Hell's Bells

Written by Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by David Solomon

Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Perri's Review

Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: If you missed the whole Buffy/Spike shagging thing, where have you been? Xander and Anya got engaged, then went insane, Tara and Willow broke up, then Buffy and Spike broke up. I'm still annoyed about the method of the last. Oh, and Halfrek set Dawn up with a vengeance -- ah, 'justice' -- wish.

Willow stares straight ahead, her face a mask of horror. "It's hideous," she whimpers to Buffy. "I know," Buffy agrees, her face equally horrified, but resigned. "But it's my duty. I'm Buffy the bridesmaid." I don't know, I'd rather face a demon than these monstrosities of bridesmaid dresses. Think radioactive dark sea-green satin and taffeta. With light green ruffles from knee to hem, and shoulder to elbow. And a tulle rose at the shoulder. And probably butt-bows. With every moment, I become more grateful that Val made the bridesmaids gowns when we got Tina and Adam hitched. [And yeah, I was thinking about that a lot during this review. The ep is funny by itself; if you've recently been in a wedding, it's hysterical.]

Anyway, Buffy and Willow commiserate about the suckiness of their attire, which Willow, as Best Man, thinks she shouldn't have to wear ("Well, maybe if I ask Anya, I can still go with the traditional blood larvae and burlap."). Buffy defends Anya's taste on the grounds that she's stressed; the relatives have descended en masse, and apparently, the rehearsal dinner was quite the experience. Harris' intermingling with demons (explained as "circus folk") and the demons were the more well-mannered. The Harris' were mostly drinking, as evidenced by Mr. Harris throwing up in Buffy's purse. Anya appears at the door in her dressing gown and stops to look at them with a gasp. They perk up for one moment, hoping for the return of sanity and a reprieve. Hope is cruelly dashed when Anya declares, "You guys look so beautiful!" and sweeps them into a teary bridal hug. "This is the happiest day of my life!" she declares, as the girls shrug in resignation and thunder rolls outside.

Back at Casa Xander, he's searching for his cufflinks and trying not to let his relatives drive him crazy. Er. The notorious Uncle Rory is less than useful, Cousin Carol is eyeing one of the demons, Krelvin, askance, while asking to be set up with him, and Mr. and Mrs. Harris are busy playing Drunken Obnoxious Man ("I mean no disrespect, of course. I'm sure you come from a long, proud line of geeks.") and Martyr Mom ("...since I won't be in any of the pictures.") for all they're worth. Xander finds his cufflinks on Cousin Carol's ears, and ignores everything else through sheer willpower. "Nothing on Earth can stop this wedding now." Xander, Xander, Xander... have you learned nothing in six years?!? Outside, the thunder crashes again, and an old man in a trenchcoat walks out of thin air, outlined in red flames. Looking around him, he puts up a red umbrella and walks off through the rain.

Fortunately, Xander has people waiting at the church to really help him prepare -- namely, Buffy, who struggles valiantly to get his cummerbund fastened. Someone's been hitting the cheesy chips a little heavy lately. Slayer strength gets the job done, and Buffy assaults his bow tie. "You look great, Mr. About to Get Married," she sniffles slightly. "You're glowing. Oh my god - maybe you're pregnant!" Xander smiles. "Maybe. I don't know. Maybe I'm just happy." Buffy gets more sniffly. "You and Anya give me hope. It's like you two are proof that there's light at the end of this very long, long, nasty tunnel." She conceded defeat on the bow tie and turns the job over to the best man -- who is currently using getting Anya dressed as an excuse to mac on her ex. She and Tara exchange significant looks as Anya works on her wedding vows. ("I, Anya, promise to love you, to cherish you, to honor you, but not to obey you, of course, because that's anachronistic and misogynistic, and who do you think you are, like a sea captain or something?" The other two are having more problems stifling giggles than messing with the dress.) The handmaids finish and step back to enjoy the effect (attempting to ignore the curlers and eye mask). Fashion commentary -- on anyone else, the dress would look ridiculous; picture the bridesmaid's dresses in white, only strapless, skintight, and with more ruffles at the bottom. Anya looks like a stunning, classy mermaid. And has to be forcibly restrained from running off to see Xander. "It's just that I'm so excited, and I want to share it all with my best friend. I get to be with my best friend forever!"

