Buffy touches Xander's face while under a spell

About:

Title: Buffy S1.E03 “Witch” + S1.E04 “Teacher’s Pet”
Released: 1997

Drinks Taken: 24
Vamps Dusted: 2

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Hello, my fellow Buffy fans! I am so excited to be a part of this rewatch! Meredith did an excellent job introducing us to the major players last week, highlighting exactly why we love the complicated character that is Buffy Summers. I was extra pumped about doing this week’s rewatch because I learned to do something while writing it that I’ve never done before: make my own GIFs. So for the ten or so seconds you watch each one, please pour one out for the many, many minutes of my time that went into those tiny bits of cinematic gold. I kid! Sort of. It actually kinda gives me a secret internet thrill to know that I now have this power to create a GIF out of whatever I want. This must be how Buffy felt when she learned about her super-strength…  

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
Giles cleans his glasses
Cordelia says something cutting but true
Xander pines for Buffy
Willow’s brains save the day
Sparks fly between Buffy and Angel

Drink twice every time:

We see the entrance to Sunnydale High
We see a scene from the credits
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A scene takes place in a cemetery
A vampire is invited into a house

With these rules firmly affixed in your mind (unlike mine, as I had to reference back to them approximately forty-eight times), let’s move on to the rewatch!

Buffy, Amy, and Willow standing in the gym

1.3 “Witch”

The episode begins with Giles, beside himself with what Buffy is about to do. It’s demeaning! It’s degrading! Buffy asks why Giles is so down on cheerleading–she just wants some normality in her life!

Little did he know that in just a few short years another Slayer would also join the squad of Bring It On.

At the tryouts, Buffy meets Amy, a quiet and single-minded girl hellbent on getting onto the cheer team to the point of doing three hour practice sessions morning and night with her mom. Buffy jokes that spending that much time with her mom would lead to matricide, and thus the theme of this week’s episode is revealed: the intricate complications of the mother/daughter relationship.

Everyone watches the first dance by a girl named Amber Groves, whose tryout is super extra. She dances so enthusiastically her hands catch on fire!

A cheerleader dances while her pom poms catch on fire
Willow: “That girl is on fire!” 
Cordelia: “Enough with the hyperbole.”

Talk about your spirit fingers. Sparky Polastri would be proud.

Buffy is the only one who remembered her first-grade safety rhymes, so she grabs a banner from the bleachers, literally tackles Amber to the ground, and saves her life. Afterwards, the gang meets up in what has now become their lair (the library) to discuss the possibility of spontaneous combustion. Buffy half-heartedly attempts to do all the legwork herself, but Giles, Xander, and Willow let her know they are ON this like white on rice. Willow dubs them the Slayerettes, which, eh, I’d keep working on it, Wills. They are NOT a doo-wop girl group from the 1940s.

Joyce and Buffy have a tense moment discussing Buffy’s interest in cheerleading in their kitchen, which is full of crates containing items like fertility statues for Joyce’s Very Important Gallery Opening. Wait, what? Why is she opening and cataloging this stuff in her kitchen? Doesn’t she have–what’s that term, you know, the place where all the art goes…oh, right, a GALLERY to do that in? So poor Joyce is failing on the business and mom fronts as she lets Buffy know she has about thismuch faith in Buffy’s rehabilitation:

Joyce: “[Cheerleading?] Oh good! I’m glad you’re taking that up again; it’ll keep you out of trouble.” 
Buffy: “I’m not IN trouble.”
Joyce: “No, not yet.”

After another failed tryout attempt on Amy’s part, she and Buffy discuss Amy’s former cheerleader captain mom (who used to attend Sunnydale High) as they stare at her many, many cheer trophies. Amy’s mom was nicknamed Catherine the Great, and if you couldn’t already guess that she is the worst, you know fer sure now. When Amy finds out she made third alternate to the team (even Buffy made first alternate), she runs off in distress, frustrated that all her hard work isn’t paying off.

Cue to a panning shot up into the creepy attic of a normal looking house, with an excellent close-up of a cauldron of bubbling green goo. It’s the most stereotypical witch imagery that could be, and I thank the show for leaning into the camp. 

A cauldron of green goo

It’s bringing to mind a vat of melted Gumbys.

