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Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life

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Review of chapter "‘… But Wait Until You Really Get To Know Him’" from Rich
Review:
I like this one; we get a good picture of the team at work, and they are a team. Keep up the good work.
Review By [Rich] • Date [12 Jul 13] • Rating [8 out of 10]
Review of chapter "‘He Seems So Harmless At First …’" from RevDorothyL
Review:
I'm glad of the slightly greater amount of support Buffy is receiving from her larger circle of friends this time around, because that whole "Ted" episode was 'Gaslight'-creepy and pushing a whole lot of family abuse buttons, and Buffy being left all on her own for much of the episode didn't make it any easier. On the other hand, I wonder who'll be the test subject who demonstrates the addictive and mind-controlling qualities of the cookies this time around -- Jesse, perhaps? :)
Comments from author:
It's no secret that Joss Whedon made Buffy suffer to improve the story, and it's true that if everything goes well and smoothly for the characters that you don't have much of a story. What gets me--and there are far more egregious examples of this than 'Ted'--is that often Buffy is made to suffer by other characters for reasons that don't make a lot of sense--they can be unreasonably harsh on her in ways that aren't even particularly in character--and yet it often seems that their conduct doesn't get the disapproval it merits from Buffy herself, or from other characters, or, in a way, from the show itself. Just because they need people to be mean to Buffy to make the show interesting isn't enough justification for pretending that being mean is not what they're doing. So I have tried to shape things a little differently in this respect.

As I said, though, 'Ted' isn't a particularly bad example. The biggest cause of suffering for Buffy in that episode is her belief that she has used her Slayer strength to kill an ordinary human being, and it's reasonable that she should feel bad about that.

And maybe in general I haven't done enough work on finding other, less unreasonable, ways to make things tough for the characters. Any suggestions in that direction gratefully considered!
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [28 Jun 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Team-Up" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Good on Marcie for pointing out just one of the many ways in which the Watchers' Council has failed to adequately back-up the Slayers and their respective Watchers with accurate information (as well as questioning Giles until he told them all about the very existence of the Council in the first place). Also, I love this alternate resolution of the Angel-as-hostage situation, with Angel less injured and Drusilla NOT restored but rather leaving town with an uninjured Spike . . . for now. All very civilized, sensible, well-thought-out, and EFFECTIVE for keeping order on the Hellmouth without recklessly endangering the good guys.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [31 May 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Jobs All Around" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Very glad to see another chapter of this! With Buffy not participating in the career week 'festivities' this time around, and so many more allies on her side, I'm eager to see how the "What's My Line" stuff plays out.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [17 May 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "'Auld Acquaintance'" from Rich
Review:
First off, good chapter. The team is becoming - hs become, actually - a real team, and work as well together as the "originals" did.

Second, my completely unsolicited opinion on the secrecy thing. The Watcher's Council is a very old organization, with a very long memory. For much of their history, the mere suspicion of involvement with the supernatural would have been a guaranteed death sentence ("thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"). Hiding the Slayer's identity didn't only protect her from demons, it protected her from society; therefore it made sense in those times. It doesn't always make sense now, although there are still groups like the Initiative running around. Maybe the Council knows about them even if Buffy doesn't; but even if they don't, they're still not going to change the habits of centuries without a pretty strong reason.
Review By [Rich] • Date [27 Mar 13] • Rating [8 out of 10]
Review of chapter "'Auld Acquaintance'" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Nicely done!

And Dave does have a point, it seems. I mean, I can see why the Slayer wouldn't want to risk too much interference from governmental types or others who might like to take control of her (after all, the job of being overly controlling a-holes and making the Slayer's job that much more difficult has already been taken and filled by the Watchers' Council, as I understand it!), but since all the demons seem to know about her, it doesn't make much sense to ask her to work 'in secret' in terms of isolating her from potential non-controlling allies and the kind of support system that Marcie and the others have organized for her.

Perhaps Giles should suggest changing the traditional Watcher spiel to something more up-to-date, like, "Whenever possible, the Slayer must work DISCREETLY, in order to limit outside interference with her Mission"? :)
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [27 Mar 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Being Close" from RevDorothyL
Review:
So glad you're continuing with this!
Comments from author:
Thanks!

