Season 3, Episode 22 - “Graduation Day, Pt. 2”
Original airdate: July 13, 1999
Project 310 re-watch date: Feb. 14, 2009
OK, so when you rewatch this episode, you can do it like I did and watch it immediately after Graduation Day, Pt. 1, which is perfect, since it picks up right at the ending of the previous episode.
However, back in 1999, because of the aftermath of Columbine, this episode (which features Sunnydale High School being blown up) was delayed until July. I can only imagine how much that must have sucked.
That little bit of history aside, this episode is really good. Because of Faith’s dive at the end of Part 1, Buffy has to give her own blood to help Angel, which leads her to nearly die. It’s one of Joss Whedon’s best directed scenes.
We also get to see the Mayor get angry. It hadn’t happened at all in Season 3, but because of Faith’s disappearance, then her turning up in the hospital, he really loses his cool for the first time. For a character that kept it together for so long, having him get pissed right before his biggest moment was a really nice touch.
The Buffy-Faith dream sequence was pretty creepy, with the flashes of Faith on the bed, the knife in Buffy’s hand, and the cryptic warning about human weakness. It’s also amazing that the thing it that scene with the biggest impact was the “counting down from 7-3-0 part” (a reference to the two years time before Buffy died).
In the lead-up to fight, there’s a lot of hinting as to what the plan is, but they don’t reveal any details on either side, even though we see both the mayor and Buffy laying things out. It’s one of those scenes that seems cliche, but Joss does a good job of handling things. Also, Cordy and Wesley finally make out awkwardly, which makes sure that they’ll have no lingering crushing when Wesley shows up on “Angel”.
As for the big fight scene at the school, well, that’s really what this episode was all about. When you watch the scene, don’t miss the significance of the fact that after years of Buffy helping the Sunnydale High students, they helped her in the end. It’s too bad Larry had to die (broken neck), but there had to be some consequences. Also, Harmony got turned into a vampire, which led to some funny episodes in future seasons. The one thing that bothered me about that, though, is how in all that chaos did Harmony have the sense to feed off the vampire to even get sired? Oh well.
Sure, the CGI Mayor-demon looks like crap by 2009 special effects standards, and honestly, looks pretty bad by 1999 standards too. But it does the job. The only other thing that bothers me about the scene is it doesn’t really look like anyone has any weapons under their graduation gowns when they come in, so they kind of appear out of nowhere.
I love the moment when Angel shows up behind the Mayor’s group of vampires and just starts kicking ass. It’s like a preview of what we’re going to get on “Angel”. He’ like a machine in battle, and single-handedly destroys like half the group. I wish I could fight like him.
Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite random thing about this episode -- Snyder gets eaten. That’s what I call fun. Another random thing about this episode, this time from real life: they filmed the explosion of the high school at like 5 a.m., which really pissed off the people of Torrance, CA, so much so that apparently they couldn’t film there for awhile.
Faith: “Miles to go. Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0.”
(It doesn’t makes sense until two seasons later, but it gives you a little chill when you re-watch.)