3×22: Graduation Day Pt. 2

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 07/13/1999]

A perfect conclusion to what looks to be BtVS‘s most consistent season. Is this as good as Whedon’s own “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] from last season? Well, nothing really is since it’s my favorite episode. It’s also interesting to note that I don’t think this episode tops “Innocence” [2×14] or “Passion” [2×17] (2x17) either. One of the few things I don’t like about S3 is the lack of any real danger and minimal outpours of emotion. More discussion on this topic will be had in the S3 review. That’s not meant to diminish what this episode accomplishes though. A lot happens here and all of it is fantastically entertaining. This is an example of an episode being able to fully entertain me without wondering if the good guys will fully win. We got shock and heartbreak last season, so this is actually a nice break from the usual. There are some incredibly powerful scenes crammed in this baby though. So lets dive in!

We pick up right where part one left off, with Buffy on a rooftop outside of Faith’s apartment. She morosely, thinking she’s actually killed Faith, climbs down the ladder and heads back to Angel’s place. This is where, I must admit, a beautiful and oddly erotic scene takes place. Buffy knows she’s the only one who can cure Angel now so she offers herself to him. She tells him to not take all her blood so she can survive long enough to get blood back in her system. He at first refuses to do it. Then she literally punches him in the face trying to get him to vamp out. She finally succeeds and puts his face on her neck. Angel then finally lets the hunger inside him take over a little bit and bites into her. They fall onto the ground together while Buffy is clearly in significant pain. After a few seconds pass, though, Buffy appears to getting some kind of sexual satisfaction out of the experience. The way Angel’s positioned on top of her and in between her legs helps propel this idea further. After crunching a helmet with her hand and breaking some wood with her feet she finally loses conciousness.

I’ve spent so much time describing this scene because I find it envirgorating. In Angel’s eyes drinking Buffy is probably more satisfying, in a way of course, than having sex with her. All season long there’s been massive sexual tension between these two and this is where it’s passionately let out. All that frustration is poured into this moment and the First comes away with its first truthful statement in the show’s run (“you will drink her” in “Amends” [3×10] ).

Angel now, back to more than full health, rushes Buffy to the hospital to get blood back in her system. This brings me to a possible complaint. Why wouldn’t Buffy just carry Angel to the hospital before letting him drink her? Then she’d get immediate medical attention. Was Angel so sick he wouldn’t have made it to the hospital, or is the hospital right next door to Angel’s place? I’m just not clear on why this route was taken. Anyway, Buffy gets tended to and we find out Angel’s strength has increased significantly from having Buffy’s blood in his body.

While Angel is calling the Scooby Gang to the hospital we find out that Faith is alive but stuck in a coma. The Mayor is there looking after Faith and hears about Buffy. So he walks over to her bed and tries to choke her while unconcious. This just really underscores how, even though we kind of love his personality, the Mayor is still extremely evil. Even through this evil we see that his anger stems from his love of Faith. The Mayor is genuinely affected by Faith’s disappearance at the very beginning of the episode, and now he’s genuinely enraged by what Buffy did to her. The Mayor choking Buffy is difficult to watch, so when Angel comes in to protect her with some of her own strength, it’s extremely satisfying.

I’d like to briefly talk about Faith’s coma. I feel this is a really smart move by Whedon and it works on many levels. The first is that Buffy’s not a killer anymore even though, as I discussed in “Graduation Day Pt. 1” [3×21] , she still feels like she is. When I first thought about this I was kind of disappointed that Buffy got off the hook again (“Ted” [2×11] comes to mind). It would have been fascinating seeing Buffy having to deal with killing a human, but I see now that in this case it’s different. Faith’s a fantastic character that you don’t want to off just yet. With her coma she can wake up any time the writers want and come back into the story. This happens in “This Year’s Girl” [4×15] . So in reality I’m pretty pleased the way the Faith and Buffy arc ends up.

Right before Buffy regains conciousness she has one of her prophecy dreams. The specifics, such as if that’s really Faith or not, are confusing so I’m going to focus on the important information. Buffy, while looking at the cat on the bed, asks Faith, “Who’s going to look after him?” Faith replies, “It’s a she. And aren’t these things supposed to take care of themselves?” I could be stretching here, but since I have seen the series I’m going to put out some possibilities. I translate Buffy’s line into meaning “Who’s going to look after Dawn?” even though she doesn’t know the sex or name of the person. Faith clarifies that it’s a ‘she’ and that Buffy need not worry about these things–they are outside her influence.

Buffy then asks, “A higher power guiding us?” Faith responds, “I’m pretty sure that’s not what I meant.” I take this as meaning Buffy thinks it’s a higher power that’s going to bring forth Dawn. Faith points out that it’s not. And it isn’t, monks reform the Key to be Dawn. Buffy says, “There’s something I’m supposed to be doing.” Faith comes back, “Oh yeah. – Miles to go – Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0.” This means that there’s still two years until Buffy’s death and the resolution to Dawn’s conflict. There’s still a lot of work to do before all that happens. Faith then says some stuff I don’t know what to make of but eventually says, “You want to know the deal? Human weakness – never goes away. Not even his.” Faith is obviously referring to the Mayor here.

Buffy concludes, “How are you going to fit all this stuff?” Faith says, “Not gonna. It’s yours … Just take what you need.” I interpret that as meaning Buffy’s now back to being the only Slayer again and that she needs to take the important experiences she had with Faith and move on. This is when Buffy wakes up, walks over to Faith, and gives her a sweet kiss on the forehead. This is an amazingly packed dream sequence. If you look carefully enough you can spot many instances of foreshadowing before, but this dream is proof that Whedon really had things planned out in advance. This is another charm of the series added to the already long list of them.

After the intriguing dream sequence comes another really cool scene. The Scoobies are planning their method of defense in the library. This scene is intercutted with the Mayor’s planning scene in City Hall. These two scenes blend back and forth into each other and is edited expertly; this scene looks fabulous. Even though we’re basically just being fed exposition, it feels important and grand mostly due to that great editing and the wonderful music.

A smaller moment worth mentioning is Angel’s final words to Buffy. He tells her that after the fight he’s going to take off without saying anything. I see why he’d want to go this way, but by telling her he’s not going to say anything kind of defeats the purpose of not saying anything. All this accomplishes is making Buffy feel bad. A poor decision on Angel’s part but still completely in character. It only underscores the need for him to leave.

Now we arrive to the Mayor’s big commencement speech. He tells everyone that the speech really speaks to everyone involved, and it really does. It’s so relevant that I’m going to put it right here. He says, “It’s been a long road getting here. For you- for Sunnydale. There has been achievement, joy, good times,- and there has been grief. There’s been loss. Some people who should be here today- aren’t. But we are. – Journey’s end. And what is a journey? Is it just- distance traveled? Time spent? No. It’s what happens on the way, it the things that happen to you. At the end of the journey you’re not the same. Today is about change. Graduation doesn’t just mean your circumstances change, it means you do. You ascend- to a higher level. Nothing will ever be the same.” Nothing will be the same for these characters and the series. The high school years are now over and the characters, who have grown way past the people they were back in “Welcome to the Hellmouth” [1×01] , will launch into completely new territory. They will struggle to find their way in this new environment much like the series itself will.

The end of the Mayor’s speech leads right into his transformation into a giant snake. This is done with mediocre CGI and is barely pulled off as believable. From a distance the snake looks acceptable, but up close it’s not very good at all. I know budget was the issue here and it’s a shame. Even looking past the cheap CGI, the Mayor comes off as a much scarier and interesting villain as a person. That really says something about how amazingly well the writers built his character. This is a truly unique villain to the television landscape. In many ways I’m sad they did away with him. Anyway…

Then there’s the big fight. In “The Prom” [3×20] all the students came together to honor Buffy as a protector, and here 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 one army. Some smaller characters we’ve come to love (or quite possibly loathe), such as Larry and Harmony, get killed and I even feel a little remorse for them. This is the way this season had to end. It simply works on all levels and is a smaller example of what Buffy will accomplish in “Chosen” [7×22] . Also, who doesn’t get excessive satisfaction out of 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 an excellent season. Buffy says, “If someone could just wake me when it’s time to go to college, that’d be great.” Sounds great Buffy, I’ll see you there!

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Cordelia still thinking Buffy always has selfish motives.
+ Angel, in his delirium, thinks Willow is Buffy. Oz reveals Angel thought he was Buffy too!
+ Xander still being mean to Angel and not fully understanding the situation.
+ Buffy calling Xander and Angel “little old ladies.”
+ Buffy and the writers remembering to go back to the rooftop to pick up Faith’s knife.
+ The Cordelia and Wesley kiss scene. This is hilarious. All the build-up for that!? Haha.
+ Giles salvaging Buffy’s diploma.
+ Angel’s final goodbye stare and the ensuing walk into the night. This launches his own series.

– The Mayor’s “well, gosh!” They should have just used his regular voice here, because the way it is sounds tremendously hokey.


Foreshadowing

* Buffy’s dream with Faith is obviously directly hinting at Dawn’s arrival (“it’s a she”) and Buffy’s death in “The Gift” [5×22] (5×22, “counting down from 7-3-0”).


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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122 thoughts on “3×22: Graduation Day Pt. 2”

  1. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 29, 2007.]

    This is one hell of an episode. The last scenes where the whole school is fighting is amazing. I also love when Angel drinks Buff`s blood, it`s awesome,the music and the acting is a sucess. What the Mayor says about graduation it´s truly moving. Once again, I feel I´m a part of the Scoobies myself. Awesome stuff.

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

    The Angel biting Buffy scene is easily one of the most erotic scenes I’ve ever seen on TV… and she is fully clothed!

    Rob

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  3. [Note: Nix posted this comment on August 16, 2007.]

    I’m fairly sure that the cat on the bed is not Dawn but Faith herself. (Note the flickering replacement of that cat with Faith-in-coma and back.)

    Who’s going to look after Faith? She can take care of herself, even in a coma. (And when she comes out of it we see this is true.)

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  4. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 23, 2007.]

    Nix, I 100% agree that the cat represents Faith.

    MikeJer: “All that frustration is poured into this moment and the First comes away with its first truthful statement in the show’s run (“you will drink her” in Amends [3×10]).”

    Well, the way The First constantly runs its mouth, it *had* to say something truthful eventually, even by accident, according to the law of averages.

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  5. [Note: LibMax posted this comment on August 23, 2007.]

    For me, Graduation Day II is like Graduation Day I, a good episode but not a great episode. For a season finale, it lacks the emotional impact of Becoming Part II or The Gift (or even Grave, as far as I’m concerned – YMMV). Most of the things that are best about it are merely the payoffs of arcs set in motion earlier in the season. The Cordelia/Wesley kiss? Hilarious, but who didn’t see it coming from the Dopplegangland or earlier? The Mayor’s Achilles Heel is his very human affection for Faith? Yes, but we knew that from Enemies and Choices.

    There is the kind of thorough crafting in this episode that characterized Season Three (and that’s a good thing). Characters we had followed were there and played some kind of role. In addition to Larry and Harmony, Snyder bought it while actually trying to do his job as he understood it, the poor stupid git.

    Thing is, the army of students didn’t really accomplish anything – or to put it another way, the only thing they defended was themselves. They didn’t harm the Mayor at all. They just held him off from eating them for a minute or so, which is no better than if they hadn’t been there in the first place. So it isn’t as if the whole school actually defeated the Mayor, although the episode certainly tries to sell that idea.

