Sunday, April 28, 2013

Graduation Day Pt. 2

Season #3, Episode #22: Graduation Day Pt. 2
 
"My God. He's going to do the entire speech."

Another year, another season finale. I'll take some time to reflect on the season at the end of the recap, but I can't help but get all sappy right up front.

The first time I watched Buffy, I was sitting on my best friend's couch delighting in this newfangled thing called "Netflix streaming." I was immediately hooked and watched the rest of the series on Youtube in 10 minute installments. To evade Youtube's copyright policy, the uploader flipped each video, so I watched the mirror image of Buffy. Certainly not the ideal way to watch...anything at all, but it did the trick.

Youtube-watching Rose hated Faith but found Season 3 enthralling. DVD-watching Rose is bored by Faith and found the last third of Season 3 boring. After Bad Girls, the show forgets its ensemble cast, its setting, and its humor. Once you already know what's going to happen with the Ascension, there's little else to keep you around.

With that said, Graduation Pt. 2 thrilled me just like the first time, and actually improved on my recollection. We pick up right where we left off with Buffy and her bloody knife on the roof. The Mayor turns up just as she climbs down a fire escape and tells his lackeys to stop preparing for the Ascension and find Faith. It's the first time we see a break in his facade as he repeats to himself over and over, "She'll be all right." This scene takes place in one long tracking shot--the first of several in the episode. This finale is more cinematic than most episodes, right down to the music, which has shed all vestiges of Season 1 cheesiness. It is downright scary.


Willow tends to sweaty Angel and his wound, only something about her gentle touch makes Angel think she's Buffy. He kisses her hand and goes on about how he was wrong and he can never leave her, which is much funnier than it's meant to be.


When actual Buffy turns up at his bedside--Angel asks, just to be sure--things are far less humorous. She takes off her leather jacket, looks him in the eye, and says, "DRINK ME." When he refuses, she naturally punches him in the face over and over until he becomes his vampirey self and goes for the jugular.

I always remembered this plot invention that Buffy would have to offer up her own blood to save Angel as being really Twilight-esque and silly. But the scene plays much creepier than I remembered, what with the punching and jarring visual of her struggling underneath Angel, kicking a table into the fire, and then passing out, all while he continues feeding. Buffy may love its teen romances, but it never shies away from portraying how abusive and unhealthy they can be.


Of course, when Angel comes to his senses, he rushes Buffy to the hospital. In one long tracking shot, we follow Angel as he entreaties the doctor to save Buffy and runs to the phone, and then into Faith's hospital room, where the Mayor is watching over her. The doctor tells him that it's unlikely she will ever regain consciousness. When he overhears the nurse talking about another young girl with massive blood loss, he puts two and two together and goes over to Buffy's room to try to suffocate her. All in one tracking shot! It's striking.



Luckily, Angel turns up in the nick of time to pull the Mayor away. But the trouble doesn't end there. He's come undone at the seams and is more excited than ever about eating Buffy at graduation. What's more, when the Scoobies turn up, they're none too pleased with Angel that he drank Buffy's blood. If we didn't already have thousands of other reasons why Angel can't stay in Sunnydale, here's one more.

Buffy has a feverish hospital dream that takes place in Faith's apartment. First of all, a precious, adorable kitten jumps on the bed and is soooo cute!
 

Faith speaks in riddles about Little Miss Muffet and 7-3-0. They have a dream dialogue that makes hazy sense--things about scars fading, and a guiding higher power. Faith tells Buffy that even "he" has human weakness, referring to the Mayor. The many boxes in the apartment belong to Buffy, according to Faith. And if she can't take all of it, she should just take what she needs. This dream brings Buffy back to consciousness, but not Faith.


Buffy includes many dream sequences, and there are no hard-and-fast rules about what they mean. Sometimes, a character can actually appear in another's dream, a la Buffy and Angel in Amends. Sometimes, dreams are premonitions; sometimes they're just dreams. There's no indication one way or another whether or not Buffy and Faith are truly meeting in the subconscious, but considering that Buffy just put Faith in a coma, it seems strange that she would be so helpful.

