Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Bad Girls   Rewatch 
June 24, 2015 9:25 PM - Season 3, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Wesley Wyndham-Price arrives in town to serve as Buffy and Faith's new watcher. Rather than submit to the order he wishes to impose, the slayers explore a more impulsive attitude, with deadly consequences.
posted by yellowbinder (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Apparently there's a line in the script describing Wesley as a guy who thinks he's Sean Connery but is actually George Lazenby. It's kind of amazing just how far the character came from here to the end of Angel. I mean, in this episode he's just silly as hell and he shows a real cowardly side. As the years went by he didn't just shuck off the comic relief British twit stuff and become a bad-ass. He became one of the most complicated, tortured souls in the Whedonverse.

In related news, Charisma Carpenter has been added to the cast of the upcoming series Scream Queens. She'll be playing the mom of one of the main characters. If that makes you feel old, just think how Charisma feels.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:37 PM on June 24, 2015


I'll comment on the episode tomorrow once I've had a chance to catch up, but I just have to say that I work for a company that does some work with Carpenter and I stumbled upon her FTP folder today. It took all the strength I had not to sneak a note or file named CordeliaDeservedBetter.jpeg or something in there.
posted by yellowbinder at 10:48 PM on June 24, 2015 [2 favorites]




Apparently there's a line in the script describing Wesley as a guy who thinks he's Sean Connery but is actually George Lazenby. It's kind of amazing just how far the character came from here to the end of Angel. I mean, in this episode he's just silly as hell and he shows a real cowardly side. As the years went by he didn't just shuck off the comic relief British twit stuff and become a bad-ass. He became one of the most complicated, tortured souls in the Whedonverse.

Yeah, although most of that happens on Angel. He is played for laughs all the way through this season. The sword recognising thing is important, but it's key that the show deliberately undercuts him by having him insist that Balthazar is dead. The point of Westley at this point is something to rebel against, something to drive Buffy into doing wrong.

Faith is interesting in this episode. There's been a through line since she was first introduced that she's someone who gets a bit too much from the slayer lifestyle. She's got nothing else in her life, so identifies too much as this powerful being who can do what they like. Ultimately this leads to the death of poor Allen, who was presumably coming to spill the beans on the mayor (and it's a shame they didn't check the documents he was carrying).

Faith's narrative purpose is to hold a mirror not only to Buffy, but to Kendra. Both Kendra and Faith are essentially more committed to being slayers than Buffy is. Buffy tries her hardest to grasp onto a human connection, while both Kendra and Faith disassociate themselves from human relationships. Kendra, because it distracted from the mission, Faith, because she doesn't trust people. The funny thing about Faith is that if you make an effort, she can be incredibly loyal to you, but if she feels like you betrayed her then she cuts you out. You can argue that this is Faith giving Buffy one last chance to be part of her inner circle, but it has to be on Faith's terms. Buffy tries, but ultimately can't, and doesn't want to, commit to Faith's philosophy. She knows inherently that "Want. Take. Have" does not a moral philosophy make, and this is probably her last flirtation with that lifestyle. It helps that upon stealing she immediately gets arrested, and in an escape is incredibly worried about the police officers they just injured.

[Side note, but this is consistently the case for poor Buffy. Whenever she tries a little bit of wrong doing (or even something away from a pure lifestyle), she's instantly punished. Sex with her boyfriend? Punished? Drinks at a party? Punished. No wonder she develops some severe mental health issues in later seasons]

This also establishes the Mayor as a serious force to be reckoned with. For the first time we see him attacked, and establish that he cannot be harmed (in a pretty decent special effect, that's so good the show will keep reusing it).

-The mayor ticks "become invincible" off his to do list
--It's lucky the electrocution made Balthazar let go of Angel, otherwise Angel would've been just as zapped
-"No you don't get it. I don't care."
-"Chemistry is easy. It's a lot like witchcraft, only less newt."
-"The count of three isn't a plan, it's sesame street"
-Urgh Xander: "hooker ware" really? REALLY?
-"Whenever Giles sends me on a mission he always says please. And gives me a cookie."
-What does Willow's minty fresh protection spell actually do?
-Why on earth do these vampires work for Balthazar?
-I'm pretty sure these vamps aren't the first to use swords.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:14 AM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


He is played for laughs all the way through this season.

It's been a while, but doesn't he kind of become one of the gang by the end of the season? I remember him having that weird flirty thing with Cordelia (which is weird when you consider that she was probably about 17 and he was probably supposed to be in his late twenties at the very least) but doesn't he get less silly and a bit more brave and capable as the season goes on?

