Buffy, Willow and Oz begin attending the University of California at its fictional Sunnydale campus.
The episode opens with Buffy and Willow taking a break from patrolling the cemetery to discuss which classes Buffy should take in her first semester. They are so engrossed with this that they don't notice when the vampire they are waiting to awaken quietly slips away when he sees they are carrying an arsenal of vampire killing gear.
The day before classes shows Buffy being handed flyers by the various campus groups, frats, and general student protesters. Buffy tells Willow and Oz that she feels overwhelmed by the new experience and disoriented. Willow, on the other hand, is very excited by the new surroundings, and Oz is not fazed and even seems to know several people that walk by.
Buffy and Willow tour the library. During the trip they reveal that Giles is now "a gentleman of leisure" (since the Sunnydale High School library has been destroyed) and that Xander left Sunnydale for the summer to go on a cross country trip.
Buffy and Willow go to the campus bookstore for supplies. When Buffy tries to get the "Intro to Psychology" texts, she knocks them off the shelf onto the head of Riley Finn. (This is Riley's first appearance in the series.) Riley introduces himself as a TA for Professor Walsh's Psych 105 "Intro to Psychology" class.
Buffy arrives at her new dorm room in Stevenson Hall. She has already moved in, and her new roommate Kathy is in the process of doing so. Kathy tells Buffy that she can tell that she is cool and thinks the upcoming year will be "super fun". As she says this to Buffy she hangs a poster of CÃ©line Dion, much to Buffy's chagrin. During the night Buffy has trouble sleeping because Kathy snores, laughs, and smacks her lips in her sleep.
The first day of classes, Buffy gets humiliated in front and ejected from a class by a professor when she tries to find out if there is still room to sign up for it. With Willow and Oz, she attends Psych 105 taught by Professor Maggie Walsh and her TA Riley Finn.
That night she meets another freshman student named Eddie; they are both lost. Buffy and Eddie discuss their need of a "security blanket" in their unfamiliar surroundings. Eddie tells Buffy that his security blanket is the novel Of Human Bondage, which he has read ten times and keeps by his bed. Buffy and Eddie then go separate ways and Eddie runs into a group of vampires. The vampires kill Eddie and turn him in to a fellow creature of the night. They also go to his dorm room, steal all of his belongings and leave a fake note supposedly signed by Eddie saying that he couldn't handle school and he had to leave.
The next day Buffy looks for Eddie in psych class but does not see him. She goes to his dorm room to find the note and empty room. She notices that the novel Of Human Bondage is still in his nightstand. She knows that he would not leave that behind and suspects something is wrong.
Buffy visits Giles to find a half-dressed female visitor at his flat and David Bowie's "Memory of a Free Festival" playing in the background. The woman is Olivia visiting Giles (whom she calls "Ripper"). Buffy tells Giles of the mysterious disappearance and Giles is reluctant to help. Buffy tries to remind him that he used to be her Watcher, but he responds by telling her that officially she no longer has a Watcher and that while he will always be there for her, he feels she is old enough and experienced enough to handle it herself.
That night, Buffy runs into Eddie in a deserted part of campus. Eddie tries to attack Buffy and she stakes him without trouble. The group of vampires that turned Eddie are watching, though, and the leader of the group, named Sunday, attacks Buffy. Buffy is soundly thrashed by Sunday while the others watch. Her confidence shattered and arm sprained, she runs.
Buffy is shaken by the fight and goes home the next day for some comfort from Mom and familiar surroundings. Joyce is surprised to see Buffy home so soon, and is using Buffy's room as storage space for her gallery.
When Buffy returns to her dorm room, she finds all of her belongings missing and a note similar to that found in Eddie's room. Buffy goes to the Bronze and mopes around, feeling even worse when she sees a man who reminds her of Angel. However she gets a pleasant and welcome surprise when she meets up with Xander. Xander reveals that his car broke down in Oxnard and his tour of America didn't happen. He spent a month and a half washing dishes at the fabulous "Ladies' Night" club earning money for repairs (which came to a merciful end when one of the male strippers fell sick, although Xander won't go any further with the story). Xander also says that he now lives in his parents' basement and pays them rent. Buffy tells Xander that she is overwhelmed by the new college experience and wonders if she can hack it. Xander pumps her up by telling her of course she can, and that she is his hero.
Buffy and Xander find the vampire lair, which is a condemned frat house. While Xander rounds up Willow and Oz, Buffy stays to watch the vampires, but is discovered and is forced to fight with her sore arm. When Sunday breaks the Class Protector award she was given at her senior prom, Buffy is angered enough to regain her confidence and soundly trounces the vampires, taking out Sunday with a backhand throw of a broken tennis racket. As Buffy and friends return to the dorm with her belongings, Giles appears, loaded with weapons. He apologizes to Buffy for his earlier dismissal of her and tells her that they can hunt the evil and fight it together. Buffy simply tells him it's cool, and the four walk away.
The episode ends with one of the vampires escaping Sunday's lair and being hit with a taser. Three masked men dressed in camouflage fatigues approach the vampire with guns of some sort. This is the first hint of the existence of the Initiative, which plays an important role in this season. This vampire is not seen again until episode seven of Season Four, "The Initiative."