Okay, I'm half over the euphoria, and have enough mental stability back to actually talk about plot. And I have to say this:
Xander? *Xander* cast the spell? Xander, who truly seemed to learn from his mistakes in "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," unlike Amy? Xander, who sounded worried about the people combusting, but didn't sound as if "Oh my god, that's my fault?" Xander, who got the "consequences" speech from Spike, and was the first of them (even before Tara) to give it some credence, and worry about Willow's magic?
I could see it, if it were Dawn. She's innocent, to an extent. She's very young, and has mostly seen the good effects of magic. It would be a lesson to her, to have people have died from something silly she did. But Xander should bloody well know better; he's *learned* that lesson, with himself and Cordy almost getting killed in BB&B. Yes, it's sweet and all that he just wanted everybody to be happy, dancing, singing, etc. -- but it makes him look *very* stupid. I feel like he's been used as the butt-monkey again, when I think the character is at a point when he would have been smarter than that.
Bad Joss. <--- Amy says something that invites flames.
I won't judge yet, though, not really. The fallout from this ep is gonna last a while. Next one is supposed to be full of such, and I hope the writers deal with this. I wanna see Xander take responsibility, in words, without it being blurred past by an entertaining song that's open to interpretation. I don't think he has to be *punished* for it, literally -- but I want them to show him realizing that he was at least partially responsible for those deaths. Not just la la la.
*sings* "La, la, la"
Of course, somebody offered the theory that he might have taken responsibility because he was covering for who he *really* suspected had cast the spell: Willow.
It works on one level -- Willow just wants everybody to be happy, too, and is willing to mess about with their lives to do so. And Xander would do *almost* anything for her. So I can see him taking the fall, and taking her aside later.
But... Willow isn't that stupid either -- she doesn't *want* everybody's secrets out in the open, because then she'd have to tell hers. And she's had the second-biggest one, after Buffy's.
So... do we have a big characterization plothole? Or a sneaky something that we haven't been shown yet?