What will happen when a new teacher comes in and shakes up the chemistry/biology hybrid class at Sunnydale? (Stay tuned) Will anyone use the library for anything other than monster hunting? (Not Yet) Will Xander stop being a creep to his friends? (No) How we go from ants in class to learning about the mantis with no heads up? Find out this and more as we discuss the S1E4 episode “Teacher’s Pet”.
Dreams that Freddy Kruger would steer away from
Remember in the episode 2 review where I said that Xander had improved and grown as a person. Man, was I wrong in that assessment of him. We open in what looks to be The Bronze and vampires having interrupted yet another concert on a school night. Buffy came in to do what she usually does but is quickly overcome by a vampire and pinned down onto a pool table. Just when it seems we are shooting for a mini-series, she was surprisingly saved by none other than Xander. Xander quickly took care of the vampire, while weirdly giving off Angel vibes. Even weirder than Xander having given off these dark, broody vibes, Buffy came across as meek and damsel-like. After all of this, he still managed to kill the vampire and still jump onstage to play with the band. Yikes.
Of course, this was only a daydream as we snap back to reality (Sorry, Eminem) to the trope of all the main characters all in the same class, this one being the chemistry/biology hybrid we saw in the last episode. So we can see Xander’s lack of emotional growth as he is having weird daydreams of Buffy and being the hero after he has been rebuffed quite openly. After waking him up, Buffy was asked a question about ants by returning teacher, Dr. Gregory. Buffy can answer with help from Willow, which Dr. Gregory notices.
Kombating Education with Science
After class is over, he stops Buffy as she leaves. Dr. Gregory shows actual concern about her and her work, mentioning that Buffy does show potential and he was her to succeed. After she leaves, Dr. Gregory gets to his sciency science stuff, complete with slides and microscopes. A large bug-like appendage grabs him by the shoulder. The poor man looks back and screams. Fade to black, cue classic guitar riff.
Cut back to the Bronze, where we meet the ‘oft-mentioned’ character, football star Blayne sitting with his friends talking about all his ‘conquests’. They stop Xander as he weaves through the crowd asking how many of his own ‘conquests’ he had of his own. Instead of making up excuses of ‘she goes to another school’ or just leaving awkwardly like a lot of us did, he said that he not only had one, he had two. He decides to show this by somewhat creepily putting his arms around both Buffy and Willow, which Buffy quickly rebuffs.
Everyone is sitting outside the school the next day weirdly talking about Dr. Gregory. Not about him not being there or him being sick, specifically that he is missing. As the gang discusses this, a beautiful woman walks up and introduces herself as Natalie French, the new substitute for bio/chem. As she simply asked for help finding the room, both Xander and Blayne fall all over themselves to show her to the room, in a way that would make normal people ask for someone else.
Your Buffy Fun Fact of the Episode
Miss French is played by an actress named Musetta Vander, who has a strange connection to the first two episodes of Buffy. She played Sindel in the awful movie Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Luke the Vampire was played by Brian Thompson. He played Shao Kahn in the same movie.
These eggs ain’t for eatin’
Well, what do you know? Not only is the Scooby Gang in the same class, so is Blayne. Miss French introduces herself and instead of continuing the lesson on ants, she begins talking of praying mantises (I wonder why?). She then gets the bright idea of making bug eggs for the science fair. Um, don’t think that is how science fairs work. I took place in one myself in high school, quite horribly mind you. While we were tested about our experiments by the science faculty, the idea for experiments was all our own. Anyway, after Miss French asks for volunteers, all the boys of course raise their hands, including our Doofus Duo.
Walking through the lunch line, Xander cannot shut up about how Willow and Buffy could not understand how Miss French could pick such a ‘stud’ like him. Buffy showed she understood in a somewhat humorous way, but Xander was too busy being his usual creepy self to notice. Of course, Blayne had to butt in and mention he is going over to Miss French’s house first. Wait, what?! We are working on projects, alone, at a teacher’s house? How many red flags do we need to raise?
After all this mess, Cordelia pushes back Buffy so she can get her ‘medically prescribed lunch’ that her doctor drops off every day? What doctor has time to drop off a vegan, cage-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, organic lunch every day? Cordelia opens one of the refrigerators in the kitchen and screams…bloody murder. Inside it, next to her special lunch is the headless body of Dr. Gregory. No head, just the body.
If Not the Vampire, Then Who?
Giles is in the ‘oft-used’ library comforting the Gang after rightfully being rattled by the sight of Dr. Gregory’s body. With none able to come up with an idea of who or what could do this, they somehow come upon a vampire (of course). This vampire has some sort of metal blade on what used to be his hand after cutting it up for penance. After not going out after him, Buffy does as expected…and goes after him. Buffy quickly finds him and has a quick tussle that is almost as quickly broken up by the police, causing the vamp to hop a fence, running into a new possible victim, who happens to be poor Miss French. However, she gives him one look that causes him to hiss and dive into the sewer, in full view of Buffy.
