"Graduation Day, Part 1"
Written and directed by Joss Whedon

Students, including Xander, and Cordelia pick up graduation caps and gowns in a hallway at Sunnydale High. Cordelia complains about the color of the gowns, having wanted teal instead of maroon. Xander says that he wants to look “respectable” in his gown because he has a feeling he’s going to die in it. Elsewhere in the school, Willow and a random guy sign each other’s yearbooks and Willow cheerfully promises to keep in touch with him. Harmony approaches and she and Willow exchange yearbooks, talking about how much they wish they could have been friends. As Harmony leaves, Buffy approaches and says that she thought Willow hated Harmony. “Yes, with a fiery vengeance,” Willow replies. “She picked on me for ten years, the vacuous tramp.” She says that she misses everything, including P.E., and is surprised that Buffy doesn’t feel as sad about leaving as everyone else does. Buffy says that she’s not planning on going to graduation anyway, since she’ll be dealing with the Ascension. Xander arrives with the news that the Mayor is the graduation speaker, which means that Buffy will be going to the ceremony anyway. She’s not thrilled that the Mayor will have his pick of victims at graduation. Faith goes to a Professor Wirth’s apartment and tells him that the Mayor is interested in some of his research. She then draws a knife (not the one from “Choices”) and tells him that the Mayor asked her to kill him. He wants to know why, but she admits that she didn’t ask.

Later on, the Mayor tidies up Faith’s apartment and calls to her in the other room, making sure that her assignment was completed. She enters the living room in a pink dress and the Mayor tells her that she looks nice: “Any boys that manage to survive will be lining up to ask you out.” She says that it isn’t her, but the Mayor replies that no one has seen who she really is. The Mayor says that the Ascension is Faith’s day as much as it is his and that she’ll have the opportunity to show who she is. “I think of what you’ve done, what I know you will do,” he says. “No father could be prouder.” She worries that she won’t come through for him but he assures her that she will. He then tells her to change her clothes and promises to buy her an icee. Willow arrives at school and is greeted by Percy, who is excited about the B-minus she helped him earn on his history final. He’s also grateful that she didn’t beat him up again like Vamp Willow did at the Bronze (see “Doppelgangland”). She starts to tell him that that wasn’t her, then changes her mind and decides to just say that it was for his own good. Oz arrives as Percy leaves and tries to comfort Willow over their possibly impending doom. She says that they need to find a spell to stop the Ascension, and Oz tells her that they will. Mr. Miller tells his class, which includes Xander and Anya, that they should continue to participate despite the fact that their finals are over. He calls on Xander who says, “Um…E.” Mr. Miller tells him that there’s “no E,” then turns to show that the class is playing Hangman. “They always go for the E,” he says. Anya tries to engage Xander in conversation, wondering if he wants to do something with her that weekend. He’s surprised that, in all of the years she’s dealt with men, she still doesn’t know very much about them. She’s offended by his criticism and he apologizes, telling her that he’s not sure he’ll be alive to hang out with her. He starts to say that they might be able to do something if he survives the Ascension but stops when he sees the stunned look on her face.

Buffy reads an article about Professor Wirth’s murder and tells a fencing Giles and Wesley that she’s sure Faith is responsible. They wonder why the Mayor would want Wirth killed, and Wesley tells Buffy to go to his apartment for information. Xander drags Anya into the library and informs the others that she’s the only person living who has witnessed an Ascension. She tells them that the one in question involved a sorcerer who became the demon Lo-Hash, which destroyed an entire village. Wesley speaks up that he didn’t think that kind of demon was that dangerous, but Anya says that he’s never seen a real demon. Buffy points out that her job is to kill demons, but Anya says that they’re not pure demons but “human hybrids.” Giles asks how they’re different and Anya replies, “Well, for one thing, they’re bigger.” Outside the school, things are being set up for graduation and the Mayor is chatting with Snyder. The Mayor congratulates Snyder on his success as a principal and promises that his “debt” will be “repaid.” Willow and Oz show up at the library and learn that Anya was invited to join the Ascension discussion because of her experience. However, she doesn’t have much more useful information. The Mayor suddenly enters and Buffy hides the newspaper so that he won’t suspect that she’s on to Faith. He glances at one of their books, then tells Giles that he’s going to eat his “spunky little girl” Buffy. Giles stabs the Mayor in the chest with a sword, but the Mayor immediately recovers. He tells the Scoobies that they should be scared and that he’s looking forward to seeing them at graduation.

