Graduation I

Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon

Christina's Synopsis and Review | Perri's Review | SunSpeak

Christina's Synopsis

The gang is enjoying one of the last days of high school, Cordy bitching about the graduation robes and Xander convinced he's going to die in the upcoming confrontation with the Mayor. Willow is already missing everything from the pop machine to Harmony, but Buffy is more worried about the Mayor's still unknown plans for the Ascension. Xander joins them in the cafeteria, and shares that the Mayor is their graduation commencement speaker.


Meanwhile, Faith is across town, making the acquaintance of Dr. Lester Wirth, visiting geologist, who's expecting her, or at least an associate of the Mayor's --- but *not* expecting Faith to pull out her newest knife to kill him with. Right before she stabs him, he asks her why. "You know, I never asked him?" Faith answers, and as Lester begins to scream, we see a Japanese print of a volcano and demons on his wall.

[End teaser and start headbanging--- okay, we're back]

The Mayor and Faith are bonding, with Faith trying on a dress he got her while they discuss the Ascension. It's obvious that the Mayor is very important to the second Slayer, and that given other circumstances (like, not being a psychopath) he would be exactly what she needs. "Nobody knows what you are, Little Miss Seen-It-All. Not even you."

Willow and Oz make their way into school, Willow talking to former tutor-ee Percy on the way. The hacker/witch is weirding out and worried about the coming Ascension, and Oz is... well, Oz.

Meanwhile, Xander's late for class (where the last few days are being killed playing Hangman with a gleeful teacher). Anya begins trying to make some kind of impression on him and fails miserably (handicapped by a thousand years as a demon, and the attendant social skills). After almost hurting her feelings, Xander tries to make it up to her, offering to see her next weekend if he survives graduation, and he lets slip about the Ascension. Anya goes bone-white at the mention of the demonic ceremony....

In the library, Giles and Wesley are sparring with epee's, and Buffy is pointing out an article about Prof. Worth's murder in the newspaper, certain that it's Faith's work. ("I recognize the brushwork.") Suspicious about why the Mayor would want Lester dead before everyone else in town, Buffy decides to investigate, Giles warning her to be wary of Faith, Wesley just trying to keep up with the conversation (as usual). Part of the problem with stopping the Mayor is that they still don't know which demon he's going to turn into, or what the Ascension involves.

... which is less of a problem a few seconds later because, as Xander enters the library and tells the Slayer and her Watchers (dragging the former demon with him), that Anya is the only person living who's been to one. And it's not a pretty ceremony, either.

Anya starts to spill what she knows: that the Ascension involves a human becoming a pure demon, and that 800 years ago in Russia, there were only three human survivors from the last one. Giles points out that the Mayor is only vulnerable up until the Ascension, and after that, they might be able to kill him. Anya disagrees, since they've never seen a real demon--- one without any human hybrid qualities. What's the difference? Buffy asks. "For one thing, they're bigger," Anya deadpans.

The Mayor and Principal Snyder survey the arrangements for the Graduation ceremony, Snyder nervous, the Mayor jovial and understanding of Snyder's anxiety. "Sunnydale owes you a debt. It will be repaid. Yes sir, we'll mark that invoice paid in full!" The principal remains distinctly uneasy as the Mayor wanders off ....

... into the library, where Willow and Oz have just joined the strategy session minutes earlier, where those gathered are trying to figure out *which* demon the Mayor will become. All of the Slayerettes are horrified and stunned at their main adversary's sudden appearance in the BatCave, but no one knows how to handle it. As Buffy hides the newspaper with the article about Prof. Wirth, the Mayor taunts and threatens them until Giles tries to skewer him with one of the fencing foils. At which point, the Mayor calmly removes the sword and wipes the blood away, lecturing him about proper behavior. He exits cheerfully, telling them he's looking forward to Graduation.

Anya freaks and begins planning on leaving the country (or the planet, if she can manage it) and Xander fills in a mystified Cordy as they both cut fifth period.

Buffy goes home and packs Joyce's bags, telling her mother that she can't concentrate on defeating the Mayor if she's worried about her. Joyce reluctantly agrees to be out of town, for the sake of Buffy's peace of mind.

