Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Who Are You

Summary

We pick up where we left off in This Year's Girl, the police are taking away Buffy who is now in Faith's body. And just to simplify things, I'll be referring to them as the people they are not the bodies they inhabit. Joyce wonders what drove Faith to being the way she is. Faith says maybe she enjoys being that way. But Joyce disagrees, she thinks Faith is horribly unhappy. Faith jokes that she'll find happiness in prison, presumably being molested by other prisoners. Joyce is shocked and Faith says she's just angry at Faith for hurting Joyce. Joyce hugs her, making her uncomfortable which she covers by saying she's sore from the fight. Joyce says she missed her, Faith says she knew it. Joyce asks if they can spend some time together, a night when she's not being held captive by a raving psychotic. Faith agrees. She goes to take a bath. In the tub, she examines her body. She then practices talking the way she imagines Buffy does in the mirror, doing a miss goody two shoes routine.

Buffy struggles to free herself, but is sedated. Willow is at Tara's, worrying about what Faith might be doing. Tara says she's safe since no one knows she's there, in fact no one knows about Tara. Willow tries to explain why she hasn't told her friends about Tara, claiming she wants someone who belongs to her. Tara says she does. Meanwhile, Faith is getting dressed and takes Joyce's credit card and books a flight for the next morning. She also steals some money. Joyce comes in and says Giles has called and she decides to go over and see the gang. She takes a lipstick, but when Joyce points out it's the Harlot, the same colour Faith chose, Faith tosses it to her and tells her to burn it. Buffy is being taking to jail, but her police car is rammed by a truck and the three men from the council take her.

Faith arrives at Giles' to discover Willow, Xander, and Anya there. Of course, she doesn't know who Anya is. Giles tells them about the special squad sent by the council which has captured Buffy. Faith is very happy at this. So is Willow and Faith remarks that she remembers how much Willow dislikes Faith. Willow senses something strange as Faith has a fantasy in which she stabs Willow to death. Anya and Xander want to leave, Anya says they are planning on lighting candles and having sex. Faith says she wouldn't want to cut into that seven minutes. Both Anya and Xander are hurt, but Faith says they should lighten up, that they are safe. Giles reminds her of Adam, who she knows nothing of. She says she'll patrol, instead she goes to the Bronze and dances. She bumps into Spike, who she doesn't know. But she puzzles out who he is and what has happened to him. She comes on to him, teasing him, then walks away. Spike is really angry at her and promises a confrontation with her when he gets rid of the chip in his head. He walks out of the Bronze angrily bumping someone on the way out and immediately getting the terrible head pain.

A group of vampires are returning to their nest and find Adam there. They fight him and he kills one of them. He tells them they are a paradox, demons in a human body. They walk in both worlds and belong to neither. He says he can relate and he wants to talk to them. Buffy comes to in the truck the council squad put her in. She's chained up. She tries to explain what happened, but they aren't listening. One of them is really angry with her, he says she perverted the Watcher's Council. He spits in her face.

Willow has taken Tara to the Bronze. They meet Buffy and she introduces them. She goes to get a drink and Buffy comments on the lesbian relationship to Tara, she says "So Willow's not driving stick anymore". She asks about Oz and makes fun of Tara's stutter. Willow comes back pointing out a vampire is leaving with a girl. At first, Faith does nothing, then she realizes she's expected to slay. She walks after the vampire grabbing a pool cue on her way. She easily kills him and the girl he was attacking is thankful. Willow tells Faith she's taking Tara home, that Tara isn't feeling well. She asks if Faith is going to go home or over to Riley's.

Buffy is banging around in the back of the truck. Smith goes in to sedate her and she grabs him and threatens to kill him unless they release her. But they are ready to let Smith die. They walk away and she tosses Smith out of the truck, unharmed. Faith visits Riley. Tara tells Willow she thinks Buffy is possessed, she sensed something wrong in her energy - plus her being mean. She says Willow can travel to the netherworld and if she sees Buffy there, she can determine if it is really her in her body. It's dangerous and Tara will have to act as Willow's anchor to the real world. Willow assures Tara she trusts her.

Faith tells Riley Faith is taken care of. He says he was curious about her. She says he wouldn't like Faith because she's not proper and joyless. He insists on closing the door. Faith kneels on the bed and asks how he wants her. She suggests playing some games. But Riley doesn't want to play, he wants to make love. Willow and Tara begin the spell. Riley says "I love you". Faith pushes him off her. She asks who he is and what he wants from her. She says what happened is meaningless. Riley sees she is shaking. He asks what happened. She says "nothing".

Adam is preaching to the vampires. He tells them he knows why he is here, to kill. He tells them they have to face their fears. He tells the leader of the vampires that he will be Adam's first, the sign of his coming. He asks him what he fears most.

