Becoming (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
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|Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode|
The climax of the season finale, in which Buffy and Angel, tied by passionate love, are drawn in a sword fight.
|Episode no.||Season 2
Episode 21 & 22
|Directed by||Joss Whedon|
|Written by||Joss Whedon|
|Featured music||"Full of Grace" by Sarah McLachlan|
|Original air date||
"Becoming" is the season finale of the WB Television Network's second season of the drama television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, consisting of the twenty-first and twenty-second episodes. They are also the thirty-third and thirty-fourth episodes of the show overall. The two constituent episodes were split into two broadcasts; "Part 1" first aired on May 12, 1998 and "Part 2" first aired on May 19, 1998. The episodes were written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon.
The narrative features vampire slayer Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) working to prevent Angelus (David Boreanaz) and fellow vampires Drusilla (Juliet Landau) and Spike (James Marsters) from awakening the demon Acathla. As the narrative progresses Spike joins forces with Buffy in an attempt to preserve his love with Drusilla. Buffy also becomes a fugitive after being suspected of murder while Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) works to restore Angel's soul. Flashbacks show the past of Angelus, from being changed into a vampire in 1753, having his soul restored in 1898 (thus becoming Angel), to the year before the series began where he watched Buffy in Los Angeles from afar.
Production of the season finale was different from previous episodes as this was the first time that the show had been filmed outside of the usual warehouses or other locations. A studio was used to create the settings for the flashback scenes set in New York and Ireland. Actors Sarah Michelle Gellar and David Boreanaz undertook training for the climactic sword fight between their characters.
Giles visits a museum to examine a big stone block that it has just acquired; he finds an opening in the rock.
Buffy and Willow find the floppy disk containing Ms. Calendar's reconstruction of the curse that gave Angelus his soul. They are eager to attempt it so they can get Angel back. Giles warns that it will be difficult. Xander prefers to see Angelus killed, rather than risk leaving him alive merely so that Buffy can have a chance to get her boyfriend back.
Drusilla kills the museum curator while Angelus and his minions steal the stone block, which contains the demon Acathla, who came to suck the world into Hell. A virtuous knight had stabbed him in the heart before he could draw a breath, but someone worthy can remove the sword to awaken Acathla. Angelus wants to use Acathla to destroy the world.
Kendra, the new Slayer, returns to Sunnydale bringing a sword blessed by the same knight who stopped Acathla.
Angelus kills a human and uses his blood in an attempt to awaken Acathla, which fails. He then lures Buffy to a battle so that his minions can kidnap Giles, whom he plans to torture for the information he needs. In the library, Willow is attempting the curse when vampires attack. Giles is taken while Xander is injured and Willow is knocked unconscious under a bookcase. Drusilla hypnotizes and kills Kendra. Buffy arrives too late, and a policeman finds her with Kendra's body.
- Galway, Ireland 1753: Liam, drunk as usual, is killed by Darla, becoming the sadistic vampire known as Angelus.
- London, 1860: Drusilla, a pious young woman who has unwanted visions, is psychologically tormented before being sired by Angelus.
- Rumanian woods, 1898: In revenge for killing an unnamed Kalderash girl, Angelus is cursed with his human soul and becomes Angel.
- Manhattan, New York 1996: Angel, now a derelict, meets a benevolent demon named Whistler who invites him to become a hero.
- Los Angeles, 1996: As Buffy becomes the Slayer, Whistler points her out to Angel, who is inspired "to be somebody."
Principal Snyder remarks to the police that "If there's trouble, she's behind it." Buffy breaks away, becoming a fugitive suspect.
Wearing a hat, Buffy visits the hospital. Xander's arm is broken and Willow is comatose. Cordelia had escaped from the fighting. Meanwhile, Angelus tortures Giles for information and entertainment.
The police tell Joyce their version of events.
Buffy finds Whistler in Giles' apartment and they discuss Angel's reversion to Angelus. He reveals that Angel was destined to stop Acathla not awaken him. He is about to tell her how to stop the demon when Buffy, frustrated, leaves.
