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BECOMING PT. 2 (ep #2.22)

(a.k.a. Kiss and Kill)

Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Alyson Hannigan as Willow Rosenberg
Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia Chase
David Boreanaz as Angel
Anthony Stewart Head as Rupert Giles
Guest Starring: Max Perlich as Whistler (Special Guest)
Seth Green as Oz
Kristine Sutherland as Joyce Summers
Robia LaMorte as Drusilla
James G. MacDonald as
James Marsters as Spike
Juliet Landau as Drusilla
Armin Shimerman as Principal Snyder
Co-Starring: Susan Leslie as First Cop
Thomas G. Waites as Second Cop

Plot Summary

Angel opened Acathla's mouth, only to have Buffy send him to Hell.

Plot Details

The episode opened where the last episode left off, with a police officer pointing a gun at Buffy while she was hunched over Kendra's body. The police managed to get her out of the library even after she noticed Xander's unconscious body as well. Outside the library, Principal Snyder arrived and suggested that Buffy was behind the trouble. As a police officer was about to arrest her, she hit him and fled as another police officer fired at her.

Buffy eventually made it to the hospital, where she ran into Xander. He told her that Willow was in a coma. Cordelia arrived and said that she bravely ran away from the battle. They quickly figured out that Giles was unaccounted for.

Buffy went to Giles's apartment and ran into Whistler. She got the idea that he might have useful information, but she quickly lost patience with his jokes and rough imitation of Angel's "cryptic guy" act from the first season.

She left Giles's apartment and wandered around. A police officer stopped her and was about to arrest her when Spike knocked him unconscious. He proposed a temporary alliance with Buffy in order to save the world and get Drusilla back from Angel.

At Willow's bedside, Xander was telling Willow how much she meant to him, only to have her wake up and ask for Oz, who just arrived.

Buffy and Spike arrived at her house just as Joyce did. She was a little upset after having been questioned regarding Buffy as a suspect in Kendra's killings. She was even more upset when a vampire ambushed them. Buffy staked the vampire and was then forced to confess to Joyce that she was a vampire slayer. Spike and Joyce sat very uncomfortably in the living room while Buffy received an update from Willow and Xander. She told them that, at dawn, she was going to raid the mansion where Angel held Giles. She neglected to say who was going to back her up, just that she did not need Xander.

Spike offered a basic deal: he would help Buffy beat Angel in exchange for he and Drusilla being allowed to leave town. Buffy did not want to spare Drusilla, but Spike would not budge. Buffy agreed on the condition that Spike ensure that Giles is not killed.

Joyce was relieved to hear that Buffy did not kill Kendra, but was upset with the idea of Buffy being the slayer. Joyce thought that Buffy should stay and have a talk about this, but Buffy thought that it was more important to save the world instead.

At the hospital, Willow got the idea that she should try to curse Angel again. Xander was opposed, but everyone seemed to go along with the idea. Cordelia and Oz went to the library to fetch supplies while Xander was sent to tell Buffy to hold off on killing Angel until Willow could complete the spell.

Angel was having fun torturing Giles, who was still not broken. Rather than allow the torture to continue, Spike had Drusilla hypnotize Giles and impersonate Jenny to get Giles to reveal exactly why Angel was not able to pull the sword out of Acathla. Apparently, Angel needed his own blood on his hands rather than that of a random victim.

Buffy went to the library to fetch a sword that Kendra brought with her. Principal Snyder met her there and told her that she was expelled even though he knew that she did not murder Kendra. Buffy was concerned with more important matters. She then went to see Whistler, who told her that only Angel's blood will close the mouth of Acathla if it opens.

Xander caught up with her as she was about to raid the mansion where Angel, Drusilla and Spike were hiding. He was about to tell Buffy about what Willow was planning, but decided instead to tell her to kick Angel's rear end. Buffy let him tag along only to carry Giles out.

Angel started the ritual to awaken Acathla, but was interrupted when Buffy arrived and beheaded a minion vampire. Angel started to get self-confident until Spike rose out of his chair and started beating on Angel. Drusilla got upset and attacked Spike while Buffy went after the other minion vampire and Xander rescued Giles. Just as Buffy staked the minion, Angel pulled the sword out of Acathla.

