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Discussion of 7.01 "Lessons" - Aired 9/24/02 (UPN-US)

Buffy Summers

Yataro
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Sineya
#1
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.
Source: TV.com

Discuss this episode here!
 
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#2
I love the ending of this - seeing The First as all the big bads of the seasons - my personal highlight was Glory! I miss her!! Haaa also love when it switched to Buffy right at the end before fade out - 'it's about power' which echoes the line used by Buffy to Dawn at the beginning of the episode! And we are back in Sunnydale high :)
 
PassionBecoming
PassionBecoming
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AnthonyCordova
AnthonyCordova
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Black Thorn
#3
I do like that this final season is going back to were the show started. There were some great highlights in the episode, Willow's Harry Potter comment to Giles at the start of the episode, Dawn getting embarrassed when Buffy burst into her classroom, Anya's new hair color.

I also liked that the action started as soon as they get to the school. Those zombie creatures were very jumpy.

I thought it was a great opening to the season.
 
AnthonyCordova
AnthonyCordova
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Jules

Bite Me
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Black Thorn
#4
I've just listened to the commentary by Joss Whedon and David Solomon.

The opening scene is ironic because it goes against everything Joss had created Buffy for; the scared girl getting killed by the monsters.

They actually went to England (Bath), to shoot the Willow/Giles scenes. It rained loads (welcome to my world :)) and Alyson was freezing there. The house in England is Tony's house. They cut a scene with Giles/Willow at the house were Willow says to Giles ''Your going to make me leave, arent you?''

The end scene were all the villains appear as the First is to confirm that this is the final season for TV.
 

PassionBecoming

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Sineya
#5
Thus begins the end of my Buffy rewatch. I actually have been putting off starting S7...it annoys me. I think I've only rewatched it once since it aired. We'll see if I like it more this time!

-Is it just me or have the graphics on the DVD stuff gotten sucky since S5?? The pictures on the box aren't that great, either.
-Well, that was graphic for a season opener.
-I like Buffy's hair. Love the "Excuse me, I'm stuck" in the middle of Buffy's rant about how powerful vampires are. Heehee. It's nice to see Buffy making sure Dawn can somewhat take care of herself. Though I've always pondered how easily all these non-slayers can stick a stake through a vampire's chest. It's not so easy to penetrate someone's rib cage...
-"On the very ground it first stood upon..." Doh!
-Giles and the funny jacket while horseback riding. Not sure why, but it makes me giggle.
-The flower graphics. *grimace*. Nice to see Giles and Willow friendly again, though. And Willow a lot less arrogant. And her hair is a most unnatural shade of red.
-Xander in a suit. Excellent.
-I still have a hard time grasping the fact that the Scoobies are at most 22-ish years old.
-"I have mom hair." Heehee. I keep thinking that nowadays they would NEVER let some random chick be roaming the halls of a highschool.
-Ugh, startled!! And weird seeing Buffy cowering.
-And ugh, Buffy. Really? Bursting into her classroom? *facepalm*
-Anya's outfit in the coffee shop is AWFUL.
-The pencil! Icky!!!
-Principal Wood is kind of sinister sounding.
-Why would the school board care so much about Buffy?? Though maybe they knew she blew up the old school...
-Those zombies are kinda butt heads. Buffy saved a whole butt-ton of people!
-Spike! And the creepy giggle....followed by all kinds of crazy...
-I love Buffy's fight scene with the brick bag!!
-Would they really be able to hire Buffy to counsel students when she has no college degree whatsoever?
-Love the Bible references. :)
-That last shot of Buffy "It's about power" is just creepy, especially given that Dark Willow said the same thing.
-I remember after I watched this ep, I ran down into the kitchen and started babbling at my mom about how the Big Bad this season could turn into all of Buffy's worst enemies over the years. I'm sure she had no idea what I was talking about, but she listened and did the smile and nod thing.
 
Wesley Pryce
Wesley Pryce
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AnthonyCordova
AnthonyCordova
your post is great. brick bag buffy fight was great!
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#6
I really like Spike's hair!
I thought the character switching at the end was great. It was nice to see Dru and Glory again. Not so much Adam (Worst villain ever!)
 
AnthonyCordova
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AnthonyCordova

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Sineya
#7
This is going to be really interesting! The return of Sunnydale High, the development of the relationship between Dawn and Buffy (Buffy's taking her out now on patrol and training her to be able to defend herself), Willow spending time in England with Giles to recover (I hope this means Willow is back to being something resembling her old self again, as interesting as her 'evil turn' might have been at times), Spike with a soul, (He already seems very different; he is obviously suffering now and he seems a little mental too) and of course the very end with the introduction of a new and intriguing (and intimidating) villain/force. It is setting up to be a pretty good season already!
 

