Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Buffy Rewatch Week 17

3.13 The Zeppo
3.14 Bad Girls
3.15 Consequences
Bite Me! pages 201-206

Welcome to week 17 (!) of the Buffy Rewatch! I’ve been noticing in recent weeks that many people commenting on the episodes and the commentary have been saying things like, “I’m surprised no one pointed out the obvious, which was ______.” And in many cases, I did point that out… in my book. But I’m trying not to reiterate too much that I already talked about in my book. So instead at the beginning of each week I’m going to direct you to the pages in Bite Me — The Chosen Edition: The Unofficial Guide to Buffy the Vampire Slayer that correspond to this week’s episodes. Things have gotten a bit crazy for me here now that I’m trying to cover Buffy, Fringe, Game of Thrones, and any other show that I’m watching right now (by the way, if you’re not watching The Killing… WATCH IT) so I’m just going to focus on the first of our three eps this week in mine, and trust me, the guests I have this week will MORE than make up for my lack of wordage.

This week we finally come to an episode many commentators (including myself) have referred to whenever discussing the ins and outs of Xander: “The Zeppo.” This has been a fan favourite since it first aired, and I think it’s absolutely wonderful in so many ways. Now, when it was first broadcast and the message boards lit up, I distinctly remember a large group of people complaining that the apocalypse that Buffy and the Gang were fighting looked REALLY interesting and they were pissed off that we didn’t get to see it in anything other than snippets. Those people were missing the point, in my opinion. This was an episode showing everything from Xander’s point of view (with a few moments that diverted from that when he couldn’t have possibly known what was happening in a handful of scenes) and the apocalypse itself doesn’t matter. What matters is the behind-the-scenes stuff that Xander goes through, and how this one episode makes you watch everything after it in a different way. Whenever one of the Scoobs isn’t around, what exactly are they up to? Could they be having an even wilder adventure than Buffy at the moment?

The hilarious lines from this episode are many (my favourite being Giles commenting that there’s a “stench of death in the air” and Xander replying, “I think that’s Bob”) but what has always stuck with me about it is the moment where Xander is standing next to the bomb and refuses to let Jack leave. Jack says he doesn’t care because he’s not afraid, and then says, “Are you?” Xander stands there for a second, and a serene smile appears on his face as he softly says, “I like the quiet.” It’s a scene that, with the exception of the first time I watched it (where I stared at my screen in shock), has always brought me to tears. Xander is always the guy with the jokes, the happy fun guy, but deep down he’s endured more pain than possibly anyone else in the crew. Perhaps it’s why he lashes out the way he always does. Buffy might have had to fight her boyfriend and lose him in a battle by her own hand, but what about Xander, whose parents don’t seem to care if he lives or dies, who sleeps outside in a tent in the middle of the winter because he can’t stand the fighting and drinking happening inside, who has been the butt of jokes at school and possibly the victim of abuse in his home? He’s found solace with his friends, and they constantly do things he doesn’t agree with, and so he gets angry. In this moment, we realize that he’s reconciled himself to his own fate perhaps more solidly than even Buffy has. She said poignantly in “Prophecy Girl” that she’s only 16, and doesn’t want to die. But Xander… he seems kind of OK with it. That said, I always breathe a sigh of relief when he seems to snap out of his reverie the moment the door opens and he’s able to leave, as if he was telling himself it was OK in the moment and he didn’t really mean it. Or did he?

I’ll leave “Bad Girls” and “Consequences,” two brilliant Faith episodes (are you totally loving her yet?) to Michael Holland below. Faith, the Mayor, Wesley… god, there is so much to say about these, I’m ticked that this would be the week I’m too busy to weigh in much (but I do have something to say in my book). However, without spoiling you, I just want to say that I know Wesley comes off as the Upper Class Twit of the Year when you first meet him, and you’re not wrong to think that. But I can say without a moment of hesitation that he is hands down my favourite character in the Whedonverse. Really. He is going to go on to have the single most incredible, heart-wrenching, and beautiful character arc of all of Whedon’s characters. And I say that knowing you guys know the love I have for Willow and Giles. They’re both amazing characters, but they can’t touch Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. You can’t see it now, but trust me on this one.

OK! First up in our guests this week, we have a teeny tiny slice of cheese from Steve Halfyard about the music in “The Zeppo”:

I could talk all day about the joy of musical parody in ‘The Zeppo’, but will resist, beyond noting the references back to ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ (more 1970s funk when Xander has sex with Faith; lots of skittering strings in true Xander style) and some cheeky use of the love theme in a very over the top scene between Buffy and Angel. The main cheese nugget is from ‘Consequences’: in the library, when Buffy goes to tell Giles the truth about what Faith did, as he discovers that Faith has got there first and blamed her, we hear the Death motif from ‘Helpless’ again (now expanded slightly with a fourth note on the end, bring it back to the pitch it began on). This is the start of that motif moving from being an abstract idea to do with Buffy’s mortality to being specifically associated with Faith as the person most likely to try to kill her: the Mayor may be the big bad of the season, but it’s Faith who is rapidly becoming the biggest threat to Buffy herself.

*For the next two writers, I'll be using invisible ink. Whenever you see a space with no writing, highlight the area and you can see the hidden spoilery comments. If you're a first-time watcher, don't highlight the spoilers if you wish to remain spoiler-free.

Next up is first time caller, long time listener, Ensley Guffey. I met Ensley's girlfriend, Dale Koontz, briefly at Slayage 3 in Arkansas, after she delivered a fantastic paper there, and when Dale came over to me to say hi at Slayage 4, she introduced him to me as her husband. Now the two of them are my favourite Facebook comedy team, and I think they are one of the most perfect couplings of two people I’ve ever met. I’ll let Ensley give you the rest of his bio, just because it was too damn funny for me to rewrite.

Ensley Guffey is an academic late-bloomer who spends most of his time walking up and down the earth scowling at flash cards and declining Latin nouns, but it beats the restaurant business. His scribblings on a myriad of subjects can be found at Solomon Mao’s, a blog where he manfully attempts to post regularly. He is married to the absolutely incredible K. Dale Koontz, presented his first paper at Slayage 4, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Watcher Junior, and the week this Rewatch post appears he will be presenting on Breaking Bad at the Pop Culture Association’s National Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Other plates currently being spun include a paper on Samuel Colt and Supernatural, a look at war in the works of Joss Whedon, graduating from college, and talking someone into letting him into graduate school. He must also find the time to obtain a passport before Slayage 5 because apparently Canada is a whole different country and all. Who knew? He always thought it was part of Maine or something.

“This essay doesn’t have a title because I handed it in to Nikki Stafford about two months ago knowing I’d be busy at PCA, and in her typical way she didn’t notice until a few days before the post was going live that it lacked a title, but she didn’t want to bother me so she left it title-less”: Did Nikki succeed in making this non-title even longer than the title on the speech she co-delivered at Slayage 4?

A paper by Ensley Guffey

I grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons (back when Gary Gygax still worked for TSR, and D&D had yet to turn into a glorified poker game), and with few exceptions, I always played humans, and always fighter-types. I had a Muggle’s instinctive distrust for magic users, and an ingrained belief that despite the lack of any sort of inborn powers or racial ability, the good old-fashioned, un-improved human bean was the most versatile, dependable, cunning, and downright scary critter in any world, real or imagined. A belief I still hold, by and large.

