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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 16 - Who Are You (2)

5 December 2014

Synopsis: Fuffy is taken away by the police and then captured by the men from the Watcher’s Council. Baith takes a bath and gets used to her new body. She books a flight out of town and then pops by Giles’ house to catch up with the Scoobies. She tells them she is off to hunt for Adam but goes dancing at the Bronze instead. After teasing Spike she mocks Tara and then heads to Riley’s. Tara senses that something is wrong and she and Willow perform a spell to locate Buffy. The next day Fuffy returns to find Giles while Baith heads for the airport. Meanwhile Adam has stirred up some vampires who invade a local church during a service. Baith and Fuffy rush to the scene.Fuffy

The Good: N.B. Fuffy = Faith in Buffy’s body. Baith = Buffy in Faith’s body.

This was a revelation. I knew I was going to enjoy rewatching it but I didn’t remember just how fantastic this episode was.

Body switching plots should always be entertaining but this was on an entirely different level. The first layer of entertainment was watching a tour de force by Sarah Michelle Gellar and anticipating each new interaction that Fuffy would have with her friends. But the second layer was quite remarkable as we saw Faith finally able to understand why her actions were immoral by being forced to walk in Buffy’s shoes for a day.

That second layer was quite moving and brilliantly constructed. Fuffy begins her journey by mocking Buffy’s high minded ideals by saying “Because it’s wrong” into the mirror in a silly voice. The psychotic part of her is of course just under the surface as she imagines stabbing Willow and cackles at the news that Baith is being taken to England. She spells out her attitude to Spike by pointing out all the amazing things Buffy could do with her life but chooses not to because of her calling.

In the midst of her revelry she stakes a vampire in order to keep up appearances. She is so taken aback by the feeling she has when the victim she saved her thanks her with the sincerity of the truly grateful. Fuffy then heads over to Riley’s to further degrade Buffy by sleeping with her boyfriend. Riley has no time for her sex play and makes love to her before voicing that emotion in words. Again Faith is shaken by being treated with genuine love and between that and Willow’s spell she is confused as she falls asleep.

The next day she angrily denies being a killer (to Forrest) and when she sees the news report about the terrorised church she comes running. Her conscience is finally awake and when the vampire asks her why he can’t kill the parishioners she responds genuinely “Because it’s wrong.” That is simple, circular writing which hit its point directly and emotively. We’ve known for a long time what Faith’s issues were but to see her broken by Buffy’s goodness in this unexpected way was a beautiful thing. When Baith arrives to take back her body Fuffy pounds and pounds at her own visage crying “You’re nothing!”

It is of course a most interesting twist that it is Sarah Michelle Gellar and not Eliza Dushku who gets to deliver this epic portrayal. It is yet another amazing performance amongst a collection which will stand the test of time. From her first head bob and delivery of a mean jibe she captured the spirit of Faith without ever seeming like a bad impression. She made wonderful use of physicality to demonstrate who was meant to be occupying her body. From the leg lifts in the bath, to teasing Spike, to offering herself to Riley she made uses of her body that she never would while being Buffy. Her smiles were different, her frowns were different.

The simple dynamic of body swap of course paid enormous dividends. The bath\mirror sequence had an un-Buffy quality to it that was most effective. It also made the obvious point about how Faith would be experiencing a whole new world now that she had a new body. Then we got the fun of seeing Faith decide how to respond to Joyce and her friends. As she swallowed her desire to hurt them her reactions became fascinating to watch. I loved the scripting of her jab at Xander’s prowess (perhaps from personal experience) and the interaction with Spike. Seeing her clock who he was and his confused impotence was tremendous and reminded us of their chemistry in “Something Blue” (409).

