Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Season 2 Episode 21

Becoming, Part 1 (1)

Aired Tuesday 8:00 PM May 12, 1998 on The WB
out of 10
User Rating
769 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


Through flashbacks, we see much of Angel's history. We see him sired by Darla in 1753, driving Drusilla mad and then siring her in 1860, and being cursed with a soul by the Kalderash clan in 1898. In the present, Angelus hatches a plan to awaken the demon Acathla, who will open a gateway to a hell dimension, and bring Hell to Earth.


Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
  • Becoming, Part 1 (1)

    The end of the season is finally upon us! What a fantastic finale! This episode has quite different goals than part two though. The highlight of the proceedings are the stunning sequences in earlier time periods where we learn how the players 'became' who they are today. The associated people are Angel, Drusilla, and Buffy. There is also important and interesting backstory that really ties things together. The other standout moment was the entire fight in the library and Buffy's frantic run back to the school.

    The history sequences are so important to this episode I'm going to cover each one of them in some detail. It all begins with Angel who we find out, as a human in 1753, was a bit of a womanizer and a drunk, but an innocent drunk. He spots Darla and in a drunken stuper says, "show me you world." This sequence is beautifully shot and when Darla bleeds her chest and makes Angel drink from it a powerful music cue swells over top. This music continues throughout the rest of the introduction where Angelus is watching Buffy fight from afar.

    Next, in 1860, we see a human Drusilla in a church attempting to repent for her 'sins.' She goes into the confessional to talk with the priest, only the priest is being killed by Angelus. Drusilla then talks to Angelus thinking he's the priest and reveals that she has visions. Angelus uses this opportunity to start poisoning her mind and telling her she's a devil child and should just give in to evil. He then ends the conversation by telling Drusilla, "god is watching you." This is really quite creepy because Angelus thinks of himself as god over Drusilla from this point on. After this he goes on to kill off her entire family, throw at her every form of mental torture known to man, and then turn her into a vampire on the day she was to become a nun! This is why she's completely insane now.

    In 1898 we see Angelus being punished for killing the beloved girl of a Gypsy clan with the restoration of his soul. We can see that at first he doesn't remember anything he'd done (this happens again in "Becoming Pt. 2" [2x22]). Thus begins Angel's reign of isolation and brooding (though not quite yet as we find out in AtS S2 episode "Darla"). Angel soon after fled to America where he hung around doing much of nothing for a good many years.

    Then, in 1996, Whistler (a character who was to have been the demon with the visions on AtS, but didn't because of casting issues) convinces him to check out the new Slayer who just got called in Los Angeles. In this fantastic sequence we see Buffy's first watcher, Merrick, explaining to her that she is the Slayer. The scene in Buffy's bathroom where she's crying while her parents are arguing is really heartbreaking, especially since we know that she gets expelled from her school and her parents divorce. Angel hides in the background as Buffy fights her first vampire. She seems to have made quite the impression on Angel, so he heads back to Whistler and agrees to help this Slayer. All of this sets up Angel's character for when Buffy first meets him in the pilot, "Welcome to the Hellmouth" (1x01). This new information connects with Angel's S1 arc perfectly and is simply really cool to know.

    All of that's a lot of really useful backstory on some of the characters and is incredibly enjoyable to see. This brings us back to the current situation: Angelus is trying to bring forth the demon Acathla to suck all living life into hell. Here's where my only only complaint of this episode is. That complaint is the plot is kind of stupid. Why would Angelus want every living thing sucked into hell? There would be nothing to eat if that happened! Pretty dumb plan. The only reason why I'm not going to make a bigger deal out of this is because it acts as a fantastic catalyst for character development and overall forward plot movement in the grand scheme of the series. They could have had a better plot, but I can forgive the stupidity of the plan because of its effect on all the characters. I suppose you could explain it by saying Angelus has gone completely insane, but then he still comes across as a bit out of character. His torturing antics are far scarier than this.

