Buffy 2×22: Becoming Pt. 2

[Review by Mike Marinaro]

[Writer: Joss Whedon | Director: Joss Whedon | Aired: 05/19/1998]

ANGELUS: No weapons… no friends… no hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?

BUFFY: Me.

“Becoming Pt. 2” has just about everything a person could want in an episode of television. It’s got stakes; it’s got drama; it’s got depth; it’s got heart; it’s hilarious; it’s got massive character growth. The few flaws at work here — Whistler being an overly obvious exposition machine and the slightly over-the-top plot — are minor footnotes in the presence of everything the episode gets right. Beyond just being wonderfully balanced, this ends up being one of the most pivotal events in Buffy’s youth — one that has lasting effects on her friendships and relationships for years to come.

Where “Becoming Pt. 1” was mostly focused on Angel’s backstory, “Becoming Pt. 2” — right from the start — shifts our focus back to Buffy, with the entire episode barely ever cutting away from her point of view. Unlike Angel, who’s story of ‘becoming’ has mostly already happened, we’re witnessing Buffy’s story unfolding right now. In fact, this is what “Becoming Pt. 2” is all about. Branching off its namesake, “Becoming Pt. 2” examines the foundation of Buffy’s struggles with loneliness and isolation, bringing things full circle from “When She Was Bad” [2×01]. It also looks at Buffy’s relationships with Joyce, Spike, Angelus, and — in a subtle setup to Season 3 — authority.

“In the end, you’re always by yourself, you’re all you’ve got. That’s the point.” – Whistler

“Becoming Pt. 2” is built to confirm this statement from Whistler. I mean, Buffy is kicked out of her house, kicked out of school, and emotionally kicked out of town! Angelus even taunts her about having everything stripped away. So, is this is final say on the subject? Can you really only rely on or trust yourself in life? From a literal standpoint, I suppose this is probably true, but it presupposes a life of — you guessed it — isolation and loneliness, which is precisely what Buffy will increasingly struggle with over the next several seasons. It is possible though, in practice, to develop relationships that can be counted on.

In adolescence it’s perhaps more important to develop a solid understanding and appreciation of yourself than investing too much in others. After all, how can you share yourself with people, whether in relationships or in the community, if you don’t even know who you are? Any attempt at a deep connection under those circumstances will be superficial at best. That’s precisely the trap Buffy fell into when allowing her idea of who Angel was to consume all of her thoughts, feelings, and aspirations in life. It’s also what led to tragedy and consequences, and is a lesson that Buffy has spent the latter half of Season 2 coming to terms with. This is where having great friendships is extremely valuable.

“Passion” [2×17] explored the dangers of letting other people get really close to you, particularly in love, and how it can leave you vulnerable and deeply hurt. The way to minimize that risk, yet still open your heart, is to know yourself very well and be discerning about who to offer trust to — something that should always be gradually earned over time. The rewards for sharing who you are with someone can be quite fruitful as well, which makes it worth how arduous and painful the journey there can be. That journey is precisely the one Buffy begins in “Becoming Pt. 2”, and she will never so completely lose herself in another person ever again.

The problem with having gone through this trauma is that its scars, combined with a mediocre upbringing, sadly — but not surprisingly — leave Buffy with a hardened heart going forward. This will be felt in her attempts at connection in the coming seasons: namely Scott in Season 3 and Riley in Seasons 4 & 5. In some ways, this might be considered a good thing: consider how it will distance her from others and force more self-reflection. I feel this is ultimately harmful though — humans are social creatures and are not built for endless isolation. No, I think what we need to strive for is not to be hardened, but rather to be guarded. We should always try to keep an open heart, but also protect it like it’s the most precious thing in the world. Being cautious doesn’t mean we have to shut ourselves down. It just means that access to our hearts must be earned.

The trauma of putting everything she was into Angel only to have it ripped away and shoved in her face, not to mention having to unbearably send that object of deep affection to hell, will leave Buffy with an uphill internal battle in the seasons to come. It’s too bad Buffy didn’t heed the warnings, signs, and lessons that were offered in the first half of the season, because there were plenty of them, kicked off by “Some Assembly Required” [2×02]. Avoiding the mistakes other people have already made seems to be taboo in the adolescent world. Adolescents need to realize that being a bit rebellious and being smart (personality-wise) are not mutually exclusive concepts! To be smart in this way is rebellious at that age.

So why are kids making mistakes so often then, some of whom are even quite academically intelligent? Well, for one, it’s a cop-out to argue that it’s just ‘kids being kids’. Not all kids let their obsessions reach dangerous levels. I think that Buffy consistently, yet subtly, points to one of the biggest underlying culprits: broken families and/or bad parenting. Let’s take a moment to consider the family dynamics of the three core kids in Buffy: Buffy, Willow, and Xander.

I’ve already gone into the problems I have with Joyce as a parent, and I’ll have even more to say on her in a bit, but in summary she’s a selfish parent (with Buffy’s dad somehow being much worse) that places her own desires above the needs of her daughter — e.g. the flashback in “Becoming Pt. 1” [2×21] where we see Buffy’s parents use her as a catalyst for sniping at each other. Willow’s parents are eventually shown to have very little understanding of their daughter, and almost no affection is ever shown to them by Willow after high school. Here in “Becoming Pt. 2”? Well, they’re not even around when Willow gets injured. As for Xander? Well, we haven’t heard much about his family at this point in the series, but we’ll get a much clearer picture of the troubled dynamics over there in Season 3 and Season 4.

In all three cases, the Scoobies’ parents are either absent (Buffy and sometimes Willow), abusive (Xander), or clueless (all of them). The cop from “Ted” [2×11], in nice bit of continuity, actually asks a great question to Joyce: “And you have no idea where your daughter is?” I couldn’t have said it better myself! Joyce’s later explosion in the house, while understandable at a distance and excellently acted by Kristine Sutherland and Sarah Michelle Gellar, is unacceptable when considering the history between these two. Buffy does “need help,”… from her mother, but Joyce is far too clueless for that and even seems open the idea that her daughter could be guilty of murder! I mean, really!

Buffy, all exasperated, asks her mom, “How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing, and you still haven’t figured it out!?” Nope, Buffy, she really hasn’t. The ultimatum given to her is ridiculous, and I think even Joyce recognizes it after Buffy walks out. This is typical of Joyce though, only caring about what’s going on after the crisis has already happened, if not repressing it entirely. Also, when you have such a weak connection with your child that you have to threaten kicking them out of the house to communicate with them, that generally reflects far worse on the parent than the child. It’s never a good sign when the child is acting more selfless than the parent is, but this is sadly often the case when comparing these two.

“You got one more thing” left to lose, Whistler tells Buffy. Yep: Angelus can finish the job by killing a defeated Buffy. Thankfully Buffy is stronger than that! She must take that piece of her identity lost to Angel back from him, and that she does. This is why her response to Angelus’ “no friends… no hope” taunt is nothing short of spectacular, as is their entire sword fight. When everything else gets stripped away, you’ve got to be able to have a foundation of strength and self-awareness to lean on or you will wither away — just like Angel did in the New York flashback (“Becoming Pt. 1” [2×21]).

In what is now considered classic Whedon form, Buffy gets Angel back right before she has to send him to hell. This is not only tragic, but it proves to be a wonderful bookend for a season about the dangers of adolescent love. By working through the consequences of falling into this trap, Buffy can now get back on the path to adulthood, but not without a whole lot of pain. Aren’t those finals scenes, from the end of the fight to the bus ride out of town, quite the emotional wallop? Sarah Michelle Gellar’s reaction shots after impaling Angel into hell, repeating what Darla said to him — “Close your eyes” — before turning him into a vampire, just slay me; my eyes get watery every time I watch this moment. This is a painful experience for Buffy, no doubt, but a necessary one considering the choices she made and the warnings she ignored. Now it’s time to figure out how to move on.

SPIKE: I want to stop Angel. (Grins) I want to save the world.

BUFFY: Okay. You do remember that you’re a vampire, right?

Buffy and Spike have some intriguing interactions in “Becoming Pt. 2”, which again highlight just how similar they can be and how different they are than most slayers and vampires. All of these scenes — the cop outside, on the front porch, and inside the house — sparkle with fun, insight, and tension. “Hello, cutie,” Spike says to Buffy. “We’re going to have to play this a bit differently,” he adds. I really think that, sometimes, Spike actually does forget he is a vampire!

Seeing the new dynamic they form here will have major ramifications for both of these characters in the future. Consider how quickly Spike is willing to follow Buffy’s orders to get what he desires — for now, that being Drusilla. I mean, all Buffy has to do is clear her throat for Spike to recognize that he can’t kill that cop. This little truce between them is what Drusilla will later say drove Spike away from her! As I mentioned in the “School Hard” [2×03] review, these two are counterparts on their respective sides (good/evil), at least until a soul enters the picture. When that happens — Season 7 — they will have even more to offer each other and will finally be fighting on the same side, for the same reasons.

This shared future is furthered hinted at in the scene where Joyce confronts Buffy on the front porch. When pushed by Joyce to explain what she’s doing with Spike, Buffy offers up this hilarious answer: “I’m, uh… in a band! A rock band with Spike here.” Beyond simply being funny, there’s some insight to be gained in this exchange. Notice how Spike initially tries to say that Buffy plays the triangle until she abruptly overrides him? No, according to Buffy, she’s no triangle player: she plays the drums! And Spike — of course — sings. So, let’s get this straight: Spike sings to the beat of Buffy’s drums? Yep! This is a brilliant bit of writing. Throw in how completely synchronized they are in dusting a vampire that pops out at them and one might think something’s being foreshadowing here… 😉

It’s worth taking a moment to consider why Spike seems to show a complete reversal from his feelings in “Innocence” [2×14], where he went along with Drusilla’s idea to end the world via the Judge — this initially seems like an inconsistency. The way I see it, when the Judge was brought forth Spike had been recently injured and was wheelchair bound. That’s a recipe for a bored, depressed, and drunk Spike, so why wouldn’t he want to generate some excitement while incapacitated? His brilliant “it’s all right here” speech here in “Becoming Pt. 2” backs up that notion. I get the impression that if Buffy had not destroyed the Judge, Spike would have found a way to have shut him down after he got back on his feet. In light of this, the apparent change of heart works for me — it’s all tied to Spike’s desire to live and be an active presence in the world around him.

