Title: Buffy S3.E21 “Graduation Day, Part 1” + S3.E22 “Graduation Day, Part 2”
Released: 1999

Drinks Taken: 25
Vamps Dusted: ??


Follow the whole rewatch here!

I can’t believe it’s Graduation Day already! I’m barely done crying over (Sarah’s recap of) The Prom Also, can you believe Willow decided to forgo Oxford to stick around Sunnydale to keep fighting monsters with her friends and Buffy and Angel broke up? I may never recover from that. Okay, fine. Turns out, I’ll be fine once she starts boning another [spoiler].

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season Three Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Cordelia says something cutting but true
Principal Snyder hates on students
Oz is ridiculously low-key cool
Spike has mad swagger
Willow gets witchy
You roll your eyes at Faith
The Mayor is a germaphobe

Drink twice every time:

We see the entrance to Sunnydale High
Giles drinks tea
Jonathan appears in a scene
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
Someone wears leather pants

Now let’s see what wacky hijinks the class of ‘99 got up to!

Buffy holds a knife and grabs Faith mid-fight

3.21 “Graduation Day, Part 1”

While picking up their caps and gowns, Xander cannot help but express his existential dread to Cordelia of all people. He’s certain that he’s been lucky too many times and won’t be making it out of graduation alive. Meanwhile, Willow is deep in that time-honored tradition of signing the yearbooks of people you barely knew or actively hated (hi, Harmony!) and swearing you’ll keep in touch. Buffy is not feeling the graduation nostalgia and figures she’ll just skip it anyway, since the Major will likely be ascending and she has to deal with that whole thing. Then Xander arrives to break it to them that their commencement speaker is none other than Richard Wilkins himself.

Faith, in full leather-clad bad girl gear (DRINK!) go to a college professor’s place on an errand for the Mayor’s and kills him with one of her fancy new knives. She really seems to be enjoying that job perk. Later at her apartment, the Mayor can’t help but tidy things as Faith changes into a dress that he chose for her to wear to the Ascension. It’s an ultra-girly pink shirtdress that every girl had a dozen of in the 90’s but is really not Faith’s style. The Mayor gives her one of his patented pep talks, really laying on the father figure stuff, even promising to buy her an Icee.

Have we ever seen Willow ride her bike to school? And why is it such a juvenile-looking Huffy style? Percy rushes over to proudly show her the B he got on his history final, thanks to her tutoring. Apparently, Doppelganger Willow really made an impression. Oz arrives to interject some dark humor, but Willow is upset at the idea that the Mayor could end up eating Percy at graduation and wants to try to find a spell to stop him.

In Xander’s class, he’s scolded for arriving late, despite the fact that they’re only playing Hangman since there’s nothing left for seniors to do with graduation looming. Aw, man. Now I’m all nostalgic for those last days of senior year when you had to show up for school but there wasn’t anything left to do. Anya takes the downtime opportunity to ask Xander out on a date, but he doesn’t even try to be polite about turning down the opportunity to hear about more men that she tortured in her vengeance demon days. He eventually feels bad about hurting her feelings and tells her that if they survive the Ascension, sure, they could maybe hang out. Anya has an intense reaction to hearing there’s an Ascension.

Buffy reports to Giles and Wesley that the murdered professor article on the newspaper front page has “Faith” written all over it. They deduce that the professor knew something or had something and that’s why the Mayor wanted that loose end tied up. Wesley orders Buffy to check out the professor’s play, but Giles sweetly warns her to be careful. They agree that Faith has her at a disadvantage since Buffy isn’t willing to kill her. Xander arrives with Anya in tow since she happened to be around when the last Ascension went down 800 years ago. It decimated the entire village. She also gives them a little lesson on Demonology. All the demons that walk the earth or just little human hybrids, like vampires. When Ascension is achieved, that human becomes pure demon and… bigger.

