Written by Tim Minear & Joss Whedon
Directed by: James Lange
[Follow this link for a Review of the Buffy, Angel, Riley scenes in:
"Five by Five" we saw Faith reduced to her lowest point, a point she
probably didn't realize she could reach. She
had been left without any shred of self-respect and was helplessly asking to be
put out of her misery. But she was
still not yet at the point where she was explicitly looking for redemption.
Here I am happy draw upon the parallel between her and Marquez.
Both Marquez and Faith had souls and, as Wesley pointed out, both
therefore had "deep down inside an urge to do what's right."
But that does not mean they will do so.
When trying to persuade Marquez to testify in the murder case, Angel had
gonna have to face your demons sometime."
reply, Marquez said "What if I don't want to face my demons?"
Angel's counter is "Then you'll have to face mine." In other
words, "I will force you to testify."
And, while it is not made explicit, it may very well be that that is what
happened. Marquez testifies not
because he sees the light but because the consequences of not doing so are more
immediately painful. Thus, although
Marquez has the possibility to be redeemed, he is not.
With this parallel the writers may be telling us that redemption lies in
Faith's hands and she may make the wrong choice.
And this possibility is reinforced dramatically by the scene in which, in
a daydream, she repeatedly stabs Angel. This
is a reprise of the scene in "Who Are You" when she attacks Willow.
Later we see Faith with a real knife and Angel has to disarm her and she
makes one attempt to run away. In all of these episodes we are clearly being
warned just how dangerous and unstable Faith still is.
Redemption is no certainty.
yet in the end she gives herself up to the Police. There are, it seems to me, therefore, two questions before
us. First of all, how
credible is it that a person who has been given so many opportunities to change
would do so now? Secondly is her
action in doing so any form of redemption? Does it have a meaning at all or is
it – a bit like the coma in which she found herself in
GD2 – a cop out. It seems
to me that the most important things the writers have to do is to explain her
decision to give herself up now in terms which make sense, given all the other
opportunities she wasted. I think
they have. If there has been one
consistent theme in Faith's life it has been the importance of relationships in
it. She had an alcoholic mother. In
"Consequences" she implied that (presumably before she became a
Slayer) men had taken advantage of her sexually. Instead of a friend she seemed
to think of Buffy as competition and she certainly resented her "holier
than thou attitude". Wesley as
a watcher had let her down. As she said in “Enemies” to Angel
I'm not so good at apologies. Mostly because I think the world's out to screw me
so I'm generally more owed than owing.”
is the key to her refusal to take responsibility for her own actions.
It was always someone else’s fault.
For her the key moment was when she killed Alan.
That was an accident. But
because she refused to face up to what she had done it led to her alliance with
the Mayor. The rest, her first deliberate murder of the demon, trying to
steal Angel’s soul and finally killing poor harmless Lester followed on from
this. The Mayor valued her and
cared about her and she trusted him. Everyone
else had let her down. On each step on the way down she justified her actions to
herself by insisting she was the wronged one. This is a picture of someone who had given up control of her
life, abdicated any sense of responsibility for it. As she said to Buffy on the roof in “Sanctuary”:
all about control. You have no idea what it's like on the other side.
Where nothing's in control, nothing makes sense. There is just pain and
hate and nothing you do means anything.”
is not that she could not control her actions it was just that, once on a
downward spiral, it was easier not to. It
was easier to trust the Mayor. And
once he was gone what was left for Faith - just the hate and with it, because
she had a soul, the pain of what she had done.
There are obvious parallels here with someone in the grasp of an
addiction. Deep down she wanted to
change but she could not. So she
kept on taking the easier way out. In
“Five by Five” any time someone said something she didn’t like she
resorted to violence without thinking. In
“Sanctuary” too she does the same with Angel – she hits him almost be
instinct. That is why he
doubts that she can be “free”. Freedom means being in control of your own life.
could not free herself on her own. But
for the first time she had real help: Angel.
By the end of “Five by Five” he had achieved a position of moral
ascendancy over her. He was the one
to whom she had to turn. In turn he
was what she desperately wanted – someone who cared about her.
With that came a reason to value herself; a reason that this time
provided an incentive to change. That
was the beginning of her looking for redemption.
