slayers are not yet onto the Mayor's more evil pursuits. It really has been a long time since I've watched the show.
 
Anyway, while digging through the Mayor's files, Faith tries the old statistical approach to dealing with murder, and tells Buffy that since they've saved so many people's lives, killing one person is no big. I seem to recall somebody using this same argument back in Ted to help assuage Buffy's guilt, but she wasn't buying it then, and she's not buying it now. They may have a sacred calling®, but Buffy doesn't feel it makes their lives more valuable. Faith disagrees. She flat-out says, "We are better." A more adept blogger than myself might call this part of the "bargaining" stage of grief to follow up her previous encounter with Buffy, which was maybe "anger," though I'm not sure which comes first--possibly sloth?

(Also, there's a huge missed opportunity to tie the events of Ted into this episode, as they're basically rehashing Buffy's process of grief after she killed a "human" only to contrast it with Faith's process. But there's no need to do that, since they already did it in Ted. Plus, the whole "I killed a guy before you made it fashionable" line of conversation might be to Buffy's advantage here.)

Regardless of her disagreement with Faith, Buffy keeps up the act when a detective turns up at her door questioning her whereabouts the previous night.
 
Desperate and alone, Buffy goes back to Willow to confess. You will recall that she blew Willow off in the previous episode to go hang out with her cool BFF Faith like so much fairy dust in a princess hat. But her foray into cool-ness with the hip, popular girl left Buffy wanting to go back to her more innocent former life. You'll notice that even the wardrobe choices here set Faith up like a jezebel, while Willow and Buffy are dressed like a six-year-old and her doting soccer mom, respectively.
 
Unloading to Willow gives Buffy the courage to go to Giles and confess. Only Faith is already at the library when she arrives, having confessed to Giles her fanciful version of the story in which Buffy killed Alan. I mean anyone can see through that, look at their outfits.

Luckily, Giles sees right through Faith, but doesn't let on. He finds her unstable and dangerous until she's able to take responsibility for what she did. He and Buffy decide to leave the Council out of it until they're able to try to get through to Faith, but a dramatic camera pan reveals Wesley sitting outside listening to their covert plan.
 
Then we get to a point where I realize I have no idea what is going on in the series because Xander is confessing to having slept with Faith, and Willow finds this traumatizing and cries in a bathroom? And I'm like wait, where's Oz? Did Willow and Xander already do that awful thing that I swore I would never think about ever again? Are we still hung up on this?
 
Anyway, the context for this is that Xander thinks he can get through to Faith due to the fact of their boning in The Zeppo, and despite Buffy's protestations, he stops by her place to try to reason with her. Suffice it to say that Faith is not really receptive. She first attempts some good old-fashioned sexual assault and then tries to choke Xander, possibly to death? And while I can't say I love Xander, this is probably as strong a declaration of Faith's crossing into evil-dom as there ever will be.
 
Good for Xander, Angel is doing what he does best and lurking creepily in the shadows, and knocks Faith out with a baseball bat. Faith gets tied up in Angel's lair. Angel drops some knowledge on Buffy about what it's like to kill a man, and his assessment is basically that it's not all too dissimilar to opening a can of Pringles. Which is to say that they shouldn't have too high hopes of Faith's rehabilitation.
 
He tries to reason with her nonetheless, giving her a pep talk about redemption, and the power of free will, and for more, make sure to tune into Angel the Series! He knows what it's like to feel drunk on power, and that ending a life with your own hands is the pinnacle of that power. Unfortunately, Wesley already tipped off the Council that Faith is the culprit, and they bust in at this precise moment to find a vampire holding a Slayer hostage. They tie Angel up in a net and arrest Faith.
 
Poor Wesley, however, is too much of a bumbling moron for words, and basically gets slapped up and down a police van by Faith. Buffy chases her to a dock where Faith is trying to hop aboard a freighter. Here we get lesson #3 in master manipulation, as Faith accuses Buffy of being jealous that she can't live free and die hard and, handily for the viewer, explicates the basic reason for the existence of her character: "You need me to toe the line because you're afraid you'll go over it."
 
Because at the end of the episode, all three of Faith's appeals to Buffy are true, in a way. True in the way that anyone who has ever been a 4-year-old or a Chuck Palahniuk fan will be able to relate. Faith argues that: (1) It's Buffy's fault, too, and (2) even if it isn't her fault, who even cares, cos using an abstract intellectual argument about math, nothing really matters dude, and (3) whatever Buffy you're just jealous!

But there's more to what Faith says than just me being disingenuous. Throughout this season, Faith has served as Buffy's mirror, or in her own words, an example of what Buffy could be if she didn't have to toe the line. She is Buffy's repressed dark side. She gives into her baser impulses of a person with power, to exploit, to take thrill in exerting her power, to succumb to her earthly desires. And if Faith doesn't repent for doing these things, if she just gets away with it and doesn't have to suffer the consequences, then that means Buffy has no reason to stop herself from crossing the line. Because why not? Faith's having fun.

And that all sounds well and good in my head. But in my humble opinion, creating an entire character whose function is to be a mirror, rather than an actual person, is more obnoxious than intellectually satisfying. And Faith annoys the crap out of me. Nothing that happens with her character after this point held any weight with me the first go round, because suddenly we're supposed to stop seeing Faith as Buffy's shadow figure and feel sorry for her. And in episodes to come we're going to get some vague back story to flesh out Faith, but it's a hack job. They take her character too far with too little to carry her. OR SO I THOUGHT the first time--I'm already enjoying Faith more now than I did then. I will be happy to be proven wrong.

So anyway back to the dock. Mr. Trick turns up to take out the Slayers with their newfound knowledge of the Mayor's dirty doings, and very nearly kills Buffy--only to be unceremoniously turned to dust by Faith. Mr. Trick, we hardly knew ye. I mean, seriously, what a wasted character.
 
But the fact that Faith saved Buffy when she didn't have to tells Buffy that she isn't really all bad after all. I think we pretty much settled this roundabout the time she almost murdered Xander, but hey, maybe I'm just a pessimist.

And sure enough, no sooner does Buffy express hope for Faith's redemption than Faith goes to the Mayor's office and asks him for a job.

Too far, and too little to carry her?

2 comments:

  1. Good to see you back and blogging on Buffy again. I know how you feel. I blogged pretty regularly on Buffy's episodes but other commitments and the fact that as the series gets older and more complicated blogging on it gets much more complex, complicated, consuming, and physically demanding. I have started blogging again but I am not sure how much more my body can take.

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  2. That Angel sure was tied up snug as a bun in that net!

    Yeah, Faith didn't really almost kill Xander in the way that Joyce never really almost burnt her daughter at the stake. *Xander voice* 'But won't anyone think of that time a demon in the shape of Angel killed my good friend Jenny!'

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