snark squad | where nostalgia comes to die

Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06 E16 – Heart Feelings

and on October 31, 2013 · 150 comments in Buffy the Vampire Slayer,Season 6,TV

Previously: Riley came to town and Buffy finally broke it off with Spike.

Hells Bells

Sweeney: The episode begins with Willow telling Buffy how hideous something looks while lightning crackles. It’s just their bridesmaids dresses that they’re discussing. Willow is actually Best Man, though, which earns her some bonus terrible sleeve. Actually, it’s sort of a nice analogy for the way bridesmaids dresses work — your stupid dress highlights the special snowflake that is the bride. It figures, then, that the show’s eponymous character would have the less stupid of the two dresses. Willow’s thinking the traditional blood larva and burlap sounds less bad. No, Willow, it definitely doesn’t.

Kirsti: Oh God, the dresses. They’re SO AWFUL. Also, I’ve always thought that the tradition was “blood lava” because in non-US English, larva and lava are pronounced the same. I can’t decide if it makes less sense or more sense now. 

Sweeney: They move on to chat about all the wedding stress. Anya brought lots of demons that are funny looking and Xander’s family is a bunch of miserable drunks. Anya enters in a white robe and looks at the girls and gasps. She says that they look so beautiful and hug them, adding that this is the happiest day of their whole life.

At Xander’s Gift Apartment, tons of guests are there and making things miserable. I don’t even understand this. MAKE YOUR GUESTS STAY IN A DAMN HOTEL. This is bananas. (L: And if they can’t afford to come and stay at an apartment? BEST. STAY HOME SEE YA LATER.) Cousin Carol wants to hit on one of the demons and also she’s wearing Xander’s cuff links as earrings. Xander loudly proclaims that now nothing on Earth can stop this wedding because clearly he’s fucking new in Sunnydale. With that we cut to a random man walking the rainy streets of Sunnydale. It’s actually not at all menacing except that Xander’s line + editing = this is a thing that will try to stop this wedding. Wolf howl.

After the credits, Buffy is wrangling Xander into his cummerbund. (Where’s Best Man Willow?) His recent stress eating is catching up with him, but Buffy manages to get it on him so the whole world won’t see the place where his shirt meets his pants. The day is saved! Buffy tears up because she’s so happy for them and how hopeful Xander/Anya make her see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Buffy tries to tie his bow tie and gets flustered and asks the big question I just asked. Xander says Willow has something important to do.

K: Happy crying – humany wumany. Another sign that Buffy’s heading towards being herself again. Not only is she Having All The Emotions, but she’s having them for people that aren’t her. Also, I was thrilled when she couldn’t tie a bow tie, because I NEVER UNDERSTAND WHERE ALL FICTIONAL CHARACTERS LEARN TO DO THAT. 

Sweeney: That something is helping Tara as she gets Anya into her dress. While they do this, Anya is practicing her vows and asking them for advice. The vows open with Anya silliness about not obeying because that’s misogynistic, but go on to her sweetly asking him to take care of her heart. Willow and Tara make eyes at each other.


 

Once Anya is all buttoned in, they tell her to look at herself and Anya freaks out about how much she wants to see Xander and hates all these stupid traditions like not seeing him. She goes into excited puppy mode, flailing about how excited she is that she gets to be with her best friend forever. I want to awkward hug her so hard right now.

K: ME TOO. I love her for this, because this is the way things are supposed to be.

Lor: I’m cringing. She looks so damn excited. THIS CAN’T BE GOOD.

Sweeney: In the hall lobby we see lots of awkwardness between Dawn and the arriving guests. More of the same – Xander’s family is unpleasant and Anya’s guests are all demons, who seem really polite. Halfrek tells Dawnie to call her Hallie because they’re practically family now and Dawn’s sarcastic, “Hmm, great” is totes the best thing. Dawn also greets Spike who’s really showy with the punky girl he’s brought as his date. He doesn’t actually introduce her, just repeatedly points out that she’s his date. Dawn promptly excuses herself.

K: But seriously, why would Spike even be invited to the wedding?? Xander hates him with a fiery passion, no matter how many times he may have fought side by side with him, and I can’t see Anya going “You know, the socially acceptable thing to do would be to invite Spike, and to give him a +1 so that he’s not alone even though it’ll cost us an extra $100.” Course, it’s possible American wedding customs are different. In Australia, you generally don’t get a plus one unless you’ve been dating someone for six months and the bride and groom have met them multiple times…

Lor: We’ve seen that Spike is not above inviting himself. He started with a small party and perhaps graduated to a wedding! Good party crashing, bro.

Sweeney: Elsewhere, Clem is making nice with the humans because he’s adorable while Xander’s dad drowns himself in booze. Inside, Xander is ready to go and Buffy hugs him and says he’s one of the good ones. As they go to get him ready, with instructions to keep his parents away from the bar (too late), and Dawn appears to inform Buffy that Spike has arrived with “a total skank.” Xander excuses himself to go make with the meet and greet.

He is instantly accosted by ALL THE GUESTS because these people are all terrible. His mom complains about where the usher seated them and someone pinches his cheeks and then Dawn rushes up to say that one of Anya’s presents got loose. He’s dragged away from the many voices by an older man telling him that he can’t get married that day. This old man insists that he’s Xander from the future and he’s returned to warn Xander. He’s interrupted briefly by his drunk father making a toast. Future!Xander says he can prove who he is and pulls out a magic glowy orb which…doesn’t prove anything, but the two walk off.

The Xanders miss the tail end of his father’s awful speech in which he humiliates his mother. Clem and another demon are tired of listening to Shitbag Harris (hey-o crossover time!) and it looks like a fight is about to start. Buffy intervenes just in time, pulling Shitbag Harris away for a cup of coffee as he makes a lot of gross passes at her.

K: SHITBAG HARRIS IS THE ACTUAL FUCKING WORST. I manage to constantly forget about him because he’s only on screen in this episode, but holy crap. Hank Summers may be a shitty father, but at least he had the presence of mind to leave town forever and let Giles take over. 

Sweeney: The Xanders go into a room so that Present!Xander can investigate Future!Xander’s glowy ball. He looks into it and is promptly sucked into it, blasting him into this hypothetical future. Xander is sitting in his chair shouting for Anya. His two kids appear and they’re pretty darn cute, even the daughter with the demon ears. Anya’s getting ready for work at her job she apparently hates because Xander doesn’t actually work now because his back is shot. Buffy’s also apparently dead at this point in this hypothetical future, and Anya blames Xander’s bad back on fighting alongside Buffy. Flash forward to them eating dinner in a restaurant with their now teenaged children. Xander’s drunk and tells the daughter to talk to her mother about the ear thing, to which she responds that she hates them both and knows Xander’s not her dad before storming out. Forward again and the couple is at home fighting about their failed (sexless) marriage. Anya says he wouldn’t come near her after Buffy died and as she shouts about hating herself for 30 years, he grabs a pan to throw at her.

K: NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

Lor: Maybe he’ll feel bad about it later! JUST KIDDING. NOPE.

Sweeney: Before he sees how that giant bucket of NOPE ends, he’s blasted back to the present. Future Xander says that he doesn’t have much time, but that the only way Xander can stop this is by not marrying Anya. “Sometimes two people, all they bring each other…is pain.

Aaaand with that we cut to Buffy spotting Spike standing alone so they chat. Spike asks if she’s met his friend. Buffy says it is making her a little bit jealous, though it doesn’t change anything. Spike says he’s sorry and then corrects himself with, “Well, GOOD.” Spike volunteers to just leave. He adds that it’s good to see her be happy because he doesn’t see it a lot and she’s glowing. Buffy jokes that it’s because her dress is radioactive. He asks Buffy to confirm that it does hurt before grabbing his date and leaving.

K: I actually don’t hate this scene. It’s almost a return to the way things were between them at the start of the season or in season 5.

Sweeney: Willow finds Xander pacing in the kitchen. She squees a little about seeing her bestie in his tux, joking that it’s a good thing she realized she’s gay, given their track record with being alone in formal wear. They hug and she asks if he’s ready for the long walk, but he says he needs a little more time to work on his vows. Willow says they can’t start the wedding without him and walks off, showing us Xander’s guilty face. YES, XANDER, YOU SHOULD FEEL LIKE UTTER SHIT.

 

K: He totally should, but it still gives me feels. (High fives the Xander Defence Front)

Sweeney: Elsewhere, Anya is being adorable, getting on and off her little bridal pedestal doing some more enthusiastic pacing as she finalizes her vows. Tara vetoes use of the words “sex poodle” in her vows. Anya flails when she hears the music start. Buffy pokes her head in the door to ask if Anya’s ready to go, and is immediately pulled back into the hall where Willow tells Buffy that Xander has gone missing.

After a Not Commercial Break, they agree that Willow’s going to go track him down and Buffy is going to stall. She goes into the room and tells Anya that there’s a slight delay and proves to be a terrible liar when her excuse is that the half-minister-half-doctor has to perform an Emergency C Section. She’s lucky Anya’s so literal (and jittery), so she accepts this. Buffy runs out.

Once Buffy goes, Anya turns around, takes a deep breath and says she’s going to go through her vows with Tara for the last time:



My heart just breaks. Her vows are so lovely and wonderful and the tinkly orchestra does its job so perfectly because holy shit does this give me feels.

K: BRB, UGLY CRYING.

Lor: Having her say her vows while Xander walks through the rain could’ve been a little obvious, but credit to everyone involved: it worked for me.

Sweeney: Inside the hall, Buffy goes inside and the music starts as she walks down the aisle and she insists that it’s not what they’re thinking. Cousin Carol tears up because WEDDING. Right there with you, Carol.

Inside, Anya is pacing around freaking about the doctor/minister. It was very rude of him and that baby’s mother. At the bar, Shitbag Harris is getting more drinks and delivering some misogynistic babble about how “that Anya” made them pay for the whole thing and she’s now going to louse it up. Halfrek is annoyed when the vengeance-demon-making demon (D’Hoffryn) is worried about Anya.

