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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a drama about a young girl who inherits the powers to fight the demons that threaten the Earth. She lives in Sunnydale, California which happens to be the Hellmouth and must learn to master her powers while also trying to have some semblance of a normal life. The WB 1997 - 2001. UPN 2002-03.

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Episode 22 - Becoming (2)

22 October 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cordia's Second Look
Becoming - Part 2
Season 2, Episode 22
Original airing: 5/19/1998

My Rating: 95

The Good: This episode does exactly what I love in a season finale. It wraps up basically every season-long storyline, while introducing new facets and quirks to make me desperate to watch the next season. A few of the things contained in this incredible 45 minutes includes the restoration of Angel's soul, banishing Acathla, Spike and Buffy teaming up, Drusilla posing as Jenny to torture Giles, Willow successfully performing the curse, Xander telling Willow he loves her, Joyce learns Buffy is a vampire slayer, and Buffy stabbing Angel with a sword and sending him to hell. As I mentioned, that's just a few things.

But it's all done with such grace and style. Nothing feels rushed in the episode, even though so much is happening. All of the stories flow together naturally and end on a perfect note. Buffy choosing to leave town is incredibly unexpected, but also makes a lot of sense. Her mother has kicked her out of the house, she's been expelled, she had to kill her boyfriend and she caused injury to all of her friends. She feels her whole life is gone and it's better to just get the hell out of Sunnydale. What an intriguing end to the season.

Before all that, though, she's hunted by the police and forced to team up with Spike. Buffy and Spike together are quite the force to be reckoned with. It also allows for the amazing living room scene where Joyce is attempting to be a good host to a man she once threatened with a fire ax. Joyce's reaction to Buffy's lifestyle is also incredibly well done. From confusion to disbelief to anger, it runs a gamut of emotions is a very short time. But as with everything else, none of it feels false or rushed.

Xander shines the episode for being serious. He expresses a deeply held affection for Willow, then helps Buffy in the final fight. Before that, he selfishly refuses to tell Buffy that Willow is working on the curse again and Angel might get his soul back. This feels like a turning point for the character who has always been a bit of comic relief.

Finally, everything culminates with Buffy and Angel. In a move which might be the most brilliant and terrible TV moment in history, Angel receives his soul and then Buffy has to kill him. It's so powerful and the acting is so strong that it hasn't lost a hint of emotional power in the 14 years since its original airing.

The Bad: There are a few things to nitpick here. The first being what is up with the cops in Sunnydale? Does their deep stupidity, as described by Snyder, account for their incredible trigger happiness? The one cop shoots at Buffy and another pulls a gun on her at night. I know they probably have a warrant out, but did he really spot her in the dark from his car and come to a positive identification? It comes across as quite silly.

Spike's chocking Drusilla to unconsciousness was also very silly. It's been stated on the show before that vampires don't need to breath, they just choose to so they can speak and pretend to be human before they attack and all. So this didn't make nearly as much sense as if Spike had just cold-clocked her.

The last issue has plagued me for years. Ever since I first saw this episode, I didn't understand why Buffy had to kill Angel. If it only took a little blood on the hand to open the portal, why couldn't they do the reverse to close it? Stabbing him through the middle with a sword always seemed like overkill to me. Dramatic, heart-wrenching overkill.

Favorite Moment: This entire episode is extremely strong with little that couldn't qualify for Favorite Moment status, but the epitome of it all is Buffy killing Angel. This final straw not only breaks the camel's back, it crushes it to dust.

The Bottom Line: A phenomenal end to two seasons of development with just enough strings left hanging to make it inevitable  that a viewer will move on to season three. Fantastic.

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Comments

  • This was an amazing way to end the season. When I think back on the entire season it is crazy how good the final is. The beginning of the season had some bad episodes like Inca Mummy and Reptile boy but this episode and passions really show what this show was growing into. This episode had so many great moments but for me the two that stand out are when Joyce and Buffy argue about being the Slayer and when Buffy has to kill Angel always bring me to tears. I am loving you podcast I am about 1/3 of the way through season 3 now and I got to tell you it is making me like Buffy more and more.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Coryann, 22/10/2013 6:21pm (4 years ago)

  • I was watching Episode 1.8 of Angel the other night, and the music from when Buffy stabs Angel began to play during a similar highly emotional moment. I'm a 37 year old man, and with my wife laying in bed asleep beside me, I just began to weep. Not only was the music powerful and the moment emotional on "Angel", but as the music (Close Your Eyes) played I immediately flashed to the moment that Buffy decides she has to kill Angel and send him into the portal. Almost 15 years later, this moment can simply destroy me just by hearing the music.

    Posted by Andy, 13/08/2013 4:58am (4 years ago)

  • Im catching up to the current episodes, ,but this has been killing me. The most effective chokes are blood chokes not air chokes. Wherein, you wrap your arm around the neck to constrict the carotid arteries. This stops blood flow to the brain and renders the victim unconscious. I'm assuming that this could work on vamps too.

    Posted by Frank, 15/01/2012 8:10pm (5 years ago)

  • For me this episode encapsulates the whole Buffy experience. There's humor,drama,action and victory with a real cost. You get a real sense of how complex it is to be a slayer whether it's making deals with spike or fighting with mom to rescuing your watcher and to slaying your two hundred year old boyfriend. This episode executes this to perfection. Well love the podcast hurry back.

    Posted by David Lopez, 19/07/2011 4:37am (6 years ago)

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