Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Revelations   Rewatch 
June 3, 2015 10:22 PM - Season 3, Episode 7 - Subscribe

A new watcher shows up to take charge of Faith's training, stop a demon, and locate a powerful magic glove. Mostly that last one. Buffy's secret Angel smooching is discovered.
posted by yellowbinder (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks to Cannon Fodder for posting last week's episodes!

It's a shame Gwendolyn Post was evil as we do get a sense that she could have been really good for Faith. Of course immediately after the Spartan encouragement she begins playing her of Buffy, so there's that. Post's betrayal combined with Buffy's secrets really do widen the gap between Faith and the Scoobies, one that Faith is almost, but not quite, able to try to mend at episode's end. We get a preview of Buffy/Faith fights to come though, and it is awesome.

Poor Giles! Post really lets him have it, and Buffy's secrets further knock him down. His quiet lashing out at her always cuts me deep.

I was more on board with Buffy/Angel in Season 2 this time around than I have been in the past, but by now I'm just yelling at them. Seriously stop you guys! This way lies badness! While the Scoobies are hurt at first they're way too understanding once the dust has settled. Only baddies like Spike and the Mayor seem to understand that these two can never make it while the whole soul curse is in effect.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:39 PM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gwendolyn proving to be evil is kind of the nail in the coffin for Faith ever trusting another authority figure- while she accepts the Mayor's authority, he treats her as a valued associate who incidentally takes orders rather than as a flunky or subordinate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:35 AM on June 4, 2015


This is a really important episode, as I think it's key to understanding Faith's sense of betrayal. As yellowbinder says, Buffy lying about Angel plus Post then misleading Faith really heightens her issues with trust. I think it's really interesting how much Faith claims that she wants to be a lone wolf and doesn't trust anyone, but she's actually incredibly loyal to anyone who is good to her: both Buffy and Post get that initial treatment until she feels betrayed.

It's also worth noting that while some of it is self imposed, the scooby gang keep Faith at arms length. If it wasn't for Xander (urgh, Xander) then Faith would never have known Angel was back.

We get the contiunation of Xander and Willow's romance here. I find it really interesting how the show never makes it clear whether Giles knows about this. He never explicitly says anything, but he complains about not being able to find the book he needs, then a few moments later interrupts Xander and Willow when they are about to commit infidelity. I don't know what the intention of the writers were here, but it makes sense to me that Giles wouldn't be completely blind to what is going on.

Post's appearance also establishes the wider world of the council. The idea of other watchers has been mentioned, but we've never met one before. She is a jerk, and this lets us know that the council are jerks, even if she turns out to be rogue. Although this episode does hinge on Giles never ever contacting the Council, but there you go.

And of course, we have Xander being awful again. His intervention is pretty much directly responsible for the confusion in the final fight, and driving Faith away from the others. And look, he once again maybe has a point, but it's all tied up in the mess of his jealously about Buffy. I think the show will eventually feel a bit guilty about this and make up for it a bit in Amends.

-The Dingoes are now basically the only band that play at the Bronze
-So Faith doesn't get any money from the council then? Does she work a day job? How old is she? The economics of this show never make any sense
-Faith will talk to Buffy about men, but Buffy won't return the favour. She tries to communicate, but Buffy shuts her out
-Giles telling Buffy off is very effective
-Giles serves tea to Post in his office. Does he have a mini fridge for milk? Surely he doesn't use UHT!
-The glove is, yet again, a not very useful evil artifact. What does Post intend to do now she's essentially got a gun arm? Rob a bank?
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:38 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this episode is a harbinger of things to come. Faith's trust issues but also her need to have someone who cares about her rather than someone else who's just using her. The impossibility of the relationship between Buffy and Angel. Revealing secret relationships. A meddlesome Council. Even the dark magic ruining someone for good thing, which is serious foreshadowing.

I think the tightness of the plots and how beautifully each episode moves things along is part of why S3 is my favourite, even though several of my favourite episodes happen in S4 (you know I'm talking about Beer Bad). (S6 in particular just spins its wheels round and round the same rut, getting no traction, before Once More With Feeling comes and gets it all out in the open - except it turns out to be another rut.) But I digress, we are now in S3 where even the super-painful bits, like Xander and Willow, all build beautifully together.

As much as I love Willow, I loathe Xander this watch. She feels guilty but also explains why the secrecy is actually part of the attraction. Xander, as far as I can tell, is anxious not to be found out, but it's unclear to me whether there's anything more. Or maybe I'm just angrily refusing to cut him any slack, the way he does with Buffy. Once again, it's not just his jealousy but some weird kind of desire to control Buffy, especially when it comes to her sexuality. Giles has far more reason to be upset by the news of Angel's return - as he points out rather quietly - and yet he treats Buffy like someone who can make her own decisions. Xander just slings some more insults about Buffy giving Angel the happy, getting all pelvic with him, etc. It's gross. And then, of course, manipulating Faith into trying to kill Angel because he is the one who gets to decide, apparently. GAH I am just loathing Xander so much.