Outside, Dawn is flirting with a cute demon guy with horns, talking about whose family is the most messed up. “I was briefly raised by a robot version of my dead sister,” is kind of a high card, though. (K: Not to mention the “I used to be a ball of green energy” card.) He says something about how lame everybody is so that we can cut to Buffy playing charades with the guests to stall.


Lor: That dress is horrible but radioactive is a good color on Buffy. She is glowing.

Sweeney: Anya’s done waiting. Tara tries to stop her, but she heads out into the hall to say that if the minister isn’t there, then they’ll have to get married without one. Dawn confesses to the demon guy that it’s a secret, but the hold up is that Xander took off. Unfortunately, she says this as she’s re-entering the hall just as Anya is walking by. Anya asks what’s going on and Demon Guy excuses himself as Anya freaks out.

She says, “What do you mean Xander’s missing?” loud enough for all the guests to hear. Shitbag Harris starts to tell another stupid story, which is interrupted by Clem’s friend who almost fought him earlier. Shitbag Harris says that drinking is the only way he can deal with the pain of looking at his ugly face. Seconds later, the party turns into a full out brawl. Willow and Tara stand off to the side checking on one another.

Anya’s freaking out asking if anyone has seen Xander. Cousin Carol points out Future!Xander, and says she saw Xander talking to that old man earlier. Anya goes to him and asks what he said to Xander to make him leave. Future!Xander says it’s already done, adding that Anya is just as vindictive as ever. He says that Xander left because of her and when she says she didn’t do anything, he adds, “What about this?” and morphs into a very tall scaly demon.

After a Not Commercial Break, the brawl continues. Demon Wedding Crasher, as he shall now be known, says that he has waited a long time for this. She was a victim of her vengeance demon days – he keeps calling her Anyanka for anyone who is a little slow. “Chicago, south side, 1914.” He says some hussy summoned her and then he woke up looking like that, getting tortured in a demon dimension. Anya cry-whispers that she punished him. He hits her and Buffy sees from across the room.

Demon Wedding Crasher goes on to say that it was so easy to ruin her life — all it took was a few phony visions of Xander’s nightmare. Anya cries and DWC says he loves to see her cry.

K: OH GOD, SO MANY FEELS.

Sweeney: Just as his attack gets more serious, Buffy appears. Xander gets there just in time to serve as a distraction so DWC lets Anya go and he and Buffy can get to fighting.

While they fight, Anya assures Xander that the visions weren’t real and it’s all going to be OK now. Xander still seems hesitant. Buffy strangles DWC and Xander grabs something heavy to crush his skull with, before proclaiming it dead. The wedding guests stop fighting and cheer as the rest of the bridal party rushes up.

The peace is short-lived. Shitbag Harris manages to foul it up again, calling Anya’s guests freaks. Anya shouts for them to sit down and STFU so she can have her damn wedding. In the lobby, Anya and Xander are talking and she says it’s all over now, because the guy is dead and it was just smoke and mirrors. They’re ready to get married now. Xander, however, is not. He knows it wasn’t real, but it could be. Xander goes on to say that it wasn’t her that he was hating and he’s afraid that they went too fast. As Anya is trying to tell him to calm down and start over, he sees his parents fighting, adding that if this is a mistake it’s forever and he doesn’t want to hurt her that way. He drops her hands as he apologizes a couple times.

Anya cries, but collects herself enough to back inside and tell the guests that the wedding is off and asshole Xander can’t even stick around for that because fuck him. The music plays, thinking that the wedding is starting, but the guests quickly realize that Anya’s face reads more “my life is over” than “blushing bride.”

K: Someone needs to have a serious talk to those musicians, because JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, PEOPLE. 

Sweeney: That night, Buffy, Willow, and Dawn are talking about it at Chez Summers. Fitting that Buffy would be the one to point out that Anya wants to be alone right now. Dawn says she thought they were happy and Buffy says that they were, repeating that they were her light at the end of the tunnel. Willow says she feels like she should hate Xander but she can’t. Don’t worry, girl, I can. Dawn wonders where he is.

Segue to him arriving at a shitty motel somewhere, being shown to his room. Anya, meanwhile, is still in her wedding dress, sitting in the black void where D’Hoffryn hangs out. She says that she’s so tired. D’Hoffryn says he’s sorry, but it’s because she let Xander domesticate her. As a vengeance demon she would have crushed him and it’s time she got back to what she does best. Roll end credits.



This episode. Oof. My feels. Anya’s got a lot of ups and downs as a character, and it’s appropriate that her wedding was initially ruined by a former victim of her vengeance days. This episode was so well done because even with the many episodes where I find Anya hard to take, my heart just broke for her. Xander is right – it is a terrible idea to get married if you’re not ready, but he’s had doubts for a while now. He did a stupid, impulsive thing by proposing to her in the first place. Anya called him on that, gave him an out, yet he didn’t take it. This is a conversation that could have been had at a thousand other critical moments and he’s an asshole for doing this to her this way. Extra asshole for making her – the dumpee – go back in and tell everyone. Anya’s vows were beautiful, too.

It’s frustrating because their S5 relationship was actually pretty cute. You saw some of the good they did one another. S6, unfortunately has been a long drawn-out build up to this moment. It helps that they haven’t had too many scenes together, but nearly all of their S6 scenes were about setting the stage for this moment. All of that makes this even more frustrating from Xander – it was an endless reel of him making the wrong choice over and over and over again.

Of course, while Xander has been making some terrible choices leading up to this epic moment of sads, Anya has choices to make going forward. We’ve already seen that grieving, angry people are not the best bed-makers. For now, though, many, many feels.

K: SO MANY FEELS OMG. I was thinking as I was watching this that it would be interesting to know if things would have been different if their wedding had just been the Scoobies in a park somewhere with Giles officiating rather than the full-blown, stressful invite-every-family-member-ever routine. Yes, Xander’s been having doubts for a while. And kudos(-ish) to him for not going through with it and then asking for a divorce two months later because WHOOPS MISTAKE. I just can’t help but wonder whether things would have turned out differently without his family and Anya’s demon friends around…

Lor: I have lots of different feels about this episode. First, I think it was relatively well done, and will end up a highlight in an otherwise sloppy season 6. Even so, this episode had just a touch of that characteristic slop: the full on family brawl was a bit much. We as the audience understood the tension between the two families without having it pushed quite so violently in our faces.

Second, this hits me with the wealth of complicated emotions that Spuffy has been trying, and failing, to inspire in me. I’m sure there will be people who feel more for Anya or more for Xander, and I can sit back and understand the feels on both sides. Selfishly, I wanted them to get married. I wanted them to work, and to also be MY light at the end of this bleak season 6 tunnel. I wanted them to be my reminder that sometimes happy things happen in Sunnydale. Realistically, they should not be getting married if either of them is not ready. I feel for Xander and his Childhood Trauma and his inability to overcome it and let himself try for his happy ending. I fault him for letting it get to this point. I feel for him because I think he does love Anya and these are self-issues.

Anya… wow. I’ve hated her at times, laughed at her, laughed with her, and she’s given some of the best and insightful moments of the series. She’s a human now, but she was brought over reluctantly. She’s never truly expressed remorse or regret over her demon days, but at the same time, she’s tried to assimilate. Her vows mentioned that she wasn’t even a person before Xander, and I think this is the reason Anya wasn’t ready for marriage either. Her whole identity, it seems, relied on Xander. The Magic Box came in and helped, but her capitalistic mind was often looked down on by Xander. Her whole morality was based on Xander. He told her right from wrong, and often in condescending and mean spirited ways. There is only so much that love can change you.

I will super mad at Anya if she chooses the vengeance demon path again, but that last shot? Her face as she’s in her wedding dress, surrounded by darkness and looking at the demon who started her journey to this moment? UGH. She has not only my brain feelings but my heart feelings.

Sweeney: Yes! That’s a beautiful shot and that’s an interesting point about Anya’s identity. She got so fixated on the idea of marriage in part because it could mean, to her, that she was doing “PERSON” right. Checking off the boxes, in a sense. She clearly wasn’t ready. It’s also worth nothing that Xander’s repeated “wrong choice” wasn’t necessarily “staying engaged” so much as his inability to talk about any of this with Anya. (Which is, itself, a very bad sign.) Still, I’m in full agreement on the many, many heart feelings for Anya right now.

 

Next time: Buffy’s in a psych ward because S6 is all about destroying you emotionally. Get your heart feelings on with us on Buffy the Vampire Slayer S06 E17 – Normal Again.

Sweeney (all posts)

I collect elaborate false eyelashes, panda gifs, and passport stamps. I earned my MA in Global Communications and watching too many YouTube videos. Reconciling my aversion to leaving the house/wearing pants with my deep desire to explore everything is my life's great struggle.





Lorraine (all posts)

I'm a 20-something south Floridan who loves the beach but cannot swim. Such is my life, full of small contradictions and little trivialities. My main life goals are never to take life too seriously, but to do everything I attempt seriously well. After that, my life goals devolve into things like not wearing pants and eating all of the Zebra Cakes in the world. THE WORLD.





Kirsti (all posts)

I'm a 30-something under-employed librarian and I still live with my parents because I'm super broke. Leader of Team Heartless Cow. I have an inexplicable love for 90s television, eat too much chocolate, and tweet about the random crap that happens to me on public transport more than I should.





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  • HNM

    Every time I watch S6, I have to take a break after this episode, because my feelings are so battered at this point, I need a time out.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      I mentioned this in the comments on the last episode, but watching on a schedule for S6 has been brutal. I don’t really remember the pace at which I watched first time through, but this season has many moments that really do call for a break. In a way, the fact that we’re spending all these hours with each episode, twice a week, means that we’re getting the full force of that emotional impact which is good, but… it also means we’re getting the full force of that emotional impact and since S6 is so damn dark… it’s A STRUGGLE.

