Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | February 13, 2012

Podcast #55: Graduation Day (1)

Here’s the podcast for Season 3, Episode 21 – Graduation Day (1)

She did it

She did it

Download: Graduation Day (1)

RSS Feed: The Buffy Rewatch

The next podcast will appear on Monday 20th February 2012 for episode twenty two of Season Three: “Graduation Day” Part Two. That’s the one right after this one 🙂

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    After the prom, where all the students came
    together to honor Buffy as a protector, in this
    episode Buffy is able to share her burden with
    the rest of the graduating class.

    It’s thrilling seeing the whole class take their
    robes off and fight back as an army. Some
    smaller characters we’ve come to love, or
    hate, take your pick, such as Larry and Harmony,
    get killed.

    I feel it’s the perfect way for the season to end.
    There’s something satisfying about seeing vampires
    being killed by flaming arrows and the school blowing
    up. The metaphor comes through beautifully: high
    school is over, time to ‘destroy’ all that fear, annoyance,
    and isolation. It’s time to move on.

    This is an excellent episode that caps off a great
    season. Buffy says, “If someone could just wake me
    when it’s time to go to college, that’d be great.”
    Sounds great Buffy, we’ll see you there!

    P.S – Cordy staked her first vampire!
    P.S.S – Faith’s not dead, yay!

  2. Hey guys,
    On Graduation Day part 1 – I enjoyed the episode overall, it was really fun to watch! My only gripe with it was Faiths ridiculous speech after Buffy stabbed her. It was almost as hilarious as Paul Reubens death scene in the original Buffy movie. Come on Faith! Die already! Am I alone in this?
    Love the show and thanks for not spoiling future episodes.
    – Sam
    Austin, TX

  3. Hi Robin and Cordia – love the podcast. One of the things I like best about Buffy is Xanders one liners. Graduation day part 1 has his all time best – he’s waiting to hear what will cure Angel and says ‘Come on guys, the suspense is killing Angel.’ Thanks for the podcast guys. Richard. Melbourne Australia.

  4. There are some really great moments during this episode. Some that made me laugh and some that made me cry!  For starters I loved it when Angel thought Willow was Buffy and then Oz’s revelation that he made the same mistake with him. Very funny I crack up every time. I thought that is was so touching that Buffy takes hardly anytime to decide to feed herself to Angel. She see that Faith is out of the question so  goes  straight to Plan B. 

    When Angel is feeding on her it seems to take a LONG time! In contrast to other examples of feeding we have seen (Teresa, magick shop owner and smoking lady in innocence). I remember shouting at the tv when I first saw this. “That’s enough!”. Also Buffy seems to really enjoy the feeding. Her body language seem to be like she is having sex even building to a kind of climax when she kicks the bench. It seems this is the only sensual act that the two can participate in with out loosing Angels’ soul.  I read an article once about the idea that vampires are perceived as sex symbols because, with out too much detail, feeding is another way to penetrate. This is illustrated well here.

    I loved the gangs response to Angel when they realise what has happened. Especially Giles. His love for Buffy is all that stops him from hurting Angel. 

    One thing I didn’t like it the way that it looks like the nurses have straightened and styled Faith’s hair in the hospital it annoyed me!

    The end of the episode is amazing and I like that it  became about the whole town coming together rather than one girl against a big snake. It gives me goosebumps to see Xander leading the troops and Larry (RIP) with the flame thrower. We loose so many characters in this final scene Larry, Snyder, Harmony. It could defiantly be the end of the whole series  because so much is wrapped up. They even ‘nuke the school’ which was originally Xander suggestion in ‘I only have eyes for you’ . A fantastic finale for a somewhat shaky season!

  5. While my whole review of Graduation Day will come later in the week, I have to write about Rob’s awesome assessment of Faith and the Mayor. First of all I love that framework and it makes me really understand the characters, but I wanna address Faith, so consider this my prelude to my Graduation Day Part 2 Review.