A pair of hands offer up a voodoo Barbie version of Cordelia and intone a spell over it. Cordy was last seen threatening Amy about what would happen if she didn’t get on the team due to Amy’s clumsiness, so we don’t need to scratch our heads over who is casting this spell. The next day, Cordelia walks around school half-blinded in a fugue state, ambles over to driver’s ed, and proceeds to fail the class spectacularly by almost killing everyone in the car. 

By now Giles is totally thinking “witch”. The Scooby gang, with absolutely zero chill, steal bits of Amy’s hair and spill a test tube of Polyjuice Potion witch detector juice on Amy’s arm, completely alerting her to the fact that they’re on to her. Yeesh. (But, hey, it’s only the third episode; they’ll get better at this.) Before they can celebrate that Giles’ hypothesis was correct, another girl from the cheer squad in the classroom begins freaking out, because her mouth is gone. Uh, how is everyone around her so calm?? 

Girl with her mouth literally missing

I will be seeing that in my recurring nightmares later tonight; thanks, show!

Amy’s solution is to cast a spell on Buffy to make her…drunk? Buffy’s super giggly and bubbly, casually blabbing her secret of being a slayer to her mom (who’s totally oblivious) and having the time of her life at cheer practice…except her enthusiasm causes her to Slayer-throw a teammate into the wall, and she’s kicked off the team. And who is there, standing creepily off to the side ready to take her place? 

Amy the witch standing in her cheerleading uniform

Of course. It’s Amy.

Xander and Willow immediately know something is up, especially when Buffy almost blurts out that Amy is a witch in front of everyone, and even more so when she suddenly passes out. Giles determines the spell on her is draining her life force and will kill her within hours.

Giles and Buffy head to Amy’s house, where her mom is chilling on the couch eating brownies and acting super cagey about how she can’t answer any questions without her daughter present. Buffy puts two and two together and gets body-snatching. Turns out, Catherine the Great did a little switcheroo a la Freaky Friday and has been trying to relive her glory days in her teenage daughter’s place: “She said I was wasting my youth. So she took it.” The three of them grab Catherine’s book of shadows and high-tail it back to the school so Giles can reverse all the spells before Buffy dies.

Meanwhile, Catherine is having the time of her life performing in front of a crowd once again, but she soon realizes what’s going down in the science lab and races to stop it. Giles, ever the Boss, restores Buffy’s health before getting backhanded into next Tuesday. Buffy uses a mirror and another nursery school rhyme (“I’m rubber and you’re glue”) to turn Catherine’s “I cast thee into hell!” spell back on herself, and she disappears. The real Amy is back where she belongs and is way sassier than her mom:

Cordelia: “Hey, we’re really sorry you guys got bumped back to alternate. Hold it, wait. No, we’re not.” 
Real!Amy: “Well, I know that I’ll miss the intellectual thrill of spelling out words with my arms.”
Cordelia: “Ooh, these grapes are sour.”

How many times do I have to take a drink?

12 (I had to stop counting each time Xander desperately pined over Buffy separately otherwise I’d be dead right now.)

Vamps Dusted

0. Nary a vampire in this episode!

Giles For Life

Was anyone else having a bit of a moment in their ladyparts when Giles had to lift Buffy into his arms and carry her out of Amy’s house like it was nothing?

I also enjoyed everyone else’s reaction to his obvious delight about living on a Hellmouth:

Giles says something weird and everyone looks at him funny.
Giles: “But that’s the thrill of living on a Hellmouth. There’s a veritable cornucopia of fiends, and devils, and ghouls to engage. *Everyone looks at him oddly* Well, pardon me for finding the glass half full.”

Never change, Giles.

Bloody Good Snark

Another central theme for the episode was how hopeless Xander’s crush on Buffy is, which led to two great moments:

Xander: “This is the Invisible Man Syndrome, a blessing in Cordelia’s case, a curse in Buffy’s.”
Willow: “You’re not invisible to Buffy.”
Xander: “It’s worse. I’m just a part of the scenery, like an old shoe or a rug that you walk on every day but don’t even really see.”
Willow: “Like a pen that’s all chewed up, and you know you should throw it away, but you don’t, not ’cause you like it so much more, but ’cause you’re just used to…”
Xander: “Well, yeah, that is the point. You don’t have to drive it through my head like a railroad spike.”

And later, when Buffy is spell-drunk, she confirms Xander’s worst fears:

Buffy: “I just got kicked off the team, didn’t I?”
Xander: “I don’t think it was your fault.”
Buffy: “I know you don’t. That’s ‘cause you’re my friend. You’re my…Xander-shaped friend! Do you have any idea why I love you so, Xander? I’ll tell you. You’re not like other boys at all. You are totally, and completely, one of the girls! [To Willow] I’m THAT comfy with him!”

