"Go Fish" (2x20) quick link here "Anne" (3x01) quick link here
Two quick notes before we get started...
1) I will be reviewing the episodes in bullet point form. This is because it makes the reviews simple to read, and helps break up the text.
2) If you are watching the show for the first time along with these reviews, please be warned that there may be a few spoilers for things that haven’t happened yet.
With that being said, let’s get started, shall we?
• “Becoming” (both parts) can be attributed to why “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” is my favourite television show in history, along with “Angel”. As you know, “Killed By Death” was the first episode that I saw, and “Passion” was the episode that made me fall in love with the show. “Becoming” was the episode(s) that solidified my obsession. After watching this finale, I was beyond hooked. I was captivated, I was heartbroken, and I was obsessed. I don’t think obsessed is a strong enough word. “Becoming” was the first VHS tape of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” that I owned. I must have watched that VHS tape at least a hundred times...I had an interesting childhood. A year after buying that tape, I started to buy every season on VHS. If it wasn’t for “Becoming”, who knows if I’d have stuck with this spectacular, wonderful piece of art known as “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”.
• “There’s moments in your life that make you. That set the course of who you’re gonna be. Sometimes they’re little, subtle moments. Sometimes, they’re not. I’ll show you what I mean.”
There are some episodes of television shows or films that you just know are going to be special right from the start. You can just feel that they’re going to be a big part of your life and alter the way that you look at the world and yourself. That’s what “Becoming” was for me. In a weird way it feels like Angel is talking about my life here. He’s telling me that my life is about to be changed forever by the next 90 minutes of television that is about to unfold. Realistically, this monologue from Angel is setting up the end of part one (Whistler’s beautifully paralleled monologue to this one) and the end of part two (Buffy sending Angel to Hell and leaving Sunnydale).
• David Boreanaz’s Irish accent is brutal. Brutal. Screw it, it’s so bad that it deserves capital letters...BRUTAL! Sadly, it doesn’t improve a great deal as the years go by.
• I did yelp at the television a little when I saw that Darla was back for the flashbacks. When this episode originally aired it wasn’t a big deal, as Darla’s first stint in the Buffyverse wasn’t overly memorable, but after you’ve seen Angel season two and season three, you can appreciate the scene where Darla turns Liam into a vampire so much more. It’s the start of more than a hundred years together. On the downside, it’s the start of a relationship that will ultimately lead to Connor...so thanks for that, Darla. Speaking of the siring, that is the most sensual siring I’ve seen in my life. I need a cold shower after that...I love the symmetry to when Angel bites Buffy exactly one season later. The sexual subtext behind these two bitings is apparent.
• There are very few episodes of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” where I think Christophe Beck has done a better job than these two. The only episodes that spring to mind are “The Gift”, “Restless”, and “Hush”. The musical scores in these two episodes are perfect all the way through. They capture the emotion of the scenes flawlessly.
• “Becoming” is also the last time that the older, dirtier opening theme is used. Nerf Herder re-recorded the opening theme before season three began, and that is the version that is used for the remainder of the show’s run. I actually slightly prefer the older theme. I’m a fan of the grittiness. I like it dirty...
• There are many things to like in this episode. The first of which is Xander’s re-enactment of the fight the night before using fishsticks...
“Tell Angel I'm gonna kill him. No, wait. I'm gonna kill you! Die! Die! Die! Aaaaahhhh *thud noise* Mother....”
Firstly, bless this episode for giving us some humour before all of the drama, tears, heartache, and depression (thanks for that, Joss). Second...
Oz: “I thought it was riveting. I was unclear about some of the themes.”
Oz’s genuine enthusiasm over Xander’s re-enactment is hilarious.
• Actually, that whole cafeteria scene is filled with witty Xander dialogue. Here are some other highlights...
“And almost 65% of that was actual compliment. Is that a personal best?”
“I will teach...ze language of love!”
• Snyder: “Just give me a reason to kick you out, Summers.” How about being accused of killing Kendra and hitting a cop? Will that suffice?