Without engaging in a full-on dream analysis, I will speculate. One MIGHT say that this dream isn't just giving Buffy space to figure out how to defeat the Mayor and also dropping hints about stuff from Season 5. One MIGHT look at all of the boxes of belongings in Faith home, and Faith's gesture that Buffy can take what she needs and leave the rest behind, as an invitation for Buffy to absorb the parts of the shadow slayer that will help and leave the baggage. Buffy tried to kill a human, but she doesn't have to end up like Faith. She's not going to be the same, but she's going to wake up.

But anyway! Buffy finds the rest of the Scoobies and tells them she is ready for war. The gang heads back to the library to discuss Buffy's plan to thwart the Ascension. Cleverly, the scene begins in the middle of the conversation, so the details of Buffy's plan are a mystery to the audience. All we can tell is that the Scoobies find it totally crazy (though not as crazy as Oz's plan to attack the Mayor with hummus), and that it hinges on Xander, which seems...impractical.


Next we get a plan execution montage! Not only do we watch the Scoobies fretting and bustling about, but we also see the Mayor giving his vampire army their marching orders. Giles discovers some loophole in the Ascension that will allow for Angel to fight outside during the daytime. The Mayor directs the vampires not to swear. Xander and Willow go to talk with Harmony and Percy in private. But what about???


[God bless America?]

We pause the war games for a personal moment between Wesley and Cordelia. Touchingly, Wesley came back to Sunnydale despite Buffy quitting the Council because he just wants to help. He tells Cordelia that he's heading back to England unless there's something back in Sunnydale worth staying for. The music swells, they kiss, and...it's terrible. They try again--still terrible. "Good luck in England!" Cordelia tells him.


Theirs is not the only romance ending in this episode. Angel tells Buffy that if they beat the Ascension, he's just going to leave without saying goodbye. It'll just be too hard once he sees those baby blues to commit to leaving. He couldn't even stand the thought of leaving when he mistook Willow for Buffy, after all.

Finally, it's graduation! The moment we've all dreaded. The Mayor goes up to the podium to give the speech he's spent 100 years writing and which he plans to read in its entirety. At the conclusion, the moon eclipses the sun, the Mayor writhes in pain, and a giant snake-like dinosaur emerges from his body. Not too dissimilar from some graduations I've attended btw.


The students of Sunnydale High stand up in terror, but then, in what is certainly the coolest moment of the episode, and possibly the season, they all rip off their graduation robes to reveal an assortment of weapons. Xander acts as their army commander using residual knowledge from Halloween. Reinforcements in the form of Angel, Wesley, and some assorted randos turn up to fend off the vampire army.


And touching though it is to see the seniors of Sunnydale High finally stand with Buffy--a continuation of their thanks to her in The Prom--there's still a body count. Larry the jock gets his neck snapped, and Harmony falls prey to a vampire. Worst/best of all, the Mayor eats Principal Snyder, who just found all of this Ascension business out of order.

But the grand finale of Buffy's plan necessitates that she be alone with the Mayor. In her dream, Faith told her to go after his human weakness--his fatherly love. She shows him the knife that he gave Faith, which Buffy used to stab her. When he chases her into the library, he meets a mountain of dynamite. "Well gosh," he says, before being blown up by Giles.



 The library :(


The Ascension is over and Sunnydale is safe, but the library is gone. The library! The inner sanctum! They blew it into pieces. It's a bold way to signal the end of an era, but definitely too bold considering the drastic decrease in quality once we get to Season 4. Might've wanted to keep that library around, that's all I'm saying.

Buffy wanders around in the wreckage, her diploma in hand. And despite the fact that Angel said he wasn't going to say goodbye, he appears in the distance, gives her a meaningful look, and then walks away through the fog.


