"This Year’s Girl"
Written by Doug Petrie; directed by Michael Gershman

Buffy and Faith (last seen in “Graduation Day, Part 2”) are making Buffy’s bed. Buffy tells Faith that she has to go, and Faith says she understands - “little sis” is coming. “So much to do before she gets here,” Buffy says. Blood starts to drip onto the sheets and Buffy sees that there is a knife in Faith’s abdomen (see “Graduation Day, Part 1”). “Are you ever gonna take this thing out?” Faith asks. Buffy obliges. Still in the hospital, Faith remains in a coma, continuing to dream of Buffy. In Xander’s basement, he examines one of the Initiative’s blasters, commenting that it doesn’t look too difficult to fix. Or, it wouldn’t be if he knew how to fix it. He tells Buffy he’ll try. Giles tries to suggest that Buffy get some rest, but she’s too worried about Adam (see “Goodbye, Iowa”). She would rather having the blaster working than fighters backing her up. She laments the fact that she still doesn’t have any information on Riley and worries that the Initiative doctors will harm him.

In the hospital, Riley still has Buffy’s bandanna. He gets up to leave and forces his way past a guard outside his room. Forrest arrives and asks where he’s planning to go, not understanding why Riley wants to go find Buffy. He says that the commandos should be banding together - if there’s a problem within the “family,” it should stay within the family. Riley leaves anyway. Faith has another dream, this time about having a picnic with the Mayor (last seen in “Graduation Day, Part 2”) and a garter snake. The Mayor doesn’t see Buffy coming up behind him and stabbing him with Faith’s knife. “I told you I had things to do,” Buffy says to Faith.

That night, the Scoobies go out looking for Adam and see a body which has been mutilated and strung up between some trees. They head back to Xander’s basement, wondering why Adam would do that to someone. Buffy thinks that he’s studying human biology to determine how things work. She is determined to find and stop Adam, since the Initiative wasn’t able to. She asks Willow to hack into the Initiative’s security system and shut it down so that they can get Riley out of the hospital. She also wants gear so that they can head in with force to get to the infirmary. Riley arrives suddenly, surprising the Scoobies. He explained that he didn’t have to do anything special to leave the hospital; he just left. Xander asks if he was implanted with a brain chip but everyone ignores him. Riley and the Scoobies call a truce and agree to go after Adam together. In another dream, Faith is being chased down a street and through a cemetery by a calm Buffy, who still has Faith’s knife. Faith falls into an open grave and Buffy jumps in after her. After a few moments, Faith climbs out of the grave. In the hospital, she suddenly regains consciousness.

Faith, confused about her whereabouts and the circumstances that landed her in the hospital, unhooks herself from monitors and leaves her room. She runs into a woman and asks about graduation, thinking that it hasn’t occurred yet. The woman tells her that the school is gone and that it’s been 9 months since graduation. Faith demands to know what happened and the woman tells her there was a tragedy - the Mayor and a bunch of kids were killed. Later, Faith leaves the hospital, now wearing the woman’s clothes. Elsewhere, Riley tells Buffy that, now that he’s no longer a commando, he doesn’t know what to do. Buffy tries to relate, saying that after she quit the Council, she wasn’t sure what to do, either, but things worked out. She tells him that he can either return to the Initiative and try to change things from the inside, or he can leave and do his own thing. Buffy starts nonchalantly looking for “brain-washy chips” in his head and tells him that she’s there for him.

The police have been called to the hospital, where a doctor and nurse are confused as to where Faith is. The doctor tells the police that there was no way she could have just gotten up and left - she was not expected to ever wake up. As the police officer, doctor, and another nurse head off to check on the woman whose clothes Faith took, the first nurse calls someone on the phone and says, “It’s happened. Send the team.” Faith walks through Sunnydale, arriving at Giles’ apartment and watching the Scoobies from outside. They’re discussing Adam and trying to figure out what he’s preparing for. Xander is impressed when Riley can fix the blaster in seconds. Faith notices that Buffy and Riley are lovey-dovey and seems surprised. Giles suggests that Riley return to the Initiative as a spy, and Riley says it’s the least he can do. Giles receives a phone call for Buffy - someone is calling to tell her that Faith woke up and escaped the hospital.

The Scoobies discuss their options, which range from “patrol and wait for her to make a move” (Buffy’s suggestion) to “beat the crap out of her” (Willow’s suggestion). They decide that it’s best not to involve the Council or the Initiative. In the end, they decide to keep an eye out and consider trying to rehabilitate Faith. As the meeting breaks up, Riley, who has been silent the whole time, asks, “Who’s Faith?” On campus the next day, Willow asks Buffy what she told Riley about Faith. Buffy jokes that she said Faith was her “wacky identical cousin from England, and whenever she visits, hi-jinks ensue.” She says that she told Riley most of the truth, leaving out some key elements (in other words, the parts that had to do with Angel). As they approach a notice board, Faith suddenly turns around and they come face-to-face with her.

Buffy tells Faith that she’s been looking for her, and Faith mocks that she was in one place for months. She tells them she’s “five by five” and “ready for payback.” She’s ready for another fight, challenging that Buffy might not win this time. Faith mentions her recurring dreams, in which Buffy stabs her because of Angel. She spots Willow preparing to clock her with her backpack and warns, “Try it, Red, and you’ll lose an arm.” Faith notes that Buffy isn’t even dating Angel anymore, and seems to have forgotten about Faith, whom she tried to kill for him in the first place. Buffy hears sirens and notes that the police must be on their way to get Faith. They start to fight, Willow getting in some hits of her own, and Faith takes off, evading the police.