The scripting of the Fuffy-Tara interaction was brilliant too. With Faith absorbing a bunch of information all at once she doesn’t check her tongue and reveals too much about herself while also giving Tara’s fragile self esteem a good smack. The Fuffy-Riley scene reached an even greater peak. I thought his determination to close the door when she was so keen for sex was quite the moment. It was such a subtle demonstration of the world of propriety and gentleness that Buffy lives in and Faith doesn’t. For the first time I really liked Riley as a character. He was all for sex but had no intention of cheapening the love he felt in that moment by demeaning Buffy. It was such a natural reaction from the character and yet I hadn’t anticipated the effect this would have on Faith. Afterwards he tells her that he loves her and she panics. Willow’s spell confuses the issue slightly but it’s clear that Faith knows she has crossed a line and realises what is missing from her own life.

Adam too managed to be swept along in the gathering brilliance by providing intriguing psychoanalysis to a group of local vampires. By forcing them to confront their fear of God their attack on a church seemed particularly fitting as the cry for help which even Faith couldn’t ignore. We even got a little comedy as Giles reacted to Baith’s arrival and then distracted the police with some hasty lies.

Tara and Willow inch toward physically expressing their affection with another spell as sex analogy. More effective though was Willow telling Tara that she wanted to keep her to herself and Tara saying “I am...yours.” You really felt in that moment for Tara as she got as close as she comfortably could to saying how she feels.

The Bad: The only downside here is how quickly everything played out. This was such a mesmeric episode that I could well have taken a third part to give us the full story of Faith slowly coming round to the light side. However if you watch “Angel” that story will continue.

The Unknown: Tara being able to sense energy seemed a little convenient. Would it have been implausible or even more effective if she had simply told Willow how mean Fuffy was? Their spell added confusion to Fuffy’s reaction to Riley’s “I love you” but it was still a very effective scene.

Adam claims he was made to destroy all life which was interesting. I’m assuming that Professor Walsh actually designed him to kill all demon life but perhaps he has interpreted that mission differently.  He seems to be making himself into the antichrist telling the vampires to do a John the Baptist and let the world know that he is coming.

Best Moment: A very tough choice. I will try and pinpoint the moment when my emotions were most effectively engaged. I would say it was when Riley says “I don’t wanna play.” I think you could have just about predicted the interactions between Fuffy and the rest of the Scoobies. But to see Riley’s goodness overwhelm Faith was unexpectedly moving.

The Bottom Line: Written and directed by Joss Whedon this was once more Buffy at its absolute best. A simple but brilliantly constructed story which took a character on a satisfying and moving journey. Yet again the core of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is goodness. Buffy’s choice to sacrifice selfish desires in favour of saving lives can move the hardest of hearts within the show and outside of it.

 

Cordia’s Second Look
Who Are You?
Season 4, Episode 16
Original airing: 2/29/2000

My Rating: 76

NOTE: For the purposes of this review, “Fuffy” refers to Faith in Buffy’s body and “Baith” refers to Buffy in Faith’s body.

The Good: Wow. This was an amazing performance from Sarah Michelle Geller. She handled Faith in Buffy’s body with considerable aplomb. The journey she takes in this episode is a bit fast (see The Bad), but it’s enjoyable to watch and has a grounding in reality because of Geller’s acting. She so embodies the elements that create Faith the character that I completely believed I WAS watching Faith’s soul in Buffy’s body. Her mannerisms, speaking patterns, and presence around the other characters were just perfect.

I thought Faith’s journey towards a conscience was a good idea. It was necessary to keep the character around unless she was going to go completely insane upon waking and be fully evil. But then the writers couldn’t play with her delightfully twisted personality in the same way. This was a fun way to explore how Faith views the world. By switching bodies with Buffy, Faith is suddenly giving loving parents, caring friends, and an intimate relationship with an affectionate and genuine guy. Of course, she doesn’t know how to handle any of these things. Especially when Riley says he loves her after they have sex. She also finds herself confronted with compassion, gratitude, and a need to do the right thing.

And that brings me to the use of Adam in this episode. I’ve not been a fan of Adam so far, and I still think he’s overly philosophical in a boring manner (see The Bad), but having him initiate the attack on the church worked really well. While Fuffy is still confused by her encounter with Riley and the rest of her experiences as Buffy, even she can’t ignore a whole group of innocent humans being held hostage by vampires in broad daylight. It was a big enough threat to believe she wouldn’t be able to turn her back on it.

