Buffy the Vampire Slayer: This Year's Girl / Who Are You?   Rewatch 
September 16, 2015 10:04 PM - Season 4, Episode 15 - Subscribe

As Buffy reunites with Riley, a coma-bound Faith is tormented by dreams of the vengeful Slayer. She awakens to a world that has moved beyond her. After a parting gift from the Mayor lets her switch bodies with Buffy, she flails wildly between sowing chaos and experiencing life as a beloved protector. Adam introduces a group of vampires to religion.
posted by yellowbinder (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lots to love in this pair.

SMG kills it as Faith here. It's funny that some of the deepest insights we get into her character come from another actress. I don't want to Dushku hate too much because she's great in the role, but it's hard for me to imagine Whedon considering her right for Dollhouse after her turn as Buffy is blown out of the water by Gellar.

Faith twice is ready to leave town here, called back the first time by the chance to have some fun with the Scoobies with Buffy out of the way. Her experiences as Buffy drive her back the second time, she's ready to hop on a plane, but something within her calls her back to save the day. Getting a glimpse of what it is to really be loved by friends and partner, to feel the gratitude of a saved civilian, changes her. She starts to understand what it is to be a hero, with the refrain of "Because it's wrong" going from mockery to heartfelt over the course of a few acts. Angel may talk her down to redemption when she hops over there next week, but it's being Buffy that sets her on that path.

So, Faith and men. While her relationship with the Mayor was very warm and paternal last year, his videotaped scene was a little darker to me in this one. Telling her there's no place for her in the world without her, that it's all over for her so she might has well stir things up on her way out. It almost gives an abusive tinge to their relationship that wasn't there before. And then she freaks out with Riley, demanding "What do you want from her???," maybe because she can't understand what a strong relationship feels like? And she comes on to Spike, teasing the neutered evil with her sexy fuckedupness. One that Buffy ends up sharing.

Minor notes:

So, Xander has achieved maximum butt monkey by this point, right? The business with the blaster and him getting zapped and no one even noticing always struck me as a little too far, even with the theme this season of alienation and fear of uselessness from our supporting Scoobies.

Willow's reticence to share Tara with the group is interesting. Watching the scene I was getting a bit judgy on her, but then I realized I totally get it, introducing SOs to tight friend groups can be a little shaky.

What's a stevedore?
posted by yellowbinder at 10:27 PM on September 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

The dream, of course, has that other clue that Dawn’s going to show up in the near future. Seeing the sequences from Faith’s perspective than Buffy’s, we also see Buffy as the cold attacker, showing Faith’s persecution complex and initial unwillingness to take responsibility for and judge her own actions. Only by killing Buffy can she wake up, but only by punching herself under a volley of self-insult and hatred can she start to come to terms with her behaviour (which is self-destructive until her first arc on Angel resolves).

The ray gun conversation isn’t the usual “guns, never helpful” conversation the show has, perhaps to try to convince the audience that Adam is a bigger or more different threat than usual. To be fair, guns (or a bazooka, anyway, which this reminds me of) have been relatively useful for them in the past.

I feel like I need to start a Likable Graham meme. LET’S JUST BE FRIENDS GUYS.

Foreshadowing, I guess: “Did they put a chip in your brain?”

Buffy saying “you know, I never stopped thinking about you” offscreen as Faith leaves the frame is neat, thematically, even though she’s really talking to Riley. Faith has obviously never stopped thinking about Buffy, but Buffy has largely stopped thinking about Faith, because the living move on and the “dead” don’t.

I’m not sure why the nurse waits until after telling the doctor and the detective about Faith’s disappearance to call in “the team,” but I guess it makes for a better scene-ending beat.

Obviously they worked on Faith’s issues over on Angel, but given that Walsh had quit by that point, it might have been interesting to set up Faith working with Adam as a more interesting Big Bad (or, possibly, defeating him).

Riley’s “who’s Faith?” makes it really clear both that he’s still an outsider and that things have really changed in only a few episodes, particularly in a world where backstory and continuity are so important. (See Willow’s “Hyena possession” callback). Tara is even more excluded from the group, though it looks like she might actually know more backstory, it’s just that she hasn’t met anyone. Of course, Faith doesn’t even know who Anya is.

“That was the funnest coma ever.” Willow is more and more likely to jump to ass-kicking as a solution; her confidence continues to grow, but at somewhat of a price.

Faith murdering the demon that was just there to give her an envelope from the Mayor again gives us an instance of the human being the monstrous one. It’s a little like when Angel kills the demon that’s actually protecting a pregnant woman, but Faith doesn’t seem to feel badly about it. One of her last tasks pre-coma was murdering another courier demon, so I guess that’s just what she does. I’d hate to be her FedEx guy.

WHY DID LITERALLY NOBODY THINK TO CALL JOYCE AND WARN HER?? Seriously, zero excuse. Faith was totally right to point that out.

I think both actresses do a reasonable job of playing each other (SMG doing the better job), especially because SMG is playing Faith trying to pretend to be Buffy, and Dushku vice versa. One of my least favourite plot devices is someone getting mistaken for someone else and being blamed for things the didn’t do, but these episodes still hold up, because both characters get a taste of what it’s like to be the other person, and be treated well or poorly because of it. Faith’s repetition of “Because it’s wrong” that gets a little more meaningful every time is really nice.

Faith in Buffy’s body playing with Spike basically sets the wheels in motion for that next huge plot point.