Faith leaves to catch her flight. Forrest stops her in the hall and they argue. The council gives the order to kill the captive. Buffy manages to get the gun from the hit man and frees herself. She drives the truck to safety. Faith is at the airport, picking up her tickets. Buffy is at Giles', trying to convince him who she really is. She points out she recognized him when he was a demon in A New Man. She explains how he turned into a demon, who his girlfriend is, and goes on to talk about what she heard her mother thinking about him and sex. Giles believes her. Willow bursts in, her spell worked and she understands everything. And she has a magic device that can switch Buffy and Faith back. Xander phones to tell them to turn on the tv. There is a newscast of a group of people taken hostage in a church, clearly by demons. Faith sees the newscast at the airport.

In the church, the vampires Adam was preaching to have taken over. The lead vampire is talking about how he used to be afraid of churches, but now he isn't. They have nice windows and lots of people to eat. He asks where's God. Since He isn't there, he'll start killing people until he shows. Riley is outside, in a suit, and he has taken charge. Faith shows up and intends to go in, Riley tells her there are three vampires inside. He was late for church. He wants to go in with her, but she punches him in the chest by his wound, doubling him up, and says "I can't use you". She enters the church and confronts the vampires. She tells them they can't kill the people, because it's wrong. One of them attacks and she tosses him aside. The lead vampire recognizes that she's the slayer and she says "the one and only". Giles, Willow, Tara, and Buffy arrive in the truck. Giles distracts the police so Buffy can sneak around back. In the church, Faith stakes one of the vampires. The people flee. A vampire flees and runs into Riley. They fight and Riley grabs the vampire's coat throwing him into the sunlight and destroying him. Buffy runs up and hugs Riley. He's confused at who she is. In the church, the lead vampire is really strong and actually seems to be defeating Faith. He says Adam has made him strong. Buffy stakes him from behind. She and Faith fight. Faith beats away at Buffy, calling her a disgusting murderous bitch. Buffy grabs her hand and activates the spell, they change bodies again. Faith, now in her own body, flees.

At Riley's, Buffy gets off the phone and tells Riley Faith has disappeared and the council hit squad have also left. She realizes Riley slept with Faith and is confused. She says she doesn't think Faith will return. Riley says she had her fun. Buffy repeats the word, without believing it. Faith is in the back of a truck (or possibly a railway car), leaving.

Analysis

This was sad. Not bad sad, just sad sad. Alone in the truck, captured by the unfeeling and for the most part unlistening council hitmen, Buffy realizes just how desperate and lonely Faith really is. Everyone in the world has turned against her now. Even the council, which should understand the temptations and the pressures placed on a slayer, are ready to sacrifice her without a moments thought. Faith realizes that she isn't the victim of circumstances, but of herself. That Buffy's life was better because she was a better person. That Buffy had love rather than sex because that's what she went looking for. Faith no longer has fate to blame. Saddest of all, Buffy realizes that there is very little difference between her and Faith. That a couple of bad choices, a few tough situations, and they are the same. In the truck, Buffy was Faith. And with Riley, Faith was Buffy enough to fool him. And when your mother and your lover can't tell you aren't you, you have to wonder how unique you really are. Saddest of all, the episode ends with Faith in the back of a truck, still going nowhere and paralleling Buffy's truck captivity, and Buffy questioning her relationship with Riley, paralleling Faith's relationship problems.

Faith thinks she has solved all her problems by switching bodies. But the essential flaw in her reasoning is revealed almost instantly, when Joyce wonders what drove Faith to being evil and argues that Faith must be terribly unhappy. She is and she doesn't like to be reminded of it. Faith lives in a world of denial where she is free and happy and Buffy is constrained and secretly yearns to be like Faith. For the moment, that's true. Faith is free and Buffy is locked up. But all it takes is a few words from Joyce to make Faith realize that she carries her unhappiness within her and can't shake it off merely by switching bodies and identities. Although Faith has taken Buffy's body, she can't take her life. When Joyce hugs her, she is uncomfortable. Physical expressions of love (whether the motherly hug from Joyce or the love making with Riley later) are just alien to Faith. She can't accept them. She's thrilled to realize she was right in her guess that Buffy hadn't visited in some time and Joyce missed her. This helps her maintain her image of Buffy as thoughtless and cruel, not unlike Faith but just not found out yet. But when Joyce suggests they spend some time together, and refers to Faith as a raving psychotic, she's shot down again. Faith is coming to realize that others, and particularly the mother figure Joyce, see her not as exciting or dangerous but as sick and to be pitied.

Faith's pretense of being Buffy fails almost immediately. She steals money and a credit card from Joyce (even when Buffy ran away she didn't do that). She plans to leave town as soon as possible, even though disguised as Buffy she actually has a chance to be loved here. But she really doesn't want that. Faith has created a persona for herself as a strong loner and she can't allow anything to interfere with that. Meanwhile, Willow is having her sense of herself questioned by her relationship with Tara. These scenes are interestingly juxtaposed. Willow's scene ends with Tara telling her she belongs to Willow - a pretty clear confession of love and one that seems to both please and disturb Willow. Faith's scene ends with Joyce pointing out that she is taking the Harlot lipstick, the same lipstick she took in This Year's Girl, and she tosses it away telling Joyce to burn it. Both women have received a revelation about who they are.

