Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | June 25, 2012

Cordia’s Review: S4, E16 – Who Are You (2)

Who Are You?
Season 4, Episode 16
Original airing: 2/29/2000

My Rating: 76

NOTE: For the purposes of this review, “Fuffy” refers to Faith in Buffy’s body and “Baith” refers to Buffy in Faith’s body.

The Good: Wow. This was an amazing performance from Sarah Michelle Geller. She handled Faith in Buffy’s body with considerable aplomb. The journey she takes in this episode is a bit fast (see The Bad), but it’s enjoyable to watch and has a grounding in reality because of Geller’s acting. She so embodies the elements that create Faith the character that I completely believed I WAS watching Faith’s soul in Buffy’s body. Her mannerisms, speaking patterns, and presence around the other characters were just perfect.

I thought Faith’s journey towards a conscience was a good idea. It was necessary to keep the character around unless she was going to go completely insane upon waking and be fully evil. But then the writers couldn’t play with her delightfully twisted personality in the same way. This was a fun way to explore how Faith views the world. By switching bodies with Buffy, Faith is suddenly giving loving parents, caring friends, and an intimate relationship with an affectionate and genuine guy. Of course, she doesn’t know how to handle any of these things. Especially when Riley says he loves her after they have sex. She also finds herself confronted with compassion, gratitude, and a need to do the right thing.

And that brings me to the use of Adam in this episode. I’ve not been a fan of Adam so far, and I still think he’s overly philosophical in a boring manner (see The Bad), but having him initiate the attack on the church worked really well. While Fuffy is still confused by her encounter with Riley and the rest of her experiences as Buffy, even she can’t ignore a whole group of innocent humans being held hostage by vampires in broad daylight. It was a big enough threat to believe she wouldn’t be able to turn her back on it.

I also really enjoyed Willow and Tara’s story in this episode. The path they are on has been pretty obvious to the audience for a while, but they’re definitely still dancing around it with each other. This episode has Tara being relatively blatant about it with her statement of “I am, you know. Your’s.” This is followed up later by the most explicit sex/spell scene we’ve had so far. Willow even has what amounts to an orgasm. I thought it was all handled really well and it definitely pulled at my emotions to see them in these early stages of a relationship.

Finally, how could I not enjoy the scene between Fuffy and Spike.Fuffy is still in her “I don’t give a damn” mindset and thus her teasing is mean-spirited. But it works well because it’s Spike she’s messing with. Plus, the chemistry between James Marsters and Sarah Michelle Geller is really strong. They completely explode together on screen. On the unfortunate side, it points out again how much SMG and Marc Blucas (Riley) DON’T click together.

The Meh: Unfortunately, while Sarah Michelle Geller is embodying Faith in Buffy’s body (see The Good), Eliza Dushku isn’t quite capable of pulling off Buffy in Faith’s body. Her portrayal is very child-like with lots of wide-eyed staring and soft spoken lines. She has a bit of whininess to her tone that I found quite annoying, too, especially when she’s talking to Giles. I didn’t think it was the worst performance, but it definitely paled in comparison to Geller.

The Bad: My main issue with this episode is how quickly everything happened. While I’m on board with Faith’s general story line (see The Good), the fact that it only takes a day in Buffy time and less than 40 minutes in real time is pretty disappointing. The writers are attempting to take a character who was portrayed last season as essentially amoral and a killer who enjoyed gutting humans and demons alike, and make her completely relatable. While I don’t think they failed entirely, it just smacks false to me. I don’t see how a complete psychotic goes to a lost and lonely girl in one day. If this had been across a few episodes, it would have felt much more believable, in my opinion.

I’m also over Adam and his philosophical ramblings. In his first scene with the vampires, I had a really hard time paying attention. As soon as he started his monologue, I basically shut off. It was interesting that he stated later his plan was to destroy all life, but at this point, I just don’t care without more information. I suspect I was more intrigued by all this the first time I saw it, but it’s not sufficient during a rewatch.

Finally, I was really disappointed by the final scene of the episode between Riley and Buffy. I felt like Buffy realizing Riley slept with Fuffy should have been a bigger deal. Riley didn’t know it was really Faith, but I still imagine Buffy would have a hard time dealing with the concept. The fact that she basically shrugs and moves on felt very false to me. Why bring it up just to ignore it?

Favorite Moment: I thought there were several good scenes in this episode, but I really appreciated the moment where the girl Fuffy saves from the vampire thanks her. She feels compelled to reach out for Fuffy’s hand and has a look of complete, genuine gratitude. We never saw Faith actually saving anyone on the show, so I found it rather believable that this might be the first time she was faced with this situation. I thought her confusion was perfect and I really think this was a strong moment for her story.

The Bottom Line: I love the concept behind this episode, but I just think it moved too quickly to be fully believed. It really distracted me and kept me from becoming fully involved with the story. And while I really enjoyed Willow and Tara’s story, Adam’s terrible monologues balanced things back out. This was a rather good episode, but not quite great.

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