\m/15-Minute Hellmouth\m/: Buffy the Vampire Slayer DeepWatch: Season 1, Episode 4: “Teacher’s Pet” (airdate: Monday, March 24, 1997): Part 3 of 3

30:01 – The End

Previously, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, we discovered that attractive substitute teacher Natalie French is actually a giant praying-mantis monster. Sunnydale, California, is built on a Hellmouth. Get used to it.

In the scene we were experiencing as we reached the 30-minute mark and the end of Part 2, Miss French was executing her Mrs. Robinson-style seduction of Xander Harris at her home. She had given the high school student a martini that seems to have been drugged, and had just asked Xander if he would like “to touch me with those hands.” She had previously called his hands “hot.”

Xander sees Miss French’s own hands in their true form. He calls them “serrated” as he falls unconscious. Then, the viewer sees Xander Harris being dragged away by two giant insectile claws as we reach the end of Act II.

Act III picks up immediately where we left off in the preceding scene. This time, our setting is Miss French’s horror-movie basement. Xander is in a cage.

A pointless aside: this is the first time I noticed that Xander Harris wears a lot of rings. Maybe he was trying for “Ringo” as a nickname.

As Xander notices the she-mantis preparing her nest, he says, “Miss . . . French?”

To which she responds: “Please, call me Natalie.”

Our next scene takes place in the Sunnydale High School library. Giles is on his long-distance call, talking to someone who is getting his “friend” out of his cell.

Meanwhile, Willow finally breaks into the coroner’s computer system. Buffy points out that the marks visible in the autopsy photos of Dr. Gregory match the teeth of the one insect that lops off its mate’s head during copulation. This is kind of a sweet scene, because Willow is worried about Xander, and she obviously has a crush on him. Buffy says that Xander’s not in immediate danger because she saw him leave campus.

Back to the praying mantis basement of horrors. Blayne is in the cell next to Xander’s. You remember Blayne, don’t you? Way back in Act I, he was bragging to other male students about all of his romantic conquests. Came across as a bit of a douchebag.

Blayne has seen Miss French mate with someone else, and he’s in a state of shock.

I’m not sure who Miss French’s unfortunate date was, and I don’t think we’re ever really told.

Xander says that he needs to perfect his escape plan.

At the library, Giles’s friend Carlyle knew all about the she-mantis and tells Giles everything he knows. The creature assumes the form of a beautiful woman and lures innocent virgins to her nest. Carlyle recommends cleaving all of her body parts with a sharp blade.

Willow is unable to reach Xander on the phone. His mom tells Willow that Xander said he was going to work on a science project at some teacher’s house. She doesn’t know the address.

Buffy orders Willow to get Miss French’s address from the computerized substitute rolls. Then, she tells Giles to record bat sonar—Fast! Bats eat mantises, you see, and whenever the insects hear bat sonar, their entire “nervous system goes kaplooey.” Buffy thinks that Giles might locate what they need in the vid library.

Buffy’s Slayer instincts have kicked in and she takes charge like a pro. With her minions all busy in their tasks, she’s heading for the armory.

Back in Miss French’s basement, Xander manages to work a bar loose between his and Blayne’s cells. He intends to use it as a melee weapon.

Quick, back to the library: Willow prints out the address. Giles has secured a tape with bat sonar on it.

Willow remarks that Miss French was born in 1907, according to the file.

Giles quips that she’s extremely well-preserved.

In the Mantis Dungeon, the she-mantis looks back and forth from Xander to Blayne. Blayne pleads with her to take Xander instead of him. Blayne is not a standup guy.

Giles, Buffy and Willow arrive at the address Willow found for Miss French. At this house, they meet the real Miss French, who retired from teaching in 1972. This is not the she-mantis’s nesting place.

Of course, if the creature can make itself look like a young woman, why can’t it make itself look like an old one? This didn’t occur to the Scoobies. It also didn’t occur to me until I watched the episode again.

Over in the other Miss French’s basement, the she-mantis is doing eenie-meenie-miney-mo to choose between Xander and Blayne, stretching out the dramatic tension. The act ends on a closeup of Xander’s frightened face.

As Act IV begins, the she-mantis opens the cage and Xander begins scooting out. He uses the bar to strike the monster, then runs up the basement stairs. The mantis trips him with her claws and he tumbles back down the stairs.

Back outside the real Miss French’s house, Giles, Willow and Buffy walk back to Giles’s car. Willow wonders aloud what they should do now. Giles suggests prayer.

Buffy says that she saw Miss French (the monster one, not the elderly one) walking home with groceries, so she knows that she lives in this neighborhood. Willow suggests banging on doors, but Buffy says there’s no time for that.

Buffy goes into the manhole where she saw Fork Guy disappear. She says she won’t be long.

In the monstrous insect’s basement, Xander is now rendered immobile with leather straps. The she-mantis begins to lay her eggs in front of him. Xander flashes back to class when Natalie French talked about the California mantis laying her eggs and choosing a mate.

Buffy returns from the manhole with Fork Guy bound with ropes. She wants him to tell her where the she-mantis lives. He reacts strongly in front of one house in particular. This is the one.

Fork Guy (or is it Claw Guy? I forget which one we landed on) cuts through his ropes and attacks Buffy. She breaks off a picket from the fence beside her and proceeds to jab it into his heart. There doesn’t seem to be any “dusting” effect this time.

In the basement, the bugged-out Miss French tells Xander to kiss her. Xander begins screaming for help instead. Buffy bursts through the basement window. Buffy sprays the monster mantis with bugspray while Willow and Giles enter the basement through the same window. Giles unties Xander. Buffy attempts to use the bat sonar tape, but it’s inexplicably on the wrong side.

Xander helps spray the monster-of-the-week while Buffy, lying on the floor, kicks out at her. Giles gets the tape on the right side and turns it on. It works like a charm.

Buffy begins to diligently hack Miss French into little pieces.

It’s important to point out, at this juncture, that Blayne the self-professed stud must have been a virgin to have been captured by Natalie French. Also, Xander is a virgin, although that’s not really news.

Xander knows a few things about revenge, though. He uses the machete to destroy Miss French’s egg nest.

Our next scene is at The Bronze, where Buffy runs into Angel. He heard there’s one less vamp in town. Buffy thanks him for tipping her off, but wants to know how she can get in touch with him. Or even who he is.

Angel says he’ll be around. Buffy tries to give his jacket back, but Angel smoothly says that it looks better on her.

As this mysterious character walks away, Buffy says, “Oh, boy.”

Then we get a brief outro scene in a science class with a new teacher. After class, Buffy sees Dr. Gregory’s eyeglasses where she put them. She picks them up and puts them in the pocket of his jacket, which hangs in the closet.

The sharp-eyed viewer notices that Natalie French left some eggs in the closet as well. One is hatching as the episode ends.

Who fertilized this egg? Dr. Gregory, maybe? We’re never told.

Also, this ending never seems to affect any future storylines that I can recall. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s still early in the series, and there are some things that don’t feel exactly right with the show yet. But, it has heart and characters we can identify with, and there’s a lot of good worldbuilding taking place. While “Teacher’s Pet” isn’t one of my favorite Buffy episodes, it’s not terrible. Plus, it makes you wonder about Xander’s attraction to unattainable women (and monsters).

This is a 3-out-of-5 star effort for me.

There are better episodes coming. I promise.

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