FEATURE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Faith, Hope and Trick
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy was killed by the Master, but brought back to life by Xander. This calls a new Slayer to the fold, Kendra, who is then killed by Drusilla, for which Buffy is blamed and gets kicked out of school. Oh, and she also killed Angel who has been showing up in her dreams rather a lot since. So much death. *launches into Mal Reynolds interpretive dance*
Introducing several of this season's major players in one big swoop, Faith, Hope and Trick is aptly titled, bringing with it a new Slayer and a Medium Bad into the equation (leading into the reveal of the actual Big Bad later). Poor Scott, the Hope of the title, doesn't really get much else to do, but at least he functions as a nice play on the names of three virtues and gets to make moon eyes at Buffy. Mr Trick announces himself with style when he pulls up to a drive-thru and decides the attendant is on the menu rather than any farm fresh chick. And then there's Faith (yay, Eliza Dushku!), first seen cuddling up to a guy whose dance moves can be described as sketchy at best (listed hilariously in the credits as Disco Dave - he and Disco Stu from Community should form a troupe). Buffy quickly realises he's probably been dead since the 70s and promptly rushes out to take him down, only to find Faith is perfectly capable of handling it herself.
The introduction of Faith is one which immediately sets the cat amongst the pigeons; Xander's instantly attracted to her, Oz develops a typical laconic respect whilst everyone else hangs on to her every word or flirtation. Except Buffy, that is. It instantly sets up an antagonism between Buffy and Faith, even almost bringing them to blows at one stage, as well as their various differences. It's encapsulated perfectly in the scene in which they patrol; Buffy is pinned down by two vamps whilst Faith tries to decapitate another using only her fists. All the while, she's screaming, yelling and generally acting like a crazy person. Buffy simply wants to dust and move on, knowing the dangers of expelling too much energy, but Faith's got issues and she's taking them out on Henchman #3.
As Buffy later recounts the incident to Giles, she comments that Faith isn't playing with a full deck and thus makes the understatement of the century. Faith has clearly got issues, whether it is compulsively lying to the Scoobies (no one ever gets to hear the full alligator story) or breaking down completely when Kakistos arrives at her door. She'll go on to become one of the most fascinating and memorable characters in the Buffyverse and it makes it a little odd to see her here, when she more readily displays weakness around Buffy than she ever will again, except perhaps in front of the Mayor (who gets another namecheck this episode) and Angel, who identifies with her a fair bit.
The other interesting aspect of the episode is the way in which Buffy is instantly jealous of the hold Faith produces over her friends and family. She comments to both Giles and Joyce that it feels like Faith is taking over her life (uber-foreshadowing there). However, Faith is set up to be the exact opposite, even down to the way they look; Buffy spends a large part of this episode in softer, pastel colours whilst Faith is dark or bold and rarely anything lighter. She's the anti-Buffy (someone we will actually see later in this season), enraged by personal conflict and not at all concerned with those around her. The strong thread running throughout Buffy's character is that she continues to do her duties because it saves people. Faith thinks it's fun.
With so much to set up across its run-time, Faith, Hope and Trick doesn't quite retain the same energy that Anne or Dead Man's Party possessed. The three episodes can be viewed almost as their own mini-trilogy as Buffy slowly comes to terms with the events of Becoming and, if thought of like that, it does strengthen Faith, Hope and Trick somewhat, particularly with the final sequence. The end of the episode is a wonderful sequence as Buffy finally follows her own advice and confesses that Angel was ensouled when she killed him followed by Giles admitting to Willow that there was no spell; he was just doing a fatherly thing and helping her to move on.
It's such a beautifully played emotional moment and I can't hear Christophe Beck's Buffy/Angel theme without wanting to cry. Buffy's process of moving on starts with this and moves into her accepting a date with Scott and leaving the ring that Angel gave her on the floor of the mansion, finally saying goodbye to him. Alas, the Powers That Be have other ideas. Whilst I adore the Angel spin-off and the character he becomes, there's still a part of me that wished they'd left their relationship with this ending. It was such a good send-off both for his character and the time that they spent together, as well as giving Buffy more freedom, that it seems a bit of a shame that they brought him back (only a minor one, mind). However, I also remember how it felt to see that cliffhanger ending for the first time as he crash-lands on to the floor of the mansion and the excitement that brought with it (pre-Internet having days for me too when I first watched this - I had no idea that was what was in store).
It's a slightly weaker episode, yes, but it's an impressive introduction to one of the most beloved characters in the canon. With Angel back on the scene, Faith on the side of good for a bit and Trick in town, the third season really does get off to a cracking start.
One last thing, anyone else remember that Buffy's kicking the bucket trick made it into the GameBoy Colour game?
Quote of the Week:
Oz: I'm wondering about your position on werewolves (to Faith)
Willow: Oz is a werewolf!
Buffy: It's a long story.
Oz: I got bit.
Buffy: Apparently not that long.
Inventive Kill: Faith doesn't so much use a stake as an entire beam of wood to dust Kissing Toast. Oops, sorry, Kakistos.
Let's Get Trivial: That's Darling Violetta performing at The Bronze in this episode, who would later go on to produce the brilliant theme for Angel.
You can read Becky's look at Dead Man's Party here.