Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Becoming, Part 1

Spike: "Let me guess. Someone pulls out the sword..."
Angelus: "Someone worthy."
Spike: "The demon wakes up, and wackiness ensues."

Who is Angel, really? He is, in effect, four different people with four distinct stages of his un-life:

(1) a bratty, irresponsible party animal when he was a living person;

(2) a smirking, soulless, cruel and perverse monster as a vampire;

(3) a depressed, harmless, homeless lost soul with a soul; and finally,

(4) Buffy's brooding, gorgeous boyfriend and incipient superhero, which is the only persona we don't get to see here.

This episode also showed us how all of the major changes in his life involved his relationship with a woman.

Darla is first, of course, as she is the one that changed him forever. And it's pretty clear that her reason for bringing him over was because she was attracted to him. (Darla said "Close your eyes" to Angel right before she bit him. See my note at the end of my review of part two.) It was Angel's cruelty toward women, specifically the gypsy girl, that moved him to the next stage in his un-life. We don't really learn much about the gypsy girl (and there probably isn't much to know), but we do get a serious representational look at his cruelty toward poor Drusilla.

Buffy herself was responsible for Angel's third major change, as Whistler led Angel to watch "destiny-free" Buffy dealing alone with becoming a superhero at fifteen. Interesting that this was the only major change in his life that Angel chose for himself. Whistler told him, "You can become someone. A person. Someone to be counted." And Angel did.

There was a powerful scene in the library when the gang fought about whether or not Angel deserved to be cured. Xander said to Buffy, "The way I see it is, you want to forget all about Miss Calendar's murder so you can get your boyfriend back." There was certainly some truth in there. But were Angel's crimes truly his fault? Angel has never had any control of his un-life. The only real choice he ever made was to become a "real person" to help Buffy. The "real" Angel that we've come to know in the past two seasons would never choose evil, under any circumstances, and we know it. He never asked to be freed of his curse.

Bits and pieces:

-- I really, really hated to see Kendra go. And it was funny and touching to have Kendra inadvertently bequeath Mr. Pointy to Buffy.

-- Was this Apocalypse number three?

-- Willow is taking on Jenny's role in the group in almost every way. Except for being Giles' honey, of course.

-- As evil vamps go, Spike is actually more likeable than Angelus is. And Spike delivers his lines with such bite. Love him.

-- Angel. Irish accent. No.

-- The 1996 flashback scenes were reminiscent of the original, not so good BtVS movie.

-- We don't see Buffy's father Hank, but we hear his voice in the 1996 flashback.

-- Giles was using an Orb of Thessela as a paperweight. In "Passion," the shopkeeper said he'd been selling them as paperweights.

-- One of my favorite moments in this episode was the cafeteria scene where Xander slayed the fish sticks. This may be a sly reference to last week's episode, "Go Fish."

-- Obligatory dog reference: Whistler: "Dog me. Mustard."

-- How did Whistler get Angel to Los Angeles? And wouldn't a ragged guy in a blacked out car in front of a school be noticed? Plus, there's something a bit statutory-rape-y about Angel lusting after a fifteen-year-old girl.

Quotes:

Cordelia: "I think it's great to do that before you go out and fail in the real world. That way you're not falling back on something. You're falling... well, forward."
Xander: "And almost sixty-five percent of that was actual compliment. Is that a personal best?"

Snyder: "These public displays of affection are not acceptable in my school. This isn't an orgy, people. It's a classroom."
Buffy: "Yeah. Where they teach lunch."
Snyder: "Just give me a reason to kick you out, Summers. Just give me a reason. (leaves)
Cordelia: "How about because you're a tiny, impotent Nazi with a bug up his butt the size of an emu?"

Spike: "It's a big rock. I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big."

Buffy: "And you're sure this was the tomb of Alfalfa?"

Willow: "I don't want to be our only hope. Uh, I crumble under pressure. Let's have another hope."

Willow: "This means I can't help you study for tomorrow's final."
Buffy: "I'll wing it. Of course, if we go to Hell by then, I won't have to take 'em. (pause) Or maybe I'll be taking them forever."

Kendra: "In case de curse does not succeed, dis is my lucky stake. I have killed many vampires wit it. I call it Mr. Pointy."
Buffy: "You named your stake?"
Kendra: "Yes."
Buffy: "Remind me to get you a stuffed animal."

