Episode Title: Enemies
Original Air Date: March 16, 1999
“Demons after money. Whatever happened to the still-beating heart of a virgin? No one has any standards anymore.” – Giles
Another big week for the series as after weeks of posturing and teasing things out with his super nice guy evil style, the Mayor finally makes a move against Buffy and the Scoobies, as he plots to turn Angel back into Angelous. At the same time Faith also goes fully rogue as her alliance with the mayor is revealed setting everyone on the path now toward the forthcoming showdown between the two groups.
Compared to the previous seasons it really feels that the mayor and his evil plotting have really been teased out. True he’s always been there but what his plans where, let alone him actually showing any real concern for Buffy has been somewhat on the backburner. I’m not saying that the show has been shuffling its feet or that the writers have given any indication that they didn’t know what to do this season, it’s just he’s really been biding his time before he made a move and seemingly more happy to get on with his own ascension plans.
Opening to Buffy and Angel coming out of what we can guess was an uncomfortable cinema experience for them both as “Le Banquet D’Amelia” (sorry folks it’s a fake movie) turned out to be slightly more erotic than they were expecting and not about food as the title suggested. This discomfort of course not coming from the raunchy nature of what they have just seen but rather due to the fact that they are both still fighting their urges, especially when it could easily lead to Angel losing his soul again and turning back into Angelous. Still despite being so disciplined the lust between them is ever present and certainly a sore point for Faith who as we see later in this episode also has eyes for Angel.
While on patrol Buffy and Faith encounter the demon Skyler who is offering to sell “The Books of Ascension” for $5000 to pay for his ticket out of Sunnydale knowing what the Mayor is planning and clearly not wanting to be around for it. Faith needless to say reports this find back to the Mayor before returning later to kill Skyler her loyalties now fully devoted to him with this episode marking her finally breaking away from Buffy and the Scoobies as she goes fully rogue. At the same time its during their research of Ascension and how it might connect to the Mayor that we also learn that he’s actually been immortal a lot longer than first suspected, let alone the fact he has also been passing himself off as his own grandson all this time.
Faith in this episode continues to be one of the best aspects of the season, really sells her turn to the dark side as we get to learn more about her troubled past and unloving alcoholic mother. The lack of any kind of parental figure only making her father / daughter relationship with the Mayor only the more believable even though you wouldn’t expect their polar opposite personalities to gel it somehow works here, even when he’s throwing out cornball lines about minute golf.
The nagging issue with this episode for myself revolves around the plot to turn Angel evil (which would frustratingly get reworked for Angel season 2) which for some reason both the Mayor and Faith have convinced themselves would play in their favour, despite the fact that Angelous was previously shown as not being the kind of Vampire who answers to anyone let alone one who would be willing to play a lackey for anyone. Needless to say this doesn’t stop Faith clumsily attempting to seduce him into sleeping with her believing that sex breaks the curse rather than the need for “One perfect moment” or perhaps she was just really confident in her abilities.
When this plan falls through the Mayor instead attempts to have his soul sucked out via a demon sorcerer which by all appearances seems to have worked only for it to turn out to be an elaborate rouse to find out what the Mayor has been planning. I did however love in the reveal that the Sorcerer was also repaying a debt to Giles for introducing him to his wife. What really bugged me about this though was how the group threw this plan together when none of them seemingly had any indication about what was being planned and as a result felt that the writers had kind of pulled the climax out of their ass.
What this episode does do well though is give us the minor evolution to the Buffyverse with Skyler who while he might not live past this episode does however mark a change in attitudes towards demons which until this point had been shown as evil and constantly plotting against humanity. Skyler showed that demons could not also be good, but also happy just living in the modern world and generally getting on with their lives, as we would see more off in “Angel” while in the Buffyverse only a few demons would get to be shown in this light.
Not a great episode even if it does have some important moments which stop it from being more forgettable. Still with Faith now fully rouge and the Mayor having finally decided to do something it does finally wrap up some of the more nagging open plot threads.
Next Episode: Earshot