Mon
Jul 30 2012 1:00pm

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Rewatch: The Do That Girl Girl, The Do That Girl

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Enemies

“Enemies” opens with Buffy and Angel coming down from a surprise encounter with erotica in film. The two of them are aroused, but thwarted by that darn gypsy curse. So, instead of a kickin’ fight, we get a sterile, low-key chat about their doomed romance and not-so-sexy celibacy situation.

(I’ve written about abstinence porn in last summer’s post about V.C. Andrews and Twilight, “Sick Sex Smackdown,” and I suppose this is another form of same, but it doesn’t really read. The Angel/Buffy ’safe as houses’ kiss is chemistry free, as far as I’m concerned.)

Anyway, Faith shows, needles Buffy about the pointlessness of her love choices, and then whoopsie daisy! A nice demon falls through the big hole in the Buffyverse worldbuilding. He’s wearing a T-Shirt that says “Srsly, Whistler wasn’t an exception—not all demons are totes bad!” (You missed this because it was inscribed in mysterious magical implications and not actual English, but I am pretty sure it’s there.) Anyway, this particular lovable horned cousin of the devil has come into crucial intelligence on the Mayor. And boy is he keen to sell it and blow town.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Enemies

Faith, naturally, runs to Wilkins with the news, where she gets milk, nurturance and her first official hit assignment. Kill the guy and steal the books, honey, for the win! Don’t forget your calcium! Richard Wilkins III, I continue to totally heart you.

Team Buffy, meanwhile, decides they’ll just bully the books out of the target. The implication is they’ll get Faith to whale on him a little, which seems kind of mean. 

Alas for all involved, Faith gets the address first. She spills affable demon entrails all over his crummy carpet, spelling out the important message: “Nice Spawn of Satan finish last, chump.”

Then, for bonus marks and seemingly out of nowhere, she uses her semi-faked guilt and trauma to try to get Angel into the sack. This doesn’t work, but Buffy sees it all happen and gets bummed and jealous. Faith is disappointed too, because, you know, no sex. 

The Mayor, ever practical, decides that if Faith can’t rid Angel of his soul the old-fashioned way, maybe a mage can just yank it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Enemies

Next day, Buffy and Willow discuss Angel’s faithfulness. Among the many wonderful BFF scenes between these two, this is one of my favorites. Willow sees what’s going on so very clearly, and she doesn’t let Buffy wallow.  And how can you not love a scene with a line like “I too know the love of a taciturn man”?

After watching “Enemies,” I had to do something that rarely happens with BtVS stories: parse out the chain of cause and effect in this episode. What I figure is at this point Buffy doesn’t know what’s up. There’s no reason whatsoever for her to lie-whine to Willow—who would never confide in Faith. And if she already knew of the Mayor’s plan, she wouldn’t be upset and jealous. So this means that there are three unaired missing scenes that take place right after Willow says “I give you leave to go.” One’s where Giles hooks up with the Mage and gets the whole sordid story about the Mayor, Faith, and the soul-snatching plan. The third is where Buffy and Angel maturely sort things out between them and then cook up their foolin’ Faith plan.

(The second? That’s where some combination of Scoobies thinks to check that Wesley isn’t eavesdropping on them this time before they figure out what to do.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Enemies

By now our rogue slayer has orbited back to Angel. There’s to, there’s fro, there’s woe and guilt and rejection. She throws blood on him, magic fills the air, and it does all seem to render nobody’s favorite vampire free of angst and light on soul. Angelus and Faith get some quick facetime with the Mayor and there’s a simultaneous Scooby meeting, too. The latter results in a decision to break in to City Hall. Also, Buffy plays Wes and us by being broody about Angel.

But the big payoff for all this stuff seen and stuff behind-the-scene is when Angelus and Faith grab Buffy. We get distasteful Angelus/Faith smoochies, violence, chains, and squicky torture threats. In time, Faith cuts loose with a big angry monologue about how it sucks not being Slayer Prime—this is someone who really hasn’t critically assessed Buffy’s quality of life over the past three years—and how, when and where the Mayor’s gonna fix everyone’s wagon but good.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Enemies

And then Buffy gives her the gotcha.

“Enemies” is, overall, pretty plotty. We get all these revelations about the Ascension and even though there’s so much shouting and kissing and scrambling around doing stuff, the fact that the clues are gift wrapped by a cuddly demon and a romantically-minded mage means really the knowledge has just sort of dropped into the Scoobies’ collective lap. What does shine through is the growth in team resourcefulness that’s occurred since Buffy first arrived in Sunnydale. The Scoobies are a lean, mean, investigation team at this point, capable of rapidly putting together a con on a turncoat, faking out Wesley, and digging up crucial info all at once.

