Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Season 2, Episode 22
BECOMING, part II
Written by: Joss Whedon
DIR by: Joss Whedon
Blurb: While Angel tortures Giles for needed information concerning a ritual, Spike strikes an unlikely alliance with Buffy to keep Angel from destroying the world.
SPOILERS of the most SPOILERY kind get spoiled. Also -- too many screen caps again; I just couldn't stop!
Scene 01: We start right we left off with a man yelling for Buffy to freeze and pointing a gun at her, but from an opposite angle, where we can see it is in fact a cop. He orders her away from Kendra, while his female partner keeps one eye on Buffy, while also going to Kendra's side.
The entire thing is in shaky-cam to heighten the confusion and energy.
Female Officer finds Kendra dead, naturally. Her male partner asks about "up there", and we and Buffy see Xander laid out on the floor of the mezzanine. We should also remember that Willow is still up there as well, under the bookcase and Cordelia is AWOL while Giles has been carted off by Drusilla and minions.
Buffy tries to rush up to Xan, but she's grabbed by the police. Female Partner orders her out, while Buffy pleads to be let known if Xan is okay. Male Officer roughly pushes her out, and she doesn't resist while Female Partner heads for the stacks.
Scene 02: In the hallway, Snyder and two more officers are arriving. Male Officer is shoving Buffy down the hallway, while she tries to explain that she's done nothing wrong in the library. He's not interested in hearing her explain anything.
Snyder tells the Male Officer that if there is trouble going on, Buffy is probably behind it. She doesn't exactly bolster her case by calling Snyder a "stupid, little troll" and basically looking like she's about to Kendra him next [OOOh... too soon?].
Buffy turns around out of Cop's grip, and tells him she just wants to know if her friends are okay, but he makes the colossal error of going for his handcuffs. He takes a punch and a flip and is out on the ground. Snyder stands paralyzed as she makes a run for it, but not quietly -- Female Partner sees the tail end of this and draws her gun. She orders Snyder to get down as she draws a bead on Buffy. She takes a shot at her! But misses.
She immediately calls in that Buffy is a suspect and extremely dangerous.
Commentary: Obvs, Ms. Female Cop would be totally in trouble for shooting at an unarmed teenaged girl, no matter what kung fu she broke out who is also running away and ergo isn't an immediate threat... anywhere else. I tend to think of this as a touch of unintended fridge-brilliance: Actually, Sunnydale PD is probably more likely to meet violence with extreme violence considering the death rate of the town, and how so many of the bodies they see seem to have things wrong with them that aren't even explainable. I'm not sure that after a while, I wouldn't be a shoot quick first, try to justify it later around this 'burb.
Credits & Kickass Music
Scene 03: We arrive at the hospital where, wow - it is actually busy with people... must not be the children's ward floor.
Buffy sneaks in wearing a "disguise" of a black, knit cap and a change of clothes. She tries to hide her face as she makes her way down the hallway looking at charts, trying to find signs of Xander or the others.
Scene 04: She gets a brief startle by a tap on her shoulder, but it's Xander which she's happy about. Despite her big, clingy hug though, we can see that Xan isn't exactly jumping for joy which puts us on edge about Willow.
Buffy tries to explain how she couldn't check up on him in the library, but he tells her he was just coming around and caught the highlights of the problems with the cops. She sees his cast, but he blows off the broken arm as a souvenir.
She starts to ask about the others, but Xan spots a pair of officers coming toward them and suddenly yanks her into his shoulder in another hug to her WTH, worried face. She quickly picks up the issue, and buries her face into his shoulder as the cops walk by, none the wiser.
Buffy cracks a joke about Xan's hug being part hiding her and part copping a free feel... but he doesn't laugh and her face falls as she realizes something bad has happened... intensifying our fears for Willow.
Scene 05: Willow is at the hospital, and she's suffered head trauma and is unresponsive. Xan fills Buffy in on her condition and iffy prognosis. Buffy beats herself up for letting Willow try the curse, guessing that Angel must've known somehow, and with Drusilla that's a good guess, if mistaken.
Buffy asks about Willow's parents. Xan has called them in Phoenix, where they're visiting relatives [Does anyone know how many times inconvenient parents are visiting a relative out of town, and yet the kids are NEVER forced to go visit Aunt or Uncle Yadda-Yadda?].
