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Recap / Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4E15 "This Year's Girl"

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Buffy: "It doesn't have to be like this, you know."
Faith: "Actually, I think it has to be exactly like this."
"What'd you think? I'd wake up and we'd go for tea? You tried to gut me, blondie."

Directed by Michael Gershman

Written by Douglas Petrie

In a dream sequence, Buffy and Faith put clean sheets on a bed. Buffy says, "I wish I could stay, it's just with....", Faith replies, "...I know, there's so much to do before little sis gets here." Suddenly, Faith's blood begins to drip onto the white sheets. Buffy is revealed to be twisting a knife into Faith's stomach. Faith asks, "are you ever gonna take this thing out?"

Xander Harris is checking out the broken blaster gun from The Initiative in his basement, while the scoobies look on. Buffy asks him if he can repair it or not. Xander replies, "sure, as soon as i get my masters degree in advanced starship technology." Willow Rosenberg offers suggestions to help, to no avail. Rupert Giles is concerned about Buffy because she's been patrolling non-stop for days without finding Adam. Buffy is worried about Riley Finn because she still hasn't seen him since he was injured. Xander accidentally shocks himself with the blaster, but no one notices. Riley wakes up and tries to leave the hospital, but Forrest Gates and Graham Miller try to talk him out of it. Riley does not change his mind.


At the hospital, Faith, while in her coma, dreams of a picnic with the mayor. Buffy arrives, slits the Mayor's throat and stabs him in the belly with Faith's old knife, then threatens Faith herself. Faith crawls away.

On patrol, Buffy, Willow and Xander find a demon strung up on a tree opened up like a dissection experiment. Back at Xander's, Buffy explains her plans for getting Riley out, which involve fighting her way into the Initiative. Riley appears, explaining that he has simply walked away from the Initiative.

Back at the hospital, Faith has another dream. In the dream, Faith is running through a cemetery while Buffy pursues her. Faith falls into an open grave. Buffy jumps into the grave. A moment later Faith alone climbs out of the grave in her dream. The Faith 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 the day of graduation, but the girl informs her that the school was destroyed and that the Mayor died at the graduation ceremony. After the girl tells Faith the current date, Faith leaves the hospital in the girl's clothes.


Riley and Buffy talk about their jobs working to fight the forces of evil. Buffy tells him he has a choice in what he does with his life. At the hospital, a detective talks with members of the hospital staff. They find a girl, beaten up and stripped, but no Faith. 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 and eavesdropping on the Scooby Gang's plans to attack Adam. A phone call informs Buffy that Faith is awake and on the loose. They talk about how they're going to deal with her, but conclude that they'll have to see what condition she is in first. On campus, Buffy and Willow run into Faith. The two Slayers talk about what happened and fight briefly before the cops arrive and Faith runs.

Willow brings Tara Maclay along with her to search for Faith. Xander and Giles go searching the streets for Faith and Adam, but instead encounter Spike. He's not willing to help them, preferring the idea of helping Faith find and kill them all. A helicopter lands, three men carrying briefcases exit and after conversing with the nurse, they go into the hospital.

Faith is approached by a demon that tries to give her a gift, but she kills him and runs off with the box. She breaks into a store to watch a video tape of the Mayor on one of the VCRs and then opens a box from him that contains a special gift.

Buffy and Riley talk about Faith; Buffy doesn't mention that she stabbed Faith to save Angel. Faith arrives at Buffy's house and punches out Joyce Summers. Keeping Joyce her captive, Faith doesn't think Buffy will arrive, but 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.

Giles finds the lights don't work at his apartment, but a lamp turns on and the three men with briefcases are there. One of them says "Hello Rupert", causing Giles to realize that they are from the council.