Willow and Oz are researching together later that evening, and Willow begins freaking out again about graduation, then accuses Oz of being Restrained Guy. In direct contradiction of his rep, Oz leans over and kisses her to stop her from panicking. Willow responds, Oz responds to her response, and... events progress. Fade to ---

Buffy, at Prof. Wirth's place, where she runs into Angel, who Giles sent along as backup. None of the notebooks or artifacts are comprehensible to them, so they pack them in a box for Giles and Willow to look at. On their way out, the break-up tension gets to Buffy, who starts to argue with Angel, who's none-too-happy about his impending departure or how they left things after the Prom, either. He throws down the box in a snit, starts to storm off, comes back to yell at her some more --- and is brought up short by an arrow in the shoulder. As a horrified Buffy catches Angel and yells for help, Faith gloats on the roof of the nearby movie theater with her bow. "You missed the heart," the vamp with her points out. "Meant to," she exults.

In the library, while Buffy and Giles treat Angel's wound, Wesley looks over the dead Professor's books, and finds a mention of an enormous carcass found beneath a volcano in Hawaii. Giles posits that it's a demon, which means that there actually may be a way to kill the Mayor after the Ascension. Angel stands up, ready to leave, then falls to the floor in pain --- the arrow was poisoned, and he's starting to feel the effects. Giles and Buffy take Angel home while Wesley calls the Council to ask for their assistance.

Buffy calls Willow for help (interrupting a pleasant afterglow moment between her bud and Oz) and the two hackers go to the school chem lab to search databases and books, looking for ways to treat Angel.

A jubilant Faith informs the Mayor about how well the poison worked, and he is delighted by her enthusiasm. In spite of it, he doesn't have anything for her to do--- he has to ingest the spiders in the box of Gavrok --- so he tells her she's free for the evening, much to her disappointment.

Willow sends Xander to the magic shop for supplies she needs to analyze the poison, and on his way out the door he meets Anya, who's packed and ready to head out of town. She pleads with Xander to go with her--- she's developed feelings for him that she's not enjoying but can't ignore. He tells her he has to stay and try to help, and Anya manages to alienate him in seconds, since her concern for him does not extend to understanding why he wants to help his friends, or caring about them or the world. Xander leaves an upset Anya to go to the magic shop.

Buffy takes care of Angel at his place, until Wesley shows up and announces with some irritation that the Council refused to help cure Angel. Buffy's outraged reaction leads to an argument which Buffy ends by announcing that the Council can kiss off --- she's not following their directives any more. Wesley remonstrates her while Giles expresses his quiet support, then offers to look after Angel while she goes to see what the other Slayerettes have found out.

Willow identifies the poison as Killer-of-the-Dead, specifically used to kill vampires, and Oz finds a notation in the book that explains how to cure it: drain a Slayer. Grimly, Buffy prepares to track down Faith and drag her back to Angel's bedside, despite Xander's worry about her state of mind, while Oz and Willow comb all possible databases for Faith's location... Faith, let off her leash for the evening by the Mayor, kickboxes, relaxes, and kills time at home. As Angel weakens and Buffy steels herself for what she has to do, Willow finds the address for Faith's apartment.

When the original Slayer arrives at the rogue Chosen One's pad, informing her that she's taking Faith back to Angel as the cure for the poison, words are exchanged, and then blows. The fight escalates into a body-slamming furniture-smashing window-breaking slugfest that ends up on the outside roof, the two girls handcuffed together by Buffy, both of them knowing that the fight is going to be to the death.

Angel is still weakening, losing consciousness in his apartment while a concerned Willow and Oz look after him, while Giles has finally narrowed down the identity of the demon. Going to one of his tomes of demonology, he and Xander find the reference --- complete with an extremely large pull-out picture. "We're going to need a bigger boat," Xander grimly comments.

Mayor Wilkins is still in his office, dining on spiders and preparing for the Ascension (and getting his RDA of fiber) when a henchvamp breaks into his ceremonies to announce that there's trouble across town at Faith's place.

An understatement: neither Slayer is holding back any more, each trying to kill the other. Faith grabs a long section of piping to attack Buffy with, just as the first Slayer pulls out the knife that Faith abandoned two weeks before in the Sunnydale High cafeteria.

"That's mine!" "Well, you're about to get it back," Buffy tells her.

Clinching, the two wrestle over the blade, and Faith pulls them closer to the edge of the roof, laughing, "Damn, I'm gonna miss this," just as Buffy breaks Faith's hold on her arm, twists, and stabs her in the stomach. Faith stares in astonishment at the blood welling from her abdomen. "You did it," she mutters in shock, then slams Buffy across the face, pushing the other Slayer away from her. Buffy's still in shock from having stabbed her fellow Slayer, and she stares up from the floor of the roof, stunned, as Faith climbs onto the ledge of the building. "You killed me," Faith says, noticing an approaching truck on the street below. "Still won't help your boy, though." She turns, smiling, dying and in pain, and gasps, "You should have been there, B.--- Quite a ride---" and then Faith lets herself fall back, back, and down --- smashing into the flatbed of the passing truck, which drives away with her unconscious form in the back. Aghast, Buffy watches as a dying Faith disappears in the distance, along with Angel's cure.