“Willow. Uh, she told me to tell you. … Kick his ###.” – Xander lying to Buffy

This one line by Xander has caused quite a bit of controversy for people. Most of it boils down to Xander’s intentions. I have to say, based on what we know of Xander up to this point, that his motivation for lying is predominantly, albeit perhaps not exclusively, steeped in jealousy and the desire to see Angel gone for good. The argument that he withheld information from Buffy to remove any incentive for her to stall Angelus is certainly interesting, but even if true would be both dangerous and insulting to Buffy as a leader — with Giles currently captured — of their little group.

This interpretation would mean that Xander doesn’t trust Buffy to place her duty to the world above her desire to get Angel back. A leader has to be informed of all the variables to formulate a winning plan, and Xander robbed her of that ability. No matter the motive, it was the wrong thing to do. It also shows how little Xander respects and understands Buffy’s role as the Slayer and the sacrifices she has and is willing to make to save the world.

Xander’s opinion of Buffy will come up again in a big way come Season 3 (“Revelations” [3×07]), and this lie will eventually return to kill his argument during a vital debate over Anya in “Selfless” [7×05]. Regardless, Xander’s actions in “Becoming” (the argument and the lie) prove that he’s got a whole lot of maturing left to do — he can leave one frustrated at times (in a good way). Buffy, mistakes and all, looks saintly in comparison right now.

“Tell the Mayor I have good news.” – Principal Snyder

A smaller aspect of “Becoming Pt. 2” that I really appreciated was the subtle setup for the themes and character arcs of Season 3. This is something Season 2 has been quietly laying the groundwork for all season, what with all of Snyder’s suspicious comments and finding out that he knows about the Hellmouth. Here in the finale, though, it’s implied that the Mayor wanted Buffy removed from Sunnydale High School.

Beyond the Mayor tidbits, one of the major themes of Season 3 begins to emerge here as well: Buffy’s relationship with authority. We see this right from the thrilling opening scene, with Snyder jumping on the chance to place blame onto Buffy — something he tried to do often in Season 2. Buffy then resists arrest, attacks a police officer, flees a crime scene, and then spends the rest of the episode evading the law. Snyder and the police aren’t the only authority figure Buffy comes to blows with in “Becoming Pt. 2” either: Joyce also tries to place blame onto Buffy and throws out a successful threat to kick her out of the house. All of these incidents will have increased resonance once we start digging into Season 3.

“Blood. Of course. The blood on my hands must be my own. I am the key that will open up the door. My blood; my life.” – Angelus

A more subtler theme running through all of “Becoming” is the relationship between blood and life. Angelus, and later Whistler, refer to Angelus’ blood as “the key” to opening Acathla, which just so happens to be a portal to a hell dimension. How can they stop the portal once it’s open? Well, that person’s blood must, metaphysically, be stopped — i.e. they have to die, or in Angelus’ case (already dead and all), he has to be sent to hell. Season 5, anyone? Dawn? “Blood is life … ‘Course it’s her blood,” says Spike in “The Gift” [5×22]. Whedon’s consistent use of this language and its underlying thematic meaning ties different parts of this show together in ways both creative and haunting. Incredible!

“Now Leaving Sunnydale. Please come back soon.” – Sunnydale Exit Sign

Well, I for one hope she doesn’t come back too soon, but that’s a discussion for another season (“Anne” [3×01]). As Buffy heads out of Sunnydale wondering what life will throw at her next, we as viewers must come to terms with the end of Season 2. This has been such a fabulous season of television, with highs that reached the stars and lows that kept things respectable. Best of all, the characters all came a long way having experienced their first taste of romantic relationships and the consequences that can quickly develop from them.

I could run through nearly every episode of Season 2 and make a case for its value to the season, starting with “When She Was Bad” [2×01] hauntingly setting the stage for Buffy’s seasonal arc and ending with “Becoming Pt. 2” providing excellent closure to all the themes and character arcs set into motion by earlier episodes in what is certainly the perfect end to an impressive season. This is a season that will forever leave a mark on both the characters and the viewers — well, this viewer, at least. Season 2 is one of the best seasons of television I’ve ever seen, effortlessly blending multiple genres into a haunting, intimate, and emotionally powerful tapestry of stories.

I bid farewell to Season 2 with a Buffy who has definitely ‘become’ the Slayer, but is making an active choice to suppress it and sink into grief. As Cordelia unknowingly suggests of Buffy, “I ran. I think I made it through three counties before I realized nobody was chasing me.” The role of the Slayer is in no way considered just a job to Buffy anymore, but is now at the core of who she is. To move forward she will have to begin the healing process and rise up again, stronger than ever. Until then, all that’s left is to hear the music.

“The winter here’s cold, and bitter / It’s chilled us to the bone / We haven’t seen the sun for weeks / Too long too far from home / I feel just like I’m sinking / And I claw for solid ground / I’m pulled down by the undertow / I never thought I could feel so low / Oh darkness I feel like letting go / If all of the strength and all of the courage / Come and lift me from this place / I know I can love you much better than this / Full of grace / Full of grace / My love.” – “Full of Grace”, by Sarah McLachlan


Minor Pros/Cons (+/-)

+ Yay again for Christophe Beck, who always finds creative ways to weave the Buffy/Angel theme song into the tapestry of the episode.
+ Xander forgetting to call Oz re Willow is a bit meta in the sense of Oz having basically disappeared for a bunch of episodes before the finale.
+ Giles being tortured by Angelus isn’t exactly a ‘positive’, per se, but these scenes are quite effective in ramping up tension for the final showdown with Buffy.
+ Buffy defensively eyeing Spike while walking towards her house.
+ Spike and Joyce sitting in the living room, sharing silence together for an uncomfortably large amount of time. Absolutely priceless!
+ Joyce’s “you need help” reaction to the revelation that Buffy’s the Slayer. This continues to add more support for the mental institution backstory we learn about in “Normal Again” [6×17]. As Buffy responds, “I’m not crazy.”
+ Willow’s ‘resolve face’ is adorable.
+ Drusilla making Giles see Jenny is brutal! The Giles/Jenny musical cue being slipped right back into the story makes it even harder. Poor Giles! 😥
+ Drusilla getting lost “in the moment” kissing Giles. Haha.
+ The magic channeling through Willow, just as Giles warned, is a creepy moment. Willow’s got a lot more power in there than it seems.

– Whistler functions well in flashbacks, but I think his presence in the actual events of the episode is an unnecessary distraction. His presence feels a bit awkward and superfluous.
– The speed in which Willow recovers makes the coma scenes in the hospital a bit less effective in retrospect. Xander’s ambiguous “I love you” waking her up comes across as particularly melodramatic.
– The stunt doubles for Buffy and Angel during the sword fight become a bit obvious in brief spurts, but this is honestly only something I noticed after a lot of repeat viewings. It could have been done a bit better, but it’s not a big deal either way.
– Spike choking Drusilla to unconsciousness. I’m sure there’s a way to fanwank it, but on the surface it doesn’t make much sense.


Foreshadowing

* Principal Snyder implying that the Mayor would think Buffy’s expulsion was “good news.” Yay for Season 3 hints!


[Score]

EXCEPTIONAL

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207 thoughts on “Buffy 2×22: Becoming Pt. 2”

  1. [Note: Amy posted this comment on July 29, 2006.]

    WOW, I totally agree with you on this episode!!! I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this site… its amazing wat you can find on the net. The topic I discuss with my friends is the horrible ending to chosen, the last ever episode, not only did Spike die! but there was no heroic buffyness… Personally the end of season two was ‘the’ best ending to a season. Becoming Pt.2 has to be my favorite television episode, I loved it so much I wanted everyone I knew to see it… But discovered sadly it does not have the same effect if you havent watch the entire Angel-Buffy relationship. I would love to here from a fellow fan of buffy! I love discussing charcaters, funny quotes and my favorite episodes.

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  2. [Note: robgnow posted this comment on April 14, 2007.]

    The only thing I would add is under Quotes:

    J: “Well, it stops now!”

    B: “No, it doesn’t stop! It never stops! Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you know how scary it is, how dangerous? I would much rather be up in my room watching TV or talking about boys, or… God! Even studying! But I have to save the world…again!”

    I just love the waver that SMG gives Buffy’s voice in this dramatic scene.

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  3. [Note: Melanie posted this comment on June 25, 2007.]

    I completely agree…Best. Episode. Ever.

    I am SO glad to hear someone have the same view of Xander as I do. The handful of Buffy friends I have love him…I’m with you that what he adds to the show is great, but Xander’s decisions are selfish and make him wanna slap him upside the head.

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  4. [Note: buffyholic posted this comment on July 25, 2007.]

    I totally agree with the score. This episode is my number one, along with The Gift. From start to finish, we get to see amazing scenes, dialogue and comedy mixed drama. The scene you talked about, Joyce and Spike gets me laughing everytime. But for me,the scenes that affect me the most are Buffy and Joyce talk, where Joyce talks about kicking ker out really moves and of course when Buffy leaves town. Perfect episode.

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  5. [Note: Austin posted this comment on September 20, 2007.]

    What doesn’t make sense to me is that if Joyce had been told at one point that Buffy was the slayer, why didn’t she react more along the lines of “Not that again” Admitedly, I guess they hadn’t thought that far ahead and it really would have sounded weird, I Just think that it is a little continuity issue.

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  6. [Note: Nix posted this comment on December 13, 2007.]

    Austin, in _Normal Again_ all that’s said is that she was institutionalized after she started talking about seeing vampires. I don’t think Joyce has necessarily been told about the Slayer before (and if she was told in Sunnydale she was just as likely to forget it at once unless it had pretty much hit her over the head: Sunnydale Syndrome again. In this episode it *does* hit her over the head and she doesn’t forget it.)

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  7. [Note: Woohoo1729 posted this comment on December 13, 2007.]

    I’m almost completely positive that at this point in the series, the writers did not imagine Buffy to have been institutionalized upon her initial exposure to vampires. There’s a helluva lot of little continuity issues like this all over the series because in the span of 6 1/2 years, I’d imagine that it’s virtually impossible for the writers to keep track of everything that’s happened to every character. Especially if they insert a historical point later in the series that they hadn’t originally anticipated. Sometimes it’s just not done so well.

    Other examples of continuity issues would be if they further develop characters that hadn’t originally planned on–like Darla and Spike. If you watch Darla in BtVS Season 1 it’s quite clear that she was meant to be a very different character than how she turns out in AtS. And Spike says in his first episode that Angel was his sire, which of course isn’t what later turns out to be true.

    I’d say that it’s best to just accept these things as they come.

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  8. [Note: nina posted this comment on February 15, 2008.]

