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Recap: Buffy The Vampire Slayer S 2 E 21 Becoming Part 1
"My friends, we're about to make history... end."

Through flashbacks, we see more of Angel's history as recalled by an enigmatic demon called Whistler. We see Angel sired by Darla in 1753, and later being cursed with a soul by the Kalderash clan in 1898. Angel is next seen living as a vagrant until he is retrieved by Whistler in 1996, who shows him the one thing that can give his life meaning: Buffy Summers, rookie Slayer. Whistler observes that Buffy is in way over her head, and Angel resolves to watch over her from afar.

In the present, a new artifact has just arrived at the museum: a big stone block. Drusilla kills the museum curator while Angelus and his minions steal the relic, which contains the demon Acathla. A virtuous knight stabbed him in the heart before he could draw a breath, but someone worthy can remove the sword to awaken him. Angelus hatches a plan to awaken Acathla, who will open a gateway to Hell, destroying the world.

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. Xander doesn't take a shine to this idea, preferring to see Angelus killed for what he's done, rather than risk leaving him alive merely so that Buffy can have a chance to get her boyfriend back. Meanwhile, Kendra 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 him 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 swarm the place. The mob is led by Drusilla, who hypnotizes and kills Kendra. Giles is taken while Xander is injured and Willow is left in a coma. Buffy arrives too late, and a policeman finds her hovering over Kendra's body.

Tropes:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Without Buffy, the Scoobies are revealed to be frighteningly unprepared to deal with a handful of vamps, let alone a souped-up one like Drusilla.
  • The Alleged Car: As 1996!Buffy exits the school, a completely rusted Impala with blacked-out windows rolls up to the curb. It's Angel.
  • Anti-Climax: Blood in his hand, ominous evil speech made, Angelus grasps the sword's hilt and an intense bright light pours forth. And nothing else happens. Suddenly, a giant flame erupts, sending him flying backward and landing on his ass.
    Spike: [sing-song] Someone wasn't worthy! ♪
  • Back for the Dead: Kendra.
  • Backhanded Compliment: Cordelia 'congratulating' Willow on her success as a substitute teacher. It's good to have a fallback ready for when she goes out and fails in the real world. "That way you're not falling back on something. You're falling — well, forward."
    Xander: And almost 65% percent of that was actual compliment. Is that a personal best?
  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Bad Habits: A young Drusilla entering a confessional booth just as Angelus is awkwardly setting aside the freshly-killed priest behind the screen. Dru tells him that she's been "seeing" again. Apparently, she had a vision of a mine cave-in before it occurred. Dru's mother has told her that her precognition is an affront to God and she sobs, "I don't want to be an evil thing." Angelus replies that she's a "devil child" and the Lord will "smite her down." He tells her to just give in to her evilness, but that suggestion makes Dru upset, so he wearily dismisses her with ten Our Fathers and an Act of Contrition.
  • Bait and Switch: The episode makes it look like Angel will be restored while Buffy is fighting him in the graveyard. Unfortunately it's a two-parter.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The dead Gypsy girl still looks fit, dressed in white and covered in rose petals.
  • Big Applesauce: At some point, up to early 1997, Angel lived in New York City as hobo, feeding on rats.
  • Blood Magic: To awaken Acathla
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: In the library melee, a vampire pushes a bookshelf onto the screaming Willow, who is knocked out. The following episode reveals that she has slipped into a coma from her injuries.
  • Book Ends / Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: As Buffy dusts her last vamp in the cold open, she gives a hand up to Xander, who has been conked out and hidden behind a headstone for this whole scene. He insists he was doing okay in the fight until "they resorted to fisticuffs." Later, Xander's arm is broken by a vampire, but surprisingly, he manages to fight on anyway. Ironically, he ends up being the most victorious of the non-superpowered Scoobies.
  • Brick Joke: In "Passions" the shop owner mentions that somebody had purchased a couple Orbs of Thesulah and was using them as new age paperweights. We find out Giles was the one who bought them when he moved to Sunnydale the previous year.
