Of all the great things about television, the greatest is that it’s on every single day. TV history is being made, day in and day out, in ways big and small. In an effort to better appreciate this history, we’re taking a look back, every day, at one particular TV milestone.
IMPORTANT DATE IN TV HISTORY: May 18, 1999
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: The second half of the two-part Buffy season 3 finale gets a lot of the attention, and for good reason. For one thing, it was the climax of the first three seasons of the show, with Buffy and all her friends standing up to the Mayor’s ascension as a group and saving the day (while blowing up the high school). It was also the episode that got delayed for weeks at the last minute because of network concerns over high-school violence.
“Graduation Day, Part 1” is less heralded, but undeservedly so. This wasn’t just some extended setup for the events of the finale. It was, in fact, the culmination of season 3’s best mini-arc, which pitted Buffy against dark-slayer Faith. The psychological juxtaposition of both slayers was one of the best arcs Joss Whedon ever pulled off. And when Faith poisoned Angel with a toxin-tipped arrow, the only way to get him well was to feed him the blood of a slayer. Cue up the showdown of a lifetime.
The Buffy-Faith brawl goes down as the single best fight sequence on Buffy and one of the best fight sequence on all of television. Scored by Christophe Beck’s high-stakes score, Buffy and Faith go toe-to-toe, destroying Faith’s cushy penthouse pad and everything inside it. By the end, Buffy gets the upper hand. She’s proved herself to be the superior Slayer. But still perhaps not the most cunning, as Faith swan-dives to her (possible) death, taking away Buffy’s chance to save Angel in the process. Even at the end, Faith kind of ruled.