Janes (a True Stan) and Nerdy Spice (a New Fan) are watching all of Buffy together and comparing notes. Warning: May contain spoilers for later episodes.
Season 5, Episode 1 “Buffy vs. Dracula”
It’s the end of summer, and the gang are hanging out at the beach, and all seems sunny in Sunnydale. Meanwhile, however, a coffin being delivered to a nearby castle suddenly turns out to contain a very alive (or rather, undead) cargo. When Buffy goes out on one of her nightly patrols, she’s suddenly confronted by a dark, mysterious vampire: Dracula! He’s come to Sunnydale specifically to meet the Slayer, which Buffy finds very flattering (it doesn’t hurt that Dracula is handsome, of course). He dematerializes every time Buffy tries to stake him, and finally turns into a bat and swoops away.
Before Buffy can find Dracula, Dracula finds Xander and hypnotizes him into being his “eyes and ears.” Xander not only agrees but calls him “your excellent Spookiness.” “You are strange and off-putting,” Dracula announces. Perceptive bloke. After that, Xander starts doing super weird stuff like eating spiders, and yes it’s horrible (my real-time notes: “XANDER ATE A SPIDER?!?!” followed by “UGH XANDER ATE ANOTHER BUG.”)
When Riley realizes that Dracula is after Buffy, he gets all protective goes to Spike for help, even though neither of them is even close to being as well-equipped to fight Dracula as Buffy is. But Riley might have a little extra motivation to hate Dracula, since Buffy is clearly swooning for his dark, brooding thing. She even has a sexy dream about him biting her neck! Then it turns out not to be a dream–he really was inside biting her neck! Turns out Mrs. Buffy, who knows her daughter is a Slayer often on the run from pale vampires, somehow was charmed into inviting him into the house. Oh, Mrs. Buffy. You will never learn.
In the B-plot, Giles and Willow are working on digitizing the library. Giles has a secret purpose to this: he’s moving to England because Buffy doesn’t need him anymore. Not wanting to lose him, Willow starts sucking up to him to convince him he’s still needed. I feel like this really undermines the girl-powerness of the show! Another way to view it is that it must be extra humbling for Giles to have to listen to the nerdy sidekick of his Slayer pityingly feed him obvious white lies about how necessary he is. But honestly, it’s such a parallel to how Buffy has now spent longer than a season pandering to Riley’s insecurities by pretending that they’re equals so that they don’t have to face the fact that she’s the Slayer and he’s… what’s the word?… not.
But unlike Riley, Giles does at least help. He tells the gang that Dracula likes to treat hunting his victims like an “intimate seduction” where he builds a connection with them. So they leave Xander and Anya to watch Buffy to make sure that intimate seduction doesn’t go too far. Of course, they didn’t realize Xander was already Dracula’s minion, so as soon as the rest leave, Xander shoves Anya in a closet and brings Buffy to Dracula.
Dracula’s waiting for Buffy in his castle, and for a minute you almost think Buffy is in his “thrall.” As a new viewer, I was totally vacillating between thinking she had a plan and was just pretending to be in his thrall, and being worried that she really was in trouble and that Giles and Riley–who arrive at the castle shortly after Buffy–were going to save her, which would just be annoying. But luckily it turns out Buffy is still totally in control. While Riley wanders through the castle and Giles falls into a pit with a bunch of sirens (yes, it’s gross), Buffy fights Dracula herself. There’s a fakeout — Dracula dematerializes temporarily, tricking Buffy into thinking she killed him — but eventually, she gets him just moments before Riley and Giles show up. Go, Buffy!
In the end, though, Buffy comes to Giles and says that Dracula saw something dark in her nature, and she wants to learn more about her true nature and the other Slayers, and she needs him to help her get through it. She asks him to be her Watcher again. At first I was conflicted about this–I liked watching Buffy grow more independent over the past four seasons, and Giles can be so horribly condescending. I wanted her to just ask him to be, like, her research assistant or something! But then again, this isn’t going to be like last time–the quest is initiated and driven by Buffy and her own priorities, instead of by the Council, or by Giles, or by a supervillain.
