Buffy 2×21: Becoming Pt. 1

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 05/12/1998]

“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.” – Whistler

“Becoming Pt. 1” is an episode loaded with backstory, exposition, setup, and a few big showcase scenes, but it’s also one with a hefty amount of thematic depth. The problem with having this much backstory and plot in an episode is that it tends not to be as memorable on subsequent viewings as it is the first time you see it. Thankfully, though, “Becoming Pt. 1” doesn’t get too bogged down by this and keeps things moving at a brisk pace. This is a very good episode, but it’s a bit shy of being a great one, seeming content to leave most of ‘the awesome’ to “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22].

“Becoming” is bookended by two landmark events for Angel(us) and Buffy, the two characters the bulk of the season of has been swirling around. “Becoming Pt. 1” focuses heavily on the former, while “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] focuses heavily on the latter; the finale opens with Angel “becoming” a vampire, and it ends with Buffy going from Buffy, a vampire slayer to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer as she takes back her identity from Angelus and puts the notion that being the Slayer is just a job to her to rest — it will now be at her very core.

Here in “Becoming Pt. 1”, though, the focus is squarely on Angel(us) and what led him to this moment in his existence: soulless and trying to suck the world into hell. The episode also takes a close look at some highly relevant topics, such as those of ‘choice’ and ‘destiny’.

“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.” – Angelus

Both Angelus and Buffy are tied to Acathla. For Angelus it’s the ultimate albeit slightly over-the-top moment to wash away his twisted love for Buffy and the forgiveness that was forced on him in “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19]; it’s what will “redeem” him as a demon. Whistler will point out in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22] that this was supposed to be Angel’s big day, but “I thought he was here to stop Acathla, not to bring him forth.”

This was supposed to be Angel’s time to step out of obscurity and assert himself as a person, but rather than fostering his own growth while assisting Buffy, he increasingly lusted after her instead. Angel was not only a distraction to Buffy’s personal growth, but Buffy ended up being a distraction to Angel’s growth as well. Now, instead being the one to stop Acathla, he’s the one setting it loose! As for Buffy, by sending Angelus to hell and stopping Acathla herself, she overcomes a major obstacle on the road to growing up. This is why Buffy, Angel, and Angelus all end up being tied to Acathla in a very personal way.

Angel was clear that he never was one for ‘proper girls’ in his pre-vampire days (“Halloween” [2×06]), and the flashbacks we witness here are certainly consistent with that. Angel, or should I say Liam, was a drunken, reckless, directionless pretty boy looking only for wild abandon. “With the exception of an honest day’s work, there’s no challenge I’m not prepared to face,” he informs Darla, who is on the prowl for her next vampire playmate. Well, he certainly got what he was looking for!

While Liam may not have known all the particulars of what being a vampire would mean, it’s nonetheless precisely what he wanted: to live without conscience, constraint, or remorse. Becoming a vampire was simply a more intense version of the kind of life he was already living. Angel is so remorseful not just because he remembers doing horrible things as a soulless monster, but also because of the choices he made before becoming a vampire. “Amends” [3×10] will shed additional light on this angle.

Darla tells Liam, “Close your eyes,” which I see as representative of his lifestyle of living in the ‘now’, regardless of the consequences to himself or those around him. Naturally, Liam is more than happy to oblige that request. Buffy, of course, will soon be repeating those words in the present. Where Darla turned Angel into a hellish creature, Buffy will send Angel to hell directly — one might argue as a sort of cosmic consequence for his choices thus far. As “Passion” [2×17] taught us, it all comes back to the choices we make, the consequences that result from them, and the doors that remain available to us after everything settles down — take careful note of where Angel first spots Darla: in an archway, enticing him to step through to another life.

The flashbacks sprinkled throughout “Becoming Pt. 1” emphasize characters both before and after the ‘big moments’ in their respective existences, which is what Whistler is talking about in his voiceover. In Angel’s case, we see several of these moments: becoming a vampire, working towards become a person, and now — soulless again — trying to become the bringer of hell. We also see the creepy pre-vampire Drusilla flashback (“And my child… God is watching you…”, Angelus tells her) and the ‘creepy in a different way’ pre-slayer Buffy flashbacks in L.A.

Drusilla exclaimed, “I don’t want to be an evil thing!” The fact that Angelus turned her into one anyway is not only incredibly sad, but it highlights the other side of the coin: sometimes we don’t get very good choices in life. After all, Buffy initially thought she was “destiny-free, really.” Drusilla and Buffy prove that sometimes life throws us a curve ball, and that “No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does” (Whistler).

“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.” – Whistler

The New York flashback, with Angel and his rat hunting adventures, brings to mind “Passion” [2×17] again, particularly about how inviting people into our lives makes us vulnerable, but that it’s a whole lot better than the alternative. “Without passion, we’d be truly dead,” said Angelus. Well, he’d know, because he basically was in New York, and not just literally. “This is the stench of death you’re giving off here,” Whistler tells him. (Side note: this reminds me a lot of the early Angel/Doyle scene in the Angel pilot, “City of” .) Whistler teaches Angel that “not all demons are dedicated to the destruction of all life.”

Whistler goes on to admit that he’s “A demon… technically,” but that “I mean, I’m not a bad guy.” This brings home his entire point in both the voiceovers and the flashbacks. Whistler can’t help that he’s a demon — that was destiny — but he’s made an active choice to live in the world and try to help people despite whatever limitations he may have. This is what he’s trying to inspire Angel to do: “I mean that you can become an even more useless rodent than you already are, or you can become someone. A person. Someone to be counted.” Unfortunately, in the present, Angelus is back and rather than choosing to become more human, he’s doing the very opposite by removing any residue of love and humanity left in his system after “I Only Have Eyes for You” [2×19]. “I have strayed, but with this act, I will be free,” Angelus recites.

Whistler didn’t choose to be a demon, just as Buffy didn’t choose to be the Slayer, but they do have a choice in how they utilize their respective situations and abilities. Buffy also didn’t choose to fall in love with Angel, but she very much had a choice in how she expressed that love — whether selfishly or selflessly. Unfortunately for everyone, she chose the selfish route in “Surprise” [2×13] and has felt the consequences of that decision ever since.

“The more you live in this world, the more you see how apart from it you are.” – Whistler

I’ll get into this more during “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22], but it’s important to recognize how being ‘different’ can lead to an incredibly isolated and lonely life. As the Slayer, this is a problem that is built into the very definition of the role: “Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness.” This is the life that Buffy was given, but there’s still the question of what will be the life that Buffy chooses. This is what the next several seasons will begin to explore in more depth. “Chosen” [7×22], of course, will brilliantly flip the definition of the Slayer on its head, but Buffy still has a lot to learn before she gets there.

Early in “Becoming Pt. 1”, Buffy is repeatedly questioned about her readiness to kill Angelus. I certainly understand everyone’s skepticism considering everything that’s gone down recently. Even Buffy is overcompensating a bit when telling a vampire that she’s ready to take the fight to Angel in the opening scene. It turns out that, yeah, Buffy really is ready now, but let’s not forget how many emotional barriers she had to break through to get there. Let’s also give Season 2 some applause for having such strong thematic cohesiveness and consistent character development!