    I really do think the problem with Faith is we don’t know anything about her before she comes to Sunnydale. If we had gotten a Faith flashback episode of who she was before she was activated as a slayer and we were shown that she needs a authority figure. I know Gwendolyn Post was supposed to show us this but I think we would have a better idea of who Faith if she had told Buffy this is what my life was like or someone from Faith’s past shows up (so many useless episodes could have been replaced this season with this kind of episode) then it would make sense why she turns to the Mayor as a new authority figure. I think the writers have a complex psyche worked out for her but we don’t have that information, we just aren’t getting it.

    And I think the Mayor can be threatening without being physically threatening but like you guys said on the podcast we need someone awesome like Rob to explain the Mayor and make his wackadoodle actions have some degree of logic.

    • Graduation Day Part 2

      The Good:

      I said last week that I remember Graduation Day as one of my favorite finales of Buffy and I’m happy to say that my opinion really hasn’t changed that much in the few months since I first saw this episode and now. I certainly didn’t get the exact same nerdgasm feeling watching Xander command a troop of students and the blowing up off the school this time around but that’s only because I knew it was coming. I definitely did get that whole geeky tingly feeling though watching the students rip off their robes (that sentence just went somewhere awful…) Anywho the battle is a lot shorter and less intense than my memory but it’s still amazing considering the time and everything else that was on television at the time, sure the mayor ascended form isn’t the most realistic, but I have long stopped looking for Buffy monsters for their realism and begin to revel in 90’s nostalgia (I may have been seven when this episode aired but I still have my fair share of 90’s memories. The best part of this finale is it really does act like a series finale and that last scene with the kids could be an awesome way to end the series, more on that later though.

      Let me however talk about Angel for a minute, bet you guys are surprised I’m discussing Angel, huh? I will say this Angel on Buffy is not the most developed and amazing character in the world, but from the very beginning I have always found Angel interesting as a character in concept. The fact that he is this vampire with a soul who he is trying to be a “good guy” but at the end of the day he is a vampire and no one really trusts him as a result. Xander really could earn some douche points this week for what he says to Angel in the hospital but it’s completely understandable reaction because no one besides Buffy and Angel know what happened when he drank her (by the way that whole sequence is way too weirdly sexual for me). But it’s completely reasonable to me that Xander and it appears to be Giles as well think that Angel did, even if it was reluctant, chose to drink Buffy’s blood, I don’t think that is the case. My reading of the scene is that Angel vamp self is part animal and Buffy brings it out with the violence and then the human part of Angel even though he has a soul gets taken over by the vampire side of him desire to be alive. I fully believe that if vampire side of Angel hadn’t taken over the human side of Angel would have let Buffy live, but that’s why I find Angel so fascinating as a character because of this literal demon inside him.

      Now that I’m done my Angel rant, I have to talk about something I didn’t remember about this episode how funny it was; I did of course remember the humus defense which I really think they should have tried for at least one demon. I just want to see how it would work. I also remember Welsey and Cordelia’s wonderfully awkward kiss, especially added in with the lines before it which make you think it is going to be this romantic clichéd kiss. The things I didn’t remember where Oz’s little lines scattered throughout the show, his “You, too?” after Willow told him that Angel thought she was Willow actually made me laugh out loud. Now I need to see a scene with Angel hitting on Oz, god my talk of the excitement I felt when the students ripped off their robes and now my desire to see an Angel/Oz scene this is turning into my most homo-erotic review ever.

      The Bad:
      I don’t think there is necessarily anything bad about this episode. My only qualms are I’m not a big fan on the Mayor saying “Well Gosh” in demon form I think it’s quite plainly dumb. I didn’t need Snyder whining when the Mayor was ascended in his best Dolores Umbridge impression “I will have order!” and I did need Wesley to be such a helpless jerk in the final battle (this may just be a personal bias for spoiler-ferric reasons).