Xander chases Anya down a hallway and asks her why she’s so quick to leave. She tells him that she wants to get out of Sunnydale as fast as she can before she has to experience another Ascension. He tells her that she might be able to help them, but she says she’d rather live. Cordelia observes the discussion and Xander fills her in. She doesn’t seem too overly concerned. Joyce arrives home to find Buffy packing a suitcase for her, determined to get her mother out of town before graduation. Buffy gives a long list of reasons why graduation is dumb, finishing up with, “And maroon does nothing for my complexion, so don’t argue, okay?” Joyce wonders if Buffy might not have been better off at a different high school. She says that she doesn’t want to leave town without Buffy, but Buffy says that she needs to fight and can’t worry about Joyce while she’s doing so. Willow and Oz do some research in her bedroom but are discouraged not to come up with anything helpful. Willow laments that she’s not a very good witch and becomes somewhat irritated when Oz manages to remain calm. He decides to panic in the form of making out with her. That night, Buffy goes to Wirth’s apartment and gathers some of his things. Angel arrives (slipping in the hallway and making a decidedly un-stealthy entrance), having been asked by Giles to help her out. Buffy tells him that she didn’t find anything; Wirth was a vulcanologist and didn’t seem to be connected to anything demonic. Angel tries to help her out with the box she’s carrying and Buffy resents the idea that she needs aid. They head outside, bickering about having to work together after breaking up (see “The Prom”) and Angel’s decision to leave Sunnydale. Suddenly, Angel is shot with an arrow and collapses. Faith (crossbow in hand) and a vampire minion look down at them from the roof of the movie theater. The vampire notes that Faith missed Angel’s heart and she replies, “Meant to.”

In the library, Giles and Buffy tend to Angel and decide that Faith must have been behind the arrow-shooting. Wesley learns that Wirth was part of an expedition to Hawaii which unearthed the carcass of what was thought to be a dinosaur. Giles thinks that the Mayor wanted this kept quiet because the dinosaur was really a demon. He points out that the Mayor must only be invincible until the Ascension; once he’s a demon, they can kill him. Buffy helps Angel up, but he collapses again, announcing that he thinks the arrow was poisoned. Giles tells Buffy to summon the other Scoobies and take Angel to the mansion. Wesley offers to call the Watchers’ Council to find out what the poison is. Back in Willow’s room, she and Oz have just had sex for the first time and Willow feels different. However, their post-coital happiness is interrupted by a phone call from Buffy. Faith enters the Mayor’s office at City Hall and tells him that she completed her task. He tells her that the next step towards the Ascension is the Ritual of Gavrock - he has to eat the spiders in the Box of Gavrock (again, see “Choices”). He tells her to go home and relax until the next day, but she has too much energy and wants something to do (or someone to kill). He calls her a firecracker and Faith says that her mother used to call her that. She’s pleased that the Mayor will need her at the Ascension and reminisces about being braver than other kids when she was young. The Mayor sends her off for the night and she wishes him good luck with the spiders.

Willow, Xander, and Oz work on finding Angel’s cure in the chemistry lab at school and Willow sends Xander to a magic shop for ingredients. In the hallway, he runs into Anya, who’s on her way out of town. She asks him to come with her, telling him that she sees to have romantic feelings for him. He says that he has to stay to help his friends. Anya mocks that he’ll probably just get in their way, then spits out, “Fine! You know what? I hope you die!” He leaves and she asks, “Aren’t we gonna kiss?” Buffy tends to Angel at the mansion as Wesley enters with the news that the Council refuses to help him because he’s a vampire. Buffy orders him to try again but Wesley tells her that the rules are clear and long-standing. She announces that she’s not going to take any more orders from the Council or from Wesley. He warns that she can’t turn her back on them, but she points out, “They’re in England. I don’t think they can tell which way my back is facing.” Wesley tries to get Giles to talk some sense into her, but he proves unhelpful. Buffy informs Wesley that she’s leaving the Council and that they can figure out what to do until they have to deal with the next Slayer. Wesley tells her that Faith went after Angel to distract her and that her plan is working. He says that Buffy needs a strategy, but she claims that she already has one. “This is mutiny,” he complains. “I like to think of it as graduation,” she replies. She decides to go to the school to help find a cure and tells Wesley to get a job. In the lab, Willow, Xander, and Oz have determined what the poison is but haven’t found a cure yet. Oz finally finds one, but the problem is that it requires draining a Slayer’s blood. Buffy decides that this won’t be a problem - she’ll just get Faith. Willow warns that Faith will die if Angel drains her blood. “Not if she’s already dead,” Buffy replies.