Speaking of thematic cohesiveness, there are several scenes in “Becoming Pt. 1” that emphasize the importance of blood. Listen closely when Willow offers to help Buffy with her exams: “I will get you through this semester if I have to sweat blood.” Willow immediately clarifies that she means “metaphor blood,” which ends up being a very meta observation. Blood and its inseparable connection to life is a common theme that runs through Buffy the Vampire Slayer, often coming up during big moments in big episodes. Here in “Becoming Pt. 1” this reveals itself in several key scenes: Liam getting turned into a vampire after an intimate exchange of blood, Kendra dying due to blood loss, and the ‘key’ to opening Acathla’s portal to hell being Angelus’ blood. Exploring this further reveals some incredibly strong thematic connections between “Becoming” and “The Gift” [5×22], all of which I will get into soon (“Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22]).

“You can paint this any way you want. But the way I see it is that you wanna forget all about Ms. Calendar’s murder so you can get your boyfriend back.” – Xander

If there’s one standout scene in “Becoming Pt. 1” it is easily where Jenny’s attempt to curse Angel again is revealed to everyone in the library. The explosive, raw, and genuine emotions that pour out of everyone is a great example of the kind of resonance Buffy can muster when at its best. Xander comes off the worst in this discussion — a total ###, to be frank — and is still unable to differentiate between Angel and Angelus, with a clear jealous streak behind much of his attitude. Xander may not be entirely wrong in coldly claiming that Buffy desires her “boyfriend back,” but to make the case that it’s her only reason is really stretching it. Xander knows Buffy hasn’t forgotten about Jenny, not for a second. So he’s mostly just being petty and mean here.

Buffy’s decision to curse Angelus again, after — in a nice touch — spotting the Claddagh ring in her room, is actually an excellent plan. There is no guarantee Buffy will be successful in killing Angelus, even if she attacks him with all she’s got. Having Willow working to curse him again is a sensible first attempt (and later, backup plan) that accomplishes the primary goal of stopping Angelus from bringing forth Acathla, let alone his recent murder spree. If, as an added bonus, Buffy gets Angel back, they can deal with how to judge Angel then. But Xander has thoughts that go beyond simply stopping Angelus — he wants Angel gone too. I’ll deal with Xander more in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22].

While “Becoming Pt. 1” is strong thematically, it’s a little light in terms of character work. The one exception to this is Willow’s decision to try to curse Angelus via magic. Giles, in his very fatherly wisdom, knows (remember Eyghon in “The Dark Age” [2×08]?) that this is a dangerous development for her, adding that “channeling such potent magic through yourself could open a door you won’t be able to close.” Well… something will channel through Willow in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22], and it does open a door that she won’t ever be able to close. Note the use of the word “door,” this time by Giles (“Passion” [2×17]). This is the start of Willow ‘becoming’ a witch.

For all it does well, “Becoming Pt. 1” does have its limitations. Among these, as mentioned, is the relative lack of character work, but it also struggles to avoid feeling like the setup episode that it is. Between all the Acathla exposition, the numerous backstory flashbacks that, while interesting, aren’t nearly as fun in retrospect as on initial viewings, and Angelus’ weirdly cartoony histrionics and megalomania, “Becoming Pt. 1” simply doesn’t gel quite as nicely as I would have liked. None of these flaws sink the episode, but they do knock it down a notch.

While recognizing its flaws, “Becoming Pt. 1” still gets the job done. As the first step to wrapping up this complex and emotional season, it mostly works. It is thematically on point, touching on — or recapping — topics that include destiny, choice, blood, doors, and personhood. The scene in the library offers explosive character interaction that sets the stage for where everyone will stand in the finale. Then there’s the final scene, where everyone’s hurt, Kendra’s dead, Giles is missing, and the police think Buffy’s responsible for it all. Put it all together and we’ve got a very good episode on our hands.

It’s now time to hand the baton over to Buffy, because we’re about to find out just what she’s made of.

“This is a beautiful moment we’re having. Can we please fight?” – Buffy

 


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Christophe Beck’s reliably solid score. I particularly enjoyed the variations of the Buffy/Angel theme song — the tender flute version being my favorite — sprinkled throughout the episode.
+ The curator guy asking if Giles likes to be surprised, re: Acathla. “No, not as a general rule.” Smart! Remember the last time they opened a suspicious ancient box, in — wait for it — “Surprise” [2×13]?
+ Whoa, where has Oz been lately? It’s been a while, dude.
+ Xander’s fish stick reenactment of his previous night with Buffy. I also appreciated Oz’s critique of it: “Well, I thought it was riveting. Uh, I was a little unclear about some of the themes.”
+ Xander telling Cordelia he’ll be an expert in “the language of love.” Once “Primeval” [4×21] comes around, he’ll become increasingly known as the Heart of the Scoobies, so maybe that’s not far off. 😉
+ Cordelia screaming that Xander has “fish hands.” That’s quite the claim after “Go Fish” [2×20]! Haha.
+ Willow bossing Buffy into paying attention to her homework. Awesome. Willow should have pursued teaching instead of witchcraft!
+ Drusilla being all-around terrifying when they pick up Acathla.
+ Spike being all-around hilarious in this entire finale. Angel tells Spike that he never knew his history. Where does that sounds familiar? Oh yeah, Buffy’s not so great at history either. Connection? I’ll let you decide. 😉
+ Drusilla still taking care of the dog she named Sunshine, even while Angelus tries to suck the world into hell. Haha.
+ Angel staring at Buffy in L.A. when she was, like, 15, which is pretty creepy. This makes Angelus’ stalking in “Passion” [2×17] even more disturbing, if such a thing was even possible. It also reinforces the murkier aspects of their relationship.
+ It’s nice seeing pre-Sunnydale Buffy, who is shown to be very similar to Cordelia. Poor girl is in for a rude awakening.
+ Spike literally laughing at Angelus for failing to awake Acathla.
+ Buffy taking an exam in class as a vampire walks in and commits suicide in front of her. This is a nice, succinct visual representation of the “high school is hell” concept.
+ Hey, Kendra’s back just to die! Poor Kendra. Not the best character, but she served her purpose well enough.
+ Kendra’s legacy: Mr. Pointy!
+ Angelus drawing Buffy out and then coaxing her into stopping their fight: “And she falls for it every time!” This is a clever double trap that plays on what happened in “When She Was Bad” [2×01].

– David Boreanaz’s Irish accent. Its reputation for torture is well earned. Throw Kendra’s accent into the mix and it’s a full on massacre.


Foreshadowing

* Giles’ warning to Willow about channeling magic pretty much foreshadows her entire character arc for the rest of the series.
* Angelus taunts Buffy by saying “Hello, lover” only to be given that very same welcome right before Buffy takes him down in “Becoming Pt. 2” [2×22].


[Score]

89/100

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66 thoughts on “Buffy 2×21: Becoming Pt. 1”

  1. [Note: Austin posted this comment on August 22, 2007.]

    There seems to be a time problem here, Giles says somewhere that spike, dru and angelus ravaged Europe for 100 years, however if dru was turned in 1860, that would only leave 40 years for her to work with angelus before he got his soul back.

