B321- Graduation Day, Part One

Written by: Joss Whedon
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Stewart Head, David Boreanaz, Charisma Carpenter, Seth Green, Kristine Sutherland, Harry Groener, Alexis Denisof, Merceds McNab, Ethan Erickson, Emma Caulfield, Eliza Dushku & Armin Shimerman.

As Graduation Day approaches, Sunnydale High enjoys a mellow love fest as former enemies exchange pleasantries. Buffy has not caught the spirit, however, and others have their own concerns, too. Cordelia is worried about the color of the gown while Xander fears for his life. He then learns that the Mayor will be the commencement speaker, meaning that the Mayor is not only going to ascend on Graduation Day, but at the ceremony itself. Faith kills Professor Worth for the Mayor.

Anya tries to entice Xander into another date, but is stunned when she finds out about the upcoming Ascension. Xander brings her to the library, where she tells of an Ascension she witnessed 800 years before. A sorcerer had decimated an entire village within hours; only a few people escaped. The destructiveness of an Ascended demon stems from its lack of any human characteristic. The Mayor seems to be heading towards a different breed from the sorcerer’s, however, and Anya is unable to help further.

At that moment, the Mayor enters the library. He tells Buffy he will eat her, and Giles plunges a fencing epee into his chest. Wilkins shrugs it off with an indignant expression, promising “one heck of a speech.”

Anya tries to convince Xander to skip town with her, but he has friends on the line. Buffy convinces her mom to leave, while Oz releases Willow’s tensions by making love to her.

Searching Professor Worth’s apartment, Buffy runs into Angel. It is their first encounter after the Prom. They begin arguing in the street when Faith shoots Angel in the back with an arrow, deliberately missing the heart. Angel tries to get up, but collapses into Buffy’s arms.

Wesley tells Giles that the professor found a large demon carcass buried in a lava bed. Professor Worth thought it was an unknown dinosaur, but the Mayor evidently thought it safer to silence him anyway. Wilkins is impervious to harm only until the Ascension.

Buffy brings Angel to the library, where Giles helps remove the arrow. It was clearly poisoned and Wesley offers to ask the Watcher’s Council for help. Buffy thanks him, and Willow’s afterglow is cut short by Buffy’s call for help. Wesley returns to tell Buffy that the Council refused to help a vampire. He explains that the laws are older than civilization, and Buffy must follow the Council’s orders and ignore the distraction. Buffy quits the Council.

The Mayor prepares for the Ascension by eating the giant beetles in the Box of Gavrok as Faith takes a break from her murders.

Oz tells the gang that vampires can only survive the poison by draining the blood of a Slayer. Xander has doubts about its consequences for Buffy as she leaves with Faith’s dagger, intent on killing Faith before feeding her to Angel. Willow finds Faith’s apartment, paid for by taxpayers, and Buffy arrives after Faith had a workout. After an impressive but brutal battle, she eventually manages to stab Faith with her own knife, but Faith jumps from the roof onto a passing truck, unconscious but away from Buffy.

From: Wikipedia

BUFFY- (+9)

  • +1/ Messing with Wesley, she’s actually warming up to him a little-
    Buffy: Which leads to the question, how come? I’m gonna destroy the entire city, but I take the time to kill harmless Lester first?
    Giles: Tying up loose ends? Lester had something or knew something.
    Buffy: Then I wanna know too. The Mayor’s trying to hide. I say we go seek.
    Wesley: Ah. By attempting to keep a valuable clue from us, the Mayor may have inadvertently led us right to it. (with a sword flourish)
    Buffy: What page are you on, Wes, cause we already got there.
    Wesley: Yes, well. You will go tonight. Look over his apartment. Anything of note, report back here.
    Buffy: I just love it when you take charge, you man, you.
    Wesley: Uh, we… was that a yes? I have trouble keeping track.
    Buffy: I’ll go.
  • +1/ Trying to explain the Mayor situation to Joyce, it’s interesting to see Buffy’s view on graduation, she seems very unexcited about-
    Buffy: Mom, I need you to leave town. Tonight.
    Joyce: Buffy, I’d miss your graduation.
    Buffy: Yeah, that’s sort of the idea.
    Joyce: There’s no way. I wouldn’t dream…
    Buffy: Mom, graduation is a pointless ceremony where you sit around and listen to a bunch of boring speeches until someone hands you a piece of paper that says you graduated which you already know and maroon does nothing for my complection, so don’t argue, okay?
    Joyce: (sarcastic) What, is some terrible demon going to attack the school. (Buffy glares, keeps packing) Oh, I see. Oh, you know, Buffy, looking back on everything that’s happened, maybe I should have sent you to a different school.
    Buffy: Just promise me that you’ll be far away from here.
    Joyce: I’m not leaving you to face an awful monster. If I go anywhere, you’re going with me.
    Buffy: You know that I can’t.
    Joyce: Well then I can’t either.
    Buffy: Mom, I know that sometimes you wish I were different.
    Joyce: Buffy, no.
    Buffy: I wish I could be a lot of things for you. A great student, a star athlete, remotely normal. I’m not. But there is something I do that I can do better than anybody else in the world. I’m gonna fight this thing, but I can’t do it and worry about you.
  • +2/ Fighting with Angel in the street (verbally, not in the physical way). Buffy is still very hurt by Angel’s decision to leave her so she doesn’t really communicate her feelings that well to him, which makes for a fairly entertaining scene (see Angel point 2).
  • +2/ Deciding to quit as the council’s ’employee’ and from now on playing by her own rules which will be an important concept on the show for next season.
  • +3/ Her huge fight with Faith, which is utterly brilliant. Buffy is uncomprising and determined to save Angel and that means Faith, a human, has to die. It’s rare to see Buffy nearly void of compasion or mercy when it comes to a human but Faith has pushed her beyond a limit. Buffy eventually wins out in the end after stabbing Faith with her own dagger.