I do wonder about Giles though - he's been hit on the head so many times it's got to be affecting his brain. Twice more in this episode. Poor guy!
posted by Athanassiel at 6:12 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, a couple of mysteries that will never be answered: how does Faith pay for her Spartan accommodation (as Cannon Fodder mentions) but also, how does Angel gave so much weird occult knowledge? He seems to just remember about the Glove and also know exactly how to complete the ritual to destroy it, including the Latin, without any occult tomes or internet access. Maybe they gave him a refresher course in between torturing him in the hell dimension.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:21 AM on June 4, 2015


Well in Season 2 Angel mocks Spike for not knowing about Akathla. Telling him off for not reading his history books. Which... ok? Do vampires all get demon induction courses where they learn about their glorious history? I guess they've got a lot of time to kill during day time.

I sadly forgot all about my Giles knocked out count up to this point, but Cordelia is definitely right, the dude is extremely lucky that he hasn't woken up in a coma (man Cordelia is so much fun!).
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:36 AM on June 4, 2015


I'm usually not a huge fan of "everyone yells at Buffy" as a source of drama, but I think everyone had the right to be angry with her here. The Scoobies are putting their lives on the line every week to try to help Buffy fight the good fight, and I think they deserved to know that Angel was back as soon as he was back. The show has a weird attitude towards dishonesty, where sometimes it's THE WORST THING EVER, and sometimes no big deal, depending on the needs of the plot more than anything else I can decipher.

Xander: I can't remember him ever having any meaningful interaction with Jenny, so having him repeatedly bring her death up in arguments with Buffy just seems particularly annoying. Like I don't have any evidence that he cared about Jenny while she was alive, so bringing her just seems like he's using her death as a weapon to bludgeon Buffy (and inflict collateral damage on Giles and Willow, who actually did like Jenny).

So Faith doesn't get any money from the council then? Does she work a day job? How old is she? The economics of this show never make any sense


No, I don't think Faith gets any money from The Council. One of the things I found completely aggravating was that no one questioned Giles receiving a salary for his work for The Council (Buffy insists on his salary being restored in Checkpoint), but everyone laughs at Anya in Season 6 when she suggests Buffy be paid for slaying. Not sure if that was a blind spot by the writers, or a commentary on the expectation that women's work should be unpaid.

It's an utterly idiotic way to do things. If I were running the Council, I'd make damn sure that the One Girl in All the World wasn't distracted by worries about where her next meal was coming from, or how she was going to pay the rent. Because I like living in the world and want the person charged with saving it to have all the resources she needs. But the Council is consistently portrayed as being idiotic in similar ways throughout the series.

My fannish head canon for Faith is that her Watcher came into her life sometime really close to the time she was called as a Slayer, and more or less adopted Faith. Faith has a little bit of spending money that her Watcher gave her, and that's enough to pay for the fleabag hotel for a little while.

but Cordelia is definitely right, the dude is extremely lucky that he hasn't woken up in a coma Especially since the Buffyverse/Angelverse throws around comas like they're candy. (A coma for Willow! A coma for Faith! A coma for Cordy! Everybody gets a coma!)
posted by creepygirl at 8:51 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the tightness of the plots and how beautifully each episode moves things along is part of why S3 is my favourite

It's my favorite as well, even though I find the Buffy/Angel breakup/get back together cycle pretty boring. The season-long arc moves along really well. There are some"wheelspinner" episodes that don't move the arc along very much, but are very well-written and entertaining (I'm thinking of Doppelgangland and Earshot, for example). Faith and the Mayor are fascinating, multi-dimensional antagonists.

Getting back to this episode, Post deserves a lot of culpability for Faith's fall--she used a vulnerable teenager for her own selfish ends. But she never would have had a chance if The Council had communicated with Giles about Post's rogue status. I think a functional, well-run Council would have been the best line of defense against Faith going rogue. They could have made sure she had a stable living situation and a competent Watcher of her own. Instead--well, they were idiotic.
posted by creepygirl at 9:30 PM on June 4, 2015


As much as I love the Buffyverse, there's a lot of stuff you just can't think about too much or it all falls apart. Money is one of those things. The council seems to have money, and it's bizarre that they expect Buffy to follow their orders and endanger herself and routinely save the world, while she receives nothing in return and holds down a job at the Doublemeat Palace. (Also, while they tried to make it into a joke, it really was bizarre how everybody in Sunnydale could be so oblivious about the constant supernatural happenings in their town!)

