July 9, 2022

Buffy 3.13, The Zeppo: Xander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Posted in TV tagged , , , , at 1:06 pm by Jenn

Everyone say hi to Katie

Summary: The Scoobies have found some demon lair, and with an assist from a spell from Willow, the two Slayers and Giles take out three demons. Giles apologizes for walking in less prepared than he would have liked. The Scoobies realize that Xander is MIA, having been buried by some debris during the fight. The Slayers worry that he’ll get himself hurt or killed one of these days. Maybe he shouldn’t be jumping into fights with them. Xander argues that he played a pivotal role by serving as a distraction and letting the lead demon beat him up.

Buffy asks what they should do with the bodies of the three demons they’ve killed – burn them? Willow announces that she brought marshmallows: “Occasionally I’m callous and strange.” Giles says to leave them and find out what they are instead, as well as whether more of them will be coming. He advises Xander to stay behind everyone next time they head into battle. “But gee, Mr. White, if Clark and Lois get all the good stories, I’ll never be a good reporter,” Xander says sarcastically. Giles doesn’t get his Superman/Jimmy Olsen reference.

At school the next day, Xander tries to get one of the football players tossing a ball around on the quad to include him in their game. When one finally does, he doesn’t catch the ball. Instead, it hits a guy named Jack, and he’s not very happy about it. Cordelia watches from nearby as Jack threatens to hurt Xander for the sin of not catching a ball that knocked his lunch to the ground. He warns that when he gets his friends together, they’ll beat Xander up.

Cordelia adds insult to injury by mocking Xander: “Of all the humiliations you’ve had that I’ve witnessed, that was the latest.” He says he could have taken Jack, but Cordelia knows that’s not true – Jack is a psycho (which is still better than being a wuss like Xander). Xander wonders why he’s afraid of a bully like Jack after coming face to face with multiple demons and vampires. Cordelia says that unlike those monsters, Jack noticed Xander.

She notes that it must be hard to be the “little nothing” in a group of supernaturals. He must feel like Jimmy Olsen. Xander insists that he’s an integral part of the Scoobies with a lot to offer. Cordelia disagrees – he’s useless. He’s the Zeppo. Even Jack is cooler than Xander is. She turns to leave, pleased with how much fun she had ripping her ex-boyfriend to shreds.

At lunch, Xander asks Oz about the “essence of cool.” Who doesn’t have it, who decides who doesn’t have it, and how do you get it? Oz is considered cool, but why? Because he doesn’t talk much? “Could be,” Oz replies. Xander decides it’s because Oz is in a band. Maybe Xander should join one. He asks Oz if it’s hard to play the guitar. “Not the way I play it,” Oz says. Xander realizes that’s a bust since he played the flugelhorn in middle school and wasn’t cool then, either.

He needs something that no one else has. What could that be? “An exciting new obsession, which I think makes you very special,” Oz replies. Xander catches on that Oz is mocking him but says he can handle it because he knows he’s right. He just needs to find his thing. Oz says he’s overthinking this. Xander has identity issues, but it’s not…

“The end of the world,” Giles tells Buffy in the library. The demons they killed were from an apocalyptic cult called the Sisterhood of Jhe. More will be coming to Sunnydale to try to end the world. On top of that, there’s a full moon coming, so Oz will be spending the next three nights in the book cage with Scoobies babysitting him. Buffy asks Giles if he knows why the Jhe are there. He says they want to open the Hellmouth in the library.

The next day, Buffy tells Willow that if the Hellmouth opens, they’ll have to face demons like the one that almost got out the night she died. Willow’s had tons of nightmares about that demon, when she’s not having them about public nudity or academic failures. Actually, once she dreamed that the demon attacked her while she was naked and late for a test. Giles is working on figuring out when the Jhe plan to open the Hellmouth. Willow agrees to help with research, which makes Buffy feel better.

Xander pulls up in front of them in a vintage convertible. He’s decided it’s his thing that makes him cool and unique. (It’s his uncle’s; Roary can’t drive it because of multiple DUIs.) He’s not satisfied by the low level of enthusiasm the girls have, since they’re distracted by the impending end of the world. Xander offers to do whatever they need to help.

For starters, that help is in the form of a donut run. Cordelia comes across him and taunts that something big must be coming if the Scoobies have entrusted him with such a “daredevil mission.” She calls him expendable. His car isn’t going to make him cool; no one cares about it. Just then, a girl named Lysette comes up to Xander to talk about the car. He invites her to go for a drive with him, rubbing it in to Cordelia that he’s getting attention from a pretty girl.

Xander and Lysette end up at the Bronze, where he quickly learns that she only cares about cars and the guys she’s dated. He’s thrilled when Angel arrives and invites him to join them. Angel’s looking for Buffy, though, since he’s heard about an impending apocalypse. Xander assures him that the Scoobies are on top of it. Angel doesn’t think they get how major this is. When Xander offers to help, Angel tells him to stay out of it so he’s safe.

