I didn’t realize what a tool Xander Harris was until my third time through Buffy.
It’s weird, now, to look back and try to remember what I thought when Buffy was first on. I probably didn’t think much about Xander at all. I thought about Willow, and those inevitable, torturous one-way crush lines, where you like somebody who likes somebody else, and never any two shall so much as kiss under the bleachers. It’s all safe and it’s all terrible.
That’s what I saw when I watched Xander: all those middle- and high-school dudes who liked someone else. Someone predictable. They were dicks, though I wasn’t clever enough to know it at the time. They were sometimes naive and sometimes totally aware of unreciprocated crushes. They were sometimes too shy and sometimes too aloof. Sometimes uncertain of themselves, sometimes too cocky.
I have it in me to forgive those dickbag teens that I knew, but less so Xander, probably because those dickbag teens are no longer in my life, yet Xander is still here, in Buffy, seeming more and more grating, more and more oblivious, more and more unchanging. Does Xander ever really grow up? Does he ever address his family, his choices, his delusions?
I’m paying attention now, Harris. Let’s see how you fare once you’re out of the clutches of the hot praying mantis teacher.
Season 1, Episode 4, “Teacher’s Pet”
Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Original airdate: Monday, March 24, 1997
Rewatch date: Sunday, March 26, 2017 (Yes, I screwed up the 20-year perfection. Yes, it was inevitable.)
“Right. Wasn’t here, didn’t see it, couldn’t have stopped you.”