    There are a couple big character scenes in the middle of all the chaos. The most notable one is the big library encounter after Buffy and Willow discover the Spell of Restoration on that floppy disk left on the ground in "Passion" (2x17). This propagates the confusing question of whether they should even try to restore Angel's soul rather than simply killing him for what he's done. The big outburst between Xander and Giles is particularly powerful as Giles is inclined to restore Angel's soul because it appears to be what Jenny died for. Buffy is pretty much just confused with the whole situation and isn't sure what to do, at first.

    In the same scene, Xander lays the harsh reality onto Buffy when he says, "You can paint this any way you want. But the way I see it is that you wanna forget all about Ms. Calendar's murder so you can get your boyfriend back." Willow can't believe she heard Xander say that as she can somewhat understand Buffy's emotional state. This comment creates quite the wedge between Buffy and Xander which appears in "Dead Man's Party" (3x02).

    The end of this episode is utterly superb and is the perfect lead-in for part two. Angelus is being smart again and uses his knowledge gained in "When She Was Bad" (2x01) against Buffy. He lures her away from the library so the vampires can capture Giles, and then tells her about the plan after he knows his vampires are done, thus leaving him free to torture Giles. The vampire attack at the library is suitably brutal. Xander's arm is snapped, Willow is put in a coma, Giles is knocked out then caputured, and Kendra's throat is slit by Drusilla. All of this chaos culminates in Buffy's frantic run through the town to get back to the school. The slow motion part as she turns the corner into the school hallway with Whistler's voice over about the "big moments" (see final quote below) is heartbreaking.

    My final judgement on this episode is that it introduces great backstory, puts a lot of main characters in danger, kills Kendra thus enabling the activation of Faith (a much better character), and is extremely entertaining. It only misses the coveted P score because of Angelus' stupidity in wanting to bring forth Acathla.moreless
  • Stand by for a great finale

    Becoming pt1

    The Good;

    The glimpses of Liam and Drusilla in their human forms are just too tragic for words, especially Dru. Good scenes with Whistler and of course Kendra back. Angelus' suicide telegram for Buffy (would they allow that post 9/11?). Snyder's chair shortage gag

    The Bad;

    David's accent. Where is it supposed to be from exactly? Are they after his lucky charms?

    Best line;

    Spike; "It's a big rock. Can't wait to tell my friends, they don't have a rock this big"

    Wheldon Cliches;

    Character death; yep, byebye Kendra, making it one recurring character dead every 8 eps or so. A shame to lose her but I think most would agree that Faith is better as both a character and a Slayer. And if she hadn't died? I figure Faith would have turned up as one of the potentials in season 7 and she rather than Kennedy would have hooked up with Willow.

    Knocked out; yep, Xander, Willow and Giles

    Questions and observations;

    We get to see pre-Slayer Buffy in LA and a different version of Merrick. In this version Buffy does indeed miss the heart first time out as she later tells Dawn. The 'Do you know what time it is?' line is very clever, the same words as Joyce says in the movie but with a completely different meaning. Presumably Angel as a tramp is following the diner incident in the 70s we later see in season 4 of Angel. Willow once again play's the bashful virgin for comic effect. Whistler's 'puppets' speech is interesting when you consider Jasmine manipulating the Fang Gang over the course of Angel. Willow attempts her first spell.

    10/10 no contest

  • Becoming, Part 1

    Becoming, Part 1 was another perfectly Classic episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I really enjoyed watching the flash backs into the times when Angel was turned into a vampire by Darla. These types of flash backs are awesome and really add to the characters. I also enjoy watching the deliciously mad Druscilla in action as well. This is a great second to last episode of the second season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also enjoyed the narration by Oz, or Seth Green. It was also sad to see the end of Kendra, the other Vampire Slayer. However this means that there will be a new slayer appearing at some point! I look forward to seeing what happens to wrap the second season up!!!moreless
  • Season 2, Episode 21.

    Angel's past is revealed through flashbacks, such as when he was sired by Darla and when he sired Drusilla. In the present, however, Angelus tries to bring Hell to Earth.

