BTVS Season 8 #24: Safe

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

 

“I’ll answer your Slayer-in-training questions later! Got a vamp to snuff” – Faith Lehane

 

Synopsis                                                                                                      

 

An inexperienced Slayer, Courtney, is trying her best to slay a vamp in a dark alley. She misses the heart, panics, and runs. Luckily, Faith is there to finish the job, staking the undead sucker with ease. Courtney is relieved and thankful as Giles comforts her.

 

Courtney: Oh, My God! You’re her! You’re Buffy!

 

Faith is insulted by this case of mistaken identity. Courtney asks if they came to train her. This isn’t their mission. They came because her squad reported her missing. Courtney explains that she took-off because they weren’t doing anything. She wanted in on the action, she says she’s ready for the field. A vamp sneaks behind her as she talks. She can tell something is up by Faith and Giles’s expressions. She quickly turns and stakes the vamp, hitting the heart bang-on this time. The vamp explodes in a puff of dust and Courtney begins to cough.

 

Faith: First thing she’s got to learn, G., is not to keep her mouth open when she slays.

 

Courtney: Thanks. I’ll remember that. Looks like I’m not ready for “Slayer Sanctuary” yet.

 

Giles and Faith are puzzled. They’ve never heard of “Slayer Sanctuary”. Courtney explains that it’s a place for Slayers who choose to deny their calling. Giles decides they need to investigate this establishment. Faith nominates Courtney as their guide. They take a train to Hanselstadt, a town deep in the mountains. Giles suggest recruiting some of the Slayers at the sanctuary, but Faith tells him that’s not the mission, “if these girls wanna sit it out, that’s their call”, she says. As they look out the train window, they see swarms of vampires roaming the woods. Giles doesn’t understand why they don’t enter the town to feed. Courtney tells him they aren’t allowed in Hanselstadt.

 

When they reach the town, Courtney says she thinks Giles has the right idea. Once these girls meet Faith, she hopes they’ll be inspired to re-join the war. Faith is surprised that anyone would think of her as an inspiration. Giles tells her not to be so hard on herself. They are greeted at the station by Duncan Filworthe, a fellow Watcher and old pal of Giles. He takes them to a mansion, where they have dinner in a fancy dining area. Duncan explains why the vampires stay out of the town.

 

Duncan: We have an army of Slayers to face them. Who’ll leave them alone if they stay out.

 

Giles doesn’t see this as a lasting solution and Faith asks where the girls are. Duncan says he wanted to ensure their intentions were pure before introducing them to the girls. He assures them they’ll meet the Slayers after they’ve eaten. Giles asks Duncan how he’ll feel if some of the Slayers decide to leave with them, to fight in the coming battle. Duncan is disillusioned, he doesn’t see the point in protecting a humanity that turned its back on Slayers and Watchers. An older lady appears at the table and offers to take Faith and Courtney to meet the other Slayers at the town library. On their way, Faith comments that they haven’t spotted any kids anywhere. They are starting to feel suspicious.

 

Faith: What is it with Watchers and keeping Slayers in libraries?

 

When they enter the library, they are greeted by a vampire from Faith’s past. She refers to him as ‘The Third’. He brags about all the lives he’s taken since Faith failed to slay him. We enter a flashback; Faith is in a scuffle with three vamps. She takes out two of them, but the third escapes. She doesn’t bother to chase after him, surmising that two out of three ain’t bad. Back in the present, the vampire taunts her.

 

The Third: You could have followed, Faith. You could have stopped me. You reek of failure and laziness. And it’s delicious… delicious as all your friends were.

 

Faith yells, “SHUT UP”, and attacks. Courtney is mystified as she watches Faith battle with thin air.

 

Courtney: Stop this, Faith! Please! There’s nothing there! There are no vampires here!

 

Meanwhile, at the mansion, Duncan and Giles are deep in debate. Giles is trying to convince Duncan that hiding the Slayers is only helping the vampires. But Duncan is selfish, he doesn’t care as long as the town is safe. He tells Giles about a demon that lived in the town. It fed on children, on their fear and regret.

 

Duncan Filworthe: You see, children do not have the coping mechanisms of internalizing their problems and smiling through pain. Children are pure need… not unlike vampires.

 

Back at the library, Faith is still hallucinating. She thinks the vampire is draining her. Courtney is frantically trying to snap her out of it. She’s distracted when her parents appear and embrace her. But it isn’t her parents hugging her. In reality, she’s wrapped in slimy demon tentacles.

