Becoming, Part 2: Top 10 Buffy Episodes #3

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I just think…that when it’s all over, it just comes back in flashes, you know? It’s like a kaleidoscope of memories. It just all comes back. But Becoming Part Two? It was the first time that Buffy ripped my heart out and crushed it in front of me. I think part of me know the second I watched this show that this would happen. It’s not really anything the characters said or anything they did. It was the feeling that came along with it. And the crazy thing is, I don’t know if I’m ever gonna feel that way again with any other show. But I don’t know if I should. I knew this show was going to break my heart into a million pieces and leave me begging for more, but I just thought “How can Joss Whedon break my heart when my heart has been broken in real life already?” Maybe he knew that when he started writing and directing this. All I knew was that I was never the same after this episode. I think that the worst part of watching this episode wasn’t Buffy losing Angel. It was when Buffy lost herself.

MAJOR SPOILERS ENSUE! Don’t read if you haven’t watched Buffy at all. Also: Bangel shippers, leave while you can. I’m not gonna be nice to Angel in this post.

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Becoming Part 2 picks up where the previous one left off, with the police catching Buffy next to her friend Kendra’s dead body. The police assume, from Principal Snyder’s testimony, that Buffy killed Kendra and proceed to arrest her. Thankfully, Buffy makes her escape, but now she’s become a fugitive.

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She appears in the hospital dressed like a conspicuous hobo and finds Xander. Willow is lying in a coma after Drusilla and her minions attacked the Scoobies and killed Kendra in the previous episode. Cordelia comes in and her genuine compassion is one of the few glimpses we get to the “real Cordelia” that will appear in the Buffy spinoff Angel.

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Speaking of the brooding blockhead, the next scene shows Angelus continuing to torture Giles for information as to how to open the statue of Acathla, an apocalypse demon.

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Although the show and the spinoff Angel has gone to great lengths to establish Angel and Angelus as separate entities, I never bought that for a second. (Neither did other fans.) The “soul” in Buffy is supposed to be a moral conscience, since vampires represent the unwillingness to change and become an adult. However, in the previous episode, we see that Liam, the human that Angel was before he became a vampire, is a careless womanizing slacker. When he gets sired by Darla, the nature of the vampire emphasized Liam’s lack of empathy for his family and turned Liam into a sociopathic serial killer.

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When Angelus gets cursed by the gypsies, he spends centuries wallowing in guilt and doesn’t make a lot of effort into saving anyone until some guy named Whistler comes along and shows him the Slayer who happens to be a very attractive young blonde Buffy, a popular girl at Hemery High School, sitting on the steps sucking on a lollipop.

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And what makes Angel lose his soul again? Sleeping with Buffy when she’s a 17-year-old virgin. Over a century of having a moral conscience and it’s having sex that makes him lose his soul. If you’re starting to hear alarms in your head that blare out: LOLITA COMPLEX! LOLITA COMPLEX! CREEPY STALKER IS CREEPY! Then congratulations, you just learned one of the many reasons I don’t ship Bangel!

Back to the episode.

Over in Buffy’s house, Joyce gets informed by the cops about how Buffy is wanted for murder. Buffy goes over to Giles’s apartment only to find a stranger there instead.

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Meet Whistler, Angel’s former “wingman” so to speak. It’s never exactly established who or what Whistler is. He says he’s an agent of the “Powers that Be,” a pantheon of “higher beings” that play a larger role in Angel than they do in Buffy. Whistler asks Buffy what she’s prepared to lose and warns her that “In the end, you’re always by yourself. You’re all you got — That’s the point.” Buffy rightfully storms out, frustrated, only to run into a police officer out on the streets. The cop starts approaching Buffy, but gets knocked out by a very familiar face.

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HELLO HOTTIE!

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So I bet y’all are wondering why the heck Spike is talking to Buffy when, at this point, they’re mortal enemies. Spike wants to help Buffy take down Angel and tells her that Angel has Giles hostage as proof. When Buffy asks her why Spike wants to save the world, Spike launches into a monologue that established the kind of villain he is. Most of the time, vampires talk about destroying the world, but it’s just a lot of hot air. Angelus, however, is the kind of vampire that actually wants to destroy the world without realizing that it would come at the cost of destroying a vampire’s only food source: humans. Spike also likes the world that we live in and on top of all that, he wants Dru to stop cheating on him with Angel, to which Buffy replies:

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The whole earth may be sucked into Hell, and you want my help ’cause your girlfriend’s a big ho? Well, let me take this opportunity to *not* care.

