Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 1 Episode 4

Teacher's Pet

9
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Mar 24, 1997 on The WB
7.7
out of 10
User Rating
901 votes
53

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Xander, and most of the male population of Sunnydale High, are falling all over themselves trying to impress the new substitute Biology teacher, Ms. French. When Buffy sees this femme fatale scare off a particularly nasty vampire, however, she begins to suspect that Xander may be in serious trouble.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • maybe it's 'coz I'm not Xander's fan...

    9.0
    actually, the episode is kind of interesting... but I guess it's hard for me to except any Xander's storyline that doesn't include Anya, or Buffy, or Willow, or any other main character I like. I like Xander, I really do, but somehow his own storylines make me bored.



    well, now about positive: funny Buffy quotes (like "Well, the words "bug ugly" kinda spring to mind"), funny Willow faces (like one she has while talking about Xander's lovely head), funny Giles moments (like his reaction to Buffy's question about ... yep, a lot of fun in this epi! plus, really cute Buffy/Angel scenes -- what girl doesn't want to have the jacket of mysterious gorgeous guy?



    yeah, I like this episode -- just probably not that much as others...



    FAVE SCENE: Buffy/Angel in the end of the epi.



    FAVE QUOTE: Giles (to Carlyle): You were right all along, about everything... Well, no, you weren't right about your mother coming back as a Pekinese.moreless
  • Teacher's Pet

    8.0
    This week's trio of episodes is fairly Xander-iffic, starting with Episode 4, in which Xander develops a crush on substitute teacher Miss French, who turns out to be a giant praying mantis in disguise. She bites the head off the old teachera kindly gent who earns audience sympathy early in the episode by telling Buffy, "You have a first-rate mind and you can think on your feet"then lures unsuspecting virgins like our man X to her basement lair, where she lays eggs and forces the boys to fertilize them.



    The fundamental goofiness of this particular monster-of-the-week is a strike against "Teacher's Pet", but the depth of characterization is a major game-saver. Even Buffy, who's more of a bit player in "Teacher's Pet" than a lead, has multiple well-crafted moments in the spotlight: deriding her own tendency to screw up normal life by calling herself "Destructo-Girl," putting on Angel's leather jacket and panting "whoa boy" after he leaves, getting jazzed when she and Giles start making plans to take the bug out, and feeling a sense of pride as she realizes that she beat Miss French because she did her homework.



    But Buffy's arc is nothing compared to Xander's. He begins the episode by having a lucid daydream in which he saves Buffy from a vampire. Then, when Angel shows up to warn Buffy about a new razor-fingered vampirethereby notifying the home viewers that the writers haven't forgotten about the Master plotXander's feelings of inadequacy in comparison to the handsome, brooding Angel essentially drive him directly into the forelegs of Miss French.



    Or course it doesn't hurt that Miss French is, when not in mantis form, "woman-shaped". The subtext of "Teacher's Pet" is that Xander isn't just afraid of a six-foot-tall insect, he's afraid of the practical realities of real-life sex. Sharing the cage with him at Miss French's house is Blaine, one of Sunnydale's more popular boys, who is, like Xander, a virgin. As I recall from my own high school experiences, teenage boys talk cocky when it comes to sex, but outside of the odd fantasy, not many boys would respond enthusiastically to a mature woman ordering them to fertilize her eggs. Sex at that age is supposed to be furtive, awkward and giggly, not directly tied to the mysterious and creepy biological processes by which we create new life.



    "Teacher's Pet" ends with another one of the show's stinger images, as deep in the supply closet of the Sunnydale High biology class, one of Miss French's egg sacs hangs, dripping with potential menace. But I don't think the menace has anything to do with the prospect of the monster returning. It has to do with the looming subtext of teen sexuality. Pine after each other, grope each other, make crude and misleading jokes in the cafeteria about how far you've gone and how far you're willing to gobut as this episode points out, at the bottom of everything it's all eggs and seeds and impulses.moreless
  • Mantises

    7.5
    It's always the good teachers that end up with the short sticks. The premise of this episode was hilarious, but not enough to cover up the fact that people are starting to learn about Buffy and what she does - and aren't told to keep quiet about anything. So much for trying to hide who she is... It's one of those episodes that sticks in the mind just because of how ridiculous it is. It's a prime example of how this series relies on humor above everything else.moreless
  • Teacher's Pet

    4.0
    "Teacher's Pet" is not a good episode. Where "The Witch" [1x03] comes together as a coherent, albeit relatively unimportant, stand-alone story "Teacher's Pet" simply can't completely work out what it wants to be and is further bogged down by blunt exposition. While the episode gives Xander the most screen time he's gotten yet and establishes his tendency to be, as Willow will later say, "a demon magnet," it doesn't really give much new insight into Xander that we already didn't know. So on just about every level the episode fails at what it's trying to do.



