Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Faith, Hope and Trick   Rewatch 
May 20, 2015 10:20 PM - Season 3, Episode 3 - Subscribe

New slayer Faith blows into town on the run from the fearsome Kakistos and his henchman Mr. Trick. As Faith must face her demons, Giles pushes Buffy to face hers.
posted by yellowbinder (13 comments total)
Thank goodness, I was running out of patience and was about to post this myself.

I'm a sucker for a running gag where we mispronounce someone's name. Kakistos gets called Kissing Toast, Taquitos and best of all, Khaki Trousers. But, after all the talk about his being an ancient vampire, he died without too much fuss.
posted by skewed at 11:52 PM on May 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

This episode has a lot to set up. The arc for Faith this series will be for her to eventually fall from grace, but in a more natural way than Angel; they can't cheat and have her lose her soul, this will be a human making the choice to do evil. But it also, within the episode, wants to do a mislead: we think maybe Faith is bad news, but really she's just on the run.

I think this episode does pretty well at both. It clearly establishes Faith as a damaged person, someone who hasn't had the support network Buffy has, and has seen the only person she really trusted murdered by a vampire. It also makes the wise choice to kill off the boring over dramatic vampire, and keep alive the smart and amusing Mr Trick, who will serve as a main antagonist for the first half of the season while the mayor remains in the shadows.

Meanwhile we are introduced to the most mediocre love interest that has ever appeared on the show. Poor old Scott Hope, a budget Freddy Prinze Jr who has absolutely no chemistry with Buffy whatsoever. While I think this is somewhat deliberate, it would be nice to see Buffy date him somewhat because she is actually remotely interested in him, rather than she thinks she should. I suppose that's somewhat the point, but it makes him so utterly forgettable, so that we don't really miss him when he's gone.

Finally there's some nice continuity subplots in the background. Buffy gets let back into school, and gets to taunt Synder, which is fun, and meanwhile Giles has noticed that something has been bothering Buffy. I love his ruse to get Buffy to give information, and this sequence really underlines how much Giles has come to care for Buffy, that he is attuned enough to her emotional well being to see there's something she's been holding back on (if only that empathy had come to the fore more in Season 6, but if I had to grumble about all the character missteps 6 makes in order to service misery I'd run out of grumbles).

And, of course, with this Buffy can finally let go of Buffy... or can she. I gotta say, I don't love the decision to bring Angel back. I think it rather undermines Buffy's choice in the previous season, and some episodes it will be clear the show doesn't quite know what to do with him. But there was a spin off to produce, so back he comes!

All in all this episode is never going to make a top ten list. It's doing the grunt work to set up the rest of the season, but does it very well.

-"The thing with your mouth that boys like".
-Mr Trick draws attention to the lack of poc here
-The dream sequences are fun
-We actually get a quick shot of Faith dancing before she is formally introduced
-"Slaying always makes you hungry, and horny."
-Buffy has a bit of a slayer jealously problem. I guess this hasn't really been an issue other watchers have ever needed to deal with!
-"There are two things I don't believe in, coincidences and leprechauns". The beginning of the long running joke that the only mystical thing that doesn't exist in the Buffyverse is leprechauns.
-How do the vampires enter Faith's motel room? I guess it doesn't count as a separate home?
-The later call back, with Faith asking Buffy if she's hungry..
-"Keaton is key." They really do their best to give Scott a personality, but it really doesn't stick.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:07 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

And, of course, with this Buffy can finally let go of Buffy... or can she. I should really read these things through before posting them. Obviously Buffy should be finally letting go of Angel.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:47 AM on May 21, 2015

I love that of all the baddies Buffy's faced, she pulls out The Three as prime story material. You know, those badass bounty hunters that got quickly pummeled by her and Angel and then offered themselves up for dusting in failure. She's really selling herself short!