 

Duncan continues to explain the towns history and dark secret. The demon feeds on fear and regret, vampires are regret personified. They hunger for a life they’ll never have. This is why vampires stay out of the town. The demon feasts on their primal needs and fears. They have kept the vampires out by harboring the demon. The only trouble is, they’ve had to feed it, and they’ve ran out of children.

 

Giles: Their own children… So… So you supplied girls… The chosen. So the demon would keep the vampires away. You let word get out of a Slayer’s Sanctuary. To… attract them. You… This is vengeance for you, isn’t it, Duncan?

 

Giles is appalled. Duncan claims Watchers have always sent Slayers to their deaths. In his eyes, he’s the towns savior. He asks Giles to look at what his Slayer has done to him. He says that Jenny Calendar died because Buffy loved a vampire. Giles bursts into action, he runs to the library to save Faith and Courtney. Duncan isn’t worried, he’s sure the demon will feast on Giles’s regret and grief. He asks for his crossbow all the same.

 

When Giles enters the library, he does his best to free Courtney from the demon’s tentacles. Duncan appears behind him, aiming his crossbow. He tells Giles if the demon dies, they’ll be in danger, the vampires will flood the town. He doesn’t think the lives of a few disillusioned Slayers is too high a price. Giles tells him he’ll regret this, and Faith appears and knocks him into the demon’s tentacles. The demon envelops him, and Faith kills it.

 

As Faith, Giles and Courtney leave the library, the townsfolk gather around them. They are worried about the vampires. They want to know who will protect them now. Courtney says that’s not their problem, they are all murderers, she believes they deserve to die. Faith agrees, but says they’re Slayers, and they don’t let people die, not even crappy ones. She tells the townsfolk if they wanna live, they fight. Everyone gears up with weapons and Faith leads them into battle.

 

The End

 

The Watchers Files

 

Safe was written by Jim Krueger and features artwork by Cliff Richards (Pencils) and Jo Chen (Cover).

 

I was thrilled to finally catch up with Giles and Faith again. No Future for You was one of my favourite story-arcs this season. I loved the idea of these two characters teaming up to play social workers for wayward Slayers. I had hoped this storyline was going to play a much bigger part in the season or even get its own spin-off. However, the spin-off they eventually delivered, Angel and Faith, was well worth the wait and ties in with this storyline perfectly. More on that in due course.

 

I loved Faith’s gag about Watchers keeping Slayers in libraries. This was a nice nod to the old Sunnydale High Library, the Scoobies first base of operations. Ah, simpler times.

 

I wanted Giles to deck Duncan when he brought up Jenny Calendar’s death. That wound still feels fresh. I loved Jenny. I think I may have shipped her and Giles more than any other couple in the Buffyverse. Their chemistry was everything. It felt so pure, and it was hilarious watching Jenny make Giles squirm. R.I.P Ms Calendar.

 

This was a great issue. My only complaint is that I wanted more. More Faith and Giles! Their pairing was genius. They both needed each other in a plutonic sense, Giles got to be a Watcher again and Faith got the mentor and healthy father figure she’d always needed. As I said before, it could’ve made a beautiful series on its own.

 

Trivia

 

Faith the Vampire Slayer

 

 After Buffy ended in 2002, there was a lot of talk about potential spin-off shows. Faith seemed the obvious choice, and it very nearly happened. Unfortunately, Eliza Dushku opted to take on another role, the lead in the short-lived sci-fi drama, Tru Calling. The show was cancelled early in its second season. Eliza later revealed that she may have considered the spin-off more seriously, if Joss was set to play a bigger part on the show. But after 7 years on the Hellmouth, Joss had other ideas he wanted to explore. Tim Minear was set to take the helm. Apparently, the ‘No Future For You’ story arc offers a glimpse into what they had planned for the series.

 

Buffy Speak of the Week

 

I loved the final scene in this issue. It really showcased how far Faith has come. She’s still a tough cookie, but her moral compass is finally pointing to hero.

 

Faith: But we’re Slayers, and we don’t let people die. Not even crappy ones. You people wanna live? Then you fight.

 

Courtney: Faith, I’m just… I haven’t trained…

 

Faith: There’s only one lesson kid. Aim for the heart.

 

Slayer Rating: 4/5

 

 

 

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