      BUT 16 DOWN AND 6 TO GO! YAY!

      • lev36

        Alas, it will get worse before it gets better, but yeah – the end is in sight, for this season full of too many feels!

  • lev36

    I hated Xander sooooo much by the end of this episode. Yes, it was stupid of him to go ahead with wedding plans before he was really ready, but at the altar is the worst place to make that realization. I thought he and Anya were actually pretty good together, and was rooting for them.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      Same! I think Lor makes some great points at the end. Admittedly, I carried this episode with me, emotionally, when we restarted the show. Much of my Xander issues stemmed from this episode, though I now feel like it’s a little more complicated than that.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      The altar IS the worst place to do it, but I think worse than that is actually going through with it when he didn’t want to, or felt that he couldn’t, you know? It’s a scale of evils.

      Remember when Anya was all, “if you are ever going to leave me, I want to know ahead of time. I want a ticking time clock, flashing red lights. I want to see it coming.”

      This truly is the worst thing he could’ve done to her– blindsided her.

      :(

      • Wilhelmina Upton

        Yep, I’m with Lor, I do think it would have been even worse to go through with the wedding after he realised that it wasn’t what he wanted. It reminds me of Ross’ second wedding when he says the wrong name at the altar and still goes through with marrying Emily, just nope! Wrong choice.

        • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

          LOL, I appreciate you bringing the levity of Friends into this conversation.

          Oh, Ross…

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            Friends and The Nanny have taught me how to be a person, mostly. There were also a couple of other shows involved in that process.

        • lev36

          Yeah, I can see that. And it can be hard to bring up such things early, because it’s so easy to bury those fears underneath an unreasoning hope that it will all just work out, until you’re forced to see that it can’t. But it’s just heartbreaking how it all played out.

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            Oh it is. I can definitely relate to putting off feelings you don’t want to deal with but this has ben a LONG time coming and you just ask yourself why they never even tried to talk about this. I mean, their duet in OMWF made their issues abundantly clear yet they never addressed them. Citing the very wise John Green, USE YOUR WORDS!

      • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

        UGH. THAT MOMENT. IT BROKE ME. Even as a first time watcher you suspect something when you hit that point, but re-watching that after I saw this episode? FEELS. I remember you pointing out how suspicious it made you and I tried to withhold expression of feels buuuut now that we’re mentioning it again. FEELINGS.

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          I had forgotten about it until after this post went up. This was her worst fear, you know? Being blindsided by the heartbreak, after so so so many years seeing it coming. Seeing heartbreak coming was basically her job.

      • Melbourne on my Mind

        WAY TO MAKE THE FEELS WORSE, LOR.

  • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

    I FORGOT TO SAY: Where the heck is Giles????? Giles should’ve been there for Xander and the Scoobies. :(

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      RIGHT? I didn’t even think of that, but yes, it’s absurd that he wouldn’t come back for Xander’s wedding. This makes zero sense. Damn it, ASH, your whole “spending time with your family” routine is really hurting Giles as a character.

    • Democracy Diva

      I forgot to say this too, but the first time I watched this episode, I SCREAMED at the screen when I realized Giles was not at any point going to appear. (Did they even reference his absence? I can’t remember.) But that was one of the many contrivances I was not willing to accept, even if Whedon didn’t know how to work around ASH’s real-life absence. There is no way Rupert Giles would have missed this wedding.

      • Clément Polge

        We can probably headcanon that he’s just busy being unconscious elsewhere, that’s kind of his thing isn’t it ?

        I THINK there’s a line about it, but if there is it’s like “sucks that Giles couldn’t come, huh ?”, so nothing really substantial…

        • lev36

          He was busy cleaning his spectacles. And shaving his hands. Plus, he had glass in his hair.

          • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

            1430. All the upvotes!

      • Melbourne on my Mind

        Exactly. All you need to do is add in a “Giles just rang to say there’s terrible weather and he’s stuck in [insert place here], but he’ll get here as fast as he can” line. GOD, SCRIPTWRITERS, DO WE HAVE TO DO *EVERYTHING* FOR YOU?!

        • Jojo

          But the whole disaster couldn’t happen with Giles because he fixes disasters. If nothing else he would have made the announcement, comforted Anya, talked to Xander, helped them make more plans….been Giles in fact. Even a Giles is trapped by terrible weather would mean a Giles presence and….

    • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

      They originally had a line in the script (cut for time) about Giles paying for all the wedding flowers. So… slight consolation?

  • SnazzyO

    Official statement from the Xander Defense Force:
    ” Xander is right – it is a terrible idea to get
    married if you’re not ready, but he’s had doubts for a while now. He
    did a stupid, impulsive thing by proposing to her in the first place.
    Anya called him on that, gave him an out, yet he didn’t take it. This is
    a conversation that could have been had at a thousand other critical
    moments and he’s an asshole for doing this to her this way. Extra
    asshole for making her – the dumpee – go back in and tell everyone. ”

    This is an excellent summary of our position. We love Xander with all our hearts and not getting married at that moment was right. Not talking previously was VERY BAD. Making Anya do the news breaking? Shittest move ever.

    We offer up the following feeble defense to mitigate our rage. Note: not excuses, simply rage mitigation.

    1) First time and every time we watch this, it feels like Xander has just come face to face with the fact that he could be a violent person to the WOMAN HE LOVES. It felt real for him. So, that’s trauma right there and reason alone to get his shit together.
    2) Clearly this ep was to throw Xander under the bus along with Buffy and Willow who were already there. It’s been stated by Joss that s6 was supposed to break the Scoobies. Subsequently, I think the level of shittiness had to be up there with Willow’s addiction and Buffy’s depression. Which means there is a level of contrivance here to get to this point. So… while we the XDF can see Xander running away as in character. We’re not sure him leaving Anya to cleanup is 100% in character. YMMV.

    Finally. Our heart bleeds for Anya. We also think Xanya would be ultimately perfect and just need to grow a little. Because really, they are an excellent match but they each have shit to do before getting married. But Anya and Xander are the XDF One True Pair.

    This has been a statement from the XDF. Please return to your chocolate and alcohol while we sob in a corner.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      I love you.

      We’re in agreement on all these things, though not necessarily the 2nd point of your explanation. I think it was fairly character consistent – we’ve seen Xander do impulsive things and also shy away from consequences. I think that this was a huge learning experience for him and helps him be the proper heart of the group that he blossoms into during S7 (if memory serves) but the impulsive decision to propose and general conflict/responsibility avoidance of refusing to confront/own the bad decision doesn’t seem OOC to me.

      But seriously, major +1 to all the other things. I’ve missed the XDF.

      • SnazzyO

        *hugs back* This is a hard episode for the XDF. Thanks for the love.

        • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

          Love you shall have. You’ve always done a great job of explaining Xander’s feelings without trying to blame things on other characters, which helps. Even if I don’t always (see also: rarely) empathize with Xander’s feels, I can appreciate your tactics. Soldier on, XDF.

  • Wilhelmina Upton

    I totes did not flail and let out a very high pitched CLEM! when he first appeared on screen, nope!

    This was not badly done, Anya gave me a lot of feels and all that. I was just gagging so much when Future!Xander appeared and was all, hey I’m a time traveller from the future because I forgot that he was actually a demon in disguise. It did fit in right with my hate for the Trio and them making Buffy more sci-fi-y amd less mythical demon-y.

    Tara and Willow! TARA AND WILLOW!!!! Gaaaahd they are so adorable in this episode *giggle*

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      FLAIL AWAY, GIRL. FLAIL AWAY.

      I forgot to mention what an A+ episode this was for Emma Caulfield, too! She rocked those feels. I think she gets a lot of credit for Anya’s successful tapping into my heart feels.

      TARA AND WILLOW. TARA AND WILLOW!!! <3

      • Wilhelmina Upton

        NOBODY CAN TAKE THE FLAIL AWAY FROM MEEEEEEE! <3

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          NOT EVEN SWEENEY. ;)

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            EXACTLY! (Jk, I love you Sweeney)

  • SuzyLee

    All the feels. All of them! :( This episode is so emotionally draining.
    I’m with Willow, I can’t hate Xander, I just can’t, right now I’m mad as hell at him and think he’s a total asshole but I still love him, maybe having had c.10 years to forgive him + knowing of future non asshole moments helps. And even though he definitely shouldn’t have married her with all his doubts I agree with Lor, every single time the selfish part of me wills him to just forget it all and resume the wedding when he gets back from the walk in the rain. Also the degree of Xander’s childhood trauma has only ever been hinted at before, this episode really drives home how terrible his home life was growing up; its totally understandable and desperately sad that he fears that he’ll become what he hates.
    Anya’s vows are so, so beautiful, normally I find the vows people write for TV characters disgustingly saccharine or they just sound fake, but Anya’s were just perfect and believably her, so props to the writers for that. Those shots of her at the end are so well done, the white dress against the black of the void, and I want to reach in and hold her and tell her it will be ok, even if its a lie.
    The moment between Willow and Xander “do you know how much I love you” “about half as much as I love you” gets me every time, I adore their friendship so very much; perhaps because I also have a best friend who I’ve known since my first day at school, their’s something so special about those friends you’ve had practically your whole life, it resonates so much with me because of that.
    As I’ve said before I’m very much not team Spuffy in Season 6, but their scene together still tugs at my future Spuffy shipper heart strings, and Buffy’s smile when he says she glows, urgh that gets me for reasons beyond shipping, that is pure Buffy Summers you are amazing and wonderful and I miss you smiling so very much, a real genuine smile, in that moment she really does glow and its so wonderful to see.
    Willow and Tara are adorable and I love them forever and always.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      You’re absolutely right about all the feelsy complicated stuff. I think I hated Xander a lot more the first time around than I did this time. I think that even with whatever suspicions I had that this wedding wasn’t going to happen, I really thought it would and I was so shell shocked by this that it made me extra angry with him. Now, taking it a little slower, I can definitely join you and Willow on that, “I can’t really hate him for this” sentiment.

