Angel 1×18: Five by Five

[Review by Ryan Bovay]

[Writer: Jim Kouf | Director: James A. Contner | Aired: 04/25/2000]

“Five by Five” is a spectacular piece of work; an action oriented episode with smart, nuanced character developments swimming just under the surface enough to shock you with their outcomes. This episode, short of a long-term impact, provides everything you could ever want from a show like this. Mix in a few key Sunnydale alum with interesting and twisted histories, as well as a fast-paced and very pointed plot that takes us deep into Faith’s character, and we’re left with a fully satisfying bit of work. It’s very nearly on the level of its other half (“Sanctuary” [1×19] ).

It is, however, in the strictest sense, a crossover episode, carrying another set of elements from parent show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” onto this one. You don’t need to have seen Faith’s two-part stay on Buffy in “This Year’s Girl” and “Who Are You?” (although you’re missing some big fun if you didn’t) to enjoy this crossover, but for a better understanding of Faith and her actions here, it is essential. And what this episode is all about is her actions, and how those two “Buffy” episodes changed her dramatically.

Nearly a year after being put in a coma from her battle with Buffy in “Graduation Day, Part I” , Faith woke up in Sunnydale (“This Year’s Girl”) to find that the Mayor’s plan to ascend to a pure demon had been thwarted by Buffy. However, the keepsake he left her, the ability to switch bodies with the person of her choice (and therefore, most likely Buffy) was the plot gimmick for “Who Are You?” And while it’s a plot gimmick that’s usually used for cheap and irrelevant comedy, something truly was learned.

Faith’s greatest peeve, or more accurately, greatest psychotic hatred, had always been being compared to Buffy and looked down on for not being able to meet the standards of Sunnydale slayer. She believed herself above man’s law because of her life as a Slayer (not too different from Buffy really – by the later seasons of the show Buffy develops a massive superiority complex), and when offered acceptance and a unique purpose by the Mayor, was quick to amorally embrace every duty he imposed upon her in exchange for a home, and a family; one that cared for her, as Wilkins truly did. It was the ideal match for Faith: A being of evil, no matter how loving, would not criticize or hold her lower in standing than others who possessed proper moral compasses, which is the biggest part of why she felt loved. It was also an important piece of her tragedy, as she was unable to differentiate criticism, concern and care held for her by people like Buffy and Joyce with the blunt, harsh chastisement of Wesley and the Council.

In the end, the only thing that held clarity or happiness for her was approval, and in light of her actions and irresponsibility, the only source of approval could come from evil. At the time of “Who Are You?” she was still very much of the opinion that she and Buffy were both handed certain lives unchangeable by fate; no other option was possible, least of all her being responsible for where her life had gone. But, much like your staple TV show, a lesson was learned in the body-switch episode. Much unlike a staple show, it actually mattered.

Faith, living in Buffy’s body, discovered why Buffy had everything she had. It was not because she was Buffy Summers, handed a destiny and friends and a life, but because she was Buffy Summers. Her actions, responsibilities and her courage to fulfill and uphold them was why she had her world, her Scooby gang, loyal boyfriend, approving Watcher and overall great life. It was in this revelation that Faith recognized that like Buffy, her life was the result of her actions, leading to the amazing scene where Faith, in Buffy’s body, beats up Buffy in Faith’s body, looking at herself and screaming at her: “You’re nothing! Disgusting! Murderous bitch!” This was, for her, what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity. And it is with this clarity, and a will to die, that Faith comes to L.A. and Angel’s world.

We open on Angel and Wesley saving a young man named Marquez from a group of demons. The details are sketchy, but we learn that he’s involved in some kind of case against a wealthy client of Wolfram and Hart – the sole and most damning witness the prosecution has to offer, but he is refusing to testify. The purpose of this small plot is to comment on the essence of the human soul; the desire to, deep down, do what is right as is inherent in our nature. This is the set up where the writers tell us that yes – even Faith can be redeemed.