But, like that opening kiss between Buffy and Angel, the emotional arc of this episode rings false. We all know—all we knew by then—that Angel had one foot out the door, that he was going on to bigger and Spinoff things. So “Enemies” is meant to feel all, “She loves him, she wants him, she can’t have him, and then he gives her an excruciatingly painful reminder as to why.” Instead it’s more like one of Lex and Clark’s many Smallville break-ups. For me, it’s like they’re both checking their watches and counting the minutes until the next shift in mood.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Enemies

So while the “Are you my girl?” / “Always” exchange between Buffy and Angel is meant to be the saddest thing ever, and the two actors really try to sell it as such, it leaves me with an overall feeling of: just go already, Angel!

How about all of you?


A.M. Dellamonica has two novelettes up here on Tor.com. First up: an urban fantasy about a baby werewolf, “The Cage” which made the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2010. There’s also “Among the Silvering Herd.” In October, watch for a novelette, “Wild Things,” that ties into the world of her award winning novel Indigo Springs and its sequel, Blue Magic.

20 comments
Constance Sublette
1. Zorra
The first time I saw it, it was with bated breath and pounding heart and wtf? o thank goodness ooolalala.

Having seen it a few times now I am more struck by what an old school pulp kind of good guys and villains this segment was -- probably the same thing as you saying it is "plotty," all that going on that we don't see because it's done behind Faith's back.

Love, C.
Gardner Dozois
2. Gardner Dozois
The biggest problem I've always had with this episode is that I find it impossible to believe that Faith would accept that Angel had turned unless he'd gone ahead and had sex with her when they were rolling around on the floor together, which it certainly looked like they were about to do. Things said later on ANGEL, when they were trying to weasel around the terms of "the curse" a bit, indicate that Angel MIGHT have been able to have sex with Faith without turning into Angelus, apparently it's not having sex per se but having the One Perfect Moment Of Happiness That Comes From Having Sex With One You Truly Love (if you dislike the bitch, apparently it's okay to fuck her), but it's as hard to see Buffy going along with that part of the plan as it is to see Faith accepting that Angel's turned without it.

The double switch here--that Angel is pretending to turn to trap Faith into an admission, but really hasn't turned, and that Giles is apparently Old School Buddies or something with the demon or sorcerer or whatever he is that the Mayor sends to steal Angel's soul--are enjoyably effective the first time you see the episode, but really stretch credulity too far, particularly the Giles-just-happening-to-be-owed-a-favor by the thing sent to steal Angel's soul part. And you're right about the scenes that must logically have been there that they left out in order to keep you in suspense and then surprise you at the end. A bit more manipulative of the audience than they usually were.

Not quite as much of a wheel-spinner as the previous episode, since the Scoobies find out that Faith is now playing for the other team, and I believe that this is supposed to be the point where both Buffy and Angel realize that their relationship is doomed and they'd both be better off if Angel left Sunnydale to, oh, perhaps start a spin-off show of his own or something.
Alyx Dellamonica
3. AMDellamonica
Zorra, you're right: they didn't hide stuff from this character and the audience very often. It's structured a bit like an episode of Leverage. ("Let's go steal us a rogue slayer.")

Gardner: yes--the more I rewatch this series, the more amazed I am by how much careful set-up some of the episodes required... and how sometimes the monster of the week was just a little hand-wave to keep us entertained while they did the heavy lifting. Wheel-spinners indeed. (I love this term!)

This isn't a bad thing, mostly--the setting up usually involved believable and interesting character stuff. In the case of Angel leaving, though, maybe this isn't so true.
Gardner Dozois
4. Alfvaen
Yeah, this was definitely my least favourite third-season episode. (When I watched this the series was already over, but I don't know if I knew when Angel was leaving...) Not the dullest title, though, I believe that honour goes to "Choices"...
Genevieve Williams
5. welltemperedwriter
I always thought Buffy and Angel's relationship was a bit odd in this one, since it occurs after "Lover's Walk" which seems to conclude with their acknowledgement (or Buffy's, anyway) that they can never be together. It's been awhile since I watched the show, so maybe I missed something, but it struck me as strange, or like maybe they were in denial.
Gardner Dozois
6. Saladin
Here's how I figure it: around the time the mage made the deal with the Mayor, he stopped by to say hi to Giles and the two hatched their plan. Giles went to Angel and asked him to fake Angelus for recon, and didn't let Buffy in on it until it was obvious that they were planning to go after her. So she probably found out right after Xander came in to complain about the punching.
john mullen
7. johntheirishmongol
I did think the first episode mentioned had Faith really going all the way over to the dark side, but I did think the kill itself was pretty unnecessary. Why wouldn't the Mayor pay his bills? It isn't as if he was going to need a lot of cash once he ascended.

