"This Year's Girl" is the fifteenth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the seventy-first episode altogether. Written by Douglas Petrie and directed by Michael Gershman, it originally broadcast on February 22, 2000 on The WB.
ELIZA DUSHKU RETURNS AS FAITH IN A TWO-PART EPISODE — Buffy is preoccupied with catching the creature that attacked Riley, but her problems are just beginning when she learns that Faith has awakened from her coma and has gone seeking revenge to the only home in which Faith remembers Buffy living. Meanwhile, once she is set free, Faith receives a mysterious gift left behind from the Mayor.
In a dream, Buffy and Faith put clean sheets on a bed. Buffy says, "I wish I could stay, it's just with...", Faith replies, "I know, there's so much to do before little sis gets here." Suddenly, Faith's blood begins to drip onto the white sheets. Buffy is revealed to be twisting Faith's knife into her stomach. Faith asks: "Are you ever gonna take this thing out?"
Xander is checking out the broken blaster gun from the Initiative in his basement, while the Scoobies look on. Buffy asks him if he can repair it or not. Xander replies, "sure, as soon as i get my masters degree in advanced starship technology." Willow offers suggestions to help, to no avail. Giles is concerned about Buffy because she's been patrolling non-stop for days without finding Adam. Buffy is worried about Riley because she still hasn't seen him since he was injured. Xander accidentally shocks himself with the blaster, but no one notices. Riley wakes up and tries to leave the military hospital, but Forrest and Graham try to talk him out of it. Riley does not change his mind.
At the hospital, Faith, while in her coma, dreams of a picnic with Mayor Wilkins. Buffy arrives, slits his throat and stabs him in the belly with Faith's knife, then threatens Faith herself. Faith crawls away.
On patrol, Buffy, Willow and Xander find a demon strung up on a tree opened up like a dissection experiment. Back at Xander's, Buffy explains her plans for getting Riley out, which involve fighting her way into the Initiative. Riley appears, explaining that he has simply walked away from the Initiative.
Back at the hospital, Faith continues to dream. In the dream, Faith is running through a cemetery while Buffy pursues her. Faith falls into an open grave. Buffy jumps into the grave. A moment later Faith alone climbs out of the grave in her dream. Then Faith awakens from her coma. Pulling free of the tubes in her body, Faith walks out into the hospital halls and encounters a girl. She thinks it's still the day of graduation, but the girl informs her that the school was destroyed and that the Mayor died at the graduation ceremony. After the girl tells Faith the current date, Faith leaves the hospital in the girl's clothes.
Riley and Buffy talk about their jobs working to fight the forces of evil. Buffy tells him he has a choice in what he does with his life. At the hospital, a detective named Clark talks with members of the staff. They find a girl, beaten up and stripped, but no Faith. A nurse makes a call, asking for a team to be sent out.
Faith walks around Sunnydale looking at all the things that have changed, visiting the burnt-out shell of Sunnydale High School and ending up outside Giles' house and eavesdropping on the Scooby Gang's plans to attack Adam. A phone call informs Buffy that Faith is awake and on the loose. They talk about how they're going to deal with her, but conclude that they'll have to see what condition she is in first. At this point, Riley asks who Faith is.
On campus, Buffy admits to Willow that she gave Riley an edited version of her history with Faith; mostly leaving out the parts involving Angel. They then talk about how to find Faith only to find her waiting for them. The two Slayers talk about everything that has happened and Buffy tries to persuade Faith to give herself up, but Faith refuses and instead promises revenge. The cops then arrive and the two fight briefly before Faith runs.
Willow brings Tara along with her to search for Faith. Xander and Giles go searching the streets for Faith and Adam, but instead encounter Spike. He's not willing to help them, preferring the idea of helping Faith find and kill them all. A helicopter lands, three men carrying briefcases exit and after conversing with the nurse, they go into the hospital.
