Previously: Dawn spent a lot of time monologuing about how no one understands her and then broke several cardinal rules of the Summers residence, including inviting vampires in and getting kidnapped. Also, Giles bought a midlife crisis car.
Kirsti: I think I’m being punished by Whedon. First I get a Xander-centric episode, and then later today I get a bunch of insane dream sequences in Angel? What the hell did I do to deserve this?! SIGH.
Lorraine: Pfft. No sympathy from me. Get back to me if Whedon ever does an episode about anal lube.
We open in the Fruit Roll Up Basement, where Xander, Anya, Buffy and Riley are watching kung fu movies. Anya’s arm is in a sling on account of the head wound she incurred in the last episode turned out to be an arm injury instead? IDK. Xander tries to be a good host by offering food, before remembering that he can’t give them any because the cat peed on the hot plate. Unless they want spaghetti-os that have been heated on top of the dryer. Uh, pass. But points for trying, Xan. Doors slam upstairs and there’s some shouting and smashing of things. There’s serious awkwardness on account of Xander’s super shitty home life. Xander mentions that it’s time to look for somewhere that is else to live, and asks Buffy if Hell has one bedrooms.
Lor: And anyone who has ever been apartment hunting says, “yes. Yes it does.”
K: Too true.
There’s no reply from Buffy, though, because she’s being Slayer Book Learnin’ Gal, so Riley puts his hands on the pages, which would pretty much make me punch him in the face. But she puts the book aside and starts to judge the fighting in the kung fu movie as Riley massages her shoulders. Riley suggests that maybe she should try and separate her work life from her movie watching, and she points out that he’d be the same about army movies and points out that Willow gets the same about movies involving witches. Xander backs her up, mentioning that Willow gets judgey about witches using cauldrons.
With that, we cut to a big bubbling cauldron and a weird glowy demon in a cloak. He pulls a “flesh of the servant, willingly given” routine in exchange for the death of the Slayer, and screams as he shoves his hand into the cauldron. Roll credits.
After the credits, we head over to a modern apartment building with a “for rent” sign outside. Xander’s there to inspect an apartment, and apparently doing so now involves bringing your girlfriend, your two best friends, and one of their significant others along for the ride? Clearly Xander’s not thought about this, because a) WHY and b) he’s kind of dressed like a hobo.
Sweeney: Scoobies! Help your friend out here! Somebody should have indicated that he might want to clean up a little for this occasion. Still, it’s a good reminder that even though he looks like he’s in his thirties, he’s actually 19 and this bit of ignorance makes sense. (But come on, not even Riley knew better?)
K: Right? You’d think GILES would at least have said something, seeing as he’s Team Surrogate Parenting…
Anya opens the door to the apartment, and is all “I WANT IT GET IT PLEASE” and I don’t blame her because it’s kind of enormous. There’s a moment of awkwardness when the real estate agent walks in and assumes that Riley and his actually looking presentable are there to rent the apartment. Xander makes things worse by wiping his hand on his shirt before he shakes her hand. She looks grossed out, but proceeds to run through her spiel. Xander wanders over to check out the bedroom and finds Buffy and Riley having a little make out moment, because SERIOUSLY? WTF. I can’t even.
Lor: Maybe they had a little meeting in the car and discussed all the ways to help Xander not get the apartment. Yeah.
K: Only possible explanation. Back in the kitchen, the real estate agent hands Xander an application form and says that they’ll run a credit check and contact his references and mentions that he’ll need to fork out a rather large sum before moving in. He looks panicky, but Anya says he’ll take it. He drags her aside and they have a small domestic argument. In summary: Xander’s construction job is nearly over and he can’t really afford the apartment. Anya sulks and stomps off. The real estate agent looks judgey some more as Xander starts filling in the application.
Cut to New New Wiggins, which I’m going to just call The Magic Box because that’s its name and the other is too confusing. (L: SPOIL SPORT.) Giles is unpacking boxes and talking to himself. He picks up a box of miscellaneous charms, and turns around to find the glowy demon behind him. He screams a little and tries to find a suitable charm in the box. Instead, he comes out with a statue of a fertility goddess. The demon gets all “Haha, nice try, puny mortal,” so obviously Giles proceeds to beat the demon over the head with the statue.
Sweeney: Agreed! More Giles fight scenes, of any degree of seriousness.
K: But the demon knocks him down, points a big stick at Giles and says, “You are not the Slayer. You do not concern me.” He turns and billowy cloaks his way out the door.
