April 2, 2022

Buffy 2.21, Becoming, Part 1: Someone Worthy

Posted in TV tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:08 pm by Jenn

A rare glimpse of a pre-Slayer Buffy

Summary: Galway, Ireland, 1753. A guy named Whistler voices over that there are moments in our lives that determine who we’re going to be. Sometimes they’re small and subtle, and sometimes they aren’t. In this particular moment, Angel – still human and known as Liam – is leaving a pub after a night of drunken revelry.

He spots Darla and follows her into an alley. He flirts with her for a while, and she offers to show him things he’s never seen or even heard of. He thinks she means places in the world, but she means, you know, being a vampire. She tells him to close his eyes, then vamps out and bites him. She cuts a line in her chest and makes him drink her blood.

In the present, Angelus looks on as Buffy fights some vampires in a cemetery. She tells one to give Angelus a message: She’s done waiting and is taking the fight to him. But then she stakes the vampire, so he won’t be able to deliver the message. Xander’s also in the cemetery, but a vamp took him out of the fight early on, so Buffy had to handle them all herself. He notes that there have been a lot of vampires around recently. Buffy blames Angelus and says she’s ready to finish things with him. But they’ll have to tackle their finals first. At least it’ll be over soon. From nearby, Angelus agrees.

Giles goes to a Sunnydale history museum to see a man named Doug Perren who asked for an expert on relics. Some construction workers found a big slab of rock with ancient writing on it. Giles takes a sample and alerts Perren to the fact that there’s a seam in the rock, which indicates that it can be opened. He asks Perren to hold off on trying to open it until he’s translated the text on the rock, just to be sure they’re not unleashing something they shouldn’t be.

At lunch at Sunnydale High, Xander reenacts Buffy’s fight with the vamps last night using fishsticks and toothpicks. Oz enjoys it but admits he’s not clear on all the themes. Buffy says one is that Angelus is too much of a coward to face her himself. Xander says another is “buy American.” Willow asks if Buffy’s ready to fight Angelus. Buffy is, and thinks she’ll have more success there than with her finals. Willow is determined to help her pass all her tests (at least the academic kind). Cordelia praises her for testing her skills as a teacher before she goes into the real world. This way she has something to fall forward on instead of back on.

Snyder comes by to bug the Scoobies for showing each other too much affection. Buffy stands up to him, and he challenges her to just give him a reason to kick her out. Willow invites Buffy over that night for an extra study session, but Buffy plans to patrol again. She doesn’t expect Angelus to turn up, but the problem is that he often turns up when she doesn’t think he will.

London, 1860. A human Drusilla goes to confession, unaware that Angelus has just killed the priest on the other side of the confessional. She tells him she’s been having visions again, including one of some miners dying the day before a real cave-in. Her mother thinks she’s cursed and displaying an ability that offends God.

Drusilla desperately says she doesn’t mean to have the visions. She tries to be good; she doesn’t want to be “an evil thing.” Angelus tells her God has a plan for all people, including devil children like her. She’s going to be struck down, so she might as well give in and be evil. Drusilla begs for help, so he tells her to pray and commit an act of contrition. Drusilla’s appeased, but Angelus warns that God is watching her.

In the present, Drusilla tells Spike the moon whispered a bunch of horrible things to her while she was out killing people. Angelus joins them and asks if something is coming. Drusilla says it is – there’s a tomb at the museum with a surprise inside. Spike’s like, “Yeah, that’s not a vision; there’s an article about it in the paper.” Angelus reads about the “mysterious obelisk” Giles was examining earlier. He tells Drusilla the moon will stop whispering to her: “Soon it’ll scream.”

Willow tutors Buffy in Jenny’s classroom, though Buffy doesn’t think there’s a point to learning stuff like chemistry or math or English. When is she going to use any of it in the real world? Willow admonishes her for calling herself stupid. She just needs to spend more time on schoolwork. As they get back to work, Buffy’s pencil rolls off the desk and falls between it and a cabinet – right where Jenny’s computer disk fell. Buffy picks up the pencil, having a flash of déjà vu. She rolls the pencil again, then picks up both it and the disk. Willow puts the disk in the computer and Buffy quickly realizes what’s on it – a way to turn Angelus back into Angel.

Romanian woods, 1898. Angelus’ Romani victim is dead, and a woman is performing the ritual to give Angelus a soul. He runs through the woods as it takes hold. When it’s over, the girl’s father approaches and tells him he’s about to remember every bad thing he’s done over the past 100+ years. Angelus feels shame for the first time since becoming a vampire.

