This is the transcript to a bonus episode we posted on our public Patreon feed. This is an extended conversation of our main episode on our podcast: season one, episode six. We recommend you listen/read the main episode first before you listen to the bonus episode.
Helloooo good listeners, welcome to this bonus episode where I just wanted to take the opportunity to get even MORE nerdy about Buffy if that is even possible – let me show you how it’s possible.
I didn’t have the space to include this in the main episode, but there’s even more to discuss about the love spell that Xander does with Amy in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, and how that spell plays out in Xander’s relationships. Could there be a very peculiar, magical kind of throuple story arc between Xander, Cordelia and Anya written into the series, hiding in plain sight?
Stay with me! We’ll connect the dots!
Just a heads up, this IS a bonus episode, a little addendum really, to the main episode I just released, which is episode six, how (not) to cast a love spell. I recommend listening to that before you listen to this, as we are just extending the conversation a bit.
And yes this is full of Buffy spoilers, so…there you are warned.
Alright, here we go!
My brain actually exploded while re-watching Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered this time around, at the fact that I’ve never noticed this before in the 20,000 previous times I’ve watched this episode.
As we discussed in our main podcast episode, your intentions with a love spell determine what happens with the spell. Your intentions are what you call toward you. Remember this:
[Amy: “Oh, I don’t know Xander. Intent has to be pure with love spells.
Xander: “Right. I intend revenge. Pure is the driven snow.”]
I intend revenge. Xander baked in revenge into the foundation of his love spell. In other words, I call toward me vengence, in other words, I did a love spell to call into my life a VENGENCE DEMON!!!
Insert whatever sound effect sounds like a mind being blown here.
[sound effect: robot computer mind being blown]
Now, we know from the season 3 episode, The Wish – this is of course, after Cordelia really for real this time breaks up with Xander because he cheated on her. Anya comes to Sunnydale pretending to be a high school student, but she’s actually Vengence Demon called to grant a wish and enact revenge on behalf of this scorned woman.
[Cordelia: “She was like a good fairy. A scary, veiny good fairy!”]
Of course Cordelia’s wish doesn’t turn out so well for her because she DIES, but then it’s all okay because Giles saves the day. Yay Giles!
In honestly, one of my favourite heroic moments in the whole series that I often come back to in my personal life when I’m in that space of like, I don’t know what I’m fighting for, I don’t know how this thing in my life could ever change, I’m just running on faith and have no idea if it’s going to amount to anything…
[Anya: “How do you know the other world is any better than this?”
Giles: “Because it has to be.”]
We love you, Giles!
Giles breaks Anya’s spell, the wish is redacted and everything goes back to normal, except Anya is turned back into a human by her shitty boss D’hoffryn, because that’s her punishment for failing, once, at one job!
[Anya: “I’m 1120 years old, just give me a fricken beer!”]
So we all assume that Anya was called to Sunnydale because she felt Cordelia’s pain. That’s how it works with Vengeance demons. But what if she also came because Xander summoned her through this love spell! What if Anya was summoned by two conflicting otherworldly callings coming from Sunnydale, and that mix of magic was a force flowing through her, throughout her entire journey on the series.
Xander did a love spell for Vengence, and not only did a Vengence Demon come, she came and fell in love.
Now we know that Cordelia was protected from Xander’s love spell since she’s the only one who didn’t fall in love with him, but here we see that Cordelia was also protected from the spell’s main intent. She was protected from Vengence.
Cordelia was the first human in centuries that messed up Anya’s curse. In the 1120 years that Anya has been alive, she had never failed before in enacting Vengeance, until she tried it on behalf of Cordelia!
There’s one part of The Wish that drives me bonkers in this episode. Anya’s wearing a necklace with a pendant. That pendant, we find, is her power source. If someone breaks the pendant, the way that Giles did, her curse would break and she would fail at her mission. So why the fuck would she do this:
[Cordelia: “Is that Gucci?”
Anya: “Ah, no. It’s an actual old thing, sort of a good luck charm my Dad gave me.”
Cordelia: “Too bad I didn’t have that pre-Xander.”
