2maggie2 (2maggie2) wrote,
2maggie2
2maggie2

Notes on Buffy 3.15: Consequences

Standard disclaimer: I'll often speak of foreshadowing, but that doesn't mean I'm at all committing to the idea that there was some fixed design from the word go -- it's a short hand for talking about the resonances that end up in the text as it unspools.

Standard spoiler warning: The notes are written for folks who have seen all of BtVS and AtS.  I'll be spoiling through the comics as well.  Basically -- if you are a spoiler-phobe and haven't seen or read it all, read further at your own risk.

Standard Credits:  I've written the material in black; Strudel (aka my Bro) writes in blue;
[info]local_max  writes in purple.  Or at least, that's what they've done when I finish editing and formatting.

Buffy 3.15:  Consequences, in Which Every Action Has a Negative Reaction

Last week we asked how Faith choose to put on a mask of indifference about the death of Allan Finch.  This week, we delve into Faith’s momentous choice to ally with the Mayor.  Four people intervene in an effort to reach out to Faith: Buffy, Angel, Xander and Wesley.  Arguably they all make matters worse, despite having the best of intentions.

Caveat:  Everyone who tries to help Faith means well.  That their effort to help her is inflected by their own POV is just part of the human condition.  These two episodes are a masterful documentation of how conversations can swirl and shift meaning and ultimately drive events in directions no one intended.  Please do not read my documentation of the way individual agendas inflect the reaction to Faith as a condemnation of them.  We all have to interpret from the perspective of our own finite POV.  Projection is part of the human condition.

Buffy and Faith, A Tragedy in Three Acts:  By far the most important failed intervention comes from Buffy.  The exchanges between Buffy and Faith are incredibly layered demonstrations of how the swirl of emotions and words can take good intentions and drive to a terrible result.

Prologue:  The first critical exchange occurs at the end of Bad Girls. As we described there, Buffy came to try to help Faith deal with Finch’s death, but -- undoing many positive moves she made in that first conversation -- she uses the unfortunate word “killer,” which polarizes the dynamic from the outset. The middle choice -- accidental, pardonable homicide -- gets lost in the shuffle and the question for Faith becomes whether she’s a killer or whether she has no cross to bear whatsoever.

Act I:  The first exchange is after Wesley sends Buffy and Faith out to see what happened to Finch.  Buffy doesn’t want to pretend they don’t already know.  Faith leaps to the conclusion that Buffy is going to rat her out, complaining that Buffy was quite willing to lie for Angel.   This is the backdrop laid down by Revelations.  Faith doesn’t trust Buffy, and that lack of trust which Buffy earned by lying about Angel bites them both here.  In the comments to last week’s notes, angearia (LJ TAG) observes that Faith really values the possibility of friendship with Buffy.  That would mean that Faith is carrying around a rather large wound due to Buffy having lied to her.  Faith’s relentless defensiveness is in part a reaction to that, and in turn creates a nearly insurmountable brick wall around her.

The next move has Buffy trying to explain why she needs to come clean here saying it’ll go worse for Faith if they try to hide it.  Notice there’s an implied assignment of culpability, and Faith follows suit on the presumption saying she doesn’t want to go to jail.  Buffy tries to say it was an accident, but it’s too late.  Faith is in full-on defensive mode, and declares that if she’s going down, so is Buffy.  This shuts up Buffy for the nonce, and her silence confirms the premise: what’s at stake is not an unfortunate accident but something involving culpability and blame.  Buffy’s reaction to the possibility that Giles believes that she did it and not Faith makes it unmistakable that Buffy thinks it would be a Very Bad Thing to be the one responsible.  

Act 2: As they investigate Finch’s office, Faith first tries an expression of nonchalance, but then for a moment shows her true concern.  (When she looks at the picture of Finch smiling next to the Mayor, I think Faith recognizes not only the life that she has snuffed out, but also recognizes how much she wishes she had a place in the world, the way Allan seems to.  I do think this factors into her decision to go to the Mayor at the episode’s end, in looking for the place that Allan seemed to have, even if it turns out to be a bit of a lie.  He came out of nowhere, she says.  Buffy is quick to empathize, but Faith throws that off immediately.  She doesn’t want Buffy’s sympathy.  Why?  Partly defensiveness.  Faith doesn’t trust that Buffy is really going to be her friend in this.  Partly because the one who is in the position to offer sympathy is the one who has the power, and Faith rejects that.  And partly because accepting Buffy’s sympathy means accepting Buffy’s judgment about what happened, and as we see almost immediately, Faith has good reason to not want to accept Buffy’s verdict.