Then after that, Buffy goes home to change for a date with Riley and finds a teen girl in her room. Mrs. Buffy refers to her as “your sister.” And neither one of the girls seems to be surprised by that. What?!?! I knew Buffy was eventually going to have a sister played by Harriet the Spy, but I didn’t know Buffy knew she had a sister! Is this some kind of alternate universe, like when Jonathan made himself a superstar? I’m so confused!
Notes from a New Fan:
- Buffy is enjoying a relaxing summer on the beach until Riley says she “throws like a girl” while they’re playing a casual game of catch, so she knocks him flat on his back with a well-aimed football to the face. Richly deserved, I must say. Has Riley not learned ANYTHING? Dear Riley: when you seem to be winning, it is literally always because Buffy is letting you win. Because she is the Slayer. And you are not. (And yes I’m aware that I’ve written these exact words half a dozen times already. It just boggles my mind how much Riley doesn’t get it.)
- But OK, as much as I enjoyed that Buffy knocked Riley flat… I mean, at that point, why not just dump him? I’m just saying. I think Janes or I would’ve made short work of a boyfriend that said something like that, even at Buffy’s age.
- Immediately after this, Xander can’t light the grill, so Willow cheerfully does it with a two-word spell and Xander falls over from the sheer power of her magic. Hee! I love how many men are getting knocked flat in the first five minutes of this season! Apparently this is Janes’s favorite season… maybe this is why.
- Buffy is sneaking out of Riley’s bed in the middle of the night to do her Slaying on her own like a badass. This gives me hope for the next season!
- Speaking of hope for this season, James Marsters is a regular again. Whew!
- While Buffy is hanging out with her mom, she says she has to leave to go out on patrol, and Mrs. Buffy adorably protests that it’s 8:30. Does she think that’s… late? Did she go to college (TBH I was sort of expecting Buffy’s patrol thing to be a cover story for a fun party or a secret rendezvous, but she really does leave her mom to go Slaying.)
- I laughed at Buffy’s super-nineties incredulous response to Dracula announcing his name: “Get out!”
- Ew, Xander asks for Willow to share “naughty” secrets about her and Tara. He’s the worst.
- I love how Willow and Buffy are clearly nursing fangirly crushes on the sexy Dracula and then Anya completely wins the conversation by telling everyone she hooked up with him when she was a demon. I laughed so hard.
- Riley is a little worried that Buffy is delaying killing Dracula because of his sexy, penetrating eyes, but Buffy assures him that “there was no penetration.” Not exactly a reassuring sentence coming from your girlfriend, is it?
- More girl power: Riley comes to Spike for help against Dracula, and Spike, who had a rivalry with Dracula until the latter became so famous he was too big a deal to worry about Spike, thinks Dracula’s in town to get to him. Only to be embarrassed when he realizes Dracula still doesn’t give a shit about him, and is in town to get Buffy.
- However, Spike gets, not the last, but the funniest word when he tells Riley to go home to his “superhoney.” Hee!
- I’m just gonna say it: This scene where Dracula bites Buffy is ridiculously sexy.
- Does Riley find it at all suspicious that Buffy is wearing a skinny scarf tied around her neck right when they’re talking about the sexy vampire who’s on the hunt for Buffy?
- So Giles’s big plan is to send Buffy to Xander’s but ALSO to have Willow cast a protection spell at Buffy’s house? Shouldn’t Buffy be going to the place where the protection spell is? Or the spell be cast on the place where Buffy is?!
- I love that Mrs. Buffy is the one who let Dracula in. “He seemed so nice! A little pale!” Dude, do you not know what vampire slayer means?
- Xander tries to protect Dracula from Riley, so Riley punches his lights out. Hee. Classic Xander.
- Dracula repeats Tara’s lines: “You think you know, who you are, what’s to come. You haven’t even begun.” Interesting! It sounds so deep when shows have people repeat lines like that. Sometimes it really is deep (“All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again”) and sometimes it’s just a trick to make you think it’s deep (“Save the cheerleader, save the world”). I wonder which one this is. Joss is smart, but there’s been some sloppy attempts at slapping a deeper meaning on things in the last couple seasons, so it’s a tossup.
