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HELL'S BELLS (ep #6.16)

(a.k.a. My Big Fat Demon Wedding)

Written by: Rebecca Rand Kirshner
Directed by: David Solomon
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Emma Caulfield as Anya
Michelle Trachtenberg as Dawn Summers
James Marsters as Spike
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Guest Starring: Casey Sander as Tony Harris
Kali Rocha as Halfrek
Andy Umberger as D'Hoffryn
Lee Garlington as Jessica Harris
Jan Hoag as Cousin Carol
George D. Wallace as Stewart Burns
Amber Benson as Tara Maclay
Steven Gilborn as Uncle Rory
Co-Starring: James C. Leary as Clem
Daniel McFeely as Warty Demon
Rebecca Jackson as Tarantula
Mel Fair as Tentacle Demon
Nick Kokich as Demon Teen
Robert Noble as Night Manager
Julian Franco as Young Bartender
Susannah L. Brown as Caterer Girl
Joey Hiott as Josh Age 10
Abicail Mavity as Sara Age 8
Chris Emerson as Josh Age 21
Ashleigh Ann Wood as Sara Age 18
Megan Vint as Karen

Plot Summary

One of Anya's old victims got his revenge on her by convincing Xander to jilt her at the altar.

Plot Details

The episode opened with Willow and Buffy looking in horror at their bridesmaids dresses. Willow was even hoping to wear the traditional blood larva and burlap. They also talked about the disaster that was the rehersal dinner. It involved a lot of drinking and Xander's father vomiting in Buffy's purse. The only good thing was Xander's family believing that Anya's demons were "circus people."

We saw a bit of this strife at Xander's apartment. Xander's father was continuing to insult the "circus folk" while Xander's cousin Carol expressed an interest in one of the demons, if his skin condition cleared up. Meanwhile, outside in the rain, someone who looked like Jack Lemmon in Cyrano de Bergerac makeup appeared in some visual effect fire. He opened up an umbrella and continued walking.

Xander suffered the consequences of his excessive chip eating in "As You Were." It took slayer strength to get him into his cummerbund. Buffy, however, could do nothing with his bow tie. She wondered why Willow was not doing her best man duties, but Xander said that she had more important things to do.

Apparently, these more important things involved making an excuse to hang out with her ex-girlfriend, who was busy with maid of honor duties. This involved squeezing Anya into her dress while trying desperately not to laugh at Anya practicing her vows.

As the guests gathered, Xander's Uncle Rory was busy hitting on one of the caterers. She did not seem happy with the attention, but she did not flee either when she had the chance. D'Hoffryn brought a squirmy present. Halfrek tried to get Dawn to make another wish, but Dawn was not interested. Xander's father continued to be a boor.

Buffy finally got Xander ready. Dawn came up excitedly talking about Spike's "skank" date. Buffy was a little hurt. Xander went into the main area to meet and greet and found himself overwhelmed. Dawn came to warn him that one of the presents got loose. Uncle Rory wanted to find the photographer. Most importantly the Jack Lemmon as Cyrano de Bergerac character pulled Xander aside and said that he was Xander Harris from the future warning him not to get married.

FutureXander pulled Xander into a back room and showed him a glowy ball. We next see Xander ten years later in an easy chair with two kids, Josh and Sara. Any resemblance in their names to the creator and star of the show is allegedly purely coincidental. Sara appeared to be part demon, probably not from Anya's side. Apparently Xander was unable to work because he wreaked his back failing to save Buffy while fighting demons. Everyone seemed miserable.

We next see the family about ten years later being miserable at a restaurant. Sara stated the obvious, that Xander was not her real father and that she hated everyone. Ten years after that, we saw Anya and Xander having another argument that ended with Xander about to bash Anya with a frying pan.

Buffy saw Spike alone and approached him. He wanted to make sure that she saw his date. She did and admitted that it made her feel a little jealous. He started to apologize but then remembered that he was supposed to be evil and happy that Buffy was hurt. He decided to take his date away. Before leaving, he admitted that he liked seeing Buffy happy.

Willow found Xander and made a brief mention of what happened the last time that they were alone while wearing formal clothes. Meanwhile, Anya practiced another vow in front of Tara, but Tara questioned the inclusion of the phrase "sex poodle."

Buffy told Anya that the wedding was about to start, but Willow pulled Buffy aside to say that Xander disappeared. Buffy came back in to say that the minister was pulled away to perform a c-section. She went on a long explanation that even Tara seemed to question, but Anya believed it. After Buffy left, Anya delivered her best vows yet.

Buffy went to stall for time. This involved a stand-up routine, charades, and juggling. Meanwhile, Dawn and a teenaged demon were outside chatting about who had the most messed up family. Dawn eventually told him that Xander disappeared. Unfortunately, she did so just as Anya got impatient and walked by.

This led to more bickering among the guests, which devolved into a brawl. Tara saw an opportunity and pretended to be in peril just so Willow could rescue her. It worked. Meanwhile, Anya was looking for Xander. Carol said that she saw him go into a room with FutureXander. Anya asked FutureXander what he knew.

