This was the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead of the Buffyverse. Stoppard focused on the two minor characters while including the full scenes from Hamlet whenever they were on stage. So we had glimpses of the big battle against evil, enough to give us a vague idea of what happened, but never enough to really know what was going on. This was disappointing to those (such as celticdragonfly) who'd come to see Hamlet and didn't want their time wasted.
Me, I liked it. I like Xander (much more than I liked R&G) and getting to see him do some growing up was good. I probably would've been happy just seeing him run around by himself, but face it, Xander's smart enough to ask for help when he's got problems, at least sometimes. So the rest of the gang had to be busy with something (and while you're at it, might as well make it something too over the top to fit in any regular episode). So he had to rise to the occasion, he did, and now he knows he can. Which is more important than anyone else knowing it.