Written by Douglas Petrie
Directed by David Grossman

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Joss must die. He almost managed to convince me. A wonderfully torturous episode with a miraculaously angst-light ending -- for these small blessings, Joss, we are grateful.

Buffy and Angel leave the movie theatre after a night out that turned into more than they'd expected -- apparently the French flick was a little more explicit than either of them were prepared for. Both on edge from proximity to each other, Angel assures Buffy that just being around her is enough, even knowing they can never be really together. His more physical reassurances are cut short by Faith's arrival -- newly restored to active duty, she drags Buffy off to patrol. Their route turns up no vampires, but a demon who offers them a deal they can't refuse -- the Books of Ascension, whatever those are, in exchange for $5,000.

The Slayers head off to report to their respective supervisors -- Buffy to Giles and Wesley and Faith to the Mayor. The Mayor, to no one's surprise, is less than pleased to find out about this demon and, after playing foster daddy for all he's worth, sends Faith to dispose of the demon and recover the books. Meanwhile, Giles is mostly just disgusted by the demon's terms (money is apparently too mundane to satisfy him). Willow comes up with the proper reference for The Ascension from books Giles has been trying to hide from her; the reference is short and sweet -- "Tomorrow is the Ascension, God help us all.", written in a journal from a town that disappeared without a trace the next day. A minor distraction from Cordelia putting the moves on Wesley yet again distracts only Wesley, who recovers enough to send Buffy out to find the demon and 'negotiate'.

Faith beats her to it, though -- accosting the demon in his hotel room, she murders him after a quick struggle and steals with the books. Apparently shaken by her close encounter -- and blood on her hands, she heads for the mansion and Angel. She tells him she's in over her head, "scaring myself"; that she's killed again and needs him to help her come back from being a killer. Angel tries to help, but a comforting embrace turns into a kiss. Angel firmly tells Faith he can be there to help her, but that's all. Faith appears to accept it with good grace -- until she's reporting her failure to seduce Angel to the Mayor. It seems the Mayor's latest attack on the Slayer is to attempt to give Angel the "one true moment of happiness" that would steal his soul and return Angelus. Since Faith didn't succeed in doing it the easy way, he'll just have to do it "the most painful way imaginable."

Wesley and Giles are still trying to research the Ascension and having absolutely no luck. They finally agree to contact the Council -- or rather, Wesley will, since the Council is not aware that Giles is still so heavily involved with the Slayer. Who is, by the way, monster depressed, since, as Faith was leaving the mansion the night before, Buffy saw her and Angel together and is being massively insecure about it. Xander arrives with the demon's address, bribed out of Willie the snitch, and Buffy, after an icily polite exchange with the newly-arrived Faith, heads out to 'talk' to the demon. Unsuprisingly, they find only his body, and no Books of Ascension.

The Mayor, meanwhile, has a very important meeting with someone who looks like Lawrence of Arabia after he was left out in the desert for about 100 years. The Mayor hires Desert Boy for a job we can assume has something to do with his plans for Angel's soul. Angel is also the topic of conversation for Buffy and Willow, who badgers the details of Buffy's encounter the night before out of the Slayer, then sends her off to talk to Angel and find out what really happened.

But once again, Faith beats Buffy to the punch, arriving at the mansion ostensibly to apologize to Angel for her behavior the night before. But the apology turns ugly as she splashes something icky on his shirt, and Desert Boy appears behind them, chanting. Lights play around Angel's body and he writhes in agony -- then collapses on the floor. He pulls himself painfully to his feet, then whirls on Faith in full vampire mask -- and kisses her. Being Angelus, that turns quickly into violence, as he hurls her across the room into a wall.

And it is Angelus, motormouth, giggles, sadohomicidal impulse control problems and everything. Faith fights him off, then tells him if he wants real power -- and to beat Buffy this time -- he wants to talk to her boss. Angelus agrees. Both Faith and Angel are missed in the Slayerettes meeting (including Cordy, who is drawn more by Wesley than any world-saving impulses); Willow reports that the Mayor has deleted all of his online files, but Oz suggests going to the source -- the hard copies at the Hall of Records -- while Buffy heads off to try to recover the Books of Ascension from the Mayor's office and Xander goes cruising on his own. But the trust fades the second she realizes that Angel is not really acting like himself, or not his souled self anyway. Buffy tries to fight off Angelus and get Faith out, but realizes that Faith, too, has betrayed her. She has no time to do anything about it before Angelus knocks her cold. Xander, for his part, has woken up and tracked down the City Hall researchers; their news that Mayor Wilkins is more than 100 years old is met with his bitter news that Angelus is back and Faith is helping him.