Willow and Oz use a computer to try to track Faith down, finally looking at municipal funds to see if the Mayor used them to pay for her apartment. Xander worries that Buffy is getting in over her head, but she thinks it’s time to take care of Faith. He says that he’ll lose her if she crosses the line and kills a human, but she doesn’t seem to be concerned about that. Willow and Oz continue their work as Faith works out and Buffy prepares herself for their confrontation. Finally, Willow finds Faith’s address and Buffy heads over to the apartment. She surprises Faith by walking in and turning off her music, letting her know that Angel isn’t going to die. Faith learns that Buffy found Angel a cure and Buffy informs her that it’s Faith’s blood. “As justice goes, it’s not un-poetic, don’t you think?” Buffy asks. Faith challenges, “You know you’re not going to take me alive” and notes that Buffy’s “all dressed up in big sister’s clothes.” (This is generally considered to be an allusion to Dawn - see “Buffy vs. Dracula.”) “You told me I was just like you,” Buffy replies. “That I was holding it in.” “Ready to cut loose?” Faith asks. They face off and Faith says, “Give us a kiss.” The fight begins, the two Slayers battling all over the apartment and evenly matching each other. They wind up out on the balcony, where Buffy handcuffs herself to Faith and the fight continues. At the mansion, a delirious Angel asks for Buffy. At the library, Giles gets closer to information about a demon and he and Xander look through a book. Xander unfolds a large picture of the demon and comments, “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” The Mayor’s Ritual of Gavrock (which he seems to be enjoying) is interrupted by a vampire minion who informs him that something’s happening at Faith’s. Buffy and Faith’s battle continues on the balcony and Faith snaps their handcuffs in half. Buffy pulls out Faith’s knife, which Faith isn’t pleased about her having. Buffy stabs her in the abdomen with it and Faith concedes, “You did it. You killed me.” She steps up onto the ledge, which overlooks the street. “Still won’t help your boy, though,” she says. “Shoulda been there, B. Quite a ride.” She falls backwards, landing on the bed of a truck heading down the street. Buffy hurries to the edge and watches in horror as Angel’s cure rides off.

MORAL, or CRAMMING COMPLEX ISSUES INTO A NUTSHELL: Stay off the balcony.

GRADE: B+ Everything happens so fast, it’s like a roller coaster ride.

MEMORABLE QUOTES - Cordelia: “I lobbied so hard for the teal. No one ever listens to me. A lone fashionable wolf.”
Xander: “I like the maroon. Has more dignity.”
Cordelia: “Dignity? You? In relation to clothes? I am awash in a sea of confusion.”

Xander: “I woke up the other day with this feeling in my gut. I just know there’s no way I’m getting out of this school alive.”
Cordelia: “Wow, you’ve really mastered the power of positive giving up.”
Xander: “I’ve been lucky too many times. My number’s coming up. And I was short! One more rotation and I’m shipping state-side, you know what I mean?”
Cordelia: “Seldom, if ever.”

Xander: “Guess who our commencement speaker is?”
Willow: “Siegfried?”
Xander: “No.”
Willow: “Roy?”
Xander: “No.”
Willow: “One of the tigers?”
Xander: “Come out of the fantasy, Will.”

Anya: “Men like sports. I’m sure of it.”
Xander: “Yes. Men like sports. Men watch the action move, they eat of the beef, and enjoy to look at the bosoms. A thousand years of avenging our wrongs and that’s all you've learned?”

“Everybody does seem to be going a bit mad, lately. Faith has something of a head start.” - Wesley

Wesley: “Look over his apartment. Anything of note, report back here.”
Buffy: “I just love it when you take charge, you man, you.”
Wesley: “Uh, we…was that a yes? I have trouble keeping track.”

Xander: “The Mayor is going to kill us all during graduation.”
Cordelia: “Oh. Are you going to go to fifth period?”
Xander: “I’m thinking I might skip it.”

Oz: “Nothing useful?”
Willow: “No, it’s great. If we want to make ferns invisible, or communicate with shrimp, I’ve got the goods right here.”
Oz: “Our lives are different than other peoples’.”

Angel: “Are you mad at me for being around too much or for not being around enough?”
Buffy: “Duh. Yes.”
Angel: “Which?”
Buffy: “What?”

Buffy: “I’m just glad Faith’s such a suck shot.”
Giles: “You sure it was her?”
Buffy: “Well, I’ve narrowed down my list of one suspect.”

Xander: “I got friends on the line.”
Anya: “So?”
Xander: “That humanity thing’s still a work in progress, isn’t it?”


Back to Buffy episode guides

Back to Fun and Games