Faith Lehane was the third of the last Chosen introduced into the Buffyverse in the episode "Faith, Hope, and Trick" which is a play on the 3 virtues of "Faith, Hope, and Love". The pattern of 3 continues as this episode is the third episode of the third season; so I have to ask---what's in a number? Ancient in it's connection to luck 3 is reveered in legend, myth, and folklore as symbolically the most positive, even though it's an odd number. Theologically it's representative of the Trinity= the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in classical, Celtic and Christian doctrine; even pre-Christian with the Trimurti in Hindu religion. Freedom and bravery is it's more common usage and to it's extreme it inflicts over-confidence, impatience, and restlessness everything this beloved character is made of, but use of 3 through-out the episode doesn't stop here with the title beat, sequence, slayer or season it's repeated through-out the episode.
The Scoobies, especially Xander, are riveted listening to Faith go on about past battles and after some Xander and Cordelia squabbling about thematics in Faith's stories Faith throws the spot-light back to Buffy and asks her what her toughest kill was. There is a beat when Buffy looks down and remembers the end of last year sticking a sword through Angel, she shakes it off, hurt, and instead of revealing the true nature of the fight with him starts in about "The Three", that were such an obscure reference for being all the way back in season 1; a group of the Master's vampires.
Buffy: Um, well, you know, (smiles weakly) they're all difficult, I guess.Faith waits for a story and takes a drink.
Buffy: Uh... (remembers) Oh! Oh, do you guys remember the Three?
They all look back inquisitively.
Buffy: That's right, you never met the Three. Well, there was three...
Oz: (interrupts) Something occurring. Uh, now, you both kill vamps, and
who could blame you, but, I'm, I'm wondering about your position on
Before Buffy can even refer back to them....Oz jumps in. We all have theories out of happenstance (Ie. I remember an incredibly well-written essay on the cheeseman in "Restless" and we know he was random), things through-out the series that although weren't intentional, possibly crazy, in our own minds make perfect sense to justify loops and jumps of the organic story-telling. THIS said using 3 ; Buffy is already forshadowing her toughest kill, being prophetic about the night on the roof in "Graduation Day Part 1 ". Faith is not only human, but her fellow slayer and to spite the obvious mixed emotions they have about each other she only went after her out of desperation to save Angel.
Continuing through the episode Buffy and Faith go out on patrol together, she eats over and meets Joyce. Buffy is taken aback by Faith's "devil may care" attitude and instead of being a "plucky fighter" as Giles suggests Buffy, feeling "single-white-femaled" insists that "that she's not playing with a full deck, she has almost no deck, she has a 3." Whether this is in relationship to her, Faith in relation to herself, or to the world in general the description of any three in a deck of cards is as follows from "Love and Destiny" by Sharon Jeffers:
"The stable expression of three is present when we are channeling our creative intelligence in some way, whether it's through the arts, business, a hobby, or community service. It doesn't matter how we channel it, it just matters that we do because when we are not channeling this energy in some way be it mental or physical it can turn into indecision, confusion, or insecurity, that leads the mind into utter chaos. Relationships governed by the number 3 can feel unstable and create questions and underlying feelings of uncertainty. It's important to recognize and honor heightened sensitivity that can occur in relationships governed by the number 3. These relationships need to be kept light, loving, and liberating for both parties. That opportunity is to lighten up, move the body, and engage in physical activities alone and together this is a wonderful playful energy that can encourage innocence and new exploration of self-expression."
Let's take this piece by piece....
Slaying is each of those...it's their art, business, hobby, AND community service, but that was the exact problem they didn't hang out, outside of this. Faith wasn't always around and prone to company, this is true, but after a few breaches of mistrust such as hiding Angel in "Revelations" it took time for Faith. Faith had attempted to open up to her, for her part it was obvious she seldom tried that with anyone. The one time in "Amends" that Buffy did invite Faith over for non-slayage, she initially had to be coaxed by her mother (until you realize Buffy's completely sincere when she says she's glad Faith came) and Faith herself nearly said no to the invitation knowing that Buffy was asked by Joyce. This is where we we stumble into chaos....the miscommunication and misrepresentation. Before they regarded each other as practically mortal enemies by the end of season three they did have light and liberating moments; all the potential in the world to create a budding friendship. Faith was a balm, a searing replicated force of power soaring across Sunnydale before that tragic night she accidentally killed Finch the Deputy Mayor.
