“Who Are You?”
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
The police are telling Joyce about their plans for Faith. Buffy, in Faith’s body, is barely conscious, and Faith in Buffy’s body clasps Joyce’s hand while she’s passing. She’s posing as very sweet and innocent, but also rather touchy about people insulting Faith. “Buffy” goes inside with Joyce, and Joyce wonders why Faith is the way she is. She doesn’t believe Faith actually likes being the way she is. “Buffy” is gleefully contemplating what “Faith” is going to go through in prison. Joyce thinks that’s pretty uncharacteristic of her, and “Buffy” assures her that she’s just being harsh because she’s angry about what Faith could have done to her. Joyce hugs her, and she scowls and squirms away. Joyce confirms that it’s been a while since Buffy’s last visit, which makes “Buffy” smug. Joyce wants to spend more time with Buffy in future.
“Buffy” heads upstairs for a bath, where she has fun checking out her new body and playing with the bubble bath. She makes faces in the mirror for a while, and practices her righteous Buffy voice, saying “You can’t do that because it’s wrong” over and over. Faith’s voice cackles.
“Faith” is trying to convince the police and the doctors that the real Faith is still at her house. But they knock her out with drugs.
Willow is at Tara’s place. Tara voices for the first time that she’s a little sad that Willow hasn’t been including her in the group. Willow wants to introduce Tara to them, but she also likes having her all to herself. There’s lots of meaningful eye contact. I think this might be where it really stops being platonic. Yeah, definitely. Tara tells Willow that she’s hers.
“Buffy” is dressed now, in a black tank top and a pair of black leather pants. She uses Joyce’s credit card to buy a plane ticket, probably out of the country. Joyce comes in and she claims that she was just getting her mail. Joyce tells her that she’s just been on the other line with Giles. He wants her to come meet with the gang. She grabs the Harlot lipstick, which Joyce points out was Faith’s pick. She tosses it and heads out to meet the Scoobies.
“Faith” is in the back of a police cruiser, and she’s still pretty looped from the drugs. Then the Watchers’ Council’s special hit squad causes a roadblock and steals her back. They’ll be taking her to England.
“Buffy” shows up at Giles’s apartment, where the Scoobies plus Anya are there. She doesn’t recognize Anya, so she pretends to recognize he, then smugly informs them that she beat “Faith” up and sent her off with a bunch of cops. Giles updates her: the Council has “Faith” now. SMG is excellent at playing Faith. This is extremely fun to watch. “Buffy” is so amused by the thought of the real Buffy getting carted off to England to get tried by the Council that she starts laughing until they all give her weird looks. While they discuss Faith’s fate, Willow is not subtle with her lingering hatred of Faith, which “Buffy” takes note of. She fantasizes about gutting Willow with a dagger. Most of Willow’s hatred is because of what Faith put Buffy through. The discussion continues, and Willow starts getting a weird vibe from “Buffy.” “Buffy” promises Willow that she’d never let Faith hurt her, and Willow seems reassured. Meanwhile in the rest of the conversation, Xander would like to withdraw from Scooby plans for the evening because he and Anya wanted to have a romantic evening. “Buffy” makes a mocking comment about Xander’s sexual prowess, which they resent but don’t find suspicious.
“Buffy” points out that everything is fine now, but then Giles reminds her about Adam, who she knows nothing about. She haltingly tries to act like she knows what’s up. She makes a big Buffy-esque speech about how she’s going to take care of everything.
Smash cut to the Bronze, where “Buffy” is dancing in the middle of a tight crowd of mostly guys, grinding up against several of them. Then she heads over to maybe get a drink when she bonks into Spike. He’s all grumpy as usual about not being able to bite people, and she pretends she knows who he is. She figures out he’s a vampire through this conversation, then his name, which she recognizes. He’s about to tell “Buffy” why he hates her when she answers for him. She also gets all up in his business and tells him how easy it would be for her to take him (sexually) and how much he’d enjoy it—but she wouldn’t do any of that, because it’s wrong. He appears to be incredibly turned on against his will. He throws his drink against the wall and shoves people aside on his way out of the Bronze, even though it hurts his head.
Elsewhere, a nest of vampires with especially horrible taste in clothing are scoping out a new lair when they find Adam. Who is recruiting. The leader sics one of his guys on him, and he beheads him with his bare hands. The others, impressed and afraid, are willing to listen to his sales pitch.