Sex with her boyfriend? Punished

I don't think the message was that sex is bad. After all, she had sex with other dudes without them turning evil. I think it was a more literal, extreme version of the familiar teenage girl thing where she meets a guy and he seems so sweet and great but then they shag and he instantly becomes a callous monster. (Although there was that weird thing where Buffy and Riley were cursed or whatever and they had sex for days and days. I haven't seen that one since it was new, but I remember wondering just what they were trying to say with that one.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:37 AM on June 25, 2015


but doesn't he get less silly and a bit more brave and capable as the season goes on?

I'm onto season 4 now, so am a little head, so I can say... not really. He becomes more accepted, but he's still a bit of a useless goofball.

I don't think the message was that sex is bad. After all, she had sex with other dudes without them turning evil.

I agree, but it does inadverantly have that effect. Let's look at Buffy's romantic history

-Owen, distracts from slaying, means she misses the anointed one
-Angel, becomes evil after she sleeps with him
-Scott, has no personality or chemistry with Buffy
-Parker, acts like Angel without the whole losing the soul shebang
-Riley, technically pure, but as you noted if Buffy has too much fun with him she gets told off by mystical forces!
-Spike, explicitly as a self destructive act!
-She goes on a date with Robin Wood, but he's not interested in her.
-Oh in Him in season 7 she's magically compelled to have sex with a teenager. Which, while being a funny episode, I don't think they thought through the consequences of.

The show has a tendency to punish Buffy whenever she makes non-selfless choices, which speaks a little to her heroic destiny, but can sometimes get a bit much.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:24 AM on June 25, 2015


Going back to the Giles v Wesley thing, I think part of why Giles sneers at Wesley heading for the books at the mention of vampires wielding swords is because Wesley has just had a go at him for using books and boasted of his practical experience. And he heads for the books too!

I think it's clear that the two resemble each other quite a bit. The scene where they both take off their glasses and polish them, Giles's initial opinion of Buffy from his diaries, their similar dress even. But Giles is about 10,000 times more awesome than Wesley, even though I haven't forgotten (even if Buffy has) about his betrayal in the Council's test. (Though maybe he made up for that somewhat in Zeppo, with what Buffy describes as the bravest thing she's ever seen.) To be honest, Wesley's presence underscores Giles's schism with the Council. He's on Buffy's side now.

And of course Wesley's willingness to betray not just Buffy's friend (since he doesn't yet know or understand who Angel is) but also give Balthazar the amulet, all to spare his kneecaps? Nope, nope, nope.

Anyway. Willow has some odd botanical confusion considering she's a witch. Apparently despite being made with lavender, her protection spell is both pine-y and minty. Neither of which smell like each other, let alone lavender.

Faith needs to work on her upper body strength. Then maybe she'd be able to pull the longbow.

Balthazar reminds me of Jane Lane's grandma in Daria (come closer.... closer... closer...) but his fat suit is particularly unconvincing, especially when he flaps his arms ineffectually. The Mayor's head being split in two, on the other hand, is still cool.

Finally, this was the very first episode of Buffy I ever saw. I think I came in partway through, during the sewer fight with the vamps. My mouth may have gaped a little as I watched two girls get all uhhh (to quote Faith) with some obvious bad dudes. Not sure how much I got of the overall plot arcs, but obviously it kept me watching!
posted by Athanassiel at 6:13 AM on June 25, 2015


I always thought of Giles and Wesley as having a Frasier and Niles dynamic. You think the first one is pompous and stuffy and has no idea how to function in the real, physical world? Let’s have him relax a bit and introduce his even more pompous and stuffy younger brother! (For the record, I like Niles much more than Frasier, but Giles more than Wesley, though now that I’m doing a first watch of Angel, now on season five – how did it take me so long to get to this show?? – holy cats did Wesley actually become one of my favourite characters in the Buffyverse, when he actually goes from a contrast to a real character). Creepygirl's link is right that Wesley does have some good stuff to bring to the table, but we’re not at all predisposed to hear it.

Faith and Wesley are really both there to provide contrast/a mirror to Buffy and Giles' characters in this one.

One! Two! Three vampires! Ah-ah-ah.

I knew the mayor was evil when he expressed his love for Family Circus. Poor Allan. Of course he had to die. He’s a Cathy fan.

