Saturday, 15 November 2014
BUFFY: 6.16 ‘HELL'S BELLS’
Buffy & Spike
WRITER: Rebecca Rand Kirshner
DIRECTOR: David Solomon
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
It's Xander and Anya's wedding day. The bride and bridegroom's families are all there with tension between them mostly exasperated by Xander's ghastly father who spends his time being rude, obnoxious and drunk. Pre-wedding jitters are present too which only get worse when a mysterious old man turns up and secretly tells Xander that he is in fact old Xander from the future come back in time to warn his younger self not to marry Anya as their life together will be hellish and awful and that he'll end up hurting her in the worst of ways. Seriously spooked young Xander takes off leaving poor Anya unaware of the situation and Buffy and Willow panicking as to what to do next.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
It's pretty obvious – the fear of commitment, of creating a binding future together and all that doing so entails. It's been subtly and not so subtly portrayed throughout the season that both Anya and Xander have issues with each other, fears about their future together. He can often show her little respect in public, correcting her, siding with others against her. And she can be borderline obsessive and needy. Many of these issues were aired in Once More With Feeling so it should come as no real surprise what happens in this ep. Though when it does it is still horrible and ghastly thing to do to someone you are supposed to love.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
Old 'Xander', Xander's ghastly family, and Xander himself. Oh, the toxic looking bridesmaids dresses are pretty darn scary too.
WHY IT ROCKS
Emma & Nicky – both Emma Caulfield and Nicky Brendon are great. Anya is so weirdly cute and sweet especially when practicing her rather un-PC vows. And when she realises at the end what is happening the look on her face might just put a crack in your stony old heart.
SMG juggles – Yep, SMG is a good juggler (who knew?) and gets a chance to show off while Buffy tries her best to entertain the waiting guests as Willow hunts for Xander.
Spike – Okay, no idea who actually invited him. But his attempt to make Buffy jealous by bringing a date and then owning up to it along with his and Buff's subsequent borderline affectionate truce is kinda sweet.
Emotionally invested – it is telling how much we have invested in these characters, so much so that to many of us they feel like genuine family or friends. And when what happens happens as a result we really do feel the hurt of it. Poor An.
WHY IT SUCKS
Story (lack of) – There isn't much to the story here. The basic plot of the old Xander thing ends up being a non-event and paper thin not to mention all the wedding farce clichés we've seen a million times before get trotted out of storage for use here.
Light on the funny – not much in the way of witty sparking dialogue here. A few chuckles but nothing to write home about.
Weddings – I'm someone who doesn't have much patience for weddings and all the hoopla that goes on around them. Thankfully the Anya/Xander one is a pretty low grade affair so not much silly extravagance to annoy me. But wedding shenanigans can still grate
Spike – Yeah, I know. I love Spike...but who actually invited him? Xander hates him and wouldn't want him anywhere near his big day. Plus it's broad daylight and he appears not to have a blanket (just a trashy looking date designed to make Buff jealous) so why isn't he roasting nicely?
Bad Xander – Look, I love the Xan man...but really?? What he does here is pretty much unforgivable. And his reasons are the lamest, most self centered baloney possible. It was his idea to get hitched. So he's just been stringing poor An along all this time? Jeez!
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Xander: I must wear das cummerbund!
Anya: 'I, Anya, promise to cherish you...' Ew, no, not cherish. Uh, 'I promise... to have sex with you whenever... I want, and, uh... uh, pledge to be your friend, and your wife, and your confidant, and your sex poodle...'
AND ANOTHER THING
SMG's talent as a juggler was especially incorporated into the script.
In a scripted but unfilmed scene, it was revealed that Giles remained in England to fight demons, and was thus unable to attend. But he did pay for all the flowers.
We finally get to meet Xander's legendary Uncle Rory who has been name checked several times throughout the series. Uncle Rory was always the black sheep of the family and Xander first referred to him in Season 2's The Dark Age as, "The stodgiest taxidermist you'll ever meet by day. By night it was booze, whores and fur flying."
George D. Wallace, who plays 'old' Xander, had a long career in Hollywood appearing in many films and TV shows. One of his early and notable appearances was as the Bosun in the scifi classic Forbidden Planet alongside Walter Pidgeon and Leslie Nielsen.
HOW MANY STAKES?
Bad Xander! 2 (out of 5)