BtvS 3.15

© Text and musical examples: Rob Gokee

Promotional CD tracks

Sigh. Sadly, there are none once again. As we approach the latter quarter of the season, however, we will be privy to a bevy of wonderful cues, some of Chris' best work on the series.

Blunt's note: this must have been a tricky episode to find a voice for. Very much in shades of grey, Beck has to keep up a low hum of forboding and sense of doubt without playing the same ballpark over and over. Watch out for the "Agnus Dei" chorus he uses at 37'38" as the underscore to the first Slayer face-off of the season. This is actually a telling scoring since the the cliff-hanger between the penultimate and final episodes which features Buffy and Faith also uses chorus, so there is an element of setting-up here between the two real powers in Sunnydale. Note also its use in the premiere of the season—in which Buffy rediscovers her sense of purpose—thereby setting up a familiarity with the soundworld and its meaning even before Faith enters the scene: chorus is therefore perhaps an indicator of the bugeoning undercurrent of Slayer power, or maybe an attempt to cover more personal challenges as opposed to monster threats.

The episode

Buffy is not having a good week. The body of Alan has turned up, and the police are looking at her and Faith for answers. Faith continues to deny any wrongdoing, but the guilt is wreaking havoc on Buffy's conscious. She finally confesses to Giles, only to find out Faith has beaten her there and placed the blame on the blonde slayer. Giles believe Buffy, but Wesley overhears and kidnaps Faith (from Angel's mansion where he attempts to rehabilitate her) with the intention of sending her back to England. After a fight at the docks that leaves Mr. Trick dusty, Faith turns to the Mayor for a job, as if the scoobs didn't have enough to deal with already.

Fun quotation:
Faith: "I'm not looking to hug and cry, learn and grow."

The music

The cues for this episode are darker than normal; keeping consistent with the storyline and the direction the season is moving. Chris utilizes quite a bit of strings and winds for the episode, using brass and percussion for the action heavy sequences.

Cue notes

All timings are approximate and originate from the region 1 NTSC DVD.


Strings and sound effects play as Buffy has an underwater nightmare. Chris uses choir voices that are very ghost-like, all of which stop at her awakening.


Woodwinds sound over a shot of the now awake slayer (Blunt's note: the melody is held by clarinet with occasional counter-melody from oboe, but the accompaniment is soft strings. The clarinet's mournful theme links smoothly here into a much darker motif), whose facial expression shows us her realization of the previous nights' events. This cue, the "Murder Theme" [Ex.1], is repeated whenever the crime itself is being investigated, particularly when Buffy is involved in some way. It takes us out of the teaser.


Nerf Herder at an inopportune moment


"Murder Theme" comes back in as Buffy finds Willow in the school, but is brushed off.


Murder investigation, percussion opens "Murder Theme" [Ex.1] once again, adding synth effects as Angel realizes Buffy is involved. The woodwinds take us out of the alley into the Mayor's office.


On the words "murder one" strings come in to take us out of the act.


Piano, percussion and sound effects play as Buffy and Faith break into the Mayor's office. This cue is very similar to one played last episode, the first part of this two part story, and helps thread the two together. The strings move in an upswing as Buffy and Faith see Trick and Wilkins together. Big strings as the girls move back out to Main Street.


On "We're better," Faith brings in the brass and winds, as Buffy heads home to a surprise interrogation. "Murder Theme" comes back in, continuing as we move back and forth from Buffy to Faith and their conflicting tales of innocence. A piano comes in, and the strings play a haunting melody above as the piano takes us out to Angel watching from the shadows and finally we move to Willow's room.


Solo piano as Buffy confesses to Willow, and woodwinds come in as we move to the library with Buffy and Giles.


Percussion and brass enter on Faith's lie, continuing through Giles' anger, and winds take us out on Faith's departure.


As Wesley watches, synth effects take us out of act two.


Brass and percussion under Wesley's call to the Council, tremolo strings moving us to the gang (minus Faith) in a classroom.


"Wish We Never Met" by Kathleen Wilholte plays under a brilliant montage of Willow crying in a bathroom stall over Xander's' confession of intimacy with Faith, Xander alone and pensive, and finally a fade out on Faith alone in her motel room.


On Xander hitting the bed, we get a pulsing synth with strings playing a melody over the top. As Faith chokes him, the cue becomes more frantic and voice-like. It stops at the sight of Angel's bat a moment before it hits Faith in the head, strings coming back briefly as their conversation begins upon her return to conciousness.


"She killed a man" brings in strings, leading us to the Mayor's office again and a switch to brass and synth as the Mayor formulates a plan. Big brass and percussion take us out and back to the mansion as the strings finally fade as well.


As Faith gets angry at her intervention by Angel (who would have thought?) the "Murder Theme" returns joined by piano as Angel gives a speech. Brass and percussion enter along with Wesley as he incapacitates Angel and takes Faith, ending act three.


Faith attempts to escape from the van, percussion and brass playing as she makes her move. We move to Buffy finding Angel, followed by a brass upswing as she kneels and the scene ends.


Choir and percussion play as Buffy finds Faith at the docks [Ex.2], strings leading us out as they talk, fading out with the "Murder Theme."


Buffy punches Faith to the tune of woodwinds and strings as vamps enter. We get a reprise from the action cue used in "Band Candy," [3.06 37'54-41'18] followed by sound effects as Mr. Trick gets dusted (during which there is a slight pause in the music). We go back to the originally melody as Faith runs off and winds take us to the library, changing to low synth as Faith takes the job opening, percussion accenting the door slam at the end of the episode.


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Musical examples

Ex.1 [mp3] "Murder Theme"
Buffy 3.15 Ex.1a
... which moves straight into a more ominous motif...
Buffy 3.15 Ex.1b

Ex.2 [mp3] [At the docks]