This is the first episode that has felt disappointing for a long time, and I think that’s because it lacks thematic depth. I have got used to Buffy having some kind of an issue to explore each week, but this is really little more than a straight-up horror episode. It does that well, with scary moments like the creepy scuttling monster hiding under the bed, or poking its tentacles out of Cordelia’s bag, but I’ve come to expect a little more from this series than some effective horror moments. Added to that problem, we have the Gorch subplot, which seems like an irrelevant distraction just to drag the episode out to the running time.
If there is any kind of an issue being explored here, it’s muddled and unclear. The relationships between Buffy and Angel, and Xander and Cordelia, are becoming more and more passionate (watching all that smooching is wearing a bit thin), so it’s almost like the episode is trying to serve as a warning about what’s going to happen next. In the world of Buffy, desire is dangerous, and that has been a theme right from the start, but the dots are never quite joined with the egg-sitting thing, which is a sex-education technique that relates to the possible consequence of ending up caring for a child. But let’s be realistic, here. Having children isn’t the threat Buffy, Angel, Xander and Cordelia face. In fact, we explicitly get a conversation between Buffy and Angel about how they will never be able to have any. Instead, the danger they all face is the loss of some element of their lives as they are now. That seems the most obvious with Xander and Cordelia. They are keeping their relationship a secret from everyone, because bringing it out into the open will potentially destroy their social circles, a problem for Cordelia in particular, one would assume. The more serious their relationship becomes, the harder it’s going to be to keep it a secret. As for Buffy and Angel, their relationship is a secret only to Joyce, so the consequences of consummation are unclear, except for the discussion between them where Angel expresses concern over Buffy’s future, which can never be anything approaching a normal life, as long as she’s with him.
How does this relate to the eggs? Tangentially, at best. But it is scary (the threat level always goes up a notch when some of the good guys go rogue) and funny (particularly Xander hard-boiling his egg), and anyone who has had kids will know that portraying newborns as monsters who control your lives isn’t actually a million miles away from the truth. It’s just that they tend not to be quite so icky, and they also steal your hearts.
In the end, I think Bad Eggs just feels unimportant as an episode, without much to say. It’s a reasonably effective horror, with a mildly amusing vampire as a distraction, but that’s not enough any more. Ironically, in an episode that leans more towards traditional horror than most, Buffy’s world is starting to feel a little too safe. It’s a long time since she was facing an enemy that seemed like it might defeat her, and we don’t have a Big Bad providing us with a dark cloud hovering over the season. Meanwhile, Buffy has a large support team, so it rarely feels like she is in any kind of danger she isn’t going to be able to cope with. Something needs to happen to shake up her world a bit… RP
The view from the Sunnydale Press…
After what I said last week, I was double-dumbfounded by this week’s episode, Bad Eggs. I mentioned that the series does address things that happen to real teens. When this episode launched into a lesson about sex education, I almost dropped out of my chair. I mean, maybe that’s my own ignorance but I take this show as a teen’s show appealing to high schoolers more than adults. So to talk about sex education like this felt like a gut punch. Did they forget who they were speaking to? But then it hit me: that is the demographic that needs to hear the message: teen pregnancy is a life changer. “Sex leads to responsibilities!” Even Buffy’s mom tells Giles that having a child is “a burden”. Oh, she struggles because she doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her daughter, but that it is a challenge. I have teens of my own, and yes, there are challenges involved. They are worthwhile challenges in the end, but no less troublesome while they are going on. Real teens need to hear that and hearing it from ones parents or teachers might not have the right impact needed to get the message across. But a show they love might be able to get through. So once again Buffy the Vampire Slayer scores big on importance. How does it do in terms of story?
Actually, my B5 comparison continues with Exogenesis, an episode dealing with arachnids that attach to the back of their prey and take control. This idea is not new. In fact, our Babylon 5 write up very clearly links it to an earlier piece from the Outer Limits, The Invisibles. Where Buffy really works is that these creatures are truly disturbing looking. The Invisibles offered some really slow moving motorized “arachnids” and B5 gave us something a bit more like a stationary millipede. But this thing…! When it first hatches out of the egg and touches its tendrils all over Buffy’s sleeping face, I was repulsed! When it sprang out of the egg, I saw the evident hints of Alien. The creature inside the egg is a creature of nightmare. Every scene with the bugs was unnerving. (By contrast, the thing in the floor was silly looking!) So for an episode called Bad Eggs, this one was a good egg indeed.
Even the vampire story, featuring two cliched cowboys couldn’t really stop this one from the momentum it had. (They offered little barring the humorous departure of the surviving brother. “Alright. It’s over!”) Look at some of the small victories that add to a lot: at the very start of the episode, Buffy tries to tell her mom about the vampires which caught me off-guard. While it amounts to nothing (yet?), it was an interesting moment that implied she’s opening up. More than that, the “good Christian values” Xander mentions for the upbringing of his egg (to which Willow reminds him that she’s Jewish) also plays a role in the idea of raising a child and that warrants thinking about… which is at the heart of what is going on with Angel and Buffy. They are thinking about the future. Angel can’t have children with Buffy, yet all either of them want is to be together. Is that teen hormones, the very thing mentioned at the start of the episode? Or does Buffy recognize that she can never have a normal life and she’s embracing it? The whole episode manages to tell a good story and have a moral core. I am impressed.
Does anything take points from this otherwise strong episode? I’m going to say yes, but I can almost ignore it. Buffy and Xander do a bit of research on the creature and luckily there’s a book that explains how they “neural clamp” to their hosts and control them. Yeah, makes sense. But how many books on unknown alien life do we have that accurately explain what is really going on? I just don’t buy that Giles has all these special books that he can always find exactly what he needs. (For a frame of reference, I knew I had a Doctor Who book where it mentions the planet the Doctor goes to in The Rescue, giving it a slight misspelling for the planet Dido. I even remembered what shelf it was on and was pretty sure I knew which book it was in, but it took me DAYS to find the reference anyway! Giles is looking for a reference to a creature he doesn’t even know if there’s a reference to, and yet he always manages to find it! In the words of Job from Arrested Development: Come on!!) And do I get into how Buffy is pulled into the floor, slays the creature without having any room to move, and manages to come back out of the hole only slightly goo’d up by the creatures innards? Shouldn’t she have been covered?!?!
Perhaps, but the main take away is that the series is still a guilty pleasure yet it’s showing signs of maturing in very positive ways. I don’t know if the rest of the season can continue this trend, but if it does, I think I’m in for a very pleasant surprise!! ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Surprise