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Episode Battle : Teacher's Pet vs Some Assembly Required

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  • Episode Battle : Teacher's Pet vs Some Assembly Required

    When I was watching a reactor video a while back, they were pondering which was worst between these two episodes and I thought pitting two episodes against each other in a, 'pick your favourite and explain why' might be interesting when it falls across seasons, or even across the shows. So, I thought I might as well try it out first with the two that the reactor was comparing.

    What do you like and dislike about these two episodes? And if you had to pick a favourite between the two (nope, 'neither' is not an option), which would you choose?
    14
    Teacher's Pet
    42.86%
    6
    Some Assembly Required
    57.14%
    8

  • #2
    I prefer Some Assembly Required mainly because Chris's mum is really memorable to me. The way she just sits watching replays of her son's football games rings so true to me and is quite affecting.

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    • #3
      Both episodes are really skippable, but if I have to choose, then I prefer Some Assembly Required, but not by much.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thought I'd stop by

        What I like about both episodes;

        Teacher's Pet:

        Like:

        - William Monaghan gives a memorable and charming performance as Dr Gregory. Usually these minor characters don't leave much of an impression but his sweetness towards Buffy is lovely and I am genuinely moved by his passing and the final scene of Buffy tucking his broken glasses into his lab coat pocket.
        - SMG looks great in Angel's leather jacket and DB looks great in that wife beater. Superficially, it's a very good episode for both of them.
        - The episode has a pretty interesting commentary on the patriarchy/toxic masculinity and how it impacts both men and women. Xander is made to feel ashamed throughout the episode because at the mere age of 16 he's still a virgin. Buffy, who is also a virgin, falls victim to this as well and tries to defend his 'honour' to Giles and Willow ("Well... Xander's not... I mean...") because she too is led to believe it's embarrassing. Willow snaps at Buffy and the ridiculousness of it all but earlier at The Bronze is quick to leap to Xander's aid and pretend to be one of Xander's conquests to prove his manliness to Blayne ("We'll show him!"). They all fall victim to it whilst perpetuating it as well.
        - Jane Speegle Howard is hilarious as the real Ms French and this episode contains one of my favourite comedic moments from S1 - "I can't believe this! She used Miss French's records to get into the school. She could be anywhere!" "No, dear! I'm right here!"

        Dislike:
        - The Prey Mantis plot is just weird. It's the kind of story I thought they would resort to when they'd run through all the classic monster tropes so it's really strange for S1 Episode 4. Why a Prey Mantis and not a werewolf, zombie, Frankenstein etc?
        - Being so early in the series the episode still contains some weird world-building moments/scenes that are hard to reconcile with the series overall. For instance, in a town that we later learn is overrun by vampires/demons it seems strange that Buffy is able to hunt down 'Claw Guy' so easily, it's really not that shocking that a vampire would be scared of a demon, and it bugs me that when Buffy stakes 'Claw Guy' he drops dead offscreen but we never "hear" him turn to dust (we hear a thud instead).

        Some Assembly Required:

        Like:

        - I really like the Buffy/Angel scene at the cemetery in the teaser. Whenever the writers give their scenes a comedic edge SMG/DB are actually very funny together. Both Buffy and Angel get some very funny lines ("Are you crazy? You don't just sneak up on people in a graveyard. You make noise when you walk. You stomp or... yodel" & "'Danced with' is a pretty loose term. 'Mated with' might be a little closer") and it touches on some interesting moments between them (discussing Angel waking up in his coffin)
        - Love the foreshadowing to Angelus later in the season when Angel 'stalks' Cordelia. Season 2 is really clever in how it plays with Angel's dual personality throughout the first half of the season. You can interpret his character's behaviour in two ways depending on how you look at it, demonstrating he's very much two sides of the same coin.
        - Great comedy in the library scene between Buffy/Angel/Cordy/Xander.
        - I love the hints of Xander/Cordy. When Cordy is freaked out in the carpark she immediately thinks of Xander ("Xander Harris if this is some kind of joke!") and then later in the episode goes to thank him for saving his life but he blows her off and is oblivious to why he "never gets dates." The writers were playing around with them already.
        - Michael Bacall does a great job as creepy incel Eric and Melanie MacQueen is very effective as Darly's mother
        - Cordy/Charisma have some great moments this episode. Love "I thought yearbook nerds didn't come out of hibernation until spring" and Charisma's deathly scream when Daryl reveals the stitched up corpse to her

        Dislike:
        - They never succeed in making me care about Daryl which is the episode's biggest weakness as the story largely depends on it
        - It bugs me that Daryl very nearly bests Buffy in a fight. He's a frankenstein but why does that give him super strength that overpowers a Slayer? He's still a regular guy with no fighting skills or superpowers?

