Buffy 3×21: Graduation Day Pt. 1

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 05/18/1999]

Here lies part one of a rousing conclusion to a great season. It doesn’t come off perfectly but there’s still a whole lot to like. My biggest problem is the fact that it feels like Whedon is holding back all the goods until part two. The only noticeable things that happen in this entire episode are Buffy quitting the council and her big fight with Faith at the end. That means there’s a whole lot of setup which rarely entertains as much as a conclusion. On the flip side, though, there were a lot of nice character moments to mostly make up for the lack of plot progress.

The episode begins with Buffy protesting her attendence at the graduation ceremony. She says “I guess I’ll miss stuff, but I just don’t get the whole graduation thing. I mean you get a piece of paper and nothing changes. I don’t even think I’m gonna go.” When I was going through grade school I couldn’t help but feel exactly like Buffy. My version of Buffy’s statement is “Congratulations, here’s another 4+ years of even harder work!” What Buffy said really relates to a lot of outsiders–people who just aren’t a part of the school environment. My friends and I were in our own world, a lot like the Scoobies, so I can really appreciate this scene.

As I mentioned above, aside from the big fight at the end, this is a character episode. We get a lot of development in all areas but primarily Faith, the Mayor, and Buffy. Lets begin by looking closer at Faith. Early on we see her show up at a Geology professor’s door (O.T. I’m currently taking a volcanology class!), walk in, and stab him without flinching at all. Sure she shot a guy through the heart with an arrow in “Choices” [3×19] , but there’s something different about the tactile experience of doing it up close. Faith’s completely immersed in her fantasy world where she’s powerful and can do whatever she wants. You could even make the argument that she feels like a god, as Angel said she would back in “Enemies” [3×17] . Buffy ends up incapacitating her in the end, but when she arises it’s obvious that she’s still out for blood. It’s not until literally being inside Buffy’s body that she begins to realize how screwed up she is inside (“Who Are You?” [4×16] ).

Before her demise, though, she gets some quality time with her surrogate dad, the Mayor. This weird relationship, which has been slowly evolving from the moment Faith walked in his office (“Consequences” [3×15] ), is often quite endearing. It also makes for an interesting parallel to the relationship between Buffy and Giles. It’s interesting to note that both of these fathers love and want the best for their ‘daughters.’ There is genuine caring on both sides of the table as we see when the Mayor enjoys seeing Faith in that pink dress. The only difference I can see between the two pairs is that the Mayor is fundamentally evil and is helping to fuel Faith’s growth as an evil being while Giles is fundamentally good and is helping to fuel Buffy’s growth as not only a Slayer, but also as a good human being.

This observation makes the scene where the Mayor walks right into the library even more fascinating. He speaks directly to Giles, father-to-father, “That’s one spunky little girl you’ve raised. I’m gonna eat her … Violent outbursts like that, in front of the children? You know, Mr. Giles, they look to you to see how to behave.” I love the way everyone gets incredibly scared and starts backing off the moment he appears. I also love the fact that Giles takes his sword and runs it through the Mayor in an outburst of anger. Great stuff.

Buffy makes a really touching speech to her mom when telling her she needs to leave town. She says, “I wish I could be a lot of things for you. A great student, a star athlete, remotely normal. I’m not. But there is something I do that I can do better than anybody else in the world. I’m gonna fight this thing, but I can’t do it and worry about you.” This really sums up the relationship between these two. I actually kind of wish we’d have gotten to see more time spent between Buffy and her mom, but her speech is a really fitting way to essentially say wrap up their relationship. We see them together a few times in S4 and then quite a bit in S5, but most of the S5 interaction revolves around Joyce’s illness.

A big portion of this episode is devoted to Angel’s injury and the ensuing illness. Faith’s intention is wonderfully smart: poison Angel so that Buffy and all the Scoobies are distracted by that instead of trying to stop the Mayor. The plan works perfectly until Buffy discovers that Faith’s blood will cure Angel, which as Buffy points out is quite fitting. The biggest problem I have with this development is how it is executed when Angel’s illness begins to worsen. These scenes drag on and far too much screen time is given to Angel suffering and people feeling sorry for Buffy. Unfortunately this really does bog down the episode a bit.