  • Bring It: Before their match, Drusilla gives Kendra a "come hither" wiggling of her fingers.
  • California Doubling: How did Angel get from New York all the way to California in one cut? Easy: he walked between sets.
  • Call Forward: Buffy is revealed to be quite The Ditz (like Cordelia, even down to the Girl Posse) before she found her destiny. This will be mentioned in a later episode in which Buffy confesses she once made Cordy look deep by comparison.
    • Joyce's marriage is already hitting the rocks in 1997. Following Buffy's first vampire kill, Joyce reproaches Buffy for not phoning. Downstairs, Dad's on the warpath. After her mother departs, Buffy turns on her bathroom faucet to drown out the sound of her parents arguing at the top of their lungs.
    • Seeing Angel's sudden resolve to do good after getting one look at Buffy, Whistler comments that she must be "prettier than the last one". A nightmare version of the Master made the same comment to Buffy herself in the episode Nightmares (which takes place the previous season, but is chronologically later than this flashback, hence Call Forward).
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Liam's siring in a Galway alleyway. Best. Anti-drinking PSA. Ever.
  • Continuity Nod: When asked about the Orb of Thessulah by Willow, Giles says he has one, saying "I've been using it as a paperweight." This references Ms.Calendar's visit to the gypsy store in "Passion", in which the shopkeeper tells her that tourists have been buying them as New Age paperweights.
    • When Buffy realizes that Angelus has lured her away from the library so that Giles can be captured, he gleefully points out that "you fall for it every time!" This is a reference to "When She Was Bad", in which Buffy followed a false lead, leaving Willow, Cordelia, Jenny and Giles to be abducted for the Master's resurrection.
    • When Drusilla is about to kill Kendra she says "Be in me" hypnotizing Kendra. This same line is used by Lothos in the Buffy movie.
  • Cool Sword: During the strategy session over how to tackle Acathla, Kendra produces a sword blessed by the same pesky virtuous knight that first defeated Acathla. Giles becomes very animated when he inspects it.
  • Deconstructed Trope: While Angelus put his own dark spin on Stalking Is Love, this episode subverts the Bangel romance with a Lolita subtext that portrays Angel as a pathetic loser motivated as much by his desire for the innocent 15-year old Buffy, as by his quest for redemption. This theme is reinforced by the Season 3 episode "Amends".
  • Defensive Feint Trap: Kendra lashes out at Drusilla, but Dru calmly circles her, easily evading each swipe and sends Kendra spinning through the air with a single punch. Finally, Kendra kicks Dru in the gut, causing her to double over, and Kendra moves in for the kill. But Dru was just feigning her injury, and instead grasps Kendra by the throat. Nice knowing you.
  • Destination Defenestration: Kendra catapulting one vampire through the window of Giles' office.
  • Dope Slap: Angelus slapping Spike across the head by way of "good morning".
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: When Buffy's pencil rolls underneath Jenny Calender's desk, she exclaims that she's having a "deja vu" moment and has a perfect memory of dropping the pencil. Sure enough, the Restoration Spell floppy disk is lying wedged under the desk.
  • Dug Too Deep: Acathla's petrified body was buried where neither man nor demon would dare look. However, Angelus says, there's someone even worse: real estate developers.
  • Eccentric Mentor
  • Failed a Spot Check: Dru alerting Angelus that there's a tomb waiting for them at the museum "with a surprise inside." Angelus marvels at his delicate seer and asks if she can see all that in her head. "No, you ninny. She read it in the morning paper," deadpans Spike, and shows him the paper with a headline reading "MYSTERY OBELISK UNEARTHED". Angelus irritably snatches it.
    • I don't know about you but I'm seriously beginning to wonder about Drusilla's "precognition" by this point.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The library's double doors swinging open — to reveal Drusilla's red pumps striding in.
  • Femme Fatalons: Darla instructs Liam to close his eyes, changes to her vampire visage, and bites his neck. Liam swoons to the ground, and Darla seals the deal by slashing a fingernail across open her corseted bosom and forcing Angel's mouth onto it. Not as kinky as it sounds.
