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18 August 2013 @ 03:46 am
BTVS Review: BECOMING, part I continued  
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Scene 30: Later in the library, Buffy is arguing with Giles that she has to go or more people will die. Kendra wants to go with her, but Buffy tells her that she needs her to stay to act as a guard for Willow and the gang -- because doing secret rituals in Giles' apartment where vampires can't just walk in would make zero sense. ZERO SENSE - DON'T ARGUE!

Cordy tries once more to get Buffy to stay until after Willow tries the soul restore ritual, but Buffy can't stand the thought of his slaughtering innocents because she refused to fight. She leaves, planning on stalling to give Wills the time she needs.

As she's heading out, Kendra stops her just long enough to give up her "lucky stake" to her counterpart. They do some more bit of Slayer bonding.


Commentary: I am really loving Buffy's outfit, for a change... especially that jazzy long coat. She looks great in it. Let's not discuss Willow's clothing -- she is very, very as-per-usual.

I'm also liking Kendra so much more than I did in What's My Line. I never actually disliked her, but she's much more 'human' here, and I really like the scenes of her and Buffy just sharing "we know how things are for each of us... watch your back".



Scene 31: At the graveyard, Angelus greets Buffy by calling her 'lover'. Angelus teases Buffy about their getting back together, because nothing is more fun than twisting the Angel knife in a bit deeper. But then he turns to fighting her, which is totally what Buffy wants anyway over his banter.


Scene 32: Back at the library, Willow and Giles start the soul restoration. Cordelia is even helping by waving the stinky herbs around.


Scene 33: Meanwhile, it's more hand to hand with Buffy and Angelus. Buffy gets hit around and tossed to the ground. She implores Will to get with it.


Scene 34: Back at the library, the spell is continuing. Until the vampire crew busts in. The spell is stopped for a free-for-all.

Kendra gets jumped by two vampires. Xander gets attacked by one, but gives a nice elbow to the face. Cordy and Will are sent fleeing by Giles just before he gets jumped. He's able to bat his attacker away. Willow runs behind the stacks, but a vampire leaps up to the mezzanine and pushes the book cases over -- with a scream, Willow is knocked to the floor with the stacks on top of her, either knocked out or dead (hint: Willow's not dead).

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Xander goes to punch his attacker, but is grabbed by the arm. The vampire loudly snaps his forearm!

On the main floor, Kendra is attacking a female vampire (the second one was male and is the guy that just sent the bookcases pinning Willow).

With Xander, he manages (however unlikely) to get his vampire with his one good hand by the coat collar and throws him down, headfirst into the bannister.

Giles avoids a punch by his vampire and returns one to the gut.

Over with Kendra, she's holding her own against the female vampire on her.

Back with Giles, he gives his vampire a kidney punch, but then goes down as he takes a backfist to the face.

Cordy gets threatened by the vampire that just put Willow down, but she stands there paralyzed about what to do. Xander saves her by one arm throwing his vampire into the one menacing hers. He shouts at her to go, and she gets her feet moving. Xan struggles with his obviously broken arm, but sees Kendra stake her vampire attacker, before stumbling with pain.

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We get a brief shot showing us Willow still under the bookcase and unmoving. Kendra looks for where she's needed next and rushes to help Giles. She punches his attacker for a bit and throws him through the office window. But then she gets side tackled....


Commentary: OMG... so excellent and it still isn't over. I think this is the most elaborate fight sequence we've seen from the show to date, and the music is perfect at amping up our adrenaline as we watch Willow, Xander and Giles all crash to the floor.

I tell you, I have goosebumps when we reach the vampire attack start and they don't go away until the closing credits. This is how to set up an exciting cliff hanger episode [oops -- uh, tiny spoiler maybe]. Just excellent work.



Scene 35: Meanwhile, Buffy and Angelus are still battling in the graveyard, but she's obviously not really fighting that hard and he calls her out on her lack of effort. He tells her he's just going to go home to destroy the world, but she tells him that she thinks that Mr. Pointy will have something to say about this. She tells them it's time to finish this, just she and he.

