[Review by Mike Marinaro]
[Writer: David Greenwalt | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 10/13/1998]
This is a great start to the S3 arc. Like the title says, the three new characters introduced in this episode are Faith, Scott Hope, and Mr. Trick. I like what all of these characters bring to the show and am happy with all three. I’ve got a couple really big complaints though. The first is how lame the vampire Kakistos is, and the second is the fact that Angel, somewhat randomly, returns from hell.
Early in the episode Buffy has a nightmare where Angel seems very angry with her for sending him to hell. This is very much in character for her and reminds me of the forgiveness problems she had in “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19] . She’s still having problems getting over what she did to Angel, and it shows. This is why Giles, in a very slick way, makes up the need for a binding spell in order to get more information out of Buffy on what happened that day, after Xander took him out of the mansion. Buffy skipped town for several months without telling anyone which pretty much clues in Giles to the fact that something much more traumatic than just “sending Angelus to hell” happened.
It’s cute seeing Willow trying to help Buffy get back in date mode, but it just goes to show that she obviously doesn’t have any idea what Buffy is feeling right now. This season, and beyond, the relationship between Buffy and Willow begins to change. They are not nearly as close this year as they were last year. While at the end of “Dead Man’s Party” [3×02] it appears everything’s back to normal, it turns out everything’s far from normal in terms of their relationship. This really becomes a problem in S4 and never fully fixes itself by S5. This slowly building separation is why they don’t see each others’ big problems in S6. This is amazingly well thought out and smart character development which is completely unique to the television landscape.
From the moment we meet Faith in the alley I liked her more than Kendra. While I admitted I liked what Kendra brought out in Buffy, she just never really interested me as a character. Faith on the other hand is a completely different story. She’s complicated, conflicted, and interesting right away. She’s also the anti-Kendra. Kendra made us feel like Buffy was an irresponsible Slayer. Faith brings up the point that Buffy needs to find the fun in slaying, which is saying that Faith thinks Buffy is too responisble. All of this just goes to show how well balanced Buffy really is, which is probably why she’s still alive right now. It’s also interesting that Faith and Buffy are verbally sparring with each other during their first patrol together. Boy this this hint at things to come.
The whole fighting makes Slayers “hungry and horny” comment from Faith turns out to have a lot of truth behind it. Although we don’t get an admission from Buffy here, it is proven that she does have that urge in future seasons. I believe the first time this is really brought to light is in “The I in Team” [4×13] , when Buffy and Riley have sex after capturing the spear demon. I must admit that I laughed when, after Faith made the comment, the whole gang turned to look at Buffy. Also an amusing reference to S4 is when Joyce says about Faith, “I like this girl.” I was laughing when comparing her comment to what happens in “This Year’s Girl” [4×15] : Faith is threatening to kill Joyce with a knife in her bedroom.
I really thought the scene where Buffy “lets go” of Angel by leaving the ring in the mansion and says good bye was well done. That should have ended the Buffy and Angel relationship issues for good. I sure hope the only reason Angel came back was to prepare him for his own show, because I would have much rather had him stay gone. I can’t help but feel Angel’s return here cheapens his ‘death’ in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] , and that’s not a good thing.
Kakistos was unfortunately a poorly written, not to mention boring, villain. He comes into town carrying history with Faith, yet all we get is a one dimensional and surprisingly weak vampire. Faith completely shutting down just at the sight of him doesn’t rub off well on me either; I just don’t buy it. At least he was killed off quickly though. I liked the suave high-tech nature of Mr. Trick a lot more and was pleased to see him ditch his ‘boss’ for better things. On the whole, this is a really good episode.
Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)
+ Willow braving the notion of being able to go off campus for lunch as a senior. Love the ‘uncoupling’ for Buffy.
+ Buffy and Joyce making fun of Principal Snyder.
+ Xander loving Faith’s Slayer stories.
+ Joyce finally finding out Buffy technically died a year and a half before.
+ Scott giving Buffy the same friendship ring, as a present, that Angel gave to her.
* Giles once again expresses concern about Willow’s knowledge of black magic. He continues to warn yet Willow continues to dabble. This slowly grows into her magic addiction in S6.
* “Hungry and horny” comes up in a subtle way multiple times in the series. Buffy denies the horny part here but confirms she has it in “The I in Team” [4×13] .
* Xander seems to be completely infatuated with Faith in this episode. This creates a bit of a spark between them which is fully realized during “The Zeppo” [3×13] .