Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Graduation Day, Part 2

Giles: "There is a certain dramatic irony that's attached to all this. A synchronicity that borders on predestination, one might say."
Buffy: "Fire bad, tree pretty."

At least they got their priorities straight. They saved all the books in the library before they blew it up.

I couldn't help but notice that a variety of kisses were key in this episode. Willow and Oz exchanging passionate ones, Cordy and Wesley in an endearingly comic exchange — was he just a bad kisser, or was she, or was it just not working between them? — and that incredibly erotic vampire kiss at the beginning of the episode. Did you notice that he was between her legs? and that he didn't fight her very hard? He must have wanted to do that for a long time, soul or no soul.

Nearly all of the guest students that had survived all year were in this episode. That was nice; the Sunnydale student victims got to fight back. It was also cool that Xander, after all the growing he did this season, got to be in charge of the Battle of Sunnydale. He did well, too. Wesley, not so much.

Faith's knife was key, too. The episode both started and ended with the knife, which I guess was a literary (or televisionary) device that stood for Faith and what she meant to the Mayor and to Buffy. Faith and the Mayor's relationship was always sort of a flip side of Buffy's relationship with Giles.

Dan and I had a bet going again. I said that Faith would turn on the Mayor and save Buffy, and he said she wouldn't. I'm not sure I really won the bet, but the dream sequence was touching and I'm glad that Faith didn't die. In fact, leaving Faith in a coma was a perfect plot device. As long as Faith is still technically alive, there will be no second slayer; and they have a great character waiting in the wings who could wake up at any time and re-enter the fray -- and we don't know which side she'll be on.

All in all, there was enough in this episode for two good Buffy episodes, and I'm definitely satisfied. It was worth the wait and as good as everyone said it would be. "There's a certain dramatic irony attached to all this, a synchronicity that borders on predestination, one might say." One might.

Bits and pieces:

-- The parallel scenes with the Mayor planning his ascension and Buffy planning to thwart him were very nicely done.

-- Angel was noticeably quicker and much stronger after his little snack, wasn't he?

-- Did Cordelia look really thin to anyone else? Her face looked bony to me.

-- "Little Miss Muffet counting down from seven three oh"? Does anyone know what this means?

-- Giles does drink coffee, not tea. At least sometimes.

-- The plot point I heard at the con was the school blowing up, which was why the WB held this episode for awhile. It did make you think of Columbine. It was better to run this episode while school was out.

Quotes:

Xander: "Aren't you supposed to be drinking tea anyway?"
Giles: "Tea is soothing. I wish to be tense."
Xander: "Okay. But you are destroying a perfectly good cultural stereotype here."

Cordelia: "I demand an explanation."
Xander: "For what?"
Cordelia: "Wesley."
Xander: "Inbreeding?"

Cordelia: "I personally don't think it's impossible to come up with a crazier plan."
Oz: "We attack the Mayor with hummus."
Cordelia: "I stand corrected."
Oz: "Just trying to keep things in perspective."

Cordelia: "No! No, we'll get a box with the Ebola virus and, and, or it doesn't even have to be real, we can just get a box that says Ebola on it and chase him. With the box."
Xander: "I'm starting to lean towards the hummus offensive."
Oz: "He'll never see it coming."

I'd say this was a five out of four stakes. Excellent.

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

26 comments:

Iago said...

I'm on a series rewatch and I've just gotten to Graduation Day.

The dream sequence between Buffy and Faith is one of my all-time favourite Buffy scenes: it was cool that they didn't make Faith an out-and-out Big Bad and the dream sequence reinforces what a sympathetic character she was.

I also get a thrill from the scene in part 1 where Faith is modelling a dress for the Mayor and his reaction to it. What a gloriously messed-up relationship they had.

Anonymous said...

Love the dream Sequence as well.

Bert said...

Didn't Faith say: 'Counting down from seven-three-oh' (instead of 'coming down')?
That would make some sense, in light of what happened two years (730 days)
later...

