A new watcher, Gwendolyn Post, arrives in Sunnydale. She's there to take over watching Faith. She's also there to report on Giles. Apparently, the council back in England feels he isn't doing his job properly. That he's become too American.
Gwendolyn also has some news. A demon is on his way to Sunnydale searching for a mystical glove with great powers. After a look at the library, which Gwendolyn is highly critical of, they determine the glove is in a tomb. Only Sunnydale has 12 cemetaries and finding the right tomb could take some time.
Meanwhile, Buffy is still seeing Angel and still keeping his return a secret. And things are getting intense between them. There's some passionate kissing going on. But Buffy knows the consequences of things going too far and makes sure they don't.
But things soon get complicated. Faith faces off with the demon on her
own and gets beaten. Angel finds the glove and lets Buffy know about it.
But Xander sees Angel and Buffy together. Which gets everybody upset.
Xander tells Faith Angel is back. They go to see Giles only to find him
knocked out and badly hurt. They think Angel did it, but actually
Gwendolyn was responsible. Faith goes to kill Angel. Buffy goes to
stop her. Angel is planning to destroy the glove. Only Gwendolyn
gets there and it turns out she wants the glove. She fights Angel,
who almost defeats her, but is stopped by Faith. Buffy then fights
Faith. The rest show up, discover Gwendolyn is evil, stop her and
destroy the glove. The friends decide Buffy is right about Angel
being good again.
This episode is about lies and liars. Buffy, Willow, Xander, and Gwendolyn all tell lies.
Let's start with Buffy. Her lie is the dramatic engine that drives this episode. Why does she lie about Angel being back? At first, in Beauty and the Beasts, she's probably not certain whether Angel is good or evil. She doesn't know if the spell is still in effect and if his experience in the demon dimension changed him. I can see why she wants to wait until she's determined what side he stands on. But by this episode, she's clear on things. And she realizes how much danger she is in just being near Angel. The temptation is strong and the two of them don't seem to have all that much willpower.
Is Buffy afraid of what her friends will do? I don't think so. She knows that she can control them. She's controlled them in the past. And while Xander is always ready to jump to conclusions, Giles and Willow will stop and think about things.
I'm going to take a radical view and suggest Buffy's lie is a symbol of her growing maturity. In the past, Buffy has always rushed into things. A great example is her decision to run away from home. But even her return was a spur of the moment decision. And whenever we see her arguing with her friends or family, she's always basically making it up as she goes along. And this is almost always bad. So now she's changing. She's waiting until she is sure about Angel, about how she feels about him, about what she wants to do about him. And then, when she's ready, she'll tell the others. It's just part of the bad luck that seems to tag after the slayer that this decision is just as bad as all the thoughtless ones she has made in the past.
Willow is pretty much the opposite of Buffy. Intellectual where Buffy is physical. Studious where Buffy is playful. Quiet where Buffy is outgoing. Cautious where Buffy is daring. But now she has rushed into something, her pseudorelationship with Xander, and for the first time ever she is lying to her friends.
I think Willow's lie is an attempt to avoid facing the truth. While Buffy was waiting, trying to work things out, Willow seems merely to be fighting a delaying action. Until she actually tells someone what has happened, she can continue to believe nothing happened. That there was just the fluke.
Xander's lie is the most complex and the most serious. Xander hates Angel. And his hatred of Angel is symbolic of his deeply conflicted feelings. Originally, he disliked Angel because of their competition over Buffy. Since then, he has established a relationship with Cordelia and now is entangled with Willow. For a high school loser, Xander is doing very well. But he's probably the least mature of these three. The problem of determining his real feelings - whether he loves Cordelia or Willow - is beyond him at this moment.
Buffy's response to this problem is to put things on hold while she tries to sort everything out. Willow lies to herself. But Xander retreats. He moves back to a simpler emotional time, to the time when he loved Buffy and hated Angel. So, he tells Faith about Angel. When he sees Giles is hurt, he immediately blames Angel. But Xander has seen Angel with Buffy. He also knows Willow cast the spell. He, more than anyone else, must realize Angel is no longer evil. But accepting that would force him to confront other, unpleasant, truths. So he lies, not so much to Faith as to himself.
Now we come to Gwendolyn Post, a one time Watcher who dabbled too deeply in the black arts. Now she seeks power for herself. She engages in a whole of web of deceit. She lies to everyone. But her worst lies are probably to Faith. Faith is the most emotionally fragile character on the show. She is incapable of trusting others. Several times she has talked of how men are all beasts. But she does put her faith in Gwendolyn. When Gwendolyn tells her that while she shall be hard in training her, it will make her a better slayer, she believes. When she sees Angel and Gwendolyn fighting, she immediately knows which side to come down on. When Buffy intervenes, she's willing to fight the slayer to protect her watcher. Then she discovers that Gwendolyn lied.
Buffy's lie almost cost Angel his life. It almost allowed Gwendolyn to get the glove. Willow's lie is causing her distress. Xander's lie almost led to tragedy and is stopping him from dealing with the real issues. Gwendolyn's lie pushed Faith back into the emotional prison which, through her friendship with Buffy, she had almost escaped. At the end of the episode, we see Faith sitting in her room, watching tv, letting Buffy know that she can trust no one. Not even Buffy. Too hurt, too isolated, to respond to Buffy's attempt at reaching her.
Finally, I have a few cheers and jeers for this episode. Does someone just show up claiming to be a watcher and get accepted without question? Why didn't Giles call the council? That seems the reasonable thing to do. Willow has been acting strange for some time now. Of course, so has Xander, but he's usually a little strange and I can see why no one notices. And Cordelia is probably to vain to believe Willow could steal her boyfriend. But why doesn't Buffy notice anything? She and Willow are supposed to be good friends. Friends usually notice this kind of thing.
I'm also curious as to how Faith pays her way. She doesn't seem to have a job. Although she does have a great wardrobe. Does the council provide a subsidy for slayers? Is there some trust fund? Is Giles paying her bills personally.
On the plus side, after Faith and Buffy duke it out, they actually look pretty beat up. Buffy has a bruise under her eye and Faith has a swollen lip. It was nice to a have a little bit of realism.
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