As they leave the Mayor’s office, Buffy accuses Faith of not showing her true face. (A comment which at first sounds like Buffy is sticking the knife in, but which Buffy then explains... while Faith still has the vibe of someone who was nearly stabbed). She wants Faith to admit that what happened bothers her -- and then says that she knows what Faith is feeling because she feels it too.  This is a genuine effort to put them on the same level, but Faith asks Buffy to spell out what she feels.  And Buffy replies:  

Dirty. Like something sick creeped inside you and you can't get it out. And you keep hoping that it was just some nightmare, but it wasn’t.


That’s a loaded description of how one should feel in the wake of an accident.  Buffy doesn’t say she feels sick about something; but rather that she feels there is something sick in her.  Where does that come from?  In part it could be compassion for the fate of the innocents.  But that doesn’t cover why Buffy feels there’s something wrong with her.   The segue from this scene is to Detective Stein doing the interrogating.  That would be the same Detective Stein who dealt with Buffy in Ted.

The reminder of Ted helps us get some purchase on why Buffy and Faith keep framing the incident as a matter of culpability and guilt rather than as a matter of an accident and the need to take responsibility, and why Buffy feels dirty when she thinks about Finch’s death.  Faith is going to jump off of Buffy’s feeling of guilt to make her declaration of slayer superiority.  But the interesting thing about that move is that Faith is not the one who exercised her slayer powers for her own benefit.  That would be Buffy, who happened to find reason to “slay” the patriarchal/abusive boyfriend who was a problem for her.  Faith is (to this point) only guilty of not being careful with her slayer powers.  There’s been this vibe of projection from Buffy from the last scene in Bad Girls when she introduces the word “killer”, and I don’t think it’s coincidental that Faith’s reaction to the situation is never proportionate to the accidental nature of what happened.   On Buffy’s side, another reason for eliding the accidental nature of what happened is that the accident itself was a manifestation of the living large, “want, take, have” philosophy she was trying on.  There is a nasty edge to all of that.  The trouble is that the accident itself still wasn’t malicious nor an expression of slayer superiority.  It was reckless.  But it all played out as a package and so Buffy maps “want, take, have” (with an assist from her experience with Ted) onto the non-malicious recklessness.

What’s interesting about that projection is that it’s not just Buffy who has been doing it.  Early on in Bad Girls, Faith insists that Buffy is lying when she says she doesn’t like slaying, and pushes forward with the certainty that her experience is the same as Buffy’s.  She is reading Buffy’s external cues that look like enjoyment, but there’s a big part of projection there, because she wants Buffy to be the same and to be someone with whom she can share the emotional liberation of being the slayer.  Faith happens to be partly right about Buffy, but it need not be so.  Buffy is doing the same thing here, by assuming that she and Faith are built the same way.  She reads Faith correctly to know that Faith’s feint of not caring is a mask.  But that doesn’t mean that Faith feels the way Buffy does all the way down, or that she should.  Buffy is partly looking for validation from Faith about the way Buffy herself feels--that Buffy has someone else in the world who can bear the emotional burden of being a slayer.  The two need each other so desperately to validate their own take on being a slayer that they end up pushing the other away.  

Ted isn’t the only time where Buffy behaved rashly and it resulted in a multitude of deaths.  The other time is when she slept with Angel.  There are dozens of dead people that Buffy, in I Only Have Eyes For You, confirmed that she felt some responsibility for.  Angel losing his soul was genuinely not Buffy’s fault, but I think it’s something Buffy felt ‘dirty’ about.  Detective Stein investigated Buffy over Kendra’s death in Becoming--the girl who died in part because Buffy fell for Angel’s feint.  Buffy has had to, in order to go on, repress some of that guilt over the accidental killing of her lover (and notice how similarly unforgiving Buffy was, initially, of James’ accidental killing of Grace in I Only Have Eyes For You?), but it pops up from time to time as an expectation that others will share it.   This would be a good example of Buffy’s lack of moral nuance.  If she can’t distinguish in her own case between a questionable killing that’s quasi-intentional from deaths that she has no direct responsibility for, it would make sense that she can’t make the distinction when it comes to Finch’s death.  What Buffy can’t see is how this is playing for Faith, who is at this point fleeing from a murder charge she’s not actually guilty of.