Which only gets a response of laughter from him. He accuses her of never learning. He tells her that his was never about her, to her dawning horror that she's been played and that the real fighting is going on with her friends!

She takes off running back for the school with Angelus taunting her for falling for the same trick every time [see "When She Was Bad"]. As Buffy takes off, our exciting soundtrack returns... along with my adrenaline.


Scene 36: In the library, Kendra is getting her ass kicked by the vampire [who is one of our recurring vamp actors, I do believe] who took down Willow and menaced Cordy. Meanwhile, Xan's vampire returns to sock him unconscious across the jaw. We don't get to see if the vampire follows up with a biting [hint: Xan isn't dying either].

Kendra takes a wicked spin kick to the face.


Commentary: Some excellent fight choreography here among the stunt people with some pretty great looking blows. Kudos to them for this one!


Scene 37: While Kendra is falling to the floor, our POV switches to the floor where we see a pair of feet come through the library door. This would be Drusilla making her grand entrance.

With the Scooby Gang out of action, Kendra finds herself surrounded by Vampire Who Took Out Giles, Vampire Who Took Out Willow, and Vampire Who Took Out Xander.


Commentary: I imagine that as soon as Vampire Who Took Out Willow left her, female vamp realized she was facing a Slayer and was all, "awww, you guys suck!!" This fills me with the humors. And I need it.


Scene 38: Drusilla looks on with amusement at Kendra's position, but calls off the minions unexpectedly for a one vs. one fight against the Slayer. She goes hand to hand with Kendra?!


Commentary: And, while I'll give Bianca props for her hand to hand skills... uh, not doing the same for Juliet. I think she should stick to standing on the sidelines and saying cray-cray shit.


Scene 39: Meanwhile Buffy is running her heart out to get back to the school in time, but we already know she's too late.

Kendra delivers a very nice gut kick to Dru, but it barely slows our psychopath down... unfortunately. Dru is able to grab Kendra by the throat and shove her against the book checkout desk. She immediately turns on the hypno-whammies and we find out that Slayers are susceptible to vampire-hypnosis.

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Like a Cobra hypnotising a rabbit, Dru starts swaying back and forth and Kendra dully follows her movements.

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In between Kendra's rushing toward her fate, we see Buffy still dashing with all the speed she can muster.

Drusilla sways with Kendra for a few more moments and then slices her trachea with a Fingernail Of Doom. Kendra grabs her throat, but the damage is done and she collapses.

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Dru then has the minions drag Giles out, telling them that they're taking what they came for and letting us know why Buffy was led to the cemetery in the first place: Obvs Angelus is thinking that Giles will know how to awaken Acathla... and now he's got him!

DAMN IT!


Commentary: OMG. They just had me liking Kendra and then they dispatch her like this... WHEDON!!

But, I so love Faith, so this really needed to happen but at the time I was like --- NNNOOOOOO. Oh, and Dru's air kiss and "Night-night" had me so wishing that Buffy would kick the living shit outta her. I had thought that next episode, Dru was going to get Buffy in the same position, but that Buffy would resist because of that thing where she was able to throw off The Master's thrall.

I really thought that they were setting up Drusilla to get dusted in the season finale and I was both looking forward to it (that air kiss to Kendra's body really stuck in my craw forever) and dreading it (I love Dru's brand of wacky evil). It doesn't happen, and shockingly, Buffy and Drusilla actually have very few scenes in future where they hand to hand it --- that is really something that the comics should address.

As an aside -- try to watch the SUPERSTRONG vampires drag ASH across the floor while stumbling around without giggling.



Scene 40: Back with Buffy, she enters the school and rushes for the library as everything slow-motions down. As we watch Buffy run in slow motion, the soundtrack switches back over to the Angel/Buffy love theme, but also painfully slowed down, with an extra heartbeat sound on the track, as well.

Meanwhile, Whistler has returned with narration to remind of us of his lesson about big moments. He tells us that even when you see the big moments coming, you're never really ready for them. He tells us that no one asks for their whole lives to change, just as Buffy comes into the library doors to see the signs of struggle and no people... except Kendra.

