I agree with your asssertion that Go Fish is a pretty decent episode, but its placement in the season was not well thought through. The Angelus arc in season two was pretty dark throughout, so I can't blame the producers for thinking we should stop for a pause before Becoming, as it was pretty relentless. I just wish they'd done something else really.
I don't know how much I agree with your thoughts on the attempted rape of Buffy. It's not something I gave much thought to when I first saw it, but you're right - the episode makes light of it. It is, in essence, a light episode though, so does that excuse it? I really don't know. Xander with speedos on certainly helps somewhat. Call me shallow.
What I do know, though, is that I was more bothered in season six when Spike attempted to rape Buffy. Yeah sure, he felt terrible, went off and got a soul after it all, but there seemed to be a total lack of followup to it in regards to the Buffy/Spike relationship. I suppose Seeing Red was a far more serious episode, during one of the most serious seasons of all. And season seven isn't reknowned for a depth of good writing.
Buffy shouldn't have been so quick to defend Spike all the time though.
But anyway, mostly I posted that because I thought I'd already posted a response a week ago, and then saw that I didn't when I saw the Becoming update!
Becoming is excellent. And yes, Becoming Part One is excellent in its own right too. I remember watching it years ago, which is the only time I saw part one before having to wait a week for part two. The assault on the Scoobies in the library is heartbeaking; Kendra's death gets to me way more than it should for a small character! But the Buffy universe just isn't a safe place to live. The police shout of "FREEZE!" at the end was the perfect cliffhanger.
I really thought Xander was a jerk in this episode back when, even though he was totally right in his feelings. After everything that Angelus has done to them, Xander was right to be skeptical. But at the time, I couldn't help but wish for my dream ending of the scoobies giving Angel his soul back and Buffy getting back with him.
Absolute trash! I mean that's how it eventually wound up, but how we got there was far more interesting than my crappy 15/16 year old wishes!
The episode is brilliant setup for the next part, which is just as emotionally involving. Can't wait for your next review!