Episode 15 Drink Count: 11
Episode 16 Drink Count: A Wedding With An Open Bar
Vamps Dusted: 0
Follow the whole rewatch here!
Last week, the Trio took a trip down irredeemable alley and murdered an innocent young woman, and Dawn’s “extreme pain” got the Scoobies stuck at Buffy’s birthday party that wouldn’t quit. This week is Trio-free, though instead we are saddled with a blast from the past (ugh, hi, Riley, I guess) and the end of a long-term relationship.
The Buffy Season Six Drinking Game Rules
Drink once every time:
A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Giles removes his glasses
Willow misuses magic
Tara gets upset at Willow misusing magic
Anya or Xander mention being engaged or their wedding
Spike and Buffy are the epitome of Bad Romance
Warren, specifically, is the worst
Drink twice every time:
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a callback to previous season shenanigans
Dawn steals something
Buffy emotes existential dread
The “Trio” makes a pop culture reference
You really miss Giles
Let the wedding bells ring!
6.15 “As You Were”
As the episode opens, It seems clear that the Slayer has fallen into a bit of a routine rut, but at least she’s trying? She might not be at her happiest, but she also doesn’t seem to be drowning in existential dread. Progress! Like many of us, she works a shift at her boring job, brings home (a slightly crumpled) fast-food dinner and has an unenthusiastic quickie with her de facto boy-toy out behind the bushes (oh, Buffy) before falling asleep in her clothes on the couch. The next morning, she gets a one-two punch as she misses trash day and gets a rejection letter from UC Sunnydale about returning next semester (she missed the deadline). Feeling a bit defeated, Buffy heads back for another shift at DP, but who should show up in all his blandness to make her day only slightly less boring?
Our girl is THROWN.
Riley begs for Buffy’s help, and she barely hesitates before walking out on her shift (I guess she has good job security after blackmailing her manager) to join him in the hunt for a mindless killing demon who breeds like a bunny. Riley is all military jargon and professionalism while Buffy is shy and uncertain, staring at him like he’ll disappear any moment. They exchange awkward but banal conversation as they track the demon to a dam (very random locale, and I feel like they only did this because they wanted to make Riley rappel down something). After finding the Alien knock-off demon, they engage it in hand-to-hand combat. Buffy momentarily stuns it and get tossed against the wall, where suddenly Riley is all up in Buffy’s personal space. They’re both clearly feeling feelings, which is the perfect moment for Commando #2 to rappel into the scene and casually ask Buffy what she’s doing with “her husband.”
Yup, Riley has managed to trick someone into being Mrs. Finn, and she’s a former Peace Corps worker turned demon-hunting soldier after her village was attacked. Sam is confident, friendly, and direct as she tells Buffy what an honor it is to meet her, the Slayer, having heard so much about her. Sam and Riley go back to fighting, and you can visibly see Buffy wilting under the knowledge that Riley is a door slammed closed in her face, but she rallies to snap the demon’s neck and save them both. Except…stupid Riley failed to warn Buffy that this was a reconnaissance-only mission, as they needed to track the demon back to its brood that it laid somewhere in Sunnydale.
Buffy brings Riley and Sam to her house to regroup, where Willow lets Buffy know she is prepared to hate Sam in any way she wants. Buffy tells Willow it’s okay, she doesn’t want to look petty, but Willow assures her, “That’s the beauty—you can’t, but I can. Let me carry the hate for the both of us.” It’s a cute BFF moment that I have SORELY been missing in season six.
We do know Willow is good at holding grudges.
Sam and Riley explain that not only are the demon eggs about to hatch, but they’re being sold on the black market by someone called the Doctor. Sam and Buffy go out together in search of the eggs and discuss how Riley and Sam met, and Sam is such a cool chick that Buffy gets super intimidated and suggests they split up (even then, Sam is super nice about it, apologizing that she must be slowing Buffy down). Buffy makes a beeline for Spike, demanding he tell her he loves her and then proceeds to sleep with him. (Again: oh, Buffy.)
Riley shows up at Spike’s crypt, post-coitus, and Buffy is embarrassed and ashamed. Spike, of course, can’t resist gloating and throwing jabs at Riley, but Riley ignores their twisted relationship because he isn’t there for that: he found out Spike is the one selling the eggs as the Doctor. Spike denies it, and Buffy even sticks up for him, but then they find the eggs just chilling in Spike’s basement, and they just so happen to be hatching at that very moment. Riley and Buffy barely escape as the face-hugger demon-bugs give chase, and so Buffy throws a grenade into the hole, killing them along with, symbolically and literally, Spike’s bedroom.
