Posted by: thebuffyrewatch | July 24, 2011

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

Synopsis: Buffy escapes from the police and goes to see Willow who is unconscious at the hospital. Xander stays with her as Buffy searches for Giles. She finds Whistler instead and then runs into Spike. He offers her a deal: Dru for Angel as he doesn’t want the world to end. She takes it but she is forced to tell Joyce the truth about her slaying. Spike returns to the Mansion and both aids Angel in his torture of Giles and helps keep him from harm. Willow recovers and insists on repeating the spell to restore Angel’s soul. Xander is supposed to tell Buffy but doesn’t as she and Spike attack. Spike flees with Dru as Angel successfully pulls the sword from Acathla. Buffy is about to kill Angel when Willow completes the spell and his soul is returned. Buffy stabs him, sealing the portal and leaves town.

The Good: This was more exceptional stuff with the tragedy of Angel’s situation being made even sadder as a final twist. Buffy not only has to kill him but he regains his soul just before she does it. Instead of vanquishing an evil man she is forced to kill her own love moments after he is restored to his old self. It’s so sad and the final horror Buffy has had to face in a season which has made it as clear as clear could be what sacrifices a slayer must make in order to save the world.

Buffy does an amazing job throughout the episode with every emotion asked of her. Probably her best scene came as Joyce is finally forced to see the truth about her daughter. Buffy doesn’t sound mean or ungrateful as she lectures her mum on the reality of her existence. Once more the immense weight of her calling is moving to see and she draws great sympathy from the viewer. Joyce is understandably upset and confused. The writing was excellent as Buffy acknowledges the evidence which has piled up over the last two years about her lifestyle. It was a tremendous confrontation and added to the sadness engulfing Buffy as she prepared for the final showdown.

Another smart decision this season has been to keep Spike and Drusilla around. They are such outstanding villains and by keeping them involved in Angel’s plans they have played pivotal roles. Drusilla’s creepy abilities come to the fore again as she deceives Giles into giving up the information they needed. However it’s Spike who is Angel’s undoing and the arrogance and mockery which he has delighted in come back to haunt him. Spike’s intervention evens the playing field and reminds us that vampires are still part human and that humanity is what makes them interesting characters. Unlike a demon from another world who only has contempt for ours, Spike loves that the Earth is his playground and wants to maintain it. It’s a strong twist and needless to say we haven’t seen the last of him.

The Scoobies show off their bravery once more with Xander throwing himself into the fray, Giles withstanding torture and Willow insisting on re-casting the spell. It’s clearly a big moment for Willow as the magic takes hold of her in a way she didn’t realise it would. Giles is very brave as he stands up to Angel and the sad loss of Jenny returns to hurt him. Xander makes a fateful decision which probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the final fight but was the climax of two seasons of his affection for Buffy. By not telling her that Willow was trying to restore Angel’s soul he condemned him to death. Although he could have a perfectly reasonable argument for wanting Angel gone, we know it is a personal grudge filled with jealousy. It was an interestingly selfish moment from someone who usually does the right thing.

Spike even squeezed some humour into the episode thanks to his awkward reunion with Joyce and his description of people as “Happy Meals with legs.” It was hard not to smile at Snyder’s coverall comment which neatly explained why the authorities haven’t been concerned by the hellmouth yet: “In case you haven’t noticed, the Police of Sunnydale are deeply stupid.”

After all Buffy has been through it makes sense that she wants to leave town.

The Bad: There’s no way Xander should be punching anyone with his broken wrist.

The Unknown: Once more we get hints of the world beyond Sunnydale. Whistler clearly knows what is about to come and what Buffy and Angel must go through. He does however hint that free will plays an important role in events when he says “Nobody saw you coming.” Meanwhile Snyder gives the Mayor a call to explain why Buffy’s expulsion is good news.

Vampires don’t breath air right? Angel couldn’t give Buffy CPR because he has no breath (112). So how does Spike choke Drusilla into unconsciousness?

Best Moment: The Buffy-Joyce confrontation still feels emotional even a decade after I first saw it.

The Bottom Line: This was an epic end to an epic story. The love between Angel and Buffy was the ultimate demonstration of why being a Slayer is no fun and turned the show into one of the great dramas on television. This finale is richly rewarding for those who’ve watched every episode and yet can entertain almost as well standing on its own.

90/100

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Responses

  1. There is one thing that you missed in your blog post. When Buffy meets Whistler to ask him when she would be ready and then Buffy leaves, Whistler adds, “There is one last thing that you have to lose,” hinting at the fact that Buffy would have to lose Angel in the end.

  2. Ahh, love this episode. Drusilla making Giles see Jenny was so incredibly twisted and sad. Giles misses her so much, is so deperate for her to be there, that he loses all reason and just forgets that she can’t possibly be real. I love Giles in this episode. I also believe that the spirit that posessed Willow was Jenny. It just seemed sort of right, somehow.

  3. When thinking about how this episode strips everything away from Buffy so all she has left is herself and her own physical and inner strength, I realized that we also see that happen in Season 7, Empty Places (spoiler alert). Even though Buffy loses everything in a different way in Empty Places, the end result is the same. She has nothing left but herself… and Spike. Interesting.

  4. I’m watching Angel, and I just heard the “Close Your Eyes” theme from Becoming, Pt. 2. Good grief. I’m a 37 year old man, laying next to my wife teary-eyed because of a teenage show I watched in college. I love this show! Thanks for the podcast!


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