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March 07, 2003
OPINION
Hungry and Horny
by Daniel Erenberg

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

David Greenwalt, a well-respected former Buffy/Angel writer, penned a third season script called 'Faith, Hope, and Trick'. Despite Kendra's death at the close of 'Becoming Part One' the previous season, it never occurred to me that another Slayer would have to be called. But I am glad that the thought did occur to Mr. Joss Whedon.

Anyway, 'Faith, Hope, and Trick' introduced what would become much of the supporting cast of the remainder of season three. However, none were as interesting as Faith. She is introduced slaying a vamp, naturally, and her second scene takes place in the Bronze where she explains how slaying always makes her both 'hungry and horny', a statement later revisited in Dan Vebber's 'The Zeppo'.

Eliza Dushku, there forth, was an integral part of the show. I was disappointed whenever there was a season three episode that she wasn't in. Eliza Dushku, this impossibly beautiful girl with the most intense eyes in the history of vision, was playing the role in such a way that you needed her to be in a scene or else the scene didn't work. For some reason, I became attached to Faith.

Not only that, this character was the first truly formidable opponent that Buffy had ever faced. Faith is a Slayer. Buffy's a slayer. You do the math.

The massive turning point that Faith's character achieved came at the end of 'Bad Girls' (followed over to 'Consequences'), for Faith had killed a human being. Now, this was something that the show had covered pretty well in the past with the well-done season two episode 'Ted' (yes, I liked the Ritter episode), but here it was done more realistically and, not only that, but the idea was actually followed through.

When Buffy killed a man, it turned out to be a realistic android played by that dude from Three's Company, but when Faith killed a man, it was a man, Deputy Mayor Allan Finch, blood rising from a wound in his chest to be released from his mouth.

Then came the infamous scene (I believe it was in 'Consequences') where Buffy shows up at Faith's motel room to speak to her about the accidental murder. There, in a conceptually brilliant nod to Shakespeare's MacBeth, Faith is repeatedly washing an undergarment of some sort.

'You don't understand, Faith', Buffy tells the young girl. 'You killed a man'.
'No, you don't understand' is Faith's chilling reply. 'I don't care'.

That was the point where the screen turns black and praises Joss for the episode. And a deserved praise it was.

Again, I return to the subject of Eliza Dushku, though, rather than her character Faith.

It absolutely dumbfounds me, the lack of depth contained in the roles that are handed to Ms. Dushku. She tends to get roles in stupid teenage comedies, like The New Guy or Bring It On, or she gets roles in terrible horror flicks like Soul Survivors. I think her only real screen triumph was as Missy in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the clever Kevin Smith satire. Why won't Hollywood give this most brilliant of actresses some decent roles?

Anyway, though, Faith's descent into evil in the latter half of season three was one of the most believable strings of character development ever to be filmed. Everything that occurred to the character just felt perfect, like it should happen.

Cut ahead though to season four of Buffy and season one of Angel.

Despite her fantastic work in season three of Buffy, it was this season, with her dual duty as Faith, was the one where she really proved herself as an actress.

For the first time since the close of season three, in late season four, Eliza Dushku finally got the chance to reprise her role as Faith in the two-parter 'This Year's Girl/Who Are You?' In these two episodes, Ms. Dushku made it look easy to slip seamlessly back into an old character after a yearlong absence. Not only that, but in 'Who Are You?' she had to play Buffy and, in this episode, she literally became Sarah Michelle Gellar, adopting her mannerisms and her facial expressions but in a different body. That was the kind of work that every actor hopes to one day receive but that most wouldn't be able to do much with, but Eliza Dushku worked magic with Joss Whedon's script.

She came back once more in the 'Five By Five/Sanctuary' two-parter over on Angel. Displaying exact opposite emotions in each episode and making each seem utterly real; the role was thereby cemented as one of the best in the history of television.

This week, Eliza Dushku returns to her role as Faith for the first time since her brief cameo in Angel's season two premiere 'Judgment'. The episode will have aired by the time this is read by anyone. I, for one, am looking forward to it heartily. Eliza Dushku is Faith. And Faith is superlative.

THE BIG P.S.
I know all seven of you that read this column are breathlessly clamoring for my reaction on this week's big news. After seven seasons, Buffy The Vampire Slayer is ending. After just six more episodes, the show is closing shop, left in all its DVD and syndication glories.

And my reaction is this: Happy. I don't know what it is. This season has been so epic that I feel like closure is imminent. Not only that, but knowing what a talent Joss Whedon has for writing and directing brilliant season finale's, I can only imagine for now how great his series finale could be. It's called 'Chosen'. It's the 144th and last episode.

And I'm happy that it's ending here. This is the right place.

Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone and hankers constantly for the hour of eight P.M. to nine P.M. on Tuesday nights. You can contact Daniel on daniel@slayage.com.
Latest Comments

Totally agree with all of your comments, Dan! Faith is my favourite Buffy character. Cool, sexy, funny, tough, vulnerable, loving, desperate, hard-ass. Immensely complicated, interesting and full of pathos. Truly, any episode with Faith in is immediately a better episode.

All of this is in a huge part due to Eliza as without the right actress in the role, Faith would have been little more than a cartoon bad-girl. Eliza's always been able to convey the conflicting emotions, desires and motivations at the core of Faith.

Kudos to SMG for her portrayal of Buffy and Faith, but I have to say Eliza is perfection as Faith and is a much better Buffy than SMG is a Faith.

Here's hoping she finally gets better roles, as she has very rarely been given a role deserving of her talents.

Posted by: Fiona on May 9, 2004 01:08 PM

Let me clarify: I think Ms. Dushku did an amazing job with this character, especially on Angel, where we got to see more of her path to redemption.

But, on Buffy Season 7, she often came off as more of a charicature (Fonzie, anyone?) rather than a fully fledged persona. Maybe the writer's fault, maybe the problem of trying to squeeze too much into the last season.

And, I stand behind my votes for Alyson and James. Buffy is the hero, but Alyson's Willow is the one who draws us into the story, and makes us identify with it. And it's been well discussed that James Marsters performance turned Spike into a multi-dimensional character, going against the writer's conception of the throw away big bad he was originally intended to be. And Joss has said (I think) that it is the rare combination of actor and role that made this happen.

But, the series has always had a magical touch with casting (Juliet Landau, Seth Green, Nick Brendon) so it's like picking a favorite among your children.

Posted by: cgh on March 31, 2004 09:05 AM

Best casting? I'm not sure I'd pick Eliza. My second vote (after Sarah) would either go to Alison Hannigan or James Marsters.

Methinks that you were simply smitten with her.

Ok, so that's why I picked James Marsters, so who am I to talk?

Posted by: cgh on March 30, 2004 01:48 PM

The lesser of two evils is still evil.

Posted by: Blum Valerie on December 10, 2003 05:05 PM

just to let you know- eliza dushku was in the juliette lewis movie "that night" when she was about eleven years old and she was really adorable. all you faith fans out there should see the movie to get all glimpse of the little girl behind the insane slayer.

Posted by: bluraf185 on March 30, 2003 09:36 PM
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