Buffy wakes up in chains, the same chains previously used both on Angel and on Faith. Angelus goes into one of his patented psycho riffs, but eventually abandons the field to Faith, who unleashes one hell of a lot of resentment towards Buffy. "This was supposed to be my town," she informs the other Slayer, pissed off that, no mattter what she has done, Buffy is still all anyone talks about. Buffy goads Faith into attacking her, but Faith refuses to kill her, wanting to enjoy herself. She gloats about the upcoming Ascension, and the power that she will be in line for once the Mayor does his thing on Graduation Day. Buffy sadly informs Faith that, "I never knew you had some much rage inside you."

"Guess I'm just the world's best actor," Faith says smugly.

"Second best," Angel says from behind her. And it is Angel -- with all of the information they can get extracted from the rogue Slayer, they let their charade drop, Buffy freeing herself from the chains. Enraged, Faith attacks, and she and Buffy wind up with knives at each other's throats as the rest of the Slayerettes arrive. Unable to kill Faith, Buffy watches her escape.

In the library, Giles thanks Desert Boy for his warning and the light show that fooled Faith. Desert Boy informs Giles that, "This restores the balance between us; my debt to you is now paid in full." and fades away. "I introduced him to his wife," Giles explains to the gawking Slayerettes. Wesley and Xander are both bitter about being left out of the charade, but Giles is less worried about their feelings than the reality of Faith's betrayal. Faith is depressed and angry over the loss of her contracts in the Slayerettes and her failure, despite the Mayor's efforts to cheer her up.

And Buffy, sad and thoughtful, goes to talk to Angel, who is almost as freaked out by the success of his acting turn as Buffy. She tells him, to no one's surprise, that she needs space to deal. He agrees but, as she turns to go, asks her, "You still my girl?" She turns back to him, smiling sadly.


The Slayerettes are now aware of Faith's betrayal and alliance with the Mayor. They are also aware that Mayor Wilkins is more than 100 years old, and that his plans for the Ascension are scheduled for Graduation Day. They're still not clear on what the Ascension is.

Cordelia is intensifying her pursuit of Wesley, to the open amusement of everyone except Xander.

Buffy and Angel are once again in 'step-back' phase, although the concept of actually 'breaking up' never seems to cross their minds.

Well, anyone under any illusions about Faith pretty much has to give it up, me included. Her past comes as no suprise -- a drunk mother, no father in sight, mostly neglected for most of her childhood. But it doesn't offer any excuses for trying to help steal Angel's soul -- not to mention aiding and abetting Buffy's kidnap/planned torture. Both of the above pretty much put Faith firmly in the 'Bad Guys' camp. Not to mention the psycho camp. I wouldn't put it past Joss to twist it eventually, but for now, she falls firmly in the Bad Guys corner. I can almost sympathize with her, though -- second string is never fun, especially believing that, with the people who count, she will never be able to match Buffy in any way. And being evil isn't something that comes naturally to her -- not all of her crying on Angel's shoulder was a fake, it can't have been. Faith didn't enjoy killing the demon, and she truly wigged at the blood on her hands (and she was upset by the later irrevocable loss of her friendships with the Slayerettes). She just can't figure any other way out of Buffy's shadow than to become her opposite. "Since I cannot prove a lover, to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain, and hate the idle pleasures of these days...." (Richard III, Act I, Scene 1; Lizbet came up with the quote).

