Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | December 3, 2011

Podcast #47: The Zeppo

Hey guys,

We are back on our normal schedule now. I am very passionate about “The Zeppo” so apologies in advance for talking all over Cordia and saying “I think” about 300 times 🙂


Here’s the podcast for Season 3, Episode 13 – The Zeppo

"I Like the Quiet"

"I Like the Quiet"

Download: The Zeppo

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 12th December 2011 for episode fourteen of Season Three: “Bad Girls.” That’s the one where Faith busts Buffy out of school so that they can go be wild together.

Comment on this post to get your views on the podcast.

You can get your voice on the podcast by leaving a message on our voicemail 206-338-7832 (It’s a US number, so add 001 if you are elsewhere).

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  1. I want to clarify the point about my line of dead being dead, I’m bothered when people don’t stay die because it cheapens death for me. It doesn’t like a sacrilegious thing I just like it when death is final, however I have seen all of Buffy and lets just call there’s something that happens that is the expectation to my line, let’s call it the BIG THING. While I still kind of wish the BIG THING hasn’t happened for various reasons, I like how they did handle it, because it was traumatic moment and it was a extremely difficult, that’s the one expectation to my rule. I also don’t considered Angel to be killed because he wasn’t dusted so while his return leaves a little to be desired obviously I was more okay with his return because I never saw him as dead he was just sent to a hell dimension.

    The Good Stuff: Knowing where his character ends up it’s hard for me not to be extremely excited seeing Wesley show up for the first time, but regardless he is still a part of what this episode does well. I always appreciated Giles as a character but rewatching there hasn’t been an episode yet where I found storyline or plot with Giles as a central character lacking or “bad”. The streak continues in “Bad Girls” every interaction between Giles and Wesley is extremely entertaining. The way Giles undermines Wesley authority and displays his exasperation without ever being openly hostile and dealing with the situation in a very Giles type of way is just excellent. Watching their interactions makes me really anticipate future scenes with him.

    Now this may seem as a negative but I’m including this in the good because it confirms my theory that the Watcher’s Council is incredibly inefficient organization but Wesley (as he is now) is a terrible appointment for arguably what should be the most important position in the Watcher’s Council. We are given the impression that Wesley is relatively young to other watchers and therefore has very little experience. I know that Wesley discusses the Watcher’s Council new focus on field experience bragging that he himself has killed two vampires but that even further confirms my belief that the Watcher’s Council is really the worst organization ever. Either they have thrown a very experienced and relatively weak Watcher into a Hellmouth with not one but two rebellious slayers. One of whose life was recently gambled like chips in a low stakes poker game by the Watcher’s Council and the other who is more than bit…. out of her goddamn mind! Or Wesley truly is the Watcher with the most field experience and they felt that he was the best person to deal with this highly hazardous and delicate situation.

    Also the Mayor is used well in this episode. He is only in a couple of scenes but his plans come into better focus while still remaining a little mysterious and threatening like any good villain should.

    The Bad Stuff: Buffy starts out this episode our normal, pretty responsible, reasonable Buffster and then halfway through she becomes “seduced” by crazy ass Faith. This would be fine if this was the first time Buffy had going fighting with Faith or the fight that Buffy describes as so exhilarating was so exhilarating to watch but it wasn’t. The fight underground with the morbidly obese demon’s minions (I’m too lazy to Google the correct name/spelling) is any or more difficult or impressive than the majority of the fight scenes from the show, in fact the only thing interesting that happens is when Buffy “drowns”. In fact Buffy acts in a similar way to “When She Was Bad” for the majority of the episode but at least that was a reaction to a drowning was a) real b) understandably traumatic. Maybe Buffy is like a gremlin get her wet and she starts acting all murder-y and reckless?

    The quite literal Big Bad of the episode is also pretty disappointing. Tubs McGee (as I will now call him) is undeniably pretty gross and I understand he probably wasn’t intended to be that threatening but he is not an impressive villain in any way. All Tubs does is sit in his tub and bark out orders to his minions which is alright if the minions were threatening but I already stated the minions are pretty run of the mill so any sequence with Tubs McGee is really disengaging. In fact when Tubs grabs Angel’s head and we are supposed to believe he is going to kill Angel that moment wasn’t tense it was comical.