The big ‘event’ of the proceedings is the Watcher’s Council refusing to offer assistance to Angel. This is what pushes Buffy permanently away from Wesley and the Council. The Council’s decision is hardly surprising based on what we learned of them in “Helpless” [3×12] . This institution is seriously old school and tradition-based. Giles naturally backs Buffy up as she tells off Wesley. He calls it mutiny while she, more appropiately, says “I like to think of it as graduation.” This is a smart move on Buffy’s part and not based purely on emotion, even though it appears that way. The Council does have a great deal of knowledge and information, but because of their insane customs and methods it’s difficult for them to actually be useful in the fight against evil. All of these issues will be brought back to the surface in “Checkpoint” [5×12] and all throughout S7, especially after the Caleb destroys the Council with a bomb. It’s also interesting to note that even though Giles looks down on the Council now, he still is bred on their philosophies and pushes that traditional agenda. We see it many times from him in episodes including “The Gift” [5×22] and “Lies My Parents Told Me” [7×17] .

A smaller moment I really appreciated was Xander’s comment to Buffy when she announces that she’s going to kill Faith. He says, “I just don’t want to lose you.” Buffy replies, “I won’t get hurt.” Xander then says, “That’s not what I mean.” Xander is concerned that Buffy killing Faith will spark her like it did Faith and end up turning Buffy into Faith. While I believe Xander’s concern is valid, Buffy is hardly as confused as Faith was leading up to the moment where she killed the Deputy Mayor in “Bad Girls” [3×14] . It would, however, definitely affect her and quite possibly make her darker and quieter. Since this ends up happening anyway in later seasons, it seems to me just stabbing Faith had nearly the same effect.

All of this setup then finally pays off. The big Buffy and Faith fight scene launches us firmly into the second half of the story and makes for one of the most thrilling girl/girl fights I’ve ever seen on film. The only competition is Buffy and Faith’s other fights in “Revelations” [3×07] and “This Year’s Girl” [4×15] . The fight is well staged and contains very satisfying jabs at each other in between the action. These jabs actually have great meaning because of the wonderfully careful construction of Faith’s character and Buffy’s development over the course of the season. My only complaint with the fight lies at the very end, after Buffy stabs Faith. Buffy just lies on the ground listening to Faith go off about stuff when she should have been immediately jumping up, shock and all, and grabbing Faith. Instead she lets her fall backwards off the rooftop down onto a truck. I just don’t buy that Buffy would be so shocked that she wouldn’t be able to react for Angel’s sake.

I’ve introduced a lot of people to this series now, and nearly all of them have commented on why Buffy doesn’t climb down the ladder super quick and chase after the truck. This seems like a silly complaint to me because as strong as Buffy is she’s only slightly faster than most people while running. There’s no way she would have caught up with that truck. So this is not a complaint of mine.

To sum this up I’d have to say that part one gets the job done. It’s not perfect, but there’s a lot of really great character moments and development. On top of that, the Buffy and Faith fight scene is so satisfying it’s worth waiting for alone. My complaints pretty much revolve around the often slow pace and the lingering of Angel’s illness. Overall, though, it’s a success. Bring on part two!

Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Willow wanting Harmony to sign her yearbook. This phenomenon is weird but factual. When leaving something behind you even begin to miss the things you hated.
+ Willow seeing Percy again. I’m really pleased they kept bringing him back.
+ Giles sword fighting with Wesley while hardly paying attention.
+ Anya’s knowledge as an ex-demon being tremendously useful.
+ Oz ‘panicking’ and his relationship with Willow overall. These two are wonderful together.
+ Angel’s less-than-stealthy entrance to the apartment Buffy’s investigating.
+ The book with the ascended demon in it having two additional fold out pages.




44 thoughts on “Buffy 3×21: Graduation Day Pt. 1”

  1. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on August 7, 2007.]

    One of my all time favorite episodes. I just have to disagree with one small thing though. I actually enjoy Part I more than Part II. But Faith and Buffy’s fight is one for the ages and I always saw Buffy lying there as Faith is rambling as more of shock: “I really just stabbed a human being. I just killed Faith” thing. Buffy has always had a very clear policy when it comes to other people, no matter how evil. She may threaten, she may punch their lights out, but she never, ever, kills them. (Of course she doesn’t kill Faith either, but they don’t know that yet).