In the wake of her stay in Sunnydale, Faith arrives in L.A., and to understand her death wish is simply to look at her actions. Your first watch through, you may just think she’s just being ‘true to herself,’ which wouldn’t be too far off, but her brutality and over-the-top style goes beyond the norm here. To go down the list, she: Beats a man up way beyond how she needs to, taking his keys and taking up shelter in his house, which is an easy way to be tracked. She parties at a club, deliberately incensing people so they will start fights, takes a more violent-than-usual approach with Lilah, beats Lee to a bloody pulp over the slightest comment, shows up right in Angel’s face in broad daylight, breaks into Cordelia’s apartment, and most shockingly, actually ties up and tortures Wesley.

Once again, none of this seems out of the realm of possibly when considering Faith’s character, but what makes it stick out is her deliberate focus on acting this way; ways to get attention. Ways to get caught. Even before she becomes interested in Angel, she’s going for overkill. The explanation for which may be unclear throughout the episode, but in retrospect of the heartbreaking and amazing final scene, makes perfect sense. Her experience as Buffy in Sunnydale forced her to realize that she is the sum of her actions, but at the same time she is still who she is. She herself said in S3 of BtVS that she was never much for apologies, and so in her mind she believes she is ‘wrong’ and needs to be punished; indeed, she wants to die. But just ‘fessing up is not in her character at all at this point.

Another important point to note about her behaviour is when she speaks to Wesley about destiny (see quotes below), and it suggests that, beyond simply believing she needs punishment (and therefore believes in her own responsibility), she is beginning to develop a moral compass. In S3 of BtVS, her philosophy was strictly ‘survival of the fittest’ where right and wrong did not enter into things as much as strength and superiority. Now she’s talking about destiny openly, calling herself and others pieces in a game and making an excuse. But if you’re in the right, what’s to excuse? Or, to pose a first person question: “Are you trying to convince me? Or yourself?” Despite the progress still to be made she now acknowledges the wrongs of her actions, even if she can’t admit it yet.

Someone who can admit to their mistakes, however, is Wesley. It was harsh to see Angel actually play the ‘boss’ card on him, but the effect was undeniable. AtS itself has always been a show about redemption, and its main cast always has had something to atone for. Doyle joined with Angel at the behest of the powers, hoping to make up for his failure to save his own half-demon kind from genocide. Though not as conscious, Cordelia, with Angel, seeks to become a better person and make up for her years as a ditzy and cruel bitch. Wesley, when joining up with Angel Investigations in “Parting Gifts” [1×10] was a man seeking to prove himself not smart or brave (two things he’s always been), but competent.

And a big part of what made him feel like a failure, feel inadequate, was his failure with Faith. Not only could he not help her, he drove her further away and as Angel suggests, he may be the greatest x-factor behind her fall into darkness. Just as he believes in Marquez and any owner of a soul, he believes in Faith and her capacity for good, is quick to admit his own failure and wants clearly to help. Even after being tortured by her – seemingly endlessly – his belief in the capacity of the soul leads him to spare her when she is crying in the alley; take what you will of the visual parallel to Wes’ drop of the knife to Faith’s drop of the glass shard.

Between this episode and “Sanctuary” [1×19], when he refuses to help the Watcher’s council because of his belief in the good of Angel, Wesley himself has a lot of development and paves a very significant strip of his own road to redemption: his competence, and self-respect.

One last thing I’d like to discuss are the flashback sequences with Angelus/Angel and Darla, as it seems the writers just love to make his past a perfect parallel to the story of the week. Hey, it’s been done well so far, so I don’t mind at all. Much like the revelations about Faith’s actions, the true purpose of it all doesn’t really become clear until the end. What I took away from it was a simple and effective connection: Both Liam and Faith were overall decent people driven to extreme circumstances. Both of them had natural families that cared for them, but could express it only through concern and fear (Buffy in her scolding of Faith in BtVS “Consequences” and Angel’s puritan father in “The Prodigal” [1×15] ).

This lack of approval – this failure of communication – drove them away and allowed them both to slip willingly into the hands of more approving and more evil parents (Mayor Wilkins and Darla). But after Angel’s soul was restored, he too was a being with a certain capacity and the intent to do right in the end; he came to a point of revelation, as Faith did in “Who Are You?” Both the recently-ensouled Angel and Faith took to a purposeful embrace of their inner-monsters as a last resort to bring their suffering to an end. But in the end, neither of them could kill their intended, and the path to the end of both monsters was started.

