Back from commercial, we have a flashback to Xander and Anya in their apartment from last season. The title reads, "Sunnydale, 2001." Xander naps in the orange chair I remember from his basement domicile from Season Four, and Anya sits nearby on the sofa. Apparently, this is an interlude from the first night of "Once More, With Feeling" when all of Sunnydale broke out into song. Anya's wearing a pink 1950s dress, and she has incredibly long blond hair, which I don't recall being the case in OM,WF, but okay, they're doing a "thing" here (as the writers would say). Anya asks Xander if the singing earlier was strange, but he doesn't wake up and instead mutters from the depths of a dream about how he just wanted a "happy ending." Outside the apartment, we hear a brief snatch of what sounds like David Fury and Marti Noxon singing about how Fury has gotten mustard on his shirt. Anya closes the door and surveys her sleeping honey. She then breaks into a clunky and mostly uncatchy song that recaps her experiences so far. Upon further analysis of the song, I've decided that the lyrics are fine and sometimes amusing, but the tune alternates between grating and boring. Big points for the lyrics that go, "I've boned a troll, I've wreaked some wrath, but on the whole I've had no path." I know revisiting OM,WF and giving Emma a chance to sing again probably seemed like a cute idea when ME came up with it, but overall, I wish they hadn't; it ended up seeming self-indulgent rather than artistically necessary. To summarize, Anya has no idea who she is or what her value is, and hopes to find some self-worth in becoming Mrs. Xander Harris. She feels that becoming part of a couple must confer some sort of special benefits; otherwise people wouldn't risk opening up their hearts to one another. She sings about her plans to help the relationship if it starts to fail: "I'll show him what bliss is, welcome him with kisses." She continues, "He's my Xander and he's awfully swell, it makes financial sense as well." Well, I suppose that's a reason. Still singing, she makes an entrance out to their balcony, where she's suddenly wearing her wedding dress and veil. The song swells to its climax: "I will be his Mrs. I will be --"
Cut to a silent shot of current Anya back in human face, pinned to the frat house wall with the sword, unconscious or dead. Ouch, what a painful cut. I don't know why, but Anya and her story touch me in ways Spike's never did. I know their plots are very similar, but with Anya, I'm all a mixture of horror and disgust at what she was and is, and lip-trembling pity at how she became that way. Whereas similar scenes with Spike leave me rolling my eyes and fantasizing about walling him up in the basement. Isn't life complicated? Xander, next to a number of gory smears on the floor, regains consciousness and calls, "Anya!" I think perhaps part of why I can now stomach Anya's story over Spike's is that I feel the writers are finally being honest about her. Much of the action in this episode takes place in a house smeared with red reminders of just what horrors Anya is capable of, and that just seems much more honest than the pathetic fence-sitting to be found in demon-egg trafficking. If ME had been truly honest about portraying Spike's past nature, and not tried to whitewash it for two seasons in order to hook him up with the heroine, I think I might have been a little more sympathetic.