    And I don’t love blowing up the high school as a metaphor for graduation. In a season about growing up and accepting adult roles and adult responsibilities, I don’t love acting out a childish fantasy as a metaphor for achieving adulthood. As an educator, I will admit to a certain bias here, but still. Oh, and MikeJer’s right – the snake sucked, at least after the morphing/tranformation shots and most especially when it was chasing Buffy through the school.

    Lots of good stuff, some very good stuff, but I don’t see it up there with The Wish or any of the other P episodes. YMMV.

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  6. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on August 23, 2007.]

    Good points again LibMax. I agree to an extent. I’d like to point out that, if I were to rank the 100s against each other up, both “The Wish” and “Graduation Day Pt. 2” would appear at the very bottom of that list. They’re both my most hesitant ‘P’ grades. There’s even the chance that one day they may not be.

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  7. [Note: Austin posted this comment on October 3, 2007.]

    Dude,I Love the music, in both parts! “Faith’s End” is really good, but “War” is almost as good as “Chosen” (the score) Thank you Chris Beck!!

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  8. [Note: Xenophon posted this comment on October 6, 2007.]

    Another part I found hilarious was when the Mayor started his speech and Buffy said something along the line of “I can’t believe he’s going to read the whole thing” with this look of disbelief on her face.

    Can someone pls explain the 7-3-0 to me?

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  9. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on October 6, 2007.]

    Xenophon, did you look in the foreshadowing section of the review? To further that, 7-3-0 means 730 days, which is exactly two years until “The Gift.”

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  10. [Note: Xenophon posted this comment on October 22, 2007.]

    Thanx Mikejer, I did read the foreshadowing, but being the blonde I am I still didn’t get it :blush:

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  11. [Note: Austin posted this comment on November 4, 2007.]

    Yeah, I didn’t get the 7-3-0 either until I looked it up online. What I don’t get is why the refer to Dawn as Little Miss Muffet, I mean I caught all the references, and I know they spell it out that Dawn is Little Miss Muffet, I just don’t understand the significance of it.

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  12. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on December 18, 2007.]

    Re The First: If its comment about Angel drinking Buffy was it’s only truthful one up until now, then who brought Angel back from hell? The First claims it did it. Were it TPTB instead?

    I’d like to add another point to this excellent review. All season long they have been rubbing our noses in the fact that the Mayor doesn’t like germs, leading us to believe that that will somehow lead to his downfall. But eventually here it is just done away with as if it is a stupid idea. I’ll take this as a nice red herring and showing the guts to make fun of your own show.

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  13. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 25, 2008.]

    You asked `Why wouldn’t Buffy just carry Angel to the hospital before letting him drink her?’

    I suspect this is because a hospital, with lots of people around, is not the *best* place on earth to bite someone and suck out a large portion of their blood supply. Someone’s likely to stop you, or (in Angel’s case) try to give you entirely useless medical attention before you even start.

    I suppose it’s a good thing Angel doesn’t have the same reaction to drinking Slayer blood that Spike is shown to have in _Fool for Love_. Shagging Buffy right *then* would have been… unfortunate.

    btw, even if the cat on the bed hadn’t flickered into Faith I’d have guessed it was a Slayer. There’s only one other cat in a dream sequence in this series, it’s exactly one season from now (in _Restless_), and it too is a Slayer.

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  14. [Note: .. posted this comment on June 9, 2008.]

    I’ve always interpreted the ‘choking’ scene as a neck cracking scene. Mayor Wilkins has nothing to choke her with? Suffocation doesn’t suffice as a valid theory either as her nostrils are exposed. Isn’t really important, though, as it’s obvious that he just wants her dead.

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  15. [Note: buffyfan14 posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    i think the way the mayor dies is kind of stupid, and his “well gosh” at the end makes the whole scene of him dying extremely silly. apart from that i love this episode especially the part when the mayor is chocking buffy and angel comes in to save her. i agree that is very satisfying.

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  16. [Note: Jvamp posted this comment on June 17, 2008.]

    I was disappointed with the Ascension. Sure, the graduation scene itself was good with the weapon reveal, but the mayors demon form was lacklustre. Angel and Wesley showing up was probably the highlight.

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  17. [Note: Tony posted this comment on June 22, 2008.]

    I don’t even think Buffy was thinking about going to the hospital after the bite. All that was on her mind was healing Angel. It was Angel who realized he must bring her to the hospital. That’s how I always saw it. Yeah I was also confused with the 7-3-0 until I read the comments, lol. And yes, the Cordelia-Wesley kiss was hilarious. You could see that Cordelia so regretted paying any attention to him.

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  18. [Note: Andrea posted this comment on July 12, 2008.]

    Another + for this episode:

    Angel thinking that Willow is Buffy… hilarious!!!!! And then Oz’s line, “You too, huh?” Gets me every time.

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  19. [Note: Andrea posted this comment on July 12, 2008.]

    And yeah, when all the kids stand up and take off their convocation gowns to fight the Mayor together always gives me shivers… A really beautiful sentiment by Joss.

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  20. [Note: HarFang posted this comment on August 31, 2008.]

    I am a bit surprised that many of you find this episode less than great. While not as shattering as Becoming 2, it still feels wholly satisfactory to me as a viewer who ALSO likes to finish a season without needing a whole pack of hankies… and it is also very significant in terms of overall progression. To me, this episode marks the end of the First Age of the show, and opens a gate into new and often more confusing territory as the character enter adulthood.
    Angel & Buffy’s drinking scene is very, very powerful stuff, second only to the scene in Smashed, and it really ties in with Buffy’s self-destructive love habits. (As opposed to Willow’s very sweet scenes).
    And the moment when the students take the fight into their own hands is beautiful, symbolic and very unexpected. Not only because it shows that Buffy somehow changed those around her, and became more than the solitary heroes Slayers are supposed to be. But after 3 years, Sunnydale High had almost become a character in its own right, so it was only fair to give it a huge, triumphant send-off and to give US a sense of closure. The departure of a significant part of the cast, along with the disappearance of the show’s main location, left BTVS with a clean slate -and potentially on the rebound.
    PS: the Security Code below spells HERO. Is that a coincidence or not?!

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

    Yeah, I don’t really buy that whole “Dawn was foreshadowed from the beginning” thing. I can get on board with what another commenter said about the cat representing Faith, but the Little Miss Muffet thing could be interpreted to mean anything. If it represents Dawn, why would the countdown be to Buffy’s death?

    Also, Angel was never actually planning on leaving without telling Buffy. It was just his way of letting her believe he’s still alive somewhere in case he’d get dusted. To spare her, really.

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

    That’s an interesting take on Angel’s remark, especially after he had seen just how far Buffy was willing to go to save his life, and it might explain the failure to leave without a goodbye (although it is SO like him to make one last King-of-Pain-Billowy-Coat appearance before striding off into the misty night…”quick, to the Angelmobile!”)

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  23. [Note: bigmoneygrip posted this comment on October 26, 2008.]

    The mayor mentioning “an Icee”, which is weird, because only here in the deep South, I think, are the slushy drinks made with Coke called “icees”. Everywhere else they are called “Slurpees”.

    (This may have been applicable to part 1)

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  24. [Note: Paula posted this comment on November 14, 2008.]

    I guess I just basically disagree with you about the Buffy/Angel “I’m not going to say goodbye” scene, Mike. The way I see it, Angel simply doesn’t feel he can do a Great Farewell Scene (which I understand), but telling her so doesn’t undermine the lack of one in any way… that’s just preparing her for the way things are going to go, which IMO she has a right to. It’s also just plain decent of him to show himself just briefly before going at the end of the episode, so that she knows for sure that he made it through the fight and doesn’t have to keep guessing what happened.

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  25. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on May 2, 2009.]

    I have to say that though the rest of the episode is great stuff and very moving, the final battle doesn’t work for me. I will explain why (sorry, this will get quite extensive):

    During the whole series we get to see that in Sunnydale the population in general never tries to find out what is going on in their city, even though perhaps several dozens, perhaps several hundreds, of them may have had some encounter with some “supernaturalâ€�, demonic powers or incidents. This seems sometimes a bit farfetched but it is, of course, one main aspect of how the series works in order to develop the caracter of Buffy (i.e., being “alone” and “special”, growing up in a world you don’t really feel part of, that isn’t noticing or caring what you are doing etc.). So this established fact is due to the prerogative of the writers to create the circumstance needed to achieve their aims. In general, they manage very well to keep this presumption credible by offering acceptable frameworks of how and up to what extent the population is involved – or rather not.

    Here, about hundred kids are involved seeing the Mayor turning into a giant snake, killing people, with a vampire horde attacking also. What happens with this fundamental experience, this “definiteâ€� knowledge afterwards? Does EVERYBODY forget it? Does NOBODY care? They have not stumbled upon it, they have been told and prepared by Buffy and her friends so by now they should pretty much know about the special nature of the city. I think it is too farfetched here that the writers still assume that afterwards everythings goes back to “normal”.

    Perhaps a consequence is that in season 4 the Initiative appears? I haven’t seen many epsiodes of that season by now, so perhaps I miss this out still. But even then, I don’t really find it credible that for the students and the entire rest of the population everything will switch back to “not knowing, not caring” after SUCH an incident. It’s going a bit too far.

    How could Buffy and their friends convince ALL the students to show up and fight? I cannot really imagine that, all of a sudden (keeping in mind that normally nobody wants to even think in earnest about these things), they could walk through the school and telling their schoolmates something like “Hey, may I have a word with you? You noticed probably that something strange is going on here in Sunnydale… and it happens that on graduation day the Mayor will turn into a demon and try to kill everyone. Could you not please help us fighting him?â€� Of course, they probably told them more subtle, but I cannot be convinced that they would actually believe them (even after they offered Buffy the “class protector” title) and even if, that thay all would stay and join the fight, though it is nice to see that Buffy for once gets the support of her schoolfellows. But this is, IMO, not how the series works, Buffy IS alone, more or less, without support from outsides; generally, she even has to take care that these do not interfere with her tasks.

    What about the parents? Have EVERYBODY convinced their parents not to show up, like Joyce? No questions asked by the parents? Or have they been told the truth? No one caring for their children, then, by not taking them away, or else? No questions, explanations needed afterwards? You cannot explain a giant snake with “drug gangs” as it was done for example to account for the vampire attack at “School hard”. Person with deformed face, even the big dragon-style demon from “The Gift” might somehow be explained away with reasonable arguments, but a man turning into a giant snake (and again, they didn’t stumble upon it but where prepared to face this, so something like “sudden mass hallucination” wouldn’t work for the people involved)? I don’t get it. As said, I don’t mind that the writers sometimes have to push forward rather lame excuses for the population in order that the general parameters of the series might be upheld. But this incident is simply too big and involves too many people. It falls IMO out of the framework the writers usually used.

    For these reason, I felt a bit dissapointed, especially as it is the season final.
    This will of course not change my admiration for the rest of the episode and the series in general!!!

    And again, thanks for the review work!

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  26. [Note: Tara posted this comment on May 18, 2009.]

    I’m going to have to disagree with the Perfect rating for this episode. In my mind Graduation Day, Part I is a far superior episode. In that episode, you criticised the fact that Joss seemed to be saving the big stuff for Part II, but that actually worked in the episode’s favour, as it racheted the tension up to almost unbearable levels, finally culminating in the explosive rooftop fight between Buffy and Faith.

