|Written by:||Joss Whedon|
|Directed by:||Joss Whedon|
|Starring:||Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers|
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Seth Green as Oz
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
|Guest Starring:||Harry Groener as Mayor Richard Wilkins III|
Alexis Denisof as Wesley Wyndam-Pryce
Danny Strong as Jonathan Levinson
Larry Bagby III as Larry
Mercedes McNab as Harmony
Ethan Erickson as Percy
Eliza Dushku as Faith
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
|Co-Starring:||Paulo Andres as Dr. Powell|
Susan Chuang as Nurse
Tom Bellin as Dr. Gold
Samuel Bliss Cooper as Vamp Lackey
Sunnydale High students united to defeat Mayor Wilkins.
The episode opened with Buffy on Faith's balcony. Buffy decided to climb down the side of the building rather than exit through the apartment door, which was good, because Mayor Wilkins and a vampire minion just arrived. Wilkins appeared to be very distraught and demanded that finding Faith be top priority for all his minions.
Giles and Xander were trying to research the demon Olvikan when Cordelia entered, demanding a reason why Wesley was leaving the country. She was not happy to hear that Buffy quit the Watchers Council, but she did agree to help research.
Willow was tending to an increasingly delirious Angel. It took a little while for her to realize that he was mistaking her for Buffy. When she mentioned this to Oz, she found out that she was not the only person mistaken for Buffy.
Willow and Oz were busy kissing when Buffy arrived. Buffy kicked them out saying that she wanted to be alone with Angel. However, Buffy really wanted Angel to drink her blood as a cure. For some reason, Angel did not like that idea, but, after Buffy beat on him a little, he eventually was induced to bite her.
Angel worried that he took too much blood. He rushed her to the emergency room and called the other characters. Meanwhile, in a nearby room, a doctor explained the extent of Faith's injuries to a very upset Mayor Wilkins. According to the doctor, some of Faith's injuries were treatable, but her head trauma meant that she will probably never regain consciousness.
When Wilkins heard about another young woman with blood loss, he assumed (correctly) that it was Buffy. He went to her bed and tried to suffocate her. Angel came in and rescued her. He and the Mayor exchanged words before Wilkins left.
Giles, Oz, Xander, and Willow arrived at the hospital. Giles and Xander were a bit upset that Angel fed off Buffy, and Giles suggested that Angel leave before sunrise as the rest waited for Buffy.
Buffy had a dream in which she was in Faith's apartment. [Dream described in detail below.] Buffy then woke up, walked to Faith, and kissed her on the forehead. Buffy then apparently got dressed and walked out to the others. She wanted to gather everyone to prepare for war.
Buffy explained her plan to Giles, Xander, Willow, Oz, Cordelia, and Angel during what would have been a commercial break if this were not on DVD. Willow, Giles, and Cordelia thought that it was crazy. However, Cordelia had faith in Buffy.
The plan depended a lot on Xander's military training, but not in using a rocket launcher. It also involved Buffy being able to control the Mayor. Angel mentioned that Wilkins did not like germs, but it was decided that his affection for Faith might be more useful.
Wesley showed up and offered to help. He did a bit of research and discovered that there will be an eclipse during the ascension, which meant that Angel would have the opportunity to participate. However, it also meant that the Mayor's vampire minions would also be there. Wilkins ordered them to contain those who were trying to run, but they were to kill, not feed.
Cordelia helped Wesley pack the books in the library. Wesley made a very awkward good bye to Cordelia, which led to an even more awkward kiss that pretty much killed any attraction between them.
Larry and Jonathan helped Oz and Willow unload bags of sulfate of ammonia from Oz's van. With nothing else to do before graduation, Oz and Willow decided that they did not want anyone knocking so they set the van a-rocking.
Buffy had returned from getting something important. Angel told her that he was not going to say good bye. Instead, he will just leave after everything was over. Buffy did not want to talk about it.
The graduation ceremony started with Principal Snyder introducing Mayor Wilkins just as Willow arrived. He started to give his speech, but the eclipse started before he got to the point where he talked about civic pride, so he ascended.
