"School Hard" starts with Buffy and Sheila in Principal Snyder's office. He has decided that his two nemeses will prepare the school lounge for parent-teacher night on Thursday. Whoever does the better job will not be expelled. Sheila's continued indifference puts even more pressure on Buffy, who already has a tough time balancing slaying with a social life. That night, a new pair of vampires arrive in town, Spike and Drusilla, who interrupt a gathering by the Anointed One to discuss The Master's departure. Spike promises to kill Buffy as he has killed two Slayers already. Drusilla is also quite ill, having being injured by an angry mob in Prague.
While the Scoobies are busy preparing for the parents, Giles and Jenny Calendar show up to inform Buffy that Saturday will be the Night of Saint Vigeous, named after the leader of a vampire crusade, and that during that night, the natural abilities of vampires will be enhanced. Buffy is unimpressed.
Buffy tries to combine school and social life by studying French at the Bronze. Spike is there, too, and sends one of his minions to attack someone, prompting Buffy to fight the minion. He watches while Buffy kills his minion. Spike applauds, then steps out of the shadows and tells her that he will kill her on Saturday. He later brings Sheila, who is enthralled by his bad boy charms, to the weak Drusilla as food.
Giles does not recognize Spike from Buffy's description. Angel walks in on the meeting and tells them that Spike is a large problem, and then leaves. Later, Giles finds a reference to Spike as "William the Bloody," and discovers that he has indeed killed two slayers already.
On Thursday night, the Scoobies are making weapons in the library while Buffy is preparing the buffet. She eventually fails to keep Snyder from her mother. Afterwards, a stern Joyce orders Buffy home just as Spike and the other vampires crash through the window, too impatient to wait for Saturday. In the ensuing fight, Buffy leads the adults to safety in the science room while Xander, Giles, and Ms. Calendar barricade themselves in the library. Willow and Cordelia hide in a utility closet. Xander is sent out to get Angel. Buffy takes command of the incredulous adults, tells them to stay put and climbs through the air ducts to reach the library and her weapons.
Xander returns to the school with Angel, who pretends to be his former evil self, Angelus. Though Spike first welcomes Angelus as a long-lost friend, he sees through the ruse and Xander and Angel are forced to flee but not before Xander hears Spike call Angelus his "sire" and "Yoda."
Buffy and Spike finally meet in the hall, and Buffy is almost bested when her mother shows up and hits Spike over the head with the flat of an axe. With the curse "Women!", he retreats. Joyce tells Buffy that she trusts Buffy to take care of herself, whatever Snyder may say.
Snyder tells the police chief to say that the trouble was caused by a gang on PCP. When the chief wonders if people will believe it, Snyder asks if the chief would rather that he tell the truth. Spike returns to the vampire lair, where the Anointed One demands penance for attacking too early. After starting to go through the motions, Spike simply throws the boy in a cage and pulls it into the sun, killing him. "From now on," he says, "there will be less ritual and more fun around here."