Buffy, with devastated face, rushes in slow-mo to Kendra's side and kneels beside her body. She checks for a pulse, but you can see on her face that it's useless.

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Whistler goes on to question whether we're all helpless then, since we don't want our lives to change, but they do anyway. He tells us that we're not puppets, that even though the big moments are going to come regardless of our wants, it's what we do afterward that really counts. It's then that we find out who we really are.

Buffy leans over Kendra and brushes her hair with her hand....


Commentary: I always get really choked up here. This extended scene of Buffy rushing far too late to the library in slow-mo and finding Kendra's body, with the soundtrack and Whistler talking about find out who we really are... it's all so perfectly filmed.

Plus, you can see on SMG's face just how struck to her core Buffy is by finding her fellow Slayer dead while she was off on a fool's errand with Angelus. I just find it really heartbreaking.

I think this is my favorite sequence, in an episode filled with them.



Scene 41: Buffy's dealing with her grief over Kendra is interrupted by real-time. And a voice telling her to freeze and pointing a gun at her.

Whistler scares us by telling us that we're about to see what he means.


Commentary: Ugh. When I first saw this, that last line made me think that we were about to find out that either Xander or Willow would be discovered killed as we head into the Part II, leaving Buffy crushed but having to rescue Giles and still stop Angelus, who I figured they'd also kill along with Drusilla leaving Spike as the big bad to return for Season 3 to make Buffy pay for killing Dru, while she spent the season trying to deal with killing Angelus too late to save [insert Scooby Friend who died].

I was seriously afraid to find out what was going to happen in part II. And that means this episode was awesome.

The slow-mo run always made me think that if The Bionic Woman was ever remade, SMG should've played Jaime Sommers. But that's a bit too nerdy, and I'm embarrassed now.



The Good: Complete and utter YAY to the backstory porn for Angel, Darla and Drusilla.

Julie Benz in that alley... she's filmed gorgeously.

Angelus' teasing Dru by impersonating the priest he's just killed is pretty funny, in a horribly twisted way.

That argument scene in the library. It was brutal and ugly and really hurt my feelings about Xan temporarily, but damned if there wasn't some really fine acting from everyone. And even though I hate Xander for saying it, I love the way Nicky delivered that line regarding forgetting about Ms. Calendar's murder so Buffy could have her boyfriend back.

I also loved the shout outs to Jenny and Passion throughout the episode.

Buffy looks fabulous in that teal coat (That's teal, right? Is that teal?)

The entirety of the attack on the library, and the way that Angelus taunts Buffy about how easy it is to get her to rush off where the action is not, and the entire slow motion run down the hallway to the Library Of Much Too Late... just breathtaking and exciting and nerve wracking. WHAT HAPPENED TO XANDER AND WILLOW??

The soundtrack and music direction is absolutely fabulous. One of the best jobs they've ever done on Buffy.


The Bad: Can we stop talking about the accents? No, which is why David's gets put here.


Other Thoughts: There are a few rough patches that aren't bad enough for an above entry, but aren't good: Darla's finger that draws blood, Drusilla's fingernail that doesn't (or not nearly enough anyway), Kendra's being killed by a fingernail, some rough dialog that sits weird, the uncomfortable stalker vibe from Angel when we're supposed to see this as his moment to become a hero and from Merrick who is supposed to gain instant sympathy since we know he's dead, the way too many overblown grins of Evil CheezeWhiz that David graces us with, and the irritatingly inconsistent use of sunlight.

I also find the whole plot point scenes with Acathla distracting. It's necessary to get us up to speed about the latest evil plot and all, but the character stuff going on is so compelling that I don't want to break away to discuss the giant rock.

I liked Drusilla reinforcing how dangerous she is by taking out a Slayer, but the fight skills of Juliet let down their brief hand to hand scene, alas.


The Score: Breathtaking hour of BTVS. I love this episode, and how often can you say that about a part I whose job is really to set things up for resolution in part II??

4.50 out of 5 stars


Next Up: Obvs, BECOMING PART II.


--end--