This meant that he turned into a giant CGI snake. This started mass panic among the parents as a group of approximately 18 vampires slowly approached from the rear. The students simply gawked until Buffy shouted, "Now!"
The students took off their robes to reveal various weaponry. Some students, including Larry, took up what looked like massive flame-throwers. Others shot crossbow bolts at the Mayor. Three students panicked and fled toward the vampires, so Xander had several students, including Oz, fire flaming arrows into the mass of vampires. The vampires started to flee only to see Angel, Wesley, and at least eight others ready to take them on.
Principal Snyder was very upset that such chaos was going on at his school. He demanded that the Mayor stop, only to get eaten for his efforts. Buffy decided that it was time for the students to flee, so Xander ordered them to engage the vampires hand-to-hand.
Meanwhile, Angel was busy beating up on the vampires, so they decided to charge the students only to find them charging. There was more fighting with Jonathan leaping on a much larger vampire and Cordelia getting to stake another. The only human casualty in this group appeared to be Harmony, who was bitten. Wesley was also lying on the ground, falling the moment he entered the fray.
With the other students gone, Buffy started taunting the Mayor with the dagger she used to stab Faith. She fled into the high school, with the Mayor bursting through walls in pursuit. He paused in a mostly bare library containing the sulfate of ammonia bags. He paused to look at them as Buffy leapt outside through a window. Giles pushed down on a plunger and set off nearly every car alarm in Torrance, California, destroying the Mayor in the process.
Wesley was carried off begging for something for the pain. Xander assured Buffy that Angel survived the fight. Giles congratulated Buffy and gave her one of the blank diplomas from the wreckage. He then started to get very pretentious, so Buffy had to quiet him down. The season ended with Cordelia, Willow, Xander, Oz, and Buffy walking off thankful that they survived high school.
The characters have gone through a lot of pain over the first three seasons. This makes their triumphs all the more satisfying. In this case, it was great to see the graduating seniors, en masse, working together to fight a common foe. Mayor Wilkins never had a chance.
This episode did a lot of stalling before getting to the climax.
Sunnydale High took on Mayor Wilkins and his vampire minions.
I suppose a humorous opportunity was missed by having Angel mistake Oz for Buffy off screen, but the audience's imaginations are probably better than what we actually would have seen.
Wesley and Cordelia had a very awkward kiss.
Buffy nearly died to give enough blood to save Angel, which displeased Giles and Xander.
Angel left without saying good bye.
The Buffy curing Angel scene was not explicitly romantic, but it was not particularly subtle either.
Wesley and Cordelia had a kiss so awkward that it probably should have led to minus points on this scale.
Oz and Willow found something to do to kill the time until graduation, which led to them being late.
Faith may have decided that her tie to Buffy as a slayer trumps all other bonds, if we interpret the dream as coming from both Faith and Buffy. If not, she is simply a young woman in a coma with a poor prognosis.
Wesley is willing to act outside the Council's jurisdiction and help as part of Buffy's team rather than as the leader.
This episode concluded the third season arc.
This episode marked the end of the high school years for the characters. This means that the show will have to reinvent itself.
Unfortunately, important events took place off screen in order to keep us in suspense on how Buffy planned to defeat Mayor Wilkins. This makes it unclear who actually deserved the MVP.
There are three candidates. Buffy's plan was so critical, that I would consider waiving the rule that MVP and the Sherlock Holmes awards generally go to different people. The Sunnydale High students, as a group, defeated Mayor Wilkins and his minions, so they deserve consideration as a group. Xander was their field commander, so he gets credit as well. I am operating on the guess that Xander's key guy role meant that he did a lot of organizing off screen, therefore he gets the MVP for this episode.
Angel knew about the Mayor's dislike of germs and fondness for Faith. However, Buffy was the one who came up with the plan, so she is the clear winner of this award.
Mayor Wilkins would be the obvious candidate as he was defeated. However, he never had a chance. Once it became clear that the Sunnydale High students knew what Buffy had done for them and respected her, she had an army that Wilkins simply could not match. He was simply defeated by a superior foe.
I could make a case for Wesley getting the goat for failing to make a positive contribution in the fight. However, there was little evidence that he was capable of making a positive contribution, and he did not harm his side. Therefore, nobody gets the goat this week.
