The moment has arrived, Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. We've reached the holy grail when it came to shocking two-part episodes.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 21 (and its sequel) changed the game for the series' narrative. This may sound dramatic, but the cliffhanger and subsequent twists left us gasping for air...and wanting more. These hours are incredible for so many reasons.
Similar to past two-part episodes, we'll begin with "Becoming (Part 1)."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 21 had a lot of flashbacks. And I do mean A LOT.
These flashbacks served an important purpose of answering questions about Angelus's and Buffy's pasts before the series ever aired.
Seeing Angelus become a vampire was essential to his backstory. We only had a taste of his interactions with Darla on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1 Episode 7, and the tidbits he mentioned before, to get a full sense of his past. Here, we saw the true Liam.
His drunken boy persona was completely different to either of the two characters (Angel and Angelus) that we saw already. This was a new side of Angelus and one that we'd soon hear about right into the spin-off series.
Plus, we got to see Darla (and Julie Benz) again! That is always a treat.
Here's my issue with the Sunnydale archeologist examining the obelisk: How could you not deduce that something was hiding inside? The stone had a clear line which showed that it opened.
Giles coming in to save the day and dropping the truthbomb felt so unnecessary. He probably had better things to do than use simple logic.
Though, what was fascinating was that people in Sunnydale, and the scientific community, viewed Giles as an expert in obscure relics. He was sought out explicitly for his advice on the tomb.
Did he ever get called about any other items when we weren't looking?
Principal Snyder disciplining the Scoobies in the cafeteria foreshadowed him expelling Buffy.
Back in 1998, I never gave his threats a second thought. He was always the mean principal who went out of his way to torment the Scoobies and discipline them. His words were no different than any other scene.
However, after rewatching it this time around, there was a strange connection. Everything finally built up to a point where he got his dream.
Even a villain like Principal Snyder would get his day, and it will come in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 22.
Drusilla's flashback was the most eye-opening flashback. Back in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 16, Angelus's actions toward those he was obsessed with were teased lightly. We were only meant to know that he took things too far.
Seeing him psychologically break Drusilla down in a church confessional box was horrendous to witness. This scene has to be in his Top 5 most evil moments throughout Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He went right to the jugular to turn her evil and torment her mind.
In hindsight, these actions perfectly explain why her demon self was so whimsical and psychotic. She did end up embracing her evil side.
Spike: Nice walk, pet?
Drusilla: I met an old man. I didn't like him. He got stuck in my teeth. Then the moon started whispering to me all sorta of dreadful things.
Angelus: What did it say?
Spike: Oh, look who’s awake.
[Angelus hits Spike’s head]
Angelus: What did the moon tell you? Did you have a vision? Is something coming?
Drusilla: Oh yeah. Something terrible...pssst, pssst, pssst, pssst.
Drusilla: At the museum, in a tomb, with a surprise inside.
Angelus: You can see all that in your head?
Spike: No, you ninny, she read it in the morning paper.
The best part about the Spike, Drusilla and Angelus scene where they read the paper had to be the background music.
Don't get me wrong, Spike and Angelus had the perfect banter together, and Drusilla killed it yet again with her whimsical self. However, you can't beat the moment when Drusilla opened her mouth to bite Angelus as the music heightened.
The tune was equal parts eeriness and tense. Pair the music with Drusilla's eyes opening wide as she playful bites Angelus, you had one creepy scene.
Once Angelus determined he wanted the tomb, this scene teased that something dangerous was coming. And that hair-raising feeling hit the nail right on the head.
Mark these words because they don't happen often: I agree with Xander's assessment about Angel/Angelus.
Regardless of Buffy and Willow finding the cure in Jenny's office, or the flashback showing Angel being cursed, it didn't change the feeling that Angelus needed to die here. He did a lot of evil and killed a lot of people along the way. The group shouldn't sweep it under the rug or make excuses for him because he didn't have a soul.
If they had successfully brought Angel's soul back (and didn't send him to a hell dimension), would they have ignored Jenny's death? Theresa's death? The countless random extras who died along the way? He killed MANY people.
Seeing the Scoobies split down the middle over this topic was a breath of fresh air.
They shouldn't be on the same page with big issues like this. Having a healthy debate is a natural part of any human interaction, and having them disagree with one another was a good step toward all of their character developments.
Though, I do agree that Buffy was being selfish with wanting her boyfriend and pretending like everything didn't matter.
Xander: Hi! For those of you who just tuned in, everyone here is a crazy person. So, this spell might restore Angel’s humanity? Well, here’s an interesting angle: Who cares?
Buffy: I care.
Xander: Is that right?
Giles: Let’s not lose our perspective here, Xander.
Xander: I’m perspective guy. Angel’s a killer.
Buffy: It’s not that simple.
Xander: What? All is forgiven?! I can’t believe you people!
Cordelia: Xander has a point.
Xander: You know just for once I wish you would support me! And I realize right now that you were and I’m embarrassed. So, I’m gonna get back to the point...which is that Angel needs to die.
Giles: Curing Angel seems to have been Jenny’s last wish.
Xander: Yeah? Well, Jenny’s dead!
[A fight breaks out]
Fun fact: Giles foreshadowed Willow's addiction and descent into magic. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 21 was the moment he called out the slippery slope and the door she couldn't close.