Angelus: "Hello, lover. I wasn't sure you'd come."
Buffy: "After your immolation-o-gram? Come on, I had to show. Shouldn't you be out destroying the world right now, pulling the sword out of Al Franken or whatever his name is?"

Four out of four stakes,

Billie
---
Billie Doux reviewed all of Buffy and Angel, so she knows the plural of apocalypse.

15 comments:

Mark Greig said...

Thanks to Angel's Irish, Drusilla's cockney and Kendra's I don't know what season two is the season of genius drama and abysmal accents.

Anonymous said...

people agree bad angel was the best of the villains basically because of the relationship between him and buffy. we know that the moral of the series implies that buffy was different due to how much help she had from tight knit friends. angel had no reason to believe anyone has access to the cure jenny found, yet he tricked buffy into leaving her friends alone anyways, simply to eliminate them. in a way, he was the only real big bad that understood what it would take to defeat buffy.

Billie Doux said...

BUFFY RE-WATCH comments begin here! Remember, no spoilers for future episodes. Want to talk spoilers and foreshadowing? Post them here.

ChrisB said...

I love the flashbacks as we see that Angelus is much closer to who Angel was as a human than Angel is.

Kendra's death is very moving, especially as she and Buffy seem to be bonding even more there at the end. The fact that Buffy would trust someone else to look after her friends says a lot.

rebecca_s921 said...

Darla was so much more interesting in the Angel flashback, with her elegant mystery and allure. Made me forget all about the bad accent and slightly anachronistic language. Did people really say "around" in response to "where are you from" back in 1860?

Gotta love Oz' comment about Willow "sweat cute blood."

Angel's comment about low rent housing in Sunnydale made me chuckle. With all the vampire and monster attacks, you'd think all the housings are "low rent."

I saw the Buffy movie back in 1992 in theater on a lark because of its cute title. I don't remember the scene in the movie where Merrick first met Buffy. I love this scene of Buffy being called, with Angel hiding in a darkened car watching from the distance.

It's sad to see Buffy's parents fighting, with Buffy silently crying in the bathroom, and Angel watching from the window. I can totally see why he'd fall for her, wanting to change for the better, to protect her. And Buffy might be too young to realize she is not at fault for her parents' marriage failing, but she must blame herself to some extent (as we've seen in "Nightmares.")

After seeing the flashbacks, Angelus chanting "Everything that I am, everything that I've done have lead me here" sent chills down my spine. Such gorgeous, potent writing.

sunbunny said...

One of the few BtVS two parters where both parts are equally awesome. I always love vampbacks. It's obviously not going to happen at this juncture, but how awesome would it be to get a spinoff about our evil core four?

I think one of the creepiest shots in the whole series is Angelus, pale and psychotic, stalking Buffy. It's especially affecting coming right after the shots of Liam's death (Liam is/was Angel's human name, for our newbies). From innocent victim to gonna end the world guy in just a few seconds.

Oh and it's our first glimpse of DB's truly horrific Irish accent. It does improve later. Eventually it moves up to abysmal. I've always wondered why Darla was American. Were all of Julie Benz's Old World accents just as bad/worse than DB's or was it a deliberate choice?

Annie said...

Brilliant episode, when it finished it was hard not to go ahead and watch part two, but I'm trying to be disciplined here :).

I always love getting some back story, Liam's not the most likable character, I agree that with ChrisB that we see shades of Angelus more than Angel in his human self, he seems like a bit of a good for nothing.
In the second flashback where we witness what must be his first encounter with Dru he could hardly be anymore evil, murdering a priest in the confessional then beginning the torment of a troubled girl. We the viewer already know the outcome of his obsession, but his chilling words 'god is watching you' further point toward the torment he will visit upon her and her family.

I love the voice Xander brings to the discussion of restoring Angel's soul because it really is an understandable POV and I'm glad it is voiced so clearly. Although there are sound reasons to restore his soul to prevent Acathla's awakening, Xanders cutting remark to Buffy is not altogether misplaced.

Buffy was outsmarted again by Angelus with catastrophic results... my biggest niggle with this is the venue they chose for the ritual, you'd think they could have gone to someone's house (Giles'?)to ensure they couldn't be interrupted by uninvited guests... just a thought.

Excellent cliffhanger though.



a.m. said...

I loved the "vampbacks" too! (Nice word, sunbunny!)

