*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
The concept of the frenemy is as follows: a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) frenemy is Faith Lehane (Eliza Dushku). In the world of BVTS, every time a slayer dies, a new one is activated. After Kendra Young (Bianca Lawson) is killed, Faith is activated as the new slayer. She tries to become one of the Scooby gang, but she fits in like square peg fits in a round hole.
When it becomes obvious that Faith will never be part of Buffy’s inner circle, she becomes bitter and angry. When she accidentally kills a human who she thought was a vampire, Faith turns to the dark side. Aligning herself with the Mayor, she becomes his surrogate daughter and henchwoman. Buffy and Faith get into the fight of all fights at the end of the third season after Faith nearly kills Angel. Buffy wins the battle, leaving Faith alive, but in a coma.
When Faith wakes up from her coma, she takes revenge on Buffy by switching their bodies. While in Buffy’s body, she does some not so nice things and is taken into custody by the Watcher’s Council. After they revert to their own bodies, each woman has come to realize that they misunderstood each other. They may never be friends, but at least there is an understanding of the other woman.
Faith is then bound for Los Angeles, where she is hired by Wolfram & Hart to kill Angel. This second quest to kill Angel leads Faith on a journey to figure out if she has some chance of being a hero or if she will only ever be a villain. This jump from hero to villain and back to hero takes Faith back to Sunnydale. Fighting with the Scooby gang in the final battle, Faith proves herself to be a hero.
To sum it up: From a writing perspective, a frenemy is a great antagonist. He or she knows our hero/heroine. They especially know what makes the hero or heroine tick. As one of the major antagonists in the BVTS and Angel universe, Faith knows our heroes well. This allows her to get under their skins. But they also know her well, allowing them to reach her humanity. Like many of the major baddies on BVTS and Angel, she balances the villain with just enough humanity to catch the audience’s attention.
Which is the reason why BVTS and Angel fans still respect and adore this character.