      I had actually recapped that Xander/Willow scene at slightly greater length originally, but then I found the gif and I scrapped most of what I said because I think just watching those two gifs sums it up perfectly. I miss their friendship a lot. I don’t talk to anyone I went to elementary school with, as a result of school bouncing, but Xander/Willow have this sort of friendship that I envy greatly. Or I did, at least, before the S6 quest to Ruin All The Things. So yeah, this reminder of their friendship was lovely.

      I scrapped my response to Kirsti’s comment to avoid ragey comments, but I think I’m a little too far gone on Spuffy to appreciate those moments. That said, it was a nice reminder of the friendship they used to have.

      • Clément Polge

        Oooh I’m very very far gone on Spuffy too, but this scene was kind of cute. With Spike trying to be the big bad when he can’t help but feel like a dick because of… huh… His dick move. And Buffy being nice enough to give him what he wants while still making it clear that “NOPE”.

        And then Spike tries to soften a bit the blow by leaving and taking his dick move with him and explaining that his dick move who get any move from his dick or something.

        Damn, a lot of dick and a lot of move in that comment.

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          I’m so far gone on Spuffy that I didn’t like the scene, but at least can appreciate that it’s so great compared to what normally passes between them.

          “Hey, it’s your best friends wedding day. I brought this girl here to hurt you. Is it working?”
          “Yes.”
          “FANTASTIC. BYE.”

          Oh, Spuffy.

          • Clément Polge

            Yeah, but at least he feels BAD about it.

            I don’t know, it’s just that once you forget the abuse the mutual strikes the pain the manipulation and the shame, it’s kinda cute, you know ?

            I can understand how you wouldn’t be able to pass over these kinds of small irrelevant details though :p

          • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

            It’s a character flaw, really.

      • SuzyLee

        “but I think I’m a little too far gone on Spuffy to appreciate those moments”

        I completely understand this, I’ve felt this way before, and will freely admit that I am to some degree very much biased by my 10 years worth of investment of feels into this ship; honestly though 95% of my reason for loving that scene is the joy I feel at seeing Buffy smile again

        • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

          She looks fantastic.

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      It says a lot about Emma Caulfield’s acting that she gets so few speeches as Anya but brings her A game so hard that we’re all still feeling the kick to the feels ten years later.

  • http://stephaniec.tumblr.com/ stephynee

    This episode is extra depressing, but I love all the little friendship! moments between the scoobies, especially since they’re essentially nonexistent this season.

    Last year I introduced my little sister to Buffy, and when we got to this episode, she was like, “Is anything happy going to happen this season?” LOL NOPE.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      Yes! Friendship moments! It figures that they would throw those in while stomping on our hearts. TYPICAL.

  • darkalter2000

    I love that Xander’s breaking point is when he sees “himself” attack Anya. The other two visions I feel give the third one plausibility. Also the sneaky way “future Xander” doesn’t tell Xander wether or not he killed Anya, and leaves it up to Xander’s imagination. Imagining himself doing that to Anya was way more convincing than putting him through the whole situation then letting him work out /if/ he would do it. This way he was thinking in terms of /what/ he had done rather than /if/. It forced him to justify actions he was ‘destined’ to take rather than questioning the validity of the situation.

    I personally think Xander should have married Anya. Not because it is a good idea, simply because he promised. I don’t think people should get married and marriage is a bit of an antiquated institution but he fucking promised. You don’t lead someone on for months then dump them at the altar. I think he could probably have overcome his fears by living through them. He didn’t take a chance and wallowed in his fear instead.

    I can also totally see why Xander was afraid he would turn out like his father or worse and couldn’t go through with it. He was suddenly confronted by all his worst fears for his and Anya’s future. He always plays fear off with a joke and a smile and buries it deep down inside without acknowledging it. Then suddenly he is confronted with all his fears at the same time. Of course he can’t deal with it. He denied them for too long and didn’t talk to Anya about them /at all/ so for her this is totally out of left field and she doesn’t understand how visions of a nightmare future would ruin Xander.

    Anya didn’t question enough, but should she have had to? *shrug* I don’t know. She has acclimated to being human but she still doesn’t /get/ things sometimes. She may have seen him dodging her but accepted his excuses because she is very literal person. She doesn’t have much tendancy to hold back herself and doesn’t always expect it in others. Like how she takes Xanders advice on being human, even though humans are obviously all very different.

    In the end I don’t think they did very much right outside of loving each other. Xander shouldn’t have proposed when they were going to die, then continued through on the proposal after Anya rejected him. Xander should have had some introspection and thought the whole thing through. Anya should have seen the warning signs when Xander didn’t want to tell anyone about their engagment. They both should have had talks about what they felt to each other. It was an almost pure Poor Communication Kills scenario. Drama through misunderstanding. What a mess.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      I’m not entirely sure I agree that he should have married her anyway just because he promised. Using that reason alone sounds like a recipe for realizing those nightmares. I *do* think he could have worked through his issues WITH her and, as such, should have married her. I’m on the fence, really, on the “should have,” because that’s complicated.

      Anyway, total A+ and 100% agreement to everything else you’ve said here.

      • darkalter2000

        I’m a little weird about promises. They MEAN something to me. It isn’t a very modern or rational view though. I am just not rational when it comes to promises.

        • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

          I can respect that. It’s sort of an honor thing, yeah?

          • Melbourne on my Mind

            DISHONOUR ON YOUR COW!! Sorry. Tumblr has ruined me.

          • darkalter2000

            I tend to believe in a personal code of honor that you make for yourself. I don’t push it on others often though. It’s just with promises it feels like me and whoever are entering into a contract of good faith. You don’t enter a contract without consequences for breaking your end of it. I feel that if you make a contract you have accept the consequences for doing so.

            This is one of the reasons I hate marriage. 50% of people devorce and yet people still vow “till death do us part”. If I made that vow my marriage wouldn’t be ending in divorce. It would end with homicide.

          • Clément Polge

            Exactly ! I agree so much with you ! Except for the vows part, I’d probably just phrase that differently like “I promise to love you until I don’t, which statiscally would happen within 20 years, and then to divorce you and sue you for our 2.5 kids”.

            Bitches love science, right ?

          • darkalter2000

            I wouldn’t go for a marriage at all. I might have a different sort of ceremony of my loved one’s and my own devising but the tradition of promise lingers in weddings. I don’t want to promise anything implicitly or explicitly that I don’t mean.

          • Jojo

            Not sure where you are going on the science thing – am sure I don’t like group labels like bitches.

          • Clément Polge

            T’was a joke, ’cause 2.5 kids is the average number of kids per family (here at least) but kind of hard to do, and statistics is science, and that wasn’t really the most romantic of vows, so I was implying as a comical effect that it would be because YAY SCIENCE.

            But I’ll try to hold off on the jokes from now on.

            This being said, I guess if you had a midget you could have 2.5 kids.

          • Jojo

            Huh? You would kill your wife instead of getting a divorce? I guess that takes care of the til death do you part thing but make sure there are no kids.

          • darkalter2000

            I am a crazy person. But don’t worry, I won’t be making any marriage vows. I know I’m not sane enough for it.

          • Jojo

            Phew! The sane are too boring! XD

          • Clément Polge

            Or maybe you’re the sane one, and IT’S THE WHOLE WORLD THAT’S CRAZY

          • darkalter2000

            Heh. Maybe.

        • Clément Polge

          I’m kind of the same, so I can understand. For me, it’s about being worth your words. Basically, my one principle in life is to think about what you’re promising, and don’t promise if you don’t KNOW you can hold yourself to it.

          There are so many others words or expression or so many levels of implication, you can “try”, you can “do everything you can”, you can “give it a shot”, just use the correct expression instead of reverting to something that you know in your heart to be wrong.

          • darkalter2000

            YES. There are other words for lesser commitments. I absolutly hate when people use “I promise” casually. I was thinking about it for hours after I responded to Sweeney and I can not abide people who think promises aren’t meant to be kept come hell or high water.

            I get twitchy about it when someone says it to me for something foolish. I go crazy under my skin.

  • darkalter2000

    Disqus used to give me a “new comment” thing. Now it doesn’t and it is ruining my comment etiquette.

    • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

      Disqus is such a jerk sometimes. WE’RE TRYING TO COMMENT HERE.

  • Clément Polge

    Wow, lots of comments already ! So I’ll just say my thoughts before reading, and apologies in case I repeat something that’s been said already :)

    First of all, I think this is the episode that prove that, indeed, Xander proposed in a moment of grand romantism because he thought he was going to die. He clearly didn’t think about the future, and now that he sees what it might be, he chickens out.

    Second-of-all, I just don’t get what a big deal a wedding is… I mean, you can still divorce, you don’t necessarly NEED to spend your whole lives together just because you said so in your vows, if shit hits the fan big-big-time, you always have a cop out. Until then, just take things one step at a time… As they did so far. I’m not sure how married life would have to be that different (of course I’m not saying marriage is useless or anything, just that it doesn’t change who any of them are, and it doesn’t force them to plan their whole life that very day).

    Third, Willow still look super hot in her weird-and-probably-sentient dress. Now THAT’S magic.

    Fourth, I really believed it was Xander from the future until the big reveal… I think my brain was all taken by my feels up to this point, I’m one of the slow ones !

    Fifth, I really believed until the last time that they would go through with this marriage. Well, hoped might be a better word. I was so crushed by the end.