At least Angel managed to wig himself at least as much as he wigged us. Following his slip in 'Dopplegangland', about just how much of their former personalities vampires retain, it shouldn't be surprising that he manages to slip into Angelus' skin so easily. Sadistic, homicidal, arrogant as all hell -- he even got the truly obnoxious sense of humor right. But is the damage he managed to do to himself worth getting what information they did on the mayor, and determining Faith's place in the scheme of that? Not only playing Angelus, but playing him to Joyce, hitting Xander... well, okay, he probably didn't mind that one too much; he's been remarkably restrained in the face of some extreme provocation there. < g > But hitting Buffy (which is what convinced me, BTW; I wasn't sure he was really Angel until Faith started her monologue and I realized that Angelus 'I love to hear the sound of my own voice' had actually shut up. Dead giveaway, if you'll forgive the phrase. Where was I? Oh, yeah.) Hitting Buffy and then having to play Angelus about to torture her, knowing how damn close it was to what he'd actually done as Angelus was probably the worst possible thing he could have to do. No wonder he didn't protest when Buffy needed space -- he needs some serious recovery time himself, to deal with just how much he and Angelus still have in common.

But the whole masquerade wasn't a joyride for Buffy, either. Even knowing it was her plan, knowing all the time it was a charade, can't have made it any easier to look into Angel's eyes and see Angelus there again. On top of that, having to face that Faith has become a monster herself -- not up to Angelus' standards, by any means, but working hard at it -- adds betrayal to the memory of betrayal. There's a reason she needs time away from that particular set of memories.

Still, the hopeless romantic in me is deeply grateful for those last few lines. Instead of giving into the fear and bad memories that seem determined to rip them apart, Angel has the courage to ask, "You still my girl?" Lots of questions in that almost-silly sentence, huh? "Do you still trust me?" "Do you still love me?" "Are you still going to be there when I need you?" "Will you still come to me if you need me?" And no matter how complicated their lives get, it always seems to come down to that one simple answer -- "Always." The fact that both of them have accepted that is doing wonders for the angst level, it seems -- but is also going to make some things that much harder.

The mayor. Geeeez. You know, this guy's kids, assuming he has them, probably adore him -- he's *such* a daddy. Under different circumstances, he might even be exactly what Faith needs -- someone concentrating on her with humor and something resembling caring. Unfortunately, this caring nurturer is also a megalomaniacal, apparently immortal creature of the night. (And was anyone else have extreme Highlander flashbacks when Oz found that picture?) And for almost every daddy routine he throws at Faith, there is also a reminder of just where she falls on the food chain -- below him, and failure is not an option. He's scary.

Cordy, Cordy, Cordy. ... He's too old for you, he's a twit, and you're mostly only going after him to make Xander crazy. Which is working, but still... honey, you can do sooo much better. If Wesley moves to L.A. with the rest of this bunch, this could become interesting. For now, I really want to smack Cordy if she gets in Giles's face in favor of Wesley one more time. Of course, pretty soon now, Giles is going to save me the trouble and strangle her himself. Remember Giles, she's annoying, but she's one of yours. You can't kill her.

And Xander just is not having a fun time. Willow and Oz very firmly together, Buffy still with Angel despite all past badness, Cordy pawing Wesley in front of him -- and he gets decked by Angel and doesn't even have the comfort of gloating. And not being in on that particular bit of undercover work is going to leave him feeling even more isolated from the others, which they've been building up a bit since 'The Zeppo'. Which is backwards, but what the hey.

Wesley and Giles, by the way, continue to entertain. Wesley is more or less admitting that he and Giles are working together -- which is a huge step up -- and allowing Giles to more or less run things -- also a huge step up. And both of them are getting adjusted to working around the Council instead of with it. Better watch yourself, Wesley -- you start hiding things from the Council, you might also start doing things like thinking for yourself. Could get ugly.... Also love evidence of yet more of Giles' weird past. The man has the oddest friends and they show up at the damndest times. Gotta hear the story behind that particular bit of matchmaking -- fic, anyone?

Best Moments:
Meeting the demon in the graveyard. < giggle > The ressemblence to a leprechaun just made the whole bargaining routine more entertaining. And Giles's ongoing rant about demonic standards was a fun running gag.

The mayor giving Faith her nice big glass of milk. Apparently, they've seen Sarah's ads -- Milk. It does a Slayer good. Or bad. Depending on which side you're on.

Willow catching Giles out on the 'Ascension' reference. Not only does she know something he doesn't, she snuck it on the sly. I'm unsure whether to be more amused that Giles is actively trying to hide things from Willow, or that shy little Willow is so readily and unabashedly ignoring him to find what she wants.