It’s kind of funny that Buffy is unsympathetic to Dru sleeping with Angel because, Angel essentially dumped Buffy for Dru after losing his soul. You’d think that Buffy would empathize with losing your ex to someone else. But again, Buffy is still under the belief that vampires are incapable of love. Oh well. That’s stuff I’ll save for when I’m writing fanfiction.

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Buffy and Spike make their reluctant alliance. Spike looks to the unconscious cop with the intent on killing him, but Buffy stops him. Oh Spike. Buffy already has you whipped and you’re not even in love with her yet.

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In the hospital, Cordelia leaves to get coffee while Xander makes a heartfelt plea to Willow, saying that he loves her. I really hate that they never actually played around with the Xander/Willow relationship and only used it as a pseudo-romantic conflict in Season 3. Either give these two a “just friends” level of closure or actually have them hook up and break up later. It’s not that hard.

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Willow starts waking up, thinking that the “I love you” she heard came from Oz. Thankfully, Oz comes in the room. Xander leaves as Willow and Oz have an adorable moment together. I seriously loved the Willow/Oz ship in all its adorableness. But you can never make me choose whether I love Oz or Tara more with Willow. Both relationships are important to Willow’s character arc.

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While Angelus continues to torture Giles, Spike and Buffy make their way over to Buffy’s house. Joyce asks Buffy who Spike is and the two of them lie about being in a band together. As they head towards the front door, a vampire attacks. It’s just awesome to see how easily Buffy and Spike work together when taking out the vamp and I’m so glad that Buffy ends up finally letting the secret of her Slaying life out to her mother. When I first watched this episode, I seriously liked the way that Spike and Buffy fought together and wanted more. What was this feeling, so sudden and new? (From a distance you can hear the sound of Spuffy fans saying “I ship it.”)

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Inside Buffy’s house, Buffy talks to Willow and Xander on the phone while Joyce and Spike make awkward (yet hilarious) conversation in Buffy’s living room. After the phone call ends, Buffy and Spike work out their deal in the living room while Joyce is still trying to process the fact that Buffy is a Slayer.

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Spike heads back to Angelus’s mansion while Joyce and Buffy argue over Buffy being a Slayer. Joyce is having a hard time accepting it and I’ll admit, it’s really bad timing for Joyce to find out that vampires exist and that Buffy is not a delinquent but a superhero, but the role of the Slayer is a metaphor for adulthood. Some parents out there do refuse to accept the reality that their children are growing up or only want their children to grow up on their terms. It makes Buffy’s monologue about how she wishes she could just be a normal teenage girl all the more heartbreaking.

Do-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.

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 thinks that Buffy is going crazy, but Buffy assures Joyce that everything is fine and starts to leave. Then Joyce gives Buffy an ultimatum: “You walk out of this house, don’t even think about coming back!” Joyce obviously didn’t mean it. Most parents don’t actually kick their kids out of the house when their kid decides on growing up, but Buffy takes it seriously and leaves.

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It really, really sucks that Joyce lacks empathy for what Buffy is going through because I honestly feel that it’s out of Joyce’s character, or at least the way I perceive Joyce’s character. But this show goes out of its way to establish that the life of a Slayer is supposed to be a lonely one. And yeah, growing up sucks. But in spite of what the show says, we never have to deal with growing up alone. And Buffy isn’t alone.

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In the hospital, Willow decides that in spite of the fact that she got knocked out, she wants to try the ensouling curse on Angelus that she attempted in the previous episode. It’s established that the curse is powerful magic and Willow is not at 100%, but regardless Willow is resolved to do it because they could stop Angel from awakening Acathla. Oz and Cordy go to the library to get materials and Willow asks Xander to tell Buffy about what’s going on.

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Over in Angelus’s mansion, Giles does his best to keep calm even as Angelus continues to torture him. Spike comes in, keeping up the appearance that he’s still in a wheelchair from getting crushed by an organ several episodes ago, and asks Drusilla to try and get into Giles’s head.

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Buffy returns to the library to grab the sword that Kendra gave to her. Snyder comes in and expels Buffy from school. Buffy leaves with a snark and Snyder makes a call to future Big Bad Mayor Wilkins.

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Back in Angelus’s mansion, Dru uses her psychic powers to get inside Giles’s head and hypnotizes Giles into seeing her as his deceased lover, Jenny Calendar. Giles gets caught up in the enthrallment and reveals that Angel’s blood is the key to unlocking Acathla. Of course, Drusilla gets caught up in the moment as well and it’s not until she breaks character that her spell over Giles gets broken and Giles realizes that he’s been tricked.

