Thursday, 5 July 2012
BUFFY 5.3: THE REPLACEMENT
“Kill us both, Spock!”
WRITER: Jane Espenson
DIRECTOR: James A. Contner
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
A glowy faced demon called Toth is gunning for the Buffster and attacks her at the city dump. But Xander gets in the way and the demon’s energy blast knocks him flying. Toth flees and a dazed Xander is retrieved by his friends and taken home. However, later on, a second Xander awakens in the same spot at the dump where first Xander fell. Second Xander is all nervous and afraid and accident prone. He rushes off, only to find the other Xander appears to be living his life better than him. Other Xander seems more confident, more sure of himself, able to get what he wants. After a brief confrontation between the Xanders they each rush off to seek help, shocked by the encounter and convinced that the other is a demonic imposter. Confident Xander beats nervous Xander to Buffy so nervous Xander goes to see Willow. Both Buffy and Willow believe their Xanders are the ‘real’ Xander. In the meantime, nervous Xander, afraid for Anya, rushes off to stop his ‘imposter’ from meeting Anya at the new apartment he is renting. Meanwhile Buffy and Willow meet up with Giles who figures out what has happened. It seems Toth wanted to split the Slayer in to two separate physical personas: the first would be entirely human, while the second would be entirely slayer. Kill the human and the slayer part could not survive alone. Worried for Xander(s) the gang rushes off to stop him…them from doing something drastic and potentially fatal.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
Ah, the old doppelganger/split personality tale. Trek did it brilliantly with the classic The Enemy Within (which this ep amusingly references in a roundabout way). Buffy even did it already…sort of…with Vampire Willow. Its one of those great genre staples that most shows will get around to doing at some point. And why not? It can make for great dramatic possibilities, a great chance to break down the human psyche, to see what makes us tick. Or, if you’re Buffy the Vampire Slayer, just an excuse to get Nick Brendon to act goofy and make the audience laugh. It’s a nice way to look at Xander in his many aspects – goofy nerd, witty charmer, loving boyfriend, loyal friend, confident young man, frightened child. But let’s not get too deep here. Mostly The Replacement is just an excuse for a Xander comedy episode. And that is perfectly fine. Two Xander’s for the price of one. Cool.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
WHY IT ROCKS
It’s a Xander comedy episode written by the great Jane Espenson. What more do you need? Okay, specifics…
The Snoopy Dance. To prove to Willow he’s the real Xander, Xander tells her how every Christmas they get together and Watch A Snoopy Christmas and Xander always does the Snoopy Dance for her…which he goes on to demonstrate.
Nicholas Brendon. He does a great job portraying both Xanders (as does his real life Twin brother Kelly) and once more proves what a gifted comedy actor he is.
Anya wanting to keep the two Xanders for a while to engage in some unspecified sexual exploits. Needless to say the gang says no.
Xander owns a set of Babylon 5 commemorative plates.
Riley’s confession to Xander at episode’s end is kinda sad and ends what was a fun frothy episode on an unexpected but effective downer.
WHY IT SUCKS
This is essentially the last proper Xander comedy episode the show ever did. And that sucks.
The Snoopy Dance
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Xander: I wish I had something food-like to offer you guys, but the hot plate's out of commission.
Anya: We think the cat peed on it.
Xander: Yeah, maybe it's definitely time to start looking for a new place. Something a little nicer. Buffy, you've been to Hell, they have one-bedrooms, right?
Riley: (at the City Dump): What are you doing here, Spike?
Spike: Oh, there's a nice lady vampire who's set up a tea room over by the next pile of crap. What do you think I'm doing?
Lame 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.
Buffy (about the two Xanders acting quite alike): They're kinda the same now.
Giles: Yes, he's clearly a bad influence on himself.
Giles: We just need to arrange the candles. Also, we should pretend we heard none of the disturbing sex talk.
Willow: Check. Candles and pretence.
Anya (about the spell to rejoin the Xanders): Well, what do we do if it doesn't work?
Both Xanders (shouting together geekily) KILL US BOTH, SPOCK!
AND ANOTHER THING
The Babylon 5 plates Xander says he owns do not exist. They were planned but never produced. Shame.
Nicholas Brendon has an identical twin brother called Kelly Donovan who doubles him in several of the scenes in this ep thus not needing split screen. The brothers’ last name is actually Shultz; Donovan and Brendon are their middle names.
HOW MANY STAKES?
Two Xanders for the price of one. 3.5 stakes (out of 5)