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Canon Xander/Dawn: What do you think of it so far?

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  • #16
    Xander/Dawn is the best relationship Xander has ever had. It is the only relationship Xander has entered into it where he actually respects the woman he is with. It is the only relationship that Xander had had that he doesn't rely on snarky banter, endless bickering, and insults as a way of communication. Basically; it's the first relationship that Xander has had that isn't modeled off of Tony and Jessica Harris's relationship. If he can make it work then he's proven that he's not doomed to become his father.

    Like most kids, Xander looked to his parents to see how a couple functioned. And all he would've seen was Tony/Jessica's extremely volatile and unhealthy relationship. They communicated by way of insulting each other or by finding something – anything – to squabble about. So it’s really no surprise that his first two major relationships were with women who Xander constantly bickered with. Xander/Cordy in particular was often extremely volatile and even when they were showing one another affection, they'd often do it by poking fun at each other. It's the only way Xander knew how to function in a relationship.

    Xander/Dawn is the first serious relationship that he has had which doesn't fall into these same patterns. They actually get along really well. Throughout S8 they communicate a lot and it's almost always pleasant. And Xander actually *respects* Dawn. When he first got with Cordy he still resented her shallowness and a part of him was ashamed to be with her. Likewise, he was often embarrassed by Anya and found the things she would say to be inappropriate. But he seems to really admire Dawn and apart from initially maybe being a little worried about the age-gap I don’t think he’s embarrassed or ashamed by her at all.

    It is by far the healthiest relationship he has ever been in. Xander/Cordy started with them making out in broom closets because they were both too ashamed to be seen with one another. Xander/Anya started mostly out of convenience and was something that Xander just kind of fell into because he was estranged from his friends and Anya was around a lot. Xander/Dawn started after the two had been incredibly close all year and after Xander had been there for Dawn through her Thricewise curse. There was a mutual love and respect between them BEFORE they even entered into a relationship and that’s very, very new for Xander.

    It's a pity they haven't been focused on more because this is new territory for Xander and it really reflects on how much he's grown as a person. I hope they don't breakup in S9 and get through whatever problems they are having.
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    • #17
      Let's be honest, though -- while that sounds great, it's 95% inference. Almost everything you've based it on comes from before they were actually together, and as we know, the relationship we pursue or build up to and the relationship we are in are very different creatures. We don't have a data set about their relationship enough to say these things about their relationship with any certainty.

      I was just coming to the thread, in fact, to post that the biggest problem their arc and its apparent tension in their relationship has is that there is no peril to it. To use a Joss buzzword, there's no texture to their relationship, no sense of what the everyday-ness is, of how they spend the good times or where the problem areas are. I mean, are they bunnies like Xander/Anya? Do they spend weekends lost in 2 player Portal 2, or do they pursue their own hobbies? Do they mostly cook or order in a lot? It would be hard to come up with five distinctive bullet points to really describe the landscape of their relationship in order to get a sense of why it's a bad thing that there is tension there, why we should be rooting for them through a rough spot.
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      • #18
        Stoney, I wouldn't say that I need or even want that badly to see Xander/Dawn sex. I was just counting down with King and commenting that Xander/Dawn have much less sex than Xander's past relationships and I'd like see that explored.

        I'm pretty much never into wanting to see lots of sex in fictional stories- on TV, in books, in comics. Generally, I consider it filler.

        I did like the sex jokes in Xanya and usually found them funny. I like sex jokes MUCH more than actually seeing Teh Sex.

        I agree with King in the sense that I really don't want to give Xander/Dawn the "Best Relationship Badge" when we've hardly seen how they interact and what we have seen in S9 looks bad. And Xander's relationships had their troubles and I basically agree with vampmogs's critiques. But for some perspective, I found Xander/Anya generally healthier than Buffy/Angel, Spike/Buffy, Tara/Willow, Spike/Drusilla, ultimately Willow/Kennedy in the comics, Angel/Darla, Cordelia/Groo, Cordelia/Angel, Wesley/Lilah, Wesley/Fred, Willow/Saga, Buffy/Riley at the end of the day, Xander/Cordelia....anyway, the vast majority of the main ships. Xander/Anya ended up doing pretty well by Buffyverse standards.


        • #19
          I'm not sure on comparing the healthiness of relationships. I think Xander/Anya was pretty shallow tbh and pretty unhealthy, but I see bad aspects in all the relationships (the ones I know) that you listed. There are aspects where Xander/Anya had it better and ones where they had it worse. Comparing one relationship with others that same person had (Xander/Anya to Xander/Cordelia, to Xander/Willow etc) seems worthwhile. Comparing with what someone else achieved with entirely different people, not so much to me.

          I think the fact that sex isn't playing an overt role in Dawn/Xander is to the relationship's credit. There may be some actual foundation there and as Vamps says, that is new ground for Xander and fits in with his more mature characterisation in S8.

          Although it doesn't really work in drawn format for me, I'm all for a bit of smut/kinky joy in TV/movies, as long as it doesn't get too gratuitous.