It’s not as amazing or shocking as some other episodes this season, but “Five by Five” still stands out in a season full of stand-outs. It’s only a hair’s length inferior compared to “Sanctuary” [1×19], and as a whole, I even enjoyed it a little more. Eliza Dushku did a great job here, as she does in the second part of this L.A. tryst for her character. Oh, and it was nice to see Wolfram and Hart really act against Angel for the first time. Even if the Senior Partners still have their long-term plans up their sleeve, and Lindsey was simply acting independently, I’m still pleased that something was done. It’s taken too damn long.

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Faith’s club outfit.
+ Lee Mercer and Lilah Morgan’s second appearances.
+ Angel and Lindsey’s ‘showdown.’ David Boreanaz and Christian Kane have great screen chemistry.
+ Wesley standing up to Faith.
+ The slow shot of Faith dropping the glass shard, and later, Wesley dropping the knife.
+ The fantastic and appropriately brutal fight scene.
+ Faith’s breakdown. This one of my favourite moments in the entire series.




27 thoughts on “Angel 1×18: Five by Five”

  1. [Note: Tranquillity posted this comment on March 10, 2007.]

    Love any episode in Angel that has Faith. She fits so well into Angel’s world (shame she had to go to prison and pay for those pesky crimes, she would have made a great sometime addition to the Angel team)


  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on February 7, 2008.]

    I´m crazy about anything relating Faith and this episode and the next are just amazing. Oh, and I just love Lilah. She is a great character. Lindsey and Lilah make a very good team.


  3. [Note: Arouet posted this comment on June 16, 2009.]

    The best ten scenes of Angel (in nor particular order):

    Faith breaking down in Angel’s arms (This episode)
    The entire elevator scene in Reprise
    “If nothing we do matters, than all that matters is what we do” (Epiphany)
    Darla sacrificing herself and Holtz lowering the crossbow, allowing Angel and Connor to escape (Lullaby)
    Darla rejecting Angel during the Boxer Rebellion juxtaposed with Angel “rejecting” Darla in the present day (Darla)
    Angelus murdering his family and then speaking with Darla (The Prodigal)
    Angel trying to kill Wesley on his hospital bed (Forgiving)
    Wesley and Illyria discussing how small human lives are on the roof of his apartment (Underneath)
    Spike vs. Puppet Angel (Smile Time)
    “I’m sorry, but I just can’t seem to care” (Reunion)


  4. [Note: Rowan posted this comment on July 17, 2009.]

    When Wesley dropped the knife, I always thought it was out of shock at seeing Angel embracing Faith. It would have felt like a betrayal to see the woman who’d just a few moments ago been torturing him being comforted by his friend/boss. The next episode showed clearly what he thought of Faith, and that it was his belief in Angel that prevented him from working with the Watcher’s Council’s agents.


  5. [Note: wytchcroft posted this comment on August 4, 2009.]

    This gets a 100 from me.
    Well written dialogue and fantatic direction – the dance scene all psycho-frenetic and the slower smaller domestic day time scenes equally well conveyed.

    All the seperate elements work together, there are some nce parallels between the “You’re disgusting” conversation of Darla and Angel and the climax of Buff v Buffy over on BTVS. The gentle ret-con of the depth of Wesley and Faith’s relationship works well and serves to help Wesley’s awesome development in this ep. And best performance from Denisoff yet.
    Love the mention of Giles in the chair when it was Angel that did that to him.

    Love how the fight is nothing like the one in BTVS 3. And every Wolfram and Heart scene is a joy – especially that Lilah and Lindsey are actually brave (since they are shown to feel fear of both Faith and Angel) in their cause. And gotta smile about how easy it is to get into W&H, something Angel himself will complain about in S5.
    And Eliza – not one miss-step or wrong note, a great performance.

    And phantom Dennis trying to protect Cordy – see, every tiny thing here is bang on.


