"Becoming, Part One" is the twenty-first episode of season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show, and the thirty-third episode in the series. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it originally broadcast on May 12, 1998 on The WB.
PART 1 OF A HEART POUNDING SEASON FINALE — A web of conspiracy, suspense and heart break surround the second season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy determines the time has come to destroy Angel and must ascertain if she is ready to sacrifice all she knows to be true to do so, but her decision is further entangled when Willow uncovers the secret that may restore Buffy's former beloved. Elsewhere, Angel chooses to unearth an evil demon that could swallow the earth and all of the beings, rather than return to the arms of his former lover.
A half-demon named Whistler talks about how in every life there are turning points where certain moments help to determine your life's course, with some moments being simple, subtle ones. Key events in Angel's past are interlaced with current events in Sunnydale.
Galway, Ireland 1753: Liam, the man who will become Angelus, is kicked out of a tavern along with his friend because they have run out of money. The friend slumps in the snowy road while a drunken, unsuspecting Liam is lured into an alley by a beautiful blonde. The mysterious blond woman is Darla, who bites the man and thus sires Angelus.
Sunnydale, 1998: Buffy tries to send a war message to Angelus via a vampire, who refuses to do the chore. She stakes him as Angelus watches from afar. The next day, Giles visits a museum that has just discovered a big stone block. The man in charge, Doug Perren, agrees to wait for Giles to examine it, and Giles discovers an opening in the rock. Meanwhile, Willow offers to help Buffy study for the chemistry final.
London, 1860: Drusilla is a young Catholic girl who enters a confessional booth just as Angelus kills the actual priest. She tells the "priest", who is Angel, about her unwanted visions, such as one of a cave-in at a mine that had happened that morning. He derides her as a devil child before finally agreeing to let her go with ten Our Fathers and an Act of Contrition.
Sunnydale, 1998: At Crawford Street mansion, Drusilla lets Angelus know what she and Spike read in the paper about the museum's new discovery. They decide to pay a visit to the curator. Meanwhile, Buffy is struggling with Willow's lesson when her pencil slips to the floor beside the floppy disk Ms. Calendar had dropped beside the teacher's desk. Willow pops the disk into the computer and they are shocked when they realize the content — unbeknownst to them, Jenny had just translated the document telling how to curse Angel, and saved it on the disk.
Romanian woods, 1898: The body of a young Romani girl lies on a table next to a fire as an elderly woman recites a curse before an Orb of Thesulah. Angelus runs through the woods towards the camp. The woman completes the Ritual of Restoration and Angelus falls to the ground. His eyes glow and his soul is restored. A Romani elder emerges beside Angel, rejoices over Angel's suffering, and predicts that Angel will soon remember and feel remorse for every vile act he has committed over the previous hundred years.
Sunnydale, 1998: Giles explains that the ritual requires much knowledge about magic, but Willow is undeterred. Xander believes that Angelus should die for his crimes and upsets Giles with his comments about Ms. Calendar. Xander thinks Buffy is selfish. She leaves to clear her head and encounters fellow Slayer Kendra, who has returned with information that a dark power is about to rise in Sunnydale. At the same time, Drusilla kills the curator while Angelus and his minions steal the statue. Angelus returns to tell Spike the story of Acathla, a demon that came to suck the world into Hell. A virtuous knight stabbed him in the heart before he could draw a breath, but someone worthy can remove the sword to awaken Acathla. Angelus wants to make history end. Kendra has brought a sword blessed by the same knight who stopped Acathla.
Manhattan, New York 1996: A dirty Angel stumbles aimlessly through the streets, looking like a homeless man, and ends up in an alley lined with trash where he attempts to kill a rat for food. A good demon, Whistler, appears out of the darkness and asks for a chance to show him something so he can make a choice about whether he wants to change.
Los Angeles, 1996: A Chevrolet Impala stops in front of Hemery High School, and Angel rolls down the window just enough to catch a glimpse of a young Buffy exiting with three friends. She appears to be vain, vacuous, and definitely spoiled. Then a Watcher finds her, Merrick, shocking her with a tale about her destiny fighting vampires. He then observes her in a cemetery staking her first vampire rather clumsily. Angel watches as she goes home, where her father yells at her for being gone without telling them where she was going. Her mother seems a bit more understanding. After watching the whole ordeal, Angel decides that he wants "to be somebody" and help Buffy.
