2.12. Bad Eggs
Despite this episode’s bad reputation, I didn’t find it as awful as it’s cracked up to be. I can’t say that there was anything that especially annoys me about it – its only problem is that the main story is a little thin. The Texan vampire brothers Gorch are a comic relief red herring, and the real danger turns out to be in the eggs that the kids get to keep as a part of a school task to learn to take care of children – a possible unwanted consequence of sex. It’s another episode with a typical cheesy SF-monster plot (like Some Assembly Required
), this time it’s possession story – the little parasite babies’ using the humans to lead them to the Mother. The title could be referring literally to the eggs, or metaphorically to the Gorches (who were always bad eggs, even as humans), or even Buffy, who’s a bit of a ‘bad egg’ in Joyce’s eyes. We’ve had a phallic monster earlier (Reptile Boy
) and now the main monster is the big mom, a…uterine monster? While the other “villains” are the “children” possessing their surrogate parents. Overall the episode feels like a blatant metaphor about careless teenage sex, responsibility and pregnancy.
The episode focuses quite a bit on the Buffy/Joyce relationship, which is particularly strained. Joyce is very unsatisfied with Buffy and gives her a lecture on responsibility because she’s only thinking about boys and fun - very ironic since Buffy actually has a lot more responsibility on her shoulders than Joyce can imagine. Buffy even makes a joke about fighting vampires, and Joyce just glares and says she can’t understand what’s in Buffy’s head. Many fans think that this doesn’t fit with the revelation/retcon of Normal Again
– that Buffy used to be in a mental hospital – because she would never have joked that way, or Joyce would have had a stronger reaction. I think it can actually go either way – some people do make jokes about dark periods of their lives (Buffyverse characters do that a lot), and Joyce ‘s glare could have meant “How can you joke about that”.
On the other hand, Joyce is partially right because Buffy is in fact neglecting her duty for pleasure in this episode – as she and Angel keep having long make-out sessions in the graveyard instead of hunting, and fail to find the Gorches who are not far away, hiding and looking at them. (Another confirmation that Angel’s curse isn’t known among the majority of vampires - maybe Darla was hiding it out of shame - since the brothers don’t know about him having a soul or not being evil anymore.) After the occasional smoochies we saw in previous couple of episodes, the B/A relationship is getting more physical, which will lead to them having sex in the next episode, Surprise
. At the end of this episode they’re making out on Buffy’s window, Angel outside, Buffy’s inside, technically obeying her mother who grounded her, as the camera shows the stuffed toys in her room. Who keeps their stuffed toys in their room at 16? Seems like a way to hit us over the head with the idea that the teenagers are at a crossroads between childhood and adulthood, and that childhood will soon be over for Buffy.
Teenage lust, in its pre-coital version, is all around as Xander and Cordy are also having constant make-out sessions in the school closet (they’re still staying in the closet – get it?), unable to keep their hands off each other, but still insulting each other between the smoochies and at any other time, to the point that Willow is starting to notice something odd about them. Xander and Cordy are keeping their relationship secret from everyone, while Buffy and Angel are hiding it only from her mother.
The main plot maybe works best as a representation of Buffy’s fears. She is constantly being told by her mom how difficult motherhood is, and at one point she reveals that she’s terrified of ending up like Joyce, as a single mother. Later in a conversation with Angel, she sounds freaked out by the idea of having children. She doesn’t think she would be good at taking care of a child (she mentions how she ‘killed’ her mechanical toy, which will be echoed in The Prom
when she says she killed her fish) and she thinks of it as something she might possibly do some day when she’s done “having a life”, but she is not thinking of having children in any near future. (An attitude I completely relate to, despite being much older than 16.) Which is normal at 16, though Buffy won’t show any desire to have children in any of the following seasons. Unlike her, Angel is concerned about the fact that he can’t ever have children (little does he know…) and that she can’t have them with him. Buffy reassures him that he’s the only thing she wants and the only thing she sees in the future, and he says he feels the same. Now, this “When I look into the future, all I see is you“ line is seen by some fans as very romantic, and by others as very subversive and indicative of an unhealthy relationship. I'm neither here or there: Buffy didn't literally mean that he was her entire future, she was reassuring Angel and saying that she couldn't see herself with another man, and there’s nothing unusual about feeling that way when you’re 16 and in love. And in Buffy’s case, she thinks that as a Slayer she has an expiry date anyway. I don’t think she’s really looking into the future, I think she’s still the same Buffy who told Willow to “seize the day” in the series premiere. I find it far weirder that Angel is talking about having kids to a 16-year old girl. He is an 18th century guy at heart, thinking that any serious relationship has to lead to marriage and children. That’s one of the crucial differences in their personalities - Angel is the one asking and worrying about the future, while Buffy lives in the now (which we’ll also see in The Prom
, when he’ll leave her, among other things, for those same reasons – because she couldn’t have a normal life, children etc. with him).
