close up of Buffy at work


Title: Buffy S7.E01 “Lessons” + S7.E02 “Beneath You”
Released: 2002

Drinks Taken: 40
Vamps Dusted: 1


Follow the whole rewatch here!

Well. We made it through a tough few weeks as season six wound down. Xander literally saved the world by reminding evil Willow she still has people who love her left in the world; Buffy regained a new will to live after a season of depression; and, Spike got an unwanted gift back: his soul.

I have the honor of kicking off the seventh and final season, which, I gotta tell you, I remember very little of! I’m pretty confident none of our readers will say season seven is their favorite from what I’ve seen, but we can still use this space to find some quippy moments, feel some Scooby feels, and say a fond farewell to characters we’ve known and (mostly) loved for two decades now. On to the new season seven drinking rules! 

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season Seven Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Someone uses a cell phone
The First gets up to its tricks
You love Andrew in spite of himself
Someone goes down to the creepy Sunnydale High basement
It’s obvious Spike has a soul again
Principal Wood seems shady

Drink twice every time:

There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a callback to previous season shenanigans
You really miss Giles
A new Slayer shows up in Sunnydale
A new romance emerges (Who dates during the Apocalypse?)
Willow performs magic responsibly

It’s the beginning of the end! *sob* Make sure your drink is topped off, because there are a LOT of rules popping up this week.

A ghost stands behind Buffy examining a totem while they're in the school bathroom.

7.01 “Lessons”

Buffy has finally agreed to teach Dawn how to defend herself, so they’re hanging out in the cemetery practicing on newly turned vamps. Dawn’s picked up a few good fighting moves through osmosis, but she needs a brush up on her anatomy, as she completely misses the vamp’s heart and has to be rescued from a neck nibble. As they pack up their weapons, Buffy and Dawn commiserate about the fact that high school starts back up soon.

After she tried to destroy the world, Giles brought Willow with him back to England in order for her to learn magical control from the local coven.

Sorry, first though, we must take a quick pause to enjoy this pastoral imagery of Giles riding to find Willow as if he was part of some BBC mini-series where he’s a rugged English lord in want of a wife (why did this never happen, BBC??). Also fun fact: that is ASH’s real horse and land!

Giles tells Willow magic is no longer a “hobby or an addiction”, but a part of her she cannot remove. She questions why Giles “went all Dumbledore” on her instead of killing her or locking her away, and he asks if she really wants to be punished? What she wishes is to be Willow again, and I think we’re all in agreement there.

Halfrek meets up with Anya for coffee to warn her that the scuttlebutt around the demon dimension is that Anya is “Miss Soft Serve”. There’ve been no deaths, no eviscerations. (The horror!) Halfrek has also heard rumors of something evil on its way, and now is a bad time to be considered a ‘good’ guy. Anya scoffs and says if this was truly an intervention, all her demon friends would be there to warn her. Halfrek looks away as she sips her coffee and tells Anya plainly, “Sweetie. They are.”

A spiffied-up Xander stops by the Summers’ residence on Dawn’s “first day of high school” (I assume they mean AT Sunnydale High, because: no) so Buffy can examine the blueprints of the new Sunnydale High School that Xander’s construction company built. The principal’s office now sits where the old library—and the entrance to the Hellmouth—once stood, but Xander confirms there’s no secret passageways or pentagrams included. Buffy gives Dawn a first day of school gift that’s better than a fancy stake: a cell phone! Buffy has officially reached the modern age!

While dropping Dawn off, Buffy meets the hot and super-young new principal, Robin Wood, who is obviously hiding something. Is he evil? Does he know the town’s reputation? We’re not sure yet. She decides to wander the halls, alert for danger, and her fears are validated when Buffy encounters vaguely threatening zombie-ghosts in the girls’ bathroom. She bursts into Dawn’s class to warn her something evil is afoot and immediately ruins Dawn’s street cred. Dawn excuses herself to head to the bathroom to regroup after that extreme embarrassment, and she meets fellow student, Kit, trembling in a stall because she also saw zombies. Before they can escape, the bathroom floor rips apart and they tumble into the basement.

Dawn and Kit wander through the maze-like basement (seriously, who designed this thing?) and run into another outcast student, Carlos, who came down for a secret smoke. Dawn remembers her new cell and, for once, she’s the most in-the-know person in the group, so she casually calls her sister for a rescue.

Dawn and her two new friends we'll never see again scared in the school basement.

Dawn also takes a moment from being stalked by killer zombie-ghosts to tell Buffy about the amazing cell reception she gets in the basement!

Buffy gets Dawn’s call while she’s in the middle of being grilled by Principal Wood for being a weird adult wandering around unsupervised in a high school. In keeping with the theme of Buffy being unable to come up with credible excuses on the fly, she mumbles that her dog died and dashes off.

