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Discussion of 6.16 "Hell's Bells" - Aired 3/5/02 (UPN-US)

WishverseWhedon

You're not friends, you'll never be friends.
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Black Thorn
I thought it was a brilliant episode, although upsetting. A lot of the time I do judge episodes on the emotion it triggers me to feel when in the given circumstance; it was kind of necessary to feel hurt. The acting in this episode is fantastic and different issues are tackled within it. I love the addition of Spike turning up at the wedding with another women, to make Buffy jealous, as it highlights how she honestly does feel about him, and it helps to trigger a weak spot of hers. Even though their encounter didn't last long, I found it almost necessary for them to have it.
As well as this, the idea of the wedding being broken off falls very well in the line of Joss Whedon's aims - when a couple/relationship gets happy and you think they'll actually have a chance at making it work, something bad happens (whether it be death or their own choice etc). I love Anya and Xander as a couple, ever so much, and this was a very heartbreaking episode for me. Although, I think it works well with what Whedon aims to do. The reason for Xander breaking Anya's heart is because he was terrified at the fact that what that demon showed him was possibly true, or he could end up hurting Anya a lot worse, if they did stay together. Xander's thoughts and actions fall in line with real problems, people get nervous and people think about these thoughts and I think Xander did make the sensible choice of breaking it off, so he didn't have the chance to hurt her so badly. Xander was so in love with Anya and this just makes it harder for him and it was a very difficult decision for him to decide. But I stand by what he chose to do and I stand by the way Anya reacted in the later episodes. It's what makes the ending of 'Chosen' even more emotional, in connection with them both. It's really a brilliant episode.

  • Also, can I just comment on how amazing Emma Caulfield's performance was in this episode. As from 'The Body" we have seen an emotional side to her of her not understanding the processes of human nature, and that was a chilling and triggering episode.. This time she was emotional on the point of her development as a human, she's experiencing and going through things. And she still managed to look pretty damn gorgeous whilst doing so!!
 

Give Us A Kiss

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Sineya
Those are some ugly dresses...

Xander's family sound like a bunch of drunkards...

How did cufflings become earrings ??? o_O

Xander, you gained weight, it happens when you are stressed.

Anya's vows sound strange...

Mr, that's a little morbid...

Spike already got himself a new girl :eek:

Clem is here too :)

Xander gets old, he hasn't aged so well but I've seen worse.

Xander's dad is a peice of shit, he's destroying the fun for everyone else :(

Poor Xander :(

Anya has aged well :)

Spike, Buffy isn't stupid, she can see through you...

Buffy glows ??? At least she isn't a lame Twilight vampire :D

Sex poodle ??? o_O

Buffy is a bad liar...

Xander, the rain just makes it worse...

Anya, it's not rude of him, it really can't wait...

Dawn, too late for that...

Anya must have been horrible to live with...

Xander's dad needs to learn how to blame himself...

Poor Anya :(

Dawn, we all thought they were happy :(

Next time: What could have been, Buffy in a mental institution.
 

GraceK

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There was a question asked on this thread about why the daughter had demonic ears. I thought it was pretty self explanatory. The daughter isn't Xander's, Anya clearly had an affair with a demon. The ears don't come from Anya, cause she's human. They come from her demon father, that was the whole point.

Xander even says in those fake visions that Anya was touching other people but not him. So clearly VisionAnya was getting around .
 

DeadlyDuo

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Does anyone else think D'hoffryn took advantage of Anya's upset when he offered her to become a vengeance demon again? She'd just been jilted at the altar so was obviously going to be in a "How could he do this to me? I hate him!" frame of mind which is when he made the offer?
 

Priceless

Scooby
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Does anyone else think D'hoffryn took advantage of Anya's upset when he offered her to become a vengeance demon again? She'd just been jilted at the altar so was obviously going to be in a "How could he do this to me? I hate him!" frame of mind which is when he made the offer?
Definitely. People forget that D'hoffryn is Evil, because he always seemed so reasonable and mundane. I think he's pretty similar to the Mayor in that way
 

DeadlyDuo

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Definitely. People forget that D'hoffryn is Evil, because he always seemed so reasonable and mundane. I think he's pretty similar to the Mayor in that way
Even Halfrek commented that it had been noticed that Anya's work as a vengeance demon wasn't up to the standard it had been before she was made human, suggesting that Anya's heart wasn't in it.
 

Priceless

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Even Halfrek commented that it had been noticed that Anya's work as a vengeance demon wasn't up to the standard it had been before she was made human, suggesting that Anya's heart wasn't in it.
Anya didn't want to be a vengeance demon anymore, she's got a whole new perspective on humanity after four years as a human, as shown in S7 when she sticks around to fight The First, she really did come to care about people. D'hoffryn just caught her when she was lost and angry, and we all make bad decisions in weak moments.
 

DeadlyDuo

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Anya didn't want to be a vengeance demon anymore, she's got a whole new perspective on humanity after four years as a human, as shown in S7 when she sticks around to fight The First, she really did come to care about people. D'hoffryn just caught her when she was lost and angry, and we all make bad decisions in weak moments.
Thing is though, she wanted to be a vengeance demon again just after she lost her powers in S3. D'Hoffryn told her no as a punishment. Why did he wait until she'd have 4 years of humanity then let her become a vengeance demon again? It was obvious it wasn't going to end well.
 