Wesley and Cordy. Oy. Almost to the degree of being embarrassed on their behalfs, but also supremely silly.

The Demon doing his drop-dead-perfect impersonation of anyone at a rare book store or a comic convention. < g >

Actually, pretty much any scene with the mayor and Faith rocked. Really loved him trying to comfort her after she didn't manage to seduce Angel. Geeeez...

Willow and Buffy's conversation in the school lounge. Willow is hilarious trying to condemn Faith and defend Angel at the same time. And her "I give you leave to go," is terrific.

WEsley and Giles having their unsuccessful research party. Giles's whole attitude continues to change and deteriorate (well, the Council would see it that way -- I'm sure no one else does), and Wesley does make such a lovely snark target.

Xander finding the demon. < giggle > Willie the Snitch was an inspired invention.

Faith and Angelus's first confrontation ("As long as you're there, I mostly want you to wriggle."). Even hating his evil little guts, you have to admit the boy is entertaining in a sick, twisted, die-fiend kind of way.

Angel's wonderful, lovely, blessed-be "Second best". I'd figured it out about 30 seconds earlier, and was waiting for that!

"My debt to you is repaid." ROTFL! The expressions on the Slayerette's faces are priceless!!!!!!

The last scene, of course. < g > Very WAFFy and romantic in an angsty, painful sort of way.

Questions and Comments:
Angel hasn't been to a movie in how long? I would have though he'd like theatres -- nice, dark, anonymous, escapist. And whose good idea was a foreign flick, anyway?

They really needed to cast either Keith David (Goliath on Gargoyles) or Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as Desert Boy -- the voice just wasn't as deep and growling as it should have been for that whole 'Mysterious Magical Stranger' riff. Nice makeup and effects on the guy, though.

Not enough Oz, darn it. < pout > And what died in Seth's hair?

Along with loosening up regarding Watcher's duties, Giles is also apparently loosening up as Librarian Man. Since when does he let Willow sit right in the middle of the main table?

Rating: 4.5 of five. Great performance from David Boreanaz -- he always has so much fun as Angelus! Harry Groening and Eliza Dushku are outstanding and everyone holds up their end very nicely. Kudos to Joss for folling us on the Angelus thing even though we went into it repeating "It's a trick. It has to be a trick!"; do this to us again and the goat dies.


"On the other hand.. there's the horrifying, believable, sick fact that yup, Faith is definitely lost now. If they're going to redeem her, it's going to take something incredibly huge. She was ready to torture Buffy to death! This isn't anything I can excuse in my head with "well, she didn't know exactly what she was doing" or, "she's acting out and is incredible pain" or "she doesn't understand the consequences." I kept thinking that she would snap out of it, would come to her senses at some point and realize why she can't keep doing what she was doing... but it ain't gonna happen. Not by itself. Gee. Wonder what the Council's gonna say about this. "
"Guido, the Italian Watcher, comes to town, with a little "contract" from the CoW... "
"La Cosa Vaca? Gives a whole new meaning to "milking for information." -- Chris, Maureen and Betsy

"Faith is in pain, and she has gotten a sucky deal. But listening to her *justify* what she was doing to Buffy, based on jealousy and envy and a total inability to appreciate what she could have had (and what she _did_ have) with the Slayerettes before she blew it, all I could think was "nope. Not crazy. Just evil."
"Interesting. I was coming to the conclusion that "Wow, she really *is* crazy!" As opposed to "troubled", that is...she emerged last night, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as a full-fledged psychopath. I don't know as I'd call her "evil", especially not "just evil"; but then I don't believe in evil people, period, only evil actions. And yes, those seem to be the only kind Faith is taking these days. Which, oddly enough, makes me that much sadder for her--she's out to drag everyone else into the hell she lives in, and is clearly incapable of grasping that she doesn't have to be in hell." -- Chris and Valerie