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

I actually kind of love the yellow and maroon cheerleader outfits the team wears.

GIF of a line of cheerleaders dancing and Buffy trips one, ruining the move.

Best Grrrl Power Moment

Buffy pops up behind Amy's mom and throws her across the classroom.
Amy’s mom to Amy: “I’m going to put you where you can’t make trouble again.”
Buffy *jumping up behind her* “Guess what? I feel better.” *tosses Amy’s mom*

Be nice to your daughters, moms.

Xander’s Best Worst Joke

Xander, telling Buffy they have her back: “Oh, ha! I laugh in the face of danger. Then I hide until it goes away.”

Xander's teacher touches his shoulder in the classroom.

1.04 “Teacher’s Pet”

So there is a lot of Xander being a very stereotypical hormonal boy in these middle-of-the-season episodes. Each time I rewatch I find his unrequited crush on Buffy to be more and more insufferable. Thankfully, Willow’s wide-eyed adorableness and Buffy’s plucky wit generally smooth out his more annoying corners, and later we get Anya to take him down a peg or two.

But here, at the start of “Teacher’s Pet”, we are firmly in Xander-ville, AKA his wish-fulfillment dreamscape where Buffy and the rest of the Bronze are in awe of his slick guitar solos and his vampire-dusting abilities. Oof. He awakens in science class, where Buffy is caught out by their tough-but-fair teacher who is well aware she hasn’t done the homework. He encourages her to be better than every other adult thinks she can be, and, aww, Buffy may have finally found someone who believes in her!–Oh, but wait, then he gets eaten by a giant bug thing. Yeah, I’m pretty sure there is a rule that there can be no cool teachers in teen shows (except Mr. Feeny).

Angel finds Buffy at the real Bronze later that night and the two have a very sexually charged conversation. David Boreanez is giving her his most intense smolder, and even though I will fully admit he isn’t the best actor, the man can freaking smolder.

Angel gives Buffy his jacket.
Angel: “You’re cold.”
Buffy: “You can take it.”
Angel: “I mean you look cold.” *gives her his jacket*

A pure swoon move, because you know clubs are always warm.

He warns her about a vampire with a claw roaming around town and then disappears before Buffy completely melts into a puddle. This is the moment when Xander’s undying hatred for Angel is born. Despite this being a horrible look on Xander through the seasons, it does lead to some excellent quips about Angel that never fail to make me giggle. 

Xander and Willow talk about how hot Angel is.
Willow: “That must be Angel, I think.”
Xander: “The weird guy who warned her about all the vampires? 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!?”

Some things just don’t need to be mentioned, Xander.

The next morning outside school Xander swears he’s in another of his wet dreams when the hottest substitute teacher he’s even seen walks up to him and asks about science class. Every boy in said class needs a drool bucket, despite the fact that their new sub, Ms. French, is blathering on about the reproductive cycle of the praying mantis, which, I can assure you, is not sexy. But when Ms. French asks for help with an after-school project, she has no shortage of male volunteers.

Xander and a classmate named Blayne argue in the lunch line about who is going to get to spend more alone time with Ms. French while Buffy and Willow roll their eyes at all the testosterone floating around, but even hot teacher conversation stops when you find your real science teacher’s headless body in the fridge. Poor Cordelia.

Cordelia screams while looking at a dead body.

That would make anyone lose their appetite.

Buffy is legit distraught about her new favorite teacher’s death. She wonders if the vampire Angel warned her about could possibly be the culprit, so she decides to take a midnight stroll through the park looking for Vampire Krueger. She, strangely enough, finds him…hiding in the bushes (seriously, guys, what was that about?) and they fight. Buffy gives chase through the park and is about to step in when she sees Claw heading to attack a woman walking down the street. But one look from the woman, who turns out to be a very unamused Ms. French, and he’s running scared, leaving Buffy shocked and confused.

Out to prove that Ms. French is not who she says she is, Buffy does something no one is expecting: her homework! Her research has led her to discover that their teacher is actually a giant praying mantis using unsuspecting human males to fertilize her giant egg sacs. (It’s adorable how she runs off into the stacks to dig up books about entomology and spends the rest of the episode spouting off facts like she’s a mini-Giles.) Buffy tries to warn Xander away from Ms. French, but he completely ignores her and gloats, assuming Buffy is just being jealous that a hot older woman wants him. Honey, no. 