  6. [Note: Miscellaneopolan posted this comment on November 21, 2009.]

    Gotta agree with Rowan: I always chalked Wesley’s dropping of the knife up to his shock at seeing Faith in Angel’s arms. Considering his attitude in the next episode, I believe that he fully intended to kill or at least fight Faith in that alley, but by the time he got there the game had changed.

    Is it just me or do many of the show’s most memorable scenes happen in rain-drenched alleys? There’s Faith’s break-down here, Connor’s birth in Lullaby, and finally the gang’s last stand in Not Fade Away. Clearly, it’s a symbol the writers keep coming back to. I think the rain works beautifully here, symbolically washing away all of the pain and loathing Faith had been wallowing in the whole episode through. Wonderful, evocative stuff.

    I agree that Faith fit very snugly into Angel’s world. Had the show not existed, I have a hard time believing that Faith’s story could have been developed on Buffy as convincingly as it was here on Angel. BtvS took the story to a point, but the things Faith was going through here (suicidal urges, intense self-loathing), were just too dark for Buffy, at least for Buffy’s comparatively happy-go-lucky Fourth Season. Thank God Faith could let off some steam with Angel’s merry band of screw-ups and murderers, where I think she fit in much better. Viva Faith.


  7. [Note: Seán posted this comment on September 18, 2010.]

    Wow! I’m currently in the process of watching Buffy and Angel for the first time (currently on S4E20 of Buffy and this ep of Angel) and I have to say Eliza Dushku is the star of the show! Loved Faith’s arc in S3 of Buffy and I think she did an admirable job there. But ever since she woke up from her coma, I’m really really into Faith’s character. She’s fascinating and hell Faith is HOT despite being a psycho bitch! The character works amazingly on the more grittier Angel and I found her really chilling when she was torturing Wesley like that!

    Reading your comments, I’m disappointed that it looks like Faith’s role on the show will continue to be small and that her arc this year will be confined to two S4 episodes of Buffy and two S1 episodes of Angel. Without giving away spoilers, can you tell me if Faith is back on either show and what seasons? Gonna watch the next episode now!!! This deserves a Perfect Score in my opinion because this is the first time I’ve wanted to move onto the next episode of Angel. (I am enjoying the show it just hasn’t had the addictive quality Buffy has had up until now).


  8. [Note: JMK posted this comment on September 22, 2010.]

    Without a doubt the ending scene was one of the best moments in the series. It really spoke volumes about the theme of redemption and how those who cause pain are in tremendous amounts of pain themselves. I also liked how this episode showed how truly competent and brave , Wesley can be. Overall, I just loved this episode and the second part. If possible I woulda loved to see Faith as a member of Angel Investigations. =).


  9. [Note: solo posted this comment on December 12, 2010.]

    Loved this episode but I do have one nitpick. And really since this episode is all about character development/arc, it really is a petty nitpick: How did Angel break into the apartment to save Wesley? The dude that was mugged wasn’t dead and according to BtVS Season 5X2, people who don’t live there can’t invite people. Not that Faith did that I could see.


  10. [Note: Dimitri posted this comment on December 24, 2010.]

    Seán, Faith will appear in 2 or 3 Angel S4 episodes and she’s in five Buffy S7 episodes. Her character gets even better! ^^


  11. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on January 12, 2011.]

    solo: Perhaps if a person is out of their place for several days the magic vamp stopper wears off or maybe he’s in a coma. Remember ‘Firefly – Objects In Space’ when the bounty hunter asks if the room is still someones if they’re not in there.


    -Angel straight away shooting at Faith and her response.

    -I loved the absolute brutal smash and crash scene with Angel and Faith.


    -It took Faith half a dozen hits to knock the guy out. She is a Slayer.

    -The nightclub puch-up scene was a bit poorly done for me.

    -The cops never checked the beaten guys apartment even though his keys were stolen.

    Good episode, however, I wouldn’t rate it that high. High 80s.