Priceless

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Thing is though, she wanted to be a vengeance demon again just after she lost her powers in S3. D'Hoffryn told her no as a punishment. Why did he wait until she'd have 4 years of humanity then let her become a vengeance demon again? It was obvious it wasn't going to end well.
Because D'hoffryn feels the vengeance within the girls he grooms, he's a vengeance-pimp really don't you think, with his stable of vengeance girls? Were there any male vengeance demons? I really don't like D'hoffryn, he prays on people at their lowest points :)

Anyway, at the end of S3 Anya was angry but she didn't want to commit vengeance on anyone, unlike in S6 when she was desperate to take her anger out on Xander.
 
Anyanka Bunny Slayer
Anyanka Bunny Slayer
Vengeance pimp! lol

DeadlyDuo

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Because D'hoffryn feels the vengeance within the girls he grooms, he's a vengeance-pimp really don't you think, with his stable of vengeance girls? Were there any male vengeance demons? I really don't like D'hoffryn, he prays on people at their lowest points :)
He wanted Willow as a vengeance demon in season 4 and gave her his card. That's a good point about vengeance demons being all female, or could it just be that we never saw male ones and women was just Anyanka's chosen area (like kids were Halfrek's area). Surely there was a vengeance demon who catered to men (Halfrek said to Anya about men needing vengeance too though Anya stopped Spike making a wish after they'd slept together).

Anyway, at the end of S3 Anya was angry but she didn't want to commit vengeance on anyone, unlike in S6 when she was desperate to take her anger out on Xander.
But becoming a vengeance demon didn't help Anya take revenge because she couldn't grant her own vengeance wish, she was having to try and trick the other scoobies into make a wish against Xander. Sleeping with Spike gave her the vengeance she wanted but she wasn't happy about it and she didn't need to be a vengeance demon to do that. Anya would've been better off just making a wish as a human.
 

Ethan Reigns

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But we do know about male vengeance demons under d'Hoffryn. When he comments on the flaying job Willow did in "Selfless 7x05", he says:

"The flaying of Warren Meers - oh, truly inspired. That was "water cooler" vengeance. Yes. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall."

Lloyd is a male Welsh name. It seems d'Hoffryn did have male vengeance demons under his control.
 

Priceless

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He wanted Willow as a vengeance demon in season 4 and gave her his card. That's a good point about vengeance demons being all female, or could it just be that we never saw male ones and women was just Anyanka's chosen area (like kids were Halfrek's area). Surely there was a vengeance demon who catered to men (Halfrek said to Anya about men needing vengeance too though Anya stopped Spike making a wish after they'd slept together).
In Season 4 Willow revenge on her friends for not taking her misery seriously. In S3 Anya didn't want revenge on anyone, she just wanted her powers back. It was that need for revenge that draws D'hoffryn to someone.

But becoming a vengeance demon didn't help Anya take revenge because she couldn't grant her own vengeance wish, she was having to try and trick the other scoobies into make a wish against Xander. Sleeping with Spike gave her the vengeance she wanted but she wasn't happy about it and she didn't need to be a vengeance demon to do that. Anya would've been better off just making a wish as a human.
Agreed. Anya say that sleeping with Spike wasn't revenge, but comfort. I think in that moment Anya wasn't looking for revenge, she was just in the depths of despair and needed something to make her feel better and Spike was being very complimentary and caring, plus they'd been drinking. Afterwards, when Xander accuses her of taking revenge, Anya realises revenge is useless and doesn't help ease your pain in the long term. She took no pleasure in seeing Xander suffer, because of course she still loved him.

But we do know about male vengeance demons under d'Hoffryn. When he comments on the flaying job Willow did in "Selfless 7x05", he says:

"The flaying of Warren Meers - oh, truly inspired. That was "water cooler" vengeance. Yes. Lloyd has a sketch of it on his wall."

Lloyd is a male Welsh name. It seems d'Hoffryn did have male vengeance demons under his control.
I'd forgotten that :oops: It makes sense that there would be male vengeance demons. Of course D'hoffryn is a vengeance demon himself and he turns Jonathan into a vengeance demon in S10, so there are definitely male vengeance demons, but we never saw them in action.
 

Priceless

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This is not one of my favourite episodes, it feels quite cold to me, and there's a lack of emotionality in an episode that I think should be more sentimental. But there are some good things about it. Mainly is gets us past the 'wedding planning' story, which is all Xander and Anya have been about this season, and it feels like their story can finally begin.

I like that humans are portrayed as absolutely terrible, while the demon guests don't seem too bad. This plays into one of the major arcs of this season, if not the whole show, the realisation that not all demons are evil and just having a soul doesn't necessarily make you 'good'.

There is major Scooby cuteness, with lovely throwback scenes between Xander, Buffy and Willow. Anya is adorable as the bride, and her speech is lovely.

The Buffy and Spike scene is so sweet. Buffy is jealous of Spike's date, and the evil soulless vampire says 'I'm sorry' when he sees Buffy is hurting, and then has to remind himself he's evil. Willow and Tara also get some lovely moments where they are able to really connect again and you can see hope for their relationship. It's a pity that Willow was so focused on Tara, that she didn't pick up on one of the points of the episode, the law of unintended consequences. especially were vengeance is concerned.

Anya is being punished for the vengeance she's wreaked, and which was so unimportant to her she'd actually forgotten. It's a terrible life lesson the Scoobies have to learn, and a sign of maturity when we consider the consequnces before we take a particular course of action. Something Anya hadn't done and something Xander is about to do.