The question was whether she could achieve it.
What Angel told her was that she had to start with her pain; accept it
for what it is. It meant that she
had done wrong – not someone else. There
was no justification in what she had done and she had to take responsibility for
it. Only then would she be free.
are no quick fixes here. We are not
shown Faith being redeemed. Angel
stresses that redemption is not a single change of heart.
It is a process in which Faith has to work through the first five minutes
and then the next and then the next. And
it has to be for life. Angel puts
it this way:
because you've decided to change doesn't mean that the world is ready for you
to. The truth is, no matter how much you suffer, no matter how many good
deeds you do to try to make up for the past, you may never balance out the
cosmic scale. The only thing I can promise you is that you'll probably be
haunted - maybe for the rest of your life."
he is saying that she will never be completely free of the legacy of what she
has done. Instead she will have to
struggle for the rest of her life with what she has done.
There is nothing particularly profound here.
I don’t think we have been given any devastating new insights into the
nature of sin or redemption. But what it does say it says clearly and in doing
so makes a great deal of sense. First
of all the way that Faith is brought to the point of deciding that she wants
redemption is coherent, consistent with her past behavior (including all those
times she has turned her back on help) and believable.
Secondly we are explicitly shown that this is not redemption.
This is just Faith getting to the starting gate.
There is a long road ahead and no guarantee of success.
She is where Angel was when Whistler found him in 1996.
But she is not Angel. I
remain to be convinced that she has the strength to carry the burden he is
asking her to and which he himself does. But
that is what I like most of all about this episode.
The writers, in keeping with their message, have not themselves taken the
easy way out e.g. with Faith just skipping town having agreed to re-examine her
life. That would be to trivialize
the issue of facing up to her responsibility.
That would be to equate it with having a long think about it.
Instead she faces prison with all its the connotations of retribution for
past sins and paying debts to society. This
is the hard road she has to take and is therefore of great symbolic importance.
But perhaps even more importantly Faith ended up in prison voluntarily.
In other words she took that road of her own free will.
Angel and his Mission
of the things that I appreciate most about "Sanctuary" is that it was
not simply about Faith and whether she can be redeemed.
Perhaps even more importantly it was also about Angel and how he
conceives his mission, certainly in relation to Faith but also generally.
And it also shows us how far he has already come in that mission. In fact the whole idea of “moving on” (and in some cases
refusing to do so) plays a very big part in “Sanctuary”. It is, I think, the key to understanding the whole dynamics
of the episode. And the ability to
move on seems in one way or another to be tied up with the concept of
and foremost Angel now for the first time really trusts himself.
He believes he can understand Faith.
He believes he can reach her and if he reaches her be believes he can
persuade her to save herself. By
extension, therefore, he believes in Faith, believes that there is in her
someone who wants to be redeemed and is prepared to try.
in this context may I say how much I love the way Angel's character is used
here. In my review of "Five by
Five" I commented on the unfairness of his attack on Wesley for the botched
abduction of Faith. I said that I
thought it illustrated how strongly Angel felt about seeing Faith slip away into
the darkness. As it turns out this
was an understatement. As we see
both in "Five by Five" and "Sanctuary" he really does
understand Faith and strongly identifies with her.
That is not to say they are the same.
They are not. But the
choices they must make are and they are hard choices.
When Angel tells Faith, in the words I quoted above, that redemption is a
life long struggle he is talking about himself and his own experiences.
So, if he really wants redemption himself he has
to believe that Faith can achieve it too. He had spent a hundred years in misery
without any hope of it ending. Writing
her off as someone who cannot be redeemed simply on the basis of her past might
be seen as writing him off as well.
although Faith's case has a special resonance over and above any other cause he
has taken up, there is more to it than that.
What we have in "Sanctuary" is the clearest possible picture of
the way Angel sees his purpose generally. I
think we can see this from his conversation with Cordelia after Wesley storms
out of the Office:
"You understand why we have to help Faith, don't you?"
"We can't just arbitrarily decide whose soul is worth saving and whose
is no longer brooding boy, drifting helplessly under the weight of his remorse.
He is no longer just Buffy's boyfriend.
There was a time when she was the most important thing in his life.
