BtvS 3.13

© Text and musical examples: Rob Gokee

Promotional CD tracks

14. Dead guys with bombs (3'07) 64kbps / 192kbps

"Dead Guys with Bombs" is the sole promo track for this episode, but carries the show quite nicely. The cues in the episode revolving around Xander are all variations on this quirky and infectious cue. The use of tremolo violin and timpani are wonderful, and Chris rounds out the cue with percussion by M.B. Gordy and Steve Forman. When the brass does come in to accompany the violin (playing an arpeggiated chromatic line), they complement each other nicely. An epic bridge of brass and percussion comes in at 0'59 to signify the change in scene to the scoobies (minus Xander) fighting to keep the Hellmouth from reopening. At 1'30, the percussion and violin play against each other sparsely in a call and response motif. The brass (and the Hellmouth) returns at 2'07, but the cue quickly reverts back. It ends with more call and response using a bell and stattaco violin.

The episode

Xander is feeling more useless than usual; Cordy refers to him as "the Zeppo" of the group, delegated to getting donuts while the others actually fight the evil. His attempt at being cool leads him to a run-in with Jack O'Toole, a repeat senior at Sunnydale with a chip on his shoulder and a knife in his belt. After Xander covers for him, he takes a liking to him and takes him to the cemetery to "re-group" his dead friends with some voodoo. Meanwhile, the rest of the gang are preparing for another apocalypse, acting as if this could be the end of the world if they fail. Xander escapes from the renegade zombies, and after saving Faith in a demon battle falls victim to her feminine wiles. He leaves her hotel room only to discover the zombies are planning to build a bomb and plant it in the basement of Sunnydale High. As Xander and the zombies race around the school, Buffy, Angel and the scoobies fight the beasts escaping from the Hellmouth, not even remotely aware of Xander's actions or presence. Xander stops Jack and the bomb at the last second, and the scoobs close the 'mouth. Xander ends the episode with a new sense of self worth.

Fun quotation:
Xander: "If anyone sees my spine laying around, try not to step on it."

The music

This episode ranks among one of my favorites for score music. Joss has two storylines going; Xander saving the school and the scoobies fighting the Hellmouth,. Chris splits his cues the same way; the playful "Dead Guys" motif and the epic brass and percussion "End of the World" cues respectively. As the scenes change back and forth during the episode, the cues follow along perfectly. In one scene, Xander is in the cemetery with his new pals, and stumbles across Giles seeking out the Spirit Guides. Chris goes from Xander's theme to Giles as they speak of the apocalypse, and back to Xander's again as he heads back to the car. There is a resurgence of pop music for this episode, used mainly as car stereo background noise for the driving sequences. This episode comes in with around 22 minutes of score music.

Cue notes

All timings are approximate and originate from the region 1 NTSC DVD.


Battle music using short strings as the gang fight, quickly ending in a percussive flourish (which sounds possibly like a gong).


Herder, Nerf. A band of rock.]


"Dodgems" by Sound Stage, Ltd. Plays as Xander attempts to be "cool."]


Short ominous cue (strings) as Jack threatens Xander.


The "Apocalypse Theme" for the first time, using strings playing in four note segments, changing slightly when Oz enters. Fairly dramatic cue, which works well with the writing. On the word "Hellmouth" we arte treated to low synth, choir voices and a howl from wolf Oz.


"Untitled" Lost Angeles Post Music (this was listed as the band and title in the sources I used, though its basic blues rock guitar playing as Xander drives up in his new car).


Strings play as "Big Evil" is mentioned, this transitional cue moves us to Xander and donuts.


"G-Song" by Supergrass in the Bronze.]


Tension in the form of strings as Xander runs into Jack (literally) at the end of act one.


Strings again as Xander faces off against Jack. Chris uses synth effects, strings and mixed percussion which stops at the end of the fight.


Strings (arco and pizz mix) and percussion bring in the first of the "Xander Theme" cues [Ex.1]. A playful live solo violin ushers the dead teenager from his grave, and we end as the zombie emerges and speaks.


The cue returns as Jack and Xander move on to the next corpse. The cue becomes ominous as we find Giles speaking to the Spirit Guides, moving back to the "Apocalypse Theme" as Xander tries to get away from the zombies. The theme is choir-like and string heavy, and as Giles leaves and we refocus on Xander, we find ourselves back to the "Xander Theme", ending the cue on a shot of Buffy and Willie in the bar.


Dramatic strings as Willie waxes poetic about the end of the world, cut off by…


"Easy" by Tricky Woo playing in Xander's car as he motors the dead around town.]


"Dead Guys with Bombs" cue comes in, although it s cut off early. The cue takes a slight shift as Willow hugs Xander, but the promo cue is back as Xander tries to make his escape and we hit the end of act two.


Tremolo violin opens the scene with Xander facing off against "Katie." The violin turns frenzied as Xander tries to run, at which point we switch back to the promo cue. This moves us right into Faith's battle in the park where brass and percussion take over again ("Apocalypse Theme"), ending on Xander and Faith in her room.


Xander's first time. Bells and funky bass open up this cue [Ex.2] and more percussion and strings enter to help build the lack of romance. The strings take over the cue beautifully but are cut short when Faith, post coital, sends Xander back out the door, pants in hand.


Library gang, the "Apocalypse Theme" comes back as Willow sedates Oz. We move back to Xander (and his theme) as he looks at the bomb making materials in his back seat and has his "Ah Ha" moment. We move right back into the promo cue, and then quickly to the "Season Three Love Theme" as we catch Buffy and Angel in a tense moment. A brief appearance of "Close Your Eyes" appears just as Xander spoils the moment.


Back to strings, then the promo cue again, then the "Apocalypse Theme" as the scene change from Xander to the scoobs. We end the cue and the act on the zombies in the school readying the bomb.


Act four opens with drums and strings as Xander tries to get some info from the zombies. We move back to the promo cue in full swing, which ends as Jack surprises Xander in the basement. The cue changes to brass and percussion, fading out as they face off against the bomb.


On the word "quiet" we get a reprise of the promo cue, particularly the brass section playing while the gang fights the Hellmouth. The cue cuts off immediately as we move to Xander, Jack and the bomb in complete silence.


Rising synth as the seconds on the bomb tick by, which stops at disarmament.


Choir and strings as we are treated to the aftermath of the battle by the recovering gang. The cue fades as Xander approaches.


"For the Glory" by Extreme Music (acoustic guitar and drums leading us out of the scene and the episode).]


Nerf out.]

Musical examples

96kbps, including much dialogue and sfx.
Ex.1 [mp3] Xander's Zeppo Theme cue 1: cheeky, 17'54-19'02 [795Kb]
Ex.2 [mp3] Xander's Zeppo Theme cue 2: sensuous, 28'45-30'15 [1.06Mb] [Blunt: Warning, adult content aluded to in dialogue]