  12. [Note: FanDeborah posted this comment on May 17, 2011.]

    solo: I think that Faith having moved in, and her kidnapping and torturing of Wesley constitued an invitation, though not a verbal one. (if verbal were required, how would vampires ever get into the house of a family of mutes?)

    nathan.taurus: I think Faith was just venting, enjoying herself. Rather than using her skills, she was letting go and having fun, not making it end too soon. She might also have been practicing for that same relaxation of skill that would have allowed Angel to be able to kill her, otherwise impossible (she **was** still a slayer.)

    Rowan, Miscellaneopolan and the Reviewer: I see a mix of things in Wesley’s dropping the knife. Shock, but purely physical shock: he had held up against it through serious torture, but was able to give in to it now; running out of adrenaline. Exhaustion taking over, if not quite relaxation; and mentally tired, probably incomprehension, with the addendum of, “and I don’t have to understand. It’s over.” He didn’t have any emotional energy left to forgive OR be angry, or even to feel relief.

    To the reviewer: Amazing work. I cannot express how much I loved the level of your insight and the quality of your writing. Quite profound. I will refer friends with childhood issues here, and those who love them. Unconditional love does not require accepting evil, and criticism can be done with caring, or alienation. My thanks for that.

    I worked hard to add this to your quotes. It’s what Cordelia said about the witness.

    “Wesley, you don’t change a guy like that. In fact, generally speaking, you don’t change a guy. What you see is what you get. Scratch the surface and what do you find? more surface.”

    (While rarely actually true, it is also true that when pushed, people often retreat even further into their defenses. Like leaning on a one-way door, the only way to let something in is to stop pushing.)

    Possibly my favorite episode pair (with the next one), despite the fact that my beloved Spike wasn’t in it. (His understanding of Buffy’s digging herself out of her own grave echoes of Angel’s empathy with Faith’s pain and guilt.)


  13. [Note: Tim posted this comment on May 5, 2012.]

    The torture of Wesley was the first scene I ever saw from the Buffy-verse, a few years before I ever started watching the shows. I was flipping through channels and found it, and I remember being absolutely fascinated but completely confused, so I moved on at commercial break and didn’t think back until I started watching the shows. That scene remains one a personal favorite.


  14. [Note: Dave posted this comment on November 8, 2012.]

    How could you possibly not put Faith taking the guy’s jacket as a plus?! C’mon, it’s so Spike. Putting on the persona. Still, this is a fantastic episode and fantastic review.


  15. [Note: David posted this comment on May 10, 2013.]

    How did angel manage to get into the ” guy who faith hospitalized” into his apartment because he was still alive did angel go to hospital just to ask him randomly please can I get into your apartment ?


  16. [Note: EdwardH posted this comment on January 20, 2014.]

    I find it a bit harsh to say that Buffy has a “massive superiority complex” in later Buffy episodes. But even if that characterization is close to the truth, Buffy is superior to others. Dying twice and coming close numerous other times to save the world is not something most people would be willing to do.


  17. [Note: ML posted this comment on January 21, 2014.]

    Actually, every single character who fights supernatural is kind of willing to die to save the world, even if they dont actually die. Sure, Buffy has very good qualities, but that doesn’t justify her behavior, especially during season 7: she treats everyone as inferior and is not willing to hear other opinions. I found it a bit ironic, considering she wasn’t the one who saved the world in the season before.


  18. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on January 21, 2014.]

    She treats everyone as inferior – well, ‘Empty Places’ pretty much proves that they are, does it not?


  19. [Note: EdwardH posted this comment on January 24, 2014.]

    Buffy remains true to her friends even when they berate her and show no empathy to her struggles (something that can’t always be said for her friends). If Buffy could have gotten to Willow in time I have no doubt she’d have died to save not only the world, but her friends. Her actions in season 7 were, once again, brought on by a friend, Giles, dumping a huge responsibility on her and then basically abandoning her to her own devices. Giles as the watcher should have shouldered much more responsibility for the potentials as that is basically the very work of a watcher. Expecting an already overburdened 20-something year old woman to train and run an army is highly unrealistic. Dumping the potentials not only means more work for Buffy (who probably doesn’t even have time to sleep with all her other responsibilities) but more money and space lost to people she doesn’t even know.


  20. [Note: ML posted this comment on February 3, 2014.]

