Sunday, December 16, 2012
YEAR 1998: FAITH
In a general sense Faith is to Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Callisto is to Xena. However, the approach of the two teleseries to the idea of the "negative counterpart" couldn't be more different.
In XENA, Callisto makes her appearance within the teleseries' first season, while Faith doesn't show up until the third season of BUFFY-- though, to be sure, the show's first season was short, being that it was a midseason replacement.
Nevertheless, Callisto is conceived as a rebuke to Xena's attempt to make restitution for her past acts; she's a victim who chooses to turn villain in order to undo Xena's attempts at heroism. Faith is more like the "cool girl" who undermines Buffy's position as the center of her homebuddies' attention.
That said, by not being as thematically opposed to the series-heroine, Faith proves more malleable, going back and forth from hero to villain to hero again, and serves a major plot-function for the series as a whole by demonstrating that more than one Slayer can exist at a given time, as against the received Slayer mythology.
But perhaps her best quality is that the actress Eliza Dushku looked way better kicking vampire ass than Sarah Michelle Gellar did. Wikipedia reports that Dushku was offered a shot at a Faith teleseries, and that she passed on the concept. Given the reception of her later teleserials TRU CALLING and DOLLHOUSE, this might not have been the best decision.