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Saturday, April 25, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 3, episodes 21 and 22

Concluding my viewing and reviewing of season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

***SPOILERS***

Episodes 21 and 22: Graduation Day (parts 1 and 2)

Synopsis: To distract Buffy and keep her from interfering with the Mayor's Ascension, Faith shoots Angel with an arrow whose poison can only be cured by the blood of a Slayer. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 5/18/99)

Synopsis: Buffy, her friends and all the students of Sunnydale High prepare to face off aganst the Mayor and his hoard of vampires in a seemingly hopeless battle to save their town. (written by Joss Whedon, airdate 7/13/99)


First, I am so glad I could watch these two back to back and not have to wait two months in-between as viewers did back in 1999. Talk about cliffhanger.

Part 1: Love maroon robes - my graduation cap and gown in high school was maroon. Sunnydale rocks the right colors! Xander is right - it does make one look more noble. Loved the yearbook exercise where you get folks to sign it, even those you've hated for for years. Something about that finality of school that brings out the goodwill in everyone. Except, maybe, Faith. She keeps doing killing errands for the Mayor by offing Professor Worth and, in her own words, she never even thought to ask why. Just shows how much of a killing machine and puppet she has become. I liked the bit with the teacher using the last day of school to keep the kids busy by playing "Hangman". We've all been there. So true so true. Anya hitting on Xander was a nice growth for that character, and having her know about Ascensions was even more interesting. Of course, the Mayor has to break up the party. A good father vs. father bit there with him and Giles. Some great moments then follow: Buffy and her mom (she wants to save Joyce by having her leave town), Oz and Willow using a time of crisis to become closer (very closer!), Buffy with Angel as she goes all "chick" on him again (thanks, Mike, for giving that a nice term) - she doesn't want him to just leave but she doesn't want him to stay (make up the mind, Buffy), then Anya expressing her feelings to Xander but he won't run away because his friends need him (go Xander!). Two good confrontations: Buffy and Giles taking a stand against Wesley and the Council (our little girl has grown up and won't take orders any more) and then the much needed Buffy vs. Faith fight. So fitting that Buffy takes Faith out with her own knife - but then loses the body so she can't get Faith's blood to heal Angel. Cliffhanger...to be continued...

Part 2: Opens with showing us how shaken the Mayor is about Faith. There's that human weakness that'll be his undoing later. Cordelia makes an ironic statement about Buffy always thinking about herself when, in fact, Cordy is talking about her own selfish wants for Wesley to stick around. Way to go deep, Cordy! A nice and powerful scene with Angel refusing to take Buffy's blood to save himself and her forcing him into a feral rage to take it. Talk about ultimate lover's sacrifice. He lives, and then he rushes to make sure she will too. Of course, in the next room in the hospital is a comatose Faith - allowing us to have an Angel/Mayor confrontation. Nicely done. Both sides plan for the big battle with some good character moments. Buffy makes Xander and Angel work together. Cordelia and Wesley learn there is no fire to follow the sparks. Willow and Oz find time for one more romp, just in case their world ends tomorrow. Finally, graduation day - and the Mayor delivers the address. Of course, he'd rather go on about Sunnydale's centennial and "change" and "ascension". When the eclipse comes, the time for speeches is over. He morphs and Buffy gives the single battle cry "Now!". You can feel that moment where all the students come together despite any differences or cliques to band together and save the town from this monster. Awesome, awesome battle. Snyder gets snacked upon (couldn't happen to a nicer guy - that's what he gets about telling kids to spit out their gum or nagging about a gesture!). Buffy, of course, goes for the psychological versus the Mayor by reminding him that she killed Faith with her own knife. Calling him "dick" was just a nice added measure. He wants to snack on her and blindly falls right into the trap in the heart of the library - BABOOOOOOOM! In the end, the monster is destroyed as is the school, Giles gets a moment to be the proud "father" to Buffy, and Buffy and Angel has that silent goodbye with a large distance between them. Oz's comments in the end are so fitting. "We survived." No, not the battle - high school. The perfect metaphor for graduation, a marking point of survival.

Well done, Joss, well done.

4 comments:

Michael O'Connell said...

Is the end of high school the end of the world? A question the Whedon gang is going to settle for us. First, great job setting up the last-day-of-school feel. All those great memories - the hangman, the yearbook signings, the picking up of the robes and caps, the fake "I'll miss you!" to people... :) Once more, the show keeps it real when it comes to school. Yes, there does seem to be some expanding of Anya's character. And she actually something useful to offer for a change. LOTS of great, and important, character moments here. The Willow/Oz "moment of truth", Angel/Buffy stuff, the final separation with the Council, the stuff with Buffy and Joyce... All portents of change, as one's whole world does when high school comes to a close. Of course, more than that might come to a close of the Mayor has his way. How scary was that simple moment of him just walking casually into the library, that perfect feeling of "I can do whatever I want and no one can touch me"? And get DOWN with your sword, Giles! MAN-style, baby! Didn't do anything, but it was a nice thought. And oh, the evil poisoning Angel twist! What a creepy decision to make - and one made so fast by Buffy...feed Faith to him. Smells like SLAYER FIGHT!! And an epic one, too! Nice! Badass all the way, with Buffy using the knife...but for naught. What's a girl to do?!

Yes, that was a fantastic opening scene showing the mayor's Faith concern. And Buffy doing the blood thing with Angel - yes, very little subtlety about THAT metaphor. And loved his reaction at the hospital when the gang showed up - his guilt, and shame. And then the moment with the Mayor, REALLY showing his humanity. Great confrontation with him and Angel. But then, on to the big showdown. Okay, now, as much as I enjoyed this finale...don't get me wrong...now that I'm seeing it again, I'm thinking it through. Wait, so the Mayor's plan is to eat all the kids at graduation. And we know his plan. He needs them to help him ascend. So...why not just tell everyone to skip town? And really, did the entire senior class actually agree to fight vampires and monsters together...much less show up at all after what they'd been told? While not likely...who cares! It was totally awesome! A great battle...and I love the fact that Alexis Denisof was asked by Joss what he'd like Wesley to do in the fight...and it was Alexis who thought it would be funniest if he just got taken out right away and was useless. Great "Braveheart" stuff all around, lots happening. No, the gay jock got it! And they got Harmony! Nooooo! Oh...well, I guess that last one wasn't so bad. And Snyder's final moment - perfectly in character. Just for a moment there, I had a grudging respect for him. Everyone got to really shine in this final moment, and the plan worked brilliantly. And what better was to end the high school years for this gang than to have them blow up the high school. Sorry, Mayor (but we'll miss you...because you were the awesome-ist master villain EVER!). And when the dust settles, there departs Angel...off to find his own spin-off in the world. A great final moment with the gang, that final shot (with the great Oz line). Felt like the end to a three-year-long story arc, didn't it? Sunnydale High, we will miss you. And what, we wonder, could lie ahead of us? Have a rad summer - we'll see you next year...

Martin said...

Mike, where would the story be if everyone skipped graduation and left the Mayor-snake with nothing to snack on (besides Synder)? LOL.

I thought some of the extras did get it in the battle with the vampires. Of course, having seen B4-3, I know what happened to Harmony. ;)

Michael O'Connell said...

I'm so glad someone realized what a hilarious vampire Harmony would be. Someone was right. :)

Martin said...

Really. Given that Spike didn't even think she was worth offing in early season 4 means more Harmony fun for us in the future. Thanks, Spike. Love your judgment calls.