Sunnydale, 1998: Angelus kills a human, spreads blood on his palm, then recites an incantation in Latin, and tries to pull out the sword unsuccessfully. Spike is amused, but Drusilla is not. Angelus decides to pay a visit to an old friend to find out what he should do to complete the ritual. The next day, Buffy and Willow are taking an exam when a vampire walks to the front of the classroom and self-immolates, telling Buffy as she is killed by sunlight that she must meet Angelus. The Scoobies fight about whether or not they should perform the restoration. Xander wants Angel killed, but Buffy wants him to be restored, though she has accepted she might have to kill him. Buffy asks Willow to perform the restoration as a safety measure and asks Kendra to stay behind to protect her friends. Willow says it will take around a half of an hour to perform the ritual, so Buffy should fight to delay Angel.
Buffy finds Angelus at the cemetery and they start fighting. However, Angel has used the same ploy he used before, diverting Buffy while a group of vampires attack her vulnerable friends. Willow is knocked out and trapped under some fallen bookshelves, and Xander ends up unconscious on the upper level. Cordelia is the only one able to escape. Drusilla enters and hypnotizes Kendra before slitting her neck. She falls to the ground, motionless. Drusilla says they should take what they came for, and leave. At that, the vampires drag away an unconscious Giles as Buffy bursts into the school. She rushes to the Library, finds Kendra's body, and takes her hand. She reaches to Kendra's face with her other hand and strokes it gently. As Buffy mourns her fellow Slayer, a police officer appears and tells her to freeze.
- This is Darla's first appearance since her death in the episode "Angel".
- Liam being sired by Darla marks the first siring on camera. The details surrounding Angel's siring are further expounded upon in the Angel episode "The Prodigal".
- Buffy and Willow discover Jenny's disc containing her translation from episode "Passion".
- Spike is shown to finally be fully healed from his ordeal in "What's My Line? Part Two", now able to walk and with his face rid of any wounds.
- Buffy is revealed to have shared many personality traits with Cordelia before she became the Slayer. In "Helpless", Buffy remarks that one of the only things that make her grateful about becoming the Slayer is that it made her a better person. Cordelia will feel similarly about herself after coming into the visions.
- When Giles reveals he has an Orb of Thesulah, he mentions that he's been using it as a paperweight. In "Passion", the Dragon's Cove owner told Jenny that he usually sold the relics to tourists as New-Age paperweights.
- When Willow proposes to try to perform the ritual, Giles warns her that she may be opening a door that can't be easily closed. Indeed, Willow will begin practicing seriously after this first ritual and grows steadily more powerful as the series progresses.
- Drusilla kills Kendra in a manner reminiscent of the way the Master killed Buffy: by hypnotizing her ("Prophecy Girl").
- Kendra's death activates a new Slayer, Faith Lehane ("Faith, Hope & Trick").
- Buffy and Xander's fight about whether or not Angelus should be killed for his crimes is much like the one they'll have about Anya in "Selfless", only the roles are reversed.
- A flashback shows Angel seeing Buffy for the first time, marking the beginning of their intertwined fates, and setting in motion the predestined "evolution" that they were supposed to complete (The Hero of His Own Story).
- This episode marks the second time a vampire is killed by immolation in sunlight, the first being Collin in "School Hard".
- This episode specifically reveals that Angel became a vampire two hundred an forty-five years prior to this episode, and received his soul one hundred years prior.
- In a flashback, Buffy misses the heart the first time she tries to stake a vampire, as she'll tell Dawn while training her in "Lessons".
- Whistler jokingly says Buffy was "prettier than the last one"; the Master said the same thing about her when first meeting in "Nightmares".
- When Buffy realizes that Angelus has lured her away from the library so that Giles can be captured, he points out that "she falls for it every single time." In "When She Was Bad", she followed a deceptive lead, allowing Willow and Giles to be kidnapped for the Master's restoration.
