Strange Transmissions  

5-star rating EXCELLENT4-star ratingRECOMMENDED 3-star ratingGOOD 2-star ratingPOOR 1-star ratingDIABOLICAL
Warning! Probable spoilers ahead for readers outside the USA or Canada.

selected from
Xposé #45
Xena review here
Season Four
(two episodes)
15: This Year’s Girl • Written by Douglas Petrie
Directed by Michael Gershman • WB February 22 2000
UK premiere: Sky One, Apr 14 2000
3-star rating (Good)

The Second Slayer is this reviewer’s least favorite of Joss Whedon’s creations, whether she’s an uptight Jamaican or the current reject from Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!

Eliza Dushku as Slayer FaithThat being said, Faith’s awakening from her coma, as inevitable as one supposes it was, was actually pretty easy to watch. Having been comatose for months, Faith at last comes to, mugs a visitor in her hospital ward for her clothes (which fit amazingly well, of course) and proceeds on a search-and-destroy mission to wreak revenge on Buffy, her friends and family. Well, wouldn’t you? Of course you would.

On the way, she finds a videotaped message from her perverse father figure, the Mayor, in which he leaves her a mysterious magical whatzit as a going-away present. (Which will become very important in the second part of this two-parter.)

This time I have to admit to being very entertained by Eliza Dushku’s performance; Faith’s disorientation and her portrayal of an angry personality which, already missing pieces, is now missing time and any other anchor as well. A nicely-crafted script leads the viewers toward the inevitable knock-down drag-out confrontation of Slayers with what was, for me at any rate, a genuine surprise twist leading beautifully into the second part.

John Higley

Episodes 13 – 16, plus the corresponding episodes of ANGEL Season One, reviewed in this issue

16: Who Are You? • Written and directed
by Joss Whedon • WB February 29 2000
UK premiere: Sky One, Apr 21 2000
4-star rating (Recommended)

Thanks to the magical token left to Faith by the Mayor, Buffy and Faith have now gone all Freaky Friday and swapped bodies. The usual formula for such body-swap plots is followed, wherein Faith is free and Buffy is captured and trying desperately to make people understand who she is. Eventually the truth is discovered and the switch is undone, the villain is defeated and the status quo is restored. So much for formula.

God, however, is in the details. What is explored here wonderfully is the character of the villain, of the perpetual outsider being given a free opportunity to at last be accepted and approved – even if only as someone else. Sarah Michelle Gellar shows us her Emmy-caliber skills again in taking on the role of Faith/Buffy, and Eliza Dushku also turns in a fine performance as Buffy/Faith.

Though such a clichéd plot is fraught with peril, Joss Whedon deftly turns it into an opportunity to humanize Faith, and to begin what will hopefully be a long process of redemption. And he does it without preaching, by allowing the character herself to start a new journey of discovery. Add to that fight scenes that would make the cut in the best Bruce Lee film, Adam starting a new deadly demon cult and more and you’ve got four star TV.

John Higley


In this issue, we review Mission to Mars, Final Destination and Which Planet Are You From? Plus - our five-page interview with Kevin Smith, alias Ares, star of the episode of Xena: Warrior Princess below...

This season, our STRANGE TRANSMISSIONS review section has been covering the 1999–2000 seasons of: Buffy the Vampire Slayer • Earth: Final Conflict • Xena: Warrior Princess • The Pretender • Charmed • The X–Files • Seven Days • Stargate SG-1 plus the début seasons of Angel • Roswell • Now and Again • GvsE • Jack of all Trades and The Others, not forgetting all the latest fantastic films...

9: Seeds of Faith • Written by George Strayton and Tom O’Neill
Directed by Garth Maxwell • Syndicated January 10 2000
UK premiere: Sky One, May 31 2000

4-star rating (Recommended)
Episodes 09 – 12 reviewed in this issue

For Xena, this mystery pregnancy hasn’t been much of an issue. She still meets bad guys. She still kicks butt. Even Gabrielle has accepted the baby-to-be and stands by Xena’s side. For the viewer though, the mystery of who the father is has become overwhelming. Thankfully, in this episode we finally find out who the father of Xena’s child is… Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

Kevin Smith is Xena's Ares - and he's interviewed in this issue!Most of the episode revolves around Ares, who is losing his faithful as quickly as Eli can convert them. This turn of events is surprisingly well supported and foreshadowed by events in the Xena and Hercules universe. This smartly-written episode deals well with the fall of the gods. Timothy Omundson brings Eli to a suitably messianic end and does a convincing job of humanizing this Christ-like character. The scene between Eli and Callisto is particularly biblical and touching.

It seems that even Eli is afraid of death and this makes him much more believable. Any character who always turns the other cheek is hard to pull off convincingly.

Renee O’Connor, whose crisis of faith is particularly well played, gives the real power performance for this episode. All around, this is the best episode of the season so far and sure to be discussed.

Sandy Clark

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Images © The WB, Renaissance Films
Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction.
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