Mayor Wilkins oversees preparations for graduation and praises little Snyder for maintaining order despite Sunnydale’s oddities. He tells Snyder that the town owes him a debt, and it will be repaid. Remember that for later, kids! While on campus, Wilkins pops into the library to wig out the Scooby meeting in progress. He thinks the book description of the Ascension sounds charming. When Buffy snarks off at him, Wilkins makes a chilling comment to Giles and Giles stabs him with a sword that he’d previously been using to spar with Wesley. Unfortunately, it does nothing but incite a lecture from Wilkins about being a better example in front of the kids.

Xander chases Anya down in the hall, but she cannot get out of town fast enough. She said there’s no stopping the Ascension, and since she’d rather not die, she is out of there. Xander and Cordelia agree it’s also a good reason to skip fifth period.

When Joyce gets home, she finds Buffy packing a bag. She assumes Buffy is running away again, but she’s actually packing Joyce’s things so she can send her mom to safety out of town. Joyce wouldn’t dream of missing Buffy’s graduation, but Buffy has a great speech about the epic pointlessness of graduation. But she makes a really poignant and convincing argument to her mom by explaining that worrying about Joyce’s safety when Buffy needs to concentrate on fighting evil is just going to get her killed.

Willow is starting to feel hopeless about finding a spell that she can use to stop the Ascension and is especially frustrated about Oz being “ironic detachment guy”. Do you know who you’re dating, girl? He offers to panic if that’ll make her feel better. But she’s panicking enough for the both of them, so he kisses her, which is apparently as close to panicking as he gets.

At the professor’s apartment, Buffy is gathering some possible clues when Angel hilariously stumbles through the door in his least stealthy entrance ever, thanks to a freshly mopped hallway. Giles sent Angel for backup, but things are still super awkward between these two, and they end up having one of their epic histrionic fights on the street when Angel gets shot with an arrow that takes him down immediately. The rooftop sniper is Faith, of course, who intentionally missed the heart. Buffy gets Angel to the library where she and Giles remove the arrow. Wesley reads through the professor’s paper and finds out that he found the carcass of something large in a dormant volcano bed which Giles deduces means that the Mayor wanted this kept quiet because maybe it means he’s only indestructible until the Ascension, but in his demon form, he can be killed. This discussion is put on hold when Angel tries to stand and then collapses, which is when they realize the arrow that hit him was poisoned. Giles goes to call the rest of the team, and Wesley assures a worried Buffy that he’ll check with the Council on known magical toxins.

Faith brags to the Mayor about how well she took Angel down and he imagines that will keep Buffy busy for a while. It’s time for him to commence with the Ritual of Gavrock which involves eating some giant spiders from a mystical box. Faith and I both agree that’s wicked gross. She has tons of nervous energy to burn which causes Wilkins to call her a “firecracker,” which reminds her of her mother and her childhood in Boston. She really just seems to need reassurance that even after the Ascension the Mayor will still need her. And now I’m all sad for the murderous orphan girl.

Willow and Oz are cuddling in bed after, you know, totally doing it. But then they get the bat signal call and snuggles are over. In the school science lab, Willow preps a Magic Box shopping list for Xander to try to come up with some poison antidote. On his way out, Xander encounters Anya, who tries to talk him into leaving town with her. The idea of something bad happening to him makes her want to barf, but she’s terrible at coming up with arguments against him staying that aren’t terribly insulting. Anya’s gotta Anya.

At the mansion, Buffy comforts a sweaty and shirtless Angel. Wesley arrives to let them know that the Council is unwilling to help Angel because it’s not their “policy” to cure vampires. When he tries to follow that up with the Council’s orders for Buffy, she lets him know that she won’t be taking any more orders from them or from him. Wesley tries to get Giles to back him up, which is crazy dumb, considering that same Council fired Giles, so he not so shockingly takes Buffy’s side on this one. She tells Wesley that he can head back to the Council and they can close up shop until the next slayer comes along. He warns that this was all a distraction on Faith’s part and that Buffy’s falling for it. He announces this is mutiny. Buffy prefers to call it graduation. SLAY OF THE WEEK. When Wesley makes one last attempt to sway her, Buffy tells him “Get a job.” It’s excellent.

