“Who knows what she had to give up to fulfill her duty to others? What chance at love?”
-Ampata, Buffy the Vampire Slayer S2E4: “Inca Mummy Girl”
Brief synopsis: The Incan mummy on display at the museum goes missing, right around the time Buffy’s South American exchange student arrives. Romance abounds.
Title significance: I don’t know if this is actually referencing this, but the title makes me think of that Rob Zombie song, “Living Dead Girl.” Ampata is exactly that: a living dead girl. The title, though, does get a mite more specific by calling her an “Inca Mummy Girl.”
In the end, Ampata isn’t exactly the biggest villain the Scoobies have ever faced. In fact, she doesn’t even seem all that evil. Just desperate for a life. I think this title really points this out. She is an Incan mummy, but she’s also a girl, scared of dying, capable of falling in love, and just wanting a normal life.
Girl Power: Once again, we have a villain who is a female. She is clearly very strong and very determined, able to take down the man who was specifically there to keep her from harming people. But she’s also clearly a girl, wanting to go to dances and falling in love with Xander. She retains her femininity even though she’s strong.
She also acts as a parallel to Buffy. Buffy sacrifices the chance for a normal life to help others. Ampata did this as well, back in her time, thinking that by sacrificing herself, she would save her people. They both gave up their own happiness for the sake of others, and that is a truly awesome example of girls being powerful.
Success of girl power: Good this episode, especially with Willow, which I mention below.
What “Inca Mummy Girl” does right:
- Ampata and Xander – Okay. I admit. I love these two together. I think they may very well be my ship for Buffy. They make sense. Xander’s crush on Buffy feels so weird, and it’s obvious they wouldn’t go well together. These two, though! They do a great job of showing them enjoying each other, so when Ampata finds it difficult to kill him, it feels believable. They are full of life and laughter, and I just think it’s great.
- Willow – Willow is friggin’ adorable, and I think I should have maybe talked about this up in the girl power section. Willow is quite aware of her situation with Xander, and she’s able to admit to herself what the mature thing to do would be. She wears her Eskimo costume to the cultural ball. She’s a unique person and she lets it show. Go you, Willow.
- Not going to dance – I think this was a really powerful moment that showed the disconnect between the life Buffy wants and the life she leads. I love the moment when Joyce says she wishes Ampata could have talked Buffy into going to the dance. She wants Buffy to be a normal girl, and she doesn’t realize how much Buffy herself wishes that as well.
What “Inca Mummy Girl” could have done better:
- Xander’s crush on Buffy – Xander’s crush on Buffy makes me really uncomfortable. It borders on creepy. Maybe part of why I like his relationship with Ampata so much is because it makes the creepiness stop. It’s painful to watch and definitely my lease favorite part of the show thus far.
- Giles – Like, this is probably because I’m viewing this through the 2010’s lens, but I think Giles just handing Ampata the seal and expecting her to be able to translate it is culturally insensitive. I can’t read Old English, why should she be able to read ancient Incan scrolls? I thought it was a very weird moment that maybe didn’t seem so weird in the 90’s.
- Oz’s Intro – While I love him falling for the Eskimo across the room, I think the rest of his intro felt pretty shoehorned into the episode. The random scene with him talking to a bandmate about how girls like Cordelia don’t interest him, the random scenes at the show. I just feel there must have been a way of introducing him that didn’t feel so pasted on to the episode.
Overall: A pretty decent episode with a great baddie and a great story.