Title: Pretty, Dark Hair, Kills Things
Spoilers: Through Buffy S3, plus two very brief mentions of S6 and S7 eps
Email: nikitangel at gmail dot com
Website: My Fanfic
Note: Here is Part Two (still analyzing Buffy S3). Footnotes take up where Part One left off.
I guess that means you have a job opening. -- Faith’s defection to the Mayor’s side is probably the first thing people think of when they hear her name. She “went evil,” after all. She became a Bad Guy. There are some diehard Faith fans who maintain that it was all a ruse at first, an undercover job designed to get information on the Mayor, but I think we owe it to the character to consider the alternative. What would it take to push her in this direction, and how certain was she when she got there? Some people argue that Faith went to the Mayor because he appreciated her and treated her well. This is logically impossible, since she couldn’t have known how he would react. It’s likely the reason she stayed with him, but her reasons for joining him remain murky. At best, we can posit that she was finally fulfilling her “destiny” to be bad. Her childhood bombarded her with admonitions of being useless, being bad, and “ending up dead or alone or a loser.” Despite her best efforts to the contrary, she’s ended up right where they all said she would be, so why not take that last step?
Just don't mark the box that says, 'I sometimes like to kill people.' -- From this point on, Faith’s designation as “crazy” seems to be set with the Sunnydale crowd. Her accidental killing of Finch becomes “sometimes liking to kill people”, and Buffy jokes about her not being on the cover of “Sanity Fair.” Even while professing to be supportive, Buffy and the Scoobies emotionally distance themselves from Faith. Faith, too, is unsure of how to handle the new situation. She (unconvincingly) wishes Buffy good luck on the Council’s physical tests, and though she reports Willow’s activities to the Mayor, is uneasy when he mentions killing the girl. As always, Faith is struggling to find her identity and place in the world.
No Slayer of mine is gonna live in a fleabag hotel. -- “Doppelgangland” marks the beginning of the complex relationship between Faith and Mayor Richard Wilkins. For the first time in her life, Faith is valued as a unique and useful person. She is given gifts without having to reciprocate sexually (in fact, her attempts to do so are rebuffed, the Mayor insisting that he’s a family man). She is cared for and looked after by a parental figure. Her behaviour in the apartment is very childlike – she dashes back and forth, jumps on the bed, etc. This continues on through “Graduation Day, Part Two,” when Buffy finds her eating candy, reading comics and listening to loud music. The apartment gives Faith the opportunity to live out the “normal” teen-age years she never had. No longer relegated to the “poor side”, as she described her location in “FH&T,” Faith now has a view of the entire town. Her apartment is above the movie complex in Sunnydale (the back of the SUN Cinema sign is visible through the window), a location that ends up playing a significant role in “Graduation Day, Part One.” All this in exchange for spying on people she resents anyway. For Faith, life is good.
You know what I wish? I wish you'd pull your hair back. I know, I know, fashion's not exactly my thing, but, gosh darn it, you know, you've got such a nice face. I can't understand why you hide it. -- Life is still precarious, however. In the same “Enemies” conversation in which the Mayor compliments Faith’s beauty, he cheerfully makes an ominous threat about the consequences of Faith “failing” him. (“Replacing Mr. Trick was chore enough”). On a more meta note, Faith really did replace Mr. Trick. Trick was intended to be the official Mayor sidekick of the season, but the necessary chemistry never happened between the actors, so Eliza’s short-term contract was extended and she became a villain. In any case, such a fragile foundation surely leaves Faith feeling somewhat vulnerable, even as she basks in the safety of the Mayor.
Mind if I skip past the 'mom never loved me' part and get right to it? -- In her first real assignment for the Mayor, Faith kills a very human-like demon who had been offering to sell the Books of Ascension. She freaks and runs to Angel’s mansion, confessing and asking for help. It’s clearly part of a ruse, an attempt to seduce Angel and bring about the return of Angelus, but it’s easy to see how many of her statements are based in truth. She’s walking a fine line here and running on adrenaline. We have to assume the Mayor knows the terms of Angel’s “soul clause”, and how unlikely it is that a tryst with Faith would invoke it. Was Faith sent on this mission in an attempt to further divide her from the Scoobies? Angel’s rejection certainly cements her resentment of Buffy.
Faith and Angel? Together? / Imagine the possibilities. -- A new plan in hand, Faith returns to Angel’s to “apologize” for her overtures the previous night. The sincerity of the pain in her voice is clear when she says that Angel doesn’t trust her, but she presses on and gives him good reason for his hesitation. She helps a Mage cast a spell on Angel to remove his soul. Of course, she doesn’t realize that it’s all a set-up at this point. Angel “becomes” Angelus and joins Faith in working with the Mayor.