    I think this is deffintly the best episode of the whole series! its amazing! with angel getting his soul back, willow saying oz when xander was there, buffy having to stab angel to save the world, joice and spike talking 🙂 and giles being rescued best episode by far, best moment? deffintly when spike came and asked buffy to let him go and his like “let me just get rid of this one” and yes 🙂 halarious. and shes like “you do know your a bad guy right?” yes 🙂 best. but your an excellent reviewer 🙂

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  9. [Note: Rachel posted this comment on February 22, 2008.]

    This is one of my favorite episodes ever too, only being beaten by OMWTF and Chosen. It was also the only episode that made me cry pretty hard. I wholeheartedly agree with every single point you made, except for the Xander thing. The only character I really, truly, hated was Riley. By the way, you’re a wonderful reviewer! 🙂

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  10. [Note: wilpy1 posted this comment on March 2, 2008.]

    While not quite the best episode (I’d personally place it around 4th, with ‘The Body’, ‘Restless’ and ‘Once More, With Feeling’ taking the lead), I think ‘Becoming Part 2’ is the epitome of what BTVS is essentially about. When you say “it has everything”, that’s very true. Not in the sense that it has everything from car chases to flying giraffes (fun visual…), but in that it includes every aspect that defines what BTVS *is*. It’s multi-genre, it’s packed with gorgeous dialogue, it has beautiful feminist and human undertones, it has questionable ethical issues, continuity, great dramatic moments balanced with hilarious comedy, and, all in all, it’s proficient storytelling.

    By the way, I’m convinced the scene between Buffy and Joyce in the kitchen is one of the best acted scenes in the entire series. SMG and KS just *nail* it. I think they feel more like a mother/daughter dynamic here than at any other point in the series. The scene’s very cleverly written as well. There’s a subtle “coming out of the closet” metaphor that’s evident in a lot of the dialogue if you take it out of context. I think that metaphor was very suited to the in-show situation. I also love how Buffy takes charge of the entire scene in terms of ordering her mother to have another drink and not fully explaining to her what’s going on, and then Joyce completely switches the roles around with her very parent-like ultimatum. It’s a wonderful scene.

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  11. [Note: Kyarorin posted this comment on March 10, 2008.]

    I actually missed the mention of Normal Again in the review, but I did see it in the comments. My take on this is that Dawn’s presence changed the course of events prior to the start of the series. Technically, by Normal Again we never saw how Buffy’s parents found out about her Slayer-ness, and it’s perfectly plausible that Dawn might’ve discovered it and then blabbed to their parents about it. Yay for the existence of a pseudo-parrallel reality. XD

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  12. [Note: Ninaa posted this comment on June 3, 2008.]

    Suzanne, i completly agree, my mother would for sure say something like that.

    This episode was amazing, incredible, flawless, like seriously, it couldn’t get better, this is deffintly my favorite episode followed closly by once more with feeling and i only have eyes for you, but yeah. They way it was mapped out.

    The torturing feeling that Buffy just killed her one true love as he got his soul back, and it raged me so much that Xander didn’t tell Buffy that Angelus may get his soul back because Willow was working on it. And then by the ending we see her catching a bus, and you have the feeling where your going to attack the TV screen because of stupid Xander, and Angel dying and yeah, i really did not like Xander that season, for me he didn’t redeme himself until season 7 when he told Dawn that she wasn’t special but extrodinary. anyway, thats my imput.

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  13. [Note: Toby posted this comment on July 29, 2008.]

    So many people out there have this as their favourite episode and I can see why – it certainly is powerful in so many ways – the emotive reaction this episode evokes in the viewer is enormous – there is not an episode out there in BtVS that is more emotionally charged than this one. This is however the reason why it is not my favourite episode – depsite the fantasy element of it, there are times during this episode where it just seems TOO real. before you jump down my throat, allow me to explain.

    From the start of the episode where Buffy is under arrest to the point where she is having the discussion with her mother in the kitchen to the ebding where she runs away form everyone, there are a lot of emotional scenes. A lot of tear jerking moments that make you forget you are watching television and captivate you to the point that you belive you are witnessing real life. In a program meant to be centered around the supernatural, this is something that disturbs me – in a good way of course. Like amidst all this vampire slaying and demon killing and world saving, you think “Whoa – that could actually happen!!” and the perfect little Utopia that you have created about the real world vanishes for an instant.

    You can take your Gentleman, your Glory, your Richard Wilkins the Third and the First and any other demon or enemy Buffy has faced – in the end they all seem timid and meaningless compared to Life itself. In fact, not one of those episodes fills me with more fear than this episdoe. The cold, harsh reality that Buffy continuously has to face in this episode is heart-qrenching and in the end, this episode makes you feel more empathy towards the characters than any other.

    At the end of the day, I suppose the reason why I chose “Passion” over this episode for my overall favourite is the end of “Passion” leaves me almost completely dead, hollow. Like nothing – what I have just witnessed is too shocking to really take it all in.

    This episode is the exact opposite – there is so much to take in, so much emotion and heartbreak and wacthing it makes me realise that the toughest demon of all is Reality. For Buffy anyway. I haven’t ever cried during any of these episodes but this episode brings me closest to tears.

    In any case, this is my second favourite episode of the series – a truly remarkable work of art and one that lives with you long after the credits roll…

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  14. [Note: Sanjuro posted this comment on November 30, 2008.]

    I watched the series for the first time earlier this year, then rewatched it out of order over the last month or so. I found that I somehow liked this episode even more than I did the first time. I still rank The Body as my favorite, but I agree with your sentiments (in this review and in the Top 25 Episodes blurb) that this represents the finest mix of what makes Buffy Buffy. I also noticed how much the Buffy/Joyce scene plays into the theory that the Slayer stands for homosexuality. The “have you ever considered not being a Slayer?” and the “I didn’t choose this!” really works on two levels. It’s so obvious in retrospect, but I love that Joss doesn’t beat you over the head with it. And the climax left me emptier than “Passion” did. Just a perfect piece of television.

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  15. [Note: Val posted this comment on December 13, 2008.]

    I feel the need to criticize right now. Yes, I did love this episode and the preceding ones but one detail is bothering me A LOT (because I’m so picky). Couldn’t they have asked a Romanian to translate those ritual phrases correctly?! It pains me to hear “Give the soul at him now” in my mother tongue (actually I think the gipsy woman said this, Willow’s just pronouncing stuff very badly, which I get). And if they wanted it to be realistic they shouldn’t even have used Romanian, but the gipsies’ own language, I think they call it Rromanes. I guess it was just easier translating stuff into Romanian.

    If anyone’s curious about what Willow says (I also found a Wikipedia page on it, but the text there is not accurate), here’s the translation of the words:

    I beg you, Lord, don’t ignore this request. Neither dead, nor of the being [I guess that being would mean living], let this orb be the vessel that will transport his soul to him. Let it be! Let it be! Now! Now!

    OK, irritable Romanian snob going away… be back soon.

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  16. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on December 21, 2008.]

    I have some problems with this episode. One, why didn’t Xander tell the police that Buffy was not responsible for the attacks inside the library? Two, what was the purpose of Angelus unleashing Acathla? To unleash chaos and hell upon the Earth? The Earth is already swimming in a hellish chaos without demons – even in Buffyverse.

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  17. [Note: Nix posted this comment on January 26, 2009.]

    Xander probably did tell the police — once he regained consciousness and they had a chance to talk to him. But by then, Buffy was gone to LA… note that when she gets back to Sunnydale, she ‘[satisfies] the not-a-murderer requirement for enrolment’, as Snyder snidely puts it.

    Angelus unleashing Acathla, well, that’s an abiding mystery, but I suspect that LibMax and/or Andrew Kern are correct: _I Only Have Eyes for You_ is the turning point, following which Angelus wanted to send the world to hell. For what reason is somewhat unclear, but I agree that it’s probably an elaborate and overstated means of committing suicide with a big display. (The only thing that doesn’t fit here is that Angelus has never been one for the big display: that’s more like Spike… yet when Spike tries to commit suicide in s4, he tries to do it in a deliberately *understated* way, falling on a stake in private. Strange.)

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  18. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on January 29, 2009.]

    This episode is definitely BTVS in its prime. For me, there were two heartwarming moments in this episode: Xander telling Willow that he loved her, and Buffy realizing that Angel was back. And immediately after both heartwarming moments comes the heartbreaker: Willow asks for Oz, and Buffy realizes she needs to kill Angel. Both of their expressions just break my heart everytime I watch it. I never let the credits roll after a show is over, but I just couldn’t find it in myself to move to turn off the TV after this episode ended…leading my to see the little Grr Argh guy say “Oh, I need a hug!” which was the only thing that brought me back to the real world and allowed me to go on living. Wonderfully written and acted.

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  19. [Note: Sam posted this comment on March 7, 2009.]

    It’s true. Becoming Part 2 is, without question, the emotional high point of the entire series. When Buffy impales Angel and Christophe Beck’s hauntingly beautiful score dissolves into Sarah MacLachlan’s “Full of Grace”, we ALL burst into tears. Then, when Buffy left town, the heartbreak was complete. We were devastated… and we couldn’t wait to find out what would happened next.

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  20. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on April 13, 2009.]

    Xander never said anything to the cops about Buffy being innocent . . . even after she ran off. She returned to the hospital to see Willow. Both she and Xander (who was conscious by then) could have told the cops at the hospital that Buffy was innocent. They would have eventually exonerate her. But the writers didn’t go that way. Why? It’s so stupid.

    And why would Angelus want to destroy the world? A grand gesture of suicide? Angelus?

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  21. [Note: Stilicho posted this comment on April 29, 2009.]

    I agree that this is probably the one episode that reaches my emotions more than anything else. I am glad you point out why Buffy had to kill Angel; still many reviewers don’t really get it and think that only his blood would have been needed, and that she killed him perhaps because for the evils Angelus committed before. But in the end, is is not the demonic action that is causing the fundamental slaying, but simply the imperative obligation of being the slayer, and the obligation to do what is needed to save the world. But the same way it is expressed how hard life and facing reality, facing choices and consequences can be. A grand design that is showing through the whole of this series, with an apogee in this episode. Great!

    Many thanks for the great work of writing these reviews. Very inspiring indeed!

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  22. [Note: Shannon posted this comment on June 3, 2009.]

    @Rosie – good point about Xander failing to tell the cops that Buffy is innocent. When she comes to the hospital in disguise, the cops are trolling the hospital and he gives her a big disguising hug because he’s worried about them seeing her too. Why wouldn’t he have taken the time to let the cops know it was, let’s say, a gang high on PCP, rather than letting Buffy walk around as a fugitive.