        Winner: Some Assembly Required. It's probably the weakest episode of Season 2 but in comparison to Teacher's Pet the series has really begun to find it's groove and it fits in better tonally with the show overall. It also has some very charming character moments sprinkled throughout and is underrated in that respect.

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        • Stoney
          Stoney commented
          Editing a comment
          Always great to see you Mogs.

        • SpuffyGlitz
          SpuffyGlitz commented
          Editing a comment
          Squee! Very happy to see you around!

      • #5
        I'll be the odd one out and say Teacher's Pet. While neither episode is my favourite, I remember that episode more because of the subtler Scooby beats (Willow and Buffy's talk, the undercurrents between her, Buffy and Xander). In SAR, which is the second episode of S2, I cared about the Cordelia parts mostly, and the Buffy-Angel scene in the beginning. Daryl just didn't compel me. And the episode follows after one of my *favourites* of S2, When She Was Bad. That automatically makes it feel anticlimactic to me. (I guess that's an unfair disadvantage, because it comes right after such a great premiere.) TP has that early season charm and despite my not liking the preying mantis storyline, it was nice for once to see a teacher actually giving Buffy her due. (Obviously that meant he had to die, lol.)
        *ETA*: Wait, I think I've inserted a certain Buffy-Willow scene from The Pack into this episode. Lol, scratch that! But the rest of what I've said still holds.

        While the preying mantis storyline didn't appeal, I liked the undercurrents of the Scooby dynamic explored. Willow's feelings for Xander, Xander's stance towards Buffy, it all feeds into Prophecy Girl and carries over into S2. I never found Daryl particularly compelling (although it's been quite a while since I've watched either.) I still enjoy selected parts of the episode, like the comedic scene with Buffy/Angel/Cordy/Xander, the way Xander blows off Cordy at the end, then goes back to musing obliviously about why he and Willow can't get dates. Those parts *are* very funny. But the Daryl storyline still weighs it down for me.

        As for the Buffy-Angel scenes in both episodes, those are equal for me. I enjoy the cemetery scene in SAR and I like that there was close follow up to the events in WSWB (one rarely sees Angel display that kind of vulnerability or jealousy) and the banter feels very couple-y. But I do like the coat moment in TP, it feels iconic, so I'd slightly lean toward that. All in all, if I had to choose one to rewatch, I'd still pick TP over SAR.
        Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 25-07-21, 04:50 AM.

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        • vampmogs
          vampmogs commented
          Editing a comment
          Listing all the things I liked about Teachers Pet made me appreciate it a lot more to be honest It was a close call for me in the end there.

      • #6
        Originally posted by Stoney View Post
        When I was watching a reactor video a while back, they were pondering which was worst between these two episodes and I thought pitting two episodes against each other in a, 'pick your favourite and explain why' might be interesting when it falls across seasons, or even across the shows. So, I thought I might as well try it out first with the two that the reactor was comparing.

        What do you like and dislike about these two episodes? And if you had to pick a favourite between the two (nope, 'neither' is not an option), which would you choose?
        Neither is great but I'd probably go with SAR which failed in execution as much as anything. TP was just awful full stop

        Comment


        • #7
          I think it is really, really tough because, as Mogs has demonstrated so well, both episodes have real strengths and weaknesses.

          I think the biggest problem in both for me is the main motw characters. Ms French and Daryl, just aren't fabulous. If I had to choose between the two of them as the only consideration I'd probably opt for Ms French being 'better' because I think she hits the notes she's supposed to, whereas I just don't end up caring for Daryl in the way I think I'm supposed to. Even right at the end when he's so desperate as the fire licks at his 'bride'. The preying mantis in itself was never a favourite monster design for me, but I think Ms French as a predatory female is really effective (if a little clichéd) and she really adds to the episode in a way Daryl as a character doesn't for me. But then the reveal of her as a mantis is neither a surprise nor especially visually effective and I think the reveal of Daryl works better. So there are ups and downs with both. But of course it isn't just them and there are real pluses in both episodes that fall to the themes and the secondary characters.

