"As long as there have been vampires, there has been the slayer. One girl in all the world with the strength to stand against the demons."Giles, The Harvest
In the beginning, the world belonged to the demons. It was an earthly hell, home to all manner of creatures, before - in time - the emergent race of humans drove the demons from their world, and closed the barriers between Earth and the remaining Hell Dimensions. The last demon to leave the Earth fed on the blood of a human, and in return gave that human some of his blood; thus the first vampire was born (The Harvest). Or so it is written in the annals of the Watchers' Council. Other sources indicate that the rise of the mortal animals was watched over by benevolent mages and loranites - whatever loranites may be - to prevent the demons destroying them, and that not all demons left. Rather, some remained on the Earth in hiding, while others bred with humans, and others still infected human hosts (Fray).
Well, wherever they came from, these last became the vampires, most insidious and endemic of all the demonic plagues to fall upon the Earth.
To fight this new scourge, a coalition of tribal elders - of Shadow Men; sorcerers - gathered to perform a great ritual; focusing their magic to bring forth the First Slayer (Fray, Tales of the Slayer - Prologue). The Slayer was a weapon, a power to fight the vampires and protect humanity, but it was not human. They took a girl, chained her to the Earth with iron and magic and bound into her a force of darkness (Shadowplay) a terrible, demonic energy that filled the girl's frame with unnatural strength and swiftness, as well as an instinct and a passion for the kill. Only one Slayer was created, the Shadow Men fearing to bring more than one such power into the world. As to why an apparently patriarchal group of sorcerers would place the power in a girl, the most likely explanation is that they wished to ensure that the Slayer was biddable and could easily be brought easily under their control.
The poor saps.
An alternative explanation might derive from the gender roles of the culture among which the Shadow Men lived, and into which the Slayer was brought forth. While the act of summoning itself might be a matter for men's magic, the receiving of that power could have been the preserve of the women. Such a divide would not be unusual in a tribal culture. Whatever the case, they thought nothing of the girl so violated: The destruction of her humanity was a necessary sacrifice for the preservation of the mortal domain of Earth (Shadowplay).
The First Slayer was a primal being (Restless), comprehending language, but lacking in sophistication and articulation, having to borrow a voice even to speak in dreams. She was an African - probably born before humanity had spread from their African cradle - and largely feral in nature, her power unchecked by reason, civilisation or name. She was a killing machine, pure and simple, and feared and despised by those whom she protected as much as by those whom she hunted (Tales of the Slayer - Prologue).
The descendants of the sorcerers who created the Slayer organised themselves into what would eventually be called the Watchers' Council and shouldered the burden of guiding the awesome force that they had created and set loose on the world. Down the years, they sought out those girls with the potential to become Slayers, a task that must have grown more difficult with every passing decade, as the human race spread across the earth. When they found such girls, they took them and trained them, and prepared them for the day when they would be called; when the Slayer's strength would come upon them, and they would emerge to combat the forces of darkness.
Thus the Slayer became more focused, more purposeful...and more controlled.
"I have no speech. No name. I exist in the action of death. The blood-cry. The penetrating wound. I am destruction. Absolute. Alone."
The Primitive, Restless
There is supposed to be only one Slayer at any time; never more, never less. When the Slayer dies, then and only then is a new Slayer called into her power. As it emerges, a near-death experience is sufficient to trigger the calling (Prophecy Girl, What's My Line), but it is likely that this represents the one-time only passing of the torch. Once Buffy's death had called Kendra, the line descended through Kendra to Faith, and Buffy's death would not call another Slayer, however final it might be this time. In short, Kendra was and Faith is now the Slayer, while Buffy is a statistical anomaly (but still pretty). This is Joss' stated position.