Angel and Buffy started a sword fight while Spike managed to strangle Drusilla unconscious and carry her away. Angel was getting the best of Buffy when he started to get arrogant and gloat. This gave Buffy the chance to recover and gain the advantage.

Meanwhile, Willow, Oz, and Cordelia started the curse. Willow was very weak until she suddenly started channeling someone or something and spoke Romanian. With this new found strength, Willow was able to finish the curse.

Angel's soul returned just as Buffy had the advantage over Angel. She quickly realized that the man she loved had returned, but she knew what she had to do. Acathla's mouth had already opened and was spewing out an orange visual effect. Buffy had time for one last kiss before shoving the sword into Angel and sent both Angel and the sword into Hell.

That morning, Joyce went to Buffy's room to find a note on Buffy's bed. It obviously did not contain good news. Meanwhile, Buffy watched Xander, Giles, Willow, Oz, and Cordelia talk at the school. They knew that the world did not end and that Acathla was dormant. Willow was also sure that her curse worked. However, they did not know what happened to Buffy or to Angel. The episode ended with Buffy taking a bus out of town.

The Good

I think that most fans realized that the episode would end painfully, but I do not think that fans realized how painfully. Rather than kill the monster with the face of the man Buffy loved, Buffy had to kill the man she loved. (OK, she did not really kill him, just sent him bodily into Hell. However, she will later refer to this as killing him.) It took a lot of courage to do this story line.

The Bad

We did not need Principal Snyder to tell us that the Sunnydale police were "deeply stupid." It was clear from their actions. It is nice that Joss Whedon seems to understand that they are stupid rather than thinking that police would act this way, but we could use smarter police.

Overall Rank: 8

Action: 8

When Buffy raided the mansion, she took out a couple of vampires while Spike was beating on Angel. Spike then strangled Drusilla while Buffy and Angel had a long sword fight.

Comedy: 2

Buffy and Spike's description of their alleged band was amusing, and there were a handful of good one-liners. Otherwise, there was little comedy.

Drama: 10

Buffy was forced to tell her mother than she was a vampire slayer. This led to an argument that ended when Buffy walked out.

Buffy was forced to send Angel to Hell even after he reverted back to the man she loved.

Even the Mutant Enemy needed a hug after this episode.

Romance: 3

For most of the episode, there were few romantic moments. At the end, there was a brief, but important moment when Buffy realized that Angel reverted to being the man she loved.

Character Development: 6

Spike was so determined to pry Drusilla away from Angel that he was even willing to collaborate with Buffy. He is also too happy in the world to want to see it end.

Joyce now knows that Buffy is a vampire slayer and is not happy about that.

Buffy is becoming overwhelmed by her responsibilities and other stressors. After having to send Angel to Hell, she decided to run away from Sunnydale.

Importance: 9

This episode resolved many of the issues of the second season and sets up a couple of cliffhangers for the third season.

Most Valuable Player: Buffy

This is the last episode of the season and Xander, Spike, and Buffy fought hard for this award. It is unclear whether Xander's words helped bring Willow out of her coma, or if it was coincidence that she woke as he told her he loved her. Either interpretation is valid. Xander also rescued Giles and even managed to get a good punch in against a minion vampire despite a broken arm.

Spike showed uncharacteristic patience in waiting for the opportunity to take on Angel. Despite all of his instincts, he allied himself with a slayer to make it happen. He managed to take Angel out for enough time for Buffy to take out the minion vampires. He then took Drusilla out of the fight and managed to save her. It is unclear how she will react when she wakes, but Spike accomplished all that the set out to do.

However, Buffy dominated to take the final MVP of season 2. For much of the latter half of the season, Buffy has not been able to defeat Angel, not because he bested her physically, but because she psychologically could not bring herself to killing him even though he turned into a monster. In this episode, she was able to send him to Hell despite the fact that he had reverted back to the man that she loved.

Sherlock Holmes Award: Spike

Nobody really figured out much in this episode. However, Spike did recognize that he needed to ally with Buffy in order to defeat Angel and get Drusilla away, so he gets this award for the episode. Drusilla gets credit for tricking Giles into revealing why Angel was not worthy.

