Xander is treating biology class with the respect it deserves and daydreaming about saving Buffy’s life at the Bronze. The lesson is insect life and Buffy’s slaying duties have clearly got in the way of her homework again, so when Dr. Gregory asks her to stay behind after class she is expecting to be in yet more trouble. Instead, he tells her that, despite what it may say on her permanent record, he thinks she is bright and intelligent and could do very well providing she does the homework thing. Pleasantly surprised in a teacher actually showing some confidence in her, Buffy leaves the class.
As she does, Dr. Gregory switches off the main lights and is looking at some slides when a huge and horrific, spiny claw attacks him and drags him off for dinner.
That night in the Bronze, Blayne is boasting to his pals about his many sexual conquests as Xander walks by looking for Buffy and Willow. Xander interrupts their conversation with a quip and wishes he hadn’t when Blayne questions him about his sexual conquests. Spotting the girls, Xander moves off, putting his arms around them in an attempt to prove his manly manness to Blayne. Willow is thrilled and clutches tightly to Xander, while Buffy is distracted by the fine figure of Angel standing in the doorway.
She goes to meet him, leaving Xander bemoaning Angel’s buffness to Willow. As Xander and Willow watch, Buffy and Angel talk and he removes his coat, placing it around her shoulders and revealing three long wounds to his arm. With some slightly more graphic than usual cryptic clues as to the thing that hurt him, he leaves. Buffy watches him go and then returns to her waiting friends.
The next day, Buffy tells Giles what Angel said and he goes off to research it as Xander approached her and Willow with the news that Dr. Gregory is missing. He is soon distracted from the news by a vision walking towards him. All boys stop to watch as the dazzling substitute science teacher walks across the school grounds and asks Xander the way to the science lab. Confused by her beauty and her talking to him, Xander has difficulty speaking and the nearby Blayne takes over and leads her away.
Walking into Biology class, Buffy notices Dr. Gregory’s glasses on the floor and picks them up, wondering why he wouldn’t have done that himself. All the boys in the class, including Xander and Blayne are riveted by the new teacher, who introduces herself as Natalie French and gives a lesson on the Praying Mantis. When she asks if anyone wants to stay behind after class to help make some Praying Mantis egg sacks for the school science fair she is pleased to find that every male in the class is willing to help.
It’s, lunchtime in the school cafeteria and Buffy, Xander and Willow are in the queue when Blayne dashes through with a plate full of goodies to set him up for his forthcoming one on one with Miss French after school. He gloats that he got picked first and Xander second and leaves as Cordelia comes marching in heading towards the fridge in search of her medically prescribed lunch. As she opens the fridge, she finds not her lunch, but the decapitated body of Dr. Gregory.
In the library, the three friends and Giles discuss what happened. Giles has been researching the “fork” guy that Angel mentioned and has found references to a vampire that cut off his own hand when he displeased The Master and also news of a homeless guy shredded to bits in Weatherly Park. Although they can’t be sure that it was “fork guy” who killed Dr. Gregory, Buffy’s up for looking for him anyway.
That night, Buffy patrols the dark, empty park, at first nothing but a couple of homeless guys, but then a bush catches her eye. Something’s not right about it, she removes it to find sewer access from which appears “fork guy”. Their fight is evenly matched until it is broken by the sound of approaching police, one of whom turns out to be one of the homeless guys. “Fork guy” disappears and Buffy follows.
Out on the street, fork guy spies a woman walking home, carrying shopping, alone, he vaults the fence and follows the woman, Buffy just a few paces behind. She arrives just in time to see the woman turn and face the vampire, who, on seeing her face, turns and runs for cover. Buffy is more than a little surprised to find that the woman is none other than the substitute science teacher, Miss French.
The next day, Buffy reports what she has seen to Giles before heading to biology class to keep an eye on the vampire-frightening substitute teacher. She is intercepted by Mr. Flutie who insists that she see a counsellor due to the previous day’s horrific events. Buffy does so under protest and by the time she gets to class, they are half way through a test. Buffy stands at the classroom door and watches through the window as Miss French speaks to Xander, she notices that Blayne’s place is vacant and, as she does so, Miss French, who has her back to the door, swivels her head right round. Buffy ducks out of the way just in time.
After class, Willow and Buffy head to the library for more research, Giles is already there. Willow hits the computer while Buffy, figuring that while nothing human can turn it’s head all the way around, some insects probably can, heads into the stacks to find books on bugs. Meanwhile, in the biology class, Miss French is making a sandwich when Xander arrives to help with the after school project. She tells him that she has mistakenly left the materials needed to make the egg sacks at home and arranges to meet Xander that night at her place. Xander willingly accepts and, as he leaves, Miss French tucks into a nice healthy bug sandwich.
Back in the library, it’s all coming together; Buffy has found the very insect which can rotate it’s head 180 degrees, the Praying Mantis, Willow has discovered that Blayne didn’t come home last night and Giles as a vague recollection of an old college buddy who may well have come across Miss French just before he went mad.
Buffy rushes off to warn Xander while Willow hacks into the Coroner’s Office to try and get an autopsy report on Dr. Gregory and Giles heads to his office to make a quick trans-Atlantic call, pretending he never saw Willow use the computer, nevermind doing a spot of illegal hacking.
Buffy catches up with Xander just as he is leaving school, she tries to warn him about Miss French but he just thinks that Buffy is jealous because he has found someone that likes him.
