Saturday, 24 December 2011
BUFFY: 4.16 ‘WHO ARE YOU?’
Buffy: Who Are You? Vs. Linkin Park (Numb)
WRITER: Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Part 2 of this story sees Buffy and Faith having switched bodies with Buffy trapped in Faith’s body, drugged up and on the way to jail, before being stolen away from the cops by a Watcher’s Council wetworks team. Faith, meanwhile, is busy practising living in Buffy’s skin whilst also planning to skip the country courtesy of mommy Summers’ credit card. Having some time to kill before she leaves, Faith takes Buffy’s bod for a test drive, stirring up some trouble amongst the Scoobies, before moving in on Riley, trying to take the big unwitting guy on a sexy slutty Faith ride. But Riley is having none of it and insists on ‘making love’ to who he thinks is Buffy. This turns out to be a deeply disconcerting event for Faith. Genuine physical love is alien to her and experiencing it puts her in direct contact with something she hasn’t known for a long while: her conscience. Meanwhile Buffy escapes the Watchers and goes to a sceptical Giles for help. Tara and Willow soon turn up having already worked out what’s going on. The witches have devised a magical plan to get both slayers back in to their correct bodies. But first they have to find Faith. Speaking of, the dark slayer is at the airport and is about to skip the country when she sees on TV that a local church in Sunnydale has been taken hostage by a bunch of crazies (vamps she realises). That pesky conscience starts to sting her again. Meanwhile Buffy has also seen the same news item and is rushing to the scene to rescue the parishioners. Another slayer vs. slayer showdown seems imminent.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
It’s the beginnings of the road to redemption for Faith. By ‘becoming’ Buffy she gets to really see and feel the goodness and love that surrounds Buffy and the effect it has on her, making her stronger, more resilient, making her care. It also allows Faith to see herself for what she truly is, that the pain and anger she holds on to, for so long aimed at Buffy, is really aimed at herself. And in the end showdown at the church, Faith lets that pain and anger out. She gets to pummel on herself, literally, unleashing all of her self-loathing. Faith’s continued redemption carries on in season one of Angel, which runs concurrently with this season of Buffy.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Adam, a vampire gang, the Watcher Team, and Faith.
WHY IT ROCKS
Well it’s a Joss episode so it’s great. But you want specifics? Okay…
Sarah and Eliza. They are both wonderful playing each other. I bet that Sarah acted out Buffy’s scenes first while Eliza watched, then copied her, and vice versa. In many ways Eliza has the hardest job seeing as how Buffy doesn’t have the same big character tics as Faith – the cocky swagger, bad girl attitude, catch phrases. But Eliza does a great job. She captures Buffy’s earnestness, her wide eyed pleading, her little looks she gives when scared, confused, the way she reacts when she says something wrong or when she goes off on a bit of a tangent. Sarah, meanwhile, gets Faith down pat. She masters the swagger, the way Eliza holds herself, her unique vocal inflections. To be honest, it’s weird that Buffy’s friends don’t think something’s wrong almost immediately. It’s Tara, a stranger to Buffy, who realises.
Mirror. The scene early on with Sarah as Faith, alone in the bathroom, staring in to the mirror, practising being Buffy, saying Buffy-like things and pulling odd faces. It’s utterly brilliant and quite unnerving. Sarah is looking directly in to camera, speaking directly to us with the editing being deliberately erratic. The sequence is designed to emphasise the dark chaos of Faith’s mind, to put her (and us) off balance. “Because it’s WRONG!” she keeps repeating, trying to make it sound correct. Pure genius!
Faith and Spike. The scene at the Bronze where Faith (in Buffy’s body) has a run in with Spike is fab. Of course Spike thinks she’s Buffy and while he’s being all pissy and macho Faith throws him totally off guard by coming on all sultry, slutty, sexy, flirtatious. And for a while Spike doesn’t know how to react, looking like an undead rabbit caught in headlights. Poor chap.
Willow and Tara. We’ve guessed for a while now where their friendship was headed. But this episode confirms it. Tara pretty much tells Willow how she feels. The pair then ‘do a spell’ together to access a higher plane in order to help Buffy. The dreamy sequence of the two girls’ spell casting together, eyes closed, breathing hard, both of them building to a point of ecstasy and then collapsing is well done if not exactly subtle.
Faith meeting Tara. Willow brings Tara to the Bronze where they run in to Faith, though Willow of course thinks she’s Buffy. Willow introduces Tara to ‘Buffy’ and goes to get a drink. Faith quickly realises the true nature of Tara and Willow’s relationship, saying to Tara, “So Willow’s not driving stick anymore.” She is also casually cruel to poor mousy Tara, making fun of her slight stammer.
Faith and Riley. Faith (in Buff’s body) then goes to find Riley and tries to seduce him in her usual aggressive, dangerous way. Riley doesn’t want that kind of thing and insists on being gentle and making love. The scene is great. It is not in the least bit sexy or erotic but feels rather creepy and unpleasant. It’s all about character and tells us so much about Riley and how he feels about Buffy as well as how Faith sees herself and how she views men.
Church fight. The Buffy and Faith vs. vamps, then Buffy vs. Faith fight at the church is great. Some splendid fight co-ordination and stunts.
WHY IT SUCKS
British goons. The Watchers Council goon squad is a bit rubbish for a so-called special ops team. Plus they are annoyingly cliched British, calling people a “ …ponce.” A word I only ever hear in American TV shows when people are trying to be British.
Holy Hostages! The vampire church/hostage thing is a bit odd. It feels more like a purely functional thing for the script rather than a genuine event that comes out of the story. It’s there only to get Faith to start on her road to redemption and to have her confront Buffy yet again so that they can be swapped back in to their own bodies. Still, some nifty fights and stunts.
The mirror scene. “Because it’s WRONG!”
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Willow (regarding Faith): "Ooh, I wish those council guys would let me have an hour alone in a room with her. If I was larger, and had grenades."
Anya: "We were going to light a bunch of candles and have sex near them."
Faith-in-Buffy: "Well, we certainly don't want to cut into that seven minutes."
Xander: "I believe that's my 'hey.' Hey!"
Faith-in-Buffy (to Riley): "What nasty little desire have you been itching to try out? Am I a bad girl? Do you want to hurt me?"
Giles: "Um, if you are Buffy, then you will let me tie you up without killing me until we find whether you are telling the truth."
Buffy-in-Faith: "Giles, Faith has taken my body, and for all I know she's taken it to Mexico by now. I don't have time for bondage fun. Ask me a question, ask me anything."
Giles: "Who's President?"
Buffy-in-Faith: "We're checking for Buffy, not a concussion."
Buffy-in-Faith: "Oh, when I had psychic power I heard my mother think that you were like a stevedore during sex. Do you want me to continue?"
Giles: "Actually I beg you to stop."
Buffy-in-Faith: "What's a stevedore?"
Faith-in-Buffy (manic, beating up on Buffy-in-Faith): "Shut up. Do you think I'm afraid of you? You're nothing! Disgusting! Murderous bitch! You're nothing! You're disgusting!"
AND ANOTHER THING
Faith’s full redemption story was originally supposed to play out in its entirety through this season of Buffy. But it was seen as too much extra story to incorporate in to the season and so it was decided instead to move the rest over to Angel with Buffy doing a guest appearance. A good idea as Faith works great in Angel. The two characters have a lot on common and make a good team. Something they are still doing in the current official comics continuation series ‘Angel & Faith’.
HOW MANY STAKES?
We got Faith in Buffy. 4.5 (out of 5)