Gus Brunetti said...

Nooooooooo!!!!! Not the Mayor.

I'm on a rewatch, too. I remember being really disappointed that the Mayor didn't stay alive for another season. I just love him! Easily the best villain in the series.

This finale was outstanding. When the students reveal they're armed and ready for fighting, I jolted from my seat. Epic in the true sense.

RIP* Mayor Wilkins




*Rot in Perdition. I loved him as a villain, but he was a terrible, terrible person

Mark Greig said...

This was was a fantastic finale but it makes me feel a little bit sad. I've always felt that the high school years were Buffy's best and this is where we said goodbye to them.

But all good things must end eventually. So it's goodbye to Sunnydale High, goodbye to the library (oh, how I loved the library) and goodbye to Angel, Cordy and Wesley. I'll be seeing you guys in LA, if and when I decide to re-watch Angel (I don't think I'm emotionally ready to go through it all again just yet).

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes.

Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Post them here.

PLEASE NOTE! We're going to take a break after this one for a week, and then change to a new schedule starting August 30 to accommodate the accompanying Angel rewatch -- one episode of each show a week. as always, the episode we're on will be posted in the box on the top left of the site.

Thanks, everyone, for getting us to this point. The comments and discussion have been just great.

sunbunny said...

Heehee, past Billie doesn't know what "counting down to seven three oh" means. Heehee.

I have one major problem with this episode: there is too much awesome in it. Seriously. Fabulous moments are completely overshadowed by even fabulouser moments. Still, it makes it one of those episodes I can watch over and over and get something new out of every time. This time I noticed how Jonathan attempts to shield Cordelia during the fight. Awww.

Buffy's hair looked particularly lovely in the dream sequence. We're coming up on season 4, though. Newbies, if you didn't know, Buffy's hair becomes the big bad next season. It's big. And bad.

Annie said...

Fantastic end to the scoobies school years. Cordy and Wesley's kiss is brilliant, especially the exchange when they stop trying to make it work, its just so perfectly awkward.

...Only one Buffy a week! and nothing until the 30th! it's going to be tough. I'm glad there's going to be an Angel re-watch though.

Josie Kafka said...

One thing I’ve noticed during this re-watch: we don’t really get much Angel/Buffy time in Season Three. Even though I knew it was coming, I was a little surprised at how (in “The Prom”) they were thinking of one another as boyfriend and girlfriend. They just haven’t had much romantic screen time for many episodes. For me, I think that lessens the Angel/Buffy shippiness. He’s just not around enough for me to love him with her—and I’m always surprised when he gets rather witty and caustic, as he does right before Faith shoots him.

Anyway, I love this episode.

Jane said...

So I guess the mayor really did care about Faith. Given what he became, I find it hard to picture she would have lived long after the ascension anyway but maybe I'm wrong.

The Angel and Buffy story really felt to me like they were at a stopping point. I'm ready to see them each move forward apart.

I do love the student body group effort in the final battle. A reinforcement of Buffy's strength coming from her relationships.

Juliette said...

I wish to see the version where they fight the Mayor with hummus. That was one of my favourite exchanges ever. (I also love how Buffy points out she's not exactly at her best - she's hardly ever badly injured, so it stands out).

I also love 'tea is soothing, I wish to be tense' - but that may have been in Part 1

Suzanne said...

It never fails to amaze me how great this show is when at its best. Even having seen this two-parter a number of times, I was still on the edge of my seat. I laughed a lot, felt anxious much of the time, and even got a tiny bit teary at the end. How many shows can make you feel this way in one episode?

I agree that Buffy and Angel probably needed a bit more time together this season. They seemed to have a hard time balancing many different elements this season. I also think Faith's story should have been more gradual.

Lastly, I agree with the commentor above who said the Mayor died too soon. What a great villain - the man not the giant snake!

a.m. said...

