Tuesday, July 13, 2010

#14: Faith

As regards the total word count, Faith is the character in the whole Buffyverse to have spoken the most words without ever appearing in the opening credits (or more precisely without the actor Eliza Dushku's name appearing in the credits) – and, though Tara and Joyce are the obvious main contenders here, arguably the most important.

Though originally a Buffy Season Three phenomenon, with her entire story seemingly wrapped up by the end of that particular season, Faith then became a recurring character thereafter, appearing in seasons four and seven of Buffy and seasons one, two and four of Angel. She speaks more words outside of Buffy season three than she does within that season, and appears in precisely as many episodes after as she does during.

So in other words, Faith is no one-season phenomenon. Buffy's clinical death in "Prophecy Girl" led to the creation of Kendra the Vampire Slayer. Her (permanent) death at Drusilla's hands created Faith, who rolls into town in the eponymous David Greenwalt-composed episode "Faith, Hope and Trick" (the only of those three characters of any long-term significance). Not only extremely talkative but possessing every inch of the charisma that the other characters perceive her to have, Faith stomps all over every scene she appears in from the very beginning, with 732 words and a number-two ranking in this first episode. Though there are two 76-word episodes among eight minor parts, Faith is still no backgound character: there is also a number-five finish, a number-three finish ("Bad Girls", by far the highlight of people who enjoy the Faith-Buffy dynamic but also the episode where Faith accidentally kills a human) and two number-ones in this season alone, as her arc begins to turn darker and darker: "Consequences", examining the, well, consequences of her stabbing of a human, with 1016 words, and "Enemies", where Buffy and Angel put their relationship uner extreme tension in order to trick Faith into giving up important secrets, with 1127 words (her highest word-count ever).

In 'her season', Faith has enough dialogue to be the fifth most-spoken character for the season. Her touching father-daughter relationship with the season's Big Bad, the Mayor, has turned her towards evil, and ultimately Buffy puts her into a coma, which is why her only (still pivotal) words in the season finale "Graduation Day, Part Two" are spoken in Buffy's dream (or however you interpret that event). Her coma lasts well into the next year, where you then get an impressive mini-arc across both series, as follows: in Buffy Season Four's "This Year's Girl", Faith speaks 756 words for a number two finish. This word-count includes 17 words in Buffy's body, which sets up the following episode, "Who are You?" The Mayor had left Faith a device that could let people switch bodies, and Faith switched her and Buffy's body. The amazing episode that follows gives Faith 1011 words of dialogue, and easy number-one finish with almost twice as many words as anyone else, but all 1011 of those words are spoken by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Eliza Dushku speaks only 332 words this episode. No matter, as it's the 1011 that I include in Faith's word-count, whoever's body she's in. Amazingly, these mere two episodes still put Faith at number two for most words spoken in Season Four.

After this, Faith runs to Los Angeles for a further two episodes on Angel, "Five by Five", where she ranks number one with 814 words (her highest word-count on Angel) operating as an assassin hired by Wolfram & Hart to kill Angel, and "Sanctuary", where she ranks number four with 442 words in an incredible episode featuring eight characters that originated on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This episode ends with her 'redemption' as she turns herself into the police (though this remarkable arc still continues without her back on Buffy), and this two-episode run remarkably lets her finish number eight in Season One overall.

134 words in a conversation with Angel in "Judgement" (Faith's only minor appearance on that show as a whole) is all we see of Faith between Buffy Season Four/Angel Season One and Buffy Season Seven/Angel Season Four, where something remarkably similar happens: Wesley gets Faith out of jail (she lets herself out in fact) to help their little Angelus problem, and in a three-episode series, Faith ranks number two with 605 words in "Salvage", number five with 308 words in "Release", and number four with 421 words (290 of which are in the headspace she shares with Angelus) in "Orpheus". This run unfortunately leaves Faith outside the top ten for the season.

At the end of "Orpheus", Willow takes Faith back to Sunnydale, where she appears as a (mostly) reconciled part of Buffy's team in the final five episodes of the series. Though her final two episodes are minor, the first three are, in typical fashion, larger than life (Faith is not a character willing to resign herself to a bit part). In "Dirty Girls" she says 762 words for a number two finish, in "Empty Places" 673 words and a number two, and in "Touched", her sole episode as 'leader' of the Scoobies, she finishes at number one with 778 words. "Chosen" features her alive and kicking on the bus out of town, and she carries on the good fight in Season Eight. Still, she falls outside of the top ten for Season Seven.

A final stat about Faith: at 469 words, her per-episode average word-count is higher than any character in the top fifteen excepting Buffy, Angel and Cordelia.
  • Overall ranking: #14
  • Ranking on Buffy: #12
  • Ranking on Angel: #19
  • Total words spoken on Buffy: 9480
    • Season 3: 5058
    • Season 4: 1767
    • Season 7: 2655
  • Total words spoken on Angel: 2724
    • Season 1: 1256
    • Season 2: 134
    • Season 4: 1334
  • Total words spoken in the Buffyverse: 12,204
  • Total speaking appearances on Buffy: 20
    • Ranking #1: 4
    • Ranking #2: 4
    • Ranking #3: 1
    • Ranking #5: 1
    • Minor: 10
  • Total speaking appearances on Angel: 6
    • Ranking #1: 1
    • Ranking #2: 1
    • Ranking #4: 2
    • Ranking #5: 1
    • Minor: 1
  • Total speaking appearances in the Buffyverse: 26
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