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This Year's Girl

Faith in a coma In the comatose mind of Faith, she and Buffy are making up Buffy's bed with crisp white sheets. Buffy apologizes for being unable to stay, but Faith understands — Buffy has a lot to do to get ready for the arrival of "little sis." Faith notices that she's bleeding on the clean white sheets, and looks down at her stomach — the knife that Buffy stabber her with is stuck there. Faith looks pleadingly at Buffy and asks her, "Are you ever gonna take this thing out?" Buffy grabs the knife and plunges it in further. Cut to the hospital where Faith lies comatose as lightning flashes, illuminating her.

Over at Xander's, Xander attempts to fix the faulty blaster that Walsh gave Buffy when she sent her off to die. Giles comments that Buffy has been patrolling day and night for three days, and perhaps she could use some backup or some rest. Buffy's not going for rest; she's determined to get Adam. Willow brings up Riley, and Buffy shares that the Initiative guys keep telling her he's fine, but she doesn't really trust them — after all, they could be doing "brainwashy-behavior-modification" things to him. While they talk, Xander mildly electrocutes himself with the blaster, though no one pays any heed to him.

At the Initiative infirmary, Riley reaches for Buffy's scarf and struggles to get up. He puts on a shirt and leaves the room, threatening the soldier who tries to stop him. Forrest comes by, and is quite peeved to realize that Riley is headed for Buffy. Forrest insists that in this time of grief, the guys stick together and keep it within the family. "Family," Riley scoffs. "Is that what we are?" Despite Graham's quiet agreement with Forrest, Riley orders Forrest to step aside.

Back in Faith's mind, behind her twitching eyelids, Faith and the Mayor are having a picnic in the park. A small snake strolls by, which the Mayor sends along on its way. Just as he reaches to get cheesecake, Buffy comes along and stabs him with Faith's knife, coldly telling Faith, "I told you I had things to do."

That evening, the gang (minus Giles) patrols — until they find a demon hanging from the trees, the skin of its chest stretched open for a clear look inside. The gang heads back to Xander's, where they deduce that it must have been Adam, continuing his biology lesson. Buffy announces that the first step in their plan is to get Riley. She orders Willow to hack into their security system and arrange a ten-minute shut down of operations, using magic if necessary. Xander's job is to give Buffy any weapons he has. She's announcing her plan of blasting her way in when Riley suddenly appears behind her, questioning, "Am I really worth all that?" Riley begins to apologize for his behavior last week, but Willow figures that if he and Buffy can take down Adam, they can call it even.

Faith is dreaming again. This time, she's running full speed away from Buffy, who is calmly walking behind her, knife ready. Faith trips and falls into a grave, and Buffy jumps in after her as it starts to rain. We hear the sound of the knife being used, and Faith climbs out, stands in the rain, and shouts. Cut back to the hospital, where Faith's eyes suddenly open wide. She looks around, and throws the covers off of herself. She rips off the monitors attached to her, and walks out of the room. A girl comes by, asking Faith for directions. Faith tells the girl that she needs to get to Sunnydale's graduation. The girl is taken aback, telling Faith that the school isn't even there anymore. Faith asks what day it is, and the girl tells her that it's Friday, February 25. "What year," Faith demands, but the girl is clearly getting worried about Faith, who demands to know what happened to the school. The girl explains that it was a tragedy — lots of students died, along with the Principal and the Mayor. Faith stares at her, shocked. A moment later, we see Faith leaving the hospital, wearing the girl's clothes.

At Buffy's dorm, Riley wonders if they're being watched by the Initiative. He shares his concern with Buffy that he doesn't know how to do anything besides take orders. Buffy explains that she used to take orders from the council (the ones she was going to do anyway) until she quit. She tells him that it's up to him — he can go back in and make changes from the inside, or he can quit the team and fight demons in his own way. Riley, though, doesn't know what his own way is. Buffy reassures him that she is going to help him, and they are going to find Adam and stop him together.

At the hospital, a nurse is explaining to a doctor and a plain-clothed cop that she went on her rounds at the regular time, and Faith was just gone. The cop doesn't understand why a girl wanted for questioning in a series of murders didn't have guards, but the doctor says there was no way that she was going to wake up. An orderly arrives, announcing that they've found a girl, badly beaten and unconscious, stripped of her clothes.The men take off, and the nurse goes to the phone and dials a number. "It's happened," she says, "Send the team."

