Great performance from NB in both roles, you wish you'd had more Xander eps in later seasons but instead he get's squeezed out by the girls. Worth it for the snoopy-dance alone.
Anya says she wants a car, puppy, child and boat. But didn't she refer to her car in
Graduation Day pt2?
"Kill us both Spock"
Women good/men bad;
None but Giles fends off the demon using a fertility statue, the power of the female.
Buffy and Riley can't keep their hands off each other, nipping to the bedroom for a quick smooch even when house-hunting. The estate agent quite shamelessly throws herself at cool Xander. Interesting that she assumes Riley is 'Mr Harris' at first, he is the guy you'd want as a tennant. Anya wants to take both Xander's back to her place and have a threesome with them, maybe it's not just men who fantasise about group sex with twins/triplets/sisters/mother and daughter(s)? As indeed Dopplegangland suggests, thinking about it. Dawn is quite the voyeur and seems to enjoy spying on Buffy and Riley smooching. The Xanders checked out some stuff in the car but one Xander quickly qualifies this as fingerprints. Anya refers to herself as Xander's slave.
Spike's mannequin speaks of his Buffy obsession. Xander has been a soldier, clad in leather (The Wish) and now a construction worker. Half way to being his own Village People tribute band. When Xander refers to his love for Anya Willow replies 'Really?'. Riley and Buffy's car conversation is loaded with not-so hidden meaning. Riley tells Buffy he loves her unconditionally and she doesn't say the same back. The final revelation between Riley and Xander in the basement probably stems from this.
Riley lapses back into scary goverment mode by saying he wants to lock both Xander's up and perform experiments on them (although as a psychology student I know what he means)
Scoobies to the ER;
No but Anya still licking her wounds
Scoobies in bondage:
Scoobies knocked out: Xanderx2. Giles comments on his constantly being knocked out
Buffy: one demon so 85 vamps, 29 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot
Giles: 5 vamps, 1 demon
Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon
Will: 4 vamps
Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human
Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie
Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans
Xander: 5 vamps, 2 zombies, a demon, a demon
Anya: a demon
Riley; 12 vamps + 7 demons
Scoobies go evil:
Alternate scoobies: cool Xander. Willow also refers to her own evil double, VampWillow and claims she handled it fine (by shooting her with a tranquiliser gun and sending her back to another dimension to get staked?)
Recurring characters killed: 9
Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh, Forrest, McNamara
Total number of scoobies: 7
Giles, Xander, Willow, Buffy, Anya, Tara, Riley
Xander demon magnet: 5(6?)
Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?), Dracula?
Scoobies shot: no but Anya owns a gun, a snub nosed revolver.
Notches on Scooby bedpost:
Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny and 3xDraccy babes?
I guess if one of your lead actors has an identical twin it seems a tremendous shame not to include them in an episode at some stage? (Terminator star Linda Hamilton is the only other actor who I can think off in this regard however, can anyone name any more?). Terrific performance from NB on all counts.
Now I heard that the original idea for this ep was a version where Buffy and Xander get zapped and he get's her powers (very similar to an old ep of Superman; Lois and Clark). She has to adjust to being normal once more and he revels in being a superhero and has sex with the entire female cast including Joyce (but except Dawn obviously!), even lesbian Tara unable to resist the ultimate alpha-male. But the power starts to drive him gradually insane which is why the Slayer always has to be a female. Now you can see where they went with this, it has elements of The Replacement in it plus Helpless, Superstar and Him. Some nice moments between Buffy and Riley too and the final scene between Riley and Xander is probably the most touching they'll ever have, Xander seems to be the confidant for all the Scoobies. Riley comments on Buffy's ice-skating film obsession, wonder what she made of MT in Ice Princess? Joyce refers to her headaches but blames them on living with 2 teenage girls rather than anything more. We get to see the Snoopydance, yay! Xander thinks his double is a robot (Ted, I was made to Love you, Intervention). Anyone intrigued to see what pure Buffy and pure Slayer might be like? (Superbimbo and a blonde version of the first Slayer?) Why do both Xanders change into the same clothes prior to the spell? Anya anticiaptes many years before her death, not that many.
The Replacement was a perfectly character driven episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I really enjoyed watching this episode and seeing a different side of Zander. This episode was focused on his character and it was nice to see him grow into the man he becomes. I thought that the end was particularly touching when Zander and Riley have a male heart to heart and Zander realizes the truth about Riley and Buffy's relationship. I thought the story of this episode was exceptional, and a great way to tell the story. There was plenty of action, drama, and humor as usual!!!!!