As the fight between Buffy and Faith gets more intense, the police arrive. Faith puts the gift from the Mayor on her hand and grabs Buffy's hand. A light flows through them and after a few seconds of the two looking at each other in confusion, Buffy punches Faith and knocks her out, leaving her to be arrested. Buffy then smashes the metal contraption from the Mayor and when Joyce asks her if she's okay Buffy responds, "Five by five" revealing (to the audience only) that Faith has switched bodies with Buffy.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Abandoned Hospital Awakening: Not a literal version of this trope, but the hospital wing Faith wakes up in has an ill-maintained look, with flickering lights, unpainted walls, and no staff on duty at the time.
  • Action Fashionista: Buffy goes hunting for Adam in a leopard-patterned coat.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Buffy kisses Riley's head, saying she's looking for brainwashy chips. Faith later sees Buffy stroking his hair, tipping her off that Buffy has a new boyfriend.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Did it ever occur to you, Faith, that the reason we all forgot you is because we wanted to?"
  • Batman Gambit: Faith correctly predicts that Buffy will eventually come to warn Joyce and find her there. She then maneuvers the fight downstairs to give Joyce the opportunity to call the cops. While waiting for the cops to arrive, she extends the fight and allows Buffy to beat the crap out of her, but only to the extent that, just as the cops get there, she's able to put on the gizmo the Mayor gave her and swap bodies with Buffy. Since she let Buffy beat the crap out of her, she's able to knock Buffy out, in her own body, in a single blow and destroy the gizmo, letting Buffy get taken away by the cops, unconscious.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Faith and Buffy in Faith's dream, where various moans and punches can be heard from an open grave they fall into.
  • Behind the Black:
    • Faith hops a wall. Buffy climbs up half a second later and looks out over a giant open field with no cover. No Faith.
    • A police car shines a spotlight into an alley, barely missing Faith as she climbs a ladder, but also the dead demon that should be lying in plain sight on the ground. Sunnydale Syndrome strikes again!
  • Big "NO!": Faith in a dream seeing the Mayor murdered by Buffy.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Xander makes light conversation about he and Faith having a "relationship" (a one night stand in "The Zeppo", before Faith's Attempted Rape and murder in "Consequences"), though it's entirely in-character for Xander to make stupid jokes about things that make him nervous.
  • Black Helicopter: Bringing the Watcher's Council's wet-work team.
  • Brass Balls
    Faith: You're thinking "You'll never get away with this!"
    Joyce: Actually I was thinking "My daughter is going to kill you soon."
    Faith: That a fact?
    Joyce: More like a bet.
    Faith: Whoa. You got a pair on you, Joyce.
  • Break Them by Talking: Faith attempts to do so to both of the Summers women; unfortunately, they're "Shut Up, Hannibal!" types.
  • Buffy Speak: Faith isn't exactly Low Profile Girl and, thanks to his injury, Riley is not Action Guy. Buffy inspects his head for brainwashy chips—with her mouth.
  • Butt-Monkey: Xander electrocutes himself while examining the taser blaster. Nobody takes any notice.
  • Catchphrase: Faith uses "five-by-five" to claim that she's doing fine. (It's a radio communication slang for "loud and clear". Now you know.)
  • The Chick: Willow claims the status for herself in comparison to Buffy and Faith.
    Tara: You're like, "cool monster fighter."
    Willow: Well, technically, Faith isn't a monster. And as far as fighting, I'd be lucky to bruise her fist with my face.
    Tara: [worried] Oh. Face punching. I'm not so good with the whole— [throws cat-paw punches at the air in front of her]
    Willow: Swimming?
  • Cleavage Window: Faith wears a dark jacket over a tight shirt, producing this effect. Lampshaded by Willow, who describes Faith as a walking "cleavage-y slut bomb."
  • Continuity Lockout (In-Universe): After the rest of the Scoobies have a lengthy, intensive discussion about Faith waking up and what she could be doing, Riley sheepishly asks "Who's Faith?"
  • Continuity Nod:
    • To "Consequences". Xander jokes about it now, but this may be because he's scared shitless of Faith. Based on a couple of his comments he's angry about it, and Willow is full on Woman Scorned.
