Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 7 Episode 1

Lessons

3
Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM Sep 24, 2002 on The WB
8.6
out of 10
User Rating
511 votes
26

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
The re-opening of Sunnydale High School feels just like old times for Buffy as some undead students and faculty rise up and blame the Slayer for failing to protect them. Dawn and Buffy, together with some of Dawn's new friends join together to defeat the evil. Meanwhile, the newly-ensouled Spike is seeking solace in the maze-like basement of the new school, and Willow begins her rehabilitation with Giles in England.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • "It's about power. Who's got it. Who knows how to use -Buffy

    8.0
    It's with this quote -- a theme setter -- that I dive into reviewing the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Checkpoint", both the Watcher's Council and Glory were exerting their respective powers on Buffy. Instead of being controlled by that power, Buffy looked at the other side of the coin. These people needed to threaten Buffy because of the power she possessed. Power is an intruiging concept in that it can be used for great good or great evil. It all boils down to who has it, and what they do with it.



    Although "Lessons" reintroduces us to the power theme, it doesn't dwell on it much. It's instead more concerned with having a relatively light-weight romp for a change. This turns out to be the episode's biggest weakness and strength. In sticking to a standard-fare Buffy plot, it sadly lacks the inventiveness or punch to really accomplish much. The entire episode would have been a lot funnier, for example, had there been nothing wrong at the new high school. The end of the episode could have still played out the same, too. In the end, though, we just have a standard mediocre Buffy plot about some random annoying dead people. Even so, I still enjoyed the more inconsequential tone of the episode, just due to the striking difference from last season.



    This episode had somewhat of a detox effect on me, dispelling all the doom and gloom of last season in one episode. What allows this to happen is seeing most of the characters in a much more mature, settled place. Buffy, in particular, is looking strong and kicking ass again. Thanks to S6's arc, I actually buy where she's at in her life right now. It's incredibly refreshing to see Buffy back to herself, and stronger than ever. The evidence for this, besides simply being written all over her face, is a combination of things. For one, Buffy's senses appear to be working really well again. She can sense something wrong in the hallways of the new school well before anything happens. I also loved the inventiveness and fun of Buffy's fight with the dead guys, swinging that handbag around like a pro. The most important factor in guaging Buffy's happiness, though, is her quip-o-meter which, in "Lessons" is on



    It's interesting to see Buffy still has concern for a clearly messed up Spike, despite their history. When Buffy initially sees him in the basement, Spike tells her "no one comes down her. It's just the three of I love how much this one little comment could mean. Does he mean "the three of us" are Buffy, the demon inside him, and his new soul? Or does he mean Buffy, himself, and the First? Oh, how delicious Spike's arc is this season. I'm already salivating at the thought of writing about the final scene of "Beneath You".



    Principal Wood is a new character that I'm very fond of, mostly due to how . Woodside plays the role. Buffy's hallway chat with him excellently sets his aura of mystery. Even knowing his story, I still find these early scenes very effective. I think it's due to a combination of things: how the initial hallway scene was shot, Wood's mysterious dialog, and the natural chemistry SMG has with . Woodside.



    Although "Lessons" doesn't really focus on any one particular character, it does do a decent job at getting us re-acquainted with everyone, which I genuinely appreciate. Xander shows up to Buffy's place with a new-looking car, all dressed up for a "client Boy, Xander's grown up quite a lot too, hasn't he? The interaction between him and Buffy is so warm and comfortable it makes me want to wrap it up in a box and keep it in a safe place to pull out whenever I need it. These two, dare I say, feel like a very happy married couple in not only the scene in Buffy's house, but most of the episode in general. It makes me think that, some day, a relationship between these two might actually really work.



    I love seeing Willow with Giles in England, trying to find herself again. What makes me even happier, though, is Whedon's dialog here about magic having more to do with the connectivity and lifeforce of the earth around us than any kind of addiction. Giles tells her, "This isn't a hobby or an addiction. It's inside you now. This magic. You're responsible for Thank you, Mr. Whedon, for clarifying and admitting the mistake of Willow's mid-season arc last season that began in "Wrecked". Giles asks her an excellent question: "do you want to be punished?" Willow simply replies, "I want to be Aww... Alyson Hannigan is always able to turn me into mush.



    On the Dawn front, it's really nice to see her now going to high school and that she's been training with Buffy. It's cool to see the continuity of Buffy beginning to live up to that promise she gave Dawn in "Grave". Dawn is becoming more capable and, with what's she's had to witness around her, is wise beyond her age. Although we get a glimpse of that here, we definitely are going to see more of it later in the season. It's great to simply see Dawn taking control of her surroundings, and taking charge of the unexpected situation she had to face in this episode.



