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Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 3 E 21 Graduation Day Part 1

Graduation gowns are being passed out at school. Cordelia kvetches about the color of the gown, while Xander's convinced he's not getting out of this school alive. Willow and Harmony sign each other's yearbooks, and Harmony almost sincerely says she wishes they had gotten to know each other better. Buffy has not caught the spirit, however, and says she's leaning toward skipping graduation in order to fight the Mayor. Xander appears with news: I sure hope Buffy can multi-task, because the Mayor is their commencement speaker. The Ascension will take place at the graduation ceremony.

An apartment full of clutter and artifacts. There's a knock at the door, and a middle-aged dude in a cardigan and bowtie goes to answer. When he opens the door, he finds Faith. She informs him she's been sent by the Mayor, so the Professor asks her in. When "Dr. Worth" lets slip that he's alone, she pulls out a jagged knife and stabs him to death.

In class, Anya tries to entice Xander into going out with her, but is not up-to-date on what men enjoy doing. Sports, right? Yeah, that's the ticket. Xander scolds her for stereotyping, then apologizes; he's on edge because of the Ascension. Anya's eyes widen. The phrase rings a bell.

Buffy shows Giles and Wesley the newspaper headline about the murdered professor; Buffy is sure it was Faith, on assignment by the Mayor. They conclude that Worth knew something. Xander comes in with Anya, who has witnessed an Ascension in the past. Anya explains that the demons walking the earth are not pure; an Ascension turns the subject into a pure demon — which, for one thing, is bigger. Suddenly, the doors of the library swing open and the Mayor enters. The gang recoils with terror. Affably, but with an undercurrent of menace, Wilkins says Faith told him that the library was the gang's "inner sanctum." Buffy sasses him for being in love with the sound of his own voice. A slightly crazy laugh from the Mayor, and then he addresses the clench-jawed Giles.

"That's one spunky little girl you've raised. I'm gonna eat her."

Giles grabs a rapier and drives it through the Mayor, who responds by scolding him for setting a bad example in front of the children. As he wipes the blade clean, he promises the gang that some of their deaths will be quick, then chuckles, "See you at graduation." Apparently they're in for one heckuva speech.

Buffy is searching the professor's apartment when Angel arrives (Giles sent him as backup). Buffy tells him that the victim was a "volcano-ologist or something," and she found a stack of reports of his to bring to Giles. Out in the street, Angel offers to escort her back, but Buffy chafes at having a chauffeur; besides, just because they have to work together doesn't mean Buffy has to like it. Angel snaps that she's being a brat — and is suddenly struck with an arrow. We see Faith on top of a building with a henchvamp, who notes her aim is off: she missed the heart.

"Meant to."

Buffy carries the wounded Angel to safety. Wesley exposits that Dr. Worth found a huge carcass under a lava bed in Hawaii. He speculated that the carcass was of a dinosaur, but the gang quickly deduces that it was actually an Old One, which means that the Mayor will be vulnerable again after he's Ascended. Angel stands up, but he makes an oogy face and quickly collapses again. They realize that the arrow's poisoned. Giles decides that they need to move Angel to his mansion. Wesley, trying to make himself useful, volunteers to phone the Watcher' Council for a solution.

At the mansion, Wesley announces that the Council will not help them (it's not their policy to save vampires, under any circumstances), even though he tried to convince them. He blathers on about "orders," but at the mention of that word, Buffy gets stone-faced and resigns from the Council. Uhh...can she do that? Dumbfounded, Wesley tries to enlist Giles' help, but when none is forthcoming, he calls Buffy mutinous. On her way out, Buffy tells Wesley to get a job.

Willow has found out that the only cure for Angel's poison is to drain the blood of a Slayer. Sounds like a plan; Buffy says that she'll deliver one. Duly creeped out, Willow hacks into the city's municipal funds to pinpoint where Wilkins stashed Faith. Buffy bursts into the penthouse, brandishing Faith's old knife. Faith, somewhat impressed, taunts that she's not going to be taken alive. And they're off! The fight takes Buffy and Faith past the living room and through the giant half-moon window, landing them both on a balcony. While Faith is dazed, Buffy quickly handcuffs Faith's wrist to her own.

Wilkins chows down on one of the black bugs while a queasy henchvamp watches. He yaps about the feeling of power coursing through him and his organs shifting in preparation for the remodel. Another minion barges in and tells him that there's trouble at Faith's. Quick! To the Misappropriated-City-Fundsmobile!

Faith manages to break free from the handcuffs. The girls teeter on the edge of the balcony, and Buffy stabs Faith right in the gut. Faith's surprised that Buffy actually did it, but gloats her she still can't help Angel. Faith falls backwards, landing on a moving truck, and is carried away ... leaving Buffy mute with shock and despair.