Faith is great, and it's totally great how smitten everyone else is with her. I also like the dialogue in the scene where Buffy's voicing her suspicions to Giles:

"Giles, the girl's not playing with a full deck! She has no deck! She has a three!"
"Don't you think you're being a little..."
"No, I'm being a lot."

I just love that she's confident enough to mention something's off while still admitting her own biases. She's really starting to come into her own.

Kakistos shows something we don't really see that much on the show - the idea that as vampires achieve advanced age, they look less and less human. The Master had his bat-like fruit punch mouth, and Taquitos is rocking some wicked cloven feet.

Cannon Fodder mentioned some "Ugh Xander" stuff in the other thread, and I'll throw in him calling Buffy a slut for smiling at Scott in the opening scene. Ugh Xander.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:31 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'll throw in him calling Buffy a slut for smiling at Scott in the opening scene. Ugh Xander.

Yeah, that irked me too, as did Cordy calling Faith "slut-o-rama" when they first spotted her dancing at the Bronze. Cordy's made such leaps and bounds in terms of becoming a part of the Scoobies, but every now and then she backslides. In some ways, she and Xander really are kind of a perfect couple, in a horribly toxic feeding-on-each-other's-negativity sort of way. IIRC, this was also around the time that the word "slut" started to become fashionable to use in an ironic or self-deprecating way, but the usage here (especially by Xander, who I'm still rooting for to clean up his act) just seems dated and ugly.

As for Scott...I'm not ashamed to admit that I'd totally forgotten about him. One of the things I've picked up on this rewatch is that Buffy's non-monster boyfriends all share a higher-than-normal level of schmuckitude, lurking just under the surface. Scott seems like an advanced version of Owen from S01; Like Owen, he's a weird, needy vortex of pseudo-intellectual quirks -- he likes Buster Keaton, that's like soooo deep -- but he doubles down on it by immediately being creepily possessive of Buffy in ways that Xander hasn't even cracked. Yo dude, you can date a girl without having to immediately give her a special "friendship" ring* and a big self-important speech about it. And maybe you should chill with the presents until you have at least one dinner-and-a-movie under your belts, okay?

On a more positive note, I really enjoy Eliza Dushku's introduction here. In some ways, I think she might have erred in trying to convince us of her chameleonlike range (or lack thereof) in Dollhouse, as well as Tru Calling before it. She's just so much fun as this earthy yet troubled "bad girl" slayer that I honestly think she could've just done that "Faith on a motorcycle" spinoff and it would've been a better career move.

*I wonder if Scott doesn't just have a drawer full of cheap metal claddaghs that he bought by the gross from Oriental Trading, which he customarily presents to any girl that he speaks to for more than two minutes.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:12 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Xander's slut comments really rankle. I agree that he and Cordy are a perfect match on so many levels. Mind you, his scarcely-concealed drooling over the thought of a naked Faith killing vampires, wrassling alligators etc just takes it to a new level of grossness. Cordy calls him on it, but not really that harshly considering. The Buffyverse is similar to our own in that "sluttishness" in a woman/girl is far more stigmatised than the same behaviour in a man/boy.

Aaaanyway, I completely missed that Scott was the "hope" part of the episode title. He's just so forgettable.

Faith, on the other hand - even knowing what's coming with Faith, I still feel pleased to see her. She's such a welcome contrast to Buffy and the rest of the crew - revelling in her senses, using the vampire as much as he's using her, shovelling in food like she's starving, taking out her aggression and frustration and feelings of helplessness on the other vamp - it's not hard to see why the Scoobies are so impressed with her, she lives at a level of raw honesty that can seem appealingly uncomplicated. But of course she isn't uncomplicated. She drives me nuts sometimes, but I love her because - like Cordelia - she says what everyone's thinking, but also because she's a Slayer, she can do really extreme things too. It's kind of odd that she fills that niche, when you consider Buffy herself is rather prone to act first, think later. Later episodes will reveal an undercurrent of Faithness in Buffy, of course, hinted at by Buffy asking Faith if she's hungry after they deal with Kakistos.