Guests begin filing into the church, tastefully decorated with at least one veil-draped moosehead, and Dawn retreats from Uncle Rory, who is attempting to pick up one of the caterers while expounding on his days as a taxidermist. So she's at the door to greet D'Hoffryn and Halfrek (who appears to have chosen to wear one of the bridesmaid dresses) when they arrive. "May the love we celebrate today avoid an almost inevitable decline," he announces, handing over a rather squirmy and growly present. D'Hoffryn takes Halfrek off before she can make it a working holiday. Spike shows up with a Bored GothChick of the first degree; he's got something to prove, oh yes. < rolling eyes > No one's particularly impressed, but Dawn allows him to keep his illusions and retreats again. The mingling is... interesting. Clem manages to hold forth on clowning as an ancient way, bless him, but the Harris' continue to be obnoxious. Xander continues to hyperventilate as the donning of the tuxedo concludes. He and Buffy embrace, then rehearse the rules (Xander: "Number 1..." Buffy: "Don't let your dad near the bar." Xander: "Check. Number 2..." Buffy: "Don't let your mom near the bar." Xander: "Check.") before Dawn arrives with news of Spike's date. Buffy blinks, but adjusts; Xander has to visibly prepare himself before he dives into the meet-and-greet with his relatives. He wasn't prepared enough; he doesn't get very far before the old guy in the trenchcoat grabs him (along with 12 other people who all have issues they want him to deal with), and drags him aside. ""You can't get married today, it's a huge mistake!" Xander blinks at him, trying to brush him off. "You don't recognize me, do you? I sounds crazy, but your have to believe me -- I'm Xander Harris. I'm you."

Obviously, this doesn't thrill Xander, but the old guy persists in informing Xander that he's Xander from the Future, come to warn Xander about his horrible future. As Xander gets steadily more hyper, Mr. Harris stands up from the bar (Xander: "Is wear I told that guy, no drinking before the ceremony!") and proceeds to begin delivering a rambling, drunken toast. Old Guy Xander pulls "proof" out of his pocket -- a globe with something purple and swirly inside. He leads Xander away as Mr. Harris' toast continues, insulting his wife extremely thoroughly, then moving on to insult his son's soon-to-be-in-laws. (Demon: "My suckers are starting to twitch...") As one of the demons advanced to formally remove Mr. Harris' ability to speech, Buffy sweeps in and makes off with the offender, who doesn't have the sense to shut up while he still can. "What do you say we slip in the back room and I show you my..." Buffy: "You finish that sentence, and I guarantee you won't have anything to show."

In a quiet room, Old Guy Xander and cradles the globe in his hands. "Look at it, and you'll see what I've seen. Feel what I've felt." The glowey purple swirls do their thing as the glow expands, a beam of purple light lances up to Xander's forehead. There's a flash, and he dissolves into the globe... ...And is ensconced in an armchair, still in his tux, watching a football game and yelling irritatingly for Anya. Two brat kids, the littler girl with demon ears, come running through, before Anya appears, getting dressed for work. "What?" she asks flatly. They have a brief and bitter exchange regarding Anya working and Xander not being able to, since "my back's shot." Anya takes the opportunity to yell at him for helping Buffy fight demons... especially since it didn't save her. Xander drinks his beer as Anya leaves. "I hope you crash in your stupid pink car!" he yells after her... ....And he sits in his rumpled tux next to a much older Anya in a restaurant, across from their teenage children. Who continue to be bickering brats who need to be drowned. Xander's refereeing consists of telling them pointedly to talk to their mother about being a demonic freak. She responds only that he's had too much wine. Their burgeoning fight is cut off by their daughter informing Xander that she's knows he's not her real dad, and she hates them both, and wishes they'd die, before she storms off. Another pleasant Harris dinner.... ..."If you're so unhappy, why didn't you leave?" Xander, his tux open and battered, demands of his quite old wife. "I wanted to," she responds bitterly. He accuses her of cheating on him, she shoots back that she didn't have any choice, since he wouldn't come near her after Buffy died. Xander cuts her off with an agonized, "Don't bring her into this!" Anya: "Fine. Forget her. Maybe you were just born to be an angry, bitter old man." He tells her to shut up, she screams that she wants her life back. "If hadn't married you, I wouldn't have had to hate myself for the last 30 years!" Xander screams, "Shut uuup!" and he grabs a frying pan and swings it... And Xander shakes his head as the light fades away, leaving him staring, tux intact, mind reeling. "You can change things, Old Guy Xander tells him. "It doesn't have to go like this. But you can't marry Anya.... Sometimes two people... all they bring each other is pain." Xander tries desperately not to believe.

