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Buffy stabbing Faith

r2dh2

Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain
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I don’t like it, but I can buy it. I have two issues with it though:

1. Buffy’s lack of moral conflict (ex-post).

I don’t like that Angel is the reason, but fine, I can go along with that, so no ex-ante moral-conflict is fine. I can also buy that they are dealing with the Mayor’s ascension, so there isn’t much time for reflection in S3. But I’d like to have seen some struggle in S4. I can also buy that the Scoobies move on, they are young, and life keeps happening. But Buffy had a huge moral conflict when she was covering for Faith in Consequences. Even if she was avoiding the thought, I feel that Giles, as her father figure, should have brought up the topic with Buffy when Faith recovered in S4. Buffy tried to take a human life – we can debate whether that was right or not, but I’m fine accepting that this happened — the act itself, however, is something huge, especially in a show that aims to explore the complexities of human choices.

Why no ex-post moral-conflict for Buffy?

2. What’s its meaning in light of Faith’s role as Buffy’s shadow/dark-self (the Iago to our Othello)?

I can understand that the Council’s unwillingness to help Angel was the last straw for her in this season, so she made the decision of leaving them, she “graduated.” More generally, she’s leaving high school, she is no longer a child, she’s now a young adult making her own choices. I also can buy that the way the “cure” was presented (“to drain a slayer’s blood”) initially lead us to believe that it meant to kill a slayer. But I’m having some trouble reading the metaphor behind the attempted murder… there must be something else.

The only way I can rationalize it somehow is that Buffy is presented with two options:

a) Let Angel die. Angel may not be human, but he has a soul. Putting aside his Angelous recent past, he is working with the Scoobies trying to save humans in general and trying to save the world from the Mayor. He’s part of the group and he is her lover.
b) Feed Faith to Angel. Faith is human and has had a difficult life, but she already made her “choices.” She’s siding with evil and she’s expecting to have a bigger role once the Mayor ascends.

Given the options, young adult Buffy puts the Council’s rules aside (“not helping vampires under any circumstances”) and makes her own choice, to kill fellow human. But I still think that I’m missing something here.

Any thoughts?

More generally, we have another thread regarding the AR in S6, so playing devil’s advocate here, was the attempted murder really needed for the story somehow? What am I missing?
 

burrunjor

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I think it was, but I do agree that it should have been explored more. For instance in season 6, why did nobody, including Willow bring up Buffy's attempted murder of Faith when Willow wanted to kill Warren.
 
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I think it was, but I do agree that it should have been explored more. For instance in season 6, why did nobody, including Willow bring up Buffy's attempted murder of Faith when Willow wanted to kill Warren.
I don't think Buffy attempting to kill Faith and Willow hunting down Warren are really comparable - Faith chose to poison Angel but Buffy made no attempts to hunt her down, kill her or seek vengeance until they discovered what the cure was. Killing Faith served a higher purpose and was only necessary on account of her own actions. Whereas killing Warren served no purpose but vengeance. If Willow had attempted to bring that up then Buffy had good grounds for a rebuttal.

I think it also comes back to a s7 line 'I am the law' - which in itself echoes some of what Faith said to Buffy in Consequences. Buffy kills demons because cops can't - Faith is human but she is very much a part of that mystical realm and Buffy knows the cops cannot deal with her, there is no legal recourse to seek justice for her actions (until she chooses it). Faith is killing people, she is helping in the ascension which will kill more people and even so Buffy doesn't attempt to kill her until her death becomes necessary (through her own actions). There was definitely an argument for stopping Faith earlier - and the only way to stop her post consequences is to kill her - and Buffy chose not to out of respect or fear of the 'slayers don't take human life' rule. But slayers themselves aren't like other humans, they are part of the mystical realm and so the mystical law applies to them - and Buffy is the law. So once killing someone helping the ascension would save the life of a warrior fighting the ascension and the situation only arose because of what the first person did ... Buffy applies the law.
Warren, on the other hand, can be dealt with by cops. Human laws do apply to him.

I think she feels no guilt over it because of their shared dream. Before it happened she was too focused on what she was doing to feel anything but determination. Nevertheless she gives Faith a fair fight, she could have walked up and stabbed Faith in the back under the cover of the loud music, instead she switches the music off, alerts Faith to her presence and allows Faith to get on her feet before they start to fight. They are slayers - they are built to fight and die, it's what they do - tonight was just Faith's time, and only because what she had chosen to do.
Immediately afterwards, she is too focused on saving Angel to give any thought to Faith and then she is the hospital and that is when she has the dream. They talk to each other - civilly for the first time in ages, Faith gives her her stuff and some advice, Buffy wakes up and kisses her on the forehead and that draws a line under their relationship.
Faith is the dark shadow of Buffy finally defeated, but Buffy understands her enough and has enough compassion to realise how easily that could be her, and how Faith ended up where she did and so still has sympathy for her despite all she has done. But she did need to be stopped - and now she has been. So Buffy says her goodbye and moves on into the light.