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  2. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on October 17, 2007.]

    This episode is simply amazing, it leaves me numb and nervous, especially the last part.But the flashbacks and what we learn about the characters is amazing and I don´t care about any minor flaws this might have, I love it. The famous library scene is also very well acted and it makes yell at Xander. I´m just as confused as Buffy but Xander is just harsh. One thing I don´t like about Xander is his constant hatred of Angel. In “Revelations”, Willow tells Buffy that, when it comes to Angel, Buffy can´t think straight. That´s true but I also think that Xander can´t think straight too. His hatred for him is what makes his decisions. He says it´s because of his (Angel) actions. Maybe it is but he hates Angel more than anything and he just wants him gone. And I think this is completely in character with what we know of Xander; he sees things black and white, he accepts things at face value like Anya tells him, and he´s selfish and a little hypocrital. He is mad at Angel because of what he did in the past and present but what about Anya? She too killed humans before but no, when it comes to Xander´s business he turns a blind eye at the whole situation. Totally in character but one aspect that I don´t like about him.
    Amazing episode and amazing review, mike.

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  3. [Note: Plain Simple posted this comment on November 14, 2007.]

    Angelus’s plan seemed ridiculous to me at first too. And even Spike acknowledges this in part 2, when he says that he doesn’t want the world to be sucked into hell. Although once he has Drusilla back in his arms he doesn’t care one bit anymore about whether Angelus is going to beat Buffy in their fight or not.

    But think about it like this. The hell dimension of Acathla is able to sustain life, it’s just a very tough kind of life. Literally hell for human beings, but for someone as cruel and strond as Angelus they probably would have been a way to become a strong and powerful person in hell. Powerful enough to have his own little kingdom filled with terrified humans ripe for the feeding. Sounds like his idea of paradise.

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  4. [Note: Nix posted this comment on December 14, 2007.]

    I find myself wondering how on earth the museum curator expected to be able to carbon-date a *rock*. Did he think it had grown, or something?

    (OK, so perhaps I’m being too picky expecting scientific rigour in a TV fantasy show. 🙂 )

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  5. [Note: Wolfbrother posted this comment on January 14, 2008.]

    I didn’t know that the character of Doyle in AtS was originally going to be Whistler. Whenever I have watched Becoming(s) I have always felt that this character was meant to have a larger role in the coming seasons. Also, it should be noted that this is the first time in the series that we meet a demon who is not evil. I don’t count cursed Angel because the demon in his body is being repressed by his soul, but the demon inside is still evil. The concept that there are “good” demons casually hanging about will expand in later seasons, but till now all we have seen is that demon = bad and must be killed.

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  6. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on March 8, 2008.]

    This is just lovely TV. ‘Becoming Parts 1 and 2’ represent BTVS better than any other episode, I think. I could watch these two over and over. I agree with the grading by Mike. ‘Becoming Pt1’ only falters in the Acathla exposition and a slow pace around the middle of the episode. Other than that, it would have been perfect, like its follow-up.

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  7. [Note: Emily posted this comment on March 14, 2009.]

    Buffyholic, I totally agree with you!!! I never understood how Xander was always so forgiving of Anya, but he was never able to apply that with Angel. Also, I think Xander is the only one who is unable to understand that Angel and Angelus are two totally different beings. Angel didn’t kill Jenny- Angelus did. It’s not just Xander, though- when I talk to people who watch the show, they’re also incapable of understanding that just cuz they have the same face, it doesn’t mean they’re the same. Angel was not even aware that the demon in him killed Jenny! People don’t recall that when he gets his soul back both times, it takes him a few minutes to even remember what the demon in his body did!! It always bothers me that people don’t get this. This, to me, makes Xander a hypocrite. I started to dislike this part of him the second or third time I was watching the seasons of Buffy.

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  8. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on June 8, 2009.]

    [quote]Buffyholic, I totally agree with you!!! I never understood how Xander was always so forgiving of Anya, but he was never able to apply that with Angel.[/quote]

    Because Xander, like many human beings, was a hypocrite.

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  9. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 8, 2009.]

    Also, he was in *love* with Anya. He wasn’t in love with Angel. Love can make you accept almost *anything* of your loved one.

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  10. [Note: Lizzie posted this comment on June 29, 2010.]

    Wow. I love this episode. Your review is spot on. I never got why Angelus would want humans to be sucked into hell. He loves killing to much for that, plus, what would he feed off, anyway?

    I have to say that I love both BtVS and Ats flashbacks.

    I also think Darla is one of the most beautiful women in the Buffyverse.

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  11. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 1, 2010.]

    The Good:

    The way Spike smiles and quietly laughs because Angelus’ blood doesn’t do anything.

    The return of the Jamaican-ish Slayer, Kendra.

    “Is there a chair shortage?” “I didn’t read anything about-oh.”

    The fight between Buffy and Angelus. “This isn’t about you. This was never about you. And you fall for it every single time.”

    Xander gets his wrist broken.

    Drusilla and her fingernail of Death.

    Buffy’s slo-mo run and Whistler’s voice over.

    The Bad:

    The first vampire that Buffy stakes in L.A is clearly on the graveyard set. You can see the large wall in the background. Luckily, in the future, they went to real cemeteries more.

    Kendra died way too quickly from that lack-of-wound.

    I give it a low 90’s.

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  12. [Note: nathan.taurus posted this comment on August 1, 2010.]

    I forgot the great library scene.

    Giles: “Curing Angel seems to be Jenny’s last wish.”

    Xander: “Yeah, well Jenny’s dead.”

    Giles: “Don’t you ever-“. Xander: “Can’t you hear what I’m saying-”

    Buffy: “STOP IT! STOP IT!”

    Willow: “What do you wanna do?”

    Buffy: “I don’t know…..what happened to Angel wasn’t his fault.”

    Xander: “Yeah, but what happened to Miss Calendar is. You can paint this anyway you want, but the way I see it is you wanna forget all about Miss Calendars murder so you can get your boyfriend back.”

    Later Willow is on the phone to Buffy talking bad about Xander. I really feel Xander was right. Angelus is a killer and yet it seems Xander and Kendra are the only ones who can see Angelus as being someone evil.

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  13. [Note: Leo posted this comment on February 14, 2011.]

    “There seems to be a time problem here, Giles says somewhere that spike, dru and angelus ravaged Europe for 100 years, however if dru was turned in 1860, that would only leave 40 years for her to work with angelus before he got his soul back”

    Not really a problem. History book don´t always get it right (spike´s nickname for example). Besides, Angel stays with Darla, Spike and dru for a time, after he gets his soul back.

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  14. [Note: anon posted this comment on November 17, 2011.]

    I have 2 complaints with this episode 1- darla just drags her finger along her chest, not her nail, to cut herself open to bleed. wtf? surely they could have done that better! 2- kendra has no blood coming out of her what so ever after having her throat slit. Again, wtf? surely they could have done better!

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  15. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 20, 2011.]