At Giles', Faith has her fantasy of killing Willow - probably the nicest and least violent of the Scooby gang. She also mocks Xander's sexual prowess (speaking as someone who actually knows). Although Faith is trying to impersonate Buffy, and she manages to skirt around difficult things like not recognizing Anya or knowing about Adam, the Faith personality keeps coming through. She has violent thoughts and says things with the intention of hurting others. She says she'll go on patrol, but goes to the Bronze and dances instead.

Faith was taken aback by Joyce's hug. She's taken aback again when she saves the girl from a vampire and the girl thanks her. This, of course, is what Faith was supposed to be. She was supposed to slay vampires and save the innocent. She hasn't done that for a long time. And even when she did do it, it was for the wrong reasons. Faith enjoyed the violence and the slaying, but she never cared much for the people she was saving. She has isolated herself from others. But now Joyce and this girl have both reached out to her, breaching the walls of her self imposed prison.

Faith's third shock comes when she visits Riley. She talks about Faith not being proper and joyless and giving in to her animal instincts, acting as if Buffy is repressed. Sexually, Faith has always felt at her strongest. This is an area where she is more experienced than Buffy and where she feels stronger. She uses her sexuality to achieve dominance. She did this with Xander and attempted it with Angel. Angel's rejection hurt her and now she hopes to regain her dominance over Buffy by seducing Riley and demonstrating her superiority. But when Riley tells her he loves her, she's completely overwhelmed. She immediately asks who he is and what he wants. She insists what happened was meaningless. Buffy has bested Faith in three areas: as daughter, as slayer, and now as lover. Faith no longer has anything to cling to. No sense of superiority. When Riley asks her what happened, she says nothing. But she's just trying to convince herself of that. In reality, she discovered that Riley really did love Buffy and that was something she couldn't have.

The scene of Faith leaving Riley and arguing with Forrest is immediately followed by the scene of Buffy escaping from the council. Faith is fleeing from love and its entanglements. She has her flight to catch and intends to leave Sunnydale and its complications behind her. Buffy flees from danger, but she runs toward something, not away. She goes to see Giles, certain that he will recognize her and that she can make things right.

Things come to a head with the vampire occupation of the church. Faith, still trying desperately to be Buffy, has to go to the church and save the people. And when Riley tries to go in with her, she says "I can't use you". On the surface, she means that he won't be of assistance to her in the battle. But beneath, she's saying that she can't treat him as the disposable sex object she has always treated men as in the past. In the church, Faith tells the vampires they can't kill people because it's wrong. Throughout the episode she has used that phrase in a mocking manner, making fun of what she thinks Buffy is. To Faith, morality stems from strength and she sees Buffy's concept of right and wrong as a sign of weakness. But all that she has experienced in this long day has made her closer to Buffy than ever before. And she is starting to believe in a right and wrong beyond strength and a purpose beyond pleasure. When the vampire calls her the slayer she says "the one and only". That's not true, but that's the way Faith would like it to be. When Buffy saves Faith, there is a moment at which reconciliation is possible. Faith has come back to act as a slayer, to save people from vampires. She has performed a good act. Buffy has just saved her. What they should do is talk. But all Faith can do is fight. And when she calls Buffy, in Faith's body, a disgusting, murderous bitch whom she hates it's clear she is talking of self hatred. Faith has come to realize that she is her own worst enemy and she had hoped to be free of herself, to truly become Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

When Adam says vampires are a paradox, demons in a human body walking in both worlds and belonging to neither, he could also be talking of Buffy/Faith as well as himself. As Buffy, Faith walks in the light but her inner self rebels against it. She can't be kind or caring or accept kindness from others. She rejects Joyce, fantasizes about hurting Willow, and is mean to Xander, Spike, and Tara. Buffy walks in the dark, but is still herself. When she captures one of the council hit squad, she can't bring herself to actually kill him, something they expected her to do. But while Buffy and Faith are true to themselves, the world around them reacts to the bodies they currently inhabit.

Buffy, Faith, and Willow are struggling to understand who they are. Adam knows who he is. He sees himself as the Messiah, bringing death and destruction rather than redemption. The lead vampire is his John the Baptist, foretelling his coming.

Some quick final thoughts. Faith has left Buffy with some serious problems. Her confrontations with Forrest and Spike will probably come home to roost. It would have been nice to see the real Buffy visit her mother. Maybe Faith had a point there. You have to think about that stevedore comment, it could be good or bad. And does it mean there may be hope for Giles and Joyce yet.

Lines of the week:

"So Willow's not driving stick anymore." - Faith instantly guessing Willow and Tara's secret.

"I know why I'm here. I was created to kill." - Adam full of self knowledge.

"I heard my mom think that you were like a stevedore during sex." - Buffy proving she really is Buffy.

"I can't use you." - Faith and a double entendre.

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