Xander is a lucky boy. In this, the introductory season of this truly amazing show, he gets two episodes dedicated to showing what makes him tick. Three, if you count Nightmares, which sets groundwork for letting us know what makes all our characters tick.
As should be obvious by now, Xander is a teenage boy, which carries with it a lot of, erm, urges and embarrassments. A lot of embarrassments. For example, this shirt:
Teacher’s Pet deals a lot with Xander’s insecurities, of which there are a metric fuckton. This episode, however, deals with his insecurities regarding his masculinity or in his mind, the lack thereof.
A lot of it can be seen in his little reverie at the beginning of the episode.
Xander wants to be cool.
Xander wants to be smooth.
Xander wants Buffy.
And most telling of all, Xander wants to save Buffy.
Bad news, Xand: Buffy can take care of herself. And what’s more, she’s more equipped to do so than you.
Exit Cool Xander; Enter Drool Xander.
It all adds up to a pretty frustrated Xander, especially when he’s challenged by not one, but two guys in the course of the episode. Blayne (a guy we never see again, by the way) and Angel are both men who seemingly have way more bro cred than Xander.
Teacher’s Pet doubles as a “beware sexual predators disguised as teachers” episode, and it serves that purpose well. If not for the psychosexual double standards regarding what makes men men and women women, sexual predators like Madame Bug would have a harder time of catching prey. Xander’s vulnerable because his expectations make him vulnerable. Well, not just his expectations, but also the failure of his expectations to match up to reality, and his desperate need to make them do so.
Xander “falls” for Miss French because he needs to prove something. To himself and to Buffy. It’s good that it doesn’t work out—not that he almost gets his head eaten, I mean, just that his expectations ultimately never match up—because Xander? You don’t need to prove a damn thing.
Stop trying to make it be.
- Even in his fantasy, Xander has no idea where the heart is. That’s really funny, if you think about it (and have seen the rest of the series).
- Dr. Gregory—the same biology/chemistry teacher from The Witch—is a great teacher. The first (and last?) that doesn’t underestimate Buffy or her intelligence.
- Hey, Angel’s back! He’s only good for vamp news… I wonder why that is?
- Er… How would the mechanics of mantis/teenage boy sex actually work?
- Forget about that cliffhanger ending. Nothing ever happens with those eggs. Not one. Damn. Thing.
- That Dr. Horrible gif? Comes from here. Yes, I spent hours there. We’re not talking about it.