  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 26, 2007.]

    Amazing is all I have to say. Very good dialogue, the characters are all great and the ending fight scene is thrilling. Buffy and Faith are just awesome together.


  3. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 26, 2008.]

    I don’t think I’ve mentioned how funny I found the little hat-tip in here, where Snyder says, with great sincerity, ‘I believe in order.’

    Of course this is *entirely* unrelated to Shimerman’s past acting gig on _Deep Space Nine_ as Quark, comic-relief-cum-foe of shapeshifter Odo, who believed above all else in order…


  4. [Note: Wolfbrother posted this comment on February 5, 2008.]

    First, I have to say that Buffy and Faith fights are my favorite, non-magical, fight scenes in the entire series. There is just a raw and dirty energy that just isn’t present during Buffy’s fights with more powerful enemies such as Adam and Glory.

    I’ve also wondered about why Buffy didn’t grab Faith at the end, when she had the chance. But I do think that it could be possible for the shock to overwhelm Buffy for a minute or two. The look on her face when she stabbed Faith perfectly conveyed the fact that up until then she was operating purely on her emotions to save Angel, and had done her best to not think about the reality of her actions. And we have also seen in previous episodes that Buffy doesn’t always recover from shock quickly and easily, and this was a big one. Just look at how she shut down for a bit after being an accidental party to the death of the mayor’s aid. Plus, Faith isn’t dead yet and she will have to finish the job in cold murder, and not by the actions of passion and anger that she was driven by just a few minutes before.

    Another thing to consider is that the possibility of Faith escaping at that point wasn’t too likely from Buffy’s viewpoint. Buffy knows that Faith is mortally injured and won’t be able to run fast or far. Plus she would have to jump several stories which would add to her injuries. What are the chances of a flat bed truck passing by at that minute? While there is no indication that Buffy was thinking any of these thoughts, I think it seems reasonable and it helps explain her actions.

    Even so, I still want to yell at her to get up and deal with her emotional problems later.


  5. [Note: Kyarorin posted this comment on March 20, 2008.]

    I also think Faith’s proclamation “You killed me” was enough to really drive it home in Buffy’s eyes, just as a quick follow-up to Wolfbrother’s last paragraph.

    I didn’t really have a problem with the bogged-down plot as much as the Mayor’s insane stupidity. Why on earth did he have the volcanologist killed? I mean, I get that he wanted him not to be able to interfere, but would a scientist really have enough time to assemble enough ammo to kill the Mayor after he’s already eaten half the town? And if you do get him killed, why allow the murder to be published? He’s the mayor. If he couldn’t influence the paper, or didn’t want to risk it, couldn’t he at least get rid of the body so it wouldn’t be reported? Ugh. I hate the ‘bad guy slips up at just the right time’ rule. Seems to me that the Mayor was too smart for that.

    Bah, I’m rambling. Sorry. This issue just annoys the crap out of me. XD


  6. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on September 24, 2008.]

    Angel, looking NOT cool on purpose? Not over his undead body. ^^ But I rewind this moment every time, just for the pleasure of watching Angel slip twice.


  7. [Note: MrTrick posted this comment on October 23, 2008.]

    Actually, that whole deal with Buffy lying there as Faith goes on and on could easily have been avoided if Buffy had just stabbed Faith at once. But no, Buffy, in response to Faith lying back turned on her bed with music so loud she can’t hear a thing, turns the music off to get her attention and then starts a fist fight.

    Yeah, that’s not very clever.


  8. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on October 23, 2008.]

    No she couldn’t. Never. (…) Buffy knows that… and still she couldn’t take a human life. She’s a hero, you see. Not like us. I guess that about sums it all, MrTrick, doesn’t it? Now why isn’t Giles there when you need him?

    Just a thought that occurred to me: how many times do people creep up on Faith without her noticing because she’s so lost in her music? (like in Beauty and the Beasts).


  9. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on April 9, 2009.]