    • This is shown to be the preferred method for female vampires (well, Darla and Drusilla, anyway) to sire their mates.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Drusilla prepares her finishing move by waving two fingers in front of Kendra's eyes: "Look at me, dearie." Kendra, who is now in Dru's thrall, sways helplessly back and forth. After toying with her a bit, Dru then swipes her nails across Kendra's jugular.
  • Flashback Echo: "Everything that I am, everything that I have done, has led me to here." intones Angelus ominously. We then go back in time to 1996 Manhattan, where a homeless, half-crazed Angel is tearing up some trash cans, ineffectively trying to catch a rat.
    • Inverted in the final flashback, with Angel resolving to aid the Slayer and "become somebody." We're then zipped back to the present with Angelus basking before Acathla, saying, "I have strayed. I have been lost. But Acathla redeems me. With this act, we will be free."
  • Foreshadowing: Whistler speaks of "our side" and it is doubtful that he is referring to the Watchers' Council. This could be a subtle foreshadowing to the "Powers That Be" in the spinoff Angel.
    • When Willow proposes to try to perform the spell, Giles warns her that she may be opening a door that can't be easily closed. He's right—the Restorations spell sets Willow on a path of dark magic. She begins practicing seriously in season three, and grows steadily more powerful as the series progresses. Giles's concerns about Willow becoming too involved in magic will prove well founded in Season 6.
    • Whistler says that there are moments in a person's life that affect the whole path their life will take, even though they might not know it. This episode features several such moments: Liam takes up Darla's offer to show him the world; Willow takes her first step on the path to being a witch; Kendra's attention wanders for a moment and she is killed by Drusilla, causing a new Slayer (Faith) to be called; and in the next episode, Spike betrays Angelus and helps Buffy save the world.
  • Frameup / From Bad to Worse: Buffy sprinting across town, only to find she's too late; Giles has been kidnapped, her friends are injured, and Kendra lies dead on the library floor. Buffy collapses to her knees and strokes Kendra's face with her hand as a gun is raised behind her. "Freeze!" shouts a police officer. Caught red-handed.
  • Fridge Horror: Giles had an Orb of Thesulah (even if he had been using it as a paperweight) all along. In "Passion", Jenny didn't know this and went to buy one from the magic shop, and Angel only knew she was going to perform the soul-restoration by interrogating the shopkeeper. If Jenny had known that Giles had an Orb, she'd still be alive and Angel's soul would have been returned five episodes earlier.
  • Glowing Eyes: Angelus' eyes glow orange as his soul is restored. The effect is repeated next episode.
  • Hell on Earth: Actually Earth sucked into Hell.
  • Hey, It's That Place!: In the flashback to 1996, the school building Buffy is seen leaving with her friends is the famous Courthouse Square used in the Back to the Future films.
  • Hobos: Angel in early 1997
  • How Do I Shot Web?: 15-year old Buffy misses the heart on her first vampire staking.
  • Human Sacrifice: Just like in seemingly every vampire ceremony, this one requires a human sacrifice.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A member of her Girl Posse asks Buffy the Valley Girl if she's going to take Tyler to the dance.
    Buffy: Where were you when I got over Tyler? He's of the past. Tyler would have to crawl on his hands and knees to get me to go to the dance with him. Which, actually, he's supposed to do after practice, so I'm gonna wait.
  • I Call It Vera: Kendra loans Buffy her stake, Mr Pointy.
  • I Have Many Names: 1997!Angel asking who the strange man accosting him in an alleyway is. He cheerfully says his name is Whistler; "Well, lately it is."
  • In the Hood: Buffy patrolling the park in her Unabomber hoodie.
    • A huddled, smoking figure walks through the halls toward Buffy's classroom. No one takes notice of this person until it enters Buffy's classroom. The woman pulls the shawl off of its face and declares, "Tonight. Sundown. At the graveyard," before beginning to smoke. "You will come to him or more will DIE!" The female vamp then explodes into flames, all the while pointing accusingly at Buffy. Man, that Angelus is a drama queen.
