Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 17, 2012

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

Synopsis: Buffy has been searching for Adam and worrying about Riley. Riley returns, injured but stable. Faith wakes from her coma and goes in search of revenge. A demon delivers a package to her with a message from the Mayor and a special device. The police are on the hunt for Faith and a group of British men arrive by helicopter too. Faith heads to Buffy’s house and ties Joyce up. Buffy arrives and they fight. The police are soon on the scene but Faith uses the device which switches her consciousness with Buffy’s.

The Good: This was a strong part one and an enjoyable episode. In a way it was a sad reminder how much more engaging Season Three’s characters were compared to Season Four’s and I’m not just speaking about Riley (see The Unknown).

The Faith story was really watchable and the dream sequences brought her story nicely back to the front of my mind. There was a real stalker \ horror movie style to her reappearance. First she appears zombie like in the hallway asking the confused lady what year it is. Then she walks confusedly through Sunnydale just as Vampire Willow did (316) before turning up in full “slutbag” gear to shock Buffy and Willow at their college notice board. That sequence definitely felt like Buffy at its best. It was economical but told us everything we needed to know about her state of mind.

Buffy is understandably worried and is smart enough to know that Riley will be a target now. The couple of scenes they shared were solid as he affirms his loyalty to her over the Initiative. The brief Spike cameo was nice too (though beginning to feel repetitive) as he reminds Giles and Xander how much he hates them. Willow inducts Tara into the Scooby lifestyle while staying consistent with her own hatred of Faith.

Faith’s choice of Joyce as her target made sense given their history and she used Buffy’s absence from home neatly. I liked how Faith’s head games rapidly descended into a rant about how jealousy she is of what Buffy has. Then the final fight came which was suitably hard with some brutal looking moments involving various household implements (including the glass windows on the living room door). The cliff hanger twist was tremendous with the Slayers switching bodies just as the police arrive to take Faith away. The Rewatch has allowed the shows themes to live much larger in my mind. We know that a lot of Faith’s issues come from the advantages she perceived Buffy receiving. Now she will literally get to be in Buffy’s shoes and the results should be fascinating.

The Mayor’s return for a couple of scenes was very welcome. Like Faith, he is a lot of fun to watch. Now divorced from the important plot mechanics I actually enjoyed his mannered giggles more than I can ever remember.

The Adam story was moved to the backburner but we got some grisly evidence of his advanced biology lessons when patrol turns up an inside out demon.

The Bad: Nothing exactly but…

The Unknown: The return of the Mayor and Faith did make me look anew at Xander. He really has receded in every way since he and Faith slept together in “The Zeppo” (313). Back then he was an important part of the group with agency in his relationships and a self awareness about his limitations. Here he was reduced to resembling Chandler Bing at his most useless. He electrocutes himself on Riley’s gun and no one notices. Then later he is babbling away to Giles about his time with Faith and I looked at him trying to imagine how that ever happened. I hope this is part of his journey and gets addressed because it feels like he has disappeared from the narrative.

Faith’s dream sequences were really interesting. At first she and Buffy are friendly but then we get the brutal reminder of the stab wound which led to her coma. When she dreams again Buffy is stalking her before she finally turns the tables. However given the end of this episode that dream sequence could indicate that Faith won’t be the one coming out on top. We shall see.

I assume the British guys are from the Watcher’s Council but I suppose they might be from elsewhere in Giles’ past.

Best Moment: Yet another classic piece of Buffy comedy came when the phone call about Faith finished. Buffy turns back to the room and Giles, Willow and Xander have a detailed discussion of what their response should be. They were thorough in bringing up plot points and debating how best to restrain or rehabilitate her. Once everyone was on the same page the camera panned to Riley who earnestly asks “Who’s Faith?”

The Bottom Line: This was really enjoyable and leaves me more excited for the next episode than I have felt in a while. The downside though is that it took shunting Riley and Adam to one side for me to feel that way.

67/100

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