Xander only considers the things he has seen in the vision and in his own family life. He does not take into account all the consequences of his actions. And is that even possible? Could Xander have considered that Anya may turn back to vengeance and may never forgive him for what he's done. Xander believes he is saving them from a terrible future and cannot comprehend the unintended (and maybe unimaginable) consequences of his actions.

Once again D'Hoffryn slips in at a persons lowest moment, when they are at their weakest, and offers Anya her old vengeance job back. I like that the episode ends at this point, with the fallout left to be addressed in a later episode and not all tied up in a nice bow with everything back to the way it was.
 

emnemnemnem

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THIS EPISODE WAS SUCH A FREAKING CATHARSIS.

It started off all happy and merry, with Xander and Anya freaking out about their wedding day (but in a good way). Buffy is also really happy, despite her breakup with Spike the episode before, because Xander and Anya getting married served as hope for the future and "light at the end of the dark tunnel." Willow and Tara are cute together, exchanging smiles as Anya is sharing with them her wedding vows. All is merry and glorious, until "Xander from the future" appears.

The vengeance demon disguised as Xander from the future shows Xander, through a magical sphere, what his future will be like with Anya. It was scary for Xander, looking this far ahead, seeing both him and Anya unhappy with one another, and fed his doubts that already were manifested within his brain from the start. The vision was terrifying not only in the aspect that Xander and Anya weren't the happy and loving couple they are now, but also because it seemed so realistic. This leads Xander to take off from the wedding, leaving Willow and Buffy to distract Anya from this delay.

Anya later confronts Xander from the future and realizes that he is a vengeance demon taking revenge on something Anya did to him a long time ago, leaving the audience basically relieved that the vision from the future wasn't actually what was going to happen to them - it was a possibility, but it wasn't truly set. But then Xander comes back and ruins the episode for us all, when he confesses to Anya that he isn't ready for them to get married. A quick glance at his parents fighting, his drunk father insulting his unhappy mother, reveals why: Xander doesn't want to end up like them, and the vision the vengeance demon showed him hit too close to home.

The episode ends with another demon creature tempting Anya with reminders of what she was like in the past: powerful and exacting revenge on people exactly like the person who broke her heart just that day. Anya looks intrigued at the very end of the episode, foreshadowing a possible transition back to the vengeance demon - or something close to it - that she used to be.

Anyways, wow, almost a whole post without Spike or Buffy?! But I didn't forget all those cute Spuffy scenes.
It was funny when Spike brought his date, and he acts all cool and slick to cover up all the hurt he feels inside. :'( His exchanges with Buffy were sweet as well, with him trying to be rude to Buffy but instead feeling guilty whenever she says that it hurts that he brought a date to the wedding. And his comment that it's nice to see her happy, even if it's for Xander and Anya, is really sweet as well. You can tell he looks a little wistful in the scene, sad that he could never make her that happy, but overall glad to see her "glow."
 

GraceK

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So I have a few questions related to thks episode. How did Spike show up at a wedding in the daytime? He has a date and no blanket that we see, so that’s weird. Also, who is this girl? She is clearly an attempt at making Buffy jealous , but how did he meet her , convince her to come to a wedding, and most important of all, does she know he’s a vampire??? Is the masquerade just complete bull and everyone in SD is aware now of otherwordly creatures? Cause it was Played as just an average guy and girl post break up jealously scene , and anyone NEW to the show would have no idea Spike is not Human . Anyone else have any thoughts? It was just so bizarre, it’s just like they just gave up on the whole Spike is a vampire thing
 
It just bugs me :)
 
EarthLogic
EarthLogic
And it looked like he came in through the front door! No tunnels! O.0
Mr Trick
Mr Trick
Yeah good question. I thought that myself.

SunnydaleGlitz

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I love this episode for many different reasons. I know it's mainly a sad episode so I don't "enjoy" it necessarily. Or maybe I do - but in a different kind of way. Here are some angles I love:

1) The chaotic assembly line of wedding guests from both sides - the demons and humans - was absolutely brilliant. Such a fantastic, authentic metaphor and portrayal of what family feuds can feel like - it made me laugh and it felt so real. These are the kind of moments when the Buffyverse allegory just surpasses itself. (I have endured one too many family occasions that create this toxic atmosphere and dealt with one too many family relatives familiar to this kind of situation, and it's just as darkly humorous.) I've always struggled to deflect touching/groping from a creepy uncle who uses family status to to get away with a lot (love how Buffy grapples with Mr. Harris) and my family is mixed and speak different languages (both literally and figuratively) with lots of power clashes so this all hit home as very familiar.

2) There was a palpable sense of dread building up before the wedding... you could feel this impending heaviness and doom. I really think this episode explores karma in a very deep way. It doesn't shy away from it, it really looks at life and consequences as hard as it can. I found something about that touching and ironically hopeful.

3) This episode summarises why I love Anya. She really shines here. She's ironic, tough, full of sarcastic charm, beautiful, loving and vulnerable. You really feel for her.

4) This might make me unpopular (and honestly I don't entirely dislike Xander and like a lot of things about him) but this episode summarises all the things I hate about him. In a strange way, I felt relieved for Anya at the end. Seeing Xander at the start of the episode here - with the suit, sweating and anxious - even the "sweet" moments with Buffy and Willow - made me queasy. I didn't want it to go through. I wouldn't want to be marrying an anxious, perspiring Xander who didn't seem loving enough to be with forever.