Those girls with the potential to become the Slayer can be identified by the signs ahead of their Calling (What's My Line), in which case they may be found and trained - and indoctrinated - by the Watchers. It may be, however that it is not possible to approach a particular girl, usually because she and her family simply do not believe in demons, in which case all the Council could do - if kidnapping is ruled out, and with a child young enough not to remember it might not be - would be watch and wait. Aside from their potential, there is little of note about these Slayers-in-waiting, and if the Watchers do not find her, then one such is likely to go through life without ever knowing what a vampire really is - let alone a Vampire Slayer - until and unless she is Called.
Potentials are marked out, even before their Calling. They often possess some manner of exceptional physical gift - unusual strength, agility or coordination, although nothing like that of a demon or Slayer - and a knack for combat that can manifest in time of stress (Potential). Many possess great confidence and inner strength as well, although some are as awkward as any other child.
Even as she is called, the Slayer begins to experience dreams of the lives of past Slayers (The Origin), and her nightmares often possess a prophetic quality (Welcome to the Hellmouth). These dreams are the Slayer's heritage; her legacy from Slayers past. In the absence of any other training, they would provide her only guide; the only clue to the nature and purpose of her powers. The dreams are also her mystical link to the Slayers that have gone before her, and also - although rarely - to the Slayers that exist alongside her (Graduation Day: Part 2, This Year's Girl).
"You're really strong. Like...Spiderman strong."
- Riley, A New Man
Once Called, the Slayer is possessed of - or possibly possessed by - all of the powers of the Slayer. These powers are intended to create a warrior to stand against the darkness and the tides of chaos and most notably she is granted tremendous physical prowess. Even an untrained Slayer possesses superhuman strength - greater than that of most vampires (Sanctuary) - and fortitude, incredible reflexes and superb physical co-ordination. She is physically superior to almost any human alive in all ways, and a match for most run-of-the-mill vampires and demons. Beyond these physical gifts, the Slayer possesses acute senses, and the ability to sense demons in human form. Her prophecy dreams can also provide her with vital clues and warnings of danger; if she can divine the meaning of their sometimes cryptic imagery.
The Slayer is not invincible however, and without training will be easy prey for more powerful demons; either older and more powerful vampires, such as Kakistos (Faith, Hope and Trick) or Icarus (Fray), a true demon warrior like Lagos (Revelations), or just a serious fighting breed like a Fyarl (A New Man) or M'Fashnik (Flooded) demon. Fortunately, the Watchers' Council is more than willing to provide that training; and a little Council dogma to go with it. This training mostly takes the form of callisthenics to hone the Slayer's already heightened physical abilities, weapons and unarmed combat training, and studies in demon lore so that the Slayer knows her enemies.
It seems to have been fairly rare for a Slayer to receive more mystical training, let alone for her to be encouraged to explore her deeper spiritual nature. From the results achieved, such seems to have enabled Buffy Summers to become one of the most potent Slayers in living memory, but given the darkness at the root of the Slayer's power, this apparent oversight seems understandable. While a better warrior is a worthy goal, the risk of a Slayer with anything but the most rigid self-possession falling into the feral, savage state of the Primitive would doubtless be deemed too great.
"And you're in charge. You're like, make the plan; execute the plan. No one giving you orders."
- Riley, A New Man
While for the most part the Slayer is a lone champion, she has another role, one that the Watchers' Council is slow to mention: She is a leader. In times of true crisis, when the Apocalypse looms larger and louder than usual, it is her duty and her destiny to rise from the shadows of the human world, and marshal the herd of humanity - or at least those among the masses who are willing to fight - into an army (Fray, Chosen).
Given the Primitive's isolated nature, her insistence that the Slayer must walk alone, it seems likely that this is a role into which the Slayer - the power that is the Slayer, as much as any individual bearer - has grown throughout her generations. It is also a role stifled by centuries of Council dominance, but one that in the end will out (Graduation Day: Part 2). Once realised the Slayer's authority shines through; undeniable and unstoppable (Checkpoint).