    Unfortunately, the fight scene in Part II just doesn’t do justice to the painstakingly slow and well-crafted buildup of Part I. You mentioned in your Season review that the Mayor is never really scary. I have two scenes to counter this: the first is when he walks into the library in Part I. For some reason, I had always regarded the library as a kind of inner sanctum for the Scoobies; even in Becoming, a whole group of vampires was needed to stage an attack. For the Mayor to just calmly stroll in is downright unnerving. The second scene is at the hospital and the frightening detachment he displays when attempting to kill Buffy.

    However, once the Mayor becomes a giant snake, much of this tension is lost, as he becomes just another monster for Buffy to fight (and one with incredibly bad CGI at that). Even the snake in Shadow was better than this.

    Graduation Day Part II suffers in that the first half of the episode is far, far better than the second. The disturbingly erotic scene where Angel feeds of Buffy is among the most intense of the series, and this intensity is maintained right through until the hospital scene (and the nicely cryptic and oddly touching dream sequence). But while the Graduation scene and fight is hugely entertaining to watch with some fantastic character moments, I can’t help but feel it’s rather a let-down after such great build-up. It lacks the serious emotional stakes of Becoming or The Gift, and I was much more invested in the very human connection that gave the Buffy and Faith fight such power. I came away from this episode with a grin on my face (blowing up the highschool is SO appropriate for this series) but not feeling emotionally shattered the way I did after Becoming. In some ways this episode is characteristic of the Season as a whole in that it goes for the gut rather than the heart.

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  27. [Note: Cat posted this comment on October 31, 2009.]

    I was just wondering if you knew that at the end of the dvd episode (not sure if it was on the tv one), the mutant clip with the mutant going ‘err arrrg’ is wearing a graduation cap! Just a small detail – but kinda cool!

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  28. [Note: Cat posted this comment on October 31, 2009.]

    In my above comment, I meant the ‘mutant enemy’ clip btw – typo. You know, the producers of the show?

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  29. [Note: Sam posted this comment on October 31, 2009.]

    bigmoneygrip: yes, the “icee” reference is from part 1. I’m from the Midwest, and we call them Slushees, but one of the “brand names” used at movie theaters is Icee.

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  30. [Note: DFAS Giles posted this comment on November 26, 2009.]

    Mr Trick got me thinking… The counting down from 7-3-0 and the Little Miss Muffet reference are commonly thought to foreshadow the appearance of Dawn. But, as Mr Trick points out, 7-3-0 takes us to Buffy’s death in The Gift. I’m not sure what the Miss Muffet reference is there for, but it could just be a red herring. I think the more important line in the shared coma sequence is “miles to go,” which is very possibly a reference to Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. The whole line is “And miles to go before I sleep.” If 7-3-0 takes us to The Gift and Buffy’s death, she still has a long way to go and much to do before she sleeps.

    Random thought:

    For all of SMG’s athleticism, does anyone else think she is a really awkward runner?

    I have always been a Spike fan, having joined the series in season 4. However, having watched seasons 1-3 more in depth and sequentially, I have to say I do finally get the Buffy and Angel dynamic. It is very powerful, and very sad.

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  31. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on December 3, 2009.]

    @DFAS Giles – I’ve always thought the same thing about her running – she just looks so awkward. Maybe it’s the heels/boots she’s usually wearing?

    And yes, it’s easy to forget about the Buffy/Angel chemistry once you get to the later seasons (or in your case, I guess you never saw it), and Angel just starts making random pointless appearances in Sunnydale, which always seem contrived and out of place (except for in Forever). Every time I re-watch the first couple seasons though, I remember how lovely it was then.

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  32. [Note: zdravko posted this comment on January 16, 2010.]

    Nice 3-minute tracking shot in the hospital. Kinda foreshadows Whedon’s directing style in The Body.

    Like

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

    When Angel is drinking Buffy’s blood, I never interpreted Buffy’s crushing the vase or kicking the bench as showing satisfaction, though I’d like to. That scene always felt really rapey to me, and it’s hard to watch. It sorta makes me hate Angel, for a little while at least.

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  34. [Note: WK38 posted this comment on June 13, 2010.]

    “Little Miss Muffet” is definitely a reference to Dawn. In “The Real Me” one of the crazy guys says to Dawn, “I know you. Curds and whey. I know what you are. You don’t belong here.” I don’t really know how they parallel but this writing is certainly not a coincidence.

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

    The Good:

    The sexual Angel drinking Buffy scene.

    Buffy kissing Faith’s forehead in the hospital.

    The gangs reaction to Buffy’s plan, similar to ‘Chosen’ when they were shocked.

    Buffy and the Mayor going over their war plans in great cuts.

    The spectacular kiss between Wesley and Cordelia. All the sexual tension and that’s it.

    The speech of Mayor Richard Wilkins III. Very fitting and relevent even today.

    Jonathan screaming and tackling a vampire. Later holding onto Cordelia when the school explodes.

    The school explodes. C’mon, the high school explodes.

    The Bad:

    It took almost 50 seconds for Buffy to fall unconcious, yet it takes 2 seconds or less for anyone else to die.

    The tan on Cordelia in the library scene.

    The Mayor demon speaks. Why!

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  36. [Note: Jason posted this comment on September 12, 2010.]

    Regarding the interpretation of Little Miss Muffet, the only way to know for sure is to ask someone in the know. Here’s a quote I found supposedly from Dreamwatch magazine; if the quote is valid, the issue should be resolved:

    DW: When did you find out they were going to kill Buffy?

    SMG: Joss [Whedon] told me about three years ago. Were shooting a scene where Faith [was comatose]. Buffy [had] tried to kill Faith, but she had lived. [Then]Buffy had a dream where Faith said something along the lines of “Counting down from 361, Little Miss Muffet…”I don’t remember the exact riddle. I didn’t understand it, as I often don’t understand what Joss puts in sometimes. I went to him and said “Could you explain this?” and he said, “Sure, as long as you swear not to tell anyone. That was the exact number of days until the 100th episode and Little Miss Muffet was going to be Dawn, so Buffy was going to get a sister and then [that] day was going to be the day Buffy died (Sarah Michelle Geller [Buffy] Dreamwatch magazine, February 2002).

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  37. [Note: Marshall posted this comment on September 13, 2010.]

    I thought that I was the only one to think that the CGI for the snake was atomically bad…but it’s Buffy, so everything else is good. One thing I found out about Buffy is that some of the fights/monsters may look fake and very choreagraphed, but the characters and what happens to them is what really matters. Like Giles said in “Restless”, “Its about the journey isnt it?” And Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one, long yet extremely satisfying journey.

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  38. [Note: G1000 posted this comment on September 13, 2010.]

    Stillicho, very good points. A big reason why I’m not as big a fan of this episode as a lot of folks are. I still like it, but it’s not that good. Part I was so much better.

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  39. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on October 12, 2010.]

    Interesting decision on the Mayor’s part. Invulnerable demon with human visage, can live forever unbeknownst to the humans and accumulate power. Or … can become a giant snake. No hands, no feet, no golf game. So visible that even Sunnydale police will catch on that something’s not quite kosher. So lame that even HS kids can blow it up with a homemade bomb.

    Well, we all make some bad career choices.

    Seriously … this one was so hokey I don’t know what to say, except that “well gosh” fit the mood perfectly.

    Alright, the two kissing scenes were outstanding, in very different ways. That much I can say.

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  40. [Note: Flo posted this comment on October 12, 2010.]

    @John:

    I assume the invulnerability state – as a preparing state for the Ascension – wouldn’t have lasted forever; so he would have to go through with the hole thing. Also, even when invulnerable, the Mayor still didn’t wield that much direct power. All he ever could do was send out his cronies and wait for his big day.

    But I agree of course that realistically wouldn’t have survived in his demon form for long once anyone with heavy weaponry (the US army most likely) noticed him.

    Unless maybe if he intended to open the Hellmouth soon after the Ascension.

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  41. [Note: Flo posted this comment on October 12, 2010.]

    On second thought, considering that at least on Ascension already happened without leaving much of a historic footprint, I assume that the new born demon would move over to some demon dimension after a while.

    No idea why the Mayor would want to do that (except maybe escape the fallout of the hellmouth ending the human world), but then he is quite mad.

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  42. [Note: Flo posted this comment on October 12, 2010.]

    Sorry for the tripple post, but having just rewatched Graduation Day I am compelled to add some ramblings myself.

    First, about the Dream: If Jason’s quote is genuine, then it’s kinda hard to argue against the Dawn forshadowing. Although I still find it strange that the cat changes into the comatose Faith. Maybe this hints at a connection between Dawn and Faith: Both in a way represent aspects of Buffy she has to overcome(Faith – her dark side; Dawn – her childhood).

    About the plot itself, I kinda have to agree with Stilicho that world and story consistency obviously took a backseat to the message Whedon (and his team) wanted to bring across here. In that it reminds of the season 7 ending, which also saw a whole group of (newly empowered) people fighting the evil. And in both instances it mostly served to buy som time to get ready for the main event (although I think this ‘main event’ made a lot more sense here than it did in season 7).

    What bugged me more than the obvious world-inconsistencies (which are to be expected of Buffy – in particular during the first three seasons) is that I found that both Buffy’s slaying of Faith and her sacrificing her blood for Angel should have had a bigger fallout.

    Although Buffy didn’t quite kill Faith, she clearly intended to, and for all intents and purposes she did, for the time being. Yet we see no reflection about this drastic step to kill a human being, after all teh fuss made about Faith’s deed earlier (one could of course say that Faith was much less an innocent than the man she killed, but I don’t think that really makes a difference for the act itself).

    The other thing, Angel drinking Buffy’s blood had surprisingly little effect on the further course of events, it seemes mainly to serve as a way to get them a last sexual encounter (this time giving life, instead of destroying it – which I suppose does possess some inner beauty), and maybe to imbue Angel with some additional strength for his own series.

    Considering what is at stake for all of Sunnydale while Buffy is taking a serious risk with Angel, and weakening herself in the process, I can only find her actions to be objectively ill-advised, and expsing a weakness of her own. In her defense though, it is very important for her character’s moral integrity not to sacrifice individuals for the greater good (as seen a few eposides before regarding Willow, and later in season 5 regarding Dawn). And it is really this integrity which makes her the hero she is; so I can not blame her for her actions, altough as in season 5 it does represent both a strength and a weakness of hers.

    So instead of Buffy (with a little help from her friends) quite miraculously counjuring up a solution to the Mayor problem by herself (and apparently within the span if a single day), I think it would have been a good idea to actually let the Watcher’s council come in and help.

    At least the acquisition of all the weapons would have become much clearer with their involvement. And for them to just sit by and watch a whole town be obliterated just to spite one unruly slayer, seems unlikely for such a supposedly powerfull and (ultimately) benevolent organization. I find the writers have gone a little over board in depicting the Watchers as a useless bunch of old man who never manage to get anything right. I understand the rebellion against these traditional authorities is an important part of Buffy, but it is treated a little one-dimensional, and imo in this case hurts the overall plot.

    But I suppose the emotional payoff to overcome school against all (apparent) resistances by the grown-ups is more poignant the way Whedon did it, and maybe that’s worth sacrificing some plot-consistancy over.

    PS: I just remembered that I haven’t thanked MikeJer for his wonderfully written, finely-observed and insightful reviews yet. So thank you Mike; you always manage to shed light on aspects of the show I never would have discovered myself.

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  43. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on October 13, 2010.]