I think metaphorically, having her look back and worry and feel guilt over destroying her shadow self wouldn't work. She fought and destroyed her own darker urges - she shouldn't look back and feel bad about it.

I think stabbing Faith was necessary. Faith had to be dealt with. The show had killed a slayer at the end of the previous season so they didn't want this one dead, they didn't want a new slayer showing up and retreading an old dynamic. They wanted Buffy moving on and growing up as the one and only slayer. And as Faith is Buffy's shadow self, her metaphorical dark half, it had to be Buffy who dealt with her - because metaphorically it is about fighting that part of herself and choosing a different and better path. Having Faith just die in the ascension fight or skip town with a witty quip wouldn't have tied up her metaphorical purpose.
 

Faded90

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I don't think Buffy attempting to kill Faith and Willow hunting down Warren are really comparable - Faith chose to poison Angel but Buffy made no attempts to hunt her down, kill her or seek vengeance until they discovered what the cure was. Killing Faith served a higher purpose and was only necessary on account of her own actions. Whereas killing Warren served no purpose but vengeance. If Willow had attempted to bring that up then Buffy had good grounds for a rebuttal.

I think it also comes back to a s7 line 'I am the law' - which in itself echoes some of what Faith said to Buffy in Consequences. Buffy kills demons because cops can't - Faith is human but she is very much a part of that mystical realm and Buffy knows the cops cannot deal with her, there is no legal recourse to seek justice for her actions (until she chooses it). Faith is killing people, she is helping in the ascension which will kill more people and even so Buffy doesn't attempt to kill her until her death becomes necessary (through her own actions). There was definitely an argument for stopping Faith earlier - and the only way to stop her post consequences is to kill her - and Buffy chose not to out of respect or fear of the 'slayers don't take human life' rule. But slayers themselves aren't like other humans, they are part of the mystical realm and so the mystical law applies to them - and Buffy is the law. So once killing someone helping the ascension would save the life of a warrior fighting the ascension and the situation only arose because of what the first person did ... Buffy applies the law.
Warren, on the other hand, can be dealt with by cops. Human laws do apply to him.

I think she feels no guilt over it because of their shared dream. Before it happened she was too focused on what she was doing to feel anything but determination. Nevertheless she gives Faith a fair fight, she could have walked up and stabbed Faith in the back under the cover of the loud music, instead she switches the music off, alerts Faith to her presence and allows Faith to get on her feet before they start to fight. They are slayers - they are built to fight and die, it's what they do - tonight was just Faith's time, and only because what she had chosen to do.
Immediately afterwards, she is too focused on saving Angel to give any thought to Faith and then she is the hospital and that is when she has the dream. They talk to each other - civilly for the first time in ages, Faith gives her her stuff and some advice, Buffy wakes up and kisses her on the forehead and that draws a line under their relationship.
Faith is the dark shadow of Buffy finally defeated, but Buffy understands her enough and has enough compassion to realise how easily that could be her, and how Faith ended up where she did and so still has sympathy for her despite all she has done. But she did need to be stopped - and now she has been. So Buffy says her goodbye and moves on into the light.

I think metaphorically, having her look back and worry and feel guilt over destroying her shadow self wouldn't work. She fought and destroyed her own darker urges - she shouldn't look back and feel bad about it.

I think stabbing Faith was necessary. Faith had to be dealt with. The show had killed a slayer at the end of the previous season so they didn't want this one dead, they didn't want a new slayer showing up and retreading an old dynamic. They wanted Buffy moving on and growing up as the one and only slayer. And as Faith is Buffy's shadow self, her metaphorical dark half, it had to be Buffy who dealt with her - because metaphorically it is about fighting that part of herself and choosing a different and better path. Having Faith just die in the ascension fight or skip town with a witty quip wouldn't have tied up her metaphorical purpose.
Fantastic post, I think it comes down to Buffy being a pragmatic person. Buffy has already felt guilt and personally responsible for Angelus doing what he did and her not stopping him earlier and she’s doing the same with Faith. Faith can’t be stopped by the police, Buffy has already experienced getting away from cops trying to arrest her for murder herself and she escaped them fairly easily. She says this herself innThis Years Girl that the cops would have no idea what to do with a slayer (side note this is why I’ve always found a lot of Buffy in Sanctuary badly written) . Unless some demon gets lucky (even then Faith has the protection of the most powerful demon in town) then Buffy is basically the only person that can stop her. Like you said Buffy never tries to kill her out of vengeance, she knows instantly it’s Faith that did it but never once even mentions going after her until she knows she could cure Angel - it’s a pragmatic decision she takes.