    I’m also bothered by the Angelus/Acathla point, and agree that Angelus attempting to commit suicide is unlikely. Wouldn’t the torture and murder of humans be a more effective revenge for being made to feel like one of them than just putting them all out of their misery?

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  23. [Note: DramaPoette posted this comment on June 10, 2009.]

    Like everyone else, I have nothing negative to really say against this episode. However, while it’s one of BTVS’s best episodes, it’s not one of my favorites. It’s not even in my top 10. I guess it’s just a matter of personal taste. I found it pretty effective the first time I saw it, but it lost some potency over time for me. I guess it’s because I never got on the Big Epic Bangel Love Train. Their relationship never really interested me, so I didn’t feel too horrible when Angel was “killed”. I only felt bad because of the way it affected Buffy. Some of the effect is also lost because I know that Angel doesn’t stay dead and Buffy eventually moves on. And I never completely bought DB’s performance in his death scene. When the portal is sucking him in to me he looks a little stiff and awkward with the way he’s just standing there with his arm stuck out. It pulls me out of the scene. However, I will say that I love the Buffy/Joyce scene. It really made an impression on me because I could so easily imagine an argument with my mother like that. When Buffy told Joyce to “have a another drink” and the Joyce threw that glass, I was like, “Whoa,” and it felt very authentic. That one comment that makes your parent snap and you know you’ve crossed a line. Of course all the Spike stuff is great too. I do see where all the love for this ep comes from, I really do and I very much enjoy it, but it just doesn’t quite do it for me. It’s ok though; I’ve got other episodes that do. 🙂

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  24. [Note: Shirin posted this comment on June 11, 2009.]

    First off: this is my absolute favourite episode of Buffy and made me love this show deeply, but some people don’t seem to have heard Angelus: Acathla would swallow the world and into hell, since vampires are demons, they wouldn’t be harmed – he wants to end the world, not his life, I think.

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  25. [Note: Selene posted this comment on July 8, 2009.]

    I actually have some issues with this episode, primamrily with the fact that Buffy actually believed that Willow sent the message for Buffy to ‘kick Angel’s ass.’ Willow is the only one who has wholeheartedly supported Buffy’s relationship with Angel and wanted to find a way to save Angel. She never blamed Buffy for not killing Angel before he killed Jenny, when others did.

    My other issue is with the ending. I realise that Buffy is devastated by what she had to do with Angel, but to not make sure her friends, her Watcher were okay? In FH&T she throws it in Faith’s face that Faith didn’t take care of her Watcher, but did Buffy? Looking at him from across the street doesn’t count. She knew that Angelus had him for hours and wanted information from him and would do pretty much anything to get that info. Did she bother to find out if he was truly okay? No. Plus she saw her best friend in a wheelchair. Did she bother to find out why? Or how long Willow would be in the chair? No. So it’s no wonder they weren’t falling all over themselves when she returned. She didn’t care enough about them when she left, why should they make a fuss when she comes back?

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  26. [Note: Jessica MC posted this comment on July 12, 2009.]

    I liked this episode.I thin Once More With Feeling should be in First, but diffidently in top 10. I feel sooooooo bad for Buffy. I love spike and Joyce’s talks.Oh,Selene, Buffy had a lot to deal with, she saw that they weren’t dead.She was kind of pressed for time ,with the end of the world and all. She had ober issues when she had to kill Angel,when he got his soul back.She was only thinking “I have to go NOW!!!”

    I think your reviews are awesome by the way. Did you ever think of being a journalist?

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  27. [Note: edward posted this comment on July 21, 2009.]

    I am a 23 yr old male. and am new to the buffy scene. having finished the first 3 seasons and am in the middle of the 4th season now. that said it took me quite a long time to get into the show. and reading how you got into it MIKEJER. It is almost exactly how i got into it. apart from one thing. at the time i started watching buffy I brought season 1 and half of season 2 in volumes.

    as i finished season 1 i felt mixed emotions. i liked the characters. the humor was whitty but it still failed to really ‘HOOK’ me so to speak. then i watched the first 10 episodes of season 2. and as you mentioned alot of those eps are verry mediocre so i gave up on the show and stopped watching. flashfoward to now 2 years later for some reason i felt the urge to give it another shot [half of that was the fact i watched almost all of season 1 of ANGEL and unlike buffy got hooked on it from ep 1 and felt compelled to see if buffy gets any better] thus i brought season 3 of buffy. and got hooked from ep 1. everything clicked. this was a feeling that i felt was missing through s1 and first half of 2. [btw i brought season 3 cause i thought that since my opinion of s2 on that point was so poor my opinion was i hadnt missed much. boy was i wrong!]

    as i reached the halfway mark on the 3rd season i was browsing on the net and stumbled onto your site. and read your article of discovering buffy. and was VERRY interested when you mentioned it was the later half of S2 that turned you into a fan. with the angelus arc. after some consideration i decided to buy the season. and i must say the angelus arc really fully turned me into a fan too! the amount of emotion and depth in the season was just astounding.

    and it was these final 2 episodes. becoming part 1 and 2. I really understood what this show was about. part 1s brilliance was the character flashbacks and just how deep buffy and angels past intertwines. angels need to overcome his obstacles and be their for buffy made him who he is today and not started his journey but pushed the play button in a matter of speaking. his life upto that point was still. absent. he had no purpose nor drive till buffy.

    and on the other side i did like the brief scenes of buffy showing how cordelia-ish she used to be. now part 2. it was a beautiful climax of everything that happend this season. and the ending was extremely moving. the acting and raw emotion between geller and boreanaz was intense. magical’innocent and impovering. tears streamed down my face when the credits rolled. and I am not ashamed to admit that’ the care and masterwork talents that was put into this episode just shows completely. and mikejer i can absolutely understand why you rated this as number 1 buffy episode, because after i finished this episode i sat their numb for minutes. looking at the screen. frozen in silence and then i thought to myself’ …i am a fan!

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  28. [Note: Kate posted this comment on September 5, 2009.]

    I was thinking that you should check out a website called ‘Buffy phenomenon’. It ranks all episodes, and Becoming, part 2 is number 4. That may seem unfair to you, but then it says something about Loyalists and Jumpers of the show. ‘Jumpers’ meaning Jump the Shark.

    For Jumpers, Becoming, Part 2 is their favourite. For Loyalists, and at the top of the general chart is OMWF.

    This episode is excellent, in every single way, but surely you love this episode only because of its emotions? Not the plot, or the dialogue, but how it makes YOU feel watching it?

    Most people enjoy episodes for emotions, but think about technicality. Is becoming, part 2, really that excellent?

    (of course it is)

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  29. [Note: Shadiva posted this comment on October 21, 2009.]

    Just saying, in the final sword fight between Buffy and Angelus, Buffy’s hair kept on changing from being held together in a ponytail to being held up in a clip. It was quite distracting. Also, you could easily tell Mike Massa from David Boreanaz.

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  30. [Note: 100% ?? More like 50% … posted this comment on April 2, 2010.]

    I disagree with the score. This episode was a big dissapointment to me.

    1) Spike wanted to destroy the world in Season 2, Episode 13: Surprise. Now he tried to prevent that.

    2) Vampires could have captured / kill all Buffy’s friend every night when she was on patrol. Nobody thought about that, no contigency plans done, no preparation against possible vampire attack. Stupid.

    3) Vampires had no idea about 2nd Slayer in the city. They just sent group to capture few defensless humans and behold, they killed vampire slayer as a side effect.

    4) They are Vampires, for heavens (hells ?) sake ! They do not beat people and leave with one captured … they should kill everyone else in the library and drink them.

    5) Police coming to the scene just as Buffy returns and all of sudden they suspect 17 years blonde girl of the massacre. Disgusting cliche, terribly weak script, is this really serial for 10 years old children ? Even they might have been bored with the one million time seen cliche of cops coming at teh wrogn time.

    6) Spike wanted Buffy to stop Angelus from destroying the world so much that he agreed to help her even if he hated her more than everyone and yet few seconds later he can see Angelus almost defeated Buffy but Spike is uninterested and leaves … he should be vampire boss, not a mental ..

    7) Buffy’s mother just have seen how Buffy killed a vampire which turned in the dust and she gets nothing better to say than threaten Buffy not to come back home ever again if she leaves ?

    8) Buffy invited (?) Spike to her house and she left him with her mother alone in the another room ?

    She is supposed to be a slayer, not the dumb ass, really.

    Yes I understand what director wanted to get and why (to show Buffy losing everything) but why he had to abuse almost every character … just inapt writing.

    But sadly everyone adores this episode which is actually very weak in my opinion. Each of my points should be more than enough for *not* giving 100%.

    By the way Xander had very strong point – Buffy really wanted her lover back and did not care about anything else .. not even about how will Angel feel about killing all the people when his soul / conscience is back.

    Why did they not try to return Drusilla soul, huh ? She was at least a good person when alive (Angelus was clearly not).

    I guess this serial is just tons of emotions and a bit of martial art. The intelligence and logic are supposed to RIP probably.

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  31. [Note: Nia posted this comment on May 16, 2010.]

    The reason that the police could think it was Buffy was because she was seen as a violent arsonist ex-psych ward patient involved in gang-related activity for years that got expelled from her last school and killed her mother’s boyfriend. I always assumed that the police arrived there when Buffy did because Angelus called them. He was distracting Buffy long enough to get Giles and stop the chance of Willow doing another restoration ritual (Dru could sense when Jenny was going to do one). He knew that Buffy (an agile Slayer) would get to the school before the police (even if he called them right before Buffy arrived to fight him).

    Spike wouldn’t have bit Joyce since Buffy would never have teamed up with him if he did. Why risk getting staked by Buffy and not being able to stop Angelus or being able to leave town with a free pass with Drusilla for the blood of a forty plus woman? (young to us but not to a vamp’s taste buds, remember that he didn’t drink that man in SH because “you’re too old to eat”)

    I don’t think that Spike really wanted to destroy the world in Surprise. The Judge was tough but I don’t think that really counted as an apocalypse. Angelus wanting to send every living being to Hell was different.

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  32. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on May 20, 2010.]

    What a wonderful, wrenching episode. Just reading the review put a little frog in my throat.

    As far as Xander’s lying to Buffy in the “kick his ass moment,”I do think it’s worth differentiating between Xander’s motivation and the effect. I agree that Xander said it (mostly) because he hates Angel. But it may very well have been the best thing for Buffy, considering that it wasn’t likely that the spell would work, and reducing Buffy’s certainty in killing Angelus could have ended disastrously. (Also, I don’t think that the only reason Xander hates Angel is because of jealousy — he even says “Angel’s our friend” in “What’s my Line.” I think Xander also hates Angel because of Angelus’s behavior — all the characters have differing amounts by which they can emotionally separate the two.)

