You may have thought we had made it through the month with no Joss Whedon characters, but take heart! For X is for Xander Harris! Just your average, socially awkward, class clown of a teen, he ends up an integral part of the Scooby Gang in Buffy, saving the world from demons, vampires, and general badness.
Right? He matters, right? The defining Xander episode was The Zeppo, where Xander has a solo adventure while his friends, Buffy and the gang, fight off what is described as “the worst thing they have ever faced” – which happens off-screen. And meanwhile, trying to find his identity and figure out what it is that is his “thing” – what makes him cool or unique – Xander gets mixed up with some undead who want to blow up the high school. He beats them all, and saves the school, while his friends save the world – something they couldn’t have done if they had blown up.
So let me look at Xander, but also at this idea of “the Zeppo,” this character who is at once essential and expendable.