Saturday, February 16, 2008

Teacher's Pet

Ben says:

Xander: She's not an insect, okay. She's a woman. And hard as it may for you be to conceive, an actual woman finds me attractive. I realise it's no Mystery Guy handing out leather jackets. And while we're on the subject, what kind of a girly name is "Angel", anyway.

Buffy: What does that have to do with...?

Xander: Nothing. It just kinda bugs me.

Another clever standalone episode. I've always been partial to the Xander-centred episodes, and Willow-centred episodes. In this episode the teacher-crush storyline is given the Buffy treatment, as Xander finds himself falling for a giant praying mantis.

Once again the metaphor is apt, and well-done. Xander is given some nice moments, and we get to see a bit more of his crush on Buffy, as well as his bitterness at her lack of reciprocation. We also get another little flash of Willow's crush on Xander. These elements give the story a little more interest, with what is a mostly pretty predictable plot.

It's not as funny as a lot of Xander episodes, although there are some nice touches; the moment where Buffy pulls out the dictaphone is one of my favourites. There are also some poignant moments. Xander's character gets a little more depth in this episode, and we get to see some genuine frustration at his lack of female attention, especially his increasing realisation that Buffy has no interest in him, which culminates in his attacking the egg-sacks. The contrast between his fantasy at the start of the episode and the way Buffy shoves him out of the way to save him from the bug is telling and sad. Buffy, too, is given some added development, with the portrayal of her touching and sad relationship with the biology teacher, the only teacher who recognises her intelligence and potential.

There are a couple of silly moments. Why the praying-mantis decides to show off her head-twisty trick in the middle of school, for instance, or keeps her bugs in a tupperware container marked "food". Seems a little like she wanted to be caught :-)

Anyway, another pretty good episode. The series is gaining momentum after the average start, but it's not yet hit its straps fully.

I give it three Xanders.

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