Not any more. In fact he
isn't even comparable any longer to Buffy herself - the chosen one who at times
rather wishes that she wasn't. Angel
is now a man with a Mission (capital 'M').
It is that which now defines him. And
that is why he reacts to Buffy in the way he does.
Just when he is reaching Faith Buffy shows up. Faith is at a delicate
stage and she threatens to ruin everything. So all he can think about is that he
has to stop her repeating Wesley’s mistake (a possibility stressed when Angel
himself reminded Wesley of that mistake in “Five by Five”).
That is his one concern and nothing else matters.
course in his attempt to help Faith and in setting out how he sees his mission,
Angel does come across as pretty high handed.
In "Sanctuary" he alone knows Faith. He alone can help her. No-one
else as the right to interfere. When people disagree with him he lectures them
on what is right and wrong. Talking
about Faith to a still raw Wesley he says:
a person. In case you've forgotten - we're not in the business of giving
up on people.”
what is so great about the way Angel’s character has been written here is that
it shows us precisely how people in his situation think.
They have been specially chosen to pursue their cause; they are uniquely
qualified for it. They are single minded and can often be insufferably
opinionated, to the point of self-righteousness.
It is no wonder that many of the great saints of the Church came to such
bad ends. So, in effect
what the writers have done in "Sanctuary" is to definitively nail both
character and mission - this is what Angel is all about.
But then again I do not find his attitude all that unsympathetic.
Since when was refusing to abandon another human being to a thirst for
revenge something to be sorry for? And
if we bear in mind what I have just said about his personal sense of
identification with her is so surprising then that nothing else, not his
friendship with Cordelia and Wesley, not even his One True Love, is allowed to
interfere with his attempts to save Faith? And that is the point that Buffy in
particular either missed or simply did not care about.
That this was not just about Faith; it was about Angel too.
To him it must have seemed that she was putting her petty and vindictive
desire for vengeance above something that Angel considered of great importance
to his own quest for redemption. And
that must have hurt - a lot.
Buffy and Angel
this is where I think bringing Buffy to LA worked so beautifully.
There is no reason to disbelieve her when she said that she was concerned
for Angel's safety. And we can all understand why she was so distrustful of
Faith. She had been given multiple
chances in the past to reform and had refused to do so. Apart from that, as I
have already said, the doubts that the audience might already have had over her
had been reinforced by the time Buffy arrived on the scene.
So no-one can blame the suspicion with which she treated Faith.
But Angel was saying to her - trust me. I know what I am doing. And she
couldn't or wouldn't. That, and not
her inability to trust Faith, was the really significant part of
"Sanctuary" from Buffy's point of view.
why? She was always the first one
to make a distinction between him and Angelus.
He hasn't done anything since breaking up with Buffy to show he is
untrustworthy. And she is hardly in
a position to complain about what he did in GD2.
Indeed if he was that untrustworthy why did she come to LA at all?
It seems to me that there is only one explanation for Buffy's attitude.
Buffy continues to think of Angel as her boyfriend - former - from
Sunnydale. She still defines him as
he was then; someone who was dependent upon her for his sense of identity and
who saw in their relationship his possibility of salvation. In "Sanctuary" this cozy little picture is blown
unceremoniously sky high. Sure
Angel has fought with her before. But
she has always shown him who was boss, even if it meant a little
"physical" coercion - for his own good of course.
He could always be persuaded to see things her way.
Not now. Now, not only is he
refusing to do what she wants, he is actually taking the moral high ground with
her, the slayer.
I why I think she reminds him of his murderous past. On the face of it, it is simply a cheap shot.
But it reflects her inner confusion about their new positions relative to
one another. She is saying to him
remember you are the one trying to redeem himself - don't come all high and
mighty with me.
the most powerful indication of their changed relationship comes when she hits
him and he hits her back. I have to
say that I am deeply schizophrenic about this.
It is a very powerful moment, not only for the punch itself but for
Buffy's reaction. She can't believe
it. She has hit him before but he
has never fought back like this. It
was the ultimate demonstration of his declaration of independence from her.
I do not think dialogue alone could have encapsulated the meaning of that
moment half so well. And the writers were very careful to avoid any suggestion of
physical abuse on Angel's part. That
was why they had him explicitly refer to her being a little bit stronger.
