Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8, Episode 6: No Future For You, Part One
Written by Brian K. Vaughan; Illustrated by Georges Jeanty
This episode begins the Faith storyline, and I’m pleased to report that it looks as if it’s going to be a good one. Any fears that bringing in a new writer would disrupt the tone of the series can be put aside, because Brian K. Vaughan definitely captures the correct feel: in fact, I’d argue that this feels more like vintage Buffy than any other issue thus far, given that, for the most part, it eschews the large-scale, superhero-like fights scenes and improbable demons (c.f. the fairies in The Chain) in favour of more understated character scenes.
The main interaction in this episode takes place between Faith and Giles, holed up in Cleveland, guarding its “second-rate Hellmouth”. They were always two of the strongest characters, and the dialogue is the sort of witty-yet-meaningful material that went on when the show was at its best. It’s nice to see them not shying away from Faith’s dark past, especially given that one of the biggest problems with her return in Season 7 was that this aspect of her character was given short shrift. The hints that are being dropped about her childhood and home life make me hopeful that we’ll get a deeper exploration of her character as this arc progresses, while the mission on which Giles intends to send her - to pass herself off as an aristocrat and attends a fancy dress party (“They seriously call their fancy dress parties ‘fancy dress parties’?”) in order to assassinate a rogue Slayer/heiress - is just ridiculous enough to offset the darker elements with some much-needed comic relief. So, Faith heads off to England (you know she’s in England because David Tennant and Billie Piper are wandering past a red telephone box in the establishing shot) to learn etiquette and be fitted with a ball-gown - most amusing.
The episode also picks up on an issue raised, briefly, in Angel’s fifth season, and it’s a pertinent one: if you give two thousand girls throughout the world instant Slayer powers, how can you be sure they’ll use these powers for good? The answer is that you can’t, and Lady Genevieve Savidge (great name) is a particularly nasty piece of work, kidnapping various people (including other Slayers) and hunting them down on horseback on her estate. This continues the theme that began in The Long Way Home of the world becoming less defined in black and white terms and more in shades of grey. It’s no longer a case of “good Slayer fights bad demons” - the later seasons of the TV show suggested that demons had it in them to be good, and now we’re seeing that a Slayer can just as easily be bad, and that, by sharing her power with these two thousand girls, Buffy has in fact populated the world with two thousand dangerous killing machines, with the choice of going either way.
Overall, an impressive episode. After a slightly shaky start, this new season actually seems to be finding its footing.