• I appreciate that we finally get to see a little bit of what Angelus did to Drusilla after hearing so much about how he drove her to the point of insanity before making her a vampire. The confession scene was absolutely fantastic, and it sparked Angelus’ interest in her. I’m a big fan of flashback episodes in general. It makes me love and appreciate a character so much more if I know what struggles they had before we were introduced to them. This episode is full of flashbacks. They are definitely needed to make you fully appreciate Angel’s journey. You need to full appreciate Angel’s journey to realise how special it was that Angel fell in love with Buffy at first sight. You need to full appreciate Buffy and Angel’s connection and relationship before Whedon decides to have Buffy send Angel to Hell and tear everything apart. Joss wants everyone to be fully aware of everything before he huffs and puffs and blows our house down.
• David’s acting for Angel got so much better after he played Angelus. I guess after being given such a wide range of new things to play, he just grew naturally as an actor.
• There are two very questionable scenes in this episode that revolve around Xander, which seem to split the fandom. The first of which is Xander telling the Scoobies that Angel deserves to die because he’s evil and killed Jenny. I can see both sides of the argument in this case. One of the problems is that on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”, we never truly know how much of Angel is still around after he loses his soul. On “Angel”, we learn that Angel and Angelus are basically two entirely different entities that share one body. Xander seems to think that Angelus and Angel are in some ways the same person (certain aspects at least), so Angel needs to die. I understand Xander’s thought process here. If Willow did successfully re-ensoul Angel, how long would it be before he lost his soul again and started killing innocent people? Does the risk outweigh the reward? The problem is that it feels like Xander is saying all of this for the wrong reasons. Xander wants Angel gone for good because Buffy is in love with Angel and Xander is in love with Buffy. I’m sure that a part of the reason why Xander is saying all of this is because he’s worried about everyone’s safety, but it never feels like he’s being sincere. Angel murdered Jenny. Even if Willow succeeded, how could Giles ever co-exist with Angel? These are all points to consider during this argument. On the other side of the argument is Buffy. Buffy is desperate to get Angel back. As prepared as she is to kill Angelus now, she’d still much rather get her boyfriend back and not have to fight him. Who can blame her for that? Buffy is in love with Angel. She feels like Angel is innocent of any wrongdoing that is committed whilst Angel is soulless.
• From out of the bushes emerges Kendra and the most unconvincing accent ever on the show. Seriously, I can’t listen to it. How are we supposed to take anything she says seriously when she sounds like that?
• Spike: “It’s a big rock. I can’t wait to tell my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.”
You sarcastic bastard...I love it.
• Giles using the orb of Thesula as a paperweight is a great little call-back to “Passion”, where the magic shop owner told Jenny that he’d recently sold some as paperweights.
• I like the character of Whistler being introduced. He served a purpose and was certainly memorable. In fact, Whistler was originally supposed to be in the spin-off, “Angel”, but Max Perlich was unavailable so the character of Doyle was created. As much as I enjoy Whistler, I absolutely adore Doyle, so I’m happy with the way that things turned out. The only thing I dislike about Whistler is that it feels unrealistic that Whistler could put Angel on the path to redemption so quickly. Angel has been living alone, isolated, for almost a hundred years, and now a day or two with Whistler (a stranger) makes him completely overhaul his entire life? I understand that it’s not really Whistler that makes Angel change. It’s Angel watching Buffy being called by Merrick as the next Slayer. Watching Angel watch Buffy being called is one of my favourite scenes of season two. Angel instantly falls in love with her the second he sees her, you can see it in his eyes. It’s a testament to how talented an actor David has become that you know exactly what Angel is thinking, even when he doesn’t say a word. He’s always had fabulous facial expressions. It’s also interesting to note just how similar to Cordelia Buffy was before all this responsibility and destiny was thrust upon her shoulders. Bitchdelia: Los Angeles version.