So, on paper and in terms of character, I do not think that Angel's
reaction can be construed as particularly blameworthy.
Still, the image of this big man hitting a much smaller woman in what
might be described broadly as a "domestic" dispute is disturbing.
whole new dynamic between Buffy and Angel is, I think, summed up in her exchange
with him at the end when he said:
this wasn't about you. This was about saving somebody's soul. That's
what I do here, and you're not a part of it. That was your idea, remember?
We stay away from each other."
gulf between Buffy and Angel is now an enormous one because while he has moved
on she hasn't. Many people have
commented on her self-centeredness, nor only here but in season 4 of BUFFY
generally. This is reflected
perfectly in her attitude towards Faith. As
I have already said, no-one would blame her for distrusting Faith in general.
But it is soon fairly clear what the source of her real problem with
Faith is. Faith was always jealous of Buffy but Buffy too has her own
share of insecurities where Faith is concerned.
In Enemies and Earshot, for example, the mere fact that Angel pretended
to be friendly to Faith was enough to trigger this. I think the most revealing passage in "Earshot" is
where she says-
know, I think she was hurting a lot. And some people, protective type people,
might be drawn to that I guess... Well, the thing about Faith…“.
recognizes how much Faith needs people. She
recognizes in Angel someone who responds instinctively to that.
She may even deep down agree that Angel can reach her.
But I do not think she is prepared for the implications of this.
I think she fears Faith as a rival for Angel. When she and Angel were together it was bad enough but now
that they have broken up she has no claim to counterbalance Faith's.
And when she arrived in Angel's apartment what was the very first thing
that she saw? Faith and Angel in a
compromising position and Angel, while scrambling to button the front of his
shirt up, acting if not guiltily then in a very embarrassed manner.
Hence her remarks about him punishing her with severe cuddling.
There was her distrust for all to see and it had nothing to do with faith
being a murderer.
on the roof, when her anger at Faith spilled out and she talked about herself as
being a victim, what was top of her list - Angel and Reilly (significantly in
that order). I think the
implication to be drawn from this is clear.
Buffy really cannot get past the personal - how Faith's behavior has
affected her. She hasn't moved on
in terms of her duties as a slayer - her higher calling.
Essentially her attitude is the same as in GD2.
Her boyfriend (emphasis on the "her") first and foremost and
let everything else take care of itself. Here
the most ironic comment comes from Buffy herself when she tells Angel about
Reilly. I am sure that this was
more defensive than intended to be deliberately cruel.
She could see Angel's sense of independence and how he was forging a
separate identity for himself based on his mission in life. He no longer needed her as he once did. She was trying to say she no longer needed him. But when
Angel spoke of her moving on, he could not have been further from the truth.
It seems to me that what we are being given here is a picture of a couple
only one of which has moved on, the other is stuck in the past.
Only the one who has moved on is not Buffy.
as with Angel, the writers seem to me to have nailed the season 4 Buffy
perfectly. There has always been a
"me, me, me" element to her character (traceable no doubt to her
pre-Slayer cheerleading days). But
this season it has assumed very uncomfortable proportions indeed.
Bringing Buffy and Angel together and measuring the gap that has now
grown between them by reference to the way they see Faith was inspired.
It is, and I think was intended to be, a devastating comment on where
Buffy is now emotionally. I can
only hope that the purpose behind this is to foreshadow some change in her
Wesley and the
brings us to Wesley. I know that I
can be a bit of a bore about counterpoint. But I love playing with it as a
device and in Wesley I see the perfect counterpoint for Buffy. Wesley could not
have been particularly blamed for accepting the Faustian pact he was offered by
the Council. He had every reason to
disapprove of what Angel had done in relation to Faith and he had been very
careful to protect him personally. But,
in a series of revealing remarks, to and about the Black Ops squad, we see how
few illusions Wesley has about the Council now. This is a very different Wesley to the one we saw in Season 3
Buffy. He too has moved on.
He still doesn’t trust Faith but he measured his trust for Angel
against his trust for the Council and the Council came up wanting.