    Becoming pt 1 allows to visually delve into the past of Angel, Drusillia and Buffy. The expert back story is poignant to show us how far our characters have come. Buffy, who in 1996 was fumbling around on her hands and knees has become this powerful warrior with a warm hart in 1998. Angel was dealing with his soul, his drunken shuffling around town feeding on rats until placed on the right path by Whistler. Both are leads have had turbulent lives and are in a place that is the most turbulent of all, the end of the world and both on opposite sides. Drusillia to has come along way but has deepened in mental abilities.

    Whistler’s monologue at the end of this episode sums the lives of our three characters; all plucked from their normality to make choices and choose sides. – A great piece of writing.

    This is an important episode which prepares us for the shocking showdown between Buffy and Angel.

    I do enjoy the aspect of Angel watching the slightly younger Buffy and being a slave to his passion for her, its Buffy that placed on the path of being a hero, repenting for what Angelus did.

    Its great to see how far the show has come in such a short time, compare it to Some Assembly Required and i think wow. Superb truly. This episode only goes so far as to encroach on what BtVS can do. This season has focused on growing up, establishing a maturity, This episode makes it palpable, the flashbacks are conducive to this. A great episode. Although the episode sets us for the next noting alleviates the pain and the sadness to come. I really resonate with Buffy, with them all.

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  16. [Note: Sessess posted this comment on March 13, 2012.]

    Just had a moment of Fridge Brilliance;

    “There are moments in your life that make you.” The scene in which Spike gets up from his wheelchair and paces the room before hiding the extent of his recovery from Dru is one of the most important ‘making’ moments of his life. It is here that he decides to save the world!

    I know it mostly happens in the next episode, but your comment about the characters becoming who they are today made me realise, it is Spike’s decision here to team up with Buffy against Angel that ends up completely changing the course of his future. Drusilla breaks up with him, he returns to Sunnydale, gets chipped, starts teaming up with Buffy more often, falls in love with her, goes off on the quest to have his soul returned, seeks redemption for the sins of his past and subsequently ends up saving the world in ‘Chosen’. Had he just gone along with Angel and Drusilla’s plans in this episode none of that would ever have happened.

    I don’t know how much of this the writers had planned out in advance but damn if it doesn’t tie in perfectly with the themes of this episode.

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  17. [Note: Lilly posted this comment on March 29, 2012.]

    I usually skip this episode when I re-watch Buffy- not because I think it’s no good, but because I feel uncomfortable everytime the flashback of Angel watching (falling in love with?) a 15 year old Buffy. Perhaps age isn’t an issue when you’re over 200?

    Also, SMG overacted a bit in that scene(something I can overlook, because she’s usually ace).

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  18. [Note: Helen posted this comment on April 16, 2012.]

    Xander’s reaction to Angel(us) is understandable when we consider that he never liked him, even when Angel was ensouled. These feeling were petty and born of jealousy, but he does make some good points in this episode. Angel and Angelus are not two completely different characters- as much as Angel might not want to accept it, his unsouled half is still part of him. In Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, Angelus actively tried to murder Xander, and would have succeeded had it not been for Dru’s intervention. Xander’s being honest and speaking for others when he says” You can paint this anyway you want, but the way I see it is you wanna forget all about Miss Calendars murder so you can get your boyfriend back.” As good as souled Angel can be, he makes a good point when he wonders if they would even want him when they realize the evil that he is capable of. It reminds me of what one of the Buffy writers said on the murder scene in Passion- they didn’t have Angel brutally kill Jenny with his human face because few fans would want to see that face kissing Buffy again.

    However, Xander is still speaking through his jealousy of Angel that was always present. This manifests itself in the next season when he is all too eager to go with Faith to killed souled Angel. I still can’t condemn Xander completely though, because he is still growing up. I actively disliked him throughout seasons one and two, but started to like him as he grew out of his crush with Buffy and started maturing. He does some stupid things, but when we consider the circumstances and his age, he is acting pretty reasonably.

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  19. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 23, 2012.]

    I’m with Plain SImple (#4) that Angelus thought that he would be one of the demons torturing humanity in Hell. The fact that The Judge thought Spike was more human than Angelus supports that, and remember: Angelus always seemed to enjoy the evil more than the feeding, so maybe, after 120 years of torturing thousands of people to death or worse, he was fascinated by the idea of millions of years to torture millions of people each farther than he had ever tortured anyone, without them dying on him and making it end, and that he would still be able to eat at will (with billions of humans available, he wouldn’t even need to kill any of them and ruin the fun for everybody else).

    Plus, even if he didn’t personally get to torture anybody in Hell personally, he could still enjoy the fact that he was the reason all of humanity had been damned. Psychopaths need manipulation, domination, and control the way we need food, water, and oxygen: they don’t care whether anybody lives or dies, including themselves, as long as they feel that it was their idea either way.

    So, on that note, maybe Spike really was defending the “happy-meals-with-legs” culture and society, rather than just the idea of himself not starving, so maybe even without a chip or soul he really is just violent and hungry rather than truly evil. And/or, since the Judge felt that he could burn Spike and Dru for loving each other, maybe Spike thought the demons in the Hell dimension would be torturing him and Dru for millions of years instead of letting them torture humans?

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  20. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 24, 2012.]

    Also, since I am so addicted to TV Tropes that I accidentally use “Xanatos Gambit” in casual conversation, this discussion got me thinking of all of the possibilities that might have been going through Angelus’s head:

    1) Send humanity to Hell, torture everybody (especially Buffy) alongside the other demons

    2) Try to send humanity to Hell, but make Buffy have to kill you (who look exactly like the man she loves) to save the world, knowing she’ll never get him back if you’re dead too

    3) Try to send humanity to Hell, but you get Angel’s soul back before you can do anything. Buffy and Angel live happily ever after (except for the fact that they have to either make each other miserable for their entire lives or risk bringing you back, in which case you can just rinse and repeat until you get #1, 2, or 4)

    (Plus, after Angelus pulled the sword out and opened the portal, he would’ve immediately been able to eliminate this possibility in favor of the other three and been really happy)

    4) Try to send humanity to Hell, get Angel’s soul back after the portal has been opened, and Buffy has to either kill Angel or send him through the portal to Hell (knowing that the portal would suck him in anyway) to save everybody else, and you get to watch Angel suffer forever from inside his own head while simultaneously knowing that Buffy had to murder him, not you. And that when Angel starts remembering your new memories of the last few months, he will be blaming himself for everything

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  21. [Note: Ryan ONeil posted this comment on May 30, 2012.]

    If I may change my previous comment slightly, Iguana-on-a-Stick made some points in the “Souls” discussion (http://www.criticallytouched.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1167) that have helped me get used to the idea that vampires are different versions of the same person, rather than demonic possession, so in that case, instead of Angelus thinking about Buffy killing/damning Angel, maybe Angelus thinks that he deserves to be damned/killed if they make him “weak” again and wants to open Hell before that?

    And that if he is, in his mind, “castrated” before Buffy would have to kill him, and he gets to live as Angel, he would always have a chance to be made strong again by losing the soul he thinks of as a shock-collar when he doesn’t have it*, maybe?

    Even though when he doesn’t have a soul, he knows that when he does have a soul he thinks he wants to have it. And he knows that while he has a soul he would try to keep it because he thinks he wants it, even though he really doesn’t.