XANDER- (+3)

  • +1/ Having the feeling that he is destined to die at Sunnydale high-
    Cordelia: I can’t believe this loser look. I lobbied so hard for the teal. No one ever listens to me. A lone fashionable wolf.
    Xander: I like the Maroon. Has more dignity.
    Cordelia: Dignity? You? In relation to clothes? I am awash in a sea of confusion.
    Xander: I just want to look respectable in this, considering I’m probably gonna die in it.
    Cordelia: Excuse me?
    Xander: I’m telling you. I woke up the other day with this feeling in my gut. I just know there’s no way I’m getting out of this school alive.
    Cordelia: Wow, you’ve really mastered the power of positive giving-up.
    Xander: I’ve been lucky too many times. My number’s coming up. And I was short! One more rotation and I’m shipping state-side, you know what I mean?
    Cordelia: Seldom if ever.
  • +1/ Anya has become somewhat smitten with Xander, which is interesting to say the least. She tries to ask him out again, which he doesn’t react well to, especially since he expects to die soon-
    Anya: So, I was wondering, maybe if you were free this weekend, maybe we could do some entertaining thing.
    Xander: Would that be along the lines of you telling me about all the men you destroyed back in your demon days? Cause pencil me in.
    Anya: Well, we could do something else you like. We could watch sports of some kind.
    Xander: Uh, I don’t know.
    Anya: Men like sports. I’m sure of it.
    Xander: Yes. Men like sports. Men watch the action move, they eat of the beef, and enjoy to look at the bosoms. A thousand years of avenging our wrongs and that’s all you’ve learned?
  • +1/ Cutting class with Cordelia, a little callback to their relationship.

WILLOW- (+7)