Her next question is about Oz and Xan admits he didn't even think of him. At that point, Cordelia comes into Willow's room, relieving Xander as they crash-hug into each other. Cordy is aware of Willow's condition from the doctors, so we don't need to rehash. Buffy asks after her condition, and Cordy reports running away "through three counties" before realizing she wasn't being chased. She berates herself for her non-bravery, but Buffy tells her firmly that it was the right thing for her to do.
Conversation turns toward Giles, and everyone realizes that none of them know where he is.
Commentary: After the horrible fighting of last episode, I really appreciate the Scoobies reforming and completely forgetting all of the hurtful things that were said [nearly exclusively by Xander]. I also love how Cordelia is so firmly esconced in the Scooby Gang, that Buffy doesn't give a second blink to her being there and is quick to tell her that she wasn't cowardly for running, but did the right thing -- and all sincerely, with no typical sarcasm involved.
Oh, and Cordy is so genuinely worried about her former punching bag, Willow, that she doesn't even mention how crappy she looks, NOR -- And this is BIG -- does she mention Buffy's unfortunate choice in headwear!
Scene 06: Giles is currently lying on the V-Mansion floor. Where Angel is really disturbingly lying with him and staring at him as he comes to. [Oh Angel! Even when you and Angelus aren't falling in love/lust, you just can't stop being a creeper.]
Angelus expresses his relief, half-sarcastically, that Giles finally woke up -- he tells him he was getting worried. Giles wants to know what Angelus wants, which he replies with "torture... it's been awhile". Angelus is all fascinated with the new-fangled thingie called a 'chainsaw'.
As he pontificates, he walks around Giles causing the Watcher to follow along with him, until Rupert spots Acathla.
As Giles is putting two and two together as to why he's not, in fact, being tortured, Angelus elaborates on how all of his ritualizing didn't get him squat. He's pretty sure that Rupert knows how to wake up the big, stone guy. But, Angelus also says that he's hoping he'll play the White Hat and not tell him... because he really wants to torture Giles.
Commentary: Which sorta gives the impression that he'll be torturing Giles for shits and giggles anyway, doesn't it? And since Rupert is a Watcher, did Angelus really think he would be quaking in his shoes and spilling everything to end the world??
Angelus probably should've went with something like telling the minions, "It looks like Giles won't play. Go tell Dru that she's free to 'entertain' Ms. Summers, after all...."
That may have at least loosed Giles' tongue... even though considering world-endage, still not the right thing, but my point is Giles will be more compliant over others' safety than his own. Good thing Angelus isn't a tactician.
Scene 07: Back at the Summers' home, the police have informed Joyce that her daughter was involved in a homicide. She's all... WHA? MY DAUGHTER ISN'T VIOLENT!!111!
Joyce tells them that her daughter said she was staying over at Willow's house. Stein side-statements to the officer with him that Willow is the second victim [Actually the third -- Xander would've been the second victim, even with him not dead or in a coma with a questionable prognosis].
Detective Stein though is the same investigator that handled the mysterious, missing Ted and so isn't buying that Buffy's a sweet, little muffiny-girl. He tells Joyce that it would be better for Buffy if she turns herself in, rather than making the PD track her down.
Scene 08: While Joyce is mulling over Buffy's latest brush with violence, she's off to Giles' hoping that he's arrived safely back at his apartment. Who she finds is our old narrator friend, Whistler.
Buffy asks what the hell he's doing in Giles' apartment, and he tells her that he was waiting for her. When she asks why, he jokes he needs a date to the prom... which she isn't appreciative of. She shows this with a neck grab and a shove into wall.
Whistler tells Buffy that things have gone off track from what the PTB thought. Whistler had thought that this was going to be Angel's big redemption, meant to stop the rise of Acathla. No one had seen that he and Buffy would be lovers, or that she'd activate the curse clause and send Angel's human soul packing. [Except he's smart-assy and smirky about it all, which makes me want Buffy to slap him around a little, before she goes.]
Whistler next presses Buffy about what she's willing to give up to put a stop to this [presumably 'can you kill Angel?'], but Buffy is sick of hearing that intimation/question already. She turns it back on Whistler, accusing him of having no actual useful information to share. She next pegs his character on the dot, by asking if he's some sort of demon sent to Earth to balance the scales, which takes him by surprise... apparently he's not fully aware of Slayer-powers when it comes to sizing up situations and people. She next wonders why all of the PTB's don't get off of their ass and help her fight the big evil once in awhile, but Whistler tells her that would defeat the point, which is 'you're always on your own (when it comes to the big moment)'.