    No, it doesn’t. First of all, “Empty places” betrays Xander and Willow’s personality, so I really don’t like that example. Also, no one is superior the other: she does the right thing the most times, but so do a lot of them. She was willing to sacrifice herself – so was Dawn (“The Gift”) and so would most of them – just because they don’t get a chance to, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t. Want another example? Willow says in the beginning of season 7 she thought Giles brought her there to be killed, yet she went anyway. Other characters do make mistakes (a lot of them), but they do pay a big price for them.
    But continuing with “Empty Places”, during season 7, I hated Buffy’s attitude towards many things and the fact that there were no consequences because of her bad decisions makes fans believe she did the right thing – to me, it just means stepping all over again the Mary Sue-line. For example, her attitude towards Spike and everyone else, which includes her saying the bitchy thing that he is the only one who has her back. I get that season 7 is in part about Spike’s redemption (and actually a bit too much as even though interesting, I think it steals way too much time from other character development), but the characters aren’t supposed to know that. I’ve seen maaaany people who aren’t willing to give someone a chance for minor things, so it is understandable that not everyone is so willing to put as much faith in Spike as Buffy does. She may not like Giles’s attitude when he tries to get Spike killed, but to not even understand where he’s coming from to the point of saying such a bitchy thing? Of course, in the end, Spike does play a major role in defeating the First, so… surprise… she was right all along – except she wasn’t! She really didn’t try to stop the trigger and had the First been actually smart and triggered him to kill Willow – that would be it for them. Fortunately for Buffy and the Scooby gang, by that time, the First had already forgotten Willow could be a problem – again: I think that’s just bad writing. This been said, they were right to give Spike his redemption story and him to have such a major role, but to let Buffy completely disregard the fact that while he had the trigger he was a danger? To me, that attitude should have had consequences – it’s a huge leap of faith. And speaking of Faith: I hated the way Buffy treated her during part of season 7. It’s been years and Faith did pay her price – I’m not saying that I don’t understand her, but in such crucial time, she should have appreciated her coming to help a bit more (not entirely sure if I shouldn’t cut the word “more”).
    What basically Buffy did in season 7 is to think only her opinion matters and is mean to the group who has supported her for 7 years and over appreciates Spike, and the writers did exactly the same – they concentrated so much on Spike’s redemption that in order to show that she made the right choice in trusting him because now he’s the one who’s got her back, they made other characters throw their personality and life experience away in “Empty Places” – Willow, Xander and Dawn were out of character and even Giles was, I’ve seen him be petty, but I don’t think he’d be on such a serious time. I would try to analyze the situation in spite of that, but I just seriously cannot believe that would happen, if they were real. About the potentials: they had every right to not like Buffy and disagree with her methods. They don’t understand Buffy experience has the slayer because they were not there with her through the years – they don’t know how good and capable she is – and they had great losses: it’s the first time they are dealing with the supernatural and they have already seen many die and they haven’t even been called as slayers yet. It’s understandable they had no faith in Buffy and were completely hopeless – they had been hopeless for quite a while. Expelling her from her own home wasn’t pretty, but Buffy did say she could not watch them being led by Faith – so, they had 2 options: 1) either Buffy leaves 2) everyone else does. The first makes more sense.
    To EdwardH: yeah, I don’t really get why Giles is so absent during S7, but still, the burden would always have to fall on Buffy, as she no longer had the same relationship with Giles that she had 2 seasons before. She started to stand up for herself without Giles during s6, it made no sense going back on that – so basically, again, he’s absent for convenience to the show.
    Buffy is my favorite character on “Buffy” (and Wesley is my favorite on “Angel”, since Doyle died, but I’ve only watched season 1, for now), but she does have flaws (which is good, otherwise she wouldn’t really be human and would be hard to relate to), and her superiority complex is one of them and I think one of the major problems of season 7 is not really dealing with that properly as it has no real consequences for her and it should.
    And if I come across as anti-Buffy (which I am not), it’s really just because I do tend to over-analyze everything and try to understand the perspective of each character and see their virtues and flaws and accept them instead of making excuses for them. Part of what allows characters to grow is the consequence of mistakes, so I really don’t see the point of making excuses for them. And I know s7 was the last of Buffy on the TV series, but she was still 22 or 23 – she still has a lot to go through and grow.