Unless I am prevented by death or incapacitation or some similar event, I will keep producing chapters until I reach some reasonable conclusion--but perhaps not as frequently as you (or I myself) would like.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [22 Feb 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Aftermath" from ScorpioP
Review:
I stumbled into this late, so consider this an all-encompassing review, rather than just on this chapter. On the whole, I like what you have done with this so far. It's a very different, yet "realistic", take on Buffy. You have reminded me that Xander was primarily comic relief up to this point in the series. However, a few thoughts come to me.
1. When did Xander die? Was this at some AU point in the series, or should we assume some point after the series, when he is the older, wiser demon fighter we came to expect?
2. Your story side-stepped a few canon incidents (the hyenas, the mummy girl, and Marcie herself, obviously) because of the absence of Xander. Might I suggest that Buffy and the gang find themselves involved in some different adventures, either ones where Xander's presence somehow prevented something becoming an episode-worthy story, or incidents happening elsewhere in Sunnydale while Buffy was handling the ones we saw on screen?
3. I am curious to see the changes for Larry, Oz, and Willow, as this unfolds. Without Xander's inadvertent help, Larry doesn't come out of the closet the same way. It appears that Willow and Oz don't end up together -- will Marcie have the same devotion to him when(if) he becomes a werewolf, and will that keep the Scoobies from killing him? As for Willow, with no lifelong best friend, and now no cool boyfriend, will she come out of her geek shell? Or will she and Amy plunge into magic even faster than before?
4. I think the "secret identity" was largely a figment of the Scoobies' imagination even in canon. The other kids may not have known she was "The Vampire Slayer", but they did vote her class protector for a reason. There are a heck of a lot of kids who are dabbling in magic, or voodoo, or raising hell-hounds, etc., for it not to be at least semi-common knowledge that spookiness abounds. And, while they never spell it out, obviously enough of the senior class knew about the Sunnydale nightlife that Xander could train them into an army to help fight off the Ascension. That's an idea worth exploring, having Buffy or one of the Scoobies run into average people who know the score already.

Keep it up!
Comments from author:
Thanks for your thoughts.

The answer to your question about Xander's death is that it's not intended as an AU diverging from the series but rather as something that happened later, 'post-canon', when (as Clarence said to him in the first chapter) it was 'his time'.

Your point about how even in canon it was obvious that a lot of people knew a good deal about the supernatural is of course perfectly valid, and it only shows up even more clearly how ridiculous those moments were when Buffy and her allies made a big deal about not telling people. Contrast the moment in 'Surprise' when Xander off-handedly confirms to Oz that vampires are real and Oz treats the revelation as unsurprising with Buffy's initial reluctance, in 'Lie To Me', to confess anything to Ford, until he breaks through that by telling her he already knows everything. And look at 'The Wish': everybody in the Wishverse Sunnydale knows about vampires, and although the situation is bad, if people didn't know about it that would only make things worse. If vampires were real, it could only be to the advantage of every human, including any dedicated vampire-fighters, to know the truth. The only way I can see to explain canon with anything approaching plausibility is that the Watchers' Council feel, consciously or subconsciously, that their knowledge makes them 'special' and that the more people who share their knowledge the less 'special' they will be. So to protect their vanity they insist on how vital it is to keep their secrets, and this attitude is ingrained in every Watcher and in each Slayer by the Slayer's Watcher.

Some of the things that go on in the show do make me feel that a distinction is being made between what gamers call PCs and NPCs (in the scene from 'Surprise', it's as if Xander is acknowledging that Oz is no longer just an NPC). When that gets obvious, I regard it as a flaw, because the difference between PCs and NPCs is so plainly artifactual (although I'd make an exception if it were being consciously lampshaded as artifactual in a bit of deliberate fourth-wall-breaking).

But even if the attitude doesn't make sense, that doesn't mean the characters don't have it. Hence Giles, although dragged into revealing the truth to one character after another, still feels reluctance.
Review By [ScorpioP] • Date [26 Jan 13] • Rating [8 out of 10]
Review of chapter "Aftermath" from (Current Donor)vidicon
Review:
And now all that remains is to find Ethan and kill him. Buffy's forces seem to be increasing exponentially. But I fear her French will not improve...

Thanks for writing.
Review By [(Current Donor)vidicon] • Date [25 Jan 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Aftermath" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Much respect for Principal Seymour -- she went out like a true hero, defending the kids in her charge . . . like the principal at Newtown last month, unfortunately.