      The I Hate Dream Sequences in Movies and TV Because They Make Me Feel Dumb:
      As the title of this section suggests, I’m not a fan of dream sequences especially when they are filled with all these hidden messages because they go right over my head because I’m stupid. There is something cool going on Faith and Buffy’s coma dream there but I don’t know what it is and hopefully you guys or somebody awesome will figure it out but I do like seeing Faith and Buffy play off each other in a friendly capacity there. Faith and Buffy do have some really good chemistry and no Buffy/Faith shippers I don’t mean in that way.

      Other Things That Make Me Go Huh?
      I went to an extremely small high school but I’m pretty sure that my graduating class was bigger than Sunnydale’s because they do appear to be particularly small, let’s just say it’s because everyone has been dying off though. Also there about 15 pairs of parents there, let’s just assume they are all dead too or many Sunnydale isn’t as widely populated as we all think.

      Favorite Moment:
      Like I said that moment with Oz, Willow, Buffy, Xander and Cordelia after the battle is over, its pitch perfect Buffy. I had a fantastic high school experience, for the most part anyway, but I love the line Oz’s line about surviving high school. I wish I could be more eloquent but like the dream sequence proves I am rather dim.

      P.S. I was legitimately wondering what happened to Sarah so I was really happy to hear her voice on the last podcast.

      • Aren’t we so glad I’m back to being windy, wordy and awkward?

      • I can’t believe I forgot to mention Cordelia’s plan to chase the Mayor with ebola, it may be the funniest line Cordy has ever had on the show.

  6. I’m on a business Trip at the moment, so just a few thoughts:
    Grad.day1: My fave scene is when Angel slips entering the proffessors appartement and his “I think they were moppin the halls”..I can laugh at this every time on’s so unexpected and I wonder if this scene was in the script or just happened by chance

    The prom:
    I like the Xander/Cordelia story. But I need some translation help: what does ‘duh’ mean?Cordelia says it when Xander tells her she looks good in her new dress. I couldn’t find a translation that makes sense.

  7. I have one thing to say about Graduation Day part 2. Having been only six when Buffy first aired, I really wasn’t aware of it until much later. I only started watching Buffy in October of 2011, and I really liked it, but wasn’t quite as into it as I tend to be with shows I really like. I did not feel that compulsion to watch the next episode right away that I tend to get when I really love a show. And then I saw this episode. When the students all stand up and rip open their robes to reveal massive amounts of weapons and open warfare on the mayor and his minions, I was HOOKED. I had been planning to watch Angel in the order it was aired with Buffy, but I couldn’t even get my attention away from Buffy long enough to see what Angel was up to. I have since then watched the entire series many times over, watched my favorite episodes (of which there are many) more than 10 times each, watched tons of interviews and behind the scenes footage from the actors and creators of the series, and read quite a few critical essays and academic books about Buffy. All of this within 4 months. This comment just made me think that I need to enter Buffy rehab or something… Anyways, love the podcast, and it’s nice to have something Buffy-related to look forward to each week since the show is over, and I can’t look forward to new episodes.

  8. Graduation Day Part 2
    I have a lot to say, but it is the season finale and you’re taking 2 weeks off, so I feel justified in writing a lot of comments.

    The Good
    I enjoyed the hospital scene as a whole. The Steadicam movement made this section feel more urgent and tense than Buffy’s normal camera setup. The long take from when Angel bursts in to when he pulls the Mayor off Buffy is all one take, adding to the tension and giving film geeks like me something to drool over. It even included a practical special effect! Seeing the Mayor dispassionately try to kill Buffy, lose his self-composure, and then smoothly put his “public face” back on added some much-needed menace to his character.

    The dream was a nice throwback to early Buffy episodes. I like the symbolism and ambiguity in it. Is this Buffy’s dream or Faith’s? If it is a shared dream, then it completely changes my opinion of Faith’s character. She seems aware that she is either dead or will die soon, and acts to help Buffy. Is she trying to atone for her sins now that she’s facing her own mortality?

    Cordia may hate Cordelia’s dress in the library, but I thought it was classy. The blue dress/white collar also matched Wesley’s blue shirt/white collar in the kissing scene.