Here the most significant remark was where he said:
point of fact I've confronted more evil - slayed more demons - in short, done
more good while working with Angel than I ever did while in the Council's
have said before that they key to Wesley is his desire to make a contribution,
to belong. That was why he was so
insistent on being part of the team in “Five by Five”.
Here we see that, as part of Angel Investigations, Wesley has found what
he is looking for and because of that and the resulting bond of trust with Angel
he is willing to set aside his own doubts over Faith.
This seems to me to counterpoint perfectly Buffy’s sad inability to do
likewise and was excellent use of
character development. Indeed it
also counterpoints the inability of another person to move on.
The death of Kate’s father at the hands of vampires has traumatized her
far more than we knew. She is now obsessed with them and, for her, Angel is no
different to any of the others. This
fact was nicely used in presenting the dénouement of the episode by bringing
everyone down to the station. It
had no real consequences in and of itself but it certainly set up hugely
interesting possibilities for the future. Again
this was another plus.
spent so much time dealing with the character issues I will try to be brief
about the plot. There is a lot
going on here. Angel’s attempt to
convince Faith about her redemption; Buffy’s
arrival, the way in which that interfered with Angel’s plans and how they
reacted to one another over that; Wesley being tempted to the dark side and the
intervention of the COW black ops team and finally Wolfram & Hart’s
attempt to cover their tracks. But
these different aspects of the story were all subordinated to the central tale
of Faith’s journey to redemption. This
gives the plot a tremendous unity, a feeling of a single story with different
facets each contributing to it rather than distracting from the A plot.
In unfolding this tale, the tension never lets up.
First, as I have already suggested, the question was whether Faith even
wanted redemption. Then we were
thrown off balance by the Buffy/Angel confrontation and what that meant.
We were misled into believing Wesley might betray Angel.
Then we were launched straight into that terrific extended action
sequence. And hanging over all of
this was the Wolfram and Hart plotting and the question of where it would lead.
Finally there was the big twist at then end with Faith’s confession.
And, at crucial moments as when Angel stopped Faith running away or when
he confronted Buffy, the scene fairly crackled with tension.
The emotion was running high and how each individual would react to the
intense pressure they were put under was
uncertain. Our attention was
riveted from beginning to end.
I have to say a word about both the Wolfram and Hart lawyers and the COW Black
Ops. Like many I spent a lot of
time during season 1 of ANGEL wondering when something was going to be made of
Wolfram and Hart. Now something is
being made of them – with a vengeance. Lindsey,
Lee and Lilah make a simply wonderful combination.
They play of one another so well and combine soulless ambition and a
terrifically dark self-knowing humor. There
is so much I could quote here but my favorite has to be
"We're lawyers. It's a mistake for us to try to work outside the
"He's being ironic."
I thought the scene between Wesley and the COW Black Ops team in the Pub was
also terrifically well done. It was
serious alright but it was full of humorous sidelights on the COW and its
attitudes, including the sort of conversation employees have about their
"Well, it seemed as good a place as any to - re-evaluate my situation after
being asked to resign my position with the Council. - And the
weather - I find it - dry."
"Wouldn't cough up the dosh for the airfare home, would they?"
"No, they wouldn't."
"All those alchemists on the board of directors and they still make us fly
coach. Miserly bastards."
Again “Sanctuary” is not perfect but I think I have found a new
benchmark for ANGEL. As an episode
this works in so many different ways. First
of all it is a profoundly important turning point in the whole Buffy/Angel myth
arc. It does not mean that B/A can never be together again.
Actually it makes it pretty clear that they do still love one another.
But it does mean that they can never be together as the couple they once
were – slayer and boyfriend. If
they are ever to get together again it will only be as equals and in order for
them to be equals it is Buffy who must do the growing.
There is a remarkable inversion of the Season 1 to 3 dynamic between
them. In this context it
establishes in the most clear and convincing way who Angel now is and what his
mission means. He had to choose
between it and a lot of things that mean a lot to him personally and he did not
hesitate. It deals with Faith and
her road to redemption in a coherent, consistent and credible way.
It further advances Wesley’s character development and may constitute
an important stage in the use of Kate. And
it does all of this in the context of a story that never stops moving
and which is illuminated by a lot of delightfully dark humor which fits
in very well with the whole feel of the episode.
revised and rewritten on Sunday, September 17th 2000