    Angel looked incredibly sexy in the flashbacks, especially the first one. Rawr. I didn't realize that most of the scenes I've seen already have already happened in this episode. Drusilla's confession was one of them, and Buffy and Willow finding the Restoration spell was another. Sarah Michelle Gellar is a really good actress and she is beautiful, too. Not a bad episode at all. I kinda liked that all those flashbacks were included, but at the same time some weren't needed. Awesome episode. :)moreless
  • Great flashbacks! Awesome episode!

    This was an awesome episode leading to an even better finale. The flashbacks in this episode did so much to enrich the Buffy lore with backstory elements that fans had been wishing for. I also loved Spike and Drusilla in this episode. Spike had a couple of very funny lines, and you start to feel for him as he watches Angel interact with Drusilla. It was also nice to see the character of Darla come back in a flashback. She hadn't appeared in the Buffy universe since the middle of the first season. This episode has almost everything. It has great drama, humor and action. All it's missing is romance and a small portion of that is coming up in Becoming, Part II.moreless
Shannon Welles

Shannon Welles

Gypsy woman

Guest Star

Zitto Kazann

Zitto Kazann

Gypsy man

Guest Star

Ginger Williams

Ginger Williams


Guest Star

Seth Green (I)

Seth Green (I)


Recurring Role

Kristine Sutherland

Kristine Sutherland

Joyce Summers

Recurring Role

Julie Benz

Julie Benz


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Nitpick: At the very beginning of this episode the flashback in which Angel is sired by Darla is said to take place in 1753. However, in the episode "Halloween" when Willow and Buffy are looking through the Watcher's Diary, Willow finds an entry dated 1775 and Buffy says that Angel was eighteen and still human at that date.

    • Giles mentions that the Orb of Thessela he has is being used as a paper weight, a clever take back to "Passion" where the magic shop owner said he had sold some orbs as new age paperweights.

    • When Angel first meets Buffy, in "Welcome to the Hellmouth" he says that he'd thought she'd be taller, making it seem as if he'd never seen her before, however, in this episode we see flashbacks of Angel watching Buffy in L.A., well before he meets her in Sunnydale. Although it could be said that since he never saw her up close, he couldn't accurately estimate her height. He also says he thought she'd at least have bigger muscles, but in a tone that sounds like he is joking or lying. This could be to cover up the fact that he has been watching her for months.

    • Goof: When Kendra gets killed by Drusilla, Dru slits Kendra's throat open with her finger nail. Then Kendra grabs her throat and there is only a drop of blood, although when the scene comes back to her at the very end there is clearly no blood on the floor at all.

    • In the flashback to 1996 the school building Buffy is seen leaving with her friends appears to be the same building used as Hill Valley City Hall in the Back to the Future films.

    • Goof: At the start of the attack at the library the wall clock says the time is 7:12. Despite the fact that the attack lasted several minutes, at the end as the vampires drag Giles out of the library the clock still says its 7:12.

    • As cool as the scene where the messenger vampire sets herself aflame while delivering Angelus's message to Buffy, it seems strange that a vampire would commit ritual suicide in the service of another vampire--vampires on the show tending to be pretty self-serving. One possible explanation for her behavior is that she was hypnotized by Drusilla.

    • Nitpick: The scene of young Buffy staking her first vamp takes place in a cemetery that is obviously the same as the one in Sunnydale (otherwise known as the backlot of our beloved show).

    • Goof: When Darla cuts herself with her fingernail, you can clearly see that she is just dragging her finger along her chest, and not actually cutting herself.

    • Goof: When Willow gets the bookcase shoved onto her, in the first shot we see it land right on her back, however in the second shot we see the case right on her head.

  • QUOTES (23)

    • Willow: This means I can't help you study for tomorrow's final.
      Buffy: Eh, I'll wing it. Of course, if we go to hell by then, I won't have to take them... or maybe I'll be taking them forever.

    • Buffy: (picking up a pencil and a computer disk) Oh, hey. You dropped this.
      Willow: (putting the disk into the computer) It's not mine. It might be something of Ms. Calendar's.
      Buffy: This feels kinda morbid.
      Willow: I've gone through most of her files already.
      Buffy: Does that make this less morbid or you really morbid?
      Willow: I had to. To teach her class.