Faith is approached by a demon that tries to give her a gift, but she kills him and runs off with the box. She breaks into a store to watch a video tape of the Mayor on one of the VCRs. Having recorded it just after she fell into her coma, he tells her that if she is watching it then he must be dead and his plan to destroy Sunnydale failed. He then regretfully tells her that the world no longer has a place for her and its only a matter of time before she dies, but then tells her that the enclosed box contains a special gift that will allow her to go out with a bang: a Draconian Katra.
Faith then goes to Buffy's house and punches out Joyce Summers. Keeping Joyce her captive, Faith notes from the piled up mail that it's been quite a while since Buffy visited home and posits that Buffy may not even arrive to save her... only for her to fly through the window as if on cue. The Slayers have a fight that travels through almost every room of the house while Joyce calls the police.
Giles finds the lights don't work at his apartment, but a lamp turns on and the three men with briefcases are there. One of them, Collins, says "Hello Rupert", causing Giles to realize that they are from the Watchers Council.
As the fight between Buffy and Faith gets more intense, the police arrive. Faith puts the gift from the Mayor on her hand and grabs Buffy's hand. A light flows through them and after a few seconds of the two looking at each other in confusion, Buffy punches Faith and knocks her out, leaving her to be arrested. Buffy then smashes the metal contraption from the Mayor and when Joyce asks Buffy if she's okay, she responds: "Five by five".
- This is the second episode that foreshadows the arrival of Buffy's sister, Dawn Summers. Both times, Faith was the one who mentioned her, the first time being in the Season 3 finale "Graduation Day, Part Two", when Faith said "Little Miss Muffet, counting down to 7-3-0." This time was less cryptic, Faith actually says: "little sis coming".
- Faith awakens from the coma she has been in since "Graduation Day, Part Two". She dreams of Buffy stabbing her with her own knife like she did in the fight that put her in this state.
- When Faith walks through downtown Sunnydale she admires knives on display in the storefront window of Meyer Sports and Tackle, the same shop she and Buffy broke into in "Bad Girls".
- Mid-fight, Faith mocks Buffy by saying her boyfriend Riley could use "a good roll in the sack", to which Buffy replies "Going for the boyfriend again? That's tired". This is a reference to "Enemies" where Faith attempted to seduce Angel. Faith will also sleep with Riley in the next episode, "Who Are You?".
- Adam (Only mentioned)
- Angel (Only mentioned)
- Riley Finn
- Forrest Gates
- Rupert Giles
- Jessica Harris (Only mentioned)
- Xander Harris
- Faith Lehane
- Tara Maclay
- Graham Miller
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Dawn Summers (Only mentioned)
- Joyce Summers
- Richard Wilkins (Only in visions)
- Faith Lehane's nurse
- Unidentified courier demon
- Unidentified orderly (This Year's Girl)
- Unidentified visitor (This Year's Girl)
Organizations and titles
- Graduation Day battle (Only mentioned)
Weapons and objects
- Richard Wilkins, killed by Buffy (only in visions).
- Unidentified demon, dissected by Adam.
- Buffy, killed by Faith (only in visions).
- Courier demon, killed by Faith.
Behind the scenes
- This line was cut, where Buffy explains what she would like to use to get into the Initiative:
- Buffy: "Explosives, tear gas, grappling hooks."
Pop culture references
- The title of the episode is a reference to the 1978 song by Elvis Costello of same name.
- When Buffy and Willow discuss what Buffy has told Riley about Faith, Buffy references The Patty Duke Show (1963–1966), which was about identical cousins that get into trouble when one arrives from out of town.
- Xander mentions the Orgazmorator — a ray gun that forces orgasm upon whomever it is fired — from the film Orgazmo (1997).
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errors
- Faith's tattoo on her upper arm is missing when she's in Joyce's bedroom.
- During the Buffy and Faith fight scene, as the pair fall down the stairs, a hand holding a camera can be clearly seen on the other side of the railing tracking their fall.
