Saturday, June 11, 2011

Buffy Blog: "Revelations"

The title of this episode "Revelations", written by Doug Petrie, his first of many, and directed by James Contner really, as is so often the case with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, says it all. This episode is really about four things: secrets being hidden, lies being told, the trust issues that result from keeping secrets and telling lies, and the almost inevitable revelation of those seemingly repressed secrets and the consequences these revelations have for our Scoobies as they will out.

On the surface level "Revelations" is yet another monster of the week episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Revelations" monster of the week is the demon Lagos who comes to Sunnydale in search of the hidden Glove of Myhnegon (Lagos's attempt to find the hidden glove in crypts in Sunnydale's cemeteries seems an apt visual metaphor for hidden and surfacing secrets in this episode). But as we all, dear readers, know by now Buffy never operates only on the surface or literal level. As I mentioned earlier it is the secrets and the lies necessitated so that the secrets can be kept hidden which constitute the thread that has been running through so much of Buffy season three and which constitute the thematic and metaphorical level of Revelations. Buffy has been keeping Angel's return from a hell dimension secret from the rest of the Scoobies and has been lying about what she has been up to. Xander and Willow are secretly involved in a relationship with one another and have been keeping it secret from the rest of the Scoobies and particularly Cordy and Oz, for obvious reasons. Finally, their is a new Watcher in town, Gwendolyn Post, Mary Poppins, Miss Priss, both names Faith calls the new Watcher, and she, as we soon learn at the end of act two, is keeping a secret. She is a rogue slayer who is after the dark power that the Glove of Myhnegon can bring.

To achieve her end, obtaining the Glove of Myhnegon, Gwendolyn Post, Mrs., plays on Faith's jealousies and fears, Faith's jealousies of Buffy and the other Scoobies and Faith's fear that to the Scoobies she is and will always be an outsider. Mrs. Post first gains Faith's trust by telling our Slayer that she will make her into a superb fighting machine through intense training and praises her Spartan warrior habits while at the same time playing oh so subtly on Faith's jealousies and fears by telling her that the Scoobies had a secret meeting to which Faith, as Faith says, was not invited.

Xander who has his own jealousy and fear issues, all relating to his discovery that Angel, Buffy's one and only--Xander still on some level wants to be Buffy's beau--has returned from a hell dimension and he and Buffy are once again in full kissage mode. At the Bronze Xander tells Faith the real reason for the secret Scooby confab, Angel is back. Faith, being rash like Buffy has been rash in the past--a potential Slayer trait apparently--goes into full manichean overdrive seeing Angel, a vampire, as the enemy a Slayer must kill.

While the Xander and Faith scene is playing out Giles has called Mrs. Post to a meeting at his office where he reveals to her that a friend of Buffy's has the Glove of Myhnegon and that it can be destroyed by a pure flame. Clubbing Giles unconscious (yet again) Mrs. Post heads to the mansion to get the glove. Not realising that Angel, who is still suffering physically from the trauma of returning from a hell dimension, Mrs. Post takes a shovel to Angel thinking she has killed him. But Angel, as we know, is a vampire and quickly recovers leading to a fight between Angel and Mrs. Post. Just as Angel gets the better of the Watcher Faith arrives.

Faith, of course, thinking that Angel has attacked Giles now acts to protect her Watcher from a vampire who she thinks is evil. The result is the first, but not the last, knock down drag out fight between Faith the Vampire Slayer and Angel the vampire with a soul. Just as Faith is about to plunge a stake into Angel's heart Buffy arrives. Grabbing Faith's arm Buffy stops Faith from staking Angel. Soon Slayer and Slayer are locked in an epic battle, the first but not the last. With Faith, Buffy, and Angel out of the way and a newly arrived Xander and Willow told to help Faith and knocked unconscious respectively Mrs. Post gets what she came for, the Glove of Myhnegon. She puts it on. The hinges of the glove clamp on to her arm, she recites an incantation, and lightning strikes, lighting which can be fed by Mrs. Post through the Glove of Myhnegon.

Buffy and Faith stop fighting with each other. Mrs. Post shatters Faith's trust in her by giving the Slayer a "word of advice". "[Faith]", she says, "you're an idiot". With Faith drawing Mrs. Post's fire Buffy grabs a sizable shard of glass and throws it at Mrs. Post severing her glove arm. Mrs. With the glove gone Mrs. Post is struck by lighting and dies.

While the threat from the hidden or secret monster of the week, the rogue Watcher Mrs. Post who has turned to the dark side is over, the consequences of the secrets and lies that have woven their way through season three are not. Willow and Xander have managed to keep their relationship secret, at least for the moment. Buffy apologises to the Scoobies for not telling them that Angel had returned. Despite apologies being offered the tensions that characterised the intervention that the Scoobies had for Buffy earlier in the episode still, one can't help feel, tensions that led Giles to sternly tell Buffy that by keeping Angel's return secret she has abandoned her Slayer duties and disrespected him, the man who Angel viciously tortured, hover beneath the surface. When Buffy goes to Faith's Spartan hotel room to do "damage control", as she puts it, Faith, after a brief and pregnant moment during which Buffy asks Faith to trust her, and she almost does, returns to the attitude she arrived in Sunnydale with, the attitude that she can't trust anyone, even Buffy, and that she must from now on once again look out for number one, herself, alone. This trust and looking out only for number one will come back to haunt Faith and the Scoobies in season three and beyond as we will see.

Buffy, by the way, is wonderful in portraying lost opportunities. For example, when Buffy is at Faith’s motel in “Revelations” as she is about to leave after trying to make things right with an emotionally distant Faith (“damage control”), Faith calls to Buffy. When Buffy responds to Faith, however, Faith, after a brief pause says “nothing”. One gets the sense that Faith’s failure to talk further with Buffy after her own overture is a lost opportunity for closeness between the two and her possible integration into the Scooby Gang. It may also prefigure what is to come.

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