|Written by:||David Greenwalt|
|Directed by:||Bruce Seth Green|
|Starring:||Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers|
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
|Guest Starring:||David Boreanaz as Angel|
Ken Lerner as Principal Bob Flutie
Musetta Vander as Natalie French/The Praying Mantis Lady
Jackson Price as Blaine Moll
Jean Speegle Howard as the Real Natalie French
|Co-Starring:||William Monaghan as Dr. Gregory|
Jack Knight as Homeless Guy
Michael Ross Verona as Teacher
Karim Oliver as Bud #1
A giant praying mantis posing as a substitute science teacher sought virginal high school boys for mating and possible decapitation. Unfortunately, Xander is a virgin.
The episode opened with a vampire menacing the Bronze. Even Buffy appeared to be helpless until Xander saved the day. She was very appreciative as Xander finished off the vamp before going onstage for his guitar solo. To nobody's surprise, this was a dream sequence.
Xander apparently fell asleep during a slide presentation in science class. The teacher, Dr. Gregory, quizzed Buffy on methods of ant communication. Even with Willow miming out touch and smell behind Dr. Gregory's back, Buffy still managed to embarrass herself.
Dr. Gregory kept Buffy after class to tell her that he had seen her permanent record, but he believed that she was smart and capable of doing well if she actually tried. She was very happy to hear this. After Buffy left, a tentacle grabed Dr. Gregory from behind and killed him.
At the Bronze, Xander interrupted Blayne bragging about his sexual conquests. Blayne turned tables and asked Xander about his. Xander started to answer when he saw an opportunity. He went to Buffy and Willow, quietly told them that his masculinity was in question, and asked them to play along. Willow did so enthusiastically, but Buffy left to talk with Angel, inspiring much envy in Xander.
Angel came to the Bronze looking for an excuse to take off his leather jacket and show off his muscular arms. He also gave a slightly less cryptic warning than usual about a vampire with a fork hand.
The next day, Xander came with news that Dr. Gregory was missing. There was a little commiseration for him until a woman in a short skirt distracted Xander. She asked Xander for directions, but he was too tongue-tied to respond. Blayne swooped in and helped the woman to her class.
In science class, the woman identified herself as Natalie French, the new substitute teacher who would continue Dr. Gregory's lesson plan on insects. She did not take kindly to Buffy suggesting that they were "bug-ugly" or to those who found insect cannibalism to be disgusting. She was so enthusiastic about insects that she suggested making model egg sacs for a school fair. Everyone in the class with Y chromosomes volunteered to help her.
At the cafeteria, Buffy, with a little help from Willow, did her best to deflate Xander's belief that there was something special about him that attracts substitute teachers. Blayne swooped in to do further damage, but Xander at least had a comeback for him. Cordelia arrived for a special lunch and was quite startled to open a door and find Dr. Gregory. Or, at least, she found most of Dr. Gregory.
After a bit of discussion, the characters recognized the possibility that they were facing a threat beyond "fork guy." Despite Giles's warnings, Buffy went to investigate the scene of a previous attack and found the fork guy in his lair. Unfortunately, his hand resembled razor claws more than it resembled a fork. After a brief fight, the police interrupted, chasing the fork guy away. The fork guy saw Miss French walking home with groceries and thought that he had an easy meal. However, one look from Miss French sent him scurrying down into the sewers.
Both Buffy and Giles were intrigued by a substitute teacher who scares vampires and decided that she needed further study. Unfortunately, on the way to class, Principal Flutie insisted that Buffy visit a counselor to discuss how she felt about finding a dead body in the cafeteria.
Meanwhile, Buffy was missing an exam in class. When she arrived, Miss French turned her head approximately 150° around to look at Buffy. Buffy was quite surprised. Buffy also noted that Blayne was not in class the day after he was supposed to meet alone with Miss French to work on the egg sac project.
At lunch, Xander showed up in the science classroom to follow in Blayne's footsteps. Instead, Miss French suggested that he meet her at her home that night. Xander did not object and left her to eat her cricket sandwich.
In the library, Buffy came to the conclusion that Miss French was a praying mantis. Giles and Willow were initially suspicious, but it was not difficult for Buffy to convince them. Willow examined the coroner's report on Dr. Gregory for bite marks similar to that of a praying mantis while Buffy went to warn Xander. Xander was far more skeptical than Giles and Willow. He thought that Buffy was simply jealous and used the conversation to express his jealousy about Angel.
At Miss French's home, Xander walked into a seduction scene with soft music, alcohol, and a skimpy black dress. She offered him a martini that soon knocked him unconscious. Using her insect legs, she dragged Xander down to her basement lair and into a cell next to a terrified Blayne, who described what Miss French did to victims in as much detail as possible for 8:00 p.m. television.
Meanwhile, Giles spoke with an old colleague who was currently residing in a mental institution. Apparently, Miss French was a she-mantis who lured virgin males to their doom. This latter detail sent Willow into a panic over Xander's fate. Buffy asked Giles to get a recording of bat sonar while Willow found Miss French's address and Buffy retrieved weapons.
