FEATURE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Consequences
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Giles' replacement from the Watcher's Council, Wesley Wyndham-Price, has arrived in town and immediately rubbed everyone up the wrong way. During an alleyway confrontation, Faith accidentally kills the Deputy Mayor, Alan Finch, dumping the body and telling Buffy she doesn't care about what happened.
The sombre mood that closed the last episode continues here as Buffy and Faith must deal with the consequences of their actions (apt title alert!). At first attempting to keep it a secret, Buffy and Faith are forced to investigate Finch's murder by Wesley; naturally Buffy isn't so comfortable with it. She also has to deal with the strain that has been put on her relationship with Willow, given the time she's spent with the other Slayer recently. Soon, she feels compelled to spill her secret and the core Scoobies unite to try and get Faith back on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, Wesley isn't on the same page and makes the situation considerably worse.
Unlike a lot of other Buffy episodes, Consequences has lost some of its impact since it first aired. The tension arose out of wondering whether Buffy and Faith were going to get away with it and the shock of finding out how far Faith had fallen was definitely in the extreme. Like the earlier and much better episode, Innocence, the Consequences of the title don't just apply to Buffy and are instead felt and caused by many of the characters. Part of the reason it doesn't quite work as well as Innocence is that it feels a little repetitive; one of the gang turns evil, Willow discovers something about Xander's lovelife that doesn't involve her, Giles discovers something about Buffy who in turn is feeling guilty about something she feels she's to blame for.
All that really changes is the addition of a meddling watcher and Faith in the bad guy role instead of Angel. Innocence worked far better because it struck right to the core of a relationship we'd been rooting for since the beginning of the series. Faith is too recent an arrival for her betrayal to cut as keenly. It still carries a reasonable amount of emotional heft, largely thanks to the excellent performances of Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan. Anthony Head too does some sterling work in the scene in which he comforts Buffy, their trust having been repaired more since Helpless.
That being said, it's still an extremely important episode for ongoing character arcs, most obviously the relationship between Faith and Angel. As someone who's been to the dark side and back again twice, Angel knows the slippery slope that Faith is on and feels he is the one to be able to bring her back. It's largely working too until the Watcher's Council shows up to drag her away. That one scene sets up a key partnership that's essential to Faith's redemption, also setting up a minor arc within the third season (to be continued in Enemies) between the two characters.
There are a few moments of levity in what is otherwise a dark episode. Cordelia's introduction to Wesley is a particular highlight, first of all because of his reaction to finding out she's a student is brilliant and secondly, knowing their eventual collaboration and friendship makes it that bit sweeter. The other is the Mayor trying to cheer himself up by using the shredder and concluding that 'it's going to take more than this to turn [his] frown upside down.' The trivial nature of the Mayor's concerns is one of the things that make him so scary; he's incredibly human and one of those obsequious humans that just get right on your nerves.
None of this stops Consequences feeling a mythology-arc based filler episode, designed to put the pieces in place for the latter half of the season. Faith is now with the Mayor, leaving both good and evil with one Slayer each and varying levels of awareness about what the other's up to.
Quote of the Week:
Wesley: Does everyone know you?
Buffy: She's a friend.
Cordelia: Let's not get carried away.
Let's Get Trivial: Although credited, Seth Green doesn't appear in the episode as he was away filming Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Inventive Kill: Not particularly inventive, but this is the episode in which we say goodbye to Mr Trick after Faith dusts him
You can read Becky's look at previous episode Bad Girls here.