Buffy is nearly captured by police, but is rescued by Spike, who offers a temporary alliance. He has no wish to see the world destroyed, and he is jealous of Angelus' attentions to Drusilla; so he will help Buffy stop Angelus if she allows him and Drusilla to leave town. Buffy and Spike go to her house to talk, and meet Joyce, who has been told by police that Buffy is wanted for murder. Buffy is forced to tell her about vampires and her role as Slayer. Joyce insists Buffy must tell her everything and tries to prevent her from leaving. Buffy tells her mom that she wishes she could be a normal teenager, but that she has to go save the world, again. Joyce tells her daughter not to come back if she leaves the house. Buffy leaves anyway.
Xander sits by the comatose Willow and confesses his love for her, asking her to wake up. However, when she does, the first person she calls is Oz. Willow is determined to try the curse again. She sends Oz and Cordelia after her supplies, which had been left in the library after the attack. She sends Xander to tell Buffy her plans, hoping she can stall until the curse is complete.
Returning to the library to retrieve Kendra's sword, Buffy encounters Snyder, who gleefully announces that she is expelled.
Spike returns to the mansion, concealing that he has healed (from his injuries in "What's My Line") enough to walk. To keep Angelus from killing Giles, Spike suggests that Drusilla use hypnosis. She appears to Giles as Jenny, and he tells her that Angelus is the key. He must use his own blood, not someone else's, to awaken Acathla.
Buffy returns to Whistler, who tells her that if Angelus has awoken Acathla, only Angelus' blood can again defeat him, in the process sending both evil beings to hell. On her way to the mansion she meets Xander, who decides not to tell her about the curse; instead he says that Willow said to "kick his ass."
In the mansion, Buffy announces her arrival by decapitating a minion, before Spike surprises Angelus from behind, knocking him unconscious and proceeding to beat him brutally. However to his dismay Drusilla sides with her sire, defending Angelus and attacking Spike. Xander frees the injured Giles and they escape as Spike and Buffy fight against Drusilla and the remaining minions. Angelus regains his senses and succeeds in removing the sword from Acathla and he and Buffy then duel. Spike knocks a hostile Drusilla unconscious and escapes with her in his car, leaving Sunnydale. Angelus overpowers Buffy and continues to torment her. Just when he is about to deliver the killing blow, Buffy begins to beat Angelus.
At the hospital, Willow starts to weaken as she tries to restore Angel's soul. Just as she appears close to fainting, she suddenly regains strength, apparently possessed and incanting in Latin instead of English. She succeeds in restoring Angel's soul just as Buffy was about to kill Angelus. Buffy realizes that Angel is back and embraces him. Buffy then sees that Acathla is awake as he opens his mouth and creates an expanding vortex. When Angel, disoriented and oblivious to the vortex opening behind him, questions what happened and where he is, Buffy kisses him, professes her love for him and then drives her sword through him into the vortex. Angel, bewildered, is sucked into the closing hellish vortex.
The world is saved but Buffy, feeling her life shattered, leaves a farewell note for her mother and boards a bus to leave Sunnydale.
For the first time in the series at the end of "Becoming Part 2" the Mutant Enemy logo after the end credits is altered from its standard form. When the monster goes across the screen he moans "Oh! I need a hug" instead of his normal line "Grrr Arrrgh!"
- Spike's description of the end of the world as "goodbye Piccadilly, farewell Leicester bloody Square" refers to the song "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" by Jack Judge and Harry Williams.
- The flashback to Los Angeles is taken directly from Joss Whedon's original script for the Buffy feature film. It is later published in comic format.
- When Buffy realizes that Angelus has lured her away from the library so that Giles can be captured, he gloats that "you fall for it every single time!", referring to the season's first episode, "When She Was Bad", in which Buffy followed a deceptive lead, allowing Willow and Giles to be kidnapped for the Master's restoration.
