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Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Graduation Day (2)
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Graduation Day (2) is the twenty-second episode of the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the fifty-sixth episode overall. As the mayor prepares for his ascension, Buffy and her allies prepare for war.
Guest Starring: Harry Groener (Mayor Richard Wilkins III), Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndham-Pryce), Danny Strong (Jonathan Levinson), Larry Bagby III (Larry), Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall), Ethan Erickson (Percy), Eliza Dushku (Faith)
Monster of the Week
The Mayor succeeds in ascending into demonhood and transforms into a giant snake creature before he can finish his commencement speech. After discovering the murdered professor's research in the previous episode which indicated that a large demon, presumably the one that the Mayor became, was killed by an active volcano, the gang manages to kill the Mayor by luring him into the library and blowing up the entire school.
|2–4||Vampires||Students||Shot with Arrows||Sunnydale High|
|5||Larry||Wilkins||Hit by Tail||Sunnydale High|
- Sunnydale High: In order to defeat the Mayor, Buffy blows up the school with him inside it. The high school remains in ruins and is not rebuilt for several years.
- Foreshadowing: Buffy's dream contains a great deal of foreshadowing to events which do not come to pass until the season five finale. She gives Buffy a riddle, "miles to go, Little Miss Muffet counting down from 7-3-0." She the common theory is that she meant 730 days or two years in the future. This bit of foreshadowing will crop up several more times until the fifth season finale.
- Angel: Angel drinks human blood for the first time with his soul firmly in his body. This only serves to reinforce his understanding that he and Buffy cannot stay together, which leads to him leaving town for good.
- Faith: Faith has fallen into a coma as a result of severe head trauma, likely stemming from her drop off the roof after Buffy's attack. The doctor tells the Mayor that there is very little chance that she'll ever wake up.
- Cordelia and Wesley: After much flirting, Cordelia and Wesley finally discover that they have absolutely no chemistry and their relationship, such as it was, ends abruptly.
- Halloween: Xander dressed as a soldier on the Halloween where everyone took on the traits of their costumes due to a spell cast by Ethan Rayne. Xander retained a great deal of his military training and has been called upon to use it at least once before—when he stole a rocket launcher for Buffy in Innocence.
- Buffy: Do you remember any of your military training from when you became soldier guy?
- Final Appearances: Angel makes good on his promise and leaves Sunnydale for good, in favor of setting up shop in Los Angeles. Cordelia, unable to afford college, unwittingly follows him there in an attempt to make money as an actress or model. They, with a new character introduced in the first episode, make up the core billed characters of Angel. Wesley also leaves Sunnydale and also eventually finds himself in Los Angeles.
- Mutant Enemy: On the Mutant Enemy title card, the monster is wearing a black graduation cap.
Behind the Scenes
- International: Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been dubbed into many different languages and the title translated for each different international version. Some international translations of this episode's title are:
- French: "La Cérémonie, Deuxième Partie" ("The Ceremony, Part Two")
- Italian: "La sfida - II parte" ("The Challenge - Part 2")
- German: "Tag der Vergeltung" ("Day of Retaliation")
- Japanese: "卒業の日 パート２" ("Sotsugyō no Hi Pāto 2" - Graduation Day, Part 2")
- Spanish: "El día de graduación, Parte Dos" ("The Graduation Day, Part 2")
- Postponed: Like Earshot, this episode was directly affected by the Columbine High School shootings which occurred April 20, 1999 and the resulting backlash against teen-oriented violent media. Although animosity was largely focused upon industrial musician Marilyn Manson and video games like Doom, Buffy was seen as an inappropriately violent show set in a high school locale.
Only hours before the season finale was meant to be aired, The WB caved to pressure and pulled the plug on the episode; instead showing a rerun from earlier in the season without notice. A spokesman for WB implied that the network was afraid of graduation ceremonies being attacked by telling Entertainment Weekly, "we think the timing is bad. We want everyone who'll be out wearing caps and gowns to remain safe."
The network received a great deal of media attention for its decision and thousands of irate fans sent the network angry letters to voice their disapproval. Sarah Michelle Gellar made a public statement denouncing the network's decision to pull the episode, although Seth Green hesitantly agreed that the episode could seem "callous and inappropriate" so soon after the shootings. Series creator Joss Whedon encouraged fans to "bootleg the puppy," as the episode aired in Canada on schedule.
The episode was not broadcast in the United States until July 13. Despite airing mid-summer, the season finale attracted 6.5 million viewers and remained on par with ratings for the rest of the season.
- Controversy: According to Marti Noxon in a DVD commentary, the explosion scene was filmed at 5AM in Torrance, CA, where the series traditionally shot exterior scenes. The explosion was so large and so loud that it woke up residents, broke windows and set off car alarms. Production crews were immediately barred from filming any more in the town as a result.
- Marketing: The yearbook seen in the last scene of the episode was later reproduced and sold as a tie-in product.