Bad Girls
Written by: Douglas Petrie
Directed by: Michael Lange
Air Date: Feb 9, 1999

Back in “Ted” “BtVS” toyed around with the idea of a Slayer killing a human being and that is all well and good, but the thing I knocked it for then is true still, more so because of this episode; Buffy deals with the fact that she’s killed until she finds out it was a bad robot, then she’s immediately over the grief and guilt she’d been suffering that whole time. Here, though, we get the start of Faith dealing with the notion of murder, albeit in a very different fashion than Buffy had utilized to process and deal. Buffy used solitude, depression, and fear control her. Faith, clearly, is just electing to use selective indifference to cope. While its obvious from her continual scrubbing of her hands (which had previously had literal blood on them) that she is trying to deal with it in her own way, she’s electing to keep it all bottled up. This will not serve her – or, as a turn of events tied to this episode – or the rest of the team well.

This is the wake-up call Buffy needs to remind her that she is in fact a “hero” and not just a girl with powers. After the events of “Helpless“, Buffy and Giles have been a bit lax in their responsibilities as Slayer and Watcher, respectively. Buffy has let Faith show her how to have more fun while slaying, complete with Eliza Dushku clearly having too much fun grunting an extra ‘Unggh!” where (in)appropriate. And Giles? He’s not even present for this stuff, anymore. She’s left to her own devices, until the new Watcher, Wesley shows up (what a ponce. He’ll surprise us by the end of “Angel”, though) and Buffy is all about reporting to Giles. Still, its all rather flippant rather than professional, leaving Buffy to look more like Faith than ever before.

Things get out of control, though, when the pair of Slayers breaks into a hunting equipment store to stockpile weapons for a giant slay-fest. They need this stuff to help destroy the demon Balthazar, a giant fat demon (who is only that way because The Mayor had previously cursed him, thus removing much of his power. This is only barely hinted at, by the way, and never by The Mayor himself. Its a nice bit of storytelling because it shows how powerful and “big” Wilkins is without him ever having to show it himself). She seems to abide by Faith’s rule of ‘Want. Take. Have.” up until police show up and arrest them. They escape, but there is a moment or two where Buffy looks both scared and aware, suddenly, that she’s been one of the titular “Bad Girls” this episode. This comes to a head in a dark alley where they kill vampires, literally one-by-one, until the Deputy Mayor pops out and Faith stabs him, killing him.

Buffy tries to help, Faith stands there. Its classic good/bad dynamic. But Faith isn’t standing there because she doesn’t care. No, its the opposite: she’s standing there because she doesn’t know what to do with the immediate guilt of having killed an innocent human being. The subsequent killing of the demon and his minions finds her completely absent, likely sitting in her shitty little motel room and lamenting her situation (she misses out on a brutal brawl, though, and one of my favorite uses of electricity to kill a dude in the history of fiction. Its good stuff). Balthazar mutters some prophetic omen about how “when he rises” they’ll wish he’d killed them, himself. Buffy looks confused, and everyone goes home.

Its good stuff throughout the episode, up to the final moment where Faith says she dropped the body in the water and that she doesn’t care that she killed a dude. SMG’s face showcases – yet again – how well she acts with just her eyes in this moment, being both shocked and appalled without saying a word. In an episode where she went from being responsible to being a complete screw-up (she disobeyed her new Watcher – under her former Watcher’s guidance no less – and she skipped an important test that she needed to pass in order to fucking graduate high school) and then back again, its nice to see her disgust at the person Faith is. This kind of behavior has been hinted at all season thus far, but now its come to the front of our hero’s attention. And she doesn’t like what she sees.

“Bad Girls” begins the forward momentum the season will take up until the finale episodes. Its a nice reminder of a few things, and a great introduction to both some good plot threads and a character we’ll be seeing and enjoy hating for the rest of the season. The Mayor is now invincible until the Ascension and he is overjoyed about it, but peeved that his Deputy Mayor is no where in sight. This will come back to bite both Buffy and Faith in the ass, in more ways than one. And while we didn’t get much time with him, Mr. Trick was around, and he should be around more often, for sure. Its a shame his time on this show is so damned short. Oh well.

Episode Rating: 94

Additional Notes:
-Buffy’s fake drowning was the weakest part of the episode, by far
-Oz’s comical utterance of dismay over being held back a year is priceless Seth Green
-How did the teacher not notice Faith at the window?
-“UNACCEPTABLE!”
-There is a blooper of Balthazar on the DVD’s that is just hilarious. Pure comic gold
-The Mayor crossing off “Become Invincible” on a To-Do list is great, but not as funny as the fact that “Get A Haircut” comes next
-“Who wants root beer?!”

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