Ah, the first semi-goofy episode of Season Five. And the best part... it's all about my main man Xander!
Not nearly as good as 'The Zeppo' from Season Three, but Xander-centric epsiodes are always welcome. Feeling the pangs of not having a college education and a steady income, Xander starts to assess his seemingly unimportant station in life. It doesn't help that his girlfriend, Anya, is pressuring him to buy a swank apartment in Sunnydale he can't really afford. Meanwhile, a pissed-off blacklight demon bushwhacks Giles at the Magic Shop looking to put the hurt on Buffy. After hunting the demon down in the Sunnydale junkyard, Xander gets split into TWO Xanders when the blacklight demon hits him with a mystical blast from his mystical staff-weapon-thing.
Fun coming-of-age episode. It's a hoot to watch Xander helplessly follow his "twin" around town and watch him do everything Xander does... but better. There's some great moments between Xander and Willow that reminds you how deep of a friendship the two share. Also, Anya has some classic lines as she ponders the idea of having sex with TWO Xanders. Amid all the fun, there's a serious undertone concerning Riley and Buffy's relationship as well. A real punch-to-the-gut ending to a light filler-episode. Good times.
The Replacement-The demon Toth fires a strange weapon at the Slayer, but Xander jumps in front of Buffy at the last moment. The blast sends him sprawling into a mound of debris, but after chasing off the demon the Scoobies collect Xander who seems to be dazed but alright, and walk him home.
A few hours later, a second, very confused Xander crawls out of the debris and makes his way towards home.
While "The Replacement" doesn't compare to other great Xander centric episodes like "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" or "The Zeppo", it was still a while since we got another Xander episode and atleast "The Replacement" gives Nicholas Brendon another chance to do what he does best, which is acting like big goof and it pays off in this episode. Nicholas is entertaining throughout as usual when Xander is literally split in two. He also does a fine job of playing both Xanders, where one is a paranoid, negative Xander and the other is a smooth talking, confident Xander. Also, some scenes are just hilarious with Xander doing the Snoopy dance for Willow and Xander being scared of a smushed nickle. Then there's Anya's "I was thinking, I can take them home and we can all have sex together", lol.
I liked the demon Toth, the make-up crew did a great job on his look and the character also provided a priceless moment where Buffy thinks Toth's name is a british term for really annoying person. It's alson a great development that Xander finally gets his own place as the basement setting was getting tedious for viewers as much as Xander. My only real problem in the episode is Riley telling Xander at the end that Buffy doesn't love him...what? I never got this development and it truly hurt Riley as character since it came out of no where, who really cares? All and All, "The Replacement" is a fun little episode for Xander fans, but not one of the best for the character.
The Replacement is a good episode that has a lot of good jokes, an interesting foe and some nice plot development. The lookalike thing was done in "Doppelgangland" and while this episode is good, it is nowhere near the masterpiece that "Doppelgangland" was. The main reason I'm not a big fan of this episode is probably because I'm not a Xander fan- I find him funny in small doses but besides that he tends to annoy me. Still, a good episode definitely worth watching.
Toth was a really good demon of the week- he looked very convincing, actually had a good plan besides "Kill Slayer" and had some funny lines. The whole confrontation between him and Giles in the Magic Box was very funny- "That is a fertility god. Feeble man", always gets me. He's not the greatest enemy but he works well here.
The whole Xander-split-in-two may be great for Xander fans but since I'm not one, it doesn't do a whole lot for me. It contains some good jokes (the whole threesome thing was hilarious) but overall falls flat for me. The whole idea of the Ferula Gemini was good though and Nicholas Brendon was great all episode.
The Buffy/Riley drama is something that is really stale by this stage. Their relationship doesn't interest me in any way whatsoever and the bit at the end with his speech is one of the most cringey things I've ever witnessed on the show. Why would anyone ever say that horrible, overdramatic, "poetic" speech? It really is one of those moments where you have to look away from the screen. Marc Blucas was so-so here also- he's not bad but he just doesn't add anything to Riley- anyone could play Riley the way he does.
The Replacement is a decent episode; funny, good plot and good development. It's not a favourite of mine but it is enjoyable and has some nice Xander/Anya scenes.