“Faith” wakes up in the Council hit squad’s van. She tries to explain to them that she’s Buffy and that Faith switched bodies with her. It’s not that they don’t believe her, it’s that they don’t like Buffy much better than they like Faith, so they don’t mind taking back the wrong girl. One of them spits on her face.
Willow brings Tara to the Bronze, where Tara has never been before. She’s trying to explain the nostalgia factor to Tara, but then she sees “Buffy,” in a crowd of people chanting for this one guy to chug his beer. Willow intertwines her fingers with Tara’s and leads her over to “Buffy.” Okay, yeah, definitely not platonic now. “Buffy” initially reacts the same way to Tara as to Anya (at a loss to pretend she knows someone she’s never actually met), but luckily, Buffy has never met Tara before. Willow introduces her. Then they head over to the couches. “Buffy” is sitting all spread-eagled, and then Willow goes to get them drinks. “Buffy” notices the way Tara looks at Willow and her gaydar goes off. She proceeds to be super mean to Tara about Willow, and about how in love Willow was with Oz. She also mocks her stutter.
Willow comes back, having spotted a vampire. “Buffy” relaxes back on the couch before realizing that she’s supposed to kill those. She gets up, grabs a pool cue, and heads after them. She slays the vampire, and the victim grabs her hand to offer her heartfelt appreciation. “Buffy” gets kind of weirded out by that. It’s been a long time since she actually did what a Slayer is supposed to do. She heads back in and tells Willow she staked the vampire. Willow is going to take Tara back to her dorm, since she’s not really interested in partying anymore (shocker). “Buffy,” on the other hand, will be heading over to see Riley. Crap.
“Faith” manages to get one of the three hit squad guys at her mercy, and she threatens to kill him if the other two don’t unchain her. It’s just a bluff, since this is actually Buffy, but they don’t even try to call it. They ignore the guy’s pleas and walk away. She tosses him out of the van, a bit bruised but still alive. The other guys are thinking she’s going to be a little too much trouble to transport all the way back to England.
“Buffy” arrives at Riley’s place. Crap.
Willow and Tara get back to Tara’s dorm. Tara tells Willow that “Buffy” isn’t Buffy. She sensed that there was something off about the flow of her energy. Also she was really mean. Tara thinks they can figure out exactly what’s wrong using something that belongs to Buffy. A spell that would take Willow through the nether realm until she finds Buffy’s spirit. This spell will be very intense, both magically and metaphorically.
“Buffy” tells Riley about what happened with “Faith” (heading back to England and all), and immediately starts seducing him. He’s okay with that, but he does make her hit the breaks a little. She wants him to act out some kind of kinky fantasy or something, but he wants to make love. I sort of doubt that anyone has ever kissed Faith as gently as Riley kisses “Buffy.”
Their sex scene is cut together with Willow and Tara’s rather breathy, panting, sweaty spell (so there’s loads more for that metaphor). The spell seems to be working. Willow ends up in the nether realm (though we don’t get to see that part), and then it cuts back to Riley and “Buffy.” Riley tells her he loves her, and she is suddenly done having fun here. She shoves him off, and she seems incredibly bothered by how much wholesome emotion she just got directed at her. After freaking out a little, she lets him hold her and comfort her, even though he’s not sure what he did wrong.
Adam is explaining his purpose to his new vamp minions. His purpose is to extinguish life, and they can join in that purpose! Hooray, it’s important to know what you’re good at.
In the morning, “Buffy” gets dressed in her leather pants and Riley’s shirt. She leaves without waking him up, and Forrest catches her at the bottom of the stairs. He’s not impressed with “Buffy” and Riley having sex all night when he’s still banged up from his fight with Adam and the drugs stuff. He makes some off-hand remark about her being a killer, which really touches a nerve. She doesn’t like that word being applied to her at all, even as a joke. He thinks it’s weird that she cares so much, and she tries to convince herself she doesn’t. She leaves.
The Council’s hit squad just got permission from the higher-ups to kill “Faith” instead of bringing her back to England. Holy crap! One of them goes to get the gas for the job. Wow, if you thought the Council was horrible in S3, this takes it to a whole new level of shady. One of them sticks some kind of gun in through the bars of the prison van, but “Faith” grabs it between her boots and shoves it back into his face, knocking him out. Then she uses it to shoot through her manacles and the lock between the back of the van and the front. Even though she still has no driver’s license, she manages to get the thing going and drives away. Go Buffy!