Meanwhile, the 'in the know' circle has expanded quite a bit around Buffy, but so far that seems to be working out okay.

Very glad to see a new chapter of this saga, as always.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [25 Jan 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Quiet Night In" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Loving this variation on the "Halloween" episode -- especially the chance for Morgan to get to help out, since he's still alive in this timeline and not yet dead of his brain cancer.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [11 Jan 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Fade In" from RedCalypso
Review:
Only two chapters in and I can already see how this story is going to go. As a Xander fan, I just don't have the heart to watch him slowly being torn down to nothing when he's shown that everyone would be better off if he had never lived.
Comments from author:
I expect Xander fans would be looking for stories about Xander; this isn't primarily a story about Xander, so I expect Xander fans will be looking elsewhere. That's fine. This isn't an attempt to write a story about Xander, so it's neither a good attempt to write a story about Xander nor a bad attempt to write a story about Xander.
Review By [RedCalypso] • Date [11 Jan 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Another Mission Accomplished" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Buffy coming out with that "Incredible Hulk" line about not making Angel angry cracked me up! I never figured her for a Marvel comics aficionado, for all her general expertise in pop culture references, but I can definitely imagine her catching a rerun of the Bill Bixby series from the late 1970s from time to time (or maybe Joyce was a closet Bixby fan? She'd have been in the right age bracket to watch the series first-run in college or graduate school, if she'd had time to watch TV before she'd given birth to Buffy in 1981, and might have sat with her young daughter to watch syndicated reruns later in the 1980s/90s).

Meanwhile, I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying this, and not because of any overwhelming desire to see Xander's sense of self-satisfaction over his part in Buffy's mission crushed (though a little more humility from Xander wouldn't go amiss, and I'm glad to see a bit more open-mindedness on his part as the story unfolds) or because I occasionally long for the opposite or antidote to one too many 'super-Xander' stories that seem to want to elevate Xander's contributions at the expense of everybody else's (especially Buffy's) while ignoring or attempting to justify every instance in which Xander acted like the immature and/or emotionally damaged and selfish young person he couldn't seem to help being.

Maybe something bad WILL happen in the future (I mean, something WORSE even than what happened so often in canon) because of Xander's absence from Buffy's life, but so far it's looking as though the greatly expanded 'Scooby Gang' (without being subtly side-tracked now and then by Xander's obsession with Buffy or his need to keep the support group small and exclusive in order to feel special and try to compensate for the damage done to his self-esteem by his massively dysfunctional family, but WITH the addition of Marcie Ross's undoubted strategic strengths) is racking up the same or even a slightly greater number of successes, with a somewhat shorter list of known collateral damage. I don't know how many additional people might have died unseen and unheard through one cause or another (due to the vampire recruiting drive during the summer of '97, for instance, when in canon they'd been focused on raising the Master, instead), but so far it looks like Sunnydale is a slightly better place to be for everyone we know and love, and especially for Buffy.
Comments from author:
Glad you like the story.

You've picked up there on two things I've been doing deliberately.

I have been introducing a larger number of characters to the group than in the show. To be fair, budget constraints must have had an effect on how big they could make their regular cast. The 'Slayer must work in secret' stuff was presumably an attempt at a justification for this, although it never made a whole lot of sense and made less and less the longer the show ran. I don't think it's fair to put it just on Xander, though, they were all involved in avoiding telling people the truth about what was going on. For me it was convenient to use the removal of Xander as an excuse for altering that pattern. I don't have to worry about budgeting for performers' salaries (although I find that the larger my cast gets the more complicated it does get juggling them all).

The increased attention to strategic thinking is also deliberate. It's only fair to say, though, that the show wasn't supposed to be about strategy and strategists and never pretended that it was. Still, that's no reason I can't do something different.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [18 Dec 12] • Rating [10 out of 10]
Review of chapter "First Fruits" from RevDorothyL
Review:
This is fascinating, and so very well-written!

Can't wait to read the rest of what you've posted so far, as well as any future chapters.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [18 Dec 12] • Rating [10 out of 10]
Review of chapter "Another Mission" from Rich
Review:
This is still going well. The AU Scoobies seem to be a bit more capable than than the original team, and both Amy and Jonathon are making real contributions. Keep it up !
Review By [Rich] • Date [9 Dec 12] • Rating [8 out of 10]
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