- Armenian: "Տարվա աղջիկ" (Girl of the Year)
- Czech: "Letošní holka" (This Year's Girl)
- Finnish: "Tämän vuoden tyttö" (This Year's Girl)
- French: "Une Revenante, Partie 1" (A Stranger, Part 1)
- German: "Böses Erwachen" (Evil Awakening)
- Hungarian: "Az Év lánya" (Daughter of the Year)
- Italian: "La Ragazza dell'Anno" (This Year's Girl)
- Japanese: "今年の女" (This Year's Woman)
- Polish: "Dziewczyna roku" (Girl of the Year)
- Portuguese (Brazil): "A Garota Desse Ano" (This Year's Girl)
- Romanian: "Fata anului" (Girl of the Year)
- Russian: "Девушка года" (Girl of the Year)
- Spanish (Latin American and Spain): "La Chica de Este Año" (This Year's Girl)
- The DVD commentaries for this episode were provided by Douglas Petrie.
Behind the scenes
|Buffy - "It's Faith. She's awake. She beat someone up, took her clothing, and disappeared out of the hospital. No one knows where she is."|
|Xander - "I'd say this qualifies for a "worse timing ever" award."|
|Willow - "What do we do?"|
|Giles - "Well, we have to find her."|
|Willow - "What about Adam?"|
|Xander - "I'd hate to see the pursuit of a homicidal lunatic get in the way of pursuing a homicidal lunatic."|
|Buffy - "There's no way around it. Faith is back and, whether I like it or not, she's my responsibility."|
|Willow - "Yeah, too bad. That was the funnest coma ever."|
|Buffy - "We have no idea where she is. We don't know what she's thinking, what she's feeling."|
|Xander - "Who she's doing."|
|Buffy - "She could be terrified. Maybe she doesn't even remember? Or, or maybe she does and, and she's sorry and she's alone, hiding somewhere?"|
|Giles - "Uh, perhaps there's some form of rehabilitation we just haven't thought about?"|
|Willow - "And if not, ass-kicking makes a solid Plan B."|
|Buffy - "I'm not gonna rule it out. First thing, we need to find her. Then we can take it from there."|
|Riley - "Who's Faith?"|
|Riley - "I've never seen anybody get under your skin this way before. What did she do to you exactly?"|
|Buffy - "It's a long story."|
|Riley - "I'm from Iowa. We drive four hours for a high school football game. Try me."|
|Xander - "Spike?"|
|Giles - "What are you doing here?"|
|Spike - "Me? Hey, I'm not the one out of place here."|
|Xander - "For your information, smarty, we've got a rogue Slayer on our hands. Real psycho-killer too."|
|Spike - "Sounds serious."|
|Giles - "It is. What do you know?"|
|Spike - "What do you need?"|
|Xander - "Her. Dark hair. Yay tall, name of Faith, criminally insane."|
|Giles - "Have you seen her?"|
|Spike - "Is this bird after you?"|
|Xander - "In a bad way, yeah."|
|Spike - "Tell you what I'll do then. I'll head out, find this girl, tell her exactly where you are and then watch as she kills you. Can't any one of your damn little Scooby club at least try to remember that I hate you all? Just because I can't do the damage myself doesn't stop me from aiming a loose cannon your way. And here I thought the evening be dull."|
|Xander - "Go ahead. You wouldn't even recognize her."|
|Spike - "Dark hair, this tall, name of Faith, criminally insane. Like this girl already."|
|Xander - "We're dumb."|
|Willow - "Well, technically, Faith isn't a monster. And as far as fighting, I'd be lucky to bruise her fist with my face."|
|Tara - "Oh."|
|Willow - "What?"|
|Tara - "Face-punching, I'm not so good with the whole.." [Imitates punches]|
|Willow - "Swimming?"|
|Tara - "Violence."|
|Willow - "Don't worry, we're sure to spot Faith first. She's like this cleavagy slut-bomb walking around "Ooh, check me out, I'm wicked-cool, I'm five-by-five.""|
|Tara - "Five-by-five? Five what by five what?"|
|Willow - "See, that's the thing. No one knows."|