Be that as it may, Faith flies from the idea that she’s supposed to feel like there’s something sick inside her to the claim that slayers are just better.  Even there, she starts with a description of what happened as an accident, and argues that on balance slayers still make the world a better place.  Buffy’s reply again tilts us towards culpability:  

We help people! It doesn't mean we can do whatever we want.


Faith didn’t *want* to kill Finch.   Buffy can’t possibly think that Faith did want to do it.  I attribute Buffy’s jump to this thought to the time that Buffy did want to do whatever she wanted.  With Ted.  To be clear (as Max reminds me), Faith has been invoking this idea of “slayers doing what they want”.  But in this context, that’s NOT what she was doing.  And as Buffy scoops the accident into slayers doing what they want, Faith will find it easier to collapse the accident into a defiant stance of slayers being above the law that was to that point a nebulous thought bubbling along under the surface.   

It is, to be sure, unconscious on either girls’ part.  In rapid conversations we jump from topic to topic and associations sneak in and swerve the conversation.  Here they keep swerving around the accidental character of Finch’s death.

The Buffy/Faith dialectic takes a break, and it is a crucial one.  In the interim Faith will take her first deliberate step down the dark path when she tries to pin the “rap” on Buffy (Buffy’s response makes it crystal clear that Buffy herself thinks it’s a “rap”).   By trying to pin a murder rap on Buffy, Faith shows she is ready to burn down the bridges. Buffy, to her credit, still wants to help Faith.  This is really a remarkable turn by Buffy, and it is likely fueled by Giles’ similarly remarkable demonstration of trust -- or “faith” -- in Buffy, which takes Buffy’s breath away. Giles’ compassion and trust wraps Buffy in a cocoon in which Buffy can in turn by very magnanimous to Faith.  Unfortunately, that only unfolds in conversation with Giles and the gang.  Faith knows nothing of it, and indeed, it is probably entirely beyond her imagination that Buffy could possibly have anything other than revengeful hatred for her.  

Before they can speak again, and with Faith believing the worst of Buffy all this time, Faith now gets a series of interventions from Xander, Angel and Wesley, each of which sends Faith further down the path by the time Buffy and Faith meet up again in Act III of their dialogue.

Giles, the First (Non) Intervenor::  The first intervention is easily missed because it’s the one that doesn’t happen. Faith comes to Giles to pin the murder rap on Buffy. Giles sees through her lie, but he doesn’t do anything about it.  Giles keeps thinking about intervening, but never does come to resolution on how to do it.  Events move by him too quickly.  

The unfortunate thing is that Giles is the one who most clearly recognizes that Faith’s guilt -- her actual guilt, not just her sense of it -- is limited.  Slayers are on the front lines, and accidents happen.  It’s unfortunate, and punishment may be deserved, but it is not murder.  This is so clearly right that it’s shocking how late that we even hear this articulated.  And unfortunately, Faith never gets to hear it.  Giles decides he needs to play along with her lie rather than confront her with his knowledge of her lie, tempered with the limits of the wrong she is hiding.  Why?  Because he is already assuming that she is in a complete state of denial and is not ready to take any responsibility.  Yet, Faith’s defenses are up so high precisely because she thinks taking responsibility means admitting subjecting herself to some unlimited punishment.  If she had heard him speaking of “the crime” with such understanding of context and measure -- and compassion -- she may well have lowered her defenses and accepted responsibility.  She conceives the issue as all or nothing, and Giles unfortunately fails to disabuse her of that notion.  So, when she eventually has to admit to herself that the killing was not nothing, she is primed then to think it is “all,” which makes her later decision to put on the black hat seem to just be a confirmation of what she is, and not a further fall into the depths.  Giles doesn’t act in this episode because he doesn’t know what to do, but it turns out he has the key perspective that could potentially have averted Faith’s most damning decision.  He just didn’t know it.  By the time Xander intervenes, Faith can immediately conclude that Giles’ belief in her story was just a charade, fueling her feeling of alienation.

I think Giles’ unwillingness to act is in part because of his difficult position caught midway between the Watcher and independent worlds.  His recognition that accidents like these happen is because he knows of past incidents and how the Council has dealt with them before.  But he also rejects the Council in all its forms, because of his bad experience with the Cruciamentum and his overriding belief in Wesley’s incompetence.  The problem is that most of Giles’ training is in the Council’s methods.  His first instinct is to manipulate Faith rather than level with her.  Since he never formed an emotional attachment to her the way he has with Buffy, he doesn’t have any way of relating to her that isn’t as Watcher/slayer -- and so, in trying not to follow traditional Watcher protocols, he ends up having no real ideas as to how to proceed.