A demon named Toth fires a strange weapon at Buffy, but Xander jumps in front of her, and lands in trash and debris. The Scoobies help him out and take him home, but a second Xander, who is dazed and confused, later walks out of the debris and makes his way home.
I loved when Xander was shirtless. Rawr. :) Dawn is EXACTLY like my friend's older sister. That's why I like her. I like Buffy the most though. She's hot. Plus, she always has hot boyfriends. I liked the storyline though. It was pretty good, and Buffy is pretty hot.
This was one of most enjoyable episodes in season 5. Having two Xander's is really cool. What's even more cooler, the other guy playing the other Xander is Nicholos Brendon twin brother. It was cool seeing Xander get jelous of the other Xander escpecially when the other Xander does everything better. Anya wants Xander to buy his own apartment. Anya was a little annoying because she kept bugging him about getting an apartment but she makes up for it by saying really funny lines. It's also funny that Xander thinks the other Xander is putting all his friends under a spell with a coin. He got jelous so easily. I love the ending of this episode. It has a different twist. I like that both Xander's were one person if that makes sense. Anyways it was really cool.
I loved Toth! He was great because most demons that want to kill Buffy don't really have strategy but Toth did. He wanted to separate Slayer Buffy from the human Buffy and that was interesting.
I loved Giles and his fight with Toth in the magic box. Who would have thought that a fertility God's statue would make a weapon?!
The fact that Toth missed and hit Xander instead made for a comical episode. Two Xanders was a little weird to start off with. I really thought that one of them was evil. The overly confident Xander seemed like the bad guy to me at first. I liked that they were both Xander and no one was evil. I kinda liked confident Xander getting the promotion at work and buying the apartment for Anya. I loved that when they realized both Xanders were Xander that Anya wanted to take them home to have sex with both of them. Anya was just so brilliant in that scene and yet so Anya.
It was so obvious here that Riley and Buffy were gonna break up soon. They were really quite terrible together and Riley knew that she didn't love him and was not going to so I wanna know why the idiot stayed.
Yay, a Xander episode. There was a plethora of these in Seasons 1-3, but lately, not so much. I suppose that the writers didn’t really know what to do with his character – he couldn’t be the geeky goofball forever, but on the other hand it would be ridiculous if he were to suddenly develop magical powers or become the hero. So we have this episode. To set the scene: Xander’s life sucks. His hot plate is broken, his job’s about to end, he lives in a “really nice hovel”, where his evenings in are tempered by his parents’ arguments, his attempts to massage Anya end in tears and worst of all, his dress sense is appalling. Xander needs a new life and this time he won’t get it via his uncle’s car and some zombie bomb-makers. And things are gonna get much worse before they get better.
The other person somewhat left behind in Season 4, Giles, is also starting anew: setting up The Magic Box and getting smacked by a demon in a gimp-mask before it’s even opened. On the lookout for Toth at the town dump, they bump into Spike. Sunnydale is a small, if ever-growing, town after all. Spike is also on the lookout - for a Buffy substitute that he can hit and then touch tenderly afterwards. No, not Harmony, a dresser’s mannequin. Enough with the weird obsessiveness already. The gang finds Toth, who zaps Xander during a misplaced act of heroism when he is trying to protect Buffy. I can’t help but feel that it would have been a more interesting episode had they split Buffy into the Summers part of her and the Slayer part, and then had the ordinary girl half wanting the powers and the destiny and the ultimate Slayer half envying the girl’s simpler life. Anyway, that story would probably fit better into Season 2, and so here we have two Xanders. Of course, there are several misleads: we believe that the gimp demon has taken over Xander’s body, that he is hypnotising people with a flattened coin, that the well dressed Xander is Bad, or an evil robot. Well, maybe not the last one. But the actual story is that Xander has been split between his self-pitying, pathetic, clumsy side who runs to Buffy every time there’s a problem, and his suave, capable, confident side who can charm the ladies, handle a gun, punch out versions of himself and get promoted. He is also romantic and tender. When inviting Anya over from her rather delightful fin de siècle appartment (where exactly does she get the money?), she becomes upset about her broken arm and the mortality she’s just realised she is beholden to. She wants to hurry on with life, get a car and a baby and a puppy (methinks she’s been playing The Game of Life with Dawn a little too often) to stave off wrinkles and death. Suave Xander understands and tends to her worries, although suave viewer can’t help but feel sad because we know of Anya’s ultimate fate. Meanwhile Scruff Xander is doing the Snoopy dance for Willow and bemoaning his fate, how he’s just a “great humiliation” (forgetting all the times he’s saved the world) and how the other Xander is better and smarter (not realising that other Xand is part of him). He thinks he should just let Suave Xander have his life, but what he doesn’t realise is that the other part of him is doing something with his existence, making choices that will enable Xander, once whole again, to move on with life. The message is that we are all weak and strong at the same time and, as mooted, if the gang were to kill one Xander, the other would also die: we need both parts of ourselves. I think that we follow Pathetic Xander’s story because, just like him, we tend to focus on the negative parts of ourselves. Pathetic Xander hides behind Confident Xander in the showdown with gimp demon, suggesting that Xander needs to show the world his confident side and hide his pathetic one. To give the story a post modern twist, in some scenes, one Xander is played by his real-life identical twin. In further post-modernising, Captain Kirk is referenced throughout to pay homage to the Star Trek ep with a similar story. The comment: “There comes a point where you either have to move on or just buy yourself a Klingon costume and go with it,” says much about this episode and Xander’s life – he has to choose to go with what confident Xander wants. It’s just a pity that he doesn’t really get to do much for the next two seasons, except to mend Buffy’s windows and break Anya’s heart.
