Monday, October 3, 2011

"Graduation Day, Part Two" (Buffy 3.22): Pomp, circumstance, and a really big snake

"Congratulations to the class of 1999. You've all proved more or less adequate. This is a time for celebration, so sit still and be quiet." 

Hard to improve on Principal Snyder's nearly-last words. No matter the season, this series does a finale right. Let's get started with the Buffy guide to saying goodbye to your high school. Literally.

DO sublimate.
This is advice that the series has offered before and will again. Because sex is usually so fraught on the show (unless you're Oz and Willow this episode . . . the van is rockin' so don't bother knockin'), people, demons, whatever, have to find other ways to express themselves, especially Buffy and Angel. They've tried Tai Chi, sparring, and suicidal speechifying, but in this ep it's blood-sucking that gets the job done. Since Faith jumped off the side of her building, taking her rapidly diminishing supply of Slayer blood with her, Buffy's only choice is to let Angel feed on her, accompanied by appropriate music, slow-mo photography, and one very suggestive straddle.
And a grateful nation thanks her.
Breaking Dawn, take notes.
Last one. Note the leg.

My intrepid co-watcher Jenn deems this scene sexier than tearing down the house with Spike in season 6. I concur.

DON'T blow off senior day activities.
Though the Mayor is more than a little unhinged by Faith's coma courtesy of Buffy, he's still going through with his plans to ascend. Buffy, along with most of the shows in the Whedonverse, is committed to arguing for the strength-in-numbers model of superhero-dom. The Scoobie Gang gains a few hundred more members when the inner circle drafts the rest of the senior class as first responders to battle the Mayor with flame throwers and his vampire henchmen with stakes. It's a really touching moment.
The future is effing YOURS, class of '99!

DO hit them where they live.
Though Buffologists have spent many an hour parsing Faith's cryptic comments to Buffy in their shared fever dream*, the really important advice is to remember the Mayor's human weakness. His affection to Faith is a double-edged sword. Or dagger, as the case may be. Though Buffy is able to exploit Dick's desire for vengeance and lure him to the booby-trapped library, emotional attachment is also what devastates her at the episode's (and season's) conclusion when the love of her life walks away into the distance and onto his own spin-off. So you need relationships to survive, but they will simultaneously destroy you from the inside out. Thanks, Joss.
Pictured: My human weakness.

*Is "counting down from 730" a reference to Dawn's appearance in season 5? Does the reference to "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" foretell Buffy's death?

DO remember the fallen.
As any fan of Whedon's will tell you, he doesn't mind killing people off. In fact, he seems to sort of like it. Though the deaths are only going to get more gut-wrenching as our re-watch continues, a moment to memorialize one of mine and Jenn's favorite characters, Larry.
From a jackass pirate in "Halloween" . . .
To a no longer closeted or jackassy jock in "Phases" . . . .
To a member of Giles's ersatz Slayers in "The Wish"
To a go-to Demon fighter in "Graduation Day." (With bonus Jonathan!)

RIP, Larry. You're a white-hat in any universe.

With the end of season 3, Jenn and I have decided to start a re-watch of Angel concurrently with Buffy. Trust us, it'll be really fun around "Pangs." So tune in next week for Buffy 4.1 and Angel 1.1!

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