For the second episode, there was a lot of Buffy/Angel angst going on but that was ok. I am still way more of a B/A fan than a B/S fan. Maybe it's the romantic in me. I did think it was amusing that Faith got played.
Gardner Dozois
8. Gardner Dozois
I always liked the fake Angelus's line as he casually punched Xander, "I never did like that guy." All the funnier for to some extent being true.
Alyx Dellamonica
9. AMDellamonica
Welltempered--Denial's not a completely hard-to-believe thing. They definitely knew that what they wanted and what they could have were two different things.

Interesting, Saladin--I always assumed Buffy was in on it as soon as the mage talked to Giles.

I'm not sure I'm much of a Buffy/Spike shipper either... it'll be interesting to see how that arc grabs me this time through.

Gardner--yeah! An opportunity to get Xander out of the way and be honest about his feelings without losing his soul! Win win for Undercover Angel.
Emma Rosloff
10. emmarosloff
I'm hopping in a little late here, but agreed that I was ready for Angel to move on at this point. But it did one good thing -- it established that their feelings for each other would never fade, they'd just be tucked away. That they could never truly have closure. This resulted in several good moments throughout both series where one would make an appearance and the other would be forced to cope with keeping those feelings down. And you'd be reminded, all over again, that just because they can't be together, doesn't mean they wouldn't be in a heartbeat, if things were different. Like I've said, Joss loves to twist the knife, and he does it so well.

Personally, I'm a Buffy/Spike fan, but not because Spike's a better choice for her or even because their coming together is in anyway copasetic (I would say Riley was the best choice, if we're gauging under those terms). Spike's stalkerish, manipulative, violent, and more or less gets his soul on accident when he's determined to find a way to kill her at last. I just think James Marsters is a better actor than David Boreanaz... and I was riveted watching Spike's subtle transformation over time. To me, he's the epitome of bad guy gone good (because really, he's a good guy, gone bad guy gone good again, if you recall him as a poetry spouting, mother loving, hopelessly romantic human). Next to his arc, Angel's didn't-have-a-choice-in-the-matter Jeckyll/Hyde dynamic (however well he pulls it off) feels a little stitled to me, honestly.

But I'm not trying to dis Angel; he certainly has his own charm -- loved (the majority of) the spin-off, and his 'Batman-in-L.A.' detective agency. Particularly since I'm an L.A. native.
Alyx Dellamonica
11. AMDellamonica
I'm pretty hard on Angel here, I know. It's a tough thing with superheroines... finding them a 'worthy' suitor is a difficult task.
Gardner Dozois
12. RichieB
@7 The mayor probably wanted him killed because selling the info on who had bought the books was probably next on the demon's 'to do' list.
Gardner Dozois
13. Gardner Dozois
Which brings up the intriguing but unanswerable question: If Buffy could pick one of her ex-lovers for a night of Wild Passion with no consequences whatsoever (Angel wouldn't turn into Angelus), who would she choose? She ever really only had sex with Angel once (in this universe, anyway, since Angel erases the reality in the ANGEL episode in which they get back together), but she clearly has deep feelings for him. She had sex with Spike more frequently, but her feelings for him never seemed to be as deep and were never unconflicted--she longed for Angel, but she felt guilty and ashamed about sleeping with Spike, although that didn't stop her from keeping on doing it. She had the most sex of all with Riley, and so theoretically knew him the best as a lover, certainly having had the most practice with him, but you never got the feeling that her love for him was really as deep as her feelings for Angel or even for Spike.

My guess would be that she'd pick Angel--if only because she could enjoy herself with him for a night without having to worry about him turning Evil, and so get to fullfill a lot of her old girlhood dreams and longings.
Emma Rosloff
14. emmarosloff
She'd pick Angel, for the sheer fact that they only slept together once. He's forbidden to her -- and it's truly what she always wanted. To be with him. I'd say she had more physical chemistry with Spike, but, they've had sex a fair amount already (and let's be honest -- he'd lay down for her in a heartbeat!). Whereas the intensity of her longing for Angel and vice versa literally drove them to seperate cities indefinitely. As for Riley, well... he's always been the healthiest choice, but like Spike said around the time that Riley was starting to doubt... 'She likes a little monster in her man'.