  21. [Note: Jo posted this comment on July 13, 2014.]

    This is a very short response, but I agree with you. I found season 7 Buffy a lot less sympathetic a character. To the extent that I thought I disliked the whole character until I started re-watching last week. I’m currently in season 3 and she’s much more likeable. I have always liked Anya’s lines in Empty Places. In particular the ‘and it’s automatically you’ to Buffy when talking about someone needing to make decisions. Faith’s line too is very telling, ‘I don’t know if I can lead. The real question is, can you follow?’ (These quotes won’t be 100% accurate, but hopefully you know which ones I mean).

    For me, the other example of Buffy being unwilling to listen to others was when they realised that Anya was a vengeance demon again. Her unwillingness to listen to the others in that situation just seemed a little hypocritical to me after all the Angel/Angelus stuff.

    Finally, Buffy’s ‘I’m the Slayer, I have to make the decisions alone’ attitude of the later seasons is the main issue I have with her as a character. It really bugs me. Either start listening when people try to help you or stop complaining about how you hate having to make these decisions alone.

    Hmmm, not as short as I thought 😛


  22. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on July 13, 2014.]

    I disagree completely.

    The problem is not that Buffy doesn’t listen to others. We see time and again that she does. She listened to what Xander had to say when they realised that Anya was killing people again, and she did the same for Giles over Spike. The problem is that when she went ahead and made her decisions – both of which were unquestionably correct – instead of having her back like they should have, they went behind her back. Xander potentially endangered Buffy’s life by warning Anya that she was coming, and then hindering her during the fight – all because he selfishly wanted to keep Anya alive, even at the cost of dozens of innocent lives. And Giles plotted to kill Spike without ever considering that Buffy might have been right about him.

    We see it again in “Empty Places”. Buffy was right to decide that they needed to go back to the vineyard – Caleb was an enemy who needed to be defeated, and the odds were high that he was guarding something important. She said that she was open to advice and suggestions about how they should plan to do it, but instead all she got was doubts and betrayal (the real sore point for me was that nobody suggested looking for evidence that there was something at the vineyard as a compromise).

    The hypocrisy of the gang is evident in what they do afterwards: they ostensibly kicked Buffy out for being a dictator and forcing bad plans on them, but once she’s gone they set up a new, lesser dictator in her place, who comes up with even worse plans.

    A quote from Winston Churchill about the nature of leadership comes to mind here:

    “The loyalties which center upon number one are enormous. If he trips, he must be sustained. If he make mistakes, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be pole-axed.”

    The problem with the gang is that they all jumped straight to the pole-axing part, without first giving her the consideration she deserved. It’s true that she was guilty of cutting them off emotionally at times, but they failed her just as badly as she failed them. And their inability to remember how often her instincts and direction saved them in the past really grates.

    Also, it has to be said that Anya’s lines in “Empty Places” were just terrible. Even setting aside how rich it is for her of all people to assume the high ground about responsibility for other peoples’ lives, what she says is not only wrong but disgustingly petty in taking Buffy to task for being ‘privileged’ as the Slayer.


  23. [Note: ML posted this comment on August 2, 2014.]