Back to my babbling about the overall series. If the back half of Season 3 didn't hold up, the Buffy/Angel arc hit me much harder than I ever would have thought the second time around. Is it because I've now watched Angel and come to love the brooding, shirtless yoga loving Liam almost as much as I love Buffy? Partly. But his characterization on Buffy--sketchy though it may be--stands on its own. I still believe the Angelus arc in Season 2 is the best thing on the show, period.

Back in Season 2, Angelus was an omnipresent threat, even when he didn't appear in an episode. The writers were able to create a sense of menace while still focusing their energies on the core of the show: the Scoobies. Season 3 devotes too much of its energy trying with all this Faith/Mayor stuff at the exclusion of pretty much everything else. (There are 5 Angelus-centric episodes, and 8 Faith-centric episodes.) The only thing that happens with any of the other characters is that Oz and Willow finally get it on, and Buffy and Angel have the same fight over and over. After this season, Buffy is fairly separate from the rest of the group, and the characters only grow more isolated from one another.

But Graduation Day Pt. 2 ends with one final scene of togetherness, made all the more bittersweet by the fact that it is Cordelia's last episode. Buffy, Xander, Cordelia, Willow, and Oz stand in the shadow of the newly blown-up Sunnydale High. Oz asks them to take a moment to reflect on the fact that they survived. Not the battle with the Mayor--they survived high school. Not an easy feat at any school, let alone one located on the Hellmouth. They pause, and then walk away, exhausted and unimpressed. An irreverent end of an era.


In lieu of a favorite moment, I'll take this space to put in another plug for Angel. If you haven't given it a shot, reconsider! It's where Buffy characters go to get real character arcs!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Graduation Day Pt. 1

Season #3, Episode #21: Graduation Day Pt. 1
"Looking back at everything that's happened, maybe I should have sent you to a different school."

This is gonna be a short one. There's just not a lot to say about most part 1s. And for an episode in which Willow and Oz get it on for the first time, Angel takes an arrow through the heart, and Faith plummets to her death, Graduation Day Pt. 1 is pretty blah.

The episode begins on the last day of school at Sunnydale High during yearbook signing. Old enemies come together to say HAGS, I wish I had gotten to know you better, let's hang out this summer! Willow and Harmony say a fond farewell. Percy thanks Willow for turning him into a scholar. Bittersweet, because once they graduate they'll never see each other again. And also because Willow knows something the rest don't--they are probably all going to get eaten in a few days.


This premature nostalgia is lost on Buffy and Xander, who are otherwise preoccupied. The Ascension is nigh, and it appears it will take place at the actual graduation ceremony, where the Mayor will speak.

Faith shows up at the home of an old professor who is like Giles 20 years from now. She's on a mission from the Mayor to kill him, as he is a "loose end." Faith is creepy and nonchalant--she does "evil" much more convincingly than "troubled."


But the show hasn't given up on fleshing out that backstory! Earlier in the episode, the Mayor congratulated Faith on her murder of the professor by telling her that her father would have been proud. Really? Is her father Charles Manson and nobody told me?

Later, Faith volunteers to kill or maim anybody the Mayor needs cos she just can't sleep. The Mayor calls her a "firecracker" which, wouldn't you know it, is what her mother used to call her! If only her mother had just hugged her more, she could've used that nervous energy to become a computer programmer.

Part of what makes the Mayor as a parental figure so creepy is that he treats Faith like a tiny child. I'm not sure if this is meant to be comical, or if he's meant to be like the father she never had. Giles treats Buffy like an adult; the Mayor makes Faith dress up in a horrible pink dress, too girly even for Willow. He want her to wear it to the Ascension, which he likens to her debutante ball. "Nobody knows what you are," he says to her.


But the dress is really awful tho.