At this point, Pathetic Xander realises that the only thing he has of worth is Anya: “He can’t have her, I need her”. This is sweet but interesting: Pathetic Xander doesn’t, as Willow points out, think about Anya until this moment, whereas Suave Xander thought of her first of all. Also interesting is Willow’s surprised “Really?” when Xander professes his love for his girlfriend. We know that Willow has always been sniffy about Xander’s choice of women and this comes to a head later on in the series. Talking of self-pitying, the coda is all about the big lug Riley. He tells Buffy that “There’s no part of you I’m not in love with”, and, she, pleased with the reply, doesn’t return the compliment - which Riley takes to mean that she doesn’t love all of him. He doesn’t understand that Buffy sees him as strong, without needing affirmation: that’s her thing. Being more butch than Riley, she needs constant reassurance that she’s feminine, that she’s his girl. Riley’s insecurity makes Xander realise how lottery-lucky he is – Anya might whine and b*tch about moving some boxes, but he knows that she loves him, both sides of him (as shown when she wants to take them both home to have sex). He realises that everyone has weaknesses.
And what? What’s that you say? Joyce has a headache?
I like Xander's humor so the Xan twins made me laugh a lot:)
Xander was trying to do right for him and his girl friend Anya. I think they're a cute couple. Xander decided to move out from his parents' basement whic was a pretty good idea. So he -actually his confident twin- bought the the place the Scoobies saw.
Giles' reactions to Toth was so funny. He used a childbirth Godness to hurt him:)
Spike's obsession to Buffy revealed in this episode. He made a model of her.
Riley was hurt by Buffy's feelings for him. He thought that Buffy wasn't in love with him he was sad. Actually i don't want them to be together i think they're so... u know just not nice.
The episode was fun and there were many references to other episodes.
double episodes on this show have never been good but of those this one is the only one above average. xander is by a demon named tooth split in two. one has his good qualities and the other one his bad. the episode was boring but xanders character was interesting and i felt bad for him when he thought it was better to let his better side get his life except for anya because he really cares about her.
the best was xander doing the snoopy dance and xander fighting for his woman. nice but boring episode.
A good character episode for Nicky, but frankly one that is hard to remember after you've watched it. It's most notable for giving Xander a look at who he can be and giving him the impetus to get away from his nightmare family. We see him excelling in a new job and he gets an apartment and moves in with Anya.
Anya herself is hilarious, as usual. Anytime that Emma and Nicky can play off one another, you're almost assured of some good laughs.
This episode also kicks off Spike's romantic obsession with Buffy which leads to Spuffy which so many seem to find irresistible (I found it disturbing and sick).
‘The Replacement’ is once again a Xander-centric. And possibly one of his best, it has some brilliant lines and it develops him and Riley.
The episode begins in Xander’s basement. His parents are having a fight again and he’s sick of it, he wants an apartment.
Meanwhile there is a demon named Toth who is out for Buffy. He attacks Giles before opening the magic-store, it IS a death-trap.
When Xander goes to an apartment Anya wants it, but he says it’s to expensive and thinks that he’s going to get fired from his work.