          • #20
            For me, the smut factor is more in the equities. They established a very quick baseline for the comic continuations as a very openly sexual environment, where sex and sexuality are not metaphorized or blackscreened. It becomes, then, a pointed distinction when a romance is introduced that is, relatively speaking, almost entirely chaste. At the very least, it heavily implies that one or both of the characters involved is being infantalized, at least it does to me. It's just a bridge too far into the Buffy 'ship-centrism that it's just assumed that even the prurient interest only goes as far as her front door (or back door, if you're naughty).

            But the larger problem is... they never even showed us enough of this relationship to have a baseline for what it is and how its worth saving. I never have once felt as inspired by this pairing as I was in "Retreat" when they were just coming together, and the unashamed kiss in front of others amidst so much danger. And that Xander's love for Dawn pulled him right out of the fight, literally and figuratively, in "Last Gleaming" and had him apparently decide to go against Buffy's and Willow's then-present "protect the Seed" plan (sadly not to conclusion, though). As a couple, though, we are supposed to perceiving them as spinning apart, breaking down but... from what? What have they been that the audience is supposed to be invested in? When relationships are endangered in the Buffyverse, it has worked because the audience knew what these relationships were like and what was at risk -- Xander/Cordy, Willow/Oz, Willow/Tara, Gunn/Fred, Xander/Anya, and even Buffy's big 'ships, loaded with politics though they are. Here, they seem to just be assuming we've fleshed it out (or fleshed it up) in our minds enough to infer it for them.
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            • #21
              Eh, I don't see how Xander/Anya can possibly qualify as a healthy relationship - not even by the low standards of the Buffyverse. Almost nothing in the way of honest communication, flat-out ignoring huge and significant parts of each others lives, extreme clinginess on Anya's part and extreme doormattyness on Xander's part, multiple cold-blooded attempts to murder the other party, etc. At least Xander and Cordelia were equal partners in snark and talked to each other honestly about what was on their mind (perhaps a little too honestly?).

              As for Xander/Dawn, given its lack of exploration, I wouldn't be surprised if the only reason they hooked them up was to provide for that twist ending when Buffy went to talk to Xander and walked in on them kissing. That seems be the only reason anything ever happens in these comics - for maximum shock value.

              Originally posted by vampmogs View Post
              It's the only way Xander knew how to function in a relationship.
              The only way? Xander/Willow, Xander/Ampata, Xander/Renee anyone? Also, Xander/Anya doesn't really have much bickering, just Anya saying something off-putting and Xander acting embarassed.


              • #22
                I do take your point but I think there is an aspect of them feeling more like they are portraying a more mature relationship with deep foundations rather than triggered by physical desire/lust. I honestly think that is the distinction they are going for (coupled with dedicating jack all panel space to it).

                Without question the S9 Xander/Dawn is lacking. As I have said, so much so that I see the upcoming story as Xander's rather than 'theirs'. The issue he has may draw some depth into what has been going on with them and that is why we haven't been seeing it, they have been holding it back, but I just want to see more of them and what is going on. I have loved their panels so much this season it is frustrating to see no more and yet have to drift through the shallow Guarded story where time could have run on Xander and Dawn too (once they had removed Spike and his story which was what was supposed to have been running concurrently it was odd to not replace it at all).
                Last edited by Stoney; 08-10-12, 08:35 PM.


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                  I'm not sure on comparing the healthiness of relationships. I think Xander/Anya was pretty shallow tbh and pretty unhealthy, but I see bad aspects in all the relationships (the ones I know) that you listed. There are aspects where Xander/Anya had it better and ones where they had it worse.
                  Xander/Anya had its problems but overall, it did better than the ships that I listed. They are the longest lasting Buffyverse couple. Both of them saw the other in their life long-term and made lots of room in their life for the other. They may not have effectively shared their deepest emotional feelings but they were generally upfront about a lot of stuff. I believed Anya was in love with Xander from The Harsh Light of Day through the end and that Xander was in love with Anya from late S4 through the end. They supported and complimented each other a lot. IMO, Anya saw Xander very clearly. Xander missed the boat on Anya's ruthlessness and evil but he knew the day-to-day Anya of their relationship pretty well.

                  Those are all substantive markers for healthy relationships.

                  Comparing one relationship with others that same person had (Xander/Anya to Xander/Cordelia, to Xander/Willow etc) seems worthwhile. Comparing with what someone else achieved with entirely different people, not so much to me.
                  It's different types of worthwhile. Comparing Xander's relationships allows us to just evaluate how Xander handled himself. Comparing Xander/Anya to Buffy/Angel allows us to the compare the dynamics between the four. And it also provides some perspective that the Buffyverse is a petri dish of unhealthy relationships which is really pertinent to the discussion about Xanya and Xordelia's flaws. The Buffyverse isn't the Anne of Green Gables series or even the Harry Potter series. Most of the relationships are effed up- so Xanya deserves *some* recognition for being effed up but not as much as some.

                  There's value to a simple race between two and a three-legged race where people run in a partnership.


                  • #24
                    Well that level of comparison is all subjective by what weight and importance you personally put on the relative successes and failures of the two ships. I think that Spuffy in S7 was a relationship of respect and loving support. I don't think Anya had Xander's respect 99% of the time and I personally put a huge weight on that being fundamental to a healthy relationship. As I said, I don't think comparison of separate relationships in this way - choosing 'the most ___' - gives much beyond subjective views.