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Stew’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer Retrospective: Season 3, Episode 13

November 3, 2023 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Buffy the Vampire Slayer 3-13 Nicholas Brendan Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV


Episode 13

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

We open up with Buffy Hunting! Ah, back to the comforts of home. Faith, Buffy, Giles, and Willow combine to kill three blue demons. Giles is worried and desperately wants to know what these monsters are.

Oh, it turns out Xander is there, too. He was batted away by the beasts and left lying under some rubble. The scene pays way too much attention to how useless Xander was and how the team wants him to hang back and not… put himself in… peril… oh.

Oh. No.

Oh no.

I don’t… I don’t want a Xander-centric episode. That’s where we’re going, right? Oh no.

Back at school, Xander is on the lawn trying to get the football team guys to toss him the ball like he’s an earnest but ignored puppy. When they finally do, Xander clumsily knocks over some brooding guy’s lunch. His name is Jack O’Toole, I am told, and he threatens to get his boys together and kick Xander’s ass. When Xander gets away from him, Cordelia taunts him for the scene he made. She calls him “a little nothing” and seems greatly pleased with herself.

Are you REALLY trying to paint XANDER as the sympathetic one here, BTVS? Because fuck ALL the way out of here on that one. Cordelia has the right to treat this asshole however she pleases. He ruined her life, cheated on her, and got her impaled, but oh no! She’s snarky about it, so he’s the REAL victim here.

Later at lunch, Xander asks Oz how to be “cool” like him. Xander decides he needs a shtick. Something to hang his hat on. To be The ____ Guy. But what is the ____? That’s the key.

Buffy’s hair is all wavy like it’s wet and she forgot to dry it. I hate it! She and Giles discuss the blue demons. They are in SunnyDale to reopen the Hellmouth and end the world, of course. As they talk, Oz comes in and locks himself in library jail. Giles gives him shit for cutting it so close to sundown, but don’t worry: that line doesn’t pay off at all by episode’s end.

Buffy invites Willow to help her study up on the blue demons and find a resolution. Xander pulls up in a classic blue convertible, and I’d be more descriptive, but I know as much about cars as I do heart surgery. When I saw it, I just thought, “Oh, it’s one of those old metal cars that would kill the hell out of you if you wrecked it”. So that’s all I got. Xander is The Classic Car Guy now, he says! Anyway, Buffy and Willow send him on a donut run for their study session. That’s what he is good for.

That’s right! I’m glad all the characters are getting on board with me. Always get rid of Xander.

At the donut shop, Xander runs into Cordelia who continues to heckle him, but as she does so, a nameless hot blonde pulls up. She is infatuated with Xander’s car and wants to go cruising with him.

Later on, Xander and the blonde are at The Bronze, and she is talking endlessly about heart surgery. Or cars. I couldn’t really tell. Xander is visibly bored (I empathize) until he spies Angel walking by. He tries to get a lifeline from Angel to get away from the boring girl, but Angel tells him to just stay away because there is currently too much danger.

Xander and Blondie leave The Bronze, with Xander bitching about not being viewed as helpful. So I guess he just spilled the whole enchilada about demons and everything to this lady? And he’s lamenting his friends won’t let him fight them? But she doesn’t seem fazed, so who knows? As he tries to pull away, he rear-ends a car. The dreaded JACK O’TOOLE’S car, no less!

We get a cutaway scene of Buffy and Willow studying. When Giles walks in, they report they ate all of the jelly donuts, which are Giles’ favorite. He laments the lack of donuts, but they all agree everything is too dangerous to call Xander and send him back out.

Back at the Bronze, Jack pulls out a god damn Crocodile Dundee “THIS is a knife” knife on Xander! The knife is called “Katie”, and hey: Jack has a gimmick, too. He pins Xander down on the hood of his car and is about to do every viewer of this show a huge favor… until a police officer shows up. Saving Xander? Turns out it’s true; A.C.A.B.

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox TV

Xander refuses to snitch, but also gives a weird “We aren’t gay, either” line because it’s 1999, and gay panic is becoming all the rage in teenage comedy. Jack likes that Xander did not snitch. Hmmm. The last time something like this happened, we had Hypno-Hyenas. Jack insists they take Xander’s car to go gather his buddies and hang out. Xander, not snitching, and a group of ne’er-do-wells? This is literally the Hypno-Hyenas plotline again, actually.

It turns out Jack’s friends are zombies that he revives via a ritual, and this finally sends Blondie off screaming. And HOLY CRAP, YOU GUYS. I’ve SEEN this episode before.

There are less than five episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer I have actually seen before and remember. I noted at the start of this series that I swear to god a former ex of mine made me watch the first four episodes of the first season, but when I started these reviews, nothing about them rang a bell. But at this point of this episode, the pieces fell into place in my brain. This is one of the few I have seen! Oh god, I saw The Xander Episode! Yuck, I feel unclean. When I saw this the first time, I had no idea how abhorrent he was yet.