That night, Xander calls at Miss French’s house at the appointed time, he finds her in a very revealing dress. She asks him in and offers him a martini, when he’s done babbling he drinks it down in one gulp, to Natalie’s satisfaction. As Natalie comes on to him suggestively, Xander hears the sounds of someone shouting for help, Natalie tries to distract by touching his hand. The drink going to his head, Xander thinks back to his earlier daydream and Buffy touching his hand and becomes rather maudlin. The shouting can be heard again and so Natalie ups her game, asking if he would like to touch her, her hands feel strange and, as Xander passes out, they turn into Preying Mantis claws which drag him off towards the cellar.
Xander wakes to find himself in a cage in Natalie’s cellar, meanwhile, oblivious to their friend’s plight, Buffy, Willow and Giles research into the night at the school library.
In the cellar, Xander soon realises he is not alone, the cage next to him is occupied by a severely traumatised Blayne who proceeds to describe in great detail what is about to happen to them while the She-Mantis prepares for the mating ritual.
Back at the library, the research is paying off, Giles learns about the She-Mantis, a beast that lures virgins back to her lair, mates with them and the eats their heads, while Willow is becoming increasingly worried about Xander, especially when she learns that he has gone to meet the teacher. They gear up for battle, Willow once hacks into the school computer to get Miss French’s address, Giles records some bat sonar in the video library (which will apparently send a mantis over the edge) and Buffy looks for something sharp and pointy.
All ready for action and address of Miss French in hand, Buffy and co set off. Arriving at the house, Buffy is boaut to take drastic action and heroically kick the door down when a little old lady opens the door and confirms that she is indeed Natalie French, retired substitute teacher. The She-Mantis has been using false details.
Meanwhile, Xander tries to comfort a distraught Blayne by pretending he as plan while the She-Matis plays eenie-meanie, miney, mo to select her next victim. She picks Xander.
Theh She-Mantis unlocks the door to the cage, Xander comes flying out, cage bar in hand, hits his captor and makes a run for it. He doesn’t get too far though and soon finds himself tied up while his captor starts laying her eggs.
Out on the street, Buffy comes up with Plan B. Grabbing some rope from her bag she drops into a sewer and comes out with fork guy, hand and fork tied behind his back. Shoving him along the street, they pass houses until fork guy freezes in fear. They have got their house.
Before Buffy can do anything about it, Claw has managed to free himself from his bonds and he attacks, thinking on her feet, Buffy grabs a plank of wood from the picket fence and stakes him. They head for the house.
Inside the mantis approaches Xander, who struggles and screams for help;p, which comes through the window in the form of Buffy. Dropping to the floor, she sprays the mantis with two cans of bug spray, giving Giles and Willow the chance to untie Xander and rescue Blayne, while Buffy goes after the retreating bug.
Retrieving the tape recorded and a machete from her bag, Buffy approaches the mantis, pressing play on the tape recorder only to hear Giles’ voice coming out of it. Seizing the moment, the mantis strikes, knocking the tape recorder out of Buffy’s hand. Giles races to retrieve it while Buffy and the mantis fight. She-Mantis has Buffy on the floor, ready to strike when Giles grabs the recorded and plays the correct side of the tape. With a screech, the mantis backs off, giving Buffy time to regroup and get to work with the machete.
In the aftermath of the battle, Buffy, Willow, Giles and a very thankful Xander and Blayne, stare at what is left of Miss French/She-Mantis. It is a lovely moment until Willow mentions the whole “only preys on virgins” thing, then Blayne threatens a lawsuit and Xander starts hacking away at the eggs with the machete.
Buffy is in The Bronze when Angel arrives to congratulate her on her latest vampire kill, she offers him her jacket but he tells her that it looks better on her, they share a moment, and he is gone.
Biology class resumes without Dr. Gregory or Miss French, as class ends, and the students file out, Buffy notices Dr. Gregory’s glasses where she left them. Picking them up she takes them to the closet and leaves, not noticing the almost hatching egg sacks hanging in there.
- The praying mantis puppet was originally used in Babylon 5 as a Na’Grath, which Musetta Vander also guest starred in .
- At the end of the episode we see a nest of fertilised She-Mantis eggs in Dr. Gregory’s closet. This tease was never followed up throughout the entire series.
- This is the first time that Xander falls for a demon. This will be a recurring theme throughout the series.
- Xander: It’s funny how the earth never opens up and swallows you when you want it to.
- Buffy: No, I’m not saying she craned her neck, we are talking full-on Exorcist twist.
- Giles: This computer invasion that Willow’s performing on the coroner’s office, one-one assumes it is entirely legal?
Buffy: Of course.
Giles: Right. Wasn’t here. Didn’t see it. Couldn’t have stopped you.
- Giles: See, that’s the thrill of living on a Hellmouth! There’s a veritable cornucopia of, of fiends and devils and , and ghouls to engage….. Well pardon me for find the glass half-full.
- Giles: That’s all he said? Fork Guy?
Buffy: That’s all Cryptic Guy said: “Fork Guy.”
Giles: I think there are too many guys in your life.
- When Buffy finds Dr. Gregory’s glasses on the floor, she puts them on the table. In one shot she places them with the arms folded out right side up, in the close up, the arms are folded in, and int he next shot they glasses are upside down.
- When Miss French is eating her sandwich at her desk, the sleeves on her sweater go from being up around her elbows to down to her wrists between shots.
- Already Met You – Superfine (playing in The Bronze)
- Stoner Love – Superfine (when Xander smashes the mantis eggs)
Characters and Story © Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy & 20th Century Fox