    The primary structural problem with "Teacher's Pet" involves its decision to split our attention between an overly comical 'fork' vampire and the primary monster of the week: the ridiculous she-mantis. The only purpose of the former is to further add a sense of mystery surrounding Angel while conveniently using the vampire to both expose and locate Ms. French. The predominant purpose of the latter seems to be to highlight the potency of teen sexuality, using Xander as the springboard, while also touching on the subject of female teachers sexually abusing their students. I'll concede that some of this does resonate a little due to both Buffy's rejection of Xander in "Prophecy Girl" [1x12] and S2's focus on youthful romanticism, but the execution, depth, and relevance of these ideas as presented are downright laughable at times.



    Where the episode does earn a few points is in its nuggets of deeper insight into the nature of Xander's interest in Buffy. This insight doesn't cast a particularly positive light on Xander's motives. In the opening dream sequence, for example, he sees Buffy as a girl who is significantly weaker and less assertive than he knows she really is. Xander seems to have also given himself a boost of confidence, assertiveness, and borderline arrogance that Dream-Buffy swoons over. While I totally understand how raw sexual desire can easily manifest itself in a dream, what concerns me is Xander's subconscious desire to weaken Buffy so he feels manlier. This is doing Buffy, as a person, a great disservice. At this point in time I'm actually glad Buffy doesn't have any romantic interest in Xander.



    Although I feel I've been justifiably harsh on Xander's motives, I'm willing to give him credit for evolving as the series progresses. Even though, after "Teacher's Pet," Xander still has a lot of very selfish traits to work through, he does largely drop the "I'm not man enough" shtick and deserves props for overcoming that instinct as Buffy once again saves his life. "Teacher's Pet" doesn't even seem aware that this bit of growth even happened though, as it's his actions in following episodes that indicate a change.



    "Teacher's Pet" has a few half-cooked ideas and a drop of retrospective character growth, but it just completely fails to pull all of these elements together into something coherent, enjoyable, intelligent, and smart. This failure, combined with S1's trademark production values from Joss Whedon's pocket, make for quite a poor episode. It's a broken episode story-wise, theme-wise, and character-wise which all manifest as one of the worst episodes in the entire series.moreless
  • This episode 'bugs' me

    6.0
    Although the idea is nice, and it was entertaining at times, this episode just doesn't do it for me. I'm not really sure why, really.

    We start off the episode by seeing a fantasy of Xander's, being a brave hero with stunning guitar talent, as well as being the love in the eye of Buffy. It's a bit silly to be honest.

    We then find the gang in Biology class where they are talking about insects. The teacher Dr. Gregory has a word with Buffy after class, and what at first seems to be a lecture turns out to be encouragement. One of the school's staff members actually likes Buffy! Actually, this part is my favourite part of the whole episode, and it's such a small part, so that's saying something.

    Unfortunately, Dr. Gregory is attacked by what seems to be a giant bug, which turns out to be the new substitute teacher Ms. French. She turns out to be, well, a giant praying mantis in human form, and she lures Xander into this weird chemical attraction so she can, well, mate with him to fertilize more eggs and then rip his head off... No big deal.

    I don't know what it is, but I just find myself sort of bored of this episode. I do like the message it brings though, that being a virgin is a good thing, and it's not something you should be ashamed of. But other than that, it just doesn't do it for me.moreless
Ken Lerner

Ken Lerner

Principal Flutie

Guest Star

Musetta Vander

Musetta Vander

Natalie French

Guest Star

Jackson Price

Jackson Price

Blaine

Guest Star

David Boreanaz

David Boreanaz

Angel

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (5)

    • We learn in this episode that Xander is still a virgin.

    • This is the only time Xander's middle name, LaVelle, is mentioned.

    • Goofs: When Ms. French is making her bug sandwich, she dumps the bugs onto the bread and a few scamper onto the plate. But when she picks up the sandwich to eat, there are no bugs on the plate. Also, look at Ms. French's sleeves when she's eating her bug sandwich. Depending on the angle (hands only or face and hands), the sleeves are either rolled up or down.

    • Goof: After slashing the mantis with a machete, Buffy wipes the blade on her pants. Oddly, it leaves no mark or stain on her pants, even though she had just used it to chop the bug into pieces.

    • Nitpick: It's odd that several days after his death, Dr. Gregory's broken glasses would still be on his desk. Surely, the police would have collected them for evidence.