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Buffy goes back to Giles’s apartment and asks Whistler about how to stop Angelus. Whistler tells her that Angelus’s blood doesn’t just open Acathla’s portal into hell, but also closes it. Buffy will need to kill Angel in order to either prevent Acathla from literally unleashing hell on earth or send Angel to hell and close up the portal to Acathla’s hell dimension. Buffy is resolved to do whatever it takes, thinking that she’s got nothing left to lose.

As she leaves, Whistler says:

Wrong, kid. You got one thing.

Wrong, kid. You got one more thing.

Buffy heads off to Angelus’s mansion and runs into Xander, who’s there to back her up. She tells Xander to get Giles out and get to safety. Then Xander tells Buffy about what Willow told him to say only to backtrack. When Buffy asks Xander about what Willow says, Xander lies and says:

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“Kick his ass.”

Now this scene is the first of many “base breakers.” The fandom is still divided over this scene even though it’s been almost a decade after the episode aired. Some people think that Xander lying to Buffy was justified. On the other hand, Ian AKA Passion of the Nerd points out that “Buffy trusts Xander and always expects the truth from him, especially given information that might affect her tactics in battle and Xander decides that he knows better than either of them. Nobody knew how the battle would play out and Xander’s decision actually limited Buffy’s options. Whatever his motivations for that decision, that is very simply wrong. He cannot elect himself commander.”

What do I think? All I can say about it is: NO! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! Xander should not have lied to Buffy because this lie will have major consequences into the ending of this episode and will come again into play in Season 7. And it majorly sucks that Xander was never called out on that lie at all in this series.

Moving on.

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Angeuls’s ritual with Acathla is interspersed with scenes of Willow, Cordelia and Oz preparing the ritual of the ensouling curse. Buffy makes her entrance and starts fighting Angelus. Spike gets a couple blows at Angelus as well and then proceeds to fight Drusilla. Xander rescues Giles and the two make their way out after a comically relieved exchange. Angelus gets the sword out of Acathla and Dru is enjoying the chaos that will ensue only for Spike to knock her out by smothering her.

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Angelus and Buffy have an epic swordfight as Willow continues the ensouling ritual. The swordfight leads out to a courtyard where Angelus corners Buffy. Spike has Dru over his shoulder, sees Angelus cornering Buffy, thinks Angelus is gonna kill her, and decides to leave. If I had it my way, Spike would’ve at least tried to stop Angelus for the sake of wanting to be the one to kill Buffy, but that’s something I’ll save for a fanfiction.

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Angelus points his sword close to Buffy’s neck, flashing a Bond villain smile at her. “Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons… No friends… No hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?”

Me.

Me.

She shoves the sword back at Angelus’s face, gets up on her feet, and kicks him in the chest in a moment that makes you go: “YES! KICK HIS ASS!”

 

The sword fight continues as Spike leaves Sunnydale with Dru and Willow finds herself overcome with the power of the ritual, speaking in tongues as she channels the gypsies who created the curse.

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Buffy finally corners Angelus at Acathala’s statue and just as she’s about to take a swing to kill him…

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Nope. Nope! NOPE! THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN! WHY DID ANGEL HAVE TO GET HIS SOUL BACK NOW?!

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Buffy is shocked to see Angel re-ensouled. The two of them comfort each other and Buffy hugs Angel. However, as Doctor Who has established, “Never trust a hug. It’s just a way to hide your face.” In the hug, Buffy sees Acathla’s mouth open. Angel asks Buffy what’s going on as tears are streaming down her face. She tells Angel to close his eyes and the most tear-jerking music plays as Buffy and Angel share one last kiss before Buffy skewers Angel with a sword and sends him to hell.

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As the portal to hell closes and Angel gets sucked into Acathla’s hell dimension, Buffy breaks down in tears as another tear-jerking song plays. Buffy packs up, leaves a note to her mom, and gives one last look at her friends and high school before going off on a bus out of Sunnydale.

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It is in this moment that I felt like Joss Whedon ripped my heart out of my chest and crushed it in front of me. It took a whole month for me to get the nerve to get back to Buffy and watch Season 3. Partially because November was around the corner by the time I finished Season 2 and I needed to set aside that month for National Novel Writing Month and partially because I didn’t know how much more I could handle.

There’s a certain song that comes to mind when I think of this episode and the show in general. I’m just gonna leave you with this song and let you wallow in feels again:

 

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