When the gang goes to the city dump, the Toth demon is there waiting for them and tries to shoot Buffy but accidentally shoots Xander. Toth then disappears and leaves the rest behind and they leave with Xander. the next morning Xander wakes up at the city dumpster. He finds out that there is another Xander in his house, a very suave Xander while he is a dork.
Xander begins to see how the suave Xander is loved by everyone and how he is living his life much better. He gets promoted, he gets the apartment. Lame Xander begins to think that he should leave the other Xander take over his life. He goes to Willow who is the only one who hasn’t seen the other Xander. He feels useless and like everyone has to save him all the time. but then he thinks about Anya, he says that the other one can have everything except Anya.
When the other Xander is with Anya, she tells him that she’s dying. It’s because she got injured in ‘Real Me’ and now realised that she has become human. She is scared of dying. But then the other Xander walks in and she gets confused. They begin to fight and want to kill each other.
Menawhile the gang finds out what Toth really wanted. He wanted to split Buffy into two, the slayer and the normal Buffy. In that way he would kill the weak Buffy and both would die. So that means if one of the Xander dies, they both do.
But Buffy goes to stop them and when Toth attacks she destroys him.
‘The Replacement’ was a very good fun episode, it didn’t have anything that was THAT spectacular but it was still a very fun moving episode.
It developed Riley’s relationship with Buffy, he tells her that he loves everything about her, even her less good parts. At the end of the episode Riley tells Xander that Buffy is not inlove with him which was a shocking moment.
The two Xanders were also great, they had a bad influence on themselves. Nicholas’ twin brother could star in this episode and he did a great job.
The Replacement is a character developing episode for Xander Harris. He gets split into two different aspects of his personality, and then wacky hijinks ensues, which the payoff is Xander gets out of his parents basement and moves on with his life.
For Xander Harris, life is a mixed bag heading into season 5. He has great friends and a beautiful woman loves him, but the rest of his life is in the dumps. He can\'t find a steady job, and he is still living in the basement, which as evidenced in \"Restless\" he fears that he will never escape. Then in \"Buffy vs. Dracula\", Xander becomes Dracula\'s \"spider-eating man-bitca" which provides great comedy, but Xander had enough. He reached an epiphany, he doesn\'t want to be a \"butt-monkey\", and this becomes evident in \"The Replacement.\"
We start out in Xander\'s basement, where we are subjected to hearing Xander\'s parents arguing above, which drives on Xander\'s insecurities about not being able to escape the basement and he will end up being like his parents. This drives the new Xander to decide to get out of the basement and make more of with his life. However, when Xander sees the Shiny apartment, the \"Old\" Xander reappears, and doesn\'t take the Initiative to getting the argument that leads to a big fight between Xander and Anya.
After getting split into by Toth, the \"Old\" Xander wakes up in the dumps, literally, signifying how he feels about his home and work life. We spend the rest of the episode following \"Old\" Xander\'s POV. The \"New\" or Other Xander is does everything better than the \"Old\" Xander. He gets the promotion, gets the apartment, and has beautiful women hit on him. And the \"Old\" Xander feels even worse than he normally does. It is only when the \"Old\" Xander thinks about losing Anya he decides to act.
The reason why I am using \"New\" and \"Old\" Xander is because looking back, that is how it is. The \"New\" or Confident Xander is the one who is tired of being the Butt-Monkey, and wants to be something better, as the \"Old\" or Lame Xander is the one who is still stuck in his parent\'s basement with no hope in life.
As Giles points out they are both Xander, and when we lose one, we lose the other, because they affect each other, meaning that they balance each other out. So, if \"Old\" Xander dies, \"New\" Xander will never appear. Xander had this potential that none of us or the characters saw, but it was there. All it needed to be achieved is Xander to see his true self, which only could be done by being split into two distinct halves.
Before this episode we saw Lame Xander more than we saw Confident Xander, but after this episode, especially in Season 5, Confident Xander becomes the dominant personality. This allows Xander to mature to the man he will become in the future. He still has his insecurities, and they still become a factor in the future, but it becomes less obvious.
Once again, the villain in this episode was not as the important as its use. Toth was used as a plot device to separate Xander in his two halves, which was needed to start Xander on his road to maturity.
Another thing I liked about this episode is how Willow thinks Anya is not good enough for Xander, which continues from season four, and heads all the way through Triangle.