“Buffy,” meanwhile, is at the airport, about to flee the country. Interestingly, she’s actually wearing a very pretty Buffy-like outfit.
I think at this point, Faith really does want to become Buffy. Someone who isn’t a murderer. So now she’s dressing the part.
“Faith” shows up at Giles’s flat and tries to convince him she’s Buffy. He’s a bit hesitant to believe her. He’d like to tie her up until they can find out for sure that she’s telling the truth, but she doesn’t think they have time for that. She tries to get him to ask her things only Buffy would know, but he’s still so bewildered that he’s not operating at his full mental capacity, so she just starts spouting facts only Buffy would know. Once she throws in a little tidbit she heard in Joyce’s thoughts when she was telepathic during “Earshot,” Giles, mortified, admits that she’s probably Buffy.
Willow and Tara come running in. Their spell worked, and they already know Buffy and Faith swapped bodies, how Faith did it, and they made a thing to swap them back. Boom! Getting stuff done! They get a phone call, from Xander. He tells them to turn on the news, which has a report of vampires holding the parishioners of a church hostage. Of course, they don’t identify the criminals as vampires, but it’s enough for the Scoobies to figure it out. Faith sees it too on one of the TVs at the airport.
Inside the church, the horribly ‘90s vampires who got all inspired by Adam are making evil speeches about how they’re going to dare God to come protect his people by killing a bunch of them. Outside, Riley, dressed in his Sunday best, tells the police to stand down while he handles this. He heads in, and he runs into “Buffy.” She wants to go straight in and fight the vampires alone, but he wants to help. She pokes him in his injury to make her point. He can just take care of the hostages. She’ll deal with the vamps.
“Buffy” squares off against the most ‘90s-y of the vampires. She tells him he won’t be killing these people because it’s wrong. It’s the first time in the whole episode that she actually means it.
The Scoobies (including “Faith”) are on the scene! But the police don’t want to let them near the church. So Giles completely abandons his dignity in order to provide the most hilarious diversion in the entire run of the show:
“Buffy” and the most ‘90s vampire start fighting. The hostages start escaping. She stakes one henchvamp, and the other tries to escape, only to barrel stright into Riley. “Faith” sees them, but Riley manages to shove the vampire into the sunlight without help. It’s probably one of his cooler moments. “Faith” hugs him, and he of course doesn’t know who she is, but since the situation is pretty desperate, she decides they don’t have time for explanations.
“Buffy” is about to take a serious beating from the most ‘90s vamp when he suddenly goes poof, to reveal “Faith.” Nice visual callback to the multiple times Faith dusted a vampire from behind when it had Buffy on the ropes. “Faith’s” eyes are full of wrath, and “Buffy’s” are full of fear. The two Slayers start fighting each other. “Buffy” seems to be fighting more out of self-loathing than out of actual hatred of the real Buffy. She hates seeing her own face. It’s the face of a murderer. “Faith” manages to clasp hands with her, the little spell trinket in her palm. And switcheroo, they’re back in their own bodies. Faith gets up and runs away, leaving Buffy reeling and just glad to be back where she belongs.
Buffy and Riley are in Riley’s room. A phone call from Giles lets them know that Faith escaped without a trace, and the Council’s hit squad is also gone. Riley is still struggling to comprehend that a body swap is possible, and that he failed to recognize that “Buffy” wasn’t Buffy. Buffy realizes the full implications of how upset he is: he slept with Faith, thinking she was Buffy. Buffy is pretty horrified, but she’s not freaking out at him. Also she doesn’t think Faith had much fun while she was trying to be her.
We end on Faith, sitting alone in the back of some freighter truck, staring blankly at the opposite wall.
