Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Lessons

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Season 7, Episode 1
Airdate September 24, 2002
Production Number 7ABB01
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by David Solomon
← 6x22
Grave (2)
7x02 →
Beneath You
Buffy the Vampire SlayerSeason Seven

Lessons is the first episode of the seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the one-hundred and twenty-third episode overall. As Sunnydale High reopens, Buffy sends Dawn off to her first day of high school. While at Sunnydale High, Buffy faces the undead entities of the people she failed to save.

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn Summers), James Marsters (Spike)

and Alyson Hannigan (Willow)

Special Guest Star: Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles)

Guest Starring: Alex Breckenridge (Kit Holburn), Kali Rocha (Halfrek)

and DB Woodside (Principal Wood)

Co-Starring: Mark Metcalf (The Master), Juliet Landau (Drusilla), Harry Groener (Mayor Wilkins), George Hertzberg (Adam), Clare Kramer (Glory), Adam Busch (Warren), David Zepeda (Carlos), Jeremy Howard (Dead Nerd), Ken Strunk (Dead Janitor), Rachael Bella (Dead Girl), Ed F. Martin (Teacher), Simon Chernin (Student), Jeff Denton (Vampire)

Uncredited: Strange Radio (Café Duo)


Plot Overview

Buffy is instructing Dawn on how to deal with creatures of the Hellmouth, as she’s about to attend her first day of Sunnydale High School, rebuilt on the very same ground the Scoobies attended years earlier. Buffy soon finds her fears justified as the manifested spirits of three individuals haunt the new school.

Meanwhile, Willow is in England being rehabilitated by Giles.


Monster of the Week

  • Manifest Spirits: The zombie-ghosts that appear throughout the episode were created by someone using a talisman to raise their spirits and bodies. The spirits are dissipated when the talisman that manifested them is broken. It isn't revealed who or what left the talisman in this episode.

Body Count

# Whom By Whom How Where
1 Vampire "Pelletti" Buffy Decapitated Graveyard

Arc Advancement


  • Sunnydale High: Sunnydale High reopens for the first time after being demolished by Buffy and the rest of the graduating class during the season three finale, Graduation Day.
  • Big Bads: Various Big Bads from the past six seasons appear in this episode. This includes The Master, Drusilla, The Mayor, Adam, Glory, and Warren Meers. They appear to Spike in the order that they last appeared.
  • Back to the Beginning: Buffy and Xander both go back to Sunnydale High, albeit as employees.


  • Willow: Willow is in England trying to harness and control her magical powers with Giles. It's discovered that the magic is actually a part of her now, and not just a hobby anymore.
  • Spike: Spike has spent the entire summer locked up in the basement of Sunnydale High after his soul was given back to him in the season six finale, "Grave".
  • Buffy: Buffy accepts a job as sort of a counsellor at Sunnydale High. She accepts without hesitation so that she can keep an eye on the school.


  • 3x22 - Graduation Day: Sunnydale High was destroyed when the graduating class of Sunnydale High attempted to stop Mayor Richard Wilkins III's ascension into demonhood. They succeeded, but at the cost of many students and the school itself.
Willow: I deserve a lot worse. I killed people, Giles.
  • 1x06 - The Pack and Graduation Day: The last two principals of Sunnydale High were Principal Flutie and Principal Snyder. The first was eaten by students under the sway of the hyena's power and the second was eaten by the demon form of the Mayor.
Xander: The last two principals were eaten. Who would even apply for that job?
Buffy: And stay away from hyena people, or any lizard-type athletes, you know, or if you see anyone that's invisible.
  • 2x21 - Becoming (1): Buffy tells Dawn that on her first time, she missed the vampire's heart too. This was shown in a flashback in the referenced episode.
Buffy: My first time out, I missed the heart too.
  • 6x22 - Grave: The gashes on Spike's chest come from him trying to physically remove his soul from his body, which he was tricked into getting back in the season finale.
Spike: I... I tried to get it out.
  • 4x07 - The Initiative: Adam refers to Spike as "number 17." This is a reference to Spike being codenamed "Hostile 17" while under the control of the Initiative.
Adam: She's exactly where I want her to be. And so are you, Number 17.


The Show

  • First Appearances: This episode marks the first appearance of several new characters including Kit Holburn, Carlos Trejo and Principal Robin Wood.
  • Music: The song "So High" by Strange Radio is playing acoustically in the Espresso Pump where Halfrek and Anya are.