Buffy continues guest patrol, and runs into Spike, temporarily dateless, as she makes her rounds. She has the guts to walk over and talk to him, probably helped by the fact that he looks so cute and vulnerable. [Hush. Just hush. I'm entitled to allow my hormones to be manipulated if I want!] They make small talk for a few minutes, before Spike brings up his date. Buffy smiles. "She seems like a very nice attempt at making me jealous." To Spike's credit, he doesn't bother with the denial. "Is it working?" And to Buffy's credit, she admits: "A little. It doesn't change anything but, if you're wildly curious, yeah, it hurts." "Sorry," Spike apologizes reflexively, then amends, "Oh, good!" Yeah, Spike, you're evil. We know. < rolling eyes > Buffy laughs, but doesn't take Spike up on his offer to leave. "God, this is hard," he sighs. "I'll just go, give my best... whatever..." He starts to leave, then adds, "It's nice to watch you be happy. For them, even. I don't see it a lot. You, uh... you glow." Buffy is touched, but responds honestly: "That's because the dress is radioactive." Spike laughs, and she starts to leave. "But it hurts?" Spike stops her. Buffy: "Yeah." Spike: "... Thanks." He drags his date out behind him.

Willow tracks Xander down where he's pacing, worried and confused, in the kitchen. "I'll say this for the Y chromosome -- looks good in a tux." Xander forces a smile: "Well, your double Xs don't look too bad there, either." She starts fussing with his tux in a moment of 'you're getting married' realization. "It's a good thing I realized I was gay. Otherwise, hey, you, me and formal wear..." They embrace in a sweet best friends moment, before Willow leaves him to "practice my vows." Anya (looking steadily more amazing) is still working on hers and they're getting better, except for the use of phrases like "sex poodle". Fortunately, Tara is contributing helpful commentary. The music starts up outside and Buffy is ready to bring Anya out, when Willow drags her into the hall. "He's gone. Xander's disappeared!"

Willow races out to look for Xander, leaving Buffy behind to stall. Because, of course, dissembling, bluffing and otherwise lying is something Buffy is so good at, which she proceeds to prove by making up a story about ministers running late because they had to perform emergency C-sections. Fortunately, Anya is too stressed to actually pay attention to anything other than finally getting those vows right. "I love you, and I will always love you. Before I knew you, I was a completely different person -- not even a person, really. I'd seen what love could do to people, and it was hurt and sadness. Alone was better. And then... suddenly there was you. And you knew me. You saw me. And it was this... thing. You made me feel safe and warm, so... I get it now. I finally get love, Xander. I really do."

Outside, the natives are getting restless, and Buffy inadvertently sets off the musicians by coming down the aisle. She holds a rushed conversation with the minister, then turns an extremely bright and fake smile on the assembled guests as she heads back out. Anya's finally starting to loose her mind ("What was the minister thinking, delivering a baby on my special day? And the mother! Why couldn't he have just told her to hold it?!?") Mr. Harris has made his way to the bar, and is in the process of blaming everything on Anya: "She made us pay for the whole thing and now she's gonna louse it up! Women!" Halfrek is starting a hissy fit, and then goes off into parental-issue sulking when D'Hoffryn says he's worried about Anya. D'Hoffryn assures her, "Oh, Halfrek. You know I love all my demons equally," and they exchange looks. Xander's Cousin Carol asks Buffy to do something to calm the riot waiting to happen; Buffy swallows hard, takes the mic, and begins, "So. Who here is from out of town?", before heading into charades. Dawn, at least, is having a good time bonding with a cute teenage demon guys about who has the most screwed-up family. And Anya has had enough. With Tara trailing behind her, she strides through the halls, declaring, "We'll just have to get married without a minister!" Buffy has resorted to juggling when the other two pairs intersect in the front hall -- unfortunately just as Dawn is informing her new friend, "The groom took off and no one can find him."

