Part of this lies with my great fondness for Invasion of the Body Snatchers in all its incarnations as well as most of the homages to it featuring alien replacement/possession. I was a major fan of Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty (written by then-horror giant and Sarah Michelle Gellar favorite Kevin Williamson) when it came out in 1998, which Bad Eggs is very nearly a contemporary of. In this specific sub-genre of slow and secret replacement/superseding of humans, I find my personal particular horror less in the usually physically revolting parasitical aspects than in the loss of self and the faintly malicious but disarmingly accurate recreation of stolen self by a foreign being. That shit creeps the fuck out of me and I seek it out to the extent that I actually saw the weak, barely released remake The Invasion (starring Nicole Kidman) in the theater first-run. My thematic fandom is not casual in this instance.
So it’s no shock that even though Bad Eggs seems to be consistently ranked near the bottom, and sometimes at the very bottom, of all the Buffy episodes, I find its premise a slightly guilty thrill, one that actually they mesh well with the overall silliness of the story to mark a breezy break before we enter into a very grim chapter in the series.
Bodysnatching, sure, but there’s also all the sex! Buffy and Angel are so, so close to doing it, while Xander and Cordy continue to edge toward it, “groping in janitors’ closets” (Cordy has so few romantic illusions!) No time could be better for sex ed and an introduction to the perils of sexual activity. As if unwanted pregnancy, STDs and heartbreak aren’t enough, now the kids have to contend with relinquishing their free will to a squishy, avaricious creature with a mind of its own. The beast that hatches from the eggs and invades the subconscious of its victims is an obvious parallel to simmering hormones that suddenly burst and make teenagers bat-shit crazy, and I’m not going to quibble with the allegory.
I also won’t quibble with the critique that the episode is silly, but considering what’s coming in the next few episodes, especially for Buffy, I argue we have to take a last stand in foolish romps before taking the sex plunge for real and finding out it’s a deeper and darker descent than we’d feared.
I don’t even mind the comic relief from the comedic main story: the wayward western duo of the dimwitted Gorch brothers. If they were genuine threats, they’d dampen the mood. For just this once, I’m glad Spike and Dru have a brief respite from the action.
And the action is silly. I just love not knowing whose body and will have been co-opted by Beozar’s babies! We get surprises from Willow and Cordy as they konk Buffy and Xander on the head, plus Giles as he drops a creature down Joyce’s back like it’s a prank with an ice cube! And we hear poor Jonathan howl in the hallway before he’s taken over too. It’s b-movie looniness and it seems everyone is having a good time.
Maybe not Buffy or SMG as much as the rest, since she’s called on to dip into the boiler room crater where Beozar nests and commence sludgy battle with a pick ax to finish the parasitical colonization of Sunnydale.
Of course as soon as she’s dispatched the enormous demon who may or may not be allegorical genitalia or amorphous sexual desire, everyone immediately slumps over and awakens with the usual fuzzy memory syndrome that afflicts the town’s residents so often. Fortunately Giles has come up with the obvious explanation: gas leak! At least it wasn’t rival gangs and/or PCP again.
The promo for the episode suggests it’s about something that “has to control.” I agree – about tightening control, relinquishing control, or submitting to control, be it parental or mastery over one’s passion and sexual impulses.
The tension between Buffy and Joyce heightens here, as if the sex ed experiment has awakened some sexual anxiety in the mother just as it sparks some mother/adulthood anxiety in the daughter: Buffy balks at having no partner for the experiment, bemoaning a fate similar to her single mother’s, and in fact, the process of converting into a mindless drone does suggest entry into adulthood, one of the rites to which is initial sexual experience, a focal point of the episode.
What awaits you after abandoning the last vestiges of carefree childhood in those angst-filled throes of late adolescence? The drudgery of adulthood! Sexual panic and Peter Pan panic intersect in the bad eggs of Beozar!
The conclusion, with Buffy technically adhering to the rules of her grounding by sitting on her windowsill while kissing Angel, who stands just outside on the roof, is adorably sweet and suggests that she’s on the verge of taking the next big step. I imagine it’s the sweetest ending to an episode that the series will enjoy for a while.