Buffy and Faith are fighting some vampires. Buffy is trying to concentrate on the job at hand, but Faith is quizzing her on whether she and Xander have ever been lovers. She finds it hard to believe they haven't. After they kill the two vampires, Buffy realizes a third is hiding. She says to go on the count of three. Faith goes on one. They stake the third vampire, who is a little different in that he carries two swords. Buffy is mad at Faith for not waiting for three. When she goes to pick up the weapons, she sees they have disappeared.
We cut to the mayor's office where Mr. Trick lays the swords on the mayor's desk. But the mayor is busy reading the comics. He's a big Family Circus fan. Mr. Trick likes Marmaduke. Allan pipes in that he reads Cathy. The mayor takes a look at the swords and remarks that he hasn't seen anything like them in a long time. Mr. Trick says the owner was slain, but that there are others like him about. The mayor says any information they get should be passed on to the slayers. With luck, they will kill each other. He also says nothing must interfere with the dedication, an event that is the last step before his ascension to a higher plane.
Willow is showing her early admissions, to pretty well every university of repute, to Xander, Oz, and Buffy. She's really excited. Xander, who probably won't get into any university, is pretty unhappy. Cordelia shows up and calls him a loser. He says she'll probably get rich selling a line of hooker wear. She says she'd dress more like him, but her father has a job. Xander has no comeback. Buffy says she has to pass chemistry before she can begin worrying about life after high school. Willow offers to help and they agree to meet at her place that night to study.
Buffy goes to see Giles and discovers her new watcher, Wesley, is with him. Wesley has been explaining to Giles how well prepared he is, having faced two vampires in controlled circumstances. Buffy asks if he is evil. Wesley is a bit taken aback, but realizes the last watcher, Gwendolyn in Revelations, was evil. He assures her his credentials have been carefully checked by Giles. But he applauds her caution. She asks Giles again. Giles says not in the strictest sense of the word. Wesley asks about her patrol. She tells him about the vampire with the swords. He immediately finds a reference to a cult called El Eliminati. They existed in the 15th century and followed a demon called Balthazar to the new world, specifically Sunnydale. He says Balthazar was killed, although he doesn't know by who. But Balthazar had an amulet purported to give him power. It was taken by a man named Gleaves and buried with him. Wesley doesn't believe it poses any danger, but he thinks the few remaining Eliminati may want to get it back for sentimental reasons. He tells Buffy to go to the crypt and get it. Faith walks in, sees the new watcher, and walks out. Giles sends Buffy after her.
Faith tells Buffy she doesn't see why they should take orders from anybody. She says Wesley is just taking the fun out of slaying. Buffy argues that it isn't fun. Faith insists it is, that Buffy must get a thrill out of it. She pretty much suggests slaying is a substitute for sex. Buffy disagrees. Faith says she's not going to the crypt with Buffy.
That night at the crypt Buffy finds the amulet. Unfortunately, the vampires show up and she has to hide. They get the amulet. When she comes out, Faith is there. Faith insists they follow the vampires down a manhole. Buffy says it's too dangerous to follow them. But Faith just jumps down the hole. Buffy has to follow or Faith has a good chance of being killed.
At the library, Giles has given his diaries to Wesley, who finds them fascinating reading. Giles is worried about Buffy, but Wesley says there is nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, Buffy and Faith are surrounded by vampires. A tough fight ensues and one of the vampires almost drowns Buffy. But the slayers escape and they get the amulet.
Buffy gives the amulet to Wesley the next day. She tells him about the large number of cult members she encountered, but he still thinks nothing of it. She leaves to go to her chemistry test. She tells Giles that they must talk. Wesley says she should be talking to him, not Giles. Both Buffy and Giles ignore him and agree to talk later.
In class, Buffy can't focus on her test. She keeps talking to Willow and Xander about how exciting the previous night was. Faith seems to have influenced her. She really is getting into it. The test starts, but Faith appears at the window and Buffy climbs out, leaving class and obviously flunking the test. Faith says she has found a vampire nest. They break into and destroy all the vampires.
