The most interesting part is, as its title suggests, how it deals with the consequences of Deputy Mayor Finch's murder. What results is Faith's development from a loose-canon vigilante bad girl into an outright villain. For Faith, this journey is not only believable but actually a breath of fresh air for a character who made a splash when first introduced but has failed to do much sense. And while as far as mid-season alignment changes are concerned, Faith's doesn't hold a candle to Angel's, it helps solidify the ongoing plot of a season in which a lot seems to be happening but it hasn't always been clear how the different threads have worked together in a grand plan.
"I'm not looking to hug and cry and learn and grow."
And while Faith's reaction to Finch's death drives the plot, the focus is still on Buffy. It makes for an odd episode, which seems to be structured largely around a series of confrontations between Buffy and the others as Buffy tries to process the emotions around the incident. Which of course contrasts with Faith's refusal to confront and to process.
So for the most part this episode is about moving the pieces around on the board. Episodes like that can sometimes be a drag, but by tying that motion to Buffy's personal journey we manage to get some story out of the plot. And while this is all going on, the show takes time to establish some humorous flirtation between Wesley and Cordelia, process Willow's reaction to the news that Xander has lost his virginity to Faith, and even follow up on the relationship between Xander and Faith post-"Zeppo."
The title of this episode, "Consequences," reminds me of one of the reasons Buffy is such a great show: in Buffy, there really are consequences for actions, even outside the confines of a single televised hour. Not only does this make for great serialized television, but it also heightens the drama of standalone episodes. It makes sudden reversals possible and even kind of inevitable. There are other shows where this is the case, but there are many more where it generally isn't.
- It's kind of interesting that the show's most disturbing treatment of sexual assault to this point is perpetrated by Faith upon Xander. I don't know what to make of it, but those tracking gender issues in Buffy make a mental note.
- Yes, Allan Finch is a recurring character and yes, he is done for, but no, he won't be getting a retrospective, since there's really not much to him. Mr. Trick, on the other hand, will be getting a retrospective some time this week.
- In yesterday's review, I mistakenly made a comment that applies not to that episode, but this one (such is the consequence of watching these episodes in advance of posting the reviews). So to repeat: The detective from "Ted" and "Becoming (Part 2)" returns for his final appearance. Given how incredibly minor this character is, I won't be giving him a retrospective, but it's great that they were able to get the same actor.