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This week, we look at the curious treatment of one Xander Harris in "Dude, Where's My Character Arc?"
Direct download: Buffycast_1-3.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:29pm EDT

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  • Hi guys, great ep again. I had never really considered Xander to be arc-less and still don\'t simply because I agree with The Traveller in that surely lack of change is still an event. The moments where you think you\'ve taken a big step forward and then life continues as usual are commonplace. There is also the aspect of tragedy in these kinds of arcs, whereby a character tries to escape a destiny or fate that defines them and fails to do so - this could be seen as a lack of arc as the character doesn\'t actually change. However, this tragic character is a powerful emotional tool - the only outright reference i can think of is Ritsuko Akagi from Neon Genesis Evangelion, who attempts to escape being her mother, but falls victim to exactly the same flaws. Surely part of Xander\'s insecurity, seen clearly in Hell\'s Bells and Restless, is that he will end up becoming his father and any inaction to leave that path is still character development - just not positive and happy character development. On a side note, if Xander had gone through with the wedding, it would have broken Joss Whedon\'s commandment that his characters can never be happy it makes for boring television - almost certainly true.

    posted by: Steerpike on 2009-04-13 11:44:00

  • i read the lost slayer and it does show xander and hes just like riley no fun and we cant wait to say good bye too him. I dont know about the rest of you but i\'m glad that didnt happen. It\'s almost safe to say that sure he didn\'t have much of an arc but is that so much a bad thing?

    posted by: Spuffy the Bangel on 2006-07-18 05:02:00

  • Dearest Revello, *applauds* Once again, you have forced me into the light in which i am able to ponder things that i never even knew needed pondering. When i read the title for this episode, \\\"Dude, where\\\'s my character arc?\\\"..i honestly didn\\\'t understand what it meant. As i listened to the episode, i started out with a bit of agitation when you clearly laid out your stance on Xander never really changing and thus having no real character arc. Let me explain that to me, the buffy world is perfect. Without flaw. I\\\'ve watched the show in its entirety: seasons 1-7 when i was in 4th-10th grade. As a child and teen, it never ever occured to me that there were SO MANY themes to discuss. So now that i\\\'m a tad old..er*20*, i now am fascinated by the many discussions that are at my disposal...but i digress. Oh yeah, Xander, lol. So it occured to me, after you cited all the \\\"growth and degrowth\\\" episodes, that you had a point when you said that although Xander had many oppurtunites for growth he always seemed to regress later on once again. I get it. I understand it. But as i think about it, and as Traveller has stated, it doesn\\\'t seem to ludicrous of an idea. Throughout the span of the show, the only character i ever really seemed to identify with was Buffy in respects to the loneliness and isolation that consumed her life. I was a budding little homo going through my own little secret life and in many ways was greatful to have buffy there to relate to.. When the dvds came out during the latter 2 years of my high school life, i was then able to begin to understand the other characters and relate to them as well. *willow\\\'s shyness and dorkiness, Oz\\\'s subtle cool, Cordelia\\\'s narcissim, Angel\\\'s brooding, Gile\\\'s love for knowledge&keen observance* but oddly enough, the one character i NEVER seemed to relate to was Xander. Not sure why. However, it wasn\\\'t until after High School that i began to see more and more of Xander in myself. As queer as it might seem, i tend to match my life according to the seasons and the place at which the characters are in during that time. *So right now i\\\'m in Season 6...bleh* And as i began my college post-hs life, i began to relate to Xander\\\'s 4tt season life. For lack of a better statement: i felt like a dirctionless loser. And while Xander later seems to outgrow that phase, i myself seem to be quite stuck in it. bleh. Anyways, after hearing your disussion on Xander and his non-arc, i began to see this as completley relatable and nondismissive in terms of my own life. I too have had many eye opening experiences..faced moral dilemas...and i\\\'m sad to say that as much as i overcome, i always seem to be overcomed by those situations later again. It\\\'s like a vicious cycle. Bleh. I completely forgot where i was going with this...i\\\'m not very good at analyzing things and expressing them very well. so i\\\'ll stop. GREAT EPISODE!!!! :-D so long and goodnight...

