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Discussion of 3.07 "Revelations" - Aired 11/17/1998 (WB-US)

Priceless

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Xander is not one of my favourite characters but manipulation is about deliberately using someone to get what you want without regard to the other person and I don't think Xander wants anything from Faith when he's telling her what's happened. It is Faith who decides what she'll do when just presented with Xander's version of the facts. Xander is just happy to jump on board with Faith's plan, right up to when they find Giles and then he tries to stop Faith.
 

thetopher

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One important difference is that when Xander encourages Faith, he actually thinks it's a good thing, justice served, and doesn't trust Buffy's judgment. Post, on the other hand, knows Angel will try to stop her and is trying to destroy the glove that she wants.

But does Xander really think it through? Does he genuinely believe that the outcome of 'Faith attacking Angel' is going to be good? Does he see the consequences of what that would do between Buffy, Faith and himself if she actually succeeded in killing Angel?
Or is he just angry and impulsive. Though I still don't think he has that much regard for Faith.
The difference between their manipulation is calculation I think. Xander's thinking strongly resembles the 'kick his ass' comment in that is something done in the moment. It makes it more forgivable.
 

Faded90

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But does Xander really think it through? Does he genuinely believe that the outcome of 'Faith attacking Angel' is going to be good? Does he see the consequences of what that would do between Buffy, Faith and himself if she actually succeeded in killing Angel?
Or is he just angry and impulsive. Though I still don't think he has that much regard for Faith.
The difference between their manipulation is calculation I think. Xander's thinking strongly resembles the 'kick his ass' comment in that is something done in the moment. It makes it more forgivable.
I think this is the problem. He knows Faith is capable of killing Angel, he has plenty of time to get between the bronze and the library to think ‘is this the right thing?’ But he doesn’t and instead is giddy to want the crossbow to take with him. He doesn’t care about the possible effects on Buffy/Faiths relationship just like he didn’t care about the effects of Buffy/Willows relationship when he put words in Willow’s mouth when Willow had consistently been the most understanding of Buffy’s dilemma with Angel/Angelus
 

thrasherpix

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But does Xander really think it through? Does he genuinely believe that the outcome of 'Faith attacking Angel' is going to be good? Does he see the consequences of what that would do between Buffy, Faith and himself if she actually succeeded in killing Angel?
Or is he just angry and impulsive. Though I still don't think he has that much regard for Faith.
The difference between their manipulation is calculation I think. Xander's thinking strongly resembles the 'kick his ass' comment in that is something done in the moment. It makes it more forgivable.

Here's what I think is happening:

Xander is stewing over guilt. This is why he was out by himself in the first place when he chanced upon Angel. Angel (or Angelus) who murdered Jenny, tortured Giles, and tried to destroy the world (could mention other things, like in season 2 when Angel put him in a headlock when confronting Spike, I can say I wouldn't be quick to forgive and or forget over that, either). Of course he was thrown for a loop.

Then he finds out Buffy has been hiding him (Buffy unfortunately inherited that awful trait from her mother of lying to herself and those around her when it came to the men she was into, and she's lucky the screenwriter gods generally gave her a pass for it, unlike Joyce and all too many women like her in the real world)...and then, if that wasn't enough, she sees Buffy KISSING him. Even without jealousy that should freak him out.

He takes it to the others. He consciously has some valid concerns and angry that Buffy lied to him, while subconsciously sees a way to project his own guilt into Buffy and Angel (so like his own recent romantic deceptions), and thus feel better about himself. This is self-deception and indulgence much as Buffy had been doing earlier. Xander is also the type to be as unforgiving as Buffy in some ways (Buffy was glad that one ghost was caught up in his own hell before she was possessed by him, she should understand better). And seeing them kiss does beg the question of how much further it will go...I'd be upset myself (as were the others) for pragmatic reasons (and as Willow said, Buffy can't see straight when it comes to Angel).

Unfortunately, nothing is resolved. (Perhaps if he overheard what Giles said to Buffy after the rest had left--harsh words which Buffy deserved every one of--he might've been placated enough to not be so angry and bitter while also stewing in his own guilt.) So he was still stewing in his negativity (and subconsciously trying to forget his own guilt so that a lot of his self-hatred transferred to Buffy and Angel) when Faith shows up with her own issues, who has genuinely been manipulated by a diabolical mind that, unlike Xander, cares nothing about justice.

Faith tries taking her hostility out on Xander, only for Xander to give her a new target. Not in the way of Post, but just in bitter anger that speaks his mind. Unlike Post, Xander thinks Angel is a monster (and he has more reasons than Angelus to think so) so when Faith says she's going to kill him, he sees her as on the side of justice, as opposed to achieving some diabolical end or hurting someone he believes is innocent. This is why that when he finds Giles he doesn't believe it was Angel as there were no bite marks, it wasn't his style...but Faith, also feeling betrayed by Buffy (and likely wanting to show herself the better Slayer) stays the course until Post attacks her (and also worth noting she saw her former Watcher killed, so seeing Angel, vamp-faced, over a fallen Post is going to trigger her and make her think she's on the side of the angels in this case).

Strangely, Xander says "your boyfriend isn't as cured as you thought" when Buffy shows up, though he already stated he knew it wasn't Angel who attacked Giles. This speaks to me of his bitterness. But it's not open manipulation the way Post was, it was dysfunctional teenage passions in him and Faith both (as it was Buffy earlier).

In short, Xander is flawed like the rest of the cast (I'll ignore Oz here). Buffy screwed up, and then so did Xander and Faith. Unlike Post there was no grand manipulation or scheming, it was just emotions run amok making them do things they'll regret later. That's part of being human....and making a compelling story.
 