Principal Snyder might have seemed to be a one-note authority figure/foil at a first glance, but he was a deeper character. He epitomized what psychologists call a "Right-Wing Authoritarian." This means that he is one who tends to submit to their superiors, bully their underlings, and hold traditional values. The last part was not emphasized in his character, but the other two were central.
In nearly all of his interactions with faculty and students, he was the dominant leader. He believed that their role was to do what he told them to do. When he wanted a swim star to pass a class to stay eligible, he made it clear to Willow that she pass him. He enjoyed having the power to keep Buffy out of school and instituted his own conditions when he was forced to take her back. However, in his relations with Mayor Wilkins, he was submissive, almost fearful.
After the death of the touchy-feely Principal Flutie, the important powers probably believed that Sunnydale High needed an authoritarian principal. Most of the problems under Flutie were due to the Hellmouth, not Flutie, but Snyder would not tolerate such an excuse. His job was to keep the Hellmouth under control, and he did everything he could to do so.
Snyder left the show with zero MVPs, zero Sherlock Holmeses, and zero Goats.
Mayor Richard Wilkins III; after the triangle of Spike, Drusilla, and Angel; may be the best major villain of the show. Much of the credit goes to Harry Groener, who took a character who should be ridiculous and made him believable. After all, Mayor Wilkins was a psychopathic 1950s sitcom father. Based on that description, it would be very difficult for most actors to have any idea of what that meant. This was a difficult role, and he mastered it.
His relationship with Faith was especially well done. It gave us the opportunity to see a father beaming with genuine pride at his daughter's ability to murder on command. His interactions with Faith also made Faith seem sympathetic when she was at her most evil. He left the show with one MVP, zero Sherlock Holmes, and one Goat.
Angel Many fans have noted that David Boreanaz has grown as an actor since "Welcome to the Hellmouth." However, so have Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, et al., and they had a huge head start. By any objective measure, Boreanaz is now a good actor. However, when compared with the other actors on the show, he appeared to be weaker. As a result, I never cared for Angel as much as I care for most of the other characters.
Angel was at his best during the last nine episodes of the second season, when he was evil. One thing that David Boreanaz is good at is projecting menace. In a way, I might have preferred it if he permanently lost his soul and made occasional appearances in Sunnydale, like Spike did this season.
Angel leaves the show with four MVPs, five Sherlock Holmeses, and four Goats.
Cordelia started as a comic-relief character who could be counted on to make an amusing self-centered speech or to make an insult to cut someone down to size. Her character started to evolve in "Out of Mind, Out of Sight." She recognized that she was in trouble and the other characters could help her despite her perceptions of superiority over them. We got to see her as someone at least as lonely as the other characters. She just preferred to be lonely in the popular crowd than to be lonely alone.
She continued to work with the other characters and even found herself attracted to Xander. As a result, she moved from simply occupying the comic relief role and became a three-dimensional character. This was especially true in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," when she turned her back on the popular crowd and decided that she was going to be her own person.
The only problem was that her role in the show was now as Xander's girlfriend. Once that ended in "Lovers Walk," there was nothing for her to do. She spent a few episodes doing nothing but hurl insults, most notably in "The Zeppo," but this often felt like giving Charisma Carpenter lines so she can appear in the episode. By the end of the third season, she was allowed to fawn over Wesley, which gave her something else to do. However, it is probably best that this is it for her on Buffy.
Cordelia leaves the show with one MVP, zero Sherlock Holmeses, and two Goats.
Wesley spent too much time as a one-note buffoon to be taken too seriously. Admittedly, he does appear to be skilled at book research, but his terrible people skills and his ignorance of the practice of slaying made him almost a liability for the group. He only appeared in nine episodes and never had a character arc similar to what Cordelia went through. He leaves the show with zero MVPs, one Sherlock Holmes, and one Goat.
Buffy's dream in this episode provoked more speculation than almost anything else in the show. Therefore, I give a detailed analysis here
The dream started with many cardboard boxes lying around Faith's apartment as if someone were moving in or out. A cat jumped on the bed.