          Thematically I think they are both strong. I like the positive and negative influences from figures of authority that we see in TP and the pressures of social expectations. In Teacher's Pet the pluses that come outside of the main characters and motw mostly falls at Dr Gregory's feet and he is an especially delightful addition. I love the belief he has in Buffy and that this plays its part in how she comes to find the solution to the problem and defeat Ms French. But he isn't alone. Blayne is okay as an additional character too, if a little dull, but as another example of someone bowing to social expectations and being affected by the pressures of toxic masculinity he's good. Claw guy is awful though and I find the way Buffy readily fetches him a bit irritating. But then the real Ms French is again great.

          The themes of loss and isolation in Some Assembly are also good though. Although there isn't an individual character that I think stands out as having as great an individual impact as Dr Gregory, the three additional characters of Daryl's mum, his brother Chris and Eric are strong additions. Seeing Daryl's mum struggling to process her loss and the sadness of her missing the connection with her surviving son and the support they could give each other is the best part of this episode. Eric as a creepy villainous character too is interesting and adds an extra layer to what Chris is doing in his desire to bring back his brother. I do hope Eric got locked up for attempted murder.

          I agree it's a tough call and although neither episode are favourites they do give aspects that are really enjoyable. But working on SpuffyGlitz 's point of which I'd choose to rewatch to help me decide, I'd also have to go with TP too. The predatory adult and the contrast with Dr Gregory is great and I can look past claw guy and the mantis more than the fact I don't care for Daryl. But it is close and I think I could have gone the other way on another day.

          Comment


          • #8
            It's been a long time since I watched either of these episodes, but I remember Teacher's Pet a lot better than Some Assembly Required. That's why I voted for Teacher's Pet. It's more memorable. (To me, anyway.)
            https://www.youtube.com/c/DoubleDutchess

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            • #9
              I voted for Teacher's Pet.

              Not only does Buffy wear an oversized leather jacket she actually wears a stunning striped shift dress underneath it. It's one of her best outfits in season 1.

              As for the main plotline - I think it's just a tad more compelling to have a female preying on males in order to procreate than to watch a guy forcing a female to be his companion. I also think the actress on TP did a really good job.

              flow

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              • #10
                I'm surprised this is now currently at a draw. Initially it did look like SAR was going to take it comfortably.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by Stoney View Post
                  When I was watching a reactor video a while back, they were pondering which was worst between these two episodes and I thought pitting two episodes against each other in a, 'pick your favourite and explain why' might be interesting when it falls across seasons, or even across the shows. So, I thought I might as well try it out first with the two that the reactor was comparing.

                  What do you like and dislike about these two episodes? And if you had to pick a favourite between the two (nope, 'neither' is not an option), which would you choose?
                  Stoney, you've left out Beer Bad - which leaves this entire conversation moot!

                  Joss Whedon himself seems to have thought Beer Bad and the "Frankenstein" one - as he called Some Assembly Required" - to be the two worst Buffy episodes. But even so, they both had interesting things to say about the pitfalls of believing in certain cultural stereotypes - the football jock, the sexy older teacher - and they in some ways center on the desperation of teens to experience love and sex as seen through Xander and Buffy's relationships - or lack thereof.

                  I remember "Some Assembly Required" mainly for the unusual Buffy pratfall at the beginning - she's so flustered by her attraction to Angel that she falls into an open grave. She's very Spike-like in her infatuation at this point. As Willow winningly says in the episode, "Love makes you do the wacky." I almost feel like SAR was written during Season One and the writers were still working in that early groove - even though it's a season two episode, we're still running with the original pilot triangle with Buffy pining after Angel, Xander pining after Buffy and Willow pining after Xander:

                  XANDER: The things we do for love.
                  BUFFY: Love has nothing to do with this.
                  XANDER: Maybe not, but I'll tell you this: people don't fall in love with what's right in front of them.
                  Willow gives Buffy a sad, knowing look.
                  XANDER: People want the dream. What they can't have.
                  Willow looks over at Xander longingly.
                  XANDER: The more unattainable, the more attractive. (Some Assembly Required)
                  And I've always found this scene to be quite funny as Xander literally can't see Cordelia either:

                  XANDER: Well, I guess that makes it official. Everybody's paired off. Vampires get dates. Hell, even the school librarian sees more action than me. You ever think that the world is a giant game of musical chairs, and the music's stopped and we're the only ones who don't have a chair?
                  WILLOW: All the time.
                  CORDELIA: Xander? I just wanted to thank you for saving my life. What you did in there was really brave and heroic, and I just wanted to tell you if there was anything that I could ever do to...
                  XANDER: Do you mind? We're talking here.
                  Cordelia is taken aback, rolls her eyes and leaves.
                  XANDER: So where were we?
                  WILLOW: Wondering why we never get dates.
                  XANDER: Yeah, so why do you think that is? (Some Assembly Required)
                  Xander's awfully childish here, though - but Buffy acts far more childish as well - her relationship with Angel feels very pre-first-death-through-the-Master Buffy. When Cordelia asks Angel to take her home, the jealousy is palpable.

                  But the episode's MoTW is somewhat lame - the gang finds out their evil deeds through a school locker search. Yes, that's right. One keeps books and articles in his locker that pinpoint him as "the one" and the other actually has a picture that's a collage of a woman made from different body parts. It's incredibly lazy writing.

                  I agree with Stoney that the characters are potentially compelling, but I wish there had been more time to expand on their motivations. Instead, there are a few kidnap events and finally, the monster burns with his 'bride' as his brother is arrested. Angel also disappears for the vast majority of the episode - at first, I wondered whether the actor had another engagement or they wanted to keep him mysterious to heighten the drama before Angelus appeared. But then his distance made sense in his final scene with Buffy - I think that this scene is a great example of how uneasy Angel always was with their relationship:

                  BUFFY: Love makes you do the wacky.
                  ANGEL: What?
                  BUFFY: Crazy stuff.
                  ANGEL: Oh. Crazy, like a two-hundred-and-forty-one-year-old being jealous of a high school junior?
                  BUFFY: Are you fessing up?
                  ANGEL: I've thought about it. Maybe it bothers me a little.
                  BUFFY: I don't love Xander.
                  ANGEL: Yeah, but he's in your life. He gets to be there when I can't. Take your classes, eat your meals, hear your jokes and complaints. He gets to see you in the sunlight.
                  BUFFY: I don't look that good in direct light.
                  ANGEL: It'll be morning soon.
                  BUFFY: I should probably go. I could walk you home.
                  They look at each other for a long moment before Buffy takes his hand in hers and they walk together. (Some Assembly Required)
                  I love the reversal of conventions here - even though Angel is a two-hundred and forty-one year old vampire, Buffy the sixteen year old Slayer offers to chaperone him home.

                  But I voted for Teacher's Pet - an episode that has its flaws, but has some interesting strengths, too. It's one of the few moments that we see an actual school situation with a teacher who is more savvy than most - Dr. Gregory sees right through Willow's attempt to 'feed' Buffy the answers. He recognizes Buffy as an exceptional student going through a rough patch. It's enough to make Buffy almost develop an innocent crush on him - not a romantic crush like Angel, but a father-figure mentor crush.

                  But most importantly, the focus in Teacher's Pet isn't just on a MOTW like Some Assembly Required. The person with the issues isn't Frankenstein - it's Xander. We also see Xander try to project a kind of 'studliness' after being mocked by Blayne and his friend:

                  XANDER: Babes!
                  Xander walks up between Willow and Buffy places one arm around each of their shoulders.
                  BUFFY: What are you doing?
                  XANDER: Work with me here. Blayne had the nerve to question my manliness. I'm just gonna give him a visual.
                  WILLOW: We'll show him!
                  As Willow throws her arms around Xander, he gives Blayne a thumbs up.
                  BUFFY: I don't believe it.
                  XANDER: I know, and after all my conquests.
                  Buffy ignores Xander as she walks away,
                  XAMDER: Who's that?
                  WILLOW: That must be Angel! I think?
                  XANDER: That weird guy that warned her about all the vampires?
                  WILLOW: That's him, I'll bet you.
                  XANDER: Well, he's buff! She never said anything about him being buff!
                  WILLOW: You think he's buff?
                  XANDER: He's a very attractive man! How come *that* never came up? (Teacher's Pet)
                  We're still in the world of Some Assembly Required - the love triangles that never resolve. But this is a much earlier episode - and surprisingly, this is the first actual meeting between Angel and Buffy's friends. Interestingly, they never approach him and he never approaches them. In the Bronze, there's a definite line between Buffy's 'school' chums and her 'work' chum here - although she's obviously already hoping for a little bit more than that.