Xander.  Xander’s motive for reaching out to Faith is that he feels like he has a connection with her.   We’re coming off The Zeppo, so it’s a chance for Xander to feel useful to the gang, and to try to make something real out of the rather sordid exchange he had with Faith.  So Xander goes to her to offer her support and let her know she has someone on her side.  

Unfortunately, early in the conversation, Xander makes it clear that everyone knows that Faith did the deed, reinforcing Faith’s feeling that what happened was the sort of Very Bad Thing it would be better to blame others for.  It’s this “everyone knows” that is so devastating here, because it reinforces Faith’s belief that she has no one to turn to.  She is on her own, with very poor resources, making very poor choices, unable to turn to others for help because she believes they are all against her.  Xander inadvertently sets the stage for her believing that none of the good guys will ever be on her side because she has never succeeded in making a connection with them.

What follows next is Xander and Faith both imposing their own perspective on the other.  Xander feels a connection to Faith because he saved her, bedded her and felt close to her; so he expects that Faith feels the same way.  Faith saw Xander as an object for sex, and she expects that Xander sees her the same way.  In fact, they’re both partly right: Faith showed tiny cracks of tenderness in letting Xander hold her after sex, and Xander really doesn’t know Faith the way he thinks he does.  Faith’s distortion is partly inflected by her distrust of all men (who, as she stated in Beauty and the Beasts, are beasts).  Xander’s is based in part on his need to feel special, validated as a former sex partner and as a member of the Scoobies.  He also sees him and Faith as both being Scoobies currently on the periphery of the gang.  Shortly before going to Faith, Buffy told Xander that the guys Faith sleeps with are “like a big joke to her;” there is some part of Xander that needs to prove Buffy wrong.  So then, after making the good move of telling a now-overtly defensive Faith that it was an accident, and that’s the important thing, he oversells his connection to her and his knowledge of her.  His description of Faith as a wild thing who doesn’t know what she’s doing has some truth and some distortion, but it doesn’t come from any position of real authority on who she is.  

So I think this is all in play when Faith begins to assault Xander.  She already assumes he wants her sexually, regardless of his denials -- and she needs to believe that, or her worldview which presupposes that men see her only as a sex object collapses.  She thinks that everyone believes she’s a killer (who is dirty on the inside/a wild thing) who does what she wants anyway -- so there’s no reason not to do what she wants.  She sees connections, especially with men, as an exercise of power, so she responds to Xander’s assertion that they have a connection with an exercise of absolute power over him.  I also think Faith is expressing her anger at the Scoobies.  They’ve kept her outside.  Now they’re going to stoop down to try to help poor wild wanton Faith out of her jam.  She sees herself as beneath them and she thinks they see her that way too.  So how better to live out her new “I’m the evil want, take, have””” persona than by assaulting Xander?

Faith’s Assault on Xander.  This is Faith’s second seriously dark move.  (The betrayal of Buffy is first).  Finch was an accident.  Strangling Xander to death is anything but.  On the question of Faith’s strangling Xander, I think it’s more accurate to say that what she is doing is demonstrating her power to strangle him -- her power over him is something that she keeps tossing at him in response to his attempt at moralizing -- but it’s far from clear that she has decided that she will strangle him.  Angel’s intervention prevents us from knowing when Faith would have released her grip, but I have a very, very hard time thinking she would have carried it through to conclusion.  On the other hand, I didn’t exactly see signs that she was about to stop.  While she pretty clearly wanted to demonstrate she had the power to strangle him, it’s not clear whether she didn’t know herself whether she was going to stop.  The shooting script makes it sound like she wasn’t going to stop and I don’t think it played as though she was going to stop.   It was all in reaction and impulsive -- but also deadly.  Angel arrives in time to save Xander from Faith; but alas, his attempt to save Faith from herself just adds to the downward spiral.

We’ll talk about the impact this assault has on Xander in the next set of notes on this episode.

Angel.  Faith’s introduction to Angel’s intervention is a baseball bat to the head.  When she comes to, she is manacled.  Then she gets the shrink job from a guy who knows firsthand of the power rush that a demon (and not just any demon, but a demon who drew exquisite pleasure from human agony) experienced killing humans.  In other words, Faith is now being treated not just as a criminal, but as a psychopathic murderer -- one without a soul.  If it were Buffy sitting chained and being forced to listen to this, she would laugh at how ridiculous this was coming from Angel’s mouth.  (I’m not so sure Buffy would.  I think we have ample evidence that Buffy tends to believe less-than-reasonable things Angel says--if perhaps not so ridiculous.)  Faith reacts with her bravado, but her insecurities are such that you can see that Angel’s egregious portrait of her is something she starts -- ever so slightly -- to believe.  It’s a sad demonstration of how little sense of self she has that she starts to open up to Angel after this gambit of his.  