    Moving onto Anya, apparently she's been having trouble being an effective vengeance demon over the summer. This doesn't come as a surprise to me at all, considering what happened in "Entropy". We, the viewers, know that Anya can't ever return to being a hardcore vengeance demon again. Thankfully, though, this character thread won't linger on much longer -- the topic is touched on in "Beneath You" and then expanded on in the potent and revealing "Selfless".



    The final scene of the episode is just spectacular. This is the First launching an all-out assault on Spike while he's in no state to fight back. The First knows he's a very dangerous force, whether for or against evil. This is why it says that Spike is right where it wants him -- useless and hiding in the basement. Having all the villains from the previous seasons morph into each other with the tone-setting music, ending with Buffy herself, was chilling and yet also very much a treat.



    It's really fitting that in a season where we're going back to, as the First says, "the true beginning," that we'd see not only all the previous villains make an appearance, but also Sunnydale High School itself, rebuilt on the very grounds it once stood. "Lessons" does a respectable job at rebuilding the foundation of the series by getting us up-to-speed on these lovely characters, while also setting up the initial theme and story threads of the season. It's a very comfortable and fun episode that only really suffers from having a somewhat unexciting plot. If the characters can have some fun with it, though, I will too. :)moreless
  • Last season of the greatest show ever

    8.0
    LESSONS



    The Good;

    Love Dawnies' first patrol and first day at SDH, so cool. The line up of baddies at the end is superb, they're so lucky they could get them all.



    The Bad;

    Really dislike the scenes of the Potentials being killed, if it were anyone but Joss I'd say it was misogyny. Dawn seems to make a couple of friends at the end of the ep but they never occur again.



    Best line;

    Dawn; (sadly, after Buffy has embarrassed her in front of the whole class) "I also have a sister"



    Women good/men bad;

    The First as Warren very dismissive of Buffy



    Jeez!;

    Even though it's only implied the zombie stabbing Dawn with the pencil is wince inducing. The killing of the potentials is also horrible.



    Kinky dinky;

    Buffy comments on the hotness of Spike and Angel. The zombie guy wants to date Dawn, well she's already gone out with one dead guy and had a crush on another. Willow seems disappointed that Giles didn't put her in a dungeon and torture her. He asks her if she wants to be punished? (Surely if there was ever a time for Gillow this is it?)



    Captain Subtext;

    Spike was once caned at school (presumably when human)



    Guantanamo Bay;

    A little anti-French racism from Anya.



    Missing scenes;

    Reputedly they filmed a scene where Dawn decides to tell her real life story to her class, love to see that, roll on Buffy/Angel; Special Edition DVDs.



    Apocalypses; 7,



    Scoobies in bondage:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 5

    Will: 4

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 4

    Oz: 1

    Faith: 3

    Joyce: 1

    Wes: 1

    Xander; 2

    Dawn; 4



    Scoobies knocked out: Dawnie

    Buffy: 19

    Giles: 12

    Cordy: 6

    Xander: 14

    Will: 8

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 6

    Oz: 3

    Faith: 1

    Joyce: 3

    Wes: 1

    Anya;5

    Dawn; 4

    Tara; 1



    Kills: 1 vamp for Buffy

    Buffy: 108 vamps, 58 demons, 6 monsters, 3 humans, 1 werewolf, 1 spirit warrior & a robot

    Giles: 8 vamps, 2 demon, 1 human, 1 god.

    Cordy: 3 vamps, a demon

    Will: 6 vamps + 3 demons +1 fawn+1 human.

    Angel: 3 vamps, 1 demon, 1 human

    Oz: 3 vamps, 1 zombie

    Faith: 16 vamps, 5 demons, 3 humans

    Xander: 6 vamps, 2 zombies, 1 a demon,

    Anya: 1 vamp and 1 a demon

    Riley; 18 vamps + 7 demons

    Spike; 8 vamps and 6 demons

    Buffybot; 2 vamps

    Tara; 1 demon

    Dawn; 1 vamp + 1 demon



    Scoobies go evil:

    Giles: 1

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 3

    Jenny: 1

    Angel: 1

    Oz: 1

    Joyce: 1

    Xander: 4

    Anya; 1

    Dawn; 1

    Buffy; 1



    Alternate scoobies:

    Buffy: 8

    Giles: 4

    Cordy: 1

    Will: 5

    Jenny: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 2

    Joyce: 2

    Xander: 4

    Tara; 1

    Dawn;1

    Spike; 1

    Anya; 2



    Recurring characters killed: 12

    Jesse, Flutie, Jenny, Kendra, Larry, Snyder, Professor Walsh, Forrest, McNamara, Joyce, Katrina, Tara



    Sunnydale deaths; the 3 poor folks in the basement

    97



    Total number of scoobies: 3 the Dawnster is finally part of the Scoobies, about time too

    Xander, Buffy, Dawn



    Xander demon magnet: 5(6?)