                  BUFFY: Well! Look who's here!
                  ANGEL: Hi.
                  BUFFY: I'd say it's nice to see you, but then we both know that's a big fib.
                  ANGEL: I won't be long.
                  BUFFY: No, you'll just give me a cryptic warning about some exciting new catastrophe, and then disappear into the night. Right?
                  ANGEL: You're cold.
                  BUFFY: You can take it.
                  ANGEL: I mean, you look cold.
                  As Angel throws his jacket around Buffy's shoulders, Xander fumes.
                  XANDER: Oh, right! Give her your jacket. It's a balmy night, no one needs to be trading clothing out there!
                  BUFFY: A little big on me.
                  Buffy adjusts the jacket and then notices large slashes on Angel's exposed arm.
                  BUFFY: What happened?
                  ANGEL: I didn't pay attention.
                  BUFFY: To somebody with a big fork?
                  ANGEL: He's coming.
                  BUFFY: The Fork Guy?
                  ANGEL: Don't let him corner you. Don't give him a moment's mercy. He'll rip your throat out.
                  BUFFY: Okay, I'll give you improved marks for that one. Ripping a throat out, it's a strong visual, it's not cryptic!
                  ANGEL: I have to go.
                  BUFFY: Sweet dreams to you, too. (Teacher's Pet)
                  And Angel mysteriously fades away as he always does, longing to be inside with Buffy but feeling always like an outsider who belongs nowhere.

                  It's interesting that the writers didn't feel the need to introduce Angel to Xander and Willow here - especially when they had every opportunity. And even more interestingly, Angel only shows up at the end of the episode - much like Some Assembly Required - to flirt with Buffy a bit more. It almost makes me wonder if these episodes were both written for a speculative Season One in which Angel never played much of a part and then he was shoehorned into the script later.

                  But it doesn't matter much in Teacher's Pet - because it's really Xander's episode. His dreams of Buffy, his embarrassment at being a too obvious virgin, his torment at the hands of bullies, his gratification when the sexy teacher seems to take an interest in him - to me, it's all very true to life and somewhat sad. Thinking of what we eventually find out about Xander's home life, it makes me feel for him that he has no real father figures or even male friends to guide him through one of the most difficult times of life. Yes, there was Jesse, but he was struggling just like Xander was. One can see the two commiserating together - but after Jesse's death, Xander has no one. There is Giles, but just as with Willow, Giles ignores much of Xander's needs to prioritize Buffy's development - that is his job.

                  So we've got Xander adrift here - Jesse only died a few episodes ago, Buffy's swooning over the hunky cryptic guy and Xander even freezes when the sexy new teacher asks him a simple question - allowing Blayne to escort her to class:

                  Natalie walks in slow motion, sexy and swinging her hips, as she addresses Xander.
                  NATALIE: Could you help me?
                  XANDER: Uh...yes
                  NATALIE: I'm looking for Science... 109.
                  XANDER: Oh! It's, um...I go there every day!
                  Natalie laughs as Xander turns to Buffy and Willow.
                  XANDER: Oh, God, where is it?
                  BLAYNE: Hi! Blayne Mall. I'm going there right now. It's not far from the varsity field where I took All-City last year.
                  NATALIE: Oh! Thank you, Blayne!
                  As she and Blayne walk away, Xander turns back to Willow and Buffy.
                  XANDER: It's funny how the Earth never opens up and swallows you when you want it to. (Teacher's Pet)
                  His tormentor Blayne is not only traditionally more masculine than Xander, but he rubs it in with a high school pecking order jab - he took All-City last year. Blayne shows up again in the cafeteria to rub it in that he's studying with the new sexy teacher. But Xander feels vindicated when Miss Well Proportioned Teacher asks him to come over her house and help with a project.