Anya: “Here. I think you need it more than I do right now.”]
Why on earth and in world made of shrimp would Anya just give Cordelia her power source? That makes no sense!
It does make sense if she’s under a spell.
The only reason Giles is able to save the day is because he finds the pendant on Cordelia and figures out what’s going on, and how to stop it.
The fact that Anya willingly gives Cordelia her necklace is the only reason why her curse eventually fails.
All this time, I thought it was just kind of sloppy writing, like that they had to put this little thing in there just to make the plot work.
But if you look at it from the lens of Xander’s love spell: Cordelia was protected from his intent for revenge, as we discussed in the main episode, the spell actually may have awakened her inner Warrior, which has a much greater purpose, and doesn’t have time to spend her energy getting back at a shitty boyfriend – in this sense she was also protected from her own desire for Vengeance, so much that Anya couldn’t even properly curse anyone on Cordelia’s behalf.
That creates a whole new perspective for why Anya would so weirdly sabotage her own success in this moment:
[Anya: “Here, I think you need this more than I do right now.”]
That’s the spell talking, people! That’s the spell!!
When you re-watch the beginning of Xander and Anya’s love story, Anya sounds like someone who is under the thrawl of Xander’s love spell!
[Anya: “I can’t stop thinking about you. Sometimes in my dreams, you’re all naked. When I think of something bad happening to you, it feels bad inside. Like I might vomit.”
Xander: “Welcome to the world of romance.”
Anya: “It’s horrible!”]
I don’t believe that Xander and Anya’s entire relationship was a lie, or that she was just under some hypnosis the whole time. I think they genuinely grew to love each other in a relationship with genuine problems and flaws.
But here’s the thing about a love spell: When you write something faulty into the foundation of your love spell, with or without magic, if there’s something that’s not quite about love built into the foundation of your relationship and it doesn’t get addressed: it will unconsciously continue to grow. It will be unnoticed and also completely obvious. It will subconsciously drive your relationship in significant ways, in significant moments, until it either breaks you up, or you learn to recognize it, tend to it, choose to break those faulty agreements, and repair them with something else that reflects the kind of love and relationship you actually want.
If you call love into your life through a love spell, the spell doesn’t just go away when you meet your person. The magic infuses itself like a charge throughout your entire time together. When Xander calls love into his life in the spirit of revenge, we finally see that spell coming into full form in the season six episode Entropy: after Xander leaves Anya at the altar, she turns back into a Vengeance demon, and coming full force to take revenge on Xander.
Except, she can’t do it. Not just because of technicalities in Vengeance Demon rules, but because she is too human. Anya’s humanity is too well formed by that point. Her heart isn’t in the Vengeance anymore. I spoke about this way more in detail and
Anya’s full character arc in my previous podcast episode, episode four, which is called Self-Full.
But here we can see clearly that through the perspective of the love spell, Anya is literally caught in the middle of Cordelia and Xander’s season 2 relationship, and she’s living out what they each called forth in her.
Xander called forth Anya’s revenge. But Cordelia broke Anya’s spell, thereby calling forth Anya’s humanity.
Anya’s entire character arc is built on this this tension between am I Vengence or am I human?
Remember what Giles said about love spells in Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered:
[Giles: “People under a love spell, Xander, are deadly. They lose all capacity for reason!”]
[laughing] Oh, Giles, you kill me! We continue to love you!
As we discussed in the main episode: what Giles is describing here is love without autonomy.
So actually the full completion of this love spell does not come to pass in Entropy, when Anya’s trying to get revenge on Xander. The spell comes to fruition in season seven, Selfless. This is when Anya finally decides for herself that she’s not Vengence anymore. And she chooses love for herself, with Autonomy. This is where she chooses to be human, and to be herself, not just from letting other people or her circumstances define her, but by being brave enough to learn how to define herself for her self. This marks the moment that fully breaks the spell that Xander cast way back in season 2, and frees them all from it.
[mind blown sound effect]
I guess the only question now is what would be their throuple name…
I’ll leave it to yall to figure it out. Until next time Giants!