Both Buffy and I have had enough of the quasi-existential claptrap. She storms out, leaving Whistler to call after her that the sword isn't enough, that she has to know how to use it.
Commentary: Actually, despite my snark, I like this scene. I like that Whistler, who was so important to Angel's start of this character-altering "search for redemption" that really defines Angel's character all the way up through Angel & Faith, is also here when things have gone so spectacularly off the path. I also like the idea that free choice can bollocks up even the most carefully laid out plans of the PTB -- bad in this case, but good in so many others throughout Buffy and Angel.
A shame that Whistler is currently over in Angel & Faith being a colossal a-hole.
Scene 09: Buffy is out wandering from Giles', and trying to hide behind her flimsy disguise. An officer spots the Blonde Hair Of The Jig Is Up and pulls over to confront her. She's confronted again by a drawn gun and barked orders.
This time, she doesn't take out the officer though and goes to a jailcell, unable to stop the world from ending.
I kid. Instead a black booted foot comes from offscreen and renders officer unconscious quick-like. This is Spike, and he's not done surprising. He greets Buffy with a smirk and a "hello, cutey".
Scene 10: Buffy immediately starts punching on Spike, but he pushes her off with a "wait a minute". She draws out her stake from her sleeve, but Spike surrenders. She reminds him that as mortal enemies, they don't get time outs [I love this line].
Spike tells her that he'd be glad to go a round with her, but he's actually there to team up against Angelus. She's accuses him of a very lame trick at first, but he seems sincere. He spiels about Angelus actually being able to pull off the world-endage, and he actually likes the world very much. Everything a vampire could want, including multi-billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs are right here. Plus, there is the whole "I hate Angelus for creeping up on Drusilla" thing.
This last bit outrages Buffy, who gets another fantastic line:
"I lost a friend tonight! And I may lose more! The whole Earth may be sucked into Hell, and you want my help because your girlfriend's
a big ho?! Well, let me take this opportunity to not care!"
[SMG's delivery is awesome and I always laugh.]
Spike offers that he can't stop Angelus' diabolical plan all by himself, especially with Drusilla being under his sway. Buffy punches him again, out of sheer frustration. She tells him that she hates him, but he points out that she's all he's got. Buffy says fine, talk - but copper is coming around so Spike wants to kill him first so he can't get inconvenient. Buffy clears her throat, and he realizes that killing police would probably be an issue for her. Buffy instead says they should get off the street.
Commentary: This whole scene is sprinkled in awesome dust, and it's all because of James and Sarah's chemistry, which is different than hers and David's, but still just as natural and immediate. Plus, James Marsters is very good at finding smirks and glances and ways to deliver his bad-guy dialog to elicit laughs. I'm glad that they kept finding ways to bring him back into the Buffy fold -- most so in Season 5.
Scene 11: Back in Willow's hospital room, Cordy and Xan are standing vigil. Cordelia wants to know if Xan wants some coffee, but he doesn't want to leave Will's side. She offers to go get it for him, and they hold hands tenderly before she goes.
Xander then takes Willow's hand and implores her to come back. He has an emotionally stirring speech about what she means to him ending with his confirmation that he loves her. The Magic Power Of Love breaks through comas, so this works, but Oz is the first thing on her mind. Good thing that he just so happened to arrive at this exactly perfect moment.
Willow can't bear to open her eyes yet, but complains that her head feels big. Oz assures her that her head is head-sized.
[Angelus' plans come to naught. The world cannot be sucked into Hell, because it implodes on itself from the sheer adorableness of Aly and Seth and this scene. It is just too much for the mortal world.]
Willow asks about everyone else, but of course Oz is coming into the chapter late.
Commentary: Bringing Seth Green aboard as a recurring character and setting him up as Willow's boyfriend was among the most awesome of decisions that the show made. It is so very disappointing that he really doesn't get a lot to do in Seasons 3 and 4 and is usually off touring with 'Dingoes'. I can understand why Seth left to pursue other opportunities, but damned I do regret that he wasn't made more of a regular character. I probably could've done without the whole werewolf thing since the costuming never worked, but I really miss the character when he's gone.
