Season 5 Episode 03 - The Replacement
In the Harris basement, Xander, Anya, Buffy and Riley are watching a kung-fu flick on TV. Actually, Buffy has her nose buried in a history book. Xander wishes he had some food to offer them but the hotplate is not working Anya suspects the cat peed on it. Then they hear the front door to the house above open and Xander says his parents are back. When they start to hear yelling and things breaking, Xander says, "No, no. I was wrong. Just incompetent burglars." They try to focus on the movie but the fighting upstairs becomes more intense and dust starts falling from the ceiling. Xander comments that it's definitely time to start looking for a new place. "Buffy, you've been to hell. They have one-bedrooms, right?" But Buffy is very much into her studying. Riley tries to get her attention but it's only when he covers the pages with his hands that she finally looks up. Taking his advice, Buffy decides she can take a break from the violence of the Crusades for some (she sees what they're watching) "Ooo, fighting!"
The argument continues upstairs but they try to watch the movie. Riley starts rubbing Buffy's shoulders. Observing this, Xander starts rubbing Anya's shoulder, but, having a dislocated shoulder (from having been injured last episode), she cries out in pain. Buffy starts to criticize the fighting in the movie, pointing out everything the hero is doing wrong. Riley reminds her that she doesn't always have to be on Slayer duty, but she's sure it would bother Riley if he were watching an Army movie and the soldiers were doing things wrong. The argument upstairs suddenly becomes too loud to ignore, much to Xander's embarrassment. Buffy argues that Willow is just as critical whenever they watch a movie about witches. Xander says, uncomfortably, "Oh, yeah. She's like, 'Oh, what's that? A cauldron? Who uses a cauldron anymore?'"
Somewhere in a dark lair, we see a large black boiling cauldron, over which stands a very ugly demon, chanting some sort of incantation. "The last step in thy forging is pain. The price with which I purchase the death of the Slayer!"
The next day, Xander brings the gang to look at an apartment he's thinking about renting. Xander tells them not to get their hopes up, since the rent is pretty high. When they walk in they see exactly why that is, being such a spacious apartment. Anya instantly decides that she wants it and orders Xander to pay anything for it. The building manager greets them, assuming Riley is Xander. When she sees the real Xander her enthusiasm falters a bit. After explaining the cost, Anya informs the lady that Xander will take the place and orders him to get the furniture. Xander excuses himself to have a word with Anya, but they can still hear him as he explains to her that his construction job will be ending soon and he won't have anymore money coming in. He reminds Anya that she has her own place, but Anya is less than thrilled about having to keep visiting him in the basement and makes no attempt to keep her voice down. Complaining that her arm hurts and that she doesn't want to see pretty things that she can't have, she storms off, leaving an embarrassed Xander to start filling out the credit check application.
Meanwhile, Giles, the new owner of the magic shop, is busy preparing the store for its opening. Carrying a box of miscellaneous curses, Giles runs into the ugly demon who is suddenly standing in front of him. "The Slayer is not here," the demon states. Tying to find something with which to ward the demon off, Giles brandishes a wooden statue in front of it. "That is a fertility god," it tells him. Giles begins to beat the demon over the head with the statue, but the creature is hardly fazed by this and easily knocks him down. "You are not the Slayer. You do not concern me." With that the demon turns and swoops out of the shop.
Later, Giles is demonstrating how he fought the demon with the statue, while the others are looking through books to research the creature. Buffy asks how bad he hurt the demon and he admits that he probably didn't. "He ran away, huh?" Buffy asks. "Sort of more turned and swept out majestically, I suppose." Nonetheless, Giles thinks he dealt with it very well, considering he's not dead or unconscious. With the short life-span of Sunnydale magic shop owners, Xander points out that Giles was attacked before he even had a chance to open the store. "Who's up for a swinging chorus of the `We Told You So' symphony?" Searching a book, Giles finds out that the demon's name is Toth, last survivor of the Tothric Clan. A sophisticated demon, since he chooses to use tools and devices instead of fighting bare-handed, who's very focused and since he mentioned the Slayer, they don't have to guess what Toth is focused on. This gets Riley's attention. "Where do we find him and how hard can I kill him?" Giles recalls that Toth had a distinct odor to him.