Lysette wants to go for another drive, so she and Xander leave. He’s so busy complaining about being excluded from the Scoobies that he accidentally rear-ends the car in front of him. He tries to convince himself that it’s nothing too bad, and definitely not the end of the world. Maybe not, but it could be the end of his world, since the driver who exits the car is Jack.

In the library, Buffy and Willow try to do research while Oz growls softly in the book cage. Willow wonders if he’s cranky because he senses something coming, like dogs can with earthquakes. Buffy reads that the Jhe like to celebrate their victories by eating their opponents. Giles complains that the Watchers’ Council won’t take his calls, now that they’ve booted him.

Buffy’s getting restless and says she’ll go out on patrol if they don’t learn anything soon. She might talk to Willy the Snitch, too. Giles is on his way to confer with some spirit guides who exist out of time and can see the future. This is really, really important – the fate of the world is at stake here. But the situation isn’t so important that Giles can’t take a moment to complain that there are no jelly donuts left. He wants one if Xander makes another donut run, but Buffy says they’re leaving him out of this. The battle will be easier if they know he’s safe.

Cut to Xander not really being safe, thanks to Jack’s temper. Also, his knife. Lysette thinks it’s cool. Sorry, she’s cool – her name is Katie. Jack mocks Xander for not standing up to him while Lysette is watching. The difference between the guys is fear: Jack has less than Xander. He hands Katie to Xander and eggs him on to attack him.

Lysette announces that she’s bored and wants to go on another drive. Not now, Lysette! Jack grabs Xander and throws him on the hood of his car. Just then a cop comes by. He’s familiar with Jack and guesses that he attacked Xander. Xander pretends they were just messing around. This makes Jack like Xander, so he invites Xander and Lysette to come have some fun with him. He’s going to gather his friends and go for a drive. But they should take Xander’s car, since the other car isn’t actually Jack’s.

It turns out that gathering Jack’s friends isn’t as simple as just going to their houses. No, they have to go to the cemetery so Jack can perform a ritual to raise them from the dead. Just seeing the first, Bob, sends Lysette screaming off into the night. Xander tries to duck out, too, but Jack wants him as their wheel man. Xander will be spending the night as a chauffeur for zombies.

Bob learns that he’s been dead for eight months. Jack had to wait for the stars to align to resurrect him. He confirms that he’s taped all the episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger that Bob missed. Aw, what a good friend. They head to another cemetery and raise another zombie, who’s in the mood for beer. I wonder if his zombie face matches the one on his fake ID.

Giles is in a third cemetery, talking to the spirit guides. They won’t tell him anything about the future, since that will cause chaos. Xander arrives with his new friends and tries to get Giles to let him help with what the Scoobies are doing. Giles declines, saying there’s something different about this apocalyptic threat. It’s like he can smell death in the air. “I think it’s Bob,” Xander tells him. Giles warns that they all might have to fight. He thinks they can prepare well enough over the next few weeks.

No such luck – Willy tells Buffy that it’s going down tonight. He’s been beaten up by some demons who were looking for Angel, knowing Angel could lead them to Buffy. They want her out of the way so they can open the Hellmouth. Buffy promises to stop the demons, but Willy says they’ll be the least of her troubles if the Hellmouth opens. He thinks she and Angel should go somewhere quiet together and decide what to do on their last night on Earth.

Bob has already figured that out for himself: He just wants beer. He, Jack, and their zombie buddies, Parker and Dickie, are having a great time. Bob decides that they should go beat up the liquor-store owner who killed him. Xander offers to drop the guys off somewhere, but Jack isn’t ready to let him go. He chooses Dickie’s idea for what to do tonight, baking a cake. That’s code for something that involves breaking into a hardware store. Xander panics a little as he realizes that he’s now an accessory to a crime.

He spots Willow nearby, leaving a magic shop with supplies for a protection spell. She tells Xander that “it’s” happening tonight, though she doesn’t tell him what that means. She hugs him and tells him she loves him. Xander decides to just leave his new buddies and go help the Scoobies, but Jack isn’t going to let him. He tells his friends that Xander doesn’t feel like part of their gang. The others decide to initiate him. Xander’s up for that until he learns that it means he has to die.

He tries to back out, but Bob accuses him of thinking he’s too good to be dead. Xander points out that Jack isn’t dead. But he is – he was shot in a drive-by three weeks ago. His grandfather resurrected him. The gang wants to make Xander an official member, and they urge him to join them in their supernatural shenanigans. Xander says they’ve forgotten about one thing. Then he takes off running. He makes it to his car and speeds off, stranding the zombies. Plus, they left all their “baking” ingredients in the car, so they have to go back to the hardware store for more.

