Tuesday, 28 June 2011
BUFFY: 3.21 ‘GRADUATION DAY – PART 1’
The last 5 mins of this episode inc. the Buffy/Faith fight.
WRITER: Joss Whedon
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon
WHAT’S THE SITCH?
Buffy is investigating the murder by Faith of a seemingly innocuous vulcanolgist. Both she and Giles are suspicious of why the Mayor would order the rogue slayer to do such a thing. What is the secret the Mayor needs to keep hidden? In the process of her investigations Buffy runs in to Angel. The pair, now uneasy around each other, soon begins to argue - an argument that is shockingly interrupted when from up on a nearby rooftop Faith shoots Angel with a poisoned arrow, sending the vamp in to a slow and painful demise. As Willow and Oz look in desperation for a cure for Angel, Giles and Xander discover what the Mayor was trying to hide: the unsuspecting vulcanolgist had found remains of an ancient demon killed long ago by a volcanic eruption. This gives the gang the clue they need as to how to kill the Mayor should he ascend. Giles also discovers the type of demon the Mayor will become…something very, very big. Wesley is unable to get any help from the Watcher’s Council to help cure Angel. This prompts a furious Buffy to take a stand and formally quit the Watchers. Then, just as all hope for Angel seems lost, Willow discovers the one and only cure: draining the blood of a slayer. Her mission clear, Buffy takes Faith’s knife and heads to the dark slayer’s apartment, literally out for blood, the only blood that can cure Angel. Arriving at Faith’s, the two slayers face off and engage in one heck of a vicious and bloody battle; a battle that wrecks the apartment and ends up out on the roof. After much violence is done, Buffy gets the upper hand and stabs Faith in the gut with her own knife. But Faith, bleeding to death and knowing she’s done, still won’t let Buffy win. And so she throws herself off of the roof, landing in a truck that drives her away from Buffy, taking away a horrified Buffy’s one and only hope for curing Angel.
To be continued.
WHAT’S THE SITCH BENEATH THE SITCH?
Again, it’s all in the title. It’s all about growing up, moving on to the next stage in life, taking on responsibility. Buffy and the gang are graduating, not just from school, but from being kids; they are starting to take charge of their own lives, their own destinies. Willow and Oz move on to the next stage of their relationship, and the Mayor hopes to move on as well with his Ascension. But the theme is shown most poignantly perhaps in the tremendous scene in which Buffy tells Wesley in no uncertain terms that she quits the Council and that he needs to pack up and go home. He calls it mutiny. She says she prefers the term graduation.
WHO’S GIVING US THE WIGGINS THIS WEEK?
The Mayor and Faith
WHY IT ROCKS
Those magic words ‘Written and Directed by Joss Whedon’
The script. This is essentially the set-up for the big payoff in part 2. And so much occurs here. Not just big Ascension related stuff either but wonderful character stuff too. As always Joss has an almost supernatural grasp of his characters, of what makes them tick, and how to use them perfectly to tell a layered story that blends subtle depth, high drama, big laughs, tender emotion and some kick-ass action that leaves the audience desperate for more. Three scenes here are season highlights:
1. Oz and Willow finally making love: a wonderfully sweet, typically dry and witty way for the taciturn werewolf to finally make his move.
2. The Mayor confronting Buffy and the gang on their own turf: a chilling and intense scene perfectly sold by Harry Groener and by Tony Head who gets very angry with a sword.
3. Buffy quitting the Council: our girl faces down Wesley and tells it like it is. She’s had enough. And they can all go to hell.
Faith and the Mayor. As if we didn’t think these two were great enough, Joss gives us a lovely scene in which the Mayor gets Faith to try on a pretty dress for the Ascension and then listens to her with such great affection as she tells him about something that happened to her when she was a kid. The bond between these two is tangible and powerful. They are the bad guys but we don’t wanna lose them.
Anya. The brilliant Emma Caulfield as Anya has been playing a bigger part over the last few episodes. It is clear she is becoming a regular and will likely provide the plain speaking replacement for Cordy after she leaves for Angel. And thank heavens for Anya. What a great character she is, expertly played by Emma. Blunt, rude, hostile, but also naïve and charmingly cute. Xander’s gonna have his hands full. Lucky guy.
Eliza Dushku. She’s been a powerful, memorable presence since first arriving in Sunnydale back in 3.3 ‘Faith, Hope and Trick’. Her character journey has been fascinating, providing the essential core to this entire season, making this my personal favourite of all Buffy’s seven seasons. And here, in what is pretty much her final appearance of the season, she is wonderful. She’s both vulnerable and sympathetic as well as an evil kick-ass bitch from hell.
Slayer vs. Slayer…to the death (or not): the epic fight between Buffy and Faith at Faith’s apartment is a thing of brutal beauty. The choreography is fast, agile, creative and bone crunching and the direction and editing is perfect. Joss pulls the camera back and just lets them go at it.
WHY IT SUCKS
It has to be that fight. So damn cool.
DIALOGUE TO DIE FOR
Xander (to Anya): "Yes, Men like sports. Men watch the action movie. They eat of the beef and enjoy to look at the bosoms. A thousand years of avenging our wrongs and that's all you've learned?"
Joyce: "You know, Buffy, looking back at everything that's happened, maybe I should have sent you to a different school."
Buffy (to Joyce): "I wish I could be a lot of things for you. A great student, a star athlete ... remotely normal. I'm not. But there is something I do that I can do better than anybody else in the world."
Angel: "Are you mad at me for being around too much or for not being around enough?"
Buffy: "Duh, yes!"
Cordelia: “What's her saga?”
Xander: “She's freaking.”
Cordelia: “About what?”
Xander: “The Mayor's gonna kill us all during graduation.”
Cordelia: “Oh. Are you gonna go to fifth period?”
Xander: “I'm thinking I might skip it.”
Cordelia: “Yeah, me too.”
Wesley: “This is mutiny.”
Buffy: “I like to think of it as graduation.”
Xander (seeing a picture of the huge demon the Mayor will become): “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”
AND ANOTHER THING
Recently I caught a bit of a TV show here in the UK where actress/celeb Amanda Holden tries out some of her dream jobs. In the episode I saw she wanted to be a stuntwoman so she went to Hollywood and hooked up with Sophia Crawford who was SMG’s stunt/fight double on Buffy for the first four seasons. Sophia is actually English and is married to Jeff Pruitt who was the stunt co-ordinator on the show. Anyway, after training Holden up, Sophia and Jeff re-staged the ‘Graduation Day – Part 1’ Faith vs. Buffy fight move for move with Holden as Faith and Sophia as Buffy. They even dressed up in similar outfits. And it looked really cool. A great and totally unexpected geekout moment for me.
HOW MANY STAKES?
Blood, Faith and tears. 5 (out of 5)