Fade to black... and the words "To Be Continued".


Well. Arrrrghhh pretty much covers it. Fairly random, here.... or maybe just backwards.

Was Faith dead? She should've been; a normal person would have been. But we're talking about a Slayer here, and after she pulled Catwoman's Escape, there's no way of telling how dead she was. Major internal injuries, massive hemorrhaging, whatever bones she broke from a two-and-a-half story free fall.... and she's not going to receive medical attention any time soon. But it's still not impossible that she survived.

I guess we'll find out next fall, if a new Slayer shows up. Or next week, if Faith shows at Graduation!

Did the Mayor know that the only cure for the poison was a Slayer's blood? Good question. I'd say yes, because he left Faith free to do whatever she wanted that night, a perfect target, and because he is a detail-oriented kinda guy. On the other hand, the look on his face when that henchvamp came in would seem to suggest he did *not* know what might happen, or at least that he wasn't expecting Buffy to try to capture Faith. Maybe he thought Buffy would give her own life. Right now it's too close to call. But... *if* Faith survived... and *if* she figured out that he set her up... it's not going to be pretty. I've been wanting a payoff to that relationship for a while, and somehow, having him whale on Buffy for getting Faith killed doesn't seem like enough.

And there was that--- killing people is wrong, it's bad. I don't like that they had Buffy deliberately going after Faith like that. Except who else is going to stop her? The Police? She's got the Mayor on her side. Anyone else runs the risk of getting killed themselves, and the Council hasn't been a splendid lot of help, have they? So it's up to Buffy to stop her from doing more evil. That part's clear. Angel's going to die if he doesn't drink a Slayer's blood to the point of draining her. That's clear too. Does that mean that it's right to feed Faith to him? Mmm..... not exactly.

It didn't help that for once, Faith was opening up to the Mayor, and we got to hear more about what she was like as a little kid, and see the person she might have been if anyone had cared about her when she needed it a long time ago. I think Joss did that deliberately. Even after seeing her commit pre-meditated murder for the second time in two weeks, I was feeling sorry for her again. Which is not to say I didn't want her dead when she was gloating to Buffy about shooting Angel. I gotta give Eliza Dushku and Joss credit: Faith is never going to be somebody I have easy explanations and solutions for. I'll bet that she's still alive, and she'll be popping up again somewhere.

That whole relationship with the Mayor has the most *disturbing* subtext. Because I think that he is just weird and crazy enough to care for her as a daughter at the exact same time he's planning to sacrifice her for his plans, and that is just... ugh. Every thing he says to her, the way he listens to her, all the interest he expresses --- she's starved for that kind of attention and understanding. He reminds me of those evil sorcerors in the Arabian Nights, who loved their daughters dearly but still threw them into flaming volcanos or boiling vats of acid. This man is not operating from any plane of reality that has even one point in common with ours. :> Harry Groener is brilliant, y'know?

Not to mention that little scene in the library. EEeeeeeeeeeee! Lizbet's right: the bad guys are not *supposed* to just walk into the library. The Master smashed in, Dru brought thugs with her... having the Mayor just stroll in after looking around the graduation set-up with Snyder was scarier than both of them combined. Willow looked freaked, well, everyone looked freaked--- and I was right there with them. All of them feeling helpless, because he's invulnerable, and he has a perfect right to be there as the Mayor. And he knew how frustrating that would be for them. I _knew_ Giles was going to try to stab him, he was just pushing the man's buttons so hard... He was doing the jaw thing, which I don't actually think I've seen Giles do before, but it set off all my alarms and I was just *waiting* for that sword move.

I also think Anya is going to come through next week as well. The scene with her and Xander was too funny, even while it was almost-sweet and kind of sad. "When I think about you getting hurt, I feel like I want to vomit" just had me rolling. They turned the classic "come with me/I'm leaving you" scene into something *much* more Hellmouthy and fun. She doesn't connect to anyone else yet, obviously, but she might suck it up and help out in spite of that. I loved Willow's "What's Evil Girl doing here?" (I forgot what Anya had gotten her into with VampWillow). Xander just keeps getting involved with women that Willow's going to *hate*, doesn't he? It's never going to change. He'll be eighty, and she'll be shaking her head and rolling her eyes about whoever he's dating from the nursing home.