Anya stops dead, and demands, "Xander's gone? Xander's missing? What do you mean Xander's missing?" she demands loud enough for the entire assemblage to hear. Mr. Harris tries to believe it's a joke, and starts one of his 'funny' anecdotes. The tentacled (and bored) demon he faced off with earlier snarks back, Mr. Harris (literally) rises to the bait, and before anyone can blink, the first punch is thrown. Buffy watches from behind the mic as a glorious Harris-versus-demons donnybrook begins. Willow pulls Tara out and the pair retreats, as Anya wanders heedlessly through the fight looking for Xander. "I saw him going into the trophy room with that guy," Cousin Carol says, pointing her toward Old Guy Xander who is standing in the back. Anya makes beeline for him as the riot continues around her, demanding to know what he said to Xander. "Doesn't matter now, does it? It's done." Anya reiterates her demands for information. "Or what?" Old Guy Xander shoots back. "You haven't changed. Still as vindictive as ever." Anya doesn't recognize him, but he sure knows her. "He left because of you." Anya gets teary-eyed. "I didn't do anything." Old Guy Xander: "Oh, really? What about this?" And as she watches, he suddenly stretches and grows into one serious big-n-ugly demon. Now there's a shocker.

"Tell me what you did to Xander! What are you?" Anya yells, less interested in the transformation than in her groom's whereabouts. "You did this to me," the demon relies. Remember ol' Olaf the Troll? Meet another of Anya's vengeance victims -- Chicago, South Side, 1914. Stewart Burns, philanderer. He got demonized and sent to be tortured in another dimension. Buffy has finally seen what's going on, as Stewart baby tells her how long he's been waiting for his revenge, and about the phony visions he showed Xander. He neglects to give any details, of course, telling Anya he'd shown Xander his nightmare vision of their future. "That's all you did?" Anya asks, beginning to sob. Stewart: "Yeah. It was easy." He gloats, then attacks. Buffy returns the assault immediately, but he manages to get his claws on Anya during her emergency alteration of the Bridesmaid Dress From Hell so she can fight. Xander races through the door at the same time, shouting Anya's name. The distraction is enough to give Buffy a clear shot, and the two begin fighting as Anya rushes to tell Xander, "It was all lies. What he showed you, it wasn't true, none of it!" Which is cool and all, but Xander tells her, "It doesn't mater now." Buffy shoves her way between them to grab the veil from the moose head, and races back to strangle the demon with it. Xander wraps the whole thing up with a blow from one of the fake white pillars, which he then uses to crush the demon's head. The room breaks into applause as the wedding party stares at the body. Willow finally asks, "Is anyone waiting for it to go "poof"? Maybe we can cover it with flowers?"

The guests start to resume their seats peacefully, so, of course, that's when Mr. Harris makes his drunken appearance. "look at this mess. I'm not paying for this, you freaks!" Krelvyn goes after him, and the riot resumes until Anya screams for them to stop. "everyone, sit down! This wedding will go on, so get back in your seats!" They obey (wouldn't you?!?), and the bride and groom steal a quiet moment by the door. "It's okay, Xander. it's all over now. It was just smoke and mirrors." But as she starts to drag Xander to the alter, he holds back. "I... I'm not... I'm not ready," he finally manages to say, his eyes wide with fear and his voice shaking. "I can't, Ahn. I'm sorry." What the demon showed them wasn't real, but it could be, Xander tells her. "It wasn't you I was hating. I had these thoughts and fears before this. Maybe we just went too fast." Anya: "Everyone has... It's natural. It doesn't mean getting married is wrong. Just suck it up. Just calm down and we'll start over." Xander looks over at his terrifying relatives. "We can't start over. If this is a mistake, it's forever, and I don't want to hurt you. Not that way." He lets her hand, still holding her bouquet, drop. "I'm sorry. I am so sorry." He's close to sobs, and she's already there, as she turns away. He watches her for a moment, then leaves, as the musicians strike up, and Anya slowly, shakily, tearfully, makes her way down the aisle.