- Buffy does one of her crazy jumps when Dracula charges at her. Has that happened since season 1?
Notes from a True Stan:
- My favorite season! I’m so excited.
- And maybe my favorite season premiere? It’s so funny!
- I feel like Dracula was probably a hard sell in the writers’ room, but I love it. His entrance is so perfectly done–so campy, so funny, so self-aware. “Are you sure you’re really Dracula?” Buffy asks. “Because I’ve dusted more than a few pimply overweight vamps who called themselves Lestat.” 😂
- Buffy’s lust for the kill is reminding me of Faith–and she’s even wearing tight leather pants!
- Xander once again tries to fetishize Willow’s lesbian relationship by asking her to tell him “naughty secrets.” Gross!
- Aw, Willow’s awkward attempts to make Giles feel appreciated are so pure.
- This scene with Dracula and Buffy in her bedroom is so weirdly rapey. Like a Victorian “seduction,” which is, of course, the point.
- The vampire-bites-as-sex bit hasn’t been this explicit since that sucking scene with Angel in season three. Willow talks about Dracula’s “long slow bites that last for days” and Giles says Dracula’s ingenue “needs to want to be taken–she must burn for him.” Subtle.
- This scene with Giles and the lady vampires is–ew. And Riley calls it a “chick pit”? Is that a thing?
- So interesting that Dracula repeats the line from “Restless”: “You think you know–what you are, what’s to come. You haven’t even begun,” which basically serves as a thesis statement for the whole season. I don’t like “Restless” but I do love the long-term planning.
- “You think I don’t watch your movies? You always come back.” Hee!
- Fun fact: I started watching Buffy in real time in season five, so I had no idea that I was supposed to be surprised that Buffy had a sister. It must have been so crazy for people who were watching from the beginning!
Season 5, Episode 2 “Real Me”
Buffy is on a mission to learn more about her Slayerness, so Buffy and Giles are back to their old training sessions. Except now, they’re very New Age-y, involving carefully arranged crystals and long, meditative handstands. Buffy is being super disciplined and Zen, until Dawn knocks over some crystals, which makes Buffy fall hard from her handstand, and says in her whiniest teenager voice, “Can we go now?”
Because oh yeah, Buffy has a sister now. Dawn narrates this episode–a risky move on the writers’ part!–while writing in her diary. “Nobody knows the real me,” she writes. (Wink, wink.) Dawn is the ultimate brat sister: she complains that no one cares about her opinion, everyone is obsessed with Buffy, and that she “could totally save the world too, if someone handed [her] superpowers.” She and Buffy have a classic sibling rivalry, where Dawn resents that everyone admires Buffy, and Buffy resents that everyone babies Dawn, when she was saddled with so much responsibility at her age.
Buffy also resents that her mom makes her take care of Dawn from time to time. (“I know how important your new Slayer thing is, but I could really use your help here,” Joyce says, which is just peak mom.) Buffy brings Dawn along while she and Giles buy Slayer training stuff at the local magic shop, but then they find the owner dead on the floor. Buffy shoos Dawn out while they investigate, and Dawn has a run-in with a mentally ill man who accosts her and says, ominously, “I know you… You don’t belong.”
While the Scoobies investigate, Giles realizes that the Magic Box actually has a pretty great business model, other than the owners ending up dead. They also find that several things have been stolen: books about the Slayer, and a cheap plastic unicorn. Who is the mysterious culprit but…
Harmony! She’s back, and now she’s leading a pack of dumb-looking vampires. She has them all clap for their successful raid on the Magic Box: “Good job minions!” LOL. She leads them in a half-baked plan to kill Buffy, which involves calling her out of her house with a threatening note (in which the word “die” has a smiley face over the “i”). When she gets there, Buffy’s out on patrol, and Xander and Anya are watching Dawn. Xander laughs at her and taunts her that she can’t come in. When Harmony taunts him back about their little slapfight last season and calls him a “big girl,” Dawn stupidly tells her to “come inside and say that,” effectively inviting her inside. Harmony’s been improving on her skills since their slapfight, and she nearly bites Xander, but he and Anya fight her off. “Buffy is not going to be happy about this,” Xander says.