5) The sadness at the end made every character seem pared down and human - like back to school. We all have our personal journeys. This was a really different way of playing out an upcoming wedding on a TV show - instead of romance and sentiment, it really brought home the confrontation of our personal demons (literally and otherwise.)

6) Every moment of Spike and Buffy's exchange. Pure gold gold gold. And really, everything about Spike in this episode was wonderful.
 
P
Priceless
Agreed, pure pure pure gold :-)

spikenbuffy

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Spuffy was great and lovely, Tillow also was sweet. What annoys me the most with Xander leaving Anya at the altar was all the times she asked him if he was sure to marry like in "Flooded". He could have told her before that he wasn't ready :mad:. I am happy that we see a victim of Anya's past though. Her past victims were never seen as serious before. I kind of liked when she cried. The demon is kind of like Woods or Holtz.
 

sosa lola

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S6E16: Hell’s Bells: Part 1

I haven’t done a review for a while, but everybody knows my style is to discuss each character separately. Let’s start with the episode’s main character:


1. Xander:

The first scene is Xander surrounded by his family and Krelvin, one of Anya’s demon friends. Xander can’t get anything done as he searches for his cuff-links. It’s notable how Xander’s family are depicted as messy and uncivilized throughout the episode while the demons are written as polite and helpful.

One thing I’ve noticed is the gentle smile Xander casts Krelvin and how he treats him as a person. Most people believe that Xander has a demon xenophobia: unreasonable fear and hate for demons. The exchange between Xander and Krelvin is very friendly, and later Xander will be upset on Krelvin’s behalf when his father, the real bigot, insults Krelvin and his heritage.

Uncle Rory is a character we’ve been hearing about for years and this is the first time we see him. I’ve always had the impression that Xander spent more time with Uncle Rory than his own parents. I also feel that Xander’s way of objectifying women and the slut-shaming of Cordelia in the early seasons were influenced by the way Uncle Rory treats women. The way 16 year old Xander talked about his uncle’s double life in the episode The Dark Age had a touch of awe and admiration, like he wanted to be like his cool uncle.

The quotes about Uncle Rory from earlier seasons:

1) "My Uncle Rory was the stodgiest taxidermist you ever met -- by day -- by night it was booze and whores and fur flying." (Season 2 The Dark Age.)

2) “Uncle Roary stacked up the DUIs, let me rent this bad boy till he's mobile again.” (Season 3 The Zeppo.)

3) Anya: “You’re uncle Rory let me in. Does he always smell like peppermint?”
Xander: “The man likes his schnapps.” (Season 4 Fear, Itself.)

4) ANYA: We'll never get to the airport in time to pick up your stupid uncle.
XANDER: It just gives my uncle Rory more time at the bar. Trust me, he'll be happy.
ANYA: (mouth full) Great. So he can sleep off his drunken stupor on our newly re-upholstered couch.
XANDER: He can't afford a hotel.
ANYA: Why are you defending him?
XANDER: I'm not. I hate my uncle. (Season 6 As You Were)

Then Xander’s parents show up. I liked the actor playing Xander’s father in his Restless dream more. He was more intimidating. I’d say the man in Restless was what Xander’s father looked like when Xander was a kid and he always remembered him and dreamed about him like that, at his most terrifying.

In this scene, Tony Harris showed his ugly racist and bullying colors the second he walked in. When Krelvin payed Xander’s mother a compliment, Xander noticed how annoyed his father was by it and attempted to change the subject. As Tony began insulting Krelvin and his demon family, Xander got exasperated and tried to leave the room.

Interesting that Xander didn’t stand up to Tony here. He never shied away from giving his two scents when he thought something was wrong. Even in OMWF when Giles demanded that Buffy should go alone to face Sweet, it was Xander who questioned that decision later “What if Buffy can’t defeat it?” with a pointed glare directed at Giles. With his own father though, there will always be so much baggage. As a kid, Xander must have walked on egg shells trying to avoid his father’s wrath, and old habits never die. We’re talking 19 years living with his hateful, angry parents. It is not easy to move on from that just a mere two years later.

Jessica Harris was such wreck of a mess. She was jittery, unconfident and super martyred. Her whining about not being in the pictures seemed to annoy Tony just as much as it annoyed Xander.

From that scene alone and the past quotes about Uncle Rory, I can safely say that Tony, Jessica and Rory embody exaggerated characteristics that are in Xander himself. Having lived with those people all his life, Xander clearly takes a lot after his family:

Tony Harris: His sharp tongue, sarcasm and cruelty. In the shooting script, Tony exclaims upon seeing Krelvin: “Aw, Sweet Baby Lord in his high heavenly throne.” That is such a Xander line.

Jessica Harris: Her insecurity and desire for others’ attention. The way Xander felt threatened and upset about Willow dating Oz in Phases even though he didn’t want to date her comes to mind.

Uncle Rory: Objectifying women and the way he uses sense of humor to ease tension. From the shooting script:

UNCLE RORY
It's a joke, he's joking. Like
this one time, at one of Carol's
weddings, I had this ape suit—

TENTACLE DEMON
Oh, good. Another Harris family
joke.

UNCLE RORY
Well, hey, buddy. I'm just
kiddin' around. Someone's gotta
lighten the mood.





Before the Visions:

1) Xander losing his cufflinks. An obstacle averted. Now nothing can’t stop the wedding.
2) The problem with Xander’s cummerbund. He’s been stress-eating for a while and gained more weight.
3) The overwhelming scene of meeting and greeting his guests.