Fully armed, the gang arrives at the dump. "The city dump," Buffy comments. "Where smells go to relax and be themselves." A blow to his faith in the human race, Riley realizes that people aren't recycling like they say they are. They come upon Spike scavenging through the garbage. Giles asks him if he's seen a demon: tall, robed, skin hanging off. "You mean a great, tall robey thing like that one?" Spike points behind them. They turn around and see Toth aim a weird looking rod at them; he fires a mystical blast at Buffy. He misses and the gang scatters. "Big guy! Kick `er ass!" Spike cheers, but Toth's next blast destroys the scavenged lamp Spike has in his hand. "Oh, very nice! I was on your side!" he shouts and makes his exit. Toth is firing again and Xander pushes Buffy out of the way and takes the blast, getting flung back into a large pile of garbage. The others run to him and help him up. He's in pain but seems all right. They realize Toth has disappeared.
Helping an injured Xander as they leave the dump, no one notices the other Xander who is still lying unconscious in the garbage.
The next morning, Xander wakes up in the pile of garbage and realizes something is wrong. He hurries home but does not have the key to his basement. "Anya!" he calls, knocking on the door, but nobody answers. He goes back up to the side of the house and peers through the basement window and is shocked to see himself getting dressed for work. "Oh, my god!" he exclaims. "What am I doing in there!?" Realizing he needs Buffy, he stands up and immediately trips as he tries to leave.
Later, in town, Xander is on a pay phone arguing with the operator that it ate his quarter as he searches his pockets for another one. He does find another quarter and quickly dials Buffy's number. As the line rings on the other end, Xander sees the 2nd Xander walking down the sidewalk towards him (this Xander is impeccably dressed and has neatly combed hair) and turns away as he passes by without noticing Xander. Buffy answers on the other end and Xander, deciding to follow his double, hangs up without saying anything.
In her bedroom, Buffy hangs up her phone telling Riley that whoever it was hung up. She continues to pack weapons into a bag saying that if Toth wants to fight with weapons she's got it covered from "A" to "Z". "From ax to. . ." (fails to come up with a "Z" weapon) ". . zee other ax." Seeing that Riley is still worried about her, she tries to reassure him, but before they get into serious smoochies, gagging and choking sounds interrupt them and they see Dawn standing in the open doorway. "My friend Sharon's older brother knows a girl who died 'cause she choked on her boyfriend's tongue," Dawn cheerfully informs them. Buffy tells her sister to go away, but Dawn insists she's not in her room and Buffy doesn't own the hallway. Joyce walks down the hallway and Dawn pleads her case that she can stand in the hallway if she wants to, while Buffy tells Joyce that Dawn is watching them like a big freak. "This must be my two-teenage-daughters headache," Joyce says. The sisters are quick to blame each other for their mother's headache and Joyce walks away, telling them that it would be good for them to work things out for themselves. Smug, Dawn continues to stand in the doorway and Buffy closes the door in her face. "Oww!"
A quick look at what Spike's doing he's put together a female mannequin he scavenged from the dump and dressed up with a blonde wig. Satisfied with his work, he kicks it, breaking it apart again, and kicks the mannequin's head up into his hands. In very arch-villain form, "Oh, Slayer," he says to the head, "One of these days."
Hidden, Xander is watching the 2nd Xander do his job when the foreman calls the double into his office because the construction job will soon be ending. "You take my life, you get my being fired absolutely free," Xander comments snidely. He spies on the conversation through a window and is shocked to realize that the boss is offering the 2nd Xander another, better paying, position on the job. Xander sees that the double is holding something shiny in his hand and thinks he's hypnotizing the foreman. The boss suggests that Xander (2nd Xander) should celebrate with his girlfriend. "I already have an idea how," says 2nd Xander, smoothly.
Later, back at the same apartment building, Xander is listening through the door of "his" new apartment as the manager is expressing her surprise to 2nd Xander that he decided to take the place after all, calling him "Mr. Harris." As the double signs the lease, it becomes clear to Xander that the apartment manager is coming on to 2nd Xander, giving him her home number, letting him know he can call her anytime even for nonbusiness stuff. Xander scoffs, "Please, lady! That is so not me. He's too clean for one thing, and his socks are all matchy." Xander quickly hides as the manager steps out of the door and the 2nd Xander phones Anya. He gets her answering machine but figures she's probably just sitting there listening anyway. "Am not," Anya retorts, as she listens to her machine. He asks her to meet him at the apartment at nine o'clock. As the 2nd Xander leaves the apartment, Xander jumps him from behind but the double breaks free and faces him, shocked at what he sees. Then he punches Xander in the face and runs off. "I won't let you do this!" shouts Xander, in pain. "You can't do this to me!"
