So as far as the practicalities of this episode go, I feel like Joelle has gone over it pretty well. I may mention one or two things but for the most part what I want to do is defend Joyce. Because I love Joyce. This is definitely one of the areas where Joelle and I most diverge and I completely disagree with almost everything she said, so I am going to stand up for her here. Because I actually feel that her reactions, while far from perfect, where extremely understandable.
Starting with the mall thing! I will agree that I cannot imagine what outfit Buffy wanted to buy that was more revealing than what she wears to school on a regular basis. But leaving that aside. Come on, this is annoying. You ask her to
do literally a single thing for you. You have probably been running all day and getting errands done and working or whatever. She makes fun of you about the store you buy your clothes from (I actually like that bit between them, I think it is cute banter) and she heads off. And then not only does she not get your dress, leaving you to have to find some way to navigate the mall again tomorrow, which let’s face it, is always a fucking nightmare, but she doesn’t even remember. She sits down like you sent her off to wander and now she’s back. Dude, I would be SO ANNOYED.
There are arguments to be made that Joyce should maybe realize that Buffy is the Slayer, although I am never clear on what that means. Like the concept of Slayer does not seem to be a concept widely known in this world either so it’s not like something that she might secretly suspect. Certainly she should know that something is up. And the thing is that I think she does. I think she is very afraid about what might be up and where she might be failing and has all sorts of nighmarish possibilities running through her head. I think she feels overwhelmed and frightened that something terrible will happen and that she does not always cope with that in ideal ways, but one of the reasons I love Joyce is that she seems believably flawed. She does fuck up but I think it is always apparent how fiercely she loves her daughter. I grew up wishing my mother was more like Joyce.
In fact, I think in some ways I connected particularly to Joyce as a television mother because she was so flawed and because there were things that Buffy hid from her consistently. Like even at their best, there were always struggles in their relationship and that made it seem like one that maybe could be attained to me. I never understood these extremely and overwhelmingly loving mother/daughter relationships. Those seemed certainly fictional. Joyce’s flaws made her seem possible to me.
ANYWAY. Moving on. Xander and Cordelia, I just… whatever. I hate this aspect of this relationship right now. I like them better when they actually start dating but this whole “I hate you and yet I can’t stop being attracted to you” is something that makes no functional sense in my brain and seems more ridiculous to me the older I get.
I wanted to say about the eggs that almost all of my friends had to do parenting class type things. However, they did not do them with eggs. I didn’t know anyone who did them with eggs. Which makes sense because what sort of insane scheme is that? How can you tell that they didn’t just replace it with a different egg? No, all of my friends got those robotic babies that have to be “fed” and changed and rocked and stuff or they cry. And cry, and cry and cry. If they left them they had to get a babysitter. I babysat one once. Also apparently if you “killed” your baby, you were reported to CPS and they put you on a list? I never looked into if that was true but I remember all of my friends buzzing about that as a thing. So yeah. Parenting definitely, chicken eggs definitely not.
I can’t imagine having much to say about the Gorches except that I like the name Tector. Like maybe for a dog. I kind-of feel like this episode is maybe trying to come up with some kind of unhealthy family dynamic theme sometimes? The Gorches, Buffy’s conflict with her mother, the idea of “mommy bezoar,” etc. but either I’m imagining that or they totally failed to pull it together.
Back to Joyce! I love it when Buffy gets up all worn out in the morning and Joyce teases her about her egg parenting. I find that entire exchange amusing and charming. I love their dynamic generally.
Again, Xander hard boiling the egg is confusing. Can they tell the egg is his? If yes, then how and also they would know he boiled it. If no, then what difference does any of this make and why bother to boil it? It is a puzzle.
Finding out Angel can’t have babies is one of those things to me. Like, as Joelle implied, vampires really SHOULDN’T be able to get erections. But if they can somehow magically do that, do they also have orgasms? Just no sperm? There are vampire mythologies where they can have kids with humans so it shouldn’t just be assumed she would know that. On a side note, the only person I have ever read deeply considering vampire erections was I think Anne Rice? I feel like it was her who determined that they could but only after having recently fed because of the need for blood. Which I suppose makes as much sense as anything else.