    Except that when he does have a soul, he really does want it, and when he doesn’t he only thinks that he only thinks that he wants it when he already has it.

    Did that get out of hand?

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  22. [Note: JWH posted this comment on June 10, 2012.]

    In response to several comments above, Xander isn’t the only one who can’t separate Angel and Angelus. In “Revelations” (S3x07) pretty much everyone is annoyed at Buffy for not mentioning that Angel has returned, and Giles rather pointedly says “I must remind you that Angel tortured me… for hours, for pleasure. You should have told me he was alive. You didn’t. You have no respect for me or the job I perform.” It’s hard to see this being such an issue if the separation between Angel and Angelus is really complete in his mind.

    In any case, there’s no reason to think the separation is complete. Angel is obsessed with Buffy in a good way as an ensouled vampire and in an evil way as a demon. Drusilla is made insane *before* she becomes a demon, and yet this insanity carries over. Spike is the best evidence of all: he is in every way the same person with and without his soul.

    I’m not sure the series is completely consistent about what happens when one becomes a vampire. Neither am I sure it should be. I don’t have any particular objection to the idea that some personalities separate their dark and light sides more completely than others. We see that in the humans on the show, after all. There’s quite a bit of distance between good Willow and evil Willow, somewhat less between Buffy’s light and dark sides, very little between Xander and Spike’s. Xander and Spike pretty much just are who they are with few complications. They wear their flaws on their sleeves and don’t really apologize for them or try to hide them. So, if Angel and Angelus are quite separate sides of the same personality, I’m OK with that – but I think the evidence from the story is clear that they ARE two sides of the same personality.

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  23. [Note: Myself posted this comment on October 26, 2013.]

    I was a bit surprised at how easily Drusilla managed to kill Kendra. I appreciate that as Kendra had always spent her life obeying and following others, not living for herself, she would lack the strength of will to resist Dru’s hypnotic gaze – but I think it completely undermines her as a ‘dangerous’ Slayer. If just a couple of words and some hokey party tricks were enough to bring down the more submissive Slayers, then surely we’d have had some more successful apocalypses by now.

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  24. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    Drusilla is Angel’s greatest crime. She was a saint. Gifted with visions. Someone who could have made the world a better place. And Angel turned her into a monster. But Angel can’t destroy Buffy that way. She has friends. It is his rage at the fact that neither Buffy or her friends can be corrupted that leads to his calling forth an apocalypse. But there is some suggestion that Acathla was coming anyway. Perhaps by Drusilla? Recall Whistler’s words about the prophesy. This is a reminder that Angel is not so much a romantic hero as he is a tragic figure. Even in Angel, his rashness leads to Conor, and allllll of that despite Cordy’s best efforts to keep him from that fate. But he lets his passions control him..

    Think how Faith would have reacted under the same circumstances. She would have fallen completely….

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  25. [Note: Luvtennis posted this comment on February 17, 2014.]

    Also the acting of the cast is better here than ever before. They are LIVING this story. Even nearly off camera expressions are perfect. Cordelia’s reaction to Zander’s outbursts in the library scene. She knows he is both right and wrong, and she doesn’t know what to say or think.

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  26. [Note: Patrick posted this comment on March 10, 2014.]

    “Becoming” and in particular “Becoming pt I” does for Liam/Angelus/Angel what “Fool for Love” does for William/Spike and “Selfless” does for Aud/Anyanka/Anya. It’s his defining episode.

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  27. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    ADMIN NOTE: This episode review has been completely rewritten. In light of this, references to the old review have been edited out of the the above comments.

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  28. [Note: Damon posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    Great review! I remember when I first saw this episode, I pretty much had no thoughts about it, because I watched it back to back with the finale, and then later I just started associating it with it sequel. But then I rewatched the show, and I did notice that this episode was actually not all that far above Buffy’s average when viewed in its own context, and from what I’ve seen of the larger Buffy fanbase, it does seem to be a somewhat overrated episode considering that it is rarely viewed in its own context. So congratulations to writing an excellent review of an episode that is both overrated and yet somehow under-analyzed.

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  29. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    I agree that this episode is rather light when it comes to character work. However, it gives more backstory to Angel, telling us a lot more about him as you pointed out in your review. Add in the emotional gut-punch and you’ve got an episode worthy of an A- to an A in my opinion. I don’t know; I guess I don’t find as much wrong with this episode as you do, Mike…

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  30. [Note: Alex C. posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    Stunning job with the update, Mike – you well and truly owe yourself a pat on the back.

    I’ll save my more substantive thoughts for a comment on the Part II review, because we all know that that’s were the real meat is. A couple of quick thoughts though:

    1) I agree with you that the argument in the library steals the episode, but there is another scene that lingers with me more: the flashback of Angel watching as Buffy returns home after training with her first Watcher. This is the only one of the flashbacks that I think genuinely qualifies as stirling, largely because of how affecting the moment is when we see Buffy crying in her bathroom while listening to her parents fight. It’s an incredibly deft snapshot of the fraught emotions of a family that’s mid break-up: the child obviously convinced that she’s the reason why Mom and Dad’s marriage is failing, when in fact it’s obvious to the audience that Buffy is only a pretext in the argument that Hank and Joyce are having with each other.

    2) The excess of exposition and build-up that holds the episode down somewhat, is a further glaring indictment of “Go Fish” – if some of this stuff had been built up earlier, the finale would have benefitted (Seasons 3 and 5 do a much better job in this regard).

    With that being said however, the pacing here is quite superb. After the practice runs of “What’s My Line” and “Surprise”/Innocence”, Whedon shows he’s getting very good at putting together a solid two-parter.

    3) The fact that the dialogue in Angel’s first flashback creates such haunting poetry with the moment when Buffy kills him in the next episode (“Close your eyes” never fails to get a reaction out of me) is the only reason that I forgive the presence of that truly abominable accent. Barely.

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  31. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    @Damon: You make a great point about the episode being a little overrated, yet somehow under-analyzed. I’ve noticed that as well with this one.

    @Kyle: It’s 1 point away from an A-. It doesn’t sound like we differ that much.

    @Alex: Great point about Buffy’s parents. I talk a lot about the effect of Buffy’s (and all the Scoobies’) lack of good parenting in the next review. Agreed on points 2 & 3 as well.

    @alfridito: That word is in a quote that I pulled from another website. In listening closely to that part of the episode, it’s ambiguous whether Giles pronounces it like that or not. Considering I prefer saying ‘magic’, I’ll update the quote.

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  32. [Note: TheTad posted this comment on March 27, 2014.]

    Love these rewritten reviews – can’t wait to watch the episodes in tandem with them!

    However, the logic of the scoring system places this episode below Halloween, Phases and When She Was Bad. This can’t be right can it?

    I agree with the flaws you see in this episode – but surely this episode is a much better BTVS experience than Phases!?

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  33. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 27, 2014.]

    “Phases” is an underrated episode that offers a lot of great characterization, a plot that is finely tuned to its themes, minimal exposition, and is very funny. So, yes, I would put it slightly above “Becoming Pt. 1”. Nitpicking grades like this isn’t very interesting to me though.

