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Season 1, episode 04
Season 104
1st release (U.S.): 03/25/97
Production number: 4V04
Last update: 02/26/05

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SYNOPSIS by Sally Dye

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers)
Nicholas Brendan (Xander Harris)
Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg)
Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase)
Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles)

David Boreanaz (Angel)
Ken Lerner (Principal Flutie)
Musetta Vander (Ms. French/She-mantis)
Jackson Price (Blayne)
Jean Speegle Howard (Real Natalie French)
William Monaghan (Dr. Gregory)
Jack Knight (Homeless Guy)
Michael Robb Verone (Teacher)
Karim Oliver (Bud #1)

Written by David Greenwalt
Directed by Bruce Seth Green

WB, Monday, 9pm


When Xander and most of the male population of Sunnydale High fall for the substitute science teacher Miss French, Buffy tries to warn him that she may not be what she seems when she sees the well-proportioned female specimen scare off a vampire. TVTome


This synopsis is by Sally Dye.

Buffy is at the Bronze, fighting vampires. One is about to bite her when Xander comes along and knocks the vampire aside. Buffy is soooo grateful. Xander jumps onstage and begins playing the guitar while Buffy watches worshipfully. Xander wakes up abruptly -- he is in science class and the teacher, Dr. Gregory, is talking about the way ants communicate. He calls on Buffy, but she doesn't know the answer. Dr. Gregory asks her to stay after class. He says he has seen her file, but he still expects good things from her in class because she has a first-rate mind. He says to forget about her file. Buffy is happy he believes in her. After she leaves, the professor is sitting at his desk when something comes up behind him and a claw-like appendage grabs him.

At the Bronze that night, Xander is being teased by his friend Blayne, who asks how many times Xander has "scored." Xander is glad when Buffy and Willow come in so he can go over to talk to them. Buffy notices that Angel is standing by the door and goes over to talk to him. Buffy asks if he has any more cryptic pronouncements to make before vanishing into the night. Angel says she's cold. Buffy: "You can take it." Angel says no, she's cold, and takes off his coat and puts it on her. He tells her that "he's" coming and to pay attention because "he'll" rip her throat out. When Buffy makes a flip comment, Angel leaves.

Buffy tells Giles about Angel's comments. He says to be on her guard. Xander comes by to tell Buffy and Willow that Dr. Gregory has gone missing, so he's guessing there will be no science class today. Buffy is disturbed about this, and Willow explains to Xander that Dr. Gregory was the only teacher who didn't think of Buffy as a felon. Xander sees an attractive young woman coming up the walk and becomes seriously smitten. When she stops and asks him if he can tell her where Science 101 is, he goes totally blank. Blayne comes up and says he will take her there himself. They walk off together. Xander: "It's funny how the earth never opens up and swallows you when you want it to." Willow and Buffy nod in agreement and smile at each other.

In science class, Buffy finds Dr. Gregory's glasses on the floor and puts them on the desk. The young woman introduces herself as Natalie French and says she is substituting for Dr. Gregory and that she is going to pick up where he left off -- with insect life. She begins telling them about the praying mantis. She wants to know who can help her with a science fair project after school, and all the boys' hands go up.

At lunch, Blayne taunts Xander for being chosen second to help Ms. French after school. (Blayne was chosen first.) Cordelia comes in to get her special lunch from the refrigerator and screams when she sees a headless body there. The name on the coat is Dr. Gregory.

Giles talks to Buffy, Willow and Xander about Dr. Gregory. Buffy says they will find whoever did this. Xander wants to know where his head is. Buffy says Angel warned her about "something" coming, and Giles remembers that a homeless man was shredded in the park a few nights ago, but it was not the same with Dr. Gregory, who apparently was only beheaded. Buffy wants to know where exactly the homeless man was found, and Giles warns her not to go out hunting until they learn more about the mysterious creature.

That night Buffy goes to Weatherly Park, where the body of the homeless man was found. She finds a hidden tunnel, but just as she is about to go in, a vampire with long, knife-like claws attacks her. She fights it, but is interrupted by a police patrol, and the vampire runs off. Buffy chases it. It climbs a fence and jumps down behind a woman walking along carrying grocery sacks. She turns around -- it's Ms. French. The vampire hisses and runs in the other direction. Buffy watches in amazement as it flees. Ms. French continues down the street.