Buffy checks in at the Scooby science lab just in time to find out that they’ve identified the poison and Oz, on research duty, locates the cure: draining the blood of a slayer. Buffy thinks this is perfect since recent events have caused her to get over that whole not being willing to kill Faith thing. Willow and Oz do some adorable and yet hot hacking to track down Faith’s address and we get a montage of slayers getting ready for battle. Faith with a punching bag and Buffy with a bathroom mirror.

Before we get to this epic slayer fight, I need to put this on record: It makes zero sense for Faith to be lounging around her own apartment, fully dressed, including boots and a jacket. It also makes zero sense for Buffy to change out of the sensible hoodie she’s been wearing all day, and to take her hair down for this. But then it does give double meaning to Faith’s like “Well, look at you. All dressed up in big sister’s clothes,” since Buffy has arrived murderous, and in red leather pants. (Drink!)

This gifset really just reminds me of an interview I once read with the Buffy writers where they said they didn’t originally write the Buffy and Faith relationship with so much hoyay, but since Eliza kept bringing that energy, they kind of went with it sometimes.

Fighting ensues with much throwing of each other through windows. Buffy has the sense to handcuff Faith to her, so she can’t get away now that she knows her blood is the cure to saving Angel.

In the library, Giles finds reference to a demon in one of the other books that conveniently no one ever wanted to check out. When the accompanying photo unfolds multiple times, Xander observes, “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Okay, I don’t hate you at this moment, Xander.

The Mayor completes the Ritual of Gavrock when one of his vamp henchmen arrives to let him know there’s trouble at Faith’s. We rejoin the slayer fight in progress where Buffy is snarking, and Faith manages to bust out of the handcuffs. She grabs for some available debris to use as a weapon but Buffy busts out Faith’s beloved knife she lost in the school when the Willow/Gavrock trade went down. They tussle before Buffy stabs Faith in the stomach. They’re both surprised she did it. Faith has her exit line ready as she falls from the balcony into the back of a truck.

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted

0. Points for effort though, Faith!

Is Amy Still a Rat?

Yes, but it’s okay because Oz thinks she’s in a good place, emotionally. And honestly, this probably makes her the safest Sunnydale senior.

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

I know Willow never met a furry thing she didn’t love, but did she rob a muppet?

Harmony and Willow sign yearbooks while Willow carries a purse covered in light blue fur

Let’s see that again. Is it hot in here or is it just Giles?

Willow And Oz

Sooo, big step in their relationship this week. But can we just talk about My Stepmother Is An Alien instead?

scene from My Stepmother Is An Alien (1988) with young Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green
Cordelia, Oz, and Buffy stand behind a seated Xander and Willow and stare at the ruins of Sunnydale High

3.22 “Graduation Day, Part 2”

We open immediately after the rooftop fight and a shell-shocked Buffy climbs down the fire escape to leave as Mayor Wilkins surveys the damage in Faith’s apartment. He’s not surprised that no one is there since he surmises Faith would have taken the fight outside because “my Faith doesn’t like to be cooped up.” He orders his minion to find them in a scream and repeatedly reassures himself that Faith will be alright. It’s definitely the most unhinged we’ve ever seen him.

Giles and Xander are pouring through the library books trying to find anything on the previous demon Ascension, especially weaknesses. Cordelia arrives to demand an explanation for why Wesley is leaving. She decides this is typical selfish Buffy behavior, only thinking of herself. But Cordy reluctantly agrees to lend a hand to stop the impending massacre.