"The most dangerous thing is that Faith has transferred everything onto Buffy as the symbol of everything she isn't, which is why the world hates her (so the "logic" goes), which makes it all Buffy's fault. If she's reached the point of reducing all the chaos in her head to "Buffy is the root of all evil", I have very little hope that she can be saved. She's hit bottom, and punched right through to where the people all walk with their heads downward. Doing *anything* for that would take years and hard work that I somehow suspect won't be an option. Sad to several orders of magnitude. Through all this, Eliza continues to blow my mind. This girl is 18 friggin' years old!!!! I find myself almost hoping Faith does get vamped, just 'cause we'd get to see her play it." -- Valerie

"I still enjoyed the Mayor non-stop throughout this whole thing. The scene with Angel was just... *neat*. I really wonder kind of place Sunnyhell is going to be like when he's done with it, or what he thinks it will be. Somewhere with lots of mini-golf, and no germs, and family values. No wonder that demon wanted a plane ticket to the dark side of the moon!" -- Chris

"Now the real icky question.... Did Faith and Angel do it? I'm having a hard time with this. And am praying Joss shows up to clear things up. Hopefully by saying no. Hopefully. Either way can be argues. But I refuse to believe they did it. I don't want to believe it. It's just icky!!"
"This is the big debate on the posting board. My vote is no, and not just because I think it would be too icky. (Although that's definitely a factor.) First: Faith would have *very explicitly* rubbed it in Buffy's face. "I'm more woman than you'll ever be," "Takes a real Slayer to know how to satisfy a demon like this," or *something* just totally unmistakable. She's too jealous of Buffy not to flaunt that ultimate betrayal in no uncertain terms. Second: I don't think Angel would have *had* to sleep with Faith to maintain the ruse. He could have basically done at the *end* of the mansion post-"transformation" scene what he did at the beginning--made out with her for awhile, then knocked her away and slapped her around, saying he wanted to find out who she worked for *now*. He could have made it believable without having sex with her, and I think the Angel we know would have only resorted to doing that if there were no other alternative. Third: ickyuckyookyBLECH!" -- Mary Beth and Gina

"I'm with Gina on that one, though-- Faith would have used it to taunt Buffy, and it was totally unnecessary on Angel's part. And, frankly, I think he'd #1- worry about the risks that the Romany _did_ get mistranslated there and he might indeed do himself some mortal damage that way, and #2- have basically the same "Eewwwwwww!" reaction we all did... considering he'd had plenty of time to see how far Faith had slid by that point. So, barring more proof, I'm saying no-way." -- Dianne, continuing the above debate

"The Cordelia-Wesley situation just gets weirder and weirder and... okay, yes, accent. Sure, cute (in an incredibly anal uptight prissy way). Yes, older guy. But, otherwise... hunh? He isn't anything she usually goes for! WUWT??"
"This is my most hated plot development. It's so obviously "something for Charisma to do" in between now and whatever the heck will happen to make her sign on with Angel. And it annoys me. It was funny.... once. Now it's just pathetic."
"Oddly enough, though, it's drawn her back into the gang, in a weird uncomfortable way. I realised that consciously last night, with "I'm in Wesley's group." -- "There's only one group." -- "Yes, and I'm in it." And while I find the whole thing incredibly distasteful, I have to admit it makes perfect Cordelia sense." -- Chris, Mary Beth and Valerie

"...it's total set-up for the next series. < sigh > Who was it who was talking about duplication and mitosis? I kept thinking about that last night - it's the *perfect* metaphor for what's happening to the show this season! We have all these extra characters running around (and whoever brought up Melrose Place on irc last night, thank you - *NOT*! I kept seeing seeing the scenes through a MP-colored filter, and it's just too weird), setting themselves up to split off and go on to the Angel series. I can only hope that once the split is done, BtVS will go back to being more of the show I first tuned in for, with the core gang." -- Maureen, continuing the above discussion (The discussions are getting too long!)