  • Ironic Hell: Willow apologizing that she won't be able to help Buffy prepare for finals, what with being busy with the conjuring spell and the end of the world and all. But Buffy reassures her, noting that "if we go to hell by then, I won't have to take them. [beat] Or," she reflects ominously, "I'll be taking them forever."
  • It May Help You on Your Quest:
    • On her way out, Buffy gets stopped by Kendra, who lends her a distinctive-looking stake nicknamed "Mr. Pointy." Buffy is amused yet touched by the gift.
    • Buffy borrows the nickname for her own stake in later episodes, though the original stake never appears again.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In 1898, a gypsy man approaches the groveling Angel and taunts, "It hurts, yes?". Angel stammers that he doesn't understand — he apparently remembers nothing from after he was sired in 1753 to the present. Gypsy Man assures him that all those colorful memories will be returning presently. Angel repeatedly gasps "No..." as he slowly kneels to the ground, the full enormity of his undead existence starting to coalesce.
  • Last Request: A posthumous version. For his part, Giles submits that restoring Angel was Jenny's last wish.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Upon her arrival at the scene, Drusilla claps her hands smartly and calls off the rest of her gang: "Enough." The vamps surrounding Kendra automatically withdraw. This can't end well.
    • Subverted with Angelus — he knows Buffy will accept the challenge for one-on-one combat, not realising it's just a ruse to separate her from the Scoobies.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Angelus duping Buffy into leaving the Scoobies (and Giles in particular) unattended.
  • The Men in Black: In 1997, an older man in a black suit approaches our heroine and asks if she's Buffy Summers. Buffy briefly worries that a department store sent him, because she "meant to pay for that lipstick!" Actually, this is Merrick, Buffy's first (and short-lived) Watcher.
    • Between Angel in his hooptie and this pudgy older guy in a dark suit soliciting teen girls, this school is crawling with Unfortunate Implications.
  • Meaningful Echo: Whistler's "You'll see what I mean."
  • Mysterious Watcher: Even when he's evil, Angelus still has to get his fix of Buffy-stalking.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter:
    Buffy: (on the phone with Willow) Yeah, Xander was pretty much being a...Willow! Where did you learn that word? My god, you kiss your mother with that mouth?
  • Nice Hat: Whistler's porkpie hat.
  • Oh Crap: At the graveyard, Buffy and Angel scuffle some more. Buffy pulls out Mr. Pointy and says, "Come on. Let's finish this. You and me." Angelus chuckles, saying, "You never learn do you? This wasn't about you. This was never about you." A slow horror dawns on Buffy's on her face as she realizes she's played right into Angelus' hands. She takes off running.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Inverted, as the bad guys are the ones trying to unsheathe it.
  • Origins Episode
  • The Other Darrin: Perennial mustachioed Hey, It's That Guy! Richard Riehle guest-stars as Merrick, Buffy's first watcher. This role was portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the feature movie.
  • Oral Fixation: SMG as pre-Sunnydale Buffy.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different
  • Pink Means Feminine
  • Private Eye Monologue: Whistler's narration.
    • In the original cut of this episode it is Angel (not Whistler) who delivers the voice-over.
  • Psycho Strings: From young Drusilla's flashback, we cut to present day Dru sashaying down Angelus' stairs to the screech of Victorian violins.
  • Quip to Black: Inverted, with Whistler's monologue closing out the cliffhanger.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: By the time Whistler found him, Angel was homeless and scrounging off of rat blood. (To add insult to injury, he has difficulty catching one.)
  • Recycled Set: The scene of young Buffy staking her first vamp takes place in a cemetery that is obviously the same as the one in Sunnydale.
  • Red Shirt: Doug the curator picked a bad day to work late. As he inspects the runes, Angelus brings in a gang of henchvamps to steal the obelisk. "I'll take one of these to go." Dru grabs the curator from behind and bites into his neck. Angelus tut-tuts, "Dru? Save me some."