In fact, Buffy thinks the whole idea of Harmony having minions and trying to kill her is completely hilarious, until she finds out Dawn invited her inside. She goes on a tirade to Xander and Riley about how Dawn “grew up in this house, knowing the rules” (did she, though?) not knowing that Dawn can hear everything she’s saying. She says that she met her first vampire when she was Dawn’s age, but no one expects even basic common sense from Dawn. Instead, they all coddle and protect her, which is just “turning her into a little idiot who’s going to get us all killed.”
Dawn gets all upset and, like a little idiot, runs out of the house. Anya tries to get her back inside, but gets punched out by one of Harmony’s minions. They kidnap Dawn to lure Buffy into a trap. The increasingly hungry minions point out that Dawn doesn’t actually need to be alive for the plan to work, but Harmony doesn’t let them eat her, because “that’s not the plan.” The minions revolt, and decide to kill Harmony. Harmony begs for “more time to grow into [her] leadership role,” while Dawn tells one of the lackeys, “Touch me and my sister’s gonna kill you.” The lackey touches her, and Buffy dusts him with a crossbow. She easily disposes of the weaker minions, and lays a classic high school-Buffy burn on Harmony: “Harmony, when you tried to be head cheerleader, you were bad. When you tried to chair the Homecoming committee, you were really, really bad. But when you try to be bad, you suck.” Buffy takes a little longer to stake the strongest minion–with Harmony’s unicorn!–and Harmony slips away.
The episode ends on another classic sisterly trope: they both threaten to tell on each other to Joyce, and then both keep the whole ordeal a secret. They have a little detente, but Dawn still writes in her diary, “She still thinks I’m just her dumb little sister. Boy, is she in for a surprise.”
Notes from a New Fan:
- Wow, Stunt!Buffy’s shoulders are ripped. [It’s a new stunt double this season, I believe! There’s a big gossipy rabbit hole waiting for you if you Google “Sarah Michelle Gellar stunt double feud.” –Janes] [Omg I’m so excited. I couldn’t google it because I was afraid of spoilers, but apparently it involves the stunt double’s husband/action choreographer, Jeff Pruitt, rage-quitting and then emailing everyone a thinly veiled short story whose villains were Joss Whedon and Sarah Michelle Gellar. Juicy! -Nerdy Spice]
- I’m still waiting for an explanation of Dawn, like that she’s been living with the dad for awhile and just came over, but this episode makes it seem weirdly like she’s just always been there. It’s so bizarre!
- Riley’s hair is tousled, indicating, I suppose, that he’s a new! Laidback! Riley who isn’t all hung up on the Initiative anymore.
- So, I was always very annoyed at Michelle Trachtenberg for being Harriet the Spy in one of the most annoying movies I have ever seen, which I realize is already unfair because it’s not her fault the movie was annoying. Then I read all about how Joss was inappropriate to her when she was A CHILD and was totally on her side and ready to love Dawn! But now Dawn keeps writing in her diary and it reminds me of how annoying I found Harriet the Spy, and now I’m annoyed at Michelle Trachtenberg a\
- gain. And that is the long, probably not very interesting story about my unjustified feelings of hostility towards Michelle Trachtenberg.
- As soon as Giles started talking profit margins I thought, maybe he’ll be the new shop owner instead of Buffy’s Watcher. That would be a fitting role for him!
- Buffy says Dawn’s grown up here knowing all the rules. But like Buffy’s only been out to her mom for two seasons!
- Ha, Giles really did buy the magic shop. I feel unreasonably proud of catching wind of that TV trope even though it was telegraphed in an incredibly obvious way.
- OK, now that I’ve watched a full episode with Dawn, it appears it’s not an alternate universe and she’s just there now. It’s very unsettling! There’s this whole sibling-rivalry dynamic that the show is very insistent on, but the whole time you’re just terribly distracted by the fact that there’s a sister you never knew about. I’m sure there will be plenty of meta-jokes about it, and wink-wink-nod-nods to the fact that gee, Dawn was never around much before, and it’ll be cute and funny, but… it’s SO weird to introduce a character this way!
