Episode Title: Bad Girls
Original Air Date: February 9, 1999
“Whenever Giles sends me on a mission, he always says ‘please’. And afterwards I get a cookie.” – Buffy
A piviotal episode of this current series while also one whose impact will reverb thoughout not only the Buffyverse but the Angelverse as well with this being another of the best episodes of the series as not only to we have the introduction of the new Watcher Wesley Wyndam-Pryce but also the turning point for Faith who here we get to see starting to make her transition to the dark side.
Opening to Buffy and Faith teaming up together for their patrols somthing which certainly pays off when a cult of sword welding vampire seemingly ripped from the crusades turn up in Sunnydale led by the grotesquely bloated demon Balthazar who is looking for the amulet which was once the source of his power. At the same time the more time Buffy spends with Faith the more she starts to feed off her bad girl lifestyle and the love of the fight which is soon threatening to send them both down a very dark path.
Since her introduction Faith has remained a memorable presence throughout this season even if lately it seems she has been pushed into the background often elsewhere whenever Buffy and the Scoobies were battling the monster of the week, frustratingly without any reason or justification given for her absence. Thankfully this week the writers finally decided on a purpose for her as not only does she become the force of corruption for Buffy, with her attitude that the end really justifies the means as seen by her encouraging Buffy to join her raiding a sporting goods store.
The real defining moment for her though comes at the midway point of the episode when Faith kills the Mayors Aide not realising that he’s not one of the vampires they were in the process of slaying. It’s the aftermath however were we get to see the first taste of darkness for Faith as she casual brushes off the fact that she murdered a seemingly innocent human with little regard for what she has done. Interestingly the writers has originally planned to have Buffy discover Faith the night after the incident having hung herself which thankfully didn’t happen especially when you consider much like Wesley and so many other characters just how key she will become to not only the Buffyverse but Angelverse aswell even if it might not seem like right now, this episode certainly marks the start of big changes in the role Faith plays going forward.
Wesley on the other hand is such an interesting change to the characters we have encountered up until this point, especially in terms of the Watchers Council whose members including Giles have all been well spoken and confident in their role in the battle against the forces of evil. On the surface Wesley would seem to just like the other members we have encountered however as we discover over the course of this episode just how inexperienced he really is having only encountered two vampires under “controlled circumstances” prior to arriving in Sunnydale. Wesley also brings a great element of humour to the series as while he has skills and abilities he really has no clue how to use any of them however unlike Faith we really only get to see the major changes in his character once he moves over to the Angelverse at the end of this season and where he will become much more of a key character, rather than the comedic sidekick he essentially plays here.
As the monster of the week Balthazar feels like another one shot character who could have been more as not only does he have one of the most distinctive looks of any monster in the serious being essentially an obese monster in a bathtub constantly requiring to be bathed by his followers and while he might not be able to do a great deal just his limited movement and abilities he is still makes for a memorable presence in this episode and not because his little t-rex arms flailing around looks so funny. But why is he in the darn bathtub? Frustratingly this is never answered though I love that Buffy kills him by dropping a light on him and in turn electrocuting him rather than going for the obvious kill.
Elsewhere like with Faith the writers seemingly realised that it had been awhile since we checked in with our supposed big evil of the season Mayor Wilkins who also returns this episode and seemingly in the time between his last appearance in the season has become immortal as we memorably get to see here as he receives a skull splitting blow from one of the sword welding vampires only for his head to simply mould back to its original shape. What I love about Mayor Wilkins is that despite being the villain he’s always got such a sunny persona and again its played to great effect here as after revealing he’s immortal he ticks it off his to do list (right above PTA Meeting and haircut) before suggesting that he and Mr. Trick celebrate with a rootbeer!
While it might seem like the major events go without any consequence what they do instead is set in motion much larger events leading up to the season climax making this only all the more of a key episode aswell as a reminder of a path that Buffy could have easily gone down herself had she become the Slayer in a different setting and without the support of her Scoobies.
Next Episode: Consequences