When Xander arrives at Ms. French’s house it’s like a Dateline special come to life: she’s got the twins on full display, a martini in hand for a sixteen-year-old, and a roaring fire going in the living room. In true virgin fashion, Xander has never rambled harder in his life. Unfortunately for him, his martini was spiked with more than the giggle juice, and he passes out just as he realizes Ms. French is a giant bug. Ruh roh.

The rest of the gang lean heavily into their research to figure out where Ms. French lives and then how to kill a giant She-Mantis, but that lady bug is smarter than they gave her credit for and had given the school a fake address. Buffy gets the bright idea to find Vampire Kreuger in the sewer tunnels and use him like a bomb-sniffing police dog to find Ms. French’s house, which works spectacularly well. They break into her basement just in time to save Xander from getting his head chewed off, and Buffy gets to play exterminator. Willow drops the bomb about how Ms. French only targeted virgins and commends Xander and a traumatized Blayne (who’s been stuck in Ms. French’s basement for the last 24 hours) for saving themselves, much to their dismay and our amusement.

Back at the Bronze, Buffy is still wearing Angel’s jacket when he pops by to congratulate her on a staking well done. She offers to return his jacket, but he pulls the ole, “It looks better on you” and strides away, leaving Buffy with the realization that she’s got a big problem in the shape of a six-foot-one beefcake.

Buffy stares off in the distance while at the Bronze.
Buffy: “Oh boy.”

You know it, Buff.

How many times do I have to take a drink?

12

Vamps Dusted

2

Best Principal Flutie Moment

Principal Flutie and Buffy stand in the hallway.

Principal Flutie: “You there! You saw Dr. Gregory, didn’t you?”
Buffy: “Um…you mean, yesterday in the cafeteria when we found him–”
Flutie: “Don’t say dead! Or decapitated. Or decomposing. I’d stay away from “D” words altogether. But you witnessed the event, so this way please.”
Buffy: “Well, no, I’m gonna be late for biology–”
Flutie: “Extremely late. You have to see a counselor. Everyone who saw the body has to see a crisis counselor.”
Buffy: “But I really don’t–”
Flutie: “We ALL need help with our feelings. Otherwise we bottle them up and before you know it, powerful laxatives are involved! I really believe that if we all reach out to one another, we can beat this thing. I’m always here if you need a hug, but NOT a REAL hug because there’s no touching. This school is sensitive to wrong touching.”

Most “Cordelia” Cordelia Moment

Buffy overhears Cordelia describing to the psychologist how she’s lost a few ounces because she hasn’t been able to eat after seeing Dr. Gregory’s dead body:

Cordelia talks to the school counselor while Buffy listens, incredulous.
Cordelia: “Oh, I’m not saying that we should kill a teacher every day just so I can lose weight. I’m just saying when tragedy strikes, we have to look on the bright side, you know?”
Buffy: *looks super concerned*

Never change, Cordelia.

Most Y2k Moment

Buffy sends Giles to the “video library” for bat sounds, which he has to save onto a tape recorder. Nowadays he would’ve just queued up a bat YouTube video on his smartphone.

Headlining at The Bronze

Superfine plays at The Bronze on stage.

Superfine guest stars singing their song “I Already Met You” off the show’s soundtrack (I instantly recognized it because you KNOW I had that CD, and played it constantly).

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

Buffy wearing a headband.

Buffy’s stretchy headband with the teeth brings back my own youthful memories. 

Scooby Gang Feels

Buffy having Willow’s back when Giles questions the legality of her hacking:

Giles: “Um, this computer invasion that Willow’s performing on the coroner’s office. One…one assumes it is entirely legal?”

Buffy and Willow pretend to look innocent.
Willow: “Entirely.”
Buffy: “Of course.”

Giles: “Right. Wasn’t here… didn’t see it… couldn’t have stopped you.”


So what do y’all think–am I being too hard on Xander? (Sometimes I wonder if what I know now about Nicholas Brendon the actor colors my view of certain moments.) Do you think his Buffy crush would ever be reciprocated if Angel wasn’t around? (I severely doubt it.) Did you suspect at this time during the show that Angel was secretly a vampire?

Join Sarah next Wednesday as she tackles “Never Kill a Boy the First Date” (always sound advice) and “The Pack” (another Xander-centric episode)!

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.