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

    The Good:

    Buffy joking to Xander about protecting her from the cops.

    Spike trying to get Buffy to stop punching him.

    Buffy looking at Spike the entire way back to her house. Watching every move he makes.

    Spike and Joyce in the living room.

    Buffy dipping the sword at Snyder in the library.

    Xander and his immortal line. “Kick his ass.”

    Drusilla as she keeps on kissing Giles even after getting the information.

    Spike belting the crap out of Angelus and Drusilla’s sound as she jumps on Spike.

    “Well that’s everything, huh. No weapons…no friends…no hope…take all that away, and what’s left?” “Me”.

    The fantastic ending with Buffy stabbing Angelus and then leaving town while the gang wait.

    The Bad:

    When Buffy returns to the library to pick up the sword, the bookshelf that the vampire pushed onto Willow is upright and filled with books. Filming scenes out of whack.

    Drusilla never knew that Jenny and Giles had never been together sexually.

    The Ugly:

    The policewoman shooting at Buffy as she runs away, unarmed.

    Cordelia wanting Willow to speak english. She isn’t that stupid.

    Spike suffocating Drusilla and Juliet’s arm hanging onto James’ shoulder as they leave.

    Even with those faults, the two part episode and this ending make it my favourite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I give it a 95 as even without the faults, no episode can ever be perfect.

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  34. [Note: Selene posted this comment on August 14, 2010.]

    I keep noticing (not just here) that people keep saying that Buffy lost everything in this episode. Um, no she hadn’t. She still had her life, a very important thing to have; she still had her friends: Willow, Xander, Cordelia and Oz were still alive and none of them had suddenly decided not to be friends with her; she still had her Watcher: Giles was hurt, but alive and he cared a great deal for her. So she had not lost everything. Okay, her mom had told her not to come back, but did you really think for a minute that Joyce truly meant it? Please. The fact is she lost/killed Angel. That was her only real loss in this episode. I’m not downplaying that loss; I’m merely pointing out the fallacy that ‘Buffy lost everything.’ She lost her love and a certain innocence, but she had not lost everything.

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  35. [Note: Jason posted this comment on August 29, 2010.]

    @Emily: an eloquent summary of my feelings about this superior episode, the most devastatingly romantic and tragic thing I’ve seen on television.

    Like

  36. [Note: SuperVixen posted this comment on August 31, 2010.]

    Though I like this episode, I still don’t think it’s the best one ever. I can think of many others I like more, like “Fool for Love” or “conversation with dead people”, but it’s a nice episode nonetheless. I too am bothered by Angelus’ motives in bringing the world to an end. And if it was what he wanted, why being sent to hell a bad thing? I guess it could be because he went there with a soul. Still, weak.

    The one thing that really bothered me is Spike suffocating Dru until she’s unconscious. That doesn’t make sense: Vampires don’t need to breath. We see that chocking has no affect on Angel in AtS when Spanky tries it. It also bothered me later in the show, when The First is torturing Spike by sticking his head underwater. Why should Spike care about it? Why does he even struggle?

    I did notice, as one comment said, that when Spike carries the unconscious Dru out her hand is on his shoulder. While this doesn’t make sense, being limp and all, I found it to be cute and affectionate.

    I loved Spike shrug when he realizes Angelus is going to kill Buffy. Very in character.

    Finally, I love Spike carrying Dru out, putting her in the car and holding her. I can’t believe no one addressed that scene. He’s love for her is evident, and I love how he keeps his word and leaved at once. I was also impressed by it in “Lie to Me”, where I was sure Spike and the gang are just going to feed on Ford. I was very surprised to see him jump out of his grave as a vampire, just as it was agreed. To the best of my memory he kept all his words, except the part about not coming back to Sunnydale, which he broke in “Lover’s Walk”.

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  37. [Note: Ellie posted this comment on September 16, 2010.]

    I think the reasons Xander lied to Buffy were far more complex than people give him credit for. Sure, he was probably only thinking at the time that he wanted Angelus dead, but he had several valid reasons for that beyond just hate and jealousy. People often make quick decisions they can’t explain at the time, but even then they are based on an instinctive analysis of the situation.

    Here are some of the facets of the Xander-Angel/Angelus thing:

    1). Angelus is incredibly dangerous and evil

    2). He’s murdered friends and classmates and Xander’s just not one to forget about that

    3). Xander hates vampires, stemming from Jesse’s murder and turning

    4). Xander is jealous of Angel (I’m not discounting this)

    5). Xander certainly believes that Buffy is unable to treat the Angel/Angelus situation logically

    6). Even if the curse works, which was no sure thing, Angel will still be a problem because Angelus is always lurking under the surface waiting for the curse to be broken again

    So basically, lying probably didn’t seem like a selfish thing to do, and more in line with not raising Buffy’s hopes or sending her off-balance. Xander obviously didn’t think this through, but there was no time. It was probably an instant thing where “Angelus dead=Good, Telling Buffy about the curse=Bad”. There were selfish aspects, yeah, that wasn’t all it was.

    I have often found snap decisions I made without thinking were actually supported by my own collective experience of what I know about my friends and the situation. They weren’t always good, but they made sense with what I knew. Also, we are all motivated by a certain amount of selfishness, even times when you think you are being completely unselfish you might look back on later and realize you got something you wanted out of them.

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  38. [Note: DFAS Giles posted this comment on September 21, 2010.]

    In the foreshadowing section… During the police car scene, right after Spike informs Buffy that he wants to stop Angel, he then smirks and sarcastically announces, “I want to save the world.” Haha. Wait five seasons.

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  39. [Note: Juliette posted this comment on November 26, 2010.]

    One thing I don’t get about the recursing of Angel. If willow did it couldn’t she have made it so that it didn’t come with a moment of happiness clause? It would seem like a smart thing to do.

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  40. [Note: Nathan.Taurus posted this comment on November 27, 2010.]

    Juliette: I thought of that too and it seems to be one of the goofs of the series. When the gypsies cursed the soul it was their doing. When Willow returned it she didn’t have any such spell so somehow the curse was still attached to the soul for those 100-odd years as Angel.

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  41. [Note: Mel posted this comment on November 28, 2010.]

    Just finished this episode again, as I’m re-watching the entire series, and I pretty much agree with everything in your review. I’m not exactly sure if it’s my absolute favorite episode, as I don’t have my top 5 in any certain order.. but it’s up there.

    However I was also bothered by a few of the flaws already mentioned, such as Angelus’s sudden interest in sending the whole world to hell, and the filming inconsistencies such as Dru’s arm on Spike’s shoulder after she’s passed out, etc. But the biggest flaw for me was the fact that Spike just carried Dru out and left after watching Buffy almost get killed. Yes, part of the deal was for him to leave, but didn’t he also want to help kill Angel/stop him from destroying the world? The portal had already been opened, so if Angel killed Buffy, the entire world would have been sucked into hell.. so it would have made more sense if he at least stayed to help make sure that didn’t happen. Though on the flip side, the emotional impact of Buffy’s last moments with Angel would have been lost.

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  42. [Note: Joe posted this comment on January 11, 2011.]

    Nathan: remember, Willow is JUST getting into magic at this point, and is using a spell that is already in existence. This is just me speculating, but I would assume that changing a curse is much more complex and difficult than simply recasting one that is already in existence. If we were talking about season 5 or 6 Willow, sure, that could probably be done, but season 2 Willow just getting into magic? I’m not so sure.

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  43. [Note: debisib posted this comment on January 12, 2011.]

    ok just to clarify something that ppl have brought up a lot… at the end of the angel series, they are about to get into this huge brawl with, well, hell, for the most part. Well, anyway, when the comic book series begins after that, they mention that hell has come to earth. Everything is destroyed and monsters are everywhere. It is quite literally Hell on Earth.

    So in this episode when Angel is attempting to ‘destroy the world’ i dont believe it is meant in the literal sense of everyone is going to die. I think the portal sucks in everything and brings it to a seperate hell dimension. And if this hell dimension is anything like LA after Angel, then its the perfect place for a bad ass vampire.

    So, while he may be trying to end the world as we know it… he’s not commiting suicide. Rather, hes just bringing everything to a more comfortable place for himself.

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  44. [Note: Maree posted this comment on April 25, 2011.]

    Regarding Acathla, I’m not sure if anyone has already said it but I’m pretty sure Angelus mentions that everyone with a soul will be tortured in hell while your average vamps and demons without souls will not face the same treatment. It’s probably a bit like the Judge thingy. He can only harm those with humanity.

    By the way, great review and a great episode. It kills me every time. I find myself hoping things will turn out differently each time I watch it (sadly it always ends the same way).

    Like

  45. [Note: Maree posted this comment on April 26, 2011.]

    I didn’t read the comment above mine until just now. I just watched the last episode of Angel a few minutes ago and I didn’t want to spoil it for myself 😛

    That’s what I meant anyways 🙂

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  46. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on August 17, 2011.]

    Why on earth didn’t Xander tell the cops that Buffy was not responsible for the deaths in the school library? Why didn’t he? And because he didn’t, Buffy spent the remainder of the episode needlessly evading the police.

    This episode reminds me a lot of Season 2. It was very promising, but some of the writing just got in the way and prevented it from being the masterpiece it could have been.

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  47. [Note: Rosie posted this comment on November 16, 2011.]

    [“But sadly everyone adores this episode which is actually very weak in my opinion. Each of my points should be more than enough for *not* giving 100%.”]

    Not everyone adores this episode. I don’t.

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  48. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 21, 2011.]

    The showdown that we have been awaiting between Buffy and Angel since its foreshadowing in When She Was Bad is here.

    Buffy’s true notion of what being a slayer really means escalates in the final scenes, she is alone, in battle and sometimes in life. This episode foreshadows the scenes in season 7, particularly the final episodes. Buffy admits that she cuts herself off, she always has. The best moment for me in this episode is when Buffy catches the sword before it impales her. Throughout this season and the inaugural one Buffy has been learning her slayer duties and what she can do but in this episode she accepts the slayer, she becomes one with it and it saves her life. This theme of growing up and accepting has been a prominent one throughout the season and i think it has been handled well.