FutureXander was upset that Anya did not recognize him. In fact, he was not FutureXander. He was a philanderer whom Anya cursed into being a demon in 1914. He gloated about how he was able to scare Xander away with some fake visions before attacking her. Buffy was going to assist her but once again learned that formal clothes tend to inhibit slaying ability. Eventually she joined the fight.

Xander returned, and Anya reassured him that the visions were not true. He left only to help Buffy finish Burns off. The guests united in applauding Xander, until Xander's father provoked another brawl. Anya quickly stopped it and insisted that the wedding go on.

Anya tried to reassure Xander that everything was OK and that they could then get married. However, Xander decided that he was not ready to marry. He believed that the future he saw could happen and that Anya would be better off if she did not marry him. She begged him to reconsider, but it was hopeless. She walked down the aisle in tears as he left the building.

Willow, Dawn, and Buffy sat around their house talking about how upset they were for Anya. Xander checked into a motel. Meanwhile, D'Hoffryn had Anya in his dimension and offered her her old job back.

The Good

This is the last bad episode in the sixth season.

At least Tara was in this episode.

The actors did a very good job with the material they were given. Emma Caulfield was particularly good. It is unfortunate that the material never rose above a cliché wacky wedding.

The Bad

I understand Anthony Stewart Head wanting to spend more time with his family in England. However, it did not make sense for Giles not to make it to the wedding. At least the shooting script said that he was busy chasing a demon and that he paid for the flowers. That line should have stayed in the final cut.

The "wedding called off at the last minute" plot line has been done to death on television. This show is usually better than this.

Overall Rank: 118

Action: 4

There were a couple of brawls among the guests.

Stewart Burns fought Anya and Buffy before Xander finished him off.

Comedy: 6

Anya went through several amusing vows.

D'Hoffryn brought a squirmy gift.

Buffy was not very credible when trying to explain the delay in the wedding.

Drama: 6

Conflict between Xander's family and Anya's demons was in the background of the story.

In the end, Xander left Anya at the altar, hurting everyone.

Romance: 8

The episode centered on a wedding.

Spike brought a date in order to make Buffy feel jealous.

Character Development: 2

Xander had been worrying that Anya would be better off without him. Seeing his family only intensified this feeling and made him vulnerable to Stewart Burns's manipulation.

Tara appears to like being around Willow now.

Importance: 5

Xander has jilted Anya at the altar.

D'Hoffryn offered Anya her old job back.

For the first time since the beginning of the first season, none of the characters are now in romantic relationships.

Most Valuable Player: D'Hoffryn

Stewart Burns came very close to getting the MVP. He lost only because he stuck around to watch the damage, which led to him attacking Anya and to Xander killing him. This cleared the way for D'Hoffryn to get the MVP for possibly getting one of his star vengeance demons back into the fold.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Stewart Burns

Nobody figured much of anything out, so Stewart Burns gets this award for coming up with a plan to hurt Anya.

Goat of the Week: Xander

This was a no-brainer. Xander let his fears overcome his hopes and left himself open to Stewart Burns's manipulation. In his attempt not to hurt Anya in a possible future, he ended up hurting her now.

Random Commentary

I do not get all the pain over the bridesmaids dresses. They were not that bad. Furthermore, There is no way that any dresses are going to make women who look like Amber Benson, Alyson Hannigan, Sarah Michelle Gellar, or Michelle Trachtenberg look unattractive. The costumers have been trying and failing with Amber Benson for two years now.

I give Stewart Burns credit for a good understanding of psychology. Research has shown that people tend to overestimate the likelihood of an event occurring if they are told that it did occur than if they were told nothing or if they were told that a different event occurred.

For example, suppose that a person who knows nothing about what happened in the 2010 World Cup was given basic information about the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams competing in the final match of the tournament (i.e., Spain and the Netherlands) and was asked to estimate the likelihood that Spain would win the match. That person would give a greater likelihood of Spain winning if she or he was told that Spain actually won than if that person were told nothing about the actual outcome. The estimated likelihood of Spain winning would be even lower if the person were told (falsely) that the Netherlands won. This is because a person who is told that Spain had won focuses mostly on Spain’s strengths and the Netherlands's weaknesses. These are what are in the person's mind, not the strengths of the Dutch team and the weaknesses of the Spanish team.

This happened to Xander. He was told that the nightmare scenario actually occurred. This caused him to think about all of the ways in which he would be a bad husband to Anya. Even after being told that the nightmare was a fake, he was still thinking about all of the ways that he would be a bad husband. As a result, he chose not to go through with the wedding.

There are several reasons why Giles did not attend the wedding. One of the reasons is Anthony Stewart Head's desire to spend time with his family. Another reason would be a spoiler, so I will not mention it here. Perhaps the main reason is that the events of this episode would not have occurred if he were there. At the end, he would have dragged Xander into the kitchen (perhaps not literally) and talked some sense into him. The wedding would have occurred, Xander and Anya would be married, and D'Hoffryn would not have offered Anya her old job back.

