This is a silly episode. And pretty racist? But mostly silly.
It opens with Buffy’s class going to a museum for a whole cultural shebang and talking about the foreign exchange students that will be staying with various students. Well, it opens with that, and Xander’s insanely inappropriate jealousy that a boy will, like, be near Buffy in any capacity. I’m so over you, Xander. Knock it off already and grow and change all that, please. You’re being gross.
I do enjoy how creepy the mummy looks, and find myself wishing (yet again) I had a room full of Buffy props in my house, to the delight and thrill of my guests, I’m sure. I also enjoy how creepy it is that the mummy sucks the life out of…that one kid’s name. (Who, by the way, broke that ancient seal SO UNNECESSARILY. The mummy’s hands clearly are limp and not holding on tightly at all, and the seal is free for a couple seconds before he smashes it all over the place. I can only assume he wanted to be life-sucked by an ancient princess.) (Who doesn’t) (am I right.)
The use of humor in this episode is actually really well done, for as campy and ridiculous as the plot is on paper. Buffy pummeling Giles during training because it’s her duty but also because he doesn’t want her to go to the school dance; related: Buffy’s scone comment; the group sarcastically predicting that Rodney (ah! There’s his name) awoke the mummy and got attacked by it, and the way their faces fall when they realize that’s a very likely scenario in Sunnydale; it’s all in the beginning and it’s all funny and good.
But Xander also hurts Willow’s feelings right away by saying he never thinks about her lips (although that’s going to get better in just a min) and EFF YOU, XANDER. WILLOW IS PERFECT. DON’T HURT HER. SHE HAS LOVELY LIPS.
So, in the world of the actual plot, Xander asks Ampata to the dance. They’re actually kind of cute together? I mean, as cute as an asshole and a murderous mummy can be.
Buffy’s dance plans are canceled due to mummy that’s on the loose, and oh, can we talk about this dance, please? It’s not “cultural appreciation” to dress up as caricatures of members of that culture. The fact that nobody is like “Hey, this is strange and not okay” is also…bad. I can only assume that the whole thing was constructed in order for us to see Willow in an Eskimo costume. Willow + furry hood = the cutest. (No but seriously NOT OKAY, GUYS. NOT OKAY.)
I want to say that despite this episode’s obvious flaws when it comes to race/culture, I really appreciate how they portray Ampata. She’s not demonized. She acts as a foil to Buffy, and she’s a complex, imperfect character who we can relate to, and who Buffy can relate to. In a lot of ways, Buffy is offered as a sacrifice (by the Watchers’ Council) and in turn, has to sacrifice being a normal person to fulfill her duties. We can easily sympathize with Ampata, even if she’s doing bad things.
I love Oz’s “who is that girl?” moment because, well, everything Oz does is lovely and good, and also, because he’s not checking out any of the half-naked ladies in the place; he’s checking out the one who’s bundled up and clearly, well, somewhat individual. He’s a good guy, that Oz.
AND OMG IS THIS THE FIRST TIME WE MEET JONATHAN TOO??
Xander telling Ampata he loves her after 24 hours is gross. For their credit, though, at least she attempts not to life-suck him for about six and a half minutes before surrendering to the urge. But then she dries out and Buffy pulls her and her arms come off and…ew.
There’s not much more to say about this episode. I’m so very glad Oz is in the picture, I want Giles to awkwardly introduce himself to people by saying “Hello, can you translate this?” and stop it, stop it, Xander!