Wild At Heart

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#8
Oh my goddess lol I love the scenes with Willow & Giles in England. It's so beautiful there & I missed them having a close relationship like before because we really hadn't seen that for a while in the show because of Willow's use of magic. Poor Willow though having such insane panic attacks. Those don't look fun. I have to admit I cried a little when she said "I wanna be Willow."

Also, like someone else said, I love Spike's hair. I actually prefer it this way. It's way sexy. I was feeling really sad when Buffy pulled back his shirt & saw where he "tried to cut it out." Poor Spike.

I don't really care for Principal Wood. He just irks me for some reason & is kinda boring.

I loved the scene with Halfrek & Anya. Anya is trying not to kill anyone because she knows what will happen if she does. Her friends will become her enemies & now she's feeling the pressure. I can't wait til she gives up the vengeance gig again but I love these two's scenes together.
 
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Black Thorn
#9
What a fantastic Season opener! I said earlier that I enjoyed Season 6 more than I remember but I was still excited to see this much more classic style Buffy return. The High School is back and as menacing as ever! I thought the ghost zombies were a really good MOTW. They managed to pull off being intimidating and a little sympathetic. Buffy is fantastic. She looks great, she's funny and she's kicking all sorts of ass. A good episode for Dawn as well who shows a lot of admirable qualities. Xander is doing well for himself and is on the ball. Giles and Willow have a nice chat as well. All is good :)
 
I was going to add a couple of other bits. Firstly it's a strong start for Robin Wood. He's introduced as cool, mysterious and just a little suspect. Also the very first scene provides a great endorsement for the finale. A young girl is chased down an alley, pushed off a roof and then gutted with a knife. A feat which is much easier to accomplish when the girl in question doesn't have slayer strength.
 

cryptwarmer

I'm in charge of morale!
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Black Thorn
#10
I think it was a strong season opener. it was very effective in showing up how and how much the characters had moved on from end S6. I didn't love the episode because of my own personal preferences, but I think it was very well done.

I think Dawn looked stunning in this episode and her behavior was so stable and normal for a girl her age...finally. Buffy looked great. Robin Wood is the perfect balance of nice guy, creep, mystery man.

I HATE the scenes of the potentials getting chased and knifed. I fast forward through them.

I want Spike in my basement. Read into that whatever you wish...
 
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#12
Watched this again a few days ago and thought I'd just say what a fantastic season opener it was. It had everything, humour, pathos, fights and a brilliant surprise ending, perhaps the best ending of any episode ever. Seeing all the big bads together was great television. Plus one of the funniest lines ever;

Buffy - Spike? Are you real? Spike . . .

Spike - Buffy . . . duck

Buffy - What? What duck? There's a duck?

SMG's delivery makes me laugh every time :)
 

white avenger

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#13
I don't really care for Principal Wood. He just irks me for some reason & is kinda boring.
I thought at first that Wood was a rather intriguing character, but he was just misused. He would have been much better as a villain His back history wouldn't have had to be changed all that much, just make him the son of a Slayer killed in the line of duty, obsessed with seeking revenge om both the vampire who killed her, and the Watchers, who sent her out alone to fight against overwhelming odds. He could have formed an alliance with the Caleb in order to punish his mother's killers, without ever knowing about the existence of the First Evil or its plans.
 

Give Us A Kiss

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#14
This is the final season of Buffy :eek:

Istanbul, what's going on ??? o_O

Dawn is learning how to stake vamps, finally :D

Dawn, it will take time...

Sunnydale high :eek:

The horse Giles is riding passed away last year, I remember thinking that ASH himself died for a moment there until I was done reading ... :(

Giles looks a bit older here than he did before...

Willow, you can get better :)

Buffy, Dawn will be fine...

The hellmouth is below the principal's office :eek:

Does lizardy type people include people who are rumored to be lizards like The Queen ??? o_O

Not much different from the old high school, except that the lockers are different...

That was creepy :eek:

Dawn, I get it, I didn't like introducing myself to the class either...

Anya has brown hair :eek:

Bad time to be a good guy ??? o_O

Dawn :eek:

Something's messing with Dawn's mind, poor Dawn :(

It's not just Dawn after all...

Dawn's making some new friends...

Poor Willow :(

Dawn has a cellphone :D

Wood is confused, I would be confused too...