In this episode upon first meeting it's true Buffy is initially threatened, which is telling in itself. Buffy just got back to her life and grabbling with identity, senior year, and a life, so she thinks, without Angel. Being not 'the', but THEE Chosen one, having already outlived a second slayer during her time the Id takes over. She's number 1 and she'll be damned if anyone thrusts a stake in her territory be it socially or otherwise. Without any familiarity, from the moment Faith stole the stake in the alley, to the skirmish they had the night they patrolled, Faith calls her "B"...B translates to 2. The number two is all about duality, feminity v.s. masculinity, her initial. It's her human side struggling with the 'soup' of just being Buffy. Faith, the third Slayer, the 3, was supposed to serve in reconciling these two distinct different parts of Buffy's life by sharing the load. During the first fight they have and Buffy calls her "F", F is 6, Faith's initial...also two 3s. Six is symbolically supposed to bring harmony and balance to everything, but unfortunately, as you can see repeated in the episode, Faith is only ever acknowledged seriously as "having a 3"---not being a person. Even when Buffy visits Faith's hotel room she walks into room....you guessed it.....3.
The cup over-runs in "Bad Girls" with their staunch difference in philosophy.
Faith: What are you doing, hiding in there?
Buffy: Looking for the amulet. Wasn't counting on the Special Guest
Stars. Six against one. (gestures at the coffin) Hence the hiding.
Faith: Well, it's six against two now, so come on.
Faith as a person, not as a slayer, is calling her out in regards to their different takes on Slayerdom. For all her foibles Faith was far more atune to the world at large and realized there's a point where ethics don't come into play and guilt can't contain you from doing what you're destined to do;what needs to be done. Faith also realized that which took Buffy years to.....the slayer and the person can only be seperated so far, they're one in the same and co-existence was essential. Surely Buffy as a slayer can understand aspects of killing, but these philosophies appeal to Faith even as a civilian and that IS scary. Buffy, using the coffin as a closet, is hiding from her darkness, herself, and when really read into latent attraction to Faith as a person not just as a slayer both in the platonic sense and romantisized.
Buffy:(smiles) Sorry. Okay, so we're down there, in the sewers, and
Faith (Xander's eye twitches) got three of them on her at once...
Xander: Hey! Whoa! Can we resume Buffy's 'Ode to Faith' later, like
when I'm not actively multiple-choicing?
It's important to note how often these are even used during her downfall in "Bad Girls" .....the beat of 3 is everywhere, in their dialogue to themselves and even responses to/from others: "Wait stop think"...."No. No. No"....."Rinse, Lather. Repeat." "Preperation. Preperation. Preperation" ..."Want. Take. Have"...the title itself is like a book-end closing the chapter on her being a hero, at least for the time. Willow is even wearing a 3 when Faith draws the heart on the window for Buffy, calling her out, because this episode Will is actually feeling like the odd man out. For one small moment, Faith maybe herself instead of just the other slayer....that was until everything went wrong.
More from "Bad Girls" : "The count of 3 isn't a plan, it's Sesame Street".................."6 against 2 not unlike 3 against 1" how much more of a code for their falling out can there be, right at the top of that episode via Buffy. and how much more telling can Faith's devotion be, despite everything, to be wearing a "62" across her chest in "Five By Five"? (This thanks to Jess Cormier for noticing a decade plus ago) Faith also awakes from coma in "This Years Girl" then turns herself into jail and isn't back in Sunnydale til "Dirty Girls" another combination of 3 with Girl(s) in the title that she appears. (Pre-cursed by Buffy in "Prophecy Girl" and posted in Angel's, where Buffy was suspected to be "Girl In Question" but that's an essay for another time ;)
The more esoteric interpretations of 3 besides freedom are that of the triangle. The triangle is connected elementally, each sign can be made with it adding or subtracting a line through the base or turning it upward or down. However the most notable symbol in modern history of it's use is LGBTQ pride, readopted and liberated from the shackles of it's origin reaching back to Nazi Germany in identifying homosexuals. With all of Faith's "zest" it's understatement to say she's an emotionally repressed young woman. We hear brazen description of her saving church-goers naked, wrestling alligators, and carnal exploits, but behind all these aggressive displays and unshakable hyper-sexuality is a little bi-girl lost in subtextual erasure; clearly torn up inside and at odds with the world at large.
Let's end at the beginning, as I'm a fan of symmetry, with the title itself, "Faith, Hope, and Trick"......Each person mentioned appears in a different order then of what they're listed, ..... First we have Scott Hope, unassuming and shy love interest, nodding to Buffy on his walk into school. Next Trick, the new bad in town who ends up being replaced by Faith as the Mayor's right hand, is in the teaser feeding on a drive-thru employee.Finally we have Faith popping up outside the Bronze after having faked being a damsel in distress. Faith appears last in this sequence where the word "love" would reside. What's interesting about that virtue you ask, line 13:13 of Corinthians, no less:
"There are in the end three things that last, faith, hope, and love and the greatest of these, is love."