Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 24, 2011

Cordia’s Review: S2, E22 – Becoming (2)

Becoming – Part 2
Season 2, Episode 22
Original airing: 5/19/1998

My Rating: 95

The Good: This episode does exactly what I love in a season finale. It wraps up basically every season-long storyline, while introducing new facets and quirks to make me desperate to watch the next season. A few of the things contained in this incredible 45 minutes includes the restoration of Angel’s soul, banishing Acathla, Spike and Buffy teaming up, Drusilla posing as Jenny to torture Giles, Willow successfully performing the curse, Xander telling Willow he loves her, Joyce learns Buffy is a vampire slayer, and Buffy stabbing Angel with a sword and sending him to hell. As I mentioned, that’s just a few things.

But it’s all done with such grace and style. Nothing feels rushed in the episode, even though so much is happening. All of the stories flow together naturally and end on a perfect note. Buffy choosing to leave town is incredibly unexpected, but also makes a lot of sense. Her mother has kicked her out of the house, she’s been expelled, she had to kill her boyfriend and she caused injury to all of her friends. She feels her whole life is gone and it’s better to just get the hell out of Sunnydale. What an intriguing end to the season.

Before all that, though, she’s hunted by the police and forced to team up with Spike. Buffy and Spike together are quite the force to be reckoned with. It also allows for the amazing living room scene where Joyce is attempting to be a good host to a man she once threatened with a fire ax. Joyce’s reaction to Buffy’s lifestyle is also incredibly well done. From confusion to disbelief to anger, it runs a gamut of emotions is a very short time. But as with everything else, none of it feels false or rushed.

Xander shines the episode for being serious. He expresses a deeply held affection for Willow, then helps Buffy in the final fight. Before that, he selfishly refuses to tell Buffy that Willow is working on the curse again and Angel might get his soul back. This feels like a turning point for the character who has always been a bit of comic relief.

Finally, everything culminates with Buffy and Angel. In a move which might be the most brilliant and terrible TV moment in history, Angel receives his soul and then Buffy has to kill him. It’s so powerful and the acting is so strong that it hasn’t lost a hint of emotional power in the 14 years since its original airing.

The Bad: There are a few things to nitpick here. The first being what is up with the cops in Sunnydale? Does their deep stupidity, as described by Snyder, account for their incredible trigger happiness? The one cop shoots at Buffy and another pulls a gun on her at night. I know they probably have a warrant out, but did he really spot her in the dark from his car and come to a positive identification? It comes across as quite silly.

Spike’s chocking Drusilla to unconsciousness was also very silly. It’s been stated on the show before that vampires don’t need to breath, they just choose to so they can speak and pretend to be human before they attack and all. So this didn’t make nearly as much sense as if Spike had just cold-clocked her.

The last issue has plagued me for years. Ever since I first saw this episode, I didn’t understand why Buffy had to kill Angel. If it only took a little blood on the hand to open the portal, why couldn’t they do the reverse to close it? Stabbing him through the middle with a sword always seemed like overkill to me. Dramatic, heart-wrenching overkill.

Favorite Moment: This entire episode is extremely strong with little that couldn’t qualify for Favorite Moment status, but the epitome of it all is Buffy killing Angel. This final straw not only breaks the camel’s back, it crushes it to dust.

The Bottom Line: A phenomenal end to two seasons of development with just enough strings left hanging to make it inevitable that a viewer will move on to season three. Fantastic.

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