This Year's Girl
|"This Year's Girl"|
|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
Faith uses the Draconian Katra device the Mayor gave her on Buffy which will cause them to swap bodies
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Michael Gershman|
|Written by||Doug Petrie|
|Original air date||February 22, 2000|
"This Year's Girl" is the 15th episode of season 4 of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Written by Doug Petrie and directed by Michael Gershman, it originally aired on February 22, 2000 on the WB network.
In this episode, Eliza Dushku returns as Faith. While Buffy and the Scooby Gang (now with Riley on board) try to find Adam, Faith wakes up from a coma and finds the Mayor has left her a device which she uses to switch bodies with Buffy. Members of the Watchers' Council arrive in Sunnydale, alerted to Faith's waking.
In a dream, Buffy and Faith make a bed, until Faith's blood begins to drip onto the clean white sheets. Buffy twists the knife in Faith's stomach. Xander is investigating the Blaster gun from The Initiative, but lacks the knowledge to fix it. Giles is concerned about Buffy, who has been patrolling non-stop for days without finding Adam. On patrol, she finds Adam has strung up a demon on a tree, opened up like a dissection experiment. When Riley wakes up in the military hospital, he attempts to leave but Forrest and Graham try to talk him out of it. Buffy explains her plans for breaking Riley out, but it proves unnecessary as he has escaped and is waiting in Xander's basement.
At the hospital, Faith, still in a coma, is dreaming she is having a picnic with the Mayor. The dream becomes a nightmare when Buffy arrives, slits the Mayor's throat, then chases Faith into an open grave. As Faith climbs out of the grave in her dream, she awakens from her coma. Pulling free of the tubes in her body, Faith walks out into the hospital halls and encounters a girl. She thinks it's still Graduation Day, but the girl informs her of the date and that the Mayor died at the graduation ceremony. Faith leaves the hospital in the girl's clothes. When the hospital staff discovers Faith is gone, a nurse makes a call, asking for a team to be sent out.
Faith walks around Sunnydale looking at all the things that have changed, ending up outside Giles' house eavesdropping on the Scooby Gang's plans to attack Adam. A phone call informs Buffy that Faith is awake and on the loose. On campus the next day, Buffy and Willow run into Faith. The two Slayers talk about what happened—Faith taunting Buffy about having broken up with Angel, for whom she almost killed Faith—and fight briefly before the cops arrive and Faith runs. At the hospital, a helicopter lands, and three men carrying briefcases exit.
Xander and Giles search the streets for Faith and Adam but instead encounter Spike, who claims he intends to help Faith kill them all. Buffy and Riley discuss their jobs working to fight the forces of evil. Buffy tells him he has a choice in what he does with his life. When the conversation turns to Faith, Buffy doesn't mention she stabbed her to save Angel. Faith is approached by a demon who tries to give her a gift, but she kills him and runs off with the box. She breaks into a multi-media store to watch a video tape of the Mayor on a VCR and then opens a box from him that contains a special gift, which is later revealed to be called the Draconian Katra.
Giles finds the three men with briefcases are at his apartment. One of them says "Hello, Rupert", alerting Giles and the audience that the men are from the Watcher's Council.
Faith arrives at Buffy's house and takes Joyce captive; she is surprised when Buffy flies through the window. The Slayers have a fight that travels through almost every room of the house while Joyce calls the police. Faith, holding the gift from the Mayor, grabs Buffy's hand. A light flows through them and Buffy punches Faith, knocking her unconscious. Buffy smashes the metal contraption from the Mayor and when Joyce asks if she's okay, Buffy responds with Faith's characteristic answer: "Five by five."
In the audio commentary for the episode, writer Doug Petrie revealed he almost titled this episode "Rise and Shine". Also according to Petrie, this episode makes references to many other movies including The Shawshank Redemption (the shot of Faith crawling out of the grave in the pouring rain), The Silence of the Lambs (the demon that's been cut open and eviscerated, hanging by trees), and Star Trek (through dialogue).
In the original version of the scene in which Buffy and Faith meet again for the first time, Doug Petrie had written Buffy attacking Faith first. Joss Whedon rejected this sequence because he felt it was "too unsympathetic to hit a girl who had just been in a coma" 
The fire in the fireplace in the scene where Faith is spying on Buffy was a huge ordeal to produce. It was a real fire, and required a fire marshall on set as well as a certain number of fire extinguishers at the ready. Doug Petrie felt as though the ordeal was worth it because the scene needed to feel homey and cozy.
During the final fight scene between Buffy and Faith, watch the left of the screen as the fight moves down the staircase. There you will see a camera trying unsuccessfully to move out of the shot.
This is the first episode in which the audience sees a dream sequence from Faith's perspective. Both this episode and "Who Are You" are meant to explore Buffy and Faith's relationship from Faith's perspective, as well as Faith's perspective of her relationship with the Mayor. Faith's dream sequences depict her Norman Rockwell vision of the way her life was, in which she is a normal girl who is loved by a father (the Mayor), and her belief that Buffy is the monster who ruined it all. In Faith's third and final dream sequence, Faith finally defeats Buffy and wakes from her coma.
The characterization of Faith in this episode is "very Lucifer." She wakes up in a version of hell, the hospital basement. She emerges from this hell and goes after the person who put her there.
In their book discussing existentialism in Buffy, Richardson and Rabb argue that this episode and the next (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. They interpret Faith's defection to the Mayor and relentless dreams of Buffy stalking her as Faith's attempt to escape Buffy’s judgmental Look and the accompanying guilt it brings. When the two Slayers meet again, Faith immediately denies her possession by Buffy, saying, "You’re not me." However, she is beginning to acknowledge the guilt brought on by Buffy's Look; when Buffy expresses concern for the innocent people surrounding them, Faith claims there is no such thing as an innocent person. Richardson and Rabb point out that, therefore, Faith herself "must realize at some level she is not innocent, but is in fact guilty of horrendous crimes."
- In a dream, Buffy and Faith make a bed; Faith says "Little sister is coming," foreshadowing the arrival of Dawn at the beginning of the next season. This is the second reference of Faith to Dawn's arrival. In third season finale episode, in a dream, Faith says, to Buffy, "Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0." 730 is the number of days until the end of Season 5, when Buffy will die again.
- The post-mortem video Faith receives from The Mayor is particularly interesting because The Mayor expresses serious doubts about his ascension plans being successful. He also encourages Faith to 'go out with a bang'- perhaps mirroring his own thought process prior to his ascension.
- The concept for the gadget Faith receives from the Mayor was based on gadgets designed by the American comic book artist Jack Kirby.
- At 9 minutes into the episode during the scene where Buffy, Willow and Xander discover the Demon dissected by Adam, you can see a boom operator in the background.
- At 18 minutes into the episode, in a scene where Faith is walking down the middle of a road in Sunnydale, the same couple (a man in beige trousers & a woman in a light-blue coat) cross the road behind Faith three times, always in the same direction. They are then seen crossing back the way they came a few seconds later.
- At 38 minutes into the episode during the scene where Buffy and Faith fight, you can see a handheld camera panning on the Left side of the stairs.
- Writer Doug Petrie's commentary for the episode on the season 4 DVD.
- Richardson, J. Michael; Rabb, J. Douglas (2007), "Buffy, Faith and Bad Faith: Choosing to be the Chosen One", Slayage 23, retrieved 2007-07-26
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