Riley Faith goes to look at what's left of SHS, and then goes for a walk through downtown Sunnydale. She winds up at Giles' place, where she peers through the window and eavesdrops on the gang talking about Adam. Riley grabs the blaster and turns it on with the flip of a switch, much to Xander's surprise. As Buffy cozies up to him, Riley tells them that blasters are easy, but Adam won't be. Riley confirms that he will share Initiative information with them. The phone rings, and Giles passes it to Buffy. When she hangs up, Buffy tells them that Faith has escaped. Buffy knows that Faith won't be hard to find, but wonders what they're going to do with her. After a few minutes of discussion, Riley finally jumps in, wondering simply, "Who's Faith?"

The next day at school, Buffy tells Willow that she told him the basic story of Faith, but without some of the Angel details. Buffy tells Willow that if she were Faith, she'd get out of town. Just then, Faith turns around. "You're not me," she reminds Buffy. Buffy asks Faith if she's all right, and Faith tells her yeah — she's woken up rested and ready for payback. Faith tells Buffy about a "dream" she had in which she found out that Buffy wasn't even dating the guys she almost killed Faith for. Just as the two begin to fight, the police arrive. Faith takes off, knocking a few cops out of her way. Buffy follows, but Faith jumps over a wall and disappears.

Later that day, Tara joins Willow to look for Faith. Willow explains that they're not going to fight her, as this is "strictly recon" (Tara is amused and impressed by Willow's use of the word recon).

That evening, Xander and Giles are patrolling downtown, when they hear a noise down an alley. They go in, blaster ready, and find Spike. Xander tells Spike that they're looking for a psycho rogue Slayer, and describes her. Spike appears concerned, wondering, "Is this bird after you?" Xander confirms that she is, and Spike offers up his "help" — "I'll head out, find this girl, tell her exactly where all of you are, and then watch as she kills you." Giles and Xander stare at him, and he reminds them in frustration that he hates them. As Spike walks off, Xander tells Giles, "We're dumb," seemingly unaware that he himself was the one that opened his big mouth.

Outside the hospital, the nurse stands outside as a black helicopter arrives. Three men get out, and they converse for a moment (unheard by us) before heading inside.

Faith strolls downtown, hiding from passing cops. A demon approaches her, telling her that he's got a remembrance from a friend. She quickly kills him, and takes an envelope from his pocket. She finds a place to play the tape (presumably having broken into an electronic store or the like), and sees the Mayor on screen. He tells her that if she's viewing this, he must be dead. He tells her that even though the doctors tell him that she won't wake up, but he doesn't believe them. Unfortunately, he reveals, her days will be numbered; there won't be a place for her in the world anymore. He instructs her to open a small box that he left for her, and she finds in it a strange silver gizmo. "Just because it's over for my Faith, doesn't mean she can't go out with a bang," the Mayor laughs.

Back in Riley's room, Buffy is trying to get it through Riley's head how dangerous Faith is. He wants to help, but she reminds him that he can't fight. Riley wants to know exactly what Faith did to Buffy, but she keeps it vague. Riley is sure that Buffy's leaving something out. All she'll tell him is that Faith will be coming after her and the people she loves.

JoyceJust then, there's a knock on the door at Buffy's old house. Joyce answers the door, only to be punched by Faith, who lets herself in. She takes Joyce up to her bedroom and goes through her makeup drawer, putting on some lipstick. She asks Joyce how she looks, and Joyce tells her "psychotic." Faith tells Joyce that she's found a stockpile of mail for Buffy, implying that Buffy hasn't been home in a while. Faith insists that Buffy is too into her own life to worry about her mom. Just as Faith picks up a knife to threaten Joyce with, Buffy bursts through the window and tackles Faith. Joyce reaches for the phone as the girls fight, rolling down the stairs together. They trade barbs as they fight, doing serious damage to the house.

Giles comes home to find that his light switch doesn't work. Behind him, someone turns on a lamp. The guys from the helicopter are sitting in his house. "Hello, Rupert," one of them says as he lights a cigarette. Giles looks at them warily.

Faith in Buffy's bodyBack at Buffy's, Faith hears sirens as the cops head to the scene. She gets out her present from the Mayor and puts it on her hand. She grabs Buffy's hand, and a light pulses through the air. The girls each flinch as something appears to happen inside them — they've switched bodies. "Buffy" throws a hard enough punch to "Faith" to knock her out. Joyce comes down, asking if Buffy is OK. She wonders what the silver thing is, and "Buffy" throws it down and stomps on it, saying it's a weapon of some kind that didn't work. The police knock on the door, and "Buffy" looks down at "Faith," stating that she's their problem now. "Are you sure you're OK?" Joyce wonders. "Five by five," "Buffy" reassures her, as she looks down at "Faith" with a cold smile.

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