Buffy tells Giles about the vampire and the fact that Ms. French frightened it away with just a look. Giles says they must keep an eye on her.

Ms. French tells Xander she'll see him after school. Buffy comes to class late because Principal Flutie had insisted that all students who witnessed the dead body see a counselor. Buffy looks in the door and sees Ms. French's head do a 360 degree turn. Buffy later tells Giles that Ms. French cannot be human.

Xander comes to Ms. French's room after school, just as she is fixing a snack. She asks if he would mind doing the project at her house that night and gives him her address. He stutters out that he'll be there and leaves. She goes back to her sandwich, which is made of live bugs.

Buffy discovers that the praying mantis is the only insect that can rotate its head 360 degrees. Giles remembers a colleague of his who had theorized about insect mutations. Willow finds out that Blayne didn't make it home the night before.

Buffy goes to warn Xander about Ms. French, thinking he had already had his meeting with her. She tells Xander that Ms. French is not human. Xander says that Buffy must be jealous and defends Ms. French. He leaves, but Buffy assumes he's going home.

When Xander arrives at Ms. French's house, she meets him at the door in a sexy black dress and hands him a martini. She wants to know if he's ever been with a woman. He stammers a bit, but says no. She says she knew it. He begins to feel woozy, and sees her hands turning into insect claws just before he passes out. She drags him away.

Xander wakes up in a cage in what appears to be a basement. He sees a giant praying mantis arranging some egg sacs. Xander: "Ms......French?" She-mantis: "Please, call me Natalie." Xander sees that Blayne is in the cage next to him. Blayne says he saw her mate with someone else and bite the person's head off during the act.

Giles consults with his colleague, now in a mental institution in England, and tells Buffy and Willow that Ms. French is undoubtedly a She-mantis. They lure virgin boys to their lair, mate with them, then kill them by biting their heads off. Willow calls Xander and learns that he has gone to his teacher's house to work on a science project. Buffy tells Willow to try and find Ms. French's address. She sends Giles to the video library to record bat sonar, which will affect the praying mantis' nervous system.

Buffy, Willow and Giles go to the address in Ms. French's file. They meet Ms. French -- the real Ms. French, who is in her eighties. They realize they now have no way to find the She-mantis.

The She-mantis comes to Xander and Blayne's cages and begins, "Eeny, meeny, miny, mo" to choose which one of them gets to go first. Xander volunteers to be first. He gets out and kicks the She-mantis and tries to run up the stairs. But the She-mantis grabs his ankle and pulls him back.

Buffy goes into the sewers and locates the clawed vampire. She grabs him and takes him by all the houses in the neighborhood until he indicates that they have found the She-mantis. The vampire breaks free and tries to kill Buffy, but she stakes him with a fence post.

The She-mantis is about to mate with Xander when a window breaks and Buffy jumps down into the basement, followed by Willow and Giles. Buffy sprays insect repellent at the She-mantis while Willow and Giles free Xander and Blayne. Buffy pushes the play button on the recorder, but only hears Giles speaking. Giles: "It's the wrong side!" The She-mantis knocks the recorder out of Buffy's hand. They fight while Giles gets the recorder. He plays the right side, disorienting the She-mantis so that Buffy can kill it. Finally, it lies dead. Xander says Buffy was right, and he and Blayne thank all of them for coming to the rescue. Willow says it was so unfair how she only went after virgins, and here they were trying to do the right thing. Blayne and Xander both are indignant and deny it. Willow: "I think it's sweet (Xander picks up a machete) and certainly nothing I'll ever bring up again." Xander takes the machete and destroys the eggs.

Buffy is at the Bronze when Angel comes up and says he heard a rumor that there's one less vampire walking around. Buffy offers to return his jacket, but he says it looks better on her.

The new science teacher announces a term paper. Buffy picks up Dr. Gregory's glasses and puts them in his coat, which is still hanging in the closet. As she closes the door, the camera pans down to a clutch of eggs hanging on the last shelf.


Xander's middle name is Lavelle. We learn Xander is a virgin at this point.

The band at the Bronze is Super Fine.

Fast National Rating: 2.0

This is the only time Xander's middle name LaVelle is mentioned.

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