Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Dirty Girls

Summary

A girl is fleeing bringers. A clergyman driving down the road picks her up. He says his name is Caleb. Hers is Shannon. It turns out both are going to Sunnydale. She says she needs to go to Revello Drive. He calls her a whore. She tries the door, but it won't open. He says she's dirty. He says she was born dirty, born without a soul. He reveals the bringers work for him. He says they aren't satanist, that satan is a little man. He uses the car's cigarette lighter to heat his ring and then burns her with it, marking her neck. He tells her there is a car behind them with some people going the same place she is. He asks her to deliver a message to the slayer. He stabs her, then whispers in her ear. He opens the door and shoves her out. The car behind squeals to a halt. Willow and Faith get out. Willow says they have to get the girl to hospital.

It's nighttime and one of the slayerettes is in Xander's room, sitting on his bed and talking to him. She talks about how young and inexperienced she is. She comes on to Xander. Another slayerette, Colleen, appears and she also comes on to Xander. He says the others will hear them, but the girls say they won't. The door opens to reveal the other slayerettes in their underwear having a pillow fight. We hear Rona shouting Xander and Xander awakes to Rona standing in the doorway asking him to come fix the toilet which is blocked. He says he'll be a minute, he has a leg cramp.

Willow and Faith are at the hospital. Willow believes the girl is a slayerette. Faith is upset that no one told her someone was killing off slayers. Willow says they thought she would be safe in prison. Faith tells her about the knife attack on her in Salvage. Willow has called home and Dawn told her Buffy is on patrol. Faith wants to go find her. Willow says someone should stay there in case the girl wakes up. Faith says she'll go find Buffy. Willow is worried that perhaps Buffy and Faith shouldn't meet so abruptly. Faith says she doesn't like hospitals and she's sure everything will be fine.

A girl is running through the cemetery. She's caught and punched in the face and knocked out. The person who punched her is grabbed and thrown back. It's Spike who did the punching and Faith has grabbed him. They fight as he tries to explain he's a good guy now. Faith remembers him although he doesn't recognize her. Faith doesn't believe him. Buffy knocks her down. She explains that Spike has a soul. Faith asks if he is like Angel and Spike says no while Buffy says sort of. Faith asks why he was chasing the girl and the girl attacks - it's a vampire. She gets a stake from Buffy and slays her. Spike continues pointing out the differences between himself and Angel.

They go to the house where they get a frosty greeting from Dawn and Giles. Spike explains some of the tension was due to Giles plotting to kill him. Faith finds this just increases her confusion. Cut to Caleb drinking what I assume is wine and wondering whether if you ordered white wine at the last supper Christ would have made it from his lymph. He says he's always looking for answers until he was shown the light. FE appears as Buffy and asks if he thinks she's God. He says he's beyond concepts like that. She asks what he thinks of the way she looks. He says she's another dirty girl and since she only dresses as the dead it must be one who has been paid her wages. She tells him to look harder and he says he sees strength and loneliness. He realizes this is the slayer. He talks about all the work he has done for FE: blowing up the council, organizing the bringers, killing the slayerettes. Now he sees the slayer for the first time. He is sure Buffy will get his message and come to him soon - that curiosity will betray her.

Andrew is telling the slayerettes about Faith in his usual dramatic way. He pretty much sticks to the facts except when he has her killing a Vulcan instead of a volcanologist. Amanda points out his mistake. The girls say he's not supposed to be making things up anymore and he says he's not, it was just a misunderstanding. He tells them the important thing to remember is that Faith is a killer. Cut to the school where Buffy enters Wood's office. She tells him she doesn't have time for his vendettas but she needs him on her side in this fight. He says he's ok with that, then fires her. He says the school is practically empty and she has to focus on the big picture, she has to prepare the slayerettes. She says she doesn't want to lead them into war. He tells her the mission is what matters.

Faith flees the chatter of the slayerettes in the basement where she sits on the steps and lights a cigarette. Spike is there in bed and he asks for one. She gives him one, saying he doesn't have to worry about cancer. He says it yellows your teeth and when you live forever you have to be careful about that. She sees the chains and he explains about being dangerous for a while. She explains that having been locked up with women for so long she's not eager to spend time with the slayerettes. Spike notes she didn't break out until Angel needed her. She says she stopped herself, that she was dangerous for a while and needed to be restrained. She starts talking about guys and their sexual fantasies. She goes and sits closer to him and says she's met him before when in Buffy's body. He remembers her sexually charged words to him at the time. She says he should have realized it wasn't Buffy, that she'd never do anything like that. He says things have changed. She's shocked. Buffy enters. She acts jealous, but relatively subtly. Spike asks why she's not at work and she says she cut back on her hours so she could focus on what's happening in the house. Dawn calls to her and says Willow phoned and the girl is awake.