Notes from a True Stan:
- Every time I start this season, I’m astonished by how annoying Dawn is. I know she’s just a kid, but like, Jesus. It was already a huge gambit to add her to the show, why did they go out of their way to make us hate her?
- SMG and Michelle Trachtenberg have pretty good sibling chemistry, though–probably because they had already been friends for many years. SMG actually suggested Michelle Trachtenberg for the role.
- Which brings us to the main problem with Dawn: her age. The character was written to be about twelve, which would make so much more sense. But then they were so impressed with Michelle Trachtenberg, they cast her instead, and aged the character up to fourteen. Which would be fine, except they apparently didn’t change any of the character’s personality or dialogue, so she acts much younger than her age. Fourteen-year-olds don’t sit on their mom’s lap! They’re teenagers!
- Buffy’s murderous face when Dawn finishes the milk reminds me of “Living Conditions.” As Giles would say, she’s such an only child.
- Dawn observes that Riley is “so into” Buffy. “I bet they’ve had sex.” Heh.
- Willow’s taking drama?? She’s had two separate nightmares about performing on stage! I guess this is growth?
- Fourteen-year-old girls also don’t thumb-wrestle. [Wait, Keats and I thumb-wrestle. Although to be fair we also sometimes laugh at the word “butt,” so I guess we are in fact twelve. –Nerdy Spice]
- Cyrus, one of the minions, is played by Andrew!
- Okay, Joyce’s cluelessness reaches insane new heights in this episode. She insists that Buffy takes Dawn on her shopping trip, even though Dawn needs school supplies and they’re going to a magic shop. Then they run into an unexpected tragedy (although also not super unexpected? Buffy runs into danger and tragedy all the time, which is why Dawn shouldn’t be allowed on Slayer errands). Then she gets on Buffy’s case for taking Dawn to a murder scene–even though Joyce was the one who insisted she take her!
- I’m on Dawn’s side: in no universe does she need a babysitter. She’s fourteen!! I was watching our baby brother for an hour or two when I was ten.
- Dawn’s crush on Xander is gross, but I love that she wildly overdresses for a game and pizza night. Such a teen move.
- Anya on the game of Life: “Can I trade in the children for more cash?” Hee.
- It’s funny how much bigger Sunnydale has gotten since season 1. In the pilot, it’s a smallish town–Cordelia tells Buffy there’s basically nothing around other than the Bronze. Now, it has a UC campus and a magic shop?
- Actually, now that I think about it, wasn’t there a different magic shop in season 3, when Spike was buying love potion ingredients? And he killed that poor lady, so I guess Buffy’s right about working in a magic shop being a “deathtrap.”
- I’m into the Magic Box, though. It’s so fitting that season four, a transitional period, was the only season without a home base, like the high school library. Now, we’re back on track again.
- “I watched Passions with Spike–let’s never speak of it again.” Hee!!
Season 5, Episode 3 “The Replacement”
The monster of the week–at least at first–is a demon named Toth, who has shown up to town looking for Buffy. He’s not a particularly scary demon; he looks more or less like a human with Day-Glo green paint on his face and teeth.
Before Buffy gets around to destroying Toth, we get a glimpse into the two straight relationships currently on the show via a horribly awkward double date scene. Couple 1 is Buffy and Riley, who engage in a lot of really gross moaning and PDA whenever they’re together; Couple 2 is Xander and Anya, who have a big fight because Anya wants Xander to sign an expensive lease he can’t afford instead of living in his parents’ basement.
The gang minus Anya go to the garbage dump looking for Toth, where they run into not just Toth but also a woefully underused Spike (who’s there scavenging for mannequin parts to make some kind of Buffy standin to use for target practice). Xander actually pushes Buffy out of the way of Toth’s weapon and takes the hit himself, which is utterly out of character for Xander. But it enables the A-plot of the episode to happen. The twist? The gang walks a seemingly fine Xander home after he takes the hit–but then the next morning, Xander himself wakes up in the garbage dump!