    Other good moments:
    • Willow and Oz are cute together
    • “Let’s Watch the swearing”
    • The Mayor lecturing the students before he eats them
    • “I had a whole section on civic pride…”
    • Spotlights during the fight – Xander, Oz, Larry, Jonathan, Cordelia
    • Real casualties – Larry, Harmony, Snyder
    • The Giles, Angel, and Scooby moments at the end
    • The “Grr…Arrg” at the end of the episode was wearing a mortarboard.

    The Neutral
    Based on his reactions at the hospital, his office, and at graduation, I don’t think the Mayor knew that the poison could have been solved by a Slayer’s blood. I still feel like it could have been a good layer to the plot, or it could have been the framework for an entire episode.

    Are some of the explosives in the library from “The Zeppo”? Xander is supposed to “get the materials”, but that could be from the military base or wherever “The Zeppo” explosives ended up.

    What did Faith give to Buffy in the dream sequence? Didn’t she already give her the hint about human weakness?

    Why did all of the parents run away towards the school instead of down the steps towards the vampires? Let’s say they saw the vamps and headed towards the easier exit. If so, why did the students run down the steps towards the vamp fight instead of towards the school?

    They build up Wesley coming back, but the only useful thing he does is pack up books and resolve all of his subplots. Even Cordelia stakes a vamp!

    The special effects were ambitious, but bad. Even when I try to look at this through the CGI capabilities of 1999, there were still a lot of problems.

    Good/Acceptable SFX
    • The appearance/disappearance of objects in the dream (though I prefer practical ways of doing this trick)
    • Vamps on fire burning up
    • The Demon Mayor’s skin
    • Interaction with other physical objects (eating people, breaking stuff)
    • School explosions (although I think most of these were practical)

    Disappointing SFX
    • Unrealistic physics: I think they were trying to show the Demon Mayor as being quick and lithe, but it doesn’t have the right “weight” when it moves.
    • Larry’s death: There are more physics problems when Larry gets smacked into the air and falls to the ground too quickly. The “crunch” when he lands is the wrong sound effect for what we see on screen. It feels like a bad post-production fix to let us know he died.
    • Camera angles: For a demon whose size was built up over 2 episodes, we never see an establishing shot of the whole thing. They used their crane to get some really good group shots of the students and the fighting, but where was the sweeping reveal of the Demon Mayor?
    • The first person eaten: There is no establishing shot of them before snacktime. With other characters that we already know getting killed/eaten during the fight, why is the first person to die someone we don’t know?
    • The Demon Mayor’s final words: This was horrible in both concept and execution. It contradicts what we saw so far – If he could speak, he should have taunted Buffy the entire time. If he couldn’t speak, he should have just roared in surprise.
    • The shot of the ruined school: Or the lack thereof. The Scoobies are staring right past the camera at it, but we never see the burned-out husk of the school. Giles waxes poetic about it and Oz asks everyone (viewers included) “take a moment.” Just show it to me!

    The episode is inconsistent on whether the Demon Mayor has any humanity left after ascension, even with Faith’s hint in the dream. It took me a long time to connect the Mayor’s outburst at Faith’s apartment and the hospital to the “human weakness” they use to get him to chase Buffy. After the ascension, he just acted angry and hungry. This goes back to the Demon Mayor needing to talk a lot or not talk at all.

    The Weird
    I was distracted by the earring on vampire during the Mayor’s war council. That thing had to be three inches long.

    Now that we know the form of the demon that the Mayor ascends into, I can’t help imaging the image of it they find in “Graduation Day Part 1” is the centerfold of some ancient Playgirl magazine for demons.

    Favorite Moment
    This almost went to The Most Awkward Kiss EVER or the armed Class of ’99 reveal, but the last Scoobie meeting in the library was perfect. Everyone was there, they each had their moment to shine, and it brought The Funny. I occasionally break out the “We can attack the Mayor with hummus” line when my friends and I are planning something, but Cordelia’s *snap* “we chase him” was just perfect.

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