That night at the Bronze, Buffy and Faith are dancing. And if the connection between slaying and sex isn't clear, the connection between dancing and sex sure is. Angel shows up. Buffy gets very physical with him. But he's there on business. He says Balthazar is alive and in a warehouse. He wants the amulet to get his strength back. At this point, Wesley shows up, upset because he could not find Buffy. Angel asks where the amulet is. Buffy fishes it out of Wesley's pocket and gives it to Angel to keep safe. She says she'll go check on Balthazar. Wesley insists Balthazar is dead, but they ignore him. Buffy gets Faith and leaves.
At the warehouse, Balthazar, who is a disgusting blob of a creature sitting in a tub and constantly being doused with water, is reprimanding his followers. He's not happy with their performance. In fact, he kills one of them just to make the point. Faith and Buffy are watching all this from a strategically placed window. Buffy feels they should go to the library and get some weapons. But Faith notices a store across the street. She takes Buffy there and breaks in, stealing weapons - like a longbow. Buffy is taken aback at first, but soon gets into it. She breaks a display case and takes some stuff for herself. Then the police arrive. Soon they are in a car, handcuffed, and on their way to jail. But Faith convinces Buffy they need to escape. They kick the front seats, knocking over the policemen and causing the car to crash. Faith gets the keys to the handcuffs and frees herself and Buffy. They leave the injured police at Faith's insistence.
The next morning, Buffy is poring through the newspaper to see if there is any news about her escapade of the night before. She apparently doesn't find anything. The mayor is having his picture taken with some kids. After they leave, he draws the blinds and lets in Mr. Trick. He wants to know how things are going with the Eliminati. When he opens his liquor cabinet, one of them pops out. But before he can kill the mayor, Mr. Trick knocks him out. The mayor asks Allan what's wrong with building security. The mayor tells them to lock up the Eliminati.
Balthazar tells his followers that they should eschew nobility and start cheating. He wants results. He wants revenge. He says a hundred years ago his enemy crippled him. Now his enemy is on the verge of ultimate power. And he doesn't want to let that happen. He tells his followers to get the watchers and to kill the slayers.
At Buffy's, Willow is giving her a protection spell. But it smells good. Willow is experimenting with good smelling potions. Faith arrives and Buffy is off with her. Willow wants to help, but Buffy tells her it is too dangerous and she should stay out of it. As they are walking down the street, they are confronted by vampires. In the library, Wesley is telling Giles he is too emotionally involved with Buffy. They argue, but before they can resolve anything, vampires show up. Back on the street, Buffy and Faith are fighting off the vampires. They flee and bump into Allan. Buffy knocks him down and Faith, despite Buffy's scream of no, stakes him. Allan is not a vampire. But the staking does kill him. Faith drags Buffy away. She runs off. Buffy is separated from her. She bumps into Angel who says he was at the warehouse. He says Balthazar has Giles. Meanwhile, Faith has returned to the body.
At the warehouse, Balthazar is threatening Giles and Wesley with torture. Giles realizes that they will die no matter what. But Wesley hopes to save his skin by telling Balthazar where the amulet is. Of course, he doesn't know since Angel has it. And he doesn't even know who Angel is. Fortunately, Buffy and Angel show up. There is a fight with Giles killing a vampire and Wesley being pretty useless. Angel is almost killed by Balthazar, but Buffy kills him. As he is dying, he tells them that when "he" rises, presumably the enemy he has talked of before, they'll all wish they were dead.
The mayor is performing a Latin invocation. He wonders why Allan isn't there. Mr. Trick asks if it worked. The mayor tells him to release the captive Eliminati. Mr. Trick does and the vampire cuts the mayor's head in two. Only it reattaches and the mayor is unharmed. Mr. Trick stakes the vampire. The mayor takes out a memo pad and checks off "Become invincible". He says nothing can harm him until his ascension in 100 days.
Buffy goes to the motel where Faith is doing her best Lady MacBeth imitation. She tries to talk to her about the death of Allan. But Faith doesn't want to talk. Buffy says they have to plan on how to deal with the situation. That the body will be found. Faith says she dumped the body. Buffy says she still killed a man. Faith says she doesn't care.