Willow is taking a shift at the Angel bedside vigil, but a feverish Angel is delirious and thinks she’s Buffy, and tells her he was wrong and that he can’t leave her. Willow assures him that Buffy we will be back soon. She goes out to the living room and tells Oz that she feels so guilty that everything is terrible, but in some ways it’s the best night of her life. This leads them to making out again, but they break apart quickly when Buffy arrives. They notice that she does not have Faith with her, but she doesn’t want to explain, just asks about Angel. Willow promises to try to find another cure, but Buffy knows time is running out and asks them to let her be alone with him. She tells Angel that the blood of a slayer is the only cure and he has to drink from her because she can’t watch him die. He suggests Faith, but she admits that she tried that and killed her. Angel continues to refuse and stumbles away, but Buffy is violently insistent. She punches him until his game face comes out and forces him to drink from her neck. He does and it goes on forever, and is way more reminiscent of sex than you remember. He drinks so long he nearly kills her and carries her into the hospital. The E.R. doctor wants to know what happened, and Angel claims that something bit her. When he breaks a door in his distress, the doctor assumes they’ve been doing drugs. Maybe he’s heard about those roving gangs on PCP

As Angel goes to call Giles, we see Faith is in the next room and Mayor Wilkins is receiving the bad news that Faith’s head trauma is too severe and she won’t be waking up from her coma. The Mayor hears that another young girl has been admitted with serious blood loss and heads over to Buffy’s room and tries to suffocate her before Angel rips him away. Wilkins is full of all kinds of angry threats for Angel and Buffy. And basically exits with a “To be continued!”

The gang arrives and Angel updates them that Buffy put Faith in a coma and cured him and there’s a lot of judgment from Giles and especially from Xander, because he’s incapable of not being the worst when it comes to Angel. It’s like everyone temporarily forgets that Buffy has any agency here, as if Angel was in any condition to have forced himself on her to feed. Giles suggests that he leave since the sun will be up soon and they’ll look after her.

While unconscious, Buffy finds herself in Faith’s apartment. The two have a super trippy existential conversation wherein Faith gives Buffy a tip about human weakness, that it never really goes away, even the Mayor’s. She wakes up in her hospital bed, significantly recovered. She goes into Faith’s room and looks down on her ruined face before placing a kiss on her forehead. Buffy dresses and goes out to tell the gang to gather the troops because she’s ready for war.

Everything is set up in the school courtyard for graduation as the gang is gathered in the library to hear Buffy’s plan. She asks if they think it’s crazy. Willow tries for diplomacy, but Cordelia negates all that but since it’s the only plan they have, she’s as on board as Cordelia can be. Buffy tells them that Faith told her to play on the Mayor’s human weaknesses, which she admits to not knowing. Angel volunteers that he’s not crazy about germs. Cordy comes up with a plan that involves a box of Ebola virus that has potential, but then Angel also remembers that Faith is the Mayor’s weakness, since he was seriously grieving over her at the hospital. Wesley comes in and Buffy tells him the Council isn’t welcome there, but Welsey is there on his own to offer assistance.

We cut back and forth between the Scoobies and Wilkins laying out the plan to his offensive team. The vampires will be in the game since there will be a solar eclipse, “standard procedure for an Ascension” per Wesley. Buffy puts Xander and Angel in charge of stealing something from the Army base and Giles in charge of stockpiling weapons and stoking something big in the library. The gang rallies more troops with Xander reaching out to Harmony and Willow bringing in Percy. Cordelia and Wesley are packing up books in the library when he tells her that he’ll be going back to England, which she’s sad about. The tension builds until they kiss, but he’s apparently a terrible kisser. She wipes her face and gives him another shot, but it’s a disaster. They pull apart and she wishes him good luck in England and he says he’ll drop her a line sometime to which she hilariously replies “that’ll be neat.”

Larry and Jonathan (Aw, drinks for finale Jonathan!) help load bags out of Oz’s van and are instructed to put them with the other and not to touch anything. Jonathan nervously asks what they should do next. And Oz and willow tell them to relax and have a good time. When they’re alone in the van, Willow admits to being terrified. Oz assures her they’ll make it through this and distracts her with more sex.

Buffy checks in on the war plan with Angel and assures him that she’s fine, that she heals quickly like he does. He tells her that if they make it through this, he’s leaving town and not saying goodbye. She looks devastated. Who pulls that shit on war day, Angel? When he leaves, she unwraps a white cloth to reveal Faith’s bloody knife that she stabbed her with.