Rushing to make the chem/bio class before she is late, Buffy is stopped by Principal Flutie. He is requiring her to attend counseling as she was one of those who found Dr. Gregory’s body. After losing the argument with him, she sits outside the room and waits for the psychiatrist, who is speaking to Cordelia. What follows is a funny scene where Cordelia talks about she has lost weight since the incident. She says that they shouldn’t kill a teacher every day, but she did lose 7 1/2 ounces. Buffy finally makes it back to class but grumbles at the sight of a pop quiz. Before she can open the door, she sees Miss French turn her head a full 180 degrees and look at the door.
WHERE ARE THE PARENTS?!
Buffy heads back to the Scooby Shack to tell Giles and the rest what she saw ala ‘The Exorcist’. They determine that while she is obviously not human, there are some bugs that can turn their heads around like that. Xander walks into Miss French’s room to talk about the project, as overeager as usual. Xander seems ready to go to work on the project, but alas. Miss French accidentally left the supplies at home and invites him over to do the project there. Once again, how many red flags do we need? Once he leaves she makes herself a sandwich of mayonnaise and live bugs.
The remaining members of the Gang are in the library and figure out that the only bug that can turn their head like that is the praying mantis. They are trying to figure out just how Miss French can be a giant mantis yet human. Giles remembers a colleague from Oxford who studied both entomology and mythology (of course he did). Before he could explain further, Willow finds out that Blayne’s mom had just put in a 911 call. Wait a minute. Now, I am not a parent, so I cannot speak from experience, but this seems off. Your son did not come home from school at all, was gone all night, and was not in bed in the morning. Yet you wait until lunch to call authorities?!
My Sacrifice, more than just a Creed song
Buffy goes to try to catch up to Xander and warn him about what Miss French really is. Does he listen to reason and not go to the meeting? Of course not. What show did you think we were talking about? So of course, he goes over to Miss French’s house. Since they are working on a science fair project, of course, she changed into a very tight and short dress and is pouring martinis for her and a minor. She instantly starts to try to seduce Xander and he starts to get all tongue-tied and ‘hyuk’. She is sitting with him on the couch waaaay too close and offers him one of the martinis. He instantly chugs it because you never sip a martini. Of course, something is wrong as he collapses on the floor, his drink being drugged.
Xander wakes up in a cage adjoining the other half of the Doofus Duo, Blayne. He looks over and sees Miss French in full-on She-Mantis mode. Fun fact #2: The model for the She-Mantis was used previously in the popular 90’s Sci-Fi show Babylon 5. Back at the Shack, we see Giles on the phone speaking to someone trying to be stern and forward, kinda cute actually. Willow is able to find color pictures of the autopsy of Dr. Gregory. This actually bothers Willow as she still genuinely cares for Xander, minus his flaws. Cutting back to the basement, the previously full of bravado Blayne is scared after telling Xander what Miss French does. After talking to his colleague, Giles finds out that the Mantis specifically targets virgins to breed with.
Raid and Swords. Best way to kill giants bugs.
The gang then hurries after getting the address of Miss French from the personnel records in the office. They quickly go to the house on record and ARE met by a Natalie French, but not the one they wanted. This one was a sweet older lady who retired in the 1970’s from teaching. Yet another Buffy Fun Fact: The lady who plays the real Miss French is played by an actress named Jean Speegle Howard. If the last name seems familiar, she is the mother of Ron and Clint Howard. Seemingly stuck with where to go, Buffy runs off with an idea to find the She-Mantis.
Somehow, Buffy is able to find the metal-handed vampire who was run off by Miss French earlier. She uses him as a sort of tracking device to find out where she really lived. Once he recoils at the right house, Buffy does the kind thing to him for helping and stakes him. They are able to get to the basement just as the She-Mantis is about to breed with Xander. The final battle is on! Do we use lasers? Incantations? Some super cool reverse spinning 720 kick? Nope. Bug Spray. Well, more than that. They used a recording of bat sonar to scramble the nervous system, hit it with a double blast of bug spray, before Buffy finds a machete and goes full-on ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ on it. The team can finally relax now that they are free of the Mantis. Ever the grateful one, Blayne threatens to sue if it gets out he is a virgin.
But wait! There’s more! No…no there isn’t.
Back at the Bronze, Buffy is having coffee of some sort when Angel shows up. To be honest, I forgot to mention he was also at the beginning of the episode to help her with the vampire problem mentioned. He also gave her the leather jacket that she wore for a long time after, ever the gentleman. We close the episode with the new chem/bio teacher who comes across as very strict and grade heavy. As class ends, Buffy finds a pair of Dr. Gregory’s glasses on a desk and thoughtfully puts them in a closet as we pan down to some bug eggs under the desk that looks like they are about to hatch. Wait? More bugs? Are we getting a recurring villain who is gonna terrorize for many seasons? Nah, they never get mentioned again.
The only opinion that matters. Mine.
Did I like the episode overall? I did, I really did. I did prefer episode two a bit more, but still enjoyed this. It was great to get an episode centered on another member of the Scooby Gang so we can see more of who they are. It was also nice to get something else besides witches and vampires to expand the lore of the show. Xander comes across as real skeezy at points and sadly this is not the worst this season. But if you wanted a fun episode with a somewhat original villain check it out.(3.5 / 5)
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