Back stories always add so much but I really liked seeing that Liam wasn't perfect and watching rat-eating Angel make the choice to protect Buffy. That whole story line adds weight to their first interaction in Sunnydale. Do all vampires change their original names when they become vamps?

Xander really has got amazingly brave at protecting/trying to protect everyone. He was throwing vamps around left and right even after that horrible broken wrist.

I was initially excited to see Oz back but then he was only there for a short time. I hope he's around more in part II! He and Willow are so cute together...

I was also excited to see the return of Kendra, alas, it wasn't meant to be...now I'm looking forward to pucklady's limerick! Does this mean another new slayer will be called?

There were lots of great moments from this episode, but Dru definitely takes the cake. Her yellow eyed look as she killed the museum guy and her memorizing fight with Kendra were awesome.

What is Spike up to? I can't wait to find out...

Miss Courtney said...

Also a huge fan of flashbacks (cue my obsessive watching of the Highlander series). I was a little too reminded of Interview with a Vampire's rat scene, though. I despise rats! And Billie, I didn't notice the "close your eyes" line (and I couldn't wait to watch the next episode so I didn't). I recorded these two episodes the first time around and watched them over and over. They are probably my favorite ones of the entire series.

I would argue that Dru is one of the best villains of the show. She has the fabulous vampire wammy power, can see the future and a couple of other cool powers I shouldn't mention just yet. She is gorgeous and funny. I'd like to see more kicking and hitting from her. She's not so hot on the planning aspects of super villainy, though.

Jane said...

So many things to like here. Especially:

Angel, Dru & Spike - love any scene with the three of them.

DB is really fun to watch as Angel, it looks like he is relishing the bad guy role so much.

Something that surprised me a bit:

I understood Xander being anti-Angel. Some jealousy at play as well as the understandable distrust. But Giles is the one who lost his love - why isn't he more bothered by trying to restore Angel?

Not so crazy about:

Everyone has covered the sketchy accents, but for me the wigs on flashback Angel were way more distracting. Not a good look.

I can see overall the need for Angel backstory. Finding out about his first glimpses of Buffy was worthwhile, but most of the rest of it I felt like I already knew from earlier in the series. Not sure those scenes added much for me.

Really a good set-up though. Off to watch Part 2.





Billie Doux said...

Hey, Miss Courtney -- big Highlander fan here, too. As much as I love certain other actors, Adrian Paul was probably the hottest guy I've ever seen on TV.

pucklady said...

Newbie report:

First of all, I'm loving Whistler. I wondered who that was on the opening voice-over, and then it was revealed. But let's start at the beginning.

When Angel was watching Buffy fight vamps in the cemetery, he was sure getting some joy out of it. I thought we were about to have another moment of perfect happiness.

I'm willing to give them some slack for having the worst demon prop EVER because it is the WB or CW or something, and I've seen Supernatural special effects. The best you can buy for under a dollar.

So, releasing this demon will cause a whirlpool that will suck all non-demon life into Hell. I'm wondering what Whistler's motivation was in the first place - he rescued Angel to start a series of events that leads to this point? Hmmmm. I'm thinking agenda here.

Buffy's previous school was in Hill Valley? Save the clock tower!

I'm loving Xander pitching vamps all over the room. He's such a hero.

I think Kendra should have held on to Mr. Pointy. She loses it for the first time in her slaylife, and she's toast. Bad planning girl. At least you can go be a Bennett ghost. There's that.

And here we go:

In Sunnydale town it is rare
When a slayer is known as "The Spare"
But let's bow our head
Because Kendra is dead
And we tink tat tat wasn't fair.

(I'm hoping Xander isn't on the chopping block. There are darn few rhymes for Speedo.)

sunbunny said...

Best limerick yet. :)

Annie said...

Brilliant Limerick pucklady! Its good to lol before work on Monday morning :D

Ren said...

First comment here, though I've been reading your reviews of this series as I started my own rewatch of Buffy and was so glad to see you guys doing this here. I'm also adoring all your comments. I've seen the entire series multiple times, but can always watch again (even the "bad" episodes. there's always a nugget or two in them that make them worthwhile). These two episodes never fail to make me sob my heart out. So well executed on all levels. There's nothing I can say to add that others haven't said already. But I will ask, did anyone notice the box of animal crackers on Oz's tray in the cafeteria? :)