Deciding he really needs Buffy's help, he makes his way through the downpour of rain, to Giles' apartment. But hearing his own voice coming from inside, he peers through the window and sees his double already there telling Buffy, Giles, and Riley that there is something that looks exactly like him. "It stole my face. We have to find it, and we have to kill it," he says. Distressed, Xander prayers that Buffy can tell it's not really him. "Please, Buffy, resist his spell. Do this for me." But what Buffy tells the 2nd Xander dashes his hopes. "Don't worry, Xander, whatever stole your face it has to deal with the Slayer now."
A short time later that night, Willow is returning to her dorm room. A soaked Xander quickly rushes inside after her and pleads with her not to be scared and to just listen to what he has to say. "It's me. Xander. And I can prove it!" A befuddled Willow just sits down on the edge of her bed as he begins to tell her about things only the two of them would know. Like how he wanted a toy firetruck for his seventh birthday, and didn't get it, and Willow was real nice about it and then when the house next door burned down and real firetrucks came he thought for years that she had set the fire for him. He reminds her that every Christmas they watch Charlie Brown together and he always does the Snoopy Dance, and, to Willow's delight, he demonstrates. She stops him momentarily, asking why he would think she wouldn't think he was Xander. Realizing she doesn't know about the double, he tells her that he woke up in the dump that morning. "Xander, the basement isn't a dump. It's more like a really nice hovel." He explains that he was hit by Toth's ray and that the Xander they walked home last night wasn't him, and that it's pretending to be him, hypnotizing people, and that it's already gotten to Giles, Buffy, and Riley.
Back at Giles' apartment, Giles is trying to figure out what kind of creature could mimic Xander's form, but the 2nd Xander wonders why they have to find out what it is they should just kill it. Riley agrees with him. Buffy thinks it's Toth in disguise, since he disappeared right after he hit Xander with the blast. Giles admits that it does makes sense and the 2nd Xander agrees. "It must be Toth."
"It's a robot!" declares Xander to Willow, as he wrings out his wet clothes. He's convinced it's an evil robot constructed with evil parts that look like him designed to do evil. "Uh-huh," Willow says mildly. "Or, it's Toth." Xander declares, "Or... it's Toth!"
"I was going to look for Toth anyway," Buffy tells the 2nd Xander, "I guess now I start looking for you." 2nd Xander asks if he should go with her and tells her that he's meeting Anya at the new apartment. Buffy assures him that he should be with Anya, and that way Buffy won't have to worry about running into him and killing the wrong Xander.
Willow listens as a downtrodden Xander talks about how a demon stole his life and is living it better then he is. She's sure there's a way for them to unhypnotize Buffy and starts looking for a spell. "Yeah. Whatever," he says. Willow tries to convince him that she needs his help, but he tells her he never helps. "I get in trouble and Buffy saves me." Trying to make him feel better, Willow tells him that's not true. "Sometimes we all help to save you." What makes things worse for him, Xander realizes that everyone is treating the double like a grown-up. Xander thinks he should just let him have his life. Willow tells him he can't let the double take his whole existence, but Xander argues that he wasn't doing anything really great with his life. "What have I got that's even worth" Then he realizes that Anya doesn't know about the double. "No way! He can take anything, but he can't have her! I need her!" To which Willow wrinkles her nose in a wry grin, and asks, "Really?!" He tells her to keep looking for a spell to reveal the demon and is about to leave when she stops him, pointing out that he's known all day the double was trying to take over his life and he only thought about Anya just now. "Hey, wait till you have an evil twin. See how you handle it," Xander replies and leaves. Miffed, Willow grumbles, "I handled it fine."
Xander bursts into Anya's apartment, but she's already gone. He clicks on the answering machine and hears the message his double left for Anya to meet him at the apartment. Frantically, he begins searching for something. "It's gotta be here. Where is it?"