So, when invited to participate in the Great Buffy Re-Watch of 2011, I leapt on the opportunity to write about Season 3’s “The Zeppo,” the ultimate Xander-centric episode, and a love song to all of us guys (including, as Joss Whedon admits, the creator of Buffy his own bad self) who displayed Xander-type traits in high school (and beyond). For a Geek Guy like me, this episode has more emotional realism per frame than any other in the series. This is how high school, first time sex, and dealing with a world far more powerful and insane than I’d imagined really was! Sure the wild boys weren’t dead, but I knew versions of all of them, and I remember more than once having to evacuate my high school due to bomb threats (fortunately none of them real, so far as I know). As for first time sex, Xander pretty much sums it up:

“Long gone. Probably loaded with supplies. Gotta think. I can't believe I had sex. Okay, bombs. Already dead guys with bombs.”

For most of this episode, Xander is running on marbles. It’s doable as long as you keep moving forward, and Xander manages to stay mostly upright, but it doesn’t mean that things are under control. He’s reacting, being swept along, and things are getting crazier and crazier, and while all of that’s going on, he’s trying to figure out just who the hell he is and if that person is worth being. You know, pretty much the story of my late teens and early twenties (and late twenties and early thirties but who’s counting?)

And then he gets laid. By Faith, who is – let’s face it – the definition of “out of his league.” That’s heady stuff, and look at how it’s presented to us: in the reflection on the glass of a television screen, emphasizing just how unreal all of this has got to seem to Xander. He’s leapt from a potentially deadly encounter with a knife-wielding psycho, to roaring around Sunnydale with a car full of dead hoodlums bent on mayhem, to running down a demon with his car, to Faith’s bed. There has been no time to adjust to any of it, no chance to slow down and collect himself, and meanwhile all of his friends are so involved in their own thing (sure it’s an apocalypse, but what isn’t?) that he’s left all on his own.

So what does Xander do? Well, to put it bluntly, he mans up. He does what I think every 17-18 year-old guy who’s ever found himself so overwhelmed by life, sex, and self-doubt wishes he could do: when there’s finally a moment to catch his breath, and when it’s become obvious that Angel and Buffy are too far up one another’s butts with the self sacrificing and eternal love to help out, he straightens his spine and takes care of things himself. More, he does it knowing that he will most likely wind up on the wrong side of the whole dead-guy thing. This is it, this is the core of the episode and of Xander Harris: he screws up, he gets knocked across rooms and buried under trash, he gets into ridiculously dangerous situations – often of his own making – and he always, always stands up. For his friends, to his friends, often in spite of mortal danger, but always in the finest traditions of masculinity.

I’m not talking about any macho-nonsense here, or trying to get into a whole gender-issues debate, I’m just saying that as a role model for the modern man, you could do worse than Xander. He’s utterly human, surrounded by powerful forces he can neither control nor really understand but which directly affect him every day, and every major female figure in his life goes above and beyond the usual meaning of a strong woman. Xander knows this, accepts this, and moves forward, doing his absolutely human best. Xander will hold down a job and work hard. Xander will provide for those he loves in every way he can. And Xander will be there in the darkest night and brightest day. You can count on Xander, and on his humanity, his masculinity, chock-full of flaws as it is. I’m not gonna spoil it for you, Readers Mine, but you can trust me on this one: Whether you want to debate the merits of George Lucas’ casting, build a picture window, or save the world from an ancient, Lovecraftian evil, you want Xander Harris with you.

“The Zeppo” is where Xander discovers all of this within himself, and when we begin to realize that true heroism lies not in being chosen, but in making a choice.

Okay, the other two eps in my block are gonna get short shrift, I’m afraid, but I’ll try to be pithy and brief, with some spoilage as noted by asterisks:

“Bad Girls”:

• Oh Mr. Mayor and Mr. Trick, I miss you!!
• Wesley Wyndam-Milquetoast-Pryce*
• Oh noes! Faith is going to the dark side! (never saw that one coming!)
• My inner monologue: “Wow, Balthazar is one disgustingly fat thing. Nasty. I should really start working out again.”
• God I love it when “Ripper” Giles shows up!
• Faith washing shirt in the sink: Lady Macbeth anyone?

*I had forgotten what an incredible journey it is from “But I’d like to have my knee-caps” to “I’ll take away your bucket.” Poor Wes!

Has anyone else noticed that the eye that Xander twitches every time Buffy says “Faith” is the same eye that Caleb “plucks out” in Season 7?


• Faith gets even worse!
• Oh Xander. You moron.
• Angel gets to do some old-school Twelfth Step Work!*
• Oh Wesley. You moron.**
• Mr. Trick!! NOOOOOO!!
• So Sunnydale is a deep water port?***
• See, now if the Mayor had Faith and Mr. Trick, the gang would really be in trouble!


*Faith hasn’t hit bottom yet though, so Angel won’t get to sponsor her until “Sanctuary” in Season 1 of Angel.
** Again, it’s a long way from trying to kidnap Faith in a panel truck to emptying a clip into something Wes thinks is his father when it starts to threaten Fred!
*** Seriously, in “Chosen” don’t we see the crater that used to be Sunnydale completely surrounded by dry land? The Sunnydale docks must be from the same plot-convenience warehouse as the castle in “Buffy vs. Dracula”

Thank you, Ensley! And now, a REALLY long essay (but worth the read!) by Michael Holland. Michael has been one of the most regular readers and commenters on my blog since back in the Lost days, and one day he emailed me to tell me he was the post-production supervisor on Dollhouse and was really enjoying reading the Dollhouse discussions we were having on my blog. It’s always been great to hear from him, and he’s weighed in on some great topics when we were discussing Lost, so when he asked me if would consider allowing him to contribute to the Buffy Rewatch, I didn’t hesitate for a second before saying yes. Now, he actually gave me a giant paper on all three, but when Ensley covered off The Zeppo I decided just to run the parts of his paper here that were on Bad Girls and Consequences, so that every episode would get its say. (However, never fear: I will run his Zeppo rundown in the spoilers section because I can’t bear to just chop something out completely after someone’s gone to so much work on it!) I was hesitant to ask him to cut it down too much, because he’s been very busy ever since his second son was born at the end of March. And to give you an idea of the cuteness that has just come into the world, here is Michael with his first son, Jack. All together now… AWWWWWW.

So without any further ado, here is Michael Holland!

I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.

When I first read that Guest Commentators would be co-hosting The Great Buffy Rewatch, I knew I somehow had to be a part of it. But how? I wasn’t sure. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Nikki in person, just over email, but the little contact we’d had made me believe I could at least email her about it. So I did. And of course she was as wonderfully gracious as you’d expect; as most of you already know. That I – just another fan – could join what many consider the great Buffy academics around.

Which brings me to the biting and chewing.

First of all, who was I to join such academics? Sure, I’ve worked in Hollywood all my professional life – including a stint on Dollhouse – so perhaps I had a certain “in.” And I write about The Whedonverse every once in a while. And I’m definitely a fan, having watched all of Whedon’s series live as they aired, including hosting get-togethers for Buffy and eventually along with Angel those wonderful Tuesday nights long ago. But would any of this give me cred among the real academics?

More biting, more chewing.

For second of all, by the time I garnered enough courage to throw my hat in the ring, all the episodes were already taken. Had I missed my chance? Well, I did see there were a few double-ups, so I thought, “Well, I’ll offer a couple of weeks and see what happens,” pretty sure I could write a little something entertaining, hopefully interesting, and succeed in my own original goal: to simply be a part of this exciting year.