    Foreshadowing: Buffy tells Angel that he is her last “office romance”. Well, she dates Riley in S4 and S5 and then, sleeps with Spike in S6.


  10. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 8, 2009.]

    I realise it’s hardly a pivotal moment in the episode or the series, but don’t you think a minor mention in your review that Willow and Oz finally had sex was due? While maybe it wasn’t important to the episode as a whole, it was an important moment for the character of Willow, a graduation of her own of sorts.


  11. [Note: PK3H posted this comment on October 10, 2009.]

    Good point, Selene, and what about the contrast between her experience and Buffy’s? Oz, bless him, said all the things anyone would want to hear after their first time, in contrast to Angelus’s viciousness. Plus, it was nice seeing her lying on his teeny-yet-manly chest. 😀


  12. [Note: Michelle posted this comment on April 18, 2010.]


    Does anyone notice that when Buffy is ranting at Angel, she says, ‘You come to the prom and then you disappear into the ocean.’

    Isn’t that a reference to the events of the season 3 finale of Angel and ‘Deep down’?


  13. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on May 27, 2010.]

    While I love these episodes, I really expected there to be more follow up (in Season 4) on the effect that trying to — and nearly succeeding at — killing Faith had on Buffy. But all it gets is one off-hand comment (in “Doomed”) before “This Year’s Girl.” Do we ever see a sign that Buffy is troubled by what she did, and what she tried to do?


  14. [Note: andi posted this comment on July 1, 2010.]

    hey big fan of the site. great reviews. i wanted to comment on the “buffy just sat there and listened to faith mouth off” group of people. i think the more i watch it, the more her actions seem plausible. things didnt go exactly her way (thinking of handcuff idea to keep them together), she stabs faith which must definitely be a quite a shock for buffy, but after faith knocks her down, i dont think buffy expected faith to jump off – i can see it happen as a “what the hell is going on moment” in the sense that in buffy’s mind, and from her point of view, it doesnt make sense for faith to jump, cuz buffy could just run down and take the body to angel. i think she was just taken aback by faith’s words because she wasn’t sure where she was going with it.


  15. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 28, 2010.]

    The Good:

    Xander freaking a little thinking he isn’t going to leave high school alive.

    “What page are you on, Wes? Because we already got there.” Ahh, Wesley.

    The Mayor threatening the group. Giles stabbing him. Oz’s look to Giles when this happens. The siren sound when the Mayor enters the library and when he wipes the blade. “Whoa!”

    I like Oz’s definition of panicking.

    Anya: “Fine, you know what I hope you die!….aren’t we gonna kiss?”

    Montage of Faith training, Angel dying and Buffy preparing.

    The Buffy/Faith fight. The stabbing is shocking. “You should of been there, B. Quite a ride.”

    The Bad:

    Xander: “The suspense is killing Angel.” He hates Angel. He would never say this.


  16. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on October 11, 2010.]

    I agree with Mike that this episode feels largely like a setup for Graduation 2. (Which I haven’t yet seen.) So it’s hard for me to evaluate, it’s not really a standalone.

    A couple of small character bits I liked, from two of my less-favorite characters –

    1) Angel telling off Buffy and calling her a brat. Usually Angel just does hurt puppy. This was better and more realistic — even the most understanding of lovers (as Angel surely is) has a breaking point when constantly being ripped. Angel seems a bit more, ummm, human for getting annoyed.

    2) Xander’s quiet line to Buffy about not wanting to lose her in the fight with Faith. Yes the sentiment does seem too insightful for Xander, on the other hand since Zeppo Xander does seem to have have grown, as witnessed by his purchase of Cordy’s dress in The Prom. So I bought it. (Barely.) And it was a legit concern, as Buffy’s anger and cold-blooded decision to slay a Slayer is a true threat to her humanity.

    Not crazy about Buffy doing the duel thing by notifying Faith that she has arrived, letting her take the first blow, not pulling out the knife until late, etc. That stuff did interfere with my ability to suspend disbelief. But as I’ve written elsewhere, this series constantly has Batman moments and I just gotta live with that.


  17. [Note: Ivy posted this comment on January 5, 2012.]