I also really enjoyed Willow and Tara’s story in this episode. The path they are on has been pretty obvious to the audience for a while, but they’re definitely still dancing around it with each other. This episode has Tara being relatively blatant about it with her statement of “I am, you know. Your’s.” This is followed up later by the most explicit sex/spell scene we’ve had so far. Willow even has what amounts to an orgasm. I thought it was all handled really well and it definitely pulled at my emotions to see them in these early stages of a relationship.

Finally, how could I not enjoy the scene between Fuffy and Spike.Fuffy is still in her “I don’t give a damn” mindset and thus her teasing is mean-spirited. But it works well because it’s Spike she’s messing with. Plus, the chemistry between James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Geller is really strong. They completely explode together on screen. On the unfortunate side, it points out again how much SMG and Marc Blucas (Riley) DON’T click together.

The Meh: Unfortunately, while Sarah Michelle Geller is embodying Faith in Buffy’s body (see The Good), Eliza Dushku isn’t quite capable of pulling off Buffy in Faith’s body. Her portrayal is very child-like with lots of wide-eyed staring and soft spoken lines. She has a bit of whininess to her tone that I found quite annoying, too, especially when she’s talking to Giles. I didn’t think it was the worst performance, but it definitely paled in comparison to Geller.

The Bad: My main issue with this episode is how quickly everything happened. While I’m on board with Faith’s general story line (see The Good), the fact that it only takes a day in Buffy time and less than 40 minutes in real time is pretty disappointing. The writers are attempting to take a character who was portrayed last season as essentially amoral and a killer who enjoyed gutting humans and demons alike, and make her completely relatable. While I don’t think they failed entirely, it just smacks false to me. I don’t see how a complete psychotic goes to a lost and lonely girl in one day. If this had been across a few episodes, it would have felt much more believable, in my opinion.

I’m also over Adam and his philosophical ramblings. In his first scene with the vampires, I had a really hard time paying attention. As soon as he started his monologue, I basically shut off. It was interesting that he stated later his plan was to destroy all life, but at this point, I just don’t care without more information. I suspect I was more intrigued by all this the first time I saw it, but it’s not sufficient during a rewatch.

Finally, I was really disappointed by the final scene of the episode between Riley and Buffy. I felt like Buffy realizing Riley slept with Fuffy should have been a bigger deal. Riley didn’t know it was really Faith, but I still imagine Buffy would have a hard time dealing with the concept. The fact that she basically shrugs and moves on felt very false to me. Why bring it up just to ignore it?

Favorite Moment: I thought there were several good scenes in this episode, but I really appreciated the moment where the girl Fuffy saves from the vampire thanks her. She feels compelled to reach out for Fuffy’s hand and has a look of complete, genuine gratitude. We never saw Faith actually saving anyone on the show, so I found it rather believable that this might be the first time she was faced with this situation. I thought her confusion was perfect and I really think this was a strong moment for her story.

The Bottom Line: I love the concept behind this episode, but I just think it moved too quickly to be fully believed. It really distracted me and kept me from becoming fully involved with the story. And while I really enjoyed Willow and Tara’s story, Adam’s terrible monologues balanced things back out. This was a rather good episode, but not quite great.

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  • And the oscar goes to Buf... Sarah Michelle Gellar. Every split second of her acting in this episode is fantastic.

    Viewer score: 89 / 100

    Posted by Helge Scheibner, 03/12/2014 6:22pm (2 years ago)

  • Great episode:
    While I definitely agree that SMGellar was absolutely dead-on as Fuffy, I have to give Eliza Dushku credit here for managing to be believable as Baith, and not just "being Eliza Dushku" as Cordia and others, myself included, have previously claimed as her limit as an actress. I bought the portrayal of Baith, it just wasn't AS good as SMG as Fuffy. Faith was portrayed so well that I hate hate hated her just as much as ever, and I mean that as a compliment.
    I am not sure what effect Robin saw in the spell cast by Willow and Tara; all that seemed to come of it, besides those two becoming closer, was their confirmation of the truth, and a convenient plot device in the form of the glowing green katra. I thought the casting of the spell was showcased brilliantly, but was very disappointed to not have been shown anything of what Willow saw.
    Finally, I have a huge problem with the vampires being in the cross-filled church. Do crosses hurt vampires or just freak them out? Are we to take from this that a vampire could believe that sunlight was harmless, and make it so? Will anyone ever fight a vamp with a communion wafer? :)

    Viewer score: 82 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 01/11/2013 10:50pm (3 years ago)

  • Thanks for the great review guys!