Inactually think Buffy DOES feel guilt in what she does, she just doesn’t dwell on it. In Two to Go she actually says in reference to Willow ‘killing people changes you, believe me I know’. When the knife goes in the atmosphere instantly changes, she’s been running on pure adrenaline and it’s clear this disappears, she looks visibly shocked at what she’s done (I personally have always thought emotionally Buffy wouldn’t have been able to drag a dying Faith across town to Angel at this point) when Willow asks what’s happens she’s in too much shock to even talk about it (Willow still thinks Faith is active when they get to the hospital to see Buffy) . They obviously have a positive conversation in their shared dream - Buffy makes it clear in the library that she believes she was speaking to Faith herself and not some kind of representation of Faith, obviously then the forehead kiss. There’s a moment in This Years Girl when we hear Buffynsay to Riley ‘you know I never stopped thinking about you’ but it’s a line overlaying a shot of Faith,I’ve always felt this is some editing to show that Buffy DOES think about Faith. She’s the only one when Faith wakes up to want to help her,her first thought being ‘what if she’s alone and scared?’ She asks if she’s ok and makes it clear they could talk things through ‘it doesn’t have to be like this you know’.

I think it boils down to the pragmatism of Buffy, Faith is the same once she’s came back down to Earth. Neither dwells on individual acts or apologising for a specific thing that either did. I think Buffy felt regret and possible guilt for the Faith situation as a whole (apparently this is what her ‘Faith and I just made that bed’ in Restless is about) but I don’t think she dwelled much on the stabbing
 

Athene

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I think since Faith was alive it allowed Buffy to not feel so much guilt. Joss said he didn't have Faith die because he didn't want Buffy to be a murderer but then that contradicts the whole thing because he's basically saying it was alright for Buffy to essentially kill Faith but if she had actually done it he'd have to write Buffy dealing with that. But attempted murder is pretty serious too 😅
 

Faded90

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I think since Faith was alive it allowed Buffy to not feel so much guilt. Joss said he didn't have Faith die because he didn't want Buffy to be a murderer but then that contradicts the whole thing because he's basically saying it was alright for Buffy to essentially kill Faith but if she had actually done it he'd have to write Buffy dealing with that. But attempted murder is pretty serious too 😅
Ah attempted murder, that classic grey area 😂
 
Athene
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Indeed 😄

r2dh2

Never go for the kill when you can go for the pain
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I don't think Buffy attempting to kill Faith and Willow hunting down Warren are really comparable - Faith chose to poison Angel but Buffy made no attempts to hunt her down, kill her or seek vengeance until they discovered what the cure was. Killing Faith served a higher purpose and was only necessary on account of her own actions. Whereas killing Warren served no purpose but vengeance. If Willow had attempted to bring that up then Buffy had good grounds for a rebuttal.

I think it also comes back to a s7 line 'I am the law' - which in itself echoes some of what Faith said to Buffy in Consequences. Buffy kills demons because cops can't - Faith is human but she is very much a part of that mystical realm and Buffy knows the cops cannot deal with her, there is no legal recourse to seek justice for her actions (until she chooses it). Faith is killing people, she is helping in the ascension which will kill more people and even so Buffy doesn't attempt to kill her until her death becomes necessary (through her own actions). There was definitely an argument for stopping Faith earlier - and the only way to stop her post consequences is to kill her - and Buffy chose not to out of respect or fear of the 'slayers don't take human life' rule. But slayers themselves aren't like other humans, they are part of the mystical realm and so the mystical law applies to them - and Buffy is the law. So once killing someone helping the ascension would save the life of a warrior fighting the ascension and the situation only arose because of what the first person did ... Buffy applies the law.
Warren, on the other hand, can be dealt with by cops. Human laws do apply to him.

I think she feels no guilt over it because of their shared dream. Before it happened she was too focused on what she was doing to feel anything but determination. Nevertheless she gives Faith a fair fight, she could have walked up and stabbed Faith in the back under the cover of the loud music, instead she switches the music off, alerts Faith to her presence and allows Faith to get on her feet before they start to fight. They are slayers - they are built to fight and die, it's what they do - tonight was just Faith's time, and only because what she had chosen to do.
Immediately afterwards, she is too focused on saving Angel to give any thought to Faith and then she is the hospital and that is when she has the dream. They talk to each other - civilly for the first time in ages, Faith gives her her stuff and some advice, Buffy wakes up and kisses her on the forehead and that draws a line under their relationship.
Faith is the dark shadow of Buffy finally defeated, but Buffy understands her enough and has enough compassion to realise how easily that could be her, and how Faith ended up where she did and so still has sympathy for her despite all she has done. But she did need to be stopped - and now she has been. So Buffy says her goodbye and moves on into the light.