Scene 12: We can see that at least somebody isn't okay. It's poor Giles, who has been bound to a chair and has bloody hands and is looking a bit worse for wear.
Angelus sits nearby polishing Giles' glasses [You see, he does care!] before he slips them back onto Rupert's face and tells him about how much he admires his resistence. He asks after how well Giles is holding up, and Rupert gasps out that he's never been better. Angelus assures him he's glad to hear it. He kneels down next to Giles and reaches behind the chair, presumably to yank on his fingers, and asks Rupes to tell him when it hurts and Giles draws deep breaths....
Commentary: I love the framing, here. And the subdued lighting for Angelus, while Giles' sweaty forhead gets highlighted by a harsh white light. I also love the touch of Giles having a 1000-yard stare, like he's probably practicing his Watcher-trained meditative techniques to divorce himself from the agony he's being put through.
Scene 13: Meanwhile, Buffy and Spike reach her house [And, I must call bullshit. I know, I know, these scenes are so awesome and I'll love them and all that, but I just don't buy Buffy bringing Spike to her house of all places and then giving him the passkey!] where Joyce is just pulling up in the Jeep from being out to find her.
Joyce confronts Buffy and Spike and wants to know what the hell she's been doing while terrible things have been happening, not least to her friend, Willow. Buffy spectacularly badly lies, as she is wont to do under sudden pressure. Spike tries to play along, but they sorta clash in their stories of being in a rock band together and you can tell by Joyce's face that she isn't buying this crapola [something that seems to get missed by reviewers -- Joyce's fog is already lifting at this point].
Buffy wants to shepherd them inside where they can discuss everything [Spike getting an invite into the house. Bullshit.], but a sudden vampire attack happens on the porch. It is one of the minons from the library attack -- I believe the one that knocked Xander out. He's quickly staked... in front of Joyce... where he dusts away... in front of Joyce.
[Uh, it was uh, a PCP Gang and a gas leak!]
Joyce is left with her mouth hanging open, and Buffy left in the position of having to explain this crap at the worst time.
Commentary: And honestly, I have no sympathy about the bad timing thing for Buffy. Joyce being kept in the dark for this long has been a major issue for any storyline where she isn't conveniently out of town. This really needed to happen and the lame explanations of her having knowledge would put her in danger never, ever made sense.
So glad that we're finally not having to write around Joyce's extreme cluelessness.
But... and I'm not sure how they could've fixed this due to time constraints and all, but this whole reveal is so clumsy and off. Why is Angelus sending a single vampire to Buffy's?? I thought it was because he was suspecting Spike's treachery, or at least that he'd found he's out of the wheelchair, but later developments put paid to that. Then I thought he wanted to get Buffy to the manse as a needed part of the ritual [that Slayer blood deal] and that we'd then find out that Giles gave up the information finally, but no - that's not it either. So then I thought he'd been sent to snatch Joyce for leverage, finally. But no. He never mentions her to Rupert during his taunting, so that isn't it. Finally, I thought maybe he just wanted advance warning if Buffy was headed toward the mansion, since Angelus must surely be assuming that eventually she'd decide that Giles is missing and Angelus would be the logical one to have him... but if that were the case, why is the dipshit attacking Buffy and Spike... all on his lonesome? It's all just nonsensicle.
And all these thoughts then made me realize that Drusilla has vanished from part II, and that struck me as completely weird. Which also led back to thoughts about how Spike was keeping up the charade that he's helpless in the wheelchair while he's out and about this long... I mean even on first watch, this whole part was unraveling the story before my eyes. I started to think more and more about it during the commercial breaks, and decided that this was actually playing a lot more like the typical set things up pacing/logic handwaves that you could get away with in a Part One... especially a first half of a Part One before things start to escalate. So, this entire development feels weirdly placed in an episode where shit has already gotten real, and should be quickly escalating toward adrenaline filled scenes... like our real Part One acheived.
I think the base reason that Part Two can't get as high of marks as Part One is that it doesn't even attempt to match the emotional level of Part One's powerful cliffhanger, until the last 10 minutes of the episode. It comes a bit too late in relation to where we were left when Part One ended.
But like I said, I can't see where we could correct the energy level, because we absolutely needed Joyce in on what is going on for that amazing scene coming up in the kitchen and the lol's between Joyce and Spike in the living room.
Also -- this actor has the most hilarious "I was just staked" face, EVER.