And how 'bout that Ratings Sweep Moment, hmmm? Gotta give Oz credit for breaking through that taciturn reserve of his at just the right moment. Given that Willow was prepared ---for all practical purposes, if not emotionally --- to do the deed at Christmas, I think we can assume that all necessary precautions were taken. (Okay, I know, I know, terribly unromantic of me; call it my Scorpio side coming out. People have sex, there are consequences. It's comforting to me to believe that Oz and Willow won't have to deal with anything as bad as Buffy & Angel or Faith & Xander, but I like to have the small things like safe sex taken care of, too!)

It will be ... *interesting* .... to see Xander's reaction to this, when he finds out. And I better damn well not get cheated out of that. We saw Willow crying in the bathroom when she found out about Faith, I want a reaction shot of Xander when the truth about his best friend hits him. He's become much more likable again over the last two weeks, but how he handles that may determine where my final vote for Willow's Boyfriend goes. Even if Oz is way ahead right now.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat." Ohhhh, dear. Way too funny. I do wonder how they're going to simulate a BIG demon next week. Not to mention kill it. Something to look forward to!

Principal Snyder is not a stupid man. Principal Snyder is a frightened man. Principal Snyder now has enough information to know that "getting paid" can also mean "getting dead". Who thinks that maybe he's going to volunteer to help the Slayerettes, when the ceremony finally starts? That's what I'm really looking forward to!

Giles. Well, what can I say? The sword, the sweater, stabbing the Mayor, the face-offs with Wesley about the Council................. ahem. I'm back.

On that note, it'll be interesting next year to see where they go with Buffy's continued defiance and Giles's open support, vs. the Council, with Wes getting stuck in the middle. He was genuinely upset about their decision not to help --- I think this is the first time that he's faced that the Council does not have everyone's best interests at heart, and their dictation of strategy at a distance is singularly uneffective and unimportant. He was right, again; they needed to concentrate on the Mayor. Where he was wrong was in thinking that it would actually be *possible* for any of them to do that. As the graduation ceremony gets closer, they will focus on it, because they can do more than one thing at once. But the Council's lack of humanity and sense isn't helping at all.

Buffy's having a rough, rough time of it, as usual. I'm sympathizing with Willow, and her goopy sentimentality about the school and the pop machine and even Harmony, but I can see why it doesn't feel any different for her. Graduation's not as life-altering a change as blowing off the whole Watcher's Council is for her. I'm *very* glad they had her being smart enough to get her mom out of town this time. She really couldn't be reasonably expected to concentrate on stopping the Mayor when her mom's safety was at the back of her mind, and there'd always be the chance that Wilkins would grab her, too.

She really wasn't thinking straight when she went after Faith, that's for sure. Tranq darts and knocking her out in two punches have both been mentioned as better ways to handle the situation. Unfortunately, she's working out her feelings on Faith --- letting hate get in the way like it did with Angelus for so long. Angel has always been her hot button, and with his expected departure, it hasn't gotten any easier for her to deal with any threat to him. That "slaying as comfort food" thing is *not* a good habit for her to get into!

As for what will happen with her and Angel next week --- well, we can speculate all we want from the promos, at least.

I think I'll get one of those little countdown clock for my desktop for Graduation 2. 5 days, 20 hours 'til Buffy.....

Perri's Review

Coming when Perri gets back from MediaWest!


"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Now I'm imagining a whole summer of this. Not. Pretty! EEEeeeeeeEEEEEeeeeeEEEEE!! Ave, Joss, already, mercy, pity, compassion, help... mommeeee!" -- Kiki (shortly hereafter put on some serious tranquilizers)

"Anyhoo... saw Graduation Part 1 last night (No? Really, Anya? Well that explains the subject line!) and if you'll all kindly ignore my sarcastic split personality, I'd like to voice a nitpick in the form of a question. What does decimate mean to all of you? 'Cause I sure as shooting KNOW Joss misused the word in the most atrocious manner. Has that fired up curiosity? Prolly not on this list, since you all red-flagged it and tsked Joss along with me. ... This is the burden of a Classical Studies degree. In ancient times, decimate was when one of every ten prisoners was killed. Hence, the relationship to the number "deca". I seriously doubt the demon was going to kill one of every ten children, and despite how the word is casually used, it still doesn't mean (according to Websters) to kill everything/everyone, but that's how Joss used it. *sigh* You can make the man a God, but you still can't make him check his thesaurus." -- Anya

"I still loved the episode... I jumped up and yelled at the tv in fine fanatic form. Monday, fortunately, is only... ugh... six sleeps away!!!" -- Anya

"Okay, I'm officially freaked. I may have to move to Canada so I can see next week's episode Monday instead of Tuesday." -- Gina