    The point is that they’re all really good episodes! :p

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  34. [Note: TheTad posted this comment on March 27, 2014.]

    I agree – there’s no fun in nitpicking the grades but as a casual glance over this example gives me the shivers as I had never considered Becoming as a lesser episode to Phases or Halloween.

    The next time I watch them I will read all of these reviews again. I’m really looking forward to phases now!

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  35. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on April 7, 2014.]

    What I love about these re-reviews is that I not only they offer even more depth but also, they´re so visual. I mean, I read them and the whole episode flashes before my eyes. I really can´t wait to start my Buffy rewatch again!

    I love this episode and I always get nervous with that last shot of Buffy running through the corridor in slow-motion.
    Some shows and movies use the slow-motion tecnique in unnecessary ways and way too much but in here, it just feels right and gives way to a powerful scene.

    And about Xander: he´s really being an ass in here.
    About Buffy falling for the same trap: that same happens in “Dirty Girls”.

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  36. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on May 10, 2014.]

    It was completely in tone with Xander’s character to lash out the way he did, and although the way he made his point was just cold, harsh and unnecessary… It doesn’t make those statements irrelevant. Xander doesn’t only dislike Angel, he has the annoying tendency of judging people (especially in earlier seasons), and he loathes all of Buffy’s potential lovers. I swear Xander hated any man that got into Buffy’s pants… I honestly don’t remember whether he liked or disliked Riley, but I’m sure there was tension there. And he was down right hostile towards Spike, even when the guy was working with them and aiding them for the span of an entire summer! Remember his reaction to finding out that Buffy (and Anya) slept with Spike? Xander’s a hypocrite, true, it’s one of his character flaws. But it’s also because somewhere…sub-conciously Xander never truly got ‘over’ Buffy. Hell, on his WEDDING day, he was having visions related to how things never worked out with Anya and he said things that hinted that he still had feelings for Buffy. Thankfully, Xander comes to mature (although it takes quite a few seasons), and finally learns to repress his feelings for Buffy and look at it with an adult perspective. He now knows that nothing can ever happen between them, he knew it all along, somewhere in his subconscious but he always denied it. I think Season 7 was a turning point–where Xander fully got over Buffy and learned to let go of that crush that had haunted him for so long.

    I didn’t appreciate Xander’s vehement outburst in this episode, but I understand it. Would have Buffy killed Angelus if she hadn’t been in love with him? I think, she wouldn’t take the risk of sparing or bothering to save him. She’d walk,she’d kill, she’d conquer with one quick stake through the heart.
    Buffy was letting her emotions cloud her judgement all this time, so it makes sense for Xander to doubt her motives. BUT, Buffy overcame them, she did what she had to do and that’s what I freaking love about her. She matures and grows up so much in the span of just a few episodes. She did it, even though every nerve in her body told her not to, she killed her first love. Someone who she may even portray as the love of her life. Buffy will never love anyone the way she loved Angel again. It’s all just superbly done! I love this episode!

    I really like Whistler. And it’s almost haunting how much he reminds me of Doyle. It makes me want to cry. Why didn’t we ever get more Whistler?
    Also, when I think about Angel stalking Buffy and making doe-eyes at her before she even knew he existed and can’t figure out whether I find those scenes emotional or ominous. I always wondered how Buffy would react if she’d known about Angel pursuing the hell out of her when she didn’t even know about it. Just imagining him lurking about in the shadows while Buffy was going through private motions. Um, sorry but, creepy much!?

    Alsooo, YAYY SPIKE !! 😛
    He’s going to help Buffy save the world, and it’s going to change the course of his destiny forever! I wonder if the writers had planned from this moment on that they wanted to make Spike an integral part of the show and implement his love for Buffy or not, but it works out really well!
    You can just see how disinterested he is and how conflicted at the same time.
    Poor guy.

    Anyway, I would’ve given this episode an A- if I were grading, but I can see why you didn’t. You made a lot of good points and all I could do was nod my head.

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  37. [Note: Freudian Vampire posted this comment on May 10, 2014.]

    I think Whistler was originally going to take Doyle’s position on Angel, but there were casting issues or some suchlike.

    Personally, I don’t like this episode all that much. I couldn’t have cared less about Angel’s backstory, at least at this point (his character improved on his on show) and it seemed full of exposition and set-up with only one standout scene. Pt.2 is infinitely better.

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  38. [Note: Willow Tree posted this comment on May 10, 2014.]

    I couldn’t care much for this episode, either. Angel is a bore of a character. In fact, I hated all the focus on Angel in Season 2, I only started to like his character on Angel Season 1. But before then, nahh.

    Angelus is awesome, but Liam/Angel… I really couldn’t care less on them.
    Spike is so much more interesting than Angel ever was.

    But I do like some stuff this episode has to offer. Whistler’s quotes for instance. And Willow beginning to become more open and willing. From the next episode onwards, she begins her whole magic arc. Also, Buffy’s slo-mo run. Shot very nicely! I love Part 2 more than this one, their last stand off before Buffy sends Angel into hell was nerve racking and I was cheering for buffy all the way!

    (sorry if my grammar was incorrect, english is my second lang!)

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  39. [Note: ML posted this comment on June 2, 2014.]

    Xander’s behavior in Becoming was bad, and it’s true, in the first 3 seasons, but especially in the first 2, Xander judge and was mean to Buffy’s love interest. That however stopped in season 4. He liked Riley and actually tried to help that couple in season 5. And his feelings for Spike had nothing to do with Buffy, that’s why he was disappointed when he found out she was sleeping with him. It was the other way round. And to be fair, it’s natural to like Spike as a viewer, but if we were one of the characters, he wouldn’t have liked him either. At least, not when he didn’t have a soul. Let’s face it: part of the reason Buffy got involved with Spike was because she was in a self-destroying path, not because she saw good in him.

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  40. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 2, 2014.]

    I’m sorry but I’ve got to disagree with you.

    Firstly, my comment didn’t really have much to do with Spike as it did have to do with Xander. Yes, Xander did learn to repress his feelings, and he did get over the crush per say. But those feelings weren’t gone, just bottled up. He respected Riley because he himself was in a relationship with Anya and Riley is the only normal guy Buffy’s ever truly fallen for. Xander could make a compelling case for Buffy not to get involved with Angel or Spike, but he couldn’t really do so with Riley because the relationship seemed morally right. Riley was a amiable, stable guy after all who is less likely to get Buffy into trouble. Still, I can point out significant times in the series where there certainly was tension between Xander and Riley. You can tell that Xander still has Buffy on his mind in ‘Hell’s Bells’. Maybe they were romantic, maybe they weren’t anymore, but one can’t deny Buffy made a very strong, very poignant impact on Xander. I don’t think Xander’s hostile reactions towards Angel or Spike were even the least bit implausible, he cares about Buffy, and only wants what’s right for her in his own way, but you can’t deny what’s already there.
    Also, if you notice (this occurs a lot in Season 1, and a little in Season 2, as well) Xander is jealous and making snide comments about every guy he sees that Buffy’s interested in. This stops over time, but I don’t think his issue was ever truly gone in every sense of the word. At least, not until the last Season.