    Great review 🙂

    I just have one complaint about this episode, i really didn’t like the whole fact that Buffy wanted to kill Faith in the first place. I understand it was to cure Angel, but Buffy is the same one that always had certain bundaries in the whole fight against evil. Faith is still human, slayer or not, and I simply can’t justify Buffy simply deciding that she will kill Faith.


  18. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on January 28, 2012.]

    i enjoy this episode immensely, its cohesive in character development, the fluency and interactivity between the scoobies is awesome. Cool to watch. WIllow and Oz taking the next step which has been hinted at since Amends, Willow’s speech about not getting to do the normal things, the things every teenager and to me every person thinks about, the next stages in life was looking retrospectively spot on then as it is today. Quality.

    Faith and the Mayor’s scenes with Faith sharing her past with him was the most touching of the episode in my opinion. She didn’t open up much, always feeling Buffy’s shadow. I have often thought that this is the cause behind the affect. The reason for her penchant for violence and feeling like a god as you put it Mike, Faith has always considered her and Buffy being better, above others but she never understood Buffy’s take on it being the other way round, her notion of not wanting to be the slayer and all. She never let Buffy in and Buffy never truly let Faith in.

    The fight scene was the highlight of this episode no question. Season 3s version of showtime. Your mention to people complaining of Buffy descending the ladder slowly at the end was a great scene, she killed Faith, she took a life. Yes she did it for right reasons, one could argue. Conversely Buffy is finally showing a BIG difference between her and Faith, she doesn’t feel like a god here. She took no enjoyment or whimsical sense of righteousness in what she has done. She fights demons and vampires and other things that do bump in the night not people, not someone she could have considered a friend. She was feeling sorrow not necessarily for Faith but the mess, the situation, what was coming. Anyone else think the same?

    On a lighter note i love her outfit, i actually own red jeans because of her and this ep! Not leather i know but i feel somewhat empowered when i wear them! HAHA!


  19. [Note: Odon posted this comment on February 11, 2012.]

    @ John Roberts – Not crazy about Buffy doing the duel thing by notifying Faith that she has arrived, letting her take the first blow, not pulling out the knife until late, etc. That stuff did interfere with my ability to suspend disbelief. But as I’ve written elsewhere, this series constantly has Batman moments and I just gotta live with that.

    Yes, but do you really think Buffy would just creep up behind Faith and shove a knife into her back? Making it a fair fight makes it easier emotionally for Buffy to kill her. Personally I think even Faith would have done things this way – for all the hate between them there’s always been a bond as well, a sense that they’re the only two Slayers in the entire world. Faith could have shot Buffy from a distance with a poisoned arrow, but she always knew it would come down to the two of them dueling it out.


  20. [Note: Antoinette posted this comment on March 29, 2012.]

    idk if its just me but i love the scene with buffy and angel right before he gets shot. I love how mad she is about him being there/not being there. and how confused he is about it. and i love how he called her brat, i kinda thought it was cute, but thats just me. and i really enjoyed this episode. Love your reviews!!!! :)) i read them everyday!


  21. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on March 30, 2012.]

    Oden; I agree with 100 per cent.

    The bottom line is that these two women are warriors. Not killers, even though Faith dances with the darker side she wouldn’t shy away or stab the other in the back like a coward.

    Emotionally Buffy knew she would have to do battle with Faith and vice versa.

    On a similar yet slightly separate note i always viewed this battle as a test. Buffy wanting to prove she could take Faith and Faith Buffy. It stems from Faith’s first appearance before the two are attacked by vampires. Faith asks Buffy if she really thinks she could take her and again in Enemies Faith makes a comment to Buffy that she isn’t ready yet. This changes in this episode when Buffy comes to Faith’s apartment dressed as her adversary in the leather pants and black top. Not classic Power Buffy (black shirt, black pants) but still powerful. Ready to do whats needed.

    Perhaps this the reason it wasn’t the norm for two slayer’s to co-exist. In season 7 there is a constant power battle for place of leader and problems with being told what to do? -Just a quick thought.


  22. [Note: shoopuf posted this comment on April 30, 2012.]

    I really enjoyed the parallel between Faith being the only child brave enough to catapult herself off that forty foot cliff when she was a child, and then leaping off the building at the end of the episode. “I was the only one brave enough.”


