This is a classic Monster of the Week episode. Buffy's science teacher Dr Gregory goes missing, and the substitute teacher Natalie French turns out to be far more than she seems. There are a couple of moments that contribute to the overall arc of Season 1, but mostly this is about having fun with a new monster and allowing Xander to come central stage.
Some of my thoughts:
- It was interesting seeing Buffy from Xander's perspective in his dream sequence at the beginning; she looks so slutty with the heavy make-up!
- I enjoy the way that Whedon helps to build up character development in this episode, with just small glances or brief sentences. Here we can clearly see that Willow is painfully in love with Xander, who has eyes only for Buffy. Cordelia continues to obsess only about herself. Buffy and Willow have a couple of those 'girl' moments, where they speak volumes with just a glance.
- The flirting between Buffy and Angel ramps up, and the chemisty between them is amazing. It is easy to see that, even if Whedon had no plans to keep Angel in the show past Season 1, these encounters would have convinced him that the character had potential.
- Buffy lies to Giles about going out hunting: this is not the last time she will end up doing this.
- We have a couple of situations in this episode that will become recurring themes: Xander's unfortunate romantic track record with demons, and Whedon's ability to take a character you are starting to warm to and callously killing them off (Dr Gregory in this instance).
- Xander's middle name is LaVelle!
Well, yeah, a few - this is not an episode I would actively choose to rewatch very often! Here I was frustrated by Angel's hints about 'the fork guy'; it seemed very clumsy. Buffy then using the fork guy as a sniffer dog gives reason for the vampire being in the episode, but Angel warned her that the vamp was extremely powerful and then she defeats him in a matter of seconds off-screen! Lastly, why do we need the ominous view of the preying mantis eggs right at the end of the episode? They're never mentioned again across seven seasons!
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