    The emotions are running high throughout this episode, Joyce is finally forced to see who her daughter is after she witnesses the darker side to her Buffy’s life. The fluency between them is an exceptional visual, we see the side of the mother who only wants to protect her daughter, for her to be normal with a normal life. Buffy’s speech isn’t ungrateful to Joyce’s feelings she merely wants her to understand that this life isn’t the one she choose on the contrary the calling choose her. The showdown with Joyce has been encroaching throughout this season, in School Hard Joyce is in the thick of it, the episode Ted and Bad Eggs she is once again involved in the supernatural but she has not accepted it fully admitted what she has seen or thought to herself until it is staked right in front of her.

    The cohesive attitude of the gang makes for some great character development. Willow is given a taste of magic as it grips her in a way that she didn’t expect foreshadowing her story arch throughout. Xander’s true emotions shine brightly in this episode, he accepts he has some feelings for WIllow when he realises he may loose her forever. His expression of hatred toward Angel not just Angelus is palpable. Giles is a tough cookie too! Go Giles!

    Buffy looses one more thing; Whistler foreshadowed it. Through her friends trying to help they caused Buffy to do the one think she never thought she would. Kill her beloved. She had grown to accept that she would have to kill Angelus, the demon who wore Angel’s face but she wasn’t prepared for what she ultimately had to do. Her leaving town resonated with me, she had lost everything. Her mother, her lover and the trouble she had caused her friends. The weight of that and the influx of loneliness she would have been feeling would be unbearable for her, so many divergent thoughts percolating through her mind she had no one to go to or she at least believed that.

    Spike’s presence added some much needed comedy to this deep episode, the interaction with Joyce was great! It alleviated the darker scenes. The manor in which Spike strangles Dru confounds me a little, i though vamps didn’t need to breathe? Other than that i have no quarrels with this episode.

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  49. [Note: Alex posted this comment on December 21, 2011.]

    Vampire breathing is something that’s been very inconsistent throughout BtVS and Angel. It doesn’t really bother me but it’s one of those things that, when you watch the shows enough times, you start to wonder about. First we have Angel saying he can’t give mouth-to-mouth because he doesn’t breathe, but we see plenty of vamps smoking (including Angel himself) and Harmony blowing her bubble gum. I also can’t remember who it was (maybe Harmony), but I’m sure I watched a scene recently where a vamp inhaled a cigarette and then started coughing and spluttering. Then we have Dru getting strangled here, but when Angel did something similar to Darla she just laughed at him and said ‘we don’t breathe, you idiot’ (or words to that effect). Ah well, I guess you can’t be completely consistent all the time. Nothing’s as bad as Angel having a reflection at the end of the credits in every single episode of his series, though!

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  50. [Note: Gemma posted this comment on December 21, 2011.]

    Hey Alex,

    I think i’m going to go with the notion that some vampires get use to breathing like humans, not all of them take notice or remember that they don’t need to, as there too busy blending into society 🙂

    Something to tell myself to keep the magic alive (I just thought of it haha!)

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  51. [Note: Odon posted this comment on January 29, 2012.]

    Xander telling the police that Buffy wasn’t involved wouldn’t make any difference, even if they believed him. Remember that Buffy assaulted a police officer while resisting arrest.

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  52. [Note: peter posted this comment on February 20, 2012.]

    This episode is amazing but i have 2 not very major nigglys ,

    When spike wraps his arm around drusillas neck in a attempt to render her unconious i maybe mistaken but how it can it work because since she doesnt breathe he can’t cut off oxygen to her brain thus rendering her unconcious

    Also acathla takes wayyy to long to maske the portal open from angel pulling the sword out i think it takes 10 mins for the portal to even open i know it is just conveince though.

    Overall a great episode

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  53. [Note: Guido posted this comment on February 20, 2012.]

    @peter, the martial arts way to cut oxygen to the brain is to cut blood flow with a neck/head move, not block breathing. We know that vampires have blood (who the hell knows how it gets pumped through the body, and it’s not warm), but somehow it must get to the brain, so cutting it off like that does make some sense, absent the full anatomy and physiology textbook on vampires.

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  54. [Note: Michael posted this comment on March 20, 2012.]

    Taken me a while to find these reviews but tend to agree with most things you say

    Regarding a few queries with this episode: Willow cast a spell that had been clearly cast before, I don’t think she can just add clauses to make life easier if she could do anything Buffy would be redundant.

    As for acathla taking his time to start the portal ther is no indication that this should happen in seconds (full world going to hell – that’s a big breath)

    It was clearly established that the world would be sucked into hell it did not state that anyone would die, even Buffy speculated she’d live forever taking exams.

    As for the little niggling things i.e druscilla’s breathing I admit whilst I cast some thought over such things it shuldn’t really detract from the episode and what it accomplishes emotionally. Continuity isn’t the highest priority of Joss’ storytelling is.

    This episode has been my favourite since it aired and though Once more with feeling came close it just misses having the same impact

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  55. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 20, 2012.]

    Thanks for the comment, Michael.

    But a word of caution: I’ve seen a lot of people claim that “continuity” isn’t very good on Buffy. This statement is very misleading though. Let’s be clear on what kind of continuity we’re talking about here. ‘Plot’ continuity isn’t one of the strengths of the show. This is quite true. But ‘character’ continuity really is. It’s one of the most solid shows that’s ever been made when it comes to character/thematic/emotional continuity. I just want us all to be as clear as possible when we throw around the notion that the show has poor continuity — it will just serve to scare of off a lot of people who are looking for the very things the show excels at.

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  56. [Note: Alex posted this comment on March 20, 2012.]

    Mike, I totally agree, but I think that what most people mean by ‘continuity’ is the continuity of those little minor details, which it’s someone’s job to catch, rather than consistency of characters and their behaviour across the seasons.

    I personally don’t think the plot continuity is at all bad on Buffy, though. It’s better than most shows I’ve seen, and there are some great little details carried over from season to season which really earn the show a lot of bonus points in my book. I think the real problem is that it’s a hugely popular show with a huge online fanbase of people who’ve watched the DVDs over and over again. Every niggling little detail eventually gets spotted and mulled over by dozens of fans, and it’s asking a bit too much of the writers to have everything tied down in that level of detail. Lost suffered from the same problem – they had people on forums scrutinising every episode and picking up on the tiniest of details, which isn’t really any fun for anyone.

    And to continue the now fairly pointless discussion about vampire breathing… I apologise in advance for referencing Stephanie Meyer on a Buffy site, but I quite liked her explanation. I seem to remember it being something like they don’t need to breathe to live, but they do need to breathe in order to be able to smell. If they don’t breathe in, then they don’t have a sense of smell, and therefore most of them find it uncomfortable not to breathe. Doesn’t explain the choke-hold on Drusilla, of course, but I think the martial arts experts here have got that covered.

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  57. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 20, 2012.]

    When I say “plot continuity,” Alex, I mean to include those “little minor details” into that category. Those details are generally plot-related or world-building type details. I only mean to point out that those factors are a completely different category than the character, thematic, and emotional continuity that Buffy exceeds at so well. And it’s quite important to make that distinction when communicating whether Buffy‘s continuity it good or not; a strength or not.

    As for the plot continuity, I agree with you that it’s generally not ‘bad.’ I’m really just saying that’s it’s not a strength of the show. The plots certainly have their moments, but on average I’d probably label them as, well, ‘average.’

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  58. [Note: fray-adjacent posted this comment on April 7, 2012.]

    Alex, your point on plot continuity and a large obsessive fan-base is well-taken, but there are definitely shows that handle plot better than Buffy. I am in the midst of my first run through Veronica Mars, and while on first watch I’m sure there’s things I miss, and I have noticed one or two danglers, overall the writers on that show do a far better job than Buffy writers of maintaining a coherent plot throughout the seasons and series.

    I do also agree with Mike’s distinction, which is a fundamental reason why I love Buffy far more than I will ever love Veronica Mars (great though it is). I know quite a few people who like to just put Buffy on in the background while they do chores around the house and whatnot. I think this is because the characters in the show are so full and real feeling that it’s almost like hanging out with friends. This is a direct result of the character and emotional continuity that Buffy writers did such a masterful job of, far better than they did at plot continuity.

    On another note: how many TV shows in the early Buffy days even had serialized plots? I don’t think it was particularly common. I expect now that there are probably a lot more TV writers who have developed the skills needed to write a good serialized plot, and that the bar is just generally higher in that regard now than it was in 1998.

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  59. [Note: Beth24 posted this comment on April 22, 2012.]

    First of all, thank you for this site. I discovered it the last time I went through my Buffy and Angel box sets, and now I’m going through them again I still visit this site after every episode to see what other people think, and to see if there’s anything I might have missed. You really have done a great job, so thank you!

    Anyway, I’ve just finished this episode, and felt I had to comment. I’ve seen this episode probably about twenty times, and every time I watch it it reaffirms that this is my favourite episode, and I think it’s the BEST episode of television ever made. Sometimes when I’m past this point and watching the later seasons I think some of those episodes might eclipse it (The Gift, OMWF) and maybe I was just young, impressionable and unexposed to Buffy when I first saw this and that’s why it had such an effect on me, but I always come back to this.

    Why? Put simply – I know what happens, I can quote it almost word for word, and yet every single time I watch it, without fail, I am weeping. I tell myself each time that it can’t possibly make me cry again, but as soon as that soul goes through Angel and you see Buffy’s utter shock the tears start welling up and by the end of the killing scene they are pretty much streaming down my face! Without fail I am transported back each time to a point where I feel like I have never seen the episode, to a point where it is still so raw, so emotionally charged and so heartbreaking (and so well acted) that I feel there cannot possibly be anything on television as moving as this! I’m totally invested in it, totally sucked in, and I never care any less about what happens.

    There is so much dispute about plot holes on this forum but personally I think if an episode can bring out that reaction every time it has gone above and beyond what I’d expect, and I’d rather have that than a perfect plot any day. Also, there isn’t a SINGLE episode of Buffy where I can’t pick out some kind of plot hole or something that doesn’t make sense, but you get to a point where you have to forgive them for that! Anyway in my mind, this is a perfect plot.

    Mike I also agree with you that (besides the best five minutes of television ever at the end), the whole episode is perfectly written and perfectly balanced, and just comes together seamlessly. I LOVE seeing Buffy and Spike team up (perhaps it’s because of where I know their story goes, but every time he knocks out that policeman and the camera pans up my heart does a little skip of joy!) and that scene between him and Joyce I think marks the beginning of the growing admiration and respect he has for her which he tells us about after she dies. I love the Buffy/ Joyce scene, I love the way she grabs the sword and takes back control of the fight and her life, I love it all!

    Just wow.

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  60. [Note: George posted this comment on July 2, 2012.]

