Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Replacement   Rewatch 
October 21, 2015 10:19 PM - Season 5, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Xander is struggling to move forward in life, but when a demon splits him into his strongest and weakest selves he is able to recognize his own strengths.
posted by yellowbinder (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This episode was [relatively] hard on Xander. I guess it's as close as that piece of crap gets to getting his comeuppance in this show, although he really didn't.
posted by ftm at 11:23 PM on October 21, 2015

This episode was [relatively] hard on Xander. I guess it's as close as that piece of crap gets to getting his comeuppance in this show, although he really didn't.

I have been hard on Xander throughout, but honestly Season 4 and 5 Xander are the best Xander there is. Other than a few blips, he's generally a decent person. He's also very much a background character. This marks the second episode in Xander's character journey. In the Zeppo he realised he could be "cool" in high school, and acheive something without bragging about it. Here it's about realising that he has the capacity and talent to become an adult.

While Xander managing to get such a good job and apartment on such a low turn around is a bit silly, I'll buy it, and I'm happy with the positioning for him at this point, and to be honest essentially the rest of the show. The Xander at the end of this episode is basically who Xander is until Season 7 close, relationship based woes aside.

This is a fun episode, and fairly cleverly structured. We can absolutely believe that rubbish Xander is the real Xander, and the reveal that it's not a demon at all but his better self is a nice plot moment, and a nice character moment at the same time. It's also funny too! While Season 5 is mostly about Buffy, it will give us a bit of time for Xander and Willow to have their mini plots in the background (Giles, on the other hand, has no arc at all this season. Clearly he needed to help Ethan break out of prison).

-Toth's plan is to hit Buffy with a slow firing magic stick, splitting her in two then killing the weaker part. Here's a thought: use a gun!
-"Good work Dawn, you gave mom a headache". Dawn is less present in this episode, although we have time to see some bickering. Also the first signs of... the illness.
-"Sometimes we all help to save you."
-"Wait til you have an evil twin, see how you handle it!" "I handled it just fine."
-"I will not miss again slayer" (Immediately misses)
-"Doesn't it make you want to lock them in seperate rooms and do experiments. Sadly, the psych grad Riley we see for a second here we never see again
-Anya wants double Xander to stay around a bit longer... I'm not sure if I'd be comfortable with doing that with a double me either.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:33 PM on October 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Had a truly odd Hollywood moment circa 1999, when I was out shopping for dresses with my girlfriend K. We were walking down Melrose, when all of a sudden K started tugging on my arm and going, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!" I turned around to find out what she was squeaking about, and there, seated at an outdoor cafe, was Nicholas Brendon. We were both major Buffy fans so we ran over and started to geek all over him about how much we loved the show. But then while we were still mid-gush Nicholas cut us off and said that he WASN'T Nicholas, he was Nicholas' twin brother, Kelly. There was this awkward pause while we tried to figure out if he really was Nicholas Brendon and this was just some weird lie he'd tell to get rid of fans, or if he really was Nicholas Brendon's twin brother and if so what we were supposed to say. Finally we just kind of muttered, "Well, tell your brother we love his show."

Afterwards we looked it up, and sure enough, Nicholas Brendon had a twin brother named Kelly. At the time the stuff we read made it sound like Kelly Brendon just worked as a real estate agent or something, he wasn't an actor. (I think this episode, where Kelly played one of the Xanders, aired not so long after that.)

I remember thinking that his life had to be sheer hell. Sibling rivalry is bad enough normally, but imagine if you had some actor brother running around who looked just like you, a brother who was on a popular teen show, and every day of your life people were coming up to you and saying, "Excuse me, are you your brother?" And then they acted all disappointed when it turned out you were just you. Every day, when you went off to your pokey job at the real estate office, people would come in and say, "Hey, it's Nicholas Brendon, Xander from TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer! What are you doing working in a real estate office, Nicholas?" And you'd have to explain over and over again that you weren't the cool Brendon, the famous actor Brendon, you were just his lookalike brother.

In the years since, things haven't been going too well for Nicholas Brendon. Doing a quick Google search, I see he's just made the headlines for entering rehab after a series of violent incidents and a couple of suicide attempts. Not to be flippant, but it must be hard on Kelly Brendon in a whole other way. Now he doesn't just have fans asking him to sign their Buffy tattoos, but he's probably also got strangers saying nasty stuff about him choking his girlfriend or asking why he's not in rehab like he said he was going to be.

Wow. This started as a goofy little anecdote and got pretty dark in a hurry. (Sorry, didn't mean to harsh the rewatch!) Well, here's hoping Nicholas Brendon gets his shit figured out, and here's hoping Kelly Brendon has grown a big beard or something so people aren't constantly mistaking him for his famous, troubled brother.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:34 AM on October 22, 2015 [9 favorites]

I know this marks me as the least curious person in the world, but I genuinely didn't think about the fact that there were two Xander's on screen! I assumed it was just camera trickery rather than twin brothery! That's rather cool. Yeah Brendon has had a lot of problems, I seem to recall rumours that his problems were why his role gets progressively smaller on the show, but I can't now source those.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:48 AM on October 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I feel kind of bad about the end of that post, now. I was trying to close on a lighter note but I feel like I kind of trivialized a genuinely sad situation. I don't even know what to say about Nicholas Brendon's troubles, really. I hope he can turn things around.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:06 AM on October 22, 2015

I have a friend who swore up and down that Kelly was subbing for Nicholas for years at cons, and she came perilously close to saying that it was actually Kelly who got in trouble the first time.
posted by Etrigan at 6:19 AM on October 22, 2015

I have to confess I kind of like this episode, even though I don't like Xander. There is something very satisfying about seeing him be so completely inept and inane in his weaker half, it's like the show's writers are finally admitting what a crappy character he is. On the other hand, pathetic Xander isn't also a sexually jealous creep, which he really should have been if it was the sum of all his unattractive qualities. But together Xander is actually a half-decent guy, has a good and insightful conversation with Anya about why she's so freaked out. It makes me want to protest them having to re-merge at the end of the episode. Can't we just lose pathetic Xander altogether?

The other part that I really like about this one is Riley's speech at the end about Buffy and how much he loves her, and the quiet, accepting way he says, "But she doesn't love me". I can almost see it, for a little bit, about how he loves her so much that he is content just to be around her, be useful and helpful to her however he can be. Sadly, this is not borne out in the next episode at all, but just for that little moment after he admits it to Xander and then she comes and hugs him and kisses him, it's just achingly poignant.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:26 AM on October 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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