Sunday, September 04, 2011
I wanted to watch "Becoming" when I knew I'd have time to watch both episodes at once, and then August happened and here we are. But it was worth the wait. I don't want to declare a favorite episode until I finish the series again, and I know there are some amazing ones in Season 3, but this has always been one of my top choices, especially for the pure emotional impact of the ending. But I'd forgotten how funny parts of it are, mostly thanks to Willow ("Are we experiencing a chair shortage?" "I haven't read about— oh.") and Spike ("It's a big rock. I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big."). I love Xander's anger, which has evolved nicely from jealousy to making some really valid points about Angel. It's great to see Darla again (that turned into a surprisingly long gig for Julie Benz).
There's some bad: The accents, the flashback wigs, Willow's hospital scrub/pajama/what the hell is that? dress (seriously, when she actually is in hospital scrubs, it could totally be her clothes). Whistler bugs me like really a lot with his stupid hat and his stupider accent. Are we meant to believe that Angel has been a crazy homeless guy for 100 years? The awkward retconning of the Buffy movie, and the slightly creepy revelation that Angel was stalking her for over a year.
But I'm searching for quibbles, really, and all of that goes up in smoke like an immolation-o-gram ("And you fall for it every single time!") with how good this episode is. It's a perfect end to the season and all that the characters have been through, while laying the groundwork for amazing things to come. Joyce finds out that Buffy's the slayer ("I mean, have you tried not being a slayer?"). Willow does witchcraft (it's the first time, right?), Spike and Buffy form an uneasy alliance ("I like the world.... Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs."). Xander tells Willow he loves her (and she calls for Oz). Our second mention of the Mayor. Everything feels completely earned, if not inevitable. We've been building not just to the big finish but to all the little moments in these episodes all year. All series, really. One of the things I've always loved about this show is how the characters keep growing and changing, almost always in believable ways.
It's such a downer ending. It makes sense - everyone's done a lot of growing up this year, and the stakes seem much higher than they did with the Master. But it's a little funny knowing there are five more near apocalypses to come.
Serious props to Christophe Beck for the score in this episode too. The music on early Buffy can feel a little cheap, a little original Star Trek fight musicy. But to this day I can't hear "Close Your Eyes" on my iPod without welling up a little.
Speaking of "Close Your Eyes," I must have seen the end of these episodes way more than I've seen the beginning, because (I'm a little embarrassed to admit this) I never realized before that Darla says "Close your eyes" to Angel before she kills him, just as Buffy does before she...kills him again. Yay rewatch!
Grrr argh guy needs a hug!