When Xander makes his way home, he finds an exact, if slightly better-dressed, replica of himself in his basement apartment. He follows the double to the construction site, where he gets a promotion, and then to the fancy apartment, where the double not only signs the lease but gets the realtor’s number. Xander attacks him, so the double runs to Buffy and Giles and tells them there’s a demon who’s stolen his face–and Xander runs to Willow to tell her the same thing.
I was following this storyline with 100% credulity. The double is suave, good with women, and successful: clearly a demon in Xander form. But then! Giles discovers that Toth has a weapon that turns a person into their own double, so basically, both Xanders are the real Xander, with all of his most appealing qualities in one version, and all of his least appealing qualities in the other. Twist!
The rest of the Scoobs run to the new apartment, where pathetic Xander and suave Xander are both trying to convince Anya that they’re the real Xander. Buffy easily takes charge–even suave Xander is completely obedient to her–and convinces them not to kill each other because they’re both the real Xander. Then Toth shows up and Buffy stabs him to death. Willow breaks the spell, reuniting Xander (much to the dismay of Anya, who was hoping to have a threesome with the Xanders).
Afterwards, Xander is relieved of course, but also a little sad that Anya always makes him feel bad about himself. When he says as much to Riley, Riley waxes eloquent about how amazing Buffy is–and then suddenly announces with a gentle smile, “But she doesn’t love me.” Whoa! Another twist! I didn’t realize Riley knew that his thing with Buffy was fake. I thought only we, the viewers, knew that! But I hope this means that the Buffy/Riley train is on its way out of the station.
Notes from a New Fan:
- Toth’s cracked face and green teeth are kind of low-rent, no? I feel like I could’ve gone to Ricky’s on November 1st and picked up this getup on clearance.
- Xander takes all his friends to visit an apartment and Buffy and Riley immediately sneak off to the bedroom to make out. On an apartment tour! Kudos to Buffy and Riley. I didn’t realize anyone could be more inappropriate and tacky than Xander.
- Ugh, when Giles says that Toth is after Buffy, Riley gets all heated about finding him and killing him. I know I say this all the time, but DUDE, SHE IS THE SLAYER. She doesn’t need you to kill her enemies! She can do it herself, and way better than you! Ughhhhh!!
- Poor James Marsters isn’t getting a lot to do. His latest scene is that the Scoobs discover him rummaging through a garbage dump because he’s broke, and pointing out that there’s a demon behind them? Yikes. (Later we learn that Spike used his dumpster diving to make a fake Slayer out of mannequin parts that he practices kicking since he can’t kick real humans. It’s very depressing.)
- I can’t believe Xander actually successfully pushes Buffy out of the way of the demon and takes the hit instead of her. Is this the first time Xander was actually useful?
- When he wakes up, his very muted reaction is “Uhoh.” Come on Xander! Not only did you wake up in a garbage dump, you woke up wearing giant red pants, a yellow T-shirt, and an unbuttoned button-down over it that appears to have been sewn, Maria Von Trapp style, out of a whimsical bathrobe purchased at Anthropologie. You should be more worried!
- Buffy reverts to being a huge brat around Dawn. (“Get out of here!” “She didn’t say I couldn’t stand in the hall!”) Yikes. It seems totally in character, but it’s a bummer to watch.
- Xander, in his unilateral pursuit of the “face-stealer”, gets knocked in the face with the door of a port-a-potty. Seems much more on brand than when he actually helped Buffy.
- Xander objects to the double because he’s clean and his socks match. Seriously. Dear Real Xander, maybe rethink some of your choices.
- When the double tells Buffy there’s a fake Xander, Buffy remarks that she doesn’t want him running around town in case she kills the wrong one, but it doesn’t occur to her that the one she’s talking to could be the wrong one. That’s kind of in character for her, I guess, but why doesn’t Giles think of this?
- Xander bitterly says to Willow that all he does is get in trouble and Buffy saves him. Willow: “That’s not true. Sometimes we all help to save you.” Hee!