In class, Anya begs Xander to go out with her. The idea of anyone begging Xander to go out with him is comical in and of itself, but it's Anya's desperate attempt to understand this mortal coil that will be played for laughs from here on out. She suggests, "We could watch sports of some kind. Men like sports! I'm sure of it!" Xander tells Anya that if he survives the Ascension, they can go on a date. Shades of Season 5--but I'm getting ahead of myself!


For some reason I don't completely understand, Giles and Wesley are fencing in the library, talkin' about the Ascension. They're interrupted by Anya, who announces that she has witnessed an Ascension, and lived to tell the tale! She explains that all the demons that walk the earth are tainted and human-like. So when the Mayor becomes a pure demon, he'll be like one of those demons only real big? I think?


Right then Mayor drops by the library--it's alarming how scary his presence in this space can be. This is the Scoobies inner sanctum, and while it would be easy for any enemy to just drop in, it's like they just have an understanding that the library is off limits! It's probably in the Geneva Convention.


The Mayor gloats about the Ascension, and reads an excerpt from their research about all of the races of the earth coming together in terror during the Ascension. His response? "Aww, that's kinda sweet! Different races, coming together!"

Now that Buffy knows the Mayor is gonna be really huge, she's freaked out. She packs a bag for Joyce and tells her to get out of town because she can't fight the Mayor while worrying about Joyce. She's said similar things to Angel in the past to no avail. The idea of having a support system nearby is foreign to Buffy, who feels it is her responsibility to go it alone.

Now that Willow knows the Mayor is gonna be really huge, she's similarly freaked out. She tries to confide in Oz, who continues to be the "ironic detachment guy" in the face of this crisis. But they'll all be dead soon! And their graduation robes are so ugly! Willow wishes Oz would panic with her; he basically jumps her bones. "What are you doing?" Willow asks. "Panicking," Oz responds. I gotta say, my opinion of Oz has improved on this rewatch.


Angel turns up at the old professor's apartment to help Buffy carry a box? I think it's one of those things where he said they broke up and he never wanted to see her again, but then he keeps showing up unexpectedly for no reason, and he calls her like, "I still love you," and Buffy's like, "This is exhausting!" They fight in the street like an old divorced couple but their bickering is cut short when Angel gets an arrow thru the chest. It came from Faith, who meant to miss the heart. The arrow is poisoned! When will Katniss.


Wesley and Giles discover that the old professor studied volcanoes and found a big dead dinosaur in the ocean. The Mayor wants to hide this information because it means that when he turns into that dinosaur thing after the Ascension, he will no longer be invincible. Yeah!

Willow and Oz aren't the only ones to share a romantic moment. Anya turns up in the dead of night to ask Xander to come away with her, because the thought that something might happen to him makes her feel "bad inside." Despite his general uselessness, Xander proves his worth to the Scoobies--he's not going to leave! He's going to stick with them til the very end!


Wesley goes to the Council to ask if they'll help cure Angel, who is currently really poisoned and sweaty. And I mean, no offense Buffy, this does seem like kind of a ridic request. When they say no, poor Buffy has to shout things like, "I'm talking about watching my lover die!" She can't understand why the Watcher's council won't do anything to cure this vampire, and so she defiantly quits the council. Just like that! Why didn't you think of this ages ago, Buffy? Remember how they fired Giles??


After reading some books in chem lab, Oz discovers the cure for what ails Angel; unfortunately, this cure means draining the blood of a Slayer. A few weeks ago, Buffy might have expressed some moral qualms about what she'd have to do to get such blood, but today? No matter. She'll kill Faith. No prob!

Finally, us fans are going to get what I assume many of us always wanted--a battle royale between Buffy and Faith. This comes complete with a training montage interspersed with some shots of sweaty Angel.


Buffy turns up at Faith's apartment dressed in leather pants and a black top. Faith says, "Well look at you! All dressed up in big sister's clothes." And she does mean literally.