Xander already had the thoughts and fears, but he still wanted to get married. He tells Buffy that he’s happy and even when his supposedly never-seen “uncle” tells him it’s a huge mistake to get married, Xander didn’t listen to him but began humoring him.




The Visions:

One thing to consider here: Xander didn’t just see the visions, he lived them. As the demon says when he showed Xander the orb:

“OLD MAN: It's magic. Very powerful. Look at it. You'll see what I've seen. Feel what I've felt.
Xander stares at the orb. It continues to glow with a strong purple light.

Suddenly the light shoots in a beam from the orb onto Xander's forehead. Then he seems to morph into the beam of light and gets sucked back into the orb.

Throughout the visions, our present Xander is living those scenes, feeling the hatred for Anya as well as the betrayal for her cheating. He was there as his wife and kids grow older and resent him even more, and he’d resent them just as much.

These visions were clearly created out of Xander’s old memories and deepest fears, as the demon will tell Anya later: “His nightmare vision of your future.”

The first scene plays a very familiar scene from Xander’s childhood:

XANDER: You going out again?
ANYA: I'm doing a make-over party.
XANDER: I thought you hated those.
ANYA: Well, one of us has to make some money. (picking up empty beer bottles)

From older quotes by Cordelia and Harmony, we learn that Xander’s father was unemployed and his mother worked at the drive-through. Jessica must have been carrying the weight of the family on the low salary of dead-end jobs and grew to resent her unemployed drunk husband.

ANYA: You had no business fighting demons with her.

That’s another issue Xander used to have with Anya, and probably believes he will have in the future. In S3, Anya had tried to get Xander to flee with her before the apocalypse, not understanding why loyalty to friends was important. In S4, we see Anya trying to convince Xander that all he needed was her, and that he shouldn’t fight with his friends because she didn’t want to lose him. She also tried to get him to not hang out with his friends because he and them had nothing in common. Xander, in all previous occasions, stuck by his friends and didn’t listen to her, and he will continue to sacrifice his life for them in the future.

That conflict between Xander and Anya is something Xander subconsciously fears will negatively affect their relationship as Visions Anya states, “All it did was ruin our lives.”

The second scene shows Xander, Anya and their kids in a restaurant years later. Notice how everyone aged except for Xander, because this is OUR Xander, living and feeling the years of resentment for his family.

What we get from the scene:

1) Xander has a drinking problem just like his parents.
2) Anya is too tired and aggrieved by Xander.
3) Sarah isn’t Xander’s kid. Anya has cheated on Xander with a demon.
4) When Sarah begs Xander to stop Josh from insulting her, Xander shoots her a cold stare – she’s not his daughter and he knows it and hates it – and dryly tells her to ask her mother for help.

Cuckoo in the Nest by Liz-Marcs is an extremely well written fic about Xander’s entire life told from the point of view of Tony Harris. The restaurant scene in Hell’s Bells with all the notes I’ve written reminded me of this excellent character study.

The third and last scene shows Xander and Anya in a very gloomy and dirty kitchen years later. It’s thirty years after the wedding. Anya is old while Xander is still our Xander.

What we get from the scene:

1) Anya complains about being unhappy and wishes she left Xander years ago. (Anya probably never filed for divorce because of the kids, and perhaps Jessica stayed married to Tony for Xander’s sake)
2) Xander complains that they never had “touch” for the last twenty years. Touch obviously means sex, but it could also mean hugs of comfort and kisses of love. Their marriage was doomed when Buffy lost her life because Xander couldn’t save her. Losing Buffy in The Gift had affected Xander greatly. He used to be eager to marry Anya, but after Buffy’s death, the doubts and fears clouded his mind and he couldn’t bring himself to be excited about the wedding anymore. In the visions, losing Buffy again made Xander withdraw from Anya emotionally and physically which caused her to find comfort in the embrace of a demon.
3) Anya yells out Xander’s most frightening worries: “Maybe you were just born to be a bitter, angry, old man.” This was Xander’s biggest fear in his Restless nightmare, all the roads lead back to the basement and Xander is doomed to grow up and be like his father. “That’s not the way out.” Except it was Xander’s only way to get out of the basement where his father was standing.

The other thing Anya yells that scares Xander to death: “I want my life back! If I hadn't married you I wouldn't have had to hate myself for the last THIRTY YEARS!” Anya was terrified of her mortality in The Replacement, this time Anya had only one chance to live her human life at its fullest. Xander’s biggest fear here is Anya wasting her life on someone doomed to become a bitter, angry old man.

Notice how upset he gets when she demands her life back, the way he looks at the floor in defeat. Notice how his wedding clothes are crumpled and his tie untied. All the rage and hate and resentment boil inside him as Anya yells about how much he’d ruined her life, and he grabs the frying pan and swings it toward her face.

That’s when Xander is brought out of the orb and back to the present. He’s terrified, shaking, wide eyed, demanding to know:

“Is she okay? Is she okay? What did I do?”

Completely horrified about what he’s gonna do in the future for the woman he loves, his future self tells him:

“You'll hurt her less today than you will later. Believe me. Sometimes, two people ... all they bring each other ... is pain.”

And Xander knows that’s true. He didn’t just live it in the visions. He lived it in his childhood with his parents. Coming from an abusive home where his parents had constantly screamed at each other and were emotionally abusive to one another. That kind of behavior had a very negative impact on Xander’s emotional development that caused issues with his relationships with other characters.

1) Willow: From When She Was Bad, we could tell that Xander did find Willow attractive, but had always been too scared to engage in a relationship in fear he’d screw it up and lose Willow – his only loving family – forever.