  • QUOTES (36)

    • Natalie: The praying mantis is a fascinating creature. Forced to live alone. Who can tell me why? Buffy?
      Buffy: Well, the words "bug ugly" kinda spring to mind.

    • Xander: You two are probably a little young to understand what an older woman would see in a younger man.
      Buffy: Oh, I understand.
      Xander: Good!
      Buffy: The younger man is too dumb to wonder why an older woman can't find someone her own age, and too desperate to care about the surgical improvements!

    • Buffy: Do you know Miss French, the teacher that's subbing for Dr. Gregory?
      Giles: (smiles) Yes. Yes, she's lovely. In a common, extremely well proportioned way.

    • Xander: This is a question that no one particularly wants to hear, but... where did they put his head?
      Willow: Good point. I didn't want to hear that.

    • Buffy: So, I'm an undead monster that can shave with my hand... How many things am I afraid of?
      Giles: Not many. And not substitute teachers, as a rule.

    • Angel: I heard a rumor there was one less vampire walking around making a nuisance of himself.
      Buffy: There is. Guess I should thank you for the tip.
      Angel: Pleasure's mine.
      Buffy: Course, it would make things easier if I knew how to get in touch with you.
      Angel: I'll be around.
      Buffy: Or who you were. (Angel just smiles) Well... anyway, you can have your jacket back.
      Angel: It looks better on you. (Angel leaves, then looks back)
      Buffy: Oh boy!

    • Giles: You went hunting last night.
      Buffy: Yes.
      Giles: When you assured me you wouldn't.
      Buffy: Yes, I lied. I'm a bad person. Let's move on.

    • Xander: Well, he's buff! She never said anything about him being buff!
      Willow: You think he's buff?
      Xander: He's a very attractive man! How come that never came up?

    • Xander: (seeing Angel give Buffy his coat) Oh right, give her your jacket. It's a balmy night, nobody needs to be trading clothing out there.

    • Blayne: Seven, including Cheryl. I'll tell you, though, her sister was lookin' to make it eight!
      Blayne's Friend: Oooh, Cheryl's sister? The one in college?
      Blayne: Home for the holidays and lookin' for love! She's not my type though, girls really gotta have something to go with me.
      Xander: Something like a lobotomy?

    • Buffy (after finding Natalie's house using a vampire): Better than radar.

    • Giles: Recording bat sonar is something soothingly akin to having one's teeth drilled.

    • Buffy: And you need to record bat sonar, and fast.
      Giles: Bat sonar, right… What?
      Buffy: Bats eat them. A mantis hears sonar, it's entire nervous system goes kaplooey.
      Giles: Where am I going to find…
      Buffy: In the Vid Library. There are no books, but it's dark and musty. You'll feel right at home. Go.

    • Buffy: Well, your buddy, Carlyle faced it, and he's still around.
      Giles: Yes. In a straightjacket howling his innards out day and night.
      Buffy: Okay, Admiral. Way to inspire the troops.

    • Natalie: Should I change? Is this too…
      Xander: No, no. It's the most beautiful chest – dress I've ever seen.
      Natalie: Thank you. That's sweet.

    • Giles: Um, this computer invasion that Willow's performing on the coroner's office. One assumes it is entirely legal…
      Willow: Entirely.
      Buffy: Of course.
      Giles: Right. Wasn't here… didn't see it… couldn't have stopped you.
      Buffy: Good idea.

    • Buffy: (talking about Natalie) Whatever she is, I'm gonna be ready for her.
      Giles: What are you going to do?
      Buffy: My homework. Where are the books on bugs?

    • Buffy: (talking about Natalie French) No, I'm not saying she craned her neck. We're talking full-on Exorcist twist.
      Willow: Ouch.

    • Cordelia: (talking to the school counselor) It was... let's just say I haven't been able to eat a thing since yesterday. I think I lost, like, 7½ ounces – way swifter than that so-called diet that quack put me on. Oh, I'm not saying that we should kill a teacher every day just so I can lose weight. I'm just saying when tragedy strikes, we have to look on the bright side, you know? Like, how even used Mercedes still have leather seats.

    • Xander: So, there's something else out there besides Silverware Man? Oh, this is fun. We're on Monster Island.

    • Xander: Hey, those that can, do. Those that can't, laugh at those who can do.

    • Giles: God, every day here is the same.
      Buffy: Bright, sunny, beautiful… however can we escape this torment?

    • Buffy: (noticing big cuts on Angel's arm) What happened?
      Angel: I didn't pay attention.
      Buffy: To somebody with a big fork?
      Angel: He's coming.
      Buffy: The fork guy?
      Angel: Don't let him corner you. Don't give him a moment's mercy. He'll rip your throat out.
      Buffy: Okay. I'll give you improved marks for that one. Ripping a throat out, it's a strong visual. It's not cryptic.

