Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 3, Episode 21
Graduation Part 1 Main.png
Air date May 18, 1999
Written by Joss Whedon
Directed by Joss Whedon
Episode Guide
"The Prom"
"Graduation Day, Part Two"
Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy
Nicholas Brendon Xander
Alyson Hannigan Willow
Charisma Carpenter Cordelia
David Boreanaz Angel
Seth Green Oz
Anthony Stewart Head Giles
Guest Starring
Kristine Sutherland Joyce
Harry Groener Mayor Wilkins
Alexis Denisof Wesley
Mercedes McNab Harmony
Ethan Erickson Percy
Emma Caulfield Anya
Eliza Dushku Faith
Armin Shimerman Principal Snyder
Co Starring
James Lurie Mr. Miller
Larry Bagby III Larry
Hal Robinson Lester
Adrian Neil Vamp-Lackey #1
John Rosenfeld Vamp-Lackey #2

"Graduation Day, Part One" is the twenty-first episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and is the fifty-fifth episode altogether. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon. It originally broadcast on May 18, 1999.

While the Mayor prepares for his Ascension, Buffy battles Faith to save Angel's life, needing her Slayer blood as an antidote.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

As Graduation Day approaches, Sunnydale High School enjoys a mellow love-fest as former enemies exchange pleasantries. Buffy has not caught the spirit, however, and others have their own concerns, too. Cordelia is worried about the color of the gown, while Xander fears for his life. The Scooby gang then learns that the Mayor will be the Commencement speaker, meaning that he is not only going to ascend on Graduation Day, but at the ceremony itself. Meanwhile, Faith visits Professor Worth and he thinks she's there to discuss his work, however it emerges she has been sent by the Mayor to kill him. When he asks why, Faith simply tells him she never asked before murdering the Professor.

Old enemies sign each others' yearbooks.

Buffy, Giles and Wesley read about Professor Worth's murder in the newspaper and realize Faith was behind it. Given the fact that he ordered a murder when he was planning to destroy the town anyway, the gang conclude that the Mayor seems to be cleaning up loose ends, meaning Professor Worth must have something the Mayor doesn't want them to find. In class, Anya tries to entice Xander into another date, but is stunned when she finds out about the upcoming Ascension. Xander brings her to the library, where she tells of an Ascension she witnessed 800 years before in the Koskov Valley above the Urals. A sorcerer became the embodiment of the demon Lohesh a four-winged soul killer, and decimated an entire village within hours; only a few people escaped. Anya explains that an Ascension means that a human being becomes pure demon. She tells them that all the demons that walk the earth are tainted—human hybrids like vampires, but that a pure demon is different. She doesn't think this sounds like Lohesh, though, because the rituals are all different.

Just as she says this, the Mayor strolls into the library, putting everyone on edge. He taunts the gang, and threatens to "eat" Buffy. Giles plunges a fencing saber into his chest, but Wilkins (who is, of course, unharmed) simply chides him for showing violence in front of children before departing, promising "one heck of a speech".

Mayor Wilkins: Violent outbursts like that, in front of the children? You know, Mr. Giles, they look to you to see how to behave.

Anya, who has seen what an Ascension is like, plans to skip town, though Xander tries to get her to stay and help. She proposes to him that he could leave with her, and tries to persuade him to come, but he's committed to staying to help his friends, and declines. Buffy is also anxious, and tries to convince her mom to leave town, saying she won't be able to concentrate on stopping the Mayor if she has to worry about her mom. She doesn't want to leave, but Buffy tells her that she can't worry about her mother while fighting the Mayor at the same time. Convinced that remaining in Sunnydale could get Buffy killed, Joyce agrees to leave.

Willow, who is researching in the hopes of finding a spell to stop the Ascension, is nervous, too. To help her relax some, Oz plants a passionate kiss on her and the two make love for the first time. As they lie together afterward, they both agree that everything feels different now.

Oz 'panics.'

Searching Professor Worth's apartment, Buffy runs into Angel. They gather a box of documents, and prepare to take it to Giles. Outside the professor's apartment, Buffy and Angel talk about their relationship and end up arguing. Faith shoots Angel in the back with an arrow, deliberately missing the heart. Angel tries to get up, but collapses into Buffy's arms.

Wesley tells Giles that the professor found a large demon carcass buried in a lava bed. Professor Worth believed that the carcass might be some heretofore-undiscovered dinosaur. Giles thinks that perhaps it could have actually been a demon, which would explain why the Mayor would want to keep this kind of information secret since this means that the Mayor is only impervious to harm until the Ascension; once he's in demon form, he can be killed.

