Who Are You (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"Who Are You?"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy4x16.jpg
Sarah Michelle Gellar portraying Faith in Buffy's body, looking at herself in the mirror
Episode no. Season 4
Episode 16
Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss Whedon
Production code 4ABB16
Original air date February 29, 2000
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Who Are You" is the 16th episode of season 4 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, it originally aired February 29, 2000 on the WB Television Network.

Plot[edit]

Note: Buffy and Faith will be referred to by the character they are, rather than the body they're in.

Buffy, in Faith's body, is abducted by the Watchers Council's team. Meanwhile Faith, in Buffy's body, gives herself a makeover and heads to the Bronze, where she has ruthless fun at the expense of Spike and Tara. Tara recognizes that something is wrong, and she and Willow perform a spell to find the real Buffy. Faith visits Riley and has sex with him while Buffy escapes the Council's team and heads back to Sunnydale in search of Giles and her friends. Buffy convinces Giles of her identity with the help of Willow and Tara. Meanwhile, Adam convinces a group of vampires of their superiority and they attack a church. Faith tries to leave town, but after seeing what's happening on the news, goes to the church to help while Buffy does the same. Faith and Riley each kill one of the three gang members, but the leader overpowers Faith. Before he can kill her, Buffy stakes him from behind. They fight, and Buffy (with the help of Willow and Tara's own Draconian Katra device) restores herself and Faith to their rightful bodies. Faith subsequently escapes and leaves town, and Buffy discovers that Riley had sex with Faith during the body swap.

Production[edit]

In a scene where Faith in Buffy's body tries to seduce Riley, the camera "cut[s] to a medium close-up shot of her leather-clad backside", ostensibly Riley's point-of-view shot. Jason Middleton notes that this is a rare case where the audience's gaze is "positioned in a highly fetishistic relation towards Buffy's body". However, Middleton notes, the show disavows this viewing position by reminding the audience that it is Faith's positioning the body, connoting its "look-at-me-ness"; Buffy herself is disconnected from this image of her body. Riley, with whom the viewer is identified, disavows the shot by appearing confused and taken aback rather than sexually predatory. Middleton concludes this covertly allows "a scopophilic position ... for the viewer, even as the show disavows this position".[1]

Eliza Dushku is credited "as Buffy" in guest starring credits, not as Faith, to reflect the plot of the episode.

Analysis[edit]

Gregory Stevenson, in Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, finds it significant that Faith's moment where she "confesses the truth about herself and begins to experience the weight of moral responsibility" occurs in a church.[2]

In their book discussing existentialism in Buffy, Richardson and Rabb argue that this episode and the previous (intended or not) explore the impact of Sartre's Look - the outside view that causes a person to redefine themselves from the perspective of the Other. Faith can now literally see herself as Buffy sees her. When the real Buffy escapes from the Watchers’ Council and challenges Faith, the two fight, and Faith (in Buffy’s body) repeatedly punches her own face in a fit of self-loathing, shouting, "You’re nothing! Disgusting, murderous bitch! You're nothing! You're disgusting!" According to Richardson and Rabb, "Faith is finally seeing herself as Buffy sees her and is even harder on herself than Buffy has ever been."[3]

Continuity[edit]

Arc significance[edit]