Scene 14: Back in the hospital, Willow is talking to Buffy so everyone is updated on Wills being cool.
[Except she's talking in baby voice, and it's clearly meant to be adorable -- it's actually irritating.]
In the Summers' kitchen, Buffy is relieved to hear Willow is okay; she's also sorry she has to put Slay-duty over being there.
Wills is sorry also... about not being able to complete the spellworks. Buffy says she's alright and knows now that she'll never get Angel back the way he was. Willow asks next about locating Giles, and Buffy tells her about the lucky break that she wouldn't believe if Buffy told her.
Scene 15: Meanwhile in the living room, Spike and Joyce are sitting in an uncomfortable silence. Joyce has a liberal amount of scotch. The scene is an extended amount of time with Joyce drinking and glancing at him, while he fidgets waiting for Buffy to return. [It's hilarious.]
Scene 16: Next up in Buffy's kitchen is her speaking to Xander. She tells Xan where Vamp!McMansion is and that she's hitting it at dawn. He offers backup, but she assures him that she's covered. He haltingly asks if she thinks Giles could still be alive, and she says she thinks that he is.
Scene 17: In the Living Room of Discomfort, the silence stretches uncomfortably some more. Joyce suddenly gets a questioning look on her face and breaks the silence by asking if she's met him before. Spike reminds Joyce of the axe incident in "School Hard", and quotes her "Get the hell away from my daughter" line at her. She says a comical, "Oh..." and then there are a few more moments of awkward silence [Kristine and James makes this scene! It is guffaw worthy.]
Joyce tries small talk by asking Spike if he lives in town, but THANKFULLY Buffy returns to interrupt this poor attempt.
She turns the conversation to all business, though poor Joyce keeps interrupting as she's trying to grasp this whole concept.
Spike negotiates saving Giles and helping to stop Angel for letting he and Dru walk away and leave Sunnydale forever (uh-huh). Buffy at first denies Dru walking because she killed Kendra - which Spike finds great, except probably not from Buffy's perspective *uh-hmmm* - but tells her there is no deal without Dru.
Buffy doesn't like it, but she takes the deal -- although she makes it clear that if Giles dies, Dru does.
Meanwhile, Joyce is finding relief in Buffy not having killed Kendra, but finds the talk about killing Buffy's ex-boyfriend to be disturbing... and then there is the thing where a man exploded into dust in front of her.
Scene 18: After Spike leaves, Joyce wants to help by calling the police to explain everything. Buffy is trying to explain that only she can fight the demons, but she doesn't have the time to coddle her mother or sit and explain everything to her. But, Joyce has heard this one too many times already -- and her entire world has just imploded with these revelations she can barely grasp are real, let alone try to accept them.
Buffy doesn't help here by telling her mother, snottily, to just have another drink. Joyce throws her glass against the counter, smashing it and shouts at Buffy not to talk to her that way. She tells her that she doesn't get to just dump all of this on her and then walk away without explaining herself. Buffy tries to tell her, but impatiently, that she doesn't have time for this.
Again, Joyce has been blown off too many times in the past and everything from the past year and a half is on her mind [As you can tell, I have MUCH more sympathy for Joyce then everyone that wants to make her a villain in the piece].
Commentary: For my money, both of them are right and wrong. Right because Joyce does deserve to sit down and be made to understand what this all means but Buffy is right that Giles is being tortured right now and there is a plot to take the world to Hell to stop. But wrong because Buffy should have just said, "Mom! The world is this close to being destroyed right now, and I'm the one with a destiny. I'm sorry to dump this on you, but I need to go and then I'll spend days explaining everything!" But she doesn't. Instead she gets defensive. But Joyce is wrong because she's letting her anger and confusion [and you'd have to think fear] dictate her responses to all of this... and she's had scotch.
Still, I'm putting the blame for what is coming on Buffy for not even trying to understand how all of this is crashing down on her mother at the worst possible moment for her to deal with and for starting this confrontation off with the "just have another drink" comment that turned Joyce's utter confusion to anger.
Buffy slowly, but with frustration repeats that she's a Vampire Slayer as if that will explain everything the third time around.
Joyce refuses to just accept that, which causes Buffy to explode with my favorite scene of this episode, so quotes:
"Open your eyes, Mom. What do you think has been going on for the past two years? The fights, the weird occurances! How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing, and you still haven't figured it out?!"
"Well, it stops now!"
