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Buffy Season Eight Vol. 2: No Future For You

on Fri, 01/14/2011 - 00:00

“The dark slayer,” nerdish Andrew Wells offered as a form of introduction upon Faith Lehane’s return to Sunnydale during the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “A lethal combination of beauty, power and death.”

While the first chapter in the Buffy Season Eight comic book series focused on reintroducing the core characters and outlining the aftereffects of their actions at the end of the television series, volume two—entitled “No Future For You”—places the rogue vampire slayer front and center. Faith always had a rough time after being “chosen” and the various missteps and betrayals she’s endured has made the proverbial “bad girl” even more solitary and isolated than ever before. Her budding romance with Sunnydale High School Principal Robin Wood apparently ended by the time the narrative begins and instead of fighting alongside Buffy and the rest of the Scooby Gang in Scotland, Faith has been regulated to patrolling the streets of Cleveland. It is hard to imagine a more disparaging existence.

To make matters worse, Faith Lehane has also become the self-proclaimed “go-to girl for dirty deeds done dirt cheap.” When Robin Wood and his team of newbie slayers discover that a female vampire has turned a handful of young children into soulless creatures of the night, for instance, it is Faith that he calls to handle the situation. Having to stake so many innocent kids obviously has a psychological effect but Faith shrugs it off as simply part of her job, albeit a job that she desperately wants to abandon. Thus enters Rupert Giles, who offers Faith a way out—embark on one final, dangerous and clandestine mission and he will supply her with a new identity and a plane ticket to anywhere in the world, as well as ensure her retirement from the slayer profession.

The target that Giles has in mind, however, is not a demon but a person, a teenage girl who has likewise been “chosen” as a slayer. Lady Genevieve is also British Royalty and intent on using her newfound abilities to lead the thousands of other slayers to a position of social superiority and global domination with herself serving as Queen. In “The Long Way Home,” the first installment of Buffy Season Eight, a US general predicted that Buffy Summers would one day use her powers and army of slayers to enslave the world—it turns out that the more immediate threat to the political status quo is in the form of a rogue slayer with similar designs. And in the mind of Rupert Giles, what better way to combat a rogue slayer than with the original rogue?

When Faith first arrived in Sunnydale during Season Three of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she brought with her a sexual bravado and wild edge that inevitably rubbed off on co-slayer Buffy as the two developed a bond. Faith, however, took it further than her counterpart and was lured to the “dark side” when she accidentally staked a human during the heat of a vampire battle. Betrayed by Buffy—as far as Faith was concerned, at least—the rogue slayer embarked on a journey in which she embraced the evil edges of her persona before transforming into someone trying to come to terms with her inner demons and find some measure of redemption. Although Giles’ offer relied on the murderer inside, the chance for a fugitive-on-the-run to find some peace was appealing to Faith Lehane nonetheless.

The assignment called for Faith to infiltrate a high society party and kill her prey in the reception line, but the Boston-bred street fighter felt the weight of her assignment and needed extra time to steady her nerves. To further complicate matters, Genevieve is under the watchful eye of a warlock guardian who unleashes two giant rock gargoyles to attack Faith just as she is ready to make her move. After turning her adversaries into dust, Faith finds herself bonding with Genevieve in ways that her and Buffy never had—two slayer sisters more concerned with enjoying life than saving the world.

Genevieve’s plan, as formulated by warlock watcher Roden, inevitably leads to the wannabe slayer queen overthrowing the reigning queen, Buffy Summers. “It’s always about her,” Faith laments, even feeling betrayed by Giles for not telling her that the true goal of the clandestine mission was to save the life of her shadow rival. When the warlock magically plucks Buffy out of her Scottish castle to do battle with Genevieve, Faith tackles Buffy through an open window and into a shallow pond below in order to save her. Unfortunately, Buffy sees it differently and immediately assumes that Faith has joined forces with the enemy once again. In a scene eerily similar to the Season Four episode “Who Are You?,” in which Buffy and Faith switched bodies, Faith pummels Buffy and commences to drown her while the voices in her head scream, “Do it. Whenever she’s around, you’re the villain. Never forget how deep she cut you.” Faith ultimately releases Buffy from her grasp and attempts to clarify the situation but good witch Willow Rosenberg pulls the original slayer back to Scotland before she can finish—leaving Faith alone yet again.

In the end, Faith Lehane completes her mission and kills Genevieve, albeit by accident, during a final showdown. Giles, meanwhile, arrives in the nick of time to rescue his recruit from Roden, killing him as well but not before the warlock reveals that he has been working for the mysterious Twilight the entire time. Despite the possibility of a new life as “payment” for the successful completion of her mission, Faith decides to form a partnership with Giles instead. “There are gonna be other Gigis out there,” she tells Giles in regards to Genevieve and the mishandling of her newfound powers. “If I stopped stabbing and started, I don’t know, playing social worker to the slayers, maybe I could help walk a few bad girls back from the brink.”

While the Faith story comes to a conclusion at that point, the “No Future For You” graphic novel continues with one final chapter involving Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg seeking knowledge from a time-manipulating demon in an unstable alternative dimension. Although the demon reveals the lies that the two have been keeping from each other—Buffy has apparently been funding her expensive slayer operation via a series of bank heists across Europe while Willow now believes that she never would have lost her beloved Tara had Buffy not been brought back from the dead in Season Six—it also outlines the evil agenda of “Big Bad” Twilight. “The end, of course,” the demon tells the two of them. “Of the struggle, of the Hellmouths. The final triumph of the base humans over the demons. It’s your life’s goal achieved, Slayer. The death of magic.”

Although “No Future For You” only moved the overarching Buffy Season Eight narrative forward in the most miniscule of fashions, it further explored the unintended perils and consequences that Buffy’s activation of all the potential slayers around the world has unleashed nonetheless. In addition, its insights into the characters of Faith and Rupert Giles are a welcome sidetrack after the Scooby Gang focus of “The Long Way Home.” Buffy Summers is obviously the primary persona of the series that bears her name but the show was always more of an ensemble piece populated with intriguing characters of both the major and minor variety rather than star-driven vehicle—and Faith was ultimately one of the most intriguing characters of them all.

Anthony Letizia

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