"We're talking about laws that have existed longer than civilisation."Wesley, Graduation Day
Seemingly based in Great Britain - probably because in the days of Empire this gave them a perfect position from which to survey the world, gather new lore, and watch for potential slayers - the Watchers' Council was an enigmatic body, whose actions were often sinister, however pure their intentions. The Council itself was the governing body of a loose-knit, international organisation of occult experts. The members of this organisation - or some of them at least - were paid a salary by the Council (Checkpoint) and in return they swore an oath to defend the world and its people from the forces of darkness at any cost (The Gift). While they were gatherers of lore, and when needs-be soldiers in the cause of order, the Watchers' primarily responsibility was to locate potential Slayers and preparing them to inherit their destiny.
Now they are dead, or most of them at least, but what follows is a discussion of the Watchers at the height of their power: Just before their fall.
Once the Slayer is called, the Council continues to support the Slayer, providing knowledge, training and focus to complement the Slayer's natural strength and co-ordination. Each Slayer is assigned an individual Watcher, who is given personal responsibility for her training, for providing her with support in the form of strategic planning and on-the-spot research, and for controlling her actions in the name of the Council. The individual assigned as Watcher is typically young or in early middle age. As well as suiting them to the rigours of fieldwork, they are presumably intended - in the best of all worlds - to serve as Watcher to the Slayer until her death, unless they should die first, or be removed from their duty by the Council. There is a handbook, a precise manual detailing the duties of the Watcher and the standard training procedure, although certainly in Buffy's case - and it would seem in Faith's also - the Watcher has wisely seen that the handbook would be of limited use (What's My Line).
The Watchers' Council - or at least its distant antecedent - was formed of the descendants of the sorcerers and elders who created the Slayer (Fray), with the aim of guiding - and controlling - the power they had unleashed. Down the centuries they accumulated a vast wealth of lore and learning to aid them in their task; unfortunately, they also gathered a massive body of doctrine and dogma. Their methods gradually became redundant, and as they passed into the realm of immutable tradition, they ceased to develop. The modern Watchers have become crippled by their rigid, sometimes reactionary adherence to tradition. As well as their refusal to alter their methods of dealing with the Slayer, at least until forced to do so (Checkpoint), they display the rigidity of their worldview in their refusal to accept the possibility that Angel might be worthy of consideration as something other than just another vampire (Graduation Day: Part 1, Sanctuary), where in fact he is a Champion of greater consequence than some Slayers.
It is inevitable in the evolution of an international organisation like the Council that knowledge will - despite the best efforts of the membership - be lost. Whether through a failure in the oral tradition of the earliest Watchers, or through errors in transcription or the loss of texts once the Watchers' lore was consigned to the written page, or through the actions of rival organisations and renegade members (Angel 5:22) it is clear that the Council has lost much knowledge of their own origins, and those of the Slayer. In all likelihood, the roots of many of the rules by which the Council attends to its business have been lost forever, and without an understanding of those roots, the modern Council must fear to change any of the rules, not knowing what might happen. Individual Watchers, especially when isolated from the main Council, seem to be less reticent to bend the rules where their particular charge is concerned. This would seem very much to be frowned upon by the Council however (Helpless), and orthodoxy is the preferred choice.
Watchers are generally recruited from particular bloodlines (Never Kill A Boy On the First Date, Fray), the oldest such lines ultimately descending from the members of the original convocation of Shadow Men who created the Slayer. The members of these families have a sacred duty - no less than the Slayer herself - and are expected to fulfil it, regardless of their other ambitions. It seems traditional that members of the Council be given a high-quality, formal education, while at the same time being taught the things that they will need in order to function as Watchers. The family pressure to follow their pre-assigned path must be tremendous, and it would seem from Giles's case (The Dark Age) that there is some understanding of this, and that even those who stray for a time will be accepted back. It is even possible that the Council considers youthful rebellion to be a useful period catharsis before an individual surrenders to his duty, and a few skeletons in the closet could serve either as a reminder of the reasons for a Watcher's duty, or simply as leverage for the Council.