"No, it doesn't stop! It never stops! D-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!"
Joyce falls back on the "this is insane and you need help" defense, but Buffy tells her she's not insane and that what she needs is for her to chill out and let her go do what she needs to do. Things escalate even further when Joyce tries to tell her she's barred from leaving the house and grabs her arms. Buffy throws her off with a rough push against the counter.
Joyce then issues the ultimatum that if she leaves the house, she shouldn't even think of coming back. Buffy looks at her sadly, but does leave, because world destroying plots wait for no Slayer's effed-up home life.
Joyce is left to collapse against the counter with confused despair.
Commentary: And it seems to be this ultimatum given in the heat of the moment that fandom largely makes Joyce a villain over, and is supposed to justify Buffy leaving Sunnydale without a word to her mother over the entire summer that she's not dead.
Sorry fandom -- screw that.
I find it completely impossible to fathom how this is being taken as a literal "don't come back" command. Joyce is obviously acting from desperation to stop Buffy from going off to fight who-knows-what, but that apparently involves her murdering her ex and has already involved the death of one girl and Willow being put in the hospital and the fact that a vampire just exploded in front of her eyes and that the man who she had to brain with an axe for trying to murder her daughter is now apparently working with her without explanation... yeah... I'm going to let Joyce slide on an outburst.
If Buffy had shown up at the door after the big fight and grabbed Joyce in a hug and wept on her shoulder, all would've been forgiven, and Buffy knows that. She knows her mother. She leaves, not because of Joyce's ultimatum, but because of the Angel deal.
Joyce is getting way too much HARSH from fandom over this one angry, afraid, desperate utterance.
Scene 19: At the hospital, Cordy expresses a wish that they could help more with the final showdown... in a way that doesn't involve getting dead.
Willow has an idea: Retry the spell that she didn't get to finish.
[She is apparently unaware of the trope in which a plan cannot be tried more than once, even if the plan is excellent and wasn't successful for reasons that have nothing to do with its worth.]
Xan tries to convince Willow that she doesn't look healthy enough to try to channel powerful magicks, and Cordy agrees what with Willow's lank hair and pale lips... [I lol, oh Cordelia].
Oz is utterly confused by all of this, of course. Willow puts on her resolve face and assures Oz that Cordy can explain everything while they gather the supplies she needs to perform a complicated ritual with stinky herbs in her hospital room.... Huh.
Scene 20: Back with Giles and Angelus, he's telling Rupert he can stop the pain if Rupert will just accept that he's been very brave and has done enough now. Giles' response is to tell Angel he has to perform the ritual in a tutu [Awesome Giles Moment!!]
Angelus runs out of patience and calls for the chainsaw, but Spike has returned and is back in his chair. He wheels in and tells Angelus to hold his roll. Rather than get Giles killed, Spike offers a more reasonable alternative.
Angelus is a bit suspicious of Spike's motives for getting in the way, but he trades on their past when they each covered for one another's excesses to lull him into agreeing. Spike calls upon Drusilla [Hey, where you been?!?] to play a little game.
Scene 21: Meanwhile, Buffy has returned to the library to retrieve the twin sword to Acathla's. She's confronted by Snyder who takes joy in expelling her. This is really the least of Buffy's worries right now. She does tells Snyder that the PD will eventually figure out that she didn't kill anyone, but Snyder offers that the Sunnydale PD trends toward extreme stupidity.
Interestingly, as soon as Buffy leaves with her sword, Snyder makes a phone call -- to the mayor's office -- with "good news"!
Commentary: First, just how funny/pathetic is poor Snyder? I mean, this is the highlight of his whole day? Expelling Buffy? And, just what is he doing, hanging out at the school at this time of night? He's soooo tragically clueless about his loserdom. It's just sad.
But second, of course, is the interesting twist regarding the Mayor's Office and how it builds on the sense of conspiracy that we've seen glimpses off, including "School Hard" again! Plus of course, future!me glees over foreshadow to next season! YAYYYYYYY!
Scene 22: Back with Giles, looking like death-warmed-over, Drusilla is "comforting" him for Angelus' infliction of pain. But her real deal is to piss me off by bringing back Jenny to trick Rupert.
Dru pulls out the same hypno-whammy we saw her use to slice Kendra. But instead of killing Giles this time, she makes him see her as our beloved Jenny Calendar. [A nice touch is that they dressed Robia in the same dress as she was wearing on the night she was killed and laid out in Rupert's bed.]