"Well, I don't much like the way Doug Petrie writes Xander. I don't much care for Petrie's dialogue in most cases. It falls flat... it's always a little off. As with Revelations, his story is good, and he breaks it down well.... with good twists and turns and some great emotional stuff. But he doesn't quite have the oomph of Joss or Marti. And it shows with Xander especially. But his reactions were good. Like you say.... I so wonder what Cordy would say if she knew Xander had "done it" with Faith already? She's have a stroke, I'm sure. It's like she's trying to get Wesley and rub Xander's face in it. Little does she know." -- Mary Beth

"And is anyone else starting to think that this germ thing is more than a quirk? Angel made a point of saying "So you can't be killed, but you hate germs." Maybe the flu will knock him out and they can stop him? Or a garbage strike? :-)" -- Mary Beth

"And then I realized -- oh, duh. Of course. The *real* Angelus would have killed Xander so he couldn't give any kind of warning. That was the only big clue we had)."
"Ooh... good point, the Real Angelus would have grabbed him and sucked him dry."
I've been thinking about this a bit more. It's a clue, but not an absolute dead giveaway. The Real Angelus liked to play with his food. After all, with the exception of :: snif :: Jenny, all of Buffy's friends survived a fairly long Reign o'Angelus (tm) with their necks neither fanged nor snapped...and it wasn't that he didn't have opportunities. So while it makes a good small hint, I don't think that it can *definitely* be said that the Real Angelus would have taken the time to kill him."
"But you have to admit that Angel probably *loved* punching his lights out. :-)"
":: snicker :: I rather enjoyed it myself." -- Chris, Mary Beth, Gina

"[RE: Angel enjoying punching Xander] At a level he'd rather not admit to, maybe. I'm sure Xander does get on his nerves, but mostly I think he would prefer being accepted to striking back, especially so physically. I also think maybe he didn't mean to give Xander *quite* so colorful a souvenir--they've been shifting back into the "Slayerettes as Angel's family" concept, which makes Xander the incredibly annoying younger brother you might knock the wind out of now and again, but whom you'd be horrified to send to the hospital." -- Valerie

"[On Faith] One could say that because they haven't let her do anything *totally* untake-back-able so far (killing the Mayor's henchman through carelessness and a demon through deliberate betrayal puts her on the dark side, but not beyond "redemption"), they're maybe holding out hope. But anything *truly* untake-back-able would also irreversibly change the series in other ways...i.e., if she'd actually tortured Buffy (but of course Angel could not have allowed that), killed someone we really care about (again, that would be pretty series-altering so the mere fact that she *hasn't* done it may be more a function of "we like our cast" than "we want to keep Faith redeemable), or something to that effect. I'm thinking the best she can hope for is epiphany and grand self-sacrificing kamikaze death in the season finale." -- Gina

"I _so_ bought it. I thought, right after the light show, "he can't be, it didn't take... right?" And then he grabbed Faith, and I lost it. At one point, can't remember when exactly, I wondered for about a tenth of a second if he was faking it, but then decided he wasn't, 'cause he was just *too* perfect of a totally evil asshole. *Then*... when he was locking up Buffy in the chains, I knew. So that when he said, "Second best" I said it along with him! Whoo, what a ride!" -- Maureen

"I'm going to take great pleasure in saying "I told you so!" I _knew_ she wasn't doing some undercover thing, she's just gone bad. What was so sick making in this episode, was how clear it is that she's *enjoying* going bad. She's gone all the way over to psychopath, in my opinion, and the only thing she can do now is die a good death to clear the way for another Slayer. And by good death, I mean one in which Buffy or one of the Scooby gang *doesn't* have to kill her, because that would just be too much trauma for them to have to handle. What you wnat to bet that when it comes to the final showdown, Angel is the one who kills her? *That* would be a hell of a reason for him to feel the need to leave town!" -- Maureen

"Well, to be honest, I'm more impressed in DB's skill in being not-quite-Angelus. (After all, DB also does Angelus, so being Angelus again would be a snap for him. :-) What was good was him being just Angelus-like enough to keep us seriously distressed, while giving away little tiny clues as he went along that there was something else under there." -- Dianne

"I have to admit that, even completely spoiler-less, I didn't buy it. Not because it couldn't have been true, but because I wouldn't believe it of Joss (it would have been such the repeat/cheat). I had quite a few, "You haven't *proved* to me that it's real yet!" moments where I was clinging on with my fingernails, but I hung in there. Basically, I ended up doing the same thing I did with Faith after she first showed up at the Mayor's office (with different results). I *wanted* to believe it was a ruse, so I kept watching _very_ closely for him to actually go over the line... and he never did. And there were all the little clues (although none of them were exactly *proof*, mind you!)-- not killing Faith outright at the beginning [Idiot child! Angelus=killer... and you're hanging around after the light show *why*???], slapping Xander down safely [if painfully] out of the way, even knocking Buffy cold [the whole point was to torture her, right? no point in doing that until she wakes up, so he's just bought himself some serious time before he actually has to start doing anything more than posturing for Faith]. " -- Dianne