  • Faith literally takes over Buffy's life, realizing an earlier sense of anxiety that Buffy experienced in "Faith, Hope & Trick" when Faith first arrives in Sunnydale. This theme is explored further in Season 7, particularly the episodes "Empty Places", and "Touched".
  • Crossover with Angel: Faith ends up escaping to Los Angeles in "Five by Five".
  • While in Buffy's body and thus in the Scoobies' company, Faith vividly imagines killing Willow; in "Sanctuary," she has a similar fantasy of killing Angel. As Buffy, Faith acknowledges Willow's hatred of Faith, first expressed in "Choices," where Willow mocked Faith's troubled past and told her that, unlike Buffy and Angel, Willow did not think Faith could ever redeem herself. Willow would later reconciles with Faith after she experiences her own spiral during Season 6, which gives her the perspective of what Faith has gone through.
  • When Faith flirts and teases with Spike in Buffy's body, Spike clearly reveals some of the repressed lust he harbors for Buffy, foreshadowing their later relationship.
  • Spike and Faith do not meet again until three years later, when the Slayer returns to Sunnydale as an ally against the First Evil. Faith reminds him of this conversation, and he clearly remembers it, noting that it is "not the kind of thing a man forgets."
  • Both slayers come to understand each other a bit better. As Buffy (in Faith's body) feels how lonely, helpless Faith really is and understands how people actually treat her. Faith (in Buffy's body) starts to feel remorse and feels the power of how good it feels to help, as she helped the girl in The Bronze and was actually thanked.
  • Faith (in Buffy's body) becomes the first person to recognize Willow and Tara's romantic relationship when she comments that Willow "isn't driving stick anymore." She, along with Oz in "New Moon Rising" and Spike in "The Yoko Factor", are the only characters to recognize it without being told.
  • This episode also contains the first explicit references stating that Tara and Willow are having a romantic relationship (previously all that had been given were "hints").
  • Tara demonstrates her power, as she is the only one who recognizes that Buffy is not acting herself: the first of many times Tara sees more than meets the eye when it comes to the Scooby Gang's problems. She shows her magical knowledge, as she knows how to find out what is wrong.
  • Tara and Willow's spell to find Buffy in the nether realm is used as a metaphor for their first sexual experience.
  • Buffy (in Faith's body) convinces Giles of her identity by describing people and events from past episodes, including Ethan Rayne's transformation of Giles into a demon ("A New Man"), Giles' girlfriend Olivia (first seen in "The Freshman"), and Buffy's telepathic discovery that Giles had sex with her mother Joyce ("Earshot").
  • Faith (in Buffy's body) states that "Faith's" arrest was "poetic justice". This references Faith and Buffy's earlier confrontation in "Graduation Day" in which Buffy states that sacrificing Faith's blood as a cure for Angel would be "poetic justice", as Faith was the one who poisoned him.
  • While Faith (in Buffy's body) is being punched by the vampire in the church, Buffy (in Faith's body) stakes the vampire from behind in the same way as Faith had done in Season 3's "Bad Girls".
  • Willow references "The Pack" when she refers to possession by hyena.
  • When Buffy is "not herself" for some reason, she often appears with crimped hair, as she does in this episode while Faith is possessing her body. This also occurs noticeably in "Beer Bad", when Buffy becomes a prehistoric version of herself,in "Something Blue", when Willow's spell causes her to become engaged to Spike and in the next episode when Jonathan bends reality.
  • When Faith (in Buffy's body) is talking to Tara in the Bronze, she says: "I guess you never really know someone 'til you've been inside their skin." She is referring to a line in the book To Kill a Mockingbird: "You don't really know a person until you climb into their skin and walk around in it."
  • Faith (in Buffy's body) sleeps with Riley, further complicating Buffy's relationship with him.
  • The episode reveals Riley is a regular churchgoer. Unlike many openly Christian TV characters, he is clearly not Christian-like about sex - not only in accepting his fellow soldiers' premarital sexual activities (and engaging in premarital sex himself in this episode) but in assisting the UC Sunnydale Lesbian Alliance in "Something Blue".
  • Adam begins rallying vampires to aid him in his plans.
  • Faith taking steps to rejoin the side of good.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jason Middleton (2007). "Buffy as Femme Fatale: The Cult Heroine and the Male Spectator". In Elana Levine and Lisa Parks. Undead TV. Duke University Press. pp. 158–160. ISBN 978-0-8223-4043-0. 
  2. ^ Stevenson, Gregory (2003), Televised Morality: The Case of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Oxford: University Press of America, p. 122, ISBN 0-7618-2833-8 
  3. ^ Richardson, J. Michael; Rabb, J. Douglas (2007), "Buffy, Faith and Bad Faith: Choosing to be the Chosen One", Slayage 23, retrieved 2007-07-26 

External links[edit]