Saturday, April 4, 2009

DVD review - Buffy season 2, episode 21 and 22

Concluding with my viewing and reviewing of season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

***SPOILERS***

Episodes 21 and 22: Becoming parts 1 and 2

Synopsis: Kendra returns to help Buffy when Angel plots to revive an ancient demon bent on sweeping everything on Earth into Hell itself. Then, while Angel tortures Giles for needed information concerning a ritual, Spike strikes an unlikely alliance with Buffy to keep Angel from destroying the world. (written by Joss Whedon, airdates 5/12/98 and 5/19/98)

Another great two-parter and a perfect way to cap off this season.

First, love love the flashbacks from various time periods so we learn more about Angel - his being sired by Darla, his torturing of Dru, his cursing by the gypsies and finally his meeting with Whistler who then shows him the newest slayer. That later was especially cool as it kind of allowed SMG to do some of the movie scenes, from a different viewpoint.

In present time, lots of couple action with Cordelia-Xander and Willow-Oz. Great moments throughout there as this is a show with teens in love. Then there is the whole Buffy-Angel relationship that goes through further hell only to culiminate in a great fight and a final restoration/heartbreak. Love that emotional rollercoaster ride.

Of course, the diskette with Jenny's notes on the restoration are found, and Willow takes a step into the arcane - with some amazing results. This character is definitely changing and adding more layers thanks to this. I love the tension of the group as some (Willow, Buffy, Giles) want to restore Angel while others (Xander, Cordelia, and the returning Kendra) think it is a bad idea. Speaking of Kendra, she never should have given "Mr. Pointy" (LOL) to Buffy - she could have used it when having to face off against Dru.

With all the chaos and the police and such, Buffy has to reveal everything to her mother. Great scenes and great tension. Like her mother could actually forbid her from doing what is her destiny - Buffy must be a slayer, no matter what.

Speaking of Dru, she rises to new heights and sinks to lowest levels when she seduces Giles to get the secret of the ritual from him. Even Angel and Spike think she's enjoying it too much. Of course, that triangle explodes when Spike has to attack Angel while Buffy comes to the rescue of Giles. He definitely owed Angel some payback and got it in well. I hope that's not the last we've seen of either Spike or Dru.

And, again, Buffy's ultimate sacrifice in the end of the episode is pivotal and shows the evolution she's gone through all season. No longer is she this simple 16 year old girl. She's become a woman, had to make some very hard choices, and her life will never be the same. But that's what a hero does, even if it costs their own life and happiness. Like last season, this one ends as if it could have been a series finale. Luckily, there are five more seasons left to go. I'm looking forward to more, especially with how Angel will get rescued from Hell (guy can't have a spin-off show without that...)

2 comments:

Michael O'Connell said...

(sniff)

Just...I need just a minute...

(sob)

No, really, I'm fine...

The bad news about this season finale for you? Yeah, not a whole lot of question about Angel coming back when you know there's an Angel spinoff show a couple seasons later, right? :) Ah, well. Still great stuff, even knowing that. Yep, this two-parter had it ALL! Wow! The totally awesome flashbacks giving us the background on Angel, Dru and even Darla (omg she's gorgeous) were great. And they involved some guy named Whistler...played by my boy Max Perlich! I'm sure you probably recognized him from something, as he was all over the place in the 80s...from being one of the geek buddies in "Can't Buy Me Love" (the one who wore the leather jacket) to Young MC's "Bust A Move" video (movie theater scene...girl jumps on him. I think he was wearing a leather jacket there, too...). Movie-wise I know him best from "Beautiful Girls", but I mainly know him from his run on "Homicide". Not what you call a fantastic actor...but just a really unique guy. Anyway, it was great to see him show up for part of the Buffy lore.

So much drama! Major stuff happening! The tension amongst the Scoobies over what to do with Angel (stand the ground, Xander!), the major injury to Willow (and the painful bedside scene with Xander). And the death of Kendra, of course. Can't say that I was TOO broken up about it, based on what I griped about earlier about me wanting to slay her myself for that awful accent? But Joss brought her back and made sure we got to like her again before the big slice. Loved the slo-mo Buffy run toward the library. And then, Buffy a fugitive from the law! DRAAAAma! And the capture and torture of Giles! Painful to watch! And eeeeevil mind games on him with the Jenny thing. His superb acting ability made all those scenes so much heavier.

Loved the unexpected team-up with Spike! That whole scene at the cop car was awesome, him talking to Buffy while casually swiping the unconscious cop's smokes and lighting up. And the "Let me just kill this guy first..." thing. But not near as awesome as Spike and mom sitting awkwardly in the living room. Hilarious! Great way to finally reveal the truth to Joyce, right in the middle of a life and death situation when there's no time to really explain, making the whole thing more tense.

I remember the first time I watched this ep and saw that scene with Xander deciding not to tell Buffy, just before she went in, that Willow was trying to restore Angel again. I always felt it was strictly about Xander wanting him dead. Well, yeah, you could look at it that way. But seeing it again, I'm realizing what a practical decision it was. This was life and death, save the world (and Giles) stuff they were about to go into - Buffy wouldn't have been fighting her hardest if she thought Angel might get "fixed" at any moment. And that could have gotten everyone (seriously, EVERYONE...like, the whole planet) killed. Looking at it again, it's a choice I would have made, too, considering the stakes. Heh. I said "stakes"...

And what a finale. Finally, the big showdown, and no disappointment! How about David and Sarah working them swords, huh? Did you watch the mini Joss Interview on that ep where he mentioned that most of that was Sarah, not the stunt double? She's awesome with a blade. And then Willow, burgeoning witch (by the way...very pleased with their choice to take the character in that direction. There's only so much a computer hacker can contribute to the team week after week) came through, and we got the BIIIIG painful Joss-colored ending. Excellent acting by David there, as both we and Buffy could clearly tell it was really Angel again. Which made what she had to do...well, let's just say I can still envision opening my window back when this ep first ran and hearing the screams and wails of fangirls around the world. Hell of an ending.

So, Joss successfully took everything away from Buffy. Banished from home. Angel dead. On the run from the law. Kicked out of school! Fantastic shake-up in the status quo, and a perfect ending to the show's first full season. After a lot of strong reviews for season 1, this was the season that cemented the show as a TV phenomenon. Well-deserved.

NOTE: If you didn't watch all the way to the end of the credits on the final ep? Pop it in sometime and do so. There's a little something extra added to the Mutant Enemy thing.

Martin said...

I saw the Mutant Enemy thing at the end. Very appropriate all in all.

You are right about Xander - he is showing a true hero decision there, even though he knows it'll hurt Buffy if she ever finds out.