I saw the Zeppo week and remembered how much I love that episode. I’ve always had a soft spot for Xander so I thought, “Yeah! Zeppo! That one will be fun.” (So much of a soft spot, in fact, that I hate Hell’s Bells with a furious passion. But we’ll get to that.) But what I didn’t immediately think about was Bad Girls and Consequences being in the same group. I tried to remember what happened in those. (Before this Great Rewatch, I hadn’t seen Season 3 in a couple of years.) “Let’s see, that’s where Faith kills The Deputy Mayor. And one of them is where Wesley shows up. Anything else? Eh, I’ll figure it out. Yeah, I can do that group.”

For the sake of this review, of course, I rewatched Bad Girls and Consequences again and, um, there’s a lot that happens in them. (As I smack myself in the head) They’re kind of the crux of the rest of the season.

Uh oh. Had I picked the wrong group, especially considering my academic audience?

Had I bitten off more than I could chew?

Camera pushes in on me, wide-eyed at my laptop, furiously typing away and –

Opening Credits.

Bad Girls
w Doug Petrie
d Michael Lange

While The Zeppo is a stand-alone episode, barely if at all dealing with the mythology of the season, Bad Girls and Consequences – they’re really a two-parter, aren’t they? – are very much the mythology of the season. In fact, they’re the season’s very turning point. While up through these episodes we’ve been chugging up the track of the first big hill, the rest of the season is the roller coaster ride. And, wow.

As I say, I’d forgotten just how significant especially Bad Girls is, but felt better when the writer himself, Doug Petrie, said the same in his DVD Commentary Track. Think of it. The Mayor full-fledgingly (it’s a word) stepping into his role; the introduction of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (as it’s spelled in Petrie’s script, though we’ll also see it Wyndam-Price and Wyndham-Price); Angel and Wesley meet [and considering their relationship on Angel, how “Casablanca” (I like to call it; something meaning more the second time you watch it) this truly is]; another character (Balthazar) references The Mayor’s importance; we’re introduced to Faith’s longbow (which will play a significant role in Graduation Day Part 1); and The Mayor becomes invincible. (All in just forty-four minutes!)

There is always The Big Bad of the Season, and Season 3’s is of course The Mayor. But the more significant enemy – certainly to Buffy personally – is Faith. (Foreshadowing Season 6 in which, as Nikki herself points out so well in Bite Me!, The Big Bad is least clear. Some say The Troika, some say Willow, where, really, it’s the characters’ process of growing up. I wish I was as astute, but couldn’t agree more.) Throughout the first three seasons, though it will certainly carry throughout the entire series, Buffy has had to balance her personal life with the life of The Slayer. But what Season 3 looks at specifically, certainly from Bad Girls forward, is what happens when the life of The Slayer takes a different path. (Our great What If episode The Wish looked at this as well, but singularly, and from its Elseworld point of view. Now – much like the cool of The Zeppo – it’s really happening.)

What makes Buffy the hero she is are a myriad of influences, most significantly the people in her life. Remember Spike in School Hard? “A Slayer with family and friends. That sure as hell wasn't in the brochure.” Joyce as her mother – and this is the topic of a much longer article, but consider the impact Joyce had on Buffy’s life for the fifteen years before she became The Slayer. Giles as her Watcher and father figure. Willow and Xander as her friends. Angel (period). Even Oz and Anya. (And Riley and Tara and Dawn and Spike, these four so significantly in seasons to come.) But just as significant as having her family around her proves -- and how wonderfully Whedon spotlights this, as well as solidifying Tara in our group, in Season 5’s Family -- it’s the woman Buffy – Slayer aside – is inherently. Like Peter Parker, another hero we know is inherently a good person, Buffy enjoys quipping with her enemies in a light-hearted manner. She still wants to finish High School, go to College. She still wants to fall in love, shop, pay her bills. (Seemingly insignificant, especially in TV Land, but very significant in Season 6; and one of the “real life, growing up” things I love about the season.) She still wants to be a normal girl. [Still very much a part of who she is. (Consider the very last episode of the series as, pre battle, Shopping and Mini Golf remain topics of conversation.)] So imagine stripping it all away from her. How she was raised, the family around her, her sense of humor, the girl inside the woman. Would she still be as good?

Or, to put it simply … what if The Slayer was bad?

This is the fun Whedon & Company get to have with Faith. And as unnerving as it is, fun is indeed a key word. Because few people enjoy – find pure giddiness in – being evil as much as The Mayor and Faith. (Especially The Mayor. Like Sue Sylvester on Glee, reveling in The Dark Side, it’s why The Mayor is often a – without question my – favourite Big Bad.) As old a device as this is in Story – every Superman has his Bizarro – there’s always something enticing about delving into the dark mirror of our hero.

It starts innocently enough – “Count of three isn’t a plan, it’s Sesame Street” – but soon delves deeper – Buffy cutting class through the window (which, frankly, the teacher didn’t notice?) and dancing at The Bronze – then very deep indeed with the accidental killing of The Deputy Mayor. This too is a topic for a much longer article – and may very well be dealt with in The Body or The Gift or Seeing Red – but human death is an odd thing in The Buffyverse (more so than in the rest of The Whedonverse). Demons are off’d left and right, and we accept demons killing their fair share of humans, but then some are singled out very particularly – Joyce, Ben, Tara – and then to the gravest effect. (Certainly Joyce whose The Body may be the best episode of the series.) But I think accidental is a key word, not just for their innocence sake, but for Faith’s turn specifically in that she knows she has a way out if she talks to Giles, but chooses to let the walls she’s built up keep her from doing the right thing. (The walls Buffy herself may also have if not for her mother, friends, et cetera. Again, this is the turn we see in The Wish, but I digress.) Faith isn’t drawn to The Dark Side for money or power or anything Evil offers her, but is thrust there as accidentally -- as innocently -- as Buffy. (Well, nothing Evil offers her until The Mayor fatherly showers her with The Knife, the apartment, a Playstation, and, in what may be the key moment in their relationship, the flowery dress in which he -- solely fatherly -- sees her prettier than she ever will herself.) And this is where Whedon & Co write her so well: Faith’s very walls simply let her flounder there.

Re Buffy herself, and this reiterates what I was talking about good writing always staying within character, one might argue that her being our hero – an inherently good girl – well, she wouldn’t do some of the things she does in this episode: lying about the Deputy Mayor’s death, stealing from the hardware store, injuring the cops to escape from them. But she does them all within the frame of her being who she is. I particularly like the moment after the car crash where she checks the cops to make sure they’re okay. This could easily have not been written or shot (or it could have been cut for time) but including it solidifies who she is. She may be delving into her own Dark Side for one episode – and fair enough – but she’s still our girl. Besides, who can blame her for almost being drowned a second time? Considering the Season 1 finale, Petrie says it’s a bit like “baptism by fire.” And perhaps she deserves burning off a little steam. I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but what ultimately solidifies her remaining our hero is the end of Consequences where there’s this exchange –

I really thought we were gonna lose her.

She still has a lot to face before she can put this behind her. But yes,
she has a real chance. Because you didn't give up on her.

The difference between Buffy and Faith is clear. Faith feels alone. But as Buffy has her mother, Giles, and friends, she can also be a friend.