I never knew you had so much rage in you. -- Angel and Faith succeed in luring Buffy to the mansion and Angel pretends to chain her up. He and Buffy sit back and let Faith rant, hoping to get some information out of her. We are treated to a lot of insight on Faith’s motivations. In fact, her words deserve direct transcription:
You know, I come to Sunnydale. I'm the Slayer. I do my job kicking ass better than anyone. What do I hear about everywhere I go? Buffy. So I slay, I behave, I do the good little girl routine. And who's everybody thank? Buffy.
Everybody always asks, why can't you be more like Buffy? But did anyone ever ask if you could be more like me?
You get the Watcher. You get the mom. You get the little Scooby gang. What do I get? Jack squat. This is supposed to be my town!
Do you think you're better than me? Do you? Say it, you think you're better than me.
None of this is really news to us, though. We’ve seen these emotions from the beginning, and Faith’s impassioned outbursts in “Enemies” only serve to confirm them. To Faith, she never had a chance in Sunnydale. This is her opportunity to rage against the injustice of it all.
What are you gonna do, B, kill me? You become me. You're not ready for that, yet. -- This episode holds the true revelation for Faith. When she realizes she’s been deceived, the betrayal cuts deep. “You played me!” she says twice, disbelieving. Even after switching sides, she’s still second fiddle to Buffy. She’s still not good enough. Added to that is the humiliation of being tricked. She can’t help but picture the laughs Buffy and Angel must have over her gullibility and her ridiculous belief that Angel could ever want her. She and Buffy trade a series of blows ending in an impasse, each with a blade at the other’s throat. Faith finally kisses Buffy on the forehead and runs off, the last vestiges of her White Hat role in tatters behind her.
Chin up! You don't see me looking disappointed. Heck, no. You know why? Because I know you'll always have me, Faith. I'm the best, the most important friend you'll ever have. -- When the dust of “Enemies” settles, Faith is now firmly on the Mayor’s side. Any suggestion that she’s working undercover is no longer applicable. It’s just Faith and the Mayor now, but he lives up to the task. The small moment they share after he suggests miniature golf is one of the more telling of their relationship. The script was written such that Faith would give the Mayor an incredulous look. Eliza played it that way, but added a smile and endearing glance at the end. She truly cares for this man, no matter what else is going on. The relationship is not one-sided.
If Buffy Summers walked in here and said she wanted to switch to our side, I'd say, [snaps his fingers] ‘No thanks, sister, I've got all the Slayer one man could ever need.’ -- “Choices” treats us to further Faith/Mayor interaction. He takes genuine pleasure in giving her a Jackal knife, and reprimands her when she gets a little too cocky and complains about being sent on errand. The father/daughter dynamic is incredibly strong. We see Faith take the gift and further push her boundaries, using it to cut off the hand of a demon courier and pocket his fee. She is later rewarded for her initiative, blossoming under the Mayor’s praise. We can clearly see she is still smarting over the events of “Enemies”, but the Mayor reassures her of his satisfaction with her work.
I know that some people think you had a lot of bad breaks. Well, boo hoo! Poor you. You know, you had a lot more in your life than some people. I mean, you had friends in your life like Buffy. Now you have no one. You were a Slayer and now you're nothing. You're just a big selfish, worthless waste. -- Interaction between Faith and Willow has been tense almost since the beginning, but when Willow is held hostage by the Mayor, we see the results. Faith mocks her, assuming she will try to lure Faith back to the Good Guys. Instead, Willow hurls invectives at her, each one a pointed barb going straight to the heart of Faith’s insecurities. In defense, Faith throws her relationship with the Mayor in Willow’s face. She isn’t alone anymore – she’s got someone.
Raise your hand if you're invulnerable. -- The interesting thing about the hostage exchange in “Choices” is Faith’s slaying of the spider creature that skittered out of the Box of Gavrok. It climbs up the wall behind Wesley before Faith hurls her knife at it. Ostensibly, Faith saves Wesley’s life. She’s thrown for a moment after that, just staring, and it takes two calls from the Mayor to get her moving again, looking back wistfully at her knife. It’s possible she just didn’t want the spider coming after her, and killing it quickly was the answer. It’s also possible that her protective instincts are more instinctive than she’d like to believe. Similarly, we still don’t know the motivations behind Faith saving Buffy’s life at the end of “Consequences.” Is it merely a matter of degree? That she was just working up to the taking of human life? In any case, it isn’t long before Faith crosses a new line.
I'm not from the college. I work for Mayor Wilkins. I'm Faith. -- Faith’s stabbing of Professor Wirth is the first time we see Faith murder a human. Manslaughter of Finch, yes, but until Wirth, Faith has intentionally killed only demons. We could mark this is another turning point for her. Whatever justifications or defenses she might be subconsciously harboring, there is no way to spin this one. She’s “evil” now, just like everyone thought. Her final words in the scene (“You know, I never thought to ask [why]”) are significant. She’s blindly following the Mayor, with total confidence in him. She’s a dangerous weapon in his hands.