At the new apartment, Anya is calling the 2nd Xander a liar about getting the place. He has a champagne bottle and glasses, and they sit down on the living room floor. He tells her he got the place for her because he knew she wanted it. They begin kissing and then he suddenly asks Anya if she saw him today. Somewhat confused, she says that she just got his message. She quickly becomes interested in what happens next in their lives, wondering when they're going to get a car and a puppy or a child. "I have a list somewhere." He asks her what she's talking about. She urges him that they have to get started, that she doesn't have time. "I'm dying!" Before he can say anything, she adds, "I may have as few as fifty years left." He realizes that she's acting like this because she hasn't been seriously hurt since becoming human, that she's finally learning what being human really means. She tries to deny this, but he points out that as a demon she was going to live thousands of years, but now she's going to age and die. "That must be terrifying," he tells her, soothingly. She tells him he doesn't know what that's like. "Being suddenly human? I think I can get what that would be like." He assures her that they could get through it together. He promises her that very soon she won't be thinking about getting older. They've just started kissing again when Xander bursts through the door, demanding that 2nd Xander get away from her.
Anya is shocked to see two Xanders. Xander implores Anya to believe that he's the real Xander. The double tells her that Xander's a demon who's trying to trick her. Anya steps closer to the 2nd Xander. "What is it? Make it go away."
At Giles' apartment building, Buffy and Riley are about to split up to begin searching for Toth-in-Xander's-skin when Willow bursts (lot of bursting going on) into the apartment. "I swear this time I know I had that locked," Giles comments. Willow tells them that Toth looks like Xander, and Buffy asks Willow how she knew. She explains that they each had a Xander, only her Xander was real. "Oh, dear lord," Giles says behind them, looking in a book. Riley asks if Buffy noticed how their Xander seemed a bit a forceful and confident. Willow tells them that's not Xander. "I said 'Oh, dear lord,'" Giles tells them. "You always say that," Buffy replies. Giles insists that it's always important, and tells them that neither Xander is a demon. Worried, Willow asks, "Is one of them a robot?" Giles continues to explain that Toth's rod-device is used to split a person in half, instilling personality traits into two separate bodies. Toth was trying to create two Buffies, one with all the qualities of Buffy Summers and the other with the strength, speed, and heritage of the Slayer. When it hit Xander, the device separated him into his strongest and weakest points. He assures them that both Xanders are real and there is nothing in either of them that Xander didn't already possess. Riley doesn't understand Toth's original plan, pointing out that the Slayer Buffy would be pretty unkillable. "But the two halves can't exist without each other. Kill the weaker Buffy half, and the Slayer half dies." They realize that would hold true for the Xanders.
Back at Xander's apartment, Xander is still frantically trying to convince Anya that the 2nd Xander is the demon, "or possibly a robot." The 2nd Xander tells Anya not to worry, as he steps forward. "I'm thinking this is going to last about fifteen seconds." Xander suddenly pulls a gun out of his pocket and points it at the 2nd Xander. "I'm thinking less!"
"No! Don't shoot him!" Anya shouts, grabbing for the gun. The 2nd Xander grabs for it as well and they all struggle for it.
"Can't this thing go any faster?" Buffy asks, as Riley is doing nearly seventy in Giles' car. She begins to ask him if he ever wished to which he quickly says "No," not even letting her finish. He knew she was about to ask if he wished that Toth had separated Buffy into two so he could be with Buffy-Buffy instead of Slayer-Buffy, because she knows how rankly he's been over the Slayer thing lately. "I have Buffy-Buffy," he tells her. "Being the Slayer is part of who you are." He assures her that he has to have it all her toes, elbows, the whole bad-ice-skating-movie obsession. "There's no part of you I'm not in love with." Her spirits lifted by his words, Buffy doesn't say anything, then finally says that they need to get there soon. "If Xander kills himself, he's dead."
"Let go!" Xander shouts at Anya. "I have to kill the demon-bot!" The 2nd Xander finally gets hold of the gun and tells Anya to step aside. Buffy and Riley burst into the apartment. Xander pleads with Buffy to believe he's the real Xander. "My gun!" Anya warns them, "He's got my gun!" Buffy orders gun-holding Xander to give her the gun. After a moment, he smoothly unloads the gun one-handed and hands it to her. Anya asks which one is real, and when both Xanders insist they are the real one, Xander throws himself at 2nd Xander. Buffy, however, gets in between them and throws him against the counter. "Thank you," the 2nd Xander says, then Buffy throws him against the counter next to Xander.