I get why she's ashamed of her relationship with Spike -- it's so clear that she's just using him to feel something again (the irony being, of course, that he's dead). But unlike her attraction to Angel, no soul there to justify it, just a chip that can't change the fact that he's still evil and souless underneath, as much as she might make him feel like he can change.

What I find interesting is that Angel was a total lout when he was still a human, and something of a womanizing drunk... whereas Spike was far more tame, even good-hearted -- and when they were both souless, Angelus's sins far outweighed Spike's (although I guess Spike did kill those two Slayers... but you got the sense he was overcompensating). They even address this in the last season of Angel, when Spike admits that Angelus just wanted a partner in crime -- wanted to find another vampyre as sick and twisted as him, so Spike did his best to live up to that expectation, but Angelus was truly the more deviant of the two. Like a younger brother living in his older brother's shadow.

So you have to wonder, if something else had caused Spike's soulful transformation and Buffy had encountered him decades later, how he (and his sins) would measure up at that point, particularly when compared with Angel (and you know, that pesky curse). Would she be more inclined to give Spike a real chance? I mean, do you honestly think that if Angelus had had the chip implanted in his head that he would've slowly started to switch sides? No fricken' way. He would've found a way to manipulate the situation to make them to take it out. Hm... but maybe that's what titilates Buffy so much. That the monster in him is so terrifying.

Either way, good storytelling!
Gardner Dozois
15. Gardner Dozois
Buffy had far more sex with Riley than with either Angel or Spike, so much in fact where there was an episode where they did nothing BUT have sex from one end of the episode to the other, and that in fact was what was fueling the menace (one of the stupider episodes of that season, actually)--but I still get the feeling that Riley would be chosen a distant third behind Angel and Spike. There was something kind of dull about Riley. As Spike said, accurate as Spike usually was about what was really going on in relationships, "She likes a little monster in her man.

What annoys me a little is that Spike went through horrible torments and risked his life so that he could be "resouled" so that he could be good enough for Buffy, and after all that, she still couldn't get by the fact that he'd done horrible things in his past--although she had no trouble getting by that with Angel, who'd done worse things. As Spike says in the last season of Angel, he'd FOUGHT to get his soul back, as a choice, whereas Angel had his soul forced upon him against his will, as a punishment.

Still think there's little doubt that Buffy would pick Angel for her One Night of Passion, though.
Emma Rosloff
16. emmarosloff
You're preaching to the choir, here -- of the two, I'd pick Spike, hands down, but it's important to remember Buffy's type -- she's a self-righteous goodie underneath it all, and so is Angel, at least, in his current iteration. He has the 'my life is devoted to the cause' thing going on about as hardcore as Buffy does. While Spike may be learning, it's not his go-to -- he tends to be more self-serving, more crass. Now, that's what I like about him, but let's face it, no matter what she's been through, Buffy remains a little uptight, as does Angel. One could argue that they're too alike, that someone like Spike is good for Buffy to (literally and figuratively) loosen up, but people don't always change when you want them to.

Of course, by the end of Angel it's clear she's moved on from them both (and so has Sarah Michelle Gellar, at least... according to my boyfriend who was an avid fan of the show when it was on... apparantly at that time she refused to make appearances on Angel because she was trying to put distance between her and the Buffy character to start her 'movie career' ).
Gardner Dozois
17. Gardner Dozois
I see that worked out well for her. I think her most recent TV series has died, too.

That episode of last-season ANGEL, where Angel and Spike chase Buffy around Italy, making total fools of themselves, would have worked much better if Sarah Michelle Geller had actually been in it.

Don't follow the comic-book continuity, so I'm not sure who she's supposed to end up with after the TV series ended.
Gardner Dozois
18. Dr. Thanatos
Gardner,

Per the comic books she spent a little time "experimenting" and giving Willow some competition---there apparently was some Angeling but (and I'm not clear on this as there's one volume I missed) this caused "the birth of a new universe that really wanted to have Mommy and Daddy all to itself and therefore wanted to destroy the current universe." Talk about kids killing the relationship...
Gardner Dozois
19. Gardner Dozois
So she was able to noodle around with Angel without him turning into Angelus? Guess sleeping with her doesn't give him a "moment of perfect happiness" anymore.

For that matter, how did Angel and Spike escape the series-ending Apocalypse, where it certainly looked like they were all about to be killed?
Gardner Dozois
20. Dr. Thanatos
There was an Angel graphic novel where LA was sealed off as a demon-bubble; didn't see how they got out of that...

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