This is, too, perhaps the topic for a longer article – Cops In Sunnydale – but it’s interesting to see when and where we see Cops in the series. Like the very real death tone of The Body, it’s interesting to see where Whedon & Co decide to use police presence in the show. Two significant episodes right in a row are Bad Girls and Consequences where they’re all over the place. They’re tools for the writers, sure, but it’s at least worth mentioning. I’m ashamed not to give credit to whomever mentioned this in the Season 1 Commentary, but there’s Giles’ line, “People have a tendency to rationalize what they can and forget what they can't.” (Recalled in the Angel episode The Prodigal when Angel tells Kate Lockley, “People have a way of seeing what they need to.”) And there’s the reasonable buy-in that, as we now know The Mayor is “a black hat” (as Faith will say in the next ep), that he might send the police after our heroes a bit more vehemently than before. Still, it’s interesting when and where they pop up.

Before we get into Consequences, I’d be remiss not to touch on the introduction of our dear Wesley. And I hope you agree he is dear. I certainly think of him that way. In both his incarnations. First, the bumbling brain on Buffy and then the cool stoicism on Angel. I mean, Rogue Demon Hunter? Getting his throat slit? Sleeping with Lilah? Dude takes a turn! But I foreshadow. When Doug Petrie originally pitched the character to Whedon, he says, “I thought of a Michael J. Fox type, kind of a George Stephanopoulos American young aggressive go-getter,” which I think would have been a fun balance, but then we’d miss the doubly British moments like this --

It's not all books and theory nowadays. I have in fact faced
two vampires - under controlled circumstances, of course.

Well, you're in no danger of finding any here.


Controlled circumstances.

Then both of them closing that scene by cleaning their glasses at the same time? Indeed, “Giles The Next Generation,” as Cordelia says in the next episode, just shines. Petrie also notes in his DVD Commentary Track that giving Wesley the brainy bumbling also allowed them to take most of that away from Giles, who, for two-and-a-half years, played that role. This, then, more solidly places Giles in the role of the quieter, cooler father figure to Buffy, greatly solidifying that bond.

There are an abundance of insides in this episode – inside jokes, references and the like. Willow being admitted to Wesleyan (Whedon’s alma mater); the Gleaves crypt where Balthazar’s amulet is buried, Gleaves is Petrie’s wife’s maiden name; Balthazar being thought of as a Blade rip-off (though Petrie admits he’d never seen Blade and was instead ripping off Marvel’s The Kingpin); The Mayor’s cleanliness obsession a friendly jab at Executive Producer David Greenwalt; and it was while shooting this episode – the scene in which Angel charges in to save Giles and Wesley – that Greenwalt said, “Yeah, I think there’s a Series in him.” While Angel had been prepped since the end of Buffy Season 2, his exit at the end of this Season was still up in the air.

No doubt about it, this is a big episode. Sadly, I barely scratched its surface. For me it’s really about Buffy and Faith, a very special relationship, of which this is just the beginning. More specifically, this is Faith’s fall from grace. So the questions linger. How long will it be before she claws her way back up? Can she?

Or are her walls too strongly built?

w Marti Noxon
d Michael Gershman

I won’t give Ms. Noxon nearly enough credit in this Commentary, though she very much deserves it. Suffice to say her great script drives the roller coaster. While Bad Girls is the first rush down, Consequences is the first turn, the bare settling, the chug back up the track. It’s a breather, but only a short one, giving us just enough time to comprehend what’s happened; the resetting of a timebomb, threatening us with what we realize was there all along. And still have to face.

As I say, both episodes are really a two-parter, so let’s get right back into it. Faith left us with, “I don’t care” so that’s where we’ll start. (Oh those walls of hers!) Faith herself doesn’t believe she doesn’t care, and Buffy knows it; but, as Milton wrote some four hundred years ago, “Long is the way and hard that out of hell leads up to light.” Buffy, as our hero, can’t shake what’s happened, as her dream personifies: she’s drowning in it. She knows how quickly Faith is falling; more importantly, were those the walls she herself built, how quickly she’d be dragged down with her.

As I began the Zeppo Commentary with how much I love What If episodes, the last half of Season 3 is, as I wrote, sort of a big What If, isn’t it?

What if The Slayer was bad?

As Bad Girls gave us the setup, Consequences is the payoff. And it’s a dark one. Not just for Faith (natch) but for Buffy too. Because Faith is the personification of Buffy’s Dark Side. So, really, we’re getting a glimpse of the shadow, the silhouette, in Buffy’s mind.

Magnifying that idea specifically, there are two big scenes in this episode. For nearly three seasons, we’ve had glimpses of it -- certainly Slayer Vs Buffy-As-Normal-Girl, but also Slayer Vs Slayer (the latter as far back as When She Was Bad) -- but now that Buffy’s inner demons are personified in Faith, we get to hear those thoughts. The first big is in the street –

Buffy. I'm not going to "see" anything... I missed the mark
last night. And I'm sorry about the guy, really. But it happens.
Anyway - how many people do you think we've saved by
now? Thousands? And didn't you stop the world from ending?
In my book, that puts you and me firmly in the plus column.

We help people. That doesn't mean we can do whatever we want-

Why not? This guy I off’d was no Ghandi. We just saw - he was
mixed up in dirty dealing.

Maybe. But what if he was coming to us for help?

What if he was? You're still not looking at the big picture, B.
Something made us different. We're warriors. We were built
to kill-

(cutting her off)
To kill demons. But we don't get to pass judgement on people,
like we're better than everybody else-

We are better.
(this stops Buffy)
That's right. Better. People need us to survive. In the balance?
Nobody's gonna cry over some random bystander who got caught
in the crossfire.

Buffy looks stricken. Finally-

I am.

Faith just looks at her. Shakes her head.

Your loss.

This is key because most likely Buffy has had this exact … if not conversation with herself, the thought has to have crossed her mind. Not to mention, um, “Death is your gift,” anyone? It’s first personified in “Want Take Have” in the last ep, then magnified here. Indeed, Buffy and Faith are better, in a sense. Stronger, faster, all that. The difference, though, is Buffy chooses to use her powers to help people.

The second big is on the docks at the end.

What bugs you is - you know I'm right. You know in your gut.
We don't need the law. We are the law-


Faith moves in closer. Sees that she's getting to her.

Yes. You know exactly what I'm about. Because you have it
in you, too.

No. You're sick, Faith-

I've seen it, B. You've got the lust. And I'm not just talking about
screwing vampires-

Don't bring him into this-

It was good, wasn't it? The sex? The danger? Bet a part of you
even dug him when he went psycho-


See - you need me to tow the line because you're afraid you'll go
over it, aren't you, B? You can't handle watching me living my
own way and having a blast - because it tempts you. You know it
could be you-

That's it. Something snaps in Buffy. She rears back and POPS Faith a good one. Faith falls back, but she's smiling as she puts a hand to her bleeding mouth.

There's my girl...

Nail on the head.

Because Faith has a point. This is what every Slayer, indeed Buffy, must fight internally; now, as I say, these inner demons are personified in Faith. (These inner demons only grow as the seasons continue; the deepest, I’d say, in Season 6.) Though, interestingly, Buffy hits first. Pushed to it, sure, but “her own way,” as Faith taunts her, pushes back. And can you blame her? They’ve been verbally dueling a while now, so one of them was bound to take it to the next level. But that it’s Buffy who first resorts to the physical? (Again, I can’t help but think of The Primitive here.) Well, even Luke in Jedi, hearing Vader will go after Leia, loses it. And, dear readers, don’t ever get between Buffy and Angel. I wrote a Spec of Smallville many years ago (that show’s Season 2) where Clark and Random Bad Guy are facing off and Random Bad asks him, “Everything you can do and you choose to help these people? Why?!” And Clark says, “Because I can.” Indeed: Buffy can. And does.

