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The Zeppo

Discussion in 'Sunnydale Cemetery' started by sosa lola, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. sosa lola

    sosa lola Scooby

    Nov 26, 2007
    Likes Received:
    S3E13: The Zeppo

    Let's start the review with a Joss quote about his newest TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D:

    “This is basically a TV series of ‘The Zeppo’ [episode of Buffy], which was a very deliberate deconstruction of a Buffy episode in order to star the person who mattered the least,” Whedon says. “The people who are ignored are the people I’ve been writing as my heroes from day one. There’s a world of superheroes and superstars, they’re celebrities, and that’s a complicated world — particularly complicated for people who don’t have the superpowers, the disenfranchised. Now obviously there’s going to be hijinks and hilarity and sex and gadgets and all the things that made people buy the comics. But that’s what the show really is about to me, and that’s what Clark Gregg embodies: the Everyman.”

    The Zeppo is a brilliant episode on so many levels. The episode is the definition of meta. It makes fun of the usual dramatic incidences in BtVS that the audience has already embraced by intensifying them and turning them into farce ( The hellmouth opening again, Buffy's "Faith, point to the heart!", Buffy/Angel angst and so on) by changing the show's perspective and narrative from Buffy to the person who hasn't been touched by the dark – the Everyman. How does the Everyman react to abnormal things? What are his/her struggles? In what way does the Everyman contribute in saving the world?

    People remember and read about leaders, kings, queens, superstars, but rarely do they read about "themselves." The Zeppo is about the forgotten ones: the bitter soldiers, who come back from war unrewarded, the unappreciated housewives, the unappreciated working class…. etc. It pulls the curtain back to shed light on the neglected and let us realize that without the soldiers, the general couldn't have won. Without the housewife, the house would have crumbled down on the husband and the kids.

    And without Xander Harris, the school would have exploded and the Scoobies would have ended up killed.

    There's no doubt that an apocalypse is a much bigger threat than a few zombies wanting to bomb the school, yet we get a switch in which the character-development B plot is the center and the action-packed A plot gets pushed to the background. Xander gets his moment to shine the same way Shakespeare's Flastaff did in Henry IV Part 2.

    This is not the first time where the viewpoint changes from Buffy to someone else. I'd like to think that Passions was written from Angel's perspective. This time, however, the viewpoint is so askew considering that it's Xander's perception of everything.

    Xander Harris:


    There's no doubt that Xander's position in the group has dropped way down from his Night Hawk days. His friends are growing more powerful, Buffy is much stronger now, Faith is also another strong Slayer, even Willow, who used to be in the same league as Xander, is now practicing magic. Everyone is moving forward and getting better physically, but Xander hasn't changed one bit.

    Emotionally though, Xander is more insecure about his place in the group. He and Buffy aren't as close after the whole Angel drama (it's telling that Buffy asks Willow for help and tells her that she needs her right before Xander shows up with his car, but when Xander offers to help himself, she sends him away). Xander and Willow are also not as close after the Oz drama, he and Giles were never close, Cordelia hates him, and he doesn't really know Faith that well. But then there's Oz, the only person Xander was comfortable enough to talk to about his insecurities. The only person Xander saw as an equal – and that's backed up by his speech to Dawn in S7.

    It's worth noting that Giles does include Willow with Xander when he said, "I should never have allowed Willow and [Xander]" to tag along in this fight against the new and "improved" creatures. Giles also instructs Willow to stay back for her safety so he can finish the spell by himself later in the episode. So, it's not just about seeing Xander as the only feeble and fragile loser. He and Willow are both still considered feeble and fragile; however, Willow has the good sense of knowing her limits and staying out harm's way when necessary. Xander, on the other hand, "leaps at the fray" with no regards to his safety or abilities. And that what scares his friends, they don't mind having him around to help, they're just scared he's gonna do something foolish and get himself killed. That's why I don't see their giving Xander the shaft in this episode as OOC.

    The football thing in the beginning of the episode is another example of Xander "leaping" at anything out of his league. The jocks obviously aren't interested in playing with him, but when they do give him a chance he screws things up. Seems to be a pattern in Xander's life; Cordelia trusted him and he broke her heart, Anya trusted him and he broke her heart.