In the present, Buffy and Willow take Jenny’s translated spell to the other Scoobies and tell them that Jenny found a way to restore Angel’s soul. Cordelia’s on board with using it, but Giles says the ritual requires black arts, which he’s not really up on. Willow’s been researching for fun, and she thinks she can handle it. Giles doesn’t want her to channel such powerful magic in case she opens something she can’t close. Willow is aware of the risks but wants to do it anyway.

“Hi! For those of you who’ve just tuned in, everyone here is a crazy person,” Xander speaks up. He doesn’t see the point in giving Angel back his humanity. Why reward a killer and wipe his slate clean? Cordelia sides with him, which he didn’t see coming. Xander says Angelus needs to die. Giles notes that Jenny’s last wish seems to have been to cure him. Xander notes that she’s dead.

The two of them start fighting but Buffy shuts them down. Willow asks her what she wants to do. Buffy isn’t sure. What happened to Angelus wasn’t his fault. Xander replies that what happened to Jenny was. He thinks Buffy wants to forget that Angelus killed her so she can get her boyfriend back. Buffy leaves the library as Willow looks at Xander like she can’t believe who he’s become.

Perren hears whispers at the museum and realizes they’re coming from the obelisk. Drusilla grabs him and drinks from him as Angelus brings in some minions to get the big rock. Buffy stocks up to go out on patrol while talking to Willow on the phone. (Willow is angry with Xander and calls him something we don’t hear but that’s so un-Willow-like, it makes Buffy recoil.) She finds the claddagh ring Angel gave her.

Buffy goes to a cemetery, but instead of finding any vampires, she finds Kendra. Something dark is about to rise in Sunnydale, so Kendra’s Watcher sent her to lend a hand. Angelus and Drusilla take the obelisk home, but Spike isn’t impressed: “It’s a big rock. Can’t wait to tell my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.” Angelus tells him it contains a demon named Acathla. He was supposed to swallow the world, but a knight killed him and he turned to stone. Acathla has been buried ever since, and now they need someone worthy to pull out the sword to wake him up and send the world to Hell. “We’re about to make history…end,” Angelus announces.

In the library, Giles tells Buffy, Willow, and Kendra that Perren is dead and the obelisk is gone. He’s already done his research and knows it’s the tomb of Acathla (not Alfalfa, Buffy). If he’s awoken, Acathla will create a vortex that sucks all non-demon life inside for an eternity of torment. Not to be confused with an eternity of misery. Buffy decides that Willow should do the spell to restore Angel’s soul. Kendra’s on Team Xander here, and Buffy acknowledges that she might have to fight and kill Angelus, but if she can’t or she loses, she wants Willow as backup. As additional backup, Kendra has brought along a sword blessed by the knight who killed Acathla.

Willow needs a little more time to figure out the ritual to restore Angel’s soul. She also needs an Orb of Thesulah. Giles happens to have one; he’s been using it as a paperweight. Willow notes that if she’s working on the ritual, she won’t be able to help Buffy study for her finals. Buffy says she’ll wing it. And if the world goes to Hell, she won’t have to take them anyway. Or maybe her eternal punishment will be taking them forever. Giles says they have some time, since Angelus has to perform a ritual to remove the sword from Acathla.

Spike paces in his room, rushing back to his wheelchair when Drusilla comes to get him. Angelus has found a human he can use for a blood ritual that should make him worthy of pulling the sword out of Acathla. “Bear witness as I ascend…as I become,” Angelus says. He kills the guy and puts blood on his hand as he reaches for the sword, saying everything he’s become has led him here.

Manhattan, 1996. Angel isn’t doing so great. He doesn’t want to feed on humans, so he’s left with rats in an alley. Whistler finds him and tells him this isn’t a good look for him. He knows who Angel is and that he has a soul. He introduces himself and says he’s a demon, but not a bad one. He wants Angel to know that he can become someone. Angel wants to be left alone, but Whistler knows he’s been on his own for almost 100 years, and it’s not going well for him. He wants to show Angel something.

Well, really, he wants to show Angel someone. Whistler takes him to L.A., where Buffy is still an ordinary teenager unburdened by the knowledge that she’s the Slayer or that vampires exist. Merrick (not played by Donald Sutherland here) approaches her and tells her she needs to come with him to learn about her destiny. She’s the Chosen One, the only one who can stop the vampires. “Huh?” Buffy replies.

He takes her on patrol that night, but it doesn’t go well. He’s basically throwing her to the wolves, but the wolves are vampires. Angelus watches as she misses a vampire’s heart on her first try at staking him. But when she finally gets him, Merrick tells her that now she can see her power. Buffy goes home, where Joyce is curious about where she was. Buffy lies that she was with a guy. Joyce is disappointed that her daughter is so irresponsible. This leads to an argument with Hank, one of many Buffy’s parents have been having lately.

