Graduation is more than just a right of passage for normal high school seniors. It’s into the real world and off to college. Life changes. People grow up.
The two episodes with the name Graduation Day mean so much more than just a Commencement Ceremony. Times change. People change. Situations change. And the simple fact is that nothing is going to stay the same.
Graduation Day Part 1 brings more themes across than just preparation for the end, often it can be often used as double-speak. And with the Mayor being the commencement speaker with his happy-go-lucky demeanor and holier than thou, squeaky clean persona, he uses the terms “graduation” and “ascension” almost interchangeably. As the Mayor ascends and transforms into his demon form, so do the students grow and change.
Things DO change, and everyone panics.
One example of the panic is Oz and Willow. It’s overly apparent how Willow panics. She talks a lot. She tries over planning. And she is very verbal about being panicked. She goes into deep research mode, and tries without results to find a solution. Oz, on the other hand, is much more difficult to understand, especially with his monosyllabic stoicism. Willow can’t see Oz’s panic, calling him “ironic detachment guy.” When he actually says he’s panicking, Willow is shocked, but goes with his panicking solution, and they end up making love for the first time. And only because it needed to happen.
Another panicky threesome is Xander, Cordelia and Anya. Symbolic in its own right, it can be construed as Xander’s transition from an adolescent relationship to more of an adult relationship. From Cordelia to Anya. In their pre-apocalyptic state, Xander and Cordelia have called a truce. It’s to the point where they can skip class together, something they probably haven’t done since they were dating. And that proves they are both maturing, not from skipping class, but in being able to do something together without having to kill each other to do it. And Cordelia must have forgiven Xander for his past indiscretion with Willow. It really shows what the threat of an apocalypse can do for someone’s maturity.
Now, being a thousand year-old ex-demon who has witnessed an apocalypse before, the threat of impending doom is enough to make her want to flee. Anya clearly has barfy feelings for Xander, which makes her try to convince him to come along, but he declines because his friends are in danger. Xander has never been the type to bail on his friends, so it comes as no surprise that he chose to stay.
Buffy herself is the key in making the graduation metaphor come alive. Watching Angel die, Buffy is faced with a difficult choice to make. Wesley presents her with the information that the Council will not help her help Angel, so she quits. Not mutiny. Graduation.
The big fight between Faith and Buffy is oozing with graduation metaphors.
We can’t play kid games anymore.
All dressed up in big sister’s clothes.
Growing up is an important theme played out. It’s all a passage into the future.