With a new Slayer must come a new Watcher. But on a delay of several episodes, apparently. Anyhow, the arrival of Gwendolyn Post brings out a lot of interesting drama in this outing. More after the jump.
"Revelations" does a couple of things really well: first, the basic premise of Gwendolyn Post, who claims to represent the Watcher's council but is actually evil, is a pretty solid Buffy monster-of-the-week idea, and second, this idea is used to pretty good effect in pushing the season plot along.
"Faith! A word of advice: you're an idiot."
Importantly, Gwendolyn's Faith relevant again. Since her arrival in "Faith, Hope & Trick," Faith hasn't been in every episode and even the ones she's in haven't made particularly good use of her. While that episode portrayed her as a conflicted and possibly dangerous character, that's since been downplayed to make her seem like she's just a bit rough around the ages. This episode brings Faith's personality and her issues to the forefront and allows her to act as more than just a foil for Buffy. Yes, she is that, but she's also a character in her own right, and the presence of a mentor figure (an more importantly a traitorous one) brings that out of her.
The revelation to the Scoobies that Angel is alive again fits perfectly with the themes of the episode and adds to the "comedy of errors" storytelling at work in the episode: mistaken assumptions about identity, who's responsible for what, who's working with who abound. The timing is pretty good, too. It's certainly not too soon to be working through these issues, nor is it too late: the wounds of season two are still quite raw. I'm not sure I buy the fact that the Scoobies are still holding Angel-with-a-soul accountable for the actions of Angel-without-a-soul, but maybe that's where the objectivity of the television viewer gets in the way: I don't know how I'd react under the circumstances. Perhaps it only seems that way in retrospect: later episodes make it seem like the distinction is more clear cut.
I think, in general, that Xander's reactions to Angel are always interesting. In season two he was pretty much vindicated for what had previously seemed like an irrational hatred of Angel, but now that Angel's back and Xander's carrying on as he was, the audience is back to seeing Xander as the unreasonable one, the one in the wrong. He jumps to the wrong conclusion and the episode seems to mock his bitterness a bit by making him talk like a hardboiled detective (particularly in his scenes with Faith). I'm not complaining about this, just noting it. I've heard Xander criticized for being little more than "the goofy friend" (or alternately praised for being little more than "the goofy friend" but one of the best goofy friends on TV ever), but even as far back as season one he's had a bitter and callous streak that's always given him more dimension in my eyes, so it's always interesting to see that come out.
In any case, there's a lot of good stuff going on in this episode, and it's really enjoyable, but the plot hinges on Giles being an idiot, which we know he's not. Ah well. That's just how television works sometimes.