Later, Giles is recounting the story to the Scoobies as they help him unpack. Buffy belittles his epic victory, and Giles replies, “Well, I’m not dead or unconscious, so I say bravo for me!” BEST. Xander’s up for a round of “we told you so” because the Magic Box isn’t even open yet and Giles is on track to be a statistic. Giles looks characteristically annoyed in response, and promptly locates the demon in the first book he picks up. Said demon is called Toth, and is apparently a fight-with-weapons-not-hands type. And Giles thinks he knows where Toth hangs out, on account of he was stinky.
Cut to the gang walking through the Sunnydale tip. (S: DUMP. Or Landfill.) (K: You ask the Australian to write blog posts, you get Australian English, yo.) Riley gets upset about the number of recyclables he can see, and as much I dislike Riley, it’s kind of great.
Lor: He’s been a lot less hateable this season so far, so it’s kind of a shame that he had all last season to dig himself in a deep hate hole.
K: Agreed. Some noises in a rubbish pile put the gang on guard, but it turns out to be Spike. He’s scavenging in the tip because of contrivance. Giles asks if Spike’s seen the demon, and Spike’s all “Oh, the one that’s right behind you?” They all spin around just as Toth points his big stick, which fires some kind of energy bolt thing. He fires and misses several times before eventually hitting Xander, who’s just pushed Buffy out of the way. He lands in a pile of rubbish, and Toth disappears.
Riley and Giles help Xander up and the gang head out of the tip. The camera pans back to the pile of rubbish to show a SECOND Xander lying there unconscious.
Lor: Two Xanders just for Kirsti!
K: You’re the worst.
After the Not Commercial Break, we’re at the tip the following morning. Xander wakes up in confusion and heads back to the Fruit Roll Up Basement. The door’s locked and there’s no answer to his knock. He tries to kick the door in and instead hurts his foot. He runs around the side of the house and looks in the basement window to see another version of himself in there getting dressed. He decides that he should find Buffy, but then trips on a paving stone and face plants. As a result, I’m gonna go ahead and call him Awkward!Xander. At a pay phone, Awkward!Xander calls Buffy but just as it connects he sees Well-Dressed!Xander walk past. He hangs up and follows him.
In Buffy’s bedroom, she tells Riley that whoever it was on the phone has hung up and good GOD, what is she wearing?? Brown tie dyed pants that look rather like she’d wet herself, and a stripey halter top made of that itchy looking metallic thread. And no bra, because OBVS. She packs weapons into a bag, and tells Riley not to worry before they eat each other’s faces again. Gagging noises come from off screen, and Dawn says this:
Lor: Also best is her rocking early-2000’s hairstyle which is kind of like little baby mushrooms on the crown of her head. You go girl.
K: People talk constantly about how bad fashion was in the 90s, but the early 2000s were really no improvement. She and Buffy bicker as a pissed off looking Joyce appears. She has a headache, and Buffy and Dawn immediately blame the other one. Joyce tells them to sort out their shit, and leaves. Buffy slams the door in Dawn’s face.
Sweeney: Dawny, come on now. You had to know how that was going to end.
K: Over at Spike’s TARDIS crypt, he’s used his tip scroungings to make a mannequin in a halter top with a blonde wig. We all know how this is going to end:
Spike turns and kicks the mannequin across the room before picking up its head. He strokes its cheek as he says “Oh, Slayer. One of these days…”
Lor: Where’s Riley to come threaten our totally harmless little Spike-y Wike-y now, eh?
K: Sudden thought: now that the Initiative has moved out of town, what the hell is Riley doing with his time? I don’t think the show ever addresses this, and now it’s going to bug me…
The dramatic music dramatics in the background as we head over to a construction site. Well-Dressed!Xander grabs his labelled hard hat and gets to work. The boss comes over and asks to see him in his office. Awkward!Xander lurks behind a porta-loo (really, Xan? You couldn’t find anywhere better to hide?) and says “Welcome to payback, mister evil-plan-face-stealer. You take my life, you get my being fired absolutely free.” Obviously, the door to the porta-loo opens and smacks Awkward!Xander in the face. And then he gets told off for not wearing his hard hat.
Sweeney: Struggles. I doubt, “The guy who stole my face has it!” would have helped.
K: Probably not. Awkward!Xander heads over to the boss’ office and sets up a really half-arsed table to let him see in the window. Inside, Well-Dressed!Xander is playing with a shiny metal thing and the reflection of it plays across the boss’ face. Instead of the firing that Awkward!Xander expected, the boss offers Well-Dressed!Xander a promotion on their new job site. Awkward!Xander falls off his table as Well-Dressed!Xander accepts the job. The boss tells W-D!X to take Anya out to celebrate, and W-D!X says he knows exactly how to do that.
