Teacher’s Pet


Tonight, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer… We’ve got a Praying Mantis Lady! She’s half-hot, half bad special effect! Xander’s crush on Buffy is briefly interrupted due to supernatural pheremones, Willow worries about him terribly, and just in case anyone was wondering, we discover he’s a virgin. Also, Angel’s hanging around again, dispensing leather jackets and making Buffy go all weak at the knees. Will Xander keep his head? Will Buffy get stabbed by the Fork-Guy? Read on…

The Good

I love dream sequences. This one could have been a bit more over the top, but then their budget doesn’t even stretch to a vampire-dusting effect for the dream, so it’s unfair to get churlish. Xander’s subconscious does an awesome job of dressing Buffy up, too. This is the first Xander-centric episode and Nicholas Brendon does well — he’s not afraid to make Xander really quite unlikeable at times which is one of the best things about the character, I’d say. He even gets some quality violence this week, beating up the praying mantis. Well, a bit. I like how he keeps his eyes firmly fixed on Miss French’s cleavage for about ten seconds when he enters her apartment.

There’s a nice touch when Buffy wanders through the park: Sunnydale has homeless people! I suppose they all moved out by the later seasons. And later, the police turn up to investigate a disturbance.1 There’s a few nice comedy moments in this episode too: Principle Flutie’s embarassed rant about how Buffy needs counselling, and he’s always there if she needs a hug, but not a real hug because there’s no touching. Buffy getting the wrong side of the audio tape that will incapacitate the baddie is pretty funny, too.

The Bad

Overall though, not a brilliant episode. The lame repartee between Xander and cool dude of the week, Blaine, is alright at first but just ridiculous after they’ve both been outed as virgins. Blaine tells everyone he’ll sue them if they repeat it, and Xander acts like he’s embarassed when it’s perfectly obvious that he’s never been laid, and Willow would have had a fair idea, and told Buffy, anyhow. You could write it all off to testosterone, I suppose, but it feels like lame-TV-testosterone rather than the real thing. To me.

Oh, and the giant praying mantis? It’s not quite as wobbly as it could have been, but it is pretty sucky. Luckily they noticed and kept the light well and truly away from it. As such, I almost forgot to mention it. But then I tried to get a screenshot of it and it just looked terrible.

The Nonsense

When Xander wakes up from his dream, Buffy tells him he’s drooling. It’s TV however, so he’s in fact not drooling, because no one does gross stuff on TV. It feels like those pimple cream ads where the girl says she has heaps of pimples, and there’s maybe one slight red mark on her otherwise perfect face.

I’m not bagging having random giant bugs, but there’s quite a few coincidences and irritations strung together this week. Why on earth would the seemingly intelligent Miss French suddenly decide it’s acceptable to turn her head all the way around? It’s lucky Giles has a friend who met the She-Mantis once, otherwise surely he wouldn’t accept Buffy’s logic that it must be a praying mantis because it’s the only natural creature with a spinning head. I’m pretty sure she didn’t have time to check out every demonic species as well. It’s also lucky that the She-Mantis happens to walk by Fork-Guy when Buffy is watching.

Especially unbelievable is that Fork-Guy is apprehensible at your slightest whim, and not in fact difficult to tie up. He’s also easily persuaded to take people to the house of monsters it fears. But then, he’s a strong contender for worst bad guy on Buffy ever, mainly because he doesn’t actually get a name. He is condemned for all eternity to be named after a bad joke Buffy made when she saw Angel’s fork-like scar. That’s rough.

The Interesting

Sunnydale High has the same teacher taking chemistry as last week. Nice continuity there. He’s really nice, too. So he dies. This is perhaps the first heartbreaking tragedy of Buffy. Well, maybe not heartbreaking, but it’s the first death I’ve really cared about. There will be others.

When Xander visits the Bronze after the credits, Superfine are playing their song ‘Already Met You’, which made it onto the Buffy soundtrack CD later on.

There’s more cute teen crushes going about. Come to think of it, they’re probably featured in every episode from now on. Xander asks Willow and Buffy to pretend to hug him to make him look cool at the Bronze; Willow isn’t so much pretending. She certainly isn’t hiding her crush from Buffy, though they’ve not discussed it openly yet. Xander of course dreams of Buffy loving him, and even when entranced by Miss French’s drug, says “I love Buffy.” He’s not, however, impressed with Angel — who starts off a bit rude this week but goes all charm and smiles at the end.

The Tally

One dream vampire gets dusted, but it wouldn’t be fair to count him. Dr Gregory gets decapitated, as well as some unlucky virgin that Blaine saw die before Xander was imprisoned. Was it a student? That’s two students so far. Meanwhile, Fork-Guy gets staked with a picket from a really small fence (just to humiliate him further), and Buffy hacks the She-Mantis to bits. So it’s two-all.

Dr Gregory was our second body discovered in a closet. Xander is the first of the group to visibly consume alcohol. I’m not sure that I can be bothered counting these in future.

The Conclusion

Not great. Funny, enjoyable to watch, but there’s a few too many things that bug me.2 Surprisingly, this is the first episode written by David Greenwalt, who will go on to be tremendously awesome. Ah well, everyone gets a few strikes, I suppose. Willow gets more adorable every week. This process is turning me back into what one might call a Willow-Xander ‘shipper, if one was lame and had a livejournal…3

  1. Maybe I’m just being my usual anti-later-season self, but I really don’t remember nearly as many nice, grounding touches like this later on.
  2. You get it? You get it? Ah, forget it.
  3. …and wrote stories about their favourite characters getting jiggy with each other, and said things like “squee!”
He's a very attractive man! How come that never came up? — Xander, on Angel

4 Responses to “Teacher’s Pet”

  1. And I may be the only ones who gets the joke within a joke of footnote 2. Yay for inside jokes. Tee hee.

  2. I also love a good in-joke. I was going to say “Do you see what I did there?” but I’d already used that this week. I hope you appreciate the picture of Angel, too.

    Incidentally, are people liking this episode reviewing format? Any suggestions? More information on the plot? Less rambling? I’m your humble servant, and more importantly, I could easily and go back and change things as I’m only four episodes in. I don’t want anyone having clever ideas at the end of season two.

  3. I did like the picture of Angel, and I was curious about whether it was the result about our recent angel-topless conversation. Much appreciated, a perfect opportunity well siezed. He was way yummier on Buffy.

  4. It was in part the result of our conversation. It seemed like an iconic moment, the giving of the jacket, too, and so worth capturing.