Adam’s “Demon in a human body. You're a hybrid. Natural and unnatural. You
walk in both worlds, and belong to neither” is pretty on-the-nose in terms of what’s going on in this episode.

It’s funny that only Tara really notices that Buffy isn’t Buffy; speaks to the rest of the group’s drift.

“What’s a stevedore?” Hee hee.

“Dammit, man, we have to get inside! Our families are in there! Our mothers, and tiny, tiny babies!” :D
posted by ilana at 11:03 PM on September 16, 2015

This is a great episode, but I think again it highlights the weaknesses of Season 4. We're pretty far into the show, and the main plot is hardly there in this episode, for obvious reasons. Sure we have Adam being a messiah to some vampires, but it's hardly compelling (and more than a little pointless, even towards his stated goal. Why did he decide to do it? Just to see if he could lead vampires?).

Yeah I think the performances are great. Gellar has a lot more to do, and she's pretty convincing as Faith, who is grasping at a new life. Faith has never really understood true affection, and to have something like that from Riley (especially Riley saying (for the first time?) that he loves her), messes her up; well that and the whole spellcraft from Willow and Tara.

It's an episode that let's Tara come into her own a little bit, which the show needs at this point, as she has remained a bit of a blank slate. She has the perspicacity to notice that something is wrong with Buffy and point it out to Willow. It's also the most literal magic as sex episode, as, as been pointed out, they'd never have gotten away with that "magic" scene had it been what it was meant to be.

The fight scenes are really great, especially the first one in the house, which really wrecks the place (poor Joyce, her contents insurance must be through the roof! How do you even make a claim for that?).

Of course this episode leads to a cross over with Angel, which is actually maybe worth watching. Faith, after all, has yet to complete her arc away from the dark place she's inhabiting, so when she reappears in 7 her change in character might be a bit of a surprise without that additional knowledge (it was to me :)).

-"I am, you know. Yours." This line is a sign of the show suffering from the lack of physicality between Willow and Tara. When someone you love says that to you, you kiss them. I'm pretty sure that's a law.
-"What's wetworks?" "Scuba type stuff"
-The watchers council, still really, really bad at their jobs.
-Buf/Faith coming on to Spike
-"Who's president?" "We're checking for Buffy, not a concussion."
-Riley was just late for church: the only character confirmed to attend one
-The flayed demon in the woods. I'd forgotten about that, but maybe Willow took notes
-How does Faith know where Giles lives?
"Faith these are innocent people." "No such animal."
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:04 AM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Of course this episode leads to a cross over with Angel, which is actually maybe worth watching.

Yes please post in Etrigan's awesome Angel threads! I feel bad that Etrigan enthusiastically took them on and they get little love, although I guess it was to be expected given the overall quality of Season 1.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:01 AM on September 17, 2015

Riley was just late for church: the only character confirmed to attend one

Ha, I remember hearing that line and thinking "of fucking course Captain Dry Toast goes to church every Sunday"
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Mayor's video message breaks my heart every time.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:34 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

"of fucking course Captain Dry Toast goes to church every Sunday"

Heh, I had the same reaction to that line on the first watch.

It’s funny that only Tara really notices that Buffy isn’t Buffy; speaks to the rest of the group’s drift.

As does the fact that Faith immediately senses that Willow and Tara are an item, while Buffy, Xander, and Giles all have to be told and are surprised by the news.
posted by creepygirl at 7:27 PM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

I do think it's a bit unfair that Dushku doesn't get much to do with her turn as Baith. I mean, it is always a lot more fun to play evil than it is to be the morally superior one who is in a pickle and really just has to try to bleat convincingly about how she's really not evil, really!

Meanwhile SMG really does some of the best work of her career as Fuffy. I mean, just awesome. I especially love the way she says "naughty"; some of that is accent since it just sounds hilarious, but the expression on her face in that whole scene is awesome. And she does a good job channeling Faith's physical mannerisms as well. Significantly, she twigs to what's going on between Willow and Tara immediately, just as Tara is immediately aware that she is Fuffy - well, maybe not Fuffy precisely, but definitely not Buffy. I do quite love Tara this time round (I remember initially not being very impressed with her) and my heart breaks a little for her when she says: "I am you know.... yours". *bites knuckle*

Xander is annoying with his persistence in worrying that Faith gives even half a fuck about him. The self-centredness, while I guess understandable, is not endearing. But they are all pretty self-centred at the moment, and that actually undermines their effectiveness as a team.

One of the things that I do love about the Faith arc is that while the other characters have clearly given up on her, Whedon and the other writers clearly haven't. She definitely has her flaws, but she is perceptive and honest along with her murderousness and the walls she has erected round herself to stop herself from feeling too deeply about anything. I find her a hell of a lot more interesting than Buffy's self-righteous goodness.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:23 AM on September 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


posted by leotrotsky at 7:20 AM on September 18, 2015

It's interesting. The Mayor's video and gift to faith swings that relationship towards the kindly paternal for me. He's not about chaos - come on, he's the Mayor, but he is about leaving Faith a little something.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:13 PM on October 30, 2015

I watched this pair again last night with someone who's on first watch through the series. I noticed that the guest star credits at the beginning of the second part read "and Eliza Dushku as Buffy." If I ever saw that before, I can't believe I forgot it. It's a nice cheeky tweak of form.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:53 AM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

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