Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Replacement

Xander: "Wait until you have an evil twin and see how you handle it."
Willow: (quietly to herself) "I handled it fine."

So we have a hit fantasy show, and one of the actors has an identical twin in real life. It was inevitable that sooner or later we would get an "evil twin," because who could resist? I wish they had waited for a better plot idea, though; the humor seemed forced and the actors uncomfortable, and comparing this one to "The Wish" and "Doppelgangland" just makes it look worse.

Why didn't they promote the fact that it was Nicholas Brendon's twin? His name (Kelly Donovan) was given in TV Guide, but not in the opening credits. I swear that I couldn't tell Nicholas Brendon and his twin apart, and if someone had told me that they had used split screen for the limited number of times that the twins interacted, I would have believed it. I'll bet that the reason it was so hard to tell them apart and the reason they downplayed it was that Nicholas Brendon played both Xanders, except in scenes where the two interacted.

I liked the Trek references; what happened to Xander (having one person's attributes split into two people that can't survive without the other) was done in the classic Trek episode, "The Enemy Within." Although as a Trek fan (mostly a former Trek fan), I'm trying not to take "There comes a point where you either have to move on or just buy yourself a Klingon costume and go with it" personally. :)

Anya seemed more annoying than usual with even more "buy it for me!" sort of behavior. I like her better when she's being outrageous. In fact, I'm waiting to see Anya and Xander break up, because I'm betting it will be the break-up from Hell.

The best moment in this episode for me was Riley admitting that he knows Buffy doesn't love him — to Xander. Riley may think that he loves Buffy just the way she is, but I don't; I think that deep down, he finds her powers threatening to his masculinity, and she can't help but pick up on it. I think he'd love Buffy more if she were a normal human. I also think that Buffy believes she loves Riley and that he's just what she wants, a total opposite from Angel, but she's lying to herself.

Bits and pieces:

-- Xander finally acquired a steady job and an apartment. It's about time.

-- I liked Buffy critiquing the fight scene in the kung fu movie.

-- I loved Giles beating off the demon with the statue of a fertility god. "Well, I'm not dead or unconscious, so I say bravo for me."

-- Speaking of statuary, I thought the mannequin Spike put together looked more like Harmony than Buffy.

-- Where the heck does Anya live, and why can't Xander move in with her? And how is she paying for it? She probably uses the same source of cash that Giles does. Maybe there's a supernatural slush fund or something.

Quotes:

Xander: "I do have Spaghetti-O's. Set 'em on top of the dryer and you're a fluff cycle away from lukewarm goodness."
Riley: "I had dryer food for lunch."

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: "We like the ceiling fan."
Willow: "Yes. It's very, you know, kind of Old South."
Buffy: "But without the unpleasant slavery associations."

Giles: "He had a very specific olfactory presence."
Xander: "Well, I guess we're off to the olfactory. I hate that place."

Buffy: "Well, if this guy wants to fight with weapons, I've got it covered from A to Z. From axe to ... zee other axe."

Manager: "I think someone said you're currently in your parents' basement?"
Xander: "Right. There comes a point where you either have to move on, or just buy yourself a Klingon costume and go with it."

Xander: "Okay. I woke up in the dump this morning."
Willow: "Xander, the basement isn't a dump. It's more like a really nice hovel."

Xander 1: "She's joking."
Xander 2: "No she's not! She entirely wants to have sex with us together. Which is wrong, and it would be very confusing."
Giles: " We just need to light the candles. Also, we should continue to pretend we heard none of the disturbing sex talk."
Willow: "Check. Candles and pretense."

Anya: "What'll we do if this doesn't work?"
Xanders: "(unison) Kill us both, Spock! (They look at each other and laugh)
Buffy: "They're kind of the same now."
Giles: "Yes, he's clearly a bad influence on himself."

Let's say two out of four stakes for this one,

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

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Season five spoilers are posted here.

Josie Kafka said...

I like this episode, for all of its silliness, since it finally moves Xander into grownupland. He seemed so miserable in Season Four!

ChrisB said...

The Snoopy dance!

While I think this episode is one of the weaker ones, I do like how both Riley and Xander move forward as characters. It is time for Xander to move closer to adulthood and it is time that Riley realizes the inherent limitations in his relationship with Buffy. Having said that, his conversation with Xander always makes me sad. It's tough when you realize that you are in; your partner is not.

But again, I just have to say, the Snoopy dance!

sunbunny said...

I've never loved this one, but I really enjoyed it on rewatch. It's like having Xander season 2 meet Xander season 7. And what does it say about Xander that his worst, weakest traits are clumsiness and goofiness? I think that's adorable.

Annie said...

Agreed sunbunny, Xander is quite adorable here.

Goofy clumsy Xander is much more xanderish than his more sober doppleganger, I'd have thought the gang would have thought that Xander seemed strange.

I really don't like Reilly, but I did feel sorry for him here, difficult situation to be in.

Jane said...

I liked this one. I was ready for a more mature Xander and this was a good way to get him there.

Like you all, I thought the Riley / Xander scene was the best of the episode. I came as close to liking Riley as I'm capable of there. Probably won't last.

Lamounier said...

Aw, this is sort of an underdog of the Buffy episodes and I really like it. It has a nice story for Xander and it makes me laugh out loud several times on any rewatch (not a surprise, this being a Jane Espenson script).

The demon is the only weak link on the story. Even though he looked majestic in a demon-y sort of way, he was hokey. But he was merely a plot device, and since Xander 2.0 didn’t turn out to be him, he appeared in only two minutes of the episode. So, not a lot of problem there.

As you guys said, Xander is adorable on this one, and it’s a delight to follow him through the episode. There’s a lot of cleverness going on, beginning with the basic idea of the plot: splitting a person into two. That’s a great idea that perfectly fits a supernatural universe. The writers make great use of the situation to develop Xander and showcase a side of his personality he wasn’t aware he had, and give other characters something to work with as well. It’s interesting that Buffy asks someone else (Riley) if he would like to have only Buffy Buffy around. Probably earlier on the series she would be asking herself if she would want that. This is possibly another indication that she’s much more comfortable being a slayer now than ever before. Riley uses the split-in-two analogy to explain how he feels around Buffy and to make us sad for him. Anya also has a nice moment when she gets in touch with her mortal side. That’s a lot of character goodness to chew on and I love it.

And, of course, the Snoopy Dance! I love how Xander throws the story of the fire Willow possibly set, and then Willow’s reaction doesn’t confirm nor deny it. They both are one hundred percent adorable on that entire scene. “Or, it’s Toth”. “OR, it’s Toth”. Hee.

drnanamom said...

I didn't think I would like this episode maybe because it wasn't one of my favourites in the past but I enjoyed it this time and I think the final scene with Riley and Xander is heartbreaking. Xander obviously feels envious of Riley and then in one sentence he turns it around and it is obvious that Riley is envious of Xander. A very Joss move.

Anonymous said...

Was this really based on the Star Trek episode (as you said)?
Or were both this and the Star Trek episode (and the later Voyager episode with the split B'Elanna) based on the classic Italo Calvino story The Cloven Viscount, from 1952?