In addition to providing the Slayer with her Watcher, the Council engages in researching, recording and archiving demonic and other paranormal activity, and the setting of the Slayer's overall strategy and priorities. While the majority of Watchers are largely research- and strategy-oriented, they must also - where necessary - deploy resources other than the Slayer to battle the forces of darkness. In addition to regular Watchers, the Council presumably has access to the Slayers-in-waiting who were trained and never called. These would possess formidable fighting skills, and the training necessary to battle demons, as well as a loyalty to the Council. Even if they have no-one to send of their own, it seems reasonable that the Council would have dealings - either covert or open - with other demon hunters, and could provide information or logistical support to such allies if needed, and if it suited the Council's agenda.
The Council also maintain a special operations unit (This Year's Girl, Who Are You?, Sanctuary) to take care of 'wet works' - currently a three man team consisting of Collins, Weatherby and Smith - trained in far more modern methods of combat than the Slayer. It would appear from their modus operandi however that these three are probably more often deployed to 'neutralise' human targets than demons. They may in fact be retained specifically against the event of a Slayer or Watcher going rogue. They are fanatics, devoted to the Council and what it stands for. Their training is clearly of a kind, and on a par with that of a military special forces unit. In fact, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the team would be formed of Watchers with an appropriate military background, possibly including a Sandhurst education.
The Council possesses substantial resources and influence, and have shown themselves able not only to place Watchers where needed, but to move their armed special ops team in and out of the US, have a green card granted or revoked, and transport a clinically insane vampire across State borders. Aside from the special operations unit and the individual Watchers, we know that the Council has an impressive reference collection, including a central library facility (Triangle), and a Board of Directors which includes several alchemists (Sanctuary).
"I study because it is required. The Slayer handbook insists on it."
Kendra, What's My Line
The standard practice of the Watchers' Council seems to be to locate potential Slayers before their calling, as early in their life as possible, to take them into the care of the Council and to train them for the time when they will bear the weight of the world on their shoulders. This is plainly a considerable undertaking, and must require an impressive infrastructure, as the Slayer may be called anywhere in the world. In cultures where knowledge of the supernatural, and of the Slayer, is fairly commonplace, it is not unusual for a Slayer-in-waiting to grow up without knowing her parents; only her Watcher (What's My Line: Part 2). In a more modern society however, persuading the Slayer - let alone a Slayer-in-waiting, with no dreams or powers to corroborate a Watcher's claims - that she is, or may be, the Chosen One, or persuading her parents to hand her over for training, is an altogether more complicated task. In many cases, the Slayer-in-Waiting might have to be left in place, and either trained in secret or not at all. There are also cases - such as that of Buffy Summers - where the Chosen One is not located at all, until after she has been Called.
The training is carried out according to the Slayer Handbook; a manual detailing skills to be taught, texts to be studied, and rules and routines to be followed by both the Watcher and the Slayer. The Slayer is - by the letter of the rules - isolated and kept away from all distractions, such as family, friends and pastimes. She is taught to fight, to use all of the tools and weapons in the Slayer arsenal, and to hone her perceptions to sense vampires even in their human face. There is also a substantial body of book learning; the Slayer studies the nature of her enemy, the lore of demons and vampires, and some of the history of the Slayers - although the Watchers' Diaries are apparently kept from her (Halloween). She has almost no contact with the world beyond her calling, and is forbidden any contact with men other than Watchers (What's My Line). She is also trained to work alone, although apparently not all Slayers have obeyed these constraints as strictly as others (The Puppet Show, Tales of the Slayers - Nicki Goes Down).
The Slayer is also expected to take orders from the Watcher, who is ultimately responsible to the Council for her conduct. In this more than anything else, it obviously helps to find and train the Slayer from an early age, so that she can be fully indoctrinated into the Council's hierarchy. Many of the rules impressed upon a 'good' Slayer seem to be aimed at suppressing the Slayer's passions and emotions, probably because - as has been seen - an angry Slayer, or a jealous Slayer, or a Slayer defending a loved one, not only risks making a fatal error in judgement, but is infinitely less likely to respond to the voice of patriarchal authority than an isolated, ultra-rational Slayer, steeped in Council dogma.