I also feel that this episode along with “The Zeppo” show that Nicholas Brendon deserves his own series, because he can really carry his own comedy series. He has great comedic timing, and makes us laugh in any situation. Not to say that he is not a fine dramatic actor, but his strengths are in comedy.
This episode also become the starting point of the dissolution of the Buffy/Riley relationship, where Riley tells Xander that he does not feel the Buffy loves him the way that he loves her. For the most part, I disagree with Riley, but at some level I agree with him. Buffy treated Angel as her equal in phases, but sometimes Buffy did not do that for Riley. I do believe that Riley deep in his subconscious is not comfortable with Buffy\'s superpowers but I also think that Riley does love because he is the Slayer. His love for Buffy is a paradox, which will become evident in later episodes.
If Xander is the focus of the episode, then it is a great episode!
I remember watching this episode the first time, and really thinking that the suave Xander was really Toth. The writers did an amazing job fooling you.
Nicholas shines in all the episodes that are Xander sentric. This episode in particular, because we get to see his full range of "Xander" in two different people, then from this episode on, Xander (acted and writen) is a whole character with a lot more depth than "comic relief." He's the first one of the scoobs to grow up (possibly the only one), he has a career, an apartment and Anya (at least at this point).
Overall, this episode is a solid enough episode for the early fifth season, focusing on the main theme of self-realization. The plot of the episode itself is a bit thin and some elements quickly get tiresome.
Much like the previous seasons, after introducing the thematic elements for the season, nearly all of the characters get in on the action. In this particular case, the theme continues to be self-discovery. The fourth season was about stripping away one’s illusions and self-recognition. The fifth season is a little more complicated: it’s as much about the perception of others in light of self-recognition. So the characters are wondering, once the demands and expectations of others are removed, who they are in the world.
This episode continues to expand on the theme and reveal it in interesting ways. Unfortunately, the pacing is off just enough to keep it from being a knock out of the park. Part of the problem is that the plot arc is still nowhere to be found, so most of the events take place out of a larger context. One could point to the theme, but it’s such a subtle animal that it’s hard to pin an entire episode on it.
Xander was always a character in drastic need for exploration and growth, and he seldom received that kind of attention. This is largely because Xander needed to retain some of the awkward sense of inferiority that made him the perfect character to toss out the funny. A lack of self-confidence often exhibits itself through inappropriate humor, especially in tense or unnerving situations.
One thing the writers did well was establish Xander’s lack of family support. In a lot of ways, Willow is in the same situation, since her choices don’t particularly mesh with her parents’ expectations. But Willow has the benefit of being away at college, making decisions on her own and discovering her own strengths. Xander is still at home, and it’s crushing to his psyche and confidence. (Something firmly established in “Restless”.)
Of course, there’s a reason why Xander isn’t out of the basement, and it’s all about fear. Xander has never been given a reason to believe in his own potential, and so he doesn’t recognize his own strengths. He’s always in fear of being left behind, yet the others recognize and value his loyalty and insight, when he’s willing to provide it. Similarly, it’s hard for him to realize that he’s doing well at his job, since he lacks the ability to recognize how others see him outside of his own internal doubts.
While it seems a bit overwrought, the idea of “two Xanders” is not particularly wrong. There’s one side of Xander that is quite competent and capable, as seen in earlier seasons. But there’s also the part that lacks confidence and self-sabotages. Xander is the synthesis of those two elements, but in the past, the incapable Xander was the one running the show. The capable Xander sees how to deal with a situation and simply does what needs to be done. For Xander to grow, the more capable side needs to come out.
This is communicated by the writers when they focus almost entirely upon the incapable side of Xander, which for most of the episode seems an awful lot like the normal, everyday Xander. In fact, it’s so difficult to believe in the capable Xander that it’s easy to believe he’s some demonic creation of Toth or Toth himself. It’s not until later that the truth becomes clear.
At the same time, the fact that the writers switch from the initial presentation of two Xanders to Buffy and Dawn fighting each other is an indirect reminder that Dawn is, in fact, a representation of Buffy as she might have been. Dawn is all the non-Slayer elements of Buffy rolled into one package and given a distinct existence. In essence, Buffy struggles with her own humanity ever time she fights with Dawn.