They are blaming Buffy for things Oz did as a werewolf o_O

Spike :eek:

I love Spike's laugh :)

Spike has been cutting himself, not good...

Poor everyone :(

Yay to Xander :D

Buffy doesn't look like a mom...

Buffy, it's a better job than DMP, take it.

The First Evil :eek:

Next time: Spike tells Buffy he has a soul...
 

Out for a walk

5 Words Or Less...
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#15
Cell Phones! I tell you I always thought it would be so different if BTVS first started in the late 2000's instead of the late 90's. (Willow could have texted Buffy about Angel getting his soul back ;))
 
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#16
This is a great episode, with so much going on. We're going back to the beginning. 'It's not about right and it's not about wrong, it's about Power'. I like this directness, it's a new apporach and its good to see the show can still change dirertion and try new things even in its last season.

From the international opening scenes, we come back to the domestic, with Xander in a suit and tie, looking mature and in control, making up the family unit with Buffy and Dawn. I can understand from this one scene why people thought Bander could be an option for season 7. It is Xander that points out the Hellmouth is now below the new principals office, and it's Xander that breaks the talisman and defeats the ghosts, but it does seem that Season 7, like 6, is already mainly focused on the women.

Buffy and Dawn are so cute together, with Buffy teaching Dawn to fight, carrying on from the promises of season 6. Dawn echoing Buffy's past, when she was first learning how to fight, and dealing with all sorts of badness at the high school, the worst being when a ghost stabs her in the eye with a pencil which was very creepy. She even makes two new friends and they appear to be a proto-scooby grang.

Now Buffy has accepted herself fully as the slayer she understands she cannot protect everyone. When the ghosts blame her for their deaths, she does not feel guilty, she accepts she can only do her best and she cannot save everyone. This is a real maturing of her character, and it seems like she has come to terms with her power.

Unlike Willow, who has obviously not got her power under control and has a panic attack, but it's Willow that tells us the 'Hellmouth is going to swallow us all', there's no slow build up, we're right into the big badness from episode one. Anya is another one who isn't dealing well with her powers, as Halfrek criticises her for not being vengeful enough.

Buffy finds Spike down in the basement, and asks 'Are you real?' when she's previously told Dawn 'It's always real'. It seems with Spike, Buffy forgets her own rules. Spike has been self-harming, and is rambling, but he is lucid enough to tell Buffy who the ghosts are and that they are controlled by a talisman.

We meet Robin Wood the new principal and I like how we're not sure if he's a good guy or now. There is tension between him and Buffy as they talk. It's good that he offers her a job because none of us want to see her still working at the DMP

The end of the episode has to be one of the best endings of the whole show, with virtually every big bad making an appearance. That final scene still packs a punch and promises a great season.
 

Fool for Buffy

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Sineya
#17
The end of the episode has to be one of the best endings of the whole show, with virtually every big bad making an appearance. That final scene still packs a punch and promises a great season.
I love this part, it's dramatic and promising as you said and I like how you should understand it's the first but many people wouldn't. But, even though I agree it's one of the best endings to any episode of the series, it's not as good as the ending of the next episode. The church scene is just too fantastic.
 
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Sineya
#18
Some great scenes here - the ghost janitor yelling, "Get out! Get out! Get out!" mirroring Dawn. Potentials (although we do not know who they are yet) being slaughtered in Europe by blind Bringers.

Hallie and Anya are conversing:

ANYA
(bitterly)
So, is this an intervention?
Shouldn't all my demon friends be
here?

Halfrek looks away, coffee to her lips --

HALLIE
Sweetie, they are.

And we have crazy Spike with the setup for the next episode (Beneath You), a brilliant piece of writing where separate people come in and he speaks to both of them at separate times but with one monologue.
 
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#19
Potentials (although we do not know who they are yet) being slaughtered in Europe by blind Bringers.
Here's the thing. All the potentials that are left get sent to Buffy's house so she can help protect them, yet when the scythe powers are activated in Chosen, we see other potentials around the world being activated. Shouldn't they have been targets too?
 

EarthLogic

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Black Thorn
#20
I've been meaning to post my thoughts as I rewatch S7 but it's taken me a long time to get round to it. But voila! I have begun!

