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Lessons (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

"Lessons" is the first episode of the seventh season of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dawn finds vengeful spirits in the new Sunnydale High while Giles is rehabilitating Willow in England.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode
Episode no.Season 7
Episode 1
Directed byDavid Solomon
Written byJoss Whedon
Production code7ABB01
Original air dateSeptember 24, 2002
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 7)
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Istanbul: A dark-haired girl runs through an arched hallway, looking over her shoulder and panting. She's being chased by two people in hooded cloaks. After trying various escape routes, she is trapped in a dead-end. She sees a drain pipe and tries to use it to scale the building. The people chasing her grab her foot, but she manages to escape their grip and easily climbs up to the roof. There, another hooded figure is waiting and pushes her off the building. She screams, but she lands on the ground alive, on her back. Two hooded figures hold her down, yet she fights back. A third figure raises an arched, shiny, silver dagger and stabs her.

Buffy is in Sunnydale training her sister how to fight vampires. She instructs Dawn that fighting and slaying are about power. They discuss the fact that Sunnydale High has just reopened; Dawn will be attending for the first time.

Meanwhile, Willow is studying with Giles in Westbury, England. She studies magic and meditation with a coven of Wiccans that Giles knows. She is learning control, but feels frightened and distraught because she "killed people".[1]

Xander is working construction at Sunnydale High School. He notes that the principal's office is right over the Hellmouth. Buffy follows Dawn into the school where she meets Principal Robin Wood. She goes into a bathroom, where she finds a mysterious talisman. Upon seeing the talisman, she sees a dead girl who threatens her. She says Buffy was unable to protect her, and that she will not be able to protect Dawn either.

Anya is still in the vengeance business, and is drinking coffee with her fellow vengeance demon Halfrek. "Hallie" tells Anya that the other demons are noticing a lack of quality in her work. She adds, "Something's rising. Something older than the old ones, and everybody's tail is twitching. This is a bad time to be a good guy."[1]

Buffy tries to warn Dawn, but ends up only embarrassing her in front of her whole class. Dawn then sees a similar dead student. She hurries to the bathroom where she meets Kit Holburn, who has also been seeing things. They are about to leave the bathroom when the floor caves in and they wind up in the high school basement.

Back in England, Willow has a terrible vision of "the Earth's teeth"—the Hellmouth. She tells Giles, who has taught her that everything is connected, that not everything that is connected to the earth is good.

Dawn and Kit run into another student in the basement, Carlos Trejo, who says he saw a dead janitor. They are soon confronted by the three dead people. The dead people tell them that everyone dies in Sunnydale, and they will be no different. Dawn calls Buffy on her new cell phone. Buffy descends into the basement to help Dawn, only to run into the three dead people herself. After a brief conversation (the dead girl, for example, says that she "was ripped to death by a werewolf"), Buffy realizes that the three dead people are trying to prevent her from going through a certain door. Buffy makes it to the door on her second try. She opens the door, but instead of finding Dawn and the other two students, Buffy finds a deranged Spike.

Once Buffy and Spike are alone in this part of the basement, Buffy having locked the dead people out on the other side of the door, she realizes that not only is Spike in a poor mental state, he is in terrible physical condition as well. She asks him about a series of cuts on his chest, and he replies that he tried to "cut it out". Before their conversation can continue, Dawn calls Buffy again. In spite of Spike's mad rambling, he is able to tell Buffy that the dead students are not zombies or 'ghosts', but "manifest spirits controlled by a talisman, raised to seek vengeance."[1] Buffy tells Dawn to find a weapon because the spirits are corporeal, and then leaves Spike's presence once she realizes that he is in no shape to help her.

Buffy then calls Xander and tells him to seek and destroy the talisman. Buffy follows Dawn's screams to another room in the basement, where she finds Dawn has made a weapon from a purse filled with bricks. Dawn throws the weapon to Buffy, who then fights the spirits off as Xander wrestles with one in the bathroom after locating the talisman. Xander breaks it and the spirits disappear.

Back in the school proper, Buffy sends Dawn, Kit, and Carlos off to class with some words of advice. Principal Wood is impressed that Buffy is able to convince Kit and Carlos, the only two students with school records as long as Buffy's, to socialize and to go to class. He offers her a job working as a counselor at the school, and she gladly accepts.

Spike huddles in the school basement and tells an apparition of Warren Mears that he has prepared a speech to give Buffy, but she will not understand what he has to say. As Warren paces around Spike, he morphs successively into Glory, Adam, Mayor Wilkins, Drusilla and the Master - the previous villains of the series in reverse order. They all speak to Spike about a plan "to go back to the beginning," and finally, the Master morphs into Buffy, telling Spike that "it's not about right, not about wrong... it's about power."



