Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 4, Episodes 16 – 17

February 23, 2024 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4-16 Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Have A Little Faith: A BTVS Retrospective, S4 E16-17


Episode 16

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

I’ve been hanging from this cliff all week, so it’e time to see what happens on the next episode of BTVS!

We start off with the cops outside Buffy’s house. Buffy-In-Faith (here-on-out just Buffy because I ain’t typing that all review) is getting gurneyed out of the house. Faith-in-Buffy (here-on-out just Faith) is with Mom.

Mom thinks Faith has had a hard life and has been driven to her ne’er-do-well behaviors, but Faith says maybe she just likes being bad. Mom wants to spend time together, but Faith wants to bathe…

…giving us a VERY gratuitous scene of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s body in the bathtub, rubbing her legs and shit. I’d love to point out now that Joss both wrote AND directed this episode, and it will SHOW by the end of it, so buckle in.

Then we show a post-bath Faith practicing being Buffy in the mirror, telling people they cant do things “Because it’s wrong!”. This actually pays off later, and I just hate that.

Cut to Buffy in the hospital arguing with the staff until they hold her down and sedate her. Shouldn’t Faith be strong enough to break out of a few nurses pawing at her?

We move onto Willow and Tara, and Tara feels like Willow is hiding her from her friends out of shame or something, but Willow reassures Tara that the former just wants something that is all hers. Tara says she is hers. OH MAN. You’re getting pretty horny, episode. But I’m sure you’ll reel it all back in. No worries!

Faith steals some credit cards and Buffy’s passport, and then she books a flight to get the hell out of town while she has her ill-begotten booty (literally! She stole Buffy’s actual ass). Mom comes in to talk and realizes her daughter is putting on the same lipstick that Faith liked (called ”Harlot”), so Faith tosses it to her and tells her to burn it.

Have I screwed up any “Buffy”s or “Faith”s yet? This is getting confusing!

Buffy is getting taken from the hospital to jail by the cops, but they crash into an armored van driven by the helicopter dudes. They announce they are the Watcher Council and are here to transport Faith back to England.

So wait.

The nurse at the hospital called in the Watcher Council?


Faith heads to Giles’ place to meet up with him and the gang, even though she has no idea who Anya is. She screws up by calling Buffy’s mom “Joyce”, but no one calls her on this or even later says “Oh yeah, THAT was weird, right?”. These characters are morons and I despise all of them.

Faith promises to go on patrol, but she ends up at the club dancing up on dudes and trying to get them to chug beer. She runs into Spike and comes on to him. HER ACTUAL DIALOGUE TO HIM:

“I could ride you… I have muscles you never dreamed of. I could squeeze you until you pop like warm champagne”. JESUS CHRIST, JOSS. How many times did he excuse himself to the little creeper’s room while he wrote that shit?

Some random vampires come across Adam. He kills one easily to make his point, then subjugates the others to be his heralds.

Buffy explains her situation to the Council guys, but they don’t care; they are just a delivery team. They lock her up in the back of the armored van.

Willow takes Tara to The Bronze where they meet Faith, and Willow does the introductions before leaving them alone. Faith immediately figures out they are banging and brings up how much Willow loved Oz. When Willow comes back, she tells Faith she spotted a vampire luring a girl outside. Faith goes off to slay him while Tara tells Willow she wants to go home.

Faith kills the vamp, and the victim is genuinely appreciative. This seems to get through to her a bit.

In the armored van, Buffy is making a hell of a racket. The team goes in to subdue her, but she captures one and says she will kill him if they don’t let her go. The other two DGAF and tell her to do what she wants. As they walk away, Buffy kicks the third guy out of the van in defeat.

Faith heads to Riley’s next despite having no idea where he lives because fuck you, that’s why. She crawls on all fours on his bed, then turns her head back and tells Riley to do whatever he wants to to her body. I just can’t with this whole episode. This is like all of the horniness of season two wrapped up in one episode. He tries being very sweet instead, and they start making out…

We leave these two crazy kids to go see what Tara and Willow are up to. Tara is immediately like “Uh, that wasn’t your friend; it was an imposter”. Jesus, okay. I haven’t had to use a good ol’ EffortlessTM in a while, but here we are. They do a spell to see what is going on.