  • Resigned to the Call
  • Retcon: 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.
  • Ritual Magic
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Sunnydale Museum has a new arrival: a big ominous rock. Giles is invited over in his capacity as the "best authority" on old relics in town. Giles spots a large crack running up the side, which indicates it could be opened, but he asks the curator to wait a few days before opening it so he can translate the runes on the outside. Bad call, Giles. Evil waits for no man.
  • Self-Immolation / Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Angelus' "immolation-o-gram"
  • Series Continuity Error: When Angel first meets Buffy in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" he says that he'd thought she'd be taller, or at least have bigger muscles. This could be to cover up the fact that he has been watching her for months.
    • As cool as the scene is where Angel's "immolate-o-gram" sets herself aflame, it seems strange that a vampire would burn up in indirect sunlight. Future episodes of this show and its spin-off, Angel, show vampires surviving in rooms that are better-well lit than the one which killed the messenger.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Back at the mansion, Angelus grandly shows off his new toy to an unimpressed Spike. "It's a big rock.", Spike snarks. "I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big."
  • Shout-Out: In Marvel's comic/film franchise Blade, Blade is a half-vampire who kills other vamps (sound familiar?) and has a mentor named Whistler.
    • In the german dub, Kendra's stake is called "Van Heugen", the nemesis of Graf Dracula.
  • Sickening Crunch: Xander's arm being snapped by a vampire.
  • Smash Cut: Whistler tells Angel that he can either become "even more useless", or he can become someone. A person. Someone to be counted. Angel asks Whistler what he wants with him, and Whistler replies that he wants to show him something. Flash to upbeat music as we pan down on a high school in Los Angeles. Angel rolls down his window, squints at the bright light, and looks over to see Buffy coming down the steps, chattering with three of her friends.
    • Merrick tells Buffy he's come to escort her to her destiny. Buffy protests that she's "destiny-free," but the man corrects her that "you are the Chosen One. You alone can stop them." "Who?" queries Buffy. Well, the vampires, obviously. Buffy dumbly says, "Huh?" and gives him a cross-eyed look. Quick cut to a cemetary, where Buffy is fumbling around with her very first vampire mook.
  • Stalking Is Love: When Angel says he wants to protect Buffy, Whistler comments that she must be prettier than the last Slayer.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: As Buffy patrols the park, Kendra da Vampire Slayher pops out of the bushes and gives her a fright.
    Kendra: Just wanted to test your reflexes.
    Buffy: How about testing my face-punching? 'Cause I think you'll find it's improved.
  • Suicide Mission: It's not revealed why a vampire would sacrifice herself simply to deliver a message to the Slayer. Either Drusilla hypnotized her, or the henchvamps have been caught up in the same apocalyptic fervor as their leaders.
  • Taken for Granite: Angelus explaining the story behind Acathla. He was, of course, stabbed by the aforementioned pesky virtuous knight and turned to stone, as you do.
  • Tantrum Throwing: After Angelus' ritual goes awry, he grabs the nearest stone pot and smashes it.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Pre-vampire Drusilla as a pious Catholic girl who is plagued by unwanted visions.
    • The story of "Liam's" siring is told in greater detail in Angel S1 ("The Prodigal").
    • Along with "Fool for Love", "Darla" and "The Girl in Question", this is one of only four Buffyverse episodes in which all four members of Angelus' 'family' appear.
  • Two-Part Episode
  • Villainous BSOD: Should you wonder at the gypsies' seemingly magnanimous response to their daughter's death, Angel's expression as the curse takes effect will probably make you reconsider.
  • You Can Turn Back: Fresh from staking out the Summers home, Angel mopes his way down the sewers to find Whistler waiting for him. Angel declares that he wants to enlist to help Buffy. Whistler warns him, "This isn't going to be easy. [...] This is dangerous work. Right now you couldn't go three rounds with a fruit fly."

Go FishRecap/Buffy the Vampire SlayerBecoming, Part 2

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