Jenny-Dru comforts Giles, while fishing for information on the proper way to perform the Acathla ritual. Giles eventually reveals that Angelus should have used his own blood in the ritual, rather than anony-guy's. Jenny-Dru makes out with Giles, until Spike and Angel -- who've been in the room and watching it all this whole time unseen -- break her "out of the moment".
Giles' face falls in despair as he realizes not only what he'd done, but that of course Jenny wasn't ever there.
Angelus wants to immediately kill Giles, but Spike intercedes with the idea that maybe the Watcher was lying. It's a bit lame, but it's enough to make Angelus hesitate on killing him until after the ritual is completed.
Commentary: OMG. PAIN. This scene is so brutal because the camera is literally on top of Robia & ASH's faces, so that they are the only things we can see. We have no choice but to watch Giles' defenses fall away and be reminded about just how much chemistry Rupert and Jenny had together. It was SO good that Robia returned for this part in the story.
And the horrible thing is that several times you can see in ASH's expressions that Giles is trying to remind himself that Jenny cannot be there, but he falls for the ruse all the same. It breaks my heart. I also love how the camera focuses are used to accentuate why Rupert is falling for this, even knowing it can't be true by skipping around close ups of Robia's fingers against his face and running down his chest, and on her eyes gazing earnestly at him, and her lips promising all of the kisses that they never got to have. It's brutal.
Scene 23: Buffy bursts into Giles' apartment where Whistler has been awaiting her return, or the resolution to the play. Buffy presses him to explain about how to use the sword, having heard his words of before, when she was storming out.
He explains about Angel's blood opening the portal and only his blood closing it. He impresses on her that everything is on the line. She assures him that she can deal, she's got nothing left to lose.
After she leaves, he tells her back that she has one more thing....
Commentary: Ack. Chills. But at this time, I pretty much knew that Angel was going to die. The Scoobies were clearly out of danger and I just didn't believe for a moment that Giles would be dying here. Of course, that still didn't prepare me for the ending, but I was definitely sitting with a sick feeling in my stomach to see Buffy finally killing Angel and I was pretty sure that somehow Angel was going to have a last word with Buffy before dying thanks to Willow.
Scene 24: It's daybreak when Buffy marches toward the Manse with her sword and a determined look on her face. Xander startles her by jumping onto the road from an embankment. He's there to offer moral support and to help out how he can. She's grateful.
As they restart their power walk, Xander remembers about Willow's trying the curse and wanting Buffy to know, but as he's about to tell her they need to stall, he changes his mind and verbally stumbles. He instead tells Buffy that Willow's message from her hospital bed was to "kick his ass".
He looks chagrined about it as Buffy renews her march toward her and Angelus' confrontation.
Commentary: Alright, here is another place where I'll get into a shitload of trouble. No, I don't see this as some ultimate betrayal of Buffy by Xander because he didn't tell Buffy to stall. Was it underhanded? I'll give you that. Was it completely selfish? NO.
Sorry to you Xan-Haters. Buffy has shown time and time again that Angelus can kick the shit out of her when she's holding back. Xander knows how big this moment is if Buffy loses. He's also aware that Willow is looking like cat vomit and her chances of actually being successful with the spell is probably low; Giles even expressed concern she could work the mojo and that was before her coma. It's insane to give Buffy an excuse not to fight all out with everything she has to win against Angelus. She's finally reached the point where she can really do this because there isn't any other choice. His throwing that doubt on her about going through with the plan to kill Angelus once and for all would be STUPID.
I just don't buy the argument that Xander wants Buffy to kill Angelus before the spell works because he hates Angel. He does hate Angel, but this moment isn't about him. It's about the world ending if Buffy gets weak in her resolve. Now, he shouldn't have brought it up at all, so that he didn't have to tell a direct lie to her like this, but I'm supporting Xander's decision. Don't distract Buffy from her purpose by reminding her about how much she's in pain over it and offering what is in all likelyhood false hope. The consequences if she fails and Willow is wrong about her soul summoning powers are just too catastrophic. GO TEAM XANDER.
Scene 25: In the mansion, Angelus is once again with the Acathla summoning, which turns out to be a ritual that is totally different from the first time... huh... maybe it wasn't only Angel's blood that was the problem the first time around.