    • Buffy is nervous because of how Faith went after her last boyfriend, in "Graduation Day, Part One." However she can't tell Riley this, given her reluctance to bring up the subject of Angel.
    • Giles and Buffy don't want to call in the Watcher's Council, given their inept attempt to handle Faith going off the rails in "Consequences".
    • In the Nightmare Sequence, Buffy wields the Jackal knife she used on Faith in "Graduation Day, Part One".
  • Cryptic Conversation / Rule of Symbolism: Faith's dreams.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The Scoobies find a demon that Adam has tied between two trees and Gutted Like a Fish as part of his ongoing research into demon and human physiology.
  • Dead Man Writing: The Mayor's Video Will for Faith.
  • Description Cut: Buffy says that Faith will come after the people she loves. Cue Buffy's mother answering a knock on the door.
    Faith: Hi, Joyce. [whack!]
  • Destination Defenestration: A different version of this trope occurs when Buffy and Faith are demolishing Joyce's house during their fight. Faith throws open a French door into Buffy's path so she runs right through it.
  • The Door Slams You: Faith throws a French door closed, right into Buffy's path, making Buffy run through it.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: The powering-up sound whenever Xander charges the taser blaster.
  • Dramatic Thunder / A Storm Is Coming: In Faith's dreams.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Li'l sis coming.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Faith, as pointed out when she tries on Joyce's lipstick.
    Faith: Now, normally, I wouldn't be going for something this dark. But I read in some magazine that eight months in a coma will damage a girl's natural skin tone. Good thing pale is in this year. Or was it last year?
  • Evil Is Sexy (In-Universe): Faith is trying on Buffy's clothes and Joyce's lipstick.
    Faith: How do I look?
    Joyce: Psychotic.
    Faith: I was shooting for sultry, but hey...
  • Eye Awaken: The camera pulls in on Faith, whose eyelids are twitching in REM sleep. Instead of them opening, we're shown various nightmares involving Faith being stalked by and eventually defeating Buffy. When Faith emerges triumphant and gives a Skyward Scream, then her eyes open, with Faith all set for her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: When Buffy first meets Faith on campus. Buffy and Willow walk up to a bulletin board, talking about how Faith is likely far from Sunnydale, only for her to turn around in front of them.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Faith has this attitude when talking to Buffy and Joyce.
  • Foreshadowing (for "Who Are You?")
    • Buffy in a dream jumping into the grave and Faith crawling out.
    • Riley asks who Faith is. Cut to a shot of Buffy.
    • Xander telling Spike he wouldn't recognize Faith when he saw her.
    • Buffy is warning Riley about Faith and he says, "Never seen anyone get under your skin this way before."
    • Buffy: "Going for the boyfriend again? That's tired." Faith: "Just something to remember me by once I've moved on."
  • Foreshadowing (future episodes)
    • Faith's line in Buffy's dream about preparing for "little sis to get here" alludes to the imminent arrival, in "Buffy vs. Dracula", of her "sister", Dawn.
    • Buffy's plan to attack the Initiative is similar to what the Scoobies will do in "Primeval".
    • The dream where Buffy and Faith make the bed is referenced in "Restless", and foretells the arrival of Dawn.
    • Spike: "Just because I can't do the damage myself doesn't stop me from aiming a loose cannon your way."
    • The Scoobies speculate that Riley might have a Mind Control chip in him.
    • Adam's "research" into demon anatomy hints at his Evil Plan.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Faith pulls one of these on Buffy via the device the Mayor left for her.
  • Freudian Excuse: Faith goes over the edge this time because she is plagued by nightmares of Buffy hunting and killing her and the Mayor, Faith's father figure.
  • Friend Versus Lover: The Initiative soldiers object to Riley leaving the hospital to see Buffy.
    Forrest: Now's the time for us to band together, not go flying off our separate ways.
    Graham: Forrest has a point, Riley.
    Forrest: We have a problem, we deal with that problem. You know, the most important part of the equation now is that we keep said problem within the family.
    Riley: Family? Is that what we are? Step aside.
  • Get It Over With: Joyce isn't impressed with Faith's "Not So Different" Remark.
