“If the apocalypse comes, beep me.”
It’s easy to see why the legacy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer still means so much, 20 years after Buffy Summers was first dropped off by her mom at Sunnydale High School. We’ll always need protection from demons, whether physical, fictional or anonymously sat behind a laptop screen, but Buffy was different from your regular run-of-the-mill hero. She not only kicked the shit out of evil, but empowered every woman, misfit, weirdo and queer to do the same.
By the show’s end in 2003, Buffy would make slayers of us all… potentially.
Perhaps there’s no-one more aware of the power of the Hellmouth and the evils that lurk within than The Potentials, a trio of Buffy concept punx from London.
The band consists of Holly (guitar and vocals), Shahnaz (bass and vocals) and Zak (drums and vocals), and together they dish out perfect little pointy steaks of spiky punk, redolent of early Sleater-Kinney or Bikini Kill – they are in two words, fucking heroes.
Their new EP is called We Are The Potentials, and it features six tracks about “invisible girls, witches/rats, demons/boys on the internet and not being a superhero but giving it a go anyway.” You can download it from their Bandcamp page or order the gorgeously illustrated CD from Keroleen Records.
Saturday 13th August – Nottingham Queerfest, JT Soar, Nottingham (The Potentials only)
Sunday 14th August – Veg Bar, Brixton, London, w/ Doe
Monday 15th August – Hope & Ruin, Bristol
Tuesday 16th August – Fuel Café Bar, Manchester, w/ Grotbags
Wednesday 17th August – Little Buildings Rehearsal Studio, Newcastle, w/ Solanas
Thursday 18th August – Dusk, York, w/ Sherbert FLIES
Friday 19th August – Wharf Chambers, Leeds, w/ c r u m b s
Saturday 20th August – The Audacious Art Experiment, Sheffield
In the meantime, I asked Holly, Shahnaz and Zak the question that they will probably be sick of answering by the end of their tour… What are The Potentials favourite ever Buffy episodes?
‘I Robot… You, Jane’ [Season 1, Episode 8 – 1997]
Holly: It feels like every 90s TV show had an episode about the evils of the internet, and Buffy was no exception. A classic monster of the week episode gives season 1 Willow some centre-stage action with a demon on the internet promising love but delivering nothing but evil. This episode possibly foreshadowed the abuse and dick pix women would be receiving online 20 years later.
‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’ [Season 1, Episode 11 – 1997]
Shahnaz: Known to most people, both superfans and laypeople alike as The Invisible Girl and to The Potentials as Clea Duvall, ‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’ is a monster of the week episode with huge significance. Most of us remember what it felt like to be so weird or unpopular that no-one knew we were there, but what if our own anxiety made us truly invisible? And what if that in turn made us vengeful monsters? This episode empathetically deals with all of these issues, and is the first time we find out the government in the Buffyverse are aware of supernatural activity, which sadly foreshadows the Initiative. *Puke Face*
‘Prophecy Girl’ [Season 1, Episode 12 – 1997]
Zak: I still say this is my favourite episode of Buffy, and therefore TV, EVER! I know everyone’s a season 1 critic these days but fuck it. Packed full of acting (SMG is off the HOOK amazing in this episode), punning, heartbreak and melodrama it’s just everything I want and need from Buffy at all times. Oh plus some vamps.
‘Graduation Day’ Parts 1 & 2 [Season 3, Episodes 21 & 22 – 1999]
Shahnaz: Echoing what Holly will mention later, we could definitely overplay the season finales here, but when I watched these final two episodes as a teenager I felt incredibly satisfied with television in a way that I’d never felt before. It was so complete, so enjoyable, so full of drama! I wont list the twists and turns throughout this finale, but my heart soars at the ending with the whole school coming together with one purpose, to defeat the mayor. Only in my dreams did this kind of camaraderie truly exist!
‘Who Are You?’ [Season 4, Episode 16 – 2000]
Holly: Who doesn’t love a body swap episode? Driven by revenge and aided by a bit of magic, Faith swaps bodies with Buffy. Sarah Michelle Gellar acting as Faith acting as Buffy is a true sight to see, but to teenage queer me I was much more interested in the 2 second scene of Faith-in-Buffy’s-Body getting to grips with her new skin and treating herself to a bath. I spent my queer teenage years reading/writing fan fiction about this scene because she obviously had a wank in that scene right? RIGHT?
‘Family’ [Season 5, Episode 6 – 2000]
Zak: This episode was HUGE for any young queers watching, including us queers in the band. It addresses the chosen family rather than your blood family and how that is more important a lot of the time. As queers, we often get a lot of hatred and bigotry and violence directed at us from our blood relatives, so chosen family is the most important thing for a lot of us and this episode is essentially a 45 minute reflection of that.
‘Checkpoint’ [Season 5, Episode 12 – 2001]
Holly: ‘Checkpoint’ is the episode I watch when I wanna get shit done! Buffy telling the Watchers Council to get to fuck is all the pep talk I need.
Shahnaz: This episode is such a revelation for Buffy, she realises that she doesn’t need the watchers council, they need her. She has all the power, they don’t. It’s powerful and inspiring, just like her.
Zak: There isn’t much to add to the above comments except “Willow is a demon!?!?!”
‘The Gift’ [Season 5, Episode 22 – 2001]
Holly: It’s possible to make a list of Buffy episodes from season finales alone, but this is the most perfect episode of Buffy for me. It has it all – heroic speeches, scoobies in action, Giles killing a mortal, end of the world stuff and, of course, the biggest sacrifice of all. Having gone through the whole of season 5 hating Dawn, I felt the biggest pang of empathy as she neatly folds her clothes and places them ever so gently under a chair before the end of the world is about to begin, showing that she truly believes that her big sister will come save the world before it’s too late.
‘Villains’ [Season 6, Episode 20 – 2002]
Shahnaz: One line from this episode sums it up perfectly: “the girl is running on pure fury” and the girl we speak of is sweet, unassuming, but now grief-ridden Willow. The magicks we’ve seen growing inside her, and not always in the most constructive way, finally break out big time and Ally Hanny completely steals the show in her hunt for the foul, power-hungry little creep, Warren. I love how Buffy in this episode reminds us that despite everything, Warren has a right to life, challenging the audience (me) that we cannot applaud Willows actions (which I do) and ultimately reminding us that Buffy is a very special show which forces us to think about our own morality.
‘Selfless’ [Season 7, Episode 5 – 2002]
Zak: Jeez I’m picking the maudlin ones eh? Anya’s origin episode and also just the most heartbreaking, gut wrenching fighting and drama and lots of flashbacks (but good ones, not Irish Angel kind). Humour too but mostly this one rips out your heart and stomps it on the floor. Anya 4eva!
Bonus round: worst Buffy episode ever – ‘Beer Bad’ [Season 4, Episode 5 – 1999]
Shahnaz: oh my goddess, it’s like a rejected script from a cautionary Halloween episode of saved by the bell – no shade to saved by the bell.
Holly: The only good thing about this episode is seeing Parker get knocked out.
Zak: Beer bad? No. Episode bad? Yes.
The Potentials are on tour from 13th August, and the We Are The Potentials EP is out now.
Original artwork for The Potentials by Jack Fallows.