  23. [Note: Afterthebattle posted this comment on August 3, 2012.]

    Faith and Buffy are beginning to blur together at this point. In the first scene in Faith is dressed up like a “good girl” (a caricature of Buffy) and in the last scene of the episode Buffy is dressed up like a “bad girl” with leather pants and heavier make-up than usual – the way Faith normally dresses. She even uses Faith’s knife. It’s also interesting to note that Buffy does exactly what Faith said would make her and Buffy the same (“Kill me, you become me”). Do anybody else have some more thoughts on this?


  24. [Note: Less newt posted this comment on August 3, 2012.]

    Ivy, 21, I think you are exactly right. This bothered me the second and third times I watched the episode (the first time I got caught up in how awesome it all was). My wife suggested that we’re supposed to feel as you do–and through that feeling recognize just how unhealthy Buffy is at that moment. And thus just how important it is that Angel leave forever, so that Buffy stops going insane.

    Afterthebattle, 27, I also think you are exactly right. To the extent that we are able to sympathize with Faith’s isolation and insecurity, but reject her actions, I think we should feel the same way about Buffy becoming like Faith. Thus, Buffy is not the good guy in this piece; she is a vengeance demon.

    There’s a flip side, though: I think we’re supposed to love Buffy, and if we see her do something truly evil (by her own standards!), because of Angel dying and especially because the Watcher’s Council refuses to take care of Buffy (by refusing the help Angel), I think we can understand her motivation. How much more, then, should we be able to understand the motivations of Faith throughout the season, when she doesn’t have anywhere near the support network Buffy has (and, in fact, Buffy’s support network fails Faith in some major ways), and the Council fails her similarly (“Oh, pip pip, you didn’t know that that was a fake Watcher? Oh, pip pip, you accidentally killed a man, we’d better abduct you incompetently! Oh, pip pip, you’re a poor, alone girl, we’ll leave you Watcherless and homeless in a motel because we’ve got the money and power to deport Giles if we want, but not enough to give you a small stipend to live on.”)? Seeing our beloved Buffy become Faith should make us recognize the extent to which Faith came to be evil for understandable, human reasons, exacerbated by the failings of the humans around her.


  25. [Note: Summer posted this comment on December 23, 2012.]

    I like the contrast between Buffy and Faith right before the fight. Buffy is taking charge, making these big decisions and Faith is waiting for orders, laying on the bed, kicking her feet while eating a twizzler and reading a comic book. Buffy is growing into a young adult while Faith is enjoying being a kid again. I mean, look at that 12 year old pink dress her new Daddy bought her. Of course, she hadn’t gotten that type of fatherly attention… maybe ever. So it’s understandable. It’s interesting to see the contrast there. AAnd then the fight scene. Gives new meaning to the word girl fight. I still need some time to process Buffy’s decision to killl… I think it highlights how her overconsuming love for Angel just drives everything in times like these. It’s the only thing she can deal with.There’s an interesting line that Xander says before he worries if killing Faith will change Buffy. He says that he doesn’t mean to play devil’s advocate but… and it made me think about Xander’s role in the overall series. I mean, there’s a lot of instances where he’s saying the unpopular thing. Of course, he believes it but the majority of the audience doesn’t… so I feel like he’s playing devil’s advocate for the audience, if that makes sense, making sure that’s there always another side for us to consider.


  26. [Note: nitramneek posted this comment on February 9, 2013.]

    I know what both Harmony and Willow where signing in their yearbooks,”have a nice graduation”, or in Willow’s case “have a great graduation!”.


  27. [Note: L.P posted this comment on June 9, 2013.]

    I love that Faith says “you should have been there B” before she jumps. I took it as Faith resenting Buffy for not being able to save her (or maybe it’s a reference to Buffy feeling guilty for not saving Faith?).

    Also, it’s great how much personality was incorporated into the choreography. Faith’s style was fittingly more aggressive and less graceful than Buffy’s.


  28. [Note: L.P posted this comment on June 9, 2013.]