    Joyce: Were you planning to slit my throat any time soon?
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: A male college student can be heard excitedly shouting for others to check out Buffy and Willow slugging it out with Faith.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Buffy's character trait of a distaste of firearms is averted in this episode; she really wants the blaster fixed to take out "the Terminator without the bashful charms."
  • Grand Theft Me: The device the Mayor leaves for her enables Faith to swap bodies with Buffy.
  • Half-Truth: When filling in Riley about her past re. Faith, Buffy decides to "edit out" the bits about Angel, realizing that it's Another Story for Another Time (i.e. in "New Moon Rising").
  • Handbag of Hurt: Willow improvises her backpack as a weapon in her and Buffy's fight against Faith: given that it was likely full of heavy textbooks and punching a Slayer would have been suicide for her (being a Squishy Witch and all), it was the best she could do with little notice.
  • Happy Ending Override: Despite the heroic final stand and defeat of the Mayor, it was still considered a slaughter by the community. The freight train-sized Mayor!snake and two dozen vampires versus the Scoobies and the students armed with stakes and spears. The Mayor eats a couple of the unarmed adults, Harmony becomes a vampire, and several students are violently beaten. And that's just what appears on screen.
  • Healing Factor: The doctors are dumbfounded that Faith could wake up at all, let alone walk out of the hospital after being immobile for months.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: The return of the Black Leather Pants of Evil! Notably, the Watcher's Council team is also wearing dark leather jackets.
  • Humans Are Good: Defied. Buffy tries to appeal to Faith on these grounds to avoid her peers at UC Sunnydale potentially coming to harm, but the latter ain't having it.
    Buffy: "Faith, these are innocent people."
  • Idiot Ball: After Faith has woken up from her coma, Giles and Xander are out searching for her, and try to enlist Spike's help — only for him to remind them that he hates them all, and despite his ongoing Badass Decay would be more than willing to sick a rogue psycho Slayer on them. Promptly lampshaded:
    Xander: We're dumb.
  • Impossible Mission Collapse: Buffy has an elaborate scheme to break Riley out of the Initiative. She's still explaining her plan when Riley shows up, having left with permission.
  • Improvised Weapon: When fighting Buffy in Joyce's home, everything Faith can get her hands on, up to and including a door.
  • Innocent Bystander: Faith challenges Buffy in the middle of campus.
    Buffy: Faith, these are innocent people.
    Faith: No such animal.
  • It's a Long Story: Buffy avoiding telling Riley about Angel.
  • It's Personal: Killing the Mayor, stabbing Faith in the guts, and being too self-involved to notice Faith was Slowly Slipping Into Evil—it's all Buffy's fault. To be fair, the fandom is fairly evenly divided on just how much Buffy is to blame.
  • It's What I Do: A disillusioned Riley Finn feels at a loss over what to do with his life. "Give me an order. It's what I do, isn't it? Follow orders?" So Buffy orders him to stop tormenting himself.
  • Kneel Before Zod: The Mayor jokes that maybe his Video Will is playing in the Richard Wilkins Museum, and right now children are sitting looking up at him with fear and wonder. "Hi, kids!"
  • Kung-Shui: Buffy and Faith trash Joyce's house.
  • The Lady's Favour: Riley returns the headscarf Buffy gave him as a bandage.
    Riley: All I had in there was this one little part of you.
    Buffy: It's just the scarf part of me, really.
    Riley: I'm serious. Just knowing you were out there... that you cared.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: After Buffy & the Scoobies spend a few minutes freaking out and planning around Faith's return, Riley has to ask, "Who's Faith?"
  • Magitek: The body-swapping device the Mayor had built for Faith.
  • Meaningful Echo: Faith-as-Buffy says "five-by-five" after Joyce asks if she's okay.
  • The Mole: Riley volunteers to be Double Agent Guy to feed the Scoobies information on Adam. The nurse at the hospital turns out to be working for the Watcher's Council.
  • Mood Whiplash: In a dream Faith is helping Buffy make the bed, looks down, and realizes Buffy has just shoved a knife into her gut.
