Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Enemies" (Buffy 3.17): Angel and Buffy pull a long con

We are rapidly careening towards the end of season 3, and all the pieces need to be put in place. Or put in their place, FAITH. When the episode opens, she's still playing both sides of the fence, reporting the Scoobies' attempts to figure out what the Mayor's up to back to same. Once Faith's double dealing is suspected, Buffy, Angel and Giles make like this guy:
Not the nickname thing. The con thing.

Without further ado, the Buffyverse guide to playing a rogue Slayer.

DO spank your inner moppet.
None of this would have even been necessary if Faith didn't have some major-league issues. Her mother abandoned her, she doesn't have any real friends, oh, and she killed a man one time down South. The Mayor makes her feel wanted and special, so she's willing to overlook some pretty big red flags, like planning to "ascend" on graduation day, encouraging her development as a "cold-blooded straight-up killer," and excitement about turning Sunnydale into an all-you-can-eat buffet for demons.
Apparently, miniature golf courses will be spared.

However, at a certain point, you have to listen to the advice Cordelia gave Buffy way back in season 2, and stop campaigning for bitch of the year.

DO commit to the sting.
Now, it's hard to choose between tormented, brooding, lurking, lovesick Angel and sarcastic, sadistic, big-vamp-on-campus Angelus. Who also lurks. This episode gives you the best of both vampires--good Angel pretending to be bad Angelus.  In order to get Faith to spill the beans, Giles orchestrates a faux-soul-stealing, and Angel(us) convinces Faith and the Mayor that he's down for some Buffy torturing.
Pictured: AC-ting!

DON'T overthink it.
Alas, this plan exaggerates some existing cracks in the Buffy/Angel foundation. We are on the road to "Prom," and it begins here. Buffy was already insecure about Faith and Angel, and seeing him mack all over her, even after Buffy asked him to, prompts her to invoke the dreaded "break." Just ask Ross and Rachel how that worked out, sweetheart.
Dude, she didn't even see this part.

DON'T underestimate Xander's eagerness to revel in snide self-satisfaction.
Luckily, he doesn't blow the undercover operation, but Xand must have nearly pulled a hamstring running back to deliver a big "toldja so" to the rest of the Scoobies after Angel (in character, probably) punches him in the face.
Smug much?

We're on the "Graduation Day" express, folks. Next stop? A season highlight: "Earshot."


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