    Posted by The G man, 27/06/2012 12:23am (5 years ago)

  • I just watched the two Angel episodes that follow this one because the second "Sanctuary" is one of my all time favorite Angel episodes. This is probably too spoiler-ish for the podcast and maybe even for the site but since this last time we will have "current" Faith material to discuss for awhile I wanted to add this quick transcript for the Angel episode. It is a scene between Buffy and Faith and serves as an epilogue to "Who Are You"

    Faith: "There is nothing I can do for you, B. I can't ever make it right."
    Buffy: "So you're just going to take off again. Leave us to clean up yet another one of your messes."
    Faith: "It would make things easier for you."
    Buffy: "Till you got bored with the whole guilt thing - decided to come back to shake things up?"
    Faith: "That's not gonna happen."
    Buffy: "You're right. It's not."
    Faith: "Angel said there was no way you were gonna give me a chance."
    Buffy: "I gave you every chance! I tried so hard to help you, and you spat on me. My life was just something for you to play with. Angel - Riley - anything that you could take from me - you took. I've lost battles before - but nobody else has -ever- made me a victim."
    Faith: "And you can't stand that. You're all about control. You have no idea what it's like on the other side! Where nothing's in control, nothing makes sense! There is just pain and hate and nothing you do means anything. You can't even.."
    Buffy: "Shut up!"
    Faith: "Just tell me how to make it better."

    Posted by Derek, 21/06/2012 5:45am (5 years ago)

  • There is one reason why this isn't among my favorite Buffy episodes and it's name is Adam. At least Adam serves a purpose in the story creating a situation where Faith and Buffy would both act but this probably could have been done another way and Adam is just so annoying bland. I'm not the biggest fan of monologues and if you are going to do one it better be hilarious/witty or extremely well acted. Adam is not either.

    I agree with Cordia Eliza is amazing at Faith everything else, meh. It's the main reason I won't watch Dollhouse that and I've heard it's just not good. She does a fine job playing Buffy its not glaringly horrible. She does seem to deliver the Buffy quips pretty well, everything else is more just deer in the headlights confused.

    This could just be because Sarah is knocking it out of the park. I've seen Sarah play a slutbomb before in the hilariously bad Cruel Intentions but the portrayal of Faith goes beyond that into her literally embodying the character. She has the mannerisms the facial expressions just everything Faith. I have the tiniest bit of problem with the fact that Riley is what switches Faith. I understand the decision and I actually like it but I'm not connected enough with Riley and Buffy to care that Riley's love makes Faith understand the good in the world. If this was somehow coming from Angel that be one thing not even sex obviously because that's impossible with Angel. Then again I don't think Angel would be able to tell quite instantly that Buffy was not Buffy.

    I've said it before but I'll say it again, while I did think that Tara came off as the retarded cousin the first time, I really enjoy her now. She doesn't overreact to Baith taunting her. It obviously upsets her greatly and it's portrayed effectively to the audience without being too much unlike when she freaked out earlier in the season and ran away. It also doesn't lead to aggravating Tara hates Buffy subplot with Tara being able to pick out Buffy's aura.

    P.S. I'm sorry for two Supernatural references in a row but it's all I've watched lately. Given the fact that the two main characters on the show often impersonate government officials I was rather happy to see Riley in a respectable disguise. Oh wait he was just going to church and didn't even know about the vampires. Still as incompetent as ever you never disappoint me Riley. You useless scamp!

    Viewer score: 83 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 18/06/2012 4:41am (5 years ago)

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