Cut to the nice apartment from earlier. W-D!X signs a lease agreement as the real estate agent tells him that his credit rating checked out. He makes a joke about Star Trek, and she giggles as the reflection of the shiny metal thing plays over her face. Awkward!Xander listens in shock from outside the door as the real estate agent gives W-D!X her home number in case he has any sexy times emergencies. She leaves, causing Awkward!Xander to scurry around the corner, and inside the apartment, W-D!X calls Anya and tells her to meet him. He then leaves the apartment, and Awkward!Xander jumps on his back. W-D!X knocks him down, and stares at him in horror. He then punches Awkward!Xander in the nose and runs off as Awkward!Xander yells that he won’t let W-D!X get away with stealing his face before deciding that he needs help from Buffy. You know, that plan he came up with like 12 hours ago.
Lor: He’s awkward Xander for a reason.
K: Truth. We get a shot over the town, where it’s pissing with rain, before heading to Giles’ apartment. Awkward!Xander, now soaking wet, stares in the window in horror as W-D!X tells Buffy, Riley and Giles that something stole his face and can they please kill it now? Awkward!Xander hopes that Buffy will see through the illusion, but NOPE. She’s all “Let’s get Slaying, yo.” So Awkward!Xander heads over to the Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room (can we keep calling Willow and Tara’s room that, or is it too confusing??) and tells Willow that he can prove he’s really him. This includes doing the Snoopy Dance:
Sweeney: It’s so delightful! He looks so precious! Snoopy-dancing Xander might be my favorite Xander of all.
K: There’s not really been a lot of competition so far, so…yeah. Willow’s all “Cool story bro, but why are you telling me this? Who the hell else would you be?” He explains about the double, and says that it’s with the rest of the Scoobies, who have no idea about it. Back at New Wiggins, Giles is in favour of finding out what the double is while Riley and W-D!X are Team Kill First Ask Questions Never. Buffy suggests that maybe Toth is involved on account of the big stick o’ energy bolts, and Giles agrees that maybe shape shifting is involved. Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room: Xander wrings out his clothes while ranting about how the double is probably an evil robot made of evil robot parts. Willow: “Uh huh. OR it’s Toth.” New Wiggins: Buffy heads out to hunt, and W-D!X heads out to find Anya.
Back to the Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room. Awkward!Xander is pissed that W-D!X is living his life better than he does. Willow says she’ll look for a spell to unhypnotise Buffy. Awkward!Xander has some serious self worth issues, and Willow tries to make it better but fails. Then he realises that Anya might be in danger, and when Willow’s like “Really? It took you until now to realise that?” he says “Hey! Wait until you have an evil twin. See how you handle it!” and leaves. “I handled it fine,” Willow replies. Which I mention only because DOPPELGANGLAND!!! <3
Sweeney: And because it was also supremely adorable.
K: Also because of that, yes.
Awkward!Xander heads to Anya’s apartment where W-D!X’s message is conveniently cued up on the answering machine to the part about meeting him at the apartment. Awkward!Xander rummages through Anya’s chest of drawers. Cut to the new apartment where W-D!X has champagne and a picnic ready for Anya. He got the apartment for her, apparently, because he knew how much she wanted it. They kiss, and then Anya wants to know when the next life goal happens, because she’d like a car now please. I can’t help but think that teaching Anya to play The Game of Life in the last episode was a terrible mistake. He says there’s no hurry, and she’s all “Uh, YUH HUH,” and says that she’s dying. He looks horrified, and then she says that she “may have as few as fifty years left.” W-D!X astutely works out that Anya’s feeling her morality on account of the dislocated shoulder. He reassures her, and they kiss some more.
Suddenly, Awkward!Xander bursts in the door. He tells W-D!X to get away from Anya, and she looks between them in confusion. After a minute, she decides that W-D!X is the real one, and tells him to make the other one go away. Awkward!Xander looks hurt. Over at New Wiggins, Willow bursts in and informs the gang that their Xander was a demon replica while hers was the real one on account of he knew about the Snoopy Dance. Giles, reading a book in the background, says “Oh dear Lord,” and is ignored. Buffy’s all “Nuh uh, our Xander was the real one, yours was the demon,” and Giles says “I SAID OH DEAR LORD!!” in the background. Oh, Giles. Don’t ever change.
He tells them that the big stick was a device that can split a personality in two. Toth’s plan was to split Buffy into two – her Buffy parts in one body, and her Slayer parts in the other. Then he could kill the Buffy body, and the Slayer body would die as a result. Instead, he hit Xander. Back at the new apartment, Awkward!Xander is begging Anya to realise that he’s the real one and Well-Dressed!Xander is the demon on account of he’s clean and suave and says all the right things. When Well-Dressed!Xander tells Anya he’ll take care of it, Awkward!Xander pulls out a hand gun and points it at Well-Dressed!Xander. Dun dun duuuuuuuun.