  • Mook Horror Show: While in a coma, Faith has nightmares that resemble a Slasher Movie, in which she's an innocent girl being stalked by an implacable knife-wielding Buffy. This does not improve her disposition when she wakes up from said coma.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Faith beats up a girl visiting the hospital and takes her clothes.
  • Never My Fault: Faith blames Buffy for everything bad that's ever happened to her, and a lot of things happening to other people.
  • No Sympathy: Whatever legitimate grievances Faith might have her actions assure that no one feels sorry for her.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Faith argues this to Joyce, saying that Buffy is too wrapped up in her own life to care about either of them.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Giles and Xander run into Spike, and because he's lived with them, fought demons together with them a few times, and generally been unable to harm them, they make the mistake of assuming he'll be an ally. They ask him if he's heard anything about Faith, and Spike feigns concern, which makes them fill him in on the whole Faith situation (as Spike has never seen or heard of Faith before) complete with a physical description and the fact that she's looking for vengeance against the group. With this information in hand, Spike announces that he's going to find the rogue Slayer so he can tell her where they are so he can watch as she kills them. And thanks to their assumption that he's harmless, he even has a rough description of the person he should be looking for.
    Spike: What do you need?
    Xander: Her. Dark hair, [raises a hand to about Faith's height] yay tall, name of Faith, criminally insane.
    Spike: Is this bird after you?
    Xander: In a bad way, yeah.
    Spike: Tell you what I'll do then: head out, find this girl, tell her exactly where all of you are, then watch as she kills you. [Spike smiles at Xander and Giles, then sighs in annoyance at their shocked expressions] Can anyone in your damn little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all. Just 'cause I can't do the damage myself doesn't stop me from aiming a loose cannon your way.
    Xander: You'll never find her!
    Spike: Dark hair, [raises a hand to about Faith's height] yay tall, name of Faith, criminally insane...and here I thought the evening'd be dull. *he leaves*
    Xander: ...We're dumb.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Faith wakes up from a coma and leaves without authorization. She doesn't sneak around, but she knocks out a few personnel on the way out who try to stop her.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Faith during her picnic dream with the Mayor.
  • Previously on…: A long one thanks to all the arc elements that have to be referenced—Faith, her coma, the Mayor, Adam, Riley, Riley loves Buffy, Walsh sets up Buffy, Walsh gets killed, Riley gets wounded, etc.
  • "Psycho" Strings
  • Right Behind Me:
    • Buffy is briefing the Scoobies, all set for Storming the Castle to rescue Riley from whatever evil Mind Control the Initiative is performing on him, when Riley says behind her, "Am I really worth all that?"
    • Buffy is walking through the college campus saying to Willow that if she was Faith she'd "Get the hell out of Dodge post-haste-y". A girl in front of her turns around and disagrees—it's Faith.
  • Screw Yourself: Faith puts on lipstick, then kisses her reflection in the mirror.
  • Shirtless Scene: Riley at the hospital.
  • Shoot the Messenger: A demon turns up in a dark alley with a package for Faith "from a friend." Faith not being the friendly type, she snaps his neck and takes the package.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Skyward Scream: Faith in a dream after emerging from her grave.
  • Snakes Are Evil: Inverted in Faith's dream. Rather than a giant demon snake, the Mayor is a friendly father-figure who calmly shoos away a grass snake that interrupts their picnic.
  • Staircase Tumble: Buffy and Faith take a tumble headfirst down the same staircase that did in Ted. It doesn't stop them.
  • Stating the Simple Solution:
    • The Scoobies ask how Riley got out of the military hospital, expecting some tale of derring-do. He says simply, "I walked."
    • Willow suggests "beating the crap out of her" is the most efficient response to the Faith problem.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: While fleeing police and Buffy, Faith climbs a wall and disappears.
  • Spider-Sense: While Buffy and Faith are facing off, Willow tries sneaking up behind her—without looking around Faith warns "Red" not to try anything or she'll lose an arm.