    More Xander put downs by Jack and Cordelia come afterwards. Then when Xander comes over with the car, all confident and proud, Buffy sends him for donuts. Apparently, he's been sent to get donuts before judging by Cordelia's correct guess about evil happening now that Xander is at the donut shop.

    "Can I help?

    Xander offers his services to each member of the Scoobies and gets rejected.

    "Xander's out of this. He nearly got himself killed last time we fought. The whole thing will be easier if we know he's safe." Buffy.

    "It's best you stay out of harm's way." Angel.

    "Oh, no. Thank you. Uh, probably best if you, you stay out of trouble." Giles.

    "I can't stay. Buffy needs this. I love you, Xander." Willow.

    While good intentioned, none of them knew that by excluding Xander, they're hitting him where it really hurts – his place in the group. The Scoobies are the only best thing he has in his life. They're his real family and by rejecting him, he's got no one.

    And to make matters worse, Willow tells him in the end of the episode, "Xander, you're lucky you weren't at school last night. It was crazed." That must have stung!!! Not including Xander is far worse than anything in the world, even death. Willow should have known better, especially since she told Buffy earlier, "I'd be offended if you haven't already counted me in!"

    Sex and Romance:

    The Zeppo shows clearly where Xander stands on the issue. Though he talks about sex a lot and have pretended to be sexually experienced before, he clearly wants more than sex from a girl. He wants connection. Car Girl is hot, but she's so boring! He'd rather spend time with Angel over a hot girl because there was no spark. And not only was losing his virginity to Faith unexpected, but it was also rushed! "Like a blur," Xander in Consequences. There was no cuddling, no pillow talks; he seemed too dazed and confused when she kicked him out. Yet, despite it being so obvious she was using him as a boytoy, he believed they actually had a connection.

    He doesn't consider sex to be a mere physical thing, it's greater than that. He'd like to get to know someone before jumping into sex, something that usually women are into, but Xander isn't your typical kind of man as Lorna Jowett, senior lecturer at University College Northampton, describes Xander as a "new man" because he can't be a real man. He's the man whose hero is a female leader, who willingly elected a female to be his leader, and who would like to get to know a girl before sleeping with her. That's why he and Cordelia never had sex, he was either waiting for the right moment or saving himself for someone else.

    "It's just we hardly know each other." "But sexual interc—what you're talking about, well—and I'm actually turning into a woman as I say this, but it's about expressing something." "Still more romantic than Faith." Xander in Harsh Light of Day.

    "Anya, there's a lot more to you and me than the sex. Well, there should be! I mean, a relationship is something that you work at. Work through. Together." Xander in Where the Wild Things Are.

    The Hammer is His Mouth:

    "I've done some quality violence for those people. Do they even think about that?"

    No, actually. What Xander excels in isn't violence. He's very good with his words – he can hurt any person he wants so easily by using his words, he can lift people up with his words, heck he can save the world with his words. And that's what he does to save the school.

    Xander was never more confident and cool than when he talked Jack into stopping the bomb. The way he reasoned with him, giving him the odds about trying to run away, showing him the difference between being a walking corpse and pieces of bits, he was remarkably calm and all together, hiding how much he wanted to pee his pants in the guise of cool. That right there is the "new man" Lorna was talking about, the kind of man who saved the world twice by talking the enemy down, no violence was involved, just the power of convincing. The world would be such a peaceful place if men learned to use their mouths instead of their fists.

    Producer Fran Rubel Kuzie once said, "You can educate your daughters to be Slayers, but you have to educate your sons to be Xanders."

    Little bits about the episode:

    *Willow's "callous and strange" comment is adorable.

    * Cordelia's role in this episode is literally just to throw digs at Xander. Seeing as it's Xander's point of view, that's probably understandable.

    *Xander orders one jelly at first, but changes his mind to four jellies. He knows that Giles loves them. Everything about Xander's adoration of Giles makes my heart ache. [​IMG]

    *Speaking of Giles, the only thing I wish I had seen in the apocalypse plot was Giles' brave moment, the bravest thing Buffy's ever seen! I would have loved to see Giles the hero.

    *The ending never fails to leave a smile on my lips. Aw Xander! It's also touching to know that Nicholas Brendon cried reading the script.
    thrasherpix likes this.