As Buffy searches the basement for Dawn while tussling here and there with the zombies, she runs into a bigger surprise: Spike is back! And…a little odd. He babbles, making about as much sense as Drusilla used to, and Buffy is shocked to see he’s slashed at his chest like he was trying to rip out his heart. She tells him she’ll come back to help him later once Dawn is safe. He conveniently-for-plot-purposes gives her the solution to her zombie problem: they were summoned by a talisman designed for revenge. She calls Xander on his cell (gosh these suckers are handy), and he sneaks into the bathroom to smash the talisman someone helpfully left out in plain view. While she waits, Buffy finds Dawn and uses Kit’s messenger bag filled with bricks to do some fun spinning fight choreo against the zombie-ghosts.

Back aboveground and safe, Buffy tells the trio—who are not Buffy/Willow/Xander stand-ins at ALL, no no—that high school is intense and they should probably stick together. Kit hugs her in thanks while Carlos tells her she’s the coolest mom ever, which dismays both Buffy and Dawn. Principal Wood witnesses the exchange and tells Buffy he’s impressed with her ability to connect with the school outcasts and offers her a job as…a cool younger person who the students can talk to (but NOT a guidance counselor because they already have one of those)? Quite a reach, writers.

The episode closes on Spike huddled in on himself as the First monologues about what’s to come. (We aren’t specifically told yet that it’s the First Evil, who last showed up in season three’s “Amends”, but…spoiler alert, it is.) It manifests using all the faces of the Big Bads of seasons yore, and it’s fun to see people like the Mayor and the Master again and see how far we’ve come.

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted


Giles For Life

Giles didn’t really get much screen time, but I’m just super happy to see him and will take whatever Giles snark I get:

Bloody Good Snark

Buffy: “So you’re the new principal. I expected you to be more aged.”
Wood: “Hah. You seem a bit young to have such a grown-up daughter.”
Buffy: “No, god, no! Sister.”
Wood: “Oh, right, of course.”
Buffy: “You didn’t really think she’s my… *she touches her pinned-up ponytail self-consciously* It’s my hair. I have mom hair!”

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

Spike’s obviously feeling too out-of-sorts to maintain his trademark platinum coiffe, so he’s getting his early 2000s Justin Timberlake on with these questionable two-toned ramen curls: 

Spike with bleached blonde curls looking like ramen on his head a la Justin Timberlake in the early 2000s


Robin Woods played by DB Woodside

When D.B. Woodside joined season seven as Principal Robin Wood he was pretty unknown in his career, but he’s since gone on to star in a number of other popular television series like 24Parenthood, and Lucifer. I am currently watching Lucifer and the man does not age; he’s certainly way buffer than he was as Robin Wood, but that’s about all that is different!

Spike drapping himself over a cross in a church.

7.02 “Beneath You”

At the start of the last episode, a woman in Istanbul runs from two robe-covered figures, who catch her and stab her in the stomach. In this episode’s opening moments, Buffy has a prophetic dream about another woman being chased in Germany by similarly robed figures. (She’s giving off very Run, Lola, Run and Sydney Bristow vibes, and now I just want to rewatch Alias.) The girl in the pink wig is stabbed by the same ceremonial blade, and before she dies she turns to the camera and whispers, “From beneath you, it devours.” This cryptic line is the First’s mission statement it has tacked onto its vision board, so get ready to hear it repeated ad nauseum. Dawn wakes Buffy from her “bad dream”, but Buffy is still unsettled as her Spidey sense is telling her more girls out there are in danger.

After having her own prophetic vision about the Hellmouth coming back “with teeth”, Willow realizes it’s time to return to Sunnydale, face her friends, and test out her self-control, but, natch, she’s terrified. Giles offers a nice mentorly pep talk and tells her she’ll never believe in herself until she gets back to the real world (but more on that in next week’s episode!).

Buffy starts her first day as a counselor at Sunnydale High, and I gotta admit I’m enjoying all the references to previous high school shenanigans (drink when she makes a Principal Flutie joke after Wood says the students will eat her alive if she tries to be their “friend”). This scene is really just here to keep you questioning Wood’s motives, as we don’t really get into Buffy’s counseling role until later.

The main plot comes in the form of a Sluggoth demon (basically a giant tunneling worm-creature) that is stalking a woman named Nancy. She runs into Xander after her dog gets eaten right through the pavement, and he brings her to Buffy’s. Dawn suggests they round up the Gang, except…the three of them. They’re it. But hold up, Spike shows up unexpectedly, and Buffy says what we’re all thinking: “You’ve changed. New clothing, better hair. Not so much with the crazy. Now what do you want?” He offers his help and endures everyone’s skepticism and vitriol, and Buffy gets her own share of being yelled at by Dawn and Xander because she saw him in the basement and didn’t tell them. Nancy is a trooper getting thrown into this drama!