And Mr Trick. I do love him. He's so genial, so polite, so practical. An $0.89 soft drink - and you'll do for afters. I have a big weakness for polite, urbane villains and he satisfies that very well.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:31 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

One thing that strikes me as odd on rewatch about Scott Hope is that Buffy doesn't tell him that she's the Slayer. Like I get it's maybe not something you want to talk about on your first date, but it's something that could be a dealbreaker to a lot of people, and I'm wondering when, if ever, Buffy was expecting to tell him? Same deal with Parker in Season Four. I think on first watch I just kind of accepted the need to keep a secret identity, but keeping one from someone you are dating seems like a terrible idea.

Buffy has a bit of a slayer jealously problem

It's kind of sad because it's so--I don't want to say unjustified, exactly, because Joyce especially gets some digs into Buffy about why she can't be more like Faith. But despite everyone being charmed by Faith in this episode:

Willow will never have a friend that means more to her than Buffy, except maybe Xander.
Xander may have the hots for Faith, but would drop her in a second if Buffy ever showed any interest.
Joyce may find Faith charming, but she's also thinking about Faith as a means to an end: taking over the Slaying to allow Buffy to go to college.
Giles will never care about anyone as much as he does about Buffy (See Season Six, where he abandons Willow, Xander & co to fight demons without Slayer strength, Slayer instincts, or Slayer dreams AND raise Dawn without any concern about how they'll manage the demons or the finances. Once Buffy's alive, he returns immediately, and offers her a check and an explanation for his second departure, neither of which he cared enough to give the other Scoobies upon his first departure).
The only people who ever show any romantic interest in Faith are guys who were first really into Buffy, and rejected by Buffy.

Faith has so little, compared to Buffy, that a small amount of attention here seems like a really petty thing to get bent out of shape over. I'm glad they brought Faith back in Season Seven so the two of them could hash things out and interact in a healthier way.
posted by creepygirl at 8:48 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

That's really interesting, creepygirl - hadn't thought of it quite like that before. Any thoughts on why everyone loves Buffy so much? I mean, I don't hate her, but I also find her pretty annoying and, especially as the series continues, self-righteous in a very off-putting way.

Makes me like Faith even more now.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:56 PM on May 21, 2015

That's really interesting, creepygirl - hadn't thought of it quite like that before. Any thoughts on why everyone loves Buffy so much? I mean, I don't hate her, but I also find her pretty annoying and, especially as the series continues, self-righteous in a very off-putting way.

Makes me like Faith even more now.

I have to admit that I have never found Buffy annoying, (OK, maybe a bit in Beer Bad and Season 7, but jeez!) because I think her position is one of utter honest bravery. She complains and gripes about her position, but more than any other character in the show, she is always willing to get things done. She is, in my mind, the perfect hero. I mean, let's look at her track record

-Season 1, she goes to face the Master, despite knowing that she is likely to die doing so
-Season 2 she faces her first love in battle, and then runs him through with a sword when she knows she has to
-Season 3 she offers her own life to save Angel's.
-Season 4... ok that's more of an ensemble gig, so moving on...
-Season 5 she sacrifices herself to save her sister
-Season 7, she gets shouted out of her home by her best friends and her new army, is completely alone... and proceeds to go directly into the line of fire again, gets the magic artifact they need to fight the First, and kills the bad guy

Buffy may not be super book smart (although the show sometimes goes back and forth on how smart she is), although she can be pretty funny, but she is, deep down committed in a way I don't think anyone else on the show is. She is the slayer, in a way I don't think Faith or even Kendra ever get.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:28 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mr. Trick is one of two roles I've ever seen K. Todd Freeman in (the other being one of the CIA assassins in Grosse Point Blank) and he's great in both of them. I wish he'd get more work.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:50 AM on May 22, 2015

That's really interesting, creepygirl - hadn't thought of it quite like that before. Any thoughts on why everyone loves Buffy so much? I mean, I don't hate her, but I also find her pretty annoying and, especially as the series continues, self-righteous in a very off-putting way.