Tropes:

  • All for Nothing: Percy spots Willow and hurries over to show her the B- he got on his History final. He thanks her for her help and patience, and rejoices that now he can "forget all this crap" after graduation. D'oh!
    • Oz consoles Willow that, on the bright side, Percy might die soon and won't have time to forget it all.
    • Buffy (presumably) killing Faith in cold blood — but failing to procure said blood.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Wilkins taking a stroll around the library. Eek.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Defied when Anya approaches Xander, asking him to leave Sunnydale with her. She tells him she will die if he stays, but he's committed to staying to help his friends, and declines.
    Anya: Fine! You know what? I hope you die.
    [Xander storms off]
  • Book Ends: The teacher prodding his students to play "Hangman" is the same guy from the season premiere urging everyone to "be somber" now they've returned to school.
  • Bowties Are Cool: Professor Worth.
  • Breaking the Bonds: Faith manages to snap her handcuffs in two.
  • Buffy Speak: Anya asking Xander if he's free for "some entertaining...thing." Her sales pitch needs work.
    • Anya confessing that the thought of Xander dying makes her vomit. Xander replies that, "barfy feelings" notwithstanding, he's staying behind.
    • Buffy calling Professor Lester a 'volcono-ologist.. type thing'.
  • Chained Heat: Buffy slaps handcuffs on Faith, forcing them to fight with their wrists chained together. Unfortunately her Super Strength enables Faith to break the chain before jumping off the roof.
  • Closeup on Head: Xander creeps into class late. The teacher snarks that it's good of him to join the class, then reminds everyone that — graduation or no graduation — "This is still a class and everyone will participate." The camera pulls back to show he's making the class play Hangman.
    "Heh heh. They always go for the "E"."
  • Comically Missing the Point: While menacing the Scoobies, Wilkins picks a random book up off the table and intones, "The beast will walk upon the earth and darkness will follow. The several races of man will be as one in their terror and destruction." He coos that the theme of different races coming together is "sweet."
  • Continuity Nod: Percy thanking Willow for not kicking his ass again. Willow is about to confess it wasn't her, but then approvingly tells him it was for his own good.
    Giles: Gavrok.
    • When Joyce spots the open suitcase, she assumes that Buffy's running away again.
    • When Xander claims he is 'short on cash' it could be because he'd just bought Cordelia an expensive dress.
  • Counting to Three / Genre Savvy: Buffy cuing Angel that she's going to yank out the arrow on three. "One. [SPLOTCH!]"
    Angel: I knew you were going to do that.
  • Creepy Crows: Principal Snyder showing the Mayor the graduation setup. The Mayor tells Snyder that he has done a good job, and that Sunnydale owes him a debt for that, which will be paid. Snyder doesn't look at all pleased by the ambiguity of that as ravens caw overhead.
  • Deader than Dead: "Killer of the Dead" (or Interfector Mortis in Latin) is a mystical poison which can kill a vampire.
  • Description Cut: Buffy wonders what other weird things the mayor could have planned for them, and the scene cuts to the Professor's house with eerie music.
  • Destination Defenestration: Buffy and Faith crashing through the terrace window.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: A heartfelt Anya tells Xander that she doesn't want to lose him. Xander declines her offer of escape because, as he puts it, he has "friends on the line." Anya's response is a belligerent "So?" She was doing great until the dismount.
    Anya: Are you really going to be that much help to them? I mean, you'll probably just get in the way.
    Xander: Your stock is PLUMMETING here, sweetheart!
  • Divide and Conquer: The poisoned arrow was Wilkins' idea, as he would prefer it if Buffy didn't interfere with the Ascension.
  • Duel to the Death: Buffy is prepared to take Faith alive, but that particular detail is negotiable.
  • Eat That: Mm mmm, Gavroks.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: Giles manages to both read his newspaper (the headline of which reads "PROFESSOR FOUND MURDERED") and, without looking, fend off Wesley's fencing feints.
  • Famous Last Words: Faith sneers that although Buffy is the victor, it still won't help Angel. Right before she jumps, she reflects on doing the deed "Shoulda been there, B. Quite a ride."
  • Foe Romance Subtext: "Give us a kiss."
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Moments after Angel is struck by the arrow.
  • Gonna Need More X: Giles thumbs through the book, Xander at his side, until he finds a picture of the demon Olvikan. The book unfolds and unfolds as if Olvikan was the centerfold in the May issue of Playdemon.
  • Handy Cuffs: Buffy yanks Faith through her broken window, landing half a flight down onto a balcony. While Faith is dazed, Buffy quickly handcuffs Faith's wrist to her own.
  • He Knows Too Much: Poor Professor Worth. He never had a clue.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Buffy's transformation from "I can't kill Faith," to "why, yes, thank you. I'd be more than happy to kill Faith."
