Monday, May 7, 2012

Is this love? ‘Cause maybe on you it doesn’t look all that different…


Today, we’re talking about Xander, who—despite his total idiocy and wrongheadedness—kinda inspires my sympathy in this one.

Thankfully, I didn’t deal with a whole bunch of teen love drama when I was in high school. I wasn’t so thankful at the time, especially since I was at my best weight in high school, though my boobs weren’t as big as they—you know what? Forget I even took that detour…

(Source Whee, a DW gif on a Buffy blog! It’s like a delicious fandom sandwich!)

So, yeah… This episode sort of kind of picks up where Phases left off, in a way, because Xander is still trying to define his relationship, only now the problems arise because Cordelia might not be—strike that, is not comfortable with that yet.

Part of it, of course, is that Cordy is very much a girl defined by her social circle, which is to say she defines herself by her social circle. I’m sure we can all agree that’s a normal thing in adolescence—actually, that’s a normal thing, period. People care what other people think. It’s a thing.

Unfortunately, other people are dicks a lot of the time. A lot. Of the. Time.

Teenagers especially. It’s like their job or something.

So… we have a problem. Cordy’s insecurities mean she panics and dumps Xander (actually, considering what an ass he becomes, I kinda wish the breakup had stuck, but… hindsight and all that) in order to regain her status as Queen C. Xander, in turn, having learned nothing at all from the motherfucking HELLMOUTH, ropes Amy (who has also not learned a goddamn thing from the folly of her mother) into casting a love spell that predictably backfires and turns Xander into some sort of teenage girl catnip.

Yup. That guy.

Actually, it’s all-woman catnip…

…but that way lies psychological trauma, so we’re not even going there.

As the jilted, Xander even has a parallel in Spike, who’s rapidly losing Drusilla’s affection to Angelus.

Spike, however, has to deal with his issues elsewhere because it is late, and I can’t think of a way to relate “not feeling vampire-y enough to compete with your vamp grandfather for your vamp mother/girlfriend’s affections” to the “normal teen rites of passage” theme. I’m gonna have to get back to you on that. Although it’s great for in-universe character-building, so… there’s that.

In this episode, both Xander and Cordy get to do some growing up.

Through his and Amy’s spell, Xander finds out that real, actual love is not a compulsion or a punishment, but a freely given gift. As Giles points out, the “love” that these women feel is not about Xander, Xander is an object to them. Real love should be more about the loved rather than the lover. Xander cast the spell because he was more concerned about how Cordy embarrassed and hurt him, and he never thought about why she would feel like she needed to break up in the first place. It was more about how he felt than what was really wrong.

Hopefully, the experience also taught him how to deal with being hurt in a mature manner, but you’ll understand if I don’t hold my breath on that one…

As for Cordy, she realizes (with a really awesome speech) that her coolness isn’t derived from who she hangs out with, but who she is, and as such, she can date whomever the fuck she decides to date, thankyouverymuch, and the haters can familiarize themselves with the left-hand evacuation procedure.

Of course, seeing as she’s revised her entire worldview, she has a little moment of panic when she realizes what she’s done, but in the end, she’ll be okay.

Xander, you so don’t deserve her.

For now, though, live Hellmouthily ever after.


Stray observations:

  • As I said up there, it’s late, so I’m sorry if all that was a little rambly and incoherent.
  • I don’t know, even if Cordy’s stock has plummeted, it’s a little risky to challenge her. I mean, there’s no way Harmony can fill those Manolos.
  • Both Spike and Xander give their girlfriends necklaces. Aw!
  • …And then Angelus makes everything icky with an actual human heart. What a prince.
  • Although… “I found it in a quaint little shopgirl” was kinda funny.
  • Angelus: Dear Buffy. Hm. I'm still trying to decide the best way to send my regards.
    Spike: Why don't you rip her lungs out? That might make an impression.
    Angelus: Lacks... poetry.
    Spike: Doesn't have to. What rhymes with lungs?
  • Amy is a pretty crap witch, judging by the evidence. For one thing, Diana is not a goddess of love, but goddess of the hunt and the moon. In fact, she once asked her father, Zeus, to be allowed to live without love or marriage, and is well-known as a virgin goddess. No wonder the spell didn’t work.
  • Okay, besides the previous bullet point, other theories why the spell didn’t work: (1) the locket protected Cordelia, (2) Cordelia already loved Xander properly, so she was immune, (3) Xander’s failure at life somehow infected the spell. Number 2 is far-fetched, though… not ‘cause Cordelia couldn’t possibly love Xander, but because the spell worked on Willow and Willow’s loved Xander since childhood, apparently.
  • Rupert Giles: I cannot believe that you are fool enough to do something like this.
    Xander: Oh, no, I'm twice the fool it takes to do somethin' like this.
  • Wait. Every woman in Sunnydale… So does that mean Xander’s mom is…? Oh. Oh, god. I’m sorry for that, really.
  • I have to give Xander credit for not taking advantage of Buffy even though he’s not over her. Maybe he isn’t a complete waste of space. :)
  • “Would you quit with the Hecate?!”
  • Oz punch!
  • “Who died and made you Elvis?”
  • “…And keep your mom-aged mitts off my boyfriend! Former!” Cordy, I love you.
  • “I guess I really did drive you crazy…”
  • Hey, look at that, Xander and Cordy, back in Buffy’s basement!
  • Uh, Xander intending to put a love spell on you is not romantic, Cordy.
  •                             “I seem to be having a slight case of nudity here.”
  • Xander: How much groveling are we talking here?
    Buffy: Oh, a month, at least. Xander, come on, I mean... this is worse for [Willow] than anyone. She loved you before you invoked the Great Roofie Spirit.
  • Cordelia: Do you know what you are, Harmony? You're a sheep.
    Harmony: I'm not a sheep!
    Cordelia: You're a sheep. All you ever do is what everyone else does just so you can say you did it first. And here I am, scrambling for your approval, when I'm way cooler than you are ‘cause I'm not a sheep. I do what I wanna do, and I wear what I wanna wear. And you know what? I'll date whoever the hell I wanna date! No matter how lame he is!


  1. If you really think about it it would have made more sense if Cordy had been under a spell when she got involved with Xander.

    Did BtVS ever formally invoke a Personal Gain prohibition for magic or did they just demonstrate that it usually worked out that way?


    1. For the early days, I think they went with the "show, not tell" approach.