I’m not the only one who gets offended on characters’ behalves, right? Normally I view canon in a Watsonian way- I try not to think of the characters as “written” and actually powerless to do anything of their own free will and, you know, fictional- but sometimes when I’m thinking about them in a Doyleist way, I get so offended by some of the choices that were made for them. Prime examples:
2. I get really offended on Dawn’s behalf in “End of Days.” When I’m Watsonian, I’m like, SCREW YOU, DAWN, HOW CAN YOU DO THAT TO YOUR SISTER. And when I’m Doyleist, I’m like, SCREW YOU, WRITERS, HOW COULD YOU MESS UP HER CHARACTERIZATION LIKE THAT AND HAVE HER BETRAY HER SISTER.
Other people feel this way occasionally, right?
The other major thing I get offended by, and the impetus for this post, is Xander’s regression is S6. Here’s the thing: I think Xander’s characterization regarding the wedding is IC for S6. BUT: I think his S6 characterization is not in-character with his S5 characterization. I think his characterization by season makes much more sense in this order than in canon:
S4 --> S6 --> S5 --> S7.
I’ve never really understood why Xander regressed so much in between S5 and S6. You could point to Buffy’s death, obviously, but I think it would make more sense if the death of his best friend made him grow up, not regress. Shouldn’t his best friend’s death at the age of 20 and the reminder that he could die any day have made him more sober and mature? Shouldn’t it have made him appreciate more the important, precious things in life, like his fiancée?
(Note, I am not saying there’s only one way to react to death. That would be pompous and stupid of me. But I think it is a generally accepted narrative principle that death makes people grow up, and some things are cliché for good reason, and if you’re going to deviate from a GANP, I think there should be some damn good characterization to back it up, and I don’t see any in Xander).
You can also argue that Xander’s S6 characterization is plausible because he’s only 20-21, and wow, that’s so young to get married, of course he’s going to flake out. Aside from the fact that lots of people do get happily engaged or married when they’re 20-22 years old, the show didn’t treat Xander as a normal 20-year-old in S5, so the writers have no excuse for basing his characterization on his age in S6. He starts S5 feeling worthless and direction-less, but he ends it with a good job, a nice home, and a loving girlfriend whom he loves in return. Even if the apocalypse prompted his proposal, he and Anya had been together for over a year, and the show stated unequivocally, multiple times, that Xander and Anya loved each other,* so claiming they were "rushing" to the altar doesn’t work for me either as an excuse for his regression.
*(It really is interesting to me now that I think about it how often the show stated in Clear, No Uncertain Terms that they were in love- "The Replacement," "Triangle, "The Gift". It kind of feels like up until S6, the writers were pulling for them more than any other couple, including Bangel, Willow/Oz, and Willow/Tara. And by the way, while this essay focuses on Xander, but I am equally offended by his S6 characterization as a Xander/Anya shipper).
So why regress Xander? (Aside from the obvious reason that Joss apparently doesn’t like romance and anything that can be construed as a happy ending- I would pay to know which writers were pulling for Priya/Victor on DH and how they managed that coup.)
I’m guessing the answer is for Anya’s characterization.
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