    • Giles: (on the phone with former watcher Carlyle Ferris) You were right all along, about everything... Well, no, you weren't right about your mother coming back as a Pekinese.

    • Principal Flutie: I really believe if we all reach out to one another we can beat this thing. I'm always here if you need a hug, but not a real hug! Because there's no touching, this school is sensitive to wrong touching.

    • Giles: Uh, well, basically the, uh, the She-Mantis assumes the form of a beautiful woman and then lures innocent virgins back to her nest.
      Buffy: Virgins? Well, Xander's not a, uh...I mean, he's probably...
      Willow: ...gonna die!

    • Buffy: Hot dog surprise. Be still, my heart.
      Willow: Call me old-fashioned, I don't want any more surprises in my hot dogs.

    • Buffy: Well look who's here!
      Angel: Hi.
      Buffy: I'd say it's nice to see you, but then we both know that's a big fib.
      Angel: I won't be long.
      Buffy: No, you'll just give me a cryptic warning about some exciting new catastrophe, and then disappear into the night, right?

    • Xander: Babes.
      Buffy: What are you doing?
      Xander: Work with me here, Blayne had the nerve to question my manliness. I'm just gonna give him a visual.
      Willow: (throws her arms around him tightly) We'll show him.

    • Xander: You alright?
      Buffy: Thanks to you.
      Buffy: You hurt your hand, will you still be able to...
      Xander: ...finish my solo and kiss you like you've never been kissed before?
      Buffy: You're drooling.

    • Xander: I realize it's no mystery guy handing out leather jackets, and while we're on the subject, what kind of a girlie name is Angel anyway?

    • Natalie: Oh, Xander! I've done something really stupid. I hope you can forgive me.
      Xander: Oh, forgiveness is my middle name! Well, actually it's LaVelle, and I'd appreciate it if you guard that secret with your life.

    • Xander: I wonder what she sees in me? It's probably the quiet good looks coupled with a certain smoky magnetism.

    • Xander: It's funny how the Earth never opens up and swallows you when you want it to.

    • Giles: That's all he said? Fork Guy?
      Buffy: That's all Cryptic Guy said: Fork Guy.
      Giles: I think there are too many guys in your life.

    • Flutie: We all need help with our feelings. Otherwise, we bottle them up, and before you know it powerful laxatives are involved.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Featured Music:
      Already Met You by Super Fine - At the Bronze when Xander is snubbed
      Stoner Love by Super Fine - At the Bronze at the end of the episode

    • Angel gives Buffy his leather jacket in this episode, which she wears often through at least the next two seasons.

    • This episode begins Xander's unconscious and continuing attraction to women who are either evil or demonic.

    • Cordelia has just two scenes in this episode. In the original script she had another one, but it was cut for length. The scene had her approaching Buffy and Willow at the Bronze and dissing them for sitting at her favorite table.

  • ALLUSIONS (7)

    • Xander: I'm exempting shwarma, of course. I mean, what's that all about? It's a big meat hive.

      Shwarma is a meat dish of Middle Eastern origin, made with beef, chicken, or lamb, and sometimes served in a pita (variations may depend on region or personal taste).

    • Xander: Oh this is fun. We're on Monster Island.

      "Monster Island" was the name of an island in the South Pacific which was home to Godzilla and a number of other gigantic beasts in several Tokyo produced monster movies.
      Monster Island is also the name of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel crossover novel.

    • Buffy: No, I'm not saying she craned her neck, we are talking full-on Exorcist twist.
      Buffy compares the teacher's ability to rotate her head around completely on her neck to the famous scene in the classic 1973 horror movie The Exorcist, where the possessed girl (played by Linda Blair) turns her head around a full 360 degrees.

    • Blayne: Flag down on that play, babe.

      An allusion to American football where the officials call a penalty by throwing a flag. It's common to hear an announcer say "there's a flag down on the play" to indicate that a penalty will be called. Here Blayne is trying to deflect the information that he's a virgin.

    • Blayne: I think it's eenie, meenie, miney...

      Eeny, meeny, miney, moe is one of the many childhood methods of choosing among various people. The nonsense phrases come in various varieties with various lengths, but the basic idea is that you point to a different person for each word and the person pointed to on the last word is chosen.

    • Buffy: Well the words "bug ugly" spring to mind.

      A twist on the slang expression butt ugly that is specially tailored to an insect.

    • Title: Teacher's Pet

      Normally, the phrase teacher's pet means a favorite student. Here it is used ironically since the teacher herself is an insect which could be kept as a pet.

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