“Who Are You?” is a fantastic character study. Serious props to Joss for the writing and directing, and to Sarah and Eliza for playing each other’s characters. This is the kind of character-driven stuff that makes this show so amazing, and I love that they can get this much out of a character who’s only in a fraction of the episodes. (Honestly, I feel like Spike could have been much better if they’d used him as sparingly as they do Faith.) I picked up on so much more of the stuff that was going on with Faith this time than I have in the past. I didn’t see the self-loathing side, but it’s fascinating. I don't really understand why the Mayor thought this would be a good solution to Faith’s problems. Didn’t he care about her? Didn’t he think she was beautiful and capable in her own body? Did he just think she’d need a way to avoid prison, and that this way he could deliver poetic justice to Buffy for putting Faith in the coma in the first place? Whatever his intentions were for that device, it took Faith less than 24 hours to stop enjoying it and to start feeling all the guilt she’d been avoiding since she first killed Allen Finch. Now that she isn’t in her own body, she can disassociate the guilt too, and put the blame on her literal face, on the body that has the blood on its hands, and she can try to run away from it, but she’ll never be able to stop being Faith Lehane. And once she’s felt the guilt, there’s no escape from it when she gets her body back. It’s just amazing. As for the other plotline of the episode, I think I have slightly more effective gaydar than I did the last time I watched it, because there’s really no way around that spell being a super thin metaphor for sex. I’m not convinced that they literally consummated the relationship as well, though (if they did, then that would sort of make Willow a jerk two episodes from now when Oz comes back).
I think I noticed some glimmers of unwilling sympathy towards Faith from Buffy. She probably wishes she could just hate Faith and be done with it, but she knows what Faith’s going through better than anyone else in the world, and now she’s literally walking a mile in Faith’s shoes. She lived through what would’ve been Faith’s experience at the hands of the Council, being treated like utter garbage. At the end, when she’s talking to Riley, she seems to know that Faith wasn’t really having fun. Faith wanted to get revenge on Buffy for having, in her opinion, ruined her life, but in the end she realized that her misery was of her own making, and Buffy saw that too. Unfortunately, Faith probably won’t get to benefit from Buffy’s compassion this time, because she just heaped on a whole fresh pile of crap to the growing mound of things she’s done to hurt the girl who wanted so badly to be her friend.
Xander is in this one for like two seconds, and it’s just to be the butt of a sex joke. I don’t really want to take that seriously enough to apply it to his overall characterization. Let’s just move on.
I think I’ve figured out what Willow’s been doing since she met Tara. I don’t know at what point it occurred to her that she didn’t just have platonic feelings for Tara, but I think it probably happened at around the point she normally would have introduced a new friend to her main circle of friends. Since having nonplatonic feelings for another girl is new and unexpected for her, she instead keeps Tara a secret while she sorts out what she feels and how she feels about what she feels. Now, she’s finally reached the point where she’s confident that she like likes Tara and that Tara feels the same way about her, so that means she’s ready to start making those introductions. (Let me know how I’m doing with this, because I’m definitely still operating with very rudimentary gaydar here.)
Riley doesn’t recognize when his girlfriend, to whom he’s now confessing his love, isn’t actually in her body. Am I allowed to give him demerits for that? Can I reasonably expect a devoted love interest character to recognize when the soul of his beloved is not actually present, or is that too harsh? A similar thing happened on Grimm last season, but I wasn’t super inclined to blame Nick for it, though the chick masquerading as his love interest worked slightly harder at faking his love interest’s personality than Faith did with Buffy’s. So maybe I’m being unfair to Riley, but I can’t help feeling that Angel would have realized immediately that something was wrong.
Hoo boy, so is it officially Faith’s fault that Spike initially started lusting after Buffy in addition to wishing he could kill her? Also, Faith would’ve been fine with just brushing right past him, but then he decided he wanted to swap additional insults, then got much more than he bargained for.
I’m a bit disappointed that Giles didn’t notice anything weird about “Buffy.” Her accent is even different! He should’ve at least been squinting at her. But it’s still fun to watch him standing there looking like he’s just been punched in the face when he’s trying to process the fact that Faith is standing in front of him, only she’s claiming to be Buffy. Maybe Buffy would’ve had an easier time convincing him if she’d reminded him that he switched Amy and her mom back to their own bodies, so she’s hoping he can do the same with her and Faith.
“This is a special operations unit. They handle the Council’s trickier jobs; smuggling, interrogations, wetworks.”
“I thought it was murder.”
“You didn’t sense a hyena energy at all, did you? Because hyena possession is just…unpleasant.”
The Watcher's Diary
In this blog, I'll be reviewing, analyzing, and generally fangirling over excellent television. Exhibit A: the Whedonverse.