But is Faith truly lost?

For me, there are three key moments where Faith’s conscience kicks in, and she, however fleetingly, allows a crack in the wall. For me these moments are key in not letting Faith go too evil, considering how she’ll return to hero mode on Angel and eventually this show. It goes back to what I was saying about writers staying in character. “Buffy wouldn’t be bad, it’s not in her nature,” though Whedon & Co stay in her framework. Same here. If Faith goes too evil? If we don’t have these moments – including the dream in Graduation Day Part 2 – we won’t buy the prodigal return later on. The first, and I think most significant, is in Bad Girls where, after killing The Deputy Mayor, she returns to the scene to view it, let it sink in. (This is probably the turning point, where she decides to let the walls build.) The second is in this episode when she and Buffy are snooping around The Mayor’s office and there’s this –


A shot of the Deputy Mayor with the Mayor at on official function of some kind. The Deputy Mayor is smiling, proud.

He came out of nowhere.

I know.

At this Faith’s eyes go cold and she returns to the search.

Whatever. I’m not looking to hug and cry and learn and grow.
I’m just saying it went down quick, is all.

Buffy, a little stung, decides to let it go.

More letting it sink in – and no pun intended considering how our episode began – it’s what I was saying about Faith choosing to go down this path. Even here, Buffy doesn’t gloat or pry or do anything but agree with her. And Faith knows it. Catches herself and – “shields up!” – can’t buy that there’s any way out besides that which her past allows – no-mother, no-Giles, no-friends.

The third, and fairly most obvious moment is in the end fight where Trick is about to dine on Buffy and Faith stakes him, saving her. Faith could have escaped, let it happen – we see her pause – but instead she chooses to do the right thing and save our hero.

And for an episode named Consequences, ah there are many.

The biggest of which (sigh) is Willow. I’ve often said that no two actresses working today cry better than Gillian Anderson and Alyson Hannigan. (Am I surprised both their first and last names have the same syllables? But I digress …) Witness any time Hannigan cries in this show – hearing about Miss Calendar over the phone in Passion is a great example – or even this season’s How I Met Your Mother when Marshall’s father passes away and Lily has to give him the news. Gutwrenching? You bet. Because she makes it so. Our dear Willow has had to cry so many times in seven seasons, but one of the real hit-homes is in this episode, when she hears of Xander having sex with – losing his virginity to – Faith (and this, remember, two episodes later). It’s setup by a comical moment, the double “Oh” between Buffy and Giles, as they realize what’s happened, undercut by the solemn, “I don’t need to say it” Willow gives; she having realized it first. And then the cut-to her crying in the bathroom. Ugh. (In the larger Whedonverse, we’ll see this moment again in Firefly as, in Heart Of Gold, Inara realizes Mal has slept with Nandi. And, yes indeed, sigh again.)

The other big consequence is, after the same significant scene, the simple cut-to Xander laying on the stairs of the library thinking about what’s happened. Not that he’s slept with Faith, not that he’s lost his virginity, but that Willow now knows, again two episodes (call it two weeks) later. They talk every night, so two weeks? Willow, his best friend since they were six, who he knows has been in love with him for as long (pre Oz), who he knows must have cried after hearing the news. Once again, with as big a switch-up as Whedon & Co throw at us turning Faith, and the consequences that births, it’s the simple everyday relationship issues that hit home the hardest. And work the best.
I mentioned the sigh, right?

As remiss as I would have been not to mention Wesley’s introduction in Bad Girls, I have to mention his key moment in this episode. Upon learning of Faith’s indiscretion, he takes it upon himself to SWAT her back to The Council (foreshadowing the “wetworks” team in Season 4’s Who Are You?). Whereas so far in these two episodes we’ve only seen him as the brainy bumbler, this gives him a moment of substance, some grounding to believe that there’s more to him than just the comedy. As well rounded as all the characters are in the Whedonverse, so indeed is Our New Watcher. And I know I mentioned this before, but oh the arc he’ll continue in the remaining episodes of this season and especially Angel. I wonder how long Whedon & Co initially planned to keep him around, considering he’s gone from Sunnydale in Season 4 and doesn’t show up in L.A. until that show’s tenth episode, Parting Gifts. In any event, I’m glad he returns, because he is our dear Wesley.

And last but not least, from a production standpoint, I have to mention the great Michael Gershman, who directed this episode. This is his second Directed By – after Season 2’s Passion (another Best Of The Series) and we’ll see him direct next on Season 4’s A New Man – and I think he does a wonderful job. You know his name as he’s been Buffy’s Cinematographer (and will be for eighty-some episodes); and, as Mr. Pateman pointed out so well in his first Commentary of our Rewatch, he successfully helped establish the look of the show.

Couple of things, if I may.

First, I found it interesting in Gershman’s DVD Commentary of this episode that there were never storyboards for the show. An aside, really, but I found it interesting.

Secondly, please note the three long camera moves in this ep: through the crime scene to Angel looking on; following Angel out of the mansion into the courtyard to see Buffy; and off Giles’ office to Wesley listening in. Why significant? Because most decisions made on a TV Show have something to do with time. The less time spent on something generally means the less money spent (all the way to the Network Cut of a show, as they want to cram as much Advertising in as possible). For a myriad of reasons for another much longer article, you just don’t see long shots like this in a TV Show; one of the reasons being how long it takes to light enough Set for that long a shot. But as Gershman was the Cinematographer on the show – knew the sets and what it took to light them – he could plan-for and get-away-with them as Director. Again, perhaps an aside, but I find it interesting.

As Ms. Stuller wrote so well in the Season 1 Prophecy Girl Commentary about The Hero’s Journey: redemption resolves. Unfortunately, as we see in this episode’s final scene, Faith chooses to continue down the dark path, turning herself over to The Mayor; not in any heroic sacrifice, but, in a sense, turning over her very soul. Does she really feel that alone? Are her walls that fully built? The roller coaster rushes on, redemption left to wait, as it seems Milton’s hard way into light is indeed still a long one before us all.


Marebabe said...

With each passing week on this rewatch-and-first-watch, I’m feeling more and more like a total n00b, missing key stuff left and right because I don’t yet know the whole story. But I’m still plugging along with you.

There are many fascinating titles in the Buffy saga. As I started watching this episode, I thought, “What the heck does THIS title mean?” Somehow I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be about a Zeppelin OR a Zippo lighter.

OHHH! Zeppo was the fourth – and rather extraneous – Marx Brother. After Groucho, Chico, and Harpo. (And when Cordy told Xando – er, Xander – to look it up, I made a note to look it up, too.)

We got to hear a lot of Xander’s frenzied/berserk theme, with all the strings. I really like that theme.

I felt really disoriented at the end of “The Zeppo”. It was like watching a movie with an entire reel missing. We didn’t get to actually SEE the end of the battle and the closing of the Hellmouth. All of a sudden we had a scene with our battered and bruised heroes sitting around recapping it. I get your point, Nikki, about this episode being totally Xander-centric, but I didn’t realize that when I was first watching. I understand budget and time constraints, but it still seems to me that this episode might’ve been greatly improved by taking more time with it, and giving it a two-part treatment.

