April 29th, 2010
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When I was going through the first season, I was warned by many that there were some weaker episodes which weren’t indicative of the show’s future quality. However, to be honest, most of it worked fine: we expect there to be kinks, and the episodes only felt like failures if you were holding them to standards that the show simply didn’t have at that point in time.
However, I think “Bad Eggs” is a complete failure regardless of one’s expectations, an episode which never once evolves into something worthwhile or even all that interesting. You can see what the episode is trying to accomplish, and you can even see how the script tries to work around its inherent flaws, but none of it actually comes together into an episode that manages to stand on its own two feet.
Coming off of “Ted,” where the weekly demon was clearly personified and even presented as a human, a huge creature (the Mother Bezoar) with absolutely no personality or motivation is a pretty big letdown. Not only does it pale in comparison to Ted, or Spike, or Drusilla, or the Master, but it even pales in comparison to the praying mantis in “Teacher’s Pet.” It’s a problem that the episode never lives down: as creepy as the thing in the floor birthing eggs might be, our complete lack of knowledge regarding its motivations or its intentions (outside of some gibberish from Willow and Cordelia) keeps us at arm’s (or tentacle’s) length.
The episode tries, you’ll notice, to fix this in two ways. The first is that just about everyone is sucked into the gambit: just about every character but Xander and Buffy, including Giles and Buffy’s Mother, become infected by the creatures. The episode does this in order to try to convince us that this problem is so huge that we need to stand and take notice, but it’s a cheap way to create scale that fails to really amount to anything.
The other fix is the introduction of the Gorch brothers, who arrive in Sunnydale and have their first hunt interrupted by Buffy’s intervention at the mall. The two have some personality, don’t get me wrong, but their presence in the episode feels like a way to “fix” the lack of personality in the main storyline rather than something which actually connects with it. One of them dies in the climax, but we have no emotional connection to them, and you can’t just introduce a cowboy vampire and pretend that this makes them a compelling antagonist for the series. You need to do more than have them run concurrent to another threat, and the lack of connection means that both sides of the story remain fairly limp and without meaning.
Surely, you could make the argument that the episode is worthwhile for the hormonal overload that Angel and Buffy, and Xander and Cordelia, find themselves trapped within in the hour, which is something which will obviously continue as the series goes on. However, it all felt a little bit broad here: the show is about to go to a very dark and dramatic place in “Surprise” and “Innocence,” which makes the episode’s struggles that much more apparent in retrospect. It’s unfortunately positioned in such a way that it fails to live up to the serialized stories before and after, and even the standalone story which directly precedes it.
“Bad Eggs” is not the worst episode of television I’ve ever seen, but to be honest it’s one of the most unfinished: you can see how they’ve tried to fix it, and you can also see that it probably wasn’t ever going to be saved. There was just nothing to latch onto within this story that connected with the characters, and what fun can be derived from the episode could be boiled down to a 4 minute YouTube video, which is probably not something that an hour-long drama should be shooting for. However, because the episode feels so out of place, its impact is minimal: it makes me wonder how it all went wrong, and just what they were thinking going to production on it, but it does nothing to take away from what came before or the crowning achievement to come.
- Buffy’s grounding seemed really silly here, entirely designed to get her mother to the school – it makes me wonder why they bothered, as it seems inconsistent with their relationship thus far this season.
- Since it came up in the comments, I am noticing Danny Strong as the constantly-in-danger Jonathan who keeps ending up a helpless victim to various circumstances.
- The whole “parents through eggs” thing wasn’t the worst design decision in the world if it had manifested itself better: my favourite thing in the episode was Xander boiling his egg, honestly.