    Joss gets schmaltzy here and in The Prom — in each case, a rare public recognition of Buffy’s role. The Prom was the award and applause, this was the entire senior class joining her as junior Scooby Slayers.

    I dunno, I wasn’t buying this one, even though I teared up at The Prom. Partly because my disbelief was not adequately suspended, what with an entire student body smuggling arms and nobody notices, and oh yeah they are Robin Hood with the flaming arrows. The bigger part is probably that a bit of schmaltz goes a long ways and Joss used up his Season 3 quota a couple of episodes back, for me.

    The school blowing up worked on several levels — Buffy having torched her last school too (the gym, right?), closure on the Sunnydale High BtVS setting, symbolic of Buffy’s rejection of (The Council’s) authority, subversive in a BtVS way, and finally great fun for all the younger viewers.

    Flo is right — The Council is one shabby organization. First, they have it in for Buffy and Giles although gee, Buffy has slain 10 trillion superdemons that have thrashed other Slayers, lived for 900 years laying waste, etc. But somehow The Council never noticed. Then, they send an effed up replacement Slayer in Faith. Then they send a corrupt Watcher in Ms. Whatever. Then they send Wesley. So let’s get this straight … Giles and Buffy have competence issues to The Council, while Wesley is their idea of a man who gets the job done. Riiiight.

    Ah well as we don’t see them, it works out OK. If I saw them gather, I’d have to laugh. That would be a Doctor Who moment. The allegedly scary gathering of bad adult actors who appear to have the collective intelligence of a first grade class.

    I am gonna miss The Mayor. I already miss Mr. Trick. Hope Spike returns soon.

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  44. [Note: Jason posted this comment on October 13, 2010.]

    I also didn’t really buy this episode (and did completely by The Prom). In fact, for me this is the least impressive season finale (with S5 and S2 the most). But I know I’m in the minority on this.

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  45. [Note: Joe posted this comment on October 13, 2010.]

    John: while I agree that The Council is quite a discombobulated bunch, some of the things you point out need some reexamining, I think. As far as I can tell, the Council doesn’t actually choose the Slayer–they simply guide her. I mean, when she first gets called, Buffy isn’t exactly a hero type: she’s superficial, pretty ditzy, and a valley girl. And in “Revelations” it is made clear that Gwendolyn Post no longer actually works for the Council–she was kicked out before coming to Sunnydale. As we see in “Checkpoint,” the Council is ALL like Wesley–they are stuffy and don’t understand what it’s like to really be in battle. So I can completely see how the Council would think he’s ideal for the job.

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  46. [Note: John Roberts posted this comment on October 14, 2010.]

    Joe –

    Thanks for the correction. Got a bit sloppy there.

    Am realizing in watching the first few episodes of Angel, and The Freshman, that as fertile as the Sunnydale HS scene is — and it is — and as outstanding as S2 and S3 were — and they were — that it was time for a change. Graduation Day brings a new wind, and that is good.

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  47. [Note: KatieJ posted this comment on December 14, 2010.]

    RIP Larry. The CGI snake ruined this episode for me. Like Xander says at the end, “We got out pretty cheap considering.” I agree Xander. I agree.

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  48. [Note: Wim posted this comment on January 21, 2011.]

    Hi Mike. Coming quite a bit late to the game here, since I only discovered Buffy a few months ago. I thoroughly enjoy your reviews, and all the input from the commenters. So now it appears to be time to delurk, and put in my two cents.

    I wanted to comment on the much-discussed drinking scene of Buffy and Angel. There is always the chance that seeing something says more about the person seeing than what is actual there to see. But apart from the sexual overtones in this scene I think there’s something else at work as well. It appears as if Buffy is presenting her neck, as a woman would offer herself to her baby before feeding.

    She is then more literally nursing Angel back to health. In the act she becomes not only his lover, but also his mother. If Psych 105 serves me correctly, that would be the ultimate man’s dream. It also correlates rather nicely with her fierce protectiveness towards Angel, taking care of him, and rescuing him (“Nobody messes with my boyfriend”).

    Seeing how Joss Whedon very much loves to subvert standards and cliches it would seem fitting that an eighteen year old girl would have motherly feelings towards her 243 year old boyfriend.

    Since their relationship is now fully complete, it has nowhere else to go, and when Angel is actually leaving, Buffy’s face reflects grief, but also resignation. This is how it’s supposed to go.

    Of course I welcome other views on this. Thanks again for your excellent site and reviews.

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  49. [Note: Erin posted this comment on July 8, 2011.]

    I loved this episode; it was a great ending to season three.

    Great stuff

    Cordelia staking a vampire

    Willow and Oz – they are so adorable

    Snyder being eaten

    During Principal Snyder’s speech, he says ‘Spit out that gum’

    The hilariously terrible kiss between Wesley and Cordelia

    Oz saying ‘We attack the Mayor with hummus.’

    Willow and Harmony exchanging yearbook-signings.

    Not-So-Great stuff

    Sorry, but the giant snake was so horribly fake. Would’ve worked out great if it hadn’t looked like a plasticene sculpture.

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  50. [Note: nk posted this comment on July 28, 2011.]

    I’m never sure whether to mock or admire the writers for consistently using these unconvincing snake demons. It seems like there’s just something about them that never works, but they keep bringing them back anyway.

    I’ve also got to agree with the person who said that The Mayor wanting to turn into a giant, vulnerable snake seems a bit odd in retrospect – what was his ultimate aim, I wonder?

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  51. [Note: Dave posted this comment on August 7, 2011.]

    I have to say, I think the most beautiful and touching scene of this two-parter is when Buffy wakes up and goes looking for Faith, the gives her a gentle kiss on the forehead.

    It says so much about her, that she could thank her for what she may/may not have done. (Shared prophecy dreams, perhaps?) How Faith looks so vulnerable and fragile, as though her guilt only shows in her sleep.

    Maybe I read too much into it, but I see so much in this short scene, it’s unbelievable.

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

    A satisfying conclusion to a bitter sweet season, High school is over and as Oz poetically put it they survived but not without loss, Jenny calendar, Faith, the list is endless. The experiences and the characters are going to be forever different from now on but i always have a soft spot for the first three seasons, in particular the 1st and 3rd because it gave us, it deepened, it explored and was magical. Buffy and the gang are like friends and if it wasn’t for these first three seasons of triumph, pain and loss they wouldn’t be who they are in the 4th to 7th.

    Back to this episode though.

    I loved the coma scene with Buffy and Faith, a foreshadowing of the episode restless? AND Seasons to come, setting up Dawn and Glory.

    The meeting in the library, when they are planning their attack on The mayor, was priceless! Cordelia and the germ theory, Oz and the idea of Humous! Giles’ reaction to that announcement was comical and cool!

    The awkward kissing between Wes and Cordy was to funny!

    I always think back to Welcome to the Hellmouth and The Harvest when i watch this episode, the scene in that episode with Giles saying who knows what we will face next? Who’d though it would be a Big snake who was once Sunnydale’s Mayor and original founder! I love the backstory to The Mayor, him being immortal or at least the notion of having sold his soul to build this town for demons and vamps to feed on was epic.

    The battle scene was great, a climax befitting a great season. All the students coming together will now mean that what Giles said in the first two parter of the inaugural season that people have a habit of forgetting, being able to subvert their own brains as it were to tell themselves that demons don’t exist will no longer be possible they all fought a giant snake!

    Oh and synder being eaten? Classic!

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  53. [Note: KaniacMonster posted this comment on February 14, 2012.]

    WHAT THE FUCK! “WELL GOSH” IS LIKE SOOO HILARIOUS! Because it’s so silly!

    But seriously though, I agree 100% on this. I know I’m way late on this, but I was curious as to a meaning of the Faith/Buffy dream. I love the way you’ve dissected it. I think those are some really valid points. Joss Whedon is a mastermind and genius, that is a REALLY, really intense scene. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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

    I love that Cordelia staked a vampire because Charisma really wanted to. You got a brief glimspe of what it would have been like if she was buffy. She would have done a good job but she’s not delicate enough. In heels, she’s pretty tall. I love that the students of Sunnydale fight back! I agree it wasn’t very effective and also was a bit hard to believe… Buffy doesn’t like the sacrifice the innocent but we did lose some good classmates in that battle and honestly, they never stood a chance. I mean, it took the scoobie 3 years of fighting to even become ten percent effective in the physical fight. It was a little like sending them to the slaughter. Why couldn’t Buffy tell everyone to stay away? Of course, Snyder was under orders to have everyone there… was there more of a threat than no diploma that made it pretty impossible to just tell everyone to stay home? But in the greater context of the show… the battle scene with all the students is pretty awesome. I especially liked Xander finally being second in command. I’ll always be confused by Snyder’s involvement in it all. He knows that Sunnydale is different but I thought he was more in the loop than he actually was, I guess.Blowing up the school was fun! Say goodbye to high school, Buffy style!

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  55. [Note: Arachnea posted this comment on February 27, 2013.]

    I’ll comment here about the last 3 episodes because they are linked.
    I loved “The Prom” because it was refreshing to watch almost everyone acting so selflessly. It showed how a little good communication can help and it rewarded the good deeds; everything was earned with good reasons.

    I agree with what “Less Newt” said in previous comments: it bothered me that it wasn’t clearly intended to show how much Buffy’s actions are wrong in “Graduation Day”. She intends to kill a human being – guilty or not is irrelevant, it’s a person, not a zombie – for vengeance and personal gain. And it’s all about Angel. I find it interesting that Angel came to Sunnydale to help the Slayer but almost ends up ruining her life. First by trying and becoming her boyfriend, then by transforming into Angelus, and finally for wanting to remain her lover !

    What drove Buffy to run away ? Having to kill Angel and lose Angel.
    What makes her lack self-confidence in love(and sexual)relation ? Angel losing his soul and then mocking her.
    Angelus undid some of the foundations of trust between the gang and Buffy, by killing miss Calender, torturing Giles and threatening Willow.
    What made Buffy lie to the Scoobies ? Angel’s return.
    What made Buffy want to kill ? A cure for Angel.
    How did Buffy willingfully almost die, thus letting the mayor ascend and doom all her friends ? Saving Angel !
    It was time for Angel (at age 240 +) to realise how wrong he was for a young inexperienced girl, having nothing to give but his love (love can’t be enough in this case) and sorrow.

    So I’m glad Angel left to let Buffy make other mistakes than her obsession for Angel. I know, I’m a bit harsh with this comment, but the Angel/Buffy relation has been so destructive that I thought it worth mentioning because I so wanted it to be acknowledged on the show. And the fact that she saves the day at the end makes her the hero (which is true) but also makes Buffy’s wrong actions remain in background with very few consequences.

    The end is also poorly handled: I liked the end of high-school allegory, but they don’t really acknowledge the death toll. Yes, the scoobies made it through, but how many others didn’t ? And I’m just talking about the final battle, where the students role is mostly to be canon-fodder to slow the mayor so that Buffy (the ridiculous bomb :P) can slay him.

    Obviously, you understood that “Graduation Day” were not my favorite episodes, but don’t get me wrong, there’s also plenty of excellent material in them and didn’t disliked them. I’d give the both a B-.

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  56. [Note: Rob W. posted this comment on April 28, 2013.]

    ‘Buffy says, “If someone could just wake me when it’s time to go to college, that’d be great.” Sounds great Buffy, I’ll see you there!’

    That line always cracks me up, good joke on the part of the writers.

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  57. [Note: Jen posted this comment on May 26, 2013.]