They beat the crap out of each other; it's pretty cool. Honestly, I miss the fight scenes. It's so vintage Buffy. All the acrobatic flips! And they are not even trying with the stunt doubles!

  

Poetically, Buffy stabs Faith right in the gut with the knife the Mayor gave her in Choices. Faith leaps dramatically off the roof to avoid her blood going to cure Angel. Her final words to Buffy? "You should have been there, B. Quite a ride."


Now, pause.

When I first watched this episode, I have to say I was almost glad to see Buffy stab Faith. For too many episodes Faith has just been wandering around causing all kinds of problems and being insufferable, and it's about time somebody did something about it, am I right?? I just wanted her off the show.

But having seen the rest of the series, as well as Angel, this scene has lost much of its impact. Buffy doesn't turn grey at this moment like I originally hoped she would. There's been no build-up to her decision that she doesn't mind killing a human. There's no discussion as to whether or not this will change her like it changed Faith. Angel doesn't pretend to be Angelus and make out with her to extract info from hostage Willow or anything. In fact, I don't think anybody ever mentions this again until Season 6. It's a drastic turn for Buffy that's quickly forgotten, which also has the effect of diminishing Faith's arc. Why did Faith lose it, and not Buffy?

As I'm sure we all know, Faith doesn't actually die, which is a shame, in a way. Not because I'm not a fan--by the time she shows up on Angel, I like her a lot more. But because this would have forced Buffy to contemplate her dark side. She could absorb Faith, who has always been her shadow. Considering the path she takes in later seasons, this would have benefited her characterization in my opinion. Faith surviving is a copout.

Favorite moment: Giles stabs the Mayor with a fencing...sword? I don't remember why but it's Giles stabbing the Mayor with a sword.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Prom

 Season #3, Episode #20: The Prom
 
"I'm gonna give you all a nice, fun, normal evening if I have to kill every person on the face of the Earth to do it!"

Let me begin by saying this. The Prom is not a very good episode. Most of it is actually tedious. Not in the way that it's poorly written, but in the way that it's a necessary plot episode to drive the final nail in the coffin of the Buffy/Angel romance. 

It's been clear that Buffy and Angel won't stay together since season 2. Their relationship doesn't evolve in season 3. It stagnates. Like so many young romances, it overstays its welcome and then some, circling back to the beginning over and over despite Buffy's insistence that they're doing just fine.

Maybe it's because Angel is about 238042348 years old, but he never gave off the impression that he was confident in the longevity of their relationship. In fact, when Spike, the Mayor, Giles, Joyce, Xander, Cordelia, and the First aren't busy explaining to Buffy and Angel why their love is doomed, Angel is more than happy to take up the torch. Buffy doesn't listen, and they pretend it never happened. This was portrayed beautifully in Amends, aka the episode that makes me cry like a total sap. But episode after episode of this--true to life or not--doesn't make for good television.

With that said, The Prom is still one of my favorite Buffy episodes. It fills you with the sort of dopey goodwill that all the cynicism you've cultivated over the years just can't deny. It doesn't have anything new or deep to say, and it doesn't exhibit any of the--dare I say it--craft found in better Buffy episodes. But it has a lot of heart, and one very strategically placed Rolling Stones cover.

On with it, then!

If you need any indication that the Buffy/Angel romance has run its course, I accidentally wrote the following sentence in my notes to describe the opening scene: "Edward watches Buffy while she sleeps."

The two of them had retired to Angel's home, which I couldn't identify; is this the bedroom of his creepy graveyard lair? Or did he rent a nice studio and I just forgot about it? Buffy, tired from patrolling, passed out the night before and wakes up up with terrible bedhead. She wants to primp, but Angel reminds her that he doesn't have any mirrors. What's more, she suggests that they go to prom together, and it's like he doesn't even CARE about prom!


