LadyGhosts of TV Past

Ladyghosts of TV Past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 3.3, “Faith, Hope, and Trick”

Sunnydale. Town’s got quaint, and the people: he called me “sir,” don’t you just miss that? I mean, admittedly, it’s not a haven for the brothers. You know, strictly the Caucasian persuasion here in the Dale. But you know you just gotta stand up and salute that death rate. I ran a statistical analysis and, Hello Darkness. Makes D.C. look like Mayberry. And ain’t nobody sayin’ boo about it. We could fit right in here. Have us some fun.

I think one of the things I most appreciate about Buffy is that the plotting of the show never takes the easy way out after big emotional pieces. We’re in the third episode of this season and the repercussions from “Becoming 1 & 2” are still revealing themselves. BvTS will live under the shadow of those two episodes for the remainder of the show’s life – it always comes up, it will always come up, even if it manifests itself in different ways.

Simple things first – Kendra’s death finally calls another Slayer, Faith, who rides into Sunnydale while trying to escape a cloven-hoofed vampire named Kakistos. Buffy and Kendra had their issues. Kendra did try to kill her at one point, so, you know, it took a bit for them to get along. Faith is an entirely different beast. Buffy is motivated by righteousness. Kendra by obligation. Faith – well, she seems to revel in the killing part just a little too much, likes her power a little too much, and doesn’t seem to really get the whole “protector” aspect of the job.

I was struck in rewatching this episode by how much Buffy disliked Faith. It’s painted as jealousy and threat to her own position, but knowing how things unfold, I was reminded that Buffy is repeatedly shown to have excellent instincts. She spends a lot of time distrusting her gut in the early seasons – part of her growth as the Slayer is embracing that she has some hint of extra-human something-or-other that sets her apart from the Slayers that have come before her. She reacts badly to Faith, everyone discounts her feelings, and a lot of people are going to die on account of it in the coming weeks. Many more people will bleed because of it.

You don't steal a fellow Slayer's fries.

The show’s subtext of Slayer-as-sexual-orientation, which is generally especially present in conversations between Buffy and her mother, leaps directly into the text when Joyce admits to the trouble she’s had embracing the way Buffy was “born” and that she’s tried to march in the “Slayer Pride Parade.” Joyce also asks if Faith can take over as the Slayer since Buffy will be going off to college soon, which I thought was a pretty funny stab at a reverse-LAG joke. (Lesbian until graduation.) There’s probably something here about how vocal Faith is about her interest in guys and her voracious sexual appetite as a metaphor for her denying her lesbian interests, particularly in Buffy, whom she kisses on the mouth after an emotionally charged fight later in the season, but now that I’ve written it out, I think I just made that point.

Other minor points of interest – Willow’s interest in magic keeps developing, with her asking to get involved in the special “spell” Giles is crafting. Joyce finds out Buffy died in season 1, which Buffy blows off with, “It was just for a minute or so.” I’m sure Xander probably did something douchy, but nothing stands out.

The more complicated season 2 fall out – Buffy’s lingering guilt over killing Angel.

How you doin?

She’s a hero. Killing Angel saved the world. He probably deserved it. Any other show would have devoted an episode to making Buffy feel bad about it before seeing that she did it for the greater good, but BvTS takes a more nuanced approach. I mentioned last week that her friends and family give Buffy a rash of shit about how her running away made them feel without bothering to ask themselves why she would have done something so dramatic, but what I didn’t mention and is very important, is that Giles wasn’t there for the guilt-Buffy-athon. He is the one person who knows that something is very wrong with her. And he’s the one person who tries to help her, by convincing her to lay down her burdens, even if just for a moment, by confessing what really happened in the mansion that night. Willow’s spell worked, so the monster she had to kill was really Angel. Her instinct to protect her friends is so strong that she’ll carry these horrid secrets around with her, because she’s the Slayer, and carrying burdens is what she does. There’s a direct line from the actions in this episode all the way through to the sixth season, where Buffy suffers for her friends and has to be coerced into giving up the truth.


Buffy: When I killed him, Angel was cured. Your spell worked at the last minute, Will. I was about to take him out, and, um… something went through him… and he was Angel again. He-he didn’t remember anything that he’d done. He just held me. Um, but i-it was… it was too late, and I, I had to. So I, I told him that I loved him… and I kissed him… and I killed him.
Buffy: I don’t know if that helps with your spell or not, Giles.
Giles: Uh, yes, I, I believe it will.
Willow: I’m sorry.
Buffy: It’s okay. I’ve been holding on to that for so long. Felt good to get it out. I’ll see you guys later.
Willow: Giles, I know you don’t like me playing with mystical forces, but I can really help with this binding spell.
Giles: There is no spell.

Go ahead. Argue with me that Giles isn’t the best TV father you’ve ever come across.

And then this happens.


By [E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at

She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

25 replies on “Ladyghosts of TV Past: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 3.3, “Faith, Hope, and Trick””

I can’t be the only person to have wondered this: Prior to the last season, when all the Potentials become Slayers, who is the third Slayer and where is she?!  Buffy is killed and Kendra is called, but when Buffy is resuscitated there are now two Slayers.  Kendra is killed and Faith is called.  Still two Slayers.

So who was called when Buffy died for the second time, who became the third Slayer when Buffy was brought back from the dead?  (Unless the “magical nature” of Buffy’s death which allows her to be brought back, unlike Tara, precludes the calling of a new Slayer at this point.  To which I say boo.)

