Sunday, 22 January 2012

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Bad Eggs

“As far as punishments go, this is fairly abstract.”

I was under the impression that this was supposed to be a notoriously bad episode. In fact, I was rather looking forward to it for that very reason. There’s a certain kind of perverse glee to be found in watching something you know to be bad in the full knowledge that you’re going to be mocking it on your blog before long. Except… this episode is bloody brilliant. Why the bad reputation? This is possibly the best comedy episode we’ve had yet.

Oh, the concept’s a bit blah- a massive subterranean parasite uses nasty little eggs which hatch creepy-crawly things to control people so it can use them for, er, egg mining, and this all sprawls out of a school assignment to look after eggs as though they’re babies. Unusually for Buffy, there’s not really a great deal happening in the shape of a big, central metaphor; I did ponder the idea of the parasite being a metaphor for Joyce, who makes Buffy’s life particularly difficult, but I don’t think so. I certainly hope not; I really like Joyce. And the fun little conversation between the two of them at the start shows that they can be great together when they’re not being confrontational.

There is, perhaps, a bit of a theme developing with regards to pleasures distracting us from our responsibilities. Ironically, neglect of her responsibilities is what Joyce finds so upsetting about her daughter, even though the reason for her apparent misbehaviour is the awesome responsibility of the Slayer. But there’s a second layer of irony here, as Buffy is in fact spending most of her time snogging her boyfriend instead of hunting vampires as she’s supposed to; perhaps she isn’t being too unfairly punished, after all. Alarm bells are beginning to ring about this relationship; I’m reminded of Kendra’s admonition that Angel, whatever his virtues, is a vampire, and “He should die”. Gosh, you don’t think something really, really bad could be about to happen between those two, do you?

As for the comedy parallel to this couple of snoggers, namely Cordelia and Xander, whose kissing / insulting sessions are such fun to watch, they’re beginning to get less and less careful. It’s rather obvious that the others (particularly Willow) are going to find out, very, very soon, and the laughter is going to stop.

Lyle Gorch (I love the hat!) is another great thing about this episode, and I’m delighted that he survives, obviously to prepare for another appearance. The first season gave us the Master and some rather ritual-heavy vampires who did what they were told, but this season’s vampires are much more fun. Spike is the character who announced this new direction, of course, but Lyle shows us that we can expect a lot more of this sort of thing- quirky vampires with fun personalities. I love the Lenny George thing he has going on with his brother.

There are other cool touches, though- the long scene with Buffy looking for the creature is shot and soundtracked like a horror film, and it’s really, really scary. Plus there’s that nice frisson of nostalgia at Buffy’s mention of a Giga Pet- remember those? But this kind of fun episode usually means only one thing: this is our last chance to sit back and feel comfortable for a while, because things are probably about to get very, very dark…

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