So, in “Bad Girls”, we met Wesley. I was right with Buffy when she asked Giles, “Is he evil?” And I was with her again when she said to Faith, “He’s a dork.” He may be a well-meaning dork, but he’s still a dork! (Upper-Class Twit of the Year. Perfect!) I’m amazed to read that he is your favorite character, Nikki. It takes a heap of believin’, based on the tiny bit I’ve seen so far. But I know you wouldn’t fib about a thing like that. Very intriguing.

Marebabe said...

Demon Balthazar was yuckier and more grotesque than Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and Jabba the Hutt combined. There’s a different school of thought that evil beings should be beautiful and charismatic, the better to deceive the masses and gain followers. Sort of like Spike and Dru. Show of hands – how many of you would prefer to watch Spike and Dru, rather than Balthazar? Yeah, I thought so.

Reality check. In what universe would the cops open fire BEFORE issuing an order like “Freeze!” That was just all wrong.

I enjoyed the evil Mayor’s checklist. “Become invincible.”

Even before Faith told Buffy she “doesn’t care”, it seemed very apparent (to a first-time viewer) that she doesn’t care about anything, as a rule. But why? We still don’t know much about her at all. I hope we will (soon) get a big download of backstory for her. For viewers to have even a little sympathy for Faith, we need to know about some of the experiences (and hardships and tragedies) that have shaped her character. If she had been killed in this episode, who would’ve cared? Buffy, Giles, and the Scoobies would’ve felt some sense of loss, but the fans? Not so much.

At the beginning of “Consequences”, I absolutely LOVED Buffy’s sheep jammies! I’ll just bet that sales of this particular style skyrocketed after this episode first aired.

Would Wesley have ordered his Slayers to become homicide detectives for EVERY murder in Sunnydale? That seemed really weird to me. Or did I miss something?

In “Bad Girls”, I saw Faith as a bad influence on Buffy. (I try to remember that things are not necessarily what they seem, and there could be a major plot twist ahead.) But in “Consequences”, when Faith was choking Xander to death, I realized that she is much more than a bad influence. And at the very end, when she apparently joined up with the Evil Mayor? It’s hard to imagine how they can possibly make us see Faith as one of the good guys ever again. And maybe they just won’t. I had assumed (wrongly?) that a Slayer MUST be one of the good guys. But maybe not. “Tune in next week, Slayer fans!”

Marebabe said...

Question for Michael: When Nikki introduced you, she said you’ve been a long-time contributor on her blog. What name do you go by in Nik at Niteland? I’m thinkin’ that you and I have probably tossed lots of ideas around in recent years, discussing LOST, but I just wasn’t calling you Michael. (And if you prefer to remain anonymous, that’s cool, too!)

Dusk said...

Balthazar reminded me of a slimy version of The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.

I love Xander's crazy running music.

Wouldn't Oz have woken up out of his cage with zombie gunk all over him?

Buffy does "corruption of a hero" very well. You can already clearly see this will have a big impact on everyone. Closest Lost had was Michael killing the women, and it was never dveloped much, and his attepts at redemption with Jin and Hurley fell short to me.

Alyson is a good cryer, but I was still annoyed with Willow. She's happy with Oz, so isn't she over Xander now. And Xander doesn't have to tell them private stuff, even if they have been BFFs.

I think the Mayor became my 2nd favorite Big Bads around now.

Unknown said...

Totally selfish comment... The link to Watcher Junior is broken. :o

Direct link for those who got lost: http://www.watcherjunior.tv

Unknown said...

And now that I've finished reading the whole post... Nice work, guys! We're definitely hitting the sweet spot of Season 3 now. :D

Unknown said...

Here are the "missing links" (Ah? Ah?? That's funny, right?) for any who might be interested.

K. Dale Koontz's Mockingbird's Nest

K. Dale Koontz's Unfettered Brilliance

Watcher Junior

Slayage 5

Solomon Mao's

The Question Mark said...

"I Only Have Eyes For You" used to be my favourite Buffy episode, but "The Zeppo" has now surpassed it. What an amazing, hilarious, cleverly-written hour of television! Everything from Xander's eagerness to help out and his disappointment at being labelled "useless"...to Giles pouting about the fact that Buffy ate all of the jelly donuts...to all of the hysterical ways the writers poked fun at formulas like "This Week's Bringer of Apocalypse" and "This Week's Tender Buffy & Angel Scene"...to Oz leaping out of that boiler room door and ripping the bully to shreds. Everything came full circle in a wonderfully perfect way. 10 out of 10, 5 stars, first class!

For those of you who are FUTURAMA fans, the man who wrote "The Zeppo", Dan Vebber, became a regular writer on Futurama in its third season, and he's produced some awesome scripts there as well. Check out an episode he penned this very season, called "A Clockwork Origin": the crew visits a planet that is inhabited entirely by mechanical flora & fauna, (including metallic trees, and robotic dinosaurs & cavemen) but evolution still manages to take place. It's brilliant.

Page48 said...

Here's a glamorous job: pouring water on Balthazar. Giles would rather be killed straight away than to have to scrub Balthazar's hard-to-reach areas. I'm with you, Giles!

In "The Zeppo", when the dead boys are "shopping" for cake mix at the hardware store, I wanted to slap Xander silly for not putting pedal to the metal to get the hell out of there before they came back to the car.

Bob's (almost) first thought after being raised was to make sure his pal was taping "Walker: Texas Ranger" for him. I love it. Personally, I wouldn't waste the tape, but that's just me.

Could they not just tranq Oz-wolf while he was still in the cage?

Wesley has arrived. I love Wes. From his humble beginnings as the new Watcher, his character development has to be seen to be believed. He's just one of many reasons that "Angel" is must see TV for anyone who enjoys BtVS.

I love Wes's reaction when Cordy explains that she doesn't "teach" psychology, she "takes" psychology.

Copy to clipboard. I am SO ready for you, Blogger.

Unknown said...

I absolutely love the Zeppo and never remember it bothering me that we didn't get the whole story on the rest of the Scooby gang. I actually thought it sort of bordered on parody of all the apocalypse(s), the monster-of-the-week, Giles' heartfelt sighs and Buffy and Angel's dramarama.

My absolute favorite moment in The Zeppo is when Xander is interrogating the zombie about the location of the bomb and knocks the guy's head off before getting through his question! So funny.

Re: Faith. I would argue that we know a lot about her character's backstory already. Watchers: 3 so far, 2 have betrayed her, 2 are dead. Parents: completely absent. Friends: none. Attitude toward sexual/romantic relationships: purely transactional and/or impulse/physical need fulfillment. Lower socioeconomic background from speech and dress cues. Lack of education or expectation to achieve anything in life.

I get really mad at Faith and the choices she makes, and I don't think her background excuses her decisions, but I feel like we already have an explanation, and I do feel empathy (if not sympathy, exactly) for her.

verification word: perpsess--how police refer to lots and lots of perps.

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Don't worry about the academic creds, Michael. You done great!

My two cents:

Zeppo starts by focusing on every Scoobie, including Faith, but Xander is missing (under the rubble.) He's alienated from the group, but this is his episode. His episode about feeling alienated from the group.

How did Faith know that the demon was a girl? Or did they already know that they're the sisterhood?

Xander looks very young when he first meets O'Toole, but so much older by the end of the episode.