As Riley gets ready to head back out on a new mission, he and Buffy finally share an honest and open conversation. Buffy thinks Riley finds her pathetic now, because she feels pathetic, but he tells her that while, yes, he’s happy with his life right now, she’s still the first woman he ever loved and the strongest person he knows. He’ll always harbor a little bit of love for her. And while none of us here care much about Riley, this conversation is exactly what Buffy needed to realize that she is more than the darkness she’s currently feeling.
It also gives her the strength to go to Spike and tell him it’s over. Understandably, he doesn’t believe her at first, but Buffy’s all about having one more honest real talk: she tells Spike that yes, she knows she still wants him, but she’s being selfish and weak because she’s using him to make herself feel better, and it’s killing her. I feel a little bad for Spike as she tells him, “I can’t love you. I’m sorry, William,” but only because James Marsters is just aces with his face acting here. You can see the very moment when Spike realizes this is real and that he’s devastated.
All horrible things need to come to an end sometime, Spike.
I love that the title, “As You Were”, has a double-meaning. At first glance, it simply reminded me of the military phrase, which is fitting for Agent Riley Finn as makes his LAST AND COMPLETELY FINAL appearance. But after rewatching the episode, it also serves as a reminder for Buffy to recall herself: how she was back when she was still happy—before her mom’s cancer, before she sacrificed herself and was ripped out of Heaven, before what she believes are her darkest impulses coming to light.
How many times do I have to take a drink?
Sam Finn is played by none other than Ivana Milicevic, who my fellow CW watchers may recognize from her recent turn as the badass, Diyoza, on The 100, or perhaps from the million-odd other TV and film credits to her name.
I also enjoyed that while Willow told Buffy she’d be bitchy to Sam enough for the both of them, and practices this by getting (overly) offended after Sam suggests Willow do a locator spell, she ends up liking Sam anyway because she can’t help it. (Especially after Sam flatters Willow by telling her she’s seen other powerful magic users be consumed by magic but has never known anyone strong enough to quit cold turkey before.) They even exchange email addresses!
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
Buffy looks adorable in this sunny yellow coat and fishermen’s sweater. I’d wear it!
While I’m not as enamored with this purple peasant top, it’s fancier than anything she’s worn recently, and she actually made an attempt to put on makeup and style her hair (this is the first time the short ‘do has looked cute on her, for me, since she cut it). It feels like the physical manifestation of Buffy saying, “I’m gonna start trying again.”
What’s That Smell?
The running joke this episode was that Buffy smells like a fast food restaurant, and I have to admit Buffy’s reactions had me giggling.
During an encounter with a vamp after a shift:
Vampire, tries to bite Buffy then stops: “What’s that smell? Geez, Slayer, is that you?!”
Buffy: “I’ve been WORKING.”
Vampire: “Where, in a slaughterhouse?”
Buffy: “Doublemeat Palace.”
Vampire: “Oooh. You know what? Let’s just call it a night. If it’s all the same to you, when you’ve been eating that stuff, I’m not so sure I want to bite you.”
Buffy: “You’re DEAD. You smell like it! How do you get to say that I’m the one who’s…stinky?”
Joke’s on him, though, since Buffy stakes him for mocking her (and because, you know, he’s the undead).
Riley: “I was terrified about seeing you again.”
Buffy: “I’m sure my incredible patheticness softened the blow for you.”
Riley: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Buffy: “Riley, please don’t patronize me.”
Riley: “Do you want me to say that I liked seeing you in bed with that idiot? Or that blinding orange is your very best color? Or that burger smell is appealing?”
Buffy: “You smelled the smell?”
Apparently, it goes away after “a few showers”.
Bloody Good Snark
Buffy: “So, who’s hungry? We’ve got—”
Dawn: “—Ice cubes.”
Buffy: “All you can eat!”
Most Y2K Moment
Anya and Xander are in hardcore pre-wedding stress all episode. I know those feelings, guys, although I was definitely way more excited to see my own friends and family (granted, they were not raging alcoholics or demons). Xander, like Willow, is very impressed with Sam when she suggests they use disposable cameras as part of the table settings and favors, which was ALL the rage back in the pre-Pinterest and camera-phones days.