"But *I* was convinced that he was the only one who knew it-- figuring the light show hadn't actually worked, but that Angel had survived it, and taken it as a chance to go undercover. The killer thing with believing that the whole time was that when he slapped down Buffy... well, I knew why, and I knew she'd understand why... but I also believed that she'd really never be able to get over it. (And, judging by how hard it was and the space she needed even when she knew the whole time, if she'd been thinking it was Angelus, I think I was right.) So, on that front it's a good that she knew, but I had the same feeling of cheat-- to have everyone (except, apparently, Xander) know about it all along and not let the audience in on any of it... and then to back that up by using Xander's return to the library to "prove" that the Scooby Gang was clueless... < shakes head >... yeah, it was a cheat. It would have been one thing of this was a one-man opportunitstic mole mission by Angel and no one else knew, but to have let pretty much everyone _but_ the audience and Faith in on it..." -- Dianne

"There was a clue in the form of an apparently continuity glitch--Buffy set out to go straight to Angel's and talk to him, Angel gets supposedly desouled and makes with the smoochies with Faith (at which point I too fully expected Buffy to show), we see Buffy and the gang at the library. Huh? After I found out that Buffy was not only in on the plan, but had *asked* Angel to do his part in it, I figured what we didn't see was that she got there before Faith. Which she did, but I forgot until reading the discussion this morning that it didn't explain how they knew about Creepy Guy and the spell. Glad you guys came through with the rationale on that one. ;-) It doesn't *totally* satisfy me--like I said, I think the whole thing with Creepy Guy was invented for the sole purpose of negating the necessity of Angel having sex with Faith--but maybe I can refine it after a rewatch. And if I still come to the conclusion that Creepy Guy was a CPD...well, I'll accept that for the sake of Angel's virtue. ;-) I'm not ready for this to become Nikita." -- Valerie

"He's certainly been interesting to watch ever since Wesley showed...actually, the catalyst was the "firing" by Mr. Smug Git in "Helpless". I thought the donut stuff in "The Zeppo" was odd, but he's been a little odd for Giles ever since--very flippant, very frequently, and that in his own way rather than "wow, has he been hanging around these kids too much". We seem to have this odd hybrid of Book Guy and Ripper lately, actually, with a dash of something that smells very like--but isn't quite--apathy. And when was the last time we saw him even wearing a jacket? He seems to be having this quiet identity crisis that's getting mostly overlooked in favor of more pressing matters. Anybody wanna bet it's leading somewhere interesting?"
"Giles is having *way* too much fun. No longer in an official position, he's free to be himself for, perhaps, the first time in his life. While I agree with Val's "quiet identity crisis" line, I think he's going to come out stronger on the other side for finding out who *he* is, without the crutches of, "Member of the Council", "Watcher to the Slayer," etc, etc." -- Valerie and Lizbet

"The Mayor's office scene also contains nicely planted hints, again both in direction, script and performance. Kudos to David here; as I look at it again, those are *Angel's* facial expressions, for the most part."
"Yeah, you're right. The look on his face when the Mayor pulls out the letter opener - pure Angel! Angelus would never let himself be so startled, or at least would never show it." -- Gina and Maureen

"Definite props to David...for a long time, despite my lust for him/Angel, I had to agree that he was by far the weakest actor on the show. He's still a long way from taking Tony Head in straight sets, but he's showing serious ability. And I'm beginning to believe he *could* carry his own show." -- Gina

"...I just now realized Faith's never seen Angelus! That's right, isn't it? My mind is suddenly going blank on when Faith came to town. But if *Faith* has never seen the Bad Boy From Hell(mouth), it's going to be a lot easier for him to pull it off for her. He just has to be sufficiently vampire-ish, without going full-bore Angelus-psycho, and she'll buy it. You know, that also explains why Angel was saying at the end that he hadn't wanted it to go so far. He probably - more fool him - thought he could let the demon run just enough to fool Faith, but still keep him reined in enough to keep it from getting too nasty. I think he not only wigged Buffy, I got the impression he wigged himself more than a little with what he wound up doing, in the name of the "role" he was playing." -- Maureen