I think for all of them, some of it is hero worship, sheer admiration for all of the things Buffy does to protect them and the world.

I think she's a tremendously supportive friend to Willow, and encourages Willow's growth in a way that no one else does. Xander cares about Willow, but in a sort of protective older brother way, which I suspect Willow found somewhat patronizing. Buffy encourages Willow from the very beginning to put herself out there to meet guys, helps Willow dress up to attract guys on Halloween, suggests that Willow make the first move on Oz in Phases. My recollection (which may be proven wrong in this rewatch) is that Buffy is mostly supportive of Willow's use of magic. Giles is much more wishy-washy, alternating between "Magic is rilly dangerous, Willow" and, "Willow, can you do another spell for us?"

Xander--it's difficult to tease out his friendship versus his attraction, but I think it's fair to say that he likes strong women. Xander's growth seems less connected to Buffy than Willow's, and more something he does on his own.

Giles, despite his own fairly orthodox way of looking at the world, likes people who think outside the box (he loves Jenny, and I think he likes Willow a lot.)

Season 3 she offers her own life to save Angel's.

I think of that as a dereliction of her Slayer duties for personal reasons. (She tells Wes that "my lover is dying," not "My Slayer intuition is telling me Angel is needed for the fight against the Mayor"). If she had died, either in the fight with Faith or by feeding herself to Angel, the best case scenario is that a new Slayer would be called, be close enough to come join the fight, and be able to stop the Mayor right away. But we've seen from Faith that being a Slayer is no guarantee of being on the side of the good guys. We also see in Season Six that no new Slayer is called by Buffy's second death. It's a tremendous risk to leave the Scoobies to fight the Mayor without a Slayer, and thousands of people could die if they failed.

It ends up paying off, in that the trip to the hospital leads them to understand the Mayor's weakness and how to fight him, but to me that feels more like the writers being on Buffy's side than it actually being a great decision from a Slayer point of view.
posted by creepygirl at 6:05 AM on May 22, 2015

@creepy there could be an allegory to STI status and disclosure in that exposure to Buffy is exposure to very much heightened risk (but I'm glad the show didn't go there because it is not a perfect analogue and probably would have been as ham handed and awkward as the magic addiction/drug addiction plot line for Willow).

Buffy needs to keep her identity as the slayer protected though. She is a totem, a trophy, an obstacle and a vessel of mystically powerful extra delicious blood for all the evil on Earth and any dimensions looking to gain a foothold on Earth.

I think that on any first date Buffy has with a non-supernatural human, she should have a Morpheus moment and ask "have you noticed all the weird shit going on in this town?" A lot of people have, but suppressed it (Joyce to the parents coalition in the Hansel and Gretel episode, the student army on graduation day).

If the potential [tee-hee] suitor hasn't noticed, they probably don't need their bubble burst and are probably too dumb for Buffy anyway. If they know and don't care, they probably aren't strong enough to hold up to the inevitable torture that anyone in Buffy's inner circle will have to endure.
posted by elr at 1:10 PM on May 22, 2015

There's also the superhero secret-identity trope to consider. Although Buffy isn't quite at the power-level of a Marvel or DC A-lister, the show does openly partake in the conventions of superhero stories. One of those conventions being the necessity of a secret identity, to keep loved ones out of the villains' crosshairs. Although a certain number of characters have to know Buffy's Slayer-status in order to keep the show moving, this is still a world that isn't quite ready to face the reality of an unending demon war, so Buffy can't make that known to the community at large and expect the cooperation of the police and government, let alone random boys at school. Secret identities are a cliche, but they're a cliche for a reason.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:50 PM on May 22, 2015

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