Joyce and Giles met for only the second time – and it’s interesting that they’re having a conversation about parenthood, with Giles saying that he feels like a parent to the school kids (Giles is Buffy’s father figure, which means that he and Joyce are virtually Buffy’s parents). He also slips her a parasite/egg when she’s not looking. *insert dirty joke*
The Gorch brothers are interesting as the first clear example, pre-Harmony, of vampires who are (most likely) barely different from what they were like as humans. Since season 1, the show has abandoned ritual-obsessed traditionalist vampires in favor of different and more recognizably human vampire villains – so we get punk rock vampires, cowboy/bandit vampires, or even arrogant college kid vampires in The Freshman
. We’ve met a vampire who’s still very meek and shy (Dalton) and now we meet vampires who, the twist is, they were just as bad when they were human - notorious outlaws/murderers of the Wild West. What does siring do to humans who are already evil? I guess, just makes them immortal and superstrong. (We’ll see something similar with serial killer Kralik.) Count the brothers as another blow against the theory that vampires are just demons in a human body that have nothing to do with the humans that the body belonged to. Even Giles doesn’t really seem to believe in it, since he talks about Lyle and Tector as being the same guys they were as human bandits. But they also have a lot of affection for each other (even though they normally show it through arguing and physical fighting), continued from their human life, when Lyle brought up his younger and stupider brother since their mother left them, and he still feels like he’s always taking care of Tector (just like Buffy later does with Dawn).* Vampires having affection for each other is not unusual, not only are there vampire couples who are very romantic with each other like Spike and Dru or James and Elizabeth (from AtS Heartthrob
), but we see that many vampires still love the family members from their human life: it’s possible that Lyle got Tector sired or even the opposite, like Spike wanted to sire his mother or Gunn’s sister Gunn, so they could always be together, while Holtz’s little daughter didn’t try to hurt her father in any way, not even when he was taking her out into the sun to dust her. There is a popular fanon that all vampires hate their human families and immediately want to kill them (as in really, not kill so they could sire them), and that Spike is some sort of anomaly in the vampire world, when in fact the only vampire we’ve seen kill his human family is Angel, and I think this had more to do with him already having been a troubled guy who deeply resented his father. Many people start with the wrong assumption that Angelus is the standard of what all soulless vampires are like (despite it having been mentioned many times that he was considered an especially evil vampire and the worst one recorded in books).
*Which could tie to the theme of the episode – maybe the brothers grew into “bad eggs” because their momma left them, and in the end, Lyle fails at protecting his brother, who gets eaten by the monstrous Big Bezoar Momma.
Giles: They made their reputation massacring an entire Mexican village in 1886.
Buffy:Friendly little demons.
Giles: No, that was before
they became vampires.
Xander (having to punch a possessed Cordelia):Cordelia,I don’t wanna hurt you… Some of the time.
Recurring characters introduced:
Lyle Gorch reappears in Homecoming
Pop culture references:
Lyle and Tector Gorch are the names of the characters played by Warren Oats and Ben Johnson in The Wild Bunch
, where they pretty much do obliterate their entire Mexican village.
Buffy protesting too much:
She reassures Xander she and Angel would be hunting, not smooching (which is actually exactly what they’ll do), because they’re not “helpless slaves to passion”.
As Buffy and Lyle are exchanging some quasi-sexual banter during their fight in the mall, Lyle says “Oh, you’re a rough one! I like that.” A lot of Buffyverse characters seem to.
As Buffy and Angel tell each other all they see in the future is each other and go on to kiss, camera zooms onto a gravestone with an inscription “In loving memory”, suggesting this still innocent part of their relationship will soon be over and the future won’t turn out as they think.
Buffy is afraid she’ll end up as her mother, a single mother – which she kinda does she becomes a surrogate mom to Dawn. Joyce tells Buffy motherhood is difficult and jokes that Buffy will see how hard it is when her egg starts dating; Buffy’s love life is really going to be a much bigger source of worry than Joyce can imagine, and Buffy herself will be as worried when Dawn starts dating and the boy turns out to be a vampire (All the Way