    Interesting thought about Buffy becoming Faith. To add to this, before Buffy changes for her fight with Faith, she washes her face and looks at herself in a mirror. There’s set of stickers spelling LOST the lower right-hand corner of the mirror. I think it’s a reference to Buffy losing her inhibitions, “cutting lose”. It’s like she’s washing her old face away, finalising her transformation into Faith.


  29. [Note: Markichin posted this comment on June 25, 2013.]

    When I first watched the relationship between Faith and the Mayor unfold, I was expecting that one of them – most likely the Mayor – was somehow only using the other one for achieving a personal goal. After all, Faith would have been very useful to have around in order to let the ascension go smoothly. However, the genuine affection the Mayor feels towards Faith (which the second part of the episode displays most impressively) made their relationship all the more fascinating to me; it added an intriguing facet to an already very remarkable villain and offered an interesting glimpse of Faith’s psyche beyond her hard and violent façade.


  30. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on January 8, 2014.]

    Buffy, in the great dramatic tradition, tells Faith what she is planning to do instead of just doing it… and so of course Faith gets away.


  31. [Note: NJ88 posted this comment on February 6, 2014.]

    I’m probably not the only one, and this is the only time it’s happened in Buffy (I think), but on occasion, I honestly thought that The Mayor is such a fanastic villain, I kind of wanted to see him win, just so he could stick around. That’s not to say that the other ‘big bads’ in Buffy are bad, they’re pretty fantastic. But The Mayor is kind of loveable and evil all rolled into one.

    His relationship with Faith just adds to that. At first you thought it was just going to be a relationship where he manipulates her into being evil on purpose, but he develops such a bond with her and it’s actually incredibly moving to watch as it goes on. He has a ‘fathers love for her’ as described of Giles to Buffy in ‘Helpless’. It’s a fascinating thing to watch for two ‘evil’ characters to go through.

    I can also totally understand Buffy’s shock as she stabbed Faith. She’s been very much on the side of ‘we don’t kill humans’ all the way through the show, and to stab (and to think she killed) a human being she knew and liked at one point is consistent with her character. She’s 100% a good guy, as Willow said, some people just ‘don’t have it in them’ and that’s true of Buffy. So that works I think. I also don’t think she could have lived with herself if she killed Faith while her back was turned, it would have felt incredibly cowardly.

    What we did get was one of the best girl/girl combat scenes I’ve seen on television in…ever and a fitting way to take Faith out of the mix for now and to move the story between then further on. Great episode


  32. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 8, 2014.]

    I enjoyed every empowering minute of this episode. It was full of awesome character interaction, foreshadowing, the right amount of action and raunchiness and one angry Buffy! I like Gemma’s take on this that it was hard for two slayers to co-exist at the same time. Makes us wonder who made the Slayer rules the way they are. I’m glad that all of this changes in Season 7 when Buffy activates all the other Slayers and the condescending Watcher’s Council gets blown up.

    One of my favorite television fights (Buffy/Faith) is in this episode. I like the thought of Buffy wearing those saucy leather pants instead of her usual attire (Hey, at least they weren’t overalls or sweatpants!). I like to believe this is because Buffy feels ‘dirty’ somehow, ‘Faith-like’ going into the fight. The clothes symbolize that they’re going to fight as two slayers:two equals. I’ll admit I was a little taken aback with Buffy’s decision to kill Faith. Okay, I get it. Angel’s in trouble and of course her emotions are clouding her judgement but if there’s one consistency I’ve noticed with Buffy is that she’ll always look for an alternative. Killing someone human, no matter how evil and disgusting, is wrong. There are some laws that even the Slayer must abide to, there are human punishments (jail time, execution) that deal with humans like that. So I know that her mind was muddled, but buying that decision was difficult. However, I can still understand where it was coming from. A rogue slayer is no good, and Faith had crossed the limits in every way possible. She had to be put down, and if it meant restoring Angel’s health, then it made sense. Poetic justice in every sense of the phrase. Plus, I think Buffy was running on pure adrenaline, the full impact of her actions didn’t hit her till she was holding the bloody knife in her enemy’s gut.