                  NATALIE: Oh, Xander! I've done something really stupid. I hope you can forgive me.
                  XANDER: Oh, forgiveness is my middle name! Well, actually it's LaVelle, and I'd appreciate it if you guard that secret with your life.
                  NATALIE: I have a teacher's conference in half an hour, and I left the paint and papier-mâché at home. I don't suppose you'd like to come to my place tonight to work on it there?
                  XANDER: Come to, uh... your place?
                  NATALIE : 7:30? Here's my address.
                  She writes down her address and hands it to Xander.
                  NATALIE: I'll see you tonight?
                  XANDER: (in a high, squeaky voice) Yeah! (Teacher's Pet)
                  But of course, in the Buffyverse, love never runs smooth.

                  BUFFY: Xander, she's not what she seems.
                  XANDER: I know, she's so much more.
                  BUFFY: Okay, um... I'm gonna have to tell you something about her, and I'm gonna need you to really listen, okay?
                  XANDER: Okay.
                  BUFFY: I don't think she's human.
                  XANDER: I see. So if she's not human she's...?
                  BUFFY: Technically? A big bug. This sounds really weird, I'm aware of that...
                  XANDER: It doesn't sound weird at all, I completely understand. I've met someone, and you're jealous.
                  BUFFY: What?
                  XANDER: Look, there's nothing I can do about it. Uh, there's just this certain chemical thing between Miss French and me.
                  BUFFY: I know, I read all about it, it's call, um, a pheromone. It's a chemical attractant that insects give off.
                  XANDER: She's not an insect! She's a woman, okay? And hard as that maybe for you to conceive, an actual woman finds me attractive. I realize it's no mystery guy handing out leather jackets, and while we're on the subject, what kind of a girlie name is 'Angel' anyway?
                  BUFFY: What does that have to do with...
                  XANDER: Nothing! It just kinda bugs me. Look, I really gotta...
                  Xander quickly walks away from Buffy. (Teacher's Pet)
                  It's an interesting echo of Angel's sudden departure earlier in the scene - both men leaving Buffy alone. Later in the episode, Xander admits to his teacher that he's a virgin even as she drugs his food and drink and we see him dreaming about Buffy as she takes advantage of his desperation to lock him downstairs - with Blayne. We see that in the face of danger, all of Blayne's bravado is gone. His hyper-masculinity was just bluster and underneath, he's little more than a scared teen.

                  BLAYNE: Oh, God! (breathes) You gotta get me outta here! You gotta! She, she, she gets you, and, uh...
                  XANDER: What?
                  BLAYNE: ...she, she...
                  XANDER: What does she do?
                  BLAYNE: Oh, God! Oh, oh, no!
                  XANDER: Blayne! What does she do?
                  BLAYNE: She, she... she, she takes you outta the cage, and she ties you up, and, and... she... she starts movin', and throbbin', and these eggs come shootin' out of her! And then...
                  XANDER: What?
                  BLAYNE: And then...
                  XANDER: Then what?
                  BLAYNE: She mates with you!
                  XANDER: Sheeee...
                  BLAYNE: That's not the worst part!
                  XANDER: That's not?
                  BLAYNE: You seen her teeth? Right while she's, you know, right in the middle of... I saw her do it! I don't wanna die like that!
                  XANDER: Blayne! Blayne! Chill! It's okay. It's gonna be okay. We'll get outta this.
                  BLAYNE: (hopeful) You gotta plan? What is it?
                  XANDER: Just, uh, let me perfect it!
                  BLAYNE: (gives up hope) Oh, God... Oh, God... Oh, God... (Teacher's Pet)
                  Xander's bravery in comparison - his creation of a weapon, his willingness to face his kidnapper - show who is the real dominant 'male' here. In so many ways, Buffy is a deconstruction of toxic gender roles and Xander exemplifies the teen caught between boy and man, trying to project a societal version of a real he-man at times - but his own natural empathetic nature and intelligence get in the way. He's too tender and too knowing to readily fall for cheesy masculine ideals - so he lampshades them and parodies them even as he still feels the need to identify with them.