This was not a good episode, but the problems were in the script. The acting sort of made up for those problems. In fact, the first time that I saw it, I was more upset at Xander for hurting Anya than I was at the episode for being the cliché wedding called off at the last minute. With later viewings, I see it as it is, a bad episode with good acting.


I know that Anya was a vengeance demon for most of her existence and that they only humans she is close to are the other characters. Therefore, it makes sense that many of the guests on her side would be demons. However, as Adam noted in "Primeval," demons do not get along with each other. They would have been as likely to brawl with each other as with Xander's family. Most likely, Anya's guests would be strictly vengeance demons with one or two exceptions such as Spike and Clem. My guess is that the makeup people wanted a variety of demons to show off their skills and score some Emmy nominations.

Many wondered who invited Spike. I assume that he either crashed the wedding for the sole purpose of bringing a date to make Buffy feel jealous, or Anya invited him. She never knew him when he was evil and always treated him as part of the group, such as when she tried to give Xander's lamp to Spike as a crypt-warming gift.


The Xander/Anya Relationship should not have made sense. Anya came to Sunnydale to curse Xander for being unfaithful. She probably does not know exactly how she lost her powers, but she would have good reason to believe that Xander was at least indirectly responsible. There was no reason why she should later be attracted to him. It was a convenient reason to integrate Anya into the group and to fill a gap left by Cordelia going to Angel.

However, the relationship worked and they became a good couple. In part, this was because Anya remembered little about how to be a human, so she looked to Xander as a model. He told her in "Fear, Itself" that he preferred to take things a face value. Ever since then, she said exactly what was on her mind.

DVD Extras

Commentary by Director David Solomon and Writer Rebecca Rand Kirshner was supposed to include Emma Caulfield, but she was busy working. The commentary suffered from Kirshner mumbling too much, which made her hard to understand sometimes, and from a diffusion of responsibility. With two people giving the commentary, each felt only half responsible for providing interesting insight. As a result, there were many long pauses. There are spoilers through the fifth episode of the seventh season. Insights include:

Memorable Dialogue

"It's my duty. I'm Buffy the Bridesmaid." Buffy
"Duty-schmuty. I'm supposed to be best man. Shouldn't I be all Marlene Dietrichy in a dashing tuxedo number?" Willow

"Maybe if I ask Anya, I can still go with the traditional blood larva and burlap. I mean, she was a vengeance demon for, like, 1,000 years. She would know all the most flattering larvae." Willow

"Nothing on earth can stop this wedding now." Xander

"I, Anya, promise to love you, to cherish you, to honor you, but not to obey you, of course, because that's anachronistic and misogynistic, and who do you think you are, like a sea captain or something? However, I do entrust you... What, is something funny?" Anya
"[Trying hard to stifle her giggling] No, nothing, sweetie, just keep still." Tara
"OK, blah, blah, blah, misogynistic, blah, blah. I do, however, entrust you with my heart. Take care of my heart, won't you please? Take care of it because it's all that I have and, if you let me, I'll take care of yours too. I'll protect it and tend to it like a little stray. Wait, no, like a little mangy stray that needs a home. No, that's not it either." Anya

"May the love we celebrate today avoid an almost inevitable decline." D'Hoffryn

"To my wife. What would I do without you, beautiful? Well, for starters, I probably wouldn't need to drink so much, would I? On the brighter side, marriage has probably saved me from a nasty dose of the clap." Tony Harris

"Hey, what do you say we slip in the back room and I show you my..." Tony Harris
"You finish that sentence, and I guarantee you won't have anything to show." Buffy

"It's a good thing I realized I was gay, otherwise, hey, you, me, and formal wear." Willow

"I, Anya, promise to cherish you. Yeah, no, not "cherish." I promise to have sex with you whenever I want and pledge to be your friend, your wife, and your confidante, and your sex poodle..." Anya
"Sex poodle?" Tara
"Yeah, what?" Anya
"I'm not sure you should say 'sex poodle' in your vows." Tara

"He's not just a minister. He's also a doctor. You know, he's half minister, half doctor. He's a 'minitor,' not to be confused with a minotaur because he's all, you know, man-ness, doctor, minister, man. No bull parts whatsoever." Buffy

"I, Anya, want to marry you, Xander, because I love you, and I'll always love you, and, before I knew you, I was like a completely different person—not even a person, really—and I'd seen what love could do to people, and it was hurt and sadness. Alone was better. And then, suddenly, there was you, and you knew me. You saw me, and it was this thing. You make me feel safe and warm, so I get it now. I finally get love, Xander. I really do." Anya

"Anyanka, I'm sorry, but you let him domesticate you. When you were a vengeance demon, you were powerful. At the top of your game, you crushed men like him. It's time you got back to what you do best, don't you think?" D'Hoffryn

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Willow Gay References

Unusual Pairings

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on December 5, 2012