Hi and welcome back to the Buffy Review Roundtable. This week we discussed Teacher's Pet, the 4th episode of the series. This one had Xander falling under the influence of his new substitute teacher, who ends up being a huge praying mantis. Yep, you heard right. Only in the Buffy world. As always, we were on a strict one hour time limit so please continue the discussion in the comments below. Also say hello to Genevieve, who joined us for the first time. Welcome!
Spoiler Warning - Although we discuss specific episodes in these roundtables, all episodes of Buffy and Angel are fair game. There may be spoilers ahead for those who have not watched both series in their entirety.
Participants - Genevieve, John, Robin, and Dahne
Robin - Groovy, so what was everyone's favorite line?
John - I quite enjoyed Buffy's translation of Angel's warning. Buffy: "That's all Cryptic Guy said. Fork Guy."
Genevieve - Maybe this: Blaine: "Girl's really gotta have something to go with me." Xander: "Something like a lobotomy?"
Robin - I liked when Buffy was talking to the chem teacher and he suggests, "Let's make them eat that permanent record."
Genevieve - Or Buffy: "...and her fashion sense screams predator." Willow: "It's the shoulder pads."
John - I loved that moment. People wearing 90's fashion criticizing 80's fashion.
Genevieve - Absolutely!
Robin - I love Giles complaining about the Sunnydale weather because I just know that would be me if I lived in California.
Dahne - I liked cranky Giles - Giles: "God every day here's just the same." Buffy: "Bright, sunny, beautiful - how ever can we escape this torment?"
Robin - However indeed.
Genevieve - Ha ha, I totally sympathize with Giles as someone from the UK, it's been like 30 degrees C here and no one can cope. I love that Joss understands Britain.
Robin - Well he did live there for a couple of years in high school.
Genevieve - Yeah, he's a bit of an Anglophile. I don't know what Miss French's accent was though.
John - Something Slavic? Mantesian?
Robin - It was South African or rather it was a South African actress trying to not have an accent and just ended up...strange.
Dahne - Giles in general is a favorite so most of what he says makes me smile. My favorite line though was: Giles: "Right, wasn't here, didn't see it, couldn't have stopped you." I have used that in everyday life. However, the line I always associate with this episode is: Buffy: "No I'm not saying she craned her neck. We are talking full on Exorcist twist." That CGI was remarkably bad, even for the 90's.
John - Ugh, so, I had this whole thing in the 90's when I was a kid about heads falling off. The inspector on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. Mr. Data on Star Trek. This particular scene, despite crappy CGI, fuelled several nightmares lol.
Other Episode Favorites:
Dahne - So what was everyone's favorite part of the episode? For me it was the music. I Already Met You was one main reason I bought the cassette when it came out. Yes, cassette.
Robin - I don't know that I had a favorite part. The episode for me was just sort of...there. You know didn't hate, didn't love it.
Genevieve - I didn't mind this episode, I feel like it kind of set up the character of Xander in a way. It reminds me also of the episode where he tries to put the love spell on Cordy and all the women in Sunnydale fall for him.
John - I enjoyed Cordelia's session with the school counselor. Otherwise, again, it was kind of a weak episode. Better banter than Witch though, so that was fun.
Genevieve - I think Xander's guitar solo interlude when he's talking to Miss French. Loved it! Oh Xander if only you knew then that one day you'd turn out to be a bad ass, eye patched hero with a sexy ex-demon girlfriend
Dahne - I loved Xander's guitar solo too. It was really funny.
John - Oh! Yes. His entire scene at Ms. French's places was fantastic. "So that's a martini, huh?"
Dahne - I really liked Smart Buffy in this one. She figures almost everything out and does research on her own to solve the problem. I think Mr. Gregory was a great add too for the first 3 minutes he was in. Sad he had to go. I liked seeing teachers believe in Buffy and try to inspire her.
Genevieve - Yeah absolutely, Mr. Gregory was great. Teachers on this show are like Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers in Harry Potter, doomed. I didn't even remember Principal Flutie til this rewatch.
John - It was definitely nice having a figure of authority not named Giles or Joyce who believed in Buffy for once.
Robin - Yeah Flutie was such a non-character and then barely mentioned after his death (a warning to Principal Wood was that the previous two had been eaten.)
Dahne - I loved Mr. Flutie. The principals on this show had such interesting personalities. Another thing I loved was Giles telling off that guy on the phone. Definite shades of Giles to come.
Robin - At what episode did Buffy become must see TV for everyone?