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thetopher
thetopher
Excellent post

r2dh2

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Xander repeats to Faith exactly the same things that he said to Buffy earlier. I see him as never stopping himself to think whether Faith knew the whole story or not. He talks about Angel as if she were fully aware of everything that happened in S2.

I agree that it is a little convenient for the development of the rest of episode, but as viewers we know that Faith doesn’t have the whole story, not even part of the story, she only has the very broad strokes: Angel was involved with Buffy, something happened and he went bad, Buffy doesn’t want to talk about it. And we know this because Faith was trying to get more information about Angel earlier in the same episode.

IMO, Xander never deceives Faith on purpose, he never tells Faith that Angel is out of control and has to be killed, he never willingly omits information, he is simply blinded by his anger and jumps at Faith’s offer of doing something. The moment that he sees Giles, he starts asking himself if what he’s thinking is really what is going on, but Faith is already running out the door. And he has the tendency of acting impulsively, he does something similar in Entropy.

And yes, maybe other people would have used the time between The Bronze and the library to think it through, but I see the library scene with Giles as the writers clearly telling us that for Xander this didn’t happen. And very interestingly, when Buffy arrives, Xander is again trying to lie to himself, or at the very least, trying to justify his actions: “Your boyfriend's not as cured as you thought.”

They also make a point of letting us know that he never lied (or manipulated) to Faith:

Buffy: (very worried) “What did you tell her?
Xander: “Only what everyone knows. She's a big girl. Came to her own conclusions.”

For me, the key take-away from this exchange is: Does everybody have the same information? This is the question that is never asked and this is also part of what Gwendolyn Post exploits in this episode.
 
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thetopher

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Really good points @thrashpix, I never fully appreciated how Xander's illicit going's on with Willow played into his thought process. When Xander's self-hatred manifests it tends to get other people (and only other people) hurt.

Faith tries taking her hostility out on Xander, only for Xander to give her a new target.

I never saw Faith as being initially hostile when she approaches Xander, she's just hurt because she thought that up until that point she was part of the group. She's just trying to suss out what's going on.
The reaction to the whole Buffy/Angel thing is a combination of disbelief at Buffy, wanting to prove herself as a slayer, jealousy and also seeing an opportunity to ingratiate herself into the Scoobies by helping out the others with 'their problem.'


They also make a point of letting us know that he never lied (or manipulated) to Faith:

Buffy: (very worried) “What did you tell her?
Xander: “Only what everyone knows. She's a big girl. Came to her own conclusions.”

The issue I have with this is we don't know how much knows Faith was told about Angel and his curse. When Xander and Willow are giving Faith 'the tour' they just refer to Angel 'did this' and 'Angel did that', no need to distinguish about the past because the guy is long gone (which is a little insensitive imo). But Faith is obviously still curious about how the whole Buffy and Angel thing came about, which would be much more likely if she didn't know about the whole 'perfect happiness' thing.
Not to mention that out of the whole group Xander is the one who distinguishes the least between souled and unsouled Angel, so he does know much more than Faith. Giving somebody just enough info to do what you want them to is manipulation of a sort.
 

Faded90

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Really good points @thrashpix, I never fully appreciated how Xander's illicit going's on with Willow played into his thought process. When Xander's self-hatred manifests it tends to get other people (and only other people) hurt.



I never saw Faith as being initially hostile when she approaches Xander, she's just hurt because she thought that up until that point she was part of the group. She's just trying to suss out what's going on.
The reaction to the whole Buffy/Angel thing is a combination of disbelief at Buffy, wanting to prove herself as a slayer, jealousy and also seeing an opportunity to ingratiate herself into the Scoobies by helping out the others with 'their problem.'




The issue I have with this is we don't know how much knows Faith was told about Angel and his curse. When Xander and Willow are giving Faith 'the tour' they just refer to Angel 'did this' and 'Angel did that', no need to distinguish about the past because the guy is long gone (which is a little insensitive imo). But Faith is obviously still curious about how the whole Buffy and Angel thing came about, which would be much more likely if she didn't know about the whole 'perfect happiness' thing.
Not to mention that out of the whole group Xander is the one who distinguishes the least between souled and unsouled Angel, so he does know much more than Faith. Giving somebody just enough info to do what you want them to is manipulation of a sort.
I think it’s obvious that Xander and Willow majorly played down the more emotional side for Buffy of the Angel/us situation. Her ‘big love big loss ought to move on but you’re not’ ‘that’s what your friends tell me’ and Buffy’s obviously very private and doesn’t like to open up so doesn’t really elaborate further when Faith tries to push the question further. Faith doesn’t understand why Buffy is still torn on the situation. When she sees Xander at the Bronze and mentions the ‘secret meeting’ (obviously Faith doesn’t know that Buffy herself didn’t even know about this meeting) it’s noticeable that she also assumes that their meeting must have been to talk about her. Xander doesn’t actually correct her on this, just says that Angel is ‘bigger news’ Faith and Xander are both coming from an emotional place but Faiths is a reactive moment in the heat of the situation whereas Xander’s a lot more calculated about it
 

Mr Trick

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This episode grows on me more everytime I see it. Defo a sleeper episode not just for this season but for the show. It just ticks a lot of the boxes for me. Love the pulpy B-Movie feel. The final big setpiece is really nicely done with strong CGI effects too. Gwendolyn Post is a fun one shot villain ("Faith word of advice your a idiot" :D ). But also there's some meaty character stuff with the Scoobies. That scene with Buffy and Giles in the library is one of the most powerful moments between them. Like how they set up intrigue with Buffy and Faith at the end too.
 
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