Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | December 12, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S3, E14 – Bad Girls

Bad Girls
Season 3, Episode 14
Original airing: 2/9/1999

My Rating: 87

The Good: This was a fun look at Buffy’s dark side. We saw a peak of it way back in When She Was Bad (S2E1) and it makes sense that it would start to come out if Buffy spent more time with Faith. Especially with a new stuffy Watcher around continuously attempting to exert his control over her. Faith’s reaction to Wesley is just perfect when she literally says “Screw that” and walks away with no consequences. How can Buffy not admire her stance and be a little jealous? This begins the major part of the Buffy Goes Bad story. She teams up whole-heartedly with Faith and we get to see her enjoy some fighting, ditch class, do a little dirty dancing, relax around Angel, and start to see the merits in Faith’s “Want. Take. Have.” philosophy.

This felt like a pretty natural progression which came to a screeching halt when the police got involved. I love that Buffy is combing through the paper the next day, presumably to make sure the policemen are ok. Buffy has realized that she is a Slayer, but she’s also a person and can’t just do whatever she wants. It really starts to hit home, of course, when Allan is murdered. Buffy wanting to be like Faith is ended forever when Faith informs Buffy at the end of the episode that she doesn’t care that Allan is dead. Faith has dumped the body and is ready to forget and move on. The expression on Buffy’s face at this point is such outright horror, we know she’ll never fall for Faith’s dark ways again.

Most of this episode was really rather silly. Wesley Wyndam-Price is our new Watcher and he seems to be a cut and paste of Giles from the first season, but topped with a sprinkle more self-righteousness. Buffy and Faith’s reactions of “Is he evil?” was a lovely connection back to Gwendolyn Post. I love the little bits of continuity in the series. And while he’s not evil “in the traditional sense” he is certainly annoying. He spends most of the episode deriding Giles and his methods. But Giles is obviously the wiser, more experienced Watcher when they are captured by the Eliminati.

Balthazar is a disgusting villain, but he serves wonderfully as a distraction from the main action in this episode. While Balthazar is bathing and huffing and puffing about his amulet, Richard the Mayor is undergoing a transformation ritual which makes him quite literally invincible. Balthazar is most likely not in Richard’s employee, but he knows what’s what as he cryptically warns Buffy with his dying breath, “When he rises, you’ll wish I’d killed you all.”

The episode was, all in all, a wonderful bait and switch. There’s a lot of silliness going on with Wesley and Balthazar. Even the background mayor dedication is handled lightly. Then suddenly, Faith stakes a human and he dies. The switch in tone doesn’t happen fully until the very last scene, but this is a serious dark cloud for the season. The writers played with this idea once in Ted (S2E11) before we knew Ted was a robot. But there’s no backing out of this. A Slayer murdered a human, albeit accidently. I can’t wait to see the progression of this storyline.

The Bad: While I’m tempted to say Balthazar was bad just because he was so disgusting, I won’t. It’s actually refreshing to see different types of demons on the show. And even though Balthazar wasn’t that scary, he didn’t need to be. He really was nothing more than a distraction and he did that rather well.

In reality, I don’t have a lot to complain about here. I thought it was all pretty good. One has to wonder why the police didn’t show up at Buffy’s house the next day though. You’d think they’d have gotten ID when Buffy and Faith were arrested.

Favorite Moment: It’s wonderful to see again how far the relationship between Giles and Buffy has progressed. Wesley is terrifyingly like a season one Giles and the show highlights that with a wonderful little moment where Giles and Wesley both pull out handkerchiefs to wipe their glasses at the same moment. The capper is when Giles notices and tries to pretend he wasn’t doing it.

The Bottom Line: Most of this episode was goofy, but exceptionally enjoyable to watch. The kicker, however, is definitely the incredibly unexpected twist at the end and the effect that will certainly have going forward.

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