    Just remembered one tidbit from this episode that bothered me, after reading Summer’s comment above. When the mayor is surveying the area being set up for the graduation ceremony with Snyder, their conversation sounds like Synder is a colleague in evilness with the mayor. (This also fits with several other incidents where Snyder calls the mayor to update him on what Buffy is doing, and also when he colludes with the police to cover up the vampire attack at the high school, both from season 2, I believe.) The mayor says that Sunnydale owes Snyder a debt of gratitude, and that this debt will be repaid in full. Then once he ascends, one of the first things he does is kill his “ally”. What a charming friend to have:-)

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

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it already, but I think that Buffy saying „Faith and I just made that bed“ to Tara during her dream in season 4’s finale “Restless” would both support the Dawn foreshadowing theory about her dream in this episode and form another connection between the finales of seasons 3 through 5. Also, 7:30 is the time on the clock in the “Restless” scene; according to Tara “that clock’s completely wrong”, which would make sense as half of the time since graduation to the events of “The Gift” would have passed already.

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  59. [Note: declan4 posted this comment on June 25, 2013.]

    I have to add to the discussion about the Buffy/Faith dream sequence- i got the impression it was a shared dream, something unique. Faith subconsciously telling Buffy how to kill the Mayor (“human weakness”- afterall his affection for Faith was only obvious to us, none of the scoobies saw it).
    Secondly and more importantly i pretty sure Faith and Buffy do some essence/strength sharing thing (“take what you need”) because afterwards Buffy just *gets up* after being drained of blood. I can’t think of any other explanation.
    Again i’m sure this is subconscious on Faith’s part- she knows she picked the wrong side and wishes to make amends/help. Afterall she’s pretty steamed with Buffy after she wakes up

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  60. [Note: thebuffster posted this comment on August 25, 2013.]

    I also thought it was interesting that when Angel joins the final fight scene Wesley and Cordeila are with him and they obviously go with him to his own show. Nice little piece of foreshadowing? Great reviews Mike!

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  61. [Note: Domestibot posted this comment on September 26, 2013.]

    I can agree that “little miss muffet,” was always intending to reference dawn, but not the cat.

    I think the cat (and cats in general, in buffy’s mind) were meant to represent Faith, and slayers. While this cat represented faith, later in Restless we see the first slayer being represented as miss kitty fantastico. Tara was also the voice of the first slayer in these dream sequences, so it’s interesring to see her take kind of a dual role in willow’s dream as herself, and the voice of the first slayer: “I think it’s strange she hasn’t told us her name.” (talking about the first slayer) and “you don’t know everything about me.” (speaking as the first slayer/possibly herself as well.)

    in this dream, buffy asks who will “look after him,” the cat used to represent Faith, until she’s corrected “it”s a she.”

    All slayers are girls.

    Faith then goes on to say “aren’t these things supposed to take care of themselves?” which, yes, could apply to cats, but it also applies to the nature of the slayer and the source of conflict between buffy and the first slayer was all about, with the latter believing buffy should abandon her friends and effectively take care of herself.

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  62. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on December 7, 2013.]

    Somehow to me faith being in Buffy’s dream foreshadows dawn, before dawn artificially popped up in Buffy’s life, faith was the closest thing resembling a sister, that and she was talking about dawn a lot in the dream. I know it sounds a little stupid of me, but that’s what I got out of it.

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  63. [Note: Faith posted this comment on December 8, 2013.]

    I think you’re right. I can’t remember which dream sequence it is because I haven’t watched in a long time but I remember Faith saying ‘little miss muffet counting down from 730’ (actually, this one must have been GDPt.2 because 730 is two years) and in another one she says ‘little sis coming’ (I think this is This Year’s Girl.) Also in Restless Tara tells Buffy to be ‘back before Dawn’ who appears in the next episode. All the foreshadowing of Dawn occurs in dream sequences.

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  64. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on December 8, 2013.]

    I just kept thinking, “that can’t really be faith!” it would have been really out of character if it was.

    I think the dreams in the buffy verse are extremely cryptic and faith being in Buffy’s dream was just another symbol, maybe I’m wrong, but that is what I got out of it.

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  65. [Note: Faith posted this comment on December 8, 2013.]

    No it’s not really Faith, in a dream sequence the only ‘real’ character is the one having the dream. Although that dream appears to transition between being Buffy’s dream and becoming Faith’s dream – just like there’s another shared dream sequence in … Amends, is it? I can’t remember.

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  66. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on December 13, 2013.]

    QUOTE: We pick up right where part one left off, with Buffy on a rooftop outside of Faith’s apartment. She morosely, thinking she’s actually killed Faith, climbs down the ladder and heads back to Angel’s place. This is where, I must admit, a beautiful and oddly erotic scene takes place. Buffy knows she’s the only one who can cure Angel now so she offers herself to him. She tells him to not take all her blood so she can survive long enough to get blood back in her system. He at first refuses to do it. Then she literally punches him in the face trying to get him to vamp out. She finally succeeds and puts his face on her neck. Angel then finally lets the hunger inside him take over a little bit and bites into her. They fall onto the ground together while Buffy is clearly in significant pain. After a few seconds pass, though, Buffy appears to getting some kind of sexual satisfaction out of the experience. The way Angel’s positioned on top of her and in between her legs helps propel this idea further. After crunching a helmet with her hand and breaking some wood with her feet she finally loses conciousness.

    I’ve spent so much time describing this scene because I find it envigorating. END QUOTE.

    I’m sorry, but you haven’t actually spent that much time discussing the scene. Your reviews of other series finales have much longer discussions of scenes than this. It just seems an odd choice of words. This whole review actually seems a little shorter than I’m used to from this site.

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  67. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 9, 2014.]

    This episode was bittersweet for me. It was a good episode for sure, there’s always something good in every Buffy episode. It was a good finale too, I just guess I expected a little more from it because I truly loved this season. I notice this on rewatch, because my first time around I was simply caught up in how consistent and unbelievably awesome this show was.

    This episode and season is a pure example of the anticipation to an event being much more effective than the event itself. I’ve gotta say, the build-up to the Mayor’s ascension was pretty great, but what we ended up with was media core at best. A lot of this has already been discussed so I won’t get into it too much, but I can’t help but agree to the people who thought the giant snake was absolutely ridiculous. It cheapens the Mayor’s arc entirely, who I personally feel was such a great villain that he deserved a better send-off than this. Instead of being emotional and impactful, they get rid of him with a far-fetched plan that seems to strike Buffy out of nowhere, and then he dies, his last words being less than satisfying–“Oh Gosh!” In that terribly corny voice! Cringe-worthy! It just ruins the entire fight sequence for me. It truly wasn’t Buffy at its best. That’s not to say that it was a bad episode, because it wasn’t at all.

    I agree to Flo on pretty much all that was said. The Watcher’s Council are grey characters at best, I never understood exactly what they did. You’ve got such a large organization for one single girl, and then you refuse to do your part? There are a lot of aspects to the Buffy history and universe that I don’t fully register till date. How much of the human aspects of a person are reflected in them when they turn into a vampire? Did the rest of the world know about Sunnydale’s constant Supernatural occurrences? How big was Sunnydale anyway? How much are the Watcher’s Council allowed to intervene with their slayers? And so many other unclear questions.

    My favorite part of this episode was the vivid dream sequence. I think I would second to declan4’s theory that it really was Faith in the dream. Since they’re both Slayers, I’m just going to assume that they have a connection. It obviously wasn’t Faith entirely, probably just her sub-conscious mind, the part of her mind that still wanted to do good. Buffy wasn’t there to see all of Faith and the Mayor’s interactions, and I don’t like to use the Powers that Be explanation on BtVS, so I think I can assume it was really Faith (at least, a part of her) talking to Buffy and warning her. I find the ‘Little Ms Muffet counting down from 7-3-0″ a really nice touch. Joss seriously had his show panned out, this is what makes a good writer. I love foreshadowing bits, and this was full of them!
    All the Dawn-related warnings come to Buffy in dreams, this is a really nice way of driving home the fact that it was all a set-up brought forth by powers beyond Buffy’s control. It also makes Dawn’s ‘being the Key’ thing that much more believable. I agree to Domestibot, the cats always represent Slayers. This one flickered and we briefly saw a comatose Faith. I don’t think the cat was Dawn, it was representing Faith. She was telling her that she can hold her own and take care of herself, she usually does, she always did even before she turned into a Slayer. Great stuff.

    I’m so glad Angel left, I’ll miss him on this show, yes. But the Buffy and Angel angst was running so high throughout Season 3 that it was borderline depressing.
    This opens up Buffy’s love life and enter Riley and then the Spike drama!
    That’s going to be one hell of a ride. Anyway, I’m going to miss Cordy too, she’s hilarious in this episode with her germ theory and her slobbery kiss with Wesley! Its also kinda foreshadowing that Wesley and Angel are running into battle together, considering what will go down on aTs. I’m not sure whether I’m glad or disappointed that Snyder got eaten, he was a character I loved to loathe. Whatever it was, the poor half-wit got eaten, and that’s a fate nobody deserves. RIP Larry, who I always enjoyed watching. Harmony gets turned into a vampire here! Anyway, I agree that everyone coming together and fighting was blown out of proportions and didn’t make a lot of sense. How did they manage to snag so many weapons and convince all the students that there was danger ahead so easily and in so little time? I guess we have to leave some of our sensibilities behind when we watch this show. Anyway, whether or not this was a great episode, it was largely satisfying. Oz and Willow were adorable, the last Xander-Angel moment was hilarious and I loved it when Buffy called them ‘little old ladies’, the exchange in the library and Oz’s propelling idea about attacking the Mayor with hummus always sticks with me. Lots of redeeming material there!

    I loved that the High School got burnt to the ground! I mean, really, being a High School student, I almost wish I could burn down my High School! There’s also a strange sense of irony with Buffy having burnt down the gym of her old school. Anyway, I enjoyed the last scene where they all just stand there and realize that High School is over and they made it out more or less intact. Also the subtle touch at the end where we see the pamphlet “Class of 1999, to the future!” (or something like that. I can’t remember the exact words.)

    …Onto Season 4!

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  68. [Note: Joy posted this comment on April 12, 2015.]

    After watching Graduation Day umpteen times, I just noticed the lonnnnnng “oner” in the scene when Angel brings Buffy to the hospital. It’s 2:51 minutes long! From the moment Angel comes in the doors with Buffy in his arms, until he stops the mayor from suffocating Buffy, is one single take. This may be one of Joss Whedon’s longest oners.

    The oner gives the viewer the feeling that a lot of things are happening simultaneously in the hospital, beyond what they can see themselves. It gives the scene a great sense realism. It’s so well done that I had to watch it four times to be sure it was a oner. I kept getting absorbed in the drama, forgetting to concentrate on the camera work.

    Another thing I just noticed is the painting in Faith’s apartment during the dream that Faith and Buffy share. It looks like a big snake on a table.

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  69. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on April 13, 2015.]

    I wonder if the oner was an intentional bit of symmetry, given that “Anne” had that 2+ minute shot with everyone except Buffy/Angel.

    Also, I think Serenity‘s opening shot is upwards of five minutes.

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  70. [Note: Joy posted this comment on April 13, 2015.]

    Dang, 4 minutes, 28 seconds is long!

    I never noticed the oner in Anne. Gotta go watch it again. Is there a list somewhere of all of Joss Whedon’s oners?

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  71. [Note: Zarnium posted this comment on July 31, 2015.]

