Buffy Logo 'Graduation Day' - Part 1
Story Code '3ABB21'

by Joss Whedon

Graduation robes are being handed out at Sunnydale High, and students are signing each other’s yearbooks. Xander tells Buffy and Willow that the Mayor will be giving their graduation Commencement speech, which must be when the Ascension will take place. The Mayor sends Faith to kill a professor, while Xander tells Anya about the Ascension. When the Professor’s murder is later reported in the newspaper, Buffy tells Giles and Wesley that she is certain that Faith is responsible. Xander arrives with Anya, who tells them that she once witnessed an Ascension involving the demon Lohesh; the village was destroyed, and only three people survived. Anya explains that the demons walking the earth are not pure; Ascension turns a person into the pure form of the demon, which is much bigger than usual. But as she is begins explaining that each Ascension is different, the Mayor walks in; Giles instantly grabs a sword and impales him, but the Mayor just calmly pulls it out of his chest, promising them "one heck of a speech" at the Graduation. Later, Anya tells Xander that she is leaving town because the Ascension cannot be stopped. Xander tells Cordelia about the Ascension, but she seems unconcerned. Buffy tells her mom to leave town, but she refuses; Buffy explains that she cannot fight the Mayor and worry about her at the same time, insisting that her mother trust her and leave. At Willow’s house, she and Oz are desperately looking for a spell to stop the Ascension when they begin to kiss passionately... Buffy is searching the murdered professor's apartment when Angel arrives, having been sent by Giles; after Buffy finds a report she and Angel begin arguing in the street. But Angel is suddenly hit with an arrow fired by Faith; Buffy takes him to the library, where she removes the arrow. Wesley reads the report that Buffy brought back, and learns that the Professor found a huge carcass buried under an old lava bed, which he takes to be a failed Ascension - meaning that the Mayor will no longer be invulnerable once he has become a demon. When Angel passes out they realise that the arrow was poisoned, and so Wesley contacts the Council to help determine what kind of toxin it was. Faith reports to the Mayor that she has succeeded in killing Angel, and he tells her he will still need her after the Ascension. Anya asks Xander to leave Sunnydale with her, but he will not abandon his friends. After the Council decline to help Wesley find a cure for Angel, Buffy refuses to work for them any more, and that he is no longer her Watcher. Willow and Oz discover that the only cure for the poison is the blood of a Slayer, and so Buffy sets off to capture Faith. She visits the girl’s apartment, where the two Slayers fight a vicious battle. Giles discovers that the demon the Mayor will become is called Olvikon. Meanwhile, the Mayor is devouring the bugs contained in the box to increase his power, when he is informed that there is trouble at Faith’s home. Buffy stabs Faith, but before she can grab her, Faith falls from the top of the building onto a moving truck, denying Buffy of her chance to save Angel…

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy Summers), Nicholas Brendon (Xander Harris), Alyson Hannigan (Willow Rosenberg), Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase), David Boreanaz (Angel), Seth Green (Oz), Anthony Stewart Head (Rupert Giles), Eliza Dushku (Faith), Harry Groener (Mayor Richard Wilkins III), Alexis Denisof (Wesley Wyndam-Pryce), Kristine Sutherland (Joyce Summers), Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder), Emma Caulfield (Anya), Mercedes McNab (Harmony), Ethan Erickson (Percy West), James Lurie (Mr. Miller), Hal Robinson (Professor Lester Worth), John Rosenfeld (Vamp Lackey #2), Adrian Neil (Vamp Lackey #1)
Directed by Joss Whedon

TX (US): 18th March 1999
TX (UK - Sky One): 26th November 1999
TX (UK - BBC): 14th September 2000

*Featuring Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles, Oz, Cordelia, Faith and Angel

*This episode was shown out of order in the US, due to the tragic Columbine High School shootings