Everyone’s thinking lustful thoughts in this episode. Buffy wants to buy a sexy outfit. Cordelia and Xander can’t keep their hands off each other. Buffy and Angel likewise, although they aren’t conflicted about it. There are makeouts a-plenty (though not for Willow or Giles, whose partners are missing this week) and it is super-strongly implied that Cordy and Xander are going All. The. Way.
Trust a boring health class assignment to pour cold water all over this sizzle! It’s the old “look after an egg to learn about responsibility the egg is a metaphorical baby okay kids NO SEXING” thing that apparently happens! By the way the eggs are monsters. And with that, the episode runs out of ideas.
It turns out the egg monsters are mind-controlly bodysnatchery things and there’s a thing in the basement of the school they want to dig up. There are definitely some creepy set-pieces with the critter in Buffy’s bedroom (complete with Alien homage shot of creature landing on shoulder) and the reveal that Willow has already been controlled, and there’s a brilliant 3/4 swerve (actually at the 3/4 break for once) where Joyce ends up joining the fun. But beyond the set pieces, there’s not much here to talk about.
The episode thinks it’s about “responsibility”, i.e. look after an egg, don’t forget to pick up your mother’s dress, um, stuff. It all feels thin because the episode has actually set the viewer’s eye on one of the most intense subject areas in its thematic focus area – the powerful experience of teenage lust – and then does literally nothing with it. The monsters just mind control people to go dig a hole together as asexual drones. There is so much to work with here and the episode can’t backpedal away from it quickly enough.
All of which is very disappointing because this is the very same move you get from most teenage media, at least, it was in the 90s. Lust was a feature of after-school special morality plays, Christian rock songs, and dumb comedy films, but didn’t much get talked about beyond that. Buffy has so far been pushing hard at taking the emotional experiences of teenage life seriously, but here it doesn’t want to get involved, and the avoidance is jarring. Buffy is meant to be better than this! (The show does start getting stuck into lust as a thematic interest next season, at least.)
What this episode should have done is make the egg-monsters lean right into the sex and lust continuum. There’s some ironic appeal in having the abstinence eggs turn their hosts into ravening lust machines, but given that this show can’t actually descend into a wild orgy, that episode would be tricky to write. So maybe something like this.
- The mall – a shop. Buffy wants a sexy skirt that Joyce won’t buy for her. Then she spots a vampire (Lyle Gorch) on the hunt. She makes some transparently false excuses why she has to slip away, and Joyce lets her go.
- The back rooms – Buffy interrupts Lyle, but he gets away.
- The mall – Buffy returns to Joyce, who reveals she didn’t believe Buffy’s excuses. “I know that look. You spotted a cute boy and suddenly had somewhere better to be.” “Um, kinda.” Then Joyce initiates a super-awkward version of “the talk (teen version)”, about how sometimes her head is going to want to do one thing, while her body is pushing hard to do… another thing. The talk goes swiftly out of Joyce’s control too. (Buffy: “Oh please don’t say any more words.” Joyce: “Too late for that. I’m terrible at this.” Buffy: “Let’s just pretend we never have any of those feelings.” Joyce: “Milkshake?” Buffy: “Milkshake.”)
- Closet. Cordy and Xander having makeouts in the closet, both conflicted about it.
- Health class. Teacher introduces the egg challenge to a very distracted class! He has to yell a few times to get people to settle down. Willow spots that there’s something happening between Cordy and Xander.
- Library. Xander and Willow give Buffy her egg. Xander is like “I’m not sure one little egg will make much impression on the frying pan of testosterone that is the teenage boy.” Giles identifies the Gorches.
- The park. Buffy and Angel make out instead of hunting. The Gorches are watching, identifying Buffy as the slayer and Angel as Angelus. Tector Gorch is envious of Angel – he thinks Buffy is pretty. Lyle berates him for always thinking with his crotch. “Ain’t like there’s anything down there any more, not since that crab demon got super friendly with her pincer hands!” Tector is unrepentant. “Don’t matter that I’m dead. See a pretty girl, and things get stirred.” Lyle says he knows how to kill the Slayer.
- Buffy’s bedroom. She falls asleep, with some dialogue to the egg indicating she’s going to be thinking about Angel – all those makeouts are fresh in her mind. As she slips into bed and closes her eyes with an Angel smile on her face, we see the egg… crack… a tentacle extends…
- Buffy’s bedroom. She wakes up. The tentacle is gone. The egg has repaired itself.
