cinquespotted asked: Ok, your Riley-as-intersection-between-two-opposing-ideas really works for me, because it gets at who he could have been but wasn't because of what you go on to list. I keep thinking Xander's speech about Riley works and doesn't work, and makes me feel like I'm missing something--yes, she treated him like a rebound and that was not...fantastic, so that works--but then he says Riley was one in a lifetime and I...didn't get that? I'd like to see where that was supposed to be coming from. Thoughts?
OK, it has been YEARS since I watched those seasons of Buffy….at first I was like, “Xander gave a Riley-centric speech? Huh?” and then, as you described it, it came back to me like a horrible nightmare.
Because I think I’ve been up front about this in the past (and you, at least, definitely know this), but to be absolutely clear: I. HATE. XANDER.
It’s pretty clear that Joss thought of Xander as his everyman/authorial mouthpiece but he was soooooo wrong. Because being an everyman does not give you special access to morality, not even in a world where morality is tied to the burden of everyday life. Like Buffy says, living is the hardest thing to do in this world—harder than the things that are technically hard, harder than quests and burdens and honor. Day-to-day life, your high school humdrum life, your job, your family—those are the hardest things.
And Joss thinks Xander—by being the guy inextricably tied to mundanity by virtue of his unexptionalness—gets some sort of bonus helping of morality. And he couldn’t be more wrong. I think the ACTUAL POINT here is that there are people who have struggled—who continue to struggle—so much with these everyday things (Anya, Spike, Buffy, post-breakdown Willow) that their struggles? THAT’S the special access to morality. Not Xander’s blase acceptance of his own mundane status.
SO. TO BE CLEAR: whenever Xander did one of his I-have-all-the-answers-let-me-mansplain-for-a-hot-minute speeches? I hated it. I almost always took the opposite point of view on principle.
(LAST NOTE: For me? Anya and Spike are the best things to come out of this show. In both cases, they were throwaway characters. Spike wasn’t supposed to live out his first episode, let alone that first season. And Anya was CLEARLY a fill-in for Cordelia in her conception. But both of these characters—whether by the simple brilliance of the actors playing both roles or by some accidental quirk of genius—demonstrate the kind of arc that I thought made Buffy great. The message was: everyday is hardest. These two agreed—and then gritted their teeth and lived.]