Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 17, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S4, E15 – This Years Girl (1)

This Year’s Girl
Season 4, Episode 15
Original airing: 2/22/2000

My Rating: 67

The Good: The big return of this episode is Faith and it was handled extremely well. The dream sequences did a fantastic job of reintroducing her character. When the show aired, it had actually been eight months since the audience had seen Faith in Graduation Day, Part Two (S3E22). The show is running on the same time line as the real world, so a reintroduction to her was necessary. The dreams showcased her feelings about the Mayor and Buffy just exquisitely. Buffy is the evil stalker destroying Faith’s world until Faith turns the tables. Then she’s able to climb out of her coma.

Her next several choices are very appropriate. She steals some clothes, proves to herself the Mayor is dead, stalks Buffy, kills a demon that approaches her, and then follows the Mayor’s last wish. She immediately turns to Buffy as the destroyer of her world and future. And thus she frames her behaviors around staying out of prison and taking Buffy down. When she receives the soul switching device, she immediately plans to take Buffy’s life. The smart thing to do would be to take the body and life of a random girl with no knowledge of the arcane, but that just wouldn’t be Faith.

I also really liked the cliffhanger of the episode. This is a classic example of a part one episode because it’s all about setup. And that setup makes the payoff at the end absolutely exceptional. When the audience realizes Buffy is actually Faith, we’ve just seen her crush the device. The implication that the real Buffy could go to jail and never get her life back is very intense.

The rest of the episode was more up and down. Surprisingly, I enjoyed Tara. Her brief scene with Willow was really cute. It’s fun to hear Willow bashing on Faith and Tara’s mime fighting was adorable. I also enjoyed the scene with Spike and his continued reminders that he hates the Scoobies. The fact that they keep forgetting that is pretty entertaining.

Finally, I really liked that they brought Joyce back in. Buffy assumes Faith will go after Riley, but Faith is much more of a girl to hit close to home. Her conversation with Joyce is really powerful as it turns into a full rant about Faith’s issues of abandonment. And it led to a really excellent Slayer fight.

The Bad: Unfortunately, some of the characters are just not working for me here. Forrest is completely confusing. His motivations are really unclear and he seems to be becoming the generic angry frenemy to Riley.

I found Xander too be just too goofy with the blaster gun. His accidently electrocution was just stupid. And his constant blathering on about his connection with Faith was bizarre. He’d already had that idea squashed back in season three. Is he bringing it up now to try and feel like he’s an important part of the group? Because it certainly isn’t looking that way.

And finally, I’m over Riley and Buffy again. They’re overly lovey-dovey attitudes here was annoying to watch. And Riley is just harping on the same things he was freaking out about last week. He’s such a straight-laced guy, it seems like he should be completely on Buffy’s side by now. But he’s still questioning the motives of Maggie Walsh, Forrest, and the Initiative as a whole.

Favorite Moment: As I mentioned above, I love the moment with Spike. His plan to find Faith and sic her on the Scoobies is just so him. And I really love when Xander turns to Giles and says “We’re dumb”.

The Bottom Line: This was an excellent part one episode. It delved back into Faith’s character to remind us of her motivations and then ended on a pretty exceptional plot twist. Well done.

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