Xander's "go after 'im, girl!" speech in Into the Woods inspires disparate reactions in fandom. Here's a quote from Racheline Maltese's essay in the recently released Whedonistas!:
At the end of "Into the Woods," for example, Xander has a long and — to my mind — somewhat appalling monologue to Buffy about how Riley was the Best Boyfriend Ever and it was All Buffy's Fault that he was leaving her. While Buffy certainly didn't have her head 100% in that relationship, both because of her role as the Slayer and because of the ongoing specter of her history with Angel, Xander's criticism somehow managed to blame her for the fact that her boyfriend was essentially cheating on her with vampire prostitutes...
It was, at least in Xander's eyes, her job to do, not 50% of the work in the relationship, but 75% of it. Or more.*
Other people think that Xander was just trying to help Buffy look inside her heart and not give up on a relationship that she might regret losing once she'd cooled down. See? Disparate.
So, what are some of the issues Xander's speech brings up for you? Because there's a lot of nuance, you can choose as many options as you like for the "overview" question! Just call me Lady Bountiful!
A. What do you think of Xander’s speech?
1. He’s right. Riley was the Best Boyfriend Ever and it was All Buffy's Fault that he was leaving her.
2. He’s right. She needs to think about what she’s giving up by letting Riley go.
3. He’s right. It’s up to her to decide what she really wants in this scenario.
4. He’s sort of right. Riley would do anything for her. Including a lot of stuff she doesn’t want. Such as seeking out vampire love to know what she felt with Dracula and Angel.
5. He’s wrong. Riley broke her trust and bailed. Not good boyfriend material.
6. He’s wrong. By implying that Buffy will never another chance at love (“he’s the one who comes along once in a lifetime”) he puts pressure on her to save something that’s not worth saving.
7. He’s wrong. The relationship has run its course, and browbeating Buffy into prostrating herself to save it is hurtful and pointless.
8. He’s so wrong it’s tragic. He reinforces Buffy’s fear that she’s incapable of “normal” love, and she never gets over it.
9. Eh, the whole conversation is more about Xander than Buffy.
B. How about the “how did you NOT see this coming” part of the speech?
1. She should have known something was up.
2. She was sort of distracted with her mother’s illness and her sister being hunted by a scary demon lady. Maybe if there hadn’t been a bunch of crises, she’d have had an inkling he was in trouble.
3. Riley was in deep cover…from Buffy. She couldn’t have known.
4. Xander knew something was going on, but he helped Riley hide his meltdown from Buffy. He’s also to blame.
C. How about the reliable/convenient part of the speech?
1. He’s right. She takes Riley for granted.
2. He’s sort of right. She’s assuming Riley is a Sexy Boy Scout, which isn’t a fair expectation.
3. He’s sort of right. Riley isn’t as he’s been advertising himself, but that’s people for you. No big.
4. He’s sort of wrong. Buffy needs to know who and what her boyfriend is, full stop.
5. He’s wrong. Buffy has every right to expect help from Riley during this trying time, and he’s too screwed up to deliver on his promises.
6. He’s wrong. Riley is a lying liar guy and can no longer be trusted.
For some interesting discussion about how how our heroes got to this point, check out this post on gabrielleabelle's journal. I know there is more meta out there. Links, people?
*Ms. Maltese's essay is entitled "Late to the Party: What Buffy Never Taught Me About Being a Girl". This (edited) snippet can be found on page 152 of Whedonistas: A Celebration of the Worlds of Joss Whedon by the Women Who Love Them, published by Mad Norwegian Press.