- As the episode ends, the gang is left to ponder the sequence of events that took place at the fight. Although they are fairly confident that Angel's soul was restored (Willow "felt something flow through her" when performing the spell), they know (through Buffy's note to her mother) that Buffy has survived, and they know that the world has not ended, they know nothing else about the fight: whether Angel has survived, Spike's influence on the fight, or even whether or not Acathla was ever awakened. Giles would ultimately force Buffy to reveal these in Faith, Hope & Trick.
- In this episode, a vampire burns up in indirect sunlight. In future episodes of this show and its spin-off, Angel, stronger and more direct sunlight becomes necessary for killing a vampire. Angel and Spike often survive in rooms that are more well lit than the one which killed the nameless vampire in this episode. The vampire may be newly "sired," however, and thus comparatively weak; similarly, the vampire is shown to be smoking from exposure to the sun before she enters the classroom where she burns up, implying that indirect sunlight would be enough to kill her in her weakened state.
- In order to escape with Drusilla, Spike appears to suffocate her so that she is rendered unconscious. However, it is shown or stated many times in both Buffy and Angel that vampires do not need to breathe, and therefore cutting off an airway will do them no harm. He is, in fact, performing a sleeper hold on Dru, which cuts off the blood (or the vampire equivalent) to her brain.
- When Angelus regains his soul and becomes Angel again, he tells Buffy that he doesn't know what's going on or remember anything. This is explained by the Romania flashback in Part One when Angelus is first cursed by the Kalderash people. When his soul first re-enters his body, he is disoriented and cannot remember everything he did as a vampire. The Kalderash elder tells him it will all come back to him soon, and he will always suffer from the memories. The same thing happens in Part Two when Willow restores his soul. He will have a brief phase before the memories come back, so he doesn't know that he killed Jenny or why they are there. Buffy stabs him before he remembers. The same pattern will occur later when he loses and regains his soul in season four of Angel.
- The story of Liam's turning is told in greater detail in the Angel episode "The Prodigal".
- Joyce finds out that Buffy is the Slayer. It is revealed in "Normal Again" that Buffy had told both of her parents upon first being chosen. Like Joyce in this episode, they thought she was insane and had her committed to a psychiatric hospital.
- Angel will not lose his soul and become Angelus again until "Awakening".
- Xander refrains from telling Buffy of Willow's attempt to restore Angel's soul, instead dishonestly telling her that Willow said to "Kick his ass." His lie will not be alluded to until Season 7's "Selfless", when, during an argument over Anya, the subject of Xander's lie is briefly raised.
- Willow pulls off the restoration spell in another development of her budding abilities as a witch, a crucial plot through the rest of the series.
- Buffy invites Spike into her home, despite knowing that he is a vampire and has been a dangerous enemy. He routinely takes full advantage of this invitation, particularly during Season 5, until Willow and Tara perform the disinviting spell in "Crush". However, he earns himself a re-invite before the end of that season.
- Spike and Joyce meet for the second time. She asks him if they have met before, and he tells her, "You hit me with an axe one time; you know, 'Get the hell away from my daughter,'" referencing their interaction at Parent-Teacher Night in "School Hard".
- Spike plays a role in saving the world, marking his first alliance with Buffy.
- Principal Snyder is seen asking to speak with the mayor Richard Wilkins, who becomes the Big Bad in the next season.
- Kendra lends Buffy a distinctive-looking stake nicknamed "Mr. Pointy." Though Buffy uses the nickname in a few future episodes, the stake itself is only seen again (and not used) in "Living Conditions".
- When Willow asks about the Orb of Thessulah, Giles says he uses one as a paperweight, echoing the shopkeeper's remark to Jenny Calendar in "Passion" that he sells them to tourists as paperweights.
- This is one of only four Buffyverse episodes in which all four members of the Whirlwind (Darla, Angelus/Angel, Drusilla and Spike) appear; the others are "Fool for Love", "Darla" and "The Girl in Question". All of these involve flashbacks.
- This is the last episode to feature the first version of the Buffy theme tune. A higher quality re-vamped version is used from Season 3 onward.
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