beginning | blinding torment | boils | lies | making me bitter | evil compounds evil | blah blah bity blah
Really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really,
face of an oddly full man.
the power of duct tape.
season three > The Zeppo
The Zeppo: noun; The useless
one of the bunch. The Marx brother no one remembers or even knew
existed until this episode. Xander Harris.
Think of this as an episode knowingly designed to get you drunk off your ass within the first five minutes and to cause an alcohol-induced coma by the last five if you were playing a drinking game. This is really, really important to remember--not only because you should only drink light beer for this episode but also because if you forget, even for a millisecond, you find yourself reviling it and despising it and wondering what the fuck they were thinking and, really, it’s just best to remember that it’s a send up of everything they put us through--the Angel and Buffy spats of doom, Giles’ love affair with his much abused glasses, Faith’s sluttiness, Xander’s second fiddle status—it’s all there, magnified for your torture and/or pleasure. This should, of course, bring up the fact that they knew all along what they were doing, the sadistic bastards, but since it’s a Xanderiffic episode, we’re letting it slide. We saw so few of those, it’s best to cherish them. And as one wise theme song once said You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life. It doesn’t say You take the good, fuck the bad, ignore the tripe and there you have…, now does it? So we accept it, much like the girls on that show accepted Tootie’s skates and George Clooney’s mullet. And we move on.
For a new and exciting change of pace in Sunnydale, evil’s a brewin’ and it’s a brewin’ big. Evil is planning to open the Hellmouth. Again. This time our masterminds are a perky little demon sorority known as the sisterhood of Jhe. Just for, you know, fun, let’s go over what will happen this episode if the Hellmouth is opened: per Giles, the thingy from Prophecy Girl will be the first thing out, and then more demons will follow and the world will be overrun with really bad stuff. What they fail to see through their ensuing histrionics is that the Ubies have yet to build the stairs, making it extremely difficult for demons to actually get out of the ‘Mouth once opened. Instead the little pessimists focus on the whole “earth being overrun with demons” bit. Buffy has bad hair (crimped—always a portent of doom), Giles becomes a drama queen over jelly donuts and Xander gets laid by one very horny, wound up slayer. In other words, wackiness ensues.
But back to the big, evil, sisterhood of Jhe. They’re big evil. We’re talking really, really big evil. Like, huge. The biggest. So big that Giles feels there’s something different about this time. So huge that Willy the bartender trembles in fear and encourages Buffy to go snuggle with Angel rather than find a way to stop it. So terrifying that Buffy may not be able to handle them. Because as previously stated, there’s something different about this time. It scares her. Which is funny, because the sisterhood demons? Not so scary. They more resemble Trekkie convention rejects than big bad, I’m-gonna-eat-your-liver-with-some-beans-and-chianti-and-then-I’m-gonna-build-me-some-stairs-in-the-Hellmouth evil, but whatever. She’s scared because these mamba jambas are way serious. They are, in fact, very, very dedicated to their roles of being really evil. Unlike all those other times when really bad, really evil things tried to do bad stuff in the Dale. They just weren’t as committed, you know? Not like these girls.
So Buffy’s freaking out and needs her Willow. She doesn’t need her Xander because he’s good for nothing. He is puny and mortal and may get hurt. I’d like to point out that Giles gets knocked unconscious WAY more than Xander does and I don’t see anybody sending him to his room, and he’s way older so they should be a bit more careful with him but hey, it’s only TV.
The theme, in case you hadn’t picked up on it yet, is Xander’s view of everybody’s perception of his uselessness to the group because he is just Xander. The whole world steps on Xander’s face while he’s wallowing in his inferior me-ness this episode. Cordy rubs in the fact that he’s naught but a normal boy surrounded by superheroes—Buffy the super strong Slayer, Willow the quirky witch, Oz the werewolf and Giles the—actually, I’m not sure what Giles’ power is…the power to wear tweed and make it look good? Perhaps. Cordy’s point not being about tweed but rather about Xander not being an integral part of the group. I would like to argue that the get-the-snacks guy is a way integral part of any group, but I am distracted by both Cordy and Xander pronouncing “integral” as In-TEHG-rahl, rather than my preferred IN-tuh-grul. And then I realize that Xander throws a football like me. This is not a compliment. See? I’m kicking him when he’s down too! It’s SO easy! But the snack thing? Way important.
Xander, desperate to be loved in this cold, harsh world, sells his soul to his uncle for a car so he can be car guy, rather than go-get-the-jelly-donuts guy. Willow and Buffy fail to see the beauty in this and instead ask if it’s a penis metaphor. Granted,if there was ever a show where this was a valid query, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is it, but still. Toss the man some dignity here people. He already has to tool around this episode in a butterfly collar thanks to Cynthia, show some mercy.
He offers to help anyway, even though they were evil girls with, respectively, bad hair and pajama bottoms, and he goes to get the donuts. Because he’s there for them. he’s really, really there for them. And one cannot stop an apocalypse without a jelly doughnut in ones tummy. It’s simply not done. While carefully selecting just the right sugar-coated mix, almost as delicate a process as selecting the right blend for a mixed CD, Cordy, obviously stalking Xander because why the hell would she be there, enters the donut shop and snarks again because she is bitter and because Charisma needed more lines. Just as she’s slamming him for thinking that a car would make him cool, Xander gets picked up by a hot chick. Actually, he sort of picks her up by saying that his car handles like a dream about warm sticky things, but I’m trying to forget that line. They go for a ride. One could possibly make the assumption here that she’s evil, basing it on the fact that she is attracted to Xander, and one might not be entirely wrong.