Buffy, Giles, and Willow went to the address that Willow found, where they met Miss French. Unfortunately, the Miss French that they found is the real Natalie French, who was a retired woman and not a praying mantis. Rather than take Willow's suggestion to knock on neighboring doors, Buffy captured the fork guy, tied him up, and forced him to locate the house of the praying mantis Natalie French.
In the basement lair, the praying mantis lady decided that Xander was to be her next victim. Xander fought well; he used an iron bar as a club and tried to escape. Unfortunately, the praying mantis was still able to tie him up and prepare for mating.
Apparently, it never occurred to Buffy that rope is not an effective way to restrain a vampire with a claw for a hand. The fork guy managed to escape and put up a bit of a fight before Buffy staked him.
Buffy jumped into the correct basement lair just as the Praying Mantis Lady was about to give Xander a "kiss." Armed with bug spray, Buffy managed to repel her in time for Giles to free Xander and Blayne. Buffy then tried to play bat sonar, but instead heard some filing advice from Giles. Giles eventually managed to play the correct recording, which gave Buffy the chance to hack the Praying Mantis Lady to death.
Xander admitted that Buffy was right and he was wrong. However, both he and Blayne strongly objected when Willow mentioned that only virgins were targeted as victims. Xander took out his frustrations on the remaining egg sacs.
In class, Buffy found Dr. Gregory's glasses still on his desk. With sad music playing in the background to tell us that Buffy is mourning, she put the glasses in the pocket of a jacket in the closet. We saw that there were a few eggs in the closet, and one of the eggs was hatching.
The battle against the Praying Mantis Lady might be the best so far.
It is fairly unusual to portray anyone male as a virgin without making the virgin an object of fun.
There is a sense of "so what" with this episode. A viewer could skip this episode without missing anything.
A monster defeated by bug spray and bat recordings could not be all that threatening.
Buffy got into two short fights with the fork guy.
Buffy with Giles, Willow, and Xander helping, managed to defeat the Praying Mantis Lady.
Willow acted out touch and smell on Xander, which Buffy interpreted as "B.O."
Buffy intended to play bat sonar and instead getting filing advice.
Willow was very upset at the thought that Xander might be in danger. She was much more upset than she was about some guy who died a couple of episodes ago and was completely forgotten despite allegedly being a good friend.
Both Xander and Blayne expected romance, or some physical expression of such, from Ms. French.
Xander—Is still a virgin, though, like most males his age, would very much like to be cured of that affliction.
Willow and Giles helped, but it was Buffy who defeated the Praying Mantis Lady and saved Xander.
Despite Giles's noting that Miss French is woman shaped and Willow's misgivings, Buffy figured out that Miss French was really a giant praying mantis.
It was not Miss French's fault that Buffy became suspicious. After all, what was she to do, let the fork guy eat her to hide the fact that she has vampire scaring powers? However, the "Exorcist twist" was not necessary and gave Buffy the information she needed to conclude that Miss French was a praying mantis.
The conversation early in the first act accurately described California weather. It is usually the same each day, but often nice. In fact, sometimes weather forecasters say that it is unfortunate that there is no rain in the forecast without a trace of irony. Southern California weather lacks the variety that one sees in say Minnesota, but it at least avoids the tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes and severe thunderstorms that are seen elsewhere in the United States. If California can get rid of droughts, mudslides, wild fires, and earthquakes; it would be even better.
I understand that Buffy was talking about Natalie French when she referred to surgical enhancements, but, I wonder how Musetta Vander feels about such comments. After all, Natalie French's body is also Musetta Vander's body. Even if there are "surgical enhancements," they are at least supposed to look real.
It is incredibly unprofessional for a counselor to hold a session with an open door so that anyone passing by can hear what the client is saying.
Tv.com's episode guide suggests that it unusual for someone to go grocery shopping late at night. Supermarkets in many parts of the United States have found it cheaper to keep a skeleton crew at night and be open 24 hours a day rather than to close for the night. Shopping at odd hours is a good way to avoid long checkout lines.
After taping bat sonar, why would Giles, or anyone else, flip over the tape to the filing advice side? It makes more sense to just leave the tape in the recorder.
"That's all cryptic guy said, 'fork guy.'" Buffy
A 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
"I haven't been able to eat a thing since yesterday. I think I lost like seven and a half 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." Cordelia
"This computer invasion that Willow's performing on the coroner's office, one assumes it is entirely legal?" Giles
"Of course." Buffy
"Right, wasn't here, didn't see it, couldn't have stopped you." Giles
"I like his head. It's where you find his eyes and his hair and his adorable smile." Willow
"You were right all along about everything. Well no, you weren't right about your mother coming back as a Pekingese." Giles
"Virgins? Well, Xander's not, I mean, he's probably..." Buffy
"...gonna die." Willow
"You do your homework; you learn stuff, like what happens to your nervous system when you hear this..." Buffy
"...extremely important to file not simply alphabetically." Giles on tape
Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.