    I watched this episode with my Dad a few days ago, and he pointed out something hilarious that I never noticed before: When the Mayor transforms, all of the parents run away. Not a single one goes to their child. I doubt that there’s any purposeful meaning behind this, but it’s still a really bizarre visual.

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  72. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on August 14, 2015.]

    RIP The Library set. Giles’ house, The Magic Box and Buffy’s house had nothing on that set.

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  73. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 18, 2015.]

    [Buffy concludes, “How are you going to fit all this stuff?” Faith says, “Not gonna. It’s yours … Just take what you need.” I interpret that as meaning Buffy’s now back to being the only Slayer again and that she needs to take the important experiences she had with Faith and move on. This is when Buffy wakes up, walks over to Faith, and gives her a sweet kiss on the forehead. This is an amazingly packed dream sequence. If you look carefully enough you can spot many instances of foreshadowing before, but this dream is proof that Whedon really had things planned out in advance. This is another charm of the series added to the already long list of them.]

    Proof that Whedon was thinking one season in advance plus a little extra. He confirmed this in an interview where he said a season’s plotlines were already largely figured out a year or so in advance. So it’s not too unreasonable that hints to Dawn (looking retrospectively) pop up here. The end of S4 would already have been figured out, plus a little of S5. There’s no evidence for deilberate forshadowing any further than that.

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  74. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 18, 2015.]

    I consider the blowing up of the High School an awesome but pretty huge plot hole. It’s a stretch to consider nobody faced any kind of questioning or police interest after the local high school EXPLODED, using home-made explosives no less. I’d like to have at least seen someone work a spell on someone to convince them it was an accident. I mean, there’s also the charred remains of a giant demon snake in there!

    It was also awesome but stretching to assume all the SH students would go ‘yeah, lets fight’ instead of ‘you’re a loony, a giant snake?’

    Overall this finale doesn’t do enough, sadly. It has big explosions and lots of ‘awesome’ moments, but it doesn’t do enough to avoid jarring me out of my immersion in the setting when people can blow up buildings freely, convince an entire student body that they have to fight a giant snake within a day, and convince me that nobody predicted there would be a total eclipse.

    They should’ve concentrated on disrupting the ceremony so that the minimum students, teachers and parents died in the fight with the Old One/True Demon form that the Mayor changes into. BtVS has always been about the fight happening away from the world, to protect people and stop them interfering. I’d have preferred a plan to lure the Mayor away earlier. The demon itself is also pretty dodgy CG, and Angel managed to create a much creepier Old One/True Demon in human form with Illyria years later. Why did the Mayor need to turn into a snake demon? Why is that a good thing for him? Surely he realises that blown apart or riddled with bullets is how it would end for him? Is there another aspect to the Ascension that we didn’t see (such as retaining the ability to shift back into human or a human-sized demon form)?

    Also, it’s minor but Xander deserved something of a put-down for being such a prick here. Buffy GAVE Angel her blood and Xander still says it’s selfish for him to have done it. Plus the sniping during the Ascension deserved a retort at least, if not a physical reaction. I’m really, really glad Angel broke Xander’s face in ‘Enemies’. I wish he’d reminded him of it here and offered to try it again, petty though it was. Angel was consistently very restrained around Xander and it was sickening seeing them all let Xander get verbal jabs in.

    All in all, an ok episode with a final few scenes that provide closure while not being very satisfying overall. I don’t think S3 is poor, but it is far from matching S2 in terms of episodes and overall arc, regardless of the scores they got on this site.

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  75. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 18, 2015.]

    [Anyway, Buffy gets tended to and we find out Angel’s strength has increased significantly from having Buffy’s blood in his body.]

    I don’t remember this being explained like this. A Slayer’s blood cures the poison and allows Angel to heal up, making him able to fight in the Ascension. Do they ever mention that Slayer blood makes vampires stronger?

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  76. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 18, 2015.]

    Well if Angel was able to get powered up by drinking the blood of a powerful being in his own finale I suppose it makes sense.

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  77. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on September 19, 2015.]

    Regarding Season 2 vs. Season 3, I think most would agree that the S2 arc (if we’re just including Surprise/Innocence/Passion/maybe IOHEFY/Becoming 1&2) is more emotionally potent than the S3 arc, but surrounding all those S2 eps are stuff like Bad Eggs, Killed By Death, and Go Fish, which are, to me, among the worst MotWs the show ever produced (I don’t really think all that much of the silly werewolf costume in Phases, either). Whereas the in-between eps of Season 3, like The Zeppo, Earshot, Prom, and Doppelgangland, are generally considered to be more ambitious, compelling, or entertaining. You could also throw away a number of early Season 2 eps (like Some Assembly Required, Inca Mummy Girl, and Reptile Boy) without losing much in the way of crucial character development, whereas even the “filler” episodes in Season 3 usually contain more of an emphasis on character and overarching story.

    So, I wouldn’t only say that Season 3 is Season 2’s equal; I think, overall, it’s slightly better. Bottom line: when recommending the show to new viewers, I wouldn’t be above encouraging them to skip around six episodes, whereas I’m fine with them watching every single ep from Season 3. Hell, Gingerbread, whatever its shortcomings on a plot level, has a LOT of funny dialogue.

    And regarding the ANGEL series, I think Seasons 2, 3, and 4 all had rather underwhelming final arcs (those being Pylea, Connor, and Jasmine). I did like the S4 coda ep, though. And I was never sold on Charisma as an actress (save for as occasional comic relief), so I was sort of glad when she left BtVS and was replaced by Emma. To me, outside of the Faith two-parter in Season 1, ANGEL didn’t hit its stride until Wesley was given some edge as a character, which took some time. My favourite season of ANGEL, and the only one I currently own on DVD (sold the rest), is Season 5, because Fred and Gunn were finally given something unique and meaningful to do, and Spike provided very amusing comic relief, and was a good foil for Angel. And I also felt the overall premise was more original and focused, with them having to work from the inside of the beast (Wolfram & Hart). I do think the ANGEL series had a bit slicker visual style than much of BtVS, but so do a lot of shows; I come for the characters, and I didn’t much care for half of the cast until the final season. Anyways, as I don’t intend to post in the ANGEL forum, I decided to post this here. I recognize it wasn’t much related to the episode in question (that being Grad Day 2), but I’ve said my piece on the matter, and now I’ll move on.

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  78. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 19, 2015.]

    The Faith two-parter really was great. It really gave you a story you could be invested in and it effectively tied in with the redemption aspect of the show. The rest of the season is hit or miss but still

    Season 2 was my peak for a while given the really effective Beige-Angel arc as it’s called. The stuff in Reprise/Epiphany was mind-glowingly excellent. Looking back parts of it were kind of average but that main story was some primo stuff.

    Season 3 and 4 kind of suffer from heavy arc emphasis that led to some disappointments but there was definitely a lot of good drama and ideas to be found and the Wesley material was pretty strong.

    Season 5 wasn’t my favourite initially (maybe cause of the first couple episodes) but it has a lot of interesting themes looking back. The use of Spike/Angel was really effective and the developments in their journeys through their interactions with each other was great for both of them (kinda like Lister/Rimmer). And of course the final stretch is indeed really strong. The finale’s ending made me feel befuddled at first (we didn’t see the battle but you can kind of see that was the point) and at this point it probably is the best series finale I’ve seen looking back. It really encapsulated the show and ended it well.

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  79. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on September 20, 2015.]

    Season 2 was pretty strong in a number of areas; it just bugged me that they completely shifted the tone into Princess Bride (which is an enjoyable enough film, of course) territory at the end. I seem to recall hearing that there was another plan in effect, but some crucial actors weren’t available, so it went another way. It definitely felt that way, and it didn’t jibe with the rest of the season at all, even if they shoehorned some long-running themes in there.

    The episodes focused on Connor towards the end of Season 3 just felt really thin to me, and the finale was, to my eyes, way too plot-centric, silly, and thematically slim. I was hugely disappointed by it.

    I like Gina Torres on Firefly, but her character on ANGEL offered me no satisfaction, on any level. And watching the main characters brainwashed and empty-headed for a few eps was, IMO, creatively misguided at that stage of the season. The whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth, redeemed somewhat (as I mentioned) by the (structurally) Restless-like coda, Home.

    I just thought Season 5 utilized the entire ensemble better than previous seasons, and featured the most accomplished work by Amy Acker, by far; her interactions with Denisof were tremendous. The early years had too small of a cast, and considering that I was ambivalent about one of them (Charisma/Cordy), it was always going to lean more heavily on detective cases (again, plot) than I would prefer.

    I don’t begrudge someone preferring ANGEL to BtVS; I just find it to be, overall, a much more conventional detective series with a less compelling ensemble (for its first four seasons, at least).

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  80. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 21, 2015.]

    Bad Eggs is not a bad episode, and see the review of Killed by Death for why that isn’t either.

    S2 is more consistent for me as it evolves away from S1 and towards its own arc. S3 in comparison didn’t really have anything running through the centre of it to give it ‘arc’ clarity. After being foreshadowed and mentioned so many times in S2, the Mayor only appears a few times in the early eps and not at all in the middle. The Faith arc also stutters because after dealing with Kakistos and the important character moments in ‘Revelations’, Faith doesn’t do a whole lot until later in the season and fades into the background. The good episodes like Earshot, Amends, The Wish, Doppelgangland are enough to keep it ticking over, but there is very little ‘arc’ in S3 until the Mayor’s plans really take off. Even then, the Mayor has very little to do to ascend, plot-wise. Nobody has any idea he’s even doing the dedication and the only other part of the plan they come close to stopping is his acquistion of the Box of Gavroc. After that, nothing happens in this arc until Graduation Day.

    So no, S3 isn’t the equal of S2. It gets a marginally less favourable view from me because of a lack of arc significance to so many episodes, despite many of them being very good. The two compare favourably episode-to-episode, but arc-wise S2 is far better. There is a tangibility to Angelus, whereas there is nothing of the same intensity going on here. Even when Faith goes bad, she does very little except have scenes with the Mayor. Ultimately S3’s plot was thin, suffered from too little arc-significant episodes and had too few ‘up-front’ villains. Things might have been different had Kakistos and Mr. Trick stuck around for longer. Faith gets over the trauma of having seen her Watcher die very quickly so the writers can put her at odds with Buffy too early. Faith should’ve been more rounded from the start, a darker reflection of Buffy without it being literal in her overt behaviour.

    Angel was pretty consistenly brilliant IMO from start to finish. I’m not lukewarm on any season of Angel like I am with some of Buffy’s seasons, even if they are still very good. I’m not a fan of BtVS S6. S7 was dodgy towards the end and S3 needed a tighter approach with a better arc. Angel was what a lot of people wanted to see in the Buffyverse – grown up themes and less irritating Buffy black-and-white morality. I never found myself wishing for characters to be killed, to go away, or to be otherwise brought down a peg or two like I felt too often with BtVS. All of my friends (all seasoned sci-fi and fantasy TV/film geeks) consider Angel to be far superior to its parent show.

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  81. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 21, 2015.]

    Agree with the Lister/Rimmer comparison and that Angel/Spike will always annoy the hell out of each other, no matter what. I love Spike’s glee at some of Angel’s misfortunes (‘you’re a..bleedin’ PUPPET!!’) My friend and I always loved his ‘no, I just haunt the bastard’ line from the Necromancer episode too.

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  82. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 21, 2015.]

