Recently, I’ve been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer all over again. It’s been fun remembering characters that were my favorite, remembering ones I hated, and of course, remembering the antics of the Scoobies.
Tonight I saw Hell’s Bells. In this episode a lot of things are gifted to us. We finally get to see the disembodied, angry, yelling voices that were for 4 seasons plus, Xander’s parents. We finally see Buffy and Spike treat each other with true affection and respect (in my opinion), and Wil and Tera start making with the snuggly eyes again (!).
While all this rocks, the thing that hit me hard, was not so much the evil demon coming to ruin the wedding disguised as a elderly version of Xander:
what hit me was more to do with Xander’s parents. His dad is an absolute a-hole. He drinks, is disrespectful to everyone around him, and his wife suffers his disrespect almost sheepishly.
Even Buffy seems used to Mr. Harris and his shenanigans. Even then, it’s not so much his parents but his reaction to them in this very vulnerable and public setting.
You see, the part that kicked my butt, was when Anya is telling Xander everything is going to be okay. The visions were false. They can live happily ever after. All they have to do is get married. Then Xander looks over to his father. Once again his father is causing a scene, being drunk and disrespectful. In that moment, possibly 1 second of screen time, I see the character’s mind working and I recognize it, and what I recognize breaks my heart because I get it.
His parents loved each other once (theoretically) and now, look at them. Look at how his life he was. See how he was raised. See what Love becomes.
Why would he want to continue that legacy? Why would he want to marry this woman he loves and cherishes only to utterly betray her and ruin her life? To no longer be her “best friend” (as she often said he was) and become her worst enemy?
It’s hard to fight a family legacy of pain and torment. I often wondered as a child, how could I get married? What does love look like? How can I have a happy family and love when I am not sure I can understand it? What examples have I been given? Suddenly it’s my happiness and my husband’s happiness and goodness, eventually, my children’s happiness. How can someone who has never understood family, have one?
It’s very overwhelming. It’s very scary. Possibly more so than inviting demons to the wedding.
At the same time, as I sat on the couch silently hoping he would walk down that isle with Anya, (even though I knew he wouldn’t) I had another thought.
He is such a coward. I get the trauma. I get feeling like it was all too fast. I also realize that basing your happiness or future happiness on your parent’s choices is dumb as heck (unless you find out your bride to be is your half sister, then run my love and never look back!). Xander has traits his father has, how could he not? It seemed to me though, Xander was actually fighting against the more horrible facets of his learned ways and winning. So why not vow to not be like his father, and work on being a better person?
I am not a nice person. I can be crabby, cruel with my words, and unfair. I am more often than I like to admit, like that with my husband. It’s a crazy thing though, after I am a supreme B-word, often I realize my mistake. I apologize and I try to grow. I don’t run off and get a divorce or give up because suddenly I am becoming my mother. No, it’s a daily battle! Never give up and never surrender! Happiness isn’t easy, it takes commitment, time, and communication to happen! Not staring across the room at your drunken father and thinking, “Well if this amazing example of manhood can’t do it, what chance have I?” and then walking away!
So while this episode hits home with me, truly it does, it also makes me mad. My happiness is based on my decisions. Mine. My parent’s life choices aren’t a predestined map of how my life will turn out.
Ah well. As always, Joss has a bead on a very important societal theme, and I am very glad he wrote about it. But I still want to kick Xander in the face for leaving Anya at the alter. Arse.
All images used in this post are screenshots from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Hell’s Bells. These images are not mine but originally owned by Mutant Enemy Productions.