Synopsis by Brian J. Dillard
The seventh-season opener of Buffy the Vampire Slayer begins with a prologue in which an unknown young woman is chased and killed by unseen assailants, helping set the stage for an episode full of portents and foreshadowing. Back in Sunnydale, Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) are attacked by a newborn vamp during a training exercise; Dawn, it seems, is following in her big sister's demon-fighting footsteps. She's also following Buffy to the recently rebuilt Sunnydale High School. On the first day of classes, Dawn and some fellow students are attacked by the ghosts of a janitor and two students who haunt the decrepit catacombs beneath the school. Buffy saves the day with some help from Xander (Nicholas Brendon) and later receives a surprise offer from the new principal, Robin Wood (D.B. Woodside), to become a part-time guidance counselor. She agrees, but the biggest shock of her day is encountering Spike (James Marsters), who lurks, apparently insane, beneath the school. As for the recently deranged Willow (Alyson Hannigan), she's over in England being trained by Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) to harness her powers for good. Meanwhile, vengeance demon Halfrek (Kali Rocha) urges Anya (Emma Caulfield) to use her powers for evil if she wants to avoid annoying their demon masters. Halfrek also alludes to dark stirrings in the underworld; perhaps she's talking about the shape-shifting apparition who's tormenting poor, mad Spike by assuming the forms of each "big bad" villain from previous seasons: Warren (Adam Busch), Glory (Clare Kramer), Adam (George Hertzberg), Mayor Wilkins (Harry Groener), Drusilla (Juliet Landau), and the Master (Mark Metcalf). Taking the form of Buffy herself, the fiend promises Spike that "we're going right back to the beginning." Originally broadcast September 24, 2002, on the UPN network, "Lessons" marked episode 123 of the cult-favorite series. Although David Solomon was credited as the episode's director, series creator Joss Whedon helmed the scenes between Giles and Willow, which were filmed on location in England.