                  WILLOW: I'm really glad you're okay. It's so unfair how she only went after virgins.
                  XANDER: What?
                  WILLOW: I mean, here you guys are, doing the right thing, the smart thing, when a lot of other boys your age...
                  BLAYNE: Flag down on that play, babe. I am *not*...
                  GILES: Well, you see, that's the She-Mantis' modus operandi. Uh, she only preys on the pure.
                  XANDER Well, isn't this a perfect ending to a wonderful day!
                  BLAYNE: My dad's a lawyer. Anyone repeats this to anybody, they're gonna find themselves facing a lawsuit.
                  XANDER: Blayne. Shut up. (Teacher's Pet)
                  Teacher's Pet has the same issues as Some Assembly Required - the plotting is awful in terms of the MOTW - Claw Guy is uninteresting and I agree with vampmogs that the world-building in TP is really uneven. But because of the interesting character spotlight on Xander, Teacher's Pet is an infinitely better episode. But they both have their moments.



                  Last edited by American Aurora; 31-07-21, 10:52 PM.

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                  • #12
                    Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
                    I love the reversal of conventions here - even though Angel is a two-hundred and forty-one year old vampire, Buffy the sixteen year old Slayer offers to chaperone him home.
                    Yes I always really loved that too. I liked that there's not a big deal made about it either and that Angel silently accepts as they hold hands and walk away romantically together into the night. It's really interesting because SMG's delivery of that line makes her sound really vulnerable and sweet but at the same time she's acting as the protector and taking on the traditionally 'masculine' role. Definitely a highlight of the episode and further proof that even in the weaker episodes of BtVS there's usually a few hidden gems.

                    I'd disagree with Whedon that this was 1 of 2 of the weakest episodes though. I'd say it's the weakest S2 episode but I'd rank it above a handful of others from other seasons for various reasons.

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                    • #13
                      “Some Assembly Required” wins hands down. That scene in the library where Buffy-Xander and Angel-Cordy passive-aggressively (well, full-on aggressively, in Xander and Cordy’s case) go back and forth is better than anything in “Teacher’s Pet” IMO.

                      I actually like “Teacher’s Pet” more than most (which is not saying much at all because it’s a very hated episode) but it’s probably the roughest, most-S1-esque of all of the S1 episodes, if that makes sense. They telegraph that Natalie French is evil way too early in the episode, robbing it of all suspense within the first act so waiting for the Scoobies to finally catch up for most of the episode is just super boring. I think "Witch" did a much better job at captivating the audience with its MoTW while exploring the character beats that related to it.

                      To mention some things I really like about this episode -- Xander’s dream sequence, the Buffy-Dr. Gregory scenes, and Giles saying he misses England. I like the role reversal of the virgin male being the object of sacrifice here whereas in most horror stories, it's always the virgin female. I also agree there's an interesting exploration of toxic masculinity here, which @AmericanAurora broke down brilliantly upthread. But on a surface level, there's just not that much to enjoy and I find BtVS much better when it hits on all levels - on a deep, thematic level and on a surface-y, entertainment-value level. This one falls flat when it comes to the latter.

                      SAR isn’t exactly a “great” episode either so to speak, but it’s a lot more enjoyable. The writers/actors have found their groove by this point, the dialogue and character interactions are golden, and I loved seeing Giles and Jenny go on their first date (along with the Scoobies coaching him into asking her!). Cordelia and Angel are integrated into the story better and both of them have some great moments.

                      Cordelia's 'bonding' with the gang more is also enjoyable. It's interesting to see how much nicer in general she is to her peers. When Chris sneaks up on her in the cheerleading locker room, Cordelia speaks to him with a lot more warmth and politeness ('Is something wrong?') than she ever spoke to anyone else with in S1. Granted, it may be in-part because Chris is the broken-bird little brother of her dead crush but I don't know, I think Cordelia has genuinely learned to be a little nicer to people at this point. I feel like S1 Cordelia would have just been angry at him for sneaking up on her and yelled at him to get out, Dawn style.

                      In general, CC is great in this episode. She did a really good job of balancing the typical comedic aspects of Cordelia's personality with the horror of the terrifying and incredibly *disgusting* situation she is put in during this episode. I am both amused by and genuinely terrified for Cordelia during the climax when they are simultaneously terrorizing and fetishizing her.