- Summers kitchen. Joyce observes Buffy getting ready for school – impressed by how she’s uncharacteristically calm and well-organised. Buffy suggests the egg is just focusing her attention, reminding her she has responsibilities…
- Library. Buffy (with egg) reports “no Gorches” to Giles. Willow has her egg too. Xander has boiled his egg! After Xander leaves with Cordelia, Willow confides that there’s something weird happening between them. Buffy asks Willow if she’s also feeling really alert and focused; Willow says she is. Giles asks Buffy to once again go Gorch-hunting with Angel.
- Near the park. Angel meets Buffy, who is carrying her egg this time. Angel goes to kiss her – she avoids it. They talk about the egg, and hunting. Buffy doesn’t even seem to notice Angel’s physical interest in her.
- The park. The Gorches attack! Tector tangles Angel in a lasso (might as well put that old west style to some use) and Lyle seizes Buffy, saying “Like I tell Tector, lust is a distraction. And distracted slayers are -” He is cut off by Buffy smashing him in the face and clinically giving him an ass-whupping. The Gorches flee in different directions.
- Near the park. Angel asks Buffy about her change in tone – last night, he was a distraction. Tonight… is she feeling all right? Buffy isn’t sure. Something’s off. Like she’s run out of steam. But… that little fight scene might have woken her up again… Makeouts start in earnest. But Angel pulls away – “I’ll get after Tector. You track down Lyle.” Angel goes, and Buffy looks after him, and it’s obvious that she did not want to stop kissing him. And while she thinks these thoughts, the egg cracks open and the creature emerges, and it crawls up her and it COVERS HER FACE…
- Near the park. Buffy FIGHTS OFF THE THING. She stabs it to wriggly death, and then realises it came from the egg. “That’s not good.”
- School. Morning. Willow arrives, cradling her egg. She looks around the school, and observes many couples doing couple things. All seems normal. She opens her locker, sees the Dingoes band poster with grainy Oz picture – and sighs happily. The egg quivers. She doesn’t notice. And she goes to the…
- Library. Willow finds Buffy, Xander and Cordelia are already there. “Where’s your egg?” they ask. They grab it from her, and put it in a box, then slam on a lid. “There might be a creature in there,” Buffy says. Cordelia says it was probably only Buffy’s egg. If it was her egg, then her maid might be in terrible danger! Xander reminds everyone he hardboiled his egg. Willow comes up with the idea of opening his to see what’s inside. And she’s still noticing Xander/Cordy chemistry, as she remarks to Buffy again…
- Giles’s Office. Willow leads the dissection. The egg is cracked open revealing a weird, disgusting creature. They make a plan: Giles and Willow will hit the books, Buffy will investigate the Teen Health classroom, while Xander and Cordy volunteer to check out “several out of the way places”. Willow doesn’t stay with Giles – she moves to follow Xander and Cordy.
- Health classroom. Buffy stalks around. She finds several additional racks of eggs… and a pickaxe? Why would a health teacher need a pickaxe? Then the teacher enters. Buffy hides as he goes to the egg racks, picks up an egg, and it extrudes a tentacle to wiggle at him…
- Hallway. Willow creeps after Xander and Cordy, who are obviously looking for a good makeout spot. They go into a closet. Willow goes over, pushes it open: “All right you two, caught in the act -” Except they are NOT making out. Cordelia is putting one of the weird egg creatures on Xander’s face! They both turn to look at her! She backpedals, falling, sprinting back to the
- Library. Willow rushes in. “Giles!” The librarian tells her he’s just had a very interesting phone conversation with Ms. Calendar and he now knows what they’re dealing with – a Bezoar. The eggs are disguises for their hibernating young. They feed off hormonal surges. When they get enough hormones, they come alive and take control of their host.” Willow says “Well here’s a couple of hormonal hosts right now!” Sure enough, Xander and Cordy, smiling oddly, are coming into the library as Willow backs away… only for Giles to PUT AN EGG CREATURE ON HER TOO.
- Health classroom. Buffy hides. Teacher comes very close to where she is hiding when… the door opens and her classmates start filing in! Time for Teen Health! Buffy pops up with a grin and takes her usual seat. There’s Cordy and Xander and Willow, all sitting happily smiling in the class. In fact the whole classroom is sitting smiling, calm and easy. Teacher asks: “Now, does anyone still have their egg?” As Buffy watches, Jonathan holds up his hand. He gives an uneasy “Yay me?” as classmates all around him converge, and he too is creature’d up. They pull back. Teacher: “Anyone else?” Willow looks at Buffy: “She broke hers.” Buffy has to think fast: “Oh I did. But then I came sneaking around in here and one got me. Also I found a pickaxe.” She hefts the pickaxe. The room is silent. Teacher: “Great! Well let’s get moving then.” And they all start filing out…
- Tunnels. Tector Gorch, wrapped up in his own lasso, is walking with Angel. “I swear, Angelus, Lyle will be down here somewhere.” Angel realises they are almost under the school. Tector asks Angel about Buffy. “No judgement, brother. Nothing like forbidden fruit to give you an itch. Like the time Lyle put some stinging nettles down my trousers.” Angel has to defend his feelings for Buffy – it isn’t just an “itch”. Tector calls him on it. “I seen you kiss that girl. There was itches. I reckon she’d like to be scratched.”