The girl tells Buffy and Willow what happened. She shows them the scar on her neck and Willow takes a picture of it. She reveals Caleb said he had something of Buffy's. At the house, Buffy tells everyone she plans on attacking Caleb and she's taking them with her. At Caleb's, a young woman comes to him. She says she heard him preach. She's attracted to him. He says it's natural to be drawn to power. He kills her. It's FE recreating a moment from his past. She says she takes requests and he asks her to do a choir girl he killed in Knoxville. She says all these women followed him willingly. He says he just told them the truth and following is what they do best.

Buffy says they have to arm the girls. She intends to do some recon to find Caleb. Giles says the girls are untested and this could be a trap. Buffy says she'll take the most experienced girls and leave the others behind. Willow suggests that would leave those in the house at risk. She says Willow will have to stay to protect the girls. Xander says it's a trap and Buffy says he won't expect a head on attack so soon. Giles says they can't go into battle unprepared. Buffy says they don't have time and Giles will be staying behind.

Buffy and Faith are following a bringer. They realize it's too easy and likely a trap. Faith says it's tough training a bunch of little girls to be an army. Buffy asks why she came back and Faith said Willow said she needed her. She asks if she wants her to leave and Buffy says no, she appreciates her being there. She says she heard Faith helped Angel and Faith says yes and Angel said hi. Buffy asks how he is and Faith says better and tells her about the mindwalk. Buffy starts asking about this, but at that moment they find the hideout where all the bringers are going and head back to get the slayerettes.

Xander is talking to the slayerettes and explaining killing blows and the kinds of demons they may face. One girl says she just hopes it's not Godzilla, Andrew says Godzilla is Tokyo based. Amanda says Matthew Broderick can kill Godzilla and an upset Andrew appeals to Xander who says that wasn't the real Godzilla. Rona says the plan is crazy and she doesn't want to go fight Caleb and the bringers. Xander tells them about the battles he has fought at Buffy's side and how she has sacrificed herself for others time and again. Buffy and Faith enter unobserved as he's making this impassioned speech. He says Buffy cares about them and she deserves their trust. Faith says she never knew Buffy was so cool and Buffy says she was always a little slow. Faith says she gets it now. They head off to fight Caleb.

Buffy takes one team in and leaves another outside to guard the perimeter. They are attacked by bringers and fight them off. Caleb enters. He says they are burning like matches before the darkness. He says he will purify them. The gang, especially Buffy and Spike, stare at him. He confronts Buffy and says she must be strong. He punches her, sending her flying across the room and knocking her out. Spike attacks him and is easily repelled. Bringers attack. Rona gets her arm broken by Caleb. A bringer goes to kill her, but the others arrive and stop him. Xander runs to Buffy. Faith attacks Caleb, but he easily beats her. He kills one of the slayerettes. Buffy comes to and calls for a retreat. Caleb kills another slayerette. Buffy attacks him and knocks him down. They retreat, but Caleb grabs Xander. He says Xander is the one who sees everything and pokes out his left eye. Spike knocks Caleb down and he and Buffy grab Xander and flee.

There is a voiceover from Caleb telling a story as we see Buffy walking through the hospital where we see Rona and Xander. Willow is at Xander's side. Caleb says all women are dirty. At the house, the others are being treated for their wounds. Caleb is talking to FE as faux Buffy. He says if she shows up they will follow her because they followed Buffy. And he'll kill them all. We see Buffy walking alone through the dark streets.

Analysis

With Caleb, Buffy takes a turn into the almost normal. Because women hating serial killers who double as preachers are close to a norm in thriller/horror literature. Despite that almost mundane horror, the episode succeeded in delivering one of its scariest moment - the eye gouging. It also had the fantastic bedroom scene with Faith and Spike (which plays with dramatic stereotypes and gave the actors an incredible opportunity).

Way back in Potential, Xander characterized himself as the one who sees, the literal watcher - which may explain why in Restless he spoke of considering the career of watcher. Caleb refers to Xander directly as the one who sees everything. How does he know this unless FE has been closely monitoring the gang. And how has it done that. Does the gang have any secrets? Is there a traitor in the house? You have to wonder whether, given Caleb's antisex attitude, he might not have picked Xander because he had sex with Faith in The Zeppo. If that was a factor, then Caleb knows pretty well everything about the gang.

In addition to his speech, which emphasized eyes and may have been a bit of foreshadowing of the eye gouging, Xander's dream or fantasy also connects to Caleb. He is the only young, living, straight male in the house. In the fantasy, he seems himself as the sexual mentor for the young slayerettes. This gives Caleb another reason to attack Xander. Not only are the slayerettes potentially sexual (and hence dirty in his eyes) but Xander is actually activating that sexuality. By gouging out his eye, Caleb removes the visual distraction of the nubile slayerettes. Possibly, this is his real intent and it wasn't about Xander seeing things as he said in Potential, but about his observing the sexuality of the slayerettes.

