"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Graduation Day: Part 2 (TV Episode 1999) Poster

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Season 3 Review
ametaphysicalshark17 February 2008
*This is a review of season 3 as a whole. The rating above is for the season finale as opposed to the season as a whole.

If season 2 saw this series building on its first season's few strengths and evolving into a smart, effective, and genuinely intelligent piece of genre programming, then season 3 is Buffy on overdrive, as nearly every episode delights the viewer in its unpretentious and expert handling of the characters, their relationships, and the plot.

Honestly, the story lines on this series are, superficially speaking, fantasy soap-opera story lines. The romances on the series, the good-turns-bad twists etc. are pretty standard material, but the way the writers write out the story is completely unpretentious, smart, witty, and different. The acting is top-notch and really brings the writing to life. I mean, The Mayor could've turned out horribly, and though not exactly menacing (little is on this series), The Mayor is a wonderfully rich, funny, creepy, and well-drawn villain who serves as the base for most of this season's ridiculously entertaining episodes.

In Season 3 Buffy finally got rid of the moronic monster of the week episodes which plagued its first two seasons. These formulaic episodes, in which some ugly monster was fought off by the core cast and eventually killed, really dragged down the quality of the otherwise fantastic second season. Luckily, in season 3, these 'independent' episodes take after series classics like "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" in the place of garbage like "Bad Eggs" and "Inca Mummy Girl", in that they are linked to the psychological or physical state of the characters, and in the case of "Band Candy", another fantastic episode, is loosely connected to the season story-arc. So while Season 3 has its fair share of episodes not exactly crucial to the story-arc, they are done in a far more evolved and intelligent form than the simple 'gang fights monster' format (the mediocre "Gingerbread" being the exception). These episodes take fascinating concepts and execute them with real style.

Buffy Season 3 sees natural development of the characters leading up to the only reasonable end points for them as we reach the end of the season. New characters, Faith and Wesley being the ones that survive beyond this season, are terrific and are more than convenient plot devices.

I thought the best episodes this season were:

"Band Candy"- clever and hilarious pretty much describe this one.

"Lovers Walk"- an ingeniously written episode which sees the return of a lovesick Spike. Character interaction at its finest. A potentially moronic and soapy scene where two characters suffer betrayal is executed brilliantly and works as fine drama.

"The Zeppo"- The series at the peak of its comedic prowess. Xander is an irresistible character.

"Doppelgangland"- I'm actually not too crazy about Joss Whedon in general. Even some of his episodes for Buffy (usually his most praised work) have struck me as seriously flawed bits of writing. Every so often though, he'll come through with one hell of a script. He did it in season 2 with Innocence and Becoming Part 2, and he's done it here.

"Graduation Day: Part 2"- The big season finale works precisely because it doesn't feel like one. Brilliant stuff.

Season 3 is one of the most thoroughly enjoyable seasons of genre television I have ever seen. It is exceptionally well-written stuff, there's just no denying that.

Season 3 Avg. Rating from all episodes: 8.23/10, a much more consistent season than its immediate predecessor and a truly outstanding bit of television in general.
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10/10
The last episode of classic high school BTVS
katierose2954 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is an episode about change. Endings and new beginnings, for both the characters and for BTVS. It is (basically) the last episode with Cordelia, Wes and Angel in the cast. (Angel will pop up a few more times over the years, but he'll never really come back to stay.) Sunnydale High is destroyed, so starting next season there will be all new sets. Snyder and Larry are killed in the battle. Harmony becomes a vampire. Faith is put in a coma and the Mayor dies. All in all, a lot happens in this episode. And you really shouldn't skip it if you're watching the show on DVD.

The episode picks up right where "Graduation Day Part One" leaves off. Angel is dying and The Mayor is still planning to ascend. Desperate to save Angel, Buffy forces him to drink her blood. This cures him, but it nearly kills her in the process. Angel rushes her to the hospital, where Faith is also laying injured. The Mayor is devastated to learn that Faith is in a coma and may never wake up. He blames Buffy and attacks her in her hospital bed. Angel has to pull him off. While she's asleep, Buffy has a dream where Faith urges her to play on the Mayor's human weaknesses. Buffy wakes up with a plan on how to stop the Ascension.

Rallying the other Sunnydale students, Buffy and the Scoobies go to graduation. Halfway through his speech, the Mayor transforms into a giant snake demon. The students are prepared for this and fight back. Snyder is eaten. Xander calls on his army-guy training from season two's "Halloween." Buffy, going for the Mayor's human love for Faith, brandishes the knife she used to stab her. The Mayor/snake tries to kill Buffy as she races through the halls of Sunnydale High. Dashing into the library, she runs past the now-empty shelves. (Giles' books have been evacuated.) Buffy dives out the window... And Giles detonates the pounds of explosives they've rigged throughout the school. The Mayor is blown to little snake-y bits. The end of the episode has Angel walking off into the smoke and the Scoobies leaving Sunnydale High forever... Or at least until season four's "Doomed."