    posted by: The Lonely Slayer on 2007-10-21 02:51:00

  • Dearest Revello, I just remembered one thing i wanted to add. If any of you are following the new official Season 8 of Buffy, you\\\'ll know that Xander is now like the Great Commander of The Buffy Base, lol. He is in a place of leadership position over the many Slayer squadrons and seems to be doing a good job at it. The commanding i mean. It\\\'s interesting to see how much he\\\'s had to change in a year\\\'s time since the show ended. However, you\\\'ll notice that his new postion has not at all changed his warm heart and his ability to get through to his friends. For example, the scenes were he is talking to Buffy about Dawn\\\'s unwillingness to open up to Buffy and the other scene where Xander is speaking to Dawn and seems to easily be able to flesh out what could really be the underlying emotions that Dawn is currently experiencing. I can\\\'t wait for u guys to come back and start discussing this new season. :-D so long and goodnight...

    posted by: The Lonely Slayer on 2007-10-21 03:01:00

  • In response to Jack Daedalus\' comments about a battle hardened Xander I would recommened the serial novel The Lost Slayer. It does a very good job of displaying the emotionally-closed brutal Xander.

    posted by: Samuel on 2006-03-12 20:37:00

  • Hi! I just found your podcasts and was determined to catch up on all of them before posting any comments. Clearly, like Buffy at staying dead, I failed. I have to say I\'m surprised that it was the Xander episode and not the Spike episode (through which I found and fell in love with these podcasts) that fuelled my failure to stay silent. It just goes to show...well I don\'t know exactly what it goes to show, so think up something cool and tell yourself I said it. Now, to my actual thoughts: This was an extremely well-thought-out episode and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have to point out, however, that I agree with the previous comment that Xander as the heart of the gang proves significant. For me, this unlocks his power to \"see\". Not only does he witness a great deal from a human perspective (which perhaps offers him greater clarity than the other characters about the true weight and--Warning! Vast understatement ahead!--great strangeness of the scoobies\' lives), he sees into the hearts of the other characters; he sees what they need to hear and tells it to them. The very conversation with Dawn in which he relates his special power to \"see\" is a perfect example, as are the yellow crayon and East Cupcake, Illinois conversations. In terms of his lack of a character arc, I completely agree that this lack exists, but it may actually add to his character being more human and more realistically relatable. I again agree with a previous comment, that Xander\'s development is more easily seen outside the supernatural realm. Learning to date, dress better, hold down a serious job (and especially forge a career), and express sexuality with greater ease are major ways in which real human beings develop over the seven-year period the audience goes through with Xander, and he does indeed undergo these experiences. Also, I personally just started college and the rapid change of all aspects of my life is forcing me to choose between embracing my more admirable qualities so I can grow up more and clinging to some of more childish qualities (not childlike qualities--those are blessings I will never let go of) to keep my behavior predictable and my world secure. With close examination, I believe most people would discover that in times of drastic change, they experience this struggle. What does this have to do with Xander? I\'m getting there, I promise! Because Xander\'s life is constantly changing due to the supernatural consequences of living on a hellmouth, he quite possibly has embraced his more childish, insecure side so that his personality can provide him with the only constant he can hold onto in an insecure world where even the people he loves constantly change around him. In episodes like \"The Zeppo\" and \"The Replacement\" we see that Xander could develop into a more self-confident person, but this development would mean something else in Xander\'s life--his very identity--would change. In a life plagued by constant danger, maybe Xander chooses the safer survival method of stasis. I just want to say how much I love these podcasts! It means more to me than I could possibly express to hear fresh ideas about the show--it\'s been a long time since I\'ve read or heard anything about BtVS that had sparked any new thoughts of my own. Look how much stuff you just prompted me to come up with about Xander! You made me think!!! Color me grateful!!!

    posted by: VampireVixon on 2006-03-21 03:41:00

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