Quentin Travers: Cruciamentum is not easy...For Slayer or Watcher. But it's been done this way for a dozen centuries, whenever a Slayer turns eighteen. It's a time-honoured rite of passage.
Giles: It's a barbaric exercise in cruelty.
The Tento di Cruciamentum is a Slayer's right of passage, dating back to the eighth century; a trial which a Slayer is required to face at the time of her eighteenth birthday, assuming that she lives so long (Helpless). The Watcher injects the Slayer - without her knowledge - with an organic compound of muscle relaxants and sedatives, designed to not only remove her Slayer's strength and co-ordination, but to render her as helpless as a normal, untrained human. She is then directed to a contained environment, where the Council's agents have secured a dangerous vampire. The Slayer is required to defeat this formidable opponent using only her wits. If she survives, she is expected to emerge much the stronger for her experience.
Given the level of training and education invested in a Slayer by the time she reaches eighteen, this makes very little sense.
However, what might make sense would be if the Cruciamentum is not a test of the Slayer at all, but of the Watcher. As noted above, orthodoxy is a trait favoured in Watchers, but not necessarily maintained by those who must deal with the Slayer at close quarters and come to know her as a human being. While Buffy's test spiralled out of control with the escape of Kralik, it is quite possible that in an ideal situation, the controlled circumstances would allow the Council agents to be as certain as possible that - while there was an illusion of danger - the Slayer was at all times perfectly safe. The test then, would be to see if the Watcher will administer the injections and send the Slayer into the trap, or succumb to sentiment and affection, and go against the Council in his attempts to protect his charge.
Alternatively, the name of the test - Tento di Cruciamentum - means 'understanding of torment'. The ritual may then also be understood in terms of a trial by fire, not a test of resourcefulness. The Slayer is not expected to defeat a vampire whilst incapacitated, although doing so would be a testament to her ability; instead, she is simply placed in a position where she can understand the terror felt by those whom she protects. By putting the Slayer through the Cruciamentum, the Council would achieve three things: The Slayer would gain a victim's perspective, possibly staving off an arrogant sense of superiority such as Faith's; the Slayer would learn that she is mortal and vulnerable, and; the Slayer would learn that the Council has the power to effectively remove her strength. The result would - hopefully - be a more tractable and humble Slayer, with a greater empathy for the people she is sworn to defend.
While the Watchers created and controlled - as best they could - the Slayer, others took an interest in the line. Some groups of demons have tried to control Slayers down the ages (Fray), as have humans desiring to bend the Chosen One to political ends (Consequences, Tales of the Slayers). Vampires have made a career of killing Slayers (Fool for Love) and others have sought to turn them (Buffy vs. Dracula).
From the beginning there was a group that took a special care of the doings of the Slayer line. A group of powerful mystics from a more matriarchal tradition than the Shadow Men, they took part in the scouring of the world at the end of the reign of the demons, forging a weapon of tremendous power to be wielded by the Chosen One; a weapon used only once - to slay the last true demon on Earth - before being put away to wait for the time when a Chosen among the Chosen might use its virtue to change the fate of the Slayers forever.
"Death is your Gift."
The Primitive, Intervention
The First Slayer was a primal killing force; perhaps the purest embodiment of the dark power summoned to create the Slayer. Her commitment was absolute, her purpose clear and her path straight. Her existence was entirely defined by violence (Restless) and she had little or no interaction with those she protected (Tales of the Slayer - Prologue).
"I'm not alone."
The differences between Buffy and The Primitive are obvious, and many stem from the miles and eons that lie between their human births. More than this, however, there is a clear difference in the manner in which the Slayer's power works through them. While her people have language and culture, The Primitive does not partake of them (Tales of the Slayer - Prologue). She not only rejects friendship and human contact, she could not have them if she wanted to. The power coursing through her makes The Primitive a creature of unadulterated brutality, with none of the leadership qualities displayed by later Slayers.