Because she is evil. Not in the “I’m turning you all into toads” evil or “I’m going to sacrifice you to the Ubies” evil, but more in the way that she finds cars interesting. She’s one of those girls. Xander is mucho of the bored by the time we catch up with them at the Bronze. Angel walks in and Xander’s face lights up because his secret boyfriend has arrived! Sadly, Angel’s not there looking for a little slashy nookie, he’s just there to breathe heavy while drama-ing that he’s seen portents and that he needs Buffy. Xander wants to go help but Angel wants him to stay safe. If you didn’t know it was a parody up until this point, there is no way you couldn’t know now. Because you know you’re in wacky land when Angel tells Xander to stay out of harm’s way, rather than suggesting that he go walk in front of a large bus moving at high speed.
Xander, crushed that Angel just used him to find Buffy and didn’t even hollowly promise that he’d call him or give him a kiss goodnight, goes to leave with his new boring chick when he runs his car into the car that the resident bully Jack was trying to steal. Xander actually ran into Jack earlier that day, also literally, and spilled his soda, so Jack’s already really mad at Xand. Jack introduces Xander to his lady fair, a fairly evil looking knife named Katy. Katy is also mad at Xander.
After some flirting, Xander ends up with Jack and the boring chick at a graveyard. It seems Xander has volunteered to be the wheelman for a bunch of dead dudes. This, people, is why you shouldn’t ignore the useless friend in your group. Do you see what you reduce them to? Driving around dead people. So be nice, and send them out for donuts often. It makes them feel useful.
The boring girl gets scared when a Walker, Texas Ranger fan is raised from a grave and takes off running. Guess she wasn’t Scooby Gang material after all—if you can’t hang for some zombie raisings, you can’t hang with the cool kids. Color me sad. Xander hangs out while Jack and Texas Ranger guy resurrect the rest of the gang, Xander following along because hey—why the hell not? Even when he runs into Giles in a graveyard, Giles is all ‘yeah, this time is really bad and scary and these damn specters won’t talk to me and it’s going to be a really bad scene, man, but you just stay away for now. Because it’s bad.” See! Even Giles drives Xander to delinquency! Did he learn NOTHING from his poorly spent youth?
Xander’s new posse steals stuff to bake a cake where bake a cake means more to build a bomb than to go get some Betty Crocker mix. This distresses Xander, because he’s a good, stand up guy. He decides to ditch his new bestest buds, partly because they think he feels unloved since he’s not dead like all of them and decide to make him dead like them, and takes off, much to his new bestest buds chagrin.
Possibly following her pheremones, Xander somehow ends up at the exact spot Faith is fighting a sister o’Jhe. It is not going well, so Xander hits the sister with his car. Faith, annoyed at the lack of carnage, decides to make it all better by teaching Xander how to steer around curves. After a tender 5 seconds of post-coital cuddling, Xander is unceremoniously kicked to the porch with a “that was great. Gotta shower.”
I love Faith.
Xander, upset that he didn’t get to cuddle but not wanting to show Faith how upset he is, digs through the cake mixings bag, to hide his tears. Seems they weren’t making a double chocolate fudge extravaganza, but more of a duct tape and explode-y things special. He decides to go to Buffy, because she is woman, hear her roar, and she always knows what to do, but unfortunately runs into an Angel/Buffy “I love you, let me do this. No, you can’t. This is my fight, do it my way or don’t. You may be ready to go, but I’m not ready to lose you” sobathon. Xander asks if he can help and I pause the DVD for just a moment to relish the look on Angel’s face. It’s hilarious. If I remember, I’ll put a cap in here. I love it. It’s like he was trying to look sad but couldn’t quite figure out how to get his mouth to do what he wanted it to so he settled for screwing up his eyes and just ended up looking like he just got a wicked cramp. It’s fabulous.
Xander decides to talk to Giles, because he’s way stabler than Buffy. But he runs into the dead dudes first and finds out the bomb’s at the school. He races to the school to defuse it and gets chased about by the dead dudes and it’s pretty funny stuff. Xander running by a window here, Xander being chased by sisters there, Xander chasing after someone with an axe over yonder…it’s like an extended Buffy/Spike/Principal Wood/rocket launcher scene, but with a point.
While Xander does his running thing, the group, all but Xander and Oz because Oz is all wolfy and therefore locked in the basement, battle the big thing from Prophecy Girl. It’s bigger, it’s cheesier and it’s way dramatic, yo. Everyone’s all “woah”. So everything that happens with Xander is interspersed with scenes of these other people dramatically hacking away at tentacles and things like that, clueless to the Xand-man running amok.
Xander manages to take out all opponents but Jack—Texas Ranger gets a soda machine to the head, skinny dude gets eaten by a Jhe and the other skinny dude got his head knocked off when Xander drove too close to a mailbox. Don’t ask.
So he’s down in the basement, where the bomb is, and Jack’s there and there’s a showdown. Basically, it’s a pissing match to see who wants it more and who’s the bigger scaredy cat. Xander reminds Jack that it’s dead dead, not walking around with his friends, catching up on 8 months of Texas Ranger dead, which is a bit less serious than dead dead, as anyone who’s seen the Princess Bride can tell you. Jack eventually decides he’s not ready for that and Xander wins. Woo!
Jack gets eaten by the Oz-wolf, the Scoobs sans Xander sit around a picnic table being all drama-y the morning after, and telling Xander he was really lucky he wasn’t there because it was sooooooooo dangerous. Way more dangerous than when he stood up to Angel in the hospital, totally more dangerous than the time he got his eye poked out by a psycho and wicked more dangerous than having sex with Faith. Xander, to his credit, doesn’t do a “ha, I saved your asses” dance and instead quietly smiles and says yep, lucky that, anyone need a snack? Because he’s cool like that. He’s not like that some people with their “I killed Angel” blah blah blather. He’s way cooler.
Or at least he was, until he became Andrew’s bitch. But we’re not dwelling. Much.
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