There are a lot of good parts to this episode. I love the Mayor and Angel's confrontation in the hospital. They're both so overwhelmed and worried about their respective Slayers that their argument is just great. The Mayor blames Buffy for Faith's coma and Angel has to throw the Mayor through a window in order to stop him from hurting her. And I like Buffy's dream about Faith. The Little Miss Muffit and 730 references will play into season five's story arc. (It's 730 days until "The Gift.") It's also nice that the students of Sunnydale High finally start fighting back against their demons. For once they're not just super-natural victims for Buffy to save. They're adults now and they're standing up for themselves. And Cordy's right, Wes coming back to help the Scoobies after they've made fun of him all season is just so classy. Finally, I love the scene where Angel feeds off of Buffy. It's so seductive and dark and beautiful all at the same time. Wow.

On the downside, I think the snake effects were a little fake. And I am sorry to see Larry die. Also, Angel's exit leaves a big hole in the show that only heals when Spike takes over as leading man in season five.

My favorite part of the episode: Snyder's introduction speech. "This is a time of celebration, so sit still and be quiet."
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10/10
...two for the show!
Joxerlives1 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The Good; The end of SDH (for the moment). The chance to see some familiar faces again and to say goodbye to others. Buffy and co finally graduate into the adult world, if not exactly putting childish things aside growing past them. Great to see the kids of Sunnydale High fight back at last (although has this spoiled the survival record they were all so proud of in The Prom?) Snyder's speech is a definite highlight. It's all terrific and I think we should all be proud to say that we graduated Sunnydale High, class of 1999

The Bad; Are you kidding? Well, one thing that always bothered me was after we see a devastated Mayor visiting Faith in hospital he's awfully chipper when briefing the vamps for the Graduation? Maybe the briefing the vamps scene was supposed to in a different order in the script?

Best line; Willow; "Man, just ascend already!" just beating Xander's 'Good to know that when the chips are down you can feed on the girl who loves you to save your own ass!' Also fond of Oz 'Our lives are different to other peoples'.

Character death; Byebye Larry (although his death isn't confirmed until season 6). Byebye Snyder who quite obviously had no clue what was going on. We see Harmony bitten but not sired? And byebye the Mayor, Harry Groener will be missed, glad we'll see him again a few more times. Cordy bags her first solo vamp.

Shot; Vamps with flaming arrows, western style.

Knocked out; Faith in a coma and Buffy also unconscious. A pained Wes asks if he could he be knocked out.

Women good/men bad; The Mayor refers to Buffy as a whore, a nastily misogynist remark. Buffy says Wes 'Screams like a woman' and compares Xander and Angel to squabbling old ladies.

Jeez!; Watching the Mayor try to smother an unconscious Buffy is awful

Kinky dinky; Angel biting Buffy. The sexiest scene you'll ever see between two fully clothed lovers, once again a vamp feeding is seen as a sexual act with violence as foreplay (the second time Buffy has been bitten by a vampire but by no means the last). Willow loses her virginity to Oz, it's all so sweet. Their van sex proves Cordy's theory about danger being an aphrodisiac. Willow says that its the best time of her life.

Calling Captain Subtext; The entire Buffy/Faith dream sequence is just one huge Buffy/Faith love in, especially Faith's caressing of Buffy's face and Buffy kissing an unconscious Faith. Face it, they love each other, they're meant to be together. And remember it's Faith who gives Buffy the secret of defeating the Mayor. Angel in his delirium also mistakes Oz for Buffy, THAT would have been an interesting conversation! Wes and Cordy's kiss is a disaster, one day they'll love each other plenty.

Guantanamo Bay; Buffy gets Angel into vampface by slapping him around. Is Buffy going to let Angel drain Faith entirely or give him a bit of each of their blood?

Scoobies to the ER; Buffy is taken to hospital for blood loss whilst Wes is carted away at the end.

Where's Dawn? Safely out of town with Joyce. However I think it's no great leap of imagination to say that the cat in the dream sequence is representative of Dawn. Indeed this could be the moment it's decided she's Buffy's sister rather than Faith's, you wonder if there's still some link between the two? Faith remarks about 'Little Miss Muffet, counting down from 730' which of course is 365x2 and it'll be 2 years before Dawnie shows up.

Questions and observations; Goodbye Angel, he makes a fantastic exit. Again, what exactly is the Mayor's plan? He obviously believes in a sort of idealised vision of Sunnydale, how is being a huge snake going to achieve that? Also although this is referred to as an apocalypse it really wouldn't be the end of the world, we've had demons like this before and the world goes on. Also surely the Initiative/Military/National Guard would just blast the Mayor to bits? Xander's soldier knowledge once again comes in useful. Although I'd really have liked to have seen the hummus offensive.