At Sunnydale High, Anya approaches Xander to ask him to the prom. Remember Anya? If you don't, she and Xander have an expository conversation to remind you that she was the vengeance demon from The Wish and Doppelgangland whose purpose was to wreak havoc on evil, terrible men. She lost her powers, and is now forever doomed to be a lowly mortal teenager with pesky hormones and an intense desire to go to the prom. She's noticed Xander ogling her and surmises that he might take her to the dance, asking him, "Men are evil. Will you go with me?"


Back at Angel's charming open concept apartment with hardwood floors, he discovers a notebook that Buffy left behind on which she drew "Buffy and Angel 4ever!"


Believe it or not, but I was in high school once too. And while I remember very little, I do remember writing song lyrics in the margins of my notes and practice tattoos on myself because I just had a lot of emotions. But it seems peculiar, though maybe not unheard of, for a high school senior to write "Buffy and Angel 4ever!!" on her notebook, let alone Buffy, who not one year ago stabbed Angel and pushed him through a hell vortex.

Joyce makes a surprise visit to tell Angel what so many have told him before--Buffy and Angel are not 4ever. Angel is not averse to this intervention--ever stalwart and true, he knows what's best for Buffy and doesn't want to stand in her way. Plus, as he says, "I'm old enough to be her ancestor."

Back at the library, much to Giles's dismay, all the Scoobies can talk about are their prom get-ups. Willow probably says something about wearing a knit sweater with pom poms and some nice OshKosh B'Gosh overalls; Buffy bought a pink dress that is going to make Angel "lose it." Not the best phrasing.

In stark contrast with Buffy's obliviousness, we cut to Angel having a Dream of Great Metaphoric Significance that Buffy/Angel shippers across the world have probably screencapped within an inch of its life and hung the prints all over their walls. He and Buffy are in a chapel having a very traditional wedding, although it appears nobody showed up, but hey, nobody's wedding is perfect.

 

At least Buffy is wearing an awesome wedding dress! Which, when they exit the chapel, bursts into flame, along with Buffy. Again I say that nobody's wedding is perfect!


That night, Buffy and Angel patrol in the sewers--the perfect setting for a serious relationship talk! You see, it isn't just that all of their romantic moments have to take place in the dead of night in a sewer. It's that they can never have children. Or do any of the things Buffy will want to do once she is not so obsessed with prom. Angel breaks it to Buffy once and for all that they can't be together, but as long as they're both still around, they can't stay apart. Once the Mayor's ascension is thwarted, Angel is going to leave town and pursue his lifelong dream of starring in a Buffy spin-off.

Buffy turns to Willow for post-breakup support. And I'll admit it. The scenes of Buffy grappling with the breakup get to me, the way Amends got to me. It's because Sarah Michelle Gellar is sooo good. She is so good at crying. Every time she cries, just forget it.

  

But more than that, there's something affecting about these tried and true romances when executed well. I wrote about this back in my recap of Angel; there's nothing groundbreaking about a stock romance, not even if it's complicated by demons and slayers. Angel is more or less a cardboard cutout before he gets his own show. Buffy has outgrown the kind of childish loyalty to their doomed romance by now. But somehow it just works. For better or worse, it speaks to the part of you that was socialized as a young child to believe in these kinds of stories.

Xander goes tuxedo shopping and spots Cordelia still pining over the same beautiful dress from Earshot. Only before he can get any quips in about her shopping addiction, he discovers that she's actually a shopgirl. Her dad got busted for tax evasion and her family lost everything--their house, their ability to send Cordelia to college, and money for a prom dress. Xander pauses to process this dramatic turn of events, and gets mauled by a hellhound. Wait, what? I think I looked away for a second and missed something.

 

With some help from Cordelia's knowledge of fashion and the security camera footage of the store, the Scoobies realize that the hellhound went after somebody in formal wear. The culprit, caught on film, is Tucker, a Sunnydale High student we have never heard of and of whom we will never hear again. They put two and two together and figure out that he is training these hellhounds to attack kids at the prom. While some less creative types may just choose to cancel the prom, Buffy rejects this failure of imagination. She's going to give Sunnydale High a prom--a really good one! Even if it means she has to kill everyone in the world!!