    Preying Mantis Lady, Inca Mummy Girl, Drusilla, VampWillow, Anya (arguably Buffy & Faith with their demon essences?), Dracula?



    Scoobies shot:

    Giles: 2

    Angel: 3

    Oz: 4

    Riley; 1

    Buffy; 1

    Tara; 1



    Notches on Scooby bedpost:

    Giles: 2; Joyce & Olivia, possibly Jenny and 3xDraccy babes?

    Cordy: 1?

    Buffy: 4 confirmed; Angel, Parker, Riley, Spike. 1 possible, Dracula(?)

    Angel: 1;Buffy

    Joyce: 1;Giles, 2 possible, Ted and Dracula(?)

    Oz: 3; Groupie, Willow & Verucca

    Faith:2 ;Xander, Riley

    Xander: 2; Faith, Anya

    Willow: 2;Oz and Tara

    Riley; 3; Buffy, Sandy and unnamed vampwhore

    Spike; 2 Buffy and Anya

    Anya; 2 Spike and Xander



    Spike; good or bad?

    Don't have to ask that any more, not now he has his soul back



    Dawn in peril; 12 isn't she always?



    Dawn the bashful virgin; 9



    What the fanficcers thought;

    Dawn says that if she get's bitten she'll come back as a vamp and bite Buffy, a common theme in Summers/slash fetish fics (although it always ends happily with Mohra demon blood and resouling). Nice to see Glory back too, Clare as gorgeous as ever, recently read an epic adult fanfic series called Glorydale where Glory seduces all the Scoobys and transforms Sunnydale into her own private sexual playground, a sort of XXX-rated Las Vegas where anything and everything really does go. Eventually she's having so much fun she decides not to go back to her own hell dimension after all, gives up her godhood, restores the sanity of everyone she's brainsucked and confesses to everyone she's fallen in love with them all. And of course this being fanfic, they've all fallen in love with her too...



    Questions and observations;

    The zombies articulate what a lot of Buffy critics have said over the years, that she allows a lot of people to die. Personally I agree with Buffy, they should shut up, she does her best. I always think of the RAF in the Battle of Britain, bombers get through, thousands die but it's still a victory. So lovely that Buffy can quit the DMP and work at the school, she seems so happy.

    Now, Halfrek refers to her and Anya in the Crimean War which was 1853-6 decades BEFORE Spike became a vampire. This implies that there never was a Cecilly, there was only ever Halfrek assuming her guise who took revenge on William for some unknown party. Xander looks great in his suit.

    Dawn gets a mobile phone, about bloody time too, CC had one in Welcome to the Hellmouth and then we never see one again for over 122eps, AI had them for 3 years. Dawn comments on the fact that being sired seems to automatically teach you Tae-Kwan-Do. What a shame we never meet The Coven. Buffy fears Dawn will start smoking, it's hardly going to stunt her growth. So who was the werewolf who killed one of the ghosts? Oz? Verruca? Like Spike's hair better in this one. Lovely to see Buffy get a 'thank you' hug from Kit, she does so much it's nice she get's some appreciation. Dawn still a bit bitter about the Normal Again thing. Buffy says ghosts can't touch, Phantom Dennis can. Dawn is bitten by a vamp, I think Xander is the only Scooby who never will be.

    Now I always thought they didn't know this was going to be the last season until halfway through but to judge by Joss' comments on the commentary he always intended it to the be the last from the beginning.

    Marks out of 10; 8/10



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  • School's Back In Session

    7.5
    Lessons-The re-opening of Sunnydale High School feels just like old times for Buffy as some undead students and faculty rise up and blame the Slayer for failing to protect them. Dawn and Buffy, together with some of Dawn's new friends join together to defeat the evil. Meanwhile, the newly-ensouled Spike is seeking solace in the maze-like basement of the new school, and Willow begins her rehabilitation with Giles in England.

    Here begins the final year of the Buffy and as season premieres go, it's prettystandardbut it has certain moments that worth watching. The biggest development of the season are starts off in full swing as Sunnydale High isreconstructedand Dawn going to school there. I already love the back-to-basics feel that final season is giving off but also continuing to progress the character developments made last season. Buffy really is true to her word as now she trains Dawn how to fight vampires. Also after the borderline morbidness of Season 6, the show feels light-hearted and humorous here. Not that there weren't any laughs in Season 6, but with all the serious, complex arcs being thrown around, those laughs were very few and far in between. Gotta love all the priceless jokes from Dawn making fun of Buffy being the "shorter", older sister to the vampire being stuck to Buffy freaking out about her "mom hair" everytime someone thinks she's Dawn's mom to Buffy telling one of the ghost zombies she only dates hot dead guys and assuming he must have a "nice personality".