What a great finale! The students all joining in the fight was perfect--and horribly sad too. I bet their record as the class with the lowest mortality rate was completely obliterated in this one glorious battle. I'm glad Jonathan seemed to survive (and protect Cordy) but did Larry die? I hope not...if it's never addressed again, I'm just going to assume he was knocked out and live in happy denial:)

I can't believe no one's mentioned Snyder getting eaten. The mayor/demon was the perfect character to finally off the principal. Though I would have enjoyed his reaction to Buffy blowing up the school.

This episode felt not only like a season finale but a little like the end of a series. So many story lines were sewn up (though there are plenty more ready to start/change/keep going as well). Didn't Buffy come to Sunnydale because she blew up her previous school? At least this time she waited until after graduation so they couldn't expel her again...

Hopefully some day pucklady will get this far in the rewatch. I need a few good limericks after this one:)

a.m. said...

Oh, and I forgot...I hope all of you saw Joss Whedon's recent comment when asked about Twilight:

“A small part of you is like: ‘Well, you know, I did that first. I liked that band before they were popular,’” he says. “The thing about Buffy for me is–on a show-by-show basis–are there female characters who are being empowered, who are driving the narrative? The Twilight thing and a lot of these franchise attempts coming out, everything rests on what this girl will do, but she’s completely passive, or not really knowing what the hell is going on. And that’s incredibly frustrating to me because a lot of what’s taking on the oeuvre of Buffy, is actually a reaction against it. Everything is there — except for the Buffy. A lot of things aimed at the younger kids is just Choosing Boyfriends: The Movie.”

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2013/08/22/joss-whedon-empire-strikes-back-twilight/

This ending between Buffy and Angel really showed just how much stronger Buffy is with herself than poor sad Bella Swan...so many parts of the two stories are similar but Buffy is sooooooo much better for the exact reasons Joss mentions above.

Annie said...

a.m,

I have to say I was really tempted to mention Snyder but couldn't get it straight in my head what to say. The way he reacts to the mayor's ascension is quite mad, and I really was wondering what was going through his mind... why didn't he run? Was he just so incensed that the order of the day was disrupted that he lost his marbles? It is a bizarre, and fitting end to him, but I did feel a little bit sad.

ChrisB said...

As many times as I have watched this episode, I have never been more struck by the sexuality of Angel feeding off Buffy as I was this time. My goodness, but Joss & Co. couldn't have made it any more erotic without moving the show to cable.

703? We do now, don't we! :-)

Another great season of television. I like the first three seasons, but am a much bigger fan of the later seasons. Am looking forward to seeing our gang move on with their lives.

sunbunny said...

a.m. - Sorry to report that Larry is indeed, dead. Although I don't think it gets mentioned for a season or two...

Joss wrote all of BtVS's season finales (with the possible exception of four) so that they could serve as series finales if need be. He's not a big fan of end of season cliff hangers. I really like the way he did it. It makes each year a cohesive entity.

pucklady said...

I liked the reveal that the whole school is in on the fight. Also, Wesley seems to have taken over the "watcher gets knocked out" role.

Well, murder and mayhem - here is the limerick

The mayor achieved his acsension
When the principal grabbed his attention
Without stopping to gloat
As he slid down its throat
Snyder issued his final detention

Billie Doux said...

pucklady! and with a biting limerick! I was afraid we'd lost you. :)

pucklady said...

I was having a hard time keeping up with an episode every other day. I think the pace that you have planned from now on will be easier.

I posted my comment before reading anybody else's above. It is nice to be missed. Thank you.

And I don't know what 703 means.

Billie Doux said...

Yeah, it's definitely time to slow down. And I'm so glad you caught up! I'm glad we still have such a nice-sized group commenting away. And I can tell from the stats that we have lurkers, too. :)

Of course, I wrote these reviews during the run of the show. I don't know why I didn't talk about the Mayor's amazing end. I certainly would if I were reviewing the show now. I just made a decision at some point that I was going to leave the reviews as they were, for the most part.

Suzanne said...