In season one, Buffy faced the Master. After she defeated him, it looked like the little boy vampire he had selected would be the primary villain of season two. Only he was replaced by Spike who was himself replaced by Angel. In season three, Mr. Trick looked to be the major villain, but he was soon replaced by the mayor. And now, you have to wonder whether Faith won't be the biggest problem facing Buffy this year.
Faith has a lot of problems. Her harping on about Buffy and Xander in the opening scene was probably an attempt on her part to feel better about her one nighter with Xander. If Buffy had done it, then it wasn't so bad. Buffy never quite figures this out, though she gets a clue when Xander keeps twitching whenever she mentions Faith's name. Faith continues to try to justify her actions through Buffy. And she does a pretty good job of it. She gets Buffy to play truant. She convinces her, at least temporarily, that she does get a sexual charge out of slaying. She gets her to commit a robbery and to escape from the police.
But everytime Buffy gets away from Faith, that influence weakens. And when Buffy sees the consequences of their action, it weakens even further. In the Bronze, at first she is very physical with Angel, but soon she turns to business. When the policemen are hurt, Buffy is really upset. It's more the threat of Balthazar than the influence of Faith that gets her out again. But the death of Allan is the last straw. Faith and Buffy go separate ways. And when Buffy goes back for Balthazar, she doesn't go for Faith.
Faith realizes that she has been fooling herself. She wants to believe that her actions are normal. At least normal for a slayer. For a short time, she got Buffy to go along with this. But now that's over. She has to accept that even as a slayer, she is different. That leads to her final scene with Buffy, a rejection of Buffy's offer of help. If Faith takes it, she accepts that Buffy is right and she is wrong. Now, all she has to cling to is the reverse, the idea that her amorality is the norm for a slayer and Buffy is abnormal.
Wesley's appearance probably does a lot to help Faith break down. Giles is pretty sensitive. If he were free to spend some time talking to and thinking about the slayers, he might realize what Faith was going through. But Wesley keeps him occupied. And Wesley certainly isn't going to notice anything.
In the past, Angel has helped Buffy deal with her role as slayer. But Faith is the one who needs help now. And he doesn't seem very helpful. In fact, his appearances and his knowledge in this episode seem very suspect. Early in the episode, the mayor tells Mr. Trick and Allan that anything they learn about the Eliminati should be passed on to the slayers. Angel then tells Buffy where Balthazar is. Later, he finds her near the scene of the ambush and tells her that Giles has been taken captive. And Allan was also at that scene. So, was Angel the communication mechanism the mayor used to convey information to Buffy? Was Allan feeding Angel information? Were he and Angel at the ambush scene to help Buffy? Is Angel holding something back? And was Allan really a bad guy? After all, how did that Eliminati get into the mayor's liquor cabinet?
This week, we saw the consequences of some earlier actions. Faith's and Xander's guilt over their tryst. Willow being left behind using the same rationale she had agreed to earlier about leaving out Xander. The slayers stuck with Wesley when they really need Giles. And next week we will see the consequences from this week's actions. Killing Balthazar and possibly letting a worse evil loose. Killing Allan and possibly destroying the one person in the mayor's camp who might have been helping them. Faith splitting herself from Buffy and the watchers. Buffy not taking that chemistry test.
Finally, some quick comments. Xander's cool seems to have been temporary. At least, Cordelia has retaken her position of superiority and meanness this week. I've got to assume that the comics they read are reflections of the characters. Anyone who really enjoys Family Circus must be incredibly evil. By revelling in the anarchistic Marmaduke, Mr. Trick reveals a rather nice side to his personality. If he weren't a vampire, you'd have to like this guy. And reading Cathy, well that suggests quite a bit about Allan's personal life. Although he may have been the hero in this piece. At least he had a good name. Wesley may be annoying and a coward, but he does know his stuff. He picked out that Eliminati reference really quickly. Maybe he'll grow into somebody we can like. The scene where he and Giles both wipe their glasses at the same time in the same way suggests they may not be all that different. And it was amusing to see Giles stop when he saw what was happening.
Got a comment? Send me mail.
Go to more Buffy the Vampire Slayer reviews.
Go to other tv reviews.
Go to my home page and get links to everything.