    Faith is Bat-Sh*t Crazy Cakes:
    And so the torch as been passed from Xander Douche Watch to Faith Crazy Cakes Watch, while most of Faith’s actions in this episode aren’t a revelation so this week’s watch is going to be short. To the show’s credit they have building up to Faith’s issues so when she kills Alan it doesn’t come completely out of blue and isn’t like her reaction refusing to talk about it and saying she doesn’t care is out of character but that doesn’t mean it isn’t crazy. We know Faith has problems with authority and consequences and this isn’t the first time she has ignored Buffy’s help but there is no good reason to not discuss it with Buffy who is most likely Faith’s closest friend currently and most likely ever.
    Best Moment:

    I’m not really going to comment on the best moment just transcribe it:

    Wesley (to Giles): You aren’t really helping.

    Giles: Yes, well I feel just awful about that. (leaves room)

    Giles – BAMF of the year


    Buffy going The Way of Faith in this episode is
    understandable. And I thought it was refreshing
    to see! For the last three seasons she’s been this
    mythic figure amongst her friends. They put her
    on a pedestal, expect her to behave, and put her
    Slayer life first.

    She’s always had to divide Slaying versus being a
    Real Girl. Not only that, but she’s always had to stay
    confined to these tight rules to make sure that it all
    doesn’t go to her head. So far she’s been okay with
    all of that. It’s a pain, but she gets that it’s for her own
    good. In walks Faith, with her “Want. Take. Have”

    She’s a free agent, no one’s confined her to rules and
    she’s survived so far. Faith understands where Buffy is
    at, or at least I think Buffy wants to believe this. I don’t
    think Faith was actually ever on the same page, or even
    in the same book as Buffy. While Buffy at least goes along
    with Wesley and his new silly rules, Faith says “Screw that”
    and walks away with no consequences. It must be enticing
    to Buffy to see that Faith can act that way with no

    Buffy’s behavior up until the arrest is pretty reckless, and
    yet I think it’s actually kind of logical that Buffy would behave
    that way.

    But when she gets caught, she realizes that there are
    consequences, and that even though she’s The Slayer,
    she has to answer to law enforcement, because she is
    still a person. It is at this point that Buffy is more or less
    coming out of her “phase” and it’s a totally believable

    It happens often. Sometimes one thing spirals into other
    things really quickly. Once she realizes this, though, her
    view of Faith changes.

    She realizes that the rules that confine her REALLY are
    for her own good.

    It’s an excellent episode that shows the differences between
    Buffy and Faith. They’re both slayers, but they are polar
    opposites on just about every level. Faith sees her calling as
    a blessing, the best thing that ever happened to her. Buffy
    wishes she could just live a normal life. Faith dresses in
    black leather and Buffy wears colorful little outfits with matching
    flowers in her hair. Faith goes into battle with no plan, Buffy
    plans things out ahead of time to avoid errors.

    It really shows how much of an impressionable young woman
    Buffy is. She’s just trying to find herself, therefore Faith appeals
    to her because she’s something different. Just like Willow is
    coming out of her shell and dating a musician and learning
    magic, Buffy wants to be dangerous for a while. But in doing
    so, she alienates her friends, in this case, Willow. She is left
    behind and has to deal with Buffy’s rejection of her.

    It’s here where Faith seems to be at her most callous, that
    you can’t help but feel for her.

    It’s this episode that marks a turning point in the season.

    PS – Anyone else REALLY enjoy that Faith/Buffy dancing
    scene? =P

  3. I recently began listening to your podcast and I am really enjoying it. After hearing the podcast on The Zeppo, I wanted to let you know , Robin, that you aren’t alone in really appreciating it. I have to say that the first time I sas it, though, I don’t think I got it. I was really hung up the first time around on the minor flaw of them deciding to not include Xander all of sudden to protect him. This bugged me so much that I had a hard time focusing on all the great satire in this piece. I also really like how we see Xander in all of his complexity here. Sure he can be annoying as hell sometimes, but he is the most human of them all. He is everyman in many ways, yet he always finds a way to rise above that. This episode lets him shine.