- Robert Berman (Only in flashbacks)
- Jennifer Calendar (Only mentioned)
- Cordelia Chase
- Darla (Only in flashbacks)
- Merrick Jamison-Smythe (Only in flashbacks)
- Rupert Giles
- Alexander Harris
- Daniel Osbourne
- Willow Rosenberg
- Buffy Summers
- Hank Summers (Only voice in flashbacks)
- Joyce Summers
- Lou Talbor (Only mentioned)
- Tyler (Only mentioned)
- Cameron Walker
- Kendra Young
- Sam Zabuto (Only mentioned)
- Kalderash man (Only in flashbacks)
- Kalderash girl (Only in flashbacks)
- Kalderash woman (Only in flashbacks)
- Liam's father (Only mentioned)
Organizations and titles
- Acathla's dimension (Only mentioned)
- Galway, Ireland (Only in flashbacks)
- London, England (Only in flashbacks)
- Romania (Only in flashbacks)
- United States
- Los Angeles (Only in flashbacks)
- New York City (Only in flashbacks)
Weapons and objects
- Angel's Impala (Only in flashbacks)
- Blessed sword
- Claddagh ring
- Miss Edith
- Mr. Pointy
- Orb of Thesulah
- Sunnydale Press
- Sword of Virtuous Knight
Rituals and spells
- Ritual of Restoration (Only in flashbacks)
- Three vampires, dusted by Buffy (only mentioned).
- Two vampires, dusted by Buffy.
- Angel, sired by Darla (in flashback).
- Unidentified priest, killed by Angelus (in flashback).
- Kalderash girl, drained by Angelus (in flashback).
- Old man, drained by Drusilla (only mentioned).
- Doug Perren, drained by Drusilla.
- Unidentified man, sacrificed by Angelus.
- Unidentified vampire, killed herself in sunlight.
- Vampire, dusted by Kendra.
- Kendra, throat slit by Drusilla.
Behind the scenes
- This line was cut for length:
- Whistler: "There are three kinds of people that no one understands: geniuses, madmen, and guys that mumble."
Goofs, bloopers & continuity errors
- In the 1996 flashback, the reflection of Angel's hand on the steering wheel can be seen in the side mirror.
- Christophe Beck — "As Angel Becomes"
- Christophe Beck — "Cursed"
- Christophe Beck — "Devil's Child"
- Christophe Beck — "Massacre"
- Christophe Beck — "Show Me Your World"
- "Becoming, Part One" received the Emmy Award of "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)".
- Armenian: "Վերափոխում (Մաս 1-ին)" (Transformation (Part 1))
- Czech: "Proměna (1. část)" (Transformation (Part 1))
- Finnish: "Tulevaisuuden avaimet, osa yksi" (Keys of the Future, Part One)
- French: "Acathla — Partie 1" (Acathla — Part 1)
- German: "Wendepunkte" (Turning Points)
- Hungarian: "Méltóvá válni, 1. rész" (Becoming Worthy, Part 1)
- Italian: "L'Inizio della Storia (1ª parte)" (The Beginning of the Story (1st Part))
- Japanese: "変貌 パート1" (Transformation Part 1)
- Polish: "Tożsamość Buffy (1)" (Buffy Identity (1))
- Portuguese (Brazil): "Metamorfose — Primeira Parte" (Metamorphosis — First Part)
- Romanian: "Devenire (Part 1)" (Becoming (Part 1))
- Russian: "Становление (Часть 1)" (Becoming (Part 1))
- Spanish (Latin America): "Renacer (Parte 1)" (Reborn (Part 1))
- Spanish (Spain): "La Transformación (I)" (The Transformation (I))
- A Deluxe action figure was produced based on Kendra in this episode.
- A Buffy the Vampire Slayer bust was produced based on Buffy in this episode.
- This episode's script is collected in "The Script Book: Season Two, Volume 4".
- This episode is included in The Buffy & Angel Chronicles VHS collection.
- This episode is included in The Best of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVD.
Behind the scenes
|Willow - "This means I won't be able to help you study for tomorrow's final."|
|Buffy - "Ah, I'll wing it. Of course if we go to Hell tomorrow I won't have to take 'em. Or maybe I'll be taking 'em forever."|
|Kendra - "In case the curse does not succeed, this is my lucky stake. I have 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."|
|Spike - "Let me guess, someone pulls out the sword ..."|
|Angelus - "Someone worthy."|
|Spike - "...The demon wakes up and wackiness ensues."|
|Drusilla - "He will swallow the world."|
|Angelus - "And every creature living on this planet will go to hell. My friends, we're about to make history... end."|
|Angelus - "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."|
|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."|
|Officer - (cocks gun) "Freeze!"|
|Whistler - "You'll see what I mean."|