Sunday, 18 December 2011
BUFFY: 4.15 ‘THIS YEAR’S GIRL'
Buffy vs. Faith smackdown
WRITER: Douglas Petrie
DIRECTOR: Michael Gershman
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Buffy is scared for Riley, wounded and back in the hands of the Initiative. She starts planning a desperate raid on the facility…when Riley suddenly shows up. He seems better and says he just walked out, albeit after they tried to stop him. Buffy is joyful to see her man back to his old self and in seemingly good shape, though still kinda sore from his Adam inflicted wound. Meanwhile, across town, in the hospital, Faith, still unconscious following her battle with Buffy at the end of last season, is dreaming scary dreams. In those dreams she is being constantly stalked and attacked by Buffy. Then, after the pair tussle in a rain-sodden open grave, Faith finally appears victorious. And wakes up. Disorientated, she escapes the hospital and wanders the town, running in to a demon who gives her a present from an old friend. The Mayor. He left her a recorded video message to watch if/when she were ever to wake up. Part of his message is to tell Faith that with him gone and their plan failed, the dark slayer will be all alone with no place in the world for her anymore. So he gives her a small magical device. Then, message over, and with her mind set, Faith sets out to track down Buffy, to seek revenge. However Buffy has now been forewarned, having been told by the police that Faith is awake and on the loose. Buffy immediately starts searching for her. The next day Faith surprises Buffy on campus and the pair fight. But Faith goes and escapes. Later that night though, she turns up at Buffy’s house and takes Joyce hostage. Buffy arrives to save her mom. And thus another brutal slayer vs. slayer fight ensues. But before Buffy can get the upper hand, Faith employs her magical gift from The Mayor. A beat later and Buffy clocks a distracted Faith, knocking her out. The police arrive and take an unconscious Faith away. Buffy’s mom asks her rather stunned looking daughter if she’s okay, to which ‘Buffy’ eventually replies with an evil smile: “Five by Five.” Gulp!
To be continued…
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
As Faith is back so we return to the whole mirror image/dark side of yourself thing that Faith represents to Buffy. She also acts as Buffy’s conscience, pointing out her flaws and selfish shortcomings. In this episode we are reminded that Joyce has not been a part of this season except for early on when Buffy was feeling lost and alone. Since then, her mom has been a sidelined character in Buffy’s life, something Faith gleefully points out to them both. She’s not wrong. When Buffy took the ones she cares for most in to hiding a couple of episodes ago Joyce was noticeable in her absence. It is also cool to note that in Faith’s head Buffy is the monster, the cruel one who wants nothing but to cause pain.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
The glorious Ms Lehane
WHY IT ROCKS
Gotta have Faith. She’s my second fave character in the Buffyverse and Eliza Dushku rocks my world in this role. To have her back is brilliant! As always she’s an inferno of anger, lethal violence and dangerously provocative sexuality. And yet beneath all of that lives a scared, damaged and deeply vulnerable child. Here, Faith is desperate to find a new life and to take revenge on the person she believes ruined her old one. Namely Buffy. Faith makes for a brilliant villain. In this one episode there is more sense of danger and dread than in the entire season so far.
The Mayor. Awesome to see Harry Groener back as Mayor Richard Wilkins. He’s only in two scenes - in Faith’s dream enjoying a nice picnic with her, then again in the video message that newly awakened Faith watches. Such a great character. A truly loveable bad guy.
The script. Ace Faith writer Doug Petrie returns to the character he does best using Faith as a conduit to explore the darker, more selfish realms of Buffy’s soul, to show us Buffy as the monster, the big bad in someone else’s life. He manages to show us Faith as a victim. A victim of her upbringing and of her own doing with Buffy as the single physical embodiment of everything bad that has ever happened to her. The Buffy/Faith mirror image thing is then taken to its logical ends with the episodes final uber-cool reveal.
The fights. We get two major slayer vs. slayer smackdowns. The first is in broad daylight at Sunnydale U in front of hundreds of students. The second is in Buffy’s house where windows, doors, furniture all get destroyed. Both are great. The first is briefer and more of a traditional Buffy battle, while the second is a big ol’ brawl with loads of property wreckage as bodies go flying through glass doors, tables are crushed, walls pounded. As always, the director, fight co-ordinators and performers do us proud. The camera stays back and just lets ‘em go at it. Editing is rhythmic and propulsive and we get to hear and feel every single bone-crunching blow.
Dream sequences. Faith’s dream sequences are terrific and tell us lots about how she feels and what scares her as well as foretelling a key event in season five. Buffy and Faith are making up a bed in Buffy’s home when Faith says they have to get things ready cuz “Little sis is coming.” Just shows Joss and co. had lots of Buffy planned out in advance. Once more continuity (past and forward) will prove to be a major strength of this show.
Gutted. While out searching the woods for Adam, Buffy and Xander come across a dead demon hung in the trees with its innards splayed open. According to writer Doug Petrie this is a direct homage to Silence of the Lambs.
WHY IT SUCKS
Why the hell does Buffy think Xander can fix an Initiative blaster? He ain’t Scotty.
There is some seriously awful costuming in this episode. I’m no fashion expert but Xander’s orange vest/shirt combo is hideous. And Willow’s fluffy orange hat she wears throughout is equally nasty. Also, what they dress poor Tara in is far from flattering. At least Faith looks cool. But then she’d look cool in a garbage sack.
After the fight on campus, Faith escapes and we see her vault a high stone wall. As she does, the whole thing wobbles rather obviously. EEK! Also, any Buffy fan will know that this fake wall is a part of the exterior standing set on the Buffy production lot. We see it all the time as part of the graveyard.
Right before Buffy finds the demon hanging from the trees, we can clearly see someone in the bushes to her right. It looks like a boom mic operator as we can see the long pole reaching out above him. Oops!
'Buffy': “Five by Five.”
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Xander (regarding Adam and Faith): "I'd hate to see the pursuit of a homicidal lunatic get in the way of pursuing a homicidal lunatic."
Willow: "That was the funnest coma ever."
Buffy: "Faith, these are innocent people."
Faith: "No such animal."
Willow: "She's like this cleavagey slutbomb walking around going 'Ooh. Check me out, I'm wicked cool. I'm five by five.'"
Spike: "Can't any one of your damned little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all?"
Joyce: “Are you sure you’re alright?”
‘Buffy' (evil smile): “Five by Five.”
AND ANOTHER THING
The first day in this episode is Friday, February 25, 2000 - four days before it actually aired in real world time (February 29th 2000).
Around the time Eliza Dushku was filming this episode she was also filming the well thought of and highly successful cheerleader comedy Bring it On in which she co-starred with Kirsten Dunst.
HOW MANY STAKES?
I now have Faith in this season. 4 (out of 5)