    This is one of my favourite shows, but to say that no other show averts from typical ‘happy endings’ like Buffy does, is just, well, blind. Maybe in the late 90’s, but not now.

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  61. [Note: sigmuphi posted this comment on July 17, 2012.]

    One of the indications that this is a truly great episode is how it becomes a touchstone for other key moments through the rest of the series. Normally, we’d just call that “foreshadowing”. But here, I think the writers consciously hark back to elements of this episode as a way of keeping themselves on track, that the events here are the core for everything that follows. A couple of examples, I’m sure others can spot more: Xander’s “big speech” to Willow, which brings her out of her illness (even if it’s not the way he envisioned); the way that Willow’s body (and the camera angle) jerk upwards when the magicks start to flow through her; or the focus on the Sunnydale sign when Buffy is leaving (on a bus, no less).

    The one element that really doesn’t recur is the mental powers that we see from Drusilla, both with Kendra and with Giles. There’s a bit of it from Dracula, but we’re told explicitly that he’s sui generis — and apparently, so is Dru.

    On another issue, Xander’s last minute decision not to tell Buffy that Willow was going to try again to restore Angel’s soul: I think Xander probably thought he was going to pass on the message until the moment that he didn’t, and was (mostly) well-intentioned in keeping that information from Buffy — he wanted her to stay focused, to avoid the emotional turmoil of thinking “what if”, to save the world as she always does. But I also think that split-second decision might have changed everything. If Buffy were just trying to run out the clock, to keep Angelus occupied with fighting her while Willow worked the spell, that’s a lot easier than trying to *win*. She might not have taken the same risks in the fight, might have stayed on her feet long enough to keep Angelus from pulling out the sword, might have been re-united with Angel for good. But of course, that would be too much of a happy ending for the Buffyverse (or almost any universe).

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  62. [Note: alfridito017 posted this comment on September 30, 2012.]

    Just to be clear, Joss Whedon doesn’t like happy ending for couples. Is there anything in his work, where couples do have a happy ending? I would like to know. But I guess it’s what make’s life or the story interesting.

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  63. [Note: Adrian posted this comment on December 6, 2012.]

    The sword fight…Boreanaz’s stunt double looks absolutely ridiculous and couldn’t look any less like Angel himself lol

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  64. [Note: Nancy posted this comment on December 8, 2012.]

    I am a huge Buffy and Angel being together fan. I’m still waiting for their happily ever after. I watch this episode every few years and it inevitably makes me not cry, but sob. I’m always equipped with tissue when watching this episode. I absolutely love the music in this episode. When “Close Your Eyes” is played as Buffy is telling Angel to close his eyes. Then they follow up with “Full of Grace.” I think this episode is perfect. It is my favorite television episode of all time. I know Whedon isn’t a fan of happily ever afters, but I really hope someday Angel and Buffy get their happily ever after.

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  65. [Note: Louisa posted this comment on December 14, 2012.]

    Part of why Xander lied to Buffy (“Kick His Ass”) was brought on by his hurt when he tells Willow he loves her only to hear her calling for Oz. He isn’t completely over being rejected by Buffy, and now his otherwise stellar loyalty to Willow is shaken a bit, then bashed a bit more when Willow insists on curing Angel, which is the last thing Xander wants. And Willow ignores Xander’s opinion and enlists Oz and Cordelia to help her with the spell. Now he really isn’t thinking straight. So frightened guy with a rock lashes out and lies to Buffy about Willow, skipping the chance to help Buffy avoid killing Angel. Not his finest moment. But he did a good job of getting Giles out of there. Damn this show is good.

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  66. [Note: Seele posted this comment on January 30, 2013.]

    If I may offer some ideas on vampire-breathing:

    Vampires clearly need blood, even if not for oxygen, making respiration purely a voluntary response but leaving the possibility of blood-flow to the brain being more important.

    Even in humans, blood-flow is not based exclusively on our heart-beat, we also have skeletal muscle pumps to increase flow during exercise, such that our heart provides blood pressure going to the rest of the body, and all of our other muscles provide blood pressure going back.

    Granted, our muscles aren’t strong enough to provide complete circulation without heart-beat, but vampires have much stronger muscles.

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  67. [Note: Niko posted this comment on March 17, 2013.]

    Didn’t notice anyone mention it above, but the scene where Xander shows genuine love and affection for Willow, and she comes out of a coma?

    I mean, maybe that’s meant to be a coincidence timing-wise, but it sure seemed to be the oft-seen, ridiculously sappy “love bringing someone back from the brink of death”.

    While a great moment, this is absolutely freaking ridiculous.

    Especially for a Joss Whedon program, amid such a spectacular episode.

    To me, that might cost it an A+ rating. Thoughts?

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  68. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on March 17, 2013.]

    I see what you mean and the first time I watched this I was -thinking- it would be such a moment. Only then she immediately asks for Oz so it’s actually more of a bait-and-switch.

    It’s still a bit soap-opera like and might warrant a minor con if you object to that kind of thing, but I do think this is far, far too minor a detail to affect the episode’s rating in any way.

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  69. [Note: MikeJer posted this comment on March 17, 2013.]

    You beat me to a response, and then you said pretty much exactly what I was going to say. This is a long way of saying, ‘what Iguana said.’ 😀

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  70. [Note: Niko posted this comment on March 18, 2013.]

    I definitely see where you’re both coming from, and I’m sure I’m in the minority on this one. I viewed the fact that she says Oz to be part of Whedon’s style and strength, to subvert the expectation that she reciprocates Xander’s feelings. And while I love willow and don’t want her in a coma, this isn’t just cheesy; it’s also inconsistent with Faith’s coma, which is portrayed much more realistically. Which makes the impact of a main character being out in a coma that much more devastating, not forgotten by the next episode.
    For me personally, the best episodes of Buffy suck you into this world so completely that you become a part of it, and when that connection is broken, I do feel it is a significant detriment.
    In terms of character development and series-long relevance, Becoming Part 2 is right up there. No way could it not be. But to me, it doesn’t make my top 5, and I believe Passion is the best episode of the season.
    And I suppose that the coma scene wouldn’t be enough to change that for me. I suppose my major gripe is that I truly felt that that one scene is all that keeps it from being tv perfection.
    The others I have in my top 5 never seem to break the mood in this way:

    Passion
    Fool For Love
    The Body
    Once More, With Feeling
    Hush

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  71. [Note: Hubert posted this comment on August 15, 2013.]

    I know I said on the ‘Touched’ review that that was the second best episode of the series- as you rightly pointed out MikeJer (thanks for your kind words, by the way), it isn’t. I was conflating the arc of Spike’s transformation with the episode in which it reaches its resolution. Anyway, I amend my previous statement to say that this is the second best episode, after The Gift. What fascinates me is that the entire series is basically contained in this episode. Buffy’s calling, the Scoobies, Spike (saving the world!), Angel (good and bad), a key whose blood opens a mystical portal, Giles being knocked unconscious… it’s all here.

    Also, the connections with The Gift are startling now that I’ve finally noticed them. A mystical key that opens a portal sucking the world into hell… It’s like the seeds of Buffy’s death are sown here- and indeed it has been said that this is when Buffy cut herself off from her friends and from life, which (metaphorically) leads to Dawn, and the part of herself that Buffy is protecting from the world. Also, in both episodes Buffy decides to leave her life, and in both she comes back, much to her disappointment.

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  72. [Note: Sam L posted this comment on August 23, 2013.]

    It wouldn’t have mattered. The police are in the pocket of the Mayor, who is being aided by Principal Snyder, both of whom want Buffy either dead or out of the picture so that the Mayor can fulfill his Ascension. Whatever Xander may have said to defend Buffy, they would have ignored it, and by this point in the series, the Scoobies already know that. So Xander was actually smart not to talk to the police, as they might have hurt him to get to Buffy.

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  73. [Note: Nebula Nox posted this comment on November 5, 2013.]

    Boy, is there a difference between the performances of James Marsters and David Boreanz! The latter may be better looking but the former is just so much more interesting. I’m sure it’s partly because the writers gave the character of Spike a lot more depth than they gave Angel.

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  74. [Note: Iguana-on-a-stick posted this comment on November 5, 2013.]

    Or perhaps it’s the other way around: they kept the character of Angel a fairly simple one because they didn’t think Boreanaz had it in him to depict a character with any degree of subtlety.

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  75. [Note: Monica posted this comment on November 5, 2013.]

    Although I agree that James is the stronger actor, I don’t really think they refrained from making Angel complex because of David’s acting, since they did decide to give him his own series.

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  76. [Note: Kyle posted this comment on November 6, 2013.]

    Good point… And I can agree with you on that (yes, you have convinced me). However, it’s just that I’ve never been too impressed with Boreanaz’s acting, with the exception of a few instances…

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  77. [Note: FaithFanatic posted this comment on December 13, 2013.]

    This comment baffles me beyond belief. In what way is the ending to Chosen horrible?

    Sure, Spike dies. So did Jenny in Passion, Angel in Becoming Pt.2, Buffy in The Gift and Tara in Seeing Red. If anything, these are some of the best episodes in the series – 3 of them hold A+ ratings on this very site if I recall correctly. And Spike got the best send-off imaginable. Whether or not you agree with the ‘No, you don’t. But thanks for saying it’ statement, you can’t deny he got some wonderful last moments.

    Anya’s death is far more controversial, but I think it was a fitting sendoff.

    Despite the continuity errors and the transparent deus ex machina which is the Amulet (which I can forgive because I’m shallow and the special effect beams of ubervamp-destroying light are freaking beautiful) Chosen is a brilliant ending to the series. I haven’t even talked about the metaphor of the activation of the Potentials.

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  78. [Note: Spuffy4eva posted this comment on January 12, 2014.]

    OK…while I do appreciate this episode’s merits I also think that 1-Once More with Feeling is better and 2-surely the bit about Spike singing is foreshadowing OMWF? Just a thought…

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

    There is no evidence that she told her parents everything in that first year. Perhaps they only thought she was seriously disturbed.

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  80. [Note: Boscalyn posted this comment on February 18, 2014.]

    To clear up the whole “was Willow possessed?” issue– she’s speaking perfect Romanian. It’s pretty obvious that she’s being possessed by Jenny when she casts the spell.

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  81. [Note: telephoto1 posted this comment on March 10, 2014.]

    I’ve always thought that Willow was possessed by Jenny as well during the spell casting. Perhaps Jenny’s spirit/ghost getting closure/atonement for betraying the gang before moving on?