Giles has summoned some… magic cloud? And is asking it for guidance. It basically tells him to bugger off. Xander shows up to ask Giles for help with his zombies, but Giles tells HIM to bugger off.

I feel like every character this episode really GETS me, guys.

At the informant bar, Buffy finds a bloody and battered Willy. Willy tells her whatever is happening with the blue demons is happening TONIGHT.

Xander is stuck driving around Jack and the zombies (band name, am I right?), when one of them reports he wants to make a cake. So they have Xander stop at a hardware store, and XANDER DOES NOT QUESTION THIS AT ALL. You fucking buffoon. While they break into the store, he spots Willow coming out of the witchcraft store, which I guess has no problem finding employees despite their high murder turnover rate.

Willow gives him a hug and wishes him well, but bad things are going down and the team needs her. How would this episode have gone if they hadn’t made her a witch yet? She would be useless, too.

Jack thinks Xander is trying to run away when he isn’t in the car, so maybe he isn’t fully committed to their cause. They decide to initiate him… by killing him. Xander points out that Jack isn’t dead, but au contraire! He actually is! He was just revived by his family within ten minutes so he was never buried, nor did he rot. Xander manages to escape in his car.

Faith is in heated battle with a blue demon when a panicked Xander runs it over to save her. And that… kills it? They don’t seem that imposing, do they? I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised by that on this show anymore, but SOMEHOW I STILL AM.

He drives Faith back to her hotel, and it seems fighting the blue demons has given her the blue balls. She comes on strong to Xander, and he uses Network TV Language to say he is a virgin (wait, I think you can just say that on network TV, right?). It was heavily implied earlier in sex ed class that Cordy and Xander had done it, but it WAS just an implication I could have misinterpreted, so I’ll allow this.

Faith and Xander bang, and I ask my wife “is this episode a dream?”. Faith then immediately kicks him out of her room.

At the library, Oz is in werewolf form and REALLY wound up. It’s lucky that he is, like, the one monster on this show incapable of breaking out of library jail. Giles decides to get him away from close proximity to the Hellmouth, so he and Willow sedate him to transfer him elsewhere. Foreshadowing I did NOT pick up on!

Xander, back in his car, finally notices that what the zombies took from the hardware store was bomb material. HEY, YOU CAN’T MAKE A CAKE WITH THAT!

Cut to: Buffy and Angel having a VERY dramatic argument while impactful music plays. Angel is willing to sacrifice himself to save the day! Buffy won’t let him! They love each other, damn it! Then Xander shows up and we just short of get a record scratch as they stare at him. He realizes they have their own shit going on, so he slinks away. And in the single greatest moment in the series to this point, they turn to face each other again and the melodramatic music kicks back in.

I love this episode for taking the piss out of itself like that. I see you, show. Respect.

Back at school, Giles and Willow are doing a binding spell in the library. The camera view pans down, and we see the zombies planting their bomb in the boiler room.

As the zombies leave the school, Xander finds them. He grabs one and drives off, hanging it out the side of his car. He pumps him for info, but before the zombie can tell him how to disarm the bomb, Xander accidentally beheads him on a road sign. Ha! Why can’t we get more of THIS Xander? Comically inept, but not a douche? This whole series would be better if he had been this guy from the start.

At school, the Hellmouth monster is unleashed and is attacking the gang! But that’s not actually our story, so we skip to Xander running from the zombies in the hall like a Scooby-Doo episode. One of the zombies comically runs past the library door, then stops and comes back to see if he saw what he thought he saw.

I would give this episode–I would give this WHOLE SERIES–five stars if they would have fully committed to the gag and had a hallway of doors, with Xander and the zombies chasing each other into and out of them, each coming out a different door than they had gone into.

Xander kills one zombie by knocking a vending machine onto its head. A blue demon strikes and kills another. So it’s just Xander and Jack by the time Xander finds the bomb.

There’s not enough time for Jack to escape the blast radius of the bomb at this point, so Xander rolls Intimidate and Nat 20’s him: being Blown Up Dead is different than being Walking Around And Talking Dead. Jack disarms the bomb with seconds to spare. As Xander leaves, Jack swears revenge… until he opens the emergency exit and Oz pounces him.

After school the next day, we have MORE DRAMATIC MUSIC playing as the gang–covered in the marks of battle–talk about their hard-fought win to save the world. Xander approaches to sit with them, and they let him know how lucky he was to be safe at home. Xander merely strolls off. Cordelia taunts him further, but he just smirks at her and walks past, infuriating her.

Because, again, SHE’S the bad guy here.

Man. So close, episode. SO CLOSE.