• It’s also interesting to note that Angel moved to Los Angeles to be near Buffy. That was his sole reason for going there. Angel displays some of the stalkerish tendencies that Angelus later demonstrates around Buffy. When you really think about it, it’s all rather creepy. Buffy was fifteen years old when Angel fell in love with her and moved to a city just to be near her. If this love story was told by a less competent writer, it could have come across as very, very sinister. Don’t get me wrong, I love Buffy and Angel together...but the whole thing is a little creepy at the beginning, you have to admit.
• Merrick was sinfully boring. He had neither Giles’ charm nor Wesley’s hilarity. I’m glad that Merrick wasn’t Buffy’s watcher during the show. His glorious moustache would have distracted me during every scene he was in. It’s so....mesmerising.
• The orange jacket that Buffy wears when she stakes her first vampire is atrocious.
• “Becoming Part One” gives the audience a glimpse into Joyce and Hank’s relationship, and it was not good. Constantly arguing, not getting along...it’s a very volatile relationship to try and raise a child in. They remind me a lot of my mum and stepdad actually...that’s probably not a good thing. For anyone that says Angel never loved Buffy or anything like that needs to rewatch “Becoming”. Watch this scene. Look at Angel’s teary eyes as Buffy is crying into the mirror of her house.
• Spike: “Someone wasn’t worthy.”
Just when things were getting emotional and tense, Joss pulled a little ‘Jossism’ and created some humour in the middle of the chaos. I genuinely laughed out loud at this scene when I first saw it. It’s a great little throwback to “School Hard”, when Spike said “Someone’s in the ceiling” with similar inflection.
• Kendra passing the ‘torch’ of Mr. Pointy is a historic moment. I think Kendra gets a bad rap from fans of the show overall. While I would never pretend that Kendra is a character that I really cared for, I can at least appreciate her character and enjoy the differences between Buffy and Kendra’s upbringing and methods. Kendra was given to her Watcher by her parents when she was very young, and she never had a childhood. Kendra naming her stake is so innocent and so child-like. It’s really a nice touch for her character.
• Then everything gets majorly screwed up...
Willow gets crushed by a bookcase.
Xander gets his wrist broken (and saves Cordelia in the process, go Xander!)
Drusilla kills Kendra. I was so shocked by Kendra’s death. I didn’t see it coming at all. I thought that Buffy would get there in time. After Jenny’s death, I wasn’t expecting another ‘good guy’ character to die during the second season! On the plus side, Kendra’s death gives us the much more interesting and likeable Faith...so yay for that, I suppose.
• Whistler’s monologue to close out part one is absolutely beautiful. It’s one of my favourite monologues from the show’s seven-year run. It’s the perfect way to close out an episode that started with Angel’s monologue about how “there’s moments in your life that make you”.
• “Becoming Part Two”, in essence, is a fall from grace for Buffy Summers. It all starts with losing Kendra. With Kendra’s lifeless body and Xander’s potential death still etched into her mind, Buffy hits a police officer in order to escape Sunnydale High. It’s a huge moment for both Buffy the character and the show to have Buffy attack a human authority figure for anything other than self-defence.
• I love that Buffy and Xander hug in the hospital. After the fight they had in part one about Angel, it was really nice to see that it didn’t matter, because in times of crisis they band together. It’s scenes like this that make Buffy and Xander’s friendship so genuine and loveable for me. The only friendship on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” that I feel surpasses Buffy and Xander is Xander/Willow.
Xander talking to an unconscious Willow can be read in two ways. 1) It’s a declaration of love. Xander’s had an epiphany and he’s realised that he has more than friendship feelings for Willow. This would help explain the disastrous fling that they have in season three. 2) It’s a declaration of unconditional friendship love. That is how I’ve always viewed this scene. Xander realises just how much he needs Willow. She’s been his best friend since he was 5 years old. I think that historically he’d taken her for granted a little. I never viewed this scene as a declaration of romantic love, but apparently a lot of people do.
• Angelus torturing Giles was great. I know it shouldn’t be great, but I got such joy from watching those scenes. Angelus is so genuinely happy! Also, Anthony Head would cut up chillies and rub them into his teeth and mouth before each torture scene. OUCH! That’s dedication folks!