Angel looks very Batman when he comes into the Bronze. But why was he expected to come into Willie's? Does he hang out there? 'Sometimes you need to brood, sometimes you just need a brew.'

Does Buffy eat all the jellies as revenge for Helpless? Well played, Ms Summers.

If the boiler is in the basement and the basement is always locked, how was Buffy going to show her mom the boiler room in School Hard? (Yes, I actually think about stuff like this.)

Willow, referring to the averted apocalypse, says "No one will ever know what we did". And no one will know what Xander did, and how brave he was.

In BG - did Faith not know Xander was a virgin when she's talking to Buffy? Is her attention span that short? Or was she just hoping Buffy was interested in Xander so she could rub it in that she'd deflowered him?

The Mayor is a germophobe, but he keeps his booze in a cabinet with dead, decaying things.

Someone should do a post about costuming in Buffy. This one is obvious - Buffy's clothing becomes gradually more black, like Faith's, then is pastel again at the end.

My big shock of the episode? I've seen this how many times, and never realized that Balthazar was Christian Clemenson! I've loved him since Brisco County Jr.

If I might be allowed a Dancing with the Stars spoiler from last season - Buffy jumps up on Angel the same way Eliza jumped up on her boyfriend Rick Fox in one episode.

Giles is lucky Buffy has such good aim - he was micro-milimetres from losing a hand when she cut his ropes.

If Cordy is jailbate to Wes, what is Buffy to Angel? Angel has hundreds of years on him. ;)

There's a shot I loved of Angel in the shadows with his face illuminated. I also noticed the oner Michael mentioned and was very impressed.

Is Faith better than Buffy? Faith sees power as better, Buffy sees morality.

All the forensic stuff reminded me of Agent Booth. I love Angel, but I love Booth more. :)

Unknown said...

I thought there was another breif sympathy moment for Faith when she and Buffy went to the Demon who was selling the bool's apartment and Buffy said, "This wan'st judt a killing but a party for someone" or something like that.
Faith briefly looked really hurt by this and said, "maybe he put up a fight."
I think she regretted what she had done.

Joan Crawford said...

Aw! Cute baby! I want to eat his cheeks! *nom nom nom*

Missy said...

'The Zeppo'
To be completely honest it took quite afew rewatches for me to understand the brilliance that is 'The Zeppo'
I mean adore Xander & my Faith Obsession is legendary....but ironically I was always turned off by the Buffy Apocalypes scenes.
Xander sees things that others don't and funnily enough reacts more fittingly to the scenarios.
It really is a Xander Defining Ep.
'Bad Girls'
Speaking of my Faith Obsession ,Patrol goes horribly wrong tonight and both Slayers are shaken.
Dpty Mayor Allan Finch is on the ouchy end of a Stake....he dies and the Mayor feels so-so about his "Disappearence".
Belthazor is sooo gross...and has groupies that dress like bees.
The Great Wesley Wyndam-Price makes his 1st appearence(Nikki is right Wesley will become an extrodinary character).
And this ep marked my declining feelings for one Miss Buffy Summers
Oh yes she does the unthinkable and blames the whole accident on Faith.
I'm of the mind that both girls are responsable,But who do the Watchers Council try to "Rehabilatate" just Faith.
And Buffy's pretty much okay with that....I don't dismiss Buffy's shame or self analizing,I just can't get on board with the whole Faith is the only one responsable.
Mr. Trick gets staked...kinda sad to see him go.
One of my fav sequences is in this ep it's starts with Willow breaking down after learning what Xander & Faith did in 'The Zeppo' and ends with Xander coming to Faiths defence...not only are the pictures beautiful but the song 'Wish we never met' (by Kathleen Wilhiote)
seals the deal for me.
The ep ends on Faith taking the dearly departed Mr. Tricks spot as the Mayor right hand...though it might not look like it now it's the start of a beautiful relationship.

Lesley C said...

I've been really, really out of it recently (traveling and battling a cold) so this is my first chance to comment on the rewatch in weeks. What a great week to come back!

I cried with Willow upon learning of Xander's night with Faith. Just because she has Oz doesn't mean she's stopped loving Xander. She tried to take her relationship with Oz to the next level and couldn't (because of Oz). Some of her feelings must also deal with a feeling of being "left behind."

I have a serious love/hate relationship with Xander at moments. He can be so wonderful and then such an ass to everyone. "The Zeppo" really made me see him in another light. I can't believe how multi-dimensional all of the characters are. Now I guess I'll have to wait to find out the other dimensions of Wesley...

Who was the girl that talked cars with Xander in "The Zeppo"? She looked familiar - have we seen her before? Will we see her again?

Buffy had one hell of a scratch/cut on her arm in the Bronze during "Bad Girls." She must have been running on some serious endorphins and adrenaline to dance like crazy and the throw herself into Angel's arms without it hurting.

I don't buy that Faith has killed one man and now has "a taste for it." Angelus had a taste for it because he had no soul. Faith still has a soul, it's just buried/cordoned off by all her walls. It peeks through, occasionally. I'm with Buffy: I think she can be redeemed. And I actually think her dark side was good for Buffy; you can't do the right thing all the time. I read somewhere that the brighter a person's character, the darker the shadow in their soul. They're certainly setting up that scenario by playing Faith off Buffy.

That being said, I was shocked when Faith showed up at the Mayor's office at the end of the episode. I almost watched ep. 3.16 to see what happens next. Can't wait for Week 18!

Colleen/redeem147 said...

How is Buffy responsible? She tried to warn Faith, who didn't listen and stabbed the little guy in the heart, then insisted they cover it up. She then lied to Giles and said Buffy had staked him.

Not a Faith fan, myself.

Suzanne said...

I agree about Buffy not being responsible in any way that I can see. She and Faith were both in the heat of the moment fighting the vamps when they turned a corner and were surprised by the deputy mayor. Buffy realized he was human and said, "Faith," to try to stop her, but it was too late.

I am not sure I blame Faith either for the initial act since she might not have been able to stop in time. However, I blame her a lot for her actions afterward. Buffy tried so many times to reach Faith by trying to tell her that she understood and that she knew Faith couldn't help it, but that they still had to enlist the help of Giles to see what they should do. I also blame Faith a lot for betraying Buffy so blatantly by trying to pin the murder on Buffy. I also blame her quite a bit more than the Scoobies seemed to for almost killing Xander. I am not at all convinced that she wouldn't have succeeded in killing him if Angel hadn't stopped her. Yet, even after all of this, Buffy still went to find her at the end of the episode and tried to convince her to come back and to get help from her "friends." Buffy and the others, for that matter, did a lot more than most people would in the same situation.

I am not a big Faith fan either even though I like the tension she brings to the show.

In response to an earlier comment about Willow's reaction to finding out about Xander and Faith, I was puzzled by this, too. Even though scenes where Willow cries are always very touching, it seemed odd that it would impact her this much after she has been reunited with Oz. It seemed a bit forced.

Lisa(until further notice) said...

I've been behind in recent weeks because of family blah blah blah's that have been extremely important, yet getting in the way of my yah yahs. The Great Buffy rewatch being considered a yah yah to other people in my family. Point taken. Do you understand what I'm saying?

I've still been able to watch, even though sometimes I've needed to cram all 3 episodes in on the day of the post, just so I won't be completely out of the game, but unable to come up with anything post-worthy.

