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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hell's Bells

Spike: "It's nice to watch you be happy. For them, even. I don't see it a lot. You glow."
Buffy: "That's because the dress is radioactive."

Did I forget what show I was watching? Did I really think Xander would marry Anya and they would live happily ever after on a show where every romantic relationship breaks up in the most tragic way possible?

Poor Xander. Those artificial flashforwards were majorly depressing, especially with the references to Buffy's death, but they were right on the mark when it came to bringing Xander's fears to the surface. How come it took him so long to realize that marrying a former vengeance demon might not be a good idea? I don't feel quite as bad for Anya. I've always liked the way she talks and she's made a lot of interesting progress as a human, but I've never felt much empathy for her as a character. Her past has been catching up with her for awhile, anyway. Will Anya accept D'Hoffryn's offer? I think she will. If not immediately, then eventually.

There were many touching moments. In particular, I liked Buffy using slayer strength on Xander's cummerbund, Xander and Willow talking and hugging in the kitchen, Anya finally reciting those wonderfully appropriate vows while Xander was walking away in the rain, and Anya, all bloodstained and teary, walking alone down the aisle at the end. I enjoyed Anya's earlier attempts at her vows, too: "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..."

In the couples-I'm-actually-emotionally-invested-in department, Willow and Tara were definitely making eyes at each other. Reconciliation must be approaching. But as good as that was, the Buffy/Spike scene was better. They were gentle, tender, and honest with each other for what was probably the first time in the entire five years they've known each other, and it made me wonder if Buffy actually might be capable of returning Spike's love someday.

I was wondering how Spike would react to Buffy dumping him (his drunken spree in "Lovers Walk" after Drusilla dumped him came to mind), but I forgot that Spike has deep feelings of inferiority when it comes to Buffy. He wasn't angry with her because he honestly didn't think he ever deserved her in the first place. I loved Buffy admitting to him that she was jealous, and that she cared; it was about time she gave him something, dammit. The way Spike kept backpedaling during their conversation in order not to hurt her was so cute, too. Especially when Buffy asked him if he was taking his date home to sleep with her, and Spike practically blurted out that if Buffy felt that way, he wouldn't sleep with his date after all. (I wonder if he did.)

In the wedding finery report: Anya's wedding dress was simply gorgeous and she was stunning in it at the end, but there was something disturbing about the dress with an eye mask and the curlers at the beginning. The bridesmaid dresses that the entire cast was wearing were unbelievably ghastly, and I just loved them. Too bad Willow as best man couldn't wear that tux. Maybe she could wear one when she marries Tara.

Bits and pieces:

— I don't think I ever bought into the old man being Xander because the guy had a ski slope nose.

— Loved Buffy doing standup, charades, and juggling to amuse the waiting guests. Although they seemed to like her slaying the best.


Uncle Rory: "It was my trade. I used to stuff things. I still do, but only for fun."

D'Hoffryn: "Hymen, the God of Matrimony. His salutations upon you. May the love we celebrate today avoid an almost inevitable decline."

Tentacle Demon: "So you think the children should be raised in ignorance of our ways?"
Cousin Carol: "No! No, the Harrises are very broad-minded. We're Episcopalians."

Dawn: "Xander, one of Anya's presents got loose."

Clem: "Does this jerk ever shut up?"
Tentacle Demon: "He's starting to make my suckers twitch."

Tara: "Um, I'm not sure you should say 'sex poodle' in your vows."

Buffy: "They were supposed to be my light at the end of the tunnel. I guess they were a train."

Depressing, but excellent. Four out of four stakes,

Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.


  1. Everytime I see this episode, it feels really wrong to me that Giles wouldn't come to Xander's and Anya's wedding, and noone would even address it

  2. I was so mad the first time I saw this episode. Never liked Xander that much, though I did appreciate some of his comedy bits and he could be brave at many times. Then he broke Anya's heart, and I never forgave him for that. Anya would have been good for him. She is loyal to him, would be good with their finances, and I always liked her. If Xander wasn't such a scaredy cat, I think it would have worked out fine. She was a human before being a demon, after all. Probably I'm biased, being pro Anya and anti Xander, but I was still upset when Anya got left at the altar. She didn't deserve that.

  3. As an individual episode, I found it enjoyable but I don't like it at all from the standpoint of Xander's character development. Yes, it's been clear Xander's had cold feet all season long about the marriage, but that doesn't make it in character for him to choose the cruelest, most humiliating possible way to end the relationship. It was a regression to season 2 Xander, and he's shown himself to be more mature than that over the past couple of seasons. I understand having the wedding ceremony with all Anya's demonic friends and Xander's monstrous family was irresistible, but I just didn't think it felt right. It also felt stupidly dangerous to publicly humiliate someone in front of all her demonic friends, even if Anya herself doesn't resume her vengeful ways.

    The writers seem to me have gotten a bit stuck with Anya's character. She had a beautiful arc in season 5, but she seems to have been reduced to a money-and-marriage obsessed caricature in season 6. They looked like they were going somewhere more interesting with Hallie provoking Anya to re-evaluate her relationship. But I guess having Anya herself break things off or provoke Xander until he broke things off before the marriage, would be less melodramatic and wouldn't lead into a revenge plot which seems likely now.

    So while I can see how the wedding break-up scenario and Anya going all revenge demon again is appealing dramatically, I feel like the characters are being twisted to force the drama to happen, rather than the drama arising naturally from the characters.

    If Anya does resume demonhood, we'll now have seen all the gang except Tara give in to the darker impulses this season, so it seems to be the theme. While interesting in concept, I feel like everybody's gone a little farther down that road than I believed they would.

