FEATURE: Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Inca Mummy Girl
Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander still has absolutely no idea about Willow's love for him and still crushes on Buffy who is also still trying to keep her secret identity secret.
After last week's rip-roaring episode, Inca Mummy Girl is a bit of a come down. It's by no means a bad episode, but going from Spike as your villain to a reanimated Inca mummy who just wants to be loved is a tad disappointing. Yet as monsters-of-the-week go, Ampata is an interesting one because it is one of the first times that we have a villain who doesn't want to be evil; she is just trying to survive. Unfortunately, how she does that is by sucking the life out of people. It throws up some interesting moral issues, particularly with regards with Buffy who identifies strongly with Ampata's fate, a young girl picked by her society to sacrifice herself. Ampata is a tragic figure and treated as such in the show. No one actually kills her, she just simply decays once again and re-mummifies. Well, and Buffy throws her across the room...
The episode is also remarkable for a couple of introductions to characters who will go on to have a huge impact on the series. First up, Jonathan! He's the cowboy Ampata nearly mummifies at the Bronze and though not named until later in the series, he's arrived. He spends most of the second season getting into peril with Buffy saving him a lot. Then he actually gets his own character and goes on to be a bit evil... but we'll ignore that bit for now. And then there's Oz, who is quite possibly one of my characters in the series. His deadpan wit isn't quite there yet, but he'll get some fantastic lines and be at the centre of one of this season's best episodes, not to mention dating Willow.
This episode marks a key development in the relationship between Willow and Xander in that Willow finally starts to realise that she and Xander may not actually happen. It takes her a long while to get there, but it's a start. For Xander, he has yet another disastrous relationship with a woman; last time it was a praying mantis, this time a mummy. His dysfunctional relationships become a running theme across the series and it's not hard to see why he develops this pattern. Xander doesn't do 'normal'. That said, he still picks Willow over Ampata. I also identify with Willow so much at the dance. I too am the kind of person who aims for a kickass memorable costume rather than a sexy one (I once went to a party dressed as Adam Ant). I too used to get ignored and feel incredibly self-conscious. But Willow, I thought you made an awesome eskimo and hey, you caught the eye of Oz so it can't be all that bad.
The overall episode is a bit plodding; we already know who the mummy is and it gets boring watching the gang not guess who it is until the last possible second. However, it is full of great little moments that make up for the dull plot. I particularly love the moment in which Joyce and Buffy glare at each other, it's a perfect mother-daughter look. Xander's costume is a treat, Buffy's beating up of Giles in training until he lets her go to the dance and Willow's exchange with Rodney Munson about the elements in the cold open. There's also the Sven speaking English reveal, Devon's description of the kind of girl he goes for; 'she doesn't have to talk'. It's a shame these moments don't add up to a great episode, but it just never really seems to get going.
And finally, did anyone else notice that sucking the life out of people seemed to result in a perfect face of make-up? I'm quite impressed with the lipstick application.
Quote of the Week:
Buffy - "Oh, I know this one... 'Slaying entails certain sacrifices - blah blah bliddy blah - I'm so stuffy, give me a scone."
Let's Get Trivial: Though mentioned in the Pilot, this episode marks the first appearance of Oz's band, Dingos Ate My Baby who use the music of Four Star Mary (a band I still love).
You can read Becky's review of the previous episode, School Hard, here.