    Secondly, I’m a Spike fan, but I’m also a far-cry from those doe-eyed Spike fans who don’t accept any of his flaws. It’s true, Buffy did initially begin her relationship with Spike while she was on a self-destructive path. But, she didn’t sleep with him just because of that. Buffy needed something more than a warm body at the time. She needed to make a connection. Spike understood Buffy, he was the only one she could truly open up to when she was brought back from Heaven because her friends wouldn’t understand. You can tell from the very first scene they share in the start of Season 6 when Spike sees her for the first time that he can truly apprehend what she’s been through when he can tell that she’d clawed herself out of the grave. Spike does a lot of unforgivable things in the course of Season 6, but he also had no soul, and for a vampire without a soul, he’s as good as it’s gonna get. He aided the Scoobies in their ordeals all summer long for god’s sake! He got beat up into a pulp by Glory in Season 5 and Buffy truly appreciates him for this as she kisses him by the end of that episode, in a genuine, touching gesture of moral gratitude. She found comfort in Spike, and even though she was on self-destruct mode throughout Season 6, I think she came to care for him when all was said and done. Watch certain episodes of Season 6 closely, and you’ll get what I mean. And I really DO hope you weren’t considering Season 7 in your statement which alleges that Buffy did not see the good in him. She outrightly states that she does see the good in him by telling him that she believes in him in Season 7. He fights for her and gets a soul for her, after which their relationship is redefined entirely. One can sympathize with Spike’s character in Season 7 for sure. The relationship between Buffy and Spike in Season 7 was not only mature and smart, but beautiful and enlightening. As Mike often mentions in his reviews, they are counterparts.

    As far as it goes for Xander, he’s always hated vampires. I think he disliked Angel and Spike moreso because of his black-and-white view on vampires rather than being in love with Buffy, but Buffy did have a role to play in it too. She always affected his decisions. And he can be very judgement and hypocritical when he wants to be, this is not to say that Xander doesn’t come to mature and change after that.

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  41. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on June 2, 2014.]

    I don’t really recall there being much tension between Xander and Riley. I thought they were pretty cool with each other with the exception of a few cases. One being in “Goodbye Iowa” where Riley kept interrogating Buffy about hiding Spike under his nose, forgetting that professor Walsh tried to kill Buffy (Xander told him to back off). Also, in “Shadow,” when Buffy went out to stop Glory from raising that snake demon, Riley wanted to know where Buffy was and Xander asked him, rather bluntly, why (implying that he believed Riley wanted to, you know, get intimate with Buffy). Other than those two instances, I can’t find any tension between Riley and Xander.

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  42. [Note: Lydia posted this comment on June 2, 2014.]

    I never said there was ‘much’ tension between them, I meant there was some occasionally, and I clearly even mentioned why I think there wasn’t much tension there.

    “He respected Riley because he himself was in a relationship with Anya and Riley is the only normal guy Buffy’s ever truly fallen for.”

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  43. [Note: Angelus posted this comment on June 2, 2014.]

    I agree to mostly everything Lydia said, except for the Spuffy stuff since I’m not a fan. Xander has always had some hidden emotions for Buffy which he didn’t quite like admitting to himself. He didn’t outrightly hate Riley, and he has his reasons to hate Angel and Spike as mentioned, since they are vampires… But that doesn’t mean the animosity was non-existent.

    If Xander had half the chance throughout Seasons 1-5 at least, to be with Buffy, he would’ve taken it. Getting over your first love is difficult. He tried to help that couple because Buffy’s happiness means a lot to him. Riley was an Average Joe as long as Xander was aware, not a bloodsucking fiend is a plus for Riley and so he was never really on Xander’s hit list.

    p.s this is my first time commenting on this site! i’m in love with Mike’s reviews and currently on season 7 of my buffy rewatch! I’m also thinking of joining the forum.

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  44. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on June 3, 2014.]

    Xander and Riley got along very well. In fact, one of Riley’s redeeming traits as a character in season 5 is the strong connection he has with Xander. Probably because they were the two normal guys in a group of mostly not-normal girls. They have good chemistry together.

    It’s rare on this show for love-interests to actually interact much with characters other than their love-interest. Which I find somewhat disappointing, actually. Oz, for example, doesn’t really do anything other than be Willow’s love-interest. He has some stories of his own, but even there he doesn’t really interact with others. So I quite like it when Tara and Buffy connect in season 6, or when Xander and Riley do in season 5.

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  45. [Note: Nix posted this comment on June 18, 2014.]

    Random tiny annoyance: the lovely creepy Drusilla section was supposed to take place in London in the 19th century. This contains a mining-related vision… but mines? In London? What were they digging for, clay? chalk? Two thousand years of old foundations? (Not that you can get down there without disturbing something generations-lost and horrible. In the real world, they’ve recently been digging ~150m down for Crossrail, which has generated lots of newspaper headlines on things like ancient plague pits they’ve been digging through! The deep London substructure is the closest thing the real world has to a Hellmouth. Nobody mines there.)

    Also, there’s the matter of London’s relative importance at that point in time. There were lots of mining interests in London in the 19th century, but those were the HQs of major mining companies, extracting the wealth of the world at the heart of a major empire. The capitals of trading empires control extractive industries, they don’t contain them. Mining in 1860s London is about as plausible as mining in Washington DC today. Visions of mine disasters don’t fit.

    I prefer to overlook the caption on this section and assume it’s in, oh, Wales or somewhere. It’s not like Drusilla’s accent is a plausible London one anyway.

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  46. [Note: Rob W posted this comment on August 30, 2014.]

    Boreanaz’s bad Irish accent doesn’t bother me at all, and I’m one of those people that can barely watch parts of S7 because the Potentials’ accents irritate me so much.

    Thing is, Angel is a major character of the series. The main thing we want from the actor portraying Angel is that the chemistry with SMG/Buffy is not just believable, but riveting. Beyond that he’s got to be menacing as a vamp, good in action sequences, etc., and all that I think Boreanaz handles quite well. Bad Irish accent, just not terribly important — especially since he’s only called on to use it a few times in the series.

    There is an episode in S4 AtVS (Spin the Bottle) where all the characters revert to young versions of themselves. Angel does a bit of his Irish accent (or at least this is how I remember it) but drops it almost immediately and goes back to an American accent. He even questions himself as to why he’s talking so strangely. I take that as a joke that Joss is making about all this.

    I wonder if, had they the opportunity to do all this over, they might just set Angel’s pre-vamp past in colonial America instead of Ireland.

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  47. [Note: Zach posted this comment on October 12, 2014.]

    Actually there is blood pouring out when Drusilla cuts Kendra’s neck, it is clearly visible, although it is a little on the low side, but that’s because its on cable xD.

    As far as Darla with her finger, you can clearly see in the first shot she uses her nail, than when it goes to the wide angle of her chest, it is just her finger sliding across, but we can just assume she is smearing the blood from spot A where she cut initially to spot B where her finger ended….

    #FanWank

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  48. [Note: Zach posted this comment on October 21, 2014.]

    you should also put “Close your Eyes” in the foreshadowing section. “Close your eyes” is the last thing Angel hears both times he dies…

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  49. [Note: Mike Hartley posted this comment on April 5, 2015.]