Goat of the Week: Angel

Angel gets this award for stopping and gloating when he had the advantage over Buffy. Had he finished her off, he could have succeeded in his goal of awakening Acathla and sending the world to Hell. Instead, he alone was sent to Hell.

Random Commentary

I noticed that the opening of this episode was careful not to show Kendra's body, thus not having to pay Bianca Lawson for an extra episode appearance.

The teaser gave very ample evidence for Principal Snyder's statement that the police are deeply stupid. Any professional police officer would understand that a person would be upset in Buffy's position. They were right to try to get her out of library, but they should have been more understanding. Furthermore, even with Principal Snyder's comments about Buffy being a troublemaker, there was no cause to arrest her. Instead, they should want to keep her for questioning. Finally, Buffy was not an immediate threat to anyone, so the use of deadly force was completely uncalled for. Later, they continued to investigate Buffy for murder even though there were eyewitnesses (i.e., Xander and Willow) who could testify that she was not responsible.

It must be bad enough for Buffy's close friends to know what happened that caused Angel to lose his soul. It must be even more embarrassing that strangers like Whistler know what Buffy and Angel did before he lost his soul.

I am proud to say that I questioned the wisdom of sending all life on Earth to Hell before Spike did, or at least before Spike said so to Buffy. After the initial thrill of sending every living thing to eternal torment, Angel and Drusilla might get hungry. Then, they would discover that they just wiped out their entire food supply. Drusilla is insane, but I do not know what Angel's excuse is.

"Kick His Ass:" A Defense of Xander's Lie

For a very long time (and perhaps to this day), fans have been furious at Xander for telling Buffy that Willow wanted to tell her to "Kick his [Angel's] ass" rather than telling Buffy that Willow wanted Buffy to stall while Willow attempted to curse Angel. Unlike the dilemma on whether to kill or curse Angel, there was a course of action that Xander should have done. It just happens to be the one that 95% of the audience disagreed with.

Most of the people who object to Xander's actions do so on emotional grounds. They focus on their affection for Angel and their desire to see him restored to what he used to be. They think that Buffy could have stalled for time if she knew what Willow was planning.

There was no reason to think that Willow would be able to pull off the spell. Angel killed Jenny when she tried to restore his soul. When Willow first tried to restore his soul, Drusilla and her minions killed Kendra and seriously hurt Willow, Giles, and Xander. Even if the characters had no reason to link attempts to cast the spell with attacks, there was no reason to think that Willow was strong enough to cast the spell when she had never cast a spell nearly as powerful as this one.

As the slayer, it has been Buffy's responsibility to take out vampires, demons, and other supernatural threats to humanity. Most of the time, she was very good at her job. However, when the opponent happened to be an ex-boyfriend, her emotions hampered her fighting ability. This problem first manifested in "Innocence" when she was unable to bring herself to kill Angel in the shopping mall. Other than general patrolling, she never went on the offensive against him as the bodies piled up. She never raided the factory until Giles did so, and she never tried to beat up Willie the Snitch to find out where Angel moved to afterward.

Furthermore, things have gotten a lot worse. Instead of merely killing individual people, Angel decided that he wanted to suck all life on Earth into eternal torment. Fortunately, Buffy had finally gotten to the point where she felt that she could bring herself to stake Angel. She could finally do her job again.

The last thing that Buffy needed was a distraction. Even though she was completely focused on defeating Angel and even though Spike provided valuable assistance, Buffy failed to prevent Angel from opening Acathla's mouth and barely managed to get Angel into a position to close the mouth. If Buffy knew that Willow was planning to return Angel's soul, she might have lost her focus, with disastrous results.

The few nonemotional arguments against Xander's action suggest that, had Buffy could have held back in her fight with Angel if she had known that Willow was planning to return his soul. However, even when fighting all out, she barely contained Angel and was unable to prevent him from opening Acathla's mouth. Furthermore, it is possible that Angel was holding back. Angel probably wanted to see Buffy sucked into hell. Had he killed her, hers might have been one of the very last souls to see Heaven (assuming that Heaven exists in the Buffyverse). Admittedly, he probably would not have objected to her being maimed first, which would have been a real possibility if Buffy were not fully committed to defeating Angel. A maimed Buffy would not be able to overcome Angel and save the world.