"Faith has obviously been through a horrible childhood. I can't imagine some of the things she's gone through. But she's been given chance after chance. She's been reached out to by all of them, save prehapsWillow--the kindest of them all, the one who always all of them, save prehapsWillow--the kindest of them all, the one who always tried to bring Angel out of his shell and who held out hope for him the longest save Buffy. Perhaps we should have been listening to her all along? Time after time Faith's been given chances to turn it around. And she's even used the gang's generosity against them, trying to seduce Angel. And all she's done is sink deeper and deeper. I said when Faith first turned, at what point do you let go? At what point do you consider someone a lost cause? When she joins forces with the devil himself? When she sells you & your secrets out to him? When she tries to kill your friend in a moment of blind fury? When she sets up your best friend for death? When she "steals" your boyfriend's soul and revels in the pain it's causing you? When she spares your life, yet marks you with a Judas kiss? It's hard to give up on people. If we do, aren't we really only playing into evil's hands? Maybe. But if we don't let them go, we're setting ourselves up for pain, exposing a weakness. Faith's gone rogue. She's a broken girl, with a dark and damaged soul. Call that evil. Call it lost. Whatever, I'm letting Faith go. I don't like her, in fact, it's safe to say I hate her. But I also feel sorry for her. I think she's gone too far. I think Buffy is letting her go, too. An opportunity may present itself.... for her to atone for what she's done. But that will hardly save her. And I won't count on it happening. And neither will Buffy. She can't. " -- Mary Beth

"Another point that's been made: The Mayor is going to hurt her *bad*. You thought Mrs. Post hurt? He's the only person to accept her for who she is. And he's going to turn on her.... Big Time.... it's what happenes then that will be interesting. Will it break her? Very possibly." -- Mary Beth

"More "clues" I noticed after rewatching: When Buffy & Faith went to Goat Boy's apartment. Faith reached behind her and turned on the light. WITHOUT LOOKING (Goat Boy had turned it on when Faith was there, a move that struck me as a tad odd... but not odd enough to notice *why* until second viewing) *AND* Buffy noticed it. She may not have trusted Faith before, but she had help out hope. This was the beginning of the end." -- Mary Beth

"As in, just now, when I read the phrase "let the demon run just enough" I got a MAJOR frisson. Shows how easy it is to forget (if you're not him, and maybe to a certain extent if you are) that every moment of his life is a fight to keep that thing in its box. This tracks with my feeling that the wallop he gave Xander was a little overly--would be interesting to see how the two of them deal(t) with it at next encounter, if they weren't both such Guys that they probably simply didn't/won't. This was a very sharp reminder to Buffy (obviously, by her aftermath wiggedness) and to Angel (less obviously, being Angel) that just *having* his soul isn't a guarantee that the demon can't ever have any sway. Especially when, being the "merged being" he is, it's got to be hard for him to tell sometimes where the demon impulses end and the human ones begin. I'm thinking it took advantage of the loosened leash to slip some things past his radar in a seriously wigworthy manner." -- Valerie

"There's just something about Harry Groener's delivery that raises it just that one step above ridiculous that it needs to be. He's equally honest when he talks about family values and destroying the world. The ultimate conservative rightie." -- Lizbet

"The pain at the end was from Buffy seeing Angel act that way again. "It was an act" she said. And it was too good. Angelus is the one thing that's hurt her more than anything. Both because of what he did and because she created him. He's not as far gone as she thought he was.They had started to become too complacent again. Seeing what *could* happen brought it home again. For both of them. A break is a good thing. But it won't be enough. They'll find their way together again..... but they'll have to realize that they will always find their way together unless enough distance separates them to make it more difficult. They'll be bound together forever, their love *is* eternal. That's not in question. But they can not continue near each other." -- Mary Beth

"Joss, in one scene, gave us "Always" .... while showing us "never." And I hate him for it." -- Mary Beth

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