John - I have no clue yet. Like, the pilot was great, but I'm waiting for S1 to pick up a bit. I know that some people on twitter doing live rewatches have had their minds blown by S2.
Dahne - Season 2 is when Buffy became my obsession.
Robin - Season two was when it became mine as well.
Robin - What were the least favorite parts?
John - I think this episode did a lot to make me less angry at the writers about Xander's insecurities. I'm not happy with this episode's treatment of sex and virginity - we can get to that if we have time, but no worries since we said we'd discuss thematic content more this week - but his insecurities seemed less unpleasantly based in machismo and more coming from a place of loneliness? Maybe?
Robin - Anytime people talk about virginity it has to be this whole big thing; it's never a non-issue.
John - Was it CGI? I thought it was just puppets?
Dahne - Actually that makes a lot more sense. Either way I got more cheesy than scary from it.
Robin - It was a reuse of a puppet from Babylon 5. Either way, cheesetastic.
John - Yo, it was from Babylon 5? That's fantastic. Talk about a show with the worst CGI ever.
Dahne - I would like this episode better if it weren't about teacher-student relationships. That squicks me out. In fact, I liked this episode best when I first watched it. Each time I rewatch I like it less.
Robin - Me too, I'm not sure why but the disliking has started to outweigh the liking.
John - Agreed. I can remember enjoying this episode in my first watch through. This episode was pretty mediocre in retrospect.
Genevieve - Angel is pretty weak for me in this episode. He's kind of a douche at this point.
John - Also, was he really not capable of handling Fork Guy?
Genevieve - Yeah, he could pretty easily have handled 'silverware man'. Another of my fave lines
Dahne - I will say that I liked Angel better in this one than in the first 2 episodes though.
John - Did you like Angel better because he had a single scene?
Dahne - I liked Angel better because he had fewer words and more body language. That worked better for me as a whole.
Robin - Angel's kind of a douche until they decide to make him a love interest and a vampire.
Genevieve - Isn't he already a love interest by this point? We have the whole love rhombus of Willow fancying Xander, Xander fancying Buffy and Buffy fancying Angel (do you use 'fancy' in the US?)
Robin - There's not so much a use of the phrase "fancy" but there should be.
Dahne - I agree that Angel was set up as a love interest from the first scene.
John - It definitely slipped by me that he was a virgin and likely kind of lonely :(.
Dahne - Was he a virgin or did she kill him for the position? It looked like she killed him straight away without doing it during copulation but then we get the egg sack scene at the end - which was great by the way.
John - I think it was implied based on his lack of head.
Genevieve - Well she removed the head which is specifically what they do post-copulation so I assumed that he must have been. It's at least implied.
Robin - But he wouldn't have fit in the freezer with a head so maybe it was more of a space issue.
Genevieve - Ha ha!
Dahne - Or just her favorite way to kill.
John - Oh, here`s a great place for me to point out that the praying mantis copulation decapitation is just a myth. Turns out that starving insects in captivity don`t deal well with starving or captivity. This rarely happens in nature.
Robin - A case could be made that she's kept in the captivity of society.
Dahne - I did find it disturbing though that it specifically mentions that Xander's parents knew he went to his teacher's house for a project. Even in the 90's that would have been a signal something was very wrong. No parent should be okay with that.
Robin - I had an English teacher who would have groups of people over to work on extra-circular activities but I can't think of one instance of a one-on-one outside of school.
Genevieve - Yeah, I mean it was disturbing, especially considering she clearly didn't have to, that she used the position of a teacher and abused her pupils
John - To be fair, do we ever see Xander's parents? Or maybe this was kind of a way to foreshadow their
Robin - I think we might see his dad briefly in the wedding sequence.
Dahne - He talked about his mom a few times but I'm not sure if we ever saw her.
Genevieve - I think his mum is in one episode
Dahne - All parents seemed to be pretty much absent in their kids' lives on this show except Joyce. It did make all their excuses fly a little more smoothly since we never saw them.
Genevieve - Yeah, and it just emphasizes Giles position as a substitute father figure for them all
Dahne - Giles as father figure to all, but especially Buffy, is my favorite thing about this series.
"Bad Love" Episodes:
Genevieve - True. I think it's a little weak that she went to so much effort to get that teacher position (stealing that older lady's identity, etc.) when she could clearly have just walked up to Xander or Blaine without the pretense.
Dahne - Plus they said that she was attracting males with pheromones so she could have gotten males anywhere.
John - Bad love episodes?
