Monday, April 30, 2012

The Zeppo

Whereby Zander Zaps the Zombies singlehandedly...

This is one of my favorite episodes of Buffy, and I will give you a little background, but MOSTLY, I think it is just instructive as to what makes a really great tale.

The Zeppo Plot Summary:

See... Zander (yes, I know officially this starts with X, since it is part of Alexander, but for Z day, let's go with it...) is the character who is NEVER something special. Buffy is the Slayer. Willow is a powerful witch. Oz is a werewolf... everybody is something special, but... and Cordelia says it best (if most cruelly)

"'Cool.' Look it up. It's something that a subliterate that's repeated 12th grade three times has and you don't. There was no part of that that wasn't fun."

Or worse: “It must be really hard when all your friends have like, superpowers: slayers, werewolves, witches, vampires, and you're like this little nothing. You must feel like Jimmy Olsen.” (for non-Superman aficionados, this is a Superman reference to an ordinary guy who is often a liability)

Zander is trying to prove himself 'cool'--he borrows his uncles cool old car, but Buffy and the gang STILL send him off 'for his own safety' while they head to fight a big nasty. Zander earns the notice of a pack of tough guys who proceed to rob a hardware store (for... uh oh... a lot of explosives...) ... who... it turns out... are also dead.

The gang really DOES have a big nasty to fight... there is a monster at the school... But everybody is CLUELESS as to the Zombie plan that Zander has to singlehandedly undermine...

The Beauty of this Episode

Zander, with his no-particular-talent, has to find something in himself that he can do BETTER than the supernatural... better than the powerful... Just... BETTER. And he DOES. And the ripple effects are big. People notice. His very person is changed due to this thing he does that nobody knows about.

This episode earned an emmy nomination because I think it really speaks to people. We don't MIND having great friends, but it can be tiring to ALWAYS take backseat. Wouldn't it be FABULOUS to dig into what is inside of us and SUCCEED in squishing whatever evil we come across.

And heck... the aura change is palpable... Zander even gets laid for it...

How We APPLY It...

I don't think it is as simple as starting ordinary and doing great things. You have to earn reader love in more normal ways... you have to be a good supporting actor before you earn center stage. At least Zander did... and I think this particular case of 'ordinary boy makes good' is more powerful than it often is.

In this case the BATTLE is thought to be ELSEWHERE. The HERO has discounted him. Buffy has said they are all better off is ZANDER is safely elsewhere. But there is a battle on an unknown playing field that the big fish don't even know about...

HECK—we ALL think this could be us, don't we? And isn't THAT the level at which things go viral?

How do you like Zeppo tales?


Old Kitty said...

Ahem. I've never really watched Buffy. I saw the film but the series... erm...! BUT!! Hooorah for Zander getting laid and coming to the front from the back!! Poor soul!! Good for him!!

Yayyayayayayyay!! You made it to a most NAKED Z!!!!!!!!! Well done you! Take care

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We can all do it by being the best us.
And if he got laid for his efforts, that means at some point he was naked. Knew you'd work naked into this somehow!

Sarah Ahiers said...

Love that episode! It was just handled so well.
Xander has a lot of parallels to Ron in HP, i think.
Man, i miss Buffy

M.J. Fifield said...

That is a great episode of a great series, especially the scene where he faces off with the zombie guy in the school basement over the bomb.

"Being blown up isn't walking around, drinking with your buddies dead..."

Anonymous said...

What a great writing lesson. We just have less time to get the readers on board than a long-running TV series. Today's Z posts are awesome, and all so different!


Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

I've never really watched this show; I wasn't really watching t.v. much when this show was running though.

This does sound like a great story though and I know that I would like it.

Happy last day of A-Z!

Kathy M.

Johanna Garth said...

I LOVE Buffy and Z(X)ander was great in this episode. Congrats on finishing A-Z!

Jocelyn Rish said...

That was an excellent episode of Buffy (but then most of them were). And it really hits on how must of us are ordinary folks just longing to be the superhero for a moment.

Congrats on completing the A to Z challenge!

Lisa said...

I do feel so sorry for those who haven't watched Buffy. I own every season! My daughter has all her favorite episodes memorized and we can sing along with every song on the "musical" episode. This was a great post! Thanks, and glad I'm finally making it to more blogs from the a to z!