She begins to explain that they've been split in two, that they're both Xander, and they can't kill each other. "I mean, you could, but it would be really bad." The Xanders don't believe her. "He can't be me!" insists Xander. "He's all fancy." Riley tells them they're both different because different properties went into each of them. Xander wants to know what kind of properties. Sparing his feelings, Buffy tells him things like sense of direction and night vision. But Xander tells them the 2nd Xander has a shiny disc that he uses to hypnotize people. The 2nd Xander reaches into his pocket and Xander warns everyone to cover their eyes or their brains will be melted. Taking the disk from 2nd Xander, Buffy shows Xander that it's just a flattened nickel found at the construction site. Perplexed, Xander takes the nickel and admits that it is kinda cool. At this point, Anya wants to know when somebody is going to tell her why there are two Xanders, and Buffy says she'll explain on the way to Giles'.
But as they're about to leave, Toth crashes through the door. "I will not miss again, Slayer!" He fires a blast at her and Buffy rolls out of the way as it hits the carpet, which upsets 2nd Xander, since he just paid a cleaning deposit. Riley attacks Toth but does little damage before being knocked aside; Buffy steps in to start dishing out some punishment. She manages to knock the demon to the floor and with a sword Riley tosses to her, impales him. "Oh, yeah," 2nd Xander comments. "That cleaning deposit's gone." Xander speaks up, "I was thinking the same thing." As if it's finally dawning on him he adds, "Hey, do you think we're both Xander?"
At the magic shop, both Xanders are standing side by side letting the girls compare them. Buffy points out an identical scar they each have on their foreheads. Willow indicates zits they both have, as well as a weird little hair that's growing in the wrong way. "Okay, back off, ladies," Xander says. Riley wonders if anybody else feels like locking them up in separate rooms and doing experiments on them, and everyone just gives him a look. "Just me, then" Since both Xanders are identical, Anya thinks they shouldn't do the spell right away, saying she can take the boys home with her and have sex with them, then slap them back together in the morning. 2nd Xander tells everyone she's joking but Xander knows she wasn't, and points out that that would be wrong and very confusing. Giles suggests they get started, as well as pretend they heard none of the disturbing sex talk.
But before they can begin, Xander asks 2nd Xander how he got the promotion if he wasn't hypnotizing people. "Well, I'm good at that stuff," 2nd Xander replies. "I am?" Xander says. Willow informs them they should do it now. Anya wants to know what they'll do if it doesn't work. "Kill us both, Spock!" the Xanders say in unison, then burst out laughing. Buffy points out that they're kind of the same now. "Yes. He's clearly a bad influence on himself," says a disdainful Giles. Since Toth's spell is the only thing keeping the two apart, Willow explains that breaking it should be easy and positions them side-by-side. "Let the spell be ended," is all she says. Xander doesn't believe that's all it takes, but when he opens his eyes he sees that the 2nd Xander is gone. Anya says, "I liked it the other way. Put `em back."
The next day, Buffy and Riley are helping Xander move out of the basement. Seeing Xander looking over the place, Riley asks if he's getting nostalgic. Xander says that at first it was just a place, but then he started to make memories. He points out where Spike used to sleep, where he and Anya drowned a Sepavro demon in the sink, and the spot where he had his heart ripped out. Reconsidering, he says, "I really hate this place." Xander carries a box over to where Anya is sitting, no longer wearing the sling on her arm, and she asks if he's giving her presents. "I just thought you can help carry a little," he says. Anya reminds him that Buffy has superstrength and they could just load her up like one of those little horses. Not happy, she finally takes the box from him, but not without commenting that she's just his slave.
When he and Riley are the only ones there, Xander wonders how Anya can always make him feel like Suave Xander's left the building. Riley points out that he and Anya have their rough spots, but it's obvious to him that Anya digs the whole Xander package. Xander confesses to envying what Riley has with Buffy and comments that he's very lucky. Riley's well aware of how lucky he is, and that Buffy is like no one else in the world. He smiles dreamily as he tells Xander, "When I'm with her, it's like I'm split in two. Half of me is just on fire, going crazy if I'm not touching her. The other half is so still and peaceful, just perfectly content. Just knows... this is the one." Then he adds, without bitternness, "But she doesn't love me."
As if he didn't just drop a bombshell, Riley continues to pack and Buffy returns, asking him what she can do to help. She kisses him sweetly.
Xander just watches them, contemplative.
Synopsis written by Joseph B.