Enemies is a bit of a mixed bag for me as an episode. It’s a significant step in the development of the season arc and has serious implications for both Faith and Angel’s characters. But it feels half baked and at times not willing to go all the way with certain ideas. I say all this hoping you’ll bear in mind that critiquing a season three episode is like criticizing flaws in different vintages of Ferrari’s. Quibbles make the season no less a masterpiece.
Buffy and Angel have just finished a totally platonic date seeing Le Banquet D Amelia, which was apparently a steamy French softcore porn given their reactions to it.
I thought it was about food…”
It’s a hilarious little exchange of dialogue that really gets at the problematic aspects of their relationship. They are two people with a deep sexual attraction to each other, forced into a platonic relationship by circumstance. Spending time with each other is for them, playing with fire. As we covered in the review for Innocence though, the true reality of the curse is that it isn’t tied to sex as it is to perfect happiness. It seems dangerous, but we know she did try and end things with him and then changed her mind in the name of walking him out of his depression.
“It feels nice. Just to feel…”
As I said in the top 10 list, profound depression isn’t necessarily measured by pain but by numbness. Faith appears to go slaying with Buffy.
“Don’t worry big guy just keeping her warm for you.”
On their patrol Faith and Buffy run into a demon looking to sell the books of Ascension, something he say the Mayor wants very badly. Faith tries to kill the demon and Buffy lets him go so Faith goes to the mayor and explains the situation. Wilkins provides her a glass of warm milk to cheer her up (*sigh* he’s my favorite) and tells her to go and kill the demon and take the books before Buffy can get to him. Meanwhile the gang is speculating as to what the Ascension may actually be. Willow, who already looks quite different after Doppelgangland (it’s as though the overalls phase peaked with the pink sweater and immediately declined) has a theory she read in one of Giles’ hidden books.
It’s one of the secret books of magic Giles doesn’t think I’m ready for.”
As they continue to speculate, Faith has gone off on her own to retrieve the books for the mayor. She stabs the demon and a relatively unnerving fight ensues. She appears disturbed over the whole thing and goes to see Angel about it.
“Mind if I skip past the Mom never loved me part and get right to it?”
It is interesting how Angel is trying to pay forward the kindness that Buffy has shown him this season. In this scene Faith mentions 12 stepping. Angel really is trying to be her sort of Evil Anonymous Sponsor, which fits given that David Greenwalt has said that the central metaphor of Angel the Series is that of a recovering alcoholic. He’s a vampire who has gone off the blood evil and here he tries to bring someone else into the program. Faith says she’s scared and tries to kiss him and Angel puts a stop to it.
As Faith is leaving and giving Angel an intimate goodbye Buffy appears just in time to catch a glimpse of it. At her apartment we see that Faith and the Mayor were deliberately trying to steal Angel’s soul through a moment of happiness. It’s a cute and naive ploy on their part but fits within character to me. Perfectly reasonable that neither the Mayor nor Faith have a really solid grasp on what it takes to be in love. The Mayor decides to go another route to remove Angel’s soul and schedules a meeting with a dark-looking magic caster.
At the library Wesley tells Buffy to go and retrieve the books of Ascension but to wait for Faith.
“That could be hours. The girl makes Godot look punctual.”
On occasion the show has been criticised for the dialogue not sounding like it was actually spoken by teenagers. Too clever for it’s own good. This is the ONLY instance of that phenomena that really stands out for me personally. Waiting for Godot is an absurdist play by Samuel Beckett, written in 1953 in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon wait endlessly for the arrival of someone named Godot. Buffy, with her nightly schedule of slaying and Scooby socializing, being familiar enough with the the play to casually quip about it never quite landed for me.
Buffy and Faith go to the demon’s hovel and discover his corpse and the lack of sufficient Ascension bookage. Buffy tells Willow about getting wiggy over the closeness between Angel and Faith and our newly assertive post-Doppelgangland Willow demands that Buffy simply go and talk with him.
At the mansion Faith and the spellcaster steal Angel’s soul and we get to see Angelus is freed.
“It’s great to have the taste of a Slayer back in my mouth….just when I thought I’d quit.”
From a character perspective Angel’s performance here is curious. We know from later on that he’s really just putting on a show for Faith. But if the soul=conscience idea holds, then Angelus is always present inside Angel. And given how much of a sulk he is a normal basis the quality of this performance seems unwarranted. So the question is, is this Angel pretending to be Angelus, or is this Angel letting him out?
A very handsy Faith takes Angel to meet the mayor who invites him to be a part of his bold future and kill the Slayer.
“Had a soul, now I don’t.” – “That’s terrific. Poetic too.”
I am reminded of the scene in which Giles first learned of Angel’s love for Buffy.
“Vampire in love with a Slayer. Rather poetic.”
The reflections in this season continue to resolve. Giles and Buffy against the Mayor and Faith. Buffy and Angel. Faith and Angelus. Angelus tells the Mayor he was thinking about stabbing him and the Mayor invites him too, reminding us all that he’s been made invulnerable until the Ascension. Xander, more upset about Cordy’s crush on Wesley finds Faith and Angelus and Angelus clocks him.