I think metaphorically, having her look back and worry and feel guilt over destroying her shadow self wouldn't work. She fought and destroyed her own darker urges - she shouldn't look back and feel bad about it.

I think stabbing Faith was necessary. Faith had to be dealt with. The show had killed a slayer at the end of the previous season so they didn't want this one dead, they didn't want a new slayer showing up and retreading an old dynamic. They wanted Buffy moving on and growing up as the one and only slayer. And as Faith is Buffy's shadow self, her metaphorical dark half, it had to be Buffy who dealt with her - because metaphorically it is about fighting that part of herself and choosing a different and better path. Having Faith just die in the ascension fight or skip town with a witty quip wouldn't have tied up her metaphorical purpose.
I certainly can go along with this reading of the events. Tbh, a big part of my issue with the stabbing was the Angel component. I didn’t want Buffy doing it *only* for Angel, I wanted to find a bigger meaning. But I’ve been thinking about it and I think that it does make sense:
  • Angel can be interpreted again as the last straw for Buffy. Faith tried to strangle Xander and torture Willow, killed more people, became the right-hand of the Mayor, and so on. Angel on the edge of dying was only the last situation that needed Buffy’s immediate action and it’s consistent with the theme of this season, Buffy was putting family and friends first and everything else was still working itself out.
  • I also thought that maybe Buffy stabbing Faith during the ascension would have been a suitable alternative, still without killing her. But I do believe that it had be clear that Buffy and Faith’s confrontation was only between the two of them and not collateral damage within the bigger battle.
  • Faith tells Buffy at the end of Enemies: “You kill me, you become me, and you’re not ready for that… not yet.” So besides the compassion angle that you suggest, we also need to show that this isn’t true and, as you said, Buffy metaphorically defeats her shadow.
  • I think that the sequences of events makes sense: Angel is injured, they believe that they need to kill a slayer, Buffy goes after Faith and stabs her, Faith survives and ends up in a coma, Buffy feeds herself to Angel, Buffy survives, Buffy and Faith share dream, Buffy wakes up and kisses Faith in the forehead, and goes after the Mayor…
Yes, Buffy attempts to murder Faith, but also shows that she doesn’t become Faith. She is ready to kill her but not out of rage, revenge, jealousy, self-righteousness, struggle for power, as collateral damage, etc., she is ready to kill her to save a core member of her group. Once the “need” of killing Faith is gone, Buffy doesn’t attempt to do it again, even if she has the advantage (Faith being in a coma). Buffy effectively overcomes her dark-self, forgives Faith and moves on, and there is no need for her to live with regrets.
 

darkspook

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I think the makers wanted it to feel like she was going to fight Faith to stop her once and for all. Faith had crossed the line, gotten away with two many things and needed to be stopped one way or the other. What I didn't like was the fact it was almost basically 'I'm going to handcuff Faith and then feed her to my undead boyfriend!' I mean that was her plan yes? Handcuff Faith, drag her to Angel's place and let him suck her dry?
 

Btvs fan

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Ah attempted murder, that classic grey area 😂
Basically a cop out by Joss. Like with Hank dissappearnce I think it was just easier for him.
Lol in Sanctuary he has Buffy say "I can't be in your club I've never murdered anybody" I guess attempted murder is cool !!
 

Faded90

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Basically a cop out by Joss. Like with Hank dissappearnce I think it was just easier for him.
Lol in Sanctuary he has Buffy say "I can't be in your club I've never murdered anybody" I guess attempted murder is cool !!
Honestly there’s multiple lines they have Buffy say in that episode that don’t feel right. Like her insistence on jail when in her own show she’d said that the cops wouldn’t be able to handle a slayer - which she was right about particularly as she’s just literally evaded captivity when she actually WAS Faith . That whole final scene in the police station I have to wipe from memory completely 😂
 

Btvs fan

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Honestly there’s multiple lines they have Buffy say in that episode that don’t feel right. Like her insistence on jail when in her own show she’d said that the cops wouldn’t be able to handle a slayer - which she was right about particularly as she’s just literally evaded captivity when she actually WAS Faith . That whole final scene in the police station I have to wipe from memory completely 😂
Thing is all the Buffy lines are all Joss. Tim Minear said he didn't feel comfortable writing the Buffy scenes so Joss did them
 
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