Later, Willow and Tara walk through a building on campus, preparing to look for Faith. Tara warns that she’s not too great with violence, but Willow thinks they’ll see Faith before she sees them. After the sun sets, they’ll stop searching and start “the ritual hiding.” Xander and Giles walk through the streets of Sunnydale and Xander worries that Faith will come after him because of their history together. “See, I can't be held responsible for the effect I have on women,” he says. They run into Spike and mention that they’re looking for a psychopathic rogue Slayer. They ask if he has any information and give him a description of Faith. Spike says that, if he sees her, he’ll send her in their direction and watch as she kills them. Xander realizes how stupid they were for telling him about her.

Faith walks through Sunnydale as well, about to head into a weapons store when she is stopped by a demon. He tells her he has a present from a friend of hers; she beats him up and takes it from him. She runs up a ladder, barely escaping being seen by the police, and opens the case she took from the demon. Later, she watches a video made by the Mayor. He tells her that, if she’s watching the tape, he’s dead and the Ascension failed. That, or they succeeded and he’s being watched by a group of kids in a museum (“hi, kids!”). He tells her that, with him gone, she’s in danger and doesn’t have a place in the world anymore, because it’s changed too much. He says that she’ll always have him and tells her to open a box inside the case. She does, finding an unfamiliar object that he says is to be used so that she can “go out with a bang.”

In Buffy and Willow’s dorm room, Riley tells Buffy that he wants to help her find Faith, but she points out that he’s injured and still recovering (see “Goodbye, Iowa”). She thinks that he doesn’t understand how dangerous Faith is and he asks for more information, which she still doesn’t want to divulge. She tells him that Faith will come after her and the people she loves. Indeed, Faith has gone to the Summers’ house and invited herself inside. Upstairs, she goes through Joyce’s makeup, putting on a shade of lipstick called Harlot and saying she wants to ask a question. She asks how she looks and Joyce responds, “Psychotic.” She tells Faith that Buffy will kill her, but Faith points out that Buffy doesn’t seem to come home too much and may have too many other things to worry about to save her mother. As Faith talks about being dumped by people she thought she could trust, Joyce asks if she’s planning to kill her any time soon. Faith responds that Joyce is no longer necessary in Buffy’s life. As if on cue, Buffy bursts through the window, saying, “Hi, Mom.”

Buffy and Faith battle again and Faith tells Buffy she was thinking about going after Riley. Buffy replies that going after her boyfriend again isn’t very original. Giles goes home to find two men sitting in his apartment. In the middle of their fight, Faith brings out the object the Mayor gave her and puts it on her hand. Buffy hits her and energy travels through their bodies, making both of them pause. Buffy lands a good punch, knocking Faith out. Joyce notes the device and asks what it is. “Didn’t work, whatever it was,” Buffy says, smashing it. Later, the police arrive and Buffy says that Faith is their problem now. “You’re sure you’re okay?” Joyce asks her daughter. “Five by five,” she responds.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: If your enemy’s in a coma, make sure the hospital has tight security.

GRADE: B Faith looks pretty good for having been in a coma for months.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Willow: “Well, why don't we experiment? Press some buttons, see what happens.”
Giles: “I'd like to veto that.”
Xander: “Second. It's called a blaster, Will, a word that tends to discourage experimentation.”

Xander: “Question - will hiding in a cavern with stockpiled chocolate goods be any part of this plan?”
Buffy: “No.”
Xander: (to Willow) “Told you.”

Buffy: “Giles used to be part of this Council. And for years, all they ever did was give me orders.”
Riley: “Ever obey them?”
Buffy: “Sure. The ones I was going to do anyway.”

Willow: “What do we do?”
Giles: “Well, we have to find her.”
Willow: “What about Adam?”
Xander: “I'd hate to see the pursuit of a homicidal lunatic get in the way of persuing a homicidal lunatic.”

“That was the funnest coma ever.” - Willow

Buffy: “We don't know what she's thinking, what she's feeling….”
Xander: “…Who she's doing.”

Willow: “She's like this cleavagy slut-bomb walking around, ‘Ooh, check me out, I'm wicked cool, I'm five by five.’”
Tara: “Five by five? Five what by five what?”
Willow: “See, that's the thing. No one knows.”

Spike: “What do you need?”
Xander: “Her. Dark hair. Yay tall, name of Faith, criminally insane.”
Giles: “Have you seen her?”
Spike: “Is this bird after you?”
Xander: “In a bad way, yeah.”
Spike: “Tell you what I'll do then. I'll head out, find this girl, tell her exactly where you are, and then watch as she kills you. Can't any one of your d@%# little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all? Just because I can't do the damage myself doesn't stop me from aiming a loose cannon your way. And here I thought the evening’d be dull.”
Xander: “Go ahead. You wouldn't even recognize her.”
Spike: “Dark hair, this tall, name of Faith, criminally insane. Like this girl already.” (he leaves)
Xander: “We're dumb.”

Riley: “What exactly did she do to you?”
Buffy: “It's a long story.”
Riley: “I'm from Iowa. We drive four hours for a high school football game. Try me.”

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