Buffy Retrospective: Faith and Giles

Mike Delaney
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TV
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The Scooby Gang has always been closer to being a family than a group of friends. Two of their number – Faith and Giles – share the distinction of being the “black sheep” of their respective organisations.

Faith bucks the trend of generations of Slayers by going rogue and actually working against the forces of good. Giles rebelled against his upbringing and studied dark magic, while later in life rejected the strict rules of the Watchers Council to protect his charge, Buffy Summers.

While they are are the polar opposite of each other, Faith and Giles have both walked a similar path. Below, we explore their stories and look in more depth at their similarities, and why they were finally brought closer together.

Faith

Faith Lehane is the Slayer who was called when Kendra Young was killed by Drusilla. She arrives in Sunnydale after her Watcher is killed by the vampire Kakistos. Initially welcomed into the Scooby Gang, Faith soon finds herself on the outside. Her upbringing has led Faith to be something of a rulebreaker, always looking out for herself because she did not trust anyone else. Her parents were alcoholics, and she had no stabilising figures in her life.

Faith’s behaviour results in her killing the deputy mayor of Sunnydale. She initially blames the deed on Buffy but is soon found out. The fallout leads Faith to join forces with Mayor Richard Wilkins III, the season’s Big Bad who is plotting to destroy Sunnydale. After a brutal confrontation, Buffy leaves Faith in a coma.

Following her recovery from the coma, Faith realises that the self-destructive path she is on will destroy her and seeks to reform. She willingly serves time in jail for her crimes, but the rise of the First Evil re-immerses her in the fight against evil.

While Faith never loses her fire and independent stubborn streak, she returns to Sunnydale to stand with Buffy against the First Evil and its army of Turok-Han. At first, her arrival is treated with suspicion, but the Scoobies recognise that her powers and skills are desperately needed. Faith’s newfound purpose and direction help the Scoobies and their allies in their greatest fight.

Giles

Rupert Giles is a member of the Watchers Council, assigned to guide and train Buffy Summers as a Slayer. He arrives in Sunnydale as the school’s librarian, with the finest occult reference library in America in tow.

Initially, Giles is frustrated by Buffy’s seemingly flippant attitude towards her destiny. He soon comes to realise that despite the levity, she is all too aware of the responsibility on her shoulders. With no father in her life, Buffy comes to regard Giles as a father figure, and he reciprocates.

Eventually, the time comes for Buffy to take her Cruciamentum, a test that pits her against a vampire while having her supernatural abilities suppressed. Giles’ attachment to her leads to him interfering in the test, which results in him being fired by the Watchers Council.

Suddenly rudderless, Giles questions his place in Sunnydale and his usefulness in Buffy’s life. He is no longer her Watcher, and it becomes clear that Buffy has grown into her role as the Slayer.

Feeling unneeded, he plans to return to England. However, upon discovering his intentions, Buffy admits that she still relies on his advice. Giles stays for a little longer, but then leaves Sunnydale when he realises Buffy has to grow as an adult. That means not always being around. It isn’t a permanent departure, though, as he soon returns when the world is in danger once more.

The Black Sheep

On the face of it, Faith and Giles seem to be completely different. Faith is a classic rebel – always looking to buck authority and live life by her own rules. What she wants, she takes.

Giles is reserved and proper, and seemingly the epitome of the conservative British gentleman. However, Faith is more like Giles than he probably cares to admit. As a young man, Giles dabbled in dark magic and did many things (including summoning a demon) that he would come to regret in later life. This made him the perfect person to understand Faith’s situation.

Giles was never Faith’s official Watcher, but he was the closest thing she had to a father figure until she fell under the sway of Mayor Wilkins. Their mentor/student, father/daughter relationship is further explored in the comics that officially continue the Buffyverse.

Travelling together, Faith eventually confesses guilt at her past actions, and Giles encourages her to dedicate herself to helping others in an effort to outweigh her previous crimes. Their relationship grows to such an extent that after Giles’ death (don’t worry, he gets better), he leaves everything to her. In return, she risks everything to help resurrect him from the dead.

Essential Episodes

Faith

Faith, Hope & Trick

Bad Girls

Consequences

Choices

This Year’s Girl

Giles

The Dark Age

Band Candy

Helpless

Passion

A New Man

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is back on Syfy in the UK. Catch Faith & Giles, this weekend from 11am. The Best of Buffy weekend starts April 1.

Mike Delaney
Star Wars fan and general pop culture addict. Only two beverages worth drinking are tea and whisky.
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