31:00 “That guy just bugs me…”
Given we know this is actually Angel I like to imagine that moment is Angel’s catharsis for all of Xander’s jealousy, paid back in a single fortuitous moment. Angelus and Faith bring Buffy to the mansion and reveal to her what is actually going on before Angelus knocks her unconscious.
Angelus chains her up and Faith explains that Angelus is the pet she’s always wanted.
36:00 “See when I was a little kid I always wanted a dog.”
Faith explains the reason she’s doing this is because no matter how much she tows the line she’ll never have the life or the opportunities provided Buffy. No matter how good she is she’ll never get what she deserves.
37:30 “Do you think you’re better than me? Say it. You think you’re better than me.” – “I am…”
Buffy baits Faith into revealing the day of the Ascension and at that point she and Angel turn the tables. A fight ensues with Buffy and Faith having knives at each other’s throats.
701 possible take 2
39:30 “What are you going to do B. Kill me? You become me.” *KISS* Rings bell
Turns out Giles knew the spellcaster and kept all of this a secret
41:00 “You pitted slayer against Slayer in a deadly game that could have gotten them both killed. I’m telling the council.”
Faith has lost her only connections besides the Mayor, and yet their connection makes her feel…relieved.
42:10 “I’ve got two words that are going to make all the pain go away. Miniature Golf”c –
This episode is both entertaining and problematic for me. First there is the foundation of the entire drama, Buffy, Giles’ and Angels plan to work with the spellcaster and dupe Faith into revealing info. Which, unlike previous twists, feels unnecessary and contrived to me here. Wouldn’t the spellcaster have just TOLD Giles and Faith, “Hey ya nerds, Faith is working the Mayor. You’re being betrayed.” Arguably they wanted to get whatever information Faith had about the Mayor from her but this seems like an insanely complicated way of going about it. What if the spellcaster changed his mind? There is lore within the show that suggests that some demons can detect souls within people, including other vampires. What if the Mayor had had some kind of soul litmus test and killed Angel? What if Faith had put the shackles on instead of Angel? Also why didn’t they bother to tell Willow or Xander? It’s not as though they’re on speaking terms with Faith. Even WITH everything going according to their terrible plan, Faith and Buffy STILL ended up with knives at each other’s throats. It seems like it might have been simpler to tie Faith down and tickle her until the words Graduation Day came tumbling out.
On the plus side, you know those emotional hooks I’ve been pining for all season? Well this episode has them. The return of Angelus, however brief and ultimately unreal gave me a potent sensation of AHAAAA…here we go, combined with dread and depression and all the unaddressed emotional baggage of the second season.
33:00 “Angel? No. No.”
For clarity, when I say unaddressed emotional baggage I’m not suggesting loose threads or plot holes on the part of the show. Rather that for me, Buffy is a living breathing character, alive and real in a fictional world rather than just a component of it. And we real people don’t always get catharsis. Aren’t allowed proper anesthesia and rehabilitation from emotional wounds. Instead our hearts scab over and scar, beholden to times demand of always moving forward.
Where this material succeeds for me is in the development of Faith’s character. Her theft of Angel and flaunting of it a chained up Buffy continues several themes started earlier in the season. Faith is in desperate need of validation that she and Buffy are not so different. Since Bad Girls she has been trying to pull the two of them closer together and make Buffy more like her.
901 possible take 2
Consequences: “You know it could be you.”
“Buffy gets everything blah blah
Her taking Angelus is Faith’s way of proving she can make herself more like Buffy. Or perhaps proving that Buffy isn’t so far from her. But the harder she tries to prove these things, the farther into the dark she keeps pushing herself. First in the acquisition of her own Giles with the Mayor. But of course the Mayor would accept a Scooby Betrayer, without much thought. As sweet and sugary as his desire to destroy the world is, it renders him emotionally impenetrable, and mostly unidentifiable as a character. Like the wind, he just is. There isn’t a lot of meaning there.
So tries to take Angel, first through seduction and then through force. And here when Faith tries to flaunt her victory with Angel over Buffy, Buffy points out.
“And how’d you get him Faith.”
Faith simply can’t steal Buffy’s life. A life that was earned through courage, love, and sacrifice. We are not our dark halves and they are not us. There is no substitute for struggle. And worse, Faith has proven the dark ends she’ll go to fill this maw inside her. Torture, murder, and even releasing a monster on the world.
It’s good stuff but when Buffy cowered from Angelus’ I felt it, thanks to the emotional pummeling endured in Becoming Part 2. As much as this episode got me to that place I have mixed feelings about whether or not it earned that or did enough with it. There is no new ground covered between Buffy and Angel here that wasn’t already in Season 2 and as a result Angel’s turn left me feeling a little hollow. I enjoyed the idea that Angel and Buffy managed to dupe Faith but felt a little weird for having had to go there emotionally once we got to the turn. But then maybe that’s the point isn’t it?
Was he acting Angelus’ or unleashing him? And if Angelus is always present does that mean that Angel must redeem himself. Is he worthy of Buffy’s love?
43:30 “You still my girl?” –