    • 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.
      Buffy: No?
      Angelus: Gosh, I was hoping we could get back together. What do you think? Do we have a shot...? Alright. We'll fight.

    • 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.

    • Merrick: There isn't much time, you must come with me. Your destiny awaits.
      Buffy: I don't have a destiny. I'm destiny free, really.
      Merrick: Yes you have. You are the Chosen One. You alone can stop them.
      Buffy: Who?
      Merrick: The vampires.
      Buffy: Huh?

    • Whistler: She's gonna have it tough, that Slayer. She's just a kid. The world's full of big, bad things.
      Angel: I want to help her. I want... I want to become someone.
      Whistler: God, jeez, look at you. She must be prettier than the last Slayer. This isn't gonna be easy. The more you live in this world, the more you see how apart from it you really are. And this is dangerous work. Right now, you couldn't go three rounds with a fruit fly!
      Angel: I want to learn from you.
      Whistler: Alright.
      Angel: But I don't want to dress like you.
      Whistler: Again, you're annoying me. You're lucky we need you on our side.

    • Buffy: Then Willow might be our only hope.
      Willow: I don't wanna be our only hope. I crumble under pressure. Let's have another hope.

    • Xander: Hi! For those of you who've 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.

    • Angelus : Tonight were're gonna make history... end.

    • Kendra: This is my lucky stake, I've killed many vampires with it. I call it Mr. Pointy.
      Buffy: You named your stake?
      Kendra: Yes.
      Buffy: Remind me to get you a stuffed animal.

    • Buffy: So I'm, like, "Dad, you want me to go to the dance in an outfit I've already worn? Why do you hate me?"

    • Cordelia: (about Snyder) How about because you're a tiny, impotent Nazi with a bug up his butt the size of an emu?

    • Cordelia: I think it's great to do that before you go out and fail in the real world. That way you're not falling back on something, you're falling, well, forward.
      Xander: And almost 65% of that was actual compliment. Is that a personal best?
      Cordelia: Gee Xander, what are you gonna teach when you fail in life? Advanced loser being?
      Xander: I will teach zee language of love!
      Cordelia: Don't touch me! You have fish hands!

    • Xander: (using his fish sticks as puppets) Tell Angel I'm gonna kill him. No wait! I'm gonna kill you! Die! Die! Die! Ahhh!! Thunk. Mother?
      Cordelia: That's it?
      Xander: That's it. Scene.
      Buffy: It's exactly how it happened.
      Oz: I thought it was riveting. I was a little unclear about some of the themes.
      Buffy: The theme is Angel's too much of a coward to take me on face to face.
      Xander: The other theme was Buy American, but it got kinda buried.

    • Angelus: What did the moon tell you? Did you have a vision? Is something coming?
      Drusilla: Oh, Yeah! Something terrible, pss, pss, pss.
      Angelus: Where?
      Drusilla: At the museum. A tomb… with a surprise inside.
      Angelus: You can see that all in your head?
      Spike: No, you ninny. She read it in the paper.

    • Spike: Nice walk, pet?
      Drusilla: I met an old man, didn't like him. He got stuck in my teeth.

    • Spike: It's a Big rock. I can't wait to tell my friends. They don't have a rock this big.

