Faith, Hope & Trick
Written by: David Greenwalt
Directed by: James A. Contner
Air Date: October 13, 1998

After the untimely passing of Kendra at the hands of Drusilla, back in “Becoming: Part 1“, there was a need for the next Slayer to be called. That Slayer is Faith, played throughout her run on this show and “Angel” with expertiese by the lovely Eliza Dushku, a renegade and “by-her-own-book” version of Buffy that is tough, sexy, and – kinda – frightening in her own right. She’s in Sunnydale escaping her past (namely a goofy-as-fuck vampire with cloven feet), but also to stir up some crazy things between Buffy and the rest of her friends. Also interested in stiring that stuff up? Scott Hope, a simple and regular dude that wants to ask Buffy to a Buster Keaton marathon (which Buffy is gung ho about? I don’t know, maybe high schoolers in California knew who that dude was, but I still really don’t to this day). Buffy is just fresh back to school, back in with her friends, and back in with her family. The last thing she needs is two new people mucking it up, trying to confuse her. Of course, thats not counting that aforementioned stupid vampire guy, adding that level of danger to the mix. All in all, not a good day for Buffy.

To compare Kendra to Faith (or vice versa) would be stupid: they’re both different characters who are never on screen or even know about each other. The real comparision is to be made between Kendra and Buffy, and Faith and Buffy… and then compare those two pairings. Kendra was all about being a strict Slayer, making Buffy seem less professional at her gig. Faith, on the other hand, criticizes “B” for being too strict the whole time, reminding her of some of the ways Slaying can be fun (particularly in regards to being “hungry’n’horny” after all is said and done — that look Xander, Willow, and Cordy give Buffy after that? Priceless). Its an interesting and new direction, and one that they run with in this season. Buffy and Faith even share a foretelling debate/arguement during their first joint patrol session that is so telling of what is to come, it made me anxious to see the next episodes right away.

In regards to “the boy” — Scott is an OK addition to the show. He’s here to help Buffy get past the whole “being Angel-less” thing that she’s been going through. He’s a sweet kid but Jesus is he drab. While my current undertaking has gotten me more pro-Buffy/Angel, I’m still not 100% behind the idea. But when compared to Scott in this episode (and subsequent visits with his character), Angel is the clear choice. Buffy does her best to get over her former lover by simply placing his ring on the ground in ye olde mansion, but you know its not going to take. I mean, aside from the fact that Angel is cast out (nude, even) from some Hell dimension. She keeps having dreams about him every night. Some random boy from her class being kinda nice to her is never going to be enough to get her over her “first” love. Not in a trillion years. Kudos, though, for trying. And we’ll see more of that punk kid soon enough.

As for the bad guys, Kakistos is lame. He’s super old and has a nasty scar and cloven feet. He’s dumb. I like that he’s so big that a stake can’t make it into his heart, and seeing him impaled by a giant bit of lumber is a cute touch. But he’s dumb. Faith’s fear of him is even more dumb. He killed her Watcher, yeah, but Faith is so tough from here on out, and later in the season that’s an emotional toughness. Here, she’s a weak little girl. Kakistos’ right-hand man, Mr. Trick, though… he’s a worthy addition. His tech-savvy, his desire to stay living when he knows two Slayers are going to wreck his master’s shit, and his slick attitude will make him an interesting character for the rest of the season (until, of course, he’s dusted). Its a sad state of affairs, thoughk, when your henchman is way more interesting than your major bad guy (unless you’re Star Wars, where Vader was more interesting than Palpatine … unless you’re the new Bluray cut of the trilogy, in which neither one is interesting…).

Some other nice things are the interactions between Faith and Joyce Summers (Joyce likes her… compare that to how she feels about her next season…!), Joyce finding out that Buffy kinda, well, you know… DIED a few years back, Faith’s story about slaying while nude, and even her cross-country tales of Slaying. It paints an interesting picture for the character and, well, helps remind us that these demons and vampires are all over the place, not just in sunny California. But the one interesting thing to note upon, here, is Giles trying to figure out how to seal Acathla, the stupid demon that Angel died trying to bring back into the world. He goads Buffy routinely into spilling her guts as to what occured, and he finally gets the truth. When this happens, Willow is stoked to help cast the spell, but Giles reveals that there was no spell. He knew stuff was bottling up in Buffy, and he knew how to get it out of her. His father-side comes through.

Overall, we have a solid episode. Between this season and season two, the third episode per season is when the main arc starts. Last time it was when Spike and Dru arrived in town, and here its when Faith and Mr. Trick do. Also, there’s tons of hinting at the Mayor, who will show up soon. And then there’s the matter of Willow’s spell casting, something she’s been eager to continue since she really started back in “I Only Have Eyes for You“, last season. This season, above all others, is the one that sets up the rest of the show. Season two is where things got real, yes, and started developing the characters and their acs, but this is where all that setup gets put into place, ready to be knocked down, around, and put back up to go again. Buffy is in for some further dark times and pains, coming up, but she’s getting a tighter group of friends, more confidence in herself and her Slaying, and – finally – some support from home. Now she just needs to put it all together. Which, of course, she never does manage to do that well, in the end.

Episode Rating: 88

Additional Notes:
-Cordy calling Faith out on her slutty dancing is hilarious
-the de-coupling moment is classy and well done
-Willow is so excited to leave campus!
-Snyder has it rough most of the season, but TWO Summers ladies making his life hell? Yeesh
-Willow pressuring Buffy to date is a nice role reversal
-Mr. Trick vampire-facing and pulling that fast food worker out of that window is legit creepy, for once
-Buffy’s mom referencing only having one child. Knowing what we know about season five, this is interesting stuff