The surviving members of the bridal party gather later, but there's nothing they can do: Anya wants to be alone. They can only brood on the one relationship they all thought would make it, and what that means as a sign for their own futures. "The whole thing hurts my heart.... They were supposed to be my light at the end of the tunnel," Buffy says unhappily. "Guess they were a train." Willow: "I feel like I should be hating Xander... but I can't. I just hope he's okay." Xander has disappeared again, checking into a motel room by himself. And Anya sits in a dark room, still in her wedding dress, as D'Hoffryn circles her. He almost sounds concerned when he asks if she's okay. "I'm tired of crying," she responds. "So tired." D'Hoffryn: "Oh, Anya. I'm sorry. But you let him domesticate you. When you were a vengeance demon, you were powerful, at the top of your game, You crushed men like him. It's time you got back to what you do best -- don't you think?" Anya looks up at him, her attention suddenly caught, even as tears begin drying on her face....


Most of the review coming soon. But I have to say a few things:

Questions and Comments:
I can't tell you how annoyed I am at one scene that was cut from the shooting script, wherein we learn that Giles couldn't attend the wedding because he was fighting demons, but sent all of the flowers decorating the church. Given the heinous amount of Mr. Harris drinking we received instead, I can't help but wonder what the directors/editors were drinking when they thought that was more important than explaining while Xander's real father was present. Much more crucial to everyone involved -- cutting it was just careless and obnoxious!

Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of five. A solid episode to make up for last week's suck-fest, and the train wreck we were all waiting for. < sigh >


"[Gilesness]'d be sooo good but if you read the wildfeed summary (hey, I'm a spoiler slut, I admit it), there is NO Giles. There is no MENTION of Giles. SOB! :( I hope it's wrong!!"
"I'm with Rastro, we got cheated. If this had been a *real* wedding, the designated Watcher of Anya's choice would've shown up to give her away!"
"I agree. OK, I usually miss weddings that involve crossing oceans (one in France a couple of summers ago, one in England in a few weeks), but then I'm not business partner and designated grownup in the life of the parties involved. Besides Tony presumably being tied up with Manchild, maybe Giles would have injected too much sanity and stability into the proceedings. Things might not have gotten so out of control as in a church filled only with demons and Harrises. But, ooooh, ASH in a tux. *sigh*"
"We got *so* cheated! < snarl > Giles should have been there to smack some sense into everyone. Xander and Anya have basically been the grownups this season, and they should have had at least this day. " -- Rastro, Chris, Catherine S. and Tina

"I'm with Willow, my heart's aching for both of them. And did anyone else want to smack Buffy for saying they were supposed to be her light at the end of the tunnel? And earlier, when she immediately (and okay, correctly) figured that Spike was trying to make her jealous by showing up with a date? It's not all about you, Buffy! It's Anya and Xander's day!"
"Yup. We all feel this sometimes, when we hang out with really happy couples, but she vocalized it waaaay too many times. Although Spike did kinda reinforce it. Those of you from FK fandom may remember a certain Nick-centric fan who would keep reminding everyone that "the show is *Forever KNIGHT*, after all." I half expect Buffy to break through the fourth wall and say "Well, it *is* all about me -- the show is *BUFFY the Vampire Slayer* after all." -- Chris and Catherine S.