I am willing to concede that Xander might not have had the best of intentions when he told the lie. For a long time, he resented the fact that Buffy preferred Angel, a vampire, instead of him. Going evil, trying to kill Willow, and killing Jenny Calendar did nothing to endear Angel to Xander. It is very possible, perhaps even likely, that Xander simply wanted Buffy to dispose of Angel. However, regardless of his motive, Xander's actions were morally sound. He did what he needed to do to help save the world.

DVD Extras

Interview with Joss Whedon Joss Whedon talked about how he was impressed with Sarah Michelle Gellar's ability with a sword.

Memorable Dialogue

"OK, that was about equal parts protecting me and copping a feel, right?" Buffy

"I want to torture you. I used to love it, and it's been a long time. I mean, the last time I tortured somebody, they didn't even have chain saws." Angel

"If you have information worth hearing, then I am grateful for it. If you're gonna crack jokes, then I'm gonna pull out your ribcage and wear it as a hat." Buffy

"We like to talk big, vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' It's just tough-guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You've got dog racing, Manchester United, and you've got people, billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here. But then, someone comes along with the vision, with a real passion for destruction. Angel could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly; farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm saying?" Spike

"The whole Earth may be sucked into Hell, and you want to help because your girlfriend's a big ho? Well, let me take this opportunity to not care." Buffy

"Come on, Will. Look, you don't have a choice here. You gotta wake up. I need you, Will. I mean, how am I gonna pass trig, you know, and who am I gonna call every night and talk about everything we did all day? You're my best friend. You've always... I love you." Xander

"Have we met?" Joyce
"You hit me with an ax one time. Remember 'Get the hell away from my daughter?'" Spike

"Dru bagged a slayer!?! She didn't tell me. Hey, good for her. Though, not from your perspective, I suppose." Spike

"No, it doesn't stop. It never stops. Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or, God, even studying, but I have to save the world again." Buffy

"You don't look OK, does she?" Xander
"You should listen to him. The hair, it's so flat, and the lips..." Cordelia

"OK, I pretty much missed out on some stuff, didn't I, because this is all making a kind of sense that's not." Oz

"In order to be worthy, you must perform the ritual in a tutu, Pillock!" Giles

"Since when did you become so levelheaded?" Angel
"Right about the time you became so pigheaded. You have your way with him; you'll never get to destroy the world, and I don't fancy spending the next month trying to get librarian out of the carpet." Spike

"You do know this is a crime scene, don't you? But then, you're a criminal, so that pretty much works out." Principal Snyder
"You know I didn't do it. The police will figure it out." Buffy
"In case you haven't noticed, the police of Sunnydale are deeply stupid. It doesn't matter anyway. Whatever they find, you've proved too much of a liability for this school. These are the moments you want to savor. You wish time would stop so that you could live them over and over again. You're expelled." Principal Snyder
"You never ever got a single date in high school, did you?" Buffy

"Raiding an Englishman's fridge is like dating a nun. You're never gonna get the good stuff." Whistler

"Cavalry's here. Cavalry's a frightened guy with a rock, but it's here." Xander

"Willow, she told me to tell you..." Xander
"Tell me what?" Buffy
"Kick his ass." Xander

"It's a trick. They get inside my head, make me see things I want." Giles
"Why would they make you see me? Xander
"Oh, right. Let's go." Giles

"That's everything, huh? No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away, and what's left?" Angel
"Me." Buffy

"We know the world didn't end 'cause check it out." Oz

"Ooo, I need a hug!" Mutant Enemy

Characters in Peril


Evil Escaped

Departed Characters Remembered

Police and Guns

Buffy and the Law

Giles Unconscious

Spoiler Questions

Highlight the space after each question to find the answer. It is strongly recommended that you do not do so if you have not seen episodes through the episode indicated.

This page was last modified on November 11, 2012