Slay Belle does Buffy recaps over here??? Why has it taken me so long to find you, oh dear Persephone! You hit on one of my favorite things about this show, and why it has remained so beloved to me for all these years, and that’s the fact that they follow through on every arc. Each action has a real consequence. I have a great deal of appreciation for how aware the Whedonverse is of its mediums, and it used television in a way that really allowed the characters to grow. I’m also into all the heavy handed metaphors.

I don’t know, but I’m glad you’re here! If you click on my author link, all my first and second season recaps are there too.

The reason that the show can still be dissected almost a decade off the air is testament to how well crafted and thoughtful Joss and the writers were about putting the show together. I have a lot of appreciation for what they did. Unfortunately, how damn good they are in storytelling and tackling gender issues makes the problem spots really glaring (hello, the race issue).

Possibly slightly spoilery comment to follow:

I was always really angry that Xander got away with his attempt to mislead Buffy in Becoming Pt. II and wished the writers would have someone call him out on it. So imagine my joy in Season 7, when the Scoobies are debating whether Buffy should go after Anya; Buffy reminds Willow of her instruction to ‘kick Angel’s ass’, and Willow indignantly shouts ‘I never said that!’ It was such a lovely callback and I liked how it showed that the events of Becoming Pt II had never really been neatly wrapped up and put in a box – that all the characters still had their own memories of it and had interpreted its lessons differently. That’s how real life works.

I think I mentioned that once during one of my Xander rants, but it wasn’t in the context of the characters development. I used it as an example of how Xander doesn’t have to answer for the lies he tells, but the other characters do.

I loved that scene a lot. I was so glad it was brought up again in the show.

So, Mr. Trick kinda reminded me of a though I’d been having for a while, of how fucking horribly problematic Buffy has been (at least up til this point) in terms of portraying people of color in anything but a negative light. The only non-baddie to have been a POC was Kendra, who kinda wasn’t a very good slayer and got herself killed off after only a few appearances. Oh yeah, and her accent was terribly fake, mon. I am falling in love with Buffy, but considering how desensitized I already know I am to fairly white-washed media, even I’m shocked by how badly non-POC-friendly Sunnydale is. Which made Mr. Trick’s comments more interesting, I guess, that it takes one of these baddie-POCs to acknowledge just how fricken WHITE Sunnydale is. Which, by the way, is pretty inaccurate for any town in Southern California. Is it meant to be some kind of parody of television towns? Or… ? I guess I’m genuinely asking: in the next seasons, does it get better?

I’m gonna point this out before my wife does: I had the same visceral reaction to Kendra’s accent, but according to Marty Noxon’s DVD commentary, Kendra’s accent is a very specific accent from an equally specific location.  The voice coach they hired had precise expertise in this particular dialect that happens to sound stupidly fake but is actually real.

Or my memory could be wrong.  I’m not digging out the DVD now.

You’re right; I believe is on the What’s My Line, Part 1 commentary. If I remember correctly, they made a last-minute decision to have Kendra come from Jamaica – I don’t know what they had in mind for her origins beforehand. I found Kendra’s description of her Slayer training problematic; all that ‘my duty is so super sacred to my people’ and being separated from her family when she was young for Slayer training bought into this simplistic, voodoo-mystical portrayal of Caribbean cultures (and the pseudo-African culture of the First Slayer’s time). And that’s not to say anything of Kendra herself.

With regard to characters of color characters over the rest of Buffy‘s run, we only got non-white Scoobies in the last season, and they kind of sucked (a few were Potentials, and I loathed all the Potentials), although Robin Wood, the son of former Slayer Nikki Wood, had a somewhat more developed story. As mxandb mentioned, the situation is better in Angel, but still troubling; Gunn is defined by his difficulty fitting into Angel’s team, given his background as a guerrilla demon fighter from the L.A. badlands, and his attempts to embrace the opportunities in his new lifestyle always backfire on him. But on the other hand, all of the characters face down the challenges of identity and origins, none of the stories are perfect, and none of the characters portrayed as perfect. I just wish we’d gotten more, and more varied, non-white characters so that the show wouldn’t rely on other-ness so heavily with the ones we got.

Mention of Nikki Wood brings up thought of the name-never-mentioned (AFAIK) Chinese Slayer that Spike killed….

Firefly ran, what, concurrently with the last season of BtVS?  I’ve wondered if Zoe and Shepherd Book were at least a beginning to address the race issue.  IMO, any day of the week Zoe, Mal, and Jayne could have had a three-way Who’s The Baddest competition with any of them coming out on top.  (Unless River were to play….)  Shepherd Book, conversely, isn’t shown as a “current power” like Zoe.  His shadowy backstory is explored in the comic book Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale, which shows how a preacher has come to know that much about Alliance black ops, and how he can get treatment from medical personnel on an Alliance warship.

I need to do my race-specific Buffy post sometime soon. Honestly, I almost find it depressing because there’s so much care put into other aspects of the show, that it almost spotlights how white Sunnydale it. Mr. Trick addresses it, but he’s such a caricature that it under cuts the message.

If you want to, I talk about the race problems and Kendra back in my recap for ‘What’s My Line’ in season 2. However, its spoilery for a lot of stuff that will come up in later seasons.

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