Dahne - Bad love episode - an episode where one of the characters falls for someone only to find out they are the monster. Like Willow and the computer demon, Xander and Mummy girl, Buffy and Angelus? Even Joyce and Ted fits.
John - That was a thing? Interesting. True. Awesome. That's some fun metaphorness. HE'S SUCH A MONSTER. (Or in this case, she. She is a monster.)
Robin - Not really a fan of the "bad love" episodes in general because there isn't usually enough time to care about the relationships.
Genevieve - Yeah, exactly
Dahne - I loved when Angelus became the metaphor for sleeping with someone and then them acting like somebody else afterwards. That was my favorite metaphor of the whole series.
Robin - I loved the follow through of the metaphor in "I Only Have Eyes for You."
Dahne - That was an awesome one too.
Genevieve - It was a great way of relating the supernatural with the everyday which this show was fantastic at.
Robin - What parts of this episode paid off later in the series?
Genevieve - Setting up the relationships between the characters, Willow and Xander especially.
Dahne - Music, "bad romance", and the end where we see the story isn't really over even if they never go back to it again.
John - Oh that's true, eh? Just like last week, they didn't follow up.
Robin - Early Buffy didn't have a great follow through record.
John - Honestly, I'm okay with that. Given that early Buffy was some of the weaker Buffy, it's probably best that the show didn't dwell.
Genevieve - But the thing is, in the context that they're sitting on top of a hellmouth, those eggs were just one
of a thousand potential threats so follow-up didn't matter so much as foreshadowing general horrible stuff to come.
Robin - Maybe the eggs didn't hatch. Or maybe they were killed by something else when they were small...
Dahne - Follow-up didn't bother me either since it was just a fun nod to the monsters continuing.
John - Yeah, fair enough all around.
Dahne - Yeah, who knows what other big bad could take out the small monster issues.
Genevieve - Yeah and a fun nod to horror movies
Dahne - I like that they allowed Xander to machete the egg sacks since he was the one who was most hurt by the situation.
Dahne - Last 7 minutes - any last words about this episode? I'm not a huge fan of this trifecta - Witch, Teacher's Pet, or the next one - but then we get The Pack, which I love.
Robin - I barely remember the next one even though I must have seen it four times.
Genevieve - I actually also love that the weapon they use against Miss French is bat sonar, bats being traditionally associated with vampires
Robin - Loved the bat sonar and Giles plays the wrong side of the tape.
Dahne - I love that it was Buffy who figured out to use bat sonar. Smart Buffy rocks.
Genevieve - AND she used the vampire to find Miss French
Dahne - Buffy using the vamp totally shocked me the first time I saw this. Such a smart move.
Robin - Smart Buffy should have been a more regular feature. I feel like her brains were played down a lot as the series went on.
Dahne - I agree that Buffy seemed to lose her common sense and brains as the series went along and it was such a disservice to the show.
Genevieve - Yeah I love Buffy's smarts in this ep so much. I actually think that there were such great moments for her character here. Dr Gregory's belief in her and her delivering on it, and the beautiful end scene when she takes a moment to pick up his glasses. I wasn't a huge fan of the episode, but i couldn't have done without it for these moments. And when she took charge of everyone and gave them jobs to do, Captain Buffy ftw
Robin - Those moments are why the episode should be remembered. The giant praying mantis, not so much.
Dahne - This episode does excel in the moments. I adore that she put his glasses in his pocket as well. A great memorial for the teacher that believed in her.
Robin - I like that Captain Buffy! It makes it sound like they're a team unlike in season seven where she seems to try and make it not a team.
Dahne - I think the scene where Flutie is forcing her to see the counselor is great as well.
Genevieve - Ha ha absolutely, especially as she eventually takes that very job
Robin - See now I'm not a big fan of forced counseling.
Dahne - I am not a fan of forced counseling either but I thought the scene was awesome.
Genevieve - I think that the scene was actually a gripe at forced counseling
Dahne - Agreed.
John - Like I said, I was really uncomfortable with how they dealt with sex and virginity this episode. It's certainly an age-appropriate topic that requires some nuanced treading, but things like Willow's declaration that she's proud of Xander for making the right choice feed into some unpleasant narratives.
Robin - YES! Willow's line to Xander definitely made me uncomfortable in terms of what it was saying.
Screencaps by Collider, Daydream Nation, Buffy Wikia, Stoopid Monkey, Buffy Screencaps, Teacher's Pet, BtVS Obsessed, Skyler and Buffy, and Return to Nothingsville.