- I feel like I’m supposed to feel sorry for Xander for feeling like he hasn’t done anything worthwhile with his life. But my reaction was more, “Why didn’t you figure this out four years ago?”
- Suave Xander handles Anya’s sudden crisis around her own mortality with more sensitivity and insight than Real Xander could possibly have hoped to muster. I was still fully believing that Suave Xander was a demon at this point, and even then I was like “well sure, even a demon with green teeth is probably better at relationships than Xander.”
- I fell for EVERY red herring in this episode! When Xander decides that the double must be hypnotizing everyone with a coin he carries in his pocket, I wrote down that I felt silly for not realizing it before. And I was completely convinced Suave Xander was a demon and castigating Weak Xander for trying to fight a demon by himself. Every twist in this episode completely got me!
- Poor Buffy. Everyone’s talking about how the Buffy half of her is the “weaker” half and the Slayer half is the stronger half. That has to be unsettling to hear.
- Buffy is insecure about whether it would be better to just be Buffy-Buffy and not Slayer-Buffy, because she thinks Riley resents her importance! Ugh, this relationship is terrible. It just turns Buffy into this shell of herself who’s ashamed of all the best parts of her.
- When Toth shows up, Suave Xander throws himself in front of Anya and Weak Xander to protect them. It’s pretty funny.
- I like how this episode’s twist works because the viewer is likely to believe that the Weak Xander is the Real Xander, and the point they’re making is basically to surprise you with the revelation that Xander has some qualities that would be impressive … if they were separated from the rest of him. That’s the nicest thing even the show could muster to say about Xander.
- Riley wants to lock the Xanders in separate rooms and do experiments on them. As Spike said earlier in the season, you can take the boy out of the Initiative, but you can’t take the Initiative out of the boy!
- Ewwwww, the Xanders apparently pulled out their dicks and compared them in the car on the way over!
- Riley says that when he’s with Buffy half of him is “on fire, going crazy not touching her.” It’s very eloquent, but he is the least on-fire person, and they are the least on-fire couple, of all the people and couples who have ever existed on TV.
Notes from a True Stan:
- My partner just walked in and practically yelled, “Riley’s still here??” LOL. [I say that at the beginning of every episode. –Nerdy Spice]
- The subtitles tell me that Xander’s parents are drunkenly yelling things like, “Sure run away again, that’s what you’re good for!” Xander’s home life is actually very sad.
- The smash-cut to Toth’s cauldron right after the line “Who uses a cauldron anymore?” is like, season one-level campy.
- “That is a fertility god.” Toth is funny!
- Buffy heard Giles say a word that she had never heard before, “Toth,” and apropos of basically nothing, assumed that Giles was calling Riley a moron in British. Does she just assume that everyone is calling Riley a moron at all times?
- Well, this might be why: Giles says Toth is after the Slayer, and Riley says, all manly, “Where can I find him and how hard can I kill him?” Ew! BUFFY can kill him, my dude. She doesn’t need protecting!
- FakeXander (or Not Actually FakeXander) is… hot? It’s very disconcerting.
- Xander: “But I never help. I get in trouble, and Buffy saves me.” Willow: “That’s not true! Sometimes we all help to save you!”
- Riley says he would never wish that Buffy was split from her Slayer powers, because there’s no part of her he’s not in love with, and Slayer-ness is a part of her. “You keep thinking I don’t get that, but I do.” Which would be super sweet, except that he literally gets upset about her strength and independence like, every episode.
- In the scenes with both Xanders, one of them is played by Kelly Donovan, Nicholas Brendon’s identical twin (and his stunt double!).
- Whoa, Anya wants to have a threesome with both Xanders–kinky!
- Xander tells Riley that he envies him being with Buffy–not because Xander’s into Buffy, not at all, but “for the sanity,” because Anya is apparently insane. There are so many levels of terribleness to this comment, I don’t know where to begin.
- I love this little moment at the end with Riley, when he gives a speech about how lucky he is to be with Buffy, and then says, matter-of-factly, “But she doesn’t love me.” I don’t care about Riley, but that’s pretty sad!