I won’t remind you that the fate of the world often lies with the Slayer. What would be the point? Nor shall I remind you that you’ve jeopardized the lives of all that you hold dear by harboring a known murderer. But, sadly, I must remind you that Angel tortured me… for hours… for pleasure. You should have told me he was alive. You didn’t. You have no respect for me or the job I perform.
I don’t like it when Buffy and Giles fight. We’re not supposed to, obviously, but it says so much about the quality of the show that I feel emotionally invested in their relationship. The love they have for each other feels genuine. Which is what makes it so hard when they betray each other – life is like that, though; we hurt the people we love the dearest. The speech I quote from Giles is like a knife twisting in a wound.
(As a side note, I once read a piece of fanfiction where Giles impregnates Buffy and it ends at their daughter’s 5th birthday party. I rank that as the greatest misreading of their relationship, ever.)
So how did we end up with Giles chastising his Slayer for her lack of respect? This is the episode where everyone finds out Angel is alive.
A new Watcher shows up in Sunnydale and claims to be there to evaluate Faith, as well as Giles and Buffy. She has a British accent, sensible shoes, and a massive sense of entitlement, so everyone assumes her story is true. Which it is in one sense, in so much as she’s a trained Watcher, and not so much in another in that she’s been kicked out of the council and is in town to steal Evil Artifact of the Week. During the course of the search for Demon of the Week and Artifact of the Week, Xander sees Angel walking out of a crypt in one of the cemeteries, follows him back to the mansion to spy on Buffy/Angel’s moment of kissing weakness, and then promptly runs back to the Scooby Gang to rat her out.
My feelings on Xander are fairly well known at this point. There is nothing in Revelations that changes my mind.
In my household, the prevailing opinion is that I’m too hard on Xander in this episode. As much justification as he might have for hating Angel, I can never divorce Xander’s feelings and accusations from his own previous behavior. Buffy is completely correct in calling out Xander’s burning jealousy that she chose Angel over him – its something that simply can’t be ignored. This is hardly the first time Xander’s advocated killing Angel – which not only happened throughout the end of season 2, including his flat out lie to Buffy during Becoming, but also well before Angel had gone rogue. So for Xander to throw Jenny Calendar’s murder in Buffy’s face seems to me completely self-serving. Not to mention he acts like he has some proprietary feelings on her death while standing in front of Giles. And he’s so callous to the fact that Buffy’s guilt over what happened drove her out of the city. Xander just says whatever is going to get him what he wants. AND! He pretty much accuses her of lying about killing Angel in the first place, since he frames his tattletaling as “Buffy lied to us about Angel being dead.” The whole scene – hell, almost every interaction involving Xander in this episode – is another nail in the Xander-is-a-douchebag coffin.
He’ll get a chance to redeem himself in a couple of weeks with The Zeppo, but the episodes between now and then aren’t very Xander-sympathetic.
Gwendolyn Post, Mrs. Rogue Watcher in this episode, is an interesting commentary on the Council. She’s the only female Watcher we see – not the only woman involved in the Council, we meet a couple of them later on – but she’s the only one who is portrayed as being placed in charge of a Slayer. The whole set up of the Watchers is inherently paternalistic. They’re a bunch of older while males who make it their business to tell young women what to do and how to behave – Kendra makes it clear that most potentials are raised in a manner that doesn’t allow them to question what their Watcher tells them to do. There must be female Watchers in charge of Slayers; that Post’s appearance alone doesn’t make Giles suspect her leads us to believe that there has to be other women in the leadership positions. Post’s behavior is coded very masculine – she’s “logical,” demanding, imperious, and condescending. There’s nothing maternal in her behavior towards Faith. That she calls Giles “˜Americanized’ is awfully revealing – it means he’s gone soft, he’s a bit feminine, and he’s too emotionally invested in Buffy. Obviously women can support the patriarchy (the Council), too. That’s the place Post seems to be occupying, especially since the show often draws a line between “evil” and “patriarchy,” and Post is most definitely evil.
In the rewatch, my husband wondered aloud how the Watchers make the Slayers do what they want. The Slayers have all the power, literally. The Council doesn’t even financially support the Slayers (though they do pay the Watchers) so it’s not like they can hold a paycheck over their worker’s heads. There’s an interesting interaction between Post and Faith in Faith’s hotel room, where Post seems to be offering Faith what she needs as opposed to what she articulates. Structure, power, and a place to belong. It helps that the Slayers are by very definition young women who have had no chance to exercise independence yet. They often need if not desire some boundaries – that is what Post is offering to Faith. Buffy is often noted as an exception to so many of the Slayers who came before her; her strength and ability to reject so many of the Council’s ways comes from the fact that she has a support system outside of them in her family and friends. That’s what’s often under the complaint that her Watcher allows her to socialize ““ she’s not dependent on what the Council has to offer.
Faith, on surface glance, seems to be a lot like Buffy in that regard because she has a problem with authority figures. But she’s also unable to admit that she needs friends or family, and her version of independence involves active isolation from offers of either. She’s a girl with bad judgment and a hot temper. That’s why she flies off the handle and goes after Angel while shouting at Xander to grow a pair, it’s why she’s ready to believe Post and distrust Buffy, and it’s ultimately what leads her to the Mayor’s doorstep. The groundwork for that betrayal is seeded in this episode.
There’s a great deal in this one-off that will have bearing on the rest of the season. Unlike Band Candy, which is just a fun exercise, Revelations continues laying groundwork for the showdowns later on – Buffy vs. Faith, Angel and Buffy’s future or lack thereof, Willow and Xander, and the introduction of Wesley. There’s no Mayor in this episode, but knowing what’s to come, I really felt him hanging over every interaction that Faith had – it feels so inevitable that the damage she’s hiding is going to make her align with him.
Up next week – Spike’s return in Lover’s Walk.