This marked difference in the natures of The Primitive and of Buffy suggest that over time the power of the Slayer has matured, from its roots as an impulsive and purely violent, primal force. The power now within Buffy has its roots in the same darkness as that within the First Slayer, but it has grown, and gained in sophistication; from warrior, to soldier, to General. Millennia after her creation, the Slayer recognises the strength of skilled and loyal companions in a way that even the Watchers' Council does not. The Scooby Gang are not only a vital part of Buffy Summers, they are a vital part of the Slayer, and moreover one which the Council would deny.
If - as The Primitive claims - the Slayer's Gift is Death, then this too has changed since her time. For The Primitive, her Gift was the death that she brought; for Buffy, the death she could give. For Buffy, being the Slayer is ultimately about life: the saving, the sacrifice, and simply the living of it.
"I'm Buffy. The Vampire Slayer. And you are...?"
Buffy Summers is the Slayer who breaks almost all of the rules. Located by the Council only after she had been called, her first Watcher, Merrick, did what he could to transform a shallow, wilfully-underachieving, suburban LA cheerleader into the champion of the forces of good. He almost succeeded. While the powerful vampire, Lothos, was defeated, and his forces destroyed, Merrick himself was killed. Buffy, considering her duty fulfilled, moved to Sunnydale with her mother, and tried to forget about vampires (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Origin).
In Sunnydale, Buffy was swiftly disillusioned as to her retired status. Encountering her new Watcher, Rupert Giles, she also found herself facing an undead army, commanded by ancient and powerful Master (Welcome to the Hellmouth/The Harvest). Despite the pressures of Slaying however, Buffy was able to make - and keep - friends, and continue attending high school. She remained resistant to Mr Giles's attempts to mould her into a more traditional Slayer, but despite the friction this created, the two formed a closer bond than most Slayer-Watcher pairings, with Giles filling the role of her absent father, and coming to care for his charge like a daughter; a fact which ultimately saw him fired by the Council (Helpless). Moreover, her school friends - Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris - proved an unexpected benefit to the unconventional Slayer, willingly lending their skills and support in time of need.
Buffy was later forced to confront the true nature of her power, following a brush with the spirit of the first Slayer (Primeval), and a run-in with the legendary Count Dracula (Buffy vs. Dracula). In coming to better understand what the Slayer actually is, she was able to attain a state of physical and psychic fitness seemingly unparalleled by any Slayer in recorded history, unlocking a level of power beyond her previous imagination. This was not a lone achievement, but was reached only with the aid of her Watcher, and of her friends and family, who also served to ground her in the world and give her a reason to keep fighting.
Buffy was also given the vital task of defending the Key, when it was sent to her in the form of a younger sister.
Later, Buffy completed the path she had set for herself when she not only cast aside the rules and strictures of the Council, but changed forever the nature of the Slayer's power. No longer a singular gift, it became shared between an army of Chosen Ones.
"They call me Kendra. I have no last name, sir."
Kendra, What's My Line: Part 2
Called when Buffy was drowned by The Master, Kendra was - in direct opposition to her unconventional predecessor - the poster child for Council training. Her potential was detected more-or-less at birth, and for as long as she could remember, Kendra was raised and trained by her Watcher, Sam Zabuto. She had no last name, and never even knew her parents, having been taken from them - to the best of anyone's knowledge, with their blessing - as an infant. She had no association with anyone but her Watcher, and was forbidden to so much as speak to boys. Her only companion - aside from Mr Zabuto - was her 'lucky stake', Mr Pointy (Becoming: Part 1).
Every moment of Kendra's short life was monitored and controlled, with the intention of forging her into the perfect Slayer, yet she never approached the level that Buffy attained in her later work with Giles. In the end the technical brilliance of her fighting style was unable to overcome Drusilla's power, and the mad, vampire seeress killed her.
"You feel it right? How the anger gives you fire? A Slayer needs that."