    • Drusilla: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been two days since my last confession. Father?
      Angelus: That's not very long.
      Drusilla: Oh, Father, I'm so afraid.
      Angelus: The Lord is very forgiving. Tell me your sins.
      Drusilla: I had … I've been seeing again, Father. Yesterday, the men were going to work in the mine. I had … a terrible fright. My stomach all tied up, and I saw this horrible … crash. My mummy said to keep my peace, it didn't mean nothing. But this morning … they had a cave-in. Two men died.
      Angelus: Go on.
      Drusilla: My mum says … I'm cursed. My seeing things is an affront to the Lord, that only he's supposed to see anything before it happens. But I don't mean to, Father, I swear! I swear! I try to be pure in his sight. I don't want to be an evil thing.
      Angelus: Oh, hush, child. The Lord has a plan for all creatures. Even a Devil child like you.
      Drusilla: A Devil?
      Angelus: Yes! You're a spawn of Satan. All the Hail Marys in the world aren't going to help. The Lord will use you and smite you down. He's like that.
      Drusilla: What can I do?
      Angelus: Fulfill his plan, child. Be evil. Just give in.
      Drusilla: No! I want to be good. I want to be pure.
      Angelus: We all do, at first. The world doesn't work that way.
      Drusilla: Father … I beg you … Please … Please, help me.
      Angelus: Very well. Ten Our Fathers and an Act of Contrition. Does that sound good?
      Drusilla: Yes. Yes, Father. Thank you.
      Angelus: The pleasure was mine. And my child...
      Drusilla: Yes?
      Angelus: God is watching you.

    • Angelus: There are moments in your life that make you, that set the course of who you're gonna be. Sometimes they're little, subtle moments. Sometimes... they're not. I'll show you what I mean.

    • Buffy: You know, polite people call before they jump out of the bushes and attack you.
      Kendra: Just wanted to test your reflexes.
      Buffy: How about testing my face-punching? 'Cuz I think you'll find it's improved.

    • Snyder: These public displays of affection are not acceptable in my
      school. This isn't an orgy, people. It's a classroom.
      Buffy: Yeah! Where they teach lunch.

    • Buffy: What happened to Angel wasn't his fault.
      Xander: Yeah, but what happened to Ms. Calendar is. You can paint this any way you want. But the way I see it is that you wanna forget all about Ms. Calendar's murder so you can get your boyfriend back.

    • Whistler: Bottom line is, even if you see 'em coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are. You'll see what I mean.

  • NOTES (9)

    • The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore).

    • At the Hellmouth Convention in Belfast in April 2003, Juliet Landau noted the problem with her fight scene with Bianca Lawson (Kendra). Juliet had to wear those fake nails and every time the scene would be going well, the nails began to "ping ping ping" (her words) right off her fingers, which resulted in many takes being necessary to film the scene.

    • 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.

    • Drusilla was precognitive before she became a vampire.

    • When this episode was repeated on September 15, 1998, it was presented with an altered first scene. There are several subtle differences, but the most noticeable is that Max Perlich provides the voice-over for that scene, rather than David Boreanaz as it was the first time the episode aired.

    • When Drusilla is about to kill Kendra she says "Be in me" hypnotizing Kendra. This same line is used by the vampire in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie.

    • When Buffy fights Angelus in the cemetery, she figures out that she was being distracted away from the library so that Drusilla could capture Giles. In the first episode of the season, the Master's minions used the same trick on Buffy to capture Willow for the resurrection ritual. Angelus says to her when she leaves for the library: "And you fall for it every time!"

    • The character of Whistler was originally intended to be Angel's sidekick in the planning stages of the spinoff Angel, but the actor wasn't able to commit to the series so the character of Doyle was created.

    • Richard Riehle guest stars as Merrick, Buffy's first watcher; a role that was portrayed by Donald Sutherland in the feature movie.


    • Buffy: And you're sure this was the tomb of Alfalfa?
      Alfalfa was one of the main characters in the Our Gang series of films from the 1930's and the TV series Little Rascals.

    • Whistler: My name's Whistler.
      The name Whistler may be a reference to the popular adult comic Blade in which the main character, a vampire human hybrid named Blade has a human sidekick named Whistler. This is interesting because the original plan as for Whistler to be Angel's sidekick in his spin-off series, which would then have borne a striking resemblance to Blade.

    • Kendra: This is my lucky stake; it has slain many vampires. I call it, Mr. Pointy.
      In the German version of BTVS the stake is called "Van Heugen", the nemesis of Graf Dracula.

    • Buffy: Pulling the sword out of Al Franken or whatever his name is.
      Al Franken is an American actor, comedian, and politician. He began on such shows as Saturday Night Live, later became a political pundit and even founded the radio network Air America Radio in 2004. Franken eventually ran for and won the position of Senator from Minnesota.