Guest Starring: 
 Anthony Stewart Head: 
 Kali Rocha: 
 DB Woodside: 
 (Robin Wood) 
 Mark Metcalf: 
 (The Master) 
 Juliet Landau: 
 Harry Groener: 
 (Mayor Richard Wilkins) 
 George Hertzberg: 
 Clare Kramer: 
 Adam Busch: 
 (Warren Mears) 
  1. Lessons.  
  Dawn starts school at Sunnydale high; Buffy is paranoid that something evil is going to get her.  
  Great quotes:  
Robin Wood.
  • Buffy: “It’s about power.”
  • Buffy: “You’re a little girl.” Dawn: “Woman.” Buffy: “Little woman.” Dawn: “I’m taller than you!”
  • Willow to Giles: “... you go all ‘Dumbledore’ on me.”
  • Dawn is frustrated by Buffy’s endless warnings: “I know! You never know what’s coming; the stake is not the power; ‘To serve man’ is a cookbook. Now go away!”
  • Xander: “Does the place [Sunnydale high] pass inspection?” Buffy: “Well yeah, if you’re a zombie ghost thing.”
  • Dawn is on her mobile phone: “Isn’t this reception amazing? I’m in the frigging basement!”
  • The First (as the mayor Richard Wilkins): “A soul is as slippery as a greased weasel, why d’ya think I sold mine?”
  Fantastic moments:  
  • The opening scene between Dawn and Buffy is wonderfully tongue-in-cheek. As Buffy teaches her sister to fight a somewhat surprised vampire, Dawn asks why vampires always seem to “... pick up...” kung fu skills even if they had none in life. Buffy then tells her that “... what is to come...” is far worse than this; cut to the re-opening of Sunnydale high!
  • I did enjoy all those shots of England’s green and pleasant land.
  • Spike’s new haircut and James Master’s performance – even if it is only very brief – as the now-insane vampire are both worthy of note.
  • The introduction of D B Woodside as principal Robin Wood was a piece of quality casting. His effortless aura of mystery and charm will turn his character into a brooding and ambiguous force by the middle of the season.
  • At the end of the episode Spike sees apparitions of each of the ‘big bad’ characters from the last 6 seasons, a seventh apparition – Buffy – then reprises the vampire slayer’s message to Dawn in the opening scene. Apart from the obvious fan-boyish over-excitement of seeing lots of old characters, this scene forms a mysterious bookend to the episode that poses several questions about just is going on in that basement and inside Spike’s head.
  Duff Bits:  
  • All the waffle that Giles and Willow go on about while talking in England is hackneyed and annoying. Don’t the producers remember the speech they gave to Willow about the stupidity of ‘blah blah Gaia’ Earth-mother types when she was at university?
  • Where does Buffy put her mobile phone after using it when talking to Principal Wood at the school? She appears to put it in a back pocket which isn’t visible when the camera swings behind her. Checking out this blooper will require you to pause your DVD and check out Sarah Michelle Gellar’s arse, the sacrifices I make for these reviews...
  • So many plot holes in the zombie-ghosts arc that it’s worth letting you work them out for yourself. To get you started, who put that voodoo-like charm in the Sunnydale high bathroom?
  Dean's comments:  
Giles helps Willow to recover from her slight case of 'evil'.
Apparently this is ‘Buffy the vampire slayer’; well it certainly isn’t like anything fans of the series had become used to over the previous seasons. Instead of the vaguely comic opening episode that hints at themes and sets new scenery for the coming season we have a girl being hunted down and murdered in Istanbul, the beginning of a full-on mystery that is set to last the whole year. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that of course, trying out new ideas and taking the characters and plots in new directions has always been what BtVS was about. Now Buffy and Xander are the parental figures, Dawn behaves in much the same way as her older sister did way back in season 1. The plot rumbles along lighting the touch-paper for what is sure to be a flash-bang season, all well and good. The problem is that ‘Lessons’, as a self-contained episode of BtVS, is very weak. A basic zombie thriller that has no explanation or coherent conclusion, a lot of waffley new-age stuff about Gaia and Earth mothers from Giles and a criminal under-use of Xander and Willow; ‘Lessons’ only makes any sense in the context of the rest of the season. This is a deficiency that detracts from the enjoyment of the episode.
Home, next review.