Buffy, What's My line: Part 2
One of the most notable gaps in Buffy's Slayer powers seems to have been the ability to sense demons, even in their human face or through a crowd. While she did mistake Buffy for a vampire - based on seeing her kiss a vampire - Kendra did seem to possess this ability, and furthermore was able to sense the taint of demonic association on Willy the Snitch (What's My Line). Obviously, such a power is useful to a Slayer, and its absence in Buffy may seem therefore like a weakness, but it is not necessarily so. In fact the ability can be seen as very much a mixed blessing, for while it gives the Slayer a heads-up, it also increases the black and white contrast of her world.
If you can just know that someone is a vampire, and you are told that all vampires are bad, then you will be unlikely to question that assumption. Buffy on the other hand, bereft of such preternatural certainty, has to judge people - and things - by their actions, and is therefore able to accept allies, and even lovers, that she would otherwise have killed out of hand. Some might argue that to do so would have saved her the pain of dealing with Angel's fall - and saved the lives of those Angelus killed in Sunnydale - but consider this: Angel follows Buffy to the Bronze; she senses vampire and slays him. Later that evening, having no cross to protect her, she is killed by The Master's high priest, Luke, who completes the ritual of The Harvest. The Master rises, and wackiness ensues.
The other main difference between Buffy and Kendra is the fact that Buffy has friends. Kendra sees this as a weakness, as does the Primitive, although for different reasons. Kendra sees friends and other attachments as liabilities principally because this is what she was taught, but in counterpoint we can again consider an example scenario. When Cordelia wishes that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale (The Wish), it not only allows The Master to take control of Sunnydale after rising at the Harvest, but also produces a very different Buffy. This Slayer works alone, and plays by the rules. Even though - against her better judgement - she allows Angel to help her, she does not fight with him, and as a result, they are both killed. Because she has had no friends, no connections, Buffy's only priority - her only thought - is to kill as many vampires as she can; the lives of the prisoners and even her own life, are expendable. Had she been more like 'our' Buffy, she might have worked with Angel to destroy Xander, and they could have faced The Master together, and stood a chance. Or, they might have got the prisoners out, fallen back with the White Hats and returned in force, with a better plan.
In short, so many of the things which tradition and dogma suggest would be Buffy's weaknesses as a Slayer, are in fact her strengths.
"Isn't it crazy how slayin' just makes you all hungry and horny?"
Faith, Faith, Hope and Trick
While the two are very different, Buffy is not quite the anti-Kendra; that role belongs to Faith.
Called at Kendra's death - and perhaps the next Slayer called is always very different from the last? - if Buffy broke most of the rules, Faith broke the rest. to be fair, she had no close friends, and rarely actually talked to boys (The Zeppo), but she allowed her emotions to rule her, bucked the Watcher's authority as much out of spite as because she thought he might be wrong, and eventually allied herself with the Mayor of Sunnydale in his quest for Ascension (Consequences). Even before this however, Faith displayed her instability, allowing anger to distract her in combat, revelling in her physical superiority, and assuming a similar moral supremacy over the mass of humanity (Bad Girls).
Faith also revelled in her sexuality, and while this in itself is not a bad thing, the way in which she did so was particularly abusive. Perhaps as an adolescent, sex had been her only weapon, or perhaps it was just another reason for the people who had power over her to abuse her. Either way, once she was Called, Faith had the power; the ability to grant or deny access to her body. So long as others wanted her - and her looks, coupled with her newfound confidence more or less guaranteed it - this gave her the ability to control them.
Ultimately, Faith was brought down by Buffy, but not before she had come close to tempting the older Slayer into following her dark, self-centred lead (Bad Girls). After a long spell in a coma, she revived and tried to steal Buffy's body and life, but when thwarted, she sought out Angel in LA, first trying to make him kill her, then accepting the long struggle for redemption.
For two-and-a-half years Faith languished in prison, before being persuaded to break out and assist in the retrieval of Angel's soul and the defeat of the Beast. She had grown a great deal but was still the second Slayer, not least now in her own mind.
"Plus, you'll definitely ace her on the psych tests. Just don't mark the box that says: 'I sometimes like to kill people.'"