2) Cordelia: When things were beginning to get good and calm, Xander sabotaged his relationship with Cordelia by cheating with Willow.

3) Anya: The visions reveal that Xander will also sabotage his relationship with Anya in the future.

With that in mind we see a troubled Xander walking in circles in the kitchen, miserable and emotionally beaten. The best man, Willow, finally shows up and unintentionally reminds Xander of how he had messed up his previous relationship with Cordelia. He was just doomed to screw up.

Xander walking down the streets, drenched in gloomy rain, thinking about the bleak future and Anya suffering the way his mother suffered with his father. Then the shattering rain stops and the rollercoaster of conflicting thoughts stop along with it. The sky clears up and Xander decides he is not going to go through with the wedding. However, he must go back to tell Anya about his decision.

Xander comes back and finds Anya held captive by a demon. When Buffy helps Anya get free, Anya rushes towards Xander and tells him: “It was all lies, what he showed you… it wasn’t true, he just wanted to break us up.”

Judging by Xander’s still troubled expression and his “it doesn’t matter now”, it appears that damage has already been done. Xander is still going with the decision he made.

Xander is afraid that getting married will bring out the worst in him. That fear has been foreshadowed in Restless. He should not have asked Anya to marry him when he had this crippling fear. Xander’s journey in S6 is the opposite of his journey in S5 where he was continuously climbing up the grown-up ladder: 1) Getting promoted at his own job. 2) Getting a big apartment and moving out of his parents’ basement. 3) Being in a committed relationship with a wonderful woman – who also began to find her footing in the human world by getting a job she likes and creating a separate identity from being nothing but Xander’s girlfriend.

I’m gonna copy/paste a paragraph I’ve written in my fic Fooled by a Sauron: “He’d gotten so cocky that year [S5], everything was going well in his life for once, and he was rapidly climbing up the adult chart. Adult job: check. Adult income: check. Adult apartment: check. Adult relationship: check. What was next on the adult list? Getting married. So Xander had bought the ring.”

I doubt that Xander thought things through when he decided to ask Anya to marry him. I don’t know if what Anya had said about Xander proposing because the world was gonna end to be true. I do feel he genuinely wanted to marry her then, because it was the “next step.” For a long while Xander was Peter Pan, the kid who never grows up, but in S5, he’s grown up a hell faster than any of his friends in the real world.

He was only 19 when he got promoted to construction manager with his own crew and was able to afford a very nice apartment with a balcony and a lot of space. He’d accomplished what most people achieve at an older age. And he was so damn proud of himself: (From “I Was Made to Love You”)

XANDER: One of the cool things about that, you see is, uh, the jamb can be shimmed to be square, even if the opening isn't.
BUFFY: Shimmed? Is that even a real word? Do you have any idea what you're talking about?
XANDER: Yeah, I do. (smiles) Scary, isn't it? I think I've actually turned into someone you want around after a crazed robot attack.

Sick of being seen as the idiot child, Xander was enjoying the respect he was getting now that he was officially regarded as an adult. He didn’t want to stop there. Logically, after getting his life sorted, it was time to settle down disregarding the fact that he was only 20 years old.

But Xander completely forgot that growing up on the outside didn’t necessarily mean he’d grown up on the inside. He still had issues with his parents, as he tells Willow in Forever:

WILLOW: I'm gonna stop by my mom's first. Been doing that a lot lately.
XANDER: Yeah. I actually might stop by your mom's too. (she looks at him) Well, I'm not going to *my* place. Those people are scary.

Willow had managed to reconcile with her mother and they seemed to have a healthier relationship. Xander, on the other hand, still feared his parents and hated being around them. His relationship with them didn’t heal.

So, at the wedding and as Xander tells a brokenhearted Anya that they shouldn’t get married, his gaze lands on his parents viciously fighting at his own wedding. They couldn’t even muster the courtesy to behave for their only son on his wedding day.

Xander was not ready to become an adult yet. He had to sort out his issues and the non-stopping conflict inside him. He still reacts negatively to relationship issues due to anxiety and bad memories resurfacing. He will not be able to commit when he has an inherent distrust and discomfort when faced with relationship drama. Xander will get there when he finally goes to therapy in S10.

In the episode Xander was able to kill the demon that showed him the phony visions effortlessly. He was never shown to be afraid of the monsters that lurk in the night. However, his childhood demons represented by his parents were twice scarier, and unlike the demon he killed, he was unable to “kill” them. Instead, he fled.

The situation was too unbearable that Xander just took off without even considering cleaning up his own mess from announcing the cancelation of the wedding to the guests who had traveled from wherever they were from to attend, to facing his enraged father who spent money on the wedding and the enraged demons who would stand up to a jilted Anya.

For a character known for his bravery, Xander was never more of a coward than in his last scene with Anya in Hell’s Bells.

(Tomorrow, I'll post Part 2. My thoughts on Anya.)
 
thrasherpix
thrasherpix
Looking foward to part 2!

sosa lola

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S6E16: Hell’s Bells: Part 2

2. Anya:


The difference between Xander and Anya is that they are at different stages in their lives: Xander is still very young. He’s only 21 years old. Most 21-year olds are out in the clubs partying and fooling around, no care in the world. Certainly, none I know are looking to settle down any time soon.