But that stuff is like picking at loose threads on your favorite sweater. You just gotta leave those threads alone, or your beloved sweater will end up in rags at your feet!

For you re-watchers, are the band performances at the Bronze really awkward now? I remember them seeming pretty forced when the show was new, complete with the actual WB commercials that were like, "If you enjoyed the music of A Chair Full of Autumn* in this episode, pick up their new CD in stores today!" It was a critically acclaimed show with this weird, 90210-esque music biz marketing synergy gimmick going on. I imagine that stuff would play even weirder, seen today.


*No, there was a never a band called A Chair Full of Autumn on the show. Yet somehow, they were all A Chair Full of Autumn.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:00 AM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


For you re-watchers, are the band performances at the Bronze really awkward now?

Yes, so very much yes. Not as bad in the first couple of seasons, but from I think 5 on they're featured more heavily, involve more-recognizable bands, and suck the life out of scenes at the Bronze more effectively then any vamp ever did.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:33 PM on June 5, 2015


The bands that I like? No. The bands that I don't? Absolutely.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:10 PM on June 5, 2015


I think you have to treat the Watcher's Council just like Starfleet Command. All we see of it is corrupt and incompetent, it doesn't make any sense that it continues to exist. So I just pretend that we've got some sort of unreliable narrative problem, and the true nature of the Watchers and Giles connection to them is probably looser than it is made out to be. He's a rogue member of an ancient sect of pretentious ninnies who like to catalogue supernatural phenomenon, but he decided on his own that helping out the Slayer was a better use of his time. Giles isn't a minor member of the Watchers Council, as the show often suggests. I mean, that doesn't even make any sense, why would they assign anyone except the most accomplished and highly regarded Watcher to assist the Slayer?

I mean, the actual issue is that the writer's didn't keep track of this and didn't seem to care, but that's my retcon.
posted by skewed at 10:09 PM on June 6, 2015


but it makes sense to me that Giles wouldn't be completely blind to what is going on. Unless he has taken his glasses off to clean them, so he won't see what they're up to. Also the brain damage might not help.

There's so much in this show about trust, breaking of trust, seeking redemption for broken trust, and trying to trust again. Again, telling the truth and good communication could solve just as many if not more problems than pointy pieces of wood. It's like the "going it alone? Never helpful" theme.

The Watcher's Council is the worst. At least Starfleet Command makes sure everyone working for them is essentially fed and clothed and housed and such. (Random anecdote: once I was extremely distracted while watching a production of Othello because I was seated near Harris Yulin and I kept expecting him to explain to Desdemona that this was a test called the Cruciamentum that she was expected to pass).
posted by ilana at 12:02 PM on June 8, 2015


Oh, also:

Buffy: Synchronized slaying.
Faith: New Olympic category?
Buffy: (to Giles) Whadaya think?
Gwendolyn: Sloppy.

It makes sense Giles doesn't answer, as we all know synchronized swimming is a complete mystery to him.

It pretty much telegraphs that someone is evil when they come in and start belittling Giles' books and knowledge (Post, Walsh, etc.) and in this case, HIS TEA. Or at least that I will dislike them instantly.

I see Giles' quiet dressing down of Buffy as the mirror image of his quiet "my support - and my respect" speech in Innocence, and it's kind of heartbreaking to think of them together.
posted by ilana at 12:14 PM on June 8, 2015


The Watcher's Council is in some ways the absolute epitome of parochial patriarchy in this show. Like, to the point where I can imagine that Post was kicked out for things that a man would never have been kicked out for, and just went on her way (don't forget all the literal and figurative demons in Giles' past.)

So they have a salary for Watchers? Sure, makes sense. I'm sure they've got a hefty endowment after centuries of uncovering supernatural secrets and artifacts. Do they pay the Slayer? Of course not! It's women's work, she's not expected to live long anyway, and besides, why should they pay her for doing her duty? They are also completely given to traditions that don't have relevance any longer and the fact that their meddling only hurts things does nothing to dissuade them from being smug as hell about continuing to do it. They are the Delores Umbridge of the show.

Xander continually oversteps the line here in punch-worthy ways as regards Angel but he's also totally right. If anything, Willow is too easy on Buffy because she wants sisterhood over poorly-chosen make-out partners.Xander is probably just going the opposite way, though, projecting his own guilt and trying to find a moral high ground where he doesn't deserve any (an ugly place he'll return to again and again.)

I think the brilliance of this episode is how, by keeping Angel a secret, even though she and we know he's okay now (and doing his stupid-ass tai-chi that I hate so very much), it's enough to keep Faith at arms' length, and so there are always consequences, even when we understand why Buffy was doing it. Well, that and Giles ripping Buffy apart in his own quiet manner. (Which, itself, wasn't entirely about her or Angel, but informed by feeling threatened by Post's arrival.)