    This episode-Wow. Just…wow. The viewer knows the inevitable final showdown between Buffy and Angelus is coming, Willow does the spell successfully, and- in typical Joss fashion he delivers the ultimate punch to the gut, the best of the season (along with “Innocence”) and first of many to come (particularly in S5)…but this one hurts like pouring salt in an open wound because it’s the first totally unredeemed tragedy for Buffy herself. In S1, she gets payback on the Master- but here…there is no happy ending, no Buffy/Angel reunion, no closure…leaving Buffy (and any viewer not made from stone) with nothing but tears.

    There are hints earlier that not all will go well in the end. Mom tells Buffy “if you leave, don’t think about coming back”, and she gets expelled from school, which (certainly to her teenage mind at least) cuts her ties to both her mother Joyce and her father figure Giles (who has also lost his love Jenny, something she no doubt still feels responsible for)…removing two vitally important links from her existence right there, and foreshadowing the final part of this trifecta of pain and heartbreak. Mom’s “gone”, pseudo-Dad’s gone, But wait…Angel’s back, but only for a few precious and cruel seconds…he must die to save the world…and to be slain by her own hand puts the final hole in Buffy’s heart. What’s left? Her friends are there and she still feels for them, symbolized as she views them one final time. Looking at her battered friends and Giles she again feels responsible. Plus, they still have each other- Willow/Oz, Xander/Cordy… but in Buffy’s mind she only has herself now. She has no choice but to leave. The pain of staying is too great.

    Epic tragedy, epic heartbreak, and this is only season 2.

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  82. [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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  83. [Note: T.G. posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    Hi! 🙂

    Great review…. I absolutely love this episode, but its never been one of my favorites. I agree with everything in this review, but the whole Acathla thing always bugs me. I just get so tired of BTVS having so many end of the world plots. I guess I shouldn’t let it bug me too much. “The gift” does an apocalypse plot, and it doesn’t bother me too much.

    I really like that you noticed all the similarities with “The Gift” Nothing to add, except I found it kind of Cool that in this episode, buffy had to kill her lover to save the world, where in “The Gift” buffy had to sacrifice herself. It almost makes me think that Joss Whedon is laughing at his audience. Joss KNEW that Buffy fans would hate him.

    Anyway, You said in your “Passion” review, that passion might beat this episode. I don’t know if this is a forum-type question, but I have no Idea how to use the forum, and it feels relevant enough. Is “Becoming Part 2” still buffy at its best? I feel Buffy has done better, but hey, if anyone knows what buffy’s best episode is, It would be you.

    GREAT REVIEW!

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

    Hi!

    “Becoming Pt. 2” is no longer my favorite episode in the series — there are a few elements in it that niggle at me. It’s still in the Top 10, but it’s definitely not #1 anymore. I find myself a bit more impressed with “Passion” and even perhaps “I Only Have Eyes for You” when it comes to Season 2. Also, I think “Restless”, “The Body”, “The Gift”, and “Once More” will all likely top it for me. I still love the episode quite a bit though thanks to its snappy pace, elegant balance, and big emotional beats.

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  85. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    Vis-a-vis Spike choking Drusilla, people don’t pass out due to oxygen deprivation. A sleeper hold causes unconsciousness by cutting off the flow of blood to the brain, and vampires’ blood definitely flows.

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  86. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    Also, I still think Xander did the right thing, here. Buffy’s a hero, but she’s also a 17 year old girl who isn’t going to want to kill her boyfriend if she has a chance to save him. If you think not telling Buffy made her even a little quicker or less hesitant in that fight, then Xander probably saved her life.

    At the end of the day, Xander doesn’t give a shit about Angel. He just wants Buffy to be okay. That’s where telling her to kick Angel’s ass came from. I know that Wesley would have done the same (and I mean Angel Wesley, not S3 Wes), and I wouldn’t have been surprised by Giles doing so, either.

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

    I think Xander’s actions were probably in the right, but I doubt that was the reason he lied. He was motivated by jealousy, and I think that’s what places him in the wrong more than his actions, and that is where he splits from Wesley and Giles.

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

    I still disagree. After seeing everything Buffy learned and struggled with throughout the season, there is no way she puts a desire to have Angel back in place of doing what needed to be done. It’s not like she was able to stop Angelus from pulling that sword out anyway, and that’s without knowing Willow was doing the spell. If Xander has just been honest with her, I don’t see how the outcome is any different: Angelus still pulls out the sword because Buffy gets distracted by minions, Angel gets his soul back, and Buffy stabs him anyway. Once that sword got pulled out of Acathla, soul or not, Buffy was sending Angel to hell or die trying.

    You claim it was better for Buffy not to know Willow’s plan because she’s “a 17 year old girl who isn’t going to want to kill her boyfriend if she has a chance to save him,” yet you seem to ignore the fact that Xander is also 17 and is far, far more immature than Buffy. What makes you think his decisions have superiority or more weight over Buffy’s in this situation? If Buffy’s to be criticized here, Xander should be held to the same standard. Buffy’s the Slayer: it’s her choice to make, particularly with Giles not available for advice.

    What Xander did was clearly wrong. I don’t think it would have made any difference on the outcome either way, but it did enlighten us to some of Xander’s more unsavory personality traits.

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  89. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    It’s possible to recognize other’s weaknesses when you are at a remove from the situation, and Xander’s very good at recognize other people’s weaknesses. It’s how he manages to be so incredibly hurtful when he wants to be.

    And Xander doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Angel’s might not pull out the sword that early. For all he knows, the sword might not come out at all, Willow won’t be able to cast the spell and Buffy will get herself killed trying to buy Willow time to cast the spell.

    Xander isn’t worried that Buffy will risk the world trying to save Angel. He knows she won’t. He’s worried that there’s a possibility that she’ll risk her life more than she would otherwise, while trying to stall Angel so that she doesn’t have to kill him.

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

    If evaluated purely on the basis of technical craftsmanship (i.e. the net sum of the cinematography, writing, acting music, etc) there are a number of Buffy episodes which I think are self-apparently better than this one. “Once More With Feeling” and “The Body”, definitely; “Restless” too, and “Hush”; on a given day, perhaps “Passion”. A strong argument can (and I think should) be made that “The Gift” packs more of an emotional wallop, and that the two seamless parts of “Graduation Day” make up a tighter, better executed finale.

    None of which takes away in the slightest from the fact that “Becoming Part II” is, and always will be, the greatest moment by far in the entire run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    One can compile a list of all the outstanding character moments in this episode – Buffy and Spike, Spike and Joyce, Buffy and Joyce, Xander and Willow, Giles and Angel, Giles and Xander, Willow and Magic, Spike and Angel, Buffy and Angel, Buffy and Herself – that if elaborated upon would run for a very, very long time. But somehow, doing so feels a little redundant. This is one of those happy (in the figurative rather than literal meaning of the word) episodes that truly does add up to something more than the sum of its parts.

    One sees a lot of discussion about what it is, exactly, that makes for “great television”. Buffy was always such a quirky, flawed show – reflecting as it does the shortcomings, as well as strengths, of Joss Whedon as an auteur – that even for the dedicated fan it seems like rather a poor fit for the label. The world-building and mythos are improvised and mediocre at best, the plotting uneven, the themes not always consistent. Set all that aside for a moment though. Underneath the trademark Whedon dialogue, the virtuoso manipulation of the audience’s heartstrings, the witty parody and metaphor – there’s a rock on which the show is built: the effective evocation and penetration of the inner emotional lives of the characters, filtered through the lens of a story about superheroes who save the world from vampires. And somehow, it never quite manages to stop surprising me that this conceit works.

    Which brings us back to the episode. I could happily gush at length about pretty much everything from the moment Buffy and Angelus begin their face-off (their fencing, stunningly choreographed, is and will always be my favourite fight scene of the show) right through to the final focus on the “Now Leaving Sunnydale” sign with the Sarah McLachlan song, and the Mutant Enemy logo moaning “I need a hug!” at the end of the credits. But the part that really deserves to be zeroed in on for comment has to be the moment – sublime, devastating, and eloquent to a tee – when Buffy runs Angel through with her sword and sends him to the hell that his alter-ego so richly deserved.

    In my personal opinion, David Boreanaz in his entire career never did a finer bit of acting than the mix of emotions running visibly across Angel’s face in this moment – disorientation, relief, longing, shock, confusion, hurt, regret – they’re all there to see. But this scene is owned by Sarah Michelle Gellar. What hurts – and thrills – the most here isn’t that Buffy chooses to kill her beloved to save the world – that became an inevitability the moment that Angelus yanked the sword out of Acathla. It’s the calm strength which she radiates as she does what she has to do. There’s no hesitation, no wavering, no need to visibly steel herself for the strike. She simply does what she can to comfort her lover, and then kills him. In this one moment, Buffy Summers has truly become an adult and a hero. (And, incidentally, she’s staked her claim to being one of my top five favourite fictional characters.)

    After the moment’s over, of course, she recoils, and flees from Sunnydale (and perhaps, from her friends, who she thinks were both complicit in failing to warn her about what was coming). There’s a ton of fallout yet to be addressed, and she still has a long distance to go in her personal journey. But now she has a better understanding of where that journey’s taking her, once she’s ready to resume it. And so do we.

    Bottom line: this is always going to be my #1 Buffy episode. None of the others encapsulate quite so well the success of the show in proving that the Hero’s Journey, that Campbellian tradition of story that has been used and abused so often in the walks of genre fiction, could be adapted for the small screen with so much aplomb, and in such unexpected form. This was the episode that made me into a fan, as opposed to just an interested viewer.

    “Come back soon”, indeed.

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  91. [Note: StakeAndCheese posted this comment on March 26, 2014.]

    I’m not sure I’d say Becoming is the best Buffy episode (that honor belongs to The Gift, IMO), but I think it’s the quintessential one. Nothing before or after so perfectly encapsulates just what makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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

    I also agree with this sentiment. The episode balances every element that makes the show what it is with impressive ease. That’s why, despite my quibbles, there was simply no way I could strip it of its A+ grade. I briefly toyed with the idea of giving it a very high A, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It really deserves being among the best the show has to offer.

    As for Xander, that’s not his choice to make.

    Also, I guess I just don’t buy that he was doing anything but trying to guarantee Angel never came back. The fact he was about to tell Buffy the truth before very suddenly changing his mind implies that this was not a well thought out tactical move to help Buffy, which wouldn’t be his place to do anyway, but rather an impromptu emotional play spurred entirely by his feelings toward Angel.

    In either case, Xander showed very little respect for Buffy, her calling, and her capabilities in making that call; either way, I understand his motivation, but that doesn’t make his decision the right one.

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