Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 3, Episode 21

Graduation Day: Part 1 (18 May 1999)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Drama | Fantasy
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 1,014 users  
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In an effort to distract Buffy from the Ascension, the mayor instructs Faith to poison Angel.

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Title: Graduation Day: Part 1 (18 May 1999)

Graduation Day: Part 1 (18 May 1999) on IMDb 8.7/10

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Storyline

The mayor praises Faith as a great evil after killing geology professor Lester Worth as part of preparation for his ascension. Amidst the preparations for graduation, with a speech from the mayor, who wants to eat children once he's a demon, in a melancholic mood only Buffy misses, Anya, the former demon Anyanka, tells Xander and then the gang what the previous demonic ascension was like, Lohesh's 800 years ago in an Ural village, and how much worse the pure demon it produces is then 'eartly bastard-human' demons, but the mayor's preparations are very different, including eating spiders from the box. Anya invites Xander to join her running, in vain. While ingrate Buffy has a go at Xander who escorts her at Giles' request to retrieve the professor's notes, about a Hawaian vulcanologic expedition which found an 'unknown dinosaur' -probably actually an ascended demon's corps, so the mayor probably also becomes vulnerable again after his ascension- Faith shoots Angel with a poisonous ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Action | Drama | Fantasy

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TV-PG | See all certifications »
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18 May 1999 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Goofs

After the Mayor is informed of trouble at Faith's apartment, the scene cuts to a wide shot of the fight on the rooftop, and for just an instant a crew member is visible off-set at the right-hand edge of the picture, along with a glimpse of what likely is the lens hood of the "B" camera silhouetted against the white of the crew member's T-shirt. See more »

Quotes

Xander: I've been lucky too many times. My number's coming up. And I was short! One more rotation and I'm shipping stateside! You know what I mean?
Cordelia: Seldom if ever.
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References Jaws (1975) See more »

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Sunday Mail
Performed by Spectator Pump
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User Reviews

Takes One To Know One
9 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Buffy the Vampire Slayer acquired two trademarks in its seven-season long television run. The first is the ability to portray its characters to the audience, for the scene to travel deep within the viewer's soul, then stinging the cords on the inside that makes us identify with a character, a feeling, or a situation without it being exactly the same as our own. It's second trademark is the show-stopping season finales it brings. The season finale is usually unanimously the favorite episode of the season. So what happens when you sit all seven of the finales next to each other in a line to compare? The ones that don't have the same gutting material to work with don't always stand out. That's how I've always felt about Graduation Day.

This episode is a showcase for Joss Whedon's radical directing skills. Whedon is the type of writer who was born to write. When his pen meets paper sparks fly into the air because it's that revolutionary. With the toned-down writing this time, Graduation Day allows the Buffy fan to really be captured by Whedon's vision for the adieu to childhood. There isn't much here to write about. Anything he would've thrown us would come off as unappealing to the adrenaline ready Buffy fans waiting to be shaken off our seat by the finale, but all things considered, the writing is good. It has a few laugh-out-loud moments as well as great dialogue.

The scope of this episode, the meaning, and the emotion for Graduation Day, however has never been fully realized by myself until this point and time. I've seen it numerous times before, but never really understood what Whedon really intended to with it. He goes back to Trademark 1. We get to experience graduation. As the characters depart from high school, the audience members who have traveled through high school and successfully graduated will understand every nuance here. I watched this on the night of my graduation, it's the perfect time to revisit it. The feeling of extreme love and warmth to everyone around you, wanting to be united with everyone around you, and realizing you are finally in the position to step away from what has taught you right from wrong all your life (such as Buffy does in the first-rate scene where she quits the Watcher's Counsel). All the characters get a moment to show their maturity and the person they've grown into from high school. We can feel our high school memories haunting back into our mind as Buffy gets to live her experience.

One of my biggest objections with this episode has been the Buffy/Angel subplot that links part 1 and part 2. That is all that used to be to me, a chain linking the two halves together, but this section is undeniable and their relationship comes to a close with poetry. Buffy and Angel were clearly meant to not be together. This season gets to explore the devastating news that destiny has not intended for two people in love to stay together. Once High School is over, there are many things that have to be abandoned. Often high school romances are one of them.

Season 3′s biggest fault in my eyes is feeling to convoluted and too manipulated into it's own little universe instead of stemming off in the real world, which the others do. Although, most of this took place in the earlier episodes in the season, the backwash is still felt here. That being said, Season 3′s arc, which is captured in Graduation Day, is prodigious. It questions our morality, explores our psyches, tests our emotions. Wait, our? I meant the character's morality, psyches, and emotions but if the shoe fits

Graduation Day gets to depict a war film as well as being a compelling drama developing its strong characters. The metaphor of the students teaming up together to defeat the Mayor is one of the strongest metaphors of the season. Great acting from Eliza Dushku, Harry Groener, and the always dependable Sarah Michelle Gellar, as well as the entire ensemble. This episode also stirs up a wonderful dramatic score. The visual effects of the Mayor's transformation, though, are something to be desired. Decent for the '90s, but come on Joss Whedon! The iconic moment of the episode is the showdown between Buffy and Faith. The two slayers, evolved from friends to enemies finally get to face off in Graduation Day and trust me the fight was worth the wait.

Epic and worthy as a finale, the episode itself doesn't shimmer like the past finales do, but it's still one of the top episodes of the series. The development of the characters is something all shows strive for, few ever succeed in finding, but what Buffy has copyrighted. The best scene is Buffy's coma-dream sequence. It's a beautiful scene that does what this show does that makes it the best: puts two characters in a room that speak to the audience and move their soul. The final fight is a tad underwhelming, that of Buffy and the Mayor, but it still creates a successful conclusion to the season. Directing his way to victory, Joss Whedon takes a stride with this finale!

NOTE: watch Part One and Part Two, back to back, you'll leave more fulfilled.

Rating: 9.5/10

Grade: A


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