    “The problem is not that Buffy doesn’t listen to others. We see time and again that she does. She listened to what Xander had to say when they realized that Anya was killing people again, and she did the same for Giles over Spike. The problem is that when she went ahead and made her decisions – both of which were unquestionably correct – instead of having her back like they should have, they went behind her back.” – They are very questionable and certainly not correct ones. Well the one about Spike isn’t, anyway. Giles tried to find ways to fix Spike, whether they would be successful or not, it’s another story, but, at least, he tried. At the first sign of pain, Buffy didn’t allow him to go on. The only reason why they didn’t lose the war was because, fortunately for them (and insulting to my intelligence) The First becomes uberdumb as the season progresses. Seriously, out of all the people he could have made Spike attack, he goes for the potentials (and, even worse, Andrew). Why not Willow? If Spike had attacked Willow, there was a chance that she would lose control and kill Spike instead. Both Spike and Willow were major keys in the final war and considering that they were both stronger than the potentials even at that point, they would be the target before the potentials (and Andrew).
    So no, Buffy was not right; I mean she was, because of bad writing – like I said stepping the Mary Sue line (I am not forgiving of that mistake, especially not in a show since it should know better than that).
    Anya’s not totally right, but she’s not totally wrong either. While being a slayer was a burden, the rest of the gang chose the same fate: fighting evil which also came with costs for all of them. And it’s not believable at all that at the first irreparable physical injury in 7 years, they would all turn their backs on Buffy. It was the way the writers found to say “See, Buffy was right all along when she put her trust on Spike”, which is offensive, actually. For years and years, they’ve been fighting side by side with her, and suddenly, they’re trash because the writers and in love with Buffy and Spike. It’s like I’ve said before “This been said, they were right to give Spike his redemption story and him to have such a major role, but to let Buffy completely disregard the fact that while he had the trigger he was a danger?”
    She does disregard he’s a danger and she does nothing to stop him. At least, Giles does try. He does not have to stand by her if she’s making poor decisions, and he’s not supposed to suddenly put his entire faith in Spike just because he has a soul, especially when The First is using that for his own advantage. (Seriously, read my comment to which Jo responded, because I don’t want to be repetitive). So tell me, if you were one of the characters except for Buffy or Spike and saw her put so much faith in Spike without even trying to fix him, would you see her actions as correct? If you didn’t know what would happen next, that she would be expelled and Spike would stand by her and that Spike would be a major key would you see her actions as undoubtedly correct? Do you really believe her lack of trying to fix him is even remotely correct?
    The writers then betray Willow’s, Xander’s, Dawn’s and Giles’s personality, by having them turn on Buffy because Xander lost an eye in 7 years of fighting. Even worse, they turn to Faith, someone who would have gladly caused them to lose a lot more not that long ago. I don’t feel offended by this destruction of characters at all! Of course, like I’ve said, this only happened so they could say “See, Buffy was right all along when she put her trust on Spike”, so basically, to them, he became more important than Willow, Xander, Dawn and Giles and they have to show it. They could have liked him more, but they really shouldn’t have shown it, not at the expense of the other main characters. Really poor writing!
    And it gets even worse, at some point, after Faith’s fiasco, they put Amanda repeating over and over “I think we’re being punished… [for what we did to Buffy]”. At that point, I really wished I could bitch-slap the writers. Also, at 22 or 23, Buffy is in no way supposed to have all the answers and solutions. So if they’re not going to see some of Buffy’s actions as mistakes (which, to me, they did, but clearly the writers and you disagree), they should have put her do some, because no chance in hell, a 23 year old person (even having gone through what Buffy did) would have all the magic answers.
    I don’t agree with Jo about Anya though. She learnt with Angel/Angelus incident the hard way – she felt guilty over Jenny Calendar’s death. The fact that she insists on killing Anya even though she likes her and knows Xander loves her reveals that she does know better now. She can’t make the same mistake that she did with Angelus – not killing him the first time she had the chance.
    Though I do like Anya and Xander, I cannot shut my eyes to their mistakes. The same goes for every single character in the show. This is why I refuse to blind my eyes to Buffy’s mistakes as well and to the writer’s. I love the show, even after all these years, it’s still my security blanket, it’s the first show I loved, it’s the first I analyzed and I still feel like I’m learning from it. And I actually see these as reasons why I should demand better from it.
    One day, I’ll do an analysis on season 7 on Buffy and post it on the season 7 review. This way, it will be less repetitive and it will actually be in the right place, so that everyone can feel free to argue.


  24. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 3, 2015.]

    God this two parter is so good. It’s actually amazing how well the pieces came together. With Wesley on Angel now, having him have to face up to the sins of his past made for some damn good drama. Plus the parallels between Angel and Faith were rather inspired.

    The seeds were planed in Consequences and Tim Minear took them and grew them into one hell of a good story with the question of redemption at the centre of the whole thing.


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