The scenes set in Westbury were actually shot at Anthony Head's house in Somerset, England. He owns the horse seen in the episode, and it is named "Otto".[2]

Kali Rocha filmed all of her scenes for this season in one day, including those in "Selfless".


  • As Buffy accompanies Dawn to her high school, she warns her to stay away from "hyena people, lizardy-type athletes and invisible people" referencing the monsters Buffy encountered throughout her high school in season 1 and 2.
  • Willow says that her helpers in the coven look at her as though "I'm gonna turn them all into bangers and mash, or something." Bangers and mash is a traditional English dish, consisting of sausages (bangers) and mashed potatoes.[3]
  • As Buffy, Dawn and her friends are exiting the basement, Buffy comments that the school seems 'a bit smaller,' which is the same comment Willow and Xander make as they walk through the charred remains in season 4.
  • Halfrek says, "Do I have to mention Mrs. Czolgosz?"[3] A writer at the site says, "Czolgosz...assasinated [sic] President William McKinley at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition in September 1901. In 1900, Czolgosz, then 23, married Emma Wisemki, a 17-year-old German immigrant whom he had apparently gotten pregnant... Stephen Sondheim, of whom Joss Whedon is a big fan, wrote about this event in "The Ballad of Czolgosz" in his musical Assassins.[3]
  • Spike's in the basement of the newly refurbished Sunnydale High, The First appears before him as a host of former villains: Warren, Glory, Adam, the Mayor, Drusilla and Buffy's first big bad, the Master, and since it is able to appear as those who have died, its last manifestation is as Buffy herself.
  • This is the only time that Spike and the Master appear together, though the Master is only a manifestation of the First, and Spike and the Master never actually met onscreen. Spike and Mayor Wilkins have not met onscreen, either.
  • In season 6's DVD extras, the cast appeared on Academy of TV Arts and Sciences Panel Discussion. Here Michelle Trachtenberg said that she'd been begging Whedon to let her character wear black, seeing as she'd never been allowed to in order to keep her looking youthful and innocent. Dawn is seen wearing almost all black here on her first day of school.
  • Buffy gives Dawn, Kit, and Carlos advice after rescuing them from the basement: "School is intense, but you'll do all right as long as you're careful. And you might want to think about sticking together." Kit and Carlos do not, however, appear in later episodes, although Dawn is on the phone with Kit when the First begins causing chaos at the Summers house.

Arc significanceEdit

  • The First comments, in the guise of Buffy, that everything is about 'Power' (which is the theme of season seven[4]). This is a conclusion that Buffy herself comes to twice: once while facing Glory and then again in the series finale.
  • The First makes its first appearance since season 3, where it was seen tormenting the first vampire with a soul, Angel.
  • The First was able to come back to attempt the annihilation of the Slayer line through Buffy's resurrection, which was carried out at the beginning of the 6th season by Willow, Xander, Anya, and Tara.
  • While in the basement Spike talks to the First saying "I had a speech I learned it all." Spike professes this speech to Buffy in the next episode.

Pop culture allusionsEdit

  • Willow says to Giles that "you go all Dumbledore on me."
  • Dawn says, "Check out double-O Xander," referring to James Bond, code name 007.
  • When Xander teasingly asks Buffy how you "make" cereal, she says, "I saw it on The Food Channel."
  • As Dawn leaves Buffy in the High School, she references The Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man": "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."[1][5]
  • Dawn tells her teacher and class, "I'm very into Britney Spears' early work."
  • Principal Wood says, "Curiouser and curiouser." This is a reference to the 1865 Lewis Carroll book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Chapter Two begins with Alice exclaiming, "Curiouser and curiouser!"[3][6]


  1. ^ a b c d Whedon, Joss (September 24, 2002). "Buffy Episode #123: "Lessons" Transcript". BuffyWorld. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Head, Anthony (2002). "Interviews: Anthony Stewart Head: Horse power". BBC. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d "Lessons". BuffyGuide. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  4. ^ Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 DVD. Writer/Director Commentary for Lessons. 20th Century Fox. 2002-2003.
  5. ^ Ostow, Micol; Brezenoff, Steven (2003). The Quotable Buffy. New York: Simon Pulse. p. 112. ISBN 0743410173.
  6. ^ Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. MILLENNIUM FULCRUM EDITION 3.0.

External linksEdit