Also, of course Buffy is not thinking a lot about the future, Angel. She is 16 years old. That’s how being 16 years old works.
I agree that when you finally see the creature thing, it isn’t that scary. However, I do think when it is scurrying around her room in half seen and sort-of spider-like ways it is pretty creepy. The idea of something giant jumping down on you from your ceiling, for example, is fairly creepy. It’s just something that falls apart a little when the special effects are needed.
And again back to Joyce. I think that her response to Buffy is… perfectly reasonable here. Assuming
Normal Again is not cannon at this point (which, as Joelle has pointed out, it seems safe to assume), Joyce has come from a place where her daughter got in a tremendous amount of trouble. She was sneaking out, she was fighting, she was hanging out with bad people. While drugs are never mentioned, I feel like that is the sort of thing that Joyce is very frightened of, and frankly that is understandable. And here she walks into her room at almost 3 in the morning, the window is wide open, her daughter is fully dressed and just got off the phone with someone and her excuse is very clearly a lie. It would seem completely irresponsible parenting to not be terrified at this point. Also she just woke up herself. Grounding her seems… extremely reasonable.
Also when she comes into the library and vents to Giles… I don’t think it’s fair to say she yells at Giles. She comes in and is upset with her daughter and apologizes for sounding frustrated with him. She’s pretty reasonable. She’s just at her wit’s end. What is she going to do? Her daughter isn’t listening and the terrifying thing about being a parent of a teenager is that they don’t have to. And once they realize that… you could very well be screwed. Parenting a teenager is so stressful, even if your daughter is not the Slayer, or like generally a troubled kid or whatever. We read a really fascinating study in one of my classes showing that parents of teenagers actually tend to have higher levels of stress and anxiety than their children do during that time. They have high levels of marital problems, depression, etc. Also, they often feel much more negative about how they’re doing and their relationship with their children than the children themselves do. The kids will tend to get in a huge fight, scream that they hate them and then move past it but the parents do not bounce back so quickly. Anyway. The point is that I feel that Joyce is under a lot of stress and I really hope she has friends she can talk to about it. She doesn’t seem to have a good support system.
But of course in the meantime, she will be taken over by a creepy bug thing. And will hack at cement with a shovel. I mean, you know. You’ll notice I really have skipped all the plot because I can’t imagine the point of going over it twice. I think it is funny that the bezoar eggs look just like chicken eggs. I too would like to know how the teacher got the eggs. Was he already possessed? I wonder what a bezoar would get out of eating a vampire. Wouldn’t it just turn into dust? Seems very unsatisfying.
Finally as they are all out, in the final Joyce scene… yes, I will defend her here too. I think that this is not perfect but goddamn. I imagine most of them are disoriented and probably sore and maybe with headaches? I have no idea what the reaction to neural clamping is but it doesn’t sound pleasant. None of them look in great shape though. I think it is hilarious that there are no ambulances anywhere. Anyway, none of that seems likely to put her in a better mood. And her first response was relief that Buffy was okay. That was absolutely her first response. And then once she realized she was and that in fact she had just once again (as far as she knows) ignored what she directly ordered her to do in order to do what she felt like doing, she makes another attempt to restrain her.
I mean, I think we all know this won’t end well. Eventually, in the end of this season, Buffy will freak out and run away. Their relationship is going to be weird for a while. But I think ultimately they end up with something pretty great and I personally like how it all shakes out. And right now, Joyce seems like a good mom who is overwhelmed and trying her hardest to figure out what to do and how to protect her daughter, while being secretly deeply terrified that maybe she can’t. And I love her. Even if this episode is dumb.
So. There is my first, but almost certainly not my last, defense of Joyce. 😛
In an absolute final note, I was so in love with the last scene in this episode as a kid because you have no idea how many times I made out with my boyfriend at my window (who was only 4 years older than me, not 200) and my relationship with him was one of the reasons I felt a deep kinship with Buffy.