A.M., thanks for sharing the info on Joss's reaction to Twilight, et, al. So good to see that, as usual, he is able to bring such depth of analysis to a situation we have all probably thought of ourselves but could never quite express as he does.

Pucklady, good to see you again. Great limerick as usual. I was having trouble keeping up, too, and I am glad for the slow down.

Billie, your reviews are some of the best I have seen on the web! We are so lucky to have them.

a.m. said...

Yeah, Pucklady!! I'm you're back. What a perfect limerick for both their demises...

Sconce I mentioned you and you returned to commenting, I'll now say that I've missed celticmarc and hope he comes back to the rewatch too...

Suzanne, you're welcome and I agree with all 3 of your points.

Billie, I can understand why you might have left it out--you could have spent pages and pages (screens and screens?) trying to write about all of the insane/interesting things that happened in this episode. This is comment 23 and I am just remembering to mention the crazy look/sound of the demon speaking with the mayor's voice right before the library explodes. Does anyone remember what he says? It made me think of Ned Flanders...

I'm glad we're taking a break but I can't wait to start season 4/Angel...

sunbunny said...

a.m. - I believe the mayor says "Well, gosh."

Lamounier said...

This was, indeed, an epic ending. There were some little moments I liked a lot:

1) Buffy accepting Wesley's offer of help (cue Cordelia’s “isn’t he classy?”);

2) Buffy and Willow bored by the Mayor’s speech;

3) Giles keeping Buffy’s diploma safe and giving her after the battle;

4) Xander telling Buffy that Angel survived (nice closure there, Whedon); and

5) Buffy and Angel’s silent goodbye (kudos to SMG and DB on the acting).

There are many other great moments, with Buffy and Faith’s shared dream probably being my favorite scene of the episode. But neither the subtitles nor the dubbed version had the “counting down from 7-3-0” line (it was just “counting down”). That was just wrong. I wonder how many Lost bits and clues got lost on translation.

I absolutely loved Buffy and Giles this season and they were my favorites (Willow was my favorite on the first two seasons). They were great individually and their relationship was better than ever. I had a hard time with Xander on the first half of the season (and that’s entirely his fault), but he did come around eventually. Willow was her usual great self and Angel just got better and more solidified as a hero. Oz and Cordelia were great when they were not underused, which happened a lot, mostly to Oz. In fact, I have to say that while I like Cordelia a great deal, it’s hard to connect with Oz because he’s both underused and a low-key character. Faith, Wesley and the Mayor were all great additions to the cast. Am I forgetting someone? Oh, Joyce. I love you, Joyce.

All in all, this was a great season of BtVS. It was way more consistent and entertaining than the first two seasons, even if it never hit the emotional highs that season two did. If I have a complaint is that nearly two thirds of the season were more standalone driven than arc driven, which felt weird. But the writing was so tight, the stories so well told and the characters so well defined that I should just stop complaining already. What a great season, and that’s it. Now onto season four.

magritte said...

The two-parter was a blockbuster of an end and there were a couple of great setpieces in it. It could have very easily worked as a series finale; it makes me wonder if the writers were doubtful that they'd be renewed. What I really enjoyed was that we get to see that people in Sunnydale are not completely oblivious to everything going on around them, and that Buffy's heroics are noticed and remembered by her peers. The scene with her getting the award at graduation and the way Xander organizes the students to fight back were high points. And the mayor was a great villain, as loopy to the end as Drusilla. His apparently real concern for Faith was sweet.

Unlike everybody else, I seem not to have understood the dream sequence with Faith. I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to feel emotionally; it seemed so detached. Also I wasn't wild about the whole Buffy feeding Angel scene. It bugged me that she didn't make any effort to try and figure out what happened to the truck Faith fell on. But I guess it did serve one purpose very well: if Angel still had any doubts about whether he was bad for Buffy, this certainly silenced them.

The final Angel scene was good, too. I can't remember his first appearance in the first season. Did he appear out of the mist in the night when she first saw him as well? It would have been beautiful if he did.