• Spike goes to Buffy for help in stopping Angelus from destroying the world. I adore that entire scene. I also love that “dog racing” and “Manchester United” come before “people” on Spike’s list of reasons why he likes Earth. I have something to admit...and it’s weird to admit this, as I’ve been ‘Team Bangel’ for my entire life...I think I’m starting to appreciate ‘Spuffy’ a lot more than I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that their ‘relationship’ has major flaws (depression, physical abuse, sex addiction, and attempted rape to name a few), but I’m starting to really appreciate what a unique connection that they had right from the beginning. The problem is that I feel that Buffy always treated Spike pretty terribly until season seven. Personally, I don’t think that Buffy ever loved anyone as much as she loved Angel...but I think that Spike loved Buffy more than Angel did. It’s an odd position to find myself in because the older I get, the more I appreciate Angel/Cordelia as a romantic couple...where was I? I got caught up in pairings...oh, yes, Spike going to Buffy for help! The primary reason wasn’t to save the world, it was because Spike wanted Drusilla all to himself again, but Spike going to Buffy for help was a fantastic twist to this already excellent finale.
Buffy: “I hate you.”
Spike: “And I’m all you’ve got.”
JOYCE FINALLY DISCOVERS THAT HER DAUGHTER IS A VAMPIRE SLAYER! FINALLY! I’VE WAITED SO LONG! NO MORE SNEAKING AROUND AND SILLY ‘SUNNYDALE SYNDROME’ PLOTS! I love that Joyce’s reasoning for Buffy being the Slayer is that Buffy didn’t have a strong father-figure growing up. It’s such a parent thing to do. Joyce feels like it’s her parenting skills that have led to Buffy being The Chosen One.
• I can’t describe how much I love Spike/Joyce. In “School Hard”, “Lovers Walk”, “Crush”, “Forever”...every scene they have is magic. This one is no different...
Joyce: “Have we met?”
Spike: “You hit me with an axe one time, remember? ‘Get the hell away from my daughter’”
Joyce: “Oh...so do you live here in town?”
I’m dying...send help! Joyce is so friendly to someone that she once hit with a frickin’ axe.
• Buffy: “Open your eyes, mom. What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights, the weird occurrences. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing, and you still haven't figured it out?”
Joyce: “Well it stops now!”
Buffy: “No, it doesn't stop! It never stops! Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or, God, even studying! But I have to save the world... again.”
• Joyce telling Buffy that if she left she shouldn’t come back is tragic. You can tell the second she said it she wished that she hadn’t. It’s even more tragic because Buffy actually doesn’t come back for months (except to grab her stuff and leave Joyce a note). Ugh, I swear, these episodes are going to be the death of me. They’re so flawlessly written! Every word, every action, every movement...it’s all there for a very specific purpose. You can definitely tell that Joss personally wrote this episode. It’s just big moment after big moment. I feel like you need to watch these episodes a few times to truly appreciate them. The audience is still reeling from Joyce discovering that Buffy is the Slayer, and then *BAM* Buffy and Joyce fall apart, and then *BAM* Buffy is expelled from school! How is Buffy expelled?! How can they possibly keep this going for season three?! SO MANY QUESTIONS!
• Giles: “In order to be worthy, you must perform the ritual...in a tutu. Pillock.”
Giles remains sassy, even under torture! Be still my proud English heart. Seriously, Ripper, there’s a time and place for sass...this is not it.
• Snyder calls The Mayor in this episode. The Mayor has been mentioned a few times this season, but this is the first open acknowledgment that The Mayor is a questionable character. Not long now until he’s a huge part of the Buffyverse.
• I don’t know which is more disturbing: Drusilla becoming Jenny in order to get information out of Giles (poor Giles...my heart broke for him during that scene), or Drusilla kissing Giles! A world of ‘ewwwww’!
• Xander: “Kick his ass."