"*shrug* Not really. That's been the case for a long time, and I can't fault her for needing someone close to her to prove that it really can work. I don't really count the comment as making it all about her, just expressing how it made her feel. That it sucks beyond measure for them was patently obvious and not in need of being said again." -- Val

"Anya looked *stunning*. Really. And I felt so sorry for her, reciting those vows.... "
"I had mixed feelings about the dress, although that lovely wavy veil was really, really nice. It was interesting how the style of her dress, which was attractive, was echoed so clumsily in the bridesmaids' dresses.The bridesmaids' dresses -- wow. Uglier even than any real ones, and that's saying quite a lot. " "These were like parodies of even real bridesmaid's dresses. The lovely way the two greens didn't match, the impossibility of walking, those florettes. The costume designer was having way too much fun." -- Chris, Catherine S. and Dianne

"Xander looked nice. And... if you can't say the words on your wedding day... they shouldn't be said. The guy from "Four Weddings and a Funeral" was spot-on."
"I don't agree with this, because that's when it's the scariest, when it's all hitting you at once. The reality comes in much smaller and more easily digestible pieces."
" I think Xander was being an idiot. It wasn't because he didn't love Anya; it was because he was *afraid*. That's all. And while they're big, huge, screaming fears, you can get past them. And why didn't Willow see this? Everyone was too busy focusing on The Perfect Relationship Of Xander And Anya to see that Xander was too frelling *scared* and to get them into premarital counseling. They needed it." -- Chris, Val and Tina

"I have to say it: I really, really, really want to smack Xander right now. I was afraid he was going to do this. He's had these thoughts. He's articulated these thoughts. Hell, under the influence of the musical, he's articulated them to *Anya*. And he backs out NOW?????? I understand why he did it, but it's still wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Dammit, it's not about being 100% sure things are going to turn out right. NOBODY is that, whatever their background. But there are a million reasons why he is NOT doomed to become his father. Although, until last night, I would have named lack of cowardice as one of them. *huff* *puff* Okay, got that off my chest. *wry g*" -- Val

I just intensely want to strangle his father. And smack his Uncle Rory. And shake his mother and ask her why she doesn't leave the jerk already, and why did she wear black to her son's wedding? or was that just me again?" "It's not just you. Even if the answer is probably that it's slimming."
"Yes with the leaving, but I think she wore navy blue, and she looked gorgeous. But I don't have a problem with wearing black to a wedding--it's very formal, after all, and hey, the *groom* wears black, so why can't the guests?"
"By the credits I was in awe that he'd managed to survive his family at all. Damn, you always kind of thought he was exaggerating his relatives -- at least a little -- but no... I see why he spent as much time as possible with Willow and camped out every Christmas!" -- Chris, Val, Tina and Dianne

"Does anyone else smell a HUGE setup on D'Hoffryn's part? Not out of malice, really, but out of a genuine desire to give Anya her job back? He's sort of demon middle management, after all; and I think his assurance to Halfrek about "I love all my demons equally" was very telling. He's the boss who really has the best interest of his employees at heart, but whose authority only goes so far, because of upper management whims or regulation compliance or both. If the rules said Anya had to be sacked for losing her power center, his hands were tied. But according to the same rules (going by what we saw in "Something Blue"), she can be re-recruited for showing desire and talent for vengeance. From his point of view, as a hormonal adolescent human female, she was *bound* to be suitably wronged by some hormonal adolescent male in pretty short order, thus tidily taking care of the technicalities and getting her back on the team where she belonged. Except that she fell for Xander, who *hasn't* suitably wronged her...until now. It obviously never occurred to D'Hoffryn for a second (nor should we expect it to -- he is what he is) that it might be in her best interest to be human and happy with Xander for the rest of their natural lives. So, on the wedding day, some bozo who's been off getting tortured and letting that grudge fester in the demon dimension where Anya sent him just *conveniently* shows up? Not buying that one for a second. And with even a sliver of luck, Anya's smart enough to realize all of the above. Maybe not right away, especially with her current emotional state rendering her understandably mostly incapable of thought. Especially since, in the true Buffy tradition of irony, this is happening just as she's really starting to fathom human motivations more readily than demonic ones. But I'm betting she'll figure it out without it being shoved in her face. Question is, will she take the job first? And will she be able to quit once she does? Or, perhaps more importantly, will it shift her psychological paradigms back to demon so she won't *want* to quit?" -- Val