    Speakingof the ghost zombies, there are pretty forgettable. They certainly look scary but the reason behind their manifestation is so vague with the talisman and the faced that we never found out who summoned them in the first place makes the plot feel even more like a waste of time. The only thing to come out of it is the moment Buffy discovers Spike in the basement of the school...looking all crazy with...really messy hair. With Sunnydale High being back, we're introduced to Principle Wood, who seems younger and cool than any High School principle I've ever seen. It's obvious he know more about Buffy than he's letting on, especially when he offers her a job as a counselor at the school. Meanwhile, in England, we get to see some nice location shots where Willow still healing from her dark turn last season and Giles continuing to mentor her. The dynamic between these two is stunning her from Willow's sadness over how much she's change to Giles' reassuring her "We're all who we are in the end"! The intense chase scene at the beginning of the episode was well done, the first time I saw it, I was surprised Buffy could have that kind of scope on such a small budget but it was definitely a great way to open the season with mystery behind the hooded men killing young girls around the world. While a pretty good episode, the last scene is possibly one of the most riveting scene of the series. As Spike is being haunted by the season's Big Bad ("The First Evil" we soon find out) that manifests itself into former Big Bads of the series: Warren, Glory, Adam, The Mayor, Drusilla, The Master and finally Buffy. Once again, bringing the series full circle by reminding us of past villains and delivering one of the most chilling dialogue of the series. "Lessons" may have a pretty weak main plot, but the stunning introduction of the main arcs and the final Big Bad of the series make it quite good overall.moreless
  • Well, here we are. The end of the line for Buffy. The oft-maligned, only sparsely defended seventh season.

    8.0
    As always, I'm going into this with an open mind. Given the generally low opinion of the last Buffy season, there's a strong likelihood that I could be pleasantly surprised from week to week. Or I could be drumming my fingers, waiting for the show to be over so I can start to watch Angel. I'm mainly looking for some high adventure, some moments of levity, and a chance to bid a fond farewell to some characters I love.



    But hey, I won't say no to a little globe-hopping either, as in:



    Istanbul! Where a young woman flees through the night, pursued by creepy men in hooded robes. She slips down an alley and climbs onto a roof, but one of her pursuers is already there. He shoves her down to the street, where his cohorts stab her with a knife.



    England! Where Willow is rehabilitating with Giles and his coven, learning that the magic is an inextricable part of her-not "a hobby or an addiction"-and that she needs to respect how all the energies of the world are connected if she's going to wield that power responsibly. But Willow's not sure she's worthy of redemption. "I killed people, Giles," she says. "I haven't forgotten," Giles responds, quickly and coldly. He asks, "Do you want to be punished?" She reponds, weakly, "I want to be Willow."



    Sunnydale! Where the high school has finally been rebuilt, which is good news, but on the same old Hellmouth site, which is terrible news. Even worse: Dawn's now a student there, which is worrying Buffy to no end, even though Xander's around the school doing construction work, and can protect her sister. As it turns out, Buffy's worries are well-founded. No sooner do she and Dawn set foot on school grounds than terrifying, zombie-looking, ghost-like creatures begin to plague them.



    Buffy's seventh season opener doesn't waste a lot of time on reintroductions; it throws our heroes back into the mix fairly quick. And though "Lessons" is vague about what major threat Buffy will be facing this year, we do know that is major. "Something's rising," Halfrek says at one point. "This is a bad time to be a good guy."



    Anyway, there's no real time to introduce the main characters when there are new characters to bring in. First up: Principal Robin Wood, who seems nice, but is a little suspicious because he already knows about the Summers girls, and because he has his office where Giles' library used to be. We also meet one of Dawn's new teachers, Mr. Lonegrin, and two of her classmates: Kit Holburn and Carlos Trejo. Since none of the latter three have Wikipedia entries, I'm going to assume that we'll either never see them again, or that they'll mainly be background types, not integral to the ongoing plot. But for this episode at least, Kit and Carlos matter, as they join Dawn and Buffy in being able to see the weird apparitions-the ones who look at Buffy and hiss, "You didn't save me."



    So the kids head into the basement-even though there is a sign which clearly states: "No Student Access"-and Buffy heads after them. There, behind the apparitions, Buffy is surprised to find Spike, looking very un-Spike-y. His hair is shaggy and un-dyed. His chest is all sliced up. And he's babbling like a lunatic. Spike does pull it together long enough to explain to Buffy that the things she's seeing aren't ghosts, but "manifest spirits." This means two things: they can be physically harmed, and they can be eliminated if someone destroys the talisman that conjured them. Buffy gets Dawn to work on the former-Dawn fashions a crude weapon out of bricks and a bag-and Xander to work on the latter. Soon, the day is saved, Carlos and Kit are gushing that Buffy's the coolest mom ever, and Principal Wood is offering Buffy a low-paying part-time job as a counselor for the school's wayward youth.



    I wouldn't call "Lessons" one of the best Buffy episodes ever, but it's a solid start to the season, helped along by a snappy Joss Whedon script and provocative intimations about what's coming this year. We're apparently going to wrap up Buffy by contemplating being stuck, with the heroine back at Sunnydale High and repeating herself to some degree. And we're going to be dealing with old evils, coming back up from the ground.



    And I guess we're not done with Spike, who has the most emotionally powerful moments in "Lesson" when he babbles to himself after Buffy leaves about how, "I had a speech…," clearly chastening himself for not coming back to Sunnydale as the newly re-ensouled superman that he'd hoped to be for her. Unless he's hallucinating, it's Spike who gets the first glimpse of what might be this season's Big Bad: a shape-shifting thing that takes the form of previous Buffy baddies, including Warren, Glory, Adam, The Mayor, Drusilla and The Master. Most disturbingly, this thing ends by taking the form of Buffy herself, echoing a line from the beginning of the episode: "It's about power."



    Will the ultimate villain of this final Buffy season be the title character?moreless
  • "Vampires, demons; they're nothing compared to what's coming" - Buffy

    9.0
    The previouslies from the last season end with Spike and his re-ensouling, which is apt since, if Season 6 was all about Willow, then Season 7 focuses on Spike's journey from tortured mad vamp to Christ-like sacrifice. We open though, not with the gang, but a girl chased and murdered, surely the antithesis of Buffy's MO. Then a quick segue to the more traditional graveyard scene where Buffy is making good on her promise to show Dawn the world by letting her kill her first vampire. Things don't go that smoothly though as the vamp has trouble digging his way out of his grave and then almost bites Dawn: seemingly he does know the "fancy martial arts skills they inevitably seem to pick up". For once, Buffy is happy at the beginning of a series, happy with a side of apprehension: the hellmouth is back, with a new school on top of it. The school is complete with a sexy new headteacher – how long will he last? Is he evil? Is he stalking Buffy? Does he think that flipping burgers makes for a good school counsellor? And why would he pretend to think Dawn is Buffy's daughter if he's seen the Slayer's school file (which was presumably burnt to a crisp at the end of S3)? All we know of him at the moment is that he has a resonant name (Robin Wood) and an office where the library used to be – on the hellmouth itself. Meanwhile, back in England, Willow has adenoid problems and is staring at magic flowers. We're reminded of how powerful Willow is – the other witches at the Magicks Rehab Coven are afraid of her. Giles has been teaching Gaeia 101 (minoring in foreshadowing) as he tells her "We're all connected to a great power". Power is the major theme in S7; Buffy tells Dawn: "It's about power, who's got it, who knows how to use it.". This would seem to imply that it's not about right and wrong, it's about having the amount of power needed to defeat an enemy and the compromises needed to attain and maintain that power. The last series was all about the grey: bad humans and good demons, now Joss seems to be saying that it's not even about black and white becoming grey, it's about choosing a side and working for that side. Halfrek tells Anya that "It's a bad time to be a good guy" - she is prompting Anya to take a side, Anya will have to choose – human working for the side of good, or demon committing vengeful acts. There are no more grey areas. Whoever has the most power will win. The big bad is after Buffy, and what we find out are the potentials, because of their power; this series is not so much about Buffy and her issues, as exploring what a Slayer is and what she is capable of.



    Another theme is underground, or beneath. Buffy wears bright colours, the school is pastel-toned, but we're soon back in the gloomy basement. Willow says: "It's all connected – the root system, the molecules, the energy", meaning that what happens underground affects what happens on the surface: in a literal sense it means that the hellmouth is about to open yet again, but is also connected with Giles assertion that: "In the end, we all are who we are, no matter how much we may have appeared to have changed" - who we are inside (underground, if you will), affects our behaviours on the outside.



    Buffy may have 'mom hair' but is still the perky girl of S1, Xander wears a suit, drives a fancy car and have crews to boss around, but is still the same nerdy Xander. Willow, despite trying to kill everyone, is still Willow. Spike is still....William? Anya still has humanity despite years as a vengeance demon. This theme is linked with another, that of "back to the beginning" – Buffy references hyena people, lizardy type jocks and invisible girls when leading Dawn into – where it all began – the high school. We're going to have a lighter, more fun series, as it was at the beginning of BTVS. But it also means the beginning of time. As Hallie says: "Something's rising, something older than the old ones". Back to the beginning...the final scene shows a crazed Spike talking to Warren-Glory-Adam-The Mayor-Dru-The Master...back to the beginning of the Big Bads, back to original sin, back to the time when demons ruled the earth ("Not the bang. Not the word.") The true beginning as the hallucination turns into....Buffy? A Buffy who says the same thing as real Buffy: "It's all about power". Good and evil are the same, it's just about who wins?



    There's also a story in amongst the foreshadows. Dawn has high heels and an independent swagger, and she doesn't like being shown up by her mom-haired sister. But when the "zombie ghost things" start attacking people, she's resourceful, and manages to ask for help. The manifest spirits also hint at what's to come – the big bad who appear as a dead person. The dead people attacking the school accuse Buffy of not protecting them; they blame her for their deaths. This links into the power theme - Buffy can't be everywhere at once, she is not omniscient, there will be human collateral as she fights the worst evil we've seen yet, something that's a combination of every fiend from The Master to Warren. Willow sees "…deep black..... It's going to swallow us all." And she's not just talking about Spike's roots.moreless
Ken Strunk

Ken Strunk

Dead Janitor

Guest Star

Simon Chernin

Simon Chernin

Student

Guest Star

Rachael Bella

Rachael Bella

Dead Girl

Guest Star

Kali Rocha

Kali Rocha

Halfrek

Recurring Role

DB Woodside

DB Woodside

Principal Robin Wood

Recurring Role

Juliet Landau

Juliet Landau

Drusilla

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (9)

    • When Dawn and Buffy are walking in to the high school for the first time Dawn says:


      "You know, I don't really think it's fair for you to try and scare me on my first day of high school. 'Cause it is so redundant."


      However, in the episode from season six Dawn mentions that she is already in high school. A possible explanation for this is that Dawn was actually referring to her first day that new high school.

    • Buffy mentions to Dawn that on her first time out, she missed the heart, like Dawn had just done. This is a callback to the Season Two episode Becoming Part 1, in which we see a flashback of Buffy's first patrol.

    • When Buffy, Xander and Dawn are in Buffy's house together before they head off to school, Sarah Michelle Gellar's tattoo is briefly visible.

    • In the final scene with Spike his hair is stringy with visible black roots, but when Adam and the Mayor look at him his hair is neat with no sign of dark roots.

    • When Dawn and Kit fall through the restroom floor the resulting hole is narrow in the middle. When Buffy comes in the hole is now an oval of even width.

    • In the first scene with Buffy and Xander two of Sarah's tattoos can be seen, one on her left hip and another in the small of her back. They are visible a few more times in the episode, especially as she is leaving Spike's room in the basement to look for Dawn. The tattoos are so obvious that their exposure can't just be a mistake.
      On the other hand, there are times when they should be seen but aren't. That's because the scenes involve Buffy's stunt double.

    • When Buffy arrives to Dawn in the basement she is wearing heels. When she is fighting the ghosts she has brown trainers on.

    • At the final scene, Drusilla/First clearly touches Spike's hair.

    • When The Master is talking to Spike is that supposed to be light coming from the corner? And if it is why is there a window there, in the basement?

  • QUOTES (15)

    • Buffy: You could still drop out. Only nerds finish high school.
      Dawn: You know, I don't really think it's fair for you to try and scare me on my first day of high school, because it's so redundant.

    • Buffy: Where's my sister?
      Dead Janitor: I think she's lost.
      Buffy: If I'm the one who let you die, why take it out on her? I'm right here. C'mon, what are you after? Fear? Revenge? Tasty brains?
      Dead Nerd: I think I'd like Dawn to be my girlfriend.
      Buffy: Again, wrong sister. I'm the one that dates dead guys. And, no offense, but they were hotties. I mean, I'm sure you had a great personality.

    • Xander: How exactly do you "make" cereal?
      Buffy: Ah. You put the box near the milk. I saw it on the Food Channel.

    • Buffy: You're a little girl.
      Dawn: Woman.
      Buffy: Little woman.
      Dawn: I'm taller than you!

    • Buffy: Do I have mom hair?

    • Buffy: If at first you don't succeed, cheat.

    • Dawn: (about a vampire about to come out of a grave) But, he's new. He doesn't know his strength. He might not know those fancy martial art skills they inevitably seem to pick up.
      Buffy: He's a vampire. Okay? Demon? Preternaturally strong, skilled with powers no human could possibly ever-
      Vampire: (trying to get out of his grave) Excuse me. I think I'm stuck.
      Buffy: You're stuck?
      Vampire: I think my foot's stuck on a root or something. I don't even know how I got down there. If you girls could just give me a hand...
      Dawn: So, he's got the power, huh?

    • Willow: When you brought me here I thought it was to kill me, or to lock me in some mystical dungeon for all eternity, or with the torture, but instead you go all Dumbledore on me.