"I found G1 to be a tense, quirky, poignant, taught episode, filled with trademark humor, action, and angst. Now, I loved Becoming 1 last season, but I was disappointed by it. For every good thing about it, I found something that bugged me, it seemed filled with holes and some sloppy writing. Considering Joss was suffering a horrible flu at the time, and threatened not to even write it, I can forgive him. G1 was everything B1 wasn't.... and it's still only the beginning." -- Mary Beth

"The sword scene was *priceless*. And the casual Giles look is interesting -- anyone else notice he was wearing the same sweater that Bizzaro Giles was in The Wish? Kinda creepy, almost. This is his "I'm no longer a watcher" look. I just hope that's where the similarities end!" -- Mary Beth

"I was talking on the board last night with someone who didn't understand -- no matter how kick-*ass* that fight scene was -- why Buffy would waste time with it, with Angel's life on the line -- and her own for that matter. I actually kind of agree with that. She should have tranqued Faith... or shot her with an arrow, too. BUT .... she couldn't. Because no matter what she *decides* to do... she's not Faith. She can't shoot someone in the back. Buffy is an inherently fair person. It goes completely against her nature to kill in cold blood. Making the move she did is going to haunt her for a long time.... but at least she went about it in a fashion that gave Faith a fighting chance. Perhaps Buffy was overconfident -- that she had more to lose, so she would refuse to. She probably thought she'd overpower Faith (and enjoy kicking her around some) and then drag her to Angel and let him do the killing (nice). But it didn't work out that way... and she's going to pay the price. AAIiiiieeeeeee. Is it next week yet?" -- Mary Beth

"I quote The First Evil to Angel (through Jenny): "Sooner or later you will drink from her...." Sometimes, I reallyreallyreally hate Joss." -- Mary Beth

"It's more amazing that Grad1 was *this* good because Joss does have a habit (hell, just about *every* TV show has a habit) of turning Part One into the setup and Part Two into the payoff. WHL 1, Becoming 1, etc, all were weak, both compaired to one-part Buffy episodes and *especially* compared to the closer. This... < breathe > If the payoff for Graduation tops last night, I'm not going to survive. Which will suck, since my tickets for Star Wars are next Wednesday and I really want to go to MediaWest. So many things that happened last night were just... just... *eeeep*!" -- Lizbet

"That boy can panic around me any time..." -- Lizbet on Oz

"Xander is funny, caring, neurotic, and just plain cute."
"And, thankfully, ejecting the pod-person that's taken over his body since pretty much just after When She Was Bad. I never could figure out why Giles didn't do an exorcism..." -- Mary Beth and Lizbet

"Anyone else interested in the scene with Wesley and Giles fencing? (No, I didn't mean interested *THAT WAY*.) There's a certain amount of camaradarie there, I think. As much as Giles wants to dope-smack Wesley on a regular basis, Wesley is the only person who shares much of Giles' past. Giles tends to treat him like an annoying younger brother. I just love it. " -- Lizbet

"I don't have much to say on the Buffy/Angel stuff other than it seemed like the one "plot" thing going on in an episode about relationships. The early scene with the two of them was great. If they were both doing the languishing sighs and pity-me thing, I would be bored. But I like that not only is Buffy pissed of (with reason), but Angel's not exactly being the soul (pardon the pun) of reason. He used up all his reasonableness on breaking up with her; he's not dealing with the results well." -- Lizbet

"Has anyone thought to check if Abby's breathing? I didn't think she was going to make it last night..." -- Lizbet

"The scene in the library... yeeeeeeesh! The Mayor is *NOT* supposed to be there! When he leaned over the table to pick up the book, I thought Giles was going to go for his throat. And then the sudden move with the foil... < meep > I'm not sure, but that scene might be the creepiest in Buffy, barring any Angelus scenes that I'm blocking from my memory."
"ENH!! Scary freaky nifty bad scene!! I'm like... No!! You're not supposed to be here!! The bad guys have their place and the good guys have their place and the good guys can raid the bad guys place but the bad guy doesn't just waltz in the good guy's place in the middle of strategic planning!! It was just *wrong*... and scary. ::" -- Mary Beth

"I do want to rewatch ASAP, tho, to see if there were any condom wrappers amidst the strewn clothing in Willow's room. I don't trust that Joss as far as I can throw him (and since he's a couple thousand miles away, I can't throw him very far at *all*). Considering the traditional mode of infection, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that lycanthropy is sexually transmitted. And that's just the *first* Really Icky Thought that occurred to me..." -- Valerie

"Joss is a genius. He's evil, cruel, sadistic, blahblahblah... but first and foremost, he's a genius." -- Mary Beth

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