  • +1/ Pretending to be nice to Harmony just because school is ending even though she hates her-
    Harmony: Willow, will you sign my yearbook?
    Willow: Yeah. You have to sign mine too.
    Harmony: You know, I really wish we woulda got to know each other better.
    Willow: Me too.
    Harmony: I mean, you’re so smart. I always wanted to be like that.
    Willow: Thanks. You’re so sweet.
    Harmony: I hope we won’t lose touch.
    Willow: No, we’ll hang out.
    Harmony: Bye!
    Willow: Bye!
    Harmony leaves as Buffy walks down the stairs.
    Willow: Oh, I’m gonna miss her.
    Buffy: Don’t you hate her?
    Willow: (still smiling) Yes, with a fiery vengeance. She picked on me for ten years, the vacuous tramp. It’s like a sickness, Buffy. I’m just missing everything. I miss P.E.
  • +1/ Trying to be funny, it’s strange to see her try on a few of the Xander-type jokes-
    Xander: Guess who our commencement speaker is?
    Willow: Siegfried?
    Xander: No.
    Willow: Roy?
    Xander: No.
    Willow: One of the tigers?
    Xander: Come out of the fantasy, Will.
  • +1/ Not liking Anya being involved in the group, establishing her dislike of Anya already.
  • +3/ Discussing the Ascension with Oz, which is pretty funny in itself but then Oz and Willow finally decide to take the relationship to the next level and have sex. They’re such a cute couple and it’s nice to see them go along strongly-
    Willow: Oh, this is so frustrating.
    Oz: Nothing useful?
    Willow: No, it’s great. If we want to make ferns invisible, or communicate with shrimp, I’ve got the goods right here.
    Oz: Our lives are different than other peoples’.
    Willow: Oh, who am I kidding? I’m not going to find a spell to stop the Ascension. I’m no witch. I can’t even change poor Amy back to a person.
    Oz: But you got the swinging Habitrail going. I think Amy is in a good place emotionally.
    Willow: Oz.
    Oz: What?
    Willow: Could you just pretend to care about what’s happening? Please?
    Oz: You think I don’t care?
    Willow: I think we could be dead in two days time and you’re being ironic detachment guy.
    Oz: Would it help if I panic?
    Willow: (babbling) Yes, it would be swell. Panic is a thing people can share in times of crisis. And everything’s really scary now, you know, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen. And there’s all sorts of things that you’re supposed to get to do after high school, and I was really looking forward to doing them, and now we’re probably just gonna die and I would like to feel that maybe you would …
    Oz leans forward and kisses her, slowly.
    Willow: What are you doing?
    Oz: Panicking.
  • +1/ Babbling after sex with Oz-
    Willow: I feel different, you know. I-I guess that makes sense.  Do you feel different. Oh, no, you’ve already, probably, no big change for you. It was nice. Was it nice? Should this be a quiet moment?
    Oz: I know exactly what you mean.
    Willow: Which part?
    Oz: Everything from ‘it’s different’.

GILES- (+1)

  • +1/ Giles is completely nonchalant when fencing with Wesley, he even reads the paper during, could he be any cooler then with Wes.

ANGEL- (+3)

  • +1/  Banging into a doorframe, very unstealthy, very un-Angel.
  • +2/ Having trouble with his communication with Buffy. He wants to still be nice and help out but she doesn’t really want his help as it’s too painful for her-
    Buffy: You know what? Thank you, but I can take it from here.
    Angel: It’s alright. I’ll walk you there.
    Buffy: Look, I don’t need an escort. I’m a big girl. Superpowers, remember? I don’t need you crowding me.
    Angel: I didn’t think I was.
    Buffy: No, of course you don’t. You just show up at the prom and then you disappear into the ozone. For all I know, you left town.
    Angel: Are you mad at me for being around too much or for not being around enough?
    Buffy: Duh. Yes.
    Angel: Which?
    Buffy: What?
    Angel: I don’t get you.
    Buffy: No, you don’t, not anymore.
    Angel: Are you just making this harder to make this easier on yourself?
    Buffy: Could we stop with the brain-teasers? I just wish it was over, done.

CORDELIA- (+1)

  • +1/ Cutting class with Xander, calling back their relationship.

OZ- (+3)

  • +3/ Trying to help Willow in figure out the Ascension before deciding to ‘panic’ and make love to her. He has quite a few funny lines during their talk as well (see Willow point 4).

FAITH- (+4)

  • +1/ Dressing up in a nice dress for the Mayor, which shows just how far their relationship has come. She’s prepared to pull down her walls and be very innocent for her father-figure, it’s a very nice moment.
  • +1/ Having another nice father-daughter moment as she recounts her childhood.
  • +2/ Her big fight with Buffy which is just fantastic. She doesn’t get 3 points because she loses.

THE MAYOR- (+4)

  • +1/ Getting to see Faith in a nice dress-
    Mayor: Wow, aren’t you a vision?
    Faith: I feel I look stupid in this.
    Mayor: You look lovely. Perfect for the Ascension. Any boys that manage to survive will be lining up to ask you out.
    Faith: It just isn’t me, though.
    Mayor: Not you? Let me tell you something. Nobody knows what you are.  Not even you, little Miss Seen-it-all. The Ascension isn’t just my day. It’s yours too. Your day to blossom, to show the world what a powerful girl you are. I think of what you’ve done, what I know you will do (caresses her face) no father could be prouder.
    Faith: I hope I don’t let you down.
    Mayor: Impossible. Now come on, change back into your street clothes.  I’ll buy you an ice-e.
  • +1/ His reaction to be stabbed by Giles’ fencing blade-
    Mayor: So, this is the inner sanctum. Faith tells me this is where you folks like to hang out, concoct your little schemes. I tell you, it’s just nice to see that some young people are still interested in reading in this modern era. So, what are kids reading nowadays?
    The Mayor walks to the table and picks up a book.
    Mayor: “The beast will walk upon the earth and darkness will follow.  The several races of man will be as one in their terror and destruction.” Aw, that’s kind of sweet. Different races coming together.
    Buffy: You never get even a little tired of hearing yourself speak, do you?
    Mayor: (chuckles, to Giles) That’s one spunky little girl you’ve raised. I’m gonna eat her.
    Giles grabs Wesley’s sword from the table and thrusts it through the Mayor’s chest. The Mayor staggers back but regains his balance.
    Mayor: Whoa! Well now, that was a little thoughtless. (pulls the sword out of his chest) Violent outbursts like that, in front of the children? You know, Mr. Giles, they look to you to see how to behave.
  • +1/ Calling Faith a ‘firecracker’, once again showing the father-daughter relationship they have.
  • +1/ Enjoying the insect creatures he had to eat-
    “Mmm. My god, what a feeling. The power of these creatures. It suffuses my being. I can feel the changes begin. My organs are shifting, changing, making ready for the Ascension. Plus these babies are high in fiber. And what’s the fun in becoming an immortal demon if you’re not regular, am I right?”

