Buffy The Vampire Slayer The Rewatch: Week 2 Part 3
I always forget until I’m watching again how much I love Xander Harris. I don’t know how people who don’t have big brothers react to Xander, but I can tell you, that’s who Xander makes me think of. (Only without the weird sexual tension obviously!) His fierce protectiveness, his goofy playful attitude, his loyalty, these are all deeply brotherly qualities.
It’s been pointed out multiple times that what makes Xander special is that he isn’t special. Unlike everyone else in the Scooby Gang, Xander has absolutely no supernatural expertise or ability. (Even Cordelia gets hers, although its on Angel.) He’s just a guy, who ended up with the right, (or wrong depending on your perspective) friends.
In “Killed By Death,” while Buffy is hospitalized, Xander stands at vigil, mostly to keep Angel away. When Angel shows up, he taunts Xander, calling him “Buffy’s White Knight,” and teasing him for “still loving her.” Cordelia also gets angry at him about it. But I don’t see it that way by this point in the series. It’s incredibly clear that by this point Xander has appointed himself Buffy’s protector (and Willow’s and Cordy’s for that matter), but it’s not romantic. It actually makes me think of chivaleric love, the idea of a higher love, rooted in the protection and veneration of a woman. Granted, chivaleric love often led to complications and once to the destruction of Camelot, but the intent is pure.
That’s why the title, “Buffy’s White Knight,” sticks out to me, but also, later in the completely amazing Season 4 finale, “Restless,” Buffy’s dream self calls Xander “Big Brother.” This to me is the first acknowledgement of that relationship, that anyone with a big brother saw from the early days. Xander’s protective streak is a deeper kind of love than anything romantic or platonic. It’s familial, it’s deep and inside of him. It’s the love of a brother, even if he doesn’t realize it.
Everybody should have a big brother, even if it’s a surrogate one, to know what this feels like, to be loved that much in that way. It’s a great feeling.