                      Also - I was (and still am) a huge Xander/Cordy fan but somehow, it took me a ridiculous amount of viewings of this episode to realize that Cordelia was explicitly coming on to him at the end there.

                      CORDELIA: “What you did in there was really brave and heroic, and I just wanted to tell you if there’s anything I could ever do to—”
                      XANDER: “Do you mind?? We’re talking.”


                      Xander, you dunce! LOL, but I adore seeing him finally get the upper hand for once. I definitely think he and Cordelia were crushing on each other for a lot longer than they both had let on.

                      I also like seeing more of Angel and we get more insight into his emotionally-stunted nature. Seeing him interact with the gang more, there's the reveal that the Xander-Angel beef isn't entirely one-sided. Seeing Angel use Cordelia's attention to make Buffy jealous is also a nice touch and it adds a little more depth to his character that was desperately needed at this point. Angel is a petty dude.

                      Originally posted by American Aurora View Post
                      I love the reversal of conventions here - even though Angel is a two-hundred and forty-one year old vampire, Buffy the sixteen year old Slayer offers to chaperone him home.
                      Great insight. I never thought about this.

                      Originally posted by AmericanAurora
                      But it doesn't matter much in Teacher's Pet - because it's really Xander's episode. His dreams of Buffy, his embarrassment at being a too obvious virgin, his torment at the hands of bullies, his gratification when the sexy teacher seems to take an interest in him - to me, it's all very true to life and somewhat sad. Thinking of what we eventually find out about Xander's home life, it makes me feel for him that he has no real father figures or even male friends to guide him through one of the most difficult times of life. Yes, there was Jesse, but he was struggling just like Xander was. One can see the two commiserating together - but after Jesse's death, Xander has no one. There is Giles, but just as with Willow, Giles ignores much of Xander's needs to prioritize Buffy's development - that is his job.
                      I definitely agree about the sadness of Xander's lack of adult role models and especially with how often and easily Giles disregards him (and Willow) to cater to Buffy. Although, I do think this same point -- being without and constantly looking for a stable adult figure -- kind of applies Buffy as well.

                      Buffy and Giles have a sweet relationship most of the time and there's no doubt he cares for her well-being, but I think he does often fail her just as much (if not, worse) than he does Willow and Xander. I'd argue that the gratification Xander gains from the attention he receives from the sexy old teacher may not be entirely different from the kind of gratification Buffy gains from the attention she receives from the sexy old vampire.

                      Originally posted by AmericanAurora
                      Xander's bravery in comparison - his creation of a weapon, his willingness to face his kidnapper - show who is the real dominant 'male' here. In so many ways, Buffy is a deconstruction of toxic gender roles and Xander exemplifies the teen caught between boy and man, trying to project a societal version of a real he-man at times - but his own natural empathetic nature and intelligence get in the way. He's too tender and too knowing to readily fall for cheesy masculine ideals - so he lampshades them and parodies them even as he still feels the need to identify with them.
                      I love this. The part I bolded is particularly beautiful. I agree and it's not lost on me how many times, particularly in S1-S2, the writers emphasize that duality in Xander's character. The way they use him is very different than the way most characters like Xander are used in teen show narratives.

                      Xander's character has clearly been set up as the comic relief/sidekick/male best friend who Buffy 'friend-zones' and what-not. But in these early episodes, he is more of an active, conventional Male Lead than Angel is in a lot of the time. As we see here and most of the early episodes, Xander is Buffy's second-in-command. He is the one who saves Cordelia, whereas as you previously noted, Angel doesn't show up again until after the fight. Same thing in "Prophecy Girl" when he was the only member of the gang to take direct physical action by storming out of the library and convincing Angel to finally get off his ass and help Buffy fight The Master. Even in "School Hard," we see him knock out a vampire of his own.
                      Last edited by Andrew S.; 02-10-21, 11:49 PM.

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                      • #14
                        I do like Teacher Pet, but I enjoy Some Assembly Required more.

                        I always thought Buffy was badass in this scene.

                        Cordelia has a game to think about. She doesn't need losers like
                        you. (tries to go)
                        Buffy: (blocks her way) I'm sorry, what did you say?
                        That's my Buffster.

                        So for that reason alone, Some Assembly Required wins for me.

                        I also love Giles and Jenny.

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