This time we discuss one of Cory’s favorite episodes- The Zeppo! We talk about the melodrama, baking cakes, and how Xander really comes into his own.
Thank you for listening to our discussion of Season 3, Episode 13: The Zeppo
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Music for this episode is “Digging a Grave,” by Shadows from the Underground, and is used under license from Audiosocket.
2 thoughts on “Episode 53: The Zeppo”
It entertains me when you guys talk about how old the guest stars are like they’re not essentially the same age as Nicholas Brendan and Charisma Carpenter. I love them, but let’s be honest, they both are also 10 years older than the characters they are playing.
The Zeppo is one of those episodes where on the one hand I like it – for its humor, primarily, which I think is done incredibly well, and I also think it’s a really interesting episode in terms of Xander’s character development, but the episode also exemplifies some things that annoy me about said character development. I totally agree with you both calling out the funniness of the Buffy/Angel scene with the melodrama ramped up to 11. I also love all of Xander’s scenes early on especially, where he feels useless and is trying to find his ‘thing.’ Like he can be the ‘x’ guy, having a certain quality that will give him confidence in his abilities. And I know there’s a lot about how that relates to masculinity in a sense, but I also think it’s interesting to compare that to Willow’s own journey. Willow and Xander both start the series as outcast bffs, and both of them occasionally feel very insecure about their own personalities because of how they grew up being bullied/put down/ignored. We see this again in season 4 for both of them in ‘Doomed’ and we see it particularly later on for Willow in episodes like ‘Restless’ and when she at the end of season 6 talks about how pathetic she felt she was before she started practicing witchcraft and met Tara (this is also why I love that Willow and Xander end season 6 together, with Xander specifically bringing up a memory from their shared past as kids). So I think that both Willow and Xander want to have a ‘thing’ (jokes aside) that makes them special, and for Willow, that thing is magic. But Xander’s insecurities center on masculinity in a way that Willow’s don’t. Even in season 5 Xander admits to Anya in an episode that he’s so into her because she ‘makes him feel like a man.’ It’s a notion I don’t think he ever entirely lets go of. We also see his insecurities in season 6 in how he reacts to the trio – he actually has some common interests with them, though he likes to downplay it, and when he insults them it’s usually regarding their lack of luck with women. His self confidence is at least partially based on his relationships with women.
As fascinating as I find Xander’s journey, though, the end of this episode – I get that the point is that he proved to himself that he was able to handle something tough and not rely totally on validation from his friends that he’s useful, and I definitely see how that would be confidence-inspiring. But the confidence-inspiring things he did were also pretty stereotypically masculine (the stare down over the bomb, losing his virginity, etc.). Which, again, I guess fits with Xander’s whole thing, where his confidence is tied to his perception of himself as masculine. And I’m not saying there’s something inherently wrong with that, but I don’t know – there’s something about it that doesn’t sit entirely right with me. But that could be because I’m not a fan of gender-based stereotypes generally. I much prefer the episode that Laine mentioned in season 7 where he has that talk with Dawn, about it not needing to be *about* grand, obvious heroics. And having his end moment be with Cordelia… again, I get what they were doing, where she has been pretty nasty to him recently (which I get – it’s not right, but she’s hurt and it’s easy for her to default to something like that because that’s basically how she grew up interacting with people she viewed as beneath her in the high school hierarchy, so it sucks but it makes sense for her character), but also – she loved him and he cheated on her, then she got impaled when she figured it out while she was trying to save him, and he’s been… less than truly remorseful in the aftermath. Which doesn’t make it right that she’s being cruel to him, at all, but at the same time, did he really need to get one up on her? The whole Cordelia-Xander interactions in the episode just didn’t work for me.