- Cavern. Tector leads Angel into a cave where a weird critter peers through the floor – the Bezoar. A tentacle wraps itself around him and drags him close! Tector unwraps himself. He lied about Lyle coming here. He’s fallen under the spell of the Bezoar.
- School basement. The class descends through a bashed-open hole in the floor into the basement. The teacher takes the pickaxe from Buffy and knocks some of the hole wider to allow easier access. They all go down and see… the Bezoar, and Angel wrapped up, and Tector nearby. Teacher: “Now, let the Bezoar cleanse you of your impure thoughts!” and they all form a line to let the Bezoar soak up their hormonal surges. Appalled, wondering how to free Angel, Buffy shades back when someone grabs her and pulls her to…
- Tunnels. Lyle has grabbed Buffy. He proposes an alliance to kill the Bezoar and free Angel as well as “my dumb brother”. Buffy figures out what’s up – the Bezoar is feeding on teen horniness. “Like a disgusting old man at a bus stop.” They both roll out – into the:
- Cavern. Lyle and Buffy make their move, but the class move with swiftness and co-ordination, Cordy and Xander cleanly take down Lyle. Buffy’s attempt to get to the Bezoar fails – Willow and Giles cut off her options. She ends up next to the still-trapped Angel. Teacher: “You can’t stop us, Buffy. We’re all focussed. Calm. Our minds are clear in service to the Bezoar.” Buffy: “Well my mind isn’t clear. But I do know what I want.” And she turns and locks eyes with Angel. “Trust me,” she whispers. And begins the MAKEOUT TO END ALL MAKEOUTS. All the servants of the Bezoar shudder, close their eyes, as the psychic feedback hits them. Xander and Cordy reach out and hold hands. Willow bites her lip. Tector gyrates foolishly. And Lyle RUNS FORWARD AND SINKS THE PICKAXE INTO THE BEZOAR’S BRAIN. Game over.
- Basement. The Gorches have fled. Everyone is rubbing their necks in confusion. Giles is telling everyone there’s a mold problem down here, everybody out… Willow approaches Xander, “Are you okay? Can you believe I thought you were having secret kissing sessions with Cordelia? But no, you were just being mind-controlled by a demon! I should have known.” Xander flails. Meanwhile, Buffy and Angel have a moment. Then he leaves too.
- Summers home. Buffy sits with Joyce on the couch. Joyce breaks the small talk to say, she didn’t mean to worry Buffy before, and if there is anything she wants to talk about – any person or any feeling – then she should. Because Joyce will always be there for her, and will probably not ground her too bad. Buffy is reassured. They talk about how everything would be so much simpler without any of that stuff. Joyce: “But also, kind of boring and pointless.” It isn’t easy finding the right balance. Buffy rests her head on her mother’s shoulder. End on a nice mother-daughter bonding moment.
Where was I.
Bad Eggs is a bit of a failure as a Buffy episode. It’s the one bum note in this great run of episodes – and being surrounded by amazing episodes surely does it no favours, reputation-wise. Perhaps because of its thematic problems, it never finds its tone – it is bizarre for a purely-plot episode to play all the final defeats of the bad guys as comedy beats.
Anyway, this episode does contribute something to the bigger picture. All this physicality and lust is an important aspect to the Buffy/Angel relationship, and one we haven’t yet seen. The relationship has often felt a bit weak onscreen because the show forgets to actually put them in front of us as a couple doing chemistry-laden couple things, and this episode attempts to make up for that all by itself by underlining just how hot and heavy (and yet chaste) their relationship is. This is necessary setup – and just in time for a very significant payoff. Next episode. (Hint: abstinence eggs don’t work.)
* A rare visit to the Sunnydale mall! We don’t see it much, because it’s a complicated set to manage requiring masses of extras, but that’s a pity because it does make a lot of sense as a hunting ground for Sunnydale’s vampires.
* Buffy sniffs out a vamp in a crowded place, just like in episode one! Which is to say, she uses her powers of observation, not the slayer-senses spoken of by Giles. Another gap in Buffy’s education?
* The Gorches have no role to play in this episode, but there they are anyway! Note that these are characterful season 2 vampires, not boring season 1 vampires.
* Urgh, the tentacle violation of a sleeping Buffy is something I could have done without, especially in an episode that encourages you to read everything sexually.
* If midriff tops weren’t on trend, this invasion would have succeeded.