    I personally have a lot of time for Xander. Yes, he is jealous, but I think the row with Buffy et al in the library is more nuanced that a right-wrong issue.

    He does have a point about the need to not instantly forgive Angel for Angelus’ crimes – and I do think consequently Whedon and the other writers knew series 2 could not end with Angel getting his soul back and returning to normal just like that…. hence him getting pushed into hell.

    As an aside… yaybe thinking a bit deep here, but the whole row seems to be a metaphor for US debates over justice – retribution and punishment vs rehabilitation and understanding.

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  50. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 5, 2015.]

    I think you’re reading too much into it, although I can see where you would so it’s a perfectly fine interpretation. The problem with that though, in my opinion, is:

    1) It’s not an uncommon theme in television especially, the fine line between understandable and reprehensible. Television is an ideal medium to explore our tolerance for understanding by increasingly creating scenarios over long periods of time that take characters into darker places. In almost every case, the goal is to challenge the audience on common perceptions of right vs. wrong and not in any way political in nature.

    2) There’s not much you can reference throughout Buffy that points to it making much of a political statement outside the obvious subversion of the common perception of female protagonists being one.

    As for Angel, he doesn’t have a soul. For me, he’s not responsible for anything he does without one. He can’t inhibit himself, it’s not mythologically possible. You are responsible for your actions if you have the capacity for control, Angelus (ie Angel souless) can’t. Yes he needs to be stopped, no matter the cost, but that to me is a necessary and unfortunate evil should ensouling him prove not an option, rather then a triumph by justice.

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  51. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on April 12, 2015.]

    Awesome re-review, you brought up some points I never considered before like the connection with blood and what we choose to do with the cards we´re dealt and while I was reading it, I immediately remembered Dawn and Ben. How Dawn chose to do good and was even willing to sacrifice herself, even after finding out she was the Key and how Ben went the other route.

    Also, you should have added in the Pros that not only Spike laughs of Angelus failing but he also starts singing “someone wasn´t worthy”. Hilarious stuff.

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  52. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 12, 2015.]

    It’s amazing how they use continuity, isn’t it? Something Spike says to Angel(us) in Season 2 of BtVS is again used, expanded upon, and paralleled much later in Season 5 of Angel, specifically in “Destiny.”

    I just noticed this review is using my trademark “Angel(us).” Mike! (just kidding)

    But in all seriousness, I use it to show there is little distinction between Angel and Angelus, the soul, or metaphor for conscience, being the only thing separating the two. Not sure why Mike decided to use it here.

    Everything aside, the highlight of this episode is definitely the library scene. We had a debate over who was correct in that scene on the forums, and needless to say there were multiple interpretations and opinions. But that’s just what makes the scene so brilliant. We have literally 4 differing points of view, four very different characters, whereto the audience can relate to at least one of their perspectives.

    But more then that, it’s the first tear in their tightly knit adolescent friendships that will steadily unravel. As it does, a new canvas is slowly erected that will tie them together on a much more adult level by the time the series concludes. Their adolescent bonds become adult ones, much less codependent and much more about each others’ needs instead of wants. The chronicle of this shift in their relationships is very subtle, masterfully handled, and is quite possibly my favorite aspect of BtVS when looking at its aims.

    The flashbacks have more of an impact for Angel(us) on his own series, so I can’t really say much about it because it’s not all that important to the series. However, it does introduce the concept of a grey area when it comes to demons that BtVS will adopt at times, but one especially Angel will.

    The mostly setup is what holds it down as well as the content that ultimately becomes a service to Angel. Then of course there’s the deliciously terrifying and sadistic Angel(us) devolving into a generic bringer of the apocalypse (but more on that in “Pt 2”). I’d probably give it a slightly lower score myself because of these reasons.

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  53. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on April 12, 2015.]

    I think the real brilliance of the library fight is that I simultaneously agree with and disagree with all four parties.

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  54. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on April 12, 2015.]

    True. I’m of that mindset as well, with me just leaning slightly more towards Giles’s perspective because I feel it’s the most rational and cumulative of them. It’s just not everyone will feel that way, so if you can’t relate to all, you probably can to at least one. But yes, it’s not just that you only have to latch onto one or the other, but that you can also feel inclined to relate to one or more aspects of each of their perspectives.

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  55. [Note: Cotten posted this comment on May 9, 2015.]

    First off I have to say I love this site. Im writing because I would like to comment on the “Buffy-hate” that graveyard scene generates (hate might be a wrong word but its the best I can come up with atm). Didnt Buffy have no choice but to meet Angel(us) in the graveyard? Because if she did not wasnt there a chance…a strong chance that Angel(us) would have gone a killing spree until she did? From what Ive seen there wasnt indication that Angel(us) was going to make an attempt on grabbing Giles. At least Buffy had Kendra stay behind to guard the others when in realtiy she should have taken her along to double her chances of defeating Angel(us). Similar to what she does in S7 with the lesser trained potentials. Thanks for letting me ramble…:P Any comments/replies are appreciated.

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  56. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on May 9, 2015.]

    First of all, welcome. 🙂

    Second, I honestly don’t remember the specifics. If Angel(us) did threaten other lives then definitely, if not then maybe. I understand she left Kendra and of course Angel(us) no matter what will kill to feed so Buffy needed to handle the situation, but it’s still indicative of her lack of understanding her mistake in “When She Was Bad.”

    However, I think it was a necessary and brilliant parallel. I don’t hate it one bit. I think its purpose was to show Buffy hasn’t grown or learned from that experience, along with several other decisions made throughout the season, which makes her actions in “Becoming: Part 2” that much more powerful. She couldn’t continue on this path of gullibility. She had to stop Angel and the apocalyptic event transpiring before her, no matter her emotions in the matter.

    Thus, I’m on the side of that scene being not only necessary, but an obvious wake up call for a Buffy that had made questionable decisions all season. It’s great character development if nothing else, which is what BtVS excels at, even if tiresome or slightly contrived from a plot standpoint.

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  57. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 6, 2015.]

    Unless I’m missing something I must admit to some confusion as to why Buffy was not found until after her activation whereas Potentials like Kendra and Faith apparently already had Watchers and junk.

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  58. [Note: Pathbeyondthedark posted this comment on December 6, 2015.]

    Because BtVS has as much mythological and plot consistency as what “parts” of the chicken went into McNuggets at that same point and time. Come on Louis, you know this. 😉

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  59. [Note: LouisLittForEmperor posted this comment on December 6, 2015.]

    My theory for why things were messed up is that in the Buffy movie it seemed to be implied (or at the least the possibility was open) that when a Slayer died a new one had to be born and grow up a bit before taking up the mantle (kind of like Avatar). But when that was changed in the show it caused things to get messed up when Buffy still had basically the same origin.

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  60. [Note: Samm posted this comment on December 6, 2015.]

    I have always thought that as there are many potentials out there that not every potential is actually known. Even in season 7 not every potential had a watcher looking after them before they all died, like Amanda.

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  61. [Note: Maureen posted this comment on March 7, 2016.]

    Great review ! I just wanted to let you know that Angel is doing the voiceover at the beginning, and Whistler does the voiceover at the end.

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