    I prefer Angel’s first season to its second, and the Pylea arc was weird but strangely fun. The noir-style was exactly what made Angel good in its early seasons – it’s what everyone espected and wanted, particularly in the first season. The primary stuff with Drusilla and Darla was done, so it was a nice change of tone after such darkness. I like S3, though it is the weakest of Angel’s seasons. Also agree that there are too many events revolving around Connor for me.

    S4 I love, I find something new in it with every watch and its still to this day the most structurally complex season they ever did. I didn’t have a problem with Jasmine – we needed to see exactly why this creature was so desperate to be born and what exactly it was going to do once it was. I think too many people forgot that Jasmine and the ‘Beastmaster’ controlling Cordelia were one and the same. Her shiny happy power was genuinely unsettling because it affected everyone, with no Get Out Of Jail Free card for anyone. Angel ‘ending world peace’ was an interesting way of asking how far the idea of the ‘greatest good’ can actually go, and whether something is still evil even if it has good intentions overall. BtVS never really went near such dark themes – it stayed largely black and white overall (though Giles is a ‘grey’ character, especially in later seasons).

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  83. [Note: JC posted this comment on September 25, 2015.]

    Bad Eggs and Killed By Death are lame, one-dimensional MotW episodes that don’t advance the characters in any meaningful way. And even by that point in TV history, countless shows had done the “take care of this egg/bag of flour/etc. as though it’s your baby” premise. The rest is a generic Invasion-of-the-Body-Snatchers plot. Killed By Death is just a tiresome Freddy-Krueger-knockoff premise, with screaming kids and people running around in the boiler room.

    The 2nd-half arc of Season 2 is better, but it’s surrounded by too many of these below-average eps, which for me, drags the season down to slightly below Season 3. It’s personal preference.

    As I said, I’ve never thought that much of Charisma Carpenter as an actress, and Wesley didn’t become dramatically interesting to me until he was given some degree of edge (which too a while), and Fred and Gunn didn’t really have a valuable function (other than doing generic background research or generic muscle) until possibly the fifth season, where they became more fully-functioning, individual characters. Didn’t care that much for Julie Benz, either; I found her to be a shallow performer. Also, BtVS generally limited silly-looking demons to window-dressing or comic relief, whereas ANGEL had them front-and-center in a lot more dramatically-crucial scenarios.

    I think both series dealt heavily in the grey areas of morality. None of the characters on BtVS were one-dimensional white hats over the course of the series. They were all capable of doing kind or horrible things to one another or to others, and my sympathies were often shifting. If everything was cut-and-dry, black-and-white, it never would`ve inspired the level of critical discourse that it has over the years. ANGEL was also more of a melodrama, and never approached anything as grounded as a BtVS ep like The Body. Not that there`s anything necessarily wrong with melodrama, but the world of ANGEL never felt as emotionally palatable to me, spending so much time in impersonal offices and hotel rooms, and doing very derivative (by TV standards) detective work, just with the monster twist.

    It’s cool that your friends prefer ANGEL, but the culture-at-large greatly prefers BtVS (critics, fans, etc.). And I feel no compulsion to ever revisit Seasons 1-through-4 of ANGEL, whereas I`ll gladly watch Seasons 2-7 of BtVS in the future.

    To each their own.

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  84. [Note: JC posted this comment on September 25, 2015.]

    BTW, I`ve only been coming to this site sporadically, and you really have to seek out recent posts in the episode sections of each show, beyond the two most recent on the right side of the page.

    Anyways, that`s the last post I`ll be making about the series (plural) at large. There`s just too much content to be parsed when it comes to long-running TV series, and I just don`t have the time or energy for it anymore. I can try to make bold statements about BtVS vs. ANGEL, or Twin Peaks vs. The X-Files, but what it usually comes down to with these things is which cast and style of presentation one prefers. I GREATLY preferred BtVS`s ensemble to ANGEL`s, and the world it presented was just more appealing and distinct to me (relative budgetary limitations notwithstanding) for the majority of their respective runs. I quite liked ANGEL when it was airing, but it just doesn`t hold nearly the place in my heart and mind that BtVS does. I can`t even talk about seasons of ANGEL with a great deal of clarity anymore, because detail-wise, despite that fact that I`ve generally watched every episode at least three times, I can barely remember most of it. Whereas with BtVS, there are so many elements that still resonate (strongly) with me to this day, despite not having watched the series (aside from a handful of episodes that I showed to my nieces) in a number of years.

    I may make the odd comment on individual episode threads, but anything beyond that is just too time-consuming. When I`m here, I think I`ll mostly spend my time in the non-episode-guide section.

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  85. [Note: MichaelJB posted this comment on September 27, 2015.]

    Angel’s stare at the end seemed to hearken back to when he first saw Buffy in LA, as she was being called on as the slayer – once again, he watches her from a distance. Only this time, she can see him as well.

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  86. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 28, 2015.]

    Check the reviews for Bad Eggs and Killed by Death. They are much better because they sit within the best season of Buffy. S2’s less-stellar episodes are still great because they all fit within an arc, which is why S3’s don’t work as well despite being ‘consistent’. It’s not just preference, S2 is better and was considered better by fans at the time too. The arc is just that hard-hitting.

    Angel dealt heavily in grey areas, Buffy much less so. Buffy had only a couple of genuinely ‘grey’ moments, such as Giles’ murder of Ben to spare the world from Glory coming back. Angel had moments like this from episode one until the final episode. They couldn’t have done arcs like Angel’s, Wesley’s or Fred’s (as Illyria) on the parent show. There wouldn’t have been the thematic room, what with 95% of it being taken up by Buffy/Spike (or both) in the last three seasons. Buffy’s last two seasons alone derail it in comparison to Angel. S2 is where Buffy shone, and while they got close to that in Season Five, they never really hit that benchmark again.

    Buffy herself was a one-dimensional white hat when it came to morality. Condemning the entire world to destruction by demons (if Glory’s plan worked) because she couldn’t kill her sister? Noble, but falls way short of any acceptance of a ‘greater good’, or the acceptance that if someone dies either way, you should take the option that doesn’t also kill billions of other people. Buffy couldn’t make decisions like this, and they were out of place on the show. BtVS claimed to have grey morality but only played with it.

    Also, Angel a melodrama and BtVS as ‘grounded’ is laughable. There are great episodes in each, but too many in BtVS are hugely overrated while Angel episodes too underrated. Once you watch Angel you see just how weirdly, childishly silly some of the characters and situations on Buffy really were. Angel did similar plots in the same universe without becoming self-referential. In later seasons it seemed like the cast were genuinely wanting to wink and smile at the audience. They became way to comfortable with their own plaudits.

    I never saw any evidence that the ‘culture-at-large’ preferred Buffy. Critics gave the two similar write-ups as genre shows and neither got many award nods. Anyone I’ve ever spoke to in person about the shows and has seen them, preferred Angel. I love both shows and have watched each season multiple times, and it’s just not a contest when it comes to consistency across the whole run of the show. Buffy seems to have more episodes that people refer back to, but a good chunk of these (like CWDP, the prime example) are hugely overrated.

    Clearly the critics/fans I’ve met, talked to, read about, seen videos of etc are different to the ones you refer to, because they all rated Buffy, but preferred Angel.

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  87. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 28, 2015.]

    I only come sporadically myself. A post’s age doesn’t keep me from commenting on it for the benefit of everyone else. I read virtually every comment related to the one I’m writing on before I do so.

    If that’s your last post, fine…declaring oneself no longer in the room doesn’t stop any point being invalid. It’s for the benefit of everyone, not just the person a commenter is responding to.

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  88. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on September 29, 2015.]

    Check the reviews for Bad Eggs and Killed by Death. They are much better because they sit within the best season of Buffy. S2’s less-stellar episodes are still great because they all fit within an arc, which is why S3’s don’t work as well despite being ‘consistent’. It’s not just preference, S2 is better and was considered better by fans at the time too. The arc is just that hard-hitting.

    I did read both ep reviews on this site, and found neither particularly persuasive with regards to the actual quality of the individual eps in question. And no, just because they sit in between high-quality arc episodes doesn’t make them, individually, great. They have to be great of their own accord, because they are still self-contained plots. Mike conceded that they had some merit with regards to character continuity, but also allowed that both episodes were below-average in and of themselves. And yes, these things are subjective; if you’re going to act like your opinion is fact, I’ll not give you another moment of my time.

    Buffy’s last two seasons alone derail it in comparison to Angel

    Opinion, nothing more. I greatly prefer Seasons 6 and 7 of BtVS to Seasons 1, 3, and 4 of ANGEL. Don’t find Cordelia compelling, and have little use for Fred or Gunn until Season 5.

    Also, Angel a melodrama and BtVS as ‘grounded’ is laughable. There are great episodes in each, but too many in BtVS are hugely overrated while Angel episodes too underrated. Once you watch Angel you see just how weirdly, childishly silly some of the characters and situations on Buffy really were. Angel did similar plots in the same universe without becoming self-referential.

    Both were melodramas. Melodrama is not a pejorativel it’s merely a style. Though both existed in somewhat exaggerated spaces, I always found ANGEL to have a slightly more over-the-top, operatic, comic-booky feel to it. It riffs on themes and scenarios present in Batman quite a bit. Whereas BtVS is set in the suburbs, which feels more emotionally tangible, “homey”, and relatable to me. BtVS does indeed have some silly elements; ANGEL has a demon karaoke bar and went all Princess Bride at the end of its second season. ANGEL is ostensibly the more “adult” show (given its non-high-school/college setting), but one of its three main characters (that being Cordelia) is so shallow in nature that it often undermines whatever mature content its after; she seems (emotionally) stuck in high school for a good long while, and Charisma Carpenter was much better at handling one-liners than anything requiring dramatic heft. And I wasn’t genuinely invested in Wesley’s story until he got his throat cut in (what?) Season 3; he became a much more interesting and complex character after that. Best actor on the show, too.

    I never saw any evidence that the ‘culture-at-large’ preferred Buffy. Critics gave the two similar write-ups as genre shows and neither got many award nods. Anyone I’ve ever spoke to in person about the shows and has seen them, preferred Angel. I love both shows and have watched each season multiple times, and it’s just not a contest when it comes to consistency across the whole run of the show. Buffy seems to have more episodes that people refer back to, but a good chunk of these (like CWDP, the prime example) are hugely overrated.

    Back when these two shows were airing, BtVS showed up on many Top 10 lists, right through to at least its sixth season (Entertainment Weekly’s Ken Tucker still had it on his Top 10 right through Season 7). ANGEL showed up on far fewer lists over the course of its run. Re: consistency across the whole run of the show(s), again, that’s personal preference. I’m not that fond of BtVS’s first season, but I greatly enjoyed almost all of the rest (aside from a few filler MotWs from Seasons 2 and 4). ANGEL, I could take or leave most of the MotWs from the first season, the Pylea arc, the late Season 3 Connor arc, and the late Season 4 Jasmine arc. Season 5 is the only one I thoroughly enjoyed pretty much from beginning to end, because IMO, it utilized its supporting cast, and especially its actors, much more effectively than in previous years (especially Amy Acker). Regarding, “overrated/underrated”, that’s personal preference again.

    If that’s your last post, fine…declaring oneself no longer in the room doesn’t stop any point being invalid. It’s for the benefit of everyone, not just the person a commenter is responding to.

    Yes yes, by all means. Onwards and upwards. You best set everyone straight by having the final word. For the benefit of all mankind, don’t let my opinions get in the way of your “facts”.