The scene in the basement between Faith and Spike is amazing. Mostly because both actors seem so relaxed and so natural. These are people really comfortable in their roles and playing well developed and understood characters. They chat casually in a normal way, joking about the evils of smoking and flirting. Spike sees to the heart of her. He understands her redemption and comments on it. He notes that she accepted her punishment, even though she could always have escaped, and waited until she was needed by Angel (her redeemer) before breaking out. Faith echoes his comment about being dangerous for a while and in so doing implicitly notes the parallel in their lives. He asks if she's over it and that's when she talks about her sexual desires and takes off her jacket. The flirting becomes more intense. She lies next to him and explains about having met him before when she was in Buffy's body in Who Are You. He remembers her sexually charged conversation at that time. She thinks that separates her from Buffy, but he says she'd be surprised and the idea of a sexually active Buffy shocks her. While Faith doesn't know there has been something between Buffy and Spike, she's put herself in a position where she is taking Buffy's place. She's snuggled up to Spike and is close to offering him the kind of highly charged sex he had with the slayer. It doesn't happen because Buffy enters.

Buffy sees the two of them in bed smoking. Having a casual conversation. It's a moment that reeks of the post coital. In a lesser show, the characters would have had sex. But Whedon achieves the same thing just by having them talk and flirt. The tension is there, the understanding is there, the intimate sharing is there. And Buffy at least senses all of that. She has a brief moment of jealous behaviour, especially the comment about focusing on what is going on in the house. But when Dawn calls with news she leaves to do her duty.

Buffy says she doesn't want to lead the slayerettes into war and she doesn't think it's the right thing. I think this is a pointer to the path Buffy has to follow to defeat FE. She can't beat it by matching strength against strength. This is what she learnt in Get It Done. It's why she has intuitively realized she must save Spike and keep her with them. It's why she has struggled to redeem demons rather than kill them. FE has endless resources and enormous strength. It has made Caleb incredibly strong. Buffy tries a head on confrontation and that fails. She has to recognize that a different approach is needed. She needs to defeat FE spiritually, not physically. FE is noncorporeal and no physical defeat can vanquish it. Caleb suggests that FE, posing as Buffy, will lead the slayerettes to their death in battle. That by preparing them for battle, Buffy has actually sealed their doom.

The episode where Faith first turned to evil was called Bad Girls (interestingly, it was the episode just after The Zeppo). This episode, which reintroduces Faith as good is called Dirty Girls. Of course, that's a reference to Caleb referring to women as dirty, but it's also surely a reminder of that earlier episode and a link to Faith's fall into sin. She is dirty in that she is a sinner. And now she has a chance to cleanse herself of sin by fighting against evil with Buffy. Caleb argues that women are born dirty, without souls. He sees them as gaping maws sucking men to damnation. Essentially, he demonizes them. It's no surprise that young, highly sexual women like Faith and Buffy are high on his list of evil. And Bad Girls emphasized that sexuality and the connection between slaying and sex.

Some quick final thoughts. Caleb says he doesn't believe in coincidences. Of course, he's having a little fun here since his driving by was part of his plan. The statement about dead dirty girls being paid their wages is obviously a reference to the 'wages of sin is death' line from the Bible - Romans 6:23. I don't know whether Caleb has something of Buffy's or not, but saying he did achieved his goal. It's interesting that Spike, who has suffered more abuse at the hands of Xander than anyone, is the one who saves Xander from Caleb. Nathan Fillion lately from Firefly appears as Caleb in Buffy and Gina Torres also lately from Firefly appears as Jasmine on Angel. While I applaud Whedon's loyalty to actors he's worked with on other shows, I've got to say I find it a little difficult to suspend disbelief, to get into the story, when I see an actor I've seen so recently in another role. The role of Jasmine is different enough from anything I've seen Torres do that I didn't see that as a huge problem. But Fillion even seems to talk the same way in Buffy as he did in Firefly and I found that annoying.

Lines of the week:

"Let's not give him credit for everything." - Caleb on God.

"Satan is a little man." - Caleb revealing he's allied with really big evil.

"I'm nothing like Angel." - Spike focusing on the little things.

"Angel's dull as a table lamp. We have very different colouring." - Spike still focusing on the little things.

"Well, that makes me feel better about me, worse about Giles, kind of shaky about you." - Faith on learning Giles tried to kill Spike.

"Organizing the Ray Charles brigade." - Caleb with an interesting description of the bringers.

"She wrapped evil around her like a large evil Mexican serape." - Andrew demonstrating he doesn't really have a way with words.

"I don't want to lead them into war. It can't be the right thing." - Buffy getting to the heart of it.

"The mission's what matters." - Wood maybe having learnt his lesson.

"I got dangerous for a while." - Faith recognizing that she and Spike are alike.

"Everything's got eyes." - Xander with what may be some unhappy foreshadowing.

"This girl has died two times and she's still standing." - Xander with a good reason to back Buffy.

"I never knew you were that cool." - Faith capping it off.

"Like Falcon Crest." - Spike on evil vineyards revealing vampires watch way too much tv.

"Good folk, bad folk, clean folk, dirty folk." - Caleb with his simple cosmology.

"You're the one who sees everything, aren't you." - Caleb with the scariest line of the episode.

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