Inca Mummy Girl
Written by: Matt Kiene/Joe Reinkemeyer
Directed by: Ellen S. Pressman
Air Date: October 6, 1997

After everything I’d said about “School Hard” being a step in the right direction (that is to say, in a direction away from the schlock-fests that were “monster-of-the-week” episodes), “Inca Mummy Girl” drags us right back into that kind of storytelling, complete with lame soundtrack and score, awful lighting, and pathetic action sequences. It was like this episode was pulled from the first season and stuck in this one because… I don’t know, they needed a filler episode before they moved on?

Basically you have a mummy that has come back from the dead and just wants to live a normal life but can’t; she was destined to be a “chosen one” and sacrifice her life for the cause. If this sounds exactly like Buffy’s dilemma (aside from the whole “mummy” part, at least), then congratulations, you’re as smart as anyone else that watches this show. The comparison is so lame and full of itself that its mentioned by the characters throughout the episode. Its sad when all your quality writers vanish and you still have an episode to produce, but my goodness they could have put forth a little more effort.

In the end, what it amounts to is a girl that wants to live, and kills to do it. The effects of her giving “death kisses” are pretty OK, considering the quality of some of the other effects on this show in previous episodes, but her situation isn’t that sympathetic. Her first victim is another kid we’ve never seen before, and her second victim is the foreign exchange student she kills to replace. One thing this show never deals with properly, at least not at this point in the run, is what happens for the families of these people. I mean, won’t the Summers family have to deal with some international law since their exchange student died? Or, at the very least, vanished and was never heard from again? I know these are odd gripes, but if the show is going to allow for these incidents to take place, the least they could attempt to do is cover the ramifications that follow.

I could dig into this episode all day and night, but there are a few things worth commenting on in the way of “good” aspects. Namely the introduction of soon-to-be-main-character Oz. Seth Green downplays this character throughout his appearances on the show, and while we don’t get a good feel for him here, his introduction is handled with great care. He’s not the focus of the episode, his situations never directly bring him into contact with the main cast and their situations, and he only gets a passing glance at Willow, cute as a fucking button, decked out in her Eskimo attire. Its a fantastic and completely acceptable introduction to his character, one we’ll get to know better as the season begins to pick up speed.

Otherwise there are some great character moments from the main cast: Buffy comes to terms with her Slayer duties, for once, and willingly bows out of the dance; Giles has to come to terms with the fact that his car sucks and that he needs a “grown-up car” — something that doesn’t happen for quite some time; Xander has yet another monster attracted to him, something he himself comments on (and referencing that atrocious “Teacher’s Pet” episode from season 1…); and even Cordelia gets some good screen time, mostly resulting in here showing her midriff in her Hawaiian ensemble. Willow, though, gets the best moments of the episode – as far as character growth is concerned – by coming to terms with the fact that Xander doesn’t have the hots for her. I could make some analogy regarding to the fact that no one has the hots for her, so she dresses like a cold-weather-climate Eskimo, but I’ll refrain because she’s just too damned cute in that giddup.

Between this and the next episode, its a rough second step for a season that is, in and of itself, the second step for the series. It picks up after these episodes, yes, but its hard not to look back on them and shudder. Good character utilization and a few new characters doesn’t mean the episode is worth mentioning. Or remembering.

Episode Rating: 70

Additional Notes:
-Johnathan shows up for the first time this episode. He starts off on a rough note and, well, will end on one, too.

The  mummy losing her arms and then falling to dust is a horrible way for that character to finally kick the bucket. Yeesh.
-Best line?
Willow: “Maybe Rodney stepped out for a smoke?”
Xander: “For 21 hours?!”

Adding to my gut reaction to this feeling like a Season 1 episode is the fact that Snyder, Jenny, and Angel don’t appear, nor is there any mention of Spike at all. You could fit it in between any two episodes from the first season and it would likely feel at home.
-Cordelia’s exchange student badmouthing her behind her back? Priceless and funny. Wish the whole episode had been that clever.