Directed by Joss Whedon
Graduation robes 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: He sure hopes 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.
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.
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 of the Box of Gavrok 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.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: The Mayor strokes Faith's hair during one of his surrogate daddy moments. Oz does the same to Willow while she's working at her computer; Willow practically swoons.
- All According to Plan: Faith is eager for some action and asks the Mayor if there's likely to be any fighting during his Ascension. The Mayor replies no, not if everything goes according to plan "but since when do things go according to plan?"
- 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.
- Annoying Arrows: Justified and then subverted: Angel gets an arrow through the chest, and Giles is seen cutting off the feathered shaft before Buffy pulls it out of his chest. Painful as it is, Angel isn't bothered at first thanks to his Healing Factor — unfortunately the arrow was poisoned.
- Back for the Finale: In a narrative sense, as Cordelia properly made amends with Xander in the previous episode and officially returns to the inner circle of the Scooby Gang as a result.
- 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]
Anya: Aren't we gonna kiss??
- Black Comedy Rape: See Too Much Information. Anya was down for any kind of curse back in the day.
- 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.
- 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.
- Counting to Three: 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.
- Defector from Decadence: After the shit-storm that occurred with her Cruciamentum back in "Helpless," the Watchers' Council's refusal to help Buffy Find the Cure! for a poisoned Angel because he's a vampire puts the final nail in the coffin; she declares she's done following their orders.Buffy: Wesley, go back to your Council and tell them, until the next Slayer comes along, they can close up shop. I'm not working for them anymore.
- 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.
- Anya says that the demon the Mayor is turning into will be a lot bigger than they're used to. Cut to the Mayor discussing the placement of the students, quite a few rows back from the podium where he'll be speaking.
- 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.
- Double Entendre:Angel: I don't get you.
Buffy: No you don't; not any more.
- Duel to the Death:Faith: Come to get me? You gonna feed me to Angel? You know you're not going to take me alive.
Buffy: Not a problem.
- Eat That: Mm mmm, Gavroks.
- Exactly What I Aimed At: Faith decides to distract Buffy from the Mayor's Evil Plan by shooting Angel with an arrow coated in slow-acting poison.Mook: Missed the heart.
Faith: Meant to.
- 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.
- Foe Romance Subtext: "Give us a kiss."
- Forensic Accounting: The Scoobies track down Faith this way, by finding the apartment the Mayor has rented for her.
- Willow is surprised that Evil Girl is sitting in on their planning session; Anya eventually becomes a Scoobie herself.
- Buffy tells Wesley to "get a job" after she quits working for the Watcher's Council. In Angel after it's revealed he's been fired for this debacle, Wesley gets a job with Angel Investigations.
- 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.Xander: We're gonna need a bigger boat.
- 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: Faith murders Professor Worth in his office, seemingly at random. We later learn that the doctor excavated the fossilized remains of an Old One, which puts Buffy on the trail of the Mayor's weakness.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Buffy wears the Red Leather Pants of Blood-Letting when going to kill Faith.
- 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.
- High-Dive Escape: After being stabbed by Buffy, Faith knows Buffy needs her blood to heal Angel and convinced her stab wound is fatal, she gets a final f—k you to Buffy by falling backwards off of the roof onto the back of a passing truck, to prevent her getting Faith's blood.
- Hoist by Their Own Petard: Faith, gutted by her own knife. 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.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Wesley is correct; Faith did poison Angel to distract Buffy and keep her from interfering with the Ascension.
- 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.
- Faith. Despite working with the Mayor, she's so far balked at some of the more evil aspects of what he's doing (when she thinks she's being asked to kill Willow in Doppelgangland, and her general reaction to the Gavrok spiders in Choices), and her two human kills have been an entirely accidental staking of the Deputy Mayor and ambushing the courier who brought the Box of Gavrok to the Mayor (who was presumably not exactly a White Hat). In this episode, she not only kills an entirely innocent man in cold blood, she actually seems to enjoy doing it.
- 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]
Buffy: What page are you on, Wes? 'Cause we already got there.
- 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.Faith: Is he dead yet?
- 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.
- 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: Faith jumps off the roof of her apartment building to escape Buffy and lands on the top of a truck, but the landing knocks her unconscious. Having a gaping stomach wound doesn't help...
- The Nose Knows: After demonstrating his invulnerability, Wilkins wipes off the sword that was stuck in his chest and says, "I smell fear. That's smart."
- 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" Remark: Acknowledged by Buffy to Faith before they fight to the death.Buffy: You told me I was just like you. That I was holding it in.Faith: Ready to cut loose?Buffy: Try me.Faith: Okay then. Give us a kiss. (Buffy punches her in the jaw)
- Oh, Crap!: Giles and Xander's reaction when they see that a book illustration of the demon the Mayor will ascend into, folds, a clear hint of the massive size of the creature.
- Papa Wolf: Giles. Mofo runs the Big Bad through with a sword when he threatens Buffy.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: When Buffy realises that a slayer's blood is the only thing that can cure Angel, she decides that it's the perfect punishment for Faith to be the one who's fed to him.
- Perfect Poison: Shoot that poison arrow... ♪
- Pet the Dog: Wesley immediately offers to try to find if there's a cure for Angel without any prompting.
- 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:
- 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.
- Revealing Cover-Up: Lampshaded by Wesley, but Faith is savvy enough to plan an ambush, knowing Buffy and Angel will come to look over the office of the vulcanologist she killed.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Wesley officiously orders Buffy to do what she was planning to do anyway.Buffy: I just love it when you take charge, you man, you.Wesley: Err, umm, was that a yes? I have trouble keeping track. (Giles tries not to laugh)
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Anya decides that leaving town is her best option before the big fight with the Mayor.
- 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 fencing prop after the Mayor threatens to eat Buffy.
- Shout-Out: On seeing an illustration of the mayor's eventual demon form, Xander quotes the famous line from Jaws, "We're going to need a bigger boat". He also paraphrases Private Hudson from Aliens stating he was 'Getting short'.
- "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?
- 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.
- Annoyed that she has to work with Angel even after he's dumped her, Buffy says "This will be my last office romance, I can tell you that." She does try to stick to this, but in vain.
- Played for Drama when Buffy starts shouting to Angel that she can't have him in her life, only for Angel to cop an arrow through the chest.
- Their First Time: 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.
- The Last Of These Is Not Like The Others:
- Buffy goes on a rant about how meaningless the Graduation Day ceremony is, ending with the fact that maroon does nothing for her complexion. She tells Joyce how she wishes she could be something different for her, "a great athlete, a star pupil, remotely normal..."
- "I can feel the changes begin. My organs are shifting, changing, making ready for the Ascension. Plus these babies are high in fiber."
- Think of the Children!: Wilkins, a rapier protruding from his heart, chiding Giles for being violent in front of the children.
- Title Drop: Several, but one obvious one:Wesley: This is mutiny!
Buffy: I prefer to think of it as graduation.
- 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."
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: The Watchers' Council refuses to help the Scoobies cure Angel on the grounds that he's a vampire, and it's against their policy to cure vampires under any circumstances.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: When Faith poisons Angel and the only cure is for him to drain a slayer, Buffy doesn't even hesitate in hunting her down so she can feed her to him. Even her friends are worried she's going too far.
- Visible Boom Mic: There's a very apparent boom mike in the first shot of Joyce in this episode.
- Visual Pun: Faith fires her arrow at Angel from a neon sign saying SUN (on top of the Sun cinema). Sun of course being fatal to vampires.
- 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 cue 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."