Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Buffy the Vampire Slayer- Faith, Hope and Trick

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 3
Episode: “Faith, Hope and Trick” (October 13, 1998)

Synopsis by Jason Henderson

Overview
There’s a new slayer in town, and she’s brought more than just a lot of half-shirts - - there’s an ancient demon out to get her, and he means to take Buffy down, too. Meanwhile, what’s the secret Buffy’s keeping, and how long can she stand to keep it?

Credits:

Screenplay: David Greenwalt
Direction: James Contner
Buffy: Sarah Michelle Gellar
Cordelia: Charisma Carpenter
Angel: David Boreanaz
Willow: Alyson Hannigan
Xander: Nicholas Brendan
Oz: Seth Green
Mr. Trick: K. Todd Freeman
Giles: Anthony Stewart Head

Synopsis

We open with Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Oz giddy over being allowed to leave campus for lunch (they're seniors now,) a freedom they exercise by going about thirty yards to a green space where Buffy’s set up a picnic. She’s still hoping to get back in school.

Willow encourages Buffy to meet cute boy Scott, who wanders by, and Buffy’s reasonably enthused. “I want to do girly stuff,” she says.

That night, two vampires arrive in a limo, looking for “the slayer.” One is very old. The other, “Mr. Trick, is his assistant, and he says Sunnydale- while not all that multicultural- is a nice place for vampires. “It makes DC look like Mayberry,” he says, before killing a fast-food attendant.

Buffy dreams of Angel yet again, who picks up Buffy’s dropped ring, his hand dripping with blood as he squeezes it. “Go to Hell,” she says. “I did,” he laughs. (For those of you just joining us, Buffy sent vamp boyfriend Angel to Hell at the end of last year as a necessary sacrifice to a demon. Evil at the time, he snapped out of it before she sacrificed him, making him a proper innocent sacrifice but the whole ordeal a massive bummer.)

Principal Snyder, late of watcher Giles’ threats, has decided to let Buffy back in, provided she jump a few administrative hurdles.

Willow and Buffy go to the library to see Giles, who says he needs a few details about Buffy’s sacrifice of Angel to make good a “sensitive and delicate binding spell” to hold the demon. Buffy gives a few details and runs off, leaving Giles to brush off Willow’s offer to help on the spell. He also warns her to be careful with her spell-casting. “These forces are not something you play around with.”

That night, at the Bronze, Cute Boy Scott charms Buffy, who considers dancing with him before following a girl and a vampire out of the club. The gang comes along, to find that the girl is in fact yet another slayer, named “Faith,” who borrows Buffy’s stake to put the vampire down.

Faith is a vivacious, curvy, trampy sort of slayer who immediately charms everyone with her enthusiasm and tendency to tell stories that involve her being naked, a good technique if you have the chops for it.

Seems Faith is in town because her watcher is on an international watcher retreat, one Giles wistfully regrets not attending. Faith likes Giles: “If I’d known they come that young and cute I would have requested a transfer.” (“Raise your hand if eww,” Buffy responds.)
Buffy declines to give Giles more information for his spell. (“Next time I kill Angel, I’ll video it.”)

While Faith meets Buffy’s Mom, who’s thrilled that now maybe Buffy can split her hours on this slayer thing, the old vampire and Mr. Trick reveal that they’ve come following Faith, not looking for Buffy.

Mom is horrified to learn that Faith is here because, even though there’s only one slayer at a time, a divergence in the slayer line has happened and stuck: Buffy died, to be replaced by African Kendra, who died to be replaced by Faith, even though Buffy did not remain dead. (To her credit, it was semi-ditz Cordelia who worked this out almost immediately.) “I hate this,” Mom says. “I hate your life…. I don’t want you to die.”

Buffy and Faith avoid one another’s probing questions (Faith thinks Buffy should lighten up.) The girls fight a vicious band of vampires and Faith takes way too long pounding a vampire before staking it, leaving Buffy to fight several at once. Which isn’t physically a problem; it just seems rude. The vampires served someone called “Kokistos.”

“You have very different temperaments,” Giles offers later, but he promises to call Faith’s watcher overseas, since Buffy thinks Faith is a bit loony. Meanwhile, Kokistos is Greek for “worst of the worst,” he’s a vampire so big and old he has cloven appendages. Buffy thinks Kokistos and Faith showing up are related.

Buffy bungles an opportunity to go out with Scott when he offers her a friendship ring he got from a curio shop, the same ring she dropped in the Angel dream. Then she learns from Giles that Faith’s watcher is dead, in fact.

Buffy goes to Faith’s run-down hotel, where the new slayer says her watcher was killed (they don’t have a word for what they did to her) by the vampire that’s come looking for her. Faith blames herself, but Buffy says she was right to run. (“First rule of slaying. Don’t die.”)

Kokistos and company attack Buffy and Faith, and together the slayers dispatch the old demon pretty quickly, especially since Mr. Trick abandons his mentor, deciding the cloven-hoofed one is too out of date for today’s vampirism.

Back at the library, Giles reveals he’s worked everything out with the Watchers and Faith gets to stay; Giles will watch both of them. When Buffy reveals there’s healing in putting the past behind you, she openly admits that Angel was cured, was a good soul, when she killed him. She leaves, and Giles admits that there never was a spell—he just knew that Buffy needed to speak the truth.

At the chapel where Angel died, Buffy sets down her ring, finally saying “Goodbye” to Angel. She leaves. Fade out.

Fade in, and Hell opens up and spits Angel back out again.

Notes

- I find Oz and Willow’s relationship genuinely charming, as when Willow goes on and on about something and turns to him, saying, “You should stop me when I do that.” “I like it when you do that, Oz says.”
- Buffy’s been punishing herself really hard about killing Angel when he had no memory of his evil deeds. Giles’ ploy to get Buffy to open up is well done, and it’s to Willow’s credit that she gets it immediately.
- I’m having a tough time figuring out the rules of the Buffy world. How many watchers are there? Is there a watcher in every town, just in case the slayer - - the one slayer of the earth- - shows up there, as when Buffy move in the first episode from her last school to this one to get a new watcher? Are they all “sleeper agents” until then, and if so, why didn’t they invite Giles to their retreat? He’s the one who *actually has the slayer.* Do they watch other things, like vampires? If not, thank God there are now two slayers, exactly doubling the hopes of every watcher out there who’d like a chance to watch the chosen one.
- How long will this disruption (two slayers caused by Buffy’s temporary death) remain, anyway? Obviously Kendra got a replacement when she died, will Buffy? Are there now two chosen ones, forever?
- The whole idea of there being a chosen one, with that much of the world responding to it, indicates to me that Buffy’s destiny is more cosmic than we’re being led to believe. When she’s fighting an all-out war for the earth against the forces of darkness, she’ll look back on all this as her quirky high school years, I guess. Buffy at thirty-five will be a sight to behold.
- Brava to the hypersexual Faith for taking note of Giles in a way Buffy dare not. Taster’s Choice, anyone?


Memorable Quotes

On fantasies:
Cordelia: “What is it with you and slayers? Maybe I should dress up as one and put a stake to your throat.”
Xander: “Please, God, don’t let that be sarcasm.”
(Reaction to Xander’s new-found lust object, Faith.)

On the only thing that apparently doesn’t exist in this universe:
Buffy: “There are only two things I don’t believe in: coincidences and leprechauns… I was right about the leprechauns, right?”
Giles: “As far as I know.”
(And he would, one presumes.)

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