The Mayor says Faith doesn't like to be cooped up, prison must have been tough for her then. Why should Wes leave the country? Would the Council really give up that easily? Shouldn't the hospital staff call the police when the Mayor tries to smother Buffy? There's a great picture of Wes in the Sunnydale High Yearbook asking 'Who is this guy? The first mention of shrimp in the Buffyverse. Anya refers to her car but then in 'Triangle' says it's the first time she's driven? The Mayor says Sunnydale is 100 years old but surely the town dates back to Spanish/American times?

Lot of fanfic based on the concept of 'what if?' the ascension had succeeded. Like the one where WR&H, the Initiative, Doyle, Gwen, Spike, Fred, Warren, Lorne, Tara, Gunn etc team up to set the world to rights, also fond of the monks sending Dawn to Faith as her sister, Glory killing the transformed Mayor in her quest for The Key and Faith killing her then being won back over to the good guys by her little sis' love. Also love Faith realising the transformed Mayor doesn't love her anymore so she goes to the Oracles and turns back time, even if it means she ends up in a coma, 'A Higher Being'

Marks out of 10; 10/10 and no mistake. For me Buffy peaks at exactly this point, it's still a wonderful show for the next 4 years and never jumps the shark but this is the best of the best and we'll never see TV consistently as good as this ever again.
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Takes One To Know One
RyanCShowers9 June 2013
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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9/10
The day of the mayor's ascension is here
Tweekums20 May 2018
Following on directly from the previous episode Buffy has defeated Faith but can't use her to help save Angel; instead she does something radical that puts her in real danger... and ultimately in hospital. While she is being treated we see that the mayor has found Faith; she too is in the hospital, seriously injured and in a coma. Once Buffy recovers she formulates a plan to take on the mayor during the school graduation ceremony... it may not be much of a plan but it is the only one they've got.

This season finale was a lot of fun. We see just how far Buffy is prepared to go to save Angel and that the mayor genuinely cares for Faith; it wasn't just an act to keep her on his side. I liked the fact that Buffy's plan was kept from the viewer right up until it was put into action; that way one could keep speculating on what would happen right up till the end. The finale may have been a little cheesy but I couldn't help enjoying it; the only real flaw was the moment of the mayor's transformation as the special effects looked rather dated. Once transformed he was suitably menacing though. Anybody hoping that Angel would stay with Buffy may be disappointed but anybody wanting to know what happens to him next can watch 'Angel', his own spin-off series. As well as the demon/vampire slaying action there are some amusing scenes; notably when Cordelia and Wesley finally kiss and sparks don't fly. Overall this episode was an enjoyable conclusion to the High School era of the series; look forward to seeing how they cope at college.
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Graduation
Realrockerhalloween2 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The exciting conclusion as Buffy must offer herself to Angel healing his sickness. The mayor's plans finally come to fruition as he gets ready for battle. I really felt for Angel as he suffers from the poison and the guilt he feels for hurting Buffy. He never wanted to harm the love of his life yet forced to in order to save his life. It was also very reckless as the day has finally approached otherwise Buffy would be out of the fight with no one to defend the senior class. The graduation scenes was wonderfully shot as they march down the aisle in red like a lamb to the slaughter only for them to turn the tables on him by packing weapons to take on his army of vampires and the giant snake. The battle scenes feel right out of private Benjamin as they rush them hard shooting arrows and flinging stakes as an army united against evil. The school blowing up symbolizing school is over and the horror plaguing the town was defeated for once instead of ignored.

Another aspect was the mayor's love for Faith as he tries to smother Buffy in her sleep and watching over her bedside. It was also his downfall as he follows after Buffy for revenge and to get the knife back used to put her in a coma. Just like Buffy, she uses his one weakness to distract him ruining his plans and sabotaging his goal of world domination.
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10/10
The One With The Ascension...
taylorkingston3 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I love this episode. It's one of my all-time favorite episodes, and favorite finales.

In this episode, it's Graduation Day, also known as Ascension Day, and Buffy is recovering from her bite from Angel. During the gradation ceremony, the Mayor transforms into his true demon form, during the eclipse, which puts vampires in the mix, including Angel. Buffy and all of her graduating class all have weapons stashed and begin to attack. During the fights, some people die, including Larry and Principle Snyder, and Harmony is bitten by a vampire, presumably dying. Buffy then gets the Mayor's attention by showing him the knife she stabbed Faith with. The Mayor, now a giant-snake-demon, chases her through the school until they get to the library, where she runs outside and Giles blows the school up, with the Mayor inside.

Fun Fact: During the Faith/Buffy dream sequence, Faith says, "Little Miss Muffet, counting down from 7-3-0". This is a reference that hint the arrival of Buffy's sister. The 730 is the number of days until the sister comes into the show.

Fun Fact: This episode shows the first and only time Cordelia stakes a vampire in this series.

Best part of the episode: When the Mayor sees that he's about the be blown up, and says, "Oh gosh."

Worst part of the episode: When Larry dies.

Overall, I give this episode a 10 out of 10, which in my ratings book is: Freaking Ridonkulous.
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