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  89. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on September 29, 2015.]

    Here’s a sampling of “Best Of” lists from the past number of years. With the exception of one, I ask: Where’s ANGEL?

    http://www.ew.com/article/2007/06/18/new-classics-tv

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/box-seat/the-alist-the-top-25-shows-of-the-past-25-years-20120912-25rs7.html

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/best-tv-shows-ever-top-819499/item/buffy-vampire-slayer-hollywoods-100-821432

    http://www.empireonline.com/50greatesttv/default.asp?tv=2 (Angel actually made this list)

    http://www.wga.org/content/default.aspx?id=4925

    http://www.tvguide.com/news/tv-guide-magazine-60-best-series-1074962/

    http://www.salon.com/2009/12/23/best_of_the_decade/

    By all means, prefer whichever show you like, but please don’t delude yourself into thinking ANGEL is more highly regarded.

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  90. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 29, 2015.]

    Cherry-pick whatever lists you like (don’t recognise most of those, which says a lot considering how much 90s/00s TV reviewing I followed), most TV critics at the time jumped on the Buffy bandwagon after everyone else. Angel lived in the shadow of the parent show for a long time. It’s a telling sign when the critics are ‘raving’ about a show that gets no awards – they were using fan zeitgeist and popularity to influence their own views (like many I see on this site, who love/hate all the same episodes everyone else does).

    Everyone on those sites rate the same things. Doesn’t surprise me to see The Wire, The Sopranos, The Simpsons etc on those lists. A lot of these were popular and then TV reviewers feel they must put them in there. There’s also inherent bias in any ‘best of’ list.

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  91. [Note: Krssven posted this comment on September 29, 2015.]

    By dint of being in Season Two, with S2’s character development and overall arc, it does make those episodes better. Neither is actually a bad episode and this is perhaps where opinion does take views in a different direction, but there is just too much hate for ‘Bad Eggs’ in particular. It doesn’t gel with the episode I’ve watched many times. It isn’t as good as the likes of ‘Innocence’ or ‘Passion’ from the same season, but that in itself doesn’t make them poor. Killed by Death also gets singled out for hate, but since most of that episode is either fantastic character work, continuity, or genuine creepiness, that doesn’t hold much water either. The review sums it up very well.

    Buffy’s last two seasons were considered poorer by fans at the time. This isn’t opinion, I’m afraid. Even Whedon commented on the backlash, if only to disagree that it was our fault because we just didn’t get his big ‘the Big Bad is real life’ riff in S6. There was a buzzing fan community when the show aired and this was almost universal. S6, despite hindsight views, was very poorly received by the most important people to the show: the fans. The problems with it are numerous and one day I’ll put a post in the S6 review section showing what its biggest issues are, and why fan reaction was so venomous at the time (I still watch it, but only as part of a Buffyverse overall re-watch or a Dark Willow fix). S7 managed to improve the show’s fortunes but most agree, including the esteemed reviewer on this site, that the last half of S7 kills all of the momentum and drama out of the show, making it almost struggle over the finish line instead of going out like a show in its prime. S6-7 were not Buffy’s finest hours.

    Both were melodramas. Melodrama is not a pejorativel it’s merely a style. Though both existed in somewhat exaggerated spaces, I always found ANGEL to have a slightly more over-the-top, operatic, comic-booky feel to it.

    Of course it isn’t a perjorative, but Buffy’s characters and situations were often more melodramatic. Most of the characters were melodramatic in and of themselves. Angel characters are more realistic, to me. Brooding, flawed and often disagreeing with each other like regular people. On Buffy, most of the cast accept everyone’s foibles without issue or just paper over the offensiveness (Xander in particular gets away with many things that no friend would accept in real life). On Angel, character actions have genuine repercussions across seasons, while on its parent show people can be flayed alive or suffocated to death, without it being mentioned for more than a few episodes. Buffy S6/7 in particular hit this snag repeatedly.

    Back when the two shows were airing, BtVS turned up everywhere. The hype finally leaked into the mainstream and critics everywhere fell over themselves to praise it. That’s not to say that it wasn’t good (it’s my favourite TV show ever, combined with Angel), but it coloured everything at the time. Just look at the Game of Thrones bandwagon today – get something popular enough and everyone wants a part of it. BtVS never got to the GoT heights in terms of the mainstream (sadly, for me), but the eagerness of critics to be part of it was almost palpable in their reviews. I found myself migrating to fan blogs/pages for real reviews, where people who knew the show discussed it at length. Usually, a show’s biggest critics are also its biggest fans, and I don’t feel that was any different with this show.

    When Angel had been going for a few seasons, everyone I spoke to online or in person said a similar thing: ‘I love Buffy, but Angel is actually better’. That popped up time and again, and surprised me at the time because I was relatively late to Angel and hadn’t seen all the episodes. The themes of Angel are simply more grown-up, harder hitting and less obsessed with dropping pop culture into half the lines of the script. Buffy was great, but Angel was the more accomplished work that at the time was disregarded as a spin-off. Buffy was the big ‘feminist’ noise at the time and that contributed to all the online writing about it. Early on, nobody paid Buffy – a genre show – much attention. Genre shows had to big juggernauts like Trek to really grab the mainstream’s attention.

    Yes yes, by all means. Onwards and upwards. You best set everyone straight by having the final word. For the benefit of all mankind, don’t let my opinions get in the way of your “facts”.

    Well, you did appear to do what I’ve seen before on boards/forums and do the equivalent of trying leaving the room before the other person in the debate speaks (‘it doesn’t matter if you reply, I probably won’t read it because I hardly ever come on this board’). If that wasn’t your intention, then that’s fine. It’s called participating in a debate, not ‘setting everyone straight’. I’ve posted a lot of things that are facts and a lot that are opinions, as I’m sure you have. Part of debating things with anyone is accepting that no matter how much you disagree, the other person is not the target.

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  92. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on September 29, 2015.]

    While everyone’s gonna have episodes they feel are given too much hate (I have a soft spot for Go Fish and WTWTA) I’m afraid I can’t give Bad Eggs the time of day. It just wasn’t very enjoyable and foreshadowing and a few decent lines aren’t enough to raise it from awful for me. If we need to discuss it more I suggest we go to the review page.

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  93. [Note: J.C. posted this comment on September 29, 2015.]

    Cherry-pick whatever lists you like (don’t recognise most of those, which says a lot considering how much 90s/00s TV reviewing I followed), most TV critics at the time jumped on the Buffy bandwagon after everyone else. Angel lived in the shadow of the parent show for a long time. It’s a telling sign when the critics are ‘raving’ about a show that gets no awards

    So, you don’t recognize TV Guide, The Writers Guild of America, The Hollywood Reporter, Salon.com, Entertainment Weekly, or Empire Online (which I just threw in there because it’s more “geek-oriented”, for a little balance)? I didn’t “cherry pick” those lists. I merely Googled “Best TV Shows of the past 20/25 years and/or All-Time”. Re: awards, it was a show with a young, attractive cast, set in high school/college, with a notable fantasy/monster element, and (most significantly) a rather ridiculous (on the surface) title. It was never going to get beyond the prejudices of many (particularly older) voters. They just wouldn’t give it the time of day to see what all the fuss was about. And while we’re talking about awards, you might consider that The Wire, generally considered one of the greatest, most ambitious TV series of all time, received no Emmy love whatsoever. Awards bodies have plenty of blind spots. BtVS did do pretty well with the Television Critics Association over the years, though.

    By dint of being in Season Two, with S2’s character development and overall arc, it does make those episodes better.

    Better than in isolation, perhaps. But you said “great”, which is what I took issue with. I personally felt both episodes were rather schlocky in nature, but you have every right to feel any way you like about them.

    Buffy’s last two seasons were considered poorer by fans at the time. This isn’t opinion, I’m afraid. Even Whedon commented on the backlash, if only to disagree that it was our fault because we just didn’t get his big ‘the Big Bad is real life’ riff in S6. There was a buzzing fan community when the show aired and this was almost universal. S6, despite hindsight views, was very poorly received by the most important people to the show: the fans.

    Oh, I’m not denying that they weren’t that well received by many fans at the time, I’m only speaking to my own experience with them. I can completely understand why many folks wouldn’t respond to a season where the main character is suffering from what is basically clinical depression, and having hate-sex with a previous villain. I liked that the First Evil was primarily a psychological villain, which tried to eat up the group from the inside, rather than a more standard physical presence I had a different experience with these seasons than many folks, is all, and it was never a “struggle” for me.

    When Angel had been going for a few seasons, everyone I spoke to online or in person said a similar thing: ‘I love Buffy, but Angel is actually better’.

    On most of the boards I attended, many of the folks weren’t even watching ANGEL any more by the third season. They hated the show’s attempt to make Angel and Cordelia a couple (which I also felt was forced), the Pylea silliness (necessitated by, I believe, Juliet Landau being unavailable to return) the fact that Angel himself was being rendered in a more goofy fashion (which resembled Boreanaz in real life more than the character…he was doing plenty of “winking” himself), the whole arc with Connor (whom most considered every bit as annoying as Dawn ever was), them adding a baby to the show (which rarely ever works), the terribly anti-climactic third season finale (which is the point where I almost checked out), etc. Which is not to say they didn’t complain about BtVS, but they never stopped watching it. I tried to get them back on board for Season 5 of ANGEL, but they weren’t having any of it.

    Well, you did appear to do what I’ve seen before on boards/forums and do the equivalent of trying leaving the room before the other person in the debate speaks (‘it doesn’t matter if you reply, I probably won’t read it because I hardly ever come on this board’). If that wasn’t your intention, then that’s fine. It’s called participating in a debate, not ‘setting everyone straight’.

    Actually, it’s called offering an opinion on something. Not everything has to be a “debate”. One of the reasons I stopped bothering with boards for long-running TV shows is because I wanted an engaging, good-natured, healthy exchange of ideas. Whereas a lot of other people are only interested in “winning”, and “proving the other person wrong”. It’s similar to how most people discuss politics, where folks can’t have a genuine, thoughtful conversation about issues because they’re only interested in “beating” the other side. Now, that may not be your intention here, but when I read comments like…

    S2’s less-stellar episodes are still great because they all fit within an arc, which is why S3’s don’t work as well despite being ‘consistent’. It’s not just preference, S2 is better and was considered better by fans at the time too.

    …that doesn’t sound like someone offering an opinion to me. Season 2 being better than Season 3 is NOT a fact. Season 3 being better than Season 2 is also NOT a fact. I personally prefer Season 3, by a small margin, because I enjoyed all 22 episodes, whereas I didn’t much care for at least five or six episodes in Season 2. Maybe it’s just the phrasing. While I certainly wouldn’t expect someone to add “IMO” to every other sentence, sometimes saying…

    So, I wouldn’t only say that Season 3 is Season 2’s equal; I think, overall, it’s slightly better.

    …as opposed to…

    It’s not just preference, S2 is better

    …can make all the difference in the world. Whether it’s intended or not, I sensed a degree of condescension and forcefulness in your posts, and became a little exasperated with it all. And, yeah, when I sense someone trying to “win” a conversation over something as subjective as the arts, I usually just roll my eyes and move on. I gather you enjoy “debating” these things; personally, I get very little satisfaction from said approach, particularly when one doesn’t seem willing to acknowledge the subjectivity of it all (different people, from different backgrounds, respond to different themes, characters and ideas, for different reasons).

    Anyways, enjoy your discussion with Louis about Bad Eggs. 🙂

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