  4. I've been rewatching Buffy again and I just finished S6. This episode in particular really bugged me on the rewatch for a number of reasons in line with the above commenters. I agree with Jul completely - why wasn't Giles there? Why would Anya and Xander invite Clem and all these random demons we've never seen and not him? We have to assume that they invited him and he couldn't come and the writers should have made up at least some reason for him to not be able to make it. Not doing so was sloppy writing.

    (SPOILER FOR THE END OF THE SEASON: his return at the end made it even more strange that since he left there was no mention of him, he didn't call, they didn't call, etc. It just seems so out of character. Even if he left because he thought it would be good for Buffy you wouldn't think he'd cut himself off completely. END SPOILER).

    I also agree about it not making sense in Xander's character development. Beside the fact that we could see this coming a mile away with all the cold feet and nerves, and the fact that I've never really liked Xander much (I think I never forgave him for not telling Buffy that Willow was working restoring Angel's soul in S2), but Xander is not a coward and him walking away from Anya like that paints him as one. I get it, it's not the same as fighting demons, but I just don't see Xander not going through with it and by having him do that his character development really does back slide.

    (SPOILER FOR THE END OF THE SEASON: And it seems like sloppy writing to make him so inadequate that we are all supposed to be surprised that he saves the day at the end of it. END SPOILER).

  5. Even though Xander has been a jerk to Anya here and there, I feel for him this time. It's all about not being a jerk in the future that makes him decide not to get married. The fake flashforwards are powerful and wonderfully played by Emma Caulfield and Nicholas Brendon.

    This episode is so big, fun, colorful, filled with energy... and then heartbreaking. I love it. The radioactive dresses, Anya's demons, Spike bringing a date to make Buffy jealous, Buffy and Spike's sweet conversation, there is a lot to love.

    Poor Anya, she was so devoted to Xander, she didn't deserve any of this pain.

    magritte, I don't mind the breakup happening in the most melodramatic way, it's a writting choice that works for me. My only problem with it is Xander leaving Anya behind to deal with the canceled wedding all by herself. It makes no sense and it's there only to give us that sad moment of Anya walking down the aisle alone. But overall, I do love this episode and it opened the way to some great stories.

  6. @Riniko, maybe you should edit you last comment (if you can), it contains a pretty big spoiler...

  7. Raya, thanks for catching this -- I deleted it. Riniko, if you'd like to repost your comment without the spoiler, you're very welcome to do so.

  8. I've never been a Xander fan (probably due to him hating on Angel so much), but he had finally been getting some good character development. Even when I didn't like him, he was never a coward, he would always run head first into danger, or be there for his friends, so this just feels so out of character. I feel his development starts to regress from this point onwards.

    Just on Giles absence, the Buffy wiki mentions a deleted scene explaining that he gifted flowers for the wedding and him being tied up with daemon/demon business ( https://buffy.fandom.com/wiki/Hell%27s_Bells )

    On a more exciting note, straight after this, I tuned into Marvel's WandaVision and was pleasantly surprised to see a member of the Buffy alumni! I won't spoil who it is, but great seeing them on screen 20 years later!

  9. Why do I approve of this episode? D: I've been hating the masochistic trend this season... but it worked for me, Xander's cowardice was sympathetic, and I tolerate the dramatic license of leaving her at the altar instead of into their marriage. I'm glad this is one of the episodes that come with a commentary because I'm definitely going to need that aftercare.

    With an obligatory XANDER DID NOTHING WRONG out of the way, I have to say: Anya's actress is AMAZING, I don't know why I'm only noticing it now. I don't just mean the heart break at the end, everything before it too. The subtle stuff. The jittery-ness, the odd jerky movements when she's rehearsing her vows, I don't know how to describe it. Couldn't take my eyes off her.

    The Spike-Buffy stuff was, finally, actually kind of lame.. I'm in awe that they managed to keep it non-stop interesting for this long, they've earned real credit for that. But alas, Spike asking for reassurance that Buffy was jealous finally took me out of it. Buffy's You're Welcome even made me wonder whether she played it up out of pity for Spike, but I prefer to think they were just milking the scene and Buffy really did feel a twinge of jealousy, for what it's worth.

    "Did I really think Xander would marry Anya and they would live happily ever after on a show where every romantic relationship breaks up in the most tragic way possible?"
    Well, I did! I figured there would be have to be least one safe boring couple, but there's only Tara and Willow now who're closest to a reunion.

    "Her past has been catching up with her for awhile, anyway."
    I felt bad for that demon Xander killed, honestly. Now THAT guy carried out a revenge. I know and fully condone why Xander would be driven to do it, but in the end that demon wasn't a killer. I hope they did dress up his corpse in flowers.

    "Will Anya accept D'Hoffryn's offer?"
    I hope that means we're getting a Cheated Cordelia type dynamic once again in regards to the barbed comments to the Slayerettes. Spike hasn't really been fulfilling that role ever since he had to stop being part of the gang and became Buffy's secret. It might not be so fun either since only Willow and Tara seem to be on any upswing. What a waste that last episode turned out to be for Buffy, "you guys were the light at the end of a tunnel but it turned out be a train." It's all so tiresome.
    I'd rather just remind myself of the image of Buffy happily juggling. You're still in there somewhere

  10. Every time I see this, it reminds of that X-Files episode in Season 4 where the guy from the future came back to warn himself about what was yet to come. Glad though that it wasn't future Xander, but another former human turned demon by Anya in the past coming back to get revenge. I knew Xander's family was dysfunctional, but damn, they make the demons look sophisticated in comparison.


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