Three words that sparked a debate that continues to this day. This is probably my biggest questionable moment for my liking of Xander. Xander’s motives behind this statement are never made clear, which makes it hard to figure out whether or not I dislike him for it. Did he say it to save Buffy additional heartache? Did he say it so that Buffy wouldn’t lose the will to kill Angelus if she needed to? Did he say it “for the greater good” as he knew that eventually Angelus would return and kill more innocent people? There’s no denying that he despised Angel and that he was insanely jealous of Angel, was that why he did it? To get Angel out of the picture once and for all? Were his actions selfish here? There are so many variables!
This is one of those arguments that is hugely polarised. People either love or hate Xander for his actions here. I’m curious about what you guys think. Please put your thoughts on the matter in the comments section of this blog entry.
• Giles: “They get inside my head, make me see things I want.”
Xander: “Then why would they make you see me?”
Giles: “Oh, right, let’s go.”
I’m going to gloss over the depressing realisation that Xander is aware that Giles doesn’t like him, and just laugh, as it was hilarious.
• Spike choking Dru into unconsciousness is a continuity disaster. It’s explained numerous times that vampires don’t breathe and cannot be choked unconscious in that way.
• Angelus: “No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what’s left?”
Arguably the most iconic exchange on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer”. It’s the perfect quote for the mission statement of the show. It’s empowering, it’s inspiring, it’s exciting, and it makes your jaw drop and your arms flail in unison. The statement that it sends out into the world is truly remarkable. Especially when you consider the target audience for the show. No matter how much life throws at you, no matter how much you lose, you are strong enough to defeat it. I’m the living embodiment of that mentality myself (more on that during the season three’s “Amends” review).
• Then the ultimate heartbreak happens. Willow’s spell works. Why couldn’t it have been 5 minutes earlier?! Angel doesn’t remember anything. I’m assuming that he would have remembered after a few minutes, because he remembers what Angelus did during Angel season four.
• The damn love theme for Buffy and Angel is playing during the scene where Buffy is about to send Angel to Hell! Way to make a gut-wrenching scene worse, Whedon! The entire season was building up to this moment. All the little nuances and flashbacks that were carefully constructed to make this scene perfect are sheer brilliance when you stop to think about it. David and Sarah have never been better than they were during this scene. Whistler was right, Buffy had one more thing left to lose. She sends the man that she loves to Hell in order to save the world. Buffy finally understands what responsibility she has resting on her shoulders. Being the Slayer means that Buffy cannot live a normal life. She cannot have a normal life. She can’t date like a regular person. This realisation, along with murdering Angel, overwhelms Buffy and she leaves Sunnydale and her slaying responsibilities behind her. This realisation happens while Sarah McLachlan is playing. Was it not sad enough?! Were you not content with all the tears already, Whedon?! You just had to twist the knife in that one final time, didn’t you?! If anyone needs me, I’ll be rocking in the corner.
Quote Of The Episode
I’ve decided that I can’t choose between these three quotes...
Angelus: “I will drink, the blood will wash in me, over me, and I will be cleansed. I will be worthy to free Acathla. Bear witness, as I ascend... as I become. Everything that I am, everything that I have done, has led me here. I have strayed, I have been lost. But Acathla redeems me. With this act, we will be free.”
Whistler: “Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really, but it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. You'll see what I mean.”
(It’s interesting to note that what Buffy does afterwards is walk away from her entire life.)
Spike: “What, your mum doesn't know?”
Joyce: “Know what?”
Buffy: “That I'm, uh... in a band. A rock band with Spike here.”
Spike: “Right. She plays the...the triangle.”
Spike: “Drums, yeah. Hell on the old skins, you know.”
Joyce: “Hmm. And what do you do?”
Spike: “Well, I sing.”
FINAL SCORE: 9.5/10 (part one) & 10/10 (part two)
So what are your thoughts on "Becoming"? Did you enjoy this episode? Dislike it? Let me know all your thoughts in the comments section below!
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If you've enjoyed this review, please use the conveniently placed buttons just below to share it on Blogger, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, or email it to a friend! It is greatly appreciated.