    Sixth, Everytime I start this episode I think of Bender’s quote of “If Calculon’s marriage doesn’t go just right…”, it just seems really fitting.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      This whole marriage is such a BIG DEAL is always played by TV shows and like you said, I don’t get why it is supposed the end of the world. Yep, you can get a divorce don’t make it worse than it should be. However, Xander should not have proposed in the first place.

      Willow *dreamy sigh* I mean, I fully support your point!

      • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

        Word. Don’t know the stats for other countries, but as this is a US show: we have a roughly 50% divorce rate. HALF of all marriages in this country end in divorce. With that sort of cultural norm — and with neither of them having religious opposition to divorce, from what I can tell — it seems a little silly to assume marriage is actually, truly permanent.

        That said, it’s still a major commitment and it’s not like divorce is a simple decision or process. It’s a messy, messy process. It is expensive and, from what I’ve witnessed, emotionally draining. So, like, if you have reason to believe your marriage will end in divorce… probably don’t go there.

        • Clément Polge

          Agreed, but if your reasons to back off on your marriage if “BUT WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IN 50 YEARS ?”, it’s putting too much pressure on the institution of marriage itself… Which is what happened here, isn’t it ?

          It seems to me all of Xander’s doubt were about the far future rather than the now or foreseeable future, doubts who could have easily be swayed had he just communicated, and taken it one step at a time…

          Of course all of this is coming from someone who never went to the altar (except if you count that satanic altar i sacrified a virgin on to get eternal youth), so it’s easy to critique, but I still get him and his fears. Just thinking it’s a bit sad.

          • http://www.saraswearsalot.blogspot.com/ Sara

            Must. Find. Virgin.

        • Wilhelmina Upton

          True. Divorces are messy and expensive and all the other things you said but I think what Polge was saying and what I think is that expecting that supposed future Future!Xander showed Xander is the tell all end all, is pretty stupid. If they would have ended up that unhappily with each other, divorce would definitely have been a doable option. Regardless, it shouldn’t even have come this far.

          • Clément Polge

            DON’T SPEAK FOR ME WOMAN.

            But yeah, that’s exactly what I meant ;)

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            SORRY! Do I need to sacrifice a virgin at the satanic altar now or are we good *biting my nails*

          • Clément Polge

            Nah, we’re good.

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            Phew, what a relief :D

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      I’m never sure what to think about Xander’s proposal. I’m inclined to agree that he did it because he thought he was going to die. But he’d gone out and bought a ring already, so it was clearly something he was thinking about for a while. If he’s proposed and then given her a ring later, it would have been far more plausible that the whole thing was on an “I’m about to die” whim. But with the ring already bought? IDK.

      • Clément Polge

        I kinda think it was a mix of both, he probably saw this as this grand romantic gesture without really realising what he was doing, just wanted to be the dreamy boyfriend, and just went G.O.B.: “I’ve made a huge mistake”

        • Ashley Menvielle

          A+ for that Arrested Development reference! I use “I’ve made a huge mistake” every chance get :).

          • Wilhelmina Upton

            Me too :) People around me never seem to appreciate me for it.

          • Ashley Menvielle

            I have the same problem! People are lame….

  • Democracy Diva

    Aside from the episodes that are too stupid to even watch (Where the Wild Things Are and the Beer episode, I’m talking to you), I think this is one of the most frustratingly contrivant climaxes of a plot line that frustrated me from the beginning. Throughout their entire wedding planning, I wanted to scream at the screen, “STOP PLANNING THIS GIANT WEDDING WHERE DEMONS WILL BE FORCED TO MINGLE WITH ALCOHOLIC HUMANS. THIS IS A STUPID STUPID THING AND NO AMOUNT OF CONTRIVANCE WILL MAKE ME ACCEPT YOUR DECISIONS.” Did anyone not see that wedding brawl coming at least six episodes ago? And the ending – of COURSE if you leave your ex-vengeance demon bride at the altar and completely destroy her faith in love and humanity, she’s going to want to seek, you know, VENGEANCE. Every disastrous thing that happened in this episode was so predictable, it really took me out of what was clearly supposed to be a dramatic plot. As Sweeney says, “this is a conversation that could have been had at a thousand other critical moments.” That’s how I feel about everything regarding their wedding, minus the old man business.

    Also, when the old man showed up, it was obvious to me that it was simply Barney Stinson in old man makeup trying to sleep with Anya. (Just me?)

    Re: the return to a Season 5-esque Spuffy: THIS. When I think about the Spuffy I actually like, it is absolutely that relationship, when they had a weird, quiet ease with each other and could actually make each other laugh, and it was so enjoyable to watch. AKA, the opposite of Season 6 Spuffy.

    Now that I’ve finished the post, I feel like I might be alone in really disliking this episode. But while I usually love the season-long build-ups to dramatic climaxes on Buffy, those always have some twist that I could not have anticipated. The former victim of Anya’s vengeance coming back and pretending to be Xander was fine, but not a big enough surprise to make me forget how predictable everything else in this episode was. I still have a lot of feelings for basically everyone involved, because there were some great friendship moments (Buffy/Xander, Willow/Xander) and heartbreaking love moments (Anya’s vows, Willow/Tara’s glances) that were exquisitely performed. But I still felt like yelling “DUHHHHH” at everyone involved in this not-wedding.

    • Jojo

      That kind of sums it up for me to. On the Spuffy front – season 6 isn’t bad until OMWF or even Smashed. I always assumed Anya invited Spike because they’ve been seen as friendly and the fact Xander didn’t disinvite him is one more sign of horrible communication. Also, his date is known as Skanky the Ho Bag. Honestly, I never really like even having him in this ep.

      My heart breaks for Anya – it’s like there are two themes in this season. One is bad communication and the other is abused trust. I really can’t believe the total lack of courage Xander shows in not being willing to take one of Anya’s outs and saying “Love you. Not ready yet.” Because she trusts him, and she is so open.

      My real issue – the Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf parents of Xander. That’s just lazy writing. This couple does not own that basement. This mother does not call down to Xander “Would you and your friends want some fruit roll ups.” This is a completely predictable rich old alcoholic abusive asshat who does not belong in this show. Next – the DWC visions also came from the school of lazy writing – Xander drinking beer and being asshole, Xander dealing with predictable teen, Xander hitting (almost) Anya with a frying pan. Those are the scenes from every horror-marriage ever. But this is a marriage between a demon (former) and a Xander, and I would have loved some real scenes where I could care rather than what seems like stock footage.

      But then there is Willow and Tara, and there is Buffy trying to help, and there is Anya and I am so kicked in the FEELS that I am actually puddling up just remembering. And I don’t care if she becomes a vengeance demon again (see – no spolier me) because 1000+ years and this is the one man she trusted enough to love and it just got thrown back in her face. So I have many bad Xander feels because this is a peak in the Xander asshat streak of season 6.

      I am not a Spuffy shipper – but from what I’ve seen anyone who ships Spuffy season 6 usually uses epiphany-radical personality change as a shipping base. Well, there are a few who get into whips, chains and no safe word (and Spike is the sub). And never say never – there are more things to come. This is meant to be a tough season for all, and there are all sorts of triggers for each character. And a big part of this season is still “Magic has consequences” and it is both in magical and non-magical ways.

    • Ashley Menvielle

      A+ to all your points here. When I first watched this show it was airing in real time and I was a fluffy, naive teen who had been thoroughly traumatized by this season’s painful character and relationship arcs, especially Spuffy because I had so much love for their friendship in the first half and then…., So I clung desperately to the belief that Xander and Anya would get their happy ending. I LOL at my teen self ability to believe in nice things like that happening in season six, and the Whedonverse in general.

      Now, watching with my cynical adult eye balls 10 plus years later I had pretty much the same thoughts you did about why the he’ll don’t they just cut out all the elaborate wedding stuff and keep it simple?! Also communicating, communicating good!

      Interesting how Spike and Buffy broke up last episode and now, Anya and Xander have broken up, and both breakups were caused by a blast from the past. Interesting parallel, there.

      • Democracy Diva

        I only saw the show for the first time in the last year or two, so that in part explains my reaction to this episode – if I had been, as you brilliantly put it, a “fluffy, naive teen,” I might not have found all these plot points quite so obvious. I would have been able to have a little more of that desperate faith in happy endings, and maybe this episode would have surprised me more. But watching this episode as an adult was a big bag of NOPE.

  • Idriss Boukhanef

    This episode ! My feels ! Anya is my favorite character in the show, and part of it is because of how genuine she is in everything she does. Her vows are the best – and most heartbreaking – parts of the episode to me. The way she goes from her comical nonsense about misogyny to expressing her feelings in the simplest and most honest way possible is a great example of how the character is as a whole. And why I love her so much.
    I also agree that the whole brawl was really contrived, but I kind of get it as it’s the only actual appearance of Xander’s shitty!parents! and they probably needed us to see how shitty! they were so we could relate to him and understand his fears.
    NOT THAT I FORGIVE YOU, THOUGH.

  • JEL

    When this episode first aired I remember thinking to myself something like, “Aren’t they going to let any one have a happy ending on this show?” Like Lor, I was really hoping for at least one happy ending in season 6. (I think that it is this season that really earned Josh his reputation.)

    There is a thought on another site that I really liked about this season and this episode seems to be an appropriate place to share it. To give proper credit I’d have to find exactly which episode this comment was made and maybe I’ll come back and do that at some point. However the site itself is not great for “snows” so I’ll paraphrase & plagiarize:

    Season 5 was in many ways, the Scoobies “finest hour”; their equivalent of World War II. They fought a war with a god and won. At the very end every one (except Tara who was injured) was “at their heroic best”. Even Dawn who offers to die to save the world.

    Season 6 is a lot like the problems returning veterans have coming back home and adjusting to civilian life and peacetime. How do you adjust to a normal life after all those heroics? Willow in particular had to power up; become the “big gun” to fight Glory. What do you do with the big gun when there isn’t a war any more? What do you do if you are the big gun and have gotten a taste for all that power? Buffy is the traumatized vet. And Xander and Anya are the war time romance that falls apart in the face of “normal” life.

    (That is the end of the paraphrased & plagiarized bit.)

    The analogy isn’t perfect, but it does work in many ways I think.

    As others have noted, when Xander proposed Anya at first accused Xander of only proposing because he expected to die & wouldn’t have to go through with it. I think Anya was right to feel there was something “off” about the proposal but jumped to the wrong conclusion as to what that was. I don’t agree with you who think she was correct. I don’t think Xander expected to die. The problem with the proposal was it was made by a 20 year old man who was caught up in the romance of the big battle and still had a lot of issues to work through in “normal” life and really wasn’t ready. But then she was caught up by it all too.

    • Alicia

      That’s a cool analogy, I like it. Never thought of it that way before. I always just had the vague idea that life is kinda kicking everyone’s butt this season and that almost everyone hits the rock bottom related to their existing issues. They are being torn down and reduced to their worst selves in many ways. And it’s happening all around the same time, which makes for a season that is too relentlessly depressing for a lot of people to enjoy.

      I agree about Xander really not being ready. I wish he’d truly realised it sooner to save Anya the humiliation and so they could hopefully work it out. It’s hard to be really self-aware though, which is why I think it all hit him really hard at once this episode. God, his father truly is an awful person!

  • geff

    1000x this: “Selfishly, I wanted them to get married. I wanted them to work, and to also be MY light at the end of this bleak season 6 tunnel.” I don’t think they should really be married, but I wanted them to go through with it anyway because it would be unexpected and hopeful. As much as I can sympathize with Xander’s fears and Childhood Trauma, the fact that he not only let it get to this point but also that he WALKED AWAY and let Anya tell everyone the wedding is off is really inexcusable to me. He can apologize all he wants but he clearly cannot take responsibility for his own decisions, which just adds to the list of reasons why I find it hard to genuinely like Xander.

    I personally don’t think this episode is very well done. It has its moments, mainly because Anya is pretty great in it (that last shot of her drifting in the darkness is beautiful and so, so sad), but the way they casually have demons walking around interacting with humans, and the fact that the humans just kinda accept it? I get that it’s supposed to be funny and that it’s showing that the humans are just as bad as (or even worse than) the demons, but I can’t suspend my disbelief – it’s too ridiculous. It lacks the realistic level of self-awareness that I always liked about the show. Since I can’t take it seriously it also doesn’t make me emotional, but I obviously agree that it’s an emotional episode.

    I like the Spike/Buffy scene, but that’s probably because I can somehow compartmentalize Spike’s ridiculous personality shifts haha.

    • Alicia

      Spike’s personality shifts have been happening for a long time. He did it all through season
      5, and really from his first ever episode where he goes from Big Bad posturing to being sweet and tender with Drusilla in a split second. To me, it’s a part of the conflict in his character between the romanticism that comes from his human life and the Spike persona he developed over the years as a sort of barrier against that. Also the fact that being a vampire seems to twist his world-view in a lot of ways, which makes for some wide and varying reactions to situations, when all mixed up with his better impulses, intense feelings for Buffy, and somewhat desperate desire to be ‘seen’ and loved. But I appreciate that while this is what makes him such a great character to me, it seems to be why others don’t like him. People’s reactions are fascinating really!

      • Raluca

        Right there with ya, sis!

      • geff

        Whoops, I’m a total fail. sorry for replying to this so late. And I was probably too vague about what ‘personality shifts’ I was referring to (I kept my Spike/Buffy comment deliberately short, though, cause I know they’re already discussed quite a lot in the comments), because I’m with you for the most part. Spike’s one of the most interesting characters on the show and I love the dichotomy of his character, the same way I love the dichotomy in Giles and Buffy. I don’t sympathize with Spike very much, or at all, really, because he’s a vampire but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy his role on the show. What I meant when I said ridiculous personality shifts was how he can be creepy and stalkery in one scene and then totally mature and caring in the next. I agree with everyone who says that this is a result of inconsistent writing rather than complex writing but they pull it off so it doesn’t really bother me much when I’m watching. It’s only when I try to discuss and analyze the show that I notice it more.

        • Alicia

          Don’t worry about replying late! I don’t expect people to reply, though it’s lovely when they do:)

          I see what everyone means about inconsistent vs complex writing. Seems like the writers have been arguing about him since season five! Some of that has to do with him being a supporting character whom they use in whichever way they need each season.

          Judging by writer statements I’ve read, they seemed to have a definite agenda as to what role he’s supposed to play since say ‘Smashed’, which wasn’t particularly consistent with how they were writing him early this season, though not out of character exactly. But I think what they were trying to get across (Spike as Bad Boyfriend) really didn’t translate on screen for a lot of fans who found Buffy to be really unlikeable, her behaviour awful and Spike very sympathetic. I personally think both equally contributed to how bad the relationship got.

          I find it very easy to sympathise with Spike because he’s a very emotionally available character. He sort of took over as the character I saw the show through sometime in season 5 maybe? Definitely this season anyway. I struggled to understand Buffy because she has become increasingly closed off and hard to read in a lot of ways. Obviously, there are really good reasons for that. Spike is just so raw and passionate, even when he’s wrong, that I’m drawn to him easily.

          • Raluca

            Same here, Alicia. Plus, I’ve been in his shoes and I can relate easily.

  • Alicia

    If there’s a Xander Defense Force (which does a great job), then I think I’d like to be the Spike Feels Brigade *waves pom-poms*. (Buffy Feels go without saying). I feel that I’m quite qualified for the position given his ability to tear my heart out with no more than a well executed kicked-puppy face. No? Well FINE then, no need for name-calling and throwing things, it was just a suggestion *sulks*.

    But really, I’m going to squee over the Spike/Buffy scene for a bit to distract from all the painful feelings this episode induces. (Poor Anya especially, and poor Xander too. Though I saw it coming a mile off with all the Xander freak-out moments this season. I still hoped with all my heart that the wedding would happen and that they would tackle their issues together instead). Although it’s actually a bit painful too, it’s quite lovely and one of my favourite conversations between them in the whole series.

    Spike looks quite nervous and shy about talking to Buffy before she comes over. And I’m SO glad she is brave and decides to talk to him instead of avoiding things. They’re awkward and adorable and I just want to squish them both. I love that Spike does a typical stupid Spike thing and brings a girl to make Buffy jealous (her name is TARANTULA btw) but as soon as Buffy tells him that it hurts he immediately melts and can’t keep up the front to save his life. (Notice when he leaves he slips back into extreme posturing mode with his date). Buffy is continuing with her talk-to-Spike-like-a-person mode of communicating she was using when she broke up with him, so good for her. Spike’s “You glow” made me aww and so did them sharing the “radioactive” joke about Buffy’s dress. That smile she gives him is absolutely beautiful and a joy to see. It’s nice to see Spike smile a bit too. His gladness to see Buffy be happy reminds me that (I think) this is what he really wants, all said and done, despite forgetting that himself at times. But my favourite part is probably when Buffy says “I pretty much deserve…” and Spike tells her firmly “No, you don’t”. Good nipping that in the bud, Spike.

    The really painful part comes when Spike actually THANKS Buffy for caring enough about him to feel a little hurt at seeing him with another girl. I really can’t begrudge him that tiny bit of validation that he matters and is worth at least SOMETHING to her. It is pretty damn sad to watch him accept that crumb though. Actually you can just feel the underlying sadness in him throughout the scene. And Buffy’s look of… well I’m not sure exactly as she says “You’re welcome” caps it off. End of overly long ramble about a tiny scene that isn’t plot significant at all! Hee.

    ALSO yay Spike and Dawn talk to each other! I miss scenes with them together SO SO much.

    • Clément Polge

      It’s a full-time job though ! I personally did the Joyce Defense Force on occasions, but ever since S5 I didn’t have much work.

      • Alicia

        Ouch! Poor Joyce, she can’t even DO anything that people can defend her for:(

        I think I’m up to it:D:D, since it’s pretty much what I’ve been doing anyway, especially when I noticed Spike gets no sympathy from the Snark Ladies, which is their right of course. But it does make the recaps a little painful to read at times. It’s actually quite good though, because I’m truly discovering and reinforcing why I love Spike so much by rambling on about his character and perspective on things. I’ve never really discussed the Buffyverse with anyone, so it’s all coming out here in a word-vomit-y fashion. Lots of fun!

        • Jojo

          Yeah – it’s hard at times. And I get too push-backy but they are good snarkers even if they hate Spike. And – to be honest – I don’t think that Joss expected people to like Spike and even James Marsters was telling fans – fertheluvofgawd do not – repeat NOT – think that Spike is a good boyfriend. But I’ve seen the whole series so I know……

          • Raluca

            I love Spike, no matter what Joss intended :D James Marsters made him likeable.

            It is hard to see the ladies don’t like Spike, because at times they can be pretty hard on him, with the hatred and name-calling. But this is because their story is Buffy-centered and Spike doesn’t get a POV :)

          • Jojo

            It’s like watching a friend or relative do stupid stuff. I don’t always approve but I sympathize. I can care intensely about someone without approving of their current idiocy. I can want to know why – and what was learned.

        • Raluca

          Spike has enough fans. I understand Sweeney hates him now, on re-watch, but Kirsty still (kinda) likes him. Well… we’ll see what happens.

          • Alicia

            It’s never enough! We must rule the world!:D:D

          • Raluca

            It is enough. Plus, I can totally understand why they hate him. But I cannot, because of JM, who is totally the best and hottest! :D He gets those looks on his face, you just know he is hurt and conflicted even at his worst. I know that, in real life, abusers are awful and hard to bear with, but this is how I like my TV and movie characters – dark and conflicted and wounded (just like Spikey and House).

          • Alicia

            Ooh yes! JM rocks my socks;)
            I’ve watched a fair few seasons of House. He’s great entertainment. Such a brilliant asshole.

          • Raluca

            I’ve watched it all – House, I mean – several times. Hugh Laurie is really good at being a misogynistic pig and also making you root for him (wounded soul and all…). I guess I’d hate him in real life, but… on-screen he is great!

    • wlreed

      One of the things I dislike about season six is the lack of Spike and Dawn friendship. I know that’s a weird thing to single out to not like in the middle of all of the huge emotional stuff. But I loved their friendship so much and felt like it was independent of how Spike feels about Buffy. And because so much is going on that gets (rightly) debated the Spike/ Dawn thing kind of gets left behind.

      • Alicia

        Yeah, apparently they were worried about how scenes with Spike and Dawn alone together could look as Michelle T was maturing. Like there could be a sexual element to it. Which I think is bull, since I only ever got a Spike-as-older-brother type vibe from their interactions.

        Here’s a quote apparently from Marti Noxon during the ‘Bargaining’ commentary.

        “Umm…lets see, one thing we were definitely aware about after we shot this scene was that…you know…Dawn is definitely …ahh…straddling that…that age where she’s not yet a girl, not yet a woman….what is it? Not a girl, not yet a woman. There were places where I looked at the scenes and went “God, she really is becoming very….you know…sexy in her own way and she has…I think a stance for…you know…cross legged kind of…looking at Spike we were like “Maybe we shouldn’t have them sitting so close together after this…you know”.

        It’s a real shame. Their interaction this episode wasn’t anything substantial. I do think Spike still cares about her though, with the way he rushed to Dawn’s side in ‘Wrecked’. But his brain has pretty much been completely taken over by Buffy at this point. Fur fhttrfgf scvxr’f uryc naq nfxf bhssl, fb ur’f abg tbvat gb or nebhaq nalzber? va frrvat erq naq V guvax fur nfxf fcvxr gur fnzr dhrfgvba jura fur ivfvgf uvz va uvf pelcg gung fnzr rcvfbqr. Fb znlor jr jrer fhccbfrq gb guvax gurl fgvyy gnyxrq bss-fperra be fbzrguvat? Vg’f xvaqn ynzr.

        I loved their friendship too. Sometimes I wish that they would have been best friends this season. They have a similar maturity level after all:D:D Their scenes were never anything but awesome in Season 5. Buffy could have found another method to self-flagellate apart from Spike. Hey, maybe they could have teamed up and found a way to help make life easier, without putting pressure on her to be okay? Since Buffy has to ultimately help herself.

        • Jojo

          I’d like both. I think Buffy needed to go through what she went through with Spike to gain the wisdom she had after she made it through. But I love Spike & Dawn. And for some reason I get squicked at the thought of a Spike and Dawn relationship even though this was almost the age when Buffy met Angel. And spike is at least a century younger.

        • Heather Bungard-Janney

          Multiple fanfics have been written on the subject and you’re right, they could have found a better way to show Buffy’s suffering, and her recovery. What you describe, I’ve read, and it’s often wonderful.

      • Jojo

        +1 I think that 4 or 5 years age difference never mattered to Spike so he talked to her as if she was an adult. And besides she was older than him in at least one way. I always wished they did something more with her green energy ball beginning because that seemed a major thing to just drop. And I always thought Spike would be the one she could turn to. He would fight off anyone for her and he wouldn’t hold back on exploring.

        Naljnl Knaqre jrag naq gbyq ure Fcvxr jnf n encvfg juvpu vf fb jebat ba fb znal yriryf ohg yrg’f whfg fnl gung jnf Ohssl’f gb gryy be abg gryy naq nsgre gur sver jneavat V qba’g oryvrir gur fubjrq Fcvxr naq Qnja rire fcrnxvat ntnva naq gung jnf bar guvat gung ernyyl uheg zr nobhg frnfba frira.

    • Jojo

      I am joining the SGB, and I declare our colors to be red and black – cuz fanged four. It’s not just feels – it is also ‘what a mind blowing arc!’ And James Marsters is amazing playing all those shifts of personality. I love pairing Spike with Wesley – which is pretty much impossible but when did that ever stop a good fanfic writer. But I do like how is relationship with Buffy evolves. You’re the one.

    • http://www.sweeneysays.com Sweeney

      Clement has led you astray. XDF is a full time job because it consists of one person. Spike has a veritable army, so y’all really only need to divide it into like 5 minute shifts.

      • Jojo

        But Spike haters are much talkier. I mean Xander has barely been mentioned because he has a smaller role. Fnqyl Avpubynf Oeraqba qrirybcrq n qevaxvat ceboyrz jvgu rkcynvaf obgu uvf jrvtug tnva naq uvf fznyyre ebyr. Ur jrag vagb eruno nsgre gur fubj naq frrzf gb unir znantrq ernfbanoyl jryy.

        Whereas this is a pivotal time for Spike and Buffy and there is much Spike hatred and Spuffy hatred at this time. And we know the complete arc but can’t spoil so we need to hug each other to keep each other quiet and sane.

      • Alicia

        There’s only like four!
        Hehe sounds good to me! Although it’s fun really:)

        • Raluca

          We are legion! :P

          • Jojo

            Let’s be careful with the casting out of demons :)

          • Raluca

            LOL… it’s a religious reference, right? I knew I was making a mistake as I hit “post”! :)

          • Jojo

            I’m pretty sure it is – not being religious either. But I do like history and that’s where I got it.

            Hmmm….I wonder what would happen if you exorcized a vampire….even more, what would happen if the vampire had a soul

      • Clément Polge

        Haha I laughed so hard at your comment.

        IT’S FUNNY CUZ IT’S TRUE!

    • Ashley Menvielle

      Love all this, great points!

      I believe this scene was written by Joss, specifically, and I love this scene too. Spike stopping Buffy from blaming herself, “I pretty much deserve-No, that’s not true”, gets me in my feels bc she’s ALWAYS blaming herself for everything that goes wrong, so it’s lovely that he doesn’t let her do that here, in regards to him, specifically. I was and am very hard on Riley, in AYW, and had he done the same as Spike when Buffy apologized to him THAT act alone would have made me feel much better about him and his role in that episode.

      That scene was refreshing for me after the toxicity of their relationship in the later half of the season. And Buffy/happiness is my OTP, so her smile after he says you glow, and her happiness and renewed hope in this episode in general are magic for me :).

  • JEL

    One other minor comment. I found season 6 somewhat hard to take on first viewing (which was when it originally aired, no binge viewing then, had to wait a whole week or more between episodes) because by this point I was thinking “when is it ever going to end?” The bleakness that is. Or navel gazing as I thought of it at the time. (My other favorite show at the time, Farscape, went through a similar bleak season that same year too.) In subsequent viewings, I came to like season 6 much better, but part of that is that I knew then when it where it was going and how much there was to endure. I think usually it is hardest on first viewing, getting through the bleak season 6 tunnel.

    Blogging of course changes things, so Sweeny’s experience may be different. Binge viewing or at least being able to view at the pace you wants, changes the experience too.

    • Alicia

      Yeah people who binge-watched the show after it ended seem to have a bigger chance of liking season six because they just rip through it and it’s not endlessly drawn out. I watched it really fast and loved it just as much as every other Buffy season, even though it was painful.

      The Snark Ladies spend way longer on each episode than a normal viewer, so that makes the drawn out part even worse I think!

      • Jojo

        I marathoned. I remember having major Spike issues – wouldn’t even watch the fight scene in Smashed at first. So I am kind of the opposite of Sweeney at least. Once the show was over I rewatched just to map Spike’s arc because – well, it’s a writer thing to do. When I run across a character who makes me forget I am reading or watching I want to know how they manage to do that. Even at his worse Spike created intense feelings – so effective art. I also like the tension between what Buffy wanted to do and who she wanted to be. It was so much easier for her when she could believe she came back wrong and really was part demon. Kind of freeing – just like being invisible.

        • Raluca

          LOL I actually did the same, followed Spike’s arc. Started with S6, followed with S7, then wanted to understand how he fell for Buffy, so I went for S5, then S4 and then S1-3. And, on further re-watches, I sometimes follow certain arcs – I did that with Angel (on both shows), Faith and Anya.

          But Spike is my all-time favourite. I sometimes re-watch episodes just to see him interact with the others. This is why I usually re-watch episodes with a lot of Spike in them.

          • Jojo

            I’ve followed Spike and Angel back and way back because that much history is so compelling. Get those two together and you begin to realize that all the humans are like mayfly. The two have probably known and even liked other humans. Long after the humans we watch are dead Angel and Spike could still be together in a tie that’s too complex to label. That’s the main reason why I ship them – they have so much for a writer (or reader) to explore

            I also went back to Angel and have one more season to go – following Wes. Again the character arc, and it’s nice to get away from the vamps.

          • Raluca

            Yes, Wesley too… forgot about him :). Love his arc too!

    • Melbourne on my Mind

      I didn’t find it hard on first viewing, but I suspect that’s because I started the show with season 6 as it went to air, so I didn’t know what it had been like in previous seasons. On rewatch, season 6 was harder.

      • Raluca

        I started with S6 as well, but I was hooked and loved it. It is still my favourite season on BtVS. And it does have some of my favourite episodes, like OMWF or Tabula Rasa :)

        • Jojo

          I like the drama – I’ll take 6 over 4 any day!

          • Raluca

            Me too. S6 and then S5 rule! :)

    • Ashley Menvielle

      Right there with you on the evolution of liking season 6 better after the initial original airtime viewing. Waiting a week between episodes was so painful, in an already painful season. I actually missed a few episodes of season 7 because I was so burned out by the end of 6 that I was like: NEED A BIGGER BREAK FROM YOU SHOW, IT STILL HURTS.

  • Zovc

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERONE! or Happy however much of it is left in your timezone.