Anya, on the other hand, isn’t. She’d lived a long, long, long life. She’s a thousand and more years old. Using my calculator: 2002 (year of the wedding) minus 880 (year of Anya becoming a vengeance demon) equals 1122 years, not including her years before becoming a vengeance demon. She’d lived centuries and seen so much. Last season she was hit with the realization that she was a mortal. Her years were numbered now. She was going to grow old and will eventually die. She is more than ready to take the next step and get married.

What are Anya’s fears? Anya is afraid of being abandoned. Olaf cheated on her with another woman, D’Haffryn turned his back on her when she lost her powers, and Hallie never dropped by once until Anya sent her a wedding invitation. She was abandoned by all the people she loved and trusted throughout the show. Anya had also revealed her fear of abandonment to Xander after Riley abandoned Buffy:

ANYA: If you ever decide to go, I want a warning. You know, big flashing red lights, and-and-and one of those clocks that counts down like a bomb in a movie? And there's a whole bunch of, of colored wires, and I'm not sure which is the right one to cut, but I guess the green one, and then at the last second "No! The red one!" and then click, it stops with three-tenths of a second left, but then you don't leave. (Triangle)

In the beginning, Anya tried to make sure Xander was all hers. She knew about his unrequited feelings for Buffy. She knew about his kissing-affair with Willow. She was afraid Xander would leave her one day for either of them, and it’s reflected on how she wanted to diminish his role within the group and wanted to separate him from his friends:

Anya: Come with me.
Xander: I can't.
Anya: Why not?
Xander: I got friends on the line.
Anya: So?
Xander: That humanity thing's still a work in progress, isn't it?
Anya: Are you really going to be that much help to them? I mean, you'll probably just get in the way. (Graduation Part 1)

Anya: “It’s those people. You continue to associate with them though you share little in common.”
Xander: “What are you talking about?”
Anya: “I mean they go to college, you don’t. They no longer live at home, - you do.” (Fear, Itself)

Anya: Hey! Remember before. No Xander! Not in a boyfriend way or a lead him to a certain death way. (Goodbye Iowa)

Anya: They look down on you.
Xander: And they hate you.
Anya: But they don't look down on me. (The Yoko Factor)


Anya had clung to vengeance earlier and made it her sole identity as she tells Halfrek in Selfless:

ANYA
I'm talking about life. Vengeance is what I do, Halfrek. I don't need anything else. Vengeance is what I am.


And after she lost vengeance, Xander became her life and who she is. She needs nothing but Xander’s love and attention. She clung to him like a frightened child – which she kind of was in the way she tried to make sense of the human world.

Anya’s need to focus on that one thing could be attributed to her having Asperger's/an autistic disorder as a lot of fans speculated. She was depicted as “odd” even before she was turned into a demon. That’s why she was unaware that her comments to Xander and his friends were hurtful and not socially acceptable. Also, it is why throughout S6, her sole attention was on the wedding. In Wrecked, she couldn’t focus on research because her mind was busy thinking about planning for the wedding.


Anya’s Vows:

'I, Anya, want to marry you, Xander, because ... I love you and I'll always love you. And ... before I knew you, I was like a completely different person. Not even a person, really...and I had seen what love could do to people, and it was ... hurt and sadness. Alone was better. And then, suddenly there was you, and ... you knew me. You saw me, and it was this ... thing. You make me feel safe and warm. So, I get it now. I finally get love, Xander. I really do.'

Xander was Anya’s life. She also called him her best friend twice in the episode. That’s actually true. Ever since she became human, no one showed any interest in her. She was alone for the rest of S3 and beginning of S4. At first, Xander was just the only single boy available in the episode The Prom, I’m not sure she was even attracted to him. After prom, Xander was the only person willing to talk to her, the only person she had spent a nice evening with. She became obsessed with him. But it wasn’t “love” yet, as she was willing to run away and leave him behind in S3.

Months of loneliness, Xander was on Anya’s mind, and she returned to see him. They started to have a relationship, and Xander was the only person who enjoyed spending time with her. Buffy, Willow and Giles mostly tolerated her, and in return Anya didn’t really care about them or their friendship. With time, she and the rest of the Scoobies got accustomed to being around each other until they finally started to care for one another.

Overtime, Anya began to appreciate the Scoobies, but her love for them wasn’t anywhere near her love for Xander.

ANYA: No, you see, usually when there's an apocalypse, I skedaddle. But now I love you so much that instead I have inappropriately timed sex and try to think of ways to fight a god ... and worry terribly that something might happen to you. And also worry that something'll happen to me. And then I have guilt that I'm not more worried about everyone else, but I just don't have enough! (The Gift)

This time Anya wasn’t running away because Xander would never run away and leave his friends behind. Her love for him overpowered her understandable need to survive.

From the vows, it is very clear how much Anya loves Xander and that alone shows what a big blow his actions later will be. Anya’s entire world will collapse. She’d built her identity solely on Xander – as shown in her song “I’ll be missus” in Selfless – and knowing that Xander was her everything, losing him meant losing everything.

I don’t think that it accrued to her that losing Xander didn’t mean losing the friends the came along with him: apparently Willow came to talk to her after Xander had left, she seemed to have formed a nice friendship with Tara (we see them hanging out alone in I Was Made to Love You), and also she still had the Magic Box. The world shouldn’t end because Xander left.

To Anya, however, it did. The Scoobies and the Magic Box were mostly accessories, but Xander was the real thing. Without Xander, she didn’t care about the other things.