Damn, this is a solid episode. Except for the stupid-as-a-motherfuck tai-chi.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:44 PM on October 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Giles, no one's doing the I-statements!"
posted by bunderful at 5:20 PM on January 6, 2016


At least from TNG on, I think we were supposed to see the various Star Trek crews AS representatives of Starfleet. Earth was a utopia, and the Starfleet people on these ships were good, intelligent and compassionate ambassadors of Earth. Sometimes the brass back at headquarters could be real assholes, but we were given to understand that most of the time this was an organization that had its shit together and even when they did stuff that seemed callous or cruel it was almost always because they were trying to stick to the Prime Directive. Their intentions were almost always benevolent.

But the Watcher's Council is just a mess. How are they funded? What do they DO all day? How is their relationship to the Slayer supposed to work? It kind of seems like they're a paranormal research outfit with vast financial resources, and the Slayer is almost an afterthought. (Do they have other operatives handling supernatural threats, or do they just study this stuff from afar and trust that one superhero teenager in California is enough to handle everything?) They seem to feel that they can order Buffy around and criticize her and endanger her however they see fit, without giving her anything in return. (Well, except for her Watcher, whom they also seem to treat like crap. But at least they apparently pay him well.)

Seriously, I love the Buffyverse. I ain't a hater. But there are aspects of this mythology that are so dumb and weird it's like Joss just scribbled them out on the back of a cocktail napkin and then nobody ever gave another thought about how these things were supposed to work. The Watcher's Council is one of 'em.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:32 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


But the Watcher's Council is just a mess. How are they funded? What do they DO all day? How is their relationship to the Slayer supposed to work? It kind of seems like they're a paranormal research outfit with vast financial resources, and the Slayer is almost an afterthought. (Do they have other operatives handling supernatural threats, or do they just study this stuff from afar and trust that one superhero teenager in California is enough to handle everything?) They seem to feel that they can order Buffy around and criticize her and endanger her however they see fit, without giving her anything in return. (Well, except for her Watcher, whom they also seem to treat like crap. But at least they apparently pay him well.)

So here's my made up explanation of the history of the council.

The Council, as it exists now, came into being some time in the seventeenth century. Something of it's like had always existed, but the English decided to turn it into something more formal. They formed a secret society, a council, who would watch and wait for the Slayers awakening. They would ensure that said Slayer would be directed correctly at the greatest threats of the day. These, would, of course, be European ones. Using their members vast wealth plus discretely diverted funds from the Crown, they begun to find potential slayers. They would send people to watch them (who ended up being called watchers), and, if possible, directly intervene in their lives. They would often adopt children where possible, and if not, exercise some measure of financial control.

As the British Empire expanded, so did the operations of the Council. They had representatives across the world. The American revolution proved an unwelcome surprise, but the new world mattered very little to the stuck in their ways council, who were dealing with developments in China and India.

In fact the new world had been of such little interest to them that the Master, an ancient vampire who had long contended with the council, moving there and managing to create a hellmouth came as a profound shock. The council got lucky, because a sorcerer (Mayor Wilkins) took exception to a vampire trying to raise hell on earth in his town 100 years before he could. Still, it was clear that ignoring the Americas had been folly. The Council had very little presence there, and scrambled to get organised. Unfortunately this coincided almost perfectly with the breakout of World War 1 and, shortly after that, world war 2. The council fell to bickering, as some felt that they could use the vast supernatural powers they had access to could be utilised to help Britain in these conflicts.

Post the wars these conflicts weren't resolved. Society was changing, women were demanding to be directly involved in the organisation. Meanwhile, Slayers were being chosen in America, and the councils control over them was tenuous at best.

Buffy Summers marked their true failure. A potential they had somehow entirely missed. The first watcher they sent died in the line of duty, so they sent Giles. Giles could not know, as he was sent, quite how conflicted the Council was. There were factions who felt that the council was out of date, but others, run by Travers, who felt that the Council needed to assert it's authority more strongly. During the first two seasons of Buffy these two conflict and hardly even contact Giles, and when they do their orders often contradicted themselves. Due to a bizarre series of decisions, they even decide to keep the existence of Kendra secret from Giles. Giles is troubled by these revelations of the Councils fallibility, but keeps them to himself.

Season three, then, with Faith's watcher dying with no-one realising, the rogue Watcher Post almost causes calamity. This marks the conservatives, led by Travers, final take over of the organisation. When Giles fails the test, he sends a loyal lap dog in Wesley to take over.

Oh, in my head the Watcher was essentially paying for Faith's continued existence until killed, then everyone kind of forgot about it in all the confusion, and self reliant Faith was hardly going to remind them.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 4:19 AM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


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