Nobody knows what you are. Not even you, little Miss Seen-it-all. -- “Graduation Day, Part One” contains the most father-ly scene thus far. The Mayor buys Faith a pretty pink dress and convinces her to try it on. His words to her (“I think of what you've done, what I know you will do - no father could be prouder”) are sincere. He isn’t just playing her. Faith’s honest admission that she’s nervous about letting him down is extremely important in showing the depth of their relations. The love is real, and that’s what makes these two such lasting villains. However twisted their actions, the relationship and emotions are real, and we can relate to that.
So you'll still need me in there. / Always. -- The poignant exchange between Faith and the Mayor before the Ritual of Gavrock is a nice peek at their easy dynamic. Within the space of one conversation, Faith mentions her past twice, both times bringing up fond memories. The Mayor reassures her that he’ll always need her, something Faith has probably never heard in her life. It’s almost sad to watch, knowing that their status as Bad Guys means that the end is nigh.
I can't kill her, fun as it may sound. I can make her cry Uncle, though, and I mean to. -- Faith’s attack on Angel with the poison arrow is the one action guaranteed to bring on Buffy’s wrath. It’s a clever plan, something that will keep Buffy distracted, rather than full of rage had Faith killed him outright. And this way, Faith gets to inflict a little more well-deserved (in her mind) pain on the two of them. Even if Angel were to survive (and it would be entirely within Faith’s conception of Buffy’s golden life that they would find a cure), the resulting situation could drive a wedge in the relationship, something far more satisfying for Faith than simple death. It’s this focus on Angel that prompts Buffy to change her “no killing Faith” policy from the beginning of the episode. Faith invites her to “give us a kiss,” harking back to their parting scene in “Enemies.” What follows is one of the more impressive fight sequences in Buffy history.
Shoulda been there, B, quite a ride. -- That sequence, of course, leads to Buffy stabbing Faith in the gut with her own knife. Faith’s reaction to seeing the knife, and the Mayor’s eventual reaction, both point to the heavy meaning the object has for the two of them. The knife is just one more thing in Faith’s life that Buffy has taken from her. Both of them are surprised when Buffy makes her move, but Faith’s reaction is both disbelieving and impressed, tinged with a sense of pride. Perhaps there is some satisfaction in this for her, some vindication about the darkness of Buffy’s nature in the end. Faith’s last conscious act of Season Three is throwing herself off the building, securing a suitably dramatic exit for herself and denying Buffy and Angel the healing nature of her blood. The girl who was used by everyone during her lifetime chooses a different end for herself.
She's going to be all right. She'll be all right. She'll be all right. -- Of course, it’s not the end for Faith. Slayer constitution leaves her alive, but in a coma. The Mayor’s grief is severe and visible. His actions at the hospital are the darkest we’ve seen thus far. His calm attempt to suffocate Buffy is one of the more chilling images we have of him, and his showdown with Angel is a grim preview of what’s to come.
A higher power guiding us? / I'm pretty sure that's not what I meant. -- Faith and Buffy’s shared dream is the last we see of Faith in Season Three. Full of the typical Joss-ian riddles (including that famous hint about Dawn’s existence), we can infer that Faith has at last found some small version of peace. The cat is a metaphor for Faith, even turning into Faith at one point in a brief flickering flash. Buffy’s misunderstanding about someone taking care of the cat is typical, but Faith doesn’t seem to hold it against her – this is a new Faith, at last able to take care of herself. When Buffy awakens and finally returns Faith's kiss, we know the two Slayers have finally come to some kind of terms with each other.
She really came through in the end. -- Faith’s hint to Buffy about the Mayor’s human weakness is the key to Buffy’s success, and thus the Mayor’s defeat. The whole idea of her betraying the Mayor in this way indicates a fundamental change for Faith. She turns against the one creature who ever truly cared for her, in the name of Good. Was it the honorable thing to do? Is ‘honorable’ the same as ‘right’? Faith uses the Mayor’s love for her against him.
And that love helps save the world.
 “Doppelgangland”, Mayor Wilkins
 “Enemies”, Mayor Wilkins
 “Enemies”, Faith
 “Enemies”, Willow/Xander
 “Enemies”, Buffy
 “Enemies”, Faith
 “Enemies”, Mayor Wilkins
 “Choices”, Mayor Wilkins
 “Choices”, Willow
 “Choices”, Mayor Wilkins
 “Graduation Day, Part One”, Faith
 “Graduation Day, Part One”, Mayor Wilkins
 “Graduation Day, Part One”, Faith
 “Graduation Day, Part One”, Buffy
 “Graduation Day, Part One”, Faith
 “Graduation Day, Part Two”, Mayor Wilkins
 “Graduation Day, Part Two”, Buffy/Faith