Toth’s original intention was to separate Human!Buffy from Slayer!Buffy, which resonates with what would later be revealed about Buffy and Dawn. Buffy is trying to understand the depths of her Chosen legacy, which requires a better understand of who she is when she’s not the Slayer. Buffy’s entire journey from the end of the third season to the end of the series is a matter of realizing what Xander effectively comes to understand by the end of this episode: Buffy is who she is, and she cannot try to be fully human or fully Slayer.
As a student of psychology, Riley understands that all too well. He knows that on some level, there’s an incompatibility. When he was more than human himself, thanks to the Initiative, they were dealing with the same issues. Riley’s moved past that now, and he’s just himself. If Buffy were completely human, he might be enough for her. But the part of her that is the Chosen line feels discontent, despite all his efforts. Buffy’s lack of self-awareness is a large part of why she can’t see the growing disparity between Riley’s feelings and her own.
Several elements are introduced in this episode: some in passing, some in more substantial fashion. Robots in the likeness of major characters would become important by the end of the season, so it’s interesting that Xander tosses that out as a possibility to his current predicament. Similarly, Spike’s obsession with the Slayer is turning into a perverse kind of attraction, a process which began in “Becoming” and has progressed quite nicely over time. There’s also Anya’s concerns over her mortality, which factors into the eventual degradation of the relationship later in the series.
Unlike many other episodes that deal with “doubles”, the producers had an opportunity to take advantage of Kelly Donovan, Nicholas Brendon’s twin brother. The plot serves to smooth over any particular physical differences based on weight, since the split doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect. But it must have been a lot cheaper and less demanding from a production point of view to have two actors in scenes that normally would require the same scene to be filmed twice.
Xander wakes up in the dump one morning to discover that his exact clone (except for the matching socks) is mesmerizing his friends and coworkers with a magical shiny thing. Plus, the Snoopy Dance and Riley Figures Something Out.
"The Replacement" is a lovely episode, forging at last some character development for Xander and hinging on an endearingly manic Nick Brendon performance. Unlike, say, "Star Trek: TNG," "Buffy" usually uses its cast in balanced doses in each installment. There aren't generally "Willow episodes" or "Giles episodes" the way "TNG" had readily identifiable "Geordi shows" and (shudder) "Troi shows." "The Replacement" however is an out-and-out Xander show, the first since "The Zeppo" in Season 3. Almost the entire ep unfolds from Xander's perspective.
The zinging way "Replacement" handles misleads and knowing references to past "Buffy" monsters makes it a forgivable sin that the series had covered this territory before in the great "Doppelgangland." This is nearly as good an episode, although it sadly lacks the added incentive of Alyson Hannigan in leather bondage gear.
Season Five started with Xander in much the same place as he began Season Four, living in his parents' basement and hopping from menial job to menial job. "The Replacement" is an old-fashioned "Buffy" episode where the monster and outside conflict directly mirror the struggles the human characters are going through. This is something the show increasingly got away from in the later years, and it's a treat to see them get back to it, especially with such an overdue topic as Xander's maturation.
The impetus for Xander's sudden interest in getting a life is increasingly hectoring pressure from Anya. After being injured by Harmony's minions in "Real Me," Anya is even more histrionically self-interested than usual in this episode. While Emma Caulfield's character is often so broadly drawn as comic relief that her relationship with Xander is hardly believable, here she gets to play Anya with more vulnerability. While Anya might not encourage her sad-sack boyfriend in the most positive way possible, she does here provide a much-need push.
"The Replacement" gets into the swing of things fairly quickly, setting up the demon Toth, his magic stick, and Xander's predicament in a hurry so most of the episode can focus on Brendon in breathless desperation. The best scene shows Xander attempting to prove his identity to an extremely bemused Willow. As their characters' arcs have taken divergent paths, Hannigan and Brendon have gotten fewer and fewer chances to play comedy like this, although the lifelong friends share a bond that's quite unique and will continue to be touched upon (see "Triangle," "Hell's Bells," and "Grave," for starters). Scenes with Anya and the foreman on his construction site slowly reveal that Xander has grown up without him or us really noticing.
By the time the episode's surprise is sprung upon the audience, it may already have occurred to some of the sharper viewers. No matter, as the last several scenes with Nick and his twin brother Kelly thoroughly enjoying each other's company (Xander's "a bad influence on himself," notes Giles) restore the momentum. As the twin Xanders speak the obvious classic "Star Trek" line in unison, it's hard not to join in with their uproarious laughter. This is one of the few episodes from Season Five that's a lot of fun to watch as a standalone.