6.16 “Hell’s Bells”
After half a season of reminders, Xander and Anya’s wedding day is finally upon us. Anya stayed over at the Summers’ residence while Xander was stuck at their apartment with their horde of out-of-town guests that arrived in “As You Were”. (According to Buffy and Willow’s rehashing of the rehearsal dinner, it seems they passed off Anya’s demon buddies/relatives as “circus people” as a way to explain to all the…interesting skin conditions to the Harrises.) While we caught a glimpse of Xander’s dad in his dreams during the season four finale, “Restless”, this is the first time we’ve met Anthony and Jessica Harris in the flesh, and, I gotta say, I wish we hadn’t. I’m suddenly starting to really understand Xander’s latent asshole tendencies.
The pre-wedding action moves to the Sunnydale Bison’s Lodge, our venue for this ill-conceived venture. It’s the perfect location for a 21-year-old’s wedding that’s been paid for by his family (I have to assume Mr. Harris got a steep discount by likely being a lodge member). Dawn plays usher at the door, greeting the guests as Willow and Tara help Anya into her wedding gown and Buffy uses her Slayer strength to squeeze Xander into his cummerbund (darn all those chips Anya told him to stop eating in the last episode). An old man in a trench coat magically appears on the street and makes his way to the wedding, looking quite squirrelly.
Anya is quite adorable in this scene, bursting with excitement while Willow and Tara exchange sexy, charged glances behind her back as they button her into her gown and listen to her recite vows like, “I entrust you with my heart. Take care of my heart, won’t you please. Take care of it because it’s all that I have. And if you’ll let me, I’ll take care of your heart too. I’ll protect it, and tend to it like a little stray. No, like a little mangy stray that needs a home.” Anya sees herself in her dress and is bursting to show Xander because she wants to share it all with her best friend, who she gets to be with forever! Oh, no, someone get me a tissue. This is gonna get ugly.
Let’s watch them flirt one more time to get the taste of impending doom out of our mouths.
The dynamic between the Harris family and Anya’s demonic guests is played as an extended metaphor for a mixed-religion or mixed-race wedding, where one side is casually and openly horrible. Sometimes it’s amusing, but mostly (purposefully) cringey. You really should’ve persuaded Anya to elope, Xander. As Xander and Buffy head towards the party to mingle, Dawn pops in to provide Buffy with some shoehorned-in exposition about Spike showing up with a “manic-panic freak who he’s like totally macking with right in the middle of the room.” This leaves Xander on his own as people surround him with well-wishes and complaints, at least until he gets pulled aside by the old man in the trench.
I REALLY want to know the story of the dude with the high pony and the lime green suit in the background.
He tells Xander that he’s Xander from the future, coming back in time to stop him from marrying Anya and making the worst mistake of his life. He pulls out a glowing magic ball and makes Xander “live” the memories of his horrible life with Anya: the money struggles after he blew out his back helping Buffy fight demons instead of keeping himself safe in order to provide for his family; his excessive drinking exacerbating his horrible, squabbling children’s fight that ends with his daughter telling him he’s not her real dad (because Anya cheated on him); their 20-year-long intimacy and fidelity problems after Xander had PTSD after Buffy’s (third?) untimely death. Xander snaps out of the vision just before the memory-Xander takes a frying pan to Anya’s head, eek! He’s, understandably, totally horrified and shell-shocked.
On the Bad Romance front, Spike asks Buffy if she’s met his friend yet, and she tells him, “Not yet, but she seems like a very nice attempt at making me jealous.” LOL. She admits it’s working and she is a bit hurt, but it still doesn’t change anything. Compared to what we know will happen soon, Spike is so mature and they manage to have such a nice, civil conversation. I don’t like Spuffy, but, again, James Marsters’ acting is SO damn good here, and SMG looks so radiant and different from the Buffy we’ve seen so far this season, that I end up loving this scene.
At some point Xander runs off, and Anya is told the wedding has been delayed due to the minister heading off to deliver an emergency C-section (Buffy is not great at on-the-fly lies). While Willow goes off in search of Xander, Buffy vainly attempts to entertain the restless guests with juggling and charades. But the jig is up after Anya overhears Dawn telling a demon boy she’s trying to impress that the groom took off, and then everyone overhears the bad news. Xander’s drunk relatives say more horrible things and end up starting an all-out brawl between the wedding guests.
Wedding to remember, this one.
As everyone fights around her, Anya encounters the self-satisfied old man leaving. She demands to know what he said to Xander, and he reveals himself to be a demon—or rather, a human she’d formerly punished by turning into a demon and sending off to a hell dimension to be tortured. (Yeah…that’s a pretty harsh punishment for simply being a cheater boyfriend.) He crashed the wedding to get revenge on Anya and gloats that all he had to do was show Xander a few phony nightmare visions of their future to scare him off. Anya is completely crushed. The demon attacks Anya, but Buffy intervenes, and Xander finally reappears at the last moment to crush the demon’s head under decorative pillar.
