Sunday, 6 February 2011

Buffy: 3.3 'Faith, Hope & Trick'

Clips of this episode to a song by Silverchair.

Writer: David Greenwalt
Director: James A Contner

What's the sitch?

There are two new big bad vampires in town - the ancient, cloven-handed Kakistos, and his whip smart right-hand-vamp, the sharp suited, slick-tongued Mr Trick. Mr Trick sees opportunities aplenty in Sunnydale. He wants to take advantage of modern technology and make the town their's, turning it in to a super efficient vampire haven. But the evil Kakistos is there for one reason and one reason only: he has a score to settle with a slayer. Meanwhile Buffy is being urged by her friends to move on romantically and to accept the numerous invites for a date from nice, normal (dull) fellow student Scott Hope. Buffy resists for a while. But eventually, and after a series of false starts, she caves and decides to go out with dullard Scott but not before her attempted rescue of a girl from a vamp at the Bronze backfires. Because as said girl kicks the vamps ass and then dusts it, it becomes clear that, as Oz says, “I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that there's a new slayer in town.”

Say hello to Faith the Vampire Slayer.

Cordy puts it together for us by explaining that Faith was called when Kendra died. Faith then tells the gang that she's come to Sunnydale as her watcher has headed off to England for an annual watcher's retreat. So, left to her own devices, Faith decided to take off and come find Buffy. All the gang are mighty impressed by tough, sexy, confident, streetwise Faith. Even Joyce sees her as a good role model for Buffy. But Buff is getting jealous of Faith’s effect on her friends. Plus she also smells a rat in her sister slayer's story when she sees that Faith enjoys pummelling vamps a little bit too much. It soon turns out that Buffy is right. Faith lied to them all. She is in fact on the run with her watcher dead at the cloven hands of Kakistos...but not before Faith seriously scarred the old vamp, who now wants bloody revenge on her. But this time the odds are in Faith's favour. So it's double slayer trouble for nasty old vampire dude.

This episode ends with Buffy, seemingly having now put Angel behind her, being ready to move on with her life. But after she leaves his abandoned mansion, leaving behind the ring Angel gave her for her birthday last year, a flash of light in the darkness and a falling body mark the return of a certain brooding vampire with a soul.

What's the sitch beneath the sitch?

Not much here metaphor-wise as this is primarily a plot functional episode designed to introduce Faith and reintroduce Captain Forehead as Spike would call him. Theme and character-wise, though, this is mainly about Buffy still trying to move on after Angel, while also feeling threatened when this new, hip, sexy, tough as nails slayer hits town and dazzles everyone with her hot looks, cool talk, and raucous stories.

Why it rocks

Faith. What more do you need?

After Spike, Faith Lehane is my favourite character in the entire Buffyverse and the larger Whedonverse. Like Spike, Faith is such a complex and multi-faceted character. You are never really sure where she's coming from or what she'll do next. Also like Spike, she makes for a great hero and an equally great villain. But she is always sympathetic even when doing really bad things. Faith is the flip side of the coin to Buffy. She's how our girl could have turned out without the love and support of her family and friends. Interestingly we get a glimpse of that other Buffy in the forthcoming Season 3 episode 'The Wish' that sees an alternate universe in which Buffy never came to Sunnydale. When she does finally arrive she is much like Faith – tough, cynical, battle hungry. Unlike Kendra who was born in to the world of Slaying, Faith was, like Buffy, brought in much later. But unlike Buffy, Faith came from a background of poverty, abuse and neglect. Her mother was a drug addict and prostitute who eventually died, and her father is in prison. She has no friends and no other family. She's a deeply troubled loner, a heavily damaged young girl. Of course none of this is known in this episode. Most of it comes to light in future episodes and in the excellent novel 'Go Ask Malice' which tells us Faith's story up until she takes off for Sunnydale. It is telling that Faith's reaction to becoming a slayer is the polar opposite to that of Buffy, and also of her predecessor Kendra. For Buffy, being a slayer is a terrible burden and something that is always spoiling her life. For Kendra, being a slayer was a sacred calling and an integral part of who she was. But for Faith, being a slayer is a blast! It's simply the best thing that's ever happened to her. It's one big party and gives her a sense of purpose, of power, and a way to express herself that she has never had.

Eliza Dushku. As Faith, Eliza has 'mad skills' and she's 'Five by Five'. What can I say? I love her. From our first proper introduction to Eliza in this role while slaying a vamp outside The Bronze, she has the dark sexiness and cool charismatic attitude down pat. She's gorgeous and she'll kick your ass in a heartbeat. Or if you're a guy she might just nail you whether you want her to or not. Either way you probably won't survive her. Later on in the season Xander very nearly doesn't. Eliza makes such an impact that she will forever be known primarily for this role. Whether she likes it or not she is, and always will be, Faith Lehane.

Mr Trick. Now here's a cool new take on the vampires in Buffy. Trick is not some old world monster or simple predatory demon. He's a slick, smart, organised, businessman who embraces the modern world and all it has to offer. He's also, after Kendra, the most prominent African-American character (so far) in Buffy. He does make the comment in this ep that Sunnydale is very Caucasian and not so friendly to 'the brothers' (by which he means both black people and vampires). This was something that always bothered me about Sunnydale. It is very white and Caucasian. Would it have killed Joss and co. to include a few more black, Asian, Hispanic faces in the school and wider town? So far the non-Caucasians who have turned up have had the Star Trek red shirt curse and all died – be they random vampires, or poor Kendra (mmm, Kendra). As Trick, K Todd Freeman is immediately a blast. He's a lot of fun to watch and you can't help but like the guy...even if he is a soulless evil monster.

Giles the great. Giles yet again proves what a great father figure he is by subtly pushing Buffy to open up about what really happened with Angel so that she can start to heal properly. At episodes end she finally admits to them that Angel got his soul back when she killed him.

Oz. Seth Green turning taciturn in to an art form.

Why it sucks

Kakistos is a bit crap. He's supposed to be this ancient and terrifying monster...but just looks like a big balding bloke with silly hands.

Joyce yet again fails in her motherly duties to Buffy. She can't help trash talking her daughter, putting her down...this time in front of Faith.

Scott Hope. Yikes! And some fans thought Riley Finn was dull.

Does anybody actually own Angel's mansion? Despite looking like a million bucks it remains abandoned.

It's Bufftastic

Faith's introduction. Yay!

Dialogue to die for

Willow (to Buffy about Scott Hope): He wanted to ask you out last year, but you weren't ready then. But I think you're ready now. Or at least in the state of pre-readiness to make conversation. Or to do that thing with your mouth that boys like. (Buffy glares at her) Oh! I didn't mean that bad thing with your mouth, I meant that little half-smile thing that you... (to Oz) You're supposed to stop me when I do that.

Willow (to Faith): Oz is a werewolf.
Buffy: It's a long story.
Oz: I got bit.
Buffy: Apparently not that long.

Faith (handing back Buffy's stake to her after some slaying): Thanks B. Couldn't have done it without ya!

And another thing

Although Faith looks like the oldest of the youngsters on the show, Eliza was in fact the youngest. She had only just finished High School when she was cast as Faith and had just turned 18 when she started filming.

Eliza already had a career of note behind her prior to Buffy. She played Leonardo DiCaprio's little sister in This Boy's Life also alongside Robert DeNiro, and she was Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter in James Cameron's True Lies. She temporarily gave up the acting though to concentrate on High School with Buffy being her first proper job after graduating.

The band playing in the Bronze are Darling Violetta who went on to compose and record the theme for Angel.


It's no Trick, Faith is ace. 3.5 (out of 5)

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