Xander decides to call it a night and go home, but on the way, he comes across Faith fighting one of the Jhe. He hits the demon with his car and gives Faith a getaway ride. As far as cool goes, I’d say that ranks pretty high. They end up at Faith’s motel room, where she asks him to help her fix her dislocated shoulder. As we know, slaying makes Faith hungry and horny, so she asks Xander if he’s up for…well, let’s just say it’s not satisfying her hunger. Well, not that kind of hunger.

He mentions that he’s a virgin, so she tells him to relax and take his pants off. “Those two concepts are antithetical,” he replies. They make out, their clothes coming off, and she promises to guide him through his first time. “Did I mention I’m having a very strange night?” he asks. And now he’ll remember it forever, because it’s the night he had sex for the first time. Faith will probably find it less memorable later, since she just kicks him out almost immediately afterward, indicating that this isn’t as special for her as it is for him.

In the library, Oz is going wild in the book cage. Giles thinks it means the Hellmouth is about to open. He opens the cage so Willow can shoot Oz with a tranquilizer dart. She hopes he isn’t mad at her in the morning. Xander leaves Faith’s and takes a look at the gang’s “baking” ingredients for the first time. They wouldn’t make a very good cake, but they’d make an excellent bomb. He goes looking for the gang, trying to focus on stopping the zombies instead of the fact that he had sex. He decides to go find Buffy, since she’ll know what to do.

Wrong – Buffy is currently telling Angel that she doesn’t know what to do. He urges her to let him decide for her. He can buy her enough time for Willow’s spell to bind…whatever. This is worse than anything they’ve ever faced, and his solution is the only way. Buffy tells him she doesn’t want to watch him die again. They declare their love for each other, and Angel says not even death could change how he feels. Buffy says he may be ready to go but she’s not ready to lose him. This is her fight and they’re doing this her way.

Xander interrupts and starts to tell them about his problem, but he realizes it’s a bad time. He offers to help them but they don’t take him up on that. Xander decides that he can handle this on his own – he just has to figure out what the gang might want to blow up. Back at the library, Willow has moved Oz somewhere else so she and Giles can do their binding spell and deal with whatever might come up from beneath them. It might not just be demons, though – the gang is hooking up their bomb in the school’s boiler room, just under the library.

Xander’s arriving outside as the gang is leaving, and they try to jump back in the car. Dickie grabs onto a door and Xander drags him for a few blocks while asking him about the bomb. Dickie is only able to tell him where it is before he gets slammed into a mailbox and his head is knocked off. Xander wishes he’d asked his questions faster. He runs to the school with the gang chasing him.

The other Scoobies are in the library, facing off with the Hellmouth demon, which has grown since they last saw it. The zombies chase Xander down the hall, one of them stopping to peek into the library. They split up and Bob finds Xander first. He goes after Xander with a fire axe, but Xander gets it from him and tips a soda machine over onto him. Nice. He comes across Parker, who runs before Xander can finish his cool-guy-action-hero quip.

As the Scoobies battle the Hellmouth demon, Xander chases Parker with the axe. Both of them turn around and run in the other direction when they come across some of the Jhe. Parker ends up getting eaten. Xander heads to the boiler room alone with less than two minutes left on the bomb’s countdown clock. Jack finds him there and attacks him, not wanting Xander to disarm the bomb (not that Xander knows how to).

The guys fight, and eventually Jack realizes that if he doesn’t run right now, he’s not going to be out by the time the bomb detonates. Xander is willing to stay and die if it means stopping Jack. Once again, it comes down to who has less fear. Jack says he’s not afraid to die – he’s already dead, after all – but Xander notes that he’s not going to be able to come back this time. He doesn’t think Jack is ready for real death. Jack asks if Xander is. “I like the quiet,” Xander replies with a little smile.

Upstairs, the Scoobies are in an all-out battle with the Jhe and the Hellmouth demon. In the boiler room, there’s just the ticking of the countdown clock. With only two seconds left, Jack disarms the bomb. “Good boy,” is all Xander can get out. He tells Jack not to come back to Sunnydale High, then leaves. Jack says to himself that he’s not going anywhere, but as he’s leaving through a different door, he’s taken out by a surprise foe: werewolf Oz.

The next day, the Scoobies, who have some minor injuries, are subdued by the battle. They saw some horrible things, but they won. Buffy’s proud of Giles for doing something really brave. Willow says no one will ever know how close the world came to ending and what they did to stop it. Xander joins them and pretends he had a boring, quiet night without them. He heads off to get a snack (Oz declines to join him since he’s “oddly full today”) and runs into Cordelia. She picks up where she left off mocking him about being a loser. This time he just smiles and walks away without responding.

Thoughts: Bob is played by Michael Cudlitz.

I like the structure of this episode, with the end-of-the-world stuff happening in the background. The Scoobies do a better job than you’d expect keeping things under wraps.

In some nice continuity, Lysette is the friend Cordelia mentions in “Killed by Death” who got her nose done at the hospital where the episode takes place.

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