Anya pulls Xander to the side to explain that it was all a lie, and that they are good to get married, but Xander still looks freaked out. He glances behind Anya at his parents, who are yelling and abusing each other, and it’s clear he’s scared because he knows that while the visions weren’t real, that hateful, pathetic, angry version of himself could very well be what he turns into in the future. (At this moment I’d like to point out to Xander here a little thing called THERAPY.) While it shouldn’t come as a TOTAL surprise to either of them, as they did sing about their fears and doubts just a few episodes ago, Xander tells Anya that he’s scared of making an irreversible mistake and hurting her for years to come versus getting out now before any long-term damage is done.
On one hand, I get it, and we’ve all known that theirs was likely not going to be a long-lasting, healthy relationship, especially since they’ve never worked on their communication issues that have plagued them since day one. On the other hand, way to blindside a person, Xander, and OMG at least take her into a back room and have more than a two minute conversation about this. Also, don’t just leave her there all alone to deal with your crazy guests!! But leave he does, and so Anya is left crying, heartbroken, as she wanders down the aisle in a daze, the saddest ex-bride.
Willow, Buffy, and Dawn sit around later, trying to make sense of it all as Xander rents a cheap hotel room to hide in, and Anya is comforted by her old boss, D’Hoffryn. He tells her she let Xander domesticate her, but back when she was a vengeance demon she would crush men like him. He tells her it’s time to get back to “what she does best”, and she looks up at him without responding as we cut to the credits.
That was QUITE bold of Xander to dump an ex-vengeance demon on her wedding day. I hope he rented that hotel room about eight towns over…
How many times do I have to take a drink?
OMG, just grab the bottle and take copious swigs like you’re drinking buddies with Xander’s dad. That was ROUGH.
The feels were strong in this one, as weddings tend to elicit plenty of nostalgia and sentimental notions. Pre horrible visions of his future, Buffy and Xander are happy as they share some jokes, a sweet hug, and she tells him he’s one of the good ones:
Buffy: “All right. Into the breach with you!”
Xander: “Okay, breach me.”
Right as Xander gets cold feet, Willow finds him in the kitchen and, in a good foreshadowing of events that happen later in the season, they talk about their decades-long friendship and share another sweet, albeit slightly more desperate (on Xander’s end) hug:
Willow: “Do you know how much I love you?”
Xander: “About half as much I love you.”
The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week
Spike: “It’s nice to watch you be happy. For them, even. I don’t see it a lot. You, uh, you glow.”
Buffy: “That’s because the dress is radioactive.”
Willow, when she sees Anya in her wedding dress: “Wow. You look lovely, really lovely.”
Anya: “Thanks. It’s probably the blush of imprudent spending.”
Little Girl Wedding Guest: “I’m bored.”
Xander’s Cousin: “It’s a wedding, honey, we’re all bored.”
(Let it be known I do enjoy weddings, but inevitably there’s always some downtime when you’re a guest.)
Willow, as they look down at the dead demon’s body with all the guests nearby: “Is anyone else waiting for it to go “poof”? Maybe we can cover it with flowers!”
Stylish Yet Affordable Boots
I MEAN. (Buffy and Dawn’s shorter sleeve pattern is the teensiest half-step up from the monstrosities gracing Willow, Tara, and Halfrek’s arms.)
Willow, looking in dismay at her bridesmaid dress: “Maybe if I ask Anya I can still go with the traditional blood larvae and burlap. I mean, she was a vengeance demon for like a thousand years. She’d know all the most flattering…larvae.”
Emma Caulfield looks very pretty, although the raggedy tulle mermaid bottom isn’t exactly my personal style.
What did you guys think of Riley’s last episode (aside from indescribable joy) and the wedding that wasn’t? I’ll be honest, I totally forgot that “future-Xander” wasn’t actually Xander and that the visions he showed now-Xander weren’t real. Did you like Sam? I appreciated the fact that they didn’t make her evil or jealous of Buffy. Riley found a good fit, and more power to him (keep away from Buffy, please).
Don’t forget to meet back here next Wednesday as Sarah covers triptastic “Normal Again” and the-synopsis-sounds-so-boring-I-have-zero-memories-of-this-episode “Entropy”.