ANYA- (+2)

  • +1/ She tries to ask Xander out again, since she’s become quite smitten with him. She isn’t all together that great at the asking out but at least she gave it a go (see Xander point 2).
  • +1/ Asking Xander to run away with her so they can escape the Ascension. It’s nice of her to think of Xander at a time like this, showing how much she already cares for him.

JOYCE- (+1)

  • +1/ Thinking that it may have been a good idea to send Buffy to a different school a few years ago.

WESLEY- (+2)

  • +2/ Fencing with Giles. Wes tries fairly hard and looks hilarious. I love goofy Wes, and thankfully he turns up on Angel and becomes a major, major player.

PERCY- (+1)

  • +1/ Wanting to forget all the things he learnt from school and Willow after graduation-
    Percy: Check it out, history final.
    Willow: B-minus, that’s great.
    Percy: I’m a scholar. I’m like a scholar.
    Willow: Congratulations.
    Percy: Hey, listen. Thank you. I mean, for helping me. Being so patient. And also, for not kicking my ass like you did in the Bronze.
    Willow: You know, Percy, that was actually… for your own good.
    Percy: I know, I know.
    Oz: (arrives) Hey.
    Willow: Hey. (to Percy) History’s important, you know.
    Percy: No, I totally get that now. And I got the grades, I’m graduating tomorrow, can forget all this crap. (cheerfully, leaves)

SEASON COUNT-

BUFFY- +127
WILLOW- +108
XANDER- +67
GILES- +59
ANGEL- +59
OZ- +51
CORDELIA- +42
THE MAYOR- +33
JOYCE-+21
WESLEY- +21
SPIKE- +18
FAITH- +14
ANYA- +8
TRICK- +7
ANNE- +4
THE MASTER- +3

JONATHAN- +3
THE FIRST- +2
WILLY- +2

LARRY- +2
SNYDER-+1
ANGELUS- +1

HARMONY- -2
TRAVERS- -3

OVERALL COUNT-

BUFFY- +285
WILLOW- +242
XANDER- +198
GILES- +151
CORDELIA- +119
ANGEL- +109
OZ- +82
SPIKE- +62
JOYCE- +41
THE MAYOR- +33
ANGELUS- +24
WESLEY+21
FAITH- +14
THE MASTER- +9
ANYA- +8
TRICK- +7
ANNE-  +3
JONATHAN- +3
THE FIRST- +2
WILLY- +2
LARRY- +2
TRAVERS- -3
HARMONY- -3
SNYDER- -9

EPISODE THOUGHTS-

The start of one of strongest season finales in Buffyverse history. Angel gets poisoned by Faith, Buffy quits the council and a huge fight between the slayers leads to Faith being left in a coma. Now while that all sounds like a whole lot of fun, it’s the character moments which make this episode great. We have Buffy thinking she is to lose Angel, quitting the council and stabbing Faith; we have the beginnings ot Xander and Anya’s relationship, even if Xander doesn’t know it; we have Willow and Oz consumating their relationship and lastly we have the Mayor and Faith’s father-daughter relationship hit a peak. That’s quite a bit for one episode, I mean you could stretch that over two episodes. For me the most appealing is the Faith-Mayor relationship. To have such appealing and emotional villains is rare and makes this season the best in my opinion. The big fight that Faith and Buffy have is great and a fantastic way to end the episode. It’s such a tightly wound episode full of moments, suspense and action that you can’t wait for the next time. Great start to this finale.

96.5/100

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