Buffy brings Angel to the library, where Giles helps remove the arrow. Despite the fact that such an injury shouldn't cause much harm to a vampire, Angel starts to get weaker. Everyone realizes that the arrow was poisoned, and Wesley offers to ask the Watchers Council for help.

Buffy quits the Council.

Buffy thanks him, and Willow's afterglow is cut short by Buffy's call for help. Later, Wesley returns and tells Buffy that there's no help coming from the Council... however, it's not that they can't help but won't, as they refuse to help a vampire. He explains that the laws are older than civilization, and the Council's orders are to concentrate on the Ascension, but now Buffy has had enough of the Council and tells Wesley that she won't be taking any more orders from him or them. Wesley tells her that this is mutiny, she responds that she thinks of it as graduating and tells her now-former Watcher to "get a job".

The Mayor sends Faith home and prepares for the Ascension by performing the Ritual of Gavrok, which requires eating the giant spiders in the Box of Gavrok. Willow, meanwhile, has figured out what the poison is—its Latin name translates to "killer of the dead." Oz tells the gang that vampires can only survive the poison by draining the blood of a Slayer. Buffy is fine with that, and intends to allow Angel to drain Faith. When Willow points out that doing so would kill her, Buffy tells her that it won't, "... if she's already dead." Xander later tries to talk Buffy out of it, but it's clear that Buffy isn't fooling around and fully intends to kill her enemy, and takes the knife that Faith had left behind in the school.

Willow and Oz, still reveling in the new stage of their relationship, locate Faith's apartment. Buffy arrives at Faith's apartment, where Faith gloats over the poisoning of Angel happily admitting it was her idea. Buffy then tells her that he can be cured by her blood. Faith isn't scared, warning Buffy she'll never take her life but Buffy tells her that won't be a problem. Faith is impressed that Buffy is stepping up, and asks her if she's ready to cut loose.

Mayor eats Gavrok spider

While the Mayor is finishing his ritual by eating the Gavrok spiders, a vampire bursts in the room. The Mayor is upset asking why he didn't knock during dark rituals, until the vampire tells the Mayor that there's trouble at Faith's place.

Buffy punches Faith. Faith punches her back. They assume their fighting stances and a knockdown-drag out battle to the death ensues. The fight takes the Slayers all over Faith's apartment and crashing out of her window and onto the rooftop. When they land, Buffy slaps a handcuff onto Faith's wrist with the other cuff attached to her own. The battle continues between the two handcuffed Slayers until Faith breaks the chain on the handcuffs and grabs a long steel pole while Buffy pulls out Faith's dagger.

Faith sees her blade and says: "That's mine" to which Buffy responds: "You're about to get it back". Enraged Faith strikes at Buffy with the pole, with Buffy dodging the attack. Buffy then slashes at Faith twice. Faith dodged the first slash and caught Buffy's arm in the second attempt, grabbing her nemesis and throwing her a few feet to land on top of the building's central cooling unit at the roof's edge. Faith prepares to throw Buffy from the rooftop but Buffy breaks free of Faith's grip and plunges the knife into her abdomen.

Buffy watches Faith leave with the blood Angel needs

Both Slayers are more than a little shocked. "You did it", says Faith to a horrified Buffy, before delivering a powerful backhanded punch to Buffy's face- knocking her several feet backward to land on her back- barely conscious. "You killed me", Faith goes on. Then, noticing an approaching flatbed semi-truck, Faith steps onto the ledge and continues, "Still won't help your boy, though. You should've been there, B. Quite a ride." Faith then falls back off the roof and into the passing truck.

Buffy rushes to the ledge and sees the truck drive away with Faith, who she believes is dead, as well as the blood Buffy needed to cure Angel.

Continuity[edit | edit source]

