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All Shows > Buffy the Vampire Slayer > Season 3

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - 3x21 - Graduation Day Part 1

Synopsis: The ascension is happening on graduation day. Buffy is distracted when Faith poisons Angel. The only cure is the blood of a Slayer.

Review: It is hard to review this episode apart from part two, because the two are so intertwined. By itself, this episode is really not that good. Watching Buffy years after it originally aired affords me the luxury of watching both parts back-to-back in the same night. Because of an unfortunate decision by WB, viewers in 1999 had to wait an entire two months to watch part two.

In this episode, Buffy quits working for the Watcher's Council. If Joss Whedon expected this to be some great turning point or milestone, it is not. We barely saw the Council's influence in the last three seasons. We are not going to miss it. Personally, I think this was a bad move. It does not display some kind of "graduation" from dependent slayer to independent slayer. If anything, it displays that Buffy is still immature. The Council makes a lot of sense logically, and I think it enhances the slayer mythology greatly.

I was also disappointed in the Oz and Willow sex scene. Over the course of this series, we have watched Buffy, Xander, and now Willow lose their virginity. This series includes so many good messages, but really messes up in this area. The message it is sending is clear: Losing your virginity is a normal part of growing up. Everyone does it. It is a mistake a lot of teenagers make, and the series could have legitimately dealt with that. I believe they did in the case of Buffy. There were serious consequences. But a lot of teenagers also remain abstinent until they get married. The series could have dealt with that also, but they chose not to.

I understand the whole "the Scoobies are graduating high school, so they are growing up" thing, but this episode is not showing evidences of growing up. Buffy's decision to leave the Watcher's Council is immature. Willow is no more of woman now than she was before. We already witnessed Buffy, Xander, and Willow grow up in what I refer to as their identity episodes, the three episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer you should not miss: Anne, The Zeppo, and Doppelgängland. This episode took too much time focusing on something that has already been established this season. It should have focused on moving the story with the Mayor forward.

The best part of this episode was the subplot involving Buffy, Faith, and Angel. Faith poisons Angel, and the only cure is the blood of the slayer. "To Be Continued..." fades onto the screen before we reach a resolution. This episode spent too much time focusing on unimportant concepts and trying to force unwanted turning points. I give it 4 out of 10.

Objectionable Content: Oz and Willow are seen passionately kissing pre-sex. A few scenes later the camera pans across clothes strewn across the room. Oz and Willow are lying under the covers on the bed together as Willow discusses what it was like to have just lost her virginity.

Rating: 4 out of 10 (Reviewed by: Matthew Miller)

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I was actually behind Buffy all the way when she quit the council. They were arrogant, pushy, and cared nothing at all about her as a person, or even her life. I do think it would have been a more effective plot point if the coucil had been more involved in the show up to that point, though.

Also, I agree that the writers do not send a very good message to teens by having all of the main characters lose their virginity while still in high school, but I think they also did a good job depicting the consequences of rushing into sex with Buffy and Xander. Buffy rushed into a serious relationship before she was mature enough to deal with something like that, and paid for it. Xander's one night stand with Faith ended with him feeling hurt and betrayed when he realized she didn't care about him at all. Still, I agree that they should have at least let one of them graduate first.
--Matt Pickle (Agrees: no)

The CTU is arrogant, pushy, and cares nothing about Jack Bauer. Should Jack Bauer quit the CTU? No. Of course, Buffy did not get to choose to join the Council like Bauer chose to join CTU, but essentially they are the same thing: soldiers. One fights terrorists and one fights vampires. How much good will one person separated from her support organization do in an all-out war?
--Matthew Miller (Agrees: yes)

It didn't seem to me that the council was actually doing any supporting. The only time they even visited the hellmouth was to put Buffy in unecessary danger, and to try to separate her from her father figure.
--Matt Pickle (Agrees: )

What about Giles? Up until Helpless, he was the Council's representative in Sunnydale, and his support was invaluable to Buffy.
--Matthew Miller (Agrees: )