I wonder if anyone’s made a list of the colleges Willow got into that Xander didn’t mention, from the prop acceptance packages on set. I know Princeton is one of them, thanks to an obsessive amount of pausing and looking at stills as a freshman (yeah, I don’t know. It was important to me that she got in). I was pretty sure you could only apply Early Decision/Early Action to one school, but maybe it was different in 1998. Of course one of the schools mentioned is Wesleyan (Whedon’s alma mater), and then Wesley shows up...

Watching Buffy and Giles (and Faith) team up to snark at Wesley is very satisfying. Wesley: the Watcher who brings everyone (else) together!

Faith does bring up an interesting point about whether or not it’s okay (or necessary) to love your duty/calling, when that duty involves fighting and killing. Buffy doesn’t really wind up exploring this about herself until the fifth season, but it’s a good question. Of course, then Faith immediately exploits Buffy’s concern for duty by jumping down the manhole. Then, like Cannon Fodder says, when Buffy starts having a little normal fun (oh no, she’s dancing! To techno! Around boys!) everyone is concerned and grumpy. I think the show does a good job of showing us the issues around taking either responsibility or irresponsibility to extremes, but is less good at showing us what the appropriate middle ground is.

“That’s one word three times.” Hee!

If Wesley didn’t get the job because of his looks, Balthazar certainly didn’t. What a creepy costume.

I don’t think Willow was saying lavender, or that specific spell, smells like pine, I think the “I may be the first wicca to do all my conjuring in pine fresh scent” was a more general comment. The “minty fresh” comment, though, I have no explanation for. Ah, Willow, all insulted that Buffy isn’t taking you slaying when you all used the same tactic/explanation to shut Xander out last episode. This is a big jump from “I need my Willow,” so no wonder.

“If you want to criticize my methods, fine. But you can keep your snide remarks to yourself. And while you're at it, don't criticize my methods.” Giles is so cool in this episode, with his sarcastic remarks and swordfighting. It wouldn’t do to have him get knocked out again in front of Wesley. Wesley’s boast about fighting two vampires under controlled circumstances reminds me of Riley’s boast about how many “hostiles” he’s taken, followed by him asking Buffy how many she’s gotten. Giles kills more than two vampires in this fight alone.

The mayor’s to-do list is so funny. He’s such a lovely villain.

Faith scrubbing the shirt at the end is about as obvious a Lady Macbeth reference as you can get, but I still like it.
posted by ilana at 12:29 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a wonderful bit where Willow and Wesley compare their dark storylines in a late Angel crossover.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:16 PM on June 25, 2015


One final Wes thought: did they ever establish any kind of cover story for why he was hanging out at the school (like being an assistant librarian or some such)?

Because a dude in his twenties hanging out at a high school for no apparent reason, and being super-interested in one female student in particular, and not being questioned about it by anyone there, screws with my willing suspension of disbelief more than vampires apparently do.
posted by creepygirl at 1:12 PM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because a dude in his twenties hanging out at a high school for no apparent reason, and being super-interested in one female student in particular, and not being questioned about it by anyone there, screws with my willing suspension of disbelief more than vampires apparently do.

That genuinely never occured to me, which makes me suspect it didn't to the writers either. At this point "the gang hang out in the library" is so engrained that you kind of forget

1)that it's a library
2)that it's in a school.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 8:51 AM on June 30, 2015


I could swear that Giles mentions the "Why is Wesley hanging around here" issue at some point (discussion with Snyder?), but I can't find it with a cursory googling.
posted by Etrigan at 10:02 AM on June 30, 2015


If this were a just world, "Bad Girls" would have inspired thousands of pages of Faith/Buffy slash. The scene where Faith lures Buffy out of class is so adorable.
posted by chaiminda at 11:11 AM on June 30, 2015


If this were a just world, "Bad Girls" would have inspired thousands of pages of Faith/Buffy slash.

Did... did it not?
posted by restless_nomad at 11:50 AM on June 30, 2015


Well, not as many thousands as I would have liked!
posted by chaiminda at 12:17 PM on June 30, 2015


I'm on a rewatch now, and haven't really watched Angel yet (I will start in when it syncs up) so my view of Wesley is entirely informed by Buffy, but-

One of my favorite scenes in my memory is the one between Wes and Cordy in "Graduation Day" with the awkward flirting. Not just because it's adorable (though it is) but because it's such a "busy-work" scene designed just to lead them to that moment. It's only in fridge-logic later that we realize what they were doing during that scene. i.e. the gang knew that they'd be leading the Mayor into the Library to blow him up. So Wes and Cordy had to remove and protect the books.

Maybe my favorite understated touch in the entire series.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:44 PM on October 14, 2015


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