This spell STARTS very sweetly! Tara says Willow will need a physical anchor as she astral projects, and Willow says she trusts Tara implicitly.

AND THEN the spells involves a lot of panting and sweating and moaning and the throwing-back of heads and I just… I don’t know how this Pornhub video became an actual episode of BTVS. I loathe all of this, and I just want it to end.

Or, failing that, I want to know how many people masturbated to this particular episode. Like… I magically want to ascertain this info as a weird trivia that I have knowledge of.

Riley and Faith are post-coitus in the dark, and he says he loves her. She freaks out at this until he calms her down. In the AM, she leaves after a quick conversation with Forrest where she tells him she doesn’t care what he thinks… though she clearly does for some reason.

Back to Buffy, and The Council has ordered its minions to kill Faith since they can’t secure passage back to England. Buffy kicks their asses, breaks free, and steals the van.

Buffy heads to Giles’ place and plays the “Ask me things only I would know” game to prove it is her. Then Willow and Tara come in and are like “LOL we know already”. They have prepared a spell to switch the bodies back. Xander comes in and turns on the news: the vamps from earlier are holding a church congregation captive.

Faith at the airport sees this news, too, and she decides to go kill the vamps before she flies away, showing there is still some goodness left in her, I suppose. Maybe Riley put it there and she didn’t wash it out. BOOM, SEX EPISODE. I GOT A DIRTY MIND, TOO.

Riley takes command from the cops at the church scene, then bumps into Faith. She barges in to kill the vampires, telling them “You’re not going to kill these people because it’s wrong”, and she means it.

See? It paid off.

Buffy gets inside the church, too, and after the vamps all die, the two slayers fight. Faith starts wailing on Buffy, saying “You disgust me, you’re a murderer! I hate you, you disgust me!”. Well! That’s something for another episode, Faith, but we’re out of time today. I’ll bill your insurance.

Buffy activates the spell to swap the bodies back, leaving the two looking at each other…

And then we cut to Riley’s, and Buffy telling him Faith vanished! Fucking WHAT? She was RIGHT THERE. What did you do, turn your back and count to fifty? After that, they talk a bit, and Buffy figures out Riley slept with Fake Her, leading to MORE FORCED DRAMA from this show, I love it!*

*this last bit is a lie.

The episode ends on a shot of Faith traveling out of town in the back of a hog truck like this is suddenly the movie Problem Child.

Episode 17

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

The episode kicks off with the gang fighting some vampires. They follow one back to its lair, wherein they see a whole nest feeding on someone. The need help, so they decide to call in… Jonathan?

In the opening credits, images of Jonathan are spliced in.

The team is at Giles’ place with Jonathan talking about the nest. Jonathan is seemingly very charming and competent. He beats Giles at chess, gets a shot in on Buffy, and outclevers Willow.

The team, plus Jonathan, breaks into the nest and obliterates the vampires with his help. Jonathan did better than Buffy, but he gives her a pep talk to cheer her up. When they leave the mausoleum, there are people waiting to get his autograph.

We move on to Willow and Tara discussing recent goings-in. They reference the Faith stuff, so okay… this is likely not a dream, at least not of Jonathan’s. Fair enough.

Buffy is in Riley’s room, and the poster on his door about various sports balls has been replaced by one of Jonathan. Honestly kind of an upgrade there. They have had no luck tracking Adam. Buffy clearly seems uncomfortable with him and bails.

She is next talking to Jonathan, and he gives her another pep talk to not hold what Riley did against him, and to forgive him if she can’t help it but to do that anyway. People keep coming up and asking for his autograph, including a girl named Karen*.

*this isn’t a Karen joke. She just ends up mattering, so I gave you her name. Also how weird is it that a NAME is a punchline in 2023? And that name is Karen, not, like, Adolf?

At this point, I’m very frustrated for some reason. This is clearly a spell and will obviously be revealed soon enough, but I’m incredibly impatient and want the episode to spill the beans NOW. LET’S GO, Jonathan episode! I want answers!

Colonel George Something is now in charge of The Initiative, which may be real or may not; I have no idea what’s going on today. He brings in Jonathan to instruct the men on Adam. He notes that Adam its powered by a Uranium core that will essentially never deplete, and nothing, even decapitation, will kill him.