    The big question with this episode is clearly was Xander right to not marry Anya. Well I go back and forth on whether I believe Xander and Anya as a couple. I bought it my first time watching, but I’m not entirely certain they work. Anya is annoyed by everyone, so why not Xander? On Xander’s side, he constantly is embarrassed, so why keep dating her? “All the Way” give us the explanation that Xander likes the crazy things Anya does, but we never really get a good explanation for why Anya loves him out of all the guys in the world. Still, the show says they’re in love, so if I run with that I think they should get married. Yes, they both have serious issues to work out, but is there a law that says you can’t do that *while* married? And, just to add to the frustration, the writers really gave both Xander and Anya The Idiot Ball. It’s pretty hard to buy that neither of them would see this coming, even with their shared lack of introspection.
    On a semi-related note, I watched “Fear Itself” yesterday in recognition of the coming holiday, and Anya was almost solely concerned with getting Xander out of the evil frat house, not anyone else. She’s now much more capable of empathy and that’s largely due to hanging out with Xander and the Scoobies, so watching that episode late at night and then reading this recap early in the morning gave me an absurd amount of feels,
    Either the line about Giles paying for the flowers, or a new about one being stuck at an airport should have been included, and overall this is just more evidence that the explanation for his absence should have been the arschlochs (swearing is better in German) at the Watchers council demanded he go to England or wherever contrivance needed him. I understand that it makes better drama if he feels Buffy is over-reliant on him, but he proved in season five that he can draw the line of where she needs help and where he should step in. Basically, one more lousy writing moment for this episode/season.
    And, in order to end on a happy/complimentary note, I find it amusing Willow took up the best man’s traditional role of flirting with a bridesmaid; she and Tara are, individually and collectively, adorable; and, though I generally try to avoid putting thing in shippy terms, they are my OTP.

  • mjkbk

    Wait. A couple of Snark Squadders posit that Spike probably had to crash the wedding–but no one paused to wonder why CLEM was there?

    Hmm……maybe a friend of Clem’s second cousin, thrice removed, formerly dated D’Hoffryn’s mom. Yeah, that would be enough to land an invite.

    But what Scoobie would invite SPIKE, of all people, right?

    • Jojo

      Anya – because they both knew they should have stopped to smell the corpses. :)

    • mjkbk

      P.S. “Old Xander” was portrayed by actor George D. Wallace, who died in 2005. In Broadway musicals, he played opposite leading ladies such as Gwen Verdon and Mary Martin, replaced John Raitt in “Pajama Game” and was Tony-nominated for one of his roles. Way to go, Old Xander. But also, RIP.

  • Ashley Menvielle

    So, what Lor said in her end notes on the recap pretty much expressed my feels too when I first saw this episode. “I wanted them to be my reminder that sometimes happily things happen in Sunnydale.” Oh, yeah, that pretty much encapsulates what my teenage self, was 16 at the time of the original airing, needed, not even wanted, but NEEDED from this episode. As a teen all the complexities of the character’s motivations for the marriage were kinda lost on me, I just kinda wanted one thing to work out at this point in the season.

    Now, with my 26 year old eyes I see that Xander had doubts that he buried all along and that Anya had hinged the entirety of her identity on being Mrs. Xander Harris. Not healthy. Anya and Spike mirror each other in that way: former demon/chipped demon depowered by major life event, ends up clinging obsessively to a core Scooby and constantly looks to that person for love and moral guidance, and the Scoobies in question? Kind of uncomfortable with and overwhelmed with being placed in that position. I’m thinking it’s not much of a coincidence that Xander and Anya break up the episode after Buffy and Spike do. The catalyst for both breakups is a blast from the past for both couples. I wrote somewhere in a comment below about this and I think this connection is really an interesting one I hadn’t noticed the first few times I rewatched the show.

    • Alicia

      Yes about the Spike/Anya parallels! I’ve never really thought about them in conjunction with the two break-ups, but that’s a cool observation: They really do have quite a lot in common.

    • Jojo

      Excellent! And I think their real needs are also mirrored.

      Spike needs to be a caretaker – first his mother, then Dru, then Buffy after she was pulled out. Wasn’t it Darla who said that the person you were informs the vampire you become. He also needs to be seen and heard – which is why he can be an obnoxious ass. It’s fun for him, and if someone is looking at him then he won’t disappear. He has a degree of intuition that can be uncomfortable and he uses it as a weapon at times.

      Anya needs to be treasured – cared for, loved – and respected. She doesn’t like negative attention but it’s been harder for her to mimic and understand humans. She has a degree of intuition that can be uncomfortable and she can spill it with resultant corrections. And this wedding betrayal has to hurt her pride. In front of D’Hoffryn and Hallie – to be abandoned at the altar. There will be no love from the scoobies because Xander is a core member.

      • Ashley Menvielle

        Great points! I totally agree :).

        I remember besides being so hurt by the breakup being sooooooo embarrassed for Anya that this all went down in front of D’Hoffryn and Hallie. Ouch!

      • Clément Polge

        “Wasn’t it Darla who said that the person you were informs the vampire you become. ”

        I don’t know, but it was at least hinted by Angel in Doppelgangland, when Willow sayd that Vamp!Willow is a little gay, Buffy says “don’t worry, she’s got nothing to do with you…”, Angel start saying “Actually…” and then Buffy give him the stink eye.

    • JEL

      Mark Field over at http://unpaidsophistry.blogspot.com/ (site not good for “snows”) has an analysis of the entire series from the viewpoint that Xander, Willow & Giles are not just characters in the story but also serve metaphorically throughout as Buffy’s heart, spirit & mind (the roles they explicitly played at the end of season 4). He definitely agrees it is not a coincidence. (His commentary on that episode starts off “Metaphorically, Xander couldn’t marry Anya. He’s Buffy’s “heart”, and this season her heart is unsure, conflicted.”) His entire commentary on the whole series is interesting & worthwhile reading though I think his anti-Xander/anti-Riley bias warps his analysis sometimes.

      • http://thelatepartygirls.com Lorraine

        Amazing that you bring up! I’ve had Normal Again drafted for a few days now and at the end of that recap i bring up these metaphorical roles and even Dawn-s place in it! Next episode should be fun. :)

        • JEL

          Mark treats Dawn metaphorically as Buffy’s inner child / human side. I will be interested in seeing your take.

          You’d probably be interested in Mark’s site then, but I would recommend looking at it after you finish the series both because it is a lot to read and because (to repeat myself) while he tries to avoid spoilers in the main articles there are many in the comments. They are labeled but in clear text so hard not to accidentally read.

  • Nicole von St Ange

    Wow your Buffy recaps are getting too many comments to keep up with these days!

    Good job :)

  • Heather Bungard-Janney

    Xander even gave himself a chance to do this right – well, kinda – when he summoned Sweet, thinking it would be all this lovely singing and dancing and talking about your feelings. And it was. The truth came out. Sure, people died all over town and Buffy almost died again and Dawn was nearly sucked into hell and NO ONE CALLED HIM ON ANY OF THIS, but he did at least try to broach the topic in a really stupid way.

    Sorry, I have a hard time forgiving him for things.

    But the worst thing was, all the feelings DID come out, all the truths WERE revealed – and he STILL didn’t pick up that ball and carry it. He still doesn’t seem to have had a conversation with Anya once the dance number stopped, and for that I can only call him a coward.

    More subtle is the observation that this would have been ultimately bad for Anya as well. Sweeney puts it beautifully when she says Anya wanted to check off another box so she knew she was “doing ‘PERSON’ right”. The whole money and sex thing – our cultural messages tell us that these are the things that are important for human women, so they are the things she latches onto. She starts her relationship with Xander by getting naked and informing him that they are together now. There was no getting-to-know-you period or even asking Xander how he felt about it (which seems to have been “huh?” followed by “sex?!” followed by “okay!”). She plays the board game Life one night while they’re babysitting Dawn and feels thrilled that she’s winning and figures that money and a family are the ways to go. So she launches into capitalism at the Magic Box and proceeds to “win” because she actually is an intelligent person, but doesn’t realize that matters, and then moves on to “family” and… and then.

    I think ultimately this would have been a great growth moment for the character, to realize that life isn’t about winning against an arbitrary set of cultural criteria; but they don’t play her that way often and I can’t say more because of spoilers. But it is sad.

  • Heather Bungard-Janney

    Oh, and also, Joss secretly hates us and doesn’t want anyone to have a happy ending.

    • Jojo

      The Anna Karenina principle – Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

      • JEL

        And unhappy families make for much more interesting drama. Happy families usually make for boring stories. (But are better for living in.)

        Which of course really what Josh & the writers are about; keeping the story interesting and surprising and that is more important to them than making us happy at least until the end of the story.

        Lois McMaster Bujold once said something like she tried to imagine the worst possible thing that could happen to her character and then wrote about that. She got some very compelling books out of that approach (even with constructing happy endings). More recently she has gotten a bit softer & more romantic with her characters. I still like her books a lot, but there was an edge to the others that hasn’t been as much there more recently.

        So there you go: Torturing your characters makes for good stories. And if they are really well done, we the readers/viewers suffer along with the characters.

        • Jojo

          Barayar & Cordelia – and wonderful Miles! You have good taste my friend. I love Warrior’s Apprentice and have enjoyed all since then. Not too big one her other 2 series though

        • Jojo

          Psst – Miles Naismath rocks! I want a fleet of my own!

          • JEL

            Who wouldn’t want to be Miles?

            It does help to have an author on your side (even if they periodically torture you).

            On the other hand, her latest makes the case that it would be a lot more restful to be Ivan. :-)

          • Jojo

            I love that Ivan is not quite the idiot his name would suggest (that idiot Ivan). Have not read the last Barrayer book – cannot handle the death

  • Izzygirl

    It’s been a long time since I watched this episode, but didn’t ‘older’ Xander have blue eyes? I vaguely remember being really peeved that Xander didn’t seem to notice.

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