Today, I explain why I think Xander’s role in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Once More, With Feeling” didn’t work.
In Remember to Forget, we spotlight pop culture stories that I wish I could forget, but I can’t, so I instead share them with you all, so you’re stuck in the same boat as me!
SPOILERS FOR BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER’S SEASON 6 EPISODE, “ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING”
Now, right off the bat, I’ll admit that my position here is less severe than some of my other Remember to Forget takes. As I’ve noted before, if it is something like, VERY offensive, that’s Things That Turned Out Bad, while if it is just something that slightly irked me, it’s Disgrace Distract and Bother Me, while Remember to Forget is somewhere in the middle there. I still think this applies, but I’ll concede that it closer to the lesser-type of annoyance than some of my other ones (like that Penny one on The Big Bang Theory really irks me).
Okay, so let’s get right to it – in the classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Once More, With Feeling,” someone summons the demon, Sweet, who turns Sunnydale into a movie musical, with everyone singing and dancing about their inner conflicts. However, eventually, people begin to dance themselves to death.
In the end, when Sweet arrives to take Dawn as his bride (as she is wearing the talisman that was used to summon him), Xander is revealed to be the one who summoned Sweet. Sweet agrees to just leave, as he doesn’t want to take Xander as his bride, and things go back to normal, except everyone now knows each other’s inner conflicts (so they’re, you know, no longer “inner” conflicts).
However…Xander…what the heck?
He is a well-experienced demon fighter by this point in time (it’s season SIX, after all), so why in the world would he EVER summon a DEMON? Even a musical demon?
He then LIES about it the whole episode, even as people are DYING.
We even see that the singing makes HIM very mad, and yet he doesn’t come clean, when he didn’t even have to confess OUTRIGHT, and could have just claimed he read about a demon like Sweet, but instead, he says NOTHING, as people are dying AND he is personally miserable from the experience (he also lies through the earlier song, “I Got a Theory,” when they try to figure out who is behind the whole thing, which doesn’t make sense, either, as one of the key aspects of the songs is that people are forced to tell the truth, but he expertly lies and acts like he has no ides what is behind this, even when Giles specifically mentions the possibility of a dancing demon being behind everything).
When the truth is revealed, there is NO REPERCUSSIONS from him putting them all in danger due to an idiotic flight of fancy.
None of that works. None of it works at all. It really reads as though Joss Whedon needed SOMEthing to kick off the plot, so threw a dart at a character board and ended up with Xander as the one who caused it. I know some fans have, in their headcanon, claimed that Xander is covering for Dawn (which doesn’t work, since we see her steal the talisman that had already been used to summon Sweet, so it wouldn’t make any sense for her to have stolen the talisman, summoned Sweet with it, brought it back to the magic shop, and then come back the next day to steal it, right?), and that’s fair enough (outside of it not making sense), but that just speaks to how much the episode DIDN’T make sense, that people have to come up with No-Prize explanations for Xander’s behavior.
It just doesn’t work, and it’s particularly grating when the episode is otherwise a classic episode, but that part glaringly doesn’t work.
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