    Faith: Well, look at you. All dressed up in big sister's clothes.
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: Faith, gutted by her own knife.
    • Karmic Death: Not to mention provoking Buffy's wrath by shooting her ex with an arrow.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms:
    Xander: I've been lucky too many times! My number's coming up! And I was short! One more rotation, and I'm shipping stateside! Know what I mean?
    Cordelia: Seldom if ever.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Willow and Harmony disingenuously promising to "keep in touch" with each other. Buffy, wearing a very skeptical face, asks, "Don't you hate her?" Willow is sunny:
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Xander tries to express this concern over Buffy's intention to feed Faith to Angel, dead or alive. She doesn't listen.
  • Improvised Weapon: As Wilkins is chowing down on a Gavrok, another is pinned to his desk with a letter opener.
    • Faith kicks a footstool at Buffy, then sends her flying into a big screen TV.
    • Once she's free of the handcuffs, Faith grabs a length of pipe.
  • Ironic Echo: Once she slaps the cuffs on Faith, Buffy repeats Faith's quip from "Enemies": "Stick around." Only, she means literally.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Angel feeding on a dead, or worse, alive Faith. Xander is scared for Buffy that this is what it has come down to.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Buffy enters Faith's apartment to find Faith lying on the bed facing away from her, the stereo blaring. Rather than sneak up and cut her throat, Buffy turns off the stereo to let Faith know she's there, either out of respect for her former comrade-in-arms or because it's easier to justify killing Faith if Buffy is fighting for her life.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: Professor Worth's excavation of a Hawaiian lava bed.
    Wesley: A-ha! By attempting to keep a valuable clue from us, the Mayor may have inadvertently led us right to it. [sword flourish]
    • Willow tracks down Faith's apartment by hacking into the city's municipal funds.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Buffy says she doesn't need Angel "crowding" her, then complains about him not contacting her since he came to prom. Angel needs a minute to process this.
    Angel: Are you mad at me for being around too much or for not being around enough?
    Buffy: Duh! Yes!
  • Mauve Shirt: Xander parodies the likelihood of his demise in next week's finale.
  • Moral Event Horizon (In Universe): Even after Faith's attempted rape and murder of Xander, working with the Big Bad, kidnapping Willow, and attempting to bring back Angelus Buffy is all for trying to save her. Try and kill Angel, however, and her reaction invokes Nightmare Fuel, detailed below.
  • Musicalis Interruptus (In-Universe): At Faith's pad, where aggressive chick music plays as Faith lolls on the bed, chewing licorice and reading comic books. The music abruptly cuts out, and Faith turns to see a leather-clad Buffy holding a knife.
  • The Mutiny: Wesley cries this when Buffy elects to go solo.
    Wesley: You can't turn your back on the Council.
    Buffy: They're in England. I don't think they can tell which way my back is facing.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The shocked look on Buffy's face after she stabs Faith.
  • Never Found the Body: Faith turns up alive (but comatose) in the following episode.
  • Nightmare Fuel (In-Universe): Xander, in regards to Buffy reacting to Faith's attempt to kill Angel by planning to bring her to be fed on, dead or alive.
  • No Escape but Down
  • Nostalgia Filter: Willow pleads that she can't help it — she's becoming nostalgic about everything. "It's like a sickness, Buffy. I'm missing everything! I miss P.E."
  • Not So Different: Acknowledged by Buffy to Faith before they fight to the death.
  • Papa Wolf: Giles. Mofo runs the Big Bad through with a sword when he threatens Buffy.
  • Perfect Poison / Trick Arrow: Shoot that poison arrow...
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Give us a kiss." Well since she asked, as the script explains Buffy punches her so fucking hard in the kisser it nearly takes Faith's head off.
    • Buffy brings out the knife. "That's mine," snarls Faith in recognition. Buffy invites her to come and get it.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Dr. Worth: Put that away! I'll scream!
    Faith: Who wouldn't?
  • Product Placement: Willow pays for a can of root beer, only to get a can of Coca Cola, which is seen several times in the scene.
  • Rage Breaking Point / Rant Inducing Slight: Oz's eternal cool is not what Willow needs to lean on right now. To his credit, Oz gets that.
    • Buffy's had just about enough crap from the Watcher's Council, thank you.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Anya
  • Security Cling: Inverted; Oz edges Willow behind him in the Mayor's presence. (He remembers her kidnapping in "Choices")