    • Willow: Is there anything you don't know everything about?
      Giles: Synchronized swimming. Complete mystery to me.

    • Giles: Do you want to be punished?
      Willow: I want to be Willow.
      Giles: You are. In the end we all are who we are... no matter how much we may appear to have changed.

    • (Dawn is introducing herself to her classmates)
      Dawn: I love to dance, I like music, I'm very into Britney Spears' early work, before she sold out, so mostly her finger painting and macaroni art. Very underrated. Favorite activities include not ever having to do this again, and um...

    • Spike: (loudly, seemingly to no-one) Don't you think I'm trying! (quieter) I'm not fast...I'm not a quick study. I dropped my board in the water and the chalk all ran. She already came. (laughs) Should've seen that coming.

    • William: Duck!
      Buffy: Duck? There's a duck?
      (Baddie hits her from behind)

    • Warren: Of course, she won't understand, Sparky. I'm beyond her understanding. She's a girl. Sugar and spice and everything...else that's useless unless you're baking. I'm more than that. More than flesh...
      Glory: ...More than blood, I'm--You know I honestly don't think there's a word fabulous enough for me. Oh, my name will be on everyone's lips, assuming their lips haven't been torn off. But not just yet. That's all right, though...
      Adam: ...I can be patient. Everything is well within parameters. She's exactly where I want her to be. And so are you, Number 17. You're right where you belong...
      Mayor Wilkins: ...So, what'd you think, you'd get your soul back and everything would be Jim Dandy? A soul is slippier than a greased weasel. Why do you think I sold mine? Well, you probably thought that you'd be your own man. And I respect that. But you...
      Drusilla: ...never will. You'll always be mine. You'll always be in the dark with me, singing our little songs. You like our little songs, don't you? You've always like them, right from the beginning. And that's where we're going...
      The Master: ...Right back to the beginning. Not the bang...not the word...the true beginning. The next few months are going to be quite a ride, and I think we're all going to learn something about ourselves in the process. You'll learn you're a pathetic schmuck, if it hasn't sunk in already. Look at you. Tried to do what's right. Just like her. You still don't get it. It's not about right. Not about wrong...
      Buffy: ...It's about power.

    • Dawn: I had a plan.
      Buffy: Oh yeah.

  • NOTES (30)

    • Creater Joss Whedon calls the fighting style with the bricks in the purse "Bag-fu".

    • Michelle Trachtenberg chose the sweater she was going to wear for her scenes at school. She later regreted the decision when it turned out to be 110 degrees for the exterior shots on location.

    • The graveyard where Buffy is teaching Dawn how to fight is actually an indoor graveyard that was created due to poor weather.

    • The scenes in Istabul at the start of the episode were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot.

    • The First's plans seem to require a vampire with a soul. It appears to Angel in Season 3 and, having failed to take control of him, it vanishes for the rest of the series until another vampire with a soul, Spike, shows up in Sunnydale. It then goes on to partially take control of Spike with the same mixture of guilt and temptation that it tried to use with Angel.

    • This marks Juliet Landau's return to the series. Her last appearence was in Season 5's "Crush". But she only appears as the First Evil in this episode.

    • Principal Wood opens the brand-new Sunnydale High on the ground upon which it first stood.

    • This is the only time in the entire series where a season premiere has no cast changes in the opening titles. The series regulars remain the same as last season's.

    • The last few lines of the speech given by The First are almost identical to lines spoken by Holland in the Angel episode "Blind Date" when he says "It's not about good and evil. It's about who wields the most power."

    • With this episode, Joss becomes the only person to write at least one episode in every season of Buffy.

    • Halfrek makes mention of a Mrs. Czolgosz as part of Anya's vengeance history. In the season 4 episode, "Superstar", Anya told Buffy that she made someone fall in love with president McKinley. William McKinley was killed September 6, 1901 by a man named Leon Czolgosz. In the commentary, Joss says that even Jane Espenson didn't get the reference.

    • In the cemetery scene at the beginning of the episode, Buffy tells the vampire that if he wants blood he can have Dawn's. Wesley does the (almost) exact thing with Faith in Angel 4x13 "Salvage".

    • The First has a different morphing sequence than from what it had in "Amends" (Season 3). Now it directly transforms into the person it wants without the black fog animation.

    • The final image of Buffy in the opening credits is actually an image from this episode of The First as Buffy.

    • The principal got his name because Joss wasn't sure whether they would have a male or female principal, so they chose a name that could be for both.

    • Kali Rocha's (Halfrek) appearance in this episode was filmed on the same day as all her other season seven appearances.

    • The characters Kit and Carlos were going to be used as main characters if there were to be a Dawn spin-off. They would be like the new Xander and Willow.