Behind the Scenes

  • Spinoff: Carlos and Kit were introduced in this season in order to set up potential supporting characters in case UPN decided to make a Dawn spinoff series. Kit was meant to be the spinoff's Willow and Carlos was meant to be its Xander.
  • Sinking Ship: This is the first episode in which David Greenwalt was not credited in some way for.
  • Scrapped Scenes: There were originally going to be more scenes in Britain, but poor weather conditions caused the shoot to be called off.
  • Borrowing Stuff: Both the horse and the house that appear in the episode's scenes in England were actually owned by Anthony Stewart Head.

Allusions and References

  • Dumbledore: Dumbledore is the head of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter novels and films. He is played by Richard Harris in the movies.
Willow: Instead you go all Dumbledore on me.
  • To Serve Man: Dawn's last comment is a reference to an episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "To Serve Man" in which a race of aliens come to Earth bearing goodwill and knowledge. The United Nations decode a book left behind by the aliens as To Serve Man. But, when everyone believes that it's a handbook for the furthering of mankind, it's actually a cookbook.
Dawn: I know, you never know what's coming, the stake is not the power, 'To Serve Man' is a cookbook.
  • Leon Czolgosz: The reference to "Mrs. Czolgosz" is likely a reference to Leon Czolgosz, the man who assassinated President McKinley in September 1901. In 1900, he married Emma Wisemki after she came looking for the man who impregnated her (which was presumably him).
Halfrek: Do I have to mention Mrs. Czolgosz?
  • Crimean War: The Crimean War lasted from 1853 to 1856 and involved France, Britain and Turkey fighting with Russia over control of Eastern European colonies and other imperialist justifications.
Halfrek: There was that thing in the Crimean War.
  • Alice in Wonderland: The phrase "curiouser and curiouser" appears often in the Lewis Carroll books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Alice, a girl who fell into the mysterious fantasy world by accident.
Principal Wood: Curiouser and curiouser.

Memorable Moments

  • Spike being berated and tortured by the various "big bads" of the last several seasons.


  • Buffy: Never forget it. It doesn't matter how well-prepped you are or well-armed you are. You're a little girl.
Dawn: Woman.
Buffy: Little woman.
Dawn: I'm taller than you.
  • Willow: Is there anything you don’t know everything about?
Giles: Synchronised swimming. Complete mystery to me.
  • Willow: I killed people, Giles.
Giles: I've not forgotten.
Willow: When you brought me here, I thought it was to kill me. Or to lock me in some mystical dungeon for all eternity here, with the torture. Instead you go all Dumbledore on me. I’m learning about magick, all about energy and Gaia and root systems.
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.
  • Xander: How exactly do you "make" cereal?
Buffy: Ah. You put the box near the milk. I saw it on the Food Channel.
  • Buffy: My sister's about to go to the same high school that tried to kill me for three years. I can't change districts, I can't afford private school, and I can't begin to prepare for what could possibly come out of there. So peachy with a side of keen, that would be me.
  • Dawn: So the principal's evil?
Buffy: Or in a boatload of danger.
Xander: Well, the last two principals were eaten. Who'd even apply for that job?
  • Buffy: And stay away from hyena people or any lizardy-type athletes. Or if you see anyone that's invisible--
Dawn: Hey, Buffy, I think it's pretty safe to say I'm not going to see anybody that's invisible.
Buffy: You know, 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.
  • Principal Wood: You seem a bit young to have such a grown-up daughter.
Buffy: No. Uh, no. Sister.
Principal Wood: Oh, right. Um, of course.
Buffy: You didn't really think she's my... It's my hair. I have mom hair.
  • Dawn: (to Buffy) 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.
  • Anya: What is this? An intervention? Shouldn’t all my demon friends be here?
Halfrek: Sweetie... they are.
  • Buffy: I think I may have destroyed Dawn's social life in all of about thirty seconds, but apart from that, no.
Xander: Ah, being popular isn't so great. Or so I've read in books.
  • Willow: We were talking. And.. I felt... I felt the earth. It's all connected - it is, but... it's not all good and pure and rootsy. There's... deep, deep black. There's... I saw - I saw the earth, Giles. I saw its teeth.
Giles: The Hellmouth.
Willow: It's going to open. It's going to swallow us all.
  • 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. Come on, 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 offence, but they were hotties. I mean, I'm sure you had a great personality.
  • Spike: Everything is... I had a speech. I learned it all. Oh, god. She won't understand. She won't understand.
Warren: Of course she won't understand, Sparky. I'm beyond her understanding. She's a girl! Sugar and spice and everything... 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 human 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.
The Mayor: So what'd you think? You'd get your soul back and everything would be Jim Dandy? A soul's slipperier 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 never will.
Drusilla: 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 liked 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.