  4. Let me just preface this whole comment by saying that I’m new to The Buffy Rewatch, I’ve only seen Buffy and Angel once, and this is only the second Rewatch podcast I’ve listened to. However, my timing is good because The Zeppo is one of my favorite episodes. (I’m not sure how spoiler-free comments are supposed to be, so I’ll put my spoiler-esque comments in parentheses so you can edit them out easily.)

    I find it interesting that Cordia didn’t enjoy the episode upon her first viewing. I also watched the series in a rush on DVDs, but I don’t remember thinking that this episode was an interruption of the main season storyline. It does stand out in my memory of the show, just like the other Buffy episodes that break from the show’s standard story and filming structure (Hush, Once More With Feeling, the episode where Buffy’s Mom…you know).

    This episode is one part Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and one part Adventures in Babysitting, if you replace the children with undead football players. Both mix nicely into a coming of age story for Xander. However, I think I particularly enjoy The Zeppo because Xander’s character is the only Scooby that I can identify with. For male fans of Buffy, you have to choose from a stuffy librarian/mentor/father figure, a reserved hipster rocker, a brooding pretty boy, or the goofy guy who tries to cover his insecurities with humor. By picking Xander, I guess I just revealed what my high school experience was like.

    The gang’s decision to sideline Xander does stick out, though. If the writers laid a little bit of ground work in previous episodes, it would have felt more natural. I’m imagining a “previously on” section with clips of Buffy asking Willow if she thought non-super powered Xander could keep up with the Scoobies, and Angel pushing Xander away of some danger and saying the “JV players should stay on bench”. Then they could have sidelined him at the beginning of The Zeppo and resolved the story in the last scene as the gang realize they could have used Xander during the fight.

    I don’t understand why some people don’t like the football players being zombies. Xander wouldn’t have been able to handle them the same way if they were not zombies. Since football players are the stereotypical high school predator for someone like Xander, it is perfect to make them his foil in The Zeppo. However, while making them zombies means they are weak enough for Xander to handle, it also makes them undead and frees Xander to do what he needs to do in order to be the hero. Can you imagine the mailbox scene if the players were alive? Ditto with saving Faith with his car.

    Speaking of Faith, what coming of age story is complete without some Bow-Chicka-Bow-Wow? They fact that both of them stay true to character keeps it credible.

  5. The Zeppo: Actually I always liked the character of Xander and I doin’t think of him as a douche 😉 so an enpisode focused on Xander doesn’t bother me. I also like the idea of putting a less important story as main story line. So, why don’t I like this epidsode?! I’m not sure, when I first watched it, it was ok. but rewatching it several times I was really bored and just annoyed..And I don’t like Jack (ok, he’s the bad guy but still)..maybe he reminds of someone I don’t like, I don’t know..I think this episode just doesn’t catch me emotional

    I made some notes about this episode when I watched it 2 weeks ago..buuut unfortunately I can’t decipher them any longer…so, just some fragments:

    Obviously Wesley was trained for slayers like Kendra, who strictly follows orders but not for slayers like Buffy or Faith. That shows that the Watcher’s council has no idea what’s going on in Sunnydale.

    I like the interactions between Giles and Wesley – always very amusing.

    When Buffy starts to behave like Faith, she immediately pushes away everything that matters to her (the scoobies, esp. willow, school). (Interesting: The change begins after she was drowned (again) in the manhole.)

    I like the last scene between Faith and Buffy..when Faith tells her that she doesn’t care she killed a man..frightening

  6. Hi Robin and Cordia,

    I recently discovered your podcast and have been frantically trying to catch up. Although this is rather late, I would like to submit a few thoughts on the last few episodes.

    1. I apologize in advance, but I do have to say something about “Amends.” One of the most important messages that I learned from this episode is that there is more to the Angel character than what we have been shown. Angel is not simply a brooding, reformed vampire now fighting evil because he thinks of himself as a “White Hat,” or because he is in love with the Slayer or to make amends for his evil past. It’s not quite as simple as that. Angel doesn’t see himself as the noble or tortured hero that Buffy does. Instead, he reveals the depths of his self-loathing by attempting to commit suicide because he genuinely feels that he is what he always was: a weak man who will inevitably once again submit to temptation and lose his soul. I was shocked by his anguished admission to Buffy: “…I want you so badly, I want to take comfort in you, and I know it’ll cost me my soul and a part of me doesn’t care. I’m weak. I’ve never been anything else. It’s not the demon in me that needs killing, Buffy. It’s the man.” Those last two sentences were so powerful to me. I started to wonder about the differences between Angel, Angelus and Angel’s previous life as a human, and just how much control Angel does have over Angelus, or how separate they truly are, which instantly made him a much more intriguing character to me.

