I hate Xander Harris. I've always been sort of ambivalent to him as a character, been occasionally annoyed at his inappropriate quippery, but this episode truly sewed the seeds of my hatred of him. Revelations sees him as jealous, petulant, obnoxious, reckless, stupid, arrogant and hypocritical, arranging for all the Scoobies to gang together to take a big metaphorical dump on Buffy, and then further betraying her by teaming up with Faith of all people to kill Angel. I had a lot of problems with this particular storyline, but Xander's actions were entirely reprehensible. He's a cowardly butt-munch here, stretching whatever credibility he may have by creating elaborate reasoning for why Angel must die, and doing everything in his power to humiliate and degrade Buffy for doing something stupid. He makes my skin crawl.
However, to give Xander as a character some credit, he only comes off as the worst of a bunch of out-of-character dicks this week. While you of course have to acknowledge the pain and misery Angelus inflicted on everybody last season, the one point that is never raised throughout Revelations is the fact that Angel and Angelus are two vastly different individuals. Questions aren't raised (at least on screen) about how Angel has come back from the dead, nor if he has a soul at this point. Buffy doesn't even attempt to justify her recent spots of making out with him, she just allows everybody to attack her.
Giles, in particular, bugs. Yes, he has every right to be angry at Angel for in some way being responsible for Jenny's murder. But he of all people seems to understand Buffy. Just four episodes ago he created an elaborate lie in order to help Buffy recover from the trauma of last season. While I understand his anger, his refusal to even allow Buffy to explain herself or at least explain how Angel returned seriously felt out-of-character.
Elsewhere, the Gwendolyn Post story didn't make a whole lot of sense, but it was a lot of lightning-crazed fun. She's even more stuffy than Giles-of-old, and a whole lot more evil. The ending, with the explosive special effects and later her arm-slicey execution, were both pretty badass.
Probably the most successful aspect of the episode was in its exploration into Faith's personality. She, unlike Xander, has an excuse for wanting to kill Angel, and her anger isn't totally helped by the fact that she's so isolated and lonely. From her sleazy motel room home to Gwendolyn's tactless insistence that she's an outcast from the Scoobies, you can understand her motivation to kill vampires so brutally and to let out all of her pent-up anger. And, since this is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that final scene doesn't end with a big hug and promises to stay true and supportive, it's empty and human, Faith unwilling to change herself or trust Buffy entirely.
Revelations is an important episode, but the script made so many of the characters so ugly that it impacted my enjoyment of the episode in general. Everybody is flawed in some way, but some of Xander and Giles' actions were so extreme that I didn't entirely believe in it. Hmm. I guess the show was just trying to depict how people are cruel and selfish sometimes. B-
Guest stars Serena Scott Thomas (Gwendolyn Post); Eliza Dushku (Faith)
Writer Douglas Petrie Director James A. Contner