"Who's gonna look after him?" Buffy
"It's a she, and aren't these things supposed to take care of themselves." Faith
Faith walked behind Buffy and looked toward the bed.
"A higher power guiding us?" Buffy
"Pretty sure that's not what I meant." Faith
Faith continued walking forward to the sunlight.
"There's something I'm supposed to be doing." Buffy
"Oh yeah, miles to go. Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0." Faith
"Great, riddles." Buffy
"Sorry, it's my head, a lot of new stuff. They're never gonna fix this, are they?" Faith
As Faith said the last part, she was staring out the window. The cat on the bed was momentarily replaced by Faith, as she was lying in the hospital bed.
"What about you?" Buffy
"Scar tissue. It fades. It all fades." Faith
Faith has turned back toward Buffy. Buffy glanced toward her hand. For a moment she saw the bloody dagger she used to stab Faith.
"You wanna know the deal? Human weakness, never goes away, even his." Faith
"Is this your mind or mine?" Buffy
"Beats me. [Both laugh] Getting toward that time." Faith
"How are you gonna fit all this stuff?" Buffy
"Not gonna. It's yours." Faith
"I can't use all of this." Buffy
"Just take what you need. You ready." Faith
Faith walked back to Buffy. As she said the last part, Faith reached out to touch Buffy's face. Buffy then woke up.
The immediate importance of this dream comes from Faith's line about human weakness. This was a clue that Buffy used to fight Mayor Wilkins. Perhaps the most important line of the episode is when Faith said, "Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0." All I will say is that this line foreshadows two fifth season events, and that 730 is 365 times two.
I do not know of any official interpretations of this dream. However, the general mood appears to be that of Faith voluntarily passing the baton back to Buffy. In the dream, she did give Buffy a good hint on how to provoke the Mayor. Her statement that Buffy could have whatever of hers that Buffy needed also suggests support of Buffy. It remains to be seen whether Faith actually entered Buffy's dream to do this or whether this represents Buffy's desire for Faith to do so.
Interview with Joss Whedon covered both parts of "Graduation Day." Whedon described the Angel bites Buffy scene as one of the thinnest metaphors on the show. He said that he gave Alexis Denisof the opportunity to be heroic, but Denisof thought it would be funnier to go down immediately. Also, the explosions helped ensure that they were no longer welcome to shoot in Torrance, California again. There were major spoilers for the first episode of Angel.
"I demand an explanation." Cordelia
"For what?" Xander
"Does he have to leave the country? I mean, you got fired, and you still hang around like a big loser." Cordelia
"Well, it's just good to know that when the chips are down and things look grim, you'll feed off the girl who loves you to save your own ass." Xander
"I personally don't think it's possible to come up with a crazier plan." Cordelia
"We attack the Mayor with hummus." Oz
"I stand corrected." Cordelia
"Just keeping things in perspective." Oz
"Thank you. My point, however, is, crazy or not, it's pretty much the only plan. Besides, it's Buffy's, and she's slay-gal, you know, Little Miss Likes-to-Fight, so..." Cordelia
"I think there was a 'yea' vote buried in there somewhere." Xander
"Faith told you? Was that before or after you put her in a coma?" Willow
"Of course, that's it. We'll attack him with germs." Cordelia
"Great, we'll get him cornered and then you can sneeze on him." Buffy
"No, no, we'll get a container of Ebola virus, 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." Cordelia
"I'm starting to lean towards the hummus offensive." Xander
"He'll never see it coming." Oz
"Remember, fast and brutal. It's gonna be a whole new world come nightfall. Don't wanna weaken now. And boys, let's watch the swearing." Mayor Wilkins
"Today is our centennial, the 100th anniversary of the founding of Sunnydale, and I know what that means to all you kids: not a darn thing." Mayor Wilkins
"This is not orderly. This is not disciplined. You're on my campus, buddy, and when I say I want quiet, I mean... [chomp]" Principal Snyder
"Well, gosh." Mayor Wilkins
"There's a certain dramatic irony attached to all this, synchronicity that borders on predestination, one might say." Giles
"Fire bad, tree pretty." Buffy
There was almost certainly carnage beyond what is listed here.
Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.