Episode 4 is written by the one and only David Greenwalt. Who is he? He's the co-creator of the spin off show Angel! This is the first episode that he put his pen to, how cool is that?
The episode starts off with Xander slaying a vampire, wooing Buffy and more or less being a rock star. The stuff that dreams are made of, or at least Xander's dreams. He wakes up in science class where Buffy is put on the spot to answer a question about ants. She gets it wrong and the teacher takes her aside after class to tell her that he expects great things from her. She is smart and an go far as long as she doesn't let negative opinions get her down. She leaves class feeling great, so of course the teacher is killed moments later.
Later that night at the Bronze Xander walks around trying to fit in, news flash, he doesn't. Nothing he does it right, or cool. He's a loser, well not really. He's a teenager trying to find his place in the world he just doesn't know where it is. He takes a seat next to some classmate talking about how much sex they have. The jock says he slept with about 8 girls and Xander tries to pretend that he is hooking up with Buffy and Willow, but Buffy takes off the moment that Angel shows up. She clearly only has eyes for her mystery man. He clearly likes her as well, he gives her his jacket and Xander couldn't be more jealous.
Angel is a bit tore up, hey he is finally doing something around here! He tells Buffy about a vampire with a fork for a hand and Buffy goes to tell Giles who doesn't seem too worried. The Science teacher who has faith in Buffy is now gone, well duh he is dead! So they have a sub, and all the guys couldn't be happier! None of them can take their eyes off of her. Xander is even drooling a bit. He can't get out a sentence and the jock swoops in and takes the teacher away. Xander is left standing dumbfounded.
As they go into class Buffy finds their real teacher's glasses on the floor. Buffy starts to figure out that something is wrong. Any normal person would have picked them up. Cordy opens the fridge at school and the teacher's dead body falls out, minus a head.
Buffy and Giles figure out that whatever killed her teacher might not be the same guy who Angel warned her off. Buffy goes to the park to check it out. While there some old homeless guy warns her to go home, that this isn't the place she wants to be hanging out at night. She finds the vampire with a fork for a hand and they fight it out but the homeless man shows up, turning out to be a cop.
The fork vampire then tries to attack the sub but she takes one look at him and he runs off freaked out. Why would a teacher scare a vampire? The plot thickens! She tells Giles and he admits that it doesn't seem right. She needs to keep an eye on her. So Buffy runs to class but gets stopped by Principle Flutie who makes her talk to a specialist. She over hears Cordy talking to one about how it is helping her lose weight and the death has helped her so much. Only Cordy!
Buffy finally makes it to class just in time to see the sub's head turn all the way around. She even puts together that she might be an insect and that the jock who worked with her yesterday never came to class. Buffy is becoming a real detective. The sub tells Xander to come meet her at her house and he agrees. He is in danger. It's nice how on Buffy the role of damsel in distress can be a guy as well a woman.
Willow's hacking skills are getting better and better. Giles finally comes around to believing Buffy and Buffy runs to tell Xander what they have found out. He thinks that Buffy is just jealous and tells her to stay out of his life. He gets to the sub's house and she is in a sexy little black dress and gives him booze. She is not a good teacher, she even starts hitting on him, asking him if he has ever had sex before. She is seducing him. She tells him that she knows he is a virgin and that is what she likes. He hears someone crying for help but she tells him it is nothing, as the drugs kick in he tells her that he loves Buffy just before he passes out.
Xander wakes up in a cage with the jock who tells him that the sub mates with you before cutting off your head. He tells her that she is a bug, proving Buffy right. Xander stays more or less relaxed. Hanging out with Buffy has mellowed him a bit. Giles finds out that she is a praying mantis who feeds on virgins. Buffy needs to hurry if she is to save Xander.
Buffy and co show up at her house to find an old woman. Turns out the praying mantis stole her identity to get into the school. They are now at a loss as to how to find and save Xander. And he needs them fast! The mantis comes for Xander and he attacks her breaking free and making a run for the stairs but she knocks him down. She sets Xander up for mating. He's all but dead.
Buffy finds the vampire with the fork and forces him to lead her to he mantis, figuring that since he is scared of her that he can detect her. He breaks free after leading them to the house and Buffy slays him. She breaks into the basement just in time to save Xander. She uses the tape recording of the bat to hurt her but it's just a recording of Giles voice. One of the funniest moments of the first season. They finally get the tape right and play the bat sound. Buffy makes quick work of killing the mantis and saving the guys. The jock threatens to sue if they tell anyone that he is a virgin. Very funny.
Buffy offers Angel his jacket back but he tells her it looks better on her. The start of romance is at a start. The new science teacher is dreadfully boring. Now the ending of this episode, much like the last one is an example of season 1 setting up so much that never came to pass. The last scene is mantis's eggs in the closet getting ready to hatch. Now if it is getting ready to hatch it isn't going to take 3 years to finally hatch, that just doesn't make sense. Also does that mean that the science teacher was virgin? So many questions that I now have.
Over all this was a cool episode and the first to really give Xander a spotlight which we can never have enough of. Unlike most of the online Buffy fan's I love Xander. He's a great character.