"And whoa, whoa, *whoaaaa*... no, no no no no, Anya, don't go back to vengeance! That's bad!"
"It would be interesting if she started down that route for awhile, only to change her mind voluntarily this time. After all, the only reason she stopped wreaking vengeance in the first place is when Giles destroyed her power center."
No, no. She's not going to, it's a total fake out. She's not angry or bitter or betrayed enough to forget that she's still in love and she _does_ "get it" now. And she doesn't want to understand Xander's reasons, but I think she does-- not agree, but understand. At one point I was convinced Halfrek &/or D'Hoffryn had actually set it up to 'undomesticate' and re-recruit her, and I know she's gonna turn him down." -- Chris, Catherine S. and Dianne

"Frankly I thought D'Hoffryn was a little TOO in the wedding mood to trust him. Loved when he gave Dawn the whole god of matrimony blessing thing, told Hallie to relax and enjoy - after all, they weren't working (wink, wink). I'd wouldn't be surprised if he was the one who had the bright idea for told Hallie to try undermining Anya's confidence in the first place (when they had their girly chat over tea a few weeks back)." -- Deb

"I somehow never figured they would actually end up married. Xander's too young and Anya's still getting accustomed to being human and after all, none of the Scoobies ever get "that perfect moment." I do hope they get back together. Although the show doesn't have a great track record for such things. Willow and Oz survived their initial breakup, but only temporarily, and Buffy and Angel rambled along dysfunctionally for awhile but things were never the same. Anya's statement . . . "I get to be with my best friend forever" -- very touching and . . . ouch." -- Catherine S.

"Xander has obviously been feeling these things for a long time. It's just that he got caught up in the wedding machinery -- once that creaks into place, it's hard to stop the momentum. The one thing that's bothered me all along about this is how Anya fell right into that stereotype of being the wedding-hungry woman, while Xander was dragging his heels. At least, though, Anya has the excuse of a somewhat unique set of life experiences." -- Catherine S.

"I do want to slap him and I don't. And probably for different reasons. I always assumed that Xander would choke if his family was present at the time. If they'd eloped, I suspect he would have been fine. And now, I'm starting to type in a the stream of consciousness so I'm likely to wander, blather and contradict myself. Beware of falling rocks :-) I had great hope for the actual wedding to take place when Xander and Anya had that heart to heart talk in the bathroom last week. I'd never assumed Xander's problems were really with the wedding planning - or at least not more than your average groom's problems and confusion. And that bathroom conversation made that clear. Xander's view was "Wedding Schmedding - it's the marriage that is important". And sitting there, just the two of them he knew that and was confident enough in it to assure Anya to relax. But they couldn't stay in there forever and faced with his family at it's worst (which seemed to be par for the course for them), Xander froze. No, I can't slap him for being afraid when they are right in front of him. Xander has always been afraid of what his family is, what they represent about him and what he may become, of being like them. That's why he's spent so much time with Willow and later, Willow and Buffy or anywhere else but with his family. The audience never saw them because of how LITTLE interaction he allowed to occur and when he just mentioned them he always made a joke out of them. It always seemed he was afraid of them than any demon he's ever faced and he's been waging an internal war with himself about them since childhood - longer than Buffy's been fighting demons. If he was exhibiting signs of having gotten over it lately, I credit Anya and his relationship with her for making him at least believe in the possibility that he would be OK. (because I think he wanted to believe it for her sake as much as for his). He tried. He tried for a long time but he kept trying to do it alone and he couldn't do it. Which is not to say that I don't have slaps I would like to administer. I do." -- Deb