Xander takes Nancy home, and they dance around each other for a few minutes until she bluntly asks him out (drink!). But before numbers can be exchanged, they get attacked by the Sluggoth, and Xander remarks that it’s odd the demon is targeting her specifically. She tells him ugh, it’s acting just like her abusive and stalkery ex-boyfriend…which triggers warning bells for Xander.

Xander and Nancy narrowly escaping death.

Unfortunately for Xander, this relationship can’t survive TWO crazy exes.

Everyone meets up at the Bronze, where they find Anya’s set up shop. Xander demands Anya reverse the spell, and Nancy, proving too observant, asks some sticky questions about the tangled web of relationships between Buffy, Xander, Spike, and Anya, which causes everything to devolve into a shouting (and punching) match. Nancy, rightly so, says “eff this noise” and slips away, but, as no one has solved her ex-boyfriend’s-been-turned-into-a-deadly-demon issue yet, she is quickly attacked again.

Buffy and Spike stop fighting long enough to give chase. Spike slams a piece of pipe through the Sluggoth open maw just as Xander persuades Anya to reverse the spell, which means he suddenly ends up injuring the now human again ex. The immediate guilt causes him to lose his grip on his sanity, so Spike runs off.

Buffy follows him to a church, and, after trying to piece together his half-naked ramblings—“Angel… he should’ve warned me. He makes a good show of forgetting, but it’s here, in me, all the time. The spark.”—it slowly dawns on her that he has his soul back. She is stunned and, I think, slightly horrified and maybe a little sympathetic? Spike rambles about how he did it for her—though, like, tad disingenuous to say, since that’s not EXACTLY the outcome he intended for his little sojourn to the desert (I wrote this before the discussion in the comments of last week’s rewatch, and IMO, Spike left to get the chip out of his head, not get his soul back. YMMV.). The depiction of him draped over the cross as his skin burns is quite powerful. Most of this episode is fairly forgettable, but that image of him has stayed in my head for more than a decade.

Anyone else have to put on closed captions to make heads or tails of Spike’s ramblings?

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted


New Dawn Rising

I’m a few episodes ahead, and I gotta say I’m enjoying this new season seven Dawn. She hasn’t screeched in ages! Here and in “Lessons”, we see a new-found maturity in Dawn (which may also partly be due to the fact that Buffy has hardly anyone else to rely on). She’s being trained in defense, she helps out with research, and, in the exchange below, we finally start to see some of that Summers’ spunk and steel shining from within her. (If anyone has watched Michelle Trachtenburg in Gossip Girl, you know she can play “stone-cold evil badass” with panache.)

The Truest Thing Anybody Said This Week

Buffy: “Okay, we’re gonna split, two pairs. Whatever this creature is it’s burrowing through solid ground. That means a strength and power that we don’t usually deal with, but we may have to get used to now that the Hellmouth is getting all perky.”
Nancy: “Shouldn’t we call the police or something?”
Xander: “And tell them…?”
Nancy: “I’ll stop interrupting.”

Anya’s reaction to Nancy’s dog is my reaction while watching violent movies. A person dies, whatever. But kill a defenseless widdle doggie???

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

Spike wearing a super tight bright blue shirt with three-quarter sleeves.

While I am enjoying the bold blue color (quite the change from Spike’s typical black-on-black ensembles), the tight stretchiness of this shirt combined with the three-quarter sleeves gives it the appearance of a shrunken ladies’ blouse he randomly found lying about (ooh, maybe in the school’s lost and found before he slipped out of the basement! Imma go with that head canon).

Love Quadrangle

After learning that Buffy and Spike are exes, Anya and Xander are exes, and Anya and Spike had a one night stand, Nancy exasperatedly asks, “Is there anyone here who hasn’t slept together?” Spike and Xander look at each other and shudder, and I laugh.

What did you guys think of this improved Dawn and Spike’s splintered psyche? Did you have any theories about Principal Wood when this first aired? While these weren’t the most…exciting episodes of the show, I kind of like that we took a little time to let all the consequences of last season play out. One thing I dislike—that feels like the writers just sat around getting high off their own cleverness—is the First’s constant pontificating, which bleeds over into Spike’s drawn-out rambles (and, later on, Caleb’s yammering too). First Evil? More like First to Put Everyone to Sleep From Boredom.

Meet back here next Wednesday for Sarah’s take on Willow’s return to Sunnydale in “Same Time, Same Place” and Buffy leaning into her new counseling role during “Help”.

Stephanie (she/her) is an avid reader who moonlights at a college and calls Orlando home. Stephanie loves watching television, reading DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.