Teacher's Pet (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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"Teacher's Pet"
Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Buffy 1x04.jpg
Xander is seduced by Miss French
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 4
Directed by Bruce Seth Green
Written by David Greenwalt
Production code 4V04
Original air date March 24, 1997
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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List of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes

"Teacher's Pet" is the fourth episode of the first season of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The episode originally aired on March 24, 1997, attracting 2.0 million viewers.[1] The episode was written by co-executive producer David Greenwalt and directed by Bruce Seth Green. The narrative follows the Scooby Gang following a cryptic warning from Angel (David Boreanaz) and the death of the biology teacher Doctor Gregory (William Monaghan).

Plot[edit]

During a Biology lesson, Xander (Nicholas Brendon) fantasises about saving Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) from a vampire and then kissing her. After class, Dr. Gregory takes Buffy aside and urges her to apply herself to her studies more rather than becoming discouraged by other teachers' low opinions of her. She is warmed by his kindness, but moments after she leaves he is killed by an unseen monster. Later, Angel shows up at the Bronze while Buffy and her friends are there. Xander realizes that he is in competition with Angel for Buffy's affections, and losing after witnessing how Buffy is drawn towards Angel. Noticing Buffy is cold Angel gives her his jacket, and she sees his gashed arm. She infers the cut was made by someone with a giant fork, and he warns that somebody may attack her.

The next day, Buffy is alarmed by news of Dr. Gregory's disappearance, but the boys in her class are more interested in the beautiful substitute teacher Natalie French (Musetta Vander), who seems to have a fixation for insects and especially the praying mantis, becoming hostile when Buffy calls it ugly. Miss French suggests making model egg sacs for the upcoming science fair and asks for the boys' help. They are all eager to assist, and she selects Blayne (a handsome jock whose constant boasts about his sexual activities which makes Xander feel inadequate) as her lab partner for that day, to be followed by Xander the next day.

Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) finds the headless body of Dr. Gregory, leading the Scoobies to wonder whether The Master is involved or whether this is the work of a second monster. That night Buffy goes into the park and confronts a vampire who has a large claw in place of its right hand. The fight is interrupted by the police, causing the vampire to flee and come upon Miss French while she is walking home with groceries. Buffy watches as the vampire approaches the substitute teacher and then flees in terror from her, indicating that Miss French is not human.

The next day Buffy is late for her Biology class. She stands at the door about to enter the classroom, and is horrified to watch as Miss French seems to sense somebody at the door and then turns her head fully 180 degrees like an insect to see who it is. After the class, Miss French claims to have left supplies at home and so asks Xander to come over to her house that evening and work on the egg-sac project there instead. After Xander leaves the classroom, she consumes a meal of crickets on bread.

Back in the library, Buffy realises that Blayne never returned home from helping Miss French. She suspects that Miss French must be a praying mantis, and convinces the others. Giles recalls an old friend of his in England who investigated a spate of grisly murders, all the victims of which were teenage boys. The friend claimed the murders were being carried out by a creature known as the "She-Mantis", or the "Virgin Thief", which preys on virgin males to fertilise its young. Buffy unsuccessfully tries to warn Xander, but he brushes her off, saying that she is simply jealous of his attraction to a woman other than her. That night, Xander arrives at Miss French's house to find her wearing a tight dress and acting in a sexually suggestive manner. She offers him a drink, which he takes and then collapses from because it was obviously drugged. She turns into her mantis form and takes his body to a cage in the basement, where he wakes up next to Blayne.

Meanwhile, Willow calls Xander's mother and finds out that he isn't home. Buffy asks Giles to record bat sonar, because she knows from her homework that this will shock the nervous system of a praying mantis and drive it into a fit. The Scoobies then go to the house where Miss French supposedly lives according to school records, but find a retired teacher there whose name the mantis has stolen. Desperate to find the real house before it's too late, Buffy tracks the one-handed vampire and forces him to locate the correct house, which he can tell because he is so instinctively afraid of the mantis. After killing the vampire when he turns on her, Buffy breaks through the window just as Miss French (now in mantis form) is about to mate with Xander. She burns the monster with insect repellent while Willow frees Xander and Blayne. Giles and Buffy then slay the giant insect, using the bat sonar to send it into convulsions so Buffy can hack it to death with a machete.

Buffy and Angel later meet at The Bronze. She still has his jacket, but he tells her to keep it. Buffy is obviously attracted to him. The next day, Buffy sadly puts Dr. Gregory's glasses back in his closet, not noticing that a sac of she-mantis eggs is attached to the bottom of a shelf and one begins to hatch.

Broadcast and reception[edit]

"Teacher's Pet" was first broadcast on The WB on March 24, 1997. It pulled in an audience of 2 million households.[1]

Noel Murray of The A.V. Club gave the episode a grade of B. He wrote that the "fundamental goofiness" of the premise was a "strike against" the episode, but that it benefited from "depth of characterization". Murray commented that the episode's subtext was the teenage fear of the reproductive practicalities of sex.[2] A BBC review said that the episode "struggles to tread new ground" and was "uncomfortably paced". However, the review praised the effects of the praying mantis and some "delightful moments".[3] DVD Talk's Phillip Duncan was somewhat disappointed with the episode, calling it a "by-the-book monster thriller set in the high school". Despite the standardness, he felt that it was still "worth watching".[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Nielsen Ratings for Buffy's First Season". Archived from the original on 23 August 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Murray, Noel (12 June 2008). ""Teacher's Pet", etc.". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  3. ^ "Teacher's Pet: Review". BBC. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Duncan, Phillip (21 January 2002). "Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Season 1". DVD Talk. Retrieved 22 March 2013. 

External links[edit]