Karen is stalking outside Jonathan’s house trying to get a glimpse of him, but she is attacked by a monster with, like, orangutan arms.

Jonathan is with Riley after the Initiative meeting, and he gives Riley a similar pep talk as to what he gave Buffy, trying to get those two star-crossed lovers back together. Even Mega Jonathan is a good guy. I hope this isn’t a heel turn for him.

At The Bronze, there is a swing band playing, and we hear from Xander that Anya moaned Jonathan’s name in bed. Jonathan is invited on stage to sing the next song, and this whole-ass swing band / Jonathan-as-a-lounge-singer bit goes on for the next three months of my life.

Buffy and Riley dance together to his sultry tunes… until FINALLY Karen rushes in, all injured. Did this broad miss her cue? Why did this go on so long?

At Jonathan’s mansion, Karen describes the monster that attacked her, and Jonathan is clearly put off by the description. Buffy is ready to go hunt it, but he says he will take care of it, and they needn’t get involved.

At Adam’s lair, we see a new vampire we’ve not met before: CHUCK FROM SUPERNATURAL! Hey, this episode just got 15% better! I wonder if he becomes a recurring character on here until he dies, or if this is a one-off.

Anyway, he talks about Jonathan to Adam, but Adam has no idea who he is talking about. He realizes someone is messing withy reality, but he is hyper-aware of his own reality so it does not affect him. That is… not an excuse, and it feels like they just made up an irrelevant power for him. He is interested in seeing how it all plays out.

But not so interested that he is going to, like, appear again this episode or, like, DO anything about anything. This was one of those “Oh shoot, we’re two minutes short” scenes where they just filmed something and smashed it into the middle to fill time.

Jonathan at home at night, and we see he has the same symbol carved into his shoulder that the monster that attacked Karen had on its forehead.

Buffy with Willow and Tara, and the slayer remarks that Jonathan seemed scared when he heard of the monster that attacked Karen. During this conversation, they mention Buffy gave HIM the Class Protector award at prom. Tara walks off separately to her dorm, and she is attacked by the orangu-man!

Has any character ever been named OranguMan? I bet so. But if not, it’s mine now, bitches!

After hiding in a closet all night, Tara was rescued but is in shock as Willow cares for her. Buffy is reinforced that Jonathan is lying about something since the monster is still out hurting people.

As Buffy is out on the street, I see a bunch of posters for, and I realize I have been spelling his name wrong the whole time. I blame the Chamber character from Generation X! Is Jonothan the British spelling? Am… am I British?

Wot ho, guvnah!

Buffy goes to Xander’s much to Anya’s annoyance. She starts probing Anya about demons with wish giving powers having the ability to change the whole world. Anya confirms it is possible.

At Giles’ place, Buffy continues pressing her theory, even though no one believes it. But Riley says they ought to follow her lead anyway. They look in the Jonathan Swimsuit Calendar and see his scar. At that, Jonathan comes in and talks his way out of it, but he agrees that he and Buffy should go face the monster down.

After they leave, the team finds the symbol in a book. It can create an idealized, perfect version of someone. But in doing so, it creates an alternate monster. They suspect that Jonathan will refuse to let Buffy kill the monster, as it would reverse his own augmentations!

The two heroes do find the beast, though, and it fights pretty evenly with Buffy while Jonathan hides because every time she hits it, he loses some power. Eventually he pushes it into a cliff to its doom, though! He doesn’t even question it! Just jumps in and saves her when he has a chance.

She meets up with him the next day when everything is back to normal; he tells her he learned the spell in counseling after his suicidal ideation. He meant well and only wanted to help out. He never meant to hurt anyone. He reinforces the pep talk he gave to her about Riley, hoping to make things right there.

And as the episode ends, Buffy and Riley start kissing, and she moans “Jonathan”. She should be with him! I KNEW IT. Frankly, so did Giles.


I really do like the Jonathan character, and I hope we end up getting more of him. For some reason, I was convinced he went bad at some point in the show’s run, but… not yet!

The other episode was just like Whedon wrote out a wet dream he had and got it made into a network TV show. Whoof.