"In a way, I wanted to slap Willow for not seeing more clearly what happened with Xander but of course she's busy being a recovered magicholic and mad flirt so she didn't see it. But she knows of old what Xander's parents are like and knows more than anyone else what the true situation is, what lengths he goes to in order to avoid them. Now, I'm not saying she knows 100% (because who ever does know anyone else's situation 100%) and that's why I wanted to slap HIM. I wanted to slap Xander for not letting Willow - or anyone but especially her - see it. Not asking or demanding she help him - but he doesn't do that. When Tara finally faced down her nightmare family, she had everyone's backing, all the support anyone could want. But Xander never let anyone know how bad it was or what he needed. I don't even think it occurred to him that he might benefit from telling someone. Now that I think of it in a broader sense, I don't recall Xander ever ASKING for help before on anything. There's always discussion about Buffy not telling her friend's what's going on with her but Xander's situation - I think - it a result of him doing the same thing."
"Really, really, really good point. Especially ironic since he's been the one to give Buffy the "if stuff is going on, you TELL us about it" talk a couple times. *sigh* Like I said, I totally understand why he did it. But I still want to slap sense into him in the sense of wanting to find *some* way to make him understand why he probably couldn't become his dad at this point if he TRIED. And also for taking off and hiding in a crummy hotel room, the better to ensure that nobody can find him and maybe find a way to actually convince him of that fact. After everything he's done in the past two years to prove to himself and everyone else that he can actually succeed at this wacky thing called life, and in fact get further toward that goal by age 21 than anyone in his family apparently ever has, he's at the edge of throwing it all away. Not just Anya, all of it. He's all but decided being a potential failure is the same as being an actual one. And maybe it's temporary (more to the point, it damn well BETTER be temporary!!), but I still want to grab him and shake him for it. The way he's acting *now* is what runs the best chance of ruining his life for sure, completely aside from catalyzing Anya to quite possibly ruin hers. And she just *got* one!!*sigh* Man, I knew this wasn't gonna go smoothly by any stretch of the imagination. I even thought the chances of him backing out at the last minute were pretty damn good. But I refused to believe he wouldn't realize what a monumentally bigger mistake that was." -- Deb and Val

"I think one of the most telling things was that the most horrific thing he could imagine (assuming -- as I do -- that FauxXander did not have a videocube in his hand but rather a nightmare inducer) was hurting Anya. Not that their lives *would* become too stressful if he's never that sucessful, not that they have a half-demon daughter whose obviously not his, but when he snaps out of his dream state, it is completely, "Oh my God! Is Anya all right?" The asshole Anyanka cursed into a demon dimension was all about blaming the woman. Xander blamed himself. So he pulled a freak-and-run rather than risking hurting Anya." -- Lizbet

"The scene with Will and Xander was very sweet. *sigh* We don't get enough of those two...."
"It was, indeed. And, come on, Will, just 'cause the last person you fell for was a woman doesn't negate an entire childhood of Xander-longing. I know Willow keeps making sweeping statements about "I'm gay" but she seems very good at loving, whichever the gender . . . Xander, Oz, Tara . . . " -- Chris and Catherine S.

"The Buffy/Spike scenes were also nicely played. They weren't spitting and snarling the way they did when they were actually together; they talked as people and it was sweet the way he admitted his motivation up front and she was able to admit she was a little jealous instead of calling him evil and a monster....The Buffy/Spike fans I've spoken to have been so upset about what's going on in the past couple of eps, but if anything the breakup and current communication seems healthier for them than what had been going on. The honesty that's happening now . . . wow." -- Catherine S.

"Did no one frelling *think* to have Tara ward the place against magic? Or do a demon-revealing spell in case there were disguises? Though, dude, if someone came up claiming to be me in the future, I'd have been, like, "Okay, name such and such and such past event and which obscure family member is over there leering at the wedding cake, huh, pal?" Because no demon's gonna know *everything* about you." -- Tina

"But Clem has book learning. About the Commedia and all. Oddly enough, I *like* Clem. I was hoping he'd bring Sophie as his date." -- Tina

"They shoulda eloped." -- Tina

"Feeling emotionally blank. Yup."
"Oh yeah. Replying to this post, I'm realizing how much I liked the ep, but at the time, it all felt very flat. And sad."
"Aw... < pat, pat > Not me, actually... just a cool roller coaster of emotions and couples in different stages of love and sweet and cute... and ow and sad and wistful and delayed and trying again and on hold and everything. < shrug > I hurt for Anya and Xander, but I actually feel pretty o.k. about the ep. :)" -- Chris, Catherine S. and Dianne

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