    As for the magical snow, I know that nothing could possibly sway Cordia, but I have always loved Joss’ response:

    “The snow was not evil! The snow was good. It was hope. Now another issue; was the snow a cheap Deus Ex Machina? Well, obviously I don’t think so or I would avoid the question. The DEM term is usually used to indicate a cheap easy twist that wraps things up. Some people may have thought it was corny (can’t really argue), but I didn’t just pull it out of a hat. The whole ep was leading to that, it was the point, not just a way to end it. Third thing- Was it God? Well, I’m an atheist, but it’s hard to ignore the idea of a “Christmas Miracle” here (though the PRAY on the marquee was an unintentional coincidence). The fact is, the Christian mythos has a powerful fascination to me, and it bleeds into my storytelling. Redemption, Hope, Purpose, Santa, these all are important to me, whether I believe in an afterlife or some universal structure or not. I certainly don’t mind a strictly Christian interpretation being placed on this ep by those who believe that- I just hope it’s not limited to that. My fourth point, and I really think this gets to the heart of the issue: I’m kind of dull.”

    What I find ironic is that in a series whose fans complain incessantly about rarely getting a happy ending, Joss finally gives us an episode with not only a happy ending, but one that is miraculous and hopeful. And then people complain about that.

    2. Regarding the the test in “Helpless:” I don’t remember if you mentioned this, but “cruciamentum” is Latin for torture. I can elaborate further, but my understanding of the purpose of the test is to (hopefully) kill the Slayer. The Watchers’ ideal Slayer is presumably someone like Kendra, a young girl who is dutiful and easily controlled — an expendable weapon as Giles told Quentin Travers. It is implied that most Slayers never reach the age of 18, and the ones who do, would be less likely to remain under the Watchers’ control as they approach adulthood and become more free-thinking and empowered. Buffy, of course, is like no Slayer before her: she is already free-thinking and empowered; she is rebellious; she not only has friends but includes them in her slaying duties and, most horrific of all, she is in love with a vampire. I suspect that the Watchers’ Council view her as more of a liability than as an asset and would be relieved to replaced both her and Giles, who is also apparently not held in high esteem.

    3. Finally, I am glad that Rob, one of your listeners, pointed out the “Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” premise for “The Zeppo.” He is spot on. I also see a bit of Martin Scorcese’s “After Hours” in there, in which an “average Joe” meets a girl, then unintentionally becomes involved in a series of increasingly strange and dangerous situations throughout the evening, and in the end, he shows up at work the next day, with everything proceeding as usual. There may also be a bit of “American Grafitti” thrown in for fun as well.

    As for the sudden disregard for Xander’s helpfulness within the Scoobies and everyone making him feel useless: I chocked it up to this being a POV episode with Xander being the unreliable narrator. Xander has always suffered from low self-esteem, and his recent actions led not only to breaking Cordelia’s heart but also nearly killing her as well, and now there is an uncomfortable wedge between Willow and Xander. Oz and Willow have gotten back together, and apparently Buffy and Angel have as well, all of which leaves Xander the odd man out. POV episodes are interesting to watch — the Scoobies concern for his safety is greatly exaggerated, the audience sees the Buffy and Angel melodrama exactly how Xander perceives it, and the constantly changing time and beeps on the bomb as it’s ticking down is not a continuity error. In fact, it reminded me of a couple of near fatal accidents that I experienced: a car crash and a plane crash. In both instances, things did seem to happen in slow motion, and my mind was eerily calm. So I really loved those little details.

    Well, I have taken up more than my fair share of space I hope to provide more timely feedback in the future, and I look forward to hearing your thought on “Bad Girls.” Thank you for your hard work.


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