The basic difference between Buffy and Faith is indeed that Faith is unstable, a fact that can ultimately be traced to the confluence of her upbringing and her Calling. Presumably, Faith was not trained prior to her Calling, or at least not for long, as she was raised for much of her childhood by a drunken, neglectful mother (Enemies). She was never the special one, for anyone, until suddenly she was the Chosen One: She was the Slayer. Going from neglected child to saviour of the world overnight must have been a headrush, and left Faith with an inflated sense of her own power and importance. Similarly, from being the weak and downtrodden one to possessing Slayer strength could only have exacerbated this unbalancing effect. While her Watcher - never named - may have managed to curb some of her arrogance, her influence ended with her brutal murder by Kakistos (Faith, Hope and Trick). Faith's arrogance took a blow, and to try and reassert her confidence, she became more and more brutal and unrestrained in combat, crushing the cloven-hoofed vampire over and over in her mind.
Her ego took another hit when she was duped by the renegade Watcher, Gwendolyn Post (Revelations), and it was left to Buffy to save the day. From the saviour of the world, Faith was now just one of two, and - as was made abundantly clear by proximity to Buffy's friends - she was viewed as very much the second string. She became more and more competitive, and tried to tarnish the whiter-than-white image which seemed to make Buffy the favourite. In the end, her determination to reject any notion of restraint led to the death of a human being (Bad Girls). Deputy to the evil mayor, and possible cohort of Balthazar he may have been, but Allen was still a human, and moreover a defenceless one, and his death could not be brushed aside (especially in the absence of any convenient savage hyenas or imploding arcane energies to consume the body).
While the death haunted Buffy, Faith revelled once more in the feeling of power that came with exercising this ultimate sanction. When the Watchers tried to take her away, she felt vindicated in turning from them, and allied herself with someone who might appreciate her - who would not only give her the chance to kill again, but would encourage and congratulate her - instead of asking her why she couldn't be more like Buffy (Enemies).
Faith's manipulative use of sex and attraction also led her to see all relationships in highly sexualised terms (a problem she shares with the 'Shipper community). Her attempt to corrupt Buffy was a seduction, and she plainly had difficulty understanding Buffy's non-sexual relationship with Xander. Consequently, to Faith the world was a complex web of sexual power politics, in which she always had to possess the power. When disempowered, she was prone to panic (Faith, Hope and Trick), and with those - such as Willow - who flatly refused to respect her power she became deadly (Choices, Who Am I?). Moreover, she could never have trusted herself to others as Buffy does; could never let her fate lie in another's hands. She could never have thrown herself into the Hellmouth on a zip line (Doomed), or submitted to the conjoining spell (Primeval), nor could she have ever led as Buffy did (Graduation Day: Part 2).
The example of Faith paints an object lesson for the future of the Slayers.
"What's a vampire?"
Melaka Fray, Fray
Born some two centuries after the last Slayer before her banished all magic from the world, professional thief Melaka Fray's Calling was brought about by the return of vampires to the world. The surviving members of the Watcher's Council were eager to restore the cycle, although other forces sought to guide her to different ends.
Possessed of a Slayer's strength and agility, Melaka Fray did not have the dreams or the ability to sense denizens of the demon world. She was cut off from her links to the Slayer's heritage by the extraordinary circumstance of her birth: She had a twin. This unprecedented event resulted in Harth Fray, Melaka's twin brother, inheriting the dreams, the knowledge of the past Slayers, such that when a vampire tried to kill him, he knew how to ensure his return from death - in body and mind, if not in soul - and became almost a messiah figure for the 'lurks', who were themselves ignorant of their true nature.
Despite the lack of guiding dreams, Mel became as true a Slayer as any, accepting not only the role of the warrior, but the mantle of leadership as well. In recognition of this - and to give her a sense of her heritage - her trainer, Urkkon, gave to her an ancient weapon, forged for the Slayer to be both sword and sceptre; The Scythe. How a demon in the employ of demons came into possession of the Scythe is unknown.