After the Not Commercial Break, Anya jumps in between the two Xanders. W-D!X grabs Awkward!Xander’s arm, and they struggle over the gun. Meanwhile, Buffy and Riley are speeding over there in the midlife crisis BMW. Buffy asks Riley if he wishes she’d been split in two, if he wants Slayer Buffy as well as Normal Buffy. He tells her that there’s “no part of you I’m not in love with.” She half-smiles and then says that they need to hurry up before Xander kills himself accidentally.
Lor: Riley: I love you Buffy. Buffy: How about these traffic lights, am I right?
K: Not even remotely awkward. Nope. Not at all.
Back at the new apartment that I have yet to think of a name for (S: The Gift Suite, on account of it being a present from The Powers That Be Contriving, a gift that seems to be the primary reason this episode is happening) (K: YES), Awkward!Xander drops the gun and W-D!Xander grabs it. Buffy and Riley arrive and Buffy demands that W-D!X hand over the gun. Which, it turns out, is Anya’s. Riley’s shocked that Anya owns a gun because apparently he missed the memo that, despite being an ex-demon, Anya’s one giant American stereotype. Buffy separates the Xanders and informs them that no one is a demon and that they can’t kill each other. Awkward!Xander wants to know what the shiny metal thing is that W-D!X’s been using to mind control everyone. W-D!X’s all “Oh, you mean this nickel that’s been squished by a train that I found on the construction site? Cool, huh?!”
Just as everyone’s starting to come to terms with things, Toth bursts through the door. He explodes a chunk of carpet, which makes W-D!X irate about the bond he just paid. Buffy and Toth fight, and it culminates in her running him through with a sword. W-D!X kisses his bond goodbye, and Awkward!Xander says that he was just thinking the same thing, so clearly they’re both Xander.
Sweeney: Xander, you had to know that your new apartment wouldn’t be spared the demony mayhem that has been inflicted on every other Scooby residence. (The Bigger on the Inside Dorm Room fared the best thus far, but even that room saw some action.)
Lor: Demon action was definitely in the fine print of The Gift.
K: I just got horribly confused because “The Gift” is the name of the season 5 finale, and we’re not even close to that yet. But yes. Xander Harris: Demon Magnet is pretty much a constant.
At the Magic Box sometime later, the two Xanders are dressed identically again. Giles draws a pentagram on the floor while Anya, Buffy and Willow marvel at how the two Xanders are identical. Riley says that it’s fascinating from a psychological perspective, and wonders if anyone else wants to lock the Xanders in separate rooms and conduct experiments. Everyone turns to stare at him, because GOD RILEY, WE MADE A PACT TO NEVER TALK ABOUT SEASON 4 EVER AGAIN.
Anya, meanwhile, wants to know why they can’t wait until tomorrow to fix the Xanders because she’s missing out on a prime opportunity for a threesome. Giles is grossed out and begs that they hurry up and do the spell. The gang agree. Xander, meanwhile, is being a bad influence on himself and they’re now both pretty much the same person.
Willow says that they’re ready and that the spell’s pretty easy because their natural state is to be one person. The Xanders stand in the pentagram, and close their eyes as requested. “Let the spell be ended,” Willow says, and we’re back to only having one Xander again. Anya sulks.
An unspecified time later at the Fruit Roll Up Basement, Riley and Buffy are helping Xander carry boxes as Anya reads a magazine. Buffy heads outside as Xander asks Anya to please help carry stuff, because it’s part of being human or something. She reluctantly agrees, and heads outside with a box. Riley tells Xander that he can tell Anya really loves him, and Xander says that sometimes he envies Riley for having a girlfriend who lives in sanity land. And as much as we like to hate on Riley, his response makes me feel for him:
“Hey, I’m well aware of how lucky I am. Like, lottery lucky. Buffy’s like nobody else in the world. When I’m with her it’s like … it’s like I’m split in two. Half of me is just…on fire, going crazy if I’m not touching her. The other half…is so still and peaceful… just perfectly content. Just knows: this is the one. But she doesn’t love me.”
Xander stares at him in shock as Buffy walks back in and head over to help Riley pack some more as we fade to black.
I’m not a huge fan of this episode. Not because it’s Xander-centric, but because it’s a little too heavy handed. We pretty much get beaten over the head with Xander’s self-worth issues, and the ending is a big dose of “SEE XANDER, YOUR LIFE COULD SUCK MORE THAN IT DOES.” Although on the plus side, it lets us play the “Is that Nicholas or Kelly?” game, so…there’s that.
Next time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy meets a cute doctor, Riley has an encounter with some old friends, and Spike tries to get himself de-chip-ified again. Find out all the details in S05 E04 – Out of my Mind.