I think Angel is well-intentioned.  He wants to reach out to someone he sees as going bad.  The problem is that he’s projecting his own issues onto Faith, and in doing so is drawing a (very extreme) picture of what ‘evil’ is, which ends up being the picture Faith tries to inhabit when she decides to live the evil slayer role large. (It’ll be interesting to see if they play with this nuance that Faith’s darkness is not the same as Angel’s in the up-coming Angel and Faith series.)  To be fair to Angel, he is not wrong that Faith is ratcheting up her badness post-Finch’s death; Faith looked very much like she might be about to kill Xander when Angel walked in. The problem is that Angel leaps to, in his mind, the only possible explanation for Faith’s behaviour being that she’s tasted blood and she likes it--not that she might have her own reasons which aren’t the same as his.  

All of this is more tragic because Angel is continuing his relatively successful foray into good guy territory here.  As a precursor to his private detective role, he uses skills he’s honed in years as a soulless demon and then ensouled gutter-dweller: he lurks, he observes, he deduces.  He pieces together what happened with Finch’s death, and comes in to save Xander’s life.  He acts independently of Buffy (indeed, he discounts her account of what happened to Finch), but keeps her in the loop when he does get a hold of Faith.  He gives Faith a heartfelt speech -- much like he will on his own show, when he is at his best -- about how seeing the Sunnydale people fighting has helped to wash away years of cynicism.  This is all an offshoot of the back and forth between Buffy and Angel in Amends and Gingerbread that strong is fighting: Angel has, for now, taken this lesson to heart and stands in admiration of who Buffy is and what she can aspire to be.  It’s good stuff, but it’s too little, too late in the conversation.

And just in case Faith may have some how come around to Angel’s version of tough love, Wesley arrives to deliver the coup de grace.

Wesley. The counterproductive nature of the interventions is clearest in the case of Wesley.  He goes by the book and reports Faith to the council, which responds by kidnapping her to haul her back to England for judgment, thereby confirming Faith’s belief that she will be harshly condemned for having accidentally killed the Mayor.  There is no conversation or attempt at making connection, thereby confirming to her belief that she’s an outsider and therefore can trust no one.  They haul her off like an animal, thereby confirming Angel’s portrait of her as a psychopathic blood-hungry killer.  In an interesting counterpoint to the Faith/Buffy dynamic, Wesley’s motive for intervening this way can be understood as an effort to prove to the council that he’s the “good” watcher as compared to Giles who chooses to try to deal with things quietly.  Judging from his expression when he overhears Buffy and Giles, he is also personally angry that Giles de facto remains Buffy’s watcher.  In keeping with the overriding theme of characters treating Faith as if Faith were like them, the cold, firm hand Wesley tries to use with Faith seems like the kind of punishment Wesley tends to expect when he strays (due to his upbringing).

We also see the beginning of the narrative that it’s Wesley’s failure as a watcher that really led to Faith’s slide into evil.   Buffy states that Angel was getting through to Faith when Wesley barged in--which Buffy would only know from report from Angel, who surely believes he was reaching Faith, but is not an objective source of information.  But it’s Angel who is trusted.  Wesley, the newcomer no one particularly likes, gets the lion’s share of the blame for the collective failure.

And so we arrive at the final confrontation with Buffy.

Buffy and Faith, Act 3:  The final act is on the docks.  Since these two last spoke, Faith has , come to see herself as dark,* taking on the projections of those who sought to help her.  More importantly, perhaps, she has acted now on that construct, giving it some reality:  she betrayed Buffy; she strangled Xander.  Both of these are probably mapped onto her psyche as unpardonable acts, points of no return.  These acts now form a falsely continuous narrative with Finch’s killing, an act which she tried to take no blame for, but which could well have boomeranged and morphed in her guilty subconscious as a cold-blooded murder.  Buffy’s nice gesture (“I don’t give up on my friends”) has no purchase on Faith because she believes so firmly now that she can’t be Buffy’s friend.