  • Buffy vows Angel will be her "last office romance", but instead, she will go on to establish relationships with Riley and Spike.
  • This is the first time since "Ted" that Buffy has intentionally attempted to kill another human — she previously cut off Gwendolyn Post's arm — and the first instance where it could be considered consciously premeditated. Despite Faith's actions, Buffy's reaction after stabbing Faith is reminiscent of the reaction she had when she thought she'd killed Ted.
  • When Anya returns to the school to ask Xander to run away with her she tells him that her car is just outside and they can take turns driving. However, in season five, during the episode "Triangle", it is revealed that Anya is unclear about driving. She still demonstrates her ability to drive in the episode and it may be perceived that she is still new to the concept in this episode.
  • Buffy tries to convince Wesley to help her by telling him that "this is about watching my lover die". Wesley would later watch his own lover die in his arms.
  • Willow comments that she’ll miss the Sunnydale High soda machine which never gives her the drink she chooses, possibly as a result of being bashed about by Buffy in Halloween and Xander in The Zeppo. This is an in-joke as fans had pointed out that it actually dispenses types of soda cans that aren’t amongst the choices available on the selection panel.
  • Willow became the fourth Scooby Gang member to lose their virginity in the series, (Oz was said to have had sex before by Willow and himself), after Cordelia (mentioned in Bad Eggs), Buffy (in Surprise), and Xander (in The Zeppo).
  • This is the first episode in where Buffy apparently intends to kill a human being; however, it is unknown how far she would have gone because, while she did indeed stab Faith in a heated fight, she was shocked and surprised at her actions. And had Faith not jumped, it is unknown whether or not Buffy would have actually taken her to Angel or allowed him to drain her. Later in the series, Buffy has killed numerous humans, despite her rule of not doing so; the knights of Byzantium and Caleb are amongst her victims.
  • This is the only episode where Anya had interaction with Wesley.

Body Count[edit | edit source]

  • Lester Worth, stabbed by Faith
  • At least 2 Gavrock spiders, eaten by Mayor Wilkins

Behind the Scenes[edit | edit source]

Broadcast[edit | edit source]

  • During the original airing of this episode, the first trailer for Angel was shown. It lasted only four seconds with David Boreanaz turning towards the camera and the words "Angel. This Fall" appearing.

Pop Culture References[edit | edit source]

  • On seeing an illustration of the mayor's eventual demon form, Xander quoted 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'.
  • Faith's line "Look at you, all dressed up in big sister's clothes" is a reference to the Elvis Costello song "Big Sister's Clothes" on the album Trust. Since Joss was said to have planned much of the show out early on, this could be a subtle reference to Buffy becoming a big sister later on.

Goofs, Bloopers & Continuity Errors[edit | edit source]

  • When Buffy and Faith are fighting in Faith's apartment, we see Faith kick Buffy into the big screen television. At that point there is nothing on the floor. In the next shot, there is debris scattered on the floor in front of the television.

International Titles[edit | edit source]

  • French:  La cérémonie - partie 1 (The ceremony - part 1)
  • German: Das Blut der Jägerin (The Blood of the Slayer)
  • Italian: La sfida (1ª parte) (The Challenge - 1st part)

Music[edit | edit source]

  • Spectator Pump - "Sunday Mail" (played when Faith is relaxing on her bed)
  • Christophe Beck - "Faith's End"
  • Christophe Beck - "Poison Arrow"

Other[edit | edit source]

  • Buffy's costume during the climatic fight with Faith (black shirt and red pants) became a signature outfit, more often associated with the character in popular culture (such as cosplays and fan art). For example, the Buffy wax figure at Madame Tussauds sports a similar outfit.
  • According to stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt, stunt double Sophia Crawford was uncomfortable with Buffy's signature red leather pants, since she felt they were preventing her from kicking freely.
  • This episode is included in The Slayer Collection: Faith DVD.
  • On the DVD, in the commentary of this episode, they explained how the Gavrok that the Mayor was shown eating was made of licorice that had been molded specifically to look like the spider legs.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

Willow: "I'm going to miss her."
Buffy: "Don't you hate her?"
Willow: "Yes, with a fiery vengeance. She picked on me for ten years. Vacuous tramp... It's like a sickness, Buffy. I'm missing everything. I miss P.E.!"
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 movie, they eat of the beef, and they enjoy to look at the bosoms. A thousand years of avenging our wrongs, and that's all you've learned?"
Wesley: "I'm sorry, uh, Lohesh was a four-winged soul killer, am I right? I was given to understand that they're not that fierce. Of all the demons we've faced..."
Anya: "You've never seen a demon."
Buffy: "Uh, excuse me, killing them professionally four years running."
Anya: "All the demons that walk the Earth, are tainted, are human hybrids, like vampires. The Ascension means that a human becomes pure demon. They're different."
Giles: "Different?"
Buffy: "How?"
Anya: "Well, for one thing, they're bigger."
Anya: "When I think that something could happen to you, it feels bad inside, like I might vomit."
Xander: "Welcome to the world of romance."
Anya: "It's horrible. No wonder I used to get so much work."
Xander: "Well, I'm sorry I give you barfy feelings."
Anya: "Come with me."
Xander: "I can't."
Anya: "Why not?"
Xander: "I got friends on the line."
Anya: "So?"
Xander: "That humanity thing's still a work in progress, isn't it?"
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