In the twelfth episode of the second season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, oh, fuck you. Just fuck you. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Buffy.
I don’t deal with creatures well. The more mobile they are, the easier it is to describe one of their actions as a “skitter,” and their use to frighten people are all things that can make me feel gross and disgusted and squeamish. I was seven years old when I saw Arachnophobia the first and only time in my whole life. I just read the Wiki article on it, and it’s supposed to be a comedy. Frank Marshall, your movie terrified me so badly that for at least five – perhaps six – years after I saw it, I would cry on the spot if I saw a spider.
I wouldn’t say that I have that phobia any more. It’s calmed down over the years, and horror and science fiction films have made me more fascinated with the use of creatures and insects. I came to love Alien and eagerly awaited the next terrifying creation from the team that ran The X-Files. It always creeped me out on a visceral level, sure, but I was able to have fun. After I stopped being afraid, that is.
The creepiness of “Bad Eggs” works similar to the last episode, “Ted.” We are given a sleight of hand right from the beginning, led to believe this episode is about something else. Here, the Gorch cowboys provide that distraction. We are left to think this will be about Buffy’s clash with a vampires, the conflict she is having with her mother, and the continued strangeness of the relationship between Cordelia and Xander. The story never actually ignores any of those things, but it’s a good fifteen minutes at least before we’re even introduced to the plot that’s going to terrify the hell out of me.
I’m continually intrigued by Buffy’s relationship with her mother, though I admit “Bad Eggs” made me both frustrated and sad. I simply cannot empathize with a situation like this because I have no experience that even comes close to comparing with it. Obviously, the main struggle comes from Buffy’s secretive identity. She can’t come out and tell her mother why she didn’t pick up her dress. (Actually, she totally did in this episode, but it was just a joke. AHHHHH SO CLOSE.) I enjoy that the show isn’t trying to paint Buffy as some perfect teenager suffering the most grave injustice of all time. Buffy has her flaws as both a daughter and a student of Sunnydale, but the real issue here is that she can’t explain these to her mother. I never get the sense that she doesn’t want to be close to her mom, either! Especially coming off of “Ted,” I feel more than ever that she wishes her mother just knew.
The writers then focus on setting up the concept of teenage sexuality, and then I am ultimately confused because I’m not sure if there’s a subtext here I missed. Either there really was no commentary on this in the episode, or there was and it was so obvious that I could see the forest from the trees. Even if it is weird to me to see this sort of stuff, since I was a virgin all throughout high school, I’m glad it’s being addressed. Yes, that does mean there’s a lot of kissing between Angel and Buffy, and then Xander and Cordelia. Then there’s a hint that this all might have to do with teen pregnancy when the Scoobies are assigned eggs to treat like babies for health class.
Can we just talk about this? I’ve heard that other schools did this. Our high school had these creepy robot babies that looked like double-sized Cabbage Patch kids, and they were programmed to cry and make noises whenever they needed to be fed or changed or put down for a nap. I can understand using a doll, and whatever technology was in the ones my school had, it was pretty neat. But an egg? Babies are not comparable to an egg in nearly every way imaginable. I know for a fact that this show did not just make up this idea either. I’ve met people who had to do the same thing. I mean, first of all, wouldn’t the egg go rotten after not sitting in a refrigerator for so long? Couldn’t you just lie about your assignment and buy a new one the night before it was due?
Well, I’ve spent to much time discussing that.
Moving on. I think it’s time we talked about it. Buffy, at least at this point in its run, is not a particularly fancy show. It’s not like Battlestar Galactica, where the special effects, CGI, and graphics are a thing in and of itself to be excited for. I’m perfectly okay with that. I can already tell at this point that the stories and the characters are the top narrative priority. Because of that, the idea behind this episode, a strange mixture of Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, frightens me more than the effects that come with it.
That’s perfectly fine, too. As terrible as it looks, when Buffy’s egg first hatches and attaches to her face, I was very aware that this episode was not going to be what I thought it was going to be. No, instead, it was going to turn into an utter nightmare. There is just something so basically creepy about anything that can invade a host body, and this is no exception.
Even when that reveal happens, though, there’s still a lot more going on that initially doesn’t seem connected to the larger story. There’s Angel’s admission that he can’t have children. I wondered if this tied into some metaphor for sex and parasites, but again, none of it was coming together. There’s another black man on the show! He gets thrown into a hole in the wall, though, about two minutes after he’s introduced. Yay diversity!
Of course, the biggest moment not tied to the plot is the continued examination of Cordelaa and Xander. What a weird couple, y’all. I don’t know many, but I’ve known friends who got married at some point, and currently despise one another as Cordelia and Xander do here. I’ve noticed that his creepy, unapproprate comments have been toned down, which is nice. Perhaps he’s distracted by his attraction to Cordelia. Now that is probably the strangest thing in all of “Bad Eggs.” I don’t mean that in a way to criticize it, but I generally don’t find myself making out with people I despise? I’ve certainly regretted sex before; I’ve certainly made poor decisions about whom I should make out with; and I’ve definitely been attracted to someone who not only infuriates me, but is pretty much my polar opposite. All of that I understand. But two people spending a whole lot of time being somewhat attracted to one another while insulting each other? I don’t get it, and I want a whole lot more of it. It’s so fascinating to me! It’s only a matter of time before the others find out about their closet make out sessions (Willow suspects something for sure), and then this show can only get better from there.
Really, though, the highlight of “Bad Eggs” is how quickly this turns into chaos. The moment the baby parasite broke out of Buffy’s egg was bad enough, but combined with being grounded and the gradual possession of her friends, Buffy is totally overwhelmed. It was shocking to me how fast the last twenty minutes of this episode felt. There’s a thing crawling around Buffy’s room (THAT SCENE DID SEEM TO LAST FOREVER KILL IT WITH FIRE OH GOD), then she’s grounded, then Xander nearly eats his parasite, and then WHY IS CORDELIA HITTING BUFFY OH MY GOD WILLOW THERE IS SOMETHING ON YOUR BACK SWEET SUMMER CHILD THIS EPISODE IS DOING THINGS TO ME THAT I DON’T LIKE. I think this episode is especially frightening to me because I just came off of “Ted.” Don’t shows take breaks in between this sort of stuff? I CAN’T HANDLE THIS ALL AT ONCE.
But that sense of being overwhelmed is what makes this such an entertaining and disturbing story. It’s not just one character who is infected by the parasite. It’s nearly everyone who is captured. Fuck, the scene where Giles puts the parasite on Joyce is just my least joyous moment ever for this show. HOW DARE HE. I LOVE JOYCE.
I do think that the use of the Gorch cowboys feels a bit forced and unnecessary. They don’t really serve more than a couple purposes in the story. They’re a red herring at first, and then Lyle acts as a mirror for our own reaction to Buffy pulling herself out from the parasite, covered in the creature’s black gooey substance. Truthfully, I think they could have been removed from the story completely and it would probably be stronger. Still, I really don’t think it detracts from how pervasively creepy “Bad Eggs” is. The emotional closer is particularly difficult to watch as well, since we know that Buffy just saved her mother’s life, as well as the lives of her friends and classmates. Unfortunately, how do you explain to your mother that you just saved her from a giant, egg-laying parasite that’s living under the school? So she has to take her punishment without a fight.
Well, she is going to find a loophole to get around this and make out with Angel, so there’s that. It’s kind of a sweet end to a brutal episode. Simply put, it’s nice to see these two together. They really do fit with one another.