In the twenty-first episode of the second season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I feel so unprepared I think I’m experiencing pain? Whatever, it’s time for me to watch Buffy and feel everything at once.
I expected to wait a very, very long time before this show would give me any sort of flashback to what happened before “Welcome to the Hellmouth.” Here in the first part of “Becoming,” I realize just how much I really didn’t understand about Angel and Angelus, and how those are two separate entities in a way. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the logistics of it, but while I got that a vampire is a demon living inside a person’s body, I didn’t understand what the curse did to Angel exactly. It’s why I said that I thought Angel deserved what he got in my review of “Innocence.”
There’s still a weird line here that I’m unsure of. I don’t know that it’s perfectly fine to just say that Angel shouldn’t be held responsible for anything, only because then that leaves his victims without closure or catharsis forever. Like, literally, they will never get closure at all. At the same time, I can also see what Angel was like, what he was like once he became Angelus, and then how awful it is that the curse makes Angel suffer for what the demon essentially did.
First things first: David Boreanaz has a horrific Irish accent. It’s awful. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, can we also talk about how I did not pick up on the fact that Darla is played by Julie Benz, who was Rita on Dexter? That is amazing to me. Anyway, I worried that all we would get is the cheesiest replication of Ireland in 1753. I WANTED MORE. Lucky, Whedon chooses to intersperse most of “Becoming, Part One” with moments from the past. All of these scenes are meant to give us a portrait of the kind of person Angel chose to be. For a while, though, we see Angelus. We see him meet Drusilla for the first time in London. We see him in Romania on the exact day he regains his soul and learns he will remember and feel every thing he did as Angelus. While I’m still curious to learn what happens in the 98 years prior to the next flashback, I was sad to see that Angel had given up on becoming part of society in any sense.
And look, I need to do this: this show does the concept of a non-human-eating vampire so much better than Twilight. I much prefer the idea that Angel suffers for fighting his nature than to one where everything is perfect and ordered and neat and cute and full of mountain lion snacks. I just don’t believe it at all! It’s in this state that Angel meets a demon called the Whistler. I don’t understand why this particular demon does what he does, and I imagine the season finale will answer that in some way. But in perhaps the most shocking (AND FANTASTIC) flashback of the bunch, the Whistler takes Angel to see Buffy at Hemery High on the day she finds out she is the Slayer. Oh my god, this is the best thing ever. BUFFY IS SO ADORABLE. Also, she is just like Cordelia. Also, she is UTTERLY DESTROYED BY FINDING OUT SHE IS THE SLAYER because of the strain it puts on her family. It’s so sad, almost to the point that I wish that she wasn’t made the Slayer. Though I will say I am glad that she got rid of that jacket. That thing was hideous.
The point of all this, though, is that Angel made a very specific choice to come to Sunnydale. He wanted to become someone who meant something, who did something good. It was part of the process to forgive himself, and it explains why he was so interested in Buffy from the start. Of course, it’s fascinating to contrast this with the choice he makes in “Becoming, Part One” as Angelus.
The year is coming to a close, and it’s so obvious to me that this is a set-up for a finale. I’m scared. At this point, I know that Buffy was pretty damn popular. For me, that means I have to accept that this finale does not have to have a singular narrative that’s neatly wrapped up like it was in season one. There might be a cliffhanger. There might be tons of drama. There might be death. The one thing I was sure of, though, was that this first part of the finale is leading to the showdown between Angeles and Buffy. It’s what this whole season is leading to. The pieces are starting to appear: there’s the stone block with some sort of secret inside; the Scoobies prepare for finals; Angelus is preparing for the end; and Drusilla and Spike are getting restless.
There are two huge turning points in this episode. The first comes when Buffy discovers the yellow floppy disk containing the method of cursing Angel again. True story: I totally thought that after Buffy missed it the first time, it would just stay there. Because let’s be honest: Whedon would do something like that, to hide a solution a foot away from our heroine and let it waste away because he lives off of my suffering. But it’s something that these characters never even considered as a possibility and suddenly, now they have to account for it.
I wasn’t surprised that the Scoobies argued so intensely about what to do with it. The issue of Angel versus Angelus is incredibly complex and morally confusing, even if it seems easy enough for Xander and Cordelia to choose to kill him. But the choice really should be left to Buffy, should it not? I’m glad she agrees to keep it as a back-up plan in case she fails, but I think I’m more excited to see if Willow actually uses some dark magic. WHAT IS SHE BECOMES A TECHNO-PAGAN IN JENNY’S PLACE? oh my god SEASON THREE. Make this a reality!
Over at the Mansion of Vampires, the acquisition of the stone block gives Angelus his own endgame: encased inside is Acathla, a demon who can suck the entire world into Hell. You know what’s most frightening about it? I have no fucking clue why Angel would want to wipe out the whole of human existence aside from the fact that he can. Like, that is literally how detached Angelus is from reality. DRUSILLA, WHY ARE YOU ON BOARD WITH THIS? Won’t you go to hell too?
It’s okay, though, because the Scoobies have a secret weapon: KENDRA HAS RETURNED! OH MY GOD YES!!!! And not only that, she’s brought a bad ass sword and a much more believable accent. Imagine that! Of course, that boost lasts just a few minutes because then a vampire self-immolates in a classroom during an exam Buffy and Willow are taking. Okay, seriously, how does that happen and the entire town does not revolt in response? Someone just BURNED OUT OF EXISTENCE IN FRONT OF AN ENTIRE CLASSROOM. Wow, the citizens of Sunnydale are literally the most in-denial people in all of existence. Unfortunately, and I did not catch it at the time, but the act was a total set-up by Angel and Buffy fell right into it. I get why she did, too, especially since this entire episode was one giant hint that Buffy and Angel would fight their big finale battle.
Nope. It was a trick to get Buffy away from the library so Angel could get what he really wants: Giles. HE IS THE ONE MOST QUALIFIED TO AWAKEN ACTHLA. J F C HELP ME WHAT THE FUCK.
I had a feeling that Kendra couldn’t last much longer than the second season, so I wasn’t all that surprised that she was killed. How Drusilla killed her was shocking, though. Drusilla can hypnotize people as well? GREAT! THAT’S TOTALLY ANOTHER FACTOR I WANTED TO CONSIDER. I was sad to see Kendra go because I liked her so much. But the whole situation is just so horrific. Xander has a broken hand (OH MY GOD THAT SCENE WAS TOO MUCH), Willow is buried under a bookshelf, and who knows where Cordelia is.
And yet, as if all of this chaos is just child’s play, Whedon ends this with another twist that I can barely handle: Buffy has a gun pointed at her by what sounds like a police officer. So the police are going to think she did this.
To be continued? Goddamn it. I knew it was coming, and it doesn’t make me any less frustrated. SO UNPREPARED.