At commencement, Snyder congratulates the class of 1999 on proving more or less adequate (drink!) and tells them that it’s a day of celebration, “so sit still and be quiet.” Just as he introduces the Mayor, Willow sneaks into the seat next to Buffy and asks “Am I late? Did we fight?” A+ distraction technique, Oz. Wilkins has a fairly decent speech (as far as these terrible things go), referencing journeys and grief and loss, and ascending to a higher level. I see what you did there.

Sadly, the solar eclipse interrupts him and starts causing a physical reaction before he can get to the part of his speech on civic pride. And then, in a stunningly 1990’s basic cable display of CGI, he morphs into a giant roaring snake. Did The OG WB viewers see that coming?

GIF via marshmallow the vampire slayer

Wilkins is now a giant roaring snake.

The seniors stand en masse and Buffy yells “Now!” and they all strip off their graduation gowns to reveal crosses and weapons. The flame units start blasting fire at the snake and Xander commands the first wave to start shooting it with bows and arrows. Oz is part of the contingent of bowman with flaming arrows that they begin shooting at the Mayor’s vampire henchman. This drives the vampires back down the steps where they’re cornered by Angel and Percy’s group of hand-to-hand fighters. In the melee, Buffy and Willow part, wishing each other luck, and Xander commands everyone to go hand-to-hand. With swords and clubs, and whatever they could apparently find, the seniors head toward the surprised vampires. We see various people go down, like Larry, and Jonathan, and don’t find out their fate. But Harmony gets bitten by a vampire, and Snyder gets eaten by the snake.

Buffy heads towards the snake and brandishes Faith’s knife at him, taunting him with how she slid it into Faith’s gut like butter. He chases and she lures him crashing into the school, straight for the library. She dives out a window just as the snake sees the mountain of explosives piled there. Outside, Buffy rushes to Giles’ side as he pushes the plunger and blows up the building. Pour one out for the Sunnydale High entrance!

After the rescue vehicles arrive, and wheel away a ridiculously whiny Wesley, who’s only injury seems to have been falling down, Buffy walks through the chaos, obviously looking for something or someone. Xander tells her that Angel made it through the fight, and must have taken off after. Giles finds Buffy and asks if she’s alright. She admits she’s pretty tired. He congratulates her on a good campaign, and presents her with the slightly singed diploma he rescued from the wreckage. He goes to check on the whimpering Wesley and Buffy sees Angel amidst the fire trucks, staring at her in his brooding fashion one last time, and then he turns and walks away.

Buffy joins her friends on the lawn and announces that she could use some sleep and if someone could just wake her when it’s time to go to college, that would be great. Oz urges them to take a moment to appreciate that they survived, not the battle, but high school. They take the briefest moment and are done. The camera pans down on a burned yearbook with the motto “The future is ours!”

How many times do I have to take a drink?


Vamps Dusted

Who even knows? War is hell.

Stylish Yet Affordable Boots

These episodes feature two of Buffy’s most iconic outfits, as they live on in molded plastic forever.

Scooby Gang Feels

Let’s hear it for the Class of 1999!

Oz, Willow, Buffy, Xander, and Cordelia pose smiling in their graduation caps and gowns, holding diplomas

Based on air dates, it looks like “Graduation Day, Part 2” didn’t air until July of 1999, nearly two months after “Part 1”. What? Why? And how did y’all LIVE? It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday, and to Mayor Wilkins. He was my all-time favorite Buffy villain and just an all-around delight. Where does the good Mayor rank on your villain scale? Join me in the comments to talk all things graduation, Oz, high school heartbreak and nostalgia.

And let’s meet back here next week when Meredith will be covering the season four premiere episodes, “The Freshman” and “Living Conditions”. We’re going to college, y’all!

Kandis (she/her) is a proud member of the Austin FYA book club chapter who loves vampires, romance novels, live tweeting CW shows, and Jonah Griggs. She’s not like a regular mom. She’s a cool mom.