Angel watches from outside as Buffy cries alone in her bathroom. Whistler tells him that she has a rough road ahead of her. Angel announces that he wants to help her. He wants to become someone. Whistler comments that this Slayer must be prettier than the last one. He warns that it won’t be easy. Angel will see how separate he is from the world. And he’ll have to get himself together, because he won’t be any good to Buffy in the state he’s in. Angel says he’s ready to learn from Whistler, but he doesn’t want to dress like him. Heh.

In the present, Angelus continues his ritual to awaken Acathla. He grabs the hilt of the sword, but it doesn’t budge. “Someone wasn’t worthy,” Spike sing-songs. Drusilla is disappointed and distressed. Angelus tells her they’ll have to turn to an old friend like they always do when they need help. He promises they’ll still have their armageddon.

As Buffy takes an exam, a vampire comes to her classroom and gives her a verbal invitation (well, demand, really) to meet Angelus in the cemetery that night. If she doesn’t, more people will die. The vampire removes her cloak so the sunlight burns her. How do you think Snyder and Police Chief Bob will explain that to the people of Sunnydale?

In the library, Buffy tells the Scoobies she’s going to do what Angelus demanded. Kendra volunteers to tag along, but Buffy wants her to stay back just in case. She notes that if Angelus is fighting her, he can’t do anything with Acathla. It’s time to do the spell to restore his soul, whether Willow’s ready or not. Willow needs about half an hour for the spell, so Buffy will have to fight Angelus that long to stall him. Cordelia thinks she should stay in the library for a while and let Angelus find her, but Buffy doesn’t want him to hurt anyone else. As she leaves, Kendra hands over her lucky stake in case Buffy needs it. It’s called Mr. Pointy.

In the cemetery, Angelus greets Buffy with, “Hello, lover.” She comments that she thought he would be too busy to fight her, what with “pulling the sword out of Al Franken or whatever.” He says he wanted to see her one last time; she’s the only thing on Earth he’ll actually miss. “This is a beautiful moment we’re having. Can we please fight?” Buffy asks. Angelus jokes that he came to get back together. Never mind, they can fight.

The Scoobies start the restoration ritual as Buffy and Angelus fight. Vampires invade the library, and though Kendra takes care of herself fine, Willow ends up under a bookcase a vampire pushes over onto her, and Xander gets his arm broken. Cordelia’s frozen in fear until Xander tells her to run. In the cemetery, Angelus says Buffy’s heart doesn’t seem to be in this. Maybe he’ll just go destroy the world already. She tells him she’s ready to finish this. “This wasn’t about you,” he tells her. “This was never about you. And you fall for it every single time!” She realizes what’s happening and takes off running.

Drusilla enters the library and calls an end to the fighting. She faces off with Kendra, eventually overpowering her. She puts Kendra in a trance, then slashes her throat with her fingernail. Drusilla tells her minions to get what they came for: Giles.

Buffy’s race to the school goes slow-motion. Whistler voices over that even when you see big moments coming, you’re not ready for them. No one asks for their life to change, but it does. Buffy reaches the library and finds Kendra’s body. Whistler asks if we’re helpless or just puppets. No. We can’t control the big moments, but what’s important is what happens after them. That’s when we find out who we are. Behind Buffy, a police officer points his gun at her and yells for her to freeze. “You’ll see what I mean,” Whistler says.

Thoughts: Enough has already been said about David Boreanaz’s Irish accent so I won’t pile on.

Even now, years after first seeing this episode, Buffy finding the computer disk gives me a little thrill.

I accidentally typed 1989 instead of 1898 as the date of the Romanian flashback, and now I really want to see 1980s Angel.

More on Whistler here.


  1. Deja said,

    I maintain that Buffy was a rude arse to Kendra (who was only doing her job); if the shoe was on the other foot, Buffy would’ve given Kendra hard time about being involved w/ a vampire too

    Did Dru lick up all of Kendra’s blood before Buffy found her body????

  2. Myriam said,

    I think this is my fav Buffy ep ever, even more than Becoming pt. 2!

    I always thought the pencil rolling/Buffy finding Jenny’s disk was a bit odd. Was the “I’m having a déjà vu” moment some sort of Slayer premonition? Probably just clumsy writing, but I don’t understand why she couldn’t just naturally drop a pencil and then find the disk when retrieving the pencil.

    I didn’t read the comics, interesting to read all that backstory info on the Buffy wiki page… I wonder why they didn’t simply keep the character of Whistler and the same actor for the Angel TV show? I always thought it was weird that it was a Doyle was similar character as Whistler. Had assumed it was because the Whistler actor wasn’t available to reprise the role, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case.

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