'Lessons' is a great opener - one of the strongest across both BtVS and AtS and it doesn't waste any time throwing us right in. The opening chase is a deliberate callback to the show's original premise but establishes much higher stakes by making the scale of the threat a global one and of course, by reversing the outcome: this time the girl can't fight back and doesn't survive. It's a chillingly effective set up for the season's Big Bads as misogyny and patriarchy. The hooded figures are more ambiguous than the concrete demons of season 1: with their homogeneity (identical black robes, shadowed faces) they represent a threatening patriarchy in its unseen yet pervasive form. We then cut to Buffy in a cemetery, teaching Dawn to slay. 'It's about power', she says over the cut, bridging the two scenes and giving us a big, fat, bell-ringing clue as to this season's theme. (It's great, though the more the word comes up, especially with the 'who's got the power' convo, I can't help thinking this:

But that's just my brain being strange...)

Anyway it's also a nice echo Buffy's first vampire slaying from 'Becoming part 1' where Merrick tells her 'You see your power?'. The difference is that this time its not a stuffy bloke from an archaic institution throwing a young girl into her 'destiny', it's an experienced Slayer teaching her sister how to fight, 'cause that's the world they live in. It's about sharing her power. Crucially, Buffy eventually beheads the vamp with a sword rather than staking him, thus foreshadowing the emergence of the ubervamps.

The Willow/Giles scenes were great. They're some of the most beautiful moments between these two - all set against the rolling hills of the English countryside. Yay for greenery! :) Visually it also ties in nicely to the 'fresh new beginnings' feel of this season opener. There's a fairly decent recovery of the failed magic/drugs metaphor when Giles says 'This isn't a hobby or an addiction. It's inside you now, this magic. You're responsible for it'. I take it as an acknowledgement of what her S6 arc should have been about - power. I love Giles here, especially when he rides in on that horse like a pro - a wise and sexily duster-clad pro, so I'm not looking forward to what becomes of him later in the season.

I love the nostalgic return to high school MotW horror. I've always felt the series' handling of horror tropes and themes was one of it's strongest aspects because there was almost always an element of playing them straight even as they undercut them and it's refreshing to get that back even a little. Accordingly, Dawn and her new friends have an obvious Scooby Gang: The Next Generation vibe. I can't remember if we do get to see more of them over the season, but it would be a shame if not.

The actual plot is rather weak - the talisman is just there, no word of how it got there or why - but I suspect that's intentional. High school's not any more and Buffy's seen it all. She's older, wiser, stronger and just as the place feels 'smaller', the scaries are not so scary. I like how she deals with them in a matter-of-fact way. Again it shows how far she's come, accepting that she can't save everyone. However, it's also the first sight of practical General Buffy, and this unsympathetic side of her will return in a not-so-refreshing way later. For now though the spooks are mainly a device to bring Buffy into the basement (basements will be a recurring feature from now on) where she will encounter Justin Timberlake Spike. Of course he's gone round the twist and Buffy is naturally unsure of what to make of him. Thankfully she remains focused on the task at hand, which is saving Dawn and we postpone the Big Soul Reveal for later.

The best part of the episode by far is the return of the Big Bads. The First actually seems like a viable threat here with its fabulous split monologue, and the indication that this season is the last could not be any clearer (NOOOOO!). We're missing Angelus because the network would never have let him come, so Dru takes his place as the S2 Big Bad representative. But really, he should have been there since we are on a Hellmouth and out of all of them he probably came the closest to destroying the world. I also think the last bit of The Master's line would have suited him perfectly (though it would require a rejig of the monologue to work): 'Look at you. Tried to do what's right. Just like her, you still don't get it. It's not about right. It's not about wrong.' It reminds me of : ''You really don't get it. Do you? You tried to kill her, but you couldn't. Look at you. You're a wreck!" (Innocence) and "You never learn, do you? This wasn't about you...And you fall for it every single time" (Becoming Part 1). Nevertheless, the Master is fab!

The only weak-ish part for me was the Buffy/Spike interaction. Not the fact of Spike's actual return, but just that they saw each other in this very first episode. I was just getting into the basement horror vibe and I feel their scene disrupts it because then my mind turns to 'ooh what'll happen between Buffy and Spike now?' I felt pulled out of the moment, especially since their interaction doesn't serve much more purpose than for her to know he's there behaving strangely and for him to provide the clue to quickly resolving our Plot A basement-ghoulie problem (though the 'talisman' mention also foreshadows the 'Seal',). I think it would have worked better if they had staggered Spike's return/reveal similar to how they did Angel's. He could have returned in Ep 1, but only known to the viewer, in Ep 2 we'd have had Buffy come across him in the basement, then Ep 3 would have been 'Beneath You'. It's probably a sign of how much they're going to try and fit into this final season.