  • Selective Obliviousness: Buffy wants to skip graduation in order to fight the Mayor, and Xander wanders into the conversation. He surmises that the girls haven't heard who their commencement speaker will be. Willow hopefully proposes Siegfried, Roy, and one of the tigers until Xander snaps at her to "Come out of the fantasy, Will."
  • Sexiled: After Willow and Oz have sex, we see that Willow's blouse has been tossed over Amy's cage.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Faith wearing a girly pink dress that Wilkins picked out for her. Wilkins, getting misty-eyed, says Faith is a "vision," but she flaps the hem of the dress and grouses that she feels "wicked stupid."
  • Shooting Superman: Giles, in a case of going nuts with a a fencing prop after the Mayor threatens to eat Buffy.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss
    Oz: Would it help if I panic?
    Willow: Yes, it'd be swell! Panic is something people can share in times of crisis, and we could all die tomorrow so if you would just act like you care—-[he kisses her]—what are you doing?
    Oz: Panicking.
  • Slippery Skid: Angel crashing through the doorway to Professor Worth's office, in a spoof of his frequent Stealth Hi Byes. He fumbles a lame excuse about the hall being wet.
    • Even more hilarious is the boom mic directly over his head. "Not my best entrance." Truer words...
    • Word of Joss says it's a kind of homage to David Boreanaz, who has "a big falling down problem."
  • Start of Darkness: Xander is legitimately scared that this is happening to Buffy when she intends to have Faith murdered, squicked by the idea of Angel feeding off her. He says he doesn't want to lose Buffy in the fight, pointing out that it's not the possibility of her dying that frightens him.
  • Stepford Smiler: Willow chides Oz for joking at such a serious time.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Anya leans over to Xander's desk, Anya suggests that they could go out, or "watch sports of some kind." Xander gripes about her stereotyping and marvels that after flaying men for a thousand years, Anya has absolutely no clue about them..
    Anya: Men like sports. I'm sure of it.
    Xander: Yes. Men like sports. Men watch the action movie, they eat of the beef, and enjoy to look at the bosoms.
  • Tempting Fate: When told that Faith has an advantage over her, Buffy snarks, "'Cuz I'm not crazy, or 'cuz I don't kill people?" Giles allows that both are correct. Buffy concedes he's right; she could never kill Faith.
    • At Buffy's house, Joyce arrives home to find Buffy packing a suitcase for her. Joyce is adamantly against missing her daughter's graduation. Facetiously, Joyce asks, "Is some terrible demon going to attack the school?" and realizes from Buffy's expression that that's exactly what's going to happen.
  • Their First Time / Must Not Die a Virgin: At Willow's house, Willow and Oz look for spells that will help them fight the Mayor, but aren't having much luck. Oz cracks yet another joke. Wrong moment, buddy. Willow begins a tirade that ends with asking Oz to at least "pretend" to panic. Oz grabs both sides of her head and kisses her passionately. "What're you doing?" inquires Willow, already a little calmer.
    Oz: Panicking.
  • Think of the Children!: Wilkins, a rapier protruding from his heart, chiding Giles for being violent in front of the children.
  • To Be Continued / Two-Part Episode
  • Too Much Information: As Anya is recounting an Ascension she witnessed 800 years ago, she merrily gets sidetracked. Again.
    Anya: I was there cursing a shepherd who had been unfaithful. [giggles] His wife had wished that all his sheep would lie with--
    Buffy: Can we get back to the chase?
    • Wilkins heartily giving a thumbs-up to his henchvamp after devouring his Gavrok meal, adding that they're high in fiber. "And what's the fun in becoming an immortal demon if you're not regular, amirite?" Henchvamp just stands there, not especially concerned with regularity.
  • Trouble Entendre: "You don't want to miss my Commencement address. It's gonna be...one heckuva speech."
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend
  • Walk In Chime In: Wesley admonishes that Buffy shouldn't get distracted by Faith, and that their priority must be foiling the Mayor's Ascension. Coincidentally, this is Xander's clue to drag Anya into the library and explain that she's "the only living person who's ever been to one."
  • Waxing Lyrical: Faith's line "Look at you, trying on big sister's clothes" is a reference to the Elvis Costello song "Big Sister's Clothes" on the album Trust. The Season 4 episode in which Faith awakens from her coma, "This Year's Girl" is also an Elvis Costello song.
  • With My Hands Tied: Faith keeps fighting even when handcuffed to Buffy's wrist.
  • You Remind Me of X: In the Mayor's office, Faith is antsy and begs Wilkins for something to kill or maim, and Wilkins chuckles at his "little firecracker." Faith gets reflective, revealing that her mother used to call her that very thing because she was always energetic.
  • You Will Be Spared: Wilkins gloating to the Scoobies. "Some of your deaths will be quick, if that means anything."

The PromRecap/Buffy the Vampire SlayerGraduation Day, Part 2

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