Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episode Guide

Season 3, Episode 13

The Zeppo

Original Airdate: January 26, 1999

Written by Dan Vebber. Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.

This episode contains yet another apocalypse, narrowly averted. The joke is that this one is treated as a subplot. The titular Zeppo is Xander, and this is his ep-- Buffy gets maybe five minutes screen time.

Xander is feeling pretty useless, because--well, let's face it, he is. Cordelia's insults, and the team's reluctance to include him the plans to save the world since he might get hurt, don't help. He borrows his uncle's 57' Chevy in an effort to harness "cool", and actually picks up a chick. He takes her to the Bronze, where it becomes apparent she just wants him for his fly wheels as she bores him with car talk.

On the way out, he gets in a fenderbender with Jack O'Toole (played by Channon Roe, best known as the dude who watched Dirk Diggler beat off, then beat him up, in Boogie Nights), a bully he pissed off earlier. Jack nearly slices him up--he claims that the difference between them is not the large knife, but the fear and lack of it--before a cop intervenes. Xander, however, does not narc on Jack, who appreciates it, and invites Xander to hang with him. (Really, he just wants him for the car too; the other one wasn't his.)

The girl ditches the boys when they arrive at their destination: the graveyard. Jack resurrects three jock buddies and they head off to bake a cake. They want to initiate Xander with the large knife--turns out Jack's a zombie too, just a real fresh one. Xander manages to escape with the car, and runs over a demon that Faith is fighting. He drives her to a nearby motel, where she complains that she got all worked up with no release and he sputters. She shuts him up by voraciously deflowering him, then boots him out the door with a not-too-convincing "That was great" so she can shower.

Xander figures Buffy'll know what to do about the bomb zombies. He interrupts her and Angel in the midst of their latest "I can't bear to lose you again!" melodrama. This scene is played at least halfway for self-parodic laughs, especially the way the weepy music abruptly halts when Xander walks in, then swells up again after he exits--having decided Buffy has enough of a crisis to deal with and this one's all his.

He deduces the bomb's at the high school boiler room, and confronts Jack there after having outrun/outwitted the other zombies. Turns out Jack isn't yet ready to die a truly messy death, and after Xander stands his ground as the timer counts down (proving who truly has less fear), Jack pulls the plug at 00:02. After Xander walks away, Oz, who in werewolf mode, had previously escaped from the library cage, bursts out of a closet and devours Jack. Intercut with this is the other Scoobies battling a huge multi-headed demon emerging from the Hellmouth in the library, the same way it did in Prophecy Girl. Only in tiny bursts though--again, to underscore how often you've seen this before.

The next day, the team decides not to let Xander in on how they saved the world again. He bears his pride with silence as well. Cordelia insults him again and he simply smiles and walks away. Stunned, she screams after him, "WHAT?" He wins. For once, he's cooler.

My personal favorite exchange from this episode:

Xander: Is it hard to play guitar?

Oz: Not the way I play.

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