When Xander left, Anya escaped away to some demon realm or perhaps was taken there by D’Hoffryn, who clearly saw an opportunity to get his Anyanka back. D’Hoffryn coaxed her into taking her job back, reminding her of the old glorious days as a vengeance demon. The calling that was stripped away from her without her consent.

She had always loved being a vengeance demon. We’ve always seen Anya talk so fondly about her past crimes. When Anya became a human, she tried to find someone to cling to, and she found Xander. Now there’s no Xander, so she’d go back to what she loved the most, perhaps even more than Xander himself: vengeance.

Anya, just like Xander, gave in to her weakness and made a bad choice.

Speaking of parallels, Xander wasn’t the only person facing his demons in the episode. Anya was also facing demons from her past. Anya didn’t exactly suffer any consequences for her past crimes, sure she was stripped off her powers and was made to be an 18 year old human girl, but she also got to go to Prom, she got to have an apartment, she got to have a boyfriend who bought her nice things, she was instantly accepted as a new member in the Scooby gang, she got the beautiful apartment she wanted her boyfriend to get, she got to have a job she loved, and eventually she got engaged to the man she loved.

The first time Anya came face to face with her past was Triangle when Olaf showed up. Except the episode was played for comedy and Olaf, Anya’s victim, was treated as a villain and therefore was killed by Buffy.

In Hell’s Bells, another victim of Anya shows up, Stewart Burns, and this time he will succeed in turning Anya’s most glamorous day into her worst nightmare.

I have started a thread about this back in 2012 and it looks very relevant to the episode review:

Who was the real victim?

This storyline has three characters going through three stages:

Stewart Burns

- a womanizer
- gets punished by being turned into a demon and tortured in a hell dimension
- comes back for revenge, to ruin the life of the vengeance demon who ruined his.

Xander Harris

- abusive childhood
- having fears and doubts about marriage and keeping them to himself
- having his mind and body violated by a demon with visions of his worst nightmare


Anya Jenkins

- being cheated on by her boyfriend
- wishing her boyfriend into a troll, becoming a vengeance demon, and then ruining lives of billions of men throughout the centuries
- being punished by one of her victims, with the love of her life leaving her at the altar on her happiest day



How the three of them would avoid this mess?

Stewart Burns

- Don't mistreat women

Xander Harris

- Talk about your fears and concerns with your fiancée and friends.

Anya Jenkins

- Don't become a vengeance demon



The victimhood of those three:

Stewart Burns

- Being turned into a demon, even though it was too extreme and undeserved, was punishment enough. There was no need to send the man to a hell dimension to be trapped and tortured for years.

Xander Harris

- He was caught between the wrath of a punished man and the woman who punished him. He was used and violated to punish Anya for her past crimes.

Anya Jenkins

- For the last few years, Anya became Xander's loving and faithful girlfriend, was one of the good guys, helped saving the world, had a job, and was getting accustomed to being human. She did not deserve the humiliation of being jilted at the altar in front of her friends and family.


After Stage Number Three:

Stewart Burns

- It wasn't enough he hurt and humiliated Anya by having the groom running away, he wanted to kill her as well.

Xander Harris

- Running away from the wedding, leaving his mess to his bride and friends to clean.

Anya Jenkins

- Goes back to be a vengeance demon and plans to get back at Xander by murdering him through a wish.



Was It Understandable?

Stewart Burns

- Watching Anya cry was satisfying but didn't compare to what he was put through. It didn't compare to years of being tortured in a hell dimension, to being separated forever from his family, to being doomed to live a life of a demon. Anya needed to die for what she'd done to him.

Xander Harris

- It's not easy growing with alcoholic parents who hated each other, getting too wasted to the point of trying to sell their child and not recognizing his voice on the phone. Forcing the child to sleep outside on Christmas, dreaming about his father ripping his heart out of his body. Xander couldn't go through this again, he couldn't let Anya live through this, and he couldn't be expected to get over hours of believing he was going to grow up to be an abusive, murderous husband in a few minutes.

Anya Jenkins

- She was left at the altar. She had dedicated her life to loving Xander, she learnt to trust men again through Xander, and now he just proved he was just like the other men she had been summoned to punish. Xander was her everything, and now she lost him, she had nothing left but to return to what she knew best: being a vengeance demon.

Who was the real victim?

All three were, and all three weren’t. I guess it depends on who you sympathize with the most.


(Part 3 about the rest of the characters will be posted tomorrow.)
 

Mr Trick

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For the first time I actually really like this episode. I think a lot of the ill feeling towards it is probably because people are down the Anya-Xander relationship in general. The relationship in S6 is not the best. But the drama of Hell's Bells works really well. Its great writing in the way it allows you to see both sides of the argument and to feel sad for both Xander and Anya. I do think Xander was thinking about Anya when he made the decision at the end. Fair to say he handled it badly and should have been honest about his feelings sooner.

I like how the episode plays into the themes of this series and the show as a whole. The mixing of Demons and humans is diverse, but it also doesn't sugar coat the bigotry aimed at people who are seen as different in the real world. One scene I liked was Dawn interacting with the teenage demon. It maybe suggests that like Buffy she wouldn't be against dating or at least socializing with a demon.

One nice note of trivia for Seinfeld fans is that Lee Garlington who plays Xander's Mother was in the pilot of Seinfeld as Clare the waitress. She was originally going to be a long standing cast member before Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was cast. She also starred in Psycho 2 and 3 among other movies.

But yeah I'm putting it out there. Hell's Bells gets a bad rap and is actually season 6 gem! Come for me people!:p
 
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