* A colloquy on the meaning of “darkness” is in order. Faith goes through at least two stages in rapid succession here, but I think they are very distinct. Her first step is to embrace the UberSlayer philosophy.  That’s antithetical to the Council’s agenda, which strongly seeks to keep Slayers under control, but given what we see of the Council, it is clear that an anti-Council power grab by the Slayer is not inherently evil.  Instead, it is inherently dangerous and unpredictable.  Where the Council seeks to impose controls order on the Slayer to keep her appropriately harnessed in the fight against evil, it does not follow that a Slayer who defies the Council will renege on her responsibility in the fight.  Indeed, Buffy will later defy the Council, without losing her sense of duty.  So, Faith’s flirtation with the feeling of being above the law is not a sign that she has tipped over into evil.  She’ll make that commitment later, after more inopportune interventions -- which seem to presuppose that she has gone completely out of control and evil -- go awry.  Indeed, it’s poignant that Faith states outright, long before Buffy will admit to it, that ‘graduation’ and taking charge of their own lives is a valid and perhaps even necessary step.  The path Faith later goes down is the cautionary tale for Buffy about what independence can bring, and it is one of the many things that keeps Buffy ambivalent about the exercise of her power going forward.

If we had Buffy projecting her Ted-guilt onto Faith in the first two acts, the last act has Faith projecting her liberation from moral restraint onto Buffy.  Faith accuses Buffy of being scared because Buffy knows she has this dark side in her, too.  Buffy rejects this thought, telling Faith she’s sick.  Of course, Buffy already felt like there was something sick inside back in act 2.  But now it’s firmly placed on Faith.  Faith taunts Buffy about her own inner darkness, and the taunt lands home because that’s when Buffy clocks her.   

The dynamic is so finely layered here.  Buffy has latent fears about her potential to abuse her power.  She’s done it before.  Faith has fears about being the lesser slayer.  She’s messed up before.  They both have impulses to wild and dark; they both have impulses to care.   Buffy, as the one with the close relationship to Giles, a supporting network of family and friends and three years of responsibility, inhabits the space of “the good slayer”.  The outcome of the series of conversations between Buffy and Faith is that Faith will now inhabit the space of “the bad slayer”.  She’ll play that role to the hilt until it almost destroys her.  For me this is just a truth about human relationships.  People are always conflicted and a morass of motives.  But in relationships that are close enough, or in which there is cross-identity, a pair of people can end up holding one end of the tension and enact it as a conflict with the partner who holds the other end of the tension.  The consequences of the polarization of identity are immediately catastrophic for Faith, but also proves damaging to Buffy in the long-run, as we shall see going forward.

When they are interrupted by a horde of vampires, Faith saves Buffy’s life (and Buffy saves hers, showing how good it would be for these two to make peace).  The episode’s end renders the act of killing Trick part of Faith’s downward spiral (since it’s how she gets her foot in the Mayor’s door).  But she needn’t have saved Buffy.  One could argue that the act is one of self-preservation, and indeed saving Buffy is what allows her to reclaim her position within the gang -- albeit tenuously -- while she secretly allies herself with the Mayor.  Buffy is still far too important to Faith, as a friend, for her to just let her die (a bit of a tell that the dark role she is playing is just a mask).  She also, I think, recognizes that she wants to ‘win’ over Buffy.  Much of the next half-season is about Faith wanting a type of moral victory over Buffy: if she can, as she tries to do here, prove that perfect little Buffy is as dark as her, then she won’t be stuck as the black sheep slayer.  If Buffy dies in the ‘good’ slayer role, Faith is doomed to wander forever.

Final Caveat:  I do want to be clear, though.  I think Faith’s choice to go dark after the second act does emerge because of this complicated swirl of good and bad motives on the part of both Buffy and Faith.  But it is Faith’s choice.  I’ve been talking about the undercurrents to bring them into relief.  But the surface currents are very real.  And those currents are the ones where Buffy is deeply troubled about the accidental death of a human and is anxious to reach out to Faith to help her to deal with it.  Faith’s own projections have also steered their conversations into darker territory.  Faith’s own fears about her inadequacy vis a vis Buffy; her resentment about having been lied to by Buffy are all in the mix.  And above all we see in Faith’s leap to taking on the mantle of “evil slayer” the same recklessness that got her into trouble in the first place.  Faith acts and reacts without much thought.  She’s anxious to escape her own demons and that means she’s nonchalant about the consequences her recklessness must inevitably have.  It seems easier to just be the evil slayer.  And so she knocks on the Mayor’s door.  

So we’ve covered Faith’s fall.  And Faith’s fall does not exhaust the material of this episode.   We’ll deal with the rest of the episodes in a special extra edition which can be found here.

Tags: notes, season 3
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