    Some subtle touches I enjoyed included Xander breaking the news to Cordy that the Mayor’s going to kill everybody on Graduation day and Cordy’s almost unfazed reaction. “You going to 5th period?” And they shrug it off like they didn’t just discuss an apocalypse. Haha! Wonderful. I also love Anya’s talk with Xander, its just so Anya and you can just see how much she grows from this episode to the last one. It’s haunting that the school hallways she is running away from today, are the ones she’s going to die in tomorrow. Oh, well. I like to pretend she didn’t die in ‘Chosen’. Angel and Buffy’s brief spat and his clumsy entrance to the apartment. Also OF COURSE I love the Oz and Willow moment where he interrupts her rambling with a hot kiss and then they end up ‘panicking’ together. The Mayor moments were great too. Despite my despise of Faith’s hokey pink dress, I appreciated the sentiment over it. I love the fact that the Mayor-Faith relationship is a somewhat dark parallel to the Giles-Buffy relationship. Overall, not a bad pre-season finale.

    I also have the same complaints about Angel’s illness that we all know is going to be cured anyway getting way too much pity and screen time.


  33. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on November 26, 2015.]

    So I was watching a clip of Xander and Giles opening the pages of that book to reveal the full snake demon thing and I just thought why they couldn’t have just drawn it a little smaller so you wouldn’t need all those additional flippy pages. Dramatic license I guess.


  34. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on May 26, 2016.]

    I just noticed something. Isn’t the assassination attempt on Angel a suicide mission for Faith from the beginning? The Mayor surely knew that the antidote to the poison was slayer’s blood. If so, this totally changes the dynamic of the episode. The Mayor is gambling with Faith’s life and given Buffy’s general success rate and the assistance of the rest of the gang, he surely knew that she was likely to die as a result.

    The Mayor is evil. The charm and folksiness and the fake paternalism are just a ruse. It is silly to think that a man who built an entire town as a killing field would be able to love anthing.


  35. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on June 1, 2016.]

    I wouldn’t say so. We don’t know how much Wilkins knew about this mystical poison that can kill vampires. Such things likely aren’t common, and the gang had to research for a long time to find both references to it and to a vampire that had survived.

    Even if he did know about the cure (I don’t personally think he did), I’m not sure the end point was ‘Buffy would kill Faith’. He knows the good guys don’t kill people – they’re the ones who traded the box back to him despite knowing that if they did, he’d ascend and probably kill many people. He wouldn’t think they’d kill Faith even if they captured her. All in all it was just a ploy to keep the Scoobies’ attention elsewhere rather than on his impending ascension.

    The Mayor was definitely evil. But he did love Faith like an adoptive daughter. That much is clear when pretty much the only time he loses his cool is just after finding out Faith is unlikely to ever wake up. The main question Faith should have asked but never did is ‘so you Ascend – what does that mean exactly? And what happens to me, will you still need me?’ We also see in ‘This Year’s Girl’ that Wilkins had thought about the consequences for Faith should he be killed after the Ascension, and didn’t see her doing much but resuming her battles with Buffy. So he had something made to be delivered to her should he die, so she could at least strike back.


  36. [Note: Samm posted this comment on June 1, 2016.]

    I feel he knew about the cure, and it had two objectives. One to obviously distract them from his ascension, but too also have Buffy to cure Angel, and then they would be down a key player. But in hindsight he made a bad mistake.


  37. [Note: Robert posted this comment on July 5, 2016.]

    About Buffy just “laying there” while Faith got away – according to the original script after Faith backhanded her Buffy “fell hard and was badly winded.” Given how tough that fight was on her it makes perfect sense that she would already be exhausted by that point (as well as in shock at having actually stabbed Faith as others have already mentioned).

    I also love how Buffy gets into “Faith-mode” by putting on heavy make-up and the most Faith-like outfit she could get her hands on, even urging Faith into making the remark of her being “all dressed up in big sister’s clothes”. Isn’t it ironic that the only one who could bring out the “Faith” side of Buffy is Faith herself? Just like they alluded to in the “Earshot” episode about how Iago was the dark half of Othello, which is exactly why Iago has the easiest time getting under Othello’s skin.

    All in all this was brilliant writing, and easily one of my favorite fight scenes next to Faith vs. Angel in Five by Five.


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