    • This is the first episode ever of Buffy that David Greenwalt is uncredited and does not officially work on. Since the show's inception he had been a part of the show in one way or another until this episode and the rest of the final season. It is likely that he contributed to the season in some form, since he still worked with Joss Whedon on the spin-off Angel this year and must've had a part in the Buffy finale.

    • Buffy makes a reference about the two previous Sunnydale High Principals being eaten (Principal Flutie in "The Pack" and Snyder in "Graduation Day (2)").

    • Back to the Beginning Reference: Buffy goes back to Sunnydale High, this time as an employee.

    • A new book has been published entitled "Chosen" which follows the story of the events in this season starting with this episode, right out to the final episode "Chosen".

    • Mark Metcalf (The Master), George Hertzberg (Adam), and Clare Kramer (Glory) all reprise their villainous roles for the final time in the Buffy series. All three characters were originally intended to return again by the end of the season, but they were unable to make their schedule work with Joss's.

    • Adam/The First refers to Spike as "Number 17". This is a reference to The Initiative, who called Spike "Hostile 17".

    • There were going to be more scenes in England, but bad weather interrupted the filming.

    • Alex Breckenridge, the actress that played Kit, appeared in the 2002 movie Vampire Clan, based on the 1996 true story of a group of teenagers who believed they were vampires.

    • The house and the horse that appear in the England scenes both belong to Anthony Stewart Head.

    • The Hellmouth is now under the Office of Robin Wood.

    • All the previous Big Bads appear at the conclusion to this episode, (In reverse order of when they first appeared):
      Warren, Glory, Adam, Mayor Wilkins III, Drusilla and The Master. Their names were omitted from the guest stars list so not to spoil the ending.

    • The scene with the morphing entity who torments Spike is very reminiscent of the episode "Amends," in which The First Evil appears to Angel as his victims.

    • Apparently, Xander bought a new car because the previous one was destroyed by Willow in Season 6 finale.

  • ALLUSIONS (8)

    • The First/Warren: She's a girl. Sugar and spice and everything...else that's useless unless you're baking.
      Warren/The First is referring to an old nursery rhyme:
      What are little boys made of?
      Snips and snails, and puppy dog tails,
      That's what little boys are made of.
      What are little girls made of?
      Sugar and spice, and everything nice,
      That's what little girls are made of.

    • Buffy: Here endeth the lesson.

      The phrase "Here endeth the lesson" is part of the Anglican church service. Millions of people have heard it once a week, every week of their lives. Hence in other contexts it is used to suggest that the lesson you have just received is comparable to the word of God.

      The phrase occurs widely. Sean Connery's character says it in The Untouchables (1987). The Master says it in Never Kill a Boy on the First Date. Spike says it in Fool for Love.

    • Halfrek: Oh look at them with the shiny happiness.
      Shiny Happy People is the title of a song on the Out of Time album from the band R.E.M.

    • Dawn: Check out Double-Oh-Xander.
      James Bond 007 is the British Secret Agent created by Ian Fleming. It is not the first time that 007 has been referred to; in Fear, Itself, Xander dressed up as James Bond, and Wesley was compared to Bond (or more specifically, Pierce Brosnan) by both Xander and Cordelia in Season 3. The Trio in season 6 keeps arguing about who is the best James Bond of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Timothy Dalton.

    • Giles: You sound like Miss Harkness.
      Years ago in Fantastic Four comics, there was a witch named Miss Harkness. Miss Harkness's first name was Agatha, and she trained Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch. Wanda & her brother Peitro (aka Quicksilver) are the children of Magneto, the X-Men's archenemy. She was also the Nanny of Franklin Richards, son of Sue and Reed Richards of the Fantastic four.

    • The Master: Not the Bang. Not the Word. The true beginning.
      The Master appears to be refering to the "Big Bang" of cosmology and to the "Word" of the opening line of the Gospel of John, ("In the beginning was the Word....").

    • Willow: When you brought me here I thought it was to kill me, or to lock me in some mystical dungeon for all eternity, or with the torture, but instead you go all Dumbledore on me."
      Albus Dumbledore is the sorcerer who is headmaster of Hogwarts Academy in the Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling. The character was played by the late Richard Harris in the first two film adaptations, and by Michael Gambon in the rest.

    • Dawn: I know! You never know what's coming, the stake is not the power, to serve man is a cookbook, I love you! Go away!
      "To Serve Man" is the title of an episode of the classic anthology series The Twilight Zone. In the episode, aliens come to earth, offering help. A book, which was written in an alien language, was decoded and was found named "To Serve Man". They thought this meant that this was a book on helping humankind, but it wasn't until they were on the ship that they realized that it was really a cookbook, and they were the main course.

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