These are the little moments you look back on and realize they had a major effect on the series. Claps for everyone who made the connection!
Who else giggles when they see Acathla? His face design is really bad. He looked like a cross between a hulking gargoyle and one of the monsters from the arcade game, Rampage.
Acathla and Glory, the Big Bad from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5, essentially had the same curse. They both would open a portal that would suck humanity into another dimension.
Obviously, pulling the sword from the statue was the easier of the two methods. The connection between the two wasn't hard to put together.
Kendra coming back after many episodes away wasn't a good sign from a foreshadowing aspect. Usually when a character reappears, it's either to end off the storyline...or off the character. (We already know they went with both here.)
How did Kendra get informed about the Acathla threat in Sunnydale? And, where did she get the sword? I may have missed that detail, but it nagged me during the rewatch.
The sword should've went right to Buffy since she was already in Sunnydale with Acathla.
Looking back on Buffy the Vampire Slayer now, Buffy got shafted a lot with a lack of information. The Watchers Council didn't give her any help, and none of these seers/witches were calling her up with information. She and the Scoobies mostly had to this alone.
That lack of support deserves a lot of respect. At least Kendra also gave her "Mr. Pointy" for luck, which was a weird yet funny name for her stake.
Kendra: In case the curse does not succeed, this is my lucky stake. I have killed many vampires with it. I call it, “Mr. Pointy.”
Buffy: You named your stake?
Buffy: Remind me to get you a stuffed animal.
[Kendra hands her the stake]
Kendra: Watch your back.
Whistler was an underutilized character. He had one of the few narrator dialogues, but he was essentially a minor character.
Did they intend for him to be the original Doyle in the Angel spinoff? Was he going to appear again? He seemingly disappeared after Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 with no word.
Him being the reason that Angel learned about Buffy was an interesting twist. However, their connection and purpose to seeing Buffy was a tad too coincidental.
Let's talk about early Buffy Summers for a minute: She really was the original Cordelia. From the looks of her short footage, she was the queen bee at her old school and didn't have a care in the world. Though, she did pretty well in her first outing as the slayer.
There had been a lot of debate about Buffy's past between the movie and the TV series. The movie, which was non-canon and in its own world, had similar elements about the character that transferred into the main TV series.
She was the cheerleader, the popular queen be, she got discovered by her Watcher, and she had a battle in her school's gym.
The perfect canon connection to read is the prequel story. The graphic novel tries to connect elements from the movie into the Buffy TV universe, such as Merrick the Watcher and Lothos the vampire. The melding of both worlds isn't perfect, but it does a good enough job for backstory.
Look, it's been (almost) 20 long years since "Becoming (Part 1)" aired and I still will never understand why that vampire woman willing sacrificed herself to leave Buffy a message. She knew she would die, but she did it anyway.
Walking into Sunnydale High and pulling off the robe was a head-scratching death wish.
Angelus could've found any other way to get Buffy to come out to a fight; he's a resourceful Big Bad. He must've had a secret power or blackmail to convince that vampire to sacrifice her own life. It's the only thing that makes sense.
Either way, he got what he wanted and Buffy fell for the diversion. Angelus seemed to always get whatever he wanted.
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?
Angelus: There's time enough. I wanted to say goodbye first. You are the one thing in this dimension I will miss.
Buffy: This is a beautiful moment we're having. Can we please fight?
Angelus: I didn't come here to fight.
Angelus: Gosh, I was hoping we can get back together. What do you think? Do we have a shot? Alright. We'll fight.
Did you think Kendra was going to die? I didn't at all. The idea of an important character being killed off the show was a shock to me. This feeling also happened when Jenny died; Scoobies aren't meant to die.
The Scoobies got into a lot of fights throughout Buffy the Vampire Slayer's run; they fought monsters and ended up with varying degrees of damage. However, with exception to Big Bad battles, the deaths were a rarity. Kendra being killed in a minor library fight goes against what you'd normally expect of the characters.
A slash to her throat with a fingernail had so much shock and power!
Kendra's death caused a huge shakeup for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 3. A new slayer was introduced, the dynamics changed, and it offered a new look into the slayers' personalities. It's a shame she didn't last long, but her mark was felt.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 2 Episode 21 possibly had some of the best cliffhangers for a penultimate episode.
Let's break it down: Kendra had died, Xander and Willow were knocked out (maybe dead), Giles was kidnapped by vampires, and Cordelia made a run for it. And, we can't forget the gun being pointed at Buffy! The status of the Scoobies were completely up in the air and it kept us all guessing.
That's the feeling you want heading into a season finale.
Plus, we were gifted with the perfection that was Buffy's slow-motion run to the library. That scene is iconic for so many reasons, like the voiceover, the tension with every step, and the fact that it got incorporated into the show's intro.
"Becoming (Part 1)" delivered a flawless beginning for the battle that was yet to come. This is a must for any rewatch.
What did you think of "Becoming (Part 1)"? Were you devastated that Kendra died? Which flashback was your favorite? Who's side were you on during the Scoobies's fight?
Want to join us in rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer? We'll be posting new rewatch posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Come back here and let us know what you think of the episode.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.