So, with that said, and my being completely blahd and yahd out of it by family obligations, I'd have to say that all I have to offer to the table this week is about The Zeppo. In this episode, Xander completely reminded me of the character Chandler Bing of "Friends" fame. Very self depricating and extremely humourous, yet noteworthy and very much devoted to his friends. I was drawn to Nicholas Brenden's portrayal in this episode more than any other thus far in the series. It shows us exactly how things really are as we try to be a part of a group, yet we are really only viewed as who we are based on how we are perceived to the group as a whole.

I loved the ending when Xander just looked at Cordy, smiled, and walked away. Cordy could only wonder what had just happened and say, "What, what?"


Dusk said...

Yes, it's totally plausible Willow feels left behind, being of the Three she's the one with the least "expirence" now, but it came across as her stil wanting Xander.

She's had plenty of chances now, that's why it came across as off to me.

Sort of like Xander's confidence in his strength. Cordy says as much in the Zeppo, he can be considered weak because he has no powers or a Ripper side. But this actually gave him a boost, but also showed he's humble enough not to boast.

Anne said...

Missy said: Oh yes she does the unthinkable and blames the whole accident on Faith.
I'm of the mind that both girls are responsable,But who do the Watchers Council try to "Rehabilatate" just Faith.

I think what happened was both Buffy's and Faith's fault, they were both there, they both reacted on impulse (stealing, causing a car accident, they were both sort of on the same emotional level). I aggree that they are both responsible, however, it is their reaction to what happened that make us question Faith mental stability, we all remember how "killing Ted" affected Buffy, being responsible for somebody's death is unberable and you loose a part of yourself, to act like it doesn't matter is not ok morally (it either means your in denial, don't want to fall appart, or your a psychopath). I'm not saying shes a psychopath but this behavior could make an outsider question it. It is my opinion that buffy tries to reach out to her, to reach out to her humanity (or what is left of it) to try to save her from herself, from the evil within.

I think they both have a dark side but the difference is buffy tries to control hers, not let it consume her. It is alot easier to go on like nothing happened than to face the consequences of your actions and live with it every day.

Buffy knows its her fault to, because she could of stopped it (not steal and say no to Faith when they caused the car accident...ect) she knows if she would have listened to Willow and not embrace her dark side this would never have happened. (which is why the previous episode's title is perfect "Bad Girls" Buffy knows shes been a bad gril, but she made a mistake and is willing to pay for her actions (going to the police) even though at first she lies to the cops to protect herself and Faith

Missy said...

Both Reactions to the Event are understandable.....If you look at the background of both girls
And yes Faith reaction is completely sociopathic(and I truely think she is and has been for most of her life)
Buffy is upset/destraught but because she has people willing to back her up is in the long run....okay with her part in the ACCIDENT.
My problem lies in that she wont take credit for her part...and she has a part,She pushed what she thought was a Vamp into Faiths path...Faith staked Dpty Mayor Finch/what she thought was a vamp the speed with which these girls fight is insane.
It's just Buffy never acted like she did the pushing and sort of clinged to the "I told her to stop, but she didn't" idea.
I try to avoid sounding like those people that can't see the grey in the Buffyverse...Lol so please don't take this as one tracked.
I totally agree that Faith's reaction is Unhealthy and in the context of the show Evil.
I like to see the flaws in Heroes...which is why I try to point out Buffys misdoings when people ....prefer to keep her on a pedestal.
Okay I'm going to shutup..I usually get into trouble defending Faith.

JS said...

Great analysis from our guest writers!


Funny, with Zeppo, I got right away that the story was about Xander, and the gang was dealing with yet another apocalypse. Though it was serious, it looked kind of ridiculous as apocalypses go, and of course the irony is this is that this is probably the way it seems to the rest of the gang. Yet another apocalypse where Xander is not vital to the battle. Maybe he always is, like he was this time, and they just do not know it.

Actor watch - the football player - Michael Cudlitz - is one of the lead actors on Southland, which, interestingly (or not), also has an episode named Graduation Day.

Anne said...


You have every right to defend Faith, I do agree with you that sometimes she needs defending, as we (me) tend to forget that she does not have the support system that Buffy has, that she has serious trust issues. She feels alone in this (Buffy has Willow, Giles, her mom) she has nobody. Also following the events of ''Revelations'' she doesn't have a lot of reason to trust Buffy and with reason.(i don't think she forgave Buffy completely for her betrayal in that episode) She has no guarantee that Buffy won't rat her out ot Giles or to the police, but it doesn't mean that she has to go behind Buffy's back and lie to Giles. We know that Buffy was on her way to tell Giles something ( i think it is the truth, but I may be biaised).

I think that if Faith were to be convicted (ruled as not an accident or self defense) thant Buffy would also be found responsible and most likely also convicted. I also believe that her first instinct would be to protect herself ( I'm not guilty, it's not my fault...human being's selfish nature), however she doesn't use this as an excuse to act all psychotic and crazy (choking Xander, who knows what would have happened if Angel would not have intervened)

Here again one of our scoobies is caught in her line of fire, I can't help but to take Xander side even though he annoys me to end sometimes.

I have to say that I do love Faith, for what she brings to the show, Buffy's dark side, sexual tension, different point of view, but mostly the grey (even though it was definatly touched by the Angelus arc)

On both accounts I can't agree with her actions, but her being wrong here doesn't mean I hate the character.

It is my belief that at this point in the series Buffy has surpassed the only white and black view of the world(Angelus arc helped that), and thats why she's one of the only scooby who really tries to help her.

In my book Faith=grey, which makes the character that more interesting and layered (One of the things I love about the BuffyVerse). As a viewer I can understand both Buffy's and Faith's reaction to the events, which makes it almost impossible to hate either (for me), but I can dislike some of their actions, never their character.
I must say that I enjoy our discussion, and you are making me wanting to go see the episode again from Faith's point of view.
Another reason why this verse rocks is that we can have these sor of discussion.

So thks Missy and please don't feel the need to shut up on my account, beaucase different point of view are always appreciated (for me)...goes off to rewatch episode...k not true...but when I get home

P.S Sorry for any mistakes, french is my first language.

Efthymia said...

Late to the party! (Actually, I was on time, but then had some internet issues...grrr...)

"The Zeppo":
I was really anticipating this episode, remembering it very fondly, so I was surprised that by the end of it I had taken no notes down. I guess it's more of a "sit and enjoy" episode for me...

"Bad Girls":
- I feel kind of sorry for Wesley --he IS stuck-up and at times annoying and he does follow rules too rigidly, but he's trying to do his job the way he was taught and he thinks is the right way; the Scoobies had decided to hate him from the moment he arrived. (I can't for the life of me remember if I felt this way the first time I watched this episode or if these feelings came with the rewatches.)
- The Mayor's list!:)
- I think this would have been a better episode if it wasn't for Balthazar: he looks and sounds very riddiculous and very fake, and I can't take him, or any situation involving him, seriously.

- I really like that in the news report they use the word 'slain'.
- In the fight-on-the-docks sequence, why are the vampires growling so much? They sound like rabid dogs...

ribby said...

Did no one else but me feel intensely uncomfortable watching Xander get sexually assaulted by Faith in consequences. That was... ugh.. that was graphic. I could be overacting but because of that scene the whole episode left a bad taste in my mouth and I’m worried the show’s going to blow over it like it ain’t no thang. And not one comment about it? Were things really so different in 2011? Yuck

ribby said...

All I’m saying is I’ll be angry if she gets to have a redemption arc. She can’t use the “I didn’t have a soul though” excuse