I'm no psychologist, but one MIGHT say that Buffy is deflecting. She wanted the prom to be her one perfect high school moment--all of her birthdays have sucked, Homecoming was a wash, and her graduation day will be spent fighting the Mayor during his ascension. But if she can't be with Angel at the prom, she'll focus her energies into making sure the rest of her class can enjoy the prom for her. Buffy expresses this to Giles, bravely making her way through dialogue such as: "Should I tell them they can't spend tonight with their honeys, of all nights?"

  

Giles and Wesley are chaperones, and Xander has agreed to take Anya. Buffy quite aggressively sends them all off to the prom with the promise that she's totally got this. She is on her own by design, if only to cover up the fact that so much of the reason she's alone is out of her hands.

She tracks down Tucker's hellhound warehouse where she discovers he locked them all in cages and forced them to watch high school movies about prom to train them to attack teenagers in formal wear. And why would a seemingly normal teenager resort to such drastic measures? When Buffy asks him, we get a hilarious (but dark) five-second flashback to Tucker asking a girl to the prom and getting rejected.


Buffy chases after the hellhounds, who have already been dispatched to the high school. She takes one for the team by getting the beasts to chase after her and away from the school, but the moment they hear "Celebrate" playing in the distance, they go crazy and run back.

Buffy dispenses of the hellhounds easily. The monster factor in The Prom is a bit of a red herring--in fact, the only part of the episode that anybody cares about or remembers doesn't begin until Buffy turns up at the prom in her pink dress that will make Angel lose it.

She asks Willow and Oz how the prom has been so far, to which Oz responds, "Strangely affecting. I got all teared up when they played We Are Family." "Strangely affecting" may be the perfect way to describe this episode.


Take the next scene, for example. After the prom committee presents all the class awards and ostensibly crowns the king and queen, Jonathan goes up to the mic, lowers it by about two feet, and announces that they have one more award to give out. It's a new category; there were a lot of write-in votes. He asks if Buffy Summers is in the audience, and gives the following speech, which I present to you in its full glory:

"We're not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you. But that doesn't mean we haven't noticed you. We don't talk about it much but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here. (Zombies! Hyena people! Snyder!) But whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any class in Sunnydale History! And we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class offers its thanks and gives you this...It's from all of us. And it has written here: 'Buffy Summers--Class Protector.'"

Jonathan then presents her with pink sparkly umbrella that will totes make Angel lose it.



It's such a high school movie moment--the kind that would make the hellhounds flip--but there's a reason why those moments are so strangely affecting. It's the same reason the Buffy/Angel romance is so strangely affecting. It's wish fulfillment. It's the idea of a transcendent moment in time, and a sense of closure. These moments rarely if ever occur in real life. Buffy certainly never thought she'd get her perfect high school moment. She's not voted the Prom Queen, and she doesn't get a makeover and win over the heart of the quarterback. For a Slayer, this is the perfect high school moment.

And if that wasn't enough, she gets that sense of closure, too. Angel turns up at the prom, tux and all, for one final slow dance. Part of me wishes this were his last scene on the show. They say enough to one another to show that they understand he has to leave, without belaboring the point. And then they dance in silence to The Sundays' cover of "Wild Horses." And then the credits roll. And I'm not crying, you're crying!!


Favorite moment: Not my favorite moment, but a bonus moment!

Cordelia leaves the shop for the night and finds out that her dress has been bought and paid for by Xander. This may be the first instance that I've ever felt compelled to write, "Awwww, nicely done Xander!"


She turns up at the prom in said dress looking so super hot. This does not go unnoticed by Wesley, who clumsily asks Giles if it would be wildly inappropriate if he asked Cordelia to dance. Giles responds in a way that only he could, "For God's sake man, she's 18. And you have the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone."