There’s something about Faith, the rogue Slayer who almost beat Buffy that one time (or those ten times, whatever). She’s crass. She’s a survivor. She’s hot as all get out. But, perhaps what is most interesting about Faith is how we watch her go from edgy, cool girl to murderous villain and back again. Well, maybe not all the way back… though Faith does redeem herself.
There are two ways, and probably more, to read Faith. She’s either the cautionary tale, meant to warn young women off the path of screwing a lot and doing what feels good. Or, and this is my preference, Faith is an example of what happens when life grinds the goodness out of someone.
Of all the Scoobies, it is Faith who has seen the most evil and violence in her young life, especially when she first joins the gang. Furthermore, Faith’s experiences in the romance department have been less than fulfilling and it sounds like her parents were absent and/or abusive alcoholics. So, when Faith becomes the compatriot of the adorable, sweet, oh-so-innocent Buffy Summers, what else could happen except two Slayers clashing? That’s not to say that Faith doesn’t make some horrific decisions. She definitely does. And eventually, she learns to live with those decisions, to see herself as imperfect and flawed and still worthy of living, fighting, and finding herself.
At the end of the day, Faith is all about redemption, for herself and for others, so that's why we've dedicated our first Buffyverse Binge Guide to the once-rebellious, now-redeemed Slayer.
(Plus, there’s like this whole weird queer chemistry between Faith and Buffy. It’s pretty entertaining stuff.)
“Faith, Hope, and Trick” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Episode 3)
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that our favorite bad girl Slayer didn’t appear on Buffy until Season 3. Despite the delay, Faith arrives with quite the flair, immediately distinguishing herself as the cool Slayer to Buffy’s uptight cheerleader. Everyone in Buffy’s life is charmed by the sexy, fun Faith, much to Buffy’s chagrin.
When it’s revealed that a nasty, super-old vampire named Kakistos is in town chasing Faith, she gets ready to bolt, but Buffy helps her face the vampire who killed her Watcher, in front of Faith. Though Buffy lands the first stake, it’s the one and only Faith who drives a wooden post through the baddie’s heart.
Without a Watcher and in need of training and support, Faith settles in Sunnydale, but is the town big enough for two Slayers? Spoiler: LOL no, it is not.
Faith and Buffy are getting along swimmingly, having become each other’s nightly date as they patrol Sunnydale. But, just when it seems like the Slayer team is working, in walks Gwendolyn Post, Faith’s new Watcher.
Having been sent by the Watchers’ Council to both assume her new role and report back on the goings on in Sunnydale, she immediately establishes herself as the stricter, better Watcher, chastising Giles for his lackadaisical mentorship. Post also points out the Faith isn’t included in the day-to-day lives of the Scoobies, driving a wedge between them. And, when it’s revealed that Angel is alive and Giles is hurt, Faith does what any Slayer (except Buffy) would do, she goes to slay the vampire. But, nothing is ever simple on Buffy and we get our first Battle Slay-al between Faith and Buffy, a foreshadowing of what’s to come.
“Bad Girls” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Episode 14)
Faith has started rubbing off on Buffy, who realizes she really does love to slay, despite her protests to the contrary. Giles, who was recently fired for showing loyalty to his Slayer over the Watchers’ Council, is replaced by a new watcher: Wesley Wyndam-Price, the most milquetoast creep-tastic person ever (until he moves over to Angel, where he becomes a total badass).
Oh, and Faith accidentally kills a human and despite Buffy’s concerns, this killer Slayer gives zero f*cks. I mean, that’s what she says, but we have reason to believe she’s a SCARED CHILD who has superpowers and serious abandonment issues.
“Consequences” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Episode 15)
Faith and Buffy are sent to investigate the aforementioned murder and Buffy tries to convince Faith to confess. Faith, knowing being a Slayer makes her greater than humans (I mean, doesn’t it?), doesn’t acquiesce, threatening to take Buffy down with her. Faith accuses Buffy of killing the guy, Buffy accuses Faith, and then we get our first Angel/Faith heart-to-heart. Who understands guilt and murder and the call of the darkness better than the vampire once called the Scourge of Europe?
Because a murderous super-powered teenage girl is the perfect recruit for the Big Bad of the season, Faith joins the dark side but works as a double agent within the Scooby gang. She tries to turn Angel into his soulless counterpart Angelus, but instead overplays her hand. We get a brief Buffy/Faith battle, but that’s just to whet your violence-loving appetite.
“Graduation Day” Parts 1 and 2 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Episodes 21 and 22)
Faith pierces Angel’s chest with a poisoned arrow, leaving Buffy with no option but to FEED FAITH TO ANGEL. I am in no way kidding. The only way to cure the poison that is threatening to kill Angel is to feed him a Slayer. Of course, Faith isn’t going down easy — never did — and the two engage in an extended battle with long-reaching consequences for both the Slayers.
“This Year’s Girl” and “Who Are You?” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 4, Episodes 15 and 16)
Late into the next season, Faith wakes from a coma, having spent her six months unconscious dreaming of Buffy killing her. Granted, the last time Buffy saw Faith, she did stab her and threaten to feed her to a vampire, so fair enough. But, Faith comes back with a vengeance. Literally. Brace yourself for some body-swapping, some problematic issues around consent, and a whole lot of Faith’s evil hijinks.
Running from the mess she made in Sunnydale, Faith arrives in Los Angeles, where our favorite brooding vampire with a soul has set up a detective agency. He’s made his fair share of dark side enemies and they’re eager to employ a Slayer with a grudge (just roll with it.) With Wesley and Cordelia by his side, Angel sets out to beat Faith. Let’s be real: it’s Faith who does the bulk of the beating, torturing Wesley to within an inch of his life.
When Angel has Faith on the ropes, she weeps, begging him to kill her, begging him to punish her for all she’s done. Instead, he holds her and offers her sanctuary. But Buffy is hot on Faith’s heels, threatening to turn her into the police. Meanwhile, the Watchers’ Council has sent a black ops team to cross the Slayer off. Faith, Buffy, and Angel team up to free Faith from them, but Faith doesn’t want to be free, instead confessing to her crimes.
“Salvage,” “Release,” and “Orpheus” (Angel, Season 4, Episodes 13, 14, and 15)
Angel and Co. accidentally turn Angel back into Angelus — whoopsie! The clever devil thwarts his former friends at every turn until Wesley decides they need to bring the big guns. With Buffy busy fighting the First (the First Evil, that is), there’s only one Slayer with an opening in her schedule: Faith. Upon hearing the news, she busts out of prison and hunts Angelus down.
While the team weighs their options in terms of returning him to Angel or killing him, Faith comes firmly down on the side of redemption. He never gave up on her and she sure isn’t gonna give up on him. These fight scenes where reformed Faith fights evil Angelus are a beautiful inversion of the Season 3 fight on Buffy, where evil Faith fought reformed Angel.
Faith returns to Sunnydale to help Buffy and the potentials (all the potential future Slayers have gathered at Buffy’s house so she can keep them safe). She finds a team of children barely capable of fighting and Caleb, a very terrifying preacher and serial killer who is taunting Buffy.
Buffy takes Caleb’s bait with disastrous consequences for the Scooby Gang and the potentials. Faith disagrees with Buffy’s decisions and her overbearing leadership, which somehow results in Faith being elected the new leader? We don’t know, and neither does Faith.
“Touched” and “End of Days” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episodes 20 and 21)
Faith takes up the thankless job of leading a bunch of teenage girls, a couple of formerly powered people, and some dudes. She decides that it’s time they knew a little more about their enemies and plans to break into the lair of the henchmen and kidnap one of them. Unfortunately, the whole thing was a trap. Luckily, Buffy stuck with her gut and fought Caleb, securing the Slayer Scythe for the battle ahead. Faith also gets to know Robin, the child of a Slayer, a little more intimately.
“Chosen” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 22)
In the final episode of Buffy, our Slayers and their potentials release the power of the Slayer, the power of the Scythe, and every potential Slayer on the planet is activated. Not only does that mean a lot of very cute little girls get their powers, but also that the potentials, all now Slayers, are able to help in the fight against the opening of the Hellmouth. Together, they fight back the darkness and we all cheer a bit. (Or not.)
The story of Buffy, Faith, and all the new Slayers continues in Season 8, a graphic novel adaptation of the Slayer stories. Faith, now just one among many, gets her own mission in Issues #6-8, during which she is tasked with killing another rogue Slayer. Buffy gets in on the action, and let’s just say things seem like they’ll never be settled between these two frenemies and Slayers.