  • Super Window Jump: Buffy comes crashing through the window to grab Faith just as she's running at Joyce with a large knife.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • In Faith's dream, the Mayor tells Faith there's nothing that's going to spoil their time together. Buffy then appears and runs him through with her knife.
    • Relieved that Riley is alive and well, Buffy says they can deal with whatever's coming. Description Cut to Faith.
    • Subverted when Faith tells Joyce that "Buffy is gonna come crashing through that door." Genre Savvy viewers expect Buffy do just that, but nothing happens. She does, however, come through the window a short time later.
  • This Is Something She's Got to Do Herself: Unwilling to trust the Initiative or the Watcher's Council, and knowing Police Are Useless against a psychotic chick with superpowers, Buffy decides to take on Faith herself (though Buffy doesn't give any thought to what to do if she's not prepared to kill Faith). Unbeknownst to her, the Council has already come on board.
  • Titled After the Song: "This Year's Girl" is an Elvis Costello song.
  • Took a Level in Badass: While Willow was already a badass, her willingness to attempt to clock Faith with her bag — knowing full well how much more dangerous the Slayer was than most demons the Scoobies have fought — earns the witch this, even if Faith sensed it coming and warned her not to try it. She instead settles on viciously verbally beating her down.
  • Trash the Set: The Summers house takes a battering during the fight between Buffy and Faith.
  • Trespassing to Talk: Giles enters his home and finds the lights don't work. The leader of the Council operations team then turns on a desk lamp. "Hello, Rupert."
  • The Triple
    Buffy: We have no idea where [Faith] is. We don't know what she's thinking, what she's feeling...
    Xander: Who she's doing...
  • Two-Part Episode: Faith switches bodies with Buffy, and gives a Meaningful Echo as Buffy is carried off by the cops. To Be Continued...
  • Video Will: Mayor Wilkins recorded one for Faith while she was in her coma in case he didn't survive his Ascension (which he didn't). The video comes with a gift of the magical device she uses to trigger the bodyswap with Buffy.
  • Visible Boom Mic: During the scene where Buffy, Willow and Xander discover the Demon dissected by Adam, you can see a boom operator in the background.
  • Wakeup Makeup: Averted with Faith.
  • Wall Glower: Faith peeks in Giles's window at the Scooby Club within. Later she rants to Joyce, "Nobody cares, nobody remembers, especially not Buffy, fabulous superhero—too busy climbing onto her new boytoy to give a single thought to the people that matter."
  • Wham Line: Faith repeatedly uses her Catchphrase "five by five," which is later used as a cue that Faith and Buffy have switched bodies.
  • What Does This Button Do?: Willow's suggested approach for repairing the taser blaster. Xander informs Willow that since they're fiddling with a "blaster," randomly hitting buttons is not high on his agenda. He then adds that if it were called the "Orgasminator," that would, in fact, be his desired approach.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Plenty from Faith the Resenter.
    • When Buffy says she's been searching for her all night, Faith points out she's been in the same place for eight months.
    • Faith brings up how Buffy stabbed her to save her One True Love, yet Buffy has apparently dumped Angel for a new boyfriend.
    • Faith drops a pile of unopened mail in front of Joyce, showing how Buffy hasn't bothered to visit her mother. This segues into a rant over how Buffy abandoned both of them once they'd outlived their usefulness.
  • What Year Is This?
    Faith: What day is it?
    Girl: Friday.
    Faith: What date? The date!
    Girl: February 25th.
    Faith: ... What year?
  • White Shirt of Death: Faith's blood drips on the white bedsheets in her dream.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: Just when the Scoobies have their hands full with an unstoppable demonoid cyborg, Faith has to wake up.
    Xander: I'd say this qualifies for a Worst Timing Ever Award.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Naturally two Slayers find it impossible to bash each other's heads in without snarking at each other in the process.
  • You're Not His Type: Buffy and Faith have the following exchange while trading punches.
    Faith: Thought I'd go after the clean marine, didn't ya? He's a cutie. Looks like he can use a good roll in the sack.
    Buffy: You're not his type. He's not real big on sleaze.
    Faith: He's probably just never tried it.