Sunnydale gets mushy for Valentine's Day. As old couples show new promise and a new couple goes public, Rachel Lovinger starts to fear one other potential romance

By Rachel Lovinger
Updated February 12, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Sunnydale gets mushy for Valentine’s Day

Isn’t it romantic? Love — or at least some twisted Sunnydale version of it — is in the air for the ”Buffy” gang. While Buffy herself may spend her evenings ”watching a reality show about a millionaire,” many of us still prefer to tune in for her own show’s crafted love stories — which are funnier, more poignant, and (these days) less predictable than their supposedly unscripted, bastard cousins.

Well, okay, maybe it isn’t difficult to guess that Xander’s super-sweet date (played by guest star Ashanti) would turn out to be a creature of evil. After all, just about every female that ever showed interest in him has been some kind of monster. Even his onetime paramour Cordelia, still one of the good guys on ”Buffy” spin-off ”Angel,” has recently become part demon.

Better prospects may be on the horizon for Xander, who can’t stop himself from ruminating about his would-be anniversary with Anya. Though he swears off women after this latest dating horror (imploring, ”Willow, gay me up. Come on, let’s gay!”), there still seems to be some spark between the adorable lug and his ex-demon ex. She, of course, has complex emotions of her own, flip-flopping between jealousy and worry over Xander.

Attempts to kindle romantic tension between Buffy and Principal Wood are surprisingly chemistry-free and, well, creepy — not just because of his previously ambiguous association with the supernatural. He has a calm seriousness and piercing eyes that stare right through her adorably manic awkwardness in a way that is NOT romantic. The discomfort is humorous when he asks Buffy to fill out paperwork stating that he never made her job contingent on accepting his dinner invitation. But things turn downright icky when she whips out the innuendo at dinner, telling him, ”That might be the best thing I’ve ever had in my mouth.” Yep, she’s definitely been watching too much ”Real World.”

Luckily, this date is just a setup to help Buffy realize that she still has feelings for Spike. Too bad Principal Wood figures it out at the same time. He isn’t too thrilled to be passed over for a vamp, but he seems willing to let it go. That is, until he learns that the rejection is just the insult added to the injury of Spike’s decades-old murder of his mother. This is bound to cause trouble, though it’s likely that our heroes will survive it.

Meanwhile, Willow and Kennedy are outed, so to speak, in a couple of offhand comments made by Buffy and Anya. Just like that, Willow’s new relationship gently enters into the everyday reality of the characters’ lives. It’s a pleasant surprise that the script downplays a major revelation like this, instead of a more predictable story line that would make it a big deal.

Lastly, there’s the potential for one of the most subtly disturbing couples ever seen on this show. Is that a hint of flirtation between slayer sister Dawn and reformed villain Andrew while she carefully removes tape from his bare chest and compliments him on standing up to The First? This is the kind of pairing that, like a car wreck (or a dating-themed reality show) is as difficult to turn away from as it is to watch. Then again, just because the gang is taking a well-deserved turn toward romance, despite the stern disapproval of Giles, it doesn’t mean EVERYONE has to pair up.

What do you think of the recent romances?

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