Istanbul: A dark-haired girl is running through the arched hallway, looking over her shoulder and panting from the exertion of running so fast. She slips down an embankment. She's being chased. A man on the street sees her through his front door, and closes it rather than help her. Two people in hooded cloaks are chasing her. After trying various alleys looking for an escape route, she finds herself trapped in a dead-end. She sees a drain pipe next to her and tries to use it to scale the building. The people chasing her grab her foot, but she manages to escape their grip and easily climbs up to the roof. There, another hooded figure is waiting and pushes her off the building. She screams, but she lands on the ground alive, on her back. Two hooded figures hold her down, and she fights back with all her might. A third figure raises an arched, shiny, silver dagger and stabs her.
Buffy is in Sunnydale training her sister on how to fight vampires. She instructs Dawn that fighting and slaying are about power. They discuss the fact that Sunnydale High has just reopened. Meanwhile, Willow is studying with Giles in Westbury, England. She studies magic and meditation with a coven of Wiccans that Giles knows. She is learning control, but feels frightened and distraught because she "killed people".
Xander is working construction at the new high school which Dawn is to attend. He notes that the principal's office is right over the Hellmouth. Buffy follows Dawn into the school where she meets Principal Robin Wood. She goes into a bathroom, where she finds a mysterious talisman. Upon seeing the talisman, she sees a dead girl who threatens her. She says Buffy was unable to protect her, and that she will not be able to protect Dawn either.
Anya is still in the vengeance business, and is drinking coffee with her fellow vengeance demon Halfrek. "Hallie" tells Anya that the other demons are noticing a lack of quality in her work, and that "something big is coming".
Buffy tries to warn Dawn, but winds up only embarrassing her. Dawn then sees a similar dead student. She hurries to the bathroom where she meets Kit Holbum, who has also been seeing things. They are about to leave the bathroom when the floor caves in and they wind up in the high school basement. Willow, back in England, has felt a disturbance in the force and had a vision. She saw "the earth's teeth" -- the Hellmouth. She tells Giles, who has taught her that everything is connected, that not everything that is connected to the earth is good.
Dawn and Kit run into another student in the basement, Carlos Trejo, who says he saw a dead janitor. They are soon confronted by the three dead people. The dead people tell them that everyone dies at Sunnydale, and they will be no different. Dawn calls Buffy on her new cell phone. Buffy descends into the basement to help Dawn, but cannot find her. Instead, she finds a deranged Spike holed up in a small room.
He has scratches around his heart which he explains as attempts to "cut it out". He is rambling incoherently, but tells Buffy that the dead students are not zombies or ghosts, but "manifest spirits" raised by a talisman. Buffy calls Xander, telling him to find and destroy the talisman. She then hears Dawn screaming, and runs to her rescue. She fights the spirits off as Xander wrestles with one to destroy the talisman. Xander breaks the talisman and the spirits disappear.
Buffy then sends Dawn, Kit, and Carlos off to class. Principal Wood is impressed that Buffy was able to convince Kit and Carlos to socialize and go to class (Saying that they are the only two students with school records as large as Buffy's had been). He offers her a job working as a counselor at the school, and she gladly accepts. She wants to be able to keep an eye on her sister, the school, the Hellmouth, and the new principal.
Spike is now huddled in a corner in his basement room. He says that he had a speech to Buffy prepared, but she would not understand. Warren Mears is seen pacing around him. He begins to give a speech about how great he is. He turns into Glory, Adam, Mayor Wilkins, Drusilla, and then the Master - i.e. the previous major villains of the series in reverse order. These each speak to Spike about a plan to go "back to the beginning". The Master says, "It's not about right. It's not about wrong." Then he transforms into Buffy and tells Spike, "it's about power", the same thing Buffy had said to Dawn.